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The "win-win" of cutting lost-time accdients. Could card tables and Hudson Bay blankets help?


For years my father worked as personnel manager at a pulp and paper plant. One of his obsessions was reducing lost-time accidents. His main weapons in this battle were card tables, sets of carving knives, Hudson Bay blankets and a host of other similar items. He used them as annual reward for the entire workforce of about 150 for each year the plant was accident free. His run lasted 11 years and earned him the gratitude of the workers who coveted the annual prize and of upper management who saved a bundle by keeping everyone on the job.

Work accidents are a major source of physical and economic trauma. A four year Ontraio government program launched on April 1, 2004, reduced the number of annual work accidents by 57,000 or 20% of 285,000 incidents a year prior to that. The reduction saved employers $5 billion in direct and indirect costs.

Yesterday, the government set up a panel of experts on workplace accident reduction who are to report back to the Minister of Labour with recommendations this fall.

One of the areas the panel will consider is the success of "inspection blitzes" in accident prone areas. This year the provinces 430 inspectors have carried out blitzes on fork lift accidents and industrial falls. IN 2009 targeted areas included electrical safety, vehicle body repair and chemical hazards.

Few doctors and nurses need be reminded of the need for programs like this one. The Ontario government should be commended. For more on workplace accidents in Ontario go to the excellent site at http://www.labour.gov.on.ca/english/hs/sawo/index.php.

My only surprise was that I didn't see any mention of card tables or carving knives as rewards the employees of companies that go accident free for a year.




1 comments:

said...

RE: workplace accidents

The personnel manager was " managing personnel" through positive reinforcement and reward.

Somewhere between rewarding people for "expected performance" there is a place for employers to use existing budgetary items to accomplish some of the same results.

That budgetary item is in " repairs and maintenance"(R&M). There are few workplace accidents where there is not damage to capital assets for the company as well during the incident.
There is a dollar amount there (R&M) that could be pledged to be channeled more on the " maintenance side of the scale. Then every employee would benefit.

To effect that simply inform the personnel that the monthly repair and maintenance budget is up for discussion on how to equip the workplace itself with easier to use/better equipment using dollars formerly allotted to repair/ replace damaged equipment.

In this way all of the employees benefit versus simply having a windfall for a few.

I have seen this work in both:

+ building bridges between layers of authority through participation at the partnership level ( albeit in a small, non invasive way)

+ protecting the health & safety record for Quality Assurance ratings and 'realtime' health of the worker