February 2016

Hi there!

Have you ever wondered why accidents happen?

What is it about people, an office, or a work scenario that causes accidents? The US Census Bureau reported that the following general categories of causes resulted in fatal work injuries:

  • Transportation — 43%
  • Assaults & violent acts — 16%
  • Contacts with objects — 17%                                                                                                     
  • Falls — 12%
  • Exposure to harmful substances or environment — 8%
  • Fires — 3%
  • Other — 1%

Crane accident that occurred February 5th, 2016


Some of the factors associated with accidents and loss have been identified as those relating to management style and beliefs, human resource policies, operational procedures, and storage of supplies and merchandise. Let us examine how each of these factors contributes to workplace accidents.

Management style and beliefs

The way a manager approaches obligations, and the beliefs about personnel and the nature of work affect the way in which the person manages. Managers, as leaders, work within two dimensions — 1) attention to task (i.e., what needs to be done), and 2) attention to relationships (i.e., interaction with subordinates). A manager's beliefs about what really matters has a great impact on how she or he chooses to exert leadership. The issue of safety and the costs of accidents and injuries generally are not apparent to managers unless their organization provides clear data identifying these costs? And the financial impact of accidents and injuries on their chapter, department or, sometimes, on their individual performance evaluations. Some of the management styles and beliefs that contribute to breakdown in safety include:


Many managers believe that accidents are something that happen to other people, and therefore, workplace safety is not a priority. Without a genuine commitment to establishing and maintaining a culture of safety, management will try to remain ignorant of the cost of accidents and injuries. Worse yet — management knows too well how the reporting of claims will impact their workers' compensation insurance and has instituted a culture of intimidation in which employees and volunteers will be encouraged not to report injuries or accidents. They believe that no news is good news, and that by exerting their influence, they can suppress these reports. 

"Clueless" Managers

Yogi Berra once said, "Ignorance isn't what you don't know, it's what you know wrong." Managers who are clueless display a lack of understanding about the costs? CompensationHuman and financial — of injury, illness and unsafe conditions. Some managers do not even know that their nonprofit must obtain workers? Compensation insurance. Perhaps they think that if they ignore it long enough, it will go away. Refusing to address workplace safety issues can have devastating results — and could possibly destroy the nonprofit in the wake of a huge claim or lawsuit by a client or a member of the public.

Lack of Accountability

Managers, who are not held accountable for insurance costs, generally ignore the incidence of accidents, injuries and/or other claims. Their belief is: "We have insurance — who cares?" This attitude will not change unless there are significant and unpleasant consequences associated with it. A safety conscious nonprofit needs to start at the top, literally. The board of directors needs to adopt and enforce consequences for unsafe conditions.

Why Train?

It is important to educate all personnel about safety rules, workers' compensation and their duties and responsibilities in the workplace. The more education and training you give employees and volunteers, the more you will find that problems are reduced with injured workers.

Supervisors should be counseled on helping injured workers fill out the necessary workers' compensation forms along with keeping track of injured workers and their return to work.

While the insurance companies are required to provide certain information to injured workers explaining their rights and benefits, explanations and a little bit of nurturing from you will go a long way in having a satisfied employee rather than a disgruntled and insecure employee who worries about losing his or her job, not getting benefits, or wanting to “beat the system.” 

Plan for Everyone to Be Trained

Ensure that everyone in the workplace is properly trained, including: managers; supervisors; full-time, part-time and temporary employees; and volunteers.

Training schedules need to accommodate the nonprofit's program and staffing schedules. Sessions need to target new paid and volunteer staff and those who need refresher courses. They need to be flexible to accommodate new equipment or program safety considerations. 

Guidelines for Training

Allow only properly authorized and instructed employees or volunteers to do any job — provide detailed safety training customized for a specific job area.

- Make sure no employees do any job that appears unsafe — describe the factors that would make a job unsafe and provide guidelines for reporting the condition to the supervisor or management.

- Hold emergency preparedness drills for employees and volunteers — the training should include the nature of the drill and expectations for employee and volunteers during a drill

- Pay particular attention to employees or volunteers learning new operations to make sure they have the proper job skills and awareness of hazards — provide guidelines to for learning new tasks and describe expectations.

- Train supervisors and managers to recognize hazards and understand their responsibilities — provide guidelines for reporting and correcting hazards.

As always, I like to leave you with a quote….Don't learn safety by accident.