Are Workplace Injuries Accidental?

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When lots of people picture workplace injuries, they’re usually imagining someone or something tripping or falling. Yes: that’s usually how it happens. Most injuries that aren’t attributed to sheer exhaustion and overwork can be attributed to these kinds of seemingly random happenstances. You think you’re minding your own business working and then something collides with your head. You think you’re okay and then you end up losing your balance and paying for it for the rest of your life.

Lots of people think that these kinds of accidents are just that: accidents. They are so random and difficult to predict that people should just accept them as hazards of jobs like construction work in the first place, and that they’ll always be with us. It’s true that we’re probably never going to stop people from falling or dropping things, but we can at least make it less likely that these minor problems will cause major ones.

I tend to believe that something only counts as an accident if it was a complete coincidence. If you can see something coming and lots of factors that you ignored led to it, then you really need to stop treating it like it was proof of the randomness of life.

If the scaffolding at your construction site is falling apart, then people are going to fall, and falling tools are going to injure other people. Just because it didn’t happen for a while doesn’t mean that it was ever safe. Most of the workplace injuries that I’ve seen on the job happened because of negligence like that. It also usually wasn’t the workers’ fault, even though they were the ones who usually absorbed all of the burden.

Workers are told that preventing accidents is their problem too often. There is only so much anyone can do with an unsafe work environment. Preventing workplace injuries is a group effort, which is all the more reason why there is nothing truly accidental about most injuries. A lot of people screwed up when they happen, and not just one at a time.