Work related accidents

Accidents in the workplace and at universities and other tertiary institutes

Industrial and occupational accidents

More thought is probably given to the prevention of accidents in industry and at work than in any other area. Safety engineering has done a tremendous job in cutting down the risks of injury even in hazardous employments, such as mining and quarrying. The human factor, however, remains the big uncontrollable element. Poor housekeeping in the shop and horseplay around machinery, for example, are important causes of industrial accidents. So also are improper use of machinery or other equipment and failure to use protective devices. It is significant that proportionately more people are killed working on farms, where they are more or less their own bosses, than working in factories. Because accidents cost money, organized safety work in industry has gone to great pains to identify accident-prone individuals before they hurt themselves or others. When industrial safety measures were first introduced, it was feared that safety measures, such as wearing goggles, would slow production and cut efficiency. It has turned out, however, that the safe way of doing a job is the most efficient way of doing it.

Tertiary Institution Accidents

Lest tertiary students think that problems of environmental health, safety, and occupational health are far removed from their immediate sphere of interest, they may be surprised to learn that only a small percentage of the nation's tertiary institutes including universities operate environmental health and safety programs whose purpose, obviously, is the conservation of the human and physical resources of the tertiary population. Few tertiary institutions even believe such a problem exists. As an example of tragic failure to face up to such problems it is worthwhile to describe a scene from the campus of mid western university.

Two students who were enrolled in a chemistry course took some chemicals from the laboratory which could be used to make smoke in their dormitory. The chemicals, mixed in the lab and placed in a small sealed jar, exploded when the jar was bumped. The student who bumped the jar was permanently blinded in both eyes. Reduction in the number of such accidents land other foolish university pranks like them] will be reflected in a reduction in the loss in time and money associated with these events.

Outdoor Accidents

Outdoor accidents unrelated to transportation continue on their fatal way every year. Sports accidents, for example, kill hundreds of men and boys over fifteen every year. Most of the deaths are accounted for by the so called milder sports: swimming, fishing, and hunting. Very few deaths, numerically speaking, result from rough or vigorous sports like football, boxing, wrestling, baseball, and auto racing. This is partly the good result of more adequate supervision of vigorous sports. Responsible coaches and athletic directors take it as their primary jobs to instruct team candidates in skills that will keep them from getting hurt. The first thing a football player must learn, for example, is how to fall properly. Unsupervised recreation is more likely to invite accidents.

Drowning make up the largest category of fatal outdoor accidents. These could be substantially reduced in number if poor swimmers and non-swimmers obeyed water safety rules and stayed out of deep water. Good swimmers most frequently drown when they attempt feats beyond their powers. The same psychology, incidentally, applies here as in motorcycle accidents, where the expert riders are more likely than the novice riders to try stunts leading to fatal accidents. Experience sometimes induces overconfidence and carelessness.