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Work Safety, Accidents’ Causes and Prevention Essay

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Updated: Jul 22nd, 2020


Research Background

Since the Stone Age, man has often made his works, easier, efficient and effective through the use of tools, machines and equipment. Even with the better production processes and methods attached to the items, come hazards on the user of these items. These range from simple scratch to possible fatalities.

The rate and severity of damage caused by an accident at work place seem to increase as an organization size increases. In large organizations, several activities have to be put together to attain a given goal. Several activities mean that large and coordinated workforce has to be in place. It is this interaction among people and between people and systems that results to accidents. (Proctor & Zandt, 2008)

Crichton (2008) highlights that minimization of accidents in work place has been a goal that has always accompanied productivity. In as far as an economic entity is to produce, it should be done at minimal accidents occurrence. It therefore, calls for establishment of a safe environment which lessen the chances of an accident happening.

Safety in work place has been on one of the most contentious issues, attracting ubiquitous confrontations between management and those in operational levels. Even as an organization purports to economically operate, it can not ignore the welfare of the most important assets it possesses -human resource. It is also factual that these people will not be able to operate in solitary, devoid of machines and equipment. The safe interaction between the people and machinery should be at the heart of every organization.

Problem statement

An accident, injury or death caused to an employee or any other person by the mechanical nature of a business, means a consequent financial loss to the company and the victim or the victims dependants. So much is paid to insurance companies, usually corresponding to the magnitude of likelihood of accident occurrence in an organization.

Damage which accrues to a particular accident has incidental negative financial loss to the business. This comes from the repair expense to be incurred or the damage that happens to the products in process at the inopportune time. These losses can be reduced if management put in place sufficient safety measures in mechanical areas among other areas. In establishing and maintaining safety in work place, a business should identify the major cause of the accidents in its systems of operations. This study assessed the major causes of accidents across the business fraternity and suggested recommendations that would help curb situations from occasioning or alleviating damage that would occur.


Safety in work place is a wide area but this research project specialized on major causes accidents in workplace. Safety here emphasizes on the most vulnerable areas such as safety in points that involve motion of overall machine, part of it, the operator or goods undergoing processing. Other possibilities of accidents in workplace such as slippery floors, air conditioning, electricity accidents have also been considered.


The objectives of the study include;

  1. To evaluate the impact layouts, stress, aggression and violence, workload and types of machines on rate of accidents.
  2. To evaluate effectiveness of appropriate clothing to accident prevention
  3. To determine the effect of accident (insurance expense) on business financial performance


  1. Safety measure reduces the financial losses to a business.
  2. Given layouts of machines and equipment influence the rate of accidents in an organization.
  3. Inappropriate dressing and inadequate training accelerates the rate of accident in work setting.

Literature Review

This study builds on massive researches done by various scholars in academic institution and researchers in various organizations. Their allusions and insinuations in their publications may attract questions whose answers calls for a study as this one and comments to streamline the facts as presented in the work place away from concepts and theories (Mendez, 2011).

Theories and concepts

According to Huchner (2010) Systems portend the largest cause of accidents in work place. The nature of machines and equipment has a good take on frequency of accidents in a business. For instance the more a manual a machine is, the more the operator is prone to injuries caused by such a machine.

The human resources, at the same time do not escape the blame because of their imperfect nature and their Omni-exposure to erring (Whittingham 2004). The author delves much into theories and concepts, unearthing the level of weaknesses engulfing human being and how mistakes, ignorance, lapses and slips among others cause errors and consequent vulnerabilities. With the previous allusion that it’s the systems that cause accidents, the probability attributable to each the two causes still remain to be explored.

Hughes (2007) has a different look about the same issue. He focuses on losses that come with the accidents instead of the causes. In addition to loosing experienced expertise, time and products, a business incurs financial loss, underfunds its operations and as the vicious spiral whirls, its public image and general performance heads to a detrimental future.

It’s true that for a business to grow and maintain its going concern nature, the losses have to be kept at minimum while its operation are carried out in the most impeccable way. This can be done by preventing any interruptions fathomable (Apgar, 2000). It is always better to deal with the root of a problem, which in this study happens to be causes of perils at the work place. Ultimately losses will be minimized –the very goal of any business.

Conceptual framework

Various items are known to cause accidents in areas where machines and equipment are used. Due to the scope of this study, dressing, training, machines types and their layouts are considered. Their impacts were measured with regard to their contribution to the workplace accidents and the resultant financial losses.

Independent variables
  • protection dressing
  • training levels
  • work stress
  • work load and multitasking
  • types of machines
  • layouts
  • aggression and violence
Dependent variables
  • Work place accidents
  • Financial losses
  • productivity


To be able to come up with the data and subsequent analysis, historical data from a sample of selected companies were to be collected. A sample of 15 companies in was selected on convenience basis to represent the larger picture of situation in the entire businesses world.

The chosen companies also represent the two types of business sector, that is, manufacturing and service sectors. It is from these companies’ databases of work place accidents that information on aforementioned independent variables was collected for analysis.

From the warehouse of data and statistics, this study identified what each of the fifteen companies identifies as the major cause of accidents in its workplaces.

Results and Discussion


Causes of accidents Frequency probability
Inappropriate dressing 1 0.067
Inappropriate layouts of machines 2 0.133
Stress 4 0.267
Workload and multitasking 3 0.200
Aggression and violence 3 0.200
Inadequate training 1 0.067
Others 1 0.067
totals 15 1.000

Data Analysis and Discussion


According to the data collected from the statistics of representative companies it is seen that, stress scores highest as the major cause of accidents in the work place. Various post –accidental investigations by the companies reveal a significant similarity on accidents resulting from human error; the causing agent, and most of the times the victim, erred because he was stressed up and did an action irresponsibly. At least 26% of companies attribute major causes of accidents at workplace to stress.

The results seen here are supported by Lee (1997) who explains succinctly the impacts of stress in work place. He reiterates that stress not only lead to lowered productivity but also is a major cause of accidents. The temporarily blinded and exhausted mind is bound to fail in coordinating other human faculties and therefore irrational activities that lead to accidents. When sober and devoid of stress, one is bound to not only carry out ones duty as required, but also be cautious of any latent dangers ones workplace exposes one and others to.

Workload and Multitasking

Workload refers to the amount of work that a worker is supposed to do in a given time. Multitasking is an aspect of workload defined by the number of different activities a worker is bound to do in a given period of time.

From the statistics collected it is seen that a significant proportion (20%) of companies mention these as the cause of accidents in their workplaces. Such companies cite exhaustion and lack of specialization as the forces behind workplace accidents. This is prevalent in businesses which are under the manufacturing sector where individual are involved in strenuous activities, which wears off the ability of these people to handle more work. Service industry is not exempted but it reports comparatively lower cases.

Inappropriate Dressing

It has been noted that poor dressing is a major cause of accidents in some companies. 6.7% of companies, most companies, especially those that produce chemical or use chemicals in their operations, face accidents emanating from poor dressing. This means that workers do not use the approved protective clothes and end up contacting chemical or inhaling the poisonous fumes.

Inappropriate layouts of machines

Machines especially those that are in motion have been identified to cause accidents too. 20% of the sample elements identified this as a major cause of accidents in their workplaces. When machines are place in areas where people moving to and fro, their activities are a hazard to these people. This is aggravated by the nature of machines. Manual, rotating and cutting machines cut the limbs of many in organizations while belts are known to grab people by their loose clothes or hair and dragging them along causing serious injuries.

Inadequate Training

This is a major cause of accidents, according to this study, for 6.7% of companies. Companies here mention that those that do not have enough experience or have not attained adequate training are the major cause of accidents in work places.

Aggression and violence

These come around due to poor relations among employee. A fifth of the companies have aggression and violence as their major cause of accidents in work places. Fighting or negligence as a result or disagreements leads to the unpalatable outcomes accidents (Gunningham & Johnston, 1999).


Companies in this category were unable to identify any major cause of accidents in their organization. Instead, their identified several causes such as the ones mentioned as well as others, for instance, malicious motives of some individuals, weather and other catastrophe.


As stated earlier, accidents in work place have tremendous consequences both to the workers and the company. Even though accidents cannot be completely eliminated, safety measures and mechanisms can be employed to reduce the frequencies of these incidents occurrences and their severity as well. The following may serve as some of guidelines to curbing accidents in workplace;

  1. A company should, through the available means, ensure that the relationship among its employees is healthy, provide appropriate protection to its workers, give the proper orientation and training before deploying personnel to task. The company should also install their machines in location that do not expose workers and attach to these machine easily comprehensible warning labels in places where they can be seen. Precautions should be well explained during training and whenever need arises.
  2. Potential hazards such as naked electric wire, chopping blades, rotating part and moving belts should be handled with much care. Harmful emissions in workplace should be prevented by regular checks of emission pipes and cylinders. Harmful liquid and other chemical should be transported in tightly sealed containers (Killham & Krueger, 2007).
  3. All the precautions usually considered trivial should be observed. These include avoiding spilling liquids on the floor, aerating workplaces by providing ventilation, disposing off broken object and anything that may cause tripping.
  4. Companies should strive to ensure that each of its employees is well emotionally. They need to combat the eminent stress that would results from conflicts from home or at work place. This can be done by incorporating relaxation moments in the course of job and promoting games, for instance, after work. This will mean there will be no buildup of stress.


According to studies, safety in the workplace is a fundamental issue which should occupy a good deal of business’ strategic debates. Cases of accidents cost a company detrimentally contributes to financial losses and even fall of some businesses. The amounts paid for insurance as well as other compensations add up to additional expenses that can be reduced by implementation of safety in workplace.

Safe working environment is a source of motivation to workers, an incentive for efficient and effective processes and an ingredient that lures qualified employees while acquiring and retaining customers. Positive public image thus assumed, widens the market and improve public relations.

Still, with the understanding that it is hard to get rid of risks, the organization will require efforts to maintain their combatant urge against accidents in the workplace. It is with these efforts that going concern will be able to plan, forecast and attain their goals since minimal contingencies will exist.

This project paper indicates that business operations are prone to differing likelihoods of accidents occurrence. It is also seen that an organization has a role to play in reducing these accidents. Appreciating safety in work place for serene and economical operations, calls for everyone to be a part of the effort.


Apgar, M. (2000). The alternative work place. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.

Crichton, M. (2008). Safety at sharp end. Burlington: Ashgate publishing Company.

Gunningham, N., & Johnston, R. (1999). Regulating workplace safety: Systems and sanctions. New York: Oxford University Press.

Huchner, P. (2010). Work safety practices: Staff safety and Management. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.

Hughes, P. (2007). Introduction of health and safety in production. Burlington: Elsevier Publishers.

Killham, E., & Krueger, J. (2007). At work: feeling good at the workplace. New York: Gallup press.

Lee, D. (1997). The hidden cost of trauma in work place: The John Liner Review, 11(3), 33-38.

Mendez, A. (2011). Compensation: Health Insurance. New York: W. W. Wiley & Sons Company.

Proctor, R. W., & Zandt, V. (2008). Human efforts in simple and complex systems. Boca Raton: CRC press.

Whittingham, R. (2004). The blame machine: Why human errors cause accidents. Burlington: Elsevier Butterworth Heinemann.

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