7

Safety

If your life is free of failures, you’re not taking enough risks.

Anon

How would you like a job where, every time you make a mistake, a big red light goes on and 18,000 people boo?

Jacques Plante (1929-86), Canadian Hockey Player

Each year hundreds of thousands of workers are seriously injured at work and many others are killed or permanently disabled from industrial accidents and incidents in the work environment. Although the number of industrial accidents in the developed world has continued to fall, some would argue that they are still too high and need to be reduced further. For example, in the US, work-related deaths have decreased from an annual rate of 14-15 per 100,000 of the population in the 1930s to 4-5 per 100,000 in the 1980s (National Safety Council, 1991). Interestingly, a larger number of deaths occur each year from non-work accidents. For example, 10,500 deaths occurred as a result of work accidents in 1990. This is in contrast to the 46,300 people who were killed in road accidents and the 21,500 who died in accidents in the home. The number of injuries does not have a similar pattern because there are more home injuries than work-related injuries, with the number of motor vehicle injuries trailing in third place. Like death rates, the 1.8 million people injured at work in 1990 was too high. The costs in terms of human suffering and misery, and to the employer in terms of medical expenses, insurance administration and loss of work, are considerable. Accidents and incidents, the concept of risk, and the role of human error are considered in this chapter in conjunction with regulations and other preventive measures to enhance safety.


Accidents and incidents

Defining accidents

On the 19th July 1989 a serious aircraft accident occurred. United Airlines Flight 232 crashed while attempting to land at Sioux City,

-137-

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Designing for Humans
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Tables viii
  • Figures ix
  • Preface x
  • Acknowledgements xiii
  • 1 - Human Factors 1
  • 2 - Humans: Capabilities and Limitations 20
  • 3 - Human-Machine Interaction 38
  • 4 - Work Environments 70
  • 5 - Organisational Issues 97
  • 6 - Occupational Health 118
  • 7 - Safety 137
  • Epilogue 163
  • References 166
  • Author Index 202
  • Subject Index 207
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