Concept Of Zero Injury Research Paper



The concept of zero injury involves a culture in which most companies are now aiming at attaining a reduced rate of injury in the workplace. Zero injury does not imply no injuries will occur rather it emphasizes that there is the need to have longer durations without injuries (Ghormely, 2010). This program requires organizations to train employees on how to work in a safe manner. This requires observation of the safety policy of the company. This has to be in line with the existence of well-set rules to guide on how to set safety measures. According to Smith (2010),Adolfson & Peterson Construction observes such a policy. The employees in this institution are aware of their rights and hence they can demand for it. It is crucial to carry out pre-planning procedures on safety before carrying out any construction work. The field teams are adequately trained (OSHA training) to educate them on basic measures and precautions. Safety goes beyond the limits of the work environment to incorporate a holistic safety lifestyle, even in the worker’s leisure activities.
The management should also formulate an articulate emergency action plan that can be adhered to in case of any emergency. This is usually implemented hand in hand with a thorough accident reporting and investigation policy (Smith, 2010). As part of the controls, construction firms should have regular and impromptu safety audits to ensure that all persons working for the construction company observe the necessary safety rules. Furthermore, organizations should arrange to make sure that there are sufficient controls. This includes fire alarms systems that will alert employees in case of sudden fires. This helps to prevent the occurrence of accidents that usually occur in case of such emergencies. Sufficient investigations should be done to follow up on past accidents that have occurred in the workplace. Findings from such investigations can then be used to create a safer environment in the workplace. This is included in the firm’s policies in the form of written safety programs to act as incentives to employees.

Importance of the Concept of Zero Injury

The direct and indirect costs of construction injuries have a significant economic impact. According to Hallowell (2011), in 2004, the cost of 1,194 deaths was estimated at $1,150,000 per each death. Further, in the year 2006, the national safety council reported that the cost of 460, 000 disabling injuries were estimated at $15.64 billion (Hallowell, 2011). Such costs tend to have a significant impact especially on new firms that are starting the construction business. This eventually has a negative impact on the Gross Domestic Product. Lack of compliance with safety procedures and poor training generate a high injury rate in the construction industry (Wilkins, 2011).
It is extremely crucial for an organization in the construction industry to observe a zero injury policy due to the need of maintaining the employees’ welfare. Supervisors and managers ought to be especially keen when it comes to observing safety precautions. An example is given of ensuring the guard of a grinder is replaced or intact prior to any construction progress. Injuries in the construction industry are mostly avoidable. Very few of them occur as a consequence of the nature. Neglect and ignorance usually cause workers and managers responsible to fail to recognize potential pitfalls as the construction work continues (Ghormely, 2010). This is especially crucial due to the role of trade unions in protecting of employees’ rights.Furthermore, employees may be unaware of the risk factors that exist in the course of the work process. A zero injury policy helps to promote the work span of an employee by ensuring he is not hurt while working. It is the employer’s responsibility to create a safe work environment with a minimum number of risks. Implementation of a zero injury policy helps to reduce instances of accidents, consequent claims, and health bills that usually accompany such accidents. The existence of a working and versatile zero injury policy that addresses the welfare and well-being of the employees also promotes the morale of employees. This is because they feel valued, esteemed, and appreciated by the management.
It also reduces instances of strife and strikes by the employees. This has the effect of increasing the efficiency of the workers in the construction industry. It also reduces time wastage since it avoids the need of having numerous investigations for the many accidents that occur. It also promotes the organization in the workplace. This is especially because a zero injury policy advocated for the removal of idle equipment from the construction site. The firm also markets itself to potential clients. Smith (2010) explains how Adolfson and Peterson attracted more developers and property owners by just implementing the zero injury policy. Such clients prefer contractors who will attract minimal liabilities. The implementation of a zero injury policy is a strong indicator of the ability of the firm to follow up as far as quality satisfaction is concerned. This increases the market base and hence the sales revenues of the construction firm.
The zero injury policy was motivated by the increase in accidents, in the construction industries. This resulted in serious injuries that maimed some employees hence ending their careers. Furthermore, firms started receiving numerous lawsuits accusing them of negligence, as far as protection of the employees’ welfare is concerned. The government and also the private sector saw the need to controls in a bid to solve the upheavals that were slowly rising in the construction industry. The industries were advised to set strict rules as far as personal protective equipment is concerned. This part of the preplanning should be done by all construction companies (Hinze and Wilson, 2000). The construction industry is known to be a risky industry that is prone to numerous accidents. The industry was receiving negative publicity due to the high number of deaths and injuries that were associated with it. Most countries are yet to adopt automated systems that can be used in the construction industry. This change has also received resistance from trade unions that do not want the machines to be a prelude to the retrenchment of most of the labor force.
Injury prevention in construction firms becomes significant in terms of providing a competitive edge and financial stability. Bidding of constructions jobs requires that the constructions firms have safety measures in place and can provide a record of accomplishment of their safety performance. Further, having a strong safety record provides the firm with relatively low workers compensation premiums and low direct cost (Hallowell, 2011). Additionally, a strong safety record increases the competitiveness of the firm during the bidding process (Hallowell, 2011).
Therefore, the construction industry has a large labor force as its employees. These employees are highly exposed to many risk factors while working. Thus, it is necessary to try to mitigate these risks or to set measures to reduce the intensity of the accidents that occur through the simple implementation of basic guidelines. For any zero injury policy to work, it is vital for the top management to be on board the plan. Workers should also be encouraged to accept the new policies and trained on the necessities that comprise the policy. The government plays a supervisory role in the implementation of a zero injury policy through the creation and enforcement of the appropriate laws.

Literature Review

One of the main debates, which have arisen in the implementation of a zero injury policy, has been the role of the organization in ensuring the injuries that occur are kept at a minimum. This is closely related to the level of responsibility that each of these parties will be subjected to in case an accident involving an injury (or even a death) occurs. The government has tried to intervene in as far as this issue is concerned. However, their role is limited only to the creation and enforcement of rules. Insurance companies are forced to liaise with organizations in the determination of the amount of compensation a victim of an accident that occurs in the workplace should receive.
Most firms look for cheap alternatives when it comes to the setting up of a highly safe work environment, which will eventually result in achievement of the goals of the zero injury policy. This means that a construction firm may just implement some shoddy controls that do not substantially enhance the safety levels. However, on the flipside organizations may try their level best to implement sufficient controls against accidents, fires and other emergencies only for employees to increase the risks. This can be through substantial drug abuse such that employees carry out life-threatening mistakes. In such instances, the level of liability of the firm may be reduced. However, this poses a strong point of discussion with employers and employees being two opponents on either side of the disagreement.
One of the most notable things that influence the concept of zero injury in the construction industry is the belief of the injuries not occurring. To ensure that such a policy is implemented effectively, there is a need to ensure that the employees and managers as well have the mindset that injuries will not occur (Hessler, 2005). It becomes essential for management in a construction firm to provide the necessary cultural platform where all workers perform their duties in a safe manner (Nelson, 1998). The managers and employees need to understand that even if the injuries do occur, it is not necessary that they do. However, this perspective requires a complete reprogramming of the mindset of the managers and employees in the organization. This then is faced with certain obstacles. One of the obstacles is the numbers games. The process of setting goals is usually a big hindrance to the achievement of a zero injury concept. Most companies will set goals, which allow a certain number of injuries. The concept of zero injury implies that the numbers of injury has to be zero yet the goals set to reduce injury involve numbers that are normally higher than zero. According to Hinze and Wilson (2000), safety is no longer deemed a principle consideration in construction firms, but a value that is permanently enshrined among the firm’s core values. Construction workers or employees will approach work with the idea that a certain number of injuries is acceptable. Thus, they may reduce their attentiveness to performing work safely. Consequently, the construction firm may opt to sacrifice issues of safety in the interest of production (Nelson, 1998). Further, most organizations believe that achieving the concept of zero injury is impossible yet there are some few organizations which can attain this. Additionally, some organizations will challenge the idea that no organization can achieve the concept of zero injury unless they are manipulating their injury statistics.
Some managers may view concept of zero injury as affecting the production and increasing the cost incurred by the organization. Hessler (2005) indicates that the implementation of the concept of zero injury may compromise projects goals. The project schedules may be disrupted, and productivity may be reduced. In most cases, supervisors will insist on increasing production, and this consequently reduces the time required for a detailed planning of the project activities (Nelson, 1998). Inadequate planning implies that productivity suffers and likelihood of injuries occurring is high. However, this may be challenged in the sense that working in a safer environment is cost effective compared to an environment that is more prone to cause injuries. Serious injury or death may cause a reduction in the number of workers and may affect the morale of the workers. This reduces the level of productivity and may cost the organization in terms of recruiting new staff. Additionally, the organization has to incur the cost of compensating the worker and other claims that may not be provided by an insurance company.

Position on the Issue

Every construction firm should focus on attaining a zero policy on injuries. The success of the implementation of a zero injury concept lies solely on the organization and not on the insurance or an outside party. It becomes more of a cultural and philosophical issue that needs to be developed from within the firm itself. Further, firms need to research more on how injuries have contributed to the increasing cost incurred by most firms and how it would be cost effective for them if they would implement the concept of zero injury. Additionally, the insurance company of the firm may necessitate that the firm will have to avoid some types of injuries since they may not be covered in the contract. This may prove to be difficult unless the main goal of the firm is a zero injury policy.
Any successful implementation of the concept of zero injury will require top management to be involved fully. Top management has a more influential role in changing the mindset of other workers towards developing a zero injury program. Initiating training programs on how to achieve zero injuries in the construction firms may be a start but is not sufficient to ensure the success of the training program. Wilkins (2011) indicates that it is beneficial to perform an evaluation of understanding of the workers perception of the concept of zero injury training, which will aid in developing a more effective safety education program for the firm. Good safety practices are critical to ensuring a zero injury policy is effective. Additionally, it is vital for workers to have the ability to retain relevant information they have gained from the safety education programs. Most of the workers employed in the construction industry have less professional experience. Therefore, they will require more training and education if the concept of zero injury is to be achieved.
Management also needs to use or provide examples of companies that have been able to achieve zero injuries, which will help in breaking the myths that achieving zero injuries is impossible. For instance, Consigli Construction Company achieved a zero injury target during their one-year Cranston Street Armory Project (OSHA, 2009). Further, management needs to note the implementation of safer approaches may require newer technologies that are aimed at reducing risks.

Implications for Public Policy, Private and or Public Practice and Legislative Initiatives

The implementation of concept of zero injury will require significant changes to be implemented in the construction industry. This necessitates the need for restructuring to maximize productivity. One of the significant changes that need to be considered is reducing the workload of the workers. This is aimed at achieving efficiency and at the same time promotes safety. Routine checks of the various jobs sites by safety personnel may provide more insight and help in developing newer and more efficient policies that promote safety standards on sites (Hinze and Wilson, 2000).
Managers also need to take into account that the implementation of zero injury policy should be oriented in changing the cultural and philosophical orientation of the workforce towards safety. Information regarding safety needs to be provided in most of the construction sites. This can be implemented through posters that emphasize the significance of safety and it being a core goal of the construction firm. Communication is central to ensuring that the concept of zero injury reaches all the workers. Other means that construction companies can implement to ensure efficient communication is setting aside weekly safety meetings through which workers are provided with new safety information and standards that are being developed by the relevant authorities (Smith, 2010).
Some organizations are implementing other approaches such as mentoring, in an effort to achieve zero injuries. New employees are normally more prone to suffer injuries and mentoring can be an effective way to reduce these injuries while promoting the importance of safety (Occupational Health Management, 2010).
It becomes essential for construction firms to develop new ways of evaluating their performance based on the achievement of zero injuries. Construction firms need to focus on increasing or having longer injury free rates than injury free periods. This has a higher chance of providing an actual zero injury rate (Clemens, 2005)
Policy makers and lawmakers need to take into account the literacy levels of the construction workers while developing policies on safety. According to Wilkins (2011), most accidents are caused by human factors. The safety legislation needs to be developed to have more credibility and relevance in the different aspects of the construction jobs. Difficulty in understanding safety legislation makes it difficult for the workers to accept whether the safety legislation was developed to help them or work against them. Furthermore, there is need to be a review of the OSHA 1989 guidelines, which are still being used in reviewing of a contractor’s safety and health management systems to ensure that they are updated and confirm to the recent developments in technology (OSHA, 2009). Therefore, any new laws being developed need to be understandable by the nonprofessional construction worker (Wilkins, 2011). Training strategies need to be developed based on the demographic of the workforce (Wilkins, 2011). Online training programs are available from the OSHA website. One of the recommended training programs offered by OSHA includes the OSHA Construction Outreach training that trains anyone on safety issues in the construction industry. Applications of adult learning theories thus become important when educating the nonprofessional workforce of the constructions firms (Wilkins 2011).


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