EDITORIAL: Never neglect safety
Mario CywinskiHealth & Safety Aerospace Automotive Energy Government Machine Building Manufacturing Metals Resource Sector Transportation Utilities accidents Association of Workers’ Compensation Boards of Canada Canadian industries editor pick harmful substances manufacturing and utilities Never neglect safety systemic diseases trades transport and equipment operators transportation accidents traumatic injuries
Maintenance Notebook Editorial in June 2023 issue of MRO.
The Association of Workers’ Compensation Boards of Canada (AWCBC) publishes lost time, injury, and fatality reports through its National Work Injury/Disease Statistics Program (NWISP).
Doing a deep dive into the statistics for 2021 (the most recent available), we found that of the approximately 20 Canadian industries covered, manufacturing had the second most fatalities, with construction being the only industry to have more.
In all, 1,081 total fatalities were reported. With trades, transport and equipment operators and related occupations accounting for nearly half (537), and occupations in manufacturing and utilities next at 120. The vast majority of injuries were exposure to harmful substances or environments with 728 fatalities.
Other causes were contact with objects and equipment (80), falls (60), and transportation accidents (137). As exposure to harmful substances is the main reason for fatalities, it is no surprise that the majority of fatalities are caused by neoplasms, tumors, and cancer (401), and systemic diseases and disorders (329); with what we would term to be ‘accidents’ or traumatic injuries and disorders accounting got the majority of the rest (322).
Fatalities are not as common, but they do happen, and in many cases are the reason for change within a company. However, lost time claims, which do not garner the same headlines, but are just as important to safety, are much more common.
According to the NWISP data, 277,217 lost time claims were recorded in 2021. With manufacturing once again placing second (37,655), this time behind the heath care and social assistance industry (67,685).
This is significant, as contact with objects and equipment (55,575) is the second leading cause of lost time claims. While the data does not specifically break down how many of these claims were related to maintenance work on machines, it is safe to say that incidents while doing maintenance work contribute to the number. Additionally, unlike fatalities, lost time claims were led by traumatic injuries and disorders (210,990).
What does this all mean for the manufacturing industry, and more specially, maintenance and reliability?
Putting it in perspective, when MRO asked its readers how important do you believe safety is at your company? Zero per cent said not important. With 60 per cent saying it is of utmost importance, 23 per cent saying it is important, and 10 per cent saying it somewhat important. Eight per cent said other.
What this shows is that everyone believes safety is important, with many going above and beyond to make sure their company is as safe as possible, while others may only do what they are required to do through legislations or standards. The latter group fail to see that this may be a short sighted vie. As not spending money on safety may help your bottom line in the short term, if an accident or fatality happen, and your company is found to be negligent and at-fault, the bottom line will be much worse off.
Keep in mind that safety spans many different aspects, with each needing to be thoroughly examined, and in turn turned into a safety program at your company. However, the key is to make sure that the procedures outlined in the program are followed, and any infractions are documented. The key for many companies is training, to make sure that their employees (and contractors) know what the policies and procedures are while on the premises.
Be sure to read our safety articles within this issue to help you be the safest you can be.