Workplace safety is a topic of the utmost importance. Every year, millions of workplace injuries occur – many of which are preventable. The most recent News Release from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor reported that there were approximately 2.8 million nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses reported by private industry employers in 2017. This equates to an injury/illness rate of 2.8 cases per 100 full-time equivalent workers. Private industry employers reported nearly 45,800 fewer nonfatal injury and illness cases in 2017 compared to 2016. [1]

Of the industries reported, the highest incidence of nonfatal occupational injury and illness cases occurred at a rate of 10.9 (State government) in Nursing and residential care facilities. Second highest was Motor home manufacturing (10.3; Private industry), while third was Veterinary services (9.8; Private industry). [2] The incidence rates represent the number of injuries and illnesses per 100 full-time equivalent workers. [2]

One area which is important for decision makers to understand in preventing workplace injuries is Human Factors. Human Factors, as it relates to a workplace, can be defined as, “environmental, organizational and job factors, and human and individual characteristics, which influence behavior at work in a way which can affect health and safety.” [3] This definition includes three interrelated aspects: the job, the individual and the organization. [3] In other words, one can think of Human Factors as an interaction between what people are being asked to do, who is doing it, and where they are working. [3] At LISKE Accident & Injury Experts, we have defined Human Factors as the study of human capacity, behavior and performance as people interact with products, technology and their environment. [4]

In order to prevent workplace injuries, companies big and small alike will need to embrace technology – especially because human-robot interactions in the workplace are becoming commonplace. As such, an article recently published in Professional Safety details how Amazon has recently implemented a Robotic Tech Vest. In essence, the device helps robots recognize human presence, and avoid collisions. The ‘vest’ is equipped with obstacle avoidance systems and beacons that notify facility robot systems of human presence. In response, the robot slows down and avoids colliding with the human workers.[5] 

In summary, workplace safety is an important and complicated issue. Technology may help to make workplaces safer; however decision makers must always consider the interaction between the task, the worker and the organization.

Do not under match your causation expert; choose a LISKE Human Factors expert.

[5] Professional Safety. May 2019. American Society of Safety Professionals.