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Zero work accidents – a Utopia?

Zero work accidents. Let me write that with the number. 0 work accidents. That makes an impact, doesn’t it? It makes us feel satisfied about a job well done, right?

That’s because many times zero is a number that we don’t like a lot, but when it accompanies certain indicators it’s a magic number, as in the case of accidents, where it is the best conceivable number because people’s health and well-being are involved.

And it is difficult to achieve.

In Rieusset we have been working to achieve this for a long time, but at present, and it pains me to say this, we are still far away from this goal. In fact, at times we have the feeling that we’ll never get there.

In 2013 we started to work on the Principle “SAFETY, QUALITY and EFFICIENCY” in order to establish in the organization that there is no higher priority than the well-being of the people who work here.

In 2014 we created the Labor Risk Prevention Department in order to make more operative what until then had been merely “complying with the law”. Of course we had been complying with the law for many years already, for example with workplace risk evaluations, noise measurements, chemical contaminants, etc., but it was simply a deposit in which we accumulated actions pending to be carried out and which never materialized.


cero accidentes ohsas 18001 rieusset zero work accidents

In 2015 we obtained OHSAS 18001 certification – which for those of you who are not familiar with it is an Occupational Health and Safety Management System.

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Many actions but few results with respect to the reductions of accidents.

We investigate all accidents, we do not let down our guard with regard to risks, we give importance to all accidents, we insist to our workforce about the procedures they must follow, we give training sessions about safety aspects such as the use of PPE, load handling and many more.

We even work on the little incidents in order to reduce the likelihood of accidents, as postulated by H. W. Heinrich in the so-called “Heinrich’s Law” back in 1931 and about which I talked to you in my post “Those little things”.

So, what is going wrong? Why are we not reducing the number of accidents?

Undoubtedly there are still things we are not doing right, and in our search for solutions we have found a pearl that has shed light on the situation – for the time being we cannot talk about results – regarding aspects we can improve.

zero work accidents utopia rieusset cero accidentes

The book by Joan Vicenç Duran titled “Cero accidentes ¿Una utopía? (Zero accidents – A Utopia?) is where we have found a multitude of ideas to focus on the problems we are still having in order to reduce accidents.

I won’t list all the ones we found in the book because they are endless, nor will I do this because at the end of the book itself there is a glossary of ideas on Safety, but I do want to tell you about the ones that have caused us to reflect, and which we think can give us results after they are applied.

  • Getting the safety messages through to all plant employees clearly. Information does not always circulate clearly along the chain of command, and in order to avoid a loss of information in aspects such as this one, where information should flow unhindered, it is best to speak directly with the persons involved.
  • Implicating everyone in the achievement of objectives. It is not a company objective. It is not a departmental objective. We must all work toward Safety. If we all put on our Safety glasses, among all of us we will be able to deal with the incidents mentioned earlier and lower the frequency with which accidents happen. We need the participation of EVERYONE.
  • No accidents can be attributed to bad luck. “Laziness is one of humanity’s most prevalent defects, which together with uncontrolled confidence becomes a source of many errors and the origin of many accidents.
  • Improvisation is the enemy of Safety.
  • Giving the team a more important role. A boss with an excessively important role will make no one dare to take initiatives.
  • Safety is not only prevention, not only technique; SAFETY is ATTITUDE, without belittling aptitude or ability. Review the post on “Attitude” published in this blog.

This makes you reflect, doesn’t it? Our answer is a categorical yes, because being closed in ourselves can sometimes lead us to not seeing beyond the trees, and an outside view helps us remove our limitations and let us consider things we can improve. And this is what we hope to achieve in the near future and which we will communicate to you in a new post after the results have materialized.

We would like to end with a quote cited by the author in his book, and which we additionally link to the Principle of “SAFETY, QUALITY and EFFICIENCY” that we follow in Rieusset because it gives us the hope of not being too far off course. The quote is from the book “Customer comes second” by Hal F. Rosenbluth and Diane McFerrin and it says: “Make the people in your company your first priority; they will make the customer their first priority all by themselves”.

Now do you think that zero work accidents is a Utopia?

Jordi Lopez
jordi.lopez@gerosagroup.com