One morning a few years ago I was carrying out a safety audit in a plastics factory. I was adjacent to the moulding area of the factory when I heard a very loud bang nearby. This loud bang was immediately followed by several people shouting. I went closer to see if there was anyone hurt and to see if I could help. On arrival at the source of the noise I saw an engineer and two fitters standing near a plastics moulding machine.
I was told by the engineer that the following had happened. The three men had been scheduled to insert a reconditioned mould into a plastics injection moulding machine that morning. The reconditioned mould itself is a very large solid piece of metal that weighed perhaps half a tonne. The change procedure required lifting the mould with a chain block. Unfortunately, during the lifting operation the chain block failed and the mould came crashing to the ground causing the loud noise. Luckily nobody had been hurt during the mishap but all three people close by were a little startled to say the least !!
I asked the engineer if he would be investigating the accident. His answer was interesting “because no one was hurt – we don’t investigate”. I pointed out that if a recurrence happened there would be a very high risk of serious injury. Getting lucky on this occasion does not guarantee luck the next time !! and also the cost of further damage to equipment i.e. the mould. The engineer acknowledged this.
I then asked the engineer a financial (or risk management) question i.e. “How much would it cost to repair the mould?. The answer was VERY interesting to me – he said “not sure really – but the last time this happened it cost us €30k”.
For me an investigation and control measures were badly needed. Why? Because both the possibility of future serious injury and the high cost associated with a recurrence. In addition to the cost of the mould repair there was impact on production time !!
In this instance we did carry out an investigation and implemented a number of simple, cheap and practical control measures including checks on all loose tackle and lifting machines. The MD of the workplace was unaware of these hidden costs in his very high maintenance budget. He is now delighted to carry out such accident investigations.
Do you know about all the hidden costs of accidents in YOUR workplace?
Can you afford to ignore such accidents and associated costs?