The Top Four

I have recently read a publication titled, “ Fatalities Caused by Improper Work Practices” written by Mr. Mark Rossow, on the fatal accidents in the construction industry of the United States of America as gathered from the website of Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) in 2011.

Mr. Rossow talked of the Fatal Four, the leading causes of fatal accidents in the said industry in the USA as: 1) Falls; 2) Struck by Objects; 3) Electrocutions and last but not the least, 4) Caught-In-Between. It was an impressive list of accidents and the factors that led to them, although reading it all was rather disconcerting for the simple reason that I am not only reading facts, but people’s lives cut short.

And then I got to thinking.

Is their Fatal Four the same in the Philippines as well?

Well, from the data I got from the DOLE website, there are NO available data on the top causes of fatal accidents in the construction industry per se. What I got instead is data on the top causes of accidents but they do not distinguish between those that lead to fatalities or to just days lost. These accident causes are grouped according to four survey periods by the DOLE. I call them the TOP FOUR. They are:

Year 2000 2003 2007 2009 2011 2013
Struck/striking by/against Object 8726 8104 6167 4620 7466 84
Caught In Between 4366 4015 3943 3772 3959 97
Struck by Falling Objects 2566 2283 2088 1331 1878 84
Over-exertion or strenuous movements 2212 2814 1494 1512 1459 140

From these alone, we can see how “Struck /striking by/against By Object” dominates the charts since the year 2000 to 2011, while “Caught In Between machineries, equipment, vehicles or any object” takes number 2. Compared to the US data; Electrocutions (their Top 3) is ranked 6th in our country while Falls (their no. 1) in only 5th here. Data on these two causes show the following:

Year 2000 2003 2007 2009 2011 2013
Falls 1606 1579 1787 1707 2582 50
Electrocutions 370 475 480 367 13

Anyone looking at these numbers may notice that the numbers are greatly down for the 2013 period! Could it be that there is greater consciousness of the hazards in the industry that is why the figures have gone down? Are efforts, both by the government and the private sector, finally bearing fruit?

But we must also remember that each figure represents a human being who has been hurt by an injury at work.
I feel that more and more people nowadays are increasingly becoming more aware of the value and necessity for occupational safety and health. This is especially true among businesses and establishments. Yet, this has yet to trickle down to our workers, the main beneficiaries of OSH.

Which is why OSH advocates (like me) has since become more aggressive in propagating OSH. We write, we inform, we use social media (FB, Twitter, blogs, etc.) a lot to put our ideas across to as many people as possible. Others in our rank train, inspect equipment to ensure they are safe, monitor contaminants in the workplace, while others provide engineering and other solutions to OSH issues. People360 Consulting Corp. are in all of these. Setting the business aspect aside, their people are passionate OSH advocates with this aim at the back of their minds- workers should not die or suffer unnecessarily in hazardous and risky conditions and circumstances that are mostly preventable.

And by the way, another English word for “work” is “livelihood”. So why should workers die or suffer just because they are engaged in their “livelihood’?