The invisibility of the Prevention of Occupational Hazards


What do you prefer, the invisibility or visibility of Occupational Risk Prevention? To be protagonist or actor of distribution? People who work every day in prevention of occupational risks we find a paradox that we must face, the better we do our work, the more invisible we are.
Unfortunately, the negative results of risk prevention (or their absence), are much more notable: Accidents / occupational diseases. This does have visible consequences, both for the management of the company and for all employees and their families:
– Loss of health
– Job absenteeism
– Production disruptions
– Economic losses (Direct and indirect costs of the accident / illness)

On the other hand, if the company has a solid preventive culture, the processes are well designed from the point of view of security, the command line is involved proactively and the employees do their work based on safe behaviors, we will decrease the probability Of these occur. It is the invisibility of preventive management. But this does not mean that the results are so obvious. We simply note that everything “runs normally.”
In general, we do not perceive that the effort we make in working safely has an immediate and palpable reward.

Let’s look at an example:
Shortly before finishing the work shift and finishing the last of the pieces he has to assemble, Luis sees the team he works with is stuck. He had only 10 minutes left to finish the piece. Know very well the protocol that has to follow:
– Stop the machine and register it.
– Notify your maintenance partner, who must use a platform to access the jammed piece.
– The maintenance team removes the part and checks that everything is in correct working order.
– Reset the machine
– Start up.

The piece must be finished today, so it will take an hour more than planned to complete the work planned for that day. Not to mention that the next day you must prepare a report detailing the incident and analyze the possible causes.


On the other hand, he knows the machine well and knows how to access the piece and unblock it himself, without having to follow the protocol. In 5 minutes, the machine will be operational again and will meet its production objectives without problem.
Let’s look at the situation. In the balance, two types of results. The key is the “Safe and Immediate” consequences, those are the ones that will have more weight in the employee’s choice. The safe and immediate consequences of the unsafe option are positive, while those of the safe option are negative. What weighs more?
Unsafe Option
Secure Option
Meet production objectives – Safe and immediate
Finish an hour later – Safe and immediate
Finish on time – Safe and immediate
Failure to meet production time objectives – Safe and immediate
Having an Accident – Remote Possibility
Elaborate the report – Safe and immediate
Now let’s see the impact of both options:
Unsafe option: The employee has a serious accident, as the machine starts up while he is acting on it.
The emergency protocol is activated, with the assistance of municipal medical services.
The employee is hospitalized.
The production line is out of use for one month.
Safe option: Operate according to protocol and finish work as planned. The incident is reported and is thus justified the breach of production times.
It is clear which of the two options is most visible. The lack of security is more noticeable, while safe performance is considered “normal”.
That is precisely where we have to focus. To put in value that the really important thing in terms of prevention of occupational risks is that the working day develops normally for all the employees and other people who carry out their activity in our work centers.
That you act by always taking the safe option naturally, without people perceiving that they are “doing risk prevention”, but they are doing their job correctly. This way the “unsafe options” will not be an option.
The departments of prevention of occupational risks do not want notoriety, our achievement is in “looking invisible but being everywhere”, while we make prevention present in every process and every decision making, at a technical, organizational and personal level. That risk prevention be integrated as part of all departments and be part of the corporate language of each organization

The invisibility of the Prevention of Occupational Hazards

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