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Conference attendees learn ways to avoid work-related injuries

At an annual conference to improve workers' safety, a keynote address was given by a vice president of General Electric Co. She highlighted the success the company has experienced with a new approach to reduce work-related injuries. Since GE has employment facilities in North Carolina, workers here may have benefited from the change.

The speaker presented a method that has been followed at GE's various facilities. Management has revised its thinking concerning the best methods to evaluate hazards in the workplace, by comparing them to traffic safety. The speaker explained how traffic signs become routine controls that can result in drivers possibly being less alert to traffic flow. Conversely, a traffic circle engages the driver's attention and leads to fewer accidents.

GE sought a fresh philosophy to improve workers' safety. Instead of spending time retraining equipment operators, which did not make a significant difference in accident rates, it refocused on the workplace environment to study what may have been contributing to accidents. Once problem areas were resolved, there was a marked reduction in workers' suffering injuries.

The new approach is referred to as H.O.P., which stands for Human and Organizational Performance. The basic idea is to study the work environment to pinpoint areas that lead to accidents. Management receives specialized training in how to apply the system in their own facilities and then incorporate it into their work practices.

GE has communicated the success of the system within those facilities where it has been applied. It is based on the realization that human beings are not infallible, but safer designs may reduce serious work-related injuries. Nevertheless, not every accident can be foreseen and prevented, especially in the event of equipment failure or other factors that cannot be predicted. North Carolina workers who do suffer an injury or illness on the job, have access to the workers' compensation insurance program. Resources are available to provide professional assistance in filing and perfecting a claim for necessary benefits.

Source: ehstoday.com, "VPPPA 2014: At General Electric, the Future of Safety Is Spelled 'H-O-P'", Josh Cable, Aug. 26, 2014

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