Scand J Work Environ Health 1979;5 suppl 2:45-49    pdf | Issue date: 1979

Occupational safety and accident prevention in small workplaces with special reference to occupational health services.

by Pekkarinen A, Ukkola K, Tolonen M, Hassi J

This safety survey included 84 work establishments regarded in advance as hazardous. The workplaces employed a total of 1,450 persons, two-thirds being directly involved in the production of goods. In 1976, some 200 accidents occurred in these workplaces, 180 of them in industrial places of work. The survey gave a general picture of the safety hazards to be encountered in small places of work. Many failures were attributed to the obvious lack of knowledge among the proprietors, supervisors, and workers. Therefore, to be successful, occupational safety and accident prevention must include training concerning comprehensive safety and loss prevention and an accident investigation program. Emphasis on occupational health services can by no means act as a substitute for training in aspects of safety. In general, but by no means invariably, the role of occupational health personnel is, because of their educational background, likely to be rather limited with respect to accident prevention. As a group, they do not possess knowledge and experience related to engineering control to such a degree as to warrant their becoming safety inspectors. Even providing them with extensive postgraduate training in these aspects seems impractical. Nevertheless "safety" cannot be regarded as an area of expertise totally separate from that of occupational health. Now that health specialists are visiting places of work, and they are acquiring some knowledge of safety, they may make a significant contribution to occupational safety, at least in some places of work, by paying attention to selected accident prevention topics. In the present survey certain environmental factors (e.g., lighting, general orderliness, etc.), materials handling, some obvious hazards involved in the use of equipment, and recent accidents proved to be feasible focus points in this respect.