Serious Injuries and Fatalities—A Study of Data and Prevention Strategies

In one of the largest studies of its kind, the authors set out to identify trends and common factors of serious injuries and fatalities in order to identify strategies to reduce the risk.

Oil Rig Worker on Walkway
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Serious injuries and fatalities (SIFs) occurring in the workplace have become a significant focus in the field of safety. Over the past 20 years, there has been a steady decline in the prevalence of all injuries; however, the rates of SIFs has plateaued in recent years. In one of the largest studies of its kind, the authors set out to identify trends and common factors of SIF incidents in order to identify strategies to reduce the risk of them.

The authors studied OSHA log records and OSHA recorded fatalities for more than 50,000 companies over multiple years, broken down by numerous indices including industry, age, day of the week, body part affected, type of incident, and severity of incident to give a picture of SIF prevalence and trends. This data has also been cross-referenced against qualitative information of these companies to identify trends, commonalities, and disparities in order to identify causes and opportunities for improvement.

The data has shown different risk groups for SIF incidents and that 60% of companies are at low risk of SIF incidents. The data also point to the sector with the highest risk of SIF events—drilling and construction. In addition, seemingly random factors such as day of the week and month of the year actually were found to vary statistically, presenting opportunities for targeted outreach based on the data in order to reduce risk. Furthermore, the study reveals that companies who work with chemicals, perform welding work, and work at heights should be the top targets for DIF prevention intervention.

This information is valuable for all organizations interested in understanding the root causes of incidents and learning techniques to achieve a reduction of incidents, particularly SIFs, to the lowest possible level. A no-blame culture for the accurate reporting of incidents is also vital for a deeper understanding of causation and prevention.

SPE members can download the complete paper from SPE’s Health, Safety, Environment, and Sustainability Technical Discipline page for free until 30 August.

Find paper SPE 210904 on OnePetro here.