Verax International Ltd

NEWSLETTER  -  MAY 2017

 

How Accident Prone are You ?

 

Urban myths about some people being “unlucky” or accident prone abound. At one level we accept the idea, but there is always the lingering doubt. Is it just coincidence? Was someone just in the wrong place at the wrong times?

And if there is some truth in it, can we identify those individuals and do something to keep them out of harm’s way.

We are not talking about, for example, the fire-fighter who built a reputation for “being overcome by smoke” at most shouts – and hence was first in the queue for the tea urn!!

But, take the case, recounted to us recently, of a manager who worked in a small first floor site office with a handful of colleagues. One lunchtime, he left the office, closed the self-locking door and headed toward his car- only to find that he had left his key-ring (office, car, home) on his desk.

He could not get back into office; no-one was there. Undaunted, he looked around, saw that he had left the top window of his office open. He found a ladder that was just about long enough for him to reach the window. He climbed up and managed to get his hand inside the window. Then the ladder slipped. He grasped the window frame and his wedding ring got jammed on the adjuster pin of the window. He was left hanging by his finger. Eventually he fell - and was found dead at the foot of the building by his colleagues when they returned from lunch.

A  salutary tale.  And I know you will all shout that he should not have done it and he should have kept to the rules etc.  But, let’s be honest; we are dealing here with (understandable) human behaviour.

The real question is whether something like this was predictable.

Recently we carried out an organisational health and safety diagnostic in a client organisation (approximately 1200 employees) that operates in a hazardous environment and where many of its staff have direct contact with the public.

What we found was that on average, employees were abused by a member of the public 2.87 times a year. They averaged 1.26 accident lost days per employee per year, and a further 2.74 lost days per employee per annum due to other illnesses.

 

 

But of greater interest was (based on their personal PEP 360 diagnostics*): • Those employees who scored High on Adaptability suffered less abuse from the public
(2.57 times per annum), • Those employees who scored low on Adaptability suffered more abuse from the public 
(3.01 times per annum) • Those employees who scored high on Adaptability had fewer accidents
(0.06 accident days lost per employee per annum) • Those employees who scored low on Adaptability had more accidents
(25.20 accident days lost per employee per annum) • Those employees who scored high on Adaptability had less illness time off
(0.14 sick days per employee per annum) • Those employees who scored low on Adaptability had more illness time off
(27.40 sick days per employee per annum) All of these differences are statistically significant. So it does look as if there could be something in the “accident proneness” issue after all. We know that those with high Adaptability tend to be, and are seen to be, more self-confident and to demonstrate an unconditional regard for other people (this could account for less abuse). They tend to put more discretionary effort into doing a good job, are less impetuous and more likely to take calculated risks (this could account for their fewer accidents). They are more resilient and generally suffer far lower levels of anxiety and so suffer fewer “stress-related” diseases (this could account for their fewer days of illness). By the way, we also checked whether there were any Personal or Leadership Styles that appeared to be responsible for any of the above. We found that there were no significant differences between the 4 Styles (Controlling, Expressing, Processing, Supporting) in terms of Abuse received, Accident rates or Illness. So it looks as if there is something that employers can do to recruit staff who are less likely to be accident prone in the first place (PEP-Select will do that*), and or develop staff so that they become less accident and illness prone once they are on board (PEP and PEP-H&S will do that*). * The PEP family is a range of diagnostics dealing with the root causes of personal effectiveness.  
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