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Causes of Workplace Accident

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There are various reasons for an accident to happen in a workplace. It could results to either minimal accident or tragic accidents, causing minor injury, damage to equipment or even in some cases, major injury or death. Employees need to be alert and aware at all times to avoid accidents, while managers need to master and understand the most common causes for workplace accidents and be able to identify the risk factors early to prevent it. To achieve a goal successfully, a conducive and competitive working environment may help the organization to run their daily operation smoothly. Considering on the importance of safety at workplace, the Malaysian government has introduce efforts on executing safety and health policies through the enforcement of guidelines as well as conducting site safety seminars and certifications. According to the existing record indicated that the present Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) situation in the workplace is still adverse and below expectation.

This paper discussed on the issue about the most common causes of workplace accidents among workers at workplace. This paper aims to propose a conceptual framework to study the relationship between individual factors that contribute to the workplace accidents and suggested solutions on those issues. The study will utilize qualitative method to collect primary data from the workplace in Malaysia. The findings of this research are expected to provide the important information of the common causes and suggested solution that leads to the workplace accident in Malaysia. It has a significant relationship between individual factors as measured by stress and fatigue and workplace accident among workers and individual factors measured by unsafe act and workplace accident among workers. It is an important article which can reduce the possible cause of workplace accident among workers for the solutions suggested in the article are all practical and easy to apply in the workplace. Keyword: workplace accident, stress and fatigue, unsafe act

1. Introduction
Nowadays, workplace accident is known to be a major concerned to the organization involved. This kind of problem leads to the company’s bad reputation, and also cost for medical treatment for workers that involved in an accident. To identify the solution for workplace accident, it is important to understand what the elements are or factors that cause workplace accident first. Even the average immigrants were also involved in occupational injuries twice more often than native workers. Previous studies show that immigrant workers have a worse work life situation than the native population (Simo Salminen, 2011)[15]. When accidents and disasters occur at the workplaces, organizations tend to treat them as some unfortunate problem that will probably never occur again. The fateful national disasters such as the 1984 Bhopal gas explosion in India, the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear leak in Russia, and more recently, the Fukushima nuclear reactor incident in Japan in 2011, have stated the lives of several employees and affected the livelihoods of innocent residents nearby.

Despite these horrific reminders, there are still corporate captains who continue to place the profits as priority rather than safety first. They have failed to take serious and urgent precautions and preventive measures to ensure that same disasters will happen in their organizations and to avoid putting their employees and society at risk (Angeline Tay, 2014)[2]. Moreover, the explosion of Bright Sparklers fireworks factory in 1991 was considered the worst industrial incident in the history of Malaysia. It has stated 26 lives and injured over 100 people. The incident has alerted the government and the public on how important industrial safety regulations to the manufacturers (Ong Choon Hee, 2014)[12]. Salla Lind (2008)[14] defined the risk is a combination of the harm and the likelihood that the harm occurs. The concept of risk is used to measure the potential of losses caused by human activities and technical systems together with environment. Therefore, companies need occupational safety and health management systems that help them to prevent and mitigate accidents by identifying and selecting the most essential hazards and by managing the hazards and the preventive measures. 2. Literature Review

2.1 Workplace Accident
The safety in workplace is one of the most essential issues that cannot be taken lightly. To promote the development of safety and healthy workplace, the issue is important as it is one of the important functions for the organization and workers to conduct their daily operation and task safely and correctly. Noorul Huda Zakaria et al. (2012)[11] said that workers that have safety and health awareness are able to conduct their work effectively and efficiently, where it might prevent accidents from occurred at the workplace. The workplace accident occurring during the daily operations results in no win situation. When accident occurs, it should always be reported to the office of Safety and Health to ensure that immediate action could be taken by the organization. They help to identify potential hazards or conditions that can be addressed to avoid injuries in the future. Prof. Soumen Ganguly (2011)[13] emphasized that reducing on-the-job injuries can save employers money on healthcare, disability and workers’ compensation costs. Prof. Soumen Ganguly (2011)[13] has been indicated that up to 90 per cent of all workplace accidents are due to human error.

According to the previous studies, workplace accidents are more frequent for males, immigrants, workers in crafts and related trade workers, workers in plant and machine operators, while they are such fewer for professional workers and clerks. This is because those professional workers and clerks are more aware than other workers on the workplace safety. In addition, middle-aged workers which are in between 55 years old to 64 years old are more easily get involved in the accidents in comparison to younger workers (Stavros Drakopoulos et al., 2012)[16]. Furthermore, the correlation test of Iraj Mohammad Fam et al. (2010)[8] showed significant correspondence between job stress and unsafe act. It means that the level of stress increases, the unsafe behaviour practices will also increase correspondingly. There was also a correlation between the level of stress and the rate of unsafe act with the workplace accidents frequency rate that had been be fallen the individuals under study. 2.2 Stress and Fatigue

Stress and fatigue in the norm of working life are synonym with workers. It occurs because company did not design a proper working schedule for each department that suits with their working style (Noorul Huda Zakaria et al., 2012)[11]. Stress can become crippling that lead to emotional turmoil, burnout, and physical illness (Thomas W. Colligan Eileen M. Higgins, 2005)[20]. Akinori Nakata et al. (2006) [3] also support that job stress is one of the causes that lead to occupational injuries. Stavros Drakopoulos et al. (2012)[16] revealed human errors made under the effect of occupational stress may lead to financial costs, corporal injuries, or even loss of human lives. Thomas W. Colligan Eileen M. Higgins (2005)[20] also agreed that workplace stress places significant psychological, physiological, and financial costs on both the individual employee and his or her organization. Musculoskeletal problems, stress, heart diseases and respiratory problems and infections seem to be the leading causes the work-related health problems.

Absenteeism and tardiness are also greatly influenced by occupational stress with high economic costs (Stavros Drakopoulos et al., 2012)[16]. Workplace stress has been associated with the etiologic of physical disorders such as heart disease, hypoadrenia, immunosuppression, and chronic pain. In addition, the psychological impact of workplace stress includes depression, persistent anxiety, pessimism, and resentment. The impact of these symptoms on organizations is significant as these symptoms lead to hostility in the workplace, low morale, interpersonal conflict, increased benefit expenses, decreased productivity, and increased absenteeism (Thomas W. Colligan Eileen M. Higgins, 2005)[20]. The key difference between physical and psychosocial risks and hazards is that while physical hazards are tangible aspects of the work environment, psychosocial risks and hazards – such as stress, bullying and social conflict – represent often intangible aspects that have rendered them less recognised as legitimate components of OHS policies and training programmes in organisations.

Furthermore, ignoring psychosocial job characteristics and poor awareness of, and response to, psychosocial risks and hazards (such as bullying) have serious consequences for overall workplace health and safety from the study of Judy Van Rooyen et al. (2013)[9]. Previous study indicated that changing organisational health in a meaningful way has the potential to have positive influence on personal health through the mechanism of experienced stress. Overall, employers that try to improve their organisational health should have a positive impact on the personal health outcomes of their employees (Steven Smith et al., 2012)[17]. Employers with a better leadership concerning co-determination, feedback, and competence development had a more positive social climate in the work units and work groups and better health in the staff, as well as lower registered sickness absence. A more supportive leadership was related to a lower level of role conflicts, which in turn was related to better social climate, health, and sickness absence (Cecilia Ljungblad et al., 2014)[6]. 2.3 Unsafe Act

Any unsafe act by the workers such as failure to obey the rules that had been provided by the company, unethical behaviour at workplace or do not wear proper Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) such as safety gloves, safety helmet and safety boots will contribute to the workplace accident among them. Controlling unsafe acts has proven to be difficult. The reason for this is that unsafe acts involve the human factor, that is, they occur as a result of people’s attitudes and behaviours (Noorul Huda Zakaria et al. (2012)[11]. The results of previous paper revealed that the most frequent unsafe acts committed by construction workers are: 1.) the workers rarely wear PPE while doing their jobs, 2.) the workers lift or handle objects or materials improperly, and 3.) the workers leave nails and other sharp objects in dangerous locations. They also indicated that there are some relationships between the workers’ characteristics, for example age, occupation and experience and the unsafe acts. The young workers tend to commit this unsafe act more often than the older group.

The four subgroups of workers classified by their experience differ in wearing PPE, leaving nails or sharp objects in dangerous locations, and working in dangerous positions. Inexperienced workers tend to ignore wearing PPE, and work in dangerous positions rather than the experienced ones, whereas, experienced workers tend to be more frequent in leaving nails or other sharp objects in dangerous locations. The unsafe act has been rated by 140 workers, was the failure to wear PPE. This unsafe act was statistically correlated with five factors: lack of management support, group norms, overconfidence, being uncomfortable, and past experience (Thanet Aksorn et al., 2007)[19]. According to the Amelia Haviland et al. (2010)[1], one of the reason that violation of PPE standards under Occupational Safety and Health Act show an impact that they can play a role in a large number of injury types, whether they involve material handling, getting caught in machinery, being struck by flying objects, or being around hot or toxic substances.

In some study, the safety based on incentive program reinforces the reporting of accidents or any unsafe act that can leads to an accident. The policy within the organization should be based on the prevention of accident, but not the punishment after any accident take place. In addition, the rewarding system can be in term of monetary or job promotion (Aref Charehzehi et al., 2012)[4]. A worker may commit unsafe acts regardless of the initial conditions of the work whether the condition was safe or unsafe. Example of worker unsafe acts including the decision to proceed with work in unsafe conditions, disregard standard safety procedures such as not wearing a hard hat or safety glasses, working while intoxicated and working with insufficient sleep (Tariq S. Abdelhamid et al., 2000)[18].3. Problem Statement In fact, there are so many other ways that can result in various incidents at the workplace and the accidents occur for many reasons.

The first step in prevention is understood why an accident happens. Noorul Huda Zakaria et al. (2012)[11] were mentioned that the workplace accidents are getting worst year by year. It has been recorded that there were frequent numbers of accidents occurred each year at the workplace and the trend is increasing from year to year resulted unpredictable cost to the industry. If there are no steps taken for prevention, it can be more serious and badly affected the image of the company. On the average there were more than 40 accidents recorded for each year beginning 2005 till 2009 despite of efforts done to ensure the safety environment. All accidents have multiple causes. It is therefore important to identify the causes of accident so that it can be prevented in future and to reduce injury, ill health and also cost to the business. The objective of this study is to identify elements that contribute to the workplace accident among workers at workplace. Further, it will also examine the relationship between individual factors as measured by stress and fatigue and unsafe act with workplace accident among workers. 4. Research Methodology

This study will be conduct through gather the data from previous studies. Generally, the previous studies that related to the workplace accident are found in the form of establishment in Journal. The previous study used in this research aiming to find out the most common causes of workplace accident in terms of individual factor in order to provide the useful solutions to reduce the workplace injury or death. It is essential to investigate those that occurred and considering the appropriate preventative measures in reducing the risk of them happening again by identifying the elements of the accident at the workplace. There are twenty approval previous researches support this paper. All the similar outcomes will be used to create a proper conclusion for this study. Such outcomes will later complete the final objective of this study which is to propose a comprehensive view on workplace accident in Malaysia. 5. Expected Finding

This paper is conduct to investigate the relationship between stress and fatigue and unsafe acts with workplace accidents. Noorul Huda Zakaria et al. (2012)[11] proved that there was significant relationship between the stress and fatigue and workplace accident among workers. Its relationship was considered as substantial to very strong as indicated by Pearson Correlation. Besides that, they also claimed that there was also a significant relationship between the unsafe act and workplace accident among workers. Its Pearson Correlation value explained that there was low to moderate relationship between the unsafe act and workplace accident. 6. Expected Solutions of Workplace Accident

The purpose of the study focused on the accidents happened among workers at workplace. There are numbers of recommended solutions for the two elements which are stress and fatigue and unsafe act should be taken by the employer and workers themselves. A part an efficient approach is recommended as a guideline to assist the team members in the construction industry to manage their safety in their workplaces. They required preventing accident because of the reasons as mentioned: 1.) Humanitarian Reason: to ensure that people are safe and healthy at work and nobody suffers from accident due to the work activity and 2.) Legal Reason: to comply with provisions of law which, specify standards to ensure safety and health at work (Aref Charehzehi et al., 2012)[4]. The first individual factor is about the stress and fatigue. Noorul Huda Zakaria et al. (2012)[11] suggested that workers that usually work at night should have enough rest on the day and fit to continue their job at night. Furthermore, there should be no worker that works too long after their usual schedule of working hour.

Another alternative for reducing accident due to stress and fatigue is by motivating them through making them feel comfortable while working. Their complaint should be given attention by the authorities. With these efforts, worker feels appreciated even though they had a rough day of working. Employers also can help to reducing employees’ stress levels by organizing the conditions and requirements of the workplace and jobs in such a way as to minimize the sources of stress. Besides that, employers may take measures that include ensuring there is a pleasurable working environment, make sure that all staffs has training in time management so that they can manage their time effectively, having regular open communication so that opportunities to discuss problems and worries are available for them. Employers need to promote employee health both by offering various health-specific programmes and activities, as well as by forming a high-quality work environment in general including developmental and supportive leadership styles, prevention of role conflicts, and a supportive and comfortable social climate (Cecilia Ljungblad et al., 2014)[6].

OSH professional manager plays a key role in health and safety questions at work on various levels which are workers’ health surveillance, technical aspects of safety in the workplace, and checking the application of safety regulations and legal requirements. (Bruno Papaleo et al., 2013)[5]. The second individual factor is concerned on the relationship between unsafe act and workplace accidents. Controlling unsafe acts has proven to be difficult. However, unsafe act should be closely monitored. The rules and regulations should be seriously obeyed by all workers especially when performing high risk task. Workers should be fully equipped with PPE when performing risky task such as eyewear, safety boots, gloves and others. The most important thing in doing job is workers should do their job seriously and with full concentration. This is important because when workers lack of concentration, they tend to involve in greater risk of having an accident. This will not benefit any parties in the company but only cause loss of working hour. By reducing the occurrence of unsafe acts, it will reduce number of accidents and injuries that occur in the workplace directly (Noorul Huda Zakaria et al., 2012)[11].

The employer must select PPE that is appropriate for the hazards that affected the employees. Employer must ensure that the employees use the PPE and train them to do so properly before they are allowed to perform work requiring the PPE that advised by Amelia Haviland et al. (2010)[1]. On the other hand, the government has taken a step further by introducing the Occupational, Safety and Health Act (OSHA) 1994. OSHA 1994 was enacted to address industrial safety and health issues in the manufacturing sector. The act emphasized on self-regulation where it expects manufacturers and employers to take initiative in minimizing industry hazards as far as practicable (Ong Choon Hee, 2014)[12]. The policy selected by manager in relation to safety issues is effective in the development of safety level within an organization. Defining clear procedures and providing safety standards as in the Occupational Safety and Health Act 1970 (OSHA) will help to run process properly. In addition, the management is responsible to allocate people with the sufficient level of competency and knowledge as a representation in each part of the work. This approach will respond the need of workers in terms of problem solving was found in a Journal named Aref Charehzehi et al. (2012)[4].

Mandatory occupational health and safety management system (OHSMS) are simpler in terms of the demands placed on organizations since they are attempted for all or most workplaces, including small companies (Lynda S. Robson et al., 2007)[10]. In some studies, Tariq S. Abdelhamid et al. (2000)[18] suggested accident root causes tracing model (ARCTM) that can helps identify the root causes behind occupational accidents. ARCTM emphasizes the need to consider worker training, worker attitude, and management procedures when prevention efforts are contemplated. Using ARCTM consists of the following steps: 1.) Determining whether there was one or more unsafe conditions that faced the worker involved in the accident before or after starting the activity. 2.) If a worker was faced by an unsafe condition before or after starting the activity, it should be determine whether the worker had identified the unsafe condition. 3.) If there were no unsafe conditions that faced the worker involved in the accident before or after starting the activity, the investigator should determine whether the worker acted unsafe or not. 7. Conclusion

This study attempts to contribute the evidence that relationship between individual factors and workplace accidents among workers will motivate the parties involve to take action to resolve the unfortunate accident in the workplace. Workers as one of the parties have to take part to maintain a safe workplace in order to keep their workplace free from any degree of risky situation. Therefore, most of the common accidents at workplace should be prevent with the cooperation from all the parties including the workers considering it as their responsibility to prevent accidents at their work place. Employers are also required to perform risk assessment for possible accidents that could occur and adapt necessary methods to prevent accidents in the health and safety procedures practiced by them whereas employees then must strictly follow the health and safety measures adopted by their employers and help to avoid accidents at workplace to ensure that they can run the operation effectively and efficiently. It would make good business sense to prevent rather than to correct careless mistakes and accidents at the workplace in the long run business operation.


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11. Noorul Huda Zakaria, Norudin Mansor and Zalinawati Abdullah (2012). Workplace Accident in Malaysia: Most Common Causes and Solutions. Business and Management Review Vol. 2(5) pp. 75 – 88 July.12. Ong Choon Hee (2014). Factors Contribute to Safety Culture in the Manufacturing Industry in Malaysia. International Journal of Academic Research in Business and Social Sciences April, Vol. 4, No. 4.13. Prof. Soumen Ganguly (2011). Human Error Vs. Work Place Management In Modern Organizations. International Journal of Research in Management and Technology (IJRMT), Vol. 1, No.1, October.14. Salla Lind, Sanna Nenonen and Jouni Kivisto Rahnasto (2008). Safety Risk Assessment in Industrial Maintenance. Journal of Quality in Maintenance Engineering Vol. 14 No. 2, pp. 205- 217.

15. Simo Salminen (2011). Are Immigrants at Increased Risk of Occupational Injury? A Literature Review. The Ergonomics Open Journal, 4, 125-130.
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17. Steven Smith, Lydia Makrides, Francis Schryer Lebel, Jane Allt, Duff Montgomerie, Jane Farquharson, M.J. MacDonald and Claudine Szpilfogel (2012). Healthy Lifeworks Project: The Role of Organizational Health in The Personal Health of Employees. International Journal of Workplace Health
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18. Tariq S. Abdelhamid, Student Member, ASCE, and John G. Everett, Member and ASCE (2000). Identifying Root Causes of Construction Accidents. Journal Of Construction Engineering and Management, January/ February.19. Thanet Aksorn and B.H.W. Hadikusumo (2007). The Unsafe Acts and the Decision-to-Err Factors of Thai Construction Workers. Journal of Construction in Developing Countries, Vol. 12, No. 1. 20. Thomas W. Colligan Eileen M. Higgins (2005). Workplace Stress: Etiology and Consequences. Journal of Workplace Behavioral Health, Vol. 21(2).

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