An observation method as a tool for workplace risk assessment
Reliable and valid methods are needed for workplace risk assessment. At the same time the methods should be simple and quick to use. The validity of an observation method for predicting accident risk was studied. The observation method consisted of 27 items, divided in 7 groups: (1) safety behaviour, (2) order and tidiness, (3) machine safety, (4) industrial hygiene, (5) ergonomics, (6) gangways and (7) first-aid and fire safety. The safety index was calculated as a percentage of the correct items of all observed items; thus it ranged from zero to one hundred. A significant correlation was found between the observation results and the accident rate in a study of 51 metal product manufacturing companies. The average accident rate in the low safety index companies was 1.8 times higher than that in the high safety index companies, and 1.2 times higher than that in the medium safety index companies. The method is easy to use, and, potentially, is a valuable tool both for industrial companies and for outside experts like consultants, insurance companies and government safety inspectors.