A few years ago I was investigating an accident at a client’s location when I heard a very sudden loud noise nearby. I went over to check the noise and to see if there was a problem. I found an engineer and two fitters standing near a moulding machine. I enquired of them as to their well being and they all said they were fine but a little startled ! ! I asked the engineer what had happened. He said that he was lifting a reconditioned mould into place and the lifting device (chain-block) had failed and the mould fell to the ground.

I asked him if he would be investigating the accident and he looked at me with a confused expression on his face. His answer was interesting – “ no one was hurt – why would we investigate ?” I pointed out that there was a very high risk of serious injury from a recurrence of this type of event. I then also asked him how much it would cost to repair the mould. His answer here was VERY alarming to me also – “ not sure really – but the last time this happened it cost us €30k”

For me both the possibility of future serious injury and the high cost of such an event made it very obvious to me that an investigation and new control measures were badly needed. We did carry out an investigation and implement some simple, cheap and practical control measures. There has been no recurrence and the MD of the workplace is now really delighted to carry out such accident investigations. He was unaware of these hidden costs in his very high maintenance budget.

Do you know about all your hidden costs? Can you afford to ignore such accidents in your workplace?