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lecture note on the causes of accidents in chemical process plants



An industrial accident is an unanticipated event that can result in injuries, fatalities, property damage, and loss of production time. Mishaps in workplaces are fairly frequent despite the stringent laws promulgated by government to protect worker and to ensure that employers provides a safe work environment for them. Ignoring safety procedures and using poor judgement are among factors that put workers at greater risk, resulting in job-related injury or illness to a whole lot of workers world-wide every year.

While multiple factors can contribute to an accident, usually it boils down to someone making a mistake. Employee behaviour often leads to work-place mishaps, whether they are related to improper procedures, misuse or poor maintenance of equipment, fatigue or lack of proper training

Failing to follow safety procedures not only endanger workers but often put others at risk.  Likewise, overconfidence can affect a worker ability to make sound decisions. An employee who overestimates his ability can underestimate the risks associated with a particular action, leading to costly errors or physical harm. Taking shortcuts intended to save time or increase productivity can also cause problems. Even relatively minor mishap can come at a high price in direct and indirect costs.

There are just as many causes of industrial accidents as there are industrial accidents. The broad category of industrial accident covers anything from small cuts and bruises to huge disaster that affects a large population of people. Approximately 120 million industrial accidents occur in work places worldwide each year. Approximately 210,000 of these accidents results in fatality. The industries which have the highest rate of accidents are the mining, construction, transportation, and agricultural industries. Construction accidents account for fifteen percent of all accidents and thirty percent of all fatalities in industrial work environments.

Causes of industrial accidents can be broken down into two broad categories: unsafe condition and unsafe acts. The causes of industrial accident that pertain to unsafe conditions can include insufficient workplace lighting, excessive noise’, slippery or unsafe flooring, extreme temperature exposure, inadequate protection when working with machinery or hazardous materials, unstable structures, electrical problems, machine malfunction and failure and more. The causes of industrial accidents that involves unsafe acts can include actions or failure to act as at when due which result in injury, loss, or damage. This can be a result of negligence on the side of employees, employer, or a third party.

The cause of industrial accidents can occur in the environment around the workplace, or within the work environment. External causes of industrial accidents may include fire, chemical spills, toxic gas emission or radiation. The causes of accident in these cases might include organisational conditions, natural forces, software or component failures and outside interference. Internal causes of industrial accident can involve equipment or other work related conditions, harmful materials, toxic chemical and human error.

There are several ways a worker can get injured in the work environment. Injuries that results in the causes of industrial accidents can include any one or a combination of the following: falls, being struck by objects in motion, structure collapse, being trapped in or by an object, strenuous physical activity, exposure to extreme temperature, electrical accidents, radiation exposure, inhalation, ingestion, or absorption of harmful substances. These industrial accidents can results in a number of injuries including fractures, sprains, strains, amputation, concussion, internal injury, poisoning, infection and death.

The causes of industrial accidents are numerous. There are several instances where employee negligence is a factor in industrial accidents. Workers compensation law protects employers from lawsuits brought against them by injured employees. There are cases where an employer may be held liable for worker injuries if they had knowledge of unsafe conditions and failed to act in order to prevent accident. Injured worker may seek compensation for their injuries from their employers or the maker of faulty or dangerous industrial products.

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Below are the definition of some terms frequently used in safety and accident prevention:

Accident consequence analysis: An analysis of the expected effects of an accident, independent of frequency and probability.


Code of practice: A document offering practical guidance on the policy, standard setting and practice in occupational and general public safety and health for use by governments, employers and workers in order to promote safety and health at the national level and at the level of the installation. A code of practice is not necessarily a substitute for existing national legislation, regulations and safety standards.

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