Resource Newsletter
December 2012

Making sense of tragedy

Early in the morning or late at night, the call could come at any time for Mike Riffe, a seasoned accident investigator with Oregon OSHA. He has handled more than 250 accidents through the years, documenting the scene, analyzing machinery, recreating incidents, and interviewing employees, employers, and other witnesses to make sense of what went wrong.

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A problem with accident investigations

Most serious workplace accidents – accidents that happen infrequently but have catastrophic outcomes – are the result of a series of seemingly unrelated events, rarely perceived and never controlled or constrained. Such events persist as part of an organization's daily activities until someone makes a "mistake" – a subtle label for "operator error" or "human error" and the result is a fatality or catastrophe.

Safety Notes - A worker is injured in an oxygen tank explosion

  • Incident: Explosion
  • Business: Medical response
  • Employee: service technician

A vehicle service technician who worked for an emergency medical response company was cleaning and preparing an ambulance for the next shift.

Ask Technical: How can young workers approach safety issues on the job?

Q: I teach a workplace safety course at a community college. Increasingly, the issue comes up in class about what a young person can do to advocate safer working conditions.

Going the Distance:

Meet the ombudsman for injured workers in Oregon

Company: Oregon Department of Consumer and Business Services
Ombudsman for Injured Workers: Jennifer Flood

News Briefs

  • Support organization works to help families of fallen workers
  • Southern Oregon Conference honors 'Lifesaving' acts
  • 2013 Oregon GOSH Conference programming announced
  • Public education section offers updated, new classes
  • Congratulations to the new SHARP companies
  • Annual safety video contest opens to Oregon students