What is an unsafe act?

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An unsafe act is a human error or personal mistake by which there is a chance of accident, injury, property loss, or harm to the environment or an unsafe act is a human activity resulting in accident injury, etc. The unsafe act might be deliberate or committed due to the absence of knowledge, ignorance, or forgetfulness.

The unsafe act may be the sole accident cause. An unsafe act must remove just after it is noticed. The unsafe act can increase the probability of an accident.

The unsafe act is concerned with the human being and can be corrected by the action of the human being only. Training plays an important role. Even if the condition is fully safe, an accident may happen because of the unsafe act. In simplest form unsafe act means a human error or personal mistake by which there is a chance of accident or property loss.

According to H. W Henrich, 88% of accidents are due to unsafe acts. He considered unsafe acts responsible for most of the unsafe conditions.

Examples of Unsafe Act:

  • Failure to use personal protective equipment (PPE).
  • Taking shortcut
  • Over confidence
  • Bypass or removal of safety devices
  •  Using improper tools/equipment
  • Using hands instead of tools tackles
  • Operating without authority
  • Standing under the suspended load.
  • Design mistake
  • Starting machine without authority.
  • Starting machine without warning.
  • Removal of safeguard
  • Chance taking.
  • Wrong interpretation of safety rule.
  • Not following the safety precautions.
  • Overconfidence
  • Impulsiveness
  • Laziness
  • Showing off
  • Working without a safety belt.
  • Supervisory failure i.e.: poor training, lack of discipline, poor housekeeping.
  • Unsafe behaviour
  • Unsafe attitude
  • Lack of knowledge
  • Wearing loose clothing while working on a running machine.
  • Poor vision or judgement etc.
  • Operating a machine at an unsafe speed (If it is not designed to run at unsafe speed).
  • Working under the influence of alcohols or drugs.
  • Using defective equipment
  • Horse play

Let us take an example of an unsafe act:


In this image, you find that the employee or worker failed to stand on the pipe without any full body harness. In case of a side fall or due to slipping serious injury may happen.

How to Preventing unsafe act:

  • Corrective action by supervisory staff
  • Compulsory use of protective equipment
  • General awareness of bad habits through safety training
  • Counselling
  • Help from union

Reasons for the unsafe acts:

Improper Attitude:

Wilful disregard, reckless, lazy, disloyal, non-co-operative, fearful, oversensitive, egoist, jealous, impatient, absentminded, excitable, obsession, phobia, inconsiderate, intolerant, mentally unsuited, and other psychological reasons.

Lack of knowledge or skill:

Insufficiently informed or trained misunderstands, not convinced of the need, indecision, inexperienced, etc.

Physically Unsuited:

Due to hearing, sight, age, sex, height, ill, allergic, slow reaction, crippled, intoxication, physically handicapped, and other physiological reasons.

Physical conditions:

Space, light, ventilation, heat, layout or arrangement, materials, tools, equipment, procedures, company policy, routing, etc. make it awkward, difficult, inconvenient, embarrassing, or impossible to follow safe practice rules.

Unsafe act Remedies:

The unsafe act or behavior causesRemedies
1. Age, sex, experience Proper selection of personnel
2. Physical and physiological conditions such as workload, physical strain, physical weakness, headache, cold, faintness, abnormal blood pressure, poor vision, handicapped, deaf, dumb, epilepsy, etc.A. Workload study and proper distribution
B. Pre-employment medical exam.
C. Periodic medical exam.
D. Proper selection & placement of a person
3.Poor attitude and inability such as inattentive, insubordinate, uncooperative, critical of supervision, bad skill or motives, wrong habits, intoxication, chance-taking, absent-minded, disregard of safety rules & instruction, etc.A. Pre-employment psychological or ability tests.
B. Supervision.
C. Discipline
D. Personnel work
4. Human errors such as intentionally performed, due to – behavior Components, personal factors, situational factors, and lack of knowledge, training, etc.A. Mechanical, electrical, physical, chemical safeguards, and safety rules.
B. Safety education, training, meeting, contest, posters, maintaining interest and awareness.
C. Job analysis and revision
5.Emotional factors such as worry, hurry, fatigue, accident proneness or tendencies, home or social difficulties, loss of sleep, periodical emotional disturbances, etc.A. Pre-employment tests.
B. Supervision.
C. Maintaining interest and awareness.
D. Critical incident technique

FAQs for the Unsafe Act:

What percentage of accidents are due to unsafe acts?

According to H.W Heinrich, 88% of accidents are happened due to unsafe acts.

Give some list of unsafe acts in construction?

1. Unsafe manual material handling (i.e. Improper lifting)
2. Overloading of the scaffold, hoists, etc.
3. Incorrect use of a ladder.
4. Use of faulty equipment.
5. Talking on a cellphone while working at heights.
6. Working at height without a safety belt, etc.

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