Workplace Accidents and the Ripple Effect - Hasmate
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Workplace Accidents and the Ripple Effect

Workplace Accidents and the Ripple Effect

Over the past 18 months, there has been a lot of discussion about the importance of business culture for effective health and safety management. What is not often discussed is the negative effect on a business’s productivity and the financial impact.

For many, the concept of health and safety, being a positive for improving the production and even the bottom line, is a foreign concept and in some cases, hard to believe.

To illustrate this, I suggest you carry out the following exercise with your management team, the H&S committee, or your employees, as a training exercise to stress the spiral effect of an accident.


You own and operate a large engineering/truck repair workshop. An employee is crushed and has died, when a suspended motor slipped off the lifting hoist after a lifting chain snapped. The employee had worked for the business for 12 years as a mechanic.  He was a 45-year-old Maori, married with 4 children and a senior member of church and his local community. It was identified during the investigation that the chain had not been certified or tested.

Your objectives:

  1. To identify all the different persons, organisations or others who will be impacted or involved as the result of this tragedy;
  2. To have all the circles filled in; and
  3. To involve the group in an open discussion and to identify areas for improvement in your business.

Recommended process:

  1. This can be completed individually in small groups of 2 or 3, or as a team effort. If the team approach is used, I suggest that you allow some individual time for each person to consider the impact;
  2. Copy the A4 diagram (download here) and if possible, print to A3 size paper;
  3. Give the teams 30 minutes to enter the accident in the centre circle.  Then ask them to write in the next layer of circles an affected person or other parties that are directly or indirectly affected or involved. These could be lawyers, florists, accountants, schools, insurance company, WorkSafe NZ, ACC, banks, newspapers, etc;
  4. Continue outwards as a ripple effect – like a stone having been thrown into a pond – until all the circles are completed; and
  5. When finished, complete a master copy by asking each group/team in rotation to state who they identified. It’s a sobering account of the impact.

The cost:

It has been estimated that the cost to the NZ economy for accidents in the NZ workplace is about $3,000,000,000 per annum – this a direct cost to the NZ economy.

In this particular accident, what is the potential financial cost to the victim, their family, the business, and society?


The purpose of this exercise is to drive home the point that the impact of any accident, regardless how serious it is, is like an iceberg. It’s not only what is obvious on the surface, but all the other contributing factors, parties, individuals and society that are impacted by the event.

Any feedback on how this worked for your company would be welcomed – please contact Hasmate.