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  • Richard Nichols

Incident causation linked to hunger


Since gaining an IOSH certificate in behavioural science for leadership in safety, I have been looking into how our behaviours can affect us at work. On reviewing numerous accident investigation reports over the years, many mention accident cause as operative error, but what does this mean?

  • Was it a slip, a lapse in concentration and if so what caused the mind to wander?

  • Was it a mistake caused by a lack of understanding or false assumptions?

  • Was it a violation, knowing the rules but choosing to do things their way?

Realistically, we should be interrogating accident causation more vigorously to learn from accidents, incidents and near misses. What caused the individual or the group to behave in an unsafe manner?


My recent research has been looking at the association with a lack of food or drink and how this can affect our behaviours, surprisingly, this thought was reinforced by looking at the Ikea marketing strategy. Have you ever wondered why there is a restaurant in Ikea stores? The thought process is that people will spend more time in-store when they have a full stomach, they don’t need to run off to find a snack somewhere else.



The second part of this research looks at what type of nutrition is best to keep personnel comfortable and potentially safe in the workplace. Personally, I have spent many years quaffing bacon and egg sandwiches, full-cooked English breakfasts and biscuits, not a diet I would recommend to anybody. Although this is unhealthy, I know that if I am hungry and skipping meals, I get irritable and, in the past, I have rushed tasks so that I can get some food inside me. One thing I have not done is rely on energy drinks to get me through the day, another recent phenomenon that I have witnessed.


In conclusion (for now), what can we do to make our workplaces safer? Should employers be offering nutritious snacks to the workforce or even encouraging people to think about nutrition in the workplace? Some places have full-blown subsidised staff canteens, while others are less fortunate and rely on personnel bringing in their own food and drinks. Think about the business benefits, if we look at health and safety differently and be proactive by providing information, handouts and possibly even workshops, rather than reacting after the event, we could be saving on the astronomical costs associated with workplace accidents and incidents.


Let's all think about the health in health and safety, it really does matter.