December Safety Tip
New Year’s Resolutions for Safety in the Workplace 2022
2022 is almost here! How is your New Year’s resolution list looking?
They say breaking down ambitious goals into small, actionable items is an effective strategy to accomplish them. In the world of health and safety, small actions such as displaying a warning sign or cleaning a dirty factory floor can have a significant impact on reducing the number of workplace incidents.
If your 2021 objective is to reduce the number of work-related injuries, here is a list of bite-sized best practices to remember for the upcoming year.
- Educate on health & safety risks
Educate workers on identifying and controlling potential hazards is crucial when it comes to building a culture of safety within your organization. If employees engage in safety-conscious behavior, they can regulate their own safety and that of their teammates more effectively and consistently.
- Wear PPE to suit the task
Over specifying or under specifying protective equipment for a given application can affect or even cancel out its protective abilities. PPE, whether it’s gloves or firefighter turnout gear, is specifically designed to offer protection for varying types of risk, in various scenarios. Fortunately, there are task-specific products to pick from; check with your PPE vendors. Have you conducted a PPE Hazard Assessment yet?
- Keep workspaces clutter-free
Housekeeping, namely keeping work areas neatly organized, helps control and sometimes eliminate workplace incidents such as slip-and-trip accidents or being struck by falling objects. These are two very common workplace hazards. Watch for bands, shrink-wrap, tools, cords, etc., that are left lying around – pick they up and put them where they belong.
- Report violations and unsafe conditions
Everyone has the right to work in a safe environment. But truly exceptional safety happens when people go beyond the call of duty – to report hazards, as well as give feedback on unsafe behavior, and make recommendations for improvement. If you find a hazard, correct it. If you can’t fix it, report it immediately.
- Store chemicals properly
Handling and storing chemicals properly requires diligence. But before rounding up bottles of chemicals, workers need PPE designed to withstand dangerous chemicals, such as chemical-resistant gloves, eye protection, and emergency eyewash stations. Labeling all chemical containers and providing them with adequate storage spaces is, of course, another essential part of keeping disasters at bay. Make sure chemicals are not stored with items that they could react with.
- Ensure proper training for new equipment
Everyone using equipment at work should be trained with regards to methods, risks, guarding, and precautions to consider when using new machinery. Furthermore, multiple training programs, each designed to address a different risk, help workers continuously improve on all aspects of health, safety, and environment.
- Train new hires
New employees are at a higher risk of injury than established ones. So, prioritize and optimize new hire safety, including that of seasonal workers. Training materials and in-class documentation are a great first step to help inexperienced workers adapt to the organization’s culture of safety and stay safe from day one. Check out the New Employee Orientation section of the WCTI Loss Control Manual on the website under Program Documents.
- Provide first aid training
Don’t overlook first aid and CPR training, a potentially life-saving skillset all employees should have. Administering life-saving medical treatments and staying calm during an emergency is especially valuable when working alone.
- Stay hydrated
Work under the scorching sun can be unbearable and potentially life-threatening. Heat hazards such as heat-induced illnesses, heat stress, heat exhaustion, and heat strokes are quite common.
- Take regular breaks
Long working hours, night shifts, time-consuming commutes, and sleep disorders reduce a person’s ability to perform his/her job safely and effectively. Workplace fatigue translates to $136 billion in lost productivity and healthcare costs each year. So, prioritize rest.
- Introduce Risk Reminders
Risk Reminders are a short, yet effective way to get your team talking about workplace hazards prior to a work shift. Keep it straightforward and simple, focus on only a few key points. Ten minutes per day will keep workers alert, improve team communication and remind them of their duties.
- Treat all electrical circuits as live
Electrocutions accounted for all but one of the workplace electrical fatalities. Mishandled energized equipment remains a top cause for all electrical incidents. So, keep in mind to treat electrical circuits as live before performing any electrical work. Don’t forget Lockout/Tagout, if you are authorized or notify an authorized employee if you have a problem with the electricity.
- Encourage a correct posture
There were 308,000 cases involving sprains, strains and tears in 2018. Manual handling of heavy equipment, tiring positions and repetitive tasks are the main causes of musculoskeletal disorders. Remember to educate workers on the importance of a correct posture, provide equipment they can use to help with manual material handling.
- Keep emergency exits clear
Don’t clutter exit paths and report any obstructions to your supervisor. A blocked or partially blocked fire escape route can prove a real impediment for timely and safe evacuation.
- Make regular inspections
Regular safety inspections are essential in maintaining a high-performing safety culture. They help identify potential hazards to prevent workplace accidents and illnesses. Schedule and carry inspections at regular intervals to make sure patterns or trends are identified before anything bad happens.
- Switch to safety leading indicators
Many employers have long evaluated safety performance based on past failures. To gauge the effectiveness of your safety program, you need more than a rear-view mirror look. Safety leading indicators are proactive measures that measure prevention efforts and can be observed and recorded prior to an injury. Safety lagging indicators are reactive measures that track only negative outcomes, such as an injury, once it has already occurred.
- Clean and maintain PPE
The effectiveness and proper functioning of PPE also depend on how well it is cleaned and maintained. If PPE is dirty, it could be broken, cracked, etc., and not be able to protect as it is designed to. Ear muff ear cushions should be cleaned regularly and replaced at least annually. Chemical resistant gloves stained with chemicals could have cuts in the material that you can’t see. PPE is vital on the job and it has to be in its best condition to protect employees.
- Stay up to date with industry standards
Compliance is a hot topic for any safety manager, so make a habit to regularly visit sites for updated standards, subscribe to newsletters, participate in seminars and webinars. Check out the list of training WCTI is offering this year. Don’t forget to inform all the staff on any new legal requirements and refresh their knowledge, too.
- Stay alert and aware of your surroundings
Distractions, such as your mobile phone, make it very difficult to stay aware of your surroundings. Be present and focus on the task you are doing to avoid the risk of injury. If you aren’t accustomed to working in a manufacturing plant, before you take a step, observe your environment.
Source: Honeywell Safety