Introduction to Workplace Safety
The workplace is often a very busy place, with numerous employees performing various tasks within a shared space. With so many people working on different projects, all under time constraints, it is all too easy to take shortcuts in the area of safety.
There are far too many workplace injuries each year, many of which could have been prevented by following basic safety precautions while performing various tasks. According to the Bureau of Labor, in 2011 there were more than 2,900,000 non fatal workplace injuries in the United States. The year 2011 also saw more than 4,500 workplace fatalities. Clearly this number could be reduced by following some basic safety guidelines.
Promote Safety at the Jobsite
Whether you own your own business, work in management, or are one of the hourly employees punching a time clock, you play an important part in making the work environment safe. Everyone should be encouraged to take part in ensuring that the workplace is a safe one. Hold a monthly meeting to keep everyone up to date on relevant safety issues and to remind everyone of their role in maintaining a safe work environment.
Have An Emergency Evacuation Plan
It is important to have an organized evacuation plan in case of fire, or any other emergency requiring an evacuation should occur. The plan should be posted in prominent locations throughout the building and should include a designated area where employees are to gather after exiting the building. There should also be someone appointed ahead of time, who can do a head count to make sure everyone is safely out of the building and accounted for.
Workplace Evacuation Plans
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Well Marked Emergency Exits
Speaking of evacuations, having lit, clear and well marked emergency exits is very important (its also the law). Make sure that these exits are always kept clear of obstacles at all times. Remember that during an emergency, such as a fire, the lights may be out and there could be a lot of smoke in the air. In an emergency seconds can be the difference between life and death, you don't want people held up by obstacles blocking the exit.
Provide Personal Protective Equipment
It is very important that employees have access to all the necessary safety equipment for the job. Personal protective equipment includes the following:
1. Hearing protection - Exposure to noise above 80 dbs, even for short durations can lead to irreversible hearing loss. It is important that all employees wear proper hearing protection for the work environment.
2. Eye Protection - Eye injuries are a very real danger when working in factories and around machinery. Make sure all employees who are around machines and power tools wear approved safety goggles.
3. Proper Clothing - Again, this will vary depending on the type of work being done. Basically, no loose fitting clothing or jewelry around moving machinery. Also, appropriate clothing when working around chemicals or open flames.
Employees Should Be Properly Trained
It is very important that all employees are properly trained on how to safely operate machinery and equipment used on the job. Put a company training program into place and follow it, no employee should ever be permitted to operate any piece of equipment they are not properly trained to use.
Broken Equipment Should Be Tagged and Removed from Service
Keep Equipment Well Maintained
In order to have a safe and efficient facility, it is very important that there is a skilled service department providing necessary repairs as needed. Equipment that is damaged or malfunctioning creates a potential for accidents and should not be operated until it has been properly repaired and the repairs have been signed off by the technician.
Keeping equipment in good working order will not only reduce the chance of accidents and injury in the workplace, but will boost productivity by reducing down time. As an added benefit, keeping up with the regular maintenance will help prevent more costly repairs in the future.
Provide First Aid and CPR Training
While prevention is certainly the way to go, accidents and injuries do still happen. Having employees who know how to respond in an emergency will go a long way towards minimizing the extent of an injury and every second counts.
© 2016 Christopher J Wood
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