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Top 10 Tips for A Safer Work Environment

Updated on September 18, 2015

Safety First

Do you have a job? If so, you’re likely covered by the United States Department of Labor and their OSHA standards. OSHA, or Occupational Safety and Health Administration, works hard to protect employees across America in the event of a workplace accident. However, their power extends far beyond this, as they ensure that each employer practices and meets safe working conditions for their employers. From restaurants to the backroom at Target (my husband’s job during college), OSHA assures a quality work environment for all involved. Yet, like most things in life, their standards are only as strong as the workers who follow them, keeping the workplace safe and in tact. With a whopping 4,585 workers killed on the job in 2013, it is essential that employees and employers work as one to avoid workplace injuries and fatalities.

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#1 Accidents Are Preventable

Even though the precedence of an accident is that it is, well, an accident, they can actually be avoided. Take that person who slipped on the soaking wet tile floor, essentially tearing out their knee joint; where was the sign signaling slippery? Why was there water on the floor in the first place? Accidents are the result of carelessness in the workplace. Be mindful of your surroundings and proactive when you find something amiss. Whether or not it’s your job to clean up that spilled water, you should still clean it up! One of your team members will be glad you did.

#2 Practice Good Housekeeping

You’ve heard the expression “would you treat your own home like this?”, but now it’s time to put it to good use. As mentioned above, things like spilled water can cause slipping and lead to broken ankles, hurt knees, or worse. Avoid these situations by practicing good housekeeping. Cleaning up after yourself, keeping your workplace clean, and unplugging machinery and turning it off after it has been used are all ways to help keep a cleaner workspace. If you see someone else who is not being mindful of this then discuss your concerns with him or her. There is no problem in expressing worry if it involves your safety and the safety of those around you.

#3 No Shortcuts

When you skip a step in cooking, you have the potential to ruin the dish. Likewise, when you skip steps at work, you’re more likely to find that accidents occur and danger becomes greater. If a manager asks you to complete something at the end of the day, rather than rush and cut corners to get it done, consider asking how important it is that it be finished that day. There’s a chance your higher-up didn’t realize how late in the day it was, or if it’s important they may expect you to get it done and get it done right. Either way, asking will ensure that you avoid rushing through it, potentially leaving a dangerous hazard in the mean time.

#4 Horseplay

Rough housing, joking around, taking a break, no matter what you call it, when you avoid taking your job seriously, you risk putting yourself and those around you in danger. If someone is trying to engage you in horseplay, refuse and explain that you’re not comfortable behaving as such while on the job. Though your refusal might not make you the coolest person in the room, it will help save you from potential injury, as well as those around you. Not everyone is up to the challenge of creating a better work environment, but that doesn’t mean that you don’t have to be.

Michael Scott Shows You How Not To Follow OSHA

#5 Use Equipment Correctly

On the coattails of avoiding horseplay, is using the equipment in your company correctly. Imagine if everyone refused to learn the proper way to run a meat grinder or forklift? Injuries would increase ten-fold, leaving people with mutilated hands or broken bones. Using the equipment as it is meant to be used will help you avoid an accident the vast majority of the time, leaving you safe from harm.

#6 Work Appropriate Tire

Depending on where you work, it’s likely you have a dress code of sorts. Be mindful of what your employer asks you to wear. Where loose clothing is dangerous because you can get it caught in machinery, on hooks, or by tripping on it, tight clothing can be prohibitive to your movements. Likewise, shorts and short-sleeved shirts when not permitted, can lead to severe burns and cuts. There’s a reason that your workplace requires specific clothing for your individual job, meaning that unless you want to fall into a problem or injury, you should be mindful of what your job requires.

#7 Only Do Your Job

At my old job as a server, I was able to work multiple positions: server, cocktail, bartender, and hostess. Because I was well versed in the restaurant industry as a whole and had started my career with the business as a hostess, they trusted me to provide great service wherever possible. The problem, however, began when they wanted me to move bus-tubs, refill the chip station (which was always scalding hot), and move trash. This happened at the peak of our most recent depression, meaning that the company I worked for was trying to cut corners and costs by saving on bussers. Of course, I stood my ground, refusing to lift tubs that weighed upward of 60lbs at a time or haul trash that was not my job, but that didn’t mean my employer didn’t try to make it happen. Understand what your job is and be prepared to do your job and only your job. Doing a job you are unprepared or unfit for can lead to not only the job being done wrong, but to extreme injuries that you could have otherwise avoided.

#8 Understand Your Job

Similar to knowing what your job is, you should be well versed and well trained in the rules and regulations that surround your job. Know how to handle specific machinery so that you do not injure yourself or those around you, understand how to close down a workspace at the end of the day, and understand the risks of what can happen should you do your job wrong. You were hired for a specific task, meaning that your employer expects you to know the ins and outs of that position. If you’re unsure of what all your job entails, ask your employers for a refresher course so that you can perform the job safer and better.

#9 OSHA Supplied Equipment

Not just for Halloween costumes, hard hats, goggles, and lab coats are often requirements for remaining OSHA compliant within the company. It’s important to remember that there’s a reason for your company providing you with these pieces of equipment: for your increased safety. While goggles may feel uncomfortable to wear in the beginning, for example, you should never skip wearing them for fear of getting chemicals or loose debris into your eyes. No matter if they feel awkward, you should always make it a priority to wear your safety equipment while on the job.

#10 You Have A Responsibility

If all else fails, remember that you have a responsibility to yourself, your family, and to others in your workplace to remain safe and free of harm. Ensure that you avoid injury by following these suggestions and see your workplace become an even safer space than before.

If you think that your job can benefit from an OSHA class or training course, you should never feel nervous to ask your employer. Explain that from an employee standpoint safety standards are not being met and that you’re worried what the result will be. Contact your local OSHA training program and see how they can help you with the education, training, and assistance to get your company to where it needs to be in the line of safety.

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