Simple Steps to Workplace Safety
It’s not forklifts, heavy machinery or chemicals that cause the majority of industrial accidents. Rather, slips, trips and falls cause most workplace injuries — and 15 percent of accidental workplace deaths, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
Accidents in the workplace can occur, no matter what precautions you take. The following are some ways you can reduce the likelihood of your workers being injured.
Eliminate tripping hazards
The easiest way to identify tripping hazards is to walk through the shop floor or production area and take a good look around. Any rubber mats that workers stand on while using machinery should be designed for that purpose — made of non-skid material, so the corners can’t fold upward and trip people.
Factory floors should be in good condition. Peeling tile or gouges in the floor that make it uneven should be repaired immediately.
Wires, conduit and cables should be kept out of walkways — ideally in a wire storage caddy. Use cord covers to secure power supplies for machines.
Safeguard against slips
If you have different types of flooring in your workplace, slipping may be more of a risk. For example, if the shop floor is rough concrete but the break room floor is linoleum, employees may slip when stepping from the rough surface onto the slicker one. You can install anti-skid tape in transitional areas that pose a slipping risk.
Water, sawdust and oil are three common causes of workplace slip-and-fall accidents. Educate employees about the risk of walking through areas where floors may be oily or where sawdust may be present. And make sure there are plenty of “caution” signs throughout the workplace — if a worker spills something on the floor and goes to get a mop, the sign serves as a warning to avoid an area until it can be cleaned.
As part of your employee on-boarding process, discuss the importance of proper footwear. Rubber-soled shoes can prevent slipping in most cases.
You might think tree-trimmers or electrical line-workers are more at risk for falls than people who work indoors. But falls can happen anywhere, for any number of reasons. Unstable surfaces, improper use of ladders and uncovered drains can result in debilitating falls. And all of those causes are preventable.
As a first line of defense against falls, make it company policy that a worker using a ladder to retrieve an item — or even to change a light bulb — must always do so in the presence of another worker who’s standing on the ground. The stationary worker may be able to spot unsteadiness before it results in a fall, and if a fall does occur, there’s someone nearby to administer or call for help.
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health offers a free app specifically for assessing ladder safety. Workers can use the app to make sure they’re using the right ladder in the right way for a particular job.
Remind workers that even when they’re in a hurry, it’s never acceptable to stand on a box, climb a shelf or use some other means of reaching an overhead item. And talk to workers regularly and ask if they’ve noticed potential hazards in the workplace. They’ll appreciate that you’re concerned about their safety.