Some will flat out tell you that workplace accidents are inevitable and that they just happen. While this is true to an extent, there are definitely things you can do to limit and hopefully prevent workplace accidents from happening. The National Safety Council defines an accident as an “undesired event that results in personal injury or property damage.” There’s no question that accidents are undesired, but the question we should all be asking is; Are we doing everything we can to put ourselves in position to limit these events?
Unfortunately, workplace accidents are still a common thing. More that two million workers a year are injured on the job to the point that they cannot return to work and/or need ongoing care. It is in the hands in the hands of safety managers everywhere to do everything possible to protect their employees and put them in the safest environment to work in. I’m not saying it’s possible to prevent all workplace accidents, but here are five suggestions to help prevent the most common accidents in the workplace.
- Avoid Shortcuts- The first time you do something is usually the most thorough and probably the safest. Why? Because you took your time and followed directions. Whereas every time after, you find shortcuts and develop “faster” ways to do the same task. This is how accidents happen. This isn’t always the fault of the employee. All to often, it is the culture of the workplace that puts the pressure on an employee to get as much done as possible while on the clock. This is pitfall of modern society that we think we have to get as much done as possible in the least of amount of time in lieu of, quality or safety.
- Safety On ALL Fours- OSHA claims that workplace-driving accidents account for an average cost of $60 billion a year to employers. Routine maintenance and inspections on a regular basis can reduce this significantly. Also, if you have a safety checklist that had to be conducted before a work vehicle was operated, you could catch hazards quickly and address them accordingly.
- Sustain the Weather- Each new season offers a new threat and a new dimension to the workplace. While most focus on the elements and threats winters has to offer, summer can be just as dangerous. *When it’s cold outside, remember to always dress in layers. It is always easier to take items off, then to find items to add if you’re too cold. Always make sure you have the proper protection for your hands and feet! You can be completely cozy everywhere else, but if your hands and feet are cold or wet, you are more prone to injury and/or frost bite. If you have a locker at work, keep an extra set of clothes, including socks and shoes to change into in case yours get wet. If you don’t have a locker, keep them in your vehicle. On-site heating devices can also be helpful in deterring accidents, if they are in a safe location and actually keep employees warm. *Warm weather conditions require less clothes that are loose fitting, but still safe. The body needs rest and fluids when it’s hot out. Be sure to drink plenty of water take frequent breaks on hot days to avoid dehydration or exhaustion. If you have preexisting conditions, check with your doctor to see what your limits are and under what circumstances. Make sure that any area you are working in has plenty of water available and is well ventilated.
- PPE is Key- Personal Protective Equipment is a huge difference maker when it comes to injury prevention in the workplace. For whatever reason, PPE is neglected. Whether it’s because it doesn’t fit right or employees feel it’s not worth the time to put it on the fact is, there’s never a good excuse NOT to use PPE.
- Clean, Clean, Clean- Poor housekeeping can be major safety hazard in your workplace that many overlook. The longer it continues, the more it becomes the norm, allowing for more clutter to build and increasing the risk of everyone, by that much more. Many organizations are switching to Lean methods that include processes like 5S that target poor housekeeping, but you have to be aware of your problem first before you can attempt to solve it. Take time out of your day to assess your work area critically and examine the possibilities of both the risks it currently has as well as, the benefits that could be obtained with a clean workstation.
Nothing is that important that you should neglect your health and safety. Leaving accidents up for chance is a dangerous way to live and work. These are not life changing adjustments to your day, but sticking to these five simple suggestions, might just be the difference between a near miss and a trip to the hospital.