We’ve already covered the importance of screening employees in this Business Tips series, but in any industry, there are potential dangers that can spell disaster if workplace safety is not a top priority for your company.
Whether an employee is talking on a cell phone while working or not wearing his/her personal protective equipment, many workers have placed themselves and others at needless risk to save time or be more comfortable. The bottom line is that the majority of construction accidents are not due to a lack of training, skill or knowledge — nearly all accidents are simply related to poor decision-making.” – Jim Stanley for OHS Online
An article in Occupational Health & Safety Online blames the “it could never happen to me attitude” for countless job injuries, some life-threatening, that fill up emergency rooms every single day. The author recommends building a “culture of safety” that will make it easy to be compliant with regulations and keep everyone safe.
Thinking about safety isn’t just for construction workers
While a lot of folks automatically think about OSHA regulations for those in the construction industry, ensuring your workplace is safe for employees is critical for every industry.
Here are some workplace issues you might not have considered and the action items you can take to keep things safe for your employees and your customers:
Sound Stairs and Flooring
Old carpeting or tiles, or even loose edge caps on stairs, can be a real tripping hazard.
Action Item: Make sure any surfaces on which employees walk are in good shape with no loose areas that can cause someone’s foot to catch when they’re walking on them. If flooring needs to be replaced or stairs need repairs, handle it. It will cost you a lot more in the long run if someone gets hurt than it would have cost to just pay to keep things in good shape.
Floors that are dirty or greasy are an obvious hazard, as they can cause people to slip and fall, but so can clean wet floors that aren’t clearly indicated with easily visible signs.
Action Item: Make sure non-carpeted surfaces are kept clean and not greasy. When the floors are mopped, be sure and use clearly visible signs indicating the floor is wet until it is completely dry.
Storing items incorrectly, or overstacking items can be a disaster just waiting to happen. All it would take is someone inadvertently bumping into a precariously stacked tower of boxes, or even an unsecured shelving unit, for everything to come tumbling down and someone could get injured.
Action Item: Make sure shelving units are securely fastened to the wall with safety brackets and avoid stacking boxes or other objects in work areas where they could potentially get knocked over and tumble down on top of someone.
Cutting or Puncturing Hazards
This one should be obvious, but you don’t want sharp edges, wires, nails, or screws exposed in a workplace where employees can potentially cut themselves or wind up punctured by putting their hand in the wrong place.
Action Item: Cover any exposed nails or screws. Sometimes, even office furniture (like shelving units) can have sharp edges. See what can be done to safely cover those surfaces.
Want some outside help?
Whether you’ve already identified some safety issues in your workplace that need to be addressed, or you’re not sure what safety issues you might be overlooking, it can be a good idea to bring in someone to help you assess the situation, or to fix the problems you’ve already spotted.
Either way, Blue Arbor is likely to have someone to help meet your company’s needs. We have a whole department that specializes in Contracting Services that includes any sort of repairs or maintenance your business might need. In addition, Blue Arbor could help you identify a safety expert who you can hire on a temporary (or permanent) basis to determine the areas where your business needs work.
Workplace safety can also help your employees stay healthy
Often, when we think of workplace safety, we think about preventing acute injuries, but what about repetitive-use injuries?
This is an increasing problem in office workers, as some health experts have compared long-term sitting to smoking as far is its ill effects on health. In the near future we’ll be publishing a full-length post on office ergonomics, but in the meantime, consider the work arrangements your employees have. If they’re standing, do they have anti-fatigue mats to stand on and do they get opportunities to sit when they need to?
For computer workers, do they have plenty of space to work? What about leg space? Cramped legs can cause major issues.
In addition, you might consider the new convertible desks that can go from sitting to standing positions if you have some employees that are known to sit and work for hours without taking breaks. Not only are they putting themselves at risk for blood clots in the legs, but they’re also setting themselves up for some major chronic pain issues.
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Lastly, remember this bit of good advice from a very wise man.
Wise men learn by others’ harms, fools by their own.”
Benjamin Franklin, Poor Richard’s Almanack
In other words, don’t learn things the hard way. Learn, if you can, from others’ experience. Make your workplace a safe place.