As a safety guy, I often turn to the internet for research on particular safety issues. Regardless of the issue, there is always a wide variety of material to be evaluated before I pass information onto a client. With most internet searches I often find material I cannot use for one reason or another. While the subject may be serious, the perspective of the site creator often creates hilarious results.
There are a bazillion sites on the internet that contain funny photos of everyday workers doing some really stupid things. I often wonder why someone bothered to take the photo instead of warning the worker about what is to happen. No doubt, sometimes workers leave their brains at home…
How we look at challenges often determines how safe we decide to be on the job. For example, what is “safe” for a 25 year old firefighter who climbs a thirty foot extension ladder to rescue a toddler from a burning apartment would not necessarily be “safe” for an overweight sixty year old faced with the same challenge. While the sixty year old could possibly meet the challenge of saving the toddler using other means, his perspective in evaluating the requirements to meet the challenge is markedly different than that of the firefighter.
The Importance of Common Sense
Whenever I’m speaking to a group of employees about workplace safety, I always tell them that on-the-job safety is a matter of common sense. Using common sense means thinking about the task at hand and then determining the safest way to achieve the required result.
Common sense is NOT something we are all born with. While most of us have enough common sense not to reach into a hot oven without an oven mitt to retrieve the just-baked apple pie, some people still do just that. Some of those are elected to public office…
Lack of USING common sense when faced with a challenge at work has caused many a worker to be injured. The lucky ones live to fight another day.
Wearing the appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) for the type of work you’re doing is another measure of common sense. Most industrial and construction endeavors have rigid rules about what PPE must be worn when doing which task. Proper new employee orientation and training should at least make new workers aware of the dangers associated with the tasks they will be assigned.
Enforcement of safety rules by supervisors including discipline for violations is an important step toward maintaining worksite safety. A supervisor who fails to ensure that all his charges are properly outfitted with the necessary PPE is just as guilty as the worker who is injured because he is not using the prescribed PPE.
Frontline supervisors MUST lead by example in order to be effective. A “by the rules” supervisor will earn the respect of the troops much quicker than one who breaks the safety rules himself. “Do as I say, not as I do” doesn’t work with adults.
Using the Right Tool for the Job in the Proper Manner
Most of us at one time or another has placed our bodies in danger of injury by using ladders. I have seen female third-grade teachers attempt to stand on a swivel chair to reach the wall above the blackboard to staple a streamer for decoration. I have seen 30 something electricians stand on the top step of a six foot step-ladder to reach into a dropped ceiling to connect a wire. I have seen THREE construction workers attempt to descend a 20 foot extension ladder at the same time! The list goes on and our workers’ compensation loss runs swell because of these incidents.
Our good friends at OSHA spend a lot of time investigating ladder accidents. Almost all of them are caused by the user doing something he shouldn’t – using the wrong type of ladder, using an extension ladder that is not properly anchored, or using a ladder that is too short for the job.
Most workers want to do a good job – either to please their boss or to get finished with the project and move onto something else. Using ladders improperly or using the wrong ladder is a sure-fire way to have an accident.
Be Constantly Aware of Your Surroundings
Employees with the perspective of working safely must be constantly aware of their surroundings while on the job. This is especially true for construction workers and others whose job site is populated by other workers from different companies. No amount of OSHA regulation and no company safety rules can replace the importance of being alert and aware on the job.
Common sense, using the right tool for the job in the proper manner, and being constantly aware of your surroundings on the job help workers formulate a safety perspective. A safe workplace is one in which the corporate culture is founded on these and other safety principles.
At Employers Resource, our team of safety professionals assists our clients to develop and implement a culture of safety among the employees. To find out how we can help your company, visit our website or give us a call. We are ready to help!