Five Essential Workplace Safety Tips for Everyone to Know

distracted worker not paying attention to boss

Workplace injuries and accidents take a huge physical as well as financial toll. In the US alone, this economic cost is nearly $200 billion every year. There are an estimated 23,000 injuries in the workplace every day, resulting in more than 5,000 deaths annually.

There are obviously many complexities, causes and potential solutions to reduce this overwhelming cost in dollars and in human suffering. From our perspective, we can attest to the need for every business or organization to put safety at the forefront of its management efforts.

There are some relatively simple things that management and employees can do in the workplace to help reduce those numbers. Here are five simple safety tips for everyone in the workplace to know and follow.

Awareness of Surroundings & Situations

distracted factory worker on phone unsafeWhile this first tip may sound obvious, it’s one of the more difficult ones to accomplish.

Many distractions can arise in life – issues at home, stress at work, phone calls, and so on. Any one of these could cause someone’s mind to wander, putting that individual as well as his or her teammates at risk.

It is especially important to be aware of hazardous areas and situations, such as areas with vehicular traffic. Workers should be encouraged to avoid distractions, keep eyes and minds on task, and always be on the lookout for potential risks.

A proactive workplace is a safer workplace.

Identify and Report Violations & Unsafe Conditions

Every employer has a legal obligation to provide a safe workplace. Employers are subject to laws and policies which outline what that safe workplace must entail. Thus employers should actively encourage their staff to work safely as well as to help identify unsafe conditions.

The workplace culture should be that employees are rewarded, not punished, for identifying and reporting safety violations and risks.  Employees should be encouraged to speak up about safety, and to report any violations or unsafe conditions immediately.

Housekeeping Prevents More Than Just Germs

tidy workplace is a safe workplaceSlips, trips and falls cause the vast majority of workplace (and home) injuries. Proper housekeeping practices and general awareness could eliminate many of these accidents.

Tools should be returned in their place, and the job site fully cleaned following maintenance or repair work. Emergency exits must be kept unblocked. A regular schedule of inspections is to be carried out.

Consider implementing a “5S” system:

  • Sort
  • Straighten
  • Shine
  • Standardize
  • Sustain

This will help improve housekeeping practices, helping to prevent incidents & injury and thus encouraging a culture of safety.

Use the Correct Equipment for the Job

types of PPE personal protective equipmentUsing the correct equipment doesn’t just apply to tools, although that is important. Don’t try to use a hammer as a wrench. Get the right tool for the job, even if it means having to shut down a repair to go back to the shop for the right equipment.

Proper equipment also applies to personal protective equipment, or PPE. The employer should provide PPE to staff for protection of vision, hearing, feet, hands, body and head. PPE should be worn as required by the employer and in accordance with manufacturer guidelines. Old, worn, or defective PPE should be replaced.

Follow Procedure and Safe Practices

Written procedures should exist for all major and repetitive jobs in the workplace.  These procedures should be developed by teams familiar with the jobs, and should be documented, published and updated as needed.

Good procedures will provide a step-by-step outline of how to do a job, what PPE is required to do it, and what to do in case of problems or issues in performing the task.

Following these five simple steps, not only at the workplace but also at home, should help you stay safe in both places, and not become another statistic in the injury lists.  Please contact your employer or supervisor if there are any questions about your workplace rules covering these situations.

For more on how to foster a workplace culture of safety, talk to Advanced Consulting & Training. We provide safety training courses and consulting across Ontario, and have helped hundreds of organizations improve and maintain their safety culture.