4 Safety Tips That Save Workers' Lives

As the seasons change, so do the dangers posed to workers. While the Occupational Safety and Health Administration has a number of regulations in place to curb the risks associated with many jobs, the truth is the agency is quite small.

There’s just one OSHA officer for roughly every 60,000 workers, according to OSHA, which means safety managers carry the bulk of the responsibility in making sure employees and their work environment are safe. This is easier said than done, so here are some tips that can help an organization get started on the right track:

1. Fatal Four

In 2014, there were 4,386 private sector employee fatalities, or 13 each day over the course of the year, OSHA reported. An overwhelming one out of every five of these deaths came from the construction industry. In particular, the Fatal Four accounted for 545 of them.

Tip: Reduce Fatal Four injuries by developing routines aimed at mitigating exposure.

Falls, electrocutions, struck by object and caught-in/between incidents all form this infamous group. All of these accidents are entirely avoidable if properly accounted for. For example, Health Day reported scaffolds and ladders should be inspected, secured and anchored before use. Nets should be used for extreme heights.

As for the other three, simple worksite awareness creates a safe environment. Those working with wires should first turn off all power at the location, and then put on rubber gloves, boots and a hard hat. Also avoid damp or wet locations. Being aware and vocal about large equipment on the move within a worksite can help employees avoid the latter two incidents of the Fatal Four.

Safety tips
Thoroughly inspect and clean winter worksites each day.

2. Worksite cleanup

It’s likely over the next few months that worksites will become littered with leaves, snow and ice. These conditions contribute to an unsafe work environment and should be a priority on organizations’ safety checklists.

Tip: Clean the location before working.

This seems like a simple habit that every safety manager should have in place, but larger organizations can’t keep eyes on every worksite. This means designating an employee to conduct site inspections before the day begins to avoid any potential oversight.

This all starts with keeping an eye on weather patterns. Strong winds and blizzards can create unsafe work environments, and companies should avoid sending workers out those days. Leaves and ice should be removed from a worksite and organizations should provide a warm area for employees to take breaks in. Most important is providing the right safety equipment for workers—it’s easy to catch hypothermia without the proper clothing. The source also recommended providing proper training on how to spot the signs of frostbite and how to stay warm throughout an eight-hour workday.

3. Better organization

Things can get chaotic inside a warehouse. Employees move all over the place, while forklifts weave in and out to reach their final destinations. If the majority of workplace accidents stem from the facility, it could be because of a lack of organization.

Tip: Designate specific areas for specific functions.

“Extra signage and demarcated lanes for operation create a safe work environment.”

Workplace accidents involving hazard communication and forklifts are both in OSHA’s top 10 most frequently cited standards. Reducing exposure to these incidents is crucial in creating a safe work environment. Designating certain areas of the warehouse for distinct operations will help employees stay aware of potential accidents and could reduce the number of incidents occurring.

For example, mark common forklift routes with a clearly visible yellow line. This helps drivers stay on course and gives a subtle alert to the rest of the workers on the floor to watch out for any incoming traffic. Hazard communication signs should be plentiful, and a first-aid station should be in plain sight so it’s easily accessible in the case of an emergency.

4. Follow the data

Employees can never receive enough training. If you find your workplace is still having accidents occur, you should track these incidents, identify the root cause, correlate the incidents with contributing factors, and implement corrective actions—which often involve training.

Tip: Use data to identify hotspots for injuries.

OSHA’s new digital reporting rule makes tracking injury data easy. Companies can use Environmental, Health and Safety software to line up injury rates against test scores. If employees score low in the same area that a lot of accidents originate, then a safety manager should schedule more training sessions to inform workers of the correct way to complete that particular task.

Analysis is essential in figuring out how an organization’s employees incur injuries on the job. Safety managers should make these figures visible to every worker. When it comes to safety, transparency is key, and companies that embrace that mantra will undoubtedly have an easier time creating a safe work environment.

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