It’s so easy to let good safety practices slide. Like anything else, reminders are always helpful and even the most well established workplace safety practices can benefit from them. So, at the beginning of this New Year, here’s a workplace safety primer to help you keep compliance in check and decrease workplace injuries and fatalities.
1. Safety Management By Walking
Every day, spend a few minutes walking through the areas you supervise and create a checklist to ensure you pinpoint any potential hazards or concerns. Keep an eye on your workers as they work. Make sure they’re wearing the right PPE for the job and following safety procedures.
2. Do Frequent Job Safety Assessments
You know each job in your department so well you can spot every potential hazard. If a different, better method will eliminate that hazard, then introduce it and offer training. If PPE is required, make sure it’s readily available. Have a list of safety requirements and be sure they’re followed.
For example, Slips, trips, and falls hazards at the entrances of construction sites, like rough, uneven ground and icy or muddy surfaces are the second most common area of non-compliance. Be sure to have good fall protection plans in place to prevent incidents.
3. Keep The Safety Conversation Going
At every opportunity you can, talk about safety with your colleagues and workers. Make sure you’re up to date on any new safety information and strategies that affect your workers and your workplace.
4. Problem Solve With Teamwork
Create Safety Teams for solving potential workplace problems. The team members can gather information, analyse possible causes of safety problems, develop and test solutions. They can also implement strategies and monitor results. Working on a Safety Team makes workers feel they’re sharing responsibility for workplace safety for everyone. The added advantage is that it’s a great way to build good company morale. When other workers see what’s going on, they’ll want to join. Teamwork works well in all departments in a company or corporation, not just on construction sites or in mines.
5. What Shape Are Your Workers In?
Be aware of the physical health and conditions of your workers. Out of shape workers or workers returning to work following injuries or with disabilities may not be up to performing their regular jobs. They may need to be temporarily accommodated and reassigned different, less taxing and safer work. Monitor fatigue and illness in your workers – it can affect performance and put them and others at risk.
6. Monitor Changing Attitudes and Behaviours
You’ve all heard this: “Safety is our number one priority.” But when deadlines loom, safety tends to fall back to number two. It’s easy to get careless and take risks. Motivating workers to have safe attitudes consistently can make a significant difference in terms of injuries and fatalities. Safety must be central to a company’s culture, policies, activities, and core values.
“It’s important to have the process be habitual,” stresses Alberta Safety consultant and author Alan D. Quilley, CRSP. The process, the task, needs to happen, not randomly, but safely every time, like buckling up your seatbelt.
7. The Distractions of Technology on the Job
The distractions of listening to music, talking and texting on cell phones while operating heavy equipment and doing other safety sensitive jobs can be disastrous.
Cell phones cause two kinds of risks: distractions and entanglements. According to the HRInsider.ca, Canada’s Online Guide to HR Compliance and Management, in New Brunswick recently, “a road construction worker talking on his cell phone was so distracted that he stepped in front of a half-ton truck.”
Entanglements, like jewellery, are often banned in certain industrial workplaces. Cell phones can get entangled in machinery or interfere with the proper use of PPE.
Occupational Health and Safety legislation hasn’t addressed these newer technologies yet, with the exception of Alberta, where cell phone use is restricted in one small industrial sector – near electronic detonators in blasting operations. That means it’s up to you to recognize the hazards cell phones pose and not leave it up to chance.
8. Reward Safe Behaviours
Everybody wants recognition and approval for a job well done. When it comes to building a safe and compliant workforce, nothing succeeds like success and feeling rewarded for a job well done with positive feedback fills the bill. Tell workers who are following sound and safe work practices that you’re pleased with their work and that their attention to safety is of great value to your company.
9. Make Time To Listen
Be accessible to your workers and be sure they know you are there to answer their questions and listen to their concerns. Focus on them when they come to see you. During Safety Talks encourage your workers to ask questions and let them know your “door is open,” if they want to see you privately.
Alan Quilley has a great way of summing up how crucial safety and compliance are on the job. It’s all about personal responsibility.
“The best safety device I know of is to care about each other,” he says. “If you see something creating a risk or someone taking a risk that they don’t have to take, then intervene. I’m really just suggesting that you don’t walk by and expect that ‘someone’ else will do something about a problem.”
Have a safe new year.