This week we are celebrating the North American Occupational Safety and Health (NAOSH) Week. From May 4 -10, employers, employees, and occupational health and safety stakeholders from across the continent come together to promote injury and illness prevention in the workplace, at home and in the community.
This year’s NAOSH Week theme is “Make Safety A Habit!”, and it is a call to action to implement and improve safety habits in the workplace. In British Columbia alone, an estimated $17 million in claim costs are paid annually for long term care brought about by workplace injuries in the health care sector. NAOSH Week aims to bring awareness to the habits in the workplace and how these habits help or hinder accident and injury prevention. The end goal is to cultivate a culture where being safe is already a second nature – like putting on your seatbelt upon getting in a vehicle.
For the workplace, safety should be a top priority for everyone – employers and workers alike. If you haven’t done so yet, now is the perfect time to assess the state of safety in your workplace. Celebrate NAOSH Week by jump-starting a campaign on safe habits. Put up workplace safety signs all around your facility and promote safety habits by following these guidelines:
- Set your own safety standards and stick to it. As an employer, make sure the safety regulations established are being followed. As a staff member, make sure you observe safety practices and don’t let others influence you otherwise. If you are not wearing the proper equipment because others don’t, the potential injury you may suffer will be yours alone to live with.
- Operate equipment only if qualified. Working with equipment can be a hazard, which is why training on how to operate them is a must. If you are tasked with handling certain equipment, and have never underwent training before, you need to inform your supervisor so the necessary training can be provided.
- Maintain a healthy respect for machinery. Before using any piece of equipment, makes sure it is in the best condition to operate. Check if the machine is clear of any obstruction that can damage the machine, and potentially injure you or others. Report if you see any problems. Check that all guards are in place, and don’t forget to de-energize the power before operating the equipment.
- Take the initiative to initiate safety procedures. It is your responsibility to call your supervisor and alert management to any problems or potential hazards that you encounter on the job. Report any broken equipment or machinery you may see, and ask for PPE or additional training if it is needed.
- Speak up. Ask questions if you are uncertain of tasks or procedures that you need to do. Do not accept answers that contain “I guess, I think, I assume”. Be certain.
- Exercise care and caution when lifting. Most back, muscle and spinal injuries are from over-straining while lifting, pulling or pushing. Know your limits and do not attempt to exceed them.
- Practice good housekeeping. A clean and organized workplace makes for a safer one. Keep your work areas clean and orderly at all times.
- Dress sensibly and responsibly for your work. Wearing the proper personal protective clothing and other PPE can save your life. In addition to that avoid wearing loose clothing, dangling jewelry and keep your hair tied back so these items don’t get caught in machinery.
The success of NAOSH Week in your workplace depends on your willingness to participate. Your positive attitude can help encourage others to do so as well and plays a major role in preventing accidents and injuries from happening. All you need is a commitment to make safety a habit, and be consistent in practicing it every day, until this new habit becomes second nature. At the end of the day safety is everyone’s responsibility, including your own, so make safety a habit. Do it for yourself and for those around you.
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