For many workers in America, staying safe on the job is a daily topic of concern. From industrial manufacturing to the energy sector, many fields may place workers in situations that heighten their personal safety risk. This is why there are multiple safety guidelines put into place by organizations like OSHA, and why employers can often feel inundated with information on workplace safety.
Just because safety information exists out there in the ether doesn’t mean everyone is completely aware of all of the procedures and safety equipment available to them at any given time. To help take your workplace to the next level of safety and productivity, check out these tips.
The Basics of Workplace Safety
The fundamentals of workplace safety are a good place to start. Every work environment, no matter the industry, needs to have a clear set of safety rules that all employees understand. It’s important to have your own tailored set of guidelines to go over with your team, as well as rules posted throughout the workplace.
Publish and refresh often: Posted guidelines are particularly important as they ensure that employees are reminded of proper safety procedures every day. Of course, sometimes these tools blur with the day-to-day happenings of a business, meaning it’s crucial that you also conduct periodical workplace safety courses as well. Apart from refreshing everyone’s memory, such courses are also a great way to introduce employees to any new safety guidelines and requirements that have been issued by federal, state or local mandates.
Assign “enforcers”: If employees are required to wear certain gear, stop wearing specific clothing or use particular equipment, then it’s imperative that someone is present to enforce these rules. In many cases, employers find it easy and beneficial to assign someone to be in charge of the safety regulations for their business. Whether this is a supervisor or a particular crew member, this person will be assigned with enforcing such rules.
Maintaining your workspace: Aside from checking to make sure employees follow all safety guidelines, a safety supervisor or “enforcer” should also make sure all workspaces are kept clean and clear of any debris. One of the biggest dangers in the workplace comes from messy areas, because such spaces tend to create danger zones where people can trip and fall. Whether this is a bruise on the leg or a more serious hit on the head, falls are a particularly hazardous (yet avoidable!) risk.
Follow equipment guidelines: Operational instructions for machinery and equipment are created for good reason. It may seem obvious, but everyone needs to remember to follow the proper instructions laid out and not deviate. If this does happen, it can lead to serious personal injury and even major equipment or facility damage. Even if you feel that operating a piece of equipment differently could increase profit or speed up a process, that’s something to bring up with the manufacturer or safety expert — not a decision to be made in house.
Power tools and other types of equipment are tested by their manufacturers based on a variety of operating conditions. The manufacturers then base subsequent safety guidelines off of these test results. When you use products and equipment in a way not suggested by the manufacturer, you run the risk of conducting an untested operation — which means neither the equipment nor product may not be safe to use.
With the basics of workplace safety covered, let’s speak to some more specific areas of concern, as well as some of the products that can help ensure worker safety.
Avoiding Chemical Dangers
Chemical exposure isn’t something that occurs exclusively in a chemical plant. Almost any work environment out there runs the chance of exposing workers to a variety of chemicals — even if they’re just those found in cleaning products. To keep employees safe, you must understand every potential danger of the chemicals present in your workplace.
Reading the labels of different chemical-based products isn’t something that everyone does, but it’s something we all should get into the habit of doing. This is especially true in a work environment where your actions may pose just as much danger to others as to yourself.
If you work somewhere that uses chemicals on a daily basis, keep all of these products in the same area. This will make it easier to keep track of all of the chemicals present and to ensure they’re being put away properly. Remember, many chemicals are also highly flammable, so keep them far away from any sources of fire or heat. Your best bet is to find a place on-site that’s stable — for example, where there’s not much human activity or equipment in operation.
Lastly, workplaces that use a lot of different chemicals should install an eyewash station in case an accident does occur (if not already required in their area for their type of business).
Isolate and Monitor Heavy Machinery
From manufacturing to construction, various types of heavy machinery and equipment are commonplace. Whether you’re working with a backhoe or a forklift, the operator needs to have all training necessary for the task. Many of the injuries that occur in the industrial sector stem from improper handling of machinery and equipment — usually by someone who wasn’t properly trained in the first place.
Something else to keep in mind: If the workers using this machinery need to be in a specific area, then cordon off that area so as to cut down on the number of people passing through that work zone. This is especially useful for those situations where a work zone is amidst of a public space. You don’t want people (especially those untrained in the field) wandering around an area where heavy machinery and equipment are being used. This only increases the odds of someone getting hurt.
Safety Yields Business Stability
Some people will try to get around using safety equipment by citing reduced efficiency or productivity. But it’s actually a myth that using safety equipment will lead to decreased productivity. When it comes to attracting investors, clients or customers, your business needs to uphold a safety standard that’s up to par.
Businesses that take safety seriously are viewed as more dependable and stable — and therefore less of a risk. Improved workplace safety also cuts down on the likelihood that an accident will occur and lead to major injuries or equipment damages, both of which slow production and cost money.
Need another reason to enforce safety regulations and safe equipment handling? Safety regulations mean that equipment and products are more thoroughly tested, which leads to better quality and reliability for users. This is a huge plus for businesses. Safety practices and the equipment designed to aid these practices help to ensure that people and equipment are taken better care of, ensuring that both are able to work better, longer.
Equipment to Consider
Businesses can purchase a variety of equipment designed to increase safety in the workplace, thereby creating a more efficient, productive environment. Much of this equipment reducdes the risk of falls, the most common form of workplace accidents.
Safety gates, which create barriers across any dangerous openings or gaps, are excellent additions to virtually any work environment. Safety gates for walk platforms specifically help to ensure that only select personnel have access to walk platforms. They also serve as a mental check for workers as they cross through the gate, reminding them they’re entering a space where they need to be hyperaware of their surroundings.
Temporary platforms can also be a good investment, as they allow for more stable work areas then freestanding ladders or makeshift raised areas. Not only do they protect workers as they perform their jobs, these platforms can also be easily moved as needed, meaning no production processes are hindered if they need to be repurposed.
Another type of platform that may better suit your business and your safety goals is a rolling platform. These come in a variety of sizes, depending on the height you need to reach. Many businesses prefer rolling platforms because their mobility allows for easier application, and the platform creates a workspace that’s easier to deal with. Since a rolling platform has a larger surface area compared to conventional ladders, it’s easier for workers to bring their tools and equipment with them and have them safely stored on hand.
Gangways, part of a loading and unloading system, are also part of a suite of safety equipment to keep in mind. Especially in the marine or railroad industries, gangways make it easier to safely load or unload cargo vehicles, or to perform maintenance on them. Some gangways feature self-adjusting stairs that will move and level according to the height and angle at which the gangway has been set. This makes for safer access to the vehicle, and makes the job less strenuous for workers.
Not only is it critical to protect your workers from falls, it’s also important to keep employees — and the environment — safe from other hazards, like chemical spills.
Spill prevention systems are perfect for any industry where hazardous material may be in use. These systems help the product remain contained. Bladder spill decks create an excellent base for loading and unloading materials, as they offer a level, stable platform and hidden compartments that will collect and contain any liquid that may have spilled from a container. This not only makes for a safer work environment, it also makes it easier to clean up in the event of a spill.
Another type of spill prevention system is the drum rack system. Storing drums of hazardous chemicals or waste products can be a lot to handle, but, if you have a drum rack system, you can safely stack drums of material without worrying about any of the drums breaking loose and crashing to the floor.
Purchase Quality Products
While safety equipment is a necessary investment for any business, your investment isn’t really worth much if you aren’t investing in quality pieces. To ensure you’re getting the best products for your money, purchase from a company whose specialty is safety equipment— and one that offers a wide range of options. This makes it easier for you to purchase everything you need all in one place, reducing costs, time and hassle.
In the end, you want to buy from a company that knows the level of performance and safety needed in your industry, and that can offer you reliable, long-lasting products that work.