Written by Daniel Aday, CompOne Administrators Safety & Loss Prevention Specialist
When it comes down to it, every accident that happens has a common theme: not understanding the hazard, or the potential hazard. This might be due to a lack of training, understanding, care, awareness, PPE or another factor that is lacking. When we are constantly aware of our surroundings, know where the hazards are, know the consequences of the hazards and know how to handle each hazard, then we can take one step closer to being an accident-free workplace. There is a saying, “The safest workplace is one that has their doors closed.” This means that as long as there is work being performed, there are hazards for someone to get hurt. General workplace safety consists of three main aspects: be aware of your surroundings, do not become complacent, and continually improve on the safety of tasks.
Time and time again, I see on incident reports: “Be more aware of your surroundings.” While it may seem insignificant to most, I would argue that there is quite a bit of truth to it. With the number of distractions we face at work – including cell phones, co-workers, noise, customers/residents/general public, time crunches, pressure from managers, thinking about things not work-related, etc., – it is easy to become distracted. However, it is hard to say “just ignore those thing and focus on the task at hand.” Instead, you can reduce the distractions as well as possible to make them more manageable. Too noisy? Get ear plugs! Always tempted to check your phone? Turn off data or put your phone on silent. Non-work stressors keep popping in your head? Keep a small notepad with you and write items down, so you do not have to constantly remind yourself of them. Then, check back on them after work.
Complacency starts out as a small drop of confidence, but slowly grows with each corner that is cut. When we build up too much confidence in taking short-cuts, not wearing PPE or not following policy, we tend to get bitten by complacency. This may be a cut on the hand from a broken hand tool, or having to go see a chiropractor from slouching in our chair for the past 10 years. There are two notable groups of seniority that make up the majority of accidents: those who just started (have not learned the hazards of the task) and those who have worked the longest. For the second group, there are many factors contributing to why they are involved in accidents, but complacency is a key reason. If you find yourself saying, “really quick” after saying you need to do something, stop and ask yourself: Are you are saving time by not following safety rules?
Last, but not least, there is always room for improvement. Whether you are a small business with less than 10 people, or a fairly large operation, always seek out how you can improve safety. Improvements should not only be made by upper management, owners and supervisors, but by all levels of employees. Create a suggestion box and actually evaluate and implement suggestions. Allow for a workplace that promotes and encourages safety ideas. You can create incentives for those who create and implement safety improvements as part of their daily duties. OSHA and MIOSHA continue to modify and change regulations. At the very least, you should check in on these updated regulations and see if you need to make any changes to your own company policy.
As much as it hurts to say “accidents happen,” there is truth in it. Accidents may happen, but the same accident should never happen twice! Find good corrective actions once an accident occurs, inform all affected by the incident of the changes to come, retrain as needed and ensure your policy is enforced. Continue to improve, and if you are not sure where to start, check to see where you are with an internal or external audit.
If you or your company are looking for any assistance with general safety, safety training on any topic, incident investigation or external auditing, feel free to reach out to me, Daniel Aday, at email@example.com or at 734-309-3456.