According to OSHA, in 2013 4,405 workers were killed on the job in the United States. That equates to more than 12 deaths per day from workplace accidents. Of these worker fatalities, 20.3% were in construction. OSHA identifies the four major causes of death in construction as Falls, Struck by Object, Electrocutions, and Caught-in/Between. These four are responsible for more than half (58.7%) of all construction deaths in 2013. 294 deaths were caused by falls, 82 were struck by an object, Electrocutions causing 71, and Caught in/between caused 21 deaths.
It’s important that a safety officer take this assignment very seriously. The life they save could be their own.
What should you do first as the newly appointed Safety Officer? Check previous inspection records if available. Conduct online research by visiting OSHA’s website for tips on workplace safety. Establish a safety policy for your company. Download the FREE workplace safety checklist available at the end of this article.
Below are five safety tips for the workplace
Keep your workstation clean and neat
If you maintain a clean and organized work station, you can easily avoid common hazards. Knowing where cords are placed that are charged and pointed objects that could injure is important in a repair and engineering environment. The image here shows equipment that is under test during the repair process. Notice exposed electrical wires that could cause electrocution. This very neat environment allows the repair technician to know where all danger points are without clutter, keeping himself and others safe.
- Don’t ignore safety items
It’s important to wear the proper safety equipment needed for a job. When working with tools you should always wear proper eye and ear protection, gloves, and safety harnesses. Make sure tool guards on equipment like grinders, CNC machines, and table saws that are designed to keep employees safe are not missing or damaged and in need of repair.
Identify potential hazard areas
Properly mark areas around your company that contain hazards. This reminds employees to be aware of hazardous conditions and that safety equipment may be necessary for those areas. Properly mark and hang fire extinguishers. Clearly identify entries into possible hazard areas (like this paint room is identified in the first photo above). Make sure stairs and doors are free of debris and properly marked for safety. The steps in this photo are painted yellow for higher visibility.
- Keep inspections up-to-date
Ensure that all fire extinguishers and eyewash stations are inspected on a regular basis and note the results on the attached inspection cards. If the station or extinguisher needs to be replaced, do so immediately. Have training periodically with employees on the proper use of both fire extinguishers and eye wash stations.
- Provide Material Safety Data Sheets
Properly store all chemicals in their proper locations. Make Material Safety Data Sheets available to all employees so they are aware of the dangers of any material used in the facility. These data sheets should tell how to properly use the item, how to store it, what precautions to take, and what the employee should do if an accident occurs. Check the expiration dates on all chemicals to make sure they are still valid. Properly dispose of any out of date material according to instructions.
As you begin to make your workplace safe, you should establish a safety policy, share it with employees, and post it in clearly visible locations around the facility. You should also display emergency exit maps so employees stay familiar with how to exit in an emergency. Get all employees on board to fix any potential hazards. Build a safe community where everyone takes responsibility.
Good luck with your new opportunity as the Safety Officer. Don’t forget to download our safety checklist below. Though not all sections of it may fit your company perfectly, this two page list will get you started in the right direction to improve workplace safety.