Workplace safety is everyone’s responsibility. It’s key for leadership to set corporate policies that work toward creating a safe and functional work environment. But it’s also important for workers themselves to help identify unsafe situations. Here’s what you should do if you even feel unsafe on the job.
Most Accidents Are Avoidable
OSHA releases an annual report detailing the top 10 most common safety citations. There is a lot to learn from these common concerns. The trend of easily avoidable accidents occurring time and again is unsettling, particularly because more than 4,500 workers are killed on the job every year in the U.S., and about 3 million are injured. The top 10 citations rarely change, so the best thing to do is for workers to learn from and understand how to avoid the mistakes of others.
Falls are regularly among the leading causes of worker deaths and injury. Citations are often due to lack of simple fall protection such as floor hole covers, guard rail and toe-boards for elevated open-sided platforms, safety harness and lines, nets, and handrails. These actions protect workers from falls, but only if employers and employees take the issue seriously.
Scaffolds and ladders are two more common sources of accidents. OSHA provides specific instruction on how to improve the safety of both suspended and narrow frame scaffolds, along with best practices for ladder use (OSHA guidelines). Following guidance on construction, use, load, and minimizing hazards can help to reduce the number of incidents drastically.
Machine guarding violations are often to blame for deaths and injuries from lack of protection. This is a great concern because by simply installing guards to keep hands, feet and other appendages away from moving machinery prevents amputations and worse. Additionally, far too many workers are killed or injured every year by machinery that starts up suddenly while being repaired, or hands and fingers are exposed to moving parts. Proper lockout/tag out procedures ensure that machines are powered off and can’t be turned on while someone is working on them.
Communicate Your Concerns
These are just some of the many workplace hazards that can be an issue in maintaining your safety on the job. If you notice any such safety violations as the ones mentioned above, bring it up to your supervisor and if no action is taken, raise the issue to more senior leadership. Risk communication is another often-cited hazard from OSHA’s annual report.
Failures in hazard communication can easily result in accidents on the work site. Remember that safety is and should be considered everyone’s responsibility, so communicating risk and hazard recognition should be a top priority. If you feel unsafe on the job, say something. You are protected as a whistleblower, so speak up and make the changes you need in your work environment.
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