Repeatedly deviating from safety best practices until that behavior becomes your new “normal”.
So many workers take chances with their safety for many reasons.
- They may be in a hurry
- They may see the task as easier to perform if they skip safety procedures.
- They may not have the right tool or personal protective equipment to do the job safely.
Whatever the reason, they convince themselves “it will only take a second” and go ahead and proceed unsafely.
The problem is when they take these shortcuts, and get away with them, they are more likely to do it again, and again, until it becomes a habit or the new “normal.” It is only a matter of time before this new normal has a negative outcome, such as an injury or accident.
Recognizing your At-Risk Behavior
If we find ourselves taking shortcuts on safety, we know down deep that we are taking a risk. Safety rules have been established for a reason. They are established from lessons learned. Someone was hurt or an accident occurred and through these events a safety rule was established to prevent it from happening again.
The bottom line is we need to follow the rules and take the time to do our jobs in a safe manner.
10 Tips to Create a Safe Workplace for Everyone
Follow the Rules. Rules and regulations are there for a reason — to keep people safe. If your workplace has a rule against talking on the phone while walking through a particular area or wearing additional protective gear for specific tasks, you need to follow it. By breaking the rules, you could put yourself or others in danger.
Wear Appropriate Safety Gear. Wear your gear when on the site. Period. No exceptions. You are on a construction site so the hard hat must be worn as well as proper footwear and safety glasses. Safety orange or yellow must be worn when vehicle traffic is present. Face shields worn when grinding or using a demo saw. Gloves when handling sharp or abrasive materials. Rubber gloves or boots when working with concrete. Fall protection when working at elevation. Respirators when needed, etc.
Be Mindful of Your Surroundings. It is important to always be aware of what is going on around you at all times. This is important because distractions can cause injuries. When you are in an area with hazards or an ongoing job, be extra careful of the path and the things around you. It is often best to turn off your cell phone so that you are not distracted by texts or calls. Also, make sure tools and machinery are not moving before you go near them and watch out for the work-in-progress signs before you step into an area.
Use the Right Tools for the Job. If you are using a tool created for a different type of task, you could end up with an injury. The best way to avoid injury is to use machines, tools, and equipment the right way. This includes:
- Using guards and other safety devices when they are available.
- Following the instructions provided by the manufacturers of the tools and equipment.
- Referring to the standard operating procedures when choosing the tools for a job.
Put Away the Equipment After Each Use. This includes items, such as extension cords, ladders, and other tools. Having these items lying around can be dangerous for both you and your coworkers. For example, tripping over an extension cord or ladder in the middle of a workday could lead to serious injuries. Laying out tools where others cannot see them could also create safety hazards since others may not realize those tools are there.
Dress Appropriately. Proper clothing can reduce workplace injuries and help you stay comfortable at the same time. This means wearing shoes and clothing that protect you from cuts, falls and slips, especially if you work near moving machinery or sharp objects or in high-risk areas like construction sites. Remember these basic rules:
- Never wear jewelry, such as rings, bracelets, or neck chains when working with machinery or power tools.
- Long hair must be tied back.
- Loose clothing must be secured.
- Clothes should not drag on the floor, and pant legs should be tucked into boots.
Report Unsafe Working Conditions. If your job site is marked by broken equipment, hazardous materials, or other potential dangers, report it to your employer. Also, do not forget to report near-miss incidents as it helps create a safer work site.
Conduct Regular Safety Audits. Regular safety audits and site inspections can unveil much more than safety violations at your workplace. It can pave way for a culture where employee safety is given utmost priority. Including the right questions in your checklists will ensure you don’t miss any violations and also attain compliance.
Fit for the job. Come to work in good physical condition. Get plenty of rest. Remain drug and alcohol free. Stay focused on your work and safety.
Accident Investigation. All accidents/injuries must be reported and investigated to determine root cause and develop preventive actions.
Ramesh NairRamesh Nair is the Founder and Principal Partner of Safetymint. “Top 10 Workplace Safety Tips.” Safetymint, 17 Feb. 2023, https://www.safetymint.com/blog/top-10-workplace-safety-tips/.