A Review Lesson
by Dale Malcolm
Over the last two years I have written several articles on safety in the workplace. I hope that writing these articles may have helped prevent at least one injury. As I reflect on some of the articles I have written, I want to revisit some of the key points covered.
Policies and Programs
Safety starts not in the shop, but in the office. It is up to the owner and/or manager of a business to learn about the appropriate Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) standards for his business type and to set in place rules and programs that cover those standards. Your programs and policies should be focused primarily on reducing the most frequent types of injuries in your business.
It is difficult to enforce safety rules unless they are written down and distributed to all employees. It is also important to enforce all safety rules with all employees from the owner to the newest trainee. Hold regularly scheduled safety meetings with all employees to review safety rules and to evaluate changing or creating other rules as appropriate.
Once you have some rules in place, be sure that all employees have been issued job-appropriate safety equipment like safety gloves and glasses for all installers. Your office staff will need safety glasses if they are expected to venture into the shop. Installers who work on a mobile basis may need to be assigned a portable ground fault unit for use in wet areas when using electrical equipment.
It is critical that you document the distribution and receipt of safety equipment by each employee. Employees are also required to follow the company policies for their use and should sign a document that states they understand both.
Fire And First Aid
Here are two items that everyone hopes they never need. A well-equipped first-aid kit can prevent minor injuries from requiring a trip to the emergency room or assist in treating that minor injury properly to prevent infection. It is also recommended that you purchase and maintain an eye flood station to treat foreign chemicals or objects that may get in someone’s eye. Every mobile unit should have an ABC-type fire extinguisher as well as an appropriate number of extinguishers in the shop. These should be located near exits, clearly marked and visible and no further than 75 feet from any point in your shop.
Too many people think that a simple 110-volt AC electrical outlet will not kill them. Unfortunately, there are too many people killed each year who thought this was true. All electrical equipment cords and extension cords should be inspected weekly for cuts in the insulation or exposed internal wires at the tool or plug ends. Bad cords on equipment should be replaced and the tool taken out of service until repaired. Extension cords with cuts in the insulation should be disposed of and bad ends replaced with approved industrial quality replacement ends. All shop outlets should be protected by ground fault interrupter (GFI) devices. Ground fault interrupter devices will save lives when used properly.
According to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics the highest cause of worker fatalities in 2002 was transportation-related accidents. This included highway, non-highway, air, water and rail fatalities. Twenty-five percent of these fatalities were highway incidents.
Make sure all vehicles are inspected regularly for broken headlights, bad tires and other safety-related systems. Vehicles in need of repair should be taken out of service until repairs can be completed. Be sure to have regular maintenance performed to keep vehicles running in a safe condition.
If you have employed ten or more people at the same time in the last calendar year, you must complete an OSHA 300 log and post it in your business from Feb. 1 to March 1 for the previous calendar year. OSHA citations and fines often occur due to a failure to keep proper records—almost more often than other problems are spotted.
Finally, remember that all accidents can usually be attributed to any of the three following conditions:
• Haste- rushing job can cause mistakes to be made that may lead to an injury;
• The second is fatigue- whether you are physically or mentally tired drained, fatigue can lead an injury; and
• The final contributing factor is distraction- it could be a sudden noise or a pretty girl walking by if you don’t pay attention to what you are doing, an accident might be just around the corner.
Workplace safety is not a difficult thing to get a handle on. With some time and patience it is a very simple process that needs constant vigilance. Give safety the attention it needs and the rewards will make the effort worthwhile.
For more information about OSHA, visit www.osha.gov.
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