Tips: An Injury-Free Worksite
By Kimberly Daise
Keeping workers safe is the best way to keep your workers’ compensation costs down.
Assess the risks
Before sending workers into areas with known or unknown hazards, companies should be very familiar with the risks involved. For example: construction workers shouldn’t put ladders or scaffolding on unstable grounds, electrical workers shouldn’t be lifting utility wires on windy days, a roofer should not be installing truss in high winds, and office workers shouldn’t be sent on an errand in a company car that has issues with the basic equip like balding tires and it raining outside.
Companies can begin to identify risks by looking at the worker, tasks to be done, tools and the environment and how they may relate to one another. Some things to consider include overhead obstructions, power lines, moving equipment at the site, debris such as tree branches or cords, drop-offs or holes, rain, snow and other weather conditions, inadequate ventilation or lighting and the condition and age of the safety equipment or all equipment on the job.
Assess the situation
• Walk and look around the worksite. Take notes of anything you see that may be a problem or concern.
• Talking with people familiar with the work. They may have valuable information. Get employees involved in the process. Take a look at the equipment they are using regularly to make sure it is being properly maintained.
• Visit OSHA’s website. They provide good information regarding Hazards and safety guidance.
• Read the instructions and material safety data sheets from manufacturers.
Once hazards are identified, there are various controls to reduce risks to employees.
Train/ Educate Workers
Your workers need to know what the risks are and how to avoid them. Without training a disaster is likely to occur. For example, if falling debris is a danger, workers should be told to keep a distance and wear head protection at all times.
Also consider, assigning responsibilities to specific personnel better ensures proper oversight is taken. Every employee needs to be aware of their own responsibilities for health and safety, and be familiar with ways to manage the hazards. All employees who may be exposed to a workplace hazard should be required to receive training.
Issues they should understand are:
• Emergency procedures
• Injury/incident reporting procedure
• What to do if someone is injured
• Proper use and maintenance of the equipment
Prepping for Specific Activities.
Employers should make all necessary preparations before workers enter the worksite. Never seen an employee to a worksite, that has not been inspected.
Conduct a prep session before the work begins. This session before the work begins allows one more opportunity to make sure workers know what they will be doing, how to prevent injuries, and give the employee the opportunity to ask any questions or comments they may have about the job and the worksite. Often workers come to a worksite and have experienced risk situation that maybe helpful to the employer as well. Depending on the worksite, it might also be advisable to act out skits where employees could or will face hazards and how they should handle them.
OSHA requires that employers provide workers with an environment that is “free from recognized hazards.” Use the simple, common sense tools to try to recognize and eliminate the hazard before the injury happens.