SAFETY SOLUTIONS: Do You or Your Supervisors Really Care About Worker Safety?
As our country recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic,
we all must take a new look at our programs
and how we conduct ourselves at work. As
we head back to work each day, our minds are often occupied
with things we’re going to do after our shift ends.
Social Distancing, stop by the store, have dinner with a
friend. Binge-watch the many tv seasonal shows or your
other favorite tv show or maybe you go out for a walk or
take your children to the park to enjoy your free time
with them. And while we think about all of these wonderful
things, we are fully expecting that we’ll be able to
go home and do them as planned. But all of that could
change in an instant.
No one goes off to work thinking that someone is going
to get injured or killed that day. And yet it happens.
Workplace accidents claim thousands of lives each year,
and leave hundreds of thousands of workers injured. Take
a moment to see what kind of accidents OSHA is investigating
by following this link. I bet you will find machine
guarding as being a part of this list.
Whether it happens to you, a loved one, or an employee,
a workplace accident or illness can drastically change the
course of your day, your evening, and your life.
Lately, I have been working on six legal cases representing
employees who have received amputations on
machinery that were not properly safeguarded. I fired
one major client because we found 685 machines that
were unsafe in their plant but they wanted us to change
the report. This same company was averaging 36 machinery
amputations every year. Do you know why anyone
would want us to commit fraud? The reason was that
they were selling company to company and the CEO of
this company did not want the buyers to know how bad
the machinery was in that plant.
I have been in the safety, health and environmental
field for the last forty-six years and I have conducted
thousands of audits, investigated hundreds of serious accidents
and fatalities and do you know what I found out?
That in virtually every case the leaders of the company,
all the way down to the workers, did not know what was
in their safety manuals, that management did not conduct
Job Safety & Health Analysis (JSHA) or they did not
receive training in the owners/operator’s manuals and
until someone was seriously injured.
My answer is this “No” not as long as the company was
making money. But most people are ignorant of the hidden
cost of those injuries no matter how small they may
be. Do you as an owner of a company want to make
money? Then ask any of your supervisors if they can answer
various questions out of the safety, health or environmental
manual without them having to look them up.
Safety & Health policies are the lifeblood of a company
and if you or your workers do not know what these documents
state, then like the COVID-19 virus, sooner or
later it is going to hit your company and its profits.
What Is Workplace Safety?
For many business owners and managers, workplace
safety is about keeping up with various industry standards
and OSHA regulations. Safety is viewed as important,
but primarily from a CYA perspective, with the
main goal being to make sure the company is officially
in compliance, and won’t be hit with costly fines or lawsuits.
But workplace safety should be about more than
just meeting standards and avoiding penalties. It should
be about working smarter and safer to ensure that everyone
gets to go home at the end of their shift.
A safe work environment is a productive one. No matter
the size or type of the business, procedures for safety
in the workplace are a necessity for all staff. Safety measures
protect employees as well as equipment and business
property. Avoiding or minimizing injuries and
damage to equipment and facilities will result in fewer
expenses and more profit for a business.
Workplace Safety Hazard Identification
Identifying workplace safety hazards and issues is the
first step in protecting employees. Common work safety
concerns can include ergonomics, presence of hazardous
chemicals, mechanical problems, noise pollution, restricted
visibility, dangers of falling and weather-related
hazards. Issues with non-ergonomic equipment may
cause human health problems, including sore backs and
carpal tunnel syndrome. Chemicals can explode, causing
burns, or pose the danger of poisoning.
Mechanical safety issues can occur related to the operation
of any machine in the workplace. Noise and visibility
issues can compromise an employee’s hearing and
sight. Falls resulting from poor housekeeping or negligence
can cause serious injury and death; procedures
should be in place to prevent them. Ice, snow and rain
can create hazards of their own; employees need to be
trained how to operate equipment safely when weather
conditions are bad.
Workplace Safety Policies
Each business should have a safety policy in place, created
either by management or in a joint effort between
management and staff. Every employee has a role in carrying
out the safety policies. A safety handbook should be
created identifying safety issues and spelling out consequences
of not following the appropriate safety procedures.
Importance of Safety Training
Training is necessary so that employees will know the
importance of safety and how to practice safety in the
workplaces. Depending on the type of equipment used,
the training may be required by a federal mandate. For
example, any workplace that operates a forklift must provide
training for employees for its safe operation. Training
can come from outside experts hired to teach classes or
employees specially trained to perform safety instruction.
Workplace Safety Equipment
Appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) must
be available to anyone who comes in contact with a potential
work safety hazard. This can include hard hats,
protective eyewear, earplugs, shoes, gloves and clothing.
Even an office worker who delivers a message to a work
area near a potential safety hazard must put on the appropriate
Benefits of Workplace Safety
Safety in the workplace results in fewer accidents,
which results in fewer costs for worker’s compensation,
less down time for employees, and less retraining time
for workers otherwise needed to replace an injured
worker. Avoiding damage to equipment will result in
fewer repair costs. Worker performance is improved
when workers know how to prevent injuries and have
confidence in management's active role in protecting
In closing, I have been writing articles for PD&F Magazine
for twenty years and one thing that surprises me
to this day is that no one ever takes me up on my offer
to answer safety, health or environmental questions. I
take time out of my day to write something to help improve
the safety of your workplace because I know that
the publisher and I care about you.
If you have any questions regarding Safety & Health
or Machine Safeguarding, which is still in the top ten
OSHA citations, contact me. I bet that I can find unsafe
machinery in your workplace. If you are located in the
Phoenix area and want to take me up on my bet, I am
willing to give you up to 4 hours of my time to point out
machinery hazards. No one wakes up to go to work and
thinks “gee I think I will cut off my fingers today or be
killed on the job”. My lawsuits all say that management
may have had programs in writing but rarely are they
following them and we live in a world where we have a
throw away worker society. If someone gets seriously injured
they do not feel the pain but the injured employee
does and many will never go home to their families.
For more information, click on the Author Biography link above.