What does your business need to know about safety training and workplace accident prevention?
Many construction and general industry workers regard Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) rules as a necessary evil. But the U.S. regulatory agency is a partner in safety that exists to help you, your co-workers and your employees protect yourselves from workplace accidents that threaten your lives and your livelihood.
Why is it so important? The U.S. Department of Labor says nearly 3 million nonfatal workplace accidents, injuries, and illnesses were reported by private industry employers in 2011. 4,609 workers were killed on the job that same year. That’s why OSHA’s 6 best practices to prevent workplace accidents need to be applied in every workplace. They are:
1. Appoint a safety manager. A culture of safety requires a leader—a designated safety coordinator who is knowledgeable about OSHA safety standards. This representative will accompany the OSHA compliance officer in the event of an inspection. In larger organizations, this person will also work with a safety committee to help with regular evaluations and ongoing training.
2. Cultivate awareness and attitude. For far too long, workers knew the rules but ignored them when they were in a hurry to get the job done. There has to be a fundamental change where this mindset still exists. In many cases, the safety manager has to overcome years of unsafe habits. Everyone has to understand that safety is a shared mission. A successful safety program requires that all workers understand the importance of its goals and work together to achieve them.
3. Use incentives. Successful safety programs use incentives to reward workers for doing things right and for creating team-oriented safety practices. From appreciation lunches to cash bonuses, these incentives give everyone a little extra reason to adhere to best practices.
4. Develop a team mentality. Make sure workers are looking out for one another. This doesn’t just mean encouraging workers to snitch on those not working in a safe manner. The credit for doing things the right way (and the blame for doing things the wrong way) has to go to the entire team—not just one individual.
5. Use Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). Using PPE is not only smart—it’s a requirement for many construction and general industry jobs. Hard hats, ear protection, and slip-resistant, heavy shoes are common PPE. Protect your eyes and face with goggles. Protect your hands with the right gloves for the work you’re doing. It’s also important to make sure all tools and equipment are properly maintained at all times—you don’t want a wardrobe malfunction 20 stories high.
6. Develop a plan for your job site. The most important thing is to come up with a plan that serves as a formal written safety and health policy. This plan includes fire prevention, housekeeping practices and an evacuation plan. OSHA says small businesses should have a plan that fits their unique needs and incorporates these elements:
- Management leadership and employee participation: Everyone (workers and supervisors) should communicate to create the safety and health policy and then it should be posted for all to see.
- Workplace analysis: Take a look around for risks. Many are obvious; others require a deep understanding of daily procedures or chemicals used on the job. It’s a good idea to get a second set of eyes—someone trained in OSHA safety procedures—to come in and assist with the analysis.
- Hazard prevention and control: Is there a power cord running across a stairway? Are inventory items stacked so high they’re at risk of falling over? Prevention and control are made up of the steps you will take to fix these dangerous problems.
- Safety and health training and education: Make sure employees understand how they will be trained to learn the safety plan. Make sure they feel empowered to make suggestions. Finally, make sure they have the developmental training they need. OSHAcampus.com has the construction safety training and general industry safety training workers need to get the job done safely.