According to OSHA, 4,379 workers died on the job in 2015 due to compromised work safety or illnesses. This figure translates to about 13 fatalities each day, which is a worrying figure considering that most of these deaths are preventable.
Workplace safety for any institution is important, regardless of whether the job involves heavy manual labor or simply sitting the whole day. There are precautions you can take in order to ensure that you stay on top of your health and safety at the workplace, so make sure you’re doing everything you can by following our advice below.
Be Familiar With Your Surroundings
This is the first and most important step to ensuring your workplace safety. By knowing the location of most items and areas, you are able to avoid walking into potential danger zones. Also, ensure that you take note of the locations of any machinery.
Report Unsafe Conditions
Unsafe conditions may vary from a spill on the floor to an unstable crane. Make certain to avoid, deal with or report these conditions when you make not of them. For example, when walking, ensure that you keep an eye out for any spill. If you find one, clean it up or find someone who will. Other unsafe conditions like unstable beams or cranes should be reported to your superiors immediately.
Correctly Lift Objects
You might be required to lift something most days at the workplace, be it a box of files or a cement mixer. Make sure to do the following when lifting:
- If you don’t know what the contents of a box are, gauge its weight by pushing it slightly using your foot.
- Wear non-skid shoes to give you a firm grip on the floor, especially when the object you are lifting is heavy.
- Don’t jerk your body around because doing this repeatedly may cause an injury to your back.
- Use your legs rather than your back to lift the object.
As mentioned above, not all work hazards are as a result of manual labor. If you are stuck behind a desk throughout the day, it is important that you employ the correct sitting posture.
When sitting, hold your back straight at a 90-degree angle. An ergonomic chair is recommended, as you can adjust it to suit the curve of your back for support. The chair height should be adjusted to enable you to sit close to your workstation and tilt up at it.
When working, your elbows and arms should rest on the chair or desk while keeping your shoulders relaxed. Your computer’s monitor should always be kept at eye level to prevent the straining of your neck and upper back.
Move around at regular intervals to relieve your limbs. You are advised against sitting in the same position for more than thirty minutes to an hour, as this might cause cramping or long-term health effects.
Fire safety is paramount in ensuring that you stay safe around the workplace, especially where there is a greater risk of the hazard. Keep the following tips in mind:
- As an employee, ensure that you are familiar with all the fire regulations and plans for the worksite. Participate actively in the fire drills to give you a picture of what to expect if a fire breaks out. As an employer, ensure that you have a fire plan. Moreover, you should carry out fire drills in order to prepare your employees for a potential fire.
- There should be a designated storage area for all items that are fire hazards. Examples are cleaning chemicals that may emit vapors that are flammable.
- It is important to understand how different fires are put out. For example, an electric or oil fire cannot be put out using water. In the case of the former, water will act as a conductor, adding electrocution as an added risk during the inferno. On the other hand, oil is hydrophobic so dousing it with water can actually amplify the fire.
Use Machines Properly
If you are tasked with operating a machine, ensure that you use it in accordance with the given instructions. Avoid shortcuts and ensure that you take all the recommended precautions. This reduces the potential for injury at the workplace greatly.
Use Mechanical Aids When Possible
This is especially the case when the object that you are attempting to carry is heavy. Even though it might cost you an extra minute to use a machine, it prevents the occurrence of injuries. Mechanical aids include forklifts, conveyor belts, and wheelbarrows.
Take Regular Breaks
Statistics indicate that a person is 2.9 times more likely to suffer from a workplace accident if they are exhausted. Exhaustion leads to dozing off or reduced concentration, and this reduces your alertness to your surroundings. It may cause accidents such as slipping or cuts due to the wrong operation of machinery. By taking regular breaks, you freshen your brain. The jobs that require the most concentration should be scheduled when your brain is alert to help reduce the chance of mistakes.
Avoid Drugs and Alcohol at the Workplace
It should go without being said, but stay away from drugs and alcohol in the workplace. Drugs and alcohol alter your state of mind by compromising your decision-making abilities. The probability of making a mistake when high or drunk increases significantly if your body operates under the influence of a substance, which is why they contribute to approximately 3% of all work-related accidents. Don’t put yourself and others at risk by working under the influence—stay sober or stay home.
Deal With Stress
Stress can be caused by issues at home or work. At the same time, being stressed can reduce your concentration when working. To ensure that you are in a proper state of mind, avoid stress when you can and reduce it if possible. Take a break to breathe some fresh air, meditate or even use a stress ball to help reduce stress levels at work. Any concerns that may increase your stress at work should be reported to your superiors.
There are preventative measure you can take to ensure your health and safety isn’t compromised by your work, regardless of industry. However, some situations just can’t be prevented. If you’ve been injured due to your workplace, consult with an expert worker’s compensation attorney right away. We can help get you the fair compensation that will help you through this difficult time.