Friday the 13th | 13 Tips to work SAFER
Don’t give Friday the 13th any ammunition. Read on for 13 tips to work safer and enhance your workplace safety in (un)celebration of Friday the 13th. Don’t leave your workplace safety to luck, put safety tips like these to work so you can rest assured you’ll return home safe each and every day…Even on the unlucky days!
1. Place Importance In Your Workplace Safety
When it comes to workplace safety, the #1 most important thing is that YOU place value in working safe. All the training, preparation and safety measures in the world cannot combat a lack of interest – You must be in charge and value your own safety. It can be easy to sink into a routine at work, but sometimes it’s worth taking a step back and evaluating. Are you taking the time to put on all your required PPE? Are you following safety procedures? Are you rushing through work that should be done with more care? Don’t let yourself look back and say, “I wish I would have been more careful!”
2. Report Unsafe Conditions
The 2nd most important aspect of workplace safety is reporting unsafe conditions or safety hazards. Employee observations can be extremely important in preventing accidents. Even the best of employers with safety front of mind can miss safety hazards if they are not reported. Especially within large organizations, leaders may not see all aspects of every department, and you can’t fix something you don’t know is broken! For this reason, it is extremely important to report ANYTHING you think maybe a safety hazard. It’s always better to be safe than sorry!
3. Be Aware Of Your Surroundings
All too often when workplace safety incidents happen, you hear the employee say they just didn’t see it coming. Injuries that take place because workers are not aware of the machinery or objects around them are 100% preventable. Being aware of your surroundings is an easy first step in taking ownership of your safety at work. Not sure where to start? Start with surveying your work area before performing any tasks including:
- Ensure that you have enough space to do your work
- Identify energy sources that require lockout/tagout procedures
- Look for hazards in your work area such as: low-hanging overhead objects, sharp edges or surfaces, standing water, exposed wiring, unguarded equipment, general work environment conditions
- Make sure that all safety devices on your equipment are in good working order before use
- Discuss work status and potential hazards with coworkers in your area and/or the person you are replacing at shift change prior to starting any work
- Always finish off by asking yourself: Is there anything in my work area that poses a threat to my safety, and if so, to what extent? Is the threat great enough that I should stop working immediately? Is there anything I can do to reduce the risk exposure so that I can continue to work safely?
4. Keep Emergency Exits Clear
It’s really easy for emergency exits to blend into the background and go unnoticed as often times they are not used on a daily basis as they are connected to a system that triggers an alarm when they are opened. Because of this, it’s not rare to see boxes, work stations, garbage containers, and other items getting pushed into their path little by little as they blend into the normal workplace background. The importance of a clear pathway to emergency exits can get overlooked until there’s an emergency, and exits are inaccessible. Furthermore, these things could potentially cause a greater hazard should anyone trip or fall over them and get injured while trying to exit in an emergency. Because of this, always take care in where emergency exits are and ensure that they are clear at all times.
5. Keep up With Maintenance and Inspections
Without inspections and maintenance, equipment failures can have a major effect on business costs, cause unscheduled outages and most importantly, could cause major and possibly deadly safety hazards. Hercules SLR offers LEEA-certified inspections, repairs, predictive & preventive maintenance (so you can pass those inspections!) and parts & accessories like wire rope slings, hoists & whatever else you need to lift.
Hercules SLR inspects, repairs, and certifies:
- Wire Rope
- Fall Protection
- Lifting Gear
- Rigging Hardware
- Hoist & Cranes
- Winches & Hydraulics
6. Lockout / Tagout
As much as we’d like to wish it didn’t, equipment breaks—When it does, it’s important to know what to do, especially if that piece of equipment conducts hazardous energy. That’s where the lockout/tagout system comes into play!
What are the Basic Steps of the Lockout/Tagout system?
This is a process that involves more than simply putting a lock and tag on a switch. Communication, coordination and proper training are key in successfully following the step-by-step process. You should always consult your organization’s lockout program document and follow the detailed instructions provided.
An abbreviated overview of the steps of a lockout/tagout program include:
- Prepare for shutdown – The authorized person will identify any sources of energy connected to the equipment, and choose the proper method of control.
- Notify all affected employees – The authorized person will notify all affected personnel of what is going to be lock/tagged out, why it will be locked/tagged out, how long they should expect the equipment to be unavailable, who is responsible for the lockout/tagout and who to contact for more information.
- Equipment Shutdown – Following the manufacturer’s instructions or in-house work instructions the equipment is shut down ensuring all controls are in the off position and all moving parts have come to a complete stop.
- Isolation of System from Hazardous Energy – In most cases, there will be exact written instructions guiding you as so how to cut off different forms of energy found within your workplace. General CCOHS procedures can be found here.
- Removal of residual or stored energy – Following manufacturer instructions ensure any stored energy within the system has dissipated.
- Lockout/Tagout – Once you’re sure all energy sources are blocked, the system is locked and tagged to ensure it stays in an off and safe position. Each lock should only have one key, and each person working on the system should have their OWN lock.
- Verify Isolation – Verify that the system is properly locked out before any work is completed.
- Perform Maintenance or Service Activity – Complete the job required while the system is locked and off.
- Remove Lockout/Tagout Devices – Inspect the work area to ensure all tools have been removed, confirm that all employees are safely away from the area, verify that controls are in a neutral position, remove devices, re-energize the machine and notify affected employees that servicing is completed.
Following the correct steps in locking and tagging out equipment is the best way to ensure that nobody is harmed while performing maintenance as well as no piece of equipment is used while broken-down.
7. Keep Correct Posture
We all know the age-old saying, “lift with your legs, not your back!” but keeping correct posture in mind is important for all employees, not just those doing the heavy lifting. Even if you work at a desk, proper posture can help you avoid back injuries, neck pain, and even carpal tunnel. And of course, you only have one back, so if you are heavy lifting, do keep proper posture and technique in mind and don’t be afraid to call on the help of a partner if you think it’s too heavy to take on alone – Plus, things like forklifts and dollies exist for a reason, get trained and put them to use!
8. Take Your Breaks
Regulated and scheduled breaks are put in place for a reason, take them! Tired workers are the most prone to accidents and incidents. You can’t expect yourself to be on your toes and aware of your surroundings if you’re worn out and tired. Take time on your breaks to rest and recharge so you can return to work refreshed – You’ll get more done in a more timely manner anyways! Another tip to help out with tiredness at work is to schedule as many of your difficult tasks at the beginning of your shift, when you have the most energy, and easier tasks for the end of the day when you’re tank of energy is running low.
9. Proper PPE
Personal protective equipment is the last line of defense for workers against hazards. The PPE you use will depend on your work environment, work conditions and the job being performed. It’s important to remember that there are many different variations of PPE and some may be made of materials suitable for one purpose, but not another.
Personal protective equipment does not guarantee permanent or total protection for the wearer, and should be used coupled with other measures to reduce hazards in the workplace. As well, simply having access to some general PPE isn’t enough—to ensure your PPE is providing you with the highest level of protection you must:
- Carefully select the correct type of PPE based on the type of hazard and degree of protection required
- Train users to ensure the proper use and fit of the PPE
- Store and maintain the PPE correctly according to manufacturer guidelines
- Maintain high-quality PPE by performing regular inspections and discarding/replacing any defective pieces.
10. No Procedure Shortcuts
Workplace procedures exist for a reason – To keep employees safe! Especially if those procedures have to do with heavy machinery, it’s important to know you’re using every tool and machine according to instruction and procedure. Shortcuts may seem enticing, but are never worth the small amount of time they may save you, especially if it results in injury. If you’re not sure of proper procedure, always reach out to your employer for clarity – Proper training is step one!
11. Practice Ladder Safety
Before using a ladder you should always take a moment to inspect both the ladder and the area in which you are using it. Before each use, make sure your ladder is in good working condition and doesn’t need any repairs. Good things to look out for are:
- Missing, loose or damaged steps or rungs (you should not be able to move or shift these by hand)
- Loose nails, screw, bolts or nuts
- Rot, decay or warped rails in wooden ladders
- Cracks and exposed material in fiberglass ladders
- Rough or splintered surfaces
- Corrosion, rust, oxidization or excessive wear
- Twisted or distorted rails
- Loose or bent hinges or pail shelf
- Wobble of any kind
If any of these things are present in your ladder, it should not be used and should only be repaired by a trained professional—Don’t try to make temporary makeshift repairs or attempt to straighten bent or bowed ladders on your own.
12. Fall Protection
The most recent report conducted by the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS), showed that 251,508 Canadian’s accepted claims for lost time due to work-related injury or disease in just one year. Did you know that approximately 18% of those time-loss injuries, or about 42,000 workers a year, are injured due to fall incidents alone? You can prevent falls and incidents like these by wearing proper fall protection equipment, and wearing it right.
If you’re working at a height exceeding 3 meters (10 feet) occupational health and safety laws generally require fall protection measures to be in place. You can check with your jurisdiction as requirements do vary, but in most cases fall protection measures such as fixed barriers, surface opening protections, control zones, fall or travel restraint systems, fall containment systems or fall arrest systems are required. You can learn more about some of these systems by reading our fall protection glossary.
13. Workplace Housekeeping
Workplace housekeeping isn’t just about dusting some selves, it’s an important part of your health and safety measures! Poor housekeeping can be the cause of workplace incidents such as:
- Trips and slips because of loose objects or wet spots on floors, stairs, and platforms
- Being hit by falling objects
- Hitting against projecting, poorly stacked items
- Cutting or puncturing of the skin on projecting nails, wire or steel strapping
Effective housekeeping programs require ongoing management and attention. It focuses on more than just keeping the workplace neat and tidy, but also deals with the layout of the workplace, aisle marking, storage facilities, and maintenance. A big part of proper workplace housekeeping is ensuring that everything that comes into the workplace has a plan as to where it will be, how it will be handled, and how it will leave the space – including disposal procedures. Often times, injuries result from materials being stored improperly, but that can easily be avoided by having a storage plan and procedure in place.
You may have noticed a core theme in many of our 13 tips, and that’s being in the know! The best way to do something safely is to do it correctly, and that comes with proper training and education! Hercules SLR recognizes that and through the Hercules Training Academy, offers an extensive suite of high-quality safety training and certification courses.
Brand new classrooms and specialized training equipment enable us to provide an even higher quality of service than ever before when it comes to safety training. Whether you’re looking for initial or refresher training, we provide practical, hands-on courses designed to exceed the minimum safety requirements.
Our courses can be customized to fit your workplace’s specific needs. We are always willing to design a course (or multiple courses) specifically for you!
If you’re interested in building a customized training program, please get in touch. One of our training representatives would be happy to help you get started.