Workplace Safety Tips

HR & Safety

Whether it’s winter, spring, summer or fall, safety should be your first concern. Remember these seasonal safety tips.

Guidance on Prescription Drug Disposal

The federal government has issued new guidelines for the proper disposal of unused, unneeded, or expired prescription drugs.
The White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, the Department of Health and Human Services, and the Environmental Protection Agency jointly released the new guidelines, which are designed to reduce the diversion of prescription drugs while also protecting the environment. The guidelines urge Americans to:

  • Take unused, unneeded, or expired prescription drugs out of their original containers.
  • Mix the prescription drugs with an undesirable substance, like kitty litter or used coffee grounds, and put them in impermeable, non-descript containers, such as empty cans or sealable bags, further insuring that the drugs are not diverted or accidentally ingested by children or pets.
  • Throw the containers in the trash.
  • Flush prescription drugs down the toilet only if the accompanying patient information specifically instructs that it is safe to do so.
  • Return unused, unneeded, or expired prescription drugs to pharmaceutical take-back locations that allow the public to bring unused drugs to a central location for safe disposal.

Approximately 60% of prescription drug abusers say they got their prescription drugs from a friend or relative, according to the federal government.
As part of the National Drug Control Strategy, the Bush administration has set a goal of reducing prescription drug abuse by 15 percent over three years.

Reducing Work-Related Motor Vehicle Crashes

OSHA has developed guidelines to help employers design an effective driver-safety program that reduces work-related motor vehicle crashes.
The 32-page document features a 10-step program outlining what an employer can do to improve traffic safety performance and minimize the risk of motor vehicle crashes.
It also includes a section on the causes of aggressive, distracted, and impaired driving and tips for avoiding such behavior on the road, as well as a sample worksheet for calculating the costs of motor vehicle crashes to employers.
To develop the guidance, OSHA joined forces with the Network of Employers for Traffic Safety, a non profit organization of employers dedicated exclusively to traffic safety in the workplace, and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

OSHA Guide to First-Aid Programs

 OSHA has issued a guide to help employers plan and implement an effective workplace first-aid program. Best Practices Guide: Fundamentals of a Workplace First-Aid Program details these primary components of a first-aid program at the workplace:

  • Identifying and assessing workplace risks
  • Designing a written program that is specific to the worksite and complies with OSHA requirements
  • Instructing all workers about the program, including what to do if a coworker is injured or ill
  • Evaluating and modifying the program to keep it current, with regular assessment of the first-aid training course

The guide also includes best practices for planning and conducting safe and effective first-aid training. OSHA recommends that training courses include instruction in general and workplace hazard-specific knowledge and skills, incorporating automated external defibrillator (AED) training into CPR training if an AED is available at the work site, and periodically repeating first-aid training to help maintain and update knowledge and skills.

Tips for Employers Using Fork Trucks

  • Any modification made to a fork truck (powered industrial truck) that affects capacity and safe operation must first be approved in writing by the manufacturer of the fork truck.
  • All nameplates and markings on fork trucks must be maintained in place and legible.
  • Employees must be trained prior to being allowed to operate a fork truck. Employees using powered pallet jacks and order pickers also are covered by OSHA’s fork truck standard and must be trained prior to using them. An evaluation of the fork truck operator’s performance must be conducted at least once every three years.
  • Employees operating fork trucks must have refresher training, including an evaluation of the effectiveness of the training, in the following circumstances: (a) when the operator has been observed operating the fork truck unsafely; (b) when the operator has been involved in an accident or near miss; (c) when an evaluation reveals that the operator is not operating the truck safely; (d) when the operator has been assigned to drive a different type of truck; or (e) when a condition in the workplace changes in a manner that could affect the safe operation of the fork truck.
  • Fork trucks must be inspected at least daily prior to being put in service, and must be removed from service if any defects are found. Fork trucks must not be put back in service until the defect is corrected.
  • Fork trucks that operate around the clock (three shifts) must be inspected at the end of each shift.

The above tips represent some of the most frequently violated paragraphs of the OSHA Powered Industrial Truck standard, 29 CFR 1910.178.

Safety Committee Tips

  • You’ve formed a health and safety committee, it meets quarterly and you’re complying with the Connecticut Workers’ Compensation regulations. Why not get the most you can out of this committee? Here’s some tips to help make your committee more effective:
  • Be sure you have management support for your safety program and committee efforts.
  • Build trust with the committee members; make them feel comfortable voicing their concerns about safety issues and providing ideas on how to correct problems.
  • Keep the committee focused on safety issues; don’t let anyone “dump their garbage” at the safety committee meetings.
  • Involve committee members in conducting in-house safety inspections.
  • Train committee members in the OSHA regulations governing your industry.
  • Communicate the successful results of the committee findings to everyone in the company.
  • Consider meeting more frequently than the required quarterly meetings – monthly is better.

Preventing Head Injuries

The National Safety Council reports there are over 300 head injuries every day on the job — over 120,000 every year. Provide ANSI-approved head protection when:

  • falling or flying objects could strike the head.
  • the head can bump against a fixed object.
  • there is potential for electrical shock or burns.
  • loose hair could be entangled in machinery.
  • employers must ensure the head protection is adequate, appropriate and in good condition.

General Safety Tips

Employees won’t work safely if:

  • they don’t know what they need to know.
  • they don’t know how to do it.
  • they think it’s not important or doesn’t affect them personally.
  • they think management doesn’t care.
  • they see dangerous behaviors not being corrected, or safe behaviors not being rewarded.
  • their bonus depends on taking shortcuts.

Set a good example for your employees by always:

  • Following all safety rules and procedures at all times.
  • Consistently enforcing safety rules, practices and procedures for everyone
  • Regularly attending all safety meetings and trainings.
  • Monitoring the safety record of your company or department
  • Positively recognizing good performance and taking corrective action to improve poor performance.
  • Demonstrating an interest through notices, bulletin board announcements and other publicity.

Safety in the workplace is critical, not only for the prevention of injury, but because a safe environment leads to a better, more productive work area.

  • The most important idea to pass along to your employees is that everyone needs to understand safety procedures, how to take corrective action and that everyone has equal responsibility.
  • Developing an understanding of safety means that employees know how important it is to stay alert and focused on what they’re doing. This means avoiding unsafe practices such as horsing around.
  • If an unsafe situation occurs, workers must have the proper training and skills to take the appropriate action to solve the problem quickly. Following safety guidelines, using the correct equipment and employing the right procedures to compete the task are essential.
  • Taking responsibility is equally important. Rather than reviewing safety measures, it’s important to try to instill in employees a sense of personal importance so that each makes safety a habit. Cleaning spills, keeping work areas clean, properly storing hazardous materials all call for a certain amount of individual responsibility.

Spring Safety Tips

  • Provide wasp and hornet spray for workers who perform tasks outside, on roofs, or near ducts where bees are likely to nest.
  • Test ground fault circuit interrupters at least monthly.
  • Note the title and producer of any video tapes used in your training sessions so it can be identified if there are questions about the course content.
  • Audit machine-specific lockout/tagout procedures at least annually and document findings. The auditor must be competent in the procedures and principles so he/she can spot hazards, in appropriate behaviors or dangerous shortcuts, and suggest improvements to the procedure.
  • Stay at least 10 feet away from the power lines entering your building.The black coating on the lines is for weather protection only — it’s not insulation and you can be electrocuted. Tell a friend!
  • Call the power company if you must approach within 10 feet of power lines for painting, building maintenance, roof work, etc. The power company will make the area safe, then restore service afterwards.
  • Groundskeeping equipment has sat idle all winter, so check it over carefully before putting it back in service. Be sure belts, blades and guards are in top condition.
  • Take out the owner’s manuals for power equipment to keep workers fresh on safety recommendations.
  • Keep walkways and parking lots safer by removing accumulated sand. Sweeping or vacuuming is best. If using a blower device, be sure to wear eye and ear protection and protect people in the work area from blowing debris.
  • Inspect your buildings to see where birds are starting to build nests. For unacceptable locations, remove the materials before eggs are laid and put up barriers to prevent new nests.
  • Beware of potholes, especially if they’re filled with water. You can’t tell how deep they are. Better to go around if possible.

Source: Chip Darius, Safety Priority Consultants LLC

Summer Safety Tips

  • Drink plenty of water (without salt). Avoid alcohol, coffee, tea and soft drinks with caffeine.
  • Assign a lighter work load and longer rest periods during the first five to seven days of intense heat.
  • Wear light-weight and light-colored clothing. Allow employees to change clothes if their clothing gets saturated.
  • Provide ventilation and spot cooling at points of high heat production. Good airflow increases evaporation and cooling of the skin.
  • Learn the signs of heat stroke and heat exhaustion.
  • Make sure you or assigned employees are trained in the use of first aid.
  • Consider the physical condition of your workforce when making hot environment assignments.
  • Alternate work and rest periods, with longer rest periods during hot weather. Schedule heavy work for the cooler parts of the day.
  • Monitor the medical conditions of your workforce.
  • Monitor temperatures during the day.

Autumn Safety Tips

  • Drive more cautiously on curves. Fallen leaves, especially wet ones, can lead to skids and crashes.
  • Give heating systems a check-up. Change filters, check for leaks and have a tune-up before winter to avoid breakdowns and carbon monoxide problems.
  • Change smoke detector batteries when you change your clocks.
  • Tie off extension ladders — gusty winds can blow them down.
  • Keep roof drains, gutters and downspouts clear of leaves to avoid water backups. Be sure they’re clear before snow season.
  • Keep your headlights on whenever your windshield wipers are on. Or better yet, keep your headlights on at all times for better visibility.
  • Wear safety glasses and hearing protection when operating a leaf blower. Keep everyone clear of the air stream and the blown materials, which can cause potential injuries.

Tips for Safe Driving

With 91% of employees commuting to and from work, and 18% of all motor vehicle trips being work-related, employers have a chance to make a difference on the nation’s roadways by promoting safe driving practices to their employees, says the Network of Employers for Traffic Safety (NETS).
Last year there were more than 6 million police-reported motor vehicle crashes, says NETS, and most of these were preventable. Many of the incidents involved employees driving for work and even more involved employees who were driving to and from work. The organization’s 10 safe-driving tips for workers:

  • Plan your route
  • Maintain your vehicle
  • Focus your attention
  • Minimize your distractions
  • Know your surroundings
  • Share your space
  • Watch your speed
  • Keep your distance
  • Signal your intentions
  • Always wear your seat belt

NETS is an employer-led, public/private partnership dedicated to improving the safety and health of employees and their families by reducing the number of traffic crashes both on and off the job.


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