When in your business, you use overhead cranes and slings to lift heavy things, you learn some valuable lessons about safety. Unfortunately, some lessons come with injured employees, damaged products or equipment and angry customers. The most valuable thing I’ve learned is that there are no shortcuts for safety. It’s a common illusion to think that an “easy” job should take less time and less preparation. The truth of the matter is that accidents can happen on any size lift and preparation for safety should take the same amount of time regardless of the size or complexity of the lift. In the end, setting standard safety guidelines keeps everyone accountable for safe lifts and first class lifting practices.
FREQUENT SAFETY OFFENSES
Using Unrated Lifting Equipment – If a piece of equipment does NOT have a tag or is NOT marked on the body, you have no idea what its working load limit is. This puts employees in danger every time they lift a load. As you can see from the examples below, this is something some people find harder to learn than others. Lifting equipment should be purchased from a company that abides by professional design and manufacturing standards, and properly marks their products for working load limit and other pertinent information.
Failure to Use Fall Prevention/Protection Equipment - This not only applies to employees doing work in elevations above 4’, it also means using guardrails around dangerous equipment, placing signs and cones around spills, and other means of preventing employees from falling regardless of height. OSHA also has standards for Ladders, equipment that people take lightly because of their frequent use. Ladders should be inspected before use so that it meets OSHA standards for safety.
Not Using PPE – It’s easy to say no to protective equipment when the risk is minimal, however every job should be approached from a standpoint that if there is any risk involved, PPE should be used. This includes gloves, safety glasses and shoes, earplugs or muffs, hard hats, respirators, hi-vis vests and body suits depending on the type of work that is to be done.
Employees Need to Know Your Company Values Safety -- When we avoid the smallest safety procedures, we are setting our company up for accidents and failure. Employees need to be part of the solution. When you develop a strong safety policy and hold regular safety meetings, it keeps safety top-of-mind.
Safety Helps Avoid Paying Workers Compensation & Legal Fees – When safety procedures are put into place before something happens, accidents are less likely to happen. When an employee gets injured it costs the company increased workers compensation premiums, lost time and lost productivity.
If You Don’t Practice Safety, You Could Be Visited by OSHA – OSHA could pay a visit to your company if an employee complains about unsafe working conditions or is let go because they complained about unsafe conditions. OSHA’s whistleblower program protects employees who make complaints regarding an unsafe work environment and will seek lost employee wages from you as well as changes in working conditions.
WHERE TO START?
Start with OSHA.gov. They have a wide variety of free, downloadable safety documents that you can use. Their nationwide Safe + Sound Week is August 13-19, 2018 which provides awareness and understanding of the value of safety and health programs. It’s a perfect opportunity to show your commitment to safety. Remember, “Working Safe is Working Smart”.