12 Workplace Safety Tips Every Employee Should Know

In 2019 so far, 2,836 work-related fatalities were reported to OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration). Additionally, there were around 2.8 million nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses reported to OSHA. With numbers like this, it’s no wonder that many companies are in need of safety tips for work.

1. Report unsafe conditions
Stopping unsafe conditions starts with YOU. Employees must report unsafe conditions to their supervisors and managers as soon as they notice something isn’t right. Managers are legally obligated to create a safe working environment so if you report something as unsafe, they must correct it as soon as possible. From wet floors to a ladder that is slightly bent and more, make sure you speak up so you can create a safe workplace for yourself and your colleagues.  If you see something, say something.

2. Know the latest safety procedures
Whether your company purchases new equipment or just updates safety procedures, you must know the new safety procedures and safety topics for work associated with the change. Make sure you fully understand the new protocol and ask questions for clarification.  Review JSAs and other safety procedures prior to performing tasks.  Ask your local branch safety coordinator for the latest updated versions if you are unsure.

3. Don’t take shortcuts
Workplace safety and handling procedures exist to keep our employees’ safe, especially those when involving drilling and testing equipment. It is essential to use each tool and machine according to instructions, shortcuts will only cause injury and just aren’t worth the few minutes you may save. So, be sure you’re using the right tool, the correct way and refer to the Job Safety Analysis.

4. Take regular breaks
Taking regular breaks is not just required by OSHA but it’s just common sense too. The entire reason that OSHA included the regular breaks is common sense, when workers are tired, they’re more prone to incidents because awareness of their surroundings is hampered by exhaustion. Taking breaks on a regular schedule helps keep employees fresh.

5. Have emergency protocols
Emergencies don’t often announce themselves, like fire, floods or tornados for example. So, you must be prepared for everything in your region that can disrupt safety to your company, your employees and your customers. As far safety topics for work go, emergency protocols are a no-brainer.

Therefore, have procedures in place if an emergency should happen: 
Anticipate natural disasters and similar emergencies by checking social media alerts and the Weather Channel. 
Ensure your insurance is in check.
Identify risks to your company. 
Identify crucial points to your company and how to effectively protect them.
Create an emergency management plan.
Make sure your employees complete Emergency Response and Evacuation Training.
Additionally, make sure everyone knows where the emergency exits are located and prevent them from being blocked.
Emergency Plans with directions and contact information for emergency rooms and clinics must be available for employees working out of town.

6. Reduce workplace stress
The American Physiology Association has linked job stress to health problems, burnout, workplace accidents and more. Employers must take steps to prevent stress from interfering with an employee’s productivity and well-being. An EAP (Employee Assistance Program) is available.  Always let your supervisor know when you may be having difficulties.

7. Wear the right clothing
Proper clothing is a must when it comes to workplace safety, whether you’re operating machinery or working with hazardous materials. Proper footwear is just as necessary as well as it prevents you from slipping or falling. Be sure to refer to JSAs for required PPE to be worn or contact the H&S Director.  Standard PPE for field work is level D. 

8. Follow ergonomics standards
Ergonomics refers to adjusting the job to suit an employee’s physical needs. Such as the office ergonomics, workspace design, and the work environment to help maintain productivity and safe working conditions. From standing at a machine all day or sitting at a computer desk, the equipment should be at the proper height to avoid straining one’s neck. Keyboard height can even affect the back, shoulders, and wrists.  

9. Follow industry standards
Make sure that your employer is complying with all the proper standards, it’s important that you’re aware and up to date on the standards are for your industry. Think of it like this, OSHA has strict standards when working with hazardous materials, therefore it’s incredibly important that you use safety data sheets (SDS) for hazardous substances. 

10. Have a safety group of employees
Rely on your staff to help find solutions to workplace safety issues. Consider assembling a five or six-person “Safety Committee” whose job it is to review the company’s safety manual, plus the building, property and internal protocols which are focused on keeping offices, clients, and employees safe. When you ask your employees directly what they feel could lead to certain problems, it can help open your eyes to problems you were blind to.

11. Conduct safety surveys
On a regular basis, issue a safety survey and cover everything –  how employees feel about management’s commitment to safety, the effectiveness of safety training, and if it’s easy to report concerns. These insights should provide employers with insights into what procedures need improvement and areas of concern. 

12. Move around!
The U.S. pays $100 billion each year in medical bills, lost work time and other costs because one in four occupational injuries is related to low-back-strain. Some of these strains relate to lifting and twisting, but that isn’t always the case. Sometimes it’s about poor posture, like extended sitting in compromised positions. As such, encourage your employees to stand up more (consider sit-stand desks) and to walk around. Take a 5-minute break every hour to just get up and move around can be highly effective. 

Workplace safety isn’t something employees should have to think just during training workshops or drills. Instead, it’s more effective to include workplace safety in the company culture by encouraging everyone to be accountable for maintaining a safe workplace. Together, all of you can reduce the number of accidents and injuries. 
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