Occupational safety risks are almost always associated with workers who perform manual labor. In fact, nine of the ten most dangerous jobs in America are in the industrial sector, with logging, fishing, and roofing topping the list. Over 5,000 workplace fatalities are recorded every year, even with stringent safety regulations in place. That’s why it’s important to strengthen existing policies in every sector of the economy, from aviation to woodworking.
Of course, people make mistakes, and accidents occur all the time. But with the right measures, you can reduce the severity of these accidents. It’s not enough to be vigilant when working with equipment such as rotary die-cut machines. Workers and managers need to work hand in hand to reduce workplace accidents and improve conditions for all. Otherwise, more people could get hurt.
Manual workers use a wide variety of tools and equipment to do their jobs. Some of these tools, if mishandled, can cause damage and injuries. While workers aren’t entirely blameless when they get injured while working, it’s important to remind them of a few important safety pointers, if only to keep everyone else safe.
1. Ensure easy access to health and safety literature
Workers must have easy access to safety literature pertinent to the hazards of their job. For instance, woodworkers should have a copy of safety documents that explain what they can and cannot do while on the job. They also need to have access to the operations manual of the power tools they use.
Of course, access isn’t enough. They also need to read the material. If they have questions about a tool’s usage, maintenance, or technical specifications, they can always turn to the manual for answers. Make sure that all field employees are familiar with the documentation before allowing them to work.
2. Manual workers need to wear protective gear
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration already mandates protective gear for certain classes of workers, so this shouldn’t come as a surprise. Anyone who works in a particularly hazardous profession should have access to protective gear. Workplaces are full of hazards, and wearing safety gear should help prevent or minimize accidents.
For instance, workers must wear earmuffs in a noisy environment. Hard hats, steel-toed boots, and gloves should also be part of the standard uniform. High-visibility clothing is a must on construction sites.
Occupation safety also restricts what workers can wear to the workplace. For instance, metallic objects such as jewelry may have to be removed, especially if there are strong magnets nearby. Dangling objects such as neckties should also be secured or removed to prevent accidents.
3. The work area is a safe zone
The work area should be considered a safe zone, and everyone inside it must work to keep it that way. For starters, workers must keep their assigned areas clean and free of obstructions. The entire zone must be well-lit, even if work is done during the day. There may be times when the weather can lead to poor visibility, and proper lighting eliminates potential blind zones.
The entire area should also be cordoned off, especially if it’s near schools or residential zones. That means only authorized workers are allowed to enter the area. It might be worthwhile to invest in extra security to guard the perimeter.
Finally, workers must be of sound mind and body when inside the work area. Managers need to check if their team members are sober before allowing them to work.
4. Encourage proper tool use
Tools and equipment, while useful, are dangerous in the hands of the wrong individual. Every worker must understand the dangers posed by the tools they use daily. It’s also their responsibility to keep them in good condition. For instance, pieces of equipment that are bolted down or otherwise too heavy to move must be covered if rain is forecast.
Tools must also be switched off if not in use or if the worker needs to change the settings. Similarly, disconnect any power cables before moving heavy equipment. An accidental start could result in injuries. Always check the time or weather before starting work. Low-light conditions or inclement weather should automatically result in a work stoppage.
The bottom line
It’s best to adopt a fatalist approach when it comes to workplace safety. Accidents are bound to happen, even if you make all the necessary preparations. If you expect that accidents will happen, you’ll be in a better position to prevent further damage. Vigilance and redundancy are two key components of occupational safety.