3 Ways to Make Safety a Priority For Your Facility
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According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 5,333 fatal occupational injuries in 2019—that’s one worker every 99 minutes. During that same year, U.S. private industry employers recorded 2.8 million non-fatal workplace injuries and illnesses. Along with the human factor comes the business consideration: Workplace fatalities and injuries cost the country, employers, and workers $151 billion in 2016, according to the National Safety Council.
Safety factors into nearly every process, piece of equipment, and space throughout a company. In fact, the breadth of safety needs in a facility can be overwhelming for operators, and they can be easy to overlook during busy periods. OSHA citations reflect this broad concern, with top violations involving fall protection, respiratory protection, scaffolding, eye and face protection, and machine guarding.
Operators have been focused on stocking personal protective equipment (PPE) to protect workers from COVID-19, but they may be letting other areas slide. Making safety a priority requires the implementation of a full safety program that includes training, regular inspections, and documentation—not simply stocking PPE or posting signage.
Here’s a look at the wide range of safety considerations in a facility, and how operators can address them.
Do you have the right PPE?
OSHA advises that employers make PPE available where needed, and regulations vary based on the industry; matching PPE to the risk factors identified in your job hazard analysis (JHA) is critical. You may need to conduct a new JHA to ensure you have the right equipment on hand.
Once you know what you need, make sure to have enough of the proper sizes, inspect equipment regularly, and train your team on how to use it correctly. This can include:
- Hard hats/bump caps: Bump caps and hard hats protect workers against hazards that can inflict painful bumps and lacerations.
- Earmuffs: Ear coverings provide sound attenuation for protection in loud working environments.
- Protective eyewear: Eye injuries can cost companies millions of dollars per year in medical expenses, lost time on the job, and workers’ compensation. The broad range of options, including frameless, half-frame, and full-frame, as well as over-the-glass and goggles with a head strap, means there are models to suit every person and every application.
- High-visibility vests: Hi-vis vests are worn over clothing to improve worker visibility, with options to meet ANSI standards as well as the different comfort needs of each wearer.
- Gloves and hand protection: Gloves protect workers from cuts, burns, and other hazards, so look for hand protection that matches the work and safety regulations of your industry. Options include cut-resistant gloves, anti-vibration gloves, and insulated electrical gloves, among many others.
- Foot protection: Depending on the application, proper footwear provides workers with traction to avoid slips and falls, protection against chemicals, or impact resistance. Choose from protective boots and shoes as well as accessories such as traction overshoes and treads.
- Respiratory protection: Respiratory protection was one of the top 10 OSHA violations in 2020, so it’s important to make sure your employees are properly protected according to the hazards they face. This may range from a simple dust mask to full-face respirators to a self-contained breathing apparatus.
- Fall protection: Global Industrial’s lineup of harnesses, lanyards, and kits can help companies meet requirements aimed at decreasing falls, a leading cause of injuries and fatalities.
Don’t overlook fall protection
Fall protection is regularly the top OSHA violation each year and is one of the most common causes of serious work-related injuries and fatalities, OSHA says.
OSHA requires fall protection starting at heights between 4 feet to 8 feet, depending on the industry. That may seem low, but injuries from those heights can be fatal. Tying off is also required when working above dangerous equipment.
Equip your team with the tools and training to prevent falls and lessen the harm when they do happen. This includes:
- Harnesses and lanyards: Fall protection harnesses and lanyards are available in a range of styles for different work applications
- Fall protection kits: Each kit comes with essentials needed for fall protection for various work environments, such as a harness, roof anchor, rope, and rope grab.
- Guard and safety rail systems: For walking or working sites or areas with an unprotected edge 4 feet or more above a lower level, employers must provide a guardrail system, personal fall protection gear, or a safety net system. Open dock doors meet the requirements for a guardrail system, but make sure it’s also well designed, and easy to install and uninstall to ensure the required levels of safety.
In addition to providing and enforcing the use of proper fall protection equipment, be sure to educate workers on the risks that could result in falls as well as OSHA tie-off height requirements. OSHA offers extensive resources. Employees also should be trained in the proper use of fall protection equipment.
It’s also critical to evaluate your fall protection program and document the inspection of your fall protection equipment as required by OSHA. Annual and documented training is now required for all people using fall protection equipment.
Keep safety front and center
Along with making hazards more visible, it’s essential to educate workers on hazardous chemicals on-site and the associated safety risks and best practices. Among OSHA’s Hazard Communication Standard requirements is for employers to have labels and safety data sheets for exposed workers and to provide training in the proper handling of those chemicals.
Global Industrial’s wide range of safety signage includes chemical, gas, and hazardous material signs and labels to identify hazardous chemicals and special handling needs.
Above all, make sure training is a priority, both for new hires and existing employees. Training is an important part of prioritizing safety in a facility across all hazards and risk types, and investing in training will let your workers know that the organization takes safety seriously and will encourage them to do the same. After all, PPE and signs won’t make the work environment any safer without proper safety skills and knowledge.
Though investing in proper safety equipment and training may seem daunting, the consequences of deprioritizing safety can be fatal for your workers—and costly to your organization.
Contact Global Industrial’s product experts for help procuring the tools and equipment you need to keep your workplace safe.
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