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10 Health & Safety Tips for Safety Managers

10 Health & Safety Tips for Safety Managers

Get 10 tips for improving safety in any facility. This infographic covers the importance of mitigating hazards, preparing for the unexpected, keeping workers safe in emergencies, and meeting OSHA requirements.
10 Health and Safety Tips for Safety Managers

There were 14 deaths and 7,700 worker injuries daily in 2017. Workplaces are generally safe, but we can do better.

Employers are responsible for slashing those startling numbers and keeping workers safe, as outlined in OSHA’s General Duty Clause. The pivotal passage states, in its entirety: “Each employer shall furnish to each of his employees employment and a place of employment which are free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm to his employees."

Safety managers can take hundreds of steps to ensure the health and safety of their workforce, so where should one start? Here are 10 easy-to-follow tips for mitigating hazards, avoiding OSHA fines, and improving safety:

1. Take Steps to Mitigate Hazards

Find out which hazards are present in your facility with a Job Hazard Analysis, and encourage a proactive culture of safety with near-miss reporting.

A Job Hazard Analysis (JHA) offers a systematic method for assessing hazards related to certain tasks—and taking steps to mitigate those hazards. Here are the steps for conducting a Job Hazard Analysis:

  1. Identify a potentially-hazardous task to analyze and correct
  2. Research and describe the task
  3. Identify the hazards, triggers, and consequences associated with the task
  4. Develop a set of controls to improve safety

Employers should also encourage near-miss reporting whenever they have a close call that could have resulted in injury, illness, or damage (but didn’t). These incidents can prove disastrous when companies don’t take steps toward improving safety.

When workers report near-misses and close calls, they’re finding safety concerns before OSHA inspectors, determining the root causes of near-misses, and catching hidden hazards before they lead to accidents.

Key Statistic: A 2003 study conducted by Conoco Phillips Marine found that, for every fatality, there are an estimated 3,000 near-misses and 300,000 at-risk behaviours (such as skipping a safety step to save time).

 

2. Provide Proper Training

The Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 requires that employers provide a safe workplace, free of recognized hazards; OSHA has since outlined dozens of training requirements to help employees understand the risks and take steps toward the safest possible work environment.

These requirements cover a wide range of industrial safety, from performing welding and other hot work, to using cranes and derricks on a construction site, to safely operating forklifts in a warehouse.

  • Brochures and booklets
  • Fact sheets
  • Training grants
  • Web-based Safety and Health Topics resources
  • Outreach Training Program courses
  • Posters
  • Wallet-sized QuickCards

Good to know: Effective training can keep workers safe and on the job. 882,700 total days-away-from-work cases were reported in 2017 *According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Reinforce messages delivered in training with premade labels and signs. Choose from several materials and sizes to warn about electrical hazards, PPE requirements, hazardous chemicals, and more. 

3. Keep Your Workplace Clean and Organized

OSHA offers little in the way of specific cleanliness guidance, but it’s good to keep a tidy workplace, just the same.

The 5S System offers one method for cleaning your workplace, organizing work areas, and establishing routines that increase productivity, efficiency, and revenue. Here’s why cleanliness matters—and how 5S can help:

  • Improve efficiency: Create standardized work procedures, and establish routines for accomplishing regular tasks
  • Increase organization: Discard seldom-used and unnecessary tools, and keep important items in a common area
  • Reduce errors: When workers know what to do—and how to do it—they are less prone to errors, mistakes, and mishaps

Good to know: Cleaning work areas and removing hazards can help cut the number of slips, trips, and falls. 227,760 cases involving slips, trips, and falls were recorded in 2017 *According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Use the 5S System to improve visual order, organization, and cleanliness. Download your free Best Practice Guide to 5S.

4. Establish Lockout/Tagout Procedures

In many cases, workers must establish (and follow) a lockout/tagout (LO/TO) procedure before performing maintenance or routine upkeep on a piece of equipment.

Basic LO/TO procedure workers can follow to meet OSHA requirements for controlling hazardous energy:

  1. Notify all impacted employees that the equipment will be locked out
  2. Identify all energy types and sources currently in use
  3. Shut down and isolate the equipment from its energy sources
  4. Lock out the energy-isolating devices
  5. Remove or restrain any remaining energy
  6. Confirm the equipment is unpowered

Once the equipment is locked out and you’ve started service, take the following steps to resume normal work:

  • Check the equipment and area for loose parts or tools, and ensure all workers are in safe places
  • Verify the equipment controls are “off” or “neutral”
  • Remove lockout devices and reconnect energy sources
  • Notify all impacted employees that the equipment will start again, and return to normal work

Key Statistic: Failure to follow proper LO/TO procedures accounts for nearly 10 percent of all serious accidents in numerous industries.

Kickstart your LO/TO program. Download your free Best Practice Guide to Lockout/Tagout.

5. Be Ready for the Unexpected

You’ll want to be prepared in event of fire or another emergency. If a fire breaks out or the power goes out, will your workers know what to do?

Take steps toward improving fire safety with these tips:

  • Conduct a Fire Risk Assessment to determine hazards and establish exit routes
  • Develop an Emergency Action Plan (EAP), with formal fire safety procedures

How else can you stay ready?

  • Have a spill kit on hand to contain, control, and absorb leaking fluids
  • Post and distribute facility maps, clearly marked with emergency exits, fire extinguishers, and egress paths
  • Maintain and provide standardized Safety Data Sheets and container labels when hazardous chemicals are present
  • Ensure all outside exits, emergency exits, egress paths, and stairwells are clearly marked with phosphorescent signs, labels, and floor marking

Key Statistic: According to the NFPA, U.S. fire departments respond to roughly 37,910 fires at industrial or manufacturing facilities each year. Those fires lead to, on average, 16 deaths and $1.2 billion in direct property damage.

Ensure your signage remains readable in power outages and other emergencies.

6. Improve Traffic Flow and Safety with Floor Marking

As part of a safe work environment, OSHA requires clean surfaces. In its standard for walking-working surfaces (29 CFR 1910.22), the agency states: “Walking-working surfaces are maintained free of hazards such as sharp or protruding objects, loose boards, corrosion, leaks, spills, snow, and ice.”

Floor marking can increase warehouse safety through improved organization and efficiency. Here’s a look at how floor marking can help:

  • Establish aisles and paths to separate pedestrians, forklifts, and other hazards
  • Create storage areas for inventory, machines, and other equipment
  • Improve visibility of posts, speed bumps, and other hazards with reflective tape
  • Keep employees safe near exposed edges, such as loading docks and curbs, with striped hazard tape

Good to know: OSHA issued 801 citations, totalling $1.8 million, for 29 CFR 1910.22 violations (October 2015 to September 2016). Manufacturers were the most-cited industry with 433 citations.

See what floor marking can accomplish in your facility. Get your Best Practice Guide to Floor Marking.

7. Meet OSHA’s Pipe Marking Requirements

The ANSI/ASME A13.1 standard outlines requirements for labelling pipes that carry all manner of liquids (including water, acids, and oils). Properly-labelled pipes can assist first responders during emergencies and ensure clear communication at all times.

According to the ANSI/ASME A13.1 standard, pipes should have colour-coded labels, which correspond with the materials inside. Here’s a quick breakdown of the recommended colour codes:

  • Flammable or Oxidizing—Black text on yellow background
  • Combustible—White text on brown background
  • Toxic or Corrosive—Black text on orange background
  • Fire Quenching—White text on red background
  • Other Water—White text on green background
  • Compressed Air—White text on blue background

Good to know: Other industry and application-specific pipe marking standards include:

  • IIAR Bulletin No. 114 (for ammonia refrigeration)
  • ISO 14726:2008 (for ships and oceanic facilities)
  • NFPA 99 and CGA C-9 (for healthcare facilities)

Learn more about federal pipe marking standards. Download your free Best Practice Guide to Pipe Marking.

8. Provide Proper PPE at all Times

OSHA requires employers to provide PPE that protects against workplace hazards. Here are other steps employers should take when it comes to PPE use:

  • Conduct a hazard assessment to see which pieces of PPE are necessary
  • Communicate PPE locations and requirements with signs and labels
  • Provide training on proper PPE use—which pieces to use, when to use them, and what they protect against

Key Statistic: 7,720: Number of fall protection citations issued by OSHA inspectors in 2018. It has been OSHA’s most-cited violation every year since 2011.

Let workers know when to use PPE, where to find it, and what’s required with signs.

9. Schedule and Perform Routine Inspections

It’s not enough to establish safe practices; the key to an enduring culture of safety is following up to ensure those efforts receive the proper follow-through.

There are two easy ways to inspect equipment and review procedures: safety inspections and safety audits. 

Safety Inspection

Look for safety hazards and unsafe practices throughout a facility with a safety inspection. The inspection should:

  • Ensure safeguards are in place
  • Look for hazards posed by equipment and machinery
  • Test for hazardous samples through air, water, and other samples
  • Observe and identify unsafe work practices

Safety Audit

Evaluate your organization’s broader safety programs and practices with a safety audit. An audit should:

  • Measure the effects of—and collect information about—a safety program’s efficacy
  • Examine whether the program meets the company’s stated goals
  • Study and research safety training and response efforts

Good to know: Reviewing best practices and safety programs doesn’t just keep workers safe; it’s good business. $1 billion weekly on workers’ compensation costs. $170 billion yearly costs to businesses for workplace injuries, illnesses, and deaths *OSHA Estimates.

Download your free Facility Visual Communication Checklist to support workplace safety and compliant labelling. Determine essential signs your facility needs for general industry applications.

10. Expand Visual Communication Throughout Your Facility

No matter the industry, odds are good your workplace contains any number of hazards. A few common hazards include:

  • Electrical equipment poses arc flash risks, and workers can be injured when lockout/tagout procedures aren’t followed
  • Construction workers encounter height-related risks, electrocution, and falling objects
  • Warehouses struggle to keep pedestrians safe around forklifts and machinery

In most instances, visual communication can alert workers to hazards and offer best practices for staying safe:

  • Arc flash labels inform employees about arc flash boundaries, PPE requirements, and more
  • Signs and labels remind workers to wear fall protection and use PPE whenever necessary
  • Floor signs improve warehouse traffic and keep workers safe in heavily-trafficked areas
  • Emergency signs call out fire exits, first aid kits, and other potentially life-saving resources

Good to Know: Safety signs can improve safety, promote positive work practices, and help facilities avoid hefty OSHA fines. Maximum OSHA Penalties:

  • Serious violations: $13,260 per violation
  • Willful or repeated violations: $132,598 per violation

as of Jan. 23, 2019

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