**This guest post was provided by www.OSHA30.com, providers of 10 and 30-hour online OSHA safety courses**
Think about it. Every day countless numbers of folk get up, get ready, and go to work – day shift, swing shift, graveyard shift, long hours or short, hard work or easy, we work. It is only reasonable that we should expect to work in a safe place. What is not reasonable is that we should expect ‘someone else’ to make and keep our workplace safe for us without effort on our part as well.
The idea is to make a united effort to secure safe conditions in our workplaces so that we do not have to earn our daily bread under threat. Certainly there are big issues – quality building construction, secure electrical systems, wide, clear corridors, up to date, safe to use equipment and facilities – that we cannot take care of individually. But there are literally thousands of smaller things that we can take of as individuals or small groups. We just need to take time to see them.
For example, the builders of the buildings made sure to have ample exit routes on every floor. Are those exit corridors blocked, perhaps by excess inventory temporarily stored down a long hallway, or the walkway itself being cordoned off while waiting to be painted? Those workers affected by such obstructions can petition management to store inventory in the basement, perhaps, or ask that hallways be painted on weekends when no workers are in the building. Small things. Safer workplace.
A large industrial center may use high-pressure hoses to clean the floors at the end of the day. Is the stream of water sufficient to knock someone off his feet? Perhaps using reducers on the hose to cut the flow somewhat would be a good idea. And how about when the hoses are turned off until tomorrow; are they left lying on the floor, or are they stored on a hose reel? One person can make that workplace safer for everyone, in just minutes.
Is there a nearby supply of replacement light bulbs at your workplace? Is there a first aid kit within reach, and do you know where it is? Are electrical cords plugged into nearby outlets instead of snaking halfway around the room? Can you get to the fire extinguishers? Can you use them? Are there safe stepstools to reach supplies in the office storeroom? You get the point. Small things again. Safer workplace.
OSHA was made law in 1971; although its history has been politically tumultuous, its creation has ushered in an abiding movement toward safer, more secure working conditions for every working man and woman in these fifty states. This is a good thing. But there has been an unintended side effect: we no longer remember the horrendous number of workplace fatalities before OSHA, and our entire generation has grown up with no idea that they can be maimed, or even killed, in the course of their daily work. Such disregard surely breeds carelessness. Ask an OSHA Inspector.
It follows that the greatest workplace safety tip for every working person may well be simply becoming aware of our surroundings. If we are aware, we put ourselves in position to do something to change our workplace surroundings as necessary. We begin to ‘think safely’.
Take your eyes away from this printed text and think for just a moment: if you are at work right now, are you working in a safe place? Cupboard doors closed, doormats have skid-protection backing, stairways have handrails? If you work around machinery, are there machine guards in place, lockout/tagout systems in use, safety rails around scaffold platforms? Are hardhats, safety goggles, protective masks, and protective footgear in common use?
A quality workplace will have supervisors and other management personnel who support safety. You will not have to be adversarial in your approach to improving safety; on the contrary, your efforts and insights will be sought for, perhaps even rewarded. Safety programs and incentives abound, stepchildren of OSHA and incubators for thousands of safety improvements in individual workplaces in every corner of the country. So – do your part, be aware of your surroundings, and take pride in making your contributions to a safer workplace. Then enjoy your day at work: you’ve earned it!