Many people take workplace safety for granted. It causes them to think of cheesy videos where actors pretend to get way too excited about safety-related chants and rhymes that even a 10-year-old would find silly. These videos often get dismissed as fodder for sarcastic jokes. However, despite the cheesiness of the videos, those who have seen the darker side of the subject matter know that workplace safety is nothing to laugh at. In many instances, it's a life-and-death issue. In 2021, there were a total of 277,217 work-related safety claims. Tragically, 1081 Canadians, including 18 aged 15-25, lost their lives in workplace-related accidents. This isn't an anomaly either, as the annual average since 2009 is 945 total deaths nationwide. So as corny as those videos are, they're right; creating a safe workplace and ensuring a positive safety culture is essential. People need to know workplace safety tips to ensure they can head home in one piece and live the life they deserve after putting in so much hard work.
Some people think that workplace safety doesn't apply to them just because they're not in a place with constant dangers, like a construction site or a lab with hazardous materials. Others think workplace safety is only the job of frontline workers or management. This is not the case.
It is part of everyone's job to worry about workplace safety. The heavily prestigious multi-million dollar owner of a Fortune 500 company they built from the ground up, the energetic, optimistic bright-eyed youngster eagerly beginning their first day at work, and everyone in between has a role to play in creating and maintaining a safe working environment. Every workplace can suffer from a situation such as a slip-and-fall or a mundane seeming piece of equipment being improperly used. Below are some essential workplace safety tips designed to protect you and your fellow employees from harm.
While every workplace is different, each of the points below should extend to most jobs. Below is a list of general workplace safety tips that will lower the risk of accidents and improve workplace health.
This workplace safety tip applies to everyone on site, especially since the number of potential hazards is more significant than many think. Depending on the workplace, you could have anything from heavy objects, flammable materials, sharp objects, toxic materials, and other hazardous items. Even a puddle in the middle of the lunchroom is a potential hazard. Also, ensure proper lighting is everywhere, especially in places with dangerous conditions. All potential risks should be reported to the proper authorities and handled by the correct personnel. Never work in unsafe conditions.
Many workplace injuries can be prevented, or at least have their severity significantly reduced, by using the correct personal protective equipment (or PPE for short). It is the job of the employer and supervisor to know which safety gear is needed for each worker and provide it, as well as ensure that each worker is adequately trained on how to use said PPE. Once properly trained, it is the job of individual employees to wear and use the proper PPE provided to them. The most important part of this workplace safety tip is that if you are given a piece of PPE, you are given it for a reason. Common PPE includes, but is not limited to:
PPE is one of many types of equipment in the workplace. Almost everyone uses tools, equipment or devices at work, so this workplace safety tip applies to everybody. It is essential that everyone is trained on and knows how to use the proper safety equipment. They should also know how to handle any other equipment they use safely. This ranges from something as simple as a shovel to large, mechanized construction devices requiring several specialized staff to operate properly.
It is once again the job of the employer and supervisor to ensure the staff is fully trained and capable of handling all reasonable situations, and each employee's job is to apply this knowledge while on the job.
While this might seem obvious, power tools and similar devices are not toys. These devices can be dangerous or even deadly when used foolishly, so always ensure that they are used properly and put away and turned off when not in use.
While all of the large, alarming emergencies come to mind quickly, an important part of this workplace safety tip is remembering that many injuries are caused by mundane situations that are often easy to fix. Things like wet floor signs, mops, and similar things aren't expensive and can solve many of the more common hazards.
Remember when you were a kid and a cartoon character tripping over a banana peel was the funniest thing ever? As an adult, a real person slipping on something absent-mindedly left around is no laughing matter. These kinds of falls can lead to major injuries, especially in more vulnerable individuals. The most upsetting thing about this is that these accidents are some of the easiest to avoid. This makes cleaning up after yourself a critical workplace safety tip.
Having every worker pick up after themselves regardless of their status or role in the company is a great start. It's vital to ensure that areas such as stairways, near doors and corners, and high-traffic areas such as break rooms and hallways are clear of clutter. Ensure things like garbage bins, personal belongings and work tools are stored in places that are not trip hazards.
Ensure that when items are stacked, they are done so properly, not in a haphazard fashion. Also, an essential part of this workplace safety tip is to remember to do the simple things like taking out the garbage before it spills over, cleaning up all spills even if it's just water, and making sure all tools, especially ones that require safety precautions, are put in their proper location. Each of these things not only improves safety but also makes the workplace both more productive and a better environment to spend 40 hours per week.
Breaks aren't just a way for you to enjoy yourself briefly while at work; they're needed to allow you to maintain your focus. Allowing workers to rest occasionally to catch their breath lets them reset their minds and stay focused on the task.
Even a minor lapse in judgment can cause a large accident. This is why it's a critical workplace safety tip to ensure every employee is rested and ready to go. A well-rested, focused employee is also more productive than a tired, unfocused one, so let employees sometimes rest, especially in physically demanding jobs.
While it may be tempting to save yourself five minutes to finish faster, each step in a process exists for a reason. Although that reason may not be apparent, many safety precautions exist because not following them can and probably has led to a serious injury or worse. Cutting corners because it's more convenient creates dangerous working conditions for yourself and those around you. This drastically skyrockets the likelihood of accidents.
Plenty of these tasks often include double or triple checking that nobody is in a restricted area, wearing some PPE that may seem excessive or cumbersome, or temporarily changing the settings on a device. Don't feel pressured to reach self-imposed deadlines that are far ahead of the actual deadlines set by your supervisor. Most workplaces give you a reasonable timetable to get a job done, so a good workplace safety tip is to take the extra time to get it right.
Words like 'fire drill,' 'safety meeting,' and 'routine check-in' sound like they'll make for a boring day. They might sound so boring that you'll do anything to avoid them, even doing more work. However, these procedures exist for a good reason; if an emergency occurs, everyone knows what to do. You don't want people jumping in each other's way, knocking each other over and pushing each other out of the way for an exit in a real fire.
Every workplace should have all staff trained on what to do in common emergencies. Know where the emergency exits are, as well as all the safety rules and safety procedures.
Many workplaces will often have specific emergency procedures and provide their own workplace safety tips for emergencies specific to them. Construction sites, laboratories, and emergency facilities like a hospital are obvious examples. Things could go south in any environment at any time, even if nobody does anything wrong.
A mechanic won't fix a broken engine if they don't know it broke. Housekeepers can't mop a floor if they don't know there was a spill. A supervisor can't place warning signs around a dangerous situation if they don't know it exists. While it's likely that these people will bump into the problem naturally, not telling them increases the risk that an accident will happen before they can solve it. If you have a safety concern, be sure to let the proper authorities know.
It's also worth noting that more long-term and complex safety problems are best documented, especially ones that require a specialist to fix. Once something is documented, keep the files stored for future reference. All files stored should also be organized as this helps find these records when needed, with multiple copies, possibly both hard copy and digital copy, in case you need a backup.
While it is the responsibility of frontline staff to use the equipment, the onus of training every employee is part of the employer's job. While a company's new machine operator will almost certainly have some familiarity with a type of machine very similar to what they'll be using, the employer is still responsible for ensuring that they have complete knowledge of the equipment before they start fully operating it themselves. Some form of safety training should be mandatory for all employees. This goes for anyone in your workplace, even those who don't have any hazards that seem apparent to onlookers. Even a 'safe' job in an office setting has dangers such as carpal tunnel syndrome and possible back problems arising from poor posture, so keep workplace ergonomics in mind. In contrast, these dangers aren't as great as those faced by someone in construction; it's still worth noting every reasonable thing that could go wrong.
Don't expect training to be a simple one-and-done thing for each employee. The superstar employee who's a shining example of excellence might be able to remember their training from over a decade ago; it's unreasonable to expect everyone to be able to do that. Due to this, occasional refresher training is recommended now and again. Although there is no hard and fast rule for how often this should be done, somewhere between once a quarter and once annually is likely the best time, although this depends on your industry.
Also, whenever your job gets new equipment, make sure that any staff who will be using it are properly trained on it as well. In a world where it seems like a brand new piece of fancy, world-changing technology is invented every other day, almost inevitable for almost every industry to be shaken up at some point soon. Now, this is likely a good thing, as it will allow the employees to be more productive; it does come with the catch that these employees will almost certainly need to be trained to use it properly.
This content is written by our Morison Insurance team. All information posted is merely for educational and informational purposes. It is not intended as a substitute for professional advice. Should you decide to act upon any information in this article, you do so at your own risk. While the information on this website has been verified to the best of our abilities, we cannot guarantee that there are no mistakes or errors.