Safety Triggers: Safety Topics - February 2019 - Week 1


Monday, February 4

What’s your Trigger?

A ‘Trigger’ is something that sets in motion another action or event. A trigger can be a slogan or catch phrase that reinforces the value placed in certain preventative actions that reduce hazards. In recent years, there has been a shift away from chasing down compliance related issues, and towards focusing on creative safety management systems that emphasize proactive approaches. These proactive approaches include strengthening psychological awareness of hazard management. Who remembers the slogan “Click it or Ticket”? This was a public awareness campaign by law enforcement after the seat belt law was introduced to help people remember to buckle up. The same can be done for other safe practices. This week, we’ll review some trigger examples that EnPro has adapted and what they mean.

Don’t Feel the Steel

The most common injuries in organizations involve cuts and lacerations. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, nearly 20% of all workplace injuries involve cuts and lacerations to the hands. Hand injuries can be severe and result in lost work time. Our hands are most susceptible to lacerations and cuts due to how often we use them in the workplace. We touch tools, materials, and machinery as part of our jobs; how we physically interact with things in the workplace deserves some thought.

There have been lots of improvements in hand protection in recent years. High tech fabric gloves, such as Kevlar, have become the standard for general PPE. Employees like these because they allow dexterity and are not as bulky and hot as leather or other general work gloves. Beyond PPE, there are other tools that are becoming increasingly more popular in the workplace, such as ceramic knife blades which are less likely to cut flesh and plastic or nylon banding instead of steel. Reach out to your vendors and distributors to learn about the latest trends in laceration reduction and how to implement them as a safety improvement.

Remember, before starting a work activity or using a tool, “Don’t Feel the Steel.”

Tuesday, February 5

Take a Stand, Ask for a Hand

Some of the most difficult injuries to prevent are strains and sprains. These injuries can have a dynamic range of severity, a wide variety of root causes, and can be as unique as the individuals themselves. How do we protect ourselves from these challenges? First we need to make sure everyone understands the hazards of manual handling through informative and detailed training. Safe lifting practices are easily forgotten or ignored. For one thing, the more times we do a task without getting hurt, such as lifting with our back and not with our legs, the more likely we are to repeat that behavior. Repetition drives probability. Regressive behavior should be something to look out for when your organization conducts training on safe lifting techniques.

Secondly, an organization should be prepared to commit to practical and sustainable solutions to reduce manual lifting. The solutions are as endless as the tasks themselves. Manual handling safety is a sizeable business product for many companies; developing and marketing equipment and devices that help others address their workplace challenges. You can reduce manual handling challenges in your workplace in many ways, such as investing in hydraulic carts, lifters, booms and hoists. With the right equipment, almost anything can be safely lifted.

Your organization should commit to reducing ergonomic and manual handling injuries through permanent and sustainable solutions. If you have a suggestion box or safety opportunity program, listen to the ideas that result from discussion around solutions.

Lastly, don’t be afraid to ask for help. If something is too awkward, heavy, or difficult to lift, there is no shame in asking for assistance. A few moments of humility are worth it to save the high price you’ll pay for a back injury that can last a life time. Don’t forget to “Take a Stand, Ask for a Hand.”

Wednesday, February 6

If you don’t Grip, you can Slip

Slips, trips, and falls are another leading cause of workplace injury. Unlike poor manual handling techniques and not wearing PPE to reduce lacerations, slips, trips and falls are most often associated with unsafe working conditions. These poor conditions can be a result of everything from bad weather to poor housekeeping to improper footwear. What are the different types of slip, trip and fall hazards in your work place? Are they a result of poor housekeeping, workplace layout, or not enough 5-S?

A very common root cause of these unsafe work conditions can be a result of human behavior. For example, an extension cord routed across a walkway, plastic film on the floor, water in front of the fountain, or empty pallets near a walkway. All of these things can be controlled through internal discipline of practicing safe housekeeping. Sometimes, people get so caught up with their primary tasks at work that they often ignore correcting the unsafe condition and leave it for someone else, forgetting that this poses a hazard to other people. How would you feel if someone got injured by something you noticed but were ‘too busy’ to correct? Ask yourself this simple question should you encounter a trip and fall hazard.

With regards to environmental risks, be sure to implement controls to counter any unsafe conditions resulting from ice/snow/rain. Have a plan and materials, such as salt or sand, ready during the season. Some facilities may also encounter a condition known as ‘sweating slab syndrome’. That is when the floor accumulates moisture due to temperature and humidity. This can be extremely dangerous because it’s difficult to see and can catch employees off-guard. This is particularly dangerous for forklifts. If you encounter this condition, implement controls immediately to bring awareness to the hazard and have your site assessed by a professional. Sometimes, climate controls such as HVLS ceiling fans can help.

Check that employees have proper footwear. Some companies may provide an allowance to ensure that employees receive updated footwear periodically as a benefit. Others may need to encourage the use of footwear that provides good support and has the correct sole for the working surface. There are different slip-resistant soles on the market so be sure to ask your shoe distributor or vendor about specific shoes for your work environment.

Be sure to keep higher risk walking surfaces, such as catwalks and stairs, clear of debris and trip hazards. Make sure that any constructed stairs or working platforms have OSHA compliant hand rails. Use them to keep three points of contact. Remember, “If you don’t Grip, you can Slip.”

Thursday, February 7

If you do something New, Be sure to Review

One of the traps that organizations find themselves falling into is allowing employees to do tasks based on good faith that they know how to do the job safely. A good onboarding program for new employees should include a robust checklist to make sure that they have received and understand the job duties they’ve been hired to do. During new hire orientation, there should be a validation process in which the employee demonstrates competency for the required job tasks and understanding of the safety protocols that are associated with it.

The importance of reviewing something new to identify potential hazards goes beyond just new hire training. There are new things introduced into the workplace continuously that deserve safety evaluations. Even if they’re brief, take the time to recognize what they are. There are new products being introduced which can affect material handling or manufacturing process considerations. New equipment can come online that requires training and proper guarding. New chemicals being added to inventory whether, they are for R&D or manufacturing, should be reviewed prior to bringing them into the plant.

Another example is when an employee is asked to do something new beyond their core activity, such as a machinist packing boxes during a heavy shipping day. Stacking boxes and using a box cutter repetitively may seem like a mundane transition from machine operation, but it’s likely that the employee is not familiar with the hazards of that particular job. It doesn’t take a dangerous job to cause an injury. Anything done improperly or without creating awareness can result in an injury.

Take a few moments today and think of any examples of things that can be considered ‘new’ to an employee in your work area and review the hazards. It doesn’t have to be a formal process, just a quick verbal assessment of what we should be aware of. This ‘Trigger’ is one that encourages us to develop the mental exercise of hazard recognition. Don’t forget “If you do something New, Be sure to Review.” 

Friday, February 8

What other Triggers can you identify with?

Triggers can be anything that helps your safety culture identify a common hazard. Be as creative as you want. It doesn’t have to rhyme like some of the examples provided this week, but making them memorable is the primary intent.

Here are some others that EnPro has created as a result of things identified around our factory floor:

  • Be Aware, the Machine Doesn’t Care – Machine Guarding 
  • Stay Loose and Avoid Over Use – Ergonomics and Repetitive Motion 
  • Vapors in the Air, Take Extreme Care – Respiratory Protection
  • When Working With Dust, Proper Collection is a Must – Respiratory Protection 
  • Take a Rest, Then Drive Your Best – Responsible Long Haul Driving

Take a moment today to see if you can create a safety Trigger for your workplace! When you find one your organization can relate to, have a banner made or other postings throughout the facility to embed that trigger in your employees’ mind to help influence behavior.

Tags: safety culture , safety topics , ehs programs ,

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