Being safe is an attitude. Of course, safety means surrounding and supporting a safe work environment through the various rules, regulations, processes, and training established and guided by a partnership between the company and employees. However, when it comes down to it, being safe always starts with the individual and is based on attitude. Many factors feed into a person’s safety attitude. The more we focus on those factors, the better equipped we will be to function within the safety systems established around us.
The Danger of Complacency
Complacency brings about the feeling that nothing bad will ever happen to you – accidents only happen to other people. If you have the attitude that nothing bad will ever happen, you will close your eyes to the hazards surrounding you and be unaware of the warning signs.
When you close your eyes to the hazards or stop listening to the warnings, you will not know how to protect yourself because you will not know about dangers. Keeping informed and staying alert is the first step in staying safe. With the right information and the right awareness, you will know where hazards are so you can avoid them and stay safe. Complacency is your enemy because it puts your mind in neutral and does not let you think.
Safety: Don’t Leave Home Without It
Before you leave for work, ask yourself some questions. Are you well rested? If you are leaving for work already tired, your mind is not going to be as alert as it needs to be.
As you walk into work, is your mind on work or are you preoccupied with other issues? We all have outside stresses that occupy our thoughts, but it is important to focus on our work surroundings when we arrive.
Finally, are you leaving for work with enough time to get you here without having to break land speed records? If you are running late and then have to fight through traffic, your attitude (and remember safety is all about attitude) will not be where it needs to be when you enter the parking lot.
Walking Into Work
When you arrive at work, you should start thinking about your day how to be prepared. When walking into the facility, take some initial safety steps, such as thinking about your safety equipment.
Getting to Your Work Area
When you arrive at your work area, be it a machine location or a work cell; take a moment to prepare yourself to work safely.
Personal Protective Equipment: Does your task require some type of personal protective equipment? If you are on the shop floor, standard personal protective equipment is safety glasses with side shields and safety shoes with steel toes. What about other types of PPE you need? Do you need to wear gloves? Face shields? Respirators? If any of these types of PPE are necessary, inspect them before putting them on to ensure they will provide the right protection throughout the job.
Machine Operations: Look at the machine(s) you will be operating and look for some specific safety features. Are all machines safeguarded and are they working properly? Physical safeguards should be attached to the machine. Electric eyes should be tested to make sure they stop machine functions. Two-hand trip devices at the point of operation should be tested to make sure they work properly. Supplies should be in close proximity to the point of operation so you don’t have to do a lot of twisting or bending.
Computer Work Stations: Anyone working with a computer should make sure the workstation is properly adjusted so proper body position is maintained. Proper wrist and hand placement will eliminate the potential for carpal tunnel issues. A properly adjusted chair will help minimize back and shoulder issues.
Equipment Operators: If you operate powered industrial trucks, construction tools or heavy equipment – are you prepared and is the equipment ready for operation? Are there any pre-use inspections that need to be done? Did you really do the checks or just breeze through them because it’s simply something to get out of the way? Take a moment to make sure all the equipment you will use or operate is safe.
Surrounding Work Area: Regardless of where you work, look at your surrounding work area to make sure it is free of hazards. Look at walking and working surfaces around you. Equipment stored in walking areas creates trip hazards. Look at flammable or combustible storage. Are all oily rags kept in the right containers and are those containers emptied frequently? What about electrical safety? Are there extension cords being used as a substitute for permanent wiring? Are panels blocked by material? Look overhead to see if the area above your head is also safe. Are there any obstructions that might hit you in the head?
Finally, ask yourself what you have to do to be safe right now and throughout the day. Think about the jobs that you will do and what you must do to complete those jobs safely. Remember – safety is all about thinking and attitude. You need to keep your head in the game. If you are thinking about safety, then you will work safely all day and go home safe and sound.