When thinking about workplace injuries, it’s easy to picture yourself in the warehouse trying to grab a box just out of reach and as you wiggle it off the shelf – you drop it on your foot. Or maybe you are walking through the warehouse and have a near miss with a forklift that didn’t see you coming.
But what do you picture if you spend your workday at a desk or on a construction site? It can be easy to go about your daily routine without thinking about potential safety hazards, especially if you don’t think they apply to you. But workplace injuries are not limited to just the warehouse and can happen anywhere. These injuries could be as simple as cutting your hand with a pair of scissors, dropping heavy equipment on your foot, or a slip and fall on icy ground.
No occupation or area of business is immune to work environment hazards. In any location, it’s important to identify possible safety risks that could affect you and your colleagues. Follow these tips to help evaluate the risk of potential dangers at any location from the office to the field.
Always Ask Yourself – What Could Go Wrong?
Regardless of location (yard, office, customer site, etc.), think through how you might be injured doing the task at hand. Should you have safety shoes on, should you carry fewer items so you can hold the handrail, what hazards does this location have?
If you’re unsure or unfamiliar with the hazards of the location – ask questions! Seek guidance from peers, customers, managers, or anyone else who may have more knowledge of the dangers you could encounter. This will help you be prepared for any situation.
Don’t become complacent. No matter what your experience level is or how many times you’ve performed a task, complacency and skipping steps leaves you vulnerable to accidents.
Maintain Situational Awareness
Stay alert to what is going on around you – understanding your surroundings and potential risks helps keep safety top of mind. Consider the threat that weather, traffic, or unexpected conditions could bring. Are you prepared with the right attire, and do you have an escape path in the event of a line-of-fire hazard?
Actively think through your situation and environment. Ask yourself – am I placing myself behind something that could back into me, or am I standing in a door path? You also need to consider how your actions could affect the safety of others, like leaving an office drawer open in a hallway or forgetting to throw away failed PPE.
Perform a Two-Minute Drill
Prior to performing a task such as moving heavy material, hanging a ceiling decoration, changing a light, or exiting a delivery vehicle, take two minutes to perform a quick hazard recognition exercise.
Ask yourself the following, then take action when uncertainties are discovered:
- What hazards are in the area?
- How could I get hurt?
- Do I have the tools, equipment, and PPE I need?
- What else could go wrong? (site emergency or coworker injury)
By taking a few extra minutes to identify possible threats, you will reduce your risk of injury and be more prepared in the event of an accident.
Education to Improve Workplace Safety
Positive encouragement and reinforcement is a must when it comes to workplace safety. For every piece of constructive criticism given, make sure to provide four times the amount of positive feedback. This practice provides sincere positive instruction and reinforces proper safety behaviors.
Coaching sessions offer a learning opportunity and reinforce the importance of safety in any environment. During these conversations, ask yourself and your employees, how can safety be improved at your location? Promote positive behavior by acknowledging when peers and direct reports practice proper procedures.
Keep Safety Top of Mind in All Environments
Whether you spend your time in the office, at customer locations, or in the field, safety should be a top priority. Always question your environment, take the time to assess hazards, and continue educating employees on how to improve safety protocols to ensure a safe work environment for all employees.