Workplace injuries are all too common, and the specifics vary from place to place and person to person. For example, we may expect a clumsy coworker to drop a heavy box of files onto their foot, but we may not be expecting one of our friends to be injured by a crane on a New York City construction site—while not all accidents and injuries can be avoided, some can with the proper precautions.
We’ll talk about the best ways to avoid being hurt in a workplace accident, and while some of these are obvious in theory, we may not always practice them as we should. Sometimes, we need a reminder of what to do to bring that knowledge back to the forefront of our minds, and that’s the point of this post—let’s begin by discussing safety rules.
Know the Safety Rules
While many of the safety rules may seem obvious, you need to know which ones your workplace has set in place. There are quite a few common workplace safety rules that you should know and follow, even if they aren’t in the policy. One such rule is to keep your space clean, so if you work at a desk, then you need to try and keep it clean and uncluttered.
Personalizing your workspace is fine until you’re drowning in pictures of your spouse and kids, plants, or any other decorations. Not only does clutter increase the risk of an accident, but it can also make it difficult to get things done as you struggle to find the supplies you need or the open space to work.
While this may be more difficult to do in some environments, such as a construction site, keeping the materials you need either close to where you’re working or all in one spot will make it easier to find what you need and can alert people to watch their step.
Once you know the safety rules, it’s time to locate possible hazards. The two best ways to do this are to look around and use your own judgment and to ask your coworkers where some of the hazards are. This is important to do because some hazards are obvious, but others are more hidden or unexpected.
Once the dangers have been clearly identified, you need to keep an eye on them and in locations where they may become dangerous in the future. If a hazard suddenly changes and becomes more dangerous unexpectedly or if you notice a new danger in an otherwise safe spot, then you need to report your findings.
They can only be examined and investigated once the managers and other higher-ups know there’s a problem to look into. This is an incredibly important step since some visible issues may hint at a much larger problem under the surface that must be taken care of quickly.
Use and Maintain Personal Protection Gear
Personal protective equipment or PPE may not be necessary for all jobs, but when it is, it needs to be properly maintained and utilized. PPE is any form of attire worn to keep a worker safe, from safety goggles to thick gloves. When you accept a job that uses PPE, you’ll be taught where it is and how to properly wear and store it during your training.
Make sure that you look for where it is on your first day of work so you know exactly where to find and store your PPE. You’ll then need to maintain it, which means that you may need to wash or clean it occasionally and inspect it for wear and tear and damage it may have sustained.
For example, if you need to wear protective gloves, watch for where the material begins to thin and for holes. When you notice these things, inform your supervisor and try to get new equipment when necessary.
Locate Emergency Exits
You probably don’t think about emergency exits all that much. For the most part, they’re just doors that you can’t use in most situations. However, it’s important to locate, maintain, and clean the spaces around the emergency exits.
Finding them shouldn’t be too tricky; a few signs point the way to them either on the walls or hanging from the ceiling. Once you’ve found them, ensure the area leading up to and immediately surrounding them is free of furniture and clutter, such as boxes. It’s easy to forget that an emergency exit is nearby, so it’s possible that the person who put things too close didn’t even realize that they had done so.
If there is heavy furniture nearby or the employee not only refuses to declutter the area but also prevents you from doing so, you may need to rally your friends from around the workplace or contact your manager to help you clear the area.
Get a Good Night’s Sleep
Getting a good night’s rest may seem a little strange to talk about in a post about staying safe at work, but it’s true. When you sleep, your brain not only removes toxins and waste but also prepares itself to learn and remember things that happen the next day. There are a few things you can do to improve not only how long you sleep but also the quality of that sleep.
One thing you can do seems simple at first but may be tempting to ignore: have a sleep schedule. Try to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, weekends included. An easier task to try is to avoid electronics such as your TV or phone before bed.
If you’re struggling to sleep, get out of bed and perform a relaxing activity before trying to fall asleep again. Not getting enough sleep at night will make you slower to react and less aware of your surroundings, putting you at greater risk.
In the modern world, workplace accidents can eventually occur—however, you can reduce your risks if you pay close attention, follow the rules, and know what to do when an accident occurs. Your preparedness in these situations may avoid or at least make a disaster less intense.