Infographic: 7 Most Common Workplace Safety Hazards

Originally published by: Safety and Health Magazine

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Editor’s Note: The mission of the National Framers Council (NFC) is to develop and implement best practices to help ensure framers leave the jobsite each day in the same health as they arrived. To foster a culture of safety on your jobsites, check out NFC’s FrameSAFE program, a bilingual safety manual template developed by NFC to help framers comply with OSHA’s jobsite requirements. 

The seven hazards presented are by no means an exhaustive list – many other hazards may exist at your worksite, and spotting them requires vigilance. To help identify workplace hazards, NSC consultants recommend focusing on the following areas:

Training – Workers won’t inherently know they have to do something a certain way, Dankert said. It’s up to each organization to appropriately train employees on safety protocols. This training begins upon hiring the new worker, when an employer provides an introduction to occupational safety and health, including hazard recognition. The training should continue under the specific department in which the new employee will work. Afterward, regular refresher training is necessary.

Know the purpose of the training, and ensure the appropriate training is given for each individual worker based on his or her needs. After the training, monitor and supervise the workers to check whether they’re applying it appropriately.

Personal protective equipment – “The use of PPE falls squarely on the role of employers to determine, to provide and to ensure people are wearing it,” Dankert said.

If employers determine PPE is necessary, they need to select the right sizes and a variety of choices for their staff – and train workers on how to properly put on, wear and take off the gear. Supervisors on the floor should model the behavior they expect from employees by wearing all required PPE. If employees aren’t wearing PPE, Dankert said, employers need to find out why – the gear may be uncomfortable or not performing correctly.

But providing the right safety equipment isn’t enough. The devices can be misused or neglected. “People are pretty cavalier with their PPE,” Harrington said, adding that employers should ensure gear is placed in its appropriate container and not simply slung over a hook.

Clearly communicate and reinforce the need for workers to wear PPE by stressing that the equipment protects them from injuries and illnesses, such as losing an eye or developing a respiratory disease. In short, George said, teach “what’s in it for me.”

Resources – Quite often, small businesses simply don’t have the resources to adequately check their systems for safety. And in many situations, Dankert added, employers may not know what encompasses a safe procedure.

These employers should reach out and access available resources, many of which are free. Several fire insurance and workers’ compensation insurance carriers offer complimentary inspection programs. OSHA does too, and says employers won’t be penalized if violations are found during a consultation visit. (For more on OSHA’s On-Site Consultation Program, see p. 76)

Some equipment vendors also may be willing to conduct certain audits, according to Dankert, so ask. Check out free resources on the web – including those from OSHA and the National Safety Council – and search for free, local training. OSHA’s Susan Harwood Training Grant Program routinely provides training in a variety of areas, and its website has free resource materials.

However, not all resources are free, and employers must be willing to make an investment in certain training or PPE if they want to keep workers safe. “Spending a little bit of money up front on prevention can save you money on the back end,” Dankert said.

Culture – Many worksites have a “monkey see, monkey do” mentality, according to Harrington. If a supervisor or manager does something in an unsafe manner, other workers will follow suit.

Instead, organizations should establish a culture in which safety becomes everyone’s responsibility and workers feel comfortable reporting hazardous processes. Leadership sets the tone.

“If management is committed, and they send a signal to employees about the management of safety to the shop floor or the bottom end of the tree, it cascades that responsibility,” George said.