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June 25, 2014

National Safety Month, A Reminder That Safety Should Always Come First

June marks the time of year that the National Safety Council celebrates National Safety Month 2014 to bring attention to different key safety issues around the workplace each week.  The theme for this year is "Safety: It takes all of us," which was inspired by the idea ofdescribe the image continuous risk reduction in the workplace.  Here is a recap of the 2014 weekly themes – and some safety tips and tidbits to help you avoid accidents and injuries!

Week 1: Prevent Prescription Drug Abuse

As most employers are aware, drug and alcohol use is a chronic problem among employees in the workplace.  By some studies conducted of workplace accidents, 20 percent or more of employees at the typical workplace are impaired due to drug and alcohol usage on any given day.  Here is a list of what a workplace can do to avoid drug abuse among all personnel:

  • Establish a Drug Free Workplace Program that upper management can rely on to provide help in a professional and consistent manner for employees who are suspected or confirmed of abusing substances.
  • Managers and supervisors should be educated in how to recognize and deal with substance abuse issues.
  • Offer more direct assistance to employees for educational programs or referrals to community services. 
  • Have open collaboration between employers and employees on the program’s design and implementation standards beforehand to outline what is an acceptable code of behavior and what is not. 
  • By using drug policies as an avenue for rehabilitation purposes instead of a basis to terminate employment, workers may end up becoming better, loyal employees.

Week 2: Stop Slips, Trips, and Falls

Slips, trips, and falls make up the majority of general industry accidents and cause 15% of all accidental deaths, second only to motor vehicles as a cause of fatalities, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. 

A slip, trip, or fall on the job can mean time off from work, medical costs, and long-term injury for a worker, and employers can face fines, citations, and lawsuits.   According to the Department of Labor, slips, trips, and falls are one of the leading causes of injuries on the job – but they’re also highly preventable.  Keep these tips in mind to avoid an injury:

  • As you walk, keep an eye on the floor in front of you for spills.
  • If you see a spill, never just walk by it. Always clean it up or call someone to clean it up.
  • Wear nonskid shoes when you work in kitchens, outdoors, or any other place where you will commonly be walking on slippery surfaces.
  • Never climb on shelving units or storage units to get things. Use only approved ladders.
  • Never lean on railings, even if they look solid. They could be improperly secured, and you could fall.
  • Always use safety harnesses when working at heights.

Week 3: Be Aware of Your Surroundings

A lack of focus on work tasks can lead to accidents and injuries in the workplace.  One of the leading causes of work-related deaths is due to contact with objects, which include being struck against an object, struck by an object, caught in an object or equipment, or caught in collapsing material.

Understanding surrounding awareness is important to learn at your workplace to be able to keep clear of potential hazardous areas, machinery, and situations.  Here are some tips to help prevent injury from contact with objects:

  • Neatly store loose materials.
  • Secure items that are stored at a height.
  • Store heavy objects close to the floor.
  • Open one filing cabinet drawer at a time to prevent a tip-over.
  • Wear the proper personal protective equipment for your environment, such as steel-toed shoes.
  • Always walk behind moving equipment, if possible.
  • Never obstruct your vision by overloading moving equipment.
  • Only operate equipment that you are properly trained to use.
  • Make sure all the safety devices on your equipment are in good working order before use.
  • Use extra caution around corners and near doorways.

Week 4: Put an End to Distracted Driving

Distracted driving can range from drunk driving and texting while driving to simply listening to music.  Though some activities while driving may seem harmless enough, the consequences of not paying attention on the road can be disastrous to you and those around you.  

Distracted driving is any non-driving activity a person engages in that has the potential to distract him or her from the primary task of driving and increase the risk of crashing. Distracting activities that should be avoided include:

  • Using a cell phone
  • Eating and drinking
  • Smoking
  • Talking to passengers
  • Grooming
  • Reading, including maps
  • Using a PDA or navigation system
  • Watching a video
  • Changing the radio station, CD, or Mp3 player.

Remember that a successful safety program depends on spotting hazards early, evaluating their risk and removing or controlling them before harm is done.  Use this as a reminder to find creative ways to engage everyone in reducing risk in your workplaces.  A little effort today has the potential to prevent tragedy tomorrow.

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