National Safety Month: What Can You Do to Protect Your Employees?

June is National Safety Month – the perfect time to think about ways you can best protect your employees and keep them safe.

Did you know that 4.1 million people suffer a workplace injury each year? That amounts to more than 80,000,000 lost hours of work – costing companies millions of dollars in lost production. To avoid injuries and keep employees safe, companies are responsible for providing employees with all of the necessary information and equipment to do just that.

What better time than during National Safety Month to put some extra thought into how you protect your employees and educate them on proper workplace safety practices? Even if you don’t manage employees or the safety program for your team/facility, take some time to think about how to make safety improvements in your own job.

To get started, consider looking at OSHA’s most frequently cited standards for 2009 and see where you can make safety improvements.

Here are a few areas to focus on:

Fall Protection: According to OSHA, “the U.S. Department of Labor lists falls as one of the leading causes of traumatic occupational death, accounting for 8% of all occupational fatalities from trauma.” What can you do to reduce falls in your job or workplace? Think about the safety equipment you have to prevent falls. Do you have signs and labels warning employees of potential dangers? Do you have harnesses, lifelines or hoists to ensure employees do not fall when using equipment or working in certain areas?

Hazard Communication: Hazard communication materials help employees avoid chemical and other substance-related accidents in the workplace. To ensure chemicals and hazards are easily identifiable in the workplace, ensure you have the proper chemical hazard labels on all substances. Hazcom or danger signs can also help alert employees of any potential dangers. Check your right-to-know (MSDS stations) as well to ensure all of the information is up to date.

Respiratory Protection: Respirators protect individuals from environments with insufficient oxygen or high particulate matter. Take a minute to ensure you have the proper respiratory protection given the tasks and environments you or your employees work in. You may also want to look at the overall personal protective equipment guidelines in your facility to ensure employees are as safe as possible.

Lockout/Tagout: Employees working on machines or equipment can be exposed to serious hazards or even death if energy is not properly controlled. By following lockout/tagout protocols and standards, you can protect employees from energy-related injuries. Ensure that you post electrical safety signs throughout your facility and use durable, OSHA-compliant lockout tags that identify individual users of that machine. Finally, use lockout devices, such as hasps or padlocks, for equipment that can be locked out.

Christie Mendola is a safety training specialist for Emedco. Emedco is a leading supplier of safety products, including safety training and HR compliance materials, safety reminder signs, certification cards and labels, electronic scoreboard and a variety of products for motivating employees.

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