Originally posted by Dakota Safety Team on http://www.dakotasafety.com/blog/safety-overhaul/#more-120 

 

When it comes to workplace safety, it’s critical for construction companies to look at what could happen instead of what is (or isn’t) currently happening. Incidents can take place at any time and can happen to anyone. You must not take signs of potential danger lightly. A small crack on the wall or a rusty handle bar might be all it takes to cause a major workplace hazard.

When you identify and track warning signs of possible incidents, take your time to investigate and determine how and why they might occur. This, in turn, allows you to take corrective action and implement appropriate controls to prevent similar incidents from happening in the future.

Do you know what signs may indicate a red flag for danger? Below are 5 different ways you can tell that your worksite is in need of a thorough examination.

1. Poor Housekeeping Practices

Good housekeeping matters. It goes hand-in-hand with safety and is one of the most accurate indicators of a company’s attitude towards preventing injuries and improving quality and production.

People can easily point out whether your facilities are clean and well-organized or if they’re messy and poorly kept. For instance, it’s easy to accumulate excess materials in small areas of a warehouse – perhaps in a maintenance area or on the manufacturing floor – instead of returning things to the proper place where they belong. This creates opportunities for fire, explosions, tripping, and pests. Hence

besides making sure every single employee is aware of their responsibility to keep the worksite in order, design a nearby storage space so workers are encouraged to use it without having to go a far distance to replace something or lift a heavy load.  

Make housekeeping procedures a part of the daily routine. Ingrain a no-cluttering culture in your staff. A good housekeeping program should be an ongoing procedure where everyone is aware of what needs to be done, who’s responsible for each task, and what to expect from the end result.

2. The “Get-It-Done-Quickly” Attitude

Laziness is a notorious quality that is often present in some aspect of our lives, not necessarily work alone. At a construction site, laziness creates imminent danger.

The temptation to compromise safety for the sake of expediency at a construction site will lead to detrimental consequences. Safety standards can get extremely specific and complicated. Working around big, dangerous machinery or toxic chemicals takes serious training, planning, maintenance, and inspection. Avoid shortcuts, for they are misguiding. Shortcuts don’t enhance the quality of work – they only increase the risk of injury or fatal accidents.

The next time you sense that your employees are using any quick safety “hacks”, speak to them immediately about the risks they’re taking.

3. Harmful Noise Levels

Loud noises in the workplace can cause permanent hearing loss. Working in places like a construction site or a factory means that you’re always exposed to a certain level of noise. Even though you might get used to the noise and chaos, it doesn’t mean your hearing can’t be damaged.

If you have to raise your voice to have a conversation with someone just across the table, consider this a red flag. Likewise, strange noise can indicate that something might be broken and your equipment is asking for your attention.

Create a designated area to seclude the loudest equipment from workers and limit access. Provide hearing protection to help cancel out high decibel levels. Conduct regular machinery maintenance to minimize the sources of noise and achieve a safer working environment.

4. Accidents and Dangerous Events

Accidents happen, even within the most well-planned and carefully-crafted safety programs. However, having a good safety program in place is the only way to mitigate risky events and maintain a happy worksite.

The sad truth is many construction companies tend to neglect – even ignore – many warning signs of hazards until a major accident happens. They are overconfident that accidents won’t happen to them. But when it comes to safety at work, too much confidence can be deadly. It’s important to establish an attitude of proper precautionary measures before working. Yes, inspections can become tedious, but keep in mind that this “tedious” work can save your life and the lives of many others.  

An accident means that there’s an error in your safety regimen – something you’re not doing right. It’s important to identify and analyze the cause of all workplace hazards. Listen to the concerns of your staff and their managers. Look at factors such as noise, vibration, temperature, lightning, equipment, tools, materials, and worker’s interaction with related elements while performing a task. This will help you find the root cause of any problem and enable you to evaluate the effectiveness of previously implemented hazard controls.

5. Workplace Violence

A happy and protected working environment by definition is free of violence. Unfortunately, despite increased security measures such as a well-lit workplace with camera installation, we still come across newspaper headlines filled with violence, where innocent victims – often former employees or even total strangers – are subjected to harassment, intimidation, bullying, profanity, threatening behaviors, harmful intentions, and physical assault. In fact, there are far more incidents than we are aware of because so many of them go unreported.

Since workplace violence is a serious health and safety issue, which results in low morale, poor productivity, unhappy workers, and ultimately, notorious business reputation, employers must prepare to take immediate actions to fight violence and foster a sense of safety. You have a legal and moral obligation to provide your staff a guarded place to work; to identify potential aggressive behaviors before they escalate into real problems; and to create and implement policies and procedures to prevent violence.   

Building and maintaining a safe and cheerful workplace is a goal that every construction business aspires to achieve. This is not an easy task and requires ongoing practice and improvement. It all comes down to close observation, awareness, focus, and conscious effort to make sure that any signs of an impending accident will be identified, addressed, and corrected before they lead to regrettable events.

Need help with your safety overhaul? Contact us today to learn about other best practices to keep your worksite safe and your staff happy.