There can never be too many meetings addressing safety topics for the workplace since, given the nature of the job, hazards are always present. Even with comprehensive policy manuals provided for every employee, it's still necessary to consistently review risks and guidelines, boost awareness, and decrease the chances of an unfortunate incident that affects everyone.
Slow Down With Conveyor Belts
It may seem contradictory to slow down while using equipment designed to move things along, but conveyor belts require extreme focus. Guards and barriers must be in place, and it's necessary for all employees to be completely familiar with all lockout/tagout procedures. Using a conveyor typically involves repetitive motions, which can cause sprains or strains, and also diminish a worker's alertness. Your safety talks should stress how important it is to take one's time and to never allow clothing, jewelry, or hair to dangle near the machinery's pinch points. Remember that a safety checklist is an OHS professional's best friend, so create a template that addresses all of these pertinent details.
Secure Footing to Protect Against Falls
Elevation adds another risk to performing job duties involving sharp tools and heavy equipment. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that in 2015, falls caused almost 40 percent of fatal construction injuries, making this a factor that cannot be ignored. Check floors for cracks or defects that can affect stability, and keep all debris and scrap materials from cluttering work areas. In addition to using the proper ladders and platforms for tasks, workers need to wear harnesses when recommended or required, and doorways need to be clear. All safety topics should mention the danger of spills and muddy or wet surfaces. Consider anti-slip mats as another precaution for stable walking and machine operations.
Maintain Correct Lifting and Stacking Safety at the Workplace
Posture is a vital component of healthy work site practices. Even when they're not ergonomically correct, certain movements, such as bending at the back, seem more natural. But crew members need to know, if they don't already, how to move with their feet and avoid twisting motions that harm the spine, shoulders, and neck. They should never lift more than what is practical or exceed load capacity when stacking. Training on these work safety topics is essential, as are reviews of forklift and telehandler usage. If an employee does not have the authorization to use one of these machines, encourage the use of hand trucks, wheelbarrows, and of course, asking for assistance.
Evaluate Fire and Electrical Risks
Overloaded outlets, damaged cords, and risks of electrical shock are the types of hazards that may seem as obvious as loading or unloading or working in confined spaces. Yet they're exactly the kind of industrial safety topics that require attention because of that potential oversight. Easily accessible fire extinguishers are a must, along with periodically conducting fire drills that include checking sprinkler systems and smoke detectors.
This safety clip is a terrific way to open communication about electrical hazards. It features a humorous, retro-inspired intro before getting into the seriousness of the matter:
Know How to Safely Handle Cutting Tools
Sometimes reaching for a utility knife is as routine as reaching for a cup of coffee: you grab it without much thought. Pointing out that nonchalance is not an option and that risks apply to everyone are popular ways to encourage finger and hand safety on the job. Ensure that everyone stores cutting tools properly and that they remove sharp scrap materials from workspaces and high-traffic areas. As with conveyor belts and pressing machines, teach employees to watch out for repetitive movements that may decrease their attention, such as with saws and drills. Another key step in instructing safety cutting is knowing when to replace dull blades, so that every box cutter effectively cuts through the intended materials.
Do your research into safer, more ergonomic cutting tools to reduce cutting hazards and repetitive strain. And make sure you look further than blade exposure charts, which only look at knife and blade safety from a very narrow perspective.
Always Use Personal Protective Equipment
There are plenty of safety topics for the workplace—that you can access online for free—emphasizing proper personal protective equipment (PPE). Consult OSHA's comprehensive PPE guide for selecting the right sizes and materials and how to care for the pieces. Create a checklist like this for your employees:
- Hard hat: Type I or Type II, Class G, E, or C
- Eyewear: prescription and nonprescription, shaded, or photochromic
- Hearing protection: earmuffs or custom, disposable or reusable ear plugs, moldable, pre-formed, or semi-insert
- Gloves: Kevlar, cotton, leather, chemically resistant, aluminized, or synthetic
- Footwear: insulated, safety toe, electrically conductive, water-resistant, metatarsal, foundry, or puncture-resistant
Be Creative With Communicating Work Safety Topics
When developing presentations, one of the best safety tips is to customize communication for your crews. Use graphics and signs, which are easily recognizable, particularly for employees who have trouble understanding English. Spread the safety word by producing e-newsletters, blogs, and/or social media posts that repeat your toolbox talks, and maybe even craft your own videos. See where your team efforts lead when reviewing safety topics for the workplace, and create the best and safest work environment for everyone.