There is a common saying that you’ll hear at safety conferences and industrial meetings, “A safe workplace is an efficient workplace.” It is sometimes changed around to say profitable workplace at the end, but in either case the fact remains that while the primary reason to focus on safety is to keep employees protected, it is also a smart business move.
While workplace safety can require a significant amount of attention, there are some easy things that can be done to get fast and effective results. Take some time to learn about the following five workplace safety tips, and see which ones your facility can get the most benefit from.
Tip #1 – Cleanliness is Essential
When it comes to keeping a workplace safe, few things are more important than ensuring the environment is clean and organized. Nearly all workplaces will have general janitorial work done to clean up messes, but that doesn’t take it nearly far enough. In some cases you need specialized tools or procedures for cleaning such as industrial vacuums, special cleaners, or extra personal protective equipment for tackling certain jobs.
When thinking about a clean workplace, it can be helpful to look at the “Shine” step from the 5S methodologies. This step starts with clean floors, counters and other workplaces but goes well beyond that. To properly clean a workplace, you must make sure that each tool is maintained correctly, each machine is kept up to date with maintenance and anything else that needs regular attention is getting it.
By having your workplace ‘Shine’ you will avoid safety issues associated with broken down machines, slippery floors, improperly used tools and much more. Keeping a workplace clean is a job for everyone in the facility, not just the janitorial staff.
Tip #2 – Proper Labeling & Identification
Another simple, yet very important, tip for workplace safety is to ensure everyone can easily identify what things are, how they should be used, and what safety precautions they should take. The easiest way to do this is by labeling potentially dangerous items in the facility.
If your facility doesn’t have an industrial label printer, it only takes a small investment to get one and then you can quickly create custom labels according to your needs. Take a look at some of the following ways that labels can be used in the workplace to improve safety and you’ll see just how important it can be.
Hazardous Chemicals – Most facilities use some type of hazardous chemicals either for production or cleaning. Having labels that identify what the chemical is, the potential safety hazards, its proper use and how to respond to a spill or exposure will minimize the danger associated with using these items.
Tools – Some tools are very common and everyone knows how to use them. Others, however, may be specialized for a particular need. Having a label either on the tool itself or the area where it is stored will ensure everyone knows what each tool is for. This will prevent people from improperly using a tool, which could be very dangerous (and may damage the tool too).
Specific Hazards – Using labels to identify specific hazards is an excellent option. A label near an electrical panel, for example, can remind people to wear protective gloves before accessing. Labels on pipes or faucets will let people know what is contained within the pipes so there are no dangerous surprises.
Safety Signs – An often overlooked use of labels in the workplace is for making ‘safety signs.’ Printing large labels on an industrial label printer is easy, and the labels can be used as custom signs where they are needed.
Tip #3 – Engage Employees in Safety Planning
This is one of the most important tips you can follow when it comes to improving safety in your facility. No matter how skilled or experienced a safety manager is, they cannot have the hands on knowledge that the front line employees can.
Involving employees with the process will provide valuable insight about where potential dangers may be in the facility. In addition, by engaging these employees they are much more likely to ‘buy in’ to the changes that are implemented rather than resisting them. Many facilities have found that the front line employees are the most valuable asset when it comes to identifying hazards and improving safety.
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Implementing visual communication standards in the facility can be very helpful. As you are well aware, many facilities can be quite loud, which makes standard communication less than ideal. Using visual communication standards allows you to make sure everyone is aware of potential hazards, and what safety actions they need to take.
There are many types of visual communication tools that you can use. The labels printed on an industrial label printer mentioned above, for example, are great options. Another effective tool can be floor marking tape. Using floor marking tape you can section off different areas based on the specific risks associated with them. It can also be used to direct people where they need to go.
For example, in areas where indoor vehicles may be traveling, you may want to use stripped floor marking tape. You can also take advantage of floor marking shapes or signs that point people toward emergency exits or equipment. Coming up with the most effective way to use visual communication in your facility will take some planning, but it can have excellent results.
Tip #5 – Regularly Revisit Safety Standards
The last tip is to simply go back on a regular basis and review the safety steps that have been implemented. First, make sure that the standards you implemented are still the best solution for a given safety hazard. Next, go over any safety items (such as the floor marking tape or labels) and make sure they are still in good working order.
Going through all your safety efforts at least once per year can help ensure they are still helping to ensure you have a safe environment long into the future. During the review you can make small adjustments, or get ideas for significant safety improvements. Whatever needs to be done, regularly revisiting your safety efforts will ensure your facility does not fall back into bad habits.