With the start of summer comes rising temperatures, barbecues, sunshine, and the chance to commemorate another National Safety Month. Promoted by the National Safety Council (NCS) each June, this month of observance aims to increase safety awareness while reducing preventable injuries and deaths. At Creative Safety Supply, we pride ourselves in providing the best
products and resources for a safe workplace, and June is the perfect month to review and refresh your facility’s safety. The NCS has designated different themes throughout the month, and in each week of June we will tackle a new topic, giving you tips for keeping your workers safe and happy.
This first week is all about emergency preparedness. Whether you work in a medical lab with hazardous chemicals or a facility in Tornado Alley, your workplace should be adequately prepared for an emergency. Emergencies are never scheduled, but by assessing five different components of your emergency plan, you can certainly be ready for one:
- Proper First Aid Kit
If the first aid kit in your workplace is a handful of bandages and a few antiseptic wipes, it’s time for an update. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has a set of standards mandating the contents of a workplace first aid kit. After stocking up your kit with the appropriate number of supplies for number of workers, upgrade your first aid kit to a first aid station. Your first aid station should also include a first aid manual, along with someone who is specifically trained to perform first aid tasks in case of emergency. The designated first aid worker should inspect the station regularly to ensure supplies are not depleted. A large sign with the internationally accepted first aid symbol should be placed near the station so it can be spotted from across the facility. Include supplies in your kit you think may be unnecessary; it is smarter to have “too much” on hand than not enough when the need arises.
- Emergency Spill Kits
Accidental spills are nearly impossible to avoid, so it’s important to be prepared for any kind of spill, hazardous or not. OSHA has set forth regulations regarding spill kits, covering everything from introducing a site specific occupational safety and health program to medical surveillance programs. Whatever programs and guidelines you choose to implement, having a good spill kit on hand is crucial. The contents of a compliant spill kit will differ based on a facility’s needs; a spill kit needed for an oil spill is very different from a kit needed for a battery acid kit. You can cover the basics, however, with a universal spill kit which usually contains: safety gloves, eye goggles, shoe covers, sorbents, an informational handbook, and a disposable bag. Identify the needs of your facility and choose from a variety of .
- Showers and eyewash stations
Eyes are one of the most vulnerable organs of the body, and can be damaged by a variety of things: chemicals, solvents, allergens, sawdust, lab materials, etc. If your facility has either “injurious or corrosive materials,” OSHA has a set of requirements for emergency showers and eyewash stations, and the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) recommends a shower or eyewash station if any hazardous materials are present. In the event of eye injury, every second counts. Eyewash or shower stations should be placed in areas near hazardous materials, so someone can reach one quickly if needed. Whether your facility goes with installing a permanent shower station, or a portable eyewash station is all that is needed, ensure nothing is obstructing these stations and there are signs clearly showing the location of the stations.
- Smart evacuations
If an emergency forces workers to leave the facility, an evacuation should go smoothly. A map or poster including the evacuation route should be displayed prominently and clearly in different areas around the workplace. Workers will see this map daily and should know the general route they would need to take no matter their position in the facility. Take visual communication to the next level by laying down photoluminescent floor tape to help guide employees along the appropriate routes. Each exit should have a highly-visible EXIT sign above it, letting employees know how to get out. Ensure your evacuation procedures are compliant with OSHA standards and hold fire drills often.
- Trainings and drills
The foundation of a safe workplace is comprehensive training and employee understanding.
First, employees should be trained on different emergency supplies, like the proper use of spill kits or where the nearest eyewash station is. In the case of an emergency, workers should know how to handle the various supplies around the facilities, where they are located, and the proper procedure associated. Fire drills should be conducted often, alongside other facility-specific drills. If your workplace is in the Pacific Northwest or California, for example, it would be wise to implement earthquake drills. Finally, your workers should be trained on proper first aid procedures. Did you know approximately 10,000 cardiac arrest situations occur in the workplace each year? Furthermore, only 50 percent of workers could locate their workplace’s automated external defibrillator (AED) station. Consider adding trainings for your workers to take part in proper CPR training, and ensure your AED station is clearly marked, and any employee can locate it.
Emergencies are not a scheduled event, and no one is actively anticipating one. Your facility however, can be completely prepared for one. As part of the first week of National Safety Month, evaluate your current first aid kit, spill kit, and evacuation plan. Ensure not only OSHA compliancy, but that your workers understand procedures and the handling of emergency supplies. By providing comprehensive training to your employees you are instilling a sense of confidence that is extremely valuable in an emergency situation.
Stay tuned for our upcoming Safety Month coverage including wellness at work, fall protection, and driving safety!
- Celebrating National Safety Month: Week 3
- National Safety Month Week 4: Warehouse Traffic Safety
- 5 Ways to Celebrate National Electrical Safety Month
- National Safety Month & Safe Actions for Employee Returns
- Safe and Effective Evacuation
- Addressing Lockout/Tagout for National Electrical Safety Month
- Planning Ahead for an Emergency Response
- Emergency Shower and Eyewash Stations Q & A