Improving workplace safety is a challenging task, and one that is never ending. When done properly, however, it can help to avoid accidents and even save lives. Many businesses focus on implementing safety standards, and ensuring equipment is properly maintained to avoid safety issues.
While these are both very good things to do, it can leave employees at risk to common safety ‘blind spots.’ These blind spots are safety hazards that are often overlooked in safety training and procedures, which can result in serious injuries and deaths. The following five safety blind spots are among the most common, and should be addressed in all facilities to help keep people safe.
1. Temporarily Removing Safety Equipment
One of the biggest safety blind spots that companies have is when employees remove their safety equipment to make it easier to get something done. For example, if an employee is working at great heights, they will have to wear a fall protection harness at all times. In far too many cases, however, an employee will remove the harness so they can reach a tight or otherwise hard to reach area.
While it is true that safety equipment can sometimes get in the way and make things less comfortable or more difficult, it is there for a reason. Companies need to make it clear that this type of safety equipment is required at all times, without exceptions. If they find something they can’t do while wearing the equipment, the work should be delayed until a safe option is found.
2. Failing to Properly Remove Power
When working with any type of powered equipment such as vehicles, machines, and tools it is important to always be aware that these things could become active at any time. When performing maintenance on these types of equipment, it is critical to follow proper lockout/tag out policies to not only remove the source of power, but also put a lock on it so nobody can accidently reenergize it while it is being worked on.
Most people will follow these types of procedures when doing significant maintenance, it is often overlooked when just doing something quick. For example, if a part gets stuck in a press machine, an employee may be tempted to reach in and grab it so they can continue their work. If the machine becomes active somehow, it would result in a very serious injury.
3. Walking Through an Area without Personal Protection Equipment
In most facilities, each area is going to have a different set of requirements for personal protection equipment. Employees who work in a given area will typically follow these requirements quite well. When someone is just walking through the area, however, people often neglect to put on this type of equipment since they won’t be in the area very often.
This exposes them to significant risks. Anytime someone needs to do any type of maintenance, or do anything outside the ordinary on these types of machines, it is best to require a full lockout/tag out to be done in order to keep them safe.
4. Low Visibility Areas
Working in areas where there is low or limited visibility is one of the most dangerous safety blind spots. This could be in an area where there is not sufficient light, or an area where workers need to travel around corners or other similar things. These are especially dangerous when using larger equipment like forklifts or high-lows.
Many companies will use highly visible floor marking tape to provide guidance to those in the area. Marking off which direction has the right of way, for example, can help ensure that people from two or more directions don’t try to move forward at the same time. Glow in the dark or reflective floor marking tape can also be used to improve visibility in low light areas.
5. Being Unaware of Equipment Restrictions
Most types of equipment have set restrictions on them that must be followed. For example, ladders all have weight limits. These limits are typically sufficiently high for a single person to climb, but if they are carrying heavy objects, it can be dangerous. Scaffolding will also have weight or height limits that need to be followed.
In order to ensure employees are aware of these types of risks, and they take the right steps to avoid them, it can be helpful to print off labels that clearly display the equipment restrictions in question. This will help ensure employees are working safely throughout the facility.
Always Look for Safety Blind Spots
Every facility will have a different set of safety blind spots that increase the risks to the facility itself, and the employees working there. Safety managers need to make sure they are actively watching for hazards, and taking steps to avoid them, in order to create the safest possible workplace.