The North American Occupational Safety and Health (NAOSH) Week is the first week in May, and this year it has been dedicated to creating and maintaining safe workplaces. Sponsored by the American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE) and the Canadian Society of Safety Engineering (CSSE), NAOSH Week activities are designed to promote the importance of safety and health on the job throughout North America and with worldwide partners, including Kuwait, Columbia, and Ecuador.
Training is a key component of safe workplaces worldwide. NAOSH Week, therefore, is a good opportunity to reaffirm your organization’s commitment to safety training by giving your employees a general safety overview. Remind them that there are a number of hazards on the job that fall mostly into three categories:
- Equipment – Broken, defective, or improperly maintained equipment can cause injuries, as can the wrong equipment for the job and incorrectly used equipment.
- People – Workers without proper knowledge or skills are a serious hazard to themselves and co-workers, as are workers with a poor safety commitment.
Environment – Work areas that are too hot or cold or too noisy can be hazardous, as can areas with poor housekeeping or ventilation.
Your organization minimizes these hazards by keeping the facility in good condition, installing the right kind of equipment and maintaining it properly, and conducting ongoing training.
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Recognizing hazards is essential to avoiding accidents. Review hazard warnings in your workplace, such as DANGER signs, HARD HAT AREAs, material safety data sheets, or container labels. Workers need to be taught to always obey hazard instructions. In addition, workers can avoid incidents by practicing basic safety practices, such as inspecting tools, equipment, machinery, and protective clothing and equipment before using them.
Following safety rules all the time is the most effective way to stay safe. Some examples of general rules that workers need to follow all the time are:
- Walk, don’t run.
- Obey all no smoking signs.
- Practice good housekeeping, including keeping aisles and stairs clear, disposing of trash promptly and properly, keeping tools and materials in their places, and cleaning up spills promptly.
- Wear personal protective equipment (PPE) where required, including hearing protection, safety glasses, gloves, and safety shoes, even if just passing through a PPE-required area.
- Report all accidents promptly.
- Don’t fool around.
- Practice good hygiene, including keeping food and beverages out of work areas and washing up thoroughly before eating, drinking, and smoking, as well as after removing PPE.
- Use electricity safely, including matching plugs and outlets, avoiding use of extension cords, and following lockout/tagout rules for electrical equipment maintenance and repair.
- Know what to do and whom to contact in an emergency.
Customize your training overview to the specifics of your workplace. And above all, reinforce the importance your organization places on safety and the importance of the role each worker plays in workplace safety.
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Why It Matters
- Every year about 6,000 employees in this country die from workplace injuries.
- About 50,000 die from illnesses caused by exposure to workplace hazards.
- Around 6 million workers suffer nonfatal workplace injuries.
- Those injuries cost U.S. businesses more than $125 billion annually.