Improving safety performance and preventing workplace accidents is a challenge, but it’s one that’s made much easier when employees lend a hand.
If you can get your employees to take these five simple steps every day, you’re well on the way to improved safety performance and zero accidents.
1. Identify hazards: If employees don’t know what the hazards are—or could be—they can’t effectively protect against them. Employees therefore should:
- Think about the tasks they perform and what could go wrong and cause an accident.
- Inspect their work area and workstation at the beginning of every work shift.
- Inspect equipment, PPE, and materials before use.
- Consider their safety attitude and fitness to work (for example, are they rested? concentrating? limber?).
2. Plan ahead. Before starting a job, employees should think about such things as:
- PPE, equipment, and materials they will be working with
- Specific tasks they will be performing
- Where and with whom they will be working
- Applicable safety procedures and rules
- What they would need to do in the event of an emergency
3. Stay alert. To work safely, employees must pay attention while they work. They must:
- Give the task their full attention.
- Avoid distractions.
- Beware of becoming complacent about safety or taking shortcuts, no matter how many times they’ve performed a task or how many years of experience they have.
- Pay attention to people and conditions around them and of any changes in activities or conditions that could create new or different hazards.
4. Ask questions. Employees should ask their supervisor whenever:
- They’re not sure what to do or do not understand a safety rule or procedure
- They’re unsure whether something is a hazard
- They don’t know what type of PPE to use
- They’re dealing with a new substance, procedure, or piece of equipment
- Something seems wrong, but they are not sure what
5. Take near misses seriously. Near misses should be taken as a warning that something’s wrong and needs to be corrected. According to the National Safety Council, 75 percent of all accidents are preceded by one or more near misses.
There are so many cases where a few hours after a near miss that wasn’t reported—or the next day or the next week—another accident occurred and an employee who could have be saved was injured or killed. When a near miss occurs, employees should:
- Treat the incident as a call to action and never ignore the incident.
- Report every near miss to their supervisor immediately.
- Cooperate in the incident investigation to determine what went wrong and how to correct the problem so that it doesn’t result in a subsequent accident and injury