Spring has sprung, so your employees may be dusting off the winter cobwebs and tackling strenuous home tasks, such as spring cleaning and gardening. In today’s Advisor, we give guidance on conducting effective training for off-the-job safety.
Would it surprise you to know that fewer workers are injured or killed at work than away from work? One study placed the off-the-job percentages at more than half as many injuries and over two-thirds as many deaths as resulted from on-the-job accidents. Other statistics indicated more lost workdays resulting from away-from-work injuries.
What Can Be Done?
Formal training in most of the tasks involved in a company’s operations is already provided, either as an OSHA requirement or because of the good sense of managers and supervisors. The importance of safety is also likely to be reinforced by bulletin board notices or booklet handouts. So why not, at very little cost, emphasize off-the-job safety when providing training in activities likely to be engaged in away from work?
What to Emphasize
Many of the dangers that need to be avoided are the same at work or at home. So it makes sense to focus on those hazards. Some reminders and suggestions relating to each of them follow.
Motor Vehicle Safety
Vehicle-related accidents are the prime cause of fatalities both on the job and off. Stress to workers, and their families, the importance of:
- Seat Belts: Buckle up as soon as you are in the car.
- Good Driving Habits: Obey speed limits and traffic signs; be alert to what is happening ahead of, behind, and next to your own vehicle; don’t tailgate; adjust to weather conditions.
- Proper Maintenance: Have all engine parts inspected regularly; check lights, fluids, and tire pressure; ensure maximum visibility by keeping windows clean and wipers in good condition.
Fires are one of the two worst killers of people in their homes, and certainly the most feared. Because they are of special on-the-job concern as well, many businesses participate in special training activities during October. Expand these to include advice for fire safety at home—both how to prevent one, and what to do if one does occur:
- Flammables: Handle carefully and store safely; train children never to play with matches, lighters, etc.; never leave fireplace fires or in-use space heaters unattended.
- Smoke Alarms: Install at least one on each floor, including the basement.
- Extinguishers: Have one in the kitchen, possibly one elsewhere, and be sure they are in proper operating condition.
- Emergency contacts: Know the number of your fire department; have it on your phone and cell phone.
- Escape: Plan routes well in advance, and practice them, including where to meet after leaving the building.
Falls are the other most frequently fatal home accident, but a little common sense could prevent most of them. For example:
- Slip/Trip Prevention: Make sure floors have nonskid surfaces or no-slip rugs and mats (include antislip protection inside bathtubs); clean up any spills promptly; don’t allow cords and cables to cross traffic paths.
- Stair Care: Keep them uncluttered and well-lighted; walk, do not run, up and down; use handrails.
- Careful Climbing: Use sturdy, well-maintained ladders or step stools, not furniture; follow the same rules for safe ladder use as you would at work.
When the company safety program includes a "take-home" element, that’s a "win-win" scenario for both employer and employee. Why not give it a try?
In next Friday’s Advisor, we’ll look at a few more topics for off-the-job safety training.
Why It Matters
- It’s true that off-the-job injuries do not affect a company’s insurance rate, or need to be recorded on OSHA Form 300, and add to its accident experience statistics.
- But they do incur costs—for finding and hiring replacement workers, for example—and since these substitutes are probably not as familiar with the tasks, a production slowdown may occur.
- Morale can be adversely affected as well.
- With all of these factors to consider, it makes sense to spend a little time and a little money on off-the-job safety training.