Who is Holding Your Hand?

Safety and hazard assessments go hand in hand.  If we do not understand what a hazard is, how can we apply measures to protect ourselves?  The ability to identify hazards comes from a variety of sources:  our experiences, others’ experiences, formal and informal training. No one gets out of bed in the morning and plans to get hurt. 

Wouldn’t this be an interesting morning checklist?

  • Get out of bed – 6:00 am
  • Shower and brush your teeth – 6:15 am
  • Go to work – 7:15 am
  • Punch in – 8:00 am
  • Get hurt – 9:10 am

Many injuries are caused by

  • Being in a hurry
  • Trying to get the job done
  • Taking short cuts due to time constraints
  • Performing a non-routine task

What do most injuries have in common?  Either the injured person did not know the hazards associated with the task or did not understand that the hazard exist.  The task can be at work, at home, or doing our favorite hobby.  How many times have we or someone we know who gotten hurt and we used the following excuses?

  • Well, I was only going to be there a minute.
  • I didn’t think about it.
  • I didn’t know _(that)____ could happen.

So how do we fix this issue? That is the $64,000 question.  There are no simple answers because people are different.  Our circumstances are different.  From a safety professional’s point of view, I recommend the following:

  • Conduct employee education and training on hazards in the workplace. This training can be formal training in a classroom environment or informal training by having a younger or new employee work with an experienced employee. [OSHA 10 and 30 Hour Training Classes are a great start.  These training classes teaches hazard awareness to all employees.]
  • On non-routine tasks, develop a job hazard analysis. Address the hazards for everything that can go wrong and discuss the analysis with the all employees.
  • Give everyone an opportunity to ask questions and provide input.
  • Give everyone the authority to stop the project if there is a perceived safety hazard. Remember everyone has a different level of hazard awareness.
  • All training needs to explain and cover the, “Why the training is important to “me” the employee?” aspect. If the employee does not understand the importance of doing a job safely, then what is their motivation to pay attention?
  • Most importantly, remind the employees the person they save today might just be themselves.

So the next time you see your friend doing something that could get them or someone else hurt or injured, go hold their hand.  Be their safety reminder, their hazard assessor.  Don’t be the person who later says to themselves, “If I had only said something to them, this may not have happened.”