Employers that proactively encourage safety have the potential to significantly reduce injuries.
“Identifying slip-and-fall hazards isn’t complicated - just follow liquids through the shop and look for areas that are untidy,” Hamel says. “Although every shop has unique hazards, fluid dispensing stations, work areas and waste collection sites are common locations for leaks, spills and clutter.
According to the National Floor Safety Institute (NFSI), creating and utilizing a floor safety plan that identifies hazards and includes good housekeeping practices, proper footwear, signage and cleaning materials can help reduce slip and fall injuries by up to 90 percent, she notes.
FLOOR SAFETY PLAN
Like most changes, it takes some time and effort for good housekeeping and safety changes to become habits, says Hamel, who recommends the following elements to help a floor safety plan succeed:
Cleanup supplies and barriers. “Whether it is a dust pan and broom to sweep up metal shavings and dust, or absorbents to clean up spills near a waste oil tank, if clean up supplies are not readily available, people will not use them,” she says. “Few people will take the time to go to the other end of the building to get the supplies that they need.
“Making them readily available where spills or messes happen encourages faster response.
“Likewise, having traffic cones or other barrier devices readily available can help divert traffic or people away from a hazardous area until it can be cleaned up or the hazard corrected.”
Signage. “Signs help to reinforce safety, identify hazards and help people know where to find things,” says Hamel.
Signs can be as simple as a notice on the door that reminds everyone of the need for safety glasses and proper footwear, or a sign on the wall that says “spill kit” and has an arrow pointing to its location.
Cleaning chemicals. It is not uncommon for the wrong cleaning chemical to cause slippery floor problems, Hamel observes. Check with cleaning chemical suppliers to determine how much of a cleaning chemical should be used when cleaning a floor, and how often cleaning is recommended.
“Two very common problems are using too much of a cleaning chemical – more isn’t always better, or not using it often enough.”
Footwear. “Consider footwear as a tool,” advises Hamel. “Like an impact wrench or a pad sander, it needs to be taken care of, and it needs to be replaced from time to time.
“Unfortunately, the lifespan on a pair of work boots is probably a lot shorter than other tools. Establish a change-out policy for footwear that encourages replacement at proper intervals.
In most cases, on-the-job accidents and the accompanying loss of productivity and efficiency can be avoided by establishing manager/employee safety committees, instituting regular training programs and inspections, and creating safety incentive programs. Such programs have become a commonplace approach used by all types of vehicle maintenance operations to improve safety and reduce workers’ compensation claims and other worker injury-related costs.
For these types of programs to be effective, they must be properly developed, implemented and maintained.
Officials at Grainger, offer the following advice for crafting an effective safety incentive program.
1. Define objectives.
First, concentrate attention where incidents are occurring, stress the officials. Then, gather the appropriate personnel and analyze your company’s incident/injury rates and subsequent lost-work times.
“This will help identify the areas that need to be focused on and give the background necessary to set reasonable goals,” they note.
“Involve everyone, especially management. Management’s involvement and support is vital to set the tone for employees.”
2. Choose a format.
Get to know the needs of supervisors and employees, then select activities for the safety incentive program that will yield results.
Employees need to understand why the program is being implemented. The program’s goals, rules, how it works and how progress is measured must be clearly defined and easily understood. The awards/rewards should be tailored to fit the workforce.