How to Successfully Complete a Safety Audit

Safety is the most important issue in any workplace. If a worker doesn’t feel safe in his or her job, then they’ll be unable to focus on doing a good job – and will focus on avoiding injury instead. Not only does this not contribute to a productive work environment – it’s dangerous, and is likely a sign that your place of work is not up to date on current legal requirements.

Fortunately, periodic safety checks or safety audits of your business are an easy way to ensure that everything is running smoothly and that there are no hidden safety hazards. A lot of organizations shy away from safety audits, thinking that they are only searching for things that are going drastically wrong. But it doesn’t have to be that way! With the right attitude and intent, anyone can carry out a productive safety audit.

Image courtesy of Boris Dzhingarov of Flickr

Image courtesy of Boris Dzhingarov of Flickr

The goals of any audit are simple, and achieving these goals is especially easy if you continue to carry out regular safety audits. A truly productive safety audit should:

  • identify the risks, and the levels of severity of said risks, within the workplace
  • identify strengths and weaknesses in your safety procedures
  • assess whether your safety procedures are legally compliant
  • compare current documentation and practices against best practice and legal obligations
  • recommend improvements in your safety procedures
  • ensure that there adequate resources available to manage Occupational Health and Safety (OHS)
  • ensure that the resources devoted to health and safety are being utilized effectively

A safety audit can focus on one single activity, one segment of the organization or the overall status of the organization as a whole. It all depends on how you want to approach it.

How often should safety audits be held?

A full-on safety audit should be completed about once every 3 months. Since the process is a bit more in depth than a general safety check it doesn’t need to be done every month. However, a general safety inspection of work stations should be held weekly to ensure there are no minor safety hazards.

What specifically should you look for in a safety audit?

While you may want to add an item or two onto your site’s own safety audit list, a good audit will always check for each of the following common work hazards:

  • Safety hazards such as faulty machinery, unsafe work practices, unsafe conditions, etc.
  • Biological hazards such as viruses, bacteria, fungi, etc.
  • Chemical hazards. This is especially important if you are frequently handling chemicals and other dangerous liquids.
  • Physical demands/conditions on the worker such as continuous repetitions of a single action, awkward posture, weather, pressure, etc.

What sorts of things should I have written up after a safety audit?

At the end of a successful audit, you should have:

  • An updated tool inventory that highlights anyh tools or machinery at your worksite, and where they are each located; this helps to keep things in their correct place and make sure that they don’t go missing.
  • An updated chemical inventory that confirms chemicals are being stored safely, securely, and in a proper location on-site, where they won’t react to the other chemicals stored around. This is imperative since a chemical reaction can be one of the most dangerous accidents in the workplace.

While not necessarily a requirement, it’s also very helpful to have an updated diagram of the workplace at the end of every safety audit. A mapping of where everything is located can help mark where certain hazards are while moving through the facilities. That way, staff and coworkers alike have to waste time struggling to remember the location of certain safety hazards while on the job.

Safety audits are necessary for every business from office jobs to garages to factories. Every workplace should complete periodic safety checks to ensure that there are no hazards that could hurt someone or even damage expensive equipment. If you continue to complete these safety audits at regular intervals, you will breeze through them and reduce on-site injuries for your workers. However, if you become lax and neglect them for a while, they become harder to complete. Keep up to date on your safety and you definitely won’t regret it.

Sources Consulted

CCOHS

Health and Safety Handbook

7 Questions You Need To Ask About Safety Procedures And Protocols At Work

Image courtesy of B3D_ on Flickr

Image courtesy of B3D_ on Flickr

Are you comfortable with the working conditions at your job? Do you go into work every day knowing your basic safety needs are met, or do you stress about when the next harmful incident will occur?

A safe workplace is an ideal workplace, in more ways than one. For example, knowing how to both spot and address potential safety issues within your own workplace could help save you, fellow coworkers, or even your superiors from a potentially dangerous situation; this protects everyone on site from serious injury or death. In addition to protecting the lives of those involved, addressing safety issues is also likely to save companies money. After all, safer workers are focused and productive workers – and safer workplaces are less likely to experiences fines or costs of damage in the event of a worksite accident.

Unfortunately, too often people find themselves afraid to have a serious discussion about workplace safety. However, it’s a conversation that needs to happen. To help get it started at your own company, trying asking yourself these simple questions and jumpstarting a real conversation about workplace safety with your coworkers.

  1. Do you know the greatest risks in your industry?

Are you aware of the risks that go hand in hand with your industry? Although it varies between jobs and during different times and scenarios, supervisors should be clear from the beginning, even from the interview, about what kind of risky situations workers could be required to put themselves into in order to perform their job correctly. Understanding exactly what they need to watch for can help staff members better prepare for potential on-site accidents.

  1. Does everyone who needs it have the appropriate licensing?

A proper license or certification means that the worker has learned and passed training classes to work in certain situations. For example, you may need certification to handle specific equipment or even dangerous materials. If an unlicensed worker is doing a job that is meant for a certified professional, it puts not only that person at risk, but also puts everyone around them – and an entire company’s operating abilities – at risk.

  1. Is training being done periodically?

As time progresses, new safety standards evolve based on industry needs. Having regular safety meetings to inform employees of new safety policies and laws will ensure that everyone within a company is being kept up to date on these developments, thereby reducing the risk of an out-of-date procedure creating an unsafe scenario at work.

  1. Are procedures set in place in the event of an emergency?

Emergencies can happen any time – and to ensure that they can be handled, every single employee needs to know what should be done in the event of an emergency situation. Not only should emergency procedures be written and posted at your workplace in an easy to understand and readily accessible fashion – they should also be practiced during training and drill sessions, so that employees are already briefed on what to do in an actual emergency. Policies should also be revisited and reviewed every couple of months to ensure the safety standards laid out in them are up to date.

  1. Are proper safety gear and equipment provided?

Basic safety gear should be stored safely and kept on hand for all employees who may need them to handle an emergency. Some examples of essential tools include hard hats, goggles, gloves, and an easy to use spill absorbent product. However, it’s important to remember that additional basic items may be needed, and a complete list of “must have” safety gear can vary between different organizations and even between different departments of the same organizations. Because of this, n assessment should be completed by each department in the organization to determine what specific safety equipment is required.

  1. Are safety audits performed on a regular basis?

Think that safety audits aren’t necessary at your place of work? Think again. Regularly scheduled safety issues provide much-needed time to examine worksites for problems that need to be addressed ASAP. This is especially important when dealing with large or heavy machinery, and other types of equipment that could injure employees or create environmental hazards during a spill. If safety audits are not part of your regular workplace overhaul, it’s time to add them to your list of protocols.

  1. Do your managers and coworkers take safety seriously?

Employers and superiors should always take your safety very seriously. Worker safety should always be a top priority. If your managers joke around about general safety, that may be a sign that they have the potential to jeopardize your well being by not taking safety in general seriously. The same goes for your coworkers. If a coworker is goofing around in a dangerous situation, they can harm themselves and those around them. If an employee isn’t taking safety matters seriously, they should be reported to their supervisor.
Each of questions can help get an important conversation going about safety in the workplace, and each question is designed to address a different but equally important safety issue. By discussing each of them in-depth, you can begin to locate lapses in the safety procedures of your workplace, as well as a lack of knowledge in the employees. Most importantly, once you have identified these gaps, you can improve and address them before they lead to a serious accident or injury.

Eye Injuries And How To Prevent Them

Eye injuries are very common injuries in the workplace. In fact, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) reports that around 2,000 people are affected by work related eye injuries that need treatment every day in the United States. And out of these 2,000 injuries, more than 100 require at least 1 day of recuperation before an employee is able to go back to work.

This is bad news for a number of reasons. Any work injuries are problematic, as they reflect an unsafe work environment. This is particularly unfortunate when it comes to eye injuries since most, if not all, of them can be avoided. Fortunately, if proper precautions are taken, there are fewer chances for accidents, which will create a safer work environment (and this will ultimately help a company maintain a more profitable bottom line, by keeping workers on the job and out of the hospital).

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has compiled a checklist to follow to ensure the safety of all workers in your facility. All of these checkpoints work towards one final ultimate goal – accident prevention:

  1. Create a safe work environment. Check to make sure there are no hazards in your company’s workspace, such as loose debris, which could fall and get into someone’s eyes. Schedule regular checkups of tools to ensure quality and safety of all equipment used. Also, make sure that all workers handling the machinery are properly educated in the operation of each piece of equipment.
  2. Check for safety hazards. Evaluate your facility for any potential hazards. Also look in the surrounding area at nearby machinery, workers or any falling or shifting debris.
  3. Wear proper eye safety wear. When using any tools or machinery it’s important to have eye and face coverings to protect yourself from any flying material. Be especially sure that you choose the appropriate eye coverings. Your equipment should be comfortable but still snug to prevent anything from sneaking in. If you’re unsure of the fitness of your equipment, consult with OSHA before using it. You should also make sure to clean and disinfect all equipment in between uses. Finally, perform routine checks of the safety equipment to ensure nothing has broken or cracked.
  4. Practice safe technique at work. In the event that there is any debris falling or flying through the air at work, make sure to brush off your head, hat, safety helmet and safety glasses before removing the glasses. Otherwise, debris may fall from your hair or hat into your eyes and cause an injury. Make sure that safety glasses are cleaned in between each use to prevent debris from settling inside the glasses/goggles and entering the eyes once they are put on. Store all safety equipment in a cabinet to prevent debris or dust from accumulating in any glasses or goggles.
  5. Prepare ahead of time. In the event of an accident, workers need to be prepared and educated in the appropriate responses. Additionally, by having an eye washing station on site many eye injuries can be stopped from being permanently damaging.

Accidents can happen, but they can also be prevented. Preparation is the best way to prevent one from happening, but if one does occur it’s important to know how to react to it. By knowing the proper procedure in the event of an emergency you can cut down on the time it takes to correct the problem. Educated workers will know what to do and how to react in an emergency situation so regularly holding training sessions to teach proper procedures keeps everyone informed. It’s important to always wear eye protection when on a job site and it also helps to keep a first aid kit accessible. Encourage workers to take precaution and to always wear eye protection and you can save them from serious injury.

3 Causes Of Back Pain At Work – And How To Prevent It

Persistent back pain can make it impossible to focus when at work. It can also make it impossible to actually complete your tasks. Unfortunately, many industries put a lot of strain on the back, increasing the chances of workers suffering from a range of issues, including minor aches to severe injury. Whether minor or severe, though, back pain is not something anyone wants. Fortunately, there are ways you can avoid it, thereby helping to make your job safer and more enjoyable for you.

 

What causes back pain?

There are many things that can lead to back pain. The most common sources of back pain are:

  • lifting loads that are too heavy
  • lifting loads or items improperly
  • repeating improper movements over and over; by doing movements repetitively, you can cause inflammation to your joints and tendons, contributing to your risk of developing tendonitis or bursitis.

If you think something else is causing your back pain at work, take some time to evaluate that possibility as well. Once you understand what is causing your pain, you can usually easily change your actions or work with your employer to ensure you aren’t inflicting that pain upon yourself.

 

How can you avoid causing pain?

If you find that improper lifting, posture or other bad habits are the cause of your back pain, you can get to work on addressing this issue by doing the following:

Keep your body in good shape. By incorporating strength building exercises into your daily routine, you can train your body to better handle the force of lifting heavy objects. The tricks you pick up at the gym will also come in handy at work. Before lifting an object on the job, you should warm your body up with some stretches. This will increase your flexibility, your range of motion and your ability to lift and carry objects in the moment. These stretches are not only good to perform before strenuous activity, but also after, to help keep your muscles in good form.

Pay attention to your posture before you begin lifting. Bad posture is a common cause of back pain. Keeping your back straight and your head up will prevent you from arching your back which can cause injury. You should also avoid twisting while lifting, which can strain the back. Additionally, ifpossible, start with the object between your feet so that you won’t have to reach in order to lift the object. Finally, always keep the load close to your waist while lifting. This lessens the force placed on your back which lessens the possibility of injury.

Take frequent, short breaks in between activity. Taking short and frequent breaks  is better for your muscles than resting for longer periods of time. This is because your body needs some time to recuperate after lifting heavy things. By giving your muscles more opportunities to recover, you’ll be better able to lift more heavy objects.


While you may think these steps are too much hassle, remember that back pain is a common ailment in every industry, even office workers. That means these tricks are appropriate for any worker, in any industry. By preparing yourself beforehand and exhibiting proper technique, you can prevent serious injuries. (And remember, no matter where you work, the most important thing you can do is to listen to your body. If you notice discomfort, address it immediately to determine what the problem is and fix it before it can cause a serious problem.)

What Is The True Cost Of Work-Related Injuries In 2014?

We want to address one of the largest expenses companies deal with today – job- related injuries and illnesses.

Job-related injuries and illnesses affect around 3.3 million people a year, according to a blog post by Hilda Solis, the Secretary of Labor in 2011. While desk job related injuries aren’t always very obvious, other industries put employees at a greater risk for major physical injury. But any workplace injury or illness, no matter how it’s caused, inevitably disables and hurts workers and their families – sometimes temporarily, and sometimes permanently.

Unfortunately, job-related illnesses and injuries may be doing more harm than we thought – not just to individuals, which is bad enough, but to companies and the economy as well. According to ucdmc.ucdavis.edu, “In the first comprehensive review of its kind since 1992, a UC Davis researcher has estimated the national annual price tag of occupational injuries and illnesses at $250 billion, much higher than generally assumed.”

To put this number into perspective:

  • It’s $31 billion more than the direct and indirect medical costs associated with treating cancer in the U.S.
  • It’s $76 billion more than the costs associated with diabetes
  • It’s $187 billion more than the costs associated with strokes

How is this possible? Often the worst costs associated with workplace injuries and illness are secondary, and are therefore easier to forget about and ignore compared to the costs being paid upfront. These secondary expenses are highlighted in this wonderful and informative infographic:

As you can see, most estimates indicate that only 29% of any injury-associated costs are direct; the rest are all associated with indirect costs.

While data indicates that some industries or occupations are more likely than others to face certain risks or contribute to injury and illness costs, the truth is that any and every industry today can and does deal with these expenses. While some accidents are more common than others, frequent and infrequent types of accidents alike can lead to injury and tragedy. When you add in the fact that modern day occupational injuries and illnesses cost about $33 billion more today than they did in 1992 (once adjusted for inflation), it’s clear that something has to be done.

It’s time for every employer to put more emphasis on the reduction of work-related injury and illnesses, to reduce costs and, more importantly, to help the American workers who deserve better.

What do you think about this latest research? What has your workplace does to address its specific potential work-related injuries and illnesses? Let us know in the comments!

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