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Making Workplace Safety A Priority

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If you asked most people what they believed were the most dangerous professions in workplace, you’d probably hear ‘police’ and ‘firefighters’ a lot.  And those folks would be wrong. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the top 10 most dangerous jobs in 2017 were: 1. Logging workers, 2. Fishers and related fishing workers, 3. Aircraft pilots and flight engineers, 4. Roofers, 5. Trash and recycling collectors, 6. Iron and steel workers, 7. Truck and sales drivers, 8. Farmers, ranchers, and other agricultural managers, 9. Construction trades and extraction workers, 10. Grounds maintenance workers.  Police and firefighters don’t come in until numbers 15 and 16 in the ranks of dangerous jobs.

So the perception off danger in the work place is soundly misplaced in our society and that might account for some of the preventable accidents common in our nation’s workplaces.  Countless steps are taken to protect police and fireman and other first responders but the most dangerous profession, logging, barely acknowledges its high risk, which is one of the main reasons why the high accident rate in that industry persists.  The same is true of the fishing industry where steps to provide a safer environment aboard ship are often frowned upon by even the fishermen whose lives are at risk, because there is a perception that ‘safety is for sissies’ and that regulations get in the way of personal profits.

work safety


The person most responsible for workplace safety is the individual worker him or her self.  Once you’ve been working at a job for while, no one knows better than you where the danger lies.  Be aware of your surroundings at all times, especially around heavy machinery. For example, according to the transportation experts at who move heavy steel products around the country daily, “(S)pearheaded by our safety department … we do our best to ensure … a safe place to work and our equipment is meticulously maintained, inspected, and evaluated for safe operations.  We educate each of our operators on current federal, state and company policies, and keep them updated on changes as they occur.”

You’ve heard the expression, “Watch your back”?   Keep your head on a swivel if you work in a crowded, fast paced environment.  And if you work at a desk, keep your shoulders aligned with your hips to avoid back problems.  Be careful when you pick up heavy objects; use your legs instead of your back and, also, avoid stooping and twisting.

If you are not feeling well, stay home from work.  So many workplace accidents are a result of a worker trying to ‘make it through the day’ when they are suffering from a fever and/or other symptoms that affect their perception and judgment.  Another cause of accidents at work is from employees who return to work too soon after and an injury or illness.  A good rule is that if you cannot honestly say you are functioning at 90% or better, you shouldn’t be in the workplace.

If you use tools and machinery at work, make sure that you observe the proper precautions at all times, and never, ever take short cuts.  There is a tendency, even amongst good workers, to use a certain tool in a way for which it was not intended, just to save a few steps in a fabrication or manufacturing process.  Those few minutes saved could end up resulting in a long hospital stay, or even a far, far worse outcome.  No cost cutting move is ever worth your life; so be sensible especially when you’re in a hurry.

Everyone needs to take a break from his or her work task every so often, and most workers do this without any encouragement whatsoever.  As a matter of fact, many management and owners believe most of their workers are on a permanent, semi-break most of the time. But it’s no laughing matter for some workers who get so wrapped up in a task that they’ll work straight through their lunch break, and even an entire 8-hour day, without stopping.  There’s a good reason why the old rule of thumb that you take a break at least once every 5-hours – no matter WHAT – is essential. Going for long, and especially intense, work periods, without a break, is just a situation waiting for an accident to happen. You’re tired, your sight suffers, your judgment wanes and then?  Bam! Something blows up and there’s a messy workplace accident that could have been avoided if that intense worker had just stepped back and taken a little 10-minute break.

The best tool a worker or an employer can use to mitigate accidents in the workplace is just good old common sense.  Use it.

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