7 Common Workplace Safety Mistakes to Avoid for Small Businesses

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2.8 million nonfatal workplace injuries were reported in 2018, this number had remained approximately the same from the year previous.

So, what can be done about all of these workplace safety mistakes? Both minor and major changes need to be addressed on all levels because every part of the day can contribute, no matter how large or small.

But it starts with proper education for all involved.

1. Improper Training Structure

A workplace cannot be safely operated if the employees are not properly educated. They need both the proper amount of time to be spent on the material and the most detailed and accurate material available.

There is a rush when new employees are onboarded to get them up to speed and out on the floor. But this can effortlessly just lead to more downtime with the potential accidents that would occur.

Spending the additional needed time on a properly structured training program would be far less time and far less of a risk to worker wellbeing.

This improper training can lead to things like; using the wrong tools for a particular job or, a whole subject of its own, improper handling of dangerous chemicals.

This foundation sets up an entire workplace for disaster and is the first place to start when evaluating a strategy to make the workplace a safer environment.

2. A Clean Environment Is a Safe Environment

This is easiest to solve, yet most often overlooked cause of safety concerns in many workplaces. To many, cleaning is busy work and because of that is given the lowest of priority.

When in fact, cleaning in between jobs is a straightforward safety measure to take. It takes little effort but ensures that tripping and accidents are less likely to happen. This effort will also help keep equipment from being broken as well.

Not only will a properly organized workplace be safer but work will be more streamlined. Resources will be more easily accessible and there will be lowered levels of stress across the board.

3. Sticking to a Proper Maintenance Schedule

Another habit that companies fall into because of their desire to keep the train running and stay away from “downtime” is the delaying of routine maintenance. For these companies time is money and for the time that those machines or equipment is not running, the dollars are not flowing either.

When properly scheduled maintenance can be a relatively quick process and would not have production coming to a complete halt. A staggered inspection and repair timetable would allow for only some machines to be shut down while others still worked.

Without regular inspections, potential breakdowns can go unseen until the very event occurs. That event could simply be the machine shutting down or something very worse, a major accident involving multiple employees.

The easier solution is simple routine preventative maintenance.

4. Improper Material Storage

This will especially apply to any business that does any handling of chemical materials. Whenever dealing with any type of harmful or potentially toxic substance anyone who may come in contact with the substance must understand the risks.
There are steps to take to reduce potential problems, including:

● Maintaining proper ventilation in storage areas

● Requiring any employee that is handling, or is in the storage area, to wear the appropriate protective items.

● Chemicals should be stored in a designated area, isolated from electrical equipment and other items that could lead to incidents.

● Manufacturer’s lists need to be stored with the materials as well as SDS and MSDS information to be readily accessible on-site at the storage area.

5. Minor Misses Can Lead to Huge Accidents

A small event or close call may seem like nothing at the time, but they can add up. Just because it was a “close call” this time does not mean the next time will be as lucky. If the event happened now it will happen again and the cause should be addressed.

Any spill, no matter how large or small, should be addressed as soon as it is noticed. Many will pass off a small bit of water as no big deal and leave it be. But there is more risk than people like to think.

The chance to slip and fall is quite high when a work environment is left unchecked. Everyone has to do their part to avoid workplace accidents.

The same goes for any other type of obstacle or non-liquid spills. This idea plays in a clean and safe workplace. Just because you could avoid it does not mean it is not unsafe.

Make sure to clear cords out of the way, easily moveable containers, look for potential unsteady items that may fall and injure. Simple observations can lead to significant differences.

6. Personel Fatigue

This may not always be the first thing that comes to mind when we think workplace safety mistakes but just as machines and the work environment needs to be maintained, so do the employees.

With long hours and lack of rest, the chance of work-related problems can skyrocket. OSHA reports have found that working shifts of 12 hours or more have been associated with a 37% increase in the risk of workplace injury.

If you factor in mental health and wellbeing those numbers can continue to rise. Levels of stress and fatigue have a marked impact on cognitive function and this again leads to potential accidents.

Not only accidents but a loss of productivity and lower morale across the board. This can carry over into many areas of the workplace and eventually contribute to other accidents.

7. Insufficient PPE

Even if there is a proper understanding of the risk of a workplace task or of a particular material being handled if the protective equipment is not available or if it is not used correctly the chance for an accident remains high.

These rules need to be strictly enforced as well, if one person does not wear the protective item and has an issue it increases the risk for all workers near them. This is a safety hazard that could have easily been avoided.

A Job Free of Workplace Safety Mistakes

The instances and objects that need to be addressed when it comes to workplace safety mistakes run minor to major, but they all share the same importance. A small case can turn into huge chaos rapidly.

But as you can see it is also effortless to keep the workplace in order if you just keep with a proper routine.

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