Developing and Improving Safety for the New Year
by Ron Pettit, Loss Control Specialist, Harry A. Koch Co.
For a safety program to be effective, you need to analyze your work environment and involve your workers in the process. Using OSHA requirements as a guide to developing and implementing a safety program for your workplace is a good starting point.
The plan should consider your company's immediate needs and provide for on-going worker protection. Because each workplace is unique, your program will differ from that of your competitor. Basically, you need to review the types of accidents and health hazard exposures that have happened in the past at your workplace. Remember, the work force is getting older, more than 40 percent of construction workers are "baby boomers," that is, they were born between 1946 and 1964. Construction workers in the United States have the highest rate of smoking among all occupations at 37.7 percent, compared to a national average of 22 percent, carrying a risk for lung cancer and chronic lung disease. Forty-three percent of U.S. construction workers are overweight, compared to 35 percent of all workers, with a risk for diabetes and heart disease. Because construction work includes a lot of material handling, awkward posture, and other physical demands, many construction workers also develop work-related MSDs, such as chronic low back pain or shoulder problems. (http://ohsonline.com/articles/2010/03/01/the-aging-worker.aspx)
Before you make any changes in your safety and health operations, you will want to gather as much information as possible about the current conditions at your workplace and about business practices that are already part of your safety and health program. Getting workers involved is the best way to look at this, who better to ask then those who are around it every day. Construction worker training should be more than covering basic skills and hand tools.
Have an emergency medical procedure for handling injuries, transporting ill or injured workers, and notifying medical facilities not only for the small stuff but also for catastrophic injury such as amputation or serious falls. Posting emergency numbers and having a plan can save life-saving minutes in an emergency. If your business is remote from medical facilities, you are required to ensure that a person or persons be adequately trained and available to render first aid. Adequate first aid supplies must be readily available for emergency use.
After your review of each job you can complete a work site analysis. If you seriously involve your workers in identifying and resolving safety and health problems, they are more likely to commit themselves to achieve the goals and objectives of your program. Once you know what the past, current and potential hazards are, you’re ready to put in place the policies that can control or eliminate those hazards.