June is National Safety Month: Tips to Avoid Workplace Accidents and Injuries

Topics: Loss Control

The National Safety Council is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to eliminate preventable injuries and deaths in the workplace, at home, and on the road by focusing on promoting safety through education, training, and providing a wealth of information resources. As part of this mission, the NSC has designated the month of June as “National Safety Month” to bring awareness to the importance of safety.

AmTrust supports the NSC’s mission of promoting a safer workplace and as such, we have provided some safety tips for helping prevent accidents or injuries in the workplace.

Practice Effective Tool Safety

Tools are an essential part of completing tasks while on the job site. However, tools can present a workplace injury hazard. Power tools present hazards when considering the source of their power (gas, electric, etc.) and the force at which they operate (like jack hammers or saws). But basic hand tools like wrenches, hammers, pliers, screwdrivers, and others can present dangers of injury as well. Here are some key points to keep in mind to help prevent an injury from a hand tool or power tool:

Hand Tools

  • Inspect the tool before use – do not use a tool with a loose or cracked handle.
  • Use the right tool for the job – do not use a tool for anything other than it’s intended purpose.
  • Operate tools according to the manufacturers’ instructions.
  • Use appropriate personal protective equipment, such as safety goggles and gloves.
  • Perform regular maintenance on tools.
  • Keep the floor surface clear of any debris or tripping hazards.

Power Tools

  • Disconnect tools when not in use.
  • Avoid using power tools in wet locations; if unavoidable, ensure that adequate Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI) Protection is installed and properly functioning.
  • Use a cord with a three-pronged plug and grounding pin, or double-insulated tools with intact insulating housings.
  • Ensure cords are not a tripping hazard.
  • For gasoline or diesel powered equipment, shut down the engine and let it cool before refueling.
  • Use guards for moving parts of power tools – this helps protect the operator and others from rotating parts such as a saw blade.

Preventing Slip and Fall Injuries/Accidents

Slip and fall injuries are types of losses that can present a significant cost to your business. With some careful planning, you can help reduce the potential of slips, trips and falls in your small business location.

Remember to:

  • Keep the floor clear of fallen objects
  • Clean up or report any spills
  • Check your pathway for any obstructions — drawers, supplies, trash cans, power cords, etc.
  • Keep an eye out for uneven floors or changes in floor level
  • Use proper footwear
  • Use handrails when ascending or descending stairs
  • Watch out for loose, torn or worn flooring
  • Report poorly-lit areas or burned out bulbs/non-functioning lighting

Read our related post on Fall Protection and Prevention: Tips and Safety Training Ideas.”

Driving/Vehicle Safety

If your small business requires the use of vehicles, periodic refreshers in safe driving practices may help reduce your chance of incurring expenses, downtime costs, missed deadlines, and dissatisfied customers caused by worker injuries or deaths from traffic accidents.

We’ve provided a few safe driving practices, but this is not all encompassing. Contact your local chapter of the National Safety Council, driver education, Department of Transportation office, or highway patrol office if you wish to arrange comprehensive defensive driving courses.

Here are some examples of safe driving practices:

  • Verify driver’s Motor Vehicle Report (MVR) records yearly to ensure licenses are valid and to discover any violations (e.g., speeding tickets); consider assigning those with unacceptable MVR’s to other duties.
  • Permit only trained and properly licensed people to drive specialized vehicles.
  • Check tires, lights, horn, and brakes of company vehicles before driving; repair or replace as needed.
  • Wear safety belts to prevent being ejected in event of accident.
  • Rest as needed – a drowsy driver can be very dangerous.
  • Be aware of the distribution of the cargo weight (shifting loads may cause loss of control).
  • Follow vehicle owner’s manual for braking techniques (e.g., many manufacturers advise against pumping anti-lock brakes).
  • Do not exceed maximum speed limit.
  • Count the number of seconds it takes to reach a fixed object which the vehicle in front passed, and then keep at least two seconds of distance behind that vehicle if the road and weather are favorable; maintain more time if they are not.
  • Check blind spots before changing lanes; look over your shoulder or use mirrors if you do not have a rear window or if the load blocks the view from a rear window.
  • Stay out of other vehicles’ blind spots.
  • Pull over to side of road when making or receiving a phone call, texting, or using any electronic device.

Refer to our transportation safety section to get additional resources for commercial auto and fleet safety.

Electrical Safety

Working with (or around) electricity poses a serious injury risk in the workplace. Here are some potential electricity risks and how to help minimize or eliminate them.

Tools and Equipment
As mentioned previously in this article, tools present a risk due to their power and the fact that normal use of electrical equipment causes wear and tear that can result in improper function of the tool/device, short-circuits, or exposed wires. By remembering safe practices such as, but not limited to, disconnecting tools when you’ve finishing using them, not operating tools in wet conditions, and using guards and protective equipment, you can help maintain a safe level of power tool and equipment use.

Power Lines
Power lines can carry extremely high voltage. Not only do they pose an electrocution risk, but also a risk burns. Power lines can be either overhead or buried under ground, which is an additional risk when excavating.

  • Check first for overhead power lines before starting any work; call your area’s underground utility locator to ensure there are no buried underground lines before beginning any excavation work.
  • Have the utility owner’s authorized representatives de-energize and ground lines when conducting work near them.
  • Perform job duties around power lines with the assumption that they are energized.
 

Extension Cords
Extension cords are a necessary device for any job site; however, cords pose a hazard when they are worn, have exposed wires, or a loose connection on the plug-in end. These conditions can increase the hazard of electric shock.

  • Use extension cords that are 3-wire type to ensure proper grounding.
  • Do not modify or attempt to repair extension cords.
  • Use cords and connection devices with strain relief.
  • To remove cords from receptacles, pull them on the plugs – not the cords.

Additional Electrical Safety Tips

  • Electrical equipment, electrical circuits, and power supply systems should be grounded.
  • Inspect electrical systems to ensure that the path to ground is continuous. Utilize a small, inexpensive plug-in socket tester to ensure circuits are properly wired and grounded. Test GFCI- equipped circuits using the test button on the unit.
  • Use double-insulated tools and ensure that any metal-framed tool has proper grounding cord and plug

Office Safety

While an office may be quieter and neater than a plant or jobsite, it can still contain machinery, chemical, slip and fall, and fire hazards. Here are some hazards found in most office settings along with ways to help eliminate or minimize their risks.

Machines (copier, shredder, fax, printer) 
Only employees trained to use these machines should be operating them. Remind users to keep body, hair, clothing, and jewelry away from moving and/or hot parts. The machines should be plugged in to properly grounded outlets, and defective or damaged power cords should be replaced. Only qualified technicians should service or repair machines.

Slip and fall risks 
Keep power cords out of walkways. Furniture, storage, and equipment should not be blocking aisles or walkways. Clean spills immediately using non-slip floor cleaners and waxes. During inclement weather, place walk-off floor mats at doorways to help reduce the buildup of slippery conditions on floors. Adequate light should be provided in all areas where employees walk, and handrails should be in place for stairs. Read our related post on “7 Simple Ladder Safety Tips.”

Fire hazards 
Smoking should only be allowed in designated areas with adequate ashtrays. Portable heaters should be discouraged in the office, or if permitted, they must be kept clear from combustibles. Employees should avoid overloading electric circuits.

AmTrust Loss Control Resources

Visit the Loss Control section on our website for more information on the topics outlined above, and much more. Check out this video about AmTrust’s a wide range of loss control information and resources.

 

AmTrust offers a wealth of loss control resources, including risk management support. Also, visit our blog regularly for more up-to-date news, tips and information on the insurance industry.

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