Most facilities harbor many more hazards than people think, and they are completely willing to overlook those hazards. Let's focus on some common safety issues that should help improve safety performance. Below is a list of common safety mistakes:
1. Lack of Housekeeping. This standard, along with walking and working surfaces, goes hand in hand with most safety incidents when you really look at their root cause. Was a hole left uncovered and not repaired? Was oil left on the floor for someone to slip on and fall? Are there extension cords running everywhere?
2. Electrical Hazards. They are everywhere, and people will usually follow standards like Lockout tagout when working on machines. In the office setting however, people are at risk as well from things like overloading electrical outlets, and daisy chaining power strips. Both of these issues can cause wiring to overheat leading to a potential fire.
3. Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). This grouping covers many different types of equipment. A company must take the time to ensure that the PPE required is fully vetted and personnel have been trained in its use.
Most places will, for example, put people into respirators because they think they are required due to a chemical that is being used, or a dusty work area. Unfortunately, the issue hasn't been investigated to ensure that the correct piece of equipment is in place, based on the actual level of the chemical/contaminate being used; and where are the engineering controls? PPE should never be the first line of defense. Follow OSHA's hierarchy of controls for dealing with hazards.
4. The biggest mistake of all is NOT conducting a Safety Risk Assessment. We're so used to our work environment that we often take safety for granted. That's a mistake.
Before getting started, ask people to share their worries in a non-threatening forum. Switch jobs for a new perspective. Consider having management perform tasks normally handled by workers on the factory floor; this can be humbling and eye-opening. Better yet, consider an outside, objective view of the workplace - before it's too late.
Discuss what can be changed immediately and long-term to improve safety. Estimate costs for making changes. Remember, there's more than a monetary cost to losing people. Then start scheduling changes based on the priorities everyone has agreed on. Don't forget that a huge component in this is communication. Make sure that as you move through the process of making changes, roll these out with positive communication at all levels of the organization.