Employee Safety

Employee Safety https://learningcentre.statefarm.ca/safety-2/work/employee-safety/ bb3 Sep 9, 2011

By Staff writer State Farm™ Employee

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A top priority for any employer should be to protect any business's most valuable asset: its employees. If an employee becomes injured at work, your business will suffer the consequences.

Machinery And Machine Guarding

Machines in the workplace can pose operating hazards. From minor cuts and abrasions to serious lacerations, exposure to machine operations can be detrimental to life, health, and productivity.

It is highly recommended that machinery equipped with guarding be purchased or that the guards on existing machines are left intact and employees be trained to use them.

In addition to adequate machine guarding, also consider the following:

  • Employees should be trained in the startup, operating, and shutdown procedures of all equipment.
  • All mechanical equipment should be inspected for possible operating hazards before and after each use.

Unavoidable circumstances and complications can occur with the machinery. Employees should be trained in the following:

  • Service and maintenance of machinery
  • Lockout/Tagout procedures
  • Reporting procedures for operating problems

Hazardous Materials

Chemicals and materials in the workplace can be hazardous. It is good practice to have a designated storage place for chemicals. Even if your business does not use materials that are classified as toxic, chances are you do have items that could irritate, burn, or cause an allergic reaction or injuries. Some combinations of common cleaning chemicals can cause serious life-threatening conditions.

Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDSs) should be on file. It is the responsibility of the product supplier to provide these sheets.

MSDSs include important information such as:

  • Chemical content
  • Physical characteristics
  • Health hazards
  • Exposure treatment procedures
  • Fire and explosion hazards
  • Reactivity
  • Cleanup procedures
  • Required personal protective equipment

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

When the workplace hazards cannot be reduced by any other method, personal protective equipment is necessary. PPE in no way eliminates a hazardous situation; it simply creates a protective barrier between the employee and the hazard. Equipment can be in the form of:

  • Safety glasses or goggles
  • Gloves
  • Boots
  • Hearing protection
  • Hardhats
  • Respirators

Make sure employees that are required to wear PPE are properly fitted and trained.

Sometimes, in spite of these efforts, employees may become exposed to a hazard that requires immediate attention. The following are some guidelines to help maximize prompt reaction time during an accident. Note the following:

  • Have an adequately supplied first-aid kit available
  • Maintain an easily accessible emergency eyewash station
  • Keep a list of emergency numbers (e.g. local Fire & Police Dept. and Poison Control)
  • Have someone on staff that knows how to perform CPR

Ergonomics

Visual Display Terminals

It is important that the employee be educated on the proper positioning of all elements within the employee's work space. There are a variety of recommendations that can and should be followed in efforts to reduce the onset of injuries, including:

  • Adjust the workstation chair so feet are firmly resting on the floor or a footrest.
  • Limit twisting and unnatural body positions by placing everything that is needed regularly in close proximity.
  • Make sure that the visual display screen is positioned at a comfortable height, preferably at or just slightly below eye level.
  • Position the screen to a comfortable level to avoid glare or add glare reducing screens.
  • Set the contrast or brightness of the screen to suit personal viewing.
  • Adjust the armrests of the chair and the position of the keyboard so they are in a neutral alignment, so that the arm, wrist and hand also take on a neutral position when typing and using the mouse.
  • Perform simple exercises throughout the day to help reduce tension or stress that might be built up due to excessive computer work.

Lifting Procedures

Practise the following techniques when lifting:

  • Assume a stance that allows the feet to give a wide base of support.
  • Bend at the knees to a squatting position. Do not bend from the waist, which puts the back in a vulnerable position.
  • Keep the distance between you and the load at a minimum.
  • Avoid twisting, jerking motions, and lifting overhead.
  • Lift only what you are capable of handling.
  • Ask for assistance if it feels like or even appears to be more than a one-person job.
  • Take your time. Lift, reach, and carry carefully.

Overexertion

Our bodies know when they have been pushed too far even before we realize it ourselves. Some manual lifting guidelines are:

  • Know your weight lifting capacity.
  • Push up against the object to be lifted to get an idea of how heavy it is before lifting.
  • Ask for assistance when needed.

Temperature Extremes: Heat

Whether indoors or outside, temperature can be a major concern in the workplace. When exposed to excessive heat conditions, employees can experience heat-induced ailments such as heat stroke, heat exhaustion, and heat cramps.

Heat Stroke

The body's temperature begins to rise uncontrollably because its ability to sweat is either temporarily impaired or has broken down altogether. Warning signs include:

  • Skin is hot and dry, and typically red and mottled
  • Confusion and/or convulsions
  • Loss of consciousness

Preventative Measures

  • Medical screening
  • Gradual acclimatization to heat
  • Incorporate a work/rest routine
  • Cooled personal protection equipment
  • Continual monitoring of employees
  • Drink sufficient amounts of water and fluids that contain electrolytes, potassium, salt and sugar

Heat Exhaustion

Heat exhaustion occurs when the body's natural storage of water and/or salt is depleted. Possible symptoms include:

  • Skin is clammy and moist; flushed complexion
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Lightheadedness and/or headache
  • Increased pulse rate
  • Preventative Measures
  • Gradual acclimatization to working in the heat
  • Drink plenty of water
  • Drink sufficient amounts of fluid that contain electrolytes, potassium,salt, and sugar

Heat Cramps

This type of heat-induced stress is the result of depletion of the body's storage of salt and potassium. When the body is subjected to a hot environment, it reacts by profusely sweating thus ridding that natural storage. Muscle spasms in the arms, legs, and abdomen are the major symptoms associated with this stress. To remedy or lessen the chance of getting heat cramps, consume commercially produced drinks that contain salt, potassium, and electrolytes, and undergo training to become acclimated to the new working environment.

Temperature Extremes: Cold

Employees working in cold conditions or environments also face various exposures which may affect their health.

Frostbite

This cold stress disorder starts out as a burning sensation in the extremities of the body. The parts most likely to be affected are the fingers, and toes, nose, cheeks, and ears. Some of the signs to watch for are blistering, discoloration of the affected area, and a hindered response to touch. Should any of these signs or symptoms be noted, a health care provider should be notified at once because the condition may result in damage to or loss of tissue.

Frostnip

If an employee is suffering from this condition, he or she most likely has exposed skin that has turned white. There can be itching or pain associated with this disorder. Even though there is no tissue damage linked to this cold stress, if this condition is not taken care of immediately it can result in frostbite.

Trenchfoot

Continuous exposure to cold and damp conditions may promote the onset of this condition. When the feet are subjected to this kind of environment they begin to tingle, itch, swell, or be painful. As with frostbite, there can be blistering, tissue death, and a lessened sense of touch.

Hypothermia

When the body's core temperature drops to significantly low levels, it becomes a life-threatening condition. Someone suffering from this condition has symptoms such as chills, pain in the extremities, fatigue or listlessness. Some of the signs to watch for are slurred speech, a slow, weak pulse, confusion, unconsciousness, and a body temperature less than 35 degrees Celsius.

With regard to all of the situations and conditions that were discussed, it is important that a physician is consulted or medical attention is sought before initiating any kind of treatment or first aid. Taking matters into your own hands, without the advice or assistance of a properly trained and experienced health care provider, is not suggested.

In An Emergency

Sometimes employees are exposed to a hazard that requires immediate attention. The following are some guidelines to help maximize prompt reaction during a critical situation:

  • Have an adequately supplied first-aid kit readily available.
  • Maintain an easily accessible emergency eyewash station.
  • Keep a list of emergency phone numbers readily available.