16 Ways to Keep the Workplace safer for YOU and YOUR colleagues

The are many obligations placed on an employer to provide a SAFE and HEALTHY workplace for its workers.

Did you know though, there are also responsibilities placed on the WORKER?

It is a shared responsibility.

The two can work together to understand the risks and make it a safer and better place to work. Consulting is key for Workplace Health and Safety to work well.

There are some very simple ways to keep the Workplace Safer for both YOU and YOUR colleagues.

Let’s break it down:

1. Watch out for Slips, Trips and Falls!

- Clean up spills

- Pick up trailing cords, hoses or product off the floor surface.

- Does your workplace need a good declutter and clean up?

Check with the team to see if a declutter/housekeeping day can be co-ordinated.

- Have you got the right equipment? – take a look around.

* Do you have Safety Steps available?

* Do you have non-slip mats where needed?

There is a saying – “De-clutter your life, de-clutter your mind”

there is evidence to show decluttering helps to reduce levels of stress – that’s good for a workplace.

2. Avoid Repetitive tasks

What happens at your workplace?

Is it a case of day in/day out, long days of the same repetitive tasks?

Change it up.

Chat with your manager/supervisor to see what’s do-able.

What are the options?

- Rotate to different activities/roles

- Are there tools or equipment that might help?

- Regularly taking a break

- Implement a stretching routine

- Cross training in other departments/areas of the business

- Talk as a team – who has got some ideas/what’s best for the team?

Something much needed in 2020!

3. Taking your breaks

Have you been known to work through your lunch hour? Do you work long hours without taking a break?

Breaks are important to combat:

· Musculo skeletal disorders

· Physical and Mental fatigue

· Repetitive strain injuries

· A negative impact to your health and wellbeing

Simple ways to take breaks:

· Apply a break-taker to your Desktop to provide gentle reminders to keep on the move

· Swap an email for a walk to someone’s office

· Implement a stretch routine

· Opt for a walk and talk meeting in the fresh air

· Seek a quiet room for some mindfulness moments

4. Fire Hazards – do you spot any?

Put those safety goggles on…..

What do you see?

- Cardboard stacked up against the building?

- Unnecessary papers piling on the desks?

- Fire Doors or access/egress points blocked?

- Extinguishers/Hose Reels/Hydrants out of the service date?

- Exit lighting is in need of servicing?

- Chemicals not segregated correctly?

Fire Safety Hazards become very evident when there is a genuine emergency. Keep an

eye out and always report Fire Hazards as soon as possible.

It could save your life and your mates at work.

5. Segregating people (and put-up signs)

Forklifts/Heavy Machinery/Vehicles and people wandering about - simply don’t mix.

What does it look like at your workplace?

· Protective barriers in place?

· Segregated walkways?

· A specific Load/Unload Exclusion Zone procedure in place? Is everyone trained in this?

· Gated barriers?

· Visual and audible systems to alert when pedestrians moving across a shared path?

These are just some idea’s – talk as a team – what can be put in place to segregate a

person from danger? It could be something very simple to keep everyone safe.

Ensure also that the right signs are put up in the right places.

Take a fresh look

if you were a new worker, would you know what to do guided by the signs?

6. Keep the Nasty Chemicals in check.

Are you exposed to chemicals at work? Do you have access to PPE? Do you have access to emergency equipment like eye wash stations, portable eyewash?

Would you know what to do if exposed and the First Aid treatment? How close is the Safety Data sheet to the chemicals? Are they stored correctly?

You should be aware of the risks associated with Hazardous Substances and Dangerous goods. Make sure you have been trained in the use, storage and handling of chemicals; plus, always ensure you are wearing the right PPE for the task.

Remember, PPE is the least effective control, so you want to have other controls in place to keep it as safe as possible.

7. First Aiders – do you know who they are?

Sounds so simple doesn’t it?

In a medical emergency, do you know:

· Where the First Aid kits are?

· Are the kits signed so everyone can see easily?

· Is there a list of who your first aiders are?

· Is there the right supplies in the kit needed for your workplace?

· Are your First Aiders trained? (and receive regular refresher training)

· Is there a dedicated first aid room? Do you know where it is?

Is your workplace First Aid Compliant? Take a look at the 6 important things you need to know about First Aid Compliance.

8. Were you Inducted?

Starting any job can be daunting. You just want to get it right from the get-go.

Did you get inducted? What does that mean exactly?

A person who has already been suitably inducted, needs to show you all things safety on your commencing day.

These things include:-

· Emergency information – evacuation procedures, location of fire equipment, assembly area and where the Emergency Management Plan is kept.

· First Aid – who is your First aider, where the First Aid equipment is kept.

· Working in Isolation – what is the process, is there a policy and procedures in place? How will you keep safe?

· Info about security/break times/access to amenities/car parking/lunchrooms etc.

· Waste Management/Recycling

· Infection Prevention and Control processes (in 2020, that applies to everyone!)

· What else do they need to know? – e.g., access to Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) etc.

Do you need further inductions?

· If you are operating any plant and equipment, you will require an induction to the plant/equipment, determining where there are things such as pinch points, crush points, guarding, Emergency Stops. This is not a comprehensive list, merely some examples. Your induction should identify if you require specific training – such as Lock Out/Tag Out Training for plant/equipment.

If you are ever unsure – make sure to ask for help!

9. Are you aware of Preventative Maintenance?

Have you ever been in a role as administration or facilities manager? What a tough job keeping it all together and managing the huge preventative maintenance schedule for fire extinguishers, pest control, lifts, air-conditioning systems, testing and tagging of electrical equipment.

How can you help?

· Hazard hunt – help out by reporting. For e.g.

- Reporting electrical equipment out of test and tag dates

- Problems with the air-con services

- Fire Safety Equipment that has missed its servicing.

Your facilities manager/admin. Manager will be super grateful for your help.

10.Mechanical Aids – what can help?

Do you have the right equipment to do the job?

Stop, take the time to plan before you start.

It might be something like:

· Height Adjustable trolleys

· Lifting equipment

· Hoists

· Lift tables

· Specific plant such as forklifts.

Material handling equipment has come a long way in terms of being able to support workers in their daily tasks making it easier and safer.

Select the right equipment for the task. If you don’t have the right equipment, discuss with your team leader/supervisor/manager.

11.Training in equipment and plant

Were you trained? If you haven’t been trained on how to use plant and equipment, don’t use it. If it is High Risk Plant, you will require the appropriate high-risk licensing and appropriate refresher training. Additional training may be required for your role such as low voltage rescue training.

12. PPE – do you have the right PPE to do the job?

As part of your training, you should be shown what Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) you need to do the job.

There are other minimum requirements such as:

· PPE must be maintained

· Repaired or replaced to minimise risks to workers who use it

· Workers must be provided with information about the PPE and also provided with training and instruction in its use

· PPE must be stored correctly to maintain its effectiveness.

13. Ergonomics

Many of us have had to work from home during the COVID pandemic. Whilst it might be a novel idea to grab a laptop and lay in bed all day – your body might not appreciate it! Why’s that?

Working in a comfortable, well equipped environment is simply better for your health. Ergonomics is more than just desk set-up. It is applying ergonomic principles to hazardous manual tasks and taking a different approach to minimise the risks.

Take a look at the PERforM program offered by Worksafe Qld. A simple program where workers get involved in making their jobs safer.

14. Burning the candles at both ends

This year has been a particularly tough year with COVID-19 and has potentially added extra layers of burnout, stress and fatigue to the work life.

This may mean that workers may be:

· Working longer hours, burning the candle at both ends

· Shift workers meeting the high demands of shift work

· Experiencing sleep difficulties and heightened anxiety.

Fatigued workers are at risk of being hurt at work. It is important to spot the signs of fatigue for yourself and for your co-workers. Take a look at Safe Work Australia to learn about the signs of fatigue and the things you can do to manage.

15. Keep yourself hydrated

Australia has incredibly beautiful weather, but we all know that Australian summers can be very hot. Rising temperatures can put workers at risk of dehydration if working in an outdoor or indoor environments such as manufacturing or construction.

Would you know how to spot the signs in your co-worker?

Symptoms include:

· Having a dry mouth

· Feeling dizzy or lightheaded

· Feeling thirsty

· The other very tell-tale sign is dark or insufficient urine (a great idea to put up posters on the backs of cubicles or in the toilets)

It may also affect people and cause:

· Brain fog

· Being slower to react,

· Clumsiness or inability to concentrate

This all equates to greater danger of an accident or injury at work. There are measures you can do such as:

· Encouraging workers to stay hydrated – drinking lots of water everyday

· Drinking water, juices more frequently.

· Monitor temperatures, encourage more frequent breaks

· Apply cooling towels/neck scarves (dependent on the work environment)

· Avoid caffeine or drinks that dehydrate.

16. Look out for your mates

What would you do if you spotted someone who did something at work that could harm them or others? Would you feel brave enough to have a chat? Would you be able to show them that you care?

It is up to you to look after yourself and look out for your mates. If you see ways you can improve the workplace, be sure to work out ways that you can raise your concerns.

This may through:

· WHS forums/WHS Committees

· Team Meetings

· Surveys

· Directly with your manager/supervisor/team leader

· Through your hazard/incident/near miss reporting system

· Completion of hazard inspections/checklists/audits.

· Incident reviews/investigations

· Near Miss reports

· Completing Risk Assessments

The goal is to keep talking and listening. Consulting at every level is the key to keeping the workplace safe.

Disclaimer: The information contained within this blog is not a comprehensive list and provides general information intended to get safety conversations happening for workers. Please refer to sites linked within this blog for reliable sources of safety information.