Tag Archives: workplace safety

Important Safety Measures When Working At Height

Regardless of the frequency of you or your employees working from heights, it’s crucial that you put much importance and attention on safety measures. Why?

All it takes is just one simple mistake in the way routine works from heights are performed for a potentially fatal fall to happen. And whether it’s one fatality or several, a fatality is a very serious matter regardless of the number.

Prevention is always better than cure and it’s no different when it comes to workplace safety when working from heights. The following safety measures can help you minimize or even prevent falling from height accidents in the workplace.

Proper Training

No amount of safety measures, gear, and equipment will ever make up for ignorance or irresponsible behaviors and attitudes. Giving workers proper and regular training will enable them to optimize the safety measures and equipment you’ll provide to minimize fall-from- height accidents. It can also help put them in their place if they’re a bit arrogant or overconfident because, during training, they’ll have the chance to see for themselves – without having to suffer injuries – the potentially fatal or very serious injuries they may suffer from their current attitudes.

Rails

Using rails whenever possible is the easiest way to provide passive protection for your workers who are working from heights. And yes, those workers include those who are careless or arrogant. Because railings surround workers while on platforms, it will take a lot for them to fall off platforms. And by a lot, I mean huge acts of stupidity and arrogance such as intentionally climbing out of railings just for kicks or for bragging rights.

Proper Estimation Of Fall Distance

It can be tempting to dismiss any discussions or thought processes that deal with estimation of fall distances because come on, how difficult can that be? If a work platform is 10 feet high, it follows that the falling distance is 10 feet and therefore, fall protection equipment such as a lanyard must be 10 feet long too.

Wrong! More than just the actual height of the platform, estimating falling distance should take into consideration the worker’s height, the point at which the lanyard is connected to his body, and deployment distance or length if the lanyard has a deceleration device. Why? It’s because all of these will extend the lanyard’s effective length, which can make it effectively longer than the falling height. And if that’s the case, a worker will still hit the ground when he falls despite having safety equipment such as a lanyard attached to him. So when estimating falling distance, you must factor other stuff like what I mentioned above in order to protect workers from falling-related injuries.

Choose The Right Anchor Point

Anchor points for fall protection when working from heights are points from which tie-off equipment such as lifelines and lanyards are connected to in order to keep workers from falling to the ground in case they lose balance and fall of their working platforms. The primary considerations for choosing the right anchor point are stability and strength. In particular, you’ll need to determine the maximum amount of stress or weight an anchor point can bear or carry, which must be about 5,000 pounds per attached person. And most fixtures aren’t that strong to handle such stress or weight.

Choosing the wrong anchor points can render the use of tie-off devices useless because what point is a strong lanyard or lifeline when the anchor point will eventually break off during a fall and let the worker tied to it, plunge to the ground?

Conclusion

Whether or not the risks for falling from height accidents are high, you should never neglect or take for granted key safety measures because the potential impacts in terms of injuries can be very serious to the point that it may cause permanent disability or death to your workers. There’s no such thing as too few or too many debilitating or fatal injuries from falls. Any debilitating or fatal fall is one fall from height accident too many. The only acceptable number for such is zero. And safety measures help you minimize the incidents and impacts of such to your workers and your company.

Importance Of Having A Safety Plan For Your Company

“If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.” – Benjamin Franklin

Safety is everyone’s concern  from the company’s owners all the way down to the lowest ranking employee. Every person has the right to stay safe and healthy in their workplaces, and with such rights, come obligations for the company and its owners to put into place – systems that’ll minimize workplace-related accidents and their potential impacts on both the workers and the enterprise.

Why A Safety Plan?

To paraphrase Benjamin Franklin’s above-mentioned quote, if your company fails to plan for safety, then it’s practically planning for danger. Without a safety plan, several things can and will go wrong. With a safety plan, your company will become a much safer one. How?

First, the chances of minimizing injuries and preventing potentially fatal accidents are much higher when systems and facilities that ensure workers’ safety are in place. The best way to solve problems is by nipping them in the bud, i.e., just before they bloom into full-fledged issues or concerns. If I were to use a personal analogy, it’s easier to keep excess weight off than lose it later on.

The second way a safety plan makes your company a much safer plan is that, in the rare chances that accidents do happen, your company will be able to immediately contain its negative effects. Let’s take a look at the basic workplace practice of having a good number of fire extinguishers placed in key areas of the workplace or having a sprinkler system installed in case fires do break out as examples. Having such measures in place can quickly contain the fire so that injuries to workers and damages to property can be minimized.

When it comes to systems or practices, another basic but important workplace safety policy is to conduct regular fire or earthquake drills. Doing so ensures that your company’s workers won’t panic in case a fire breaks out or an earthquake happens, and can quickly and safely get out of the building. Without regular drills, your workers won’t be familiar with how to quickly and safely get out of the building during fires or after earthquakes and as such, panic may ensue and exacerbate the situation.

What Should It Cover?

More than just having a safety plan, your company must have one that works, i.e., covers the most important risks. And what are those risks?

One of them is working from heights. Falling from high working places is one of the most common reasons for workplace accidents – some of which are fatal. By having systems and facilities in place to minimize the risk of your workers falling to the ground and minimize the impacts of such when it happens, you can make your company -especially if it’s a construction one – a very safe place to work in.

Another major risk area to cover is working in confined spaces. As with working from heights, this also contributes a lot to the workplace or construction-related injuries and deaths. Because it can be very challenging to enter confined spaces to rescue someone who was accidentally injured, your company must have systems and equipment in place that will minimize confined space risks, and mitigate any damages and injuries that may arise when such risks materialize.

Planning For Safety

Make no mistake about it, having a safety plan for your company isn’t just one of the best investments it can ever make. It’s also a mandatory one. As the saying goes, prevention is always better than cure and if I may add, having a cure in hand always trumps not having one for when accidents happen. That’s why planning for your company’s safety is tantamount to making your company a safe place to work in.

How Bizsafe Will Benefit Your Company

“For safety is not a gadget but a state of mind.” – Eleanor Everet, safety expert.

Many accidents, both fatal and non-fatal, happen at the workplace. This is especially so for construction and manufacturing related businesses. When accidents happen, many people are affected. First and foremost are the workers who suffer from the accident, followed by their families. Companies suffer too in terms of production, reputation, and in many cases, legally as well when they get sued or are forced to pay claims for damages, etc.

In Singapore, the primary government body tasked to oversee workers’ safety and health at the workplace is the Workplace Safety and Health Council (WSHC). One of their most important tools for ensuring the safety and health at workplaces is bizSAFE, which is a combination of the words “business” and “safe”.

BizSAFE is a program that is broken down into 5 major steps, which helps Singaporean companies – particularly small and medium scale enterprises – to achieve optimal safety and health conditions in their workplaces.

Enterprise Benefits

Why should businesses enroll for the bizSAFE program? It’s because of the numerous benefits attached to it, foremost of which are those that accrue to the business or enterprise itself. The primary enterprise benefit of enrolling under the program is that the enterprise’s workplace becomes a very safe and healthy one. And when the enterprise achieves such a high level of workplace safety and health, their competitive edge over competitors who aren’t enrolled in the program will become even greater in different ways.

One is in the area of manpower. When industry specialists know that an enterprise takes care of their workers’ health and safety at the workplace so much more than the rest of the pack, they’ll be more inclined to work for that enterprise.

Another area of competitive edge for the enterprise are the customers. In this day and age where consumers are very particular about corporate social responsibility when it comes to choosing which businesses to patronize, having the distinction of having completed all of the program’s 5 steps can set an enterprise apart from the competition in the eyes of their market.

Lastly, government projects can be considered a goldmine for most small and medium scale businesses. When an enterprise is able to complete the program and become bizSAFE certified, it becomes eligible to bid for government-related projects, which can give it a very big financial boost!

Partner Benefits

When enterprises undergo the bizSAFE program and successfully complete it, it’s not just them who benefits. Their business partners do too! How?

Think of it this way. If a business’s workers regularly get into accidents or fall sick while in the workplace, what do you think will happen? That’s right, that company’s production will become inconsistent and may consequently suffer serious contractions in production levels. And when that happens, what do you think will happen to its customers, especially if they’re businesses that provide an end product to end consumers? Their production or ability to meet their own customers’ requirements may suffer too. Frequent workplace accidents and sicknesses can have ripple effects that may extend to an enterprise’s customers and even those customers’ end customers!

Not An Option

For businesses that want to continue enjoying great market share, the ability to get top-notch talent for their workforce, and stay very profitable, going through the bizSAFE program is neither something optional nor should be put off until the time is right. It should be considered mandatory and urgent!

Importance Of Risk Management And Assessment

“Risk comes from not knowing what you`re doing.” – Warren Buffett

We always hear the word ‘risk’, but when we stop to think about it, what does risk truly mean? In a nutshell, risk is any chance or possibility of something undesirable happening. And when we talk about undesirable events — especially in construction workplaces, we’re talking about accidents that can result in very serious injuries or worse, death, for workers.

There’s good news and bad news when it comes to risk. I’ll break the bad news to you first: you can’t eliminate it. If you or your company want to achieve something meaningful, you will need to take risks. As one of the most basic principles of financial management goes, the higher the profit you want to earn, the higher the risks you’ll need to take.

The good news – yes, there is good news – is that risk can be managed well so when it comes to pass, you’ll be able to minimize its effects. The practice or process of minimizing risks and it’s potential effects to your company and workers is referred to as risk management.

Why Risk Management?

There’s a saying that ignorance is bliss; I disagree. It can be dangerous or even downright fatal. The Bible says in Hosea 4:6 that “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.” Regardless whether you’re a Christian or not, you probably would agree that said passage carries a lot of truth. If you don’t know that something bad may happen to your company and your workers, how can you prepare well for it — i.e. minimize the possibility of it happening or if it’s an unavoidable certainty, prepare to minimize its impact?

A very good example of risk minimization in the construction workplace is requiring construction workers to wear steel-toed boots. It practically eliminates the risk of them accidentally cutting off their toes with very sharp tools or by having something really heavy or sharp fall on their toes. In a sense, it’s also a very good example of minimizing the impact of risks should they materialize because the steel-covered toe areas of their boots would be strong enough to keep very sharp tools or equipment from cutting through the boots and consequently, their toes.

Assessment: A Crucial Component

While there are probably million-and-one risks present in the construction workplace, it’s neither practical nor possible to address all of them. It may not be so even for just most of them. It won’t just be too expensive but it will also take a lot of time and effort to do so, which may render it impossible to get anything construction-related done at all. That’s why it’s important to choose your risk management battles through a process called risk assessment, which is one that tries to estimate both the probability and impact of risks that companies and their workers face. Through risk assessment, you’ll be able to determine which risks do need to be managed and which ones to just let be. By identifying key risks and their potential impacts on the company and workers, you can maximize the company’s resources and manpower in terms of productivity and worker safety and health.

Conclusion

Especially in construction workplaces, many things can go wrong and depending on what those things are, the impact on both the company and its workers can be substantial. Failure to plan is planning for failure, and a very important aspect of effectively planning for these things is learning and implementing risk management activities in your company’s construction workplace.

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