Watch Out For Dangers – National Safety Month 2016

June is National Safety Month, and Stonehouse Signs, as a founding member of the National Safety Council (NSC,) encourages all employers and employees to participate by discussing the weekly safety topics the NSC has chosen to highlight. This week’s topic is Watch Out For Dangers. Businesses and other organizations are welcome to use this article as a conversation tool to spur an important safety discussion with their employees.

Look for weekly articles from Stonehouse Signs highlighting the National Safety Month weekly topics, or follow us on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Google + for National Safety Month tips all month long.

Stonehouse Signs Be Careful Watch Your Step SignThis week of National Safety Month, the National Safety Council (NSC) encourages businesses to promote the motto “Being Safe Means Being Alert – All The Time.” Distractions in the workplace can come in many different forms, from trying to do a job too quickly to zoning out during routine work to being under the influence of substances like alcohol or prescription painkillers. But no matter what shape the distraction takes, the bottom line is that not paying full attention is a safety risk for workers. In fact, a Michigan State University study showed that when participants were given a sequence of tasks to complete, a distraction as short as three seconds doubled a person’s rate of error, and a four-and-a-half second distraction tripled the error rate.

Workplace Distractions

In a perfect world, distractions at work wouldn’t exist. However, it is human nature to be distracted by certain things from time to time, especially during routine tasks. Keeping this in mind, employers can create safety policies and procedures to reduce common distractions and educate workers on common distraction hazards. Eight common distraction topics workplaces can focus on include:

  1. Be Safety Minded
    Keeping safety top of mind for every worker is the key to preventing injuries and fatalities, including those caused by distraction. Good activities to keep safety top-of-mind include weekly safety talks, frequent supervisor safety walks or check-ins with workers, immediate correction and coaching if unsafe practices are observed, visual aids such as signs and posters, and more.

     
  2. Cell Phones
    Cell phones are a big cause of workplace distraction. Enacting and enforcing a reasonable cell phone policy and educating workers on the risks of violating the policy will reduce the risk of distraction from worker’s phones.

     
  3. Reduce Noise
    If noise, such as machine noise or a radio, is preventing a worker from hearing what’s going on around them, it is considered a distraction danger. Care should be taken to reduce the noise distraction when possible.

     
  4. Keep the Work Area Clean & Free of Obstacles
    Slips and Falls account for the majority of workplace accidents and 15% of all workplace deaths. Removing potential tripping or slipping hazards will help all employees stay safer at work, and could potentially save a distracted employee from hurting themselves.

     
  5. Encourage Breaks
    Short breaks can increase a worker’s focus and mental clarity, leading to fewer distractions throughout the work day. Good break practices include encouraging workers to take breaks when needed, and building in set breaks throughout the day.

     
  6. Educate Workers on Critical Activities
    Think of a surgeon when in surgery or an airline pilot during takeoff – there are some critical tasks during which workers should not ever be distracted. Management and other workers need to know what these activities are and respect the focus workers need to complete these tasks safely.  

     
  7. Don’t Overwork
    Productivity pressure, assigning more work than can reasonably be completed, long hours – all of these can contribute to employees rushing through tasks or working more than is reasonably safe, leading to distraction dangers.

     
  8. Keep Management Accountable & Involved
    All workers, from top to bottom, need to respect and follow the safety policies and education provided. Management specifically should lead by example and strive to continually monitor and educate employees about distraction risks.

Distracted Driving

Distracted Driving is another area safety-focused businesses should be concerned about. The risks of Distracted Driving are well documented, however in-vehicle distractions only seem to be getting more numerous. Talking on a cell phone was once considered the biggest driving distraction. Now we know that hands-free calling, texting, checking email, using in-dash systems and navigation systems, using cell phones at red lights, and other technology use all contribute to a distracted driver. In fact, the NSC estimates that 25 percent of all car crashes – or about 1.4 million crashes a year – involve driver cell phone use. And employers may be held legally accountable for their employee’s distracted driving consequences, like driving accident injuries, if it is found that the employee was acting within the scope of their employment at the time of the crash. As more activities are found to cause distracted driving, employers need to make sure they are updating their workplace distracted driving policy and educating their workers on these new risks to ensure safe driving while on the job.

We hope this information will help reduce your workplace’s distractions and prevent distracted driving. Join Stonehouse Signs next week as we look more in depth at the dangers Distracted Driving poses, during National Safety Month’s Week Four Topic, “Share the Roads Safely.”  

Since its founding in 1863, Stonehouse Signs has produced high-quality visual communications solutions for various industries and the government. The company specializes in custom products for safety, information and accident prevention, and manufactures a full line of safety signs and facility signssafety tags, vinyl safety decals, and custom magnetic whiteboards designed for extended outdoor life, harsh environments and demanding applications. For more information call 1-800-533-9914 or visit www.stonehousesigns.com.

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