Although employers are obligated to provide safe working conditions, workers can limit their exposure to injury by following workplace safety rules and using common sense. Ignoring workplace safety rules creates a dangerous workplace environment.
Ignoring Workplace Safety
Working around dangerous conditions creates a higher risk of workplace accidents and injuries. Unless safety rules and regulation are followed, workers face the prospect of serious injuries and even death.
Working While Drowsy
Working around hazardous conditions such as extreme heights, heavy equipment, flammable liquids, and toxic chemicals can lead to serious injuries. Construction workers, machinery operators, roadside work crews, transportation workers, and medical workers should never perform daily work tasks while drowsy or overly fatigued.
Choosing Speed Over Safety
Certain workers that are required to work at heights, around electrical equipment or gas lines, in underground tunnels and trenches, and operating industrial machinery must exercise extreme caution at all times with safety harnesses and protective gear. In these conditions, choosing speed over safety can result in dangerous accidents and fatal injuries.
Using Water Around Electricity
Unless getting electrocuted isn’t a big concern, water should never be used around electrical cables and wires. Downed power lines, loose electrical cables, and wires, and frayed or damaged electrical cords and plugs should never come in contact with water. Ignoring this safety rule can quickly result in electrocution and death.
Improvising Safety Equipment
In jobs where safety equipment is required for protection, cutting corners is a bad idea. Climbing on stacked crates instead of a safety ladder, buckling up to a rope instead of a safety harness, wearing a baseball cap instead of a safety helmet, and ignoring those brightly colored safety signs and flags can result in serious injuries and fatalities at work.
Ignoring Faulty Equipment
Working with faulty equipment can quickly lead to workplace disasters. Heavy machinery like cranes, forklifts, and tractors, industrial equipment like grinders and welding tools, and construction equipment like ladders, scaffolding, and power tools must be regularly inspected and maintained for maximum workplace safety. Workers should never overlook faulty equipment in the workplace.
Mishandling Volatile Materials
Employees who regularly work around volatile materials must be properly trained in safe handling, usage, and disposal of those materials. Learning about appropriate PPE, HAZMAT codes, and protective clothing is essential for worker safety. Mishandling volatile materials can result in serious injuries such as chemical burns, respiratory failure, organ damage, fires, explosions, and death.
Enforcing Workplace Safety
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is responsible for regulating and overseeing workplace safety programs. OSHA works with employers and businesses across the country to implement workplace safety programs that protect workers from occupational illnesses and diseases, injuries, and fatalities.
According to statistics from the U.S. Bureau of Labor, workers in certain occupations are at higher risks for workplace injuries and deaths. Construction workers, highway and roadway workers, utility workers, transportation workers, industrial warehouse workers, medical workers, and emergency response workers are in high-risk occupations. In 2015, most workplace fatalities resulted from the following:
- Fires and explosions
- Exposure to hazardous materials
- Slip and fall accidents
- Falling objects
- Faulty equipment
- Transportation collisions
Despite strict OSHA safety standards that are enforced in most workplaces, on-the-job fatalities are increasing. In 2016, there were 5,190 reported workplace fatalities, a seven percent increase over the 4,836 deaths reported in 2015. In 2015, highway and roadway workers accounted for 25 percent of fatal workplace injuries, while construction workers accounted for 22 percent. In both cases, the leading causes of death were being hit by moving vehicles, struck by falling objects, and crushed by heavy equipment.
Identifying Hazardous Conditions
Employers play a major role in workplace safety by making sure all workers are properly informed on safety procedures and regulations. It is an employers job to implement a workplace safety program with clear, written policies and procedures and ensure that all employees have a copy. Failure to properly identify hazardous conditions in the workplace is the main cause of worker injuries and fatalities. OSHA requires all employers to identify workplace hazards, post workplace safety regulations, and perform regular workplace inspections. Hazards that can cause falls, burns, electrocutions, limb amputations, fires, and explosions must be corrected immediately. Workplace environments that expose workers to heavy machinery or equipment, flammable liquids, and toxic chemicals must protect workers with proper training, protective clothing, and appropriate safety gear.
OSHA encourages workers to participate in workplace safety and report any workplace dangers to employers. For maximum safety, workers should never ignore workplace safety rules and regulations or take short cuts that put them in danger. OSHA requires workplace safety regulations to protect workers from harm. When it comes to workplace safety, not following the rules can mean the difference between life and death, especially in high-risk occupations.