If you’ve spent any time surfing the Internet in the last, say, 10 years, you’ve probably seen collections of photos showing risky behavior on a job site. You probably scroll through the photos and think, “How could anyone be so dumb and careless?” However, a quick look at nationwide OSHA statistics will show you that it is not uncommon for people to make serious safety blunders at work.
We all know ladders should not be set up on a slippery or unstable surface, right? Seems not. OSHA reports that falls and other accidents that result from improper ladder use are some of the most prominent workplace blunders. Remember to grab a coworker to help stabilize when a ladder is needed.
Picture this: A pair of workers trying to access a roof. One is on the ground, one is on a ladder. And that metal ladder is resting carefully on the powerlines running to the house. What could possibly go wrong?
Working with electricity is fraught with danger. Improper wiring, poorly affixed equipment, and the presence of water can elevate the peril to new heights. You should always check the integrity of any electrical wires you will be working near, and problems should be corrected by a licensed electrician.
Picture this: A home where the pipe for gutter drainage ends eight feet above the ground. And right in front of a complex – and likely improper – electrical panel.
Scaffolding That’s… Folding
Scaffolds have to hold a lot of weight that can be high up in the air. Like ladders, they require a firm surface, a strong support structure, and freedom from dangers such as slick surfaces. You should also be on the lookout for overhead obstructions, such as light fixtures, that can knock you off the scaffold.
Picture this: A man painting in a stairwell. He’s on scaffolding that is supported by not one, not two, but three ladders at precarious angles, with each holding a flimsy piece of plywood for a platform. It looks a like a Rube Goldberg device.
Protecting All Your Senses
On the job, many of the tasks can be damaging to your eyesight, respiratory system, or hearing. OSHA requirements dictate that you use protective gear when welding, using metal grinders, working near vapors, and hundreds of other dangerous situations. There is no reason to ever skimp on protective gear, especially in the face of long-term exposure to hazardous conditions.
Picture this: Guy in the back yard using a metal grinder. Sparks are flying. Don’t worry, though, because he’s got eye protection: He’s covered his head in a plastic bag. At least his eyes will be safe while he’s suffocating.
Locked Out of Common Sense
Lock out-tag out procedures are in place to prevent a machine from starting up unexpectedly while a human is performing maintenance or is otherwise in close proximity. No jerry-rigged mechanisms or alternate devices should be used in place of proper safety equipment, and all employees should be educated on lock out-tag out procedures.
Picture this: A truck’s ball hitch is meant to keep a trailer attached to the vehicle. The item being towed is not, we repeat, not meant to be let loose into traffic. However, some people seem to think that creative items can be used to secure the hitch. A screwdriver, perhaps? Or a pair of scissors? We hope they have a lock out-tag out plan for when they find themselves trailerless with a traffic accident in their wake. For more info on workplace safety visit TSA.