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Small Events, Large Consequences

HawkerPosted by Tonya Hawker

We all take risks throughout our day - at work, at home, in the car.  Everywhere we turn we face a risk for injury.  That’s life, right?  Well, yes... and no.  While there are risks in life, there are many things we can do to limit our exposure to injury.  The key to injury prevention is to “Think Before You Act.” 

Often American society pushes us to work faster and harder, be we also need to be encouraged to “Work Smarter.”  When we take time to think about our actions before we take them, we tend to make smarter decisions.  So here’s a tip: 

6a00e553697a6a883401b7c8bbdaf8970b-320wiTry implementing the “10 Second Rule.”  What is this you ask?  Well, start a new habit today by pausing for 10 seconds to think about the decision you’re facing, BEFORE YOU TAKE ACTION.

Often times, workplace injuries are preventable if proper safety precautions are made before we “TAKE ACTION.”   However, sometimes we take shortcuts because we’re pressed for time and we don’t realize that the ‘shortcut’ bypasses an important safety control designed to protect us from injury. 

It is important to recognize that even small risks can produce serious, long-term consequences.  This is true not only for the worker, but the consequences can affect the worker’s family and cost the employer in the form of huge losses for years to come.

Listed below are some common shortcuts that are taken and often result in large consequences:

Slip/Trip/Fall:

Small Event:  Walking on an ice covered sidewalk.

Large Consequence:  Slip/Fall resulting in injury and lost work time. 

Solution:  Promptly treat walkways to remove ice/snow. For problem areas involving black ice or re-freezing, clearly mark the affected area and redirect staff to alternative entrances/exits until ice hazard is eliminated.

Caught in Machinery:

Small Event: Removing fixed guard to speed up production process.

Large Consequence:  Bypassing guard causes machine to pull body part into machinery resulting in permanent loss of affected body part.  Loss of bodily function, impact on personal and family life.  Significant long-term impact on worker’s quality of life.

Solution:  Never remove guards.  If jam occurs, follow Lockout/Tagout procedures.

Muscle Strain:

Small Event:  Lifting furniture during hotel renovations.

Large Consequence:  Debilitating back injury that significantly impacts employee’s future quality of life.  Long-term medical expenses.

Solution:  Use mechanical devices, gliders, or straps to transfer the load from the worker to the device.

Far more injuries occur each year due to unsafe acts as opposed to unsafe conditions.  Taking a few seconds to consider what action to take before you do so could be the difference between a safe evolution and a serious injury.  For more information related to safety accountability and behavior based safety take a look at Mike Havel’s post, or Peter Koch’s post on affecting employee choices.  

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