Every employer is required to maintain a safe working environment for their employees. Of course, some companies and some managers are better at this than others. Some companies care more than others. At the end of the day, we cannot rely 100% on our employer to ensure our safety at all times. We must take some of that responsibility upon ourselves. Especially if you are a young or inexperienced worker, you need to be even more aware.
Depending on what industry you work in, workplace hazards may be more common and possibly more dangerous. It is your job to know your workplace or worksite very well and be aware of the potential safety issues that could occur. One of the things that help you do this is to get safety training. Ask your employer if they provide this. Even if they don’t, they should be willing to allow you time off from work and pay you for that time to attend this training. After all, it benefits them in the long run. Research your training options and present them to your management if safety training is not something that they have typically provided or suggested in the past.
Now, most employers post safety rules and guidelines. If your employer has not done this, you should definitely ask them to do so. So, your boss should post the safety rules but you should follow them. Sometimes we see workers compensation cases where a worker has been injured and he or she did not follow a known safety rule… and this contributed to them having their accident.
And it’s not enough just to glance at the rules—just reading them one time. You need to memorize them. If necessary, read them occasionally to refresh your memory. And don’t hesitate to encourage your coworkers to do so as well. Management will appreciate that you are a caring and concerned employee who is doing your best to follow the rules at all times.
The same eyes that you use to read posted rules and warning signage that are placed around your worksite should also be used to look for hazards. Always be aware of your surroundings. Especially when you are tired. Look around and make sure there are no dangerous conditions like something spilled on the floor. Keep an eye out for tripping hazards, loose items on the floor or anything that is over stacked, overstuffed and could topple onto someone.
Equipment that workers use should always be well-maintained to avoid problems as well. If you feel that equipment is not being maintained in a safe manner, you should point it out to a supervisor. If they disregard the problem then you should consider anonymously alerting a higher supervisor. Keeping your eyes open for any workplace hazards and flagging a problem if you see one could save you or one of your coworkers from having a painful injury in the future.
Finally, know your rights. We will discuss these rights in our next article.