How to Stay Safe at Work

Whether you’re working at a computer all day or driving a forklift, it’s essential to look after health and safety at work. Taking care of potential hazards before they occur is much better than having to worry about the results of an accident after the fact. Here are some tips to enhance your safety at work.

First, it’s important to know what the workplace risks are. If you are driving a vehicle or handling hazardous materials, there will be protocols available for carrying out these activities safely. Check out your company’s health and safety manual and pay attention to all warning signs and guidelines posted in areas of potential risk. As part of this, make sure that you have any protection you need to undertake your daily tasks. This could range from simple gloves, ear muffs or protective goggles to full suits to ensure that your whole body is insulated against risk. While it may seem onerous to have to suit up, it’s better than the alternative, and is designed to keep you safe.

If your job involves lifting heavy boxes or moving machinery, use mechanical assistance to save your back. Trolleys, fork lifts, cranes, conveyor belts and the like help you to move large items easily while reducing any risks. If you do have to lift items yourself, do it safely by bending your knees, keeping your back straight and avoiding unnatural twists and turns.

Of course, it’s not only heavy lifting that can injure your back; you can also be at risk even if you are sitting at a desk. Office workers need to take care of ergonomics. That means ensuring that your chair is at an adequate height so that you can look straight at your screen and keep your legs at right angles. It also means supporting feet and risks where needed and purchasing the right kinds of chairs and keyboards so that you avoid long term damage to your back or wrists.

Whether you’re doing a manual or desk bound job, one issue that’s important is taking the breaks to which you are entitled. Scheduled breaks are included in the health and safety manuals to ensure that you don’t become fatigued and have accidents when handling heavy machinery. For office workers, breaks mean that you can avoid undue strain on your wrists and back by sitting hunched over a computer for too long. Even if you have a job to complete, it’s a good idea to take those breaks when they are due.

Did you know that alcohol and drugs are implicated in a significant percentage of workplace accidents? If you’re using those substances then your judgement is impaired – that’s how accidents happen. Even if you’re not a regular drinker, it goes without saying that operating machinery the morning after the heavy night before is a very bad idea.

Finally, do what you can to minimise stresses in the workplace. Not only is stress a major cause of heart disease and stroke but if you’re stressed at work you may not make the best decisions, resulting in accidents. Keep conflicts at work to a minimum and use company processes to get issues resolved before they affect your health.

Chris Jenkinson writes for materials handling specialists, UK Forks.

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