Small Business Brief

Safety & Loss Prevention

8 Unsafe Work Practices That You Might Be Doing

From a bustling factory to a laid-back office, workplace safety should always be paramount. 

Even if you’ve been in business for a long time, there may be some things you’re doing that could qualify as an unsafe work practice.

But how do you know what these unsafe work practices are, and what do you need to look for? Read on for eight things you should be on the lookout for so you can make changes if necessary.

1. Emergency Exits Are Not Accessible

In the event of a fire or other serious emergency, the exits from your building need to be easy for employees to use. Whether you’ve placed an old filing cabinet in front of the door or there’s no easy pathway, it’s paramount that the exits are easy to reach.

Walk through your building and check every exit, ensuring that they are free and clear of furniture and other potential blockages.

You’ll also need to make sure that there are large, legible, or lighted exit signs over every door so that employees can easily spot them in case an emergency arises.

2. Employees Are Not Using Fall Protection

For those who work on ladders or scaffolding, fall protection is absolutely essential. Anyone who uses a ladder should have a spotter standing below in the event of a shift or fall.

Everyone working at height needs to be aware of current OSHA safety regulations and workers should be properly tied off. Make sure every worker is wearing the correct size gear and a hardhat.

Conducting regular ladder safety training is a great way to ensure that everyone is on the same page. Doing this can mean the difference between a safe workplace and a hazardous one.

3. Watch Those Extension Cords

Sometimes, a bustling business needs a little extra power. And while extension cords can be really helpful, they can also be hurtful.

Ensure that any cords are properly tied together and out of the way of passersby. These cords can be a serious trip hazard if they’re just laying across a hallway, so make sure all extension cords are neatly tucked away as much as possible.

It’s also a good idea to ensure that outlets aren’t overloaded. Too many cords can cause a short or even a fire hazard.

4. Bad Housekeeping Equals Unsafe Work Practices

Stacks of paper on a rolling cart or a dirty breakroom can both mean potential danger. An unkempt office is actually a safety hazard because it can cause employees to either get sick or hurt themselves.

Make sure areas like the breakroom and bathrooms are clean and hire a professional cleaning service if it’s too much to manage. Encourage employees to wash their hands regularly to prevent the spread of germs.

When it comes to clutter, ensure that every room of the building is as neat and tidy as possible. Too much stuff can result in trips and falls, or the stuff itself could fall on top of someone, resulting in an injury.

5. Regular Breaks Are Lacking

Sitting at a desk for long hours or working out in the field are both tasks that can take their toll on your physical and mental health. Encourage employees to take regular breaks whether it’s getting up for a cup of coffee or taking a stroll around the parking lot.

If you don’t have a set break time put in place, create one. Have every worker commit to taking these breaks so they will feel better and in the long run and be more productive.

Encourage everyone to stand up every thirty minutes to an hour to ensure good circulation. Moving around every so often is not only good for the body, it’s good for morale, too.

6. Improper Chemical Care

If your business involves the use of chemicals, it’s absolutely imperative that you follow stringent safety protocols. First, make sure that all chemicals are stored in a metal cabinet with a lock, and designate a trusted employee or two with the key.

Label every chemical, and include the date when it was purchased as well as the expiration date. Dispose of all old, expired chemicals in a safe manner that follows OSHA standards.

Every single employee who works with chemicals needs to be properly trained and understand the importance of both mixing chemicals and proper disposal procedures.

7. Proper Ergonomics Equals Happy Workers

Between poor posture, constant scrolling, and relentless typing, working at a desk can wreak havoc on the human body. While you can’t control how your employees sit, you can help by providing them with an ergonomically friendly workspace.

Look for chairs and desks that allow people to sit in a way that causes less strain on the shoulders, neck, and hands. Keyboard trays under the desk can help people who type sit in a much better position.

You can hire a professional company to come in and perform an analysis of your office to give you advice on the best ergonomic changes to make for your office.

8. Improper or Lack of Training

Whether it’s operating a forklift or working in confined spaces, the right training is key to a safe workplace. Make sure everyone at your company has been trained in the various safety procedures that fit with your job.

Routine safety updates can help refresh everyone’s memory, and having one safety manager in charge will ensure that every person is following the correct safety rules.

Complete a thorough job hazard analysis that can help you assess current training needs and other potential job-related dangers.

A Safe Workplace Is a Happy Workplace

When people feel safe at work, they’re more productive and more positive overall. Avoiding unsafe work practices is an important piece of the productive puzzle.

From ladder and chemical training to making sure your office is clean, there are several things you can do to make sure that your business is operating in a safe manner.

For more information about employee training and other essential business basics, be sure to visit our website.