Posts Categorized: Workplace Safety

A Guide to Workplace Safety: Fast Facts, Tips, and More

Workplace safety doesn’t get floated around as much, as is the case with other employment benefits like salary bonuses or retirement plans. So, when a company prioritizes safety and security for its employees, people can’t help but give it their seal of approval.

Caring for your workers’ safety at the outset rather than as an afterthought speaks volumes about your commitment to protecting the well-being of your staff, not only for the benefit of your organization but also for the families they support.

This is especially true in workplace environments where occupational hazards are high. Employees who work in manufacturing facilities, warehouses, and other industrial environments face more risks than workers in traditional office spaces. Your duty as an employer is to ensure the health and safety of all your workers.

Installing CCTV cameras and biometric systems can be a good place to start in securing workplace safety. But at the end of the day, the guidelines you’ve placed will be the key deterrent against unsafe working elements, processes, or conditions that may escalate into accidents or injuries. The guide below will teach you how to establish a safe workspace based on facts, best practices, and other insightful recommendations.

A Guide to Workplace Safety

Did you know that work-related illnesses and injuries cost global economies approximately $170 billion per year?

That figure, which comes from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, is comparable to cancer-related expenses. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg, as companies are far more responsible than supporting their employees financially. As an employer, you’re also accountable for the health and life of your workforce.

Safety first—this should be the goal of every organization, regardless of the business size or industry. The principle of workplace safety views diseases and accidents as avoidable or controllable events. As such, you must set the highest standards possible for the conditions and processes within work environments.

1. Reduced risk for accidents and injuries

The right work environment can help your organization secure the overall well-being of the staff and other individuals. A properly set up health and safety management system can guide employees on how to approach their work in a way that can significantly minimize illnesses, injuries, and other hazards to their health.

2. Improved employee retention

You’re probably aware that high employee turnover rates can negatively impact your organization financially and otherwise.  Employees need to feel that they’re being valued by the company, or they might quit their job. When it comes to workplace safety, employees expect the management to provide a caring, healthy, and safe environment.  

3. Lowered medical costs

Preventing workplace injury is way less expensive than spending on medical insurance claims for your employees or compensating injured workers for their lost income. The OSHA says you can save 20% to 40% of your company budget with a carefully designed safety and health management system.

4. Maximum productivity

When employees feel secure about the conditions or atmosphere in which they work, they’re more likely to contribute to your bottom line by rendering complete hours of work, performing better, and being more engaged.

5. Fewer costs on equipment replacement or repair

Installing quality equipment in the right places is an important element in a safe, healthy, and secure workspace. Neglecting this aspect may only result in equipment damage, which will require you to dip into your budget to pay for new purchases or additional maintenance services.

6. Higher trust ratings

Your efforts to promote a safe workplace won’t go unnoticed in the community or business industry. Investors and customers feel confident about doing business with you because of the safety standards you’ve put into place across your work processes.

Tips to Ensuring a Safe Working Environment

From electrical hazards and faulty equipment to workplace injuries and office stress, here are safety tips to implement with your team.

  •  Keep workspaces free from clutter. There’s a place for everything, and everything should be in its place. This methodology involves designating a specific area for documents, supplies, tools, and even trash to maintain order in the work area.

A clutter-free workspace can help reduce injury and improve productivity since the system enables workers to get rid of unnecessary back-and-forths to perform their tasks.

  • Make mental health a priority. The workplace can be a source of stress. If left unmanaged, it can progress into more serious problems such as burnout, anxiety, or depression. Supervisors and managers should be sensitive and proactive in guiding and supporting employees who may be facing challenges at work, so they don’t fall deeper into an unhealthy state of mind.
  • Disseminate safety procedures. Everyone has to be aware of the company’s safety and health policies and processes. Communicating these to all employees helps eliminate unsafe behavior across departments and levels in the organization.
  • Allow regular breaks. Experts recommend wellness breaks for employees. Whether it’s going out for a short walk at lunchtime or taking a power nap, regular breaks can be energizing for workers. When they return to work, they’re no longer as tired, so judgment errors are less likely to occur.
  • Educate workers about body posture. Having the right posture applies to both office workers and manual laborers. Employees can avoid neck pain, carpal tunnel, or back pains by keeping an ideal posture while working on their desks. Meanwhile, machine operators and those who constantly lift heavy things at work should have the proper tools or assistance from a co-worker to prevent overexerting their bodies.
  • Set up emergency exits strategically. Emergency exits are a must in all office and business structures. Just see to it that they’re accessible to everyone, nothing is obstructing the exits, and the pathways to emergency power areas are clear in case power needs to be turned on or off.
  • Wear personal protective equipment. Depending on the nature of your business, you must provide your employees with PPE to keep them safe from injury while they’re engaged at work. PPE can vary from goggles to earplugs and hard hats, among others.
  • Invest in the right equipment. Employees need quality work equipment to make their tasks easier and safer to do. For instance, construction companies and architectural firms would do well to source industrial ladders with fall protection systems

Even if you have employees working from high areas, they can have easy access to those areas while having maximum protection against falls and other injuries.

Here, cutting corners is not acceptable, as using low-standard equipment and accessories is bound to give rise to potentially fatal injuries. Worker safety equipment like industrial ladders from O’Keeffe’s are OSHA and ANSI certified, meaning they meet industry standards to reduce the risk of accidents in any work environment or condition. That way, you can optimize your productivity and prevent work-related incidents.

Safety is a Workplace Priority

Workplace injuries, illnesses, and hazards can be costly for any business. Besides the financial costs, there are legal and moral issues that might arise if employee safety and health are not guaranteed.

On the contrary, a safe and healthy work environment affords employers a loyal workforce, efficient operations, and overall business health. As you work towards improving workplace safety, your safety measures should include the right equipment that will enable you to achieve these goals. If you need to install high-quality ladders within your facility, head on over to O’Keeffe’s for tailor-fit solutions.

10 Work-Related Injuries Common in Manufacturing Facilities

Workplace accidents happen more often than you’d think. According to the International Labor Organization, over 340 million work-related injuries happen every year, and most victims belong to the younger and older demographics of the workforce.

While these facts are far from shocking, they are nonetheless a real cause for concern. This is especially true for those who are working in hard-industries such as manufacturing.

A report from 2019 shows that medically consulted injuries in the manufacturing industry have reached a staggering amount of 555,000. That makes sense given how workers in this sector lift heavy loads, operate machinery, and handle sensitive materials regularly. These job requirements expose them to a horde of dangers that can result in long-term ailments, disabilities, or even death. 

That’s why it’s important that you prioritize workplace safety as a business owner or manager. To achieve that objective, the first step is knowing the most common accidents that transpire in the workplace. 

1. Musculoskeletal disorders (MSD)

Musculoskeletal disorders are illnesses that are caused by overexertion. Since employees in manufacturing facilities regularly conduct physically demanding tasks, their nerves, muscles, and joints may get damaged over time. During operations, remind your workers to stretch, maintain proper posture, or use the right techniques when performing tasks. 

2. Falling objects

Factories usually have multi-tiered storage systems. Sometimes objects fall on their own, with only gravity to blame. Other times a coworker retrieving something from a higher level might accidentally drop something that hits another worker on a lower floor. Wearing hard hats and placing warning signs should keep this issue at bay.

3. Exposure to harmful substances

Your workers’ level of susceptibility to harmful substances depends on the products they handle. For instance, if you’re a garment manufacturer, there’s little risk. Meanwhile, if you produce paints, there are toxic fumes to worry about.

Exposure in small doses may be okay, but long-term exposure may potentially cause illnesses such as cancer. Investing in safety tools such as industrial masks or improving your ventilation system will help you solve this dilemma.

4. Ear damage from loud noise

There’s the so-called industrial deafness which was widespread before in heavy industries. The sad fact is it’s not entirely a thing of the past. Factories operating loud machinery should equip their workers with sufficient ear protection. Designating a quiet room or reminding them to take ear breaks are other good ways to prevent hearing deficiencies.

5. Repetitive stress injuries

The symptoms of repetitive stress injuries include pain, tingling, and numbness. The common triggers include staying in the same position for prolonged periods, using the same muscle group for an entire day’s work, and handling of vibrating equipment repeatedly.

6. Machine-related injuries

It can’t be helped for factory workers to use machinery. If there’s not enough personal protective equipment (PPE), the risks cannot be understated. Make sure your employees wear complete and proper gear at all times and that users have been adequately trained to handle such equipment.

7. Burns

Burns are highly prevalent in facilities that handle flammable substances. However, it’s important to know that the risk of a burn is not limited to these environments alone. As with all hazards in the workplace, taking a proactive approach to fire prevention will help you avoid fire/heat-related incidents.

8. Cuts and lacerations

Cuts and scrapes are closely related to the use of machinery (e.g., forklift) or simple office tools like a pair of scissors. For your workers’ safety, protective gloves and equipment should be available. To grant an extra layer of protection, make sure that you have a first-aid kit ready.

9. Electrocution

Given that electrocution can be fatal, there should be no exposed live wires throughout your workplace. Employees handling electric machinery should be properly trained and must wear the right attire and equipment for the job.

10. Slips and falls

Whether it’s a traditional office space or an industrial facility, wet surfaces can pave the way for a painful accident. Slippage can result in a bandaged foot at best and a cranial injury at worst, so make it a point to clean floors and place signs.

If your employees regularly handle commercial ladders, you should take the same approach as well. Reminding them to wear the right attire and inspecting these tools before use can help them avoid falls from great heights.

Take Safety Personally

As an employer, you should know that you are accountable for the well-being of your staff. Failure to provide a safe working environment won’t just damage your company’s reputation. It may also lead to the sickness and death of your most valuable assets—your employees.

As you hire new workers, ensure that you’re onboarding and training programs encompass safety protocols and the proper use of company resources.

To keep untoward incidents at bay, it will be in your best interest to purchase high-quality equipment. If your employees need to regularly access manholes, rooftops, and other hazardous areas, purchasing a fixed aluminum ladder with a fall protection system will be one of your best decisions.

Aluminum is non-corrosive, making it an ideal material for ladders. Pairing it with other ladder accessories such as safety brackets and landing platforms will ensure that your employees stay safe at work. So if you want to give your staff protection against sudden slippages and falls, take some time to look into our product catalog. If you have any looming concerns, get in touch with us to learn more!

6 Safety Guidelines When Using Fixed Ladders

Fixed ladders are durable pieces of equipment that are permanently attached to a structure. By providing maximum safety and convenience, these tools are used for various applications, such as providing access to rooftops, manholes, and hatches within a facility.

If your employees need to work in high places or manage inconvenient areas in your commercial or industrial space, installing a fixed ladder will greatly benefit your operations, while ensuring the safety of your workers.

When using fixed ladders, taking the necessary precautions is an absolute must. Around 40% of fall-related injuries are caused by the misuse of ladders, and this figure should be a great cause for concern. With that said, it’s vital for both employers and staff to educate themselves on basic safety protocols.

As a means of preventing injuries and other mishaps in the future, you should take a look at these safety guidelines when utilizing any kind of commercial ladder.

1. Limit areas to certain personnel

If you want to reduce the occurrence of ladder-related injuries, you should consider limiting hazardous areas to qualified personnel. Apart from granting permissions to authorized individuals, this implies that you need to set company-wide policies and impose sanctions for those who break the rules.

In case that a worker needs to access these areas, ensure that they are properly trained to handle such equipment. This will help you reduce the rate of injuries and accidents around your workspace.

2. Avoid wearing slippery shoes and gloves when climbing

When handling tasks that require the use of fixed ladders, make sure that you’re wearing the right attire to keep yourself safe from preventable risks.

Your shoes shouldn’t have a slippery base, and that the gloves you’ll be using must be able to support your grip. Having the right pieces will ensure that you have a stable foundation with each step you climb.

3. Invest in ladder accessories

Apart from wearing proper attire, consider investing in other safety equipment as well. For instance, non-slip shoes only provide a limited amount of protection, so it’s worth purchasing ladder accessories such as rest platforms and arrest systems.

In the event that you slip during your climb, these tools will break your fall and prevent serious injuries. 

If needed, use special grip gloves that allow you to create a steady and solid foundation with each step you climb. Using such gloves can help you better grip the handles of the ladder.

4. Postpone ladder-related endeavors during bad weather

If your ladder is exposed to rain, postpone any type of work until the weather has subsided. Just like any other surface, rainfall can make the steps of your ladders prone to slippage. Additionally, climbing in the presence of strong winds and lightning can ruin one’s balance and concentration, eventually leading into a serious injury.

5. Report any sort of defects immediately

Regardless of their frequency of use, all employers should adhere to periodical equipment checkups. Taking a proactive approach to maintenance will ensure the safety of your workers and prevent deterioration caused by wear and tear.

When inspecting your ladders, be on the lookout for loose screws, cracks, and signs of corrosion. Most importantly, report and fix any spotted defects as soon as possible.

6. Use customized solutions

Different facilities may require different types of solutions. If you feel that the fixed ladders you found online can’t support your needs, don’t be afraid to consult with the experts. Fixed ladder manufacturers are highly flexible and can tailor-fit their solutions accordingly.

If you require custom ladders that adhere to ANSI and OSHA standards, you’ve come to the right place. By partnering with O’Keeffe’s, you can be assured that all of your unique needs will be addressed. With more than 80 years of experience under our belt, we can confidently say that our solutions will guarantee your safety and convenience.

Taking the extra steps for safety

Ladders are an essential tool, especially in the case of those who are working in hard industries.  If your employees need to work in impractical areas regularly, having one installed will be one of your best investments. Giving them a steady platform to work with will enable them complete tasks while helping you avoid life-threatening incidents.

As you look at different providers, it’s important that you take the necessary precautions. Now that you have the tips above in mind, it should be easier for you to keep accidents and injuries at bay. For quality and safety ensured ladders, contact us to learn more.

How to Properly Inspect Your Industrial Ladders

Workplace safety is vital in any business, as it allows everyday operations to flow without hiccups. Depending on your industry, workplace safety can cover everything from sufficient lighting and adequate ventilation to proper traffic movement and well-maintained equipment or machinery.

Implementing workplace safety is particularly crucial in hazardous environments. Since some jobs are more dangerous than others, employees working in accident-prone areas must take extra precautions.

Whether you employ staff for telecommunications, maintenance, or repair services, the use of fixed ladders to ascend high areas or climb down manholes entails safety practices. The goal is to proactively control and eliminate active threats to get your workers and other people out of harm’s way.

To ensure that accidents are prevented, this guide will teach you how to inspect your industrial ladders properly.

Best Practices for Ladder Safety

If you operate in a high-risk industry, conducting safety inspections of equipment, such as roof access ladders, must be a standard operating procedure. It’s essential to have all bases covered, so we’re making things easier for you with this ladder inspection checklist.

1. Review OSHA regulations and standards

The Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) enforces rules and regulations on workplace safety to help employers design work environments that can prevent illnesses, injuries, accidents, or deaths among employees while on the job.

Before you can conduct a ladder safety inspection, you must be aware of OSHA standards regarding fall prevention to help you to identify focus areas.

A quick check on the OSHA website and resources can go a long way. Not only will you be certain that you’re on the right track regarding compliance, but you’ll also be aware of industry trends, updates, and best practices that you can implement in your organization.

It won’t hurt to familiarize yourself with the quality standards of the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) regarding business processes and systems, either.

2. Create a fixed schedule to conduct periodical checks

Routine checks on ladders are necessary to ensure they’re in excellent form and suitable for your organizational usage requirements. The type of ladder is only one way to determine how often it should be inspected.

So, even if you know that fixed access ladders should be inspected at least once a year, you may want to consider other factors. This includes how often they’re being used, exposure to unwanted environmental elements like salt air, relevant mechanisms installed on your ladders, and others.

From there, you can decide on the ideal frequency of testing your ladder systems. This schedule must be followed so you can catch any safety issues before it’s too late.

3. Look for cracks, loose bolts, and other noticeable defects

Ladders in good condition aren’t supposed to show any sign of damage. As you inspect them visually, watch out for any of the following safety hazards:

  •  Loose or missing nails, screws, or bolts and nuts
  •  Brackets that might not be secure enough to attach the ladder to a building, equipment, or structure, such as a roof
  • Rough edges, splinters, or protrusions that can cut through the skin or clothing

Here, the main thing to remember is not to apply a temporary fix if you see something is off, such as using duct tape to tie up loose parts. What you should do is tag the ladder as out of service so others would know that they should not use it until repairs are made

4. Search for signs of corrosion

Ladder inspections must include checking the entire structure or system for rust, which indicates that the ladder is deteriorating and may not be structurally sound. These components require a close look as they are prone to corrosion: rungs, rails, fasteners, anchors and extension anchors, hatches, and grab bars, among others.

Should you find corroded components, do not take chances and put up a warning sign right away that the ladder is not safe for use. The last thing you want is for an unaware employee to climb a ladder that can easily break because its integrity is already compromised.

This is where having an aluminum fixed access ladder is most helpful. Aluminum is naturally corrosion-resistant, which means fewer maintenance fees and lower lifetime costs. Learn more about the many benefits of choosing aluminum ladders here.

5. Check on the rungs, side rails, and cages

Fixed ladders have two main parts—the rungs (the horizontal bars for stepping) and side rails (the vertical bars for holding). Cages should also be installed on fixed ladders with a height of more than 20 feet (6.1 meters) as barriers or enclosures to prevent falling accidents. Each of these parts must work properly based on their intended use or purpose.

As such, the rungs should have no missing steps and be clear of greasy or slippery substances that could result in someone slipping. The rails should be steady without any sign of distortion, or else holding on to it might be a problem. Inside the cage, there must be no obstruction that can make the personal fall arrest system unusable or ineffective.

6. Specify repair requirements for damaged ladders

At this point, you need to report any defect or damage you’ve discovered during the inspection to facilitate the repair or replacement of faulty components. Details like where the flaws were noted, the extent of the problem, and the recommended solutions must be reported.

7. Develop a data inspection sheet

The last step entails creating a data inspection sheet that summarizes the results of your inspection. Your ladder data inspection sheet must contain OSHA safety benchmarks alongside your observed ratings for each component of your fixed ladder installations.

This practice helps you see how well you’re complying with general and specific regulations on workplace safety and ladder safety and the improvements you have to make moving forward. The datasheet also serves as a reference for future inspections you’ll be carrying out.

Any pattern of recurring problems will be easier to spot and, from there, you should be able to look for a better way of doing things.

All The Way To The Top

Preventing workplace accidents is a responsibility that you must take seriously. In the industrial sector, workplace safety goes beyond restricting high-risk areas only to authorized and trained personnel. Regular inspections of those areas and the relevant equipment are necessary, too.

O’Keeffe’s is proud to carry a wide range of fixed ladder systems that are guaranteed safe, reliable, and in line with OSHA and ANSI standards to propel your business to success. Check out our offerings of quality commercial ladders.