Did you know the cost of accident prevention is usually much lower than what accidents can ultimately cost a business? This is one reason tens of thousands of businesses every year take advantage of OSHA’s workplace safety program. If your job site has health and safety issues (or even if it doesn’t), learn what this free government program can do for you. Read more
The cold and flu season are in full swing, and every business operator and manager lives in fear of their whole office or workplace being overtaken by an epidemic of illness that has your whole staff down for the count. It’s vital to keep your workplace sanitary and clear of dangers in order to make sure your staff remain healthy throughout the season. Here are some important tips to make sure you keep your workplace clear of the cold and flu virus this winter season. Read more
Follow These Hand and Power Tool Safety Tips
We all know that the contracting industry is a dangerous place to work. From slips and falls to debris and dangerous working conditions, there are a lot of risks. One area that most contractors take for granted and fail to recognize as dangerous is your personal toolbox.
There are a lot of dangers present in your toolbox, and it’s important to recognize proper safety procedures. Here’s an overview of hand and power tool safety and how you can defend against liability issues.
Basic Hand and Power Tools
Almost 10 percent of all workplace accidents are caused by basic hand and power tools. From hitting your thumb with a hammer to slipping with a saw, these nigh invisible liability issues are real and costly. Workers can suffer nerve damage, repetitive motion injuries and even the loss of limbs from hand and power tools.
Many different kinds of physical injuries can result from the contents of your toolbox. These can include punctures, abrasions, bumps, bruises, cuts and even the loss of limbs. Your toolbox includes implements that are designed to cut, burn and melt wood, metal and concrete. They can do a world of damage to skin and bone. In addition, flying debris from the use of hand and power tools can cause injury to eyes and body parts.
The most common physical injuries from power and hand tools include bumps, bruises and cuts, but serious injuries are all too common as well. Workers should strictly observe safety procedures and care including use of proper protective equipment, and keep their toolbox well organized to avoid protruding blades and sharp objects.
Using tools requires repetitive motion — that’s no surprise. This can create serious, ongoing and chronic injuries like carpel tunnel syndrome from turning wrenches, ratchets and screws, banging nails, drilling or even welding all day. These activities put a lot of strain on tendons, muscles and ligaments, and injury can result over time. The best way to prevent these injuries is to take frequent breaks and mix up different kinds of activity throughout the day as much as possible.
Hand and Power Tool Safety Practices
It is vital to practice proper safety policies and procedures to minimize the risk of accidents, injury and liability at work. These can create all manner of problems for the business, from loss of manpower to financial hits and personal loss. Never take shortcuts or ignore safety policies. Make sure tools are always sharp, in good repair and in working order.
Always use thorough and proper personal protective equipment such as heavy gloves, steel-toed boots, hardhats and eye protection. Cut away from your body and make sure you are on solid footing. Take regular breaks and vary your motion and activity throughout the day. These simple hand and power tool safety tips can save a lot of money and heartache.
Finally, as a contractor, make sure you have proper and complete liability insurance. Accidents will happen, and you need to be covered against the cost of liability.
September is National Preparedness Month
“Don’t Wait. Communicate. Make Your Emergency Plan Today.”
Lacking the traditional exclamation point urgency of most Public Service Announcement posters, the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA’s) National Preparedness Month campaign mirrors the attitude it wants to invoke. Calm, rational preparation is the only way to keep people safe during an unexpected emergency or disaster situation.
Waiting until the last minute only invites stress and split-second decisions that gamble the lives and well-being of anyone involved. Yet, FEMA and associated participants like the CDC and OSHA do not shout or elicit fear. Instead, they coolly advocate: “Do the right thing, and do it soon.”
Workplaces should take this recommendation to heart and use the remaining days of September to spread awareness and discussion over emergency and disaster preparedness. Being organized and prepared saves lives and brings order even to the midst of chaos.
How Businesses Can Prepare During Preparedness Month
On an individual level, FEMA and the CDC recommend the natural steps to prepare for a disaster:
- Build an emergency supply kit
- Create an evacuation or rescue plan for emergencies, such as a hurricane
- Research different likely emergency scenarios
Families and households can take these steps to ensure that their lives are not interrupted in the event of an emergency, but what about businesses? FEMA and OSHA jointly recommend that businesses take additional steps beyond ensuring the immediate safety of their employees in order to prepare for moving ahead following a disaster.
- Create a preparedness program with a dedicated team and objective measurement criteria
- Gather information about potential hazards and assess risks
- Use your research to determine a Business Impact Analysis (BIA)
- Explore methods for preventing additional hazards and reducing risks
- Create a plan that allows for your business to continue as soon as possible following a disaster
- Invest in methods to soften the blow disasters inflict upon your business with preparedness funds and the right type of insurance to protect against excess risk
- Rigorously train employees on the emergency plan and the methods used to reduce further risk
- Test your plan with various drills and exercises
- Periodically re-evaluate your plan to identify potential improvements
Creating a BIA
As you can see, the biggest difference between preparedness for the individual household and businesses is that businesses must determine how a disaster could affect their day-to-day operations. A Business Impact Analysis (BIA) is a comprehensive approach to determining what conditions would force closure or hinder operations on an extended basis.
Businesses that perform and create a BIA will have a more full understanding of what happens after an emergency and how it will affect their typical operations. For the construction industry, a BIA will take into account how job work will be halted. Additionally, materials and in-progress tasks may have been destroyed during the disaster. Contracting businesses must prepare procedures in advance for calculating losses, replacing damaged goods and adjusting the schedule based on the BIA.
These steps are invaluable for contracting businesses because they help teams move forward with less questions left in the air following a disaster. The comprehensive nature of a BIA also helps spread the definition of a “disaster” beyond something that affects the general public. For instance, a structural collapse on the job could cost many thousands of dollars in lost materials and ruined labor in addition to the immediate safety risks. Contracting businesses must anticipate these scenarios and craft a robust plan to reduce risks while avoiding further hazards.
Work with a professional risk assessment program such as those available from commercial contracting insurers to gain 360° insight and preparedness for nearly any setback. The National Preparedness Month of September is a great time to start, but keep the efforts going all year to persevere even when conditions are at their worst.
Having an emergency response plan is the single most important way to help prevent avoidable injury or death in the event of a disaster. Emergencies that occur in the workplace can happen at any time, often with little warning. Whether they are internally-caused at the site like a structural collapse or externally-caused like a tornado striking, emergency factors must be handled in a timely, controlled and calculated manner to minimize the potential risk to human life and company property.
An emergency response plan can significantly reduce the unknowns during such a catastrophic scenario and also help decipher how to handle new unknowns as they arise. Here are some guidelines for your own emergency response plan and disaster preparedness policies. Read more