Planning for safety at the workplace comes in many different flavors. The needs of each and every project is unique. So, as we would expect, one solution never fits all situations, however, there are a few almost subconscious safety-behaviors that rarely get included in activity hazard analyses or discussed by work teams, yet they are common to all jobs. As the COVID-19 pandemic subsides, many of these safety-behaviors , while universally beneficial, will cease to be discussed unless they continue to be emphasized in future risk analyses . These risk analyses can be quickly completed using inexpensive tools such as JSA Builder, available at www.jsabuilder.com.
Yes, the standard “slip, trip, fall, and step hazard ” issues are very important topics to raise the safety awareness of your workers before they start their work tasks, where ever they may be conducted, however maybe we need to additionally think about safety even earlier in their daily routines. This is to promote and reinforce safety-behaviors which carry through and may affect their entire days, including before they arrive for work. Safety-behavior cannot be turned on and off, it is a 24/7 attribute that workers need to possess. It makes better sense to reinforce continually viewing all aspects of the day through a safety “lens,” starting from the moment they begin their days at home. Encouraging this habit may become more relevant in the future when we will be routinely working from home as a consequence of “the new normal.”
Daily workplace health & safety or tailgate discussions have always evolved to address the relevant issues that we presume to present risks to the safe completion of the planned work for that day. As more people get vaccinated for COVID-19, how should we plan to continue to act in order to be responsible in the workplace? First before we consider the question, remember that vaccines never offer 100% immunity, so we need to continue to use care and be smart how we operate wherever we are. That may disappoint some individuals who had hoped to return to a totally carefree lifestyle, but continuing to be more diligent in how we live our daily lives 24/7 will provide us all dividends going forward. Commitment to minimizing potential disease spreading behaviors should continue to be discussed and acknowledged in safety documents such as Job Safety Analyses (JSA) or Job Hazard Analyses (JHA) to facilitate frequent discussions. Awareness is achieved painlessly through fundamental planning discussions from which we can all resolve to benefit from what should have been learned through experience during the COVID-19 pandemic. Mainly, to reduce potential transmission of diseases that have been common throughout the population throughout our lives (in addition to COVID-19), using the following basic behaviors:
To prevent infection and to reduce transmission of most common diseases:
- Request that your workers continue to always diligently wash their hands regularly with soap and water, or clean them with alcohol-based hand sanitizer rubs.
- Remind workers that they should always cover their mouths and noses using masks where appropriate in public settings or around others.
- Continue to try to maintain at least six feet distance between themselves and people especially if they are coughing or sneezing.
- They should all avoid touching their faces.
- Stay home if they feel unwell to avoid spreading disease.
- Turn away and cover their mouths and noses when coughing or sneezing.
- Refrain from smoking and other activities that weaken the lungs and respiratory system.
- Continue to practice physical distancing by avoiding unnecessary travel and staying away from large groups of people when possible (remember this will be beneficial for post-COVID-19 times too).
- And last if not least, recommend that everyone continue to avoid contact with others through hand-shakes.
Even though these are all simple precautions, we all know that these behaviors do get forgotten too often. That is why flu and common colds spread throughout the population including through our workplaces, rapidly at times. Like COVID-19, many diseases including flu and common colds spread easily between people when they come in close contact because respiratory droplets or small particles produced when an infected person coughs, talks, or breathes can complete the infection pathway. Growing evidence confirms that droplets can remain suspended in the air and travel distances beyond six feet, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Indoor environments with poor ventilation increase the risk of transmission.
Continuing to adhere to the current suggested COVID lifestyle adjustments to enhance health and safety should not really be difficult for any of our workers. We should all be used to them at the moment, right? And yes, it will take a little bit of effort to continue some of the safe habits, but the benefits are huge both at work and in our personal lives. Think of the financial benefits in the workplace (to the individuals as well as employers) if we could reduce the number of common disease infections even 5- to 10-percent? Everyone would win!
If your workers are no longer currently working from home, our post-COVID discussion above still applies. Just remember, additional thought should be invested into potential safety issues which could affect workers at home. Accidents at home (in their home offices or not) will likely affect performance of work anywhere and if they are avoided will provide benefits to employers. This is important because in the “new normal,” many workers probably won’t end up returning to their traditional offices following the pandemic.
We must stress that safety is always a 24-hour per day effort, and that workers cannot simply turn-on safe working behaviors and practices when they arrive at work. They must believe in a safe work philosophy which begins when the alarm goes off each morning. So, build a strong safety culture and save.
To help plan the next project and risk assess your planned work tasks, it's FREE to try out www.JSAbuilder.com , to discover this outstanding JHA/JSA software that will help your team work safely and go home at the end of each work day without harm. If you have a distributed workforce, they can use JSABuilder.com to create a library of JSAs which then are available online to be modified and/or shared across your team. Follow JSABuilder on Twitter @JSABuilder , where we tweet about Health and Safety, post Safety tips, and provide updates on current Health and Safety topics. Remember, for a free risk assessment software tryout go to www.JSAbuilder.com .
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Note : images, links, brands discussed or displayed in this article are not endorsements or recommendations. They are for illustration of various products and types of products. JSABuilder does not recommend products, does not endorse, or express any opinion as to the applicability to any given use case or job hazard. Again, consult your safety professional to obtain opinions on applicability, selection and fitting of all the various types of PPE, then work smart and safe.