By: lyenoma T. Osazee (M.Sc., MNISP, CMIOSH) Chartered Occupational Safety and Health Practitioner (UK)
lyenoma T. Osazee

New employees have far more serious on-the-job injuries than do experienced employees. New employees should be properly oriented and made familiar with the workplace before being allowed to operate. There should be specific trainings designed to get the new employees over this period when most accidents happen. They are advised to listen carefully to all the trainings and be sure to ask questions if clarifications are needed.

You are entitled to a reasonable safety training before you use any tool, machine, or equipment. If you are assigned to a new job (or told to use a new machine or tool) and you have not been given thorough and complete safety instruction, speak up; you are entitled to receive thorough safety training on that new operation, no matter what your background or level of experience might be If you observe an employee who is impaired at work by alcohol or drugs, tell the health and safety coordinator or Human Resource Manager before someone is hurt or killed. Inspect tools and equipment before using them.  Before using any tool or machine, stop and inspect the device to make sure it is safe to operate. Pay special attention to guards and other safety devices.

Keep your work area clean. Objects on the floor can create a slip or trip hazard. Don’t walk past a slipping or tripping hazard, even if it is not in your area. Pick it up or report it. Accumulations of trash can cause fires. Don’t rush; it’s better late than never. Many accidents occur in the rush to get something done fast. Take your time, follow all work and safety rules, and get the job done safely. Walk, don’t run. No job is so “hot” that you should disregard safety practices. Watch where you are walking. We know of accidents that occurred when employees did not watch where they were walking and walked into: raised fork truck forks, sharp corners of sheet metal, the ends of metal pallet bands that were recently cut, and into the path of a backing fork truck.

Read the operating manual before using any new power tool or machine. These days, there’s an operating manual for just about everything. If you don’t have a hard copy, you can probably find one online. Much of the operating manual will be devoted to how to safely operate the machine. Read and follow the recommended safety procedures you find in the operating manual.

Safety loves consistency. Formal safety procedures are usually in place for those routine production jobs that most of us perform day in and day out. But, when something unusual or unexpected happens, these rules are sometimes not enough to protect you. Anytime there is an: equipment breakdown, change in procedures, or surprise please take a moment to reflect on what new hazards exist and how to address them.

Plan safety into every single job. Before beginning any job, have the right tools on hand and the needed Personal Protective Equipment. If there is a job Safe Operating Procedures, SOP or a safety Job Safety Analysis (or Job Hazard Analysis) review and understand them before starting work.

No cell phones at work. As with driving a car, using a cell phone (or texting) while working can be a dangerous distraction. I’ve observed employees driving a forklift while using a cell phone. Cell phones are addictive; if you allow employees to have them at work, they will use them if they think no one is watching. Cleanliness is next to godliness. Wash your hands before eating. Don’t eat in the work areas. If you spill chemicals on your clothing. immediately change the clothing and wash the affected part of the body.

If you suspect something might be dangerous either don’t do it, or discuss it with your supervisor or the safety person. Also. if you have a safety suggestion, we want to hear about it. Good suggestions are always given serious consideration.

Don’t use an air hose for cleaning your body or clothing. It could blow particles into your eyes, rupture an ear drum or cause an intestinal metabolism. Radios, stereos, and boom boxes should not be used in the workplace especially factory premises. These devices make communications more difficult, significantly add to plant noise levels, and may even contribute to hearing losses.

Never walk up to an employee who is in the process of operating a machine or power tool. You may startle them; and that could lead to an accident. Wait until there’s a lull in the action before walking up to the employee. Practical jokes have no place on the work floor. It’s not funny or acceptable to play jokes on people at work. What you think may be a humorous practical joke could end up hurting someone had, getting you fired, or landing you in jail if they are hurt in the process. Save your distracting humour and playful games for off the job.

Stay on the “safe side” of things.  On some machines (or operations) there is a “safe side” and there is an “unsafe side”. It is better to be on the safe side if possible.

Fork trucks travel forwards and backwards. It is usually safer to be to the side of a fork truck rather than in front of or at the back of one. The side of a grinding wheel is usually safer than in front of one.

The side of a grinding wheel is usually safer than in front of one. Standing on the side of a table saw when ripping is usually safer than standing in line with the blade. When lifting a large I—beam (girder) or heavy plate with a bridge crane, it is usually safer to be at the end of the beam/girder/plate than beside it.

If the crane/hook/chain/sling should fail, the object will usually fall to the ground and then onto its’ side. The end is often the safest place to be if the load falls. If you drop something, get out of the way, don’t try to catch it. If something falls at work, chances are pretty good that it could be heavy, sharp, hot, or caustic. Many back injuries and cuts have occurred from employees trying to catch falling objects. Get in the habit of stepping away from falling objects as fast as you can Learn to resist the urge to try catch something you drop. Y01 employer will not punish you for letting it drop.

By: lyenoma T. Osazee (M.Sc., MNISP, CMIOSH)
Chartered Occupational Safety and Health Practitioner (UK)

Note: This article was originally published in The Nigerian Construction Digest Vol 1 No.4 2016. All images /pictures are from

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