28 Common Sense Safety Rules

June 1, 2013 Dave Weber No Comments


Below are 28 common sense safety rules that I share with all of my new hires.   Each rule was created in the aftermath of an on the job accident.  New workers, especially those right out of school, have little common sense (aka work smarts)  and need someone to tell them the below safety truisms before they get hurt.

  • New employees have far more serious on the job injuries than do experienced employees. This new employee safety training program is designed to get you over the dangerous new employee period when most accidents happen.  Listen carefully to all of our training and be sure to ask questions if you need further clarification.
  • You are entitled to comprehensive 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.
  • Watch out for others, especially newer employees and older employees.  Newer employees may not be familiar with workplace hazards.  Older employees often don’t see and hear very well, and can be easily distracted.
  • If you observe an employee who is impaired at work by alcohol or drugs, tell the safety coordinator or HR 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.   Also, pick up after yourself throughout the day.   Accumulations of trash can cause fires.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask.   If it’s heavy, ask for help.  If you are not sure how to do something, ask for guidance.   There is not such thing as a dumb question.
  • 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.
  • If you are not on top of your game, do not do anything hazardous.   Didn’t get enough sleep?  Distracted by a troubling event in your life?  Feeling a little light headed from prescription medications? If you are not mentally and/or physically sharp and at your peak,  tell your supervisor and ask to be taken off of any potentially hazardous job.  No one should work when their alertness or  ability is impaired by illness, fatigue, or physical or psychological factors.
  • 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 on-line.  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 PPE.  If there is a job SOP or a safety JSA (or JHA) 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 fork lift while using a cell phone.   I’ve seen employees tape cell phones to the console of their production machine so they could more easily text while running their large machine.   Cell phones are addictive; if you allow employees to have them at work, they will use them if they think no one is watching.
  • Say YES to long pants, and NO to long hair.  I’ve seen a number of accidents where employees working in a manufacturing or service job cut their legs while wearing short pants.  Many of these injuries would never have happened had the employee been wearing long pants.  Also, long hair should be forbidden around machinery.  Long haired employees claim that wearing it in a pony tail eliminates the hazard – I disagree, a pony tail makes it worse.   A pony tail is in effect a “hair rope”.   If loose hair gets caught in a machine, there’s at least the chance the employee might be able to pull free.   But, if a “pony tail rope” gets caught, it’s much stronger than a few individual hairs and  it is less likely the employee would be able to break free.
  • No rings at work – period!  If employees wear rings at work, the rings can catch and rip off a finger.  They also expose the employee to a greater risk of electrocution.
  • Cleanliness is next to …   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.
  • You don’t have to “tough it out”.  If you are experiencing discomfort or pain from doing a job or using a tool, report it to your supervisor or the safety manager.   They will take action to modify the task to make it more comfortable.  I’ve know employees who suffered in silence with pain for a long time, only to end up with a serious injury that required surgery to correct.
  • Vary your job tasks throughout the day.  If possible, do different tasks every few minutes so don’t become stiff and sore from doing the exact same motion over and over again.  Take frequent stretch breaks while doing  repetitive jobs.  Vary your posture, sit for a while and then stand.
  • Wear safety glasses “at all times”.  Some companies issue employees safety glasses and instruct workers to “wear them when needed”.  This policy has resulted in many eye injuries.  If you don’t wear your safety glasses at all times,  you may forget to put them on “when they are needed”, or you may decide to not go get them because the task being performed will only take a moment.
  • 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 embolism.
  • Radios, stereos, and boom boxes should not be used in the workplace.  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 bad, getting you fired, or landing you in jail if they are hurt in the process.   Save your distracting humor 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 in back 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 to catch something you drop.  Your employer will not punish you for letting it drop.


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