Safety – Not just a workplace issue

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Ladder MishapSafety in the workplace is a top priority for nearly every company. Each company has their own reasons that they focus on safety, i.e., it’s the right thing to do, eliminating unnecessary costs, etc. Depending on your industry, the risks of injury at work are wide ranging. While a logger has a much higher chance of injury than say an administrative assistant , each has a common injury potential – their home and personal life.

It has been said the employees of a company are its number one asset. All the machinery, computers, and automation can only do so much without the human counterpart. Imagine one of your best and most highly trained employees – chances are they are nearly irreplaceable, at least on a short-term basis. The time and training cost to get someone to their experience level is more than you want to imagine. Now, imagine this: It’s Fall and that employee is at home cleaning out their gutters. They have a ladder that is almost tall enough, but not quite. No problem, they’ll just stand on the top step and reach a little. Next thing you know you’re getting a call from the hospital. This valued employee has broken their arm and sustained a severe concussion. They’ll be out of work for at least two weeks. Normally you could probably manage to struggle for a couple weeks, but not now. This is the same employee that is the project manager for the largest, most valuable project you’ve had in nearly a decade. Now what?

See where I’m going with this? Employers need to expand their horizons on safety awareness. A person’s home poses the same, if not higher, risks as the workplace. There are things you can do to help raise a person’s safety awareness at home. When you put out your monthly safety bulletins (you do this right?), include safety tips for the home. Look at the current season and consider the activities that may be going on around home. Look at safety items that cross over, like ladder use or lifting. Be sure to mention work and home when discussing them. If your employees are issued safety gear, encourage them to take it home and use it. When I worked for the railroad, we were issued nearly every piece of safety gear you can imagine: hard hats, leather gloves, steel-toe boots, reflective safety vests, safety glasses, ear plugs, and much more. We were highly encouraged to take these things home and use them. While I’m no longer with that company, to this day I still use those items every single week. Sure the items may wear out a bit quicker, but balance the costs of a little extra equipment versus the cost of a lost employee due to injury.

So now you must ask yourself, how much risk are you willing to take? Do you think your employees are safe at home? Are you doing all you can to spread safety information? A little bit can go a long way.

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