9 Low-Tech Ways to Keep the Workplace Safe
Advances in technology have certainly not left the safety industry untouched. Smartphone and tablet apps show workers how to lift more safely, angle ladders properly and learn about hazardous chemicals. GPS devices can track people who are working alone. Noise monitoring dosimeters can assess noise levels and help safety managers prevent hearing hazards.
These technologies do a lot to help keep workplaces safe. That doesn’t mean older technologies and techniques aren’t still useful, though. Plenty of simple, low-tech—and often low-cost—tools exist for improving workplace safety, and today we’ll take a look at nine of them. Many can be used in almost any industry, and some don’t even require any extra purchases.
1. Proper Stacking and Storage
Collapsing loads pose a hazard to warehouse workers. If bumped, piles can topple, causing cuts, bruising or more serious crushing injuries. Preventing this dangerous situation is simple, though. All your facility needs to do is employ stacking techniques that increase the stability of materials stored in a warehouse.
Block stacking, for example, is a technique for stacking square items. The items are stacked in a large cube and are secured using shrink-wrap or wire. Brick stacking is a technique that adds more internal stability to a pile by turning each level of the stack 90 degrees. For further protection, you can try pinwheel stacking, which is when each quadrant (in addition to each level) is turned 90 degrees.
For irregularly shaped items like bags of soil or cement, stabilize the stack by adding layers of plywood between the levels.
These simple precautions can prevent needless injuries and needless mess.
2. Tool Organization
Disorganized tools can be annoying, leading employees to waste time searching for the ones they need. A messy workspace can also be dangerous as stray tools may have sharp parts or trailing cords that could cut or trip an employee.
Implementing a system for organization like tool foam organizers for toolboxes and shadow stickers placed on organization boards is easy to do and relatively inexpensive. You can also create your own organizational system using labels and storage containers.
3. Railings Around Openings
Many people have grown used to the fact that technology can tell us where to go. We use GPS on our phones for directions and backup sensors in cars. Simple solutions exist, though, for helping people travel the right away and keeping people away from dangerous areas.
For example, if there’s an opening you don’t want an employee falling into, all you have to do is install some barriers. A permanent or removable railing can protect workers along edges, around ladder openings and anywhere else where a misstep could lead to an accident. Installing these kinds of barriers can take a little time, but they’ll get the job done for a long time.
Labels and signs are a great, effective way to quickly communicate important information. They can be used around hazards, on machines, at intersections, in storage areas, on pipes and in many other locations in the workplace.
People are used to interpreting images; we’re inundated with images all the time. Basic labels with pictograms and explanatory text are often the fastest way to get a message across. Plus, they’re not very expensive. If you purchase a label printer, you can even make all the labels your facility needs yourself.
Mirrors might sound like a strange thing to install in the workplace, but they can serve an important purpose. Vehicles like forklifts can be difficult to maneuver and have blind spots, especially at intersections. Installing mirrors at intersections or on the ends of aisles in a warehouse can improve a driver’s ability to see and avoid obstacles and pedestrians.
6. Floor Marking Tape
Speaking of traffic problems, floor-marking tape is a multi-purpose solution to many safety problems. Floor tape can be used to mark traffic lanes, aisles and hazardous areas. It can mark large areas and small ones, and it can also help with organization.
This tape is durable, easy to install and won’t need to be replaced as frequently as lines that are painted on the floor. Many colors and patterns are available, too.
7. Employee Stretch Breaks
Here’s a practice that only takes a little time and is easy to implement: stretch breaks. Ergonomic injuries can occur in the workplace, especially if employees perform repetitive tasks, work at awkward angles or do a lot of heavy lifting. Ergonomic injuries can cost employers a lot of money; when an employee gets injured and spends time away from work, someone will have to fill in. That requires training of new employees or overtime pay for other employees. These costs don’t even include things like workers’ compensation payments either.
To help alleviate aches and pains among employees, try having them take stretch breaks a few times per shift. This can reduce muscle soreness and increase joint range of motion.
8. Ventilation: Windows & Fans
Depending on the time of year, heat can become a real issue in the workplace (even indoors!). Air can get stagnant and dusty, and employees may begin to feel uncomfortable. While air conditioning may be the best option for dealing with extreme heat, some facilities don’t have air conditioning throughout the whole workplace.
In these circumstances, employers should try to create air circulation using windows, ceiling fans and electric fans. A little air movement can go a long way to prevent heat illnesses.
9. Dress Code: Avoid Loose Clothing
Preventing accidents around machines often involves both high-tech and low-tech tools. Many machines are required to have safeguards, which range from physical barriers to motion-sensing devices. Most machines have some kind of safety label, too.
Looking for another simple way to keep employees safe around machines? Instate a dress code. This doesn’t need to be an entire uniform. A dress policy can simply require employees to avoid wearing loose-fitting clothing that can get caught in the moving parts of machines.
Combine the Old and the New
Modern workplaces function best with a combination of old and new safety tools and techniques. High-tech machinery and processes often call for high-tech safety measures, which makes sense. It’s important to remember, though, that not all safety tools need to be complicated or expensive. Simple solutions like safety labels, floor tape, stretch breaks and a dress code can help make the workplace safer, too. Next time you need to find new ways to improve your safety programs, see if one of these tools will be beneficial.