Focus on Safety: North American Occupational Safety and Health Week

Each year, 4.6 million workers are injured on the job – that’s one worker every seven seconds! With proper planning and training, most of these injuries are preventable. That’s why each year during the first week in May thousands of businesses, individuals, and organizations across North America join forces to raise awareness about injury prevention at work during North American Occupational Safety and Health Week (NAOSH). When you’re an independent contractor bearing most of the costs of your injury, staying safe on the job is even more critical to the success of your business. Here are some tips for our Tech Army to help keep everyone safe on the job.

Site safety signs construction site for health and safety

Climb safely

The third leading cause of unintentional workplace injuries and deaths is falls, and many of these incidents occur when using ladders. While some accidents are no fault of the worker, many of these injuries could have been prevented by following basic workplace ladder safety.

Make sure that you choose the right ladder for the task that you’re doing by thinking about how high you need to reach, how much weight the ladder will need to hold, and whether you’ll be using the ladders indoors or outdoors. Using a ladder that is too short can result in workers standing on the top rungs or even top of the ladder – a serious safety red flag. Meanwhile, a load that is too heavy for the ladder you’ve selected could lead to the ladder buckling or tipping over under the excess weight. Forethought is key in ladder safety.

When setting up, make sure that your ladder is always on a firm, dry, and even surface. When using straight or extension ladders, always be sure to securely anchor them to an upper support to prevent tipping while climbing. For step ladders, you need to make sure that it is completely open and that the hinges are locked in place before using. Make sure that you secure any doorways that are near to or directly below the ladder to ensure that it isn’t bumped or tipped over by an opening door.

Falling from a ladder

While on the ladder, make sure that you keep three points of contact at all times and never stand higher than the third rung from the top. You should also never lean or overreach while standing on a ladder, instead just climb down and reposition your ladder before continuing. A tool belt is always your friend while on the ladder and you should never try to carry tools in your hands while climbing. Looking for more ladder safety tips? Check out the National Safety Council’s advice on ladder safety.

Beat the heat

When working in hot conditions, whether indoors or out, staying hydrated and as cool as possible is key to avoiding serious health issues like heat exhaustion or heat stroke. To reduce the likelihood of heat-related illnesses and injuries in the workplace, OSHA and other occupational safety groups recommend drinking water about a glass of water at least every 15 to 20 minutes to stay hydrated and maintain a safe core body temperature. This may mean more water breaks, but the reduction in injuries is well worth the few minutes it takes to stay hydrated.

Water is key to staying hydrated. Forego coffee and sodas while working in the heat as these can further rob the body of fluids. Make sure that you and your coworkers are drinking plenty of water while working outside, not just during rest breaks or lunch. By the time you’re thirsty, you’re already becoming dehydrated, so make sure that you stay ahead of the heat by drinking water even if you don’t feel thirsty. At the end of the day, drink an electrolyte drink to stave off heat cramps that can set in after a long day working in the heat.

When workers are subjected to prolonged heat without taking precautions to keep their core body temperature in a safe zone, heat exhaustion can quickly set in. Heat exhaustion is a very serious condition that should be treated immediately and knowing the warning signs is essential to avoiding long-term negative health effects. According to the CDC, the common symptoms and warning signs of heat exhaustion are:

  • Heavy sweating
  • Cold, pale, and clammy skin
  • Fast, weak pulse
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Muscle cramps
  • Tiredness
  • Dizziness and Headache
  • Fainting or passing out

If you do notice symptoms of heat exhaustion in yourself or a coworker, it’s critical that you take immediate steps to prevent the situation from escalating. Immediately move to a cool place like an air-conditioned vehicle or indoors. Loosen any tight or restrictive clothing that might make it more difficult to cool down quickly. If possible, put on cool, wet clothing or take a cool bath. In a pinch, you can also pour a bottle of cool (not cold) water onto your clothing to speed up the cool down process. Though you may be tempted to drink water quickly, it’s important that you or your coworker take small, slow sips to avoid becoming sick. If you or your coworker are vomiting as a result of heat exhaustion or your symptoms don’t improve after taking the above actions, seek immediate medical help.

Lift smarter

Overexertion when lifting or moving objects is one of the top three causes of workplace injury. A little planning and using proper lifting techniques can help to greatly reduce the number of injuries that you or your coworkers sustain while lifting and moving objects on the job.

Before you lift a box or object, make sure that you know where the object needs to be moved to and the route you’ll take to get there. Reducing the amount of time you have to hold the object or taking the path of least resistance are key to preventing injury. Check to see if the weight of the box is printed on the packaging and know your limits. If a box or object is too heavy, ask for help to move it into place.

Heavy cement construction

It’s a common rule of the thumb that many people ignore on a daily basis, but you should always remember to lift with your legs. Never put the strain of lifting a heavy object on your back. Kneel down near the object when first picking it up or squat to pick it up, but never keep your legs straight when lifting. While picking up or carrying a heavy object, avoid twisting your back or reaching up as these can cause additional strain on your already loaded down back and legs. Check out these additional safe lifting tips from the Mayo Clinic.

Keep an eye on everyone

Security cameras do so much more than identifying thieves or vandals. With a high-quality security camera system, you can keep an eye on your employees and ensure that they are following the safety protocols that you’ve put in place to keep them healthy and safe.Security cameras for safety review

Reviewing security camera footage often allows you to identify specific employees who aren’t following operating procedures and provide additional safety training as necessary to keep them and your other employees safer. You can also create a map of injury hotspots and review footage to see if there is a common safety hazard that is contributing to the incidents in a given area. As you identify these hazards, you can take steps to improve the safety of those areas.

Keeping the Tech-Army on the front lines of safety

When it comes to workplace injuries for the independent contractor, an ounce of prevention is truly worth a pound of cure. Just like with any mission, planning and following procedure is the best way to ensure that the members of our Tech-Army stay safe while on the job.

The Tech-Army is always on the lookout for skilled technicians to help us expand our network of professionally trained and certified installers, engineers, and technicians. If you work in the computer, CCTV, IP security camera, AV/computer rental, or home builder industries, we want to talk to you! While there’s no cost to join, we only accept serious professionals – so only the best need apply.

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