Monday, July 19, 2010

Safety Illusions

Contributed by Norm Nyhuis, Trainer, Evergreen Safety Council
We enjoy watching birds. In the spring, the birds appear especially hungry, probably, we surmise because they are not only hungry from the smaller food supply available during the winter, but because they are working hard on building their nests in preparation for the raising of this season’s offspring. One Robin in particular was busy building a nest in a sheltered area of the garage. I noticed that at times the Robin would come to the window of my work shop, perch on the window sill, ruffle up its feathers, chirp loudly and then attack the window. Our bird books tell us that Robins are territorial, they will drive out any competition in the area of their nests; this bird apparently thought the reflection in the window was a competitor and tried to drive it away. The perceived threat was not real, it was only an illusion.

Often, in the world of safety we too become influenced by an illusion – the illusion that there are no safety issues. While the workmen’s compensation rates do vary with the type of work being performed – no one would argue that the risk of an injury are greater when working in the logging industry or construction than if working in a business office - the rate per hour is proportionately less for officer work than for logging, construction or other outdoor activities. The rate structure shows us two things: some jobs are more hazardous, and there is no job without some level of hazard associated with it.

In Washington State, WAC 296-800-110 gives the basic rule that an employer must provide a workplace free from recognized hazards, and provide and use means to make your workplace safe.
  • Do you know how to perform a safety evaluation of your workplace?
  • Are you familiar with the laws and codes that affect the working environment in your business?
  • Do you have a written accident prevention plan, or emergency procedures manual for your employees?

If you have concerns about identifying hazards in your workplace, contact ESC to have one of our experienced safety consultants make a visit to your site and provide you with their observations and recommendations for improving safety in your workplace.

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