By Thad Plumley
A worker in a food processing plant a few hours south of my home surely thought they were doing the best they could when they were cleaning equipment late last year. In fact, they probably thought they were going above and beyond.
The worker didn’t know how to turn off a machine they were cleaning, so they tried to be extra careful as they cleaned it. However, they slipped, fell in the machine, and tragedy ensued. The worker lost a leg, and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration announced recently it had hit the company with several violations and fines.
An employee was simply trying to do a good job and now lives are changed forever. That employee will obviously never be the same, but the coworkers there that day are also forever impacted as is the company management that didn’t properly train its staff.
June marks National Safety Month every year and it comes at a good time for the groundwater industry. Chances are your job list is long and you and your crew are busier than ever. That makes it the perfect time to remind everyone that you can never take shortcuts when it comes to safety.
Make sure you have weekly or even daily tailgate talk safety meetings. I’m sure everyone wants to get the day started but it is more critical than ever to remind even the most veteran of employees about safe work habits.
It is also the perfect time to go over the basics. Workers rushing because they are busy is when you see things like slips, trips, and falls. It is also a time when some workers may get lackadaisical when it comes to wearing their personal protective equipment or taking chances on some things they are not qualified to do.
OSHA announces its top 10 violations every fall and some that seem basic make the list every year. In fact, here’s a prediction: Fall protection will be No. 1. It has been 12 consecutive years, so I’m not going too far out on a limb with that one.
Chances are scaffolding, ladders, and fall protection training requirements will make the list once again like they did a year ago too. If they do, it means 40% of the top 10 list will be related to slips, trips, and falls.
Those are the types of accidents that come when workers are rushing. So, remind workers at your safety meetings to slow down, wear their PPE at all times, keep walking paths clear, and the jobsite organized.
Also, tell everyone to always practice lockout-tagout, stay hydrated, and keep their eyes on their coworkers.
Working outside in beautiful weather and providing life-sustaining water can be a truly rewarding career. You can go home fulfilled every night.
The key, though, is to make sure you go home and not to a hospital, changed forever.
Thad Plumley is the editor of WWJ and the director of publications for the National Ground Water Association. He is currently the secretary for the AM&P Network Associations Council Advisory Board. The AM&P Network is a national association for publishing professionals.. He can be reached at email@example.com, or (800) 551-7379, ext. 1594.