Every day at work is not a walk in the park. Some days on the production line, in the plant or warehouse or on the job site are more hazardous than others. Blue-collar employees inherently face more danger on a daily basis that white-collar workers; it comes with the territory. But there’s a difference in occupational hazards and preventable or human-made hazards.
As a blue-collar employee, you’ll sometimes face inclement weather and unstable or slippery surfaces and work with tools and machinery that, at times, can be temperamental. Who says that has to be the case? Could more thorough training be mandated to ensure anyone who needs to know will know how to operate a tool or machine? Of course, there could. Are employees always adequately trained? They are not. And the excuses as to why workplace injuries, especially those at companies with a poor injury history, are endless.
As stated above, blue-collar workers face hazards at work, and some are unpreventable. Still, some are preventable, and there are training, prevention and accountability solutions available to those who wish to seek them.
Too often are employees improperly trained and rushed into the job. Sometimes this is due to the company being overly busy and need manpower. Other times, it’s merely a lack of organizational structure and care surrounding employee safety. Employees should always receive efficient training, even as they become comfortable.
New workers need thorough training, and experienced employees can benefit from a reminder now and then as experience can lead to overlooking certain safety measures. When training, consider focusing on the following five categories:
- How to properly use tools, machinery
- How to properly handle and clean industrial driving equipment like forklifts or platform lift trucks
- How and when to wear personal protective equipment
- Proper single and team-oriented lifting techniques to limit back injuries
- How to identify and report potential work hazards
Sometimes companies are cash-strapped and have to be very cautious about how and when they spend money. That said, shouldn’t employee safety be near the top of the list as each employee injury will likely cost the company thousands of dollars? Some preventative safety measures that a company can install include:
- Anti-slip flooring
- Clear high traffic, work-specific areas and exits clear of hazards
- Store waste and fire hazards in areas away from threats of ignition
- Where applicable, review and install toe boards, fall nets and toe rails
- Ensure heavy equipment and materials are securely strapped down and on a level platform
- For plants and warehouses: consider purchasing industrial vacuums to clear the air or combustible particles that can catch on fire
While some of these preventative considerations are beneficial, some are not appropriate for all blue-collar industries.
Every employee from labor to foreman and safety manager is responsible for acting in a safety-first manner. Production is important, but each injury causes a delay and, thus, a loss of production. Defined responsibilities for each employee, encouraging employees to report hazardous conditions and allowing tired employees to take a couple of breaks throughout the day could lead to a safer and more productive work environment.