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Well-intended safety measures could be putting workers at risk

In almost every manufacturing or heavy industry, workplace safety measures have come a long way over the last few decades. Although improvements have saved countless lives throughout the country, including in New Jersey, no company should ever become complacent. Keeping workers safe at all times means constantly evaluating and adjusting safety measures and processes to determine whether they remain efficient and effective. It turns out that some common safety practices can do more harm than good if too blindly followed. The following are common safety measures that could actually cause a workplace injury or death.

The first is using phones to monitor safety. Having a worker check in with a cell phone or smartphone on a routine schedule may sound like a good idea, but it does have drawbacks. If an injured worker is unable to reach the phone, it could take hours for help to arrive. Any worker should be able to request help immediately.

Relying on workers' routine checks can also present dangers. Many companies require workers to check in every hour or two. When they do not, emergency personnel respond. When a person is incapacitated from a stroke or heart attack, that could be lost time that means the difference between life and death. It is better if managers rather than workers do routine checks.

Third, overreliance on protective gear can lead to complacency. Protective equipment is valuable but should never be the sole focus of workplace safety.

Finally, the buddy system can lead to a sense of false security. Unfortunately, two people can be incapacitated at the same time, rendering this system ineffective.

To address safety concerns, companies can use autonomous safety-monitoring devices for all employees that can be immediately activated when there are problems.

If they are injured, workers can file for workers' compensation to help them during the recovery process. A claim can result in benefits to cover medical expenses, lost wages and everyday needs.

Source: OHS Online, "Five Common Safety Practices That Are Putting Your Workers at Risk," Garrett Genest, July 1, 2014

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