Safety Spotlight: Don’t Forget the Basics

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By Dave Sanders, Director of Safety and Risk

We are all taking extra precautions these days to prevent the spread of COVID-19, from physical distancing and mask wearing, to increased sanitization, to reporting of symptoms, and quarantining when necessary. While all of these measures are essential to keep our team members and their families safe from the virus, we must not forget the importance of our standard safety practices. Each and every safety rule, which have evolved over almost 50 years in business, were put in place for a reason. All of our safety guidelines have been implemented to prevent accidents from happening, to avoid known hazards, or after an accident to prevent reoccurrence. Simply put: when employees follow safety rules, fewer people get hurt and productivity increases because our best workers are on the job – not in a doctor’s office, urgent care or an emergency room.

While our injury rates have steadily improved over the past few years, we have seen an uptick in preventable injuries these past couple of months. Many of our recent injuries are a result of not recognizing a hazard or making a poor decision by not adhering to a safety rule. Remember: safety rules and policies are in place for your protection. Taking shortcuts with the intention of getting a job done quicker only increases the risk of injury to you and your coworkers.

Reminder: Basic Safety Procedures

  • Always wear the appropriate PPE: safety glasses, hearing protection, reflective safety vest, hard hat, and seat belts in vehicles and equipment
  • Park your phone before you go. Distraction kills—that’s why our policy in all production vehicles is no cellphone use at all while driving, including hands free devices.
  • Always drive cautiously and defensively and use a spotter when backing any vehicle
  • Always use three points of contact when getting on or off equipment
  • Be aware of your surroundings, obvious hazards and unsafe behaviors of co-workers and point them out immediately to a supervisor, team member or on-site contact
  • Take any faulty equipment out of service: It’s a hazard and reduces productivity.

Our industry certainly has its share of risks associated with it based on the equipment we use, the miles we drive and the number of people we employ. But keeping those risks as low as possible should always be our goal so that each one of us gets home safely to our family every night.

The reality is that none of us ever thinks that we will be the one to either cause damage to someone else or sustain an injury ourselves. But accidents happen—and our best way to safeguard ourselves against a worst-case scenario of someone losing a limb or having a fatal accident on a piece of equipment or in a vehicle is by staying focused on the details that we can control. You are very important to us and by following safety rules, we can prevent accidents from occurring. Statistics show that 80% of accidents happen because workers do not take the proper precautionary measures or take a shortcut rather than follow proper procedure. The seconds you might save with a shortcut only increases the risk of injury and can cost, exponentially, much more in the end.

In the above photo, the main safety procedure on a walk-behind mower has been bypassed – the Operator Presence Control lever has been attached to the handle of the mower in an attempt to disable the automatic stop when a crew member’s hands are removed from the handles. This is a dangerous shortcut – if a crew member were to lose control of the mower, the OPC wouldn’t initiate the automatic stop and the mower would be free to proceed at an alarming speed in any direction. In the photo on the left, the operator is correctly using the OPC.

We ask you to protect yourself and your co-workers by thinking ahead, following the rules and doing it the right way every time. Following safety rules and procedures is the best way to protect our most valuable resource – YOU.