There are some very basic safety percautions that need to be undertaken regardless of the type of work environment that exists.
Personal Safety Equipment
- Hard hats to provide protection from falling objects and from moving objects at ground level.
- Safety googles to safeguard the eyes from dust or other debri, which can cause permanent eye damage. If performing welding then additional protection needs to be used to prevent internal eye damage.
- Work gloves, to protect the hands from cuts, crush injuries, chemicals, and electricity. Obviously the type of gloves used should be related to the type of work being carried out. For example, for chemical related work the gloves should be made of thick plastic and be resistant to the chemical being used.
- Steel toed safety boots or shoes, to protect the toes and feet from crush injuries or from sharp objects on the ground. If performing electrical work the type of boots worn should also provide relative protection.
- Brightly colored vests to increase visibility from machine operators and from other workers.
- Hearing protection to protect from loud noises, which can cause immediate damage and hearing loss, or from constant noise, which can lead to tone deafness.
- Breathing barriers to protect from lung damage from dust, fumes, or chemicals. There are different types of breathing barriers, and the ones used need to offer adequate protection from the type of work being carried out. For example, a thin plastic mask over the mouth and nose will not provide adequate protection from gases.
General Safety Equipment
- A first aid kit: well stocked, and checked regularly to replace used up supplies. The kit should be clearly visible and should never be locked up. Everyone should know where it is.
- A first aid manual as a reference.
- A fire extinguisher: there are different types based on the material it will be used on, make sure this is investigated first. There should be at least one extinguisher for every work area or for every room. It needs to be clearly visible and everyone should be shown how to use it. The extinguisher also needs to be checked monthly to make sure the charge is in the correct position, and replaced if there is a problem or if it is used.
- A landline phone available only for emergency calls.
- An information sheet by the phone with instructions on how to get help, including directions to the location of the site.
- An eye was station.
- A body wash station if working with chemicals.
- MSDS: Material Safety Data Sheet for information on all chemicals on the site, even things like paint thinner should have an MSDS.
- All sources of electricity must be disconnected at the source. Only certified electricians should be working with electricity.
- If there is risk of falling objects steps must be taken to prevent this.
- At least 1 of every 4 workers, with a minimum of 2 workers, should be trained in first aid & CPR.
- Outdoor work should be discontinued during an electrical/lightning, or heavy rain, which increases the risk of slipping and falling storm.
- If a worker has a medical condition this should be made known to at least 2 other workers. If medication is taken the other 2 workers should know where it is kept and what it’s for.
First Aiders In The Workplace
All employers, regardless of the environment, are responsible for making sure that any injured worker will receive immediate and adequate first aid treatment. First aid is not limited to minor cuts and scrapes, it can also include dealing with severe injuries and illnesses, as well as heart attacks and strokes. In order to be able to accomplish this the employer must make sure that enough people, in every work area (e.g. floor of a building) are trained in first aid. Several people must be trained to accommodate absentism, workers being on vacation, turn over of staff, and the risk of the trained first aider also requiring assistance.
The employer is responsible for providing safe and adequate transportation of an injured worker to medical facilities. Pending on the situation this may mean calling an ambulance, or in minor non-lifethreatening situations, arranging for a taxi. Employers must also have a method of reporting and collecting accident information, and this collection must be surrendered to authorities if requested, and to government health and safety inspectors.
The employer is responsible for maintaining adequate first aid supplies in the form of a first aid kit on site at all times. If it is a large work area they should also have a first aid room. A competent worker, or a group of workers if it is a large environment, should be made responsible for assuring first aid kits are maintained, but the ultimate responsibility rests on the employer.
First Aid Kit Contents
- Rescue breathing masks, which reduces the chance of disease transmission if rescue breathing is administered. A Bag Valve Mask is another option, but requires additional training.
- Gloves for the rescuer incase there is bodily fluids in the area, again, to reduce the chance of disease transmission. Ideally non-latex gloves are best because some people may be alergic to lates.
- Trangular bandages, which are used to tie things together, e.g. for arm slings, for bleeding, or for splints.
- Sterile dressings of various sizes. These are used to control severe bleeding.
- Bandages for minor cuts or scrapes.
- A few sugar cubes or sugar sacks incase someone is diabetic and suffers from hypoglycemia.
- Aspirin incase of a heart attack. More is discussed in a first aid course about this issue.
- Scissors incase clothing needs to be cut.
- Tweezers for removing non-serious splinters from the skin. They should never be used to remove anything from the eyes or the ears.
- Tensor bandages, which are ideal for wrapping a twisted joint until they reach the hospital – beware of not to restrict blood flow as this can lead to further injury.
- Portable oxygen may also be considered, but requires additional training and may be flammable in inappropriate conditions.
- A defibrillator, again, additional training is required. This machine is vital for heart attack victims.
- If there is a first aid room there should also be a bed, stretcher, and a wheel chair.
- If someone has a specific medical condition they should always have their own medications with them at all times.
- Medicine (with the exception of Aspirin), anything with needles, etc., should not be kept in a first aid kit. This type of thing is above the training of first aiders.