OSHA recognizes the “Three Lines of Defense” as a way of thinking about and applying specific actions to reduce or eliminate potential exposures to identified hazards. This is a commonly used and understood practice within the safety community. It begins with eliminating hazards and ends with utilizing personal protective equipment.
As noted, personal protection equipment (PPE) is the last line of defense. Lack of appropriate PPE can and does cause many on-the-job injuries. Hazard assessments must be performed to determine what PPE may be needed for each job. Do you have a current PPE hazard assessment for each job in your facility? If so, do you require employees to wear PPE anywhere from head to toe (head hazards, eye and face hazards, respiratory hazards, hearing hazards, hand and arm hazards, foot and leg hazards and any other body hazards.)
Even the best protected worker is at risk for heat stress if they are not properly hydrated. Dehydration can lead to a variety of heat related-illnesses. Having accessible hydration equipment or watering stations is necessary. Make sure that your employees are aware of the dangers of heat stress and heat related illnesses and prevention.
Hazard Communication – Chemical Awareness
Most plants have hazardous chemicals on site. Properly handling and managing these chemicals is essential. Employees must know and understand the dangers these chemicals pose. This can be accomplished by means of a hazard communication program, labels, and other forms of warning−safety data sheets, and information and training.
Communication is the key to any successful safety plan. Many workplace accidents can be traced back to a lapse in communication somewhere along the line. This might be onsite communication between workers. It may be poor communication between management and the employees responsible for carrying out tasks. It may also be a shortcoming in knowing where things are around the facility, or how they should be handled.
Products that employees handle should always be properly labeled. This is especially true for items that have specific handling instructions, such as chemicals or other hazardous materials. Other items that might require special labeling are heavy loads, fragile products, or those with special lifting instructions.
Also, be sure that the facility itself has all the necessary signage in place. Are all areas that require the use of PPE identified? Are all of the emergency exits highlighted? Are the eyewash stations identified? These are all examples of effective safety communication.
Keep It Clean
Lastly, proper housekeeping helps reduce the potential for slips, trips and falls. You may not think of a mop and bucket as a safety hazard until someone slips on a freshly mopped floor. Clutter on the floor can obstruct walkways, block exits or cause a worker to trip. Housekeeping is a broad term that refers to the routine maintenance and upkeep of a workplace. Good workplace housekeeping reduces injuries and accidents, improves morale, reduces fire potential and can even make operations more efficient.
The information contained in this publication is intended for general information purposes only and is based on information available as of the initial date of publication. No representation is made that the information or references are complete or remain current. This publication is not a substitute for review of the current applicable government regulations and standards specific to your location and business activity, and should not be construed as legal advice or opinion. Readers with specific questions should refer to the applicable standards or consult with an attorney.