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Environmental Health and Safety Blog | EHSWire

Employee “Wellness” – not just for work!

Posted by Shivi Kakar

Jul 5, 2010 1:00:31 AM

As a site Health and Safety Officer (HSO) I spend my time looking for safety issues on construction and hazardous waste sites. My entire day is spent trying to keep workers safe and to send them home the same way they came to work in the morning. I may be checking fire extinguishers and power cords one day and checking for OSHA and site safety plan compliance the next.

  • Are the crews using proper lifting techniques?

  • Are they using the ladders properly?

  • Are they wearing eye protection?

  • Are hazardous or flammable materials being stored properly?

Absenteeism is costly to American employers whether it is caused by an illness or injury on or off the job. As a result, there is a growing trend among employers to create “Wellness Programs” aimed at keeping their employees healthy so that they will return to work each day and remain productive.  

Employers can give you the information and training, but it’s up to the individual to implement the practices. So, as the good weather is upon us, and we start working on our home projects and working around the yard let's take a minute and think about our safe work practices at home:

  • Are the gasoline containers stored properly?

  • Are we using the safe ladder practices we are accustom to using at work?

  • Are we wearing eye protection while mowing, sawing or running the weed eater?

  • And, what about hearing protection while running the chain saw?

These are common practices at work that somehow become uncommon at home.  I came home the other day to find a fire truck and ambulance at the neighbor’s home. It seems he was on a ladder, pressure washing his siding on his home, and leaned out too far instead of moving the ladder. The resulting fall left him with broken ribs and an injured back. He works in the construction industry and told me he knew better than to lean out that far while being that high on the ladder.  Yet, there he was – injured!

We all get complacent at home perhaps because we are most comfortable there.  Take a moment and think about the task at hand and the worst thing that could happen before starting.

  • Check your home for household chemicals that are old and need to be disposed of. Most counties have a household chemicals waste day where you can dispose of your chemicals and paints properly.

  • Check your home fire extinguishers for proper charging. Make sure the pressure gauge is in the green.

  • Shake your dry chemical fire extinguisher well once a year so the powder doesn’t solidify on the bottom. 

  • Do a mental job hazard assessment before starting a project so you don’t become a at home injury statistic.

We do all these things at work automatically so let’s do the same at home!

The concept of Employee Wellness Programs (both on and off the job) has strong support from the country’s leading health and safety organizations:  American Society of Safety Engineers,  the American Industrial Hygiene Association,  and the American Association of Occupational Health Nurses. The National Safety Council has an entire section on their website dedicated to home safety.

Do you practice home safety?  Have you considered applying workplace safety training and practices at home?  Have you ever considered if you can afford to be out of work due to a preventable injury you sustained while power washing your house?

Topics: Personal Protective Equipment, health and safety, General Industry H&S, Construction H&S, H&S Training, Respiratory, water safety

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