Be Your Own Safety Manager

Quick quiz:

  1. True or False: Your employer is responsible for providing a safe workplace.
  2. True or False: Your employer is 100% responsible when someone gets hurt on the job.
  3. True or False: There is nothing you can do when you feel unsafe at work.
  4. True or False: If you are a temporary worker, workplace safety rules and trainings do not apply to you.

Ready for the answers?

  1. TRUE.  Your employer IS responsible for providing a safe workplace.  This includes, but is not limited to, maintaining equipment, providing a clean and safe environment, maintaining climate when possible (or providing adequate breaks when climate challenges exist), providing or recommending proper PPE, providing training and clearly outlining safe workplace protocols.
  2. FALSE.  The key phrase here is “100% responsible.”  While employers that take safety seriously and take all of the necessary steps to provide a safe work environment are still held accountable when accidents happen, they cannot be held 100% responsible.  Employers that provide safe working conditions and detailed safety programs are counting on one thing:  that their employees follow them.  Imagine a worker that trips on a piece of equipment that is left in an aisle.  One might first blame the employer for an unsafe set up that causes a trip and fall risk.  But what if we learned that the piece of equipment was a tool box carelessly left in the aisle by another employee, and what if we learned that the employee that tripped and fell was running through the production area while looking at his/her phone?  Do we still feel that the employer is 100% responsible?  Of course not!
  3. FALSE.  Since 9-11, safety and security in our country’s airports, public gathering areas and even schools have repeatedly encouraged citizens that if they “see something” they should “say something.”  The workplace is no different.  If you see something unsafe at work, TELL someone like a supervisor or shift leader, a safety manager, or, if you are temporary employee, your contact at the staffing company.  Front-line workers are the eyes and ears of a business and quality employers count on workers to alert them of any safety concerns on the job.  In addition, OSHA has laws set up to protect the rights of workers when they are being denied access to a safe workplace or are asked to ignore safety concerns.
  4. FALSE.  FALSE.  (FALSE.) OSHA has stepped up its enforcement associated with the 2013 Temporary Worker Initiative to protect temporary employees from workplace hazards.  OSHA has emphasized that temporary workers must receive the same protection as other employees covered under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, and should receive the same safety and hazard recognition training that all permanent employees receive.  As a temporary employee, you should be treated like any other employee when it comes to safety trainings, job duties, personal protective equipment (PPE) and the like.  In some cases, your staffing company may actually need to FURTHER restrict you from certain activities that their own worker’s compensation insurer won’t allow.  (These things vary, but often include things like lifting restrictions, repetitive activities and height restrictions.)  Any conversation you have regarding a safety concern with your supervisor at a client site should absolutely also be shared with your contact at the staffing company.  Do not count on the client to share your concern with your staffing company.  Your staffing company contact is your advocate (AND YOUR EMPLOYER) and also shares the responsibility with the client to make sure you are safe on the job.

Always tell your staffing company contact if you are being asked to do things outside of your job description that you feel may put you or the staffing company in a risky situation.  For example, you are hired as a warehouse worker to pack and lift boxes weighing 25 pounds or less.  When you arrive on the job, you are told that the boxes you will be moving weigh in excess of 50 pounds and that you may be asked to drive a fork lift.  In situations like this, you need to contact the staffing company immediately and clarify what you were hired to do and what you are allowed to do.  Let your staffing company contact handle the conversation with your supervisor if what you were hired to do isn’t what you are being asked to do.  (Please note that we are talking about additional or different responsibilities that could put you at risk, not about being asked to sweep the floor during downtime or something simple that is expected of someone that is a team player in making sure the workplace stays clean.)

Workplace safety is everyone’s obligation.  Do your part to keep yourself and your co-workers safe on the job!

An award-winning staffing expert in Southeastern Wisconsin in manufacturing, clerical, professional and light industrial placements, Nissen Staffing Continuum is proud of our commitment not only to safety, but to your career growth and development.  As your advocate, we can help you find a great job and grow in your career.  For more information about how we can help you, contact us today !

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