10 Steps to prevent work accidents

A woman injured on her chick.

Until the beginning of the seventeenth century, practically everything was produced in the home by the family and their servants.

There were no big factories and complicated transportation systems. Work-related accidents were minimal when compared with today.

However, with the advent of machines for mass production and transportation, moved at first by powerful steam engines and later by gasoline engines or electric motors, hazards increased and so did serious accidents. 

The wretched and hazardous conditions to which many industrial workers were subjected in those days became notorious. 

Even women and children worked long hours to the point of exhaustion—increasing accidents. 

Blinded by selfishness and greed, many employers gave little thought to safety precautions

In time, many governments and businesses began to recognize how harmful work and traffic accidents were to their communities. 

Economic setbacks through loss of working hours, medical bills and damage to property and merchandise, besides adverse psychological effects, made action imperative.

Insurance companies, of course, are also very interested in reducing accidents

Accordingly, they have made available printed material, posters, films and other types of publicity for educational safety campaigns. 

Recognizing the importance of cooperating with such campaigns, individual firms have done their part by establishing committees or departments in charge of safety and accident prevention. 

Many of them also provide safety shoes and devices such as hand protectors and equipment to protect the hearing, the sight and the face. 

Then, too, special accident-prevention courses have been sponsored in order to make people more safety-conscious.

This extensive concern on the part of the authorities illustrates how big the problem has become and how much pain, sorrow and damage could be avoided if all of us showed genuine interest in our own welfare and that of others. 

However, all of this may make learning the “safety rules” sound complicated. 

Really the principles are few and easily learned. 

Let’s consider what you can do to improve drastically your chances of avoiding an accident.

10 Steps to prevent work accidents

Since statistics show that work-related accidents are the most common, here are a few safety rules that will be helpful to workers in industry, transportation systems, agriculture and, especially, to those in the construction trades, who are the most frequent victims of serious work accidents:

1. Take your work seriously. Lack of attention, horseplay, the taking of chances, and the running of risks for thrills could cost you your life.

2. Strictly obey safety rules and make use of all personal protective equipment recommended for your job. Do not think that using it is unnecessary or ridiculous.

3. Train yourself in the six steps of safe weight lifting: 

(a) Keep feet apart—one alongside, one behind the object. 

(b) Keep back straight, almost vertical. 

(c) Tuck chin in. 

(d) Grip the object with both hands. 

(e) Tuck elbows and arms in. 

(f) Keep your body directly over your feet, using your leg muscles to do the lifting.

4. Whenever you have to work in an isolated place, offering potential safety hazards, make sure that you are accompanied by others or are within shouting distance of them.

5. Recognize hazards ahead of time by being observant, alert and familiar with safety standards and with the properties of the materials that you have to handle.

6. Any equipment of critical importance to the safe performance of your job should be checked each time that it is to be used. Never presume anything. Machines are governed by natural laws, not by intelligent reasoning.

7. Avoid riding devices designed to lift or transport only cargo.

8. Make a habit of good housekeeping: Clean up any spills immediately. 

Keep tools in their proper place. Also, all solvent-soaked rags should be disposed of in airtight metal receptacles.

9. Cleaning, repairing, adjusting and most lubricating of machines should be done with all power sources and valves shut off. 

Only authorized workers should have access to power sources.

10. Guards on the machine are for your protection; therefore, never leave them off while operating. 

Always keep in mind that loose clothing or long hair can very easily get caught in machines.

Your personal share of responsibility

Of course, many other “do’s” and “don’t’s” could be added to these lists.

But these points are sufficient to illustrate basic principles; they are not meant to restrict you to the point of losing the joy of work

If you apply them, they can make you more safety-conscious. 

Safety rules only become meaningful when people believe in them. 

As long as you think: ‘It won’t happen to me,’ you are a potential victim.”