In honor of National Safety Month, SiteHawk provides an inside look at safety on the workplace floor with guest blogger, Duncan Eric Scrimpshire.
As an EHS professional with over 35 years of experience in the industry, I’ve seen a lot—a lot of incidents, a lot of change and a lot of paperwork. I’ve filled out thousands of reports, thumbed through hundreds of SDSs and sweated as I took an OSHA representative through my facility.
All that to say… I understand.
I understand how incredible the job can seem. I understand the anxiety of inventories and the panic when you receive word of an accident involving your team. I also understand how absolutely essential your job is to drive operational excellence in your corporation. In honor of National Safety Month, I’d like to offer 5 tips that I learned along the way that help make this impossible job a little more… possible.
Know what you have. Use National Safety Month as an annual reminder to conduct a full physical inventory.
Inventories can be cumbersome and time consuming, but they are absolutely essential to establishing a safe working environment. Employers must know what is on site to know how to maintain compliance with reporting requirements, educate employees and provide adequate protection equipment/training in facilities. Engaging inventory services professionals like SiteHawk helps alleviate the burden and provides a solid foundation for safety in compliance in your facility.
Be aware of your surroundings.
Facilities can span acres. Granular information about the presence of chemicals and potential hazards is necessary to mitigate risk in the workplace. For instance, it’s not enough to know that asbestos is on site. You need to know where it is on site and what other chemicals or hazards are nearby. SiteHawk delivers a chemical area interface that does just that. Using an online tool, you can assign materials to a chemical area and take a snapshot of that area, arming yourself with the information needed to evaluate the area for any risk involved with chemicals. In addition, the material approval feature provides a gatekeeper so you can monitor what comes into each chemical area, keeping you aware of what your workers are exposed to and how to keep them safe.
Use the right tools and PPE.
Enforcing the use of proper PPE is not only vital for employee safety, but also protects the surrounding environment. Keep the proper handling tools and PPE available at all times and designate them to associated areas (First Aid and shower stations should also be readily available). National Safety Month is a great time to retrain employees on the use of PPE. For me at times, workers felt silly or “too cool for school” when instructed to wear PPE, but this was one point on which I never budged. After holding classes on PPE and protocol, any employee spotted misusing or not using PPE was instructed to attend another PPE class before returning to his task. With SiteHawk, employers can include a list of required PPE and handling tools on customized safety cards and labels to increase visibility with this crucial information.
Check the SDS before handling or disposing chemicals.
Safety Data Sheets are provided to help workers know how to reduce risk and maintain a safe environment. Use them. Workers have a right to know about chemical hazards and employers must provide unlimited access to SDS documents in their facilities. When a facility has several binders of SDS documents, accessing one piece of information on the right document during an emergency situation is not easily accomplished—and can lead delay effective First Aid or adequate medical care. SiteHawk’s QuickSEARCH is one of the fastest and most user-friendly search engines in the industry; users can access safety information for any material in the facility in just a couple clicks. In addition, mobile features like QRy provide tools to access data from mobile phone or tablets by scanning a code (I never thought I would see that kind of technology during my career!), providing quick access to SDS data when its needed most.
Don’t take chances with procedures. Stay up to date.
There are no shortcuts in this game. In the modern business trends of mergers and acquisitions, products (and the substances that make their way into products) change often. As products change, so do the hazards and precautions associated with them. Keeping track of new chemical data and SDS documents is an insurmountable challenge, especially when SDS management is only part of your daily responsibilities. Chemical data management solutions like SiteHawk help organizations automate compliance and updates to safety information by providing standard update and verification services that proactively check your SDSs to make certain they are current; they contact manufacturers on your behalf to obtain the most recent documents. As you receive new data, make sure that safety procedures are updated and workers are trained on the new information.
As an EHS professional, you are charged with the protection of your company’s greatest asset—its people. It is perhaps one of the greatest responsibilities to be entrusted with the safety and protection of workers, and it’s not an easy one. But I encourage you to brave the shifting waters and enlist a partner like SiteHawk. They are here to help you provides a safe and compliant workplace for you and your employees. You can explore SiteHawk’s products and services from the SiteHawk website.
Check out the National Safety Council’s website for National Safety Month for more information about events during National Safety Month.
Duncan “Eric” Scrimpshire served as an EHS professional for over 35 years in the manufacturing and oil & gas industries, working with leaders all over the world to drive safety and compliance for global corporations. Eric currently operates a home inspection business in Laurel, MS, and in his spare time, he enjoys fishing, hunting and spoiling his 7-year-old granddaughter.