How many close calls have you had at work? How many potential accidents have you seen that were within an inch of happening but by some lucky chance didn’t? Don’t get too comfortable with the fact that these close calls were incidents instead of accidents; instead consider that they were warnings.
When you view a close call as a warning, it can help you prevent actual workplace injuries. By being proactive, you not only save your employer money but you could also save your coworkers’ lives and limbs.
Common Causes of Close Calls:
- Unclean floors with debris that can cause trips and falls. This could include chemical or grease spills, puddled water, ragged carpeting, chipped or uneven tiles, and tools left on the floor.
- Employees rushing to finish a project in order to go home or meet a deadline and not observing precautions that might slow them down.
- Lifting without wearing weight belts.
- Not wearing safety gear like goggles and gloves.
Many of the above activities are the result of carelessness. Although you might not want to report the person responsible for careless action, it is vital to the safety of your entire workplace that you confront any offenders and, if necessary, report the incident.
If you see the unsafe action being perpetrated by an employee or group of employees, talk to them about your concerns. Be sure to do so in a neutral area and not while they are engaged in a dangerous activity. Do not put yourself at risk in order to talk to them and approach them as a concerned coworker, not as an outraged potential victim. If they continue to act in an unsafe manner or if you do not want to confront them, talk to a supervisor.
If the unsafe environment is out of your or another employee’s control and is, instead, a structural or procedural problem, do not work in the area until safety has been observed and the situation corrected. Your employer has an obligation to provide a safe workplace for you. If you have damaged safety gear, or if an area of your workplace has become unsafe, notify management and let them know you will be unable to continue working until the issue has been addressed.
The Bureau of Labor and Statistics recorded a total of 4 million nonfatal workplace accidents and injuries in 2007. That doesn’t consider the amount of close calls that might have gone unreported prior to the injuries. It’s more than possible that these accidents and illnesses could have been avoided if someone had been proactive after a close call.