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The Ten Commandments of Safety for You and Your Employees

Originally created by the Minnesota Safety Council for publication in the Minnesota Counties Insurance Trust publication Wellspring. Used with permission.

Developing and following everyday safety habits can keep you and your employees injury-free throughout the year. Here are 10 safety habits to live by:

1. Follow the rules.
Wear the required protective equipment, follow all safety rules, and encourage others to do the same. Safety committee members and management should realize they are role models. Supervisors must enforce the rules as well.

2. Allow only qualified individuals to operate equipment.
Supervisors should make sure that only trained and authorized employees operate fork trucks, heavy equipment and machinery. Employees should be made aware of what equipment is off limits without authorization.

3. Respect machinery and equipment.
Make sure guards are always in place and used. When maintenance must be performed on machinery or equipment, lockout-tagout procedures must be followed to de-energize the power before placing hands, etc., in the point of operation.

4. Use your own initiative for safety protection.
You are in the best position to see problems when they arise. Correct them as soon as possible. Treat OSHA standards as minimums. Set your own standards higher.

5. Ask questions.
If you are uncertain, ask. Do not accept answers that contain, "I think, I guess, I assume." Encourage your employees to ask safety and health-related questions and be sure to get answers for them.

6. Use care and caution when lifting.
Most back strains/injuries result from improper lifting. First determine if the lift can be eliminated. If not, be sure to use proper lifting procedures—no matter how large or small the item. The few extra minutes it takes to lift properly and to get help for heavy loads will prevent pain and injury. Follow these general lifting rules:
  • Keep the load close.
  • Keep your upper body vertical.
  • Stagger your stance for stability.
  • Lift using your legs—not your back.
  • Lead with your foot—not your upper body.
7. Practice good housekeeping.
Disorganized work areas are the breeding grounds for accidents. When done well, housekeeping can reduce incidents, improve morale, and increase productivity. Liquids or material that could create slippery floors or obstruct access to equipment or exits should be cleaned up promptly. Housekeeping should be considered a part of day-to-day responsibilities—not just an extra task.

8. Wear PPE and sensible work clothes.
Always wear the required personal protective equipment (PPE). Wear sturdy and appropriate footwear when safety shoes are not required. Avoid loose clothing and dangling jewelry. Be sure long hair is tied back and cannot become entangled in machinery. Remember, PPE is not a substitute for eliminating hazards. Use engineering and administrative controls when feasible. Engineering controls include ventilation, substitution of safer materials, automation, sound absorption, etc.

9. Practice good personal hygiene.
Avoid touching eyes, face, and mouth with gloves or hands that are dirty.Wash up before eating, drinking or smoking or after removing gloves. Not only will the chance of ingesting the contaminant be reduced, but also the possibility of skin disorders. The frequency of occupational skin diseases is directly related to personal hygiene. Skin problems such as dermatitis result not only in an "illness," but also personal misery and lost productivity.

10. Be a positive part of the safety team.
Your positive attitude can play a major role in the prevention of accidents and injuries. You will also find that it is contagious.

Do You Know Your ABCs?

Safety is more than just following rules. Safety is a combination of attitude, behavior and control. Attitude refers to your frame of mind; the way you approach a problem, as we just mentioned in the 4th and 10th commandments. A safe attitude means staying alert and focused on the job at hand. Take safety rules and procedures seriously. Do not let anger and frustration get in the way of doing your job safely.

Behavior means what you do about a situation—how you react to it. Follow the rules, as described in the first commandment. A safe behavior means following the rules out of habit, not enforcement, such as putting on your seat belt before driving your car.

Control refers to making your surroundings safe Keep work areas clean and orderly as described in the 7th commandment. Keep machines in good repair and make sure walkways are free from obstacles. Store chemicals properly. When feasible try and eliminate the hazard as mentioned in the 6th and 8th commandments. And last but not least, train your employees in safe work procedures.

Safety is everyone's responsibility. Use common sense and follow these guidelines to create a safer you and a safer work environment.
© Copyright 2019 Minnesota Safety Council. All rights reserved.