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Eliminating Production Floor HazardsBasic common sense and health and safety regulations agree that obstacles are dangerous in the workplace. While all hazards are risky, items left on the floor have the greatest potential to cause an accident. To reduce the risk, production managers should systematically evaluate the causes of floor hazards and alternative storage solutions. Floor hazard risk assessment Before you can begin to reduce the risk of floor hazards, you need to identify and evaluate them. Many of the hazards will be clear, but making sure you thoroughly assess each one will save you time later on. Split the production line into sections and go through each section writing notes in two columns: hazards and potential hazards. In the areas column, write the sections of the production line you have created. In the hazards column, write hazards that are already there. In the potential hazards column, write anything in the area that might become a hazard once it is no longer being used. If your workplace is large, nominate a person in each area to fill out that section of the risk assessment. Once you've finished, you will have a comprehensive overview of potential problems on your production line, which is a great starting point for eliminating them!
Some areas to focus on when assessing floor hazards are:
- Access: Obstacles make access more difficult, and sometimes even dangerous. The risks are compounded by the fact that people tend to get stuck in accessways where there are obstacles. The number of people using an area is directly related to the level of risk, which is why obstacles in high traffic entranceways are the most dangerous hazards.
- Trip hazards: One fall in the workplace can lead to a list of legal problems that nobody wants to confront. Anything on the floor, particularly cabling or work-related materials that often accumulate, are serious risks.
- Materials hazards: Some materials and types of equipment are serious safety hazards, particularly if the materials are combustible or the equipment relates to industrial safety issues. Putting some materials in the wrong places can also be a breach of industrial safety regulations.
- Safety and emergency exits: Anything that obstructs an emergency exit is not only dangerous but illegal. Even a simple food wrapper on the floor is a breach of safety regulations as it could cause someone to fall while using the exit. Blocking an emergency exit with floor obstacles is a serious offence that often ends in prosecution.
- Busy work zones and temporary floor obstacles: Although these areas are usually kept clear by those using them, the fact is that the busier an area is, the less clutter you want. Even temporary floor obstacle can be real trouble.
- Training: Ensure all users of the floor are aware of the requirement to keep it free of obstacles. Spend time going over exactly what is expected and reiterate that it is their legal obligation to comply. Use training to ensure that workers are not bringing any materials onto the floor without knowing exactly where it will be stored.
- Make a schedule...and stick to it: A schedule will let everyone know what needs to be done and when, as well as making sure someone is accountable if those things aren't done. The schedule should assign each job to a single person and include someone each day to make sure everything has been done at the end.
- Delegate a person to keep an eye on the problem: Once you have your schedule made, you will know who is in charge of each aspect of the cleanup. You should also delegate someone to be in charge of keeping the schedule updated and being a point of contact for employees. This could be your OHS person or someone senior who is aware of OHS issues in detail.
- Check for any temporary floor hazards: Cables and mobile equipment are common temporary hazards that must be guarded against. Areas must be fully secure and no risk to foot traffic or industrial vehicle movement. Any cables that need to trail across the floor should be covered with a cable cover - even if they are only there temporarily.
- Provide proper storage: Make sure your workers know where to return items when they are done, whether that's putting machinery back or stacking boxes in a certain place. Storage isn't just important for tools, too. Bins are important for keeping floors clear, as they provide storage for rubbish and mess. Lastly, make sure all storage units are clearly signposted, so workers still follow your regulations when you aren't there to guide them.