The Basics

THE BASICS OF WORK SAFETY

Getting hurt on the job can cost you money, a career, your health or even your life. Fortunately, most workplace accidents are pretty easy to avoid. Here are five things that should keep you from becoming another young worker statistic.

Know your rights.

If you work for a company or an individual, you get to expect certain treatment from your employer. It’s state law. Safety training, appropriate safety gear, a safe floor to walk on – these are just a few of your employer’s responsibilities. Hold her to it. And if your workplace isn’t safe and your boss won’t address it, find a different job. The paycheck isn’t worth the risk.

Ask questions.

Has your boss ever told you to do something, without being totally clear about what it is you’re supposed to do? Have you ever used a piece of equipment you weren’t really trained to use? Well, don’t do it again. Any employer worth working for wants you to be safe and do the job right. Asking questions can ensure that both happen. In most cases, the best way to impress the boss isn’t by stretching your skills, it’s by applying them well and safely.

Follow the rules.

Okay, some rules are a pain. But, “Here, wear this hard hat” or “Don’t stand on the top step of the ladder” … (you know, the sticker that reads THIS IS NOT A STEP!), those aren’t so hard to follow. So do it. Don’t know the safety rules? Ask someone. Then be sure to follow them, every work hour, every work day. Safety rules aren’t meant to bug you. They’re written by people who genuinely want to keep you from getting hurt.

Get schooled on equipment.

Your employer is required by law to give you training on any piece of equipment. But you might have to ask for it. So be honest. Don’t say you’ve operated a grain auger if you’ve only seen one being operated. Remember, you’re a “young worker.” No one’s going to blame you for not being fully trained. And look at it this way: when you’re done, that’s one more skill you can put on your résumé for your next job.

Be alert.

Unless you’re a complete Jackass, workplace injuries are accidents. In other words, you don’t see them coming. But you can be alert. Think. Think about what you’re doing. With each task, remember what to watch for. Keep an eye out for your co-worker’s safety. If you see something dangerous, stop. Put everything on hold for a few minutes. Speak up. Get it corrected, and move on.