Factories are hazardous areas, regardless of the products they make. If you are an employee who earns a living in an industrial setup in California, you have likely experienced near misses on numerous occasions -- or was the last one not a near miss but an actual workplace accident that left you injured and unable to return to work? Employers are responsible for the health and safety of their workers, but many of them prioritize profits, leaving employees to fend for themselves.
Safety advocates say specific hazards are prevalent in almost all industrial facilities, and although there will always be a chance of an industrial accident happening, most incidents are preventable. Authorities further advise that continuously being on the lookout for hazardous situations may prevent the need for disaster planning at a later stage.
Safety hazards you will likely face every day
Although the integral risks in each factory may be unique, the following are typical industrial hazards you may encounter:
- Working at heights: Your employer must ensure that all elevated walkways and platforms have guardrails and that you have fall protection whenever you work at raised levels. Furthermore, without proper training in the use of a fall harnesses and the appropriate anchoring techniques, fall protection will be of no use.
- Negligent housekeeping: Trips and slips can lead to traumatic injuries, and random objects standing around are often the cause. Blocked walkways, emergency exits, and electrical circuit boards along with overloaded shelves or haphazard stacking can cause life-changing injuries. Uncleaned spills are equally dangerous.
- Inappropriate use of extension cords: Your life could be in danger if your employer allows multiple extension cords to snake across the floor. Not only is it a potential electrical fire hazard due to overloading the circuits, but you can trip over them, and in heavy traffic areas, feet and forklifts can wear off the insulation.
- Forklift hazards: Forklifts are valuable tools to lighten the workload and save time. However, forklift accidents frequently follow misuse. Taking shortcuts to speed up the process can be deadly. This includes speeding, overloading the fork or being in too much of a rush to ensure a balanced load. Neglecting forklift maintenance can also have devastating consequences.
- Deactivate power with lockout/tagout devices: All equipment must be equipped with lockout/tagout devices to prevent accidental contact with moving machine parts. Never neglect to take those few steps to the safety device to save minute or two. Too many workers had lost limbs or lives when they tried to remove a jam or clean a machine without de-energizing it.
- Hazardous chemicals: The dangers posed by chemicals involve storage and inventory along with safe use. Each chemical on the premises must have a label and appear in the inventory indicating its expiry date, and no outdated chemicals must remain in storage. The transfer of one chemical into another container can be deadly if you do not have the necessary knowledge and experience.
- Confined areas: This final hazard might be the deadliest of all the industrial workplace dangers. There are strict regulations regarding working in confined spaces. This involves risk assessment and obtaining permits. Never enter a confined space without measuring atmospheric conditions and wearing a respirator if necessary.
Being vigilant and never becoming complacent may keep you safe. However, in the unfortunate event of a workplace accident, the California workers' compensation insurance will provide financial assistance to cover medical expenses and lost income. You might find the claims process intimidating, but legal counsel is available to provide guidance.