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Is Training for Off-the-Job Safety Worthwhile?

Workplace Safety
by Heather Hunt
"Would it surprise you to know that fewer workers are injured or killed at work than away from work? In today’s Advisor, we’ll look at the reality and what trainers can do to protect workers on and off the job."

One study placed the off-the-job percentages at more than half as many injuries as on the job, with over two-thirds as many deaths as resulted from on-the-job accidents. Other statistics indicated more lost workdays resulting from away-from-work injuries.

Why Does This Matter?

True, off-the-job injuries do not affect a company’s insurance rate, or need to be recorded on OSHA Form 300 and add to a company’s accident experience statistics—which could result in unwanted inspections. But they do incur costs—for finding and hiring replacement workers, for example—and since these substitutes are probably not as familiar with the tasks, a production slowdown may occur, and morale can be affected as well. Therefore, this might well be of sufficient concern to companies that they would want to do something about it—for practical, bottom-line reasons as well as for humanitarian ones.


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What Can Be Done?

Formal training in most of the tasks involved in a company’s operations is already provided, either as an OSHA requirement or because of the good sense of managers and supervisors. The importance of safety is also likely to be reinforced by bulletin board notices or booklet handouts. So why not, at very little cost, emphasize off-the-job safety when providing training in activities likely to be engaged in away from work?

What to Emphasize

Many of the dangers that need to be avoided are the same at work or at home. So it makes sense to focus on those hazards. Here is training information for each hazard.

Motor Vehicle Safety. Vehicle-related accidents are the prime cause of fatalities both on the job and off. Stress to workers, and their families, this important advice :

  • Wear seat belts. Buckle up as soon as you are in the car.
  • Practice good driving habits. Obey speed limits and traffic signs; be alert to what is happening ahead of, behind, and next to your own vehicle; don’t tailgate; adjust to weather conditions.
  • Maintain your vehicle. Have all engine parts inspected regularly; check lights, fluids, and tire pressure; ensure maximum visibility by keeping windows clean and wipers in good condition.

Fire Safety. Fires are one of the two worst killers of people in their homes and certainly the most feared. Because they are of special on-the-job concern as well, many businesses participate in evacuation drills regularly. Expand these to include advice for fire safety at home, both how to prevent one, and what to do if one does occur:

  • Handle flammables carefully and store them safely; train children never to play with matches, lighters, etc.; never leave fireplace fires or in-use space heaters unattended.
  • Install smoke alarms, at least one on each floor, including the basement. Test regularly and replace batteries annually.
  • Place a fire extinguisher in the kitchen and possibly one elsewhere, such as near a fireplace or woodstove. Keep them in proper operating condition.
  • Place the fire department’s number near your phone. Consider programming it into your landline and cell phone.
  • Plan escape routes, including where to meet after leaving the building. Practice them annually.

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Falls. Falls are the other most frequently fatal home accident, but a little common sense could prevent most of them. For example:

  • Prevent slips, trips, and falls by making sure floors have nonskid surfaces or no-slip rugs and mats (include antislip protection inside bathtubs); clean up any spills promptly; don’t allow cords and cables to cross traffic paths.
  • Keep stairways uncluttered and well-lighted; walk, do not run, up and down; use handrails.
  • Use sturdy, well-maintained ladders or step stools, not furniture; follow the same rules for safe ladder use as you would at work.

In tomorrow’s Advisor, we’ll look at more off-the-job hazards—and we’ll explore an exciting and effective online safety training resource.

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