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News > COMMENTARY: Work place safety: What does it mean to you?
COMMENTARY: Work place safety: What does it mean to you?

Posted 6/4/2009   Updated 6/4/2009 Email story   Print story


by Senior Airman Kaylyn Crane
65th Comptroller Squadron

6/4/2009 - LAJES FIELD, Azores -- What does work place safety mean to you? Well that depends on the job you do and where you work. Flight line safety or working outdoors is going to be different than working strictly in an office environment. No matter where you work though you always want to be aware of your surroundings to stay safe. For most people, they will spend at least some amount of time in an office setting to use a computer or phone. Because of this, I am going to put a greater emphasize on the "office" for workplace safety, and then touch on some flight line safety.

Each year in the United States approximately 76,000 fractures, dislocations, sprains, strains, and contusions occur at the workplace. The leading types of accidents in the office are: falls, strains & overexertion, struck by or striking objects, and caught in or between objects. Other things that could happen are spilling hot liquids on yourself and burns from fire and electric shock. Posted in this article are some helpful safety tips for the workplace (such as how to manually lift items, electrical safety, etc).

Of reportable injuries, 25% are caused by manual handling. These injuries often are a result of mishandling items over a period of time and not due to a single event. When moving heavy items, consider using a trolley (or something similar) to keep the strain off your body so you don't get injured. If you do have to manually lift something first take the time to make sure that your path is free from any obstacles so you don't trip. When picking up (or setting down) your load, bend your knees and keep your back as straight as possible to avoid twisting your spine. When carrying the object try and keep it close to your body and if it is too heavy don't be afraid to ask for assistance.

Another thing to watch for in the office is electrical safety. A simple visual inspection of portable electrical appliances (computers, TVs, printers, etc) can ensure the risk of being injured is greatly reduced. When inspecting the equipment look for exposed wires, twisting or cuts to the cable, loose screws, bent pins and hand made efforts to fix broken cords. If a piece of electrical equipment is broken or seems broken, call an electrician and don't try to fix it yourself. Also make sure new electrical equipment is installed correctly to prevent electrical shocks.

Some other general things to keep in mind are to keep your work area clean of debris and cords; this will prevent trips and falls. Keep filing cabinets closed so an unaware person doesn't trip or hit their head, and use the handle to close drawers so you don't get your fingers smashed. Make sure to sit in your chair properly so your back is supported and take breaks from staring at the computer screen to prevent eye strain and tension. No matter where you work, make sure you know what to do in the event of an emergency to prevent panic and further injury.

If you work on the flight line then there are a couple different things to be aware of. Despite how focused you are on a task, you should always maintain an awareness of your surroundings as things are often changing and moving around. Also if there's a checklist to follow for your job it's a good idea to use it and not try to remember the process. Otherwise you could miss something important and compromise not only your safety but the safety of everyone around you. Checklists in general were implemented to avoid creating a problem/safety hazard that previously occurred, so in a way it's like passing on knowledge to those with less experience. Lastly, you should not be on the flight line if you don't belong there unless you have permission and know what to look out for.

In the end, no matter where you work the key goal for everyone is to stay safe. So follow the rules in place and keep your eyes open to prevent un-necessary injury to yourself or fellow Airman.

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