Having a job is a wonderful way to learn new skills, execute what you already know, and make money. There is important information you must have to confirm you are protecting yourself on the job. No job is worth the risk of getting hurt, losing a limb, or losing your life. Understanding you have rights and there are ways to protect yourself from the start is empowering.
Do you receive information at an orientation for your specific job? No mercy.
Employers have a responsibility to provide an orientation for all new employees. They are encouraged to provide specific training for the job a person is hired to fill. This includes safety information and procedures. The goal is to ensure every employee has information to help them stay safe while performing their job tasks.
If you are hired but then dive right into job tasks without any orientation or training, it is a risk. You may inadvertently get hurt or hurt someone else. It all depends on the scope of your job tasks and the type of business you work at. If you feel something should be provided, speak up and ask for such training. If they won’t provide it, this may not be a job you should undertake.
Who is your supervisor? Are they paying attention to safety? How do you report to them if you have concerns?
It is important to know who your supervisor is and how to reach them. They may be in their office or they may be out there on the floor of a business. You may have different supervisors depending on the shifts and days you work. In other scenarios, you will have the same person each time you work.
What are they doing to make sure everyone is safety-oriented? How are they enforcing the policies and regulations to ensure everyone is safe in the work environment? If you have concerns, what is the process? Do you have direct access to immediately talk to a supervisor to find a solution for the problem?
Knowing who you can talk to and where to find them in the event of a safety issue is important. Don’t hesitate to refuse to complete tasks where you feel there could be a harmful outcome to yourself or someone else. You can’t be fired or reprimanded for reporting such issues. If the supervisor won’t help, you can escalate your concerns under regulations and laws.
Does your job involve using safety equipment or any type of machinery? If so, have you been correctly trained on how to use those items and how to inspect them?
There are jobs where safety equipment is provided due to the risks of the job. If your job includes such equipment, have you been shown how to use it correctly? Have you been shown how to inspect those items for any signs of wear or damage? When there is machinery used as part of your job, have you been shown how to operate it? Is there an emergency stop button on the machinery you can easily reach if you need to?
Employers have the responsibility to provide such training and equipment. They have a responsibility to ensure the machinery is properly maintained. Safety equipment should offer the best protection available. Sometimes, the equipment is old and outdated, and there are better options the company should upgrade to using. If you are ever told to dive in and work on risky tasks or use machinery without proper training you should decline to do so.
Machinery should have guards on them to prevent someone from getting caught in them. Can you verify those safety measures are in place? How does the emergency stop work?
It only takes an instant for a limb to be damaged or taken off due to accidents involving machinery. The moving parts are quick, and if your body is in the wrong place, the outcome isn’t favourable. When you are trained to use such machinery in a place of business, the guards should be visible to you. If you don’t see them, ask why such safety precautions aren’t in place for your security. It isn’t a good idea to operate that machinery if you can see the guards are missing.
The emergency stop should be easily accessible in an instant. If you need to stop the machinery while operating it or when someone else is doing so, will it be easy to do so? Machinery without such an option is extremely risky. You are at the mercy of being able to reach the on/off switch and that isn’t always possible if you get caught up in the machinery. An outstanding employer knows what is at stake and they aren’t going to take any chances with your well-being.
What are the policies and procedures to report any emergencies that may occur on the job?
Part of the training provided to you should include policies and procedures to report any emergencies that may occur on the job. There have to be methods in place to avoid delays or chaos. If you aren’t given that information, you won’t know the best way to handle a situation if one arises. Time may be a priority, and precious minutes can be lost if the wrong methods are incorporated. Always ask for this information if it isn’t included in your training.
Were possible risks on the job shared with you?
Some jobs are full of hazards due to their nature while others have fewer possible risks involved. The potential hazards should be shared with you during the job interview if it is a high-risk situation. The information needs to be shared during the orientation and training phases. If the details aren’t brought up during the interview, this is a question you should ask at the end of the conversation. Those details can influence your decision to accept a job offer or not.
Are the best practices in place to protect against known hazards of the job?
When there are workplace hazards identified, what steps are in place to reduce those risks? Excellent employers are proud of the best practices they have in place. They closely monitor the situations and they implement updates when they can. They strive to keep the accident accounts low or non-existent. That isn’t due to luck, it is due to the preventative elements in place.
Those best practices should be shared with you during your training. If there is special safety equipment, time should be dedicated to showing you how to use it correctly. These best practices won’t serve their purpose if they aren’t implemented properly.
Will there be any potentially dangerous chemicals or materials on the job? If so, were you trained on how to use them correctly? Were you trained on safety precautions?
Exposure to harmful chemicals or materials is a risk you shouldn’t take for any job. There should be safety elements in place to safeguard you from exposure to them. They can be harmful to breathe in or if they come into contact with your skin. Gloves or other protective clothing may be required to work in those areas.
Any time your job requires you to work with chemicals or harmful materials, the employer should have detailed training for you. This ensures you know how to handle those elements and how to prevent them from coming into contact with your body or the air you breathe. The safety and training should include emergency procedures of what to do if there is such contact.
Were you given information on WHMIS and safety labels so you can read them correctly?
It is important for employers to train you about WHMIS (Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System) and safety labels. This information is vital because each item may have different specifications for safety and how to handle them correctly. Without this information, you can accidentally increase the risk of a health issue for you and others that work with you.
What types of protective equipment and clothing should you wear to fulfill the tasks of your job?
Safety is first and fore more when it comes to any job. The types of tasks you perform and the environment where they take place can influence the types of protective equipment and clothing you need. Sometimes those items are provided by the employer. In other scenarios, you have to buy your own and they will reimburse you for them. You are responsible to wear those items each time you engage in those work-related activities. Such items may include:
- Ear protection
- Hard hat
- Safety glasses or goggles
- Steel-toed boots
What types of risks are there relating to slipping, tripping, or falling?
There is always a risk of slipping, tripping, or falling in any type of work environment. Restaurants are the #1 type of job where such issues occur. However, they can happen in all sorts of work environments. The employer should point out these risks and what can be done to prevent them. For example, wearing non-slip shoes may be a requirement. Signage may be in other locations to lower the risk of these things occurring.
Will you be lifting heavy items? If so, were you trained on the right way to lift to reduce the risk of an injury?
Some job descriptions require you to lift heavy items up to a certain weight. That weight limit has to be disclosed and you must be physically able to perform that task. You should be trained on the right way to lift so that you use your knees and not your back. The goal is to reduce the risk of any type of injury. If such training isn’t provided, ask questions before you lift anything to ensure you are doing it as safely as possible.
Will your job require you to work high off the ground? If so, do you have the proper equipment and training to accomplish this?
When a job requires you to work off the ground, the risk of falls and other types of injuries increases. Additional training should be given to help lower that risk. This includes poorly using safety equipment. If your job involves using any type of ladder, make sure the best practices are provided to ensure you can safely get up and down the ladder without any issues.
Who is your safety representative? How do you reach out to them without any suggestions or concerns?
Hopefully, you were given information about your safety representative or committee during your orientation. This is a person or persons you can speak to if you have any suggestions to improve safety. You can also contact them if you have concerns about any safety-related issues or if you wish to file a complaint. Don’t ignore unsafe working conditions, you have a responsibility to other employees to point them out.
What is the process to report any injuries?
If you are injured at work or if you witness someone else getting hurt, who do you report that to? What is the procedure for doing so? Is there a timeframe to complete this process? You should get this information during your training or orientation. If not, speak up and ask for it. While you don’t want to think about such issues happening, you have to be armed with the right information if there is a problem.