5 Daily Distractions That Cost Us Big

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George Davis
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Causes of Hazards

In a perfect world, employees don’t have to worry about breaking their shoulder bone, falling off scaffolds, or catching a grave lung disease. They’d be provided with excellent training not only once but regularly. We’d probably not have to worry about the causes of hazards at all.

Besides being comfortable and self-cleaning, their PPE could be worn in a matter of seconds and would have built-in chemical radar and radiation detector. When a vehicle is about to hit an employee or fire threatens to gobble them up or suck the life out of their lungs, this bubble would suddenly blow away from their PPE and safely enclose them. Being resistant to impacts, fire, chemicals, toxic gases and all negative vibes in the world, the bubble is an ultimate lifesaver that equates to having an immortal life on the job.

Okay, I went a bit overboard there. You get the idea. Every employee wishes for a job where they’re provided with training and PPE, which would ultimately shield them against all hazards in their workplace.

Distractions and Hazards

Then again, any premium training and state-of-the-art PPE would be useless if a worker couldn’t manage to exorcise one of the most threatening factors on the job: distractions. That’s right, statistics shows that distractions are a major culprit in many workplace injuries and fatalities.

1. Mental Distractions and Inattention

Have you ever replayed in your mind unpleasant scenes at home while operating equipment on the job? Perhaps something big happens to you this weekend and you’re anticipating its wonders while literally climbing on a ladder. Maybe one or two times you’re mixing chemicals and you decide to have a little chat with a co-worker. No harm in that right? Think again.

Mental distractions often lead to inattention. You could miss noticing that pedestrian racing close to your forklift just because you’re too engrossed over that argument you had with your wife. Whether you’re worrying, daydreaming, or chatting, mental distractions can be likened to hazards or defects in machines that you need to secure with “guards”. Will yourself to tag these mental distractions with a NO ENTRY sign, close the “door” and focus on the work at hand.

If that’s all too hard to do, then you may consider taking a break and getting some fresh air to blow those distracting thoughts away or finishing that nice chat with a co-worker. If the work is urgent, then you could tell yourself to forget about personal matters first and deal with them later by coming up to a co-worker (possibly your supervisor) and sharing with them your difficulty in getting rid of that thing (or person) that tortures you to the very core of your being.

2. Poor Housekeeping

Apparently if godliness is next to cleanliness, safety is next to the latter as well. Just imagine how distracted you’d be if your workstation is cluttered with all your personal stuff, unsorted files, bolts, screws, wires, food wrappers and other junk. Visual clutter can easily translate itself to mental clutter. It would be easy to miss that obstruction in the conveyor operations when dust and all these crumpled papers mess up with your focus.

So befriend that broom and sweep all those visual distractions before they do something nasty. Throwing those junk and sorting your files are big steps to trashing all the horrible hazards that could befall you. Remember, too, that poor housekeeping says a lot about your attitude towards safety, quality, and production.

3. Machinery

Those big, fat monsters you call your techie friends can be distracting and destructive, too. Don’t be fooled. Think twice before permanently choosing a place for your workstation. Make sure it is at a safe distance from machines, heavy equipment, electrical circuits, busy foot traffic, and obstructions or slip/trip hazards.

4. Hearing

Sure, listening to music is fine. It keeps you entertained, boosts your mood. But even the favorite song could cost you you an arm and a leg.

Before donning those headphones, ask your supervisor if this is acceptable or safe. If not, then for the love of your life, you’d have to say goodbye to that music playlist you worked so hard to compile.

Now, wearing earmuffs or earplugs is a completely different story. When noise levels in your workplace are too tough for your eardrums to handle (accurate measures must be done to determine this), then you should talk to your supervisor. The same thing should be done when you think noise keeps your attention off your tasks. If installing appropriate engineering controls is not feasible, you should do well with a good pair of earmuffs or headphones.

 5. Long (or) Unkempt Hair

Imagine a tabloid running this headline, “Man Gets Paralyzed Because of His Long Hair”. Sounds absurd, doesn’t it? But you won’t think so after realizing that too many accidents have actually happened in the past just because somebody was fixing their hair while operating equipment, carrying a load, driving a vehicle, etc.

It’s easy to understand that loose and flowing hair can get in one’s face and eyes and obstruct their view. This becomes an even bigger hazard when a worker fixes their hair while carrying on a task. I this distraction applies to you, tie your hair back or keep it under a hat.

Dealing with Workplace Distractions

In a perfect world, distractions don’t exist, there would be no causes of hazards. Come to think of it, if the world were perfect, there’s no such thing as danger. We don’t even have to work to be able to live comfortably.

But since we’re stuck in this imperfect side of the universe, all we can do is do our job and do it safely. Of course, that means getting rid of everything that can make us lose or lack focus.

While some factors in the workplace can play a role in causing distractions, the fact remains that more occupational hazards spring from unsafe acts than from unsafe conditions. In truth, much of the safety of employees lies in their hands. So think straight, follow safe procedures and you don’t have to worry about hurting yourself before each work day ends!

Call (877) 201-8923 today to speak with one of our safety solutions experts.

Related Links:

Top 7 Tips on Using the Census to Improve Workplace Safety

Lockout Tagout Basics : Machinery Tags (When Absence Means Trouble)

Hearing Protection and OSHA

PPE and How It Can Save Your Life – Part 2

Better Safety with Machine Guards: Basics and Proper Use

What Every Employer and Employee Must Know: Complete Scope of Safety Training

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