No Shortcuts to Workplace Safety


It’s time for another Spotlight on Safety, where we like to break down safety issues and concerns frequently faced by manufacturing facilities and warehouses. This month, we’re focusing on the importance of slowing down.

Muscle memory can become a hazard

In a fast-paced work environment like a facility or warehouse, the idea of slowing down can seem counterproductive and inefficient. The fact is, however, that rushing and hurrying through seemingly mundane or no-brainer acts can create a myriad of safety hazards.

Now, we all know that work can get very repetitive, and we’ve got places to be. But it’s because of that repetition that moving carefully and methodically through tasks is so important. When an action is constantly repeated, it becomes a habit.

In a physical environment like a warehouse, it can even become muscle memory. That’s when performing a task quickly and carelessly goes from being a one-time shortcut to a dangerous routine.

Is efficiency worth the hazard?

We’ve all taken the occasional shortcut in the name of efficiency, but in a workplace full of safety hazards, those shortcuts can lead to long-term consequences. It can be something as simple as not wearing safety goggles because you know your task will only take a minute and it’s not likely that something will fly into your eye.

You might decide not to unplug a power tool before making adjustments, since you know you’ll use it again in a minute.

Maybe you use a chair or the wrong type of ladder to reach something since the correct ladder is all the way across the facility.

All of these seem like harmless choices in the moment, and you assume there won’t be any consequences. After all, how likely is it that an accident would happen the one time you choose not to follow procedure?

But the fact is, accidents do happen; workplace safety procedures exist for a reason.

Human error can mean negligence

According to Safety and Health Magazine, human error accounts for up to 90% of serious injuries. Is a thirty second, or even a five minute shortcut worth your safety or that of your coworkers? Of course not.

No one goes into work planning to be negligent or careless. To avoid those pitfalls, it’s important to slow down and complete your work correctly and methodically. Tick every box on your checklist, don’t just rush through or skip tasks and hurriedly check the boxes when you’ve finished.

Take the time to don the correct Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).

Never use an improvised ladder or step-stool.

Always ensure you complete proper lockout procedures.

It may seem tedious, but when these methodical and careful procedures become habit, the extra thirty seconds you spend completing your tasks could spare you and your coworkers serious injury.

Safety starts at the top

Managers and supervisors need to take the time to go over procedure and safety talking points at team meetings, not just quickly rattle off a list out of obligation.  Equipment checks and safety inspections cannot simply be an act of going through the motions, they must be completed methodically and thoroughly.

When everyone at a facility slows down and completes their work safely, efficiency will come naturally. Never forget, there are no shortcuts to safety.