All tasks have risks—  do you know them?

Our appreciation of risks sometimes is subjective based on our perception of risk. We sometimes associate risk only with complicated tasks or tasks that have significant hazards. This usually causes us to assume a false sense of security and do not take adequate or any precautions to ensure our safety.

The fact of the matter; however, is that all tasks have risks based on some hazard significant conspicuous or otherwise. We therefore must recognize this and do not underestimate any tasks no matter how simple it seems or how experienced we are.

The following are just a few examples:

  • Worker electrocuted while fixing microwave – Worker electrocuted at local clothing store was trying to fix a staff microwave. He worked on it while it was energized – it was still plugged in. Never work on electrical equipment without the proper training, risk assessment and safeguards.
  • Maintenance Worker Electrocuted Changing a Light Bulb- A 32-year-old male maintenance worker died from electrocution while working at an assisted living facility. The victim was changing a broken metal halide bulb in a ceiling fixture. To remove it, the victim turned off the area wall light switch and taped the switch in the “off” position. The victim climbed into the attic space and detached the fixture “light can” to remove the broken bulb. While holding on to the fixture in one hand, he touched the bulb base with a non-insulated tool and was electrocuted. The fixture was still hot (energized). It was part of a building emergency lighting system on a separate circuit. The wiring was not shown in the “as-built” plans he was using and it was not connected to the breaker.

Deadlight bulbs can present an unknown risk since most people never take the time to verify energy isolation (even though a simple light meter makes it an easy task). In many cases (like this last one) various lights are tied into backup/ emergency power – and often electrical drawings are not kept up to date.

That means a worker may think he/she has the power locked out because they are unaware of the auxiliary power. (It is also important to have a good change manage program and update/modify critical diagrams or keep record of changes to manage risks, risks of this nature are best managed with layered protection including our knowledge)

Ask What Could Go Wrong!

A 37-year-old man died in an accident at a bottling plant. The worker and a co-worker, both contractors, were removing a floor guard used to protect storage racks. The victim’s co-worker was operating an industrial lift truck and prying the floor guard with the forks of the lift truck when the screws holding the guard in place let go, the guard hit the victim in the head, and he died of his injuries.

We can be at greater risks when we aren’t the ones doing the job but assisting or in close proximity due to the presence of unrecognized lines of fire.

It is imperative therefore that all involved in a task recognize lines of fire (which may be within a specific radius in any direction) and stay away from these points to avoid injuries.

Workers have a responsibility to warn persons in close proximity who may be unaware.

Know your tasks; know the risks and potential risks!

“It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.” — Thoreau

Thanks for the share, TO!