To ensure a safe working environment, often we think what we wear is very important and should be prioritized.  Incorrect - that is your LAST line of defense against injury/accident.  

The order (in sequence) of priority for safety lines of defence includes:
1 - safety hazard awareness
2 - safety hazard elimination
3 - mechanical controls
4 - safe work processes
5 - PPE
Supporting details for safety methods include:
  • Awareness and elimination – ensure there is a systematic approach to identify the hazards that exist for the job at hand.  Hazards (risks) will change depending on the variables at the time (e.g. time of day, weather, team members, urgency, mind set, etc).  Take every step possible to eliminate the hazard or if not possible to lessen the probability, impact and/or cause.  Conduct safety shares as part of a regular practice in meetings and work events.
  • Cleanliness and Organized work space – a sign of how work is done is evident in how clean and organized your work area is.
  • Condition of your tools – tool condition and functionality needs to be monitored and managed (replace/repair/etc) e.g. a dull knife hurts more people then a sharp knife.
  • Mechanical Controls – where or whenever possible, ensure the equipment utilized has all protective devices or constraints properly working and installed.  Investigate if the device can be designed or set-up to eliminate or lessen accident or injury.  If additional safety barriers/constraints/etc can be installed ensure an analysis is conducted to weigh the options.  Note:  ensure that the device is not outside manufactured specifications.
  • Safety processes – develop a systematic approach to ensure the work is completed in a safe and reliable manner.  Develop policies, programs, procedures, tools, templates, techniques, etc.  Base the processes on Occupational Health and Safety legislation, global standards, best practices, past experiences, associations, industry communities, etc.  Incorporate quality management system attributes into the safety system.
  • Personnel protective equipment (PPE) – this equipment is standardized for the specific type of job that will be completed.  Examples of the basic equipment needed includes:
    • hard hat;
    • safety glasses with side shields;
    • ear plugs;
    • respirators;
    • protective coveralls/jackets/gloves;
    • harnesses;
    • protective boots.
  • Safety equipment – safety nets, shields, support bracing, fire protection, warning devices, etc.
  • Reviews – formalized inspections or checks of equipment, material, vehicles, tools, PPE, etc.
  • Safety communications – consistent types of communication that all stakeholders are aware of and is commonly displayed (signs, reference cards, etc).  Examples include:
    • site signs and billboards;
    • office memo boards;
    • tool box meetings;
    • internal websites;
    • high risk areas;
    • safety meetings;
    • memos.
  • Training and education – as required, specific training for complex work or equipment or hazardous material should be planned for and delivered.  This is closely aligned with the level of experience and expertise of the resources.  Training can be formal (in class, away from site, conferences, on-site spot tests) or informal (coaching, shadowing, mentoring, lunch and learns, document reviews).
    • Safety inspections – inspections can take several forms, including: ones that are planned and all parties are aware of;
    • on the spot surprise inspections;
    • internal inspections;
    • 3rd party inspections.
  • Accident investigations – it is critical that every accident be clearly identified, assessed, analyzed, documented and reviewed by parties involved and other SMEs.  Generally insurance companies require some level of investigation.  The information gathered should be detailed enough to ensure lessons are learned from it and it does not happen again.
  • Medical facilities – plans should exist to deal with all potential accidents.  Generally it depends on the severity of the accident.  Trained personnel should be on site to assess the severity and this will determine the speed and location of the facility to be utilized.  At the site there should be clearly identified medical tools (e.g. first aid equipment, stretchers, eyewash equipment, etc) and a medical station (protected from the environment) and a vehicle (or set of vehicles and detailed processes) to take the injured person to an off-site medical facility if required.
  • Drug testing – to ensure employees are not influenced by drugs and more prone to accidents, many organizations conduct random or standardized drug testing.  This helps to enforce strict standards of drug usage.