Terry McDonald: Site Safety

When it's hot, tempers can flare, so everyone must go the extra mile to make sure they're interacting with their coworkers in a productive and rational way.

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Last month we discussed the importance of safety meetings and related materials. Since then I have come across a company that maintains a portfolio on safety meetings. The company is named Business & Legal Reports, Inc., or BLR, and it may be a source that you want to look into. The Web site is [www.blr.com], and it’s certainly worth a visit. One really good idea for your safety committee is to have a dedicated board where important safety bulletins are posted along with the upcoming schedule of meetings. This board must be in a prominent location—right by the time clock is usually a good choice. Another item that should be posted on this bulletin board is the minutes of the previous meeting, and the meeting plan or topics for the next meeting. Simply posting this information in a place where it’s likely to be read by all of your employees is a way to promote interest, suggestions, and bring to light subjects that you, as a committee member, may not have thought of. It is important to keep safety in the minds of all of your employees, and this suggestion is just one more way of accomplishing that goal.

As I write this column in early August the temperature here is 99 degrees, and the humidity is at 73 percent, which puts the heat index at well over 100 degrees. This can be a dangerous time for all of us, but particularly those of advanced age or with various infirmities. Check often on your fellow employees to be sure that they are not becoming overheated. I know that very few of us are lucky enough to work in air-conditioned surroundings. There is another jeopardy associated with extreme hot weather: it can easily lead to bad tempers and poor judgment when we are dealing with others. Supervisors must be constantly on the lookout for situations where the heat is affecting an employee to the point of creating a possible danger to himself or to fellow employees. Also, as supervisors or managers it is important to remember that the heat can also affect your judgment. Do not make snap decisions, or you may regret the outcome. Especially when it’s hot, think through each decision even more carefully than you normally would, and consider all of the possible consequences.

We, as employers, must provide an adequate supply of the proper cooling liquids and areas in which employees can cool down or at least rest and relax during periods of extreme heat. Remember that sweat can make the workplace an even more dangerous place than usual. Sweaty hands tend to drop things, and sweat in the eyes always interferes with proper vision. Of course, being wet with sweat—or for any other reason—increases the dangers when working around electricity, so be aware of these dangers. This is a very hard time for supervisors and managers, because the heat also affects them, even as their duties are compounded by the heat.

I hope that you all enjoy the IMTS show in Chicago and have a very good summer. Remember to keep cool, and also to take the time to pursue the warm-weather activities that you enjoy. As a result, you’ll be sure to enjoy your working hours that much more.

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is partner and manager of Repair Parts, Inc., and a current member and past–chairman of the American National Standards Institute B11.11 Subcommittee on Safety Requirements for Construction, Care, and Use of Gear Cutting Equipment. McDonald writes this monthly column specifically for Gear Solutions magazine, and he can be reached at (815) 968–4499 or rpi@repair–parts–inc.com. The company's Web site is [www.repair–parts–inc.com].