Close Calls – Take a Close Look at Close Calls

A “close call” or accident without injury is easy to shrug off and forget. But, there is a danger in brushing off accidents that don’t hurt, harm or damage. When a “close call” happens, it should immediately send up a red warning flag that something was wrong, unplanned, unexpected, and could happen again. The next time it happens, it could result in serious damage, injury or death. For every accident there are usually several contributing factors, most of which can be controlled. The best way to prevent the reoccurrence of an accident is by looking at those “close calls.” By investigating the root causes of an accident, steps can be taken to eliminate the hazard and improve the work system.

Sometimes there are multiple causes for an accident involving: equipment (unguarded machinery), environment (poor lighting or high noise level), people (procedures not understood or not followed) or management (allowed shortcuts). Don’t rush to judge. Examine the facts and find what’s missing. Look for immediate and underlying causes. An immediate cause may be an unsafe condition like a mechanical failure or it could be an unsafe action by an employee. The underlying cause could be poor machine maintenance, a missing guard, a crowded work area or a lack of training. All incidents should be reported to the supervisor so that accident/injury report forms can be completed. Once an investigation is completed, solutions should be sought to prevent the accident from occurring again. Solutions may involve engineering controls, administrative controls, additional training, or increased communication between management and workers.

Workers should daily inspect the work area for unsafe conditions or unsafe actions and, if found, report them to the supervisor. Hazard awareness is a key to preventing accidents before they happen. Take steps to eliminate hazards as soon as they are discovered. Do NOT RUSH your job. Learn the real lesson from close calls. They can happen again and again until they cause injury, so tell your supervisor about every incident, no matter how minor it may seem at the time. You never know when an incident may be repeated and result in an injury or even death.

Safety Is In Your Hands – Keep hands out of harm’s way –

If you are unclear on a procedure or need additional explanation on how to do a job or task safely, ask your supervisor. Do not attempt a job you have not been authorized and trained and understand completely how to do.

Recognize the hazards of the job whether working with sharp objects, cutting tools, chemicals, pinch points and rotating machines or equipment. Follow safety procedures, even if you have “gotten away with short cuts before, log out tag out processes and machine guards are there for a safety reason. Even though a job may have its own hazards, safety principles should always be remembered and applied. Not following safety rules can lead to serious injuries to yourself and/or your coworkers.

  • Think through each job before you do it; then work carefully and deliberately. Do not rush your tasks.
  • Keep your hands away from rotating equipment and never use your hands to stop rotating parts, or put your hands near rotating parts.
  • When lifting a load, check under and around for protrusions, nails, splinters, screws, metal banding, broken glass, etc.
  • Watch your fingers and hands when lowering heavy loads; they could get pinched.
  • Keep your hands away from loads that are being moved mechanically.
  • Never use your hands or fingers to test the temperature of gases, liquids or machinery.
  • If you do injure your hand, get prompt treatment and report it to your supervisor immediately – no matter how small.

Your hands are like finely crafted tools of amazing strength and dexterity. Next to your brain, they are one of your most valuable tools. Protect them and keep them safe.