Safety Orientation in Commercial and Industrial Workplaces

Category: Safety
Author Name: TrainingABC
Posted: 07-28-2021 05:24 AM
Views: 2293
Synopsis: Employers have a responsibility to keep their employees safe on the job.  A solid safety orientation program is a critical piece of this responsibility.

OSHA reports that new hires are five times more likely to be injured on the job and one out of every eight workplace injuries occurs on an employee’s first day. Every year over five thousand people die on the job and another seven million are injured, with numbers increasing each year. 80% are new hires.

The cost of workplace injuries and fatalities range from 250 to 330 billion annually in medical bills, lost wages and lost productivity. As a result, OSHA requires all new employees to be trained on specific requirements and standards corresponding to their work and environment.

Lockout Tagout of a machine in the workplaceWhat Does Safety Orientation Entail?

Safety orientation provides critical health and safety information to immediately protect employees from common early injuries. New employees must be trained under close supervision until demonstrating the ability to safely perform duties independently. Specific in-depth training requiring certifications will be administered as the employer deems suitable. Employees are not allowed to operate any machines or equipment until properly trained and authorized.

How to Stay Safe on the Job

This program gives employees an overview of the following critical topics:

  • Slips, Trips and Falls
  • Hazardous Materials
  • Workplace Hazards
  • Emergency Preparedness
  • Fire Safety
  • Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
  • Bloodborne Pathogens
  • Ergonomics
  • Lockout Tagout
  • Electrical Safety
  • First Aid
  • Worker’s Rights
  • Accident Reporting and Contact Information

Man lays on the floor after tripping over a power cord in the workplace.Slips, Trips and Falls

Over one third of all workplace injuries are a result of a Slip, Trip or Fall (STF). The prevailing cause of STFs are slippery surfaces caused by spills of water, grease and other fluids.

Other causes are:

  • Wearing the improper type of shoes
  • Weather conditions such as rain, ice, and snow
  • Damaged, warped, buckled or uneven flooring
  • Improper use of floor mats and runners
  • Inadequate lighting
  • Cluttered walkways
  • Uncovered cables crossing paths
  • Damaged or incorrectly used ladders
  • Improper use of scaffolding
  • Climbing without use of fall protection
  • Using improper objects like a chair to stand on

 To Prevent Slips, Trips and Falls…

  • Wear slip resistant shoes whenever possible
  • Mark and immediately clean up all spills
  • Remove obstacles from walkways
  • Replace light bulbs when out and keep areas well lit
  • Reroute or cover exposed cables that cross pathways
  • Straighten, remove or repair loose flooring
  • Use proper fall prevention equipment
  • Use ladders and scaffolds properly
  • Repair or discard defective equipment

Hazardous Materials

OSHA requires companies to inform employees when they come into contact with dangerous chemicals and detail the procedures needed to protect themselves.

Safety Data Sheets (SDSs) provide information on chemicals, warnings and proper PPE to use. SDSs are mandatory for every chemical used and must be available at the worksite at all times.

Employees must:

  • Read labels before using any chemical
  • Always use proper PPE when handling chemicals
  • Understand correct emergency procedures
  • Utilize safe habits when interacting with chemicals
  • Recognize overexposure symptoms
  • Know the procedures for employees overexposed to hazardous chemicals
  • Ask a supervisor when they have questions

Additionally, employees should review other chemical health hazards like solvents, adhesives, paints, toxic dusts and gases and vapors that may be invisible and have no odor. Training on hazardous chemicals in the work area is mandated on the employees first assignment, and whenever a new chemical hazard is introduced. Employers should make the Health and Safety Manual available to review.

Manager with clipboard surveying the workplace and writing notes.Work Hazards

Employers should review workplace hazards with new employees by giving them a tour of their work area and the facility as a whole.  General safety hazards include electrical, powered equipment, motor vehicle, walking-working surfaces and hazards associated with working in extreme temperatures.

Employers should explain work practices that minimize employee risk including the safe use of engineering controls, equipment, and new safety technology or procedures. Employees should report hazards immediately. Housekeeping and tripping hazards should be fixed as they are found.

Emergency Preparedness

All employees should understand the Emergency Action Plan (EAP), its standard operating procedures, PPE to be worn and procedures for handling emergency incidents.

An EAP must include procedures for:

  • Reporting fires, emergencies, evacuation and exit routes
  • Employees who stay to perform essential plant operations before evacuation and proper startup and shutdown
  • The head count for all employees after evacuation
  • Employees performing rescue or medical duties

Exit sign hanging from the ceilingThe EAP must also provide the name or job title of the employee to contact in an emergency. Additionally, all employees should know the facility’s emergency alarms and collection points and read and adhere to all warning signs and posted information.

Exit routes in the case of fire or other emergencies are critical to any workplace safety plan.

Prepare these exit routes in advance by:

  • Removing explosive or highly flammable material
  • Providing proper lighting and signs adequate for employees with normal visio
  • Ensuring routes are unobstructed by locked doors or dead ends

All employees should be familiar with at least two exit routes in advance of an emergency.

Fire Safety

All employees should know the site’s fire hazards and fire prevention plan.

The Fire prevention plan must provide:

  • Safeguards for the control of flammable and combustible materials
  • A list of the major fire risks
  • Proper storing and handling methods for flammable materials
  • Potential ignition origins and their control
  • Types of fire protection equipment to control hazards
  • Name or job title of employees responsible for prevention
  • How to report an incident

Industrial worker putting out a fire with a fire extinguisherEmployees should know the location of the facility’s fire alarms and fire extinguishers and how to operate them. Additionally, it’s crucial that every employee understands the different classes of fires and corresponding, lettered extinguishers for controlling and putting them out.

The classes of Fire are:

  • Class A: ignites from paper, plastic, cloth, rubber, or wood and are most common
  • Class B: explosive fuel fires caused by flammable liquids, gases and grease
  • Class C: starts from electrical currents
  • Class D: ignites from flammable metals like sodium
  • Class K: “kitchen fires” that are a sub category of class B but burn hotter and involve cooking oils

Fires should only be extinguished when they are small and contained, safe from toxic smoke, when there are means of escape and when the employee has knowledge on how to use a fire extinguisher. Pull the extinguisher’s pin, take aim at the base, squeeze trigger and sweep back and forth. During a fire emergency, activate the fire alarm, attempt to extinguish the fire, and evacuate to a pre-determined location outside.

Man working while wearing safety goggles.Personal Protective Equipment

OSHA requires employers to provide proper PPE and education on its use for each job performed. PPE must fit properly, be worn properly, and provide protection. PPE must be comfortable enough so employees will use while performing the job. Select proper PPE for the hazards of each job.

Proper PPE

  • Hardhats to protect from falling objects and bumps
  • Respirators to protect from harmful dusts, gases and chemical mists
  • Protective aprons and clothing for chemicals
  • Safety boots for wet floors, electricity and falling objects
  • Safety goggles and glasses to protect eyes from splashes, flying objects, and light radiation
  • Earmuffs and plugs to protect ears from damaging noise
  • Respirators to protect from harmful dusts, gases and chemical mists
  • Rubber, or latex gloves for hazardous chemicals and pathogens
  • Cotton fabric gloves for abrasions
  • Leather gloves for burn hazards
  • Specialty insulated gloves for electrical hazards
  • Metal mesh or Kevlar gloves for cutting hazards
  • Disposable gloves for first aid
  • Hardhats to protect from falling objects and bumps

Never wear a metal hardhat when working with electricity. PPE must always be properly maintained, cleaned, stored, disposed of and checked for damage before and after use.

Injured worker bleeding is being treated by another worker.Bloodborne Pathogens

Workplace accidents involving blood or other potentially infectious materials (OPIM) leave workers at risk to bloodborne pathogen exposure. Bloodborne pathogens are contagious microorganism in blood producing diseases like Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), hepatitis B virus (HBV), and hepatitis C virus (HCV).

In an exposure incident:

  • Immediately wash hands and flood any other skin with soap and water
  • Flush mucous membranes with water
  • Clean wound with soap and water or skin disinfectant

when available

  • Immediately report this to the employer and seek medical treatment

For accidents or injuries exposing blood or other bodily fluids, implement Universal Precautions, treating all as potentially infectious. Even in dried blood the Hepatitis B virus can live for up to 7 days and must be cleaned immediately.

Washing hands when visibly soiled, before eating, and after using the restroom effectively prevents the spread of communicable diseases and removes pathogens. Employers should provide formal bloodborne pathogen training to employees on their initial assignment and when new or modified tasks could affect a worker's risk of occupational exposure.

Man lifting a box in a warehouse.Ergonomics

Employees who don’t take precautions at work can experience Musculoskeletal Disorders (MSDs) caused by…

  • Long periods of time in one position
  • Heavy lifting
  • Repetitive motions
  • Awkward working positions
  • The use of steady force

When possible, avoid sitting for long periods of time, shift positions frequently, and take breaks to stand and stretch.

To prevent injury, practice proper lifting techniques by:

  • Deciding where an object is going to be placed and the route to get there
  • Testing objects to see if more than one person is needed
  • Getting assistance or using equipment like dollies when an object is too heavy
  • Lifting with legs shoulder width apart and close to the object, bending at hips and knees, and by using legs to lift and not the back

Lockout Tagout

Tags or locks are essentially warning devices affixed to energy isolating devices.  Do not remove or attempt to use machines that are tagged or locked. Lockout or tagout devices on energy-isolating machines must only be removed by the employee who applied them to the device, or the employer in their absence.\

Electrical Safety

To reduce the risk of injury due to electrical shock:

  • Check electrical cords for damage before using
  • Never used damaged cords, outlets or adapters
  • Report damaged equipment to a supervisor
  • Do not use three to two grounding adapters
  • Never work around electricity in wet surroundings
  • Immediately report shocks or tingles when working around electrical cord sets or tools
  • Keep cords away from heat and water
  • Don’t run cords across walkways, through doorways or under rugs
  • Do not use electrical equipment that blows a fuse, shocks, shuts down a circuit breaker, or seems damage
  • Follow the manufacturer’s instructions when using electrical equipment

First Aid

Employers must ensure prompt first aid for employees, either by providing personnel to administer or be in close proximity to medical assistance such as a hospital.

Employees should know:

  • The location of all first aid kits
  • The location of the nearest eye wash and emergency shower
  • Which employees are CPR certified and responsible for first aid on sit
  • To use Universal Precautions if an employee is bleeding and avoid contact with blood and OPIM
  • How to use proper PPE like disposable gloves and goggles

In the event of an emergency:

  • Call for medical assistance and the injury type
  • Know victim’s location and if victim is breathing
  • If possible move the victim away from potential danger
  • Report the accident to the employer

The employer must investigate the incident to prevent future occurrences.

Worker Rights

OSHA state and federal rights enable workers to:

  • Be protected from toxic chemicals
  • Work on machines that are safe
  • Receive training for hazards and hazard control
  • Review work-related injury and illness records
  • File complaints with OSHA to trigger inspections
  • Talk privately with an OSHA inspector
  • Get OSHA standards training applicable to their workplace
  • Receive training in a language they understand
  • Get copies of their own medical records
  • File a complaint if their employer retaliates for exercising their legal rights
  • Receive required safety equipment such as gloves or a harness and lifeline for falls at no cost
  • See results of studies taken to find workplace hazards

Accident Reporting and Contact Information

Workers should be taught how to report incidents, injuries, illnesses, and concerns. This includes “near miss” reports for incidents that do not result in an injury but could at a later date. Employees should immediately report any work related accidents, injuries or illnesses or faulty equipment to their supervisor. All employees should be given emergency numbers for the employer, 911, poison control, the health and safety team, medical care and supervisors.


OSHA may fine employers $13,653 for serious violations and $136,532 for willful or repeated actions. OSHA recently fined an organization in Newark, New Jersey over $400,000 for violations of fall protection standards. Criminal penalties are also possible for willful violations that result in worker death.


Speak to a supervisor if you see an unsafe condition or feel unsafe on the job site. Employees should never do things they don’t understand and never do anything until they’re sure no one else will be hurt. Companies who guard their employees’ safety experience fewer injuries and illnesses, lowered healthcare costs, and most importantly, have happy and healthy employees.

TrainingABC has a new course on safety orientation.  Take a look an an evaluation today.

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