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Safety Habits

Habits can be defined as a routine or behavior that is repeated regularly and tends to occur subconsciously or the tendency/disposition to act in a certain way.  Our ability to acquire habits, whether good or bad, is directly related to our need for satisfaction.  The importance of developing safe work habits, on the job, is that we avoid certain exposures even if we are not thinking about the particular hazard.  If we are always alert, never let our attention wander, and remember to use all the safe practices and equipment required, then habits become safe.  Circumstances arise for various reasons and complete attention is not always possible, however, under these circumstances safe work habits really become life saving.

Potential hazard examples, and the safety habits that may protect us from being injured, are listed here:

  • Hazard Example:  Catch points/shear pointed objects having sharp corners, splines, teeth or other rough shapes capable of catching the operator or work clothing (ex. rotating drills, reamers, spline shafts, broaches, keys and keyways, nails, shears, and dies.  SAFETY HABIT EXAMPLE:  Wear proper clothing.  Make sure guards are in place, and used.  Remove nails and staples from objects.
  • Hazard Example:  Squeeze points.  These are created by two objects, one or both of which is in motion as they move toward one another (ex. machine tables at extreme traverse position forming squeeze points with other machines, walls, and building columns).  Materials being moved on power conveyors create squeeze points with fixed objects along a conveyor.  SAFETY HABIT EXAMPLE:  Maintain a minimum clearance of 18 inches between moving and fixed objects.  Relocate equipment where necessary.  Maintain proper guarding.  Maintain sweep bars equipped with shutoff switches in the squeeze area.
  • Hazard Example:  Run-in points (ex. belts and sheaves, chains and sprockets, gears in mesh, rolls, conveyor chains, ropes and pulleys, cable and drums).  SAFETY HABIT EXAMPLE:  Maintain and use proper guarding.  Understand the operations of equipment.  Never operate or work close to unfamiliar equipment.

Developing safe habits is like turning on an autopilot in your mind; you function with less mental stress in your thinking capacity.  Make safety a habit when you recognize hazards.  Good habits are safe habits!

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