Don’t become a Statistic. Celebrate National Safety Month in June.

June is National Safety Month—a month-long celebration that is near and dear to every safety professional’s heart. It's safety not only at work but at home too. I know June is upon us, so I hope you have time to plan your safety celebration activities.

Interesting Fact

The number of traumatic injuries treated in the ER nearly doubles during the summer. Injuries are the leading cause of death for Americans ages 1 to 40, but there are many things people can do to stay safe and prevent injuries. Make a difference. Spread the word about ways to reduce the risk of injuries. Encourage your employees (and your family as well) to identify and report safety hazards.

Weekly Focus Items

The National Safety Council theme for the 2018 National Safety Month is “No 1 Gets Hurt,” and each week of June focuses on a different aspect of safety. Check out this short YouTube video Safe4Life that cites accident statistics and preventive measures. The Council has also prepared a variety of free materials as well as a really fun poster Take Steps to Ensure No 1 Gets Hurt.

Week 1: Emergency Preparedness—Create Home Emergency Plan

  • Tip Sheet: Prepare for the Unexpected
  • Related articles:
    • Is Your Workplace Prepared for a Tornado?
    • More Than Half of Workers Aren't Trained on First Aid, CPR: Survey

Week 2: Wellness—Get at Least 7 Hours of Sleep

  • Tip Sheet: Prioritize Your Wellness
  • Related articles:
    • NSC Urges Organizations to Invest in Worker Sleep Health
    • NSC: Many Americans Personally Affected by Opioid Crisis

Week 3: Falls—Watch out for Tripping Dangers

  • Tip Sheet: Prevent Slips, Trips and Falls
  • Related articles:
    • Recognizing Hidden Dangers: 25 Steps to a Safer Office
    • Fall Protection Leads OSHA's "Top 10" List of Most Frequently Cited Violations

Week 4: Driving—Always Wear a Seat Belt

  • Tip Sheet: Always Drive Safe
  • Related articles:
    • Drowsy Driving a Bigger Danger Than Federal Data Indicates, AAA Claims
    • No Cellphones While Driving

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has a tool kit that highlights National Health Observances.

Laboratory Safety

For those of us in clinical laboratories, here are some suggestions for highlighting other areas of safety awareness for your staff during National Safety Month:

  • Talk about your laboratory or organization’s safety committee. Identify the representatives and thank them for the work they are doing to keep everyone safe. Learn about the activities the committee is working on and see if they need any volunteers.
  • Review your emergency preparedness plansespecially the information regarding severe weather response (important for the spring and summer months). Plan a severe-weather shelter drill or a fire drill and have everyone walk through the emergency plan.
  • Encourage your staff to report safety incidents, injuries, illnesses, exposures, and near misses (the accident that almost happened) so that you can take actions to get treatment for them and also for preventing future occurrences.
  • Encourage your staff to report best practices so that they can be shared with other areas. Encourage them to think of safer, more efficient processes and procedures. Not only will they point out a safety issue, they may also be identifying a process that improves quality and testing.
  • Blood-borne pathogens are present in our labs, so review exposure management and disinfection practices.
  • Review your organization’s chemical spill-response process.
  • Replace burned out light bulbs or add task lighting to improve visibility.
  • Check out the electrical cords in your laboratory and office areas. Replace them if frayed or damaged. Disconnect power strips that are plugged into each other ("daisy-chaining" is not a safe practice).
  • Set up a safety-suggestion process so that your staff can report concerns or suggestions.
  • Share one of the YouTube safety videos linked in this blog.
  • Schedule a team meeting with your staff for each week of June and have a discussion on each topic:
    • Week 1: Where is your emergency plan located, and what should your employees do? Point out emergency exits and alternative routes.
    • Week 2: Encourage everyone to take a short walk and stretch a bit during the work day or bring in some healthy treats during break time.
    • Week 3: Take a look around the lab and office area for tripping hazards such as cords, boxes, and supplies, and be sure spills and wet surfaces are found and cleaned up right away.
    • Week 4: If your employees need to drive for work purposes, review your organization’s fleet vehicle safety program, cell phone usage, or driving requirements. It only takes a moment of distracted driving to cause an accident.

Beyond June

The month of June is a great time to highlight all kinds of safety activities and practices at work, in the lab, and at home. But safety should never take a break. Make it a part of your life all day and every day.

Resources

As I did some searching on National Safety Month information, I found some other great resources and information. Take a look and enjoy; there’s some great reading.

Pat Hlavka

Pat Hlavka

Pat Hlavka is a Safety Coordinator in the Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathology at Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN. She received a B.S. degree in Chemistry from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire and an M.S. degree in Safety from the University of Wisconsin-Stout. She is a Certified Safety Professional (CSP) and a member of the American Society of Safety Engineers. Pat worked as a safety professional in the industrial setting (IBM and Benchmark Electronics) for over 15 years. Since joining the Mayo Clinic in 2008, her responsibilities have focused on laboratory safety including the safety audit program, developing and maintaining documentation, training, communications, awareness, incident investigation, laboratory safety committees, and emergency management.