New Year's Resolutions

Industry Matters Newsletter

By: Frankie Wood-Black, Safety Expert

Yes, it is that time! Time cast out the old and ring in the new. So, let’s focus on the New Year and think about how we can set a positive attitude that we can achieve no matter what the world will throw at us. Let’s set some safety resolutions that can be applied regardless of what your particular workspace, school situation, or surroundings are and could be as the year progresses. Here are my top 3 suggestions:

Take the time, so it takes less time.

Think for a second, how often have you hurried through a task because you just wanted to get it done or because you were up against a deadline. It usually doesn’t work out the way you would like. You make mistakes, and it has to be redone. Or, you overlook a potential hazard and end up having to mitigate the oops. When we get in a hurry, we overlook things.  We don’t think it through. We take short cuts. We take risks we wouldn’t normally. While sometimes it works out, most of the time, there is an undesirable outcome. So, let’s resolve to stop. Take the time to do it right the first time, and this will lessen the likelihood of having an accident that could hurt someone or damage something.

Use the right tool for the job. (And, inspect it first!)

This resolution may be a corollary to the first one. Why would someone use a knife as a screwdriver? Because they were in a hurry, but that is not always the case. Sometimes, it is because we don’t stop and assess the job, or we don’t want to take the time to locate the proper tool, or it is because we don’t have the proper tool in the first place (think of those specialized car repair or instrument repair tools). Having the right tool not only makes the job easier, but it makes it safer. Even if you do have the correct tool, it is a good idea to inspect it first. We all are likely to have an example of a tool failure, e.g., a wrench that has been stressed and breaks, causing your hand to smash into equipment resulting in bloodied knuckles. Taking a bit of time to look at the tool first, you might have seen that there was a thinning or a crack and thus would not have used the tool.

Resolve to be aware.

Be aware of your surroundings. If you are going to perform a task that might generate sparks, are your surroundings free of flammable or combustible materials? If you are setting up an experiment, is the equipment positioned on the bench so that you won’t knock something over or break something? If you are moving equipment, lifting equipment, are you going to encounter uneven surfaces or twist in a manner that could cause injury? And, while we think about the physical world, this can also be applied to the virtual one. Think about that email; is it really what you thought it was? Should you click on the link? Or, that text, is it from who you think it is? The virtual world is beginning to present hazards that may have drastic consequences.

I believe that if we would each resolve to do these three things in 2021, we are going to be able to have a safe New Year.

This article has been edited for length and clarity. The opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the view of their employer or the American Chemical Society.

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