Manager’s Checkup: Keeping your workplace safe

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in Leaders & Managers,Management Training

Workplace safety isn't only an issue for managers in risky industries. Take this quiz to test your knowledge of safe workplace practices and how they impact managers:

1. One of Alta's duties is to clean your customer seating area, but she's complaining that the cleaner gives her a skin rash. You:

a. Remind her to wear rubber gloves consistently when cleaning.

b. Try several different cleaners and see if her condition improves.

c. Ask someone else to do the cleaning from now on.

2. Ben's new software requires him to use the mouse far more often than the previous package. You:

a. Invest in an ergonomic mouse.

b. Identify keyboard shortcuts that can replace using the mouse.

c. Adjust the arrangement of Ben's workstation.

3. Carla's doctor says she's fully recovered from her accident, but she still feels nervous about being taken off restricted duty. You:

a. Gently but firmly remind Carla of her doctor's assessment.

b. Give Carla retraining and assistance to resume her normal tasks.

c. Leave Carla on restricted duty until she feels ready.

4. You see Darren pull into the parking lot in a company vehicle, and he's not wearing his seat belt. You:

a. Give him a warning and outline further consequences.

b. Ask him why he wasn't wearing his seat belt.

c. Remind him of your company's policy regarding seat belt use.

5. Elaine can lift 40 pounds without difficulty, but she says incoming shipments are becoming too heavy for her to move safely. You:

a. Ask your vendors to pack shipments in boxes of manageable size.

b. Provide Elaine extra training in back safety and lifting heavy loads.

c. Reassign Elaine to other duties.

6. Frederic says he injured himself at work, but he's an active athlete and could have hurt himself off the job. You:

a. Ask for a medical assessment from Frederic's doctor.

b. Look at the safety records of others doing similar work.

c. Take Frederic's word for it and put him on restricted duty.

What do your scores mean?

Here's what our experts said:

1. B is most sensible. Consult the materials safety data sheet (MSDS) for the cleaner — which you're supposed to have on file — and try products with different ingredients.

2. C should be your first option. The mouse itself poses no ergonomic problem if Ben's seating position and angle are adjusted accordingly.

3. B is safer for all, including Carla. If she lacks confidence, she can pose a risk to others. Training can keep her from aggravating her injuries.

4. A is proper, because drivers by law, and by common knowledge, should wear seat belts. Allowing practices that are both unsafe and illegal can be a liability disaster.

5. All three options can help Elaine, but A also gives you a way to make sure other employees aren't at risk as well, especially if they only occasionally have to lift boxes.

6. Leaving aside any workers' comp questions, B should be standard practice whenever anyone reports an on-the-job injury, in case the duties themselves are inherently unsafe.

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