Reflecting A Safe Workplace

using mirrors to improve safety in the workplace

When Environmental, Health, and Safety managers perform a facility audit, they will typically check the condition of the safety items found in all the workspaces. This includes fire extinguishers, safety railings, stair tread, and a myriad of other items, all installed to help keep employees from harm. Where needed, an item in disrepair must be mended, refilled or replaced. The next part of an audit is often dedicated to looking for risks.

An experienced EHS professional always asks, “What areas can be safer? What safety products could be added to mitigate everyday dangers?” And one of the most common answers to the latter question is ‘mirrors’.

Most industrial facilities have busy pathways with barriers of some kind on either side forming a corridor or aisle. These are often shared by forklifts or other lift-and-carry vehicles and pedestrian traffic. Despite floor markings that designate one part of the corridor for foot travel and another for vehicles, the two are bound to come close to one another at some time, and of course, one pedestrian will almost inevitably bump into another. Mirrors, placed at correct angles at intersections, which enable visibility around corners, are an important safety feature that will reduce collisions. But, perhaps because they are usually installed well above typical lines of sight, safety mirrors can be forgotten about when safety features are reviewed.

Is your safety mirror collection doing all it can to help prevent accidents? Do you have as many mirrors as you need? Are they in the best positions, and are our employees in the habit of using them? There are numerous sizes and types of safety mirrors and some now have improvements over earlier versions that help them do their job. For example, the borders of some mirrors are now accented by a caution stripe. This makes the mirror more likely to be noticed at a glance. Another way to draw attention to the mirrors is to add a safety slogan to the glass (such as Meet The Person Most Responsible For Your Safety), without interfering with the mirror’s essential view, of course.

If your mirrors are not high enough to be at the correct angle to both see around a turn and see a significant distance down the pathway around that corner, it may be because the mirror is too low on the mounting plate, and that may be the case because of the size of the mirror. There are now ‘roundtangular’ mirrors that, as New Equipment Digest recently pointed out, “allow a wide viewing angle with a minimal vertical mirror height, allowing the mirror to be placed as high as possible on the wall.” The higher the mirror is placed, the better chance a pedestrian has to see an advancing forklift well before they reach the intersection where they might collide with that vehicle.

Convex shapes now allow 180 degrees of reflection, perfect for T-shaped intersections, and, where four aisles might meet, you can install a full half-dome mirror. That allows a 90-degree view to the left or right from any aisle.

Outdoor mirrors are often placed strategically to help over-the-road vehicles, like trucks, navigate around buildings and other structures on company property. But mirrors on power poles and the walls of buildings must be placed carefully. At certain times of the year and hours of the day, a mirror intended to aid in safe driving can become a terrible hazard, if it reflects sunlight directly into a driver’s eyes. The same mirror, even if placed properly to avoid becoming a sun reflector, might not do its job well if it becomes dulled by years of harsh weather or is not protected from falling rain. Likewise, the mirror won’t aid a driver if the driver does not notice it. A slow blinking light, one that will notify the driver but not blind him, placed near the mirror can solve that issue.

The safety assets of any busy facility need to be monitored and updated on a regular basis. Sometimes a new set of eyes can be a big help in spotting opportunities for safety improvements. Findlay All Hazards is ready to assist with facility safety audits, anywhere you may need them. Contact our experts today to discuss how Findlay can help you make improvements to your installed safety features.

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