Important Safety Improvements to Avoid Severe Injury or Death in Logging

Logging remains one of the most dangerous industries in the United States.  Every year approximately 800 American workers die as the result of workplace accidents.  The logging industry accounts for about 24% of these claims.  Most of these deaths are the result of employees working as fellers, limbers, buckers, choker setters, truck drivers, laborers and material machine operators.  Now is the time for all parties in the logging industry and their workers’ compensation insurers to take note and continually strive for safer work conditions.

 

 

The Dynamics of a Logging Work Injury

 

Work injuries in the logging industry fall into several general categories.  These include injuries resulting from falling objects, falls from heights and crane accidents.  Common injuries involve trauma to a person’s back/neck, fractured bones, TBIs/other brain injuries, paralysis, amputations, disfigurements and permanent scarring.  Beyond the physical component, the average workers’ compensation claim involving someone within the logging industry includes an underlying mental competent that includes psychological or psychiatric trauma.

 

The bottom line is clear – workers’ compensation injuries sustained by a logger are generally more severe and costly to a program.  Any steps that can prevent injuries or reduce costs following an injury have a significant impact on the sustainability of an employer’s bottom line.  Now is the time to take proactive action.

 

 

Moving Beyond the General OSHA Requirements

 

OSHA safety standards have a positive impact on making an inherently workplace safe.  Specific rules have been implemented under 29 C.F.R. §1910.266.  These regulations apply to all types of workplaces regardless of the end use of the forest products such as sawlogs, veneer bolts, pulpwood and chips.  Covered under these regulations include the following safety requirements:

 

  • Extensive first-aid training for all employees;

 

  • Requirements for the use of personal protective equipment;

 

  • Requirements that include the use of rollover and falling-object protective structures; and

 

  • Improved techniques for manual felling procedures. This includes instruction on how to properly undercut and back cut to prevent premature twisting and falling of trees.

 

In addition to following these safety requirements, employers and other interested stakeholders can take additional steps to improve workplace/site safety and prevent injuries.

 

  • Compulsory adherence to safety standards. This includes consistent enforcement of safety policies and termination of employment for repeat offenders.  Safety must also apply equally to all employees;

 

  • Continual evaluation of workplace performance when engaging in work duties. This includes an evaluation of felling techniques by loggers to ensure training is being used on work sites;

 

  • Proper maintenance of all tools and equipment. This includes a commitment to storing equipment in a location that prevents excessive wear and tear.  It also means fixing equipment when problems arise and not continuing to use it if safety is a concern; and

 

  • Commitment to safety with the implementation of a safety committee.

 

 

Avoiding Other Common Safety Hazards

 

Loggers are exposed to countless dangers on a daily basis.  Paying attention to one’s surroundings is only the beginning when it comes to injury avoidance.

 

  • Work boot safety: Loggers must wear steel-toed work boots.  Problems arise when boots are not labeled correctly to avoid potential electrical hazards or are subject to product recall;

 

  • Review of Safety Reports: Interested stakeholders can learn a lot about the anatomy of common and avoidable injuries by reading OSHA injury reports.  Learning how to avoid these issues is key; and

 

  • Education, education, education: Logging remains a dangerous occupation notwithstanding the inclusion of safety standards, regulations, and  Interested stakeholders need to make education a priority.

 

 

Conclusions

 

The nature of the logging industry makes it a hazardous workplace activity.  The result of an injury in this occupation is life-changing.  Interested stakeholders need to be proactive when it comes to workplace safety and strive to reduce the prevalence of injury and death through ongoing efforts.

 

 

Michael Stack - AmaxxAuthor Michael Stack, CEO Amaxx LLC. He is an expert in workers’ compensation cost containment systems and helps employers reduce their workers’ comp costs by 20% to 50%.  He works as a consultant to large and mid-market clients, is a co-author of Your Ultimate Guide To Mastering Workers Comp Costs, a comprehensive step-by-step manual of cost containment strategies based on hands-on field experience, and is founder & lead trainer of Amaxx Workers’ Comp Training Center .

 

Contact: mstack@reduceyourworkerscomp.com.

Workers’ Comp Roundup Blog: http://blog.reduceyourworkerscomp.com/

 

©2018 Amaxx LLC. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law.

 

Do not use this information without independent verification. All state laws vary. You should consult with your insurance broker, attorney, or qualified professional.

Operation Safety: A Case Study in Preventable Workplace Falls

Operation Safety: A Case Study in Preventable Workplace FallsFalls from heights and elevated surfaces continue to be a driver in workers’ compensation costs across the United States.  Now is the time for employers and other interested stakeholders to take a stand against falls.  It will not only reduce workers’ compensation program costs but increase morale within the workplace.

 

 

A Case Study in Preventable Workplace Falls

 

Falls within the workplace continue to be the leading cause of workplace deaths despite improvements and availability of cost-effective safety equipment.  This is mainly prevalent in the construction industry where workers engage in daily activities in a variety of settings and conditions.  This includes smaller residential construction projects, which account for a disproportionally high number of catastrophic workers’ compensation claims.  Preventing these incidents all starts with a proactive contractor dedicated to improving the safety on their job site.

 

Preventing falls from heights and elevated surfaces can be prevented by simple strategies:

 

  • Advance planning that includes understanding the job site and unique conditions employees might face when performing their work activities;

 

  • Making sure all employees and others on a construction site have the necessary safety equipment. This includes making sure the equipment is properly working and free from defect; and

 

  • Providing the necessary training on how to correctly use the safety equipment used in the workplace. A surprising number of work injuries and deaths occur when this equipment is not correctly used by employees.

 

 

Communication is Key!

 

The first step in preventing falls in the workplace is communication.  When it comes to workplace safety and a known safety risk, interested stakeholders can never communicate to its workforce enough.  This communication must also be effective.  Steps contractors can take should include:

 

  • The need for buy-in on safety and the expectations of all stakeholders from the beginning. This includes a commitment to working with employees and independent contractors before a project starts;

 

  • All employees need to have the right equipment when work is performed at elevated surfaces and heights. Expectations also need to be set for independent contractors who will work on a project; and

 

  • Proper training that is constant and effective. This must include teaching new employees and veterans the importance of workplace safety and how to use the equipment.  Consistent enforcement and immediate discipline for those who choose not to follow safety procedures is

 

The involvement of labor unions is also important.  Contractors and unions should have a common goal of promoting safety and avoiding falls from heights.  One step both sides can take is to promote the sharing of ideas and creating an atmosphere to create a safe working environment.  Reasonable accommodations should be made when implementing protocols and using equipment to prevent injury and death.

 

 

Operation Stand-down: Taking the Next Step in Workplace Safety

 

Interested stakeholders can also participate in the “National Safety Stand-down to Prevent Falls in Construction” project, which takes place May 7 – 11, 2018.  This is a time designed to bring awareness to the inherent dangers of working at heights, evaluating safety concerns on current job sites and implementing effective strategies in the future.

 

Useful resources are available for employees and employers at the following website: https://www.osha.gov/StopFallsStandDown/resources.html.  This free resource contains easy to use information such as posters, hard hat stickers and other resources to educate all interested stakeholders on easy to implement strategies.  It also has useful information to improve training programs when using ladders and scaffolding.  It also includes information on how to properly use personal fall arrest systems (PFAS).  This information is also available in other languages for employees who do not use English as their primary language.

 

 

Conclusions

 

Falls within the workplace continues to be a significant driver in workers’ compensation costs.  Notwithstanding free resources available to interested stakeholders, injury and death from falls continue to drive program costs.  Now is the time to be proactive on this issue.  Effective and constant training can reduce costs, but also improve workplace morale.

 

 

 

Michael Stack - AmaxxAuthor Michael Stack, CEO Amaxx LLC. He is an expert in workers’ compensation cost containment systems and helps employers reduce their workers’ comp costs by 20% to 50%.  He works as a consultant to large and mid-market clients, is a co-author of Your Ultimate Guide To Mastering Workers Comp Costs, a comprehensive step-by-step manual of cost containment strategies based on hands-on field experience, and is founder & lead trainer of Amaxx Workers’ Comp Training Center .

 

Contact: mstack@reduceyourworkerscomp.com.

Workers’ Comp Roundup Blog: http://blog.reduceyourworkerscomp.com/

 

©2018 Amaxx LLC. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law.

 

Do not use this information without independent verification. All state laws vary. You should consult with your insurance broker, attorney, or qualified professional.

Make OSHA a Partner for Workplace Safety Instead of a Pain

Make OSHA a Partner for Workplace Safety Instead of a Pain

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) was created at the federal level on December 29, 1970, with the goal of assuring “safe and healthful working conditions for working men and women by setting and enforcing standards and by providing training, outreach, education, and assistance.”  Since its creation, the agency has evolved and become commonplace in the workers’ compensation scene as a means of investigating work injuries and providing information to interested stakeholders.  Parties seeking to reduce workers’ compensation program costs should understand OSHA and view the agency as a partner in making workplaces safe for employees.

 

 

Understanding OSHA Basics

 

There are many misconceptions about OSHA.  It is important to those seeking to provide a safe workplace to understand better the requirements and how the agency is responsible for enforcing safety standards.

 

OSHA standards and agency overview covers most private sector employers.  While it does not include many state and local government agencies, employees of these entities are subject to protections by the federal act and applicable state programs.

 

The federal act also allows states to create their own OSHA programs.  In these jurisdictions, the state agency receives funding from the federal government to run its program.  This allows states to develop their own standards, provided they meet the federal minimums required under the Act.  There are currently 22 OSHA approved programs that include: Alaska, Arizona, California, Hawaii, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, Puerto Rico, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and Wyoming.

 

 

OSHA Rights and Responsibilities

 

OSHA mandates the creation of a series of rights and responsibilities that impact covered employers and their employees.  These issues are governed by the basic premise of OSHA – employees have a right to a safe workplace.  It is the responsibility of the employer to provide this environment.  Basic guidelines include the following:

 

  • Employers – Requirements to inform employees of workplace hazards and provide training on how to avoid injury. This provides information people are able to understand, which can include written information in multiple languages.  Accident information needs to be posted in common workspaces.  Prompt response to employee complaints and OSHA corrective action are required.

 

  • Employees – The ability to voice concerns without fear of retaliation. They also should have access to critical safety information.  This includes information concerning chemicals and other harmful materials in the workplace.  All employees need to understand how and when to report workplace incidents.

 

 

Using Workplace Safety Committees to Drive a Culture of Safety

 

There are no federal requirements for employers to have an established and functioning safety committee.  However, many state-based OSHA programs require these committees based on the size of the employer.  Even if one is not required by a state program, employers have found them to be useful in identifying issues, mitigating the danger and implementing cost-effective changes that promote worker safety and injury reduction.  Important steps for a committee to take include:

 

  • Prepare a plan for a safe workplace and best practices;

 

  • Create a safety program and written forms;

 

  • Prepare and present annual training on safety-related issues;

 

  • Initiate a workplace “self-inspection” program to review all safety practices and identify corrective action; and

 

  • Generally promote a safe workplace through legal, compliance and human resources departments. Be creative.  Consider hosting events such as a companywide “safety week” to make all employees aware of safety issues and foster a workplace environment dedicated to safety.

 

Additional information and guidance can be found in federal regulations, which are located at 29 C.F.R. §1960.36 et seq.

 

 

Partnering with OSHA for Workplace Safety

 

All OSHA agencies have resources available to employers concerned about safety.  While the nature of these services varies, it does offer stakeholders seeking to create a culture of compliance to work with OSHA on preventing workplace injuries.  Resources commonly found include the following:

 

  • Seminars and education sessions: These workshops are typically offered to employers free or at a nominal cost to educate parties on common workplace safety hazards.  They also offer tips on cost-effective improvements.

 

  • Safety Partnerships: This is an opportunity for employers to have an OSHA safety inspector visit their worksite or location to identify risks without being subject to fines.  The employer is then given a reasonable amount of time to correct any identified safety issues.

 

 

Conclusions

 

The goal of OSHA is to promote a safe workplace.  By understanding how the agency operates, interested stakeholders can foster an environment of compliance and provide safety to its employees.  In turn, this can reduce workers’ compensation program costs.

 

 

 

Michael Stack - AmaxxAuthor Michael Stack, CEO Amaxx LLC. He is an expert in workers’ compensation cost containment systems and helps employers reduce their workers’ comp costs by 20% to 50%.  He works as a consultant to large and mid-market clients, is a co-author of Your Ultimate Guide To Mastering Workers Comp Costs, a comprehensive step-by-step manual of cost containment strategies based on hands-on field experience, and is founder & lead trainer of Amaxx Workers’ Comp Training Center .

 

Contact: mstack@reduceyourworkerscomp.com.

Workers’ Comp Roundup Blog: http://blog.reduceyourworkerscomp.com/

 

©2018 Amaxx LLC. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law.

 

Do not use this information without independent verification. All state laws vary. You should consult with your insurance broker, attorney, or qualified professional.

If You Have a Workplace Policy Against Drunk Driving, Then Pay Attention…

Cell Phones Cause Death, Huge Costs, and Work-Related InjuriesIf you knew a certain behavior put your employees at a four-times greater risk of injury would you encourage it? Probably not. Yet many employers allow and even encourage workers to use cell phones while driving, despite the evidence showing the danger.

 

In addition to putting workers at risk, employers have been held liable for up to $25 million for employee crashes — even when they were using hands-free devices. Companies can protect their workers, greatly reduce their workers’ compensation costs, and steer clear of liability by implementing and enforcing distracted driving policies.

 

 

The Problem

 

Motor vehicle crashes are the #1 cause of work-related deaths each year, and distractions are one of the main reasons for accidents. Cell phone use while driving results in 1.6 million auto accidents annually.

 

Studies show people who drive while talking on the phone are 4 times more likely to have a crash, and those who text are 8 times more likely. Distracted driving also presents risks for workers in the area. In fact, distraction is the top cause of accidents in work zones.

 

The problem is our brains are not equipped to fully concentrate on both driving and cell phone use simultaneously. Driving and communicating via cell phone both require significant brain power. But the brain cannot focus it’s complete attention on more than one task, so it must choose where to focus attention, or split attention between two or more mental activities.

 

The effect is the area of our brain that processes moving images decreases by one-third when we are talking on the phone — whether it is a hand-held or hands-free device, since both are more cognitively demanding than having a conversation with someone in the car.

 

Drivers who use cell phones can miss seeing up to 50 percent of their driving environment. Several studies have shown talking on a cell phone (hands-free or not) while driving is comparable to driving while drunk.

 

One 2006 study showed “when drivers were conversing on either a handheld or hands-free cell phone, their braking reactions were delayed and they were involved in more traffic accidents than when they were not conversing on a cell phone. By contrast, when drivers were intoxicated from ethanol they exhibited a more aggressive driving style, following closer to the vehicle immediately in front of them and applying more force while braking.” This resulted in the conclusion “when driving conditions and time on task were controlled for, the impairments associated with using a cell phone while driving can be as profound as those associated with driving while drunk.”

 

 

The Liability

 

There are numerous cases showing the extent of employers’ liability for accidents caused by cell phone usage. Examples are:

 

  • A jury found that a driver and the company that owned the vehicle were liable for $21.6 million because testimony revealed that the driver may have been talking with her husband on a cell phone at the time of the fatal crash.
  • An off-duty police officer was texting moments before a fatal crash and because he was driving a police cruiser, his employer was held liable for $4 million.
  • An employee was involved in a fatal crash while making ‘cold calls’ as he drove to a non-business related event on a Saturday night. The firm did not own the phone or the vehicle, but the plaintiff claimed that the company was liable because it encouraged employees to use their car phones and lacked a policy governing safe cell phone use. His firm settled the lawsuit for $500,000.

 

Employers can be found legally responsible for negligent employee actions if the employee was acting within the scope of his employment when he crashed. Juries are increasingly finding against employers that fail to prevent distracted driving among their employees. Experts say the way to avoid that liability is by showing there is a policy against distracted driving and that it is enforced.

 

 

Distracted Driving Policy

 

A total ban on cell phone use is the best way to prevent distracted driving crashes. The ban should cover

 

  • All employees
  • All company vehicles
  • All company cell phone devices
  • All work-related communications
  • Both handheld and hands-free devices

 

Employers may also want to include personally-owned phones that are reimbursed by the company. And they need not worry about decreased productivity. In fact, there is research showing that not only is productivity generally not reduced, but in some cases it improves.

 

The policy should make the car a distraction-free zone, and include the following:

 

  1. Prohibit all non-emergency use of hand held or hands-free phones and mobile electronic data devices while driving or operating equipment.
  2. Require cell phones in cars to be put on silent and located in a purse, briefcase or the console.
  3. Allow cell phone use in cars only when the driver has parked in a safe location. That should be an area that is away from the road, such as a parking lot.
  4. Enforce the ban. For example, some companies give warnings to employees the first two times they are caught driving while using a cell phone, while a third violation is grounds for immediate dismissal.

 

Managers can help promote a culture of distraction-free driving by doing the following:

 

  1. Advise employees to carefully plan their trips, to see when and where they can park to make phone calls.
  2. Avoid scheduling conference calls during travel times for staff.
  3. Encourage employees to have a voicemail greeting that informs callers they are driving and cannot answer the phone

 

 

Conclusion

 

Where cell phones are seen as a great benefit to the workplace, they can be just the opposite when employees who use them while driving. Employers can reduce or eliminate the risk by implementing cell phone policies for driving, educating employees, monitoring compliance and enforcing the policy.

 

 

Michael Stack - AmaxxAuthor Michael Stack, CEO Amaxx LLC. He is an expert in workers’ compensation cost containment systems and helps employers reduce their workers’ comp costs by 20% to 50%.  He works as a consultant to large and mid-market clients, is a co-author of Your Ultimate Guide To Mastering Workers Comp Costs, a comprehensive step-by-step manual of cost containment strategies based on hands-on field experience, and is founder & lead trainer of Amaxx Workers’ Comp Training Center .

 

Contact: mstack@reduceyourworkerscomp.com.

Workers’ Comp Roundup Blog: http://blog.reduceyourworkerscomp.com/

 

©2018 Amaxx LLC. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law.

 

Do not use this information without independent verification. All state laws vary. You should consult with your insurance broker, attorney, or qualified professional.

Make Your Workplace Safety Committee Successful to Reduce Work Comp Costs

Workplace Safety Committees Reduce Work Comp Costs Employer safety committees play an important role in promoting a safe work environment.  Their function is not limited to reducing workplace injuries.  They can also assist in injury response and educate others within the workplace.  If a committee is well run, they can also promote the reduction of workers’ compensation program costs.

 

 

What is a “Safety Committee?”

 

A safety committee is comprised of members from an employer that assist leadership in promoting workplace safety.  Depending on labor rules, these committees can be required in some instances.  Regardless of the regulatory requirements, they serve an important role in a number of functions:

 

  • Health and Safety Planning: All employers need procedures for a safe workplace. This includes the handling of chemicals or harmful materials, the use and operation of equipment and how one responds to workplace injuries;

 

  • Enterprise accountability: Committees can help other interested stakeholders such as human resources, legal and compliance evaluate the safety within the workplace.  Involving additional people can add credibility to a safety program and promote acceptance of best practices companywide; and

 

  • Accident Investigation: It is essential to go beyond the minimum steps when responding to an injury. An active committee can refine processes and make recommendations to improve conditions.  Avoiding accidents in the best way and most cost-effective approach to preventing workplace injuries.

 

 

The functions of a safety committee are without limit.  Be creative.

 

 

Defining the Roles of the Safety Committee

 

All safety committees should meet on a regular basis and follow an agenda.  It is essential leadership within a company respects the wisdom of the committee and is willing to promote change.  This starts with having a defined chain of command within the committee structure.  Common committee structures include:

 

  • Chairperson: This should be a recognized leader within an organization who has direct access to upper management.  This person establishes meeting agenda and conducts orderly meetings;

 

  • Vice-chairperson: This person should also have influence within an organization.  The position serves as a back-up to the chairperson and also serves on a subcommittee, or is active in committee activities;

 

  • Secretary: Minutes should be taken of all committee meetings that accurately reflect what was discussed and action that will be taken.  These minutes should be compiled in a log that is accessible to all company employees and is distributed promptly to committee members following meetings; and

 

  • General Members: There is no “right” size for a committee.  Membership on the committee should represent different areas within the organization such as administration, operations, and personnel.  Membership on a committee should rotate to obtain input from employees with varying experience and knowledge of an organization.

 

Labor union leaders or representatives should also be included, if applicable, as they would be aware of specific workplace rules.

 

 

Making Your Safety Committee Successful

 

There is no specific recipe for a successful safety committee.  Common traits of committees that make the most impact within an organization include the following:

 

  • Consistent scheduling of committee meetings: Special meetings can be held to address important concerns as they arise on an ad hoc basis;

 

  • Consistent advertising and announcements: It is important to all employees to know what is going on with a safety committee and whom to contact about concerns.  By publishing agendas and meeting minutes that are accessible to all people, employees feel empowered to make a positive change within their organizations;

 

  • Consistent attendance of committee members: Committees can only function and operate when its members attend meetings.  By accepting a position on a safety committee, people need to make it a priority.  The names of members in attendance should always be accurately listed on meeting minutes; and

 

  • Consistent flow of information on committee accomplishments: It is important to let co-workers know what is going on at committee meetings and projects it is working on during the course of business.  Effective committees have bulletin boards or Intranet pages dedicated to committee projects and operations.

 

 

Conclusions

 

Interested stakeholders in workers’ compensation programs can implement a safety committee to improve the workplace environment and reduce costs.  The key to an effective safety committee is creativity and consistency.  It also requires engagement by all employees within the workplace to reinforce the message of best practices and not cutting corners when it comes to avoiding and improving response to work injuries.

 

 

 

Michael Stack - AmaxxAuthor Michael Stack, CEO Amaxx LLC. He is an expert in workers’ compensation cost containment systems and helps employers reduce their workers’ comp costs by 20% to 50%.  He works as a consultant to large and mid-market clients, is a co-author of Your Ultimate Guide To Mastering Workers Comp Costs, a comprehensive step-by-step manual of cost containment strategies based on hands-on field experience, and is founder & lead trainer of Amaxx Workers’ Comp Training Center .

 

Contact: mstack@reduceyourworkerscomp.com.

Workers’ Comp Roundup Blog: http://blog.reduceyourworkerscomp.com/

 

©2018 Amaxx LLC. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law.

 

Do not use this information without independent verification. All state laws vary. You should consult with your insurance broker, attorney, or qualified professional.

Develop an Injury Prevention Program to Reduce Workers’ Comp Costs

worker comp safety constructionIt goes without saying that stakeholders in workers’ compensation programs seek to reduce programs costs through ethical measures with the employee in mind.  Part of these steps can include the development of a workplace safety and injury prevention program.  While the development of a program like this may take time, it can improve efficiencies through the reduction in workplace injuries, promote safety and improve morale among employees.

 

 

What is the Purpose of the Program?

 

 

The purpose of this type of program is threefold – reduce workplace injuries, promote an effective injury response and encourage a better response once an injury occurs.  Important steps that need to be taken to develop an injury prevention program should include the following:

 

  • Establishment of a committee comprised of employees from management and labor. All departments within an organization must be represented;

 

  • Training is important and needs to include all employees. Training needs to start when an employee enters the workplace as a new hire, and be ongoing to cover all employees during their career; and

 

  • Setting realistic and objective goals can help measure the effectiveness of any program.

 

 

 

What Goals Should Be Set For a Program?

 

 

The goals of any injury prevention program should be tailored to the specific industry and type of company seeking to reduce their workers’ compensation program costs.  Areas to consider might include:

 

  • Fostering a culture that values safety and maintains programming that involves all employees;

 

  • Focus on avoidance of workplace slips, trips and falls;

 

  • Emphasis on workplace ergonomics as it is something that impacts employees in every type of position;

 

  • Frequent and complete on-site safety inspections to identify potential hazards. Immediate repair and remediation of unsafe conditions is key;

 

  • Training and availability of all workers’ compensation forms. This includes First Reports of Injury, and other accident reporting forms an employee might need; and

 

  • Review of all safety hazards including issues of concern in the modern workplace. This can include active shooter, violence prevention, and chemical dependence.

 

 

Who Is Responsible for Workplace Safety and Injury Prevention?

 

Everyone is responsible for workplace safety when implementing an injury prevention program.  Common duties and responsibilities should include:

 

  • Senior Management: Business owners and upper-level stakeholders play an important role in workplace safety and injury prevention/reduction.  They set the tone for a culture of safety.  Remember that actions speak louder than words.  Showing up and being fully engaged in safety initiatives is key as employees pay attention.

 

  • Managers and Supervisors: This level of stakeholders help drive home the importance of safety within the company  Being open and honest with employees promotes a situation where employees feel empowered to express safety concerns.  They should also be a resource to employees who have questions about safety issues.

 

  • Employees: Everyone plays a role in promoting a safe workplace.  Employees need to say something if they see it.  Tensions rise when injuries – especially minor ones are not reported  Remember, even an employee can complete a First Report of Injury.

 

  • Safety Committee/Safety Director: The purpose of this committee should be to identify and report areas of concern in the workplace.  An effective safety director should be someone willing to speak up when stakeholders are not paying attention to important issues.

 

 

Conclusions

 

The implementation of a safety and injury prevention program takes time and effort by all employees regardless of title or position.  By asking simple questions and making the investment into the matter, any company can put together an effective program that promotes better workplace morale and reduces workers’ compensation costs.

 

 

 

Michael Stack - AmaxxAuthor Michael Stack, CEO Amaxx LLC. He is an expert in workers’ compensation cost containment systems and helps employers reduce their workers’ comp costs by 20% to 50%.  He works as a consultant to large and mid-market clients, is a co-author of Your Ultimate Guide To Mastering Workers Comp Costs, a comprehensive step-by-step manual of cost containment strategies based on hands-on field experience, and is founder & lead trainer of Amaxx Workers’ Comp Training Center .

 

Contact: mstack@reduceyourworkerscomp.com.

Workers’ Comp Roundup Blog: http://blog.reduceyourworkerscomp.com/

 

©2018 Amaxx LLC. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law.

 

Do not use this information without independent verification. All state laws vary. You should consult with your insurance broker, attorney, or qualified professional.

A Common Sense Approach to Job Hazard Analysis

workers comp job hazard analysisEvery article, book, blog or pamphlet written on safety will tell the employer to identify the hazards and correct them. By identifying the hazards that cause injury to the employees and removing or mitigating the hazards, the number of workers compensation claims is reduced. What is often not addressed is how you go about doing a job hazard analysis. While this topic could be an entire book, I will summarize what to do to identify and correct your hazards.

 

A hazard can be anything that has the potential to cause injury or illness if left uncontrolled. The job hazard analysis is used to identify these hazards before the injury or illness occurs. To do this, the relationship between the employee, the tools or equipment, the work to be accomplished and the work environment is examined. This allows for identification of what the hazards are and then you can decide on the steps to remove the hazards.

 

 

Begin By Reviewing Workplace Records


A job hazard analysis should begin with a review of the workplaces records for accidents and injuries. If you are not already receiving a monthly loss run from your insurance carrier, ask your broker to obtain one for you. This will provide you with information on the nature and type of injuries that have occurred in your workplace. The known hazards can easily be identified in this manner, and this will show you where the existing methods of hazard prevention are not working.

What the loss run does not include is the “near misses” where the employee was lucky enough to escape an incident without injury. This is why the employees in the trenches need to be involved in the identification of hazards. Their knowledge of their job and what can go wrong will assist you in building a completed job hazard analysis. By asking the employees for their input into their safety, the employees will become much more involved in providing valuable insights into the hazards in the workplace.

 

 

Obtain Ideas on Eliminating Hazards

 

Ask the employees what they would do to make their work and their workplace safer. Discuss with the employees their recommendations on how to improve the safety of the work process they follow. Obtain their ideas on eliminating the hazards. Questions you can ask the employees about their work include:

  1. What has gone wrong before?
  2. What is likely to go wrong?
  3. If something goes wrong, what will happen?
  4. How could the occurrence be prevented?

5.      What are other factors that come into play?

  1. What are the chances that the hazard will occur?

 

Repeat the list of questions for each hazard each employee identifies. The answers to each question should be written down. The same format should be used with each hazard discussed with any employee. This will assist you in identifying the hazards and provide you with suggestions or recommendations on how to curtail the hazards.

 

If the employees express their concern about an imminent danger, address the problem immediately. This will show the employees you are serious about protecting them from the hazards of the job. Also, if several employees identify the same hazard, the likelihood of someone getting injured due to the hazard is greater.

 

After you have been through each of the jobs in the workplace, make a list of the identified hazards. Rearrange the list to rank the hazards that are the highest risk of causing severe injuries. The hazards at the top of your new list should be carefully analyzed to determine how the hazard can be eliminated or at least reduced.

 

 

Knowledge of Workplace and Prior Injuries

A job hazard analysis can be conducted on any job in the workplace from clerical to production. Knowledge of the workplace and what injuries have previously occurred is an excellent place to start. Look for:

  1. jobs that have had the most injuries or illnesses
  2. jobs with the potential to cause severe injury, even if no prior accidents have occurred
  3. jobs where a mistake could cause a severe accident
  4. jobs that have been recently redesigned or changed
  5. jobs that require written instructions


 When you have finished compiling your list of hazards, decide on how the hazards will be reduced or eliminated. The three main ways of dealing with the hazards are engineering controls, administrative controls, and personal protective equipment.

 

With engineering controls, the facility, equipment or process is redesigned to remove the hazard or to lessen the chance of the hazard occurring. There are many ways this can be accomplished including machine guards, blast shields, lockout systems, hazard enclosure, noise reduction systems, ventilation systems, etc.

 

Administrative controls would include better employee training, written operating procedures, time limits, changes in workflow, alarms, monitoring and closer supervision.

 

Many types of personal protective gear can be utilized to reduce or eliminate hazards including safety glasses, hearing protection, hardhat, steel toe shoes, leather gloves, respirators and protective clothing.

 

 

Engineering Controls

Normally, the most effective way to control hazards is through engineering controls – for example covering a conveyor belt with a side shield to prevent clothes or jewelry from coming into contact with it. If engineering controls are not feasible or possible, then administrative controls by management changing the work process should be considered. If engineering controls and administrative controls will not prevent the hazard, the introduction of protective gear and equipment should be mandated. A simple thing like steel toe boots and leather work gloves can eliminate some hazards.

With some hazards, a combination of engineering controls, administrative controls, and protective clothing should be used. The job hazard analysis should direct you in determining the hazard control method to be used. By eliminating or reducing the hazards in the workplace, there will be fewer employee injuries and illnesses which will result in lower workers compensation cost and increased employee productivity.

 

 

 

Stop the Workplace Falls While Decking the Halls!

Workplace safety is important during the holiday season.  Stressing this topic can also reduce workers’ compensation program expenses.  This is especially true as employees are decking the workplace halls — you want to avoid falla falls, falla falls, falls, falls falls!

 

 

The Real Expense of Workplace Safety

 

Failing to have a safe workplace impacts, everyone.  Employees get injured; overtime costs go up; all employees get stressed.  It also reduces productivity and adds unnecessary costs to the hiring and replacement of talented individuals who cannot return to work.  It adds to healthcare costs in the United States and places an unnecessary burden on emergency rooms.  Now is the time to prevent workplace injuries.

 

 

Slip, Trips and Falls in the Workplace

 

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) tracks injuries and deaths that occur in the American workplace.  Approximately 15% of all deaths in workers’ compensation settings occur when someone falls in a same level or multi-level incident.  Only motor vehicle accidents account for more workplace deaths.

 

The economic impact of slip/fall injuries is astronomical.  The National Safety Council estimates these types of injuries cost American industry over $13 billion per year.  This averages out to be about $40,000 per incident.  The consequence of poor training and safety compliance continues to grow.  Interested and proactive claims management teams can make a difference and reverse this troubling trend.  It also starts with educating insured on fall avoidance and other safety issues.

 

 

Creating a Culture of Safety

 

OSHA does require training for all employees subject to slip/fall dangers.  Those interested in making a difference in their workplace need to go beyond the minimum requirements.

 

Prevent same level slip and fall injuries:

 

  • Keep work areas free of clutter, dust and other debris;
  • Require employees to wear low-heeled shoes with no-slip surfaces;
  • Ensure that rugs and mats have skid-proof backing;
  • Avoid having non-tracked flooring installed in workspaces;
  • Discourage horseplay in the workplace. This can include specifically prohibiting conduct that can result in slips, falls or other related injuries;
  • Keep rooms free of clutter, especially on floors; and
  • Use correct lighting in stairwells and hallways.

 

Employees working at heights such as catwalks, ladders, and scaffolding are in extreme danger for severe injury from falls.  Important measures to implement in the workplace should include:

 

  • Development and implementation of a fall protection program. This includes training and ongoing evaluation of safety measures for employees and management to use daily;
  • Avoid unprotected side and openings. When these settings are unavoidable, use of a guardrail, safety net or fall arrest systems are paramount;
  • Provide instruction on the safe posting and use of ladders;
  • Purchase and require the use of OSHA compliant ladders when engaging in workplace activities; and
  • Inspection of ladders and scaffolding before and after all use.

 

While this list is not all-inclusive, there needs to be a proactive approach to employee safety when working at heights.  It is also important to engage management on these issues and foster a culture of compliance with safety procedures and injury avoidance.

 

 

Conclusions

 

The holiday season should be a time of joy and gratitude—not emergency room visits.  While slip/fall injuries will never be eliminated, they can be avoided.  Taking a proactive approach reduces workers’ compensation costs and allows people to focus on the holiday season.

 

 

 

Michael Stack - AmaxxAuthor Michael Stack, CEO Amaxx LLC. He is an expert in workers compensation cost containment systems and helps employers reduce their work comp costs by 20% to 50%.  He works as a consultant to large and mid-market clients, is co-author of Your Ultimate Guide To Mastering Workers Comp Costs, a comprehensive step-by-step manual of cost containment strategies based on hands-on field experience, and is founder & lead trainer of Amaxx Workers’ Comp Training Center.

 

Contact: mstack@reduceyourworkerscomp.com.

Workers’ Comp Roundup Blog: http://blog.reduceyourworkerscomp.com/

 

©2017 Amaxx LLC. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law.

 

Do not use this information without independent verification. All state laws vary. You should consult with your insurance broker, attorney, or qualified professional.

7 Ways to Protect Employees from Work Related Auto Fatalities

Distracted- and drowsy-driving fatalities are down; however the overall number of motor vehicle crashes was up in 2016. The latest figures from the Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reflect the number of motor vehicle fatalities in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

 

Overall, there were 37,461 motor vehicle deaths last year. The fatality rate of 1.18 deaths per 100 million vehicle miles traveled represents a 2.6-percent increase from the previous year. The vast majority of crashes are linked to ‘human choices,’ according to the NHTSA. The figures point to the continued need for employers to keep their employees safe behind the wheel — especially the youngest and oldest workers.

 

 

The Facts

 

While there was an overall 2.2 increase in the number of vehicle miles traveled on U.S. roads last year, that doesn’t account for the 5.6 percent increase in fatalities. Distracted related deaths decreased by 2.2 percent and drowsy driving fatalities were reduced by 3.5 percent, but other factors increased:

 

  • Drunk-driving deaths were up by 1.7 per­cent.
  • Speeding-related deaths increased by 4 percent.
  • Failure to wear seatbelts contributed to an increase in deaths of 4.6 percent.
  • Motorcyclist deaths increased by 5.1 percent and were the highest since 2008.
  • Pedestrian deaths were up by 9 percent, the most since 1990.
  • Bicyclist deaths increased by 1.3 percent, and were the highest since 1991.

 

Workers who are especially at risk of motor vehicle fatalities include the young — aged 16 to 24 — and older workers, of at least 55 years.

 

  • Between 2011 and 2015, 470 workers in the younger age segment were killed in auto crashes at work. That accounted for more than 1/4 of all work related deaths in that age bracket.
  • Motor vehicle crashes account for nearly 1/3 of all work-related deaths among workers age 55 or older.

 

 

Develop Policies

 

All employers who have workers that drive for business should have specific policies to ensure safe driving.  These should include:

 

  • A ban on texting and hand-held phone use while driving.
  • A prohibition on driving while a worker is under the influence of alcohol, illegal drugs or certain prescription and over-the counter medications that may impact driving.
  • Periodic training provided to promote safe driving strategies and discuss changes in road rules.
  • Breaks during the work shift.
  • Allowance for workers to take short naps — 30 minutes or less — in a safe location if they are tired while driving.
  • Information on sleep disorders and other illnesses that may impact drowsiness.

 

Special attention should be paid to younger and older employees to ensure their safety on the road.

 

 

Protecting New Drivers

 

Young workers have the highest crash rate based on miles driven, largely due to their inexperience. They are typically less able than other workers to recognize and respond to traffic risks.

 

There are several steps employers should take to prevent accidents among the youngest workers.

 

1) Know the law. Young workers are restricted in terms of whether, when and how long they can drive for work.

  • Workers age 16 and under in non-agricultural jobs may not drive for work.
  • Workers age 17 may drive on public roads in non-agricultural jobs, but are limited by time and task: They must first complete a state-approved driver’s ed course and have no record of moving violations at hiring time; Their driving time may not exceed 33 percent of their workday, and 20 percent of their work week; Their driving must be done only during daylight hours.; They can only drive vehicles that are no more than 6,000 gross vehicle weight and have seatbelts for all occupations.; They are not allowed to tow another vehicle.; They cannot drive more than a 30 mile radius from the primary work place.  Workers under age 21 are generally not permitted to drive a commercial motor vehicle across state lines.

 

2) Do background checks. Before hiring a young worker to drive, make sure he has a valid state license and has no record of moving violations.

 

3) Take precautions. Before sending the worker out on the road, make sure the assignment follows state laws for such things as nigh driving restrictions and transporting other teens. Additionally, make sure the worker has been trained on the safety features of the vehicle to be driven.

 

 

Reducing Risks for Older Workers

 

While older workers are more likely to adhere to safety regulations – such as wearing seatbelts, they have twice the risk of dying when they do get into a work-related accident compared to younger workers.

 

Part of the reason they have accidents is due to a decline in their physical and mental abilities that coincide with the aging process. Eyesight, hearing, motor skills and cognitive function can deteriorate with age. Employers should consider the needs of older workers in their safety and health programs.

 

4) Reconsider the options. Reducing the amount of time older workers are driving can prevent accidents. Consider whether work can be done without having to drive. If they must drive, make sure their schedules are such that they can obey speed limits to complete the tasks.

 

5) Offer some leeway. Allow drivers to talk with their supervisors to adjust their driving hours if they have problems with night vision, for example, or if they are too tired or uncomfortable driving in bad weather.

 

6) Base driving on their actual ability. Conduct periodic assessments of drivers to determine their proficiency, and restrict driving based on them.

 

7) Inform. Older workers who take a variety of medications may be unaware of the effects they can have. Offer information about the potential effects of prescription and over-the-counter medications on driving.

 

 

Conclusion

 

Preventable motor vehicle crashes take an unnecessary human and financial toll on businesses every day. By focusing on the reasons and taking steps to alleviate them, payers can keep their workers safe and on the job.

 

 

 

Michael Stack - AmaxxAuthor Michael Stack, CEO Amaxx LLC. He is an expert in workers compensation cost containment systems and helps employers reduce their work comp costs by 20% to 50%.  He works as a consultant to large and mid-market clients, is co-author of Your Ultimate Guide To Mastering Workers Comp Costs, a comprehensive step-by-step manual of cost containment strategies based on hands-on field experience, and is founder & lead trainer of Amaxx Workers’ Comp Training Center. .

 

Contact: mstack@reduceyourworkerscomp.com.

Workers’ Comp Roundup Blog: http://blog.reduceyourworkerscomp.com/

 

©2017 Amaxx LLC. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law.

 

Do not use this information without independent verification. All state laws vary. You should consult with your insurance broker, attorney, or qualified professional.

Wearable Technology In Workers’ Compensation

wearable technology in workers' compensationAdvances in technology and “gadget” trends are changing the American landscape and culture.  These fashionable and hip items can influence your workers’ compensation program.  This includes how interested stakeholders shape their programs, and provide other applications such as monitoring employee performance and returning them to work following an injury.  They can also assist employers and other interested parties with claims investigation and the detection of work injuries.  Now is the time for everyone with an interest in the process to take note.

 

 

What is wearable technology?

 

Simply put, “wearable” technology is something a person wears that provides real-time data on specific metrics.  Common examples of this include Fitbit® instruments that commonly come in the form of a bracelet.  The user wears it during the day and night to track specific fitness and health-related touchpoints such as:

 

  • Heart rate;
  • Movement, activity or step counter;
  • Calories burned during the day;
  • Restfulness of one’s sleep; and
  • Blood pressure and other medical-related readings.

 

Wearable technology comes in other forms.  Sensors and microchips can be implanted in watches, shoes and clothing to track similar performance metrics.  There is even talk of employers one day implanting sensors under an employee’s skin.

 

 

Applications for Monitoring Employee Performance and Safety

 

Due to the ease of using this technology and decreasing costs, employers are taking advantage of these advances to promote biometric analysis beyond health and wellness.  Examples of this automation include bionic suits and exoskeletons to bolster worker performance and strength.  Special helmets can increase safety and enhance employee performance.

 

There are also applications for reducing workers’ compensation program costs.  Examples of this include:

 

  • Real-time reporting of an employee’s location;
  • Immediate reporting of an employee in distress. This can include their precise location and allow for remote communication in summoning emergency assistance; and
  • Sensors that measure the force of impact that can be used in the diagnosis and treatment of a workplace injury.

 

Wearable technology can also be utilized to assist even employees performing sedentary work.  Common problems in these positions is poor posture, which places unnecessary stress on one’s back, neck and upper extremities.  Wearable technology can be used to caution the employee of their posture and assist in making the necessary adjustments to a desk or workstation.

 

 

 

Other Uses in Workers’ Compensation

 

American labor is only seeing the beginning of how wearable technology can impact workers’ compensation.  Thought leaders within the industry are exploring how this technology can also be used to fit other aspects of the claims process to streamline the system and reduce program costs.  Potential future applications include:

 

  • Assisting the employee, treating physician and other interested stakeholders in post-injury care, progress and return-to-work issues;
  • Development of assistive devices that can return even those suffering the most severe spinal cord injuries to work in sedentary and medium-duty work; and
  • Uses in vocational rehabilitation and retraining efforts.

 

The potential for these devices are limitless.  Some critical barriers that need to be addressed include the privacy of an individual versus the needs and demands of employers and insurance carriers.

 

 

Conclusions

 

Millions of Americans use wearable technology every day.  Now is the time for interested stakeholders to familiarize themselves with these developments and trends.  Proactive leaders will examine and implement the use of these devices for practical applications to their workers’ compensation programs.

 

 

 

Michael Stack - AmaxxAuthor Michael Stack, Principal, Amaxx LLC. He is an expert in workers compensation cost containment systems and helps employers reduce their work comp costs by 20% to 50%.  He works as a consultant to large and mid-market clients, is co-author of Your Ultimate Guide To Mastering Workers Comp Costs, a comprehensive step-by-step manual of cost containment strategies based on hands-on field experience, and is founder & lead trainer of Amaxx Workers’ Comp Training Center. .

 

Contact: mstack@reduceyourworkerscomp.com.

Workers’ Comp Roundup Blog: http://blog.reduceyourworkerscomp.com/

 

©2017 Amaxx LLC. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law.

 

Do not use this information without independent verification. All state laws vary. You should consult with your insurance broker, attorney, or qualified professional.

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