3 Ways to Make Your Worksite Injury-Free

Keeping workers safe on the job doesn’t need to entail major expense, and it’s the best way to keep your workers’ compensation costs down. But it’s easy to overlook the steps needed to prevent on-the-job accidents, no matter what type of work being done. Employers can take a cue from the person who has, arguably, the most dangerous job in the world.

 

Nik Wallenda, of the famed Flying Wallendas, walks a tightrope. But he considers himself an artist rather than a daredevil because of the safety measures he takes. Before each walk, he spends months preparing for the worst case scenario — having the local fire department douse him and the wire with gallons of water before going over Niagara Falls, or generating 90-mile-an-hour winds with airboats pointed at him as he practices for a walk above the Grand Canyon. He even rehearses his rescue plan — if it’s ever needed — where he kneels down to the wire while rescuers can get to him within 90 seconds.

 

While the dangers he faces are much more than those for most workers, his methods are best practices that everyone can use: understanding the risks, training all involved, prepping for the actual event.

 

Assess the risks

Before sending workers into areas with known or unknown hazards, companies should be very familiar with the risks involved. For Nik Wallenda, that means researching the area where he plans to do a wire walk from all angles — including below, where onlookers could be at risk.

 

It’s similar for other professions; construction workers shouldn’t put ladders or scaffolding on ground that may be unstable, electrical workers shouldn’t be lifted up to utility wires on a day when high winds are expected, and office workers shouldn’t be sent on an errand in a company car that has features with which they are unfamiliar.

 

Companies can begin to identify risks by looking at the worker, tasks to be done, tools and the environment and how they may relate to one another. Some things to consider include overhead obstructions, power lines, moving equipment at the site, debris such as tree branches or cords, drop-offs or holes, ice and snow, and inadequate ventilation or lighting.

 

There are a variety of ways to assess risks.

  • The first step can be just taking a walk around the worksite to see what hazards are obvious.
  • Talk with people familiar with the work and/or the area can provide valuable insights. Get employees involved in the process to reveal known risks and better ensure they will take necessary precautions to protect themselves.
  • OSHA’s website osha.gov has practical guidance on typical hazards.
  • Read the instructions and material safety data sheets from manufacturers to pinpoint likely risks and how to reduce them.
  • Review past accident records to identify and avoid repeat accidents.

 

Once hazards are identified, employers can consider various controls to reduce risks to employees.

 

 

Train and Educate Workers

 

Sending an untrained worker to do a job is like sending someone who has never driven a car into a truck on the highway — it’s a recipe for disaster. Your workers need to know what the risks are and how to avoid them. For example, if falling over tools is a danger, workers should be told to keep the work area clean and given a place to put tools when not in use.

 

Assigning responsibilities to specific personnel better ensures proper oversight is taken. Every employee should be aware of his own and the employer’s responsibilities for health and safety, and be familiar with ways to manage the hazards.

 

Any employee who could be exposed to a workplace hazard should be required to receive training. Issues they should understand are:

 

  • Emergency procedures
  • Injury/incident reporting
  • What to do if a coworker is injured
  • Proper use and maintenance of the equipment needed

 

Those doing the training should be vetted to ensure they are qualified, and should be required to meet certain criteria. Information about safety, such as posters, should be posted in areas where the greatest number of workers are likely to see them, such as a breakroom.

 

 

Prepping for Specific Activities.

 

Before he walked over Niagara Falls, Nik Wallenda and his team treated the wire and used special materials on the soles of his shoes to prevent slippage. In much the same way, employers should make all necessary preparations before workers embark on any hazardous task.

 

Conducting a final training — or prep — session allows one more opportunity to make sure workers know what they will be doing, how to prevent injuries, and ask any lingering questions they may have. The trainer or a qualified supervisor can conduct the session. It might also be advisable to act out skits where employees could or will face hazards and how they should handle them.

 

OSHA requires that employers provide workers with an environment that is “free from recognized hazards.” In addition to meeting the government’s mandate, a safety plan properly implemented can protect workers and save significant dollars on workers’ compensation claim costs.

 

For additional information on workers’ compensation cost containment best practices, register as a guest for our next live stream training.

 

Author Michael Stack, Principal, COMPClub, 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 of COMPClub, an exclusive member training program on workers compensation cost containment best practices.

 

Contact: mstack@reduceyourworkerscomp.com.

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

Live Stream WC Training: http://workerscompclub.com/livestreamtraining.com

 

©2016 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.

 
Photo credit: _gee_ via Visual Hunt / CC BY  

The Smallest Things Make the Biggest Impact In Work Comp Claims Prevention

A majority of work comp claims can be prevented. It would be hard to technically eliminate the total risk of them occurring, but it is possible to decrease the risk.  Oftentimes these are simple safety tasks to implement, not painstaking ones.  Risk managers and safety personnel can sometimes think too much about it, but simplest answer is often the most effective.

 

Slips, trip and fall injuries, and overexertion are responsible for the bulk of claims. Depending on the tasks performed on your work floor, this could be the bulk of a worker’s day from the start of the workweek to the end. 

 

 

Minor Changes Can Significantly Increase Safety

 

Preventing the most common injuries can be as simple as maintaining good housekeeping practices, and a few minor changes can significantly increase safety in the workplace and lower workers’ comp costs.

 

 

6 Tips to Reduce Common Injuries

 

For example, If you live in the Midwest or Northeast, many injuries each year are due to employees slipping on ice and snow.  In addition to that, no matter where you reside, employees can slip on water or grease spills, and also trip over objects, resulting in minor to severe injury.  Here are ways to reduce these risks:

 

  • Fix poor lighting in areas where injuries occur the most.

 

  • Keep floors and stairs clean and free of objects or debris.

 

  • Clean slippery surfaces regularly and make sure machinery is marked off so workers do not get clothing or laces caught up in moving objects.

 

  • Covers hoses and cords or run them out of the path of passing employs in walking areas or work benches.

 

  • Keep aisles clutter free and make sure any spills are promptly cleaned and a product such as Floor-Dry is used to soak up any remaining oils or liquid after a spill.

 

  • Repair uneven surfaces or cracks in your work floor to eliminate tripping or stumbling.

 

 

Overexertion Injuries

 

Overexertion injuries occur mainly due to lifting, pushing and pulling, bending and twisting, repetitive motion, and awkward postures.  Out of those risks, lifting and pushing/pulling tasks will be the cause for the majority of injuries. 

 

To move materials, think about utilizing:

 

  • Conveyers

 

  • Hoists

 

  • Lift-assist devices and equipment designed to reduce material handling and manual lifting.

 

  • Reduce the weight of the materials to be moved or break down pallets into smaller, more manageable loads that are easier on your employees.

 

 

Teach Employees Proper Lifting Techniques

 

Another effective alternative is to invest in teaching employees proper lifting techniques, such as “lifting with the legs and not the back,” or “bending the tool and not the wrist.”  These may seem like no-brainers, but these mottos need to constantly be ingrained in the minds of each employee you have working for you on your work floor.  It really can go a long way in preventing injury. 

 

Even something as simple as implementing a lift-limit, meaning that if material is over a certain weight, a worker has to go get another employee to help.  Install some discipline if a coworker is caught breaking the lifting rules. Even better is implementing a reward system, when another employee is observed helping another employee out.  A $10 gas card mean seem like nothing these days, but everyone loves getting some help at the gas pump, even if it is only $10. 

 

Other common-sense solutions include using handles to lift boxes when they are so equipped, reducing the frequency and distance of lifting and carrying, locating frequently used items as close to the body as possible to minimize reaching, and adding padding to tools that may need it.  These are simple ways that can reduce claims in the long run, and they are simple corrections to longstanding mechanisms of injury.

 

 

Summary

 

These are common sense ways to help reduce risk and injury in the workplace.  Workers face these risks every day, and you could be surprised at what suggestions your coworkers can supply if you ask them.  Reward ideas that you implement, and welcome feedback at any time, not just at the end of the year when you ask your employee.  Sometimes the simplest, most cost-effective answers are right under your nose. 

 

 

Author Michael Stack, Principal, COMPClub, 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 of COMPClub, an exclusive member training program on workers compensation cost containment best practices. Through these platforms he is in the trenches on a working together with clients to implement and define best practices, which allows him to continuously be at the forefront of innovation and thought leadership in workers’ compensation cost containment. Contact: mstack@reduceyourworkerscomp.com.

 

 

©2016 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 Prevent Slips, Trips, and Falls

wine fallingA common source of accidents in almost any work environment is the slip, trip, and fall. All three types of accidents have the same result where the employee’s feet leave and land on the floor or other surface. Often there is a combination of slip and fall or of trip and fall. The fortunate employee who trips and falls receives a few bruises. The unlucky employee receives one or more fractured bones, torn ligaments, or other soft tissue injury.

 

 

The fact is most slips, trips, and falls can be prevented through a combination of proper risk management by the employer and proper training of the employee on how to avoid accidents.  The employer can reduce or eliminate most of the accidents involving slips, trips and falls by using the following guidelines:

 

 

1) Using the most appropriate flooring materials

 

The flooring material chosen should not be selected based solely on cost or aesthetic issues. The flooring surface should be smooth, but not slippery. There ARE standards for the safest co-efficient of friction on surfaces, so make sure your surfaces meet these standards. It should not have joints, ridges or edges that are one fourth inch in height or greater. Any greater elevation changes than this present the opportunity for tripping. The floor material should be slip-resistant, meaning the material should not accommodate any sliding of the feet. This is especially true in restrooms, kitchen facilities, and at exterior entrances where rain, sleet or snow can be tracked inside the building.

 

 

2) Having the proper floor maintenance

 

Any damage done to the floor surface by the building settling, dropped items, wear and tear, or by movement of supplies or equipment should be promptly repaired. Frayed carpet or missing tile often leads to a slip and fall or a trip and fall. All flooring surfaces should be kept in a state of good repair (and that means no duct tape over a frayed seam as a repair). The uses of floor cleaners and waxes should be in accordance to the product specifications. A slip-resistant floor with an excessive coat of wax will lose it slip-resistant properties.

 

 

3) Having the proper housekeeping rules

 

All materials, supplies, equipment and tools should have their designated locations and the floor is never one of the locations. Litter, debris, and left over production waste should be removed promptly before it can become a slip or trip hazard. Any spills of any type should be immediately cleaned.

 

 

4) Marking and identifying all changes in elevation

 

There are more falls where the change in elevation is one step than there are where the change in elevation is a full set of steps from one floor to another. Whether one step or a dozen steps, the steps need to be properly marked. If the steps have the same color and the same floor covering as the adjacent floor, this is inviting trips and falls. The steps should be clearly marked, well lit, with an even width and height for every step, and be properly maintained. Properly maintained includes no frayed or broken edges, proper handrails, slip-resistant surface and no loose flooring material.

 

 

5) Maintaining the sidewalks and walkways

 

All sidewalks need to be smooth but not slippery.  Any damage to the sidewalk from settling, tree roots, or machinery traversing across the sidewalks should be repaired quickly. Any elevation change of a ¼ inch or higher needs to be clearly marked or corrected. Any accumulation of water from water sprinklers, rain, ice or snow needs to be removed before an accident can occur.

 

 

6) Maintaining parking garages and parking lots

 

A pothole in the parking lot can cause a lot more than a damaged hubcap or messing up the wheel alignment. The surface area of the parking lot or parking garage needs to smooth without ridges, edges or joints greater than ¼ inch to prevent trips and falls. Any potholes, broken pavement of other irregularities should be promptly repaired. Marked walk areas or sidewalks should be provided to reduce the potential for slips and trips. The parking area should be properly illuminated for night or bad weather use. Parking bumpers, speed bumps, and other potential trip hazards should be brightly painted to reduce the risk of trips.

 

 

7) Requiring proper footwear

 

If the employees are to be working in an area where there is occasionally water on the floor, spills or other causes of slippery conditions, the employer should require all employees to wear shoes designed with a skid resistant sole and heel.  A good rule of thumb is low heels and good tread on all work footwear.

 

 

By using good risk management techniques, the potential for slips, trips and falls can be greatly reduced. We recommend these safety tips be included in your safety program.

 

 

Author Michael Stack, Principal, COMPClub, 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 of COMPClub, an exclusive member training program on workers compensation cost containment best practices. Through these platforms he is in the trenches on a working together with clients to implement and define best practices, which allows him to continuously be at the forefront of innovation and thought leadership in workers’ compensation cost containment. Contact: mstack@reduceyourworkerscomp.com.

 

 

©2016 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.

 

Sleep Deficiency and Fatigue Causing More Workplace Injuries

This infographic was provided by Eastern Kentucky University:

Sleep-Deficiency-and-FatigueThe number of health risks in the United States is incredibly high. When employees feel sick or need medical attention, they are entitled to sick days, which means there will be less productivity at the workplace while labor costs will remain the same. Furthermore, other employees will have to do extra work to cover for the sick employee. That is why integration of health and wellness strategies in the workplace is highly recommended. To learn more, checkout this infographic below created by Eastern Kentucky University’s Online Bachelor of Science in Occupational Safety program.

 

 

Americans are Sleeping Less

 

A team from the University of Chicago conducted a study on the sleeping habits of people and how these are affecting their work. They found that Americans have significantly reduced their sleeping time over the years. In the 1970s, the average was 7.1 hours per night. Nowadays, this has been trimmed down to just 6.1 hours per night. Many sleep between one and two less than they did sixty years ago according to the researchers. The statistics regarding those who are currently employed are even more worrying. About 3 in every 10 workers are only able to sleep for about 6 hours or even less.

 

 

Workers Short Sleep Duration

 

The time of work, number of jobs, and number of hours on the job all contribute towards shorter sleep duration. For instance, 44% of them turned out to belong to the night shift while only 28.8% belonged to the dayshift and the rest occupying other time slots. Around 37% of the respondents said that they are juggling two jobs or more and 36.2% declared that they were working more than 40 hours every week.

 

With these figures, it really is no surprise that their responsibilities are eating away at their resting time. The transportation and warehousing industry is the number one culprit while healthcare and social assistance, along with manufacturing, also contribute greatly to the sleep deprivation of US workers.

 

 

Reasons for Sleeping Less

 

It’s not only the quantity of sleep that is plunging but also the quality. Research shows that between 50 and 70 million adults in the US suffer from sleep disorder. Insomnia is particularly common. Individuals with this condition have difficulty falling asleep or stay sleep throughout the night. Billions of dollars are lost due to absences, accidents, and decreased productivity as a result.

 

Sleep apnea is another major problem. This breathing disorder can attack for brief periods during the night. These intervals are often enough to wake the person up and prevent restful slumber. It is a fairly widespread condition affecting 22 million Americans.

 

Some of the problems can be traced not to medical issues but to the working conditions themselves. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, at no point have Americans been working longer hours than today. As much as 22 million work outside the typical 9-to-5. These graveyard and rotating shifts result in less than ideal rest. Some are on-call 24/7. Their schedule cuts into their sleeping time by 2 to 4 hours.

 

 

Workers with Sleep Problems

 

Lack of restful slumber has troubling consequences. People become increasingly prone to being injured because of their diminished state. In fact, a look into the accident data shows that most of them occur during periods that are traditionally devoted to sleep: between 12 midnight and 6am, as well as the siesta hours between 1pm and 3 pm.

 

Working in jobs that have overtime schedules has been linked to a 61% increase in injury hazard rate. Going a little deeper, the risk is greater for people who are over the age of 30 and are sleeping for just 7 hours a night or less. The National Sleep Foundation recommends 7 to 9 hours. Deficit is associated to large-scale disasters like the Chernobyl nuclear tragedy and the Exxon Valdez oil spill.

 

 

Steps to Reduce Sleep Problems

 

For employers, it would be helpful to limit scheduled work to no more than 12 hours a day. Take the leadership in creating a culture that values sleep as a vital part of ensuring productivity. Promote education programs about the subject. Try to reduce shift work, if possible. Devote spaces for quick naps and encourage workers to use them. When the workday is over, let people unplug completely so that they don’t have to bring their tasks at home.

 

For employees, create healthy habits that will ensure enough rest every night. Avoid late engagements, food, and caffeine prior to bedtime as these will make the body more hyper. Set a period that can be consistently be devoted to slumber. Get in bed, keep the phone away, shut down the computer, and turn off the lights before to scheduled time to eliminate distractions. – See more at: http://safetymanagement.eku.edu/resources/infographics/sleep-deficiency-and-fatigue-causing-more-workplace-injuries/#sthash.IcgLm8ux.dpuf

 

Steps To Prevent Workplace Injuries

A lot of attention is paid to handling workers compensation injuries. However, the least expensive workers’ comp claim is the workers’ comp claim that ever happens. It is important for organizations to make injury prevention equal in priority to quality and production.

 

 

Losses will occur:

 

It is recognized that certain industries and professions have high risk of injury due to the nature of the operation.  Coal mining always has the danger of collapse, black lung disease, and blasting operations.

 

Fire fighters never know when a floor will give way in a burning structure.  Medical providers are subjected to many communicable situations, needle sticks, and out of control patients.  While injuries are somewhat inevitable with these exposures, organizations need to have protocols that limit the occurrence, severity, and exposure.

 

Further, despite the best of plans anything can happen at any time for any reason.

 

 

How to begin:

 

The best place to start is by reviewing your loss history.  How, when, where, and why did the loss occur?  What was the severity of the injury?  How often do the same type injuries occur?  Are there any patterns such as Monday Morning injuries, pre-vacation or holiday occurrences?  Was the loss caused by human failure?  Was there any equipment failure?  Was the employee’s health a factor? Was the employee properly trained in proper performance at the highest safety standard?   Was the loss caused by an outside influence?

 

Since the list of reasons and questions concerning losses can be extensive, it is best that the loss review be conducted by a committee.  The committee should include a person knowledgeable in the industry safety standards, an employee working in the injury causing area, management, and a union representative if applicable.

 

Most insurance carriers have loss prevention services available.  They are generally free as the service is part of the overall insurance program.   If you have such service available, the insurance company loss engineer should be added as a member of the loss review committee.

 

Federal and State governments have a myriad of work safety programs.  However, while these agencies may profess to be of assistance in solving issues, they have a vested and sometimes mandated interest in looking for violations and non-compliance to law or regulation.  Should the agent find a problem, the employer is more likely to be penalized, fined or even imprisoned.  Any help they claim should be viewed with jaundice eye and used with extreme caution.

 

 

Uncover problems:

 

As issues are uncovered review the operating procedures.  Is the equipment state of art?  What are the ergonomic needs?  Is employee experience and training proper for safe operation?  Is the employee physically and mentally capable to do the job safely?  Should there be periodic breaks or rest periods?

 

Is the environment (heat, light, and air-conditioning) proper and conducive to safe productive operation?  Is safety equipment state of the art and in properly maintained?

 

When the operation is out doors does the employee have proper dress and equipment for elements?

 

When the employee is working at various locations have they been schooled to watch for animals, suspicious activities, hazards of sun, wind, rain, snow, ice, and defective properties?   Are their vehicles proper for the job and well equipped and maintained?

 

 

Set the policy:

 

Once the initial studies are complete, and remedies are made, the next step is to set the policy in writing.  Have each employee and manager trained in any new procedures and sign off on the policy.

 

After that constant vigilance and monitoring is a must.   Use trade journals, and other industry sources to keep abreast of new changes and ideas.

 

A focus will be necessary to engage the employees for cooperation and compliance, and reward or discipline must be part of the program.  Consider compliance a part of job performance and evaluation.

 

 

Limit severity:

 

When a loss does occur it is necessary to have protocols in writing that address first aid, assignment and transportation to medical facilities.  Medical triage should be immediate to determine necessary treatment, disability, alternate employment and any assistance needed by the employee to speed recovery.

 

 

Conclusion:

 

Prevention and reduction of losses are subjects filled with many challenges.  It takes a committee and team approach to discover the problems and determine methods to reduce and eliminate injuries.  It is strongly recommended that the employer enlist professional engineers in safety, mechanics, environment, and other areas necessary to assist in addressing pertinent issues.

 

 

Author Michael Stack, Principal, COMPClub, 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 of COMPClub, an exclusive member training program on workers compensation cost containment best practices. Through these platforms he is in the trenches on a working together with clients to implement and define best practices, which allows him to continuously be at the forefront of innovation and thought leadership in workers’ compensation cost containment. Contact: mstack@reduceyourworkerscomp.com.

 

 

©2016 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.

 

Use Daily Ladder Inspection Tags For Work Site Safety

The use of ladder tags provides documentation to show that the ladders used on the job site have been inspected and have been determined to be safe for workers.

The use of ladder tags provides documentation to show that the ladders used on the job site have been inspected and have been determined to be safe for workers.

In the safety world, you commonly hear the phrase, “if it’s not documented, it never happened,” and holding true to form, it is becoming more prevalent for companies to take these words to heart.

 

The OSHA regulation regarding ladder safety, 1917.119(e)(2), states, “Ladders shall be inspected for defects prior to each day’s use, and after any occurrence, such as a fall, which could damage the ladder.”

 

 

Tags Document Safety, Include Job Information, & Identify Hazards

 

We have seen a growing trend with several of our clients to put in place “ladder inspection tags” on all portable ladders, to better document that this inspection is, in fact, taking place. The tags are being used much like the generally accepted scaffold tag. A ladder tag allows for a competent person to inspect the ladder for defects or damage that would require it to be taken out of service prior to use.

 

Additionally, they are also using this tag to identify the work being performed while utilizing the ladder, and the opportunity to list additional information to identify hazards and create a safer workplace.

 

For instance, the tag would serve as documentation that the ladder was inspected by a competent person prior to use, as required, and also list other requirements, such as fall protection, if the work being performed is above the four or six-foot requirement for fall protection, and three-points of contact cannot be maintained by the person performing the work from the ladder.

 

 

Resistance To Change

 

This is a major undertaking and creating quite a stir on the job sites that are now implementing these requirements prior to using a portable ladder. The amount of added work and time required for a person to assume the responsibility has not been feasible. So, in most situations, the ladder user is held responsible for performing the inspection, requiring him/her to “think before they act,” and consider and identify that all safety factors, such as the ladder being properly secured, noting that it is stable and on level ground, that fall protection needs have been considered, and then attaching the ladder tag to indicate that such an inspection has taken place.

 

As we have seen in the past, by nature we are resistant to change as well as to new or different ways of doing our work. We have seen the same reaction when scaffold tags, Job Safety Assessment (JSAs) or any other revolutionary change has been introduced to the work site. However, we can now look back in retrospect and see the enormous amount of benefit that comes from these documents and in all likelihood, in the future, we will look back and see the benefits of these “ladder inspection tags” as well.

 

Stay safe, inspect that ladder before use, and consider safety, above all.

 

 

Author Kevin Kelley, Medcor, Executive Director Brown Safety Services / Medcor. Medcor helps employers reduce the costs of workers’ compensation and general health care by providing injury triage services and operating worksite health and wellness clinics. Medcor’s services are available 24/7 nationwide for worksites of any size in any industry. Headquartered in McHenry, Illinois, the company operates 174 clinics and provides triage services to over 90,000 worksites across all 50 states and US territories. Medcor’s triage methods are covered by U.S. & foreign patents, including U.S. No. 7,668,733; 7,716,070; & 7,720,692; other patents pending. Medcor is privately held. Learn more at www.medcor.com.

 

Workers Comp And The Most Dangerous Industries In The U.S.

This infographic was created by Eastern Kentucky University’s Bachelor of Science in Occupational Safety program.  

 

Can You Deny A Claim Due To A Safety Violation?

I enjoy seeing various claims professionals discuss file dynamics.  Due to jurisdictional statutes, a case may be accepted in one state and a total denial in a different state.

 

The establishment of a safety defense on a claim is always a good discussion.  It seems like no matter what the state statute, if a worker clearly violates an established safety protocol there is a good angle for a denial.

 

 

Safety Rule Book Needs to Be Clear and Consistently Enforced

 

In my mind, denial of a case on a safety violation poses a careful orchestration of many facts.  First of all you need to prove the violation.  Typically the safety handbook has to be the main  rule book, and violations of the rules set in the book lead to swift and calculated discipline.  Accumulation of a number of disciplinary actions will result in termination or suspension.  This has to be very clear, very defined, and very enforced across the board.  The same rules apply to everyone at the employer.

 

 

The Injury Scene Has To Be Preserved

 

Next the machine or violation has to be preserved.  Pics and video of the scene post-injury have to be secured as soon as possible.  Cell phone video cameras now are so easy to use, it’s the greatest way to secure evidence on a scene.

 

 

Statements Need to Be Obtained and Recorded

 

The machine has to be roped off and nothing should be touched until your carrier representatives get there and do their jobs.  Witnesses need to be interviewed, and it should be video-recorded with your phone if applicable.  The statement of the injured worker also needs to be obtained as soon as possible and video-recorded for preservation.

 

The denials on these cases can go on for months if not years in litigation.  Recording and then transcribing the statements keep the stories the same, just in case your witnesses need to testify later on in the case.

 

 

A Case to Ponder: Compensable or Not?

 

Here is a case to ponder:  A worker has worked this same machine for a year.  The machine roller-feeds 5’x5’ steel sheets to a massive pin roller that continually flattens the steel several times before reaching the end of the machine.  The worker then picks up the sheet and places it in a big cart.   Think about a pile of dough you flatten out to make pizza dough.  Same type of situation at this job station only with steel sheets instead of dough.

 

This worker noticed one of the rollers was not working properly.  He was going to fix it on the fly, instead of following the documented protocol for machine maintenance.  This includes lock out/tag out of the machine, notifying the maintenance supervisor on shift, and also completing a form detailing the repair.  When the worker went to grab the roller, his glove caught in another roller and he crushed his middle finger.  The damage was too bad to repair, and the surgeon had to fully amputate the middle finger on his dominant hand.

 

Clearly, this worker knew better than to repair the machine without following the rules.  The adjuster did some digging and found out that the worker had been disciplined on this machine before 3 separate times, and this last violation that occurred with this injury was the last strike and he was terminated.

 

This case is a clear example of what can happen when you do not follow safety protocol and procedures.

 

After the investigation and adjuster roundtable with the employer, this case was denied as a direct safety violation.  Litigation is just starting in this case and I am curious to see how it turns out.

 

The employee stance looks like they will say the machine was not guarded properly, and that he requested guarding several times to the employer who ignored his requests.  Based on the pictures, the worker is indeed correct—there is clear access to the large rollers and there is no guarding or process visible.

 

However is that going to be enough for the plaintiff to win this case?  Or will the Judge side with the carrier, and be under the impression that this case is just another example of how cutting a safety corner can affect a worker for the rest of their life?

 

 

Author Michael B. Stack, Principal, COMPClub, Amaxx Work Comp Solutions. He is an expert in employer communication systems and helps employers reduce their workers comp costs by 20% to 50%. He resides in the Boston area and works as a Qualified Loss Management Program provider working with high experience modification factor companies in the Massachusetts State Risk Pool.  He is co-author of the #1 selling book on cost containment, Your Ultimate Guide To Mastering Workers Comp Costs www.reduceyourworkerscomp.com, and Founder of the interactive Workers’ Comp Training platform COMPClub. Contact: mstack@reduceyourworkerscomp.com.

 

©2015 Amaxx LLC. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law.

 

SALES TO PAY FOR ACCIDENTS CALCULATOR:  http://reduceyourworkerscomp.com/sales-to-pay-for-accidents-calculator/

MODIFIED DUTY CALCULATOR:   http://reduceyourworkerscomp.com/transitional-duty-cost-calculators/

WC GROUP:  http://www.linkedin.com/groups?homeNewMember=&gid=1922050/

SUBSCRIBE: Workers Comp Resource Center Newsletter

WORKERS’ COMP TRAINING: https://workerscompclub.com

 

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

 

Supervisor Safety Responsibility Needs To Be In Job Description

The best workers compensation claim is the claim that never happened. It is important for management to create a have a culture to prevent claims, to create a safety program and to improve a safety program.  This top down approach is effective and leads to the prevention of accidents.  What the top down approach often misses is the importance of having the supervisors actively involved in the safety program.  The importance of safety training for the field supervisors or the floor supervisors cannot be overstated.

 

 

Safety Responsibility Needs To Be Incorporated Into Supervisor Job Descriptions

 

The safety responsibilities of the lower level management – the supervisors – need to be incorporated into their job descriptions just as much as production goals, financial goals or other performance measurements.  The safety objectives that should be a part of the job description of every supervisor should include:

 

  • Regular inspections of their work area to identify any safety issues
  • Responsibility for initiating work orders for safety related repairs
  • Responsibility for insuring all needed repairs are completed timely
  • Responsibility for identifying areas where improvements of the physical area would reduce risk
  • Knowing and complying with all OSHA requirements
  • Knowing and complying with all state safety laws
  • Enforcing compliance with all safety regulations
  • Responsibility for training all new employees on the safe completion of their work
  • Responsibility for having monthly safety meetings with the employees in her/her group
  • Responsibility for the safe completion of all work
  • Responsibility for recording all safety incidents
  • Responsibility for reporting all safety incidents to management
  • Responsibility for investigating all accidents
  • Responsibility for preventing the reoccurrence of similar accidents
  • Responsibility for reviewing with management how to improve safety

 

 

Supervisor Performance Review Should Include Safety Goals

 

The supervisor’s performance review should include how well they met their safety goals.  Management should avoid the temptation to measure safety solely by the number of injury claims reported.  The completion of regular safety inspections, the timeliness of repair orders, the compliance with OSHA and other regulations, the safety training provided to the employees and the recommendations on how to improve safety should be given equal weight with the number of injury claims reported.  By placing the emphasis on the prevention of injuries as opposed to the number of injuries, you reduce the temptation of the supervisor to underreport the minor injuries that do occur.

 

An importance safety function of the supervisor is to create a detailed accident report after each injury.  A review of the quality of the accident investigations completed by the supervisor should be a part of the supervisor’s performance review.  The supervisor’s manager should check each supervisor’s accident report to determine if the supervisor interviewed the injured employee and the co-workers/witnesses.  The object/ machinery/ equipment involved in the injury should be a part of the accident investigation with a determination if the accident was the employee’s fault or caused by a defect in the object/equipment/ machinery being used.  A recommendation by the supervisor on how to prevent a similar accident from occurring in the future should be a part of the supervisor’s report.

 

 

Safety Reporting Is More Than Completing OSHA Forms

 

Safety reporting is more than completing OSHA forms.  It should entail a review of injury accidents by categories determined by management.  Sample categories could include employee error, equipment/machinery malfunction and unforeseen.  The purpose should be to identify areas where further safety improvements can be made.

 

The review of the safety work orders for repairs or improvements should also be included in the supervisor’s performance review.  The supervisor’s manager should verify the supervisor is identifying and seeking to correct legitimate safety hazards. The accuracy and the effectiveness of the safety work orders will impact the overall outcome of the safety program.

 

By integrating safety into the job performance of the supervisors, the compliance level with all safety requirements will improve and the number of workers’ compensation claims will be reduced.

 

 

Author Michael B. Stack, CPA, Principal, Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. He is an expert in employer communication systems and helps employers reduce their workers comp costs by 20% to 50%. He resides in the Boston area and works as a Qualified Loss Management Program provider working with high experience modification factor companies in the Massachusetts State Risk Pool.  He is co-author of the #1 selling book on cost containment, Your Ultimate Guide To Mastering Workers Comp Costs www.reduceyourworkerscomp.com. Contact: mstack@reduceyourworkerscomp.com.

 

©2015 Amaxx LLC. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law.

 

SALES TO PAY FOR ACCIDENTS CALCULATOR:  http://reduceyourworkerscomp.com/sales-to-pay-for-accidents-calculator/

MODIFIED DUTY CALCULATOR:   http://reduceyourworkerscomp.com/transitional-duty-cost-calculators/

WC GROUP:  http://www.linkedin.com/groups?homeNewMember=&gid=1922050/

SUBSCRIBE: Workers Comp Resource Center Newsletter

 

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

 

Setting The Standard For Safety Controls Workers Compensation

Every now and then it is good to go back to safety basics.  At times throughout the course of a year we will veer off on tangents about certain aspects of safety.  It is time to reset for the year, and go back to the main structures of a safety program–what it is, how it works, and why it is effective.  How will you limit, decrease, and eliminate your workers comp costs this year?

 

 

Run a Safe Operation

 

Run an actual, real, safe, work operation.  That means as a business C-suite occupant you know that on the work floor you have machines with real guards in place, carpets free from rips and holes, non-fraying ropes or ties, anti-slip surfaces on steps, clearly marked hazards, and clean floors.

 

Upon first glance it all seems too simple.  If you do what you are supposed to do, and have what you are supposed to have, safety will all fall in to place.  This is only part of the battle, but it is an important part.  If/when workers see all of this attention, and new equipment, and investments in safety, they start to think in safe modes as well.  If the atmosphere and culture of the shop looks like nobody cares, then your workers are not going to care for their own safety either.

 

 

Elect or Appoint an Emergency Response Team

 

Quick, Bill just caught his hand between two pieces of moving machinery.  Point to Steve, “Steve you are next to Bill, what do you do?”

 

If you were to stage a severe accident in your shop, what do you think the results would be?  Would everyone react like the Armed Forces and efficiently get Bill taken care of while someone calls 911 and pages the floor supervisor?

 

Or would 13 people run around pale-faced while unable to speak while Bill bleeds out on the floor?

 

The answer to what your perception could be, and what reality could be, will vary greatly.  In your mind, you have this well-oiled machine that can do anything without a hiccup.  The reality is that if you do not have an ERT, and you do not complete any practice drills, then your staff is in trouble.

 

The first step is creating the team.  It should be a mix of floor workers, supervisors, and a management team member.  People that take this appointment seriously, as lives could depend on it.  Second is making sure all employees know who is on the team, and how to reach them.  Make a special code on the radio if you have to, or a special name tag border. Whatever makes everyone remember.  Third, establish the protocol for reporting a severe injury along with the chain of command.  Everyone on the ERT has a task—either calling 911, applying wound pressure, alerting other staff, etc.  Fourth, stage a few accidents.  For optimal results, do not alert workers they are coming.  At the same time, you do not need 40 heart attack claims either, so you should stage in increasing severity.  Remember the task is meant to be a practice drill, not to scare everyone to the point where they are confused and anxious.

 

 

Communicate,  Communicate,  Communicate

 

The most common aggravation from a claimant is the lack of communication.  They have no idea what is going on, why they cannot go to the doctor they want to, why they are not getting paid, and so on.  The best workers comp goal is to have zero claims.  Should you have some claims, make sure your adjuster and carrier are good at communicating with the injured worker.  Set standards of contact and make sure they adhere to it.  That injured worker should get a call from either a triage nurse or the med only adjuster within 24 hours.  These little phone calls are what decrease litigation, get workers back to work, and keep the claim moving forward to resolution.  Make sure the injured worker’s manager calls them once a week to check in.  Every worker likes to feel cared about and that they matter.

 

 

 

Upper Management Needs to be Involved in the Process  

 

Trust me, you can preach all the safety you want.  If workers see the upper management breaking the rules, you just lost whatever momentum you had going for you.  You will lose it so fast, you won’t believe it.  You have to practice what you preach.  Even if that means a safety violation write-up for a superior.  If they are allowed to cut corners without discipline, then all of your others workers are going to imitate that behavior.  You cannot get by with 60% enforcement.  It has to be 100%, all of the time, every day.

 

 

 

Author Michael Stack, Principal of Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. He is an expert in employer communication systems and helps employers reduce their workers comp costs by 20% to 50%. He resides in the Boston area and works as a Qualified Loss Management Program provider working with high experience modification factor companies in the Massachusetts State Risk Pool.  As the senior editor of Amaxx’s publishing division, Michael is on the cutting edge of innovation and thought leadership in workers compensation cost containment. http://reduceyourworkerscomp.com/about/.  Contact: mstack@reduceyourworkerscomp.com.

 

©2015 Amaxx LLC. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law.

 

SALES TO PAY FOR ACCIDENTS CALCULATOR:  http://reduceyourworkerscomp.com/sales-to-pay-for-accidents-calculator/

MODIFIED DUTY CALCULATOR:   http://reduceyourworkerscomp.com/transitional-duty-cost-calculators/

WC GROUP:  http://www.linkedin.com/groups?homeNewMember=&gid=1922050/

SUBSCRIBE: Workers Comp Resource Center Newsletter

 

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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