Address These 7 Most Common Workplace Safety Concerns

There are many things interested stakeholders can do to reduce workers’ compensation costs.  In doing so, they can make their programs more effective and efficient.  This requires engagement by all interested stakeholders and a willingness to review the workplace and beyond for safety hazards.  Once they are identified, changes need to be made to reduce or eliminate the chance of injury.

 

 

Regular Safety Review of Workplaces

 

Most people are accustomed to an annual “spring cleaning” and regular chores around their home.  The same should apply to the workplace.  Interested stakeholders should make a regular walk-through of their workplaces and make sure everything is in order.  Additional steps and emphasis should occur when spills happen in the work place.  In other instances, employers should engage their employee’s to clean up their workstations and make sure it is clean at all times.

 

 

Addressing Common Safety Concerns

 

Additional steps must be taken to ensure a safe and secure workplace.  Some easy to implement suggestions include:

 

  • Fire extinguishers: State laws and local ordinances typically provide guidance on what types of fire extinguishers should be in a work place and their quantity.  They should be visible and in proper working order at all times.  They also require regular servicing;

 

  • First Aid Kits: Every workplace should have a First Aid kit that meets basic emergency needs.  In addition to Band-Aids, tape and gauze, it is also important to include ice packs and other essentials.  What is stocked in a kit should be consistent with the type of work performed in your workplace.  Always be ready to dial 9-1-1 if a severe injury occurs;

 

  • Emergency evacuation plan: Having an effective plan that is understood by all employees is important.  Evacuation plans should also be posted around the workplace and pointed out to new employees when they first start.  Reminders should occur that involves all employees and contractors on an annual basis;

 

  • Fire and severe weather drills: Planning for a fire or severe weather is often overlooked in workplaces.  Planning for the unexpected is critical and can pay dividends in moments of danger.  It is also important to remind all employees what they are to do in these instances on an annual basis;

 

  • Workplace violence: It is a sad reality of modern society that violence takes place in the workplace.  Proactive stakeholders can implement several strategies to prevent this from occurring and mitigate their risk.  Identifying potential violence issues is the first step to successfully addressing this issue.  It is also important that employers effectively deal with it when it occurs, which can include termination of an employee.  Having an “active shooter” protocol is also something to consider.

 

  • Other Workplace Safety: Employers can also be proactive on issues of workplace safety by reviewing their policies and procedures related to safety.  Important steps one can take include making sure all employees wear proper identification while in the work environment.  Badges can also be used to unlock/lock critical access points.  Keep in mind that certain entrances must remain unlocked during normal business hours.

 

  • Safety Requires Everyone: Workplace safety requires the engagement of all employees—from upper management to the newest employee.  When leadership within an organization takes the lead, others will take notice and follow.

 

Conclusions

 

Reducing workers’ compensation costs starts with a safe work environment.  Some of these program-enhancing steps are simple, yet require everyone to be fully engaged.

 

 

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

 

©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.

4 Tips To Ensure Safety Committee Success

Employers are often seeking ways to reduce workers’ compensation costs without hiring expensive consultants.  They are also seeking ways to keep costs down and promote buy-in from all employees.  One way to do so is to establish a safety committee to examine workplace issues and promote a better work environment.  Such committees are easy to establish and have an immediate impact.

 

 

Committee Objective and Purpose

 

No two safety committees will look alike.  A number of factors that influence the internal operations of a business and its demands will dictate their size, shape, structure and objectives.  Overall, they should have a similar purpose.  That being to promote a safe work environment and improve the well-being of all employees.

 

 

When establishing or re-evaluating an existing safety committee, it is important to look into common traits of successful groups.  These include:

 

 

  • Development of a safe work place and defining the objectives with safety and productivity in mind;

 

  • Prepare or review safety programs that are typically implemented by the human resources department and provide effective safety suggestions;

 

  • Provide training on important workplace safety issues. These include office security, compliance with applicable regulations and a plan on how to respond to a variety of accidents, injuries and other emergencies; and

 

  • Assist as needed in accident investigation and response.

 

 

It is important for an employer to help a safety committee effectuate positive change.  If there is no “buy-in” from management and other stakeholders, having such group is pointless.

 

 

Scope of a Successful Safety Committee

 

When starting a safety committee in your workplace, the first objective should be to define the roles of committee members and set realistic goals. Membership should include a representative cross-section of the company.  Members should include management, labor leaders, if applicable, middle management and general office employees.  It is important to empower all members of the committee.  Everyone on the committee must have a voice, and his or her concerns should be received with respect.

 

It is also important to define the roles of committee members.  This may include a formal chain of command that includes a committee chair, vice-chair, other officers and general members.  Membership roles and terms must be defined to provide clarity.  Rotating membership is also important so all business segments can have a voice.

 

 

 

Ensuring a Safety Committee’s Success in Your Organization

 

It is pointless to have a committee and not highlight their work and accomplishments.  Taking proactive steps from the onset will ensure a safety committee gains credibility with all employees.  Some things to consider once a safety committee is operating include:

 

 

  • Defining a clear agenda that is published for everyone to know what is being discussed;

 

  • Taking minutes from each safety committee meeting. What takes place at safety committee meetings should also be published in a conspicuous location.  Suggestions may include posting them in a common area such as a break room, or on a company-wide Intranet site;

 

  • Highlighting the accomplishments of the committee will further advance the interests of safety and set the right tone; and

 

  • Encourage and acknowledge feedback will enhance safety best practices within the organization as a whole.

 

 

It is important for a safety committee to be visible and proactive.  It can also help reinforce safety reminders discussed in meetings and promote a consistent message.

 

 

Conclusions

 

Having a safety committee is an effective and efficient tool to reduce workplace injuries and workers’ compensation costs.  It requires a commitment from all interested stakeholders within a company.

 

 

 

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

 

©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.

11 Tips To Keep Aging Workers Safe, Healthy and Productive

The workforce is getting older. People are living longer, and their dollars aren’t necessarily going as far as they’d like. In 2015, 22.6 percent of the workforce was at least 55 years old and the percentage is expected to be nearly one-quarter of the workforce by 2024.

 

That’s good news for companies that don’t want to lose the benefits of older workers — institutional knowledge, lower turnover, more dedication to work, and positive values. However, while older workers also tend to have fewer workplace injuries, they generally take longer to heal. Savvy employers know they must take steps to address changes related to the aging process.

 

 

The Problems

 

Our bodies generally show signs of aging around ages 40 to 50. Not all older workers have the same physical or mental issues associated with aging, but there are often changes that impact vision, hearing, strength and flexibility, and cognitive skills.

 

Older workers tend to experience more problems with their backs, shoulders, knees and trunks, while younger workers are more likely to have head and hand injuries.

 

The risk of falling also increases with age. Workers in their early 20s had about 8 percent of the fatal falls in 2014, while those in the 55 to 64 age group had 20.7 percent, and those over 65 had a fatal fall rate of 27.3 percent.

 

Cumulative trauma disorders related to ergonomic issues also tend to be heightened among older workers.

 

 

What to Do

 

Employers cannot single out older workers — or any employees — for health-related changes without running the risk of discrimination allegations, unless it is an accommodation for someone with a disability as defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act. But changes can be made that will make all workers safer. The primary ones focus on physical changes to the workplace and changes to job design.

 

Before undertaking any changes, it is wise to get input from workers — of all ages. While managers may think they know what might improve health and safety, those doing the jobs on a daily basis have much better insight. Plus, getting the help of workers will better ensure their buy-in.

 

 

Work environment

 

  1. Turn up the lights. Put adequate lighting in all areas — inside and out, to make sure surfaces are clearly visible. Change burnt out bulbs as soon as possible. Table lamps should be set so the bottom of the lampshade is at the eye level of the person using it. You can also help workers see better by supplying magnifying lenses, larger computer typeface, and screens to cut down on glare. Having contrasting colors on ramps and stairways will help workers see them better.
  2. Maintain good housekeeping. Get rid of clutter and have a policy that requires workers to move boxes or other objects out of normal walking areas when not in use. Walkways should also be free of electrical cords and other objects that could cause an employee to trip and fall.
  3. Turn down the noise. Implementing a hearing conservation program is best. Where possible, sound dampening materials should be placed in areas with loud noises. Alternatively, provide sound-reducing headphones; but make sure any warning bells or alarms have visual as well as auditory alerts.
  4. Solid footing. All walking surfaces should be kept dry. Paper towels should be available near doorways and other areas where water, snow or ice may be tracked. If an area is perpetually wet, make sure there is adequate signage. Provide mats and slip-resistant shoes for workers in areas where there may be grease or slippery surfaces. If possible, use flooring material that is easier on the knees and hips — such as wood instead of concrete.
  5. Assistive devices. Manual hoisting cranes are a great way to help reduce back strain and prevent musculoskeletal problems. Automating processes where possible will also help reduce strain on the body.
  6. Adjust work stations. Make sure workers are comfortable and are properly situated in their chairs and at their desks. If possible, have an ergonomist survey the area and make recommended changes.
  7. Make sure equipment is always in proper working condition and that safeguards are fully operational. If your employees drive company vehicles, make sure to adhere to the manufacturer’s maintenance schedule. Also ensure tires are properly inflated and washer fluid is always available.

 

 

Job Design

 

  1. Take a break. Allow workers to take more frequent, short breaks where possible, to allow the body to reenergize.
  2. Rotate jobs. When feasible, allow for job rotation across workstations to balance the loads on workers’ bodies. It also helps reduce repetitive motions, which can cause pain.
  3. Schedule changes. Revise schedules if needed to ensure workers do not handle strenuous tasks for long periods of time. Make sure a worker is able to perform any task before assigning it.
  4. Workers who have more autonomy are more productive. Allow employees to work from home when possible, and/or work during non-traditional hours.

 

Conclusion

 

Making some common-sense changes with the help of employees at all levels of the organization is an easy way to prevent injuries among all workers, especially older ones. Companies that do so see increased productivity and money saved on their workers’ compensation and healthcare budgets.

 

 

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

 

©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.

Supervisor Is First Line Of Defense In Work Accident Prevention

The best workers comp claim is the claim that never happened.  An effective approach to accident prevention is having supervisors actively involved in the safety program.  The importance of safety training for field or floor supervisors cannot be overstated.  Having supervisors actively involved in safety programs gets them to “buy into” the program, making it more effective, and making safety an important daily job duty for supervisors makes safety a routine practice.

 

 

Safety Responsibilities of Supervisors

 

Supervisors’ safety responsibilities must be incorporated into their job descriptions as important performance measurements.

 

Safety objectives that should be a regular part of every supervisor’s job include:

 

  • Inspecting work areas to identify any safety issues

 

  • Initiating work orders for safety related repairs

 

  • Insuring all needed repairs are completed timely

 

  • Knowing and complying with all OSHA and state requirements

 

  • Enforcing employee compliance with all safety regulations

 

  • Training all new employees on the safety plan

 

  • Having monthly safety meetings with group employees

 

  • Safe completion of all work

 

  • Recording all safety incidents

 

  • Reporting all safety incidents to management

 

  • Investigating all accidents

 

  • Preventing the reoccurrence of similar accidents

 

  • Reviewing with management how to improve safety

 

 

Knowing and Implementing the Safety Plan

 

Management must ensure that supervisors know and implement the current safety plan.  Supervisors must be familiar with any updates to the safety plan and immediately communicate these changes to their group employees. Supervisors should review the changes and the overall safety plan with their group employees at the monthly safety meetings.

 

Review of Safety Work Orders

 

Management should regularly review a supervisor’s safety work orders for repairs or improvements and this information should also be included in a supervisor’s performance review.  Management must verify that the supervisor is identifying and correcting legitimate safety hazards. The accuracy and the effectiveness of the safety work orders will impact the overall outcome of the safety program.

 

Accident Reporting

 

An important safety duty of a supervisor is to create a detailed accident report after each injury.  The accident report should always be reviewed by management immediately following an incident and the quality of all accident investigations completed by the supervisor should be a part of every 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

 

  • Included an investigation of the object/ machinery/ equipment involved

 

  • Determined if the accident was the employee’s fault or caused by an object/equipment/ machinery defect.

 

  • Recommended how to prevent a similar accident from occurring in the future

 

 

Safety Reporting Is More Than Completing OSHA Forms. 

 

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

 

Checking the OSHA Website

 

One good way to keep supervisors up to date on safety prevention is to have them or their managers regularly check the OSHA website at http://www.osha.gov/.  OSHA provides easily downloadable posters, flyers, educational materials and apps to help supervisors prevent accidents and injuries.

 

The Supervisor’s Performance Review

 

Performance reviews are one way to insure that supervisors meet their safety goals.  Management should not measure safety solely by the number of injury claims reported.  By emphasizing the prevention of injuries, management reduces a supervisor’s temptation to underreport the minor injuries that do occur.

 

In performance reviews, management should assess a supervisor’s:

 

  • Completion of regular safety inspections

 

  • Timeliness of repair orders

 

  • Compliance with OSHA and other regulations

 

  • Safety training provided to employees

 

  • Recommendations on how to improve safety

 

Integrating safety into supervisors’ job performance will improve compliance with all safety requirements and reduce the number of workers’ compensation claims.

 

 

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.

 

6 Techniques To Avoid Lifting Injuries

One of the most common causes of workers compensation claims is the improper lifting of a heavy object by an employee. It is also one of the easiest workers compensation claims to avoid. When an employee injures a back, it is usually not the heavy weight, but the method of lifting the weight that was improper. These back injuries can be avoided. The teaching of proper lifting techniques, to any employee who may be called upon to physically move objects, is an essential part of any good safety program.

 

There are at least 6 common things that employees do that cause them to hurt their back. They are (this is not an all inclusive list)

 

  1. Twisting while lifting
  2. Holding the object too far away from the body
  3. Lifting with the back bent
  4. Contorting the body to lift in an unnatural way
  5. Losing their balance while lifting
  6. Not coordinating their lift with other co-worker(s)

 

 

Twisting while Lifting

 

When a heavy object needs to be moved from a floor or other level to a higher level, the employee will often be paralleled to the higher level when the object is picked up and will have to twist to set the object on the higher level (shelf, cart, conveyor belt, etc.). The employee should approach the object perpendicular to the higher level where the object is going to be placed, with the employee, the object and the higher level in a straight line. This puts the object in the middle between the employee and the higher level, allowing the employee to lift the object without twisting. It also allows the employee to have the head facing straight forward to keep all parts of the spine in a straight line.

 

 

Holding the Object Too Far from the Body

 

Sometimes employees just do not want to get dirty. If the object is dirty, greasy, oily, etc., the employee may be inclined to try to lift the object while holding the object away from the body. This is difficult to do with light objects and a recipe for an injury with heavy objects. The further the object is from the body, the harder it is too lift and the more strain it places on the body. The employees need to be taught to hold the object they lift as close to the body as possible to avoid strain on the back.

 

 

Lifting with the Back Bent

 

When employees have not been taught the proper lifting techniques for heavy weights, they are often inclined to keep the legs straight and the back bent. This is backwards of the proper way to lift. The employee should be facing the object with the feet shoulder width apart. The employee should keep the back straight and bend the knees to lower the body closer to the object. This allows the employee to lift the object with the strength of the legs instead of placing tremendous strain on the back by trying lift with the back bent.

 

 

Contorting the Body to Lift in an Unnatural Way

 

Often the box of supplies, or bucket of parts or other heavy object is surrounded by other objects that are in the way of the employee trying to lift the object needed. When the employee contorts the body to lift a load in a cluttered area, the worker is inviting injury. While it takes a little longer, the employee should be taught to move other items out of the way (using proper lifting techniques) before trying to lift a heavy object. The employee should be sure the area around the object and the pathway from the object is clear prior to lifting it.

 

 

Losing Balance While Lifting

 

There are different ways the employee can lose his balance while lifting a load. Common mistakes include placing the feet too close together, picking up an irregularly shaped object where the load is uneven, trying to pick up a stack of two or more objects at the same time, or trying to pick up an object that is too heavy. The employees should be taught that the feet need to be at least shoulder width apart, or slightly wider. If the load is unevenly balanced, the employee should redistribute the weight of the load if more than one object, or to get someone to assist in lifting the object if the weight of the object is unevenly distributed.

 

 

Not Coordinating the Lift with Others

 

When two or more people are lifting a heavy object at one time, not only is there a strong probability of a back injury if done incorrectly, the employees may badly smash toes. When it takes more than one person to lift an object, and a forklift is not option, it is imperative that all the parties to the lift communicate where they are holding or grasping the object, where they are moving the object to, and when they will lift simultaneously.

 

 

Proper lifting can easily be taught to all employees involved in any type of manual labor. The basic points each employee needs to know include:

 

  1. Keep the back straight at all times
  2. Keep the load as close to the body as possible
  3. Keep the feet at least shoulder width apart with the toes turned slightly outward
  4. Bend the knees, not the back
  5. Keep the object to be lifted directly in front of you to avoid twisting
  6. Keep your head forward facing the object
  7. Breathe out as you lift

 

 

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.

 

5 Tips To Prevent Winter Work Comp Claims

Winter is in full force and effect.  With subzero temperatures hitting much of the country recently companies need to take additional steps to ensure safety.  If the workplace does a lot of inside and outside work, this can lead to increased risk for injury, and it can start as soon as the workers pull in the parking lot.  In most jurisdictions, workers comp coverage begins as soon as those tires cross into the parking lot.

 

With the slick conditions, numerous injuries can occur, ranging from minor slips and falls to major injuries such as broken bones.  But do not sit around and wait for the injuries to occur.  Below we discuss 5 ways to be prepared for the long winter haul.

 

 

  1. Get supplies stocked 

 

Before the winter storm dumps a foot of snow on your doorstep, try not to be caught off guard. If the company is responsible for snow removal and salting, stock up on bags of salt and sand and have them ready to use, near the areas to be applied.  Inspect the shovels and brooms for wear and tear and make sure they are in good working order.  If using a plow truck for the parking lot, be sure the plow is properly installed and lubricated, and perform yearly maintenance on the vehicle to avoid breakdowns or damage. These may seem like no-brainers, but sometimes when it gets busy and these tasks get brushed aside for more important duties.  It is better to be safe than sorry, so be ready should another storm come rolling in.  Snow can accumulate in a hurry. For employees who work outside, consider providing ice grips for shoes.

 

 

  1. Inspect the entryways, stairwells, and mats

 

People have to enter the building somewhere, so be sure the mats are functional.  Some employers have special winter mats, made with extra durable material to stand up to the wear and tear of the outside elements. Non-slip bottoms, and rougher fiber mats can brush that outside snow and salt off of boots and shoes so those materials are not dragged into the work areas.  Standing water from melted snow posts a dangerous hazard, and is one of the leading causes of slips and falls.

 

 

Most stairwells will be covered in an anti-slip coating, so check and make sure that the surfaces are doing the job they are supposed to do.  Also check handrails to make sure they are not loose, so if someone grabs them to prevent from falling the rails do not come off the wall.  This is common sense, but these checkups usually fall to the bottom of the priority list.

 

 

  1. Have an outside vendor perform the plowing and salting

 

If you do own the lot and maintain the salting and plowing, consider using an outside vendor to take care of this task.  These vendors will carry their own liability insurance policy, and if injury occurs it can shift the risk to them instead of to the employer.  But make sure that the vendor does not try to “sneak” in a hold harmless clause in the contract.  If this is the case, the employer agrees to waive any liability towards the vendor, shifting the risk back to the employer for priority coverage.

Most vendors keep the contracts open to negotiation, so have your counsel inspect the contract for loopholes or gaps in coverage should an injury occur.  Subrogation is a right in most jurisdictions, and an employer should be able to pursue if any injury does occur within certain circumstances.  Most vendors will do their best to get a hold-harmless in the contract.  This does not mean the vendors are trying to run away from responsibility, but instead do not want to be held responsible should injury or property damage occur.

 

 

  1. If leasing the space in a building, review the specifications of who is responsible for injury

 

If you as an employer are a tenant in a building, or leasing the space for the entire building and parking lot, ask the building manager for a copy of the lease contract. Do not assume right that because you are leasing a suite in an office building, and a worker falls on the way in, that you are 100% responsible for any injury damages.   An opportunity to file a subrogation claim could be missed with the building’s Carrier.  Less often than not building owners will avoid stepping up to say exactly how the lease breaks down and who exactly has coverage for an injury that occurs before the workers gets to the specific suite.  Do some research and find out exactly what scenarios are the employer’s responsibility, and what scenarios will fall under the building manager’s coverage.

 

 

  1. If inclement weather happens, consider cancelling work for the day

 

If this is within your organization’s means, should a major storm come in consider a snow day for workers.  The world is not going to end to halt operations for one day.  If the roads are treacherous, some workers may call in anyway depending on the commute.  Work is important and most workers will do their best to report for duties, but it certainly is not worth getting into a serious car accident over.  Create a telephone call list so workers can relay the message on to others that work is off for the day or notify employees via email and/or social media, and make sure to have an up-to-date recording on the company phone.  That way you are not trying to call everyone at 5am to advise that work is canceled for the day.  In the end, if doing this saves someone from a major car accident, it is worth it.  Create a phone line to call, leaving a message on a general machine so workers can call before leaving for work to see if work was indeed canceled or not. Make sure there are procedures in place for inclement weather cancelations and late start instructions.

 

 

Summary

 

The winter months statistically create more hazards than the summer months. Snow and ice can lead to dangerous conditions both on the commute to work, and within the workplace itself.  Be sure to be prepared for these conditions by performing the tasks listed above.  It is far more costly to incur a serious injury, than it is to prevent it.

 

 

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.

 

Risk Management at Industrial Work Zones

It’s no secret; work zones can be a dangerous place both for employees and for passers-by. Due to the materials, heavy equipment, and the busy activities at industrial zones, they can be a risky place making safety an important concern. Keeping everyone safe on site should be top priority to all supervisors, workers, and those nearby. A focus on safe zones and safe work means construction can proceed effectively, on schedule, with good quality, and with everyone being safe. Luckily, there are good tips to help those who work in and manage industrial zones to keep them safe.

 

 

Protective Gear is a Must

 

Everyone entering a work zone should be wearing protective gear. Whether the person is simply looking around, delivering supplies, or talking with someone on the crew, protective gear is still important. Even one unprotected person is at risk in industrial zones. Likewise, everyone needs to be wearing the correct gear. Leaving off a safety hat or vest because of hot weather, for instance, is an unwise risk because a break without proper safety equipment leaves one exposed. Also, it is important to make sure each person has the proper equipment for the specific job available to them and that it is in good condition.

 

 

Clear Directions and Communication

 

Industrial zones can be chaotic, loud, and confusing. Due to the number of people and the equipment being used, communicating clearly is very important. Posting clear signs with words or obvious imagery to remind everyone on site of important rules or reminders is a great idea. Bright colored signs with clear images or large, simple wording will be certain everyone remembers the proper precautions. Likewise, it can draw attention to remind passers-by to be careful in heavily populated places.

 

 

Choose the Right Times

 

Choosing the right times to perform construction work is important, especially for jobs on busy streets or in populous areas. Avoiding night time work is advisable. Even with reflective clothing, night work can be a hazard both to people nearby and to workers. Likewise, workers are more likely to be tired and less focused from long hours continuing into the evening. Therefore, working during daylight hours only is one of the safest ways to handle a construction zone.

 

 

Keep an Eye Out

 

In addition to proper positioning and clothing that is meant to make others nearby aware of the workers, be sure to have a safety supervisor on each project. Having a specific person appointed to looking out for general safety concerns as well as all workers as his or her primary task means safety concerns that might not be seen otherwise are more likely to be noticed and addressed. The manager should have a good amount of experience in construction and be familiar with safety codes, company procedures, and what sorts of things to look out for that may be a danger.

 

 

Reroute

 

If at all possible, detour as much traffic as possible – both human and automobile – to keep people from getting unnecessarily close to the zone. If a detour isn’t possible, be sure to set up clear ropes and barricades to mark where people should not go past and put someone in charge of looking out for people not paying attention during busy times. Barricades and proper signage and someone flagging or watching traffic can greatly reduce accidents from those passing by who aren’t paying attention.

 

 

Proper Insurance

 

Perhaps it’s stating the obvious, but insuring both workers and the work zone is an extremely important part of industrial work zone safety. Insurance policies keep workers protected in case of injury and supervisors and owners safe in case of any accident or problem. Looking into a good coverage policy or set of policies is one of the first things that should be undertaken before opening a new construction zone. Likewise, policies should be inspected regularly to make sure they still meet the needs of the zone and that they don’t need an update or renewal.

 

By following these and other common sense safety tips, industrial construction zones can be a much safer place for everyone. Likewise, following safety tips will ensure work proceeds the way it should and is a success for everyone.

 

 

Kenneth Overton is a risk management consultant and a former construction supervisor with over 10 years of experience in the industry. He specializes in risk analysis and disaster management. Contact: kenneth.p.overton@gmail.com

How To Set Up And Enforce Your Safety Program

A strong well enforced Safety Program is a key ingredient for all prevention programs.   Good safety programs with proper enforcement allow employees to have a high job comfort level.

 

Employees will come to understand that the employer has their best health interests at heart.  This can develop stronger employee loyalty, reduced injuries, increase production, result in less employee turnover, and training.  Many more positives can develop which will lead to a better bottom line.

 

 

Injuries Cost:

 

A weak or non-enforced safety program will allow for job injuries that can cause these and more risks:

  • Loss of life.
  • Permanent Disabilities.
  • Lost Production.
  • Employee re-training or replacement.
  • Lost income.
  • Health Exposures that may not be covered by insurance.
  • Possible damages to machines or equipment.
  • Increased insurance premiums.

 

In addition to these few noted visible items, hidden costs such as employee unrest that results in poor production will occur. A good program can limit or avoid such exposures.

 

 

Starting a Safety Program:

 

Safety is complex, detailed and demanding.  It can be accomplished using scientific process and measurement.  An entire profession of Safety Engineering has developed with college degrees available.  Due to the specialty of this industry, it is wise to use the services of a Professional Safety Engineer.

 

All safety programs need to meet OSHA requirements.  There may be flaws in OSHA rules and regulations that may not meet or be conducive to the employer’s industry, and OSHA has few regulations that can be imposed for employee violations. An expert safety engineer will know what needs to be done for employer compliance and employee rights.

 

A safety engineer should carefully study each job function.  The following are a few items to consider:

 

  1. Machines: for safety guards, emergency shut off switches, age, and current state of the art changes or modifications.   Use manufacturer representatives to assist and recommend modifications.
  2. Ergonomics for work stations. They should be designed for comfort and efficiency.
  3. Time elements for exercise and rest breaks from sedentary operations.
  4. Full safety inspections for all vehicles to ascertain proper road worthiness.
  5. Comfortable assembly line speeds.
  6. Toxic Exposures.
  7. Environmental items like lighting, ventilation, heating and air-conditioning.

 

Consultations with legal, union, management and other forces should be obtained during and after the study.  Such input will help with the implementation and enforcement of the program.  When these units know they had a part in the program development they will be more cooperative and receptive to compliance.

 

The Safety Engineer, using all data from the study and the consultations, will then write a comprehensive program.  The resulting written program should be reasonable, concise, and.  understood for all employees.   There should be incentives and rewards for compliance.  Conversely,

penalties and disciplinary steps should be included.

 

 

Implementation, Monitoring and Evaluation:

 

Simply passing out copies of the program to employees may not reach a desired result.  Human nature shows that most employees will only glance at it.  It will then be put someplace and forgotten.

 

Gather employees into groups of 10 to 15 persons and pass out the program to all.  The Safety Engineer or person charged with enforcing the program should then proceed to go over all aspects using the written program as a text.

 

Answer all questions and concerns expressed by the employees.  If the comment or concern is valid, make adjustments accordingly.

 

Have all employees sign an agreement that they attended the training, understood it and will comply.

This document can later be used for any discipline measures.

 

Once the program takes effect the Safety Person should make as many rounds and inspections as are reasonable or necessary to assure all employees are in compliance.  Those employees not in compliance must be dealt with promptly and appropriately.  Post nameless violations on the employee bulletin board.  “Example Safety Violations 6/2/15. Three employees cited for not wearing safety glasses.  Each disciplined according to rule 3 in safety equipment violation.”

 

Minor infractions should have warnings.  Establish stricter penalties for multiple warnings.

 

Any safety violation that results in injury to self, another employee, a customer, damages property, or reduces production should have penalties from time off without pay to termination.

 

Once a month the Safety Person should meet with management.  Review compliance, violations, penalties, disciplines, rewards, injuries, and any other aspects in focus.  If the program does not develop a trend for reduced losses and cost seek out the areas of failure for corrective measures.

 

 

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.

 

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OSHA Top 10 List Can Help Employers Avoid Costly Penalties

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Okay, as far as entertainment value goes, it may not rival late night television hosts and their opening monologues, but OSHA did publish its list of the “Top 10” most frequently cited construction standards, following inspections of work sites in 2013.

 

 

No, OSHA was not intent on pitting itself against the likes of David Letterman or Conan O’Brien in a comedic battle of wits. Rather, it was attempting a pre-emptive strike, aimed at saving businesses from needlessly paying out high penalty fees (up to $7,000 for a serious violation, and as much as $70,000 for repeated or willful violations).

 

 

 

Top 10 Lists Alerts Employers About Commonly Cited Standards

 

OSHA annually publishes this “Top 10” list to alert employers about commonly cited standards, so employers can take steps to find and mend recognized hazards before OSHA ever takes punitive action against a company. Normally, OSHA does not grant advanced notice of its inspections, and inspections are generally performed at sites where imminently dangerous situations are known, fatalities or catastrophes have occurred, complaints or referrals have been given, the work site has been issued a citation in the past, or inspections may be pre-planned or programmed.

 

 

While it poses no threat to replace the heroes of late night television, OSHA is meeting its goal of reducing fatalities, injuries, and illnesses in the workplace.

 

 

Too many preventable injuries occur on the job, leading companies to spend unnecessary dollars on fines and healthcare costs.

 

 

Medcor offers a variety of safety compliance training courses designed to meet the requirements and needs of companies, including OSHA compliance, emergency medical, emergency response, industrial fire suppression, and technical rescue. For more information, contact the author at Raymond.loch@medcor.com

 

 

Yes, OSHA citations can be costly, but for the most part, they are avoidable.

 

 

 

And now… here are the “Top 10” Most Frequently Cited OSHA Construction Standards for 2013:

 

#10: 1926.451(b)(1) – Scaffolds not fully planked at each work level.

 

 

#9:1926.451 (e)(1) – Scaffold access/egress. Many citations involve climbing on the cross bracing.

 

 

#8: 1926.453(b)(2)(v) – Fall protection in aerial lifts. Users must receive training in the manufacturer’s instruction.

 

 

#7: 1926.501(b)(10) – No fall protection for flat roofing. Consider using parapet guardrails and portable-type fall arrest anchorage.

 

 

#6: 1926.451(9)(1) – Fall protection on scaf­folding. Fall protection starts at 10 feet.

 

 

#5: 1926.102(b)(1) – No safety glasses. Hun­dreds of eye injuries occur each year from working without safety glasses.

 

 

#4: 1926.100 – Hard Hats. Fatalities occur when workers are hit by falling objects.

 

 

#3: 1926.501(b)(1) – Open sided floors that were more than six feet in depth were not protected with standard guardrails or equivalent. Guardrails must be able to withstand 200 pounds of force.

 

 

#2: 1926.1053(b)(1) – Training in the safe use of ladders. Ladder falls killed over 100 workers in the last 10 years. Ladders need to extend three feet above the landing.

 

 

And now… (drum roll!)

 

 

the #1 citation for 2013 is… 1926.501(b)(13) – Fall protection in resi­dential construction. Having no fall arrest has been the ongoing #1 OSHA citation since 2007.

 

 

Author Raymond Loch, Safety Training Services Leader, Medcor, is a certified safety professional with over 32 years of experience as an instructor, operator, and consultant in safety, emergency preparedness, and emergency response for general industry, construction and fire service.   He has developed and implemented training programs for OSHA compliance, technical rescue, and industrial fire suppression. Ray has worked with Fortune 100 firms and with small companies and government entities.  . http://medcor.com.  Contact: raymond.loch@medcor.com

 

Injury Prevention: Look In Mirror, “You’re Looking At The Problem”

All injuries are preventable. If you really think about it, if everyone did everything they were supposed to do accidents probably would never happen.

 

Sure equipment fails, or gets worn out and fails, or tires blow out when you run over a nail, but think about it: That nail maybe wouldn’t be on the road if a worker hadn’t left a box of nails on the bed of their truck then drove away with the tailgate down. That machine would not have failed if it were replaced 2 years ago when the maintenance worker told his supervisor that this machine was old, outdated, and had “a few years left.”

 
Tracy Morgan Accident, Like Most Accidents, Was Preventable

 

Think about what happened to comedian Tracy Morgan. This is all alleged at the time I write this, but allegedly the semi-truck driver was up for 24 hours before he crashed into the back of Morgan’s limo. The truck driver is a Wal-Mart employee. No doubt he will have a great defense counsel when this goes to trial, but what if that were your truck driver out there that caused this accident? Do you know how many hours your drivers are logging behind the wheel? Are they compliant with all their reporting of work versus rest periods? How can you really prove they are being truthful and honest should this situation result from your employee? If you are not sure, I hope you have deep pockets to provide as good of a defense counsel as this driver is going to get.

 

Time and time again, we see injuries that are preventable. Most of these injuries get chalked up to “operator error” meaning that this worker knew better than to do what they were doing at the time they were injured. This could be from trying to lift too much, or pull too much in one load, or from operating a machine in the improper manner.

 

 

The Belt Sander That Luckily Missed

 

For example, I saw an injury the other day in which one machine operator lucked out. He was using a big stationary belt sander, to clean and smooth the edges on some metal pieces he was working on. This is a vertical sander, meaning the belt runs up and down, and the operator holds the piece of metal and pushes it into the belt to obtain the desired result.

 

Instead of holding the piece vertically like you are supposed to, he was holding it horizontally. When you hold it horizontally, to work on one edge you have to tilt the piece up. What he forgot to realize was by tilting the piece up, his hands were extremely close to the moving belt. The piece caught in the tiny gap between the platform and the belt, and the force of the spinning belt pulled his hands right in to it.

 

He was very lucky in a sense that he escaped with only some bad abrasions and a few fractured fingers. It surely could have been much worse had his fingers been pulled down and jammed into the platform or had he not had gloves on at the time.

 

But questions begged to be asked. Why was he doing this and holding the part horizontally? Who trained him on how to use this sander? Where was his supervisor, and why was he not seen operating this equipment in an unsafe manner?

 

This is a 100% preventable injury. I’m sure the person reading this right now can think of many claims that resulted from something that should have been preventable in the first place. Think of the costs associated with claims that should have never happened in the first place.

 

 

“Operator Error” Should Not Fully Be Blamed On Operator
Every risk manager’s excuse is that it was “operator error” or just overall “bad judgment” on the part of the injured worker. But I look at the greater cause of the injury which is the worker themselves. They know better than to use equipment improperly, so why do they do it in the first place?

 

The answer is that nobody has ever caught them cutting corners. Plus even if they were caught, no discipline was ever handed down to them. So if they are not disciplined, what incentive do they have to change their dangerous ways?

 

They are only going to keep getting lucky for so long. Chances are this belt sander guy learned his lesson, and when he is back to work he will use the sander correctly for a while, until he goes back to his old ways.

 

Every single business out there that has employees on the road for any type of business should take this Tracy Morgan accident as a brutal wake-up call. No worker wakes up one day and thinks they are going to get behind the wheel of their truck or car and kill somebody.

 

 

Hold Workers Accountable To Safety And Discipline Unsafe Acts

 

At the end of the day, your workers have to be held accountable for their own actions, and they need to be disciplined for unsafe acts. The chain of command and accountability has to be there. Workers are held accountable for their actions, supervisors are held accountable for their workers under their supervision, and so on up the ladder.

 

The failure is when one level of management does not act properly in stopping an unsafe act to begin with. If you as business owners and decision-makers do not step in, you cannot afford to turn a blind eye to whatever problem you are facing.

 

The cost of replacing an unsafe machine or the cost of making sure your workers are complaint with whatever safety protocol you have is not worth the cost of someone being seriously injured, or worse, losing their life.

 

 

 

Author Michael B. Stack, CPA, Principal, Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. is an expert in employer communication systems and part of the Amaxx team helping companies reduce their workers compensation costs by 20% to 50%. He is a writer, speaker, and website publisher.  www.reduceyourworkerscomp.com.  Contact: mstack@reduceyourworkerscomp.com.

 

©2014 Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law.

 

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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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