5 Steps To Implement a Safety Action Plan

A Safety Action Plan to identify and eliminate physical, ergonomic, biological and chemical exposures will assist the employer in the reduction of the number of work-related injuries and occupational diseases.  By having a Safety Action Plan, the employer is taking a proactive approach to providing the employees with a safe place to work.

 

This article is too limited in space to provide you with a fully operational Safety Program, but we will give you the broad outlines of a Safety Action Plan to assist you in creating or improving your Safety Program.

 

 

The 5 Steps of a Safety Action Plan   

 

 

  1. Identify all the hazards

 

  1. Establish who is responsible for eliminating each hazard

 

  1. Plan a course of action to remove the hazards

 

  1. Take the necessary corrective actions to eliminate the hazards

 

  1. Establish a system to prevent the hazard from returning

 

 

Step 1: Identify all the hazards:

 

If you have not already compiled a list of potential job hazards that could cause injury or damage to equipment, you should do so.  Incorporate the employees into identifying the job hazards.  Ask each employee to list the 5 biggest safety hazards in their job.  Not only will you see most of the job hazards you have already identified, but you will also learn of potential job hazards of which you were not aware.

 

 

Step 2: Establish who is responsible for eliminating each hazard:

 

Once you have compiled your list of job hazards, place the name of the unit supervisor or department manager, or senior executive who is responsible for the eliminating the hazard.  Lower management can correct simple hazards like improper storage of supplies.  More complex hazards requiring a revision of the work process or a change in the physical facility structure will necessitate the involvement of senior management.

 

 

Step 3: Plan a course of action to remove the hazards:

 

Once the hazard has been identified, and the person responsible for eliminating or correcting the hazard has been identified, a course of action to accomplish the hazard elimination must be determined.  Identifying the hazard will not accomplish anything for the employer if the steps to remove the hazard are not established.  By knowing what needs to be done, the process to achieve the elimination of the hazard can move forward.  The plan of action should include the completion date to facilitate its timely accomplishment.

 

 

Step 4: Take the necessary corrective actions to eliminate the hazards:

 

Implementation of the plan of action is critical to the success of the Safety Action Plan.  Identifying the hazard and determining how to correct it will not matter if the necessary corrective actions are not taken.  The employees who have assisted you in identifying the hazards will judge everything in the Safety Program by whether or not management was serious about removing the hazards.  When the corrective actions are taken, and the hazards are eliminated, the employees will be more safety conscious as they understand management is serious about their safety.

 

 

Step 5: Establish a system to prevent the hazard from returning:

 

Some safety issues, like cluttered storerooms or spills, have a happy of returning if steps are not taken to prevent the hazard from reoccurring.  Management can best address these safety hazards by continuous emphasizing the importance of safety.  Each employee should understand safety is not a one-time correction, but a continuous, on-going process.

 

 

 

Author Rebecca Shafer, JD, President of Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. is a national expert in the field of workers compensation. She is a writer, speaker, and publisher. Her expertise is working with employers to reduce workers compensation costs, and her clients include airlines, healthcare, printing/publishing, pharmaceuticals, retail, hospitality, and manufacturing. She is the co-author of the #1 selling book on cost containment, Workers Compensation Management Program: Reduce Costs 20% to 50%. Contact:.

Contact: RShafer@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com.

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

 

 

The Impact of Fatigue and 10 Ways to Mitigate the Risks

If one of your employees is sleeping on the job, he may actually be doing you a favor. Lack of adequate sleep is a major risk factor for injuries, errors, and chronic diseases. In fact, ‘shiftwork sleep disorder’ has been deemed a carcinogen because of the increased risk of breast cancer.

 

Those most at risk are workers with frequent overnight shifts, rotating shifts, or early morning start times. While you may not be able to change the need for workers on shifts other than daytimes, there are strategies you can take that can help employees be less fatigued and save you significant amounts of money.

 

 

The Sobering Stats

 

Employers and payers are likely unaware of the stunning costs associated with workplace fatigue. Here are the numbers for a hypothetical Florida construction company with 800 workers:

 

  • Decreased productivity: $590,463
  • Absenteeism: $249,962
  • Healthcare: $458,075

 

The National Safety Council’s Fatigue Cost Calculator also estimates the number of employees likely suffering from specific sleep risks at this sample company:

 

  • Obstructive sleep apnea: 101
  • Insomnia: 69
  • Restless Legs Syndrome: 40
  • Shift work disorder: 1

 

‘Shiftwork sleep disorder’ occurs when a person’s internal clock becomes misaligned with his sleep/wake schedule due to shift work. Those affected may experience excessive sleepiness during night work and/or insomnia during daytime sleep.

 

The good news is the potential savings from taking simple actions to mitigate all these conditions are $625,250.

 

The safety risks associated with fatigued workers is higher among night-shift workers and increases with each succeeding night

 

Overall statistics show:

 

  • The risk of injury or accident on the night shift is 30 percent higher than on the day shift
  • The risks are 36 percent higher on the fourth consecutive night shift compared to the first
  • 13 percent of workplace injuries are due to fatigue problems.
  • The National Transportation Safety Board says fatigue is a contributing factor in 20 percent of its investigations
  • Employer costs for one worker with an untreated sleep disorder are $3,500.
  • Up to 90 percent of sleep disorders go untreated.

 

In addition to safety risks, fatigue affects cognitive functions and reduces a person’s attention, vigilance and memory. Fatigued workers are slower, less productive and more likely to make errors. And fatigue is also a high-risk factor for developing chronic diseases, including diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obesity, and depression. One study showed that two consecutive nights with less than six hours of sleep are associated with lower performance levels for six days.

 

 

10 Ways to Mitigate the Risks of Workplace Fatigue

 

Employers should become educated and inform their employees about the problems and costs associated with fatigue. They can also look within their organizations to find the causes of fatigue.

 

Additionally, employers can consider some or all of the following strategies:

 

  1. Forward-rotate shifts, such as day to afternoon to night.
  2. Increase rest time between shifts.
  3. Limit the number of consecutive night shifts
  4. Slowly rotate shifts to reduce the impact on sleep schedules, the Panama shift schedule is a good example
  5. Promote an appropriate culture. If workers are rewarded for work they do after hours or by working longer than is typical, employees will get the message that they need to work excessively to get ahead. Instead, reward employees or teams that meet or exceed their goals within normal work hours.
  6. Discourage after-hours work. Rather than sending emails and expecting responses during off-hours, set boundaries for work to be done within certain hours, where possible.
  7. Encourage PTO usage. Workers who feel they should forego paid vacations or work when they are sick are getting the wrong message – and burning themselves out. They not only are risking their own safety and wellbeing, but could be infecting other employees.
  8. Support flextime. A one-hour start-time difference may make a big difference to some employees. Where possible, allow workers to set the hours that best accommodate their sleep needs.
  9. Provide rest areas. A short, 20-minute power nap can make a tremendous difference to at-risk workers for fatigue. Provide a location where employees can rest if the worksite allows for this benefit. Several Fortune 500 companies now provide ‘nap rooms’ for employees.
  10. Avoid screen time. Using a phone or tablet just before bed can activate areas of the brain that make it more difficult to fall asleep. Encourage workers to turn off their electronic devices when going to bed.

 

 

Conclusion

 

Lack of sleep may be costing your company hundreds of thousands of dollars, depending on the number of employees and their work schedules. Being aware of the costs associated with fatigued workers and taking action to ensure workers get enough rest can significantly help your bottom line.

 

 

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

 

Contact: mstack@reduceyourworkerscomp.com.

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

 

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

 

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

3-Step Strategy to Prevent Workplace Violence

3-Step Strategy to Prevent Workplace ViolenceMore than 2 million workers are victims of workplace violence every year. While healthcare clearly leads the industries reporting workplace violence, many other industries are also at risk. Employers and payers can significantly impact the rate of violent incidents by understanding the risks unique to their industries and worksites and developing strategies to mitigate them.

 

 

The Issue

 

OSHA defines workplace violence as any act or threat of physical violence, harassment, intimidation, or other threatening, disruptive behavior that occurs at the work site. That includes everything from verbal abuse to physical assaults and even homicide.

 

The most recent statistics show that violence in workplaces is increasing, despite lower overall crime among the general population – including homicides. In healthcare, the numbers are 7.8 cases of workplace violence for every 10,000 employees. In the sales industry, half of the work-related deaths are due to homicide. School districts also report higher rates of violence, aside from the much-publicized mass shootings.

 

Despite the high prevalence of workplace violence incidents more than 70 percent of U.S. workplaces do not have a formal program or policy that addresses the issue, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

 

 

Create the Policy

 

There are three steps to creating a violence-free workplace.

 

  1. Assess the risk. First, you need to determine the violence hazards affecting your workforce. They could vary among employees. A healthcare establishment, for example, could have staffers who deal with potentially violent patients in the emergency room, along with nurses in the field. The risks facing each are very different.

 

ER workers should be aware of potential incidents not only from patients themselves but from family members who may become frustrated. A nurse who conducts home health visits may be vulnerable to risks because she or he is alone. The home health worker should know to ask questions, such as whether there are firearms in the home.

 

Some ways to assess the risks facing your organization include

  • Find out from staff members whether, where and when they feel threatened.
  • Review past records. Incident reports can reveal areas where violence has occurred, and they should be a focus of prevention policies.
  • Check the research. Studies provide clues to areas vulnerable to violence. Within healthcare facilities, inpatient and acute psychiatric services, geriatric long-term care settings, and urban ERs have been shown to be at higher risk than some other areas.
  • Walk the grounds. Are there areas where outsiders can easily gain access undetected? Are there nearby parks where unsavory types congregate? Are there particular areas inside that are at high risk? These are locations where your policy can target safety efforts, such as a door in a remote part of the building that can be entered only by someone with a security badge.
  • Gauge staff understanding. It is vitally important that employees know what to do if a situation begins to get out of hand; otherwise, you run the risk of a controllable incident getting out of control. Do workers know whom and/or where to call? Is there a special emergency security code to dial and are they aware of it? Do they know what terminology to use in an emergency?

 

  1. Prevention/control. The information gathered during the risk assessment can be used to write the specific policies and procedures to minimize risks. While every workplace is unique, several elements should be considered for inclusion in the policy:

 

  • Strong pre-hire checks. In addition to the usual application and face-to-face interviews, employers should undertake background investigations, criminal history checks, drug testing and reference checks.
  • Roles during crises. Employees should know what to do and where to go if violence erupts.
  • Communication. If an incident occurs, it’s imperative to try to at least contain the situation. You should outline ways to communicate with workers so they can avoid the area in question, call for help, and warn others.
  • Reporting channels. Employees should feel comfortable and know how and where to report any suspicious behavior, as that can prevent a violent situation. The person(s) receiving the report should understand how to respond; such as alerting authorities and/or undertaking investigations.
  • Penalties. The policy should clearly spell out unacceptable behaviors and have associated penalties, such as suspension or termination.

 

  1. Train. A policy only works if all involved are aware of it, understand it, and know what to do in a given situation. Ongoing training should be conducted, at least on an annual basis and with any new hires. The training should include:

 

  • A review of the policy.
  • Role playing various scenarios that could occur. Employees should play the role of both the victim and the perpetrator to get an idea of how both sides work.
  • Personal insights. People who have experienced violent situations in that or similar workplaces should be available to discuss the realities of a violent situation.

 

 

Conclusion

 

Violence can occur in any workplace at any time. By understanding the risks, developing policies to address them, and ensuring all employees have clear expectations, employers can significantly reduce the chances of tragedy in their companies.

 

Partner with OSHA and Drive a Culture of Safety

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

 

 

Understanding OSHA Basics

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

OSHA Rights and Responsibilities

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

Using Workplace Safety Committees to Drive a Culture of Safety

 

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

 

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

 

  • Create a safety program and written forms;

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

Partnering with OSHA for Workplace Safety

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Conclusions

 

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

 

 

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

 

Contact: mstack@reduceyourworkerscomp.com.

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

 

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

 

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

26 A-B-C’s of Safety to Eliminate Workers’ Comp Costs

26 A-B-C’s of Safety to Eliminate Workers' Comp CostsThere are many ways interested stakeholders can reduce workers’ compensation costs in their programs.  Running a more effective program and reducing costs starts with a safe work environment that can be as simple as the A B Cs…

 

Avoid unnecessary risks in the workplace.  Educate all workers on how to be safe.

 

Be aware of common pitfalls that drain program costs.  This includes not making sure all employees are aware of safety.

 

Caution all employee’s to be careful during the workday.

 

Do not delay in reporting work injuries.  Provide resources for employees to report claims and provide appropriate First Aid.

 

Employers are usually the party required to complete the state-mandated First Report of Injury.

 

Falls in the workplace lead to serious work injuries.  Always make sure employees are provided with the proper safety equipment.

 

Get an ergonomic workplace assessment for all employees.  Repetitive use injuries are common in any occupation or job.

 

Help all injured employees in their return-to-work efforts.  Studies show the best way to reduce workers’ compensation costs is to get people back in the workforce as soon as possible.

 

Idiopathic work injuries are generally not compensable.  A careful investigation is required to determine if this is the case so liability can be denied in a timely manner.

 

Just because an employee claims a work injury does not mean it is always compensable.  A proper investigation starts immediately after the injury occurs.

 

Keep your First-Aid kit properly supplied.  This can be the responsibility of a safety committee member to check safety supplies frequently.

 

Letting garbage sit around the workplace can result in injuries.  Encourage all employees to clean up messes – even if they are not responsible for it.

 

Making safety rules is important and the first step to avoiding work injuries.  The next step is consistently enforcing them for all employees.

 

Never miss a deadline when it comes to filing a workers’ compensation document.  Failure to do so can result in penalties assessed to a workers’ compensation program, higher insurance premiums and the payment of additional benefits.

 

Open blades and moving machinery are dangerous.  Make sure all safety equipment is in place and functioning correctly on a daily basis.

 

Prepare for all types of emergencies – think outside the box.  What is your company’s safety plan to deal with severe weather, workplace violence, harassment, or acts of God (e.g., flooding, earthquakes or tornados).

 

Questions need to be asked constantly to improve workplace safety.  A safety officer or committee can be a great resource for employees wanting to learn more.

 

Required workplace safety posters alert employees to common dangers.  Some of the required posters are available to employers for free through state labor and industrial commissions.

 

Set up regular safety training.  While it is important for new employees to learn about the dangers of a workplace, it is especially important for even seasoned employees to be made aware of ongoing risks and dangers.

 

Talk about workplace safety at every company meeting.  This not only reinforces important messages, but it demonstrates a stakeholder’s commitment to safety.

 

Unlit areas and workplaces are dangerous.  This can include slips/falls and even eye strain.  Make sure that all employees have adequate lighting.

 

Violence in the modern workplace is an important issue to address.  This includes teaching employees how to recognize the signs of depression or isolation in a coworker.

 

Walkways and stairwells are common places for injuries.  It is important to make sure these surfaces are free of debris and have proper lighting.

 

Xerox machines can cause work injuries.  Yes, even paper cuts could be compensable.  Make sure all cuts and wounds are properly irrigated and bandaged.

 

You play an important role in workplace safety.  Never pass up the chance to improve your workplace.

 

Zzzzzzzzz.  Getting a good night sleep is important.  Countless work injuries are the result of employee drowsiness.

 

Everyone needs to commit to workplace safety.  It not only reduces workers’ compensation costs but also promotes workplace morale.

 

 

 

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

 

Contact: mstack@reduceyourworkerscomp.com.

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

 

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

 

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

Tips to Understand OSHA Rights and Responsibilities to Drive Safety

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

 

 

Understanding OSHA Basics

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

OSHA Rights and Responsibilities

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

Using Workplace Safety Committees to Drive a Culture of Safety

 

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

 

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

 

  • Create a safety program and written forms;

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

Partnering with OSHA for Workplace Safety

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Conclusions

 

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

 

 

 

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

 

Contact: mstack@reduceyourworkerscomp.com.

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

 

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

 

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

Important Safety Improvements to Avoid Severe Injury or Death in Logging

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

 

 

The Dynamics of a Logging Work Injury

 

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

 

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

 

 

Moving Beyond the General OSHA Requirements

 

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

 

  • Extensive first-aid training for all employees;

 

  • Requirements for the use of personal protective equipment;

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

Avoiding Other Common Safety Hazards

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

Conclusions

 

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

 

 

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

 

Contact: mstack@reduceyourworkerscomp.com.

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

 

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

 

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

Operation Safety: A Case Study in Preventable Workplace Falls

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

 

 

A Case Study in Preventable Workplace Falls

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

Communication is Key!

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

Conclusions

 

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

 

 

 

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

 

Contact: mstack@reduceyourworkerscomp.com.

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

 

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

 

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

Make OSHA a Partner for Workplace Safety Instead of a Pain

Make OSHA a Partner for Workplace Safety Instead of a Pain

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

 

 

Understanding OSHA Basics

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

OSHA Rights and Responsibilities

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

Using Workplace Safety Committees to Drive a Culture of Safety

 

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

 

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

 

  • Create a safety program and written forms;

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

Partnering with OSHA for Workplace Safety

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

Conclusions

 

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

 

 

 

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

 

Contact: mstack@reduceyourworkerscomp.com.

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

 

 

The Problem

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

The Liability

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

Distracted Driving Policy

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

Conclusion

 

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

 

 

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

 

Contact: mstack@reduceyourworkerscomp.com.

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

 

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

 

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

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