Injury Prevention With Ergonomics Creates Money

ergonomics in workers compensationTom Cruise famously shouted, “Show me the money,” in the movie Jerry McGuire, as he was attempting to get his client to the very top of his career.  In the same regard, interested stakeholders and employers seeking to save money in their workers’ compensation programs are usually saying, “Show me what it saved the other guys and what it will save me.”

 

If the employer believes there is a safe workplace and a good loss run, then it can be a hard sell.  Notwithstanding good results, everyone should always seek to do better when it comes to their programs.  This includes improving safety and improving ergonomics in the workplace.

 

Injuries do happen.  Here are some examples of companies benefiting from the installation of an ergonomic/safety program.  Stakeholders should be asking themselves if there is room for improvement in their offices and workspaces.

 

 

Large Scale Construction Company

 

A company began to notice large spikes in musculoskeletal disorders among its employees.  To combat this problem, they hired and implemented a pilot program at one of the company’s larger construction sites that consisted mainly of a customized stretching and strengthening program for the workers based on the specific jobs they were performing at that site.

 

RESULT: After implementing the program, employees logged over 104,000 hours at that pilot jobsite without any reported work-related musculoskeletal disorders.  That is 2,600 – 40-hour workweeks. The employer went from having a significant outbreak of a specific type of injury, to almost wiping it out.

 

 

Local Graphics Company

 

An employer was concerned about rising workers’ compensation costs instituted a comprehensive ergonomics program using employee-led management teams to identify ergonomic risk factors for workplace injuries and establish training and controls to reduce the risk drivers.

 

RESULT:  Within four years, this employer experienced positive results and savings:

 

  • 25% reduction in the number of work-related injuries;

 

  • 39% decrease in the number of back injuries; and

 

  • Overall result in lost work time days by 25%.

 

The key here is that the employer used an “employee-led” approach.  By using their employees as resources, they were able to know what was taking place at their workstations day after day.  These employees had legitimate concerns, which resulted in solutions that worked.

 

 

Nationwide Manufacturing Company

 

This employer experienced an increase in injury rates at its upper-Midwest production facility in the early 1990s, as the worker population and seniority rates changed.  A comprehensive approach to injury prevention was developed, focusing on:

 

  • Ergonomic training;

 

  • Ergonomic retrofitting; and

 

  • On-site stocking of frequently used ergonomic items such as hand tools, floor mats, footrests, and anti-vibration gloves.

 

RESULT:  The employer reported a significant reduction in lost time and/or restricted workdays as a result of the program. The key is taking a step back, identifying the risk factors, finding out what options are available to reduce the risk, and implementing them.  The more you are working at full capacity, the better the production, the stronger the profit margin.

 

 

Food Processing Company

 

This employer noted an increase in musculoskeletal disorders identified at a specific location.  To combat these numbers, the employer instituted an on-site medical management program to reduce the number and severity and these injuries.  The medical management team consists of an on-site physical therapist to assist with job placement and job analyses, as well as follow up on the doctor prescribed treatment of work-related injuries. The occupational health nurses, physicians, and therapists met together at least annually as a group to discuss the successes of the program as well as to recognize any areas of improvement.

 

RESULT:  This program was successful because it produced a better job placement program.  The following improvements were made:

 

  • Job modification process became personalized to the injured employee;

 

  • Communication between various interested parties such as therapist, doctor, team member, and management team were streamlined, which resulted in faster recovery times; and

 

  • In some cases, it led to the prevention of work-related injuries/illnesses.

 

 

Conclusions

 

There are no more excuses for not implementing a safety team or program after reviewing these examples.  Each of these stories is a great example of identifying a problem, establishing a plan to correct it, and tracking the successes of your implementations.  Your broker/carrier/TPA has resources to get you started in the right direction.   The sooner the program is implemented, the sooner to begin saving on claims.

 

 

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

 

Contact: mstack@reduceyourworkerscomp.com.

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

 

©2019 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.

 

Plan for a Happy New Year with Safety First

A safe workplace should be the hallmark of every successful workers’ compensation program.  Changes made to improve workplace safety should never be static.  Changes followed by monitoring and constant improvement must only boost workplace morale and reduce workplace injuries in the new year.  Here is a list of changes that can be made to improve safety and lower workers’ compensation program costs.

 

  1. Commitment to Safety by All Interested Stakeholders: Companies with lower work injury rates are successful because leadership has made a commitment to providing a safe workplace.  This commitment includes a message being delivered from upper management, and consistent implementation.  Leaders who practice what they preach see buy-in from the workforce.

 

  1. Constant Review of Safety Practices and Procedures: Policies are only as good as the piece of paper they are written on.  In some instances, a policy may sound like a good idea but is not practical upon its implementation.  All policies should be subject to review on a quarterly basis.  Input should also be solicited from the people who are impacted the most – the employee.  Allow everyone to be a part of the process.

 

  1. Review Workplace Ergonomics: Those interested in reducing workplace injury should have all work activities reviewed for proper ergonomics.  This includes a review of activities performed on the production line and front office.  While it might take an investment of money, the possibility of a profitable return in terms of lower workplace injuries pays dividends.  Simple fixes include having employees limit repetitive motions, installing proper flooring, mating, and lighting.  Cross-training also adds value to an employee’s knowledge and value.

 

  1. Install Proper First Aid Kits: All employees should have access to proper first aid kits.  They should be stocked to fit a variety of common work injuries and monitored to make sure they are replenished in a timely manner.  This should be done on a monthly basis when other safety equipment is checked, such as fire extinguishers.  Consider adding advanced life-saving equipment such as portal defibrillators in the workplace, and make sure everyone knows how to use and operate them.

 

  1. Review Workplace Safety Plan: All workplaces should have a safety plan in place.  This includes worksites that are not required to have them.  Start the new year off on a positive note to make sure it is updated, and all employees are aware of what to do.  This includes incidents such as fires, severe weather, and active workplace intruder situations.  All exits and egresses should be secure and properly marked.

 

  1. Review Workers’ Compensation Policies and Procedures: All employers should make their employees aware of procedures related to work injuries.  This includes basic information such as how to properly report a work injury, why it is important to report incidents in a timely manner, and contact information for the insurance carrier.  Managers should also receive instruction on how to report a work injury to the insurance carrier, along with other responsibilities.  Additional steps should also be taken to make employees feel comfortable when reporting a work injury.  Emphasize a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to harassment, intimidation, and discrimination when an employee reports a work injury.

 

 

Additional Steps for Workplace Safety

 

A safe workplace also includes proper instruction for management.  This includes providing managers with information on the following issues:

 

  • Common workplace injuries, and steps to take to prevent them from occurring;

 

  • Communication of safety-related issues at all team meetings; and

 

  • Points of emphasis when it comes to a safe workplace.

 

 

Conclusions

 

A new year is coming, now is the time to re-commit yourself and company to a safe workplace.  A commitment to safety starts from the top and trickles down to all employees.

 

 

 

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 the founder & lead trainer of Amaxx Workers’ Comp Training Center.

 

Contact: mstack@reduceyourworkerscomp.com.

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

 

©2019 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 A B C’s of Workplace Safety

There 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’s sleep is important.  Countless work injuries are the result of employee drowsiness.

 

Everyone needs to make a commitment 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: http://blog.reduceyourworkerscomp.com/

 

©2019 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.

Slips, Trips, and Falls Account for Up to 15% of Workers Comp Claims

workers comp safetyDid you know that slips, trips, and falls account for up to 15 percent of all workers’ compensation claims?  The average slip and fall workers’ compensation claim will cost on average $22,000.  It can also impact workplace productivity and add to programs costs as follows:

 

  • Sixty-five percent of lost workdays are due to slip and fall accidents;

 

  • Twenty-two percent of slip and fall incidents resulted in more than 31 days away from work; and

 

  • Twenty-four percent of workplace slip and falls can be directly attributed to footwear.

 

Now is the time for interested stakeholders to be on the look-out – literally – on how they can make their workplaces safer, and reduce workers’ compensation costs by preventing slips, trips, and falls.

 

 

How can I protect my employees from slip and falls?

 

A great way for an employer to reduce slip and fall accidents is with a company-wide slip-resistant shoe program.  This program should be a part of an overall safety plan and can be handled by the safety director, or loss prevention specialist in the organization.  A good slip-resistant shoe program can reduce slip and falls by 50 percent or more with little or no cost to the employer.

 

Implementation of this program starts with a mandate all employees wear appropriate footwear for their working environment.  It includes providing guidance to employees about where and how to purchase these slip-resistant shoes.  By taking this simple step, businesses can proactively reduce their accident rates and better protect their employees.

 

 

How do slip-resistant shoes prevent slip and falls?

 

Slip-resistant shoes have a specially made sole that offers increased resistance to sliding or skidding in wet, or greasy surface conditions.  Common places where this can be a benefit can include factories, industrial areas where employees are working inside, and outside.  It can also be beneficial in restaurants or other food service occupations where water and grease are usually found on the floor.

 

Slip-resistant shoes are made from a softer rubber compound that is designed to provide more traction.  When using this simple technology, the show can gripe the floor or another surface by creating a microscopic roughness of the walking surface.  Slip-resistant shoe soles typically feature a grid-like tread pattern that funnels liquid out from under the shoe.  This prevents the hydroplaning effect like what cars experience when driving on wet surfaces, or puddles at a higher speed.

 

 

How do I know my employees are wearing the right shoes?

 

Not all slip-resistant shoes perform equally.  Make sure that employees are only wearing shoes that have been tested and have a slip resistance rating.  Many of the shoes from retail shoe stores claim to be slip-resistant but do not offer any significant increase in protection for your employees.  A quality slip-resistant shoe vendor should be able to produce test results to verify the slip resistance of their shoes.

 

 

What styles of slip-resistant shoes are there?

 

Nearly any type of work shoe can be made with a slip-resistant sole.  Depending on your workplace, the shoe styles your employees wear will vary:

 

  • If you run a restaurant, your kitchen workers might be wearing waterproof clogs, while your servers could be wearing oxfords.

 

  • A hospital or long-term care facility will be a great setting for comfortable, supportive sneakers.

 

  • An industrial or manufacturing setting needs something tougher, such a steel toe or comp toe work boot.

 

Consider keeping a stock of various sized overshoes on hand for new hires to wear until they get proper footwear.  Having extra shoes on hand can also be used by visiting supervisors, or other guests on your premise.

 

Conclusions

 

Creating a safe workplace requires employers and other interested stakeholders use creative ideas to reduce injuries.  This includes reducing slip and falls, which can increase workers’ compensation program costs.  Requiring the use of slip-resistant shoes is one idea that can be implemented in an efficient and effective manner.

 

 

 

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

 

Contact: mstack@reduceyourworkerscomp.com.

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

 

©2019 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 Are Not Preventing Work-Related Injuries, You Are Causing Them

prevent work injuriesIn the world of safety, day to day, operations revolve around trying to prevent injuries. Proper lifting techniques, guarding on machines, and other safety measures are constantly being scrutinized to prevent work injuries from occurring. If you are working on preventing injuries, you are stopping them at the root cause.

 

 

“That Will Never Happen At My Company” Is The Wrong Thinking

 

What if you have no real safety program, or no loss control techniques? Well, to be blunt, you are just waiting for the next injury to occur. Why would any company want to wait around for the next injury to happen? Most employers think that the worst injuries will never occur at their plant because everyone uses their heads when working and everyone practices using proper safety when operating machinery. This is far from the truth.

 

The truth is, risk of injury is everywhere at every moment of the day. Each worker has the responsibility of operating safely. Unfortunately, this is not the way it works. Workers get caught in their routines, and their attention can get diverted away from what they are doing at the current time. This distraction can, and will, lead to injury.

 

Also to blame are poor training programs. If you have a lot of new hires, they may start off learning bad habits from their veteran employees that are training them.

 

But the new hires are not the only ones to blame. Veteran workers can also become injured because they pay less attention to their work routines. They think because they have worked there a long time and know the machinery that they can get away with more. Examples such as removing machine guarding, improperly using machines, or not wearing safety equipment are usually to blame. These are easy corrections to a widespread problem.

 

So if this is the case, who is policing the veterans to make sure they are performing the jobs the proper way? Are the supervisors on the floor enforcing safety each day? Are there disciplinary measures in force for those that break the rules? If so, are these measures always enforced or is it just some of the time? Does your supervisory program ever have any type of audit or follow-up to make sure management is actually supervising their workers or are they just babysitting them and turning the other way to keep production levels where they want them to be?

 

 

Worker Accountability is Key To Safety Success

 

Slip and fall injuries are very common. Who is in charge of making sure the carpets are in good shape? Who is in charge of making sure any fatigue mats in front of machines are free from wear and tear? Are workers falling in areas that they should not be in the first place? Why are they allowed in these areas? Who is in charge of being responsible for these areas? If your answer is that you do not know, then you have a problem.

 

Are any management personnel soliciting feedback from the employees that are working these jobs each day for hours and hours, week after week? What are their thoughts on how you can perform each job in a safer manner? One of your best resources for safety is your employees. Sure can be great to bring in an outside expert to review each job and comment on how they could be performed better and in a safer manner. However, if you are not soliciting feedback from your staff, then you are missing out on a great opportunity for safety ideas.

 

Worker accountability is key. Each worker has a duty to perform. Each supervisor has a duty to supervise and enforce rules. Each safety person appointed to that position has a duty to review tasks and implement safety measures. Why has accountability been pushed to the side?

 

 

 

Consider Indirect Cost of Workers Comp When Evaluating Bottom Line

 

In my experience, worker accountability, responsibility, and safety are often pushed aside due to production demands. The focus is on the bottom line, and on quality, rather than on safety. Everyone turns a blind eye to hidden indirect costs of injuries. If you have a few injured workers, other workers must pick up their slack. This hurts their production and the production of the work floor as a whole. More corners then get cut to keep up with production demands.

 

It is the classic iceberg effect. Executives see work comp claim costs only at the surface. They see the medical and wage loss expenses as the only “expense” of a work comp claim. The indirect costs hidden under the surface are so much worse. Decreased production, increased strain on remaining workforce, decreased morale, increased hazards, increased shortcuts, decreased quality, etc. All of these have a larger cost to the company as a whole rather than just medical and wage loss expense.

 

When you are thinking about your safety program and accountability, think of the hidden costs beneath the surface. A proper guard on a machine could cost $10,000, but what are the costs to someone being injured because the guard is not there? Chances are, that cost is going to be 10x more expensive.

 

 

 

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 the founder & lead trainer of Amaxx Workers’ Comp Training Center.

 

Contact: mstack@reduceyourworkerscomp.com.

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

 

©2019 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 Tips for Outdoor Workers In Hot Summer Months

 Important Safety Tips for Outdoor Workers In Hot Summer MonthsNot everyone has the luxury of spending the hot summer months working inside an air-conditioned office.  A good percentage of the labor workforce has to be outside for hours and hours each day, battling the blazing sun and high humidity.  Every year, thousands of workers become sick from exposure to heat, and some even die. These illnesses and deaths are preventable, usually by taking some simple steps to help your workforce during the summer months.

 

 

Educate Employees on Risks of Working Outside

 

Workers exposed to hot and humid conditions are at risk of heat illness, especially those doing heavy work tasks or using bulky protective clothing and equipment while working outside. Some workers might be at even greater risk than others if they have not built up a tolerance to working in hot conditions.

 

Workers that live in Wisconsin may not be able to handle the heat as well as some workers in Arizona due to the overall climate and the fact that they just are not used to being around high levels of heat and humidity. Some employers send people around the US for various jobs that need to be done.  Special precautions should be made for those workers who may not be as used to working in the heat. Be sure they know about the conditions and allow them to voice any concerns they may have. Educate them on the risks of working outside, even if they think they know what the job will entail.  Sure, they can complete the job, but are the taking the outdoor conditions into account?

 

 

Body Temperature Can Rise to Dangerous Levels without Precautions

 

The body normally cools itself by sweating. During hot weather, especially with high humidity, sweating isn’t enough. Body temperature can rise to dangerous levels if precautions are not taken. Heat illnesses range from sunburn, heat rash, and heat cramps to heat exhaustion or heat stroke. Heat stroke can result in death and requires immediate medical attention. Some people at risk of heat stroke may not show obvious symptoms until it could be too late to help them, especially if you are working in remote areas far away from proper medical attention.  This risk could increase with new workers, who are afraid to talk to management about feeling ill because they feel that it could cost them their new job.

 

 

Prevent with Water, Rest, Shade, and Good Communication

 

So how can heat illness be prevented? Remember three simple words: water, rest, shade. Drinking water often, taking several smaller breaks, and limiting time in the heat can help prevent heat illness. Also attempt to do the heavier tasks earlier in the morning, when the sun and heat are not at full capacity.  Employers should include these prevention steps in worksite training and plans. Gradually build up to heavy work in hot conditions. This helps you build a tolerance to the heat – or become acclimated. Employers should take steps that help workers become acclimated, especially workers who are new to working outdoors in the heat or have been away from work for a while. Gradually increase workloads and allow more frequent breaks during the first weeks of work. Also, it’s important to know and look out for the symptoms of heat illness in yourself and others during hot weather. Plan for an emergency and know what to do — acting quickly can save lives! Some symptoms include fatigue, dizziness, confusion, blurred vision, heavy breathing, and minor shaking, among others.

 

Communication is key.  Workers outside need to know that they can take breaks as needed if they have to, without fear of being punished for taking too long to complete a job.  Onsite managers should be there to help with this and enforce the break times as needed. Sometimes shade is not readily available, so cooling stations or areas indoors that can be used to take breaks should be made available.  Only use the heavy protective gear as it is needed, you shouldn’t have workers standing around in heavy gear unless they are readily using it for their job. Also, you can have workers complete their tasks in shifts, so a fresh team can move in and out which will give everyone a break from the conditions.

 

 

Use High SPF to Prevent Skin Disorders

 

Exposure to the sun can also be deadly in the form of skin disorders.  Those with fairer skin may burn easier than those with other complexions, and you should always have a stocked supply of sunblock around for your workers to use. Make sure you use a high SPF, and it is always better to provide waterproof and sweat-proof sunblock versus the normal. We have all had a sunburn at one time or another throughout our lives, so remember how bad sunburn can hurt, and how the symptoms often do not set in until you have already had a good amount of sun exposure.  Sunblock should be applied 15-30 minutes prior to the sun exposure, and again a short time after your workers have been outside and working.  Even if your workers claim to “never burn” out in the sun, don’t take their word on it.  Make your workers use the sunblock every day, and remind them to reapply often.

 

 

Summary

 

The dog days of summer are upon us, and special care should be made for your outdoor workers if you have them.  Be sure to remind your workers about the risks of working short and long hours outside, and tell them to voice any issues or concerns they may have when on the job.  As we always say, it is better to be safe than sorry!

 

 

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.

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: https://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: https://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: https://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.

 

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