Fine For Employee Deaths Amounts To Slap On The Wrist

 

As the Alberta (Canada) Federation of Labor (AFL) sees it, the recent fine given to oil company Sinopec amounts to nothing more than a slap on the wrist.
 
According to the AFL, the $1.5 million fine will have little or no impact on halting the company from continuing to have in place reported practices that endanger their employees.
 
During a recent court hearing, the Canadian subsidiary of Chinese oil corporation Sinopec was fined $1.5 million for an incident that led to the deaths of a pair of their employees their lives.
 
As AFL President Gil McGowan put it, “One and a half million dollars doesn’t even amount to a rounding error in the annual budget of a monstrous global corporation like Sinopec. This fine does nothing to dissuade them from playing fast and loose with the safety of their workforce.”
 
 
Imported Third World Health and Safety Standards
 
The story unfolded when Sinopec and a pair of other companies were charged after a 2007 container collapse resulted in the deaths of two temporary foreign workers at an oil sands project near Fort McKay, Alberta. In all, 53 charges were handed down against the companies, of which Sinopec pled guilty to three charges of failing to oversee the health and safety of its employees.
 
McGowan noted that “Sinopec didn’t just import workers from the third world, they also imported third-world health and safety standards. Alberta missed its chance to send a message that Chinese companies working in the oil sands need to play by Canadian rules.”
 
While McGowan added that it might be the largest safety fine in Alberta history, it further demonstrates that Alberta has a long history in failing to aggressively enforce its own workplace safety rules.
 
The two victims, Ge Genbao, 28, and Lui Hongliang, 33, were just two of the more than 130 Cantonese-speaking workers who were transported from China for the Sinopec oil sands project.
 
 
Complete Abdication of Safety Responsibility
 
“We shouldn’t forget the circumstances that led to the deaths of Genbao and Hongliang,” McGowan went on to say. “The company did not get the construction plans certified by an engineer. The wires weren’t strong enough to hold up against the wind. It was a complete abdication of responsibility on the part of the employer.”
 
China Petrochemical Corporation (Sinopec Group) is a super-large petroleum and petrochemical enterprise group established in July 1998 on the basis of the former China Petrochemical Corp.
 
 
Author Michael B. Stack, CPA, Director of Operations, Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. is an expert in employer communication systems and part of the Amaxx team helping companies reduce their workers compensation costs by 20% to 50%. He is a writer, speaker, and website publisher.  www.reduceyourworkerscomp.com.  Contact: mstack@reduceyourworkerscomp.com.
 
©2013 Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. 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 about workers comp issues.

Death of Washington Scuba Diver Leads to Safety Citations

 

The death of diver in Washington State last summer while on the job has led to repercussions for one department.
 
State officials with The Department of Labor & Industries (L&I) recently cited the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) for 15 worker-safety violations as part of their investigation into a drowning fatality involving a DNR diver last summer. The citation represents a potential penalty of $172,900.
 
 
Deceased Diver Part of 4 Person Dive Team
 
The deceased diver, David Scheinost, 24, was part of a four-person dive team from the DNR Aquatic Resources Division that was collecting geoduck samples to test for paralytic shellfish poisoning from the Manzanita and Restoration Point geoduck harvest tracts off Bainbridge Island on July 24.
 
As the day unfolded, a pair of SCUBA (self-contained underwater breathing apparatus) divers had deployed on their third dive of the day when Scheinost came to the surface in distress, calling out that he couldn’t breathe. The others were unable to reach him before he went beneath the surface and was gone. His body was found three days later.
 
 
L&I Investigation Points Out Problems
 
The L&I investigation involving the dive-safety policies and practices at DNR discovered:
 
             370 occurrences over a six-month period in which divers were deployed without carrying a reserve breathing-gas supply.
             DNR did not ensure a designated person was in charge at the dive location to supervise all aspects of the diving operation affecting the health and safety of the divers.
 
L&I Says ‘Willful’ Violations Took Place
 
As L&I concluded, these were “willful” violations, which means they were committed with intentional disregard or plain indifference to worker safety and health regulations.
 
“Commercial diving involves risks that unfortunately lead too often to tragedies like this incident,” stated Anne Soiza, assistant director of L&I’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health. “These significant risk factors require advance planning, properly maintained equipment and strict adherence to procedures to ensure the protection of workers’ lives on each and every dive.”
 
Along with the pair of willful violations, L&I cited DNR for eight “serious” and five “general” violations for not complying with standard safe-diving practices and procedures, including failure to:
 
             Have effective accident prevention and training programs.
             Ensure that divers maintained continual visual contact with each other.
             Inspect and maintain equipment.
             Have a stand-by diver available while divers are in the water.
 
L&I is responsible for workplace safety and health and investigating workplace deaths for all private, state and local government worksites.
 
 
Provided With 15 Working Days to Appeal Citation.
 
As with any citation, penalty money paid is put in the workers compensation supplemental pension fund, assisting workers and loved ones of those who have died while working.
 
 
Author Michael B. Stack, CPA, Director of Operations, Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. is an expert in employer communication systems and part of the Amaxx team helping companies reduce their workers compensation costs by 20% to 50%. He is a writer, speaker, and website publisher.  www.reduceyourworkerscomp.com.  Contact: mstack@reduceyourworkerscomp.com.
 
©2013 Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. 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 about workers comp issues.

Safety Efforts Pay Off For Record Safest Year in 2012

 

It appears that the efforts to make Victoria (Australia) workplaces safer has paid off.
 
According to information from WorkCover, 2012 witnessed 18 people pass away while on the job in Victorian workplaces, that being seven less than the 25 who were killed in 2011. That figure for 2012 also equals the prior record low of 18 workplace fatalities in 2005.
 
 
7.77 People Injured for Every Million Hours Worked
 
The number of Victorians who were injured at work also dipped to a new low. Last year, 7.77 people were injured for every million hours worked, that in comparison to 7.9 people per million hours worked in 2011.
 
WorkCover Assistant Treasurer Gordon Rich-Phillips remarked that the improvement was a major achievement, maintaining the state’s track record of leading Australia in terms of workplace safety.
 
“In 2012 national data confirmed Victoria’s position as having the safest workplaces of any state or territory in Australia, and that’s a credit to employers, workers and the efforts of the WorkSafe team,” Rich-Phillips remarked. “Many things need to come together to achieve these sorts of outcomes – active engagement and support from employers and workers, practical assistance combined with inspection and enforcement activity by the VWA and a commitment to improved workplace safety.”
 
 
Victorian Workplace Deaths Nearly Halve in Last Decade
 
According to Rich-Phillips, fatalities in Victorian workplaces had almost halved over the past decade.
 
“However, it is clear that more can be done, as many of the fatalities and injuries resulted from known hazards, with known safety solutions,” Rich-Phillips said. “Eighteen families had a sad and distressing 2012 because a family member failed to return home safely. The impact of a workplace death is also enormous on colleagues and employers, which is why we ask everyone returning to work to make safety their number one priority this year.”
 
Of the 18 deaths in 2012, 12 were in Melbourne and six were in regional Victoria. Sixteen of the fatalities were turned out to be males, one was an elderly woman and one was a four-year-old. Half of the deaths involved men aged 50 and over.
 
“Employers can improve safety and reduce injuries by making sure people are trained and supervised, that they have the right equipment to safely carry out a job and that machines are properly guarded,” Rich-Phillips said. “Workers can also improve safety in the workplace by taking responsibility for their actions. A shortcut might seem like a good idea but it’s often a shortcut to a serious injury.”
 
 
Author Michael B. Stack, CPA, Director of Operations, Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. is an expert in employer communication systems and part of the Amaxx team helping companies reduce their workers compensation costs by 20% to 50%. He is a writer, speaker, and website publisher.  www.reduceyourworkerscomp.com.  Contact: mstack@reduceyourworkerscomp.com.
 
©2013 Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. 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 about workers comp issues.

How To Have A Great Holiday Party At Reduced Risk

In this day of litigation any company event can become a source for injury and liability. I will cover how to hold a company party with or without alcohol that will be safe and free of the danger of serious litigation.
Of course the route of serving no alcohol is the one with the least risk for litigation, however, with the mood and frivolity of the holidays there is still risk. The company may have near the same liability potential if employees bring their own libations. If they do, the company must control this as if it was served by the company. Too many companies have suffered the tragic loss or injury of an employee after an event. These are even tougher during the joy filled times holidays bring. Tougher yet is when you get that first subpoena and the family of the injured is asking “how did you let him/her drive home from the party if he/she was under the influence?” Many a case law is of record that companies do not fare well under any circumstance, alcohol provided or not. So, what are we to do?
Rules for Great Time, Reduced Risk
Not have a company holiday party? No, quite the contrary, with some proper planning and a little extra expense you can have a great time, serve some drinks, be the boss everyone loves and keep the wolves away.
The following rules apply if you are serving or not:
1. Collect all car keys at the door, this can be made fun by giving a door prize ticket in exchange for keys. (Make it a nice gift) The person collecting the keys will be able to do a little “inventory” of condition at arrival and exit. If an employee is not capable of driving after the party, they just do not get the keys and alternative means of getting them home safely can be arranged.
2. I suggest ahead of time renting a van or town car and driver for the night, or making suitable arrangements with a cab company. This or any plan that has the same effect will allow for a great party, no regrets and of course healthy happy employees.
Proper Planning Keeps Holidays Merry and Bright
I have seen several variations of holding exceptional holiday parties with great success. Smaller companies or those with greater financial resources have held parties at a hotel with rooms for the night for all attending; this can be a great event at the right place. Do though keep a close eye on all and key control is recommended even here.
Author Brian Hill is owner of OshaSure in Birmingham Alabama and has over 20 years as a workplace safety and risk consultant. Brian was previously a pilot for a major US airline and member of the company’s interdepartmental safety committee. He found his new career in safety after the closing of the airline in 1991. Brian has found the same passion he had for flying in assisting companies with safety, heath and risk issues.
For more information click on www.oshasure.com
Editor Michael B. Stack, CPA, Director of Operations, Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. is an expert in employer communication systems and part of the Amaxx team helping companies reduce their workers compensation costs by 20% to 50%. He is a writer, speaker, and website publisher.  www.reduceyourworkerscomp.com.
©2012 Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. 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 about workers comp issues.

Cherry Picker Topples Over, Injures Workers and Costs Employer

Workers Injured Cutting Tree Limbs

 
A Myaree, Australia tree lopper has been fined $12,000 (plus almost $1400 in costs) over an incident in which he and an employee were injured when an elevating work platform (EWP) they were using toppled over, according to Western Australia’s Department of Commerce.
 
Gerald Shields recently pleaded guilty to failing to provide and maintain a safe work environment and was fined in the Rockingham Magistrates Court.
 
In May 2010, Shields was contracted by the Department of Housing and Works to carry out tree cutting services, and was engaged in lopping tree branches in Medina using an EWP (commonly known as a cherry picker).
 
 
Stabilizing Leg of “Cherry Picker” Sunk Into Ground & Toppled Over
 
Shields and an employee elevated the EWP booms to their full length to cut a limb from a tree, and when the lower boom was being lowered, the front passenger side stabilizer leg sunk into an old drain or soak well.
 
The EWP toppled over and the boom struck the ground.  The two men were ejected from the bucket and landed on the roof of a nearby building. Shields suffered only minor scalp injuries, but his employee suffered a crush injury to his right wrist and forearm.
 
 
Spread Plates and Personal Protective Equipment Not Used
 
The court heard that the recommended spread plates were not used on the stabilizer legs on the soft ground, and that the safety interlock switch for the EWP was interfered with, allowing the boom to be elevated without the stabilizers being deployed, contrary to operating instructions.
 
It was also revealed that the men were not wearing safety harnesses or any other personal protective equipment (PPE) such as safety glasses or hearing protection, and that Shields did not ensure that any of his employees used PPE.
 
Shields had not carried out or ensured that adequate pre-start checks were carried out on the EWP, as evidenced by the facts that the safety interlock switch was taped down and that one of the controls was missing and had been replaced with a hammer.
 
WorkSafe WA Commissioner Lex McCulloch added the case was a good example of an employer who completely disregarded the safety of his employees.
 
 
Falls Significant Cause of Workplace Death
 
“This employer seems to have had absolutely no regard for his own safety or that of his employees,” McCulloch said. “There have been many instances in WA of EWPs tipping over, resulting in serious and critical injuries and deaths. There were no safe systems of work in place for the operation of the EWP or for the protection of the employees.”
 
According to McCulloch, falls are a significant cause of workplace death, and 16 Western Australian workers have died as a result of falls in the last four years.
 
 
 

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

 

 


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A Better Approach to Safety Includes Pre-Work Exercises

In the November issue of Risk and Insurance magazine is a very interesting article on a better approach to safety. The article is about how the magazine selected Honda Manufacturing of Indiana for their PreVent Award.  The premise of the safety article is trusting the employee to be a part of accident prevention.

 
The article explains how Soichiro Honda, the founder of Honda Motors “was adamant about protecting the individual in the workplace.” This philosophy is followed by Honda Manufacturing of Indiana.  The company strives to give the employees both “the physical and mental training to be prepared to do their jobs effectively and safely.” (WCxKit)
 
 
When new employees are hired, they do not start work immediately.  Instead, they are provided a two week physical conditioning program emphasizing exercises to simulate the movements they will be required to perform on the job.  The program also teaches the employee how to position the body in the best way for job performance in an ergonomically correct manner.  If there are any doubts, please note the employees who complete this physical training have an 80% lower injury rate than employees who did not complete the physical training program.
 
 
The lead safety person at Honda Manufacturing of Indiana credits this ‘whole person approach’ with the effectiveness of their program, plus the company’s safety program has strong support from the upper management.  When Honda was constructing the plant that opened in 2008, the safety program was consulted to build ergonomically correct processes into the production.  Honda allows each manufacturing plant to structure its own safety program around the belief that the local personnel know their own facility better than anyone else.
 
 
The employees are encouraged to use the physical conditioning program outside of the workplace, plus the employees are taught to monitor their own stress and fatigue levels. They are taught how off the job stress can put them at an increase of injury on the job.
 
 
The safety program at Honda is based on the premise that the employee knows the job better than anyone.  The employees know what the hazards are and what causes stress on their body which can ultimately hurt them.  Honda takes the approach of listening to the employees, trusting what the employees have to say about performing their jobs safely, and using that guidance to create safe working conditions. By listening to the employees and implementing safety recommendations, Honda created a safer working environment. 
 
 
When Risk and Insurance magazine was considering various companies for the PreVent Award, it was looking for companies that implement safety programs to prevent work place injuries and provide a safe working environment.  The magazine was looking for employers that were proactive in injury prevention beyond the traditional safety and loss control programs. 
 
 
The criterion for the PreVent Award which is given each November includes
 
1.Total Injury Prevention Focus – which starts with recognizing all potential sources of workplace injuries including suboptimal equipment, inefficient work processes, excessive repetitive motions, poor body mechanics and/or ergonomically incorrect processes.
 
2. Risk Assessment – identifying all potential risk that can lead to injuries
 
3. Proactive Approach – comprehensive strategies to address losses and prevent them from reoccurring. (WCxKit)
 
 
We strongly support safety as a primary means of reducing workers compensation cost.  For more information on how to improve your safety program, please contact us.

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 website 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 author of the #1 selling book on cost containment, Manage Your Workers Compensation: Reduce Costs 20-50% www.WCManual.com. Contact: RShafer@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com.
 

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©2011 Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law. If you would like permission to reprint this material, contact Info@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com

Best Practices Standards Needed for Doctors Sleep Habits

A prominent Canadian medical journal is calling for established minimum best practice standards to deal with sleep deprivation for doctors.
 
 
In an editorial published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal recently, the doctors Noni MacDonald, Paul Hebert, Ken Flegel, and Matthew Stanbrook suggest that there needs to be a change in physicians' professional culture, according to the Canadian OH&S News. (WCxKit)
 
 
"Long periods on call should not be accepted as routine or a source of pride. Instead, we must admit that working while impaired from sleep deprivation is neither normal nor acceptable," the doctors stated. The editorial points out that sleep deprivation, defined as less than six hours of uninterrupted sleep, from "overnight call" has been shown to cause a likewise degree of impairment in judgment and motor performance as a blood-alcohol level higher than 0.05 percent.
 
 
"Those of us who remain overconfident that we can continue to perform our duties properly without adequate sleep should imagine the reaction if we were made to seek informed consent from each of our patients to accept treatment under these conditions," the doctors continued
 
 
According to the doctors, some hospitals, departments, and group practices have implemented innovative approaches to work scheduling, such as strict policies for going home after call, refraining from booking procedures or clinics the day following call, reorganizing call schedules to allow for more physician coverage, or moving to shift work.
 
 
"Ultimately, licensing, accreditation, insurance and government institutions need to establish minimum best-practice standards for maximum work and minimum uninterrupted sleep hours," the editorial points out. (WCxKit)
 
 
The editorial goes on to say that prolonged work hours are not limited to doctors involved in high-technology, advanced care settings. A primary care physician who is up all night assisting a birth or dealing with a patient in crisis may be, "because of sleep deprivation, at increased risk for errors in judgment when seeing patients in the office the next day," the doctors write. Unlike trainees, whose practice is supervised, doctors often have no one overlooking them to catch their mistakes, they added.
 
 

Author Robert Elliott, executive vice president, Amaxx Risks Solutions, Inc. has worked successfully for 20 years with many industries to reduce Workers Compensation costs, including airlines, healthcare, printing/publishing, pharmaceuticals, retail, hospitality and manufacturing. See www.LowerWC.com for more information. Contact:Info@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com.

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5 Common Sense Actions Create a Great Safety Plan

 

pic1Safety Action Plan provides a guideline for your company to identify, manage, and monitor safety hazards posing a risk to your employees. According to the National Safety Council, 85 percent of all accidents could be prevented or reduced by having an effective safety program. To reach a high level of safety effectiveness a safety action plan is required. By creating a safety action plan, you remove the potential hazards and take the necessary actions to eliminate the hazards.

 

 

 

 

  1. Hazard Identification

There are various types of hazards. Many will be recognized by the safety manager, but even  safety professionals do not recognize all hazards. The loss runs produced by your insurer or third party administrator is an excellent source to identify hazards that you might not think about and overlook.

 

 

All company personnel should be encouraged to report any hazards they identify that have not been addressed by the safety manager. There are various types of hazards including:

  1. Physical hazards – machinery without guards, tow motors without back up sound warnings, inventory stacked haphazardly or too high, tools or equipment left where an employee could trip, etc.
  2. Ergonomic hazards – equipment or machinery placed incorrectly whether too high, too low, out of comfortable reach; processes that require the employee to twist back and forth; or that cause constant repetitive motions by the employee.
  3. Chemical hazards – improper ventilation, vapors from chemical processes, improper use of combustible materials.
  4. 4.  Biological hazards – in the medical field the improper disposal of needles and medical waste.

 

 

  1. Responsibility

The employer should treat safety as everyone’s responsibility. The employer should go a step further and hold the department supervisor or manager responsible for identifying the hazards within their work area. The department manager should be given authority to take the necessary actions to eliminate the hazards within the area of responsibility.

 

 

  1. A Course of Action

It is not enough to identify the potential hazards and to give the department manager the responsibility of correcting the hazard. The department manager must follow through and create an action plan to deal with the hazard. Some hazards can be fixed rather easily. For example, an action plan for the haphazard stacked inventory – unstack the inventory and stack it correctly. Other hazards will take planning and resources.

 

For example, the worn-out conveyor belt that poses a snag hazard for the employees. The hazard needs to be reviewed with the safety manager and a plan to remove the hazard should agreed upon

 

 

  1. Implementation

Whatever the nature of the hazard, once it is identified, timely and appropriate action to remove the hazard is required. When a course of action can be implemented immediately, it should be. When the course of action has several steps, the implementation should be scheduled with a completion date set for each step to be implemented. The implementation and completion of the necessary course of action will reduce the risk of injury to the employees and reduce the company’s exposure to financial loss.

 

 

When hazard correction entails the use of financial resources, management must take the appropriate action to provide the resources. When employees see management taking action and giving safety priority, the employees themselves will place a higher priority on safety.(WCxKit)

 

 

  1. Follow up

When a hazard is identified within one location within the company, the safety manager should check to see if the same hazard exists at other locations within the company. When the hazard exists at multiple locations, the hazard should be identified to all employees. The action plan and implementation of the action to remove the hazard should be completed.

 

 

Create a list of potential hazards. This can be very helpful in the elimination of future hazards. The list of hazards can become the foundation of a safety inspection checklist.(WCxKit)

 

 

A safety action plan is not a one time occurrence, but an on-going process to prevent new hazards from developing and to prevent old hazards from returning. By having a safety action plan, you can reduce both your physical losses and your cost of workers compensation.

 


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 website 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. See www.LowerWC.com for more information. Contact: RShafer@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com.

 

 

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©2011 Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law. If you would like permission to reprint this material, contact Info@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com.

 

Failure to Obey Costs Wisconsin Employer $46,200 in Fines

The U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) cited Marshfield Door Systems Inc. with one repeat and two alleged serious violations after a worker's hand was trapped in an ingoing nip point on a conveyor belt line in March. The accident resulted in contusions, abrasions, and friction burns. Proposed penalties total $46,200.

"Installing proper machine guarding is a basic safety precaution that Marshfield Door Systems should have taken for the protection of its workers," said Kim Stille, OSHA area director in Madison. "We are committed to ensuring that employers adhere to OSHA's common-sense standards in order to prevent avoidable injuries, such as this one." (WCxKit)

The repeat violation was cited for failing to train workers in lockout/tagout procedures to control energy sources for equipment on conveyor belt line number one and carries a proposed penalty of $33,000,. A repeat violation exists when an employer previously has been cited for the same or a similar violation of a standard, regulation, rule or order at any other facility in federal enforcement states within the last five years. Marshfield Door Systems was also cited for failing to provide training on lockout/tagout procedures in 2009.

The serious violations are failing to inspect energy control procedures within the past year and to install guarding to protect workers from an exposed nip point on the conveyor. This carries a proposed penalty of $13,200, A serious violation occurs when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known. (WCxKit)

Prior to OSHA's most recent inspection in March following the injury, the Marshfield-based company was inspected 13 times since 2001. Those inspections resulted in 27 citations, including some for violations of lockout/tagout and machine guarding standards.


Author Robert Elliott, executive vice president, Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. has worked successfully for 20 years with many industries to reduce Workers Compensation costs, including airlines, healthcare, printing/publishing, pharmaceuticals, retail, hospitality and manufacturing. See www.LowerWC.com for more information. Contact: Info@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com.


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4 Additional Ways to Reduce Claim Exposure During Business Peak Times

No matter what season whether it is winter, spring, summer, or fall, it is some company's “busy” or peak season somewhere. Unfortunately for niche businesses, this peak time can also be a prime time for workers compensation injuries.  
 

New staff is hired to meet the upcoming demands, and the company employees are working longer hours to meet the demand. The equipment begins to require more maintenance and repair during this “busy” period. It is imperative not to forget about workplace safety during this time. Here we discuss a few ways to curb the exposure to injuries.
 
 
1. Solid hiring practices
When demand is high for the work product, it is easy to forget focusing on important aspects of the business. The peak time of year means hiring new full time and part time employees. These employees may be referrals from other employees or simply walk in with little to no experience. 
 
 
Evaluating the job candidates is critical. On average, first-year employees have a higher incidence of injuries than more experienced or tenured employees. This may sound obvious, but hiring practices are key in preventing workers compensation injuries. Workplace safety must be part of the screening process as well as physicals and drug screens prior to hiring. Monitor the potential employee’s attitude toward safety during the interview process and while touring the workplace. The way the employee behaves during this time could be a sign of carelessness that could lead to a workplace injury. (WCxKit) One company had 80% of injuries occuring to employees with less than one year's tenure.
 
 
2. Proper orientation and safety training
Safety comes first and the facility should maintain safety at all times of the year. Focusing on safety only during a peak time is ineffective and potentially hazardous. Protocol for repairs, maintenance, and inspections should happen consistently throughout the year.
 
 
Employees should be reminded about safe work practices and be trained in proper safety techniques. Emergency procedures, safe work practices, protective equipment are key to preventing injuries during the peak time and anytime of the year. Mock injury set ups can be educational and reveal how employees will respond in an emergency situation. Having a plan in place will help employees know how to respond properly and effectively should an injury occur.
 
 
3. Proactive and involved supervision
Supervising and enforcing safe work practices is a key component to reducing the risk of injuries. Every employee is responsible to work safely, even if it is not the easiest and fastest way. Managers and supervisors onsite should be aware of an employee's every move. Operational guidelines such as proper guards for saws and safety glasses are crucial. If a supervisor catches an employee working unsafely, the employee must be disciplined. Employees will only take safety seriously, if there are serious and automatic consequences. 
 
 
The employee should be allowed to provide feedback keeping the lines of communication open. Employees are not prisoners, and employees most likely has ideas on how to change workstations to increase safety standards. Providing incentives like raffles for free gas cards is an easy option. A supervisor can implement a new safety technique and the results will travel to senior level management. By giving the employee a chance to weigh in, work safety techniques will be more successful overall.
 
 
4. Super fast accident response
As mentioned above, employees must understand what to do should an accident occur. If an employee using a saw cuts a hand and tells a supervisor about the accident, the supervisor will then tell the HR person and take the employee to receive medical care. The first report of injury is completed and called in to the insurance  carrier. The employee returns to the shop bringing the medical slip to the HR person, who then faxes or emails the adjuster. Within 24 hours, the adjuster already has the injury report, statements from the supervisor and HR, and the medical slip. These items are crucial to a claim being handled properly after an accident.
 
 
This example may sound like workers compensation 101, but it is surprising how many employers do not stick to this process.   Having a proper procedure in place following an injury prevents a delay. And any delay affects wage payments, medical coverage, and a return to work. Take time to have a step by step process and mock injuries, so that when an actual injury occurs, everyone knows exactly what to do. (WCxKit)
 
 
Summary
Peak work seasons elevate the exposure on many levels. With proper hiring practices, solid orientation, thorough training, proactive supervision, and fast accident response, and reporting everyone knows how to respond to an injury in the workplace. It sounds simple, but practice makes perfect. Do not wait until an injury happens to figure out how to handle it.  


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 website 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. See www.LowerWC.com for more information. Contact: RShafer@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com.
 


Our WORKERS COMP BOOK: 
www.wcmanual.com

WORK COMP CALCULATOR: www.LowerWC.com/calculator.php
 
Do not use this information without independent verification. All state laws vary. You should consult with your insurance broker or agent about workers comp issues.
 
©2011 Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law. If you would like permission to reprint this material, contact Info@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com.

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