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June 2009

Complacency

Can complacency affect workplace safety?  Do you know what complacency is?  Too busy at work; too set in your ways; too comfortable in the status quo to make any changes. Sound familiar?  Perhaps you are complacent and should reevaluate your motivation, especially if you are in a safety sensitive position. 

Webster’s Dictionary defines complacency as, “self-satisfaction especially when accompanied by unawareness of actual dangers or deficiencies.” 

We, as humans, are creatures of habit.  We are uncomfortable with change and we like some predictability in our lives.  It’s our nature and it’s all well and good, but it can lead to problems, especially for workplace safety.  Complacency lulls us into a false sense of security.  If we have never been hurt by something, we tend to assume after a while that it will never hurt us. 

Step back and take a look around your workplace and consider the following:

  • Are all the appropriate safety systems in place? 
  • Is regular safety training taking place? 
  • Are there safety goals that everyone is aware of and a plan in place to reach them? 
  • Is someone assigned to regularly inspect the workplace for hazards? 
  • Are supervisors held accountable for the safety of their employees? 

If you answer “no” to any of the above, perhaps complacency is setting in and some improvements should be made.  Safety is a continual challenge.  An old aviation saying applies, “Aviation,  in itself,  is not inherently dangerous. But to an even greater degree than the sea, it is terribly unforgiving of any carelessness, incapacity or neglect.”  

Safety is manageable--shake off complacency and find ways to keep yourself and fellow workers safer, on and off the job.   


Why Establish a Return to Work Policy?

Employers of all sizes need to pay attention to safety and the cost of workplace accidents, as well as their bottom line. While accident prevention is the best way to reduce overall injury costs, an effective Return to Work (RTW) Program is the best way to manage the cost of claims that do occur.

The longer an employee is away from the workplace due to injury, the higher your claim cost will be. Additionally, you will incur indirect costs associated with lost productivity, overtime, decreased morale, and the costs of hiring and training a new employee if you must replace the injured employee.

The essence of the RTW program is early assistance in helping injured employees return to work as soon as possible. Research posted by the New York Workers’ Compensation Board has shown that there is only a 50% chance that an injured employee will return to work after a six month absence and only a 25% chance following a one-year absence.

Early outreach and assistance allow the injured employee to maintain a positive connection to the workplace, and can alleviate fears, concerns and frustrations experienced by an employee following a workplace injury.


Thinking Outside of the Box- MEMIC Comp Stars

In early June, MEMIC held its Annual Meeting where we recognized 11 of more than 20,000 policyholders for outstanding performance in their workers' compensation programs.

One of the recognized policyholders was Cary Medical Center, located in Caribou, Maine. Cary Medical Center has invested great time and effort into creating a total “No Lift” hospital in all departments, from the direct care floor to housekeeping. “We bought pumps just to pump out the mop buckets for our housekeeping staff, so they’re not lifting that heavy bucket and dumping it,” says Kevin Goodine, Workers’ Comp Coordinator at Cary Medical Center.

 Mopbucket_pump

That’s definitely thinking outside of the box! How can you become a Comp Star?


Solving the Blind Spot in the Car: Side Mirror Adjustments

Some of the most serious, yet preventable auto accidents occur because of blind spots in side mirrors while driving. Earlier this week, we posted an article about compensating for the naturally occurring blind spot in your eye, by turning your head to ensure you view everything.  A fix has been found for side mirrors, as well, by an engineer named George Platter. Platter has presented method at the prestigious Society of Automotive Engineers  and is backed by the National Safety Council (NSC). To their surprise, the NSC tested Platter’s theory and found that it really works. So, here’s how it works:

  1. Place your head against the driver’s side window. Turn the mirror so that you can see the side of your car.
  2. Move to the center of the vehicle and turn the passenger side mirror so you can see the side of your car.
  3. That's it. You’re not going to see your car in either side mirror—it’s okay.

When a car leaves your line of vision in the rearview mirror, it will show up instantly in either of your side mirrors now. You won’t have a blind spot, so you won’t have to wonder where that car behind you has gone. More importantly, cars will instantly show up in your side mirrors. All three mirrors work in harmony with one another, and the blind spot has been eliminated!

Give this a try and let us know what you think!


What’s in your blind spot?

Did you know that the human eye contains a “blind spot?”  This occurs because there is a portion of the retina (the light sensing area of your eye that processes the images we see) that contains no light sensitive cells.  This spot is located where the optic nerve attaches to the retina. 

So why should we care about this trivia question?  Well, this physiological limitation can be a serious hazard, especially when driving a vehicle.  We normally do not notice the blind spot because we are using both eyes.  What lies in the blind spot of one eye is visible by the other eye, so we are not aware of its presence. 

However, when driving it is important to see all the traffic around us, right?  If we simply glance around using eye movement instead of moving our head carefully to scan around, we may fall prey to the blind spot.  Often we see objects with only one eye at a time because vision is blocked to the other eye.  The bridge of our nose, windshield posts, and other obstructions could block the vision of one eye, but not the other.  If an important object, say the car on the left in the photo below, is seen with only one eye due to a glance, it may enter the blind spot of the eye and totally disappear from sight. 

As the weather warms up and bicyclists, motorcycles, walkers and runners emerge from their hibernation, we need to be very aware of our blind spot. Take the “blind spot test” below to see for yourself (this can be done easier if you print the photo, but it can be done using your computer monitor).  Then remember to scan completely when driving… driving blind is not the way to go!

1. Close your left eye while holding this photo about a foot away from your face.
2. Focus your right eye on the car on the left.
3. Slowly move the paper towards your face; the car on the right will disappear as it enters the blind spot of the right eye.  Move it closer and it will reappear!
 Blind Spot Picture