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February 2015

I Want My PPE

Greg LaRochelle 2014 Posted by Greg LaRochelle

Fans of the British rock band Dire Straits are familiar with the falsetto vocal introduction “I want my MTV” sung by Sting on their 1985 hit song “Money for Nothing”. Now imagine a different version whereby Sting chants “I want my PPE” as a call to workers to remember to protect themselves when faced with job hazards that engineering and administrative measures can’t effectively control. The title of the song might then be changed to “Protection for Nothing” from the standpoint of OSHA’s position on making personal protective equipment available to employees.

As specifically stated in the payment for protective equipment section of OSHA’s Personal Protective Equipment standard, 29 CFR 1910.132, “Except as provided by paragraphs (h)(2) through (h)(6) of this section, the protective equipment, including personal protective equipment (PPE), used to comply with this part, shall be provided by the employer at no cost to employees.” The exceptions to employer payment include non-specialty safety-toe protective footwear, non-specialty prescription safety eyewear, shoes or boots with built-in metatarsal protection, logging boots, everyday clothing, and ordinary clothing used solely for protection from weather. The standard also states the employer must pay for replacement PPE, except when the employee lost or intentionally damaged the PPE. Employees can use PPE they own, if adequate, with the employer not obligated to reimburse the employee for this equipment.

So as a new, fast-paced workday begins and workers prepare for the job tasks at hand, they should pause for a moment to ensure they’re adequately safeguarded from hazards, along the lines of “I want my PPE”. Where the protective equipment is furnished by the employer, at no charge, the employee’s responsibility is to inspect it, clean it, store it properly, and most importantly wear it!

For more information on personal protective equipment including a PPE hazard evaluation form and sample program, check out the resources within the MEMIC Safety Director.

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Preparing Your New Hires For Work

Make Havel 2013 Posted by Mike Havel, MS, CSP

When you started work at your company what was your first impression? Was it good? What was good about it? What do your employees think? Was safety a part of that first impression? Was it positive?

When we think of new hire orientations, the perception is often that it’s a necessary formality of completing required paperwork and getting the employee through the required safety training so that they can get to the job they were hired to do. That perception is often supported by the level of effort put into the orientations. What do you remember about your orientation? Was it positive?

Studies have identified that the more engaging a new hire orientation is, the more influential and effective they are at preventing injuries to workers in their first 6 months of work. Companies like Toyota, Nissan, and BMW have recognized the value in more engaging programs as their workers are better prepared, both mentally and physically, for the tasks at hand. They are also better able to properly recognize workplace hazards associated with their job duties, are more inclined to report unsafe conditions, and are less likely to take risks and shortcuts which could lead to injury.

But what makes for an engaging orientation? People. Your skilled, knowledgeable, and positive communicating supervisors and line employees, to be specific. These are employees who can be enlisted to be actively engaged in the process of getting a new hire up to speed on the operations and positive attitudes towards safety at your organization. Establishing programs such as peer-mentor relationships and regular employee to supervisor feedback help to ensure that your new hire is progressing on the right track, is aware of and has regular reinforcement of safety policies and procedures, and has the opportunity to provide feedback on their progress.

For more information on this topic, MEMIC will be providing a free webinar to customers on February 26 from 10-11 am. The webinar is entitled “Improving Your New Hire Orientations” and will discuss the advantages of various new hire orientation programs and the effect they can have in reducing the frequency or potential of injuries to your employees in the first 6 months of their employment.

To register for this free webinar or to find further information MEMIC workshops and webinars, please go to

Frankly, My Dear, I Don't Give A Damn!

Klatt Randy Posted by:  Randy Klatt

"Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn!" We all recognize this famous quote from the 1939 movie “Gone with the Wind”. In fact, according to the American Film Institute, this is the most famous movie quote of all time. Movies are entertainment and escapism, but can also be factual or mimic our daily lives. As we all strive to improve workplace safety and injury prevention, perhaps we can learn a few things from our favorite movies. Here are a few of AFI’s top 100 quotes and how they might, or might not, help us with workplace safety.

  • “I’m gonna make him an offer he can’t refuse.” The Godfather, 1972. Marlon Brando had different intentions, but when it comes to hiring new personnel we should make sure that the offer comes in conjunction with a pre-placement physical. Hire only those who can safely fulfill the written job description, including the physical tasks.
  • "Go ahead, make my day.” Sudden Impact, 1983. Dirty Harry certainly made our day with his multiple films, but he had a rather abrupt style. Turn this around with a positive slant; make your employees feel cared about. Create a safety culture that includes positive feedback, progressive coaching, and rewards for positive safety performance. A “thank you” or a simple hand shake can certainly make someone’s day special.
  • “Show me the money!” Jerry Maguire, 1996. When it comes to workplace safety we all know that injuries are very expensive. Companies simply can’t afford the cost of injury. Consider how much it would cost to replace a valuable worker, provide additional training, pay overtime, incur increased insurance costs, or pay for damaged equipment. This is all in addition to the most critical cost; the human suffering that results from injury.
  • “Badges? We ain’t got no badges! We don’t need no badges! I don’t have to show you any stinking badges!”  The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, 1948. Hopefully you won’t run into Gold Hat (the bandit played by Alfonso Bedoya whose quote this is) at your workplace, but the unfortunate truth is that workplace violence is a safety concern for a lot of businesses. Review your security plan as you develop contingencies to deal with emergencies of all types.
  • “My mama always said life was like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.” Forrest Gump, 1994. Well, the same can be said of workplace injuries unless you have a safety plan in place. Any plan includes initial employee training, written safety policies and procedures, on-going training, employee development, discipline policies, evaluation processes, and a Return-To-Work program. Make sure your company has these elements in place and is sending a consistent safety message. Otherwise you never know what you’re gonna get!
  • “Well, here’s another nice mess you’ve gotten me into!” Into the Dessert, 1933 (Oliver Hardy and Stan Laurel).  The importance of housekeeping can’t be overstated. Thousands of injuries are caused each year by employee falls. Often poor housekeeping is partially to blame; slip and trip hazards can be prevalent at construction sites, manufacturing facilities, and even office environments. Pick up after yourselves and incorporate a periodic site inspection checklist procedure. Don’t make your employees work in a mess!
  • “What we’ve got here is failure to communicate.” Cool Hand Luke, 1967.  Communication is vital to all businesses for a lot of reasons. But safety programs will never succeed without clear and concise direction from all levels. Expectations around safety must be communicated at all levels, from the newest employee to the CEO. This includes follow up and feedback. Without this in place your employees feel like they are on a long trip without a map. They will try their best, but the results are often less than desired, and they may end up hurting themselves or others.

The list of movie quotes is endless, just like workplace hazards. Keep a vigilant eye on each other, the site conditions, work procedures, and ongoing safety efforts. Foster a positive safety culture that will make people feel better about their workplace. Keep them safe and healthy so they can enjoy a movie tonight with their family!

Head over to the Safety Director for safety tips and resources that can have an immediate impact on your business climate.  This could reduce the chances you’ll hear, “Houston, we have a problem.” Apollo 13, 1995. 

Staying Safe Shoveling Snow

Henry Reynolds 2012 Posted by Henry Reynolds

As most of you know, a large portion of the U.S. has been experiencing a tremendous amount of snow so far this winter. The MEMIC office in Tampa, FL might be an exception to this, but the rest of the country has been battling the white stuff on a regular basis. As we struggle to clean walkways, driveways, loading docks and roadways it would be appropriate to review the applicable safety measures.

Each winter MEMIC has posted blogs on this subject; check out previous advice by following this link to Winter Safety within the Safety Net Library. This information is important; according to the US Product Safety Commission, in 2013:

  • Approximately 28,000 people were treated in hospital emergency rooms for injuries that happened while shoveling or manually removing ice and snow.
  • More than 6000 people were injured using snow blowers.

The most common injuries associated with snow removal include sprains and strains, particularly in the back and shoulders, as well as lacerations and finger amputations. Here are some general tips for safe snow clearing from the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons:

  • Dress appropriately. Light, layered, water-repellent clothing provides both ventilation and insulation. It is also important to wear the appropriate head covering and thick warm socks. Choose gloves or mittens that will keep your hands warm, dry and blister free. Avoid falls by wearing boots that have slip-resistant soles.
  • Start Early. Try to clear snow early and often--particularly if a large (which we have had) snowfall is expected. It is always best to begin shoveling/Snowblowing when there is just a light covering of snow on the ground. Staring early will give you the best chance possible to avoid the potential injuries that come with moving packed, heavy snow.
  • Make sure you can see. Be sure you can fully see the area that you are shoveling/snowblowing. Do not let a scarf or hat block your vision. Watch for ice patches or uneven surfaces. Try to remember prior to the storm where the icy spots or hazards were prior to snow removal.
  • Check with your doctor if you have any medical problems. Clearing snow places a great deal of stress on the heart--so if you have a medical condition or do not exercise regularly, you should speak with your doctor before shoveling or snowblowing. You may also wish to consider hiring someone to remove the snow, rather than doing it yourself.

Additional resources are available from OSHA and The National Safety Council. Lastly, according to Punxsutawney Phil, we have at least six more weeks of winter, so we’d better prepare and handle all that snow safely!

What Is This Herd Immunity?

Tony Jones 2014 Posted by: Anthony Jones, RN, COHN

Three times in the last year I have heard the term “Herd Immunity.” The first was during my physical, in the history taking portion. The second time was during treatment of a minor eye infection. The third was in an article I was studying for continuing education in occupational health. The rather odd sounding phrase prompted a little intellectual curiosity. “What is this herd immunity?”

“Herd Immunity; A Rough Guide” lists three uses for the term “herd immunity.” Used to:

  1. Describe the portion of “immune” individuals within a population.
  2. Threshold portion of immune individuals that should lead to a decline in incidence of infection.
  3. Risk of infection among susceptible individuals in a population is reduced by the presence and proximity of immune individuals.

As I understand it, the basic theory of “herd immunity” is this: the incidence of a disease decreases over time because more people are immune to the disease. If a large percentage of the population is immune to a disease, the risk of transmitting the disease declines because less people are becoming sick. The cycle of disease transmission is theoretically broken.

Vaccination programs obviously provide an important element in the battle against the spread of communicable disease. The subject gets complex as more people elect to forgo immunizations, or have never had the opportunity for vaccinations.

I found this reference to a CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) report in a “Health Day” article listing the percentage of adults in the general population that have received vaccinations for specific diseases. The adult/vaccination rates included:

  1. Pneumonia: Overall, 20 percent of high-risk adults received this vaccination in 2012, about the same number as in 2011. Among adults 65 and older, 60 percent were vaccinated overall.
  2. Tetanus: About 64 percent of adults aged 19 to 64 received some tetanus-containing vaccine in the previous 10 years -- about the same as the previous year.
  3. Tdap: Coverage against diphtheria, pertussis and tetanus increased modestly to nearly 16 percent, but in homes with infants under 1 year, coverage was almost 26 percent, similar to the prior year.
  4. Hepatitis A: Only 12 percent of adults aged 19 to 49 had full hepatitis A vaccination coverage (at least two doses) in 2012.
  5. Hepatitis B: About 35 percent of U.S. adults aged 19 to 49 had the recommended three or more doses of hepatitis B vaccine, much the same as in 2011.
  6. Herpes Zoster: Twenty percent of adults age 60 and older received this vaccine to protect against shingles, up from fewer than 16 percent in 2011.
  7. HPV: Almost 35 percent of women aged 19 to 26 received one or more doses of this vaccine, which protects against cervical cancer, up from about 30 percent the year before. About 2 percent of males in this age group got the vaccine, similar to the 2011 number.

What’s the implication for businesses? Sick workers can’t work. An outbreak of some of the diseases listed above can spread rapidly through a largely unprotected work force. Healthcare workers and other employees with direct contact with the very young, elderly and critically sick persons can have a dramatic impact on outcomes.

Are your workers aware of the health effects of some of these diseases? Are workers making use of medical resources available to them? Have vaccines been included in the medical benefits package? What’s your immunological status?

This CDC Quiz can be a tool to help an adult determine what vaccines are recommended based upon one’s answers.

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Preparing For 2015 Training? Don't Forget MEMIC's Free Video Lending Library!

Henry Reynolds 2012 Posted by:  Henry Reynolds, OHST

As you prepare for your 2015 training needs, remember that MEMIC offers a free Video Lending Library to policyholders. Our video library houses hundreds of DVDs and streaming video titles. You may now view videos prior to ordering, and a free facilitator's guide and quiz comes with most video titles.

You are welcome to reserve a total of five DVD and/or streaming videos at one time. The rental process is easy and can be completed with a few simple steps:

DVD Rentals (30 day rental)

  1. Choose a DVD from MEMIC's Video Lending Library Catalog.
  2. Fill out the online order form.
  3. An email will be sent to you confirming your order has been placed.
  4. The DVD(s) and facilitator's guide will be shipped within three business days.
  5. The only cost incurred will be shipping the DVD back to Summit Training Source.

Streaming Videos (15 day rental)

  1. Choose a streaming video from MEMIC's Video Lending Library Catalog.
  2. Fill out the online order form.
  3. An email will be sent to you confirming your order has been placed.
  4. Summit Training Source will provide a link with user name and password for you to view your streaming video. You will also be able to download the facilitator guide and quiz.

Please direct any additional questions regarding this free service to Christine Collomy, LC Service Coordinator at 800.660.1306 or