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December 2015

Afore The Eve

Larochelle Posted by Greg LaRochelle

In the calm of a crystal clear December night, he hugged his wife and with a twinkle in his eye above rosy red cheeks whispered “I’ll be home soon.” Confident in his safe return, she smiled proudly, knowing he would go about his magical work with safety as a top priority. With children and the young at heart excitedly counting on his arrival, he had provisioned well for the frosty flight. He would not disappoint.

Planning began months earlier when the long and lazy days of summer afforded him more reading time. There was an educational website he favored, whether on his office computer or outdoors under a shade tree with cell phone in hand. This site, the MEMIC Safety Net, is a blog page with a vast archive of health and safety articles penned by a crew of passionate safety experts.

From Allan’s Determining Your Power Grip Size, he‘d fashioned a thicker handhold along the reins by adding a strip of foam padding. Eric’s entry Holiday Stress Shouldn’t Compromise Order Fulfillment Safety reminded him of the need to deliver on time while keeping safety in mind. He invested in a new pair of shiny black boots with high traction outsoles after reading Pete’s blog What’s On Your Feet This Winter. From Tonya’s article about April being distracted driving month he would keep his phone nestled deep in the front right pocket of his white fur trimmed red jacket at all times when traveling. Every item on board was carefully loaded with attention to size and stability from viewing Scott’s How Much Is Too Much to Lift? post. Henry’s blog Machine Guards and the Cost of Cutting Corners prompted him to inspect his ride’s undercarriage for any nip points that needed guarding. In the biting cold, he’d be sure to give a little extra to the caregivers, having read Beth’s article titled The Challenge for Home Health Care. There were many more he read, from a number of contributors, that inspired him to make several safety improvements, all leading up to this wondrous night.

Grasping the reins, he glanced over his shoulder to see his loving wife give a farewell wave silhouetted in the light of the grand doorway. He paused for a moment reflecting on the safety knowledge he had acquired and put to good use; his heart swelled with joy. And in a booming voice that pierced the still night air he, at long last, gave his anxious team the command to take flight.

MEMIC’s loss control staff wishes everyone a safe and joyful holiday season.

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How Good Is Your Safety Training Program?

Jayson-Herbert Posted by Jayson Hebert

The purpose of safety training is to provide the knowledge necessary to perform a job safely. Training is one method employers use to assist employees in making safe decisions, improve safety culture, and remain compliant with OSHA and other federal standards. Effective safety training includes general safety topics, regulatory requirements, and site specific information. Additionally, some topics are required annually, some only upon hire, and some when job tasks change.

Determining what training is required can be challenging. Identifying the exposures located within your workplace is a good place to start. The list below provides required training topics as well as the required training frequency:

  • Fire Safety and Evacuation Plans: Upon hire; Workplace changes
  • Occupational Noise Exposure (Hearing Protection): Upon hire; Annual
  • Personal Protective Equipment (PPE): Upon hire; Workplace changes
  • Chemical and Hazardous Materials Safety: Upon hire; Periodic; Workplace changes
  • Bloodborne Pathogens: Upon hire; Annual
  • Ladder Safety: Upon hire; Change in equipment
  • Respiratory Protection: Upon hire; Annual; New hazard
  • Powered Industrial Trucks: Upon hire; Every 3 years
  • Control of Hazardous Energy (Lockout/Tagout): Upon hire; Periodic
  • Portable Fire Extinguishers: Upon hire; Annual
  • Equipment and Machinery Specific Training: Upon hire; Workplace changes
  • Workplace Hazards: Upon hire; New hazards

The above list is not an all inclusive list of training requirements. OSHA may require additional training dependent upon specific job tasks or unique work environments. Also, note that additional training requirements adopted by OSHA become mandatory, such as the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) or the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA).

In order to assist businesses, OSHA recently released publication 2254 entitled “Training Requirements in OSHA Standards”. This publication includes the training requirements for industries including 29 CFR 1910 (General Industry) and 29 CFR 1926 (Construction) as well as other specialty industries.

MEMIC’s website also offers resources to assist policyholders with developing a safety training plan. Check out the MEMIC Safety Director which offers tools such as a training matrix for both construction and general industry. Next, the video lending library offers hundreds of safety related topics. Lastly, MEMIC policyholders have free access to Business Legal Reports, a site that contains a wealth of information on all safety topics including handouts, policy templates, and even audio presentations. This is a fantastic resource for establishing safety programs or providing training.


Behavior Based Safety: What Is It And Why Could It Be Right For My Organization?

Mike Havel 2013 Posted by Mike Havel, MS, CSP

Behavior based safety, also known as observational safety, is a theory and process that has been around for a number of years, during which it has been addressed by many of the forward thinking minds of the safety industry. These individuals have looked at methods for organizations to influence the behavioral aspect of workplace safety.

Here are three questions to ask about the safety program at your organization:

  1. Do you have your OSHA compliance down to the point where your workplace safety inspections are very good or excellent?
  2. Do your incident investigations regularly identify the employee as the major source of an incident?
  3. Do you feel your organization is lucky or good?

As an organization's safety program matures to the point where they have very good or excellent compliance with OSHA and other standards, they often look for further opportunities to advance workplace safety; to incorporate best practices to become a 'world class' safety organization. Behavior based safety is one of those opportunities to look at what your employees are actually doing when working within your workplace and how those actions contribute to the overall safety of your organization.

When we look at an incident, we look at the usual suspects: the employee and the work environment. Typically, compliance based safety addresses the work environment aspect of the incident. Was machine guarding in place? Was the employee properly trained? Was there adequate lockout tagout protection?

The element that is often overlooked is the detailed assessment of what the employee behaviors were and how the surrounding system contributed to influencing those behaviors. Have you seen 'inattention to surroundings' or 'employee was taking a short cut' or 'employee failed to follow procedures' as some of the root causes identified during an incident investigation? If 'yes', then your organization might be interested in exploring a behavior based safety system for your organization.

For the last question, organizations may have very few or no workplace incidents, but do they have sufficient knowledge and systems in place to monitor the activities of their employees and know for certain that the behaviors taking place contribute to the overall safety of the workplace? If 'no' then exploring a behavior based safety system may be in your best interests.

Register to attend MEMIC's webinar on Thursday, December 10th at 10:00 a.m. (EST) entitled "Behavior Based Safety - and is it for me?".  This one-hour webinar will cover the background of what is Behavior Based Safety, can it work for your organization, and what is needed to do/have in place to begin a behavior based safety system.

Tis' The Season To Get Injured, Fa la la la, la la la la!

Grant Posted by Eric Grant, CSP

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) says there were approximately 15,000 injuries involving holiday decorating in November and December, 2012. This translates to 250 injuries per day during the holiday season!

Of these 15,000 emergency room visits, 34% involved falls, while 11% were the results of lacerations, and another 10% stemmed from strained backs.

In New England, the month of December often means the beginning of “slip in the parking lot season.” These are workers who park their car at 7 am and do not make it into the building. Employers should develop a plan to maintain parking lots and walkways. Consider freeze/thaw cycles that occur early in the season.

The office cubicle decorating contest promotes seasonal creativity and competition can get fierce. Problems arise when we stand on our office chair, desktop, or cardboard box to reach those hard to get to places. Even the storage room company ladder or step-stool, in good condition and set-up properly, can expose employees to hazards not common in the office environment. Inspect and utilize these tools properly. Avoid standing on your chair, especially with rolling casters!

Holiday decorations look great but they can be highly flammable. According to the CPSC, from 2009-2011, tree and candle fires caused 80 deaths, 700 injuries, and $324 million in property loss. Consider the power source used to light up your office. Extension cords with exposed wires and missing ground prongs should be inspected and removed from service.

Increased holiday demands in the workplace means seasonal hiring. According to the Insurance Journal, in the retail sector alone, 2013 saw 786,200 workers hired for the holiday season. All workers experience workplace stress, increased physical demand, fatigue, and behavioral issues. Add this to the personal stress we feel during the holiday season and the odds of workplace injuries increase. Unsafe behaviors, not unsafe conditions, make up nearly 80% of workplace injuries. Focus on these behaviors along with your compliance prevention strategies.

Policyholders can visit the MEMIC Safety Director to obtain prevention resources on Slips, Trips, Falls, Electrical, Fire, and Ladder Safety. For additional training, review MEMIC’s archived webinars such as Order Fulfillment Safety, Slips, Trips, and Falls, and Winter Driving.

This is a magical time of the year, but it can also be a stressful time. Let’s not make it a season to remember the time you fell off of your desk putting up decorations!

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