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February 2016

January 2016

Safety Wars

The Galactic Empire has its priorities all wrong, and I'm not just talking about its proclivity for the dark side. With needlessly hazardous and inefficient workplaces, it’s no wonder they haven’t been able to bring order to the galaxy or quash rebellions. Not only do they repeatedly build astronomically (pun intended) expensive Death Stars with the same fatal flaws, they seem to be completely blind to the simplest practical engineering controls like guard rails.

Just take a look at what the average Stormtrooper is wearing, you couldn’t have a better example of an over reliance on personal protective equipment (PPE) when anyone who follows this blog knows PPE is always a last resort. In a galaxy fraught with peril, you can't always eliminate a hazard but engineering and administrative controls can go a long way in creating a safe work environment where employees feel valued and aren't just waiting to become "famous singers" as the joke goes in Family Guy. Safety shouldn't be a battle between employees and employers.

It's clear the Galactic Empire needs to change its company culture, but does yours? Maybe the choking hazard in your workplace isn't named Darth Vader, but workplace violence isn't something limited to a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away. Ask yourself, “Where does safety rank at my company?” and "Who are the safety leaders in my company?"

You have the makings of an epic failure if safety is viewed as the responsibility of just one person or as a separate compliance task rather than safety being the responsibility of everyone to integrate into every task. Hazards arise when complacency sets in and personal responsibility is abdicated. As Obi-Wan Kenobi said, "Who's more foolish? The fool or the fool who follows him?"

Safety training is not something to be done once upon hire and forgotten, it is an ongoing process that continuously improves the workforce and workplace. As Yoda said, "If you end your training now–if you choose the quick and easy path, as Vader did–you will become an agent of evil." And an agent for unnecessary harm to yourself and your coworkers.


Top Seven Safety Net Posts of 2015

Last year over thirty thousand readers enjoyed our Safety Net posts. In order to provide the most helpful information, we look to see what interests our readers the most and found these seven posts to be the most viewed in 2015:

How Much Is Too Much To Lift? - Scott Valorose says it's not simply a question of strength but what our capacity is over time without undue fatigue or injury. The answer depends on several factors such as the size of the load, the load’s center, its stability, or whether it has handles or not (Valorose also recommends specific manual lifting limits).

I Want My PPE - Greg LaRochelle says that although the employer is responsible for providing most personal protective equipment (PPE) to the employee at no cost (Greg also lists the exceptions), it is still the employee’s responsibility to inspect it, clean it, store it properly, and most importantly wear it.

Frankly, My Dear, I Don't Give A Damn! - Randy Klatt offers a fun look at what some of the most famous movie quotes can teach us about workplace safety.

Preventing Heat Stress in the Workplace - Tonya Hawker describes the most common types of heat-related illnesses and how to avoid their contributing factors.

Three Tips for Using a Mouse - Scott Valorose's tips on proper location and use of your computer mouse can eliminate common contributors to aches and pains.

Why the Scaleni Deserve a Good Stretch - With today's prevalence of computer and cell phone use leading to a forward head posture, Greg LaRochelle describes how neck stretches can help avoid thoracic outlet syndrome with pain exhibited in the hand, forearm, upper arm, or pectoral region. The symptoms of pain in the hand can be similar to that of carpal tunnel syndrome with aching, burning, numbness, and a pins and needles sensation or paresthesia.

Tis' The Season To Get Injured - Eric Grant tells us why the holidays can be such a dangerous time.

Thank you for your readership and interest in workplace safety. MEMIC will continue to assist your efforts in 2016 with many more informative and entertaining tips regarding health and safety.


Safety Third?

Koch Posted by Peter Koch

I was recently watching an old episode of the Discovery Channel’s “Dirty Jobs.” The episode title was “Safety Third.” I was intrigued.

The official network blurb said: "In a thoughtful look back at his most challenging and hazardous apprenticeships, Mike makes a practical case for safety and reaffirms the critical role of individual responsibility in a dangerous world... Safety considerations must always be present, but that doesn't mean they will always be first."

In the show, Mike goes on to explain, "...when you say 'Safety First,' and you say it over and over and over, you create the sense of complacency among your employees, along with the belief that... allows them to assume that somebody else cares more about their own well-being than they do. Then you abdicate personal responsibility, and you ultimately send a counter-intuitive message."

As a safety professional, I always expect safety to be a priority, but have found that for many people the safety priority is trumped by job completion. Or, in an effort to keep safety first, responsibility falls to a specific person or position. However well intentioned, either can create disparity between the responsible and culpable.

So ask yourself, “Where does safety rank at my company?” Is it even in the top three?

Consider:

  1. Is it specific to the current risks, jobs, and worker’s skill sets?
  2. Who delivers the message? Is it only coming from who is responsible for safety, or from those who are culpable for the job completion?
  3. Is safety something separate and seen as a compliance task, or is it indistinguishable from each and every job?
  4. Do your workers demonstrate personal responsibility? Do they balance safety, quality, and productivity, or does one element continually win out over the others?

Don’t make safety a “Dirty Job” or a dirty word, but keep it third. Not your third priority, but as one of the three equal parts of the workplace performance triangle - Quality, Productivity, and Safety.

Check out Mike Rowe’s website for interesting workplace information. For more injury prevention information from MEMIC look to our website, workshops, webinars, and video lending library.

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