Supervisory

A New Year's Resolution we can all benefit from... Improve your Safety Program

EricGrant Posted by Eric Grant


As we begin 2013, if you are like most people, you have probably made a New Year’s Resolution.   Consider the same for your business and more specifically, your injury prevention program.

Consider these ideas or brainstorm with your safety committee and/or leadership team:

  • Focus on company specific exposures - Work with your agent to review injury claims and loss runs.   Refer to your OSHA 300 log to determine areas of opportunity.
  • Develop a formal safety training agenda - OSHA compliance is a start but should not be the finish. Remember 15% of claims are associated with unsafe conditions, but 85% are caused by unsafe behaviors.
  • Conduct quality Event Investigations - Determine root cause and take corrective actions. Remember, look for the Facts, not Fault and operational involvement is key to an effective program. (Visit the MEMIC Safety Director for program materials)
  • Utilize your resources - Internal (supervisors/experienced workers, safety committee, leadership, HR) and external (MEMIC loss control, state consultation services, private consultants, your insurance agency). 
  • Recognize and reward positive behaviors - Consider implementing a formal program that reinforces positive actions taken by employees at all levels.
  • Pre-plan activities with a focus on safety & injury prevention - Have you considered implementing a Job Hazard Analysis Program? This may be the year to get it done!
  • Provide leadership accountability training - Integrate safety with business goals.  Management commitment is one of the foundations of a comprehensive health and safety program.
  • Explore ways to increase employee involvement - Examples include safety committees, routine self-inspections, participation in training agendas, and company sponsored activities/programs.
  • Implement a formal routine self-inspection program - What does OSHA want from businesses? Identify hazards and correct them! Get out there and inspect your workplace and implement follow up corrective actions. 

Reduce injury claim frequency and severity by implementing these nine objectives and communicating them as part of a formal SMART Goal.  To learn more about SMART goals, check out a 2008 Smart Goal posting from the Safety Net, or search online, keyword- SMART Goal (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Timely).

Have a Happy, and SAFE, New Year!


Transportation Leads the Way

Klatt Randy Posted by Randy Klatt

In 2010, 4690 U.S. workers died while on the job.  Although this represents a 3% increase from 2009, both years continue an overall downward trend in workplace deaths.  For example, in 1994 there were 6632 workers killed.  This trend is good news for all of us, yet over 13 people still die each day at work.   

Take a look at the pie chart below to see the manner in which fatal work injuries occurred.  With this knowledge you may be able to address specific issues at your workplace in order to mitigate the hazards.  It’s pretty easy to see what is killing most people:  40% of fatalities were transportation incidents.      
Transportation Graph
Source:  U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, 2012

Ask yourself if your employees drive either company cars, vans, trucks, heavy machinery, or their own personal vehicles during the course of their jobs.  If the answer is “yes” then a fleet plan should be developed to ensure the safe operation and condition of all vehicles.  There are many elements to a comprehensive fleet plan and each organization’s would differ slightly.  However, they should all include policies regarding driver’s license checks, vehicle inspections, maintenance programs, traffic law responsibilities, and driver safety training and education. 

Check out the Safety Director Resource Library at MEMIC.com for fleet plan tools and resources.  Get started today and ensure all employees Arrive Alive each and every day.       

 


Do Your Employees Work on "Live" Electrical Parts?

Eric Grant Posted by Eric Grant

National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 70E 2009 Updates & 2012 Edition

Few topics in the safety training world generate as much confusion and emotion from trainers and trainees as the arc flash protection requirements of NFPA 70E. I personally have found myself in a room full of engaged participants as they learn the requirements of NFPA 70E, often for the first time.  I remember the "buzz" that was created from the 2009 update.  Safety Professionals were told OSHA would increase inspections/citations regarding NFPA 70E, so the requests for program development, implementation, and training began to rise dramatically. NFPA 70E has seen eight (8) updates since 1979 with the 9th update planned for 2012.

The following is a summary of the Report on Proposals for NFPA 70E.  You can download a copy of this report (244 pages) for free and/or purchase the NFPA Standards by visiting www.nfpa.org.

  • Addition of the word "inspection".  This requires protective measures for inspection duties along with installation, demolition, operations, and maintenance.
  • Arc Rated (AR) will replace the term Flame Resistant (FR).  Not all FR clothing has been tested for electrical arcs.
  • Retraining shall be provided at least every three years.
  • A new section that defines excavation work.
  • Tables that clarify AC & DC systems.
  • Revisions to the current equipment labeling requirements and specific requirements for the labels themselves.
  • Hearing protection requirements.
  • Adding an Arc Flash Boundary to an existing table.
  • Additional PPE requirements (i.e., a sock hood when working in a Hazard/Risk Category 2 area.)

While writing this blog, an internet search produced multiple articles on NFPA 70E, the 2009 update, and the proposed update for the 2012.  For more information about NFPA 70E visit the MEMIC Safety Director at www.memic.com .

Have a great 2012!


Hang Up and Drive

Klatt Randy Posted by Randy Klatt

On Tuesday December 13, 2011, the National Transportation Safety Board recommended a nationwide ban on all portable electronic devices (PED’s) for all motorists.  The NTSB came to its recommendation after investigating a multi-vehicle crash in Gray Summit, MO that involved a driver who was texting. The crash, which occurred on Aug. 5, 2010, killed two people and injured 38 including children in two school buses.  The National Safety Council (NSC) made this recommendation many months ago and was quick to endorse this NTSB vote.

It is clear that drivers are frequently distracted by electronic devices.  Naturally this creates a safety concern not just for the distracted driver, but for everyone else on the road, in cross walks, and in construction work zones.  The NSC estimates 1.3 million crashes, or 23 percent of all crashes, involve distracted drivers using cell phones. “Quantifying crashes and fatalities involving cell phone use while driving is challenging due to several factors such as a driver’s unwillingness to admit the behavior and lack of witnesses. Additionally, cell phone use currently is not consistently captured on police reports. We are able to develop an estimate of crashes based on risk and exposure, but the problem could be much larger than we estimate,” says Janet Froetscher, NSC President and CEO. 

The links below offer the latest information concerning this topic.  If your employees drive as part of their work routine, then it is time to review your fleet plan and consider eliminating this risk.   

National Safety Council

National Transportation Safety Board Fact Sheet

Cellphone Driving Ban: Good Idea?


Crossing the T’s and Dotting the I’s in OSHA Training for General Industry

LaRochelle Greg 2 Posted by Greg LaRochelle

Figuring out the “who, what, and when” on OSHA safety training requirements can be a challenge for employers, especially for small businesses that typically don’t have a full-time safety person on staff.  General industry employers are broadly defined as places of business that is static in nature and not including the agriculture, construction, and maritime industries.  Failure to provide workers with adequate safety training can result in violation of Part 1910 standards with monetary penalty and, worse yet, could lead to catastrophic injury. 

Sorting out the “who” for safety training is fairly straightforward with regard to employees who can be affected by exposure to hazards on the job.  The “what” and the “when” can be a little more difficult to decipher.  As an aid to help employers cross the T’s and dot the I’s with OSHA training requirements, MEMIC has created a table compiling a list of standard titles that indicate when training is required along with a reference to the specific standard’s section on training.  Here's a sample with a partial list: OSHA-GI-training-requiremen 

For the more complete listing as well as more information on training, MEMIC customers can log onto the MEMIC Safety Director resource library at http://www.memicsafety.com/digital_library/  Type the key word "training" into the search field.  Currently, there are 45 results stemming from this word query so a little scrolling is needed.  You can refine the search to narrow the results, but you may be interested in perusing all the “training” hits just to see what’s available.  So take advantage and get a jump start on your safety training and compliance needs.

 


Hiring Practices That Make Smart “Cents” for Safety

LaRochelle Greg 2 Posted by Greg LaRochelle

As the sluggish economy begins to heat up rendering a more favorable business climate, cost conscious employers looking to grow their workforce need to be even more vigilant to their hiring practices.  The search for a suitable fit can be an exhaustive exercise for a small business owner as well as for an HR professional in a large corporation.  Finding and hiring the right person demands that safety be at the forefront of the decision-making process.  Here’s why:

According to the Business & Legal Reports safety website, workplace injury statistics reveal that new employees are 5 times more likely to experience a lost-time injury in the first month of employment compared to the experienced worker.  Additionally, studies show that 40 percent of all workers injured on the job have been at it less than a year.  

 Given these facts, ensuring the safety of the “newbie” is of utmost importance, particularly where a business’s greatest asset is its people.  Equally, smart hiring practices and new employee safety orientation translate to preservation of the bottom line.

Proactive loss control measures in hiring should include:

  • Post-offer, pre-placement physical exams, especially for physically demanding job positions.
  • Written job descriptions that detail the physical aspect of the work tasks. 
  • New employee orientation and training on the equipment and tools associated with the job, emergency evacuation routes, location of first-aid kits, MSDSs, and items such as fire extinguishers. 

Most occupational health providers offer pre-placement physicals for a nominal fee. These are designed to determine the functional capacity of the individual.  The written job description stipulating physical demands can also be used in determining light duty activities for an injured employee with temporary work restrictions. 

Use of an orientation checklist while showing the new hire the safety features of the workplace can serve as documentation of the facility safety tour. 

As a timesaver, MEMIC has assembled a number of training checklists including an employee safety orientation form in the on-line MEMIC Safety Director resource library.  (Note: MEMIC Safety Director requires user registration and is exclusively for MEMIC customers.) For additional resources on hiring practices, click on the Human Resources link under the bold heading Action Plans on the Safety Director’s home page. 


Does my company need a written safety and health program?

Dodge John 
Posted by John Dodge

This week a business owner asked me if he needed a formal safety program. His business employed 10 people and has been successful in preventing workplace injuries for several years. However, he felt some level of uncertainty about his informal safety and health efforts.

Following a brief discussion and a work site tour, it was evident that his organization had elements of a formal safety and health program: An organized workplace, well maintained tools and equipment, elimination of hazardous tasks, and availability of personal protective equipment.

I suspect that many business owners find themselves in a similar situation. They feel that they are doing enough to provide a safe workplace and if they have few injuries, why have a formal program?

I also suspect that some businesses owners feel as if their luck has changed- the informal safety efforts that have worked in the past are no longer working.

If you wonder why you need a formal safety and health program, start by asking these questions:

  1. How do my employees know that I expect them to work safely?
  2. How do I address unsafe work conditions before an accident or near miss?
  3. Does management understand that they are accountable for safe work conditions?
  4. How are employees trained to perform their job?
  5. Do my employees participate in the safety and health process?
  6. Am I compliant with regulatory safety and health requirements?

If you don’t have answers to these questions, a written safety and health policy will provide a definite course of action and a schedule of activities. There are various guidance documents available, but most will have these basic program elements:

  1. Management commitment and employee involvement
  2. Worksite analysis
  3. Hazard identification and control
  4. Employee training

To get started, I recommend MEMIC’s Seven Steps to a Safer Workplace guide. This document and other safety support materials are available on MEMIC’s Safety Director website.  You will quickly build a formal safety and health program and will eliminate any uncertainty about the effectiveness and consistency of your future safety efforts.   


Part 1: What Do I Really Need for a Respiratory Protection Program?

Posted by Donna Clendenning and Greg LaRochelle

So what’s OSHA’s stance on respiratory protection in the workplace? Does everyone need to have a program?  Does everyone need to wear respiratory protection?  The short answer is “no”. 

Now, here’s the longer answer. (And it’s worth reading because this standard is once again among the top five of OSHA’s most commonly cited standards.)

Whether you work in general industry, construction, or shipbuilding, OSHA’s Standard 29 CFR 1910.134, Respiratory Protection, is the first place to look to understand what the standard requires. Exceeding OSHA’s exposure limits where engineering controls are not feasible will dictate the required use of a respirator.  In this case, the general requirements for a respiratory protection program are the following:

Written Plan – Employers are required to have a written plan with the following elements along with having a named designated program administrator.

Medical Evaluation – A respirator, itself, can pose as a hazard due to the increased stress placed on the cardiopulmonary system.  A medical questionnaire form (Appendix C to the standard) needs to be completed by the employee with review by a licensed healthcare professional for determination of employee clearance for respirator use.  Oftentimes, this includes a pulmonary function exam conducted by the healthcare professional.

Respirator Selection – Respirators are selected based on the hazards that the employee may be exposed to while in the workplace.  The employer is responsible for identifying and evaluating respiratory hazards in the workplace to determine which type of respiratory protection is needed.  And, the employer is responsible for selecting respirators from a sufficient number of respirator models and sizes so that the respirator is acceptable to, and correctly fits, the user. Lastly, only NIOSH (National Institute of Occupational Safety & Health) certified respirators are to be used.


4,340

The national annual report on workplace deaths came out this week and it was reported as good news: 4,340 workers died on the job in the U.S. in 2009.

It's true that this number showed a 17 percent decrease in reported workplace deaths from 2008. So, in a sense, the news was good. But really? More than 4,000 people died at work in the United States last year? That's 4,340 tragedies. We can do better.

So, take a minute today to read the report and think for a minute: Could any have occurred in my workplace? What could I do to prevent it?

There's no good number when it comes to workplace deaths. But one thing is clear: Fewer than 4,340 is better.


Young workers, old story: Too many injuries

The special health section in Monday's Boston Globe featured a cover story about an issue important to every parent and, hopefully, every employer: workplace safety for young workers, particularly teenagers.

We know that inexperienced workers are twice as likely to be hurt at work as experienced employees. And, of course, by their very nature, teenagers are inexperienced. Couple that with the fact that they are often hired to do jobs with inherent danger and you have a potential tragedy.

What's the answer? Well, in part, it's training and supervision. And yet, this is reported in Elizabeth Cooney's story from the Globe:

When researchers from the Teens at Work Project interviewed 208 teens under age 18 who had been injured at work from 2003 through 2007, about half said they had no safety training. About 15 percent said there was no supervisor on site when they were hurt. Almost a quarter said they had no work permit.

This is inexcusable. If you have teen workers, make sure they get the training they need. And if you're a parent of a teen worker, ask them about safety. Have they been trained? Is someone supervising them when they are engaged in potentially dangerous tasks?

Work teaches lots of valuable lessons, but if the lesson comes from a workplace injury, its price is too high.