Author Archives: [email protected] (jlaws)

Drowsy Driving Prevention Week and Our Duty to Safety

Drowsy Driving Prevention Week and Our Duty to SafetyWe all know that drinking and driving or texting and driving can result in fatalities, but what about driving while tired? You might be surprised to learn that drowsy driving is the cause of 20 percent of all motor-vehicle crashes each year, and according to the National Sleep Foundation (NSF). In fact, each year in the United States more than 6,400 deaths and 50,000 serious injuries result from drowsy drivers.What better time to talk about the dangers of sleepy drivers than during Drowsy Driving Prevention Week (Nov. 6-13) as the NSF aims to raise awareness of the dangers of driving while sleep-deprived, and to ultimately minimize sleep-deprived driving.While driving under the influence is taken very seriously in the United States and often results in temporary if not permanent license suspension, it's unacceptable that so many deaths and often life-changing injuries are the result of completely avoidable circumstances.Public Enemy Number One: Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA)The occasional drowsy driver is scary enough, but what's especially concerning is that 12 percent of the U.S. population suffers from a common sleep disorder called obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). Sleep apnea is one of the most significant threats to Americans' safety on the road -- whether by train, bus, or car -- because it especially common in truckers, bus drivers, and train conductors. For example, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) estimates that nearly 30 percent of commercial truck drivers suffer from OSA.Individuals suffering from OSA experience intermittent airway blockages that cause shortened breaths or pauses in breathing during sleep for seconds or minutes. The result is body movements, gasps or snoring, and potentially waking up throughout the night. Needless to say, this prevents restful sleep -- whether the individual affected realizes it or not. Often, individuals suffering from OSA aren't even aware they have the condition, and go through life thinking it's normal to feel tired, irritable, and just "off."That's an especially dangerous consideration of OSA -- how often it is undetected. Last year, Frost & Sullivan and the American Academy of Sleep Medicine estimated that of the 29.4 million Americans suffering from OSA, 23.5 million (80 percent) were undiagnosed. Pair that with the statistic that drivers with untreated OSA are five times more likely to be involved in preventable crashes, and the consequences can have enormous consequences -- both in terms of human lives and financial ramifications. Safety decision makers must understand what OSA is costing their businesses.How Much OSA is Costing YouOutside of transportation specifically, tired workers mean lost productivity and are estimated to cost employers up to $3,100 per employee each year. But fatigued drivers are especially costly -- they cause more collisions, which lead to higher insurance premiums, unexpected repair costs, lost time on the road, and potentially lawsuits -- all which subsequently result in less revenue. According to a University of California study, OSA-related motor-vehicle accidents can cost about $16 billion in damage in a single year. The good news: That same study indicates that testing and treating all drivers suffering from OSA would reduce collision costs by about $12 billion and save almost 1,000 lives each year.Making OSA Less Obstructive to Your BusinessIf you're a decision maker in occupational safety looking to ensure the safety and well-being of your employees, as well as the people around them, there are a few simple, affordable, and relatively quick steps you can take.First, understand the issue and the research available. The American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine indicates that every $1.00 spent on treating sleep apnea saves $3.49 (nearly 250 percent) in collision claims, and that treating sleep apnea saves about $6,000 per driver per year in medical claims, in addition to improving driver retention by as much as 55 percent. If you could invest in safety with a return-on-investment (ROI) of about 250 percent and additional savings and employee retention, wouldn't you?Second, evaluate your options. The cost of diagnosis has decreased exponentially over the years. The days of $3,000 sleep lab tests requiring in-person visits and overnight stays are over. At-home tests now cost as little as $250 and are just as effective. As a bonus, testing at home means that drivers don't have to take off of work to schedule lab visits and can do it at a time that is convenient to them.Third, support your employees in treatment. Consider offering your employees complimentary treatment or more flexible working schedules as they decide the treatment options that work best for them. Let them know that treating their OSA isn't just good for the business's bottom line, but for their personal and physical well-being, as well. The most common form of treatment is a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) mask, which can take some getting used to but is extremely effective. According to experts in the field, CPAP is often 100 percent effective in treating OSA among patients complying with treatment.Wake UpFor all intents and purposes, a sleep-deprived driver is an unsafe driver. Much like drunk drivers, sleep-deprived drivers cause thousands of deaths each year. According to the National Safety Council (NSC), losing just two hours of sleep is similar to drinking three beers, and being awake for over 20 hours is equivalent to being legally drunk. For just $250, employers can test for OSA and identify and treat employees at risk. The cost of testing and treatment can easily be paid for in the resulting savings on collision costs, insurance claims, and lost time on the road. As we sometimes forget in our never-ending quests to improve the bottom line: Proactive is almost always less costly than reactive.Michael Trufant is the Business Unit Manager - Industrial Markets for Aeroflow Healthcare. For more information on industrial OSA treatment programs, visit Posted on Nov 08, 2017Let's block ads! (Why?)

OSHA and Workplace Violence

OSHA and Workplace ViolenceThe shooting earlier in the year in Florida, where a lone gunman killed five people and then himself at an Orlando awning factory, and the recent tragedy in Maryland, where an employee of a granite company shot five people, three of them fatally, are sad reminders that workplace violence remains a serious issue for businesses.OSHA estimates that approximately 2 million American workers are victims of workplace violence each year and that it can strike anywhere, at any time. Although there are no specific OSHA standards for workplace violence, ignoring signs and failing to abate recognized hazards including workplace violence could lead to a violation of Section 5(a)(1), the general duty clause, of the Occupational Safety and Health Act. Specifically, an employer that has experienced acts of workplace violence or becomes aware of threats or other indicators showing the potential for workplace violence would be on notice for risk of workplace violence and should implement a workplace violence prevention program including engineering controls, administrative controls, and training, as it generally should for any other kind of recognized hazard in the workplace. Indeed, some states such as New York already require certain employers to have a written workplace violence program including conducting a hazard assessment.In many of these tragedies, there may have been visible workplace violence signs or other indicators. Indeed, police have said that the gunman in Maryland had a prior history of workplace violence.OSHA has issued a Fact Sheet on Workplace Violence that serves as a helpful guide in preparing and implementing a workplace violence policy which is available at: surprisingly, OSHA recommends that employers adopt a zero-tolerance workplace violence program that should be incorporated into an employee handbook or manual of standard operating procedures or similar document. Proactive suggestions include:Providing safety education for employeesSecuring the workplace, when appropriate, with video surveillance, extra lighting, and alarm systems, etc.Providing drop safes to limit cash on handEquipping field staff with cell phones and other communication devicesInstructing employees not to enter any locations where they feel unsafe or to use a "buddy" systemIn addition, OSHA has developed other more specific workplace violence guidelines for high-risk industries such as health care, taxi drivers, and late-night retail establishments. Of course, OSHA is not the only legal issue employers need to be aware of when dealing with workplace violence. For example, the Americans with Disabilities Act may need to be considered; it generally protects individuals with disabilities or perceived disabilities (both physical and mental), and some states, like New York, protect domestic violence victims against employment discrimination.An effective workplace violence program should address how employees can protect themselves and what employers should do following an incident of workplace violence. Like any other safety and health policy, the specific operational facts will dictate what is necessary. By conducting an appropriate workplace violence assessment, an employer will be in a much better position to determine what protocols it should have in place and to provide training for such as an active shooter scenario. In addressing workplace violence, the cliché "hope for the best and prepare for the worst" is ultimately the best strategy.John S. Ho, chair of the law firm Cozen O'Connor's OSHA Practice and a former OSHA prosecutor with the DOL Office of the Solicitor, can be reached at 212-883-4927 or [email protected] Posted on Oct 23, 2017Let's block ads! (Why?)

Gauging the Impact of Schedule Consistency Laws

Gauging the Impact of Schedule Consistency LawsOregon Gov. Kate Brown recently signed a new scheduling law that requires retail, restaurant, and hospitality companies with 100+ workers to provide an estimated work schedule of hours and on-call shifts at the time of hire.Schedule predictability requirements for hourly workers are starting to become commonplace; will employers change their recruiting and hiring processes as a result, and can we expect any push-back from these kinds of employers?Mike Zorn, vice president of Workplace Strategy at hourly employee engagement and scheduling suite WorkJam, offers insight into what these companies will need to do moving forward under these laws. (The company is based in Montreal with its U.S. headquarters located in Cincinnati.)1. What are the details of Oregon's new fair scheduling law?Most of Oregon's "Fair Work Week law" (Senate Bill 828) seeks to provide more consistent schedules and an improved work-life balance for hourly employees. While this specific law only impacts the retail, food service, and hospitality sectors, this is relevant to all industries, as experts predict that fair scheduling laws for all organizations with hourly workers could arise in the coming months and years.Beginning in July 2018, the law will require companies within these three industries with a workforce of 500 or greater worldwide to inform employees of their schedules at least one week in advance. This will extend to two weeks' advance notice after 2020. Employers will be required to ensure a proper amount of rest time for employees between shifts and compensate them for last-minute schedule changes. Additionally, the law also notes that employers may run a voluntary standby list, where employees can elect to take on shifts at the last minute if they so choose.As a result, many of the on-call scheduling practices that are so common in demand-volatile industries will likely cease in Oregon and employers will need to find other ways to fulfill fluctuating customer needs.2. Do you think that laws like these are indicative of an emerging national trend that will eventually affect other industries with hourly workers? If so, which industries will laws like these likely affect next?It's difficult to predict where fair work week laws like this will spread to next. While major cities like New York and Washington, D.C., have implemented similar laws, Oregon is the first to do this on a statewide level. Trends say that it's likely that other states may adopt similar laws or individual facets of Oregon's laws in the near future.While Oregon's law specifically impacts retail, food service and hospitality industries, it's likely that other similar laws in the future would impact any industry with hourly workers, expanding to home health care, manufacturing, and more. Industries that have historically dealt with unpredictable demand will likely need to make the most adjustments to their analytics and scheduling practices in order to avoid understaffing or overstaffing.3. How can employers ensure that they're complying with the laws? What will be some of their biggest challenges in doing so?Of course, the main challenge of these laws will be to avoid understaffing or overstaffing without being able to send employees home early or turn to on-call scheduling for backup reinforcements. Employers with unpredictable demand will now need to more accurately analyze historical consumer behavior and control customer demand as much as possible. They'll also need to analyze employee availability at least two to three weeks in advance of the first day of the work week.Additionally, hourly employers will need to remain diligent in their scheduling practices in order to avoid legal issues and ensure compliance with the new laws. One solution for this is digital workplace solutions. These platforms allow employees to input their own availability and pick up or swap shifts through mobile applications, and also provide the capability to implement mobile training programs and create a more agile workforce. This way, employers have a well-rounded workforce with a number of different skills to help ensure employees can fill in gaps across departments or locations during a shift.4. Even with these challenges in mind, how can employers use fair work week laws to their advantage to benefit their employees?While adapting to fair scheduling laws often aren't easy (especially for organizations with traditional methods of scheduling employees), they present a number of unique opportunities and benefits for employers. With predictable schedules in place, organizations will likely see increased employee well-being, lower turnover rates, and improved recruitment when this is used as a tool attract prospective employees. Employers will certainly need to do their due diligence to ensure the fair work week law's requirements are met. However, in the long run, both employers and employees can benefit from increased engagement and well-being when they are better able to balance work and home life with predictable schedules.Posted on Oct 16, 2017Let's block ads! (Why?)

8 Tips for Managing Stress and Anxiety in the Workplace

8 Tips for Managing Stress and Anxiety in the WorkplaceThe simple act of living is often stressful. Even happy times--from putting on a party or getting ready to go out, to big events like getting married--can bring on bouts of stress and anxiety. While these feelings can be particularly overwhelming at work, keep in mind that you hold the key to managing stress and anxiety not only at work, but in all areas of your life. When you make self-care a priority, you take control of your life.When you look at managing stress and anxiety from the view of taking care of yourself, it shifts the emphasis back to you--where it should rightly be. You have the power to make good choices, such as eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, and getting enough sleep, so that you feel well and healthy. It is tempting when stress hits to turn to alcohol, drugs, sugar, or junk food to help yourself cope, but this often makes the situation worse. Focusing on yourself and your own personal needs not only reduces stress, but can helpyou to keep chronic illnesses, such as high blood pressure and heart disease, at bay. Here are several tips that employees can implement at and outside of the workplace to help practice self-care and reduce stress.Tip 1: Begin self-care at homeMake sure you get enough sleep. The actual amount differs from person to person, so pay attention to how much sleep you need to feel rested. Research suggests that it is a good idea to avoid screens (phones, tablets, and laptops), difficult or emotional reading, and vigorous exercise before bed, but everyone is different and if you need the TV to fall asleep, that's fine as long as it isn't a disruption. If you are having serious sleep problems, consult a professional.Before you leave for work, give yourself time to prepare nutritional and balanced snacks and a healthy lunch. Worrying about what to eat can cause stress and anxiety. You are less likely to hit the vending machines or fast food places if you come to work prepared.Tip 2: While at work, be mindful of your physical environmentTake some time to figure out what you need in order to create a space that is conducive to a nice working environment. If your company allows it, personalize your work area with items that are meaningful to you, such as favorite artwork, photos, or plants. Arrange furniture in a way that makes you comfortable and allows for easy access to files or reference materials that you use frequently. Place items that you need to do your job, such as pens, note pads or staplers, within easy reach. This cuts down on those little frustrations and annoyances that can build up into stress over time. Some companies don't allow you to rearrange furniture or decorate your work space. If this is the case, at least keep ergonomics in mind. Maintaining the correct physical alignment throughout the day--head over shoulders, waist, and hips—will reduce stress on your back. Adjust your chair for good lumbar support and add small pillows if you need them. Paying attention to how your body feels in the work environment can go a long way to helping reduce stress and anxiety.Tip 3: Take breaks Even with perfect posture, sitting for too long a time isn't good. Get up and walk around or stretch every half hour or so to keep the blood moving. Even if you exercise regularly, prolonged sitting is not good for the heart, so build activity into your work day. Get up and make copies, refill office supplies, or visit the water cooler. Rather than emailing a co-worker, get up and walk over to personally interact. Movement is important for reducing stress and anxiety, but so is stillness. Don't underestimate the power of closing your eyes and breathing. Deep breathing increases the oxygen in the blood, improves mental clarity, relaxes muscles, and lowers blood pressure. Slowly inhale on a count of four, hold for a count of eight, and exhale for a count of four. A few minutes of deep breathing will clear the mind and help you refocus your energy.Tip 4: Lighten up on caffeineA trip to the coffee pot can be a good way to take a break from sitting at the computer, but consuming too much caffeine comes with its own issues. While research suggests some therapeutic effect from moderate coffee intake, caffeine is a stimulant and can be addictive. Excessive consumption is also linked to many chronic conditions, such as high blood pressure and headaches. Moderation is the key here. If you are experiencing the jitters, try cutting down on the number of cups you drink a day or changing to decaffeinated coffee or herbal tea. Adding sugar to your cup can affect your energy level and bring on that afternoon crash, so it is a good idea to limit sweeteners, too.Tip 5: Frame your work relationships in a positive lightWhatever steps you choose to take to manage workplace stress and anxiety, your attitude makes a big difference. A positive outlook on life and work can reduce stress across the board and you always have a choice to view a situation in a positive or negative light. Yet even with a positive attitude, conflicts will still arise. When this happens, don't respond immediately; take a few deep breaths and calm down. If you are feeling overwhelmed, changing your physical environment, such as taking a walk or going to the gym, can help. Once you have calmed down, process what happened and try to understand the other person’s perspective. See it through their eyes. Acknowledge your feelings as valid and see their feelings' validity, as well. Tip 6: Take time offNo matter how positive your outlook, stepping away from the job from time to time is important. Many people are reluctant to take time off and are afraid that it will make them appear less dedicated to their work, but people who take vacations come back relaxed and are more productive. Taking a break to do something you enjoy can give you new perspective and energy. A break doesn't have to be a trip to the Bahamas to be effective. Taking short breaks during the work day helps you come back more refreshed and awake. Go outside and walk to a restaurant instead of eating lunch at your desk. Volunteer to make a delivery to a branch office, or take a bit of personal time and run errands. Taking a few minutes away from work can also help you fight off illnesses that can lead to work backups and more stress.Tip 7: Take part in company sponsored wellness eventsExercise is a great way to reduce stress and anxiety, and many companies offer programs and incentives to help you develop and maintain a healthy lifestyle. Check with human resources and see if your employer has company-wide fitness, exercise, or weight-loss challenges. There may be a meditation room or yoga classes at lunch time or after work. If your company doesn't offer these programs, consider starting some yourself. They are very popular right now, and some employers offer rewards for this kind of initiative, such as discounts on insurance premiums or increases in coverage.Tip 8: Be creativeWhat you do in your free time can have an important effect on the amount of stress in your life. Hobbies and classes can help you relax during your down time and make you more effective at work. Pick up hobbies that inspire you, such as drawing and painting, photography, ceramics, or music. Classes involving movement like dance, yoga, meditation, or tai chi contribute to better mental and physical health by strengthening mind, body, and spirit. When you feel relaxed and balanced, it helps reduce overall stress both at home and in the workplace. It’s impossible to avoid stress completely, but by listening to your body's needs you can create a more positive working environment. By paying attention to diet and exercise, taking breaks, and including creative outlets, you can keep stress and anxiety from taking over your workplace.Gregory Lane, DACM, LAc, is the Director of Clinical Services at the Pacific College of Oriental Medicine.Posted on Sep 12, 2017Let's block ads! (Why?)

Six Personalities Walked Into a Risk Assessment . . . Optimizing Evaluations by Addressing Personality Types

Six Personalities Walked Into a Risk Assessment . . . Optimizing Evaluations by Addressing Personality TypesSome believe that they can be one person at work and another person outside of work. In fact, our personalities are key parts of our work life that when properly addressed can actually lead to process optimization, especially during risk assessments. A risk assessor who is able to identify different personality types and appropriately adjust the process for the various personality types can actually achieve more comprehensive and correct assessments. Facilitators need to identify and adjust to the different personalities in the room to ensure a successful facilitation. Over the years, we've encountered a variety of personality types from introverts to extroverts and everything in between, but here are a few personalities we’ve encountered consistently and how we’ve learned to successfully incorporate them into the process.The Boss: Not necessarily the boss, but someone who likes to take charge. The danger is that others might be afraid to speak up if someone uses the facilitation as their bully pulpit. Facilitators must rein in the "boss" by explaining the ground rules of the facilitation and, if necessary, pulling the person aside during a break to explain what needs to be accomplished and how the team must work together to get there.The Analyst: Thoroughness is the prerequisite of any risk assessment. However, if there's one person who overanalyzes and second-guesses seemingly everything, it will slow down the facilitation and, potentially, disengage other participants. A good facilitator will note some of the "analyst's" concerns and get the meeting back on track. Those worries can then be addressed at a separate meeting with the "analyst."The Mistaken: Make no mistake about it: Mistakes happen. It's an unavoidable thing, but the "mistaken" won't have any of it and will insist that, if things are run properly, then there's no need to worry about mistakes. As a facilitator, it's important to get the "mistaken" to understand that mistakes are unavoidable and explain that documenting potential for mistakes is not an indictment on anyone's abilities, its just a way of doing a thorough facilitation to mitigate risk.The Gladiators: Some co-workers just can't get along, whether it's in a meeting, working on a project, or participating in a risk facilitation. Any infighting can slow down the process and shift the rest of the team's focus away from the task at hand. A good facilitator will be able to control the meeting and firmly yet politely let the "gladiators" know that their interactions are counterproductive and putting the company at risk of missing potential risks.The Techie: We love our gadgets. From smartphones to tablets to any number of electronic gizmos, today's technology follows us wherever we go. The problem is some "techies" can't focus on the risk assessment because they're too busy checking emails, texting, web surfing, or even playing games. Internet access is important during a facilitation, but if attention is diverted to devices for other reasons, then it's best to restrict access or take the facilitation off site and explain that electronics should be used for facilitation purposes only except during scheduled breaks.The Timid: Some people are shy; it's just their personality, and there's nothing wrong with that. However, if someone is too afraid to speak up during a risk assessment, it could cause a major risk to go undocumented. Every member of the facilitation team is there for a reason—to share their input so that risks get addressed. A strong facilitator will be able to allay the "timid" participant's concerns and encourage the person to participate. Knowing that personality and predictability go hand in hand, a savvy risk facilitator will be able to guide your company through a risk assessment successfully, regardless of who's in the room with them.As Sphera’s founding president and CEO, Paul Marushka is responsible for providing overall strategic leadership for the company in developing, directing and implementing go-to-market, service, product and operational plans. He has grown businesses by bringing innovative solutions to market in leveraging software, analytics and technology services. Prior to joining Sphera, he served as president of Marsh ClearSight, a business unit of Marsh & McLennan and a leading provider of software, services, and analytics for enterprise risk management, safety and compliance management and claims administration. He also has held executive positions at software and data companies such as Fair Isaac Corporation (FICO) and CCC Information Services.During his career, Marushka has developed and launched a variety of software and analytics products recognized by the Gartner Group for their impact on the industry. He has authored numerous articles on the use of analytics and technology in decision-making and has spoken in a variety of forums including the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, the Gartner Technology Summit and the Risk and Insurance Management Society. He has a J.D. from the Northwestern University School of Law and an MBA and AB from the University of Chicago.Posted on Sep 07, 2017Let's block ads! (Why?)

The Need for Speed

The Need for SpeedIn this hurry-up world, life moves quickly. We find ourselves rushing to complete nearly every task. One dictionary definition of rushing is "to act swiftly with too little reflection." Another definition I've seen is "moving (mentally and/or physically) at a pace where you are not able to maintain control of hazard awareness – too fast for prevailing conditions." Moving at all due speed is commendable, but rushing can cause problems when we are not in full control of our actions.Those who seem to be in the greatest hurry are drivers on the highway. Out of curiosity, I decided to count the number of cars that passed me as I drove at the speed limit on a number of highways in Rhode Island and Massachusetts. I compiled data over a total of 361 miles, during trips of varying lengths. I counted 734 cars driving over the speed limit that passed me. It seems that many drivers don't realize that excessive speed is one of the top two causes of motor vehicle accidents, which claim more than 30,000 lives and injure more than 2 million each year.What can cause you to be rushed at work?Production deadlines in the production cycle when all of the delays that occur early in the process place undue pressure on the workers at the end of the cycleUnreasonable time constraintsTrying to do too many things at onceTrying to get the job done as quickly as possibleThere are plenty of times when you can also feel rushed off the job. You know the feeling!There are times when speed is highly desirable, as in competitive sports such as:Running trackA swim meetA tennis serve (first one, anyway)A pitcher's fastballDrag racingThere are, however, many more instances when competitors must balance speed with pace and efficiency, in order to maintain equipment, avoid accidents, and to not run out of steam in the long run, such as:Tour de FranceRunning a marathonPitching a complete baseball gameThe Daytona 500A tennis second serveConsequences of rushing are not often positive, including:Injuries, such as sprains/strains; slips, trips, and falls; and running into objectsErrors and mistakesDropped itemsLoss of focusFrustrationConfusionMissing something importantLooking for shortcutsSkipped stepsRushing reduces your margin for error. To stay in control, to work effectively, and to avoid accidents or ergonomic injuries, we need to be able to pace ourselves.What, then, is an optimum pace, at which a task can be completed safely? It varies with the task, ranging from the routine to emergency situations. Is faster safe? More productive? There needs to be a among between productivity, safety, and minimization of errors. Not that it seems to matter today, but the optimum fuel economy (in miles per gallon) on an automobile is attained somewhere around 55 miles per hour.Who sets speed limits when it comes to human activities?On a production line time study, professionals take into account variability in talents, operator comfort zones, and performance that improves with experience and repetition (time needs to be allowed in order to develop prowess with a job, along with recovery time for strenuous jobs) to optimize production rates. (I once toured a gun manufacturing plant. Watching a handgun being assembled, I asked the operator how long it took to become adept at assembling a gun. I was told that, as a trainee, it took a week to assemble a gun. As an experienced assembler, the task took a few hours.)Equipment manufacturers who specify how fast tools and machinery can operate safely without failure.Supervisors who want to get the work out at all costs.YOU need to recognize when you are losing control by moving too quickly.When rushed, can you be effective? Maybe. Will you make mistakes? Probably, due to increased stress and tension.Determining optimum speed is a balance between productivity and risk. Working up to speed while learning about and meeting challenges of the job as you becomes more experienced with an activity helps you to maximize your productivity. Trying to move beyond that point can only lead to errors, which can lead to accidents, injuries, or defective product.Keeping all these facts in mind, each activity must be evaluated based on balancing the requirements of the task and the capabilities of the individual performing the job. Keeping within reasonable and sustainable limits can maintain a working balance between productivity and safety.Joseph Werbicki is a Safety Consultant, Trainer, Author, and Lecturer with more than 25 years of teaching experience. He has served as chairman of the Board of the Massachusetts Safety Council and as president of the Safety Association of Rhode Island. He is the author and presenter of a comprehensive safety training course, "Safety: Core to Edge." His articles have been published in Occupational Health & Safety, EHS Today, American Jewelry Manufacturer, Products Finishing, Metal Finishing, the Journal of the American Electroplaters' Society, and newsletters of the Boston, Springfield (MA), and Worcester (MA) ASSE chapters. Contact him at [email protected] on Sep 06, 2017Let's block ads! (Why?)

Growing Mobile Workforce Creates New Safety Challenges for Businesses

Growing Mobile Workforce Creates New Safety Challenges for BusinessesThe traditional business day is changing across many industries in the United States. People are no longer putting on suits, ties, jackets, and slacks to report into an office for an eight-hour workday at a desk. According to IDC Research, 72 percent of the U.S. workforce is expected to be made up of mobile workers by 2020. When employees are not operating in an office or controlled environment, it makes it more difficult for businesses to manage the risks those workers invariably encounter. Further, it becomes increasingly more difficult to know when a worker needs emergency assistance. This shift away from traditional workplace settings creates a need for companies to develop new safety protocols and invest in different technologies that secure the safety of mobile workers.While proper training in safety procedures remains crucial, providing mobile workers with the right tools to request and receive help in an emergency situation becomes more important and critical in avoiding negative outcomes. According to the Pew Research Center, approximately 95 percent of Americans now own a cell phone of some type, and more than one-third own a smartphone. While these devices provide many conveniences, in emergency situations they remain highly limited, especially in environments that have poor reception or that limit a user's ability to reach and operate the device.For example, a cell phone is not able to detect whether someone slipped and fell, caught a limb in a piece of machinery, or experienced one of the thousands of other emergencies that can occur on the job. With a cell phone, the user is still required to be conscious and within range of the phone to be able to make a call for help. In the case of mobile workers and lone workers, cell phones are not the most reliable or function-rich options for tracking and monitoring employee safety and health. Additionally, in the case where a lone worker is confronted by a hostile third party, the cell phone is the first item often taken so as to prevent a call for help.In emergency situations, there is a better solution than traditional cell phones or smartphones. These situations are good candidates for easily worn devices (i.e., wearables or wearable devices) that automatically report changes that could indicate an emergency, or a device that a worker could easily utilize to express the need for help without having to speak or make much of a movement.Already there are products such as smart hard hats, smart safety vests, smart eyewear, and even stick-on patches that can monitor everything from an employee's location to body temperature and positioning. These devices eliminate the need for a worker proactively to report an emergency but, like cell phones, they have their limitations, as well. For example, while the devices are able to transmit certain information about a situation to a manager or human resources department, they do not create a direct line of communication between the worker and responder. If verbal communication is possible in the emergency situation, the worker would still need to place a call on a phone.A better option would be Mobile Personal Emergency Response System (mPERS) devices similar to those used by seniors for years -- essentially, a help button that can be pressed after a fall to alert emergency responders that assistance is needed. These types of technologies have become more beneficial because they no longer require a base station device to place calls, limiting their range of use.Like other wearables, mPERS devices are small and lightweight. They provide state-of-the-art location technologies and also offer built-in fall advisory capabilities. Wearables with this type of functionality are able to detect horizontal and vertical movement, but they take safety a step further than simply reporting a fall on the job via a text message or red flag in a software system. mPERS devices also can eliminate the need for the worker to initiate a call for help. Instead, they can trigger one automatically. And cloud-based technologies make it possible for Central Stations to immediately respond to the call for help.Another benefit of mPERS devices over cell phones is long battery life. Unlike phones that sometimes have to be charged multiple times a day, mPERS devices have fewer functions and do not need to be fully functional at all times. They can be left off or essentially in a hibernation mode until the SOS button on the device is pressed. Once this action occurs, location information can be sent to a central reporting destination and an emergency call can be placed. This enables mPERS devices to run on a single charge between two and 30 days, depending upon the configuration and use of the device.Whatever wearable device makes the most sense for a particular company, the most important factor is that business owners and managers take advantage of these new technologies that could save lives and improve the safety and health of their lone worker, mobile employees.Chris Holbert is the CEO of SecuraTrac®. Founded in 2008 and based in Hermosa Beach, Calif., SecuraTrac develops, markets, and sells a suite of mobile safety solutions focused on improving senior and employee health and safety through mobile, location-based technology and state-of-the-art, cloud-based platforms.Posted on Sep 06, 2017Let's block ads! (Why?)

Six Steps to Prevent Lifting Injuries

Six Steps to Prevent Lifting InjuriesAccording to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 2.9 million injuries in 2015, with 3.5 percent of these injuries being in the construction industry. Construction work in general takes a heavy toll on the body. When you perform the same heavy lifting for several hours every day, you are putting a lot of strain on your body.The injuries may occur as random accidents like ignoring basic safety rules, such as failure to wear sturdy work boots, or even wearing uncomfortable low-resistance safety equipment. Fortunately, there are various ways to avert these painful injuries. If you are an employer, you need to take the necessary steps to ensure your employees are safe from lifting related injuries.Let's at the six steps to prevent injuries inflicted by lifting objects in the workplace.1. Restructure the Work Environment and Work TasksThis is one of the most effective ways to minimize lifting hazards in a construction site and prevent injuries. Namely, you need to take a keen look at lifting tasks and redesign them in a way that they are safer. For instance, you can redesign a task so your workers do a less-strenuous manual lifting. To achieve this, you need to implement some engineering controls, which include the following:Decreasing load size or weightAdjusting the work environment to ensure your employees can keep loads close to their body, between shoulder and knee height, without the need to twistInstalling load handling equipment and mechanical lifting aids; these may include hand trucks, conveyors, hoists, slides, and adjustable lift tables2. Implement Administrative and Work Practice ControlsWhen it comes to implementing administrative and work practice controls, you need to carefully select and train your employees, so they understand how to undertake lifting tasks in a safe manner.Let's look at some of the most significant elements of administrative and work practice controls:Conducting medical evaluation of a worker's lifting capabilitiesSetting size, weight, as well as frequency limits on manual lifting jobsOffering physical conditioning for workersConsidering the need to use multiple-person teams in the absence of mechanical lift aidsTraining workers to apply appropriate lifting techniques3. Path to Safe LiftingBefore you start lifting, evaluate the load in front of you. Something may be small, but that doesn't mean it is light. Push on the load lightly with your feet or hands; you can tell how heavy it is by how easy it moves.Make sure the load's weight is balanced as unbalanced loads may become loose when you're lifting, causing accidents. Assess you surrounding before lifting to ensure there is a clear path for you to carry your load. It's also imperative that you know where you're going to put your load down.It is advisable to lift a load using the straps or handles if they exist. Be sure to have an easy and tight grip before picking the load up. Use your legs, arms, and core body to lift; avoid using your back.Moreover, you should bend your knees to pick up a load, and not from your waist. Uphold good posture and avoid arching your back. Otherwise, you may suffer a back injury as a result of using the wrong muscles. Always use a ladder when lifting a load overhead to avoid a back injury.4. Stretch Your Muscles Before LiftingYou should do some simple stretches before you start lifting. This will warm up your muscles and enhance your ease of movements. Once you're done lifting, stretch some more to cool down and minimize potential stiffness. It's also advisable to stretch occasionally during the day.OSHA provides a guide for stretching and flexing as a preventive way to get workers ready for their daily lifting routines.5. Make Sure the Load Height is Within Your Safe Lifting ZoneWhere's the safe lifting zone? It is between your shoulders and knees. So if the load is below your knee level, you should bend your knees and lift it with the legs. If it is above your shoulders, consider using a ladder or a stool. If the load is too heavy, it is advisable to get help.6. Lifting Don'tsWhen lifting, you should avoid the following practices to prevent injuries:Lifting from the groundTwisting and liftingLifting a load across obstaclesLifting a heavy load with one handLifting while stretching to reach the loadLifting from an uncomfortable postureHolding your breath while liftingStruggling to recover a dropped loadFinal ThoughtsInjuries related to lifting continue to be a major occupational health and safety issue. There are various reasons why these injuries occur. Some of them are just random accidents, while others are a result of simple safety rules not being observed or implemented. Luckily, there are simple measures one can take to prevent these lifting-related injuries from happening. This article takes you through the most important steps. Follow them diligently, and you'll significantly reduce such injuries at your workplace.Amanda Wilks is a writer, researcher, and contributor to numerous prestigious online publications – see her Twitter feed for more details – who is interested not only in constructions and technological developments but also in the safe and humane way this progress occurs.Posted on Aug 31, 2017Let's block ads! (Why?)

Summer or Winter, Be Alert Near Water!

Summer or Winter, Be Alert Near Water!A few years ago, my daughter brought our two grandchildren, Owen, 3 and Lauren, 5 to swim at our house. Lauren had taken lessons and could swim the length of the pool without pushing off the side. Owen is learning and currently loves our spa, about 50 feet from the pool near our bedroom door. He does great in the spa and can easily stand up anywhere. The danger is when he is in the spa and Lauren in the pool, our attention is divided.In addition to being a professional safety speaker, I have been a trained lifeguard -- and there is only one safe approach. There must be someone watching each of the children. The illusion is you would hear something wrong and quickly run to their aid. At the very first National Safety Council Annual Congress I attended, I learned from a retired Coast Guard instructor that when people drown, they do so quietly.Think about it! What is someone who is drowning desperately trying to do? Get air! They are breathing in. Noise happens when you expel air and yell. Because they are out of breath, they often can't make noise. One of the original Beach Boys, Dennis Wilson, who was a surfer and great swimmer, drowned at the side of a boat, a few feet from other people at a party. No one saw him go under or heard him.I witnessed this at a Boy Scout camp with our troop. I was scoutmaster and serving as the lookout at a troop swim at a public lake. We had a buddy board with about 16 scouts in the water. The shore swimming area had about 150 people in or near the water. As I was watching our scouts, I noticed a father with a young daughter by his side. He was busy talking to a friend when the little girl slipped on the muddy bottom and went underwater. I stood up and noted her position. Of all the people at the beach, two people had seen her disappear. I headed to her location as did the other guy who saw her. We arrived about 20 seconds after she went under water. The other guy reached down into the water and pulled the little girl out. It was then the father's attention was attained. The father was upset at this guy for grabbing his daughter. I stepped in and explained she had been underwater for at least 20 seconds and this guy just saved her life. We were thanked and after a quick visual count of my scouts, I went back to my post.Remind your employees the only safe way for children to be in water is to have someone actually watching them. The time of year doesn't matter, as hot tubs and spas are in use year round.To see a video of how silently someone slips below the water unnoticed, go to: week after publishing the above article, I received a very emotional email in response. The author has given me permission to share it with you."Thanks for this very timely message, although a little late in my case. Unfortunately, I can endorse your topic from a very recent, painful experience. Less than 2 weeks ago, my almost 3 year-old grandson drowned at a family party in his parents' backyard pool. I was there but in the house at the time. My wife, with several adults, were sitting poolside watching the children (approximately 4 in the hot tub and another 4 in the pool). She watched our grandson jump into the hot tub and then climb back out, then turned to watch his older brother swim across the pool. She actually timed him at 1 minute, 15 seconds for the round-trip. When she looked back up to the hot tub and didn’t see our grandson, she asked if anyone had seen him and someone responded they thought he may have gone into the house. After confirming he wasn’t in the house, he was found floating face down in the hot tub. Three other children in the hot tub were unaware of his condition. It is estimated that less than 3-4 minutes elapsed between the time he was seen jumping into and climbing back out of the hot tub and when he was found unconscious. Although a nurse, a Navy rescue swimmer/paramedic and two other trained adults immediately administered CPR, it was to no avail. His heart was revived upon arriving at the hospital and he did some breathing assisted by a ventilator, but never regained consciousness and was finally taken off life support and allowed to pass quietly wrapped in the arms of his parents 3 days later."As you said, attention was divided between children, and the hot tub was raised above the level of the pool, so the adults sitting at pool level could not see the water surface of the hot tub. Even the other children in the hot tub with our grandson did not realize he was in trouble. It cannot be emphasized enough - adults must be actively watching from a vantage point where they can see the surface of the water, and cannot afford to be distracted by casual conversation or other things going on around them. Drowning happens quickly and silently. This message needs to get out to every adult. I have become a spokesman to spare others my family's grief."John Drebinger Jr., international safety speaker and best-selling author, has been speaking for 27 years and is known for injecting humor and passion to engage audiences to help people work safely. Drebinger developed the technique and book, Would You Watch Out For My Safety?®, which teaches people a comfortable way they can point out safety to others. His first book, Mastering Safety Communication, has communication tools and techniques to enhance safety programs and is recognized by members of the safety industry as an outstanding training resource. Its popularity has resulted in selling more than 80,000 copies.John Drebinger Jr., [email protected],, 209-745-9419, blog address: on Aug 25, 2017Let's block ads! (Why?)

Staying Safe When Working at Height: The Downfalls

Staying Safe When Working at Height: The DownfallsFalls from height have become one of the UK's biggest killers in workplace accidents, making up a quarter of all on-the-job deaths. Not only that, they account for more than 37,000 cases of non-fatal injuries, as well as being responsible for the biggest number of estimated working days lost when compared to any other accident.When you look at these statistics, it's not difficult to see that there is major room for improvement when it comes to the safety of height workers. Yet it isn't only construction workers who are a risk from falls; most industries involve some sort of working at height, whether it's in agriculture, manufacturing, or emergency services. So how can we stay safe while working at height?Carry Out Risk AssessmentsBy law, employers and self-employed contractors are responsible for assessing the proposed risks before work is carried out. A plan needs to be created in order for the work to be carried out safely and reliably by all involved parties.Implement measures in accordance to the result of the risk assessment, whether it includes safety nets, scaffold platforms, toeboards, or double guardrails. The objective is to ensure all work at height is properly planned, supervised and conducted safely.Check Equipment Before UseSurface and access equipment should be stable and secure, and able to comfortably support the worker’s weight plus that of any equipment. Whether it’s a combination ladder or mechanical access platform, it needs to be inspected for faults and damage before use in order to establish its safety.Regardless of whether it's raised 6 feet or 60 feet off the ground, defective equipment will result in serious injury, so regular assessments should be made a priority.Complete Health and Safety TrainingWorkers who are involved with regular at-height activities should undertake a working at height training course. The courses are specifically designed for a range of industries and ensure a competent level of ability to remain safe at height (in compliance with the Working at Height Regulations 2005). These can include, but are not limited to, ladder rescue, safety harness inspection, wind turbine training, and tower access.Consider Environmental Factors and Weather ConditionsSurfaces become slippery when wet, and even more so in icy conditions. Poor surface conditions are not always obvious, so be sure to evaluate the platform or walkway before use, especially for outdoor apparatus.Avoid working in bad weather conditions, including on windy days. A gust of wind can easily cause someone to lose his or her balance. This is also the case for nighttime working or poorly lit locations, where workers are at higher risk of missteps and trips. Adequate measures should be introduced to combat these conditions, with an option to completely avoid or delay the work until conditions are more suitable.Beware of Fragile SurfacesFragile surfaces are the leading cause of falls from height. Falls through weak roofs, roof lights, non-reinforced fiber cement sheets, corroded metal, glass, rotted chipboard, or unsecured slates/tiles are all common on construction sites, factories, warehouses, and farm buildings. If the fragile surface cannot be avoided, control the situation with a combination of fall restraints, safety nets, staging and guard rails, as well as fixing clear warning notices to the area. All workers, clients, designers, and contractors should be aware of fragile surfaces and treat the risk as a priority hazard.Get Support from Your ColleagueHaving a reliable colleague or team of people to support you while you carry out potentially hazardous work is an easy yet valuable method to reduce accidents. This may be an obvious one, but a lot of people think they're capable of handling all equipment and apparatus on their own.Extra support for ladders, holding tools, or sometimes just another set of eyes can all be the difference between a job done safely and a serious accident. Nevertheless, this should not be used as a main safety procedure, but as an added extra -- because human error and limited capability can be a prominent issue.Beth Meakin is a digital marketer writing on behalf of MRS Training & Rescue, trusted specialists in providing health, safety, and rescue training.Posted on Aug 23, 2017Let's block ads! (Why?)