Author Archives: [email protected] (jlaws)

7 Things You Need to Include in Your Anti-Violence Policy

7 Things You Need to Include in Your Anti-Violence Policy At a recent workshop with about two hundred and fifty attendees, representing approximately one hundred and ninety organizations, I performed an informal survey. I asked for a show of hands from those whose workplace had a written anti-bullying policy. Less than half of those in attendance raised their hands. I did the same for a workplace violence policy. The response was better than half, but still less than two-thirds. This tells me that more companies need to be aware of what needs to be included in an anti-violence policy in order to protect employees from aggressive, unwanted behavior at work. What to Include in an Anti-Violence PolicySome experts suggest that having both an anti-bullying policy and an anti-violence policy is unnecessary and redundant. This is not true. There will be some overlap between the two, especially on the issue of threatening behaviors, but there are fundamental differences that cannot be rolled into a single comprehensive policy. For instance, not all bullying involves threatening behaviors, and not all threats can be defined as simply bullying. In organizations that adopt both types of policies, care should be taken to ensure consistency between the two at points of overlap, especially in the area of threatening behaviors. Effective anti-violence policies will include the following seven elements: Acknowledge violence as an occupational safety and health hazard. Provide clear definitions of threatening behaviors that will be regarded as threatening violence and workplace violence, including unwanted physical contact, fighting, pushing, etc. Outline a reporting procedure to ensure the effectiveness of the policy. Describe consequences of violent behavior, including what leads to dismissal. Include an action plan for educating employees concerning the policy. Establish an Assessment Team, whose job it is to investigate reports of violent incidents or threats of violence in the workplace. Identify provisions for employees who are victims of violence to have access to critical incident stress debriefing resources.  An anti-violence policy that identifies and prohibits violence can make employees aware of their own behaviors that might be considered in violation of the policy. It also provides a specific framework for responding to violent incidents. What to Avoid in an Anti-Violence PolicySeveral elements are recommended for an anti-violence policy; conversely, it's a good idea to be wary of the following: Profiles of employees who might become violent. This kind of profiling is of less than little value. In addition, profiles that include race, sex or age may actually violate anti-discrimination laws. Use caution to identify behaviors and not the person. "Zero Tolerance" provisions. While it's optimal to have clear guidelines for prohibited behavior, there are several possible problems with a zero tolerance clause. An employee might violate progressive discipline practices in the workplace, and perhaps even provisions in workers' employment contracts.  Zero tolerance provisions can be abused by management. An example of abuse would be for a supervisor to intentionally provoke a worker into losing his or her temper in order to find grounds for dismissal. It leaves no room for any consideration of misinterpretation or cultural diversity. What might be seen as harmless and normal by people in some generational, religious, or ethnic groups could be received as a threat by members of other groups. Failure to include equal representation on Assessment Teams. Assessment Teams that are completely one-sided favoring members of management may suffer a credibility crisis among workers in the event of an incident involving any sort of controversy. To develop and implement an effective anti-violence policy, it is essential to consider what should not be included along with what to include. Worth the TimeWhile most agree about the importance developing an anti-violence policy, it does not seem like an urgent issue until an incident has occurred. It's true, developing and tailoring such policies to your workplace can be time-consuming and tedious, but it's far less trouble than dealing with even just one incident that might have been prevented.  Gary Sheely is an Associate of the Safety Institute and Tactical Confrontation Specialist focusing on workplace violence issues. He's published three books, including his latest one, "Safe at Work: How Smart Supervisors Reduce the Risk of Workplace Violence." He conducts training workshops and has been a keynote speaker across the United States. To learn more about Gary's programs, visit his page at safetyinstitute.com or email [email protected] Posted on Jan 23, 2019

Bullard Shoots for a Hard Hat Record

Bullard Shoots for a Hard Hat Record Bullard's celebration this year of the 100th anniversary of the Cynthiana, Ky.-based company's invention of the hard hat will include a unique and photogenic display on Jan. 12 -- during halftime of the Kentucky Wildcats men's basketball game in Lexington against Vanderbilt, Bullard will try to break a Guinness World Record. Bullard announced Jan. 9 that it is supplying 10,000 hard hats to fans attending the 7:30 p.m. game in order to break the record for the largest gathering of people wearing safety helmets at an event. A Guinness World Record representative will attend the game to verify the record-breaking event. Kentucky perennially is #1 or #2 in highest attendance for NCAA men's basketball teams. Average attendance for the team's 2018 home games at Rupp Arena was 21,874, tops in the country. Bullard invented the Hard Boiled® Hat in 1919. It supplies head protection products to workers worldwide; the full product line includes thermal imagers, fire and rescue helmets, head and face protection, and respiratory equipment. "We are proud of the role Bullard has played in revolutionizing the safety industry," said CEO Wells Bullard. "Our vision to advance human safety to enable long, healthy, productive lives through innovative solutions is our commitment to every customer who chooses a Bullard product. A huge thank you to our most valued customers, employees, distributors, and suppliers for supporting us throughout the years and in the future." Posted on Jan 11, 2019

The Safety-Wellness Contradiction: Obsessing Over French Fries While Ignoring Motorcycles

The Safety-Wellness Contradiction: Obsessing Over French Fries While Ignoring Motorcycles There isn't much that's off limits to the typical company wellness program. Each of them counts activity around the clock. Calories eaten on and off the job. Steps take before, during, and after work. Heart rates monitored constantly. Sleep times and quality. Activities from A (aerobics) to Z (zumba). One app even includes an option to track sexual activity, asking for details of "intensity" and duration. "The trick to a successful employee wellness program – and healthier employees – is learning how to connect all of the components of employee wellness," wrote contributor Alan Kohll in Forbes. "These components include physical, financial, emotional and social well-being. It's essential for employers and employees alike to understand how these different components of wellness influence one another." Dialing it up with the adjective "holistic," wellbeing programs increasingly assume a broader swath, taking responsibility for employees to be, as one Society for Human Resources Management report put it, "active, nourished, calm, healthy and balanced." But they rarely include "safe." The most recent SHRM benefits survey report mentions "wellness" or "well-being" 28 times. It mentions safety just once, and that's in a line item about bonuses for meeting on-the-job safety goals. The typical wellness program is more forcefully targeted at the long-term effects of eating French fries than at the immediate hazards of driving a motorcycle. Therein lies a contradiction -- a growing one as wellness programs multiply and delve deeper into employees' lives while safety programs remain largely restricted to working hours. Not one company wellness program limits its jurisdiction to the working hours of the employees. Wellness runs 24/7. Safety runs 8/5 or 10/4 or whatever is the employee's work schedule on a given week, rarely touching the off-the-job hours when the wellness program continues. At the center of the contradiction is a fundamental question: Is it the responsibility or purview of the company to influence healthy behaviors off the job? If the answer is no, then wellness programs are sticking their noses where they don't belong. If the answer is yes, then those wellness programs have a yawning gap, tending to fine points such as mindfulness while ignoring threats to the skull in which the mind is housed. The reason for the contradiction is that wellness and safety are sponsored by different departments with different ground rules. Aiming to keep a lid on health care coverage costs, human resources over the past decade has expanded its reach to encompass almost anything an employee might do that could affect insurance claims, from tobacco cessation to dental checkups. Safety departments, meanwhile, have largely stuck to the work site, where an accident can shut down production, trigger workers' compensation, or spark an OSHA investigation. Yet for every on-the-job, lost-time injury, there are three employee injuries away from work, according to the National Safety Council. "For each on-the-job death due to unintentional injuries, there are more than 15 off-the-job deaths due to unintentional injuries," reports the NSC. The difference in accident rates stands to reason. At a company site, employees are protected by warning signs, alarms, guardrails, training, hard hats, procedures, experienced peers, and safety managers that dramatically reduce the odds of getting hurt or killed. Government inspections, insurance requirements, and the institutional knowledge from past incidents create a discipline that has made the workplace increasingly safe. But at quitting time, the employer releases its workers into an environment with few of those safeguards. No one ensures that someone steadies the ladder when the employee climbs up to clean the leaves from the gutter, that he wears safety glasses when he fires up the circular saw, turns off his smart phone during the commute, or that he knows what he's doing when he opens the fuse box in the garage. While the goal of a typical safety program is to "send people home in one piece," the statistics show executives should be more concerned they return intact from the weekend. While a serious accident off the job does not trigger workers' compensation or an inspection, it nonetheless carries high costs -- lost time, overtime, higher insurance costs, rehiring costs, and reduced productivity. The NSC estimates that while 65 million days of production time were lost to workplace accidents in 2015, more than four-and-a-half times as many -- 295 million days -- were lost to accidents when off the clock. Costs in future years also land disproportionately on incidents that occurred during personal time: 625 million days versus 50 million days. These risks and costs are a blind spot in most companies' strategies, rarely well addressed by either corporate wellness or safety programs. Part of the justification for comprehensive wellness programs is a recognition that what happens away from work affects what occurs during working hours, and vice versa. Healthy habits an employee develops at work, from stand-up desks to fewer meetings with doughnuts, need to continue at home. Otherwise, progress on the clock would simply be lost off the clock. It makes little sense to eat a turkey sandwich and carrots for lunch, then consume a double hamburger and a row of Oreos in the evening. Employers are not concerned where or when an employee will have a heart attack, but that she might have one at all. Particularly given the out-sized risk of accidents away from work, it's time for the same comprehensive principles to apply to safety. Adapting for off hours the same methods used to prevent accidents at work is simply good business -- and the right thing to do. If organizations are going to take a truly holistic approach to wellness, employees' safety away from work is very much the business of leaders today. Rodd Wagner is a New York Times  bestselling author and executive advisor at SafeStart. He is currently writing his fourth book. Posted on Jan 09, 2019

“What's That Buzzing Overhead?” Don't Get Stung By an OSHA Safety Inspection Drone

"What's That Buzzing Overhead?" Don't Get Stung By an OSHA Safety Inspection Drone When the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued a memorandum in 2018 announcing that agency inspectors are now authorized to use camera-carrying Unmanned Aircraft Systems — or drones — to collect evidence during inspections in certain workplace settings, employers across the country should have collectively raised their eyes to the sky. This development means that OSHA inspectors are not only authorized to conduct in-person inspections of your workplace, they can fly remote-controlled aircraft above your work site to track down safety violations. While most would agree that workplace safety is of the utmost importance, the use of drones to inspect a work site raises new concerns for employers. Privacy Concerns Are All the BuzzOne area of concern with OSHA's drone use is your Fourth Amendment right to object to the expansion of an overbroad inspection. For instance, will your objection to drone use be the end of the story, or will OSHA then seek a search warrant?  According to the OSHA guidance memo, inspectors must "obtain express consent from the employer" prior to using a drone. If the employer objects to the drone's use, then the aircraft won't fly, according to the guidance memo. Keep in mind that you have a Fourth Amendment right to require OSHA to obtain a search warrant. Understand, however, there is a risk of becoming a target for multiple and frequent future investigations when sending an OSHA inspector away from your doors — or, in this case, away from your airspace. That said, the better option if facing an OSHA drone inspection might be to allow the drone's use, but to work with the agency to limit the inspection. Currently, when you grant an OSHA inspector entry for a limited inspection, such as one responding to an employee complaint, you may object to expansion of the inspection to other areas of your workplace. For instance, you may allow the inspector to enter but can object to the inspection of certain portions of your workplace beyond the scope of the complaint.  Moreover, you can limit certain aspects of the inspection, such as the taking of photographs or videotaping of areas, which happen to reveal trade secrets, or questioning employees while they are working. While this option seems to avoid the Fourth Amendment problem, only time will tell. Keep in mind, also, that the inspection could still be broadened if the inspector spots a hazard in "plain view" while using the drone camera. Who's The Queen Bee? Sorting Out Who's In ChargeOther concerns involve the question of who OSHA considers to be "in charge" at a multiple-employer work site. As stated above, OSHA's guidance memo requires express consent from an employer prior to drone use. Under OSHA's Multi-Employer Worksite Citation Policy, more than one employer may be citable for a hazardous condition that violates an OSHA standard.   For instance, at construction sites, it is common for several subcontractors to be working under a general contractor. Can a general contractor give consent for drone use during an inspection involving a work site involving multiple employers? Who actually owns the airspace above that work site and therefore has authority to grant consent? And what happens to the video after an inspection — will it be obtainable by competitors or unions through a FOIA request? The unanswered questions seem endless.  The OSHA guidance memo also notes that Federal Aviation Administration rules require any OSHA region using a drone to designate a staff member as an "unmanned aircraft program manager" to oversee training requirements and other program elements. This includes ensuring that the drone inspection is approved and that a qualified OSHA team is available to conduct the inspection before any flight operation begins. In addition, the National Fire Protection Association issued its first unmanned robotics guidance (NFPA 2400, Standard for Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (sUAS) Used for Public Safety Operations) in December. Thus, it is likely that you will see increased drone use in the future.  What to Do Now?Although OSHA has many questions to answer before sending drones over your workplaces, you should begin to address the use of drones in OSHA inspections now. Here are a few tips: Prepare a response strategy. Just as an employer should prepare a written strategy for an OSHA in-person inspection, the same applies to drone inspections. You should designate an authorized employer representative to sit next to an OSHA drone crew on the ground, the same as if the employee were accompanying the OSHA inspector during a walk-around inspection. Don't be afraid to limit the inspection. You should participate in the drone flight planning and not allow drones over your work site if you disagree with the flight plan. Be informed! You should educate your organization on these new developments to ensure your key personnel at least know enough to prepare for future OSHA drone inspections. If an inspector shows up at your door requesting to conduct a drone inspection, know your rights. Chantell Foley is an associate in the Louisville office of Fisher Phillips. Her background includes significant experience in health and safety litigation. She uses this experience to counsel clients during government investigations and throughout the litigation process. She also represents employers in all aspects of labor and employment law including charges of discrimination, sexual harassment, retaliation, wrongful termination, and other employment-related claims. Prior to joining the firm, she was an attorney with the Kentucky Labor Cabinet, where she litigated OSHA disputes in administrative courts. Todd Logsdon is a partner in the firm's Louisville office, where his practice is devoted to advising and representing employers regarding labor and employment law matters. He is regarded as a leader on OSHA issues, including contesting and litigating OSHA citations, representing employers during OSHA inspections/investigations, conducting OSHA compliance audits, defending whistleblower/retaliation claims, as well as providing OSHA compliance advice to clients. Posted on Jan 08, 2019

At CES, Organizations Unite to Educate Drivers, Policymakers

At CES, Organizations Unite to Educate Drivers, Policymakers This one won't stay in Vegas, despite being unveiled there Jan. 7. The National Safety Council announced the new PAVE Coalition, which was unveiled 1/7 at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. The council said it "is pleased to join a nationwide coalition of organizations dedicated to raising public awareness about automated vehicles and the safety benefits of advanced driver assistance systems." PAVE – Partners for Automated Vehicle Education – intends to help eliminate confusion about current and future technologies so drivers and policymakers are fully educated about their life-saving potential. "We are on the brink of the next generation of transportation: creating not just the safer car, but the safer driver," said Deborah A.P. Hersman, president and CEO of the council. "NSC is proud to join PAVE and work alongside organizations that, like us, believe in the promise of automated vehicle technology for enhanced mobility, improved sustainability and, above all, safety." (Hersman is days away from leaving her NSC post; in November 2018, the council announced she had been named Chief Safety Officer at Waymo, a self-driving technology development company based in Mountain View, Calif., and her final day with the council would be Jan. 11, 2019.) Hersman may be legitimately wearing two hats at the show -- on Jan. 9, she will participate in a CES executive keynote panel discussion titled "The New Mobility Revolution: Getting Consumers Ready," a topic that's of interest to both Waymo and the NSC (as well as the National Transportation Safety Board, Hersman's previous stop). The council's announcement said other PAVE Coalition members include AAA, American Public Transportation Association, Audi of America, Aurora, Consumer Technology Association, Cruise Automation, Daimler, INRIX, Intel, Mobileye, Munich RE, National Council on Aging, National Federation of the Blind, NVIDIA, SAE International, Securing America's Future Energy, Toyota, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Volkswagen, Voyage, Waymo, and Zoox. For more information about the PAVE Coalition, visit www.pavecampaign.org. Posted on Jan 07, 2019

And the Winners Are . . .

And the Winners Are . . . The American National Standards Institute on Dec. 17 announced the winners of its Haiku for ANSI's 100th competition, a contest held in honor of the centennial anniversary of the institute's founding in 1918. Back in August 2018, ANSI had invited members of the standardization community and beyond to create a haiku that distills the essence of a voluntary standard to the standard haiku format. Following their review of "over 50 outstanding submissions from a wide range of standards professionals and many other participants," ANSI's communications team selected a winning haiku in each of the five contest categories. The winners are: Overall BestBreathing unhindered,fingers and toes free from harm.Shhh… Baby sleeping. Standard: ASTM F1169-13, Standard Consumer Safety Specification for Full Size Baby Cribs – Penny Arrowwood TraditionalDangle high aboveWinter chill bites feared fallenHappy are those caught ANSI/ASSP Z359.1-2016, The Fall Protection Code – Sean Coughlin, UAW Poetic/BeautifulClimbing to catch upLadder of wood, hand foot handSafely in the stars ANSI ASC A14.1-2007, American National Standards Ladders - Wood – Linda Doran, Maine Labor Group on Health FunnyDespite all the careThe standard guides to manageThe cow just says moo ISO TS 34700:2016, Animal welfare management – Jeffrey Strauss, Northwestern University RelevantAccess to and useOf the built environmentIs a human right ANSI A117.1, Accessible and Usable Buildings and Facilities – Don Risdall, Pacific ADA Center, National Network of ADA Centers Jerry Laws is the editor of Occupational Health & Safety. Posted on Dec 18, 2018

Beyond Paternalistic Safety

Beyond Paternalistic Safety Who likes to be constantly told what to do? Even the most obedient and docile among us wouldn't tolerate for long a situation where one doesn't have a say. Yet more often than not, that is exactly what happens when it comes to Safety in the workplace. Nobody can deny the employer's responsibility when it comes to occupational safety. Being in charge of an operation, they must identify its hazards, assess the risks, and provide the means (both material and organizational) to mitigate them. In most countries laws have been passed and courts have ruled in line with this principle. The employer is supposed to know best, to translate that knowledge into rules, and to enforce them. Like a benevolent parent, the employer (or its representative, the manager, whom we could then compare to the employee's big brother) is supposed to enlighten the employees with his experience for their own good. To make them understand what are the risks related to a given task and to explain them how to behave in order to remain safe. That's all fine and good. But if you have children (or if you've ever been a child yourself) you know that parents sometimes struggle to have rules respected by their kids, even if such rules make perfect sense and are meant to protect them. Indeed, emancipation is one of deepest human instincts. During the entire history of mankind and all over the world, children becoming teenagers have sought to define themselves as individuals and reaffirm their personalities. We're all hardwired to become autonomous. Many youngsters smoke, speed, and do other silly stuff just to prove this point; once we've reached adulthood (or we think we have) freedom of choice becomes one of our dearest values. At some point our personality matures, and most of us turn out just fine, coming to terms with the implicit social contract establishing both our rights and duties on the basis of mutual respect among fellow citizens. And then we get a job. So there we are back to square one, confronted by management schemes based on rules and discipline. Again, these constraints may very well be necessary in order to protect our own and other people's safety. But overconfidence bias makes most of us believe that we're in control of our safety. So managers-know-best/do-as-you're-told-or-else strategies are likely to be perceived as patronizing. Team members may feel that they're treated like kids again. This may be OK for many people but definitely doesn't work for everybody. And even if they are a minority, a few individuals can do a lot of harm, both directly (taking inconsiderate risks to prove you wrong) and indirectly (bashing the leaders' best intentions of developing a Culture of Safety). Management doesn't need to be paternalistic. Best leadership certainly shouldn't. Leading those who don't belong to your family circle is very different from parenting. The nature of the emotional bonds in play is obviously not the same. If trying to overly control your children – who in principle love you – can backfire into rebellion, one can only assume that such reaction is much more likely from your team members. That being said, leaders must nevertheless strongly uphold and carefully balance the same underlying values that good parents demonstrate as they support their children through their personal development: chiefly, trust and accountability. Besides some notable exceptions such as not being able to afford team members to just "learn from their mistakes" when these may have catastrophic consequences, there are a number of things that leaders can do to promote these values within an organization's culture. For example, leaders might refer to the brand new ISO 45001 standard, which includes a prominent chapter on workers' participation and consultation that provides a comprehensive list of ways of involving the team members in their organization's safety management. Among those, I consider having workers first actively contributing in the risk assessment of the operations and then in the definition and follow-up of the risk mitigation actions and programs as the most effective means to engage them as active partners in safety management. Besides the fact that you actually need the input of those in the front line, you'll ensure that they feel ownership of such initiatives. Plus, you'll show consideration to their expertise, letting them know that they're listened to. You'll prove trust and respect. In short, you'll make them feel that they are treated as adults. This is definitely a mandatory step in order to get their buy-in and, who knows, maybe further the process of turning them into safety leaders, too. Eduardo Blanco-Munoz contributed this article to Occupational Health & Safety. You'll find more of his articles on his LinkedIn page, https://www.linkedin.com/today/author/eduardoblanco. Postscript In their classic book "Nudge" (2008), Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein define their approach as "libertarian paternalism." There have been a number of discussions on how to apply this theory to Safety, and I had the honor to moderate a panel discussion of top Safety executives and specialists on this subject during the 12th HSE Excellence Europe held in Lisbon in May 2018. The research done in the field of behavioral economics by economists such as Thaler but also by psychologists such as Daniel Kahneman is of paramount importance. It opens new perspectives for understanding the not-so-rational behaviors that humans display sometimes – if not most of the time – and how to influence them in ways that are both efficient and not constraining. Choice architecture, as Thaler calls it, can indeed be extremely beneficial in situations where individuals may fall prey to cognitive biases conducive to unsafe behaviors. I would just suggest associating these same individuals in the choice architecture process, the same way we should involve them in the design of the other risk mitigation strategies. At the scale of small to medium organizations, this is not only possible but, as discussed above, necessary. They are adults, after all. Posted on Dec 07, 2018

Five Steps to Take After an On-the-Job Injury

Five Steps to Take After an On-the-Job Injury Prompt action and clear communication lessen the impact of work injuries for employers and employees. On-the-job injuries occur even with stringent safety precautions. Here are five steps to make the best of an unfortunate situation. Get Medical Care Without DelayIf the injury is life-threatening, get the person to the emergency room. Do not allow the injured person, co-worker, or supervisor to drive. Call an ambulance in case medical care is needed on the way to the hospital. For lesser injuries, the employee should still see a doctor as soon as possible. Prompt medical care could mean the difference between an employee missing a few hours of work or being off the job for weeks. Sometimes a company prefers that an injured employee see a specific doctor, but an employee is not bound to see an employer-chosen doctor for emergency care. To receive workers' compensation benefits, though, the employee generally must see the employer-chosen doctor for non-emergency care. File an Accident Report as Soon as Possible Notify your employer as soon as possible in writing. Even if the injuries were not serious, the accident and/or injuries must be noted. Most states require that employers carry workers' compensation insurance. The employer must be notified of the accident before filing a workers' compensation claim. Workers' compensation insurance guidelines vary by state. In general, most workers' compensation claims: Must be filed by the employer on behalf of the injured employee May be accompanied by more safety training, drug testing, or other employer requirements Will compensate the injured person regardless of negligence or liability from the employee or the employer Inform All Necessary Parties About the AccidentWorkplace safety relies on prompt and open communication between employees and the company. It is possible that new safety regulations could prevent a similar incident in the future. Most companies have an internal communications process. It might be a monthly newsletter, email, or even a bulletin board in the breakroom. Shining a light on a workplace injury could prevent similar incidents in the future. Review Safety Procedures In addition to conforming to Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) guidelines, it is a smart idea to review safety procedures after an on-the-job injury. While it is unfortunate that an employee was hurt, this is also an ideal opportunity to emphasize safety and first aid procedures. See whether new or updated safety features are available. Remain Professional and CourteousWorkplace accidents not only jeopardize an employee's health and safety, they often affect productivity, schedules, and budgets. Sometimes a job-related injury causes tension between employees and the employer. It might be advisable for the company Human Resources director or office manager to gently remind everyone that assigning blame or spreading gossip is not helpful for anyone. Hopefully, the injured employee will enjoy a speedy recovery and be able to return to work quickly. Following these five steps after a work-related injury can help everyone focus on a safer future. George Sink is an attorney and the founder of George Sink, P.A. Injury Lawyers. Posted on Dec 03, 2018

How Technology Is Making Today's Cars Safer in Accidents

How Technology Is Making Today's Cars Safer in Accidents There's no denying that car safety has come a long way in the last half-century or so. Since the three-point seat belt was introduced in 1959, we've seen a multitude of modern gadgets and gizmos peppered into our rides to make us safer. From innovative alert systems and safety-enhancing sensors to full 360-degree cameras, automakers like to remind us that staying safe on the road is always in style. New technology serves a greater purpose than just impressing drivers. High-tech features are actually helping people avoid and survive accidents, which is a pretty big deal, considering accidents are on the rise. And they're costing us — big time. A recent survey by Esurance found that it's common for drivers to spend more than $1,000 out-of-pocket and 20-plus hours handling post-accident issues. Luckily, some state-of-the-art safety features can help you avoid getting hurt (or injuring someone else) in an accident. Here's how they work. Keeping You in Your LaneIt's a situation we can all relate to: You're tired, but you drive home anyway. The last thing you want to do is drift off for a minute and come face-to-face with blinding headlights. Unfortunately, head-on crashes are more common than they should be — but technology is changing that. A recent study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) found that head-on and side-swipe accidents declined by 11 percent in 2015 because of a certain feature: lane departure warning. Other researchers claim that in 2015 alone, nearly 55,000 crashes could have been prevented if every vehicle in the United States was equipped with lane departure warning. When you stay in your lane, lives are saved. Seeing All Around YouThat hard-to-see area around your vehicle — the blind spot — certainly lives up to its name. It has been known to cause some serious accidents. Luckily, adding blind-spot detection to the rearview and side mirrors has helped increase driver visibility. In the IIHS study, researchers found that blind-spot detection reduced lane-change accidents by 14 percent. Seeing your blind spot: ironic in the safest way. Warning You to ReactYour cell phone, radio, and passengers are all common driving distractions. But even if you're paying attention, sometimes you don't have enough time to react. Forward collision warning technology triggers a loud beeping sound if something crosses your path, giving you up to five extra precious seconds of reaction time. And because rear-end crashes are the most frequent type of crash in America, every extra second matters. Stopping for YouThanks to an agreement between automakers and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), most cars and light trucks will come equipped with an automatic emergency braking system by 2022. This feature works in tandem with forward collision warning technology to alert and stop drivers before they have time to react. The Highway Loss Data Institute (HLDI) found that cars equipped with forward collision warning and active braking had 14 percent fewer insurance claims compared to the same cars without the technology. More proof that these systems work. Seeing in the DarkDriving at night can be unsafe, especially in rural areas without streetlights. But new headlight technology is making it easier to see after the sun sets. Adaptive headlights actually pivot as you're driving. They can move up to 15 degrees to the left or right, which is critical when navigating a curvy road at night. And the fact is, they really work. The HLDI found that adaptive headlights lowered property damage claims by 10 percent compared to cars with standard headlights. A bright spot, indeed. Is the Technology Worth it?It's easy to think "I'll never get into a crash," but the truth is the average driver experiences three or four accidents in a lifetime. Not only can they be physically painful, they can also drain you of your time, sanity, and money. Next time you're car shopping, consider choosing a model with new safety technology. It could not only help prevent costly accidents, but also could help save your life, or someone else's. Haden Kirkpatrick is the head of marketing strategy and innovation at Esurance. Haden is an innovator who is constantly thinking about how IoT, machine learning, and other new technology will impact the auto insurance industry. You can learn more about Esurance's car insurance policies on its website. Posted on Nov 28, 2018

'Tis the Season for Winter Safety — Just Don't fa-la-la-la-fall!

'Tis the Season for Winter Safety — Just Don't fa-la-la-la-fall! It's that most wonderful time of year again, with temperatures dropping, holiday lights going up and colleagues' OOO messages rebounding back to your inbox. And while the winter holidays are a time to deck the halls, companies also need to be mindful of the seasonal risks that come along with cold weather. In fact, workplace safety is more important than ever today, with recently enacted requirements from the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration significantly upping the cost of non-compliance. Read on to learn how your company can prepare — plus, simple tips to help take the bite out of seasonal hazards this winter. The High Cost of Unsafe Working ConditionsWorkplace safety is a year-round priority for best-in-class companies today. And that starts by aligning with new OSHA standards — because, as of Jan. 1, 2019, the cost of non-compliance is going up. Starting in the new year, violations classified as "serious" as well as "other than serious" will both result in fines of nearly $13,000, while "willful" and "repeat" offenses will warrant fines of close to $130,000. Along with higher penalties for infractions, there are also new, more stringent reporting requirements you should be aware of. Most notably, all companies with 250 or more employees — as well as companies with 20 to 249 employees in industries that have, historically, had higher rates of occupational injuries and illnesses — are now required by OSHA to track and report on workplace safety with OSHA Form 300A. But the good news is that, by implementing safety best practices and ensuring that they're adhered to year-round, companies can avoid hefty fines while also cutting down on turnover and increasing overall operational productivity. Ready to get started? Here are a few areas to focus on this winter. Deck the Halls — But Prevent Slips, Trips, and FallsWinter snow and ice can create serious safety hazards — and unless you take precautions, your work site might soon start to resemble the set of Home Alone. To protect your employees from slips, trips, and falls, make sure that everyone on your work site operates with the following four guidelines in mind: Keep walkways, stairways and other heavily trafficked work areas clear of obstacles, and take action to address potential hazards such as water on floors or snow on sidewalks as soon as you see them. Always look where you're going and have your hands ready to steady yourself in the event that you slip or lose your footing. Avoid carrying heavy loads that could compromise your balance. Mark hazardous areas with signs, cones, barricades, or floor stands to warn passers-by. Promote Safe DrivingEmployees who must drive as part of their on-the-job responsibilities are at increased risk for serious injuries during winter due to icy roadways and decreased visibility. To help keep employees safe, you should take the following steps. Provide employees with safe-driver training. Create a mandatory hands-free and seat belt use policy. Sign formal contracts with all employees who drive for work purposes — that way, you can ensure that employees are aware of and understand your company's traffic safety policies and other expectations. Review and consider how telematics could be an option in your fleet and driver safety program. Take the Chill out of WinterHypothermia and frostbite are medical conditions resulting from exposure to the cold. These conditions can cause serious harm — up to and including death! (For a more detailed overview of symptoms and treatment for hypothermia and frostbite, click here.) So if you suspect one of your workers is at risk for, or suffering from, either condition, you should seek help from a medical professional — immediately. And while you wait for help to arrive, take the following steps: Elevate the affected body parts in order to reduce swelling. Move your co-worker to a warm area to prevent further heat loss. Remove all wet clothing and apply a dry, sterile bandage to the affected areas. You can also place cotton between any affected fingers or toes. Additionally, an effective job hazard analysis can help define job tasks that require additional protection from the cold. Nothin' Better than an Ugly, Fitted Holiday SweaterAs it gets colder, workers will need to pile on clothing to keep warm. However, this can create risks, too, as loose clothing is liable to get caught in machinery and can limit visibility. And that, in turn, can potentially cause serious injuries. So employees who operate heavy machinery must be extra cautious — they'll need to dress appropriately to stay warm, without increasing their risk of on-the-job injuries. When safety standards aren't met, companies face any number of risks, including lower productivity, higher turnover, and increased on-boarding costs, not to mention expensive fines. So keep these safety tips in mind this winter, and your employees will be safe and sound in 2019 — and beyond. Corey Berghoefer, Senior Vice President of Risk Management & Insurance, Randstad US, is a risk management expert with more than a decade's worth of experience in safety and risk management, underwriting and loss control, claims management, and risk financing, accounting, and insurance. As Senior Vice President of Risk Management & Insurance at Randstad, the largest staffing firm in the world and third largest in the United States, Corey manages a department of 47 risk professionals with the goal of implementing proven risk management strategies into Randstad's overall business platform. Under his direction, Randstad has become acclaimed for its enterprise-wide risk management strategies, workers' compensation practices, and comprehensive focus on talent safety. He holds a BA from the University of Notre Dame and an MBA from the University of Georgia. Posted on Nov 27, 2018