Author Archives: [email protected] (jlaws)

Roadside Safety & The First Responder You've Probably Forgotten

Roadside Safety & The First Responder You've Probably Forgotten This year marks the 25th anniversary of the event that led to the enactment of the first Move Over law in the United States, aimed at helping keep our first responders safe. On Jan. 28, 1994, a passing vehicle struck paramedic James Garcia on the side of a two-lane highway near Lexington, S.C., while he was responding to a distress call. Not only did Garcia suffer permanent impairment to his left arm and leg, but he was also considered at fault simply because he was doing his job. At the time of the accident, neither South Carolina nor any other state offered comprehensive protections to emergency workers either on the side of the road or in it. In nearly all cases, vehicles had the right of way. However, in the last two and a half decades, thanks to the efforts of James and many others, Move Over laws have been implemented in all 50 states. These laws require drivers to move over a lane or slow down when passing active, but stopped or parked, emergency or service vehicles. However, even today, these types of accidents involving first responders still occur all too often – and one type of first responder is being put at particular risk: the tow operator. Approximately 30 percent of the public remains unaware of Move Over laws, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. In addition, these laws can be difficult to enforce and many drivers consider them as mere suggestion rather than rule. In Tennessee, for instance, nearly 2,300 people in 2018 were ticketed for not moving over – an increase of almost 50 percent from two years ago.   Further, even when drivers are aware of the need to slow down when safe to do so and switch lanes, there is a misconception that Move Over applies only to roadside police, EMTs, or firefighters, and they therefore often fail to move over for tow operators, even though laws in all 50 states include these professionals. As a result, the job of a tow operator is one of the most dangerous – and overlooked – in the world, sometimes arriving to accidents or roadside incidents even before law enforcement, medics, or firefighters and usually staying well after others have left to clean up. (Police officers often leave accidents scenes before tow truck drivers have cleared the disabled vehicle, leaving them potentially unprotected and vulnerable to traffic.) More Light Must Be Shed on Dangers Drivers FaceEvery day, tow operators face aggressive drivers, hazards on the side of the road, and the risks of operating heavy equipment. According to the International Towing Museum, an average of 60 tow operators are killed each year after being struck by vehicles on the side of the road. This means that the towing industry sees one death approximately every six days. Already this year, tow operators in more than a dozen states have been struck by passing vehicles or assaulted by angry drivers. Because of this, the towing industry nationwide is suffering. Tow operators both large and small are facing significant driver availability and retention headwinds as alternative and less dangerous opportunities, such as shared-ride services or parcel delivery, attract employees. This high-risk profession is also increasingly difficult to insure, and several prominent insurers have dropped their tow liability coverage options, causing costs to skyrocket. As tow businesses struggle, the potential reverberation across other industries – from automotive companies to insurance providers, motor clubs to municipalities – could be great, especially considering the need for this profession isn't slowing. Vehicle miles traveled – a significant force driving roadside and tow incident rates – are increasing. Today, cars are owned longer and driven farther. And, near into the future, autonomous vehicle technology will increase car use, with cars driven potentially 20 times more than they are today. Further, as automotive original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) continue eliminating spare tires in new car models to reduce vehicle weight and increase fuel efficiency, more simple roadside incidents – like flat tire changes – will become tow events. More light must be shed on this issue, and there are best practices that can be followed to help. First, all drivers should familiarize themselves with the Move Over law in their state, the specifics of which may vary. Second, drivers need to abide by the law and move over when able. Third, it's important to spread the word and speak up when a friend, family member, or taxi driver doesn't comply. Additionally, the Smith System's Smith5Keys can help encourage safer driving behavior. For industries that rely heavily on tow services, consider the implications that tow industry challenges may have your business and partnerships, such as rising costs. Evaluate your existing partnerships and consider whether these issues are being addressed. Like all first responders, tow operators set aside their own safety to help those in need. By spreading awareness of the dangers of this profession and the importance of following Move Over laws, we can help to better ensure the safety of our tow operators. Fortunately, several states have recently acted and renewed efforts around Move Over. In the last few months, laws in Virginia, Tennessee, and North Carolina, for example, have been evaluated for expansion (to now include all vehicles with flashing lights) or updated to deliver harsher punishments for violators. For more information, you can visit the Tow and Recovery Museum's website. This organization welcomes contributions to help support families of the tow operators who have lost their lives in the line of service. George Horvat, chief operating officer, is responsible for Agero's network and contact center functions, allowing the company to more effectively deliver a comprehensive, streamlined, and differentiated roadside experience for drivers in their moments of need. Posted on Feb 22, 2019

Workplace Eye Safety: From Vulnerability to Resilience

Workplace Eye Safety: From Vulnerability to Resilience You'd be hard pressed to find a company today that doesn't think it has a handle on promoting and protecting eye safety. However, the current statistics indicate that this is an area where too few organizations actually see 20/20. Some 2,000 U.S. workers suffer eye injuries that require medical treatment on a daily basis, for example, with an annualized cost to companies to the tune of $300 million in medical bills, compensation and time off. Within the manufacturing, transportation and warehousing sectors, moreover, there are over 7,000 on-the-job eye injuries annually. Clearly, there's a lot of room for improvement. In recognition of Workplace Eye Wellness month this March, here's how companies can assess the maturity of their safety models—and move from a position of reactive vulnerability to proactive and predictive resilience. Five Stages of Safety MaturityOrganizations that continually grow in their ability to identify and control specific hazards are far more effective at moving the needle when it come to injury prevention generally and eye-injury prevention specifically. So how and where should you get started? When it comes to assessing the maturity of your workforce safety model, it can be useful to think in terms of five distinct stages. Use the following diagnostic criteria to identify where your organization is today. Vulnerable: These organizations are characterized by a dangerous "no care culture." When accidents occur, these organizations naively accept them as simply part of the cost of doing business. There's little or no training around safety—with the result that accidents and incidents can sometimes be downplayed or not reported at all. Worse, near-misses are seldom recognized as opportunities for prevention and improvement, nor are they considered gaps in planning or in the system that created them. Apathy and resistance to change are characteristic of leadership and workers alike, leaving workers vulnerable to similar mishaps going forward. Apathy or resistance to change are endemic at these organizations among leadership and workers alike. Reactive: These organizations foster a "culture of blame"—and all told, they aren't doing much better than "Vulnerable" organizations. These companies similarly lack accurate recordkeeping data around incidents, most of their efforts focused on recovery efforts to restore business as usual. By restricting communication around safety and training to a need-to-know basis, these organizations tend to frame employee error as a de facto catch-all cause for safety incidents. Compliant: "Compliant" organizations have begun to accurately track incident data and are learning to better understand why incidents occur. And that starts with early efforts to set goals and assign responsibility for key safety metrics. By increasing involvement in safety planning and communication across other business units, what's more, these organizations are also able to improve overall safety efforts — and leveraging these improvements can be an important catalyst for continual improvement across other business units. Proactive: By moving toward a "culture of ownership," these organizations have begun to successfully clarify roles and responsibilities around safety. They also have specific preventive measures as well as post-incident measures in place. From leadership down to front-line personnel, detailed safety communications are a basic component of day-to-day work. And because continual risk and hazard assessments inform leadership’s outlook, we also find robust training, communication and awareness processes in place at these organizations, too.  Transformational: "Safety is the way we work" is the mantra at these organizations. In other words, safety concerns have become an instinctive part of how these organizations recognize and manage risks on an end-to-end, enterprise-wide basis. Solid safety management systems are in place. Plus, front-line ownership and senior leadership are aligned on safety expectations — with mutual respect and dependency between them for driving excellence in safety performance. Leaders at these organizations view safety as an opportunity for continued learning and improvement, and view their employees as part of the solution to potential future safety challenges. Evolving the Maturity of Your Safety CultureThe journey from a "Vulnerable" to "Transformational" safety culture isn't going to happen overnight, but you need to get started right away if you want to see improvements around eye safety in the workplace—today and in the future. Here are three essential focus areas to help you out. Safety planning: Safety planning means assessing hazards, of course, but it goes further than that, too. That means identifying practices and work methods that create risks, with the goal of eliminating these risks or at least reducing them to acceptable levels. So you'll need to comprehensively review policies and procedures. From there, you can create a roadmap for managing and measuring change — that should help ensure greater buy-in and awareness from stakeholders at all levels of the organization. Emerging risks: To transition from a reactive to a predictive approach, you need to carefully evaluate emerging risks—and consider how your goal setting for prevention is connected to managing those risks. Plus, you should think through how risk potential relates to frequent and minor risks, as well as infrequent and severe risks, too. At the end of the day, eye injuries are often best controlled through a combination of approaches—better work practices together with improved personal protective equipment (PPE), for instance. Beyond that, accountability and other workplace safety best practices must be promoted by leadership and tracked with metrics. Feedback and engagement: Far too often there are gaps between safety planning at the leadership level and what actually winds up happening at the employee level. That's why ongoing engagement and feedback from actual employees is so important. Town hall meetings, surveys, and leadership interaction at the floor level are all smart ways to promote that kind of engagement. Ultimately, the goal is to ensure that robust safety planning doesn't just exist in the abstract, but connects the workforce at both ends of the spectrum—leaders and workers—around shared safety goals. Looking to evolve your safety maturity? Start with these three areas and you should begin to see measurable improvements in eye safety in no time. Strengthen Your Safety Vision Over TimeWorkplace Eye Wellness month in March brings with it heightened awareness of the risks related to eye safety at work, but in reality, this needs to be a commitment all year-round. By using the framework we've outlined in this article, you should have a clear sense of where your organization stands today—and what the next steps are to improve. Corey Berghoefer, Senior Vice President of Risk Management & Insurance with staffing firm 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. He 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 Feb 21, 2019

Why a Safe, Healthy Workplace is Good for the Bottom Line

Why a Safe, Healthy Workplace is Good for the Bottom Line According to the Bureau of Labor Statics, nearly 3 million on-the-job injuries occurred in 2017. At any given time, this could mean significant disruptions and costs to your company as well as your employees and their families. While not all are considered serious, more than one-third of on-the-job injuries require time off work in order to recover. Safety must be a priority on the job. A proactive approach to injury prevention and treatment in the workplace is good for the bottom line and demonstrates a strong commitment to the well-being of an organization's employees. Because injuries happen for a variety of reasons, from changes in process or technology or simply ensuring employees can do their job most effectively, it is important to assess and re-assess existing programs and how they serve the needs of your organization. Why Are There So Many Workplace Injuries?According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), there are a number of reasons why there is a growing need for injury prevention and treatment programs. First, work is becoming more automated. Technology, computers, and robotics are being integrated into our workplaces, often introducing new and different hazards. There's also more diversity in our workforce than ever before. People from different backgrounds and cultures are working alongside each other which can impact communication and potentially create barriers. And, that same workforce is aging. The rise of sedentary work and lifestyles means that some workers are at higher risk for work-related musculoskeletal disorders. Finally, there has been an uptick in temporary and contract employment. Traditional relationships between workers and employers are shifting, and changes in safety programs and policies will be required to ensure the safety of all workers. There is no question that workplace injuries can be costly from a business standpoint. And, as mentioned above, we also know there is a long list of reasons why injuries are occurring. The question that remains: What can you do prioritize safety in the workplace and how does it impact your business? In order to best answer those questions, I thought I'd give you a few first-hand examples of companies we've collaborated with at HealthFitness that have used workplace injury prevention and treatment programs to not only create a safer work environment, but also benefit the bottom line: Example #1: An automotive company was seeing an increase in the number of injuries, resulting in increased OSHA recordables rates, absenteeism, and short- and long-term disability. They needed a broad injury prevention and treatment program for 9,000 employees across multiple facilities. We addressed these challenges by implementing a series of new programs, including new hire work conditioning, early intervention, self-care, pre-shift warm-up exercises, first aid follow-ups, and a nine-week exercise conditioning program. The business results were significant: 90 percent resolution of musculoskeletal disorders 83 percent resolution of reported discomfort $2.5 million in cost avoidance, which is determined by the number of participants multiplied by an average cost of an OSHA recordable from ergonomic injuries. Example #2: A manufacturing company experienced an increase in injuries and illnesses among new hires, resulting in increased OSHA recordable rates, workers' compensation costs, and higher turnover. We worked with this manufacturer to implement a program that assessed work tasks and safety practices before, during, and after the hiring process to ensure new hires met the requirements of the job and were properly trained. Ultimately, this proactive approach resulted in decreased OSHA recordable rates by 60 percent in the first year and another 18 percent the following year. Additionally, fewer OSHA recordables meant a savings of $12,000 to $25,000 per case. Example #3: Med-tech giant Boston Scientific noticed employees at its Maple Grove, Minn. manufacturing facility were experiencing an increasing number of ergonomic injuries and decided to fix the existing program—and proactively eliminate or reduce the risk of injuries to help employees stay safe and pain-free. In partnership with our onsite team, Boston Scientific worked to create an ergonomic stretching program, with movements tailored to each work station. The key to success was making it fun, which meant using a musical cue to announce room-wide stretch breaks. The song of choice? None other than the theme song of the most storied and celebrated villain in movie history, Darth Vader. Cue the "Imperial March"! Visible support and participation from the company's leadership—at every level—was also a key factor in the success of this program. Once the musical cue comes on, everyone in the room has to stretch, from executives to engineers, safety managers, and production workers. When everyone participates, everyone wins and the business benefits. Example #4: An energy company's office team experienced an increased number of injuries and illnesses, meaning higher medical and disability costs, plus absenteeism. We partnered with this energy company to develop an ergonomics program that helped prevent repetitive motion injuries, resulting in a 74 percent success rate in its first year (currently at 92 percent) in addressing early signs and symptoms prior to escalation to medical. Protecting your most valuable resource—your employees—is always good business. A focus on safety and injury prevention ensures the business can maximize productivity and optimize performance. There is no question that employees who feel supported and safe at work contribute to the well-being of the business in the long run, and this is good for everyone. Nicole Chaudet is the executive director, product execution, with HealthFitness. She is charged with leading the team that takes new products, services and product enhancements to market. She has been delivering employee well-being programs and solutions, both on site and in a consultative role, for more than 20 years. Posted on Feb 19, 2019

Those Valentine's Balloons May Cost More Than Expected

Those Valentine's Balloons May Cost More Than Expected Metallic, helium-filled balloons are popular items on Valentine's Day, but they can cause problems if they're allowed to float away. Pacific Gas and Electric Company posted a reminder Feb. 11 asking its customers to securely tie a weight to all metallic balloons containing helium, because metallic balloons that contact overhead power lines can disrupt electric service to an entire neighborhood, cause significant property damage, and potentially result in serious injuries. Last year, metallic balloons were the cause of 503 power outages across PG&E's service area in northern and central California, disrupting electric service to more than 265,000 homes and businesses, PG&E reported. The release said that, unlike latex helium balloons, metallic balloons can stay inflated and floating for two to three weeks, so they can pose a hazard to power lines and equipment days after being released outside. "We want to make sure all of our customers are able to spend a safe Valentine's Day with their friends, family, and loved ones. Safety doesn't take a holiday, even on Valentine's. Please keep metallic balloons away from power lines as they can cause power outages and injuries. Make sure your time is well spent on the 14th by following a few basic safety steps," said Mike Kress, PG&E's senior director of Field Operations. The release says the number of power outages caused by metallic balloons in PG&E's service area has more than doubled in the past decade and increased by nearly 6 percent from 2017 to 2018. The company is asking that customers make sure helium-filled metallic balloons are securely tied to a weight heavy enough to prevent them from floating away; keep metallic balloons indoors and never permit metallic balloons to be released outside; not bundle metallic balloons together; and never try to retrieve any type of balloon, kite, or toy that becomes caught in a power line. Posted on Feb 12, 2019

Industry 4.0 Includes Occupational Health and Safety When Defining Automated Mobile Robot Selection

Industry 4.0 Includes Occupational Health and Safety When Defining Automated Mobile Robot Selection Automated Mobile Robots (AMRs) are an important advancement in material handling Industry 4.0 solutions. This is particularly true in the automotive sector which has strong Lean Manufacturing demands of adaptability, precision, and flexibility. AMRs must respond to the various requirements and production fluctuation, including the ability to easily change the layout, add more vehicles to increase the capacity. These autonomous solutions are part of the occupational health and safety requirements. The Industry 4.0 paradigm requires maintaining significant flexibility without magnetic tape guidance; it also mandates preserving scalability and safe transport of sensitive goods. Unlike human fork truck drivers, one metric of quality is the high precision movements and perfect repeatability found in AMRs. While Industry 4.0 metrics do not focus exclusively on high levels of personal safety, there is universal agreement that safety cannot be compromised. Ease of integration to automated equipment is part of every quality conversation, yet not ever at the cost of personal safety. Industrial manufacturers attempt to compare and contrast the value proposition of various AMR vendors. Ultimately, the organizations’ process improvement roadmap must be aligned with the product selected to achieve maximum throughput, productivity, and rapid ROI while maintaining regulatory health and safety standards.  Ironically, so many AMR vendors are not lean themselves. Without an intrinsic understanding of Lean Manufacturing, the bells and whistles of each product fail to comport with companies’ values. AutoGuide’s differentiation is based on a manufacturing businesses structure (product company with active product roadmaps, and integrators with deep experience), Value (Cost of Ownership), Lean Manufacturing (proven technologies that have a direct benefit for the user), Made in USA, and shorter lead times. Industry 4.0: Lean Manufacturing and Occupational Health and Safety ChallengesEvery AMR vendor claims to have high quality and a focus on occupational health and safety. Few express this as better initial quality (fewer defects) or reliability (uptime incident/failures). A structured New Product Development phase gate process must include Design for Reliability and V&V testing (Verification and Validation) that produces standardized products that can be supported in the field.   Safety managers can be uniquely handled through a Failure Review Board and an 8D process for root cause analysis. With standard version-controlled products, the conditions are duplicated in the lab to propagate corrective actions or continuous improvements to all the units in the field.   Safety and Quality DifferentiationWhile nearly all AMR vendors claim to be safe and compliant to B56.5-2012, most fall short at full speed and when fully loaded. Few companies exceed these requirements utilizing a non-contact collision avoidance system that changes scanner zones (slow/stop/e-stop) based on the current speed and direction of the vehicle. Additionally, the use of regenerative braking for normal stops and a physical disc brake to assist for emergency stops are important features to ensure all occupational health and safety thresholds are met. In busy manufacturing plants, e-stop buttons, audible (horn) and visual (light pole and strobes) indicators, as well as an onboard Operator Interface (OI) screen with system status and diagnostics, guarantee a safe outcome. 24/7 remote diagnostics capabilities ensure plant and safety managers can monitor three-shift operations across a global enterprise. Even for those companies tiptoeing into the Industry 4.0 realm, the migration from manual fork trucks to AMRs is handled with ease because these systems are equipped with a driver onboard platform for hybrid operation (auto/manual). Rob Sullivan, president and CEO of AutoGuide Mobile Robots, is a proven robotics and automation leader with a solid track record of pioneering innovative products. With more than 30 years of career advancement in high technology companies ranging from burgeoning start-ups to established multinational corporations, he offers a rare combination of business leadership and engineering expertise that resulted in the development and commercialization of numerous cutting-edge products. Sullivan has built and fostered high-performing teams and outsource partnerships that delivered quality products faster than industry norms. He holds 46 patents pertaining to robotics and automation utilized in manufacturing, distribution, and logistics. Posted on Feb 08, 2019

Injury and Illness Prevention Programs Must Weather the Chill

Injury and Illness Prevention Programs Must Weather the Chill Depending on geographical location and Mother Nature's temperament, cold weather is at times unavoidable. It can potentially bring many challenges, from lengthened commutes and an increase of slipping hazards to compromised tools and dangerous wind chills. But how often do we consider how cold weather affects our utility construction health and safety programs? A 2012 OSHA White Paper examining injury and illness prevention programs emphasized the importance of comprehensive health and safety programs by stating that they "are effective in transforming workplace culture, leading to reductions in injuries, illnesses and fatalities." However, the white paper also states that "one size certainly does not fit all." This is especially true in large companies that provide a variety of services. For instance, PLH Group Inc. encompasses 11 entities that are strategically located throughout the United States and Canada. These entities provide a variety of services for the electric power line, pipeline, oil field electrical and industrial markets. Within these 11 entities is Pipeworx Ltd., which provides pipeline and facility installations, modular construction, fabrication, and heavy hauling throughout Canada's Northern British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba. Pipeworx recognizes certain cold weather impediments due to their geographical location, such as only working on aerial work platforms within defined temperature and wind speed limits. Whereas sister company Auger Services, Inc. is impacted by winter weather on a different scale. Auger Services provides a full range of foundation drilling services throughout the United States, including the swamplands of Louisiana. Safety concerns that Auger Services recognizes include preventing trench foot while performing work in the damp swamps, as well as cold weather maintenance and preparation of their amphibious equipment. Therefore, PLH Group must not only have a corporate injury and illness prevention program, but must also ensure that its safety policies, considerations, and protective measures are specific to the locations and tasks of each entity’s services. This then trickles down to specific considerations needed for each team within the entity, as well as each individual. But how do companies— especially those with a strong presence in high-risk trades— adequately identify all of the risks inherent to their business, factoring in changing weather and other environmental conditions? ExxonMobil follows an intricate operations integrity management system. This framework is built around 11 key elements of risk, each containing detail of the associated expectations. The scope, priority, and pace of implementation of these elements are based on the risks associated with the business. So how does your company's injury and illness prevention program apply to the specifics of your work? Review your company's policies and talk with your supervisor about creating job-specific safety considerations, especially for the challenges brought by these cold winter months. Whether working outdoors or in an office environment, consider the following: Check the weather forecast, and plan accordingly. You may need to leave yourself extra time to get to work or prepare for your shift. Additionally, if severe weather is approaching, your team may contemplate altering its schedule so that work is performed during optimal times per the forecast. Prepare your vehicle. Whether driving a personal or company vehicle, ensure it is prepared for winter weather. This includes checking the fuel and wiper fluid levels, as well as ensuring the vehicle is equipped with a snow scraper, snow tires, emergency kit, phone charger, blanket, and other winter precautions. Assess your personal protective equipment. Cold weather may require you to take specific precautions with your personal protective equipment (PPE), such as wearing different PPE than normal. You should also examine whether the weather could impact the effectiveness of the PPE. Assess your equipment. Like PPE, you may have to acquire different or additional equipment to safely complete your tasks to prevent unnaturally forcing your regular equipment to do the job. You may also want to evaluate whether your equipment will maintain its integrity in the elements and what necessary precautions should be taken. Perform housekeeping. Snow and ice have the potential to mask hazards. By routinely performing good housekeeping, you mitigate the chance of injury from these hidden threats. Stay warm and dry. Hypothermia, frostbite, and other cold-related illnesses are very real. Extra breaks and warming stations may be needed. If working in the elements is unavoidable, consider engaging in a buddy system to monitor the well-being of your co-workers. Do not compromise safety for progress. There may be times when weather or illness lead to teams being short-handed. This may cause challenges to arise that must be identified and mitigated prior to beginning work. Communicate. If the weather is especially bad, ensure your team has a communication chain planned to notify employees of any alteration to the work day, including early dismissal or office closures. Remember, conditions in extreme winter weather may change quickly, and you are ultimately the one responsible for the safety of yourself and those working around you. Therefore, familiarize yourself with your company's injury and illness prevention program, and talk with your supervisor about how it specifically applies to you and your team. Discuss considerations now, because they may result in precautions that prevent an emergency when winter weather strikes. Jenna Hefley is the senior safety writer for Vesta Construction Websites, Posted on Feb 06, 2019

Trucker Deaths at Record Levels: A Completely Avoidable Tragedy

Trucker Deaths at Record Levels: A Completely Avoidable Tragedy Driving a heavy-duty truck remains one of the nation’s deadliest occupations, "with on-the-job deaths of truckers setting a record in 2017," reported. That year, 840 truckers lost their lives on the job, 6.6 percent more than the 786 reported by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics for 2016. The number of heavy-duty trucking deaths has risen by 25 percent since 2011. The article identified several common causes of driver deaths: distracted driving, excessive speed, and lack of seat belt use. Deaths from each one are completely avoidable. The common thread is poor decision-making and behaviors. With that in mind, who can best prevent these tragedies—the individual, his/her employer, or the government? It's not the government. While laws and enforcement are critical deterrents, behavior is the key to safe outcomes. You can have all the laws you want, but at the end of the day, safety is about making the right decision, even when no one is looking. Speeding is a choice. The decision not to wear seat belts is a choice. The decision to drive while distracted is choice. When it comes to responsibility for safe outcomes, both the company and the driver are in the best position to reduce deaths while behind the wheel. This boils down to creating a culture where accountability is a non-negotiable core value. If behavior is the key to safe outcomes, then accountability is the key ingredient to driving acceptable behaviors. Accountability is an overused and poorly defined term. We need to think about two distinct types of accountability—individual and organizational. If both types are woven into a company's DNA, excellent safety outcomes are more likely. Individual AccountabilityIn a culture where individual accountability exists, employees govern themselves. They own their behaviors, which means putting the phone down, controlling their speed, and buckling up. When employees are accountable for safety, they are self-aware. They govern themselves. The individual employee always is in the best position to prevent harm. Watch for signs that individual employees may lack the accountability to operate safely: They pass the buck to another person. It's never their fault. They know the correct process but elect to circumvent it. They do not fully understand how to perform a task but make no effort to seek clarification. These individuals take shortcuts. The problem with shortcuts is that they work. Until tragedy strikes. The employees text and drive. Because they've not had an accident, they conclude that it is safe. It's not safe. These employees are simply lucky, and their day of reckoning will come. Organizational AccountabilityIn a company where organizational accountability exists, people have an unconditional respect for process. Employees are well trained, and rule violations are strictly enforced. Accountable organizations are committed to continuous improvement. They realize that safety is a journey with no finish line. Where organizational accountability is lacking, the following will be evident: The company accepts bad behavior and tolerates excuses. Over time, the employers learn who is operating recklessly, who is not using seat belts, who is behaving badly. Yet they do nothing about it. They may look the other way, especially for "productive" or favored employees. In short, the company enables poor individual behavior. Processes and expectations are not clear. Employees are not properly trained. There is no single set of best practices to follow. Absent a process-driven environment, employees are more likely to improvise, thus increasing the risk of making the wrong decision. Demands are not reasonable. There is an overt or tacit understanding that productivity trumps safety. The company does not recognize safety as a non-negotiable core value. A mentality exists to "do whatever it takes to get the job done," even at the expense of safety. If individual and organizational accountability are tightly woven into a company's DNA, safety failures are reduced. Employees and those around them return home safely each night. This happens by creating a non-negotiable culture of accountability where excellent behaviors are recognized and employees are weeded out if they are unable to correct their poor behaviors. Brian Fielkow is the CEO of Jetco Delivery, Inc., Posted on Jan 30, 2019

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 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