Archive for the ‘Workplace Safety’ Category
Supervisors have a lot to keep track of. Management means more than assigning work. Managers maintain a list of responsibilities affecting workplace safety. Effective supervisors create safe environments through action and training. Staff trained to spot and report safety issues create a safer environment. To promote a safe environment for industry, apply the following methods to the workplace:
Encourage staff to locate hazards, maintain awareness, and perform work safely. Train staff on any protective equipment necessary, and label all steps for emergency response. Ensure completion of all mandatory safety training courses, and keep accurate records.
Supervisors are responsible for more than getting the job complete, it must be completed safely. Safe practices apply to careers from the office to construction. In some cases, managers may need to create methods to reduce risk in the workplace. Employees with open communication with a manager will be able to report any safety concerns.
Fast response to safety concerns builds trust and creates a safer environment. For situations beyond a manager’s control to resolve, take any immediate action necessary to keep worker’s safe. Report to higher management and follow-up until resolved.
The majority of workplace claims begin with an unsafe environment. Managers training staff to spot safety hazards and remove them to see reduced workplace-accidents. Once hazards are located, take any proper safety and removal measures. Prevent further employee contact with hazards until resolution.
Follow-Up on Claims and Reports
Effective managers investigate all reports of unsafe situations in the workplace. Inform staff members on the proper steps for reporting workplace incidents to the OMS (Occupation Medical Service). Stay compliant. The National Institute of Health (NIH) requires reporting of all workplace injuries. Working with OSHA, the OMS investigates and resolves workplace hazards and injuries. Address any official employee-claims forms promptly.
Encourage a Speedy Return
The longer employees remain away from the workplace, the less likely it is they will return at all. Encourage workers absent from the workplace due to injury to return to work as soon as medically cleared. Consider any physical limitations caused by injuries, limiting employee duties if possible. Keeping teams motivated, safe and effective helps managers succeed.
A lot can happen in a workplace. Add the human factor and anything is possible. The right training, communication, and processes can help keep employees safe and insurance costs low. Talk to an insurance agent today for tips on keeping rates low through workplace safety.
Check often for more valuable information about insurance topics affecting health and wallet. Have a topic to share? Please send any topic requests. For any insurance-related questions contact an agent today.
The recent shooting in Vegas is a grim reminder: active shooter scenarios occur all too often. According to the Department of Homeland security, over 1500 workplace shootings happen in the past year. Many of these shooters are on destructive paths, bent on hurting as many people as possible.
The National Safety Council recommends active shooter preparedness become part of workplace safety plans. These strategies can help workers survive an active shooter:
Run as quickly as possible. Take the opportunity and encourage others to as well. There may be active gunfire. Avoid any unnecessary risks and leave the area.
Emergency responders may already be on-scene. For safety, keep hands visible and follow instructions from emergency personnel. Keep hands above the head. Relay any information about the shooter to police and rescue personnel.
Unsure of shooter location, blocked from exiting, or otherwise unable to leave the area? Hide. Lockable rooms and doors make good barriers. Place objects against the door for added security.
Turn electronic devices off. Workplace shooters may hear a ringing phone, text message, or other audible tones. Turn phones and other devices off.
Shooters may be too close to run or may force action. As a last option, fight active shooters and overcome them. Attack and aim for weak areas such as the neck, groin, and face. Anything in the area becomes a weapon of opportunity. Chairs, extinguishers, and other office supplies are fair game. Subdue a shooter as best possible and let law enforcement handle the rest.
Safety and security are important. Speak an agent today about this or other insurance-related material.
Too much computer, phone, or e-reader use may harm your vision. Computer Vision Syndrome (also referred to as digital or electronic eyestrain) results from prolonged use of electronic devices. This concerns the average American worker who according to the American Optometry Association averages seven hours per day using a computer or electronic device. CVS has many painful symptoms. You may experience a single symptom or any combination. Symptoms of Computer Vision Syndrome include:
- Blurry vision
- Head, neck, and shoulder pain
- Vision loss, and more
Poor lighting, screen proximity, and screen glow can further exacerbate these conditions. Persons with poor posture and those with poor baseline vision may be at increased risk for CVS. For most people, CVS symptoms and discomfort cease after time away from a computer or device screen. Yet for some, symptoms continue long after. American Optometry Association (AOA) warns these symptoms, left untreated, may cause further damage.
What to do About Eyestrain
Evidence of CVS is detectable with a comprehensive eye exam. If diagnosed with CVS your eye-care professional will recommend the best treatment plan for you. Treatments vary due to symptom and patient but often, the following recommendations may help alleviate eyestrain:
- Train your eyes. Vision therapy can help train and improve how your eyes and brain interact, reducing the workload.
- Position your screen. Keep your computer, tablet, phone and other devices at the right distance and angle from your eyes. The best position for your screen is 15-20 degrees below eye level and 20-28 inches from your eyes.
- Avoid the glare. Avoid screen glare by closing any blinds or drapes on your windows. Use lower watt bulbs in lamps or overhead lights. Anti-glare screens are available as well.
- Sit upright. Keep your chair upright and your feet flat on the floor.
- Look away. Try to budget 15 minutes every two hours for a screen break. This can help your eyes recover. You can also practice the use 20-20-20 method. Every 20 minutes look 20 feet away for 20 seconds.
- Blink! Blinking regularly helps maintain eye moisture, reducing fatigue.
We’re always on the lookout for great information about insurance topics that may impact health and finances. If you have any insurance-related questions be sure to reach out to us.
News of disgruntled employees seeking revenge against employers and coworkers is on the rise. More and more, employees use violence and deadly force at the workplace. News of workplace violence appears almost daily in the headlines or on social media. Based on real or perceived wrongs, employees use violence at work to settle their scores.
What We Can Do
Aggressive behavior often takes time to build. Employees becoming agitated will usually begin to show warning signs. Warning signs may include:
- Trouble with coworkers or supervisors
- Domestic problems spilling into the workplace
- Substance abuse issues
- Aggressive outbursts
Some companies use proactive methods to get to know their employees. Working to identify these issues may help avoid trouble later on. Many more companies use a wait-and-see approach, risking catastrophic consequences. Employers may fear legal culpability should intervention measures fail. If an employee became violent after company involvement, they may face accusations. Should the company overreact with an employee instead, they may face discrimination charges.
The increase in workplace violence calls for a change. Employers must abandon the wait-and-see policy in favor of proactive measures. Failure to act may result in terror and violence. No one can predict when and where violence will strike. Still, there are certain ways you can prepare. Protect yourself against workplace violence with these 5 steps:
1. Employee Training
Employee training provides the most-effective measure in the event a worker turns violent. You may also consider engaging a professional security expert. Security experts take employees through drills simulating active shooter scenarios and provide training. These experts claim two types of employee training exist for countering this threat:
- Prevention. Train your employees to be proactive in preventing workplace violence. Employees are a ground-level resource for identifying potential indications of violence in colleagues. Employees can report suspicious activities or behavior matter to management for follow-up.
- Protection. Train your employees on how to protect themselves if violence erupts. Employers can access The Department of Homeland Security’s “Run, Hide and Fight’’ video for training. The video details tools to best to survive an active shooter scenario. It offers practical advice on how to handle the situation, and to come out alive.
2. Be Vigilant
Many active shooters are still employees of the company when they begin shooting. It may be a snap decision due to an event at the workplace or premeditated. In both cases, certain actions or events may point to violence before it happens.
These may be aggressive habits or behaviors, threats, intimidation, or a focus on certain employees. Proper policies and procedures can help prevent violent behavior before it occurs in the workplace. Monitor terminated employees until they leave the premises.
3. Be Aware
If a staff member is in trouble with the law, take it upon yourself to find out why. It may be innocent, or it may be indicative of future workplace woes. Employees dealing with court and family matters may be more prone to acting out in the workplace.
Special considerations may be necessary to avert any issues at work. Employees suffering outside stress may need attention. In some cases, time off, counseling, or reduced workload can ease their burden.
4. Encourage Communication
Open workplace communication can help identify any risks or concerns. Openly-shared information about workplace dissatisfaction or domestic troubles can help you best respond. Keep your security team informed, and ensure you are attentive to employee needs and concerns.
5. Develop An EAP (Emergency Action Plan)
Any company with over 10 employees should develop an Emergency Activity Plan (EAP). An EAP guides users on the best procedure for dealing with an emergency. EAPs cover any number of general emergencies, and emergencies specific to your business. Your own EAP can include what to do in case of an active shooter. An active shooter EAP can outline employee actions, assembly points, and other useful material. Emergency Action Plans should include drills to familiarize employees in case of violence.
Employees need training on how to respond to active shooters now more than ever before. No single strategy or plan is perfect, but planning and training can help you avoid tragedy.
There are many insurance topics and ideas that have a bearing on our health and finances. Please get in touch with us for any questions touching on personal and business insurance matters.
Do you feel anxious and overwhelmed at your job? You’re not alone. In 2014, the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, in partnership with National Public Radio and the Robert Timber Johnson Foundation, conducted a survey on occupational stress. This study found that one in five employees reported high levels of workplace stress in the past year. 37% reported experiencing at least some level of occupational stress at their job.
Causes of Occupational Stress
The America Psychological Association tracks causes of occupational stress. The most common causes include:
- High workload
- Low chances for career advancement
- Poor pay, and
- Work that is unrewarding
Other causes of workplace stress include poor comprehension of job expectation and a sense of lacking control.
Common Effects of Occupational Stress
Job-related stress doesn’t end after you leave work. If your office anxiety follows you around, it has the power to affect your physical and psychological health.
- The APA reports even short-term exposure to stressful work environments causes digestive complaints, headaches, irritability, and difficulty concentrating.
- Chronic anxiety causes insomnia, high blood pressure, and can weaken your immune system.
- High stress causes chronic anxiety, weight disorders, and heart disease.
The APA reports employees with high stress-levels may cope by indulging in high-calorie foods, using excessive tobacco, abusing alcohol, and even medication abuse. This can lead to more health complications.
Manage Occupational Stress
To help manage occupational stress the APA suggests taking the following steps:
1: Track the causes of workplace stress. Over a period of several weeks, record stressful workplace events. This will help you to determine what events in the workplace cause your anxiety. Record your reactions including:
- How you felt at the moment
- The people involved, and
- How you responded.
Identifying these details can help uncover patterns in the stressors and your reactions.
2: Develop healthy coping mechanisms. When you’re anxious do you turn to alcohol or food as coping mechanisms? When you’re feeling stressed, try to find a healthier stress reliever. Exercise and reading are great examples of stress-relieving activities. Always be sure to get adequate rest.
3: Set boundaries. Is your job creeping into your personal life? Sometimes jobs make us feel like we need to be available at all times. When this happens, create work-life boundaries. Try to ignore your phone during dinner, and avoid checking your work email after-hours.
4: Take time for yourself. Don’t give up your vacation days! Take time to relax when you can. This can help you feel rested and prepared for the workday, improving your mood and performance. You can even sneak relaxation techniques into your workday. Spend a few minutes during break meditating, breathing deep, or stretching.
5: Talk to your manager or supervisor. Explain you’ve been under a lot of stress. This isn’t about complaining. It’s about sharing a workplace concern with your supervisor. If you’re having trouble with stressors in your workplace, speak to a supervisor about finding a solution.
6: Get Support. Determine whether your workplace has an employee assistance program. If so, use this system to get the support you need. If you still feel overwhelmed, or do not have access to an assistance program, you may want to seek the help of a psychologist.
We’re always looking for information about insurance topics that may impact your health, and your pocketbook. If you have any insurance-related questions, contact us for answers.
While evaluating injury and diseases that affected previously healthy members of the United States Navy and Marine Corps, something surprising was discovered…
…Skin disorders were one of the most common job-related conditions that military personnel were receiving treatment…
Chris Rennix who is the head of the EpiData Center at the Navy and Marine Corps Public Health Center made the discovery. (The center is located in Portsmouth, VA.) Chris also serves as the chair on the American Industrial Health Association’s Occupational Epidemiology committee.
From a business perspective, the high incidence of skin disorders is usually ignored because it’s an easy problem to resolve. The cost of treatment is low and does not significantly impact budgets.
Surprisingly, skin-related diseases and conditions are the second most common type of occupational hazard according NOISH. (The National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health.) More than 13 million employees in the United States are estimated to be exposed to chemicals which can affect the skin.
Some of the most common work-related skin diseases include sensitive cell dermatitis, irritant contact dermatitis, skin cancer, and infection. NOISH, cites the following as source of these diseases and disorders:
- Chemical Exposure: toxic compounds irritate the skin through a series of reactions. Repeat exposure to these compounds can lead to the development of allergies
- Physical agents: hot or cold substances and radiation
- Biological Agents: Plant, animal materials, bloodsucking insects or bugs
- Mechanical trauma: bruising, cuts, and friction
Exposure can occur due to a few different causes such as splashing, immersion, inhalation, or contact with any polluted surface.
Employees who work in healthcare, construction, foodservice, and cosmetology are at the highest risk of exposure.
To go a step further, any type of work environment that requires regular handwashing, hand hygiene, and chemical exposure can lead to a work-related skin condition. Almost all people have some risk of exposure.
NOISH also notes that irritants can be absorbed through the skin without an employee being aware. If the substances can pass through the skin, they have the potential to enter the bloodstream and cause systemic toxicity. Examples of common irritants include pesticides, herbicides, nickel, and formaldehyde. However, many products like chemicals, oils, medications, and dyes can play a part.
Approximately 90-95% of job-related skin diseases in the United States are contact dermatitis with the hand being the primary area of exposure. This finding was discovered by the Wellness Result Research Laboratory at NIOSH. The two types of work contact dermatitis are the following:
- Irritant: This is approximately 80% of all instances of work-related cell dermatitis. In this condition, the skin is exposed to a dangerous substance which causes inflammation of the skin as well as damage primarily in the area of contact.
- Sensitive: This is a situation where an employee is exposed to an allergen which triggers an immune response that involves skin inflammation with repeat exposure.
The sensitive type is more difficult to regulate because when you become allergic, it only takes a small exposure to have that response again.
A high number of allergies develop as a result of occupational exposure to metals. Approximately 10-15% of people have allergies to at least one type of metal.
The two types of cell dermatitis have similar symptoms so telling them apart can be challenging without testing. The extent of the dermatitis depends on the concentration of the material, the period of exposure, and the skin’s condition.
Some individuals have lost their job over this condition. Once a person has developed this type of condition, their physical response to exposure can be dramatic. For example, a person who operates in the aircraft sector and is exposed to hydraulic fluid can have a reaction where their fingers swell. They can’t work in that area any longer.
Diagnosing skin diseases is also difficult because many people see a doctor and then never follow up so there is no way to determine the cause of the problem. Determining what’s actually caused the irritation can be difficult after the fact.
Everyone is exposed to chemicals in their daily life. The soap that you use can create this type of response. Many people who develop a reaction have more sensitive skin in general. It’s unclear what has been the cause as it could be a work-related exposure or an exposure made in the home. If you’re in an area that only uses specific chemicals, you can undergo tests to determine which one was the cause. Many people deal with a wide range of chemicals so it may be difficult to determine the culprit in that case.
Respiratory and Skin Effects
Direct exposure to the skin usually occurs when the skin comes into contact with a polluted surface or when the chemical is applied to the skin. This exposure can take place irregularly and unpredictably so determine your exposure can be difficult as you may not know what, how, when, and where you were exposed.
Direct exposure through breathing in the chemical has been one of the most common risks in an office setting. Determining the cause of the direct exposure such as smoke or dust is sensitive and common but there are no standardized techniques for measuring and evaluating as reported by NIOSH. However, there has been an increased interest in evaluating and measuring exposure.
In order to prevent any skin-related problems in the workplace, OSHA recommends substituting potentially harmful chemicals with safer alternatives, changing job procedures to minimize direct contact, or using personal protective equipment, excellent hygiene, and isolation precautions.
The conventional work-related controls which can be used to protect employees from skin irritation are the following in order of importance:
- Eliminate the threat
- Substitute the harmful material with a less dangerous option
- Ensure regulation such as a ventilation system
- Control the environment through changing work methods as well as employee education
- Personal safety equipment such as gloves, coats, and masks
- In environments that require higher than average hand washing, offering lotions can also help.
In addition to these controls, it’s also recommended that companies carry out a risk analysis to help evaluate the potential skin allergens or irritants that are used in the work environment.
Each employee plays an important part in preventing work skin problems so they need to be aware of their own health.
Employees should be trained on proper hand hygiene, how to protect skin with lotions, and how to wear personal protective equipment to minimize skin exposure to irritants.
They should also be encouraged to report any concerns to a manger. Employees should be assessed by a health care professional if they suspect that they have a work-related skin disorder.
And while it may seem like a lot to go through, helping employees protect themselves can have a significant positive benefit to the bottom line. (By reducing medical related absenteeism, loss of good workers due to over-exposure, etc.)
For more help and guidance regarding Workplace Safety, be sure to reach out to us as we’re here to help and want to be sure you are connected with the best risk management resources.
* At a steel mill located in Seguin, Texas, a worker suffered burns to an area greater than 60% of his body after molten steel splashed onto him. He tragically died in a hospital three days after the accident.
* A 21-years old plastics worker was hospitalized for severe burns to his hand. He eventually had four fingers removed after he had an injury on his first day of work at a manufacturing facility in Elyria, Ohio.
* 400 employees at a factory in La Porte, Texas were killed after a toxic chemical was released due to a broken network of pipelines in the workplace.
These three examples are a few of many workplace injuries and even fatalities that have recently occurred. The question that crops up in these situations is whether companies sacrificed safety in exchange for profits.
The Journal of Accountancy and Economics recently released a study on this topic. In the research, they tested whether there was a connection between safety in the workplace and corporate management’s efforts to meet profit goals. To perform the study, researchers used workplace injury information gathered by the Occupational Security and Health Administration (OSHA) in the years from 2002-2011. They matched safety information to the reported earnings information. The study included a sample size of 35,350 findings for 868 companies. (Financial services companies and other companies in regulated sectors were excluded.) The study focused on businesses that barely met their goals and found that there were greater workplace injuries in these businesses in particular.
The study’s findings were notable. Injury and illness rates for these firms are 5-15% higher than firms meeting or exceeding their forecasts.
The study found that increased stress to meet profit projections could be associated with workplace safety in two primary ways:
* Larger workloads per worker.
* Cost cutting, particularly around safety-related activities.
When managers think their business is close to missing financial targets, they try to boost productivity by pressuring workers into working faster or for extended periods of time. Additionally, workers can harm their own health by being tired or not following safety procedures that slow down the workflow. All of these actions pose a threat to employee safety.
Managers may also cut corners or ignore recommended safety procedures. This includes not following the recommended maintenance on equipment. This can also include cutting employee safety training and monitoring protocols. When managers fail to follow through on these areas, safety in the workplace quickly goes downhill and the risk of injuries increases.
What exactly does this mean for the average worker though? According to the workplace injury information gathered from OSHA, the ratio of injured worker to total workers is 1:27 in companies that meet or exceed financial goals. For firms that miss their targets, the ratio is 1:24.
Some surprising statistics were revealed as a part of the study.
Companies with unions tended to have lower levels of injuries than those without unions. It is believed this is due to unions negotiating mandatory protections for employees. It is also believed unionized employees have ways to report safety problems to union reps without fear of reprisal.
Companies located in states with high Worker’s Compensation premiums tend to have fewer injuries than those in states with relatively low rates. It is believed companies in high-cost states put a premium on safety to help keep their Workmans’ comp costs as low as possible.
Companies that perform a lot of work for State or Federal governments tend to perform better than those who strictly work in the private sector. This is believed to be a result of state and federal pass-through safety mandates that are often not present in private contracts.
As OSHA only collects information related to serious physical injuries, the report authors believe the information may represent the “tip of the iceberg”. The belief is that if the culture prizes profits at all costs over worker safety, the company may indeed face future additional financial pressures.
When managers and employees forget safety in the work environment and instead focus on short-term business targets, the results can extreme. At the business level, the costs of forgoing safety include penalties, lawsuits, expensive insurance rate increases, costly settlements, and negative press that can damage the business reputation. For employees, the cost may be higher and include injury, loss of wages, or, in the worst case scenario, their death.
If your business is under financial pressure, be sure to reach out to us on ways you can ensure you’re meeting safety requirements. We’ll help you evaluate your risk exposure and we’ll make sure you have the right insurance products for your budget.
Your workers will feel better knowing you place their safety first. That positive feeling can create productivity dividends of its own.
Although OSHA releases their top 10 most mentioned workplace safety incidents yearly, they don’t change significantly with each new list. If you take note of the workplace statistics, you may feel a little overwhelmed at the information.
Taking a firm but simple approach to workplace safety is best and recommended by the deputy director of OSHA’s Directorate of Enforcement Programs.
He recommends leveraging the top 10 list as a way to compare against your workplace environment. Would these hazards be present in your work environment? Using this list to get started is a good way to determine if you have hazards in the office.
1. Fall Protection
The total violations for this in 2016 was 6,906. This means that employees who are on surfaces either horizontal or vertical and were not provided with the appropriate protections against falls. Examples of these violations include unprotected sides or edges. steep roofs, holes, and skylights. All of these areas can cause injury if proper precautions are not in place.
2. Hazard Communication
This safety concern deals with chemical hazards. Either chemicals that are produced in the workplace or ones that are brought into the workplace. Citations in this area include not having a hazard program in place and training in the workplace on how to handle chemical materials that could be hazardous to health.
Scaffolding has to be designed by qualified individuals and constructed according to those designs. Employers are required to protect workers from falls and falling objects while working on scaffolding. This means having a guardrail system in place or other protections to keep workers from falling through scaffolding. This caused a total of 3,900 violations in 2016.
4. Respiratory Protection
This violation deals with ensuring employers have a respiratory protection program in place. This means ensuring that the workplace has appropriate respiratory protection standards in place as needed. Fit testing for respirators and medical evaluations for respiratory health are some of the key areas to maintaining adequate protection.
Electricity can be hazardous if not handled properly and lockout/tag out procedures for the servicing and maintenance of equipment are important to have and maintain in the workplace. Having general procedures and a general control program were two of the most common violations in this category.
6. Powered Industrial Trucks
Surprisingly, this standard in the workplace is actually 6th on the list and deals with the maintenance and operation of industrial trucks. Workplaces that have forklifts and hand trucks need to ensure safety standards in this area. This means having safe operation and certification standards for employees. Training is also essential in this area as well as ensuring that trucks are repaired and maintained on a regular basis.
Just like its name suggests, this standard has to do with any safety concern involving ladders and caused 2,665 violations in 2016. Portable ladder access was one of the top areas cited. Ladders are often not used for the purpose that they were designed for and ladders are frequently used with structural defects. Keeping ladder safety as a priority in the workplace is a key to avoiding this hazard.
8. Machine Guarding
This standard involves guarding of machinery to protect its operators as well as any other employees from hazards including rotating parts, sparks, and any other dangers possible during its operation. Machine guarding should be in place during its operation. Other primary concerns for machine guarding include anchoring any fixed machinery and guarding any blades, especially ones that are close to the ground.
9. Electrical-Wiring Methods
This standard means any violations related to improper electrical or wiring methods including grounding electrical equipment, ensuring appropriate wiring and insulation are in place. Protecting wiring from exposure is a key violation to avoid and can be a fire hazard as well as an employee hazard.
10. Electrical-General Requirements
This area is also designed for electrical hazards but is focused on the general safety requirements involved with designing electrical systems. Installation and use of systems are the top violations in this category. Guarding any live parts and keeping the space around electrical equipment free of potential hazards are also components of this category.
As you evaluate various workplace risks, be sure to reach out to us for suggestions on how to keep your Workmans Comp rates as low as possible… remember we’re here to help!
As a leading manufacturer Boeing offers a great example of putting workplace safety into practice. And Boeing has come a long way from the early days of ergonomics.
Boeing has a security vision that is rooted in their company culture. The company has core beliefs for their product safety and security. Boeing has an office safety initiative, “Go for no– One day at a time”. It has four primary concepts used to structure everything done.
The primary priority is human life and health, taking action to promote these goals. In addition to efforts designed for safety in the workplace, Boeing also puts an emphasis on health beyond preventing workplace injury. Often a workers’ safety and security can be maximized by decreasing stress and improving health through a balanced lifestyle. Boeing was named one of the “Finest Companies for Healthy Lifestyles” and they’ve taken steps to improve the general wellness of their workers.
All injuries in the work environment are preventable. Boeing tries to use its design and processes to lower the security and safety threats for their workers, especially the ones that work in production. One of the best programs that makes use of this principle is the Boeing location in South Carolina. It has the engineers work as manufacturing specialists to help them recognize and make improvements to each job. With this practical experience, engineering groups have been able to develop tailored ergonomic devices and improve job processes by eliminating potential hazards.
Each employee is made responsible for their own personal safety and also in charge of each other’s safety. Boeing encourages each staff member to take charge of their safety and to watch out for their teammates. Some workers model this principle very well, including examination specialist Roger Grenier. He’s become known for his dedication to maintaining safety. In just a single year of work, Roger worked to notice hundreds of safety concerns as well as point out improvements that were used to keep the workplace safe and eliminate any hazards. Because of his excellent work and dedication in this area, Roger was recognized as Boeing’s first “Safety Champion” in 2016.
By making safety a top priority, Boeing also found that it was able to meet goals for producing top quality materials as a normal part of daily activities. Making large planes and jets to fit client’s needs requires a full-time commitment to safety, quality, and performance. On the assembly line used to make 777 jetliners, a team of designers and manufacturing mechanics created a new option for moving the heavy power panels. In the past, moving and installing the panels had been linked to worker injuries. Using a rail system to move heavy loans in a tight space, this change significantly lowered the risk of injury while also boosting productivity at the same time.
Through safety workshops, groups develop lists of reasons why Boeing has not been able to reach its zero-injury goal. They write down the details of why each injury occurred. Then, they establish methods for the company to be free of injuries in the future. Each time the list grows shorter because of the value that’s placed on decreasing injuries.
Worker safety is best considered as a challenge to innovation. Changes that Boeing is implementing today, including automation, will have a significant impact in the coming years.
Remember that Boeing is a for profit corporation. It answers to shareholders. Safety efforts must comply with the law and be implemented in a way that positively impacts the bottom line. Boeing has recognized that safety always results in decreased costs and increased productivity.
So as you contemplate safety for your own organization, take a little time to reflect on what has worked so well for Boeing and see if you can implement some of these principles in your company.
Because cannabis legalization is expanding across the United States, many companies are concerned about how to go about drug testing their employees. They are also quite concerned about workplace safety. (As you may know, cannabis or “pot” is legal in some form or another in 28 states as well as our capital, Washington DC.)
Each state’s laws regarding marijuana legalization are different, making it difficult for companies to know how to manage their employees when it comes to marijuana usage by employees and location.
(This can be especially tricky if a company has workers split between multiple states where some states offer legalization and others don’t. For example, Idaho does not offer pot legalization but is bordered by 3 states that allow legalization in some form or another.)
To help give guidance, here are some steps to leverage in order to keep the work environment accident free with the changing tide in pot regulations.
First, it is important to understand that public opinion towards marijuana has shifted in recent years. Today, approximately 60% of the population supports the legalization of cannabis. While this change may be thought of as coming from younger adults, the change in attitudes is actually most significant in the population age 55 and older. A current study found that in medical areas where marijuana was proven to be beneficial, Medicare enrollees were significant users of marijuana.
So what can companies do though if they have employees that use cannabis?
Of course, safety is a primary concern for these companies. It is important that companies concentrate on the efficiency of their employees in addition to increased scrutiny on training and hiring processes. (This is really no different than how alcohol is treated in the work environment.)
These four extra steps can help ensure a safe environment:
1. Review job descriptions and determine what each job requires. Would an employee who uses cannabis in non-working hours influence that person’s capability to perform essential job duties?
2. Train managers how to identify impairment caused by marijuana use in the workplace. Review signs and symptoms of a person who has used cannabis.
3. Determine if drug screening is a good fit for your business. If it is, determine how to best do it with your employees. For example at their time of hire or additionally throughout the worker’s employment.
4. Consider the impact medicinal marijuana may have on policies. For example, where pot use is truly necessary for a given worker’s medical needs rather than being a recreational choice.
Research regarding marijuana usage indicates that the impacts of marijuana on a person’s ability to function changes drastically from user to user in addition to the type of work being done.
Of note, fewer than a third of studies found a relationship between marijuana use and reduced function.
For a complete understanding of how employee pot use may impact your safety risk profile, be sure to reach out to us for guidance. We’ll be sure to point you in the right direction.