Preparing Your Workplace for an Active Shooter
It’s heartbreaking to acknowledge that violence in the workplace occurs. According to the CDC more than 15,000 employees became a workplace homicide victim over the last 20 years. Four-fifths of these injuries were a result of gunfire.
It’s difficult to imagine something like this would occur where you work. Yet nearly half of all shooting incidents take place in commercial locations.
Survivors of active shooting incidents have successfully sued their companies for neglect in not offering defensive training on how to handle such situations. Refusing to address the potential hazards of an energetic shooter in your office might also be a violation of the OSHA Health And Wellness Act.
It’s important to help your staff understand the potential danger of a situation as well as how handle one should it occur.
First, be on the lookout for employees that show signs of:
- Radical changes in behavior.
- Aggressive behavior such as yelling, pushing, or intimidating others.
- Outward aggressive anger toward coworkers or supervisor.
- Increasing frequency of referencing violent actions.
Encourage your staff to be aware of and report these indications to their supervisor, security or police as required.
You should also ensure your staff knows how to stay safe.
Most active shooter incidents happen quickly and last minutes. You need to train your team to be prepared for potential scenarios, as well as when to leave, shelter, or fight in place as necessary.
Leave– This is the primary way of protection, provided there is an available path to safely escape. Training should include emergency contact processes and how to quickly evacuate facilities.
Shelter– Occasionally escape is not possible. Your staff will need to find a safe hiding area. Places to hide should be out of the active shooter’s line of vision and be very easy to evacuate if the situation changes. Good hiding places allow your team to secure or blockade doors.
Fight– This is a last resort. The key is to distract or incapacitate. Methods can include screaming, hand-to-hand protection strategies, and also improvising weapons.
Finally, you should be sure your team understands how to behave when the authorities show up. When evacuating the building, advise staff to leave personal items behind and keep their hands empty, up, and clearly visible. They also must comply with instructions issued by law enforcement.
And also remember, we’re only a phone call or email away if you have questions about workplace safety and how it impacts your insurance costs.
Office mishaps happen. They happen regularly and some are severe. OSHA requires employers to take all reasonable actions to protect their personnel from office injuries & work-related health challenges. To comply, it’s vital that you have procedures in place for evaluating accidents that occur.
1. Establish what took place. You’ll need to analyze the scene of the mishap (including any type of equipment utilized during the occurrence), speak to the injured staff member (when possible) as well as collect the accounts of various other workers that witnessed the occurrence. Collect the names of the injured parties, descriptions of the injuries or damage that occurred, and also a timeline of the case.
Questions to Ask:
- Where did the occurrence take place?
- What was the employee doing at the time of the accident?
- Was the employee participating in a brand-new work procedure?
- Were other employees in the area?
- Just what were the witnesses doing at the time of the occurrence?
- What injuries resulted?
- What damage did the mishap create?
2. Identify why it took place. Office accidents hardly ever happen in a vacuum. Accidents happen typically due to moving too quickly, overconfidence, disregarding security procedures, and also lack of prep work. Examining the details will help you determine the underlying causes.
More Questions to Ask:
- What are the conditions where the issue occurred?
- Was the staff member qualified to carry out the job?
- Was the worker properly trained to perform the operation?
- Was the employee making use of appropriate tools and equipment?
- Were these tools/devices in good condition?
- Did the employee comply with all business safety and security policies?
- Was the employee receiving appropriate guidance?
3. Establish how you can protect against future mishaps. Leverage a situation to help you discover how to prevent future situations.
Questions to Consider:
- What short and long-term actions can you take to eliminate such events in the future?
- Do you have to adjust your work environment safety and security methods to ensure compliance?
- How do you handle assessing your environment and personnel?
If you would like more info on best practices to handle workplace safety, please contact our insurance team…
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) compels employers to ensure that their employees’ working environment and conditions are safe and free of any apparent dangers. Workplace safety inevitably requires strict training and inspections in order to be effective, as well as complete adherence to all the regulations and rules that are set in place. Most workplace accidents and ailments are able to be prevented by following strict protocols and safety plans.
Employers should never ignore their staff taking shortcuts that compromise the health and safety of their day-to-day operations. Cutting corners and ignoring health and safety regulations could lead to hazardous and inevitably life-threatening situations that could negatively affect you and your employees. Below we have highlighted 5 workplace safety mistakes that should be avoided at all costs.
1. Ignoring PPE rules
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) should be worn throughout the entirety of any tasks that require it. Uncomfortable temperatures or overly-nonchalant attitudes should not excuse employees from wearing their PPE at the appropriate times. Conducting periodic PPE assessments allows you to comprehend the PPE that is necessary for your workers and working environment. It is your responsibility as an employer to ensure that your employees are provided with well-fitting PPE that protects them during their day-to-day duties.
2. Using incorrect tools
Using an incorrect (or makeshift) tool for a job is inevitably hazardous and inefficient. Even if a tool is similar to the appropriate one, it is still not advised to use it. Tools are built for specific applications; forcing tools to do things that they are not designed for is inherently dangerous. Employers should always provide their workers with the appropriate tools to carry out their duties.
3. Skipping routine machine inspections
You should always conduct routine machine inspections, even if a machine seems to be working as it should. Machine breakdowns and maintenance procedures can crop up when you least expect them, so be sure to stick to your scheduled machine inspections. Have certified professionals conduct thorough machine inspections that can alert you to any subtle hazards or problems. Though this may take up your time, having an expected machine breakdown in the middle of a busy day can be catastrophic and dangerous.
4. Refusing to review annual safety guidelines
Your business inevitably changes and evolves over time, and your safety guidelines should evolve too. Reassess your safety guidelines every year and be sure to educate your employees about them regularly. You should ideally train your employees with regards to workplace safety regulations on a regular basis, especially if you make changes and modifications to your facilities or processes. The latest version of your health and safety guidelines should always be available for your workers to peruse.
5. Using ladders instead of scaffolding (and vice versa)
Scaffolds and ladders are not interchangeable; they have their own specific purposes. Swapping either of these pieces of equipment for the other can lead to serious injuries and fatalities. There were over 800 fatalities as a result of falls in 2015; it is of the utmost importance that employees working in elevated areas are provided with robust and appropriate equipment for ascending and descending heights.
Always remain organized and proactive when it comes to workplace safety; an accident will occur when you least expect it. When an accident does happen, following the appropriate health and safety guidelines will allow you to rest assured that your employees are as safe as they can possibly be. It also covers your back in the event of legal proceedings and insurance claims.
We’re always looking out for insurance information that affects your finances and your health too. Get in touch with us 24/7 and we will answer any insurance-related questions you may have.
A safe workplace is a function of how the management and workers of an establishment adhere to and communicate safety standards. Workplace safety is not all about policies and practice guidelines alone.
Strong workplace safety is built around encouraging employees to identify unsafe behaviors and recognize opportunities for improvement. This will help them make well-informed safety decision while discharging their duties.
Below are Top 10 Workplace Safety Guidelines Each Employee Must Know to help you create a safe working environment centered on shared responsibility:
- Be Aware of your surroundings: this simply means being aware of the particular hazards associated with your workplace or job. After learning these risks, you will be able to avoid potentially hazardous areas and situations, as well as machinery.
- Keep correct posture to protect your back: if you do your job at a desk, ensure to align your shoulders with your hips to avoid backaches. When picking objects up, always bend appropriately so that you don’t hurt your back. Try as much as possible to avoid stooping and twisting. Using safety equipment and ergonomic designed furniture will also ensure that everything you need is within reach so that you don’t have to strain your back when you want to get them.
- Go on regular breaks: a majority of injuries and illnesses that occur in the workplace are because a worker is tired and burned out, making him not to be alert to his environment. Going on regular breaks helps a worker stay afresh on the job. A great tip for keeping alert is to schedule the most onerous tasks when your concentration is at its best; after you wake up in the morning.
- Use machines and tools properly: always follow proper instructions when using a particular device, avoid taking shortcuts as this is a leading cause of workplace injury. For example, using scaffolding as a ladder, or using a tool in place of another for a particular job is a huge risk. When you use the right tools the right way, you have significantly reduced the chances of workplace injury.
- All emergency exits must be easily accessible: you will need to reach the doors quickly and easily in case of an emergency. Also, all roads or entrances leading to equipment must be clear in case you will need to stop them from running during an emergency.
- Let your supervisor know about unsafe conditions: did you notice any safety hazards or risks in your workplace? Report them immediately to your supervisor. Legally, they are obligated to make a working environment safe for their employees. So they will take care of any reported unsafe condition to ensure you and your co-workers have a safe working environment.
- Use mechanical aids whenever possible: rather than trying to carry or lift a heavy item to save time during your workday, you could take extra time to use a wheelbarrow, crank or forklift, or conveyor belt. A lot of injury risks are associated with lifting heavy objects.
- Be sober: Many workplace injuries occur as a result of drugs and alcohol. Drug usage or alcohol consumption can compromise a worker’s ability to exercise judgment, coordination, alertness or concentration, motor control, and could expose him to different workplace injuries and fatalities.
- Minimize workplace stress: endeavor to keep workplace stress at it bearest minimum because it can result in lack of concentration or depression. Some examples of the common causes of workplace stress are a heavy workload, long hours, job insecurity, and conflicts with co-workers or managers. Discuss your workplace stress concerns with your supervisor and see if they can help you address them.
- Wear the correct personal protective equipment (PPE): a great way to reduce workplace injury is by wearing the proper safety equipment; lack of these may get you injured. Equipment such as earplugs, earmuffs, safety goggles, hard hats, gloves, or a full-face mask is recommended for specific jobs and can help reduce the risk of workplace injury associated with such jobs.
The business owner and facility manager must educate their employees on workplace safety efforts and encourage the workers to be active players in the process. By encouraging your employees to think and practice safety, you’ll control costs with reduced injuries. You’ll also reduce insurance costs.
And if you need to review your risk profile and get advice on managing risk costs, contact us anytime!
Stress is present in nearly any workplace. Daily challenges, deadlines, overtime and more can create short-term stress. For many, this short-term stress can evolve into harmful, long-term occupational stress. For an increasing number of Americans, long-term occupational stress poses serious risks to their mental, physical, and emotional well being.
Several studies by the American Psychological Association (APA) support this. In a 2012 study on stress, 65% of respondents reported their occupation as a leading cause of stress. A 2013 survey by the same organization found chronic occupational stress affected over a third of those surveyed. In both surveys, respondents reported lacking sufficient personal and professional resources for coping with stress.
For most people suffering from occupational stress, the stress and worry follow them home. Physical symptoms such as nausea, hyperventilating, anxiety and more can affect sleep patterns, diet, and much more. Over time, this can take a heavy toll on the body and immune system. Compounding the effects, many choose to self-medicate with alcohol, cigarettes, overeating or other mechanisms. These can lead to other health complications.
While it may be impossible to avoid workplace stress completely, taking steps to better manage occupational stress is. Learn how to identify and manage stress to reduce the impact of stress, and improve health.
Identifying Occupational Stressors
Occupations vary across the board yet many share similar causes of stress. These can include:
- Feeling a lack of control in the workplace
- Insufficient salary or benefits
- Volatile workplace
- High amounts of work
- Excessive overtime
- Mundane workload
- Conflicts with management
From the trades to the tech industry and everywhere between, occupational stress affects people of all ages.
Managing Occupational Stress
After spotting the causes of workplace stress, taking steps to manage stress may be easier. Knowing the root cause of stress can help with managing the related symptoms, and can help with removing the cause completely.
- Keep a journal. Keeping a record of stress-causing situations can help establish patterns. Over two weeks, record stressful experiences in the workplace. Include the persons involved, the scenario, and your own response. Also, include the effect the stress had on the remainder of the day both at work and at home. With a record, it may be possible to find patterns and establish healthy coping mechanisms.
- Establish healthy coping mechanisms. For many people, the immediate response to stress may be a cigarette, cheeseburger, or a beer after work. The next time stress becomes a bear, try a healthier alternative. Walking, stretching, and practically all physical exercise can help reduce stress. For others, the right coping mechanism may be pursuing a hobby or favorite activity. Getting the mind on something else can help reduce stress and anxiety while keeping the body healthy.
- Create communications boundaries. This can be one of the most challenging to accomplish. The benefit of smartphones is balanced by an unbroken tether to the workplace. It can be challenging for both employees and employers to keep communication to established working hours. The right balance will depend on the person and profession yet setting schedules for checking email and other correspondence can help alleviate a great deal of occupational stress.
- Take personal time. Oftentimes, ambition and capability are greatly mismatched. Many experience occupational stress by working too hard, or too much. To help reduce stress and stay physically charged, take personal time. This can be in the form of vacation, a weekend, or simply disconnecting for the evening. A break can perform wonders for energy levels.
- Speak to a someone. Most supervisors want their employees feeling healthy and motivated. If workplace stress is taking a toll, speak to a supervisor for possible solutions. This can be creating strategies for avoiding or coping with stress, or other resources the company may have access to such as counseling, or an Employee Assistance Program. A good supervisor should appreciate proactive, personal care and be willing to help overcome these challenges.
The first step in overcoming occupational stress is recognizing it. Stress can feel like a large, immovable boulder yet with the right tools, it’s possible to manage and overcome. Check with us often for more on tips for living a healthier life.
Feeling a little frazzled at work? You’ve got company. Americans are dealing with increasing levels of stress in the workplace at the cost of their health. Some of it makes sense; after all, we’ve got a reputation for being workaholics. Of all those offered vacation days each year, only around half report taking any. Many employees also work weekends and overtime on a regular basis, leaving little time for decompression.
A 2014 study spearheaded by NPR revealed over half of American employees suffer from occupational stress in a given year. Of those, 1 in 5 reported suffering a great deal of stress. Occupational stress follows you home. Office anxiety can affect the body and mind at all hours.
The Top Causes of Occupational Stress
The study highlights a number of stressors common in the workplace. While these represent those occurring most, there are a large number of potential stressors to elude. The most common causes of occupational stress listed in the study are:
- Occupational effects on personal health
- Safety hazards in the workplace
- Insufficient wages/Excessive Workload
- Unmet benefits demands
The list goes on but it’s clear overwork and under-appreciation rank high. Excessive stress can manifest physically through insomnia, high blood pressure, and a reduced capability to fight illness. High-stress levels are linked to anxiety levels and fluctuations in weight, leading to further complications. Before succumbing to occupational stress, take steps to manage workplace stress.
Managing Occupational Stress
Many management techniques are available to help reduce and eliminate stress. The right combination will depend on the individual. For some, there may be multiple stressors to manage. Tips for managing occupational stress include:
1. Find the source. Stress will be easier to manage once the stressors have been established. Personal methods may vary but experts recommend recording stressors over several weeks. What happened, your reaction, who was there and how you responded will all help in creating a record.
2. Choose healthy methods for coping. There are many ways to relieve stress and remain healthy. Exercise, reading, yoga, and meditation are just a sample of activities to get your mind off work.
3. Create boundary lines. Today, the lines between work and home are getting blurry. If work intrudes on your personal time, set times to ignore devices and decompress.
4. Remember personal time. While setting boundaries, remember to leave time for yourself. Half of the American workforce is leaving vacation time on the table. Take a vacation and relax a little.
5. Speak to a manager. If the stress continues to be an issue, speak to a manager. Good supervisors want to know if their team has an issue. Sharing concerns about workplace stress can lead to improvements.
6. Find a support structure. Some companies have employee assistance programs for supporting staff. For others, community and family may be the right solution. Overwhelmed? Speak to your physician or contact a psychologist.
Fight back. Learn how to spot, manage, and eliminate workplace stress to support living a happy and healthy life.
This past year, employees across the nation suffered debilitating injuries in the workplace. For many, injuries led to amputation and permanent disability. For other, their injuries led to death. After any workplace accident, questions arise about fault, and if future accidents are preventable. In the worst cases, companies place profits above people with often disastrous consequences.
A recently published study in the Journal of Accounting and Economics highlights the correlation between profit and injury. Utilizing OSHA statistics and earnings information, the results are a bit unsettling. For companies meeting or slightly-beating earnings forecasts, the impact on staff is the most significant.
Employment illness rates for firms with stressful quotas increase by 5-15%. Firms falling below expectations had high percentages of affected staff as well. On average, for companies just meeting earnings goals, approximately 1 in 24 employees will fall ill or become injured. For companies falling below, the ratio is only slightly less-alarming at 1 in 27.
According to the study, this is largely thanks to two main contributing factors:
- First, in firms striving to meet earnings goals employees often shoulder larger workloads to meet expectations.
- Second, firms may cut corners on safety and wellness measures to meet goals.
Managers pressured to perform often pass stress along to their teams. This can include longer hours, increased workloads, and more. A fatigued staff is often more prone to illness or injury. Maintenance of machinery and other equipment, safety training, and other welfare measures are oft overlooked in exchange for short-term earnings.
Several standout figures emerged from the study:
- Companies with union labor tend to have better safety records than others. This is largely a result of negotiated safety equipment, workload, and schedules. There is speculation that union employees may feel more comfortable addressing safety matters as well.
- Workers compensation rates may motivate companies to be safer. The study found that companies operating in states with high workers compensation rates tended to have a reduced number of workplace injuries. It’s theorized this is a result of companies employing better safety measures to reduce claims expense.
- Companies contracted by state or federal agencies scored higher for safety. This is likely due to government standards necessary for placing bids.
The study represents reported workplace injuries. It’s quite likely a large number of workplace accidents go unreported each year. In some cases, management creates a hostile environment. Other times, employees may be in fear of reprisal or termination. For many companies profits take precedence.
When companies sacrifice safety standards any short-term financial gains will be forfeited. An injury or death in the workplace, beyond the obvious tragedy, can have a significant impact on a business. Damaged reputation, insurance claims, and lengthy legal battles are the tip of the iceberg. Safety is always the best choice. If you own a business, practice safety and get protection. Call an agent for more information about commercial insurance and liability protection through GR Little.
The modern world is damaging eyes. Prolonged exposure to computer screens, phones, tablets and other digital devices can damage vision. The Vision Council estimates 83% of Americans spend 2 or more hours per day on a digital device. For many, this can be alleviated by limiting time spent on phones and e-readers yet for the average office employee, that may be a bit of a challenge. The American Optometry Association concluded the average American spends up to 7 hours per day looking at a computer screen.
Today over two-thirds of Americans report symptoms of Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS). Also referred to as digital eyestrain, CVS includes painful short- and long-term symptoms such as:
- Neck and shoulder strain
- Blurred and interrupted vision
- Migraine headaches
- Lost vision and more
Proximity to the screen, ambient lighting, and screen brightness can also contribute to CVS. The American Optometry Association warns of further complications should symptoms go untreated.
Approaching Digital Eyestrain
There are several steps to take that may help reduce the risk for developing Computer Vision Syndrome:
- Maintain an upright posture while viewing screens
- If prescribed corrective lenses, be sure to wear them
- Position device screens approximately 2 feet from the eyes
- Employ effective lighting to minimizes screen glare
- Look away from screens at 20-minute intervals for 20 seconds
- Reduce fatigue and dry eye by blinking often
A comprehensive eye exam can help detect signs of digital eyestrain. A medical professional can make recommendations for individual treatment solutions.
Check back often for more health and insurance information for getting the most from life. For questions about insurance, contact an agent today.
Office fires are responsible for approximately hundreds of deaths each year and thousands of injuries. That’s according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), tracking workplace safety and hazards. OSHA identified inadequate prevention measures, inaccessible exits, and poor training likely contributed to these numbers. Many fires can be prevented and the right training can help employees escape in case of danger. Evaluating current fire prevention measures, equipping facility and staff with responsive equipment, and incorporating employee training can all help reduce risk and injury from office fires.
The first step in improving fire response and prevention is to inspect and evaluate the workspace for any potential hazards for causing fires or preventing escape. Be sure to check:
- Electrical wiring. Overuse of extension cords and power strips can lead to potential fire risk. They also create trip hazards. Seek safe and permanent solution for electrical needs.
- Storage. Flammable materials have special storage instructions for preventing fires. Establish safe storage and ventilation procedures around the office or job site.
- Smoking areas. Designated smoking areas and cigarette-butt collection containers reduce the risk of accidental fire.
- Tools and appliances. Some tools and appliances have greater electrical requirements which may contribute to electrical fires if used in an unsafe manner. Check for the UL safety mark before turning plugging tools and appliances into electrical sockets.
- Exits. Check for the proper number of building and room exits and clear for ease of use.
- Emergency lighting. Check emergency lighting for function.
After evaluating current measures and practices improvements and additions can be made.
Lighting, sprinkler systems and alarms, and fire extinguishers all contribute to workplace safety. Depending on the size and layout of a workplace a combination of safety measures may help reduce risk. Fire extinguishers are an affordable and simple way to improve employee safety and reduce the risk of fire.
Different types of fire extinguishers are available for fighting different types of potential fires in the workplace. Individual requirements will help determine the right type of fire extinguisher for the workspace:
- Type A: Fights fires made from wood and paper materials.
- Type B: Extinguishes fires caused by flammable liquids such as gasoline, oil, and industrial solvents.
- Type C: Fights electrical fires.
- Type D: Fights fires related to combustible metals like magnesium, potassium, and titanium.
- Type K: Fights kitchen and grease fires.
Follow the regular maintenance schedule to keep fire extinguishers operable and ready in case of fire. Maintain access to fire extinguishers at all times.
Equipment and training go together. Teach staff on fire responsive measures and hold regular safety training to keep employees safe. Employee fire safety training can be structured to include training on:
- Finding and triggering fire alarms.
- Locating and identifying safe exits.
- Selecting and operating fire extinguishers.
Employers and staff should always place safety first. Train employees to evacuate any time they feel unsafe, the fire is too large, or exit may be threatened by remaining.
To learn more about workplace fire prevention and for other safety information, contact an agent. Fire prevention affects insurance premiums and coverage. Add safety measures and reduce risk. For more information about commercial fire insurance or for answers to insurance questions, call today.
Small-business owners rely on strong employees. The challenge for nearly all is finding strong employees, to begin with. Today firms of all sizes are using creative strategies for attracting and retaining great talent. For many, this means unique vacation incentives and other tantalizing packages, yet often-overlooked is simply creating a safe work environment. A safe environment promotes well-being and productivity.
Insurance veteran David Quezada says it is important for management to prioritize safety. This protecting the workplace, staff, and any visitors. Mr. Chris Edmonds, the founder of The Purposeful Culture Group, concurs with thinking. Edmonds says managers ensuring a risk-free workplace will reap significant rewards. It is important organizations of any size to invest in safety and accountability measures. Safety should be the required standard.
They may be on to something. Research shows companies operating in positive, risk-free work-spaces outperform those working elsewhere. Customers respond well to safe employees, and the opposite holds true as well. Firms neglecting safety soon find the phone lines quiet.
Recent small-business research shows only 17% of employees receive adequate workplace safety training. That number is eclipsed by those without any training, a whopping 25% of respondents. Employees without training will have difficulty adhering to safety standards. Initial and ongoing safety training is recommended for companies of all sizes.
Edmonds underscored the importance of safety-related correlating safety with competence and security. Safe employees are shown to perform better. A culture of safety begins at the top and spreads throughout an organization. Safety classes, manuals, and other materials may be helpful for training and reference purposes. Safety is an ongoing conversation in which employees and management should be actively part. Respond to safety concerns swiftly.
Safety assessments are recommended to evaluate employee performance and knowledge of safety policies and procedures. Safety is an active consideration. An organization with a well-defined safety culture stands to gain. Safety always takes precedence over profits. Be ready to invest in tangible and intangible safety measures to improve workplace safety and morale. Safety is easily achieved with the right attitude and strategy.
Insurance-related topics have a surprisingly large bearing on health and finances. Call anytime for answers to insurance questions.