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Posts Tagged ‘workplace safety’

Workplace Safety & Corporate Culture Go Hand in Hand

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.

Why Safety Issues Go Unreported

Most people go to work expecting a safe workplace. OSHA messages abound recommending safety tips and encouraging reporting of safety issues. Despite this, a large number of incidents occur each year, sometimes serious. To explain this, two groups conducted studies into workplace safety. The studies each reached a similar result: the solution to workplace safety lay in proper supervision.

The first study, conducted by the National Safety Council, was published in volume 45 of the Journal of Safety and Security. This study discovered a large number of younger employees unwilling to report safety issues due to real or perceived minimal workplace influence. Recognizing safety issues may also mean awkward interactions with supervisors, a refusal to work in a hazardous environment, or contacting safety entities.

Campaigns encouraging younger workers to recognize and report safety issues have been minimally successful, with many choosing to work rather than stir things up. Often, young workers hope someone else reports safety issues before an incident, or the safety hazard will resolve itself.

This sense of having little influence stems from age and experience. Many younger works assume any reports will go ignored or will amount to very little due to influence. Some employees find strength in each other and may report safety issues after building consensus.

The second set of results comes from a study from the AFL-CIO-affiliated Center for Construction Research and Training. This study surveyed construction workers, coming to similar conclusions. According to this study, construction workers may leave injuries unreported on the job site for many reasons. Of the 235 construction workers surveyed, 27% responded with having left one or more injury unreported.

Of the unreported injuries, over 70% went so because the worker involved deemed the injury “too small”. Other reasons for leaving injuries unreported included:

  • Becoming injured is part of the job
  • Avoiding appearing weak
  • The problem can be corrected at home
  • Unsure if the injury is work-related
  • Fear of losing a job or contract
  • Lacking paid time off to visit a medical professional
  • Keeping other work-related benefits

Regardless of size, injuries should be reported. Minor injuries left untreated may lead to greater problems later on. Some injuries will go unnoticed for months or years following an incident. Report all issues to safety personnel so they can make the decision. Unreported issues are bad for the company and staff. In the long run, untreated injuries may cost both parties far more than initial treatment or some rest.

According to the International Journal of Occupational Safety and Ergonomics, Volume 19, Number 1, the solution may lie in creating a culture of communication in the workplace. This method, also called positive error management encourages the sharing of near-accidents with management as a tool for learning instead of punishment. Learning how to avoid future accidents can help the company more than punitive actions.

Daily, open communication between management and junior staff helps employees feel comfortable reporting safety issues and other hazards. Supervisors can demonstrate they care by asking employees to share concerns before someone is harmed in the workplace.

This will likely send a powerful message to both new and existing employees. A supervisor has the ability to back up the talk with motivating actions that will get the point across. Encourage open communication and work toward a safer work environment.

Return for more great tips and info about insurance topics affecting health, home, and the pocketbook. For any insurance-related questions, call anytime.

Supervisors Are Responsible for Safety

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:

Staff Training

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.

Safe Methods

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.

Clear Hazards

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.

Active Shooter Preparedness

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:

1. Run

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.

2. Hide

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.

3. Fight

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.

Addressing Digital Eyestrain

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:

  • Eyestrain
  • Migraines
    Dry eyes
  • 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.

Workplace Violence is On The Rise: What You Can Do

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.

Dealing With Stress at Work

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.

Grappling With Occupational Skin Disorders

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.

Occupational Exposure

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.

Preventative Approaches

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.

Workplace Injuries Rise When Companies Under Financial Pressure

* 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.

Ten of the Most Common Safety Violations

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.

3. Scaffolding

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.

5. Lockout/Tagout

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.

7. Ladders

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!