Corporate America is all about return on investment. ROI is never far from the executive’s mind. So how do you sell the value of an injury that never happens and a claim that is never filed?
Certainly, you can visit the Department of Labor’s annual statistics and cite the cost of an average fall claim, lost limb, or fatality per industry sector. We can look at OSHA’s top 10 most cited violations and compare and contrast an organizations performance against that list. These statistics will take you only so far in gaining the financial backing for you safety management program. To be most effective, you should look at your organization’s overall corporate goals and tailor your pitch toward that message. How does safety support the achievement of those goals?
STEP 1: Change the Narrative
First and foremost, you must believe that safety is an investment that pays dividends in the end. You must overcome the notion that safety is an expense, or a non-productive line item on the budget. You must believe in the value of your safety initiative before you can sell the value to those who hold the purse strings. Safety pays. It’s up to you to prove it.
STEP 2: Find Your Supporters
Find others who believe in the importance of a safety culture. Work together to identify how the safety program supports corporate goals and benefits each department or division. Who is most impacted, and how? Be specific. If the mechanical division stands to reap the highest benefit, find ways to identify how, why, and where your safety program provides the greatest ROI for this team.
STEP 3: Gather Statistical Data
Review the loss history for your organization for the past five (5) years. Identify and trends or patterns.
• Does one department suffer more losses than others?
• Does one job classification within that department account for a majority of injuries?
• Does one work function have a higher occurrence of injury than others?
• What tools or equipment are used in this function or by these workers?
• What PPE are employees using and is it adequate?
• What materials are used in the production process?
• Do the tools, equipment, or materials contribute to the loss history?
• Could new tools, equipment, processes, or material suppliers increase productivity/revenue?
• Is there a training deficiency or worker knowledge deficit?
STEP 4: Know the Facts.
Compare and contrast your organization’s loss history against OSHA’s top 10 violations. Know what you’re doing well and where you need to improve. Report the facts: There were 5,147 work-related fatalities in 2017. Twenty percent (20%) of those fatalities happened in the construction industry. With the exception of auto accidents, falls are the number one work-related cause of fatality.
STEP 5: Assess Your Loss History
Once you’ve reviewed the loss history and identified the types of losses most commonly experienced by your organization, you need to calculate the cost of those injuries.
• What was the cost of these injuries over the 5-year period?
• What is the average cost for each type of injury (strain/sprain, fall, struck by, etc.)?
• What is the average cost in medical expenses?
• What is the average cost in lost time and production?
• What is the average cost in litigation?
• What is the increase in workers’ compensation insurance premiums over the 5-year period?
• Has your organization been cited and/or fined by OSHA over the 5-year period? If so, what are the total costs of OSHA violations?
STEP 6: Outline a Proposal and Projection
Once you’ve identified the cost of prior losses, you are better able to pitch the cost of your proactive safety management plan. Put a price tag on your plan and provide an itemization for the funds. Are you investing in software, purchasing safety equipment, or establishing an incentive program? Perhaps you are proposing all of the above (and more). Break down the cost of each component of the plan. What impact will the plan have on losses, and over what period of time? Quantify the savings and determine the ROI. How long will the plan take to repay its initial investment and ongoing funding? Not only do executives love numbers, they also want to see that you have done your homework. Be able to support your proposal with facts and figures.
STEP 7: Be Prepared to Compromise
Have a backup plan and be prepared to compromise. The most brilliant plans are sometimes met with resistance. Can you negotiate a phased rollout of the safety plan, over a period of time? How will that impact the proposal benchmarks? Create a basic framework ahead of time and be prepared to bargain.
FACT: Safety pays.
Injuries and fatalities cost organizations in time, money, morale, production, and reputation. Medical and litigation costs can easily exceed hundreds of thousands of dollars. Catastrophic losses can destroy a company’s reputation. Employee morale suffers when workers are injured, and fatalities take a horrendous toll on all.
And, in case you haven’t done the math, that’s 14 workers a day who didn’t make it home to their loved ones. These are husbands, wives, sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, friends, moms, and dads. It’s personal.
Does your company have formal safety policies in place? Are you responsible for workforce safety or risk management? Email us or give us a call at (816) 349-0850 to see how we can help design a safety and risk management plan that meets your unique needs.
Electrocution and Falls are the Top Causes of Death in this Work Group.
Ever watched a tree trimming crew clearing the right-of-way under power lines or a catastrophe response crew that clears debris caused by hurricanes and tornados? I tip my hat to these workers. Talk about a profession with multiple high risk hazards. Failure to follow safe work practices and industry protocols can easily result in death or permanent disability in the blink of an eye.
Tree trimmers work from heights on a routine basis, particularly if they are clearing around power lines or topping tall trees. They frequently work from aerial lifts, though a smaller residential job may be completed from the ground using pruning sticks or pole saws.
Ground crew works to clear fallen limbs and branches and feed them into a wood chipper. These workers frequently suffer strain/sprain injuries from lifting, tugging, dragging, and tossing limbs from their resting sites into wood chippers. Hand, wrist, and shoulder/rotator cuff injuries are common with these repetitive motions. The work is physically demanding and requires a substantial amount of twisting and bending, both of which are contributors to low back injuries and hernias.
POWER LINES, POWER LINES, POWER LINES!
Electrocutions and falls are the top two causes of death in this work group. Job assessments are critical in assuring the safety of a tree trimmer. Look UP! This simply cannot be stressed enough. Power companies should be contacted prior to work with a request to de-energize or insulate the lines with insulating blankets or hoses designed for this purpose. Whether or not that request is honored, workers should always assume a line is energized. This will keep a healthy respect for high voltage in place. An overly cautious approach is never a mistake, particularly when working near power lines.
Electricity is unforgiving. Fatalities occur in mere seconds. Non-fatal cases may include severe burns, blown out elbows, and other life-altering permanent disabilities. There is zero margin for error and no room for noncompliance with safe work protocols in this industry.
Falls are among the top 10 cited OSHA violations year after year and this industry reports a high number of fall-related injuries. Those injuries range from contusion to fatality and include every degree of injury in between – lacerations, broken bones, loss of limb, brain injury, and paraplegia included.
Fall arrest systems are critical to worker safety in this industry. Workers should be issued full body harnesses and understand how to adjust harnesses for proper fit. Each worker should understand how to inspect harnesses, lanyards, D-rings, and slings. This equipment should be properly stored and inspected regularly to assure its integrity. Any damaged or defective fall protection system should be removed from service immediately.
Catastrophe response workers should be aware of unstable conditions as they work to clear piles of brush and debris. These piles may shift and collapse, and create a significant slip/trip hazard. Waders or other protective footwear may be needed in hurricane or tornado-ravaged areas, as debris piles may hide additional hazards from the workers’ vantage point.
Safe work practices for this industry include anchoring to the tree, and exercising extreme caution when working on slopes. They must know the location of their personal safety lines in order to avoid coming into contact with saws. Trimmed branches should be dropped to the ground upon cutting and not allowed to remain to rest in the treetop. They must know how to notch a limb properly in order to direct its fall and reduce the likelihood of a struck-by injury due to a limb snapping back under pressure. This, of course, is a mere snapshot of all the thought and preparation involved in safely trimming trees or clearing storm debris.
A healthy respect for chainsaws goes a long way in this industry. For the sake of brevity, cuts, lacerations, and loss of limb will not be explored in this article. Suffice it to say that chainsaw injuries are ugly, serious, and unforgiving in their own right.
WHICH BRINGS US TO PPE.
Elimination of the hazard is always preferred (de-energize the power line). If the hazard cannot be eliminated, an engineering solution (insulated blankets that provide barrier protection) should be considered. Short of either of these preferred solutions, administrative and PPE controls must be considered. Administrative controls include JSAs and safe work practices, both of which are critical in this industry. Workers should understand the importance of assessing every job site for hazards prior to commencing work. Daily job briefings should be held with all crew members to assure each person is aware of the hazards present on site and the controls in place.
PPE is mandatory for this industry. Workers should be equipped with leather lineman gloves, protective sleeves designed for electrical work, chaps, and Class E hard hats. Use non-conductive tools whenever they are available. Eye protection (with side shields) should be worn to prevent injury from wood chips and sawdust. Hearing protection should be worn when operating chainsaws or heavy machinery. Face shields may be appropriate for some jobs. Safety boots with steel-toe protection, slip-resistant soles, and a defined heel should be worn to protect feet from falling limbs, saws, and other equipment. Loose-fitting clothing that can be caught in saws, chippers, and other equipment should never be worn while trimming trees.
Safety training and awareness is a high priority for all tree trimming businesses. Weather conditions seriously impact the ability to perform this job safely. High winds, rain, and lightning are all reasons to delay a job. Public roadways, parking, and pedestrian traffic (sidewalks) must be protected around the job site to prevent injury to others and damage to property. Trucks should be equipped with fire extinguishers, cones, and triangles. Flaggers may be required at some sites to maintain traffic control, and should wear high visibility vests at all times.
Keep first aid kits on all vehicles and make sure your crews have at least one person trained in CPR and first aid. Have an emergency plan that identifies the local hospital or emergency responder before work commences, and post these emergency numbers in a visible location so all crew members have the information available if needed.
The stakes are high when something goes wrong in this industry with multiple risk exposures and lots of moving parts. Be safe!
Does your company have formal safety policies in place? Are you responsible for workforce safety or risk management? Email us or give us a call at (816) 349-0850 to see how we can help design a safety and risk management plan that meets your unique needs.
The latest injury and fatality statistics reported by the Missouri Department of Labor for calendar year 2018 include the following:
There were 102 total work-related fatalities during 2018. These fatalities were attributed to:
- 25 automobile crashes
- 16 construction industry
- 15 transportation and warehousing industries, combined
- 11 public administration industry
Men represented the majority of all fatalities and the 50 to 59-year old age bracket accounted for more than 30% of these fatalities. August was the leading month for work-related injuries (16) leading to death, and July followed closely with 13. Wednesday was the most fatal day of the week, representing 22 of the 102 fatalities, and 21 of the deaths occurred on Mondays.
Motor Vehicle Crashes
Motor vehicle accidents are (and historically have been) the leading cause of worker fatality. The common misconception is that these fatalities occur in the transportation industry. While this industry certainly suffers its fair share of MVA-related deaths, it does not have the corner on this market. In our mobile society, business executives fly all over the country, home healthcare workers drive to and from clients’ homes, courier services and consultants operate on the highways daily. These statistics include crash-related fatalities for all industries and emphasize the importance of hiring safe drivers and enforcing a distracted driving policy.
Non-Fatality Work-Related Injuries
A total of 101,877 reportable injuries were recorded in 2018. Of those, 8,358 were lost-time incidents. Manufacturing and the healthcare industries typically run shoulder-to-shoulder for both lost-time and overall number of reportable injuries, and 2018 was no exception. Manufacturing led the way for non-fatal lost-time injuries, followed by healthcare and social services. The opposite is true when the sheer number of recordable incidents are tallied, with healthcare and social services edging out the manufacturing sector. Strains and sprains (or muscle tears) were the loss leader, with lifting being the number one root cause of strain injuries.
By comparison, there were 118 fatalities, 99,743 recordable injuries, and 8,246 lost-time injuries in calendar year 2017. There were 2,134 more reportable injury incidents and 112 more lost-time injury incidents in calendar year 2018. Fatalities, however, decreased by 16 – BIG WIN!
Loss Leaders in the Construction, Transportation, and Warehousing Industries
With the exception of automobile crashes, the construction industry is the fatality leader, largely due to falls, struck-by, electrocutions, and caught-between injuries. Construction workers routinely work from heights that require fall prevention and/or protection. They are surrounded by high-voltage electrical hazards and frequently work in inclement weather – a contributing factor to both falls and electrocution injuries and fatalities. Housekeeping frequently contributes to fall claims in this industry. Struck-by claims are common and often involve tools falling from platform scaffolding onto workers below. Workers suffer caught between injuries as minor as catching a finger in a pinch point or being pinned (partially or completely) between moving equipment and stationary walls or steel beams.
Planes, trains, and automobiles all fall under the transportation industry. The transportation and warehousing industries report large numbers of slip and fall claims. Inclement weather plays a large role in the number of truck drivers who slip and fall while descending the cab of a truck . Frozen precipitation on steps account for a large number of sprains and broken bones each year. Grounds crews at the airport operate tugs and carts and climb ladders in all kinds of weather . Overreaching in a warehouse may result in back, shoulder, or neck strain. Improper storage practices often lead to struck-by incidents resulting from products falling from overhead. Many of these injuries are preventable by using the right equipment for the job and following safe work protocols . Truck mechanics commonly suffer minor burns, hand contusions and lacerations, and muscle strain injuries. Truck drivers and warehouse workers alike are subject to caught-between injuries that frequently occur during loading and unloading at the dock.
Public Administration Risks
The public administration industry includes emergency personnel (police, firefighters, ambulance workers, CDC, FEMA, correction officers, etc.), government, and defense personnel. These workers face a variety of high-risk situations in the course of performing their routine duties. These situations may range from a disgruntled consumer to a domestic violence or hostage situation, a biological, environmental, or medical emergency, an active shooter situation, or a terrorist threat. Not only do these workers face typical workplace exposures, but they confront the potential for workplace violence on a daily basis. Public Administration workers accounted for 9,228 injury accidents, 880 lost-time incidents, and 11 fatalities during the 2018 calendar year.
Granted, these are raw numbers and not a complete statistical analysis (which would include numerous other variables), but the bottom line remains the same: 16 more workers went home every day in 2018 than in 2017. Is there any better benchmark for workplace safety?
Have you posted your Form 300A? OSHA requires this summary of injuries to be posted from February through April of each calendar year for all injuries and/or illnesses reported in the prior calendar year (2018, in this case). This form must be posted, even if your organization had no reportable injuries or illnesses during the 2018 calendar year.
OSHA recently rescinded the requirement that businesses with 250 or more employees must submit Forms 300 and 301 electronically. The Final Rule can be viewed here and goes into effect on February 25, 2019. This rescission of the electronic filing requirement does not, however, remove the burden of reporting work-related injuries and illness from the employer.
Most businesses with 10 or more employees are required to report “serious” work-related injuries and/or illnesses to OSHA on Forms 300, 300A, and/or 301. Several businesses have been identified by OSHA as “low risk,” and have been exempted from this requirement. Among those exempted businesses are car dealers, numerous retail stores, florists, gas stations, pipeline transportation businesses, legal offices, and numerous other professional service businesses (including civic, medical, scientific, and educational services). Minor injuries requiring only first aid need not be reported. The following explanations and definitions can be very helpful in determining an employers’ recordkeeping and reporting needs.
How does OSHA define “first aid?”
OSHA defines first aid as any treatment limited to non-prescriptions medications such as over-the-counter pain relievers, ointments or creams, the use of standard bandages, gauze pads, or butterfly strips, elastic wraps, temporary slings or splints, and other minor treatments such as removal of a splinter or similar foreign item from the body or the removal of debris/foreign body from the eye with water/eyewash or a cotton swab. Cleaning of minor wounds (surface lacerations) and tetanus shots are considered first aid, whereas Hepatitis B, rabies vaccinations, and open wound cleaning are not. Most first aid is administered immediately after an incident or accident occurs, and may be the only treatment received by the worker. An injury of this type would rarely require ongoing medical treatment. An injury of this type would rarely require ongoing medical treatment. Minor burns or lacerations are often treatable under this definition of “first aid,” and require nothing more than the application of topical ointment, a Band Aid, and perhaps a dose of over-the-counter Tylenol or Ibuprofen.
What is a “serious” injury?
All fatalities, loss of consciousness, lost-time injuries, injuries requiring light duty restrictions, injuries requiring ongoing medical treatment, or broken bones or teeth are reportable. Work-related illnesses such as cancer and other irreversible and/or chronic diseases are also reportable. There are special requirements governing needlesticks, sharps injuries, hearing loss, TB, and other injuries more specific to the medical field. Many fall injuries qualify as “serious” under this definition, as they commonly require follow up medical care such as prescription drugs, chiropractic care, physical therapy, or surgical intervention.
FORMS 300, 300A, and 301
Form 301 – Injury and Illness Incident Report
Form 301 is the initial reporting form and is required to be completed within 7 calendar days of knowledge of an accident or injury. This form is a general incident report and is rather self-explanatory. It collects general information about the injured employee (name, address, physician information) and what the employee was doing, how the injury occurred, and the nature of the injury or illness. For example, a warehouse worker may suffer back strain due to improper lifting or may strain his or her neck reaching overhead to extract inventory. The injury would first be reported on Form 301, and the injured worker would detail what work was being performed at the time the injury occurred.
Form 300 – Log of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses
Form 300 is a listing of injuries and illnesses for the employer’s place of business. This form collects information on injury severity, lost time, and light duty return-to-work data. The document also serves as a master log of workplace accidents and can be a valuable tool in identifying injury trends. This data is critical in developing revised work procedures and corrective action plans to reduce recurrences.
Form 300A – Summary of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses
Form 300A is completed annually, at the end of the year, and is required regardless of whether or not any injuries occurred during the year. The form tallies an employer’s average number of employees over the course of the calendar year and the total number of reportable incidents for that same time period. This figure is determined by following the instructions on the back of the form.
29 CFR 1904
Recordkeeping and reporting is governed by 29 CFR 1904, which outlines exemptions, record retention, variance requests, electronic submissions, and reporting protocols. This standard houses critical information such as:
• How to determine if an injury or illness is work-related (29 CFR 1904.5)
• What determines whether or not an injury is a “new case” (29 CFR 1904.6)
• Requirements for needlesticks and sharps injuries (29 CFR 1904.8)
• Criteria for work-related hearing loss (29 CFR 1904.10)
• Reporting requirements for fatalities, loss of eye or limb, and hospitalization (29 CFR 1904.39)
○ [NOTE: Fatalities (which may occur as much as 30 days from the date of the accident) must be reported within 8 hours; amputations, hospitalizations, and loss of eye must be reported within 24 hours]
• Retention requirements (29 CFR 1904.44)
Knowing what to expect, and what is expected of you, will help you respond confidently when an accident occurs. Reports of serious injuries may be made via telephone or online, so it is best to familiarize yourself with 29 CFR 1904 and be prepared to respond accordingly.
Are you responsible for OSHA recordkeeping and reporting for your organization? Are you responsible for workforce safety or risk management? Email us or give us a call at (816) 349-0850 to see how we can help design a safety and risk management plan that meets your unique needs.
Active shooter situations typically occur without warning and are over within 15 minutes. That’s a short window of opportunity to shelter in place and/or respond defensively. Being trained and prepared for the worst can help you better determine how to respond when faced with a real threat.
Keeping calm is critical in this situation. It is imperative that you be able to quickly assess your environment. Identify exits and evacuation routes. Determine the location of the shooter(s) and assess how many others are in the building. Depending on your position in the building and the layout of the structure, you should get to the nearest room and secure the door from the inside.
Your best option is always to evacuate, if possible. If evacuation is not an option, shelter in the most secure location available to you. Lock doors and hide beneath desks or behind heavy doors or furnishings that offer some protection. Barricade doors and windows with heavy furniture if time allows. Assess your surroundings and identify items in the room that can be thrown at the shooter or used defensively. You should only attempt to take action against the shooter if you are in imminent danger and have no other choice.
When police arrive on site, their primary task is to identify and immobilize the shooter or shooters. They must quickly assess the situation upon arrival. This includes processing the physical layout of the scene, placement of victims and perpetrators, and responding to rapidly changing conditions in real-time. Upon arrival, every person they encounter is a potential threat. You should stay in place until the police have issued an all-clear or emergency responders are able to assist you. Never rush the police upon arrival.
Plan for worst case scenarios in advance. Identify evacuation routes and potential shelter areas. Provide your staff with professional training. No one can predict when such an event will take place. Train your managers about the warning signs of potential violence by an employee. Every preventative step you can take is a step in the right direction.