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Saved by the Belt

Seat belts save lives.  According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), wearing your seat belt can reduce your chances of a fatal injury by 45%. NHTSA also reports that 90% of Americans wear their seat belts when in a motor vehicle. One state in particular is driving that statistic down. As the only state that does not require adults to wear a seat belt, New Hampshire has an average seat belt usage of only 70%, according to NHPR.

Motor vehicle accidents are a leading cause of workplace fatalities in America. Just because New Hampshire doesn’t have a seat belt law for adults, doesn’t mean employers shouldn’t have a policy in place. It is strongly recommended that companies make seat belt usage mandatory for drivers and passengers who are using vehicles on company time. Companies should have a written seat belt policy, as well as routine education for drivers and passengers on the importance of motor vehicle safety. Another effective method for increasing seat belt use is through establishing a seat belt pledge that employees sign to commit to wearing their seat belt.

To increase motor vehicle safety, Business & Legal Resources also recommends companies should:

  • Set safe driving policies governing employees who drive on the job.
  • Check driving records for all employees before they are allowed to drive on company business.
  • Require all employees to report any accidents or moving violations—even during personal driving.
  • Require them to report near misses as well—assure them that reporting near misses will not subject them to disciplinary action.
  • Establish procedures to investigate all accidents and near misses—the focus should be on eliminating the causes and preventing future accidents.
  • Establish rules for the use of company vehicles.
  • Institute a defensive driver training program for all employees (not just those who drive on the job).
  • Spell out provisions about using cell phones, texting, eating, listening to music players with earphones, or other distractions while driving.
  • Forbid the use of alcohol and drugs while driving.
  • Require drivers to obey speed limits and all other driving safety rules.
  • Define disciplinary action that will be taken for violation of company policy.

Your company’s most valuable asset is its employees. Help keep them safe by making them buckle up.

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Make Parking Lot Safety a Walk in the Park

Whether you’re arriving at work, the grocery store, or the gym, chances are you’ll find yourself in a parking lot. It may seem like a bunch of parked cars wouldn’t pose a safety risk, but studies have shown that approximately 20% of vehicle collisions and 20% of vehicle-pedestrian collisions occur in parking lots. Car accidents aren’t the only concern, however. Crime, weather conditions, terrain, and lighting are also concerns to keep in mind when parking your car in a lot.

Here are some tips to keep you safe:

  • Be aware of your surroundings. When in your vehicle, be on the lookout for pedestrians and other vehicles pulling in or out. Avoid using your cell phone or headphones. When on foot, stay to the sides of lanes and keep an eye out for moving vehicles.
  • Park with safety in mind. Backing into your parking space allows for better visibility when leaving your spot. At night, park close to your destination in a well lit area.
  • Be prepared. Keep the valuables in your car (GPS, purse, computer, etc.) out of sight. Always lock your vehicle. Have your keys ready when approaching your vehicle for quick access.
  • Watch your speed. Follow the speed limit and be mindful of crosswalks and stop signs. Stay in your lane and do not cut across parking spaces.
  • Watch your step. Be aware of slippery surfaces like ice and snow, and tripping hazards like potholes and raised sidewalks. Wear appropriate footwear in the wintertime. Use pedestrian walkways whenever possible.
  • Maximize visibility. Windshields, windows, and mirrors should always be kept clean. Be sure to remove all snow and ice from your vehicle before driving.
  • Buckle up! Always wear your seatbelt when driving. Don’t let slower speed limits fool you—accidents can happen at any speed.

For more information about keeping your employees safe in the company parking lot, please click here to learn about implementing a Snow & Ice Management Plan.

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OSHA Revises Regulation on Recording and Reporting Occupational Injuries and Illnesses


OSHA’s new requirements for recording and submitting records of workplace injuries and illness will go into effect January 1, 2017. The new rule requires certain employers to electronically submit injury and illness data that is already required by OSHA to be documented on specific forms (300A, 300, and 301). OSHA believes that by making this information publicly available, employers will be more inclined to improve workplace safety. The new rule is also geared towards ensuring that workers will not fear retaliation for reporting injuries or illness.

OSHA will be utilizing the injury and illness data to be more efficient with its enforcement and compliance assistance resources. Some of the data received will be posted to OSHA’s website and be accessible to the public. Employers will now have the ability to compare their injury experience with other businesses in their industry, rather than the industry as a whole.

In an effort to prevent employees from feeling intimidated when reporting an injury or illness, the new rule mandates that employers must inform employees of their right to report work-related injury or illness without retaliation. The procedure for employee reporting must be reasonable and not discourage employees. These provisions will go into effect August 10, 2016, with OSHA enforcement beginning November 1, 2016.

OSHA plans to phase in the following submission requirements over the next two years:

“Establishments with 250 or more employees in industries covered by the recordkeeping regulation must submit information from their 2016 Form 300A by July 1, 2017. These same employers will be required to submit information from all 2017 forms (300A, 300, and 301) by July 1, 2018. Beginning in 2019 and every year thereafter, the information must be submitted by March 2.

Establishments with 20-249 employees in certain high-risk industries must submit information from their 2016 Form 300A by July 1, 2017, and their 2017 Form 300A by July 1, 2018. Beginning in 2019 and every year thereafter, the information must be submitted by March 2.”

Businesses must still maintain their own injury and illness records, whether or not they are required to be electronically submitted under this new rule.

For answers to some frequently asked questions about final rule, please click here.

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Clean Up Your Act


From an early age we learn it is polite to pick up after ourselves, and while this is common practice at home, it should also be reflected in the workplace. It’s not only distracting to work in a cluttered environment, but it can also be hazardous. From tools left in the wrong place to spills left on the ground, poor housekeeping can put yourself and your colleagues at risk.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, slips, trips, and falls account for 15 percent of all accidental deaths and are the second highest cause of fatalities next to motor vehicle accidents. These types of injuries can be a result of poor housekeeping, so it is important to implement an effective housekeeping plan for your facility. Occupational Health & Safety Magazine recommends these five steps to a safer work site:

  1. Identify potential causes of slips, trips, and falls at your work site. Causes may include:
  • Slippery or uneven walking surfaces
  • Loose flooring or carpeting
  • Clutter or trash in walkways
  • Inadequate lighting
  • Unexpected placement of equipment
  • Damaged or improper use of ladders or step stools
  • Electrical cords or cables
  • Weather hazards (rain, ice, sleet, and snow)
  1. Devise a plan to eliminate potential hazards. Once you understand the nature of the potential hazards, develop a strategy to eliminate these problems. The plan may involve:
  • Assigning cleaning/tidying responsibilities to individual or groups of employees
  • Reorganizing the workspace so furniture or other objects do not create obstacles
  • Creating and using extra space for storage of tools and materials
  • Repairing damaged floors or walking surfaces
  • Creating traction on slippery surfaces
  • Ensuring that employees wear appropriate footwear
  • Keeping work areas and passages well-lit
  • Devising a clear notification process for employees to report dangerous conditions
  • Establishing housekeeping procedures as part of a daily routine
  1. Train employees in good housekeeping practices. To put the housekeeping plan into action, employers should have mandatory training programs for all employees that give a clear picture of the end goal. Good housekeeping can not only keep everyone safe, but also boost morale and productivity, making for a more pleasant work environment.
  2. Recognize and reward employees for adhering to the plan. Find out what motivates your employees to adhere to housekeeping plans and create recognition or reward programs around those factors. Be sure to reward and recognize employees that are honest about slip, trip, and fall injuries or near misses and those who come up with ideas to improve safety. If you only reward those who have had an accident-free year or quarter, it might lead to under-reporting.
  3. Stay vigilant. A good housekeeping plan continually evolves. Schedule regular reviews of the work site to assess whether your current plan is covering all the bases and how well employees are adhering to the plan. Also remember to organize periodic refresher training programs and keep employees involved in safety-promoting activities. This will help them remain alert to hazards and get the message that good housekeeping and a culture of safety is a true priority for the company.

Employee safety should be central to your organization’s mission. Cleaning up after a project, storing materials in their proper places or salting an icy walkway are all examples that contribute to that ultimate goal. Good housekeeping practices can save time, money and space, while also improving productivity, quality and, most importantly, safety.

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Too Close for Comfort

We’ve all had moments in our lives when we’ve narrowly avoided physical harm in the workplace. Whether you barely caught yourself from slipping on an icy walkway, almost tripped over a misplaced toolbox, or nearly placed your hand in moving machinery, these incidents are wake up calls to the ever-present dangers around us. These, “whoa, that was a close one” moments are known as near misses — and they should be taken just as seriously as actual accidents.

According to the National Safety Council (NSC), the difference between a near miss and an accident could be a fraction of an inch or a split second in time. The NSC maintains that a near miss is an accident waiting to happen, with safety experts believing many accidents are preceded by at least one near miss. The NSC states that if the hazards that cause near misses are not corrected, sooner or later there will be an accident, and someone could get hurt.

The first thing you should do in the case of a near miss in the workplace is notify your supervisor. Once notified, your organization can properly perform an incident investigation, which is not used to find fault, but rather to understand why the event occurred and what corrective actions need to be taken. It is imperative that the incident is brought to light as soon as possible so that the hazard can be addressed and future incidents can be prevented.

In Near-Miss Reporting: A Missing Link in Safety Culture, author Mike Williamsen writes, “We want to develop a culture that doesn’t wait until someone is injured, but identifies the risk before it happens.” Unfortunately, many employees are hesitant to report near misses so Williamsen offers the following tips to overcome this problem (as cited by Business & Legal Resources):

  • Clarify the expectation that employees report unsafe conditions or risks.
  • Provide employees with safety training.
  • Offer strategies to measure how near-miss reporting improves safety performance.
  • Recognize and reward employees for proactive safety engagement.

There are risks in even the most menial situations so be sure to follow your organization’s safety practices, wear proper personal protective equipment, and be on the lookout for potential hazards. The safety of yourself and your coworkers should be your number one priority. By addressing and fixing hazards as they are identified you will significantly reduce the risk of accidents and injuries in the workplace.

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The Hazards of Non-Routine Tasks

Non-routine jobs are tasks that are performed infrequently or for the first time. Since these tasks are not performed often, all of the hazards associated with the job can be easily overlooked. It is important to identify hazards associated with non-routine tasks and develop a procedure to safely carry out the job. Understanding the risks associated with any task can go a long way in preventing injuries.

This past April, a Trust Member’s employees were performing a non-routine task that resulted in one worker being seriously injured. Working from heights is not a common task for this company, but the job at hand required employees to work from the roof of their building. After accessing the roof, one worker walked across the rooftop to assess the day’s job. The worker was wearing a harness and planned to properly tie off – he had only been on the roof for a few minutes and had not yet started working. While walking across the roof, the employee unknowingly stepped onto a piece of insulation that was flush with the sheet metal roofing and fell 17 feet to the concrete floor below. The fall resulted in the worker suffering a concussion and multiple fractures.

Lessons are learned through every near miss and unfortunate workplace injury. Thinking proactively and identifying hazards before starting a task can help prevent these incidents. A Job Hazard Analysis (JHA) is the standard method to identify and address risks in any task. The purpose of a JHA is to create a safer work process by breaking a task down into basic steps, analyzing those steps for risks, and developing methods to eradicate those risks.

Injuries can occur when we do not take the time to think about the risks before beginning an unfamiliar task. Prior to performing non-routine work, it’s important to consider what could go wrong and the injuries that could result. Having a well thought out and documented plan to perform tasks will help keep your employees safe.