Low Barrier Methods to Increase Workplace Safety

For many industries and jobs that need more safety measures, often the employees can be resistant. We heard guys who install 700 ft cell towers refuse to wear safety helmets because “If I fall, I die. Wearing a helmet won’t save me.” Ask them to use a parachute and they don’t want to. Remind them they could fall 10 feet, and get caught by the safety tether and get slung headfirst, upside down, into a cell tower–knocking them out or killing them–and still they aren’t interested. Some men are made for those tough jobs and they want them to stay tough, come what may.

However, not everyone wants to make jobs as dangerous as possible, and we have crowd sourced a few hacks, some obvious, some unique, that have some real appeal.

Unlock Phones. This certainly doesn’t have to be a must, and I doubt it even can, but rather just an understanding: while you are on the job, your phone is unlocked or otherwise people have the code to get in. This is helpful to get in touch with your people should something happen, offers bystanders a way to use your phone to help you in the event no on else is around, etc. There is a small chance that someone will steal it or find it on the job and punish you for it, but in dangerous and remote environments, the safety is worth the security breach.

Whistles. Buy some whistles. We recommend the ones that don’t have a pea, as that is just one more thing to go wrong. They are cheap. Put them on your person. Alert people when you need help.

Mobile Medical Alerts. There are tons of different types of medical alert pendants and devices, too many to name, and these are mainly created for seniors to help them when they have fallen and can’t get up. However, there is a chassis here that is getting help to a specific location (the pendant or some kind of beacon) with the push of a button. Depending on where you are working, in remote areas of wilderness or the like, you might need an emergency signal that only requires one action: a button push. You don’t need to fire off a text or enter a thumb print or talk to anyone on the CB. These come in wristband alerts, pendants, watches, and tons of other options.

Safety Glasses. I know you’ve heard this one before, but hear me out. For your team, get into why they won’t wear them. If it’s style, I got news for you: there’s tons of safety sunglasses out there and they don’t look half bad. Plus, they are cheap. Obviously, OSHA requires them in many spots, but often legacy of the vibe of the company can override this, even if the boss gets fined (likely because they boss hates it, too). If it’s not style, there is no shortage of scary videos of what happens to people who don’t use eye safety. Continue with this line. Continue with losing vision and losing an eye. It is a forever thing in most cases.

Masks. Dumb as it sounds to you even feels even dumber having to write it. Masks work to stop the spread of COVID-19. This has been proven in tons of ways, I’m sure you’ve heard them all before. If one of your employees has it and everyone isn’t masked up, depending on your work environment, everyone is likely to get it. Then nobody can work. We are in a weird space right now where there could be lawsuits when forced to wear them (and wear them properly, and lawsuits for not wearing them and getting sued. Time will tell. For today, you have to enforce this. Do it nicely. When people are on company property, they will be wearing a mask, same as the bosses. If anyone says this is personal freedom, they are also free to leave if they don’t want to follow the rules, same as almost any building where you have to wear shoes and a shirt.

Why Commercial Fishing is Such a Dangerous Job

Ever seen Deadliest Catch? Then you know what commercial fishing is, and you know they pay a hefty check to anyone that decides to be a part of it. Some chalk it up for the time you have at sea, but the real reason for the gracious payment is far grimmer 
 
When you are out there at sea for months on end, grinding out the hours to catch the quota of sea life you were given, your life is the ocean-in more ways than once. Once you are on that boat and in the ocean, there is no going back until the time is up. Meaning that a world-record-breaking storm can come across the sea, and you’d have to hope for the best, even if the percentage of survival was slim. This often happens on a much smaller scale.

While out there in the storms, many boats are capsized, and many of the fishermen are often thrown overboard in the storms, lost to the waves from the sheer force of the currents. There are even instances of whirlpools in the ocean, that swallow boats whole. Never to be seen again. Not to mention the gear you operate with can easily harm you if you do not handle it properly or if something goes amiss. So, in short, to go into the commercial fishing business is to gamble with death. Every day you are on that vessel you are thankful you are alive-because there is a big possibility that the day after you may not be. 
 
So, next time looking into commercial fishing, remember all the dangers, the possibilities of death. They’re very real. 

Threat of Coronavirus should Re-Double All Workplace Safety Initiatives

Safety should be practiced in the workplace every day to protect employees and vendors from accidents and illness. With the threat of the Coronavirus, companies are advised to put in the extra effort to educate and protect employees from infection. Below are some guidelines to follow for the Coronavirus. 
 
Educate your employees about the virus and inform them about good hygiene practices. They are washing their hands, covering their mouths when coughing or sneezing, cleaning tools and work surfaces, keeping their distance from sick, people, and not touching their face unless they have washed their hands. 
 
OSHA recommends that companies develop an Infectious Disease Plan for the virus. They should provide information from state and federal agencies on where to go for treatment and updated information. The plan should have ways to reduce risk to employees, allow for time off, flexible work shifts, less business travel, health supplies needed, letting people work remotely, and allowing for delayed deliveries for supplies. 
 
Companies should think about cross training employees to account for possible absenteeism in the workplace. Its important too have an area for workers and visitors to wash their hands or provide alcohol based hand rubs. Encourage employees not to use equipment, used by other employees like telephones, computers, and mechanical equipment. Regular cleaning services should be used daily.  
 
Send sick employees home, or isolate them and provide transportation home or medical facility when necessary. Allow workers stay home and do not require a doctors note because most medical facilities will be too busy to comply. Allow time for employees to care for other sick family members. 
 
Provide protective equipment gloves, goggles, face masks, and respirators when needed based on their risk of infection. These are a few guidelines for companies to follow during the Coronavirus. 

Best Workplace and Employer Practices During Coronavirus Outbreaks

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have described Coronavirus (COVID 19), as a health pandemic. There is a lot of anxiety surrounding the spread of the virus. Due to the pervasive coverage of the virus, employers need to address rising concerns to their workers.  
The confirmed infection cases are rising globally. The main transmission of coronavirus is through the respiratory tract. After exposure, the symptoms will occur within two to fourteen days. According to the CDC, Americans are at a low health risk of getting the disease. Nonetheless, employers need to ensure employee safety.  

According to the General Duty Clause, employers need to ensure employment environments are free from recognized hazards that can cause physical harm or death. Employers should advise sick employees to work from home. This will prevent sick employees from spreading the disease to healthy ones. Additionally, employers should encourage healthy practices in the workplace.  

Employees should use alcohol-based hand sanitizer to wash their hands for at least 30 seconds. Consequently, the working environment should be routinely cleaned. Disposable wipes should be provided to the employees to wipe commonly used surfaces. If employees exhibit respiratory illness symptoms, employers should send them home.  

To prevent and control the spread of the virus, both employees and employers need to monitor trusted health sources for any new information released. Reviewing such sources will help them in managing their travel schedules and checking the symptoms of the respiratory illness. Monitoring trusted health sources would also provide accurate information on preventive measures of avoiding coronavirus.  

When dealing with sick employees, employers should be flexible with sick time and other out of office policies. Their main aim should be implementing policies that support the suspected infected individuals. 

Building Safety through Teamwork

Safety performance is more than a reflection of a solitary safety leader. In most cases, it is the result of a team effort and commitment to a common goal. Employees perform better when they feel valued and cared for. Imposing safety rules are only part of the equation. Teamwork will foster a sense of community and allow workers to feel proud of the work they complete. Here’s what you should do to build better safety teamwork performance.

 

Compliment, don’t criticize. Complimenting your teammates and workers has several benefits. Their self-esteem will improve, you’ll feel better about your role, and you’ll look for reasons to think better of others. Offering compliments allows you to focus on what your team requires, and honing in on that need will allow individuals to get the respect and admiration they need. It brings a team closer together, which allows them to perform better.

 

Focus on improvement. Whether you work through seminars or self-improvement lectures, do what you can to improve the abilities and decision-making processes of everybody on the team. This will allow them to support each other and maintain a sustainable safety performance through better quality work.

 

Inspect, don’t expect. Regularly inspect the work and progress of the team. Don’t nit-pick or micro-manage. Instead, provide autonomy and ask earnestly about progress and how to better engage all members. If you provide a team the freedom to approach management with issues you empower them to propose solutions.

 

Provide credit. Looking out for one another requires participation from every member of a team; no individual can let their guard down. Everyone should be committed to the idea that each member has a value. When you praise a team and give credit where it is due, you boost morale and camaraderie, which will improve performance and self-confidence.

 

In implementing these four actions and mindsets, you allow your team to naturally build camaraderie. This relationship will allow them to self-regulate and hold each other accountable. Looking for additional resources and tips? Check out this page about teamwork safety.

Occupational Medicine is in High Demand, Short Supply

When we discuss Working on Safety, we’re often talking about best practices in the workplace and industry-specific safety precautions. But even the best-run companies can’t completely eliminate every safety risk, and many are increasingly looking to provide workplace-related health services to their employees. Moreover, workplace safety and employee health go hand-in-hand and have a direct impact on productivity and loss management and, thus, the bottom-line. Preventative and proactive health programs means better moods, better morale, and better decision-making.

 

Expansion is hitting a bottleneck. As such, the market for occupational medicine has been growing at a strong to breakneck pace over the last decade. Even now, signs of slowing growth isn’t so much about demand flattening out as it is insufficient supply of medical providers. Of course, occupational medicine isn’t the only healthcare sector that’s experiencing a shortage of doctors and nurses. See the Occupational Medicine Market Report from Decision Databases with forecasts that extend out to 2024.

 

Providers are Diversifying. One way that the market is finding ways to narrow the gap of this unmet demand is the entrance of other health providers into the market for occupational medicine. Family practices, urgent care, orthopedic doctors, and collaborative programs between specialized health professionals may generate supplemental revenue streams for their business by offering occupational medicine. In fact, given their existing services and competencies, these community health clinics and urgent care centers are, arguably, better positioned to offer comprehensive health resources to employees and employers than niche occupational health providers.

 

Demand Follows the Jobs Market. It’s also telling that in looking around the country for these types of crossover medical practices, it was easiest to find these groups and information about occupational medicine in major metropolitan areas known for cultivating a strong and productive workforce. Check out these pages from urgent care centers in Denver, Boston, and Seattle.

 

Local providers and institutional support. Of course, it runs both ways, and many of the health providers that took advantage of the initial, rapid expansion of occupational medicine when first starting their practice have also diversified their healthcare services over the years. There are also several national and international healthcare organizations that focus on occupational medicine. If you’re interested in learning more about how these organizations contribute to occupational medicine, we recommend you check out these pages from U.S. HealthWorks, Proactive Occupational Medicine, and Occucare International.

 

The Six Essential Traits for Good Safety Leadership

Safety leadership in the workplace is an important skill to develop regardless of your experience and position. Leadership itself is not a position; it is an attitude and a mindset that individuals bring to work every day. Safety leadership has a list of parts and traits necessary to be effective and long-lasting. Here are the six essential characteristics and actions you need to take to be a successful safety leader, whether you’re a first-time employee or a veteran employer.

 

  1. Remember: if nobody is talking, then nobody is listening. If nobody is listening, instructions are missed and people can get hurt. Communication does not only exist in the form of scolding and lectures. Instead, it involves conversation and consistent interaction. Communicate everything from safety hazards to workplace concerns.

 

  1. Leadership requires confidence—there’s no way around it. If a worker lacks confidence while performing a potentially hazardous job, others are put at risk. If you are not confident in your work, you are distracted.

 

  1. Honesty has two components: accountability and responsibility. If you deny accountability, you lack honesty. If you don’t know how to perform a certain task, speak up; you can’t fix what you don’t know, and sometimes that can be dangerous.

 

  1. No matter the job or adversity you are facing, you must always keep a positive attitude. This allows you to see what needs to be addressed and take action rather than wallowing in fear. If you can’t find a reason to be positive about a situation, it is likely unsafe. Discuss this with your staff and/or supervisor.

 

  1. Commitment. Commit to the job you were assigned; you’ll feel prouder of your achievements, work, and daily grind. If you’re not committed to a job, you’re not committed to doing that job safely. The more committed you are, the more confident you will become.

 

  1. Invest all your focus in your surroundings. This allows you to see what is coming and prepare for it. Observe first, internalize the situation, then act. This will allow you to address potential safety concerns before they become issues.

 

 

“Sending People Home” is Not Always the Answer

The idea of sending your employees home is not enough to guarantee safety. In fact, most employers use it as a way to show their employees that they have a commitment to safety; you would rather let the person spend the afternoon relaxing than risk an accident in an unsafe work environment. In reality, this is the least an employer can do for their employees—it’s what your workers will expect. Stating that you are committed to sending people home safe is a guarantee that does not warrant explicit mentioning. It doesn’t make you a safe leader, and it shows that you are only committed to the minimum expectations of workplace safety.

 

Sending people home safe is, literally, the least you can do for your employees—by law. No employee expects to get hurt on a specific day. When you tell people that all you care about is getting them home safely, you’re merely reiterating an expectation they already have. Rather than using empty words, put your ideas into effect by actually enforcing safety standards. Do what is beyond the minimum to ensure a safe work environment.

 

Rather than sending your employees home safely, think about what you could be doing. You could be sending them home better—with an understanding of workplace safety codes and the promise that they will not be hurt on the job. Send them home with a sense of pride in the quality of work they do, the employer they work for, and the team they work with. Inspire them to be better employees, to look out for their co-workers, and to extend the safety leadership you’ve already displayed.

 

Rather than emphasizing that you want to send people home safely, focus on the educational tools your employees need to do their jobs correctly. Sure, if an accident happens, send the employee home. But don’t make this the most important aspect of your approach to safety. Understand that there are steps you can take to improve the workplace for everyone.

 

How to Hold Constructive and Productive Safety Meetings

Safety meetings aren’t fun for anyone—the presenters are likely focused on relaying the communication as quickly and efficiently as possible, and the attendees are likely bored senseless. In reality, safety communication meetings should step outside what is boring and predictable in order to present information in such a way that your employees retain all essential tips. Make a plan for employees to stay engaged by ditching boring statistics, figures, graphs, and performance charts, instead opting for hands-on learning. Workplace safety is one of the most important topics you can cover in a meeting; make your time count. Here are our three tips for holding better safety meetings.

 

  1. Don’t. Use. PowerPoint. Create safety meetings that engage employees with each other, not with your organized screen. Sure, you can use PowerPoint for yourself as a means of organizing thoughts, but don’t project it in front of your employees. Don’t walk into your safety meeting with a shopping list of topics to cover. Instead, engage the employees, encourage them to discuss topics with one another, and use language to help them understand the implications of workplace safety misuse.

 

  1. Facilitate a Call to Action. You want your employees to view safety differently at the end of the meeting. You want them to understand how misuse and negligence and impact their lives, as well as the lives of fellow employees. Articulate a clear, concise, and passionate call to action for your employees to take and remember after the meeting. Never think of your meetings as a way to fill time. It’s not enough for your employees to simply know the information; they have to actually do something with it.

 

  1. Present one idea at a time. Organize your meeting around themes and topics. Simplify your presentations through careful planning and shorten meetings to one thought at a time. This will allow your employees to better absorb the important information. If there are any supplemental materials or ideas you would like the employees to know, send them in newsletters, emails, or handouts. Don’t be afraid to schedule several shorter safety meetings in place of one, several-hours-long seminar.

 

In following these three steps, you can nearly guarantee that your employees will better absorb and retain essential workplace safety information. Always send them home with a handout of covered topics and make yourself available for questions both before and after the meeting.

 

Know Your Rights

If you are an employee in the United States, you are entitled to a safe workspace. Several federal laws require employers to provide a space free of known health and safety hazards. If you have a question about a health and safety issue at your workplace or would like to discuss your rights as a worker, you can call OSHA toll-free at 800-321-6742. You can also visit your local OSHA office.

 

A safe workspace should include the ability to be trained in a language you understand. You must be able to work on machines that are safe and be provided necessary safety gear. Below are a few additional workers rights to which you are entitled:

 

  • Protection from toxic chemicals
  • The ability to request an OSHA inspection and/or speak with the inspector
  • Report injury or illness
  • Receive copies of medical records
  • Receive copies of a workplace injury and illness log
  • Get copies of test results gleaned to find hazards in the workplace.

 

But what happens when something is wrong? How do you speak up without fear of retaliation? You have several avenues to pursue. If you believe your working conditions to be unsafe or unhealthful, you can file a confidential complaint with OSHA and solicit an inspection. Though workers can do this without discussing the situation with their employer, it is recommended you bring it to their attention. Regardless, see the Department of Labor’s website for instructions on how to file a Safety and Health Complaint.

 

If you have chosen to inform your employer of a specific safety-related situation and have experienced a form of retaliation—a demotion, firing, transfer, &c—you are entitled to file a whistleblower complaint. It is illegal for an employer to retaliate against a worker for utilizing their lawful rights. For instructions on how to file a whistleblower complaint, visit the Department of Labor’s Whistleblower Protection Programs website. Take care to file this complaint within 30 days of the alleged retaliation.