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TOPIC: Cost-of-workplace-injuries

5 Ways a Commitment-Based Approach to Safety Improves Your Workplace

 

When we grew up, we were probably taught to remember to buckle our seatbelts. First by parents, later by teachers and ultimately when we learn to drive. While tougher seat belt laws have contributed to the rising use of seat belts, education and making seat belt use part of our everyday lives has contributed towards the trend and the decrease in accidents.

How much? According to the CDC, since 1975 seat belts have saved an estimated 255,000 lives.

Workplace safety culture is the same. Your company ultimately has two options, use a control-based safety environment or a commitment-based safety environment.

A control-based safety environment is based on the idea of doing the minimum needed to avoid being fined or punished. In this environment, safety is seen as a distraction from (or a hindrance to) productivity. Even when a company has safety councils in place, meetings often fail to generate positive action and safety concerns often don’t get the attention of upper management. The control-based safety environment fits into more traditional workplace models with specialized roles and rigid hierarchy.

A commitment-based safety environment means that safety is seen as everyone’s concern from the CEO down. Commitment-based safety is geared toward making safety its own reward and rewarding employees for being proactive in protecting their safety and the safety of others. Safety is seen as a necessary part of overall productivity and not as a hindrance or distraction.

While a commitment-based safety environment is collaborative and requires input from all levels of a company it has several advantages over a control-based model. Here are five examples of how a commitment-based safety environment can improve:

1. Productivity

In a control-based safety environment, lowest-common-denominator thinking rules and employees often find themselves pulled into a race-to-the-bottom mentality. Employees who wish to do more are discouraged by their co-workers and supervisors out of fear of reprisals or unwanted attention from upper management. This environment stifles productivity and employee growth. While there may be some short-term benefits to this mode of thinking, in the long-run it can only do more harm than good.

Creating a commitment-based safety culture requires that everyone from the CEO on down, plays a positive role in creating and maintaining a safe work environment. When that kind of culture exists, employee morale improves and with it, productivity increases, and absenteeism drops.

2. Personal Responsibility

In a control-based safety environment, employees often ignore safety warnings, forget to use PPE and don’t say anything if they notice a fellow employee isn’t using PPE. This leads to more accidents which can hurt morale and the company’s bottom line. In addition, supervisors need to spend more of their time “monitoring” employees to make sure they’re following safety best practices, needing to “nag” employees about these issues makes it harder for supervisors to effectively develop their teams in the long term.

When a workplace has a commitment-based safety culture, employees are more likely to take their safety and the safety of their co-workers more seriously. This means that they are more likely to use their PPE and follow safety rules without needing additional training and reminders. This also reduces the need for additional oversight from management, allowing managers to focus on growth and business optimization.

3. Communication

In a control-based environment, employees are hesitant to speak up when they see problems for fear of being labeled as a complainer. If they do speak up and don’t see a response to their concerns, they’re less likely to speak up again in the future.

With a commitment-based safety culture in place, employees are more likely to report potential safety issues because they believe that their concerns are being heard and taken seriously. This allows you to head off minor safety issues before they become serious concerns.

4. Bottom Line

For many businesses the only thing that costs more than creating a commitment-based safety culture is not creating a commitment-based safety culture. As the workplace becomes more specialized, it is harder than ever to replace skilled workers. A workplace injury or accident cost easily cost tens of thousands of dollars in medical bills, OSHA fines and legal expenses. A fatality can easily cost in the millions. And that’s only the direct costs. In addition, businesses often find themselves facing indirect costs including recruiting and training new employees and increased insurance costs.

Having a commitment-based safety culture may require an investment at the beginning, but it can provide a positive return on investment in the long term. In fact, OSHA has determined that every dollar invested in safety provides a return of $4 to $6 in the long-term.

5. Reputation

When employees feel that management takes their safety seriously and empowers them to make it a priority, employees are more likely to speak positively about your company. When the opposite is true, employees are more likely to air their grievances online. Don’t think this will affect your business? An Indeed survey shows that 83 percent of job seekers are likely to base their decision on where to apply based on company reviews and 46 percent will weigh a company’s reputation before accepting a job offer.

Ready to build or enhance the safety culture at your business? Talk to one of our safety advisors today and schedule an assessment.

 Arbill is a safety solutions company. We are all about protecting your workers in the workplace. Our mission is to keep workers safe and return them home safely at the end of the day. Visit arbill.com for more information about being safe and subscribe to Safer Every Day, the definitive digital magazine for workplace safety.

 Have a safe day!

 

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Lock Out / Tag Out (LOTO) Saves Lives

This past week, an employee at the Kraft Heinz Food Company facility in Mason, OH suffered a partial finger amputation while clearing a machine jam.

According to OSHA inspectors, the reason the employee lost a part of his finger was because the company failed to:

  • Implement energy control procedures to prevent equipment from accidentally starting
  • Install adequate machine guards
  • Train employees on the use of energy control procedures

In addition to having a valued worker severely injured on the job, Kraft Heinz is facing an OSHA fine of more than $100,000.

The tragic part of this story is that this injury could have been prevented had the correct Lockout/Tagout (LOTO) procedures been in place, and followed.

Avoiding Hazardous Energy

When a machine or other piece of equipment runs, it builds up different types of energy such as electrical, mechanical, hydraulic, pneumatic, chemical and thermal. Even when a machine stops or is “turned off” this energy can be trapped in the machine, waiting to be released.

OSHA provides three examples of ways that employees can be injured by hazardous energy:

  • A steam valve is automatically turned on burning workers who are repairing a downstream connection in the piping.
  • A jammed conveyor system suddenly releases, crushing a worker who is trying to clear the jam.
  • Internal wiring on a piece of factory equipment electrically shorts, shocking a worker who is repairing the equipment.

And these types of injuries are far too common. In fact, failure to control hazardous energy accounts for nearly 10% of serious accidents in many industries.

Winning the LOTO

 The good news is that it is possible to avoid these injuries. Below we have outlined some tips to help you develop a comprehensive lockout/tagout program.

  • Develop and document an energy control/policy that includes OSHA guidelines and custom elements unique to your workplace. This document should be reviewed annually, and updates should be made where needed.
  • Machine-specific procedures should be outlined that identify the equipment covered and the detailed steps to follow in order to shut down, isolate, block and secure the equipment. Instructions on how to install and transfer lockout tagout devices should be included as well.
  • Perform a walkthrough of your facility and identify energy control points such as valves, switches, breakers and plugs. From there clearly mark and label these points so that they are clearly identifiable for employees.
  • Train employees on specific elements and machine-specific procedures. The training should cover authorized employees who perform the lockout on machinery, affected employees who do not perform lockout but use the machinery and other employees who may be in the area of the machines.
  • Research and review your facility to make sure you choose the best lockout tagout device that fit your equipment and align with your needs.
  • Continuously review your program to ensure it is up to date with changing regulations and new equipment. Perform audits of your program and provide training for new employees or employees who are using new equipment. 

Establishing a proper lockout tagout program and ensuring your employees understand how to operate it can reduce injuries and save lives.

Looking to improve your LOTO procedures, but don’t know how to get started? Talk to one of our safety advisors today and schedule a site assessment or training program.

Arbill is a safety solutions company. We are all about protecting your workers in the workplace. Our mission is to keep workers safe and return them home safely at the end of the day. Visit arbill.com for more information about being safe and subscribe to Safer Every Day, the definitive digital magazine for workplace safety.

Have a safe day!

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The True Cost of Workplace Injuries: Calculating the Impact


According to the 2016 Liberty Mutual Workplace Safety Index, the most disabling, nonfatal workplace injuries amounted to nearly $62 billion in direct workers compensation costs, last year. This is a very large number and represents a huge cost to employers, but when you take into account indirect costs, that number dramatically increases to $250 billion each year.

So how are direct and indirect costs defined and how can you calculate the true cost of an injury and its effect on your organization?

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The Cost of Workplace injuries and illnesses

Workplace injuries and illnesses have a tremendous impact on the bottom line for employers.

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What Workplace Safety Means to Your Bottom Line

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Protect Your Eyes with Eye Protection – There’s No Reason Not To!

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Is $250 Billion Enough?

A study conducted by J. Paul Leigh, professor of public health sciences at UC Davis has found that occupational injuries and illnesses cost the nation about $250 billion every year, much higher than shown on a previous study in 1992. This figure is $31 billion more than the direct and indirect costs of all cancer, $76 billion more than diabetes, and $187 billion more than strokes.

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How to calculate the true cost of an injury

In a recent post we talked about the high costs of workplace injuries for the employer. In fact, we quoted a study that found that workplace injuries and illnesses cost the nation $250 billion every year.  How are these costs calculated and how do they affect you the employer? 

Direct Costs

  • Medical Cost
    • Doctor’s visits, treatments, surgery, etc.
  • Indemnity Cost
    • 2/3 wages up to a set amount weekly
  • Medical
    • 100% of the medical – doctor, office visit/hospital, X-ray/MRI, prescription drugs, physical therapy, home nurse, etc.
  • Indemnity
    • Percentage of weekly wage (varies by state)
    • Permanent and partial disability
    • Death benefits
  • Expenses
    • Legal
    • Claim processing/handling charges

Indirect Costs

  • Pain and suffering of employee         
  •  Loss of production                                          
  • Customer “quality” issues & loss of business   
  •  Overtime costs
  • Equipment or product damage
  •  Recruiting and retraining
  • Time
  •  Damage to equipment
  • Interruptions in productivity
  •  Injured employee
  • Employee morale
  •  Customer service
   
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