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November 20, 2017

3 Cost-Effective Ways to Help Keep Your Employees Safe

Jacksonville, Florida, restaurant worker Dania Fadeley and her co-worker were recently robbed at gunpoint by two men while walking to their cars after work, reported a local news station. Fadeley’s cash, credit cards and phone were stolen. Surveillance cameras caught the robbery, and police are currently looking for the suspects. Fadeley feels a lack of lighting in the area is contributing to crime, and her employer has talked to the Jacksonville City Council about increasing police patrols in the area.

Fadeley is grateful that she only lost her valuables. Many victims aren’t as lucky, in fact, the Justice Department has much grimmer statistics. Here are three cost-effective steps you can take to keep your employees safe in the workplace.

Secure Your Parking Lot and Perimeter

Property protected by video surveillance
As Fadeley’s case illustrates, company parking lots are one of the biggest safety risks for workers. Securing your parking lot and building perimeter is your first line of defense.

Install ample lighting to deprive criminals of concealment opportunities and make employees feel safer, recommends insurance provider Thomas-Fenner-Woods. Make sure your lighting is adequate to cover all areas of your outdoor perimeter, including corners and building entrances. Keep landscaping features such as trees and shrubs maintained to prevent these from being used as hiding places.

Another step you can take to make your company parking lot safe is invest in a commercial security monitoring service. A hybrid system provides the benefits of technology with a professional guard at a much lower cost than an on-site guard. Guards are professionally trained to contact law enforcement for quick response around the clock, and video is recorded just in case it’s needed by law enforcement later.

Post security and video surveillance signs at lot entrances and around the perimeter to make criminals think twice before attempting anything unlawful in your parking lot. Security notice signs are a proven deterrent to criminal activity, and also provide peace-of-mind to employees and visitors. Mount them on posts, fences or parking garage walls as needed.

Provide Secure Storage for Employee Valuables

Secure Storage
Employee valuables such as smartphones, wallets, purses and jewelry can be a target for thieves and a source of anxiety for workers. Taking steps to protect valuable items can deter thieves and make employees feel more secure.

Encourage workers to leave valuable items at home or locked out of sight in their cars. Provide a secure, visible location to store valuables to help protect items that are brought into the workplace. Standard factory locks on desks and file cabinets are easy for thieves to break into due to standard keys and vulnerability to picking, cautions security firm Silva Consultants.

File cabinets used to secure low-value to medium-value items should be fortified with slide bars and high-security padlocks, while high-value items should be stored in burglary-rated files or safes.

Implement Safe Workplace Policies

zero tolerance for profanity threats violenceMake employees feel safe at work by implementing strong policies to protect against workplace harassment, bullying and violence. An effective policy should be documented in writing and communicated to all workers as part of your on-boarding procedure. Specify how workers should report concerns about workplace harassment, threats or other security issues, and include the option of reporting concerns anonymously to a supervisor. Your policy statement should also describe what steps your company will take to protect employees.

The Society for Human Resource Management provides an online sample workplace violence policy you can use as a template. Talk to your company’s legal team about the wording of your own policy.

November 16, 2017

OSHA Sets 2018 Compliance Date for Crane Operator Certification Requirements

OSHA has issued a final rule setting November 10, 2018, as the date for employers in the construction industries to comply with a requirement for crane operator certification. The final rule became effective November 9, 2017.

OSHA issued a final cranes and derricks rule in August 2010. After stakeholders expressed concerns regarding the rule’s certification requirements, OSHA published a separate final rule in September 2014, extending by three years the crane operator certification and competency requirements. This one-year extension provides additional time for OSHA to complete a rulemaking to address stakeholder concerns related to the Cranes and Derricks in Construction standard.

OSHA’s Advisory Committee on Construction Safety and Health (ACCSH) recommended delaying enforcement of the certification requirement and extending the employer assessment responsibilities for the same period.

Crane Safety Resources:


November 9, 2017

How to Protect Workers from 2017-18 Seasonal Flu

It's THAT time of year again! No, not just family dinners, seasonal decorations and gifts. It's flu season! The time of year when people head indoors and share germs and end up feeling miserable. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) say there are many influenza viruses that constantly change. Fortunately, some basic precautions can help people avoid the flu and stop it's spread in the workplace. 

Here's important information from OSHA and the CDC on how to protect workers whose jobs involve contact with coworkers and the general public. This information provides a baseline for infection control during a seasonal flu outbreak, but it may not be enough to protect workers during a pandemic.(There are different specific recommendations for Healthcare workers.) 

Basic Flu Precautions for Most Workplaces

Encourage Workers to Get Vaccinated

Encourage workers to get the seasonal flu vaccine when it is available. Consider hosting a flu vaccination clinic in your workplace. Vaccination is the most effective means of preventing flu. Vaccines take time to become effective, so early vaccination is important. Don't wait until people are sick to hold a vaccination clinic.

Encourage Sick Workers to Stay Home

Encourage sick workers to stay home. The CDC recommends that workers who have a fever and respiratory symptoms stay at home until 24 hours after their fever ends (100 F or lower), without the use of medication. Not everyone who has the flu will have a fever. Other symptoms could include a runny nose, body aches, headache, tiredness, diarrhea, or vomiting.

Develop flexible leave policies that encourage workers to stay home, without penalty, if they are sick. Discuss other human resource policies with staff, including administrative leave transfer between employees, pay policy for sick leave, childcare options, and what to do when ill during travel.

Develop a Policy for Workers and Clients Who Become Ill in the Workplace

Develop a policy on how to deal with workers and clients who may be ill with the flu and communicate it to your workers. Determine who will be responsible for assisting ill individuals in the workplace and make sure that at least one person can serve as the "go to" person if someone becomes sick in the workplace. Consider how to separate ill workers from others, or give them a surgical mask to wear until they can go home.

Promote Hand Hygiene and Cough Etiquette

Post handwashing signs that tell workers, visitors, and clients the steps for proper hand hygiene and cough etiquette. Workers, visitors, and clients should have easy access to supplies such as:
  • "No touch" wastebaskets for used tissues;
  • Soap and water;
  • Alcohol-based hand rubs;
  • Disposable towels;
  • Cleaning and sanitation materials.

Keep the Workplace Clean

Frequently clean all commonly touched work surfaces, work areas, and equipment (e.g., telephones, doorknobs, lunch areas, countertops, copiers, etc.). Use your standard cleaning agents and follow the label directions. No additional disinfection beyond routine cleaning is recommended by CDC. Provide disinfectants and disposable towels for workers to use to clean their work spaces and surfaces and to keep work areas clean. 

Educate Workers About the Flu

Train workers about how flu can be transmitted in the workplace and what precautions they can use to prevent transmission. Provide information about the following:
  • Signs, symptoms, and complications of the flu
  • Policies and procedures for reporting flu symptoms, using sick leave, and returning to work
  • Vaccination
  • Any required work practices
The CDC has identified groups that have a higher risk for complications from seasonal flu (e.g., elderly, pregnant women, small children, persons with asthma, etc.). Inform workers that some people are at higher risk of complications from flu and suggest that they talk to their doctor about their own risk and what to do if they become ill.

Address Travel and Sickness While on Travel

Reconsider business travel to areas with high illness rates. The CDC recommends the following measures for workers who becomes ill while on travel:
  • Advise workers who become ill while traveling or on temporary assignment to notify their supervisors.
  • Workers who become ill while traveling and are at increased risk of flu complications and others concerned about their illness should promptly call a healthcare provider.
  • Advise workers to check themselves for fever and any other signs of flu-like illness before starting travel and to notify their supervisors and stay home if they feel ill.

Following these precautions can help protect your workers - and your business - from the flu this year.

Seasonal Flu Resources for the Workplace:

November 7, 2017

Staying Safe During Disaster Cleanup

Following a natural disaster, the difficult - and dangerous - work of cleanup, restoration and recovery begins. Beyond obvious hazards of debris piles and flood waters, there are a wide range of potentially dangerous materials and activities often associated with disaster recovery. Here are some tips from OSHA on staying safe:

Stay Out of Flood Waters

Even though it may be tempting to wade in flood waters, flooded areas may be deeper than they look, and water levels can rise unexpectedly. Flood waters can also contain dangerous debris that can cause cuts and puncture wounds. Water is sometimes also contaminated with chemicals and germs that can make people sick. Stay out of flood waters unless it is absolutely necessary to evacuate an area.

Avoid Electrical Hazards

Workers can expect to find standing water anywhere in a flood zone. If water has been present anywhere near electrical circuits and electrical equipment, turn off the power at the main breaker or fuse on the service panel. Never enter flooded areas or touch electrical equipment if the ground is wet. Assume any downed electrical lines are energized and don’t come within 10 feet of them. Repairing downed electrical lines is a task that should be left to trained utility workers.

Safely Remove Debris

November 3, 2017

Important NFPA 70E Changes for 2018

2018 edition of NFPA 70E
Like many other workplace safety items, electrical equipment and safety device technologies evolve and change almost constantly. That's why the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) releases an updated version of its NFPA 70E: Standards for Electrical Safety in the Workplace every three years. And 2018 brings a new, updated version intended to help you comply with OSHA 1910 Subpart S and OSHA 1926 Subpart K. 

What's New in the 2018 NFPA 70E

The 2018 edition of NFPA 70E reflects the latest information about the effects of arc flash, arc blast and direct current (DC) hazards, and recent developments in electrical design and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). The 2018 NFPA 70E emphasizes the need to use the hierarchy of risk controls, by moving it from an informational note into the text of the Standard. NFPA 70E now explicitly states that the first priority must be the elimination of the hazard.

October 31, 2017

3 Ways to Rework the Working Culture for Better Results

For over a decade American vacation habits have been on the decline. Taking proper time off from work has been a challenge for a vast number of American workers and their employers. Vacation time has been notoriously left unclaimed and when on vacation, many employees have an “always on” mentality, which means they’re working remotely, instead of truly embracing rest and relaxation.

In 2016 alone, 662 million vacation days were left on the table, according to research from Project Time Off. Employers, CEOs and managers all have a responsibility when it comes to empowering staff members to take time off. Project Time Off also found that more than a quarter of their survey respondents feared that taking a vacation or time off from work made them appear less dedicated to their job and duties. Business leaders can help rework the working vacation culture in America - and improve business results at the same time. Here are three ways to get started.

October 26, 2017

Workplace Safety News & Notes - October 2017

Here's a collection of workplace safety news from around the web:

OSHA Enforcing Crystalline Silica Standard in Construction

The 30-day enforcement phase-in of OSHA's respirable crystalline silica standard for construction is now over, so inspectors are free to issue citations for employers not in comnpliance with the new rule. OSHA has also published a silica compliance guide to help small businesses comply with the new requirements. Read more about the new silica rules.

Hallowen Safety Tips

Check out these tips from the CDC to help make Halloween and other fall festivities fun and safe for employees, trick-or-treaters and party guests. Get Halloween Safety Tips.

New No-Cost Respiratory Protection Program Training Available

NIOSH and the American Association of Occupational Health Nurses (AAOHN) recently released a new, no-cost Respiratory Protection Program Training. The program includes a respiratory protection course and accompanying resources for occupational health professionals who want to learn more about OSHA's Respiratory Protection Standard and the role of the respiratory protection program administrator. Learn more at the AAOHN website.

Deadline for New OSHA Walking-Working Surfaces Rule is Nov. 17

October 19, 2017

Workplace Hearing Loss - What You Need To Know

Noise area may cause hearing loss use proper protection
Hazardous noise in the workplace affects some 22 million U.S. workers, and NIOSH reports that some 10 million workers incur permanent hearing loss annually. If workers must raise their voice to speak to someone an arm's length away, noise levels may be loud enough to damage hearing. October is Protect Your Hearing Month - a good time to review your hearing protection program and to remind workers that noise-induced hearing loss is preventable.

Work Related Hearing Loss is a Major Problem

Among workers exposed to occupational noise, 23 percent have reported difficulty hearing, 15 percent reported tinnitus (ringing in the ears) and nine percent suffered both conditions. That makes noise-related hearing loss the most common work-related injury in the U.S. Hearing loss disability costs businesses an estimated $242 million annually in workers' compensation. Workers with hearing loss often have trouble localizing sounds or hearing warning signals and have an increased risk of accidents. Tinnitus can disrupt sleep and concentration, increasing fatigue, impacting alertness, degrading performance and potentially increasing risks for accidents on and off the job.

October 17, 2017

OSHA: Raised Pallet Work Platforms Can Be Deadly

Safety harness required
OSHA is warning employees and employers about the dangers of using a pallet raised by a forklift as a work platform. This potentially deadly combination is sometimes used to perform tasks such as reaching upper levels of shelves or storage racks. A new OSHA FatalFacts sheet details the death of a warehouse worker who died after falling seven feet from a raised pallet, and also gives advice to avoid such incidents in your own facility.

At this particular warehouse, it was common practice for workers to place one foot or both feet on a pallet and move inventory on the top shelf while a coworker lifted them to the top shelf using the forklift. The featured worker slipped on the pallet while moving inventory and fell. He died in a hospital a few days later.

October 12, 2017

Fatal Traffic Crashes Increased in 2016 - What Can Employers Do?

According to a recent DOT announcement, 37,461 lives were lost on U.S. roads in 2016, an increase of 5.6 percent from calendar year 2015. The number of vehicle miles traveled on U.S. roads in 2016 increased by 2.2 percent, and resulted in a fatality rate of 1.18 deaths per 100 million vehicle miles travelled - a 2.6-percent increase from the previous year.

These numbers come from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which recently released fatal traffic crash data for calendar year 2016, collected from all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

Fatalities in crashes involving large tucks increased from 4,094 in 2015 to 4,317 in 2016. Of those deaths, just 17 percent were truck occupants. The remaining deaths were occupants of other vehicles (72 percent) or non-occupants (11 percent).