Tips for keeping employees motivated, engaged and productive.

Learn symptoms of heat illness and how to treat or avoid it

When the temperature rises, your body and car have a lot in common: If you push either one too hard, they can overheat! This safety edition of the BCN HR Blog discusses how you can avoid heat illness, recognize its symptoms, and how to treat it whether on the job, working in the yard, or even relaxing by a pool or lake:

Follow the suggestions below and learn how to stay cool in hot weather:

  • Wear loose, light-colored clothing and a hat.
  • Adapt to hot conditions gradually and avoid overexerting yourself during peak temperature periods.
  • Drink water frequently—at least eight ounces every 20 to 30 minutes. Stay away from liquids containing caffeine; they tend to increase urination, which causes rapid depletion of body liquids.

The signs and symptoms of heat illness

Watch out for these signs:

  • Heat Cramps – severe muscle spasms in the back, stomach, arms, and legs, which are attributed to the loss of body salt and water during periods of heavy perspiration.
  • Heat Exhaustion – heavy sweating, cool or pale skin, nausea, headache, weakness, vomiting, and fast pulse.
  • Heat Stroke – high body temperature, no sweating, red and often dry skin, rapid breathing and pulse, headache, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, seizures, confusion, or unconsciousness.

First-aid suggestions for employees

Treating heat illness as soon as possible is very important. Follow these suggestions:

  • Heat Cramps – move to a cooler area and allow the person to drink approximately six ounces of water every 15 minutes. Follow up with a medical examination.
  • Heat Exhaustion – move  to a cooler area and keep the person lying down with their legs slightly elevated. Cool their body by fanning and applying cool, wet towels, and allow a conscious victim to drink approximately six ounces of water every 15 minutes. Follow up with a medical examination.
  • Heat Stroke – instruct a bystander (if present) to call an ambulance. Meanwhile, move the person to a cooler area, remove outer clothing, immersing the person in cool water or apply cool, wet towels or cloths to the body. Do NOT give liquid, and treat for shock until professional help arrives. Heat stroke is life-threatening, so move fast!

Safety Reminder for all

The risk of heat illness increases with age, poor diet, being overweight, insufficient liquid intake, poor physical condition, and/or when taking medication. Never take salt tablets without your doctor’s approval.

Do you need help or safety materials for your workplace? Contact us for assistance.

PatrickBoeheim_6705

Patrick Boeheim, Risk Manager

Telecommuting can give productivity a bump, but collaboration and face-to-face time can be a concern

Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer recently announced that Yahoo employees working remotely from home will be required to start working in the office by June.  Mayer cites the need to focus on teamwork and collaboration and she feels this can best be accomplished by physically working side-by-side in an office environment.

Yahoo’s recent announcement has caused some companies that allow their employees to work from home to review their policies.  If you allow employees to work from home or are considering implementing a new policy, you should consider the following advantages and disadvantages of a telecommuting workforce.

Advantages: Productivity and job satisfaction

Several studies have shown that employees working from home are more productive than those working  in an office environment because they face fewer distractions.

Studies have also shown that employees that work from home tend to work longer hours than office based employees.

Employees also tend to shown slightly increased job satisfaction and better work-life balance.

Disadvantages: Problems in team-centered offices

Managers in various studies agree with the advantages,  but many still prefer to see the employees in the office “just to be sure.”

Team-centered cultures show increased benefits of face-to-face contact and collaboration.

Remote workers also tend to miss out on promotions, often due to the lack of manager observation, even when the same manager recognizes the remote worker’s increase in production.

Several companies are experiencing success with combination schedules where employees are splitting time in the office (for team meetings, assignments, etc.) and working from home for a set number of days per week.

Weigh risks and rewards for telecommuting

The work culture is changing, and telecommuting can be a tool your company can use to its advantages long as all parties know the potential risks and rewards.  A best practice is to outline clear objectives for both parties, host frequent collaboration events and review the program regularly where employer and employee share progress toward the outlined goals.

If you need help with this topic or other employment matters, contact BCN Services at 1-800-891-9911 or contact us here.

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Health and safety Tips for Baby Boomers in the Workplace

Some basics about Baby Boomers in today’s workplace:

Q:  What’s a Baby Boomer?

A:  A person born between 1946 and 1964.

Q:  What percentage of Boomers make up the American work force?

A:  According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, it will soon be about 25 percent and that will continue to grow through 2020.  Boomers can expect to be working 4-5 years longer than their parents.

Q:  What advantages do Boomers bring to the work environment when it comes to risk?

A:  According to the National Research Council, they:

  • Are safer, having fewer work-related lost-time injuries that younger workers.
  • Have significantly lower incidences of short-term disability claims.

That said, Baby Boomers do bring some risk to the work environment that employers should be aware of.  Knowing what these risks are can help control business costs.  Improving health and safety initiatives will reduce claims.

Older workers (age 35 and above) are more susceptible to rotator cuff and knee injuries than younger workers as a result of lifting, carrying, slipping and falling.  To minimize these risks, common strategies could include: increased lighting, installing skid-resistant matting for floors, rugs and stair treads.  Whenever possible rotating light-duty tasks for manual-labor jobs helps to reduce fatigue, a leading cause of accidents.

The next time you need to “re-arrange the furniture” consider placing popular items and stock on shelves designed to minimize bending and reaching.

Instead of those two 15-minute breaks, what about three 10-minute breaks?  More frequent rest breaks help sustain employees in more physically demanding work, according to studies performed by the National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI) Holdings, Inc.

Make sure there’s a good match between each worker’s capabilities and job demands.  Another study by NCCI Holdings shows that job rotation or job accommodation, particularly in more physically demanding work, minimizes accidents and injuries. It is best to do this before a disability has occurred.

As we age, our vision may slip a bit.  Poor vision can also lead to accidents.  What to do?  In addition to providing adequate lighting, promote eye screenings.  And when purchasing sings, consider text size and color contrast.

Certain health risk factors such as smoking, obesity and lack of sleep have a strong correlation with injury rates at work and home, contributing to longer return-to-work times.  Include components in your wellness programs that address these concerns to improve your bottom line.

Whether a Boomer, Millennial, Gen X or the up-and-coming Gen Z, everyone will benefit from health and safety efforts to reduce the frequency and severity of accidents and injuries at work and at home.

If you need help with this topic or other employment matters, call BCN at 1-800-891-9911 or visit us here.  Let BCN handle that!

PatrickBoeheim_6705

Patrick Boeheim, Risk Manager