Read about how to manage and reduce your workplace risk, keeping your employees safe and making your workplace compliant.

Follow these 4 steps to achieve a successful safety program in your workplace

Implementing a quality safety program is essential to reducing workplace accidents.  This is an effective way to ensure you stay in compliance with safety standards.

More importantly, it is the cornerstone of building a comprehensive safety culture, which is the best way to reduce work-related injury and illness and their associated costs.

Four basic elements of a successful safety program are strongly recommended:

Management Leadership and Employee Involvement

The highest levels of management commitment are necessary to ensure that everyone at work is protected from injury and illness hazards. Without continued management support there is no way a safety program will get off the ground.

Annual safety goal-setting and action planning with employee input sets the stage for the company’s safety culture.  BCN Services can provide you with the tools and assistance you need in establishing a safety program at your place of business.

Worksite Analysis

A worksite analysis involves a basic self-inspection checklist to help identify safety hazards at your place of business.  This checklist covers such items as a review of general housekeeping, condition of tools and equipment, status of fire extinguishers, first aid supplies, ladders, personal protective equipment, office safety, etc.

In addition to identifying existing hazards so they can be dealt with, a self-inspection will denote safety conditions at the start of your program, establishing a baseline that will allow you to measure improvement going forward.

Reviewing employee injury records can also be a valuable exercise to help identify a common cause for injuries.  BCN Services provides you a report on the status of your injuries four times a year in the Quarterly Report.

Periodic review of your program’s effectiveness, along with ongoing monitoring of employee injuries, is needed for your safety program’s continued success.

Employee Training

All employees should receive sufficient training to understand their individual safety and health responsibilities and how to fulfill them. Supervisors should provide each employee with safety materials and personal guidance pertaining to his or her job. These measures might include:

  • Making sure that each employee has access to a safety manual for review and future reference.
  • Delivering a personal copy of safety rules, policies and procedures pertaining to safety in the workplace.
  • Asking questions and answering employees’ questions to ensure knowledge and understanding of safety rules, polices and job-specific procedures described in the safety program manual.
  • Training each new employee using verbal instruction and demonstration on how to perform assigned job tasks safely.
  • Observing employees performing their work and making sure they are doing it safely. If they are not, the supervisor must provide additional training before permitting the employee to work without supervision.

Refresher training should occur periodically to keep standards high. If work environments or job tasks change, employees should receive updated instruction.  BCN Services’ on-line safety course library is rich in training material and is available at www.www.bcnservices.com under the login section > Online Safety Training.

Hazard Prevention and Control

All hazards discovered during the worksite analysis should be eliminated if possible and alternate control methods should be used for hazards that remain. This may include engineering or administrative controls or the use of personal protective equipment.

It is also recommended that you determine which safety standards apply to the work being conducted at your place of business so individual safety and health programs can be established for each.

Creating an effective safety program for your organization based on the above Four-Point Program is a great first step in reducing your organization’s workers’ compensation costs. Coupled with ongoing safety initiatives and program benchmarking, this can mean thousands of dollars saved in premiums, increased productivity and reduced claims costs.

Do you have questions about safety in your workplace?  BCN Services can help you assess your situation and create a safety-oriented environment.  Contact us at 1-800-891-9911 or contact us here.

PatrickBoeheim_6705

Patrick Boeheim, Risk Manager

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

Take a Step in the Right Direction: Complete a Worksite Safety Analysis

Frequency and severity are the two main factors that drive up the costs of workers’ compensation.  Frequency means how often claims occur.  Severity means how much claims cost.

In the not-too-distant past, underwriters have given employers a “get out of jail free” card when it came to frequency.  They didn’t give frequency as much weight as they did to severity.  But, times are a-changin.’  In the future, underwriters will give both factors equal footing.  And that’s something to consider when it comes to safety.

What can I do to ensure my workplace is as safe as possible?

One simple thing to you can do:  Periodically review potential hazards through the use of a self-inspection checklist before an injury or incident occurs.  A  checklist helps to identify unsafe or potentially unsafe conditions and practices which are likely to result in injury or illness to an employee.

Ask questions such as this:

  • Are materials stored so they do not stick out or fall?
  • Are emergency exits clearly marked?
  • Are your tools and equipment in good condition?

If asking such questions raises further concerns about safety at your place of business, all the better.  BCN Services can help with that!

Here’s a simple goal to accomplish:  Identify three areas or topics you feel your employees would benefit from regarding safety training and to further advance a safe work environment. Then call BCN Services and let us set up those training sessions for you and your employees.  Most sessions take about 15 minutes.  We’ll also handle the related record-keeping and provide a  “certificate of completion” to each employee showing your commitment to their safety.

Whether you need to start or continue conversation about safety at your place of business, each of these suggestions will help ensure your employees feel comfortable in alerting you or another member of management when they see things that look hazardous or out of place.  That promotes shared responsibility.

Safety experts tell us that every accident or injury is preventable.  Each of these suggestions will help you in improving frequency and severity regarding workers’ compensation claims.

Whether or not you’ve experienced claims in the past, a proactive safety program is an effective way to create and sustain a positive work environment and a successful business for you, your family and your employees.

And that’s definitely a step in the right direction!

Do you have questions about safety in your workplace?  BCN Services can help you assess your situation and create a safety oriented environment. Call us at 1-800-891-9911 or contact us here.

PatrickBoeheim_6705

Patrick Boeheim, Risk Manager

BCN Services can train employees and keep you forklift safety compliant

Did you know that the fifth most cited OSHA/MIOSHA violation involves forklifts?  A serious case can cost up to $7,000 per violation a repeated violation up to $70,000 per violation.  A willful violation can cost an employer between $5,000-$70,000 per violation.

BCN Services has a four-part program that can have your employees trained with a forklift permit in hand quickly and efficiently

Only qualified, trained operators who have successfully completed a training program and received a written permit are allowed to operate forklifts.  Drivers need to be properly trained and renew their individual operator permits every 3 years.  As an employer, you are responsible to provide forklift training.

Forklift training must involve four parts:

  1. Formal instruction (e.g. video tapes, interactive computer training or written materials)
  2. Practical training (i.e. demonstrations performed by the trainer and practical exercises performed by the trainee)
  3. The trainee passing an actual driving evaluation before beginning his or her initial job assignment
  4. Obtaining an operator’s permit

Here’s the good news!  BCN Services can help you achieve all four parts:

  1. Your employees receive OSHA-compliant forklift training via our online training portal on our website at www.www.bcnservices.com and visiting the login section.  The first part of the interactive training takes about an hour and can be done in a small group/classroom setting with an internet connection.  Or, if you prefer, training may be done individually, depending on what works best for your operation.
  2. The second part of forklift training can be performed by your most experienced forklift driver at your facility with the assistance of a BCN Services forklift truck operator evaluation form. Contact us to receive this form.
  3.  The third part of the training (the driving test) can also be completed on-site with your most experienced forklift driver evaluating and using the same form.
  4. Upon completion of each step, BCN Services will provide your drivers with an equipment operator permit and a laminated certificate of completion.  (BCN Services will also handle the necessary recordkeeping for each driver).

To get set up with this process, call Patrick Boeheim at 800-891-9911, ext. 108.  Have the names of your drivers ready to expedite on-line enrollment within one business day.

PatrickBoeheim_6705

Patrick Boeheim, Risk Manager

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

Michigan’s Workers’ Compensation Law is Changing How Injuries are Handled

The 2011 changes in Michigan’s workers’ compensation law approved by Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder began to take hold in 2012.  These updates to the law were intended to bring clarity to the statute in several areas and attract and keep business in Michigan.  Let’s highlight just four substantial revisions here.

  1. Time extended for directing injured employee’s medical care: One significant change allows employers to direct the medical care of an injured employee during the first 28 days of an injury or disease.  Previously, the employer had 10 days to direct the care.  Directing post-injury care is vital to providing quality treatment and keeping costs reasonable.  Whenever possible, occupational medical facilities are the best choice for care and treatment of employees.  These facilities understand the dynamics of a work-related disability and prompt recovery.The key to putting the treatment on solid footing is ensuring a positive experience for the employee while offering needed treatment after an injury whether your employee receives a couple of stitches or strains a shoulder.  Although they provide vital medical care, emergency rooms, urgent care clinics and family physicians are not as adept in handling worker injuries and should not be a first choice unless the severity of the injury warrants it or no other alternative is available.
  2. Pre-existing medical condition definition clarified: Prior to the 2011 changes, a pre-existing medical condition often extended the duration of a worker’s compensation claim as it was difficult to distinguish between a work-related disability and the pre-existing condition itself.  A second change in the statutory language clarifies that a pre-existing condition is not payable under workers’ compensation unless there has been a change in the pathology of the pre-existing condition caused by a work injury.
  3. Such conditions must “significantly change” or are not covered: A degenerative arthritis located in the back area can be a pre-existing condition.  When a worker having degenerative arthritis sustains a back injury, that condition can complicate and extend treatment and recovery, keeping an employee off the job if not addressed early.  A third change in the statutory language specifies that degenerative arthritis is part of the aging process and would be considered work related if the injury aggravates or accelerates the degenerative arthritis in a significant manner. If the pre-existing condition has not changed in a significant manner, it is not workers’ comp.  Physicians should be asked more often and more proactively to medically distinguish between the “pre existing condition” and the worker’s injury.  This change is expected to limit the duration of many claims, particularly as our population ages.
  4. Mental disability language strengthened:  A fourth change brings further clarity and stability to the overall system regarding mental disabilities.  These are work related if they arise out of actual events of employment, not unfounded perceptions.  The new law states that the “the employee’s perception of actual events” must be “reasonably grounded in fact or reality.”

These are but a few of the statutory changes intended to modernize and provide greater efficiency in the workers’ compensation system in Michigan.  While the Dec.19, 2011 law signed by Gov. Snyder is barely one year old, the system is already experiencing greater discipline and proactive management when it comes to claims handling.

At BCN Services, we manage day-to-day items such as Workers’ Compensation claims and offer employers up-to-date advice about changes in the law.  Call us toll-free at 1-800-891-9911 or in southeast Michigan at 1-734-994-4100 or contact us here.  Let BCN handle that!

PatrickBoeheim_6705

Patrick Boeheim, Risk Manager