If you held your last fire or emergency evacuation drill more than six months ago, it’s time to think about staging another. Careful planning and evaluation can help you get the most out of these exercises, enhancing your employee’s chances of a safe evacuation.
Bear in mind that unannounced drills give you an idea of how workers might actually react in an emergency situation. On the other hand, announcing drills offer them the opportunity to prepare for and practice specific skill sets they would need.
Before a fire emergency arises, workers need to know:
- How to activate the appropriate alarm system(s).
- How and when to contact the fire department.
- What to do before they evacuate—such as shutting down equipment.
- Their role in the evacuation. For example, they might need to assist disabled co-workers, help contractors or visitors on the premises, bring essential items such as visitor logs that can be used to verify that everyone is out of the building, provide first aid for injured co-workers, or act to prevent or minimize hazardous chemical releases.
- How to evacuate their work area by at least two routes.
- The locations of stairwells (workers should not use elevators to evacuate).
- Places to avoid – such as hazardous materials storage areas.
- Assembly points outside the building.
After the drill, evaluate the exercise to determine which problems need addressing.
A study commissioned by the British government found that for every lost-time injury of more than three days, there were 189 non-injury cases. No business can afford to ignore these near misses, which provide invaluable opportunities to identify and correct safety hazards on the job before they lead to accidents or injuries.
However, according to an article in the American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE) journal, employees often resist reporting these close calls for such reasons as fear of management retaliation, peer pressure, concern about a safety record, complicated reporting forms and lack of feedback.
To encourage employee reporting of near misses in the workplace, experts recommend these guidelines:
- Provide your employees with safety training.
- Develop strategies to measure how reporting near misses improves safety performance.
- Recognize and reward employees for proactive safety engagement.
- Have your safety committee oversee the reporting process.
- Provide incident investigations training for all managers that includes mentoring help for new staff members.
- Investigate everything! The time you spend investigating near misses will yield long-term rewards by eliminating the time, expense, and hassle of dealing with major (possibly fatal) injuries or property loss – not to mention the impact on productivity and workplace morale.
- Conduct comprehensive follow-up on corrective action plans. Ask who, what, and by when – and make sure that these changes are made.
- Report on all investigations. Making sure that every employee hears about every near miss will encourage reporting of future incidents, as workers realize that speaking out will help them do their work more safely.
Our agency’s specialists would be happy to provide their advice on encouraging your employees to help keep their workplace safe. Just give us a call.
Employment-related accidents behind the wheel are the leading cause of death from traumatic injuries in the workplace, killing some 2,200 people a year and accounting for 22% of job-related fatalities. Deaths and injuries from these accidents increase costs and reduce productivity for employers – while bringing pain and suffering to family, friends, and coworkers.
Preventing work-related roadway crashes poses a significant risk management challenge. The roadway is a unique work environment. Compared with other work settings, employers have little ability to control conditions and exert direct supervision over their drivers. The volume of traffic and road construction continue to increase, while workers feel pressured to drive faster for longer periods, and often use mobile electronic devices that distract them behind the wheel.
To help reduce this risk, for both long-distance truck drivers and employees who occasionally use personal vehicles for company business, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) recommends that employers follow these precautions:
- Require drivers and passengers to use seat belts.
- Ensure that employees who drive on the job have valid licenses.
- Incorporate road fatigue management in safety programs.
- Provide fleet vehicles with top quality crash protection.
- Make sure employees receive training to operate specialized vehicles.
- Offer periodic vision screening and physicals for employees whose primary job is driving.
- Avoid requiring workers to drive irregular or extended hours.
- Prohibit cell phone use and other distracting activities such as eating, drinking, or adjusting non-critical vehicle controls while driving.
- Set schedules that allow drivers to obey speed limits.
- Follow state laws on graduated driver’s licensing and child labor.
For more information about how to prevent work-related driving deaths and injuries, just give one of our Risk Management experts a call at any time.
If you have teenagers, you’re well aware that they’re all too prone to take risks. Four in five U.S. teen (80%) have part-time jobs. Of these, more than half (52%) are in the retail sector, which includes restaurants and fast food establishments.
To help keep themselves safe on the job – and thus reduce their employers’ risk-management exposure – teenagers who work in restaurants and agriculture can use interactive web-based training tools provided by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
According to OSHA, educating and training young people about safety in the workplace can help prevent injuries today and lead to a healthy workforce in the future. These resources provide practical information to protect young workers from hazards in industries where many of them are likely to work during high school and college.
The Teen Worker Safety in Restaurants eTool highlights the most common hazards in these workplaces and offers safety and health suggestions, safety posters, and electronic links to educate young workers about job safety. Areas of focus include serving, clean-up, drive-thru, cooking, food preparation, delivery, and worker rights and child labor laws.
The Youth in Agriculture eTool presents case studies that describe common hazards and offers safety solutions for teenage workers in such areas as farm equipment operations, confined spaces, and prevention of c injuries g from falls, electrocutions, and chemical exposures.
The OSHA Teen Workers page offers educational resources such as fact sheets on workplace rights and responsibilities, hazards on the job, ways to prevent injuries, work hours, job restrictions, etc.
Letting teenage workers know about these resources can benefit them – and their employers. What’s not to like?
Studies have shown that most Americans spend more than 90% of their time indoors – an environment that’s significantly more contaminated than the outdoors. Maintaining a pollutant-free indoor environment can help raise productivity, reduce potential legal liability for building owners and managers, and improve the health of workers.
Fungi, a biological contaminant that flourishes in moist environments, can trigger a wide variety of health problems and complaints. The best way to curb fungal growth is to monitor and avoid water leaks, moisture migration through masonry walls, and condensation. (For example, high humidity levels might be due to running a chilled water air conditioning system at too high a temperature).
To help manage the moisture and water infiltration that breeds fungi, experts recommend following these rules of thumb:
- If the fungal growth is on a hard surface, scrape it off as soon as possible.
- If the fungus is growing on a porous surface – such as plasterboard, carpet, or ceilings –have it removed carefully to prevent the uncontrolled release of fungal spores. (Removing or disturbing materials contaminated by fungi can increase airborne fungal levels by a factor of 10).
- Dispose of fungal-contaminated materials under controlled conditions to prevent contamination of clean areas and protect building occupants and the area from elevated exposures.
- Dry any porous materials where water infiltration has occurred within 24 hours.
Increasing concern by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and state health departments about exposure to fungal spores reinforces the need for keeping the spread of fungi under control.
We’d be happy to offer our advice on helping keep your building fungus-free – and its occupants healthy.
In one of my favorite new age books, The Alchemist, author Paulo Coelho discusses four obstacles to realizing the journey towards our Personal Legend:
- The first obstacle is resignation to failure. We’re told from childhood onward that everything we want to do is impossible. In many cases, we’re the ones telling ourselves this – and we believe it!
- The second obstacle is misunderstood love. Says Coelho, “We know what we want to do, but are afraid of hurting those around us by abandoning everything in order to pursue our dream.” In a sense, we’re afraid to change because the people around us might not love us as much if we do. For example, they might view us as a threat, mirror our own inadequacies, or break away from the norm or culture. Coelho encourages us to accept that love is a stimulus; that the people who truly love us want the best for us: to be worthy of the miracle of life.
- The third obstacle is the fear of failure. According to Coelho, “We warriors of light must be prepared to have patience in difficult times and to know that the Universe is conspiring in our favor, even though we might not understand how.” In my personal experience, when we follow our passions we get what we ask for – just not when or how we expect it. There is no journey without roadblocks, setbacks, and challenges. This is what strengthens us. Our character is no different than our muscles: You use it or you lose it.
- Finally, there’s the obstacle of self-sabotage. As Oscar Wilde said: “Each man kills the thing he loves.” According to Coelho, the mere possibility of getting what we want fills our souls with guilt. We ask ourselves, “Who am I to be so fortunate when there are so many people in pain? Do I somehow think that I’m now better than other people because of my success?’ The ancient Greek term was hubris. When we become too full of ourselves and our accomplishments, the end is near. That’s why the journey is never about arriving, but traveling forever. Says Coelho, “I’ve known a lot of people who, when their personal calling was within their grasp, went on to commit a series of stupid mistakes and never reach their goal – when it was only a step away.” I know many of those people too.
When you think about your career, where have these obstacles shown up? Where do you have personal doubts about your ability to accomplish your Personal Legend? Who or what is attempting to hold you back from meeting these goals – or is this a story of your own making? Are you willing to accept that the journey toward success is guaranteed to come with more suffering than for those who are willing to simply be comfortable? Finally, are you willing to find joy in your success without the need to sabotage it?
Here are some Coelho quotes from The Alchemist:
- “If someone isn’t what others want them to be, the others become angry. Everyone seems to have a clear idea of how other people should lead their lives, but none about his or her own.”
- “There is one great truth on this planet: whoever you are, or whatever it is that you do, when you really want something, it’s because that desire originated in the soul of the universe. It’s your mission on earth.”
- “To realize one’s destiny is a person’s only real obligation.”
- “The only reason why each day feels the same as the next is because people fail to recognize the good things that happen in their lives every day that the sun rises.”
- “I’m an adventurer, looking for treasure.”
- “Making a decision is only the beginning of things. When you make a decision, you’re really diving into a strong current that will carry you to places you had never dreamed of when you first made the decision.”
- “When a person really desires something, all the universe conspires to help that person to realize his dream”
- “Every search begins with good beginner’s luck. Every search ends with the victors being tested severely.”
- “When you possess great treasures within you, and try to tell others about them, you are seldom believed.”
- “When something evolves, so does everything around it as well.”
- “When we strive to become better than we are, everything around us becomes better, too.”
- “The world’s greatest lie is that we lose control of our own lives and must let them be controlled by fate.”
- “Be worthy of the miracle of life.”