Employee Drug Use Reaches 12-year High
The positive drug test rate for the U.S. workforce was 4.2 percent in 2016, according to the Drug Testing Index (DTI) released by Quest Diagnostics. This represents a 5 percent increase over the positive rate in 2015, and the largest single-year positive rate since 2004.
The DTI analyzed over 10 million workforce drug test results from 2016 and categorized employees into three categories, including employees with federally mandated drug tests, the general workforce and the combined U.S. workforce. Here are additional details about the DTI’s findings for specific drug types:
- Marijuana—The positive test rate for marijuana increased nearly 75 percent in oral fluid testing, which is used in the general workforce. Federally mandated marijuana tests only utilize urine tests, and the positive test rate increased 10 percent in 2016.
- Cocaine—Positive test rates for cocaine in post-accident drug tests were more than twice as high as pre-employment screenings.
- Amphetamines—Positive test rates for amphetamines have risen 64 percent between 2012 and 2016 for the general workforce. Quest Diagnostics attributes this increase to the prevalence of prescription drugs, including Adderall.
In order to create a safe, productive workplace, you need to watch out for potential drug use at your business.
Political Discussions Hurt Job Performance
Many people can get worked up about politics, but a new survey from the American Psychological Association (APA) has shown that political discussions in the workplace can have a big impact on your employees’ job performance.
The APA surveyed U.S. employees about the impact of political discussions after the 2016 presidential election, and found that these discussions have a detrimental effect on job performance and relationships with co-workers. The survey found that 40 percent of employees have experienced a negative outcome following a workplace political discussion, such as reduced productivity or difficulty getting work done. Additionally, 24 percent of employees said they avoid some co-workers solely because of their politics.
According to the APA, social networks and constant news reports can cause individuals to adopt an “us versus them” political mentality, which can lead to conflict. As a result, it’s important to encourage respect, collaboration and courtesy in your workplace to ensure that your employees feel supported and remain productive.
New Executive Order Aims to Improve Cyber Security
President Donald Trump recently signed an executive order to improve the country’s cyber security and protect key infrastructure from cyber attacks. The order also emphasized the importance of strengthening the cyber security of federal agencies. According to a survey from Thales Group, a cyber security company, 34 percent of federal agencies experienced a data breach in the last year, and 95 percent of agencies consider themselves vulnerable to cyber attacks.
The executive order did not create any ongoing cyber security requirements, but instead laid out goals to assess the current state of cyber defenses and develop deterrence strategies. Here are some of the requirements of the executive order:
- Federal agencies must draft reports on their ability to defend themselves against cyber threats.
- The departments of Energy and Homeland Security must assess potential vulnerabilities to the country’s electrical grids. The executive order specifically mentions that prolonged power outages could pose a threat to national security or damage the economy.
- Various federal agencies must review the cyber defense plans of U.S. allies in order to cooperate during international cyber attacks.
Apple Creates $1 Billion Fund to Support U.S. Manufacturing
Apple, the world’s largest technology company, recently announced that it will create a $1 billion fund to support U.S. manufacturing. Although the company is based in the United States, it has faced criticism for outsourcing most of its manufacturing and taking jobs from U.S. workers.
Apple’s CEO stated that one goal of the fund was to support smart manufacturing and to create a ripple effect in industries that support smart manufacturers. For more information on the manufacturing fund, visit Apple’s website.
DID YOU KNOW?
A U.S. Court of Appeals recently barred the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) from requiring recreational drone owners to register their unmanned aircraft. The FAA had originally required recreational drones to be registered in order to help identify aircraft that posed a hazard, and to pass on safety information to operators. However, the court’s ruling will not impact the use of drones for commercial use, as these aircraft must still be registered with the FAA before they are used.
As you get ready to bundle up for winter, consider prepping your home, too. Several tips ensure it is protected and comfortable all season.
Inspect and Clean the Chimney
Whether you have a fireplace or wood stove, the chimney needs to be professionally cleaned and inspected. Remove any debris or creosote buildup, and repair any cracks or chips before you start your first fire of the season.
Change the Furnace Filter
Dust and other debris can compromise your furnace filter’s ability to do its job. Improve your furnace’s functionality and longevity when you change the filter this fall.
Smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors are essential in your home year round but especially during the winter months. Install these detectors on each floor, and test them at least once a month.
Repair the Roof
By repairing roof leaks and loose shingles now, you prevent damaging leaks and expensive emergency repairs.
High winds can blow tree branches into your home and cause extensive damage. Trim branches now as you protect your home.
An extra layer of insulation goes a long way towards keeping your home cozy. Consider insulating the hot water tank and water lines along your home’s exterior walls. You can also insulate the attic, basement, exterior walls, crawlspaces and outlets as you prepare your house for winter weather.
Apply Weatherproofing Materials
Windows and doors can be a major source of drafts and lost heat. Apply caulk or weather-stripping material to improve your comfort and reduce heating expenses. For even bigger savings, install insulated doors and thermal-pane or storm windows.
Stock an Emergency Kit
Power outages are common when heavy storms hit your area. Be prepared with an emergency kit. It can include items like extra non-perishable food, a manual can opener, bottled water, first aid kit, battery-powered radio, blankets, flashlight, batteries, hand sanitizer, portable toilet and activities.
Preparing your home for winter protects your investment. In addition to implementing these tips, ensure your home insurance is adequate. Then sit back and enjoy the season in comfort.
No one expects the worst to happen, but sometimes it just does. Whether it is a complete power outage or a fire breaking out in your break room, preparing for the unexpected should be part of your overall safety program.
While prevention should always be your first priority, preparedness may reduce the severity of the event and help maintain your employees’ safety.
Emergency Planning is Your Responsibility
Every company should have a published, well-communicated and practiced emergency preparedness and life safety plan.
The National Fire Protection Association and the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) provide codes, regulations and guidance on emergency action and fire prevention plans, including minimum standards. OSHA, in fact, requires a written emergency action plan for workplaces with 10 or more employees. Employers with fewer than 10 employees must still have an emergency action plan, but they may communicate the plan orally to employees.
Of course, a plan is only as good as its effectiveness, when put into action. How would your plan fare in a real emergency? Do your employees know what to do? These are questions to ask before an emergency happens.
Communicating, training and drilling are all essential elements to include in your emergency action plan, and can help make the critical difference in life safety outcomes.
Effective Planning Can Save Lives
In the first critical minutes of an emergency, taking the right steps can help save lives. Planning ahead and maintaining a well-trained emergency team can help make the critical difference.
- Appoint, organize and train designated staff with their emergency response duties and responsibilities.
- Document and distribute emergency procedures, including how to notify the fire department, evacuate employees and provide accommodations for those with special assistance needs.
- Publish instructions for the use of emergency equipment, such as the voice communication system, the alarm system or emergency power supply system.
- Post procedures for confining, controlling and extinguishing fires.
- Post procedures for assisting the fire department in accessing and locating the fire.
- Communicate your evacuation plan to all employees, visitors, vendors and contractors.
- Distribute the plan to emergency personnel who will be responsible for taking actions to maximize the safety of building occupants, including the fire department and designated emergency management and supervisory staff.
- Post your evacuation/floor plan exit diagram in clearly visible locations. Assign locations away from the building or job site for employees to gather.
- Practice drills on a regular basis. Monitor and evaluate drill performance to consider improvements.
- Include full, partial and shelter-in-place evacuations, designed in cooperation with local authorities, to familiarize employees with procedures.
- Develop a roll call system to account for all persons and notifications to the fire department of any missing person.
Travelers safety professionals see a broad spectrum of businesses and facilities and understand the plans used to ensure emergency preparedness. Every day, we share our insights with our customers to help keep their businesses, and most importantly, their people, safe.
Business continuity planning is one of the most critical components of any recovery strategy.
Companies today face an unprecedented number of exposures.
The frequency and severity of weather-related events seem to be increasing. Reliance on a complex network of technology and supply chains is expanding. Both leave businesses susceptible to a variety of existing and emerging risks.
Managing these risks is key to the survival of any organization.
Why Business Continuity?
“Our people will know what to do in an emergency.”
REALITY: Even the best employees cannot be expected to know what to do when disaster strikes. Leaving each to respond in his or her own way only adds to the confusion of an event. Having a well-documented business continuity plan in advance, and training your employees to follow it, gets everyone on the same page — helping ensure an organized, safe and timely recovery.
“We have insurance to cover our losses.”
REALITY: Insurance alone is NOT a business continuity strategy. Proper coverage is a significant and important part of the plan. But it may not fully cover some of the peripheral damages from an event, like loss of customers, loss of market share, or setbacks in development or release of a new product. Consult with your insurance agent to understand what is and is not covered under your policy.
“We don’t have the time to develop a business continuity plan.”
REALITY: Time spent developing and maintaining a business continuity plan is an investment in your company. Your fixed costs will continue after an event whether or not you are open for business. The faster you can return your operations to normal, the more likely you will recover from the event successfully. With so much at stake, your company can’t afford to NOT have a plan.
“Business continuity and disaster recovery planning are the same.”
REALITY: Business continuity is a proactive plan to avoid and mitigate risks associated with a disruption of operations. It details steps to be taken before, during and after an event to maintain the financial viability of an organization.
Disaster recovery is a reactive plan for responding after an event. It deals with the safety and restoration of critical personnel, locations, and operational procedures after a disaster, and is a part of business continuity planning.
A business continuity plan is one of the best investments your company can make.
From Hurricane Sandy and 9/11 to the tornadoes in Oklahoma – companies that proactively consider how to respond to events are the first to get back to business, often at the expense of competitors.
A predefined business continuity plan, combined with the proper insurance coverage, maximizes the chance of a successful recovery by eliminating hasty decision-making under stressful conditions. It details how to get businesses back on track after a disruption – in the most thoughtful way possible.
Think your business can withstand a disaster? Think again.
Twenty-five percent of businesses do not reopen following a major event.1 It does not take a major catastrophe to shut down a business. In fact, seemingly minor disruptions compared to widespread natural disasters can often cause significant damage – power failures, broken water pipes, or loss of computer data.
A Travelers study found that 48 percent of small businesses are operating without any type of business continuity plan…Yet 95 percent indicated they felt they were prepared.
- Is your business continuity plan predominately an insurance policy?
- Is it predominately an emergency response or evacuation plan?
- Is it predominately an IT or data recovery plan?
- Is it something you developed that sits in a binder on a shelf?
If you answered “Yes” to any of these questions, then your business continuity plan may be giving you a false sense of security.
Natural disasters are more common – and costly – than you may realize.
In 2012, nine of the top 10 most expensive world-wide natural disasters happened in the United States. With $77 billion in insured losses worldwide, 2012 was the third costliest year on record. The first was 2011, when $126 billion in insured losses were reported.2
Business continuity planning for a competitive advantage.
An alarming 48% of business owners surveyed by Travelers in 2012 said they have no plan in place. That means business continuity planning is more than smart business – it helps your company remain better positioned to recover from the business interruption, property damage, financial impact, and loss of life that a natural disaster or man-made event may cause.
The time for business continuity planning is now.
Planning for a disruption or catastrophic event should happen when business is going well, not when disaster strikes. Having a pre-defined, well-documented business continuity plan that clearly communicates how your business will respond during an event can help mitigate risk – and is one of the best investments your company can make.
High heat and construction work are simply not compatible. Yet, the work must get completed. Workers must wear protective clothing and gear which diminishes the body’s capacity to shed heat. This fact combined with high heat creates specific exposures which require vigilant monitoring.
Short-term exposures to heat and humidity:
- Prevention: Drink plenty of water – a good test is the employee must urinate every three hours at a minimum, two hours is better. If they do not need to urinate, they are not getting adequate fluids. Wear breathable clothing such as cotton. Work in the shade or indoors as much as possible, take frequent water breaks in the shade.
- Heat exhaustion: the stage prior to heat stroke when many symptoms from dehydration can be noticed. Any dizziness, nausea or vomiting, cramping, or sudden weakness requires immediate attention. Headaches, blurred vision or unusual fatigue can be signs of heat exhaustion. Rest the worker in the shade, loosen tight clothing and provide water. Observe the employee for several minutes. If they quit sweating or any symptom becomes worse, or they breathe rapidly or have a quick pulse, seek emergency medical help immediately.
- Heat stroke: LIFE THREATENING. Add these to the heat exhaustion symptoms:
- Hallucinations, confusion, disorientation, illogical behavior
- High body temperature, red or pale skin, difficulty breathing
- Unconsciousness or coma
Seek immediate professional help for these symptoms.
Bacteria carrying insects love this weather. Lyme disease and West Nile Virus are not uncommon. Prevention includes spraying mosquito deterrent and checking for ticks.
Long-term exposures include skin cancer. Wear protective clothing and use sunscreen.
Common sense goes a long way to prevent over-taxing workers. If a concrete pour is scheduled for an extremely hot day, postpone. You’ll spare your employees heat related discomfort, and the odds of getting the concrete in before it sets is remote at best.
Remember your machine operators too. Check on them throughout the day and carefully observe their performance. Any signs of erratic behavior needs to be addressed immediately. Even air conditioned cabins can create dehydrating condition in the hot sun.
If you want your crew working Friday, you need to supply plenty of water and shaded rest breaks Monday through Thursday. The body can only take so much heat.
You might love the warm summer temperatures, but they can be dangerous when you are working out. If you are not careful, you could end up with dehydration or heatstroke. The following tips can help you keep up stay safe while you stay in good shape over the summer.
Exercise During the Cool Parts of the Day
Avoid the intense heat of the noon-time sun when possible. Instead of going for a walk during your lunch break, exercise early in the morning when temperatures are lowest. Another option is to wait until the sun goes down and the temperature starts to drop in the evening. If you work out before dawn or after sunset, wear reflective clothing so that car drivers can see you more easily. If you exercise during the day, use sunscreen.
You can quickly become dehydrated when you exercise. To prevent dehydration, men should drink 12 8-ounce cups and women should get 8 cups of water per day. You need extra water when the weather is windy or dry.
Consume an additional 2 cups of water about an hour before your workout, and drink 8 ounces of water every 15 minutes while you are exercising. Weigh yourself before and after your workout, and drink an additional 16 ounces, or half-liter, of water for every pound that you lost during your workout.
Symptoms of mild dehydration can include thirst, headaches, fatigue, muscle cramping and muscle weakness. Stop exercising and drink some water immediately if you notice these symptoms.
Adjust Your Exercise Program
Be flexible with your exercise program during the summer. Water activities, such as swimming laps or taking water aerobics classes, can give you an excellent aerobic workout while you stay cool compared to participating in activities such as running or cycling. You can also adjust your workout program while maintaining a high level of fitness by lowering the intensity of your exercise sessions on hot days.
Finally, you can opt for indoors workouts instead of heading outdoors. You can follow an exercise DVD in your own air-conditioned home, or go to a health club with air conditioning. There, you can run on the treadmill, use the stationary bikes or elliptical machines, lift weights, and take group fitness classes without exposing yourself to the sun.
With a bit of caution, you can have fun, stay fit, and stay safe this summer.