Workplace Safety

Dealing With Stress at Work

Do you feel anxious and overwhelmed at your job? You’re not alone. In 2014, the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, in partnership with National Public Radio and the Robert Timber Johnson Foundation, conducted a survey on occupational stress. This study found that one in five employees reported high levels of workplace stress in the past year. 37% reported experiencing at least some level of occupational stress at their job.

Causes of Occupational Stress

The America Psychological Association tracks causes of occupational stress. The most common causes include:

  • High workload
  • Low chances for career advancement
  • Poor pay, and
  • Work that is unrewarding

Other causes of workplace stress include poor comprehension of job expectation and a sense of lacking control.

Common Effects of Occupational Stress

Job-related stress doesn’t end after you leave work. If your office anxiety follows you around, it has the power to affect your physical and psychological health.

  • The APA reports even short-term exposure to stressful work environments causes digestive complaints, headaches, irritability, and difficulty concentrating.
  • Chronic anxiety causes insomnia, high blood pressure, and can weaken your immune system.
  • High stress causes chronic anxiety, weight disorders, and heart disease.

The APA reports employees with high stress-levels may cope by indulging in high-calorie foods, using excessive tobacco, abusing alcohol, and even medication abuse. This can lead to more health complications.

Manage Occupational Stress

To help manage occupational stress the APA suggests taking the following steps:

1: Track the causes of workplace stress. Over a period of several weeks, record stressful workplace events. This will help you to determine what events in the workplace cause your anxiety. Record your reactions including:

  • How you felt at the moment
  • The people involved, and
  • How you responded.

Identifying these details can help uncover patterns in the stressors and your reactions.

2: Develop healthy coping mechanisms. When you’re anxious do you turn to alcohol or food as coping mechanisms? When you’re feeling stressed, try to find a healthier stress reliever. Exercise and reading are great examples of stress-relieving activities. Always be sure to get adequate rest.

3: Set boundaries. Is your job creeping into your personal life? Sometimes jobs make us feel like we need to be available at all times. When this happens, create work-life boundaries. Try to ignore your phone during dinner, and avoid checking your work email after-hours.

4: Take time for yourself. Don’t give up your vacation days! Take time to relax when you can. This can help you feel rested and prepared for the workday, improving your mood and performance. You can even sneak relaxation techniques into your workday. Spend a few minutes during break meditating, breathing deep, or stretching.

5: Talk to your manager or supervisor. Explain you’ve been under a lot of stress. This isn’t about complaining. It’s about sharing a workplace concern with your supervisor. If you’re having trouble with stressors in your workplace, speak to a supervisor about finding a solution.

6: Get Support. Determine whether your workplace has an employee assistance program. If so, use this system to get the support you need. If you still feel overwhelmed, or do not have access to an assistance program, you may want to seek the help of a psychologist.

We’re always looking for information about insurance topics that may impact your health, and your pocketbook. If you have any insurance-related questions, contact us for answers.

Grappling With Occupational Skin Disorders

While evaluating injury and diseases that affected previously healthy members of the United States Navy and Marine Corps, something surprising was discovered…

…Skin disorders were one of the most common job-related conditions that military personnel were receiving treatment…

Chris Rennix who is the head of the EpiData Center at the Navy and Marine Corps Public Health Center made the discovery. (The center is located in Portsmouth, VA.) Chris also serves as the chair on the American Industrial Health Association’s Occupational Epidemiology committee.

From a business perspective, the high incidence of skin disorders is usually ignored because it’s an easy problem to resolve. The cost of treatment is low and does not significantly impact budgets.

Surprisingly, skin-related diseases and conditions are the second most common type of occupational hazard according NOISH. (The National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health.) More than 13 million employees in the United States are estimated to be exposed to chemicals which can affect the skin.

Occupational Exposure

Some of the most common work-related skin diseases include sensitive cell dermatitis, irritant contact dermatitis, skin cancer, and infection. NOISH, cites the following as source of these diseases and disorders:

  • Chemical Exposure: toxic compounds irritate the skin through a series of reactions. Repeat exposure to these compounds can lead to the development of allergies
  • Physical agents: hot or cold substances and radiation
  • Biological Agents: Plant, animal materials, bloodsucking insects or bugs
  • Mechanical trauma: bruising, cuts, and friction

Exposure can occur due to a few different causes such as splashing, immersion, inhalation, or contact with any polluted surface.

Employees who work in healthcare, construction, foodservice, and cosmetology are at the highest risk of exposure.

To go a step further, any type of work environment that requires regular handwashing, hand hygiene, and chemical exposure can lead to a work-related skin condition. Almost all people have some risk of exposure.

NOISH also notes that irritants can be absorbed through the skin without an employee being aware. If the substances can pass through the skin, they have the potential to enter the bloodstream and cause systemic toxicity. Examples of common irritants include pesticides, herbicides, nickel, and formaldehyde. However, many products like chemicals, oils, medications, and dyes can play a part.

Approximately 90-95% of job-related skin diseases in the United States are contact dermatitis with the hand being the primary area of exposure. This finding was discovered by the Wellness Result Research Laboratory at NIOSH. The two types of work contact dermatitis are the following:

  • Irritant: This is approximately 80% of all instances of work-related cell dermatitis. In this condition, the skin is exposed to a dangerous substance which causes inflammation of the skin as well as damage primarily in the area of contact.
  • Sensitive: This is a situation where an employee is exposed to an allergen which triggers an immune response that involves skin inflammation with repeat exposure.

The sensitive type is more difficult to regulate because when you become allergic, it only takes a small exposure to have that response again.

A high number of allergies develop as a result of occupational exposure to metals. Approximately 10-15% of people have allergies to at least one type of metal.

The two types of cell dermatitis have similar symptoms so telling them apart can be challenging without testing. The extent of the dermatitis depends on the concentration of the material, the period of exposure, and the skin’s condition.

Some individuals have lost their job over this condition. Once a person has developed this type of condition, their physical response to exposure can be dramatic. For example, a person who operates in the aircraft sector and is exposed to hydraulic fluid can have a reaction where their fingers swell. They can’t work in that area any longer.

Diagnosing skin diseases is also difficult because many people see a doctor and then never follow up so there is no way to determine the cause of the problem. Determining what’s actually caused the irritation can be difficult after the fact.

Everyone is exposed to chemicals in their daily life. The soap that you use can create this type of response. Many people who develop a reaction have more sensitive skin in general. It’s unclear what has been the cause as it could be a work-related exposure or an exposure made in the home. If you’re in an area that only uses specific chemicals, you can undergo tests to determine which one was the cause. Many people deal with a wide range of chemicals so it may be difficult to determine the culprit in that case.

Respiratory and Skin Effects

Direct exposure to the skin usually occurs when the skin comes into contact with a polluted surface or when the chemical is applied to the skin. This exposure can take place irregularly and unpredictably so determine your exposure can be difficult as you may not know what, how, when, and where you were exposed.

Direct exposure through breathing in the chemical has been one of the most common risks in an office setting. Determining the cause of the direct exposure such as smoke or dust is sensitive and common but there are no standardized techniques for measuring and evaluating as reported by NIOSH. However, there has been an increased interest in evaluating and measuring exposure.

Preventative Approaches

In order to prevent any skin-related problems in the workplace, OSHA recommends substituting potentially harmful chemicals with safer alternatives, changing job procedures to minimize direct contact, or using personal protective equipment, excellent hygiene, and isolation precautions.

The conventional work-related controls which can be used to protect employees from skin irritation are the following in order of importance:

  • Eliminate the threat
  • Substitute the harmful material with a less dangerous option
  • Ensure regulation such as a ventilation system
  • Control the environment through changing work methods as well as employee education
  • Personal safety equipment such as gloves, coats, and masks
  • In environments that require higher than average hand washing, offering lotions can also help.

In addition to these controls, it’s also recommended that companies carry out a risk analysis to help evaluate the potential skin allergens or irritants that are used in the work environment.

Each employee plays an important part in preventing work skin problems so they need to be aware of their own health.

Employees should be trained on proper hand hygiene, how to protect skin with lotions, and how to wear personal protective equipment to minimize skin exposure to irritants.

They should also be encouraged to report any concerns to a manger. Employees should be assessed by a health care professional if they suspect that they have a work-related skin disorder.

And while it may seem like a lot to go through, helping employees protect themselves can have a significant positive benefit to the bottom line. (By reducing medical related absenteeism, loss of good workers due to over-exposure, etc.)

For more help and guidance regarding Workplace Safety, be sure to reach out to us as we’re here to help and want to be sure you are connected with the best risk management resources.

Workplace Injuries Rise When Companies Under Financial Pressure

* At a steel mill located in Seguin, Texas, a worker suffered burns to an area greater than 60% of his body after molten steel splashed onto him. He tragically died in a hospital three days after the accident.

* A 21-years old plastics worker was hospitalized for severe burns to his hand. He eventually had four fingers removed after he had an injury on his first day of work at a manufacturing facility in Elyria, Ohio.

* 400 employees at a factory in La Porte, Texas were killed after a toxic chemical was released due to a broken network of pipelines in the workplace.

These three examples are a few of many workplace injuries and even fatalities that have recently occurred. The question that crops up in these situations is whether companies sacrificed safety in exchange for profits.

The Journal of Accountancy and Economics recently released a study on this topic. In the research, they tested whether there was a connection between safety in the workplace and corporate management’s efforts to meet profit goals. To perform the study, researchers used workplace injury information gathered by the Occupational Security and Health Administration (OSHA) in the years from 2002-2011. They matched safety information to the reported earnings information. The study included a sample size of 35,350 findings for 868 companies. (Financial services companies and other companies in regulated sectors were excluded.) The study focused on businesses that barely met their goals and found that there were greater workplace injuries in these businesses in particular.

The study’s findings were notable. Injury and illness rates for these firms are 5-15% higher than firms meeting or exceeding their forecasts.

The study found that increased stress to meet profit projections could be associated with workplace safety in two primary ways:

* Larger workloads per worker.

* Cost cutting, particularly around safety-related activities.

When managers think their business is close to missing financial targets, they try to boost productivity by pressuring workers into working faster or for extended periods of time. Additionally, workers can harm their own health by being tired or not following safety procedures that slow down the workflow. All of these actions pose a threat to employee safety.

Managers may also cut corners or ignore recommended safety procedures. This includes not following the recommended maintenance on equipment. This can also include cutting employee safety training and monitoring protocols. When managers fail to follow through on these areas, safety in the workplace quickly goes downhill and the risk of injuries increases.

What exactly does this mean for the average worker though? According to the workplace injury information gathered from OSHA, the ratio of injured worker to total workers is 1:27 in companies that meet or exceed financial goals. For firms that miss their targets, the ratio is 1:24.

Some surprising statistics were revealed as a part of the study.

Companies with unions tended to have lower levels of injuries than those without unions. It is believed this is due to unions negotiating mandatory protections for employees. It is also believed unionized employees have ways to report safety problems to union reps without fear of reprisal.

Companies located in states with high Worker’s Compensation premiums tend to have fewer injuries than those in states with relatively low rates. It is believed companies in high-cost states put a premium on safety to help keep their Workmans’ comp costs as low as possible.

Companies that perform a lot of work for State or Federal governments tend to perform better than those who strictly work in the private sector. This is believed to be a result of state and federal pass-through safety mandates that are often not present in private contracts.

As OSHA only collects information related to serious physical injuries, the report authors believe the information may represent the “tip of the iceberg”. The belief is that if the culture prizes profits at all costs over worker safety, the company may indeed face future additional financial pressures.

When managers and employees forget safety in the work environment and instead focus on short-term business targets, the results can extreme. At the business level, the costs of forgoing safety include penalties, lawsuits, expensive insurance rate increases, costly settlements, and negative press that can damage the business reputation. For employees, the cost may be higher and include injury, loss of wages, or, in the worst case scenario, their death.

If your business is under financial pressure, be sure to reach out to us on ways you can ensure you’re meeting safety requirements. We’ll help you evaluate your risk exposure and we’ll make sure you have the right insurance products for your budget.

Your workers will feel better knowing you place their safety first. That positive feeling can create productivity dividends of its own.

Ten of the Most Common Safety Violations

Although OSHA releases their top 10 most mentioned workplace safety incidents yearly, they don’t change significantly with each new list. If you take note of the workplace statistics, you may feel a little overwhelmed at the information.

Taking a firm but simple approach to workplace safety is best and recommended by the deputy director of OSHA’s Directorate of Enforcement Programs.

He recommends leveraging the top 10 list as a way to compare against your workplace environment. Would these hazards be present in your work environment? Using this list to get started is a good way to determine if you have hazards in the office.

1. Fall Protection

The total violations for this in 2016 was 6,906. This means that employees who are on surfaces either horizontal or vertical and were not provided with the appropriate protections against falls. Examples of these violations include unprotected sides or edges. steep roofs, holes, and skylights. All of these areas can cause injury if proper precautions are not in place.

2. Hazard Communication

This safety concern deals with chemical hazards. Either chemicals that are produced in the workplace or ones that are brought into the workplace. Citations in this area include not having a hazard program in place and training in the workplace on how to handle chemical materials that could be hazardous to health.

3. Scaffolding

Scaffolding has to be designed by qualified individuals and constructed according to those designs. Employers are required to protect workers from falls and falling objects while working on scaffolding. This means having a guardrail system in place or other protections to keep workers from falling through scaffolding. This caused a total of 3,900 violations in 2016.

4. Respiratory Protection

This violation deals with ensuring employers have a respiratory protection program in place. This means ensuring that the workplace has appropriate respiratory protection standards in place as needed. Fit testing for respirators and medical evaluations for respiratory health are some of the key areas to maintaining adequate protection.

5. Lockout/Tagout

Electricity can be hazardous if not handled properly and lockout/tag out procedures for the servicing and maintenance of equipment are important to have and maintain in the workplace. Having general procedures and a general control program were two of the most common violations in this category.

6. Powered Industrial Trucks

Surprisingly, this standard in the workplace is actually 6th on the list and deals with the maintenance and operation of industrial trucks. Workplaces that have forklifts and hand trucks need to ensure safety standards in this area. This means having safe operation and certification standards for employees. Training is also essential in this area as well as ensuring that trucks are repaired and maintained on a regular basis.

7. Ladders

Just like its name suggests, this standard has to do with any safety concern involving ladders and caused 2,665 violations in 2016. Portable ladder access was one of the top areas cited. Ladders are often not used for the purpose that they were designed for and ladders are frequently used with structural defects. Keeping ladder safety as a priority in the workplace is a key to avoiding this hazard.

8. Machine Guarding

This standard involves guarding of machinery to protect its operators as well as any other employees from hazards including rotating parts, sparks, and any other dangers possible during its operation. Machine guarding should be in place during its operation. Other primary concerns for machine guarding include anchoring any fixed machinery and guarding any blades, especially ones that are close to the ground.

9. Electrical-Wiring Methods

This standard means any violations related to improper electrical or wiring methods including grounding electrical equipment, ensuring appropriate wiring and insulation are in place. Protecting wiring from exposure is a key violation to avoid and can be a fire hazard as well as an employee hazard.

10. Electrical-General Requirements

This area is also designed for electrical hazards but is focused on the general safety requirements involved with designing electrical systems. Installation and use of systems are the top violations in this category. Guarding any live parts and keeping the space around electrical equipment free of potential hazards are also components of this category.

As you evaluate various workplace risks, be sure to reach out to us for suggestions on how to keep your Workmans Comp rates as low as possible… remember we’re here to help!

Workplace Safety Principles You Can Count On

As a leading manufacturer Boeing offers a great example of putting workplace safety into practice. And Boeing has come a long way from the early days of ergonomics.

Boeing has a security vision that is rooted in their company culture. The company has core beliefs for their product safety and security. Boeing has an office safety initiative, “Go for no– One day at a time”. It has four primary concepts used to structure everything done.

The primary priority is human life and health, taking action to promote these goals. In addition to efforts designed for safety in the workplace, Boeing also puts an emphasis on health beyond preventing workplace injury. Often a workers’ safety and security can be maximized by decreasing stress and improving health through a balanced lifestyle. Boeing was named one of the “Finest Companies for Healthy Lifestyles” and they’ve taken steps to improve the general wellness of their workers.

All injuries in the work environment are preventable. Boeing tries to use its design and processes to lower the security and safety threats for their workers, especially the ones that work in production. One of the best programs that makes use of this principle is the Boeing location in South Carolina. It has the engineers work as manufacturing specialists to help them recognize and make improvements to each job. With this practical experience, engineering groups have been able to develop tailored ergonomic devices and improve job processes by eliminating potential hazards.

Each employee is made responsible for their own personal safety and also in charge of each other’s safety. Boeing encourages each staff member to take charge of their safety and to watch out for their teammates. Some workers model this principle very well, including examination specialist Roger Grenier. He’s become known for his dedication to maintaining safety. In just a single year of work, Roger worked to notice hundreds of safety concerns as well as point out improvements that were used to keep the workplace safe and eliminate any hazards. Because of his excellent work and dedication in this area, Roger was recognized as Boeing’s first “Safety Champion” in 2016.

By making safety a top priority, Boeing also found that it was able to meet goals for producing top quality materials as a normal part of daily activities. Making large planes and jets to fit client’s needs requires a full-time commitment to safety, quality, and performance. On the assembly line used to make 777 jetliners, a team of designers and manufacturing mechanics created a new option for moving the heavy power panels. In the past, moving and installing the panels had been linked to worker injuries. Using a rail system to move heavy loans in a tight space, this change significantly lowered the risk of injury while also boosting productivity at the same time.

Through safety workshops, groups develop lists of reasons why Boeing has not been able to reach its zero-injury goal. They write down the details of why each injury occurred. Then, they establish methods for the company to be free of injuries in the future. Each time the list grows shorter because of the value that’s placed on decreasing injuries.

Worker safety is best considered as a challenge to innovation. Changes that Boeing is implementing today, including automation, will have a significant impact in the coming years.

Remember that Boeing is a for profit corporation. It answers to shareholders. Safety efforts must comply with the law and be implemented in a way that positively impacts the bottom line. Boeing has recognized that safety always results in decreased costs and increased productivity.

So as you contemplate safety for your own organization, take a little time to reflect on what has worked so well for Boeing and see if you can implement some of these principles in your company.

What to Know About Safety & Legalized Pot

Because cannabis legalization is expanding across the United States, many companies are concerned about how to go about drug testing their employees. They are also quite concerned about workplace safety. (As you may know, cannabis or “pot” is legal in some form or another in 28 states as well as our capital, Washington DC.)

Each state’s laws regarding marijuana legalization are different, making it difficult for companies to know how to manage their employees when it comes to marijuana usage by employees and location.

(This can be especially tricky if a company has workers split between multiple states where some states offer legalization and others don’t. For example, Idaho does not offer pot legalization but is bordered by 3 states that allow legalization in some form or another.)

To help give guidance, here are some steps to leverage in order to keep the work environment accident free with the changing tide in pot regulations.

First, it is important to understand that public opinion towards marijuana has shifted in recent years. Today, approximately 60% of the population supports the legalization of cannabis. While this change may be thought of as coming from younger adults, the change in attitudes is actually most significant in the population age 55 and older. A current study found that in medical areas where marijuana was proven to be beneficial, Medicare enrollees were significant users of marijuana.

So what can companies do though if they have employees that use cannabis?

Of course, safety is a primary concern for these companies. It is important that companies concentrate on the efficiency of their employees in addition to increased scrutiny on training and hiring processes. (This is really no different than how alcohol is treated in the work environment.)

These four extra steps can help ensure a safe environment:

1. Review job descriptions and determine what each job requires. Would an employee who uses cannabis in non-working hours influence that person’s capability to perform essential job duties?

2. Train managers how to identify impairment caused by marijuana use in the workplace. Review signs and symptoms of a person who has used cannabis.

3. Determine if drug screening is a good fit for your business. If it is, determine how to best do it with your employees. For example at their time of hire or additionally throughout the worker’s employment.

4. Consider the impact medicinal marijuana may have on policies. For example, where pot use is truly necessary for a given worker’s medical needs rather than being a recreational choice.

Closing thoughts:

Research regarding marijuana usage indicates that the impacts of marijuana on a person’s ability to function changes drastically from user to user in addition to the type of work being done.

Of note, fewer than a third of studies found a relationship between marijuana use and reduced function.

For a complete understanding of how employee pot use may impact your safety risk profile, be sure to reach out to us for guidance. We’ll be sure to point you in the right direction.

Protect Against Excavation & Trench Hazards

According to the American Federation of State, County as well as Community Staff members, one of the typical hazards associated with excavation or trenching job is cave-ins. Individuals bearing the highest risk of getting seized in a collapse include but not limited to:

a) Workers who repair utility lines like sewer, water, and others

b) Roadway building contractors and also

c) People who actively participate in digging.

Statistics by the American Federation Of State, County And Municipal Employees (AFSCME) indicate that slides or collapses during excavation can be instigated mainly by the following factors:

· The heavy weight of the excavation equipment especially if positioned near to the margin of a trench

· Loose soil culminating from construction equipment vibration and traffic in the construction location.

· Water accessing the construction site or the excavation location. This compromises the strength of trench peripheral and as a result a slide might occur.

· Loose soil that weakens the walls of the trench or construction and may end up collapsing.

Before performing any excavation or trenching activity, it’s always prudent to seek an expert to examine possible risks prior to commencement of the activity and also during the procedure till the process is complete. The operation ought to be regularly monitored in order to ensure that all possible hazards are kept on check.

On the other hand, protective measures have to be taken for any form of excavation or trench that happens to be deeper than 5′. However, digging operations that are fewer than 5′ deep might also require a safety system in case the professional onsite discerns a potential cave-in.

Below are some safety systems that are recommended in order to mitigate excavation and construction site hazards:


This system comprises of wales, cross-braces as well as uprights and needs to be installed from the top down as well as removed from all-time low up. It supports the wall surfaces of the excavation hence reducing the likelihood of a potential slide.


This system ensures the sides of the hole open out from the base of the excavation. This kind of soil management moves out an appropriate angle from the base (depending on the soil) to help prevent any probable collapse.


This system comprises of trench guards or trench boxes that are put in the digging site to prevent the trench walls from failing. The person is safeguarded while in the box. Some boxes can be moved as work progresses. All shields must protrude a minimum of 18 inches from the top of the trench slope.


The benching system a lot like sloping. However steps are cut into the sides of the trench. It’s important to note that if you are digging more than 20′ deep you’ll need a registered engineer to authorize your solution.

Dealing With Risk Exposure

As a contractor you face many different kinds of risk exposure. It’s important to have comprehensive protection to be sure profits are preserved and that your company isn’t put at risk as a result of a catastrophic claim. Please reach out to us for cost-effective ideas on how to leverage and maximize insurance to limit exposure.

Keeping Workers Safe From Fire Risk

Although most areas of the country have excellent fire departments, fires are still responsible for huge losses of jobs and lives. The most recent National Fire Defense Record (NFPA) record released in 2015 stated that there were more than 3000 civilian deaths and more than 15,000 fire injuries that took place in the United States. The costs associated with fires are more than $14.3 billion in home damage alone. The losses caused by fire affect not only personal homes and property, but also have an effect on work environments and businesses.

And while fire affects many businesses, it has a substantial impact on both small and medium-sized businesses who have fewer financial resources. These businesses are usually housed in a single location and, in the case of a fire, may not be able to continue their work. The key to preventing a loss of business is prevention and it’s every business’s job to keep the workplace safe from any potential fire threats. Fortunately, many of the fires that occur today are preventable.

These are just a few of the easy and effective ways to keep your workplace and your workers safe:

1. Keep the Office Clean

Having standards for the state of the workplace is an important step to prevent fire. Make sure to keep work spaces neat as any piles of waste and clutter are easy kindling for a growing fire. Make it a regular habit to get rid of any flammable materials such as wood and cardboard. Worker safety is a key element of prevention here so promote clean habits in the entire office. Make sure also to keep any waste baskets and dumpsters away from areas of heat.

It’s a common habit to destroy waste in an open pit or barrel, thinking that this is a safe way to get rid of waste. However, this is not only a fire hazard, but also illegal in most states. Instead of burning any trash, follow state and government guidelines to get rid of combustible waste safely. Look up the guidelines in the area and keep them posted in the workplace to inform all employees.

2. Watch for Potential Hazards

Potential fire spots are areas to watch out for in the office. There are a few key areas, for example, in the workplace which are specifically prone to fire risks. It’s important to keep an eye on them to prevent problems. For example, the kitchen is the most common place to experience a workplace fire. Coffee makers that have been left on can trigger a fire. Make sure to ask employees to turn off any appliances in the company kitchen before leaving the area. Also keep any flammable items away from appliances to decrease the fire risk.

3. Watch out for Faulty Wiring

Faulty electrical wiring is one of the leading violations according to the Occupational Security and Health Administration (OSHA) in 2016. Make sure that any cables and wires in use are in good condition with no exposed wires. It’s also important to use the appropriate power cable for the work. Substituting cords can be tempting in a pinch but can increase risk.

When using an electrical outlet, prevent any dual adaptor links. Instead, use a power strip with a fuse. Make sure to schedule regular electrical repair and maintenance to prevent any potential hazards. Additionally, it’s important for businesses to test any safety and security buttons roughly every three months. Keep in mind that electrical safety isn’t just based on the electrical system. Any water leaks in the building can also lead to blown circuits, fire, and personal harm. Water is a good conductor of electrical energy and can electrocute anyone in contact. Make sure that there are no water leaks in the workplace.

4. Use and Store Chemicals Securely

Most chemical cleaners and other materials are flammable. Make sure to read the label and security sheet on each container to determine if it is flammable and how best to use the product safely. All chemicals should be labelled correctly and stored based on the instructions. The chemicals should also be kept in secured containers when they are not in sure. Advise employees to only use their chemicals for their intended purpose. For example, ethyl alcohol should not be used to clean the floor or as a hand sanitizer. Provide employees with the appropriate equipment such as gloves and masks as well as any tools for dealing with hazardous chemicals. Clean up any chemical spills promptly and according to directions.

5. Screen Out Risky Workers

Although it’s a good idea to hang “no smoking” signs to let your employees know that smoking is not permitted and carry out regular fire drills, sometimes these steps aren’t enough to make your work environment safe from fire hazards. Each company takes a different approach to maximize workers safety and the safety of the environment. Industrial companies, for example, are starting to screen out potentially dangerous workers in their goal to create a safe and reliable work environment.

In the past few years, there has been a rise in pre-employment alcohol and drug tests. Many of these screening kits are easy for employers to use with potential employees. Make sure to use a kit that has been FDA-approved. These kits are a good way to determine if an employee engages in any risky behaviors which could increase the company’s risk of an accident or fire.

6. Prepare for Emergency Situations

Although using the steps above to prevent a fire is key, some accidents can still occur. It’s important to be prepared in the case of an emergency situation. Conduct regular fire drills a few times a year and also make sure to supply employees with safety training according to both federal and state standards. Make sure to have an assigned meeting point for all employees to account for each person after the drill.

Employee training is just one step of this process though. Make sure that emergency phone numbers and any firefighting equipment are accessible and understood by employees. Keep the fire extinguishers up to date and in good working condition. Make sure that each employee understands the building’s evacuation strategy from their initial start at the company. A public address system is also a good idea and can be used to inform personnel in case of an emergency. The emergency exits should be marked and easy to reach. Finally, local fire departments are great resources for local businesses. They can provide valuable information on how to react in a fire and also if the building has done an adequate job of preparing for a fire.

Final Thoughts

Workplace fire accidents are known for their catastrophic loss of human life as well as equipment and materials. When it comes to safety and security, prevention is the key. From focusing on simple steps like cleaning to building an evacuation plan, these basic safety tips will help to keep your workplace security. Keeping workers safe is an important part of managing risk to keep your Worker’s Compensation insurance premiums low. If you need help evaluating your risk profile be sure to reach out to us.

Why Having an Ergonomic Chair Matters

Consider your work chair. Is it comfortable and also supportive? Do you feel healthy being in it? Is it steady?

If you responded to “no” to any of these questions, you could need a new chair– one that is ergonomically correct. But it is essential for your company and you to do the research initially. “There are lots of ergonomic chairs available, however it can be a blunder to purchase one simply since it is labeled ‘ergonomic,’”

Some ergonomic chairs are more expensive than others but what matters is that the chair fits the person. According to the Canadian Center for Occupational Health & Safety, a chair ends up being ergonomic only when it:

  • Particularly suits an employee’s dimensions,
  • Their desk, and
  • What work they do there.

The ideal chair is flexible:

  • Can the seat height be adjusted? It’s really important that a seat elevates an employee to the correct height.
  • Is the backrest adjustable? It needs to have the ability to be changed both vertically as well as in frontward and also backward directions. In addition, the chair should have a company lumbar support.
  • Does the chair have a seat deepness appropriate for the worker?
  • Is the chair stable? Having a chair with a five-point base is best.

Finding a chair that fits:

Office workers spend the bulk of their time sitting… and sitting incorrectly can lead to injuries. So to have a great chair that fits, take these variables into consideration:

  • Understand that chair won’t always help every worker.
  • Make sure the chair seat elevation is 1/4th the worker’s elevation, but also make sure it fits the employee’s leg-to-torso ratio.
  • The same chair is not always ideal for all activities. Be prepared to have different types of chair in your environment that are task and worker specific.
  • Some are surprised to learn that chairs require maintenance. Be sure to check with the manufacturer for what possible issues may arise.
  • Be sure to allow users an opportunity to try and compare chairs. After all, they will be the ones using the chairs on a daily basis.

It may surprise you, but many workers’s compensation claims are related to poor ergonomics.

Millions of workers suffer work-related musculoskeletal disorders each year. Hundreds of thousands miss work as a result. Shockingly $1 of every $3 spent on worker’s comp claims is from inadequate ergonomic protection. Total annual costs for these types of claims exceed $45 billion each year.

The best “cure” for these situations is simple prevention. An investment in ergonomic chairs is far better than the claims that could result from poor seating for your workforce.

Have questions about ergonomics and their impact on worker’s comp claims? Be sure to reach out to your worker’s compensation insurance professional for answers!

“Shocking” Electrical Risks Lurk in Offices

When one thinks of places to run into electrical hazards, the office isn’t the first place that comes to mind. Injury from falls is certainly #1 on the list of risks. #2 comes from lifting heavy object.

Certainly folks that deal directly with electricity are far more likely to suffer potential injury. 20% of all electrical injuries (shocks & burns) occur with Electricians and apprentices. Meanwhile 12% of all electrical injuries happen to Mechanics. But according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 35% of all electrical injuries occur to the “other” category of worker that includes folks who work in offices.

In fact OSHA published a guide in 2002 to help understand electrical hazards and how to minimize their risks.

Here are some basic guidelines to help eliminate electrical shocks & burns in the office…

  • Make sure all devices are shut off before leaving the office at the end of the day.
  • It’s best to use devices that are grounded. (They have a 3-prong cord.) Be sure that they are plugged into 3-prong outlets.
  • If a device is giving off an unusual smell… like plastic burning… unplug it right away.
  • Never work with devices that have damaged cords.
  • Be sure that all walkways in the office are free from extension cords.
  • Never use staples or nails to try and position electrical cords.
  • Never plug devices into outlets that have a loose connection.
  • Only use devices that have passed independent screening such as by Underwriters Laboratories.
  • Ensure that there’s a 3’ clearance in front of electrical panels, transformers, etc.
  • Never connect devices to an electrical outlet through a series of electrical extension cords.

Most of these may seem like common sense but they should be incorporated into worker safety training. Not only will they reduce worker injury risks from shocks, they can also help to eliminate potential electrical fire risks as well. And while you are at it, be sure to talk with your insurance professional for other ideas on how to keep your workers safe as well.

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