Budgeting for Work Injury Prevention & Safety Risk Management Strategy

As we begin to budget for strategic objectives in 2015, several work safety topics centered around an important theme come to light.  Posts ranging from safety training to workers comp/EMR risk, the importance of conducting fall hazard assessments and engineering fall prevention design — each capture elements of what I believe to be the annual theme for our blog, and what may be the most notable national work safety theme of 2014: Preventive Safety Risk Management Strategy.

Comprehending and preparing for the preventive work safety trend will prepare you for 2015 budgeting and set your organization on the path towards a beneficial work safety culture. While this may sound complicated, strategy setting will become easier after considering the benefits of preventive safety strategy.

First, Consider the Benefits of Safety Risk Management

The concept of pursuing Injury Prevention tactics for Safety Risk Management is not a revolutionary approach, nor is it a simple strategy to follow. The motivation behind injury prevention strategies that minimize risk to reap long term safety benefit is based in the complementary advantages provided by a preventative safety culture. Risk prevention strategy involves foresight and planning, and requires a greater upfront investment cost. Over time it will result in fewer injuries, worker lost time reductions, improved workers comp rates, and other indirect savings and benefits. From this perspective, preventative safety risk management ultimately provides inherent value to businesses that are financially stable and well-managed.  These businesses are typically set up to plan ahead strategically and invest accordingly. If they are able to effectively implement safety risk management strategy, they will thrive when compared to protection-focused strategies with stringent safety controls.

Safety risk management investments provide ROI via reduced workers comp claim costs, less lost worker time, culture and morale benefits

…then brainstorm Injury Prevention Strategies

The elements of successful injury prevention strategies are not unlike those of a typical work safety program, with respect to procedural elements. Hazard assessments, incident recording, policies and training remain standard work safety objectives. The subtle difference between injury prevention through safety risk management versus protection and control strategies is that prevention policies and controls are engineered to prevent risk, as opposed to simply identifying risk areas and protecting workers. For example, while injury risk hazard assessments are an element of most work safety programs, an overarching preventive strategy will interject that step into the initial processes of any new development or work activity.  The goal is circumventing, not simply mitigating, potential risk areas. With this in mind, preventive strategy is most effective when work safety culture is established and new initiatives are supported by an acknowledged organizational safety commitment.

Reassess work processes with a risk prevention approach and inject the process into strategic planning

Preventive Safety Incentives & Training Ideas

In support of building a work safety culture that values and supports injury prevention ahead of protective measures, safety incentives should be structured to reward preventative innovation as opposed to strict adherence to performance metrics such as injury rates or lost time. For example, an organization might hold a contest that challenges employees to propose an injury risk prevention strategy that reduces injury risk for the work process that had the highest injury rate the previous year. This approach delivers the strategic preventative message while working to solve a problem, and also helps to increase employee commitment through involvement. Similarly, training documentation should emphasize the importance of avoiding unnecessary risks as much as utilizing the proper protective equipment or following the recommended procedure. In an injury prevention safety environment, the goal should be to efficiently avoid risks, not plow through them with precautionary measures.

Safety policies that require PPE can often be improved via equipment investments that increase efficiency and reduce injury risk

Now You’re Ready to Budget Your Injury Prevention Risk Management Investments

We at the Safety & Numbers blog encourage you to invest in injury prevention engineering strategies and equipment as you write the 2015 budget. Establishing preventative work safety as a cultural value will not only offer the ‘usual suspect’ benefits (monetary expenses, less lost worker time, improved morale, etc.). Over time it will provide indirect benefits such as workers comp rate and hiring advantages. Need help with your injury prevention safety planning? Contact IAS


Know the Standards: OSHA Fall Protection Compliance

Most informed industry professionals are aware that OSHA has emphasized the importance of awareness and compliance to fall protection safety standards that are designed to reduce injury risk and fatalities from falls from heights.  What may be less clear to business owners in both construction and general industry is OSHA’s dedication to proactively prosecute violations to the letter of the law.  Several recent examples of OSHA’s commitment to fall protection injury prevention have shed light on risk areas for small business owners to be aware of.

OSHA Fall Protection Policy Enforcement

In February this year, OSHA drafted and delivered a warning to the communication tower industry of the increasing fatality rate in that industry, it’s relationship to fall protection, and how strictly OSHA will be enforcing fall protection standards as a result.  Another example of OSHA’s firmness on fall protection is in their willingness to prosecute compliance gaps even when a business has taken significant precautions to protect employees.  OSHA attempted to prosecute Ryder Transportation Services for an injury to a subcontractor at their site for a fall fatality through a roof skylight that was safely inaccessible to employees.

OSHA Fall Protection Standards

The most important point for concerned business owners in light of OSHA’s increased emphasis on fall protection compliance is their strictness and strategy for standard enforcement.  OSHA may potentially cite your business not only for injuries resulting from a failure to provide fall protection, but also in cases where the business did not conduct an appropriate hazard assessment, even at seemingly low-risk heights of 4′. This result is effectively a double whammy effect for a single employee fall incident.

As a result, while it’s important to provide proper fall protection, it’s even more critical to conduct and document the proper precautionary procedures for any potential risk area, to save money and administrative battles in the case that a fall injury does occur.  Here’s a brief summary of OSHA’s fall protection standards policy, with this in mind.  Of course, anyone subject to OSHA violations should fully research the topic on their own with OSHA or a certified compliance consultant.

Construction Industry Fall Protection Compliance

Found in Section 1926.501, these can generally be summed up to require businesses to provide fall protection (guardrail systems, safety net systems, personal fall arrest systems) on walking or working surfaces with an ‘unprotected side or edge which is six feet or more above the lower‘.

General Industry Fall Protection Compliance

General industry standards are also stringent, with Section 1910.23 stated to include ‘every wall opening from which there is a drop of more than four feet‘, with that also applying to open-side floor or platforms.  This requirement stipulates that risk areas be guarded by a standard railing or other means of fall protection.

And remember, the typical fall protection standards citations could be coupled with a citation for Section 1910.132 for failing to conduct a hazard assessment.

Fall Protect Your Business for Compliance

The application of these OSHA standards and enforcement policy strategies can thus be applied to a variety of settings, ranging from loading docks and flatbed truck beds to onsite or offsite machinery and equipment.  Business owner/operators should be aware that even for fall hazards of 4′ or less, a hazard assessment must be conducted and fall protection compliance equipment provided.

Trucker® & IAS Custom Access Fall Protection Products

Of course, we at Innovative Access Solutions are well-prepared to help with your flatbed truck and loading dock fall protection, starting with safety engineered Trucker trailer access ladders and working platforms.  In addition, IAS has a great deal of experience providing custom fall protection access equipment to machinery/equipment and multi-level walking or working surfaces at manufacturing facilities, dockyards, construction and mining sites, and public/retail settings.

To learn how IAS can design a fall protection access solution for your business, call our engineering team at (800) 388-6884 or submit our Contact form on IAScustom.com.

Shipyard Work Safety

Shipyard work safety programs for private sector businesses are generally under the jurisdiction of Federal OSHA regulations.  The shipyard workplace environment presents a wide range of  injury hazards including confined spaces, scaffolds and ladders, rigging, and equipment associated with painting, welding, and material handling.  To help reduce the risks affiliated with these environments, Personal Protective Equipment is frequently recommended.  OSHA has published a complete guide to Shipyard Industry Safety Standards with recommendations for small, medium, or large businesses.

Of particular interest to this blog are the shipyard safety standards provided for Scaffolds, Ladders, and Other Working Surfaces.  In this post we will take a look at the training recommendations for work safety Hazard Identification, Assessment and Control, and also provide information about access products to meet OSHA requirements at shipyards.

Hazard Identification and Controls

We have discussed the importance of work hazard assessments on this blog.  The published OSHA standards cover the basic policies of inspecting the workplace, evaluating the level of risk, and working with employees and management to identify and determine solutions to work hazards.  In addition, OSHA provides valuable recommendations regarding how to manage risk associated with identified hazards in the short term while longer term solutions are being developed.  Placing priority on hazard abatement timeframe is important, and interim solutions should be considered.

OSHA also emphasizes the importance of systematic processes, from checking injury logs in support of hazard identification, to using checklists during inspections and breaking down jobs into tasks to determine root causes of accidents or hazards.  The Shipyard Standards document additionally provides a hierarchy of hazard prevention controls, starting with engineering and work practice improvements.  These involve ‘physical changes to jobs’ and are the top level priority.  When engineering controls are not feasible, or in support of engineering controls, administrative controls and personal protective equipment are to be considered next in the hazard prevention hierarchy.

Custom Shipyard Access Products from IAS

OSHA provides detailed requirements for scaffolds, ladders, deck openings and edges, and access to vessels, dry docks/marine railways, and cargo spaces.  Innovative Access Solutions has provided shipyard work safety access products for each of these applications.  A few of the OSHA-referenced access solutions include portable metal ladders, gangways, guardrails, platforms, access to lower levels, and ladders for accessing cargo areas or confined spaces.  IAS is experienced, knowledgeable and available to help meet your shipyard access needs.  Contact IAS at (800) 388-6884 to inquire about shipyard access products.

Examining Safety at Top Contractors

The Engineering News Record recently published a list of the Top 400 Contractors.  At companies with $10-$30 billion in revenue, the number and size of contracts justifies a dedication to worker safety that small to mid sized businesses can emulate to help shorten the learning curve. Safety is deeply integrated into each of the Top 3 contractors’ day to day business policies and organizational culture.  Contracting firms that strive to achieve success may observe this theme as motivation to implement safety at the highest level to increase revenue and support growth.


At Bechtel, the safety goal is Zero Accidents.  Safety is integrated into each project via technical field procedures and extensive training.  Each employee has ‘stop-work authority’ if they feel a job responsibility is potentially unsafe.  To incenitivize safety and communicate its importance to employees, Bechtel provides multiple awards for exceptional safety performance and innovation.


Fluor’s commitment to safety includes a “ZERO incidents” policy. Fluor has received recognition as one of America’s top safety companies by demonstrating excellence in “support from management and employee involvement, innovative solutions to safety challenges and effective training programs.” One such program is the Field Audit system, a proactive approach to identify and mitigate work hazards.


Kiewit has instituted and follows a ‘Nobody Gets Hurt’ policy.  Kiewit is focused on preventing even the most minor injuries through  employee engagement throughout the organization coupled with a supporting management commitment.  “Safety training, observation programs and job hazard analyses” help to support this vision.

Innovative Access Solutions

Innovative Access Solutions provides safety equipment to each of the Top 3 contractors listed above.  In addition to the Trucker series of trailer access products, IAS provides custom access solutions for remote locations, unique jobsite requirements and more, in support of construction work safety policies.  To request information about safety equipment from Innovative Access Solutions, click here.

Work Hazard Analysis

Identifying Workplace Hazards is an integral component of an effective work safety program.  As a required element of OSHA VPP Program participation, following an organized hazard assessment process can be the backbone of a company’s safety policy. Identifying hazards provides the ability to mitigate risk and evaluate safety effectiveness.

The work hazard assessment process consists of five main components:

  1. Identify Hazardous Condition
    Hazards that can lead to injury or illness range from physical injury risk to chemicals, temperature, radiation, noise, and electrical.  Employees need to be involved in hazard analysis from the beginning to assist with acceptance and recognition of benefit.
  2. Determine Root Cause
    Potential root causes can include lack of knowledge, lack of physical ability, improper training, or unidentified hazards.  Managers should reassess hazards when new equipment is installed or new work processes developed.
  3. Eliminate Hazards
    Mitigate risks via controls based on level of injury risk, frequency of exposure, and potential harm.  Evaluate the level of overall risk to prioritize controls and implement.  Identify PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) such as gloves, safety glasses, etc.
  4. Control Measures
    Risk management efforts can include engineering controls to manage exposure, layout, and access; administrative controls to to manage employees, tasks, and training; and  work practices for safety, hygiene, and work area cleanliness.
  5. Evaluation of Effectiveness
    Hazard assessment programs should be evealuated on injury prevention effectiveness.  Evaluation tactics include routine inspections; documentation for injury reports and near misses; requesting, researching and responding to employee feedback.

Source: Marine Corp Community Services

Initiating a Work Hazard Analysis

When commencing hazard assessment, plan to document responsible team members, tasks, and step sequence for processes with injury risk.  A Hazard Assessment checklist similar to this sample provided by the California Department of Industrial Relations may be helpful.  Next, determine and document preventative measures, equipment, and Personal Protective Equipment, and train employees accordingly.  Finally, consider residual risk – any risk that remains after controls have been implemented – for future evaluation and improvement.

Work Injury Prevention Programs

Injury prevention programs have led to a significant reduction in workplace injuries while contributing to improved productivity, reduced turnover, improved OSHA compliance, reduced worker’s compensation claims and premium rates, and higher employee satisfaction.  The costs of a worker injury can be devastating to individuals families and affect businesses on multiple fronts.  In 2009, worker’s compensation benefits paid totaled $58 billion, and indirect costs have been estimated at 1.1 to 4.5 times the direct cost.

Indirect Costs of Worker Injury

  • Wages paid to absent, injured workers
  • Time lost due to work stoppage following injury
  • Administrative time processing injury-related tasks
  • Employee training and replacement following an injury
  • Productivity loss due to new employee training
  • Replacement cost for damaged material and equipment

Source: OSHA Injury and Illness Prevention Programs

Injury Prevention Programs: Effective and Scalable

As of 2012, 34 states, and countries around the world, have instituted required or incentivized injury prevention programs.  The results of state programs are remarkable; work injury rates have been reduced by as much as 60 percent.  Participating businesses have reported additional benefits and some have even encountered more sales opportunities due to their commitment to safety.

 Despite the evidence, many businesses are slow to adopt injury prevention programs.  The perception that implementation will be costly and burdensome, particularly for small businesses, can be difficult to overcome.  The reality has been quite the opposite.  Injury prevention programs are scalable when business owners focus on basic tenets: leadership, participation, hazard identification and prevention, training, and continuing improvement.  The effect on the bottom line is also a positive, due not only to reduced workers compensation premiums and payouts, but also indirect morale, productivity, company image, and process improvements.

Mandatory Policy or Incentivized Benefit?

In a 2012 OSHA white paper, the effect of state programs was reviewed and the results are of interest to businesses considering an injury prevention program.  Incentivized programs in Colorado, Massachusetts and North Dakota resulted in noticeably higher effectiveness compared to mandatory programs in other states.  By providing a worker’s compensation premium reduction incentive,  states reduced work injury by at least 20%, compared to mandatory programs with  10-20% reductions.

In addition to the basic principals of injury prevention and company-wide safety commitment, these results may be a factor to consider for businesses seeking to maximize the effect of injury prevention programs.  Employees who believe their management team cares about safety risks are more motivated, aware, and productive, leading to advantages above and beyond cost benefit.  Anyone who has held a management position knows that while blunt force may get the job done, it often comes with costs ranging from employee resentment to undermining the system.

Incentivize to Promote Safety Culture Investment

Incentivized programs may help to avoid unintended indirect costs while still reaping the benefits.  By incentivizing safety initiatives, employees are more likely to perceive safety as a culture as opposed to a business owner’s cost saving agenda.  Further, incentives will help to communicate safety as a company value with a higher purpose than simply complying to policy. Providing incentives for safety could be based on Key Performance Indicators constructed from hazard assessment initiatives and include cost savings sharing.  Employees that are motivated by incentives will perceive safety not as a management priority but as a mutually beneficial investment.