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.

The Trucker Newsletter: Fleet Friendly Trucker Access

At Safety & Numbers we are building customer interest in The Trucker Series trailer access products, in the form of real genuine online product reviews at IAScustom.com.  You know… like the ones you see on Amazon, only better. We think IAS produces the highest quality and safest trailer ladders available and we’d like you to help us make the web just a little bit more accurate on that topic.

In fact, our newsletter is offering a promotion for those who provide an Online Product Review at IAScustom.com. And yes indeed, we want to pass along that promotional opportunity to you faithful readers as well. Simply provide an email address with your Online Product Review and/or Sign Up for Our Newsletter so we can send along the promotional code.  Thanks in advance!

An Excerpt from the September 2014 IAS Trucker Newsletter….  Sign up Here

In a day and age when impressions are gathered in 140 characters and time is managed down to the minute, versatility and convenience are especially valuable. That’s why many of our customers choose The Trucker® Series. Our ladders are easy and safe for any truck driver or style.

The shining example we have mentioned before. The Trucker is the Safety Best Practice at United Rentals. With over 800 locations, that is no small feat. Still, we’re proud to serve companies across the country and in dozens of industries. We want you to know that this isn’t just brash talk. The Trucker Series ladders have exceeded even our own expectations as we have grown over the years.

Continue reading The Trucker Newsletter: Fleet Friendly Trucker Access

Fortune 500 Contractor Provides Testimonial for Trucker®

IAS produces access ladders for a wide variety of customers across the country. IAS products are safe, durable and convenient for applications ranging from contractor work safety to boat boarding at the lake. This versatility has earned raves from safety minded contractors and mobility challenged individuals alike.

Here are two examples of testimonials for work safety and optimal accessibility.

Fortune 500 Trucker Ladder Testimonial

The Trucker Series Trailer AccessTrucker® ladders are designed for simple and safe access to any truck trailer.  This safety manager at a Fortune 500 construction contractor and long time IAS customer has great things to say about Trucker® trailer access ladders.

I have utilized your products on jobs I have worked on for the past 4 years, once we started using your Trucker and Drop Deck ladders we realized the great benefits and quality the IAS products provided.  Since using your products our yard bosses and operators have asked for them by name.

Any time I show up on a new job, your ladders are one of my first purchases.  Our truck loading and unloading procedures now call for your ladders specifically, they are in such high demand they have to be assigned to crews and locked in the storage box at the end of each shift.  I couldn’t ask for a better product as far as safety, quality and ease of use.  

Thanks for a great product,

Patrick from Georgia 

Very Impressed Tooner Ladder Customer

Tooner Pontoon Boat LaddersThe Tooner I Ladder is designed for safe and convenient access to pontoon boats.  This customer was especially grateful for the accessibility and safety of the stairway ladder design with a rope available to assist with ascending up and out of the water.

I hope that you had a wonderful and safe holiday weekend. Just so you know, we are very impressed with the ladder and it’s quality. I had a skydiving accident 5 years ago, and injured my spinal cord. I have limited mobility, and this ladder now allows me to go into the water and enjoy the lake with everyone else. Seems like a small thing, but it’s HUGE to me.
Again, Thank you
Craig from Florida

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.

Work Safety Policy EMR Strategies to Lower Workers’ Comp Rates

At the beginning of each fiscal year, your insurance agency will provide you with your Experience Modification Rate, or EMR. This value serves as a multiplier to calculate your annual workers’ compensation insurance premium. EMR may lower or raise your premiums based on the history of safety and injury claims that your company exhibited over a three year period. It is also the most direct method of calculating a return on investment on work safety investments.

By improving work safety policies and following preventive practices that lower injury loss rate, business can save thousands of dollars annually on premium reductions.

Work Safety Policy EMR Strategy

The most direct way to lower your EMR is to institute a Work Safety Policy that is supported and promoted throughout the organization. Work safety policies build cultural safety values and institute programs, incentives and controls that improve processes and cross-departmental knowledge of safety.

Here are some ideas from a work safety policies at successful companies.

  • Develop a Safety Committee to assess and improve communication about safety policy and strategic EMR initiatives
  • Create a Return to Work Policy to encourage workers to return when able and reduce the length of claims
  • Initiate Job Classification reviews to communicate job responsibilities to employees and improve expertise
  • Implement strategies to generate a Safety Culture including Management Involvement, Incentive Plans, and Injury Claim packets with helpful information

Equipment Work Safety Policies for EMR

In support of work safety policy, effective management of equipment can further help reduce injuries and lower EMR. Ensure that equipment is operating properly and develop an Out of Service policy to inform team members how to handle malfunctioning equipment. Conduct work hazard analyses to identify equipment to reduce injury risk. Input from the employees that actually operate the equipment is highly valuable when developing policy. And remember that each work site or piece of equipment is unique and thus may require custom access solutions.

The above article was originally published in the January 2014 IAS Trucker Newsletter.  Sign up today to subscribe and receive our monthly Work Safety newsletter.