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The use of branding to communicate an organization’s values to its customers and potential job candidates has become an important marketing tool, one that seems here to stay.

Yet, when we think of the many benefits that result from efforts to ensure a safe workplace, chances are that their ability to add value to an organization’s brand isn’t the first thing that springs to mind.

In a business climate in which having a recognizable brand on website and social media platforms has taken a strong hold, present employees are perhaps the foremost ambassadors of an organization’s brand with respect to safety culture.

In the previous installments of this series (Safety Culture, Safety is a Team Win), we discussed the importance of employee perceptions of a safety culture at work and how this can benefit everyone in the organization. The value of cultivating a team mentality in which everyone is enthused about the work the organization is doing and their role in it cannot be overstated.

Employees with a positive perception of safety culture not only deliver high quality products and services, their attentiveness to safety can manifest itself in fewer accidents and injuries. And team members showing their enthusiasm and support on social media both formally and informally can go a long way to sharing an organization’s safety message.

It’s also important to consider the potential impact apparent lapses in safety (or employees’ perceptions of them) can have when posted to social media and job boards.

A fundamental part of establishing and keeping a brand identity is by ensuring a sense of consistency of communications.

For instance, it may be possible to share a corporate mission with a core audience through various media, but the messages should be aligned to reflect a consistent personality, or voice.

Online media can be an effective tool for engaging readers and have them coming back for more. Those messages can include a mix of everything from testimonials to tips and hints. Just remember what has become a touchstone of social media: Always be of service. A typical recommendation is for education to outweigh self-promotion by a ratio of at least 3 to 1.

It’s important to view such communications as an ongoing conversation rather than as something to be set on auto-pilot and adjusted occasionally. The watchword here is “integrity.” Numerous studies, not to mention conventional wisdom, suggest that organizations that hold to their own values are likely to attract – and keep – like-minded employees.

Tagged in: safety culture

The EPA has proposed three new rules to create a new process of prioritizing and evaluating chemicals under the new Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).

The new law requires the agency to evaluate chemicals grandfathered into that act. The recently proposed rules are aimed at helping the agency evaluate quickly those chemicals currently in the marketplace.

Read entire article - https://www.aiha.org/publications-and-resources/TheSynergist/Industry%20News/Pages/EPA-Proposes-Rules-for-Prioritizing,-Evaluating-Chemicals.aspx

Tagged in: chemicals EPA

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In this second installment in a three part series on safety culture in the workplace, we look at the concept of encouraging safe behaviors through employee engagement. Read Part One - Safety Culture: Who Is Getting Your Safety Message 

Safety is a Team Win

What message is your organization sending to employees about its commitment to safety?

Let’s begin with the familiar “days without an injury” statistic. The numbers speak for themselves. They may even be posted in the form of a sign for everyone at work to see. But they only tell part of the story.

We know workplace safety education and training programs positively affect employee safety. Yet, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics 2014 Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries, more than 13 people in the United States died each day as result of performing their jobs. The National Safety Council goes a step further by claiming that each of those deaths was preventable. So where do things go off track?

All the safety measures in the world are of little benefit if they are not followed. Motivating employees to use the safety protocols they've learned is therefore essential. That’s where engagement comes in. A standard dictionary definition of “engagement” is “an emotional involvement or commitment.”

The “Four Pillars of Safety,” a white paper from the Performance Improvement Council, offers a number of suggestions for recognizing employee contributions to safety and doing so in engaging ways. (“Engagement,” incidentally, is one of those four pillars, along with” recognition,” “communications” and “measurement.”)

One of those is to offer employee wellness programs. These can be as simple as encouraging employees to improve their health together and offering incentives and rewards for top achievers. Such programs have been a feature of the corporate landscape for over a decade, and according to a recent State of the Industry Survey conducted by Virgin Pulse, they are among the top priorities for responding employers in 2017. That survey, which gathered data from 600 human resources and benefits officers at global organizations, also found that those companies that invest in wellness and engagement can realize measurable improvements in business performance. Seventy-eight percent of respondents indicated employee well-being is a critical part of their business plans, while 74 percent of those with comprehensive wellness programs said their employee satisfaction has increased.

According to the NSC, employers who demonstrate that they care about the safety of their employees can see fewer injuries along with better morale, increased productivity and lower costs.

Now, back to the “days without an injury” sign. While signs and placards are good visual reminders, they tend to be passive, impersonal and monolithic. Most people tend to appreciate at least occasional face-to-face feedback and "tangible" rewards. According to the Performance Improvement Council, surveys that seek to determine why employees left a job consistently find "lack of recognition" and "compensation” as the top two reasons. Recognizing achievements and safe behaviors as they happen or soon after tells employees they are appreciated for being safe and for ensuring they keep a safe work environment.

And when all employees take ownership of their roles in safety at work, it becomes, as it should be, a team effort. Go team!

References:
1. Every Worker Deserves to Make it Home Safe from Work—Every Day, http://www.nsc.org/learn/pages/safety-at-work.aspx?var=mnd
2. Performance Improvement Council, “The Four Pillars of Safety,” white paper March 2014, http://c.ymcdn.com/sites/www.incentivemarketing.org/resource/resmgr/Docs/Pillar-of-Safety_Mar2014_wMb.pdf?hhSearchTerms=%22Four+and+Pillars+and+Safety+and+-+and+Performance+and+Improveme%22
3. State of the Industry Survey Report 2017, http://community.virginpulse.com/state-of-the-industry-2017-wc

A new survey from the CDC found that one in four U.S. adults who believe their hearing is good or excellent may have hearing damage. Much of this damage, according to the study, results from loud sounds that occur every day at home.

The study found that 20 percent of people who reported no job-related noise exposure had hearing damage in a pattern caused by noise. This damage appeared as early as the age of 20.

Read entire article - https://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2017/p0207-hearing-loss.html

Tagged in: CDC hearing loss

According to the final data released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics in its Census of Fatal Occupational Injury data for fiscal 2015, of the 4,836 fatal workplace injuries that year, 136 were associated with confined spaces. While it represents less than three percent of the total, that number is significant because in most cases, such fatalities could be prevented.

According to OSHA, a confined space is an area that is large enough and configured such that an employee or person can bodily enter and perform some type of work; has limited or restricted means for entry or exit; and is not designed for continuous occupancy. Some examples of confined spaces include storage tanks, sewers, manholes, tunnels, ship voids, pipelines, silos, wells, pits and trenches. These also require a permit for entry. In the United States, any pit or trench with a depth equal to or greater than four feet is classified as a permit-required confined space.

Confined spaces, as the term suggests, might also act to harbor hazardous gases. For this reason, regulation number CFR 1910.146(c) subsection (d) states that "There may be no hazardous atmosphere within a space whenever an employee is inside the space." This is where atmospheric sampling is an invaluable tool.

According to OSHA, a hazardous atmosphere is an environment that could expose an employee to the risk of death or incapacitation, injury, or acute illness, or could keep the employee from rescuing him- or herself. That includes flammable gas, vapor or mist; airborne combustible dust; atmospheric oxygen above or below specified thresholds, or any other immediately dangerous atmospheric condition.

The practice of atmospheric testing in confined spaces to gauge potential hazards is hardly new – taking along a caged canary into a coal mine is perhaps the best known example from history.

A subcategory of confined spaces requires a permit in order for workers to operate inside them. Such permit-required confined spaces must have one or more specific characteristics: The first is that they contain hazardous gases. Others are that they contain a material that has the potential for engulfing an entrant, have an internal configuration that could lead to entrapment or asphyxiation, or contain any other recognized serious safety or health hazard. Hazardous gases are classified into three categories: toxic, asphyxiating and flammable or explosive. Confined spaces can present any combination of those atmospheric hazards.

Workplace Safety & Health Co. is equipped to review confined spaces in your facility, determine whether each meets the OSHA criteria for confined space, and if so, whether it should be permit-required.

With our experience in assessing thousands of confined spaces in a wide range of industries, Workplace Safety & Health Co. can help your organization reach a “best practice” level of compliance. Give us a call or visit our website today to learn more.

Tagged in: confined space

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