Safety Focused Newsletter - June 2019

Emergency Preparedness During National Safety Month

It’s always important to take a proactive approach to safety in the workplace, but sometimes an emergency can arise at a moment’s notice. Taking some time to plan before an incident takes place can help you take action quickly and ensure the safety of yourself and your co-workers. And, because the National Safety Council organizes National Safety Month every June, it’s a great time to review emergency preparedness in various workplace settings.

Here are some strategies to help ensure you’re ready to respond to an emergency in the workplace:

  • Check workplace policies—There may already be plans in place for how to respond to an emergency, but they’ll only be effective if you and your co-workers follow them. These plans may also include evacuation routes or strategies to help contain a hazard.
  • Stay focused and calm—You may not have time to react to an emergency, so you should always be ready to get to safety at any time. Try to keep essentials on hand so can take them with you, as you should never go back to a dangerous area to gather your belongings.
  • Have a communication plan—After you’re in a safe area, you should have a plan to communicate with your manager, co-workers or emergency responders. Try to meet in a designated location that’s established by a workplace policy and give an update on your status as soon as possible.
  • Help others when possible—Make your own safety a priority during an emergency, but offer any help you can if there aren’t any hazards present. It may be a good idea to check the locations of first-aid kits in your workplace if you need to treat an injury.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are about 330 heat-related fatalities every year.

5 Tips for Outdoor Heat Safety

The hot summer months can cause body temperatures to rise to unsafe levels, especially when combined with strenuous work. Outdoor workers are also be vulnerable to heat-related illnesses since they spend long periods in direct sunlight.

There are many types of heat illnesses, such as heat stroke, heat exhaustion, dehydration and heat cramps. Each of these conditions have various symptoms, but they commonly cause dizziness, weakness, nausea, blurred vision, confusion or loss of consciousness.

Here are some tips for staying safe in the heat while working outdoors:

  1. Wear loose, light-colored clothing so your skin gets air exposure.
  2. Shield your head and face from direct sunlight by wearing a hat and sunglasses.
  3. Take regular breaks to rest in a shaded area. If you’re wearing heavy protective gear, consider removing it to help cool off even more.
  4. Ease into your work and gradually build up to more strenuous activity as the day progresses. You should also avoid overexerting yourself during the hottest hours of the day.
  5. Drink water frequently, even if you aren’t thirsty. Experts recommend drinking at least eight ounces every 20 to 30 minutes to stay hydrated. Stick to water, fruit juice and sport drinks and avoid caffeinated beverages, as they can dehydrate you.

Employees should take care to monitor themselves and their co-workers on hot days. If you notice any signs of heat illness, notify your on-duty supervisor immediately.

Heat illnesses can usually be treated by being moved to a cooler area and drinking cool liquids. In extreme cases when heat illnesses cause unconsciousness, health care professionals should be alerted immediately.

Taking some time to plan before an incident takes place can help you take action quickly and ensure the safety of yourself and your co-workers.

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Construction Risk Advisor - June 2019

Trenching and Excavating Safety

Excavations are any man-made cuts, cavities, trenches or depressions formed by earth removal. Of these, trenches—narrow excavations made below the surface of the ground—create the most significant workplace hazards, particularly as they relate to:

  • Cave-ins
  • Hazardous atmospheres (e.g., carbon monoxide, noxious gas, vapors or a lack of oxygen)
  • Falls (e.g., a worker accidently falls into a trench and injures themselves)
  • Floods or water accumulation
  • Mobile equipment (e.g., equipment operated or stored too close to the excavation site falls into the trench)

Above all, cave-ins present the greatest risk in trenching and are more likely to result in worker fatalities than any other excavation-related accidents. In fact, one cubic yard of soil can weigh as much as a car, leading to serious injuries or even death in the event of a trench collapse. In order to keep workers safe, employers must consider one or more of the following protective systems:

  • Shoring involves installing aluminum hydraulic or other types of supports to prevent soil movement and cave-ins. Shoring systems typically consist of posts, wales, struts and sheeting.
  • Benching/sloping is a method of protecting workers from cave-ins by excavating the sides of an excavation to form one or a series of horizontal levels or steps, usually with vertical or near vertical surfaces between levels. Sloping, if done correctly, removes the risk of cave-ins by sloping the soil of the trench back from the trench bottom.
  • Shielding protects workers by using trench boxes or other types of supports to prevent soil cave-ins.

For more information on construction safety, contact Hierl Insurance Inc. today.

Newsletter Provided by: Hierl's Property & Casualty Experts

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Commercial Risk Advisor - June 2019

Benefits of Crime Insurance

While you may think your business would never be the victim of a crime, the harsh reality is that nearly every business can become a victim. In this day and age, criminals (including employees) do not need direct access to cash to steal from you—merchandise, supplies and securities are all fair game. Standard commercial insurance policies may provide some protection from criminal acts, but they often do not cover losses resulting from all types of fraudulent activities. Crime insurance was developed to deal with the limitations of other policies and extend protection to include coverage for a wide variety of wrongdoings:

  • Coverage for the misuse of funds—It is likely that a number of your employees have access to company funds or financial information. In some cases, employees may abuse this access for personal gain. Crime insurance can protect organizations from the misuse or illegal transfer of funds, ensuring your finances are safe from internal criminal acts.
  • Insurance for goods in transit—Goods in transit are particularly vulnerable to employee theft and, in some cases, organizations may not notice anything has been stolen until it is too late. What’s more, if the theft takes place outside of the organization’s premises, it can be difficult to prove, often leading to drawn out and expensive legal battles. Crime insurance policies can provide ample protection for goods in transit and reduce the likelihood of extreme losses whenever you send or receive products.
  • Coverage for forgery and alteration—Your employees may have access to checks that they can easily alter for their own gain. Crime insurance policies provide coverage for losses that result from the forgery or alteration of a check.

The only way to ensure your company has the protection it needs is through crime insurance. To discuss your unique risks and to learn more about crime insurance policies, contact your insurance broker.

Fire Protection Impairment Programs

A fire can be extremely damaging to your organization, and while a fire protection system may be able to protect against many threats, impairments are an inevitable part of a fire protection system’s life cycle. An impairment is any time that a fire detection, alarm or suppression system is out of service or unable to operate to the full extent of its intended design. During an impairment, the chances of a fire developing and causing major damage is greatly increased.

There are two types of impairments: planned (the system is purposely put out of service for maintenance) and unplanned (the system is unintentionally out of service). These are further grouped into two different levels of severity—major and minor:

  1. Major—The impairment lasts more than ten hours and/or affects multiple systems.
  2. Minor—The impairment lasts for fewer than ten hours and is limited to a single system.

Ensuring safety and efficiency during an impairment requires a great deal of work, planning and coordination. To be prepared for an impairment, organizations should develop a written program, assign responsibilities to staff and train employees in the procedures to be followed during an impairment.

The written program should outline exactly what to do before, during and after an impairment based on its type and severity, as well as assign and detail the role and responsibilities. The most important role to consider is that of the impairment supervisor, who will implement and manage the fire protection impairment program, take care of scheduling planned impairments and carry out the plan during unplanned impairments.

Above all, the goal of a fire protection impairment program is to minimize the risk of a fire developing and spreading during an impairment while maintenance, repairs and tests are performed to the system. Before an impairment period, or upon discovering an unplanned impairment, the impairment supervisor should obtain a copy of the organization’s fire protection impairment program form and fill it out. This form must be updated as progress is made to include further details of the impairment and repair process.

To learn more about fire protection impairment programs, contact Hierl Insurance Inc. today.

The Following Parties Should be Notified in the Event of an Impairment as Soon as Possible:

Insurance company or companies

The local fire department

Safety managers, or relevant managers and supervisors

Staff

Building owners or their designated representative

 

Standard commercial insurance policies may provide some protection from criminal acts, but they often do not cover losses resulting from fraudulent activities.

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Trucking Risk Advisor - June 2019

New Resources for the CDL Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse Available

Recently, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) released resources regarding the implementation of its Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse. The Clearinghouse is a secure online database that gives employers, the FMCSA, state driver licensing agencies and law enforcement personnel real-time access to important information about CDL driver drug and alcohol program violations. In addition, the Clearinghouse will:

  • Centralize testing processing for CDL holders who operate commercial motor vehicles (CMVs).
  • Help employers and other parties identify ineligible drivers by allowing stakeholders to see if CDL drivers of interest have violated federal drug and alcohol testing program requirements.
  • Ensure that drivers who commit drug and alcohol program violations complete the necessary steps before getting back on the road or performing any other safety-sensitive function.

As of Jan. 6, 2020, motor carriers will be required to use the Clearinghouse to check on a current employee’s status at least once per year. To learn more, click here.

Newsletter Provided by: Hierl's Property & Casualty Experts

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The Indirect Costs of Accidents

Successful motor carriers have always made safety a priority, both to safeguard their employees and lower the costs associated with accidents. But, with the number of drivers on U.S. roadways increasing, there’s also a rising number of accidents and collisions. In fact, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found that fatalities from large truck crashes have reached their highest level in 29 years.

Accidents can lead to a number of direct costs for fleets, from medical bills, property damage and vehicle repairs. However, as the demand for increased freight capacity continues to increase, employers that sacrifice safety for increased capacity may not consider these indirect costs:

  • Loss of revenue—Most vehicles involved in an accident need to stay idle for a significant amount of time, leading to lower efficiency or even the complete loss of a delivery order.
  • Fines and penalties—Trucks that cause an accident may face significant traffic violations and FMCSA penalties. Plus, significant FMCSA violations can add to compliance requirements and take some of your attention off of your regular operations.
  • Legal fees—Accidents can lead to significant legal fees from lost freight and third-party claims. Long legal proceedings can be a drain on your finances, regardless of whether you win or lose a claim.
  • Insurance premiums—Insurance carriers continue to raise commercial vehicle policy rates as the number of accidents increases. Even small incidents can lead to significant insurance rate increases as insurers try to recover funds lost from claims.

The best way to make safety a priority during any commercial driving operation is to establish a comprehensive safety program. This should start with a collaborative effort between managers, fleet supervisors, drivers, mechanics and other stakeholders in order to identify safety risks across all aspects of your organization, and develop effective and proactive solutions.


OSHA Penalty Schedule

HIGHLIGHTS

OSHA CITATIONS

  • Citations must describe the particular nature of the violation.
  • OSHA will provide a reasonable time to correct the problem.
  • Citations must be posted at or near the location where the violation occurred and must remain on display until the violation is corrected.

2019 PENALTIES

  • $13,260 per serious, other-than-serious and posting violation
  • $13,260 per day for failure to abate a violation
  • $132,598 per willful or repeated violation

OSHA Penalty Schedule

An employer receives a written citation when it violates OSHA standards or regulations. The citation will describe the particular nature of the violation and will include a reference to the provision of the chapter, standard, rule, regulation or order the employer violated.

In addition, the citation will provide a reasonable amount of time for the employer to correct the problem. When the violation does not pose a direct or immediate threat to safety or health (de minimis violation), OSHA may issue a notice or warning instead of a citation.

An employer that receives a citation must post a copy of it at or near the place where the violation occurred. The notice must remain on display for three days or until the violation is corrected, whichever is longer. Penalties may be adjusted depending on the gravity of the violation and the employer’s size, history of previous violations and ability to show a good faith effort to comply with OSHA requirements.

LINKS AND RESOURCES

CURRENT PENALTIES

Below is a list of potential citations employers may receive and a range of corresponding penalties for these citations.

Violation

Current Penalty

De minimis violation Warning
Other-than-serious violation Up to $13,260 per violation
Serious violation 

A violation where there is a substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from an employer’s practice, method, operation or process. An employer is excused if it could not reasonably know of the presence of the violation.

Up to $13,260 per violation
Willful or repeated violation 

A violation is willful when committed intentionally and knowingly. The employer must be aware that a hazardous condition exists, know that the condition violates an OSHA standard or other obligation, and make no reasonable effort to eliminate it.

Between $9,472 and $132,598 per violation
Repeated violation

A violation is repeated when it is substantially similar to a violation that was already present in a previous citation.

Up to $132,598 per violation
Willful violation resulting in death of employee Up to $10,000 and/or imprisonment for up to six months.

Penalties may double for a second or higher conviction.

Uncorrected violation Up to $13,260 per day until the violation is corrected
Making false statements, representations or certifications Up to $10,000 and/or imprisonment for up to six months
Violation of posting requirements Up to $13,260 per violation
Providing unauthorized advance notice of inspection Up to $1,000, imprisonment for up to six months or both

Current laws allow OSHA to adjust the maximum penalty amounts every year to account for the cost of inflation, as shown by the consumer price index (CPI). If OSHA plans to adjust penalty amounts, it must signal its intention by Jan. 15 of each year.

For more information regarding OSHA regulations, standard or penalties, contact us today.

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Trucking Risk Advisor - May 2019

CVSA Roadcheck to Take Place June 4-6

The Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance’s (CVSA) annual International Roadcheck will run June 4-6, 2019. During the International Roadcheck, inspectors will conduct the North American Standard Level I Inspection, a 37-step procedure that includes an examination of both driver operating requirements and vehicle mechanical fitness. This year’s blitz will place a special emphasis on steering and suspension systems.

Over the 72-hour blitz period, commercial motor vehicle inspectors in jurisdictions throughout North America will conduct assessments of commercial motor vehicles and drivers. Drivers are required to provide their license, Medical Examiner’s Certificate and Skill Performance Evaluation Certificate (if applicable), record of duty status and vehicle inspection reports (if applicable).

If no critical inspection item violations are found during inspection, a CVSA decal will be applied to the vehicle, indicating that the vehicle successfully passed a decal-eligible inspection conducted by a CVSA-certified inspector.

If an inspector identifies any violations, they may render the driver or vehicle out of service. This means that the driver cannot operate the vehicle until the violations are corrected. To read the official release from the CVSA about this year’s roadcheck, click here.

Newsletter Provided by: Hierl's Property & Casualty Experts

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Preventative Maintenance Tips for Drivers

In order to preserve the safety and longevity of a fleet, regular maintenance and inspections are critical. Drivers play a key role in these practices, and their efforts help minimize service interruptions, manage costs for employers and, above all, ensure vehicles are safe for the road. While specific procedures are often part of a larger preventive maintenance program, there are several responsibilities all drivers have when it comes to avoiding costly vehicle breakdowns.

Before and after every trip, drivers should do the following:

  • Check all lights and signals, including taillights, headlights, brake lights, high beams and turn signals. Ensure tires are in good condition. Be sure to check the tire pressure and tread levels.
  • Review fluid levels, verifying that engine oil, coolant, transmission, brake and power-steering fluids are at appropriate levels. When it comes to changing fluids, follow manufacturer-provided suggestions.
  • Inspect brakes to ensure they are functioning properly. When checking your brakes, listen closely for any grinding noises, as this could indicate a more serious issue.
  • Clean the exterior of your truck. This can prevent dirt and debris buildup, which can deteriorate a truck’s paint job or undercarriage over time.
  • Test the battery. Examine all belts and hoses in the engine bay. These hoses help direct coolant flow and prevent engines from overheating.

Regular maintenance and inspections can go a long way toward identifying potential issues. Consider establishing a preventive maintenance program for continued fleet safety.


OSHA Cornerstones - Second Quarter 2019

OSHA Signals Updates to Powered Industrial Truck Standards as It Requests Information From Employers

OSHA recently requested information on powered industrial trucks in the workplace, a sign that the agency will likely update its standards on these vehicles. Although the American National Standards Institute and the National Fire Protection Association updated their own standards last year, OSHA’s regulations have only been changed once since they were adopted in 1971.

Powered industrial trucks are one of the most frequently cited OSHA standards, with 2,294 violations in 2018. The agency’s current regulations don’t include language on common risk exposures, such as carbon monoxide buildup from engines, noise hazards and stopping distances on descending grades. And, although updates may require employers to implement new safety procedures, OSHA stated that a major goal is to remove regulatory burden while improving safety.

As a part of the request for information, OSHA specified that it wants data on these specific topics:

  • The types, age and usage of powered industrial trucks
  • Maintenance and retrofitting procedures for each type of powered industrial truck
  • Suggestions for regulating older vehicle models
  • The types of accidents and injuries associated with the use of these vehicles
  • The advantages and drawbacks of retrofitting machines with new safety features
  • Any relevant components of powered industrial truck safety programs

OSHA will accept public comments on powered industrial trucks until June 10. For more information, see the full notice on the Federal Register’s website.

Increased OSHA Penalties for 2019

Federal law requires OSHA to increase its maximum penalties every year to account for inflation. Here’s a list of the maximum penalties for 2019:

  • Other-than-serious violation: $13,260 per violation
  • Serious violation: $13,260 per violation
  • Failure to comply with posting requirements: $13,260 per violation
  • Failure to correct a violation: $13,260 per day until corrected
  • Repeated violation: $132,598 per violation
  • Willful violation: $132,598 per violation, and a minimum penalty of $9,472 per violation

OSHA Issues Final Rule to Roll Back Electronic Reporting Requirements After Concerns About Employee Privacy

Earlier this year, OSHA updated its electronic reporting rule after concerns that reports on workplace injuries and illnesses contain employees’ personal information. The agency also explained that under the original rule, it was possible for this information to be disclosed publicly through a Freedom of Information Act request or OSHA’s Injury Tracking Application.

The new final rule only requires certain establishments to submit data from OSHA Form 300A, and became effective on Feb. 25. Previously, establishments with 250 or more employees were also required to submit forms 300 and 301. While this requirement was removed before the March 2 deadline to submit data, OSHA stated that it’s likely that many employers automatically submitted data from all three forms, and using software to remove personal details won’t be 100 percent effective.

Some organizations believe the final rule will negatively affect workplace safety, and six states filed a lawsuit against OSHA in an attempt to reinstate the original electronic reporting requirements. However, others believe that the final rule still allows the agency to collect a summary of workplace injuries and illnesses without revealing potentially harmful personal information.

New and Updated OSHA Resources to Help Prevent Falls

Falls are one of the most common and dangerous injuries in the workplace, and OSHA recently released a number of resources to help employers stay aware of common fall hazards and train their workforces.

Here’s a summary of the new and updated resources:

For more resources on preventing falls at your organization, call 920-921-5921 today or visit www.hierl.com.

According to the National Employment Law Project, the Trump administration's focus on deregulation has caused OSHA enforcement activity to fall and fatality investigations to rise.

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The Building Blocks of a Safe Workplace

The Building Blocks of a Safe Workplace

Building a comprehensive safety culture is the best way to reduce illnesses and injuries, and their associated costs. But creating such a culture is not an overnight process or “flavor of the month” program. Instead, it is a multi-year, top management commitment that results in an organization with low accident rates, low turnover, low absenteeism and high productivity. This is a big-picture, long-term project.

A robust safety culture has the following characteristics:

  • At the highest organizational level, there is a well-articulated commitment to safety. This translates into organization-wide values, beliefs, and behavioral norms.
  • Employees’ base compensation ties directly to their commitment to the safety culture. This commitment is assessed in regular performance reviews.
  • Safety takes precedence over everything else, even production and efficiency. Employees who err on the side of safety should be rewarded, even if a later review suggests that the additional safety measures or concerns were unnecessary.
  • Communication about safety occurs across all levels of the organization in a consistently open, unedited, and honest manner. If problems or errors are identified, they are eagerly communicated, recorded, and analyzed without anyone being “persecuted.”
  • Unsafe acts—the main cause of accidents—are rare.
  • Employees continuously learn and identify opportunities for process improvements that will decrease the likelihood of an accident.

The following sections explore in more detail some of the key components of a successful safety culture.

Benchmarking

It is difficult to just guess the quality of your safety culture. Therefore, it is important to benchmark where you are now, both in subjective terms and in objective, analytical measurements. By combining an analytical tracking system with a periodic, subjective culture survey, you can better understand the impact your efforts to improve the safety culture are having over time.

Hiring to Avoid Workplace Injuries

Due to preexisting medical conditions or limitations, some potential job candidates may be more prone to workplace injury.

It is a common misconception that the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prevents you from asking any medical questions during the hiring process. However, according to the Department of Labor, there are actually three stages of employment: pre-employment, post-offer, but pre-placement (after the conditional offer of employment) and finally, employment. During the first and third stages, it is true that you cannot ask any medical questions. However, during the second phase (after a conditional offer of employment is extended) you can ask the applicant to fill out a medical questionnaire and/or take a medical exam. If, in medical opinion, the applicant is unfit for the job, you can withdraw the offer. It’s that simple. To avoid hiring your next workers’ compensation claim, there are two key processes you need to implement.

A true safety culture requires continual support and impacts all parts of your organization’s operations—from hiring processes to training to daily reinforcement.

The Conditional Offer of Employment

The ADA says that employers cannot require a job applicant to provide medical information or undergo a medical exam until a conditional offer of employment is made. When a conditional offer is made you are essentially hiring the candidate. The only way an offer may be withdrawn prior to the effective date of employment is if, in medical opinion, the candidate will be unable to perform the job duties safely with reasonable accommodations.

The Medical Questionnaire/Exam

After you extend a conditional offer of employment, it is time to perform a medical screening of the candidate. If information emerges from the screening that indicates that the candidate will not be able to perform the job duties safely even with reasonable accommodations, then and only then can you withdraw the offer of employment.

Stay Out of Trouble with OSHA

OSHA most often shows up at your workplace in response to an employee complaint or serious accident. The best way to be prepared is to be in compliance. Not only does OSHA compliance help you avoid costly fines, it also ensures that safe work practices are being encouraged. Fortunately, some of the most common OSHA violations are also the easiest to address.

Postings

OSHA requires that employers display certain posters and notices in the workplace. Not all employers need to post every notice—some apply only to very specific industries or situations—but you need to know which notices you are required to post and do so.

Recordkeeping

OSHA also requires certain employers to track workplace injuries and illnesses, and report them periodically.

HAZCOM

OSHA’s Hazard Communication Standard states that employees must be made aware of all chemicals used in

OSHA’s Hazard Communication Standard states that employees must be made aware of all chemicals used in their workplace, the hazards they present and instruction for safe handling. This is accomplished with labels, safety data sheets (SDS), and employee information and training.

In addition to the three key areas of frequent OSHA violations, there is an easy way for you to identify the top violations in your specific industry. OSHA provides a searchable database of the most frequent OSHA violations by company size and Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) code.

Promoting the Health of Your Workers

As an employer, you bear many of the direct costs (such as medical claims) and the indirect costs (such as absenteeism and lowered productivity) of diseases, disorders and conditions that afflict your employees.

Research shows that you can avoid or reduce many of these costs by providing early behavioral and/or clinical interventions for your employees. Clinical preventive services include screenings and immunizations, as well as follow-up care. Behavioral interventions can include counseling and health promotion programs such as smoking cessation, weight management and physical activity initiatives.

Beyond what it does for them in their personal lives, improving your employees’ health has two fundamental and practical benefits for the health of your business.

Increased productivity

It is a simple fact that employees in good health are much more likely to be performing at optimal levels than employees in poor health.

Reduced health care costs

Employees with poor health use more health care resources and generate more claim costs than their healthy peers. Overall, you can expect to save about $3.50 in health care costs for every dollar you invest in effective health promotion.

Implementing a wellness program does not have to be an overwhelming task. In fact, you are more likely to have a successful program if you focus on a few key areas that are of interest to most employees and where results can be significant.

A true safety culture requires continual support and impacts all parts of your organization’s operations—from hiring processes to training to daily reinforcement.

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