Stick To Safety

Bob Lapidus, CSP, CSMS

 

What do you mean, stick to safety?  For those of you who are safety specialists for your organizations, management expects you to stick to what you have been hired to do.  Whether you are an internal safety person or an external safety consultant, you have been brought in to provide advisory support on the subject safety.

Well, of course, isn’t that what everyone does?

Not always.  Some safety people slip into giving advice beyond safety.  A common topic is telling managers and supervisors how to manage their organizations.  A friend and colleague of mine, a safety management consultant, did an audit of a manufacturing operation.  He saw that top management was not managing the firm to get the most out of its employees and assets.  In his report, he not only covered what needed to be done to enhance the safety effort, but he also gave suggestions for improving how management should oversee the organization which would help the safety program too.

He was invited to present his recommendations at a meeting of the organization’s board of directors.  When he started talking about his suggestions for improving management in general, my friend was literally asked to leave.  Management had hired him to do a safety management audit, not a management audit.  They were offended that he would presume that he had the right to tell them how to run their organization.

We don’t have the right to tell our managers how to run their organizations.  Our mission is to help management prevent losses, reduce the severity of those losses that occur, and comply with applicable standards.  We may use management techniques to achieve these results, but they must tie directly into our safety efforts and not how to manage the overall organization.

I have been tempted to help managers and supervisors improve their managerial skills, but I always knew that I had to integrate such suggestions into the safety effort, not the general management of the organization.

As safety people, we see things we believe should be accomplished differently, but we truly need to know our place and stick to safety, the reason we are there, unless directly asked otherwise.

 

For More Information:

Go to www.safetycenter.org for more information about Safety Center’s Safety Management Specialist Certificate.

After completing this nine-day program, graduates may take the exam to achieve the Certified Safety Management Specialist (CSMS) designation. Recipients of the CSMS receive a beautiful plaque and become part of an elite group of safety specialists who have achieved this recognition.  Once this certification is attained, successful candidates keep it for the rest of their lives without any additional requirements or fees.

Does Your Organization Have Enough Employees to Do All Your Work Safely?

Bob Lapidus, CSP, CSMS

 

My colleagues and I ask a series of questions in a safety management questionnaire we have been using and updating for many years.  Some of the questions pertain directly to whether an organization has a sufficient number of employees to do its work safely:

 

Question #1: Are there enough people to do the work in a safe manner?

This prime question requires management to think about whether all the different tasks can be safely completed.  The normal gut response is usually yes.  Well, don’t we have enough employees?  We have had very few injuries and those injuries we have sustained were caused by employees being careless or not using their common sense.  An additional employee would not have prevented the injury from being sustained.

Then we ask more specific questions that might cause the responders to re-think their first answer:

 

Question #2: Do Organization personnel always work with at least one other person when doing hazardous work (tasks that pose a risk of severe or fatal injury)?

Most of the time, management responds with a yes.  When the answer is no, the reason is because there aren’t enough employees to have two at the same job site.

 

Question #3: If an employee needs to call for emergency assistance, can the emergency response arrive on site in a timely manner?

In most locales, the answer is yes, but there are many rural locations where there is no way that emergency response can respond in a timely manner.  The suggestion to protect employees who are not near a timely emergency response is to recommend that two people be present in those situations trained in first aid and CPR . . . That takes us back to the answer to #2.  That will work with most of the organizations with which we work (see the most of the time answer for Question #2), but when there aren’t enough employees to even do hazardous work with more than one employee, what happens then?  What risk do we take when we have one person working alone, doing a hazardous task, with emergency response not being timely?

 

Let’s add a specific dilemma to this problem:

 

Question #4: If you have the requirement for entry into permit-required confined spaces, do you have a written Permit-Required Confined Space (PRCS) Safety Program?

How many employees are needed to do a safe entry into a PRCS and a rescue, if needed?  The answer is:  at least three.

Do you have a sufficient number of employees to do the work?  Well . . . for most things we do; we are okay.  Yes, there are certain circumstances where we do not have enough employees, but those situations are rare, and we have never even had a close call . . .

Is the risk acceptable or unacceptable?  Is the potential loss acceptable or unacceptable?  What is the probability of a severe loss?  We make decisions.  Sometimes we luck out.  Sometimes we don’t.  In safety we should not depend upon luck.  We need to manage our organizations with the purpose of protecting our employees.

As a good safety practice, review the amount and kind of work your organization does compared with your staffing.  Determine if you have enough employees to do the work safely, and establish short- to long-term goals to increase staffing to meet the work needs, if needed.  As in all things in safety, be proactive, not reactive.

 

For More Information:

Go to www.safetycenter.org for more information about Safety Center’s Safety Management Specialist Certificate.

After completing this nine-day program, graduates may take the exam to achieve the Certified Safety Management Specialist (CSMS) designation. Recipients of the CSMS receive a beautiful plaque and become part of an elite group of safety specialists who have achieved this recognition.  Once this certification is attained, successful candidates keep it for the rest of their lives without any additional requirements or fees.

Anti-Fatigue Mats – Is Softer Really Better?

Anyone who stands for prolonged periods of time in the same place can benefit from an anti-fatigue mat. Is the softest mat the right choice?

There are many ergonomic or anti-fatigue mats available. One of the primary features being advertised today is which one is the “softest” or “plushest?”

Softer is not better when it comes to reducing fatigue and injury. Mats which fall outside the optimal parameters for reducing fatigue may in fact increase fatigue and the likelihood of injury due to surface instability. Research shows that a standing surface which is too soft causes excessive body sway and lower extremity shifting, which increases lower extremity fatigue. This balancing act also improperly shifts the weight which may lead to misalignment health issues.

A dense rubber mat is less tiring than a soft mat and will provide better support. A foam mat which is too soft may look and feel nice at first, but users will be constantly balancing on the mat, similar to walking on sand. A bed mattress is very soft, but you would not want to stand on one all day. Some employees think that if one mat is good, then two mats would work even better! This is NOT the case. An extreme level of instability, caused by using multiple or overly soft mats, increases the risk of loss-of-balance in addition to having a negative effect on overall body posture.

Too much instability increases subtle muscular activity as the body works to maintain balance, accelerating fatigue levels. Fatigue-induced deterioration in postural stability and balance may lead to an increase in the risk of slips, falls and workplace accidents. In addition, too much instability can cause or exacerbate musculoskeletal conditions in the back, hips, knees, ankles and feet, and also may cause painful conditions like plantar fasciitis to be even more debilitating.

The best method is to try a few different mats and choose the best one for each location and job. This will depend on the area, the environment (wet/dry/slip resistant/anti-bacterial, etc.), and the type of tasks being performed other than standing. Optimally, mats have a tapered edge to prevent tripping hazards and are not located in traffic areas.

Team Accurate

Accurate Ergonomics

707.894.4544 |  1.866.950.3746 (ERGO)

Health & Safety for Every Body

www.AccurateErgonomics.com

Integrating Safety into an Organization’s Style of Management

Bob Lapidus, CSP, CSMS

There are some decisions relating to safety that are simply right or wrong.  Take compliance with Cal/OSHA safety standards.  The right thing to do is to guard an unguarded rotating blade or shaft to protect severe injuries to employees.  It also prevents the organization from receiving a serious citation or penalty from Cal/OSHA.  There is no choice.  The machine must have a guard in place.

On the other hand, for some decisions there is no right or wrong answer, just what will work better in the specific organization.  For example, deciding how to communicate the safety message to employees or how to ensure dialogue amongst managers, supervisors and employees can be conducted in a variety of ways, but should correspond to each organization’s style.

In an autocratic organization, communication tends to be top down.  In a participative organization, communication goes down and up the organization’s chain of command.  Although rare, there are some organizations that have no hierarchy of organizational structure.  Everyone works together to identify and solve problems.

Our job in the field of safety is to know how the organization actually works and then integrate safety programs into the style and culture of the management/employee relationship.  No one safety program or activity works for all organizations.

Over the years there have been attempts to initiate an OSHA requirement that all employers must have a safety committee.  Given the above paragraphs, such a requirement would be preposterous.  Safety committees work in organizations that are participative in nature.  In a top-down management style, all directives come from top management.  Most such managers would not listen to what comes out of a participative safety committee.  The two forces do not match.

On the other hand, where management does seek participation from its employee workforce, a safety committee can indeed work.  Nevertheless, employees expect management to listen to their ideas and integrate them into what the organization is doing for safety.  Otherwise, the participative style is a lie and the overall safety program’s credibility is hurt.

Merging safety programs and activities into the established management style benefits everyone concerned.  Safety specialists work with management to determine the optimum approach for its safety programs to achieve a win-win outcome for everyone.  Buy in from top management is achieved by involving them in making this determination.  From that point, safety specialists ascertain what programs and activities will achieve this optimum approach.

 

For More Information:

Go to www.safetycenter.org for more information about Safety Center’s Safety Management Specialist Certificate.

After completing this nine-day program, graduates may take the exam to achieve the Certified Safety Management Specialist (CSMS) designation. Recipients of the CSMS receive a beautiful plaque and become part of an elite group of safety specialists who have achieved this recognition.  Once this certification is attained, successful candidates keep it for the rest of their lives without any additional requirements or fees.

Nothing Can Stay Static

Bob Lapidus, CSP, CSMS

A successful organization is productive, efficient, and safe.  Working with its employees, management strives to enhance everything it does to make the organization thrive in all things.

When an organization starts to lose sight of its goals and objectives, when it starts to ignore problems, when it allows sloppiness to become the order of the day, and it becomes lax in its efforts to do everything the right way, it will soon start to crumble and fail.  Products and services will lose their reliability.  The inner energy of the organization will subside.  People will lose their desire to do their work to the best of their capabilities.

Nothing can stay static.  It either gets better or worse.  Whether it’s the organization as a whole or part of the entity, such as the safety program, energy must continually be expended to keep efforts productive, efficient, and safe.

As it is said in the stock market, history is no predictor of future performance.  Past safety efforts were successful because they fit the culture of the organization and they strove to prevent accidents and injuries on an ongoing basis.

Today, we need to continue to identify our current safety problems and develop new remedies based upon present-day information, knowledge, and skills.  Get buy-in by obtaining involvement in solving identified issues.  Ask the involved people for their ideas.  Safety people should not try to find the solutions to everything by themselves.  Rather, safety people need to energize the workforce.  Praise people for their efforts.  Thank them for taking positive actions.  Coach and counsel those people who lack knowledge, skills and/or discernment, always recognizing productive efforts.

Get out of the office to observe every day work life and talk with fellow employees.  Seek to build a never-ending and dynamic safety program and organization.

 

For More Information:

Go to www.safetycenter.org for more information about Safety Center’s Safety Management Specialist Certificate.

After completing this nine-day program, graduates may take the exam to achieve the Certified Safety Management Specialist (CSMS) designation. Recipients of the CSMS receive a beautiful plaque and become part of an elite group of safety specialists who have achieved this recognition.  Once this certification is attained, successful candidates keep it for the rest of their lives without any additional requirements or fees.

Doctor Topic of the Month: “The Silent Killer”

Happy Saint Patrick’s to all of our Irish Safety Friends and Colleagues!

It is that time of year when the Spring flowers are out and we all think to Summer. For some of us, that means we also must consider the very real possibility that we might have to get into a bathing suit at some point.

Excess weight, although an image concern also is killing us! Following are a few medical considerations. This is a personal issue that many people struggle with. I am hoping that this information helps to motivate those who would like to make some headway with weight loss goals.

Chronic inflammation is sometimes called the “silent killer.” It can be very painful or there can be very few if any symptoms. It can smolder like an inactive volcano for years and then one day erupt with symptoms, perhaps too late, resulting in heart disease, cancer, diabetes, Alzheimer’s or other diseases (think auto immune).

We see many commercials around this topic, Marie Osmond among many others. There are many new medical and treatment centers popping up to treat weight loss and chronic inflammation, but like so many medical subjects (Injury Prevention is in the same category), most of the energy seems to have gone into treating symptoms versus finding and eliminating the cause!

1 pound of excess weight can result in 3 pounds of extra strain on the spinal column, specifically the lumbar region. How many extra pounds are you carrying around? We should be a community to help support each other with these goals and make it fun. Optimally, families embrace these goals together.

Here are a few more facts to get you thinking. Studies have shown that when 2,599 apparently healthy individuals were evaluated, degeneration was found in their bodies due to the excess weight they were carrying. Obese individuals (30 pounds overweight or more), had more disc degenerative levels, higher severity of disc degeneration, and more often had disc-space narrowing compared to non-obese individuals (nerve pressure = pain).

Excess fat works to create disease. Fat cells produce cytokines – tiny secreted proteins that, when released, have an effect on the behavior of cells surrounding them (we all know someone like this). A normal amount of body fat does not produce excess cytokines leading to inflammation. As fat cells grow larger, they produce more and more cytokines, resulting in long-term inflammation.

Surrounding the fatty cells are other cells called macrophages, which also produce cytokines. Macrophages are cells capable of engulfing and absorbing bacteria and other small cells and particles. Macrophages are white blood cells found at the site of infection. A certain amount are necessary for good health, however as fat cells expand the proportion of macrophages increases. These then begin to produce more of the inflammation-promoting cytokines than the fat cells.

The need to know!

Chronic inflammation interferes with the body’s healthy tissues, triggering genetic mutations that can lead to cancer, the bursting of plaque in an artery wall, diabetes, depression, heart disease, stroke, Alzheimer’s and more!

Now the good news!

By reducing fat in the body, you reduce the production of cytokines, which in turn reduces the incidence of chronic inflammation. Fat is not the only thing that causes chronic inflammation, but it is certainly one of the major triggers. Please also remember to increase your daily intake of fiber, especially if you are over 50!

Although it may seem impolite to discuss extra weight with those we know and love, consider it like a chronic cough. If you rid the body of the cause, you rid the body of the symptom!

In summary, there are four specific main causes that bring about excess fat: 1) body toxicity; 2) lack of activity; 3) overeating; and 4) consuming excess simple carbs. One could also add Stress.

A good weight loss method will address and reverse all four of these culprits of excess fat, resulting in swift, healthy and permanent weight loss. There are many programs out there, good luck and tell a friend! Perhaps it is time to help change the eating culture in your own home and with your own family?

 

See you on the beach!!

Team Accurate Ergonomics

CA: 707-894-4544 / 1-866-950-3746

 

Resolving Conflicts in the Workplace

Jim Emerson, Conflict Prevention & Resolution Consultant/Trainer  –  For Bob Lapidus, CSP, CSMS

Resolving conflicts in the workplace is important for many reasons, and one of the primary reasons is to maintain a safe and secure work environment.  People in conflict are most likely upset emotionally and distracted from their job, which makes them more vulnerable to having an accident.  Most of us have been in this situation before and know how anger, frustration and conflict affect our ability to concentrate on anything other than our strong feelings about the conflict.

Many of us feel like resolving a conflict is a practical impossibility most of the time.  Even if it is possible, it feels so complicated that resolution is probably beyond our capabilities.

Successfully working through a conflict can be similar in principle to back packing safely through woods containing dangerous animals.  Knowing and understanding the territory is the key.  Some basic characteristics of the territory of conflict and several solutions for responding in a positive manner are:

  1. Fight or flight makes conflict worse.  Avoid escalating a situation or running from it.
  2. The initial act of anger is the tip of the iceberg.  It is the unsaid underlying causes that drive a person’s anger.  Identify these causes by asking questions to communicate your interest, a major step towards resolution.
  3. Angry people find it difficult or impossible to resolve a conflict.  As hard as it may be, make the decision not to become angry and instead focus on resolving the conflict.
  4. Increased tension is a valid sign of an approaching conflict.  Reduce the tension to help resolve the conflict.
  5. Lack of, incomplete or incorrect communication tends to create conflict.  Listen and clarify information to prevent misunderstandings.

 

Here are some things you can do when conflict starts to begin:

  • Avoid becoming angry,
  • Do not use the word you in discussion, and
  • Seek to lower tensions by gaining knowledge about the other person’s thoughts and feelings.

 

Use the following four-step active listening process (AVECS) to lower tensions and help resolve conflict: 

Step 1:     Acknowledge the other persons’ anger and frustration.  Ask them what is wrong and see if you can determine the reasons behind their anger.  If necessary, briefly write down their key thoughts.

Step 2:    Validate & Empathize (not necessarily agree) with their feelings.  Indicate to them that you understand how they could feel the way they do.

Step 3:    Clarify what they have said by asking questions about what they have said, what their interests are, how they feel about what is happening, and providing feedback about what you have heard.

Step 4:    Summarize by paraphrasing all that you believe you have heard, making sure you are open for any corrections they make.  Use your written notes (Step 1) to help this summary process.

These steps may be completed in a few minutes, a couple of hours, or planned encounters over time.  Having completed the steps, if possible, continue to determine what actions can be taken by both of you to resolve the conflict.   Taking actions that meet both of your best interests as much as possible is the goal.

Try using the above tools.  With a little practice, you can improve your conflict resolution skills.

 

For More Information:

Go to www.safetycenter.org for more information about Safety Center’s Safety Management Specialist Certificate.

After completing this nine-day program, graduates may take the exam to achieve the Certified Safety Management Specialist (CSMS) designation. Recipients of the CSMS receive a beautiful plaque and become part of an elite group of safety specialists who have achieved this recognition.  Once this certification is attained, successful candidates keep it for the rest of their lives without any additional requirements or fees.

Jim Emerson Contact Information
Jim Emerson, Conflict Prevention & Resolution Consultant/Trainer
Emerson@4fast.net
(530) 209-1500

A Feeling of Family

Bob Lapidus, CSP, CSMS

A feeling of family support provides employees with the sense they are cared for and they will be protected.  Such a sentiment is very common among small organizations with two to ten employees.  Yet, it can also occur in large establishments where the smaller offices, shops, and field crews create their own appreciation of family and closeness.

In the field of safety, especially within a well-managed organization striving for excellence and professionalism, a feeling of family can do much to create and maintain a safe work environment.  Others watch out for us.  Our organizational friends help us maintain our facilities and our personal protective equipment.  We act as a team, seeking to be successful in what we do.

The small-group family works hard to accomplish its goals and then recognizes its accomplishments.  Celebrations honoring success are an integral part of the work that is done.  People break bread together and enjoy camaraderie.

Success is realized not only in the work accomplished, but in how it is achieved.  Work is performed safely, efficiently, and correctly.

Accident prevention and compliance are managed.  Safety is integrated into how each task is accomplished, and all levels of the organization work together to prevent the preventable accident.  It is a total group effort.

Managers and supervisors encourage their employees to work cooperatively, helping one another.  Large, heavy or bulky objects are team lifted so no one person is exposed to a strain injury.  Driving is shared.  Hazards are noted and corrected by individuals and by the organization as a whole.

The Injury & Illness Prevention Program is created, implemented, and maintained by everyone, not just selected people.  Everyone is involved in safety communications, doing continuous inspections of the workplace so problems are identified and corrected prior to an injury being sustained.  Training is welcomed and when possible, each person helps in the training process in their own specialty areas.  Employees report possible safety problems and offer solutions.  The solutions are respected by management and the team seeks to work out the best corrective actions.

It is the group of people, working together, that makes the safety culture positive.  A feeling of family generates the desire to do what is right and make the work environment as safe as possible.

For More Information:

Go to www.safetycenter.org for more information about Safety Center’s Safety Management Specialist Certificate.

After completing this nine-day program, graduates may take the exam to achieve the Certified Safety Management Specialist (CSMS) designation. Recipients of the CSMS receive a beautiful plaque and become part of an elite group of safety specialists who have achieved this recognition.  Once this certification is attained, successful candidates keep it for the rest of their lives without any additional requirements or fees.

A SAFETY MANAGEMENT APPROACH “Repetition – Good or Bad?”

Bob Lapidus, CSP, CSMS

A very common complaint amongst employees is being given the same training over and over again, seeing the same videos, getting the same handouts, and hearing the same talk year after year or even more often.

Yet, safety people are taught that repetition enhances the learning process.  It is good to hear the same information so it will stay with our employees.  Otherwise, they forget.

Let’s draw a middle ground here, understanding that repetition helps us keep knowledge and skills up to speed so we don’t forget, we don’t slip, and we don’t let our guard down.  That’s good.

What is bad is when we receive the same knowledge in the same way recurrently.  The manner to make repetition good is to provide it in a variety of formats.

We regularly provide information on safety-related topics, maybe even the same information so our fellow employees do not lose the essence of how to work safely, but we change the training methods and approaches.  We use different training techniques, keeping the material current, but bringing it alive so the men and women in our training programs remain focused and eager to learn more.

Online training is fine on a given topic the first time and then again every once in a while, but not as an ongoing diet.  Repeated programmed learning wallows, not allowing the trainee’s mind to want to receive the information again and again.

We have learned that face to face training with the opportunity to ask questions and interact is a far better way to learn for most people.

Inserting a variety of training techniques into our training programs provides trainers with the opportunity to repeat important safety concerns, rules, regulations, and how to work safely, in a style that enhances the training experience.  Interactive methods include such activities as:

  • The opportunity to ask questions and receive answers
  • Inclusion of quizzes and tests – written and hands-on
  • Actual hands-on activities in class and in the work environment
  • New videos with interesting dialogue, music, graphics, and a good pace
  • Facility and field explorations to help employees identify unsafe conditions and practices
  • Role playing
  • Trainee problem solving and presentations

Repeating what we need to know ingrains the details into our minds and helps us to remember how to do our work in a safe manner.  Receiving the repeated material in different forms gives the trainee various means to learn and remember what is needed.

For More Information:

Go to www.safetycenter.org for more information about Safety Center’s Safety Management Specialist Certificate.

After completing this nine-day program, graduates may take the exam to achieve the Certified Safety Management Specialist (CSMS) designation. Recipients of the CSMS receive a beautiful plaque and become part of an elite group of safety specialists who have achieved this recognition.  Once this certification is attained, successful candidates keep it for the rest of their lives without any additional requirements or fees.

Learn More About Safetyville USA. The Little Town That is Teaching Big Lessons

Ever wondered how and why Safetyville was founded? Capital Public Radio came for a visit to get the scoop. Take a look at the full article (and many more great stories!) at Capital Public Radio.