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Avoid Accidents on the Plant Floor - November 2017

While manufacturing is a much safer industry now than it was in the past, there are still hazards within the workplace. However, many on-the-job accidents can be avoided by focusing on safe practices and taking necessary precautions.

Most accidents are caused by an unsafe act, an unsafe working condition or a combination of the two.  For example, removing a protective guard from a machine is an unsafe act that can easily cause an accident. On the other hand, a spill on the floor could cause someone to fall and get injured, and that accident would be due to an unsafe condition. In either instance, the accident could have been prevented by either following proper safety procedure or being alert to unsafe working conditions.

Hazards You May Encounter

Your job always has some potential for danger, so it’s important to understand what causes accidents so that you can avoid them whenever possible. While it is impossible to list all of the hazards you may encounter while working, common ones include the following:

  • Not wearing proper personal protective equipment
  • Removing guards from machinery
  • Using machines or tools improperly
  • Unsafe handling of materials or chemicals
  • Horseplay
  • Debris or spills that are not cleaned up
  • Wearing hanging jewelry or belts that could be caught in equipment

Safe Steps to Avoid Accidents

The first step to keeping yourself and co-workers safe is to stay alert on the job and don’t let routine or familiarity lure you into carelessness. This can be challenging, especially if you do a repetitive task throughout the day. Always observe safety precautions before and during a task, even if those precautions make the task more inconvenient or take longer to complete. Cutting corners may not seem like a big deal, but doing so is a primary cause of accidents.

Next, know your job. The more you know about your job, the safer you’ll be. Know the proper procedures and safety precautions for any task you do, and if any questions arise during your work day, be sure to talk to your supervisor. Be on the lookout for unsafe conditions near your workstation.

And finally, make a personal contribution. A good way to start this is to follow all safety rules and always wear required uniform and protective equipment, even if you think they are unnecessary or slow you down. Certain rules in the workplace are made for your protection, so follow them. Also, just because an unsafe act is not specifically prohibited, it doesn’t mean you should do it. Use your common sense when evaluating if an act is safe or not—there may be a very easy way to make it safer if you stop to think it through.

Focus on Good Habits

It’s human nature to work yourself into habits, and when you break a safety rule, you’ve taken the first and most influential step in forming a bad habit—a habit that can lead to an injury. Good habits, such as noticing unsafe conditions, correcting them immediately or calling them to the attention of a supervisor, are just as easy to form. 

Develop a safe attitude! This is probably one of the most difficult things to face because most of us have the mistaken notion that it’s always someone else who gets hurt, never us. If we all do our share in observing safety rules and staying alert for unsafe conditions, everyone will benefit.

Safe Conveyor Belt Use - October 2017

Unnecessary workplace accidents can occur when employees do not think before they act or avoid taking precautions to prevent accidents. Keeping safety top of mind is especially important when working with potentially dangerous machinery like conveyor belts. In fact, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) frequently cites conveyor belt accidents as one of the top preventable accidents in the workplace.

For example, employees at a paper corporation were removing wood and bark chips from underneath a moving conveyor belt and shoveling them back onto the conveyor. An employee went into a narrow opening to remove bark that had accumulated under the belt. When the worker did so, the shovel caught between a roller and the underside of the moving conveyor, and pulled the worker into the machinery. The worker died as a result of the accident. This is an example of an accident that could have been prevented by exercising conveyor belt safety.

Familiarize yourself with the following conveyor belt safety tips.

Before You Start a Conveyor

  • Inspect the area to ensure that no one is performing maintenance, is under the conveyor or within the fall zone.
  • Make sure all guards are fitted and that the emergency stop switch is working properly.

When Working at or Near a Conveyor

  • Wear a hat and safety shoes. Avoid wearing loose-fitting clothes or jewelry, and make sure that your hair is short or pulled back.
  • Do not walk under a moving conveyor.
  • Never clean belts, pulleys or drums while the machine is on.
  • Do not perform maintenance or repairs while the conveyor is in motion.

When Working at a Powered Conveyor

  • Ensure that you can see the system while you are operating the controls.
  • Follow all lockout and tagout procedures before performing maintenance.
  • Position yourself so that you will not be hit by moving objects.

When Working With an Aerial Conveyor

  • Make sure that machine guards are in place to protect against objects falling on workers below.

General Safety Recommendations

  • Always know the location of start and stop controls.
  • Never step, climb, sit or ride on a conveyor belt.
  • Never alter or remove machine guards.
  • Never overload a conveyor outside of its design limits.
  • Always report unsafe practices to your supervisor.

We’re Counting on You

Conveyor belts make our jobs easier, but must be used in a safe manner at. If you have any questions or concerns about conveyor belt safety or operation, contact your supervisor.

Safety Standards for Cleanrooms - September 2017

The use of cleanrooms is commonly required for manufacturers of sensitive electronic equipment, pharmaceuticals, sterile medical devices and in any other critical manufacturing environment where the contaminants present in outside air could destroy the product’s functionality.

Though cleanrooms are critical parts of the manufacturing environments in which they are used, they are surprisingly unregulated by the U.S. government. In fact, the only federal standard that regulated cleanrooms was canceled in 2001, though manufacturers still widely use the standard as a guideline. It is important to keep in mind that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does have Quality Systems Regulations in place that require manufacturers to use structures that ensure their products meet provisions, and that the business follows good manufacturing practices; however, this does not specifically address cleanroom conditions.

The International Organization for Standardization (ISO), of which the United States is a member, covers the classification of air purity in cleanrooms, and specifies the requirements for testing and monitoring cleanrooms to prove compliance. But from an employer’s perspective, it is not ISO 14644-1 and ISO 14644-2 standards that should determine how to treat your cleanroom facility; rather, it makes the most business sense for you to treat your cleanroom with the utmost care to ensure that the facility stays up to specifications.

What Does Clean Mean?

Individual subsets of industries set their own standards for just how “clean” companies’ cleanrooms must be. For example, integrated circuit manufacturers must operate in a cleanroom of no more than ISO 4, which does not allow any particles greater than 5 micro-meters in size, or one-thousandth of a millimeter. Depending on the type of manufacturing that is performed at your workplace, your ISO rating can vary. Check your industry cleanroom standards to determine the proper ISO rating.

Standards aside, a cleanroom is only useful if it is maintained properly. Many employers are unaware of the fact that a particle 200 times smaller than the width of a human hair can cause a major contamination disaster in a cleanroom. Contamination will not only cost your company because of expensive downtime while the problem is fixed, but it will also result in increased product costs. For example, many electronic products produced in a contaminated cleanroom will not function properly and will result in product recall, while medical devices manufactured in a contaminated cleanroom will not meet FDA regulations.

Preventing Contamination

Building a cleanroom properly is the first step to saving money in the long run, since it is much easier to eliminate the possibility of contamination as the facility is being built. Removing contamination after the fact is not only extremely difficult, but also enormously costly in both time and money. It is important to warn your employees that contamination can come from many unexpected sources, including the following:

  • Other elements of the building or facility that hold the cleanroom, including walls, floors, ceilings, paint, coatings and air conditioning debris
  • Equipment and supplies, such as loose particles from friction, vibrations, brooms, mops, items brought into the cleanroom and cleanroom debris
  • Microorganisms, like viruses, bacteria and fungus
  • People are often the largest source of contamination. This can come from skin flakes and oil, hair, saliva, cosmetics or perfume, and clothing debris like lint and fibers. However, it can also come simply from peoples’ presence; a motionless person, standing or seated, generates 100,000 0.3 micron-sized particles each minute, and a person walking at a swift pace will generate 10,000,000 particles per minute.

Ensuring that the facility meets the accurate air quality standards starts with requiring employees to wear the proper equipment while inside the cleanroom.

Take Precautions

To lower your cleanroom’s risk of contamination, take the following precautions:

  • Warn employees about the danger to the company in bringing personal items—such as wallets and phones—out while in the cleanroom.
  • Encourage employees to make as subtle and slow of movements as possible while in the cleanroom.
  • Check periodically for leakages in the shell enclosing

Lower Costs by Implementing Safety Programs - August 2017

Across the country, employers pay almost $1 billion per week for direct workers’ compensation costs alone, which comes straight out of company profits. In fact, lost productivity from injuries and illnesses costs companies roughly $63 billion each year.

According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), workplaces that establish safety and health management systems can reduce their injury and illness costs by 20 to 40 percent. Safe environments also improve employee morale, which positively impacts productivity on the manufacturing line.

In today’s business climate, these safety-related costs for manufacturers can be the difference between reporting a profit or a loss. Industry studies report that companies who focus on safety as a core business strategy come out ahead. The American Society of Safety Engineers reports that implementation of an OSHA consultation program reduced losses at a forklift manufacturing operation from $70,000 to $7,000 per year.

Use these tips to understand how implementing safety programs will directly affect your company’s bottom line.

Showing Value

Demonstrating the value of safety to management is often a challenge because the return on investment (ROI) can be cumbersome to measure. Your goal in measuring safety is to balance your investment vs. the return expected. Where do you begin?

There are many different approaches to measuring the cost of safety, and the way you do so depends on your goal. Defining your goal helps you to determine what costs to track and how complex your tracking will be.

For example, you may want to capture certain data simply to determine what costs to build into the price of your products, or you may want to track your company’s total cost of safety to show increased profitability, which would include more specific data collection like safety wages and benefits, operational costs and insurance costs.

Since measuring can be time consuming, general cost formulas are available. A Stanford study conducted by Levitt and Samuelson places safety costs at 2.5 percent of overall costs, and a study published by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) estimates general safety costs at about 8 percent of payroll. 

If it is important for your organization to measure safety as it relates to profitability, more accurate tracking should be done. For measuring data, safety costs can be divided into two categories:

1.       Direct (hard) costs, which include:

  • Safety wages
  • Operational costs
  • Insurance premiums and/or attorney’s fees
  • Accidents and incidents
  • Fines and/or penalties
  1. Indirect (soft) costs, which go beyond those recorded on paper, such as: 
  • Accident investigation
  • Repairing damaged machinery and line equipment
  • Administrative expenses
  • Worker stress in the aftermath of an accident resulting in lost productivity, low employee morale and increased absenteeism
  • Training and compensating replacement workers
  • Poor reputation, which translates to difficulty attracting skilled workers and lost business share.

When calculating soft costs, minor accidents costs are about four times greater than direct costs, and serious accidents about 10 to 15 times greater, especially if the accident generates OSHA fines or litigation costs.

According to IRMI, just the act of measuring costs will drive improvement. In theory, those providing the data become more aware of the costs and begin managing them. This supports the common business belief that what gets measured gets managed. And, as costs go down, what gets rewarded gets repeated.

Prove ROI

OSHA studies indicate that for every $1 invested in effective safety programs, you can save $4 to $6 as 

illnesses, injuries and fatalities decline. With a good safety program in place, your costs will naturally decrease. It is important to determine what costs to measure to establish benchmarks, which can then be used to demonstrate the value of safety over time. 

Also, keep in mind that your total cost of safety is just one part of managing your total cost of risk. When safety is managed and monitored, it can also help drive down your total cost of risk.

Considering the statistics, safety experts believe that there is direct correlation between safety and a company’s profit. We are committed to helping you establish a strong safety, health and environmental program that protects both your workers and your bottom line. Contact us today at (619) 297-3160 to learn more about our value-added services.

Managing Your Total Cost of Risk - July 2017

As a manufacturer, how do you quantify your true cost of risk? For example, if you are faced with a recall, how do you calculate your loss of reputation or market share? It is difficult, at best, to quantify this scenario. In contrast, other components of your cost of risk are easily identified, such as insurance premiums, or lost production costs caused by downtime of a custom piece of machinery.

Total cost of risk is an insurance term describing the cost of both pure and speculative risk. It is synonymous with price — the price of your risk management program. We take a total cost of risk approach to positively affect your price by protecting the following four main asset categories:

  1. Organization
  2. Personnel
  3. Property
  4. Net income

The structure of your risk management program looks to help decrease your total cost of risk. To reach that goal, we help you:

  • Analyze your exposures
  • Implement control measures to those exposures
  • Determine risk transfer or financing options
  • Manage current and future exposures

Identification of Exposures

As part of our risk management interview process, we look to confirm that your risk management approach supports your overall business objectives and plans for your company’s future. How would your income or cash flow be affected if there were unforeseen depletions of capital or a shutdown in the plant? Discussing the qualitative aspects of your business provides the important details needed to solidify a plan to help your business succeed, even if the worst happened. Risks can be both qualitative and quantitative. Analyses into both offer the foundation for developing forward-thinking approaches to those exposures.

What is your viewpoint on risk? Is your company risk-averse? Is it in a financial position to take on more risk versus transferring that risk to another party or contractually to a carrier? To help determine your risk aversion, it helps to assess your company history. For example, if you are a start-up company, cash flow and funds are typically tight, so you are more likely to be adverse to risk to protect the financial viability of your start-up organization. Conversely, if your company has a 20-plus year history, there are also risks, including becoming obsolete, stagnant or too conservative with your business plan. 

Additionally, we consider norms in the manufacturing industry, your market position and competition to position your risk management solution to the changing needs of your business. 

Quantitative analysis supports the qualitative interview. We look at the “hard numbers” and prior losses to identify trends in your performance. We also analyze those losses to identify:

  • Average incurred costs per loss
  • Total incurred trends
  • Top loss drivers
  • Locations with high frequency issues
  • Fraud behaviors
  • Reporting lag time
  • Frequency vs. severity ratios
  • OSHA-recordable performance

The results of our in-depth analysis will reveal opportunities to approach the critical areas driving your total cost of risk. We will isolate the root causes of these problematic areas and look to implement control measures to mitigate this exposure.

Implementation of Control Measures

Identifying exposures directs us to focus our resources on delivering the best control measures.  An estimated 75 percent of commercial insurance expenses are claims-driven. We look to control and reduce this percentage through pre- and post-loss control measures. 

A comprehensive loss control evaluation uncovers your strengths and weaknesses. A company may have strong management leadership behind his or her initiatives but have no employee buy-in or participation. CMR Risk & Insurance Services, Inc. has the solutions to establish a safety committee, delivering a comprehensive employee safety education campaign to address your exposures.  

There are many post-loss or cost containment strategies. A proactive and effective Return to Work program is one strategy that positively affects your bottom line: offering a bank of modified duty jobs for employees and informing the doctor there is modified work available. Also, establishing a relationship with a local occupational medicine clinic can help manage costs. Interview the staff to learn about their services and tour their facilities. Invite the physicians into your business to get a first-hand look and understanding of your operations. By providing them with the details of your operations, they can accurately evaluate reported injuries to confirm if they are work-related.  

Fraudulent claim behavior can drive the cost of risk out of control. Anti-fraud tactics include educating employees on the effects of insurance fraud through payroll stuffers and worksite posters, and offering safety incentives for solid performance. Also, keeping a motor vehicle accident kit in company vehicles, along with a disposable camera, allows you to document evidence, providing stronger subrogation results.

An active loss control program and post-loss procedures are elemental to cost containment. Our agency offers comprehensive resources to employ the most appropriate strategies for your business.

Risk Transfer and Financing

Once we have identified exposures and created control measures, we can focus on the remaining exposures to transfer and/or finance. You will want to address questions such as: How much risk can I afford to assume in-house? How can CMR Risk & Insurance Services, Inc. assist in contractually transferring risk to a third party? Lastly, what portion of the exposures do I want to finance through an insurance policy?

Addressing these questions offers a direction as to how to approach the financing of your risk. Think about current cash flow needs. Are account receivables current? If there is a lag, how long is it, and are there resources to correct it?

Considerations involve self-insured retentions if you have a mature loss control program and the financial reserves to cover shock losses that occur. Therefore, a combination of insurance and non-insurance strategies should be considered.

Manage Your Exposures

Roughly 25 percent of businesses that sustain a major catastrophe are no longer in business within a year’s time. If there is an interruption in your operations, are you prepared?

We have the resource for you to develop a comprehensive business continuity plan. This involves backing up your policies and procedures. Through, we offer 24/7 Web access to your critical risk management information, employee education resources and tools to drive down your cost of regulatory compliance; all are ID- and password-enabled for your protection.

Cost of Risk Resources

 To develop the most appropriate risk management program for your organization, CMR Risk & Insurance Services, Inc. approaches “insurance” through a variety of insurance and non-insurance strategies, such as:

 

  • Identification processes (qualitative and quantitative);
  • Loss analysis tools to uncover exposures;
  • Implementation of pre- or post-loss initiatives that address cost containment;
  • Business continuation planning/disaster recovery;
  • Risk financing options, retained losses or transferred; and
  • Regulatory compliance issues.

 

We work with you to develop a strategic action plan, assist in the execution of the designed risk management program, and are committed to the monitoring and support of these initiatives. If you are interested in reviewing your risk management strategies, contact us today at (619) 297-3160 to speak with one of our insurance experts.

3-D Printing - June 2017

3-D printing has taken off in recent years. An additive manufacturing technique, it is the process of printing layers of material on top of one another to “grow” a product. Product creation relies on computer-aided design (CAD) files. Stereolithography software reads the CAD file and uses a material such as paper, powder or metal to print the shape. The number of printing materials available is constantly growing and currently includes thermoplastics, edible materials, rubber, clay, porcelain, metal, ceramic powders, plaster, paper and even human tissue.

There are five unique printing processes:

  1. Selective laser melting or direct metal laser sintering: A laser is used to fuse together metallic powder into the desired shape.
  2. Selective laser sintering: Lasers are used to fuse together small pieces of material like plastic or metal into the desired shape.
  3. Fused deposition modeling: Plastic or metal wiring is unspun from a coil and printed in layers to create the desired shape.
  4. Stereolithography: Ultraviolet-curable resin is laid down and built up, layer by layer. Ultraviolet light is shone on each layer after it has been put down to solidify the resin.
  5. Laminated object manufacturing: Layers of material are laid down and glued to one another and then shaped with a laser or knife.

The technology for 3-D printing has been around for nearly 30 years, but it wasn’t until fairly recently that printers and printing materials became an affordable option for businesses. Because of the high demand for the technology, the price dropped from about $20,000 in the 1980s to around just $1,000 today, leading to a rise in sales. And as the price dropped, creativity grew.

Printers that were originally used just for prototyping began to be used to print manufacturing materials, such as molds. Today, companies in a variety of industries, including architecture, construction, automotive, dental and medical, engineering, biotechnology, fashion and education are experimenting with using 3-D printing to manufacture end products. This innovative practice comes with its share of benefits and risks.

The Benefits

3-D printing has a number of benefits:

  • Less waste: Unlike more traditional subtractive manufacturing techniques that remove material by cutting or sawing to form a product, 3-D printing builds the product from the ground up, resulting in significantly less material waste.
  • Reduced overhead: Printing materials and a CAD file are all that is required to create a product. It’s not necessary to purchase molds, create custom manufacturing materials, hire laborers or even have a designated manufacturing facility.
  • Intricate details: Almost any shape imaginable can be printed, including shapes with complex detail that would be costly and difficult—in some cases too difficult—to create with subtractive manufacturing.
  • One-of-a-kind products: Some products, such as hearing aids and prosthetic limbs, are time-consuming and expensive to create with traditional manufacturing techniques because they must be customized to fit a single end user.
  • Reduced warehousing costs: Offering long-term warranties for replacement parts is much more efficient for companies that utilize 3-D printing. The company can simply save a CAD file for each product part and then print the part on an as-needed basis instead of storing older parts in a warehouse.

The Risks

It’s also important to recognize the potential risks that this new technology poses:

  • Copyright infringement: CAD files that infringe on patents and design rights are already beginning to show up on the Internet. The piracy of digital design files will likely be widespread and difficult to police. Companies will need to insure themselves against this risk and find innovative ways to guard intellectual property.
  • Compromised supply chain: Widely available CAD files mean that compromised parts could enter the supply chain. Even if a company is not using 3-D printing in its own operations, it is still at risk of manufacturing products with defective or unsafe 3-D-printed components, and of being held liable for the resulting damage.
  • Exposure to ultrafine particles (UFPs): Printers without proper ventilation can expose users to the UFPs that are released during the printing process. Inhaled UFPs can cause adverse health effects, including an increased risk of asthma, heart disease and stroke.
  • Global public safety: Currently, no legislation exists to regulate 3-D printing, so anyone, anywhere can download anything. In 2012, Defense Distributed, a company based in the United States, created a CAD file for a 3-D printable gun. Soon after, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security called for the file to be taken down, but not before it had been downloaded by more than 100,000 people in places as far away as Germany, Spain and Brazil. There are more opportunities for obtaining banned products with 3-D printing.

The Future

Like any technology, 3-D printing is not without risks, many of which are yet to be discovered. Despite these risks, companies are looking to 3-D printing technology to rethink processes and improve business operations.

Industry experts predict that 3-D printing will transform manufacturing as we know it. Exciting projects like rebuilding coral reefs, growing functioning organs and body parts and replicating priceless artifacts for scientific study will continue to capture the attention of the public and encourage further innovation.

Have you considered the impact of 3-D technology on your business? Contact CMR Risk & Insurance Services, Inc. today at (619) 297-3160 to learn more.

The SPCC and Oil Spill Prevention - May 2017

Using oil at your facility can represent a risk for the environment and a hazard to your workers as well as your property. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulates facilities’ spill-prevention measures with the Oil Spill Prevention, Control and Countermeasure (SPCC) Rule, which sets specific requirements for facilities that meet certain criteria regarding the risk of spills. The regulation specifies actions required for the prevention of, preparedness for and response to oil discharges. According to recent modifications to the rule, all covered facilities must prepare and implement a SPCC Plan. To ensure you are in compliance, review the following guidelines.

To Whom Does the SPCC Apply?

A facility is covered by the SPCC rule if it fulfills the following requirements:

  • It has a total aboveground oil storage capacity greater than 1,320 gallons.
  • It stores, transfers, uses or consumes oil or oil products including diesel fuel, gasoline, lube oil or hydraulic oil.
  • It could reasonably be expected to discharge oil to waters of the United States or adjoining shorelines, such as interstate waters, intrastate lakes, rivers and streams.

Those with operations on multiple pieces of property need not combine the number of containers on separate properties for the purposes of this rule. In fact, if you identify adjacent pieces of property as separate based on operations, you can advantageously count the containers on the two properties separately.

What Does the SPCC Rule Require?

If the rule applies to your property, you are required to prepare and implement an SPCC Plan or adequately maintain your plan if you already have one. You need not submit the plan to the EPA unless it is requested, but you should maintain the plan at the facility. Your responsibilities include the following:

1. Prevent oil spills. Following are some prevention measures that could be included in your plan.

  • Use containers that are appropriate for the oil stored. For example, use a container designed for flammable liquids to store gasoline.
  • Provide overfill prevention (e.g., high-level alarms or audible vents) for oil storage containers.
  • Provide secondary containment for bulk storage containers, such as a dike or remote impoundment. It must hold the container’s full capacity plus possible rainfall. The dike may be constructed of earth or concrete, e.g., a double-walled tank.
  • Provide general secondary containment (e.g., sorbent materials, drip pans and curbing) to catch the most likely oil spill, where oil is transferred to and from containers and for mobile refuelers and tanker trucks.
  • Inspect and test pipes and containers regularly. Visually inspect aboveground pipes and oil containers according to industry standards, and test buried pipes for leaks when they are installed o repaired.

2. Prepare and implement a SPCC Plan. The owner or operator of the facility must develop and implement a SPCC Plan that describes oil handling operations, spill prevention practices, discharge or drainage controls, and the personnel, equipment and resources at the facility that are used to prevent oil spills from reaching navigable waters or adjoining shorelines. Each SPCC Plan is unique to the facility, but there are certain elements that must be detailed in every plan, including the following:

  • Operating procedures used to prevent oil spills at the facility.
  • Control measures (e.g., secondary confinement) installed to prevent oil spills from entering navigable waters or adjoining shorelines.
  • Countermeasures to contain, clean and mitigate the effects of an oil spill that has impacted navigable waters or adjoining shorelines.

Certifying the Plan

If your facility meets the following criteria, you may be eligible to self-certify your SPCC Plan.

  • Aboveground oil storage capacity of 10,000 gallons or less
  • No discharge of more than 1,000 gallons of oil to navigable waters or adjoining shorelines in the last three years, or no two discharges more than 42 gallons in the last 12-month period.

If you are not eligible to self-certify, your plan must be certified by a licensed professional engineer (PE), who will confirm the following:

  • Familiarity with the requirements of the rule
  • Visit and examination of the facility
  • SPCC Plan in accordance with good engineering practices, including consideration of applicable industry standards and requirements of the rule
  • Existence of procedures for required inspections and testing
  • Adequacy of the SPCC Plan for the facility

In Case of Spill

If your facility experiences a spill, you are required to follow certain federal reporting requirements. Anyone in charge of an onshore or offshore facility must notify the National Response Center (NRC) immediately after receiving notice of the discharge. You will need the following information:

  • Name and location of facility
  • Owner/operator name
  • Maximum storage/handling capacity of the facility and normal daily throughput
  • Corrective actions and countermeasures taken, including equipment repairs or replacements
  • Adequate description of the facility, including maps, flow diagrams and topographical maps
  • Cause of the discharge to navigable waters, including a failure analysis
  • Failure analysis of the system where discharge occurred
  • Additional preventive measures taken or planned to take to minimize discharge reoccurrence

It is important to know that you must also comply with state and local reporting requirements. It often makes sense to call 911 when there is an oil spill, especially if it is flammable or combustible.

You must also report spills to the EPA when one of the following occurs:

  • More than 1,000 gallons of oil is discharged to navigable waters or adjoining shorelines in a single event
  • More than 42 gallons of oil in each of two discharges to navigable waters or adjoining shorelines occurs within any 12-month period.

Mitigating Your Risk Through Risk Management

Experiencing an oil spill can be devastatingly expensive. In addition to ensuring compliance through the development of an SPCC Plan, work with the insurance professionals at CMR Risk & Insurance Services, Inc. to ensure you have purchased appropriate insurance coverage.

Understanding the HAZWOPER Standard - April 2017

Many manufacturers  are unfamiliar with or do not understand the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response (HAZWOPER) standard.

Following HAZWOPER requirements and regulations not only protects the health and safety of your employees, but it also saves you from expensive litigation you could face if you accidentally expose the outside environment and nearby residents to the potentially hazardous toxins at your facility.

Officials from OSHA, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) all have input on HAZWOPER’s regulations because of the widespread effect hazardous waste has on the population as a whole, not just the industries’ workforces. This document will help you understand the basic requirements of HAZWOPER and determine whether you are in compliance. For a complete list of HAZWOPER requirements or to read the standard in its entirety, visit www.OSHA.gov and search HAZWOPER (Standard 29 CFR 1910.120).

Compliance

Today, HAZWOPER applies to the following types of operations, unless the employer can demonstrate that the operation does not involve the reasonable possibility of employee exposure to safety or health hazards:

  • Cleanup operations required by a government body (federal, state or local) involving hazardous substances conducted at uncontrolled hazardous waste sites
  • Corrective actions involving cleanup operations at sites covered by the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA)
  • Voluntary cleanup operations at sites recognized by government bodies (federal, state or local) as uncontrolled hazardous waste sites.
  • Operations involving hazardous waste conducted at treatment, storage or disposal facilities
  • Emergency response operations for releases of hazardous substances regardless of the location of the hazard

It is the final type of employer, emergency response operations, that is often unfamiliar with HAZWOPER because the employees at these facilities are not directly exposed to hazardous substances every day. However, minor, incidental releases of hazardous substances would not require an emergency response effort under HAZWOPER. Also, employers who immediately evacuate employees from danger zones and do not expect them to assist in handling the emergency in any way are exempt from HAZWOPER, though they still must be in accordance with 29 CFR 1910.38.

What qualifies as an emergency under HAZWOPER can vary, and you should consider the nature of your operation and the extent of your employees’ training. For example, small acid spills in a facility that routinely handles acids would not be an emergency; however, the same situation might be considered an immediate hazard in a facility where employees have less training, equipment or experience. In the event that employees are in the following situations, the HAZWOPER standard would apply:

  • Presence of high concentrations of toxic substances
  • Any situation involving hazardous substances that is life- or injury-threatening
  • Environments that present imminent danger to life and health (IDLH situations)
  • Accidents that present an oxygen-deficient atmosphere
  • Conditions that pose a fire or explosion hazard
  • Any situation that requires the evacuation of an area or that requires immediate attention because of the danger posed to employees in that area

Training Under HAZWOPER

This standard provides specific safety regulations, emergency procedures and training guidelines for employers to follow in facilities that handle hazardous waste or who have the potential for accidental release of dangerous chemical substances. HAZWOPER’s main goal is to get employers to think about how they would handle a spill before it occurs.

The bulk of the HAZWOPER standard deals with proper cleanup at hazardous waste sites. It is the last section that covers emergency response and discusses the necessary length of training, which is also the most misunderstood section of the standard.

HAZWOPER sets five basic training levels related to chemical emergency response, and training requirements for these five groups vary depending on how closely they work with the hazardous material spill. All training must be completed upon hiring for any employee that is expected to participate in emergency response:

* First Responder Awareness Level: Individuals likely to witness a hazardous substance release and whose only responsibility would be notifying the proper authorities. These individuals must have sufficient training to demonstrate the following:

  • Understanding of what hazardous substances are and the risks associated with them in an incident
  • Understanding of the potential outcomes associated with a hazardous substance emergency
  • The ability to recognize the presence of hazardous substances
  • The ability to identify the hazardous substances, if possible
  • The ability to realize the need for additional resources and make appropriate notifications
* First Responder Operations Level: Individuals who respond to releases of hazardous substances for the purpose of protecting nearby people, property or environment from damage. They should respond defensively by containing the release and keeping it from spreading. These individuals must have eight hours of training or sufficient experience to demonstrate the following:
  • Knowledge of hazard and risk assessment
  • Knowledge of proper personal protective equipment (PPE) use
  • Knowledge of basic control, containment and/or confinement operations
  • Understanding of standard operating procedures

* Hazardous Materials Technician: Individuals who responds to releases with the purpose of actively and aggressively stopping it. They will attempt to plug, patch or otherwise stop the hazardous substance release. They must have at least 24 hours training, all the first responder operations knowledge and the following:

  • Knowledge of how to implement the employer’s emergency response plan
  • Ability to classify, identify and verify known and unknown materials by using survey equipment
  • Knowledge of how to select and use specialized chemical PPE
  • Have the ability to perform advanced control, containment and/or confinement operations with the resources and PPE available
  • Knowledge of basic chemical and toxicological terminology and behavior
* Hazardous Materials Specialist: Individuals who respond with and provide support to hazardous material technicians, but with more specific knowledge of various hazardous substances. They also acts as the site liaison with government authorities. They must have 24 hours of training, all technician-level knowledge and employer-certified knowledge on the following:
  • The local, state and federal emergency response plan
  • Classification, identification and verification of known and unknown materials using advanced survey equipment
  • The implementation of decontamination procedures
  • Advanced chemical, radiological and toxicological terminology and behavior 

* On-scene Incident Commander: Individuals who assume control of the incident site. They must have 24 hours of training and employer-certified competency in the following areas:

  • Ability to implement the employer’s incident command system
  • Ability to implement the employer’s emergency response plan and the local/state/federal emergency response plan
  • Understanding of the hazards and risks associated with employees working in chemical protective clothing
  • Understanding of the importance of decontamination procedures

Some important notes on training regulations in the HAZWOPER standard are that measurements of a qualified trainer can be met by academic degrees, completed training courses and/or work experience. Also, HAZWOPER specifically addresses the use of video or online training to satisfy requirements, saying that computer-based systems are an incomplete solution and must be supplemented.

HAZWOPER Emergency Response Plan

Another important section of the HAZWOPER section you should take note of is the need for an emergency response plan with regard to hazardous substance releases. HAZWOPER gives the following guidelines for employers’ emergency response plans, saying it should at least include the following:

  • Pre-emergency planning
  • Personnel roles, lines of authority, training and communication standards
  • Emergency recognition and prevention
  • List of safe distances and places of refuge
  • Site security and control standards
  • Evacuation routes and procedures
  • Decontamination procedures
  • Emergency medical treatment and first aid procedures
  • Emergency alerting and response procedures
  • Critiques and follow-ups on previous emergency response situations

For more information on how you can further implement HAZWOPER loss control methods, contact CMR Risk & Insurance Services, Inc..

Practicing Slip and Fall Prevention - March 2017

A janitorial employee was scrubbing the steps and floors with water and a cleaning agent. An observant worker realized that soon, dozens of employees would be going down these steps for their lunch break. This person then took the proper action to avert this potentially dangerous situation and set up a wet floor sign.

Do Your Safety Part

An unguarded wet floor is only one of the many causes that account for millions of work-related injuries every year. Which is why it is important to spot unsafe conditions that could lead to slips and falls, and do what you can to prevent them.    

There are various ways to suffer slips and falls while working. You can slip and lose your balance, you can trip over objects left improperly in your walkway, or you can simply fall from an elevated position to the ground. To avoid slips and falls, be on the lookout for foreign substances on the floor.  Watch for:

  • Deposits of water
  • Food
  • Grease or oil
  • Sawdust
  • Soap
  • Other manufacturing debris

Even small quantities are enough to make you fall.

Good Housekeeping Counts

When entering a building from the outdoors or from debris areas, clean your footwear thoroughly. Snowy and rainy weather require a doormat at each entrance to allow for complete wiping of shoes. Avoid running, walk safely and do not change directions too sharply. 

Beware of tripping hazards. Trash, unused materials or any object left in aisles designed for pedestrian traffic invites falls. Extension cords, tools, carts and other items should be removed or properly barricaded off. If equipment or supplies are left in walkways, report it. Let the proper personnel remove it. And keep passageways clean of debris by using trash barrels and recycling bins.

Practice Prevention

Walk in designated walking areas. Short cuts through machine or other manufacturing areas can cause accidents. Concentrate on where you are going—horseplay and inattention leaves you vulnerable to unsafe conditions. Hold on to handrails when using stairs or ramps. They are there to protect you should a fall occur. If you’re carrying a heavy load that hampers your ability to properly ascend or descend stairs, use the elevator or find help.

The worst falls are from elevated positions such as ladders, and can result in serious injury or death. Learn and practice ladder safety and the proper use of scaffolding. For example, when climbing, use a ladder of proper length that is in good condition. Keep it placed on a firm surface. Do not climb a ladder placed on machinery, crates, stock or boxes. Keep the ladder’s base one foot away from the wall for every four feet of height. Don’t over-reach. Always have control of your balance when working from a ladder. Never climb a ladder with your hands full, and always transport tools in their proper carrying devices.

Slips and falls occur every day. The extent of injuries and their recurrence can be minimized through proper safety knowledge, good housekeeping and practicing prevention.

Recognizing Spray Paint Hazards - February 2017

Spray painting is an efficient and effective way to cover large areas or irregular surfaces with even coats of primer, paint, sealers and other coatings. When you are using spray paint, it is important to recognize and guard against potential hazards.

Why it is Dangerous

Many paints, coatings, catalysts, sealers, hardeners and solvents contain hazardous chemicals to which you could be exposed during mixing, spraying, grinding and sanding tasks. Overexposure can cause nausea, rash, asthma, dermatitis or even lung cancer. In addition, some coatings contain flammable substances, which are released into the air when you use high-pressure equipment. As they build up, these vapors can create an explosion hazard. To protect yourself from these and other health hazards, study the following guidelines to safe spray painting practices.

Ways to Protect Yourself

Before beginning a new task, consult the Safety Data Sheets (SDS) for each product you will use. You will find information specific to that chemical, including its hazards, appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE), proper handling, transport, storage and disposal.

General Recommendations

  • Use a spray booth to avoid breathing in spray paint vapors and debris. Regularly maintained and cleaned spray booths also provide maximum protection against explosion hazards.
  • Wear hearing protection when working with air-powered tools. Extended exposure to loud noises can result in irreversible damage to your hearing.
  • To protect your eyes, wear safety glasses and a dust mask or respirator to protect against dust particles that form when using grinding and sanding equipment.
  • Wear a combination type HEPA air filter and organic vapor respirator with breathing air lines to protect yourself from hazardous fumes.
  • Wear lightweight, disposable coveralls, or launder reusable coveralls separately from street clothes.
  • Never eat, drink, smoke or apply cosmetics while working with spray paint. Store food and other belongings in a separate area.
  • Store paints and their solvents carefully in ventilated, nonsmoking areas to prevent the possibility of ignition and explosion.
  • Since you may have to hold full paint pots while spraying, you must keep ergonomics in mind while on the job. Use balanced spray guns that fit in your hand or use a hoist and dolly to move materials instead of holding them. Take frequent, short breaks throughout the workday to stretch to avoid unnecessary strains and sprains.

Keep Safety in Mind

Keeping safety in mind when working in and around spray painting operations will help you avoid dangerous hazards and keep you injury-free on the job. If you have any doubt about your safety, regarding spray painting or any other issue, talk to your supervisor. Your safety is our top priority at.

The Hazards of Biofuels - December 2016

As a fast-growing part of the energy sector, the biofuel industry has become an attractive place to work and invest. To protect your company in the biofuel industry, it is essential to recognize potential workplace hazards of biofuels and their production processes, and take steps to protect workers from harm. In addition to common workplace hazards such as walking and working surface hazards and electrical hazards, biofuels present three major types of hazards:

  • Fire and explosion hazards
  • Chemical reactivity hazards
  • Toxicity hazards

Types of Biofuels

There are two major types of biofuels:

  1. Ethanol is a flammable liquid that is readily ignited at ordinary temperatures. Renewable ethanol is produced through the fermentation of grains or from materials such as waste paper, wood chips and agricultural wastes.
  2. Biodiesel is a combustible liquid that burns readily when heated. When it is blended with petroleum-based diesel fuel or contaminated by materials in manufacturing, it can become more flammable.

Fire and Explosion Hazards

To protect workers, it is essential to prevent unintended releases, avoid ignition of spills and equip your facility with appropriate fire protection systems and emergency response procedures. Necessary engineering controls include:

  • Good facility layout
  • Proper design of vessels and piping systems
  • Proper selection of electrical equipment for use in hazardous areas
  • Adequate equipment such as alarms, interlocks and shutdown systems.

Creating and maintaining proper administrative controls is equally important. These might include the following:

  • Operating procedures
  • Good maintenance practices
  • Safe work procedures

Chemical Reactivity Hazards

Some processes for making ethanol from materials such as wastepaper and wood chips use concentrated acids and bases, which can react vigorously with many materials. Failure to control potentially dangerous chemical reactions could result in rupture of equipment

and piping, explosions, fires, and exposures to hazardous chemicals. Preventive measures include:

  • Controlling the rate and order of chemical addition
  • Providing robust cooling
  • Segregating incompatible materials to prevent inadvertent mixing
  • Creating detailed operating procedures

Toxicity Hazards

Biofuels and their components present toxic exposure hazards that you need to carefully control to protect workers. Consult each chemical component’s safety data sheet (SDS) to determine the potential for toxic exposures to feedstocks, products and other chemicals used in biofuel processes, including caustic, sulfuric acid, ethanol and biodiesel, as well as hydrocarbons used for blending and alcohol denaturing. Take the following measures to reduce risk:

  • Take release prevention, ventilation and drainage into consideration during design, fabrication and the creation of maintenance practices.
  • Require the use of appropriate personal protective equipment when needed.

OSHA Standards

There are a variety of Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) standards that apply to manufacturers of biofuels, including:

  • Process Safety Management of Highly Hazardous Chemicals
  • Flammable and Combustible Liquids
  • Hazard Communication
  • Personal Protective Equipment
  • Respiratory Protection
  • Permit-Required Confined Spaces
  • Lockout/Tagout

If there are hazards in your workplace that are not covered by an OSHA regulation, it is still essential that you take steps to control it. OSHA can fine for violation of the General Duty clause, which states that employers must provide workers a place of employment free from recognized hazards that cause or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm to employees.

Ensuring Safety

Your workers’ safety must be your first priority. It is not only right–it makes economic sense. Reducing claims will also reduce your workers’ compensation insurance premiums. For more resources on loss control programs, contact the insurance professionals at [B_Officialname].

Nanotechnology - November 2016

A hot topic today in the manufacturing industry is nanotechnology, which is the control of matter on a molecular scale between one and 100 nanometers. This intricate methodology involves processing tiny materials to produce nanoparticles or nanomaterials. To give a measure as to how small the building blocks are in these materials, a nanometer is about 50,000 times smaller than the width of a human hair and 10 times smaller than the size of a typical, single germ.

Today, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) reports that new consumer products manufactured using nanotechnology are coming on the market at the rate of about three or four per week. Nanoparticles are already used in paints, car parts, eyeglasses, cosmetics, tennis racquets and clothing, and their use is expected to increase in the near future.

However, researchers and employers are not without doubts about this revolutionary technology. Concerns about the impact of nanomaterials and nanoparticles on the environment and on workers’ and consumers’ health have surfaced in the past five years.

Nanotechnology Hazards in the Workplace

The biggest risk in using nanotechnology in the production of materials is that nanoparticles are so small that they can assume different physical, electrical or magnetic properties than they normally would as larger particles. According to the American Society of Safety Engineers, nanoparticles also have a greater ratio of surface area to mass, and thus they have a higher level of reactivity, combustibility and absorption capacity.

The concern in all these areas is that when ingested, inhaled or even exposed to skin, scientists are not sure how the tiny particles will react with the body systems. What is known is that if they get into the body in any way, the particles are small enough to permeate through tissue. Some evidence suggests that nanoparticles in the body create free oxygen radicals, which are atoms, molecules or ions with unpaired electrons and an open shell configuration. These particles are more likely to bond in unwanted side reactions, leading to cell damage and possibly cancer.

Situations that present significant (and potentially very harmful) exposures to your employees include:

  • Working with nanomaterials without proper protection
  • Pouring or mixing nanomaterials
  • Working with nanomaterials when there is a high degree of agitation, like in extreme heat
  • Generating nanoparticles in the gas phase
  • Handling nanoparticles that are powders
  • Maintenance of equipment used to produce or fabricate nanomaterials
  • Cleaning of any dust collection systems.

Protect Your Employees

Researchers are also unsure if the current standards of ventilation and filtration systems will be 100 percent effective when working with nanoparticles because of their extremely small size. Because of the tremendous usefulness and prevalence of nanotechnology, combined with scientists’ uncertainty of its effects, many compare this development to asbestos and the government control of its use in the 1980s. The European Union’s Occupational Health and Safety agency issued a report citing nanoparticles as the number one emerging risk to workers. So what can your business do to protect workers from harm?

  • Require special protective clothing for your employees. Research indicates that nanoparticles can probably penetrate traditional knit clothing. Ironically, clothing weaved using nanotechnology to prevent the entrance of minute particles could prove to be the most effective.
  • Require all employees to wear eye protection even when not working directly with nanoparticles or nanomaterials. The particles tend to behave like gasses, settling more slowly than other particles and dispersing widely while also re-suspending easily.
  • Restrict consumption of food and drinks to non-work areas. Nanoparticles could be just as harmful if ingested as if they are inhaled due to their ability to permeate through organs and into the bloodstream.
  • Provide shower and locker room facilities for all employees, and require workers to shower and change clothing when leaving their work area. Be active in preventing the spread of nanoparticles outside the workplace.
  • Educate your employees. Give them the latest information on nanotechnology news and trends so they are aware of the dangers and are sure to use extra precautions.
  • Reduce unnecessary exposure. Limit the number of employees working with or around nanoparticles by using safe handling procedures or a closed system when working with high volumes of nanoparticles.

Looking Ahead

Nanotechnology could be a huge opportunity for growth in your industry. The American Society of Safety Engineers predicts that by 2019, 50 percent of all products produced will be influenced by nanotechnology, which will provide jobs for more than 1 million workers. In the future, nanotechnology will likely give rise to items that help prevent risk or danger in the workplace, such as noise absorption materials, fire retardants, advanced ventilation control and quick, efficient cleanup of pollutants and hazards.

However, the future could also hold health problems for workers exposed to nanotechnology, and lawsuits for companies who did not do enough to protect employees. Because the health hazards are so uncertain, you should create your safety and protective policies on the side of extra caution to protect both your employees and your company.

Safety Standards for Cleanrooms - October 2016

The use of cleanrooms is commonly required for manufacturers of sensitive electronic equipment, pharmaceuticals, sterile medical devices and in any other critical manufacturing environment where the contaminants present in outside air could destroy the product’s functionality.

Though cleanrooms are critical parts of the manufacturing environments in which they are used, they are surprisingly unregulated by the U.S. government. In fact, the only federal standard that regulated cleanrooms was canceled in 2001, though manufacturers still widely use the standard as a guideline. It is important to keep in mind that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does have Quality Systems Regulations in place that require manufacturers to use structures that ensure their products meet provisions, and that the business follows good manufacturing practices; however, this does not specifically address cleanroom conditions.

The International Organization for Standardization (ISO), of which the United States is a member, covers the classification of air purity in cleanrooms, and specifies the requirements for testing and monitoring cleanrooms to prove compliance. But from an employer’s perspective, it is not ISO 14644-1 and ISO 14644-2 standards that should determine how to treat your cleanroom facility; rather, it makes the most business sense for you to treat your cleanroom with the utmost care to ensure that the facility stays up to specifications.

What Does Clean Mean?

Individual subsets of industries set their own standards for just how “clean” companies’ cleanrooms must be. For example, integrated circuit manufacturers must operate in a cleanroom of no more than ISO 4, which does not allow any particles greater than 5 micro-meters in size, or one-thousandth of a millimeter. Depending on the type of manufacturing that is performed at your workplace, your ISO rating can vary. Check your industry cleanroom standards to determine the proper ISO rating.

Standards aside, a cleanroom is only useful if it is maintained properly. Many employers are unaware of the fact that a particle 200 times smaller than the width of a human hair can cause a major contamination disaster in a cleanroom. Contamination will not only cost your company because of expensive downtime while the problem is fixed, but it will also result in increased product costs. For example, many electronic products produced in a contaminated cleanroom will not function properly and will result in product recall, while medical devices manufactured in a contaminated cleanroom will not meet FDA regulations.

Preventing Contamination

Building a cleanroom properly is the first step to saving money in the long run, since it is much easier to eliminate the possibility of contamination as the facility is being built. Removing contamination after the fact is not only extremely difficult, but also enormously costly in both time and money. It is important to warn your employees that contamination can come from many unexpected sources, including the following:

  • Other elements of the building or facility that hold the cleanroom, including walls, floors, ceilings, paint, coatings and air conditioning debris
  • Equipment and supplies, such as loose particles from friction, vibrations, brooms, mops, items brought into the cleanroom and cleanroom debris
  • Microorganisms, like viruses, bacteria and fungus
  • People are often the largest source of contamination. This can come from skin flakes and oil, hair, saliva, cosmetics or perfume, and clothing debris like lint and fibers. However, it can also come simply from peoples’ presence; a motionless person, standing or seated, generates 100,000 0.3 micron-sized particles each minute, and a person walking at a swift pace will generate 10,000,000 particles per minute.

Ensuring that the facility meets the accurate air quality standards starts with requiring employees to wear the proper equipment while inside the cleanroom.

Take Precautions

To lower your cleanroom’s risk of contamination, take the following precautions:

  • Warn employees about the danger to the company in bringing personal items—such as wallets and phones—out while in the cleanroom.
  • Encourage employees to make as subtle and slow of movements as possible while in the cleanroom.
  • Check periodically for leakages in the shell enclosing the cleanroom that separates the clean air from the rest of the building.
  • Monitor the cleanroom closely during construction.
  • Regularly measure and test the cleanroom to ensure it is running properly.

Remember that following these guidelines could save your company hundreds of thousands of dollars in lost product and in downtime by lessening your risk for cleanroom contamination.

Protecting Your Hands from Injury - September 2016

Ways to avoid ergonomic injury to your hands

When working in manufacturing, your hands are involved in almost every task you perform, making them highly susceptible to chronic injuries. Yet, workers rarely make an effort to protect them against ergonomic hazards, and suffer later because of it! In fact, these injuries account for many hours of lost work and millions in workers’ compensation claims and medical bills.

What Causes Injuries?

Ergonomic hazards that trigger injuries to the hands, wrists and fingers include repetitive motions, placing too much stress on body parts and excessive twisting. To combat injuries, specifically those from motions causing ergonomic problems, consider the following.

Precautions

  • Alternate between different activities throughout the day to vary your body movements.
  • Concentrate on cutting down on unnecessary movements whenever possible.
  • Arrange your workstation so that tools are within easy reach.
  • Adjust the angle of your work surface to keep your wrists straight.
  • Try to keep your hands and wrists in a neutral position (similar to when shaking hands). This limits the strain on your muscles and tendons, and reduces the temptation to flex or bend at the wrist.
  • Give your elbows and wrists a rest periodically throughout the day.
  • Avoid muscle fatigue by shifting work between your two hands and by varying your routines.
  • Stretch periodically throughout the day to keep your muscles loose.
  • Use tools that have smooth or padded handles. These add-ons will provide additional comfort and will lessen the risk of pinching. Also, look for tools that are designed to keep your wrists straight and are long enough so that they extend across your palm.
  • Watch out for wire cutters or pliers that spread your hands too far. The distance between your hands and fingers should only be approximately four to five inches (for an average-sized hand).
  • Select gripping tools such as hammers that have a handle diameter of no more than two inches to avoid straining to grip the tool.
  • Use power tools that allow your middle finger or thumb to control the trigger as opposed to the index finger. This will allow your index finger to balance the tool without having to also control the trigger.
  • Avoid using tools that give off excessive vibrations. This can cause circulation damage, pinched nerves and stressed tendons. If you must work with these types of tools, wear insulated gloves to absorb some of the vibrations.

Machine Safeguarding Basics - August 2016

Introduction

Machine guards may not always seem like the most convenient part of your job, but they are a necessity in our workplace. Guards are designed to protect you from the many dangerous moving parts throughout the manufacturing floor. In order to keep all our workers safe, it is our policy that machine guards are always used properly and are never tampered with or removed.

What Should Be Guarded

Any machine part, function or process that may cause injury should have a machine guard.

Where Mechanical Hazards Occur

Potentially hazardous moving parts on machines fall into three basic categories:

  • Point of operation: Where the work is actually performed. This is probably the largest hazard area and where the more sophisticated machine safeguarding methods will be used.
  • Power transmission apparatus: All components of the mechanical system that transmit energy (power) to the part of the machine performing the work. These components include flywheels, pulleys, belts, connecting rods, couplings, cams, spindles, chains, cranks and gears.
  • Other moving parts: All other parts of the machine that move while the machine is working. This can include reciprocating, rotating and transverse moving parts.

Hazardous Motions and Actions

A wide variety of mechanical motions and actions may present hazards to you while operating a machine. These can include the movement of rotating members, reciprocating arms, moving belts, meshing gears, cutting teeth and any parts that impact or shear. These different types of hazardous mechanical motions and actions are basic to nearly all machines, and recognizing them is the first step toward protecting yourself from the danger they present. Familiarize yourself with the hazardous motions and actions on any machine you are operating or working near, so that you can avoid injury.

  • Motions: Rotating motion can be dangerous; even smooth, slowly rotating shafts can grip ·         clothing and simple skin contact with any moving parts can cause severe injury. Collars, couplings, cams, clutches, flywheels, shaft ends, spindles, meshing gears and horizontal or vertical shafting are examples of common rotating mechanisms that can be hazardous. The danger increases when projections such as set screws, bolts, nicks, abrasions and projecting keys are exposed on rotating parts.
  • Machine Actions: Machine actions are dangerous due to the amount of force generated at the point of operation where stock is inserted, held and withdrawn by hand. Specific machine actions include punching actions, such as blanking, drawing or stamping metal or other materials; shearing actions, such as knife operations; and bending actions, most commonly performed on power presses, press brakes and tubing benders.

Requirements for Safeguards

What must a safeguard do to protect workers against mechanical hazards? Regardless of the hazard, there are several goals all machine safeguards have in common. They are:
  • Prevent contact: The safeguard must prevent hands, arms and any other part of a worker's body from making contact with dangerous moving parts.
  • Remain secure: Guards and devices should be made of durable material that will withstand the conditions of normal use. They must be firmly secured to the machine.
  • Create no new hazards: A safeguard defeats its own purpose if it creates a hazard of its own such as a shear point, a jagged edge or an unfinished surface, which can cause a laceration. Having to ”work around” a machine safeguard isn’t helpful.
  • Create no interference: Safeguards that significantly impede the ability to do work are not helpful safeguards. Safeguards should protect workers but not prevent them from operating a piece of machinery properly.
  • Allow safe lubrication: Safeguards should allow for the safe lubrication of machines without the need to completely dismantle the guarding system.

Types of Machine Safeguards

Safeguarding a machine is not always with a physical barrier. Here is a list of the various types of machine safeguards used today: 

  • Barrier guards provide a physical shield against machine hazards. They can be metal, metal-mesh, Plexiglas or other types of durable materials. Sometimes barrier guards are interlocked so they stop the machine when the guard is opened.
  • Two-hand trip devices keep the hands out of the point of operation by requiring both hands to activate the machine function.
  • Presence-sensing devices (light curtains) sense when the operator is getting too close the point of operation and automatically stop the machine. These are very effective.
  • Restraining devices, such as pullback devices, restrain the operator’s hands from going into the point of operation during machine motion. Other types of restraining devices do not allow the operator’s hands in the point of operation at any time.

Machine Operators

All machine operators should be familiar with the machine they are using, the machine safeguarding methods, emergency stop buttons and switches, and how to safely perform routine maintenance functions such as clearing jams or making other incidental adjustments. 

You should be able to identify the various types of machine safeguarding methods incorporated into the machine you are using. It may be a combination of light curtains, two-hand trip devices and barrier guards. Regardless of the type, machine operators must be familiar with the types of machine safeguards, how to use those machine safeguards and how to make sure they are functioning properly.

Prior to starting work, inspect the machine to make sure all machine safeguards are attached and functioning properly. Machines should not be used if the machine safeguards are not in place or not functioning.

Machine operators must also consider their own personal effects when operating machinery. Long hair, loose-fitting clothing and hanging jewelry can get caught in machine operations and cause serious injury. Always tie back long hair and avoid wearing clothing or jewelry that could get entangled in a machine.

Put a Stop to Pinch Point Injuries - July 2016

Pinch point hazards are abundant in a manufacturing environment and can be found on many types of equipment including metal-forming machines, power presses, conveyors, robotic machines, powered rollers, assembling machines, plastic molding equipment, printing presses, powered benders, press brakes, power transmission equipment, powered doors, covers and hatches.

It is a common misconception that pinch injuries cannot be serious. In fact, pinch point injuries can be deadly, and they are one of the most common types of accidents in the manufacturing industry.

To reduce your risk of pinch point injuries at work, consider the following safety recommendations.

  • Before beginning your shift or when working with new equipment, identify potential pinch point hazards. Pay special attention to equipment that moves and could come into contact with fixed objects. In this type of work, some of the most common causes of pinch point injuries are:

- Feedrollers and rollers
- Revolving barrels, containers or drums
- Belts and pulleys
- Blades of fans used for cooling
- Gears, sprockets, shafting and chain drives
- Extractors, parts washers and tumblers

  • Be extremely cautious when placing your hands, fingers or feet between two objects. If you are within a pinch point, consider alternative ways to get the task done. If there is no other way to complete the task, make sure that all moveable parts are immobilized before continuing to work.
  • Do not operate machinery without the proper guarding equipment in place. If you need to perform repairs or adjustments to the guards themselves, replace them before using the machinery again.
  • Never use your feet to brace, force or chock objects.
  • Wear appropriate gloves for the task at hand – ill-fitting gloves may be an additional hazard as they can get caught in a machine.
  • Follow all lockout/tagout procedures.
  • Do not wear jewelry or loose clothing, and always tie long hair back. These items can get caught in machines.
  • Know how to turn off equipment immediately in case of an emergency. 
  • If you spot an unguarded pinch point, report the situation to your supervisor or manager immediately. 

 

Learn How to Handle Chemical Spills - June 2016

Working with chemicals on the manufacturing floor puts all employees at serious risk for injuries due to explosions. For this reason, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires worksites where hazardous chemicals are used to have an emergency action plan (EAP). [C_Officialname] takes this requirement seriously, as employee safety in the workplace is our top priority.

The EAP describes the procedures to follow during an emergency, such as a chemical spill, leak or explosion, including:

  • Who to notify
  • Who is in charge and who else has responsibilities in responding to the incident
  • Who is responsible for each task
  • How to evacuate the site

OSHA also requires all employees to be trained in EAP procedures, so that everyone is prepared in the event of an emergency. Notify your supervisor if you have not yet had training in EAP procedures or if you would like a refresher.

Prevention

The first priority when working with chemicals is to try and prevent a spill, leak or explosion. You can contribute to that goal by:

  • Knowing and understanding the chemicals you’re working with, including any hazards—refer to the appropriate Safety Data Sheet (SDS) or ask questions if you are unsure
  • Following all safety precautions and wear proper personal protective gear
  • Helping to make sure all chemicals are properly labeled in their container

When an Incident Occurs

To determine if a chemical spill, leak or explosion is hazardous or requires special cleanup procedures:

  • Identify the chemical(s) involved.
  • Refer to the SDS for any chemical involved to find out how flammable and/or reactive it is, what protective equipment is needed and spill cleanup procedures.
  • For chemicals resulting in a hazardous fire or explosion, refer to the SDS also for firefighting instructions.

Emergency Procedures

In the event of a chemical spill, leak or explosion, be sure to:

  • Immediately notify your supervisor.
  • Notify other workers on the floor.
  • Activate emergency alarms.
  • Call 911.
  • Keep people out of the area.
  • Leave the area if the spill cannot be readily contained, or if it presents an immediate danger to life or health.
  • Follow the evacuation rules in the EAP.
  • Leave cleanup to trained personnel, such as a Hazardous Materials team.

Do not try to:

  • Rescue or help injured people unless you are sure you will be safe
  • Clean up a spill yourself, except where permitted or required by site rules and the EAP

OSHA requires these safety measures, and so do we. It is our hope that an accident like this never happens, but all employees should be prepared in case it does. Make sure you learn these precautions and follow them if you ever must respond to a hazardous chemical spill, leak or explosion, to help keep yourself and your co-workers safe.

The Basics of Intellectual Property - May 2016

Understanding the complexities of intellectual property is key for technology companies because a majority of their market position is based on innovations and expertise. Intellectual property refers to the intangible assets of a business, including patents, copyrights, trademarks and trade secrets. These assets are often the most valuable and least understood assets of a corporation. This article is intended to provide a basic understanding of these complex assets.

Patents

What is a patent? 

  • A patent is the legal protection granted by the federal government to an inventor to encourage progress and prevent others from benefiting from the invention.
  • There are three types of patents recognized by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO): utility, design and plant. Utility is the most common and includes any new and useful process, machine, article of manufacture, or composition of matter. In order to obtain any of the three patent types, the inventor must demonstrate that the invention is novel and non-obvious. In addition, to obtain a utility patent, an inventor must also demonstrate utility of some sort. 

What does patent protection provide? 

  • Patent protection involves the right to exclude others from making, using or selling anything that would fall under the claims of the issued patent. The duration of the patent protection depends on the type of patent. Utility and plant patents have a life of 20 years from the date of filing, where design patents have a life of 14 years from issuance. Occasionally, these lengths are extended, but not for more than five years.

What factors are considered when determining whether a patent has been infringed? 

  • Determining whether a patent has been infringed entails the court examining the claims of the patent and comparing them to the accused device or process. This may be more complex in situations where the claims terms are unclear or ambiguous. The court can determine that infringement exists even if the accused device or process isn’t identical to the original. If the device performs substantially the same function in largely the same way to produce substantially identical results, it is likely that a court would find infringement. 

What are my rights if someone infringes my patent? 

  • You may file suit in a federal district court to enforce your patent against an infringer. If you are successful, there are many possible outcomes. Courts look to compensate the patent holder with damages for lost profits and/or punitive damages for willful infringement.

Copyrights

What is a copyright? 

  • A copyright is the legal protection granted by the government to an author. In the case of works created by an employee during the course of his or her job, the copyright would belong to the employer. No publication or registration with the Copyright Office is required to secure a copyright, though there are advantages to registering. Copyrights are secured automatically when a work is created, such as when the source code of a software program is completed. A notice of copyright is also not required, though it can be beneficial.
  • To be granted the most protections for your copyright, the material has to be disclosed to the U.S. copyright office, allowing others to see the material. While a copyright protects material as it is written, someone could gain an understanding of the material and use ideas or parts from the material to create something of their own.

What can be protected by a copyright? 

The Copyright Act sets types of authorship to be protected. A non-exhaustive list of material that may be protected under copyright includes:

  • Computer programs
  • Books, magazines and advertising copy
  • Songs, dramatic works and dance routines
  • Paintings and designs
  • Motion pictures
  • Sound recordings (CD, cassette, digital audio tapes, MP3 files)

The protection afforded by the Copyright Act is a sliding scale based upon creativity. The more creative a work is, the more protection it is afforded. It is important to note that it is not ideas, but expressions of ideas that are protected by the law. 

What does copyright protection provide? 

  • Copyright ownership grants the following specific rights in the work: reproduction, modification, publication, performance and public display of the work. These rights can be limited by the doctrines of fair use and first sale. The length of protection for newly filed registrations is the life of the author plus 75 years. If it is a corporately owned copyright, then the copyright exists for 90 years from the date of publication. 

What factors are considered when determining whether a copyright has been infringed?

  • A copyright can be infringed by violating any of the rights granted: reproduction, modification, publication, performance and public display of the work. A copyright owner only needs to prove that the infringement occurred; it is not necessary to show that the infringement was intentional or malicious.
  • However, “fair use” is allowed without the author’s permission if an individual uses a limited portion of a copyrighted work for purposes such as criticism or research. This standard is not clear-cut and is left to the discretion of the court.

What are my rights if someone infringes my copyright? 

  • If you have a federally registered copyright, you have the right to enforce your copyright by filing suit in a federal district court. A federally registered copyright grants the holder more rights than the common law possession of an unregistered copyright. If the copyright was not federally registered prior to infringement, you can file for a federal registration prior to pursuing a legal action in federal court.

Trademarks

What is a trademark? 

  • A trademark serves to identify a single source for goods or services, membership in an organization or approval from a quality assurance program. It can be a product name, a brand, a slogan, a color and even a scent. Federal law allows for the protection of trademarks. 

What does trademark protection provide? 

  • The scope of the protection can vary widely, depending on the strength and fame of a mark. For instance, many brand names are famous marks that are very strong. The length of time that a mark can be protected is indefinite because it is based upon use, but federal registrations have an initial term of 10 years. A mark may be renewed in successive 10-year increments as long as the mark is still in use. 

What factors are considered when determining whether a trademark has been infringed?

  • Whether a trademark has been infringed is most often dependent upon whether a likelihood of confusion has been found. In determining whether there is a likelihood of confusion, courts generally look at factors like the defendant’s intent, similarity in marketing channels, the overall impression of the two marks in question and the similarity of goods or services associated with the marks.

What are my rights if someone infringes my federally registered trademark? 

  • You have the right to bring an infringement action in a federal district court. After a finding of infringement, the court determines the appropriate remedies for the trademark holder. These can include an injunction to stop the infringing or diluting use, damages to cover defendant’s profits or losses sustained by plaintiff and punitive damages in cases of bad faith. 

Are there applicable state or common laws? 

  • There are state registries for trademarks, with rights and registration varying by state. Consult an attorney licensed in your state for specific state requirements and benefits.

Trade Secrets

What is a trade secret? 

  • A trade secret is any proprietary information that serves as advantage over competitors and is kept secret. It is broadly defined and can range from software coding to a customer list.

What factors are considered when determining whether a trade secret has been infringed?

  • The owner of the trade secret must prove that the alleged confidential information provided a competitive advantage, the information was maintained in secrecy and the information was improperly acquired or disclosed by the defendant.

What are my rights if someone infringes my trade secret? 

  • A lawsuit may be brought under federal or state law depending upon the circumstances. Under the Economic Espionage Act, individuals can be fined up to $500,000 and corporations can be fined up to $5,000,000 plus possible jail time for trade secret infringement. Several states have also enacted laws making it a crime to infringe upon or steal a trade secret.

Are there applicable state or common laws? 

  • Many states also have their own trade secret legislation which should be considered when developing your policy.

Protect Your Business

Patents, copyrights, trademarks and trade secrets may be integral parts of your business. It is vital that you understand the laws associated with these concepts to protect your intellectual property. You also need to ensure that your behavior does not infringe on someone else’s intellectual property. This piece is not exhaustive and should be read as an overview. For more information, consult legal counsel.

Eliminate Electronic Distractions from the Workplace - April 2016

It is a generally accepted fact that the use of cellphones and other electronic devices while driving present a distraction that greatly increases the chance for an accident. Unfortunately, what too many people fail to take into consideration is how distracting these devices can be in other situations.

In an industry of moving machinery and equipment, manufacturing workers are especially susceptible to workplace injury. They need to be alert at all times, as even the smallest slip-up can cause an accident. Not only can an inattentive worker injure themselves but their carelessness can also endanger others. In this type of work environment it is easy to see the importance of minimizing the potential distractions faced by your employees.

Cellphones

Whether it’s talking or texting, cellphone use takes the employees focus off their task. While handheld use compounds the problem, even using a hands-free device does not allow for full concentration. Studies indicate that the act of talking on the phone is distracting regardless of whether the user is physically holding the device or not. It is the conversation itself that takes an employee’s focus off their work and surroundings.

While some employees may need to use a work cellphone as part of their job, it is best to place restrictions on when and where those phones can be used. Personal cellphones should not be allowed on the manufacturing floor at all, as even the momentary distraction of a call or message alert can potentially lead to an accident. Employees should not have phones on their person during work hours unless they are on a break from their duties and are in a designated break area.

Mp3 and Other Music Players

There are a variety of audio cues that alert workers to what is happening around them. Unfortunately, when an employee’s hearing is impaired by music, a shout from a coworker, an odd sound from a malfunctioning machine or the backup alarm on a truck or forklift can be easily missed. Besides limiting the worker’s ability to hear what is going on around them, there is also the potential distraction of operating the device. When adjusting volume or switching songs, not only is the employee’s hearing impaired, but they are also visually engaged with the device. This greatly decreases the worker’s awareness of his or her surroundings.

Potential Hearing Loss

In a manufacturing setting it is not uncommon for there to be high noise levels that require proper ear protection to prevent hearing loss. The use of cellphones, hands-free devices and headphones can interfere with an employee’s proper use of protective equipment. Even though such devices may cover the ear, most are not meant to provide hearing protection.

In fact, in noisy situations, devices that administer sound directly into the ear increase dangerous levels of noise exposure as employees turn up volume levels to drown out background noise. The combination of these noise exposures greatly increases the rate of hearing loss, which in turn increases the chance for occupational hearing loss claims.

Electronics Usage Policy

Attentive, focused employees are essential to creating a safe work environment, which is why it is important to eliminate possible distractions. Prohibiting employee use of personal electronic devices can aid in reducing workplace accidents. To clearly state your company’s rules on when and where usage is restricted, institute an electronics usage policy. Once instituted, train your employees in the policy requirements and make sure restrictions are diligently enforced. 

Common Health and Safety Hazards for Printers - March 2016

The printing industry cannot afford any slowdowns in productivity, customers require accuracy, quality and timeliness. Even a single typo or small delay can threaten the legitimacy of your customers’ printed products. Being late by just one day may have disastrous consequences, since printed products often adhere to rigid printing schedules.

This unwavering devotion to speed and promptness makes the printing industry very efficient, but also particularly susceptible to overlooking its numerous health and safety hazards. The most common types of hazards in the printing industry are manual handling, slips and trips, and machinery accidents.

As an employer in the printing industry, you are responsible for preventing accidents and managing overall employee health and safety. Do not sacrifice health and safety for expediency—you can have both. Read through the following common health and safety hazards for printers and find out how you can protect your employees.

Manual Handling

Manual handling activities—such as lifting, carrying, pushing and pulling—cause the majority of injuries in the printing industry. All employers should avoid manual handling when possible; assess and limit the risks from manual handling, and provide training to avoid injuries.

After identifying and assessing manual handling risks, work to reduce those risks. Do this by providing your employees with mechanical handling aids such as aerial lifts, pile turners, reel conveyors and hand trucks. You can also reduce manual handling risks by reorganizing tasks to decrease the size and weight of everyday loads.

Finally, train employees on appropriate handling techniques, the correct use of handling aids, how manual handling causes injury and how to identify unsafe practices.

Slips and Trips

The potential for slips and trips in printing firms is widespread, especially in production areas. Accidents are usually caused by poor housekeeping, shoddy maintenance and inclement weather. You can limit slip and trip hazards in your workplace by doing the following:

• Keep walkways well-marked and clear of pallets and other obstructions.

• Identify specific places for pallet loading and unloading.

• Provide suitable containers for disposing of strapping, wrapping and paper.

• Designate storage areas for equipment such as hand trucks and forklifts.

• Avoid trailing cables, and provide cable covers for temporary arrangements.

• Repair potholes in floor surfaces.

• Prevent oil leaks by maintaining equipment.

• Clean up spills immediately.

Machinery

Most printing machinery accidents occur during an unsafe intervention with an operating press. Common causes of accidents include being drawn into in-running nips of rollers, contact with dangerous moving parts and entanglement with rotating parts. Take the steps listed below to prevent machinery accidents:

• Choose the right machine for the job.

• Train employees on the proper use of machine safeguards.

• Maintain machine guards.

• Establish a lockout/tagout program for shutting down machines and equipment for cleaning, repairing or emergencies.

• Prohibit employees from wearing loose clothing, jewelry or untied long hair when operating machines.

• Have machines routinely inspected by a qualified technician.

Fires and Explosions

Printing firms are often full of flammable materials that create significant fire and explosion risks. Specific risks in printing include paper fires in infrared dryers and UV curing units, explosions in dryers due to high levels of blanket wash solvent vapor, and fire and explosion due to flammable inks.

You should assess the fire and explosion risks from any dangerous substances used or produced in your workplace. Consider the hazardous properties of each substance, how your employees use that substance and the likelihood of creating and igniting an explosive atmosphere.

Lessen the risk of fire and its ability to spread with the following tips:

• Segregate printing, storage and other areas.

• Ensure the mixing of solvent-based inks is carried out only in dedicated fire-resistant rooms.

• Install fire-detection and extinguishing systems.

• Provide dampers to isolate solvent recovery units in the event of a fire.

Chemicals

The printing industry relies on a host of potentially harmful chemicals. The substances your business needs, such as inks, lacquers, adhesives and cleaning solvents, could cause illness. Employees may breathe in damaging vapors and mists or absorb dangerous chemicals through their skin.

Due to the variety of chemicals they handle, many workers in the printing industry experience dermatitis, or skin inflammation. Dermatitis may develop on their hands, wrists, forearms and elbows. Prevent dermatitis by identifying the materials that could cause it and encouraging employees to avoid them. Provide gloves, cleansers, cream and training and check for signs of dermatitis, such as dryness, itching and redness.

You can also promote a safe workplace by heeding this advice about harmful chemicals:

• Identify which harmful substances may be present in the workplace.

• Consider how workers might expose and consequently harm themselves.

• Assess the measures you currently have in place to prevent chemical hazards.

• Provide information and training to workers.

Noise

Noise, one of the most insidious health and safety hazards in the printing industry, can cause permanent hearing loss. Often, workers do not perceive that their hearing is being damaged until some hearing loss has already happened. Some effects of excessive noise exposure are more obvious, like tinnitus, which is a ringing or whooshing sound in the ears.

If you cannot eliminate noise, lower it as much as possible. Daily noise exposure should be 85 decibels at most, and preferably 80 decibels or less.

Noise can be an easy hazard to avoid—just follow these suggestions:

• Alter machines or processes to produce less noise.

• Enclose noisy machines with acoustic enclosures or hoods.

• Separate noisy machines and processes.

• Implement a system for equipment maintenance which muffles noise.

• Provide refuges for employees to escape exposure.

• Offer hearing protection that stifles sound to below 85 decibels.

Never Stop Improving

While this list is not exhaustive, it is a good start to identifying and combating the hazards in your printing firm. Be sure to create a proper risk assessment for your specific business and implement controls to safeguard your employees. Regularly review your risk assessment to ensure it is still appropriate and never stop improving. Rely on the insurance professionals at CMR Risk & Insurance Services, Inc. for more ways to overcome hazards in the printing industry.

Effects of Air Quality on the Floor - February 2016

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), indoor air has higher levels of pollutants than outdoor air, and consequently can pose environmentally related health problems. This has increasingly become a concern for business owners, as indoor air quality (IAQ) has a direct impact on the health, comfort, well-being and productivity of employees. Furthermore, a report from the EPA to Congress reveals that when businesses improve indoor air quality, they can also increase productivity, decrease the number of days that employees miss work and save money on medical care.

IAQ has been a hot topic since the 1970s, as employee health complaints became more prevalent for two main reasons. First, to reduce heating and cooling costs, businesses made their structures airtight with insulation and sealed windows. Consequently, the amount of outside air introduced into buildings was greatly reduced. Second, more chemical products, supplies, equipment and pesticides began to be used in the work environment, increasing employee exposure to poor air environments. In some cases, employees were subjected to excessive tobacco smoke, which can cause secondhand smoke health problems in addition to sick building syndrome (SBS) or building-related illnesses (BRI).

What is SBS?

A workplace is characterized as having problems with SBS when a substantial number of its occupants experience health and comfort troubles that can be related to working indoors. The reported symptoms do not follow the patterns of any particular illnesses, are difficult to trace to any specific source and relief from the symptoms tends to occur when leaving the facility. Employees may experience headaches, eye, nose and throat irritation, dry or itchy skin, fatigue, dizziness, nausea and loss of concentration.

Indoor air quality, inasmuch as it has a direct impact on health, has become a serious concern for business owners.

What is BRI?

A workplace is characterized with BRI when a relatively small number of employees experience health problems. The symptoms associated with BRIs are similar to those of SBS and are often accompanied by physical signs identified by a physician or laboratory test. Sufferers of BRI may also experience upper respiratory irritation, skin irritations, chills, fever, cough, chest tightness, congestion, sneezing, runny nose, muscle aches and pneumonia. These symptoms may be caused by the following conditions brought on by indoor air pollutants: asthma, hypersensitivity pneumonitis, multiple chemical sensitivity and Legionnaires’ disease. Employees may not experience relief from symptoms when leaving the facility.

What Causes These Diseases?

The IAQ problems that may cause SBS and/or BRI may include the following:

  • Lack of fresh air

  o  If insufficient fresh air is introduced into occupied areas of the workplace, the environment can become stagnant and odors and contaminants can accumulate. This is the primary cause of SBS.

  • Poorly maintained or poorly operated ventilation systems
  • Mechanical ventilation systems must be properly maintained and operated based on the original design or prescribed procedures. If systems are neglected, their ability to provide adequate IAQ decreases. For instance, when systems are missing or have overloaded filters, this can cause excess dust, pollen and cigarette smoke to enter occupied spaces, and can cause health problems.

  o  Disruption of air circulation throughout occupied spaces

  • The quantity of air depends on the effectiveness of air distribution. If it is disrupted, blocked or otherwise cannot reach occupied areas, air can become stagnant. Walls, dropped ceiling tiles and other obstacles can divert the supply of air in occupied spaces.

  o  Poorly regulated temperature and relative humidity levels

  • If the temperature and/or relative humidity levels are too high or too low, employees may experience discomfort, loss of concentration, eye and throat irritation, dry skin, sinus headaches, nosebleeds and an inability to wear contact lenses. If relative humidity levels are too high, microbial contamination can build up and cause BRI.

  o  Indoor and outdoor sources of contamination

  • Chemical emissions can contribution to BRI and SBS from cigarette smoke, machinery, insulation, pesticides, wood products, synthetic plastics, new carpeting, glues, furnishings, paints, cleaning agents, boiler emissions, roof renovations and contaminated air from exhaust stacks. Indoor contaminants may include radon, ozone, formaldehyde, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), ammonia, carbon monoxide, particulates, nitrogen and sulfur oxides and asbestos.

Improve Air Quality

To determine if your facility has poor IAQ, follow standard investigative procedures including:

  • Conduct employee interviews to obtain pertinent information regarding the number of employees affected, location and position of affected employees in the building, and employee symptoms.
  • Review building operations and maintenance procedures to determine when and what types of chemicals are being used during cleaning, waxing, painting, gluing, roofing operations, renovation, etc.
  • Conduct a walk-through inspection to evaluate possible sources that may contribute to IAQ complaints.
  • Inspect the HVAC system to determine if it is working properly and is in good condition.
  • Review building blueprints of the ductwork and ventilation system to determine if it is adequately designed.
  • Conduct air sampling to detect specific contaminants and their levels.

Correcting and Preventing Problems

  1. Ensure Adequate Fresh Air Supply

  o  Create a preventive maintenance schedule and follow it according to manufacturer’s recommendations or by accepted practices to ensure that ventilation systems are properly checked, maintained and documented. Preventive maintenance schedules should include inspections of equipment by assuring the following:

  • Outdoor air supply dampers are opened as they were originally designed and remain unobstructed.
  • Fan belts are properly operating, in good condition and replaced when necessary.
  • Equipment parts are lubricated.
  • Motors are properly functioning and in good operating condition.
  • Diffusers are open and unobstructed for adequate air mixing.
  • The system is properly balanced.
  • Filters are properly installed and replaced at specific intervals.
  • Damaged components are replaced or repaired.
  • Condensate pans are properly drained and are in good condition.

  o  To achieve acceptable IAQ, outdoor air quality must be adequately distributed at a minimum rate of 20 cubic feet per minute (cfm) per person OR the concentration of all known contaminants should be restricted to specified acceptable levels as identified in the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers, Inc. (ASHRAE) “Ventilation for Acceptable Indoor Air Quality” Standard. For more information, visit www.ashrae.org. 

  o  To determine if the ventilation system is effectively providing adequate fresh air, carbon dioxide levels should be measured. ASHRAE sets the standard of 1,000 ppm of carbon dioxide as the maximum recommended level for acceptable IAQ.

  o  If possible, gauges should be installed to provide information on air volumes delivered by supply and return fans.

  o  A sufficient supply of outside air should be provided to all occupied spaces. If this is not the case, buildings can be at a negative pressure, allowing untreated air and/or contaminants to infiltrate from the outside. To determine if this problem is prevalent, observe the direction of air movement at windows and doors.

  o  Ventilation system filters should have moderate efficiency ratings of 60 percent or more as measured by ASHRAE atmospheric dust spot tests and be of an extended surface type. To determine if the filters have the appropriate efficiency rating, check with the manufacturer. Pre-filters should be used before air passes through higher efficiency filters.

  o  Avoid overcrowding employees or patrons in one area or another, and make sure that the proper amount of outdoor air is provided based on the number of occupants.

2. Eliminate or Control Known and Potential Sources of Contaminants

  o  To control chemical contamination:

  • Use local exhaust ventilation to capture and remove contaminates generated by specific processes, when appropriate. Local exhaust does not re-circulate the contaminated air; instead it directly exhausts the contaminant outdoors.
  • Check to be sure that your HVAC fresh air intakes or other building vents or openings are not located in close proximity to potential sources of contamination.
  • Eliminate or reduce cigarette smoke. Smoking restrictions or designated smoking areas should be considered, and the air from these areas should not be re-circulated to non-smoking areas of the building.

  o  To control Microbial Contamination:

  • Detect and repair all areas where water collection or leakage has occurred.
  • Maintain relative humidity levels at less than 60 percent in all occupied areas and low-velocity plenums. Cooling coils should be run at a low temperature to properly dehumidify conditioned air in summer months.
  • Due to dust or dirt accumulation, additional filtration downstream may be necessary before air is introduced into occupied spaces.
  • Heat exchange components and drain pans should be accessible so maintenance personnel can easily inspect and clean them. Access panels and doors should be installed, when needed.
  • Clean and disinfect non-porous surfaces where moisture can collect.

CMR Risk & Insurance Services, Inc. knows how much you depend on your employees, and can help you ensure their health by taking measures to prevent employee illness. Contact us for more information on health insurance and how to maintain a safe and healthy workplace.

 

Preparing for a Product Recall - January 2016

From vehicles to pharmaceuticals to food products, what might risk managers learn from mass media coverage of product recalls? For manufacturers of all types of consumer goods, they might serve as a wake-up call to the potential impact of a product recall event and a lesson in what should be done immediately to prepare for potential exposures. According to data from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), there are an average of 35,000 consumer product-related injuries every year.

Costs from a product recall or contamination can easily become many millions of dollars. In addition to the physical expense of a recall, falling sales due to poor consumer confidence, brand rehabilitation expenses and potential shareholder lawsuits may also contribute to long-term losses. 

Despite recall frequency and the potential for extraordinary costs, most companies don’t adequately plan, prepare and practice for—or buy insurance to protect against—product recall events. In addition to proper insurance coverages, careful planning is essential in managing the risk of a recall.

Types of Exposure

There are two categories of exposure for a company faced with a product recall incident: first-party operational losses to the company and third-party liability losses to injured persons.

Unlike third-party losses, first-party loss is often overlooked. In addition to initial recall expenses, the potential long-term losses from the damage to a company’s reputation and loss of sales may continue for months or even years. Since these losses can be catastrophic, this article focuses on ways to manage first-party incident exposures.

Misconceptions and Considerations

It is a common misconception that product recall is covered under a general or product liability policy. Those coverages do a good job of covering bodily injury and property damage but generally exclude contamination and recall events. The addition of a product contamination or product recall policy protects your bottom line by covering the direct costs of recall, but transferring the risk is only one part of closing the recall exposure gap. 



Despite recall frequency and the potential for extraordinary costs, most manufacturing companies do not adequately plan and buy insurance to protect against product recall events.


Regardless of size, every company offering consumer products—and sometimes those that offer products intended for commercial and industrial use—should establish solid product risk management policies and procedures for handling a recall or contamination event.

Understanding Three Basic Perils

It’s helpful to understand the three basic contamination 

perils when designing a risk management program that provides the best protection for the least cost.

  • Malicious tampering (intentional contamination) is prone to publicity, so it may seem common. In reality, malicious tampering is rare, but when it strikes, it tends to be a very severe loss. Managing this risk exposure can be difficult, as motives vary widely.
  • Accidental contamination is an unintentional error in the manufacturing, packaging or storage of a product. This includes mislabeling of ingredients, contamination by a foreign object or chemical, etc. This peril is the most common, but the majority of incidents are discovered prior to shipment. Therefore, these events receive very little publicity. As opposed to malicious tampering, this peril has very high frequency but usually relatively low severity. While most accidental contaminations are small events, historically the largest losses have been due to accidental contaminations.
  • Product extortion is the most difficult peril to characterize. Its frequency is between that of malicious tampering and accidental contamination. Its severity, however, is more difficult to quantify. Most extortions are amateurish hoaxes but may evolve into outright tampering cases, which can be very costly.

Pyramid Defense

Think of your risk management plan as a pyramid that outlines a series of defenses to counter the threat of a product incident. The first line of defense is the base of the pyramid. What actions can be taken to eliminate the majority of threats, such as unwanted bacteria, disgruntled employees, malfunctioning equipment, sloppy suppliers or lax testing? Put that in the first tier (bottom) of the pyramid. Any threats that escape being eliminated by the first tier should be addressed by the second, and so on. As the pyramid rises, the plan becomes more specific and more effective at isolating and eliminating product incident threats.

  • Tier 1 - Total commitment to quality. The good news is that most of what can be done to protect against a product incident occurs in the area of product quality assurance and control. Commitment to turning out the highest quality products day after day is the best countermeasure to the threat of a product recall crisis. This dedication to quality should be evident in every aspect of business, from manufacturing to marketing. The logic is simple: If the product can’t leave the plant in a contaminated state and the packaging is designed so that tampering is difficult to accomplish or obvious once done, the odds of experiencing a major incident are considerably reduced.
  • Tier 2 - Prepare with a contingency plan. It is essential to have a plan in place before a crisis arises. Research indicates that the first 48 hours of a major product incident are more crucial than the next 48 days. Every company should have a workable product recall and crisis management plan.
  • Tier 3 - Focus with training. Contingency plans aren’t of much use if they haven’t been tested and honed under simulated conditions to ensure the plan works.
  • Tier 4 - Respond with expertise and decisiveness. Even with a good team and a good plan, there is a place in a recall crisis for professional consultants.
  • Tier 5 - Transfer risk where possible. Even the best companies who are prepared for a recall can suffer substantial financial losses. In spite of all precautions, a large-scale public recall may cost millions of dollars in extra expense, lost profits, lost inventory, lost shelf space and lost market share. If it comes to this, the last line of defense is a solid product recall insurance program—one that indemnifies for the host of extra expenses and losses in revenue that come with product withdrawals. 

Product Recall Insurance

Insurance for first-party losses caused by product tampering and contamination incidents are broadly labeled as product recall insurance. Product recall policies help to cover the additional costs of a recall, including product loss, costs to withdraw the product from market, product disposal, product testing, overtime wages and crisis management—costs that can be devastating because they arise at a time when a company's revenues are typically hardest hit.

There are several coverage forms, each designed to isolate some component of first-party product exposure. Work with CMR Risk & Insurance Services, Inc. to ensure your product recall policy provides indemnity for:

  • Recall expense. This out-of-pocket expense is associated with executing a large-scale product withdrawal. It includes costs like extra temporary employees, overtime, public safety messages, special testing and handling, destruction and disposal costs and crisis management and/or PR consulting fees.
  • Replacement cost. As the name implies, this is the cost of replacing any product that had to be destroyed. This includes the cost of materials, labor and overhead directly associated with producing the product.
  • Lost profits. This indemnifies the insured for profits which would have been earned on the withdrawn products and also for profits that would have been earned on future product sales but which were not earned because of resultant future sales declines. This is usually limited to a specified time period.
  • Brand rehabilitation expense. Most underwriters will also indemnify the insured for necessary rehabilitation of the recalled product’s consumer image. This includes costs like extra advertising, extra expense to rush a new product to market and special promotions to rebuild public trust in the manufacturer and its products.

In addition to transferring risk, thorough risk management practices are essential to minimize the exposure and the cost of a recall event. The product recall insurance marketplace is highly specialized. Our team of experts can help secure the coverage you need and collaborate with you develop a business contingency plan that meets your specific needs. Contact us today at (619) 297-3160.


Preventing and Protecting Against Arc Flashes - December 2015

Electrical workers have the sixth most dangerous profession in the United States, and according to recent Bureau of Labor Statistics research, electric shock causes only about 20 percent of all injuries among these workers. The majority of injuries in this profession are external burns or other effects of electrical arc explosions. There are between 5 and 10 OSHA-reportable arc flash events every day in the country—averaging one fatality every 28 hours.

Arc Flashes: The Basics

The best way to think of an arc flash is as a short circuit through the air. An electric arc arises from energy being released through the air when high voltage exists across a gap between conductors. Any electrical service of more than 450 volts has the capacity for an arc flash, and they are especially dangerous because they are highly unpredictable. Arc flashes cannot only give off thermal radiation and light that will scorch unprotected skin, but they also could produce pressure and sound waves causing traumatic hearing loss or blunt force trauma from flying electrical components. Next to the laser, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) reports that the electric arc is the hottest event on earth, with recorded temperatures as high as 35,000° F.

Arc flashes are often misunderstood because the worker will hardly ever come in contact with an energized electrical conductor when they occur. Also, arcing can occur with direct current, like mine DC trolley systems or batteries. Therefore, the burns are not caused by electric shock, but rather by electromagnetic radiation that can vary from infrared to ultraviolet and cause anything from mild skin reddening to third-degree burns, including the complete destruction of skin, muscle and any other surrounding tissue.



Arc flashes can not only give off thermal radiation and light that will scorch unprotected skin, but they could also produce pressure and sound waves causing traumatic hearing loss or blunt force trauma from flying electrical components.


There are several events that can trigger an arc flash:

  • Inadvertently bridging electrical contacts with a conducting object
  • Dropping a tool or otherwise causing a spark
  • Coming near an extremely high-amp source with a conducting object, causing the electricity to arc
  • Breaks or gaps in insulation
  • The buildup of dust or corrosion
Equipment failure because of either normal wear and tear or improper upkeep

The Bureau of Labor calls arc flash incidents “disproportionately fatal,” and the hazards of electric arc flashes are present at many manufacturing workplaces. Also, the population of workers who could be exposed to arc flash dangers is quickly on the rise. Injuries resulting from burns tend to cause more days off work—translating to more expenses for your company—than other types of work-related incidents. All of these reasons are incentive for you to introduce a risk management program for arc flashes.

The good news is that in a study conducted recently by NIOSH, 94 percent of arc flash victims or witnesses said the incident could have been prevented. The best thing you can do as an employer is educate yourself, and your employees, and place a high value on establishing a safe working environment so your workers will do the same.

OSHA Requirements

There are two main entities that monitor business practices for the prevention of arc flashes in the workplace. The Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) and the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) have material governing industry standards in 29 CFR Part 1910, Subpart S and 70E, respectively.

OSHA mandates that employers must follow “safe work practices” to prevent electric shock or other injuries resulting from either direct or indirect electrical contacts, which would include arc flashes. Employers must adhere to the following OSHA regulations to prevent arc flashing:

  • All services to electrical equipment must be done in a de-energized state; that is, lockout and tagout laws apply to all electrical work. Only two circumstances are OSHA-acceptable exceptions where working on live electrical parts would be permissible:
  1. When the work cannot be done on a de-energized system (only permissible if physically impossible, not acceptable if it is feasible but significantly more difficult on a de-energized system)
  2. When de-energizing equipment would create additional hazards (inconvenience does not qualify as an additional hazard)
  • When performing work on an energized or live circuit, tools and equipment must be insulated.
  • Personal protective equipment (PPE) must be worn for both eyes and face whenever the risk of arcing is present, and the use of protective shields or barriers are required where dangerous electric heating is present.
  • PPE being used must fully protect employees from potential shock, pressure blast and arc flash burn hazards based on the incident energy exposure and the specific task being performed.

NFPA Requirements

In addition to these regulations, OSHA also recommends that employers follow the NFPA 70E standards, which outlines more specific safety measures that can be used to comply with OSHA’s general guidelines. Think of NFPA 70E as the “how-to” standard for complying with OSHA’s broad, vague requirement of “safe work practices.” It gives step-by-step instructions on how to ensure a system is de-energized, how to label equipment properly, how to conduct a flash-hazard analysis and what kind of flame-resistant clothing should be used in a given situation.

To clarify, NFPA 70E is not an OSHA requirement and it is not the law; however, OSHA does recommend that it be used to comply or supplement the law. In fact, OSHA’s field inspectors commonly carry a copy of NFPA 70E and use it to enforce arc flash safety procedures. OSHA’s General Duty Clause enables them to issue citations when unsafe working conditions are identified for which a regulation does not exist; that said, compliance with NFPA 70E could serve as evidence that a hazard prevention program is in place and save your company thousands of dollars in fines.

Who to Target with Arc Flash Safety Messages

Modeling safe job performance and enforcing safety precautions is crucial for all employees, regardless of experience. Because of their unpredictable nature and variety of causes, arc flash incidents could happen to anyone, no matter how qualified. In fact, let your employees know that according to the NIOSH study, the average arc flash victim is 37 years old with 16 years of electrical experience; this goes against the typical assumption that accidents only happen to young, inexperienced workers. It is also important to emphasize to your employees that arc flashes themselves are avoidable by being less careless and taking the necessary safety precautions.

As the employer, you are the model in the workplace. The more seriously you take safety, the more cautious your employees will be. This will result in fewer arc flash injuries and, in turn, fewer fatalities and ultimately lower workers’ compensation costs. If you have questions about how to model your safe job performance standards, or if you have additional questions about arc flash incident prevention, contact us at (619) 297-3160.

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Working Safely in Warehouses - November 2015

A safe, efficient and orderly warehouse is crucial to business success. Warehouses are like the heart of a business—they are the central transfer point, storing and sending raw material or manufactured goods onward to distribution, thereby keeping the pulse of the business beating. Many business operations become impossible without a warehouse.

Warehouses are vital, but they can also be dangerous—because they are a center of activity with a flurry of circulating goods and moving vehicles, they usually have a higher potential for accidents than other areas with more limited functions.

Improving warehouse safety can have a positive effect, streamlining your entire organization. To have a safe, productive warehouse, reduce the following causes of accidents in warehousing and storage.

Slips and Trips

Slips and trips plague all sorts of workplaces, and warehouses are no exception. Although they are usually dismissed as a trivial part of everyday life, slip and trip accidents can be serious and occasionally fatal.

The main cause of slips is a wet or contaminated floor. In warehouses, things like water, oil, cleaning products, dry powders and food can all make the floor more slippery.

You can eliminate a significant portion of your warehouse’s slip risk by maintaining your equipment, since properly maintained equipment will not leak onto the floor. If your floor becomes contaminated, establish a policy that requires employees to clean immediately after noticing contamination.

Most warehouse floors have good slip resistance when they are clean and dry, but even a tiny bit of wetness or contamination can make them very slippery. The rougher your floor, the more traction it will provide and the fewer slip accidents it will cause. Footwear that provides increased traction can help limit accidents, but only issue slip-controlling footwear as a last resort—try fixing the root of the problem first.

Trip hazards are more obvious. Objects on the floor, uneven surfaces or other trip hazards are usually easier to spot than slip hazards. Like slips, trips can be greatly minimized with diligent housekeeping. Plan your workflows and storage to make sure nothing causes obstructions where people walk. Provide good lighting and check that floor surfaces are even inside and outside the building. If an item does fall onto a traffic route, clear it as soon as possible.

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Warehouses are like the heart of a business—they are the central transfer point, sending raw materials or manufactured goods onward to distribution.

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Manual Handling

Employees in every industry, but especially the warehousing and storage industry, experience some kind of minor work-related aches and pains. For warehouse employees, lower back and neck pain can be a common side effect of daily work.

Improper manual handling techniques can exacerbate these daily ailments and cause severe, lasting injuries. That is why it is imperative to train your employees in safe manual handling.

Gauge your warehouse’s manual handling risks by undertaking a risk assessment for all operations and tasks that present a risk of injury due to manual handling. Consider the following when assessing your warehouse’s manual handling risk:

  • The task
  • The load
  • The working environment
  • The individual’s capacity

The preceding factors will help you determine whether a manual handling task is risky. If there is a manual handling risk, always try to avoid the task first. If you cannot avoid the task, devise a system to reduce your risk, such as using mechanical handling devices or redesigning tasks so goods are not moved manually.

Work at Height

Falls from height can cause extreme, life-altering injuries. For this reason, work at height should be avoided at all costs. However, avoiding work at height is practically impossible in a warehouse. Therefore, as an employer, it is your responsibility to ensure work at height is properly planned, appropriately supervised and safely accomplished.

One easy way to lower your work at height risk is to make sure employees use the right equipment. A risk assessment can identify the best equipment for each type of job. Employees should inspect the equipment used for work at height before and after every task to make sure it is safe.

Vehicles in the Warehouse

One of your biggest risks is unavoidable: vehicles moving in and around the warehouse. The inevitability of vehicle movement requires careful management to lessen the likelihood of accidents.

Because not every driver operating vehicles in and around your warehouse will be familiar with the site, provide them all with copies of your site rules. Include infographics and present information in plain language to make it easier for foreign drivers to understand.

Your site rules should outline routes that are meant for pedestrians and routes that are vehicle-only. Separate vehicles from pedestrians as often as possible. When pedestrians and vehicles must share the same traffic route, invest in adequate separation between them.

Let the following best practices dictate your traffic route planning:

  • Minimize the need for reversing.
  • Avoid sharp bends and blind corners.
  • Maintain your traffic routes—do not allow potholes to develop.
  • Forgo any design choices that will harm load stability, such as steep slopes.

Moving or Falling Objects

Most warehouses store objects at height. While this maximizes space, it also raises the chance of workers being struck by falling objects. If your warehouse has areas with an increased risk of an object falling and striking someone, make sure they are clearly indicated and that only authorized people are allowed to enter.

To help keep objects stationary, inspect pallets each time before use to make sure they are in good condition. Damaged pallets can lead to shifting loads and falling objects.

Tailored Insurance Is Best

These five warehouse hazards are just the beginning of a long list. Supplement this guidance with the findings from your own risk assessment and a tailored insurance policy from CMR Risk & Insurance Services, Inc. to keep your business protected from the numerous hazards waiting in your warehouse.

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Employee Theft—A Serious Risk - October 2015

During rough economic periods, many of your employees will likely suffer from financial woes at home. If your company experiences tough economic times, then employees may face the added worry of losing their job. Unfortunately, financial stress can sometimes lead normally honest employees to resort to theft at work. Employee theft is a concern you should always have, but that risk is greater than ever in a down economy. Employees may also rationalize this uncharacteristic behavior if they were given extra responsibilities without a pay increase after others were terminated.

Theft comes in many shapes and sizes. You may think your largest risk comes from employees who handle your books embezzling money. While this is a serious threat, you also should consider the materials on the manufacturing floor. Some scrap material and/or finished products can be very valuable if employees steal and sell them.

Tips to Protect Your Organization

To prevent theft at your company, consider the following safeguards:

  • Communicate with your employees about the economy and how it will affect your organization. Be open and honest, but discourage them from panicking.
  • Try to maintain a positive work environment even during tough times. Encourage open communication, listen to employees’ ideas and recognize employee achievement.
  • Educate your employees about what is considered fraud and the consequences  associated with it, and emphasize that the company has a no-tolerance policy.
  • Conduct more internal audits, both with your financials and scrap materials and finished products on the production floor.
  • Increase company oversight by upper management and owners.
  • Reconcile bank statements immediately.
  • Consider using a payroll service to ensure accuracy.


Employee theft is a concern you should always have as an employer, but the risk is greater than ever in a down economy.

  • Purchase insurance for embezzlement.
  • Consider installing surveillance equipment. Be mindful that this may decrease employee morale if they feel that they are not trusted.
  • Upper management may consider taking a pay decrease or not receiving bonuses, so that lower-level employees see that everyone in the organization is affected.
  • Regarding financial tasks, give different employees different jobs, such as one person handling transaction authorizations, one person collecting or paying cash and one person maintaining records. Do not allow one employee to have too much control.
  • Establish a fraud hotline for employees to report suspicious or fraudulent behavior. Give them the option to call anonymously.
  • Conduct thorough background checks on all your new hires.
  • Train supervisors to monitor employees and watch for suspicious behavior. Any suspicious behavior should be reported and further investigated.
  • Be sure to monitor your management employees as well, especially any with access to financial transactions or records. 

To learn more about insurance for embezzlement, contact CMR Risk & Insurance Services, Inc. today

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Maintaining Safety in a Bilingual Workplace - September 2015

A productive and safe workplace hinges on the quality of communication between management and workers. Language and cultural barriers that emerge in a bilingual workforce can contribute to miscommunication and on-the-job accidents and injuries. Because employees that do not speak English generally hesitate to ask for help when they do not understand, every employer with a bilingual workforce must take steps to bridge cultural gaps and ensure proper communication.

A Good Beginning

Orientation should be offered in the worker’s native language, if possible. Bilingual trainers in human resources or senior positions can serve a dual role, acting as translators at orientation, workplace presentations and safety meetings throughout the year.

Signage They Understand

To promote worker safety, you should post signage and communication materials in the language in which your employees are fluent.  For Spanish language compliance assistance, OSHA offers a variety of free, health and safety materials at: http://www.osha.gov/dcsp/compliance_assistance/index_hispanic.html

In addition to printed safety materials, provide information about wages, medical insurance and employee policies. It is beneficial to first evaluate employees’ level of education, job duties and common injuries, as well as culture and background, and then adapt your safety programs and communications materials accordingly.

The Translation Option

Consider professional translation of your materials. If you have Spanish speaking employees, ensure the materials are translated into the most prominent dialect, and ask a native speaker to review the material for accuracy before distributing companywide. The standard translation fee ranges from $10 to $20 per page, but it is well worth the expense when weighed against the risk of workplace accidents due to poor communication or understanding.


To prevent on-the-job accidents and injuries due to lack of communication, it is essential for employers to accommodate workers who do not speak English.


Language Education

 To develop and retain skilled workers, you may want to consider offering on-site language classes to help your workers build communication skills. Offering learning opportunities at the workplace is convenient for the worker and encourages learning through the team setting. 

Safety Standards

On the safety front, keep in mind that new immigrants may not understand the importance of following U.S. safety standards. If a machine breaks on an employee’s shift, he or she may worry that his or her job is on the line and try to fix it or make do. Make sure new employees understand that broken machinery in the workplace is taken very seriously to ensure everyone’s safety. Workers should understand that properly reporting problems is a behavior to be rewarded, and will not cost them a job.

Stay in Touch

Plan to make regular, frequent visits with your bilingual employees, making sure to touch on safety issues in the workplace, and encouraging them to ask about any doubts or issues they may be encountering on the job. To create a welcoming environment for all employees, work to develop a company culture that promotes and supports diversity as a core value of the organization.

Contact Us

For information about protecting your company against liability exposures, contact the experts at CMR Risk & Insurance Services, Inc. at [B_Phone].

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Emergency Eyewash Station Requirements - August 2015

While the use of primary eye protection is already required in your workplace, accidents can still happen. It takes only one splash from a corrosive or caustic chemical and lack of an adequate emergency response system to cause permanent blindness.

It is easy to see that the cost of adhering to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) emergency eyewash regulations is far less than the potential cost of losing an employee and paying workers’ compensation benefits for years. 

OSHA’s Standard

According to OSHA, any workplace where employees’ eyes could be exposed to harmful corrosive or caustic material is required to have suitable facilities for quick-drenching or flushing of the eyes. The standard specifies that these facilities must be within the work area and available for immediate emergency use. This applies to all businesses that fit the criteria regardless of size and number of employees.

A good way to determine whether you need to have an eyewash station at your facility is by examining the first aid information on any chemicals your employees work with, which can be found either on the label or on the Safety Data Sheet (SDS). If these instructions indicate that exposure of the substance to the eyes would require 15 minutes or more of flushing, you need an eyewash station. There is no OSHA threshold for quantity of corrosive material that triggers the requirement of an eyewash station—rather, the determining factor is the possible exposure of an employee to injury.

However, beyond requiring “suitable facilities,” this standard is rather vague. Thus, the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) has publicized an emergency eyewash standard that further outlines what kinds of facilities are considered OSHA-compliant. OSHA specifically emphasizes that any equipment in compliance with ANSI requirements would meet the intent of the OSHA standard.

Eyewash Station Regulations

The following is a list of stipulations and requirements outlined by ANSI standard Z385.1, which is intended as a guideline for proper design, installation, use and maintenance of eyewash equipment.

  • Eyewash stations must be within a 10-second walk of wherever the hazard is and it cannot be up or down stairs. This means that depending on the size of your facility and the number of hazards, you might need more than one eyewash station.
  • If employees are working with exceptionally strong or dangerous materials where the consequences of a spill would be particularly harmful, the eyewash station should be installed immediately adjacent to the hazard.
  • An injured person must be able to turn on and start the eyewash’s water flow in no more than one second.
  • Device must be able to be operated hands-free if necessary so the injured person can use it while also holding his or her eye(s) open.
  • Eyewash must deliver a continuous flow at a rate of 0.4 gallons per minute for a minimum of 15 minutes.
  • The water temperature delivered by the eyewash should be “tepid,” or in other words, lukewarm. However, investigate the types of chemicals employees are working with and identify any that may have an accelerated reaction with warm water. In that case, consult a medical professional about the optimal temperature of the eyewash station.
  • Employees must be appropriately trained in not only the location of the eyewash, but on its proper use. It is not enough to simply install the equipment, as employees may not know how or when to use it when an emergency actually arises.
  • Perform regular maintenance on eyewash equipment. For compliance with the standard, it should be inspected at least annually and also activated weekly to ensure proper operation.

Plumbed Eyewash Stations

Both portable and plumbed eyewash stations are acceptable to satisfy the OSHA standard. The only type of eyewash that is not adequate is a wall-mounted plastic eye flushing bottle, as it does not supply a 15-minute, continuous water flow.

Though plumbed eyewashes are acceptable, they require a bit more care to ensure they serve their function in the event of an emergency. They do have advantages, such as the unlimited water supply, durability and ability to also include an emergency shower in the case of full-body chemical exposure. However, if they are not properly maintained, they could do more harm than good. Since tap water is the source, failure to properly maintain these types of stations could cause buildup from pipes or standing water to be the rinsing agent. This could present a dangerous situation when working with highly reactive and volatile substances.

Because of these dangers, it is not enough to simply have an eyewash station on site. It is important—and vital to your employees’ health—to clean the bowl and nozzles regularly, check the water pressure and run the water weekly to prevent pipe buildup. It is also a good idea to keep copies of these cleaning records to assure an OSHA inspector of your good faith efforts to comply. When a safety standard is vague—like the emergency eyewash standard, it is in [C_Officialname]’s best interest to do everything possible to guarantee compliance.

CMR Risk & Insurance Services, Inc.: Your Compliance Partner

Do you have additional questions? If so, we’re here to help. Our team of property and casualty professionals has a host of compliance resources available to support your facility and employee safety initiatives. Please contact CMR Risk & Insurance Services, Inc. at (619) 297-3160 for further assistance.

 

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Comfort Tips for Computer Users - July 2015

Symptoms of stress and fatigue from working at a computer can be avoided with proper posture, good work habits, and ensuring the equipment you work on is adjusted correctly. The following tips should help minimize these symptoms and maximize your personal comfort.

Posture

  • All body angles-hips, knees and elbows-should be at or around 90 degrees.
  • Sit up with chair tilted back slightly.
  • Your head should be upright, facing forward.
  • Your thighs should be approximately parallel to the floorwhile the back of your knees should not be in contact with the chair seat.
  • Your shoulders should be relaxed.
  • Your feet should be flat on the floor or on a footrest.
  • Your back should be firmly supported.
  • Your arms should rest lightly on the armrests of the chair.
  • Your wrists should be straight and flat, not bent backwards.

Equipment

  • Your keyboard angle should be adjusted as flat as possible or pointing slightly down, and the keyboard should be seated at elbow height.
  • Your mouse or other input device should be at elbow height, next to your keyboard.
  • Your monitor and keyboard should be in line with the center of your upper torso and eyes, to help you avoid awkward and uncomfortable body positions.
  • The top of your monitor screen should be slightly below eye level.
  • Adjust your chair and the height of your keyboard so you can follow the above posture guidelines.
  • Use a wrist rest if you find it difficult or tiring to hold your wrists level. Never plat your wrist rest while you key. Use it to support your palms between keying activities.
  • Adjust the angle of your monitor to reduce glare or reflection. Try to have your monitor at right angles to windows or long banks of light.
  • Keep the screen free of dust and fingerprints.
  • If the display is blurry or jittery, report it to your supervisor.

Work Habits

  • Use a lighter touch on the keyboard to reduce shock to your wrists.
  • Use a document holder if you often type material from other sources. Task lighting may be necessary to read reference material.
  • Periodically focus your eyes on an object at least 20 feetaway.
  • Take a minute every so often to stretch and vary your routine.
  • Periodically change your posture throughout the day.
  • Build dynamic work into your day. You should perform 15 minutes of non-keying activity for every 2 hours of keying.
  • Do not cradle the telephone between your shoulder and neck while keying

Managing Imports and Outsourcing in a Global Arena - June 2015

In an effort to decrease costs and better compete on a global scale, many U.S. businesses have shifted manufacturing of their products to other countries. In addition, foreign manufacturers are increasingly exporting their products toachieve a greater share of the large U.S. market.

These trends will likely increase. While there may be financial benefits from thesale of products manufactured outside of the United States, there also may berisks. By being aware of these risks, you can help minimize them.

Product Liability Exposures Can Impact U.S. Importers, Too

A review of regulatory agency web sites such as the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and U.S. Department of Agriculture(USDA) can give a sense of the staggering number and type of recalls initiated by domestic sellers of foreign products. In most cases, bodily injury or property damage descriptions are included.

Pursuing a claim or enforcing a contractual agreement in a foreign jurisdiction can be costly, time consuming, unsuccessful or essentially impossible. This inability to transfer risk or liability to a foreign entity can effectively give the U.S. importer the same product liability exposures as a U.S.-based manufacturer.

Importers, wholesalers, retailers and manufacturers of products containing foreign-made components need to be actively concerned about assuring product/component safety and compliance with regulations and standards.

Product Standards and Expectations Can Vary Widely

Foreign laws, product standards and user expectations can differ from those in the U.S. These differences impact the levels of safety and quality measuresrequired in engineering, production and testing. Some countries have few or even no manufacturing or testing standards, as well as ineffective enforcement and controls.

Consequently, clothing flammability, lead and other toxic contaminants in consumer products, food sanitation, electrical safety and toy safety are examples of product issues that have resulted in costly recalls and product liability claims. While some foreign countries have comprehensive standards and testing requirements, they may differ from those in the United States in key ways. Design features like guards, interlocks, labeling, warnings andinstructions may be different or absent in foreign products.

What This Means to the Domestic Importer or Seller

Broadly stated, "strict liability" states that "one who sells...adefective product" that causes bodily or property damage may be held responsible for that damage. As a result, it is not uncommon for any seller of foreign products to stand alone in the American courts when it comes to actual claims or lawsuits and in dealing with regulatory matters or recalls. This also can impact U.S. manufacturers of products containing foreign-made raw materials, components or subassemblies.

To help minimize risk, know current U.S. standards and regulations that apply to your products (labeling, design safety features, record keeping, test requirements,etc.). Non-compliance with industry standards or government regulations can increase the likelihood of a product liability claim and make the case difficult to defend in court. Additionally, Homeland Security and the FDA Bioterrorism Act have created new regulations and controls regarding the importation of various products, including food products.

Other Steps to Minimize Risks

Use a domestic importer;  Use of a domestic importer does not eliminate the potential for problems. However, this strategy may help to provide a level of protection, specifically where the domestic importer maintains product liability insurance, provides vendor coverage and annually provides a certificate of insurance.

Using or requiring the use of a third-party testing laboratory (a laboratory with U.S. Locations that can provide a certificate of liability insurance)makes good business sense for almost any product. The laboratory shouldbe able to help verify compliance with standards and regulations.

There may be product lines where it is advantageous to use a popular U.S. brandname to help sell the product. Use of a brand name requires purchasing permission or a license from the brands owner. It is likely that the brand's owner will want to test product samples before granting permission to use the brand name. Such testing and licensing creates another layer of quality control.

Tight Controls on Quality and Efficiency

Many products have labeling standards. Languages can have social, cultural and religious overtones and subtleties. Assuring compliance with such standards and accurate translations should be a part of the process. Where translations are necessary, they should be done by a certified vendor that provides evidence of domestic insurance.

Certifications of product compliance or records of product test results from the foreign manufacturer are desirable, but are not a substitute forthird-party testing or other quality control measures. Watch for counterfeit independent laboratory labels on imported products. Contact the respective lab to verify the listing of manufacturers and/or products inquestion.

Note that many foreign manufacturers and processors have started to invest in ISO 9000 quality control programs and Hazard Analysis and Critical Point (HACCP)programs (for food processing) to better harmonize controls with U.S. regulations and customer expectations. Demanding such controls from foreign manufacturers helps to drive their use.

Manufacturers E&O Insurance - May 2015

Consider this scenario: A customer asks your company to manufacture a part according to certain specifications, which were outlined in a contract. He needs to add the part to his product and ship it to his customers by a set deadline.

Your company creates the part, but due to an error that occurs during the production process, the part isn't made to the customer's specifications. He receives the part, realizes he can't use it in his final product and requests that the part be remade. The delay in production causes him to miss the deadline to ship the final product to his customers, so he files a lawsuit against your company for the financial loss. Now what?

Exclusions in General Liability Insurance

You might assume that your Commercial General Liability(CGL) policy will cover this claim, but in many cases it will not. Most CGL policies contain "damage to impaired property" and "property not physically injured" exclusions. That means that unless the manufacturing error results in bodily injury or property damage, the CGL policy will not cover the loss.

The customer's financial loss in the scenario described above would not fall into either of these two categories, so it would not be covered under a typical CGL or products liability policy. In order to protect yourbusiness from a product failure resulting in a third party financial loss without bodily injury or property damage, you will need to add Manufacturers Errors& Omissions (E&O) coverage.

Manufacturers E&O Insurance

Manufacturers E&O is professional liability insurance that covers a manufacturing mistake or negligent service that results in athird party financial loss without bodily injury or property damage. E&O insurance covers damages that result from:

  • Poor, incorrect or faulty products that you manufacture,handle, sell or distribute
  • Errors and omissions when caused by material defect,including property damage to the product, property damage to the work andproperty damage to impaired property
  • Negligence or failure to deliver promised services

If customers allege that your product failed or that you were negligent in performing services outlined in a contract, they will likely seek to recoup their financial losses by suing you. You could be saddled with significant legal costs, as well as potential damages if the case is lost. Even if the customer's lawsuit is found to be frivolous, you'd still incur the costof defending yourself. That's where Manufacturers E&O insurance comes in.

Manufacturers E&O insurance will cover both the customer's financial loss and your defense costs. Most E&O policies are "claims-made policies," which means that in order for the claim to be covered, both the work in question must be performed and the claim must be made during the policy period.

E&O premiums vary based on the type of product or service you need coverage for, your company's financial stability and the policy'slimits. Contact CMR Risk & Insurance Services, Inc. at (619) 297-3160 to learn more about adding this important coverage to your risk management portfolio.

Maintaining Safety in a Bilingual Workplace - April 2015

A productive and safe workplace hinges on the quality ofcommunication between management and workers. Language and cultural barriersthat emerge in a bilingual workforce can contribute to miscommunication and on-the-jobaccidents and injuries. Because employees that do not speak English generallyhesitate to ask for help when they do not understand, every employer with abilingual workforce must take steps to bridge cultural gaps and ensure propercommunication.

A Good Beginning

Orientation should be offered in the worker's nativelanguage, if possible. Bilingual trainers in human resources or seniorpositions can serve a dual role, acting as translators at orientation,workplace presentations and safety meetings throughout the year.

Signage They Understand

To promote worker safety, you should post signage andcommunication materials in the language in which your employees arefluent. For Spanish language complianceassistance, OSHA offers a variety of free, health and safety materials at: http://www.osha.gov/dcsp/compliance_assistance/index_hispanic.html

In addition to printed safety materials, provide informationabout wages, medical insurance and employee policies. It is beneficial to firstevaluate employees' level of education, job duties and common injuries, as wellas culture and background, and then adapt your safety programs andcommunications materials accordingly.

The Translation Option

Consider professional translation of your materials. If youhave Spanish speaking employees, ensure the materials are translated into themost prominent dialect, and ask a native speaker to review the material foraccuracy before distributing companywide. The standard translation fee rangesfrom $10 – 20 per page, but is well worth the expense when weighed against therisk of workplace accidents due to poor communication or understanding.

Language Education

To develop and retainskilled workers, you may want to consider offering on-site language classes tohelp your workers build communication skills. Offering learning opportunitiesat the workplace is convenient for the worker and encourages learning throughthe team setting.

Safety Standards

On the safety front, keep in mind that new immigrants maynot understand the importance of following U.S. safety standards. If a machinebreaks on an employee's shift, he or she may worry that his or her job is onthe line and try to fix it or make do. Make sure new employees understand thatbroken machinery in the workplace is taken very seriously to ensure everyone'ssafety. Workers should understand that properly reporting problems is abehavior to be rewarded, and will not cost them a job.

Stay in Touch

Plan to make regular, frequent visits with your bilingualemployees, making sure to touch on safety issues in the workplace, andencouraging them to ask about any doubts or issues they may be encountering onthe job. To create a welcoming environment for all employees, work to develop acompany culture that promotes and supports diversity as a core value of theorganization.

3 Steps to Improve your Workers Compensation Claims History - March 2015

Cost control and injury management are the basic yet mostimportant management programs that can impact workers' compensation loss costs.Focusing efforts on prompt claim reporting, controlling medical costs andhaving a plan to get injured employees back to work as quickly as possible canhave an impact on controlling your workers' compensation claim costs

#1 Report Claims Promptly
The prompt reporting of employee injury claims can be one of the most effectivetools in controlling worker's compensation costs. Delays in claim reporting canlead to delays in appropriate medical treatment, which can impact the cost ofmedical care, recovery time, wage replacement and return-to-work opportunities.For example, the longer a strain injury goes unreported and medical treatmentis delayed, the worse the injury can become resulting in more costly types ofmedical treatments and longer recovery times.

Employers and employees both must understand the followingbenefits of prompt claim reporting:

• Enhances claim adjustors' ability to make prompt contactwith the injured worker and their ability to provide appropriate medicalmanagement
• Decreases the likelihood of fraud by preserving investigative facts that mayaffect compensability
• Facilitates medical case management opportunities that can help to reducemedical and lost time costs
• Provides for the timely delivery of benefits - a key concern to injuredemploy

#2 Utilize network medical providers
According to current NCCI data, medical costs represent 58% of workers'compensation claim costs. Utilizing network providers is a critical step incontrolling your medical costs. Channeling treatment to a MPN providerwill help ensure that injured employees receive quality medical care and thatreturn-to-work (RTW) is addressed by the physician as soon as medicallyappropriate.

#3 Plan for return-to-work with a well engineered process
An important tool for controlling claim costs is an effective return-to-workprocess. Lost time or indemnity cases have the highest percentage of uninsuredindirect costs. Prompt return-to-work by accommodating medically restrictedemployees the same day or day following the physician's release can reduce themedical, indemnity and legal costs associated with workers' compensationclaims, which will in turn impact your company's bottom line.

To measure the success of your return-to-work program, usethis formula and watch your results improve as employees are accommodated:

Total # of claims with employees working modified duty ÷total # of open indemnity claims = % of Your return-to-work (RTW) success

Focusing on these three areas of reporting claims promptly,utilizing network medical providers and planning for return-to-work can have animpact on reducing your workers' compensation overall claim costs and improvingyour bottom line.

Product Recall Insurance Glossary - February 2015

Product contamination and ultimately product recall arebecoming prevalent risks for many industries. Companies involved in thecommerce chain, including processors, distributors and retailers, can beaffected by a product contamination or recall. Whether a first-party or athird-party participant, the effects of a recall can be both lengthy andexpensive.

There is a wide range of Product Contamination and ProductRecall Insurance available. The primary coverages available are:

Accidental Contamination
Covers the inadvertent or unintentional contamination or mislabeling of aninsured product which occurs before, during or after the product's production.

Business Interruption Costs
Gross profit loss and extra expense as a result of an insured event.

Consultation and Advisor Costs
Fees and costs of approved independent security or public relations consultantsor advisors that are used by an insured to respond to an insured event.

Intentionally Impaired Ingredients
Covers the contamination or impairment of an insured product which occurs dueto an ingredient supplied to the insured where such contamination or impairmentwas intentional and wrongful, but not malicious.

Malicious Product Tampering
Covers any alleged, threatened, intentional, malicious and wrongful alterationor contamination by an employee of an insured product.

Product Extortion
The act of extorting money from an insured by threatening to commit MaliciousProduct Tampering on an insured product.

Product Recall
Request to return to the maker a batch, or an entire production run of aproduct, usually due to the discovery of safety issues that present asignificant risk to consumers, either because the product may be defective orviolates a mandatory standard

Product Refusal
Protects against the refusal of an insured product during a scheduled deliverybecause of a report to the public of it to cause bodily injury and because ofbodily injury that has been caused by a similar product.

Recall Expenses
Reasonable and necessary costs incurred by the insured to inspect, withdraw,destroy or replace any recalled insured product.

Rehablilitation Expenses
Expenses incurred directly by an insured in order to re-establish an insuredproduct to the reasonably projected level of sales or market share anticipatedprior to an insured event.

Third Party Recall
Covers any product recall liability of an insured product when consumption oruse of the product will result or has resulted in bodily injury or propertydamage within 365 days

As you can see there are many different components toproducts recall insurance therefore it is extremely important to consult withan advisor that can craft an insurance program to meet your unique exposuresand needs.

Prepare to Respond to Employee Accidents - December 2014

Recruiting and retaining quality staff to assure superiorcustomer service is one of the major challenges facing managers. Every time anemployee suffers an on-the-job injury and misses even a little time from work,there's a potential for your customer service to suffer. Knowing how to preparefor, and respond to, an employee accident will help keep your staff on the joband providing the quality customer experience you want to deliver. Thefollowing steps outline actions to take before an accident occurs and how toeffectively respond when an employee is injured.

Advance Preparation: What to Put In Place Now

Designate a medical provider experienced in workers'compensation injuries. Should you need assistance with this, contact Fireman'sFund at 1-888-FIREHAT and a representative will provide you with a list ofNetwork Providers in your area.

Form a safety committee and host monthly safety meetings.Meetings should be documented with topics discussed and employees inattendance. A regular safety program will improve your controls over exposuresthat threaten employee and guest safety.

Prepare a Return-to-Work program. Conduct job task analysisfor the various service positions and create written job descriptions based onthe results. These documents may be provided to the treating physician toassist in developing modified-duty tasks for the injured worker. Document yourcompany's Return-to-Work Policy and, if possible, establish a Return-to-WorkCoordinator.

Review your state's laws on reporting employee accidents to OSHAregulators. Each state has specific guidelines on reporting serious injuries ordeath to OSHA within a given time period. Failure to report such injurieswithin designated time periods could result in an OSHA citation. Additionally,post a workers' compensation information poster where all of your employees canview it as required by law.

Response: My Employee Has Been Injured, What Do I Do?

Step 1 — First Aid, Medical Treatment: The most importantthing at this moment is to attend to the needs of your injured employee.

Call 911 immediately if your employee is in need ofemergency assistance.

For non-emergency situations, refer or transport the injuredemployee to the designated network medical provider you have previouslyselected. When possible, have a supervising manager take your injured employeeto the physician to ensure the employee receives prompt medical attention andis cared for.

What to Do After the Incident

Step 2 — Report the Accident to your Workers CompensationInsurance Carrier: Prompt reporting is the key to managing the costs of theaccident. Statistics show that waiting just one day can drive the overall costof the claim up 30 percent and increase the chance of litigation by 50 percent.

Notify your insurance agent of the situation. Your agent isa valuable asset in getting you through this situation.

Follow your state's guidelines on reporting serious injuryor death to OSHA.

Step 3 — Begin the Accident Investigation: It is vital toacquire all information that affected this incident to prevent such events inthe future. Keep in mind that the goal of this investigation is not to placefault ,rather, to determine the cause(s) and take steps to mitigate the chancesof a reoccurrence.

Immediately after the employee has been cared for, collectany information related to who, what, when, where, why, and how the accidentoccurred.

Complete an Accident Investigation Form. Also conductinterviews of witnesses, take photos, review security camera footage andcollect written statements. Special care should be given to customers whowitnessed the event. Often witnessing an accident can be traumatic.

After the cause of the accident has been determined,generate corrective actions to be taken to prevent such events in the future.Place deadlines on these corrective actions and be sure that they are carriedout to completion.

Communication: Stay In Touch

Follow up on Employee, Medical Status and Claim Status:Communication is the key to effectively managing and concluding this claim.

Make contact with the injured employee. Care and compassionare helpful in the healing process.

Discussion with medical provider, employee and employershould occur to develop a plan upon the employee's recovery for modified dutyrestrictions and Return-to-Work progress.

It is important that the suggestions made in this articleare communicated throughout your organization to ensure all employees involvedare aware of the proper procedures for both preparing for, and responding to an employee injury.

Protect Your Intellectual Property - November 2014

Some of the most important assets in your business may beyour intellectual property. These are intangible assets, including patents,trademarks and trade secrets. The U.S. government created these protections tokeep your intellectual property against infringement.

Patents

What is a patent?

A patent is the legal protection granted by the federalgovernment to an inventor to encourage progress and prevent others frombenefiting from the invention.

What does patent protection provide?

Patent protection involves the right to exclude others frommaking, using or selling anything that would fall under the claims of theissued patent. The duration of the patent protection depends on the type ofpatent.

What factors are considered when determining whether apatent has been infringed?

Determining whether a patent has been infringed entails thecourt examining the claims of the patent and comparing them to the accuseddevice or process. This may be more complex in situations where the claimsterms are unclear or ambiguous. The court can determine that infringementexists even if the accused device or process isn't identical to the original.If the device performs substantially the same function in largely the same wayto produce substantially identical results, it is likely that a court wouldfind infringement.

What are my rights if someone infringes my patent?

You may file suit in a federal district court to enforceyour patent against an infringer. If you are successful, there are manypossible outcomes. Courts look to compensate the patent holder with damages forlost profits and/or punitive damages for willful infringement.

Trademarks

What is a trademark?

A trademark serves to identify a single source for goods orservices, membership in an organization or approval from a quality assuranceprogram. It can be a product name, a brand, a slogan, a color and even a scent.Federal law allows for the protection of trademarks.

What does trademark protection provide?

The scope of the protection can vary widely depending on thestrength and fame of a mark. For instance, many brand names are famous marksthat are very strong. The length of time that a mark can be protected isindefinite because it is based upon use, but federal registrations have aninitial term of 10 years. A mark may be renewed in successive 10-yearincrements as long as the mark is still in use.

What factors are considered when determining whether atrademark has been infringed?

Whether a trademark has been infringed is most oftendependent upon whether a likelihood of confusion has been found. In determiningwhether there is a likelihood of confusion, courts generally look at factorslike the defendant's intent, similarity in marketing channels, the overallimpression of the two marks in question and the similarity of goods or servicesassociated with the marks.

What are my rights if someone infringes my federallyregistered trademark?

You have the right to bring an infringement action in afederal district court. After a finding of infringement, the court determinesthe appropriate remedies for the trademark holder. These can include aninjunction to stop the infringing or diluting use, damages to cover defendant'sprofits or losses sustained by plaintiff and punitive damages in cases of badfaith.

Are there applicable state or common laws?

There are state registries for trademarks, with rights andregistration varying by state. Consult an attorney licensed in your state forspecific state requirements and benefits.

Trade Secrets

What is a trade secret?

A trade secret is any proprietary information that serves asadvantage over competitors and is kept secret. It is broadly defined and canrange from a manufacturing process to software coding.

What factors are considered when determining whether a tradesecret has been infringed?

The owner of the trade secret must prove that the allegedconfidential information provided a competitive advantage, the information wasmaintained in secrecy and the information was improperly acquired or disclosedby the defendant.

What are my rights if someone infringes my tradesecret?

A lawsuit may be brought under federal or state lawdepending upon the circumstances. Under the Economic Espionage Act, individualscan be fined up to $500,000, and corporations can be fined up to $5,000,000plus possible jail time for trade secret infringement. Several states have alsoenacted laws making it a crime to infringe upon or steal a trade secret.

Are there applicable state or common laws?

Many states also have their own trade secret legislationwhich should be considered when developing your policy.

Protect Your Business

Patents, trademarks and trade secrets may be integral partsof your business. It is vital that you understand the laws associated withthese concepts to protect your intellectual property. You also need to ensurethat your behavior does not infringe on someone else's intellectual property.This piece is not exhaustive and should be read as an overview. For moreinformation, consult legal counsel

Confronting Repetitive Motion Injuries - October 2014

Repetitive motion injuries aren’t limited to fingers, hands and arms – they often involve the upper back, neck, shoulders and elbows, too. When there is a repetitive motion injury, the pain may be isolated to one spot or it may migrate from place to place. It might be a burning pain, a sharp stabbing pain or a dull ache that doesn’t go away.  

The Basics of Repetitive Motion Injuries

If you bend a piece of wire back and forth, eventually it will break. Why? Metal fatigue causes the wire to wear down until it breaks. Our bodies are no different – when fatigued for extended periods of time, they eventually begin to break down, causing pain and sometimes ultimately lost time at work. If you are experiencing aches and pains, your body may be telling you something. Since repetitive motion injuries are invisible, small injuries can go unnoticed until a more serious soft-tissue injury occurs.

Reducing or Eliminating Repetitive Motion Injuries

To reduce or eliminate repetitive injuries, we have to take steps to prevent them in the first place. This starts with reducing the number of repetitive motion activities at work. Then, when they do occur, we must remember to give muscle groups a chance to rest. Does this mean taking more breaks? Not necessarily. It means that if you are doing one type of motion (say, wrist twisting when using a screwdriver) for a long period of time, switch to another job that doesn’t use that same muscle group. To find a task that uses different muscle groups, you might rotate with a co-worker.

Another thing that reduces or eliminates repetitive motion injuries is maintaining good posture when sitting or standing. Poor body posture forces muscles, tendons and nerves into awkward positions and amplifies strains. Moreover, work at a comfortable speed. Even when your work is driven by machine functions or line processes, you can pace yourself so the muscles you’re using have a chance to rest.

Maintaining Flexibility

One of the biggest factors in reducing or eliminating repetitive motion injuries is maintaining flexibility. A contributing factor to strains is moving muscles in ways they aren’t ready to move or using muscle groups that haven’t been warmed up for work. For this reason, before we start work, we need to warm our muscles up. There is real value in practicing some basic stretching exercises for our hands, wrists, back and neck to prepare our bodies for work. Hands and wrists should be stretched so they are ready to move in typical ways required at work. Your neck can be stretched gently from side to side and then from front to back, and your back can be stretched while sitting in a chair and bending so your chin comes close to your knees.

Lifting Techniques

How we lift and use our backs can determine whether we’ll someday experience pain or back problems. Improper lifting causes problems and unnecessary pain.

First, when lifting, size up the load, and if it is too awkward, too big or too heavy, get some help. Many times, people lift items that are too big for them and cause themselves undue pain. This isn’t about proving your strength – it’s about being smart.

Second, always lift with your legs and never with your back. Your legs are your strongest muscles and are designed to lift heavier objects. Never bend at your waist when you are lifting heavier objects because you could potentially end up with low back pain or musculoskeletal disorders.

Finally, when lifting, avoid lifting and twisting in the same motion. Your first goal is to get what you are lifting to the right level. Once your legs are straight, move your legs to turn instead of twisting your back.

Simple Steps to Avoid Muscle Stress

Taking breaks at regular intervals gives you a chance to rest and stretch your muscles. If you are sitting, stand up and stretch. If you have been typing for a while, stop and stretch your hands and wrists. If you have been standing for long periods of time, sit down and stretch your back out again. If you can alter the work you do and use different muscle groups, change work after a period of time to give a muscle group a rest while using some others. Sometimes a little common sense can go a very long way in reducing pain.

Final Thoughts

If you have work station design issues that need reviewing, remember to bring this information to your supervisor’s attention so action can be taken.  is very interested in making sure that everyone is able to work without pain. If you have any questions regarding your work area, please let us know.

Manufactures & Social Media - September 2014

Why Facebook is an essential channel, even for b2b manufacturers.

While the rest of the world has gone social media crazy - more than 800 million Facebook users, around 100 million Twitter users and a wide variety of businesses embracing social media as a marketing and communications channel - manufacturers have on the whole, been slower on the uptake.

Perhaps manufacturers struggle to see how social media fits into a broader b2b marketing programme or are concerned that they would not have anything of relevance/interest to share with followers. But that is absolutely not the case and perceptions are starting to change as manufacturers embrace social media.

Reaping the benefits

According to a Forrester report on b2b marketing budgets released in 2011, 30 percent of global manufacturers planned to increase social media investments in 2012 and I suspect much of that will be with Facebook. Due to the sheer size and depth of the data it generates, Facebook is emerging as a more important business tool than Twitter, or Google+. Facebook is where people go to engage with others and where companies should be going to engage with those people.

The truth is that a manufacturing company can reap the benefits of social media just as any other company does. Holding conversations with your audience about trends and hot topics within the industry can help establish a relationship beyond order numbers and delivery schedules. This brings an audience and the manufacturer closer allowing the supplier to better understand its customers enabling them to request high quality feedback on products, customer service and more.

Using Facebook

Facebook has an enormous reach and even bigger potential for reaching new audiences and understanding customers' likes and preferences. Businesses must embrace Facebook as it offers an unprecedented marketing opportunity, but what is the best way for manufacturers to go about this?

The first task for any manufacturer to undertake is to establish a Facebook Page. Once Facebook users 'like' a Page, they immediately begin receiving that company's postings on their personal newsfeeds. This provides a unique and free channel for the company to reach its audience with its messages.

But this is only a start. Messages delivered from a Facebook Page are static, with limited opportunity for interaction. They are also broadcast to a mass audience, preventing those messages from being personalised to an individual's owns tastes or behaviour.

In addition, Facebook Pages provide companies with only high-level statistics on the followers who 'like' their Page. This alone does not give sufficient insight to allow a company to take action and maximise the marketing opportunities.

The same is true of advertising on Facebook. Many companies advertise on Facebook and while Facebook advertising can bring messages and offers to a very broad population of users, these advertisements are not personalised, nor do they contain interactivity and compelling content. This limits the potential reach and success of a company's marketing efforts - fans do not necessarily want to see ads; they want valuable and personalised content.

Connecting Facebook with IT and marketing

Speaking at the MicroStrategy Social Media Marketing and iCommerce Summit in 2011, Facebook's Tim Campos urged businesses to make closer ties between IT and marketing departments to forge social CRM strategies, saying that users are fully confident when using the social network and see it as a trusted eco-system.

The most effective way to utilise this and achieve personalised, highly-targeted messaging and interactivity with users is through a Facebook application, or app. Facebook's social graph, which represents the millions of connections made by users every day can be leveraged within these applications. This can ensure a manufacturer broadcasts messages to its audience in such a way as to drive interest and promote on-going interactions between that fan and the company.

Facebook provides a set of open application programming interfaces (APIs) – the core API is called Graph API – that allows third parties to develop Facebook applications. These APIs provide rich functionality for reading data from Facebook's social graph and for writing 'interactivity' back to the social graph, such as Facebook Likes, Comments, and Shares.

Few businesses have created truly valuable apps because the Facebook APIs and underlying data structures don't lend themselves to one-to-one marketing, campaign management and execution, cross-sell recommendation engines or customer care.

Creating an app that can truly harness Facebook's social graph data requires additional technology and data structures that fall outside of Facebook's social graph database and the Graph API.

So every business, including manufacturers of all sizes and vertical industries should be developing Facebook apps. They are a critically important aspect of the next wave of marketing, which integrates social intelligence into both enterprise and consumer apps. These apps not only enable an organisation to leverage the rich and continuously refreshed data contained in Facebook, they empower them to build apps that foster customer and brand loyalty and provide better service to consumers and help ensure that organisation makes the very best of the valuable data it harnesses from Facebook.

Written by Paul Devlin, UK Manager, MicroStrategy ; provided by Manufacturing Digital: www.manufacturingdigital.com

Importance of Timely Claim Reporting and Immediate Offer of Medical Care - August 2014

For many of us, our typical week is focused around various routines that have become second nature to us. We wake up in the morning, get ready for our day, travel to work, perform our job, earn a paycheck, pay our bills, and spend time with family and friends. But what would happen if that routine took an unexpected turn for the worse? What if we could no longer perform our job, the paychecks stopped, and we didn't know how we would pay the next round of bills? And imagine if it was a work injury that created this change in our usual routine? Not only are we worried about our livelihood, but we're also suffering from some form of physical pain and discomfort as well.

 As you can see, a work related injury can greatly disrupt a person's life. On top of this, there is the chance for significant confusion and anxiety if they aren't sure how the claims process works, who will medically care for them and how they're compensated if losing time from work. Without a doubt, this uncertainty may lead to frustration and the decision to seek representation from an attorney.

 This is why the timely reporting of claims is such a crucial element of the claims process, and it's imperative that the injured worker's employer reports the loss to the insurer as soon as possible. Timely reporting provides numerous benefits to the employer, such as:

  • Alleviates injured workers' concerns and anxiety - Prompt notification allows us to quickly contact the injured worker and advise them of their medical and disability benefits. This also allows us to immediately start building a rapport with the injured worker so we can more effectively aid in the recovery process, get them back to work sooner and help your business get back to operating normally. Additionally, it can help reduce attorney involvement which will significantly lower the overall costs of the claim to both the employer and insurer. 
  • Ensures proper medical treatment is provided - Quick reporting helps us get the injured worker to a designated network medical provider for the most appropriate and cost effective treatment, which reduces time away from work for the injured worker and reduces costs for the employer.
  • Allows for coordination of an early return to work for the employee - We can often get workers back on the job much sooner than full recovery would indicate by modifying the worker's job or providing alternate duties within his or her medical restrictions. This eliminates or reduces cost wage replacement benefits and boosts the injured worker's morale by keeping them engaged.
  • Limits exposure to treatment costs - All reported workers' compensation claims are exposed to up to $10,000 in medical treatment costs until a compensability decision is made. Early identification and investigation of questionable claims can limit this exposure for non-covered injuries.
  • Assists with early evidence gathering - Fraud prevention includes investigation and this could mean taking statements. The sooner we obtain witness statements and protect evidence, the easier and faster we can identify potential fraudulent claims.
  • Identification of potential monetary recovery actions - If the investigation reveals a third party (defective product, service provider, vehicle operator) is at fault for the accident, we may recover benefits paid out on the resulting workers' compensation claim. Prompt reporting helps us identify this potential before evidence is destroyed or witnesses vanish.
  • Helps avoid penalties - Penalties are applied when benefits are paid late as a result of late reporting. Employers can avoid these by reporting injuries in a timely manner.

You should also be aware that the California Labor Code addresses these issues, which is why timing is so important. Consider the following:

  • Labor Code 5401 states that the employer shall provide a claim form within one working day of receiving notice of injury where medical treatment is beyond first aid or if the injury results in lost time beyond their work shift on the date of injury.
  • Labor Code 5402(c) states that within one day of filing a claim, the employer must provide and authorize medical treatment. Even if you're disputing the injury, medical care must be provided during the investigation period.
  • Labor Code 4650 states that if an injury causes temporary disability, the first payment of benefits must issue within 14 days of knowledge of the injury and disability or else a 10% self-imposed penalty shall be applied.

Rapid claim reporting helps insurers gather time-sensitive investigative information crucial to proper claim acceptance and benefit delivery, which can help employers control the cost of their workers' compensation claims. It also shows the injured worker that their employer is concerned for their well-being. A relationship built on trust and respect between the employee and their employer is often the foundation of a successful claim.

 Information courtesy of Comp West 

Are Visitors a Security Risk? - July 2014

Security plans for visitors, vendors and contractors are no longer exclusive to the high tech firms, governmental offices and airports. Any business with industry trade secrets, items of value (stock, equipment and even employee's personal items), child or patient care, dangerous equipment or sensitive transactions could be a target of the unscrupulous.

Businesses with no formal security plan risk loss of property, valuable trade secrets, expensive third-party personal injury and a tarnished company image.

To reduce the risk of such a loss, identify all possible security situations from outside visitors. The degree of exposure and risks for the company will determine the extent of security controls.

Things to consider in the deployment of a Security Plan for Visitors:

  • Define who is considered an "invitee" to the premises.
  • Determine definitions for "authorized visitor," "vendor" and "contractor."
  • Identify company's security objectives.
  • Establish procedures to be followed in the event of a security breach.
  • Train all employees and identify roles and responsibilities for designated staff.
  • Provide "visitor badges" coded for Day Pass, Short-Term, Temporary, etc.
  • Establish a "sign-in" procedure and consider a visitor "sign-in statement" that includes a waiver of liability, trade secret policy, and/or rules of conduct while on the premises.
  • Identify restricted areas within the facilities and implement appropriate visitor controls.

 

Forklift Recharging/Refueling Tips - June 2014

The recharging of forklift batteries and refueling operations can create potential hazards to employees, the facility, and to the equipment. By taking some basic precautions, you can protect your employees from injury and your property from damage.

Recharging Electric Lift Trucks

  • Turn off the motor and any lights that might be on the lift truck.
  • Do not allow smoking while recharging and make sure there are no nearby open flames.
  • Recharge in a well-ventilated area, as batteries give off hydrogen gas.
  • Be careful not spill any battery acid (electrolyte). If this happens, use an absorbent cleanup material keeping skin away from the acid.
  • Because of the danger of electrical arcing, which will ignite flammable hydrogen gas, keep tools and other metal objects (including rings and watches) away from the top of uncovered batteries.
  • Be sure to keep the compartment lid open, as batteries produce heat when they are recharging.
  • Wear all safety equipment, including face shields, protective gloves, rubber aprons.

Refueling Liquid Propane (LP) Lift Trucks - Tank Replacement Guide

  • Before replacing an LP gas tank, close the shut-off valve and let the engine run until it stalls.
  • Turn off the engine and any lights that are on the lift truck.
  • Check for leaks and damage to hoses and connections.
  • WARNING: Since LP gas is heavier than air, make sure there is plenty of ventilation before changing LP tanks.
  • Always disconnect the fuel hose line before disconnecting the tank-holding strap.
  • Do not smoke. Make sure there are no open flames near the lift truck.
  • Wear all safety equipment, including face shields, protective gloves and rubber aprons.

Hot Tips

  • Only trained and authorized operators should refuel/recharge lift trucks.
  • Let someone know you are going to the recharging/refueling station.
  • Have an emergency eyewash station at the battery recharging station.
  • Keep the refueling/recharging station clean.
  • Make sure that spill cleanup kits are available at the station.

 

Protecting Customer Data-Why The Big Fuss For Employers? - May 2014

A customer sues a cell phone provider after an employee of the organization posted intimate photographs of the customer that were taken off of the phone she traded in to the organization.

The woman claims the employee assured her the phone she traded in would be wiped clean. She says she forgot the photos were on the phone. The employee used an application on her phone to post the photographs without her permission.

A representative for the organization stated it is concerned about customer privacy and plans to investigate the allegations. Martha Neil "Sprint worker uploaded intimate photos from my trade-in phone to my Facebook page, woman's suit says," abajournal.com (Mar. 3, 2014).

Commentary and Checklists

Any employer with possession of devices that store personal data or that has access to the personal data of its consumers must educate all employees on the importance of keeping this data safe and private. Incorporate customer privacy issues in your employee ethics training.

Here are some tips for a customer privacy protection policy:

  • Create a written privacy protection policy that details the procedures employees must follow when handling any devices that could contain private customer information.
  • Distribute the policy to all employees during training on customer privacy. Have employees sign that they have received and will follow the policy.
  • Include in the policy procedures for obtaining written permission from the former owner of the device to destroy all data on mobile devices, computers, photocopiers, or any other data-storing devices customers return that could contain sensitive information and for destruction methods.
  • Require employees to double-check that all data has been completely erased before donating, reusing, or reselling the device.
  • State in the policy that there will be consequences, including possible termination and legal action, for employees who steal, misappropriate, or otherwise misuse personal information of customers, clients, coworkers.

Artilce/Information courtesy of Travelers Insurance

Tip: Improve Cash Flow - April 2014

Chances are your General Liability, Workers Compensation and Transit Insurance Policies are subject to Final Audit.  To avoid a large final audit additional or return premium, review your year to date exposure estimates at six months and compare this figure to your annual estimates you provided to the insurance carrier.  Contact your broker if the variance is 25% or greater and make the adjustment now!

Voltage Testing - March 2014

Anyone performing electrical measurements must understand safety requirements and be certain their tools meet code.  Persons testing voltage on energized equipment or for verification on locked out equipment can be injured if tests instruments are no appropriately applied or the wrong instrument is used for the job.  The following are bullet point items to take into consideration if enduring your safety and the safety of your employees:

  • The training needs to include information that enables the employee to understand all limitations of each specific voltage detector that may be used.
  • The International Electro-technical Commission (IEC) Standard 61010 describes performance specifications for test equipment.
  • The higher the category, the higher the power available in that environment, and the higher the test tool's ability needs to be to withstand transient energy.
  • Four Measurement Categories ("CAT" Ratings) are assigned to test instruments which correspond to use applications.

General Rules for Test Equipment:

  • The closer you get to a power source, the higher the CAT number requirement
  • The greater the short circuit current available, the greater the CAT number required
  • The greater the source impedance, the lower the CAT number (a 2 W source has a higher CAT number than a 30 W source)
  • Set a multimeter to the highest CAT number for which the device is to be used.

Overview of the Categories , the type of measurements and examples:

Category I - 1.  Voltage levels are low; 2. Protected electronic equipment such as a photocopier or computer; 3. Equipment connected to circuits in which measures are taken to limit over-voltages to appropriately low level.
Example: COMPUTERS

Category II - 1. Single phase receptacle connected loads; 2. Appliances, portable tools, and other household or similar loads; 3. Outlet/branch circuits.
Example: OUTLETS

Category III - 1. 3-Phase Distribution; 2. Single-Phase commercial lighting; 3. Fixed location equipment such as distribution panels and motors.
Example: COMMERCIAL LIGHTING

Category IV - 1. 3-Phase at utility connection; 2. Any outdoor location; 3. Origin of installation where low voltage connection is made to utility power.
Example: ELECTRICAL PANEL

Other safety requirements when using test instruments:

  • Follow a sound Lockout Procedure and ensure staff are utilizing proper Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) in accordance with a Hazard Assessment; including voltage rated gloves and arc flash equipment
  • Make sure you apply test leads properly (black to positive, red to negative)
  • Inspect all test meters to ensure they are in good condition before use
  • Know your test equipment. Know the controls for measurement including settings to use for measure voltage, amperage, and resistance.

 

Stretching, it Could Avoid a Serious Injury! - February 2014

Why Stretch? 

Stretching is useful for both injury prevention and injury treatment.  If done properly, stretching increases flexibility, which directly translates into reduced risk of injury. A muscle/tendon group with a greater range of motion will be less likely to experience tears when used actively.

  1. Stretching will also improve recovery.
  2. Stretching also improves your balance, coordination, and circulation.
  3. Stretching increases blood flow to your muscles. Improved circulation can speed recovery after muscle injuries.
  4. Flexible muscles can improve your daily performance in tasks such as lifting and bending.
  5. Stretching promotes better posture. Frequent stretching keeps your muscles from getting tight, allowing you to maintain proper posture and minimize aches and pains.
  6. Stretching can relieve stress. Stretching relaxes the tense muscles that often accompany stress.
  7. Stretching before work tasks focuses people to working safely.

Stretching should be a key part to your exercies and pre-work routine.  Stretching before your work or physical activity will prepare your body.  Stretching after your work promotes better range of motion of your joints.

When you're stretching:

  • Follow the instructions of your medical care provider!
  • Stay within your comfort range! Expect to feel some tension while you're stretching. If you feel pain, you've gone too far.
  • Move slowly and support your body.
  • Hold each stretch for 10-15 seconds.
  • Breathe freely as you hold each stretch; try not to hold your breath

Stretching Essentials:

  • Target major muscle groups. When you're stretching, focus on your calves, thighs, hips, lower back, neck and shoulders. Also stretch muscles and joints that you routinely use at work or play. 
  • Warm up first. Stretching muscles when they're cold increases your risk of injury, including pulled muscles. Warm up by walking while gently pumping your arms, or do a favorite exercise at low intensity for five minutes. Better yet, stretch after you exercise - when your muscles are warm and more receptive to stretching.
  • Know how often to stretch. As a general rule, stretch before and after a manual task or exercise. If you don't exercise regularly, you might want to stretch at least three times a week to maintain flexibility. If you have a problem area, such as tightness in the back of your leg, you might want to stretch every day or even twice a day.
  • Know when to exercise caution. If you have a chronic condition or an injury, you may need to alter your approach to stretching. For example, if you have a strained muscle, stretching it like usual may cause further harm. Discuss the best way to stretch with your medical provider.

 

Winter Driving Safety Tips - January 2014

Falling snow can be picturesque, but it can also wreak havoc on the roads. While no one enjoys driving in snowy or slippery conditions, there are steps you can take to help improve your safety.  Here are some guidelines that can help you stay safe when driving in adverse winter conditions:

  • Make sure your car is prepared for cold temperatures and wintery conditions like snow and ice. Keep your equipment properly maintained and include awinter survival kit in your vehicle: an ice scraper, snow shovel and sand/salt. Jumper cables are also a good idea since batteries are prone to failure during cold weather.
  • Clear snow and ice off your car - including windows, mirrors, lights, reflectors, hood, roof and trunk.
  • Drive with your headlights on, and be sure to keep them clean to improve visibility.
  • Use caution when snow banks limit your view ofoncoming traffic.
  • Avoid using cruise control in snowy or icy conditions. In adverse conditions, you want as much control of your car as possible.
  • Know how to brake on slippery surfaces. Vehicles with anti-lock brakes operate much differently from those that do not have anti-lock brakes. You should consult your vehicle's owner's manual for instructions on how to brake properly if your vehicle should start to skid.
  • Maintain at least a half tank of gas during the winter season. This helps ensure you have a source of heat if you are stuck or stranded.
  • If you do venture out or are unexpectedly caught in a snowstorm and encounter problems, stay in your car and wait for help. Make sure your exhaust pipe is clear of snow. There is a danger of carbon monoxide poisoning if snow blocks the pipe and enables the deadly gas to build up in your car. Open your window slightly to help prevent the buildup.
  • Keep your windshield washer reservoir full, and make sure your car has wiper blades that are in good condition.
  • Remember that speed limits are meant for dry roads, not roads covered in snow and ice. You should reduce your speed and increase your following distance as road conditions and visibility worsen.
  • Be cautious on bridges and overpasses as they are commonly the first areas to become icy.
  • Avoid passing snow plows and sand trucks. The drivers can have limited visibility, and the road in front of them could be worse than the road behind.
  • Monitor road and weather conditions by checking local news stations or Internet traffic and weather sites.

If you must travel during a snowstorm or in blizzard conditions, be sure to let a relative, friend or coworker know where you are headed and your expected arrival time. Avoid the temptation to check or be on your phone while driving as all of your attention should be on arriving safely.   

Article provided courtesy of Travelers

Why have a Business Continuity Plan - December 2013

A business continuity plan is one of the best investments your company can make. From Hurricane Sandy and 9/11 to the tornadoes in Oklahoma - companies that proactively consider how to respond to events are the first to get back to business, often at the expense of competitors.

A predefined business continuity plan, combined with the proper insurance coverage, maximizes the chance of a successful recovery by eliminating hasty decision-making under stressful conditions. It details how to get businesses back on track after a disruption - in the most thoughtful way possible.

Think your business can withstand a disaster? Think again.
Twenty-five percent of businesses do not reopen following a major event.1 It does not take a major catastrophe to shut down a business. In fact, seemingly minor disruptions compared to widespread natural disasters can often cause significant damage - power failures, broken water pipes, or loss of computer data.

A Travelers study found that 48 percent of small businesses are operating without any type of business continuity plan...Yet 95 percent indicated they felt they were prepared.

  • Is your business continuity plan predominately an insurance policy?
  • Is it predominately an emergency response or evacuation plan?
  • Is it predominately an IT or data recovery plan?
  • Is it something you developed that sits in a binder on a shelf?

If you answered "Yes" to any of these questions, then your business continuity plan may be giving you a false sense of security. Natural disasters are more common - and costly - than you may realize. In 2012, nine of the top 10 most expensive world-wide natural disasters happened in the United States. With $77 billion in insured losses worldwide, 2012 was the third costliest year on record. The first was 2011, when $126 billion in insured losses were reported.2

Business continuity planning for a competitive advantage.
An alarming 48% of business owners surveyed by Travelers in 2012 said they have no plan in place. That means business continuity planning is more than smart business -it helps your company remain better positioned to recover from the business interruption, property damage, financial impact, and loss of life that a natural disaster or man-made event may cause.

The time for business continuity planning is now.  Planning for a disruption or catastrophic event should happen when business is going well, not when disaster strikes. Having a pre-defined, well-documented business continuity plan that clearly communicates how your business will respond during an event can help mitigate risk - and is one of the best investments your company can make.

1Source: Insurance Institute of Business & Home Safety; http://www.disastersafety.org/

2Source: Insurance Journal; http://www.insurancejournal.com/news/national/2013/03/27/286235.htm 

Information courtesy of Travelers

Background Checks - Are they worth it? - November 2013

The old, standard methods of screening job applicants included reference checks, previous employer checks and possibly pre-employment physicals and motor vehicle record checks.

Do these methods of screening job applicants still work effectively in today's society? Very possibly not. There needs to be more attention to detail. Much more.

Background Checks
To obtain a thorough background check on job applicants the following information should be obtained:

  • Multiple forms of identification should be verified.
  • References should be checked.
  • Previous employers should be contacted.
  • Preemployment physicals with drug screens are highly recommended.
  • DMV motor vehicle records should be obtained and evaluatedfor potential drivers.
  • Credit reports should be obtained (with authorization).
  • A national criminal background check should be obtained.

Purpose of Criminal Background Checks
Unfortunately, job applications contain only the information that the applicant wants to share with the hiring company. The references listed are normally those people who are likely to give the applicant a glowing review. Previous employers may choose to provide limited information affirming dates of employment. Additionally:

  • Many job applications contain false information.
  • Each year American businesses lose billions of dollars to fraud, embezzlement and employee theft.
  • American businesses are frequently held liable for employee misconduct including attacks on customers, rape or child abuse or neglect.
  • Many states now have negligent hiring and retention laws holding employers responsible for willful misconduct of their employees.
  • Failure to obtain criminal background checks on prospective employees can end up costing your company millions of dollars and public embarrassment. 

National Versus State or Local Criminal Background Checks
The U.S. work force is more mobile today than in previous years. Most people move several times during their life. People with histories of criminal behavior may be more likely to move around than law-abiding citizens. Workers with prior convictions of sexual offenses, child abuse or fraud are certainly more likely to move and change identities than those with clean histories. This is because state background checks often give the criminal histories for only those crimes committed within the state's borders. The national check will investigate a nationwide history for the applicant. The nationwide search is especially important for those employers located close to borders with other states.

How to Obtain a National Criminal Background Check
There are many third party service providers that can handle all of the above mentioned background check services, including: Aurico Reports, Inc. www.aurico.com and Hire Safe www.hiresafe.com.

Note: Business searches for employment screening, tenant screening, or credit information fall under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). Before conducting any background checks, all federal, state, and local laws regarding protection of employee rights and information should be checked. The applicant should be notified in writing concerning the types of background checks being obtained and necessary authorization by the applicant should be received before proceeding.

 

Hiring Seasonal Workers? - October 2013

If you're planning on employing seasonal help this winter, you've probably already started your hiring process. As requests for internships and entry-level positions pour in, employers - especially those in growth-mode - are forced to make quick hiring decisions. Keep in mind that when insufficient time and resources are committed to ensuring employees are a good fit for their new position and the company, the chance of workplace injuries could increase.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that workers with only one year of experience represent 34% of lost-time claims and costs. Therefore, it's critical for companies to review their pre-screening and hiring processes. Below are helpful hints when it comes to summer hiring.

  • Write effective job descriptions with accurate and up-to-date information that will attract qualified job seekers.
  • Be sure to hire right the first time by asking open-ended, probing (but appropriate) interview questions.
  • Give preference to candidates who are likely to return for another season.
  • Consider employee referrals above other candidates.
  • Utilize social media channels, such as Facebook, when recruiting for seasonal work.
  • If you're hiring a large quantity of seasonal workers, consider using a talent-management system, which will help you manage the flow and assess the skills of your candidates.
  • Consider retirees - they make excellent full- and part-time candidates for seasonal work. Be sure to assess their capabilities if driving, strenuous lifting or heat exposure are part of the job criteria.
  • Check references before making any hires. If an applicant refuses to provide a former employer as a reference, you may want to discard their application.

Once the Hiring is Completed; After you've hired your seasonal workers and they are ready to get started, be sure to provide a thorough safety awareness orientation to ensure they stay safe and healthy on the job. Training should include:

  • Explanation of safety and health rules for each position.
  • Details on specific work hazards, such as working from heights or using specific machinery, and the personal protective equipment that should be used for each job.
  • Instructions on what workers should do if someone is injured or sick and needs help, and who to contact to report an accident or illness.
  • Reminders of where first aid kits, fire extinguishers, and other safety and health information is located at your site.

Hiring Teens?  According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, more than 110,000 young workers were injured in 2010 and 328 of these fatally. If you are planning to hire teenage help, make sure you know the laws and guidelines to help keep your teens and your business safe.

Teen Restrictions; Remember, in California, no worker under the age of 18 may:

  • Drive a motor vehicle on the job, or work as an outside helper on a motor vehicle.
  • Operate power-driven machinery: Meat slicers or bakery machines, Box crushers/compacters, Woodworking machines or metalworking machines, Punches, hoists or forklifts, Circular saws, band saws or guillotine shears
  • Handle, serve or sell alcoholic beverages
  • Be exposed to radioactive substances or ionizing radiation
  • Work in:
    • Wrecking or demolition
    • Excavation
    • Logging or sawmills
    • Roofing
    • Manufacturing brick or tile
    • Manufacturing or storage of explosives
    • Mining
    • Meat packing or processing
    • Mix, load or apply Category I pesticides

Be sure to familiarize yourself with other restrictions that apply to workers under 16 years of age, as well as work hour regulations for various age groups.

Information Courtesy of Comp West Insurance Company

 

OSHA's Revised Hazard Communication Program - September 2013

OSHA has enhanced its Hazard Communication Standard (HCS) 29 CFR 1910.1200 to align with the United Nations' Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals(GHS).  GHS is primarily concerned with the classification of hazardous chemicals and the communication of hazards related to those chemicals to users of the products via warning labels and Safety Data Sheets (SDS).  Currently over 65 countries have or are in the process of adopting GHS.  OSHA is calling the revised standard "HazCom 2012" and it went into effect in the U.S. May 25, 2012 affecting over 5 million employers and 40 million workers.  Two significant changes contained in the revised standard require the use of new labeling elements and a standardized format for SDSs, formerly know as, Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDSs).

GHS Compliance Deadlines

The first deadline is December 1, 2013.  By this date, employers must train employees on GHS (how to read and understand new labels and SDSs), manage the influx of new SDS's which will include replacing their entire MSDS library, and be ready to produce GHS compliant workplace labels.  To prepare, employers should begin educating themselves on the changes as they will want to train employees well before the December 1, 2013 deadline.  Existing fines and penalties for non compliance with the HCS will extend to the new GHS alignment.  This means that HCS violation, which already rank #3 on OSHA's Top Ten Violations List, could see even more action.

The next compliance deadline is June 1, 2015 the date by which chemical manufacturers and distributors must reclassify their chemicals according to GHS guidelines and produce GHS formatted safety data sheets and labels.

The final deadline is June 16, 2016, the date by which employers must be fully compliant with GHS.  This means all training of employees on any new hazards that have been identified in the reclassifying of chemicals by the manufacturers and distributors.  It also means workplace labeling and workplace hazard programs must be up-to-date.

Labels and SDSs

By Deceber 1, 2013, according to OSHA, employers must train their workers on the following:

I. Label Elements

A. Training must include specific information the employee would expect to see on the new labels including:

Product Identifier-which explains how the hazardous chemical is identified, i.e., chemical name, code or batch numer.  This identifier must be on the label and in section 1 of the SDSs.

Signal Word-Indicates the level of hazard severity and alters the reader to a potential hazard on the label.  There are only two signal words, "Danger" for more severe hazards, and "Warning" for less severe hazards.

Pictogram-must be in the shape of a square set on a point, (the red diamond image above) and include a black hazard symbol on a white background with a red frame wide enough to be clearly visible.  OSHA has designated eight different pictograms, the exception being the environmental pictogram, as environmental hazards are not within OSHA's jurisdiction.

Hazard Statement(s)-describe the nature of the hazard(s) of a chemical and, where appropriate, the degree of hazard (i.e., "causes damage to kidneys, through prolonged or repeated exposure").  All hazard statements must appear on the label.

Precautionary Statement(s)-a phrase that describes recommended measures to minimize or prevent adverse effects resulting from exposure or improper storage and handling.

Name, address and phone number-of the chemical manufacturer, distributor or importer.

B. How an employee might use the labels in the workplace.  For example: When a chemical has multiple hazards, different pictograms are used to identify the various hazards. When there are similar precautionary statements, the one providing the most protective information will be included on the label.

II. SDS Format

A. Training on the format of the SDS must include information on:

-Standardized 16-section format, including the type of information found in the various sections.  For example, Section 8 (Exposure Controls/Personal Protection) will always contain information about exposure limits, engineering controls and ways to protect yourself, including use of personal protective equipment.

-How the information on the label is related to SDS. For example, the precautionary statements would be the same on the label and on the SDS.

Ultimately, employers have a responsibility to keep their employees safe.  For that reason, and to ensure full compliance, it is recommended that companies stay in front of the GHS adoption by aligning their policies and health and safety management with GHS principles at the earliest opportunity.

This information was provided courtesy of First Comp

Are Employee Safety Habits Part of Your Performance Reviews - August 2013

The benefits of a safety performance review

Safety experts have long understood that to achieve an outstanding safety record in the workplace, management must be involved, be held accountable, and must hold subordinates accountable. Performance evaluations may measure productivity, but is safety a consideration? A "Safety" performance evaluation focuses on what the workers have done during the review period to help prevent accidents in the workplace. Measurable safety goals that are tied to pay increases are also an effective way to incent employees to actively participate in a workplace safety program.

The safety performance evaluation for a supervisor should consider the use of accident control methods, such as self-inspections, safety training, job safety analysis, and safety meetings. Employee reviews should include an evaluation of how well the workers have handled established safety practices, safe job procedures, proper tool use, and methods of material handling.

Why employees need to be involved

According to a published report in 2001 by the UK Health and Safety Commission (HSC)* and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), an increase in employee involvement with health and safety issues actually helped to reduce accident rates from 1.2 to 0.1 per 100,000 man-hours. The report also revealed that when employees are evaluated for their safety performance, they are included to seek and implement practical safety improvement ideas.

*These government entities are responsible for the regulation of risks to workplace health and safety in Great Britain.

Measuring the Safety Factor

Measurable factors should be included in the safety evaluation of all workers. Workers' who are accident-free do not necessarily practice good safety habits. Consider these points for your safety evaluation:

  • Does the employee demonstrate a safe attitude and safe work methods?
  • Is the employee knowledgeable of job safety duties and responsibilities?
  • Has the employee promptly reported any unsafe conditions or situations, incidents and injuries?
  • Does the employees safety record support a safe attitude, knowledge, and actions related to job safety?

Also, consider these factors when evaluating a supervisor's safety performance:

  • Attitudes toward job safety and the health and safety needs of his/her subordinates
  • Promptness of action taken to report or correct unsafe conditions, situations, incidents, or injuries.

The frequency of the safety evaluations can be just as important as the content. Additionally, regular feedback helps the worker focus on safety and accident prevention. Consider the adoption of a quarterly review and include the following points:

  • Ask everyones opinion across department or functional lines
  • Provide compensation as an incentive and reward for safe behavior
  • Use online evaluations;they're a real time-saver
  • Use constructive criticism and honest feedback that has a point
  • 

Handling the marginal or unsafe employee

In any organization, there are bound to be a small number of employees who perform below expectations. Poor performance or sloppy work habits can often lead to safety problems. Lack of attention to details, bad attitude, low morale, and absenteeism, are just some of the telltale signs of a problem employee, one who could inadvertently cause an accident or contribute to workplace hazards.

Often, such employees suffer from poor internal motivation. In many cases, this unsafe behavior, while not malicious and intentional, is usually based on faulty awareness that requires major modification to correct. External motivation-from rewards to discipline-usually offers only a temporary solution.

Only repeated positive reinforcement can yield the desired change. Pointing out the occasions when safe behavior is accomplished can be a critical step toward long-term results. There is nothing like a positive experience to imbed the benefits of learning new skills in the mind of a workers.

A frequent performance evaluation, with accident prevention at its core, is one way to resolve the problems of a marginal worker. In some cases, the root of the problem may be job-related. On the other hand, it could be an indication of physical or emotional stress. Use the performance review to probe into why the employee feels he is performing below your expectation. The answer may reveal the underlying reasons and help identify ways to improve performance.

Regardless, you cannot allow such an employee to continue to endanger himself or those around him. Consider a re-assignment to a job that may be more suited to the worker's skills and interests. However, if counseling and motivation fail to improve the employee's work habits, it may be time to make a change for the sake and safety of the entire organization.

If Disaster is Imminent-how do you prepare? - July 2013

If you hear that a severe storm or another type of natural disaster is headed your way, there are precautions you can take to help your family and your business be prepared.

If you are ordered to evacuate, do so. If you are not being evacuated, use your time wisely to make preparations designed to keep everyone safe during the event.

Here is what you need to do:

  • Communicate where you will be. Contact someone outside the affected area to tell them where you will be for the duration of the storm. Business owners should remind employees of your continuity plans, including information on how they will know if your facility is open for business once the storm has passed.
  • Learn how to shut off all utilities. It is always a good idea to know how to turn off the gas, electricity and water in your home or place of business.
  • Learn the warning signs and alert signals for your area. Stay tuned to your local television or radio station for disaster-related information.
  • Collect emergency building materials: Depending on the type of disaster, you may want to consider having emergency materials on hand, such as plywood, sandbags and waterproof tarps.
  • Secure all outdoor objects or move them inside: Business owners should also remember to secure outdoor signage, benches and equipment to minimize potential damage.
  • Keep your car fueled up. If you have an emergency generator, keep that fueled up as well, and always have spare fuel on hand that is stored in an approved container in a safe location.
  • Be sure you have car chargers for your cell phone, smart phone and other portable devices. Having car chargers available can assist you in staying in communication if your electricity goes out.

This information was provided courtesy of Travelers

 

Machine Safeguarding-Protecting Workers from Preventable Injuries - June 2013

The list of possible machinery-related injuries is longer than you might realize - and probably more serious. Moving machine parts can cause serious workplace injuries ranging from crushed limbs or amputations to blindness and even death.

Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA... Cal/OSHA in California) requires safeguarding any machine where machine parts, functions or processes may cause injury. When the operation of a machine or accidental contact with it can injure the operator or others in the area, the hazards must be controlled or eliminated.

As simple as it may seem, companies don't always adhere to the necessary safety standards when it comes to safeguarding. In fact, machine guarding and other related machinery violations continuously rank among the top 20 OSHA citations issued.

Dangerous moving parts in the following three basic areas require safeguarding:

  • The point of operation: The point where work is performed on the material, such as cutting, shaping, boring or forming of stock.
  • Power transmission apparatus: All components of the mechanical system that transmit energy to the part of the machine performing the work. These components include flywheels, pulleys, belts, connecting rods, couplings, cams, spindles, chains, cranks and gears.
  • Other moving parts: All machine parts that move while the machine is working, including reciprocating, rotating and transverse moving parts, as well as feed mechanisms and auxiliary parts of the machine.

To protect workers from mechanical hazards, safeguards must meet these minimum requirements:

  • Safety standards: All safeguards must meet the minimum OSHA requirements.
  • Prevent contact: The safeguard must prevent all body parts from contact with dangerous moving parts.
  • Secure safeguards: Workers should not be able to easily remove or tamper with the safeguard. Guards and safety devices should be made of durable material that will withstand the conditions of normal use and must be firmly secured to the machine.
  • Protect from falling objects: The safeguard should ensure that no objects can fall into moving machinery parts.
  • Don't create new hazards: A safeguard defeats its purpose if it creates a hazard of its own such as a shear point, a jagged edge or an unfinished surface, all of which can cause a laceration.
  • Allow safe lubrication: If possible, one should be able to lubricate the machine without removing the safeguards.
  • Proper training: All operators and maintenance workers should receive safeguard training - detailing where the safeguards are located, how to use them, what procedures to follow if the guards are damaged or missing, etc.

Lockout/Tagout

Lockout/tagout procedures are meant to safeguard employees from the unexpected release of hazardous energy or startup of machinery and equipment.

Lockout/tagout ensures that no one reconnects an energy source while a person is conducting maintenance or doing repairs. When lockout/tagout procedures are not adhered to, accidents can be catastrophic. Knowing the dangers and following the rules will keep your employees safe.

Examples of energy sources that require lockout are as follows:

  • Electrical
  • Hydraulic
  • Pneumatic
  • Gravitational
  • Gas/Steam
  • Chemical

If you are in need of a sample Lockout Tag Out program to use in your business, please feel free to contact CMR Risk for assistance.

This information was provided courtesy of CompWest

 

Effective Hearing Conservation Program in the Workplace - May 2013

Noise is one of the most pervasive occupational health problems in America today. Approximately nine million workers are exposed on their jobs to noise levels that are potentially hazardous to their hearing. Fortunately, noise­induced hearing loss can be reduced, or often eliminated, through the successful application of occupational hearing conservation programs (HCPs). 

A successful HCP benefits both the company and the af­fected employee. Employees are spared handicapping hearing impairments and evidence suggests that they may experience less fatigue and generally better health. Ultimately, the company benefits from reduced medical expenses and worker compensation costs. In some cases there may be improved morale and work efficiency.

The existence of a HCP (even one that complies with government standards) does not guarantee the preven­tion of noise-induced hearing loss. Experience with suc­cessful HCPs shows that management needs to develop and adhere to certain policies from the start. These poli­cies cover the integration of the HCP into the company's safety and health program, designation of a key individual (a "program implementer") with ultimate responsibility for the overall conduct of the program, standard operating procedures for each phase of the program, the proper identification and use of outside services, and the pur­chase of appropriate equipment. 

This guide presents some of the important attributes of successful HCPs. Concepts and action items are pre­sented in terms of the responsibilities of three groups of personnel: those representing management, those who implement the HCPs, and the affected or noise-exposed employees. 

The seven basic components of a HCP consist of: (1) noise exposure monitoring, (2) engineering and adminis­trative controls, (3) audiometric evaluation, (4) use of hearing protection devices, (5) education and motivation, (6) recordkeeping, and (7) program evaluation.

Noise Exposure Monitoring

As with any health hazard, it is important to characterize the hazard accurately and to identify the affected employ­ees. Management should define the specific goals of the sound survey and make sure that operating procedures, as well as resources, are available for collecting and evaluating noise measurements. The results of the noise measurements must be reported to the HCP implementer and to the employees in an understandable format. HCP implementers need to coordinate closely with production employees to make sure that the measurements repre­sent typical production cycles and that noise levels are adequately sampled. Program implementers should see that those who make the measurements closely follow the policies and procedures established by management, that the report explains the results clearly, and that employees are apprised of the results. Employees have the responsi­bility of sharing their knowledge about the production en­vironment, the machinery, and specific operations with those who measure the noise.

Engineering and Administrative Controls

The use of engineering controls should reduce noise ex­posure to the point where the hearing hazard is signifi­cantly reduced or eliminated. It is especially important for companies to specify low noise levels when purchasing new equipment.

Management needs to identify controllable noise sources, set goals for noise control, and allocate resources to ac­complish these goals. Managers should also explore po­tential administrative controls, such as scheduling that will minimize noise exposure in quiet and conveniently lo­cated lunch and break areas. Program implementers must ensure that communication channels are open be­tween management, noise control personnel, and equipment operators. The equipment operators, in turn, need to communicate their thoughts to management and those in charge of noise control, and must learn to operate and maintain their equipment to take full advantage of the noise controls.

Audiometric Evaluation

Audiometric evaluation is crucial to the success of the HCP, since it is the only way to determine whether noise­induced hearing loss is being prevented by the prescribed hearing conservation actions. Management must allocate sufficient time and resources to the audiometric program to allow accurate testing; otherwise, the resulting audio­grams will be useless. Management should also select audiometric technicians and professional consultants with demonstrated competence in relating to employees as well as in performing their duties in the audiometric pro­gram. The program implementer must monitor the audio­metric program including scheduling, testing, equipment maintenance and calibration, audiogram review, feedback to the employee, and referral. Effective communication and coordination among company personnel, health ser­vices, and employees is of utmost importance. Employ­ees need to disclose information about ear problems and prior noise exposures, or problems encountered in taking the audiometric test. They also need to follow up on any recommendations for treatment or further evaluation.

Hearing Protection Devices

In the absence of feasible engineering or administrative controls, hearing protection devices (often referred to as hearing protectors) remain the only means of preventing hazardous noise levels from damaging one's hearing. Unless great care is taken in establishing a hearing pro­tection program, employees will often receive very little benefit from these devices.  Each employee can react differently to the use of such devices; and a successful program should respond to in­dividual needs. The primary managerial responsibilities are to facilitate the procurement of appropriate hearing protection devices, to demonstrate commitment to the program (e.g., by the use of these devices in appropriate situations), to provide the personnel and facilities to train employees in the use and care of hearing protection de­vices, and to enforce the use of hearing protectors. Pro­gram implementers need to be knowledgeable in the details of hearing protector evaluation, selection, and use, and must be able to impart this information to employees. Implementers need to encourage employees to ask ques­tions and to help them solve any problems that may arise. Program implementers also should perform periodic on­site checks of the condition and performance of hearing protectors.

Employees must take responsibility for being fully in­formed about the need for hearing protection, wearing their hearing protectors correctly at all times, seeking re­placements, as necessary, encouraging co-workers to use these devices, and communicating problems to their supervisors.

Education and Motivation

Education and motivation sessions are valuable for both management and employees so they will understand that a successful HCP takes commitment, communication, and cooperation. Management should set a high priority on regularly scheduled training sessions, and select ar­ticulate, knowledgeable, and enthusiastic instructors. Pro­gram implementers, or those who present the sessions, need to make their presentations short, simple, and highly relevant. They need to encourage questions and the ex­pression of concerns, and they must make sure that all problems receive prompt attention. 

Record Keeping

Record keeping is necessary to document the affects of the HCP program.  This record keeping should reward those employees who have successfully implemented the HCP and also hold those employees who have not, accountable.

Program Evaluation

Like any successful loss control program, changes may need to occur to tailor program so it is specific to your needs.  HCP's are not a one size fits all proposition.  Your HCP should be reviewed and evaluated regularly and engage both upper and lower level management in the program evaluation.  Also, involve the employees and engage their feedback on what is and what is not working.   

This information was provided courtesy of C.N.A. Insurance Companies

 

Forklift Operation Do's and Don'ts - April 2013

Forklifts are commonly used in numerous work settings, primarily to move materials.    A forklift operator must be knowledgeable and committed to safety rules and policies to keep the workplace safe.

Training:

Familiarize yourself with the manufacturer's user instructions, and take all necessary training. Operator certification is required and records must be available for inspection 

Pre-operational planning:

  • A pre-operational equipment inspection checklist must be completed. Unsatisfactory equipment needs to be taken out of service.
  • Travel routes must be determined prior to operation, and the affected employees need to be notified.
  • The capacity of the forklift and the size of the load must be determined prior to operation. 

Vehicle preparation: 

  • The owner's manual should be kept on the forklift at all times.
  • Rated limits must be visible on the lift. These must not be exceeded.
  • Ensure that you are in the designated area for operating the forklift.
  • If indoors, ensure that there is adequate ventilation for the use of an internal combustion engine.
  • Secure or tie down unstable loads before starting the vehicle.

During the operation:  

 All of the manufacturer's user instructions are to be strictly followed, including seat belt use. In addition, follow these guidelines:

  • Loads must be down while the forklift is in motion.
  • Tilt the mast back slightly before traveling.
  • Ensure that there is adequate clearance before passing under or between structures.
  • Maintain an indoor speed under 2 mph and an outdoor speed under 15 mph. Reduce speed when making turns and when going up or down ramps.
  • Driving in reverse: Drive in reverse when the operator's forward vision is obscured. The best practice is to reduce the size of the load so the lift can be driven forward without an obscured view.  Always have a backup alarm and honk the horn prior to reversing the lift.
  • Maintain a safe distance from any hazards such as power lines or unstable ground.

Things that should never be done when operating a forklift:  

  • Do not ignore safety recommendations in order to finish a job more quickly.
  • Do not exceed the forklift's rated capacity or speed.
  • Do not drive a forklift with an elevated load.
  • Never operate a forklift without training and certification.
  • Never let anyone other than the driver ride the forklift.
  • Never leave an elevated load unattended.
  • Never make turns on ramps.
  • Never operate a forklift outside designated areas.
  • Never ride on or under the load!

 

Ten Step Accident Investigation Process - March 2013

Accident Investigation is one of the means used to prevent Accidents.  The information produced by these investigations must lead to the development of corrective action that will prevent or reduce accidents.  The purpose of accident investigation then is accident prevention.  To support accident prevention goals, the investigations must be fact-finding and not fault-finding in nature.

A major factor in accident prevention is the development of accurate and timely information that can be used to prevent re-occurrence.  Comprehensive reporting should follow a standard format and, depending on the severity of the accident/incident, may require from one to several separate reports.  Reports, if properly analyzed and communicated, can provide a foundation for an effective accident prevention program.

When Is The Time For Accident Investigation?

The time for accident investigation is always as soon as possible. The less time between the accident and the investigation, the better the information that can be obtained.  Facts are clearer, more details remembered, and the conditions are nearest those at the time of the accident.  Situations that should be permitted to delay the investigation are when medical treatment is needed or when the persons involved are emotionally upset.

You should investigate an accident whenever:

  • Injury, illness, or property damage occurs (this includes employees, contractors, and the general public)
  • "Near misses" occur (these are cases when no injury, illness or property damage occurred, but if conditions were slightly changed damage would be probable). 

There are ten steps that add up to a thorough and effective investigation.  They are:

  1. Understand the need for investigation
  2. Prepare for the investigation
  3. Gather the facts about the accident
  4. Analyze the facts
  5. Develop conclusions
  6. Analyze conclusions
  7. Make a report
  8. Make appropriate recommendations
  9. Follow through on recommendations
  10. Follow-up on corrective actions  

1. Understand The Need for Investigation

To be successful at anything, you need to understand why you need to do it.  In other words, what exactly is the problem or need?  Do you want to prevent future accidents?  Are  you merely interested in complying with internal or external (insurance) paperwork requirements?  Will the investigation support you in case of litigation?  Are you seeking a scapegoat?  Do you want to pinpoint managerial inefficiencies that may be causing similar accidents?  The nature of the accident investigation findings will actually be determined largely by what you decide the need is.

The most important reason for conducting investigations is that accidents indicate when something is wrong with the system of operating. Uncovering the causes, and remedying the defects, can strengthen the operation, as well as eliminate future accidents. The accident investigation then becomes management's tool for discovering and analyzing faults and inefficiencies in the entire management control system.

2. Prepare For The Investigation

The best way to handle accidents, when they do occur, is to be prepared for them. After the unexpected happens, it is too late for preparation; you need to make sure two areas are addressed. First you must have a plan or procedure, and secondly you need to ensure that supervisors are trained to conduct thorough accident investigations. Education should ensure that investigators can answer questions such as these:

  • Why is getting all the facts so important in accident investigation?
  • In what way are reportable accidents only the "tip of the iceberg?"
  • Why are accidents so much more visible than unsafe acts?
  • What causes accidents?
  • What are your responsibilities as a supervisor?
  • Why is placing blame on people counterproductive?
  • What can the supervisor do to help prevent these accidents from occurring?

3. Gather The Facts

While the first two sections should be completed well in advance of any actual accidents, the "gathering of facts" begins only when an accident/incident has actually taken place. It marks the beginning of the investigation itself.

First and foremost is the investigation, the facts about what happened and what allowed it to happen must be discovered. Start out knowing where you are going, what you are going to do and how you re going to do it, regardless of the specific situation to be found at the accident site.

The details involved in gathering facts are both simple and complex. They are simple if a systematic, clear procedure has been established detailing what kind of facts should be collected and how they should be compiled; complex in that the simple procedures may have to be repeated over and over for each new relevant fact or phase of investigation. If the organization of the phase is good, even complicated accident investigation is far easier. The best approach is having a good plan, knowing the on-site priorities, and knowing where to start.

4. Analyze The Facts

This is an on-going process that begins when you gather the first facts and begin mentally weighing them. This weighing of facts includes statements of witnesses and their credibility. How much accuracy or inaccuracy can you expect from them? How do their stories compare with other evidence? What do the facts indicate about management and supervisory procedures, housekeeping, work environment, and so on? This analysis merges with the gathering of facts, and may suggest new questions and offer new direction for further fact gathering.

Organization and direction can be given to this step if everything is carefully documented and all actions are made a matter of record, supervisors' accident investigation reports should be used as a measurement tool. Reviewed by top entity management, these reports represent an indication and measure of a supervisor's ability. For all these reasons for performing accident investigations, it will pay to know exactly what each question means, why it is needed, and how it should be recorded. 

5. Develop Conclusions

As the facts are gathered and analyzed, conclusions can begin to be drawn about what happened and what caused it to happen. This should be formally presented, with statements of conclusions and the relevant facts on which they were based, so that this is a matter of verifiable record. This information and systematic presentation allows you to see any gaps in your knowledge or reasoning, and may point to areas where more facts and analysis are needed. It will usually direct the investigator back to either the fact-finding or analysis process, to repeat these steps until adequate and reasonable conclusions can be formed.

6. Analyze The Conclusions

This analysis may refer either to a tentative or partial conclusion, while still gathering facts, or to the final conclusions after all facts are known, weighed, and analyzed.

As suggested above, this is a continuous step that never really stops but may be repeated several times during the investigative process. As time was taken to formally develop tentative conclusions, time is now taken to examine and analyze those conclusions. This, too, may send you back to earlier steps to gather more facts or to review from a different standpoint. Eventually, tentative conclusions can either be made firm or discarded altogether.

7. Make A Report

The accident report should bring all this material together: facts, analysis, and conclusions. The information has been gathered on the people involved, the situation or specific incident. These facts have been reviewed and revised. Now all the information should be formalized into a report. Everything included in the report should be supported by facts and evidence; unsubstantiated statements or mere speculations do not belong in the final report.

The report narrative should begin with a short synopsis, one or two lines that tell what happened without details or causes. This should be followed by a detailed and more complete account of the accident. (In selecting detail, however, stick to essentials; leaving out anything that does not lead to an understanding of the incident or conclusions).

A good report should be clear and concise, free of extraneous material. The reader may know nothing of the process or location involved, and yet must understand clearly what has happened and why. Management is not interested in all of the work that the investigator has done or all the questions they have asked, but rather in what they found out that was significant, as supported by the evidence.

8. Make Appropriate Recommendations

The best report in the world has failed if it merely states facts and draws conclusions. Corrective actions are needed, and the report should recommend them. Make specific recommendations indicating precisely what should be done to correct the situation. The accident report may present a list of several recommendations, each one separately stated, along with its specific corrective actions. The recommendations should clearly identify who is responsible for review and implementation. When responsibility is identified, one person can be held responsible and accountable for the correction of each specific causal factor.

9. Follow Through On Recommendations

Just the recommendations in the report are not enough. The key word is action. Someone must demand action to keep the same or a similar event from happening again. Someone in top management should insist that corrective actions be taken as recommended and accountability take place. This is more easily done if single, specific, recommendations for corrective action have been identified, and have been individually assigned for implementation

Management cannot rest after recommendations for corrective actions have been made, or even after responsibility for taking those actions has been assigned. Someone has to check on the corrective action to make sure it has been taken, and that it does, in fact, match the recommended or desired action. Has it been done properly and completely? Have all recommendations been acted upon?

10. Follow-Up On The Corrective Action

Review the corrective actions made. Do these corrective actions address the need to prevent or reduce the same accident type from happening again? This step is essential at the end of the process, and should continue to be evaluated on a less formal basis. 

 This information was provided courtesy of Travelers Risk Control

 

Risk Transfer: Managing 3rd party relationships - February 2013

A small motor manufacturer, to get the business of a big new customer, agrees to sign a contract which the customer requires of all vendors.  If they don't sign it, there are plenty of other motor manufacturers who will.  

After a fire loss due to a customer's improper use of a motor, the motor manufacturer is surprises to find that the contract requires them to indemnify and hold harmless their customer for any and all losses associated with the motor.

A "plastic" Pipe Manufacturer (PM) vendors the custom compounding of material used with swimming pools.  The formula has been designed and tested to resist the harsh effects of sun and pool chemicals.  The PM does not have a contract prohibiting the vendor from making changes to the formulation.  Without the PM's knowledge, the vendor changes the formulation to use a cheaper ingredient.  The change makes the pipe vulnerable to the elements, enabling it to fail prematurely.  The vendors insurance limits are inadequate to deal with the magnitude of multiple losses.

All businesses depend on others to produce a finished product or service.  Without proper planning and review of exposures these relationships create, a business can encounter unexpected claim costs.  The intent of a Risk Transfer Review Program  is to help assure that your business is not financially vulnerable to damages and claims due to acts, errors or omissions caused or contributed to by others.  A program should be designed to uncover, remove and/or minimize exposure.  Absent effective risk transfer, decisions of liability are often made in court.  It is much better to have such decisions made in writing, at the beginning of a business relationship.

Risk Transfer Techniques and tools

For the purpose of this article, 'risk transfer' refers to ways to protect from having to pay for mistakes associated with activities and products that third parties (business partners, subcontractors, suppliers, etc) control.  The idea to keep liability with the party best equipped to control exposures.  The goals is also to make sure that these third parties are financially able to pay.

Key risk transfer tools include:

Certificate of Insurance (COI).  This document, from a third party's insurance company, confirms what coverage is in force at the time it is issued and the expiration date.  (Updated certificates must be requested annually, prior to expiration).

Hold Harmless (HH) agreement.  This document establishes that one party holds another harmless under described circumstances. E.g., a painter, hired by a building owner, provides the building owner with a HH agreement.  The painter spills paint on a nearby car.  This document says the painter, not the building owner, is liable for the damages.  HH agreements can be special contracts or standard contracts like on a work order, purchase order, etc.  (Great care should be used with HH agreements!  Legal counsel should check the language.  Such agreements may not always hold up in court.)

Vendors coverage (VC).  This is an endorsement to a manufacturer's policy that says the manufacturer's insurance company extends its' product liability coveage to those who sell the manufacturer's products (usually retailers), without "change" in the event they are named in a product liability claim.  (Carefully review terms of this endorsement to be aware of limitations of coverage such as what "change" activities may trigger an exclusion of coverage.)  

If you do business with numerous third parties, you may decide to focus your risk transfer efforts on volume or "critical" suppliers.  In this context, "critical" means products, components and/or materials whose failure is more likely to result in serious and/or frequent losses.

A company's need will vary based on what they do and the number and type of third parties with whom they do business.  Desirable Risk Transfer Review Program activities may include but are not limited to: 

  • Review and assess exposures knowingly retained by your business.
  • Review exposures from businesses you work with and depend on.
  • Conduct a hazard analysis to identify key or critical third parties.  The analysis may be formal or informal, depending on your business.
  • Implement a process to establish appropriate risk transfer with new third party relationships and to obtain annually new COI's or VC from established business partners, prior to the expiration of the old ones.
  • Establish a process to review language in contracts you use and contracts others ask you to sign to maximize the protection they may give you and to help avoid giving up valuable legal rights.

Each business relationship needs to be reviewed for potential exposures.  Each exposure needs to be understood, evaluated and properly handled to help protect you from being drawn into unexpected financial liability.  There are two types of financial exposures to loss: a) those you know about and b) those you don't (until the unexpected event).

Reviews should include risk management professionals, your insurance broker and/or legal counsel familiar with contracts and product liability law.  They can assist in determining what tools or combinations of tools are best to help protect you from the liability of others.  These precautions are no different than other investments of time and money to protect your company's assets.  Like any other investment, it should not be a one time event, but a program that is enforced and gets periodic review and revision.

Other tools that can reinforce effective risk transfer include, but are not limited to:

  • Strong long term relationships with suppliers, vendors, subcontractors and other business partners can mean a vested interest in "doing the right thing."  Keep in mind, that regardless of these long term and trusting relationships, "if it is not written, it does not exist".
  • Where appropriate, requiring certificates of conformance or independent testing.
  • Developing quality control and/or testing procedures for incoming products and materials or for services.
  • For key volume and/or critical suppliers, inspecting or requiring appropriate "certification" of a third party's procedures.

This information was provided courtesy of Travelers 

 

Cut your HVAC System Operating Costs - January 2013

What does an inefficient Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning system (HVAC) have to do with your business? For starters, it can cost you money!

An inefficient HVAC system can draw unnecessary amount of electricity to compensate for additional heating or cooling requirements for your operations. It will also tax the HVAC system, creating more maintenance and repair problems. In some cases, indoor air quality could be compromised, leading to employee claims. The imbalance in the distribution of the heating or cooling within an office or manufacturing environment may cause discomfort to occupants/employees, and a humid environment may lead to microbial growth (mold has been known to create illness).

A HVAC Preventative Maintenance Plan is important in order to avoid unnecessary operating expenses and assure a healthy environment. The plan should include routine inspections (documented to track service performed and frequency) of the system. The frequency of service inspections will depend on the size of your system, its age and type.

Check to make sure that the filters, condensers, coils, ductwork, outdoor supply air intake, fan belts, drip pans, dampers, and exhaust fan are all in good condition.

Replace filters regularly,but no less often than recommended by the manufacturer. Also check on the filter capture efficiency. A higher efficiency filter could capture smaller particulate, which are known to cause allergies. Check to make sure higher rated filters can be used in your unit. Change all filters with any remodel, tenant improvement, or similar event that might have created additional dust or debris in the air.

Clean the condensers, drip pan, and coils of any residual build-up. Such build-up can cause the unit to draw more power and increase cost and decrease efficiency.

Adjust and calibrate the system controls. Set the temperature and humidity controls based on the current or seasonal weather conditions, floor load (occupants), and use of the space.

If your facility utilizes an older HVAC system, consider hiring an outside licensed and insured professional to evaluate the need for a replacement. A new HVAC system may save money in the long run.

Common Causes of Electrical Fires - December 2012

Regular inspection and maintenance can help identify and correct electrical problems before they pose a serious fire threat.

Considering the most common electrical hazards listed below will assist qualified maintenance personnel in their inspection and correction activities:

Physical damage to wires, fixtures, junction boxes, motors, and equipment. Electrical installations can also become damaged and/or deteriorate with age.

Overloaded circuits used with oversized fuses and circuit breakers can result in overheated wires, breakdown of insulation and eventual short circuits. Overloaded circuits will generate excessive heat that may result in fires.

Temperatures in the fuse or circuit breaker boxes that generate excessive heat that may result in fires. Panel boxes should not be hot to the touch.

Loose connections at junction boxes can cut through insulation and result in short circuits or ground faults. Loose connections can also result in poor electrical conduction resulting in excess heating and fire.

Open spaces in circuit breaker panels should be filled with blanks to prevent entrance of dust and moisture.

Temporary wiring including the use of inadequate light duty extension cords and multiple outlet connectors can lead to overloaded circuits. In addition, extension cords are subject to physical damage and overheating and should be avoided.

Moisture, dust and metal filings in junction boxes, switches and plugs can result if not protected by cover plates. Missing cover plates indicate a lack of quality maintenance.

Aluminum wiring is considered more hazardous than copper wiring due to the need for tighter connections. A loose connection with aluminum wiring permits oxidation of the conductor and heat is generated as electricity flows through it. If aluminum wiring is used, consider replacing it and ensure that only compatible wiring devices are used.

Incandescent bulbs should be located at least six inches from combustible materials. Halogen bulbs should be installed only in devices with all protective covers and screens in place.

Motors (unless approved for wet environments) should be located away from damp atmospheres, or locations that contain flammable or corrosive vapors. Do not permit dust and dirt to accumulate on or near motors. Open motors should have dust, dirt and lint removed by blowing air through them weekly.

Starter equipment should be properly installed to protect against overloading, heating and arcing.

Commercial cooking equipment should be located under an exhaust hood. Thermostat controls should be functional. An over-temperature limit switch should be provided on deep fat fryers. An automatic extinguishing system with remote manual release should be in place and interlocked with a power shut off.

Heat producing devices such as irons, soldering irons, hot plates, toasters, counter top ovens, microwave ovens, heaters, other cooking appliances, coffee makers should be adequately separated (on all sides, top and bottom) from combustible materials and construction. Do not place appliances on wood or cardboard surfaces. These appliances and tools should be equipped with indicator or pilot lights.

Temporary Wiring (extension cords) should be avoided or kept to a minimum, but they should NEVER

  • be placed under rugs, carpets or mats
  • be placed on floors in areas subject to foot traffic or vehicles
  • be draped over nails or screws
  • have the ground prong removed
  • serve devices with ratings over 1,500 watts or 15 amps
  • be used in areas frequented by small children
  • be used in areas subject to puddles or standing water
  • be used in areas subject to flammable or corrosive vapors
  • be used in areas subject to temperatures over 150oF
  • be used frayed or have broken insulation
  • have ground plugs cut off

 

Personal Protective Equipment: Do it Right! - November 2012

Walk through any industrial workplace in the country and you're likely to see activities that could potentially cause injury.  Flying sparks, hot surfaces, sharp edges, chemical splashes and loud noise are just a few of the common hazards.  Eye injuries alone are suffered by more than 1,000 workers' every day in the United States and that's not even the most common type of injury.

According to OSHA, the correct use of personal protective equipment (PPE) could save more than 700,000 lost workdays each year and prevent tens of thousands of injuries having no lost time.  OSHA also estimates the savings outweigh the costs of compliance by three to one.

A good PPE program is more than handing out safety glasses, but it's not rocket science either.  It just takes a systematic approach and a familiarity with the workplace.

Identify the Hazards

First, you have to know what you're up against.  This might take time, but it is not difficult.  Identifying hazards should be part of a formal process that includes written documentation.  The first mistake many companies make is conducting an informal workplace assessment or not doing one at all.  The purpose of the assessment is to identify the hazards that are present or likely to be present in the workplace.  Accident data, workplace observation, and anticipated hazards all should be considered.

The assessment should be in writing, although no particular format is specified by OSHA.  Consider using an assessment format that provides guidance for the person doing the assessment and also serves as a record for future reference.  (OSHA has a variety of tools to help.  Also, your current insurance Agent should have these resources available to provide to you).  For all but the smallest businesses, it works best to break up the workplace into manageable pieces and perform a focused assessment for each group of employees.  The assessment should include likely hazards to the eyes, face, head, feet, hands, body and hearing.

Some of the things to consider during the walk-through include:

  • high temperatures that could cause burns, eye injury or ignition of protective gear
  • sharp objects that might cut hands or feet
  • rolling objects that could crush the feet
  • sources of motion, such as machinery, power tools or flying objects
  • light radiation, such as welding, cutting, UV curing or lasers
  • chemical exposures, such as corrosive cleaning agents
  • exposure to bodily fluids while rendering first aid 
  • electrical hazards
  • sources of excessive noise
  • workplace layout, location of coworkers and pedestrian traffic

Consider the likelihood of injury, potential seriousness of the injury, and the possibility of several simultaneous hazards.  Also, be aware that you may uncover issues related to PPE that are covered by other OSHA standards, such as bloodborne pathogens, hearing conservation for excessive noise or respiratory hazards.

Fix the Problems, Not Just the Symptoms

The second common mistake occurs when PPE is considered the first and final solution.  Safety experts agree the preferred ways to protect employees are through substitution, engineering or administrative controls, which address hazards at their source.  Get the safety committee involved in identifying hazards and suggesting improvements.  Enclose a machine to contain those flying metal chips.  put the welders in a separate room from the assemblers. Eliminate or substitute a corrosive chemical in favor of one which is more user-friendly.

Realistically, it may not be feasible to eliminate all the hazards. You should consider the process a success if you can eliminate some of the hazards for some of the people.  This will help make the workplace a safer place.

PPE is the Last Resort, So Do It Right

Okay, you've done the assessment and eliminated as many hazards as practical through engineering and/or administrative changes.  If likely workplace hazards remain, there is one solution: personal protective equipment.  PPE is considered the last resort because it does not eliminate the hazard at its source.  But PPE is often the only thing separating the individual from the hazard and the only thing preventing an injury.

It is important that management, supervisors and production employees are heavily involved at this stage.  Talk about the issues, foreseeable problems, and develop acceptable solutions.  During PPE selection, consider the level of protection needed, comfort, adjustability, ease of use, cost, and requirements for cleaning, storage and maintenance.  Several models and a wide range of sizes should be available for comfort and proper fit.  Provide quality training, including training for new hires and refresher training down the road.  Make plans for any necessary medical evaluations. Consider how enforcement will be accomplished.  Will management set an example when they walk the floor?

The Process is Never Finished

Things change, new machines are purchased, work methods are revised, and better PPE is developed.  Revisit your PPE policies regularly, especially if there are changes.  Are the policies still appropriate?  Are they being followed?  What kinds of injuries are occurring?  Find ways to improve the program, provide better protection, provide additional training, and make the individuals more comfortable.  

Don't hesitate to get help from outside sources or your safety-engineers at any stage of the process.  Work with your suppliers or others in your industry.  Go online.  There is a wealth of information on the OSHA website (www.osha.org), including regulatory text, documents to assist with compliance, OSHA directives and letters of interpretation.  PPE vendors also may be helpful in addressing certain situations similar to yours.  With a systematic approach, a familiarity with the workplace, and some imagination, yours can be a safer place to work.  

 

Property Protection-Sound the Alarm - October 2012

As Loss Mitigation Specialists, our role in the overall risk management process is identifying & assessing potential loss exposures, and then helping our clients control such risks through Loss Prevention Measures (to eliminate, reduce or control loss exposures), and through Loss Control suggestions (i.e. controlling loss costs in the event of a fire).

One of our insurance industry partners, Golden Eagle Insurance Corporation completed a study to analyze factors & conditions contributing to large property losses and to identify any areas for improvement that might mitigate policyholder losses in the event of a fire (i.e. Loss Control measures).  As risk management partners, we thought you might be interested in some of the findings and conclusions.

In the analysis of large losses, using Building, Contents and Business Income combined values, the largest property losses occurred in non-sprinklered buildings and in buildings without central station fire alarm systems.  The Reason: Lack of early detection & reporting to local Fire Departments with resulting delayed response, often too late to prevent a total loss.

The simplest loss control solution for non-sprinklered properties with significant values at risk and/or housing more hazardous operations is a Central Station Fire Detection/Alarm System.  A licensed contractor can be hired to install an automatic fire/smoke detection system to cover all areas of a building (in accordance with NFPA 72 Standard on Automatic Fire Detectors).  The system should be connected to an approved central station alarm monitoring service, with 24-hour a day reporting capabilities.  When educating a property owner or business owner, loss control consultants point out that lack of early detection and reporting of a fire can lead to unnecessary property damage and extended business interruption, especially given the absence of an automatic fire sprinkler system and the significant property values on site.  SIDE NOTE: Having a central station burglar alarm does not replace the need for a central station fire alarm.  These alarms, burglar, and fire, are two distinct forms of early warning systems, each designed to dispatch the appropriate emergency response.  If you have a fire, you do not want the police to show up first, wasting valuable firefighting response time.

Regarding Contents Coverage, during property surveys loss control consultants evaluate contents as well as building values, including replacement cost estimates for Equipment and Inventory.  For production and manufacturing operations, we also report the Machinery and Equipment (M&E) exposure in terms of percent of building area, i.e. 60% production and 40% storage and office.  For warehousing operations, we will assess any seasonal variations in inventory values, and ask about inventory accountability practices (physical, perpetual, audited, etc).

For sprinklered properties, we have always verified that automatic fire sprinkler systems are equipped with central station waterflow alarms (or local, proprietary alarms) that are monitored 24/7. Central Station waterflow alarms automatically signal the monitoring service whenever water is flowing through the system, whether as a result of an actual fire (open sprinkler heads), or as a result of a sprinkler line break, i.e. following an earthquake.  Without central station alarm monitoring, the Fire Department may not be notified for hours, leading to significant water damage (on top of any fire damage). Remember that water will continue to flow through the sprinkler system until the Fire Department turns off the main sprinkler valve. Many large property claims are directly attributable to water damage to stock and equipment, often fare exceeding any actual fire damage costs.

If we encounter that an existing sprinkler system is inadequately designed for the risks current occupancy or storage configuration, we might suggest a central station fire detection system unless a reasonable/feasible "fix" can be recommended to make the fire sprinkler system adequate (per NFPA 13 minimum requirements), i.e. lower rack storage height, upgrading the sprinkler system, removing extra hazardous materials/processes from the building, etc.

Working together with an insurance broker that specializes in risk management services can deliver a value of eliminating, reducing and controlling loss exposures and the value of reducing actual loss costs.

 

National Safety Month Observance - June 2011

June is National Safety Month! However, all employers need to diligently pay attention to workplace safety on a daily basis. The federal Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Act requires each employer to provide a safe workplace environment for its employees. Even if you own a very small business, you as the employer are subject to the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulations.

Lack of safety guidelines and procedures to protect the health and welfare of your employees can subject your business to costly penalties. For example, on May 25, 2011, OSHA announced that AMD Industries will face penalties of $1,247,400. In this case, the company's untrained, unprotected workers were found to have been exposed to cancer-causing asbestos during required removal of the material.

Last month, OSHA also launched an employer survey regarding workplace safety and health management practices. Survey questions included whether or not safety management systems have been established and whether regular inspections are conducted. While specific survey results are not to be used for enforcement directly against the survey respondents, OSHA is anticipated to apply the findings toward tougher rule-making proposals and increased compliance enforcement efforts.

So, get prepared! Proactively review your company's safety standards, and make updates as necessary. Consider additional action items, such as:

  • Reviewing current safety protocols.
  • Identifying workplace hazards (i.e. caustic cleaning chemicals or loud machine noise).
  • Creating an action plan to remedy workplace health and safety risks.
  • Training all managers and their employees on proper safety procedures, and being sure to document for the record.
  • Monitoring employee usage of meal and rest breaks as scheduled to help prevent work fatigue.

Businesses in each industry will not face the same sets of expectations and requirements for workplace safety. On the other hand, each and every business must ensure that the safety of all its employees is well-secured and well-documented.

CMR & Fireman's Fund Donate $8,000 to Burn Institute - May 2011

CMR Risk & Insurance Services and Fireman’s Fund Insurance Co. have partnered to donate $8,000 to the Burn Institute in San Diego, to enhance its workplace emergency preparedness program on April 26, 2011.

The Burn Institute is a nonprofit organization dedicated to reducing the number of burn injuries and deaths in San Diego and Imperial counties. The Burn Institute is San Diego’s leading nonprofit authority on fire and burn prevention education, and is the No. 1 partner to the fire service on this issue as the agency works with every fire agency in San Diego and Imperial counties.

The donation will be used to revise and print the current Emergency Preparedness in the Workplace brochures, safety checklists, escape plan information, and to purchase fire extinguishers needed to conduct the program.

CMR Risk & Insurance Services Inc. is an independent risk management and human capital consultant. Fireman’s Fund Insurance Co., a member of the Allianz Group, is a property and casualty insurance company providing personal and commercial insurance products nationwide.