Archive for the ‘Workers Compensation’ Category

This week I reflected upon the first quarter of 2013 and reviewed our Q1 safety record and data – WE DEFINITELY HAVE SOMETHING SPECIAL GOING!    We have 34 facilities operating across the world in 6 countries.   When we started our safety journey our statistics were “average” as it relates to the data published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.    We created a program that focuses on compliance, awareness, accountability, and participation that was very easy to use.   We dropped our TCIR (Total Case Incident Rate) from the mid 5’s to 1.0 for the first quarter of 2013.   That is in the zone of “World Class” being measured with DuPont, Alcoa and others that are very respected in the safety community.   Further, our North American workers compensation claims were less than $12k (paid and incurred) for the first quarter.   Before we started our current journey, our workers compensation claims exceeded $1.7 million dollars on an annual basis!

I am a firm believer that even one accident is too many.   Every employee should return home each and every day in the same condition in which they came to work.   We, as employers, have an obligation to provide a safe working environment.    I take this obligation very seriously.

I am very proud of where we have taken our safety program – WE DEFINITELY HAVE SOMETHING SPECIAL GOING! – what about you?

STAY SAFE!     **  Jeff  **   214-215-2434

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I had a conversation this week with a Workers Compensation Insurance Representative and an Insurance Broker regarding safety and accidents.   Both of these individuals have 25+ years of experience in occupational safety – therefore I consider them EXPERTS.   It was interesting to hear their perspective on accidents, culture, and various safety programs.   The one thing that was loud and clear from my conversation with the EXPERTS – you must involve your employees.

When you involve employees in your safety program you create ownership, buy-in and participation.    These items lead to a positive safety culture where employees do the right thing even when nobody is watching and employees look out for one another.   Isn’t that what we are trying to achieve?   All it takes is involvement – just ask the EXPERTS.

I will continue to involve all employees in safety – what will you do ?

STAY SAFE!     **  Jeff  **   214-215-2434

I visited three manufacturing sites yesterday with a co-worker, workers compensation insurance broker, and workers compensation insurance representative.   It was intended to be a quick visit at each site due to time constraints.   All three manufacturing sites are within the same company.

The GOOD – Plant #1 was neat, orderly, and overall the visit went well.   There were a couple of ergonomic items that the insurance representative pointed out related to hand tools.   The facility leader embraced what they had to say and even asked for suggestions on a “problem job” that he identified.    Overall it was a very productive visit that lasted 40 minutes.

The BAD and UGLY – Plant #2 was very clean, neat and orderly – not much else that was good to report.   We entered the facility and were not required to sign in so we could be accounted for in case of an emergency (per policy) .  The facility leader did not comply with PPE requirements when we entered the production area (per policy).   We observed a maintenance tech working on a machine with the guards removed while the machine was not Locked Out (per policy).   We looked at dock doors that had no fall protection (per policy).   Overall, it was a very embarrassing visit that lasted 30 minutes.

Also the BAD and UGLY – Plant #3 was not clean, not orderly and nothing else that was good to report.   The facility leader at this location wants to do a good job but in my opinion lacks leadership skills.   Again, we entered the facility and were not required to sign in (per policy) nor were we asked to wear high visibility vests (per policy).   The worst thing we saw that day happened at this facility.  A customer was parked in the building being loaded.  The customer was wearing shorts, tennis shoes, tank top, no safety glasses, and no hardhat (per policy).   The load was moved one foot over his head via crane!   I asked the facility leader about this and he said that he didn’t want to upset the customer by asking him to comply with the safety rules!  I could write a novel related to other observations at this facility but I want to give you a quick impression of the visit.   Overall, it was another embarrassing visit that lasted 30 minutes.

Here is some additional background items relating to these three facilities.   All three of these facilities report to the same operations leader.   All three of these facility leaders have been responsible for safety at their location for at least 2 years.   All three of these facilities follow the same safety policies and procedures.  All three of these facilities attend monthly safety calls.

So this brings us to the obvious question – why do we see such a difference between these facilities?   In my opinion, the one word answer is Leadership!   More specifically it is the lack of leadership by the Operations Leader as well as a lack of leadership of Facility Leader #2 and #3.   The Operations Leader has created a culture, through lack of leadership, that allows Facility Leader #2 and #3 to be out of compliance with the safety policies and procedures.   Facility Leader #2 and #3 choose not to follow the safety policy and procedures because there has been not adverse consequences by the Operations Leader.    Culture and support play such a large role in any safety program.

The next day I called the Operations Leader and spent more time discussing my observations and concerns then we spent actually visiting these facilities.   For the safety program to be successful, the Operations Leader must support the program and he must be a leader and address the issues with his subordinates.

I addressed the issue with the responsible individual – what would you have done?

STAY SAFE!     **  Jeff  **   214-215-2434

According to National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) data, every day more than 2,000 American workers are treated for occupational eye injuries.  AS EYE SEE IT – that’s 2,000 too many!   2,000 per day equates to 500,000 eye injuries per year!   According to NIOSH – 70 percent of these eye injuries were caused by contact with an object/equipment, 26 percent were caused by exposure to harmful substances, and the remainder was due to scrap, waste, debris, chemicals, welding torches, etc.

Where is the Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) in all this?   A simple pair of safety glasses costs less than $5 and a face shield less than $20!   Why are employers not requiring their employees to wear proper PPE?   An average worker’s compensation claim cost is running $10,000.  If you reduce one claim by wearing safety glasses – that buys you 2,000 pairs of additional safety glasses.  If you reduce one claim by wearing a face shield – that buys you 500 new ones!

Is this the lack of safety culture?  Is it the lack of accountability?  Or the lack of caring?  I don’t care what it is – we have an obligation to provide a safe work environment!   It is unacceptable for any employee to be injured on the job, no matter how minor.  Each and every employee has the right to go home to their family and friends in the exact same condition in which they showed up to work.   That’s how EYE SEE IT – how do you see it?

STAY SAFE!     **  Jeff  **   214-215-2434

I recently read an article where a painter consumed “a small bottle of whiskey and more than half a fifth of vodka” while at work.  The painter then proceeded to nap in a closet for a few hours, subsequently woke up and fell down an elevator shaft.  The painter applied for workers’ compensation benefits, the employer denied workers compensation benefits, and the case was taken to court.

Ultimately, the painter was denied workers compensation benefits because the painter “was not fulfilling work duties and was not engaged in an activity incidental to his work.”   WHAT IF he picked up a paint brush and started painting before he fell into the elevator shaft, but was still drunk?  Would he be eligible for workers compensation?  According to the courts:  Yes – the painter would have been

In my opinion, the entire workers compensation system in the United States needs a major overhaul.   While I completely understand and support the rationale for a workers’ compensation system, it is abused, misused, and costing companies millions of dollars, which ultimately cost consumers money.

Individuals, who file fraudulent claims, and the medical professionals associated with such claims, should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.   Penalties need to be substantially increased for individuals who file fraudulent claims.   Medical certifications need to be revoked for medical professionals who are associated with fraudulent workers compensation claims.   Put some teeth in the system – not just a slap on the wrist.

As a consumer, reduced workers compensation costs mean lower prices (or smaller increases).  I am in favor for saving money – what about you?

STAY SAFE!     **  Jeff  **   214-215-2434