How to decrease workplace incidents

The only way to decrease incidents in the workplace is to be proactive with prevention. As the ancient proverb goes; 

"An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure." 

While there are many ways to be proactive, you will need to be consistent and communicate expectations clearly when implementing proactive measures. Review the following list of safety suggestions as a guide to starting your system of incident prevention.

1. Formalize safety policies and procedures. 

Create a safety handbook that lists out the steps that must take place to prevent incidents in the workplace. Include instructions for;

  1. Storing dangerous and toxic items
  2. Pre-use equipment inspections
  3. Safe work procedures
  4. Pre-work safety inspections
  5. Near-miss or close call incident reporting
  6. Schedule for regular safety briefings, toolbox talks
  7. Substance abuse program
  8. Safety performance reviews

Check out this on-demand webinar on creating a safety culture of excellence to start this process off right!

2. Make someone accountable for safety. 

Discuss the current safety policies with your safety coordinator, and work on a plan to ensure buy-in and compliance. Confirm that the safety coordinator is aware of all the responsibilities connected with safety. Let your support be known to this person and decide to discuss concerns and solutions to further incident prevention monthly.

3. Communicate expectations for a safe work environment. 

Let staff know regularly that safety is a significant concern. Do this verbally but reiterate expectations in a documented form. Post this safety information throughout your workplace.

Words are one thing, actions speak louder. If a safety hazard is encountered, move quickly to remedy it. Waiting too long only increased the chance of an incident. It won't correct itself and don't assume that someone else will correct it.

Ask employees for suggestions about improving workplace safety. One safety coordinator is surely helpful, but a handful of lookouts is always preferable. Collect anonymous input from employees which they can fill out at their discretion.

4. Regularly inspect your facility with your safety coordinator. 

Make sure that your team is following safety policies at work. Check areas that are of concern to observe safety guidelines being met. If you observe something non-compliance, document it and bring it up with the safety coordinator as soon as possible. Plan a meeting with all the staff to communicate the concern further and ensure that it does not happen again.

5. Provide the right tools so there is no need to improvise. 

Asking employees to improvise shows that your actions don't match your words and signals that you don't take safety seriously.

For example, if you use a storage area with high shelving, supply a safe ladder or step-stool so that staff are not forced to climb on boxes to retrieve items.

6. Schedule reviews of all risky scenarios.

Scenario reviews should involve examples using mechanical equipment and tools if available. The type of exercise will depend on the kind of operation. Some operations such as restaurants and warehouse facilities will have different scenarios than construction.

Schedule these reviews in new employee orientation and revisit them regularly. Workers will be reassured knowing that the company takes their health and safety seriously.

7. Monitor these eight metrics

What kinds of metrics can you start tracking that could make the most significant impact on your incident rate?

Here are eight safety metrics your safety department should be reporting on each month.

  1. Toolbox talks frequency
  2. Worker Participation
  3. Safety Program Performance Reviews
  4. Corrective Action Completion Velocity
  5. Employee Training
  6. Non-compliant PPE Use
  7. Incidents and Near Misses
  8. Safety Program Goal Setting

See this article for more details on each of these safety metrics. 

Specific Policies

1. Be prepared if there's a fire in your workplace. 

Fires can be devastating events, putting many companies in jeopardy. Assure that your workplace is adequately protected against the possibility of fire to cut down on incidents: Make sure smoke detectors are installed and have batteries.

  • Make sure that fire extinguishers are present, adequately charged, and recently inspected. If needed, ask your fire department to train you on how to inspect and use a fire extinguisher properly. Read this post for some tips.
  • Plan and post your escape routes. Know where the nearest exits are and how people can access them posthaste.

 

2. Invest in first-aid training and a first aid kit. 

First-aid training won't reduce incidents from happening, however, it would help reduce the severity of any injuries that happen during an incident.

Invest in first-aid kits for each space of your workplace. Place it in an easily accessible location that all of your workers can see.

3. Investigate each incident after it occurs. 

If an incident occurs in your workplace, write up an incident report. Investigate what happened and document the following:

  • the names and positions of the people involved
  • the names of any witnesses
  • the exact location or address of the incident
  • the exact time and date of the occurrence
  • a detailed and precise description of what exactly happened
  • a description of the injuries

 

An incident investigation must be comprehensive and include all information making it crucial to start writing the report as soon as possible. The longer you wait, the more difficult it can be to document the details of the incident accurately. It's best to do the write-up when everyone's memory of the incident is still fresh.

Here is a post with seven essential elements of an incident report.

4. Workplace entrances and exits are fully operational and easily accessible. 

If your employees need to promptly get out of the building, make sure that there aren't objects blocking their exits. Sometimes in emergencies, everyone needs to evacuate as fast as possible. The site should be well-mapped, and evacuation routes clearly defined. As with any home, business, or organization, there needs to be;

  • A procedure for evacuating 
  • A location for where to meet 
  • A person who is responsible for ensuring everyone arrived.

 

These need to be known to all employees and reviewed regularly.

5. Mark potential safety concerns with the proper signage and instructions. 

If an electrician is rewiring an area of the workplace, or if a crew is doing construction on a railing piece, inform your employees and place an appropriate, visible sign near where the potential hazard could occur. Don't assume that people will act accordingly. Spell it out for them very clearly.

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Each incident is different, and there are too many variables to account for every possibility. A reliable and up-to-date safety process tailored to your workplace will be crucial.

While you can't think of everything, you can cover a lot. Talk to one of our experts on how you can quickly get your safety program running and complaint to COR or OSHA in just days.

 

How to implement Behaviour Based Safety

Ask any safety professional if they've heard of the term behavior-based safety, and chances are high they'll answer you with a resounding YES! Follow that up with whether or not they have successfully implemented it, and the answers become unpredictable.

The theory of behavior-based safety, which Dr. Scott Geller has coined through his research about applied behavioral science, is sound. In an ideal world, this would be what everyone has implemented throughout their workforce. If the outcome is to protect workers, assets, productivity, and the companies' reputation, this empathetic and humanistic approach to implementing safety is the only way to achieve it.  

So why aren't we all using it? The simple answer is there is a missing link to insights into how safety is viewed and performed in the field. The majority of companies that operate in risky environments still use paper processes to collect their field-level data from the workforce, and workers view these as liability waivers. Using paper to gather data leaves us in a position of unknowns. We don't know when the document was filled out or where it was initially completed. We've heard stories coming from safety managers, where their workers all gathered at the bar on Fridays after work and filled out the safety forms for the past week at that time. Retroactive form submissions are great for a compliance audit, but they bring no value to the company's bottom line.

Before we can even think about implementing behavior-based safety systems, we first need to understand how the workforce views your current safety system. 

  • Do they feel like it is antiquated and irrelevant, delivering little to no value to their day-to-day jobs? 
  • Perhaps they feel like they spend all of this time writing out daily hazard assessments, where these papers get placed into file cabinets with no review or feedback?  

 

When we have a baseline of what's happening throughout the workforce, improvements can be set and measured. For this to happen, measuring behavior and connecting it to some goals must be put into place. Due to the nature of paper being private, offline, and impossible to access rich information, we recommend that the first step to getting a behavior-based safety system off the ground is to set up a digital method to collect your field-level safety forms. You can start collecting this information with our entry-level digital forms system. Talk to one of our experts to get set up in less than an hour.

Once a digital method has been put in place, set up a review period to ensure this new data collection is put to good use. Data points of interest can be:

  1. The median time of first safety form submission
  2. Number of safety form submissions per worker
  3. The ratio of submissions between staff and contractors
  4. Number of created actions items
  5. Number of closed action items
  6. Number of overdue action items
  7. Average time for action item completion
  8. The percentage of workers who are actively engaged in safety
  9. How many mandatory reading elements were sent out, read, and signed off on
  10. Sentiment analysis on how your workers view safety

These are all data points that our system passively collects as workers engage in safety.

After you have your data collection under control, start performing regular safety tour inspections. These types of inspections are high-level and allow you and your leadership team to observe, without prejudice, how your workers are actively performing safety. The inspection details can look something like the following;

  1. What percentage of employees per area were able to meet and discuss safety during the tour?
  2. What number of safety suggestions were received from employees?
  3. How many safety assessments were completed and available for review?
  4. At a glance, how many available safety assessments looked complete enough to appear like they were adequate? 
  5. What percentage of employees sampled demonstrated evidence of related training for their task?
  6. Rate the housekeeping condition of the areas toured.
  7. What percentage of employees implemented and adhered to hazard control measures?
  8. What percentage of employees observed wore their PPE?

These questions are all subjective and based on the individual's feelings, but it highlights what's important to them, as leaders, concerning safety. Use these reports in your regular review process to see what your leadership team cares about and create actions to remedy their concerns, highlighted by the lower scores on the safety tour report card.

These types of safety tours send a couple of signals to the workforce.

  1. Investments are happening for safety at their company.
  2. Safety matters to the leadership team.
  3. You're listening to the worker's voices.

These signals are powerful when attempting to implement Behaviour Based Safety. This is primarily due to the change in the narrative of "Do as I say, not as I do."

Behavior-based safety is more of a holistic approach to implementing safety rather than a compliance or regulation approach. The outcomes are far easier to achieve when you have an entire workforce all reaching for the same goals instead of the work of a single safety manager attempting to stay compliant.





Safety Data Metrics

8 safety metrics you need to track every month

Today more and more organizations are looking deeply into data to uncover new safety insights and make better-informed decisions. With so much data easily obtainable, building out your reporting dashboard from scratch can seem daunting.  Where do you even start? Which key performance indicators (KPI) are most significant to track? 

Think about the outcomes that you are looking to achieve while answering the above questions. Typically the only metric that matters is incident rates. While you already track this internally, it's already reported to insurance. That makes this metric well known and easily accessible. So, what kinds of metrics can you start tracking that could make the most significant impact on your incident rate?

In this article, we cover the eight safety metrics your safety department should be reporting on each month.

1. Toolbox talks frequency

Toolbox talks are something that every worker has done. Some call them safety meetings or safety briefs. These meetings typically last around 10 to 20 mins and either summarizes hazards and controls that exist on-site, cover a specific safety topic, or review near misses that were submitted. 

The frequency of these talks has a direct impact on incidents. Data shows that in companies that perform daily safety toolbox talks, there has been an 85% decrease in total recordable incident rates, TRIR. 

Starting each day with a toolbox safety talk reinforces those general safe work expectations and obligations and, more importantly, demonstrates to the workforce the importance of putting safety first each day. 

You can learn all about Toolbox talks and how to conduct them in our Ultimate Guide to Toolbox Talks. 

2. Worker Participation

To prevent incidents, every member of your organization needs to be involved and actively participating in your safety program. That means every team member at every level must know what the company's safety goals are so they can contribute adequately. When measuring worker participation, a few key safety metrics to track each month include:

  • Number of safety meetings attended
  • Amount of training courses completed
  • Total inspections conducted and submitted
  • Completed corrective actions

 

3. Safety Program Performance Reviews

Safety program performance reviews should be completed with all workers twice per year, and they are a way to create accountability for the workers. They also allow management to review what is working, and more importantly, what isn't working. Understanding where safety is breaking down is an essential part of implementing a thriving safety culture. 

Reviewing how many incidents took place, how many near-misses were submitted, and what survey results from field staff look like highlights overall workforce engagement. 

All of these are key and need to be reviewed regularly with your workers.

4. Corrective Action Completion Velocity 

Knowing how many corrective actions are created and closed in a month is fantastic but doesn't show a complete picture. Do you have aging corrective actions that have been open for weeks or months? 

The corrective action process is a vital process that affects all control points in a company's safety program. Measuring the average time to complete corrective action items can expose potential flaws in every step of a corrective action process. From being issued to acknowledging receipt, follow up, completion, and verification.

If any of these steps is weak, it will show in this metric.

5. Employee Training

Tracking employee training records can seem tiresome, but it's one of the essential safety metrics to track each month. Stay on top of which members of your team have valid training certificates, which ones will expire, and how many expired tickets there are shows you're taking a proactive approach to workplace safety and can help you stay compliant.

6. Non-compliant PPE Use

The use of PPE can be monitored through regular safety audits of workers in the field. Send your safety staff to the field to log observations of proper and improper PPE usage. Track how many observations were made each month and how many of those observations were deemed unsatisfactory.

Take steps to improve this ratio and improve your score, be sure to regularly present these numbers to all of your staff. It's essential not to use this to place blame, but keep it higher level so your workforce can see how important it is to you.

7. Incidents and Near Misses

Usually, organizations focus most of their reporting on lagging indicators, like incidents (TRIR and DART) and near misses. Measuring these kinds of lagging indicators tells us how we've been doing and provides a solid foundation to build on. Once you've established your baseline, you can then contemplate putting checks in place to improve these key safety metrics.

8. Safety Program Goal Setting

Implementing a directed process to evaluate safety program needs and establish safety goals leads to a 48% reduction in TRIR and a 50% reduction in DART.

  • Action plans developed and documented
  • Progress tracked and reported 
  • The CEO works with staff to review goals, plans and reports and to provide direction
  • Action plans evaluated for effectiveness 

 

Measure how many of your workers set a safety goal every month. You do not measure their goal specifically, just whether or not they set one. The simple act of a worker having to think of a goal, decide what to measure, and decide if it was achieved or has failed is enough to gain all of this metric's incident reducing benefits.

 

Now that you have a more reliable idea of the safety metrics to track each month, watch this webinar to learn about creating a safety culture of excellence, highlighting the importance of 8 leading indicators.



Paying Attention to Employee burnout

Paying Attention to Employee burnout

Employee burnout has been a subject of debate for years. In 2019 WHO updated its definition of Burnout to be “a syndrome conceptualized as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed.” 

It is characterized by three dimensions:

  • feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion;
  • increased mental distance from one’s job, or feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one's job; and
  • reduced professional efficacy.

 

Although burnout is typically associated with medical professionals, first responders, and business executives, it can actually show up in any profession. Employee burnout can stem from working in isolation, balancing household and work challenges all at once, or trying not to appear “weak”. 

Identifying Employee Burnout

Expecting employees to convey burnout may be optimistic. Many are not content speaking about what they think is a personal difficult, especially when they might "just be thankful they have a job."

Only a small number of employees confided about their mental health to HR for fear of being perceived as unproductive or losing their jobs.

But if organizations keep their ear to the ground, they will find trouble brewing among employees and can mitigate any risks that show up when not addressed properly. 

This would be a great topic to address in a toolbox talk. An open discussion on how workers are handling workplace tasks on a regular basis helps alleviate the stress being placed on performance. 

The Mayo Clinic suggests these questions be asked to find out potential employee burn out: 

  • Have you become cynical or critical at work?
  • Do you drag yourself to work and have trouble getting started?
  • Have you become irritable or impatient with co-workers, customers or clients?
  • Do you lack the energy to be consistently productive?
  • Do you find it hard to concentrate?
  • Do you lack satisfaction from your achievements?
  • Do you feel disillusioned about your job?
  • Are you using food, drugs or alcohol to feel better or to simply not feel?
  • Have your sleep habits changed?

 

Statics have shown 23% of workers have felt burned out more often than not while an additional 44% reported feeling burned out sometimes.  

Although there are no OSHA regulations around employee burnout or policies for dealing with workers affected by burnout, studies suggest that employee burnout has the potential to impact many aspects of work performance and safety. 

Burnout employees have less awareness of their surroundings and struggle to maintain workplace safety practices. This can result in 

  • Misusing equipment
  • Delaying emergency responses
  • Poor driving
  • Employee fighting
  • Issues caused by getting behind on work-related tasks.

 

If left unaddressed, a burned-out employee has the potential to be an unsafe worker which could lead to a workplace accident that affects other employees who suffer injuries.

How You Can Support Burned-out Employees

Organizations that have managed to stay on top of things identified this and began reinforcing vacations to combat burnout, amongst other measures such as:

  1. Add a day off to a long weekend. Ask your employees to take Friday off before a long weekend, specifically to address burnout. 
  2. Ask employees to share leaves with their co-workers. This can come as a relief to many employees anxious about the pandemic and its impact on their health.
  3. If it's too much, try different innovations in small groups. Like Friday afternoons off. It can help to take a break and refresh over the weekend. Such a benefit once or twice a month can help employees recharge and stay productive and focused.
  4. Assist employees with childcare challenges. Parents will now be dealing with children returning to the virtual classroom. Incorporate things like a flexible schedule, a compressed workweek, leaves, and protected time where they are not interrupted by their co-workers.

What works for other organizations may not work for yours and vice versa. It's time to open up the conversation and learn the difficulties employees have to manage. Offering support for their most pressing challenges and dealing with mental health concerns is the only meaningful way to support them.

 

 

electrical safety worker down live wire

Professional Electrical Safety Tips for Home and Business

Safety at home and in the workplace starts with personal education. Whether you’re a homeowner or a construction foreman, it’s essential to identify and mitigate the risks in your environment.

We’ve covered safety in several scenarios, but electrical safety is something that plays a part in all of them.

Electricity is notoriously dangerous

Electricity is an incredibly powerful force—it’s a miracle of the modern age, and plays a part in all of our daily lives. But it has the power to be extremely dangerous if not treated with the proper level of respect.

Many people don’t consider the level of electricity in their household to be as dangerous as the levels that commonly occur at large industrial worksites. In reality, a broken lightbulb or faulty wire has enough power to stop your heart. A small lamp or power tool that isn’t functioning correctly has the same killing capability as any other source of electricity.

While it’s true that a higher voltage can do more damage, electrical hazards should be treated with the same gravity regardless of where they occur. According to a report by the CDC, an average of 411 people die every year in the U.S. from electrocution. Thousands experience electrical shocks, and many end up visiting the hospital to treat electrical burns and aftereffects.  

Knowing how to assess and mitigate the risks associated with electricity is essential in any setting. Keep reading to learn more about electrical safety!

These electrical safety tips can help

The following electrical safety tips are great for both your home and your business:

Respect outlet capabilities

Most of us have seen those cringeworthy overloaded outlets that scream “fire hazard!” However, people continue to overload their outlets convincing themselves that they have some leeway. In reality, half of U.S. homes are more than 30 years old, meaning that it may not be able to handle even a normal electrical load.

The same can be said for older commercial buildings. Always have a professional inspect the electrical system to make sure that it’s up to code prior to plugging anything in. Inspections are usually done as a part of the initial property inspection. If an outlet isn’t capable of handling even the average wattage, then it needs to be updated. If left alone, heavy equipment or even your high-tech entertainment system can trip the electrical circuit breaker or lead to an electrical fire.

We also have a crucial tip for parents of young children. Put safety caps on all unused electrical outlets! Little ones like to poke things into small holes.

Know how to tell if something is grounded

Grounding allows a rogue electric current to run into the ground instead of causing problems in your home or at your worksite. To check for grounding, look for that third hole in the bottom of your electrical outlets. If you still aren’t sure, you can check for the presence of copper wires attached to a central location in your main electrical box.

Before starting work at any location, check for grounding and identify any areas that may pose an electrical risk. When in doubt, contact a professional.

Always notify workers of live wires

As a foreman, supervisor, or property owner, you have a legal and moral obligation to the safety of anyone working for you. Always inspect the property or area with a professional before asking anyone to start a project or their workday. If there are any exposed live wires, they need to be clearly marked, and workers should be aware of electrical safety procedures.

Even confident electricians take additional precautions when working in an area that may be unstable. If there’s a chance of electrocution or workers need to do something in that area, make sure that the electricity to that wire is cut off.

Listen for warning sounds

You shouldn’t be able to hear electricity. If you hear a hum or a strange noise when you plug things in, then it may indicate that there’s an electrical problem. If you have an electrician employed, it’s a good idea to have them listen and decide how to approach the problem.

If the issue is happening at your personal property, unplug all power cords from that outlet (as long as you can do so safely) and call in a professional. It may also be a good idea to cut electricity to that part of your home or business until you can get it looked at.

Properly inspect equipment

Those orange or yellow “last inspected” tags on your heavy equipment aren’t there for decoration! As a rule of thumb, you should be giving the equipment a cursory inspection prior to each use.

An in-depth electrical inspection should occur once a year at the very least; many manufacturers recommend more frequent professional inspections. These should always be noted to prevent incidents and for insurance purposes.

If the cord or area is wet, don’t touch them!

We’ve touched on this before, but it can’t be emphasized enough. Always avoid plugging things in or working in areas where outlets are exposed to any kind of moisture. Water conducts electricity very easily, and all it takes is one frayed wire to create an incredibly hazardous situation. Pay attention to the location of leaks, and include electrical safety precautions when developing spill response procedures.

electrical safety overloaded outlet

Warning signs of an electrical problem

It’s essential to note of any electrical warning signs. Knowing what to look for can prevent tragedy and create a safer environment at every level. If you or your workers notice any of the following, call in a professional electrician immediately:

  • Exposed or frayed wires

  • Standing water or moisture gathered around outlets

  • A strong odor of smoke or burning plastic

  • Visible smoke or flames

  • Flickering lights

  • Unstable outlets

  • A hum or whine when plugging electrical appliances in

  • Outlets clogged by dust or covered

Remember to keep an inspected fire extinguisher on hand, and always include electrical precautions in safety training sessions.

 

electrical safety frayed wires

Safety management systems can help track hazards.

Safety management software is proving its usefulness across multiple industries and in different settings. It can help track hazards and establish appropriate procedures to ensure safety around electrical equipment in many different contexts.

If you have questions or would like more information on ways to create a safer workplace, reach out to the experts at SafetyTek. You can also find us on social media, or join the conversation below!