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Winter 1999 Volume 4

Feature Articles

By now, you probably think you’ve seen all the “best of the year” polls there are. The best movies. The best songs. The best companies. Well, we have one more for you--the best loss control initiatives undertaken by EMC policyholders during 1998.

Every year, EMC loss control experts work with policyholders to identify problem areas and implement actions to reduce the incidence and severity of losses. This year, the scope of activities included everything from Y2K compliance to material handling and indoor air quality to fleet safety.

“With the medical and legal costs of work site injuries rising, companies are taking a closer look at how they operate,” comments Norm Anderson, VP-Risk Improvement. Norm and other members of the Risk Improvement management team selected the following three stories to demonstrate how companies changed their operations in 1998 to reduce losses in the future.

Improving The Work Flow Improves Productivity
Year after year, a medium-sized but successful trailer manufacturer in northern Iowa has continued to prosper. This prosperity, however, has resulted in a less-than-ideal pattern of growth. Every stage of production is hindered by scattered machinery and assorted interruptions and redundancies.

EMC Risk Improvement professionals started in the welding area and used the input of client employees to redesign the plant. In many ways, it was simply a matter of straightening bends in the process. By allowing for a smooth flow of materials, significant savings in time and costs have already been realized.

Employees Work To Reduce Cumulative Trauma Injuries
When a Chicago company expanded its manufacturing capabilities by building a plant in Texas, it soon discovered a new meaning to the term “growing pains”. The accelerated rate of production at the new facility meant employees were experiencing cumulative trauma from hours of repeating the same task. EMC Risk Improvement professionals acted quickly, meeting with members of employee task forces and representatives from the assembly lines to analyze their jobs and specific high hazard tasks. The purpose was to identify possible changes in operations that could reduce or eliminate hazards.

Approximately 10 employees from the assembly lines attended task force meetings to discuss specific hazards with every workstation on their lines. Time was then spent determining which hazards were most likely to cause serious or numerous injuries. Ideas to reduce these hazards were suggested, discussed and analyzed. The best ideas became formalized and were compiled to create a “Change Proposal” that was presented to upper management. Upper management then implemented many of the operational changes identified in the proposal.

Fleet Safety Is The Key To Success For An Auto Dealer
A common benefit of selling automobiles is the “luxury” of driving the merchandise, however, auto salespeople are not immune from accidents. In fact, in a 14-month period, a large dealership in Chicago reported 648 claims totaling $345,000 (not including claims below their deductible). Recognizing the problem, the dealership asked EMC’s Risk Improvement Department to provide driver training classes. Classes included screening The Blindfold Effect, from EMC’s audio-visual library, as well as discussion and distribution of supportive reading materials. The classes, coordinated with EMC’s Chicago Branch, increased employee awareness and provided valuable tips on how to reverse the trend in claims. Once employees understood the history and severity of the company’s losses, they were more receptive to solving the problem. A total of 282 employees attended the class and drove away with a new respect for driver safety.

For more information about how your organization can benefit from EMC’s expert loss control consultation, call your EMC agent or local branch office.

With the weather warming, everyone is anxious to get back to work. Here are some safety tips for contractors, remodelers and building supervisors to implement before the work gets into full swing this spring.

  • Test, perform routine maintenance on, and wash all equipment prior to start-up operations.
  • Take an inventory of all equipment and materials, reviewing check-in and-out procedures.
  • Create or update job site safety checklists.
  • Organize toolbox talk information, reviewing and enhancing it for job and industry specific topics.
  • Review and update all training materials, including initial job training.
  • Perform sample case study situations with employees to get them “back into the swing of things.”
  • Remind workers to contact utilities prior to excavating and digging.

Taking the preventative steps mentioned above will go a long way to improving the safety of your work sites this spring.

With spring approaching, now is the time to prepare your air conditioning equipment for start-up and trouble free service. A great many air conditioning failures take place at start-up or early in the cooling season because of inoperative controls or safety devices. Many accidents can be prevented if a little more attention is paid to readying the equipment for service.

An air conditioning breakdown can result in business interruption that may far exceed the property damage loss. Compressors, which are particularly prone to breakdown, can cost $10,000 to $20,000 or more. Similarly, replacement refrigerant can total in the thousands.

The failure to properly maintain or operate air conditioning equipment can lead to big losses. For example, a compressor motor burned out at a hotel causing a partial loss of air conditioning during a July convention and resulted in a loss of 50 percent occupancy. Property damage loss totaled $29,512 and business interruption loss totaled $43,854.

Hartford Steam Boiler offers an “Air Conditioning Pre-Season Check-list” that shares tips from equipment specialists. To obtain a free copy call HSB's 24-hour Fax-On-Demand Service (1-800-716-7874) and request document No. 406.

Some Web sites offer you games and entertainment. Some offer you an alternative way to shop. Others try to sell you something with every click you make. EMC’s Web site (, however, is here to help. The site provides you with a world of information about how to reduce the incidence and severity of losses in the workplace.

“Our area was involved in the development of this site from the start,” notes Norm Anderson, EMC Vice President of Risk Improvement. “Since it went online in June, we have been providing up-to-date loss control information to policyholders and agents throughout the country.”

What type of loss control services will you find when you log onto

  • Safety Signs — Order from a selection of more than 800 safety signs for your business direct from EMC. Just click on the Risk Improvement link to see our complete selection of signs. Signs are available free of charge to EMC policyholders.
  • Audio-Visual Catalog — Looking for some training materials about workplace safety? You’ll find EMC’s extensive audio-visual catalog at
  • Loss Control Insights — Miss an issue of Loss Control Insights? No problem. You’ll find copies of all back issues on our Web site.
  • Updated Information — Find new loss control information every time you visit EMC is continually updating the Risk Management page with current information from governmental agencies as well as new services from EMC.
  • Y2K Updates — Look for information about Y2K compliance at

In addition to Risk Improvement information, is a valuable source of information for the general public and agents as well. You’ll find information about EMC’s management and history, as well as its products and services.

We hope you’ll visit us at our new address — It’s a simple and easy way to put our expertise to work for you.

“The statistical analysis performed has proven to be of great value in showing trends. EMC has done a commendable job for us in our efforts to reduce losses.”

Supervisor of Safety, Large School District

“Your engineer is a valuable asset for our company. We need him, want him and value him for our revitalized safety and health program.”

Manager of Safety, Metal Manufacturer

“The reports your staff provided were very thorough and thoughtful.”

Human Resource Manager, Sign Manufacturer

“It was very apparent you have a wealth of knowledge pertaining to OSHA and ergonomics. We appreciated your willingness to share this information with us.”

VP Distribution, Grocery Chain

“Your people took the time to learn what we do, how we do it, and never looked at their watch to see if it was time to leave. Our success is a partnership with many. This includes our insurance company!”

CEO, Manufacturer

“I have worked with a few different insurance companies, and I would rate EMC and everyone with EMC well above the others. Thank you.”

Safety Director, Natural Gas Pipeline

Chances are your company has invested sufficient time and money to make you computer systems Y2K compliant. But what about your phones? Your elevators? Your security systems? Even your heating system?

The Year 2000 computer problem affects more than just computers. It may affect your safety, the safety of your clients/tenants and the operation of your organization. Virtually every electronic device is capable of having problems due to embedded systems.

Why the concern about embedded systems?

Embedded systems consist of electronic chips that are programmed at factories and found in just about everything from power plants to VCRs. No one knows for certain if they will work past the year 2000.

Many of these systems may be date sensitive and are likely to respond erroneously to the date transition from 99 to 00. This could result in systems shutting down or malfunctioning (disarmed alarms, false alarms, doors locked/unlocked, heat off, lights out, etc.). All electronic devices must be checked to see if they use or are impacted by these chips or by another system that uses a date function. A few examples of devices that may be impacted by an embedded microprocessor date problem include:

  • PC controlled equipment
  • Fire alarm systems
  • Security systems
  • HVAC systems
  • Process control systems
  • Traffic control systems
  • Metering systems
  • Bar code readers
  • Point-of-sale systems
  • ATM machines

Ask yourself these questions about your office and business equipment

  • Do you know if your building fire and security alarm systems are Year 2000 compliant?
  • Do you know if your elevators, HVAC and process control systems will work in the year 2000?
  • How will your building security and operations be impacted if one or more critical systems doesn't work?

What To Do

  • First, determine which systems are most critical to safety, security and operations.
  • For the critical items, check with the manufacturers and service providers to determine if your company has a problem.
  • Fix or repair critical systems as needed.
  • Check with business associates to make certain they are doing the same.

Like the overall Y2K issue, the portion involving embedded systems is full of uncertainty. No one can say for certain how many embedded systems exist and how many will fail come 1000. Like the Y2K software issue, the embedded system issue deserves your prompt attention. Remember, it's less than 10 months away to the year 2000!

On December 1, 1998, OSHA finalized its updated forklift training requirements in the Federal Register. The new requirement includes 22 specific topics that are to be addressed in training such as vehicle stability, operation, limitations, refueling and material handling. The standard goes into full effect on March 1, 1999. See our Web site or contact your local EMC Loss Control Representative.

OSHA plans to develop several major regulations that will have an impact on a broad range of employers. Leading the agenda are an ergonomics standard and a safety and health program rule.

Low-priced torchiere-style halogen lamps consume high levels of energy and operate at high temperatures, posing a fire hazard. According to industry estimates, approximately 15 million of these lamps are sold each year!