Winter 2002 Volume 15
What are the chances that one of your employees will take a workplace fall this year; a fall that could easily result in back injury, insurance claims, lost time and possible litigation? According to the National Safety Council, the chances are fairly good. Falls account for approximately 16.9 percent of workplace accidents that result in injuries or illness with time away from work. As a matter of fact, workplace falls are second only to overexertion injuries which account for about 27.4 percent of workplace injuries.
Although there are those who think some accidents just cannot be prevented, EMC’s loss control representatives believe there is no such thing as a nonpreventable accident. “That's especially true of falls and slips,” comments Norm Anderson, Vice President-Risk Improvement. “Based on our reviews, most falls and slips are caused by an unsafe act or condition that, when left uncontrolled, results in the accident. Eliminate these hazards and you prevent the accident.”
Fortunately, the hazards that cause falls and slips are easy to spot and even easier to control.
- Make it a policy to have employees report spills and assign responsibility for cleaning spills as quickly as possible.
- Post signs for slippery surfaces, even if they will be cleaned up in a short time. (These signs can be ordered through the Loss Control portion of EMC’s website.)
- Fix leaky equipment to prevent liquids from accumulating on the floor.
- Provide an adequate supply of weather mats during inclement weather, and keep mats as dry as possible.
- Inspect hazard areas on a regular basis.
- Maintain wide and\ clear walkways by eliminating temporary storage, closing drawers and cabinets, securing loose cables and cords, and keeping rugs and mats flat and secure.
- Mark the floor for any severe or unexpected changes in elevation.
- Replace burned-out lights and brighten dark areas.
- Provide and encourage employees to use appropriate climbing devices (ladders, lifts, stepladders, etc.) at all times, and be certain that such devices are in working order.
In addition to the actions your housekeeping and maintenance crews can take to eliminate hazards, each employee can take personal responsibility for their safety, as well, by wearing sensible and appropriate footwear, not rushing from one area to another and being attentive to their surroundings.
According to Anderson,eliminating hazards could impact more than your safety record. “It could very well impact your bottom line.” A death resulting from a fall can be a large liability. A back strain injury resulting from a slip and fall can easily result in medical bills of over $25,000. The accidental fall can also result in additional production costs, lost income for the injured person, possible OSHA fines and legal costs.“By adopting the simple measures noted in this story, you should see a significant reduction in the instances of slips, trips and fall accidents, while providing a safe work environment for all employees.”
Under the new OSHA 300 record-keeping rule, the following treatments are considered first aid, and therefore are not recordable.
- Using a nonprescription medication at nonprescription strength.
- Tetanus immunizations.
- Cleaning, flushing or soaking wounds on the surface of the skin.
- Using Band-Aids?, gauze pads, butterfly bandages, Steri-Strips?,.
- Using nonrigid means of support, such as elastic bandages and wraps.
- Use of hot or cold therapy.
- Drinking fluids for relief of heat stress.
- Use of finger guards.
- Temporary immobilization devices while transporting a victim.
- Drilling of a fingernail or toenail to relieve pressure, or draining fluid from a blister.
- Using an eye patch.
- Removing foreign bodies from the eye with irrigation or cotton swab.
- Removing splinters or foreign material from areas other than the eye by irrigation, tweezers, cotton swab or simple means.
The list above is all-inclusive. Anything outside of what is noted is not considered first aid by OSHA.
Labor Secretary Elaine L. Chao announced a new model to assist employers and employees in dealing with possible workplace exposures to anthrax in mail-handling operations. The Anthrax Matrix guides employers in assessing risk to their workers, providing appropriate protective equipment and specifying safe work practices for low, medium and high risk levels in the workplace.
“Most employers and employees face little or no risk of exposure to anthrax and need only minimal precautions,” Chao said. “But some may have to deal with potential or known exposures, and we want to make sure they have all possible information available to protect Americans at their workplace.”
John L. Henshaw, assistant secretary of labor for OSHA said, “OSHA's role remains the same - assuring the safety and health of America's workers — but the paradigm has shifted. We must shift with it to provide the best possible guidance to help employers and employees address new threats.” The Anthrax Matrix, shaped like a pyramid, includes three sections: green for low, yellow for medium and red for high risk of exposure. Each section links to useful information and practical guidance to help determine an appropriate response.
The Matrix is available on OSHA’s website at www.osha.gov. There is also general information on anthrax and mail-handling procedures on the agency’s website.
Just like winter driving, safe winter walking requires “defensive skills” to reduce the likelihood of injury. Here are some tips to keep your employees on their feet all season long.
- Don’t allow plowed snow to remain in parking lots or near sidewalks long after most snow has melted.
- Remove snow and ice after the application of salt.
- Poor snow removal will hide defective conditions of walk-way areas, doubling hazards.
- Do not allow ice to accumulate on parking lots.
Despite the measures taken to reduce slips and falls, the possibility for injury still exists. Yet, there is a right way to fall that could reduce the severity of injury. When you feel yourself falling, tuck your chin in, turn your head, and throw an arm up. Remember, it’s always better to land on your arm than on your head.
Employers with more than 10 employees now have a new system for tracking workplace injuries and illnesses — OSHA’s 300 recordkeeping rule (OSHA 29 CFR 1904). The revised rule took effect January 1, 2002, except for provisions covering hearing loss and musculoskeletal disorders, which OSHA is delaying until January, 2003.
The new rule, which affects approximately 1.4 million establishments nationwide, has been designed to improve employee involvement, provide greater employee privacy protection, create simpler forms, provide clearer regulatory requirements and allow more flexibility to use computers to meet OSHA regulatory requirements.
Following is a brief summary of key provisions of the new rule:
- Updates three recordkeeping forms — OSHA Form 300 (Log of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses); OSHA Form 301 (Injury and Illness Incident Report); OSHA Form 300A (Summary of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses).
- Continues to exempt smaller employers (with 10 or fewer employees) from most requirements.
- Changes the exemptions for employers in services and retail industries.
- Clarifies the definition of work-relationship, limiting the recording of preexisting cases and adding new exceptions for some categories of injury and illness.
- Includes new definitions of medical treatment,first aid and restricted work to simplify recording decisions.
- Eliminates different criteria for recording work-related injuries and work-related diseases.
- Changes the recording of needle-stick injuries and tuberculosis.
- Simplifies the counting of days away from work, restricted days and job transfer.
- Improves employee involvement and provides employees and their representatives with access to the information.
- Protects privacy of injured and all other workers.
The full text of the new rule is available on-line by searching the index on OSHA’s website at www.osha.gov.
UPDATE: ONLINE LOSS PREVENTION INFORMATION MANUAL
Six new sections of the Loss Prevention Information Manual have been added to our website. See our Policyholder Information & Resources page.
SPANISH INDEX OF SAFETY TALKS NOW ONLINE
An index of fleet and general safety talks is now available to order online in Spanish. Order your supply for your next meeting or mailing. See our Policyholder Information & Resources page.
DON’T FORGET TO POST YOUR OSHA 200 SUMMARY
Post your summary of OSHA 200 reports from February 1 to February 28. Be sure to read the article on the back page about new OSHA recordkeeping rules.
STEEL ERECTION STANDARD TAKES EFFECT JANUARY 18
OSHA's new rule on steel erection is expected to prevent 30 fatalities and 1,142 injuries annually. For complete information about this standard, visit www.osha.gov.