Spring 2005 Volume 27

Feature Articles

Business Continuity Plans Feature Articles

According to a recent study, 44 percent of businesses fail to open after a fire. That was not the case for an Iowa manufacturer that managed to cut their losses in half and eliminate any downtime following a major fire. What made the difference? A business continuity plan.

How quickly your company can get back to business after a terrorist attack, tornado, fire or power outage often depends on business continuity planning done today. Essentially, a business continuity plan provides for the continued operation of a company’s critical functions in the event of any type and magnitude of disaster. Without such a plan, your business could suffer significant losses, including revenue, customers, market share and reputation.

Whether it's consulting with an EMC risk improvement representative or using the Open for Business kit from the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety, your business continuity plan should address the following areas.

Assess How Your Company Functions

Determine which staff, materials, procedures and equipment are absolutely necessary to keep the business operating.

  • Identify operations critical to survival and recovery.
  • Include emergency payroll, expedited financial decision-making and accounting systems to track and document costs in the event of a disaster.
  • Establish procedures for succession of management.

Identify Your Resources

Make a detailed list of the suppliers, shippers and other businesses you must interact with on a daily basis.

  • Develop relationships with more than one company to use in case your primary contractor cannot service your needs.
  • Create a contact list for existing critical business contractors and others you plan to use in an emergency.

Plan For Not Having Access To Your Building

  • Consider if you can operate your business from a different location.
  • Develop relationships with other companies to use their facilities in case a disaster makes your location unusable.

Determine Your Emergency Plan Team

  • Include co-workers from all levels as active members of the team.
  • Include a broad cross-section of people from your organization, but focus on those with expertise vital to daily business functions.

Define Crisis Management Procedures And Responsibilities

Don’t react to emergency situations, have a plan in place that assures that those involved know what they are supposed to do in the event of a disaster.

Coordinate With Others

Surviving a disaster of any magnitude will require the cooperation of many different organizations.

  • Meet with other businesses in your building or industrial complex.
  • Talk with first responders, emergency managers, community organizations and utility providers.
  • Plan with your suppliers, shippers and others you regularly do business with.
  • Share your plans and encourage other businesses to set in motion their own continuity planning and offer to help.

Review Your Plan Annually

Just as your business changes over time, so do your preparedness needs. When you hire new employees, expand your facilities, purchase new equipment or when there are changes in how your company functions, you should update your business continuity plan and inform those involved in making that plan work.

It Can Happen To You

Approximately one in five businesses suffer a major disruption every year. Your choice is simple, wait for it to happen and suffer the consequences or plan for it to happen and come out on top. Effective business continuity planning is a proven way your business can handle anything that gets thrown its way.

Want to Know More?

The following organizations can provide you with additional information about business continuity plans.

What should you ask your insurance representative following disasters?

  • What coverage do I presently have?
  • Should I make temporary repairs and begin the clean-up process?
  • Should I look for another facility in which to run my business?
  • Who is my adjuster and when will I be contacted?
  • Should I begin the inventory process, and what is needed in terms of verification for my claim.
  • If I do not have any property damage, but have lost revenue, can I claim that?
  • I had to close my business due to orders of civil authorities. Can I make a claim for the revenue I lost during this time?

Have this list handy when you first make contact with EMC to avoid multiple follow-up calls.

Other Topics

In many instances, the value of real estate or the desire to place equipment out of sight leads facilities to place an array of HVAC equipment on the roof. This rooftop equipment presents maintenance and engineering managers and technicians with unique challenges, primarily related to weather and access.

The first priority for managers is to ensure correct installation and operation. Improper installation and start-up can result in early failure and additional maintenance throughout the life of the equipment. Beyond installation, preventive maintenance is essential. All rooftop equipment needs routine maintenance of varying degrees. Here are some basic tips courtesy of FacilitiesNet:

  • Fans — A typical fan requires a belt adjustment and a check on pulley alignment three weeks after start-up and then every three months. Ongoing maintenance includes checking dampers and actuators for operability every three to six months.
  • Air-handling units — An annual inspection of air-handling units should consist of inspecting the casing, cleaning the fan wheels and shafts, inspecting drain pans and lines, checking damper linkages and set screws, and cleaning damper operators.
  • Chillers and condensers — If a chiller barrel is subject to freezing, technicians should insulate and heat-trace the unit, or they should add a mixture of glycol to the chilled water. They also should check the heat trace or glycol mixture seasonally.
  • Cooling towers — Upon initial installation of cooling towers, workers should inspect them for unobstructed airflow around the tower, as well as for adequate freeze protection for the sump, make-up lines, overflow lines, and other exposed water lines that do not drain at shutdown.

Managers can extend the performance life of rooftop HVAC equipment by establishing a specific checklist and schedule for each specific piece of equipment. A comprehensive preventive maintenance plan is key to equipment longevity and addressing problems while they are small.

For a complete copy of “Top-Level HVAC Maintenance,” visit www.facilitiesnet.com.

Worker Safety
To maintain worker safety during maintenance of rooftop equipment, managers should consider these suggestions in developing a safety plan:
  • Make certain a power disconnect is within eyesight of equipment served.
  • Install guard rails and platforms where regular maintenance is required but cannot be performed while standing on the roof.
  • Mark trip hazards — such as expansion joints, vents and pipes — that cross the roof.
  • Build walkways over trip hazards in areas of consistent foot traffic to allow for easier movement of workers, materials and tools.
  • Provide adequate lighting around rooftop equipment.

Before your tractor-trailers hit the road, make certain your drivers complete the pre-trip vehicle inspection to the right. Without question, this is one of the most important steps in reducing the likelihood of highway accidents.

STEP 1 When approaching the vehicle, note its general condition. Look for water, fuel or lubricant leaks under the vehicle.
STEP 2 Check water and crankcase levels.
STEP 3 Check fan and compressor belts for cracks and excessive slack and wear.
STEP 4 Note general condition of engine space.
STEP 5 Start engine and set it at fast idle for warm-up.
STEP 6 Check for abnormal engine noise.
STEP 7 Check gauges for normal readings.
STEP 8 Check emergency equipment, including horn(s), windshield wipers and four-way flashers.
STEP 9 Check steering wheel action.
STEP 10 Check headlights and turn signals from outside the cab. Be sure to check both beams on headlights.
STEP 11 Check front clearance and identification lights.
STEP 12 Check left and right front wheels, tires, lugs or studs. Look for leaks around the hub.
STEP 13 Check right side of cab, including cab door, mirrors, lights and reflectors.
STEP 14 Check right rear tractor tires, wheels, lugs or studs. Note any thrown lubricant.
STEP 15 Check trailer light and brake lines for secure connections. Be sure manual petcocks are open.
STEP 16 Check hook-up, fifth-wheel, jaws, release lever on tractor-trailer, pintle hook, towbar, safety chains and converter gear on full-trailer unit.
STEP 17 Check right trailer tires, wheels, lugs or studs. Check for thrown lubricant.
STEP 18 Check rear of body, including mudflaps, lights, reflectors and rear-end protection.
STEP 19 Check left side of cab, including cab door, mirrors, lights and reflectors.
STEP 20 Check left trailer tires, wheels, lugs or studs. Check for thrown lubricant.
STEP 21 Check left rear tractor tires, wheels, lugs or studs. Note any thrown lubricant.
STEP 22 Re-enter cab. Re-check all gauges.
STEP 23 Check parking brake.
STEP 24 Check brakes and stoplights.
STEP 25 Make a test stop before leaving the yard.

Most importantly, have all defects corrected before departure.

Ergonomic issues are different for the 24 million Americans who work nights.

Clock

Limited employee involvement in schedule selection, long work days and an excess of consecutive work days are all linked to increased risk of ergonomics-related injuries, according to a new report published by Circadian Technologies, Inc., an international research and consulting firm. Some of the study’s findings include:

  • In a survey of over 12,500 extended hours workers, 30 percent of male workers and 41 percent of female workers reported “chronic or frequent” back pain, while 16 percent of male workers and 27 percent of female workers reported “chronic or frequent” wrist pain.
  • Sleep deprivation could possibly be damaging in terms of muscle, ligament, or tendon injury. With the average extended hours employee sleeping only 5.1 hours to 5.5 hours each day when working a night shift, they could face an increased risk of ergonomic injuries.
  • Disturbances in sleep affect pain and negatively impact the time it takes a worker to return to work after suffering a soft-tissue injury such as low back pain.

Managers of extended hours operations can implement numerous interventions to address the increased risk of ergonomic injuries for the 24 million Americans who regularly work nights, rotating shifts, irregular and on-call schedules. “Involving employees in schedule selection, training workers on managing the work-life demands of working extended hours, and revisiting workplace policies such as break rules and rest periods can significantly decrease the risk of costly accidents and injuries,” states Alex Kerin, Ph.D., Circadian ergonomics specialist. Fatigue management initiatives to decrease employee fatigue while at work and commuting to the job, as well as improve sleep quality, also represent critical interventions for extended hours employers.

[For a copy of the complete report, visit www.circadian.com]

Drivers who are required to hold a commercial driver’s license (CDL) and have less than one year’s experience in operating commercial motor vehicles in interstate commerce are now subject to new Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration training requirements:

  • Training must include instruction in driver qualification, hours of service, driver wellness and whistleblower protection.
  • A copy of a training certificate must be placed in the driver’s personnel file. The certificate must include the date of certification, the name and address of training provider, the name of driver, a statement that the driver has completed mandated requirements, the name and signature of the person attesting that the driver received training.
  • An entry-level driver who began operating a commercial motor vehicle in interstate commerce requiring a CDL between July 20, 2003, and July 20, 2004, must have received training by October 18, 2004. Drivers who begin operating a commercial motor vehicle on or after July 21, 2004, must receive training before driving a vehicle.
Gun and Target

Will having a gun available in close proximity to their place of work increase the likelihood of workplace violence? A group of concerned Oklahoma employers think so. That is why they are challenging a controversial new law that allows employees to keep firearms locked in their cars. Employers claim the new law interferes with their right to restrict what is and isn’t allowed on company property. Want to learn more about violence in the workplace? Visit www.cdc.gov/niosh/violcont.html.

FALL PROTECTION STANDARDS
The newly approved American National Standard “Fall Protection Systems for Construction and Demolition Operations” is now available. If you have loss control responsibilities in these industries, learn more at www.asse.org.

LABOR LAW POSTERS
The states of Connecticut, Louisiana and Michigan have made mandatory changes to their labor law posters. Check with your EMC risk improvement representative to make certain you have the latest posters on display.

OSHA RESPIRATORY STANDARD
OSHA added a new qualitative fit-testing procedure to Appendix A of its respiratory protection standard. The new protocol requires test subjects to perform three exercises — normal breathing, bending over and head shaking — followed by two minutes of respirator use. This change will help employers and employees to select the right respirator based on the condition of the workplace. Complete details about this change are available at www.osha.gov.

Contractors

Despite the many loss control initiatives being implemented by contractors, the construction industry remains one of the most dangerous. Recognizing the need for continued vigilance, the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) is intensifying inspection, awareness and enforcement efforts to reduce construction industry fatalities and injuries.

Worksite

According to the latest figures, construction site fatalities are higher than any other industry, representing 20 percent of the 5,524 fatalities for all industries in 2002. The rate for non-fatal injuries and illnesses in the construction industry is also a concern. In 2001, 7.9 per hundred equivalent full-time construction workers reported injuries and illnesses compared with a rate of 5.7 in all private industry workplaces. As a result of these findings, OSHA’s current strategic plan addresses ways in which to reduce construction industry fatalities by three percent and injuries and illnesses by four percent.

OSHA Offers A Comprehensive Approach To Reducing Construction Industry Fatalities
OSHA’s plan to reduce the incidence of fatalities, injuries and illnesses is built around a three-prong approach:

  • Enforcement — to include follow-up inspections, programmed inspections, settlements and federal court enforcement.
  • Outreach — to include education, public awareness and compliance assistance.
  • Programs — to include partnership and cooperative programs with industry associations.
LEADING HAZARDS IN CONSTRUCTION*
IncidentNumber of
Fatal Injuries
Falls714
Struck by Object 596
Caught in/compressed by
equipment or objects
231
Contact with electrical current 289
* U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (2002)

You Are A Big Part Of The Solution, Too
Intensifying loss control efforts at construction sites remains the best way to reduce fatalities and injuries. Among the precautions noted in the OSHA standards are:

  • Making sure appropriate barriers are in place.
  • Diverting traffic around and within construction sites.
  • Correctly erecting and regularly inspecting scaffolding.
  • Appropriately handling and storing materials that are apt to cause falls,trips or other hazards.
  • Ensuring all workers have personal protective equipment (PPE) and use it properly.

Good Loss Control Practices Are Good For Business
A safe workplace is more likely to be a more profitable workplace for contractors. For starters, without a good safety record, your chances of landing good contracts may be compromised. In addition, the direct and indirect costs associated with a fatality or injury could be devastating for your firm. A safe workplace also means a happier and more productive workforce. Most importantly, by striving to make your workplace as safe as possible, you’ll be contributing to a national effort to enhance the image of the construction industry by reducing fatalities and injuries.

[To learn more about OSHA’s regulatory agenda and current standards for the construction industry, visit www.osha.gov.]

Scientific evidence links mold and other factors related to damp conditions in homes and buildings to asthma symptoms in some people with the chronic disorder, as well as to coughing, wheezing and upper respiratory tract symptoms in otherwise healthy people, says a new report from the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies. However, the available evidence does not support an association between either indoor dampness or mold and the wide range of other health complaints that have been ascribed to them, the report says. While there is universal agreement that promptly fixing leaks and cleaning up spills or standing water substantially reduces the potential for mold growth, there is little evidence that shows which forms of moisture control or prevention work best at reducing health problems associated with dampness, the report notes. The study had insufficient information to recommend either an appropriate level of dampness reduction, or a safe level of exposure to organisms and chemicals linked to dampness. The report concluded that better standardized methods for assessing human exposure to these agents are greatly needed.

There is no question that mold will continue to be an issue the construction industry must address. Based on the results of this most recent study, you can expect to see further studies that compare various ways to limit moisture or eliminate mold and to evaluate whether the interventions have any impact on occupants’ health.

Local Governments

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is conducting a review of how the national primary drinking regulation for lead is implemented nationwide in response to elevated levels of lead in Washington, D.C. drinking water.

According to a recent EPA report, since 2000, fewer than 4 percent of large and medium-sized drinking water systems have exceeded EPA’s lead action level. Together these larger systems serve more than 200 million people. The report, which was based on data received to date, showed that 12 large and 73 medium systems exceeded the 15 parts per billion action level for lead in monitoring periods concluded after 2003.

Lead, a metal found in natural deposits, is commonly used in household plumbing materials and water service lines. Although the greatest exposure to lead is swallowing or breathing in lead paint chips and dust, lead in drinking water can also cause a variety of adverse health effects. In babies and children, exposure to lead in drinking water above the action level can result in delays in physical and mental development, along with slight deficits in attention span and learning abilities. In adults, it can cause increases in blood pressure. Adults who drink this water over many years could develop kidney problems or high blood pressure.

A summary of the most recent EPA findings is available at www.epa.gov.

Petroleum Marketers:

More and more self-employed workers are taking a serious look at enhancing their loss control practices, especially in light of the following findings published in the March 2004 issue of Monthly Labor Review, a publication of the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

Although they made up only 7.4 percent of the U.S. workforce in 2001, self-employed workers accounted for almost 20 percent of workplace fatalities that year.

Stephen Pegula, an economist with BLS, analyzed the disparity between on-the-job deaths among self-employed workers and their wage and salary counterparts. The overall fatality rate among wage and salary workers in 2001 was 3.9 per 100,000 workers, while the rate for self-employed was 11.2 per 100,000 workers.

Pegula concluded that the self-employed die more often because they often work in industries and occupations with high fatality rates. However, when he compared the self-employed to wage and salary workers in the same high-risk occupations, the fatality rates of the self-employed were still higher. Pegula attributed this to certain characteristics common among self-employed. They tend to work longer hours and be older, which puts them at a greater risk for dying on the job.

Other findings found that, compared to wage and salary workers, self-employed workers are more likely to:

  • Work alone; with no other individual responsible for knowing when or where they are working.
  • Work in the agricultural, forestry and fishing industry.
  • Be killed while tending a retail establishment; driving or operating a farm vehicle; performing logging, trimming or pruning; operating farm machinery; or tending animals.
  • Perish as a result of a homicide from a non-highway, non-collision incident; by being struck by an object; or by means of a self-inflicted injury.

To read the complete study, Occupational Fatalities: Self-Employed Workers and Wage and Salary Workers, visit www.bls.gov/opub/mlr/2004/03/art2full.pdf.

Schools:

The Internet poses a singular challenge for public school leaders and parents. Many public opinion surveys confirm that Americans expect school leaders to focus on two top priorities: keeping children safe and increasing student achievement. At a time when Internet usage among children and adults is rising dramatically, however, these priorities sometimes may seem contradictory. Is it possible for schools to protect students from inappropriate content without denying them access to engaging and valuable educational content? A recent study conducted by the National School Boards Foundation addresses this challenge.

Students

Until now, this dilemma noted above has been complicated by a dearth of credible information. There was a lack of good data about where children access the Internet, what they do once they’re connected, what kinds of sites they visit, and how much adult supervision and guidance they receive. Nor was there much information about parents’ perceptions of and expectations for their children’s Internet usage.

Against this backdrop, the National School Boards Foundation worked with Grunwald Associates, a leading market research and consulting firm specializing in technology, to develop an unprecedented national survey of parents and children.

Parents And Children View The Internet As A Positive Force

Despite recent negative headlines about online violence, pornography, predators and commercialism, parents and children generally are upbeat and favorable about their own Internet experiences. Parents, in fact, are even more positive than children. They believe the Internet is a powerful tool for learning and communicating within families, and they want their children to be on the Internet. And, as parent responses suggest, the Internet can be an equally powerful tool for schools that want to increase family involvement. The data also suggests that schools can help bridge the digital divide.

The Internet Poses Complex Challenges For Schools

While the Internet presents new issues to sort through and new ground to tread, it surely is here to stay. Now is the time to explore the Internet's potential for meeting the educational needs of diverse groups of students and involving their parents in student achievement. And schools that take command of the Internet as a tool to accomplish overriding goals, such as improving student achievement and galvanizing parental support, will benefit in the long run.

In short, this survey compels school leaders not only to find ways to keep students safe and smart on the Internet, but also to think creatively about using the Internet to achieve classroom, school and district goals. The guidelines on the back page suggest some ideas for starting that process.

Safety for Web Surfers

While the Internet offers many benefits, its use is not risk-free. Fraud is always a possibility. Parents fear their children may be exposed to inappropriate material or be harassed or victimized by online predators. Perhaps the worst fear is that someone could obtain personal information about your child and/or your family. See the back of this issue for guidelines your school can implement to minimize these risks.

Computer Mouse

The following guidelines were established by the National School Boards Foundation to help schools deal with the various challenges posed by the increased use of the Internet in schools.

  • Take a balanced approach to policies and practices for children’s use of the Internet. Initiate conversations with teachers, administrators and parents, rather than setting and implementing rules that may be too rigid.
  • Pay as much attention to highlighting good content as to restricting bad content. Both at home and at school, set rules and limits on Internet use, but also guide children to good content.
  • Develop a plan to educate children about safe, responsible uses of the Internet. For example, place computers in rooms that are shared, where children can use the Internet with others around them. And teach children never to share personal information online.
  • Foster appropriate use of the Internet among preschoolers and other young children. Parents and school leaders who look for online opportunities for younger children can be guides to engaging, age-appropriate content.
  • Help teachers, parents and children use the Internet more effectively for learning. For example, suggest education-related Web sites for parents and children to visit together and give them learning activities to do once they get there.
  • Engage the community. Consider hosting convenient opportunities for parents, teachers, librarians and others to talk together about children’s use of the Internet.