Winter 2006 Volume 34

Feature Articles

EMC Loss Control At Work

This past year has been a busy one for EMC’s loss control professionals. In 2006, the staff completed almost 10,000 new building valuations and 24,000 building recalculations (updated for inflation and material costs), distributed 140,000 issues of Loss Control Insights, made 11,000 on-site visits, received more than 300,000 hits to the Loss Control pages on emcinsurance.com and distributed almost 20,000 Safety Talks.

The stories inside highlight some of the many ways EMC’s risk improvement department has been diligently working to reduce the severity and frequency of losses for businesses, schools, local governments and other institutions and organizations throughout the country.

Situation: Many organizations lack a formal fleet safety program. In fact, it’s not uncommon for people in management to have a “deer in the headlights” look when asked about it, according to EMC Cincinnati Branch Risk Improvement Representative Gene Sechler.

Response: Sechler created a custom-made fleet safety kit to share with policyholders’ management staff during initial inspections and interviews. The kit contains a copy of the Fleet Safety Program Tech Sheet, the Fleet Safety section from EMC’s Loss Prevention Information Manual and a copy of the latest Loss Control Video Directory. (All items are also available on www.emcinsurance.com.) “The kit provides management with materials and guidelines to help them establish a fleet safety program of their own,” explains Sechler. “It’s also a great way to make clients more aware of the loss control resources available from EMC.”

Results: As a result of Sechler’s efforts, more policyholders are benefiting from formal fleet safety programs aimed at reducing the likelihood of costly driving accidents.

TIP:
A fleet safety program should include procedures for driver selection and training as well as vehicle selection, inspection and maintenance. In addition, procedures for driver performance evaluations, motor vehicle record checks, route evaluations and special trip planning should also be addressed.

Situation A: An agricultural service cooperative needed to improve the training of their specialized crop applicators.

Situation B: Two schools in Wisconsin needed to control the cost of workers’ compensation insurance.

Response: Through EMC’s Partnership Service, loss control consultants took each policyholder through a multi-step risk analysis enlisting the help of employees to identify problem areas and develop reasonable ideas to reduce or eliminate them. This process was instrumental in helping the cooperative identify the deficiencies in their training procedures and in helping the schools find potential risks by reviewing their policies and procedures.

Results A: In addition to changes in classroom instruction, employees now have the opportunity to get hands-on training with an instructor. Participants drive several different machines on obstacle courses with specific operational and safety objectives.

Results B: Both Wisconsin schools have seen a dramatic drop in their workers’ compensation modification factors as a result of Partnership Service. One school benefited from a 20-point drop by making improvements in the building and grounds and food service departments. The other school saw a 28-point drop after employees reviewed and changed policies and procedures in its building and grounds, food services and special education departments.

TIP:
The partnering of your organization’s leadership, employees and EMC’s loss control experts can lead to improved on-the-job safety for employees and an improved bottom line for your organization.

Situation: When a 300-gallon water tank ruptured, water quickly emptied into office areas of an EMC policyholder. Office personnel responded quickly by using wet vacuums to remove the water. Two days later, however, they began smelling a musty odor. Upon further investigation, it was discovered that not all of the furniture had been removed from the offices prior to vacuuming.

Response: To better assess the damage, EMC’s risk improvement specialists used infrared technology to identify moisture still present in a number of areas.

Results: In response to EMC’s findings, the insured took prompt action to completely dry the affected areas, thereby reducing the need for costly replacement of damaged materials.

TIP:
Whenever an excess volume of water spills or leaks into an interior space, it must be removed as quickly as possible. Failure to do so can lead to mold growth in as little as 24 hours.

Situation: An Iowa manufacturer noticed a significant increase in the number of overexertion and cumulative trauma claims in 2005 — 26 claims at a cost of nearly $250,000. Upon doing additional research, management discovered that the problem had been growing over the past several years. After initial discussions with their EMC risk improvement consultant, the company decided to form an ergonomics committee to address the issue.

Response: Using the ergonomics program from EMC’s Loss Prevention Information Manual as a model, the ergonomics committee, which included EMC’s consultant, completed risk factor training for all supervisors and employees. The committee also evaluated and made changes to over 25 workstations where injuries had occurred or where employees had identified risk factors in their own jobs.

Results: The continued efforts of this ergonomics committee made an immediate impact in claims reduction. Through the first nine months of 2006, the company experienced only eight overexertion/cumulative trauma claims, at a cost of just $11,000. Best of all, the employees now feel motivated to suggest improvements to make their workplace safer.

TIP:
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, work-related musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) account for 34 percent of lost workdays in the United States each year. These disorders also account for one out of every three dollars spent on workers’ compensation. To reduce the frequency and severity of MSDs in the workplace, it is important to eliminate the risk factors that contribute to their development.

Situation: Many workers’ compensation claims submitted by school districts result from injuries that occur because employees are not able to safely meet the physical demands of their job positions. Although this may occur due to inaccurate job descriptions used during the hiring process, it’s also likely to occur because the districts often fail to develop functional screen testing to evaluate the physical capabilities of applicants.

Response: To help reduce insurance costs and prevent workplace injuries, EMC loss control consultants offer assistance in identifying the essential duties and physical demands of different occupations. Several schools have gone beyond accurate job descriptions and have solicited EMC’s assistance in developing functional screen testing to evaluate the physical capabilities of potential employees. Tests are developed for each unique occupation and each organization’s requirements. Those currently in use at several schools are for jobs with more strenuous physical demands, such as food service, custodial and maintenance positions.

Results: One school district using this testing procedure found that over 60 percent of the workers they were prepared to hire as a custodian could not meet the physical demands of the job. By not hiring these applicants, the school reduced the probability of a custodian suffering a costly injury.

TIP:
Using pre-employment testing to hire new employees can help you better match jobs to employees, identify potential risks, potentially increase productivity and profitability, and possibly reduce workers’ compensation losses.

Situation: Businesses, schools and other organizations are often unaware of potentially dangerous problems involving their electrical systems. When these problems remain undetected or are overlooked, they can lead to disastrous and sometimes deadly situations as the result of fire or arc blast.

Response: As part of EMC’s broad loss control consulting services, EMC can arrange for electrical specialists to survey electrical systems to determine how lightning and electrical surges could damage equipment.

Results: While performing electrical system surveys, electrical specialists hired by EMC discovered dangerous conditions before they resulted in an injury. One found an unlocked electrical transformer cabinet with a partially opened door at a school building just a few yards from the playground. In a city’s administration building, another specialist discovered an electrical disconnect switch that had large openings in the top of the enclosure. Someone had stored spare fuses and metal parts on top of the enclosure and several had fallen in, creating significant arc blast and fire hazards.

TIP:
Lightning protection systems should be inspected whenever alterations or repairs are made to a protected structure, as well as following any known lightning discharge to the system.

Other Topics:

As the manager of a local plant for a regional company, Steve Danko thought his workplace was a safe environment for his 18 employees. However, after seeing the results of a recent RAND Corporation study, Steve quickly implemented policies and procedures to reduce the likelihood of worksite fatalities. That study concluded that fatal accidents were most common at small worksites with fewer than 20 workers that were operated by middle-sized businesses.

Fatality rates at these worksites were two to five times higher than similar worksites operated by either small or large businesses. Although the study shows that, within a given firm, smaller establishments are riskier than larger establishments, the research also indicates that small workplaces that are a business’s only location are among the safest places to work.

“At a smaller workplace, one person can make more of a difference, and it seems plausible that an on-site owner might feel more responsibility to try to avoid injuring workers than a hired manager would,” said John Mendeloff, the study’s lead author.

The findings provide an important exception to research that workers in small workplaces are at greater risk of fatal accidents than those in larger workplaces, according to an examination of more than 17,000 workplace deaths reported by OSHA from 1992 to 2001.

The researchers found that the smallest worksites operated by a business with multiple worksites are likely to be the riskiest. For example, among manufacturing businesses with 1,000 or more workers, the fatality rate at worksites with fewer than 20 workers was three times higher than worksites with 20 to 49 workers and eight times higher than locations with 1,000 or more workers.

Similar patterns were seen for businesses with fewer than 1,000 employees and for most other industries, including transportation, public utilities, wholesale and services, according to the study.

These results suggest that the safety records of single establishment small firms may justify lighter regulatory intervention. In addition, it might make sense for OSHA to focus more effort on middle-sized firms that have small establishments, because they represent by far the highest fatality risks.

Regardless of the size of your operation, OSHA reports that an effective safety program can save $4 to $6 for every $1 invested. It’s the right thing to do, and doing it right pays off in lower costs, increased productivity, and higher employee morale.

[Courtesy of Stevens Publishing Corporation, Dallas, TX]

Establishing a safe worksite requires every employer — large or small — and every worker to make safety a top priority. Here are 10 tips from OSHA to help you achieve that goal:

  1. Regularly and thoroughly maintain equipment.
  2. Ensure that hazard correction procedures are in place.
  3. Ensure that all employees understand and follow safe work procedures.
  4. Ensure that employees know how to use and maintain personal protective equipment.
  5. Have a medical program tailored to your facility to help prevent workplace hazards and exposures.
  6. Allow only properly authorized and instructed employees to do any job.
  7. Make sure no employees do any job that appears unsafe.
  8. Hold emergency preparedness drills from employees.
  9. Train supervisors and managers to recognize hazards and understand their responsibilities.
  10. Encourage all employees to report any hazardous conditions to their supervisors.

As a result of longer work hours and more late night activities, Americans are awake more and asleep less. That’s a growing problem on and off the road.

  • According to a study that monitored brain activity in shift workers, one in five workers dozed off while working.
  • The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that 100,000 of reported crashes occurred as a result of drowsiness and considers sleep deprived drivers as a hazard equal to the severity of drunk drivers.

Cure Fatigue With Diet, Exercise And Sleep

  • Take naps and get the sleep your body needs.
  • Consume foods that provide lasting energy such as fruits, vegetables and whole-grain breads. Avoid sugary, fatty snacks.
  • Exercise of any kind increase circulation, strength and energy.

Special Tips For Drowsy Drivers
Studies have shown that many popular methods to stay awake, such as opening windows, blasting the radio, or drinking a caffeinated beverage are ineffective. The only proven method is to pull off the road and take a nap lasting at least 20 minutes.

Workers in many different occupations are exposed to hexavalent chromium and the associated risk of lung cancer. This occurs mainly among workers who handle pigments containing dry chromate, spray paints and coatings containing chromate, operate chrome plating baths, and weld or cut metals containing chromium. Small business can learn more about reducing exposure to this chemical by obtaining a copy of recently released OSHA guidelines. For details, visit www.osha.gov.

OSHA GUIDELINES TO REDUCE MOTOR VEHICLE CRASHES
Employers and employees who use motor vehicles for work purposes will benefit from this 32-page booklet that offers information to help design a driver safety program in the workplace. Learn more at www.osha.gov.

OSHA OFFERS NEW FIRE SERVICE PUBLICATION
Learn ways to increase the safety of building occupants and emergency responders by streamlining fire service interaction with building features and fire protection systems. For details, visit www.osha.gov.

MOTOR VEHICLE OPERATIONS STANDARD APPROVED
ANSI/ASSE Z15.1, Safe Practices for Motor Vehicle Operations, will impact safety rates, vehicle management, and driver hiring and training. Learn more about this new approved standard at www.asse.org.

PROTECTING EMPLOYEES AGAINST ASIAN FLU
OSHA Guidance Update on Protecting Employees from Asian Flu Viruses, and other important resource information on the topic, has been posted to OSHA’s website at www.osha.gov.

Contractors

As a contractor, you make a significant investment in equipment and materials. To protect that investment, you’ve probably implemented procedures to reduce the likelihood of construction site theft. But what happens when equipment and materials are being transported to a jobsite? Taking the necessary steps to protect against shifting and falling cargo not only protects your investment, but protects other drivers from accidents.

EMC loss control professionals offer the following guidelines to ensure a safe and profitable trip when transporting equipment and materials from one site to another.

Inspecting Cargo — As part of a pretrip inspection, make sure the truck is not overloaded, and the cargo is balanced and secured properly. After starting a trip, inspect the cargo and its securing devices within the first 50 miles, making adjustments as needed. Recheck the cargo and securing devices after three hours or 150 miles and after every break taken during driving.

Don’t Be Top-Heavy — It is important to distribute the cargo, so it is as low as possible. Cargo piled up high or heavy cargo on top means you are more likely to tip over. It is especially dangerous on curves or if you have to swerve to avoid a hazard.

Balance The Weight — Too much weight on the steering axle can cause hard steering. Underloaded front axles can make the steering axle weight too light to steer safely. Too little weight on the driving axles can cause poor traction.

Blocking And Bracing — Use blocking in the front, back, and/or sides of a piece of cargo to keep it from sliding. Shape blocking to fit snugly against cargo and is secured to the cargo deck to prevent cargo movement.

Use Tiedowns To Prevent Sliding — Although most tiedowns are attached to the vehicle structure, some are attached to the cargo and provide direct resistance to the cargo from movement.

  • Tiedowns and securing devices should not contain knots.
  • Each tiedown should be attached and secured so that it does not become loose or unfastened, opened, or released during transit.
  • Edge protection should be used whenever a tiedown will be subject to abrasion or cutting at the point where it touches an article of cargo or vehicle.

Covering Cargo — Cover cargo to protect people from spilled cargo and to protect the cargo from weather. Check your cargo covers in the mirrors from time to time. A flapping cover can tear loose and possibly block your view or someone else’s. Remember spill protection is a safety requirement in many states. Be familiar with the laws in the states in which you drive.

Cargo should be properly distributed and adequately secured prior to a driver operating the vehicle. The vehicle’s structure and equipment, such as tailgates, doors, tarpaulins, spare tires, and cargo securing equipment should also be secured. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, the cargo securement system should be able to withstand a minimum amount of force in each direction as follows:

  • Forward Force — 80 percent of cargo weight (when braking while driving straight ahead)
  • Rearward Force — 50 percent of cargo weight (when accelerating, shifting gears while climbing a hill or breaking in reverse)
  • Sideways Force — 50 percent of cargo weight (when turning, changing lanes or braking while turning)
  • Upward Force — 20 percent of cargo weight (when traveling over bumps or cresting a hill)

Cargo securement devices and systems should be designed, installed, and maintained to ensure the maximum forces acting on the devices do not exceed the working load limit under the conditions listed above.

Local Governments

The following EPA chart provides suggested frequencies of routine and preventative maintenance tasks for systems under normal operation. However, any time a system experiences water quality issues, the appropriate task should be performed as frequently as needed. This guide is intended for owners and operators of all public water systems serving fewer than 10,000 people.

Task Benefits Suggested Frequency
Valve exercising
  • Improves reliability
  • Familiarizes crews with valve locations
  • Identifies inoperable valves
  • Locates obstructed valve boxes
  • Ensures isolation of distribution system sections when necessary
Annually
Flushing pipelines
  • Removes aged water from pipeline
  • Reduces buildup of biofilms and sediments
  • Restores disinfectant residual
Annually for all piping; more often in areas with water quality issues
Storage tank inspections
  • Detects vandalism
  • Identifies defects
  • Ensures that access hatches are locked
  • Ensures that vents, overflows and drains are screened
Daily or weekly for vandalism; annually for other items
Storage tank Maintenance
  • Improves protection against sources of contamination
  • Extends the useful life of the equipment
Every three years for cleaning; painting and repairs as dictated by inspection
Routine Water Quality Monitoring
  • Provides information on potential contamination of raw and finished water
  • Helps determine effectiveness of treatment
  • Helps assure compatibility of water with the materials
Varies depending on water quality and state regulations
Inspecting and Flushing Hydrants and Valves
  • Ensures that hydrants and valves are operable and that no water losses occur
  • Ensures that hydrants and valves are not susceptible to tampering
Once or twice a year
Maintaining Operating Pressure Range
  • Reduces the risk of backflow contamination
  • Reduces damage to infrastructure due to excess pressure
  • Provides adequate fire flow
Continuously
Tracking Unaccounted Water
  • Can reduce pumping and treatment costs
  • Helps identify leaks, breaks, and inaccurate meters
Daily at the source; monthly or during routine meter reading at connections
Testing For Excess Biofilms
  • Indicates a presence of inadequate chlorine residual, possible high disinfection byproduct levels, and water stagnation
Monthly in conjunction with Total Coliform sampling
Monitoring Corrosion
  • Identifies the need to modify treatment
Annually
Checking For Normal Wear
  • Can extend useful life of infrastructure components
  • Helps avoid unnecessary replacement costs
According to the manufacturer’s recommendation

Petroleum Marketers:

Prior to 9/11, personal crime and cargo theft were the main security issues for the trucking industry. However, due to the heightened threat of terrorism following 9/11, trucking companies now face much broader security concerns. In recent years, considerable attention has been paid to the industry as a potential target for use by terrorists. Trucks carrying petroleum-based products may be especially at risk.

Your drivers need to take necessary precautions to ensure the safety and security of themselves, their trucks’ contents, and the communities through which they drive. Here are some ways to improve the security of your operations.

Security Begins With A Pretrip Checklist

  • Make certain paperwork is complete and accurate, checking to see that the cargo manifest matches the cargo.
  • Personally load or observe the loading of your trailer, especially if it is in an unfamiliar location.
  • Beware of suspicious onlookers during cargo loading.
  • Be sure the tractor/trailer is secure, checking for suspicious devices and attachments.
  • Make certain all tractor/trailer access panels/doors are locked and any security seals are intact and undamaged.
  • Check the operating status of communication and tracking equipment installed on trucks.
  • Conduct a vehicle inspection. Check tires, brakes and radiator for damage.

Choose A Safe And Secure Route

  • Stay clear of high crime areas.
  • Be aware of parks and wooded areas along the route.
  • Be aware of shift changes or when crowds are released if you will be driving near factories, chemical plants, government buildings, or major entertainment facilities.
  • Know the location of hospitals, police stations and fire stations along the route.

Be Safe And Secure On The Road

  • Always carry a communication device with you and periodically check any GPS tracking systems.
  • Do not make unscheduled stops in unfamiliar locations.
  • Remain observant for suspicious activities in and around critical points, such as refueling locations, terminals, and petroleum refineries and storage areas.
  • Keep doors and access panels locked at all times.
  • Always observe bridges, tunnels, possible choke-points, and other potential targets.

The trucking industry remains extremely sensitive to the consequences that might arise from a truck-based terrorist attack. You can play a role in addressing these concerns by educating drivers about the risks and implementing a host of programs and technologies to ensure our nation’s security.

Here is a brief overview of new regulations that will probably be in place by December 2007.

  • Drivers who have access to ports, airports or rail terminals will be required to have federal ID cards.
  • All containers coming by ship to the United States will be required to have tamperproof seals.
  • U.S. importers will have to modify ordering documentation and ship-loading procedures to comply with regulations requiring preclearance of U.S. bound ocean cargo by U.S. Customs stations overseas.
  • New fees for importers and exporters will be imposed to offset the cost of devices being used to test for radiation and explosives at U.S. ports.
  • If you are shipping material on domestic or international passenger flights, expect delays for more detailed inspection.
  • Trucks will be required to install “black boxes” to record hours behind the wheel.

These new regulations add to the list of concerns of shippers as they continue to deal with high fuel prices and an ongoing shortage of drivers.

Schools:

The first important decision school administrators face when an emergency occurs is whether to shelter-in-place or evacuate. EMC loss control professionals recommend that you understand and plan for both possibilities in advance by developing clear, well-thought-out plans. The following guidelines will help you in your effort.

Shelter-In-Place Planning
Shelter-in-place is a precaution aimed at keeping occupants safe while remaining indoors. This means remaining in classrooms or, if appropriate, hallways.

  • Lockdown the school, activate the school’s emergency plan, and follow reverse evacuation procedures to bring students, faculty, and staff indoors.
  • If there are visitors in the building, provide for their safety by asking them to stay.
  • Have at least one telephone with the school’s listed telephone number available in the room selected to provide shelter for the person designated to answer calls.
  • Provide for a way to make announcements over the PA system from the room where the top school officials take shelter.
  • Provide directions to close and lock all windows, exterior doors, and any other openings to the outside.
  • Take attendance and call your school’s designated emergency contact to report who is in the room.
  • In some emergency situations, such as hazardous chemical release, turn off HVAC systems and close outside air intakes.

Evacuation Planning
Some disasters will require students, staff and visitors to leave the school quickly. Organizations who plan and practice how they will get out of the building in an emergency are better prepared than those who do not have an exit strategy.

  • Develop a system for knowing who is in your building, including visitors, in case there is an emergency.
  • Decide in advance who has the authority to order an evacuation and who is responsible for providing an all-clear notification.
  • Locate and make copies of building and site maps with critical utility and emergency routes clearly marked.
  • Plan at least two ways out of the building from different locations.
  • Install emergency lighting in case of a power loss.
  • Designate an assembly site that is away from traffic lanes and safe for students and staff.
  • Account for all students and staff as they arrive at the assembly site.
  • Plan for people with disabilities who may need help getting out in an emergency.

[Courtesy of Stevens Publishing, Dallas, TX]

An essential component of any shelter-in-place plan is determining and preparing appropriate shelter-in-place locations long before they are needed.

  • Select interior rooms above the ground floor, with the fewest windows or vents. The room should have adequate space for everyone to be able to sit in. Avoid overcrowding by selecting several rooms if necessary.
  • It is ideal to have a hard-wired telephone in the room(s) you select. Cellular equipment may be overwhelmed or damaged during an emergency.
  • Equip room(s) with proper disaster supplies, such as bottled water, battery-powered radios, first aid supplies, flashlights, batteries, and plastic garbage bags.
  • Because information will most likely be provided on television and radio, it is important to have a functioning TV and/or radio in rooms designated for sheltering-in-place.
  • Provide means of communication among all rooms where people will be sheltering-in-place.
  • Prepare a message for your voice mail to indicate that the school is closed and students and staff are remaining until authorities advise that it is safe to leave.