The Two Sides of Distracted Driving

Written By Eric Waidelich, Risk Management Professional, Rizikon Inc.

As with anything in life there are always two sides of any situation. For this first part of this two-part series, we are going to focus on texting and driving as if you are the person behind the wheel. The second part of the series will focus on you, as the by-stander who might be the recipient of someone else texting and driving. Keep in mind that all of the information we are about to cover is not just for your safety, but is also a requirement of OSHA.

Texting while driving puts millions of Americans who drive on the job at risk every day. That risk continues to grow as texting becomes more widespread. As a business owner or manager, it’s your legal responsibility under the Occupational Safety and Health Act to safeguard drivers at work.

This holds true whether they drive full-time or only occasionally to carry out their work, and whether they drive a company vehicle or their own. When your workers are behind the wheel doing your company’s work, their safety is your business.

That’s why the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), which enforces worker safety laws, has joined with the Transportation Department, other Labor Department agencies and key associations and organizations to enlist the help and cooperation of businesses – in a nationwide outreach, education, and enforcement effort to stop the dangerous practice of texting while driving.

The Law

Your State legislature and governor make the laws regarding distracted driving. Many States now have laws against texting, talking on a cell phone, and other distractions while driving. You can visit the Governors Highway Safety Association to learn about the laws in your State. Visit https://www.ghsa.org/index.php/state-laws/issues/distracted%20driving

The Facts
  • More workers are killed every year in Motor Vehicle Crashes than any other cause.
    Distracted driving claimed 3,166 lives in 2017 alone, (newest data available).
  • Reaction time is delayed for a driver talking on a cell phone as much as it is for a driver who is legally drunk.
  • More texting leads to more crashes. With each additional 1 million text messages, fatalities from distracted driving rose more than 75%.
  • People under the age of 20 are involved in more fatal crashes due to distractions than any other age group.
  • Studies show that drivers who send or receive text messages focus their attention away from the road for an average of 4.6 seconds. At 55 mph, this is equivalent to driving the length of a football field blindfolded!
Employers & Supervisors Should
  • Prohibit texting while driving. OSHA encourages employers to declare their vehicles “text-free zones” and to emphasize that commitment to their workers, customers, and communities.
  • Establish work processes that do not make it necessary for workers to text while driving in order to carry out their duties.
  • Set up clear procedures for the safe use of texting and other technologies for communicating with managers, customers, and others.
  • Incorporate safe communications practices into worker orientation, training and meetings.
  • Eliminate financial and other incentive systems that encourage workers to text while driving.
New School Year

New drivers are hitting the roads this month, in every community across the United States. Thousands of them. Remember, people under the age of 20 are involved in more fatal crashes due to distractions than any other age group.
Studies have determined that teen drivers have a higher rate of fatal crashes, mainly because of their immaturity, lack of skills, and lack of experience. They speed, they make mistakes, and they get distracted easily – especially if their friends are in the car.


What Can You Do?

Familiarize yourself with the restrictions placed on your teen’s license can better assist you in enforcing those laws. You have the opportunity to establish some important ground rules for your teen driver. Restrict night driving and passengers, prohibit driving while using the phone, and require seat belt use at all times.

Set the example by keeping your eyes on the road and your hands on the wheel while driving. Be consistent between the message you tell your teen and your own driving behaviors. Novice teen drivers most often learn from watching their parents.
Don’t rely solely on a driver’s education class to teach your teen to drive. Set aside time to take your teen on practice driving sessions.

Set consequences for distracted driving. If your teen breaks a distraction rule you’ve set, consider suspending your teen’s driving privileges, or consider limiting a teen’s access to their cell phone — a punishment that in today’s world could be seen by teens as a serious consequence.

Information provided by Eric Waidelich of Rizikon Inc. Office: (877) 591-0300; Mobile: (313) 530-8251; Email: ewaideich@rizikon.net
Source material and statistics are from OSHA, NHTSA, and ConeZoneBC.
Posted in 2019, SEPTEMBER 2019 | Comments Off on The Two Sides of Distracted Driving

Advocacy Update

Written by Forrest Wall, CAE, Staff Vice President
and Industry Relations
Bill Introduced to Require Lead Service Line Notification
New legislation in the Michigan House of Representatives would amend the Safe Drinking Water Act to require resident notification of known lead service lines. House Bill 4750, introduced in June, would require that local water departments annually notify customers if their residence is served by a lead service line. In cases where the residence is a rental property, the property owner would then need to disclose the existence of the lead service line to the tenant either via the rental agreement or in a separate disclosure statement. The legislation also contains a penalty provision for knowingly violating the law. That provision provides for a civil infraction with a potential fine not to exceed $500 for multifamily rental property.
Stormwater Management Legislation Introduced
An effort to provide a statewide framework for local government stormwater management programs has been introduced in the Michigan House of Representatives. House Bill 4691 mirrors previous efforts in recent legislative sessions to create what would be called the Stormwater Utility Act. As proposed, the legislation would regulate the creation of local stormwater management utilities and the adoption and content of the local ordinances supporting the utilities. The act would provide for the establishment and collection of fees to support the operation, maintenance, planning, construction and financing of the local stormwater system. Fees could include both one-time connection charges for new developments as well as a use fee to property owners. Additionally, the legislation compels local utilities to provide for reduction or elimination of fees to property owners who can demonstrate that improvements made to the property have reduced or eliminated stormwater entering the system. Finally, the bill mandates a fee appeal process be included in the local stormwater utility ordinance.
Posted in 2019, SEPTEMBER 2019 | Comments Off on Advocacy Update

Work Practices To Promote Office Safety

Written by Chris Wilfong, CHSP, CUSA, Safety & Loss Prevention Specialist, CompOne Administrators

An office can seem like a safe place to work compared to an industrial work environment, however, many serious accidents and injuries occur on a regular basis in offices everywhere. Slips, trips and falls are one of the most common causes of workplace injuries. They can occur anywhere, whether you are in the production area or in the office.
Office workers can be injured by falls, fires and electric shock, receive cuts and bruises from office tools and furniture and can develop long-term injuries from repetitive work such as keyboarding.

SAFE WORK PRACTICES

  • Watch for obstructions which can cause tripping accidents. Cords and cables should not be placed across traffic areas. Even cords going to a power bar located next to a work station can trip a person getting up from the desk.
  • Materials should be stored in designated storage areas, not in boxes on the floor.
  • Briefcases, handbags and other personal items should be stored where no one will fall over them.
  • Keep drawers of desks and cabinets closed.
  • Clean up any spills, such as coffee or water, right way. If a spill cannot be taken care of immediately, arrange a barricade and a sign to warn people. Floors which are wet from cleaning should also be blocked off and marked by warning signs.
  • Load file cabinets from the bottom up. Serious accidents have occurred when top-heavy filing cabinets have fallen over.
  • Use safe lifting techniques. It is just as easy to receive a back injury in the office as it is in the warehouse. To pick up a heavy item, squat down beside it. Use the strength in your legs, not your back, to raise it up. Bend your knees, not your back.
  • Store sharp implements such as scissors, and letter openers separately from other items to prevent cuts and puncture wounds.
  • Be alert to electrical hazards which can cause fires and electrocution. Check for any frayed or damaged cords or plugs. Electrical repairs should be made only by qualified personnel.
  • Don’t overload electrical circuits. Extension cords are meant to be used only temporarily, so make sure the area is wired adequately for all of the electronic equipment such as computers, copiers and printers. Breakers which trip frequently are a sign of overloaded circuits.
  • Don’t use makeshift scaffolds such as a chair balanced on a desk when you are reaching for something overhead. Take the time to get a stepladder or stepstool.

Repetitive strain injuries are increasingly common in offices. When doing work such as computer keyboarding, keep your hands and wrists straight and relaxed. Frequently switch to other tasks to give your hands a rest.

PROPER OFFICE ERGONOMIC SET UP
Office Furniture Positioning

  • Ensure your chair fits correctly. There should be 2 inches between the front edge of the seat and the back of your knees. Ideally, the chair should have a lumbar support.
  • Sit with your knees at approximately a 90 to 110 degree angle. Using an angled foot rest to support your feet may help you sit more comfortably.
  • Your elbows and hips should be at 90 degree angles.
  • Position your computer monitor so the top of the screen is at eye level, with adequate lighting and no glare.
  • Keep your wrists in the neutral position, not angled up or down, while you type. Your mouse should be positioned in close proximity to the keyboard to avoid over reaching.

Employee Movement (Stretching)

Stretching is a key element to a healthy life style in the office or at home. Here are some example of stretches that may be done during work or at home.

  • We need to get up and move during the day, at least every couple of hours. It is as simple as standing in place and reaching for the sky or standing and touching your toes.
  • Take frequent short breaks (micro-breaks) every 20-40 minutes for at least 30 seconds to 1 minute.
  • Stretching is so important for our bodies and mind to relax. We shall see results over time as we become more productive with a well-rested and stretched body. 
Posted in 2019, AUGUST 2019, Uncategorized | Comments Off on Work Practices To Promote Office Safety

Advocacy Update

Forrest WallWritten by Forrest Wall, CAE, Staff Vice President and Industry Relations

Bedbug Legislation Introduced
Legislation has been introduced in Michigan House of Representatives to address bedbug infestations in rental property. House Bill 4777 proposes to add a section in the Landlord and Tenant Relationships Act (Public Act 348 of 1972) to provide for the responsibilities of tenants and landlords in situations where bedbugs are suspected and/or present. This is the same legislation that has been introduced in previous legislative sessions. The bill provides that a landlord shall not enter into a lease if the landlord knows the rental unit is infested with bedbugs, and, when entering a lease agreement the landlord shall supply the tenant with information relating to identification of bedbugs and keeping a rental unit free of bedbugs. The landlord has 7 days from receipt of written notice of suspected infestation to schedule a unit inspection, and if the inspection confirms infestation then the landlord has 7 days to begin control measures and schedule inspection of adjoining units. Treatment is to be carried out by a licensed pest management professional. After written notice to the landlord of suspected infestation, a tenant shall grant access for inspection/treatment and comply with the control protocol established by the landlord or the landlord’s pest management professional. The bill also bans tenant treatment of a rental unit. Furthermore, if the tenant or the tenant’s guest causes an infestation, the tenant shall pay the cost of treatment for that unit and any other areas where bedbugs have spread. The bill specifically states the landlord is not liable, except in cases of negligence, for damages arising from an infestation or treatment. The legislation also allows a landlord and tenant to agree in writing how responsibility is to be assigned for costs associated with an infestation. Finally, there is a preemption of local ordinances for control or treatment of bedbugs in conflict with the provisions of the bill. The legislation has been referred to the Committee on Regulatory Reform for action.
Posted in 2019, AUGUST 2019 | Comments Off on Advocacy Update

Life-Saving Tips To Help Beat The Heat

Written by AJ Hale Jr. CSM-LSP, CompOne Administrators Safety & Loss Prevention Risk Manager

Heat stress can be more than a minor inconvenience for those who work in extremely warm conditions. Knowing how to prevent, identify and treat its symptoms can literally save lives.
In case of EXTREME TEMPERATURES, the following procedure is to assist in identifying times and applications when employees may be under duress from extremes of heat. This is caused by extreme weather conditions in the inside and or outside of the facility, the environment which ultimately has an effect on temperature whether or not employees are inside or outside of facility working.
This procedure applies to all employees, all shifts, and all working days when the outside temperature, (as reported by the bureau of meteorology) reaches a high of 86° F or above.

Reference:
“Work in hot or cold environments” Work-Cover code of practice Training material on Dehydration in the workplace, NOAA, National Weather Service

Procedure:
Monitoring of the daily forecast by the supervisors coordinator and the management team will determine a course of action to be taken. Cold water shall be readily available to all employees. If you use water coolers, please keep in mind they can sometimes become warm due to extremes of temperature and constant usage.

Alternatives are to be provided when:

  • Monitoring of the outside weather temperatures through the bureau of meteorology signals temperatures of 86° F or above.
  • Staff consultation proves that the water coolers are becoming warm.
  • Humidity increases and the source of heat cannot be removed.

Under these circumstances, provision of 4-5 gallons of clean, fresh, iced water will be made with the choice of flavored cordial if desired by employees. This will encourage fluid intake and prevent dehydration and related illnesses.

Steps to consider:

  • Monitor temperature, humidity and worker’s physical response to hot environmental conditions
  • Inform and train employees to recognize symptoms of heat related illness.
  • Provide frequent rest breaks and rotate duties where possible.
  • Provide fluids and encourage workers to make up for body fluid lost through sweating.
  • A useful rule of thumb is that workers should drink at least half a liter of water each hour if hot environment results in excessive sweating.
  • Provide fresh water supply for washing and external cooling
  • Remove heat through exhaust systems or circulation of fans.

Responsibility of the Supervisors and the management team:

  • To acknowledge when temperatures outside reach 86°F. At that stage iced water and cordial must be made available for all employees.
  • Make employees aware of the fluid placement and encourage them to take in fluid and remain hydrated.
  • The EH&S coordinator is to provide constant refresher training through communication meetings and toolbox talks during the summer months.

Responsibility of the supervisors and managers:

  • To ensure that a reminder goes out if the heat and humidity increases to extreme levels.
  • To ensure that employees understand the effects of exposure to hot environments and steps are taken to reduce the risks when and where possible.
  • Conduct reminders through toolbox talks and consultation with employees.

Responsibility of the employee:

  • To take action and be responsible for their own health and well-being by increasing fluid intake when necessary.
  • To raise concerns with the management if adequate fluids are not available.
  • To be aware that consultation is a vital part of the process to ensure the safety of them and their colleagues in line with own duty of care requirements.

Posted in 2019, July 2019, Uncategorized | Comments Off on Life-Saving Tips To Help Beat The Heat