Injury Prevention Best Practices – Part II

WRITTEN BY GARY SMITH, APARTMENT BUILDING MANAGEMENT WORKERS COMPENSATION SELF INSURED FUND

In last month’s article, we directed attention on improving the overall effectiveness of our safety programming by considering items #1 and #2 below:

  1. Safety Roles and Responsibilities
  2. Safety Planning and Loss Analysis
  3. Safety Program and Process
  4. Education and Training

Now, let’s consider items #3 – Safety Program and Process and #4 – Education and Training to bring our review of best practices together.

Safety Program and Process
These two elements, a written safety program (i.e., what to do) and internal safety process (i.e. how to do it), may be developed as one document. They are both necessary for internal safety standards to be established, communicated, and followed.

Many safety program templates exist that can be further customized to meet your organizations specific needs. For efficient and effective internet searches, follow this advice: If, for example, a written safety program template is needed, type into a Google search, safety program+*.doc, and then select the best template from the results.

The safety process element should be kept as simple as possible while still maintaining effectiveness. Like any successful recipe, identify the ingredients, quantities, order of addition, and any other pertinent information that will bring the best possible results. So, a safety process will include the critical steps (e.g. complete new hire safety orientation checklist, and so on). Whatever the process, keep it simple, document it, and follow it. Remember, “simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” -Leonardo da Vinci

Lastly, be sure to perform an annual review of all programming, and make any necessary revisions. Schedule specific dated and times to review relevant regulatory updates and industry changes.

Education and Training
Identify all safety education and training requirements by creating a matrix (i.e., safety subjects and job positions within the organization), and then schedule dates/times to complete it during the calendar year.

Next, consider the difference between education and training as explained by E. Scott Geller, Ph.D., author of The Psychology of Safety Handbook, 1st and 2nd editions:

Education – People need to understand and believe in the rationale, theory and principles underlying a particular set of program procedures, and this is commonly referred to as education. Education targets thought processes directly, and might indirectly influence what people do. Education most directly affects attitudes, beliefs, values, intentions, and perceptions. Education = Attitudes and Beliefs.

Training – Understanding, belief, or awareness is not sufficient, however, to implement a new procedure or process. People need to learn the specific behaviors or activities required for successful implementation… This requires training, and should include behavior-based observation and feedback. Training most directly affects behaviors. Training = Behaviors.

Both education and training are necessary for an effective injury prevention program, and consider the needs for these four types:

Orientation
This process often includes the many aspects of the operations (i.e. work processes, paperwork, etc.), but be sure to provide a solid emphasis on injury prevention right up front. Focus on critical areas of concern, which should include past injury experience resulting in high frequency (i.e., number of claims) and high severity (i.e., cost of claims). Create the context for new workers so they have a better appreciation for the safety programming and injury prevention efforts. The company safety culture will benefit by taking time to explain and create buy-in.

Refresher
Injury prevention efforts often work best with short duration and high frequency training. Content (i.e., messaging) needs to be repeated before it is fully heard and understood. It is often stated that it takes seven times to repeat a message to accomplish this goal. So, think “short duration, high frequency” while providing new examples or stories so that the material stays fresh.

Supervisory
In additional to regulatory-required training, supervisors should receive additional education and training to recognize hazards, perform worker observations, provide coaching to reinforce safe work habits, and help to maintain/strengthen a culture of safety. Investment in supervisory level training provides continuous positive benefits to an organization’s injury prevention program.
Safety Committee
A well-educated and trained committee provides numerous benefits to an organization’s injury prevention program. When healthy, these teams drive safety cultures to higher levels of performance, create better worker buy-in for programming elements and foster higher levels of job satisfaction.

So, in 2018, consider improving the overall effectiveness of your organization’s safety programming by diligent use of these best practices.

Should you require assistance with safety program and process development, or safety education and training, please contact Gary Smith, CRM, at (517) 338-3367 or gary.smith@yorkrsg.com

Posted in 2018, February 2018, Uncategorized | Comments Off on Injury Prevention Best Practices – Part II

Advocacy Update

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

Emotional Support Animal Bill Would Strengthen State Law

New legislation in the Michigan Senate would strengthen state law to help prevent the false representation of possession of an emotional support animal. Senate Bill 663, introduced last November, would expand upon the current state law that provides for penalties for false representation of a service animal.

First, the bill would add a definition of emotional support animal and include such an animal in the section barring an individual from falsely representing possession of a service animal. Importantly, the bill adds specific reference to landlords and housing providers in this section.

Second, the bill proposes to add requirements for those health care providers who certify the need for emotional support animals or service animals. Those requirements include:

  • That the health care provider be licensed in Michigan or another state
  • That the health care provider maintain a physical office space where patients are treated regularly
  • Documentation of treatment of the person with the disability for at least 6 months before the date an entity requests documentation of validity of a disability and the need for an emotional support or service animal
  • Provide upon request a notarized letter certifying the person is disabled and that the emotional support or service animal is necessary
  • Provide the notarized letter above on an annual basis upon request

Third, the bill would add to the penalty provision in the law that a person who knowingly violates the act shall be evicted from their rental housing. The current penalty provision is a misdemeanor punishable by one or more of the following:

  • Imprisonment for not more than 90 days
  • A fine of not more than $500.00
  • Community service for not more than 30 days

Finally, the bill adds emotional support animal to the section of law directing the Michigan Department of Civil Rights to receive reports of individuals falsely representing possession of a service animal, and it adds health care providers falsely certifying the need for such an animal.

Posted in 2018, February 2018 | Comments Off on Advocacy Update

Injury Prevention Best Practices – Part I

WRITTEN BY GARY SMITH, APARTMENT BUILDING MANAGEMENT WORKERS COMPENSATION SELF INSURED FUND

How can we better prevent injuries in our workplace? In response to this question, the following best practices are offered as essential elements that teams may use to develop, implement and maintain programming effectiveness:

  • Safety Roles and Responsibilities
  • Safety Planning and Loss Analysis
  • Safety Program and Process
  • Education and Training

The benefits of fully utilizing each best practice includes organizational clarity, increased accountability and maximum effectiveness with injury prevention efforts. Simply put, the organization will experience a synergistic effect (i.e., more results with less effort).

So, in Part I, let’s consider the first two best practices: safety roles and responsibilities and safety planning and process.
Safety Roles & Responsibilities

Establish clearly written safety roles and responsibilities for all workers, and ensure everyone knows and understands them. List the key responsibilities for each person’s role in the program. This document should be shared with new hires during orientation training so that they immediately begin to understand the organization’s safety culture. This fosters proactive planning, clarity and accountability.

Safety Planning & Loss Analysis

Establish a planning process for setting injury prevention program goals. Create annual and quarterly goals that will achieve the desired results, and monitor progress towards them. Create focus by selecting only the most important 3-5 things to get done each year and each quarter. This takes some effort to think through and develop, but it is critical for reducing workplace injuries and creating a safe work culture. SMART1 goal setting brings about awareness, focus, accountability and results.

In preparation for the goal setting process, complete a loss analysis using workers’ compensation, auto, and general liability loss runs (Note: Goals should also include the prevention of third-party injury to foster comprehensive injury prevention!). Focus planning, goal setting, and daily efforts on prevention of the top most frequent and most severe injury types. Use simple charts and bar graphs (easily done with Excel or other spreadsheet apps) to communicate performance to all within the organization. Create awareness and maintain focus through loss analysis.

Please be sure to check next month’s article to learn about 3.) a safety program and process and 4.) education and training, and the difference between the two.

Should you require assistance with loss analysis or safety planning, please contact Gary Smith, CRM, at (517) 338-3367 or gary.smith@yorkrsg.com.


Resources: SMART (Goal) Criteria: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SMART_criteria

Posted in 2018, January 2018, Uncategorized | Comments Off on Injury Prevention Best Practices – Part I

Advocacy Update

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

Apartment Inspection Reform Bill Signed By Governor

As a follow-up to my column last month, Governor Snyder has signed the apartment inspection law reform bill passed by the Michigan Legislature. This new law, Public Act 169 of 2017, amends the Housing Law of Michigan to provide that the lessee’s permission is needed prior to local government entry to inspect. Current state law allows a local government to compel an apartment owner, regardless of the resident’s wishes, to provide unit access if the lease allows the owner right of entry at any time. AAM has stated its concern that this is a violation of the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, and lawsuits relating to warrantless searches in other parts of the country support this position. In addition to providing for tenant permission for inspection, the new law lays out the resident notification/inspection scheduling process, specifies certain exceptions (complaints, vacancy, etc.) to the permission requirement, and states the landlord’s duty to allow inspection of common areas. The new law takes effect February 19, 2018.

AAM is holding the following educational sessions to explain the new law, and provide owners with additional resources to be ready for this change. The sessions are free to members and are scheduled for Tuesday, January 23, 2018 at 10:00 am and Tuesday, February 6, 2018 at 10:00 am. These sessions will take place at AAM’s new office, located at 30400 Telegraph Road in Bingham Farms, in the first floor conference room. Register at www.apartments.org.

Voter Registration Legislation Introduced

Legislation has been introduced in the Michigan House of Representatives requiring landlords to provide new tenants with a voter registration application and instructions. House Bill 5266 would amend Michigan’s Landlord and Tenant Relationships Act with a mandatory process for landlords to follow. The bill directs the Secretary of State to post all of this information on its website for landlords to access. The legislation does not apply to sublessees unless the sublessee takes possession of the unit with the landlord’s knowledge. The bill also prescribes a civil infraction and potential fine up to $1,000 for violation of the act.

 

Posted in 2018, January 2018 | Comments Off on Advocacy Update

Preventing Cold Weather Slip & Fall Injuries

WRITTEN BY GARY SMITH, APARTMENT BUILDING MANAGEMENT WORKERS COMPENSATION SELF INSURED FUND

Slips and falls are among the most common hazards in the property management business, especially during colder weather.

According to a Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) analysis conducted using 2014 data, Michigan ranked #3 in the nation (behind #1 New York and #2 Pennsylvania) in the number of lost time, slip and fall injuries resulting from snow and ice. Additionally, the National Floor Safety Institute (www.nfsi.org) reports the following facts:

  • Annually, slips and falls account for over 1 million hospital emergency room visits.
  • Slips and falls do not constitute a primary cause of fatal occupational injuries, but represent the primary cause of lost days from work.
  • Fractures rank as the most serious consequences of falls and occur in 5 percent of all people who fall.

No matter how often snow and ice is removed from walking surfaces, you will still likely encounter slippery surfaces this winter. Walking to and from parking lots, on sidewalks and between buildings during the winter months requires special attention to avoid slipping and falling. Often, we forget how dangerous slipping and falling can be for our health.

Use the following suggestions to help stay slip-and-fall-free this winter.

  • Don’t get caught by surprise. Monitor the weather and changing conditions.
  • Contract with a snow removal company to help keep parking lots clear of snow and ice.
  • Keep adequate supplies of snow and ice removal tools in accessible areas. Assign responsibilities and review the plan for using these tools.
  • Shovel and apply ice melt as necessary to keep walking areas clean and dry.
  • Watch for areas where ice tends to form. Remove ice accumulations promptly and apply additional ice melt to prevent buildup during freeze-thaw cycles.
  • Beware of black ice—a thin, nearly invisible coating of ice caused when temperatures rise above freezing and quickly drop below freezing.
  • Provide good lighting and clear path markings in parking lots and walkways.
  • Clearly identify steps, ramps and other elevation changes that might not be visible in snowy conditions.
  • Walk in designated walkways as much as possible. Taking shortcuts over snow piles and other frozen areas will greatly increase the chances of injury.
  • Look ahead when walking; a snow or ice-covered sidewalk may require travel along its grassy edge for traction.
  • Do the “penguin shuffle.” Walking like a penguin can reduce your chances of slipping and falling. Here’s how:
    – Point your feet out.
    – Keep your head up.
    – Slowly take short steps or shuffle
    – Extend your arms out to your sides for balance and walk flatfooted.
  • Wear shoes or boots that provide traction on snow and ice. Avoid boots or shoes with smooth soles and heels.
  • Consider foot traction products such as Yaktrax® that may be worn over existing shoes or boots. These products have helped athletes, construction crews, public service workers, soldiers, outdoorsmen, and many more walk, run and work on packed snow and ice.
  • Place high quality, beveled edge mats in walking areas subject to water or snow accumulation. Change mats regularly to ensure those in place are dry.
  • Apply a slip-resistant floor treatment in areas that tend to become wet and slippery. Clean and maintain these floors according to the manufacturer’s specifications.
  • Use vehicles for support when getting in and out from a parking location.
  • Get help with carrying packages that are large or heavy so as not to affect balance and obstruct view
  • Lastly, in the event you start falling, try to avoid landing on your knees, wrists, or spine; relax your muscles and fall onto your side.

Should you require additional assistance with preventing cold weather slips and falls in your workplace, please contact Gary Smith, CRM, at (517) 338-3367 or gary.smith@yorkrsg.com.

Resources:

  1. National Floor Safety Institute Slip & Fall Facts: https://nfsi.org/nfsi-research/quick-facts/
  2. OSHA Winter Weather Resources: https://www.osha.gov/dts/weather/winter_weather/
  3. Yaktrax® FAQ: https://www.yaktrax.com/faq

 

Posted in 2017, DECEMBER 2017 | Comments Off on Preventing Cold Weather Slip & Fall Injuries