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Monday, August 11, 2014

Do Safety Incentive Programs Work?

Written by guest blogger Alec Raymond, LSCI OSH Consultant

It is common for many companies that are looking to take a proactive measure towards safety to implement incentive programs for their employees. However, safety experts debate the effectiveness of incentive programs, while OSHA outright discourages them. Let’s discuss the risks associated with incentive programs and how can they be implemented in a way that actually does encourage safe practices.

The Downside of Implementing Safety Incentive Programs

The main reason that incentive programs are disparaged so much by OSHA officials is that employers tend to focus on lagging indicators—low workplace injury rates, near misses reported, etc— as the measure of the program’s success. For example, an employer looking to reduce on-the-job injuries might start a program where, if a certain period of time goes by without any recorded injuries, then all of the company’s workers will be entered in to a drawing for a cash prize. While effective in the short run, programs like these tend to lead to underreporting of incidents by employees for fear of losing the potential prize. This phenomenon has come to be known as “the bloody pocket syndrome,” named after the idea of an employee injuring their hand while on the job and, instead of reporting the injury to management, hides it in their pocket so as not to miss out on their potential reward for meeting the incentive goals. Companies that have incentive programs rewarding individuals or groups of workers for not having recorded injuries or time off violates OSHA policy, because of its discriminatory nature against those who report or incur injuries.

How to Make Safety Incentive Programs Effective

So how can programs be created that reward safe practices without encouraging workers to underreport injuries or ignore violations? Instead of focusing on lagging indicators, as a measure of company safety, management should incentivize employees based on leading indicators—events or measures that serve as indicators for future employee activity, such as:
Management must show their commitment by making their safety goals clear from the start, encouraging employees to be proactive about addressing potential workplace hazards, and giving constant feedback.
While safety incentive programs have the potential to be effective, they can also foster a culture of dishonest behavior and discrimination amongst workers. It all comes down to the management’s dedication, and what they base incentives around.

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posted by GMcConnell - 12:36:00 PM - - Permanent Link to This Article

Monday, July 21, 2014

5S-ing the Home

Written by Angelique Sanders

A few years ago my rent increased dramatically and I had to find a new place and move while very busy with work. My new home had very little storage space and unpacking was done hastily, so I didn't put much of a system in place. I lived there for two years and never took the time to put together a solid system. Pans weren't near the stove, cups were far from the sink, and coming out of the shower in need of a fresh towel meant raining onto carpet while running to a distant hall closet. Everything I needed always seemed to be far away and I spent a lot of time running around unnecessarily.

The same situation is pretty common in workplaces. We inherit our work environment and though when we're new we might question why the hammers are here yet the nails are over there, we are busy with other things and eventually settle into the status quo. One day we find ourselves training our replacement and explaining that the hammers are here and the nails are there.
This is one of the glories of 5S. It mandates that we create a system, that we take the time to put the hammers and nails together and move them both to where we'd mostly likely be when we need them. 5S requires us to spend the time upfront, so that over the long haul we'll be less bogged down with time bleeds.

When I bought a new place, I learned from my previous mistakes and decided to bone up on 5S, so that the precepts I'd put into place at work could be enacted at home too. While the word 'productivity' typically calls to mind assembly lines and intense hands-on work, there isn't any reason to waste free time running around for towels or pans. Efficiency at home doesn't increase profit but it earns me the right to sit down and enjoy some found quiet time.

So if you'd like to be a machine of efficiency at home like you are at work, here are some suggestions. If you find this project too daunting, do it in sprints…just set aside time for the first step now. Once you feel the results, you'll find it easier to make time for future steps.

Step 1: Sort and Red Tag (in theory)

Though at work this step involves red tagging, at home I simply call it Making a Pile for Goodwill. Start out by defining junk. My personal standard is, if I haven't used it for a year it needs to be tossed. Some things just aren't used frequently because they're specialty, like a steam cleaner or turkey baster, but make sure these items are placed in non-prime real estate such as a bottom drawer, hard-to-reach top cupboard or back closet. This is the time to stop lying to yourself that you'll soon fix that broken-for-two-years-now clock. Get rid of it and don't look back.

Step 2: Set in Order (don't just relocate the garbage)

This step is my personal favorite because it's where the real magic happens. Identify time bleeds. When you're in the kitchen, do you criss-cross to get the right implements to the right place? What is in that hall closet? No one hangs out in the hall so those items are getting utilized from other rooms. If they're frequently utilized, they should be moved into the room where they're needed, with less frequently used items getting retired into that space. In other words if you have to dig for cotton swabs in the hall closet every day yet you have a stash of guest towels in the bathroom that you need once per quarter, trade those items. Think about your home as a series of workstations. Are necessary tools nearby? When you're getting ready for work do you move in a linear fashion or are you running around to different rooms and colliding with family members? If you can shave five minutes off your time, that's five more minutes of sleep every day, which is 30 hours over the course of a year.

Step 3: Shine, or at least make it less grubby

I think few people are big fans of cleaning but it can streamline your processes if you remove clutter from your path. Navigating around a pile of dirty laundry each day may not be just a matter of cleaning but in auditing the system so that the pile—which, let's face it, WILL accumulate again—is out of the way of foot traffic.

Now is the time to pay attention to frayed wire, leaking pipes, or other potential future issues. If you don't have time to deal with it then call in some help, trade specialized labor with a friend or bring in a specialist. Get 'er done, as they say. We all have infinite lists of pending tasks and the collective mental weight of this can be like schlepping around a backpack. When this stuff is taken care of, you'll feel less bogged down and ready to conquer new things.

Step 4: Standardize and Schedule

Just as in a workplace where an ideal environment finds the special abilities of each employee and hones in on those talents, a family should find the ideal niche for each member. If your son loves the outdoors, put him in charge of weeding. With task ownership comes accountability and pride, and he'll be more likely to put in 110%.

Set a schedule for these tasks and a penalty for noncompletion or reward for completion. Allowance or increased privileges are an obvious path for the kids but what about the adults of the family? To each his own pleasure. If you want to enjoy a favorite show, set that as a reward for recaulking the tub. Don't allow yourself that morning cup of coffee until the dishwasher is unloaded. Like Pavlov's dogs, you're retraining your behavior with positive reinforcement and enticing the transition to the more orderly person you wish to become.

Step 5: Sustain

Just as you might set aside Friday afternoons at work to sort through email or return tools to the tool crib, schedule regular time at home to clean and audit the organizational system, establishing a pattern. Did the laundry pile re-grow back into its former place? There will be some creep after a system overhaul as you are trying to defeat entrenched bad habits. Scheduling time to rectify is important not only to restore order but to remind yourself of the goals and help retrain toward more orderly habits. 

I like to walk through the house before going to bed to verify that things are in good order—the stove is off, no food has been left out, the alarm clock is set. Schedule a few minutes each day to assess, then you know what needs to get done even if you can't tackle it then.

Changing your household system won't happen by just walking through these 5S steps; you have to set better systems in place and adhere. If bad patterns creep in again, imagine that you're at work and click into productive mode while attacking the house. Home contains a lot of associations of relaxation whereas the workplace atmosphere has a way of herding people into active mode, and you need that type of thinking to conquer the mess.

It's too bad that dirt will perpetually accumulate on everything and things will always break, but with a new system and good habits in place, you'll be a step ahead of the chaos.

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posted by GMcConnell - 2:40:00 PM - - Permanent Link to This Article

Tuesday, July 01, 2014

What's not to like about OSHA?

Written by guest blogger Allison Richards, LSCI OSH Consultant
Throughout every industry, there are a lot of different opinions regarding OSHA. Some opinions are positive, but a lot of them reflect a negative attitude toward the agency. Often, companies blame OSHA for the loss of production and profit. It is widely believed that an OSHA inspection will result in a negative outcome. With personal opinions aside, what do the statistics prove? What attitude toward safety and OSHA should you as an employer take?

The numbers don’t lie; since OSHA was formed in 1970, the workforce has more than doubled in size while work-related deaths have been reduced by 65% and workplace injuries have been reduced by 67%! While we can all agree this is promising news, further studies have shown how OSHA is affecting the individual employer, which is just another motivational factor for seeking OSHA compliance.

Aside from saving lives and protecting workers from injury or illness, OSHA has been linked to the reduction in workers compensation costs. A study by professors of business at Harvard, University of California, Berkley, and Boston University titled, “Randomized Government Safety Inspections Reduce Worker Injuries with no Detectable Job Loss.” The study focused on businesses that were selected by Cal/OSHA’s randomized inspections. Data showed that work related injury claims were reduced by 9.4% at the businesses who had been inspected by OSHA. Additionally, these companies saved a total of 26% on workers compensation costs in contrast to companies who hadn't been inspected. In 2011, this resulted in an average savings of $355,000! The study concluded that the nation’s employers could have saved around $20 billion from OSHA inspections similar to those studied from Cal/OSHA’s randomized inspections. Keep in mind that on top of the direct savings, employers would have saved in indirect costs such as loss of production or a decrease in employee morale.

Safety is like any other aspect of running a business. On the outside, it may seem like you are
continually forking out money to implement a safety program, purchase engineering controls and PPE, or paying fines to OSHA after an inspection. However, complying with OSHA’s regulations and establishing an effective safety program at your company will undoubtedly reduce workplace injuries and illnesses, improve employee morale, and increase profitability! So, I’ll ask again, what’s not to like about OSHA?

Harvard Business School

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posted by GMcConnell - 9:32:00 AM - - Permanent Link to This Article

Wednesday, June 04, 2014

Why Having a “We’ve Never Had An Accident” Attitude is Dangerous

Written by guest blogger Brandon Moore, LSCI OSH Consultant

“We’ve never had an accident.” It is a sentence we hear all the time. It is a similar argument to car insurance and health insurance. “I’ve never wrecked my car,” or “I don’t have major health issues,” do not always win the argument for not having car and health insurance. After a prolonged period of time with things going smoothly, we get a false sense of security that nothing bad will happen. We can feel invincible (like an elephant walking on a tightrope). Unfortunately, that seems to be about the time an accident happens, and it is too late. So why should companies invest in safety even though they haven’t had an accident or an OSHA citation?

In normal day to day activities, we tend to see a lot of the same things at work and at home. The repetition may cause us to not even think twice about what we are seeing.  For example, some office workers may type an email addressed to “Brain” instead of “Brian”. Without Spellcheck catching the error, the mistake can go unnoticed. In our homes, we may not give second thought to a non-skid surface in our tubs and showers. That one time you almost slip and fall in the tub can make you reconsider those little rubber ducky mats. The same can be said for a construction site or a production plant. Ask yourself this, are there any hazards I see at work every day that I am not giving thought to?

Investing in a safety program is an excellent way to prevent accidents and injuries. Utilizing an outside safety consulting company, such as LSCI, is a great way to bring in someone with fresh eyes. We can inspect your facility or jobsite to see what hazards exist that you may be walking past every day, or conduct a training with information that may have never been presented before. LSCI can even help to form your own safety committee in the workplace so that you can work as a team to assess hazards.

You may have never had an accident, but why risk it? Frequent and periodic training, coupled with site inspections and a safety committee are the best preventative measures to utilize to keep your employees safe. Call LSCI today to see where we can assist you.  Let us be your “rubber ducky mat”.

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posted by GMcConnell - 10:36:00 AM - - Permanent Link to This Article

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Top 10 Safety Violations and What You Can Do To Avoid Them - Guest Blogger

Written by guest blogger Cindy Abbott, LSCI OSH Consultant

Safety isn't simply about wearing your hard hat and safety glasses. Each standard, whether it be machine guarding or occupational noise exposure, has its own requirements and rules to follow. The requirements have not been made randomly; they have been developed, reviewed, and updated as changes in the workplace occur. In fact, OSHA publishes a list of the Top 10 Most Frequently Cited Standards for every fiscal year. Reviewing the list will give you insight to the standards that most employers are affected by. Keep in mind that these are the most common cited standards, but not the only ones. More information can be found at or by contacting Lancaster Safety Consulting, Inc.


Familiarize your employees with the difference between fall prevention and fall protection for work that is performed 6 feet or more above a lower level. If you can implement effective measures of fall prevention, such as a guardrail system (top rail, mid rail, and toe board) or safety net system, then you are eliminating the hazard. However, fall prevention means are not always feasible, which is where fall protection comes into play. Employees can use the assistance of a personal fall arrest system that would include a body harness and lanyard. Different types, sizes, and lengths are available to accommodate the employee and the situation.


Familiarity with chemicals, SDSs, labels, etc. is a key factor to preventing accidents involving chemical exposure. With OSHA’s recent revision to the Hazard Communication standard this is even more important. The standard has been aligned with the UN Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS). Employees will need to be trained on the new hazard classification criteria, pictograms, labeling requirements, and the safety data sheet (SDS) 16-section format. All employers must have trained their employees on the new label elements and the SDS format by December 1, 2013; other required elements are due within the upcoming years.


Whether you are using a supported scaffold or a suspended scaffold, the requirements are extremely detailed and meticulous. Scaffolds must be designed by a qualified person and be constructed and loaded in accordance with the original design. Any components made by a different manufacturer may not be intermixed with the original structure unless a competent person determines that the result is structurally sound. Scaffolds and components must be visually inspected by a competent person before each work shift; any parts that are damaged/defected must be immediately repaired or replaced.  Maintain appropriate clearances between scaffolds and power lines. All employees on a scaffold that is more than 10 feet above a lower level must be protected from falls.


Respiratory protection is quite often one of the most overlooked standards, when in reality it is one of the easiest to comply with by following these simple steps:
  • Evaluate the workplace and determine if employees are exposed to harmful dusts, mists, vapors, or other respiratory ailments.
  • Contact one of OSHA’s free state-consultation services or a local company to conduct air sampling.
  • If respirators are required, purchase the most suitable type and have employees medically evaluated, cleared, and fit tested.
  • If respirators are not required, make certain that any employees who voluntarily wear dust masks have read and signed Appendix D.
Ensure employees keep respirators and dust masks in a clean, sanitary condition.


Key elements of this standard include:
  • Temporary wiring shall only be using for a period of time not exceeding 90 days, during maintenance, remodeling, or repair of buildings, and/or experimental/developmental work.
  • Flexible cords shall only be used as temporary wiring and plugged into an approved outlet. They should not be used as a substitute for fixed wiring or run through doorways, windows, walls, or ceilings.
  • Fittings, frames, cable trays, cable sheaths, metal raceways, and other non-current carrying parts serving as grounding conductors shall be effectively bonded.
Wiring systems shall not be installed in ducts used for ventilation, vapor removal, or transportation of dust or flammable vapors.


Whether employees are operating forklifts, tractors, platform lift trucks, motorized hand trucks, or other specialized industrial trucks, they must be certified to do so. Certifications encompass formal instruction, practical training, and a performance evaluation that is valid for three (3) years. Ensure employees are performing pre-operation inspections of the equipment and reporting any damages or defects immediately for servicing. Keep certifications valid and equipment in working order to avoid citations if OSHA knocks at your door.


Perform pre-use inspections to look for damages, cracks, missing rungs, slipping hazards, etc. Immediately tag damaged ladders out-of-service until they have been repaired. Do not load ladders beyond the maximum intended load, tie or fasten ladders to make longer sections, or paint them with any type of coating that can cover cracks or defects. Always maintain three (3) points of contact and face the ladder when climbing. Use the quarter safety rule for throwing portable ladders and properly brace them before climbing. Fixed ladders must be equipped with a ladder safety device, self-retracting lifeline, or cage if the length of the climb is more than 24 feet.

8. LOCKOUT/TAGOUT 1910.147

Equipment must be properly locked and tagged out during any maintenance or servicing of equipment where there is the potential for re-energization of the machine or a release of stored energy. The simplest way to maintain compliance is to audit all machines and develop machine-specific lockout/tagout procedures for future servicing. Ensure employee retention by conducting mandatory, periodic (at least annually) inspections of the energy control procedures with all authorized employees. And remember, when in doubt, lock it out.


All electric equipment must be examined to ensure it is free from recognized hazards. The examination includes suitability for insulation, mechanical strength, wire-bending and connections, electrical insulation, heating effects under all conditions, and arcing effects. Ensure all electrical equipment is properly labeled with the manufacturer’s name, trademark, and voltage, current, wattage, etc. Electric panel boxes shall be free from obstructions and have a clear workspace that is at least 36” in depth in front and a width of at least 30 inches or the width of the panel box, whichever is greater.


Point of operation, ingoing nip points, rotating parts, flying chips and sparks are all hazards associated with machinery that require the use of guarding. If a machine comes from the manufacturer with guards affixed, do not alter or remove them. If they become damaged, immediately tag the equipment out of service until the guarding can be replaced. Sometimes, machines are not provided with guarding. It also isn’t the manufacturer’s concern. As an employer, it is your responsibility to evaluate each piece of equipment to determine any hazards associated. Develop appropriate means of guarding to protect the worker, even if it has the potential to alter production methods. Employee protection always comes before employee production.

posted by GMcConnell - 7:42:00 AM - - Permanent Link to This Article