Make Halloween safe, not scary

By Erik Harden, BWC Public Information Officer

Halloween is an annual favorite for kids, right up there with Christmas. Unfortunately, it is also one of the deadliest.

Fading daylight, dark costumes, and excited kids darting into the street make children twice as likely to be struck by a car and killed on Halloween than any other day of the year.* Because excited trick-or-treaters often forget about safety, motorists must be extra careful.

Follow these Halloween driving safety tips.

  • Avoid distractions, so you can stay alert. Put your cell phone away and don’t reach for things until you’re safely stopped.
  • Slow down in residential neighborhoods and obey all traffic signs and signals. Drive at least 5 mph below the posted speed limit to give yourself extra time to react to children who may dart into the street.
  • Scan your surroundings and be extra alert. Kids may not be paying attention to traffic and will cross the street mid-block or between parked cars and in dark costumes. At twilight and later in the evening, watch for children in dark clothing.
  • Don’t pass other vehicles that have stopped in the roadway. They could be picking up or dropping off children, so wait several seconds before attempting to pass, and only if you see there are no people near the car.
  • Exit driveways and pull onto streets with extreme caution. Children have a harder time judging how a driver will react and are more likely to think they have the okay to go ahead.

Follow these tips when sending kids out trick-or-treating.

  • Don’t send young children out unsupervised. A responsible adult should accompany younger children on the neighborhood rounds.
  • Make them easier to see. Have children wear reflective tape, use glowsticks, or carry a flashlight.
  • Make safe choices. Remain on well-lit streets, always use the sidewalk, cross the street in crosswalks and intersections.
  • Have a plan. If your older children are going alone, plan and review a route acceptable to you. Agree on a time for them to be back home.

Visit the National Safety Council’s website for more Halloween safety tips. *Statistic provided by Safe Kids Worldwide.

My experience in BWC’s Safety Leaders Fellowship Program

By Kennedy Gardner, BWC Occupational Safety & Hygiene Fellow

Like many recent college graduates, I struggled to figure out what I wanted to pursue after graduating. I knew I wanted a good job where I could make a difference, continue to learn new skills, and start a rewarding career.

I found all of this when BWC offered me a position with its Safety Leaders Fellowship Program within the Division of Safety and Hygiene (DSH). The fellowship is not an internship; it is a full-time, two-year term position with benefits where I work alongside other professionals in the safety and health field.

I spend about 25% of my time as a fellow learning about the consultative services we offer by shadowing our safety consultants out in the field. I observe and assist the consultants on visits ranging from safety assessments to helping employers apply for a safety grant. Assisting employers with their safety and health programs is the most rewarding part of the fellowship for me, because I feel like I am making a difference in the real world of safety for everyday employees right here in Ohio.

In addition to shadowing the consultants, I’ve also had the chance to learn more about safety by completing training (in class and online) as part of the fellowship program. I have always loved learning, and I think it is awesome BWC supports continued education for its employees.

I have taken more than 25 training classes on occupational safety and health topics so far in my time here. These are the same training classes we offer to Ohio’s employers. The classes, available through the safety courses page on our website, range in topics from hazard communication to OSHA recordkeeping. They have provided a great foundation in occupational health and safety for me to build upon in the future.

As part of the fellowship, we work on different projects with various DSH program areas to advance BWC’s mission. For example, I have taken the lead with developing our new safety bulletins. These bulletins are meant to provide safety tips and resources about urgent safety topics affecting Ohio’s workers. We email them to targeted employers and post them on our website, so the information is available to everyone.

The first safety bulletin on power lawn mower safety is already available and another bulletin on trenching safety is in the works. Just knowing that the safety bulletins have the potential to help protect Ohio workers and that I was involved in the process was an awesome experience!

Getting the chance to learn from seasoned safety professionals, continue my education, and be a part of meaningful projects here at BWC are building the foundation to a rewarding career. I am thankful for the opportunity and excited about my future!

High-hazard employers find success with BWC consulting program

By Ben Smigielski, BWC Occupational Safety & Hygiene Fellow

Egelhof Controls Corporation worked with BWC’s OSHA On-Site consultants to help it attain Safety and Health Achievement Recognition Program accreditation.

It’s amazing how 10 words – We’re strictly consultative. We cannot issue citations or propose penalties – can ease the minds of employers when they hear them from a BWC OSHA on-site consultant.

When most employers hear the word “OSHA,” they instantly think of the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration, big government, and costly fines and citations. But that’s not the case with BWC’s OSHA On-Site Consultation Program. We are dedicated to providing no-cost consultation on a voluntary basis.

That’s right, no cost. Just click on your county for contact information and give us a call.

This program gives priority to smaller private employers in high-hazard industries, often with incredible success.

How it works

An employer requests this confidential consultation through BWC. Employers can ask for an inspection of their entire workplace, or just focus on one or more specific areas of concern. This allows them to tailor the consultation to their liking, involving them in the process rather than just simply running through a rigid process. The program also offers:

  • Safety program assistance.
  • Safety and hygiene training or seminars.
  • Printed and electronic resources.

Using these services helps employers improve safety and health management systems. It also helps them recognize and remove hazards from the workplace, which reduces worker injury and illness rates. In turn, this can lead to a variety of other positive effects, such as decreasing workers’ comp costs, improving worker morale, and increasing productivity.

Creating success stories

One such success story is Egelhof Controls Corporation of Toledo. The company achieved Safety and Health Achievement Recognition Program (SHARP) accreditation from OSHA in March 2018. The company earned the distinction after working for months with BWC consultants to make changes to safety programs, work processes, and management’s role in safety.

SHARP accreditation recognizes employers with exemplary safety and health programs. It acknowledges their success in instilling health and safety practices (along with implementing a culture of health and safety) in their workplace.

Perhaps we could help your company accomplish the same. We are here to help. If you think implementing safety measures might be too burdensome and costly, consider this question: What are the costs of NOT investing in safety?

To request an OSHA On-site consultation, submit the request online. Please have your BWC policy number ready. A safety consultant will contact you within two business days. 

Celebrate National Ergonomics Month with some new moves

By Delia Treaster, Ph.D., CPE, BWC Ergonomic Technical Advisor

Have you ever noticed your wrists hurt after hours of working at the computer or your back hurts after standing all day at work? Over time, these daily discomforts can add up, leading to undue physical stress, chronic pain and even injury.

That’s why practicing proper workplace ergonomics is important, and there’s no better time than now. October is National Ergonomics Month – a month the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society has designated to recognize the relationship between humans and their work environment.

Ergonomics involves the practice of refining the design of products and workplaces to optimize them for humans.

Here are some tips, new moves and small changes to improve your workplace ergonomics.

Practice Neutral Posture
Neutral posture is the spine’s natural aligned position. It’s important to keep your spine in neutral position as much as possible to avoid pain and injury. A few helpful tips include:

  • Keeping the top of your computer monitor at or slightly below eye height, so your head is level and not tilted up or down.
  • Keeping your feet flat on the ground when you’re sitting in your chair.
  • Using lumbar support in chairs to prevent low back pain.

Get Up and Move
Prolonged sitting can lead to back and neck pain and even long-term health problems. It’s a good idea to get up and move every 30 minutes during the day. Set a reminder if you have to and get up and move your body for a few minutes every half hour. This could mean taking a brisk walk or just standing and stretching. It will also help boost your energy and improve circulation.

Stretch!
Get into the habit of stretching throughout the day. Take quick breaks to touch your toes, stretch your arms, and reach upwards over your head. You’d be surprised how much better a little stretching can make you feel throughout the day.

For more tips to stay safe and healthy in your work environment, visit BeSafeOhio.com.

Our $1.5 billion employer dividend a confluence of safety, savings and investment

By Stephanie McCloud, BWC Administrator/CEO

Local elected and business leaders join employees at American Producers Supply Inc. in Marietta Wednesday morning for a check presentation from Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation Administrator/CEO Stephanie McCloud (holding check). The check represents the company’s share of BWC’s dividend of up to $1.5 billion for Ohio employers this fall.

You know it is a good day when everyone is smiling as you arrive at their door.

That’s the reception I received this morning from the good people of American Producers Supply Co. in Marietta, Ohio, where I gathered with local business and elected leaders to kick off our 2019 dividend check distribution.

I presented company leaders with a giant ceremonial check for $48,248.64 and told the audience a total of $14.1 million in checks were headed to the Marietta region over the next month. (The region includes Washington, Monroe, Noble, Morgan and Athens counties.)

All told, we’ll be sending roughly 177,000 checks to Ohio’s private and public employers covered by the State Insurance Fund starting Sept. 26.

The checks, which could reach up to $1.5 billion in all, represent 88% of the premiums employers paid in policy year 2017.

Our Board of Directors approved this dividend in June. This was the agency’s fifth billion-dollar dividend since 2013, and it marked the continuation of a remarkable run of strong investment returns and falling injury claims. BWC’s cost-saving initiatives also contributed to the dividend.

Those falling claims are in part due to our economy becoming more service-oriented. But they also show Ohio’s public and private employers are placing more importance on safety in the workplace. That is an approach we will always applaud.

The governor and I know Ohio’s economy prospers when more money is available for capital improvements, hiring, safety and innovation.

“We are committed to providing resources for Ohio businesses to expand, support their employees, and become stronger competitors in the global marketplace,” Governor DeWine said just before my Marietta trip. “Because of BWC’s leadership and strong investments, Ohio employers will now have the opportunity to make additional investments in their businesses.”

Joe Wesel, American Producers Supply’s executive vice president and general manager, is taking that to heart. His dividend check is going right back into the business.

American Producers Supply general manager Joe Wesel tells the crowd he will invest the dividend check in company safety programs.

“We plan to use these funds to enhance our safety program and support the health and wellness program we recently created for our employees,” Mr. Wesel said this morning.

“We employ more than 200 workers in 13 locations around Ohio and the Midwest, and safety is one of our core values. We absolutely believe workplace accidents are preventable with the right approach, and BWC has been instrumental in helping us make that part of our culture here.”

We look forward to sharing this good news with other employers across our state in the coming weeks.

We know these dividends aren’t a guarantee every year, but I sure enjoy the experience and all those smiles! It’s my honor and privilege to be a part of it. I want to thank everyone involved — Ohio’s employers, workers and BWC staff — for making it happen. Thank you.

Talk safety with us at the Farm Science Review

By Erik Harden, BWC Public Information Officer

With nearly 78,000 farms producing $9.3 billion in revenue, Ohio is one of the top five states in the U.S. for agriculture.

This robust industry remains a critical component of Ohio’s economy and one of the state’s major industries for employment. It’s also high-hazard work with great potential for workplace injuries and, unfortunately, even fatalities.

With all of this in mind, our Division of Safety & Hygiene (DSH) is once again promoting its programs and services at the Farm Science Review – one of the premier agricultural trade and education shows in the nation. Hosted by The Ohio State University, the event starts today and runs through Thursday at the Molly Caren Agricultural Center in London, Ohio.

For the fourth consecutive year, DSH representatives will be available at our booth to speak with attendees about the free programs and services we offer to assist employers and workers in Ohio’s agribusiness.

For example, our industrial hygienists can help farms guard against environmental hazards, including chemicals, pesticides, fertilizers, dust, mold, and extreme noise and temperatures.

Our ergonomists can illustrate ways to cut down on hazards resulting from:

  • Manual materials handling.
  • Repetitive, hand-intensive work.
  • Poor workstation design.
  • Sedentary work.

Our safety consultants can help prevent common but costly injuries to protect the bottom line of Ohio’s agriculture businesses and their workers.

If you’re going to Farm Science Review this week, stop by and see us! We’re booth No. 32 in Building 513.

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