BWC firefighter grants – protecting those who protect us

By Erik Harden, BWC Public Information Officer

For most of us, doing laundry is a dreaded chore we push to the bottom of our to-do list. For fire departments, it’s critical to keeping firefighters safe and healthy.

Last month, BWC Administrator/CEO Sarah Morrison and Chief Deputy State Fire Marshal Bill Spurgeon, visited the Genoa Township Fire Department in Westerville to watch its staff do laundry (sort of). The two were actually there to see the department washer extractor in action.

The washer extractor is a specialized washing machine that removes carcinogens and toxins from firefighters’ turnout gear after fighting a blaze. The department purchased the washer extractor with help from BWC’s Firefighter Exposure to Environmental Elements Grant (FEEEG) Program. It used $10,075 in grant funds from BWC to replace an aging extractor that was no longer getting the job done.

“Cancer is a leading threat to firefighter health and we take that threat seriously,” says Genoa Township Fire Chief Gary Honeycutt. “We wanted to make sure we are getting this gear as clean as possible.”

While at the station, Administrator Morrison announced BWC would more than double the funding for the grant program. With good reason. As of February 28, the FEEEG Program had awarded 199 grants totaling $2 million with nearly 250 additional grants pending. The program will continue for a second year beginning July 1 with a funding level of $2 million.

The grant program covers more than just washer extractors. Other common purchases include safety gear (e.g., washable gloves, barrier hoods) and exhaust systems. In April, BWC announced 37 fire departments had received nearly $370,000 in grants to purchase equipment.

BWC developed the program because firefighters have a 9 percent higher risk of being diagnosed with cancer and a 14 percent higher risk of dying from cancer than the general public, according to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.

“We wanted to make an investment to make firefighters aware of the importance of taking care of themselves and taking care of their equipment,” says Administrator Morrison.

Other BWC grant programs

Safety Intervention Grant Program
This program provides a 3-to-1 matching grant (up to a maximum of $40,000) to help Ohio employers purchase equipment to substantially reduce or eliminate injuries and illnesses associated with a particular task or operation. It’s not too late to apply for this fiscal year.

Drug-Free Safety Program Grants
These grants assist employers in implementing a drug-free program in their workplace.

Employers Working with Persons with Developmental Disabilities Grant Program
This program assists Ohio employers with ensuring the safety of their staff when carrying out the services they provide to developmentally disabled children and adults. The program is available to eligible Ohio employers who wish to purchase training and/or equipment to substantially reduce or eliminate injuries or illnesses associated with working with developmentally disabled children and adults.

Workplace Wellness Grants
Employers wanting to improve the health and wellness of their workers can benefit from our Workplace Wellness Grant Program. It provides funding to assist employers in establishing training and programs to reduce health risk factors specific to their employees.

A safety program by any other name

PERRP marks 25th anniversary

By Glenn McGinley, Director, Ohio Public Employment Risk Reduction Program

” What’s in a name? that which we call a rose. By any other name would smell as sweet.”  ­­— William Shakespeare

When you meet someone what is one of the first things you do? Usually you introduce yourself and ask the person their name. A person’s name is one aspect of their identity, but, the person is much more than their name.

When I meet people and I introduce myself, many times it is in a professional context. So, in addition to my name I will tell people my job title and the organization I represent. That frequently results in a puzzled glance when I tell them I am the director of PERRP.

This Friday, April 20, 2018, marks the 25th anniversary of the Ohio Public Employment Risk Reduction Program (PERRP). The anniversary is a significant milestone in Ohio public employee safety and yet, so few people understand what the program does or even that the program exists.

Most people recognize the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and when asked can correctly identify what OSHA does to ensure the safety of workers throughout the country. While OSHA is a more recognizable entity, PERRP is much less recognizable, and many would be hard pressed to explain the acronym or what PERRP does to champion the cause of occupational safety and health.

The purpose and mission of PERRP is to ensure that Ohio public (state and local government) employees have a safe and healthful workplace. The dedicated PERRP team identifies risk factors that could endanger public employees and provides potential solutions to reduce those risks.

During my career with PERRP, explaining the role of the program has been a personal mission. On my journey, I have come to embrace the name and the concepts it conveys. PERRP is an important resource for Ohio public employers and their employees in their efforts to reduce risks that may result in workplace injuries and illnesses.

In the past 25 years, PERRP has identified tens of thousands of risk factors and solutions during inspections and investigations. PERRP recommendations have helped improve the safety and health of public sector workplaces by reducing risk factors. The willingness of public employers to make positive changes has also reduced employee injuries and costs associated with workers’ compensation claims (Figure 1).

While PERRP may not be as well-known as OSHA, I know over the next 25 years the program will continue its mission to improve working conditions for Ohio public employees.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Figure 1: Ohio Public Sector injuries 1993-2018  to date (click to enlarge)
Source: Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation claims data

 

Don’t fall down on the job! Get ready for the 2018 stand-down

By Mike Marr, BWC Technical Resource Consultant

Do you know what the leading cause of worker fatalities is in construction? Each year, between 150 and 200 workers die, and more than 100,000 are injured, as a result of falls at construction sites.

Additionally, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) lists fall protection in construction as its most frequently cited standard.

To raise the level of awareness and reduce injuries and fatalities, OSHA promotes an annual National Safety Stand-Down to Prevent Falls. The stand-down encourages employers across the nation to hold events in conjunction with the multi-day event, May 7-11 this year. As always, the stand-down encourages employers to pause during their workday for topic discussions, safety demonstrations, and trainings in hazard recognition and fall prevention.

We’re hosting a free fall protection training event 9 a.m. to noon May 7 at our Ohio Center for Occupational Safety and Health in Pickerington. To register, visit the BWC Learning Center and enter Stand-Down Event in the search field. The training, provided by Guardian Fall Protection, will feature a fall protection trailer demonstration and classroom instruction.

On May 7, our Garfield Heights Claims Office will also host a stand-down event at 9 a.m. Call Ana Cammarata at (216) 318-9178 to register.

Additionally, we’re partnering with Boak & Sons, Inc. and MALTA Dynamics for a no-cost fall protection training from 7:30 – 8:30 a.m. May 8 at Boak & Sons Inc. location in Austintown. To RSVP, email David.C.12@bwc.state.oh.us or David.L.2@bwc.state.oh.us. We may add more events in the coming weeks.

Don’t forget the BWC Library offers an extensive collection of audiovisual materials related to fall hazards and fall prevention. We also offer year-round classes throughout Ohio to address fall protection requirements.

It’s not too late for your company or organization to plan a stand-down event. We’re here if you need help planning your activity. Just call 1-800-644-6292 for assistance.

To see a list of events in Ohio and across the nation, visit OSHA’s stand-down events page.

Effective safety programs increase profitability by reducing employee injuries

By Keith Bullock, Safety Consultant, BWC Division of Safety and Hygiene, OSHA On-site Consultation Program

As a workplace safety professional, I see firsthand why establishing a safety program may seem daunting to many small businesses. These employers tell me that tight budgets and time constraints are just a few concerns they face.

However, there are effective, low cost and highly flexible options available. The core elements of such a program can be implemented at a basic level suitable for the smallest business, as well as at a more advanced, structured level that may be needed in a larger, more complex organization.

OSHA’s Safety and Health Achievement Recognition Program (SHARP), which recognizes small business employers that operate exemplary injury and illness prevention programs, demonstrates these programs can and do work for small businesses. For example, BWC analyzed the policies of 16 SHARP employers from 1999 to 2010. The study compared the employers’ experience prior to and after achieving entry into the SHARP program. The preliminary results of the study show:

  • the average number of claims for these companies decreased by 52%,
  • the average claim cost decreased by 80%
  • the average lost time per claim decreased by 87%
  • claims (per $1 million dollars of payroll) decreased by 88%

Beavercreek’s United Church Homes/Trinity Community was part of the study. The nursing home was the first SHARP health-care facility in Ohio. BWC safety and industrial hygiene consultants worked with Trinity’s management and staff for more than two years to implement changes in safety policies and programs, and help them reach their goal of becoming SHARP certified.

Changes included a “no-lift” policy to minimize manual resident lifting tasks. A safety team was also created to regularly review programs and policies, and update staff and residents on safety issues. Members of the Trinity safety team are pictured below.

       

Looking back from 2004 to 2017, Trinity Community continues to reduce its overall workers’ compensation claims (and therefore costs). See chart below.

It is important to note, SHARP participation does not mean a company’s safety program is perfect, savings will vary slightly year to year. But, OSHA On-Site Consultants are committed to assist you analyze, track and manage risk.

A separate internal OSHA study of nine SHARP firms, ranging in size from 15 – 160 employees, found that firms achieved the following because of their programs:

  • A reduction in the number of injuries and illnesses.
  • Improved compliance with regulatory requirements.
  • Improved business and cost savings including improved productivity, reduced workers’ compensation premiums, reduced administrative and human resource burden associated with filing injury and illness reports, managing workers’ compensation cases and retraining new employees.
  • Improved workplace environment with greater collective responsibility for workplace health and safety.
  • Improved reputation and image in the community including relationships and cooperation between employers and OSHA, between employers and employees, and among employers in the business community.

SHARP Program participation starts with a free consultation service from consultants like myself. We explain to employers the potential hazards at their worksites, and how they can improve their occupational injury and illness prevention programs, and even qualify for a one-year exemption from routine OSHA inspections. Most consultations take place on-site, though limited services away from the worksite are available.

Primarily targeted for smaller businesses, this program is separate from the OSHA inspection effort and no citations are issued or penalties proposed. It’s confidential, too. We don’t report your name, your firm’s name, or any information you provide about your workplace to the OSHA inspection staff. We also don’t report any unsafe or unhealthful working conditions we may uncover.

Your only obligation will be to correct serious job safety and health hazards. That’s a commitment that would benefit all Ohio employers by protecting their workers from injury and lowering their costs.

If have questions or would like to schedule a visit, please call me at 614-865-9750.

Get focused for Distracted Driving Awareness Month

By Erik Harden, BWC Public Information Officer

Cat videos are hilarious. Just not while you’re behind the wheel. And maybe eat that burrito in the restaurant instead of taking one for the road.

With smartphones, busy schedules and multitasking, it’s easier than ever to be distracted while driving. In fact, it’s now the No. 1 cause of crashes in the U.S., with nearly 3,500 Americans killed by distracted driving in 2015.*

April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month, and the perfect time to discuss the dangers of this growing problem with family, friends and co-workers. At BWC, we’re doing our part to raise awareness about distracted driving as part of our newest safety campaign. For example, did you know there are three types of distractions while driving? They are:

  1. Visual distractions that take your eyes off the road;
  2. Manual distractions that take your hands off the wheel;
  3. Cognitive distractions that take your mind off the task at hand.

You can learn more about all three and much more on our safe driving page.

If you want even more information about distracted driving, there is no shortage of it online. The National Safety Council (NSC) has a Distracted Driving Month section on its site. It’s also offering a free webinar – Engaging Ways to Address Distracted Driving at Work – on April 19. You can register for it on the NSC website.

Still want more? Try the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s distracted driving website or the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health’s Distracted Driving at Work. Just not while you’re driving.

*National Highway Traffic Safety Administration statistics

Protecting Ohioans on National Ag Day and every day

By Erik Harden, BWC Public Information Officer

Today is the first day of spring! And, fittingly, it’s also National Ag Day in the U.S.

The Agriculture Council of America started National Ag Day 45 years ago to recognize and celebrate the contribution of agriculture in our everyday lives.

National Ag Day also encourages all of us to:

  • Understand how food and fiber products are produced;
  • Value the vital role of agriculture in maintaining a strong economy;
  • Appreciate the role agriculture plays in providing safe, abundant and affordable products.

With 74,500 farms in 2016* and nearly 14 million acres of farmland in Ohio**, agriculture remains one of our state’s strongest industries. And all those farms equal thousands of workers in Ohio’s ag industry, workers that deserve a safe, healthy working environment.

We’re here to do our part by providing on-site consultation services to help farms and agricultural businesses to recognize hazards and take actions to prevent workplace incidents. We also offer training courses at locations throughout the state to make it easy for workers to attend.

Additionally, we have conducted outreach on grain bin safety and developed educational materials about the dangers associated with grain bins. Our library offers many resources on agricultural safety, including a variety of audiovisual materials for borrowing.

During the past few years, we’ve had a booth at the annual Farm Science Review, one of the premier agricultural trade and education shows in the nation.

Being at the event – hosted by OSU Extension – has given us the opportunity to meet face-to-face with farmers and others from Ohio agribusiness.

At BWC, we’re serious about protecting farmers and Ohio’s agricultural workforce. It’s only right that we recognize and protect those who provide life’s essentials to us on National Ag Day and every day.

*USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service
**USDA, 2012 Census of Agriculture

 

OSC18 – The postgame wrap-up

Thanks for joining the team!

By Erik Harden, BWC Public Information Officer

At Ohio Safety Congress & Expo (OSC18) last week, we made the most important addition to our safety team: You!

For three days, more than 8,000 employers, workers, safety and medical professionals found their winning safety and health game plan at OSC18 and our Medical and Health Symposium.

We were thrilled to see so many of you tweeting and sharing your #OSC18 experience on Twitter! Check out some of the highlights in our storified tweets and scroll back through our blog coverage from last week while you’re here on the site.

Remember, to visit the OSC18 website’s Attendee Service Center if you need to print course attendance certificates or access presentation materials from many of the classes.

Now let’s go for a repeat! We’ll hold #OSC19 March 6-8, 2019, at the Greater Columbus Convention Center. We can’t wait to team up with you again next year!


The crowd arrives for registration and badge pick-up.

Record numbers fill the convention center.


BWC Administrator Sarah Morrison tips off OSC18. If you missed her opening remarks, which included a sneak peek of our safety campaign commercial, you can watch it on YouTube.

Attendees put the full-court press on the Expo Marketplace!

Innovative all-stars: We announced the 2018 Safety Innovations Award winners March 8. Navistar took first place!


Fan favorites: MPW Industrial Services took home second place and the People’s Choice award.


In third place, Terracon Consultants, Inc.

Ramco Electric Motors received the honorable mention award and $1,500. Congratulations to all!