Eight hot safety tips for summer

By Michelle Francisco, BWC Safety Council Program Manager

Heat is one of the leading weather-related causes of death and injury in the U.S. It’s also one of the most preventable.

Summer isn’t officially here yet, but now’s as good a time as any to remind folks they can still enjoy the summertime weather without putting themselves or others in danger.

Below are eight helpful tips to be heat smart this summer:

  1. If you’re working outside, stay hydrated and take breaks in the shade often. Don’t wait to drink water until you’re thirsty!
  2. Use a buddy system if you’re working in excessive temperature conditions.
  3. Don’t leave kids or pets alone in the car.
  4. Limit strenuous outdoor activities, especially during the hottest parts of the day. Scheduling strenuous activities in the early a.m. hours can reduce your risk as well.
  5. Wear light colored and loose clothing. Dark colors absorb the sun’s rays.
  6. If you do not have air conditioning, create a plan for where you can go for heat relief – especially during the hottest parts of the day (libraries, theaters, malls, etc.).
  7. Ensure your pets have shade and plenty of water if they’re outside.
  8. Check on family, friends and neighbors who are elderly and sick and may not have adequate protection from the heat.

For those who work outside as part of their job, the Occupational Safety & Health Administration has a wealth of information on its Occupational Exposure to Heat webpage.

Whether at work or at play, symptoms of heat overexertion can range from mild (heat exhaustion) to life-threatening (heat stroke). Preparing yourself for the heat is an often overlooked first step. Watch the weather forecast, get enough rest, stay hydrated, avoid caffeine and alcohol and dress appropriately.

For more safety tips and information to stay safe this summer, visit BeSafeOhio.com.

Kudos to our Safety Council of the Year Awards winners!

By Michelle Francisco, BWC Safety Council Program Manager

All 83 Ohio safety councils do their part to keep workers and workplaces safe in their communities. We view them all as vital partners in making Ohio a safer and healthier place to work.

Each May, Ohio’s safety council sponsors and leaders meet to get the latest news, network and share best practices in safety council program management. At this annual event, we honor the highest achieving programs in the state with our Safety Council of the Year Awards.

BWC’s Chief Medical and Health Officer John Annarino presented the Grand Award for first place to the Stark County Safety Council, sponsored by the Canton Area Chamber of Commerce.

Mid-Ohio Valley Safety Council, sponsored by the Marietta Area Chamber of Commerce, took home the second-place award.

In third place was the Salem Area Safety Council, a division of the Salem Area Chamber of Commerce.

Taking home fourth place was the Sandusky County Safety Council, sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce of Sandusky County.

Four additional safety councils earned an honorable mention, including the:

Congratulations to the 2017 Safety Council of the Year award recipients! And thanks to all the Ohio safety councils for partnering with us and our Division of Safety & Hygiene’s mission to maintain and grow a safe, healthy, competitive and productive workforce in Ohio.

Visit bwc.ohio.gov for more information about the Safety Council Program.

Beyond the costs of an injury

By Mark Leung, BWC Technical Medical Specialist,
Recently promoted from the BWC Safety & Hygiene Fellowship program

Occupational health and safety has been a public health focus for many years. Emphasizing worker protection and well-being advances the overall goal of reducing negative health outcomes in the future. The need to address health disparities within the working population is paramount to public health practitioners. In doing so, there have been many discussions about the actual costs of an injury or illness. However, is there a true quantifiable cost an occupational injury or illness creates?

We typically link occupational injuries and illnesses with their financial burden in the form of direct and indirect costs. Direct costs of an injury or illness relates to the medical treatment and rehabilitation of the worker, workers’ compensation costs and legal expenses. Indirect costs may include: lost productivity, training and compensating replacement workers, repairing damaged property, low employee morale, poor community relations, reputation, penalties, etc. The indirect costs of injuries and illnesses vary widely, and may be up to 20 times higher than direct costs.1

These costs are usually in the economic frame of reference for the employer. However, we must not lose sight of the social costs of an occupational injury or illness on the individual, community and societal level. Depending on the severity of the injury or illness, the worker’s quality of life suffers on the individual level. Quality of life goes beyond physical limitations, such as psychological well-being, social interactions and other non-work activities. In some cases, the diminished quality of life is a permanent reality as it influences the worker’s health behaviors and health trajectory for the rest of their lives.

Additionally, the lasting effect of the injury or illness can cause a ripple in an individual’s network. The quality of life for family members and friends may be diminished if they are involved in social interactions and the caregiving process with the affected worker. Even as part of their profession, caregivers and medical professionals carry a burden as a part of the treatment and rehabilitation portion of the process. Every social factor the worker experiences influences the community level in some shape or form. The summation of social costs may influence societal systems, including:

  • Stressing social safety nets;
  • Changing retirement trends;
  • Shaping laws and regulations;
  • Use of medical resources;
  • Changing population health outcomes.

The societal level offers us a call for action in the form of prevention, rather than a reactive approach.

The burden of an occupational injury or illness does not just fall on a worker and the employer. It is truly a social issue that has an impact on multiple layers of society. While it may be difficult to quantify a complete cost of an occupational injury or illness, our efforts to proactively address workplace risks and safeguard worker well-being as public health practitioners remain. Thus, it is ever so important to embrace occupational health and safety beyond the workplace.

1 Source: ASSE

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

 

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.

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 our Twitter recap 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!

Are exoskeletons the future of workplace injury prevention?

By Melissa Vince, BWC Public Relations Manager

We’re capping off OSC18 with an all-day session and demonstration of the latest in workplace wearable technology: exoskeletons.

Delia Treaster, BWC Ergonomic Technical Advisor, organized the session just as the the technology is beginning to gain momentum as tool for preventing workplace injuries.

“The expectation is that exoskeletons can protect workers by reducing the ergonomic hazards of physically demanding jobs, thereby allowing them to work with less fatigue and discomfort,” said Treaster in a recent blog.

Many questions remain but exoskeletons seem to have great potential for injury prevention.

One thing we know for sure is the devices are drawing a big crowd and a lot of interest at OSC this year.

Check out these pictures from this morning’s presentations: