BWC honors top safety councils of 2018

By Michelle Francisco, BWC Safety Council Program Manager

Our efforts to protect Ohio’s workforce would not be the same without our partnership with each of the safety councils throughout the state. By offering training and other safety and health resources, they have a profound effect on the quality of life in their communities.

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 Administrator/CEO Stephanie McCloud was there to present the 2018 awards to all the winners.

First place went to the Mid-Ohio Valley Safety Council sponsored by the Marietta Area Chamber of Commerce.

The Mid-Ohio Valley Safety Council serves more than 130 members and has a 90-percent attendance average. The council, the second-place award winner for 2017, invested all its award money by introducing a grant program allowing members to apply for grants for workplace safety initiatives. The council also awards a $500 scholarship for students pursuing a career in nursing. Additionally, it offered community-based education on the opioid epidemic.

Stark County Safety Council, sponsored by the Canton Area Chamber of Commerce, took home the second-place award.

In third place was the Summit County Safety Council.

Taking fourth place was the Ross County Safety Council sponsored by the Chillicothe-Ross Chamber of Commerce.

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

Congratulations to the 2018 Safety Council of the Year award recipients! And thanks to all the Ohio safety councils for partnering with us to make Ohio’s workplaces safer and healthier.

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

New online poster archive takes visitors on a safe trip through time

By Amelia Klein, BWC Librarian

Long before there was the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), Ohio had the Division of Safety & Hygiene.

Nearly 100 years ago, the Ohio General Assembly gave the Industrial Commission of Ohio the green light to create an agency (commonly known as the Division of Safety & Hygiene) for the prevention of workplace accidents and diseases.

To promote safety awareness and education, the division began designing bulletin board posters for employers to display in factories and workplaces throughout Ohio. Many of these posters ended up in the archives of the BWC Library.

Recently, the BWC Library teamed up with Ohio Memory – the statewide digital library program run by the Ohio History Connection and State Library of Ohio – to create an online archive of the posters.

Getting hundreds of posters online

We worked closely with Ohio Memory to digitize nearly 500 posters from the 1920s through the early 2000s. The digital archive provides an enlightening and often entertaining glimpse at the workplace safety and health concerns of different eras.

In the 1940s, working safely meant keeping the factories running efficiently to supply and support the soldiers of World War II. An untreated cut which leads to infection and eventually death was a regular theme until the late 1970s.

It’s interesting to see how many safety hazards that affected workers of the past are still all too common today. Falls from heights continue to be one of OSHA’s most frequently cited standards, and slips, trips and falls claims remain the most common for any industry. It’s no surprise then that many posters highlight the dangers of falls.

Trends and styles revealed

The archive also shows the evolving design trends through the decades as well as the artists’ individual styles. In the 1950s, the bright red and yellow of the new Day-Glo printing caught the eye. The 1970s brought trippy, Monty Python-esque illustrations, such as a poster where a giant hand replaces a person’s head and a glove floats in the sky to promote hand protection. Even the division’s mining engineer, Jay W. Greaves, got in on the action, drawing many cartoons for the agency throughout his career, his signature mouse offering cheeky comments on the edges of a scene.

Over time, the division developed more specialized programs targeting unique hazards in specific industries, including:

Some posters have traveled throughout the U.S. and even around the globe. We have tracked down posters for the collection from Pennsylvania and California.

An early article in the division’s bulletin, The Ohio Monitor, claims it sent them as far away as India. It’s possible many posters may still be up in Ohio businesses today since many of the themes and graphics still resonate with workers.

As we digitize and upload more of our archive to Ohio Memory, BWC’s history will be easily accessible for the public to explore. So be sure to look for future collections from the BWC Library on Ohio Memory!

Looking out for aging workers

May is Older Americans Month

By Stephanie McCloud, Administrator/CEO, Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation

Americans are living longer, and they’re working longer too. Today, one in every five American workers is over 65, and in 2020, one in four American workers will be over 55, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

At the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC), we have 71 workers over the age of 65; 18 are over the age of 70. We truly appreciate our older workers and the years of service to our agency and the people of Ohio.

We recognize the value they bring to our agency, and the contributions of mature workers in general to the work force. They bring skills and knowledge to the workplace honed by decades of service and experience. They are dependable and productive. They have a strong work ethic. They mentor our younger workers.

At BWC, our core mission is to protect Ohio’s workers and employers through the prevention, care and management of workplace injuries and illnesses. Workplace safety is a critical component of that mission, especially when it comes to our more seasoned workers. They are more susceptible to injury because of age-related challenges – decreases in mobility and sensory functions, reduced strength and balance, and longer reaction times.

When a 25-year-old worker falls on the job, for instance, she might bruise a knee. For a 70-year-old worker, it’s potentially a broken hip and a long recovery.

Older workers helped build our great state, and we want to keep them active, healthy and engaged in their work. We’re a charter partner in the STEADY U Ohio initiative to curb the epidemic of slips, trips and falls among older Ohioans. (One in three older adults will fall this year, according to the Ohio Department of Health.) These are the leading causes of worker injury, and they most often strike workers 45 and older (like me!).

These incidents are costly. The total estimated cost of falls among Ohioans aged 65 and older (medical costs, work loss) is nearly $2 billion annually in Ohio, according to the Ohio Department of Health. Most are preventable. At Steady U, workers and employers can find tips, tools and resources designed to reduce these incidents.

We urge all Ohioans to join us in creating a culture of safety across this state. Safe workplaces mean fewer, if any, injuries on the job, as well as steady production and lower costs for employers. And they mean more workers can go home healthy each day after their shift.

We are here to help. We have experts, grant dollars and other resources to make Ohio a safer place. To learn more, contact us at 1-800-644-6292 or visit our Division of Safety & Hygiene web page.

Learn fall protection and prevention! Attend a BWC stand-down event

By Erik Harden, BWC Public Information Officer

In 2017, there were 971 construction fatalities nationwide; 366 of them resulted from falls from elevation.

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

To raise awareness and reduce injuries and fatalities, OSHA promotes its 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 6-10 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 have scheduled four FREE training events open to the public during the week of the stand-down. We’ve listed information for each below.

Garfield Heights event

  • When: 8 a.m. to Noon May 7
  • Where: BWC’s Garfield Heights Service Office – 4800 E. 131st, Garfield Heights, OH 44131
  • Event details: Presentations by experts from T. Allen Incorporated, The Albert M. Higley Co., Werner Ladder, Honeywell and the Cleveland OSHA Area Office
  • Register: Visit the BWC Learning Center and enter Stand-Down Event in the search field then enroll for the Garfield Heights event.

 Mansfield event

  • When: 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. May 7
  • Where: MHS Industrial Supply – 70 Sawyer Parkway, Mansfield, OH 44903
  • Event details: Presentation by experts from FallTech; co-hosted by MHS Industrial Supply
  • Register: Visit the BWC Learning Center and enter Stand-Down Event in the search field then enroll for the Mansfield event.

 Pickerington event

  • When: 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. May 10
  • Where: BWC’s Ohio Center for Occupational Safety and Health – 13430 Yarmouth Drive, Pickerington, OH 43147
  • Event details: Presentations by experts from Guardian Fall Protection, LBJ Inc. and the Columbus OSHA Area Office
  • Register: Visit the BWC Learning Center and enter Stand-Down Event in the search field then enroll for the Pickerington event.

Youngstown event

  • When: 7:30 – 9 a.m. May 7
  • Where: Boak & Sons, Incorporated – 75 Victoria Road, Austintown, OH 44515
  • Event details: Presentation by experts from 3M and a drop demonstration truck; co-hosted by Boak & Sons, Incorporated
  • Register: Email David Costantino or call 330-301-5825; email David Loughner or call 216-538-9720

We may add more events in the coming weeks. Also, don’t forget the BWC Library offers an extensive collection of audiovisual materials related to fall hazards and fall prevention. Additionally, we 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.

Drones are in demand

A Q&A with BWC’s drone guru Joshua Grappy

By Adam King, BWC Public Information Officer

Joshua Grappy wasn’t surprised by the standing-room-only crowd in March at his 2019 Ohio Safety Congress lecture “Drones: Safety tools in the sky.”

Companies are clamoring to figure out how to use drones to save time, resources and manpower. Used properly, drones can positively affect the bottom line while potentially improving a business’ safety record.

Grappy is most interested in the latter as the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) program coordinator. Anytime workers don’t have to face a dangerous situation to do their jobs is the easiest way to avoid accidents. That’s why Grappy is happy to talk to any company that wants to explore starting a drone program.

“Drones really are an exciting new technology,” Grappy said. “Commercial drone usage is in its early stages, but the Federal Aviation Administration estimates as many as 450,000 commercial drones will be in the air in just a few short years.”

Efficient. Cheaper. Safer. We got some one-on-one time with Grappy to talk about these drone-related words that are making companies drool.

How has drone use improved safety in the workplace?
JG: Drones are often advertised as being able to perform the dull, dirty and dangerous jobs. For instance, confined-space inspections for pipes or ballasts can easily be done with a drone, without the need of a human ever having to climb down into potentially dangerous environments.

There are similar examples in construction, public safety and agriculture use. The drone industry is still in its infancy, and we will continue to see a lot of unique and innovative ways businesses can use drones to keep their workers safe.

How does BWC use drones in its work?
JG: We document workplace accident scenes. We fly our drones to capture pictures of a scene and then use photogrammetry software to build 3D models. This enables our investigators to essentially take the accident scene back to the office with them. The models we produce are fully measurable and you can rotate or fly through them to see things from any angle.

Have we seen a significant savings in workers’ comp or other areas by using drones?
JG: I don’t have any specific statistics related to monetary savings, but BWC views its drones as a safety tool. With that in mind, we can use this relatively inexpensive equipment to comprehensively document accident scenes in a way that was previously not possible. I feel that leveraging cutting-edge technology while keeping our investigators safe is worth every penny spent. Additionally, from a time perspective, the savings can be significant. The image collection from some of the more complex investigations can go from hours to minutes with the use of our drones. In many other industries there are examples of the work done by drones being accomplished eight times faster than traditional methods.

Are you seeing employers hiring out drone work or are they beginning to establish jobs for drone operators within their companies?
JG: It seems there is still a mix of both. However, it certainly depends on the type of work that needs done. Some jobs that are difficult to do technically might be more of a fit for a drone contractor with experience in the specific type of flight environment. More simple uses of drones for basic image capture can be easier to manage in-house.

Part of BWC’s drone program is to consult with employers who would like to start using drones. We help them navigate all the regulations, training and operational knowledge needed to use drones commercially. A lot goes in to putting a program together.

We can get companies up to speed quickly so they can make an informed decision on whether it makes sense to push forward with their own program or to hire it out. If a company has one pilot and just needs an aircraft to produce decent photos and video, you could get started with equipment and training for around $2,000.

What should an Ohio employer do if it is interested in starting a drone program?
JG: Reach out to me for more information. I will meet with them one on one, by phone or by email and help in any way I can. Drones are an incredible safety tool and I’m happy to share the expertise I’ve developed through the BWC drone program.

Contact Info:
Joshua Grappy
Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation
UAS Program Coordinator
Desk: 419-227-6907
Mobile: 614-332-7343
Email: joshua.grappy@bwc.state.oh.us

Visit the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) website on Unmanned Aircraft Systems for rules and regulations regarding the commercial use of drones, how to obtain your commercial certification, how to register your drone and much more.

Warmer weather means more work zones – be careful on the road!

By Erik Harden, BWC Public Information Officer

With winter behind us, spring brings color back into our lives, from purple irises and yellow tulips to white lilies and … orange barrels.

After the long winter months, the orange barrels of roadwork zones are a rite of spring in Ohio. Along with these orange barrels come road crews with lots of workers. To help keep them and drivers safe, we’re recognizing National Work Zone Awareness Week this week.

This year’s theme, Drive Like You Work Here, asks us all to view work zone safety as if we were part of the crew working to upgrade our roadways. Recent statistics from the National Highway Safety Administration show we can all think about work zone safety a bit more. For example, from 2016 to 2017, there was a 2-percent increase in total work zone fatalities and an increase from 668 to 710 total work zone crashes.

In 2017 there were 710 fatal crashes resulting in 799 deaths in work zones. Most of the fatalities were motorists – 132 of them were worker fatalities. As drivers, we can all do our part to protect ourselves and the men and women working in already hazardous conditions. The following tips from the Federal Highway Administration can help prevent accidents and save lives.

  • Stay alert and minimize distractions – Avoid changing the radio station, using a mobile phone, eating, or other distractions that can remove your concentration from the road.
  • Keep your headlights on – Improve visibility, especially in bad weather conditions, by keeping your headlights on.
  • Pay attention to the road – Watch traffic around you and be prepared to react.
  • Merge into the proper lane – Merge well before you reach the lane closure.
  • Don’t tailgate – Follow other vehicles at a safe distance.
  • Obey the posted speed limit – Slow down to save lives and to avoid hefty fines.
  • Change lanes safely – Change lanes only where pavement markings indicate, and only when traffic conditions permit.
  • Expect the unexpected – Workers, work vehicles or equipment may enter your lane without warning.
  • Be patient – Impatience often leads to erratic and dangerous driving.

Be sure to follow the Ohio Department of Transportation on Twitter all this week for more tips and graphics regarding the importance of work zone awareness.