July – August 2018

Be Positive and Support Your Injured Employees!

CIS onsite offers field and telephonic case management services to employers to assist them in returning their injured employees back to the work force. From our case management experience, we would like to offer some practical tips for employers that will help to motivate workers along the road to recovery.

In addition to the physical aspects of an occupational injury, there are many other factors go into an injured worker’s feelings or readiness to return to work. Concerns can range from fear of reinjury to wanting to get back to normal and feeling needed by their employer.

There are claims adjusters who are responsible for determining the circumstances of the case. The medical details are the business of the worker’s care team.  But the injured employees’ motivation and sense of being valued is a responsibility of the employer and supervisor.

Ways employers can help:

  1. Personalize the situation: When an employee gets injured, people focus on the situation instead of the individual. A supervisor may not want to bother the injured employee during their recovery. But to the ailing employee no contact from people that they used to see every day may seem like abandonment.
  2. Don’t leave it all to Human Resources: It is common for HR to be the communication with the injured employee, but positive supervisor-injured employee interaction is significantly associated with sustained return to work outcomes. Ultimately, employees want to return to employers that they trust and treat them well.
  3. Make meaningful contact: When reaching out to an injured employee – the purpose should be to offer support and compassion, such as: How are you doing? We miss you. Fill them in on project updates, work situations, coworker’s life events.  Let them know that you don’t want them to feel like they are missing out.
  4. Offer an access ramp: Injured employees don’t always see themselves a valuable when they are not able to function at 100%. Modified duty accommodations can allow injured employees to avoid social isolation and motivate their desire to remain a valued member of the employer’s team.
  5. Give the worker input: Include injured worker in return to work goals. Have them have a say in what aspects of the job they feel they can do safely. They may not be able to do strenuous activity, but there’s a good chance they will offer the ability to do something of value.

When employers offer the motivational support to an injured employee, successful return to work results are typically higher.  It will benefit employers to remember that successful return to work of an injured employee does not only involve the medical/recovery of an injury, but by reaching out to their injured employees they can assist in facilitating a smooth transition for the injured employee to return to the workplace.

“OSHA and Ergonomics:

The Past, Present, And Future”

Ergonomics is the study of work. From an OSHA perspective, it is the process of designing the job to fit the employee, rather than forcing the employee’s body to fit the job. This process may include modifying tasks, the work environment, and equipment to meet the specific needs of an employee to alleviate physical stress on the body and eliminate potentially disabling work-related musculoskeletal disorders (“MSDs”). The overall goal is to eliminate injuries and disorders associated with the overuse of soft tissues, e.g., muscles or tendons, awkward posture, and repeated tasks. Such common injuries include carpal tunnel syndrome, tendinitis, and other sprains and strains.

As some may recall, ergonomics was a very hot topic for OSHA in the 1990s. In 2000, OSHA, which had spent a decade studying ergonomics, estimated that $1 of every $3 spent on workers’ compensation stems from ergonomic issues and that the direct costs attributable to MSDs were $15 to $20 billion a year, with total annual costs upwards of $54 billion.

OSHA began an ergonomics rule-making process in 1992 and started drafting an ergonomics standard in 1995, which eventually culminated in the issuance of an Ergonomics Program Standard on November 4, 2000, which became effective on January 16, 2001. The new rule generally contained requirements for most non-construction employers to identify and abate MSDs. Not surprisingly, there was strong criticism by various industry and business groups about the new rule which focused on, among other things, mandatory compliance, cost, and tension with state workers’ compensation laws. Shortly after taking office, President Bush signed Senate Joint Resolution 6 on March 20, 2001, which repealed the new standard.

Since the repeal, OSHA has addressed ergonomics in a number of ways including issuing Guidelines for various industries. OSHA Guidelines contain recommendations, best practices and lessons learned for specific industries. In other words, Guidelines are advisory and do not create new employer obligations. These Guidelines include such industries as retail grocery stores, shipyards, nursing homes, foundries, beverage distribution, poultry processing, and meatpacking plants. They are available at https://www.osha.gov/SLTC/ergonomics/controlhazards.html#guidelines.

More recent data in 2013 from the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ (“BLS”) shows that ergonomics remains a costly issue for businesses. BLS data shows that these types of injuries account for one-third of days-away-from-work cases. The BLS data further explains that employees suffering from ergonomics-related injuries required more time off the job than those with other types of workplace injuries and illnesses (a median of 11 days versus eight days).

OSHA has also made clear that even in the absence of a specific industry Guideline, employers can still be cited for a violation of the General Duty Clause, Section 5(a)(1), which generally requires employers to keep workplaces free from recognized serious hazards including ergonomic hazards. In deciding whether a General Duty citation should be issued with respect to ergonomics, OSHA will review the following factors: (1) whether an ergonomic hazard exists; (2) whether that hazard is recognized; (3) whether the hazard is causing, or likely to cause, serious physical harm to employees; and (4) whether a feasible means exists to reduce the hazard. OSHA has also specifically noted that it will not focus on enforcement efforts against employers who are making a good faith effort to reduce ergonomic hazards.

Thus, all employers but specifically those in high-risk industries such as construction, food processing, firefighting, office jobs, healthcare, transportation, and warehousing should consider implementing an ergonomic process. According to OSHA, an effective process should include:

  • Management Support. Management should define clear goals and objectives, discuss them with employees, assign responsibilities to designated employees and hold them accountable, and clearly communicate the process with employees.
  • Involve Employees. Directly involve employees in worksite assessments, solution development, and abatement strategies.
  • Identify Problems. Assess ergonomic problems in the workplace before they result in MSDs.
  • Early Reporting. Encourage employees and set up a defined process to report MSD symptoms as early as possible.
  • Implement Solutions to Control Hazards. Review, analyze, and determine the best solution to reduce, control, and eliminate workplace MSDs.
  • Evaluate Progress. Establish procedures to assess the effectiveness of the ergonomic process to ensure its continued improvement and making modifications, as necessary.

If the business has a safety committee, it would also be prudent to ensure the safety committee discusses ergonomics on a periodic basis. General workplace safety and health policies should also address ergonomics.

OSHA continues to address ergonomics on an industry-specific basis and often within the scope of broader recognized hazards. For example, on January 15, 2014, OSHA launched a new online resource to address worker safety in hospitals where it stated that the hospital is one of the most dangerous places to work, as employees can face numerous serious hazards from lifting and moving patients to exposure to chemical hazards and infectious diseases.

There are many yet unanswered questions on how the new administration will affect various federal agencies including OSHA. Historically, a Republican administration usually means increased focus on compliance assistance rather than enforcement. Workplace safety, in general, was not a platform issue for the Trump administration so it is unlikely that OSHA would be more aggressive in the area of ergonomics than it has. Surprisingly, the current White House budget proposal for OSHA remains relatively intact. The White House recommended $543.3 million for OSHA, down about 2 percent from the $552.8 million funding level in fiscal 2017. However, the White House budget proposal did call for adding approximately 16 compliance assistance specialists, so the anticipated shift towards compliance rather than enforcement looks to be true.

Regardless of OSHA’s ergonomics enforcement efforts in the coming years, ergonomics will remain a costly issue for businesses that elect to ignore it. Addressing ergonomics does not necessarily require a significant financial expenditure but rather with strong management commitment, appropriate policies and procedures, and training, businesses can help ensure their workers avoid injuries and thus the costs associated with the loss of employee productivity and time away from work due to injury. Plus, if OSHA does come knocking, these demonstrated efforts should help a business fend off any potential ergonomics related General Duty Citation.

Source: https://www.jdsupra.com/profile/cozen_oconnor_docs/



Outdoor Cooking Safety

Whether you are cooking in your own backyard, at a picnic area or in a campground, being aware of outdoor cooking safety practices and procedures will help to ensure that you and your loved ones are safe from food-borne illnesses and injuries caused from cooking accidents.

Outdoor Cooking Safety

When you think of cooking safely outdoors you may think about the right way to light a grill or the correct procedure for extinguishing a dinnertime campfire. Although those are both very important aspects of safe outdoor cooking, many people do not realize that when cooking outdoors, safety measures need to begin as soon as the food is taken out of the refrigerator, freezer or pantry.

Food Safety Tips

  • When transporting raw meat or chicken, always keep the food in secure plastic containers or bags to prevent cross-contamination onto other foods.
  • Pack the food from the refrigerator directly into the cooler. Do not leave it out on the table or counter.
  • Keep cold food cold to prevent the growth of bacteria on the food. Use a cooler that is insulated with ice packs or ice to keep the temperature at 40 degrees Fahrenheit or lower.
  • Keep the cooler in a sheltered or shaded area. Open the lid as little as possible to keep the cold air inside.
  • To cook poultry and meat evenly, thaw it completely before grilling.
  • If you partially cook any food in the oven, microwave, or on the stovetop to reduce the time it takes to cook the food on the grill, always take the food immediately to a preheated grill to complete the cooking process. Never allow the meat to cool before it is finished cooking.
  • Never partially cook poultry or meat on a grill to finish cooking it at a later time.
  • Poultry and meat cooked on a grill often looks cooked as the outside browns quickly. Always cook all poultry and meat until it reaches a safe internal temperature to make sure all harmful bacteria is destroyed.
  • Do not put the cooked meat or poultry on the same plate that held the raw pieces, as there could be harmful bacteria in the raw juices.
  • Do not leave food out on the table for more than one hour in weather that is more than 90 degrees Fahrenheit. All leftovers should always be refrigerated. Throw away anything that is left out longer than one hour. If the outdoor temperature is lower than 90 degrees Fahrenheit the time factor moves to two hours.
  • Leftovers should be stored in containers that are shallow.

General Safety Tips for Outdoor Cooking

  • Do not wear clothes that are loose-fitting when cooking outdoors.
  • Always keep young children and pets away from any outdoor cooking areas.
  • Only grill outdoors in areas that are well ventilated. Never use a grill in any type of enclosed location.
  • Never pour or squirt lighter fluid or any type of fire starting fuel directly onto a lit grill. A flashback could occur causing serious burns to you or others standing nearby.
  • Thoroughly drain meat, poultry and vegetables of all marinades before placing them on the grill to prevent flames from shooting up.
  • If grill flames become too high or the grill gets too hot cut the oxygen supply to the flames by covering the grill. Never throw water onto the grill.
  • Thoroughly clean your grill and all of your grilling utensils when you are finished using them. Store your grilling utensils inside when they are not being used.
  • If you are using a gas grill make sure to check the connections on the propane tank between the fuel line and the tank.
  • Always follow the instructions of the manufacturer on the proper method of lighting your specific gas grill.
  • If you are using a charcoal grill allow the coals to cool completely before disposing of them. The best method is to cover them with water and mix to ensure all the coals are extinguished.

Enjoy Cooking Outdoors

By following outdoor cooking safety practices and tips you greatly reduce the possibility of anyone becoming ill from contaminated food or becoming injured from a preventable accident. You and your loved ones will have the pleasure of enjoying food cooked outdoors and spending time together while knowing that all safety measures are being taken.

Source: https://safety.lovetoknow.com/food-safety/outdoor-cooking-safety


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