Rank #1: 004: Meaningful Employee Involvement in Safety
In this episode, I discuss the importance of meaningful employee involvement in the safety and health management system.
Some barriers to employee involvement in the safety and health management system:
-Disregarding the fact that all injuries and illnesses result from exposure to hazards.
-Perception by employees that management is primarily interested in disciplining “un-safe” acts without adequately addressing hazards and root causes.
-Personnel actions, such as promotions, compensation, demotions, disciplines, and re-assignments that are administered in such a way as to reduce or undermine the commitment to safety.
-Treating worker behavior as though it is a root or underlying cause rather than identifying hazards or system-related causes.
-Administering a post-accident program, such as drug testing, in a way that discourages injury reporting
-Not implementing hazard recognition and control measures and/or ignoring the hierarchy of controls.
-Blaming employees with undue emphasis on discipline instead of implementing system changes.
-Uneven accountability – focusing only on the line/hourly worker and not addressing “behavior” of supervisors, senior management and corporate leadership.
-Employee perception that production takes precedence over their personal safety and health.
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Mar 05 2015
Rank #2: 077: A Breakdown of Job Safety Analysis
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Many companies rely on a super-simple tool to define appropriate safe work practices for specific jobs. The Job Safety Analysis Process (also referred to as a JSA, or Job Hazard Analysis - JHA). The JSA is a very effective means of helping to identify and manage hazards associated with task thus reducing incidents, accidents, and injuries in the workplace. It is also an excellent tool to use during new employee orientations and operator training and can also be used to investigate "near misses" and accidents.
Job Safety Analysis (JSA) is based on the following ideas:
- That a specific job or work assignment can be separated into a series of relatively simple steps.
- That hazards associated with each step can be identified.
- Solutions can be developed to control each hazard.
To start the JSA Process, select the job or task to be performed. Any job that has hazards or potential hazards is a candidate for a JSA. An uncommon or seldom-performed job is also a candidate for a JSA.
Forms or worksheets (see sample worksheet) may vary from company to company but the idea remains the same. Identify all steps, hazards, and safe work procedures before starting the job. I have a template you can download to follow along. It is filled out with a hypothetical job. So grab that and follow along for more context. The JSA process is a multi-step process and goes something like this:
- Basic Job Steps: Break the job into a sequence of steps. Each of the steps should accompany some major task. That task will consist of a series of movements. Look at each series of movements within that basic task.
- Potential Hazards: To complete a JSA effectively, you must identify the hazards or potential hazards associated with each step. Every possible source of energy must be identified. It is very important to look at the entire environment to determine every conceivable hazard that might exist. Hazards contribute to accidents and injuries.
- Recommended Safe Job Procedures: Using the Sequence of Basic Job Steps and Potential Hazards, decide what actions are necessary to eliminate, control, or minimize hazards that could lead to accidents, injuries, damage to the environment, or possible occupational illness. Each safe job procedure or action must correspond to the job steps and identified hazards.
Through this process, you can determine the safest, most efficient way of performing a given job. Thus JSA systematically carries out the basic strategy of accident prevention: The recognition, evaluation, and control of hazards.
Now, how do we document this process and capture the results? It is prepared in a 3-column chart form, either portrait or landscape - I have seen both and listing the basic job steps on the left-hand column and the corresponding hazards in the middle column, with safe procedures for each step on the right-hand column. The right-hand column will essentially become your safe work instructions.
A completed JSA chart can then be used as a training guide for employees; it provides a logical introduction to the work, it’s associated hazards, and the proper and safe procedures to be followed.
For experienced workers, a JSA is reviewed periodically to maintain a safety-awareness on the job and to keep abreast of current safety procedures. The review is also useful for employees assigned new or infrequent tasks.
Let’s talk about how to fill out the JSA. First, there is an art and science to breaking down a job or task into steps. If the steps are too detailed, the JSA will be complicated and difficult to follow. If they are not detailed enough, you may miss important steps and associated hazards. For example, let’s say you are planting a tree, and you need a JSA on how to unload the tree from the truck. You don’t want to say:
Step 1. Remove latch pin from the tailgate
Step 2. Release tailgate latch
Step 3. Lower tailgate to open position
Now you move to planting the tree, let’s say by hand:
Step 1: Retrieve shovel from the back of the truck
Step 2: Place shovel on ground at the specified degree
Step 3: Place dominate foot onto back of shovel at the mid-sole
This is tedious, no one will read that document. Instead, it may be enough to simply say, “open tailgate” as the job step and move to the second part of creating the SJA - listing all the hazards associated with that step. On the flip side, don’t over-simplify it either. For example, when planting the tree:
Step 1: Put tree in ground…that’s it. No step 2.
Ok, an extreme example of over-simplification. But be sure to walk through the job steps and look for opportunities to break it down into steps. If you already have job steps laid out, such as in the case of OEM operating instructions or manual this makes it a bit easier.
To make sure I illustrate this point, let’s talk about another example; let’s say you need to operate a 3D metal printer - you wouldn’t just state, “place build plate inside the print chamber, close door and start print operation.” There is obviously more to this process. This brings me to my next point; understand the difference between a job/task and a process.
A process is a series of physical, mechanical or even chemical operations, often made up of several different jobs/tasks. On the other hand, a job/task is a single activity - either on its own or in support of a larger process, like 3D metal printing. In this example, there will be the storage, handling, and loading of metal powder. Then there is the build set up - like installing the build plate, and even post-printing work, like removing the printed part from the build plate, any grinding or buffing work on the part, hardening of parts in an oven, just to name a few.
Each job/task will have its own JSA form that, when combined will make up everything that goes into the overall process of 3D Printing. And the steps and hazards could be different for different types of print jobs - the print media could be different, the print machine models could be different, inserting gases, removal process, etc.
A good tip as you complete your JSA, make sure each job/task step starts with action - use verbs, like pull lever, push door, place ladder, etc. Steps that do not present a potential hazard should be left off. The exception would be if you intend to use this as a multi-purpose job aid covering other job steps (like for quality or production).
This layered approach may work well, as employees will see there is ONE way to perform the job. That brings up a great point, you may already have a work instruction that breaks down the steps. Maybe there is a machine operating manual. Be sure to review these with operators to ensure they are actually still relevant and cover all the steps they need to take.
Whether you have existing jobs needing to be reviewed or are implementing a new job or task, employee involvement is critical. So be sure to do a couple of walk-throughs of the process with operators before publishing the document. The JSA should be reviewed, approved, and signed by the supervisor before the task is started. Understanding every job step is very important! Whenever a job step changes or a new step is introduced, the JSA must be reviewed and updated.
Remember, the key reasons for completing a JSA are to encourage teamwork (especially with new employees), to involve everyone performing the job in the process, to increase awareness of potential hazards and communicate safe operating procedures!
I have a JSA template download link in the show notes. Be sure to practice a few times and review it with others to make sure you get the hang of it. Make sure you do not overlook a job step/task that introduces a hazard! This is the whole point of this exercise - to identify and control hazards associated with performing a job.
Let me know what you think - email me at email@example.com. Also, let’s connect on LinkedIn so we can continue to collaborate on workplace safety. You can post a comment on LinkedIn about this episode as well - be sure to @ mention Blaine J. Hoffmann or The SafetyPro Podcast LinkedIn page. You can also find the podcast on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter!
Sep 19 2019
Rank #3: 003: What Does Leadership Support For Safety Mean?
Have you ever heard the recommendation to conduct periodic reviews of the safety and health management system? Ever wonder what was meant by the term 'system'?
I want to take some time and talk about what is involved in a comprehensive Safety and Health Management System review. You may have heard this phrase and wondered what exactly does it mean? So let's break it down. Basically, the safety and health management system starts (at least initially) with a review of all facilities, machines, chemicals, tasks, etc. to determine hazards.
If you listened to my previous episode, I talked about how to go about conducting such an assessment in preparation for writing a safety manual, which will become a part of this management system. So that assessment kicks off a cycle.
Feb 04 2015
Rank #4: 005: Safety Questions from Listeners
- In this episode, I answer listener questions about workplace safety and compliance. To leave me a voice message with a question to answer on the podcast please visit my website. Click HERE to ask the SafetyPro!
Also mentioned in this episode is my 5 tips to navigate the OSHA website without losing your mind! You really want this cheat sheet if you find yourself looking up info on their website. Click HERE to get it now!
May 01 2015
Rank #5: 060: 4 Ways to Use Data to Improve Your Safety Culture
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Every safety leader wakes up each morning looking to avoid any accidents. And, each day, you want to take steps to improve your culture of safety.
That’s no easy task, which is part of why an analytics dashboard is so helpful in giving you the information you need to do just that.
Listen to this episode to get a quick introduction into 4 ways you can use data to improve your safety culture.
Use data to drive shared accountability
A great scorecard tells a story of what’s happened, what’s currently happening, and what needs to be done next. Part of that picture is also about improving accountability to make sure what needs to happen does happen.
iReport’s dashboard is one example of a tool that supports accountability and improvement: it shares accountability documents created, proactive reports, critical actions needed, the number of days without incidents, the number of incidents, the type of incidents, and more.
In doing so, it helps to make the connection between what’s been done and what needs to be done, and why. As simple as it sounds, knowing just what to do and being held clearly responsible for it is invaluable in supporting a safer culture.
Use data to show costs avoided
It’s clear that there are costs to any incident or accident. Direct costs include property damage, theft, workers’ comp, fatalities, lawsuits related to injuries (or worse!), and legal fees in general, just to name a few.
But if an incident happens, there’s also harm done to your company’s brand and goodwill, your reputation, and it affects employees’ trust and morale. It can negatively affect productivity and it can affect the kind of talent you’re able to recruit and hire in the future.
What’s more: there is also a long list of indirect costs: downtime per day, distraction, and your insurance premium increase.
The point is this: effective data will allow you to show at least some of these indirect costs. That’s a powerful tool when it comes to showing ROI and in giving a strong rationale for future safety investments.
Use data to take the guesswork out of corrective actions
One of the best ways to see if your data is working for you: whether or not your data has the ability to prevent future occurrences of a similar or same type of incident. If your data (or dashboard) isn’t informing you of ways to make changes, you have a major opportunity for improvement.
For example, iReportSource’s dashboard generates a real-time view of near miss by type, top causes for corrective action, and Total Case Incident Rate (TCIR). It also gives you a snapshot of other key incident and inspection metrics. Based on what’s most meaningful to your company, it captures behavior-based steps/actions that have occurred so you can know exactly what’s going on and where.
Use data to keep everyone in-the-know
Whatever dashboard you use, be sure that anyone—from upper management to HR to safety—has quick access to your report. When everyone does have that access, there’s no more waiting on the safety leader (or another person) to send the report.
That means your data is more real-time and more actionable than ever. Finally, you can easily show exactly how safety is improving each month and why. Plus, if someone leaves your company, you’re not stuck trying to figure out what he or she had completed in terms of data collection.
Let me know what you think. Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and share with me the tools you use! Also, leave a rank and review on Apple Podcast, it helps others find the show and assists me in making improvements.
If you think of it, find me on LinkedIn! Post a LinkedIn update letting me know what you think of the podcast. Be sure to @ mention Blaine J. Hoffmann or The SafetyPro Podcast LinkedIn page. You can also find the podcast on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter!
Feb 17 2019
Rank #6: 033: Lean Safety
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In this episode, I want to talk about Lean manufacturing principles and how it can help you transform safety in your organization.
If you listen to this podcast regularly (and I hope you do!), you probably have heard me tell you to look at what tools the lean or quality folks are using in your organization. And there is a good reason for that. They CAN help you improve safety processes.
I am going to reference two good books I studies and will draw upon their lessons in this episode. One is called Lean Safety: Transforming your safety program with lean management by Robert B. Hafey and the other is called Safety Performance in a Lean Environment: A guide to building safety into a process by Paul F. English.
Lean is a manufacturing philosophy that reduces the total cycle time between taking a customer order and the shipment by eliminating waste.
What is excellent about lean principles are they apply to all business processes and especially safety. Also, lean can be used for all types of businesses.
Edward Demming is widely considered the father of lean and what became the Toyota Production System (TPS). He went to Japan after WWII to teach Japanese business leaders how to improve quality. His work went unnoticed in the US until the early 1980’s.
Of course, that period is important; it’s when Japanese automakers overtook US companies in quality and productivity. Ford first brought Demming in to help improve their quality.
This is when Demming determined Ford’s quality systems were not at fault, but instead, their management practices were. A significant cultural change would be needed.
So Demming developed 14 points of management. Let’s go through them and see how they relate to safety:
1. Create constancy of purpose for improving products and services. 2. Adopt the new philosophy. 3. Cease dependence on inspection to achieve quality. 4. End the practice of awarding business on price alone; instead, minimize total cost by working with a single supplier. 5. Improve constantly and forever every process for planning, production, and service. 6. Institute training on the job. 7. Adopt and institute leadership. 8. Drive out fear. 9. Break down barriers between staff areas. 10. Eliminate slogans, exhortations, and targets for the workforce. 11. Eliminate numerical quotas for the workforce and numerical goals for management. 12. Remove barriers that rob people of pride of workmanship, and eliminate the annual rating or merit system. 13. Institute a vigorous program of education and self-improvement for everyone. 14. Put everybody in the company to work accomplishing the transformation.
It is clear to see how universal these can be. Another useful tool we can take from lean (and trust me, there are many, as I have covered in past episodes) is DMAIC: Define, Measure, Analysis, Improve, and Control.
Let’s go through what this might look like for safety.
Define: Who is the customer? What is the voice of the customer? What is critical to safety? What is the cost of poor safety?
Measure: Cause & Effect fishbone. Is the safety process state and in control? What is the current safety process performance (or capability)? What actions are being taken to protect the employee/company (containment)?
Analysis: Which issues are effecting health & safety the most? How many samples do you need to conclude?
Improve: What is the ideal solution? What is the proof the solution will work? How many trials are needed? What is the work plan to implement and validate the solution?
Control: Can you demonstrate the improvement is sustainable over time? Is the process in control? How do we keep it that way?
Again, here is just one example of how lean principles and tools can be applied to safety. Furthermore, this can empower everyone in an organization to champion safety. So safety leadership doesn’t require a business leader or manager. Shop floor workers can get lean training and begin identifying ways to improve the systems they have to interface with every day; including safety.
We see this in accident investigations as well. One of my favorite lines to use is to focus on the process, not the person. In his book, Lean Safety, Robert Hafey tells a story about accidents at a manufacturer he once toured. There they uncovered a trend involving forklift accidents.
Some managers looked into force monitors; these shut down the forklift in the event of an impact requiring operators to seek out a manager to turn it back on. You see, most of the incidents were hit and runs, no witnesses.
His approach was different. Because they had no idea who caused the damage, since someone other than the driver usually reported it, they needed a plan that removed that aspect from the equation. The approach was to invite a forklift driver (any driver) in that area and help investigate.
They were told that they would not be spending time looking for WHO was responsible, but rather to determine the root cause and come up with corrective processes in place to prevent a recurrence.
What they discovered was the majority of the incidents were a result of poorly placed racks, improper clearances, etc. So they went about fixing those things, and wouldn’t you know, soon enough the drivers that had an incident began self-reporting.
The reason is TRUST! The approach to many accident investigations destroys trust - if it focuses on “what did you do wrong?” instead of “how can this be improved?”
I remembered at a client site years ago an operator got a laceration from removing a glove to grab a sample piece of metal off the line for a quality check. Management wanted to issue discipline, for removing PPE.
The problem was that everyone was issued the same gloves - heavy leather gloves because of the sharp metal edges on their product. But they were also required to cut a sample piece for a quality check. They all knew you could not pick up this thin 4” wide sample with those gloves on. So, everyone, every worker removed their glove to do so. And management knew this. But the others had not gotten a laceration…yet.
So issuing discipline would destroy trust, and drive reporting underground. Also, it did NOTHING to address the root cause; the conditions remained the same. Therefore they were doomed to repeat this cycle.
By focusing on the process, we were able to determine the form, fit and function of those gloves (on that line anyway) needed to change, and samples were brought in for operators to try and then score based on cut resistance level needed and dexterity. That operator, he became a part of the solution, not just another victim of a hazard of the job.
I could go on with hundreds of stories like this I have seen in my work as a consultant for over a decade. But let’s save those for future episodes!
The main takeaway I want you to get here is to look toward Lean principles to help you improve safety. Mainly build the trust needed to create a collaborative environment where you turn workers into champions for change and improvement across all areas of the business.
You can find me on LinkedIn! Post a LinkedIn update letting me know what you think of the podcast. Be sure to @ mention Blaine J. Hoffmann or The SafetyPro Podcast LinkedIn page. You can also find the podcast on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter
Feb 11 2018
Rank #7: 016: Intro to HAZCOM
Visit our sponsor www.vppsimplified.com to simplify your VPP journey!
HAZCOM is still a frequently cited OSHA violation. Listen to this intro to the topic so you can keep your employees safe.
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Send your email questions or topic request to email@example.com
Sep 27 2017
Rank #8: 059: 8 Critical Tips for Effective Safety Coaching
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Does your company help develop employees through coaching?
Not to be confused with training, or even consulting, coaching is a much more collaborative process that helps to bring out someone’s best work. Two-Thirds of employees cite that coaching improved their performance within their company and also improved their satisfaction (1).
Coaching sessions can include open-ended questions and discussion on personal and professional goals and objectives. If coaching happens consistently, it can strengthen relationships between managers/employees and peers. It can reinforce the right kind of behaviors you want to see in your business to promote safety and health. Last, it also helps workers have more support as they work through challenges or problems, both personally and professionally (2, 3, 4).
Here are the top tips you can utilize for effective safety coaching:1. Don’t assume leaders know how to coach
Make sure leaders are equipped to start coaching before you ask them to do so. For example, a common misconception is that coaching is where specific performance feedback can be given. While coaching can influence an employee’s performance, a coaching session is not the same as a review session, even if your current reviews are informal.
First, help leaders recognize that coaching is an open-ended conversation that is aimed at helping someone improve…and that is in all areas of their life. On the other hand, an evaluation is going to give specific feedback to someone regarding their performance. If coaching is what you’re after, make sure your leaders know that difference (2).
Second, teach leaders how to use open-ended questions during their coaching sessions. Instead of asking a question that can be answered with a simple “yes” or a “no,” open-ended inquiries can be used to help lead someone into potential solutions. It also helps them to reflect better and to become more self-aware. These kinds of questions can also give the coach more context about a challenge someone is facing. Last, they also keep the focus on the person who is receiving the coaching.
For example, if someone is having uncertainty with how to resolve a safety-related issue on their team, avoid immediately giving them potential solutions. Instead, ask them questions by using words such as “what and “how.”
That could sound like: “How do you envision this process changing?” or, “What have you considered doing to change the way things are done?”
By allowing them to reflect and talk out the solution, leaders can remain focused on listening. After hearing more from the person, then a coach can help the individual learn how to come up with solutions. Which will build confidence, empower the individual and help them break out of three vicious circles that author Michael Bungay Stonier describes in the book “The Coaching Habit: Say Less, Ask More & Change the Way You Lead Forever”:
- Creating over dependance - by you always having the answer, and others not being able to solve problems on their own. I have often said that the EHS expert’s job is NOT to be the only one that understands the safety requirements and hazard mitigation techniques of someone else’s job. It is to ensure that those doing the work, facing potential hazards are able to so. This requires a coach!
- Getting overwhelmed - you will become bombarded with everyone else’s problems. Which creates a classic bottle-neck! You want to avoid this because hazards/issues will persist in the work environment as a result of YOU not being able to deal with them. Folks will learn it takes too long to get anything addressed and stop saying anything!
- Becoming disconnected - You will get disconnected from the work that matters - which is creating a sustainable culture of accountability, empowerment, and productivity. You need to free yourself up from the first two circles to focus on the work that will make the most impact on the organization (6).
Getting good at coaching takes practice, but at least try to teach your people some of the subtle shifts in their behavior that can help the dialogue be productive and authentic (1, 5). Which is the difference between consulting and coaching! Consulting is telling someone what to do - coaching is about helping others develop the ability to sense something needs to be changed, problem-solve, draw upon the needed resources the organization has to affect change and make good decisions.2. Make sure it’s a two-way conversation
Since a coach is often going to be in a position where they are helping to drive some change, make sure you are having a two-way conversation that allows for that to happen. Avoid the temptation to make it all about yourself. The key is to talk less and listen more (6).
Also, if you are the one doing the coaching, avoid the tendency to share all your stories that are similar to the person being coached; after all, the focus is on them, not you. Again, this is where leading or empowering questions can be a very useful tool to use. Remember, telling someone what they should do is consulting. It also creates dependency. It can be tricky to get into here, but go grab The Coaching Habit book I mentioned and start some of the habits the author described.
The bottom line is that things need to be addressed, but you as a coach, need to develop other leaders’ ability to coach as well. Each problem they bring to you is an opportunity to develop further their ability to coach others as well. So open up the lines of communications and ask the right questions and listen!3. Provide ‘just enough’ structure
Coaching—even if it’s peer to peer coaching—won’t necessarily happen on its own. Like anything with your culture, be as intentional as possible about how your coaching sessions are going to be implemented. Companies with effective safety coaching take the time to develop strategies and internal processes that support a culture of coaching (4, 5).
Especially when a company is first introducing coaching, the structure is going to help. Give guidance on responsibilities related to coaching, coaching duration, the type of coaching you are looking for, and any desired outcomes or measurement of feedback that you want to be captured (4, 5).4. Avoid punishment
Coaching should be focused on empowering people to succeed. Which means you want to avoid the perception that there will be negative consequences from anything discussed in your session. We want to see this activity as a way to learn and grow, not discover deficiencies, and hold someone accountable for them.
Look to avoid any punishment or discipline when coaching. That doesn’t mean there can’t be any accountability, but these interactions are not a place where there should be any fear.5. Capture the progress
Companies that are successful at safety coaching can capture and celebrate all the progress someone has made. Depending on the level of formality your coaching has, at the very least, celebrate small wins and successes. Then, when you can, be sure to capture contributions and share that with your team, when appropriate.6. Encourage peer-to-peer coaching
Many of us think of a manager coaching a direct report, and in many cases, that’s going to be the kind of coaching relationship that is most effective. But also know that peer to peer coaching is extremely valuable and can also help to deepen relationships and improve morale in your company.7. Customize your coaching to the learning curve of the employee being coached
Safety training typically requires everyone to meet minimum standards at a certain point in time. In contrast, your coaching sessions are going to have their own pace that is going to be different for everyone.
Embrace how these interactions are going to be mostly based on the learning curve of the employee who is being coached (4). In other words, with much less structure than a training session, coaching sessions are going to follow an employee’s progress—and that progress is going to ebb and flow at times (2, 3, 4).8. Always come from a place of compassion
Coaching interactions are all about improving an employee and helping them develop in specific areas they care about. For that to happen, there has to be a deep sense of caring and mutual trust in any session. As a coach, you can help that happen by always coming from a place of compassion as you hear about someone’s challenges, issues, and perceptions.
That is what makes safety a great place to start in any organization that wants to develop a coaching culture. Safety begins with the underlying assumption that all workers want to do a good job and be able to return. Even the most average worker that is punching the clock - that’s what they want to keep doing - their job. Preventing injuries and illnesses that ultimately prevent that is compassionate. That’s what I love about this industry; we may have discussions about how to get there, but not getting hurt is something that almost all of us can agree.Improve Safety & Health In Your Company
www.iReportsource.com is an all-in-one solution to record, report, and minimize safety incidents in the field and the office. With iReport, you can go from “I think” to “I know,” which helps you to support and improve safety best practices. Ready to learn more? Start your free trial of iReport today.
Let me know what you think. Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and share with me the tools you use!
Let others know about the podcast and find me on LinkedIn! Post a LinkedIn update letting me know what you think of the podcast. Be sure to @ mention Blaine J. Hoffmann or The SafetyPro Podcast LinkedIn page. You can also find the podcast on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter!
Feb 12 2019
Rank #9: 029: Safety Meetings that Succeed
Regular meetings can be beneficial to your business (if done right). In this episode I want to talk about meetings. Yes, the dreaded business meeting. But don’t worry, I have some great tips for you to follow so you can make sure your business meetings don’t put folks to sleep, turn employees off to being engaged, or make you look like a knucklehead!
No matter why you are having the meeting, some simple rules apply; the meeting should be specific, you should only invite those absolutely needed, and you must understand what makes a meeting BAD! So you can avoid it.
In his book, Death by Meeting: A Leadership Fable About Solving the Most Painful Problem in Business, Patrick Lencioni talks about four types of meetings:
- The Daily Check-in
- The Weekly Tactical
- The Monthly Strategic
- The Quarterly Off-Site
Here I want to talk about the first 3. Specifically the third one - the monthly strategic meeting. Ask yourself what information is important enough to pull employees together once a week, or once a month and sit down to review? This can be difficult. Fear not! I break it all down in this episode.
Get the book mentioned in this episode by clicking HERE
Jan 16 2018
Rank #10: 017: 5-Why Problem Solving Tool for Safety
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**To get the free 5-Why template mentioned in this episode click HERE.
Using 5-why for safety problem-solving will really help those looking for an easy yet effective tool to get to the root causes of issues.
Be sure to subscribe and leave a rank/review so others can find us and so we can improve the podcast. email@example.com
Oct 07 2017
Rank #11: 049: 8 Tips for Selecting Key Safety Performance Indicators
Mentioned in this episode:
How do you measure safety in your workplace to enhance performance and reduce employee downtime? There are several tested methods that Environmental, Health, and Safety (EHS) leaders use to reduce employee incidents and illnesses. Among the leading methods, which the Gensuite white paper discusses, are Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)–or leading and lagging indicators.
Leading indicators are pre-incident measurements, as opposed to lagging indicators, which are measurements collected after an incident occurs. For example, a slip and fall incident from stray construction materials is a lagging indicator because the incident has already occurred, but an inspection that notes the poor quality of the surrounding area and prevents a future slip and fall from taking place is a leading indicator. A key component of leading indicators is that they measure safety events or behaviors that precede incidents and have a predictive quality.
By measuring leading indicators including conditions, events and sequences that precede and lead up to accidents, these KPIs have value in predicting the arrival of an event and can provide the opportunity to introduce control measures to stop the event from happening.
Recently, many articles have stressed the importance of looking beyond lagging indicators, but then how can your organization learn from past incidents and track results? By combining incident measurement and training management software, your company or organization can adopt a holistic approach to reducing workplace incidents and meeting Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) standards.
Both leading and lagging indicators can be relevant to workplace safety and worth measuring. They present important aspects of an overall safety management system. We have to use all the tools available to us to create an environment that drives us to a zero-incident job site.
Selecting and Using the Right Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for Your Organization
Attempting to track complex data analytics and results, train employees and keep your team safe on your own can be dicult tasks to handle. Leading and lagging indicators can help reduce and prevent incidents. One way EHS leaders begin using KPIs is by selecting the appropriate sets for their organization.
- OSHA recordable injuries
- OSHA citations
- OSHA recordable-case rate
- DART-case rate
- Fatality rate
- Worker compensation claims
- Experience modification rate
- Near misses (Note: this is still responding to something that already happened, just no consequences; might consider this lagging)
- Behavioral observations
- Training records
- Department safety meetings
- Employee-perception surveys
- Trainee scores on post-training quizzes
- Preventive-maintenance programs
When trying to pinpoint the indicator type essential for your organization–understand that both are essential. Leading indicators are like a car windshield, and lagging indicators are like the rearview mirror. You’ll certainly spend more time looking out the windshield to see what's coming–with leading indicators–than looking in your rearview mirror to see where you've been–with lagging indicators.
Look at your company and see how you can start moving forward–toward a culture of safety–rather than looking behind. Within the leading and lagging indicator types, there are eight important characteristics that KPIs should have. Ensure that you follow this guideline when selecting the ones important for your workplace.
1. Actionable–metrics that have measurable steps
2. Achievable–setting goals that are obtainable
3. Meaningful–obtaining information for continued tracking
4. Transparent–metrics that are clearly understandable
5. Easy–to communicate effectively
6. Valid–relevant to the organization’s objectives
7. Useful–metrics that are beneficial to the organization’s safety goals
8. Timely–distributing information that is still relevant to the organization
Once you select your set of indicators and follow the necessary characteristics, it's important to track how well they are working and be flexible if the set needs to be revised for consistent improvement.
Why Leading and Lagging Indicators Are Important: Rising OSHA Regulations & Safety Trends
Each year brings about new regulations and carries over existing regulations that companies must abide by. Thus, it’s important to stay on top of ever-evolving regulatory trends so you don’t risk non-compliance. Use the leading and lagging indicator system to help with the following key OSHA regulations and safety trends.
Overview of the Occupational Exposure to Crystalline Silica Rule
OSHA’s final rule aims to reduce the risk of lung cancer, silicosis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and kidney disease in America’s workers by limiting their exposure to respirable crystalline silica. The rule is comprised of two standards, one for Construction and one for General Industry and Maritime. Responsible employers have been protecting employees from the harmful substance for years, but now it’s becoming mandatory. Here are some of the rule requirements:
- Reduces the permissible exposure limit for silica to 50 micrograms per cubic meter of air
- Requires employers to: use engineering controls to limit worker exposure; provide respirators when engineering controls cannot adequately limit exposure; develop a written exposure control plan, and train workers on silica risks and how to limit exposures
- Provides medical exams to monitor highly exposed workers and gives them information about their lung health
Overview of OSHA Improve Tracking of Workplace Injuries and Illnesses Rule
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports more than three million workers suffer from a workplace injury or illness every year. Currently, little or no information about worker injuries and illnesses is made public or available to OSHA. With this new rule, employers are required to submit a record of the injuries and illnesses to OSHA to help them with identifying hazards and fixing problems.
Here are the rule requirements:
- Establishments with 250 or more employees must *electronically submit injury and illness information from OSHA forms 300, 300A and 301 (300 & 301 starting in 2018)
- Establishments with 20-249 employees in high-risk industries must submit information from OSHA form 300A
Trend #1: Dealing with Workplace Stress
The National Institute of Occupational Safety And Health emphasizes that work-related stress disorders are expected to rise as the economy continues to undergo various shifts and impacts.
Therefore, companies should take steps to ensure that any current programs are robust enough to reduce the concerns associated with stress in the workplace, as well as implement any new programs that show an increased effectiveness at reducing the generation of stress.
Trend #2: Leveraging Risk Management
2017 saw a continued trend in developing internal risk management programs and systems, and 2018 into 2019 looks to be the year where many of these programs are leveraged for results across the company spectrum. In other words, sucient time has occurred for the internal development of risk management data and effectiveness that this can now be translated directly into specific areas of the business to further reduce inherent risk development within the company.
Trend #3: Increased Reliance on Predictive Analytics
A new trend becoming prominent in 2018 is an increased reliance on predictive analytics. Many companies have been developing risk management and mitigation data and using analytics to help derive sense from this mountain of information. 2019 looks to be the year where many of these are put into practice company-wide. In addition, the trend of emphasizing the use of these predictive analytics is expected to rise as much of this information is refined even further.
This should begin to show positive returns for companies that have been implementing this predictive technology as part of a risk management profile. However, there is still time to take advantage of these systems for those companies that have not implemented these types of analytics.
Trend #4: More Regulatory Changes
There are few that doubt that more regulatory and legislative changes are expected in 2018.
While many differences continue to grow between national policy and those enacted on the state and local level, few can predict what the specific changes will actually be. However, what is an almost certainty is that for companies, flexibility will be necessary in order to adapt to the new policies to come.
Models and Methods for Using Leading and Lagging Indicators: A Contextual and Visual Guide
Various proven, yet antiquated and manual, methods have been used for measuring KPIs, such as those discussed in the report, A Method for Modeling of KPIs Enabling Validation of Their Properties. The authors cover two techniques workplaces use to track KPIs.
The first model integrates the following attributes for tracking performance: indicator name, type, scale, source, owner and threshold. Though, it is not easy to find all of this information so EHS experts often rely on documentation, expert knowledge and previous conceptual models.
The second model used for KPI formalization is known as performance indicator expression. It is “a mathematical statement over a performance indicator evaluated to a numerical, qualitative”.
In other words, a given value for a time point, for the organization, unit or agent. The authors suggest specifying the required values of performance indicators as constraints coming from goals. The relations between performance indicators are modeled using predicates.
The third model used by EHS professionals and safety teams is known as the Heinrich Pyramid–a traditional way of tracking occupational illnesses and injuries.
The Heinrich Pyramid (also known as the Safety Triangle) quantifies the number of reported workplace incidents into four main categories: major injuries, severe accidents, first aid cases and near misses. Employee concern reports, safety observations and at-risk observations can also be added to the base of the triangle to incorporate leading indicators into the analysis.
This is a 1-10-30-600 model. For every 1 incident reported in the major injury category, severe accidents are 10 times as likely to happen. Also, for every 1 major injury, approximately 30 first aid cases, and 600 near misses.
When companies plug their own incidents into this model or pyramid, they can see if they have the corresponding model ratio, as described above, and if they have a significant amount of major and severe incidents. The premise for this model is that the more companies focus on reducing the numbers at the bottom of the pyramid, the more likely they are to reduce major safety incidents at the top.
The pyramid is inclusive of many types of injuries and incidents, but it doesn’t assist EHS professionals with narrowing down the data to the critical cases/accidents, root causes and solutions. For example, a site could have a series of cases that stem from ergonomic-related issues and spend significant amounts of time on root cause and trend analysis instead of the cases/accident that have a high potential to result in an employee fatality or significant property damage.
Critics of the Heinrich Pyramid also claim that “adhering to it can lead to an over-emphasis on worker behavior and not enough attention on health and safety management software systems.” No matter the flaws, there is always a solution to the system.
These methods are used to benefit companies’ safety success rates and business performance objectives. The methods can be adapted to any enterprise modeling approach. Companies can apply these measures of thinking into a conventional and modernized process by integrating EHS management software into their workplace as discovered in the following section.
A Gensuite Solution: Implementing Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) Into Your Workplace
To simplify and digitize the three models and methods discussed above, companies turn to compliance and management software systems such as Gensuite. Such systems enhance workplace safety performance by simplifying the tracking of leading and lagging indicators.
Utilize Gensuite EHS software tailored to measure KPIs and manage training compliance. Just a few of Gensuite’s specialized features of these tools include:
- Framework for managing regulatory and program-specific training requirements.
- Validate training effectiveness through course-specific e-quizzes
- Incident investigation, root cause analysis, corrective and preventive action tracking
- Integrate with occupational health, medical and computer systems for case tracking and program visibility
What makes this important right now? Why should your business invest? Other than avoiding everyday safety violations and reoccurring workplace injuries, investing will help you meet current and upcoming OSHA regulations. Here’s a look at customizable Gensuite applications.
Incidents & Measurements
The Gensuite Incidents & Measurements application can help you address the new regulation by enabling one-click generation of a site/business OSHA 300, 300A, and 301 forms. In addition, Gensuite joins ongoing discussions with subscribers and industry groups to meet with OSHA to talk through options for direct system integrations, thus removing the need for sites to manually generate logs and input them into OSHA’s website.
Other benefits of the Gensuite Incidents & Measurements application:
- Tracking of hours worked and sites recordable rates
- Monitoring site performance on a monthly/quarterly basis through auto-generated site metric reports
- Instant system-generated email notifications upon entry/modification of incidents so site-leadership stays up-to-date
The Gensuite Training Compliance suite can help you address both new OSHA regulations by keeping your employees up-to-date with OSHA’s mandatory training requirements. In addition, training employees prevent new and future injuries from occurring, so you don’t have to evaluate progress based on how many employees have been severely injured and how that number has improved. Prevent them from happening in the first place.
Other benefits of the Gensuite Training Compliance application:
- Establish a framework for managing regulatory and program-specific training requirements,
- Alert training leaders of new and transferred employees for training needs assessment
- Integrate automatic updates from HR systems, offer multiple training instruction types to
- Engage employees in classroom and e-learning training; integrated training calendar solution
- for session scheduling, provide employees with access to a diverse library of pre-loaded
- Training content licensed from leading providers such as RedVector®, SkillSoft®, PureSafety®
- Validate training effectiveness through course-specific e-quizzes; log completions through
- Online, bar-coding, Mobile & batch upload
- Identify qualified employees by task based on training completion status
Look to Key Performance Indicators so your business can avoid safety violations and injuries.
Let me know what you think; send emails to firstname.lastname@example.org
Sep 30 2018
Rank #12: 008: OSHA Aisles and Walkways Safety Update
Jul 24 2017
Rank #13: 061: 4 Tips to Get the Best Out of a Safety Conference
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How Do I Get The Most Out of My Safety Conference Attendance?
A professional safety conference always best treated as a learning experience. Your company is probably footing the bill, and so you may be tempted to handle your next safety conference as a paid vacation. Don’t do that, as you’ll be missing one of the most significant growth opportunities in this field and your career. Here, I’ve included four simple tips to get the very most out of your attendance in a safety or any other conference.
1. Treat the Conference Like a Class
If you’re attending a safety conference, the odds are good that you’re a safety professional, and that means the odds are good that you’ve spent some time in a classroom at some point in your life. To make the most of this experience, you need to bring those skills to bear on conference seminars, workshops, and demonstrations.
An excellent way to take notes at a conference is to identify which areas your organization could improve, and then tailoring your attendance schedule to events that address these specific issues. It may help to prepare an outline of events you want to attend ahead of time, and use that outline to guide your note-taking during the events themselves.
2. Compare Notes with Other Professionals
Here is an example; take your written safety plans for your company. One of the most beneficial ways to interact with the safety conference is to bring copies of safety programs based on scheduled sessions/events with you so that you might compare it against the suggestions and innovations offered. In this way, you’ll be able to identify where your plans could be improved, and what aspects of your programs have been rendered out-of-date by advances in technology.
Likewise, actively working on your plans while attending the conference will give you the bonus of providing a product that you can show your employer. By communicating to your colleagues and supervisors a tangible benefit to your attendance, your organization will be much more likely to consider participating in the future--which is an excellent way of saying you might be able to earn yourself another free working vacation!
Another critical aspect of making the most of any conference is to participate in events and workshops actively. Some of the brightest minds in safety management will be on hand to answer questions--take advantage of this tremendous opportunity to get insight into your organization’s problems by identifying areas in which your team could improve and drafting a series of questions to ask during the question and answer sessions that often follow convention events.
4. Pace Yourself
Some conference goers face the opposite problem than that alluded to in point three; they not only participate, they run themselves into the ground doing so. Rebecca Knight, of the Harvard Business Review, notes that conference-goers who are enjoying the experience and that are actively engaged in what’s going on tend to get a lot more out of their attendance than those who feel pressure to perform.
Ms. Knight suggests that it’s okay to spend a significant amount of time with a few select people if you’re more comfortable networking among smaller crowds. Put another way, don’t feel pressured to perform or participate in a way that’s going to distract you. The key to getting the most out of a safety conference is to be actively and positively engaged with the material, and you can’t do that if you’re always in a state of dread or fear-remember, not everyone is built the same way and that’s okay.
Let me know what you think. Send an email to email@example.com and share with me your thoughts about safety conferences.
Find me on LinkedIn! Post a LinkedIn update, letting me know what you think of the podcast. Be sure to @ mention Blaine J. Hoffmann or The SafetyPro Podcast LinkedIn page. You can also find the podcast on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter!
Feb 27 2019
Rank #14: 050: Electrical Safety-Related Work Practices
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OSHA's Safety-Related Work Practices standards for general industry are performance-oriented requirements that complement the existing electrical installation standards.
These work-practice standard include requirements for work performed on or near exposed energized and de-energized parts of electric equipment; use of electrical protective equipment; and the safe use of electric equipment.
These rules are intended to protect employees from the electrical hazards that they may be exposed to even though the equipment may comply with the installation requirements in, 1910 Subpart S (electrical). When employees are working with electric equipment, they must use safe work practices. Such safety-related work practices include keeping a prescribed distance from exposed energized lines, avoiding the use of electric equipment when the employee or the equipment is wet, and locking-out and tagging equipment which is de-energized for maintenance.
The training requirements apply to employees who face a risk of electric shock that is not reduced to a safe level by the electrical installation requirements of §1910.303 - §1910.308. Employees in the following occupations would typically face these risks and are required to be trained:
- Blue-collar supervisors
- Electrical and electronics engineers
- Electrical and electronic equipment engineers
- Industrial machine operators
- Material handling equipment operators
- Mechanics and repairers
- Riggers and roustabouts
- Stationary engineers
Except for electricians and welders, workers in these groups do not need to be trained if their work or the work of those they supervise does not bring them close enough to exposed parts of electric circuits operating at 50 volts or more to ground for a hazard to exist.
Other employees who also may reasonably be expected to face the comparable risk of injury due to electric shock or other electrical hazards must also be trained.
These standards cover electrical safety-related work practices for both qualified persons (those who have training in avoiding the electrical hazards of working on or near exposed energized parts) and unqualified persons (those with little or no such training) working on, near, or with the following installation:
- Premises Wiring. Installations of electric conductors and equipment within or on buildings or other structures, and on other premises such as yards, carnival, parking, and other lots, and industrial substations;
- Wiring for Connections to Supply. Installations of conductors that connect to the supply of electricity; and
- Other Wiring. Installations of other outside conductors on the premises.
- Optical Fiber Cable. Installations of optical fiber cable where such installations are made along with electric conductors.
The provisions of these standards also cover work performed by unqualified persons on, near, or with the following installations:
- Generation, transmission, and distribution installations. Installations for the generation, control, transformation, transmission, and distribution of electric energy (including communication and metering) located in buildings used for such purposes or located outdoors.
- Communication installations. Installations of communications equipment to the extent that the work is covered under OSHA standard §1910.268
- Installations in vehicles. Installations in ships, watercraft, railway rolling stock, aircraft, or automotive vehicles other than mobile homes and recreational vehicles.
- Railway installations. Installations of railways for generation, transformation, transmission, or distribution of power used exclusively for the operation of rolling stock or installations of the railway solely used for signaling and communication purposes.
If a qualified person is performing work near one of the four types of installations listed above, and the work is not being done on or directly associated with the installation, then that work is covered under the Safety-Related Work Practices.Definitions you should know
Barrier: A physical obstruction that is intended to prevent contact with equipment or live parts or to prevent unauthorized access to a work area.
Deenergized: Free from any electrical connection to a source of potential difference and free from electrical charge; not having a potential different from that of the earth.
Disconnecting means: A device, or group of devices, or other means by which the conductors of a circuit can be disconnected from their source of supply.
Energized: Electrically connected to a source of potential difference.
Exposed: (As applied to live parts.) Capable of being inadvertently touched or approached nearer than a safe distance by a person. It is applied to parts not suitably guarded, isolated, or insulated.
Live parts: Energized conductive components.
Qualified person: One who has received training in and has demonstrated skills and knowledge in the construction and operation of electric equipment and installations and the hazards involved.
- Note 1 to the definition of “qualified person”: Whether an employee is considered to be a “qualified person” will depend upon various circumstances in the workplace. For example, it is possible and, in fact, likely for an individual to be considered “qualified” concerning specific equipment in the workplace, but “unqualified” as to other equipment. (See 1910.332(b)(3) for training requirements that specifically apply to qualified persons.)
- Note 2 “qualified person”: An employee who is undergoing on-the-job training and who, in the course of such training, has demonstrated an ability to perform duties safely, and who is under the direct supervision of a qualified person, is considered to be a qualified person for the performance of those duties.
In general, the standard requires covered employers to:
- Provide appropriate training to both qualified and unqualified employees.
- Provide effective safety-related work practices to prevent electric shock.
- Deenergize live (energized) parts (operating at 50 volts or more) before employees work on them.
- Provide suitable safety-related work practices for employees working on energized parts.
- Treat de-energized parts that have not been locked out or tagged out as energized parts.
- Place a lock or a tag (or both, if at all possible) on parts of fixed electric equipment circuits which have been de-energized.
- Maintain a written copy of the lockout/tagout procedures.
- Determine safe procedures for de-energizing circuits and equipment.
- Disconnect circuits and equipment from all electric energy sources.
- Release stored electrical energy which may endanger personnel.
- Block or relieve stored non-electrical energy in devices that could reenergize electric circuit parts.
- Place a lock and tag on each disconnecting means used to de-energize circuits and equipment.
- Attach a lock to prevent persons from operating the disconnecting means.
- If a lock cannot be applied, a tag may be used without a lock.
- Make sure a tag used without a lock is supplemented by at least one additional security measure that provides a level of protection equal to that of the use of a lock.
- A lock may be used without a tag if only:
- One piece of equipment is de-energized, and
- The lockout period does not extend beyond the work shift, and
- Employees exposed to the hazards of reenergizing the equipment understand this procedure.
- Verify the de-energized condition of the equipment.
- Have the lock and tag be removed by the employee who applied it, or if that employee is not at the worksite, by another person designated to do so.
- Only allow qualified persons to work on electric circuit parts or equipment that has not been de-energized.
- Deenergize and ground overhead lines or provide other protective measures before work is started.
- Maintain the distances in 1910.333(c)(3)(i) when an unqualified person is working in a position near overhead lines.
- Maintain the distances in 1910.333(c)(3)(ii) when a qualified person is working in a position near overhead lines.
- Maintain the distances in 1910.333(c)(3)(iii) when operating any vehicle or mechanical equipment capable of having parts of its structure near energized overhead lines.
- Provide necessary illumination for employees in confined spaces.
- Provide necessary shields, barriers, or insulating materials so employees can avoid contact with exposed energized parts in confined or enclosed spaces.
- Require portable ladders that could come into contact with exposed energized parts to have non-conductive side rails.
- Prohibit the wearing of conductive jewelry and other items if the person might contact exposed energized parts.
- Prohibit the performing of housekeeping duties around energized parts.
- Allow only qualified persons to defeat an interlock temporarily.
- Visually inspect portable cord- and plug-connected equipment and flexible cord sets (extension cords) before each use.
- Take the defective portable cord and plug connected equipment and extension cords out of use.
- Make sure flexible cords used with grounding-type equipment must have an equipment grounding conductor.
- Prohibit employees from manually reenergizing a circuit de-energized by a circuit protective device until it has been determined the equipment and circuit can be safely energized.
- Visually inspect test instruments and equipment before it is used; do not use defective equipment.
- Use only test instruments and equipment that is rated for the circuits, equipment, and environment.
- Provide employees the necessary PPE (and require its use) in areas where there are potential electrical hazards, including arc flash and blast.
- Maintain PPE in a safe, reliable condition and inspect or test it periodically.
- Require guarding be put in place when normally enclosed live parts are exposed for maintenance or repair.
- Use safety signs, safety symbols, or accident tags as needed to warn employees about electrical hazards.
- Use barricades in conjunction with safety signs when necessary.
- Station attendants to warn of danger if signs and barricades are not enough.
Let me know what you think; send emails to firstname.lastname@example.org
You can find me on LinkedIn! Post a LinkedIn update, letting me know what you think of the podcast. Be sure to @ mention Blaine J. Hoffmann or The SafetyPro Podcast LinkedIn page. You can also find the podcast on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter
Oct 09 2018
Rank #15: 075: Near Death Safety Lesson with Kelly Pitts
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Here at the 2019 VPPPA National Safety Symposium where everyone you meet has a story to tell. Kelly Pitts shares his message of a near-death experience and what you can learn and take back to your organization.
You can find me on LinkedIn! Post a LinkedIn update, letting me know what you think of the podcast. Be sure to @ mention Blaine J. Hoffmann or The SafetyPro Podcast LinkedIn page. You can also find the podcast on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
Aug 29 2019
Rank #16: 034: Confined Space Entry Safety Pt 1
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I want to get into confined spaces and permit-required confined spaces. I need to break this topic up into a couple of different episodes, beginning with a general introduction to terms, definitions, emergency response, and some training requirements before getting into specifics around the actual entry permits and entry procedures like monitoring in the next episode.
Ok, so let’s first define the terms for our discussion:
According to 29 CFR 1910.146, a confined space is ANY space that:
* Is large enough and so configured that an employee can bodily enter and perform assigned work * Has limited or restricted means for entry or exit (for example, tanks, vessels, silos, storage bins, hoppers, vaults, and pits are spaces that may have limited means of entry.) * Is not designed for continuous employee occupancy.
Let’s talk about that last part for a moment; OSHA defines continuous human occupancy vaguely, but use the following as a benchmark:
Can the worker safely remain inside the space during operation? Of course, we are talking about not being exposed to a recognized hazard while inside; moving/rotating parts, live electrical components, gases, fumes, or other hazardous atmosphere, things like that.
I have heard all sorts of crazy excuses why a space is NOT a confined space:
- It has a door - There is a light, they meant for someone to be in there - There are two ways out
You need to assess and evaluate ALL aspects of the space to determine whether or not it is considered a confined space according to OSHA.
So, confined spaces can include underground vaults, tanks, storage bins, manholes, pits, silos, underground utility vaults and pipelines, etc. It really depends on you being able to assess the space in question.
Now, OSHA states that the employer shall evaluate the workplace to determine if any spaces are PERMIT-required confined spaces.
Well, a ”Permit-required confined space (permit space)" means a confined space that we already defined, has one or more of the following characteristics:
1. Contains or has a potential to contain a hazardous atmosphere
2. Contains a material that has the potential for engulfing an entrant
3. Has an internal configuration such that an entrant could be trapped or asphyxiated by inwardly converging walls or by a floor which slopes downward and tapers to a smaller cross-section OR
4. Contains any other recognized serious safety or health hazard
If the workplace contains any permit spaces, you have to inform exposed employees, by posting danger signs or by any other equally effective means, of the existence and location of and the danger posed by the PERMIT spaces.
I always recommend controlling access further by adding physical locks when possible. Especially if your policy is that no employees are permitted to enter these spaces. This adds another level of security to the postings.
Ok, for me, starting with managing the spaces themselves as well as the activities in and around these spaces is the key to ensuring worker safety. And it all starts with making sure you are PREPARED to respond to ANY emergency in the workplace.
Emergency services (whether you have confined spaces or not) is critical for any workplace. First and foremost, you need to determine whether or not emergency crews are able to reach your facility in what OSHA calls a “reasonable amount of time” for life-threatening situations.
So, according to OSHA, in workplaces where serious accidents such as those involving falls, suffocation, electrocution, or amputation are possible, emergency medical services must be available within 3-4 minutes, if there is no employee on the site who is trained to render first aid.
OSHA recognizes that a somewhat longer response time of up to 15 minutes may be reasonable in workplaces, such as offices, where the possibility of such serious work-related injuries is more remote.
Also, OSHA has interpreted the standard to require a separate (either in-house or outside) rescue and emergency service when permit space entry operations are performed in an immediately dangerous to life and health (IDLH) atmosphere.
This means any condition that poses an immediate or delayed threat to life or that would cause irreversible adverse health effects or that would interfere with an individual's ability to escape unaided from a permit space. An example would be during inerting activities.
Even in permit space entry operations involving non-IDLH atmospheres, more than one rescuer may be required in permit space entry operations depending on the hazards present and the number of authorized entrants that may require rescue.
The minimum number of people required to perform work that is covered by OSHA standards for permit-required confined space entry standards and respiratory protection standards will be driven by facts such as the hazards or potential hazards, the number of entrants who may require rescue and the configuration and size of the space. So planning is critical!
When using outside services that are able to meet the response time, consider the following:
* Have local response crews been out to see your facility? * Have they done a walkthrough of some high-hazard processes and activities (not just confined spaces)? * Are they equipped to manage the types of emergencies your site may present? (Many rural departments may lack some of the resources needed) * Have emergency services crews trained or conducted simulated rescues at your site?
These are just a few examples of best practices you can follow to ensure a higher level of safety.
Also, keeping track of who is entering these spaces at any given time is key. Whether they are contractors or your own employees; knowing when entries are taking place and tracking entrants is a major part of the OSHA requirements.
This gets us into the permit entry system. This is your written procedure for preparing and issuing permits for entry and for returning the permit space to service following the termination of entry.
This is important; for a PERMIT required confined space, NO entry is allowed unless a written entry permit is completed, you have identified the trained attendant, entrants and entry supervisor (we will go through all that in the next episode) and have documented each hazard of the space and how each hazard is mitigated.
Now, since deaths in confined spaces often occur because the atmosphere is oxygen-deficient or toxic, confined spaces need to be tested prior to entry and continually monitored. More than 60% of confined space fatalities occur among would-be rescuers; therefore, a well-designed and properly executed rescue plan is a must.
If spaces are properly evaluated prior to entry and continuously monitored while the work is being performed and have appropriate rescue procedures in effect, fewer incidents would occur. OSHA considers entry to have been made into space whenever ANY part of the entrant’s body breaks the plane of the space opening. CAUTION: hazards may still be present right outside the opening, like when a space has undergone nitrogen purging; an oxygen deficiency could exist just feet outside the opening and someone could be bending down to look inside (without breaking the plane) and be overcome, and pass out, fall into the space, etc. And this HAS led to fatalities before.
So just because OSHA says you have to break the plane to have made an entry, don’t forget about the general environmental controls standard that applies just outside the space.
Let’s stop there with entry procedures and save that specific topic for the next episode. I wanted to give you an overview of what is involved and what to expect moving forward. Now that you have an idea of what these spaces are (according to OSHA) and some of the requirements; let’s focus on preparing for confined space operations in general. In a word; TRAINING.
Employees need to be trained BEFORE they are assigned any duties related to confined space work. Let me break these into some categories for you:
1. General safety 2. Entrants 3. Attendants 4. Supervisors
For general safety training, all employees, regardless of their role, need to understand the common hazards present or that may be present in any of the spaces that they might work. Especially hazards they may be introducing themselves. Are they cutting or welding? Are they using chemicals? Are they using electrical equipment?
Training also has to include signs and symptoms of exposure to certain hazards. All workers need to know how to identify whether or not an entrant is being affected by any of the hazards that may be present. They also need to understand how hazards are to be controlled, the monitoring equipment used in spaces, etc. General training also has to include how to respond in an emergency. If you do rely on 911 (local emergency services, assuming you already verified they are able to perform such rescues as I already discussed) they need to go over the communication system to be used prior to work beginning.
According to the Standard; you have to develop and implement procedures for summoning rescue and emergency services, for rescuing entrants from permit spaces, for providing necessary emergency services to rescued employees, and for preventing unauthorized personnel from attempting a rescue.
Also, if there is any fall protection or retrieval equipment being used, they have to be properly trained on its set up and use. Especially if non-entry rescue is being utilized. This is crucial. You can see that knowing the confined spaces standard is not enough. You will need to know general safety requirements, PPE standards, Fall Protection, Respiratory Protection, Emergency Services, and First Aid, and more!
Attendants need to know all of the general training requirements as well as the need to remain at the space at all times. They cannot perform ANY other duties that interfere with being an attendant. The entrant can’t yell out to the attendant that they need a wrench or something and the attendant runs to the toolbox real quick and grabs it. They can’t be chatting up another site worker about the game last night, nothing like that!
This all has to part of the training. The same goes for the entry supervisor. Now the entry supervisor is responsible for ensuring ALL the sections of the permit have been addressed appropriately. The entry supervisor can also serve as the attendant if they are trained to do both, but I always recommend off you have the ability, use another layer of oversight by having someone else be the entry supervisor.
The permit itself we will go into detail on in the next episode. How to fill it out, terminating the space entry, how long you need to keep these on file, all that stuff. I will have permit templates available, checklists for you so you can get started. But this episode, I wanted to introduce the topic, talk about some of the definitions and training requirements to get us started.
So keep an ear out for the next episode as we go deeper into this topic. Let me know what your thoughts are regarding confined spaces. I would like to cover some FAQs as well and talk about some common letters of interpretation in the next episode that will help you improve your confined space entry program.
You can find me on LinkedIn! Post a LinkedIn update letting me know what you think of the podcast. Be sure to @ mention Blaine J. Hoffmann or The SafetyPro Podcast LinkedIn page. You can also find the podcast on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter
Feb 19 2018
Rank #17: 011: VPP Element 1 - Leadership Commitment & Employee Involvement
ANNOUNCEMENT: We are now offering the #1 safety and health management system review tool used to prepare companies for the partnership with OSHA. Now you can use the same tool I have used for years.
But don't worry, staying true to my values and goals for this podcast, I explain it all in the next 4 episodes covering the VPP elements and sub-elements in detail.
Take notes! A lot of info is packed into the 4-episode series on VPP! email me at email@example.com
Aug 25 2017
Rank #18: 078: How to Interview for a Safety Mindset
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When a company is looking to hire their next safety leader they must be sure to select the right person for the job. But hiring a safety leader goes well beyond their safety and health credentials and experience. You want to have someone with the right safety mindset, not just safety background and experience. The same thing goes for hiring production or other team leaders.
Everyone knows the importance that teams play in organizational success. However, let’s not forget that teams are made up of individual players, each with strengths and weaknesses. In his book, The Ideal Team Player, Patrick Lencioni reveals the three indispensable virtues that make some people better team players than others, and this speaks to their mindset (1).
According to Lencioni:
Ideal team players are humble. This is a person who lacks excessive ego or concerns about status. Humble people are quick to point out the contributions of others. They are slow to seek attention for their own, explains Lencioni. They share credit, emphasize team over self, and define success collectively rather than individually. They also recognize and are well-aware of their own strengths, and they can easily share those strengths when asked (1).
Ideal team players are hungry. They are always looking for more. Hungry people rarely have to be pushed by a manager to work harder because they are self-motivated and diligent; at the same time, they aren’t so hungry that they are entirely consumed by work. They are continually thinking about the next step and the next opportunity. They have just the right amount of drive you want to see (1).
Ideal team players are smart. By “smart,” Lencioni means they have common sense about people - or high EQ (emotional quotient). You may have heard of this referred to as emotional intelligence or being highly self-aware. Smart team members tend to know what is happening in a group situation and how to deal with others in the most effective way. You may think of them as tactful or good at “dealing with people.” They have good judgment, a great perception of what’s happening a group, and can apply intuition well on teams (1).
So, how can organizational leaders interview for these virtues?
Ask the right open-ended questions designed to get them sharing their thoughts and beliefs. Sure, you need to find out a little more about their professional background as it pertains to the technical aspects of safety.
However, if the pre-screening process went as designed, hiring managers should only be interviewing technically qualified candidates at this point. So here is an opportunity to ask questions designed to determine if the candidate is going to be an asset to the team.
Here are some examples of the right questions and what they are designed to uncover:
1. How did you get into safety? Or whatever line of work they happen to fall into.
This question helps to uncover someone’s back story and helps someone to share what drives them and motivates them.
At this point, you can start to see if they are able to articulate the “why” about their career choice. This question can also encourage them to become more comfortable during the interview, too.
2. Has there ever been a situation or incident in your work that changed or shifted your approach to safety?
Are they able to learn from situations? How have they adapted in the past to improve their life and work for the better? This question, once again, starts to dig deeper and helps you know more about how humble someone is, and their degree of self-awareness, too.
3. What is something you would do to show senior leaders how safety can be a profit center?
This question helps to indicate more about their capacity for critical thinking. After all, you want a candidate to be able to make a connection between safety and other aspects of the business, and this can help you know more about how savvy they are in this arena.
4. What would you do if you saw a hazard or if you saw someone doing something unsafe at work? Has this ever happened—if so, how did you handle it? Was there anything you wish you could have done differently? (2)
The answer helps you know more about how a candidate chooses to approach others, especially when that situation is uncomfortable or can involve conflict.
5. How do you approach incident investigations?
Once again, this helps us to frame someone’s motivation and mindset and helps us know more about how they deal with others (smart), their ability to be forward-thinking (hungry), and their degree of self-awareness as it relates to their own ego (humble).
As you talk to the person, see: do they seek to put blame on people or do they think in terms of fixing and improving processes? Do they start with “what someone did” or “what did we miss in this process”? Both responses are telling.
6. What are the most important accomplishments of your career?
This question, fundamentally, is another way of seeing what someone values. Look for more mentions of “we” rather than “I” to see how team-oriented they are. Of course, it isn’t about being so simplistic as to count the responses. In the event that someone refers to himself or herself individually more than as a member of a team, probe for whether he or she was working alone or with others.
7. What was the most embarrassing moment in your career? Or what was the biggest failure?
Look for whether the candidate celebrates that embarrassment or is mortified by it. Humble people generally aren’t afraid to tell their unflattering stories because they’re comfortable with being imperfect. And, they know their strengths and are confident in those strengths so failure isn’t seen as taking away from their self-worth, necessarily. Also, look for specifics and real references to the candidate’s own culpability.
Look for specifics about how the candidate accepted responsibility for that failure, what they learned from it, and if they actually acted on what was learned. The ideal time player isn’t arrogant when looking back, but they aren’t lacking confidence, either. They were motivated to grow and learn from the event, and are happy to share that fact, too.
8. How do you define success in safety? How would you measure it? (2)
This is another example of a critical thinking question. Can the candidate define what success looks like, how to tell and more importantly, how to achieve that success?
9. What is the hardest you’ve ever worked on something in your life?
Look for specific examples of real, but joyful sacrifice. In other words, the candidate isn’t complaining but is grateful for the experience. Once again, this helps you to know more about what they really value, too.
10. Have you ever worked with a difficult colleague or boss? How did you handle the situation?
By asking the candidate about a difficult work relationship, you will learn if he or she can read situations and people and handle them skillfully. This question gives you another chance to see if they have people smarts (not the same as intellectual smarts) and how much hunger they have. It’s one more chance to get insight into their overall ability to fit into your existing culture.
Let me know what you think - email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Also, let’s connect on LinkedIn so we can continue to collaborate on workplace safety. You can post a comment on LinkedIn about this episode as well - be sure to @ mention Blaine J. Hoffmann or The SafetyPro Podcast LinkedIn page. You can also find the podcast on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter!
Questions in this blog post were taken directly from Terra Carbert’s post, “Interview Questions for Safety” which can be found here and The Ideal Team Player interview guide by Patrick Lencioni.
Link to sources:
Sep 24 2019
Rank #19: 031: A Process to Change Workplace Safety Culture
In this episode, I want to talk about changing workplace culture. I have had a couple of episodes on Safety Culture already. And all of that still applies. Again, for the discussion let’s define the term:
Culture is the character and personality of your organization. It's what makes your organization unique and is the sum of its values, traditions, beliefs, interactions, behaviors, and attitudes.
This is key: the values, traditions, beliefs, interactions, behaviors, and attitudes. These are what drive behavior, specifically, what helps workers make CHOICES that we then see in actions or behaviors.
The reason I bring this up is that for the last year or so I have been talking to colleagues, reading and chatting in online groups and I keep reading about a common theme out there by so-called “thought leaders’ and ‘guru’s’ in organizational development and safety culture development. As many of you know I had been in consulting for a decade specializing in these areas; culture development. And yes, I have an opinion on this as you may have guessed.
So let me use a specific example of what I am talking about; I have seen a number of LinkedIn posts and articles about NOT talking too much about regulations or starting a conversation with “OSHA says…”. or similar discussions. While we can all agree that not having to drag in the references to regulations is good; we often have to go to those minimum standards. The reason? It is a sign of a “bad” safety culture.
Workplace culture often drives HOW we communicate about safety. The mistake most folks make is they manage by aspirational cultural values or from a future state. Here is what I mean; I see a lot of professionals pick up a book about culture this and culture that or read The Toyota Way and then look at their work culture and think, “yeah, we need to be like this!”
Problem; You are NOT like that. You need a roadmap to get there, yes. But do NOT approach your work culture as if they already are, based on what you wish were true about your work culture. These aspirations are commendable but sets you up for failure.
You manage from where you ARE, not where you wish to be. So I have some examples of what I mean. If you think you should not have to talk about minimum regulations because you feel your culture is so much beyond this yet you continually get challenged by leaders and coaches to “show me where I have to do this” or “where does it say I have to do that?” then you are not there yet!
You can try and avoid stating regulations or reciting the unfortunate phrase “according to OSHA…” but at some point, you will have to simply because your culture is still at that place. I have heard time and time again and have had key maintenance and leadership personnel flat out ask, “What is the policy or regulation on this or that?” And if they are seeking validation, give it to them. These are folks that just need to be consulted. Give them the info because this is what they are saying they need as a basis for their work. OR justification for how they work. You may eventually get past this point but if this is where you are now…manage from there.
Another sign of where you are is when key personnel asks what the minimum amount of effort needed is to get by? Or, when you attempt to go above and beyond but the workforce pushes back with “we never had to do this before…”
These are clear signs of YOU needing to understand where your work culture is right NOW, not wishing where you would like them to be. Again, those aspirations should motivate us to discover where we are (or current state) and determine the difference between that and the ideal (or future) state. This is the gap we need to work to close. That way we can devise a change plan that is realistic and addresses the areas that need developed and not focus on things we will never be able to improve.
So, if you are tired of having to say, “According to the Standard…” then ask WHY you are still having to say it. If you try to improve something beyond minimum compliance and get pushback, ask WHAT it is folks are resisting. It may just be the change and not the specific safety rule. So you may want to shift focus to change management in general. Go ask the quality folks or the lean folks if they have issues implementing even small changes to tasks or the work environment. Chances are they do.
So don’t get wrapped around the axle that your SAFETY culture is broken, when it may just be a PEOPLE thing. Strive to work with the other teams to find common obstacles and barriers. Safety needs to STOP operating in a vacuum and collaborate with other areas of the business to strategically align efforts to improve workplace culture.
If you are reading a book about workplace safety culture, fine. I recommend several on my resources page. But again, don’t get so wrapped up in your silo and think that this is unique to YOUR department. Most likely it is not. And if you have something figured out, like an aspect of the culture that you can improve, then you need to reach out and share this with others. Look into some management of change approaches. Helping workers deal with change.
You have a change plan, laid out timelines for training on this initiative you want to implement, how long before everyone gets the new equipment, etc. You know, a project management process. But do you have a process for change? One example is the ADKAR Model (again, just ONE example). This is a framework for understanding change at an individual level. It has 5 elements or building blocks, that must be in place for real change:
Awareness: this represents a person’s awareness of the nature of the change, why it is being made and the risk of NOT changing.
Desire: This represents the willingness to support and engage in the change.
Knowledge: This represents the information, training, and education needed to know HOW to change.
Ability: This represents the realization or the execution of the change. It addresses turning the knowledge into action.
Reinforcement: This represents those internal and external factors that sustain change.
The elements of the ADKAR model fall into the natural order of how one person experiences change. Desire cannot come before awareness because it is the awareness of the need for change that stimulates our desire or triggers our resistance to that change.
Knowledge cannot come before desire because we do not seek to know how to do something we do not want to do.
Ability cannot come before knowledge because we cannot implement what we do not know.
Reinforcement cannot come before ability because we can only recognize and appreciate what has been achieved.
The lifecycle for ADKAR begins after a change has been identified. From this starting point, the model provides a framework and sequence for managing the people side of change.
In the workplace, ADKAR provides a solid foundation for change management activities, including readiness assessments, sponsorship, communications, coaching, training, recognition and resistance management.
Look, there are other models. This is but one that I have used and have seen success in the past. But I want to point you in the right direction to get started addressing what I stated earlier, that is identifying the change that is needed is one thing, having a process to facilitate the change, ensuring its success is another.
This is a tool that can help. Stop managing from where you wish you were. Identify where you are today and get started laying out a plan to achieve successful, lasting change.
Let me know what you think! Send emails to email@example.com. You can find me on LinkedIn! Post a LinkedIn update, letting me know what you think of the podcast. Be sure to @ mention Blaine J. Hoffmann or The SafetyPro Podcast LinkedIn page. You can also find the podcast on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
Jan 30 2018
Rank #20: 065: Establishing an Effective Fatigue Risk Management System
Absenteeism represents a significant cost to organizations, and sleep loss is one of its leading causes. Presenteeism, being at work but not working effectively, also leads to substantial reductions in productivity. With reduced physical and mental functioning due to lost sleep, productivity goes down.
Increased risk of errors
People with sleep deficits are not as productive as they could be, and they are also more prone to making mistakes and errors. An estimated 274,000 insomnia-related workplace accidents and errors occur yearly and cost U.S. employers more than $31 billion, which is more than any other chronic health-related condition.
Incidents and crashes
A 2014 study estimated that up to 21% of all fatal vehicle crashes might involve a drowsy driver. Factors that contribute to such events include working multiple jobs, working nights or other unusual schedules, getting less sleep than needed and getting poor-quality sleep. Long commutes add to longer waking days and cut into the time available for sleep, putting many workers at increased risk for driving while drowsy.
ProTip: According to the NTSB: 20% of accidents are related to fatigue, with 40% of highway crashes involving fatigued drivers. Share this information as much as possible.
Fatigue culture is difficult to overcome
A workplace culture that rewards or tolerates fatigue can also be a factor. In some high-performance cultures, employees may view fatigue as a sign of weakness or laziness. They may be committed to getting the work done despite long hours, even coming to believe fatigue doesn’t affect them.
Employers may incentivize long hours with financial incentives or promotions, increasing risk and promoting a culture of burnout instead of managing fatigue as a potential safety hazard.
Fatigue management as part of safety management systems
We address workplace fatigue through the same types of safety management mechanisms that an organization uses to for overall safety. Such an approach ideally applies multiple elements, recognizing that fatigue is a complex issue that can be minimized but not eliminated.
Getting started with a fatigue risk management system
Fatigue management is a way to further enhance the current safety management system and can rely on many existing mechanisms. As a first step, organizations should make an effort to understand what fatigue risks exist.
Incremental components or comprehensive plan
While a comprehensive fatigue management program may be the best approach, especially for larger organizations, test individual elements at first. A first part, perhaps smaller in scope, can be implemented and evaluated. Lessons learned can then be applied as the component is expanded upon and when considering other activities.
Form a fatigue committee
Designating an individual, or individuals, to head up fatigue management activities is critical for success. For larger organizations, a small committee can oversee activities, gather and evaluate feedback, and determine areas to focus efforts. Having representatives from across the organization such as safety, operations, and health/wellness will ensure that you include different perspectives.
It is essential that the fatigue management process be transparent and that appropriate information is shared throughout the effort to obtain buy-in from all levels of the organization. Providing open forums that allow employees to share how fatigue affects them is one way to get engagement from the outset.
Identifying fatigue risks
In addition to employee input, an audit or survey of supervisors and managers can help determine where fatigue risks exist and provide an indication of the magnitude. Such information can help prioritize what countermeasures or mitigation actions to take and where to focus efforts.
For the initial activities, it is imperative to present some action in the near term, so contributors will feel their input was and is incorporated. As a result, they are more likely to be engaged in the ongoing process and actions.
Critical components of a fatigue risk management system (FRMS)
Education and training
Sleep health education is a vital element of any fatigue management effort. Different delivery mechanisms can be considered and may be used over time as the program matures as a way to help keep information fresh. Depending on available resources, external expertise can be beneficial. In a public safety setting, expert-led sleep health training resulted in knowledge acquisition and subsequent actions to address sleep issues. Consider sleep health education as part of annual, recurrent or new-hire training.
While individuals are generally unreliable at recognizing the effects of fatigue in themselves, developing a "personal signs and symptoms" checklist can provide a structured mechanism for self-assessment. People should include ways in which fatigue affects them, such as yawning or being forgetful and then track the number of hours of sleep in the past 24 hours, hours awake and time of day. If multiple fatigue factors are present, then the individual should seek out countermeasures to boost alertness.Policies and practices
Clarify roles and expectations - A recognized internal point of contact with responsibility for fatigue management efforts is a necessary first step towards practical implementation. This individual should be responsible for managing communications about the program and coordinating all program activities. This “fatigue champion” recognizes both the benefit to the organization and employees’ lives. The champion can provide an extra level of motivation and inspiration that can lead to an exceptional fatigue management program.
Policies and practices for work periods - Effective policies and practices for hours of work and rest should be science-based and recognize the physiological need for sleep and circadian rhythms. They should also take into consideration the type of work that needs to be done and understand the characteristics of the workforce. There is no “one size fits all” number for daily or weekly work hours.
Daily and weekly limits - Daily fatigue risks increase with more hours on duty, or with more time on task (hours of work without a break). Daily work limits should also address the impact of hours awake, and how factors such as commute times and shift start times will affect the time workers are awake before the start of their work period.
Sleep loss throughout a workweek impairs performance. Setting weekly limits on total work hours and including a provision for a weekly off-duty “reset” period are common ways that organizations seek to manage the cumulative effects of sleep loss over time. The intent of the “reset” day or days off is to allow workers to obtain recovery sleep and be rested and ready for their next period of workdays.
Time-of-day fatigue (circadian rhythm misalignment) - Working at night and corresponding daytime sleep are both misaligned with the normal circadian rhythms. Fatigue risks increase during night shifts, and sleeping during the day is less than optimal due to the circadian clock. For those working a night shift, consider minimizing monotonous or monitoring tasks that can unmask underlying sleepiness, and safety-sensitive duties should be scheduled earlier in the work shift when possible.
ProTip: Early morning shifts require employees to adjust their sleep schedules, which might lead to chronic sleep loss. They also need employees to be alert when their bodies are still in sleep mode. Discuss this with your employees to raise awareness.
Limits on night shifts - With increased fatigue risks associated with working at night, employers should consider implementing shorter night shifts, which provides a way to minimize the interaction of risks related to hours awake and the increased likelihood of fatigue during the low point in circadian rhythms.
Fatigue risks have also been found to increase over consecutive night shifts, so minimizing multiple nights in a row and providing regular breaks should be considered.
Limits on early morning shifts - Early-morning shift starts can also infringe on individuals’ regular sleep periods. With long commutes, wake times necessary for early shift starts may feel more like the middle of the night than morning.
Difficulty in getting to bed earlier than our circadian clock’s programming is a challenge in getting adequate sleep.
Limits on work hours - While flexibility is necessary in many situations, additional restrictions should be considered for those working irregular schedules, for example limiting the number of on-call periods per week.
Shift workers are vulnerable to fatigue because of non-traditional work schedules that might require long shifts, non-daytime working hours, and changing shifts. As a result, shift workers are at a higher risk of drowsy driving.
One shift-working population that is at particular risk is medical workers, who can log more than 100 hours in a workweek with very little sleep. After an extended shift, medical interns were five times more likely to have a near-miss incident on their commute home, and twice as likely to have a motor vehicle crash.
Fit for Duty - An employee arriving fit for duty is the responsibility of both the employer and the employee.
- Employers should ensure employees have at least 12 hours off between shifts to get proper sleep.
- Employees are responsible for allocating their off-the-job hours wisely, especially if they are working a second job.
A workplace with positive environmental controls promotes better overall working conditions and should be less physically stressful in ways that contribute to fatigue on the job. Factors such as high temperatures, noise, and vibration are leading drivers of occupational fatigue.
Environmental factors can play a role in employees’ accumulation of fatigue. Things that help promote alertness include:
- Moderate temperature
- Bright lighting
- Clean air
- Quiet environment
Also, designated break areas that are separate from the work areas can be an essential tool in managing fatigue. Break time in well-lit, moderate temperatures with adequate ventilation (fresh air) can provide an opportunity to reset for those working in physically stressful settings.
ProTip: Caffeine can provide a short-term boost to alertness when appropriately used. Rather than relying on caffeine throughout a shift, it is best to use it just before a critical work task or before the mid-afternoon period when sleepiness occurs. A cup of regular coffee with 100–200 mg of caffeine can boost alertness up to four hours, with about 15–30 minutes needed to take effect. Be cautious with sugar in coffee or caffeinated beverages, as it can reduce alertness when coming down from the “sugar high.”
Data-driven programs and continuous improvement
A fatigue management program provides the most value when it is data-driven and strives for constant improvement.
Ask employees for their input - Employees can be a wealth of information. You need to ask and listen.
- What mitigation strategies work best? Employees may have valuable feedback on environmental conditions and the usability of a break room, for example.
- What adds to your fatigue? Annual surveys of employees on their experiences and perspectives on fatigue-related matters are a great way to get a better understanding.
Low reporting levels? Maybe something isn’t working. Don’t assume that low reporting levels mean there are no issues. Are reporting and monitoring systems effective? Usable? Are employees discouraged from reporting by the use of layered paperwork processes?
Monitoring and reporting mechanisms allow the program champion and other safety managers to assess the levels of fatigue risk in the organization over time, identify trends, and understand the issues that are being reported and need addressing. Incorporate reporting processes into current procedures within an existing safety management system. Keep in mind that when implementing a program, low levels of reporting may indicate a lack of awareness of the program rather than a lack of fatigue-related issues in the workplace.
Incident and accident investigation reporting
Established incident and accident investigation processes should be expanded to include an evaluation of the potential role of fatigue. Generally, a combination of factors present at the time of an incident/ accident would indicate that fatigue played a role. Include the following:
- Time on shift: More hours may increase the likelihood of fatigue
- Time awake at the time of event: When hours awake exceed 17, fatigue becomes more likely.
- Length of the work week: More consecutive days/nights of work also leads to increased fatigue.
- Self-reported info on alertness: Use standard measures such as sleepiness scales to measure this.
- Self-reported info on sleep history: Investigations should gather info on prior sleep history the assess influence of the previous factors.
Review and learn from data
Incident and accident reports can be a valuable tool for the fatigue program manager. Look for trends in the types and sources of reported fatigue factors. Investigations can provide valuable “lessons learned” to incorporate into ongoing education and training activities.
Continuous improvement: collecting data and applying lessons learned
As with any organizational safety-related effort, it is essential to seek ways to continue improving operations. Monitoring and reporting information, along with incident or accident investigation and reporting, provides valuable information to the program manager.
- What is working?
- What isn’t?
- What can we do better?
Employers should consider a regular internal audit, or use of an external evaluator to address the above questions and determine ways for further improvements and expand the program.
Fatigue Management Tools
Scheduling software - Some industries, such as aviation, use programs that evaluate work schedules for potential fatigue risks as part of their fatigue management efforts. Such programs use science-based algorithms related to factors such as sleep need, circadian disruption, hours awake and time of day. Safety managers then evaluate work schedules for potential issues and implement strategies that will attempt to address the problems and minimize risks.
Risk assessment tool - Factors include the length and timing of work periods, time-on-task, workload, consecutive days or nights of work, variations in work schedule, and timing and duration of rest periods.
Other factors to consider include worksite environmental conditions, commute times and other potential stressors such as critical deadlines. Safety managers can similarly evaluate potential risks with this approach and determine interventions to minimize those risks.
ProTip: You can do all of this by using a tool like iReportSource by the way. So as I often ask folks; if you aren't already using a digital EHS solution, why?
Wrapping it all Up
- An integrated, multi-element fatigue program is most beneficial, though the implementation of incremental activities may be more feasible for smaller companies or those with limited resources.
- Fatigue champions should remain aware that change is difficult and should be managed with care; highlight benefits for employees such as quality of life and improved health.
- Transparency and shared information are essential in getting buy-in from all participants.
- Data-driven processes provide important empirical information on what issues exist within an organization and provide a framework for continued improvements to the program.
The National Safety Council is leading the conversation on workplace fatigue in the U.S. Follow the various links in this post to learn more.Additional Resources NIOSH offers tips to help reduce the effects of fatigue in the workplace:
- Allow at least 10-consecutive hours per day of off-duty time for workers to get 7-8 hours of sleep.
- Provide frequent rest breaks during demanding work.
- Adjust shift lengths to either five 8-hour shifts or four 10-hour shifts.
- Schedule one or two full days of rest to follow five consecutive 8-hour shifts or four 10-hour shifts.
- Train workers to be aware of the demands of shiftwork and to know what resources are available if they have difficulties.
- Examine near-misses and incidents to determine if fatigue played a role.
Cost of a Tired Workforce
NSC in collaboration with the Brigham and Women’s Hospital Sleep Matters Initiative developed an online fatigue cost calculator that estimates the cost of sleep deficiency for businesses. Entering four data points into the calculator – workforce size, industry, location, and shift scheduling practice – generates an estimated dollar cost that helps the organization quantify the cost of fatigue and justify the implementation of a fatigue risk management system (FRMS).
The cost calculator and the methodology used to create it are in Calculating the Cost of Poor Sleep: Methodology at www.nsc.org/tiredatwork.Find more information about the effects of fatigue on physical and mental functioning in the NSC report Tired at Work: How Fatigue Affects Our Bodies.
You have a lot on your plate…But iReportSource helps you own safety and become the master of your culture:
- Record, report and minimize safety incidents using iReport.
- Understand your existing safety culture and reinforce the positive aspects, bit by bit, so you can improve the employee experience.
May 07 2019