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Caught being safe for August
LRVC - Russell Moores, Sandy Arris - Russell Moores built a pedestal bench for a small filing cabinet that was too low on the floor for people to access easily.
Transp - None
SPED - None
Adult Ed - None
LRMS - Gail White, Ginny Nadeau - Used a step ladder rather than a chair.
SES - June Berry, Shelly Willey - using a step stool
SBES - Corinne Davis, Tracie Peterson - moving a trip hazard off the floor
LRHS - Josh Arris, Nancy Irish - moved a sign in the front of the building so that it was more visible to people coming in.
SLS - None
CO - None
  • Are your Employees Adding Value to your Safety Culture?
    In the workplace, the word “safety” can evoke two distinct opinions. Some see safety as the most important aspect of their business, a healthy investment which their company strives to promote throughout the workplace. Others see safety as code for an overburdensome waste of time, money, and effort. For companies struggling with safety culture improvement, here are some ideas for raising safety awareness.

    Employees may be hesitant to embrace safety if they feel that it does not apply to them. It is important that employees understand that even if they are not working on machines or climbing to dangerous heights, that they are still at risk of injury. Include information and statistics on real life safety topics such as distracted drivers, food safety, fire prevention, ergonomic injuries, slips/trips/falls, and workplace violence. Topics like these will show employees that there are risks involved with every job! Videos of real workplace safety hazards and community safety programs can help get the point across. Encourage employees to include their family members in the safety message. Injuries can affect people at home or at work.

    A great way to involve employees in your safety culture is by creating a new safety committee, or inviting them to join your existing safety committee. Make sure management allows employees to participate during work time. A safety committee should have representation from all levels of the organization, from management to laborers. This gives employees the opportunity to express any concerns they may have. Post any identified safety issues along with efforts to ensure those issues are addressed. Create a company safety goal for the committee to work toward using a SMART goal format. Rewarding employees for participating or making safety improvements is another good way to improve culture.

    A fast and simple way to keep safety in the minds of your employees is to include a reminder in their paycheck envelopes, send emails, or broadcast the message over the company PA system. Providing and sharing safety tips, statistics, and real-life stories about other companies like your own are just a few examples of what can be included. Ask your employees for suggestions or ideas on what they would like to learn more about. Provide rewards or make announcements about which employees participate and make suggestions for improvements.

    Many companies have taken the step to create a safety incentive program within their company. Traditional incentive programs based on a lack of injuries are frowned upon by OSHA since they may unintentionally discourage employees from reporting accidents in fear of having the incentives revoked. However, other programs such as a “Find & Fix” or Safety BINGO that focus on hazard identification and correction, may benefit your safety program. Encourage employees to look for hazards in the workplace and report them to the appropriate personnel to correct the problem!

    These methods, along with written programs and proper training, will help to make safety in the workplace a habit instead of a hassle. Utilizing MEMIC’s online resources is another great way to provide safety awareness information in an effective and productive manner.
  • MEMIC Safety Blog
    The Flu and Safety – The Sniffly Connection

    Lean organizations are the norm - every person and every job matters to the mission. When all hands are ready for duty, safe work practices align with the mission. However, when a couple of absences enter the workflow, safety mindfulness can be diverted to thinking about shortcuts. Outcomes can include injuries instead of efficiencies.

    Millions of workdays are lost due to the annual flu season in the US - almost 17 million in one NIH study. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) states that billions of dollars are spent in sick days and lost productivity in our country.1 Some of those lost days are hospitalized workers with complications from the flu. The flu can even be life threatening. Influenza is contagious before symptoms are severe enough to keep you home. So the virus spreads - the more folks incubating the flu illness at work before they feel badly enough to miss work, then the MORE ill folks we’ll have incubating and out of work the next week.

    The CDC recommends annual flu vaccination as the first and best way to prevent flu. Take a look at the infographic on CDC’s “BusinessPulse: How CDC protects the health of your business” for ways CDC is assisting businesses in promoting flu vaccination for employees.

    From Florida to Maine, seasonal flu cases have been reported already. Get your own flu shot and promote employee vaccinations. As CDC says, “Make it your Business to Fight the Flu”. It is a win-win when workers are protected. The CDC offers information, free podcasts, mobile apps, widgets, eCards, and more to make the vaccination campaign effective. Click here for more info on containing the contagion from MEMIC’s Greg LaRochelle.



    "Take 3" Actions to Fight the Flu says CDC

    Vaccinate
    Stop germs
    Antiviral drugs if your doctor prescribes them
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    The National Safety Council recently announced that traffic fatalities for 2015 rose significantly from the previous year. The estimated 38,300 people killed on US roads represent the largest year for year increase in 50 years, and makes 2015 the deadliest year since 2008.

    Lower gasoline prices and job growth have had an impact on the number of miles driven in the last few years, but the rise in fatalities seems to be outpacing the rise in miles driven. The following excerpt is taken directly from the National Safety Council:

    "These numbers are serving notice: Americans take their safety on the roadways for granted," said Deborah A.P. Hersman, NSC president and CEO. "Driving a car is one of the riskiest activities any of us undertake in spite of decades of vehicle design improvements and traffic safety advancements. Engage your defensive driving skills and stay alert so we can reverse this trend in 2016."

    In a continuation of the bad news, preliminary numbers indicate this trend is continuing in 2016. In the first six months of 2016 traffic fatalities increased 9% over 2015. Add to this the 2.2 million people injured in crashes in those six months. Every driver should be concerned; 100 people dying on the roads every day is simply unacceptable. So what do we do about this? The increase in driving plays a part in the increase in fatal crashes, but so does complacency, distraction, speeding, and fatigue. These are all factors that are within our control as average drivers. Getting behind the wheel includes the inherent responsibility for our own safety, but also for the safety of everyone else we encounter on the roadway.

    Technology improvements have made vehicles safer than they have ever been. Survivability rates in many models are unprecedented. However, the driver is still the weak link in the chain and all the technology in the world currently does not make up for poor decision making. The future may include driverless cars, but in 2016 we, the vehicle operators, are still responsible for nearly every crash that occurs.

    The solution to the problem is actually pretty straightforward:

    Avoid driving when fatigued.
    Plan your trip and leave with plenty of time to account for weather or traffic delays.
    Follow the rules of the road… always.
    Never mix driving with alcohol or drugs that may impair your ability to drive.
    Never, never, never text while driving.
    Let phone calls go to voice mail, and pull over to a safe area before making a cell phone call in the vehicle. No text or phone call is worth the increased risk of a crash.

    For additional information regarding safe driving practices check out the resources available from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the National Safety Council, and the National Transportation Safety Board. Let’s all make a concerted effort to reverse this recent trend. The life you save may be your own!
  • Winter Slip, Trip and Fall Safety Tips
    Slip, trip and fall incidents result in some of the most common workplace injuries. The risk of falling outdoors increases in the winter as temperatures drop and ice and snow accumulate across a wide swath of the country. Even though the days are getting longer, we have a lot of cold weather ahead. Consider the following reminders:

    Plan for the weather by wearing appropriate footwear – even if you’re only going across the parking lot and in to the building, wear a low heel boot or shoe with good tread made for outdoor winter weather. You can carry in high heels or leather soled shoes and put them on when indoors.
    Consider wearing a pair of ice cleats or other traction enhancement device such as Stabilicers, Yaktrax, ICETrekkers, or Winter-Tuff Ice Traction Spikes. These can be a lifesaver, but use with caution and follow manufacturer’s instructions to include removing before you walk indoors! Check out various models and features at Top10The Best. You can also access Pete Koch’s previous post entitled “What’s on Your Feet This Winter?” or Greg LaRochelle’s “A Whoops and a FOOSH: Preventing Slips, Trips and Falls.”
    When walking on ice and snow covered parking lots or walkways take short steps and walk at a slower pace so you can react appropriately to quick changes in traction.
    Always use handrails when walking up or down steps. Take your time, and plant your feet firmly on each step.
    Use caution when exiting or entering your vehicle – use the door handles and vehicle itself for support, as needed.
    Even if parking lots or walkways have been cleared of snow – beware – there still could be “black ice.” Water can refreeze and create a very slippery layer of ice that can be treacherous.
    Try not to carry too much when walking in inclement conditions – keep your hands and arms free to help maintain your balance, if needed.
    Once you get in your building safely, be sure to remove as much of the snow and water from your boots/shoes as possible. If you have dry shoes to change in to, do it as soon as you can safely sit in a chair, out of the way of other pedestrian traffic.
  • Through a Stormy Night
    Wild was the wind that howled in the fury of a blinding snowstorm. The tempest kicked up suddenly, as he headed into the night with the red glow of light at the front of his team guiding him onward. There was work to be done of grand importance and proportion - another season’s mission of spreading goodwill and delight. Each child in their angelic sleep would awaken the next morning to behold a gift that would set their spirit leaping. As was his habit afore the eve, he sought guidance and instruction from the MEMIC Safety Net to ensure a safe return to his waiting family upon the last delivery. This year’s crop of blog posts would prove fruitful in the planning and preparation of this wondrous endeavor.

    Months earlier, he adopted the use of a face shield along with safety glasses when sharpening woodworking tools on a bench grinder after reading Tony’s post titled Eye Protection is More Than Having Safety Glasses. From Luis’s three part article on OSHA’s New Respirable Crystalline Silica Standard, he abandoned the use of sand and switched to a salt free, pet friendly ice melt for treating his outdoor walkways. New sit/stand workbenches were installed over the summer for his crew of toymakers, with encouragement to change posture regularly after reading Allan’s blog The Workplace is Dynamic, Don’t Be Left Standing Still. When pouring over his long list of names in his favorite stuffed chair, he limited his sitting time to 20 minute intervals; a tip he picked up from reading Maureen’s Ergonomics by the Seat of Your Pants post. On the matter of knowing who was naughty or nice, he learned about Behavioral and Integrity Testing from Alexis’s blog on improving hiring practices. For his rooftop landings, a fall hazard assessment would be made from reading Jayson’s blog titled Fall Protection and Prevention; What You Need to Know. And in case he’d encounter some simmering embers in a cozy fireplace, he’d put his fire extinguisher knowledge to good use from Debra’s post Do you have the right fire extinguisher for your workplace?

    Driven by the night’s excitement, he knew to pull in the reins on his eager team, having learned about the tragic consequences of hurried flight from reading Randy’s “I Feel the Need for Speed” blog. The old saying “Ice and Snow, Take it Slow!” came to mind from Dave’s post Still Plenty of Winter Driving to Go! His labor of love, through a stormy night, would be one of flawless execution thanks to MEMIC’s dedicated team of safety professionals.

    MEMIC’s loss control staff wishes everyone a safe and joyous holiday season.

    Santa Safety Net
  • How to prevent workplace injuries
    Putting safety first is easier said than done, but preventing workplace injuries is a manageable problem. The key may be found in a quote from Walt Disney who once said, “The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing.”

    Almost everyone says they support safety, and every company owner says that safety is a priority. Employees don’t want to get hurt, so why do we see so many workplace injuries? So often organizations have the right policies in place, and they may conduct the proper training. However, there is often no connection between safety administration and safe operations. In essence they have done the “talking”, but they haven’t begun “doing”. Following Walt’s advice could make a significant impact regarding injury prevention.

    For example, take a close look at your office ergonomics program. If you do ergonomics training for all new hire employees, and recurrent training for all office staff you may think you’ve done all you can. You may even offer dynamic workstations and the latest in ergonomically correct input devices. But the questions to ask are these: How are the employees actually interacting with their workstations on a daily basis? Are they using those devices correctly? Do they adjust the chair appropriately? Do they stretch regularly? An effective ergonomics program includes workstation evaluations, employee monitoring, and intervention when needed to correct bad habits or noncompliance. If these last few pieces are not happening consistently then the “talking” is done, but the “doing” is missing.

    Safety is sometimes an administrative activity; it could even be a collateral duty of the HR Manager. If there is a Safety Manager, he or she may be responsible for training, OSHA compliance, and injury reporting. But who’s responsible for safe behaviors? Making the connection between administration and operations can make a huge impact on injury reduction. But in order to do this the Safety Manager must have operational authority over the entire organization. This safety person would then be able to correct any unsafe behaviors without delay. Creating an immediate, and likely negative, consequence for unsafe behavior is often the only way to change behavior.

    Better yet, a safety committee with representatives from each department, all with operational authority, could better impact behavior within the entire organization. Safety committees often have a meeting once a month (talking), but what happens between the meetings is the really important part (the doing). Getting out onto the shop floor, into the offices, out to job sites, or into the company vehicles is the only way to see what is really happening. Are employees following the rules? Are they engaged in safe behaviors? Are they taking shortcuts that have immediate positive impact on operations, but potentially a negative impact on safety?

    Ultimately the improvement in these areas can lead to a culture where every employee feels he or she is a safety team member. If management properly supports safety then employees watch out for each other, they correct unsafe conditions or behaviors on their own, and they follow their training because it’s the right thing to do. The safety program is working effectively and production no longer trumps safety. So get out there and start doing! You might be surprised at what you find. For more information regarding effective safety programs check out the OSHA Safety and Health Management E-Tool.
Car Preparation and Winter Driving
Winter driving comes with a unique set of hazards, but preparation and knowledge can go a long way towards reducing and avoiding potential problems.

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, about 22% of annual crashes - nearly 1,259,000 – may be due to weather conditions. Many could have been prevented with simple preparation.

Winter weather conditions are more hazardous in northern states. To learn about the statistics for your state, visit the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.



Safe Driving Preparation Tips

Before it gets cold, make sure you and your vehicle are prepared for the months ahead.

Limit unnecessary travel when road conditions are bad. Check for weather updates and warnings before making plans or going out.
Clear all snow and ice from your vehicle’s windows, headlights, signals, brake lights and hood.
Always remember to buckle your safety belt and secure children properly. Be aware that bulky winter clothing may make child restraints difficult to secure and limit their effectiveness. It is better to place coats and blankets over the restraints rather than under them.
Fully charge your cell phone before getting into the vehicle.
Avoid warming up the car while it is parked in the garage. This can lead to potentially dangerous and sometimes even fatal levels of carbon monoxide. To learn more about the dangers of carbon monoxide, visit Iowa State University.
For new drivers, practice bad weather driving in a safe location such as an empty parking lot before hitting the open road with other drivers and vehicles.
Make sure that your tires are the right ones for the season and that they are properly inflated. Avoid over inflation of tires, as this can limit traction in addition to being a potential hazard. To learn more about tire safety in winter, visit the Rubber Manufacturers Association.



On the Road

Avoid rushing. Leave plenty of room to drive at speeds that are safe for the current driving conditions.
Give snow plows plenty of room and skip on driving close to them when avoidable. To learn about what snow plow drivers can and cannot see, visit the Texas Department of Transportation.
Leave plenty of room between you and other vehicles to allow for more time and space to stop, especially in icy or wet weather.
If you begin to skid, stay calm, ease your foot off the gas, stay off the brake, and turn the wheel in the direction that you want to go.
Keep the vehicle’s headlights on, even in the daytime, when there is snow, rain, sleet, or overcast conditions.
Avoid using the cruise control when roads are wet, covered in snow, or potentially icy.
Be aware that bridges form ice before other sections of road.
Be cautious of black ice. Not all ice is visible.
Avoid making abrupt moves or oversteering, which may cause your vehicle to skid.
If you become stuck, stay in the vehicle if it is in a safe location to do so, especially during cold or adverse weather conditions.
To limit damage from hydroplaning stay calm, avoid puddles, drive at a lower speed, drive in a lower gear, avoid hard braking, and avoid sharp turns. To learn more about what to do when your vehicle is hydroplaning, visit Consumer Reports.
If conditions become too severe or visibility is restricted, find a safe place off the road to park away from traffic.
If your vehicle is stuck in snow, do not spin the tires. Put the vehicle in the lowest gear and attempt to rock the vehicle free by switching between reverse and going forward. Dig out the tires. Use cat litter, sand, or other available materials to create traction for the wheels. When all else fails, call a friend or towing company to pull the vehicle out of the snow.


Knowing Your Vehicle and Car Care

Front-wheel, rear-wheel, or 4-wheel drive – Know your vehicle’s limits and advantages on bad weather. Rear wheel drive is better if you will be using the vehicle for towing, front-wheel drive has some benefit in making progress through snow, and four-wheel drive has a decided advantage in the snow.
Anti-lock Brakes – Know your brakes. Apply steady and firm pressure to anti-locking brakes. Never pump them.
Traction control – Be aware of if a vehicle has traction control, especially if borrowing one that is unfamiliar to you. More caution is needed to avoid skidding in vehicles that lack it.
Adding weight – Adding additional weight to your vehicle in the winter months may allow tires to get better traction. Just make sure that you are not adding the weight to the back if you have a front-wheel drive vehicle!
Windshield wipers and fluid – Keep your windshield fluid topped off and invest in new windshield wiper blades when the old ones show signs of wear. This will help to maintain visibility while driving. If you will be driving in snow this winter, also consider a small investment in winter wipers.
General car care – Get regular seasonal maintenance to make sure tires are in good condition and your vehicle, including brakes, is in optimal condition. Also, make sure that you are using the right oil weight for the season if applicable, and keep the vehicle topped off with antifreeze. For more advice on winter car care, visit the North Dakota Department of Transportation.
Motorcycles – Don’t forget proper maintenance and storage to avoid rust and other winter-long issues for motorcycles.
To learn more, you can also visit Ready.gov.



Emergency Road Kit

Have a winter weather kit in your vehicle that contains a scraper, snow brush, tow chain, shovel, sand (cat litter works too), flashlight, tire chains for severe snow, emergency snacks, blankets, gloves, hat, a coat, and winter boots.

In addition to these items, all road kits should also include flares, a safety vest, tire iron, jack, emergency road signs, jumper cables, a first aid kit, fire extinguisher, and basic mechanic’s tools.

Additional Tips for Building Your Road Kit

Winter Storm Survival Kit for Travelers (PDF) – Weather.gov
Emergency Gear and Coffee Can Survival Kit (PDF) – US Forest Service
Mini Survival Kit for Winter Storm Survival (PDF) – University of Kansas Medical Center
Winter Weather Road Trip FAQs (PDF) - Texas Department of Transportation


Winter Driving, Liability, and Insurance

Before getting behind the wheel, make sure that your car insurance policy will cover the situation.

Always have a designated driver. Never drink and drive. Not only is it extremely dangerous to everyone on the road, but many insurance policies will not cover any damages caused by it.
If borrowing a vehicle or lending yours out, make sure that your policy, or the policy covering the car, extends to situations in which the someone other than the primary policy holder of the vehicle is driving. This is often an extra not included in a basic insurance policy.
Check your policy carefully to make sure it covers you during hazardous weather, for towing from the snow, and other winter and weather related possibilities such as flooding.
Consider investing in an annual emergency road service membership.


Additional Winter Driving Safety Resources

Winter Driving Tips (PDF) – University of Colorado, Denver
Safe Winter Driving Tips – New York State Thruway Authority
Wyoming Winter Weather Preparedness (PDF) – Wyoming Office of Homeland Security
Winter travel information – Iowa Department of Transportation
Winter, Your Car, and You (PDF) – California State University, Chico
Safe Winter Driving (PDF) – NJ.gov
Winter Driving Safety Video – York County, Virginia
Safety Committee Members

Caught Being Safe 2017 Winners

5 days ago

Amy Whitten

       and Melissa Wheeler

By Denise Stuart

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