SAFETY PERSPECTIVES

How Gray Areas in Your Safety Policies Affect Employee Safety

Posted by  Esteban Tristan, Ph.D.

Does your company have any safety policies or procedures that are somewhat unclear or ambiguous? Are there certain safety rules that are interpreted somewhat differently depending on the situation, or who you talk to? If so, you probably have some safety policies that have “gray areas” and you’re certainly not alone. Many safety professionals and employees I talk to in different industries deal with this and it can be challenging.


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Reduce Workers' Compensation Claims With Effective Employee Screening

Posted by  Amie Lawrence, Ph.D.

Maintaining a safe workplace is a crucial goal of most organizations, especially in industries where hazards are commonplace. In the manufacturing industry, keeping worker’s safe is a never-ending job and a considerable amount of effort is expended to minimize unsafe situations. When injuries and safety incidents do occur, the costs are considerable for both the worker and the employer. It’s in everyone’s best interest for workers to stay safe and healthy!


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4 Characteristics to Help Create a Best-In-Class Safety Culture

Posted by  Esteban Tristan, Ph.D.

I was talking with a VP from a U.S. power and utility provider yesterday and he raised an interesting question during our call. He said “Our goal is to be the safest energy provider in the country. But, what I’m wrestling with is, what exactly does that look like?” If you worked with this company and spent time with their leaders for just a few hours, you’d understand that this goal is probably not unrealistic at all. They have several sites that have not had a recordable injury in over a year. Their total recordable incident rate (TRIR) is below 1.0, which is less than half the industry average of 2.2 (based on 2015 BLS data), and they have a very comprehensive safety management system in place with all the things you would expect to see – well defined safety policies and procedures, JHAs, near miss reporting, and solid training. They recently joined the VPPPA program as well.


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Two Simple Questions that can Improve Your Personal Safety

Posted by  Brian Dishman

In previous blogs, we've discussed how our intuitive system impacts our decision making. Cognitive biases such as the overconfidence effect, ostrich effect, availability heuristic, social proof, and many other heuristics impact decision making and our personal safety. Several blog readers have asked us how to avoid the potential safety negative outcomes of these mental “rules of thumb.”


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Managing Employee Safety at Home and Work

Posted by  Guest Blog

One of the clichés in the occupational safety world is that our goal is to ensure that our employees get to go home each day the same way they came. The implication here is that we make them safe in the dangerous workplace until they can get to the safety of their homes. But what if home is not the safest place for them to be?


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The Next Step to Improving an Already Strong Safety Culture

Posted by  Esteban Tristan, Ph.D.

I was recently doing some development training for a global manufacturing company with a large presence here in North America. Overall, this organization has a great safety culture and has a pretty comprehensive safety management system. Not surprisingly, their TRIR (Total Recordable Incidence Rate) is currently below 1.0. However, they are actively looking for steps to get to 0.5 or lower and take the next step in terms of their safety journey.

In preparation for my training, I was reviewing some of their incident reports from the past year and noticed a similar trend. Regardless of the department where it occurred, the nature of the event, or the employee’s experience level, none of the injuries were due to any safety rule violations. In addition, they all tended to occur on tasks that were rare or unexpected. In some of the incidents, investigations revealed that there were actually no documented procedures for how to safely complete one of the steps in the process because it was rare or had such little risk associated with it. Simply put, these were not simple, garden variety safety incidents. They were more complex, and had various potential precursors related to anything from ergonomics to training to equipment maintenance.


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Examining the Amtrak Safety Incident Through the Lens of SafetyDNA

Posted by  David Juristy

On Sunday, April 3, 2016, an Amtrak train traveling southbound from New York City to Savannah, GA. struck a backhoe with Amtrak personnel performing maintenance near Philadelphia, PA. The incident killed two Amtrak workers and injured more than thirty passengers. This was a tragic event, but one that could have easily been avoided had the parties involved been aware of their blind spots when it came to their personal SafetyDNA.


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4 Simple Safety Behaviors That Put You at Risk on Ladders

Posted by  Esteban Tristan, Ph.D.

Every year, falls from height are a leading cause of fatalities and serious injuries, according to OSHA statistics. A large percentage of these falls are from ladders, which are so common on worksites. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) has reported that over 40% of fatal workplace falls involve ladders, and in the Construction industry, this number goes all the way up to 80%.

It’s no surprise, therefore, that ladder safety is a frequent and critical topic for safety professionals in any industry. From the type of ladder, to proper placement and usage, there are various aspects to consider. So if there is so much information out there about ladder safety, why are there still so many ladder-related injuries?


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3 Reasons Why Contractors Often Fail at Safety

Posted by  Esteban Tristan, Ph.D.

A few years ago I was touring a coal mine in Australia as part of a project to help improve employee safety. We were just about to wrap up our tour when a small truck sped past us on the dirt road, leaving us in a large, billowing cloud of dust. I couldn’t help but comment to the Mine Superintendent, who was our tour guide, “Wow – seemed like he was going pretty fast, huh?” He immediately responded, “Yeah, that’s that (expletive) contractor again. The speed limit is 40 km per hour on this road! We’ve already talked to them twice about that.”


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How the "Overconfidence Effect" Affects Employee Safety

Posted by  Brian Dishman

This is Part 5 of our series on how cognitive biases affect workplace safety. Click here to read Part 1, click here for Part 2, here is Part 3, and click here for Part 4.

“Don’t worry I got this” is a dangerous phrase. The overconfidence effect is a cognitive bias that frequently leads to recordable incidents and a lot of near misses. The overconfidence effect has been studied extensively within the context of decision making and risk taking.

A well-known study asked drivers to compare the safety of their driving to the other drivers participating in the study. 88% indicated that they were safer than the average driver. 60% said that they think they are one of the top 20% in terms of driving safely. Clearly there is a disconnect between perceived ability and reality. This is the overconfidence effect and it can be deadly.


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