How often do we focus on the job satisfaction of our employees? How satisfied are you in the work that you perform? It has been estimated that 52% of Americans are unsatisfied with their job. Satisfaction from work could come in many different factors: completion of a project, given input, work is rewarding, etc. But, it should come as no surprise, an increase in job satisfaction decreases workplace injuries. This job satisfaction–safety link is strongly supported by research. In fact, research has shown that job satisfaction differentiated significantly between injured and non-injured workers. Therefore, we have provided tips below to improve satisfaction.
Tips to Improve Job Satisfaction to Reduce Injuries:
1)Invest in your Workforce: Job satisfaction is enhanced when employees believe that the organization is investing in them (through training and schooling).
2)Engagement: Boredom can provoke unsafe working practices by employees engaging in risk-seeking behavior. Make sure the work is engaging and not monotonous.
3)Job Autonomy: Through investment and engagement, allow your co-workers to make decisions in their task. This flexibility allows them to break out the monotonous routine.
4)Establish Roles: Role ambiguity, which would limit the extent to which employees understand fully what is required by the job, was found to be associated with reported injuries.
5)Participative Management Style: This was the best predictor of the extent to which employees were proactively involved in their own safety as opposed to merely complying with external safety regulations. Simple enough, listen to the opinions and concerns of your co-workers and make changes based upon their demands.
OSHA Act of 1970: General Duty Clause
(a) Each employer --
(1) shall furnish to each of his employees employment and a place of employment which are free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm to his employees;
I’m sure that any safety professional can recite the General Duty Clause just like reciting the chorus from Don’t Stop Believing from the band Journey (a song that my wife tragically banned from our wedding). But, how often have we seen or worked in places with hazards and not reported or corrected the issue?
A study by the Rand Corporation produced startling facts about the American workplace. One-half of American workers reported exposure to unpleasant and potentially hazardous working conditions. I will repeat it again, 50% of American workers work in an environment that is likely to cause physical harm or death. 66% reported working at high speeds or under tight deadlines with one-fourth stating they have too little time to do their jobs. And nearly 75% of American reported that their work included intense or repetitive physical exertion on the job.
These findings fit perfectly into the Bureau of Labor and Statistics on the 8 common workplace injuries: Lifting, fatigue, dehydration, poor lighting, hazardous material, workplace violence, trips and falls, and stress. Each of these common workplace injuries fit at least into at least one of the categories of hazardous work conditions, working at high speeds (rushing), and intense or repetitive physical exertion.
So, don’t stop believing, just because it’s a small-town girl or city boy doesn’t mean they should have to work in a hazardous work condition. We need to ensure that we are identifying and creating solutions to workplace hazards.
What have you found is the most effective in prevention or correcting workplace hazards? Do these statistics startle you? Or is that what you see in the workplace?
Have you ever been injured at work? - I have
Did you report you injury? - I didn’t
I’ll admit it, I have been injured twice at work, and both times I failed to report to my boss or the safety department about the injury. I will also admit that both incidents happened before I became a safety professional, so I think I should get some leeway.
The first injury occurred while I was working as a cleaner in a bakery. It was Christmas time and I was in a rush to leave. I didn’t realize that the metal rack had just been pulled out of the oven, so as I was sweeping around the racks my right forearm pushed against the rack instantly burning and causing second degree burns. At that time, I was proud of myself, I just burned my arm and didn’t even let out a yell, I merely went to the bathroom placed a bandage on the burn and continued working. On this instance I more than likely prevented an OSHA recordable by not saying anything or going to a doctor.
The second injury occurred while working as an environmental field technician. The injury occurred while working inside of a resin tank; the tank serious looked like something out of an alien movie. We did the correct procedure for confined space entry, but this tank was different. It was a top entry tank, but with a narrow opening – just big enough for my size 32 waist (with my arms up, while climbing down the ladder) to get in and no one else in the crew. The process involved hand cutting and scrapping the resin off the walls and agitator of the tank and put into a bucket. Within five minutes of being in the tank I cut my left index finger (through the latex and rubber glove) with the knife. I was not paying attention to the location of my hand in relation to the knife. I felt like an idiot. So, what do I do? I immediately took my glove off apply pressure and wrap the cut finger in the latex glove and continue working. I stay inside the tank cleaning it for the next 2 hours and get a band aid after I get out in which I failed to notify the safety manager. Although a deep cut, this one would have been first aid only, but, it had the possibility of being recordable if a doctor would have put me on restricted duty, which is possible since it was a labor type job that required the use of my hands every day.
Although the stories seem like isolated incidents, the data shows that as much as 70% of injuries go unreported or underreported in the workplace. An estimated 50% of injures go unreported in the construction industry alone. That means either the individual who was injured doesn’t report it or the safety professionals fails to report the injury on OSHA logs. But, there could be a number of different factors.
Although rare, more and more safety professionals are facing jail for falsifying injury data. Walter Cardin was sentenced to six and a half years in jail on 8 counts of major fraud against the United States for not reporting and misclassifying injury data. This falsification in the data allowed his company to receive $2.5 million in safety bonuses from the Tennessee Valley Authority.
One of the goals of electronic recordkeeping is to flush out the information and get a greater sense at the real injury data. Whether that happens, remains to be seen, but any increase in injury data will more than likely create a trigger from OSHA. The best advice is to be as honest as possible for peace of mind and to avoid potential jailtime. Besides training tracking, the STAC system is designed to store and create your OSHA 300, 300A, and 301 logs based on the injury information. Electronic recordkeeping is the future and the STAC system can give you peace of mind through electronic recordkeeping of injury information.
If you would like to know more about that OSHA logs in the STAC system let me know!
Vice President of Safety & Customer Service
Have you read the 270 page OSHA 2254 Training Requirements in OSHA Standards? Well we did! Take our survey and see how we can help identify gaps in your safety and health policy and training program.
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We can assist in creating training programs and most importantly electronic storage of training documentation. Because if there is no documentation to prove you did the training, the training never happened.
As we make plans to wrap up this calendar year, we typically remember what we are thankful for throughout the year. As a country, we can be thankful from the most recent statistics released by the U.S. Department of Labor earlier last month. Although a lagging indicator, 2016 continued an ongoing decrease in nonfatal occupational injuries and illness rates for the private sector. The released total recordable incident rate for the private sector was 2.9 per 100 full-time equivalent (FTE) workers, a decrease in 0.1 cases per 100 FTE workers from 2015 which results in 48,500 fewer nonfatal injuries or illnesses. While in one sense this is great news, the drawback is that of those injuries that did occur, nearly 1/3 of them were more serious and resulted in days away from work.
Among the 18 private industry sectors provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 4 had significant statistical changes. Focusing on the Manufacturing and Construction related industries specifically, each industry had significant change for the better—both experienced declines in the total recordable rate in 2016. Construction had a total recordable rate of 3.2 with the total days away from work, job transfer or restriction rate at 1.9. Manufacturing was slightly higher than construction with a total recordable rate of 3.6 and a rate of 2.1 for cases with days away from work, job transfer, or restriction. Manufacturing was only one of two sectors which had over 100,000 days away from work cases (118,050) yet it experienced a 4% decrease from 2015.
Although these are very broad numbers and aren’t down to the details, it paints a picture that as a country we are more aware and cognizant of safety in 2016 than we were in years past. In future articles we will drill down in the details and see what information we can glean from the information gathered over the past year.
Check out the information for yourself at News Release USDL-17-1482
Lessons Learned from a Drill Sergeant And how They can be Applied to Safety in the Workplace
While Veteran’s day has come and passed last weekend, I had time to reflect on what I had learned while I attended basic training at Fort Jackson, South Carolina. From that reflection I remember three important things echoed from my Infantry Drill Sergeant that hold true in Safety. These lessons are common across the Army, but not as common in the civilian world, so I figured I’d share these wisdoms.
Lesson 1 “Slow is Smooth, Smooth is Fast”
Those words were echoed by my Drill Sergeant while I was attempting to qualify with my assigned M16. When first heard, the expression sounds counterintuitive, how could going slow actually make me faster? Well for starters multiple factors come into play when firing a weapon, breathing, trigger squeeze, and site picture to name a few. But, the slower and smoother that you can handle these factors, better results will occur with increased effective and accurate fire toward the target.
This same principle can be applied to safety in the workplace. All too often we hear the term “hurry up, but be safe.” The implication from these terms is get the job as quick as possible with whatever tools necessary. However, many accidents and injuries can be prevented if the worker uses a slower, but smoother pace of work and constantly thinking and pre-planning for the next step and potential hazard.
Lesson 2 “Stay in Your Lane”
Not to get too bogged down in Military tactics, but essential while assaulting a position, the group assaults forward walking in your assigned “lane.” This lane is a straight line that you walk in, you do not deviate left of right as you might walk into the firing lane of your battle buddy. The good thing about staying in your lane is that you know exactly what sector of fire is your responsibility. It sounds easy enough, but walking in a straight line with obstacles, like thorns and bushes, creates hazards. Therefore, effective training is needed to ensure this concept is maintained.
This same concept can be applied to new workers trying to learn to stay in their lane. However, obstacles and hazards always present themselves. Studies have found that new employees are SIX Times more likely to be injured in the first month, than workers with more than one-year experience. So, effective safety and task training is essential to ensure they know their roles and responsibilities. An effective way to do that is through new hire employee orientation and using a mentor system.
Lesson 3 “Get Smart or Get Strong”
This concept seems simple, learn from your mistakes and the less time you will be in the front-leaning rest position (the push-up). Unfortunately, with thrown into a random group of people, sometimes people learn at different paces. And for my basic training platoon we got stronger than smarter.
In the workplace having smarter workers is far superior to “stronger” workers. A worker that relies on strength alone will eventually overexert himself/herself. For injuries that lasted over 6 days, overexertion (lifting, pushing, pulling, holding, carrying or throwing) was discovered to be the reason for 25.3% of the injuries. The direct cost alone of these injuries was $15.1 billion! A simple way to avoid these injuries is to be smarter; use proper lifting techniques, ask for help when lifting, and use mechanical equipment to aid in lifting that requires little to know exertion. So, don’t just rely on getting stronger, focus on getting smarter.
Although simple, remembering these three basic principles can be applied to the culture of your safety program and hopefully press the mindset to stay safe and remember the lessons of those before you.