The Role of Investigations in Reducing Workplace Accidents

When a workplace accident happens, getting medical attention for the injured employee, if necessary, is the priority. Afterward, it is important to investigate the accident as soon as possible. Your investigation should be a fact-finding mission, not a fault-finding mission. The goal is to uncover the root causes of the accident and take steps to prevent similar accidents.

And don’t forget to investigate near-misses. They can reveal gaps in your safety program or areas of your facility that need attention.

Successful accident investigations rely on everyone doing their part.

Management

  • Teach supervisors how to investigate accidents.
  • Ensure all accidents and injuries are properly investigated.
  • Follow up to ensure immediate and long-term corrective actions are taken to prevent reoccurrence.
  • Maintain accident/incident reports, and keep them on file.
  • Ensure entries are properly recorded on the OSHA 300 Log and First Report of Injury.

Supervisors

  • Conduct immediate initial accident/incident investigations.
  • Immediately report all accidents to management.
  • Collect and preserve all evidence that may be useful in an investigation.
  • Interview witnesses.
  • Do not attempt to find or assign blame for accidents.
  • Take action to protect people and property from reoccurrence or other ramifications.

Employees

  • Immediately report all accidents/incidents and injuries to the supervisor.
  • Help as requested in all accident/incident investigations.
  • Report all hazardous conditions and near-misses to the supervisor.

For more information on investigating accidents, visit http://www.texasmutual.com/safety/investigate.shtm.

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Go Ahead; Get Defensive

Roadway crashes are consistently the leading causes of workplace fatalities. An estimated 40,000 people die behind the wheel each year. On the surface, they are statistics in a growing epidemic. To their friends and families, they are loved ones who can never be replaced.SafeHandTexas logo

Drivers who buckle up, avoid distractions, control their speed and never get behind the wheel while tired improve their chances of getting from Point A to Point B safely.

Remember, though, that other drivers’ actions can affect your safety as much as your own actions can. Texas Mutual encourages employers to teach and enforce these defensive driving behaviors in their workplaces:

  • Keep at least two seconds between you and the car in front of you. Increase your following distance when roads are slick and visibility is poor.
  • Frequently check your rear and side mirrors for approaching cars.
  • Assume vehicles approaching from the opposite direction will not see you or slow down for you to pass cars in front of you.
  • Don’t count on cross traffic slowing down to let you pass.
  • Scan the road at least one half block ahead of you, watching for potential hazards.
  • Control your emotions if someone cuts you off.
  • Give aggressive drivers plenty of space.
  • Stay alert so you can respond quickly and appropriately to other drivers’ unexpected actions.
  • Approach intersections cautiously, never assuming you have the right of way.

Texas Mutual offers free safety materials at worksafetexas.com. The site includes articles on simplifying fleet safety and maintaining your focus behind the wheel. We also invite you to visit our safe driving website, safehandtexas.org, for more information.

Working Outside This Summer? Learn to Recognize and Treat Heat-Related Illness

Summer TemperatureLet’s cut to the chase. It’s summer in Texas, and it’s not just hot; it’s melt-the-paint-off-your-car hot. Walking from your front door to your car is not something you do lightly these days. It takes mental and physical preparation. If you make your living building skyscrapers, digging oil wells or doing other strenuous outdoor work, you should learn to recognize and treat the signs of heat-related illness.

Excess heat can place abnormal stress on your body. Hard work during high heat and humidity can cause heat cramps, heat exhaustion or heat stroke. These are your body’s warning signs that your core temperature is rising. Heat stress can happen suddenly. It can also be dangerous, resulting in organ or brain damage.

Heat cramps

Symptoms:

  • Muscle pain and spasms

Treatment:

  • Drink water
  • Alternate between strenuous and easy jobs

Heat exhaustion

Symptoms:

  • Fatigue
  • Nausea
  • Headache
  • Giddiness
  • Clammy skin
  • Red complexion
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Fainting

Treatment:

  • Move to a cool area
  • Drink water moderately
  • Rest

Heat stroke

Symptoms

  • Hot, dry, red skin
  • Blotchy skin
  • Confusion
  • Convulsions
  • Loss of consciousness

Treatment:

  • Immerse in cool water
  • Place wet cloths on your head and under your arms
  • Seek medical attention

Tips to beat the heat:

  • Drink plenty of water. On very hot days, try to drink a glass of water every hour.
  • Wear loose, lightweight, light-colored clothes. Wear a shirt and a shade-producing hat if possible.
  • Take frequent breaks in the shade.
  • Remember that it takes 7-10 days for your body to get used to heat.
  • Avoid eating hot, heavy meals. Instead, eat cool, light meals.
  • Don’t drink alcohol (even the night before) or caffeinated drinks. They can cause dehydration.
  • Talk to your doctor about possible heat-related reactions from your medications.

Highlights From TDI’s 15th Annual Safety Summit: Part II

Close your eyes and imagine the five people who you would not want to be involved in a tragic accident. Who came to mind? Your spouse? Your kids? Parents and close friends?

What about yourself?

Most of us believe accidents happen to other people, not us. Eric Giguere is living proof that we need to change our paradigm.

Ten years ago, Eric was buried alive on a construction site. Nowadays, he tours the country, pleading with anyone who will listen to avoid making the same mistakes he made.

In May, Eric told his story to a banquet hall full of workplace safety professionals at TDI’s safety summit in Austin. Here are some highlights, in case you missed it.

The Buried Truth Uncovered
Presented by Eric Giguere
Motivational Speaker

  • Taking shortcuts on the job can end tragically.
  • We think serious accidents only happen to other people, but Eric is living proof they can happen to anyone.
  • Your employer is not responsible for your safety; you are.

Communication is crucial. Employers have to make sure employees are comfortable reporting unsafe conditions and doing the job the safe way, even if it slows them down.

Tools for Safety TrainersSafety tools
Presented by Dian Mahaffey
TDI-DWC Program Specialist II

  • After 2 weeks, people remember only 20 percent of what they hear, 30 percent of what they see, and 50 percent of what they see and hear. But they retain up to 90 percent of what they hear, say and do.
  • Identify the ABCD’s of Performance Objectives: Audience (who will be trained?), Behavior (what task will learners perform?), Condition (what will learners be given to perform the task?) and Degree (how well will learners be expected to do the task?).
  • Tell them what you will tell them, tell them, and then tell them what you told them.
  • Set ground rules for the training, and then RAP: make it Real, Active and Participatory.

The Globally Harmonized System and Hazard Communication
Presented by Joann Natarajan
OSHA Austin Area Compliance Assistance Specialist

  • All employees must be trained on new label elements and safety data sheets by December 1, 2013.
  • Major changes include hazard classification, labels (symbols, signal words and hazard statements), safety data sheets, and information and training.
  • GHS includes a new list of chemicals presenting a “physical hazard.”
  • OSHA’s website contains numerous resources on HazCom under “Safety and Health Topics.”

More to come

Employees are more likely to embrace safety when they see management doing the same. In next week’s @TexasMutual blog post, we will provide a few more highlights from this year’s safety summit. Topics will include management commitment, ergonomics and required OSHA training.

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