Wendy Rosati - Just the FAQ’s Podcast
What if a company has a safety program already in place, but it's not making a real impact? Companies that may be looking to develop or strengthen their existing program and efforts, not starting from scratch. How do you approach that scenario?
Well, we love getting this question. Our team is happy to work with our policyholders to review programs currently in place, and then collaboratively develop a plan to address areas that are not only targeting injury trends, but also improving employee engagement. The most effective programs our team sees don't stop with safety policies, controlling hazards, training, and regulatory compliance. They also incorporate the people part into the equation. For example, understanding the causal factors that may be driving unsafe behaviors or what may be causing a lack of interest or involvement in safety committees or other initiatives. In addition to onsite support, our team has developed an online library of safety and wellness resources on a web-based platform that we call Base Camp. Resources are sorted by topic and industry and we routinely update content--let us help to reduce the time and frustration researching what you need. Let us do the work. If not already registered, please contact us and we'll get you started. And just to wrap it up, our customers really don't need to go it alone. Our team is always available to assist regardless of whatever phase you're in in safety and wellness program development.
So, we've talked a little bit about what to do as proactive measures, but I imagine you get a lot of calls after a workplace accident as well. When a company begins to see a number of the same injuries over and over--let's say a company has had an employee injury. What should they do?
Yeah, this is one of the most common questions that we get out in the field. And our answer is very simple: report the injury even if you're not sure if it's a workers' comp case and regardless of the severity, report, the claim. Why? First and foremost, it gets an employee proper medical treatment right from the start. We advise policyholders to also let our adjusters review the claim and make the determination of whether or not it's compensable because it's their job and they do it exceptionally well. Prompt reporting is the first critical step in getting claim costs under control. As for injury prevention and worksite wellness, our team gets involved to look at the why and from there we provide guidance and recommendations to prevent the injury from happening again.
Okay and are you able to show policyholders that this works?
Absolutely. Time and again, we've assisted our customers struggling with claim trends or one major claim and help to get them back on track. We provide metrics, assist with injury investigations to determine root cause factors, make recommendations and show results. An example that jumps immediately to mind, I was working with a policyholder in the social service industry. They have an outreach program where their employees are performing cleanup tasks within the town. We received a serious claim where the employee unfortunately sustained second and third degree burns on his legs and feet as a result of getting splashed with the chemical. Yeah, it was really bad. So partnering with our claims adjuster, we immediately arranged a meeting with the management team. I requested a copy of the safety data sheet for the chemical used and probably no surprise, but it turns out the product was highly corrosive, flammable and toxic --really as nasty as it gets.
The injured employee was only wearing sneakers and coveralls at the time, which compounded the problem. It was absolutely no match for this chemical. Rather than focus on determining the appropriate PPE or personal protective equipment I advised them to immediately stop use and remove the product. I then researched two safe and enviro friendly substitutes for our customer to trial. All four tested and thankfully one performed really well. I then worked with the program director to develop a policy so that they could notify their purchasing team that the safe alternative was absolutely the only authorized chemical to order for this purpose. I also participated in a safety meeting where we explained what happened, how the hazard was addressed and how to safely use the new product. We also reviewed their chemical inventory just to ensure that employees were trained on safe usage and PPE requirements. Since then, I'm happy to report that the employee recovered pretty quickly and is healthy and back to work. And since then we've seen no injury recurrences and it's been a couple of years.
So I mean, I guess in this day and age, I feel like we are all just so much more aware of the importance of safety and wellness education and creating a safe workplace. What are some of the best resources that you know of for employers to rely on?
Yeah, it really depends on the situation. For all areas of injury prevention and wellness we have most of the topics covered. For print and online material we offer the Base Camp library that I had mentioned earlier. We also have safety mobile apps, vendor partner referrals for common safety needs, articles by our subject matter experts and podcasts accessible on our company website. There's really several avenues. We ask that our customers just give us a call. We can offer assistance with any specific questions on an industry by industry basis.
Sure thing. Generally speaking, record keeping sounds pretty straightforward, but there are specific criteria and steps involved in determining whether a workplace injury or illness actually meets OSHA's definition of a recordable case. OSHA has a record keeping webpage which includes everything you need--training tutorials, record keeping forms along with step-by-step guidance in determining whether an injury or illness meets OSHA's criteria, recordable criteria. They've also recently included specific guidance in determining recordability of COVID-19 cases. So the short story is you may not automatically have to record every COVID case that you have. OSHA has outlined three very specific criteria. They just recently again posted them on their website. So I would absolutely recommend going through the process of seeing if all three are applicable and then you can make that determination. Because of the nature of the fluid nature of the pandemic it is highly recommend that our policyholders not only become familiar with the webpage, but also periodically check it for updates with what's going on right now. Also our policyholders can contact us at any time and we can help provide guidance.
Can you talk a little bit more about OSHA and how to record injuries and submit record information and are there any reporting requirements related to the COVID-19 pandemic?
I definitely understand you get a lot of questions on best practices beyond the one that I just forced you to answer, but are there some misconceptions out there that you've seen?
Yeah. Staying on topic with record keeping--what we find is employers sometimes confuse record keeping and claim reporting requirements. They sound the same, but are a very different set of requirements. So for this reason, I recommend that our customers keep OSHA record keeping files separate from worker's comp claim files. If you have record keeping responsibilities, what you may want to do is create a binder, print all the resources forms, and tools that are on OSHA's recordkeeping webpage, and just keep it handy as a quick reference tool.
Are there any OSHA requirements that you know employers may not be aware of but should be?
Two come to mind that often surprise policyholders when we talk about them. One: OSHA must be directly notified of any work-related fatality within eight hours of occurrence. For any inpatient hospitalizations, amputations, or eye loss that occurs, employers are required to notify OSHA of those events within 24 hours of learning about them. The second is employers are required to post their 300 days summary forms each year in a conspicuous location between February 1st and April 30th annually. So, conspicuous location--that is anywhere in your facility where there is a lot of employee foot traffic: lunchrooms, common areas--that's where we typically see the postings. Also keep in mind that if you have multiple locations, you need to ensure those postings go in all your locations.
Okay. And are those postings things that you have on your website?
Those are actually the 300A forms are right on OSHA's recordkeeping webpage, and those you would be filling out and posting.
Okay, great. Well, this is a wealth of information and thank you so much for your insight on all of this and thank you to our listeners for spending this time with us. We have a lot of links and resources about what has been discussed here on our site and in the Base Camp library. So please feel free to reach out with any thoughts or questions that you might have and be sure to tune in for our next topic. Thanks again, Wendy.
Are there any OSHA requirements that you know employers may not be aware of but should be?