All posts tagged training

Getting Buy-in from Managers on Workplace Safety Programs

Inspections at commercial transport dock

One of the keys to instituting a good safety program is to get management and supervisor buy-in.

You need their support and belief in the system if you are to convince your employees to embrace your safety regimen. If your managers don’t believe in the safety plans you have put together, it will show through when they try to sell them to your staff.

If you don’t have buy-in from your managers, the chances are slim to none that your employees will embrace the changes you are proposing. Managers play a crucial role in getting employees on board with safety.

If you are serious about preventing injuries and want to keep your workers’ comp X-Mod low, the role of your management team is crucial.

You will often encounter a few different personality types among your managers and they need to be convinced of the importance of workplace safety in different ways.

  • The excuse-makers: They are the ones that blame external factors that are out of their control for safety lapses, and they may pooh-pooh the harm that a high X-Mod has. They may talk the talk on safety, but they don’t walk the walk.
  • Half-hearted bosses: These managers may actually buy into the safety program, but they are unable to show their commitment in ways that make an impression on the rank and file.
  • Committed: These managers are fully committed and enthusiastically embrace your safety plans and discuss them with staff with exuberance.

 

You’ll need a different approach with each personality type to get them to embrace the concept. Once they do, they can effectively convey the urgency and importance of workplace safety to the rank and file.

Constructor Magazine recently had these recommendations for getting management buy-in:

Select the right leaders – Choose managers who are firm, yet fair with a passion for the safety of the workforce. They should have a track record of success so that they can be an inspiration to their teams. Also, they should not be afraid to get their hands dirty to make a point or demonstrate how something is done.

 

Talk about risk management holistically – Every facet of your operation needs to be addressed if you want a comprehensive global risk management culture to exist.

Executives can influence this by extending discussions of risk management beyond the worksite to help managers see the bigger picture of why safety matters.

Assessing the risk associated with every task, purchase order, estimate or piece of equipment used will reinforce the notion that risk management is a company-wide function and not only in the sphere that the manager is responsible for.

 

Make periodic site visits – Top leadership should make a point to get on the floor and visit various departments to watch the workflow and reinforce the importance of safety to the workers. They should make these visits with the manager who has been put in charge of safety for that department.

At the same time, they should not arrive and start nitpicking and being enforcers of safety policy. Instead, their role should be to start conversations with the workers about safety challenges and asking for advice and ideas to make the operation safer.

They can use these visits to also celebrate successes and challenge the team to do better and always look for issues that could lead to injuries.

April Is Distracted Driving Awareness Month: Educate Your Staff

A truck driver texts while behind the wheel

As accidents skyrocket in part due to people using their smartphones while behind the wheel, April has been designated Distracted Driving Awareness Month – a great time for you as an employer to further promote safe driving among your staff.

Hammering home the importance of safe driving can keep your employees from causing serious damage or worse to a third party, and also help keep your insurance costs in check.

That’s especially important now as commercial auto insurance rates are rising due to a combination of factors, including:

  • More traffic – The number of total miles driven has increased 50% faster in California than in the rest of the country since the start of 2015, and more vehicles and mileage equals a higher frequency of accidents.
  • Distracted drivers – 25% of accidents now involve at least one driver talking on a phone, texting or using some smartphone feature.
  • Escalating medical costs – Medical care costs are increasing at a significantly higher rate than other costs, like repairs.
  • More fatalities and other severe accidents – Accident rates per person and per mile of driving are rising.
  • Inexperienced or poor commercial drivers – There is a general shortage of skilled commercial drivers with good driving records.
  • Rising auto repair costs – Record U.S. auto sales mean garages are often servicing newer cars, many of which are equipped with more expensive parts.

 

While you are likely to see an increase in your insurance rates even if you’ve had no accidents, you’ll want to make sure that you continue focusing on safety to reduce the chances of future accidents.

 

Liberty Mutual Insurance Company recommends that employers who have driving employees:

Implement a fleet safety program

This should include:

  • A questionnaire to weed out employees and job applicants with poor driving records,
  • Requiring road tests for new driving employees,
  • Training them in post-crash procedures and reporting,
  • Carrying out continuing driver training and education,
  • A policy on mobile devices by drivers,
  • Having a list of sample safe-driving performance expectations, and
  • Conducting regular vehicle maintenance and inspections.

 

Enforce company policy for use of vehicles

Use standard operating procedures like limiting personal use of company vehicles and monitoring who can use them.

 

Hire qualified drivers

Create a form for each applicant to document their driving history, employer references, medical certificates, and more.

 

Use a company fleet

There are extra risks involved when drivers use personal vehicles on the job.

 

Train your drivers

Some topics you can cover in your safety training include breakdowns, distracted driving, driving under the influence (DUI), the importance of resting when tired, negotiating heavy traffic conditions, and the dangers of speeding.

 

Regularly check driving records

Set a schedule for checking an employee’s driving records to ferret out any deterioration in their experience, particularly if they’ve been cited for a DUI.

 

Review every accident

Your insurer will often be able to supply you with a vehicle accident form for your employees to fill out and follow in case of an accident, including witness names, circumstances, and the other driver’s information, including insurance.

 

You should have contact information for the person in your office that they should contact in case of an accident.

 

Also, urge your drivers to take photos of the accident scene.

Report, Investigate Near Misses to Improve Safety

Man nearly steps on a banana peel on a city street.

One of the most important workplace safety tools that you can put to use is the reporting of near misses and correcting the factors that led to such a close encounter.

A near miss is an event that could have led to a workplace injury, illness or death. While you are not required to report near misses to your insurer, you should be taking note of them as they can help you identify deficiencies in your workplace safety protocols.

You should use near misses as the starting point to conduct inspections that could help you prevent a real workplace injury in the future. But you can’t investigate what you don’t know, and it’s crucial therefore that your staff report such events.

Investigating near misses is part of any successful workplace safety management program and you should make the process for reporting them easy and without ramifications for the reporting employee.

 

What is and isn’t a near miss

An OSHA factsheet defines a near miss – or close call – as an incident in which no property was damaged and no workers were injured, but where, given a slight shift in time or position, damage or injury easily could have occurred.

The factsheet stresses that although near misses cause no immediate harm, they can precede events in which a loss or injury could occur.

You should resist the urge to chalk the near miss up to just luck or bad luck, because a series of events or lack of precautions would have led up to the close call.

Typically, near misses are the result of a faulty process or management system and it should be your goal to investigate and find out where the breakdown occurred and what you can do to improve it.

 

A near-miss program

Near-miss reporting is vitally important to preventing serious, fatal and catastrophic incidents that are less frequent but far more harmful than other incidents.

The National Safety Council recommends that the following should be part of your safety program:

  • Clearly define “near miss.”
  • Establish a reporting system that reinforces the notion that every opportunity to identify and control hazards, reduce risk and prevent harmful incidents must be acted on.
  • Investigate near-miss incidents to identify the root cause and the weaknesses in the system or employee action that resulted in the circumstances that led to the near miss.
  • Use investigation results to address the failure that led to the near miss and to improve safety systems, hazard control and risk reduction.
  • Use the lessons learned and your new protocols in employee safety training.

 

Reporting system

One of the key aspects of a near-miss program is reporting. Most importantly, you want to encourage your workers to report such incidents because often they may occur out of sight from a supervisor or manager.

You should put out clear instructions for all personnel on how to report near misses, including whom to report to. Create forms that detail the events, what happened and why they think it constituted a near miss.

Make sure to not assail any worker reporting a near miss. Encourage your personnel to report near misses without fear of retribution or being blamed.

Avoid thinking in terms of whom to blame when investigating a near miss and instead focus on what precipitated it.

 

Case studies

LESSONS LEARNED – A manufacturer uses event and near-miss analysis to head off future incidents. It uses an event system that records the near miss, including detailed information on what led to the close call and what lessons can be learned from the event. Those lessons are shared throughout the organization.

 

IMMEDIATE ACTION – A chemical manufacturer tracks lower-level claims and near misses to identify areas where more significant injuries are likely to occur. The company encourages employees to take action to resolve issues on a temporary basis until permanent controls can be implemented.

Despite Cyber Threat, Few Firms Train Staff in Security

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Even the most up-to-date firewall and virus protection will not protect you against the biggest threat to your organization’s cyber security – your employees themselves.

Despite this only 45% of companies train their workers in how to prevent breaches, according to a new report released by the Ponemon Institute, even though 55% of organizations surveyed said they believe they had had a security breach caused by a malicious or negligent employee. And, 66% of respondents said employees are the weakest link in their efforts to create a strong security environment.

The report says also even when there is training, there are “critical areas that are often ignored.” According to the report:

  • 49% said training included phishing and social engineering attacks.
  • 36% said training included mobile device security
  • 29% said the course included how to use cloud services securely.
  • 67% said their organizations do not provide incentives to employees for being proactive in protecting sensitive information or reporting potential cyber threats.

 

With the obvious disconnect between employee training and the very real constant threat to any organization with a database, many companies are not doing enough on the personnel side to reduce the threat of cyber attacks, like hacking, malware and other malicious code.

Experian Data Breach Resolution, which sponsored the “Managing Insider Risk through Training & Culture” report, had the following recommendations of what employee training should cover to protect a business from cyber attack.

 

Basic courses should typically cover these topics:

  • Protecting paper documents
  • Securing protected data
  • Password security
  • Privacy laws and regulations
  • Data classification
  • Safe e-mail practices

 

Advanced courses should typically cover these topics:

  • Phishing and social engineering,
  • Responding to a data loss or theft
  • Mobile device security
  • E-mail hygiene.

 

Gamify training to make learning about potential security and privacy threats fun. Interactive games that illustrate threats for employees can make the educational experience enjoyable and the content easier to retain. There are new training technologies that simulate real phishing e-mails and provide simple ways to report potentially fraudulent messages.

Experian also recommends that employers provide incentives to employees for being proactive in protecting sensitive information or reporting potential issues. This could include a cash reward or gift card at a local coffee shop.

Another approach to changing behavior is to have clear consequences for negligent behavior, such as inclusion in the next performance review or a mandatory one-on-one meeting with a superior.

In addition to training, you should send regular messages to employees about security and privacy practices.

If you have had a data breach, you should require your staff to retake cyber security training. A breach provides the opportunity for you to train your staff about the importance of carefully handling sensitive and confidential information.

 

The stuff of cyber nightmares

Negligent and malicious behaviors that keep security professionals up at night:

  • Unleashing malware from an insecure website or mobile device (70%)
  • Violating access rights (60%)
  • Using unapproved mobile devices in the workplace (55%)
  • Using unapproved cloud or mobile apps in the workplace (54%)
  • Accessing company applications from an insecure public network (49%)
  • Succumbing to targeted phishing attacks (47%).

 

Insured protection

While you may have strong firewalls and a solid employee training program, if you do incur a breach, the fallout can cost you. A cyber liability insurance policy can pay for recovery costs, the cost of litigation and fines and notification costs you may incur.

Call us to see if a cyber liability insurance policy is right for your organization. The chances are extremely high that at some point, your systems will be breached.

Pay Extra Attention to Safety for Teen Workers

portrait of a salesgirl working  in  gift box store

Summer is coming and many employers take on additional staff, including teenagers who are new to the workforce.

These new workers need special attention and training in workplace safety as they have no experience on the job. Every year about 70 teenagers die while working in the U.S., while another 100,000 are injured seriously enough to require emergency room treatment.

Keep in mind there’s a lot you can do to prevent injuries to your teen workers, and the measures you take to keep them safe will help protect all employees.

The first thing is that you need to know the law and OSHA workplace safety and health regulations. Check your compliance and make sure teens are not assigned work schedules that violate the law, or given prohibited tasks like operating heavy equipment or using power tools. Make sure they have their work permits if under 18.

Make sure also that your supervisors who give teens their job assignments know the law. Encourage supervisors to set a good example, as they are in the best position to influence teen attitudes and work habits.

Ensure that all jobs and work areas are free of hazards. The law requires you to provide a safe and healthy workplace. Involve every worker in your Injury and Illness Prevention Program.

Train teens to put safety first. Give clear instructions for each task, show them what safety precautions to take and point out possible hazards. Prepare teens for emergencies, accidents, fires and violent situations. Show them escape routes and explain where to go if they need medical treatment.

Your teen employees are the next generation of workers. You will help them develop personal skills that make them more likely to go on to further their education and succeed in life.

As you hire these young people, know that you do make a difference.

Educating them about professional standards, workplace health and safety, rights on the job, and how to communicate effectively will shape the workplaces of the future, as well as keep your business running smoothly.

Protect Your Traveling Employees Through Planning, Training

businessman at airport

If you have employees who travel as part of their job, your business has a duty to safeguard them when on the road.

When on the road both domestically and abroad, accidents and other unforeseen events can occur that can put your employee at risk … from a bush crash in a Madrid to coming down with severe gastrointestinal pains in Mumbai.

Meanwhile, political risk is increasing daily, and so is the threat of terrorism, as evidenced by the spate of incidents in Paris, Brussels and San Bernardino.

The duty of care is on the part of the employer that sends its workers on business trips domestically and overseas. They need to ensure that their employees are prepared, trained and safe for these travel assignments.

You can follow these tips to protect your road warriors, which were outlined in a white paper on the subject by Lisbeth Claus, professor of global human resources at Willamette University’s Atkinson Graduate School of Management in Portland, Oregon:

 

Implement a travel management plan – If you are sending an employee to a new destination, particularly one that may be considered high risk, you should consider giving them a security briefing before they leave. They should be given information on the dangers that they may face in a particular location – from pickpockets and muggings in some large U.S. cities, to kidnapping in South America by a hood masquerading as a taxi driver.

The plan should cover the following areas:

  • Awareness of potential dangers – The employee should be given information on the dangers of the location that he or she is traveling to. Risks vary from location to location, including terrorism or food-borne illnesses.
  • Don’t have a routine – This is especially true in countries where crime and kidnappings are rampant. It’s recommended by security experts that employees on temporary or long-term assignments abroad don’t do the same thing every day. They can take a different route to their work site every day, visit different lunch places and take a taxi one day and a bus another.
  • Don’t draw attention to yourself – Advise your traveling employees to keep a low profile. Don’t wear expensive jewelry or watches or any items with American flags on them. It’s best not to stand out, and they should try to dress like others do in the area to the best extent possible.
  • Stay in touch – You should require that employees traveling in new places check in with a designated company contact on a daily basis, preferably in the morning and upon returning to the hotel in the evening.
  • Think security – There are many simple things a traveling employee can do when on the road to increase their protection, from not straying off main streets at night or in unknown parts of town, to using the deadbolt and swing lock on their hotel doors at all times.

 

Essentially, you need to:

  • Assess risks – Understand dangers at locations where employees will be assigned or will visit most frequently. Analyze how job functions expose workers to risks.
  • Plan – Determine if your organization is meeting its duty-of-care obligations. Create policies and find resources necessary to meet these obligations.
  • Train – Educate employees about travel dangers and how to react to emergencies while abroad.
  • Track – Know where each employee will be at any given time.
  • Assist – Establish a mechanism to communicate with employees at any time and to provide assistance as needed.

 

Insurance

Even if you take precautions, there is still a chance that something can go wrong. That’s why there is kidnapping, ransom and extortion insurance for traveling workers.

You can also purchase a security evacuation and pandemic disease rider to attach to that type of policy.

Other available coverages include:

  • Foreign voluntary workers’ compensation insurance
  • Global medical assistance services

 

Finally, many insurance companies and brokers have also created country and city risk ratings, which are available on line. They are worth a look if you have traveling workers.

 

Workplace Bullying Can Cost Your Company

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WORKPLACE BULLYING poses a major risk to companies that fail to take action against a problem employee who is pushing others around at work.

You can be sued and be facing a hefty damages tab like the $2 million that Microsoft Corp was ordered by a court to pay out after it allowed bully managers and supervisors to create a hostile environment for a salesperson by undermining his work, making false accusations against him, blocking him from promotions, and otherwise marginalizing him.

With so much at stake for your business, you need to put policies in place to reduce the chances of bullying in the workplace, including procedures for reporting, investigating, identifying and responding to bullying – as well as preventing it in the first place.

 

Steps for your business

In order to a have workplace that can prevent it and deal with it f it occurs, you need to have in place a complete anti-bullying policy with reporting and response procedures. Here are the basics from WorkSafe British Columbia:

  • Develop a zero-tolerence policy on bullying.
  • Develop procedures for reporting incidents.
  • Develop procedures for responding to incidents.
  • Develop disciplinary policies.
  • Train your workers and supervisors on the policies.

 

Investigating a complaint

Typically, the best source of information that an employee is being bullied is a co-worker who has witnessed the behavior or been the confidant of the target.

You’ll want to interview everyone who works with the alleged bully and find out as much as you can about any incidents of bullying they may have witnessed or been subject to themselves.

Document everything: Dates, times, places, what was said, what was the exact behaviour, whether physical threats were made, if they touched the worker, and any witnesses.

This may require some patience. Some workers may be afraid to spill the beans, but you should assure them of the confidentiality of the process and that they won’t suffer any repercussions.

 

Respond quickly

When management learns of or witnesses bullying behavior, an immediate response is necessary.

You should prepare in advance the disciplinary procedures you will implement if you have an employee who is harassing others. In addition, supervisors need to be trained in how to identify and address the issue if confronted with a complaint.

Stick to those procedures when disciplining an offender you’ve identified.

The costs to a company that tolerates bullying can be significant: low morale, absenteeism, high turnover, difficulty recruiting and retaining talented staff, or litigation against the company.

Litigation can become a reality if you ignore the signs or complaints of bullying.

And if the bullying appears to target a particular race or gender, disabled individuals or anyone similarly protected by anti-discrimination laws, the legal stakes become even greater.

Five Ideas for Boosting 401(k) Enrollment

While some employees understand the need to set aside money for retirement, many – especially your younger workers – likely do not.

That mindset can perhaps be chalked up to inexperience and immaturity, or that they think they cannot spare the funds.

But you as an employer can help generate more interest in retirement savings through motivation, education and making it relevant to your workers.

As the start of 2016 looms, and with it open 401(k) plan open enrollment, it’s time to start thinking of ways to boost your employee engagement.

 

The website taxbreakll.com has the following recommendations:

  • Conduct fun, simple, engaging training periodically. Investments and financials can be intimidating to employees and, as a result, they can choose to simply avoid the benefit completely.

Work with your 401(k) plan administrator to develop content for 401(k) meetings that simplifies the plan and shows why this benefit is relevant. Have a third party lead the training sessions, so they can create rapport with your staff.

Trust is big when you are talking about employees’ money. One thing, though: too many numbers and statistics will often make your workers’ eyes glaze over.

Keep these meetings simple. Ask that complicated investment questions be asked one-on-one after the meeting.

 

  • Use ongoing, self-learning tools for employees to reference. These videos, usually available from your plan administrator, can be reviewed on their own and during their initial new-hire orientation.

Ensure that these short, simple five- to 10-minute videos answer common questions about 401(k) plans. Show examples for how to enroll, how savings can grow, and how the plan administrator can help them.

 

  • Consider offering auto-enrollment and auto-increase features with your plan. You will want to talk to your plan administrator to see if these options will work for your employees, but since many times people just forget to enroll or aren’t sure where to start, these features can be a great way to increase participation.

Start simple and low with auto-enrollment or auto-increase options. If people feel like the plan is a financial burden, they will opt out. You want deductions to be low enough for them to not miss the money, while still giving them the opportunity to save for long-term needs.

 

  • Your matching helps. Matching contributions for employees can help their money accumulate more rapidly. Doing so also shows your staff that you are concerned about their future. Employer matching can be the influencing factor that causes staff to participate.

 

  • Celebrate retirements. When people retire, celebrate that retirement. This celebration and the subsequent conversations around retirement will help other employees think about their retirement and long-term financial plans.
    Since employees are naturally more receptive to ideas from co-workers, this celebration could be the motivator that causes them to get serious about their 401(k) participation and contributions.

 

Talk to us about the resources available in terms of employee education, possible incentives and activities that would best be targeted to your employees.

The worst thing you can do is just let another year slip by when a number of your employees are too confused or afraid to even consider participating in a 401(k) plan. Instead, give them the gift of knowledge so they can make an informed decision about their future.

401 k nest egg

EEOC Opens up New Discrimination Class: Sexual Orientation

In a step that creates a new protected class, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has ruled that discrimination based on sexual orientation is illegal under federal law.

The ruling is significant since it essentially sets the stage for employers being susceptible to a new class of lawsuits, opening up an additional area of liability.

While discrimination based on sexual orientation is not spelled out in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, it does bar sexual discrimination and the commission ruled that “an allegation of discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is necessarily an allegation of sex discrimination.”’

Employers will have to change their policies and handbooks and train supervisors and managers on the ruling.

Federal courts are not bound to the ruling, but that said, courts frequently defer to federal agencies when they interpret laws that come under their jurisdiction.

The ruling applies to a number of employment areas, including hiring, termination and promotion decisions, and employee working conditions, including claims of workplace harassment.

It would apply to both job applicants and employees, who would be able to file a complaint with the EEOC if they feel their rights have been violated in this regard.

The EEOC justified its interpretation of sexual discrimination to include sexual orientation by writing:

“Discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is premised on sex-based preferences, assumptions, expectations, stereotypes or norms. ‘Sexual orientation’ as a concept cannot be defined or understood without reference to sex.”

Here’s an example of what the EEOC means: When a manager mistreats a gay male employee because he dislikes the fact that his employee dates other men, the manager is taking that worker’s sex into account. Such discrimination is obviously sex-based, and therefore forbidden by Title VII.

The ruling is essentially a roadmap for courts to use when hearing cases of discrimination based on sexual orientation. And the issue is especially salient in light of the recent ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court that laws barring gay and lesbian marriages are illegal.

Twenty-two states currently ban workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation.

And under the new guidelines, all sexual orientation discrimination will be considered illegal, empowering gay private employees to lodge discrimination complaints.

Courts may choose to accept or reject the EEOC’s ruling, but the commission’s rulings are respected by the judiciary, and could tip more courts to rule that sexual orientation discrimination is, indeed, already forbidden in the United States.

 

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