Guest Post

Ten tips to ensure a healthy workplace

Workplace wellness is becoming a very popular conversation among employees and employers alike. Managing preventive pain management in the workplace can do much to save both staff and business owner a great deal of time and money. Once an employee experiences pain, for instance in the lower back, due to sedentary work environment, they must seek medical help, which could include missed time from work, decreased productivity during work hours, and medical claims.

On the opposite side of that coin, preventative pain management works to remedy the time and damage resulting from long hours sitting in one position doing repetitive tasks—for example, typing, factory assembly, etc., which can lead to medical conditions such as carpal tunnel syndrome, neck pain and stiffness, chronic lower back pain, eye strain, and even migraine headaches. Simple preventative measures can be taken by employers who choose to install ergonomic desks, for better lower back support, or implement regular breaks for stretching out sore, inactive muscles during the workday.

Here are 10 ergonomic preventative pain management tips to consider in your workplace:

1. Adjust your desk to the right height for you. If your desk is still too high use an inclined foot rest.

2. Adjust your desk chair as well. Your legs should bend at a precise 90-degree angle when you place your feet flat on the floor.

3. When choosing a desk chair with ergonomics in mind, select a chair with good back support.

4. Arm rests are important chair aspects as well and your arms should bend at the elbow and rest on these also at a 90-degree angle.  

5. Place your monitor directly in front of your face. The top of your monitor should be just below eye level. Check for height by extending your arms directly in front of you. Monitors that are too far away will cause you to lean forward for long periods of time, causing the muscles of your chest, neck, back, and arms to strain and remain out of balance.

6. If you type all day long an ergonomic keyboard will be heaven for sore wrists.

7. Your mouse should fit in the palm of your hand properly. Remember, there is not a one size fits all workers.

8. If your job entails talking on the phone while typing, a headset will eliminate neck and shoulder strain (from balancing the phone between your shoulder and ear while you talk and type).

9. Natural lighting is best so workplaces with lots of windows are healthiest for employees’ eyes. If lighting is dim, ensure workers have adequate lighting by removing any harsh fluorescent lighting with track lighting that is easy on the eyes and install desk lamps where necessary.

10. Take frequent breaks throughout the day to move, get the blood circulation flowing in your body, stretch achy muscles as well as the spine. Take the break to also ensure you’re getting enough hydration, as staying well-hydrated will helps your body to detoxify, lubricates joints, and prevents the discs in your back from compressing too much. Compressed discs can cause lower back ache and headaches.

About The Author

Gina M Casillo is a staff writer for Serenity Living Stores, your choice place to buy an Eames chair. She enjoys writing about home décor—especially when it comes to the spaces she’s most intimate with—decorating the perfect play spaces and bedrooms for her two active twin boys, and decorating the ideal work sanctuary.  Thank you very much, Gina, for sending this very informative article.  As one who has done clerical work for a number of years, there is  much truth to the ten tips you mentioned.


Saturday, April 28th is International Workers Memorial Day.  It is a day when unions around the world campaign for improvements in workplace health and safety.  Started by the Canadian Union of Public Employees in 1984, and adopted by the Canadian Labour Congress the following year, the day has been officially recognized by more than twenty countries, including the USA and the UK.  The Canadian National Day of Mourning is also observed on this day.   The U.N. adopted the day in 1996. 

The following  information comes from r@w news, in Australia.  This day is one to remember workers who died, were injured or fell ill due to unsafe, unhealthy or unsustainable work and workplaces around the world.  The most updated information shows that there are almost 360,000 fatal occupational accidents in any year, and almost 2 million fatal work-related diseases.  Every day, more than 960,000 workers get hurt because of accidents, and on average 5,330 workers die because of work-related diseases.  April 28th should be commemorated for those who have lost their lives or their health at or because of their work; to raise awareness about the risk of disease, injury or death for workers in all sectors and countries; and to engage all workers and unions in a positive action day for dialogue, transformation, and progress on occupational safety. 

We checked out other announcements from countries that also commemorate this day, such as our own country, the United States.  The IAFF is encouraging its affiliates to observe Workers Memorial Day and National Day of Mourning on April 28, remembering those who have suffered and died on the job and to renew the fight for safe workplaces.  In 1989, April 28 was chosen because it is the anniversary of the day OSHA went into effect.  OSHA protects workers by instituting occupational health and safety standards that cultivate safe working environments and remove recognized hazards that may cause death or serious harm to workers.  The theme for the AFL-CIO for this year is “Safe Jobs Save Lives.” 

UNISON Scotland, Scotland’s biggest and liveliest trade union’s theme is “Cuts Cost Lives – Mourn for the Dead, Fight for the Living.  In the United Kingdom, IOSH feels that this  is the most important day of occupational safety and health calendar on the horizon.  They are encouraging persons to send in snapshots of themselves and their co-workers and describe “What does Workers’ Memorial Day Mean toYou?”  The images will then be uploaded to IOSH’s Twitter and Flickr accounts to give people around the world an insight into the real meaning of the Day. 

For your information, here are the countries that observe and promote this day around the world: Argentina, Belgium, Bermuda, Brazil, Canada, Dominican Republic, Greece, Luxembourg, Panama, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Taiwan, U.S.A., Ukraine and the United Kingdom.  In addition to which the Andean Community of countries has adopted this day on behalf of Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, and their associate member Venezuela. 

Whether you are union or non-union, chances are every one of us has known someone who died on the job.  We must do everything possible to encourage employers to make jobs safer for workers around the world.  Pause and be thankful on this day that is set aside to honor those who lost their lives simply doing their job.


It seems there just can’t be enough discussed about the importance of stopping the use of cell phones while driving.  The Fort Worth Star-Telegram recently published an article with this byline: “He survived Iraq but was killed by a distracted driver.”   

Javier Zamora, who served in Iraq as a helicopter door gunner and lived to tell about it, was killed after returning to the United States by a driver fumbling with a cell phone.  He lost his life in 2007 in Southern California, when his car was struck head-on by one driven by a woman who was reaching between the seats for her phone.  This Thursday, his wife, Jennifer Zamora, will relate the family’s story during a Texas Distracted Driving Summit in San Antonio.  Ray LaHood, Transportation Secretary, is scheduled to speak, and experts will talk about scientific studies on distracted driving and what politicians and phone and auto manufacturers are doing to curb it. 

Ms. Zamora, who is a Lockheed Martin air traffic controller at Alliance Airport in Fort Worth, will serve on a panel of survivors who will discuss what it is like to live with the loss of a loved one – caused by a preventable accident.  USAA, a Texas-based military financial services provider, the Department of Transportation, and Shriners Hospitals for Children are presenting the summit.  In addition to LaHood’s appearance and testimony from survivors of crash victims, experts will take part in panel discussions about the latest technologies, corporate policies on mobile devices and public officials’ willingness to forge change. 

For Javier Zamora, it’s too late.  He was a “Mr. Mom” to their three children, and Jennifer’s daughter by a previous marriage.  According to his wife, he was their foundation.  He handled a more domestic role, seeing that the kids ate properly, wore nice clothes and did their schoolwork.  He served his country, yet was taken in his prime by a preventable accident.  

There are still about 54 per cent of motorists that believe that their driving ability is unchanged while they talk on the phone.  Even if one has all the hands-free devices in the world, it remains possible that just concentrating on the conversation takes away from paying attention to the road.   We continue to observe National Distracted Driving Awareness Month throughout this month, and should persist in doing so every day.  The Texas Transportation Department bought radio spots and billboard space for ads with the slogan: “Talk. Text. Crash.” 

Source: Ft. Worth Star-Telegram


Michigan’s recent helmet law repeal has people debating over whether helmet laws are a matter of personal safety or public affairs. Michigan now allows motorcyclists over the age of 21 to ride without a helmet as long as they carry $20,000 worth of additional insurance and have passed a motorcycle safety course within the last two years. Many motorcyclists are excited about this development, as they believe that wearing a helmet comes down to personal safety, and should be their choice. Opponents of the bill say that the repeal will spell out millions of dollars a year in additional healthcare costs, paid by the government and state taxpayers, which could be prevented if all riders wore helmets.

According to statistics, motorcycle helmets reduce the chance of fatality in a crash by 37%. A motorcyclist riding “lid-free” is 40% more likely to suffer from a fatal head injury. Oklahoma is an example of a state that enforces helmet use for riders under a specific age – in this case, anyone under the age of 18.

Currently, twenty nine states have repealed a universal helmet law. A total of 19 states still require all motorcyclists to wear helmets. Another 28 states enforce some motorcyclists to wear helmets, usually requiring it for riders under a specific age, such as Michigan and Oklahoma. Only three states currently have no motorcycle helmet laws in place – New Hampshire, Iowa and Illinois.

After Florida repealed  its motorcycle helmet laws in 2002, it saw a 40% increase in riders admitted to hospitals to treat motorcycle injuries, and the fatality rate rose by 24%. The costs to treat motorcycle injuries, where head wounds were the primary focus, increased by $22 million dollars in the first two and a half years following the repeal. claims that only slightly more than half of all motorcycle crash victims have private health insurance, which means the millions of dollars in annual injury healthcare costs for uninsured riders is paid by the government (aka taxpayer dollars). Michigan’s repealed law requires riders to have personal health insurance, plus additional insurance- though many say it is not enough. The average motorcycle claim paid by the Michigan Catastrophic Claims Association is $418,000 – hardly touched by the additional $20,000 of insurance that Michigan bikers are being required to carry.

Bikers who oppose helmet laws say that such laws infringe on their rights. They argue that personal safety is their own choice and is not a decision that should be made by lawmakers. Some cite that other activities such as alcohol consumption and the use of tobacco cause more deaths and cost the economy much more in healthcare costs, and yet the law does not prohibit the use of these substances because the use of these products is a personal choice.

Some bikers who oppose helmet laws also point out that allowing motorcyclists to ride “lid-free” will encourage tourism to the state, boosting the state economy.
Others still, say that most motorcycle accidents, whether the bikers are wearing helmets or not, are caused by negligence or lack of experience – things a helmet can’t fix.

Whatever side of the fence you are on, one thing is clear – this is a heated topic, and one that will continue to stir debate as more states consider repealing their own helmet laws. But for now, many Michigan motorcyclists are happy to feel the wind in their hair as they ride home, for the first time, without a helmet.

Noble McIntyre is an experienced Oklahoma motorcycle accident attorney and the senior partner and owner of McIntyre Law.  Thank you, Noble, for this very informative article.  It’s hard to understand why anyone would be “hard-headed” enough to take chances by not protecting their head!


April 23-27 is set aside as the week to remind drivers to be aware of the workers who build and repair our highways and bridges.  Those workers must face not only speeding drivers, but the hazards of working around heavy equipment, as well.  From the time you see a flagger, slow down to the speed limit and drive with care.  He/she will be wearing a high viz safety vest, so they are not that hard to spot.  These are state and/or contract workers who have the duty to keep our roads operable, in addition to building new ones, because of the growing demands of more and more traffic.  They want to go home when their shift is complete, just as the rest of us.  Working in all types of weather is another factor that they contend with, just to keep us rolling. 

Each year in April, National Work Zone Awareness Week is held to bring national attention to motorist and worker safety and mobility issues in work zones.  Since 1999, FHWA has worked with the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials and the American Safety Services Association to coordinate and sponsor the event.  Other transportation partners have joined the effort to support NWZAW, over the thirteen years that this observance has been highlighted.  This years’ theme is “Don’t Barrel Through Work Zones! Drive Smart to Arrive Alive!” 

We also want to share this information from OSHA, who renewed an alliance with the Roadway Work Zone Safety and Health Partners to protect workers while working in roadway construction work zones.  The Alliance will concentrate on preventing worker injuries and deaths from construction vehicle runovers and backovers by focusing on increased outreach to non-English-speaking or limited-English-speaking workers.  David Michaels, Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health, said, “most fatalities that occur in road construction work zones involve a worker being struck by a piece of equipment or other vehicle.  This group of concerned Partners will help reach workers and employers with critical education and information to reduce preventable injuries and death.”  

The Alliance will provide fact sheets for paramedics, police officers, truck drivers and other work zone visitors on the proper personal protective equipment and high-visibility apparel to wear, and how to enter and exit a work zone during the day and night.  Additional fact sheets will also be developed for less knowledgeable contractors detailing which traffic control requirements apply, particularly focusing on short-term temporary work zones. 

The Partners comprise a group of construction industry associates committed to protecting the health, safety and rights of workers, and understanding the responsibilities of employers, representing more than 1.2 million members and workers nationwide.  Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees.  OSHA’s role is to ensure these conditions for America’s working men and women by setting and enforcing standards and providing training, education, and assistance.  

When you see the signs indicating that there is Road Work within so many miles, you might also notice that the fine for speeding through these work zones doubles.  So not only are you respecting the safety of the workers, you can keep a little more money in your billfold by being extra cautious!  Drive friendly!


April 23 – 27 is National Playground Safety Week, a time to spread the word about the benefits of safe, free playgrounds.  A long-term study, published in early April, warns that half of American preschool-aged children are not getting enough daily, supervised outdoor play.  The International Play Equipment Manufacturers Association (IPEMA) and other play advocacy and safety organizations are building awareness this week in an effort to improve the health of children and increase activity on playgrounds nationwide.  If regular, physical play begins at a young age, chances are it will continue with regular exercise  through adulthood. 

The National Program for Playground Safety asks families to check their playgrounds for safety hazards and report them to owners or authorities.  National Playground Safety Week is the time to focus on children’s outdoor play environments.  Here’s what you can do:

  • Challenge your school to an injury-free week on the playground.
  • Have a guest speaker to discuss safety on the playground.
  • Check out local playgrounds.
  • Write to the editor of your hometown newspaper commenting on any playground safety issues in your community.
  • With children, have a maximum of five playground rules, ones that they will remember and follow.
  • Playgrounds don’t become safer all by themselves.  People should take action!   

Each year over 200,000 children are injured on America’s playgrounds.  Although some measures have been taken in recognition of this need, the National Program for Playground Safety was created in October, 1995, to help create a safe playground atmosphere.  This week also serves as an opportunity for play advocates, parents, organizations, manufacturers and professionals to band together and spread national awareness of the importance of both play and play safety as necessities for healthy living. 

In conclusion, here are some considerations  from S.A.F.E.:

  • Playground equipment should be properly maintained.
  • The design of playgrounds should be age-appropriate.
  • Fall surfacing under and around playgrounds should be furnished.
  • Always provide proper supervision of children on playgrounds. 

My daily walking route brings me by our local elementary school, and the playground is always full of children, playing games, using the equipment, and having a great time.  I always thought that the squeals of happiness they make during this time resembles the same sounds you’d hear if they were at a carnival.  The difference is that playgrounds are free and probably much safer – so let the kids enjoy them by keeping them safe, 52 weeks per year!  If it’s a public playground, be sure to stay with your child.


Today’s guest writer is Kevin Raposo.  He has sent some very useful information that will help you protect your home and belongings.  Enjoy this article!


Ever wonder what goes through the mind of a burglar? We got the chance to sit down with some burglary professionals and asked them. Here’s what we discovered:

A Tonka Truck left in the yard could invite a burglar to choose your home

Home burglaries may seem random in occurrence, but they actually involve a selection process. A burglar’s selection process is simple. Choose an unoccupied home with the easiest access, the greatest amount of cover, and with the best escape routes possible. Don’t have a burglar alarm? Here’s a list of suggestions that will help you minimize the risk of a home burglary, and also make your home unattractive to potential burglars.

Before picking a home, a burglar will scope out your entire neighborhood to get a better idea of what he’s working with. To do this he will usually walk around with a rake, or even go as far as dressing up as the cable or electric or phone repairman. “I’ll even post a flyer on your door to get a closer look into your home” says burglar professional Cliff T.

Here’s how to make your home less desirable to burglars

  • Tear down the privacy fences—these give a burglar excellent cover from neighbors.
  • Trim your bushes—Any sort of high vegetation, like trees or shrubbery, covering your windows allows a burglar to break them without being detected. Burglars prefer lots of cover.
  • Put away the Tonka Trucks and Strollers—Toys or playground equipment in your yard are signs that kids live there…which usually means a mother lives there…“cha-ching” that means JEWELRY.
  • Create the illusion that you are home. By using timers on lights, radios and TV’s. Making your residence appear occupied, even when no one is home, will deter the bad guys.

Here’s a shocking diary entry from a convicted burglar that gives you a more in depth view into the mind of a burglar, and how he targets a home.

Homeowners should be looking at their home with the eyes of a burglar. In other words, consider the location of the home from various angles. Is the home isolated or surrounded by other homes? Does it provide secluded nooks and dark corners for a burglar to hide in or escape from? Is the house adequately lit or relatively dark? Is there a security system? Burglars will look at these things when identifying potential targets.

Kevin Raposo is a writer for SimpliSafe-Live Safely, and can be contacted at He will be featured in upcoming articles.  Thanks so much, Kevin.  We need to pay attention to his advice.  Do what you can to follow his guidelines.  Another tip is to take pictures of all your appliances, furniture, and other items that may be taken in a robbery, or destroyed in a storm.  This will help your insurance company estimate the value of lost personal property. 


We know that you will enjoy this guest article, written by Rob Loose.  There’s more about Rob at the end of the piece.  Also, we bet you can remember several of the sayings he describes!

Recently I had a conversation with an elderly man at a church gathering where he affectionately referred to his wife as a “dame.”  Dame…  That’s not a word you often hear these days except in old Popeye cartoon re-runs.  Here’s another old saying: My wife’s grandmother described a pain she recently suffered as “hurting like the dickens!”  I’ve heard that expression many times before but on that occasion I wondered what in the world is “dickens” anyway?  Charles Dickens perhaps…  What did that legendary author have to do with pain?  Remember Wally in Leave it to Beaver?  He used to use the word “swell” to describe things as being good.  Doesn’t swell mean the same thing as swollen?  Anyway, I digress.  Though baffling and bazaar as these old sayings may be to us newbies, we can’t ignore the fact that these sayings once held real meaning and were commonly used forms of expressions.  I feel the same way about these old expressions when I speak with my friends in industry that proudly tell me their business has gone (you pick the number) of days without an accident.  Why in Sam Hill (Sam Hill – what is it and where is it?) Is it “swell” to count the days that nobody gets hurt?  Here’s my two cents (thoughts) about that!

The truth is, I get why people brag about nobody getting hurt or not experiencing any accidents for a length of time.  However, this so-called metric is quickly becoming a nostalgic achievement to current-day safety professionals that doesn’t really mean safety is achieved.  Now, when someone tells me their plant has gone 300 days without an accident, I often wonder if I’m just receiving an earful of nonsense and there’s more to the story.

A few years back, I visited a plant where one of my employees was struck by another employee driving a forklift.  The MAU employee was injured badly and I wanted to see the scene of the collision.  To be clear, the pedestrian in this incident was an MAU employee and the person driving the forklift was employed by my client.  As I entered the facility I noticed a sign on the wall boasting 197 safe days.  Didn’t this pedestrian/forklift incident just happen yesterday I wondered to myself?   Are they still counting safe days despite the fact a forklift hit a pedestrian?  I quickly learned they were!  I asked the warehouse manager why they were still counting safe days despite the incident and he literally smiled and said, “Oh yeah, our guy didn’t get hurt.”  To make matters worse, that same manager asked me a few days later to contribute to their safety celebration for achieving 200 safe days.  I didn’t contribute, if you’re wondering. 

There were so many things wrong with this situation but I want to focus on the idea that this plant used safe days as a metric and attached a celebration for achieving them.  All the while, they really didn’t achieve 200 safe days.  Management at this plant chose to ignore a very visible injury that took place under their own roof because their employee didn’t get injured in the incident.  Yet paramedics carried a person out of the facility on a stretcher and drove away in an ambulance.  I wonder how many other incidents occurred in which “their guy” didn’t get hurt or how many near hits/misses they experienced in which they got lucky.  How many people stuck a bloody hand in their pocket to hide their injury because they didn’t want to be the one that prevented the 200-safe-days party?  What kind of a message did their employees receive at the celebration when just four days previous a forklift seriously injured someone in the plant?  I venture (why would you “venture” to say anything? Just say it!) to say some in the room were confused and thought the steak dinner they were served tasted quite processed.  Hogwash (another confusing, old expression meaning who knows what)!

Ever hear the saying that “the road to Hell is paved with good intentions?”  Employer safety metrics and incentive programs are typically designed with good intentions not necessary leading to Hell but, again, an old confusing expression…  OSHA is paying very close attention to employer safety incentive programs and cracking down on employers they catch that still practice them in a way that employees may be encouraged to not report injuries.  Not too long ago I often would see jet skis, bass boats and even automobiles in plant lobbies that enticed employees to not get hurt because after a year without an injury they may be the lucky person to win this big prize in a drawing.  These bass-boat programs get on OSHA’s last nerve (last nerve? I didn’t know nerves were ordered)!  OSHA views this type of scenario as a disincentive to report an injury and possible whistleblower retaliation if injured employees are disqualified from employer safety programs as a result of a workplace accident.  A memorandum written by OSHA Deputy Assistant Secretary, Richard Fairfax, on March 12, 2012 says as much: .  I say that a safety incentive program based entirely on achieving safe days or a certain OSHA injury illness rate falls knee high to a grasshopper (meaning short) and may not properly motivate employees to be safe. 

If you’re reading this and thinking this stuff is all a bunch of hullabaloo (huh?), you may need to rethink your idea of what truly is safety success.  What safety metrics do you pay attention to monthly?  What safety achievement triggers your organization to celebrate?  Are you focused on lagging indicators of safety or what happened that you no longer control or are you focused on leading indicators or things you do that create/control safety?  If you’re more focused on lagging, consider revising your program to reward employees for completing safety audits or participating in safety activities or for coming up with an idea that makes everyone safer.  I bet you dollars to donuts (strange expression but I do like donuts) a revision to your metrics/incentive program toward leading indicators will make a big difference.  It’ll be a real dandy (what’s a dandy – dandy lion is a weed?)!  So what are you waiting for?   Get a move on and shake a leg (hurry up)!  Make safety happen and focus on leading indicators of safety.  Its 2012, time to get the right program that really encourages safety.    

Good luck and remember: never kiss a gift horse in the mouth!  Whatever that means??? 

  About the Author, Rob Loose, MAU Workforce Solutions Safety Manager:Safety Professional with Manufacturing, HR and Health Care management experience, Rob has worked for MAU since 2006 supporting both HR and operations functions. A 1998 graduate of Brigham Young University in Provo, UT, Rob now calls North Augusta, SC home where he lives with his wife, two kids and dog.  He is proud to work for a company that values the health and safety of clients and employees alike.

      To put in my two cents’ worth, that was a very refreshing wake up article about safety incentives.  Thank you, Rob.  One of my past employers would reward their employees with a pizza party each month, if there were no lost-time  accidents.  Yet, some people didn’t want to bring attention to an injury they may have received because they didn’t want to knock the others out of the pizza party.  Forget about small rewards – Remember, when you gamble with safety, “you bet your life!”  (Anyone remember Groucho Marx?)


Offshore Rig Safety – Joint Post

Pat Brownlee writes for  Texas America Safety Company, (Blog4Safety), and David Beastall writes on behalf of Acre Resources,  who recruit for health and safety jobs.

Offshore drilling provides 24 percent of U.S. oil and 25 per cent of U.S. gas supply, but not without inherent occupational risks.

Personnel who work on offshore rigs normally work two weeks on and two weeks off. Their mode of transportation to and from platforms is usually by helicopter, unless situated close enough they can travel by vessel. As a result every employee must be trained on how to be deployed to and from helicopters.

The Gulf of Mexico has a constant flow of helicopter traffic, and the weather over the Gulf varies from fog to strong winds, thunderstorms, and hurricanes. In the United States, personnel safety for offshore drilling requires proper training in compliance with OSHA and American Petroleum Institute Standards.

The Health and Safety Executive in the UK recorded a fall in unintended oil and gas leaks in 2011 with the trend still present leading into the first quarter of 2012. However the HSE findings were that there are still further steps that need to be taken in order to reduce the risk of unnatural environmental disasters and occupational health and safety risks for drilling crews and energy professionals out in the field.

The number of leaks from hydrocarbons is seen as an important KPI and indication of how successful the offshore industries around the world are at managing major risks. Accidents and loss of life show a strong correlation to unintended sea oil and gas leaks.

So how is the offshore energy industry tackling health and safety responsibilities?

Rig specialists in safety are usually required to have a bachelor’s or associate degree in occupational health or public safety. These safety officers or advisors are responsible for emergency planning and implementation, conducting safety audits, and seeing that any safety-related problems are corrected. Offshore rig workers have a different kind of safety culture, as they not only must contend with the hazards of a land-based drilling rig, but the responsibilities that accompany working in a marine environment, and the costs of mistakes that might be made. They must be prepared on what to do in case of a fire or blow-out or other incident.

Demand for health and safety professionals who can provide foresight, analysis and manage the risks heavily involved and associated with high risk occupations and jobs are shown to be increasing demand. This is in part because natural carbon resource and energy suppliers are keen to avoid the potential fallout rather than investing in post disaster management. Such incidents that result in the loss of billions of dollars to put things back on the right track are often later revealed to have been avoidable in the first place were health and safety not ignored or corners cut in an attempt to squeeze down costs.

The last line of defense when something goes wrong on any job, is personal protective equipment, (PPE). Employers are responsible for training workers on how to use their safety gear and enforce the use of these pieces of equipment, which include hardhats, goggles or safety glasses, safety shoes, flotation devices, fire-retardant coveralls, and more.  The PPE any man or woman wears can be the difference between sustaining a minor injury to receiving a permanent disability. The protection it provides is limited, but the use of PPE is crucial.

Ensuring workers are comprehensively trained in how to use the personal protective equipment and potentially lifesaving resources available to them however can make a huge difference when the unexpected happens.

Nearly a year on from the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, the attitudes and corporate culture surrounding the offshore energy industry are now seen to be changing, partly in response to some of the worst man-made environmental disasters experienced within the industry. The Deep Water Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico involved BP and one of their leased deep sea drilling rigs located within close proximity to the United States. When this exploded, 11 men were killed and many others sustained serious injury in the process alongside the consequences and environmental damage still being felt to this day.


Yesterday we talked about the efforts to end distracted driving, especially the use of cell phones, both talking and texting, which adds to the distractions that drivers already face.  New cars have such technological screens that drivers can access just about anything.  This would compound the problem of focusing on the road, not social media, or other diversions.  Commercial and public transportation vehicles are at risk, as well as personal and recreational drivers.  In 2007, 413,000 large trucks were involved in traffic crashes in the U.S. and 4,584 were involved in crashes that were fatal, killing a total of 4,808 people.  Of those killed in crashes involving commercial motor vehicles, 75 per cent were occupants of other vehicles.  

Although a company may not be directly liable for its employees’ actions, employers may be held vicariously liable for dangerous behavior and negligent actions of their employees while conducting company business.  Today’s Employers’ Vicarious Liability litigation is often aimed at employers who fail to prohibit their employees from using distracting devices for business purposes, such as cell phones, while driving.  Juries usually react unfavorably to employers whose employee drivers were found guilty of causing an accident while using a cellular device.  The most viable measure that we as a society can explore is an attempt to educate new drivers on the dangers of driving while distracted.  

Mitigating driving distractions in this country is very difficult, but mitigating a company’s exposure to vicarious liability is often manageable under the guidance and knowledge of the right insurance professionals.  They are able to work with the company to develop an appropriate policy regarding cell phones.  This policy won’t necessarily absolve an employer from any and all liability, but there’s no doubt that the employer with a policy in place will be in a better position legally than an employer who does not.  This helps the court recognize that the employer discussed with employees the importance of this issue. 

Twenty-one states in the U.S. have passed laws that ban texting and emailing while driving.  Others have banned talking on a cell phone altogether unless a hands-free device is used. (This has been proved to be no safer than hand-held ones.)  Federal employees are banned from typing on a mobile phone while driving.  It is interesting that other countries around the world have long prohibited the use of cell phones while driving, such as Great Britain, who made it a criminal offense to use a cell phone while driving in 2003, and Japan outlawed use of a cell phone while driving in 2002.  Japan even made it punishable by up to three months imprisonment.)  Statewide, there have been proposed over 200 new bills to combat distracted driving in the U.S. 

Under the legal theory of respondeat superior, referred to as vicarious responsibility, an employer is liable for the actions of an employee if the employee was acting within the scope of his or her employment at the time of the accident.  Thus, if an employee causes injury through negligent conduct, during employment, the victim is entitled to sue the employer directly for damages.  If an employee operates a vehicle negligently as a result of using a cell phone and injures another motorist or pedestrian, that victim may sue the employer directly.  Because detailed cell phone records are accessible, evidence of cell phone use at the time of the accident is fodder for plaintiffs’ attorneys. 

There are many things that companies can do to avoid litigation, such as the use of software that helps manage their risk of their employees’ negligent driving.  One such maker of software, ZoomSafer, has designed software that is easily installed on an employee’s smart phone to help prevent distracted driving.  It is activated manually by the employee at the time he/she begins to drive.  It can also activate itself by using GPS signals to automatically detect when the employee is driving.  It also manages inbound calls, texts and emails according to preference and can automatically notify others when the owner of the cell phone is driving.  (It’s like having your own personal secretary!)  

Also, this product allows each employer to manage the controls on an individual device level.  Rather than depending on individual employee’s compliance with the company’s cell phone policy, this enables the employer to directly manage an employee’s ability to access a cell phone while driving.  Software such as this helps companies’ safety and risk management by providing a cost-effective tool that enforces their paper-based safe driving policies.  In the event of an employee-caused car accident, this extra layer of control can be critical in insulating an employer from vicarious liability. 

Any manner that can protect drivers, passengers, pedestrians, and even animals from being injured or killed by distracted drivers is worth pursuing.  Ray LaHood, U.S. Secretary of Transportation, recently declared,  “distracted driving has gone from a dangerous practice to a deadly epidemic.”


Source: ZoomSafer