A Day Without a Woman

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(image from https://blog.hardhathub.com/hard-hat-hub-celebrates-women-in-construction-wic-week/)

I need to report to work today, so I am taking the opportunity to discuss women in construction and women’s contributions to worker safety and health.

I teach a Construction Safety course as part of a Construction Management program at Dunwoody College of Technology in Minneapolis, MN.

Today, I hope to learn from the class as they learn about some women’s contributions to the field of safety and health and spark some conversation about why a movement like #adaywithoutawoman is important, even in 2017.

Here’s the assignment for class discussion. I’ll break them up into groups and give them time to research and put together a presentation. Please feel free to download this Word document and use in your classroom, board room, or any other forum available to you today. Let me know if you do!

 

What Keeps You Awake?

Most safety professionals are always on. Always thinking safety and analyzing everyday things from a different perspective than the average person. This incident came up on my Google Alerts today, yes, I have an alert set for “construction fatality,” and it’s been pinging me more frequently than usual lately.

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The most recent incident is in Maine involving a worker in a roadway workzone who was struck and killed by a person driving a company vehicle (of a different employer, most likely not related to the workzone).

I do a lot of insurance risk control work, mostly related to workers compensation, auto liability, and general liability. The incident in Maine is the type of situation that I have in mind when evaluating potential insureds’ risk controls for a carrier.

There’s a lot of things that can kill you at a construction site. If that construction site is on a roadway traveled by the general public, vehicles entering your workzone is the top concern. Workers often feel helpless even after setting up a traffic control plan per the rigorous specifications of the authority they are working for. There’s still that unpredictable factor, the driver.

When I evaluate risk controls, the drivers in question are employees. Companies with fleet safety programs are considered more in tune with their exposures and adequately controlling them. But what keeps me awake is not knowing how well the fleet safety program is implemented. It’s an unknown because you can’t be in the passenger seat with every driver of every company vehicle.

Companies with telematics programs in place, beyond GPS tracking of vehicles, are considered the leaders in fleet safety. Telematics provide real-time information about a driver and the vehicle, which is the next best thing to being in the passenger seat. Every safety professional I’ve spoken to who has telematics deployed at their company raves about the ability to track drivers in real time, often with exception notifications making their phone buzz to alert them to excessive speed, heavy braking, or a vehicle in a location it should not be in.

It almost seems like they sleep better.

What keeps you awake? Is there a way you can leverage technology to help? Do you have a success story?

There’s still time to register for the free webinar this week. I’ve partnered with BLR and ProntoForms to discuss their survey related to safety and technology. Let’s take the next step in safety by using real-time data to make real time and lifesaving decisions!

Safety + Tech For Success

I had a great response to my Top 3 Safety Apps post including direct replies from each app mentioned in the post! One of the apps, Haz-Trac even wrote a post about being named in my post, how meta!

I have the opportunity to collaborate on a webinar to discuss BLR’s recent safety and technology survey of 450+ safety professionals. The webinar will be conducted with Mark Scott of ProntoForms  on January 25, 2017, register here, it’s free! The full report of the survey can be downloaded here, which I highly suggest you do, whether or not you can attend the webinar.

In preparation for the webinar, Mark and I discussed the results and did a bit of mutual brain picking as we represent the two industries: safety and technology. Overall, Mark was surprised by the low use of technology, forms, and mobile applications in the industry. As a safety pro, I was NOT surprised! Here’s why:

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“If it’s not documented, it didn’t happen” is ruining our vibe. As most industries move towards greener and paperless solutions, a lot of safety activities still rely on pen and paper. I challenge you to seek out paperless documentation, which leads me to…

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We don’t trust the cloud. Mark pointed out to me how most of us almost require instant gratification and access to information, photos, and people, yet in the workplace, we are settling for a delay in such information. Why shouldn’t we demand instant access to real-time safety information? Wouldn’t it make sense for a plant manager to be able to tap 2-3 times on his cell phone to access her site’s current performance related to key performance indicators?

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We are used to quarterly and annual reporting, weekly or even daily tracking and analysis of data is unheard of. If there’s one lesson that jumped off of the survey results report and slapped me in the face it was this – finding a tool that can help you analyze data and provide relevant information you can use to make adjustments and corrections in real time is invaluable to a safety pro.

I’d like to hear from you! Check out the free webinar next week, ask questions, comment here, or on social media. We’ve got to grow as a profession and leverage the technology available to us to keep our workers safe.

Top 3 Safety Apps

I’m often asked for my recommendations for applications that make the life of a safety pro just a little bit easier. The mobile app landscape is vast and varied, so it is hard to sort the good apps from the bad, or as I asked in 2015, “App or Crap?” And again in part two of App or Crap. Since over a year has passed since these posts, I wanted to make sure to provide an update!

To recap, I suggest using a four-way test when evaluating any application you use, whether for safety or for your personal life.

  1. Is the app reputable, safe, and secure?
  2. Will the app help me to do something that I actually need help with?
  3. Is the app easy to use and intuitive?
  4. Does the app save me time?

Three of the four tests are alternate ways of asking “does it add value?” This is a question I’ve been asking about everything in my life since becoming an avid listener of the Minimalists podcast. I find that answering the value question is especially helpful for the usual time-suckers like social media and mobile apps.

My initial posts on safety apps included some fairly “safe” suggestions:

 

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Here’s my top 3 safety program apps that I personally find useful or that others have found useful and have recommended to me:

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  1. Haz-Trac

I’m loving this app by Hybrid Risk Solutions because it takes a holistic approach to site safety through the use of the mobile application. The easiest way to describe it is a perpetual safety inspection. However, your workers won’t groan at the thought of another safety inspection. Users can take a photo and label it by priority. The cool part is that users are encouraged to look for hazardous conditions as well as positive conditions. Users can also report their peers as safety leaders. The app can be stand-alone or a company can make it live with an incentive element using the information the app tracks.

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2. Safety Reports

This app has been around for awhile and many users find value in the regulatory tie-in. The app has inspection templates based on OSHA, MSHA, and DOT standards. There are multiple pricing models that allow the client to customize their app for the most practical use at their sites.

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3. iAuditor

For many safety pros, this was their gateway to the world of mobile apps! All of the safety pros I know who have used this app preferred to use the free version, so I do not have experience with the customizable paid version.

Do you have a favorite safety app? Let me know in the comments or on twitter @theferrigroup

 

I’m collaborating with BLR & ProntoForms on a free webinar on technology trends and safety on 1/25/2017, register here.

What a WISE Webinar it Was!

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Thank you to all who attended the WISE Webinar today on the Life Cycle of a Safety Career.

We ran past the time limit and so I want to make sure you have the PPT, worksheet, and know that you can contact me with any questions you were not able to ask within the forum.

ASSE 2016 Life Cycle of a Safety Career

WISE Life Cycle Presentation PDF

My “fun” resume example is below – let me know what you think and if you try something like this for your next opportunity!

Abby Ferri Resume

 

OSHA’S I2P2 is here!

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Not R2D2, but this I2P2 may be the program (droid?) we’ve been looking for…

So, it’s not called I2P2, but it sure looks like what I’ve been waiting for OSHA to release for years. California has it’s IIPP, Minnesota has it’s AWAIR, now there’s something for everyone from the federal level.

OSHA’s new guidance for employer safety and health programs includes seven sections that are reminiscent of requirements already set forth by some state plans. Dr. David Michaels unveiled this initiative at the National Safety Council Congress & Expo in Anaheim, CA today and encouraged safety and health professionals to share the campaign.

At first glance, it appears to be a great tool for those evaluating or establishing their safety and health program. A recommended practices guide is available for download and OSHA reminds employers that they do not need an outside consultant to initiate a safety and health program. A multi-pronged approach is recommended that includes do-it-yourself steps and use of OSHA’s Consultation services. That said, if you need me, I’m here for you!

The Core Elements include factors related to management and worker participation; hazard identification, prevention, and control; training; evaluation and improvement of the program; and coordination with other parties including host employers, contractors, and staffing agencies. Each of the seven sections has two to six action items with further information and guidance.

The Actions Items I quickly perused after receiving today’s OSHA Quick Takes newsletter are well-written. They reference OSHA standards, definitions, and best practices. It is a holistic look at OSHA standards, without getting too into the weeds. However, the guidance may be almost too much for an employer who may be starting from scratch. For business owners in that position, I strongly suggest hiring a safety professional, either internal or a consultant, and utilizing your local OSHA office’s Consultation services.

For those established in the safety field, OSHA has provided a new tool called the Crosswalk to Existing OSHA Standards. This document follows the holistic approach and resembles a document many of us have either attempted to create or have wished existed, especially if your work includes General Industry and Construction. As I click around the guidance, there are many “easter eggs” for us veteran safety pros – I’ll post more as I find them!

Bottom line – whether you’re new to safety or an established pro – OSHA has provided something new that you will want to take a look at.

Basic Program Reviews now through winter

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Click the link to get started!

Safety Promotion for Client Retention

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I am preparing for a speaking engagement with local insurance professionals. Typically, I speak to peers, those in risk control, loss control, and related safety functions within the insurance industry. This time, I have the opportunity to pump up the risk control role to insurance professionals who may not fully value or understand what we do.

Maybe I’m biased, but I’ve always considered risk control a selling point and retention tool for insurance carriers and brokers. When I was employed on the other side, as a safety executive for large contractors, I always evaluated my company’s insurance business partners for their risk control capacity. Strong risk control departments were an indicator of the carrier or broker’s overall commitment and capabilities.

I’d like to know why you value risk control services from your insurance carrier and/or broker, or if applicable, what you would like from those business partners. To get you started, here’s some reasons why I found risk control to be an important piece of the business insurance puzzle:

An extension of the safety department

A reliable and professional risk control consultant (RCC) from the insurance carrier or broker was essential when I was a one-person safety department. I clung to resources that the RCC would provide me on their (not often enough) quarterly visits. Back then, I had a file drawer full of CD-Roms with training and program templates that I referred to constantly. I realize this is outdated and has been replaced with online training discounts and risk control “portals” with seemingly endless information, but the point remains – risk control resources are invaluable to those who are asked by their employer to do more with less.

A good RCC will not just bestow such safety treasures on you, their policyholder, however. They will sit down with you, walk you through logging in, and point you to the good stuff. As a good RCC myself, this is something I routinely did at client kickoffs and was told that it was valuable. Having been on the other side, I know that a safety professional is pulled in many directions after the RCC leaves their office. Ensuring important resources are treated as such will ensure your policyholder actually uses the “portal” when you’re not there!

Dear Abby

A good RCC will be available to answer random, usually urgent emails, phone calls, or texts from the insured (within a reasonable time frame) who now looks to them as a trusted advisor.* When I worked with subcontractor trades like electricians, ironworkers, and plumbers, these questions usually started with “the GC is asking me for…” and I was able to advocate on the insured’s behalf.

*If you’ve had any sales training, this “trusted advisor” status is THE holy grail of customer satisfaction and ultimately retention. Here’s a nice read on that status and how to achieve it.

Boots on the Ground

This is especially crucial with heavy industrial, manufacturing, and construction environments. The best RCCs have direct experience in the field the insurance carrier or broker’s policyholders conduct business in. This cannot be faked, only learned and earned. For those without the field experience and currently in an RCC role, cross train and visit as many sites as possible – go with coworkers who are more experienced to see how they approach their clients’ sites. Never stop learning.

This field experience becomes evident when the RCC makes recommendations. Thoughtful, relevant, and practical recommendations will be complied with, because they make sense. If a recommendation is rooted in compliance only, it may not be as well-received by the policyholder.

More on recommendations

A bulk of my presentation to the local insurance group will be about promotion of safety through well-written recommendations and an action plan for follow-through. This is the process by which insureds improve their programs with holistic guidance from their carrier or broker. This process is often an afterthought and is where an RCC can really shine and prove that risk control retains policyholders.

So, what do you think? How does risk control add value? What can be improved?

WTH is up with OSHA?

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I’ve had some phone calls, emails, and texts lately about the status of OSHA standards that are fresh and new, some not so new. So, here’s a rundown of WTH is going on with OSHA’s newest standards, mostly related to my construction friends:

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OK, so this is not “new” since it was published last August! That means it’s enforceable too…There were lawsuits and then there was clarification from OSHA. Nothing was added or taken away from the standard as it was published.

Confined Spaces Litigation Settlement -If you’re in residential construction, this is your best OSHA resource for digesting the standard. This is the 18 page summary and FAQ from OSHA geared towards residential construction confined spaces like attics, basements, and crawlspaces.

OSHA’s Frequently Asked Questions – This is geared towards all employers and follows what your thought process may be as you question what you need to do to comply with the standard.

OSHA’s Confined Space Landing Page – Bookmark this if you have confined space work (yes you, reading this blog post right now), you’ll always know about OSHA’s new and updated materials when you navigate to this site!

Now what? 

Go forth and identify your confined spaces and permit spaces. If you have permit spaces, identify the hazards, controls, and training needs for your personnel.

Know your role(s). Identify where you fit in OSHA’s required communication for permit spaces – Host Employer, Controlling Contractor, and Entry Employer – remember that you may be all of them at once or one at a time, it all boils down to contract language related to your scope of work on a particular site.

Still need help?

I’ve got you covered with downloadable written program and training program templates. I also have tailgate meetings that can be used for such talks or are great for kickoff and preconstruction meetings. If you’re local and download a program, I’ll throw in one hour of onsite consultation. If you’re not local, we can do a phone consultation for an hour.

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OSHA’s Digital Recordkeeping Rule

For the sake of word count, please refer to my previous post on the topic with resourceful links here. The first submission year is next year, 2017, for those on OSHA’s list based on high risk industry (per NAICS code) or if you’ve got more than 250 employees.

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OSHA’s Crystalline Silica rule

So this is the freshest/newest rule, it took effect on June 23, 2016 and construction has one year to comply. If you have not already, bookmark OSHA’s landing page for the topic, it’s got all of the resources you need in one place.

Now what?

As with confined space, go forth and identify your hazards! This should be part of a program you’ve already got in place if you have existing respirable crystalline silica hazards in your workplace – now update your program per the OSHA standard. Pay close attention to the new Table 1 – compare your workers’ tasks to the table. If you’re able to fully and properly implement the controls per Table 1, you’re all set! If not, you may have other obligations per the standard.

If you’ve got respirable crystalline silica exposure, you’ll need to develop a written Exposure Control Plan that includes worker training and may include medical monitoring.

Still need help?

I am working on developing downloadable templates similar to the Construction Confined Space products already on my website. Until that time, if you need some help getting started on your written Exposure Control Plan, let’s talk! Leave a comment or contact me directly at abbyferri@gmail.com or 612-567-9981.

Keep the Conference Alive

I can’t believe a month has passed since ASSE’s Safety 2016! Last week, the deadline for speaking proposals passed for Safety 2017. So naturally, I’m looking ahead to the next conference season.

Personally, I have chosen to focus on local and regional events with the exception of ASSE’s Safety 2017. This past spring turned into an absolute whirlwind, and while I wouldn’t change a thing, I am applying some lessons learned going forward.

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My daughter modeling all of the conference badges and lanyards I earned so far in 2016.

In the spirit of lessons learned, I know how it feels to work day to day for an employer, experience the rush and excitement of a national conference, only to return back to my daily grind. The enthusiasm usually wanes in the first week after returning to work unless I have deliberately set up an action plan. Here’s some thoughts on how you can keep the conference alive – whether it was ASSE’s Safety 2016 last month, an event from earlier this year, or something you’re looking forward to (maybe NSC in Anaheim?)

1. Formulate a plan.

Most large conferences, and even some local or regional events, have an app. As soon as an event I’m attending launches an app, I download it and start navigating it. Do not wait until you’re at the event to download the app! This allows you to plan what sessions you want to attend and which booths you want to stop by. Manage your time, maximize your connections!

2. Take notes.

I don’t care how you take notes, just be prepared. I’m half generation X and half Millennial. I still take written notes in a Moleskine notebook! Depending on the event, I will refer to that notebook each night at my hotel room, crossing off notes as I send emails, bookmark websites, and make connections in other ways.

3. Set your intention.

Your employer is probably footing the bill for your conference attendance – so one of your goals should be to identify resources for your company’s safety program. If you can narrow this focus to specific programs or initiatives you’re working on, even better!

Even though your employer is paying your way, it is still important to identify some personal and career growth goals. List the people and companies you want to connect with while at the event, then make it happen by using the conference app to put yourself in the right places.

4. Download.

When you return to your office, go through the business cards you’ve collected. Send emails right away to get the ball rolling on connections you’ve made. If you promised you’d send a resource, send it!

Take another look at your notes, whether they’re on your tablet or in your notebook – make an action item list. Assign deadlines to hold yourself accountable. If the action items involve other parties, coordinate the necessary meetings, training, and other events.

5. Take it to the next level.

If you attended the conference as a participant, look for the call for speakers and submit a proposal for next year! If that’s too lofty of a goal, identify local or regional events to try your hand at speaking first. If speaking is too much, get involved in putting on the event by volunteering in committees and groups. In ASSE, we have Practice Specialties – get involved in what fits your career path. You don’t have to choose just one.

Do you have any tips to add? Let me know in the comments and let’s work together to keep the conference energy going all year!