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Safety Focus

Vol. 10, Issue 2 - Fall 2017

Safety Focus

Vol. 10, Issue 2 - Fall 2017

What is a return-to-work program?

By: Mike Huss, Loss Control Consultant

A return-to-work (RTW) program is part of a business strategy to retain valued employees and to enhance the productivity of the workforce. There are various definitions of RTW programs, but generally they are designed to return an injured, disabled, or temporarily impaired worker to the workplace as soon as medically feasible. The anticipated result of a RTW program is the progressive return of the injured employee to full duty. RTW programs are historically associated with returning employees from occupational injuries, but many companies are now integrating RTW programs for non-occupational injuries into their overall disability management strategy. RTW programs in smaller businesses are typically managed “in-house” while the trend for larger businesses is for third party vendors to assist in managing the process.

A RTW program may include temporary or permanent accommodations such as; modified work schedule, modified job duties, modified method for completing job duties, or transitional work, or reassignment to an alternate position. 

Why should employers consider RTW programs?
RTW programs aim to accomplish three important business goals: 1) reduce disability leave costs, 2) maintain productivity of employees and work units, and 3) comply with disability-related legislation.  RTW programs reduce costs by minimizing the impact of an employee’s injury or disability, including the cost of lost productivity time, permanent loss of an employee, and the use of disability related leave benefits. RTW programs may also reduce the cost associated with recruiting, on-boarding, and training a new employee. 

For information about this or any of Markel Specialty’s loss control services, please call 888-500-3344 or email at losscontrol@markelcorp.com

Source:  Job Accommodation Network

Construction site safety

By: Mike Huss, Loss Control Consultant

Not only do construction site managers need to ensure that their employees are working safely, but they also have a responsibility for the safety of visitors and the general public to the many hazards typically associated with a construction site.  Construction site safety practices for visitors should include, but are not limited to:

  • Perimeter security fencing and warning signs – this would include utilizing and maintaining a fence or barricade, limiting entrance points, posting appropriate warning signs, and coordinating with law enforcement as necessary.
  • Limiting job-site visitors to authorized persons only - direct all visitors to the job trailer and have visitors validate their purpose at the site, provide and/or require proper personal protective equipment, maintain a controlled entry log for arrival and departure of pedestrians and vehicles, designate delivery areas and require delivery personnel to follow established safety practices, and escort visitors at all times.
  • Equipment and machinery - ensure all equipment and machinery is properly assembled, secured and is in good operating condition, have a competent person regularly complete inspections for hazardous conditions.
  • Implementing hazard communication standards - limit the use of flammable liquids and gasses, use non-toxic materials when available, store hazardous items in a protected area, post warnings and enforce them.
  • Implement slip and fall protection standards - barricade and place cones or other devices using local codes or standards, close and/or cover all excavations promptly if possible, manage incoming material flow, maintain good housekeeping practices at all times, and manage debris staging and removal.

Source: Health and Safety Executive 

For information about this or any of Markel Specialty’s loss control services, please call 888-500-3344 or email at losscontrol@markelcorp.com

Safety news

By: Kim Coonrod, Director, Loss Control

Form for electronically submitting injury, illness data available Aug. 1
On Aug. 1, OSHA launched a web-based form that will allow employers to electronically submit required injury and illness data from their completed 2016 OSHA Form 300A. The webpage will offer three options for submitting data, and includes information on reporting requirements, a list of frequently asked questions, and a link to request assistance with completing the form.

OSHA published a notice of proposed rule-making last month to extend the deadline for electronically submitting the data to Dec. 1, 2017. The proposed extension gives those affected sufficient time to familiarize themselves with the electronic reporting system, and provides the new administration an opportunity to review the new electronic reporting requirements prior to their implementation. For more information, read the news release.

New guide will help small businesses comply with OSHA's silica rule for general industry and maritime
OSHA has released a Small Entity Compliance Guide for General Industry and Maritime to help small business employers comply with the agency's Final Rule to Protect Workers from Exposure to Respirable Crystalline Silica. The guide describes the steps that employers are required to take to protect employees in general industry and maritime from the hazards associated with silica exposure. These requirements include: assessing worker exposures; using engineering and work practice controls to keep exposures below a specified safety threshold; and offering medical exams to certain highly exposed workers. Enforcement of the final rule in general industry and maritime is scheduled to begin June 23, 2018.

OSHA has resources to help protect workers from summer weather hazards
OSHA provides resources for workplace preparedness and response to severe weather emergencies that can arise during summer, including: hurricanes, wildfires and floods as well as severe heat. OSHA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration encourage employers to be aware of weather forecasts, train workers on severe weather plans and keep emergency supplies, including a battery-operated weather radio.

Safety resources available to Spanish-speaking workers
Washington –NIOSH has produced “Protect Yourself at Work” resources – including four booklets/brochures, five videos and two posters to help educate Spanish-speaking workers about occupational safety.  The print materials have illustrations, and the videos feature workers or actors telling personal stories about work injuries.

The resources are intended to inform the workers about their work rights, potential hazards and where to seek help to prevent or reduce risks.

Safety calendar

September – National Preparedness Month

October – National Crime Prevention Month

November – American Diabetes Month


Lessons from losses

By: Courtney Rosengartner, Sr. Loss Control Specialist

A plumber was seriously injured while transporting a hot water heater from his work truck. He was attempting to move it without assistance when his arm was caught between the hot and cold spouts. When the piece of equipment was falling from his grasp, he attempted to catch it, resulting in a forearm contusion and a severe shoulder injury. Due to the extent of his injuries, he missed a few months of work and endured surgery to his shoulder. His recovery required several weeks of physical therapy. He continued to experience pain with strict lifting limitations despite invasive surgery and prolonged therapy.

Hurry up can hurt! It is necessary to think about each task at hand and determine the safest way to complete it, not the quickest. Lifting a hot water heater without assistance is never a good idea. A typical hot water heater weighs around 150 pounds empty. Team lifting or mechanical means, such as a dolly, is the best way to complete this task. Not only are hot water heaters heavy, they are awkward, have inadequate handholds and have levers that can cause lacerations. A good rule when lifting unassisted is to keep it under 50 pounds if the individual is able. Anything above 50 pounds should require assistance. It is also a great idea to train employees on proper lifting techniques on a regular basis.


Ergonomics – Solutions to Control Hazards (OSHA)

Ergonomic Guidelines for Manual Material Handling (CDC)






Insurance products and services are offered through Markel Specialty Commercial, a business division of Markel Service Incorporated, policies written by one or more Markel insurance companies. Terms and conditions for coverage may vary by state.

The information provided in this article is intended for general informational purposes only and should not be considered as all encompassing, or suitable for all situations, conditions, and environments. Please contact us or your attorney if you have any questions.