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Education key to fewer MSD injuries
Take safety moments, know the cause
Musculoskeletal injuries are a large driver of injuries here," reports Janice Hartgens, UPS's corporate occupational health manager. For this reason, she says, the company's Knee, Back and Shoulder Injury Prevention program gives workers specific ways to prevent these injuries.
This training can be conducted in a designated "safety zone," a space set aside just for safety training, says Hartgens. If an employee reports shoulder soreness, a safety committee member will sit down and explain how to prevent a re-injury, she adds, regardless of how minor or severe the injury.
"Somebody is going to educate that person, so he or she can understand how to prevent that injury from happening again or making the current injury any worse," says Steve Vaughn, UPS's Comprehensive Health and Safety Process manager.
Drivers are given five keys to avoiding slips and falls and eight keys to safe lifting and lowering, says Hartgens. By following these closely, she says, employees can prevent musculoskeletal injuries--both at work and at home.
"It transcends the work area and takes you right into your home," she says. "In your everyday life, you can safely handle whatever load you have to."
Workers are quizzed
During quality training assessments, says Hartgens, non-management employees go out and ask other non-management employees questions on safety. Employees are quizzed on their own blood pressure and cholesterol levels, she adds.
"The employee might not know that their systolic blood pressure should be 120 or less," she says. "This raises awareness, and might make someone seek information." Every committee member is given training in how to do observations and how to give feedback, says Hartgens.
This is helpful whether workers did something right or if they noticed at-risk behaviors, says Vaughn. Each group of 20 committee members has just one management person, and the rest are non-management employees, he adds.
"The management person is there to coach and guide, but our injury reductions are because of the non-management people going out and doing the things they do," says Vaughn.
A moment for safety
Call it continuing education. Before a UPS driver heads off to deliver hundreds of packages on a hot summer day, he or she may hear about the importance of drinking enough water through the day and avoiding caffeinated drinks.
A daily communications meeting is held every day for every single employee in the company, on a safety or health topic. "At least a few minutes a day is dedicated to nothing but safety," Vaughn says.
Every day, safety committee members offer a different safety or wellness tip, such as the danger of using cell phones while driving or home heating safety, he says. If it's snowing outside, for instance, drivers will be instructed to increase their following distance right before they head out, he says.
"Everybody is a captive audience for that time, at the meeting," Hartgens adds. "You are fostering the wellness piece without having to spend a lot of money." UPS employees often add wellness tips to the bottom of their e-mail communications, she adds, or on their voicemail messages.
Each of the 3700 CHSP safety committees has a wellness champion. "Each year they put together a 15-month plan of all the activities they will get accomplished, with the help of the rest of the members of that safety committee," she says.
The planning begins in October of the previous year, so the committee has three months to get prepared, Hartgens notes. Activities are scheduled daily, she says, such as having a member of the local fire department give a presentation on smoke detectors.
What was cause?
If a driver trips and falls, was the true cause of the injury that the driver didn't look where he was going, or was it something else? At UPS, a detailed injury investigation process answers the question in depth. There may have been a roll of fabric lying behind a package cart that should not have been there, says Vaughn, or the floor may have been slippery because the mechanic changed the oil in the truck the previous day and didn't clean up properly.
In either case, says Vaughn, "We're going to let every driver in the facility know that we had an injury or crash, so that it doesn't happen to anyone else," he says.
Employees get a lot of safety information in a group setting, says Hartgens, but "it is all based on things that happened to an individual. We try to keep what happened to that person in our minds."