Friday, June 17, 2011

Environmental Regulations and Safety by Judy Kiepke

Workplace Safety
Environmental Studies
PHS 100A
Judy Kiepke
Professor David Terrell Ph. D.
Warner Pacific College
June, 14th. 2011

Safety does not just happen, it comes with a cost. I work for manufacturing industry that believes and teaches safety if number one. Today we have safety meetings, safety training and regulations in every area of our job. WAC 296-800-11005 states employers are responsible to provide a workplace free from recognized hazards (Industries, 210). Sometimes you wonder at what point did they recognized a safety hazard. We all can think of areas where we were exposed to chemical and toxins without being aware of potential dangers in times past. The lead in solder and the cleaners used to clean the circuit boards. I so remember not even being concerned as I stuck my hands in the solvent. This was maybe 20 years ago. Now I am sure today they use gloves. .
We have many long time employees who lost some of their hearing from being exposed to loud noises over the years of working alongside of noisy machinery before regulations were set or followed. Now our company brings the hearing van yearly testing our hearing to record any hearing loss. We have several different ear plug stations and any area that requires earplugs is clearly marked. Who’s responsibility for that in-between time that a hazard is being recognized? Employers are responsible but as employees we need to always be aware of safety and this is what my employer trains employees to do.
I am very thankful to have all the regulations in place to protect me and looking at my responsibility WAC 296-800-1205 states as an employee I am to study and follow all safe practices that apply to their work. Help to eliminate on the job injuries and illness and apply the principles of accident protective equipment as required by my employer (Industries, 210). It is quite interesting to see the many employer and employee responsibilities as recorded with 11 digit numbers. You virtually could spend days looking through the regulations as they are broke down into many different areas of safety (Industries, 210).
Part of safety is awareness, and training. We are now being trained on how to recognize safety and that as we work we need to be aware of hazards. It is being taught to us to think safety. We are to STOP for each other in the DuPont training classes. We are to work safely, watch others work safely and learn how to prevent injuries to ourselves and other. We are to look for conditions and actions that cause or prevent injuries (Pont, 2008). We are given time to learn about safety and prevent incidents and injuries. We are expected to remain committed to working safely. Our STOP training principles are teaching us to take positive actions to develop safety awareness (Pont, 2008).
STOP for each other created by DuPont is a good step between the hazards of today and tomorrow. It is not the only step but is does help to bring about safety awareness. This does come with a cost. The cost of workplace injuries is expensive and increases the cost of doing business. $50,000.00 is the average cost of a back injury, $62,000.00 for slip and fall injuries and $40,000.00 for a Carpal Tunnel or Repetitive Motion Injury. The indirect cost are higher including loss of productivity, re-training, hiring new employees, administrative time, repair and replacement of equipment, etc (CA/OSHA, 2011).
Type of Injury Average Medical Cost Average Indemnity Cost Total Average Cost
Back Injuries $22,324 $26,959 $49,283
Slip & Fall Injuries $24,035 $37,969 $62,004
Carpal Tunnel / Repetitive Motion Injuries $17,696 $22,013 $39,709

The cost for an unsafe workplace can involve many other costs but not limited to higher insurance cost, workman compensation costs and even including legal issues when regulations are not followed and an accident is blamed on this.
I will also tell you that having a safe environment in a manufacturer company also has many cost too. I am not involved with budgets but just looking at what I know to be costs would include but not be limited to the following. The cost of training is not cheap. We have ongoing training all the time. The cost of the STOP training alone would be expensive. Every member of our company of over 500 people was put through this training. Not only are the cost of books and supplies quite expensive but we have the time spent doing this. We spent four hours in class and are expected to take fifteen minutes to a half an hour observing a job or process and filling out STOP cards from what we observe. We are all trained in this procedure. It takes time and then it is keyed into a computer and analyzed.
We are always looking for that new hazard. We are feeling out the accident near miss paperwork. In our company if you want something done you put a safety twist on it and it will be done. It does not get lost on a desk. We have a production manger that believes with everything he says is that “all accidents can be prevented”. If it means slowing down or thinking safely or taking time to do what we have learned we do it. It is not a suggestion but way of working that is supported on our company which includes a cost. They pay for safety equipment. They pay for ergonomic technology. Every job is studied for ergonomic correctness. I remember getting saddle like chairs that took some getting used to. That was a while ago and new technology has come along later. They rotate often and stretch before work and in the middle of the day.
Talking to employees that have problems hearing or injuries to limbs I’m happy to say that though a dedication to safety these types of injuries are very rare unlike 30 years ago. We work in a clean and well regulated safe workplace. Our costs for unsafe actions are minimal. As an employee I am more aware of safety. Knowledge about chemicals, air pollution and what hurts our bodies is always being examined thought science. Regulations help us be aware of safety. Sometimes we may feel over regulated but when being responsible for a large group of people you have to have some rules that make us safe. Sometimes it get time consuming in a busy environment to STOP and do what we are asked but when you think of the benefits to working in a safe environment I am happy to do it. I do not want to come to the end of my working career and not be able to hear my grandkids say simple words or see the sunset that goes over the mountain because I damaged my eyesight in some way. Safety first will help me achieve this.

OSHA. (2011, 06 06). public safety. Retrieved 06 14, 2011, from CA.Gov:
Industries, W. D. (210, 07 01). Safety and Health Core Rules. Retrieved 06 14, 2011, from Labor and Indusries (L&I) Washington State:
Pont, E. D. (2008). Stop For Each Other. Dupont Safety Resources (p. 22). Virginia Beach, VA: Vendor Developed Single - Topic - Classroom Training.

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