Category Archives: Workplace Hazard

IMPROVING THE HEALTH OF YOUR STAFF AND YOUR BOTTOM LINE

Would you like to retain great talent, improve employee productivity, boost company morale, and decrease costs associated with absenteeism, workplace injuries and the rising cost of health care?

If you are like the majority of US companies, you answered yes to all of the above. In fact, some of your most important short and long term initiatives center around one or more of these very topics.  What if we were to tell you that ONE simple action could positively impact ALL of these important company goals and objectives?  We can: Implement an Employee Wellness Program.

Everyone knows that our country is in the middle of an epidemic of sorts:  we are sitting more, moving less, eating processed and unhealthy foods, gaining weight, and being diagnosed with chronic illnesses like diabetes, high cholesterol, heart problems and high blood pressure.  Our obesity levels are rising and the ages that we are seeing the long term effects of unhealthy lifestyles are getting younger and younger.  Some employers might say that it’s none of their business.  But, that is where they are wrong.  It absolutely impacts their businesses and therefore it literally IS their business.

Like most things in life, there is a domino effect to bad choices.  An employee sits at a desk all day in a high stress job and rarely moves.  He eats fast food for lunch and sips on high calorie soft drinks.  He feels sluggish by late afternoon and reaches for a stimulant, be it a high calorie coffee drink, sugar or a cigarette.  He leaves work late, rushes home to figure out dinner, and ends up at a drive thru or ordering a pizza.  He doesn’t take time to exercise, falls asleep watching television and drags himself to bed only to start the whole cycle again in the morning.

Sound familiar?

An employee that lives this lifestyle has increased his chance of developing a number of chronic conditions, which increases his likelihood of missing work due to illness.  Some research even shows that unhealthy employees have a higher occurrence rate of workplace injuries due to poor body awareness, worn joints, and an inability to correctly lift, move, bend or balance.  Unhealthy employees often suffer from sleep issues, which impacts their daily productivity. Poor lifestyle choices also contribute to mental health issues, including depression and a person’s sense of well-being.  All of these choices can lead to an increased number of doctor visits, prescription costs, and the like.  In addition, a company full of employees as described can have a significant negative impact on morale.  The cycle is difficult to stop once it starts.

What can an employer do to encourage healthier employees?  There are many options, but some include:

  • Create an environment where people are encouraged to move by integrating things like stand up desks, stability ball chairs, exercise areas or walking paths. Even motivational signage and scheduled “brain breaks” can be helpful.
  • Provide healthy choices in your vending machines and cafeterias. Be sure lunches, etc. that are brought in have available healthy alternatives.  Offer free water.  Do not build incentives around unhealthy foods or habits.
  • Hire someone to manage a Wellness Program that encourages a healthy lifestyle. Or, if you cannot do that immediately, find out if there is someone already on your staff that is knowledgeable in this area and start small.
  • Consider making your workplace smoke free, and offer programs that encourage smoking cessation.
  • Motivate employees by incenting adherence to healthy lifestyle choices by creating fun contests, programs and initiatives that employees can participate in.
  • Offer free or discounted wellness screening, fitness testing, health club memberships or the like.
  • Model healthy behaviors.

While there will be costs associated with implementing a wellness program, the returns on such an investment can be significant and, in many cases, immeasurable.

An award-winning staffing expert in Southeastern Wisconsin in manufacturing, clerical, professional and light industrial placements, Nissen Staffing Continuum is proud of our commitment to improving the lives of both our clients and associates. As your strategic partner, we’ll help you take your staffing initiatives to the next level, whether it’s onsite programs, direct hire placement, temp-to-hire programs or temporary staffing with our team of recruiters that are supported by a full-time sourcing department.  For more information about how we can help you find great employees, contact us today and allow us to help you with your HR needs so you can focus on your company’s success!

KEEPING YOUR EMPLOYEES AND YOUR BOTTOM LINE SAFE

Can you answer YES to the following questions about workplace safety?

  • Does your company pride itself on keeping your workers safe?
  • Are you committed to implementing safe workplace practices, implementing training and decreasing your workers’ compensation costs?
  • Do you make sure that ALL of your staff, including your contingent staff, are part of your safety programs?

If you are like most companies, you easily answered yes to the first two questions, but hesitated before answering the last question.  You may assume that your staffing partner has provided safety training to the individuals that are working in your facility.  If this is your assumption, you are both right and wrong.

OSHA has stepped up its enforcement associated with the 2013 Temporary Worker Initiative to protect temporary employees from workplace hazards.  Penalties for workplace violations have ranged from $700 up to $60,000 depending on the number and severity of violations identified during the on-site inspection. OSHA has emphasized that temporary workers must receive the same protection as other employees covered under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, and should receive the same safety and hazard recognition training that all permanent employees receive.

As your staffing expert in Southeastern Wisconsin, we can assure you we are committed to providing basic safety training to our employees that we send to your business.  We have discussed things like PPE, lifting guidelines and basic workplace safety guidelines.  But every business is different, and your safety-related practices and protocols that are specific to your business cannot possibly be shared in detail by us as your staffing partner.  While our employees are our responsibility, we share the responsibility for a safe workplace with our clients.

The driving force behind this OSHA initiative was the high number of temporary workers that were severely injured or killed on the job. Moving forward, when OSHA inspects a client facility, the inspectors are directed to determine if temporary workers are being utilized and if they are exposed to workplace hazards. Below are a few excerpts related to the initiative for OSHA from Dr. David Michaels, Assistant Secretary of the United States Department of Labor.

Here are some things to consider to help keep all of your workers safe:

Consideration 1:  Include Your Contingent Workforce in Your Safety Training

Any time your company reviews safety practices, your contingent workers should be included.  If there is a change in your safety protocol, your contingent workers should be included in the training.  Not only is it important for their OWN safety, it is also important to the people working around them.  Dr Michaels commented that

  1. Staffing agencies and their client companies who host temporary workers share the legal obligation to provide workplaces free of recognized hazards. This includes providing required, documented safety training in a language and vocabulary workers can understand.
  2. OSHA inspectors will determine, in every inspection, if every temporary worker on the site has received the safety training and protection required by law for the job. If they haven’t, OSHA will hold their employer accountable.
  3. OSHA expects that documentation is maintained by the EMPLOYER for all safety related issues, including documenting any temporary employees’ workplace injuries on their OSHA 300 log.  It is not the responsibility of the staffing company to record injuries on this log.

Consideration 2: Keep Your Safety Standards the Same for Everyone

According to OSHA, “staffing agencies and host employers are jointly responsible for maintaining a safe work environment for temporary workers.”  This means that what applies to your own employees applies to your contingent employees as well.  Dr. Michaels noted that “common temporary staffing violations that are being identified are: failure to conduct a hazard assessment of the workplace, undocumented training that occurs by the staffing agency and host employer, exposure to chemical hazards, unguarded machinery, and/or lockout/tag out violations.”

Consideration 3:  Spell It Out in a Job Description

Be sure to provide your staffing partner with an adequate job description that correctly outlines job duties, including physical requirements.  Too often, employers do not want to share these job descriptions and end up frustrated when an employee is not able to complete the work.  Job descriptions are vital in making sure that an employee is capable of safely doing the job.  In addition, most staffing firms function under strict workers’ compensation guidelines.  Sometimes, they are not able to fill specific orders and complete specific tasks because their insurance simply will not allow it.

Consideration 4:  Be Open to Feedback

If a temporary worker reports a safety concern to you, listen and act on the report just as you would if it were your own employee.  In addition, report the concern and your response to your contact at the staffing company so they can properly document and follow up with their employee.

Workplace safety is everyone’s obligation.  Our goal, as always, is to provide workforce solutions to our clients and opportunities for our employees that are mutually beneficial and, above all, safe and meaningful.  Dr. Michaels states, “Whether temporary or permanent, all workers always have a right to a safe and healthy workplace.”  We concur.

An award-winning staffing expert in Southeastern Wisconsin in manufacturing, clerical, professional and light industrial placements, Nissen Staffing Continuum is proud of our commitment to safety. As your strategic partner, we’ll help you take your staffing initiatives to the next level, whether it’s onsite programs, direct hire placement, temp-to-hire programs or temporary staffing. Our recruiters are supported by a full-time sourcing department dedicated to finding great employees for our clients. For more information about how we can help you find great employees, contact us today and allow us to help you with your HR needs so you can focus on your company’s success!