National Safety Month 2020: Weeks Three and Four of NSM 2020
Written by: Virginia McCormick, NES, Inc.
The topics for National Safety Month 2020 are Mental Health, Ergonomics, Building a Safety Culture, and Driving.
National Safety Month 2020: NSM 2020, Continued
According to the National Safety Council (NSC), a worker is injured on the job every seven seconds in the United States. NSC, a nonprofit founded in 1913, seeks to eliminate the third-leading cause of death: unintentional and preventable injuries. This week, we continue to explore one of NSC’s most well-known campaigns to implement this mission statement: National Safety Month 2020.
National Safety Month 2020 (NSM 2020) is the continuation of an annual, month-long workplace safety awareness campaign first established by NSC in 1996. According to NSC, National Safety Month, “focuses on saving lives and preventing injuries, from the workplace to anyplace” – an important and prevailing cause, particularly during the present COVID-19 pandemic.
The topics for NSM 2020 are: Mental Health, Ergonomics, Building a Safety Culture, and Driving. Last week, we covered Mental Health and Ergonomics. For this week, we will be continuing our overview of the safety awareness campaign by covering weeks three and four – Building a Safety Culture and Driving.
Missed our coverage of National Safety Month 2019? Last year’s topics – Hazard Recognition, Slips, Trips, and Falls, Fatigue, and Impairment – can still be applied to creating a safer workplace for all. Read our June 2019 blog for more information: National Safety Month 2019.
Week Three: Building a Safety Culture
“Safety culture” can be a nebulous term, encompassing many different ideas and efforts. However, the end goal of safety culture – and week three of NSM 2020 – is to foster a safe workplace through the actions and essential participation of all members of a business.
In a 2018 article for OH&S Magazine, contributing author Jay Smith identified strong safety culture as the beginning of workplace safety. Smith writes that effective leadership is essential when pursuing safety culture, as culture change is complex and often difficult to initiate – especially in the workplace. Essentially, commitments to safety tend not to stick unless the message comes directly from leadership and is consistently reinforced.
A safety culture helps bring about good safety behaviors in the workplace and root out the bad behaviors by using positive reinforcement and teamwork. Maintaining a good safety culture also assists in dealing with potential crisis situations, such as facility fires or the recent COVID-19 pandemic. To help businesses identify and strengthen their leadership practices, NSC has published a list of crisis management tips that help build a sense of safety culture. Some of these tips include:
- Creating a response team with specific areas of responsibility for decision-making
- Understanding organizational risks like company operations and employee demographics
- Developing a two-way communication strategy
- Provide appropriate crisis training to keep safety at the forefront of employees’ minds
Building a safety culture may seem like a daunting task, but it can be made easier when broken down into smaller steps, such as providing clear communication and training to workers.
In 2017, the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) implemented regulations on 15 oil refineries operating within the State that required, among other things, periodic workplace safety culture assessments to, “evaluate whether management is appropriately emphasizing safety over production pressures.” Safety culture simply cannot be ignored, otherwise incidents like the 2012 Chevron refinery fire, which prompted the 2017 Cal/OSHA regulations, may be repeated.
According to National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Director John Howard, businesses looking to protect their workers from the current COVID-19 pandemic should, “adopt a team approach”. Howard also stated that, even though the country has been dealing with the pandemic for over two months, “it’s not too late” to develop a plan.
While businesses begin to reopen amid the COVID-19 pandemic, employers should use this time to start building a strong, collaborative safety culture for their workplaces.
Week Four: Driving
Much like safety culture, the concept of driving safety can encompass many different topics, from preventing farm vehicle backover incidents to work zone traffic safety. Many workers drive or ride in a vehicle as a part of their job or commute, and motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of work-related deaths in the United States.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has developed many publications relating to vehicle driving safety. Because vehicle use is ubiquitous throughout many industries, these resources are plentiful and cover a wide variety of situations.
One of the broader OSHA recommendations is to establish site-specific Driver Safety Programs. Programs must be site-specific, as each worksite is different – with unique hazards, equipment, and staff. An in-depth guide to creating such a program is found in Guidelines for Employers to Reduce Motor Vehicle Crashes – a joint effort by the Network of Employers for Traffic Safety, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and OSHA to reduce motor vehicle-related deaths and injuries in the nation’s workforce.
“Every 12 minutes someone dies in a motor vehicle crash, every 10 seconds an injury occurs and every 5 seconds a crash occurs.” – OSHA Guidelines for Employers to Reduce Motor Vehicle Crashes
NSC has published two tip sheets for week four of NSM 2020. The first publication addresses workplace driving risks, such as impaired and fatigued driving, distracted driving, and dangerous weather conditions. The second publication addresses tips for sharing street safely by obeying speed limits, planning routes to avoid congested areas or road work, and wearing high-visibility clothing when working around vehicles – especially at dusk or night.
NSC also encourages workers to take the NSC Just Drive pledge in support of driving distraction-free.
According to NSC’s Injury Facts, the 2018 mileage death rate per 100 million vehicle miles was down 2.4% from the 2017 rate. Additionally, 2018 saw for the first time in three years that fewer than 40,000 U.S. citizens died from motor-vehicle crashes. Overall, the country’s driving injury and fatality rates have been decreasing; however, NSC warns against complacency when assessing these dropping rates. Week four of NSM 2020 may help employers and their workers maintain this downward trend by properly addressing workplace vehicle hazards.
NSM 2020 runs through the month of June, but the topics touched on this month – like driving safety – are important to observe throughout the year.
NSM 2020 Continued with NSC and NES
Employers and workers can take important steps toward staying safe this month and all year long by using the information above and by downloading and sharing free NSC National Safety Month 2020 safety materials such as posters, tip sheets, and relevant articles. Remember that safety practices and procedures do not stop, even during a pandemic.
To create and foster a safe workspace, an employer-led safety culture is essential. Additionally, employers whose workers utilize motor vehicles are required to keep those workers safe, regardless of whether they engage in long-haul trucking or operate warehouse forklifts. 2020 has put a big spotlight on the American workforce, and employers should strongly consider how to proceed in their operations safely. For many business owners, this means seeking outside help in the form of training or consulting.
NES can help your business or agency with its training or consulting needs to help promote safer workplace environments (view our open enrollment training page by clicking here). For more information about our environmental health & safety training and consulting capabilities, contact NES at 916-353-2360 / 1-800-NES-ADVISE (1-800-637-2384) or firstname.lastname@example.org.