The 5 keys to a Healthier, Safer, More Productive Workforce

Not all Employers are the same and neither are the results of their risk management efforts. High performing companies follow these 5 key strategies.

  • First is safety intervention, that is, the attempt to prevent injuries from happening at all (measured as Safety Diligence, Ergonomic Solutions, and Safety Training).
  • Second is disability management, the set of strategies to minimize the disability consequences of a given injury or disease arising from the workplace (measured as Disability Case Monitoring and Proactive Return-to-Work Program).
  • Third is health promotion, which represents an attempt to intervene directly with individuals to encourage more healthy lifestyles, in the expectation that this will reduce the likelihood of a workplace accident or disease, or reduce the lost work time resulting from a given injury or disease (measured as Wellness Orientation).
  • Fourth is the general environment of the firm and the orientation of its management in areas measured as People Oriented Culture and Active Safety Leadership.
  • Fifth is the implementation, measurement and adjustment of the first four.

Disability can be managed and those who do it well can expect to be rewarded with lower disability costs, more satisfied workers, higher productivity and, ultimately, higher profits.


Choking and suffocation is the third leading cause of home and community death in the United States.  Foods are responsible for most choking incidents. But for children, objects such as small toys, coins, nuts or marbles can get caught in their throats. Choking can cause a simple coughing fit or something more serious like a complete block in the airway, which can lead to death.Although choking can occur in people of all ages, children under the age of three are particularly vulnerable. Older adults also have an increased risk of choking on food.

Source: National Safety Council

The Business Risk of Healthcare Reform

Health-care reform is a business risk, and regardless of whether you believe it will exist in its current form, be modified, or go away altogether, from a prudency standpoint HR, finance, and senior leadership need to be thinking about it from a scenario-planning perspective. In many companies health care decisions are made in silos driven by benefit agents advising HR. This has more to do with shifting health care costs to employees rather than managing risk. We recommend HR work with finance and senior leadership on a 5 year benefit strategy with wellness initiatives designed to get buy-in at the company’s highest levels. This dovetails nicely with health-care reform.


Changing Face Of Cyber Liability Risks

Due to the changing nature of cyber risk, IT risk managers must upgrade risk management strategies to focus on new areas of concern. In the past, primary attention was given to protecting computer infrastructure from losses caused by lapses of physical security, internet servers, networks, and rogue insiders. Now, attention must be expanded to applications and software used by the organization.

Due to stepped up risk management controls in the areas of improved network security, cyber criminals have turned their attention to less protected vulnerabilities in applications and software. In addition, the purpose of the attacks have morphed from causing embarrassment and denial of service to profiting from the theft of confidential financial and client information.

Cyber Attacks focus on the following areas:

* disrupting infrastructure operations

* posting confidential enterprise information online

* theft of intellectual property

* identity theft

* theft of confidential information

* confiscating or compromising online bank accounts

* spreading viruses on other computers

* malicious insiders seeking revenge

* use of internet launched viruses, malware, trojans, phishing, botnets, other malicious code

A company’s risk analysis should include identification from among the following risks where primary attention should be given to those risks which present the largest loss potential by either their frequency or severity:

* identification of viruses on servers, workstations, and laptops.

* open ports on firewall

* which assets are currently being attacked

* which assets are most likely future targets

* Payment Card Industry (PCI) audit if credit cards are used

* HIPAA and HITECH audit for medical information if applicable

* various state confidentiality and data protection laws

Source: Resources, Winter 2010, Paul W. Burkett, The National Alliance For Insurance Education And Research


Safety at Work is No Accident

Continuous Improvement through Measurement & Benchmarking

The Safety Excellence Model shown below is a framework for applying a safety management system on a continuous basis. It is a process-oriented approach that emphasizes people’s contributions to long-range, permanent solutions for problems. The core requirements for safety excellence are leadership and engagement, safety systems, risk reduction and performance measurement. The benefits of applying this model include alignment of actions with business objectives, more focused effort, and reduced injuries and illness.  Together these steps provide the tools for the Journey to Safety Excellence.


via National Safety Council

Never Ride Unbuckled – Even in the Back Seat

Five High School students were seriously injured when the car they were in went across the median and rolled over. They were headed to girls basketball semifinal but never made it.

Five ambulances were sent to the scene, and all five students were rushed to area hospitals.

The three teens in the back seat were unbuckled and were ejected. The two teens in the front were buckled.

Remember to wear a seatbelt even if you in the back seat. It may not be the law but it can be a life saver.

via 5 Gr. Haven students hurt in I-96 crash | WOOD TV8.

It’s Tornado Season – Be Ready

Tornado’s came early to Michigan yesterday and hit the town of Dexter just west of Ann Arbor. Fortunately there were no serious injuries or death but there were a lot of homes damaged.

Here is a link to a one page checklist from the Red Cross on how to prepare for a tornado. You never know when you or your family could encounter a tornado so be ready.

The Problem With Wellness

The term “wellness” can have a different meaning to different people. I like the following definitions:

1) The quality or state of being healthy in body and mind, as the result of deliberate effort.

2) An approach to healthcare that emphasizes preventing illness and prolonging life, as opposed to emphasizing treating diseases.

Business leaders are interested in how “wellness” will impact their bottom line. Unfortunately many have tried ineffective or poorly executed strategies and are now turned off by the term. I have found that an integrated well executed strategy following the 5 steps of risk management is most effective in delivering results.


Highway Work Zones – Stay Alert


We know highway work zones can be frustrating. We realize life is busy and time is precious. But please understand when you drive dangerously through a highway work zone you’re not just putting the lives of highway workers at risk – you’re risking your own life, and the lives of your passengers. That’s because four out of five people who die in highway work zones are either vehicle drivers or passengers. In 2010 alone, 12 occurred in work zones – including some attributed to dangerous driving, such as following too closely, driver fatigue and improper lane changes.

While driving through a work zone make sure to stay alert and pay attention; speed limits are reduced, lanes may narrow, and workers may be present. Slow down and safely merge as soon as you see the signs; this will allow traffic to flow smoothly. Keep a safe distance on all sides of your vehicles. Minimize all distractions (including the three C’s: Cell phones, CD’s, and Coffee); expect construction delays, allow extra travel time, and if necessary select an alternate route.

Work Zone Safety is everyone’s responsibility.  Please use caution and common sense when driving through highway work zones.

Ways To Cut Workers’ Comp Costs

A study of 5,568 employers in 29 different industries conducted by Michigan State University and the W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research gives some insight regarding injury prevention and loss control.  The study findings, issued in 1993, show that employers with the “best” records (fewest workers’ compensation claims) had these common qualities.

  • Placed great emphasis on safety and prevention practices;
  • Were more inclined to have “open” managerial styles that encourage shared decision making; and
  • Had consciously developed disability prevention and management strategies.

Employers are encouraged to look at their individual operations with a critical eye toward identifying ways to further reduce injuries and illness, thus improving working environments while cutting workers’ compensation claims cost.  Michigan companies that have successfully reduced workers’ compensation costs have offered the following cost-saving suggestions.

  • Set safety goals.
  • Create an employee incentive program.
  • Improve accident reporting and investigating.
  • Make review of injury reports part of the job of top managers (even the very top).
  • Review injury reports promptly.
  • Have front-line supervisors and employees design injury prevention programs.
  • Establish training programs in safe lifting techniques, hand safety and hazard recognition.
  • Purchase appropriate equipment along with making other ergonomic changes.
  • Develop return-to-work programs in which injured employees are allowed to return gradually, from simulated work settings to meaningful transitional or part-time assignments to full-time duty.
  • Write job descriptions that include “physical capability” requirements.

By making an effort to improve the safety of the workplace, companies can reduce their workers’ compensation insurance costs in two ways:

  • They can reduce the dollar value of business losses by limiting the severity of accidents or by eliminating them altogether.
  • They may make the business eligible for schedule rating credits, premium credits and other incentive programs offered by carriers.