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Photo by Gorkaazk via Wikimedia Commons

Photo by Gorkaazk via Wikimedia Commons

Last year, there were more than 40,000 people killed as a result of motor vehicle accidents, according to the National Safety Council. While drunk driving remains the biggest killer of drivers, distracted driving quickly gaining momentum as one of the leading causes for injuries and death related to vehicle accidents.

Every company is affected by vehicle accidents. Millions of people drive as part of their jobs. But an even larger number of employees drive to and from their workplaces.

Vehicle Accident Costs

Every year, companies spend millions on training their drivers to operate their vehicle safely. But most spend next to nothing on workers whose jobs don’t involve driving. But if they are involved in an accident while they are not at work, it can still cost companies money. in terms of lost productivity, higher health insurance premiums, or the cost of hiring and retraining replacements.

Off-the-job crashes account for about 80% of employer crash-related expenses. And half of crash-related injuries cause employees to miss work. In fact, the average cost of a vehicle crash was more than $1 million per fatality and more than $78,000 per non-fatal disabling injury.

Employer costs include lost productivity, decreases in employee health and well-being, and increased health insurance premiums.

Reducing Risks

Yet there are steps companies can take right now to reduce their risk of vehicle accidents for both their employees who drive for the business and those who drive outside of work:

  • Risk Assessment — Identify the risks workers face while driving then take action to address those risks, including implementing measures to track progress.
  • Defensive Driving Courses — Offer specific training in defensive driving to reduce the risk your driver face everyday.
  • Address Addiction — Offer programs for workers who struggle with alcohol, prescription drug, or illegal drug problems.
  • Restrict Smartphone Use — Create a company-wide policy banning the use of smartphones while driving.
  • Seat Belt Use — Require all employees to wear seat belts anytime they are in a vehicle, whether it is their own or company-owned.
  • Get Expert Help — The National Safety Council can assess your business’s road safety systems and help you to design an implement a more effective, results-driven program company-wide.
  • Journey to Safety Excellence — The NSC also offers a program that boosts safety in the workplace. You can sign up for the Journey to Safety Excellence program here.

Vehicle accidents are inevitable. But you can reduce the number and severity of vehicle accidents involving your employees both on and off the job by implementing these effective measures company-wide.

 

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Warehouse dock. (Courtesy: Brooklyn Brewery at flickr.com)

Warehouse dock.
(Courtesy: Brooklyn Brewery at flickr.com)

Vehicles and pedestrians don’t mix. Whether it is forklifts running through the aisles of your warehouse, trucks backing into your dock, or cars pulling into your driveway or parking lot, the more you can do to separate people and machines, the safer your workplace will be.

Controlling traffic is essential to the safety of your employees and visitors. But it also can help build the bottom line of your business. Spending money to resolve lawsuits or pay hospital bills cuts into your profitability. Spending money upfront to improve traffic safety is a smarter investment that will save you money in the long run.

Here are five traffic control products that can help improve the safety of your workplace starting today.

Speed Bumps

Regardless of how many speed limit signs you put up or stern warnings you give, there are always going to be speeders. The one sure fire way to slow the down is to take away their choice in the matter.

Speed bumps made of 100% recycled materials will do the trick whether speeders like it or not. Unless they want to hit the speed bump at a fast rate of speed and risk damaging their vehicle, they will slow down.

Traffic Cones

Brightly colored traffic cones are a highly visible way to tell drivers what you want them to do. They also can be set up in any configuration you want.

Traffic cones can be used to block off restricted areas, prevent people from parking where they don’t belong and guide vehicles into the traffic lanes you want. They combine versatility with effectiveness.

Traffic Signs

In a city or town, putting up a new traffic sign literally takes an act of Congress … or at least the town council. But you can put up any signs you want on your property without asking anybody’s permission.

Traffic signs can designate parking areas, stop traffic at busy intersections, and create speed limits to slow vehicles down. Put them up along driveways and parking lots to create the traffic patterns and flow you want.

Delineator Posts

Delineator posts create a physical barricade that prevents vehicles from entering restricted areas. They come in both permanent and portable versions.

Parking Blocks

Rubber or concrete parking blocks tell drivers how far they can go when pulling their vehicles into parking spots. They are effective at preventing vehicles from rolling onto grass, adjacent parking spaces, and other restricted areas.

Traffic control products help you control traffic in your workplace.

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clutterAre you a hoarder? Is your cluttered workplace keeping you from being as efficient as you could be? If so, you are not alone.

Despite the digitization of most business records, invoices, inventories, and other documents, somehow paper and other junk just tend to accumulate all on its own.

Clutter Magnets

Getting rid of unnecessary items on your desk, in your office, or even on your dock or warehouse can improve the efficiency of your workplace. The problem is that in most workplaces, surfaces like desks, shelves, and even floors can quickly become “clutter magnets”, accumulating junk faster than your ability to organize them and put them away.

Defeating clutter takes commitment. It also takes a broad approach.

Putting away each of these items one at a time is time-consuming and tedious. Instead, it’s often best to take an aggressive approach to eliminating clutter.

First, Get a Big Box

To start, you will need something to store the items you want to keep. This can be an empty cardboard box, a laundry basket, or something else that is large but not too large. The key is to limit the amount of stuff you save. So if you use a container that is too big, you will just end up saving just about everything.

Next, create a “use by” date for the clutter. This could be six days or six months. It’s up to you how long. But anything that you haven’t touched or used within the use by date gets tossed.

For example, if there is a pile of invoices from eight years ago, you probably don’t need them anymore.

Next, Get Rid of Your Clutter Magnets

If there are areas in your workspace that tend to accumulate junk, get rid of those areas. They could be a set of shelves, a work table, a desk, or another surface that tends to build up with useless junk.

Getting rid of the place where you put the stuff you don’t use won’t give you anyplace to put it. So you will be forced to either put it away or toss it.

Digitize Everything You Can

Finally, seeing that it’s the 21st Century, should you really be holding on to all those paper documents in the first place? Scanning and filing invoices, orders guides, and other documents won’t just save you needed space, but it also will help your business work more efficiently.

Getting rid of clutter can help clean out your workspace, giving you more room to work.

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Reusable Plastic ContainersIn today’s fast response marketplace, shipping costs are one of the fastest-growing line items in practically any business’s budget these days. Customers accustomed to online ordering now want their orders faster and cheaper than ever.

While mega-corporations like Amazon and Wal-Mart can afford to spend billions on research and development into innovative delivery methods such as robots and pilotless drones, the typical small business has to find ways to improve efficiency any way they can.

One possible solution to reducing shipping costs is to spend less on packaging and make a one-time investment in bulk containers.

Flexibility of Bulk Containers

Bulk containers are widely used in materials handling, especially in the transport of food products. Typically made of hard, durable plastic, bulk containers come in every imaginable size, shape, and thickness so you are sure to find the ones that are best for your particular product.

Most bulk containers are stackable. Some are even lockable for increased product protection and safety during shipping.

They also are affordable and cost-effective. A one-time investment in a reusable bulk container will usually be far less than the cost of disposable cardboard boxes and other types of single-use packaging.

Benefits of Bulk Containers

Most bulk containers are engineered to provide years of use. Many can be used over and over again without worry of warping, eroding, splintering, or rusting out. Long-lasting bulk containers are one of the most cost-effective ways to move parts, products, or supplies across your warehouse floor or across the country.

Because they are reusable, businesses can see an immediate reduction in their packaging line item. Even if they become damaged, most bulk containers can be easily repaired and put right back into service.

They also take up less space during transport than traditional disposable packaging. Most are stackable when filled and nestable when empty. They also come with or without lids, which reduces the amount of space needed to store them when they are not in use.

Sanitation and Environmental Benefits

Keeping bulk containers clean is simple. Just use water and a little soap if necessary and they are literally as good as new. Or if you use enough bulk containers, they can be pushed through a bulk container cleaning machine which sanitizes them completely.

Finally, because they reduce the amount of post-market waste, bulk containers are better for the environment, providing a benefit for both the planet and your business’s reputation.

 

 

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Photo courtesy of Husky Rack & Wire.

Photo courtesy of Husky Rack & Wire.

Have you ever walked into a vendor’s dock or warehouse and found dirty, stained, and unsanitary flooring? How did that make you feel about that business? Probably, it made you want to run out the door and never come back!

Keeping the floors or your warehouse and dock clean at all times isn’t just good sanitation. It’s also good for your business. In the same way that you recoiled at the sight of another business’s inattention to its floors’ cleanliness, your customers, vendors, and other visitors will make snap judgments about your business if you ignore your floors or let them get too dirty.

There are three essentials to keeping your warehouse clean and orderly at all times. Once you learn these five steps, you will never have to worry about your flooring making a bad impression again.

Create a Warehouse Cleaning Schedule

The best way to keep up with cleaning anything is to create a schedule and then stick with it. Depending on the volume of traffic, your workplace floors should be cleaned at least weekly but preferably daily.

The overnight shift is generally the best time to clean because it’s the slowest. If you don’t run 24 hours then before or after your staff arrives is best.

Assign specific cleaning tasks to specific employees then hold them accountable for performing them according to the cleaning schedule you created. People want to know what you expect from them so it’s important that you be as specific as possible.

Also, inspect what you expect. Don’t take your employee’s word for it that your floors are being cleaned regularly. Have your supervisors conduct inspections after every cleaning. Or better yet, take a walk through your facility and see for yourself.

Clean as You Go

Once a day cleaning is not enough. A better plan is to create a culture in which your workers clean as they go. When everybody is in the habit of keeping your flooring clean, it will ensure your floors are always neat and orderly.

Make sure you provide the proper tools. There should always be plenty of brooms, dustpans, mops, buckets, and cleaning chemicals available at all times.

Heavy-Duty Cleaning Equipment

You may also want to invest in some heavy-duty floor cleaning equipment, such as a ride-on floor sweeper, buffer, or other floor cleaning machinery.

These not only simplify the task of keeping your floors clean but also make the process faster and more efficient.

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Proper use of an eyewash stationIf your business works with chemicals, it’s a good idea to have emergency eyewash stations located throughout your property.

In the event that a caustic chemical is accidentally splashed into a worker’s eyes, it can save their eyesight. It could even make the difference between life and death.

There are eight essential steps to properly using an emergency eyewash station. Training your employees on these steps will make your operation safer and minimize your risk.

Step 1 — Go Immediately to the Eyewash Station

When chemicals are splashed into the eyes, every second counts. Even if there is no immediate pain or irritation, it is essential that the injured employee head immediately to the nearest eyewash station.

Ideally, an eyewash station should be located with 10 seconds of any employee who works with chemicals.

Step 2 — Push the Lever and Activate the Eyewash Station

Emergency eyewash stations are designed to be used by people who can’t see. They typically have a single lever that can be activated with one single motion.

As soon as the lever is pushed, dust covers should pop off and the flushing liquid should begin to flow immediately from the faucet heads.

Step 3 — Flush the Eyes

The injured worker’s eyes need to be directly under the stream of flushing fluid. Even if it is painful, keep the liquid flowing over the eyes to remove as much of the chemical as possible.

Step 4 — Hold the Eyes Open

Using your fingers, hold your eyelids apart so that the maximum amount of flushing fluid can flow over the eyes.

Eyewash stations are designed to remain running so that injured workers can use both hands to perform this step.

Step 5 — Roll Your Eyes

To ensure that all of the eyes are flushed with the fluid, roll your eyes from left to right and up and down.

Step 6 — Flush Eyes for a Minimum of 15 Minutes

In order to fully dilute the chemical and wash it out of your eyes, keep your eyes under the running water for at least 15 minutes. Anything less than that is not enough to ensure that the chemical is removed.

Step 7 — Remove Contact Lenses

If you wear contact lenses, it’s important that they are removed while you are flushing.

The chemical agent can become trapped under the contact, preventing it from being removed during flushing.

Step 8 — Seek Medical Care

After you have flushed, seek out medical care to ensure that nothing more needs to be done to save your vision. If there are other injuries or the eye injury is severe, have a co-worker call 911.

 

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Courtesy: Steve at flickr.com

Courtesy: Steve at flickr.com

Maximizing efficiency and safety of warehouses, docks, and other work areas require designating specific areas for certain uses. For example, lanes that are used by fast-moving forklifts and other industrial equipment should be separated from pedestrian walkways.

Warehouse aisles should be similarly marked to prevent collisions, alert workers to overhead dangers, and maximized workplace order.

Painting Stripes and Lines

One of the simplest solutions is to paint lines on the floor of your work area to designate different areas for different uses. Spray paint and striping machines can make creating designated areas within your workplace quick and simple work.

Industrial striping machines can be used for everything from parking lots to dock and warehouse floors. Spray cans of paint fit simply into these convenient tools to create neat, straight lines.

Painting traffic lanes, safety zones, and other lines onto even large areas of workplace can be completed quickly and efficiently

The Problem with Paint

But there are a number of problems with using paint to mark lanes.

First, paint can be messy. Unless you use a template, free painting lines and other markings can look unprofessional.

Then there’s the need to keep people and vehicles off the paint until it can dry. If somebody accidentally tramples on wet paint, they can track it all over your warehouse or dock, creating a whole new set of problems.

Finally, there are the chemical hazards. Using spray paint indoors can create a cloud of unsafe fluorocarbons and other chemicals which can be dangerous if inhaled. Painting lanes and other floor markings need to be done at night by workers using ventilators or other breathing apparatus, a time-consuming and disruptive task.

Vinyl Floor Striping Paint

A less disruptive option could be vinyl floor striping tape. Available in a variety of colors and widths, striping tape can be applied neatly and quickly to most surfaces without the potential hazards of using spray paint.

Vinyl floor striping paint is even available with anti-slip surfaces, reducing the risk of workers tripping, slipping, or falling as a result of the tape floor markings.

For the straightest lines and maximum neatness, use a floor tape applicator to lay down the tape in the patterns you want. Tape applicators are adjustable to accommodate different widths of tape for different uses.

Vinyl floor tape can be applied from long rolls or in slip-resistant patches in areas where weather, detergent, grease and other hazards are common.

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Bahrns offers a complete line of safety cans and caddiesIn just about every homeowner’s garage, sitting next to the gas-powered lawn mower is a red plastic gas can with a long spout. This ubiquitous gas cans typically cost about $5 and can be found at most home improvement stores, gas stations, and discount stores.

But should they be used at businesses that use equipment powered by gas engines? The answer is usually “no”.

OSHA Requirements

The US Occupational Safety and Health Administration regulates workplace safety and typically holds businesses to a higher standard than homeowners.

The OSHA standard regarding the use of gas cans is 29 CFR 1926.152(a)(1), which states: “Only approved containers and portable tanks shall be used for storage and handling of flammable and combustible liquids. Approved safety cans or Department of Transportation approved containers shall be used for the handling and use of flammable liquids in quantities of 5 gallons or less.”

That’s government speak for, “Don’t use home gas cans at your business.”

Approved Safety Cans

Instead, businesses are supposed to use safety cans, which are a lot more sophisticated than the typical red plastic gas can and contain important safety features.

A safety can that is approved for use in businesses by OSHA is a closed container with a capacity of fewer than five gallons that has a flash arresting screen, a spring closing lid, and a spout cover. Safety cans are specially designed to relieve internal pressure when subjected to fire exposure.

Safety cans for business also need to have the seal of approval from a nationally recognized testing laboratory, such as Underwriter’s Laboratory. Look for the “UL Listed” stamp on the bottom or sides of the can. If it says “UL Classified”, this is not the same thing and the can is not approved for business use.

Department of Transportation Approved Containers

Notice that the OSHA standard refers to either “approved safety cans of Department of Transporation approved containers”.

Gas cans approved by the DOT will have a sticker or other markings that state that the produce adheres to the federal transportation agency’s stringent requirements. If the safety can or gas can you use has either UL Listed or DOT approved written on them, or both, it’s approved for use in commercial businesses. If it has neither, it should not be used by a business.

Using the right safety can is important for maintaining a safe and responsible work environment. It also can protect your business from prosecution if an accident occurs in your workplace.

 

 

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delivery man

Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons (in the public domain)

Many of the biggest success stories in business in the recent years are startups that are crowdsourced.

Uber lets ordinary people use their own cars like taxis to transport strangers wherever they are going. Airbnb lets ordinary homeowners use their houses and apartments like hotels, renting them out to strangers. Even Facebook uses content posted by ordinary people to fill their popular social networking website.

Now the new app Roadie hopes to use the same model for package delivery.

How Roadie Works

Roadie founder Marc Gorlin, who also serves as the startup’s CEO, said Roadie works sort of the same way as Uber.

People use the Roadie app when they need a package delivered anywhere. It could be across town or across the country. Drivers who sign up with the app can receive notifications whenever there is a package that needs to go to the same place they are traveling. They can then pick up and delivery the packages, collecting a fee for each delivery they make.

Gorlin described one situation in which a man purchased a 10-foot long rug at a local home improvement store only to realize that it wouldn’t fit in his car. He used the Roadie app and within minutes another driver with a larger vehicle showed up to deliver the carpet to his home.

App Growing Quickly

Roadie was only launched in 2015. But already more than 20,000 drivers have signed up for it. And with more than 250 million cars, trucks, and other vehicles traveling places all over the US each day, that number is sure to grow quickly, according to Gorlin.

Like Uber, Roadie drivers are rated and reviewed by users. This helps the app determine whether or not to keep using people.

Unlike Uber, Roadie customers also are able to request specific drivers. So when you find somebody you like and who is dependable, you can use that Roadie driver time and time again.

Disruptive Technology

If Roadie takes hold the way Uber and Airbnb have, it could change the way products and other packages are delivered through the supply chain. With more and more businesses following the Amazon model and shifting their focus to online customers, it’s also highly likely that copycat companies will soon sprout up.

While Roadie probably won’t soon take the place of long-haul trucking or rail freight services, it could erode into the market share of higher cost package delivery services like FedEx, DHL, and UPS.

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Avoiding back injuries in the workplaceA small investment in ergonomic support products for employees can often pay huge dividends down the line for businesses.

Workers who are free of pain are more productive, less likely to quit, and happier in their jobs, creating a more efficient business environment. Fewer work-related injuries also can reduce the number of costly workmen’s compensation claims.

Happy and Healthy Workers

Most ergonomic support equipment is relatively inexpensive, especially when compared with the potential costs of exposing workers to long-term injuries as a result of their job duties.

Companies have the option of purchasing the equipment themselves or allowing employees to buy it on their own. Some business will reimburse workers for some or all of the cost of ergonomic support equipment.

It’s often a good investment for businesses because it can help streamline operations, prevent the number and severity of workplace injuries, and help create a happier and healthier work environment.

Types of Ergonomic Support Equipment

There are many different types of ergonomic support equipment, each of which is created for the prevention of a particular type of workplace injury caused by repetitive motion, lifting heavy loads, standing in the same spot for long periods of time, and other potential workplace hazards.

Standing mats provide a cushion between employee’s feet and hard surfaces, like concrete or cement. They help reduce the amount of stress that is put on the calves, thighs, and lower back and can help workers feel comfortable even when standing for hours at a time. Standing mats usually are made of plastic, rubber, or other softer surfaces.

Back and abdomen braces are removable devices that can be worn by workers whose job includes lifting heavy objects, such as cases of products or equipment. They squeeze the lower back and abdominal muscles, preventing them from shifting when they are stressed by the force of lifting.

Office Ergonomic Support Equipment

Even workers who never leave the office are not immune from the threat or workplace injuries. People who type a lot are susceptible to carpal tunnel syndrome, which can cause soreness and permanent injury to the wrist and forearm muscles.

Wearing wrist supports and providing keyboard mats can help prevent the development of carpal tunnel and keep people working in front of computers more comfortable and more productive.

Anti-glare screens are another inexpensive solution that can help make office workers more productive. They can be affixed to practically any computer or laptop screen and reduce glare by as much as 70 percent.

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