Total Worker Health – A Broader Perspective on Health and Safety

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Heath (NIOSH), has been promoting the concept of Total Work Health (TWH) for a while now. Despite the years of research and every growing library of tools and resources, its possible (maybe even likely) the concept is still a little fuzzy. For that reason we are dedicating this month’s Safety Leadership post to help increase awareness of the concept and advance the TWH paradigm by sharing some of the related NIOSH offerings.

First – what is it? Well in NIOSH’s own words  – A Total Worker Health approach is defined as policies, programs, and practices that integrate protection from work-related safety and health hazards with promotion of injury and illness–prevention efforts to advance worker well-being. 

Another way of explaining is TWH programs looks at hazards and risks from a complete or comprehensive perspective with solutions that integrate health and safety along with the concept of worker well-being. This is quite different from traditional programs which have separated health from safety and failed to consider the impact of non-task related factors which can and do have significant impacts on a workers overall well-being.

The idea of workers going home in the same condition as when they arrived should consider all aspects of health including mental health. While TWH programs prioritize hazard free workplaces, they go beyond traditional physical hazards and consider addition factors, such as stress, directly related to work and how they can also impact worker’s personal and family lives as well. Beyond that, benefits and compensation evaluations are also considered as we all know financial insecurities and access to affordable medical care have a HUGE impact on our overall quality of life and ability to thrive.

Here is a look at the Hierarchy of Controls through a TWH lens

Worker Health

You can see how traditional practices would still fit and yet this model takes a much wider look.

Here are a few examples directly from the NIOSH page which helps to make the financial case for TWH:

  • High work stress: Research shows that high stress levels, especially when experienced for prolonged periods of time, can lead to high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity, and diabetes. Workers who report stressors like high job strain (high demands, with low levels of decision-making power) have an increased frequency of heart disease [Theorell et al. 2016]. Work-related stress can also lead to depression, which contributes to absenteeism, presenteeism (workers going to work when they are sick), disability, and unemployment, which lead to higher costs for employers [Schnall et al. 2016].
  • Paid sick leave: A NIOSH study found that workers with access to paid sick leave were 28% less likely to suffer nonfatal occupational injuries than workers without access to paid sick leave [Asfaw et al. 2012]. Another study found that providing paid sick leave could have saved employers $0.63 to $1.88 billion in reduced influenza-like illness-related absenteeism costs per year [Asfaw et al. 2017].

Use the link above to see the full list of research demonstrating the benefits to the organization.

Here are several other resources to help your organization fully assess the safety, health and well-being of your workers.

McCraren Compliance offers a full range of safety and health training and consulting services. Plus we can help you incorporate well-being into your traditional systems in order to support the Total Worker Health of your workforce.

Call 888-758-4757, email or visit our website

Safety Leadership – OceanGate Submarine Tragedy – Innovation Versus Safety

By now most everyone has heard of the Titan submarine developed and operated by OceanGate, as part of the emerging adventure tourism industry. The appeal of this vessel was its ability to navigate very close to underwater wreckage/objects with viewports which allowed passengers to look outside the craft. The Titan was specifically designed with the purpose of traveling to and viewing the remnants of the iconic Titanic which sunk on its maiden voyage from England to New York in 1912. As such the Titan weighed about half as much as other deep diving subs, allowing for greater maneuverability while enabling the craft to get very close. This design was innovative and experimental. Forging its way into a new era of commercial access to the deep seas. It may have been the intense drive to rapidly grow the adventure tourism industry through ground breaking innovations, which were at times in conflict with established safety protocols, at the very root of what is now accepted as the implosion of the vessel on its 5th voyage down to the Titanic. So what were some of the signs of the impending tragedy?

The Whistleblower’s Concerns

OceanGate employee David Lochridge was fired in 2018 after he expressed concern about the submersible’s safety. Lochridge alleged he had raised concerns about the safety of the Titan with OceanGate and advised the company to conduct more testing of the vessel’s hull. Lochridge said he had disagreed with his employer about the best way to test the safety of the sub and that he objected to OceanGate’s decision to perform dives without “non-destructive testing to prove its integrity.” Mr. Lochridge reported learning that the viewport that lets passengers see outside the craft was only certified to work in depths of up to 1,300 meters versus 4000 meters depth the Titan would travel to view the Titanic wreckage. According to court filings Mr. Lochridge alleged he was fired after refusing to approve a manned testing voyage without first completely the non-destructive testing for which he was advocating.

OceanGate subsequently sued Lochbridge stating he violated company confidentiality policies by sharing information outside of the company. Lockbridge responded by suing for wrongful termination and eventually the two parties reached a settlement.

Neglected Risk Management

According to Will Kohnen, the chair of the Marine Technology Society’s Submarine Committee in an interview with NPR’s Morning Addition “Most of the companies in this industry that are building submersibles and deep submersibles follow a fairly well-established framework of certification and verification and oversight, through classification societies,” he said. “And that was at the root of OceanGate’s project, is that they were going to go solo, going without that type of official oversight, and that brought a lot of concerns.”

One concerned expressed to OceanGate was its claims that the submersible would meet or exceed the safety standards of a risk assessment company known as DNV, even though the company had no plans to have the craft formally certified by the agency.

In an unsigned 2019 blog post titled “Why Isn’t Titan Classed?,” states “Bringing an outside entity up to speed on every innovation before it is put into real-world testing is anathema to rapid innovation,”

In a Smithsonian magazine in a profile published in 2019, Mr. Rush said “There hasn’t been an injury in the commercial sub industry in over 35 years… It’s obscenely safe because they have all these regulations. But it also hasn’t innovated or grown — because they have all these regulations.”

Safety Protocols Under Scrutiny

The Passenger Vessel Safety Act of 1993, which regulates submersibles that carry passengers and requires that they be registered with the Coast Guard, did not apply to the Titan because it does not fly an American flag or operate in American waters. Beacuase the vessel was launched in international waters, OceanGate was able to work around most regulatory bodies.

OceanGate CEO responded to concerns regarding lack of independent safety review that certification industry standards were stifling innovation. Instead insisting that new alternative safety systems, although unproven, were superior to the industry accepted standards. The company had recently celebrated a patent for its acoustic system meant to monitor the vessel’s carbon-fiber hull (now suspected to be at the root of the implosion).

In a 2020 Reddit Q&A, OceanGate CEO stated “We can detect any anomaly well before we reach a critical pressure. We know of no other sub that is so well instrumented.” Yet again relying on new technology to justify averting accepted safety testing and certification protocols.

CEO Rush also stated the industry accepted classification assures design and construction adhere to standards but does nothing to “weed out subpar vessel operators” and the company claimed the vast majority of submarine related incidents were “operator error”.

Safety Planning to Drive Innovation

Considering the outcome of the Titan’s most recent voyage, we are now questioning how existing safety protocols, which were bypassed for the sake of innovation, could have actually proved to support and enhance adventure tourism versus the setback this new industry now faces. This is a similar dilemma faced by workers and leaders across all industries every day. We are all under the constant pressures to meet schedules, goals, earnings etc. and often make short-sided decisions on how much time to invest in safety up front. This incident may prove to be a stark example of how comprehensive safety planning may actually be the quickest way to the finish line, while also reinforcing the importance of outside certification/assessment to ensure objectivity and ongoing self-scrutiny.

McCaren Compliance offers a full range of health and safety training and consulting services and can be that outside voice to help keep your company objective when evaluating and consisting applying your own safety systems. Our latest Safety Teams offerings are completely customizable and may be exactly what you need to plug any leaks. Call, email or chat with us online to find out more.


Safety Leadership – New Series

The McCraren Compliance Team have worked together to determine what single area of focus will have the greatest impact towards meeting our purpose of creating workplaces (communities) where we all watch out for each other. Through these efforts we identified #SAFETYLEADERSHIP as the underlying set of behaviors needed to positively influence safety culture and therefore safety outcomes.

For the last couple of years we have internally been viewing all of our services through a Safety Leadership lens. We deliberately made this shift as when we sat down and discussed what do we ultimately want each client and each person to walk away with after receiving training or consulting services from McCraren Compliance and it was to use the knowledge to influence the people and the environments where they are each and every day to also focus on #SAFETYLEADERSHIP. In short, we want to create safety influencers, who will contribute to solid safety cultures which inspire safety leaders across all levels of any size organization.

The next step in transitioning our operating activities to align with these objectives is to more overtly share tools, tips and concepts with our greater network and community partners. Each month we will dedicate a blog post and Safety News article to sharing this information with you. This post will serve as both an introduction and the inaugural installation of our #SAFETYLEADERSHIP series.

What to expect in future installments:

  • Industry Successes (what’s working for other organizations)
  • Understanding and Influencing Behavior
  • Productive Methods for Assessing and Analyzing Failures
  • Simple (which doesn’t always mean easy) Solutions AKA Hacks
  • New and Exciting Safety Trends
  • Shared Learnings (our own and from other industry partners)
  • Worker Wellbeing
  • Leveraging Safety to Improve Employee Engagement

What else have we put in place to create #SAFETYLEADERSHIP:

  • Our Teams offering which provides all the benefits of a dedicated team of safety experts without the costs and complexity of hiring.
  • Partnering with International Board of Environmental Health and Safety to offer Industry Specific Certifications
  • Expanding our Services to include Industrial Hygiene and Environmental Expertise
  • Aligning our audit/inspection tools and processes to #SAFETYLEADERSHIP inspired practices
  • Assessing how well we are internally living our company values
  • Implementing a formal professional development program to ensure we practice what we preach

We are one community with a common goal of the health of our people. We look forward to your thoughts, input and feedback.

IBOEHS Approved Training Center

IBOEHS - McCraren Compliance

McCraren Compliance is excited to announce it is now an International Board of Environmental Health and Safety (IBOEHS) Approved Training Center. Outside accreditation is an important means for both assessing and ensuring the quality and effectiveness of our training programs and instructors. By affiliating with IBOEHS, McCraren Compliance is able to expand our offerings and expertise in order to better serve our clients and keep all of our workplaces safety and health.

McCraren will now be offering, among others, Register Safety Officer, Registered Safety Manager and Registered Safety Professional certifications, including a program with an emphasis in construction.

IBOEHS certifications are an asset to both safety professionals and the organizations they support. This certification process includes comprehensive training on all topics relative to the subject matter and the level experience and expertise appropriate to each designation. Each certification level builds upon the prior, creating a professional development path supporting advancement within the safety profession. And as health hazards are becoming increasing important for safety professionals, all certifications are inclusive of these topics as well.

McCraren Compliance will soon be offering a Registered Mine Safety Professional Certification (save the date for later this summer). As with all IBOEHS courses, this certification will prioritize practice over theory covering comprehensive concepts concentrated on mining such as, mining life cycle, types of mining, mining equipment, hazard recognition and control, safety and health regulations, mining industrial health, industrial psychology safety culture, leadership, inspections, investigations, mining health and safety statistics, and more. This is the ultimate certification for EHS professionals within the mining industry. As an international organization operating under an international accrediting body, the Registered Mine Safety Professional designation is recognized across the globe.

The International Board of Environmental Health and Safety, Inc follows the guidelines set forth by the International Certification Accreditation Board and has been accredited since 2007. Through the IBOEHS,

For more information about IBOEHS certification programs contact

Drugs and Sexual Assault: What You Should Know

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month

Although there are many substances that can cause you to pass out or lose control, certain drugs – like GHB, Rohypnol, ketamine, and Ecstasy – are referred to as “sexual assault” drugs because sexual predators often use them to get control over their victims. Learn more about these drugs.

OSHA issued a temporary enforcement policy for crane operator certifications from Crane Institute Certification.

WASHINGTON, DC – To avoid industry confusion and potential disruptions of construction crane projects, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has issued an enforcement policy for crane operator certifications issued by Crane Institute Certification (CIC). OSHA requires crane operators engaged in construction activity to be certified by an entity accredited by a nationally recognized accrediting agency. CIC no longer holds such accreditation.

The policy explains that, although CIC-issued certifications are not compliant with OSHA’s operator certification requirement, OSHA does not intend to cite employers for operating equipment that violates that requirement if their operators, in good faith, obtained CIC-issued certifications prior to December 2, 2019, with the belief the certifications met the standard’s requirements. Until further notice, OSHA will not accept CIC certifications – including re-certifications – issued on or after December 2, 2019.

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA’s role is to ensure these conditions for America’s working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit

The mission of the Department of Labor is to foster, promote, and develop the welfare of the wage earners, job seekers, and retirees of the United States; improve working conditions; advance opportunities for profitable employment; and assure work-related benefits and rights.

MSHA Fatality #21

METAL/NONMETAL MINE FATALITY – While spotting for a dump truck, a contractor stepped directly into the path of a bulldozer and died at the scene on November 16, 2019.

Fatality on November 16, 2019 scene of the fatality accident
Best Practices: 
  1. Safety first. Before starting work, establish and discuss safe work procedures. Identify and control all hazards associated with the work and properly protect workers.
  2. Know where people are. Be aware of body positioning around equipment, traffic patterns, dump sites, and haul roads.
  3. Train miners and contractors on traffic controls, mobile equipment patterns, and other site-specific hazards.
  4. Stay alert. Do not place yourself in harm’s way.
  5. Communicate with mobile equipment operators and ensure they acknowledge your presence.
  6. Ensure travelways are clear before moving a vehicle or mobile equipment.
  7. Look behind you. Install “rear viewing” cameras or other collision warning systems on mobile equipment. When backing up, look over your shoulder to eliminate blind spots. When using mirrors, use all available mirrors.
  8. Wear reflective material while working around mobile equipment. Use flags, visible to equipment operators, to make miners and smaller vehicles more visible.
Additional Information:

This is the 21st fatality reported in 2019, and the fifth fatality classified as “Machinery.”

Of all professions, construction workers most likely to use opioids and cocaine

Construction workers are more likely use cocaine and misuse prescription opioids, according to a study  by the Center for Drug Use and HIV/HCV Research at NYU College of Global Public Health. These workers are also the second most likely to use marijuana.

Researchers looked at data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health between 2005 and 2014.

“It makes sense that we see higher rates of construction workers using pain-relieving substances such as opioids and marijuana, given the labor-intensive nature of their work and high rates of injuries,” said Danielle Ompad, the study’s lead author. Read more.