NSC celebrates 25 years of National Safety Month

First published by Safety+Health an NSC publication.

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Itasca, IL — The National Safety Council, together with sponsor VelocityEHS, is encouraging employers to dedicate the month of June to improving their safety culture in recognition of National Safety Month. This year is the 25th anniversary of NSM, an annual observance created to inspire people to keep each other safe.

NSC launched NSM in 1996 to promote safe behaviors around the leading causes of preventable injuries and deaths at work, on the roads and in communities. According to the most recent data available, fatal work injuries and roadway deaths are on the rise, with 5,333 U.S. worker fatalities in 2019 (the highest total in more than a decade) and an estimated 42,060 people killed on the nation’s roads in 2020 – the highest number since 2007.

NSM participants have access to a variety of free materials on four weekly topics:
Week 1 – Prevent Incidents Before They Start: Identifying risks and taking proactive safety measures to reduce hazard exposure is crucial to creating a safe workplace.
Week 2 – Address Ongoing COVID-19 Safety Concerns: As the pandemic continues, employers play an important role in the expanding of operations, building trust around vaccines, promoting mental health and more.
Week 3 – It’s Vital to Feel Safe on the Job: Being yourself at work without fear of retaliation is necessary for an inclusive culture. The focus of leading organizations goes beyond only physical safety.
Week 4 – Advance Your Safety Journey: Safety is all about continuous improvement. Whether organizationally or individually, NSC and VelocityEHS can help provide guidance as organizations move forward in safety maturity.

“As organizations navigated the biggest workplace safety hazard in a generation, traditional safety risks never paused, and far too many people did not make it home to their loved ones at the end of their day,” NSC President and CEO Lorraine M. Martin said. “This year, we aim to inspire and support the EHS community to make people’s lives safer on and off the job. We are deeply grateful to VelocityEHS for their generous support of this important observance and shared commitment to safety.”

Access materials and learn more at nsc.org/nsm.


McCraren Compliance offers many opportunities in safety training to help circumvent accidents. Please take a moment to visit our calendar of classes to see what we can do to help your safety measures from training to consulting.

Opening Session: NIOSH director warns of COVID-19 endemic, looks to the future

First published by Safety+Health an NSC publication.

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Itasca, IL — The future of work may include safety professionals contending with COVID-19 on some level for a long time, even with the recent rollout and widespread availability of vaccines.

That was the warning from NIOSH Director John Howard during the Opening Session of the virtual National Safety Council Safety Congress & Expo on March 3. Although the disease might not be as deadly as it has been over this past year, COVID-19 will likely remain an endemic or a long-lasting disease similar to the flu.

Howard said that could mean preparing for increased disease surveillance; looking at COVID-19 variants to see if they’re more transmissible, more dangerous or have a greater ability to evade vaccines; and perhaps planning for booster vaccine shots.

“We’re not going to get rid of it; coronaviruses don’t disappear,” he said. “It’s not just an emergency that will pass tomorrow. We have to prepare for it. We have to look at our near future.”

Howard also introduced a thought exercise that safety professionals and others can use called “strategic foresight,” which comes from a 2007 book written by Andy Hines and edited by Peter Bishop.

Howard said the process begins by looking at which “domains” need attention, taking in all of the needed information and then turning all that into scenarios – some of which may even clash with each other. That’s followed by thinking about the implications of each scenario, imagining what may happen if a scenario comes to fruition and monitoring each scenario.

“One of those scenarios is going to be our actual future, and we’re going to be prepared for it because we thought about it ahead of time,” he said.

Howard also detailed parts of NIOSH’s Future of Work initiative, which addresses topics such as robotics, artificial intelligence/machine learning, exoskeletons, organizational design, work arrangements, workforce skills gaps and what automation may do to some jobs.

Year of the Safety Hero

To thank safety pros for all of their efforts during the COVID-19 pandemic, NSC declared 2021 the Year of Safety Hero.

“Safety professionals like you are helping essential workers stay safe and stay on the job,” NSC CEO and President Lorraine M. Martin said during the Opening Session. “You’ve stepped up to lead and serve others. You’ve faced a once-in-a-century pandemic with courage and dedication, confronting each challenge head on. Traditional safety risks never paused during this time and neither did you.

“It’s time to recognize the vital role that safety professionals play in every industry and every day.”

NSC is calling on people to recognize the safety hero(s) in their lives on social media with the hashtag, #SafetyHero.


McCraren Compliance offers many opportunities in safety training to help circumvent accidents. Please take a moment to visit our calendar of classes to see what we can do to help your safety measures from training to consulting.

COVID-19 pandemic: NSC urges employers to make vaccine plans

First published by Safety+Health an NSC publication.

Itasca, IL — The National Safety Council is calling on employers to support the adoption and rollout of COVID-19 vaccines in response to the Food and Drug Administration’s recent approval of the first such vaccine for emergency use.

In a Dec. 14 press release, NSC states that widespread support of the vaccine is needed for the health of the U.S. populace and the country’s economic recovery. The council recommends that all employers start developing a vaccine plan.

Plans should include educating employees on vaccine benefits and how to get vaccinated when it’s available, along with setting up an internal task force to handle all vaccine-related concerns. NSC suggests that task forces include professionals from human resources, legal, communications, and health and safety departments.

Another recommendation: Answer employees’ questions about their legal rights. Employer-mandated vaccination may prove to be a thorny issue, according to the results of an Eagle Hill Consulting LLC survey of more than 1,000 employees conducted Dec. 4-8. Respondents were nearly evenly split on whether organizations should require COVID-19 vaccines, with about 49% in favor.

“The road ahead will be complicated for employers, as our research indicates,” Eagle Hill President and CEO Melissa Jezior said in a press release. “The workforce clearly is split on employer vaccine mandates, so it’s going to be contentious no matter where an employer lands on inoculation requirements.

“There has never been a more crucial time for meaningful employee engagement, which could make or break organizations already struggling. It won’t be enough to just announce vaccine plans to employees. Instead, leaders are prudent to engage in conversations to understand the views of their workforce now to develop a vaccine strategy that is aligned with business goals and employee preferences.”

In the meantime, NSC is calling on employers to continue COVID-19 safety precautions such as encouraging the use of face coverings, physical distancing, frequent handwashing, remote work for all employees who can do so, testing and contact tracing.

“It will take time for vaccines to be widely available,” NSC states in a Dec. 10 press release. “We cannot let our guard down.”


McCraren Compliance offers many opportunities in safety training to help circumvent accidents. Please take a moment to visit our calendar of classes to see what we can do to help your safety measures from training to consulting.

Build a strong culture: Tips for ‘talking safety’

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Image: Missouri Department of Transportation

No one can keep an entire organization safe on his or her own. Collaboration is needed to create a strong safety culture in which everyone looks out for each other.

There’s no magic formula to make someone heed safety advice. But improving the atmosphere around safety conversations can make it easier to give and receive advice in a graceful, constructive way. Here are some ways you can do that:

Retire the ‘safety police.’ The “gotcha” approach is counterproductive, experts say. When workers feel they’re being policed, they find ways to hide their unsafe behaviors, resulting in lost opportunities for improvement. To make a genuine, long-term impact, take a persuasive approach rather than a punitive one.

Speak the worker’s language. Instead of presenting the information in the way that makes the most sense to the speaker, consider how the worker will receive it. Before saying anything, take a moment to think about who is being spoken to and what he or she cares about, and tailor the conversation to speak to those motivations. And remember: Good communication goes both ways. Instead of doing all the talking, listen to what workers have to say – especially any questions or objections they bring up, which can reveal their motivations.
Demonstrate care and concern. By far, the greatest reason to give a worker for adopting a safe behavior is concern for his or her well-being, and the best way to avoid the appearance of lecturing is to show concern for that person. Be calm and keep emotions in check to help send the right message.
Focus on specifics. To avoid expressing judgment or disapproval and provoking a defensive reaction, limit comments to the precise unsafe behaviors or conditions that were witnessed.
Get (and give) permission. If you’re concerned that well-intentioned advice will come off as intrusive, it may help to set the stage for the safety conversation beforehand.
Lead by example and encourage others to do the same. Workers tend to do what those around them are doing, so it’s essential to demonstrate safe behaviors in addition to talking about them.

A safe drive

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Photo: Jennifer Yario

Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of workplace death. Preliminary estimates released in May by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration show a 1.2% decrease in motor vehicle-related deaths in 2019 from the previous year.

“While we are heading in the right direction, more work needs to be done to ensure safety on our roadways,” NSC says. Keep it safe every time you get behind the wheel by following these best practices from NSC:

  • Adjust your mirrors to limit your blind spots.
  • Program your GPS before you leave.
  • Set your cellphone to “Do Not Disturb” and put it and any other distracting devices or items away.
  • Adjust your seat so you can reach any knobs and switches.
  • Have an emergency kit stocked and stored in your vehicle. Inspect it before setting off.
  • Make sure you’re in the right head space to drive – free of impairment, distraction and frustration.
  • Obey all traffic signs and posted speed limits.
  • Use your signals and lights when driving.
  • Give pedestrians the right of way.
  • Don’t drive if you’re tired. Try to take a nap before getting behind the wheel.
  • Drive slowly and cautiously in parking lots and garages.
  • Check the potential side effects of your medications before getting behind the wheel.
  • Stop for breaks on long driving trips.
  • Buckle up.
  • Leave yourself enough time to safely reach your destination.

“Any drop in motor vehicle deaths should be well received, but the ultimate goal we need to reach is zero,” NSC says.

Focus on mental health

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Workers might be facing a number of issues during the COVID-19 crisis that can have an impact on mental health, including furloughs and layoffs, social isolation, financial hardships and worries, and health concerns for themselves and their families.

“I’ve heard it said that the next pandemic wave may be mental health,” said Marissa J. Levine, a professor at the University of South Florida, during an April 14 webinar on mental health hosted by NSC. “Honestly, I’m concerned about that. It’s affected every state, every one of us, in some way.”

Employees might be getting information from numerous, and sometimes unreliable, sources at this time. “It’s very difficult, in these anxious times, to catch peoples’ attention,” Eric Goplerud, chair of the board of directors for the Faith Alliance for Climate Solutions, said during the webinar. “There are 11 words which will help you communicate and break through the anxiety: A simple message, repeated often, from a variety of trusted sources.”

Levine recommended employers and managers follow and share coping strategies from sources such as the National Alliance on Mental Illness, which suggests taking breaks from consuming news reports related to the pandemic, taking time to unwind, working on physical fitness and social connections, setting goals and priorities, and focusing on the facts.

For employers, human resources teams and safety leaders, Goplerud encouraged more communication about benefits programs, such as an employee assistance program. Leaders also should encourage more interaction with benefits vendors.

Employers and managers can share honest updates about COVID-19 while also providing a positive outlook for the path forward.

“There’s a real opportunity here for focusing on the positives without minimizing the issues that we’re dealing with,” Levine said. “Having a can-do attitude and the power of positive thinking are needed now more than ever.”

The next wave? NSC webinar explores worker mental health during and after COVID-19 pandemic

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Photo: jamesjames2541/iStockphoto

Itasca, IL — The COVID-19 pandemic has radically changed how work gets done. Take for example Loveland, CO-based Nutrien, which transitioned one-fourth of its 24,000-person workforce to remote work in early March.

For the affected employees of the agricultural crop inputs and services provider, and the millions of others in organizations like it, adjusting to the “new normal” has not always been easy. This is why, in part, helping employees with mental health concerns related to the pandemic should be an important aspect of every employer’s response, John Horne, vice president of safety and health at Nutrien, said during an April 14 webinar hosted by the National Safety Council. Read More»

NSC announces task force on safely bringing employees back to work

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Itasca, IL — The National Safety Council has launched SAFER: Safe Actions for Employee Returns, a comprehensive, multifaceted effort to help guide employers through the process of safely resuming traditional work and operations now and in a post-COVID-19 pandemic environment.

The task force comprises nonprofit organizations, businesses, medical professionals, government agencies and trade associations – all with the intention of sharing their expertise to develop industry- and risk-specific resources and recommendations for U.S. employers of all sizes.

The task force will issue recommendations and develop guidance for employers as they navigate the changed work environment and determine the most critical needs to ensure the safety of their workers.

SAFER also will:

  • Identify complexities with reengaging the workforce by partnering with human resources, legal, labor, health care and workers’ compensation providers
  • Develop general and sector-specific playbooks for America’s businesses to help them align worker safety with business objectives

“The manner in which employers bring people back to work will define our national response to the pandemic,” Lorraine M. Martin, president and CEO of NSC, said in an April 23 press release. “For more than a century, NSC has been helping employers put safety at the forefront of all their decisions, and we are once again taking action to continue serving this important role. With SAFER, we are confident we’re bringing the best minds together to ensure Americans have the safest transition back to work so we can truly flatten the curve and enable people to live their fullest lives.”

New report from NSC shows how existing technologies can help save workers’ lives

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Bonita Springs, FL — With workplace fatalities on the rise in the United States, a new research report from the Work to Zero initiative at the National Safety Council indicates employers “may not be doing enough to protect their workforce.”

According to Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries data released Dec. 17 by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 5,250 workers died as a result of on-the-job injuries in 2018 – a 2% increase from 2017 and the highest number of fatalities since 5,657 were recorded in 2007.

The report, “Safety Technology 2020: Mapping Technology Solutions for Reducing Serious Injuries and Fatalities in the Workplace,” reviews the current state of safety technology; provides insights from more than 40 environmental, health and safety professionals; and maps major sources and causal factors of workplace deaths to promising safety technologies.

“The data says it all – while workplace injuries are trending down, workplace fatalities are rising,” NSC President and CEO Lorraine M. Martin said in a Feb. 18 press release. “Hundreds of technologies exist today that have enormous potential to eliminate these preventable deaths. This report is an excellent starting point for employers to understand how new technology can ensure a safer workforce.”

The report looks at 18 various non-roadway, hazardous situations, such as working at height, workplace violence, and repair and maintenance – in which fatal injuries are most likely to occur among workers and provides potential technology solutions for each situation.

The report was presented Feb. 13 during the inaugural Work to Zero Summit.

No level of cannabis use acceptable for workers in safety-sensitive positions

MarijuanaItasca, IL — The National Safety Council is calling on employers to restrict cannabis use among workers in safety-sensitive positions – regardless of whether cannabis consumption is allowed by their state, in a new policy position released Oct. 21.

Studies have shown that workers under the influence of cannabis can experience impaired body movement, altered senses, difficulty thinking and problem-solving, impaired memory, an altered sense of time, changes in mood, and – when taken in high doses – hallucinations and delusions.

In 2019, NSC surveyed more than 500 employers about the effects of cannabis in the workplace. Results show that:

  • 81% were concerned about the drug having a negative impact on their workforce.
  • 71% indicated their organization’s written policies cover employee use of illicit cannabis, while only 54% said their policies cover employee use of legal or prescribed cannabis.
  • 24% indicated they would dismiss an employee found to be misusing legal cannabis, such as being under the influence while on the job, while only 7% said they would relocate the employee to a position of lesser responsibility.

“Research clearly shows that cannabis impacts a person’s psychomotor skills and cognitive ability,” said Lorraine M. Martin, president and CEO of NSC, in an Oct. 21 press release. “In order to protect our employees and those around them, we need to acknowledge the impairing effects of cannabis. We urge employers to implement policies stating no amount of cannabis consumption is acceptable for those who work in safety-sensitive positions.”