Distraction in the Workplace: An Avoidable Risk

When most people talk about workplace safety and workplace hazards, they’re referring to environmental, structural, and traffic issues. These might include an absent safety railing on a high ledge, perilously hot ambient temperatures, inadequate noise protection, or poorly maintained machinery. With proper training, most managers and HR pros recognize a standard workplace hazard when they see one (or feel or hear it).

But there’s one workplace problem that doesn’t get as much attention, and is just as likely to cause an accident or injury: distraction. As the saying goes, distracted drivers are as dangerous as inebriated drivers, and the same rule applies to workers. What are you doing to protect your employees from this often preventable hazard? Keep these tips in mind.

Solicit feedback from your teams.

The best way to find out more about the dangers faced by your workers is to simply ask them. Encourage honesty by distributing anonymous surveys and/or maintaining an open door policy so employees can report any problem at any time without fear of judgement or criticism. If any employee in your workplace identifies a potentially dangerous distraction—anything from an overly-bright light fixture to a constantly running TV screen—reward the employee for bringing it to your attention.

Pay close attention to teams who rely on concentration and focus.

If some of your employees are operating potentially dangerous, high speed, or precision machinery, keep a close eye on these employees especially. Enforce regular break periods and rest periods. Deliberately remove anything from the ambient environment that may break their concentration even momentarily. Consider every form of visual and auditory stimulation that comes their way; even a bad smell can derail focus for a crucial second. Reduce these problems at the source.

Coworkers can be the biggest distraction of all.

If your employees work in teams or partner pairs, make sure these pairs are stable and functional. If they aren’t, separate mismatches quickly and rotate pairings on a regular basis. Don’t allow coworkers to threaten each other’s safety, even with well-intended but poorly timed conversation. Provide privacy barriers and sound barriers for work stations that benefit from structural boundaries.

Take all complaints seriously.

Some workers are distracted by sounds and intrusions that don’t bother others. But if an employee complains about a squeaking fan, or flapping tarp, a chatty coworker, a divided responsibility, or an occasional blast of cold air across his or her workstation, don’t dismiss the concern. Address the problem in any way you can; Either eliminate the distraction or shift the employee to another area where the distraction won’t cause an accident.

For more on how to keep your workers safe from all hazards, including innocent distractions, contact the staffing and management experts at Lift Temp.

Safety Education: Prepare Employees from Day One

Keeping your employees safe from on-the-job illness and injury will involve effort on several fronts. First, you’ll need to make sure physical hazards are under control, which will mean careful attention to handrails, pressure valve maintenance, and safe floors. Second, you’ll need to make sure you have strong protocols in place so everyone knows what to do in the moments following an accident. But just as important as both of these plans, you’ll need to cultivate and reinforce a culture of safety. This means educating your employees and making safety a priority for everyone. Here’s how to start this process the first day a new employee comes on board.

Use Visual Cues and Messages

Near every potentially dangerous workstation or piece of equipment, post warnings and safety instructions clearly. Keep the posts (plaquards, posters, or visual symbols) maintained and clearly legible. And make sure they provide enough information to be meaningful and useful. Don’t let them fade or come down simply because these warnings are not needed by senior employees.

Monitor Training and Certification

When managers look around the workplace and see various employees handling forklifts or overhead cranes, they should immediately know where these employees stand in terms of formal training and certification status. No employee with outdated training credentials should operate dangerous machinery for even one day.

Keep Detailed Records as New Employees are Trained

When new employees walk in the door, they’ll probably be paired with a trainer or mentor as they learn the ropes. So make sure these instructors are well chosen, qualified to teach, and able to monitor and accurately report on the progress of their trainees. If one trainer leaves and hands a new employee off to another, the transition should be seamless and should involve the transfer of written documents.

Offer Feedback and Coaching in Real Time

Don’t wait to correct the behavior and habits of new employees. Instead of taking notes and providing feedback at the end of the day, or the end of the week, provide it immediately. If a new employee is using poor technique or skipping part of a pre-shift inspection, intervene and find an appropriate way to alter the behavior and clarify the lesson in the moment.

Managers Should Set an Example

When it comes to safety, don’t allow managers to cut corners or give lip service to rules and policies. Rules governing hard hat zones, equipment checks, or any other aspect of safety should apply to everyone in the workplace, including managers and guests.

For more on how to cultivate and maintain a safe work environment and workplace culture, reach out to the staffing team at Lift Temp .

Creating a 30-60-90 Day Plan for a Successful New Job

You just stepped into your first permanent manufacturing job…Congratulations! But in order to make sure this job stays “permanent” and you and your employer launch into a mutually beneficial experience, you’ll need to stay on your toes. Start by creating a clear plan for success, a road map that will guide you through the next 30, 60, and 90 days. By that time, if all goes well, the novel parts of the job will start to feel routine and natural. With any luck, you may feel confident enough to give a helping hand to new employees who will be standing where you are now.

Your First 30 Days

Start by making a strong impression during your first day, and build on that foundation during your first week. Make it clear that you’re happy to be here, excited to start working, and eager to identify your role and give this job your best shot. Make an effort to learn and remember the names of everyone you meet. Keep your conversations and interactions positive. If you feel like you may not remember everything you learn, keep a notepad close and take notes. Ask plenty of questions and try not to ask the same ones twice. By the end of one month, you’ll have won over a few friends and supporters, and learned the basics of the job.

The First 60 Days

Within 60 days, you should be finding a sustainable rhythm and brining your daily productivity rate (however that rate is measured) up to a level on par with the average in your industry. You should also be making a note of your error rates. Now is the time to start tackling those rates and bringing those numbers down. You’ll still be asking plenty of questions, of course, but your questions should be rising to the next level and should be focused on specific aspects of this operation and your contributions.

The First 90 Days

By the time you’ve been on the job for three months, you should be ready to iron out aspects of your daily work that seem uncomfortable or difficult for you. What’s the most challenging part of your day? By this stage, you should be able to answer that question quickly, and your answer should show where your focus lies at this point. Get these rough spots smoothed out, and as you do so, you’ll move closer to a degree of expertise which will earn the respect of your employer and prepare you for the next level of responsibility.

For more on how to step into your new manufacturing job and hit the ground running, contact the expert staffing team at Lift Temp.

Prevent the Hazards of Manual Materials Handling by Using Forklifts

The term “manual materials handling”, or MMH, usually referrers to the handling, lifting, and moving of inanimate objects in the workplace without the benefit of mechanical assistance. Some form of manual materials handling takes place in almost every job, but employees who work in factories, warehouses and distribution centers handle objects without support more often than employees in other industries. And as it happens, research shows that MMH is the most common source of work-related lower back pain and occupational fatigue. In fact, three out of four Canadian workers who lift and move objects on a regular basis will suffer from back pain or back injury at least once.

Preventing MMH Injuries
There are no demographics that indicate a greater risk for MHH injury. Both genders and all ages are equally susceptible to strain, fatigue and back pain. Women and men are not statistically variant in their ability to lift and move objects, and while workers over the age of 45 may lose physical strength, their bodies typically adapt by applying years of ingrained experience to the lifting process. In fact, younger workers suffer a higher number of back injuries while lifting loads of the same weight and size. So preventing MMH hazards should not excuse gender and age discrimination.

Instead, preventing MMH injures should involve a careful evaluation of required tasks and the provision of tools, protective gear, and safe lifting equipment. For smaller tasks, a supportive belt can prevent hernia and muscle strain. Proper safety training provided by qualified experts can also reduce lifting injuries. But most important: Workers should be provided with devices that offer the leverage and lifting support they need.

The Benefit of Forklifts
Forklifts and mechanized lifting equipment, like overhead cranes, may require an initial outlay of capital. But this cost should be considered an investment in worker safety and productivity. Forklifts now include advanced ergonomic and safety features, and the fuel efficiency of both gas and battery powered lifting equipment has increased in recent years. With sophisticated mast-stability features and a growing ratio of lifting power to size and maneuverability, forklifts are becoming a necessary feature of almost any materials-handling workplace.

Versatile designs are now available, including narrow-aisle forklift models and a range of lifting extensions and attachments. Now may be the perfect time to examine the costs and benefits of various forklift models that may protect your employees and meet the unique needs of your workplace.

For more information on lifting equipment and injury prevention, reach out to the materials handling staffing experts at Lift Temp.

The Basic Responsibilities of OH&S Legislation

Across all the jurisdictions and provinces of Canada, the language and broader points of Occupational Health and Safety legislation remain similar. The basic responsibilities of employees, employers, and supervisors are fairly consistent across most workplaces, though the finer points of the legislation and methods of enforcement may vary slightly from one region to the next.

Basic Employer Responsibilities

Supervisors and employees will need to read, process, and apply the information relevant to their own aspects of the law, and employees will likewise need to address other areas of responsibility. Here are some of the key points that will require employer attention.

A joint health and safety committee

Employers will need to establish and maintain a committee to address issues relevant to safety and injury prevention in the workplace, or otherwise compel employees to form and maintain a committee or elect a representative to handle this task.

Take precautions to ensure a safe workplace

Since only employers have the ability and authority to change the nature of the workplace, this task will fall under the employer umbrella of responsibility. This will include, among other examples, installing safety railings, preventing harmful substances from intruding into workspaces, and preventing shop floor accidents, machinery malfunctions, and traffic collisions.

Provide complete and adequate safety training

It will be the responsibility of the employer to provide and pay for safety training sessions and make sure all employees have completed the sessions and understand the content. These sessions will train employees to handle workplace safety emergencies and also use, handle and dispose of hazardous materials properly.

Supply protective equipment

Employers will need to provide all employees with personal safety equipment and protective gear that will be well maintained, inspected, and in good repair. This will include items like hard hats, gloves and protection from heat, cold, and hazardous materials.

Reporting

Employers will report all injuries, accidents and relevant safety incidents the proper department of the Occupational Health and Safety office. The reporting process must be timely, accurate and complete.

Setting standards

Employers will set and maintain high safety standards by appointing a supervisor who will control specific workplace metrics relevant to safety.

For more on how the responsibilities of OH&S legislation will be distributed and enforced, reach out to the workplace safety and staffing experts at Lift Temp.

The Impact of Workplace Stress on Manufacturing Employees

As a business owner, team leader, or operations manager in the manufacturing sector, you already know that productive workers are happy workers. And happy workers are usually those who feel safe in the workplace, who are paid adequately, and who are treated with respect by their employers. If any of these conditions aren’t met, stress levels go up and productivity goes down. Here are some of the specific ways that poor working conditions can hurt your employees and undermine your bottom line.

Noise, Temperature, Vibrations, and Environmental Stressors

Short intense bursts of exposure to any of these three conditions (noise, temperature extremes, and vibrations) can cause trauma and one-time injury. A burst of sound can damage the tympanic membrane, which may result in hearing loss. Sudden bursts of environmental heat and cold can cause hypothermia, frostbite, heat exhaustion or burns, and vibrations can cause muscle and skeletal injury. But these conditions can also have serious impact on employee health at very low grades if they’re sustained and the employees are not protected. Don’t wait for employees to complain about these problems—be proactive and perform regular inspections to make sure these threats are kept under control.

Perceptions of Employer Commitment to Safety

It’s been well documented that employees are more productive and turnover tends to be lower when workers perceive that their employers are committed to their safety. Simple things like installing a handrail on a high platform can make a significant difference in terms of employee engagement and loyalty. Even if no employees have ever fallen from the platform, protecting them from the possibility can be a wise investment. The same applies to protection from dangerous machinery, enforcement of hard hat rules, and prominently posted safety warnings.

Overtime and Working Hours

Monitor overtime and make sure that employees are getting enough sleep and adequate breaks, especially when these employees are completing high stress tasks that require concentration and focus. Don’t allow employees to skip rest periods or work consecutively for an unsafe or chronically stressful number of hours.

Monitor Manager-Employee Relationships

Studies typically show that a high percentage of workplace happiness or misery results from the health and strength of boss-employee relationships. If you see evidence of a mismatch, bullying, extreme personality conflicts, or other problems that keep exceptional employees under stress or not operating at their full capacity, intervene. Disciplinary action or a transfer may be necessary.

For more on how to keep both acute and chronic background stress from undermining the productivity of your workplace and the health and engagement of your employees, contact the expert staffing team at Lift Temp.

Risk Management: Five Ways to Prevent Workplace Hazards

You may have the strongest and most effective policies in place when it comes to addressing and documenting workplace injuries. When your employees experience any incident, from a fall in an icy parking lot to a malfunctioning pressure valve on a dangerous machine, your HR, safety, and legal teams swoop to the rescue of both the person and the company. But here’s an even better way to deal with workplace incidents: prevent them from happening in the first place. Here are five steps that can derail unfortunate incidents long before they take place.

Perform Regular Audits

Choose simple, easy-to-measure safety metrics that can guide your entire program. Then record these metrics at least once and ideally several times per year. For example: measure the number of falls that occur on your shop floor, the number of hard hat rule violations each quarter, the number of machinery jams per week, or the number of times a cleaning inspection reveals cut corners. Use these metrics to monitor larger problems and address the issues that lie beneath. Too many hard hat violations, for example, can suggest deep flaws or gaps in your safety-gear training program.

Act Quickly and Decisively on Safety Reports

If an employee reports a potentially dangerous chemical leak, a wobbly hand rail, a strange smell, or weak adherence to safety rules on the part of a manager or superior, act on these reports quickly. Don’t allow them to accumulate or go unaddressed. Review your response record, and no matter how swiftly and effectively these complaints are dealt with, find room for improvement.

Update Your Data Platforms

Your reports are filed into your software system after they’re submitted, and you have the ability to call them up and review them at a glance. But can you cross reference different data feeds? Can you review the data in real time? Can you isolate certain metrics from others and determine if there’s a correlation between, for example, cold weather and a rise in PTO days? If you can’t do this with your current system, it may be time for an upgrade.

Refresh Manager Training Programs

Train your managers carefully, and provide refresher training as often as necessary. Not only should managers know how to explain and enforce safety rules (like preflight machinery reviews), they should also set an impeccable example. If they violate a safety rule, cut a corner, or put an employee in harm’s way for any reason, the consequences should be serious and well understood.

Use Digital Monitoring

Keep track of climate conditions, temperature, hazardous fumes, noise levels, vibrations, and other potential dangers with reliable measuring and recording tools. Don’t allow human judgement and human error to determine the definition of a “hazard”.

For more on how to keep your workplace and your employees safe, reach out and arrange a consultation with the experts at Lift Temp.

Partner With a Recruiter to Find Your Next Manufacturing Position

You’re looking for a job in the manufacturing sector, and you’re ready for whatever job search challenges lie ahead. But before you tackle this mountain on your own, consider enlisting the help of a industry-specific recruiter. Professional, established recruiters have dealt with hundreds of job seekers just like you, and if you let them lead the way, they can help you shorten the path to your goals. Here’s how.

Recruiters Work for Their Clients, Not for You

This means that no reputable recruiter will charge you for their help. Since they’re hired to find matching candidates for open positions, their interest is rarely insincere. If you seem like the right match for a given job, they’ll tell you. If not, they won’t sugarcoat a pairing that isn’t likely to pan out. Sometimes it’s easier to trust someone who isn’t asking you for upfront cash.

Recruiters Succeed if you Succeed

Again, since they’re motivated to find great matches and help their manufacturing employers staff open positions and stay on track, recruiters genuinely want you to succeed. Their reputation rides on their ability to present you to their clients and watch you shine. Help them to help you; Always be honest with your recruiter about what you can do, what you’ve done in the past, and what you’re looking for. They will know how to highlight your most important skill sets to the managers who can hire you.

Recruiters Know What Works and What Doesn’t

Experienced recruiters have been immersed in the manufacturing employment arena for years, and as a result of their connections and their deep backgrounds in the field, they have a strong understanding of the traits and credentials that managers tend to look for. They also have a sixth sense about the small details that are commonly viewed as red flags. They know which candidates seem promising on the surface but don’t tend to last very long, and they know which candidates are likely to perform well and thrive on the manufacturing floor.

Recruiters can Help You Edit and Polish Your Resume

Even if a specific open position doesn’t ultimately prove to be a match, the help and guidance you gain from a recruiter can shift your search in a better direction. They can give you pointers on your resume and a few key interview preparation tips that help you forge ahead and land the next position if this one doesn’t work out.

Partnering with a recruiter can help you expand your reach, improve your access to potential employers, and drive your job search forward. For specific career development tips, contact the manufacturing staffing team at Lift Temp .

Health and Safety in the Workplace: Supporting a New Generation

The Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety recently sponsored the first International Youth Congress as part of the triennial World Congress on Health and Safety. Young people from all over the world were represented by the congress, from countries including Japan, Azerbaijan and the UK as well as Canada, and these promising future contributors to the global manufacturing industry were invited to speak and learn about manufacturing issues that impact their generation.

Through a series of educational programs and interactive exercises, the 42 delegates involved in the program gained an opportunity to learn about the global trends that will shape the manufacturing industry in the near future, and they were provided with opportunities to discuss how their generation will drive the industry forward.

Some of the topics that received the most attention dealt with health and safety issues and the programs and policies that protect workers from illness and injury on the job. And within this category, the delegates discussed how current health and safety standards and policies do and don’t apply to the needs of younger workers.

Diversity in Workplace Health and Safety

One of the prominent concerns for health and safety experts can be considered an issue of diversity. Despite policy changes and workplace adaptations designed to benefit “generation Y”, it’s become evident that this generation isn’t defined by a few broad blanket statements and assumptions. The generation currently entering the manufacturing workplace is the most diverse one on record, with employees representing a countless variety of ethnicities, backgrounds, races, genders, and personal histories. A one-size-fits- all approach to worker protection won’t work in the manufacturing industry of the future. Instead, worker protections must be customized to adapt to specific workplace conditions, skill sets, cultural backgrounds and physical requirements.

Will your workplace be ready for a new wave of talented employees with highly specialized skill sets and diverse health and safety needs? Will you know what to do when these talented young applicants arrive at your door?

Maintain Flexible Workplace Policies

Health and safety polices will need to stay flexible and will need to evolve rapidly as the needs of new employees grow and change. Managers and business owners will need to keep pace with new forms of technology that will streamline incident reporting and new forms of safety technology that will protect workers from exposure to dangerous conditions. The new generation of manufacturing talent will appreciate employers who can stay compliant with changing regulations and adapt quickly to an evolving business climate.

For more on how to attract, retain, and protect the health of a younger workforce, contact the staffing experts at Lift Temp.

Workplace Safety: Four Environmental Conditions to Avoid

Workplace hazards can be filed into several categories, including threats that cause immediate injury as well as those that cause harm from long term physical stress or exposure to toxic chemicals. Many dangerous workplace conditions fall into the category of “environmental hazards”; under these conditions, workers are exposed to air quality issues, temperature extremes, and other circumstances that surround them during the working day and may cause serious illness or injury. Four of the most dangerous workplace environmental concerns are listed below—If any of these potentially impact your employees, take a closer look and find ways to avoid the threat or implement stronger protections.

Noise Pollution

Loud, sustained, or stressful sounds can harm employees in three distinct ways: First, a sudden sharp burst of sound can cause trauma to the tympanic membrane or the sensitive anatomy of the inner ear. A traumatic form of hearing loss may be temporary or permanent, and it may be resolved through quick and appropriate medical intervention. Second, long term hearing loss may be equally damaging, and tends to take place when employees are exposed to ambient noise that exceeds safe decibel levels. Sustained stressful sounds can lead to psychological harm as well. All three dangers can often be prevented with proper noise control and policies enforcing the use of protective gear.

Heat Exposure

Employees who work under very hot or humid conditions, especially those who are required to wear uniforms or protective gear that can exacerbate heat stress, must be monitored and protected from hyperthermia, dehydration, and heat exhaustion. Fans and cooling systems can keep air in circulation and keep indoor temperatures down. Employees who work outdoors should be provided with adequate break periods and access to drinking water. Skin protection and shelter from the sun may also be necessary. Employers must take responsibility for providing these resources and enforcing their use.

Cold Exposure

Cold conditions can expose employees to hypothermia, skin damage, and poor judgement which may lead to injury. Like heat exposure, cold-related hazards can be kept at bay with proper indoor climate controls. But under outdoor conditions, employees must be presented with protective clothing, including hats and gloves. Use of protective gear should be monitored and enforced, and break periods should be mandatory.

Light Conditions

Employees who work under low light conditions or outdoors during nighttime hours must be protected from the hazards and injuries that result from compromised vision. Proper traffic signaling and working signal lights on forklifts and shop floor vehicles are a must. But lights at workstations should also be sufficient to prevent employees from harming themselves or others while operating equipment or completing their assigned tasks.

For specific guidance and more information on protecting your employees from environmental threats in the workplace, contact the Ontario staffing team at Lift Temp.