Are Safety Incentive Programs Counter-Productive?

Most companies care about their employees’ safety and sometimes use games like Safety Bingo or signage that reports safety records, like days without an accident, to encourage safe behavior. However, these well-intentioned incentives don’t always improve safety. In fact, using incentive-based prizes that reward employees for working safely may unintentionally lead employees to suppress injury and illness reporting. Underreporting to win prizes has two harmful side effects:

1.Underreporting can slow down hazard identification and resultin misinformed decisions about workplace safety programs andpractices – putting your workplace at risk. A successful safetyprogram may even have a high number of incidents reported.This allows management to target resources and training where itwill do the most good.

2.Discouraging workers from reporting injuries and gettingtreatment early can cause more serious injuries that require timeaway from work to heal. This results in higher workers’ compcosts, injuries that may permanently impact the worker’s return towork and the high cost of turnover.Design a safety program that rewards worker participation and encourages injury and illness reporting.

The following tips may help:

  • Reward employees who identify hazards orparticipate in investigations of injuries, incidents or close calls.
  • Revise your incentive program if any part of it is deterring injury and illness reporting.
  • Create a policy that prohibits retaliation against employees who report injuries and illnesses.
  • Provide gifts to workers serving on safety and health committees.
  • Play games that test employee knowledge of job hazards and safety practices.
  • Offer modest rewards for employee suggestions that strengthen the safety and health program.
  • Throw a recognition party at the successful completion of company-wide safety and health training.

The Trucking Injury Reduction Emphasis (TIRES) project was developed by the Safety and Health Assessment and Research for Prevention (SHARP) program of Washington’s Department of Labor and Industries.  

The Trucking Injury Reduction Emphasis (TIRES) project team and the TIRES steering committee are working with the Washington State trucking industry to identify causes for the most frequent injuries to develop effective strategies for preventing them. Free safety training materials are available at KeepTruckingSafe.org.

The TIRES steering committee is made up of a diverse group of professionals that includes: drivers, safety people from large and small trucking companies, labor and business associations, insurers and a representative from a publicly funded truck driving school.

Funded in part by a grant from CDC NIOSH 5 U60 OH 008487. The contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of CDC/NIOSH.

Washington Service Corps Volunteers to Stipend Increase Next Year

Washington Service Corps volunteers to see nearly 11 percent stipend increase next year

Volunteers serving in the Washington Service Corps next year will receive the second highest living allowance of all AmeriCorps members in the state.

Increased funding from both the Employment Security Department, which administers the Service Corps program, and from community organizations which host the volunteers will bring member stipends to $1,450 per month.

“The cost of living has increased significantly in the last few years, and we were looking for ways to respond,” said James Trujillo, director of the Washington Service Corps, a program under the national AmeriCorps umbrella. “We want community service to be viable for everyone, no matter their economic background. This increase is an improvement, but we recognize we have to do more.”

The only other AmeriCorps program in Washington with a higher stipend is the Washington Conservation Corps, which gives its members about $1,840 per month.

Stipend levels for AmeriCorps volunteers vary across the country. The federal Corporation for National and Community Service funds 80 percent. The state as well as local public and private organizations that host volunteers make up the difference. They also pay for other member expenses and operational costs.

“This stipend increase helps to support the outstanding efforts of our Washington Service Corps members,” said Employment Security Commissioner Suzi LeVine. “Our volunteers help meet crucial needs in under-resourced communities across the state. The impact of their service should not be underestimated.”

The announcement about the stipend increase was announced in time to celebrate the nationwide AmeriCorps Week March 10-16.

Next year’s increase will be the biggest, but not the first in Washington Service Corps history. From 2015 to 2017, the Service Corps stipend totaled $12,548 for 10 ½ months of service, if the member completes the full term. In 2017, the stipend went up to $12,630 and in 2018 to $13,732. For the 2019-2020 program year, the total stipend will be $15,225.

In addition to this increase, members anywhere in the state could see an additional raise next year if their service organizations choose a contract option allowing them to pay more to all members serving at their sites. The total amount of the increase would go directly to members, Trujillo said.

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Tips and Service Charges – Rules for Payment to Workers

The Department of Labor & Industries (L&I) has released the final version of the tips, gratuities, and service charges policy. You can find it on the Workplace Rights/Employment Standards Administrative Policies webpage. This policy includes updates based on feedback received on two draft versions last fall.

I-1433 created new requirements in the Washington Minimum Wage Act (RCW 49.46.020(3)) for employers to pay tips, gratuities, and service charges to their employees. During the rulemaking process for I-1433, L&I committed to developing administrative policies like this one and providing opportunities for input. These policies are intended to help employers understand how to interpret and apply the law.

The final policy language defines tips, tip pools and service charges and outlines requirements for payment to workers.  The policy also adds the requirement that facilities that add a mandatory tip or service charge disclose to their customers the amount of the charge that will be shared with the worker, if any.  This information must be presented in a restaurant menu and/or on an invoice or receipt. 

Examples of appropriate disclosure statements:

Restaurant menu

  • A service charge of ___% / $___ will be added to your bill. ___% of this service charge is paid to the employee or employees who served you today.

OR

  • A service charge of ___% / $___ will be added to your bill. 100% of this service charge is retained by [Business Name].

OR

  • A mandatory gratuity of ___% / $___ will be added to your bill for parties of ___ or more. ___% of this service charge is paid to the employee or employees who served you today.

OR

  • A mandatory gratuity of ___% / $___ will be added to your bill. 100% of this mandatory gratuity is retained by [Business Name].

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Seattle’s Battery Street Tunnel to be Filled

As part of the Alaskan Way Viaduct Removal Program, the Battery Street Tunnel will be decommisioned and filled to effect the permanent closure of the tunnel. With the Alaskan Way Viaduct closed, SR 99 no longer runs through the Battery Street Tunnel. Like the viaduct, the tunnel was built in the 1950s and is seismically vulnerable. Any new or continued use of the tunnel would require prohibitively expensive renovations. Closing the Battery Street Tunnel also allows WSDOT to rebuild the three-block stretch of Aurora Avenue at the tunnel’s north end, improving east-west mobility in that neighborhood.

Contractor Kiewit Infrastructure West Co., began demolishing the Alaskan Way Viaduct on Feb. 15. Over the course of approximately six months, they will use large machinery to crunch, munch and cut the structure into pieces to be hauled away by truck. When the viaduct is gone, the City of Seattle will begin work on a new surface street and public open space along the waterfront.

The work of filling and sealing the Battery Street Tunnel began on on Feb. 12, 2019 and is scheduled to be complete in late 2020. The major elements of this work are:

  • Decommissioning and removing the tunnel’s utility and mechanical systems.
  • Removing hazardous materials from the tunnel.
  • Filling the tunnel and sealing its entrances.
  • Street restoration along Battery Street, including sidewalk improvements, new curb ramps, street lighting and other pedestrian improvements.

The tunnel will be filled in two phases, with material brought into the tunnel both from its south entrance and through grates along Battery Street above. Crews will partially fill the tunnel with viaduct removal rubble and then will pump in low-density cellular concrete from above to complete the fill.

Questions? Call the 24/7 program hotline at 1-888-AWV-LINE (298-5463) or send an email to viaduct@wsdot.wa.gov.

What is Ahead for the Colman Dock Project

One way to beat the snowy cold weather is to dream of balmy days on the waterfront. Here’s a look ahead at mid-2019 when the project will reach some major milestones, like opening a portion of the new terminal building and the new passenger-only ferry facility! There’s still a lot of work to go on this complex project that will be complete in early 2023. While there continues to be changes throughout the project, full ferry service will be maintained during construction.

Inside design rendering of the passenger-only ferry facility

Starting in early summer, the new passenger-only ferry facility will open at the south side of the dock, complete with a new weather-protected queueing area. The King County Water Taxi and Kitsap Transit Fast Ferry will run their service out of this new facility.

Map layout of Colman Dock this summerLater on in the sunshine season, the ferry service will move into part of the new terminal building and demolish the existing building. Temporary elevated walkways will connect the Marion Street Bridge to the new building.

Photo/Image credits: Washington State Department of Transportation

Jeld-Wen to Close Yakima, WA Location – 179 Jobs Lost

Jeld-Wen Windows and Doors, headquartered in Charlotte, NC, has notified WA State that they are closing their Yakima location effective April 5, 2019, terminating the employment of 179 workers.  Jeld-Wen has indicated they have a policy to assist employees who wish to transfer to their other locations. 

On their website, JELD-WEN notes that they employ approximately 21,000 people worldwide and have manufacturing, distribution and showroom locations across the United States and in 24 countries, located primarily in North America, Europe and Australia. Although 179 jobs is a small amount in that context, it is a lot of people losing good jobs in Yakima.

Photo credit: Jeld-Wen

Increased Penalties Under the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act

Industry Notice regarding increased civil monetary penalties under the Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act Improvements Act of 2015 (Inflation Adjustment Act)

The Department of Labor promulgated a final rule on January 23, 2019 adjusting penalties under the Inflation Adjustment Act.  The rule makes the following adjustments to penalties assessed by the Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs (OWCP) under the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act:

  • Section 14(g) of the LHWCA: Failure to Report Termination of Payments.The penalty amount has increased from $285 to $292.
  • Section 30(e) of the LHWCA: Penalty for Late Report of Injury or Death.The maximum penalty amount has increased from $23,426 to $24,017.
  • Section 49 of the LHWCA: Discrimination Against Employees Who Bring Proceedings. The penalty amount has increased from a $2,343 minimum and a $11,712. maximum to a $2,402 minimum and $12,007 maximum.

Industry Notice 171, which is available on the OWCP, Division of Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation (DLHWC) website at https://www.dol.gov/owcp/dlhwc/ outlines the adjustments in detail. The new amounts apply to penalties assessed after January 23, 2019.

 

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Agriculture Safety Event in Eastern Washington

Agriculture is one of Washington’s largest industries. Unfortunately, it continues to have one of the highest injury rates. The state is working to change that with upcoming workplace safety events geared specifically toward agricultural workers and management.

To meet the growing safety and health training needs, Washington’s 2019 Agriculture Safety Day events will be held in two locations.

This year, for the first time, the Kennewick conference was held at the Three Rivers Convention Center on Feb. 5. It returns to the Wenatchee Convention Center Feb. 27. Registration is now open online for the Wenatchee event.

Reducing hazards is good for workers, and it makes good business sense. The one-day meetings promote workplace safety and health.

The topics covered during the safety day events are specifically geared to hazards that employers and workers say are the most important. The training is cosponsored by the Governor’s Industrial Safety and Health Advisory Board and the Department of Labor & Industries (L&I).

This year’s agenda features sessions on tractor and ATV safety, confined spaces, machine guarding, hazard awareness, sexual harassment prevention, distracted driving and more. Many workshops will be in both English and Spanish.

Some classes qualify for pesticide recertification credits. Check the registration web page for details. Several health and safety exhibitors will also be there with educational booths, product displays and demonstrations.

Online pre-registration is $75 per person or $65 for groups of five or more. Students and apprentices get a discounted rate of only $35. Admission at the door is $85. The registration fee includes the conference and lunch.

Register now for Wenatchee 2/27/2019: https://www.eiseverywhere.com/ehome/376831

For more information, contact Conference Manager Rebecca Llewellyn at 1-888-451-2004.

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WA Farm Worker was Severely Burned When a Drum Exploded

The Washington Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation (FACE) Program* has published a new Injury Narrative. The new narrative describes an incident where a farm worker was severely burned when a drum exploded. 

For your convenience, this narrative is also available as a Slideshow intended to be used as a group discussion and training tool.

These are one-page reports that summarize work-related injury incidents and list some requirements and recommendations that might have prevented the incident from occurring. We are focusing on theagriculture industry. These narratives provide preliminary information about the incident to the interested community, similar to OSHA’s Fatal Facts and MSHA’s Fatalgrams. We hope that they are used for formal or informal educational opportunities to help prevent similar incidents.

*The FACE Program is partially funded by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH grant# 5 U60 OH008487-11) and the Safety and Health Assessment and Research for Prevention (SHARP) Program at the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries. The contents of the Fatality Narratives are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of NIOSH.

 

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Multiple Asbestos Violations Result in Nearly $800,000 in Fines

Improper and unsafe handling of asbestos at a Seattle area home-flipping site put workers and neighbors at risk, and has left two business owners and their companies facing numerous citations and hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines from the Department of Labor & Industries (L&I).

James Thorpe, Northlake Capital & Development, 3917 Densmore LLC, and Chris Walters have each been cited for 11 willful and serious violations. In total, the fines for the four separate investigations add up to $789,200.

“These two men endangered their workers and people who live nearby this project, including children,” said Anne Soiza, L&I’s assistant director for the Division of Occupational Safety and Health. “On top of that, they tried to avoid responsibility by creating a legal web of confusion over who was responsible. I hope this sends a strong message that we take worker safety and public health very seriously.”

L&I opened the inspection following a complaint from an alert neighbor living near the residential renovation project on Densmore Road in Lynnwood. Several workers were improperly removing exterior asbestos tiles from the home over a weekend. When a neighbor confronted Chris Walters, the man who said he was the homeowner, Walters promised to remove the asbestos correctly. However, two neighbors took videos that showed the workers committing several violations.

An extensive investigation by L&I revealed that Walters was actually part of a complex corporate partnership created to renovate and flip the residence.

The home was initially purchased by Seattle company Northlake Capital & Development, owned by James Thorpe. Northlake is a real property company that primarily focuses on house flipping. After the purchase, Thorpe created 3917 Densmore LLC and established Walters, a Northlake employee, as the sole member of the new corporation, claiming that Walters was the homeowner, and that he intended to live in the home.

During parts of the investigation Walters and Thorpe shifted responsibility from LLC to LLC and from person to person. Eventually, L&I cited both men and the companies they oversee for the same violations. The fines vary, primarily due to the number of workers each entity was responsible for. Thorpe and Northlake each received $214,100 in fines and Walters and 3917 Densmore each receive $180,500.

The violations included using uncertified workers to remove asbestos; not using a certified asbestos supervisor; and not obtaining an asbestos good faith survey prior to beginning work. They were also cited for not using water and not keeping the shingles intact during removal (the workers were breaking the tiles with hammers); for the lack of proper personal protective equipment for workers; not monitoring the air during removal; and for not having a written accident prevention program.

Asbestos is extremely hazardous and can cause potentially fatal diseases like asbestosis, mesothelioma and lung cancer. Only a certified abatement contractor that follows the specific asbestos related safety and health rules may remove and dispose of asbestos-containing building materials.

An employer has 15 business days from the time a citation is received to appeal, and each of these citations is currently under appeal.

Penalty money paid as a result of a citation is placed in the workers’ compensation supplemental pension fund, helping injured workers and families of those who have died on the job.

For a copy of the citations, please contact Public Affairs at 360-902-5413.

Published by Causey Wright