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Safety tip of the week

Safety tip of the week

How to spot alcohol, drug use in the workplace According to SAMHSA, a federal agency tracking substance abuse, for 2015, there were about 139 million users of alcohol in the USA. Another 24.6 million Americans were illicit drug users, according to estimates. When you combine those numbers, as well as the new Washington law permitting limited marijuana use, there is a great chance that one of your co-workers could be under the influence of some type. Alcohol is the most common abuse issue in the workplace, with marijuana second and then misuse of prescription drugs. Often people under the influence do not adhere to safe practices in the workplace. To recognize warning signs of substance abuse, look for: Frequent disappearances Excessive sick or personal days Uncharacteristic behavior Rollercoaster work performance Difficulty with relationships. Substance abuse in the workplace can be devastating. It can impact an employee’s health and working relationships but also can reduce productivity, increase absences and increase the risk of accidents. Employers should update their substance abuse policies regularly, making sure that alcohol, marijuana, illegal drugs and abuse of prescription drugs are addressed.  For information on how a small business can set a policy, click here. Here is a good web link with tips for dealing with substance abuse problems in the workplace and here is a SAMHSA report for Washington State.  The RASI Safety Library has a section on Alcohol and Drug abuse for more information. WRA employs Rick Means as a Safety Specialist who is available to members to help draw up safety plans and suggest topics for safety meetings. Contact him at 360-943-9198, Ext....
Safety tip of the week

Safety tip of the week

Don’t ignore near accidents Bob was in a hurry to get a product out of the stock room.  Using a ladder that he could not quite position correctly because there was another object in the way, he went up the ladder to retrieve the item. As he was coming down, Bob felt the ladder sliding to the right.  He was able to correct his balance to stop the ladder from sliding any further and made it down to the ground safely. The result was no injury, this time. Scenarios like this happen in different ways, different places and often involve power equipment.  But, the sliding ladder was close to becoming an accident and needs to be addressed so that it doesn’t happen again. Encourage employees to report near accidents so they can be evaluated and result in safety improvements that can be followed. Precautions aren’t required to slow an employee down but rather to keep them healthy and able to work. WRA’s  RASI Safety Library has a section on near accidents that you can use at your Safety Meeting. Rick is available to members to help draw up safety plans and suggest topics for safety meetings. Contact him at 360-943-9198 x18, or...
Safety tip of the week

Safety tip of the week

Hands-Free Office Phone As aging occurs, workers can lose flexibility in their neck, shoulders and upper back. Aging workers who use the telephone a lot at their desks might want to consider making a change. Using a regular telephone handset with your shoulder hunched up and neck kinked over all day could over time can lead to muscle strains, headaches and soreness. Using the hand set for quick intermittent calls is fine, but if you are on the phone a lot, an effective assist would be by using a ‘hands-free’ head set. This allows a worker to maintain proper posture while taking care of customers on the phone. Headsets come in a variety of styles including wireless models. These headsets will also allow for volume adjustment when needed.  With this increase of comfort, employees can be more productive regardless of their age. Rick Means, WRA Safety Specialist, is available to members to help draw up safety plans and suggest topics for safety meetings. Contact him at 360-943-9198 x18, or...
Safety tip of the week

Safety tip of the week

Understand falls to avoid them It’s important to understand falling on the job to avoid having it happen to you. Often, an employee’s health and physical condition can contribute to a fall and possible injury. There also are types of falls to understand. For example, slips and trips can cause falls. Typically, slipping involves insufficient friction on the bottom of your shoes, especially where your heel strikes the ground. This can result in a sliding motion and cause your center of gravity to become unsupported. This can cause you to lose balance and fall. You can also fall by tripping over something you didn’t notice, such as an exposed cord on the floor. Sometimes falls are affected by the health and physical condition impairing a person’s vision, judgment, and balance. This could be related to stress or illness, compromised eyesight, age, physical fatigue, or medications, alcohol or drugs. Analyze your situation and ability by focusing on and watching what you are doing so that you are not distracted to avoid falling. There is more information on this topic for WRA members in the RASI Safety Library. Non-members can visit  RASI Safety TV  and look under Slip Trips Falls. WRA employs Rick Means as a Safety Specialist who is available to members to help draw up safety plans and suggest topics for safety meetings. Contact him at 360-200-6454, or...
Safety tip of the week

Safety tip of the week

Assign new employees an orientation buddy Finding enough time to properly orientate your new employees can be a problem. In the first orientation there can be a lot to cover, including policies and paperwork, in a short period of time. But there is a way to continue the process with orientation buddies.  Every new hire should have an orientation buddy to help him or her get off to a good, safe start. They can show your new workers the safety elements the company has built in including the location of the fire exits and extinguishers; first-aid kits; eyewash stations; chemical safety data sheets and equipment usage.  By imparting safety knowledge along the way, they are having a secondary effect by making the newcomer feel valued, which can lead to a more engaged and productive employee. In order to carry out these important duties successfully, orientation buddies should: Have been with your organization for at least a year. Have a good performance history and a safe work record. Be skilled in the new employee’s job. Possess broad knowledge about your organization, your operations, and your safety programs. Have the time to spend with the new employee and be willing to take on the assignment. Be patient and communicate well. Serve as a positive safety role model. Building relationships through this type of mentoring is another way to ensure that new employees have the resources they need to succeed.  Seasoned employees can help new employees on the job and provide support.  New employees tend to be hesitant about asking questions for fear of appearing incompetent. A company’s orientation program should include...
Safety tip of the week

Safety tip of the week

Orderliness can prevent accidents at work As far as injuries go, the most critical part of workplace housekeeping is keeping items in order. Are tools strewn about, for example, or in their proper place? Managers and employees should check regularly to ensure that aisleways are clear for employees and customers. Some of the benefits of good housekeeping include: Eliminating causes of accidents Preventing wasted energy looking for lost items later on Maintaining good use of available space Reducing damage to goods Encouraging better work habits Reflecting an organized workplace and image Companies should develop a strategy for good housekeeping. During the day, does your staff periodically stop and survey the floors and shelves to see if there are any hazards for staff or customers?  Make a habit of regularly looking over the store and housekeeping will be easier and prevent potential injuries. Consider watching RASI SAFETY TV’s The Accident Cascade video that be shown to start a discussion during a safety meeting. Rick Means, WRA’s Safety Specialist, is available to members to help draw up safety plans and suggest topics for safety meetings. Contact him at 360-943-9198 x18, or...
Safety tip of the week

Safety tip of the week

Have you seen SAFEME? The Washington Retail Association is offering a free web-based and smartphone app to help employers get first-time and young employees off to a safer start in the working world. Many first-time employees get their careers going in retail. SAFEME users can earn basic safety training certificates to augment required safety training from employers. The certificates demonstrate that an entry-level or young worker has a sound understanding of the potential hazards in many different workplaces and how to avoid them. While geared towards retail, the topics can apply to many industries. The lessons include videos and quizzes that demonstrate use of ladders, proper lifting, slips-trips-falls, box knife use and more. The SAFEME app – on the web at www.wrasafeme.org, is available for Apple and Android phones through the app stores.  A two-minute video of how the app works can be seen here. The app is courtesy of a grant from Labor & Industries’ Safety and Health Investment Projects. It is aimed particularly at workers aged 16 to 20 who often sustain workplace injuries due to lack of work experience and preparation.  Additional information and resources about this project can be found here. SAFEME has been viewed/downloaded by hundreds of users in 41states and embraced by educators and businesses alike. Safer employees reduce injuries and workers’ compensation claims. In Washington State, employers and employees contribute toward paying premiums for injury insurance.  As injuries drop, so do insurance costs. WRA’s Rick Means is available to members to assist with L&I safety compliance, to help draw up safety plans and suggest topics for safety meetings. Contact him at 360-943-9198 x18,...
Safety tip of the week

Safety tip of the week

Balance work and family needs before a natural disaster Business owners need to brace for natural disasters to be able to recover quickly and remain in business. But preparing for an earthquake or flood also requires preparations at home. Your business may not run well if a disaster has torn up your family life, or vice versa. Personal preparedness goes hand in hand with business continuity plans for business owners. RASI SAFETY TV has some great videos on how to prepare.  Our Retro members can access even more information in the Safety Library in the Emergency Preparedness section.  Please take some time to review your current personal plan and update it as needed. A personal preparedness plan resembles a business recovery plan: Mitigate: What can you do to make your personal environment safer? Communicate: How will you communicate with loved ones? Do you have an outside-the-area contact set up? Prepare: What are the supplies you need and where will you store them? Don’t forget to arrange for those with special needs in your family; seniors, infants/children and pets. WRA employs Rick Means as a Safety Specialist who is available to members to help draw up safety plans and suggest topics for safety meetings. Contact him at 360-943.9198 x18, or...
Safety tip of the week:

Safety tip of the week:

Aging workers may need lighting adjustments The single largest missing ingredient in workplaces to assist aging workers is proper light and whether it is right for the task at hand. A lighting plan that uses more indirect rays, especially with computer use, creates a better working environment. Using task-specific lighting is important.  This can be accomplished by using table and desk lamps with soft white lights (or filtered clear bulbs) to reduce glare.  Reducing glare contributes to workstation comfort and in the work area will help to minimize falls. Pools of light can distort perception of height and depth that could lead to stumbling or tripping.  Uneven brightness patterns can produce shadows or create the illusion of steps or edges where the light and shadow meet.  In those areas, you should introduce gradual changes in light levels. Each employee and job type needs to be assessed to best accommodate the situation.  The objective is to reduce the possibility of an accident.  Additional information can be found at RASI Safety TV. Our Retro members also can find resources in the RASI Safety Library, in the Aging in the Workplace section. Lighting modifications to adjust or install additional lighting often are simple and affordable. Such changes can help seasoned employees and those who are younger, as well. WRA employs Rick Means as a Safety Specialist who is available to members to help draw up safety plans and suggest topics for safety meetings. Contact him at 360-943-9198, Ext. 18 or...

Mobile technology is changing the workplace

By Tammie Hetrick, VP Retail Services  The influx of cellphones and other mobile technology into the workplace has changed the relationship of employers to employees. Statistics shows how prevalent mobile devices have become and how they’re changing the workplace. During a recent human resources seminar I attended, we learned that: *Apple’s iPhone sales surpassed the birth rate last year. *By the end of last year, cellphones outnumbered the U.S. population. *A vast majority of companies use social media to recruit employees and half may require employees to use their own mobile devices at work within three years. These trends require new demands on employers and employee and the need for clear policies to avoid misunderstandings. One presenter, a former Secret Services agent, told the story of an employee who was carrying a company-owned cellphone while driving drunk in a company car. He got into an accident, but claimed someone had stolen the car from him and caused the accident. The company’s investigation revealed the employee’s texts and cellphone use before the accident meant he must have gotten into the accident and that the car had not been stolen. The company came to this conclusion because despite the employee’s attempts to delete his cellphone use, the data was recoverable and the employee’s cover story did not hold up. This incident illustrates the need for companies to create policies that clarify expectations on the use of company-owned electronic equipment. Attorneys for Lane Powell in Seattle presented a handy mobile device policy checklist that companies should follow in order to defend terminations and protect employees from abusing the privilege of using the...