Workplace hazards exist in government agencies. No matter how much you hear “safety is a core value” is expressed. I read a complaint from an employee who is assigned to work on a Delivery Bar Code Sorter (DBCS). This machine requires two (2) people to efficiently operate. Practically every night, Katherine Day is not assigned a partner.
Ever so often, a partner is assigned with her but relocated to another machine to help others during the course of the night. Ms. Day is alone to process the work. Again, workplace hazard exists in government agencies.
Moreover, the kind of equipment employees engage every night is highly and physically demanding work. Employees stand all night as a prerequisite of the job. And this is demanding in and of itself.
Then the crucial challenge of fewer injuries is to provide a partner every night on each DBCS. Muscular stress is a problem over time and this is where ergonomics must be considered. Outcomes that recognize the priorities of workers such as improving workplace hazards reduce health care costs and maintain job performance.
Let us review how hazards are viewed for better comprehension as a layperson. Moreover, hazards can be classified in several ways. One of these ways is by specifying the origin of the hazard. One key concept in identifying a hazard is the presence of the risk factors. Hence, an event caused by interaction with a hazard is called an incident.
Therefore, the likely severity of the undesirable consequences of an incident associated with a hazard is imminent. Also considering the combined probability of this occurring, constitute the associated risk. And if there is no possibility of a hazard contributing to an incident, there is no risk.
There is a Way to Keep Safe at Work
Ironically, most agencies often find a hazard in need of a fix after an incidence occurs. But the idea of safety should be about predicting in advance where to focus your safety and health resources to prevent injuries. Additionally, most government agencies lack in lagging indicators to track when a safety and health problem will occur but often catching it after it’s too late.
So, this post is designed to help anyone learn to become proactive, preventive, and use predictive measures to drive change. Since employees are not authorized to select a partner, it is a management responsibility to ensure employees are safe by scheduling and following through to assign each employee on the DBCS equipment a partner all night, every night without fail.
Hence, with the number of older people in the population, the proportion of older to younger workers exists in most government agencies. Even though people are living longer, they need to continue working at an older age is commonplace. In fact, older workers are generally safer workers. They are less likely to engage in risky behaviors than their younger counterparts. And the accumulated years of job knowledge and work experience translates to understanding workplace hazards and common hazard controls.
Workplace Hazards can be prevented
In addition, ergonomic hazards are physical conditions that may pose a risk of injury to the musculoskeletal system. For example, musculoskeletal disorders on older workers may be more extreme than on younger workers but the effect of stress is the same for both groups. Parts of the body include muscles or ligaments of the lower back and tendons. More specifically nerves of the hands/wrist, or bones surrounding the knees. The idea is to reduce or eliminate risk factors such as awkward positions of clearing fuller stackers when a partner is present.
In as much as ergonomic hazards include awkward or extreme hand/arm vibrations, poorly designed equipment (pie racks) or workstations can cause injury. Additionally, with repetitive motions, all of these can contribute to ergonomic injury over time.
Furthermore, the ergonomic workplace hazards associated with working alone is excessive twisting, bending, and pulling. Other stressful repetitive hand motions and stress on shoulders and lower back will cause injury. Over time this practice could cause a tawdry of problems for employees. Ergonomic hazards are just as unsafe as slip, trip, and fall incidents.
Outwardly, grievances are filed on working alone through the union but grievances are a churning process. Also, the National Business Agents for the Union provided language that the practice of working alone was indeed a violation according to the National Agreement. Accordingly, with the efforts of Ms. Day filling a PS Form 1767 to report the hazardous practice so management could remedy the unsafe working condition in a timely manner, she continued to document working alone.
However, the practice continued well beyond the 15-day window to correct the problem. At this point, what would be the next course of action? Correct, contact OSHA who is the regulator of ensuring safe working conditions for employees in government agencies. Not only of the ergonomically hazardous practice of working alone but all hazardous practices ignored by management.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is the agency of the United States Department of Labor was established under the OSH Act and signed into law on December 29, 1970. Their mission is to ensure safe and healthy working conditions for working men and women by setting and enforcing standards. As well as providing training, education, and assistance to those agencies, not in compliance.
In fact, the practice continued well beyond the 15-day window to correct the problem on the PS Form 1767. At this point, what would be the next course of action? Correct; contact OSHA, the regulator of ensuring safe working conditions for employees in government agencies. Not only have the ergonomically hazardous practices of working alone been disregarded but also most hazardous practices ignored by management. We will discuss other issues next week.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is the agency of the United States Department of Labor was established under the OSH Act and signed into law on December 29, 1970. Their mission is to ensure safe and healthy working conditions for working men and women by setting and enforcing standards. Those standards are disseminated through training, education, and assistance to those agencies, not in compliance.
Moreover, it is relevant in the design of such things as safe machinery and easy to use interfaces to machines and equipment (pie racks) to minimize ergonomic injury. Proper ergonomic design is necessary to prevent repetitive strain injuries and other musculoskeletal disorders that can lead to long-term disability. Thanks to OSHA, American workers have a remedy to ensure they are safe at work despite the “safety is a core value” announcement at the workplace. OSHA makes sure safety happens!
Finally, it has been determined the USPS has violated OSHA’s standards by permitting employees to work alone on the DBCS thereby creating unsafe working conditions. More importantly, the union provides financial restitution to each employee for working under those conditions authenticates the practice is a risk. Don’t let this happen in your workplace. OSHA and your Union document workplace injuries to help employees stay safe and reduce force.