November 25, 2007

Wear Your Safety Belt!

By Paul Bieber

A very dear friend of my brother-in-law had an horrendous auto accident Sunday bringing sadness to our Thanksgiving weekend. I have been planning to do some blogs on safety in glass shops and plants and this now is the time to start.

Always wear your seat belts in a moving vehicle. If you are a company owner, insist that all employees wear seat belts at all times. No exceptions. Teach your employees, and your family that seat belts save lives. Sure I have seen that rare newspaper story that talks about how someone was trapped by their seat belt, but I have seen many more about people whose lives were saved by a combination of airbags and seat belts. Forty nine out of fifty states require seat belts (or child seats with belts) for all people in a car. The reason–they work.

The one state out of fifty that doesn’t require belts, you ask? Why it is right here in New Hampshire where the ‘live free or die’ movement says the state can’t tell people what to do. We also don’t require motorcyclists to wear helmets. There is no coincidence that New Hampshire is one of the largest states in medical transplants. The reason is, of course, cycle and car accidents with severe head trauma, leaving organs available for transplant.

Make this a bold type statement in your employee handbook. This is for the employee’s safety; and for you, an employee who is less severely injured will have a lower claim, which has a lower impact on your worker’s comp insurance.

It is your job to make sure every vehicle has working seat belts, and that you have told each employee the importance of this rule. After that, it is up to each person within the company. You should set the tone by always wearing yours.

If you have a forklift, make sure it has a seat belt, and that it is used. Besides being a easy target for an OSHA visit, it just makes good sense when the night shift has their forklift races.

So, if an employee pulls in to your shop and is not wearing his/her seat belt in a company vehicle…warn them, and educate them. Make this rule have teeth. The second offense is a suspension…the third should be a longer suspension, and the fourth becomes termination. No excuses allowed. Don’t listen. This is a black and white situation.