How Does This Relate To Employee Safety? - 11/10/2014

Safety E-QuickTips

U.S. Compliance Systems, Inc.

Monday, Nov 10, 2014


Safety E-QuickTips is a weekly email designed to help Employers and Employees start their week with a short thought about safety in the workplace.

How Does This Relate To Employee Safety?


The Ebola Virus. It's been in the news for months now with stories about how it has devastated lives in West Africa since December of 2013 to its effect on other countries throughout the world. Early on I was listening to a report that said that the US had nothing to worry about because our government assured that the CDC had this covered. If the virus entered this country we wouldn't have anything to be concerned about because they had procedures in place to prevent the spread of the virus.

So my question to you today is, how is it that a government agency that was letting us know they were on top of this situation approve a person infected with the Ebola virus to travel more than 1000 miles from the state of Texas to my hometown of Tallmadge, Ohio? And on top of that the person who was infected was in the medical field.

Now you may be thinking, how does this relate to employee safety?

The simple answer to this might be to discuss how a hospital employee who was treating an individual with the Ebola virus became infected in the first place. Or to discuss how the hospital could have done a better job of educating its employees on protecting themselves if they were treating a patient with symptoms. Or to discuss what the hospital did to ensure the employee had the proper PPE.

But that's not where I'm going with the Safety E-QuickTip because I'm looking at this from a little different angle and that is . . .

How did a government agency like the CDC, which specializes in disease control, had a complete understanding of the latency period of the Ebola virus, and how it is spread from one individual to another, allow someone who had treated an infected patient to board a plane from Texas to Tallmadge, Ohio without first making sure there was no way she could spread the virus?

Was anyone from the CDC really listening when the infected individual told them she was going to be traveling to a different state right after treating a patient? Or did the agency get the idea that the odds of someone in the US spreading the virus to another individual was so remote that they just didn't think it was a problem?

When we relate the Ebola virus situation to workplace safety, it's easy to see how an employer might get a similar idea and believe that the odds of an employee being seriously injured or killed on the job are slim. But as you can also see from this situation, even with the odds in your favor, the odds may not always be enough to protect your employees.

Real workplace safety is more than just a safety program that sits on the shelf or is locked away in a computer waiting to be opened when and if an accident occurs. It's more than just letting your employees know that they are working in a safe work environment because you've never had a serious accident or fatality. And it's more than assuming your employees should understand how to work safely so they will.

Real workplace safety is about implementing your company safety program in a way that makes it clear to every employee that their safety is important and that your company will do everything possible to keep employees safe, including educating them about workplace hazards, inspecting the workplace for new or existing hazards, and enforcing your safety policies when you see employees not working safely - for their benefit and for the benefit of those they work with.

If the Ebola virus can travel more than 5000 miles from West Africa to a small city like Tallmadge, Ohio, then it's not too farfetched to believe one of your employees could be seriously injured or even killed at your workplace if you don't make every effort to help prevent it.

If you haven't already done so, take the first step in implementing your company safety program this week.

Have you just received your first Safety E-QuickTip or just want to take a look at past issues? Check out our Safety E-QuickTips Archive Page on our website.

Thanks for Reading and Please - Work Safe This Week!

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