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2014 News and Events

We Are All Busy, Don't Take Shortcuts (posted November 14, 2014)

We Are All Busy, Don’t Take Shortcuts…

Sometimes we develop better ways of doing things. This is admirable, as long as we do not sacrifice safety. When we take shortcuts, it can lead to trouble.  You can probably think of a lot of unsafe shortcuts (e.g.- standing on a chair instead of getting a ladder,  using the wrong tool for the job, etc.). All of us at one time or another likely risked danger shortcutting rather than taking extra steps to do it the safe way. To prevent accidents do not take shortcuts. Shortcuts can be deadly.

So then, why do we take shortcuts placing safety at stake? It is because of recognition-primed decision making. That is, we base decisions on our past experiences. If we took a shortcut in the past and it worked out, then we continue to take a shortcut.  This is why even successful shortcuts (ones that result in no harm) have a downside.

At the University of Dayton, everyone is responsible for safety and we must pursue it on a daily basis. Safety, at all levels is a common goal we hold high in value and must work together to strengthen. 

If you think you know a better way of doing things, talk it over with your supervisor before you try it in the field. Far too many preventable injuries and illnesses occur in workplaces. We all must go beyond the call of duty to identify unsafe conditions and behaviors, and intervene to correct them. Facilities Management Environmental Health, Safety and Risk Management wants everyone to go home safe at the end of the shift. If you have safety improvement ideas you would like to share, please let us know.  And hey, let’s be careful out there!

Sean Englert, MPA
Life Safety and Loss Prevention Specialist

Safety Leadership (posted on October 1, 2014)

Safety Leadership: Removing cognitive bias from safety decisions: Three steps

Article written by Seb Blair

September 28, 2014

Editor’s Note: Achieving and sustaining an injury-free workplace demands strong leadership. Throughout 2014, experts from Ojai, CA-based consulting firm BST will share their point of view on what leaders need to know to guide their organizations to safety excellence.

Why do good leaders sometimes make bad decisions? The answer has to do with the remarkably complex human brain. Every day, the typical person makes between 2,000 and 10,000 decisions. Unable to cope with all the details of each choice, our brains use shortcuts called cognitive biases. Biases work by choosing based on what has worked before, thereby avoiding having to analyze the merits of an argument every time. While often helpful, cognitive biases can also lead to mistakes – with consequences ranging from the harmless (wearing mismatched clothes) to the catastrophic (allowing high-potential exposures to persist to the point of failure).

If we can learn to spot our own biases, we can understand the impact they have on safety decision-making. More important, we can adopt approaches to minimize them and support better decision-making throughout the organization.

Overcoming cognitive bias
The cognitive bias effect can be characterized as the tendency to make decisions or take actions based on limited acquisition and/or flawed processing of information, self-interest, overconfidence, or attachment to past experience. Among the most common types of cognitive biases are confirmation bias (favoring information that confirms our preconceptions), in-group bias (the perception that your team alone has the right answers), recency bias (ignoring important data for the most recent information) and the halo effect (allowing overall impressions of people to influence unrelated decisions about them and their abilities).

Here are three steps you can take to help overcome biases in yourself and your team:

  1. Raise awareness. Biases are etched into our DNA. Knowing that they exist – and can distort our thinking – will help lessen their impact. Post short articles on notice boards and in newsletters. Educate safety and steering committees on the top five biases without boring them with lengthy, academic descriptions. Present relevant, engaging scenarios that are likely to trigger biases – such as disregarding near misses (“nothing bad happened last time, so it won’t the next”). The objective is to encourage healthy discussion.
  2. Encourage inquiry and dissenting voices. We want people to speak up about safety, and there are many ways to surface concerns (such as near-miss reporting, card systems or sharing concerns with direct supervisors). This practice needs to be deeply rooted in team and company culture. For example, at the senior manager level, choose someone (in advance) at a meeting to argue against the proposition being discussed. Even if he or she is in favor of the decision, they must play devil’s advocate. This encourages people to proactively offer opposing views and challenge conventional wisdom.
  3. Promote collaboration. It’s easier to see biases in others than to see them in ourselves. Cooperation breaks down barriers and exposes entrenched views (“this is the way we do things around here”). What mechanisms do you have in place for sharing ideas and working on initiatives across departments? Could you adapt toolbox talks, safety meetings or town hall meetings to enable colleagues to recognize the characteristics and dangers of cognitive biases?

Better decisions save lives
Our brains take shortcuts to help us through the day. It’s human nature to make the predictable mistakes defined by cognitive biases. We can identify and minimize them, but we need better strategies than simply saying, “I will change this.” It’s the task of every safety leader to identify and understand his or her key “thinking exposures.” Raising awareness about them will help us make better decisions. Start by sharing this article with a colleague. Do it now rather than tomorrow. Don’t fall into the trap of putting it on a to-do list. After all, the longer we wait to address exposures created by cognitive biases, the longer our colleagues remain at risk.

Seb Blair is an executive consultant with global safety consulting firm BST. Based in the United Kingdom, Blair specializes in safety leadership, helping organizational leaders in Europe and beyond lead improvement efforts.

Retrieved on September 30, 2014 from

Managing Safety (posted on August 1, 2014)

Managing Safety: Establishing a Sustainable Safety Culture

Written by Shawn M. Galloway

August 1, 2011  

Organizations in every industry eventually reach an important realization: Safety excellence is equivalent to business excellence.
What follows the realization of the relationship between safety and business excellence is a significant, yet unfocused, increase in the yearning for a “safety culture.”
Whether internal or client-driven, having a desire for such a reality is only the first step. Knowing where to focus your energy is step two. Internalizing the capability to achieve and repeat sustainable results is the final step. Regrettably, most organizations struggle to make it past the first step.

Core Values Cannot Be Delegated
“The way we do things around here,” the most common layman’s definition of culture, reaches into most areas of operations. Like quality or customer service, safety is but one element of your overall organizational or occupational culture. Establishing excellence in any area of operations does not occur if the element is dictated, delegated or becomes the responsibility of a single group or individual. An organization will never reach Six Sigma, a measure of quality excellence, if quality is a managed function. Similarly, companies will struggle to create a sustainable safety culture if it does not become “the way we do things around here.”
Many organizations have removed the phrase “safety is our top priority” from their vernacular and moved towards safety as a core value, largely due to the realization that priorities are competitive and regularly change. Values are something you fight for and only become real when they are reinforced at or near the point of decision. For safety to truly become one of the organization’s core values, it can never be delegated.
Alignment with the Board of Directors
Workers pay attention to what their supervisors, managers and employers pay attention to. This truism works both up and down throughout the organization. Reinforcing values cannot be accomplished without support from the organization’s most senior decision-makers. Unfortunately, many boards of directors establish expectations for specific safety results, leading some of the best-intentioned leaders to turn to manipulation to achieve the targeted metrics.

A common variable found among industry leaders in safety are clear, defined safety roles, responsibilities and expectations, which are established first for C-level executives and then cascaded collaboratively throughout every level in the organization. Over the past 3 years, a series of workshops and follow-up for board members to establish such cascading expectations for multiple organizations have reported annualized gains in the significant improvement of leading and lagging indicators.
A Transformational Focus
Organizations achieving a culture of safety excellence realize that the value lies not in the quantity of safety efforts, activities or programs, but in the quality and focus of the energy. Accomplishing the wrong objectives in the most efficient manner possible is an obvious waste of time. Yet the average organization continues to push safety efforts, reactively and proactively, at the wrong target. Organizations finding themselves on the tipping point of excellence in safety culture and performance do not recognize such gains just by increasing safety efforts, but by applying them in the right direction.
For companies that are serious about achieving safety excellence, having a clear and concise direction for efforts becomes the epicenter of their efforts. What one thing, if focused on over the next 90 days, would provide transformative improvement? While this might appear like an abstract strategy, hundreds of organizations have benefited from such a change in thinking. Many industry leaders maintain a focus on small incremental improvements over time; the outliers perpetually identify transformational targets. (Mathis, Terry L., Managing Safety: “S.T.E.P.S. (Strategic Targets for Excellent Performance in Safety).”)
Visible Results and Accomplished Goals
Multiple studies have confirmed what many have intuitively known all along: Visible progress towards established goals is a more effective motivator than money or personal recognition for the average worker in a world-class operation. As organizations significantly improve safety, the incident data, once vital, starts to lose the statistical significance valued by the organization. Companies cannot base proactive efforts on random trends; moving toward achievement metrics and away from failure metrics becomes increasingly vital.

Working with hundreds of safety committees has led to the discovery of a significant opportunity that can be leveraged in the workplace: bragging. While this runs the risk of sounding egotistical, experience has demonstrated that if people do not know of your team’s successes, why would they want to support you or join in the fight? The most frequently found barrier to employee participation is perception of ineffectiveness, due largely to lack of knowledge of successes. How many safety committee successes can your employees remember? Work aggressively to ensure that any employee, when asked, can name three important accomplishments born from the recent safety efforts of your organization. Without this, the vital ownership and participation will continue to suffer.
Measurement is Friendly
Are those items that are being measured getting managed? Or are those measurements producing fear, avoidance behavior or manipulation? Organizations will experience barriers in achieving excellence due to the wrong measurement indicators. Simply put, we tend to measure what we do not desire, rather than what we want. When attention largely is concentrated on understanding the dreaded events that occurred, it is natural for our human emotional defense mechanisms to deploy. Someone is blamed.
Measurement needs to be viewed as a tool that helps us, rather than one that prompts mistrust. How do employees currently view measurement? Does performance feedback excite them, or do they fear it? Fear around measurement requires prompt attention, as it is pivotal to the ability to move the organization towards transformation.
Programs Inherently Lead to Pushback
Transforming a culture always will be different for each organization. Thus, the need for the internal capability to focus, achieve results, celebrate and re-focus is critical. Dependency on external assistance for programs and processes should diminish over time.

Sustainable safety cultures do not come in a box. There are no magical formulas, silver bullets or other mysterious methodologies one can purchase that create a desirable outcome. Creating a culture that provides sustainable value, and continues to focus on value-add, only occurs through a crystal-clear aligned focus and internal passion for excellence at all levels of an organization.

Creating a sustainable safety culture is not about what you do; it is how you do it. You know your culture. Rather than trying to first change your operations to fit a program, make the approach fit your operations. It shouldn’t be surprising that this is the most effective and sustainable approach to achieve sustainable value-add for your operations. This will put you on the path to establishing a sustainable safety culture.

Shawn Galloway is the president and COO of ProAct Safety, an international safety excellence firm. As an executive safety coach, motivational speaker and advisor and strategist, he has assisted hundreds of international organizations to achieve and sustain excellence in safety, culture and operational performance. He also is the host of the highly acclaimed weekly podcast series, Safety Culture Excellence. He can be reached at 800-395-1347 or

Retrieved on Aug 14, 2014 from

Off-the-Job Eye Safety (posted on July 2, 2014)

Keeping Off-the-Job Eye Safety in Your Sights

Phil Johnson

June 18, 2010

Promoting off-the-job eye safety is a benefit everyone can see.

The proper use of safety eyewear significantly has reduced the number of eye injuries in the workplace over the last 20 years. Today, workplace eye injuries average 800,000 per year, and that number continues to drop. This success is due to a number of factors including regulation by OSHA, improved product offerings and better-informed safety professionals.

Unfortunately, the same cannot be said about off-the-job eye safety. Eye injuries occurring at home average a startling 125,000 per year – a number that’s on the rise. Common household dangers are present everywhere, from the bathroom to the garage and even the backyard. Fortunately, experts agree that more than 90 percent of all eye injuries can be prevented through the proper knowledge, safety practices and use of protective eyewear.

By encouraging workers to bring safety practices from the workplace into the home, you can improve off-the-job eye safety. Suggest that workers conduct an audit of the potential hazards around their homes and share the guidelines below. Your work force will be better equipped to avoid injury, you’ll help decrease lost time at work and you can help protect employees’ vision – a benefit everyone can see.

Outdoor Hazards

As summer draws near, consider the many common – and often unrecognized – eye hazards outside the home. Rocks, branches, debris and dust, as well as ultraviolet exposure, all can pose significant risks to unprotected eyes.

Before mowing, inspect the lawn and remove debris and rocks that could kick up. Cut back limbs that rest at eye level. When trimming or performing other tasks that could produce airborne debris, wear safety eyewear to protect eyes from flying limbs, particles and dust.

Regular sunglasses do not offer the same level of impact protection as safety eyewear, so remind your workers to look for eyewear marked with Z87+ on the frame and lens, which indicates that the eyewear meets the requirements of the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). When applying fertilizer and pesticide, chemical goggles should be worn to protect from particle contamination and splashes. Store paint, oil, fertilizer and other chemicals in a secure, ventilated area where they cannot be tipped over or accessed by children or animals. Finally, maintain tools to ensure proper performance, just as you would at work.

Whether you’re outside for brief periods or all day, protecting your eyes from the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays is critical. While brief stints in intense UV light can cause redness, itching and general irritation, long-term exposure to UV can lead to lasting damage such as glaucoma, cataracts and macular degeneration. Lenses that provide full spectrum UV protection can prevent such damage and come in many forms including polarized, photochromic, tinted and reflective. Polarized lenses reduce surface glare from water, snow and roadways, while photochromic lenses quickly transition from clear to dark when exposed to natural light. All UV-filtering lenses help shield eyes from harmful rays and diminish glare that can cause distractions. No matter which style of eyewear you choose for outdoor wear, be sure the lenses deliver a high level of UV protection.

Indoor hazards

While the trend of “do-it-yourself projects” is gaining in popularity, such projects can expose individuals to unfamiliar challenges and increased risks. Many do-it-yourself projects take place inside the home and may involve rented tools or cramped workspaces.

Encourage your employees to protect themselves by reading and following the safety guidelines on tools. For many home-based projects, a basic pair of well-fitting safety eyewear will provide protection from impact. However, consider the hazards specific to the job to determine whether goggles or even respiratory protection are required, as in the case of high-particulate projects like sanding drywall.

Finally, encourage your workers to keep single-use eyewash bottles on hand at home to safely flush nuisance irritants such as dust and sand.

Chemical hazards

Be aware that many everyday household products are hazardous, especially when they make contact with the eyes. When using any solvents, detergents or other household chemicals, chemical safety goggles should be worn. Designed to provide complete protection from splashes and harmful vapors, chemical goggles protect the eyes by creating a seal with the face; regular eyeglasses do not offer an adequate level of protection.

Contact with acids and alkalis particularly is hazardous to the eyes and can cause severe damage. Acids commonly found in household cleaners include hydrochloric acid, nitric acid, sulfuric acid, phosphoric acid and oxalic acid. Products such as drain cleaners, toilet bowl cleaners, metal cleaners and battery fluid often contain such acids. Alkalis commonly exist in household chemicals such as lime, lye, industrial-strength ammonia, potassium hydroxide, sodium hydroxide and calcium hydroxide. Products that are labeled as drain cleaners, oven cleaners, bathroom cleaners or industrial cleaners should be assumed to contain alkali until proven otherwise, though household bleach and household ammonia typically are weak alkalis that won’t cause harm.

Avoid mixing cleaning agents, and read and follow all manufacturer instructions and warning labels. Many labels include instructions for flushing eyes for 15 minutes in case of emergency. If you’re using such a product and it comes in contact with the eye, it is advisable to seek medical attention immediately following irrigation. If chemical contact with the eyes is left untreated, it can cause serious, lasting damage including permanent vision loss.

Selecting Safety Eyewear

Studies show that individuals are less likely to wear protective eyewear when it does not fit properly, is uncomfortable or causes even minor vision distortion. Fortunately, a broad selection of protective eyewear styles, sizes and colors is available today to meet the safety and comfort needs of every individual.

By raising awareness of the many options available, safety managers can help their employees find the protective eyewear that works for them – and improve eye safety both on and off the job. Companies that recognize the value of home safety as an extension of their overall safety culture can benefit from conducting workplace training on home safety and even offering safety equipment for use at home.

Like the workplace, home is not necessarily a safe haven for our eyes. Consider your workers’ safety both on and off the job to help keep overall injuries and health care costs down, keep productivity up and empower employees to live in a culture of safety everywhere they go.

Phil Johnson is director of technology for the Eye & Face Protection Group of Honeywell Safety Products. He has worked extensively in the area of product development for a variety of applications including industrial safety, laser safety and military combat protection. He has directed research in lens technology, particularly optics and light management. Johnson is a member of several standards development groups including the ANSI Z87.1 Committee for Occupational Eyewear.

Retrieved on July 2, 2014 from

Keeping Cool in the Heat (posted on June 1, 2014)

Mayo Clinic Staff

May 16, 2014  

Stay safe during hot-weather exercise by drinking enough fluids, wearing proper clothing and timing your workout to avoid extreme heat.

Whether you're running, playing a pickup game of basketball or going for a power walk, take care when the temperatures rise. If you exercise outdoors in hot weather, use these common-sense precautions to prevent heat-related illnesses.

How heat affects your body
Exercising in hot weather puts extra stress on your body. If you don't take care when exercising in the heat, you risk serious illness. Both the exercise itself and the air temperature increase your core body temperature. To help cool itself, your body sends more blood to circulate through your skin. This leaves less blood for your muscles, which in turn increases your heart rate. If the humidity also is high, your body faces added stress because sweat doesn't readily evaporate from your skin. That pushes your body temperature even higher.

Heat-related illness
Under normal conditions, your skin, blood vessels and perspiration level adjust to the heat. But these natural cooling systems may fail if you're exposed to high temperatures and humidity for too long, you sweat heavily and you don't drink enough fluids. The result may be a heat-related illness. Heat-related illnesses occur along a spectrum, starting out mild but worsening if left untreated. Heat illnesses include:

Heat cramps. Heat cramps are painful muscle contractions, mainly affecting the calves, quadriceps and abdominals. Affected muscles may feel firm to the touch. Your body temperature may be normal.Heat exhaustion. With heat exhaustion, your body temperature rises as high as 104 F (40 C) and you may experience nausea, vomiting, headache, fainting, weakness and cold, clammy skin. If left untreated, this can lead to heatstroke.Heatstroke. Heatstroke is a life-threatening emergency condition that occurs when your body temperature is greater than 104 F (40 C). Your skin may be hot, but your body may stop sweating to help cool itself. You may develop confusion and irritability. You need immediate medical attention to prevent brain damage, organ failure or even death.

Pay attention to warning signs
During hot-weather exercise, watch for signs and symptoms of heat-related illness. If you ignore these symptoms, your condition can worsen, resulting in a medical emergency. Signs and symptoms include:

Muscle crampsNausea or vomitingWeaknessHeadacheDizzinessConfusion

If you develop any of these symptoms, you must lower your body temperature and get hydrated. Stop exercising immediately and get out of the heat. If possible, have someone stay with you who can help monitor your condition. Remove extra clothing or sports equipment. Drink fluids — water or a sports drink. If possible, fan your body or wet down your body with cool water. If you don't feel better within 30 minutes, contact your doctor. If you have signs of heatstroke, seek immediate medical help.

Once you've had heatstroke, you're at a higher risk of getting a heat illness again. Get cleared by your doctor before you return to exercise if you've had heatstroke.

How to avoid heat-related illnesses
When you exercise in hot weather, keep these precautions in mind:

Watch the temperature. Pay attention to weather forecasts and heat alerts. Know what the temperature is expected to be for the duration of your planned outdoor activity.Get acclimated. If you're used to exercising indoors or in cooler weather, take it easy at first when you exercise in the heat. As your body adapts to the heat over the course of one to two weeks, gradually increase the length and intensity of your workouts.Know your fitness level. If you're unfit or new to exercise, be extra cautious when working out in the heat. Your body may have a lower tolerance to the heat. Reduce your exercise intensity and take frequent breaks.Drink plenty of fluids. Dehydration is a key factor in heat illness. Help your body sweat and cool down by staying well hydrated with water. Don't wait until you're thirsty to drink. If you plan to exercise intensely or for longer than one hour, consider a sports drink instead of water. Sports drinks can replace the sodium, chloride and potassium you lose through sweating. Avoid alcoholic drinks because they can actually promote fluid loss.Dress appropriately. Lightweight, loose fitting clothing helps sweat evaporate and keeps you cooler. Avoid dark colors, which can absorb heat. If possible, wear a light-colored, wide-brimmed hat.Avoid midday sun. Exercise in the morning or evening, when it's likely to be cooler outdoors. If possible, exercise in shady areas — or do a water workout in a pool.Wear sunscreen. A sunburn decreases your body's ability to cool itself.Have a backup plan. If you're concerned about the heat or humidity, stay indoors. Work out at the gym, walk laps inside the mall or climb stairs inside an air-conditioned building.Understand your medical risks. Certain medical conditions or medications can increase your risk of a heat-related illness. If you plan to exercise in the heat, talk to your doctor about precautions.

 Heat-related illnesses are largely preventable. By taking some basic precautions, your exercise routine doesn't have to be sidelined when the heat is on.

Retrieved on June 4, 2014 from

Distracted Driving Is Deadly (posted on May 16, 2014)

Distracted driving is any activity which diverts attention while driving. Distractions are dangerous to drivers, passengers, and bystanders. Common distractions include: texting, using a cellphone, eating and drinking, talking to passengers, grooming, reading, looking at maps, using navigation systems, watching videos, and adjusting the radio, CD player or MP3 player. Because text messaging requires visual, manual, and cognitive attention from the driver, it is by far the most deadly distraction.

Over 3,300 people are killed and 421,000 more are injured in crashes each year because of distracted driving. At any given moment, approximately 660,000 U.S. drivers are using cell phones or manipulating electronic devices while driving. Five seconds is the average time that the driver’s eyes are off the road while texting. At 55mph, that's long enough to travel the length of a football field.  One out of every four motor vehicle crashes involves cellphone use.

Hands-free cell phone use is not substantially safer than hand-held use. Talking on cellphones requires the brain to multitask – a process it cannot do safely while driving. More than 30 scientific studies have proven that cellphone use while driving not only impairs driving performance, but it also weakens the brain’s ability to capture driving cues. Drivers who use cell phones have a tendency to “look at” but not “see” up to 50% of the information in their driving environment. A form of inattention blindness occurs, which results in drivers having difficulty monitoring their surroundings, seeking and identifying potential hazards, and responding to unexpected situations.  Most states, including Ohio, have legislation allowing hands-free devices while driving, giving the false impression that hands-free phones are a safe alternative, when the evidence is clear they are not.

The University of Dayton (UD) Vehicle Use and Driver Training Policy prohibits employees, students and volunteers from texting or using earphones for electronic devices while driving UD owned, donated, or leased vehicles, including utility vehicles, rental vehicles and personal vehicles for UD business.  The policy also requires drivers to complete online training, sign a “Vehicle Use Statement of Agreement,” and undergo a Bureau of Motor Vehicles record check as a prerequisite to driving.

Now that you know some facts about distracted driving, make a pledge to keep our roadways safe by driving distraction free. For more information about distracted driving, vehicle use and driver training, talk to your supervisor, check the Environmental Health and Safety/Risk Management Website or give us call at X94503. And hey, let’s be careful out there!

Sean Englert, MPA
Life Safety and Loss Prevention Specialist

Accident Prevention - Slips, Trips and Falls (posted on February 3, 2014)

As the weather turns cold and snowy, it is important to be aware of the conditions and take your time when walking around campus.  Second only to motor vehicle accidents, slips, trips and falls are the most frequent accidents leading to personal injury (head and back injuries, broken bones, cuts and sprains).  In fact, the Bureau of State Risk Management has identified slips, trips and falls as one of the top five causes of workers' compensation claims over the last six years.    

A slip occurs when there is too little traction or friction between the shoe and walking surface and can result in a loss of balance.  A trip occurs when a person’s foot contacts an object in their way or drops to a lower level unexpectedly, causing them to be thrown off-balance.  Trips most often results in a person falling forward, whereas, slips most often results in the person falling backward.

There are many situations that can cause slips, trips, and falls, such as wet or slippery surfaces (grease spots, polished floors, loose flooring or carpeting, loose gravel), environmental conditions (ice and wet spots), insufficient or inadequate lighting, changes in elevation (uneven walking surfaces, bumps, potholes, curbs), climbing or descending stairs or ladders and poor housekeeping (clutter, electrical cords, open desk drawers

However, most of these incidents are preventable with general precautions and safety measures.  The best way to prevent injuries such as these is to be aware of where you are going and pay attention to your walking surface.  Report even a minor fall as it could prevent someone from experiencing a more serious injury down the line.

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Margie Keenan

St. Marys Hall 301