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EPCRA Tier II Reports born from Tragedy

In the early morning of December 3, 1984, a Union Carbide plant near Bhopal, India released approximately forty tons of Methyl Isocyanate (MIC) into the air. The gas quickly diffused over the ground and, in the end, killed, by some estimates, upwards to 5,000 people and injured 50,000 more.

Manage Workers’ Compensation – Improve the Bottom Line

Employers often look at Workers' Compensation as an unavoidable cost of doing business and is frequently ignored when rates are low. It's not until employers experience rate hikes that they really start paying attention to the issue.  We suggest looking at Workers' Compensation as an important tool to improve the bottom line by focusing on keeping rates low over the long-term to take advantage of significant savings.

Increase your “Green” with a Paperless Office

While companies focus more and more on increasing transparency regarding their sustainability efforts and improving performance, shareholders, customers, and employees are demanding more and more information on the specific steps companies are taking to achieve their desired outcomes.

Developing an Energy-Efficient Workplace Culture

Nobody knows your business’ energy using activities and processes better than your employees. Therefore establishing an energy saving culture is critical to support other waste saving initiatives such as an energy saving plan. By establishing an energy saving culture, you can create an environment for bright ideas, increased efficiency and reduced operating costs.

Is Your Facility Prepared for a Compliance Inspection?

It’s already 2012 and now is a great time to review your facility’s environmental, health & safety compliance standing.   You should be aware of your ability to withstand an inspection from OSHA or EPA this year.   Typically, an inspector will assess the effectiveness of your facility’s environmental and safety programs by asking EHS, operations, and maintenance staff to answer a series of general questions.

Traditional Learning Model Shifting To More Social And Online Setting

According to the ninth annual “ Going the Distance: Online Education in the United States, 2011 ” survey, the number of students taking at least one online course has now surpassed 6 million.  Now nearly one-third of all students in higher education are taking at least one online course.  The survey is based on responses from over 2,500 academic leaders, and is a leading barometer of online learning in the United States. Key report findings include: Over 6.1 million students were taking at least one online course during the fall 2010 term, an increase of 560,000 students over the previous year. The 10% growth rate for online enrollments far exceeds the 2% growth in the overall higher education student population. Thirty-one percent of higher education students now take at least one course online. Reported year-to-year enrollment changes for fully online programs by discipline show most are growing. Academic leaders believe that the level of student satisfaction is equivalent for online and face-to-face courses. 65% of higher education institutions now say that online learning is a critical part of their long-term strategy. By 2015, 25 million post-secondary students in the United States will be taking classes online.  The number of students who take classes exclusively on physical campuses are expected to plummet, from 14.4 million in 2010 to just 4.1 million five years later, according to a new forecast released by market research firm  Ambient Insight . With a new generation of worker, having previous experience with both online classes and social learning, entering the work force it is imperative for all businesses to re-evaluate the way they offer job training.  The shift in the teaching and learning paradigm (the old Carnegie model) is steadily evolving as technology itself does (the Computer-mediated model).  Learners are becoming more responsible for discovery and self-learning while teachers take on the role of facilitator.   Occupying a seat in a physical classroom for a specific period of time is fast becoming the exception rather than the rule.   With online access and a laptop computer or mobile tablet, learners are never more than a click away from the classroom. Social Learning is here to stay. The rapid growth in social learning isn’t likely to fade anytime soon either.  Social learning takes place at a wider scale than individual or group learning, up to a societal scale, through social interaction between peers.  According to   What is Social Learning?  by Mark Reed, to be considered social learning, a process must: demonstrate that a change in understanding has taken place in the individuals involved; demonstrate that this change goes beyond the individual and becomes situated within wider social units or communities of practice; and occur through social interactions and processes between actors within a social network. Social learning is not necessarily based on Computer Supported Collaborative Learning (CSCL).  Rather it’s where learning takes place via social interaction often times through the Internet (Skype, YouTube, Dropbox, Facebook,  Moodle, etc.).  The process assumes that knowledge (as meaning and understanding) is socially constructed.  Learning takes place through conversations about content and grounded interaction about problems and actions.  Social learning is one of the best ways to gain a deeper understanding and learn something because it allows you to teach it to others.  It also aligns very well to how adults tend to learn the best. Adults are autonomous and self-directed. They need to be free to direct themselves and are relevancy-oriented relying heavily on life experiences and knowledge that may include work-related activities, family responsibilities, and previous education to advance their learning. E-Learning budgets Increasing ASTD’s 2010 State of the Industry Report shows that elearning is still increasing as it now accounts for 27.7 percent of corporate training, its highest level since ASTD began collecting data on the use of technology for this report 14 years ago (in 2008, it was 23.1 percent). By virtually every measure, traditional learning model are shifting away from the classroom experience as e-learning experiences unprecedented growth and will likely continue to do so for the foreseeable future. With new technology being developed and continuously implemented,  it isn’t surprising that successful companies are those that believe in lifelong learning for their workers. In order to survive in this new learning environment your company will need to develop strong online and social learning processes.

4,000 home fires occur on Thanksgiving Day!

Thanksgiving Day has more than double the number of home cooking fires than an average day according to the U.S. Fire Administration. In fact, each year more than 4,000 fires occur on Thanksgiving Day. The American Red Cross has released a Thanksgiving Day Fire Safety Factsheet that contains sobering information on the dangers of cooking fires. More information on keeping this Holiday from becoming a tragedy can be found at: Food Safety http://www.fsis.usda.gov/fact_sheets/Seasonal_Food_Safety_Fact_Sheets/ Pet Safety http://www.aspca.org/pet-care/pet-care-tips/thanksgiving-safety-tips.aspx Stay safe and have a great Thanksgiving weekend everyone!

Daylight Saving Time – Workers Adjust to Falling Back better than Spring Forward

Researchers at Michigan State University  recently analyzed the number of injuries reported to the  Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) from 1983 to 2006 (The U.S. Department of Labor requires all mine operators to investigate and report all mining-related injuries).  The researchers also looked at the number of workdays employees missed as a result of their injuries.  Across the 24 years, there were 576,292 reported injuries on the job. As reported by EHS Today in 2009, on average, 3.6 more injuries occurred on the Mondays following the switch to DST compared to other days, and 2,649 more days of work were lost as a result of those injuries.  That’s approximately a 68% increase in lost workdays.  Work experience did not appear to play a role in the number of injuries suffered.  The researchers did not, however, find any significant changes in the number and severity of workplace injuries on the Mondays after the switch to standard time in the fall, when people gained an hour.  Further analysis of the American Time Use Survey showed that people had a much easier time adjusting their sleep schedules and did not, on average, sleep less or more after they changed to standard time. The Dawn of Daylight Saving Time Although Benjamin Franklin first suggested Daylight Saving Time (DST) in 1784, modern DST was not proposed until 1895 when an entomologist from New Zealand, George Vernon Hudson, presented a proposal for a two-hour daylight saving shift to the Wellington Philosophical Society primarily to allow sufficient daylight in the evening for him to happily collect insects and bugs as part of his hobby.   His full time job got in the way of collecting these little buggers during the day. Starting on 30 April 1916, Germany and its World War I allies were the first to use DST as a way to conserve coal during wartime.  The United States finally adopted DST in 1918  when Congress signed into the law the railroad time zone system which called for the observance of daylight saving time nationwide.  However parts of the law were repealed the following year, and daylight saving time thereafter became a matter left up to local jurisdictions. Oversight of daylight saving time resided with the Interstate Commerce Commission until in 1966, Congress passed the Uniform Time Act, which standardized the start and end dates for daylight saving time but continued to allow individual states to remain on standard time if their legislatures allowed it.  A 1972 amendment extended the option not to observe daylight saving time to areas on the border of two time zones but within the same U.S. state.  Before the move by Congress in 2005 to extend daylight saving time, the most recent modification occurred in 1986, when the start date was moved from the last Sunday in April to the first Sunday in April. Daylight Saving Time = More Evening Daylight Daylight saving time decreases the amount of daylight in the morning hours,  so that more daylight is available during the evening.   However, not everyone benefits from the daylight saving time change.  Contrary to what most people may think farmers and others who rise before dawn have to operate in the dark a while longer before daybreak therefore do not receive any benefits from the change.  Modern DST, however, can bring some safety benefits.  Research has shown that more available daylight does decrease the number of traffic accidents, traffic fatalities, and incidences of crime.  In 1995 the  Insurance Institute for Highway Safety  estimated a reduction of 1.2%, including a 5% reduction in crashes fatal to pedestrians. 13 things you may not know about DST When we change our clocks… Daylight Saving Time   begins  for most of the United States at 2 a.m. on  the second Sunday of March . Time  reverts  to  standard time  at 2 a.m. on  the first Sunday of November . In the U.S., each time zone switches at a different time. Twice a year, when  Daylight Saving Time   begins  or ends , make it a habit to not only change your clocks, but do a few other semi-annual tasks that will  improve safety  in your home … Do these things every 6 months when you reset your clocks: Check and replace the batteries in your smoke and carbon monoxide  (CO)  alarms.  Replace any smoke alarms older than ten years. Replace any CO alarms older than five years. Prepare a disaster supply kit for your house  (water, food, flashlights, batteries, blankets) .Once you’ve created your home disaster kit, use the semi-annual time change to check its contents  (including testing/replacing flashlight batteries) . A COLD winter is coming! Make a “ winter car-emergency kit “  now  and put your vehicle!   It’s a good idea to carry a  car-emergency kit  in your car year-round, but be sure to add cold-weather gear to your general car-emergency kit each fall.   Like a Boy Scout, “Be Prepared!” In cold weather, even a very minor car problem or flat tire can be deadly serious, or at the very least,  miserable  to deal with, unless you’re well prepared. Check home and outbuilding storage areas for hazardous materials.  Discard  (properly, please)  any which are outdated, no longer used, or in poor condition.   Move any which are within reach of kids or pets. Check and discard expired medications –  those dates really DO have meaning  – some very common over-the-counter medications can cause  serious  problems due to change through aging.