What’s new in workplace safety

Pixabay - Safety

Editor’s Note: Here at Dispatches, we are always looking for ways to help our readers do things. For some of our readers, that means helping navigate the working world, for others, it means assisting in the ever challenging question,what’s for dinner?” For still others, it means figuring out how to balance family life with everything else. In an effort to aid in all of these endeavors, we have collaborated on this article written specifically for our readers. 

Workplace safety probably isn’t top of mind for solopreneurs, but it should still be on your radar particularly if you hope to add other workers in the future.

Changing Culture
It used to be the case that workplaces viewed health and safety like political correctness. It was an annoying fact of doing business that stifled innovation. But now employers are coming to a new view. The new view is that the workers are a company’s greatest asset and that if they get injured, that’s not just a loss to the employee, it’s a loss to the company too. Now if you walk into many working environments, you’ll likely find a more safety-conscious culture. Practically every modern company places the safety of its workers at the forefront of its operations.

Improved Safety Design
Many companies of all sizes consult with health and safety services to improve health and safety processes because employee safety isn’t just about training. There are things even solopreneurs can do to change workplace set up to maximize safety, such as desk height and chair alignment. If you have a warehouse or production line (or hope to in the future!) you can set up the process in a way that minimizes worker movement. You can also consider using robots well versed in AI and Deep Learning who can learn movement and be more careful around people. You can also consider using robots to do heavy lifting. 

Maturing Safety Systems
Thanks to falls in the prices of sensors, the cost of monitoring safety has decreased in the last few years. In 2016, the cost is so low, that even small businesses can implement safety systems. We’re used to hearing the workplace vehicle reversing beeping noise, but now sensors can be deployed to shut off systems in an emergency automatically.

E-Learning
It’s never been easier to teach workers about safety in the workplace cheaply and effectively. Companies can use e-learning to train employees on-demand and refresh as necessary.

 

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Top Ways To Keep Your Employees Safe And Healthy

Home Office - Pexels
Editor’s Note: Here at Dispatches, we are always looking for ways to help our readers do things. For some of our readers, that means helping navigate the working world, for others, it means assisting in the ever challenging question,what’s for dinner?” For still others, it means figuring out how to balance family life with everything else. In an effort to aid in all of these endeavors, we have collaborated on this article written specifically for our readers.

The goal of every business owner is to grow. Hopefully, that means growing from solopreneurship to adding an employee or two. If you have a plan to keep your employees safe and healthy before you ever add your first employees, you’ll be well on your way to being a good employer.

The flip is also true. As an employee, you should be able to expect your supervisor and employer to provide a safe and healthy work environment. Not all of the items below are required, they’re just good business practices and may be items worth negotiating during the job offer process.

There are many rules and regulations and statutes for what constitute a safe and healthy work environment. Those should be your first and foremost point of reference. But those basics are just a starting point for creating a 
safe workplace. There’s more you can do as an employer and should expect as an employee.

Don’t work too much
It can be easy to work a lot when there is much to do. But study after study shows excessive work hours don’t equal good quality work and can be a drain on overall health and well-being. Moreover, excessive overtime can lead to a toxic work environment for everyone. As we discussed before, you can’t fake a positive atmosphere. So if your employees have been working lots of hours lately, you should find a way to let them take some time off or perhaps provide lunch or a snack in the afternoon as a way to socialize and take a break. Every office has a busy season, what makes a good work space is a balance when work is a bit slower.

As an employee, don’t be afraid (within reason of course!) to use your vacation time. Even a half day away from the office can be enough of a break to leave you feeling refreshed and ready to return to work.

Be mindful of rest, exhaustion can lead to mistakes or injuries and adds to increasing stress .

Sort out an evacuation plan
An oft-overlooked element of workplace safety, especially for those who work at home is an evacuation plan in an emergency  An evacuation plan will make sure everyone knows what to do if there is a fire. If you have employees, make sure you know who is working (if you’re lucky enough to have more than one!) and make sure you have shared a meeting place away from the building. If possible, post this information so it is easily accessible in an emergency.

In all workspaces (even your home!), there should be extinguishers in key locations. If possible, learn how to use the extinguisher.  If you regularly have clients or customers in your office, consider creating a code word to convey an emergency situation without inducing panic. Consider adding evacuation equipment if you have staff or clients with disabilities, who might not be able to leave the building on their own.

Send them off for health and safety
You can also keep your employees safe and healthy by sending them off for training. There are all kinds of training opportunities for businesses of all sizes. If you do have more than yourself in your employ, considering finding a time for everyone to attend a training. This is a great team building opportunity.

Make a leader in the team
Another way to keep your employees safe and healthy is to appoint or elect a leader who will be responsible in an emergency. The leader should know where the fire extinguishers and emergency material are located, and may be the person to use the extinguisher or other emergency items. They can be a go-to person in an illness, accident or injury situation. 

Obviously, if you are the only employee, you are the responsible party.

Overall, whether you are a business of one or 500, plan for emergencies big and small.

Even small business owners can benefit from asset searches

Editor’s Note: Here at Dispatches, we are always looking for ways to help our readers do things. For some of our readers, that means helping navigate the working world, for others, it means assisting in the ever challenging question,what’s for dinner?” For still others, it means figuring out how to balance family life with everything else. In an effort to aid in all of these endeavors, we have collaborated on this article written specifically for our readers. 

We’re fortunate in the West that we have a functioning legal system. We take for granted the fact that people who commit crimes will pay for them. It’s thanks to this legal system that disputes are resolved, and people can get the restitution they deserve. Each year in the United States, there are some half a million Federal tort cases. Though many of these cases never make it to court, those that do offer significant monetary compensation. On average, the compensation payout for injury lawsuits in 2015 was $60,000. The average awarded in damages lawsuits was only a little less, at $50,000.

This underscores how seriousness courts take damages litigation.

Despite the seriousness, the legal system doesn’t always work the way that we would like it to. For instance, let’s suppose that you’re suing somebody for damages. You want to make sure that they compensate you for all the negative consequences of their actions. In preparation, you hire a well-referenced lawyer and go through the court system. In other words, you do everything by the book. Yet, when it comes to collecting the payment that you’re owed, things can go off-book quite quickly.

Sometimes it can turn out that the whole litigation process was in vain. The person or company that you were suing simply doesn’t have the funds or the assets to meet your compensation demands. It turns out that they have few, if any monetizable assets. As a result, you end up with expensive legal fees and little to show for it.

Occasionally, the person you are suing may be able to hide their net worth. Perhaps they have money stowed away in their houses or perhaps they have an offshore bank account. This is where a professional asset search can help. Professional asset searches allow you to look for evidence of the net worth of the person you are suing before you go through the court system. This allows you calibrate your claim, depending on how much money they person can pay.

But asset searches are also worthwhile for a secondary reason. You can find out whether a person is doing anything to hide their net worth from you and the court system. In court, you can use asset searches to portray how much the defendant can afford to pay. With this knowledge, the court might decide to increase the amount awarded, more than they would had the information not come to light.

The transfer of assets to avoid being sued can be a real and pressing issue for those trying to get compensation. This is why so many people are looking for new ways to secure the money that is owed to them. 

While I hope you will never have to take a client or contractor to even small claims court, these tips are important to keep in mind from both the plaintiff and defendant perspectives. As a business owner, you should file the correct paperwork with your state to separate personal and business assets, but must be aware that in a professional asset search, there is likely to not be a separation.

Baby Clothes Size chart

I didn’t put this together, but I’ve had a heck of a time finding the original as the website is no longer available. This reference page has been a lifesaver as baby A has grown.

Now if someone can just point me in the direction of footed pajamas for the 9-12 and 12-18 month sizes I would be forever grateful.

Baby Clothes Size chart

Maternity leave is a joke

Maternity Leave
Image from: mediad.publicbroadcasting.net/p/kunm/files/201311/maternity-leave.jpg

 

I knew maternity leave in the United States was bad. As indicated by President Obama’s remarks from June 2014 here and the extensive coverage those remarks received. I knew it was hard on mothers and children, highlighted by this blog post on the Huffington Post from Regan Long, an educator here.

What I didn’t know was that even with an employer who provides short-term disability leave, there isn’t any flexibility because of the carrier policy.

As MetLife explained to me, in the world of maternity leave it’s cut and dry: either you had a C-section or you didn’t. There’s no grey scale for complications from a “normal” delivery. There’s no flexibility if your child has complications.

If like us, you had to return to the hospital less than 24-hours, the clock doesn’t start over. Or even worse, if your child was early and is in the NICU. In fact, you could have to go back to work before you ever brought your child home.

It doesn’t matter if your physician says you can’t drive for several weeks, or indicates for your health and the health of your child you shouldn’t return to work for 12 weeks. Unless you can afford to use up all of your sick and vacation time or have an employer who is willing to give you unpaid time off (FMLA is unpaid by the way), you may have to choose between following your physician’s orders and providing for your family.

Then the complications will start to multiply because using all of your sick and vacation time to recover and care for your child will also mean that once your child enters daycare and is exposed to all the daycare germs, you won’t have any paid time off to care for her. Since you can’t take a sick child to daycare, you’re in a bind again. God forbid you also get sick or get sick from returning to work too soon.

It infuriates me that maternity leave policy providers, like MetLife, can say things such as, “it’s better than no leave!” Or “it’s not up to us, that’s the policy.”

Where’s the compassion in the policy, MetLife? Where’s an employer or policy provider standing up and saying this isn’t right? Where’s caring about the health of employees and their families above a bottom line or policy definition, MetLife?

Like Regan Long said in her piece, “I’m reminded that I should be thankful I have a job.” And like Regan, I too will do whatever it takes to keep my family afloat, even if it means sacrificing my own health.  I just wish no mother would have to make that choice.

Don’t even get me started on paternity leave…