Why Do People Get Hurt?

What do we think of when we think of safety and people getting hurt? The first is the pain and suffering of the injured worker and the increasing costs of our workers’ compensation insurance. We see the immediate and obvious implications; however, we often do not recognize the giant cost factors that are lying just underneath our noses. 

The lost time we will need to make up by hiring someone new or having our other workers fill in. The effect the injury will have on employee morale and productivity. The indirect costs of this injury, such as property damage and excessive amounts of time spent by management reporting on and following up on the incident. 

The legal ramifications of the injury and will OSHA be brought in? Will we be sued or written about in the local newspapers? How will our customers react to it? Will our OSHA frequency rates and severity rates be affected?  What will our experience modifier go up to? Will we still be eligible to bid on jobs? 

It is clear that for many reasons we do not want to have workplace employee injuries. But, how do we avoid them? We create slogans, put up posters, do employee training, provide personal protective equipment, etc. Yet, we still have injuries. How do we explain why people get hurt?

Is it inattention, as many supervisors are prone to say, or unsafe conditions, poor training, inadequate personal protective equipment? Or is it a result of unsafe behavior? We have reported for years that 10% of injuries are from unsafe conditions and 90% are from unsafe acts/behaviors. Yet we spend most of our attention on ensuring that the physical environment is hazard free and we have met the details of safety regulations, all of which needs to be done. However employees are still getting hurt.

For years now, safety professionals have talked about changing the “culture” of an organization to impact its safety program. But what does that mean to the supervisor on a worksite or an owner of a company trying to get the job done. How does he/she implement that?

We need to begin by looking at how we behave and understanding it, so that we can change it. Please note: behavior is an observable act, not an attitude or an emotion. We are not performing psychoanalysis, we are trying to effect the actions people take. Here are the ABC’s of behavior!

Antecedent: The circumstance before a behavior occurs.
Behavior: The action the person takes.
Consequence: What happens as a result of the action the person takes.

An example of this …

You are driving and you see a yellow light, what do you do? (The yellow light is the antecedent). Most people, if honestly speaking, will speed up to make it through the light! (That is the behavior) What is the consequence? Usually, you will make it through the light and get to your destination faster and with no negative effects.

NOW… Let’s change just one thing. Imagine a police car sitting on the corner of the yellow light. What do you do now? Most people will slow down. Why? What has changed? We are now concerned that we might get a ticket. The fear of a change of consequence is what changed the behavior. How do we relate this to safety? 

Let’s take another example. A piece of metal needs grinding (the antecedent). An employee begins work on the grinding wheel without safety glasses (the behavior). The supervisor walks past him and says nothing. The employee continues to have this behavior every time he has a grinding job. He goes for years with neither an injury nor a reprimand from his supervisor. The consequence is that he gets the job done with no problem. Then one day the grinding wheel breaks and pieces fly into his eye and he has a serious eye injury. The consequence has now changed and the employee will probably never perform this task again without the proper personal protective equipment because he will be afraid he will get hurt again. The same behavior could have been achieved, without the injury, if the supervisor had acted when he saw the behavior that was at risk and created a consequence for the employee that would have motivated him to do his job safely without him having to get hurt. This could have been a simple reprimand, write up, etc.

It all comes down to motivation. People perform “at-risk” behaviors because it is human nature to repeat what we have learned in the past. Most times, at-risk behavior is a short cut; it saves time, is convenient and we don’t usually get hurt. There are no apparent negative consequences and the extra time and effort it takes to avoid at-risk behavior does not “immediately” offset the low risk of getting hurt. Add to that management often turning a blind eye to at-risk behavior, choosing rather to discipline the employee after he or she is injured. 

It is management’s responsibility to provide the consequences prior to the injury.   This will motivate the employee to avoid at-risk behavior. The only way to motivate is through consequences. Consequences provide the key to performance. People behave in ways that have been optimally reinforced in the past and avoid those behaviors that have had negative consequences. 

How do we motivate employees to avoid “at-risk” behavior? We need to understand when and how we are working at risk and develop, and use, an alternative method. We need to understand how to do the job safely and develop consequences that the supervisor can use to motivate the employee to use safe behaviors and avoid at-risk behavior. 

Factors that influence consequences include timing, consistency and positive vs. negative impact. Immediate, consistent and positive consequences have the greatest impact. It is important to identify immediately and consistently at-risk behavior. However, it is a myth that stopping unsafe behaviors will result in safe behaviors to occur more often. The reality is that for safe acts to occur more often they must be actively acknowledged and recognized. We must:

• Develop both positive and negative consequences. Enforce safety rules and identify at-risk behavior. We need to have a disciplinary procedure for those employees who continue to perform at-risk behavior and an incentive program for those who act safely. 

• Instill accountability: Company owners, supervisors and employees all play a key role in ensuring a safe and healthy workplace. Owners are responsible for providing a safe and healthy workplace, providing the needed tools, protective equipment and training. Supervisors must be empowered to provide the employee consequences and employees must do their job utilizing safe behaviors.

We all need to take responsibility for safety. It must be an integral part of the way we work. That is the only way a truly safe and healthy workplace will exist. 


Cold Weather Safety

Dear Group Member,

The cold weather is upon us.  Attached is a Safety Alert discussing how we can keep our employees safe during the winter and its cold weather.
Thank you,

Safety Department of Lovell Safety Management Co., LLC

OSHA Initiative – Heat Exposure Prevention

Dear Group Member,

Attached please find a summary of the new OSHA initiative for protecting workers from heat exposure.  Heat exposure is not restricted to outdoor work in the summer.  Many industries have very hot work environments indoors and all year long.
If you have any questions, please contact your local safety representative or the Lovell Safety department.
Safety Department of Lovell Safety Management Co., LLC

Happy Labor Day!


NYS HERO Act – Update

Dear Group Member,

Attached please find an update on the requirements of the NYS HERO Act as well as a Fillable PDF of the recently issued NYS template of an airborne infectious disease plan.


If you have any questions, please contact the Lovell Safety Department or your local LSM Safety Representative.


Thank you,

Safety Department of Lovell Safety Management Co., LLC



Working in the Summer Heat

Dear Group Members,

With the summer heat wave we are now experiencing we thought it would be helpful to remind you of the precautions that need to be taken to work safely in hot weather.


Attached are safety alerts that can help your employees stay safe (English and Spanish).


Thank you,


Safety Department of Lovell Safety Management Co., LLC



NYS HERO Act Compliance Dates Postponed

Dear Group Member,

Last week we sent out a summary of recent Covid-19 legislative updates (See attached Safety Alert).  An update from NYS has just been issued postponing the compliance dates for the NY Health and Essential Rights Act (HERO Act).
The HERO Act amends the New York Labor Law (NYLL) in relation to preventing occupational exposure to an airborne infectious disease.

NYS now has until July 5, 2021 to publish their model “Airborne Infectious Disease Exposure Prevention Standards.” Once these industry-specific standards are issued, employers will have 30 days to implement their own infectious disease exposure prevention plan.

If you have any questions please contact the LSM safety department, or your local safety representative.
Thank you,
Safety Department of Lovell Safety Management Co., LLC

Covid-19 Legislative Updates – June 15, 2021

Dear Group Member, 

Please find attached a summary of the recent updates from New York State and OSHA regarding Covid-19.  Also find attached an OSHA Fact Sheet detailing its new Emergency Temporary Standard for Healthcare workers.  


Thank you,


Safety Department of Lovell Safety Management Co., LLC



Covid-19 Compliance Updates

Dear Group Member:

Recently there have been a number of new guidance documents issued and legislation enacted regarding Covid-19 and the prevention of airborne infections.

Please review the attached for additional information.



Thank you,

Safety Department

Lovell Safety Management Co., LLC




Working from Home During – and After – COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced many of us to work from home and it appears that working from home will continue for many organizations even post-pandemic.  Whether your employees are new to the work-from-home lifestyle, or have been doing it for years, here are some tips to keep them safe and healthy and help avoid unnecessary workers’ compensation claims. 

With the exception of patient handling in healthcare, only California has a regulation that addresses ergonomics. It is OSHA’s policy not to inspect home offices, and it does not expect employers to do so, nor will it hold the employer liable for home office conditions. However, the General Duty Clause of the Occupational Safety and Health Act still applies, and employers must provide a place of employment free of recognized hazards that are likely to cause death or serious harm. Although the employer does not control the work environment for home-based employees, employers may be responsible for hazards caused by materials, equipment, or work processes which the employer provides or requires to be used in an employee’s home. Therefore, employers should ensure that any materials or equipment they provide to home-based employees is in safe working condition and that employees are instructed in its safe installation and use.

With regards to workers’ compensation, injuries sustained in accidents outside the workplace are generally not compensable, at-home work however may qualify when it is “either a specific work assignment for the employer’s benefit … or so regular a pattern of work at home that the home achieves the status of a place of employment.”

As companies continue to navigate and overcome their own individual obstacles, it is important that safety is not brushed aside. Although staff may no longer make the commute into the office, safety hazards can and do still exist in the home. OSHA has excellent information on how to set up a workstation.  It can be found at   https://www.osha.gov/etools/computer-workstations

Some basic steps that should be taken to keep a home office safe include:

Keep your workplace tidy and clear of hazards. Be sure to clean up daily just as you would at the office. Tie up or secure cords to avoid tripping hazards.  Electrical hazards can result from broken or frayed cords or overloaded circuits. Be mindful of the condition of your cords, as well as the number of cords plugged into an outlet to avoid circuit overload.

Bright lights shining on the display screen “wash out” images and can create contrast issues, making it difficult to clearly see your work. Straining to view objects on the screen can lead to eye fatigue. 
Indirect or diffused lighting is best.

Workstation Set Up:

Basic ergonomic principles can help create a safe and comfortable computer workstation. There is no single “correct” posture or arrangement of components that will fit everyone. Adjustability is really the key.  However, there are basic design goals to consider when setting up a computer workstation or performing computer-related tasks.

  • The top of the monitor should be at or just below eye level.
  • Head and neck should be straight, balanced and in-line with torso.
  • Shoulders down and relaxed.
  • Elbows close to the body and supported.
  • Lower back supported. 
  • Wrists and hands in-line with forearms.
  • Feet flat on the floor or use a foot stool to ensure that hips and knees are aligned.
  • Ensure adequate room for keyboard and mouse.
  • The keyboard platform must be able to be adjusted so that hands can be positioned over the keyboard while shoulders remain relaxed.  Elbows should be near the torso at an angle of 90 to 100 degrees to the body.
  • If laptops are used as a primary computer, they must be set up using the same ergonomic principles as desktop computers. A separate keyboard and input device are recommended.

Prolonged periods of inactivity:

Sitting all day puts home office workers at risk for numerous health problems. Taking regular breaks is essential.  Ensure that there is time during the day to stand, stretch, and move around. This provides rest and allows the muscles enough time to recover. Alternate tasks whenever possible, mixing non-computer-related tasks into the workday. This encourages body movement and the use of different muscle groups.

Implement a Check-In Procedure
Even though your employees may not be working in a physical office, maintaining contact with your staff is still extremely important. Open lines of communication are an effective way of ensuring the safety and wellness of your staff. By implementing a worker check-in procedure, you can automatically confirm the safety of your team periodically throughout the day. Remote staff members can check in at predetermined time intervals throughout their shift and you will know that something is wrong if a check-in is missed. 

Stay in touch. Utilize web conferences, social media, phones, etc. to stay in touch with co-workers, as well as family. This helps get work done more efficiently as well as allowing socialization and reduces the feeling of being isolated. All employees need to maintain the sense that they still have co-workers, managers, and a sense of workplace community.