The right time for lost time

By |  January 16, 2013

When traveling to pits and quarries in North America, it’s common to be greeted with a sign touting the site’s safety record — “X number of consecutive days without a lost-time injury.” The same pride is often on display at factories where equipment for our industry is manufactured. There is no doubt that the aggregates and manufacturing industries are safer places to work than in years past.

Recognition for superior safety records is given out by the National Stone, Sand & Gravel Association, as well as many state associations.   The Sterling Safety Award and the James M. Christie Safety and Health Professional Award are an honor for the companies and individuals who receive them. Such awards are just a small part of the motivation for maintaining a safe workplace. Most producers I talk with take great pride in it.

With that in mind, producers should also do what it takes to keep employees safe from the flu and other contagious illnesses. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that influenza has officially reached epidemic proportions in the United States this year. All employers can implement a combination of controls to protect workers and reduce the transmission of the seasonal flu virus in the workplace. The Occupational Safety & Health Administration offers some suggestions:

Promote vaccination: Encourage workers to get the flu vaccine, and consider hosting a flu vaccination clinic in your workplace to make it available to them for free.
• Encourage sick workers to stay home: Workers who have a fever and respiratory symptoms should stay at home until 24 hours after their fever ends (100º or lower), without the use of medication. Not everyone who has the flu will have a fever. Other symptoms could include a runny nose, body aches, headache, tiredness, diarrhea or vomiting. Develop flexible leave policies that encourage workers to stay home, without penalty, if they are sick.
• Promote hand hygiene and cough etiquette: Post signs that tell workers, visitors and clients the steps for proper hand hygiene and cough etiquette. Everyone on site should have easy access to supplies such as “no-touch” wastebaskets for used tissues; soap and water; alcohol-based hand sanitizer; and disposable towels.
Keep the workplace clean: Frequently clean all commonly touched work surfaces, work areas and equipment (i.e., telephones, doorknobs, lunch areas, work surfaces, copiers, etc.).

The flu season is at a peak this month. Keep your workers healthy by educating them, promoting a sanitary work environment and sending home sick employees. While we all strive to prevent lost-time injuries, it may be wise to encourage lost time when it comes to illness.

About the Author:

Darren Constantino is an editor of Pit & Quarry magazine. He can be reached at

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