Volume 48, Issue 1 - January 2013

Healthy Work Habits Can Help
Avoid Injuries and Fatalities

In 2011 the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) recorded 3,609 fatal work injuries in the United States. Fatalities in the glass industry occur from employees being struck by an object or piece of equipment. Mike Burk of Quanex Building Products, who chairs the Insulating Glass Manufacturers Alliance's (IGMA) Glass Safety Awareness Council, detailed ways to reduce injuries and fatalities during a late November safety presentation by IGMA and the Glass Association of North America (GANA).

Burk noted that according to the BLS, fatal work injuries were higher for workers 20 to 24 years old, with deaths rising 18 percent in 2011 to 288 from 245 in 2010.

Burk advised supervisors to play an active role in developing healthy working habits early on in the young workers’ careers by correcting the mistakes through observation. Another factor that can decrease workplace safety is a lack of communication, said Burk. It can be intimidating for young workers to walk into a new company, and they may be embarrassed to ask questions. Burk recommends supervisors encourage employees to speak up and create a line of communication.

He also suggested assigning experienced employees as mentors for younger workers, rather than just relying on supervisors to answer questions. He also explained that foreign-born workers have an increased risk of fatality in the shop environment.

Burk cites cultural barriers as well as low levels of education, social capital and limited English as factors that can affect foreign-born employees’ understanding of jobs and their safety risks. Burk encourages supervisors to assign bilingual employees with experience as mentors to these workers.

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