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Please feel free to take a look around to learn more about our safety consulting, industrial hygiene, and ergonomics services. We have the expertise and experience  identify and address loss drivers to reduce worker injuries  and to sustain a process moving forward. If you have any questions at all, please contact us to learn more on how we may assist you!

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  • Our ergonomic group provides broad-based development and implementation assistance for soft-tissue injury management programs in retail, service and manufacturing entities of all sizes.
  • Our industrial hygiene service line is the oldest and most established group within the Reed Environmental, Inc family.
  • Reed Environmental, Inc. offers a broad range of safety consulting services by Board Certified Professionals.

Finding Thousands in Tough Financial Times

Many school corporations needlessly spend hundreds of thousands of dollars paying for   damage to their number one resource…their people. Worker injuries can be life changing for individuals, and the costs associated with their medical care and absence from work can drain financial resources from schools and limit the level of service they provide to the public. The rising direct and indirect costs associated with workplace injuries can no longer be viewed simply as “a cost of doing business” without affecting the long-term fiscal health of public schools and lower their ability to serve the public.

Having worked closely with school corporations for many decades controlling worker injuries and liabilities, we have identified a consistently successful, best practices approach for reducing worker injuries and losses among school entities. This three-pronged approach need not be time consuming or difficult, but should include, at a minimum a focus on: a) identifying and controlling job-specific hazards, with emphasis on custodial tasks; b) the development of processes for safety and medical management; and, c) the establishment of a program for OSHA standards compliance. I have provided a few examples of best practices and key implementation ideas for each focus area below.

Identify and Control Job-Specific Hazards

Each school district should assess their loss history in order prioritize local efforts, but years of loss data suggest that two major categories of loss are the most common in schools: soft-tissue injuries and slips/falls. Soft tissue injuries involving the back and shoulder frequently occur among custodial staff due to the physical demands of the job. This type of injury is a strong driver of both high frequency rates and severity of losses in school systems, while slip, trip, and fall injuries among all employees are typically the second most frequent loss type. Finding a way to address the most common loss areas in earnest is a key factor in reducing the costs associated with most school-based workplace injuries, but how?

Ensure custodial staffs receive ongoing training on floor care products application and maintenance to reduce risk to all building occupants. Numerous injuries also occur at surface transition points (tile to carpet, concrete to carpet, etc.) and particular attention should be paid to the inspection and repair of damaged flooring materials at doorways and other transition areas. The placement of 15’ to 18’ of matting at all entrances can reduce 90% of the soil brought into your buildings and significantly reduce risks from slips and falls.

Slip, trip, and fall risks can affect personnel throughout the school and with more people staring at screens while walking, this type of loss will continue to increase. A comprehensive matting program is helpful in reducing some of this risk, but requiring that custodians, food service workers, and transportation personnel wear adequate footwear is also essential. Custodians, for example, should wear winter boots when cleaning accumulations of snow. Spiked overshoes when cleaning ice from sidewalks are effective.

Develop Processes for Safety and Medical Management

Establish and track basic safety management expectations among your departmental managers. Expectations can include holding five-minute safety meetings with staff, taking corrective actions after injuries, participating in return-to-work programs (RTW), etc. Assign safety responsibilities to one person or an in-house workers compensation committee to track expectations. Assigned personnel need not be an executive-level person but they must have safety reporting responsibilities to an executive. In-house worker compensation committees, where management personnel have an opportunity to discuss loss trends and cost-effective management of worker injuries, fleet and general liability issues, are highly effective. When employee safety is not discussed, it is not considered so frequent communication of safety expectations and related information via emails, simple one-page safety messages, quick staff safety meetings, etc., helps establish and reinforce expectations and are very effective.

Hire only those who are physically capable of performing the work, especially in custodial positions. Studies have indicated that up to 30% of individuals who participated in post job offer essential functions testing could not physically handle the work required of the jobs they were hired to perform. Individuals who are not capable of meeting the physical demands of a given job are an injury waiting to happen, and placing them in such jobs is not only bad for them, it’s bad for your school. Incorporating a post job offer essential functions testing program helps school districts identify those individuals who are at risk of injury from the demands of the job before they’re actually placed in the workforce. A single essential functions assessment costs roughly seventy-five dollars, but it’s a cost-effective investment should it prevent a thirty thousand dollar back injury down the road.

Effectively manage medical costs and claims following an injury and establish a return-to-work program to bring injured personnel back to the workforce to perform alternative duties, if you haven’t done so already. It is also important to establish good working relationships with your occupational medicine provider and claims person. The provider should provide detailed work limitations to help you identify appropriate alternative duties. Staying involved in the management of claims is critical in controlling ever-increasing medical costs. Getting to know your claims person and using their expertise will save you time and money.

Establish a Program for OSHA Standards Compliance

Some school corporations are unaware that school maintenance personnel, and some custodial staff, are exposed to hazards typically found in industrial operations, including entry into confined spaces (sump pump holes, etc.), electrical hazards, falls from elevated work areas and chemical overexposures. Identify work tasks where OSHA compliance is an issue and insure that plans are in place to address the associated hazards and compliance obligations. Although these types of losses are not frequent, they oftentimes have deadly consequences.

Mr. Reed is the President of Reed Environmental, Inc., an environmental health and safety-consulting firm based in Lafayette, IN. He provides loss prevention services to the Indiana State Educational Services Centers (ISESC) Risk Management Group thru Caitlin Morgan Insurance Services, Inc. The Risk Management Group is a self-insured group deductible workers compensation program managed by members for members.

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 Mike Reed
Ergonomics & Safety  President

Leslie Reed
 Ind. Hygiene CEO


Address / Phone

Reed Environmental, Inc.
40 Sloans Court
Lafayette, IN 47905

Phone: (765) 447-4446
Alternate Phone: (800) 866-8084
Fax: (765) 446-1370