Author Archives: Jim Flannery

About Jim Flannery

Alberta boy with a love of sports and a bunch of other stuff. Writing here and also at stadiumjourney.com and inlacrossewetrust.com

Flannery Safety Consulting Turns 2 Years Old!

Flannery Safety Consulting turned two years old this week!

It has been an interesting and challenging two years in business. Growing a client base came fairly slowly at first, but things are now quite busy, the bills are getting paid, and there are some interesting prospects on the horizon as the company’s business model continues to be refined.

What We’ve Been Up To

There have been a number of exciting developments since the start of Flannery Safety Consulting. Founder Jim Flannery earned his Safety Coordinator Gold Seal. He was the first person in Lethbridge, AB to get that designation. The company was runner up in the Chinook Entrepreneur Challenge in 2016. Jim spent a six-month term as the chapter president for BNI Key Connections, the marketing group where more than 80% of the company’s client base has come from. Jim has also been a member of the Lethbridge Chamber of Commerce’s Regional Direction and Policy Committee for more than a year.

Along the way, Flannery Safety has given back. We helped out with a Habitat for Humanity project and took part in the Steps for Life event in support of families that have lost loved ones through occupational incident or disease.

How We Can Help

Flannery Safety Consulting helps companies ensure that they are taking care of their staff in several ways:

  • through compliance with Alberta’s Occupational Health and Safety laws
  • by upgrading a safety program to COR or SECOR standards
  • by assisting with the monitoring and management of active safety programs

Through positive and proactive changes to a business’ methods, we can show you that protecting your people actually increases productivity and leads to greater profitability, which is good news for everyone!

Lifelong training remains one of the company’s guiding principles. To that end, Jim is currently pursuing his Canadian Registered Safety Professional certification. He eventually plans to become a consultant auditor through the Alberta Construction Safety Association, adding another service to our list.

For inquiries, please contact Jim at 403-715-4162 or via email at jim@flannerysafetyconsulting.com.

You can also follow us on Facebook, Google+,  and on Twitter.

Steps For Life

The Steps For Life walk in Lethbridge took place on the morning of May 6 this year and Flannery Safety Consulting took part. More than 1,500 people walked a route along Henderson Lake to support the cause.

As per the Steps for Life website, “Steps for Life brings together families and co-workers affected by workplace tragedy with friends, neighbours, community members and health and safety professionals who are all passionate about workplace safety.” This is the primary fundraiser for The Association for Workplace Tragedy Family Support (known as Threads of Life), which “is a registered Canadian charity dedicated to supporting families along their journey of healing who have suffered from a workplace fatality, life-altering injury or occupational disease.”

Lethbridge has traditionally been one of the biggest supporters of this fundraiser and 2017 was no different. The city’s walk featured 1,532 walkers—the most of any city in Canada—and has raised more than $40,000 as of May 8. That makes eight years in a row that Lethbridge has had the most participation in the country.

Overall, the national Steps for Life campaign has brought in $654,157 as of May 29, which exceeds the campaign’s target for 2017, thanks to generous donations from communities all over Canada. Flannery Safety Consulting is proud to have contributed to the effort this year and looks forward to the fundraising effort—and the walk—again in 2018. Thanks to the generous donors who contributed to Flannery Safety’s fundraising effort!

Jim Flannery, owner of Flannery Safety Consulting, getting ready to participate in the annual Steps for Life walk in Lethbridge, AB.

Protecting Your People Also Protects Your Profits

imgp0836

Don’t attempt a crane dismantle without a plan.

Flannery Safety Consulting sets itself apart from the competition by emphasizing that in addition to worker safety, there is also abundant evidence that health and safety programs typically are quite profitable in a number of ways—a large Return On Investment in safety, decreased cost of projects, increased reputation, an increased ability for your company to bid on jobs, and many other benefits. By educating owners on the positives of a safety program—protecting your people protects your profits—better buy-in is obtained and better results are achieved.

“OSHA’s [Occupational Health and Safety Administration, United States] Office of Regulatory Analysis has stated: …our evidence suggests that companies that implement effective safety and health can expect reductions of 20% or greater in their injury and illness rates and a return of $4 to $6 for every $1 invested…”

Companies have begun to realize that having safety programs and safe records is a selling feature for their clients; some clients refuse to use sub-contractors who don’t have safety programs and safe working records. From Dodge Data and Analytics:

  • 51% report increases in project ROI; with a fifth of those reporting increases of greater than 5%
  • 43% report faster project schedules, with half reporting schedule improvements of a week or more
  • 39% report a decrease in project budget from a safety program, with a quarter reporting decreases of 5% or more. Only 15% reported that safety programs cost firms more—debunking the myth that safety has to negatively affect a firm’s bottom line.
  • 82% report an improved reputation
  • 71% report lower injury rates
  • 66% report they have a greater ability to contract new work
  • 66% report better project quality

The bottom line is that assessing and controlling hazards can only be done effectively when a company plans its work. Companies with a good plan are more productive and make fewer mistakes; better productivity and fewer mistakes boosts profitability. Likewise, healthy workers are more productive than injured workers and, again, this boosts profitability.

Flannery Safety Consulting provides services in the Lethbridge area and can be reached at jim@flannerysafetyconsulting.com

You can also follow us on Facebook and on Twitter.

Debunking Safety Myths Part 1: Loud Pipes Save Lives

free-flow-exhaust-3

An important part of my profession is identifying, assessing, and mitigating risk. When I’m working with businesses to help them develop or improve their safety programs, this is where much of the teaching time is invested as risk seems to be one of the most poorly understood concepts out there.

The reasons for this are many but there seem to be a few recurring issues: we don’t necessarily recognize the risks until it’s too late, we frequently underestimate the level of risk for key hazards, we overestimate the risk for other hazards, and we assume that if we hear a saying enough times, it must be true.

In this series of posts about common safety myths, I intend to talk about what the myth is, where it comes from, and why it is wrong. The first topic isn’t necessarily an occupational issue, but it is a myth that I hear frequently: Loud Pipes Save Lives.

You’ll hear this saying spoken by owners of motorcycles, in particular from people who have specifically modified their bikes to be louder than the factory spec. The reasoning is that if other motor vehicles can hear you coming, they are less likely to run into you. This reasoning is the rationale behind setting your bike up such that it can be heard from blocks away, startling neighbours in their houses who are not the people you’re intending to protect yourself from.

Not only is this myth 100 percent wrong, it actually puts bikers at risk by dramatically increasing their risk of permanent hearing loss (as the link notes, if your vehicle runs louder than 100 decibels, exposures longer than 15 minutes could result in hearing damage).

From a pure physics standpoint, the notion that loud pipes save lives is unlikely. As noted in this article, because a motorcycle’s pipes are directed backward, the sound from those pipes is also directed backward; 77 percent of all bike hazards (ie. other vehicles) are in front of them, but vehicles in front of the bike won’t hear it until it’s either next to or in front of the other vehicle. If you’ve ever been startled by a loud bike coming alongside your car when you didn’t see it approaching from behind you, you know this to be true.

But that’s just the beginning.

The gold standard when it comes to analysis of motorcycle accidents and causes is the Hurt Report, published in 1981 and written by Professor Harry Hurt, along with J.V. Ouellet and D.R. Thom. The five-year study examined the police reports of more than 900 motorcycle crashes and summarized 55 key points with regards to the outcomes of the incidents.

The word “noise” does not appear in any of the 55 points. The word “loud” does not appear, nor does the word “pipes.” In a study of over 900 bike crashes, not a single mention of noise being a factor is noted, not as a cause of incidents or as a preventative measure to prevent them.

What it does point out is this:

7. The failure of motorists to detect and recognize motorcycles in traffic is the predominating cause of motorcycle accidents. The driver of the other vehicle involved in collision with the motorcycle did not see the motorcycle before the collision, or did not see the motorcycle until too late to avoid the collision.

14. Conspicuity of the motorcycle is a critical factor in the multiple vehicle accidents, and accident involvement is significantly reduced by the use of motorcycle headlamps (on in daylight) and the wearing of high visibility yellow, orange or bright red jackets.

18. Conspicuity of the motorcycle is most critical for the frontal surfaces of the motorcycle and rider.

24. The motorcycle riders involved in accidents are essentially without training; 92% were self-taught or learned from family or friends. Motorcycle rider training experience reduces accident involvement and is related to reduced injuries in the event of accidents.

34. Motorcycles equipped with fairings and windshields are underrepresented in accidents, most likely because of the contribution to conspicuity and the association with more experienced and trained riders.

To sum up, if you, as a motorcycle rider, want to maximize your chances of survival, get yourself some driver training and make yourself as visible as possible. I recognize that going to school and wearing colours other than black aren’t the sorts of things “cool” people might do, but education and hi-vis saves lives.

 

Flannery Safety Consulting provides services in the Lethbridge area and can be reached at jim@flannerysafetyconsulting.com

You can also follow us on Facebook and on Twitter.

Flannery Safety’s Chinook Entrepreneur Challenge Experience

 

Scan 1

Flannery Safety Consulting decided to throw its hat into the ring this year and compete in the Chinook Entrepreneur Challenge. As noted on their website, the Chinook Challenge “is a business plan writing competition designed and targeted toward new or existing business (individuals or teams) who have a sustainable and high-growth business idea.” We thought our business plan was pretty strong so we made the decision to submit it and see what happened.

Well, on June 1 of this year, we were named Runner Up in the General Business Stream (the Challenge also has a Technology Stream for high-tech business ideas). Considering that Flannery Safety Consulting is less than a year old, we’re living in a city that is still relatively new to us, and that I’m not an entrepreneur by nature, this was a huge honour.

Being named a finalist was pretty exciting all by itself. It told us that our business was on the right track and that professional business people looking at us from the outside thought we had a good and sustainable business model. I’ve felt pretty good about our prospects since starting this venture, but having that feeling reaffirmed was really satisfying.

I can’t emphasize enough that this award would not have happened without a ton of help.

My wife—who is assisting me with keeping the books, transcription, paying the bills, and more—was invaluable for her work on the cash flow analysis, doing research, and the subtle but critical task of formatting our submission.

We would have been dead in the water without going through the execuserv plus Self Employment Program, which gave us the tools to actually make the business function as well as training us on how to write a good business plan. Without the guidance we received by going through this program, I doubt we’d still be in business today.

I also have to thank my friend and mentor, Kelli-Rae Ennis of TMH Business Coaching, who had some great suggestions on how to improve our business plan and who has been a cheerleader and source of inspiration to us from the day I decided to give this whole self-employment thing a try.

I also have to thank my network of business associates through BNI Key Connections. Trying to get this business off the ground and find clients without this great group of people lending a hand would have been difficult, if not impossible.

In addition to the prizes we received for earning runner-up status in the Chinook Challenge, there was one other unexpected bonus:

Scan

Getting recognition from the Canadian Federal Government was pretty cool, I must say. Thanks to our MP, Rachael Harder for the certificate and the congratulations!

 

Flannery Safety Consulting provides services in the Lethbridge area and can be reached at jim@flannerysafetyconsulting.com

You can also follow us on Facebook and on Twitter.

International Day of Mourning

DOMsticker_2013

April 28 is the International Day of Mourning, honouring and remembering the people who were injured or died as a result of occupational injury or disease in the previous year. Started in Canada, it is now observed in over 80 countries.

In Alberta in 2015 there were 125 lives lost due to workplace injury or illness, roughly one every three days. The official 2015 injury numbers have not yet been compiled, but in a typical year about 27,500 workers per year suffer a lost-time injury (ie. an injury severe enough to require the worker to miss at least one full day), about 43,100 workers per year undergo a modified work claim (the worker’s duties must be changed temporarily to accommodate working while recovering from injury), and about 54,300 workers per year suffer a disabling injury. Added together, that means that roughly one worker in 20 in Alberta will suffer a serious injury this year.

This is an enormous human cost. It affects the co-workers, family, and friends of injured people, changing their lives in the short and long term as they deal with the injured worker’s inability to do all things s/he used to be able to do. Or worse, dealing with the permanent loss of that individual, looking for answers and closure, and trying to live with that hole in their own lives.

And then there’s the societal impact. With more than 100,000 serious workplace injuries every year in Alberta, additional pressure is put on our health care system dealing with the immediate injury and subsequent rehabilitation. Houses have to be renovated at huge cost to accommodate people who lose the use of their legs. Workers who miss time due to injury are compensated by WCB, which costs Alberta companies more than a billion dollars every year in premiums.

In my line of work I’ve seen many serious injuries, from lacerations to partial amputations, to crushed fingers to broken bones to burns. I’ve seen first-hand what damage injuries in the workplace can do and the harm they do not only to the injured workers but to the people around them. Some people never recover from the physical injuries; even more never really recover from the psychological damage. I remain in this business because I’m committed to helping reduce the severity of injuries or prevent them entirely so fewer people have to deal with this trauma.

On April 28, please be sure to take a moment to think about all the people whose lives have been affected or stolen from them by workplace incidents.

Farms and Ranches Moving Forward in Response to Bill 6

Photo: Tracey Flannery

Photo: Tracey Flannery

While attending the Lethbridge Ag Expo last week, I found some great news at the Alberta Wheat Commission table: the government of Alberta is stepping up their educational program for farms and ranches, coming out of the changes from the Enhanced Protection for Farm and Ranch Workers Act, better known as Bill 6.

The ministry of Agriculture and Forestry now has a FarmSafe Alberta page up with tons of good information on topics such as keeping kids safe and links to the SafeFarm newsletter.

Most importantly, information can be found there on one- and two-day workshops being held around the province in the next few weeks giving people information on how to put together a safety program that will comply with provincial Occupational Health and Safety legislation. This program is also being promoted by several key industry leaders: the Alberta Wheat Commission, Alberta Barley, Alberta Pulse Growers, and the Alberta Canola Producers Commission.

The workshops are free to attend and could be an outstanding opportunity for people struggling to figure out how to deal with the new OHS requirements to be given some clear direction on what they need to do to comply with the legislation.

Jim provides safety consulting services in the Lethbridge area and can be reached at jim@flannerysafetyconsulting.com

You can also follow us on Facebook and on Twitter.