Maryland State Highway Administration accelerates on road to safety with 65% decrease in lost work days

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Courtesy of IHS

The Maryland State Highway Administration (MSHA) ensures safe and efficient travel for the state's 4 million motorists by maintaining more than 16,000 lane miles of dedicated roadways. MSHA employs 3,200 persons, most of whom perform tasks that support the agency's traffic safety programs or highway operations.

MSHA uses Compliance Suite Safety Management Software by ESS to enable safety administrators to track on-the-job accident and injury trends, and implement programs to mitigate or prevent injuries. The software has played a major role in a highly successful safety management program in which MSHA worker injuries have steadily declined for nearly a decade. For example, between 2003 and 2006, MSHA third-quarter statistics show that OSHA-recordable injuries dropped 29 percent and lost work days fell 65 percent. During the same period, the agency reduced its incident rate (injuries per 100 employees) by 29 percent and incident severity rate (lost days per 100 employees) by 63 percent.

In addition, new online procedures have made safety reporting more efficient, as accident reports are automated and virtually paperless, consistent with the goals of the federal Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995.

Safety management is a top priority for senior administrators, said MSHA system administrator Chuck Wanken, and the ESS system is a key tool in the safety management program. Officials have grown more confident in the quality and accuracy of reports, and safety mangers have a higher level of engagement, as evidenced by an increase data volume, which has tripled in recent years.

'We've been able to incorporate the software into our safety program as a piece of the overall safety puzzle. We're getting better information, and more localized information,' said Samuel P. Hall, MSHA Safety Management Consultant. 'The safety manager can't be everywhere all the time, so direct data entry into the system helps make (MSHA processes) timely and virtually paperless.'

Prior to acquiring its ESS software solution, incidents were recorded using a system that allowed data entry from just one single centralized location. The resulting process meant that periodic reports did not always contain up-to-date information, because injury reports were mailed from remote locations where incidents occurred to the MSHA Headquarters. Typically, a reporting lag time ensued; delays could range from 30 to 90 days.

Following a routine agency review, officials acquired ESS software to streamline its compliance reporting. The software paid immediate dividends by enabling users statewide to enter accident and injury data.

Instead of receiving accident reports by mail, they are entered directly into the system within 24 hours of an incident occurrence by one of 76 designated users. That enables officials statewide to manage and monitor reports that accurately reflect current MSHA safety trends.

In addition, MSHA used the safety management platform to increase productivity through an initiative that assigns injured workers to temporary modified duties where they can perform less strenuous tasks while they recuperate. The software generated reports indicating that a significant number of injured employees were opting to take extended sick time following an injury. So MSHA management explored the possibility of reassigning workers to less strenuous tasks.

Subsequent reports created by MSHA validate that the Temporary Modified Duty program as well the dedication of MSHA's Safety Management Representatives have worked well.

'We're able to show more productivity in our workplace even from those employees who are on restrictive duty. This wasn't something that we tracked before,' said Sam 'Now we're able to trend restrictive time for our internal purposes. It's the one safety graph with high numbers that we like.'

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