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Monarch Fire District to implement incentive-based safety program

FirefighterThe Monarch Fire Protection District has announced two efforts to emphasize safety and lower costs associated with workers’ compensation claims from on-duty accidents.

Plans revealed at a recent Monarch Board of Directors meeting call for implementing an incentive-based program to reduce work-related injuries and completing a manual with safety-oriented practices and procedures covering substantially all work-related activities of on-duty personnel.

Now nearing completion, the manual already has drawn accolades from Missouri Employers Mutual, the district’s workers’ compensation insurance carrier. According to Monarch Directors Robin Harris and Jane Cunningham, the insurer has described the safety book as one of the best it has reviewed.

Deputy Chief  Nick Harper, who is heading the safety manual’s preparation, said the document is designed to be an easy-to-use source of practices and procedures covering everything from firefighting situations and the operation of emergency vehicles to training and other activities conducted in the district’s engine houses.

“This isn’t a manual that’s meant to sit on a shelf and collect dust,” Harper asserted.

He added that the district was unable to find any similar manuals in the state when work on the document began earlier this year.

According to Harper, three safety training classes will be held in October to roll out the manual and that subsequent morning roll call discussions will cover all seven chapters at the engine house level. Completion and use of the manual will tie in with the incentive-based program to reward employees for safe practices. In a review of the new effort, Monarch’s interim Chief Chuck Marsonette said it will foster a “safety culture” among all district employees.

Monarch personnel will be informed of the program so that the first steps can begin Oct. 1.

When the goal of 60 days of no injuries requiring outside treatment is reached for any or all of the district’s three shifts, an incentive raffle will be held among all registered employees.

Employees in the raffle will be asked to take a short safety quiz on the back of the raffle ticket submitted for a drawing that will award gift cards to those whose names are picked. Although no specific plans were endorsed, Marsonette suggested the prizes amounts be low enough to allow for multiple winners at each drawing. He cited three $50 gift cards as a likely award.

Marsonette noted the incentive program’s cost will be minimal compared with the potential savings in workers’ compensation claims, and the resulting insurance premiums and overtime pay required when employees must be called in for extra work when other personnel are injured.

The program also will encourage reporting of “near-miss” incidents to increase employee awareness of potential hazards. In addition, Marsonette emphasized that under-reporting of safety-related incidents will not be tolerated and will be handled with progressive disciplinary action up to and including termination.

As part of the program, all fire stations will maintain posters reminding employees on each shift of the number of days without a reportable injury.

Safety accountability will be reviewed with all employees as part of their annual performance evaluations, and all reportable injury incidents will include drug testing even if an employee refuses medical treatment.

Summarizing the program, Marsonette said, “We want all our employees to come to work healthy and to go home healthy.”

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