Mike Burk of GED Integrated Solutions, an expert on glass safety in the workplace, spoke on that topic during the recent American Architectural Manufacturers Association (AAMA) Annual Conference in Huntington Beach, Calif.

Last year, AAMA created the Manufacturing Safety Forum so those in the industry could compare and share best practices and safety tips. Burk has been running the Insulating Glass Manufacturers Alliance (IGMA) Glass Safety Awareness Council since 2011. The council seeks to create and promote awareness of safety issues facing the insulating glass industry. The Council documents incidents when someone in the industry gets hurt and reviews media and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) reports.

“Our reports are anonymous, so no names or company names are used,” said Burk. “We then give that information to others, so they can prevent the same kind of thing happening again.”

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, workplace deaths are 2 percent higher than in 2013, and 2014 saw the highest death toll since 2011.

“About 40 percent of fatal industries in the workplace are transportation-related, but 11 percent are equipment- or manufacturing-related,” said Burk.

Burk’s advice to companies is to report near-misses in the workplace too, rather than trying to hide them, in order to prevent similar incidents. He also said to shut down the use of short cuts, which are commonly used in order to meet quotas and production goals, because the practice can be unsafe.

“You’ll find workarounds to save time in every plant you go to,” said Burk. “Find out what’s wrong, fix it and take those short cuts away.”

He brought to mind a frequent phrase used in the airline industry, which asks patrons to stay seated “for the safety of you and those around you.”

“It’s not just you,” said Burk. “It’s other people at risk, too.”

Burk added that it’s important to stress personal safety equipment and that manufacturers are responsible for sharing safety information with employees. Luckily, outside resources can help, such as the OSHA and Safety and Health Achievement Recognition Program (SHARP).

“Maybe you’re afraid to invite them in, but if something happens or if someone complains, they’ll be there anyway,” said Burk.

When it comes to drug and alcohol policies, Burk says it’s important to look at testing policies and define “under the influence.”

“You need to have some rules,” Burk said, adding that many states with workers compensation programs won’t pay if drugs or alcohol are involved in an accident.

Burk suggested companies offer training webinars and use media resources and outlets to get information and awareness out about safety. Simple workplace videos played on a loop can serve as regular reminders.

Burk offered an alternate acronym for the letters IGMA: “I” for Instruction; “G” for Gear; “M” for Move; and “A” for Attitude. Move is very crucial, said Burk, stressing the importance of moving away from, as opposed to attempting to catch, a falling item.

Most importantly, Burk advised attendees to keep these tips in the minds of employees.

“Do a lot of reminding,” Burk said. “At every meeting, and every time you get together, drive it home.”