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Contact Dermatitis

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November Safety Tip

Contact Dermatitis

Dermatitis is a painful skin condition which can be prevented. It is caused by a reaction to a substance on your skin. The symptoms include red, swollen and tender skin, hot and itchy patches or in severe cases, blisters. Exposure over a long period of time can cause thickening of the skin.

Contact dermatitis is caused by direct contact with the substances. There are two different kinds of contact dermatitis. One is an irritant dermatitis – a simple case of irritation caused by contact with the substance. The other type is allergic dermatitis, when repeated exposures to the substance cause the body to develop an allergic reaction. This reaction can then be triggered by even very small quantities of the substance.

Acids, alkalis, mineral oils, solvents, bleaches, glues, pollen, wood dusts, nickel, some types of vegetables and fruits and even antibiotics are just a few examples of the substances which can cause dermatitis in some people.

Heat, friction and dirt can also cause and aggravate dermatitis. Sweating and repetitive friction on your skin, combined with dirt and bacteria, can be a sure-fire recipe for dermatitis.

Here are some suggestions on how to prevent it:

  • Follow safe procedures when dealing with potential irritants.
  • Always read the manufacturer’s instructions for using the product.
  • Refer to the SDS (Safety Data Sheet) for information on safe handling and PPE required.
  • Avoid spills and splashes and clean up messes promptly.
  • Wear proper protection for the task. Use the correct gloves or other PPE for the job.
  • Stay clean by using soap and washing your hands and arms. Always rinse your hands and other exposed areas thoroughly. Dry your skin completely with clean paper towels.
  • Use a good hand cream to replace the oils in your skin after washing.
  • Keep your body free of irritants by changing into clean clothes at the end of your work day. Wash contaminated clothing frequently and separately from your other clothing.
  • Never keep an oily rag tucked in your pocket. It can lead to dermatitis under your clothing.
  • Report early signs of skin irritation.
  • Have minor cuts and scrapes treated promptly, because irritating substances can enter the skin through these routes.
  • Employees should report any swelling, redness, or unusual symptoms to their supervisor.

Smoke Alarms at Home

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October Safety Tip

 

SMOKE ALARMS AT HOME

Smoke alarms are a key part of a home fire escape plan.  When there is a fire, smoke spreads fast.  Working smoke alarms give you early warning so you can get outside quickly.

Safety Tips

  • Install smoke alarms in every bedroom. They should also be outside each sleeping area and on every level of the home.  Install alarms in the basement.
  • Large homes may need extra smoke alarms.
  •  It is best to use interconnected smoke alarms. When one smoke alarm sounds, they all sound.
  • Test all smoke alarms at least once a month. Press the test button to be sure the alarm is working.
  • Current alarms on the market employ different types of technology including multi-sensing, which could include smoke and carbon monoxide combined.
  • Today’s smoke alarms will be more technologically advanced to respond to a multitude of fire conditions, yet mitigate false alarms.
  • A smoke alarm should be on the ceiling or high on a wail. Keep smoke alarms away from the kitchen to reduce false alarms.  They should be at least 10 feet (3 meters) from the stove.
  • People who are hard-of-hearing or deaf can use special alarms these alarms have strobe lights or bed shakers.
  • Replace all smoke alarms when they are 10 years old.

Facts

  • A closed door may slow the spread of smoke, heat, and fire.
  • Smoke alarms should be installed inside every sleeping room, outside each separate sleeping area, and on every level. Smoke alarms should be connected so when one sounds, they all sound.  Most homes do not have this level of protection.
  • Roughly 3 out of 5 fire deaths happen in homes with no smoke alarms or no working smoke alarms.

 

NATIONAL FIRE
PROTECTION ASSOCIATION
The leading information and knowledge resource
on fire, electrical and related hazards

Safe Lifting

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September Safety Tip

 

 

Safe Lifting

Lifting is something that is a part of most jobs.  Whether we are moving a heavy box of materials or a stack of papers, long-term lifting is strenuous on the body and can cause aches and pains.  In fact, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, back and lifting injuries are the leading cause of missed workdays – an average of 12 days away from work.  This is why it is so important to use lift assist equipment like pulleys or hand trucks when available.  When you do not have these tools on hand or they are not practical, then it is important to use proper lifting techniques to reduce your chance for injury.

Prevention and planning are perfect solutions for most hazard abatement in the workplace.  With proper safety training, implementation of safe lifting techniques, and the use of the following safe lifting tips, you should be able to greatly reduce the risk of back and lifting injuries.

  • Before lifting, assess what you are lifting and where it is going. Recognize how heavy the object is and determine if you can lift it by yourself, or if you need assistance.  Never hesitate to ask for help if it is too heavy.
  • Before lifting, check your pathway to your final destination. There should not be any trip hazards or debris in your path.
  • Never hold your breath while you lift an object. Exhale out when performing the lift.
  • When carrying an object, do not bend or twist at the waist. If you need to turn, turn slowly with your feet first.
  • Do not use a partial grip on an object, always use two hands.
  • Do not obstruct your vision with an object you are carrying.
  • Never forget to wear your personal protective equipment, such as gloves for grip or shoulder pads (if needed) to cushion the load.

Rest and Recovery 101

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August Safety Tip

 

 

Rest and Recovery 101

 “Sleep is the golden chain that ties health and our bodies together.” ~Thomas Dekker

The Importance of Rest and Recovery

Understanding the significance of adequate recovery and sleep time, and the relationship between rest and overall health and well-being is very important. When we don’t get enough sleep, our body goes into a state of stress.

The increased release of stress hormones raises the level of inflammation in the body and causes a rise in blood pressure.

If rest and sleep deficits persist over time, we become more vulnerable to various chronic diseases. Sleep deprivation has been linked to increased risk of obesity, heart disease, cancer, inflammation, and mental disorders.

When our body does not get adequate time for rest and recovery, we can develop a sleep deficit that is very difficult to recover from.

Rest and Recovery Strategies

If you are not getting good rest, here are a few strategies that you should consider:

  • Make sure that your bed is big enough and comfortable for you.
  • Invest in the best when it comes to your mattress and pillow; you deserve it.
  • Keep your bedroom quiet, dark, and on the cool side.
  • If at all possible, go to bed and wake up at the same time every day.
  • Make up for lost sleep with a daytime nap.
  • Consider eliminating caffeine after lunch and reducing your overall intake.
  • Avoid exercise before bedtime—it’s a stimulant that can make it hard to sleep.
  • Alcohol and smoking before bedtime reduces sleep quality.

THINK PREVENTION!

Prevention is always better than treatment! Getting an adequate amount of rest and recovery is a proactive strategy to live longer and stay well.

Heat Stress

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July Safety Tip

6 Ways to Prevent Heat Stress at Work

You can treat heat stress, but preventing it is even better.   Here are the steps you need to know to do both.

There are several potential heat-related problems workers may face as June stretches into July, August, and September, traditionally the hottest months of the year.  Heat problems kill some 4,000 Americans yearly, including the very young and old, those with diseases such as diabetes that disrupt the body’s temperature control mechanism, and those working in the heat. That last group puts the issue in your hands.

Heat problems themselves come in three varieties: heat cramps, heat exhaustion (also called heat prostration or collapse,) and the real killer, heatstroke. Collectively, these conditions are known as heat stress.

For heat cramps:  Get out of the hot environment, stop using your large muscles, drink water, and replace electrolytes.

For heat exhaustion:  Get out of the heat and take off any excessive clothing, particularly around the head and neck.  Drink a liter of water (slowly, so nausea doesn’t develop), lie down with your feet up, and use a fan for cooling.  The problem should go away in 30 minutes. If not, medical attention may be needed.

Heatstroke is a medical emergency.  Your first and biggest objective is to lower the [body’s] core temperature by any means available. This includes cold packs on the neck, armpits, and groin, coverage with wet sheets or towels, and placement in a highly air-conditioned room. Medical help should be summoned immediately. 

6 ways to prevent heat illness

  1. Pre-hydrate. Before activity starts, have workers drink up to 16 ounces of fluid. Then drink 8 ounces every 20 minutes during the activity.
  2. Drink flavored water. Plain water quenches thirst too quickly, so workers tend to not drink enough of it.
  3. Acclimate to the heat slowly, over 5 to 7 days of exposure. For new workers, institute a 20 percent increase of time in the heat for each day. Workers already used to these conditions can increase exposure slightly faster, but 4 days out of the heat means re-acclimation will be needed.
  4. Don’t wear a hat. It restricts heat loss through the head. Workers operating in direct sunlight can wear a visor.
  5. Wear loose, thin synthetic fabrics. They help the skin stay cool through evaporation. Avoid cotton as it soaks up sweat, forestalling evaporation.
  6. Wear your PPE no matter what the temperature. It can’t protect you if it’s not on you. If it’s uncomfortable, take frequent breaks.

Dangers of Loose, Long Hair

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June Safety Tip

Dangers of Loose, Long Hair

Having long hair that is not properly secured can be extremely dangerous because it can become caught in moving machine parts. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are about 5,000 deaths per year from workplace accidents, some of which involves workers being pulled into machines by loose clothing or hair. Additionally, workers’ hair becoming entangled in equipment, even when non-fatal, is a serious problem that can cause injuries such as scalping and facial disfigurement.

OSHA Regulations

OSHA has set forth regulations so that this type of accident can be prevented. Employers are responsible for ensuring that their employees have securely fastened their hair. If they do not, employers can face hefty fines. Employees are required to cover and protect long hair to prevent it from getting caught in machine parts such as belts, chain and rotating parts. Employees are also encouraged to pay close attention to work pieces that have slots or other surface profiles that may increase the risk of entanglement. They should keep clothing, loose jewelry and hair away from rotating and moving parts, as they may become caught.

Acceptable Hairstyles

Hair longer than four inches can be drawn into machine parts such as suction devices, blowers, chains, belts and rotating devices. It can even be drawn into machines guarded with mesh. Therefore, hair must be securely fastened with a bandanna, hair net, soft cap or the like. According to OSHA regulations, “securely fastened” means that hair is tied back into a bun or a knot without any loose locks. Ponytails are acceptable for the most part, though if hair is extremely long, ponytails may still be blown into a machine part by the wind or sucked in when the worker bends down.

 

 

Treating a Puncture Wound

Blog

May Safety Tip

Treating a puncture wound

Puncture wounds can be serious. They often have small openings, but the objects tend to go in deep, which can make the injured worker vulnerable to a blood infection.

Common work-related puncture wounds include stepping on a nail or being injured by a nail gun or being pierced by a piece of metal.

Treatment

The Mayo Clinic recommends following these treatment tips in the event you or a co-worker suffers a puncture wound:

  • Make sure your hands are clean. Clean hands help prevent infections.
  • Try to stop the bleeding by gently applying pressure to the wound with a clean cloth or bandage.
  • Clean the wound by rinsing it with water for five to 10 minutes. If dirt or debris remains in the wound and can’t be removed, see a doctor.  Keep the skin around the wound clean by using soap and a washcloth.
  • Apply a small amount of an antibiotic cream to the wound area, but be aware that some people may experience mild rashes from these creams. Stop using the cream if this occurs and seek medical care.
  • Cover the wound with bandages, and change the dressing at least once a day or when the bandage gets wet or becomes dirty.
  • Keep a watchful eye for signs of an infection, including redness, increasing pain, drainage or swelling.
  • Seek immediate medical help if the wound continues to bleed after a few minutes of direct pressure; is the result of an animal or human bite; or is deep, dirty or caused by a metal object.

Source: National Safety Council

 

 

Safe Manual Handling

Blog

April Safety Tip

Good Material Handling Tips

A big part of back health is awareness of not only proper posture but what factors may contribute to injury.  Some factors include:

  • Postures (awkward or sustained) – there doesn’t have to be a weight to cause stress to the back. Sometimes just the awkward posture alone can be stressful.  The best posture is upright; avoid forward bending, backward bending, twisting, bending laterally/sideways.  This can include extended forward reaching, which causes us to also forward bend.
  • Repetition
  • Manual forces: LIFTING ISN’T THE ONLY CONCERN!!!  We should also be cognizant of:
    • Lowering loads
    • Pushing loads
    • Pulling loads
    • Carrying loads

Overall, manual lifting should be our last resort!  Instead, first ask if there is a device that can be used instead.  For example, rather than carrying a heavy item, is there a cart that can be used to safely move the item?  The second priority is to get physical assistance, someone to assist you.  The last resort or option is to handle the item alone (only if safe to do so).  Use these rules to give your back a break!

 

 

Severe Weather Safety

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March Safety Tip

Six Steps for Severe Weather Safety

  1. Be familiar with severe weather threats: Know the difference between posted watches and warnings.  A watch means conditions are favorable for the watch area; a warning means severe weather is detected.  NOAA publishes a Hazardous Weather Outlook at various intervals daily which can give you more notice on the potential for severe weather.  See https://www.weather.gov/
  2. Be able to receive warnings and information: Have at least a radio (a weather radio which gives audible alarms is better).  Many sources such as smart phone apps and alerts are available.  Don’t rely on public sirens as often machinery may block people from hearing them.
  3. Have trained spotters: Spotters provide the “ground truth” sometimes before watches and warnings can be issued.  Check with local emergency management/the National Weather Service for local, free classes.
  4. Have designated shelters: Ensure everyone knows where to go and the alarm that signals this.  Shelters should be away from potential flying debris, glass and not near exterior walls or in areas with wide-span roofs.  Rooms with no windows and interior walls may be good.  It is also good to cover the head and be able to get under something sturdy.
  5. Have a plan and make sure everyone is trained. This includes people working outdoors, on business travel, vendors, and guests.
  6. Conduct drills: Practice makes perfect – hold regular drills and always hold a debriefing afterward to discuss how to improve the next drill.  March is a perfect time to have a severe weather drill before “tornado season” hits.

For more information, see this link on preparing for and surviving a Tornado.

 

Safety Incentives and OSHA

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February Safety Tip

Safety Incentives and OSHA

Safety Incentives have been a hot topic the past few years with respect to OSHA.  With the 2015 revision to the OSHA Recordkeeping rule, certain safety incentive program elements were prohibited.  However, OSHA recently modified this policy to allow reporting-based incentive programs again.  This means that employers can again offer a prize or bonus at the end of an injury-free month, and managers can be evaluated based on their work unit’s lack of injuries.

OSHA recently published a letter of interpretation that states that in order to implement safety incentive programs of these types, the employer must ensure that employees are not discouraged from reporting injuries because a prize or other benefit may be forfeited. 

This can be done by including additional incentive program elements such as

  • awarding employees for identifying unsafe conditions in the workplace,
  • conducting training on reporting injuries or illnesses, and
  • awarding employees for participating in a safety audit or a root cause investigation.

If employers adopt additional precautionary measures such as the examples above, then they are free to reinstate their safety incentive programs.

The  Ultimate  Incentive

“The ultimate safety incentive is a larger understanding of why employees should want to be safe.  At the end of the day, it is not so the company will stay under OSHA’s radar. And it certainly is not so that everyone can earn a T-shirt.   It’s so the employee is able to go home to his or her loved ones – who are the reasons he or she comes to work in the first place.”  Jim Stanley, ehstoday.com  

February 2019 Safety Tip: Safety Incentives and OSHA

Fatigue At Work

Blog

January Safety Tip

Fatigue at Work – A Safety Nightmare In The Making

Fatigue is the state of feeling very tired, weary or sleepy. It results from not getting enough sleep, shiftwork, prolonged mental or physical work, or extended periods of stress or anxiety. Fatigue impacts work performance and safety and can cause health problems.

The risk of making mistakes at work increases dramatically if workers sleep for less than seven to eight hours, or are awake for more than 17 consecutive hours. One of the most important ways to protect against fatigue is to get enough rest. For most people that means seven to eight hours of sleep per night. 

Employers and supervisors should be concerned about the impact of fatigue in the workplace as it can be considered a form of impairment, making fatigue a workplace hazard. However, fatigue levels are not easily measured or quantified; therefore, it is difficult to isolate the effect of fatigue on accident and injury rates. Awareness and observation of changes in behavior is one method to identify fatigue. Factors that may influence fatigue are shift rotation patterns, balanced workloads, timing of tasks and activities, availability of resources, and the workplace environment (e.g., lighting, ventilation, temperature, etc.).

Research has shown that the number of hours awake can be similar to blood alcohol levels. One study reports the following:

  • 17 hours awake is equivalent to a blood alcohol content of 0.05
  • 21 hours awake is equivalent to a blood alcohol content of 0.08
  • 24-25 hours awake is equivalent to a blood alcohol content of 0.10

Fatigue affects people differently but it can increase a worker’s hazard exposure by:

  • reducing mental and physical functioning,
  • impairing judgement and concentration,
  • lowering motivation,
  • slowing reaction time, and
  • increasing risk-taking behavior.

Tips On Getting A Good Night Sleep

  • Go to bed and get up at the same time every day, even on weekends.
  • Don’t eat too close to bedtime, as doing so can cause heartburn and just generally make it hard to fall asleep. Do eat a balanced diet of fruits, veggies, healthy fats, proteins and whole grains.
  • Turn off your cell phone or tablet at least one hour before you go to sleep and don’t watch TV in bed.
  • Exercise regularly.
  • Eat at regular intervals and consume a balanced diet of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, healthy fats and protein.
  • If you are not sleepy, do not try to go to bed. Get up and read or do something quiet instead.
  • Avoid caffeine, tobacco or alcohol – especially before bed time.
  • Ask family members to be respectful if one person is sleeping.  Family members can use headphones for the TV and radio if necessary.
  • Make the room as dark and quiet as possible. Use heavy, dark curtains, blinds, or a sleeping eye mask. Soundproof the room where possible or use ear plugs.
  • Most people sleep better when the room is cool. Consider using an air conditioner or fan in the summer months.

 

Fatigue at Work – A Safety Nightmare in the Making

 

January 2019 Safety Tip:  Fatigue at Work

Holiday Stress

Blog

December Safety Tip

Holiday Stress

 

Coping with Stress Around the Holidays

With the end of the year comes the holiday season.  Everyone is familiar with the tension that the holidays can cause at home, and that same feeling of anxiety can spill over into the workplace.  End-of-year business demands and holiday-shortened deadlines take a toll on employee’s nerves.  According to experts, more people become depressed or anxious during the holiday season than any other time of the year. 

At the workplace, holiday-related doldrums manifest themselves in various forms, including a disengaged work force.  Productivity tends to drop off around the holidays, which can be caused by stress, but also feeling relaxed and carefree about the spirit of the season.  This shift in attitude can affect employee safety.

How can employers help their employees deal with holiday stress?  The following are some suggestions to help reduce holiday stress in the workplace:

  • Give employees a more flexible schedule to help them deal with added burdens outside the office.
  • Ease up on the dress code.
  • Incorporate wellness breaks to give employees a chance to refocus, such as a walk outside or quick team yoga session.
  • Help employees prioritize projects to manage pending deadlines.
  • Encourage employees to stay home when sick to help avoid spreading illness among the team.
  • Motivate employees to work together and share the workload.
  • Educate employees about financial wellness to assist them with budget concerns and enable them to plan ahead for holiday expenses.
  • Remind employees how important safety is in the workplace.

Employers can play a critical role in ensuring employees have the necessary support and are aware of resources that can provide assistance both during the holiday season and throughout the calendar year.

 

December 2018 Safety Tip:  Holiday Stress

 

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