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Safe Lifting

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Space Heaters

November Safety Tip

Space Heaters

The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) estimates that more than 25,000 residential fires and more than 300 deaths are caused each year by space heaters. More than 6,000 Americans receive hospital emergency room care annually for burn injuries associated with room heaters.

To reduce the risk of a fire or injury, consider the following:

  • Make sure the heater you buy carries a certification label from an independent testing organization, like UL or CSA International
  • Ensure there is a smart sensor that shuts the heater off when it overheats and a tip over switch that does the same if the heater is knocked over
  • Avoid placing heaters too close to curtains, bedding, and upholstered furniture, papers, boxes
  • Be aware that most space heaters do not come with a GFCI plug which prevents electric shock, and should not be used around water.
  • Do not plug any other electrical devices into the same outlet as the heater.
  • Place space heaters on level, flat surfaces. Never place heaters on cabinets, tables, furniture, or carpet, which can overheat and start a fire.
  • Always unplug and safely store the heater when it is not in use.
  • Do not use an extension cord. If you must use an extension cord, make sure it is marked #14 or #12 AWG. AWG stands for American Wire Gauge. A higher AWG indicates that there more bundled sheathed wires and stronger insulation.
  • Don’t use heaters in basements or workshops. Proximity to furnaces, paint cans, gas cans, matches, or other combustible materials is a major hazard. Basements and workshops also do not provide an ideal place for a heater.

November 2018 Safety Tip:  Space Heaters

 

Fire Safety Tips

October Safety Tip

Fire Safety Tips 

How can I protect against fire?

Fire is a deadly threat to any household. It can strike anywhere, at any time. You must be prepared by using the tools for fire protection.

Smoke alarms provide a warning of fire. Smoke alarms are the easiest, most cost-efficient way to alert your family of a developing fire. The more smoke alarms you have installed in your home, the more your chances increase that you will be alerted to a fire.

Fire extinguishers provide a tool to fight small fires. Having a fire extinguisher in your home can increase your chances of keeping a small fire from getting out of control and becoming a deadly rage.

Using both smoke alarms and fire extinguishers in your home, along with knowing what to do in case of fire, can help save your life!

I have one smoke alarm in my home. Is that enough protection against fire?

No, several smoke alarms and fire extinguishers must be installed and maintained for proper fire protection. The NFPA recommends smoke alarms be installed on every level of the home, and inside every bedroom and sleeping area. Smoke alarms should also be installed in the main corridor outside each bedroom area. Fire extinguishers should be installed on each living level, as well as in rooms that pose potential fire hazards (i.e., kitchen, garage, and workshop).

Installing and maintaining smoke alarms and fire extinguishers dramatically increases your family’s chances of surviving a fire.

Other important considerations include:

  • Mount smoke alarms in the middle of the ceiling when ceiling mounted. If that is not possible, mount detectors on the wall at least three feet away from a corner and 4 – 6 inches away from the ceiling.
  • Keep smoke alarms away from drafts created by fans or air ducts. The moving air can blow smoke away from the sensor.
  • Avoid placing smoke alarms too near the kitchen stove and bathroom shower, as cooking smoke and shower steam can cause nuisance alarms.
  • Mount fire extinguishers on a wall 3 1/2 to 5 feet above the floor. The location should be near an exit or an escape route from the room.

What types of smoke alarms are there?

There are two basic types of smoke alarms: ionization and photoelectric. Both are effective at detecting smoke, yet each has a unique detecting system.

  • Ionization technology is generally more sensitive than photoelectric technology at detecting small particles which tend to be produced in greater amounts by flaming fires, which consume combustible materials rapidly and spread quickly. Sources of these fires may include paper burning in a wastebasket, or a grease fire in the kitchen.
  • Photoelectric technology is generally more sensitive than ionization technology at detecting large particles, which tend to be produced in greater amounts by smoldering fires, which may smolder for hours before bursting into flame. Sources of these fires may include cigarettes burning in couches or bedding. Each type of detector also comes as AC-operated smoke alarms or battery-operated smoke alarms. Some AC alarms even come with a battery back-up system. Additional options can include an escape light, silencing button, or remote control mute feature.

What types of fire extinguishers are there?

Fire extinguishers are categorized by ratings. These ratings determine the size and type of fire that the extinguisher can successfully put out. Fire can be divided into three categories: A, B, or C. An “A” type fire is primarily wood, paper and fabric. “B” type fires are primarily flammable liquids (such as gasoline) and oil based. Finally, “C” type fires are electrical in nature.

The number preceding the A, B, or C rating determines how big of a professionally set fire the extinguisher can put out. For example, a 10-B:C extinguisher would be able to handle a 25 foot square fire of either flammable liquid or electrical origin. A 5-B:C extinguisher could handle a 12.5 square foot fire that is flammable liquid or electrical based.

What should I do if I hear the smoke alarms sound?

NEVER IGNORE THE SOUND OF A SMOKE ALARM.  If the smoke alarm is sounding its alarm, there is a reason. You and your family must be able to escape quickly and safely. Here are several steps your family can learn and rehearse for an emergency:

  1. Have an escape plan. Discuss and practice your escape plans. Know two exits from any room in the house.
  2. Feel if the door is hot. Always feel the door to see if it is hot before opening It to escape. If the doorknob or door is hot, do not use that exit. Use your alternate exit to escape.
  3. Crawl on the floor. Smoke from a fire rises and so does the temperature. If you crawl on the floor there will be less smoke and the heat from the fire will be less severe.
  4. Meet at a prearranged spot outside the home. If you clearly show where everyone is supposed to meet outside the home when there is a fire, it will be easier to know who is safe.
  5. Call the fire department from a neighbor’s home. Be prepared to give your full name and address to the operator at the other end of the line. Stay on the line until the operator has all of the information needed.
  6. Never go inside a burning building. Never return inside the house for any reason. The firefighters will be there soon.

If you follow these basic fire safety tips, you will increase your family’s chances for survival in a fire.

Are there other ways I can protect my family from fires?

The following is a fire safety checklist to lower the chances that a fire may start in your home:

  • Keep the furnace in working order.
  • Use a fireplace screen.
  • Have proper ventilation for heaters and other small appliances.
  • Do not smoke in bed.
  • Use the correct size fuses.
  • Don’t use worn out electrical wiring or run it under rugs or out windows or doors.
  • Clear refuse away-the less clutter, the less fuel a fire has to feed on.

Tips for testing and maintaining smoke alarms

  • The National Fire Protection Association recommends testing your smoke alarms at least once a month.
  • Make sure everyone in the home understands the sound of a smoke alarm and how to respond.
  • Follow the user manual instructions for cleaning and maintaining smoke alarms for proper functionality.
  • Smoke alarms require a new battery at least once a year or if a low battery chirp occurs.
  • Smoke alarms should be replaced every 10-years.
  • Smoke alarms with a 10-year sealed battery should be replaced once it exceeds its life expectancy or if a low battery chirp occurs.
  • When replacing a battery, follow the user manual which includes a full list of approved batteries.
  • Smoke alarms should be maintained according to the user manual.
  • All First Alert user manuals are located on www.firstalert.com within each product page.
  • The NFPA recommends smoke alarms be installed on every level of the home, including the basement.
  • Plan and practice an escape route with your family. If there is an emergency, everyone will know how to exit the home safely and where to meet.

 

October 2018 Safety Tip:  Fire Safety Tips

 

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