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THERAPY SAFETY CORNER

» Safe Driving at Night [Added: 9/24/2013]

Driving home after work can be risky for the shift worker, particularly since they have been awake all night. For the evening worker, coming home around midnight increases the risk of meeting drunk drivers. Alcohol is a leading factor in fatal traffic crashes, playing a part in about half of all motor vehicle-related deaths.

People think that opening car windows or listening to the radio will keep them awake; however, studies show that these methods do not work. In fact, these actions should be a red flag that fatigue has set in, and you need to pull over immediately. If you are sleepy when your shift is over, try to take a nap before driving home. Remember, sleep can quickly overcome you.

Why is Night Driving So Dangerous?

One obvious answer is darkness. Ninety percent of a driver's reaction depends on vision, and vision is severely limited at night. Depth perception, color recognition, and peripheral vision are compromised after sundown. Older drivers have even greater difficulties seeing at night. A 50-year old driver may need twice as much light to see as a 30-year old.

Another factor adding danger to night driving is fatigue. Drowsiness makes driving more difficult by dulling concentration and slowing reaction time.

Follow These Steps To Arrive Home Safely:
1. Carpool, if possible. Have the most alert person do the driving.
2. If you are sleepy, stop to nap, but do so in your locked car in a well-lit area.
3. Take public transportation, if possible.
4. Drive defensively.
5. Don't stop off for a "night cap."

Prepare your Car for Night Driving

Fortunately, you can take several effective measures to minimize these after-dark dangers by preparing your car and following special guidelines while you drive. The National Safety Council recommends these steps:

·  Keep headlights, tail lights, signal lights and windows (inside and out) clean.
·  Have your headlights properly aimed. Mis-aimed headlights blind other drivers and reduce your ability to see the road.
·  Eat strategically by having protein-rich food, which encourages alertness.
·  Avoid smoking and driving as smoke's nicotine and carbon monoxide hamper night vision.
·  If there is any doubt, turn your headlights on so that others can see you.
·  Reduce speed and increase your following distances.
·  Don't overdrive your headlights. You should be able to stop inside the illuminated area. If you cannot, you are creating a blind crash area in front of your vehicle.
·  When following another vehicle, keep your headlights on low beams so you do not blind the driver ahead of you.

Many of us are unaware of night driving's special hazards or don't know effective ways to deal with them. Following these simple safety tips can help save a life.


» Shocking, Simply Shocking - Electrical Hazards in the Workplace [Added: 7/1/2013]

When visiting client work sites, some of the more common hazards noted are electrical in nature. Frayed electrical cords, outlet covers or switch covers that are broken or missing, electrical cords on floors where they may be stepped on (and are a tripping hazard), and electrical cords running through puddles on wet floors are some of the very common issues. The occasional excuse is something like “oh, that’s only 110 volts like at home, it might ‘bite’ you, but won’t really hurt you.” Unfortunately, this is not the case.

Over one thousand people every year are electrocuted, most in the workplace, and many from 110-volt sources. Over 5,000 workers suffer non-fatal electrical shock each year, involving medical attention or lost time.

If a worker touches a 110-volt live terminal on the side of an unprotected switch with a broken cover plate, s/he creates a path through their body to the ground through the feet; sweat or puddled water on the floor creates a very good ground, which permits more of the voltage at a higher amperage to flow through their body. Arteries, nerves, and muscles are good conductors inside the body, further allowing current to pass.

Normal household current, also used extensively in plants and warehouses, pulses 60 times a second, alternating between positive and negative, the definition of alternating current. This pulsation can disrupt impulses that control muscles, nerves, and brain waves.

How much electricity does it take to cause a fatal injury? It depends on how good the ground is through the victim’s body, but under normal circumstances:

- 1 thousandth of an ampere can be felt. (Tingle)
- 5 thousandths of an ampere is the “Let Go” threshold, at which point muscles spasm, and the victim can’t let go of a wire or other energized object. (Painful shock)
- 50 thousandths of an ampere causes the heart to lose control of its beating rhythm, known as ventricular fibrillation, a form of heart attack.
- 1 ampere and above, chest muscles spasm so tightly that the heart and lungs cannot work, other muscles may spasm so violently that bones break, or tissue is torn off the bone, and burning of vital internal organs may occur.

For comparison, a 100- watt, 110 volt light bulb takes only 9/10 of one ampere to light.

If the grounding is enhanced by a wet floor, heavy sweating, or other factors, the effect is increased.  How and where the electricity enters the body can also have an effect on how serious the shock is—a relatively low level of voltage and current, if it passes through the heart, can set up heartbeat problems that can kill.  This is a common scenario for fatal shocks, when a worker grasps an energized object in one hand, and is grounded through the other hand. Higher voltages often used in industrial settings are even more hazardous.

When documenting client worksite evaluations, make a special note to look at electrical cords, tools, and machinery. Question cords that run across the floor where their insulation may be damaged, and question cords or other electrical installations that are in wet places. If placing maintenance personnel, inquire as to whether "hot work" (work on energized circuits) will be necessary. If so, there must be special precautions, special tools and equipment provided, adequate training, and supervision of personnel doing such work. Lockout-Tagout procedures should be in place and temporaries trained on the workplace's program specifics.


» Building a Safety Culture [Added: 12/19/2012]

In response to state and federal regulations, many organizations develop various policies and procedures regarding workplace health and safety. Such policies also evolve from a genuine effort on the part of many organizations to provide a safe and healthful work environment. While the intention is to foster a truly effective safety culture within the organization, in many cases the development of written health and safety programs has done little to contribute to reducing workplace incidents and injuries.

An organization can improve upon safety only when leaders are visibly committed to change and when they empower staff to openly share safety information. To develop a safety culture, organizations should integrate their written safety and health programs into daily operating procedures.

Senior management must drive the culture change by demonstrating their personal commitment to safety and by providing the support and resources to achieve results. Their message about safety must be consistent and sustained in order to bring about a long-term culture change.

Management must identify what the employee's needs are by focusing on the following:

- the health and safety policy;
- individual responsibilities of all parties involving safety;
- the overall safety statistics; and
- job hazard analysis and behavior-based safety.

Just listening to the employee can shed a whole new light on safety matters. Employees might voice a concern that has been overlooked or make innovative suggestions, which could make a significant impact on workplace safety.

Another way to put safety on the forefront is to have short discussions about one aspect of safety at the beginning of every shift. The more employees think about safety, the more likely they are to practice safe acts at work and at home.

An organization that successfully develops a safety culture can expect to realize immediate and tangible results in reducing workplace accidents and their associated costs. As with all safety programs, a visible commitment by senior management and communication throughout every level of the organization are key to its success.

Sources: Safetyxchange.org, The Safety 1-on-1: A Practical Tool for Building a Safety Culture by Mike Shusterman, June 2, 2005
The Importance of Developing a Safety Culture by Daniel Rogers, ARM, M.B.A.


» Choosing the Right First Aid Kits [Added: 12/10/2012]

Have you ever needed a bandage or maybe just a little hydrogen peroxide to clean a small cut? At home we might find these items in the medicine cabinet or a drawer in the bathroom, but at work, we will be looking for the first aid kit.

When it comes to setting up the first aid station for your workplace, size does not matter! The biggest kit may not always be the best, but the cheapest may not be your best selection either. Here are some rules for choosing a first aid kit and maintaining a workplace first aid station.

Rule One—Consider the level of first aid training that your employees have received. Do they need advanced first aid items like suction devices and poison control supplies? If employees are not trained to use items, they should not have access to them. Untrained personnel will try to help, but they may do more harm than good.

Rule Two—Consider the exposure. If you are setting up a kit or station for a machine shop, you may want to have plenty of wound dressing material to handle deep lacerations. If you work with chemicals, burn dressings and supplies may be in order. Think about the types of injuries that might occur and what your employees could do to stabilize the injured worker until skilled help arrives. Remember, you don’t want to encourage your employees to render first aid beyond their level of training.

Rule Three—Don’t become the pharmacy for your employees. In many cases, employers will find that making items such as antacids, aspirin, and decongestants available in the first aid kit creates a “company pharmacy” mentality with workers and they depend on the company kit for their over the counter (OTC) medication needs. There may also be some liability involved if someone from your company dispenses such OTC medication. If you choose to make the OTC items available, you must make sure that they are in labeled containers and that employees are aware of the limitations on the label regarding the medication and their work activity.

Having a good first aid kit is important and the selection of items is worthy of consideration. Here is a basic list of items for a typical office kit. For industrial applications, you can add items as needed or consult with a professional supply service for recommendations.

- Alcohol wipes
- Antiseptic hand cleaner
- Medical adhesive tape
- Sterile gauze (four inch squares are best)
- Elastic bandages
- Several sizes of adhesive bandages
- Insect bite swabs
- Triple-antibiotic ointment
- Hydrogen peroxide
- Bandage scissors
- Triangular bandages
- Instant cold packs
- Exam gloves
- Barrier device for CPR

The Body Substance Isolation items (gloves, glasses, barrier device for CPR) are critical items for any kit, since they are there to protect the first aid provider from infection. Remember, stock your kit based on what  your employees have been trained to do regarding first aid. Don’t load up on supplies that you can’t use or don’t need based on your exposure and don’t allow your first aid station to become the source of low cost OTC medications. Most importantly, focus on preventing injuries and the first aid station will be the least visited area at your site.


» Saving a Life - Heimlich Maneuver [Added: 11/21/2012]

Be prepared for the unexpected. Everyone tries to do it, but would you really be ready if a coworker, friend, or family member needed assistance?

Chances are you will encounter a choking victim at some point in your life. If someone is choking, your actions over the next few minutes could mean the difference between life and death.

Food or small objects can cause choking when they get caught in your throat and block your airway. This prevents oxygen from getting to your lungs and brain. If your brain goes without oxygen for more than four minutes, you could have brain damage or even die.

When someone is choking, quick action can be lifesaving. Learn how to do the Heimlich Maneuver on others and yourself.

A choking victim who cannot speak or breathe needs your help immediately. Follow these steps to perform the Heimlich Maneuver:

- From behind, wrap your arms around the victim's waist.
- Make a fist and place the thumb side of your fist against the victim's upper abdomen, below the ribcage and above the navel.
- Grasp your fist with your other hand and press into their upper abdomen with a quick upward thrust. Do not squeeze the ribcage; confine the force of the thrust to your hands.
- Repeat until object is expelled.

If the victim is unconscious or you cannot reach around the person's body:

- Place the victim on their back.
- Facing the victim, kneel astride the victim's hips.
- With one of your hands on top of the other, place the heel of your bottom hand on the upper abdomen below the rib cage and above the navel.
- Use your body weight to press into the victim's upper abdomen with a quick upward thrust.
- Repeat until object is expelled.

If you are alone and are choking, follow these steps to save yourself:

- Make a fist and place the thumb side of your fist against your upper abdomen, below the ribcage and above the navel.
- Grasp your fist with your other hand and press into your upper abdomen with a quick upward thrust.
- Repeat until object is expelled.

Alternatively, you can lean over a fixed horizontal object (table edge, chair, railing) and press your upper abdomen against the edge to produce a quick upward thrust. Repeat until object is expelled.

Some additional tips:

- If victim is coughing, allow them to continue, this may dislodge the food or object from their throat.
- The victim should see a physician immediately after rescue.
- Never slap the victim's back - this could make matters worse.


» Holiday Decoration Safety [Added: 10/10/2012]

'Tis the season for lights and holiday decorations. Be sure to follow these simple safety rules to prevent electrical fires and clutter hazards in your home and office.

  • All artificial trees and decorations must be listed as flame retardant by a nationally recognized testing laboratory (UL) with evidence of this (tag, label, etc.). This label must remain attached to the artificial tree or decoration at all times.
  • The use of natural (or once alive) trees and decorations is discouraged. If they are used, they should be treated with approved flame retardant.
  • Holiday lights should be checked for wear and any frayed or exposed wiring. Damaged lights should be discarded.
  • Holiday decorations must not be placed in any location that may:
    • block fire exit passageways,
    • obstruct or be attached to smoke or heat detectors, exit signs, fire alarm pull stations, or fire sprinklers,
    • obstruct 18” minimum ceiling clearance.

Have a safe and happy holiday season!


» Maintaining Safety Awareness [Added: 8/29/2012]

One of the most common frustrations voiced during work site evaluations is the difficulty involved in maintaining safety awareness among employees. It’s no easy task, but it can be done. Here are some ideas that you can share with your clients.

Communicate safety to employees on a regular basis through safety meetings, training, or observations. Some supervisors start their day with a short safety “huddle” where they will touch on one short topic that applies to what their employees are doing that day.

Other supervisors use safety observations to coach their employees. They do this by simply observing an employee for a short period of time and then providing constructive, positive feedback. This can be done by a client representative or an on-site staffing representative.

You can assist client companies in keeping employees involved in the safety process by partnering to establish safety committees, providing posters or paycheck stuffers, and by celebrating safety achievements.  Safety initiatives can also be co-sponsored during established events such as National Safety Month (in June). Effective suggestion programs can also keep employees thinking about safety.   

Some client companies use incentive programs to maintain safety awareness. This can be tricky as some incentive programs deter reporting of incidents for fear of losing the incentive offered. You can help client companies by advising them to base their program on individual performance and including such proactive measures as attending safety meetings, offering suggestions, etc.
The key to maintaining safety awareness is to keep employees actively participating in the safety process. Be sure that they know that safety is not just important at work, but at home too. Drive employee involvement by instilling accountability into the safety process, such as including safety performance in employee evaluations and bonus programs.


» Sexual Harassment in the Workplace [Added: 8/15/2012]

Sexual harassment in the workplace consists of unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, or other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature. There are two types of sexual harassment:

1. Quid Pro Quo: (Latin, meaning: something for something) This type of sexual harassment occurs when an employee’s submission to, or rejection of, a sexual advance is used as the basis for an employment decision, such as hiring, termination, assignment, or wage increase.

2. Hostile Environment: This type of sexual harassment arises when unwelcome sexual conduct creates an intimidating, hostile or offensive working environment, even though it leads to no economic consequences.

There are general guidelines for Hostile Environment Sexual Harassment. To be unlawful, the conduct or statements must be sexual in nature, unwelcome, severe and pervasive, and affect the victim’s ability to perform his or her job. To determine if an environment is hostile, courts look to the entire circumstance and whether a person would consider the conduct complained about to be sufficiently severe and pervasive in order to create a hostile environment.

Under Quid Pro Quo, the employer is liable even if the employer did not know about the conduct. For a Hostile Environment, the employer will be liable for harassment by managers, supervisors, co-workers and third parties if the employer knew, or should have known, about the harassment and failed to take prompt and appropriate corrective action.  Depending on the state law involved, the harassing manager or supervisor may be liable personally under Quid Pro Quo or Hostile Environment.

Employers should have a written policy to all applicants, employees, clients, vendors, and subcontractors which states that sexual harassment is prohibited and that harassment complaints should be promptly brought to the attention of a designated representative (at least one of whom should be a female given the volume of sexual harassment complaints filed by women).

An investigation should be initiated immediately after being made aware of the harassment situation and appropriate corrective action taken. An interview should be conducted with the alleged victim, the alleged harasser, and any witnesses that may be involved. The investigation should remain confidential to the greatest extent possible and never retaliate against or penalize any person who complains about harassment. Document all results of the investigation and any action that is taken.

Reports of sexual harassment have increased at a 40% annual rate since 1992. The effects of sexual harassment claims eat into profits, ultimately reducing benefits, salaries, etc. Avoid sexual harassment claims by watching what you say and what you do. An effective tool to preventing sexual harassment in the workplace is to conduct annual training sessions with managers, supervisors, and employees.


» Substance Abuse and Workplace Safety [Added: 8/2/2012]

Statistics show that employees who engage in substance abuse are more likely to harm themselves or others in the workplace. Statistics are impressive, but how does substance abuse affect you as an employer? It is important to screen applicants prior to hiring, especially in the staffing industry where employers do not have direct supervision over their employees.

Substance abusers often create resource-draining problems such as high absenteeism rates, low productivity, and higher healthcare and workers compensation costs. U.S. Government studies have shown that alcohol and drug abusers are three times more likely to injure themselves and/or a coworker in the workplace and five times more likely to file a workers compensation claim. All of this while being one-third less productive than non-drug abusers. A former CEO of one of the big three U.S. auto makers states that alcohol and drug abuse costs their company about $1 billon each year.

Drug and alcohol abuse can not only cause harm to the employee through lost productivity, absenteeism, increased illness, and low morale, but it can also affect others. Workers might be injured as a result of the unsafe actions of a coworker who is intoxicated. Staffing firms will not only have to replace injured workers, but they will also have to replace workers who are unable to perform at client sites or who miss work because they are less healthy.

Displaying substance abuse posters and utilizing screening questionnaires with drug testing disclaimers are an effective way to discourage applicants who have chemical dependency issues. Other red flags that could possibly indicate substance abuse include:

· Lack of focus during the application process, such as leaving information out of the application.
· Reluctance or refusal to consent to a background check.
· Job hopping - failure to list reasons for leaving previous jobs.
· Unexplained gaps in employment.

RCS recommends a strong and consistent substance abuse policy that sends a message to applicants and existing employees. That message is that substance abuse in the workplace is hazardous and will not be tolerated. Employers may also choose to address the problems of substance abuse by providing employee assistance programs through their healthcare providers and openly communicating with workers about what types of help are available.

Source: Safety+Health, November 2007


» Identifying Hazards to Safety and Health [Added: 7/18/2012]

Periodic safety inspections are an accepted best practice for the staffing industry. Since time is money, it is smart to make the most effective use of time spent on inspections. This can be done by honing your hazard identification skills.

There are several types of hazards. The most common types include physical, chemical, biological, ergonomic, and radiation. Below are some examples of each type of hazard.

PHYSICAL HAZARDS:
- Heat from a welding or cutting torch
- Electrical shock from an exposed wire
- Falling off of a loading dock

CHEMICAL HAZARDS:

- Burn from an acid or caustic substance
- Skin rash from contact with a solvent

BIOLOGICAL HAZARDS

- Exposure to cancer causing agents like asbestos
- Hearing loss from noisy environments
- Exposure to bloodborne pathogens such as HIV and Hepatitis

ERGONOMIC HAZARDS

- Poor body mechanics
- Repetitive motion
- Improper workstation arrangement

RADIATION HAZARDS

- Exposure to X-Rays
- Exposure to RF radiation

The next time you perform a work site evaluation, see how many examples you can find of each type of hazard. Remember that identifying hazards is a skill and skill is improved through practice. Practice your hazard identification skills at your office, client work sites, at home, and at play. After all, hazards exist everywhere and you can’t protect people from something that you can’t identify.


» Treating Burns [Added: 7/5/2012]

Burns are categorized by severity as first, second, or third degree. First degree burns are similar to a painful sunburn. The damage becomes more severe with second degree burns, leading to blistering and more intense pain. The skin turns white and loses sensation with third degree burns. Burn treatment depends upon the location, total burn area, and intensity of the burn.

Burns on the neck or signs of burns to the nose or mouth can require emergent guarding of the patient's airway, as swelling can result in a life-threatening airway obstruction. Burned tissue shrinks and can cause damage to underlying structures. Burns that extend circumferentially around body structures require surgical release of the tissue, often referred to as escharotomy. Finally, all eye burns require special attention immediately. Burns to the eye may lead to clouded or lost vision if tissues, such as the cornea, are injured.

Burn First Aid Treatment

1. First remove any constricting jewelry, such as rings.
2. Do NOT use butter or oils on a burn.
3. The affected area should be dowsed with cool water as soon as possible. It can be cleansed gently with chlorhexidine solution. Do NOT apply ice or cool to near-freezing temperatures (this can cause additional tissue injury).
4. A tetanus booster should be obtained if not administered within the previous 5 years.

First degree thermal burns can be treated with local skin care such as aloe vera. Many topical antibiotics and antiseptics are available in the drug store for minor burns. All second and third degree thermal burns, along with the sensitive locations listed above need immediate physician evaluation. Special topical antiseptic creams are used for more serious burns, including silver sulfdiazine, silver nitrate, and mafenide acetate creams.

Burns can be caused by heat (thermal), as well as electricity and chemicals. The treatment for chemical burns is similar to thermal burns except copious amounts of water should be used to irrigate the affected region. Contaminated clothing should be removed. Do NOT attempt to neutralize the burn with a reciprocal chemical. This may cause an adverse chemical reaction that could result in a thermal burn, too. In addition, many chemicals have specific treatments that can further reduce skin damage. Contact a local poison control center or make a trip to the local Emergency Room for further treatment options.

Reference:
Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, McGraw-Hill, edited by Eugene Braunwald, et. al., 2001.
Medical Revising Editor: William C. Shiel, Jr., MD, FACP, FACR


» Top Five OSHA Violations [Added: 5/23/2012]

cidents/injuries has been reduced to the greatest degree possible. While conducting onsite evaluations, both initial and follow-up, it may be helpful to know some of the most frequently cited violations issued by OSHA. Keep in mind that a good safety program should be developed for safety’s sake. The result is improved productivity, better quality, less time lost, lower insurance premiums, and for many, fewer OSHA citations.

While OSHA compliance should not be the prime reason for safety, a review of the five most frequently cited violations may help you recognize problem areas.

1. 1926.451 Scaffolding/Construction - 8,130 citations
This standard requires employers to protect construction workers from falls and falling objects while working on or near scaffolding at heights of 10 feet or more.
Top 5 Sections Cited:
1926.451 (g)(1) – Failure to provide fall protection
1926.451 (e)(1) – Failure to provide proper access
1926.451 (b)(1) – Failure to ensure adequate platform construction
1926.451 (g)(1)(vii) – Lack of personal fall arrest or guardrail systems
1926.451 (c)(2) – Failure to properly support scaffolding

2. 1926.1200 Hazard Communications - 6,641 citations
Whether you have chemicals in your workplace or you produce chemicals, this standard addresses communications to employees, labeling, etc.
Top 5 Sections Cited:
1910.1200 (e)(1) – Failure to develop and maintain a written program
1910.1200 (h)(1) – Failure to maintain training
1910.1200 (h) – Lack of employee training
1910.1200 (g)(1) – Failure to have a material safety data sheet for each hazardous chemical
1910.1200 (f)(5) – Failure to label each container

3. 1926.501 Fall Protection/Construction - 5,504 citations
This standard tells employers and workers where fall protection is required, which fall protection systems are appropriate for given situations, proper construction and installation of safety systems, and proper supervision. Fall protection starts at 6 feet.
Top 5 Sections Cited:
1926.501 (b)(1) – Failure to use a guardrail, safety net or personal fall arrest system
1926.501 (b)(13) – Failure to provide protection/residential construction
1926.501 (b)(10) – Failure to provide protection/low-slope roofs
1926.501 (b)(11) – Failure to provide protection/steep roofs
1926.501 (b)(14) – Failure to provide protection/wall openings

4. 1910.134 Respiratory Protection - 3,904 citations
This standard requires employers to establish and maintain a respiratory protection program. It includes program administration, worksite-specific procedures, respirator selection, employee training, fit testing, medical evaluation, respirator use, cleaning, maintenance and repair.
Top 5 Sections Cited:
1910.134 I(1) – Failure to establish and implement written program
1910.134 (e)(1) – Failure to conduct medical evaluation
1910.134 I(2)(i) – Failure to provide Appendix D when voluntary use is deemed permissible
1910.134 (f)(2) – Failure to fit-test
1910.134 (k)(1) – Failure to ensure employees can demonstrate knowledge

5. 1910.147 Lockout/Tagout - 3,711 citations
This standard provides the minimum performance requirements for the control of hazardous energy during the maintenance and servicing of machinery.
Top 5 Sections Cited:
1910.147 (c)(1) – Failure to establish program
1910.147 (c)(4)(i) – Failure to develop procedures for energy control
1910.147 (c)(7)(i) – Failure to conduct employee training
1910.147 (c)(6)(i) – Failure to conduct periodic inspections
1910.147 (c)(4)(ii) – Inadequate procedures


» Emergency Action Plans - Basic Guidelines [Added: 5/9/2012]

Emergencies are created by a variety of situations. There are natural emergencies such as tornadoes and man-made emergencies like bomb-threats. When these emergencies require your building to be evacuated, an Emergency Action Plan will be a valuable tool to provide safety and organization to the evacuation effort.

An emergency action plan (EAP) describes the actions employees should take to ensure their safety if an emergency situation occurs. Different threats require different responses. For example, employees may assemble in one area inside the building (shelter in place) if threatened by a tornado, but evacuated to an exterior location if threatened by a fire. 

An EAP must identify when and how employees are to respond to different types of emergencies. At a minimum, an EAP must contain these sections:

  • Procedures for reporting emergencies, such a dialing 911 or an internal emergency number—pulling the fire alarm is another example.
  • A description of the alarm system to be used to notify employees to evacuate and/or shelter in place.
  • An evacuation policy, procedures, and emergency escape route assignments. These will ensure that employees understand who is authorized to order an evacuation and under what circumstances such an evacuation would be necessary.
  • Procedures to account for employees after the evacuation. An example of this is a designated gathering area for each department and a check-off system to assure that everyone is accounted for.
  • Assignment of specific tasks to employees or job positions relating to evacuation, rescue, first aid, etc., such as making the department supervisor responsible for accounting for all employees in his/her department.
  • Provisions for training employees and/or conducting emergency drills. These should include a means for employees to make suggestions to improve the existing plan. A well-developed and executed EAP will make for a more organized evacuation with less confusion and an overall greater degree of safety for both the employees and the emergency response personnel. We all hope we will never have to use an EAP, but if we do, there is no substitute for being prepared.

For additional information you can visit the Federal Emergency Management Administration web site at  www.fema.gov/plan/ehp/response.shtm


» Choosing the Right First Aid Kits [Added: 4/30/2012]

Have you ever needed a bandage or maybe just a little hydrogen peroxide to clean a small cut? At home we might find these items in the medicine cabinet or a drawer in the bathroom, but at work, we will be looking for the first aid kit.

When it comes to setting up the first aid station for your workplace, size does not matter! The biggest kit may not always be the best, but the cheapest may not be your best selection either. Here are some rules for choosing a first aid kit and maintaining a workplace first aid station.

Rule One—Consider the level of first aid training that your employees have received. Do they need advanced first aid items like suction devices and poison control supplies? If employees are not trained to use items, they should not have access to them. Untrained personnel will try to help, but they may do more harm than good.

Rule Two—Consider the exposure. If you are setting up a kit or station for a machine shop, you may want to have plenty of wound dressing material to handle deep lacerations. If you work with chemicals, burn dressings and supplies may be in order. Think about the types of injuries that might occur and what your employees could do to stabilize the injured worker until skilled help arrives. Remember, you don’t want to encourage your employees to render first aid beyond their level of training.

Rule Three—Don’t become the pharmacy for your employees. In many cases, employers will find that making items such as antacids, aspirin, and decongestants available in the first aid kit creates a “company pharmacy” mentality with workers and they depend on the company kit for their over the counter (OTC) medication needs. There may also be some liability involved if someone from your company dispenses such OTC medication. If you choose to make the OTC items available, you must make sure that they are in labeled containers and that employees are aware of the limitations on the label regarding the medication and their work activity. 

Having a good first aid kit is important and the selection of items is worthy of consideration. Here is a basic list of items for a typical office kit. For industrial applications, you can add items as needed or consult with a professional supply service for recommendations.

· Alcohol wipes
· Antiseptic hand cleaner
· Medical adhesive tape
· Sterile gauze (four inch squares are best)
· Elastic bandages
· Several sizes of adhesive bandages
· Insect bite swabs
· Triple-antibiotic ointment
· Hydrogen peroxide
· Bandage scissors
· Triangular bandages
· Instant cold packs
· Exam gloves
· Barrier device for CPR

The Body Substance Isolation items (gloves, glasses, barrier device for CPR) are critical items for any kit, since they are there to protect the first aid provider from infection. Remember, stock your kit based on what  your employees have been trained to do regarding first aid. Don’t load up on supplies that you can’t use or don’t need based on your exposure and don’t allow your first aid station to become the source of low cost OTC medications. Most importantly, focus on preventing injuries and the first aid station will be the least visited area at your site.


» Get the Most Out of Your Safety Meetings [Added: 4/11/2012]

One of the most common complaints about safety meetings is that it is so hard to keep topics fresh. We’re all human and we all get bored listening to the same information presented in the same way time after time. Here are some useful tips for keeping your safety meetings interesting, and therefore, effective.

Make it personal. As you explain your topic, your attendees will ask themselves “What’s in it for me?”, so tell them! And remember, safety is not just something that’s important at work, but can protect loved ones at home, too. Use examples that your employees can relate to, like client site-specific or client industry-specific accidents. Relate the topic to an off-the-job situation too, if possible.

Get your employees involved. As you present your topic, ask open ended questions that will encourage your employees to open up and participate. Allow them to share their experiences with the topic. You’ll find out that they will bring as much value to the meeting as you do, if not more.

Be sincere and go into the meeting with a positive attitude. If you don’t really believe the information that you are presenting, neither will your audience. If you are miserable while presenting the topic, your audience will reflect that back at you. Be enthusiastic about your subject and they will reflect that enthusiasm back at you. 

Most importantly, have fun! This includes ending the meeting on a high note. Review the information presented using a fun group activity. This will leave employees feeling positive about the topic which will help them remember what they learned.


» Overtime and Injury - Is there a correlation? [Added: 4/3/2012]

Longer shifts and extended work weeks are becoming more and more common in our work culture. Recent studies have revealed that these changing work routines may be adversely affecting workplace safety.

The study found that after adjusting for age, gender, type of industry, and job; employees working overtime were 61% more likely to suffer a work-related injury or illness than employees who did not work overtime. This is certainly a significant statistic to consider when placing temporary employees into work assignments that will involve extended work hours.

Additionally, longer work days and work weeks were found to correlate with higher injury rates. For example, working at least 12 hours a day was associated with a 37% increased risk of injury or illness, while working at least 60 hours a week was associated with a 23% increased risk. Interestingly, commuting time was also studied and it was found that lengthy commutes had no impact on the injury/illness rate.

The U.S. studies were based on survey responses from 11,000 Americans to the annual National Longitudinal Survey of Youth. The survey included questions about employment history, work schedules, and sick leave, covering the period between 1987 and 2000. The analysis included a study of over 100,000 job records and over 5,000 workplace injury reports. Over half of these were in jobs with extended working hours or overtime.

It is important to note that the increased risks were not concentrated in jobs traditionally considered to be "high hazard" in nature. The authors say their findings backup the theory that long working hours indirectly precipitate workplace accidents by inducing fatigue and stress.

Professor Allard Dembe, Center for Health Policy and Research, University of Massachusetts Medical School, Worcester, Mass, headed the study, which was published in the British Medical Journal.

Overtime is a part of our work culture, but it must also be considered as a potential risk when customers and assignments are evaluated. This is especially true for assignments where safety is directly tied to reaction time and hand/eye coordination (i.e. manufacturing, assembly, forklift operation). In this type of position, the effects of fatigue and stress from long work hours can reduce focus and slow reaction time, sometimes resulting in an injury.


» 20/20 Vision [Added: 3/14/2012]

After looking at many people, eye doctors have decided that a “normal” human being should be able to read an eye chart from 20 feet away. 20/20 vision is a term used to express normal visual acuity measured at a distance of 20 feet. 

Visual acuity is the clarity of sharpness of vision. If you have 20/20 vision, it means you can clearly see an object that is 20 feet away. If you have 20/100 vision, it means that you must be as close as 20 feet to see what a person with normal vision can see at 100 feet. In the United States, 20/200 vision is the cap for legal blindness.

Visual acuity is expressed as a fraction. The top number refers to the distance you stand from the eye chart. This is usually 20 feet. The bottom number indicates the distance at which a person with normal eyesight could correctly read the line with the smallest letters. If your vision is 20/40, the line you correctly read at 20 feet could be read by a person with normal vision at 40 feet. Although it is considered "normal," a very small percentage of the population is blessed with 20/20 vision.

Sometimes there is a misconception that 20/20 vision means that you have perfect vision. It actually only indicates the sharpness of clarity of vision at a distance. There are many other important vision skills, among them peripheral awareness or side vision, eye coordination, depth perception, focusing ability, and color vision which all contribute to one’s overall vision ability.

Since visual acuity is affected by many factors, some people have less than 20/20 vision. Less than optimum clarity may result from vision conditions like nearsightedness, farsightedness, astigmatism, or from eye diseases.

Clarity of vision does vary with distance. Some people can see well at a distance but are unable to bring closer objects into focus. This condition can be caused by farsightedness or presbyopia (a loss of focusing ability). Others can see items that are close but cannot see those far away. This condition may be caused by nearsightedness.

A comprehensive eye examination by a doctor of optometry should identify causes, if any, that are affecting an individual’s ability to see well. In most cases, an optometrist can prescribe glasses, contact lenses, or a vision therapy program that will help improve vision. If the reduced vision is due to an eye disease, the use of ocular medication or other treatment by an ophthalmologist may be required.


» March is Poison Prevention Month [Added: 2/29/2012]

More than 2 million poisonings are reported each year and are one of the leading causes of death among adults. Every day, workers throughout the U.S. are exposed to hazardous chemicals and toxins at work.

Employees have a right to work in a safe and healthy environment. It is the staffing company's job to ensure that client sites are safe for their employees. If hazardous chemicals or toxins are present at the workplace, employers (the staffing company's clients) are required by law to provide information about these toxins, often via Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS).

A way to discover whether toxic substances are present is to look for warning labels or warning signs. A hazardous chemical or product will usually have a warning label on the packaging in which it is shipped; therefore, when performing client site evaluations, the evaluator should look for this in addition to warning signs in areas with poor ventilation or where toxins are present.

Staffing companies must provide general training with site/task-specific training to be provided at the site by the client. This training should begin during orientation. When employees are exposed to chemicals, the rules reviewed with employees should include: not allowing employees to eat, drink, smoke, chew tobacco or gum, apply cosmetics in areas where chemicals are used, and wash their hands before eating to prevent ingestion.

If chemicals or other toxic substances are present in the workplace, proper PPE should be worn. One essential aspect of training is to make certain the user is aware of the need for protective wear and to instill motivation for its proper use and maintenance. It is therefore important to educate users on the nature of workplace hazards and the consequences of not using PPE, as well as what to do in the event of protective clothing/ equipment failure.

OSHA suggests several benefits of proper training in the use of chemical protective clothing - benefits that can extend to other PPE training as well:

· Allows the user to become familiar with the equipment in a non-hazardous, non-emergency condition.
· Instills confidence of the user in his/her equipment.
· Makes the user aware of the limitations and capabilities of the equipment.
· Increases worker efficiency in performing various tasks.
· Reduces the likelihood of accidents.

Staffing companies can help ensure the safety of their employees at client sites by making them aware of potential toxins in the workplace. At the initial client site evaluation, ask for MSDS's, look for warning labels, and if toxins are discovered, take preventative measures to reduce or eliminate exposure. By establishing safety partnerships early in client relationships and providing employees with client-specific safety training prior to job placement, staffing companies can reduce the potential for employee illnesses and injuries due to toxins in the workplace.


» Workplace Stress = Safety Issues [Added: 2/15/2012]

Recently, stress in the workplace has acquired national attention due to the propensity for stressed workers to be involved in accidents, injuries, and job failures. Job stress is defined as the harmful physical and emotional responses that occur when the requirements of the job do not match the capabilities, resources, or needs of the worker. Such stress can lead to poor health, injury, and lost work time -all factors of workers comp costs.  
 
It is estimated that American businesses lose $200-300 billion per year to stress-related productivity loss. Lack of sleep is one of the largest factors that can result from high job stress, as surveys show a relationship between lack of sleep and poor work performance. A 2004 Circadian Technologies study showed that employees who work extended hours, such as shift workers, were found to only sleep about five hours per night, suffered back and wrist pain, regardless of the nature of their jobs, and that this lack of sleep equated to longer recovery time. The workers compensation implications are clear – stressed workers are more likely to have injuries and therefore miss work, resulting in higher workers compensation costs for employers.  

Some early warning signs of job stress could be: headache, sleep disturbances (as referenced above); difficulty concentrating, short temper, upset stomach, and low morale. High levels of stress can lead to cardiovascular disease, musculoskeletal disorders, psychological disorders, and workplace injury. A stressed worker is more likely to cut safety corners and engage in dangerous activities as a result of their desire to quickly accomplish tasks when their workload is overwhelming. This can lead to severe injuries that the employer will ultimately pay for in workers compensation premiums.  

Although it is not possible to completely eliminate stress in the workplace, certain actions can be taken by employers to minimize stress:
· Ensure that the workload is in line with the workers’ capabilities and resources. Design jobs to provide meaning, stimulation, and opportunities. Clearly define workers’ roles and responsibilities. Improve communication by reducing uncertainty about career development and future prospects. Provide opportunities for social interaction.
·Establish work schedules that are compatible with demands and responsibilities outside the job.

Employees can help minimize their stress levels by laughing and socializing with coworkers, taking several deep breaths, stretching, and by taking ten minutes at the beginning of each day to prioritize and organize their day.  

Employers can gain bottom-line benefits by implementing stress-reduction tactics within their organizations. These benefits could range from improved productivity and performance, decreased healthcare costs, improved recruitment and retention, and better attendance.
 


» Selecting PPE for the Workplace [Added: 1/18/2012]

Selecting PPE for the Workplace

Personal protective equipment (PPE) for the eyes and face is designed to prevent or lessen the severity of injuries. The employer must assess the workplace and determine if hazards that necessitate the use of eye and face protection are present, or are likely to be present, before assigning PPE. A hazard assessment should determine the risk of exposure to eye and face hazards, including those which may be encountered in an emergency. Employers should be aware of the possibility of multiple and simultaneous hazard exposures and be prepared to protect against the highest level of each hazard.

Impact Hazards

The majority of impact injuries result from flying or falling objects, or sparks striking the eye. Most of these objects are smaller than a pin head and can cause serious injury such as punctures, abrasions, and contusions. While working in a hazardous area where the worker is exposed to flying objects, fragments, and particles, primary protective devices such as safety spectacles with side shields or goggles must be worn. Secondary protective devices such as face shields are required in conjunction with primary protective devices during severe exposure to impact hazards.

Heat
Heat injuries may occur to the eyes and face when workers are exposed to high temperatures, splashes of molten metal, or hot sparks. Protect your eyes from heat when workplace operations involve pouring, casting, hot dipping, furnace operations, and other similar activities. Burns to eyes and face are the main concern when working with heat hazards. Working with heat hazards requires eye protection such as goggles or safety spectacles with special-purpose lenses and side shields. However, many heat hazard exposures require the use of a face shield in addition to safety spectacles or goggles. When selecting PPE, consider the source and intensity of the heat and the type of splashes that may occur in the workplace.

Dust
Dust is present in the workplace during operations such as woodworking and buffing. Working in a dusty environment can cause eye injuries and presents additional hazards to contact lens wearers. Either eyecup or cover-type safety goggles should be worn when dust is present. Safety goggles are the only effective type of eye protection from nuisance dust because they create a protective seal around the eyes.

Chemicals
A large percentage of eye injuries are caused by direct contact with chemicals. These injuries often result from an inappropriate choice of PPE that allows a chemical substance to enter from around or under protective eye equipment. Serious and irreversible damage can occur when chemical substances contact the eyes in the form of splashes, mists, vapors, or fumes. When working with or around chemicals, it is important to know the location of emergency eyewash stations and how to access them with restricted vision. When fitted and worn correctly, goggles protect eyes from hazardous substances. A face shield may be required in areas where workers are exposed to severe chemical hazards.

Source: U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Safety & Health Administration


» Savor the Flavor of Food Safety [Added: 1/9/2012]

Many people have suffered from some form of food poisoning. How rampant is this problem? According to the CDC (Federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) it is estimated that more than 76 million cases, 325,000 hospitalizations, and 5,000 deaths occur every year from food poisoning. CDC also states that most of these cases can be prevented by simply ensuring that employees handling food are well trained, healthy, and practice good hygiene.

Training food service employees is the first step in reducing the incidence of food poisoning. Each employee should first know what pathogens cause foodborne illnesses. The "Big 4" foodborne pathogens that experts have identified as easily transmittable and can cause serious illness are:

· Norovirus
· Salmonella Shigella
· Enterohemorrhagic or Shigatoxin producing E. coli
· Hepatitis A virus

The second element of the training should include informing each employee that they are not to work or handle food when they are sick. If a temporary employee does not feel well, they need to communicate this to their supervisor so they can possibly be reassigned to another position where they do not come in contact with exposed food, utensils, food equipment, or linens. This sounds simple but is something that is often overlooked.

The highest risk occurs when employees have symptoms like:

· vomiting
· diarrhea
· jaundice
· sore throat with fever
· infected cuts or burns

Thirdly, all employees should be trained on proper hand washing techniques. The use of hand sanitizers is no substitute for good hand washing. Employees need to use soap and warm water, rub their hands together briskly for 10-15 seconds, and finally rinse and dry their hands with a sanitary disposable towel. Viruses can survive on hard surfaces for days or weeks and contaminate anything that touches those surfaces, e.g., handles, switches, buttons, knobs, etc.

Finally, employees need to know that they are not to touch ready to eat food with their bare hands. Simply training employees on these issues will help reduce incidents of food poisoning.
 


» Facts About the FLU [Added: 11/1/2011]

It's that time of year for flu season to kick in. Many temporary employees are exposed to flu viruses on a regular basis as a result of their job assignments, especially healthcare workers. Client companies who offer vaccinations to their permanent staff may be willing to include temporary employees in their vaccination programs for a fee. In healthcare environments, vaccines not only help keep the employee safe from the virus, but also help protect patients who are at high risk for influenza-related complications. 

Here are some facts about the flu:

People can die from the flu. True: Influenza (flu) is a highly infectious disease of the lungs, and it can lead to pneumonia. Each year about 114,000 people in the US are hospitalized and about 36,000 people die because of the flu. Most who die are 65 years and older, but smaller children less than 2 years old are as likely as those over 65 to become hospitalized due to illnesses from the flu. 

Even if I get a flu vaccine, I can still get a mild case of the flu. True: The vaccine usually protects most people from the flu. Sometimes a person who receives the flu vaccine can still get the flu, but will experience far less sickness than having not received the vaccine at all. A flu vaccine will not protect you from other viruses that sometimes carry the same symptoms as the flu. 

The side effects of a flu shot are worse than the flu. False: The worst side effect you're likely to get from the injected vaccine is a sore arm. The nasal mist flu vaccine may cause nasal congestion, runny nose, sore throat, and cough. The risk of a rare allergic reaction is far less than the risk of severe complication from influenza. 

You must get a flu vaccine before December. False: Flu vaccine can be given before or during the flu season. While the best time to get a flu vaccine is October or November, getting immunized in December or later can still protect you against the flu. 

Immunization of healthcare workers protects high-risk patients even more effectively than immunization of the patients themselves. True: Studies in nursing homes confirm that illness and death due to influenza are reduced more dramatically in facilities where staff is highly immunized even if patients are fully immunized. This is due to the fact that high risk patients have a lower rate of immunity following vaccination, as a result of their condition. Healthcare workers are often the source of influenza outbreaks in healthcare facilities, bringing the virus in from the community.


» Safe Driving Tips [Added: 9/14/2011]

Driving safely is not only something that temporary employees have to worry about - everyone is affected by dangerous drivers. Providing frequent reminders on how to drive safely to your staff when they are driving to visit with a client, driving to perform a work errand, or just driving home will help keep us all safe on the roads.

The first tip that we will review is following other vehicles at a safe distance. In order to determine if you are following the vehicle in front of you too closely, use the “three second rule.” To use this rule simply pick a stationary object (like a road sign or overpass) and as the vehicle in front of you passes the object begin counting “one, one thousand one; one, one thousand two; one, one thousand three.” If you reach the object before you finish counting, you are following too closely. If weather conditions are poor, increase the number of seconds you are counting to four or five.

The second safety tip that we will look at is maintaining an appropriate speed. The speed in which you are allowed to drive is a combination of two elements – the posted speed limit and common sense. The posted speed limit tells you how fast you can drive when the conditions are ideal. Ideal driving conditions do not include sleet, snow, rain or fog - this is where common sense comes into play. If the posted speed limit is 65mph but it is dark and sleeting, then common sense dictates that you should drive slower than 65mph. Not only is it unsafe to go 65mph in these conditions, but you could receive a ticket if a police officer observes you doing so.

Another safety tip is to check the vehicle’s mirrors before you begin driving. Do not assume that the mirrors are in the same place that you left them the last time you drove the vehicle. This is especially true if you are driving a company vehicle because it is very likely that someone else has driven it. Start developing this routine as soon as possible and after a while it will become habit.

As you enter the vehicle the first thing you should do is buckle your seat belt. Next, before you even start the car, adjust the seat to a comfortable position. Third, take a few seconds to adjust the mirrors so that you can clearly see behind you.

The last safety tip is to wear a seat belt - this should be a given. Try to imagine not wearing a seat belt in a 30 mile per hour collision with a wall. That sounds slow enough, doesn't it? Keep in mind that the vehicle will stop in the first tenth of a second, but you will keep going at 30 miles per hour until the steering wheel, dashboard and windshield of the vehicle stop you. A 30 mile per hour collision is the equivalent of jumping off a three story building face first.

One common excuse people use for not wearing their safety belt is, “I'm only driving a short distance.” In fact, this is the number one time you should be wearing a seat belt since 80% of all traffic fatalities occur within 25 miles of the home traveling under 40 miles per hour. Another common excuse is that, “I'm a safe driver and don’t need a seat belt.” What about everybody else on the road? Can you always control who runs into your vehicle? Putting on a seat belt only takes a few seconds and it very well may save your life.


» Ergonomics Checklist [Added: 8/31/2011]

The following suggestions are offered to help maintain a comfortable and healthy work environment.

Step 1. Adjusting your chair:

1. Adjust your seat height either up or down until your forearms are parallel to the ground and your wrists are straight on the keyboard. The angle at the elbows should be around 90 degrees. Keep your arms close to your body and not extended in front of your body.

2. If your feet are not resting flat on the floor, use a footrest.

3. Position your back rest so that it supports your lower back.

Step 2. Adjusting your working surfaces:

1. The angle between your trunk and thighs should be approximately 90 degrees.

2.There should be approximately 2 inches of clearance between your legs and bottom surface of the table.

3. Adjust the height of your keyboard tray, desk, and/or chair so that your forearms are parallel to the floor when your hands are positioned for typing.

4. Your wrists should be straight and relaxed when positioned at the keyboard.

5. Try using a wrist rest to help keep your wrists relaxed and straight.

Step 3. Adjusting your monitor:

1. Position the top of the VDT (Video Display Terminal) at eye level when your lower back is supported and your feet placed firmly on the floor or footrest.

2. Position the VDT approximately 18 to 25 inches from your eyes.

3. Your document holder and screen should be positioned at the same height.

4. Position your VDT screen to avoid glare.

Step 4. Other factors to consider:

1. If you use the telephone frequently, consider using a headset.

2. Maintain proper posture when working at your desk: spine and head upright, sit back into the chair, keep feet flat on the floor or footrest, and keep knees at about the same level as your hips.

3. Take frequent rest/alternative task breaks when working at your computer.

*Click here to view the Industrial Staffing Checklist.


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