Facepiece lenses on Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus (SCBA) may undergo thermal degradation when exposed to intense heat, potentially further risking firefighters’ lives.Read More
It is said that with age comes wisdom. Whether or not that’s true is open for debate, but one thing that’s certain is that the injury rate for workers rises with age and older workers who are overweight are at particular risk for injury.
Drew Bossen, a physiotherapist with 27 years’ experience in ergonomics, injury prevention and development of treatment programs for injured workers, says older workers are at greater risk for injury as a result of changes in the body that occur over time.Read More
Editor’s note: If you think workplace health and wellness programs are a waste of effort, the following account might make you think again.
One of England’s largest universities says it is saving the equivalent of about $116,000 a year since implementing a comprehensive workplace wellness program two years ago.Read More
New workers, particularly young new workers, often lack the experience to know how closely they can approach a potential hazard without putting their safety in danger.
If they guess wrong, as many inexperienced workers have, it’s incredibly easy to end up in the wrong place at the wrong time, with tragic consequences.
So how close is too close? Bill Dickerson, a senior health and safety advisor for a major Ontario electricity producer who has a passion for young worker safety awareness, has developed an innovative answer to that question. He calls it the Magic Metre or for our readers in the United States, the Magic Yardstick.
“The Magic Metre or Magic Yardstick is a visual image new workers can use to protect themselves from all kinds of hazards,” says the 25-year safety professional. “A Magic Metre is the distance from your nose to your fingertips. It’s almost like a 360 degree bubble all around you, including up and down.”
When delivering high school safety talks or new worker orientations, Dickerson offers the following 11 practical applications for the Magic Metre:
1. Noise: If you have to raise your voice above a normal talking level to be heard one Magic Metre away, you are likely exposed to (a sound pressure level) over 85 decibels and require hearing protection.
2. Moving Equipment: When working around moving equipment such as chain drives, conveyors, etc., if you maintain a Magic Metre from your outstretched fingertips, you are unlikely to fall into the equipment or contact a pinch point. The same concept works for hot pipes, electrical hazards, etc.
3. Biohazards: If you maintain a Magic Metre from a fellow worker with a cough or cold you are likely beyond the “sneeze spray zone.” Maintain the same Magic Metre from blood and body fluids and products unless protected.
4. Tools: Protect yourself and others by maintaining a Magic Metre or “safety bubble” around yourself when using power tools, hammers, axes, etc.
5. Chemicals: From the material safety data sheet (MSDS) determine how many Magic Metres are required between you and chemicals you may be exposed to.
6. Workplace Violence: Maintain a Magic Metre between you and an angry customer or co-worker. Position yourself to minimize your exposure as a target, and protect vital areas.
7. Eye Protection: Wear your safety glasses or goggles within a Magic Metre of any process that could result in flying objects.
8. Fall Protection: A worker may be seriously hurt in a fall or poorly planned jump of even less than a Magic Metre. You require fall arrest protection if your feet are two Magic Metres above the next level.
9. Lifting and carrying: The safest zone for carrying loads is within the Magic Metre from your knees to your shoulders.
10. Call Before You Dig: Don’t dig (including hand digging) within a Magic Metre of either side of a utility location marker (hydro, gas, telephone, etc.).
11. Falling Objects: Almost anything that falls a Magic Metre onto you will hurt!Read More
Home is where the heart is. Home is where you hang your hat. Be it ever so humble, there’s no place like home. Clichés about home often suggest that it’s a loving, carefree sanctuary, a place where we can shed all our worries. And after a hard day’s work, it’s where you rush to be. But before you hang up your hat this evening, take a look around your home and consider this statistic: You were actually 10 times safer back at work.
According to the National Safety Council, in 2006 there were 179,065 deaths from unintentional injuries in the United States. Four percent of those deaths resulted from workplace injuries; 41 percent of those deaths resulted from injuries that occurred at home. It seems there really is no place like home!
After you examine your own home for hazards, remind your workers to look at their homes with a critical safety eye. Share with them these 10 quick ways to improve safety where they live:
What happens in Vegas might stay in Vegas, but what happens in your photocopier could end up anywhere and create identity theft nightmares.
A CBS News special report stated that 60 percent of Americans aren’t aware that nearly every digital photocopier manufactured since 2002 contains a hard drive capable of storing as many as 20,000 documents.
When these mainly leased machines are sold months or years later, all of that information can easily be retrieved from their hard drives. This treasure trove of private information may include social security details, birth certificates, bank records, income tax forms, detailed medical information, complete with patients’ names and addresses, and many other personal details that could ruin lives if it fell into the wrong hands.
John Juntunen, who owns Digital Copier Security, a Sacramento, CA, company that developed software to wipe photocopier hard drives clean, has had been trying to warn people about the risks of returning a leased photocopier or selling one containing sensitive information.
But he says most people seem alarmingly unconcerned about the problem. Juntunen took a reporter to a warehouse and randomly purchased four used photocopiers for about $300 each. Their hard drives were scanned and some eye popping information appeared, ranging from detailed domestic violence complaints and a list of wanted sex offenders to pay stubs with names, addresses and social security numbers, to detailed design plans for a building close to Ground Zero in Manhattan, to individual medical records.
Major photocopier manufacturers now offer security or encryption features on their products but many businesses aren’t willing to pay the extra cost of about $500 to have that peace of mind.
While this isn’t a workplace safety issue, it’s certainly a workplace security one. Share this story with your human resources department or management.Read More
It’s not always possible to tell if a substance is hazardous just by looking at it.
A hazard alert issued by Human Resources and Skills Development Canada says that cautionary notes provided by manufacturers need to be taken seriously, even if a product, material or substance appears harmless. Failure to do so may lead to a worker’s death.
The alert tells the story of how polyethylene foam normally used as a packaging material exploded, blowing a truck driver out of a trailer and killing him.
Investigators determined that the polyethylene foam, made with a flammable hydrocarbon blowing agent, had been stored in an unventilated trailer during a warm weekend.
Normally by the time polyethylene foam gets to consumers, the product is harmless. However, when produced with a flammable hydrocarbon blowing agent and fresh from the manufacturer, the product may harbor unexpected hazards.
In this case, isobutane was used as the blowing agent to produce the polyethylene foam. Although most of the blowing agent is removed prior to shipping, it continues to be released at a slower rate for an undetermined period of time.
The foam manufacturer had informed the purchaser and the shipper that because of the off-gassing, it was preferable to use a ventilated trailer. The truck driver who picked up the load was also required to sign a caution advising him of the potential presence of the flammable blowing agent.
Unfortunately, this information did not get to the driver who was killed. He was told the trailer was empty. The lack of ventilation and the warm weather increased the off-gassing of isobutane until it accumulated to an explosive level within the trailer.
When the employee entered the trailer, a source of ignition such as a spark, match or lit cigarette, caused the fatal explosion.
The hazard alert stresses that where there is a possibility that the safety or health of an employee in a workplace may be endangered by a hazardous substance, the employer must:
In the case outlined above, the employer was issued seventeen charges. After pleading guilty to three charges, the company was fined $95,000.Read More
When more than 100 workers are trapped underground for several days, the outcome is rarely positive. But in what is being described as a miracle, 115 miners were rescued after being trapped in a flooded coal mine in northern China for more than a week.
Sadly, at least 36 miners died in the flooded mine.
The workers who were found alive ate tree bark and sawdust and drank dirty water to survive. They became trapped after digging into an old mine shaft filled with water. A preliminary investigation found that mine managers had ignored water leaks before the mine flooded.
Rescuers pumped water out of the mine for several days before hearing tapping sounds that indicated people were alive. Rescuers used rubber rafts to rescue the trapped miners.Read More
Reading or writing emails can cause an increase in heart rate and anxiety, even if what we are reading or typing in itself isn’t making us anxious or angry.
Nearly everyone has heard of obstructive sleep apnea, where people temporarily stop breathing while sleeping, and partially awaken up to hundreds of times a night. The result is that they are left extremely fatigued upon awakening and throughout the day.
But have you heard of email apnea? It’s a term used by writer/consultant Linda Stone to describe breath-holding or shallow breathing that many people experience while reading or composing emails. Stone says she realized she was holding her breath while writing or reading emails and then observed many others doing the same thing.
It’s harmless, enough, right? Actually, it isn’t harmless. Stone contacted Dr. Margaret Chesney at the National Institute of Health (NIH) and learned that research conducted by Chesney and fellow NIH scientist, Dr. David Anderson, found breath holding contributes substantially to stress-related diseases by throwing off the body’s balance of oxygen, carbon dioxide and nitric oxide.
Stone says breath-holding or shallow breathing also cause the body to become acidic and the kidneys to reabsorb sodium (salt).
The human body uses nitric oxide—not to be confused with nitrous oxide your dentist may give you—to fight viral, bacterial and parasitic infections and tumors. Nitric oxide is also involved in learning, memory, sleeping, feeling pain and likely, depression.
Other downsides of breath-holding/shallow breathing, writes Stone, include causing the liver to deposit glucose and cholesterol into the blood and one’s heart rate to speed up. The body’s fight or flight response is also triggered, but even though the body is tensed for action, the person is ignoring that response by sitting at the computer for long periods.
Stone speculates that breath-holding may cause weight gain and diabetes. If you spend a lot of time on the computer, learn and practice some deep breathing exercises (especially while reading or writing) and get up and take frequent walks throughout your shift. If you don’t have much freedom to get up, moving your legs and feet at your desk is still a form of exercise.Read More
Solvents, thinners and other fl ammable products including acetone, alcohol, benzene, gasoline, glycol, kerosene, methanol, mineral spirits, naphtha, toluene and turpentine, are used every day by businesses.
Workers may also have contact with these chemicals when working with products such as adhesives, carpet glues, cleaning fl uids, epoxy resins, hardeners, lacquers, paints, primers and asphalt or coal tar.
But when handled improperly, these products put workers at significant risk for health problems, along with the possibility of being caught in fires or explosions. The Nova Scotia department of Labour and Workforce Development has issued a hazard alert regarding solvents, thinners and other flammables.
Fire/explosion hazards include the possible buildup of vapors in poorly ventilated areas. These vapors can cause fires or explosions in the presence of sparks, open flames or even static electricity.
Static electricity may be generated when fabrics, such as clothes or rags, are rubbed together, or when a liquid passes through a pipe or opening or splashes into a container.
The hazard alert recommends using grounding and bonding as a method for safely dealing with static electricity. Bonding involves connecting two or more conductive objects with a conductor, such as a copper wire.
When bonded together, both objects will share the same charge. Grounding involves connecting one or more conductive objects to the earth using a ground wire to continuously discharge a conductive object to ground.
Another serious hazard involves inhalation of vapors from organic solvents and other flammable products. Such exposure over time can cause cancer, along with liver, kidney, heart and brain damage.
Solvents are also easily absorbed through the skin. They can cause skin disease and other serious effects when they enter the body.
The following preventive measures are suggested in the hazard alert: