Hard physical labor in hot conditions is uncomfortable enough, but when workers are required to wear protective garments in such conditions, discomfort can
reach unbearable and potentially life-threatening levels.Read More
The room temperature in the office near Tokyo, Japan, is 88 degrees Fahrenheit (31 C) with nearly 60 percent humidity. And workers are sitting comfortably at their desks, while wearing jackets. Are they crazy? No.
The employees are wearing “air conditioned clothing” developed by their boss, Hiroshi Ichigaya. The name is a little misleading, because the only air conditioning is coming from a pair of battery-powered fans inside each jacket.Read More
An OSHA inspector arrives at your workplace, takes three workers aside and starts questioning them about the personal protective equipment (PPE) they are (or aren’t) using, why they need to be using it and how to use it.
If they can’t answer those questions satisfactorily, you and your company could be in trouble, according to Brad Hammock, a former OSHA attorney who currently heads the Workplace Safety Compliance Practice group at the Washington, DC law firm Jackson Lewis LLP.Read More
A chemical eye injury is something to avoid at all costs; it is a painful and frightening experience and one that may leave a person blinded for life. So if your employees are exposed to hazardous chemicals and other substances, it’s imperative that you do everything you can to ensure that your emergency eyewash stations meet the required safety standards to best protect workers. Here are some suggestions from Kelly Piotti, Product Manager of Emergency Eyewash for Honeywell Safety Products (HSP):
1. Keep the doors open. Do not place an emergency eyewash station behind a closed or locked door. While the station may be used infrequently, remember that when it’s needed, someone’s vision is on the line. And every second counts.
2. Don’t hang the unit at an angle. This can interfere with the proper flow of flushing fluid and may force an injured person to stand in an uncomfortable position to flush properly for between 15 and 20 minutes.
3. Don’t block access. Avoid storing anything underneath or in front of an eyewash unit. This can block an injured worker’s ability to reach or stand comfortably at the station.
4. Watch the fluid’s temperature. Do not allow the flushing fluid to become too hot or too cold. Storing eyewash in extremely hot or cold environments can cause flushing fluid’s temperature to rise or fall outside of ANSI’s stated standard for tepid water. Flushing eyes with scalding or ice-cold solution can cause further damage to an already compromised eye.
5. Fill the unit properly. Avoid mistakes when mixing flushing fluid. ANSI requires that the unit be filled with flushing fluid or the pre-packaged fluid provided by the manufacturer. Always prepare fluid according to manufacturer’s instructions.
6. Clean thoroughly after use. Don’t forget to clean, disinfect, rinse and completely dry the unit after each activation, including hoses, nozzles and nozzle covers (this does not apply to sealed-fluid cartridges). Any lingering cleaning chemicals or particles may harm the next user’s eyes. When the wrong chemicals mix, the fluid may turn brown or another color, and colored fluid is never usable.
7. Don’t cover the unit. Do not place a plastic bag or other makeshift cover over the unit to keep dust or particles out. This can hinder an injured person’s ability to properly activate the unit in a single motion and start the flow in one second or less.
8. Mind the shelf life. Avoid using expired flushing fluid. Like any standing water, eyewash fluid can grow bacteria that may be harmful to eyes. Be sure that someone is responsible for checking stations’ expiration dates and refilling/replacing them according to the manufacturer’s guidelines. Generally, according to ANSI Z358.1-2009, weekly flushing is required for plumbed stations, every three to six months for tank-style fluid stations and every two to three years for sealed-fluid cartridges and bottles.
9. Install the unit correctly. Do not install an eyewash unit without carefully following the manufacturer’s instructions. Stations vary and have precise installation instructions to ensure proper performance, including installation height, the rate of fluid flow, required spray pattern and much more.
10. Don’t alter or tamper with the unit. Again, the manufacturer’s instructions are the only ones that should be followed. Do not try to re-route hoses, change nozzles or otherwise compromise the station’s performance.
Eyes are one of the most vulnerable parts of the body. By understanding how to use emergency eyewash properly, your facility can ensure greater workplace eye safety. And that’s a clear benefit everyone can see.
Info to go: Read more about eye safety by clicking on the Info to Go safety links at www.SafeSupervisor.comRead More
Heavy physical labor in any type of weather can be exhausting, but during the hottest months it can be potentially fatal for workers who become overheated and dehydrated.
According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), factors that increase the risks for heat-related illness among workers include:
According to NIOSH and OSHA, the best way to prevent heat illness is for supervisors to take steps to make the work environment cooler. This includes training workers to recognize symptoms of heat illness in themselves and others and giving them information regarding how to protect themselves, such as by drinking sufficient water to stay hydrated and wearing a hat.
Workers who are new to the job or who have been away for more than a week need to gradually increase their workload or be given more frequent breaks so they can become accustomed to working in the heat.
In hot working conditions, workers should be drinking small amounts of water (about one cupful) every 15 to 20 minutes. They should not wait until they are thirsty, because they may be dangerously dehydrated by that point.
They should also be eating regular meals and snacks, which will help replace salt and electrolytes lost through sweating.
Here are some additional tips for supervisors:
For workers working indoors in hot conditions, fans or air conditioning should be used wherever possible. If the air temperature is higher than a worker’s skin temperature, fans alone will not be beneficial.
Other methods to reduce indoor temperature include providing reflective shields to redirect radiant heat, insulating hot surfaces and decreasing water vapor pressure by sealing steam leaks and keeping floors dry.
Reflective clothing, such as safety vests, should be worn as loosely as possible. Water-dampened cotton whole-body suits and cooling vests with pockets that hold cold packs may also be effective.
In worksites where high ambient temperatures typically occur, such as foundries or steel mills, a professional consultant should be sought to evaluate the extent of workers’ heat exposure and make recommendations regarding how to prevent heat-related illnesses.Read More
Too many companies are losing money and risking worker safety by failing to realize the importance and urgency of fatigue management, according to Bill Sirois, senior vice-president and CEO of Circadian 24/7 Workforce Solutions.
According to Sirois, 90 percent of shiftworkers receive no training on how to manage their schedules and shiftwork lifestyles.
“We see many shiftworkers who are well trained and skilled at their jobs, but who have never been taught how to deal with fatigue, better manage their sleep or adapt to the inherent physical and social challenges of shiftwork,” he says.
“As a consequence, they develop bad habits and/or become victims of common shiftwork pitfalls that compromise their ability to perform to their fullest capabilities.”
Sirois says companies often go to great lengths to keep equipment “well oiled and well maintained” yet fail to show the same level of care toward the workers they employ.
“Ironically, our people are being asked to operate outside their design specs every day to support our continuous production requirements. The net result, as you might surmise, has been premature failure in terms of (employee) sickness and injury, costly downtime in terms of absenteeism and presenteeism (coming to work while ill), high maintenance in terms of health and wellness costs and lost productivity due to human error.”
Sirois says companies wanting to reduce fatigue and optimize the productivity and safety of their workforce need to develop “a comprehensive, science-based, fatigue risk management plan. Such a plan should:
People are so busy these days that a lunch “break” frequently comes down to gobbling a quick sandwich with one hand while continuing to work with the other hand.
Aside from the stress associated with not taking a proper lunch break away from your workstation, dropping a wrench or taking off your work gloves and then tucking into a sandwich can be hazardous to your health, for these reasons:
Not only is it potentially hazardous to your health to eat anything without first washing your hands with hot soap and water, you also need to consider that chewing gum, drinking coffee or other beverages, smoking, touching your mouth, nose or eyes, handling contact lenses or applying make-up or lipstick in a chemically contaminated area can also harm you.
Few people would find it safe to place a hand in a chemical solution and touch it to their lips, but touching food after you’ve been handling chemicals isn’t any different.
If you have been handling chemicals while wearing gloves and you believe it’s fine to remove those gloves and eat, drink or smoke without first washing your hands, think again. Contamination on those gloves, whether from handling chemicals, laboratory agents or bloodborne pathogens in a medical setting, can easily be transferred to your hands while removing gloves.
No one needs to be told about the importance of washing their hands with soap and water after using a toilet, but if chemicals or biological agents have touched your hands, you also need to wash your hands before answering nature’s call.
Watch Where You Store Your Lunch
Another mistake workers often make is to store food or drink in refrigerators in which chemicals, drugs or biological agents are also stored. Doing so can easily contaminate food or beverage items. Food should only be kept cool in your lunchroom’s fridge.
Keep these additional chemical handling tips in mind:
Taking a minute to thoroughly wash your hands with warm, soapy water before eating isn’t just practicing good hygiene. It can prevent serious illness from chemical exposures.Read More
Female workers are more than twice as likely as their male counterparts to suffer ergonomics-related injuries on the job, particularly when not enough attention has been paid to the design of work, equipment, workstations and environment.
Ronald Porter, a physical therapist and ergonomics expert and director of the Back School of Atlanta, says some female-dominated professions, such as healthcare, require moving heavy loads and adopting awkward working positions.
Women are also more likely than men to be performing work that involves repetitive tasks, working at workstations and using tools that were designed for men.
Porter, who addressed the recent American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE) Professional Development Conference in Baltimore, noted that women represent 46 percent of the US workforce, but report 63 percent of musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) that result in lost work time.
Factors that put women at greater risk for MSDs include:
“Being overweight can contribute to back pain by increasing the wear and damage to joints, causing irritation, pain and reduced activity,” says Porter. “This lack of activity can cause further weight gain.”
Porter noted that other factors that put women at higher risk for MSDS include:
He says avoiding or limiting strenuous work, work requiring balance, lifting of more than 50 pounds, prolonged sitting or standing, temperature extremes and providing adjustable workstations can help women avoid work-related MSDs.
“Many work areas were designed by men for men. Forty-six percent of our workforce is female. The best place to apply ergonomics principles is during design, not after the issue becomes a problem,” says Porter. “It is must cheaper to build it correctly in the first place than to retrofit.”
PPE for women that will protect them from contract stress can also greatly reduce the chances of an ergonomic-related injury. Such PPE includes floor mats for workers who must stand a lot, shoe inserts and anti-vibration gloves.
Education in neutral postures, correct body mechanics and provision of “ergo breaks” can significantly reduce MSD risk factors for women.
“Instructing supervisors and perhaps even employees to recognize early warning signs of MSDs and how to apply correct first aid can be invaluable in the management process,” says Porter. “Developing appropriately modified or restricted duty jobs or tasks can speed recovery and decrease the likelihood of re-injury upon return to work.”Read More
Editor’s note: The following hazard alert was issued by WorkSafeBC following a worker’s death in British Columbia.
A wood-processing plant worker was feeding rough lumber into a strip saw. Each board was two inches thick, eight inches wide and five feet long.
The employer had instructed workers to feed lumber into the strip saw from the side and the company’s written job safety analysis also required workers to load lumber from the side.
However, the victim, who was not much taller than the infeed table, had to work in an awkward position with her arms outstretched at nearly shoulder height, according to WorkSafeBC investigator Daniel Marcoux.
The boards were not only difficult to feed through, but they needed to be fed quickly, at a rate of about six to seven boards per minute. In order to push the boards into the saw with enough force, the worker stood at the end of the infeed table. Unfortunately, there was no barrier or guard in place to prevent this unsafe practice.
One board kicked back out of the strip saw, breaking into three pieces. One wood piece hit another board on the table and it shot back and struck the worker, causing fatal injuries.
Marcoux notes that in order to make feeding the boards easier, the boards could have been pre-sorted into batches of similar thickness and the infeed rollers adjusted to accommodate each batch.
WorkSafeBC suggests these additional safe work practices to prevent such incidents:
A risk assessment needs to be undertaken for each machine, with a goal of reducing injury risk through safeguarding. The hierarchy of safeguarding, from most effective to least effective, is as follows:
Always start at the top of the hierarchy and choose a less effective safeguard only when the more effective solution is impractical. However, the type of safeguarding chosen must always be appropriate for the level of risk.
Here are some additional tips from WorkSafeBC:
Follow the employer’s established safe work procedures.Read More
A loading dock worker was loading drywall onto a flatbed truck when a forklift being operated by a co-worker surged forward, fatally pinning him against the truck.
At another workplace, a textile plant supervisor was operating a forklift truck when another forklift fell from a loading dock, causing the supervisor’s forklift to flip over. He was crushed under the roll cage and died.
And elsewhere, a warehouse worker died after he was crushed between a reversing semi-trailer and a loading dock. Investigators believe that he was likely paying more attention to the contents of the trailer than to where he was standing.
Hazards Abound at Loading Docks
Loading docks are busy places where machine operators and truck drivers must perform a delicate dance around workers on foot.
Along with being congested, loading docks may also be poorly lit, slippery, cramped, crowded with debris, riddled with blind spots and crisscrossed with ramps, stairways and uneven surfaces.
Some of the hazards include:
Training is Vital
If you haven’t been trained in loading dock safety, you probably won’t be aware of all the hazards and you will be vulnerable to injury. However, having undergone training won’t prevent an injury if you let your mind wander and lose track of your surroundings. In the busy atmosphere of a loading dock you literally could be one step away from disaster.
And even if you know where you are, others may not. You need to be wearing reflective clothing to keep yourself highly visible.
How to Stay Safe on a Loading Dock
These tips can help keep you safe on a loading dock:
Loading docks are busy places. Workers need to be trained on how they can protect themselves. They also need to stay focused on what’s going on around them at all times.Read More