Driving home the safety message for older workers

19 Jan 2018 Safety

You know that older workers bring skills, experience, and a respect for the rules to the workplace. But what about the driving? According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), “older drivers are more likely than their younger counterparts to adopt safe behaviors such as wearing a seatbelt and complying with speed limits.” However, NIOSH says those 55 and above are twice as likely to die in a work-related crash than other workers.

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Inclement Weather Policy Should Factor In Safety, Pay

An inclement weather policy has two dimensions: The first and most important is employee safety; the second is pay.

“Employers should give serious thought to allowing employees to stay home on days when there is a significantly elevated risk of a traffic accident, as no employer wants to see an injury or fatality occur because an employee felt obligated to come to work even though the roads were not safe,” noted Paul DeCamp, an attorney with Epstein, Becker & Green in Washington, D.C., and former administrator of the U.S. Department of Labor Wage and Hour Division.

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Cold Stress: Cold Stress can be Prevented

It is important for employers to know the wind chill temperature so that they can gauge workers’ exposure risk better and plan how to safely do the work. It is also important to monitor workers’ physical condition during tasks, especially new workers who may not be used to working in the cold, or workers returning after spending some time away from work.

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Family Safety During the Holidays

21 Nov 2017 Safety
This time of year people can often become rushed, distracted or tired — which all make home fires more likely to happen. Follow these tips to help keep your family and visitors safe this holiday season.

Stay with the stove. Thanksgiving is the No. 1 day of the year for home cooking fires, followed by Christmas Day and Christmas Eve. Remember to always stay with the stove whenever you are using it, and never leave the house with the oven on (turkey, anyone?).Keep the handles of your pots and pans turned back away from the edge of the stove so they aren’t knocked or pulled down. Always keep the area around the stove completely clear of flammable items like hot pads, paper towels, cookbooks and decorations.

Reduce the risk of turkey fryers. Turkey fryers are risky because they use a lot of cooking oil at high temperatures. Hot oil can be released during cooking, and the burners can ignite spilled oil. If you decide to fry, remember to not to overfill the pot with oil, choose a smaller turkey (10 pounds or less), and ensure it’s completely thawed and patted dry before cooking. Only fry on a flat surface in a well ventilated, outdoor area.

Caution with candles. Use candle holders that are sturdy and won’t tip over easily. Better yet, use flame-less, battery operated candles. Keep candles at least 1 foot from anything that can burn like decorations, towels and curtains. Never leave children or pets alone in a room with a lit candle. Always blow out all candles when headed to sleep or leaving home.

Add water daily to trees. When shopping for a real Christmas tree, look for one with fresh, vibrant green needles that are hard to pluck and don’t easily break from the branches. It shouldn’t be shedding any needles when you buy it.

Before placing the tree in the stand, cut 1 to 2 inches from the base of the trunk. Position it away from exits and at least 3 feet away from any heat source, and remember to add water every day to the tree stand. Always turn off Christmas tree lights before leaving your house or going to sleep.

Light it right. Look on the manufacturer’s label or box to check if the lights are designed for indoor or outdoor use. Only use outdoor-approved lights outside, and only use outdoor lights on a real Christmas tree, even if it’s indoors.

Follow the instructions for the maximum number of light strands to connect. Replace any strand with a frayed cord or loose bulb connections. When hanging up lights, use clips (not nails) to help prevent cord damage, and work with a partner if you have to get on a ladder.

Stay warm safely. Before you curl up with a good book by the fire, be sure to get your chimneys cleaned by a professional and your heating equipment inspected every year. Keep anything that can burn at least 3 feet away from portable space heaters and fireplaces. (Read More)

 


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Fall protection leads OSHA’s ‘Top 10’ list of most frequently cited violations

26 Sep 2017 Safety

The preliminary list of OSHA’s Top 10 violations for Fiscal Year 2017 remained largely unchanged from FY 2016, except for one new addition: Fall Protection – Training Requirements (1926.503) entered the list at No. 9 with 1,523 violations, just ahead of Electrical – Wiring Methods (1,405 violations). The entire list was revealed during the 2017 National Safety Council’s Congress & Expo.
The top five remained identical to the FY 2016 list, with Fall Protection – General Requirements at No. 1 by a wide margin with 6,072 violations. In a distant second was Hazard Communication with 4,176.

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Hurricane Preparedness and Response

20 Jun 2017 Safety

It is important to have an evacuation plan in place to ensure that workers can get to safety in case a hurricane may affect the area. A thorough evacuation plan should include:

Conditions that will activate the plan

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Are Fatigued Workers a Hazard at your Company?

With busy schedules and deadlines to meet, sleep is often the first thing to go. But all those late nights and early mornings add up, and sleep deprivation has consequences, including important implications for workplace safety. The National Safety Council (NSC) has chosen fighting fatigue as the Week 2 theme during National Safety Month with its “Recharge to Be in Charge” campaign.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a third of adults don’t get enough sleep. What’s enough sleep? The CDC says most adults need at least 7 hours per night.
In the workplace, discussions about fatigue and sleep deprivation often center around shift workers. And it’s true that employees who frequently work night shifts or change shifts often are at higher risk of sleep disruption and all its consequences. But shift workers aren’t the only group that experiences elevated rates of sleep deprivation and fatigue.
Workers who work more than one job, those who work long hours or overtime, and those who work in harsh environmental conditions can also be at risk of fatigue, according to an article in the NSC’s Safety + Health magazine. A recent study by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) found that workers in production occupations, healthcare support workers, healthcare practitioners and technicians, food preparation and service workers, and protective service employees such as police and firefighters were more likely to sleep fewer than 7 hours per day than all other major occupational groups.

Safety and health implications
Regularly falling short on sleep can have a wide range of health consequences, including higher risk for obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, and depression. In addition, feeling sleepy while operating dangerous equipment or driving a car is a major hazard not only because of the danger of falling asleep while doing so, but also because of the slower reaction times, increased risk of errors, and decreased cognitive ability that can result from fatigue.
Some safety-sensitive industries have regulations intended to mitigate these risks, notably the trucking industry, which must follow the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) hours of service rules. But fatigue can be dangerous in almost any industry. Even workers who don’t perform safety-sensitive jobs need to commute to and from work, often by car, so all employers would be prudent to evaluate and address the risks of fatigue.
According to a 2012 article by the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (ACOEM), employee alertness depends on a number of factors, including:

  • The work performed,
  • The timing of the shift relative to an individual’s circadian rhythm,
  • Whether the work environment is conducive to alertness or fatigue,
  • Whether there are measures in place to detect excess fatigue,
  • Whether employees get enough sleep during time off,
  • Whether employees have sleep environments conducive to high-quality sleep, and
  • Whether employees have medical or other issues that interfere with sleep.

Not all of these issues are under an employer’s control, notes the ACOEM, but many are. Factors such as lighting, temperature, and pace of work can all be adjusted to reduce the risk of sleepiness and increase alertness on the job.

Recommendations for employers
The ACOEM recommends that employers, particularly those in high-hazard industries, implement a fatigue risk management system (FRMS), which is a program designed to proactively prevent and address fatigue hazards in the workplace. Elements of an FRMS include a fatigue management policy, fatigue risk management, a fatigue reporting system for employees, fatigue incident investigation, fatigue management training and education, sleep disorder management, and a continuous improvement process.
Even without a formal system, all employers can benefit from the following recommended practices to reduce the hazards associated with workplace fatigue:

  • Ensure that staffing levels are adequate for the workload to reduce the need for employees to work long or unusual hours and overtime, which can interfere with sleep.
  • Examine shift schedules and redesign them if necessary to allow employees to get more nighttime sleep.
  • Provide employee training and education about the importance of proper rest, the hazards of working while fatigued, and best practices for quality sleep.
  • Encourage workers to seek treatment for sleep disorders and medical conditions that may impede their ability to get enough quality sleep.
  • Adjust lighting, temperature, noise levels, and workstation design to improve alertness.
  • Schedule critical and highly hazardous tasks during the time when employees are at their most alert.
  • Provide variety in work activities and encourage workers to take breaks to prevent and mitigate fatigue.
  • Train employers and supervisors to recognize the signs of excess fatigue, monitor themselves and their coworkers, and take steps to mitigate safety risks. (Source: ehsdailyadvisor.blr.com)

Emily Scace

 


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