A Message from the CEO

20. March 2015

Julius Griggs, CEO

Hello and welcome back.

Boy, I cannot believe the first quarter is almost done. This year is flying by.

A lot of good things are coming up, so stay tuned.

Meanwhile, we are getting more and more subscribers to our Safety Matters Weekly blog. If you do not know about it yet, let Seymour Safety tell you all about it.

Oh, and in case you had not heard, we released our Online Nursing Continuing Education Courses.

Enjoy the reading below and see you next month with some new items.

Sincerely,

Julius P Griggs

Julius P. Griggs

President and CEO

Safety Unlimited, Inc.

A Message from the CEO , ,

Fit-testing and Facial Hair

19. March 2015

Facial hair is an expression of individuality, and sometimes, religious beliefs. Nonetheless, facial hair interferes with face mask seals. Both facial hair and long hair can come between the seal on a facepiece and allow contaminated air in.

Fortunately, fit tests are conducted prior to an employee’s placement at a job, and every year thereafter. This 15-20 minute test determines the effectiveness of the seal between the respirator facepiece and the face.

As an employee, you have the right to the best protection possible. If a certain respirator or facepiece does not fit, per OSHA fit-testing procedures, your company should offer a selection so you can find one that fits. Once you have found the best fitting equipment for your face, you will use that same make, model, style, and size on the job.

Additionally, fit tests consistently prove that clean shaven faces create the best respirator face seal. The increase in protection is about 300 times greater for clean shaven employees compared to their counterparts.

Health and safety should be the primary concern for individuals who wear negative-pressure face masks and their employers. Any leakage into the facepiece would allow exposure to hazardous chemicals, and should be prevented.  Therefore, avoiding facial hair while wearing a respirator is more than a personal preference: it may help save your life.

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National Work Zone Awareness Week

16. March 2015

Whether you're a commuter driving in your own vehicle, a commercial driver in a semi, or a construction worker driving a dump truck or other vehicle, it's important to obey the traffic laws, and drive safely and intelligently while on the road. It's even more important to do so in construction zones where traffic can bottleneck, tensions can rise, and traffic accidents can not just affect yourself and other drivers, but workers on the site as well.

The Federal Highway Administration's (FHWA) National Work Zone Awareness Week (NWZAW) takes place on March 23-27, as the snow melts and the construction season gets under way. During this time, let's try to remember some safety rules and tips to keep you, your fellow drivers, and the workers trying to repair the roads you use every day, safe.

Over the past 5 years, crashes in work zones have resulted in 4,400 deaths and 200,000 injuries. Fatal work zone crashes occur most often in the summer or fall, when construction is at its peak, and usually involve working-age adults.

In order to improve your safety, the safety of other drivers, and construction worker safety, we've provided a few tips from the FHWA:

  • Stay alert; minimize distractions
  • Turn on headlights
  • Pay attention to the road
    • Read the road signs for instructions and warnings
    • Watch for brake lights
  • Merge into the proper lane
    • Merge well before the lane closure rather than swerving or forcing your way into traffic at the last moment
  • Don't tailgate
  • Obey the posted speed limit
    • It only takes 25 more seconds to cover one mile at 45 mph than it does at 65 mph
    • Fines are often doubled for moving traffic violations
  • Follow flagger instructions
  • Be prepared for the unexpected
    • Workers, work vehicles, or equipment may enter your lane without warning
    • Other vehicles may slow, stop, or change lanes unexpectedly
  • Be patient

Remember, traffic violation fines are often doubled in construction zones. Why? Because workers on construction sites depend on your ability to drive safely and within the confines of the law to keep them safe. When you're driving through a work zone or construction site, you are not only protecting yourself and other drivers through careful driving, you're also protecting the workers in the area who trust you to follow safe driving rules.

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Spring Cleaning Safety

6. March 2015

Spring cleaning safety is not normally on people's minds when they begin to haul out all those cleaning supplies and equipment, but it should be. It is also a great time to check if your safety plans are in place and your safety equipment is in working order.

Below are a few hints that will help you, your families, and colleagues stay healthy and make your surroundings more pleasant.

Smoke alarms that are properly installed and maintained play a vital role in reducing fire deaths and injuries. If there is a fire in your home, smoke spreads fast and you need smoke alarms to give you time to get out. Having a working smoke alarm cuts the chances of dying in a reported fire in half. Almost two-thirds of home fire deaths resulted from fires in homes with no smoke alarms or no working smoke alarms.

Get rid of expired medicines properly and make sure your first aid kit is up to date with supplies. Springtime is also a good time to practice your family emergency plan. Taking time with these simple tips can help your family stay safe all year round.

Every day we need to be careful when going about our household chores, but when you really start tearing the house apart and moving things around during spring cleaning, especially with all those cleaning supplies and equipment out, it is doubly important to keep safety in mind. Make sure you’re practicing safe laundry habits. Laundry safety is a key step to prevent accidents in your home. If single-loaded liquid laundry packets are your go-to, always keep them safely away from children, out of reach, or locked in cabinets and drawers.

Springtime is also a good time to practice your family emergency plan. Meet with your family to discuss how to prepare for different types of emergencies, such as fire, severe weather, floods, or other common hazards in your community. Your plan will help family members understand what to do during emergencies.

Spring means flower buds and blooming trees — and if you're one of the millions of people who have seasonal allergies, it also means sneezing, congestion, runny nose and other bothersome symptoms. And if you’re traveling during your spring break, remember, allergens travel with you wherever you go. Don’t forget to continue taking your medication while you’re traveling and be ready to handle an allergy attack since you’ll be exposed to more allergens than normal.

Spring can be a time to celebrate warmer temperatures and sunshine; however, it's important to be aware of hazards related to spring such as flooding, dangerous driving conditions, pedestrians, working outdoors, and storm-related weather.

Discussing safety related topics about spring hazards is a great way to help everyone stay safe and working.

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Window Safety

5. March 2015

You probably won't be surprised to learn that unintentional falls are the number one cause of non-fatal injury for children. But you might be surprised to find out that 3,300 children under the age of 5 are injured in falls from windows annually in the U.S. and that 4,700 children 14 and under are treated in hospital emergency rooms annually for injures sustained from falling out of windows. An average of 18 children 10 and under die from such falls each year.

These numbers have prompted legislative action such as the New York City health code requirement that owners of buildings of three or more apartments provide and properly install approved window guards on all windows in any apartment where a child 10 or under resides and in each hallway window. In Minnesota, after a one year old climbed atop a piece of furniture, pushed open a screen, and fell four stories (and survived with no permanent injuries), the state passed "Laela's Law" aimed at protecting children from falls from windows in newly constructed buildings by developing residential window safety requirements.

National Window Safety Week is the first week in April. It's designed to heighten awareness of window safety and to prevent falls and injuries in the home where most falls from windows occur. The National Safety Council recommends the following for fall prevention:

  • Keep windows closed and locked when children are around;
  • When opening windows for ventilation, open those windows that children can't reach;
  • Don't rely on insect screens to prevent falls; and
  • Keep furniture away from windows.
These tips, along with window guards and safer screens, can help cut down on thousands of injuries to young children.
 
You can learn about National Window Safety week at the National Safety Council website and get tips on window safety, and fall safety in general, at the Safe Kids Worldwide website.

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A Message from the CEO

23. February 2015

Julius Griggs, CEO

Hello, and welcome back.

Thanks for keeping us busy and I hope 2015 is starting off well for you.

There is some great reading below, but first - a little reminder.

With everything that is going on around the world with organizations like ISIS, I want to remind everyone that we do offer HUMINT (Human Intelligence) Training in the classroom environment. This training is VERY popular right now.

While some organizations do not have the funding to conduct this type of training, a solution that seems to work well is to include our HUMINT topics as part of other required training, such as refresher training for responders.

Let us know if you would like this year’s refresher training for you to be on HUMINT and how it could impact you.

Thank you for reading.

Sincerely,

Julius P Griggs

Julius P. Griggs
President and CEO
Safety Unlimited, Inc.

 

A Message from the CEO , ,

Whistleblower Rights under OSHA

17. February 2015

The term whistle blower was coined in the early 1970’s by Ralph Nader to replace terms with negative connotations like “snitch” or “informant.” A whistleblower, much like a referee (from where the term originated), is someone who calls out or exposes illegal or foul play, exposes wrongdoing, or tries to put a stop to something.

In the case of manufacturing, construction, and hazardous materials industries, it is most likely less expensive to fix the problem to begin with than to have a workers’ compensation injury and claim. Unfortunately, sometimes companies won’t address hazards internally and a whistleblower is necessary to ensure that action is taken to prevent themselves and others from being injured on the job.

Recently, in a horrific accident at WKW Erbsloeh NA, Inc. in Alabama, a maintenance worker tripped on a walkway above a tank of acid and fell into the acid. There were no railings or toeboards on the walkway. The company had been cited by OSHA previously for that specific hazard and has had numerous other violations. You can search for an establishment’s OSHA violations on OSHA’s website.

Filing a complaint with OSHA is very simple; it does, however, need to be done in the time limit covered by the provision that the problem or issue falls under – this is usually 30, 60, or 180 days. You submit the Whistleblower Complaint Form online, download, and fax or mail it. You can also send a letter or call your local or regional OSHA office describing your complaint. It can be done anonymously, or you can give your name.

If an employee is morally and ethically convinced that they need to speak up, they should. Besides OSHA, who is on their side and offers protection against workplace retaliation, the National Whistleblowers Center (NWC) is an organization of attorneys created to protect Whistleblower rights, and to help people come forward without fear of retaliation. 

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Thirty Years of the ERG and Counting

11. February 2015

For more than 30 years, the Emergency Response Guidebook (ERG) has aided first responders in the initial stages of the response effort during hazardous materials releases. Use of the book has gradually expanded beyond the borders of the United States to Canada and several South American countries as well--a testament to the book's usefulness.

In 1973, the US Department of Transportation (DOT) released its first Emergency Response Guidebook (ERG) as part of a collaborative effort with Transport Canada and the Secretariat of Communications and Transportation of Mexico. This guide was meant to offer ready information about the hazards and safe response for first responders, which include firemen and policemen, to releases of hazardous materials via any of the numerous ways they are transported. The ERG describes itself as "a guide to aid first responders in quickly identifying the specific or generic hazards of the material(s) involved in the incident, and protecting themselves and the general public during the initial response phase of the incident."

The book was developed for use in the first 30 minutes of emergency response. Such operations involve identifying the material and establishing safe distances to prevent civilians or other unprotected people from entering the danger zone.

The ERG is divided into six sections:

1. White (front)

2. Yellow

3. Blue

4. Orange

5. Green

6. White (back)

Some of these sections allow identification of the material by different criteria. The yellow section identifies the material by its 4-digit ID/UN number, which may be visible on a placard or container label. The blue section provides material names in alphabetical order. Each of these sections provides reference numbers in other sections for critical response information, such as hazards presented by the material, what is considered a safe distance from the material, and shelter in place or evacuation instructions, in addition to the most critical component: how to proceed during the initial response phase.

The Emergency Response Guidebook is updated and released every four years in response to updates in technology and the use of new chemicals. The most recent copy of the ERG was released in 2012. You can download a free copy of the 2012 ERG at the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration website.

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Healthy Aging in the Workplace

11. February 2015

Currently, 20% of all American workers are over 65. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, that number will jump to 25% in another five years. While safety and health are vital to every workplace, this shift in the age demographic of workers makes issues of healthier workers more pressing because with aging comes a greater likelihood of both chronic health conditions and on-the-job injury. It's important, then, to understand that appropriate programs and support in the workplace can help workers be productive longer.

The most common health conditions affecting older workers are arthritis and hypertension. The former impacts 47% of workers over the age of 55 and the latter, 44%. More than 75% of aging workers are estimated to have at least one chronic health condition that requires management. These figures have implications for both how well, and when, older workers can physically perform their duties.

Interestingly however, because of experience, increased caution, greater likelihood of following safety regulations, and awareness of relative physical limitations, older workers tend to experience fewer workplace injuries than younger colleagues. However, when accidents involving older workers do occur, the workers often require more time to heal and incidents affecting older workers are more likely to be fatal.

Employers increasingly see the value that older workers bring to the job. Older workers have greater institutional knowledge and usually more experience. They often possess more productive work habits than younger colleagues. They report lower stress levels on the job and, in general, get along better with their co-workers.

Workplaces have often, out of necessity, adapted to older workers. Both the Age Discrimination Employment Act of 1967 and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 prohibit workplace discrimination based on age and disability, respectively, and thus support the retention of older qualified workers despite limitations that may come from age or disability. However, some employers are more proactive than others, realizing that a well-designed, employee-centered approach to the  physical nature and organization of work benefits all workers regardless of age. Workplace design, flexibility of the work schedule, and ergonomic interventions increasingly focus on the needs of older employees. Many workplace accommodations are easy and inexpensive to make. Modern orthotics, appropriate flooring and seating, optimal lighting, and new information technology hardware and software can help older individuals continue to work. New emphasis on job sharing, flexible work schedules, and work from home can support added years on the job.

For some useful strategies for preparing a more age-friendly work environment, check out the CDC's webpage on Healthy Aging at Work.

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Office Environment and Worker Safety and Health

11. February 2015

If you work and are spending one-third to one-half of your day in an office setting, then your surroundings there are as important as those in your home. The effect of your indoor environment may have an influence on the performance, productivity, health, and well-being of office workers.

Although we usually have little control over the buildings we work in, being aware of problems that can affect us will enable us to take counter-measures and may encourage the creation of stimulating and nurturing environments.

A well-designed office allows each employee to work comfortably without needing to over-reach, sit or stand too long, or use awkward postures (correct ergonomic design). Sometimes, equipment or furniture changes are the best solution to allow employees to work comfortably. On other occasions, the equipment may be satisfactory but the task could be redesigned.

For example, studies have shown that those working at computers have less discomfort with short, hourly breaks.

Below are some tips in making your work environment a healthy, safe, and productive one:

Make sure that your chair is comfortable and has adjustable height and arms. When you are sitting straight with feet flat on the floor your arms should be at a 90-degree angle when typing on the computer. If you are having to strain or stretch to reach your computer then you are putting stress on the back and shoulder area. Chairs can certainly be expensive but in the long run it will cost much less than spending time at the chiropractor.

Plants do more than just enhance the beauty of your surroundings, many actually clean pollutants out of the air as they add oxygen and humidity to the indoor environment. They also filter the air, and can fight against the common high-tech ill, sick building disease.

Studies suggest that natural light increases human productivity and reduces fatigue and stress. By simply replacing your antiquated fluorescent tubes with full-spectrum tubes, you can instantly enhance your environment and your well-being. Full spectrum lighting emits a natural, balanced spectrum of light that is the closest you can get to sunlight indoors. Based on years of study not only do they bring out true, vibrant colors but they can also ease eye fatigue, improve your mood, reduce cortisol (stress hormone) levels, slow aging of the retina, and reduce glare.

Situations in offices that can lead to injury or illness range from physical hazards (such as cords across walkways, leaving low drawers open, objects falling from overhead) to task-related (speed or repetition, duration, job control, etc.), environmental (chemical or biological sources), or design-related hazards (such as nonadjustable furniture or equipment).

Most of the time, it's the major sources of stress that lead to job burnout and health problems. Job stress can affect your home life too. There are a variety of steps you can take to reduce both your overall stress levels and the stress you find on the job and in the workplace.

These include:

  • Taking responsibility for improving your physical and emotional well-being;
  • Avoiding pitfalls by identifying knee jerk habits and negative attitudes that add to the stress you experience at work; and
  • Learning better communication skills to ease and improve your relationships with management and coworkers.

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