Holiday Shutdown Means Open for Cleaning

PaiPosted by Christopher Pai

The Holiday Season is a great opportunity to give your employees a well-deserved break.  It is also an opportune time to perform preventative maintenance and cleaning that is not possible during normal operating hours. Your holiday maintenance crew could be exposed to hazards they don’t routinely deal with. Before the work begins, take the time to review potential hazards and how to protect workers.


Is it time to break out the ladders, scaffolds, scissor lifts, or boom lifts to change light bulbs, paint walls, or dust rafters? To protect workers against falls:

  • Provide the correct equipment, such as ladders that are long enough and the appropriate type for the task.
  • Forbid the use of unsafe options such as an unsecured or unguarded platform raised by a forklift.
  • Train employees how to use personal fall protection. equipment if required by the job.
  • Issue tools and equipment that will enable them to maintain three-point contact with ladders, such as hooks to hold paint buckets.

Falling object hazards

Will your workers be releasing equipment or objects that are normally stationary and secured? Do they need to move supplies and equipment, such as roofing shingles or replacement parts, to elevated areas? Will they work in crews, with some workers above others?  To protect workers from falling objects:

  • Identify potential falling object or overhead hazards for each job. 
  • Remind workers above to secure their tools and materials.  Use toe boards or debris nets as needed.    
  • Remind workers below to wear their hard hats.
  • Secure items whose supports may be compromised.
  • Provide refresher training for workers who will use slings or other lifting accessories.


The Flu and Safety – The Sniffly Connection

Willard WebbPosted by Debra Willard Webb, RN, COHN-S

Lean organizations are the norm - every person and every job matters to the mission. When all hands are ready for duty, safe work practices align with the mission.  However, when a couple of absences enter the workflow, safety mindfulness can be diverted to thinking about shortcuts.  Outcomes can include injuries instead of efficiencies.

Millions of workdays are lost due to the annual flu season in the US - almost 17 million in one NIH study. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) states that billions of dollars are spent in sick days and lost productivity in our country.1  Some of those lost days are hospitalized workers with complications from the flu.  The flu can even be life threatening.  Influenza is contagious before symptoms are severe enough to keep you home.  So the virus spreads - the more folks incubating the flu illness at work before they feel badly enough to miss work, then the MORE ill folks we’ll have incubating and out of work the next week.

The CDC recommends annual flu vaccination as the first and best way to prevent flu. Take a look at the infographic on CDC’s BusinessPulse: How CDC protects the health of your business” for ways CDC is assisting businesses in promoting flu vaccination for employees.

From Florida to Maine, seasonal flu cases have been reported already. Get your own flu shot and promote employee vaccinations. As CDC says, “Make it your Business to Fight the Flu”.  It is a win-win when workers are protected.  The CDC offers information, free podcasts, mobile apps, widgets, eCards, and more to make the vaccination campaign effective. Click here for more info on containing the contagion from MEMIC’s Greg LaRochelle.


"Take 3" Actions to Fight the Flu says CDC

  • Vaccinate
  • Stop germs
  • Antiviral drugs if your doctor prescribes them  Molinari NA, Ortega-Sanchez IR, Messonnier ML, Thompson WW, Wortley PM, Weintraub E, Bridges CB. The annual impact of seasonal influenza in the US: measuring disease burden and costs. Vaccine 2007;25(27):5086–5096.

December is Safe Toys and Gifts Month

SoaresPosted by Tony Soares, CSP, CHMM, CSHE

The gift giving season is upon us, so in a departure from the regular workplace safety topics posted here, we at MEMIC would like to take a minute to remind you to keep safety a personal priority as you chose gifts for the young ones in your life.

Parents have always been worried about the toys their children play with.  Are they too violent, too noisy, too expensive, or confirm stereotypes?  But do you make sure your kid’s toys are safe to play with?  According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), in 2007, Fisher-Price recalled 967,000 toys due to a lead poisoning hazard. Small children can absorb lead or other toxins into their small bodies when chewing on toys. Some toys contain magnets which can affect the child’s digestive system if swallowed.  The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) states that in 2007 there were 232,900 children treated in hospital emergency rooms for toy-related injuries and 18 children died due to toy injuries.

In August 2008, Congress passed a law to improve toy safety measures, including new testing procedures and harsher penalties for safety violators. This legislation also included a new ban on lead and other dangerous substances from toys, and the creation of a public database containing information on specific toys and how to file complaints about a toy.

This new legislation now makes it easier to enforce better safety practices, but won’t ensure them. In a matter of months after the bill passed, over 20 new toy recalls were issued. Many of these toys were still on store shelves. 

Do your part to be certain there are no unsafe toys in your home. Here are some toy safety tips for parents, grandparents, uncles,  aunts, and friends. 

  • Always match the age on the toy to the child’s age. The age grading system is based on safety. Choking hazards are prevalent with younger children.
  • Stuffed toys are always a classical gift for young children. For children under 3 years old look for sewed-on eyes or well-secured eyes and seams (little pellets are a major concern when spilled) that can stand up to the vigorous activities of your child’s play.
  • Never leave the toys inside cribs with infants.  
  • Remember to include a helmet with the bicycle, skateboard, or snowboard.
  • Batteries, especially those small coin-shaped ones, can pose a safety concern. Make sure children don’t have access to batteries or toy battery compartments.   Remember there are other products in your home not subject to toy safety standards. You will find batteries in your TV remote control, in clocks, and other products. It’s important that you keep those batteries out of your child’s reach and always discard them properly.
  • Be extra careful when buying toys from a flea market or from a garage sale. Some of those toys may have been made before safety standards were in place or they may be defective or broken.
  • Inspect all the toys in your home periodically for wear and tear, broken parts, or sharp edges. This is a good idea for all equipment in your house. If a toy is broken and cannot be properly repaired, discard it.
  • Watch out for toys with electrical wiring. Electrical shock can occur when the toy breaks and the live wiring is exposed, or it unexpectedly contacts water.

We now have stricter toy safety standards in our country. Any toy sold here, regardless of its country of origin, has to comply with these regulations.  However, recalls are an important step in the safety net should a problem be discovered. Be vigilant, check the US Consumer Products Safety Commission, Safe Kids Worldwide, BabyCenter, or ToySafety.Org to stay up to date on the latest recalls or other safety information. 

Safety kids