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February 2011

January 2011

February Reminder: Temporary Employees and OSHA Recordkeeping

John DeRoia Posted by John DeRoia

Are you confused over recordkeeping requirements for your temporary workers?  Here are some simple guidelines to help.   

OSHA regulations require employers to record work-related illnesses and injuries on the OSHA 300 log for all employees on their payroll.  The regulations also require employers to maintain such records for employees not on their payroll including temporary employees from a staffing firm.  Now here's the catch to this requirement.  If the employer supervises the temporary employee on a day-to-day basis, the employer is required to log the temporary employee’s injuries on their company OSHA log.  If the temporary agency dictates what the help will be doing in their day-to-day activities then the injury would be logged on the staffing companies OSHA logs. 

According to OSHA, day-to-day supervision means supervision of the “details, means, methods, and processes by which the work is to be accomplished.” In the majority of cases, the employer, not the staffing firm, exercises these functions.

In addition, if you should receive a request by OSHA to complete a survey for a previous year’s injuries and person-hours worked, do not forget to add your temporary workforce’s hours in your totals. 

Here are links to OSHA’s recordkeeping forms and OSHA’s recordkeeping handbook to help guide you.  Remember you need to post your OSHA 300A Summary Logs by February 1st.


Don't Let Gravity Get You Down

Henry Reynolds Posted by Henry Reynolds

It is that time of the year when roads and walkways become slippery and hard to walk on.  What we should not forget is that during the year, in any environment, slips trips and falls can be both painful and costly to all persons involved.  Slips, trips and falls are the second leading cause of workplace injuries.

Please note these statistics:

  • 265,000 non-fatal injuries each year.
  • Average cost of a slip, trip, and fall is $27,000 per claims (i.e., medical and lost time).
  • Highest injury frequency of any regulated activity.
  • More than 800 deaths annually.
  • Leading cause of ER visits (National Safety Council).

What can we do to reduce the risk of slips, trips falls?  One place to start is with the identification of hazards. Below are just a few.

Surface Conditions

  • Slippery Floors
  • Uneven walking surfaces
  • Changes in Level
  • Surface protrusions or depressions
  • Poor Housekeeping
  • Lack of Space
  • Carpets, floor mats, cables, extension cords

Task Related Concerns

  • Inappropriate Footwear
  • Carry items that obstruct view
  • Rushing to complete tasks
  • Improper ladder set-up or use of ladder.
  • Inadequate lighting
  • Open Drawers
  • Winter Activities

When evaluating slip, trip, and fall hazards at work remember many of these hazards lurk in our own homes. An injury at home is no less than painful than one at work! Identify hazards in both locations to help keep your co-workers and your family members from suffering gravity's revenge.

For more information on this topic, MEMIC is hosting a webinar on January 27th. You can register online. We will address the above issues and many more in this one-hour webinar.


Hypothermia: When "cold and wet" is dangerous

Koch Peter 2 Submitted by Peter Koch

On a hot, summer day – “cold and wet” provides relief and refreshment – no matter how it’s delivered.  But, during the winter months – “cold and wet” can be a life-threatening combination.

According to a report by the CDC, hypothermia causes approximately 600 deaths each year in the United States.

Hypothermia describes the rapid, progressive mental and physical collapse caused by the core temperature of the body cooling to below 95 degrees.  Hypothermia is caused when you are exposed to cold, is aggravated by wet, windy conditions and physical exhaustion.

Hypothermia can occur even with prolonged, unprotected exposure to relatively mild ambient temperatures of 60 to 65 degrees.   Add wind-chill and wet (from the weather or perspiration) and an unsuspecting worker can succumb.

Warning signs of hypothermia in adults include shivering, confusion, memory loss, drowsiness, exhaustion and slurred speech.  If you or one of your co-workers exhibits any of these signs in a cool or cold environment, move to a warm, dry area and get medical help.

For prevention of hypothermia remember -  C.O.L.D.— cover, overexertion, layers, dry:

Cover - Wear a hat or other protective covering to prevent body heat from escaping from your head, face and neck.  Mittens are more effective than gloves because mittens keep your fingers in closer contact with one another.

Overexertion - Activities that cause you to sweat a lot will add to your cold challenge. The combination of wet clothing and cold weather can cause you to lose body heat more quickly.   Keep this in mind and dress in clothing that will allow you to adjust accordingly

Layers - Wear loose fitting, layered, lightweight clothing. Outer clothing made of tightly woven, water-repellent material is best for wind protection. Wool, silk or polypropylene inner layers hold body heat better than cotton does.

Dry - Stay as dry as possible. Get out of wet clothing as soon as possible. Be especially careful to keep your hands and feet dry, bring a change of socks and gloves.

The description of C.O.L.D. was taken from information at the Mayo Clinic's website

If you lead safely, I’ll follow

Dodge John Posted by John Dodge

Last month I was speaking to a group of supervisors and middle managers about the role of the front-line supervisor in workplace safety. We discussed that in some organizations, workplace safety and health responsibilities are assigned to a safety committee or a safety coordinator. And in many cases, injury prevention efforts fall short due to the fact that safety committees and safety coordinators are limited in their authority and aren't always available to ensure safe work practices.

However, the front-line supervisor does have the necessary authority and availability to ensure safe work practices. Who better to evaluate work conditions, safe behaviors, and employee skill levels?

Unfortunately, some organizations do not assign safety related activities to their supervisors, or educate them on leadership skills - they are expected to already have these skills or to learn on the job. As a result, many supervisors rely on their technical skills rather than the all-important human and conceptual skills necessary to lead.

Technical skills-- knowing how to do a job--are critical for teaching and coaching employees while human skills such as honesty, communication, sincerity, motivation, respect, and ensuring safe work, are essential for effective leadership. Conceptual workplace skills such as organization, job preparation, and evaluating employee skill are equally essential.  Effective use of technical, human, and conceptual skills will help the supervisor foster a safe, high performance workplace.  

Want proof that you should work on your human skills? Ask your employees and fellow supervisors to name some traits of the best supervisor that they have ever worked for. Write them down and note how many fall into the human skills category-you may be surprised!

Want to know more about leadership in safety? Join MEMIC for a one hour webinar on January 19, 2011 at 11 a.m.

See more with less? Yes!

Allan Brown Posted by Allan Brown

Office environments are usually well lighted, and believe it or not, this poses some problems for the computer operator.  Offices have been around for a long time but the world of computers is relatively new.  Most offices today are equipped with computer workstations, and lots of light from fixtures above.   These overhead lights are left over from the days of paper pushing.   

Today’s office routines pass in front of us electronically.  Less is done on paper and more from our computers.  Viewing a computer in an over-lighted office environment increases the strain on our eyes, necks and shoulders.   The computer is a screen in front of us that contains its own light source.  Adding more ambient light in the room from above or from windows does not make the viewing any easier.  As the ambient light increases the contrast on the computer screen decreases.  The words and images are actually more difficult to see.  A typical response to improve the contrast by the user is to squint or move closer to the screen usually with a forward head posture.  Either of these accommodations will eventually lead to a cumulative trauma disorder (CTD). 

Squinting is accomplished by contracting the muscle around your eyes.  Prolonged contracting can lead to fatigue and achiness around the face and eyes as well as red eye.  Leaning into the computer screen with a forward head posture can increase the forces on the neck and shoulders possibly leading to headaches and neck pain.  In both situations the root cause has not been addressed.  Until the overhead light is reduced the unconscious behaviors of squinting and leaning will continue. 

Reduce the lighting from above.  Look at your screen and have someone turn the overhead lights off and see if this improves the viewing experience.  Shade your eyes from lights from above and see if the screen contrast improves.  Complete darkness is not the solution.  A 3-to-1 relationship has been considered a comfort range for lighting.  In other words, the computer should be 3 times brighter than the room ambient lighting.  Try to balance the lighting to this ratio with shading or filtering the light from above.  Properly balanced light will improve the comfort at your computer work station. 

Of course, paperwork still needs light.  Get a document holder and a small task light to shed light on the paper and anything else below or away from the computer screen.  And, for those of us who hunt and peck at the keyboard, there's an added benefit to having it lighted, too.