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March 2011

Jack Frost’s Revenge on the Road

Koch Peter 2 Posted by Peter Koch

It's often said that revenge is a dish best served cold.  As the steady advance of spring brings us more warm days, Jack Frost has his revenge in the cold nights, bringing out the best in our northeastern roads.  Pot holes seemingly big enough to swallow your car, and the truck in front of you,  too, lurk just around the turn. 

This time of year road conditions contribute to many collisions and cause millions of dollars in vehicle damage.  Dropping a wheel into a pot hole at speed can damage to the rim, cause rapid or explosive tire deflation, and a loss of control of the vehicle.  Not only can direct contact cause damage but performing evasive maneuvers can send you unexpectedly into oncoming traffic.

Along with the pot holes, there are also the crews out pushing back banks and trying to fill the holes which can also present a hazard to navigation.  Many times these crews are in a moving work zone and the normal signage you are used to in a stationary work zone will not be present.

So this time of year, as spring challenges our springs, follow these tips:

  • Slow down to avoid the hazards;
  • Be aware of work crews and give them plenty of room;
  • Leave early, give yourself more time to get where you're going;
  • Check your tire condition and inflation daily; and,
  • Don't let Jack Frost get the best of you this Spring

Reducing Housekeeping Strains May Be Just a Drop in the Bucket

Clark Dan Posted by Dan Clark

 When it comes to housekeeping workers, back and shoulder strains can be significantly decreased by, literally, a drop in the bucket. 

Housekeeping workers often work with wheeled mop buckets that, when full, can weigh 50 pounds or more.  The buckets are easily filled with dispensing systems or a hose from a sink which doesn’t place a huge physical demand on the worker.  However, considerable stress and strain is put on workers when these buckets are emptied after use.  

 Emptying the buckets, typically in a closet with limited space, places significant forces on the shoulder joints and back.  Many housekeeping workers manually lift these buckets to a sink, or other elevated drain, to empty them.  When doing so, these workers are subject to awkward postures, including lifting and twisting.

An inexpensive solution to avoid costly shoulder and back strains is a drop in the bucket.  A small electric submersible pump (priced between $80 and $100), equipped with a short piece of hose, can be set in the bucket that needs to be emptied.  Pumping the water into the sink or drain will eliminate the heavy, manual lift, twist, and awkward posture.

 Be sure that the electric pump is plugged into a ground-fault circuit and that workers are trained on the proper use of the pump.  This practice is so effective in eliminating the unnecessary, heavy lift and twist that some companies have created policies enforcing the use of these pumps by housekeeping workers. 

Crossing the T’s and Dotting the I’s in OSHA Training for General Industry

LaRochelle Greg 2 Posted by Greg LaRochelle

Figuring out the “who, what, and when” on OSHA safety training requirements can be a challenge for employers, especially for small businesses that typically don’t have a full-time safety person on staff.  General industry employers are broadly defined as places of business that is static in nature and not including the agriculture, construction, and maritime industries.  Failure to provide workers with adequate safety training can result in violation of Part 1910 standards with monetary penalty and, worse yet, could lead to catastrophic injury. 

Sorting out the “who” for safety training is fairly straightforward with regard to employees who can be affected by exposure to hazards on the job.  The “what” and the “when” can be a little more difficult to decipher.  As an aid to help employers cross the T’s and dot the I’s with OSHA training requirements, MEMIC has created a table compiling a list of standard titles that indicate when training is required along with a reference to the specific standard’s section on training.  Here's a sample with a partial list: OSHA-GI-training-requiremen 

For the more complete listing as well as more information on training, MEMIC customers can log onto the MEMIC Safety Director resource library at  Type the key word "training" into the search field.  Currently, there are 45 results stemming from this word query so a little scrolling is needed.  You can refine the search to narrow the results, but you may be interested in perusing all the “training” hits just to see what’s available.  So take advantage and get a jump start on your safety training and compliance needs.


Is Sitting Good for Your Health?

Allan Brown Posted by Allan Brown

Inactivity (like sitting) has a profound effect on our bodies.  Sitting increases disc pressure by as much as 50% and reduces cardiac output.  It also affects our bodies at the cellular level, changing the production of certain proteins that contribute to our overall wellness. 

Believe it or not, the simple act of getting up and moving around plays a huge role in our overall wellness.  Research done by Marc T. Hamilton, Deborah Hamilton, and Theodore Zderic at the University of Missouri-Columbia, show our bodies are changing because of a decrease in movement throughout the day.  This non-exercise activity (moving around an office) is being greatly reduced in our daily routines because of technology and jobs that involve sitting for an extended period of time.  Our risk of obesity, Type 2 Diabetes, and cardiovascular disease appears to be on the rise because of our sedentary work habits. 

For example, the researchers compared energy expenditure and found brisk walking 5 days/week or running 35 miles/week produced less energy expenditure and fewer muscle contractions than high non-exercise activity, like standing and walking throughout the day.  Structured exercise does contribute to our overall wellness however non exercise activities like walking, standing and moving during daily activities collectively, contribute more to our overall wellness.  The energy expenditure :

  • "Standing workers”: 1400 kcal/day
  • Shop assistants or homemakers:  2300kcal/day
  • Seated workers with limited movement : 700kcal/day. 

So, what can you do?  Get out of that chair and take stretch break.  Take a walk. Move the printer further from your desk. Consider standing for a portion of the workday.  Walk or bike to work.  Leave your office for lunch and take a walk after you eat.  Do not sit down when you go home.  Take a walk, stay upright against gravity, and increase your non-exercise activity. 

According to public health studies, we are awake on average of 16 hours per day.  How much of that day do spend sitting?  Decrease your hours in the chair and stay vertical.  It is okay to sit and lay down, but save it for after a good day of being upright!