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February 2012

January 2012

What's On Your Feet This Winter?

 Koch Peter 1  Posted by Peter Koch

In a recent blog, I discussed strategies for slip and fall prevention.  In this article, we will look more closely at avoiding slip fall incidents through footwear choice rather than surface maintenance.

Slips happen when there is too little friction between what’s on your feet and the surface you’re traversing.  That friction is dependent upon the texture and amount of contact of the two surfaces moving across one another as well as the force applied.  Like car tires, your shoes keep you firmly attached to the surface.  There are many different tread types designed for specific surfaces and environmental conditions you may encounter.

 The deeper and more widely spaced the tread pattern, the more loose material (i.e.: gravel or snow) it can accommodate and still contact the stable surface below.  Because there are fewer contact points with the surface this tread pattern isn’t great for hard wet/oily surfaces like tile or concrete.

A deeply scored, but closely spaced tread pattern can readily squeeze out liquids and provide more surface area for contact with the surface underneath.  There is little room for bulky materials in the tread, allowing clogging and limiting friction.

Some manufactures try to combine the two using a moderately deep tread and
varying the size and spacing of the lugs.Shoes 1

Consider the surface you may encounter.  Is it wet or oily concrete or tile, outside on gravel and pavement, or outside in a wintry frozen environment?  Or will you be exposed to multiple surface types?

One type of shoe/boot may not suffice due to exposures.  An alternative to multiple shoes are traction enhancers that can be put on and taken off as the demands of the environment change.  They come in many styles and types from spikes and screw corks to chains and overshoes with media embedded in the soles.

Shoes 2

Here are some links for more information:

Try searching:  “Slip Resistant Footwear”, “Microspikes”, “Yaktrax”, or “Stabilicers

Since we don’t always have control of the condition of the surface we work on our footwear choices play a big part in keeping us upright as we work. 

Don't Become a Snow Blower Statistic

Stanley Rod 2 Posted by Rod Stanley

As the winter settles in, take a MEMIC minute to review some statistics related to snow blower use:

The US Consumer Products Safety Commission (USCPSC) reports that – each year – snow blower operators suffer more than 500 amputations and over 5000 emergency room visits.  The vast majority of these injuries occur while trying to clear snow and ice jams from the collection auger or discharge chute.

The American Society for Surgery of the Hand (ASSH) finds that the average injured individual is a 44-year old male.  The dominant hand is involved 90% of the time, resulting in amputation of finger tips, most commonly the middle one. 

Additional weather related factors , reported by the ASSH, that increase the likelihood of a clogged snow blower include heavy, wet snow, accumulation greater than six inches, and a temperature of 28 degrees, or higher.

The bottom line is – if you operate a snow blower – sooner, or later, it’s going to get clogged; when this occurs take the following action:

  1. Power down the machine.  Shut down gasoline models, and unplug electric.
  2. Never – ever -- use your hand to clear the intake augers or discharge chute.  Use the handle provided with most new snow blowers, stick, ice scraper, or other tool to remove ice and packed snow. 

These two, simple steps will prevent you from becoming a “snow blower statistic.”


Handheld Cell Phones Banned from Commercial Vehicles

Klatt Randy Posted by Randy Klatt

As of January 3, 2012, the use of handheld cellular phones by most commercial vehicle operators is illegal under federal law.  The ban applies to interstate carriers including large trucks and busses.  See the links at the bottom of the page for more information from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).

The law provides for a maximum driver penalty of $2750, and an $11,000 fine for a carrier that allows the use of handheld cell phones by drivers. 

Although the law does not apply to all Commercial Driver’s License holders and still allows the use of hands free devices, the message is clear.  Driving while using a cell phone creates a serious safety hazard and the federal government has responded very aggressively to mitigate this issue.

Employers, who operate a fleet of commercial vehicles, must take the time to review their fleet plan for compliance with the new FMCSA regulations and ensure that drivers are not distracted by the use of cell phones. 

"This final rule represents a giant leap for safety," said FMCSA Administrator Anne S. Ferro. "It's just too dangerous for drivers to use a hand-held cell phone while operating a commercial vehicle. Drivers must keep their eyes on the road, hands on the wheel and head in the game when operating on our roads. Lives are at stake."

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration News Release

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration FAQ


Preventing Slips and Falls

Koch Peter 2 Posted by Peter Koch

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2010 294,620 employees suffered injuries from slips, trips, or falls.  Of these, 221,100 were from falls to the same level or slip or trip events. 

The National Floor Safety Institute or NFSI  reports : 

  • Slips and falls are the leading cause of workers' compensation claims and are the leading cause of occupational injury for people aged 15-24 years.
  • Compensation & medical costs associated with employee slip/fall accidents is approximately $70 billion annually (National Safety Council Injury Facts 2003 edition).

All slips and falls are preventable with a little planning and forethought.  Since we may have little control of the surface we tread upon, slip and trip avoidance depend heavily on YOU.  Your attention to your surroundings, what you have on your feet, and what you’re doing in the moment are all critical.

Consider the following areas when planning for prevention or analyzing a slip/fall event:

1)  The surface,
2)  The awareness or behavior,
3)  The footwear,
4)  The environment.

It is usually awareness/behavior that contributes the most to a slip or fall occurrence, but the best attack on slip and fall hazards is a combined evaluation of these four areas.

The following is a checklist and mnemonic when evaluating slip and fall hazards and developing a plan for preventing them.

  • Condition and lighting of the surface and pathwayBlog photo
  • Condition of the Footwear
  • Surface Encumbrances (obstacles, fluids)
  • Pitch and Condition of Stairs
  • Location and Condition of Handrails
  • Relevance of Pathway
  • Behavior/Condition of the Worker
  • Pace of Work in/around Pathway


This is not necessarily a complete list of areas to evaluate, so don’t limit yourself when trying to develop a plan for prevention or in post incident analysis.

So Take a MEMIC Minute and remember, ALL slip and fall events are PREVENTABLE!

Do Your Employees Work on "Live" Electrical Parts?

Eric Grant Posted by Eric Grant

National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 70E 2009 Updates & 2012 Edition

Few topics in the safety training world generate as much confusion and emotion from trainers and trainees as the arc flash protection requirements of NFPA 70E. I personally have found myself in a room full of engaged participants as they learn the requirements of NFPA 70E, often for the first time.  I remember the "buzz" that was created from the 2009 update.  Safety Professionals were told OSHA would increase inspections/citations regarding NFPA 70E, so the requests for program development, implementation, and training began to rise dramatically. NFPA 70E has seen eight (8) updates since 1979 with the 9th update planned for 2012.

The following is a summary of the Report on Proposals for NFPA 70E.  You can download a copy of this report (244 pages) for free and/or purchase the NFPA Standards by visiting

  • Addition of the word "inspection".  This requires protective measures for inspection duties along with installation, demolition, operations, and maintenance.
  • Arc Rated (AR) will replace the term Flame Resistant (FR).  Not all FR clothing has been tested for electrical arcs.
  • Retraining shall be provided at least every three years.
  • A new section that defines excavation work.
  • Tables that clarify AC & DC systems.
  • Revisions to the current equipment labeling requirements and specific requirements for the labels themselves.
  • Hearing protection requirements.
  • Adding an Arc Flash Boundary to an existing table.
  • Additional PPE requirements (i.e., a sock hood when working in a Hazard/Risk Category 2 area.)

While writing this blog, an internet search produced multiple articles on NFPA 70E, the 2009 update, and the proposed update for the 2012.  For more information about NFPA 70E visit the MEMIC Safety Director at .

Have a great 2012!

Maine Medical Center's Workplace Wellness Program

Dodge John Posted by John Dodge

Tom Dowling, Maine Medical Center’s Director of Lifeline Workplace Wellness Program has announced  that MMC is conducting a webinar version of their Certificate course in the Fundamentals for Worksite Wellness. This is a 6 week certification course designed specifically for employers seeking training for internal staff who have been assigned to coordinate wellness programming.

The new course begins on Tuesday,  January 24, 2012 from 1:00-3:00pm. The registration deadline is Wednesday January 18, 2012.

Please see the attached registration brochure and pricing information.

Download Winter 2012 Registration Form