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August 2013

July 2013

Understanding Dementia and Alzheimer's Disease Webinar Series

Donna Clendenning 2012 Posted by Donna Clendenning

Are you caring for someone with Dementia or Alzheimer’s disease? If you answered yes, then don’t miss MEMIC’s three part webinar series on September 9, 2013. This informative series will be taught by Heather McKay, an occupational therapist and dementia care specialist who among other areas of expertise, provides training for professional and family caregivers related to dementia and Alzheimer’s care.

Part One, the ABCs of Dementia walks the caregiver through brain changes and treatments associated with normal aging, Alzheimer’s disease and other types of dementia. Additionally, the caregiver will learn to recognize behaviors related to dementia conditions as well as learn the seven key components in a positive physical approach to those with dementia.

Part Two, Alzheimer’s Disease & Dementia: Recognizing Changes and Behaviors carries on with discussion on dementia, the disease progression and how to recognize the protective reflex and to discriminate between three types of responses and behaviors. Heather will discuss key reasons why emotional distress is common among people living with dementia.

Part Three, Alzheimer’s Disease & Dementia: Communicating When Words Don’t Work provides caregivers with specific strategies to improve interactions and communication with people who have dementia. This final session includes teaching the use of effective communication to promote function, converse with and manage distress for those living with dementia.

To register, visit MEMIC's Workshop & Webinar Schedule on or contact Christine Collomy at 207-791-3486.

For information regarding additional training offered by Heather McKay, visit her website “Partnerships for Health”. 

A Primer on Working in the Heat

Summer often supplies the best weather to be outdoors. It’s also the busiest time of year for many outdoor industries, from construction to agriculture to hospitality. Though these workplaces are often very pleasant in nice weather, it’s important to recognize that sun and heat exposure can be hazardous without the proper precautions. 
According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), thousands of workers require treatment for heat exposure each year, with some incidences serious enough to cause death.

“Ideally, heat exposure should be limited during the peak midday hours of 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.,” said Randy Klatt, Safety Management Consultant from workers’ compensation insurance specialist MEMIC. “For many workers, though, outdoor tasks are unavoidable in that stretch of time. By taking some simple precautions and staying mindful of your body’s reactions to the temperature, many heat-related sicknesses, like heat stroke, dehydration, and sunburn, can be avoided.”

Keep yourself safe with these five tips to avoid heat stress on the job.

  1. Plan your day accordingly.  Though limiting direct sun is almost always preferable, there are ways to plan your day effectively when exposure is necessary. Schedule more strenuous work in the morning and late afternoon when it’s cooler. If possible, secure a shady spot nearby your work zone to take breaks. Klatt suggests at least a few minutes out of the sun each hour.
  2. Wear the right gear. If such equipment is safe in your workplace environment, try to wear hot-weather friendly clothing. Light colored, breathable fabrics and hats that shade your face and neck will help to keep you comfortable under the sun’s rays. Eye damage is a concern, too – make sure your pair of sunglasses filters at least 90 percent of ultraviolet (UV) rays.
  3. Apply sunscreen early and often. The benefits of regular sunscreen use are well-documented, but studies continue to show that adults often don’t wear enough, if they wear it at all. Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen (protecting against UV-A and UV-B rays) with an SPF of at least 15. Apply liberally 30 minutes before going outside, and every two hours thereafter.
  4. Stay hydrated. The more we sweat, the more important it is to replace the fluids our body has lost. Water is perfectly acceptable for short periods outside, but for longer stretches, you may want to consider replenishing your electrolytes with a sports drink. The Center for Disease Control recommends approximately one cup of water every 15 to 20 minutes. Alcohol (of course), caffeine, and sugary drinks are not recommended, as they tend to dehydrate your body.
  5. Assess how you’re feeling on a regular basis. Take the time to rest in the shade for a few minutes every hour and monitor yourself for signs of overexposure and dehydration. If you’re feeling dizzy, nauseated, or extremely fatigued, it’s likely a sign that your body needs a break from heat exposure. Muscle pain or spasms may indicate dehydration or low salt levels.  Don’t ignore these warning signals. Overextending yourself can be a serious health risk.

In the event of heat-related sickness, sit or lie down in a cool spot as soon as possible. Drink plenty of fluids and loosen or remove any heavy or tight clothing you may have on. The amount of time your body takes to rehydrate varies depending on the severity of your heat exposure, but you may require anywhere from 30 minutes to several hours. Be careful not to rush yourself. In the event of acute heat sickness like heat stroke – often identified with dizziness, slurred speech, and very hot, dry skin, among other symptoms – call 911 or seek emergency medical treatment immediately. These episodes can lead to death.

Working in the summer heat can become a little more bearable with the proper precautions. By remaining responsive to your environment, outfitting yourself with proper equipment, and taking breaks when your body requires them, you can create the groundwork for a productive and safe day in the sun.

Hiring Young Workers and Keeping Them Safe

The Department of Labor estimates that millions of young people under the age of 24 are likely to join the labor force this summer.  Some will find their first part-time job while others will land something more permanent. Young workers are a highly valuable part of the workforce, and can make significant contributions to the health and productivity of their workplaces.

It’s important to remember that young, inexperienced workers are twice as likely to be injured on the job as their more experienced co-workers.  According to the Centers for Disease Control, every year more than 50,000 youth are so badly injured at work that they need emergency medical treatment. And that figure doesn’t include the numerous cuts, bruises, and strains that don’t require a trip to the hospital.

Why are these figures so high? Most experts point to inexperience and a lack of thorough job training. “It’s pretty well established that inexperience can lead to injury,” said Karl Siegfried, Assistant Vice President for Loss Control and Safety from workers’ compensation insurer MEMIC. “Too often young workers want to impress their new boss and try to show that they can do things that they have never done before. That’s where trouble can start. The good news is that there are proven ways to avoid the injuries that can result from inexperience.”

Siegfried said that formal on-the-job training is among the best ways to learn about job hazards as well as the safest methods for accomplishing the work.  Most problems can be addressed by answering a few simple questions for your new employees before they get started:

  1. What are the hazards of their job?   It’s tough to keep yourself safe if you don’t know what you should be keeping yourself safe from. Inexperienced workers will be better able to manage hazards once they fully understand them.
  2. How much job safety training will they have?   Employers are required by law to provide job hazard training that’s easy to follow.  Remember, a more thorough explanation is always worth the extra few minutes.
  3. Will they need to use safety gear, and if so, how?   Employers may also be required by law to provide protective gear at no cost to their employees. Whether that means safety glasses, ear plugs, or something else, make sure you discuss proper procedure. What may seem like common sense to seasoned employees may be intimidating for teens starting their first jobs!
  4.  If they have health and safety concerns, who do they ask?   Whether it’s their supervisor or a designated workplace safety coordinator, it’s critical for new employees to know that there’s someone who can knowledgeably address their concerns. Creating an environment open to questions and conversation can help to mitigate embarrassment or hesitation on the part of inexperienced workers.
  5. What do they do in an emergency?   Be sure to review your workplace’s emergency protocol. Where is the nearest fire exit to their workstation? Do they have a designated meeting spot once they’re out of immediate danger? By holding emergency drills, you can identify any uncertainty about exit protocol.
  6. What do they do if they get hurt at work?   Let young workers know how important it is to report any injury they might sustain in the workplace. Unfamiliarity with the workers compensation process could lead to hazardous and costly delays in reporting.

More than anything, employers should remain mindful of the relative inexperience of young workers, which can be alleviated by thorough training and proper supervision. As your partner in workplace safety, MEMIC is committed to creating a work environment that’s healthy and accessible for every employee, no matter their age or level of experience. With these questions, employers can build a foundation of safety knowledge that helps to reinforce everyday well being.