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November 2014

October 2014

Do You Need Assistance Developing a Workplace Violence Policy for your Healthcare Organization?

Rob Sylvester 2013  Posted by: Rob Sylvester, CEHT

Workplace Violence in healthcare is becoming an epidemic and situations can be difficult to manage for many reasons. It can take place in many forms in the workplace, and when it does, it affects us all.  Before an incident occurs, it is critical that your staff be prepared to recognize and respond to a situation.  An incident can impact the safety of your patients, residents, clients, members and the safety and performance of your employees along with overall operations of your organization.

Workplace violence is any act or threat of physical violence, harassment, intimidation, or other threatening disruptive behavior that occurs at the work site. It ranges from threats and verbal abuse to physical assaults and even homicide. Homicide is currently the fourth-leading cause of fatal occupational injuries in the United States. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (CFOI), of the 4,547 fatal workplace injuries that occurred in the United States in 2010, 506 were workplace homicides. In addition, homicide is the leading cause of death for women in the workplace.

Nearly 2 million American workers report having been victims of workplace violence each year. In 2010, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data reported healthcare and social assistance workers were victims of approximately 11,370 assaults by persons; a greater than 13% increase over the number of such assaults reported in 2009. Almost 19% of these assaults occurred in nursing and residential care facilities alone. Unfortunately, many more incidents go unreported.

For more information on this subject, MEMIC will be providing a free webinar to customers on November 20th from 10-11 a.m.  In this one-hour webinar you will learn how to identify, prevent, prepare for, mitigate, respond to and recover from different forms of workplace violence. In addition, we will review the resources available so you can develop a workplace violence policy and/or procedure for your organization.

To register for this free webinar or to find further information on MEMIC workshops and webinars, please go to www.memic.com.

Resources available include those on our website along with the American Nurses Association and OSHA.

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Holiday Stress Shouldn't Compromise Order Fulfillment Safety

Eric Grant 2014 Posted by: Eric Grant, CSP

A customer placing an order and the processing of that order is the true nature of business!  It is getting very close to Halloween and we all know that Thanksgiving is next.  For many businesses, this realization means the busiest time of the year is right around the corner. Many rely on this "peak" season, generally Thanksgiving Day to December 24th, to generate a large portion of the year’s profits.

On Thursday, October 23, MEMIC will present a webinar that covers the major elements of processing these customer orders. Businesses need to service the customer and deliver on-time, but must do so without suffering workplace injuries.

The webinar will cover best practices and offer suggestions and make recommendations associated with following elements:

  • Seasonal Hiring - The hiring of employees to work for a short duration in physically demanding jobs can create problems for these peak dependent businesses.
  • Customer Service - Call centers can be a busy and stressful environment. The need to consider office ergonomics and respond to pain or discomfort is crucial.
  • Replenishment - Starting at the loading dock, moving into the high bay racking, and ending up on the floor for picking. The handling of cases is critical and a major cause of injuries.
  • Warehousing - Fullness in warehousing creates unsafe conditions and promotes unsafe behaviors. Management of your inventory and proper usage of your space is important.
  • Powered Industrial Trucks - Many pieces of equipment are necessary to handle and manage the volume. Unfortunately, they are heavy and move fast in tight spaces, often in close proximity to pedestrians.
  • Picking - Selection of product to fill individual orders requires miles of walking, material handling, and exposes employees to upper extremity ergonomic risk factors.
  • Packing - Putting all the pieces of the order together accurately while making it look presentable to the customer is a stressful task that carries a high amount of physical demand and injury exposure. Ergonomic risk factors are the leading cause of injury in industry today.

Regardless of the size of your business, many organizations are planning for the 2014 Holiday Season. This requires months of planning and can be a very stressful time for all involved.  Being prepared, focusing on your exposures, and implementing a quality injury prevention program can reduce the impact of this season. It can also go a long way in providing a happy, healthy, and safe holiday season at work and at home!

Please register for the MEMIC webinar available from 10:00–11:00 am EDT on Thursday, October 23, 2014.

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Combustible Dust: Good Housekeeping Practices Could Save Your Business

Luis Pieretti 2014 Posted by: Luis Pieretti, PhD, CIH, CSP

Good housekeeping practices not only help to maintain clean work areas, but in some cases, may prevent potential catastrophes.  In 2008, we were witnesses of the dangers of combustible dust with the explosion at the Imperial Sugar refinery in Georgia where 14 employees were killed and 42 were injured. But this is not a new hazard.  The first recorded combustible dust explosion dates back to December 14, 1785 at a flour warehouse in Italy.  A worker was using a shovel to transfer flour and a lighted lamp to work by.(1)  All the necessary elements for a combustible dust explosion were present:

  • Heat: The lighted lamp and/or possibly electrostatic charges due to the dry season.
  • Fuel: Flour and other agricultural dust/products are  combustible dusts.
  • Dispersion: Flour was likely suspended in the air during the transfer.
  • Confinement: The warehouse structure  confined the cloud of suspended combustible dust. 
  • Oxygen

It’s not just agricultural products/dust that can be classified as combustible dust but also plastic dusts, chemical dusts, metal dusts and carbonaceous dusts.  Recent explosions relating to metal dust occurred in 2010 at a titanium plant in West Virginia killing 3 employees, and in 2011 at a metal powders facility in Tennessee where 5 employees were killed. In 2012, a combustible dust explosion occurred at an ink plant in New Jersey where 7 employees were injured.

As of October 2014, there is no OSHA standard addressing combustible dust, but it is a known occupational hazard in which a compliance officer can cite under Section 5(a)(1) under the OSH Act.  OSHA is, however, developing  a standard. It should be noted that it is at the early stages, still a long way to go before it becomes a law--if it survives the rulemaking process.

The National Fire Protection Association has published a series of standards for the prevention of fire and dust explosions and they can be viewed for free through the association’s website.  The series of standards include: 

  • NFPA 61: Standard for the Prevention of Fires and Explosions in Agricultural and Food Processing Facilities
  • NFPA 484: Standard for Combustible Metals
  • NFPA 654: Standard for the Prevention of Fire and Dust Explosions from the Manufacturing, Processing, and Handling of Combustible Particulate Solids
  • NFPA 655: Standard for Prevention of Sulfur Fires and Explosions
  • NFPA 664: Standard for the Prevention of Fires and Explosions in Wood Processing and Woodworking Facilities

For more information about combustible dust and how it can be identified and controlled, visit the OSHA website or  The US Chemical Safety BoardMEMIC policyholders can watch a webinar on combustible dust at MEMIC Safety DirectorThe US Chemical Safety Board has developed videos detailing the causes of the explosions they have investigated including an educational video entitled, Combustible Dust: An Insidious Hazard:

 

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(1) RK Eckhoff. (2003). Dust explosions in the process industries, Third Edition: Identification, Assessment and Control of Dust Hazards. Burlington, MA: Gulf Professional Publishing.

 

 


Is the Air Safe to Breathe (in Your Workplace)?

Stephen Badger 2014 Posted by Stephen Badger

When ventilation or Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) are used to protect workers from air contaminants, air sampling must be conducted to ensure those workers are not overexposed.  Verifying that controls are adequate is critical.  Air sampling for levels of air contaminants can give an organization concrete evidence and peace of mind, but how should it be done?

It is important to have a strategy for many of the activities that we do each day. Whether grocery shopping, scheduling rides for football and soccer practices – or completing a job safety analysis – having a clear plan of attack is necessary to complete the needed tasks. Air sampling is no different in that an effective strategy can prove employees are properly protected or indicate that greater protective measures are required.

Whether the air sampling is contracted through an outside vendor, or conducted internally, the strategy must consider who will wear the air sampling pumps, where and when the highest concentrations of a contaminant are present, what contaminants will be tested for and why.  Since OSHA’s Permissible Exposure Limits (PELs) are calculated as an 8-hour time-weighted average, air sampling of the entire shift is essential.  When employees work 10-hour days, or longer, the air sampling duration must be increased accordingly, and the PEL calculations are adjusted to account for the increased exposure.

Document work activities and environmental conditions as air sampling should represent the highest concentrations of air contaminants across a full work shift.  Factors to consider are the amount of work being performed, location of both local and general ventilation sources, and proximity to other possible contamination sources. As for how often to conduct sampling, a general “rule of thumb” is to test in the summer when most buildings have a large amount of outside air circulation, and in the winter when outside air circulation is minimized in order to conserve heat.

For more information on this topic sign up for MEMIC’s webinar scheduled for October 16, 2014, by clicking on the following link: Air Sampling Strategies