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June 2015
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August 2015

July 2015

It's Time To Consider Order Fulfillment Safety

Eric Grant 2014 Posted by Eric Grant, CSP

Believe it or not, on July 29th, 2015 there are only 148 days until Christmas! I apologize for making you think about the upcoming cold winter in the middle of this beautiful summer!

For many businesses, planning is already underway to meet the peak demand of the holiday season. By the end of September, the seasonal work force will be hired and all employees will begin filling customers’ orders. This process is called order fulfillment, and the last stop before shipping is the packing station.

Regardless of the size of your operation, the number of packing stations, or seasonal or regular work forces, this process can be fast paced, high stress, and loaded with ergonomic risk factors. The temptation is to put production ahead of workplace safety. The results of meeting these customer demands and fulfilling orders are often workplace injuries.

For MEMIC policyholders there are resources available within the Safety Director. The document “10 Tips for a Perfect Packing Station” was created to reduce the risk factors associated with packing orders, through engineering design and administrative controls. The tool focuses on the following:

  • Adjustability
  • Lighting
  • Reducing Reaching
  • Material Handling
  • Process Flow
  • Automation
  • Stretch Breaks
  • Continuous Improvement
  • Reference links on ergonomics, tools & equipment

Please review the 10 Tips to a Perfect Packing Station and contact your loss control consultant with any questions. Also available is the Order Fulfillment Webinar, located in the MEMIC Safety Director, under Webinars On Demand, for more information.

6 Steps to Success at Work and at Play

Many employers, including MEMIC, encourage participation in events like the TD Beach to Beacon 10K in Cape Elizabeth, Maine because they see how actively supporting the healthy choices of employees can increase productivity and reduce cost. As the Safety Sponsor of Beach to Beacon, MEMIC has made a list of 6 steps to be safe and successful at work and at play:

1. Make a plan.  What are your goals and how are you going to get there? If you just start running without a plan, chances are you won't get very far. If you need help, ask the experts. Nike has an 8 week training plan for the 10K, MEMIC has 7 steps to a safer workplace.

2. Get support.  800+ volunteers assist almost 6,500 runners to make Beach to Beacon the largest road race in the Pine Tree State. We run better and work harder when we have fans cheering us on.

3. Use the proper equipment.  Dress for success. Footwear is important whether you are jogging down the road, at a construction site or in the office. Road-running, trail-running or cross-training? Pronated, overpronated, supinated? Super cushioned, stability, motion control, barefoot, minimalist? EVA, posts, plates, shanks, TPU? Stop by your local retailer for help in choosing the right running shoes, MEMIC's Tony Jones has tips on choosing the right work shoes.

4. Stay focused.  To do your best you need to be at 100% physically and mentally. Try to be well rested, keep hydrated and be wary of stimulants like coffee that can give you a quick energy boost but can also leave you dehydrated.

5. Prepare for all contingencies.  You have the perfect day mapped out in your head, but what if the day is less than perfect? Are you prepared for sun, wind, rain, slippery surfaces... dogs?

6. Celebrate your victories.  Take the time to celebrate your victories and to recover from a big event. Continue to hydrate, eat well, walk and stretch tight muscles to help the recovery process. Review your progress and set new goals. It's never too early to start planning for the next challenge.

Final Render 1080 HD

OSHA Healthcare Inspections

Rob Sylvester 2013 Posted by Rob Sylvester, CEHT

Did you know OSHA issued a memorandum to its regions on June 25, 2015, providing further inspection guidance for inpatient healthcare settings? Are you prepared? This applies to North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) Major Groups 622 (hospitals) and 623 (nursing and residential care facilities).

OSHA is indicating that regardless of how they may come to inspect a hospital or nursing home they will focus on hazards included in the recently-concluded National Emphasis Program - Nursing and Residential Care Facilities, CPL 03-00-016 (NH-NEP). This can include a scheduled inspection, an employee complaint about another issue, a report of a serious injury, a referral by another agency, or other resources. Those hazards include:

  • Musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) relating to patient or resident handling. BLS data for CY 2013 demonstrates that almost half (44 percent) of all reported injuries within the healthcare industry (NAICS 622 and 623) were attributed to overexertion-related incidents. In comparison, that rate equates to almost one and a half times the total MSD rate (33 percent) for all reported injuries for all industries.
  • Workplace violence (WPV), these industries have four times the rate of incidents compared to other industries. MEMIC policyholders can click here to register for a free webinar entitled “Workplace Violence in Acute Care Settings” at 10:00 a.m. on October 15, 2015.
  • Bloodborne pathogens (BBP), one of the most frequently cited standards in nursing and residential care facilities is 29 CFR 1910.1030, the Bloodborne Pathogens Standard.
  • Tuberculosis (TB), employees working in nursing and residential care facilities have been identified by the CDC as being among the occupational groups with the highest risk for exposure to TB due to the case rate of disease among persons 65 years of age.
  • Slips, trips and falls (STFs). Overexertion together with slips, trips, and falls accounted for 68.6% of all reported cases with days away for CY 2013 in this industry.

In addition to the focus hazards listed above, other hazards that may be encountered in inpatient healthcare settings include, but are not limited to:

  • Exposure to multi-drug resistant organisms (MDROs), such as Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA).
  • Exposures to hazardous chemicals, such as sanitizers, disinfectants, anesthetic gases, and hazardous drugs.

State Plans are expected to follow the guidance provided in this memorandum. State Plans may have an existing State Emphasis Program (SEP), or, similar to OSHA’s Regions, determine that an SEP is warranted after reviewing relevant state data. Additional information regarding inspections can be found on the OSHA website.

The goal of this policy is to significantly reduce overexposures to these hazards through a combination of enforcement, compliance assistance, and outreach.


Confined Spaces in Construction: The "Whole" Story (Cont.)

Stephen Badger 2014 Posted by Stephen Badger, CSP, OSHT

OSHA’s New Confined Space Regulations (Part 3 of 3)

Part 1 of this three-part series on Confined Spaces in Construction identified the existing confined space standard in Construction (29 CFR 1926.21(b) and the newly adopted Final Rule, 29 CFR 1926 Subpart AA, that goes into effect on August 3, 2015. 

Part 2 reviewed a few of the key definitions and concepts related to the new standard.

Part 3 of this series examines some of the key requirements for employers under the new confined space regulations:

  • Before starting work a contractor must have a competent person identify confined spaces in which its employees may work. The competent person must evaluate the hazards of that space and conduct air testing as necessary. In addition, the employer must post warning signs and prevent unauthorized employees from entering those spaces. (29 CFR 1926.1203(a-c).
  • An employer must ensure through a written certification process that it is safe to remove a cover from a confined space and then block the entrance to ensure no one can enter the space before it is deemed safe. The confined space must be tested for oxygen, flammable gases and potential toxic air contaminants. If the air within the space does not meet minimum standards no one can enter the space until it is deemed safe. If a hazard is detected during entry the employer must ensure that employees can exit in a safe manner. (29 CFR 1926.1203(e)(2)(i – ix).
  • Before entering any confined space, the controlling contractor must obtain all information regarding the hazards of that space from the host employer. This information must then be given to each employer that has to enter that space. After completing the entry process, each employer must relay all related information and hazards encountered to the controlling contractor. (1926.1203(h)(1-5).
  • The employer must develop a written confined space program that addresses (but is not limited to) the identification of confined spaces, testing procedures, entry procedures, employee training, and emergency rescue. (29 CFR 1926.1204(a-n)

For more information on confined spaces in construction, MEMIC customers are welcome to attend our free webinar entitled “Confined Spaces: The Whole Story” on August 12, 2015.

Confined Spaces in Construction

Preventing Heat Stress in the Workplace

Tonya-Hawker Posted by Tonya Hawker

It’s summertime, and that means hot temperatures. Employees who work outdoors or inside hot environments are at risk for heat stress illnesses. In fact, it’s not surprising to see many production environments that are not air conditioned, and temperatures can quickly reach dangerous levels. That’s why it is important to protect your employees from the “Hazards of the Heat”.       

Heat stress occurs when the body becomes unable to cool itself. There are many factors that may cause heat-related illnesses. High temperatures during summer months are the most obvious causes of heat stress, but there are other factors that contribute to this condition, including:

  • Low fluid intake by the worker (dehydration)     
  • Direct sun exposure (with no shade) for long periods (i.e. Landscaping/Facilities Maintenance, etc.)
  • Extreme heat from job task (i.e. No A/C in Service Departments, Paint Booths, etc.)
  • Limited air movement
  • Physical exertion
  • Use of bulky protective clothing and equipment
  • Poor physical condition or on-going health problems
  • Some medications 
  • Lack of previous exposure to hot workplaces
  • Excessive alcohol intake the day before
  • Previous heat-related illnesses

Types of Heat Disorders  

Heat-related illnesses often begin with minor symptoms. Heat fatigue is usually the first symptom. Conditions include a decline in performance (particularly physical activity), mental tasks, or tasks requiring concentration. Heat can also increase the risk of other injuries due to sweaty palms losing grip on tools, fogged-up safety glasses limiting visibility, dizziness and balance issues, as well as burns from hot surfaces.

More serious heat disorders include:  Heat Rash, Heat Cramps, Heat Exhaustion, and the deadliest risk is  Heat Stroke. Employees and Supervisors should be trained to recognize these symptoms and administer treatment plans. Here are the guidelines:

Heat Rash is the most common problem resulting from working in heated environments. A heat rash produces blister-like raised bumps on the skin that may itch or be painful to the touch. Treatment includes limiting time in the hot environment, keep the skin dry, and shower promptly after being in the heat.

Heat Cramps are painful muscle spasms that occur in the leg, arm, or abdomen. The cramps occur as a result of extended physical activity in a hot environment. Heat cramps are the first sign of dehydration. The worker should rest and drink water and electrolyte liquids like Gatorade. Eat salty crackers to increase salt in-take. DO NOT use salt tablets.

Heat Exhaustion is a result of the combination of excessive heat and dehydration. This is a serious condition, which left untreated, can lead to heat stroke. Symptoms include headache, nausea, dizziness &/or fainting, weakness, heavy sweating, thirst, moist-clammy skin, elevated body temperature. Employees in this condition should be moved to a cool, shaded area. Cool the worker with water or cold compresses to the head, neck and face. Drink water and electrolyte liquids like Gatorade. If the worker cannot drink or becomes lethargic, call 911. Make sure someone stays with the worker until help arrives.

Heat Stroke is the most serious illness associated with working in heated environments. If left untreated, heat strokes will result in death. Symptoms include hot dry skin (sweating may or may not still be present), red-bluish skin, rapid pulse, confusion, loss of consciousness, seizures/convulsions, very high body temperature. Call 911 immediately. Soak clothing and skin in cool water and use a fan to create air movement. Make sure someone stays with the worker until help arrives.

Preventing Heat Disorders

The best way to prevent heat illness is to make the work environment cooler. If the work environment is not air conditioned, then consider installing portable fans and air chillers. If cooling devices are not available and/or temperatures remain excessive, other measures should be taken to minimize the heat related effects.

Workers who are new to a job in a hot environment, or workers who have been away for more than a week should be acclimatized to the work environment. This means that the worker should start out slow and work up to the physical activities required in the hot environment. NIOSH recommends the following schedule:

  • Employees with no prior exposure to hot environments - start out at 20% exposure per day with a 20% increase in exposure each additional day until full day exposure is reached.
  • Employees with recent prior exposure to hot environments- start out at 50% exposure on day 1, 60% exposure on day 2, 80% exposure on day 3, and 100% exposure on day 4.

Employees should be provided plenty of water and electrolyte liquids when working in hot environments. On average, workers should be encouraged to drink 1 cup of water (or electrolyte liquid) every 15-20 minutes. The use of salt tablets is not recommended, but a small amount of salt with food is encouraged during hot days to replenish the minerals lost from sweating.

Frequent breaks are necessary. Breaks should be provided in areas that are cooler than the work environment. If possible, heavy work should be scheduled during the cooler parts of the day and appropriate protective clothing provided. Consider using shifts and assigning additional workers for work pacing during excessively hot work-shifts. The permissible heat exposure threshold recommended by OSHA will vary depending on the type of work completed and air temperature within the work environment. For more information on specific work/rest restrictions, see the OSHA website. OSHA also provides a mobile device app that can be used to calculate the heat index and includes reminders and protective measures to take based upon the heat index.

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