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October 2015

Famous Movie Quotes, Part Deux!

Klatt Posted by Randy Klatt

In the original post, “Frankly My Dear, I Don’t Give a Damn!” (February 17, 2015) some of the top 100 movie quotes of all time (according to the American Film Institute) were used to illustrate how real life safety issues can relate to Hollywood movie scenes. In the tradition of 21st century film making, this blog series continues. However, it is hoped that this sequel breaks the tradition and that it is as good, or better, than the original!

  • “May the Force be with you.” Star Wars, 1977. A large percentage of workers are required to exert maximum, or near maximum, force to do their job. Material handling is prevalent in industry, but also one of the leading causes of injury. So the next time you must move material think “force” and use a mechanical aid so your back doesn’t absorb all the force! In this case, “may the force be with your hand cart, dolley, or pallet jack.”
  • “Fasten your seat belts. It’s going to be a bumpy night.” All About Eve, 1950. Very good advice anytime workers are driving a vehicle be it a personal car, commercial vehicle, earth moving machine, or a fork truck. Seat belt use in the general public is nearing 90% nationwide, so don’t be part of the small minority who doesn’t recognize the benefits of this important safety system.
  • “E.T., phone home.” E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial, 1982. While cell phones are a valuable communication device in today’s world, even E.T. wouldn’t try to make a call while driving! So, as you buckle up (see above) also make sure you aren’t using electronic devices when your concentration should be directed at safe driving practices! Everyone on the road depends upon it.
  • You can’t handle the truth!” A Few Good Men, 1992. Well, the truth is that workplace injuries are preventable and employees must be held accountable for their actions. The truth is also that injuries hurt everyone; we simply can’t afford them, morally or financially. A successful safety program defines clear expectations of every worker, monitors performance, provides and elicits feedback, and conducts regular employee evaluations. That’s the truth!
  • “You’re gonna need a bigger boat!” Jaws, 1975. There are times when workers really do need a “bigger boat”. Or perhaps it’s a bigger wrench, a larger fork truck, a specialty tool, a better respiratory protection system, or longer ladder. Best practices always include the “right tool for the job”. Often injuries occur because the worker is trying to do the job, but doesn’t have everything needed to do it safely. The result is an injury to a worker who simply wanted to get the job done. Conduct a job hazard analysis to be sure all the right equipment is available.
  • “You’ve got to ask yourself one question: 'Do I feel lucky?' Well, do ya, punk?” Dirty Harry, 1971. The bottom line is that if safety isn’t given the priority it deserves, the only thing preventing an injury is luck. We all have good luck in our lives now and again, but depending upon it to keep us safe on the job just isn’t going to be successful in the long run.

Safety is everyone’s job from the new hire to the CEO. We often hear this, but how often is it really instituted? Does your organization embrace safety as an equal priority with production and quality? If you can’t answer “yes” to this question, then refer to AFI’s Famous Quote #70 from the movie Marathon Man, 1970. “Is it safe?”  

For more information regarding workplace safety see the OSHA publication 3071 “Job Hazard Analysis”.

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Should I Push or Should I Pull?

LarochellePosted by Greg LaRochelle

Oh the clash… should I push or should I pull? If I pull out all the stops will I be pushing the envelope? If I push myself to the limit will I pull a muscle? If I pull my punches will I be a pushover? When it comes to manual material handling, rather than pull my hair out in vexation, I think I’ll push the question over to the experts in the Biodynamics Laboratory at The Ohio State University.

In their published article, Spine loading at different lumbar levels during pushing and pulling, researchers Gregory S. Knapik and William S. Marras studied both compressive and shear forces (anterior-posterior and lateral) at each level of the lumbar spine during pushing and pulling activities. Using a subject population of 10 male and 10 female university students with no history of low back pain, an assessment was conducted on horizontal pushing and pulling exertions at three handle heights (50%, 65%, and 80% of subject stature) and three handle force levels (20%, 30%, and 40% of subject body weight). Employing an electromyography-assisted biomechanical model, each subject wore a lumbar motion monitor while performing controlled pushing and pulling motions to collect the data in order to predict spine loading.

Of significance, the results of the study indicated the following:

  • Compressive forces were greater in pulling compared to pushing throughout the lumbar spine
  • Compressive forces were lowest for both pushing and pulling at the medium (65% of stature) handle height and greatest for pushing at the low handle height (50% of stature) while greatest at the high handle level (85% of stature) when pulling
  • Anterior-posterior (A/P) shear forces were greatest for pushing as compared to pulling along the lumbar spine except at L5/S1 where they were roughly the same
  • A/P shear forces were greatest at the upper lumbar levels when pushing at a handle height of 50% and pulling at 80% of stature

While pushing is generally preferred over pulling, the authors state in the article’s discussion section that “Collectively, these analyses suggest that pushing and pulling activities are not as intuitive as once thought and the risk to the low back occurs at lumbar levels that have been previously underappreciated.”

I guess I’ll push on and pull back only when needed.

Check out the Ergonomics section of the MEMIC Safety Director for a streaming video and booklet on back injury prevention.

Reference: Knapik, Gregory G. and Marras, William S. (2009) ‘Spine loading at different lumbar levels during pushing and pulling’, Ergonomics, 52: 1, 60-70


Oh, Deer, It's The Rut Season Again!

Deroia Posted by John DeRoia, OHST

Deer breeding season is once again upon us. This is a time when we typically see deer on the move. This is a dangerous time for drivers. According to the Insurance Information Institute, 1.6 million deer-vehicle collisions occur each year, with November accounting for the most collisions!

Here are a few fall driving tips to help you avoid a collision:

  • If you see a deer crossing the road, more than likely there will be several more, watch for the rest of the pack.
  • Deer are typically most active from dusk till dawn.
  • Pay attention to the amber caution signs. They are placed intentionally where the wildlife activity is the highest.
  • If you have the option, stay in the center lane on a multi lane road. This will give you a little extra time to spot deer crossing from either road side.
  • If you see deer crossing the road, drive straight and brake firmly. There is no telling if the deer will turn and run back or continue on their path. If you try to swerve you are putting yourself at a higher risk for a potential crash, either off the road or into another car.
  • As always, wear your seatbelts!
  • If you do come into contact with a deer pull over to the side of the road with your flashers on as soon as it is safe to do so.
  • Remain in your vehicle and call emergency services. Let the professionals move the deer from the road.
  • Do not exit your vehicle to go check on a deer that has been hit. You are putting yourself at risk of being hit by a passing vehicle. You are also at risk of being attacked by a wounded animal.

For further information regarding deer collision avoidance, check out these resources from the Maine DOT, the New York DOT, and the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries. Drive safely this fall and enjoy the foliage!

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Ask the Doctor: Does the type of food you eat make it harder or easier to lose weight?

Dr. C Posted by Larry Catlett, MD, Occupational Medical Consulting

Q: Does the type of food you eat make it harder or easier to lose weight?

A: For years we have said “calories in” must be less than “calories out” (burned) if you are to lose weight. Although this is a tried and true axiom there may be some caveats to it we heretofore have not understood.

A recent study (not yet completely peer reviewed) from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln suggests that the same number of calories eaten from a more plant based diet may actually allow you to lose weight without giving up a single calorie. Animal based diets (more beef and dairy products) seem to go farther with the same number of calories in increasing your BMI than plant based diets; for example, the Mediterranean Diet that stresses fruits vegetables and seafood.

The researchers noted the average BMI’s of several countries including Greece, France, Finland and Japan and noted the United States with its primarily animal based diet was the “heaviest country” overall. The study suggests that we could eat the same number of calories from different foods and lose weight! That would be great!

However, there may be other factors like physical activity or eating habit differences that may confuse the issue. The results of this study need to be duplicated elsewhere to verify the findings.

We know that the plant based diets are in general much healthier for us than an animal based diet. Think about switching for the multiple benefits plant based diets provide and who knows, maybe you will shave a couple of points off your BMI without cutting calories at all!

Stay Well!

Preventing Eye Injuries - On and Off the Job

ClendenningPosted by Donna Clendenning, CEES, CSPHP

The American Academy of Ophthalmology has designated October as Eye Injury Prevention Month. Did you know that nearly half of all eye injuries occur in and around the home?

Eye injuries are extremely debilitating regardless of how they occur. You could be working on the job or mowing the lawn on a Sunday afternoon. Here are just a few eye injury risks at home that call for eye protection:

  • Spraying window cleaner or any cleaning chemical or applying lawn pesticide
  • Mowing the lawn, clipping bushes, cutting tree limbs
  • Using any power tool to cut, grind, or drill
  • Opening bottles under pressure
  • Dusting/wiping down objects or sweeping large areas
  • Hooking bungee cords

Many of these hazards occur on the job in all industries as noted below:

Workplace eye injuries send 300,000 Americans to the ER each year.  These numbers are staggering in the face of a monumental amount of eye and face protection on the market today. A five dollar pair of safety glasses would prevent a huge percentage of eye injuries that occur. While employers are required to provide employees with the appropriate PPE needed for the job, we should do the same for ourselves and loved ones when performing even ordinary tasks at home – once an eye injury has happened all the "should haves" in the world won’t change the end result.

Take a little bit of extra time and pre-plan what eye and/or face protection you might need for the task at hand-on and off the job. For additional eye injury and protection information check out resources from OSHA, The Centers for Disease Control, and the U.S. Department of Labor.

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Compressed Gas Cylinder Handling

Alexis Westin 1 Posted by Alexis Westin, MS, OHST

Compressed gas cylinders are used across many different industries ranging from restaurants, medical, and in industrial settings. While different gases have different properties, they have similar hazards regarding identification and handling.Compressed Gas 1

Identification: Compressed gas cylinders should only be identified by their labels and NOT by the color of the cylinder. In 2012, the OSHA Hazard Communication Standard (HCS) was updated to adopt the U.N. Globally Harmonized System (GHS) for classification and labeling of chemicals. GHS compliant labels will have one or two pictograms indicating the type of hazards the type of gas present. The most common type of hazards are flammable, inert, and oxidizer gases. Flammable gases and oxidizers must be separated by 20’ or a 5’ high ½ hour burn wall. All labels will have the hazard pictogram in the center of the label with the gas type written to the left.

Cylinder Handling: When handling cylinders there are several good practices to implement to prevent injuries. When moving a compressed gas cylinder, always use a suitable hand cart and secure the cylinder to the cart prior to movement. If a cylinder begins to slip out-of-control, do NOT try to catch it; this is a primary cause of injury. When a cylinder is properly capped, it is very unlikely that the valve will be sheared off during a fall. Another common injury occurs when employees try to lift a cylinder by the cap. Cylinder caps are not engineered to hold the weight of a cylinder. As the cylinder cap threads wear down it is possible for the cap to be pulled off leading to injury.

Cylinder Storage: All compressed gas cylinders in service or in storage should be secured by chain or strap to prevent falling or rolling. At gas suppliers’ facilities and distributors’ warehouses, the ‘nesting’ of cylinders is considered an equivalent safe manner of storage. Nesting compressed gas cylinders is defined as each cylinder having three points of contact with either a wall or other gas cylinders.

Examples of cylinder nesting:

Compressed Gas 2

Compressed Gas 3
As with all work places, it is important to have a clean environment when working with compressed gases. While common cylinders can weigh as little as 5lbs and as much as 200lbs, they all pose a hazard and should be treated with equal respect. Regardless of size, compressed gas cylinders contain 2,000psi – 2,200psi. When working with compressed gas cylinders remember to keep the areas clean, fix loose rugs and uneven flooring, and clean up water, oil, or other liquid spills. Certain types of gases also have specific hazards. If working with carbon dioxide, it is recommended that a CO2 alarm be installed due to the potential oxygen displacement. As always, if you have questions, the manufacturer of the compressed gas is listed on the label can be used a resource to learn more about the specific hazards of any compressed gas cylinder. More information can also be found at the Compressed Gas Association website.


Pillow Talk

  Koch Posted by Peter Koch

Are you a folder, squisher, pusher, puncher, or squeezer?

Of the many different tasks a housekeeper must do during the day, getting the pillow into its case can be overlooked. The end result is always discussed: how the ends are tucked, is it fluffed, is it covered, and even the location on the bed. However, how the pillow gets into the case can be minimalized in the overall room servicing process. To evaluate the performance expectations when encasing a pillow, consider safety, quality, and productivity. Or sanitation and injury prevention, first impression impact, and time.

One common way to encase a pillow is using 2 hands and a chin. Holding the end of the pillow squeezed between the chin and chest, while sliding the case up and around the pillow with both hands. While this method is relatively fast and helps to keep the case wrinkle free, it is considered unsanitary and places undue stress on the neck and shoulders. This process often ends with the housekeeper holding the case with the pillow inside and “shaking” or “snapping” the pillow down into the corners, which adds stress to the shoulders and wrists.

Another method is to grasp the pillow in one hand and the case in the other, then push the pillow into the case while pulling the case onto the pillow. Depending on the size of the pillow and case, this can often means pulling the pillow or case up to the housekeeper’s arm pit. This can also be unsanitary and cause repeated stress on the shoulders, elbows and wrist.

Yet one more method is to grasp the pillow near the end and slide it into the case without folding or bending. While a sanitary, safe, and quick way to encase a pillow, pillows that are new or overstuffed will cause frustration and add time to smooth out the wrinkles.

There are 2 recommended methods that address all three performance considerations.

First is the squeeze, slide and shake method. Squeeze the pillow down on the bed like an accordion. Then hold the side seams of the case and pull it down around the pillow. Once the case is around the pillow, invert the case, still holding the side seams, and shake gently to set the pillow into the case corners. This method is quick and sanitary, but can have a tendency to wrinkle the case and cause stress to the wrists while setting the pillow.

Pillow 2The second and preferred method which works for just about any pillow regardless of age and size, is the fold and slide. First fold the pillow in half down its length. Then, while holding the case open on the bed, slide the folded pillow into the case with the other hand in one smooth movement. When the pillow is released, it will open into the case and, if needed, the corners can be set with a light shake or by reaching into the case. With practice, a housekeeper can become proficient. This method address safety, quality, and productivity by eliminating contact with the chin or armpit, keeping the case from wrinkling, relieving stress on the neck and shoulders, and allowing the housekeeper to switch hands.

While neither method is perfect, both provide the housekeeper with ways to meet or exceed daily performance expectations for quality, safety, and productivity.