General Safety

Gravity Has A Hold On You

BerthiaumePosted by Richard Berthiaume

Fall-related construction worker fatalities are on the rise despite focused inspections and training, increasing 36% from 2011 to 2015 according to the Center for Construction Research and Training (CPWR). This increase outpaced an increase in construction employment and total industry fatalities.

Employment in the construction industry climbed to 10.3 million workers in 2016, a 16% increase from 2012 states CPWR. Meanwhile, the construction industry experienced a 26% increase in overall fatalities from 2011 to 2015. A total of 367 construction workers suffered fatal falls in 2015.

Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics includes other findings: 

  • 55% of fatal falls came from heights of 20 feet or less.
  • 33% of fatal falls involved falls from roofs; 24% involved ladders; scaffolds and staging accounted for 15%.
  • Roofers had the fourth highest fatality rate of all civilian occupations in 2015.

Richard Blog

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) states falls are the leading cause of death among construction workers, accounting for 37% of deaths in the industry.

Fall prevention and fall protection strategies are commonplace today, but clearly not every employer is compliant with federal OSHA standards or industry best practices.  Requiring employees to be protected 100% of the time should be the rule, not the exception. 

The statistics are staggering and emphasize the need to reduce falls and the importance of ongoing safety awareness training in the construction workforce.  The need for production should never outweigh the need to stay safe on the job site.

Check out these additional resources from Stopconstructionfalls.com, the OSHA Construction eTool, and The Center for Construction Research and Training

 

 


Ladder Safety

Hawker Posted by Tonya Hawker


Falls from ladders are a leading cause of workplace fatalities in the United States.  According to the Centers for Disease Control statistics published in 2014, 43% of fatal falls in the last decade involved ladders.  Additionally, ladder use contributed to 20% of non-fatal injuries among the nation’s workers.  It’s not surprising to learn that the leading occupation impacted by ladder falls is construction.  However, the industry following close behind is “Installation, Maintenance and Repair” operations. 

Nearly every business in America includes some level of “Installation, Maintenance or Repair” activity in order to ensure productive and efficient processes.  Whether your industry is Healthcare, Hospitality, Manufacturing, or Construction--- Everyone uses ladders! 

To prevent ladder use injuries, employers should consider the following safe-use practices:

Ladder Condition

Inspect the ladder before each use and include ladders in general site safety inspection routines.  Any damaged ladders should be tagged and removed from service immediately.

  • Are all rungs and steps intact and in good condition?
  • Are steps clean and free of grease/oil?
  • Are support braces, rivets, bolts, and screws in place and secured?
  • Are sharp edges or splinters removed?
  • Are ropes on extension ladders in good condition (no fraying)?
  • Are spreaders and other locking devices in good condition and adequately secured?
  • Are safety feet in place?

Ladder Selection

Ladders come in all shapes and sizes, and different work environments require certain ladder types.  Choose the right ladder for the job! 

Ladder Length

  • Use stepladders for heights up to 20 feet.
  • Use one-section ladders for heights up to 30 feet.
  • Use an extension ladder for heights up to 60 feet. (sections must have overlap)

Ladder Rating- ratings are based on weight capacity (worker + equipment)

  • Type IAA (Extra Heavy Duty) = 375 lbs
  • Type IA (Extra Heavy Duty)= 300 lbs
  • Type I (Heavy Duty)= 250 lbs
  • Type II (Medium Duty)= 225 lbs
  • Type III (Light Duty)= 200 lbs (not recommended)
  • Label must always be attached to ladder

Environment

  • Don’t use a metal ladder near live electric wires or in corrosive environments.
  • Place the ladder on firm level surface.
  • Keep area surrounding ladder clear of trash, debris, tools, equipment.

Ladder Set-up

  • Extend a straight ladder three feet above the top support.
  • Anchor the top of the ladder to prevent displacement.
  • Secure the ladder footing or have someone hold the ladder secure.
  • Don’t rest a ladder on a window or in a door way.
  • Angle straight ladders at a 4:1 slope (distance from bottom to wall= ¼ the ladder’s working length)
  • Position an extension ladder before extending it.
  • Never use a step ladder (self-supporting ladder) as a straight ladder. Always fully open a step ladder.

Ladder Usage

  • DON’T stand on boxes, chairs or anything else. If you don’t have a ladder, get one.
  • Wear clean, slip resistant shoes.
  • Only allow one person on ladder at a time.
  • Always face ladder when climbing up or down.
  • Always keep three points of contact with the ladder.
  • Carry tools up on a rope or use a tool belt (don’t carry tools in your hands).
  • Never use multiple ladders at the same time, or in conjunction with each other.
  • Keep your body centered on the ladder (keep belt buckle between side rails).
  • Don’t move a ladder while standing on it.

Ladder injuries are preventable.  Human error is the leading cause of ladder injuries.  If you plan ahead, use the right ladder for the job, and train workers to use ladders safely these injuries can be prevented.  For more information on ladder safety, check out these resources from OSHA, Washington State DOL Ladder Safety Guide, Ask This Old House, and the NIOSH Ladder Safety App

  Ladder safety


It’s Road Construction Season Once Again

KlattPosted by Randy Klatt, WCP®

While many areas of the country experience road construction year-round, summer generally means an uptick in highway projects.  Summer also brings an increase in traffic as people head out on vacations.  This is especially true this year with the lowest July gas prices since 2005.  Combined increases in both traffic and construction poses obvious challenges for both motorists and construction crews.

Kids Safety

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 2,054 workplace fatalities in 2015 involving transportation (42% of all workplace fatalities in 2015).  Roadway incidents involving motor vehicles and pedestrians struck by vehicles accounted for 1,553 of those fatalities, and 130 of those fatalities occurred at road construction sites.  Total fatalities in work zones, including pedestrians and motorists not at work, totaled 700.  Needless to say, more focus is needed in an industry where workers on foot are intentionally placed in close proximity to moving traffic.

6a00e553697a6a883401b7c90769f3970bSource:  https://www.workzonesafety.org/files/documents/crash_data/Alliance_roadway_fatalities_graphic.pdf

Each year speeding is found to be the most common cause of traffic crashes.  Since nearly half of roadway fatalities result from employees being struck by moving vehicles a reasonable recommendation is to slow down!   Highway work zones often have reduced speed limits posted, and many states double the fine amount for exceeding those limits.  Motorists must be more vigilant when approaching construction sites.  Expect workers and heavy equipment to be moving around the site frequently and adjust speed accordingly.  Driving more conservatively will get you to your destination, and avoid the frustration and increased risk of a crash that comes with driving faster.  By the way, it will also save money in fuel and car

Following flagging personnel direction is also critical for everyone’s safety.  Flaggers have an important role and distracted or impatient motorists make the job much more difficult and hazardous.  Look for these workers along the roadway and expect stop and go traffic.  Leave a safe following distance between vehicles and avoid other distractions. 

Employers should be setting up work zones in accordance with the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) and any applicable state supplements, or state MUTCD publications as applicable.  Ensuring flaggers are properly trained and equipped is also vital to safe operations.  Flaggers should never assume that motorists see them.  In fact, flaggers should assume that passing motorists don’t see them.  Stay out of the traffic lane and always be alert for oncoming traffic and never turn your back to oncoming vehicles.    

More information can be found from OSHA on their Highway Work Zones and Signs, Signals, and Barricades webpage, the National Work Zone Safety Information Clearinghouse, the Federal Highway Administration, and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH).  By working together this summer we can all enjoy the great outdoors and family vacations, and keep our road workers safe as they build and maintain our roadways.  Take your time, be courteous and patient, drive sober and well rested, and we’ll all Arrive Alive.

 

 


When Anger Erupts (Violence in the Workplace)

LarochellePosted by Greg LaRochelle, WCP

Any act in which one person seeks to hurt or intimidate another through the use of physical contact, verbal harassment, or manipulation, can be defined as workplace violence and is a risk common to all employers.  Violence in any form is always offensive and in the extreme is tragic and costly.  According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, nearly five percent of 7.1 million private businesses experienced an incident of workplace violence in the previous year.  The National Safe Workplace Institute reports that each act of workplace violence costs $250,000 on average, factoring in legal expenses, lost work time, and decreased productivity associated with a decline in employee morale.  Nationally, this adds up to an estimated annual cost exceeding a billion dollars and includes increased costs for workers’ compensation insurance.   

Employers also face legal liability with OSHA’s General Duty Clause that states that each employer shall furnish a place of employment free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm to employees.  OSHA’s website contains a workplace violence overview section with information on risk factors, prevention programs, training resources, and enforcement letters of interpretation.  Employers need to address the threat of workplace violence through the following measures.  

Establish a Workplace Violence Policy – Incorporate a workplace violence policy in an employee handbook which defines violence and states that all concerns will be investigated with appropriate action taken (up to and including dismissal).  An acknowledgement form should be used for employee signature attesting they have reviewed, understand, and will comply with the policy.

Applicant Screening – The application process should include contact with all listed references on the application form, an extensive interview, and a criminal background and motor vehicle record check.  A zero-tolerance stance on workplace violence should be reiterated upon hire. 

Employee Education – Provide awareness training on workplace violence with an emphasis on the early reporting of potential concerns of violence.  Involve all employees and hold managers and supervisors responsible for instructing their assigned employees on reporting procedures and emergency response. The MEMIC Safety Director contains a wide array of training resources on violence in the workplace.

Employee Counseling – Establish an Employee Assistance Program for employee access to qualified professionals trained to provide support, assistance, and resolution in a confidential manner. 

Enhance Security – Install video surveillance equipment, provide ID badges to employees, have all visitors sign in and out of the building, discourage employees from working alone, and ensure parking lot lighting is adequate.

Response Planning – Establish a plan for emergency response in the event of an escalating situation or actual incident and review the plan with employees at least annually.

Program Evaluation – Conduct an evaluation of any incident response for improvement opportunity including the threat assessment protocol and methods of communication to local and state authorities.

Take prudent action now to reduce the danger of anger erupting in your workplace so no one is left saying, “If only I had done something sooner!” 

 


Caregivers: First Do No Harm To Yourselves

WrightPosted by Laurette Wright, RN, MPH, COHN-S, CSPHP

Caregivers often put the needs of others before their own regardless of what exposures they may face while doing their nurturing tasks. One of the most important tips to give both informal and professional caregivers is to ensure that THEIR SAFETY COMES FIRST so they can support their residents, patients, and loved ones.   

When you fly on an airplane, the flight attendant instructs everyone to put on your oxygen mask first before you assist others. If caregivers don’t take care of themselves first, they may experience work related injuries and illnesses.  These can contribute to lost work days, reduced income, physical limitations impacting their family and work life, or job dissatisfaction.  Without being able to function as caregivers, who will be around to provide the nurturing support they desire for their care recipients?

If there’s any doubt about the injury potential in the health care industry, just take a look at the U.S. Department of Labor 2015 statistics below.  Over 20% of all recordable injuries in the private sector occurred in health care (more than any industry at over 562,000), and the 4.0 incident rate is near the top of all industries.

Hc chart

While healthcare workers, regardless of their setting, are exposed to numerous risks, caregivers in home environments face heightened challenges as a result of uncontrolled and non-regulated conditions.  Home health caregiver exposures can include poorly designed bathrooms, non-adjustable furniture/beds, slippery walkways that aren’t maintained, unsanitary conditions, dangerous pets, motor vehicle dangers, exposure to poor air quality, and the threat of violence. Another big concern for caregivers working in home care environments is the lack of staff support. Often home care assistance is provided by one caregiver, therefore in the event of a conflict or emergency, there is no one else to help.

It is important that caregivers ensure they have the right tools, devices, and equipment to support the needs of themselves and their care recipients in a safe and healthful manner. For professional caregivers working with an employer, reach out to that employer for the proper equipment and education on how to safely perform the tasks at hand.  For informal caregivers taking care of loved ones, resources such as durable medical equipment suppliers, trusted internet sources, and local social assistance agencies may be able to provide the support necessary to ensure a safer working environment. If you find yourself in a situation where you feel alone, unprepared or in over your head, you must ask for help. There are no short-cuts to ensuring a safe and healthful environment for care givers and recipients. Caregivers working more safely is a win-win for themselves and their patients/residents/loved ones.

Find more information on the top risks caregivers and healthcare workers are exposed to in the MEMIC Safety Director or the MEMIC Safety Net Blog, like slips, trips, and falls; lifting and moving patients/residents/loved ones; and agitated or combative patients/residents/loved ones.   

Additional resources are available from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).  

 

 

 


OSHA Delays Online Injury Reporting Rule

DarnleyPosted by David Darnley, MS, CHSP

On May 17, OSHA announced that employers will not have to electronically file injury and illness information by July 1, as the rule had stated. As of the date of this announcement, OSHA still had not opened the online portal for employers to file their injury data from the previous calendar year.  OSHA did not offer a reason for the postponement and has delayed other standards this year including a standard on beryllium and a standard on silica dust which our Manager of Industrial Hygiene, Luis Pieretti, has written about. 

The rule is currently being challenged in federal court by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, among others. Several unions and worker advocacy groups, including the AFL-CIO and the American Public Health Association, have asked to intervene and defend the rule, as reported by Bruce Rolfsen, Occupational Safety & Health Reporter, Bloomberg BNA.

For more information on all aspects of OSHA injury reporting and regular updates to the new electronic submission rule, check out OSHA’s electronic recordkeeping webpage.  MEMIC policyholders can view in the Safety Director a webinar I presented earlier this year titled OSHA & Healthcare Update 2017 which features information on OSHA’s new Online Injury Reporting RuleYou can also review the details of the proposed rule on OSHA’s site or Adam Levesque’s February post on the electronic recordkeeping rule.


Safe Golf Cart Operations

HawkerPosted by Tonya Hawker

Golf carts have become quite a popular commodity these days, and not just for playing golf.  In fact, golf carts are used not only in country clubs, but also on automotive dealership lots, large manufacturing facilities, and even between buildings on large properties like schools, hospitals, hotels, and entertainment venues.  So yes, golf carts have become a fast, cheap, maintenance free way to get around a large foot-print.  However, driving a small, silent vehicle around a bustling facility can also present significant hazards.  A quick search of the OSHA website revealed over 120 incidents resulting in citations, injuries, and fatalities related to golf cart use.

 

Golf CArt

Here are a few hints to help reduce this exposure…

  • Controlled Access: Allow only specific employees to access or use the vehicle.  Controlling access can limit horseplay and unnecessary use.
  • Safety Rules: Require users to read and sign a copy of the company’s safety rules for the vehicle.
  • Identification: Assign a designated traffic route for use by the golf cart that doesn’t interfere with pedestrian or other vehicular traffic.  Consider highlighting the traffic patterns with marking paint to inform others of the traffic routine.
  • Enforcement: Administer strict disciplinary action for improper use or behavior by revoking privileges or terminating employment.  Safety compliance is critical!
  • Battery Charging: Charging should only be done in areas designed for that purpose. The area should be well ventilated and have spill response materials available to clean-up electrolyte spills.  Charging devices should be equipped with automatic shut-off devices.

Also consider clearly posting golf cart operating rules on all carts and don’t forget about training.  Golf Cart Operating Rules should be reviewed with designated drivers at hire and annual refresher training completed to reinforce the expected behaviors.  See sample rules below:

 

Golf Cart Safety Rules

  • Golf carts should be operated on clearly identified paths or perimeter roadways. Sidewalks should be used only where roadways &/or parking lots are not available, and then, only to the nearest adjacent street or parking lot.
  • Keys to unused golf carts should be controlled to prevent unauthorized use.
  • When operating the cart, always stay to the far right side of the lane to allow other vehicles to pass.
  • Always obey traffic rules and regulations.
  • Use extreme caution near building entrances. Park the vehicle away from doors, walkways, or covered areas.
  • Golf carts should be operated at a safe speed. The speed should be no faster than a well-paced walk.  Speed may also be subject to terrain, weather conditions, and total weight of the golf cart… So be cautious of your environment.
  • All occupants MUST keep hands, arms, legs, and feet inside the golf cart while it is moving.
  • No golf carts should be operated with more passengers than the seating provides. All passengers MUST be seated while cart is in motion.
  • Never back up without making sure there are no people or obstructions blocking the travel route.
  • Pedestrians always have the “right of way”.
  • Approach sharp or blind corners with caution and reduce speed.
  • NEVER operate golf cart on steep hills or severely sloped terrain. Stay on flat areas.
  • Never leave keys in a golf cart unattended.
  • When the golf cart is not in motion, the control lever should be placed in PARK (or neutral position) with the PARKING BRAKE SET. Then remove the key.

 

 

Additional information can be found at Golf Cart Safety.com, and from EHS Daily Advisor


 


Bunk Beds De-bunked!

KochPosted by Peter Koch

Housekeepers unite! It’s time we de-bunked. While bunk beds are common in many segments of the hospitality industry and serve to increase the occupancy of a room, they can be a real pain in a housekeeper’s day.  This becomes even more important as summer camps open and more bunk beds are in use.  Ask any housekeeper, “Which would you rather do, clean a bathroom or make up a bunk bed?”  Inevitably, they will choose bathroom duty. 

Bunk beds come in many shapes and sizes, but all have the same basic hazards:

These exposures increase the force it takes to do the same tasks as a regular bed, no matter the size.  Using proper technique as allowed by the bed configuration, lifting the edge of a twin mattress on a top bunk can put more strain on the shoulder and back than lifting the edge of a king mattress on a bed positioned at the housekeepers waist.  Pic 1 5 19

While there are no national statistics on bunk bed injuries among housekeeping staff, their design alone places limitations on the controls that can be implemented.  The best practice is transitioning to a “no bunk bed environment”.  However, this is usually beyond the scope of most housekeeping teams, so here are a few quick tips to tame bunk bed tasks:

  • Create space
    1. Move the bunk away from the wall so the team can work on both sides of the bed.
    2. No Bunk Monkeys - Assigning the smallest person to climb to the top bunk and do the work that can’t be reached from the open side is a widely used practice. However, this brings on its own set of exposures and is not recommended.

Pic 2 5 19

  • Work as a team
    1. Two housekeepers are recommended to tackle the bunk bed tasks. Working together they can share the load and reduce the forces required.
  • Remove the rails or work between them
    1. If the bunk has removable rails, take them down. This will allow the team to work without having to reach over it.
    2. If the rails can’t be removed, work between or under them when possible. This will also limit awkward postures.

Pic 3 5 19

  • Consider custom tools
    1. Using a pole or board placed under the mattress and between the rails can provide needed space and limit the length of time the mattress must be held manually.
  • Change positions to reduce sustained awkward postures
    1. Stand up to position the bedding.
    2. Kneel to spread, smooth and tuck.

Pic 4 5 19

 


Keep Lifts Between the Knees and Shoulders

BrownPosted by Allan Brown, PT 

How did this lifting range come into existence?  Some might say experience and logic got us here.  Actually, this guideline was developed through historical research done by the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) using mechanical models and understanding the mechanism of injury. 

The NIOSH lifting equation is used to predict the risk of injury based on the weight being lifted.  The equation uses a load constant of 51 pounds.  This was the starting load that 99% of male and 75% of female workers could handle safely in perfect conditions.  However, perfect conditions don’t exist in our manufacturing and manual lifting worlds. 

The equation accounts for these imperfections (such as reaching and vertical distance) and chisels away at the 51 pounds as risks increase.  Once all considerations are accounted for the final recommended weight limit is calculated.  This is often something less than 51 pounds.  The healthcare industries as well as some manufacturers are starting to use 35 pounds as a standard. It’s a basic recommendation that doesn’t account for all risks when lifting. 

Why knee and shoulder height? 

At shoulder height the dynamics and forces around the shoulder change and become poorer and weaker.  According to a review of literature by Rhode and Rhode titled Occupational Risk Factors of Shoulder Tendon Disorders 2015, when lifting an object to above shoulder height the core and stabilizer muscles become less efficient so we change our body mechanics and the risk of shoulder injury increases dramatically. 

Pic - Blog

The graphic above illustrates safe lift zones and appropriate weights in those zones.  The green area is the best zone often referred to as the power zone.  The red zone is the no lift zone and is appropriately above shoulder and below knee height.  Additionally, the further a worker reaches from the body the lesser the weight safely handled (yellow zone). You can see why 35 pounds became the healthcare industry standard and a good recommendation for all lifting environments.

At the lower end of a lift, moving below the knee increases the risk and exposure to the back, especially for the lumbar region.  Research completed by Al Nachemson  illustrated the changes in disc pressure with different activities.    Lifting activities greatly increase the disc pressure.  Better body mechanics reduces the force and keeping the load off the floor in an upright position reduces the force further. 

Here’s a fact that will make you pause before you lift from the floor. Bending at the waist and reaching to the floor with no weight in the hands increases the pressure in the lumbar disc to approximately 1000 inch pounds. 

NIOSH recommends limiting lumbar disc pressure to no greater than 770 inch pounds.  Forces beyond 770 inch pounds begin to physically change the health of the disc.  Lifting properly can reduce the force, but proper technique is a skill rarely mastered or used by people in a dynamic work environment.  

Through these studies we know the safest lift range is between standing knee and shoulder height.  This is a basic guideline not taking into consideration reaches and twists away from the body as well as coupling (grip).  Work environments outside these ranges increase the risks of shoulder and back injuries. 

Here are a few simple considerations:

  • Keep lifts between knee and shoulder height.
  • Limit weight to 35 pounds and consider lift assist devices such as vacuum lifts for greater loads.
  • Avoid placing work on the floor. Double up pallets to raise load platform.
  • Consider dynamic pallet lifts to keep the load in the best position.
  • Anything lifted manually over 35 pounds should be a two person lift.

 

 

 


Hand in Glove (Suitably Protected)

LarochellePosted by Greg LaRochelle, WCP

Soon in northern climes with the arrival of spring and the greening of the outdoors, we’ll be outside digging in the dirt starting our vegetable and flower gardens, pruning shrubs, cleaning up yard debris, and mowing the lawn.  To accomplish this, hand and power tools made of steel with honed edges, pointed ends, and sharp teeth will be used.  We’ll be spreading lime and fertilizer for a lush green landscape and maybe even applying herbicides and insecticides to control unwanted guests, orchestrating all of this with the use of our dexterous hands.  So it stands to reason, we should protect our “paws” and nimble fingers against cuts, chemical exposure, and the chance of infection from bacteria-laden earth.    

The obvious safeguard is to don a pair of gloves; but the selection of the right glove for the job is less apparent when you consider all the hazards (at hand).  This is the same perplexing issue many employers are faced with when conducting a personal protective equipment (PPE) assessment specific for hand protection.  The appropriate glove for protection against sharp tools may be an all-purpose leather glove or one made of cut-resistant Kevlar but the answer is less clear for safeguarding against chemical use. 

Gloves intended for protection against chemicals are rated for their resistance to permeation and degradation.  Permeation is a process by which a chemical can pass through the molecules of the glove material and degradation is a reduction in the physical properties of the glove material when exposed to a chemical.  In sizing up the situation for selecting the right glove, the safety data sheet for the chemical product should be reviewed with regard to its chemical composition.  Typically, the major constituent in weight percent is evaluated for PPE use.  From this “ingredient” information, the proper glove can be determined by referencing a rating chart.  The glove manufacturer Ansell has an online chemical resistance guide for 163 chemicals from acetaldehyde to xylene/xylol.  For example, if a certain manufacturing process involves the use of the organic solvent acetone, the Ansell chart indicates a laminate film glove as well as neoprene and natural rubber to be appropriate glove selections while nitrile and polyvinyl chloride gloves are not recommended for use.    

So review this glove rating chart or contact your PPE supply vendor to ensure the “hand in glove” is suitably protected against the chemical products in use.  You’ll likely find this resource to be quite handy. 

Also, check out these previous springtime related MEMIC blog posts, Your Lawn Mower is More Dangerous Than You Think and Spring Clean Up: Chainsaw Awareness.  Have a safe and bountiful gardening season!