Make 2018 a Safe Year

KlattPosted by Randy Klatt, WCP®

Well, it’s happened again.  Another year is almost in the books; time sure does fly by doesn’t it?  As we review the events of 2017 and look forward to the new year, please be sure that workplace safety is part of the conversation. 

Here are a few questions to ask regarding 2017 and the effectiveness of your safety program:

  • Did your safety committee meet regularly and conduct activities that actually made the workplace safer? Or was everyone “too busy” to attend, some meetings were cancelled, and no one really took any proactive actions to prevent injuries?  If the latter is the case, then start 2018 with a different message:  Safety is as important as production and quality, so there are no excuses for not addressing safety issues.
  • Were there fewer injuries in 2017? Were all incidents investigated thoroughly to determine root causes with corrective action taken?  If you can’t answer “yes” to both questions it is time to devote more resources to hazard identification and remediation, and to improve the investigation process.  One injury is bad enough, but a second one from the same or similar cause is tragic. 
  • Is there open communication between all employees and management regarding safety issues? Are all concerns heard and answered in a timely manner?  Remember, the employees doing the work understand the hazards and the controls needed.  Listen to them and ensure the appropriate controls are in place.  At the same time, ensure all employees are following the safety policies and best practices. 
  • Does your organizational culture support safety at each level? A clear message should be delivered to every person:  All injuries are preventable!  Granted, this is a difficult task, but if your employees don’t think all injuries are preventable then how could they be expected to prevent all injuries?  Don’t let the mantra “it was an accident” lead you down the path of complacency.  Workplace injuries are not “accidents” - they are predictable outcomes that occur when people accept injuries as inevitable and don’t do all they can to take care of people.  We are all people, and we all make mistakes.  But focusing on safety with unyielding accountability and consistent best practices will eliminate the vast majority of injuries.

The costs of workplace injuries, both human and monetary, are simply too great to tolerate.  Thousands of people died at work in 2017 and millions more injured.  It’s time for a 2018 New Year’s Resolution that will take care of people and keep businesses profitable.  Make it your mission to see that everyone in your charge operates safely all year by conducting all appropriate training, providing all necessary tools and equipment, controlling all known hazards, communication regarding safety is open and effective, and all incidents are investigated completely with appropriate follow up actions taken.  That’s a lot for one sentence, but it sums up what needs to be done by all of us to keep ourselves and our fellow workers safe and healthy.  Make your 2018 a banner year for workplace safety! 

Upon a Tranquil Morn

LarochellePosted by Greg LaRochelle, MS, WCP®

Upon a tranquil morn, ice crystals form a paisley pattern frosting the frozen windowpanes in his comfortable study.  Having braved the harsh elements through a stormy night, he slumps against the cushions in his favorite armchair, delighted in the joy he just delivered to children near and far.  His magical mission completed, he ponders the idea of heading south to a warmer clime, entrusting his team to carry on with exuberance.  In this calm moment, he reflects on another year of MEMIC Safety Net Blogs that served him well over the preceding months.

Over the year, he implemented a safety shoe reimbursement program to outfit his crew of craftsmen with new elfin work boots after reading Adam’s Safety Shoes – Selecting the Right Shoe for Your Workplace blog.  He surprised them even more by providing ice cleats described in Dave’s post Winter Slip, Trip, and Fall Safety Tips.  He felt it only fair as a few of them were miffed when he “recalled” their back belts from reading Rob’s article Back Belts – Do They Prevent Back Injuries?  Rob’s Employee Safety and Wellness Run Hand-in-Hand webinar promo post had him looking at worker safety from a holistic approach.  Moreover, Allan’s blog Keep Lifts Between the Knees and Shoulders acquainted him with the NIOSH lifting equation and the “green” power zone for manual lifting.  As a material handling safety improvement, a spotlight was added to the forklift after reading John’s blog Powered Industrial Truck Pedestrian Safety Lights – What a Bright Idea! 

Always a bit nervous when watching his woodworkers operate a table saw, he invested in a new saw with a built-in safety braking system and posted safety tips for optimum operation from reading Tonya’s post Table Saw Safety.  Her Ladder Safety blog came in handy when stringing up the holiday lights and topping the tree with a shimmering crystal star.  He was moved by Laurette’s piece on taking care of the caregivers in Caregivers: First Do No Harm To Yourselves.  Beth’s blog More than Love Handles gave him pause on his own waistline and reassurance that safety support is available for caregivers to avoid a strain injury.  He was made more aware of his own posture from Maureen’s Let Posture Be Your Guide article.  Most importantly, he learned to listen to his inner voice from reading Randy Morehouse’s post Personal Safety – Listen to Your Inner Voice.

A transformation begins as a new day awakens with the first glow of sunlight.

MEMIC’s loss control staff wishes everyone a safe and joyful holiday season.


A Science for the Art of Slipping: Take Charge of Your Traction

Willard Webb Posted by Debra Willard Webb, MS, RN, COHN-S, WCP®

Consider this all-too-common situation… coffee in hand, Sam hustles across the snow-dusted parking lot in leather sole shoes.  His phone rings.  Before he can answer “What’s up?” he’s down!  His heel slipped on black ice sending him off balance where gravity took over. 

Why?  Shouldn’t he have been able to regain his balance?  Why does one person fall on ice or a grape that fell off a lunch tray, or water in the hallway, and another just keeps on walking?

The why of a fall is partly explained by TRIBOLOGY - the science of friction, lubrication, and wear.  Tribology provides numbers that help us understand the friction between surfaces. This number is a coefficient of friction (COF), and describes the surface friction from zero (no friction) to one (high friction).  Not surprisingly, black ice has a very low COF.

The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) set a minimum standard COF for walking surfaces at 0.42μ (ANSI A137.1 & 326.3).  Floors with a COF below that number contribute to fall risk. CNA Financial Corporation recently published a tribometry study of hard surface floors in commercial settings and surprisingly found that barely half of the floors met this safety standard.  Clearly, there is work to be done to reduce commercial flooring slip risk. According to the National Floor Safety Institute, over one million hospital emergency room visits result from slip and fall incidents each year.  It’s time we all work together to reduce this significant hazard and keep employees, friends, and families safer.

However, simply replacing flooring with high COF flooring would not solve all the commercial building slip risk.  It is an important step (pun intended), but COF is not the only factor in slip and fall risk.  Lots of variables can decrease the COF affecting a walker.  Oil, water, cleaners, or even dry materials like dust and gravel can increase slipperiness.  Dry snow became the lubricant in Sam’s story, reducing traction between his shoe and the ice.

Maintenance routines are a crucial factor in flooring risk management.  Cleaning products, tools, and methods can increase slip hazards.  The wrong products, too much product, soap residue, failing to strip previous product, and failing to buff according to flooring guidance are all factors that can change floor safety. CNA’s report tells us that businesses would be wise to review current floor maintenance practices and ensure that surfaces are maintained according to the flooring manufacturer’s guidance. Further, knowing how snow and ice will affect the slipperiness of floors and planning accordingly makes sense as well.  

Not in charge of flooring at your workplace?  Then manage what you DO have control of.  Reduce your personal risk for a slip and fall. When rain or winter weather are in the forecast adapt your footwear.

Choose slip-resistant footwear with these characteristics:

  • High friction material
  • Larger heel contact surface
  • Tread patterns across the width of the sole to channel water away from your step

Adjust your walking style:

  • Take shorter strides with slightly flexed knees, keeping your center of gravity more stable
  • Leave a few minutes early to allow for a slower pace
  • Be aware of the walking surface and conditions
  • Have your hands free for balance; carry items in a crossbody bag

Consider your usual footwear inside and out:

  • Does the sole have traction on the surfaces you travel?
  • Does it contribute to a stable center of gravity?
  • Is your foot properly secured with laces or straps?
  • Would traction enhancers be helpful outside?

Take action when you recognize a slip hazard:

  • Promptly clean up any spilled liquids or other contaminants
  • Use “Wet Floor” signs where applicable
  • Use plenty of salt and sand outdoors in freezing weather

For more information, check these resources from EHS Today, Occupational Health and Safety, and previous Safety Net posts from Peter Koch entitled, “Stay SAFE from the Winter Slip and Fall” and “What’s on Your Feet This Winter?” 


MEMIC's Safe Gift Guide

Nothing is better than having a loved one come home safe, that's why we asked some of our Safety Management Consultants to share their top gift choices for the holiday season.

"It's gotta be the shoes," says Peter Koch. Peter isn't talking Air Jordans, the premier holiday gift of 1988, he's discussing the timeless necessity of slip and fall prevention. Like car tires, your shoes keep you firmly attached to the surface and there are many different tread types designed for the specific environmental conditions you may encounter. The deeper and more widely spaced the tread pattern, the more loose material - like gravel or snow - it can accommodate and still contact the stable surface below.  Because there are fewer contact points with the surface, this tread pattern isn’t great for hard wet/oily surfaces like tile or concrete. A deeply scored, but closely spaced tread pattern can readily squeeze out liquids and provide more surface area for contact with the surface underneath. Conversely, there is little room for bulky materials in the tread, allowing clogging and limiting friction. For those of you who don't love this excuse to buy more than one pair of shoes for the different conditions you encounter, you can look into traction enhancers that can be put on and taken off.

Tony Jones agrees on the importance of footwear, "When your feet hurt, you hurt all over." Tony offers tips on how to find the right fit. Not many people know it's best to buy shoes late in the afternoon when your feet are more likely to be swollen and at their maximum size. Selecting shoes made of leather or canvas, rather than synthetic materials, can also help in avoiding athlete's foot.

Ladders are like shoes says Scott Valorose, one size does not fit all and choosing the right kind of ladder for each task is important. If you see someone using a stepladder the wrong way, like folded and leaned in place of a straight ladder or using an aluminum ladder around electricity, then a gift of the right kind of ladder could literally be a life saver. Remember to choose a ladder that is capable of supporting not just their weight but also the weight of any tools, materials, and equipment they will be using.

Scott and Peter both agree that cut resistant gloves are a must-have for anyone who spends time in the kitchen around knives. For better kitchen ergonomics, Peter also recommends adjustable or telescopic handled scrubbers, dusters and sweepers to avoid overextending your reach or needing a ladder. That way no one can make an excuse when it is time to clean up after the holiday party that they are too short, tall, big or small.

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow - if you have the right snow shovel says Allan Brown. Consider a shovel with a bent handle, this will reduce the amount of bending you’ll have to do when shoveling. Plastic is lighter than metal, so go light; the snow will provide plenty of weight and if the snow is so heavy you are worried it will bend or break the shovel then you are lifting too much weight. For that special someone who refuses to hire a professional for anything, get a roof rake for snow removal says Rod Stanley and declare the roof a no-go zone. For someone who uses a snow blower in the winter or a lawn mower in the summer, hearing protection is another must-have to prevent ear damage says John DeRoia (also useful for large, noisy family gatherings). For anyone hitting the slopes, the best accessory to match your skis or snowboard is a helmet says Peter.

At MEMIC, we believe safety truly is the gift that keeps on giving, so you can always find more safety tips right here on the Safety Net Blog all year round.

Santa safety net gift guide

HO! HO! HO! Gift Wrapping and Lifting Tips for the Busy Elf

 CampaneriaPosted by: Natalie Campaneria, PT, MPH, CSPHP with contributions from Allan Brown and Maureen Anderson

Choose the best place to wrap your gifts and away from prying eyes.

BEST: Standing using a work surface that is 36-42” high (kitchen bar/island, a folding table with risers or counter) provides a good height for working while standing.  Standing allows you to move freely and avoid strains that can occur when over reaching.

GOOD: Sitting on a chair at a table is ok, but try to avoid reaching too far away to get supplies, cut the full length of paper or wrap large items standing up if you have to reach.

AVOID: Wrapping gifts on the floor; this puts excessive strain on your back and causes awkward reaching and sitting postures.

Gather all your supplies and place conveniently nearby to reduce reaching...

Pic 1 - Wrapping

…such as presents, wrapping paper, ribbon, tape and scissors so you aren’t running around looking for materials.                

The need to repetitively reach across the table for these items can put stress on the low back.

Tight on Space? Consider pulling out a kitchen drawer and covering it with a cookie sheet or pan with sides, then place all of your supplies such as scissors, tape, ribbon, tags in the pan so you aren’t searching for them while wrapping.

Cutting and taping: Avoid Sawzall and Duct Tape.

Consider investing a few dollars and get the best tools for the job like this wrapping paper cutter, spring loaded scissors and weighted tape dispenser. The cutting tools reduce the stress on the hand and fingers.  The tape dispenser allows you to retrieve a piece of tape with one hand while the other hand is holding it all together.

Paper 3

Use gift bags and avoid a lot of the fancy folding and cutting.

Gift bags decrease the time you need to wrap gifts and eliminate the need to reach for paper, scissor, tape, etc.  Oversize bags are great for large or heavy items.

Take an eggnog break to change posture and stretch… grab a cookie too!!!

Take a stretch breaks every 20-30 minutes.  Open up your shoulders and take a few back bends.  Go for a little walk.

Don’t be a messy elf and clean up as you wrap. 

Scraps of paper and ribbon on the floor create a slip and fall hazard (as well as too much mulled wine).

Gift Lift Guidelines:

  • When bending and reaching, fire up your core muscles and bend your knees. Keep your head above your buttocks when bending.
  • Anything over 35 pounds is a two elf lift.
  • Over 50 pounds get the John Deere or just put a bow on it and leave it where it lies.
  • When putting packages under the tree avoid unsupported long reaches. Pad your knees when kneeling, place one hand on the ground and position lighter gifts with the free hand.
  • When you stand up, reset your body and take a few back bends.
  • Avoid over shoulder reaches when putting the star on top of the tree. Get a ladder or step stool to keep the job below shoulder level. When the ladder has printed on the top rung “this is not a step” it means, this is not a step. Falling into the tree will only “delight” the tree, if you know what I mean.

Have a very happy and safe holiday season!


Excuse Me… Could You Repeat That?

Tony Jones 2014Posted by: Anthony Jones, RN, COHN

Recently, I was diagnosed with severe hearing loss in the higher frequencies. I had sought out the exam due to a family history, spending a large part of my career in high noise occupations, and a few noisy hobbies. The most obvious symptom was constantly asking people to repeat themselves. The end result was hearing aids and now I hear conversations better, music sounds great again, and I even heard the warning chirp indicating the brakes on the car needed attention. But nothing compares to our natural ability to hear the world around us. Protecting that ability is critical and not really very difficult. 

According to WebMD, “Hearing loss is the third most common health problem in the United States. Hearing loss has a major impact on one’s quality of life, and relationships. About 48 million Americans suffer from some level of hearing loss.”

Hearing loss is not just an issue for older people. According to the Better Hearing Institute, the majority of people (65%) with hearing loss are younger than 65 years of age. Unfortunately, only about 13% of physicians screen for hearing loss during a typical physical exam. What are the effects of not dealing with hearing loss? According to studies outlined by the Better Hearing Institute the effects of untreated hearing loss can be:

  • Irritability, negativism and anger.
  • Fatigue, tension, stress and depression.
  • Avoidance or withdrawal from social situations.
  • Social rejection and loneliness.
  • Reduced alertness and increased risk to personal safety.
  • Impaired memory and ability to learn new tasks.
  • Reduced job performance and earning power.
  • Diminished psychological and overall health.

So what is one to do? First take care of your ears and hearing. Hearing loss is often permanent, particularly the type of hearing loss caused by exposure to high noise levels. That means that hearing aids won’t be of much help. Lawn mowers, loud machinery, power tools, firearms, snowmobiles, music concerts, motorcycles, and sporting events all present a real insult to your hearing. If you can, move away from the load sounds since distance dramatically reduces the sound pressure. Use barriers or other muffling devices to further reduce noise. Lastly, always wear your properly fitted hearing protection around occupational and non-occupational noise.   

If testing determines a family member, you, or your employee has hearing loss, follow up with an Audiologist or a physician specializing in Ear Nose and Throat (ENT). This is essential and even required under the federal occupational standard. Refer to OSHA’s Hearing Conservation Publication 3074 for guidance and regulations regarding hearing protection in the workplace. In addition, check out the Better Hearing Institute website for further information. 

Studies have shown a significant relationship between hearing loss and quality of life. The job can be stressful and even hazardous, but occupational hearing loss does not have to be inevitable. We can’t fight all the effects of getting older, but if we take the right steps we can take care of what hearing we have. Wear your hearing protection when required and ensure everyone else around you is doing the same.

Hearing loss can mean missing a significant part of our awareness of the world around us. Don’t miss out on it just because you didn’t protect your hearing at work. Missing the subtleties of life can mean missing significant messages. After all, Errol Flynn once said, “It isn’t what they say about you, it’s what they whisper.” 

Crystalline Silica: Not Just Fun in the Sand Revisited

Stephen Badger 2014Posted by Stephen Badger, CSP, OHST

Although summer is now nothing but a distant memory and the beaches will be empty for months to come, we should remember that respirable crystalline silica is a major health hazard for those that are exposed to it.  November is Lung Cancer Awareness Month, so it seems appropriate to review recent OSHA enforcement policies regarding crystalline silica.

As a reminder, crystalline silica is the second most common mineral in the Earth’s crust and is found all over the world even in the sand on our beaches. Silica actually can be in one of three forms; Quartz, Cristobalite, and Tridymite. Quartz is the most common form and is found in many of our everyday building materials.

When workers chip, grind, saw, or cut materials that contain silica, small “respirable” pieces can be made that can be easily inhaled. While larger pieces of silica can become filtered out in our nose and trachea, respirable silica can continue down our respiratory tract and become lodged in our lungs. These microscopic particles are responsible for the health hazards associated with exposure the silica.

Between 1968 and 1992 approximately 20,000 employee deaths were associated with exposure to silica in the workplace. These death were caused by silicosis (a scarring of the lung tissue caused by silica), lung cancer, and kidney disease.

Silicosis is the most common disease associated with silica exposure. It can take 15-20 years to develop (chronic) with low to moderate exposures to silica, but it can take only a few months to a couple of years of high exposures to develop acute silicosis.

Because of the increased understanding of the health effects of exposure to silica, OSHA introduced a new standard on September 23, 2017 beginning with compliance assistance in lieu of full enforcement.  On October 19, 2017 Compliance Safety and Health Officers began full enforcement of 29 CFR 1926.1153 that contains many new requirements for the protection of employees who are exposed to silica:

  • The Permissible Exposure Limit (PEL) has been reduced to 50 ug/m3 for an eight hour Time Weighted Average (TWA).
  • Airborne exposures of silica to the Action Level of 25 ug/m3 triggers closer employee monitoring to ensure that the PEL is not exceeded.
  • Table 1 in the standard addresses specific work tasks with potential exposures to silica and the engineering and work practice controls required to reduce airborne particles.
  • New medical monitoring criteria for those employees exposed above the PEL.

In June 2018, OSHA’s General Industry silica regulation, 29 CFR 1910.1053, will become law and require many of the same worker protections as in Construction. Two notable exceptions in this standard:

  • Employers have to include employees in their silica exposure control program if they exposed above the crystalline silica Action Level for 30 or more days per year
  • Employers have 15 days to notify effected employees of the results of any air monitoring

Want to know more about the new OSHA standards for silica? OSHA has numerous resources on their website including several Fact Sheets.  MEMIC customers can also access the Safety Director and its Resource Library as well as our archived webinar entitled Air Sampling Strategies. 

Vehicle Lift Safety

LaCrossPosted by Jeremiah LaCross

Vehicle lifts are widely used throughout the automotive service industry and are very effective pieces of equipment when proper safety procedures are followed. There are different types of lifts which include two-post surface mounted, four post, in-ground, mobile, etc. Each type of lift has specific safety procedures for safely lifting the vehicles.

Since 2007, OSHA has conducted several automotive lift inspections, 11 of which resulted from fatalities. Click here to read more about one of these fatalities.  According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, a total of 15,000 workers were treated in hospitals for automotive lift, jack or jack stand injuries.

What are the employers responsibilities?

  • Ensure that annual inspections are conducted by a qualified lift service company.
  • Ensure daily inspections and proper operation of arm restraints, locking devices, shut off devices for over travel, lift controls, drive chains, wire rope, hoses, wiring, hydraulic leaks, floor cracks, and anchors.
  • Ensure that all users of the vehicle lifts are properly trained in the safe operation and maintain the training logs.
    • Many lift service companies provide training as an additional value added service.
  • Maintain all vehicle lift maintenance and/or repair logs.
  • Ensure a lockout/tagout program is in place for all vehicle lifts in the facility.

What are the operators responsibilities?

  • Immediately report any unsafe conditions identified during the daily inspection to your Supervisor.
  • Never use a vehicle lift without receiving proper safety training.
  • Always utilize all safety features per the manufacturer’s instruction.
    • Example: ALWAYS lower the lift onto the safety locks before proceeding to work under the vehicle.
  • Become familiar with vehicle lift points, which can be found in the service manuals and/or manufacturer’s instructions.
  • ALWAYS inspect the vehicle prior to lifting. Certain conditions may change the vehicles stability such as snow or ice buildup in a truck bed, a plumbing or mechanical van with excessive weight in the back.  
  • Maintain a clean work area to avoid slip or trip hazards that can cause injury.

What are some common violations that we see?

  • Failure to properly lower the vehicle onto the safety locks. This places the entire load force on the hydraulics, which creates a significant crush-by hazard should the hydraulics fail.
  • Failure to conduct vehicle lift safety training for all operators.
  • Failure to retain the proper documentation of the following:
    • Safety training.
    • Maintenance/repair logs.
    • Lift inspections.

More information regarding vehicle lift safety is available from the Automotive Lift Institute and the Automotive Equipment Technical Institute. 

Please reach out to your MEMIC Loss Control Representative with any questions or for further assistance.  

Office Ergonomics is Music to My Ears

LarochellePosted by Greg LaRochelle, WCP®

As a fan of most music genres, especially alternative and classic rock, several song titles come to mind that I believe fit nicely with the topic of office ergonomics.  Unlike the Billboard Top 100, these 12 songs are not ranked in any particular order but rather correspond to sound advice on avoiding repetitive stress or cumulative trauma injuries related to computer use.  And with a one and a two and a three…


  • Mighty Mouse by Tesla from the album Into the Now released in 2004: While the mouse is a mighty input device, it can be a source of significant stress to the wrist, forearm, elbow, and even the shoulder and lateral side of the neck. Keep the mouse in close proximity to the keyboard within short reach.  Consider using a vertically designed mouse to approximate a more neutral forearm posture.  Navigate into the mouse properties via the control panel to speed up the pointer motion speed from the default halfway setting.  You won’t have to wrestle with the mouse so much to move the cursor arrow across the monitor screen.

            MEMIC Safety Net Blog: Not All Mice Are Created Equal posted in 2014

  • Codes and Keys by Death Cab for Cutie from the album Codes and Keys released in 2011: Use shortcut keys as a quicker and easier method of navigating and executing commands in software programs. Keep the keyboard flat on the work surface to minimize hand/wrist extension.  Consider using an ergonomic keyboard for a less constrained typing posture.

            MEMIC Safety Net Blog: Ten Tips for a Perfect Fit posted in 2008

  • The Big Screen by Travis from the album Where You Stand released in 2013: Monitor technology has come a long way from the days of the 15 inch CRT design. Large 24 inch screens help to spare the eyes from straining to see the display items.  When using two monitors, keep the primary monitor front and center or if both are shared virtually equally, mate them symmetrically with the centerline of the keyboard with roughly a 30 degree angle between the two.

            MEMIC Safety Net Blog: Dealing with Dual Monitors posted in 2012

  • Far Away Eyes by The Rolling Stones from the album Some Girls released in 1978: To avoid a forward head posture (anterior head carriage) with torso flexion, position the monitor(s) within a range of 18 to 24 inches from your eyes. To reduce eyestrain, apply the 20/20/20 rule (for every 20 minutes of fixed gaze on the monitor screen, look at an object about 20 feet away for 20 seconds).

            MEMIC Safety Net Blog: Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You posted in 2015

  • Hold Your Head Up by Argent from the album All Together Now released in 1972: Depending on prescription eyewear, adjust the height of the monitor(s) to promote a neutral, upright head posture.  A ream of paper (2 inches thick) or two inserted under the base of the monitor is a frugal way to increase the screen height.  Use a document holder or inline adjustable angle copy stand to minimize downward head tilt.

            MEMIC Safety Net Blog: Heads-up! “Text Neck” on the Rise posted in 2013

  • The Phone Call by The Pretenders from the album Pretenders released in 1980: The phone should be positioned on the side of the keyboard and monitor for the hand favored in grabbing the handset to prevent a crossover reach. Use a phone headset if cradling the handset between the neck and shoulder is a constant and prolonged task when conversing with the party on the other end of the line.

            MEMIC Safety Net Blog: Sherlock Holmes, the Ergonomist posted in 2015

  • Someone Keeps Moving My Chair by They Might Be Giants from the album Flood released in 1990: Ah, the shared chair that someone adjusts to their own liking. Get to know the chair’s adjustment features such as backrest tilt and height, seat pan height, depth, and angle, lumbar support, and armrest movement to restore it back to a comfortable fit.

            MEMIC Safety Net Blog: Ergonomics by the Seat of Your Pants posted in 2016

  • Blinded by the Light by Bruce Springsteen from the album Greetings from Asbury Park, N.J. released in 1973: Ambient light in the office environment is oftentimes too much, resulting in decreased contrast on the monitor screen. This can lead to the unconscious behavior of squinting and leaning forward straining the eyes, neck, and shoulders.   A small desktop task lamp can provide adequate illumination in a half-light ambience.   

            MEMIC Safety Net Blog: See More with Less? Yes! posted in 2011

  • Within Your Reach by The Replacements from the album Hootenanny released in 1983: Applying the neutral zone principle to workstations establishes a boundary of 18 to 24 inches for the placement of most frequently used items such as the keyboard, mouse, phone, and pen & pencil container.  Less frequently used items such as reference books, desk organizers, and electric calculators should be situated within a secondary zone of 24 to 36 inches and slid closer when needed. 

            MEMIC Safety Net Blog: Enter the Neutral Zone posted in 2013

  • Get Up, Stand Up by The Wailers from the album Burnin’ released in 1973: Prolonged sitting leads to static muscle activity with reduced blood flow to the affected body area. A micro-break every 20-30 minutes in a standing position with stretching can help to reinvigorate fatigued, contracted muscles.   Consider a desk mount sit/stand unit or height adjustable workstation for a more dynamic work routine.   Remember the best posture is the next posture!

            MEMIC Safety Net Blog: Micro Breaks = Macro Benefit posted in 2010

  • Walk On by U2 from the album All That You Can’t Leave Behind released in 2000: Rather than bending to the side with an awkward extended reach to grab the copy off the adjacent desktop printer, connect to a more remote printer and walk on over to retrieve the document.

            MEMIC Safety Net Blog: Walk On! posted in 2010

  • In the Lap of the Gods by Queen from the album Sheer Heart Attack released in 1974: Laptop use induces a constrained upper body posture with significant downward head tilt. For prolonged use, connect a mouse and keyboard (wireless or corded) and elevate the laptop on a stand or stack of paper reams to view the screen with a neutral head position.

            MEMIC Safety Net Blog: Laptop Ergonomics posted in 2012

For MEMIC policyholders with ergonomic dilemmas, all you need is…to click on this link to the Safety Director landing page to create a personal profile.  With a little help from MEMIC’s ergonomic resources, you’ll find solutions that make working a little better all the time.


Be sure the “calm after the storm” is safe!

KlattPosted by Randy Klatt, WCP®  

As we mark the five year anniversary of Super Storm Sandy, the northeast now has an estimated 1,000,000 homes and businesses without power. The passing of the latest storm is a big relief for the northeast U.S., but now the cleanup begins and that can present some of the most hazardous conditions encountered during the entire storm. The excerpt below is taken from an earlier Safety Net post written by Peter Koch, MEMIC Safety Management Consultant entitled The Cleanup: Don't let Irene do more damage. Take this advice seriously as you attempt to clean up downed trees, restore services, and open businesses.


In the aftermath of Hurricane Irene here in the Northeast, property cleanup is at the top of everyone's to-do list. Make sure to take the time to conduct a job hazard analysis for the cleanup tasks and determine if you have the internal resources and skills to complete the cleanup safely.

Storm cleanup is one of the most dangerous tasks that can be performed with a chainsaw, placing the operator and fellow workers in challenging and unpredictable environments. Unstable elements in the canopy (including widow makers and spring poles), not to mention uneven ground and exposed root systems are all real hazards for the chainsaw operator. Experience and highly developed skills are the last lines of defense for the chainsaw operator.

Mechanical logging reduces the exposure to many hazards that the manual logger has limited ability to control. If your chainsaw operators are occasional users with limited experience and training, or your internal resources are unable to meet the demands of extensive storm cleanup, sub-contracting with a reputable logging company or certified arborist will transfer the risk and protect your most valuable resource, your employees.

If some level of cleanup at your operation is to be done with a chainsaw, you should complete a job hazard analysis which will help your operators review hazards and controls. For a sample job hazard analysis form, go to the MEMIC Safety Director. The Safety Director also contains a three part webinar covering chainsaw operation. Additional chainsaw safety resources are available in the Safety Academy, or check out this OSHA fact sheet

As you drive on the roads this week keep an eye out for downed trees and power lines. Some secondary roads may be blocked for significant time as utility workers scramble to restore power to rural communities. Many traffic lights are inoperative, so caution is the word of the day. Stay in place if you’re able. If you must travel in areas that are heavily wooded and/or lightly trafficked take your time. Never touch any downed power lines, no matter how safe you think they are. Leave that work to the trained professionals.