Do Your Supervisors Recognize Alcohol Abuse?

September 13, 2016 by  
Filed under Uncategorized

Research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that binge drinking (five or more drinks on one occasion for men, and four or more for women) was responsible for over 70% of the costs related to excessive alcohol use. Train your supervisors and managers on how to identify and respond to potential problem

The first step is to establish or refine your company’s drug and alcohol policy. Much of the burden lies with front-line supervisors who interact with employees every day.

Use these tips to help supervisors learn to identify and respond to problems:

  • Be attentive. The sooner a problem is identified, the sooner it can be addressed. Look for job performance issues like:
    • Rising accident rates,
    • Increased absenteeism or tardiness,
    • Decreased productivity, and
    • Deteriorating coworker relationships.
  • Observe. Watch closely if you begin to notice changes in an employee’s work patterns or performance. It’s not the supervisor’s job to determine the cause of the problem but rather to observe behavior and determine the effects on job performance. Behavior changes may be related to alcohol or other drug abuse, but they can also be caused by other medical problems.
  • Document. Supervisors should maintain a written record that explains the behaviors they are observing. It should include the name of those involved, the time, date, what occurred, names of witnesses, and actions taken. Also document job performance and attendance over time.
  • Address problems. Once the issues have been documented, meet with the employee to discuss the situation. Talk about what you’ve observed, but don’t judge. Keep communication channels open. Confronting employees about possible alcohol use is difficult. Consider when and how to involve your human resources department, safety and health manager, or employee assistance program coordinator.

As a result of the conversation, look for improvements in job performance. If things do not change, be clear with the employee about next steps (intervention, recommendations for treatment, etc.) in keeping with your alcohol and drug policy.

Is Zika Coming to a Workplace Near You?

September 8, 2016 by  
Filed under Uncategorized

It’s time for environment, health, and safety (EHS) managers to add another task to a seemingly endless list of everyday duties. The Zika virus has been identified as a workplace hazard, and it is incumbent upon employers to protect their workers from contracting the virus. Today we offer some steps you can take to keep the Zika virus from infecting your workplace.

Where in the United States?

The Zika virus is creeping north from South America. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), although there are, as of yet, no locally acquired cases of the Zika virus in the United States, there have been a total of 426 travel-associated Zika virus cases. On the other hand, there have been 596 locally acquired Zika virus cases in U.S. territories, with 570 of those in Puerto Rico.

The CDC points out that imported cases could result in local spread of the virus in some areas of the United States.

In addition, the mosquitoes that carry the Zika virus could migrate to the United States.

Is your workplace affected?

Workplaces in industries that could be affected by the Zika virus include healthcare providers and first responders, who are exposed to blood and bodily fluids, and outdoor workers, who could be exposed to mosquito bites.

Steps you can take to protect workers

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) recently released a guidance for protecting workers from contracting the Zika virus. The guidance outlines steps you can take to protect your workers from Zika.

It all starts with training. Employers should train workers about their risks of exposure to the Zika virus through mosquito bites and direct contact with infectious blood and other bodily fluids, as well as how to protect themselves. Employers should also provide information about Zika virus infection, including modes of transmission and possible links to birth defects of the children of workers who are pregnant or may become pregnant or whose sexual partners are or may become pregnant.

Additional steps to protect outdoor workers include:

Step 1: Provide insect repellents, and encourage their proper use.

Step 2: Provide workers with, and encourage them to wear, clothing that covers their hands, arms, legs, and other exposed skin. Consider providing workers with hats with mosquito netting to protect the face and neck.

Step 3: In warm weather, encourage workers to wear lightweight, loose-fitting clothing. This type of clothing protects workers against the sun’s harmful rays and provides a barrier to mosquitoes.

Step 4: Provide workers with adequate water, rest, and shade, and monitor workers for signs and symptoms of heat illness.

Step 5: Get rid of sources of standing water (e.g., tires, buckets, cans, bottles, barrels) whenever possible to reduce or eliminate mosquito breeding areas. Train workers about the importance of eliminating areas where mosquitos can breed at the worksite.

Step 6: If requested, consider reassigning workers who indicate they are or may become pregnant or who have a sexual partner who is or may become pregnant to indoor tasks to reduce their risk of mosquito bites.

 

Earthquake Protection, Preparation, Response and Recovery

August 3, 2016 by  
Filed under Uncategorized

Contrary to public perception, earthquake preparedness is not just an issue in California. All Pacific coast states; the inland western states; the New Madrid region along the Mississippi and Ohio valleys; the Charleston, South Carolina area; the New England region; Alaska; Hawaii and many others have exposure to earthquake damage. California has a greater frequency and severity, but California companies are generally better prepared. Is your facility prepared?
Protection and preparation

Earthquake Recommendations:

• Ensure that the building(s) meet or exceed current building code requirements for seismic resistance. Have a professional engineer with seismic-structural expertise evaluate the buildings, equipment and storage systems. Act on the recommendations.
• Check for existing wall, beam and foundation cracks, and slumping, heaving or other building faults that will cause quick failure in an earthquake. Note that these may be signs of past quake damage.
• Check the suitability of the vertical support and sway bracing of all tall and roof-mounted equipment. Anchor and brace floor-mounted equipment to prevent sliding. Make similar checks of rack and shelf storage systems’ bracing and anchors.
• Provide barriers on shelves to prevent stock slippage. Keep heavy materials on lower shelves.
• Ensure all sprinkler piping meets the seismic requirements of NFPA 13, Standard for Installation of Automatic Sprinkler Systems. Locate sprinkler control valves outside. Use diesel drivers for fire pumps; place the fire pump in a separate seismic-resistant pump house. For additional information, refer to the Travelers Risk Control document Earthquake Protection for Sprinkler Systems.
• Install flexible connections and seismic shut-off valves on all chemical, flammable liquid, and gas lines. Provide diking around flammable liquid tanks. Ensure all liquid petroleum gas tanks are strapped to their saddles.
• Use flexible couplings and braces for pipe protrusions through walls and floors.
• Use safety film on windows and glass doors.
• Train and drill employees on earthquake survival techniques, such as where to stay, where not to go, and “duck, cover and hold.”

Earthquake Recommended Responses
• Earthquakes do not typically give any warning. If you are inside, you should stay there. It is best to take cover under a sturdy object and hold on. If you are outside, drop to the ground and stay clear of buildings, trees and power lines.
• Wait until the shaking stops, then evacuate.
• If you are inside a vehicle, pull over and stop. Do not stop on or under any bridge or overpass. Also keep away from trees, street lights, power lines and traffic signals.
Recovery
• Account for all employees; comply with evacuation orders.
• Survey the site for any damage. If structural damage has occurred, bring in a structural engineer to evaluate before entering the building.
• Attend to hazardous material spills and other leaks and report to the appropriate agencies as required.
• Check for downed power lines.
• Shut down any leaking sprinkler systems; post a fire watch.
• Activate business continuity plan.
• Be prepared for aftershocks.
• Restore fire protection systems.
• Start salvage operations.
• Cover and secure openings in roofs and walls.

Preparing for a Power Outage

October 12, 2015 by  
Filed under Uncategorized

When the power’s out, your business and your workers may face hazards that they don’t expect. Be aware of—and prepared for—the hazards of suddenly being powerless.

Here are some hazards you might not anticipate that can occur during power outages:

  • Fire. NEVER use candles during a power outage or power outage due to extreme risk of fire. Use only flashlights for emergency lighting. Prepare by laying in a supply of batteries.
  • Spoiled food. Keep refrigerator and freezer doors closed to keep food as fresh as possible. If you must eat food that was refrigerated or frozen, check it carefully for signs of spoilage.
  • Power spikes. Turn off or disconnect appliances, equipment, or electronics when the power goes out. Power may return with momentary “surges” or “spikes” that can damage computers as well as motors.

Tips On How To Avoid Vehicle Burglaries

September 28, 2015 by  
Filed under Uncategorized

Most criminals who are looking to steal items from a vehicle are looking for the easy targets.  Most commonly known as a ‘smash and grab’, the burglars are looking for high value items that are in plain sight which can be easily and quickly taken after finding an unlocked door or smashing a window.  Imagine the costs and inconvenience of not only having to replace a smashed window, but also having to replace your driver’s license, credit/debit cards, laptop, cell phone, etc.  Here are some great tips to help prevent being a victim of a vehicle burglary.

ALWAYS lock your vehicle when left unattended.

  1. Never leave your wallet or purse in your vehicle and in plain view when leaving your vehicle unattended.
  2. If you use a portable GPS, remove it from the dash or windshield and place it in your glovebox or trunk when leaving your vehicle unattended.
  3. Never leave any high value items (laptops, cell phones, jewelry, tools) inside your vehicle in plain view while unattended.  If you cannot carry those items with you, secure them in the trunk.
  4. Use a sunscreen in your windshield, even at night or when parked in a parking structure.  This makes it much harder for a burglar to look into your vehicle.
  5. Remember:  Vehicle burglars usually will not break into a vehicle with the intention of ‘searching’ it in hopes of finding something of value.  This takes too long and the burglar risks being seen.  If there is no easy opportunity that is readily available for a ‘smash and grab’ thief, they will more than likely pass your vehicle and look for a better target.

Tips On How To Avoid Vehicle Burglaries

September 21, 2015 by  
Filed under Uncategorized

Most criminals who are looking to steal items from a vehicle are looking for the easy targets.  Most commonly known as a ‘smash and grab’, the burglars are looking for high value items that are in plain sight which can be easily and quickly taken after finding an unlocked door or smashing a window.  Imagine the costs and inconvenience of not only having to replace a smashed window, but also having to replace your driver’s license, credit/debit cards, laptop, cell phone, etc.  Here are some great tips to help prevent being a victim of a vehicle burglary.

ALWAYS lock your vehicle when left unattended.

  1. Never leave your wallet or purse in your vehicle and in plain view when leaving your vehicle unattended.
  2. If you use a portable GPS, remove it from the dash or windshield and place it in your glovebox or trunk when leaving your vehicle unattended.
  3. Never leave any high value items (laptops, cell phones, jewelry, tools) inside your vehicle in plain view while unattended.  If you cannot carry those items with you, secure them in the trunk.
  4. Use a sunscreen in your windshield, even at night or when parked in a parking structure.  This makes it much harder for a burglar to look into your vehicle.
  5. Remember:  Vehicle burglars usually will not break into a vehicle with the intention of ‘searching’ it in hopes of finding something of value.  This takes too long and the burglar risks being seen.  If there is no easy opportunity that is readily available for a ‘smash and grab’ thief, they will more than likely pass your vehicle and look for a better target.

Entanglement Hazards

September 14, 2015 by  
Filed under Uncategorized

Entanglement hazards receive the greatest publicity in the agricultural industry, where nearly 4 in 10 injuries are entanglement related. However, employees operating or working around equipment in industrial settings are also at risk.

Machines and equipment can pose an entanglement hazard if they have:

  • Pinch points, where two or more parts move together, and one of them is moving in a circle (pulley and belt systems, including conveyors and the escalator that killed Michael Smith fall into this category).
  • Crush points, where two components move toward each other, as happens in three-point hitches and hydraulic cylinders.
  • Wrap points, created by exposed rotating components

    Preventing Entanglements

    Safeguards that can prevent these kinds of deadly accidents include:

  • Guarding. Moving parts on machinery should be guarded to prevent any part of the worker’s body from contacting the machine’s moving parts.
  • Dress codes. Workers should not wear loose-fitting clothing, chains, or other loose jewelry around equipment that poses an entanglement hazard. Long hair should be tied back to keep it safely out of danger.
  • Safe work practices. Workers should not work alone with potentially entangling machinery. Before performing adjustments or maintenance operations, qualified workers should shut down and lockout equipment.
  • Emergency shutoffs. Workers who work with or around machinery should know where to find and how to operate emergency shutoffs. When a worker becomes entangled, a quick response may save a life.

Workplace Violence Prevention: Risk Assessment Guidance

August 31, 2015 by  
Filed under Uncategorized

Elements of a workplace violence prevention program

Risk factors can be related to patients, clients, and settings and include the following:

  • Working directly with people who have a history of violence, abuse drugs or alcohol, are gang members, and are relatives of patients or clients;
  • Transporting patients and clients;
  • Working alone in a facility or in patients’ homes;
  • Poor workplace design that may block employees’ vision or interfere with their escape from a violent incident;
  • Poorly lit corridors, rooms, parking lots, and other areas;
  • Absence of emergency communication methods;
  • Prevalence of firearms, knives, and other weapons; and
  • Working in neighborhoods with high crime rates.

Other risks are related to the organization, such as:

  • Lack of policies and employee training for recognizing and managing hostile and assaultive behaviors from patients, clients, visitors, or staff;
  • Understaffing and high turnover;
  • Inadequate security and mental health personnel on site;
  • Long waits for patients or clients and overcrowded, uncomfortable waiting rooms;
  • Unrestricted movement of the public in clinics and hospitals; and
  • A perception that violence is tolerated and victims will not be able to report the incident.

Safety Training Tips: Preventing Amputations

August 24, 2015 by  
Filed under Uncategorized

Machinery Hazard Training

Here’s what workers need to know before they begin working with any piece of dangerous machinery:

Make sure that the machine is operating properly before you begin work:

  • Inspect equipment before use to be sure it’s in good working order.
  • Check that all scheduled maintenance has been performed.Keep the machine lubricated and clean, or alert the proper person when it’s time for those tasks.

Operate machines correctly and safely:

  • Follow instructions provided by training and the manufacturer’s manual.
  • Never skip steps.
  • Make sure you have enough lighting to see controls clearly.
  • Keep your hands and other body parts away from moving machine parts.
  • Use tools, not your hands, to feed materials into (and remove materials from) machines.
  • Don’t try to operate machinery when under the influence of alcohol or drugs—or prescribed medications.
  • Wear assigned personal protective equipment (e.g., safety glasses, hearing protection).
  • Avoid clothing, long hair, or jewelry that could get caught in the machine.
  • Give the job your full attention, no matter how often you’ve done it.
  • Know how to turn off the equipment safely if there’s a problem.
  • Turn off and report any machine that moves, makes unusual noises, or is not functioning properly.

Holiday Hazards: Stress

December 29, 2014 by  
Filed under Uncategorized

The World Health Organization has called stress “the health epidemic of the 21st century.” According to the annual StressPulse Survey conducted by employee assistance program (EAP) provider ComPsych Corporation, stress and personal relationship issues are the most common reasons for employee absence, accounting for nearly half (47%) of employee absences—handily beating out medical issues. Given that the holidays often force people into close contact with relationships they may find stressful, it makes sense to give workers some additional coping strategies this holiday season.
Here are some tips you can use—and share with your employees—that will help you and them identify and self-manage stress.
• Know yourself. Be aware of your stress level and the things that stress you out. Learn your own signals and pay attention to them. For example, if you’re always late for work and feel stressed and anxious, change your pattern and find a way to leave more time.
• Recognize how you deal with stress. Do you turn to unhealthy habits like smoking, drinking, or eating poorly? Do you lose patience with coworkers or family members when you feel overwhelmed at work?
• Set rules for devices. Consider rules like turning off the cell phone when you get home or establishing certain times for returning calls. Be sure to communicate these rules with others so you can manage expectations.
• Keep a to-do list. It’s stressful to constantly think of things that you should be doing. Clear your head by putting those thoughts on paper or on an electronic list. Divide out “work” and “non-work” tasks and indicate those with the highest priority.
• Take responsibility. Acknowledging that you are responsible for your own stress levels can be an important step. No matter what the sources of stress (bad boss, too much work, too little time, etc.), the issue comes down to how you react to them.
• Take a break. It may not seem like much, but a short (1- or 2-minute) break several times a day can help you stay energized and productive. Stand up, stretch, breathe deeply, and clear your head. Every few hours, pause for 10 minutes to recharge. Avoid the temptation to work through lunch.
• Take care. You’ve heard it before, but it really does help—eat right, get enough sleep, drink plenty of water, and exercise regularly. No matter how hectic life gets at work or at home, you have to make time for yourself. If a vacation isn’t in the offing, carve out time for a hobby or a good book.
• Change your head. If negative thinking is causing stress, work to break the pattern. If trying to do everything to perfection is the problem, try to modify your expectations, realizing that unrealistic goals are going to set you up for failure—and undue stress.
• Learn to manage conflict. It’s easier said than done, but resolving conflict in a healthy, constructive way can help relieve work stress. Focus on the present, avoid the temptation to dive into old resentments, and listen to what the other person is really saying.
• Ask for help. Accepting help from supportive friends and family members can help you better manage your stress. Take advantage of employer-based services like an EAP, counseling, work/life balance programs, or referrals to mental health professionals.

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