Those who work in the field of healthcare, i.e., medical, dental, nursing homes, EMS, and others such as law enforcement, are trained to take Universal Precaution: the approach to infection control with regard to human blood and potentially infectious materials as if they were known to be infectious.  It is estimated that 5.6 million workers in the health care industry are at risk of occupational exposure to bloodborne pathogens, such as:

  • Hepatitis B, which is more transmittable than HIV; affects liver.
  • HIV; Human Immunodeficiency Virus;
  • Hepatitis C.  This is the most common chronic bloodborne infection in the United States, most often caused by needlestick injuries.  If not treated properly, it can lead to active liver disease.

Employees with occupational exposure to bloodborne pathogens must receive proper training.  The appropriate use of personal protective equipment is mandated by the Bloodborne Pathogens Standards.

Goggles, and glasses with sideshields should be utilized as needed, as they drastically reduce health risks to workers.  An OSHA standard covering bloodborne disease requires employers to provide appropriate personal protective equipment and clothing free of charge to employees.  Hand washing facilities should be readily available to employees, and designated areas should be assigned for washing, storage or discarding of PPE.

Employers must have Exposure Control Plans and provide post-exposure prophylaxis and follow-up treatment of workers’ exposure incidents.

Source: OSHA


Since we have talked about distracted drivers, we thought it might be fun to share this email we got today from a friend.  True or not, isn’t it amazing the stories we humans come up with?  Here goes…….
People who experienced automobile accidents were asked to explain what happened in a few words or less on insurance or accident forms. The following quotes were taken from these forms and were eventually published… ·

  • Coming home, I drove into the wrong house and collided with a tree I don’t have.
  • The other car collided with mine without giving warning of its intentions.
  • I collided with a stationary truck coming the other way.
  • A truck backed through my windshield into my face.
  • A pedestrian hit me and went under my car.
  • The guy was all over the road; I had to swerve a number of times before I hit him.
  • I pulled away from the side of the road, glanced at my mother-in-law and headed over the embankment.
  • In my attempt to kill a fly, I drove into a telephone pole.
  • I had been driving my car for forty years when I fell asleep at the wheel and had an accident.
  • As I approached the intersection, a stop sign suddenly appeared in place where no stop sign had ever appeared before.
  • I was unable to stop in time to avoid the accident.
  • To avoid hitting the bumper of the car in front, I struck the pedestrian.
  • My car was legally parked as it backed into the other vehicle.
  • An invisible car came out of nowhere, struck my vehicle, and vanished.
  • I told the police that I was not injured, but on removing my hat, I found that I had a skull fracture.
  • I was sure the old fellow would never make it to the other side of the roadway when I struck him.
  • The pedestrian had no idea which direction to go, so I ran over him.
  • The indirect cause of this accident was a little guy in a small car with a big mouth.
  • The telephone pole was approaching fast. I was attempting to swerve out of its path when it struck my front.

Can you top any of these?  All joking aside, we really need to take our driving seriously and pay attention to the road!


According to OSHA, statistics show that more than 145,000 people work in over 7,000 warehouses.  The fatal injury rate for the warehousing industry is higher than the national average for all industries.  Some of the potential hazards for workers in warehousing are: unsafe use of forklifts; improper stacking of products; failure to use proper personal protective equipment; inadequate fire safety provisions; and poor respiratory protection.

  • Docks are locations where products fall on employees, forklifts run off the dock, or equipment strikes a fellow worker.
  • About 100 employees are killed and 95,000 injured every year while operating forklifts in all industries.  Operators should be properly trained, and anyone under 18 years old should never be allowed to operate a forklift.
  • Injuries happen when workers are caught in pinch points when working around conveyors.  Proper lighting and working surfaces assist in providing safety in the conveyor area.
  • Improperly stored materials may fall and injure workers.
  • If hazardous materials are present, chemical burns are possible.  Provide proper personal protective equipment and enforce its use.  All chemicals should be stored safely and securely.
  • Charging Stations need to have fire extinguishers available and ready; prohibit smoking.  PPE, such as nitrile gloves, and eye and face protection should be worn around charging stations, and an eyewashing and safety shower facility should be provided for employees exposed to battery acids.
  • Improper lifting, repetitive motion or poor design of operations can cause musculoskeletal disorders in workers in warehouses. Floors should be kept clean and free from trip/slip hazards.  Provide general ergonomics training.

The jobs that are performed in warehouses require skill in lifting and observing safety procedures at all times.  Employees should have proper training and be aware of the many hazards lurking in warehouses.


Tool manufacturers just keep coming up with more powerful tools for doing those outdoor jobs, whether at home, doing landscape work, or in the field. Lawn Rangers, listen up!

Power grass/weed trimmers have enough power to sling sticks, rocks, and other debris, which can get in the operator’s eyes, or injure someone standing by.  Goggles should be worn when operating trimmers.

A newer type of tool is the brush cutter, which use rigid cutting blades, rather than plastic string lines that are used on trimmers.  In addition to cutting through heavier brush, etc. they can also cut arms, hands, and legs.  Persons operating this tool should wear protective clothing in addition to eye goggles, and others need to stay away while the brush cutter is being operated.

Riding mowers are the remedy for cutting grass in larger yards.  Persons purchasing their first riding mower should become familiar with all its features before taking off.  Only responsible persons should use riding mowers.  The area to be mowed should be cleared of limbs and things that could possibly be thrown by the blades of the mower.  Riding mowers are capable of amputating hands and feet, so extreme caution should be used.  It’s not a good idea to carry passengers on the mower. Again, goggles protect your eyes.

Power mowers are another type of tool that the operator needs to understand before starting it. Be sure there are no young children in the area, and remove objects such as big sticks, etc.
Make certain it is full of fuel before starting; never refuel while it is running or the engine is hot.  Wear good shoes, not flip-flops.  Also, don’t cut grass while it is wet, as it can bunch up and damage the mower. (Remember, the goggles!)

It’s great to have these great tools, but please don’t be a part of the thousands in the “power parade” that march, (or limp) in to the emergency room!  Play it safe!


Waters after hurricane/flood/tornadoes can be contaminated with sewage, industrial waste, microorganisms, chemicals, and other substances that can cause illness or death.  In these environments, it becomes necessary for volunteer and rescue workers to begin the tasks of decontaminating the properties that are still standing.  An important step in preventing disease is to disinfect clothing, tools/equipment, and work area surfaces.

Good old household bleach solutions can be used for decontamination purposes when working in these environments.  It is important to workers and volunteers that good hand hygiene is established.  Hands should be washed with clean soap and water if at all possible.  If only contaminated water is available, use ¼ cup of bleach per 1 gallon of water.  When cleaning hand tools, immerse them in the solution.  Severe surface decontamination needs to be disinfected using a solution of 1½ cups of bleach to 1 gallon of water.  Allow this to stand 3 minutes.

It is important to mix bleach solutions fresh daily, just before use.  The solution needs to stand for 30 minutes before using.  Wipe electric or battery-operated tools with bleach solution.  It is also imperative that you wear gloves, and eye protection when cleaning clothes, tools, and surfaces.  When mold is present, use respirators (N-95 recommended).  Never mix ammonia products with bleach.

Because there is such a threat of disease, all precautionary measures should be taken by workers, volunteers and homeowners.  Wearing proper personal protective equipment is of the utmost importance.


Do you remember your first day on the job, wishing you understood what everyone else was doing?  You want to fit in, and it seems as though there’s a mountain of information being tossed your way.  No one can absorb everything they are told, but the main thing one needs to pay attention to is safety on the job.  With the summer season beginning, a whole new workforce will begin.  Those younger employees need to have a mentor for a few months, just to ensure their safety and the safety of others.

It is the responsibility of the employer to provide proper training beginning from Day One.

Bureau of Labor Statistics show that 40% of on-the-job injuries are workers experiencing their first year of work.  The first thing employers should do is start orientation on the first day.  Co-workers can be of assistance if they notice the new employee is doing something unsafe; they need to speak up and warn them before they get injured.  They also can tell the new employee who to talk to if they have concerns about safety.  Personnel need to respect the equipment they are working with, and be aware that their wellness can be an issue if they don’t use caution.

In most of our experiences, we gradually find out what to do:  a good example is a Fire Drill.  Every company has their own policy and procedures and new employees should be told where the exits are and what to do upon exiting the building.  Many times, we don’t find out until there is a fire drill and then someone says, “Oh, yeah, do such and such, then return to work when the all clear is given.”

New employees, remember this:

  • Don’t take shortcuts
  • Use what you learn all the time
  • Be sure you understand; don’t hesitate to ask questions
  • Respect and follow warnings
  • Be sure you know what to do in emergency situations
  • As for safety materials and instructions if you have not received them

Remember the TEAM mantra applies to all of us:
Together Everyone Accomplishes More!

Think Safety and Work Safely.


Week four of National Safety Month focuses on distracted drivers.  Is there truly anyone out there who can say they haven’t taken their eyes off the road to retrieve something that fell off the car seat, or attempt to comfort a fussy child, or get caught up in a vigorous conversation with their passenger?  Have you noticed some woman putting her make-up on while driving?

I was following a lady who was weaving in the road, and when I passed her, she was reading a road map while driving!  Guess what?  I’m just as guilty, as I took my eyes off the road to see what she was doing.  And what about the guy who’s reading as he’s driving down the road? How safe are you if you meet him on the highway?

Our vehicles now have so many complex DVD players, CD players, bluetooth and satellite navigation systems that it’s a wonder we actually have time to focus on the main thing – driving!  The National Highway Transportation Highway Safety Administration reports that distracted drivers cause nearly 4 out of 5 motor vehicle crashes in the United States.  Now we get to one of the major culprits: cell phones.    In a survey taken by a major insurance company, almost 40% of teens and young adults admitted that they send and receive text messages while driving, and also said they hit someone while doing so, or were almost hit by another car whose driver was talking on their cell phone.

What are driving distractions?  Words that describe distraction are interruption, diversion, agitation, commotion, and disturbance.  Who of us, at sometime, haven’t faced any of these situations?  Our curiosity gets the best of us when something is happening away from the road, and we just have to take a glance.  Or if a song comes on the radio that we just can’t stand, we have to get it reach over to change it right away.  Are we always conscience of pedestrians and persons on bikes?  We can ask ourselves to think back to the close calls we have had, and I would bet everyone has had at least one.

Next time you get behind the wheel, think about your total commitment to safe driving.  Things that are going on in your life that might cause you to become sidetracked, are not worth losing your life over.  Try this:

  • Visit with your passengers without looking at them. (They can still hear you.)
  • Don’t eat while driving, and of course, don’t drink alcohol while driving (it’s against the law!),
  • Put your make up on before you leave the house.
  • Do your reading at home, work, or the library!
  • Set your entertainment or navigation systems before you start.
  • Strap in the kids and hope for the best.
  • Turn the cell phone off.  Your messages will be on it when you arrive safely at your destination.  (In your heart, you know it’s the right thing to do!)

More and more travelers will take to the roads during the summer months.  Always stay focused on arriving at your destination safely.  That should be the #1 priority every time you start the car.  Don’t let distractions get in your way.


Employers and insurers are now limited on what they can offer in their incentives for wellness programs due to a maze of federal rules.  Congress is considering giving employers new authority to reward their employees for healthy practices, such as exercise, better diet, weight loss and smoking cessation.  Senators on both side of the aisle are working on comprehensive health legislation.  They agree that prevention and wellness should be the centerpiece of healthcare reform.  Democrats Tom Harkin, Iowa, and Max Baucus, Montana, as well as Republicans John Cornyn, Texas, and Orrin Hatch, Utah, are taking the lead to create such motivations.

Companies have found that by building wellness programs, health costs have decreased, and created an increase in worker productivity.  Under the proposals of members of Congress, companies could obtain tax credits or subsidies for programs that offer periodic screenings for health problems or counseling for employees to understand the benefits of healthier lifestyles. There could also be financial rewards or penalties to encourage healthy behavior of their workers.

Some of the benefits that are already in place in many large companies are:

  • Free Immunizations
  • Employee Assistance Programs
  • Physical Fitness Programs
  • Exercise
  • Wellness Newsletters
  • Weight Management

Programs such as this help people control blood pressure, fight obesity, and manage other chronic conditions, such as diabetes.

Critics that are opposed to government involvement feel that employees should be rewarded for the job they do, and not be penalized if they don’t exercise, eat properly, or maintain healthy life styles.  However, federal officials feel that the rewards and penalties can be used in an ethical way.  Unhealthy behavior of some employees may affect their co-workers, such as driving up health care costs for the whole group.

If the lawmakers are successful in passing this legislation, it will enable employers to establish better health practices for their employees.  It will be interesting to see if employers’ participation grows, resulting in a healthier workforce.

Source: NYTimes


It pays to keep first aid kits in your car, home, and at work.  Generally, all workplaces have well-stocked first aid kits.  Kits should be full of supplies that are appropriate for location and planned activities.  It is a good idea for coaches of all sports for youngsters to keep a first aid kit at practice and games, and to know how to administer first aid.  Persons planning a fishing trip or camping trip may wish to fill their own kits or purchase first aid kits with basic supplies, such as:

  • Bandages
  • Alcohol pads
  • Dressings
  • Soap
  • Saline
  • Tweezers
  • Disposable gloves
  • Over the counter pain medications
  • CPR pocket mask or face shield
  • Aloe Vera gel

The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) sets the standard emblem that is on first aid kits: some are green with a white cross, while others use a red cross on a white background.  The Star of Life is associated with emergency medical services, to indicate their service, which offers appropriate care.  The six branches of the star are symbols of the six main tasks executed by rescuers through the emergency chain:

Star of Life
Star of Life

At work, be sure you know where the first aid kits are located and take a course in first aid if it is offered at your place of employment.  You never know when you may need it.  If you are going on a trip, it may be the most important thing you take with you.

Source for Star of Life: Wikipedia


We know that people are tired about reading about the H1N1 influenza virus, and hopefully, it is losing ground and will not be a worldwide pandemic.  In our articles “Pandemic Influenza”, and “Pandemic Influenza Part II”, we described what a pandemic is and how employers can best be prepared for one.  What about the country as a whole?

As was evidenced by the past threat, there was a negative effect on the stock market, travel industry, and entertainment industry, just to name a few.  In reviewing a message that was written November 10, 2005, by the Working Group on Pandemic Influenza Preparedness, and sent to Senate and House Conferees on H.R. 3010 FY 2006, Labor, Health, and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies, one would think they were reading something that was written only yesterday.  It closed by stating that the “clock is ticking as the threat is growing”.

In 2005, funding was needed for the Avian Flu (H5N1) or Bird Flu.  Attempts for funding for pandemic outbreaks have been made ever since that year; requests for $870 million in extra funding was cut from a stimulus bill that passed earlier this year.  These funds would have gone a long way toward supporting state and local health departments’ preparedness, the Strategic National Stockpiles, vaccine research and production, gloves, and other required equipment.  Stockpiled vaccines should be equally proportioned to guarantee all states have the needed medicine.  Annual resources should be available to support ongoing state and local preparedness, not just at times of emergencies.

So far, we have not been put to the full test, but sooner or later, it is feared that there will be a strain that will be a full-blown pandemic and really get our attention.  As our workforces are being depleted by layoffs and cutbacks, will there be enough public health officials and healthcare workers to take care of the demands of a true pandemic?  It’s food for thought.