U.S. Department of Labor’s OSHA chief encourages safe cleanup efforts

The U.S. Department of Labor is always concerned that the loss of life or serious injury to recovery workers won’t be added to tragedies caused by calamitous weather.  Quoting Ed Foulke, Head of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, “I encourage you to take proper precautions to avoid serious injury.  Identify the risks.  Wear personal protective equipment when working in cleanup areas.”

These words can apply to the many disasters in our country: tornadoes, floods, and fires.  Using professionally trained personnel and volunteers, recovery crews need to be informed of the special hazards they are facing before they begin their efforts, and particularly how to stay protected in areas with moving equipment and traffic.

An example of such planning includes:

  • Develop a traffic control plan, and properly train all workers involved.
  • Provide the crew with high visibility apparel and headwear that is visible day or night, and conspicuous to motorists and equipment operators.
  • Signs need to be placed well ahead of the work area to give motorists advance notice.
  • Traffic Controls such as barriers, cones, and a flag person are to be utilized.
  • Flag personnel must wear high visibility headwear and clothing.  They should stand alone while doing their duty.  Other workers should never gather around the person who is flagging traffic.
  • Crew members need to be trained not to stand between mechanical equipment and fixed objects or blind spots.

Blog4Safety says “Thank You” to the many unsung heroes who do this type of work every day as their regular job, or volunteer in times of need.
Source: OSHA


We have talked about keeping our workers safe from the hazards of doing their jobs outdoors in the heat and humidity, and how to recognize the signs of heat stroke, heat cramps, etc.  But with August just around the corner, indicating it’s time to get ready for football, cross country, and other outdoor sports, we want to focus on our youngsters.

When the temperature is 95° or higher, (and believe me, in Texas, it is!), and the humidity is 75%, this combination slows down the body’s evaporation and sweating doesn’t do its’ job to assist the cooling process.  We have found several good tips that parents and coaches should keep in mind to as their youngsters take the field:gatorade01

1.    Instruct all athletes to pre-hydrate.  Drinking at least 24 ounces of fluid prior to each workout will help.

2.    Allow the athletes to drink 10-12 ounces every 30 minutes of activity.  If they wait until they are thirsty, chances are they are already dehydrated.

3.    Do not allow athletes to drink carbonated drinks or energy drinks.  Keep plenty of water on hand; however, Gatorade has been proven to be better than plain water to replace fluids.

4.    Weigh-ins before and after practice will show how much fluid each individual loses and needs to replace.

5.    Let the players become acclimated to the hot weather.  Remember that younger persons adjust more slowly than adults to hot and humid conditions.

6.    Lighter clothing helps promote heat loss.  Helmets need to be removed periodically, as the body can cool itself more efficiently.  Helmets retain significant amounts of heat.

7.    Heat production is proportional to body weight, so be sure to observe very large or obese players for early signs of heat stress.

8.    Ask athletes if they taking antibiotics, which can cause them to be more susceptible to heat illness.

Good training is very important.  Youngsters should train for the sport rather than expect the sport to get them into shape.  Coaches can help by choosing a conditioning program that is suited for the individual athlete.  Youngsters that enjoy going out for a particular sport should be encouraged by parents and coaches to follow the rules of the game.  Those playing contact sports should have the proper equipment to decrease risks of injury.

One of the most important bits of advice that we can pass on is for parents and coaches to encourage healthy competition, not a “win at all costs” attitude, and let them have     FUN!  In return, our youngsters will enjoy the experience of teamwork and develop a positive self-image that will carry on throughout their lives.


There are still many questions surrounding the H1N1 (Swine Flu) illness that continues to strike persons throughout the world during these summer months, though not in huge numbers.  Another odd thing is that it is affecting teens and young adults, rather than older persons and young children, who are usually hit the hardest by the regular flu bug.  Health officials are concerned that when school starts in late August and early September, cases will start up again, even though cooler weather won’t have begun in many areas.  Normal flu cases are more common in cold months.

These five U.S. vaccine makers have started producing a vaccine to hopefully guard the population against the Swine Flu:

  • Novartis,
  • Sanofi Pasteur
  • MedImmune
  • CSL
  • Glaxo Smith Kline.

The National Institute of Allergic and Infectious Diseases are sponsoring the tests of these vaccines at the following vaccine and treatment units:

  • Baylor College of Medicine – Houston;
  • Childrens Hospital Medical Center – Cincinnati;
  • Emory University – Atlanta;
  • Group Health Cooperative – Seattle;
  • University of Maryland – Baltimore;
  • Saint Louis University – St. Louis;
  • University of Iowa – Iowa City;
  • Vanderbilt University – Nashville;

The five vaccine makers will also begin separate clinical tests in the United States, Europe, and Australia.

On July 29th, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention vaccine advice committee will vote on who will be first in line to receive the vaccine.  It is felt that children age 0-4 years, school children, youngsters with asthma, pregnant women, and critical emergency response workers should be high on the priority list.

It may be necessary for persons to receive their normal three-in-one seasonal flu vaccine a little earlier than usual, in order to be prepared to get the new vaccine once it is approved.

If there is a new wave of this illness in September, the vaccine will probably be given that month, rather than waiting until November or later.

Source: CDC


From early childhood, it’s always been easier to find someone else to blame when we slip up.

It’s funny how that seems to be built into our personalities, some of us more so than others.

A friend once noted:

“My kids were always innocent until proven guilty.  There was a bad guy somewhere in the picture, but it wasn’t them!  My daughter even blamed a little puppy for following her from school. I am sure she didn’t encourage the puppy at all……………..”

At home or on the job, we all seem to want to place the blame on someone else when things happen.  When there is an accident at work, home or play, the important thing is to not play the “blame game”, but fix the problem.  If you notice someone acting out all the time, they may be taking their problems out on others.  There are persons who feel that the whole world is out to get them.  It’s our responsibility to help them understand that everyone makes mistakes, and together, with teamwork, it’s going to be corrected.

We need to make a commitment to workplace excellence and create a safe, healthy environment.  When you notice someone you work with exhibiting safe behaviors, give them a pat on the back, and maybe others will follow suit.  It’s amazing how far a compliment can go; it’s much better than constant criticism.

Various Safety Posters
Various Safety Posters
Visual aids are always helpful.  We notice posters that encourage good attitudes and safe practices.  One poster I remember from working in a hospital was “Loose Lips Sink Ships”, (a World War II theme that depicted a sinking battleship).  This poster was to remind workers of the current HIPAA law, prohibiting employees from divulging personal patient information without a release from that patient.  I remember that picture from years past, and I bet each one of you can remember some poster at work that stayed in your mind.

If you can “Walk the Safety Walk” and “Talk the Safety Talk” you will spend your time doing that, not blaming the other guy.  And, if for some unforeseen reason, something happens that is your fault, just admit it and go on.  If you are thinking safety, it will only be a minor glitch, and hopefully an easy fix!


Not in law enforcement, but in Major League Baseball, an article in the Fort Worth Star Telegram Saturday, July 25, stated that Vicente Padilla, pitcher for the Rangers has been confirmed as having the H1N1 virus. (According to television news, he is the first professional player in any sport that has contacted the virus.) For the past several days, announcers for the Rangers have been mentioning during broadcasts of Rangers games that various players have been ill with flu-like symptoms.

Thad Levine, Assistant General Manager of the Rangers, reported that cultures have been submitted to the health department, but at the present time Padilla is the only team member with the virus, and that he is feeling better and expected to possibly play next Tuesday in Arlington.  Other players have been experiencing flu-like symptoms.  The team is taking all the standard precautions, and after receiving advice from team doctors and MLB officials, will not treat this any differently than common flu.  Tamiflu, a widely-used medicine to fight influenza, has been prescribed to all team members who have had signs of the illness.

Many more of these stories affecting sports teams will probably surface, as it is predicted by health officials that we will be facing the H1N1 virus head-on until a new vaccine can be developed.  Five different U S vaccine makers are working vigorously to produce a vaccine that will help prevent this virus that is spreading throughout the world.

Until then, the best ways to prevent contacting H1N1 are to keep yourself in good condition, wash your hands with warm soap and water, or use hand sanitizer.  Many times germs from viruses remain on doorknobs, cell phones, countertops, stair rails, and other things that are used by more than one person, so pay attention to things you must touch, and again, wash your hands often.

Source: Ft. Worth Star Telegram


More than eight million Americans have a problem that isn’t easily corrected:  macular degeneration.  There is a small area at the back of the eye called the macula that allows us to see fine detail.  When the macula becomes damaged, vision toward the center of the area we are focusing on becomes dimmer and hard to distinguish.  Two types of macular degeneration exist: wet and dry.  The dry type is more common and reduces central vision more slowly.

Wet macular degeneration happens less frequently, when abnormal blood vessels develop in the back of the eye and break and leak fluid underneath the macula.

Most cases of macular degeneration are associated with aging.  The American Academy of Opthalmology recommends that persons between the ages of 40 – 54 years have a comprehensive eye examination every two to four years.  Between the ages of 55 – 64, they should have these exams every one to three years, and after age 65, have one every one to two years.

Experts have made the following suggestions that we all can apply, regardless of age, in order to try to prevent the onset of macular degeneration:

  • Eat fish.
  • Limit fats in the diet.
  • Exercise.
  • Have a healthy lifestyle, and maintain a normal weight.
  • Eat plenty of fruits, nuts, and dark green leafy vegetables.
  • As your physician about taking antioxidant vitamins containing zinc.
  • Be extra vigilant if there’s a member of your family that has had it.
  • Don’t smoke; it increases the risk five times more than for non-smokers.

If you begin to notice changes in your vision, or see blurry lines on reading materials, consult your physician.  He/she may recommend that you see an optometrist or ophthalmologist.  Treatments that can possibly slow vision loss include:

  • Photodynamic surgery;
  • Injections of medicine into eye;
  • Laser surgery.

These procedures are done only by opthalmologists.  Other aids that may help those whose vision is getting poor are magnifying glasses, better lighting, and large print books and newspapers.  A study done last fall showed that people who live in sunny locations are more susceptible to macular degeneration, as the rays from sun can damage the cells of the retina, so wearing sunglasses with UV protection can help.

So, do as Popeye does: eat your spinach, and keep those eyes healthy!


Americans make almost 120 million visits to emergency departments each year.  Most of these are for injury or poisoning.  Not every ER visit is needed.  There are lots of folks who would prefer to go to the ER than wait in a clinic during normal hours.  However, it is frustrating for physicians to get waked up in the middle of the night to attend to a patient with a sore throat or some other minor illness that could be taken care of in the clinic, rather than a costly visit to the hospital ER.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently reported that about one in eight ER visits was for a non-urgent reason.

You need to have a plan: Before an emergency strikes:

  • Know the location to the closest emergency room.
  • Lower your risk for this need by caring for chronic conditions you might have, by taking your medications regularly.
  • Have all your drug, allergy and medical information together so you can bring it in case you must go to the ER.

The American College of Emergency Physicians report that any of these warning signs suggest medical emergencies:

  • Shortness of breath, trouble breathing
  • Uncontrollable bleeding
  • Fainting, dizziness, or weakness
  • Sudden, severe pain or unusual belly pain
  • Pressure or pain in the chest or upper belly
  • Severe vomiting or diarrhea
  • Coughing or throwing up blood
  • Changes in vision or mental status
  • Trouble speaking
  • Feeling suicidal

If you think someone has had a stroke, remember this helpful information:  Think about the first three letters S-T-R.
S  Smile – Ask the individual to smile.
T  Talk – Tell the person to speak a simple sentence.
R  Raise – Ask person to raise both arms.

If there is a problem doing any one of these things, call 911 immediately.

By all means, if you have emergency needs, go to an ER.  Hospital personnel strive hard to furnish quality healthcare.  But remember, that emergency department is just what it says: Emergency!


Employers must take care by conducting extensive hazard assessments to ensure that potential injury to arm and hands of workers is avoided.  The employer should determine which type of protection is needed for the utmost security, by selecting the proper glove, finger guards, arm coverings, or elbow-length glove that is appropriate for the task at hand.

There are many numerous selections of cotton work gloves, leather gloves and hand protection.  We encourage you to consider what hazards exist in your work surroundings and then make your choice. (There’s even gloves with a light on them for working under the hood of a car!)  Whether you are an employer, employee, or performing jobs at home, it’s important to make the right choices.

Factors that should influence your Personal Protective Equipment decision in choosing gloves:

  • Types of chemicals you are exposed to.  Also the nature of contact (splash, total immersion.)
  • Duration of contact.  Area of body that requires protection.
  • Grip.  (Dry, Wet, or Oily).
  • Thermal Protection.
  • Size and Comfort.
  • Abrasion/Resistance Required.

Gloves generally fall into four groups:

Different styles of gloves available
Different styles of gloves available

  • Leather, Canvas or Metal Mesh
  • Fabric and Coated Fabric
  • Chemical and Liquid-resistant
  • Insulated Rubber Gloves

We hope by handing you this information, you will be able to choose the most fitting gloves.

Source: OSHA


Work-related eye injuries alone cost over $300 million dollars per year, in lost production time, worker compensation, and medical expenses.

OSHA says there are two main reasons:

(1) Workers weren’t wearing any eye protection. By some estimates, as many as three out of five injured workers weren’t wearing eye protection at the time of their accident.

(2) Workers were wearing the wrong kind of protection-the eyewear did not effectively protect against the specific hazard they faced.

Employers should know the risk factors facing their employees and properly train the workers to wear the appropriate eye protection prior to beginning their duties.  If employees determine there are chances of eye injuries occurring that have not been addressed, they need to immediately notify their supervisor.  Companies should strictly enforce their personal protective equipment policies.

Workers who are exposed to hazards such as molten metal, dust, dirt, wood chips, liquid chemical splashes, flying particles, gases or vapors, caustic liquids, infection-related materials, and light radiation must wear the appropriate eye and face protection.  Improper or poor-fitting eyewear will not ensure safety from eye injury.  If workers wear prescription lens, there are safety glasses that comfortably fit over the prescription glasses, or some safety eyewear can be made with the prescription in them.  Contact lens wearers must wear eye/face protection when working in hazardous settings.

Types of EyeProtection:Types of Eye Protection

  • Safety Spectacles – Impact resistant lenses; safety frames are usually made from metal or plastic. Side shields may be added for further protection.
  • Welding Shields – Vulcanized fiber/fiberglass with filtered lens, protect from infrared burns, radiant light sparks, slag chips, and metal.  Shades on the shields are numbered, and the welder must use the correct shade number according to tasks being done to secure eyes from harmful light radiation.
  • Laser Safety Goggles –Protect from intense concentrations of laser light. These are special goggles.
  • Face Shields – Sheets of transparent plastic, (sometimes polarized), which goes from eyebrows to below chin and across width of head.  They do not absorb impacts; however, they work well with goggles or safety spectacles against impact hazards.  Protect face from splashes, dust, sprays, etc.

One could lose their eyesight in a matter of seconds; therefore, it makes sense to take a little time to put on protective eyewear before entering the jobsite.

Source: OSHA


This is the time of year when theme and amusements parks are packed with kids and their parents or grandparents.  While they are anticipating going to magical and fun activities, it’s a good idea to plan how you can make it a safe experience for the whole group.

Here are some tips that should help:

  • If you are going to a large theme park, check a map for the locations of first aid stations.  It’s a big help if you know where to go for assistance, should there be an accident.
  • Carry Benadryl or some type of allergy medication in case of food or other allergies.
  • Accompany small children to the restroom.  They get to a certain age that they think they can go alone, but it’s better to be safe than sorry.
  • Be sure you are well-hydrated two to three days before your trip.  Continue drinking more water and less sugary drinks during the park visits.
  • It helps to take short breaks. Don’t push all day long to be sure you see everything.  A rest in the shade, or even a return to your hotel for a while will make the whole group less stressed.
  • Take plenty of sunscreen, hand sanitizer, or wipes.  Wear sunglasses, hats/visors and comfortable shoes.  It is also a good idea to wear socks and running/walking shoes rather than sandals.
  • Dress your kids in brightly colored clothing, so you can easily spot them, should you become separated.  Having just returned from a four-day theme park trip, I noticed several groups were wearing identical T-shirts, which made it easier for them to find each other.
  • Cell phones are a great way for families to communicate with their teenagers who want to do their thing, while moms and dads take the little ones to ride or see shows.
  • If the rides have restrictions, such as height limits, don’t try to put your child on something they are too small for.  If you have health problems such as high blood pressure, pay attention to the warnings posted at the high-speed rides.

Most park attendants are there to ensure their visitors have a safe and fun experience.  If you have questions or need assistance, they will be happy to help you.  These parks have safety policies and procedures; however, if you have had any unsafe experiences, be sure to let them know.