ARE YOU READY FOR A FOURTH OF JULY “BIG BANG?”

As we stated yesterday, June and July are slated as “National Fireworks Safety Month.”  Probably there are many “eager beavers” out there that are already stocking up on fireworks.  Because of drought conditions in many parts of the country, fireworks will be banned.  Please observe warnings from county/city officials. 

Judy Comoletti, National Fire Protection Association’s Division Manager of Public Education, states: “Fireworks are dangerous and unpredictable, especially in the hands of amateurs.  The few seconds of pleasure those fireworks may bring are not worth risking injury, permanent scarring, or even death.”  Wooded areas, homes, and even automobiles have become engulfed in flames because of fireworks.  (Haven’t we had enough wildfires already?)  Fireworks-related fires have typically caused at least $20 million in property loss each year for recent years.  Bottle rockets or other types of rockets are some of the main causes of structure fire property loss. 

Dr. John Hall, NFPA’s Division Manager of Fire Analysis and Research says, “when things go wrong with fireworks, they go very wrong, very fast, far faster than any fire protective provisions can reliably respond.”

We mentioned yesterday that more than 8,000 Americans spent part of the July 4th in emergency rooms because of fireworks injuries.  Contusions, lacerations and foreign bodies in the eye, in addition to permanent loss of vision are just part of the injuries caused by fireworks.  However, 1,600 eye injuries tells us that the sight of shooting off fireworks for a few minutes’ thrill is not worth gambling on your vision, or hurting any other part of the body. 

Fireworks must be treated with respect, if you plan to shoot them off.  Read all the warnings and cautions and use common sense.  As we said earlier, if there is a burn ban, forget it.  If you should see someone misusing fireworks, stop them.  Do not let children under 12 handle sparklers.  Fireworks and alcohol don’t mix; have a “designated shooter.” 

Most people do not want to risk losing a home that they have worked their life for by playing around with fireworks.  Public fireworks displays are one of the safest alternatives to using fireworks on the Fourth of July.  Conducted by trained professionals, these displays are the safest and smartest fireworks alternative for anyone, because they are established under controlled settings and regulations.  After these displays or any other time, children should never pick up fireworks that may be left over, because they could discharge by still being active.  Children should always tell an adult if they find fireworks. 

Facts worth repeating (in case they haven’t all been mentioned):

  • More fires are reported in the U.S. on July 4th than any other day of the year, and fireworks account for more than half of those fires, more than any other cause of fire.
  • In 2009, fireworks caused an estimated 18,000  reported fires, including 1,300 total structure fires, 400 vehicle fires, and 16,300 outside and other fires.  These fires resulted in no reported civilian deaths, 30 civilian injuries, and $38 million in direct property damage.
  • In 2009, U.S. hospital emergency rooms treated an estimated 8,800 for fireworks related injuries; 53% of 2009 emergency room fireworks-related injuries were to the extremities and 42% were to the head.
  • The risk of fireworks injuries was highest for children ages 10-14, with more than twice the risk for the general population.
  • Few people understand the associated risks – devastating burns, other injuries, fires, and even death, permanent scarring, loss of vision, dismemberment that could result. 
  • Amateur fireworks use endangers not only the users, but also bystanders and surrounding property and structures. 

One look at all the wildfires that are happening throughout the country easily displays the devastation that one spark can cause.  How about giving our firefighters a break this year?  There are some spectacular live fireworks shows on television, and with the HD quality of the pictures you see, pop some popcorn and watch it at home.  That way you won’t have to fight the mosquitoes or traffic!  Have a safe one!  P.S.  Please keep Fido in a safe place (on the couch with you), or in a room where the noise won’t frighten him.  Animals are more sensitive to noise, so keep that in mind. For all they know, the popping sounds could be guns. Thanks.

 

 

Source: NFPA, Firewise.org

 

ARE YOU READY FOR A SAFE JULY 4TH?

Both June and July are designated as National Fireworks Safety Month by Prevent Blindness America, who urges Americans to celebrate safely by leaving fireworks to the professionals.  According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, (CPSC), almost 6,000 Americans spent part of their Fourth of July holiday in the emergency room in 2009 due to fireworks injuries.   Of those, fireworks caused an estimated 1,600 eye injuries, which included contusions, lacerations and foreign bodies in the eye.  Some injuries even caused permanent vision loss. 

According to the National Fire Protection Association, “safe and sane” fireworks cause more injuries than illegal fireworks, especially to preschool children.  For children under the age of 5, half of the total injuries were from sparklers.  Do you have any idea how hot a sparkler becomes?  According to the NFPA, the tip of a sparkler burns at a temperature of more than 1,200 degrees Fahrenheit, which is hot enough to cause third-degree burns. ( By comparison, water boils at 212 degrees F; cakes bake at 350 degrees F; wood burns at 575 degrees F; and glass melts at 900 degrees F.) 

Children ages 15 and younger make up around 39 per cent of fireworks injuries.   Prevent Blindness America, the nation’s oldest eye health and safety organization, supports the development and enforcement of bans on the importation, sale and use of all fireworks and sparklers, except for authorized public displays by competent licensed operators. The non-profit group believes it is the only effective means of eliminating the social and economic impact of fireworks-related trauma and damage. 

“We encourage everyone to enjoy the Fourth of July holiday this year without using consumer fireworks,” said Hugh R. Parry, president and CEO of Prevent Blindness America.  “Whether you’re attending community events, family picnics or public displays by fireworks professionals, we wish you and your family a safe Independence Day.”

In case of an eye-related accident, Prevent Blindness America also offers its “First Aid for Eye Emergencies” sticker in both English and Spanish, free to the public, and recommends the following should an eye injury occur:

If the eye or eyelid is cut or punctured,

  • DO NOT wash out the eye with water.
  • DO NOT try to remove an object stuck in the eye.
  • Cover the eye with a rigid shield without pressure.  The bottom half of a paper cup may be used.  See a doctor or go to the emergency room immediately.

If there are specks in the eye,

  • DO NOT rub the eye.
  • Use an eye wash or let tears wash out specks or particles;
  • Lift the upper eyelid outward and down over the lower lid;
  • If the speck doesn’t wash out, keep the eye closed, bandage and see a doctor or go to the emergency room.

It would be wise to have a first aid kit handy, to be prepared for any type of fireworks accidents at home.  This is the beginning of summer fun; don’t spoil it by risking injury to the eyes or any other part of the body.  The best way to ensure that your family doesn’t suffer from fireworks injuries is to leave the displays to trained professionals.  It may seem that they are having all the fun, but it isn’t that easy to put on the fantastic shows that they provide without training and hard work. 

For more information on fireworks safety, or to request a free copy of the Safe Summer Celebrations brochure or the First Aid for Eye Emergencies sticker, call (800) 331-2020 or log on to preventblindness.org.

Tomorrow, we will talk about other risks involving fireworks.  Till then, be thinking of other ways you want to spend your holiday, safely!

Source: NFPA, Prevent Blindness America

TURN THE PHONE OFF WHILE DRIVING, PLEASE!

Continuing with this important message about safety while driving (featuring cell phone use), the National Safety Council is using the final week of National Safety Month to focus on the theme: On the Road – Off the Phone!  Yesterday, we gave statistics that involve crashes on U.S. highways, many attributed to distracted driving, and that distracted driving has been added to the top leading factors in fatal and serious injury crashes, along with alcohol and speeding.  Using a cell phone while driving can be a serious distraction. 

Drivers must understand the full impact of driving while talking on cell phones with either handheld or hands-free phones.  We want to explain how cognitively complex it is to talk on the phone and drive a vehicle at the same time, and why this drains the brain’s resources.  We like to think of ourselves as being able to “multitask” in today’s society.  Even though you may complete a phone coversation while driving and arrive safely, you did not “multitask” and you did not accomplish both tasks with optimal focus and effectiveness.

Our brains cannot perform two tasks at the same time.  The brain handles tasks sequentially, switching between one task and another. Yes, they can juggle tasks very quickly, which makes us think that we are doing two things at the same time.  However, we are switching attention between tasks, doing only one at a time.  The brain has to decide what to pay attention to.  This is known as “attention switching.”  When you are talking on a cell phone while driving, your brain is dealing with divided attention.  You may be more interested in the conversation than the warnings of navigation and safety hazards.  You may be so involved in the phone conversation that you fail to see a red light or stop sign, until it is too late. 

According to Barry Kantowitz, Director of University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute, thinking about a conversation requires mental capability made for safe driving.  He doesn’t hold out much hope for hands-free devices because they tend to reduce the amount of concentration required to process a phone conversation.  University of Kansas psychology professor, Paul Atchley states, “hands-free devices are only safer under very limited circumstances”.  In his work, hands-free devices show a reduction in attention in drivers 20-years-old, to the same attention level they see in many 85-year-old drivers.

We think it’s easy to talk on a cell phone while taking a walk, but even then your judgment can be impaired.  If that’s the case, think how much more responsibility you should show when you are behind the wheel.  Listening to music does not result in lower response time, according to studies.  But when the same drivers talk on cell phones, they do have a slower response time.  Loud music, however, can prevent drivers from hearing sirens and other warnings they should be alert for.

These articles are meant for drivers of every age.  It is our hope that thinking about this will keep yourself and others on the road safer.  I see mothers driving down the streets with little children in the back seat,  but they are more engaged in texting and talking on the phone.  All of us can name an incident where there was a sign of inattention by a driver, (even a close call!)  I know someone who can’t seem to talk while driving without turning to address her audience in the back seat.  We can all make a list of things that shouldn’t be done while driving, let me go first! 

But this week’s focus is on leaving the cell phone off while driving.  This is not too much to ask of anyone.  It would be great, if technology could do it for us; then we wouldn’t have to trust each other to do the right thing!   Please drive safely!  Remember, you must pay attention to the other guy, as well as yourself.

ON THE ROAD – OFF THE PHONE!

Of all the articles we have presented, please read this one!  Being the last week of National Safety Month, and sponsored by the National Safety Council, this week’s title can have more impact on drivers than anything, if they will pay attention!  The theme is “On the Road – OFF the Phone!”  After reading information that the National Safety Council has to offer, I am now convinced that when I start my car, my cell phone will be turned OFF. Whatever messages I have will be there when I arrive at my destination.  If I need to make a call, I will do it when I am stopped for a soft drink or break and the car is parked. 

We have written about this subject as other bloggers, all in the interest of keeping drivers safe: distracted driving, drunk or drugged driving, texting and driving, and all the hazards of driving a vehicle that can cost your life or the lives of many innocent persons.  In the United States, so far this year, 626,997 (count ‘em!) crashes involving drivers using cell phones while driving have already happened.  That’s one crash every 29 seconds!

Although I could use the hands-free device in my car, I really don’t like to use it.  Now, I am finding that hands-free driving is really no safer.  Vision is the most important sense for safe driving.  Many times, drivers using hands-free phones (and those using handheld phones) have a tendency to “look at” but not “see” objects.  There are estimates that show that drivers using cell phones look but fail to see up to 50 per cent of the information in their driving environment.  This is what researchers call “inattention blindness,” similar to that of tunnel vision.  They are looking out the windshield, but they do not process everything in the roadway  that they must know to effectively monitor their surroundings, seek and identify potential hazards, and respond to unexpected situations. (Primarily, because they are too engrossed in their phone conversation!)

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that 11 per cent of drivers at any given time are using cell phones, (there are more than 285.6 million wireless subscribers in the U.S., many who admit that they regularly talk or text while driving.  The National Safety Council estimates more than one in four motor vehicle crashes involve cell phone use at the time of the crash.  This shows us that cell phone use while driving has become a serious public health threat.  A few states have passed laws making it illegal to use a handheld cell phone while driving; this gives the false impression that using a hands-free phone is safe. 

At one time, alcohol and speeding were the leading factors in fatal and serious injury crashes; now “distractions” has been added to the list.  Although texting is clearly a serious distraction, NSC data shows drivers talking on cell phones are involved in more crashes.  More people are talking on cell phones while driving more often, and for longer periods of time than they are texting.  In 2008, an estimated 200,000 crashes involved texting or emailing, versus 1.4 million crashes involving talking on cell phones. 

 I recently advised my grandson, who is in the Graduated Drivers Licensing program, to make that a habit.  After learning this information, I am more than convinced that I told him to do the right thing; whether or not he will, is his and his parents’ decision.  However, I am going to turn mine OFF while driving!  I will let my friends and family know that the phone is off while I am driving, and they can leave a message.  That’s one more way to solve the problem; let callers know that you won’t be answering while driving.

Hands-free devices often are seen as a solution to the risks of driver distraction because they help eliminate two risks – visual, looking away from the road and manual, removing your hands off the steering wheel.  However, the third type of distraction can occur when using cell phones while driving, cognitive – taking your mind off the road!  Hands-free devices do not eliminate cognitive distraction.  Cognitive distraction will be our subject for tomorrow.  Till then, hang up, and drive safely!

SAFETY IN GRAIN HANDLING FACILITIES

Both employers and employees must know all the precautions to protect themselves against potentially hazardous conditions in grain handling facilities.  Grain handling facilities are those such as grain elevators, feed mills, flour and rice mills, dry corn mills, dust palletizing plants, soybean flaking operations, and the dry grinding operations of soycake.  Many safety and health hazards are associated with grain handling operations.  Suffocation and falls are the two leading causes of death at grain handling facilities.  Other risk factors are potential flash fires and explosions as a result of excessive amounts of airborne grain dust, and electrocutions and injuries from improperly guarded machinery.  OSHA issued the grain handling facilities standard (29CFR 1910.272) to reduce injuries and deaths in the grain handling industry.  This standard requires workers to be trained in the identification and control of grain handling hazards.  Health and respiratory hazards are also presented by exposures to grain dust and airborne contaminants. 

The most important facet of preventing health issues and injury risks in all industrial activities is proper training.  Prior to new employees starting work, when changes occur in assignments, or if employees are exposed to new or unfamiliar hazards – the proper training must be applied.  Also, when workers are assigned to infrequent, special, or suspected hazardous tasks (such as bin entry or handling toxic or flammable substances), they must have been trained correctly.  Specific procedures included are performing housekeeping, hot work, lockout/tagout, and preventative maintenance.  Grain handling facilities are required to implement a hot work permit system.  This type of work includes electric or gas welding, cutting, grinding, brazing, or any similar activity that produces a flame or spark.  The permit guarantees that the employer and operating personnel are aware that hot work is being performed and that accurate safety precautions have been taken.

 We have talked about confined spaces in previous articles.  In grain handling, there will be a necessity to enter silos, bins, and tanks.  As mentioned before, atmospheric testing in confined spaces is mandatory.  These tests must be conducted before entry (by experts) and continued until work is finished.  Ventilation, supplemented by the use of appropriate air supplied respirators, shall be provided when: oxygen levels are less than 19.5%. 

At home or work, it seems that housekeeping is extremely vital, especially so in industrial settings.  OSHA standard allows “a maximum accumulation of no more than 1/8 inch of dust in priority housekeeping areas of grain elevators.”  When this amount of grain dust accumulates, steps must be taken immediately for its removal.  All lockout-tagout procedures required by 29 CFR 1910.147 and OSHA standard should be observed when entering grain elevators or silos for maintenance.  If a person enters a bin, silo, or tank from the top, they must wear a full parachute-type body harness with a lifeline.  This holds the body vertical and in case of an accident, makes easier removal of the victim through small access hatches.  A well-trained and properly equipped attendant is required to maintain communication with the personnel in the confined area during the whole time, and to provide help when needed. 

Workers in grain handling face serious dangers of suffocation, entanglement, falling, fires, explosions, electrocutions, and injuries from improperly guarded machinery.  These dangers will be eliminated if employers implement a safe grain handling program, train their employees on the safe handling of grain, and both employer and workers carefully follow the procedures to ensure the safe handling of grain.  

As we reported earlier, in an article about the Top Ten OSHA violations and penalties assessed for 2010, Violation of (29 CFR 1910.272) Grain Handling Facilities came in at #9 on the most penalties assessed list.   At least 25 U.S. workers were killed in grain entrapments last year, and there were more grain entrapments in 2010 than in any other year since researchers at Purdue University began collecting data on the subject in 1978.  The following is a list of violations that received citations, many of them classified as serious, in 2010:

  • Failure to train in safety precautions and bin entry procedures;
  • No observer during bin entry;
  • No rescue equipment;
  • Not testing atmosphere in the space to be entered;
  • Failure to have deflagration controls for combustible dust;
  • Walk working surfaces without guarding in place;
  • Failure to safeguard employees from electrical hazards such as broken electrical conduits;
  • Lack of signage and hazard communication procedures;
  • Failure to evaluate work spaces for confined space entry permits;
  • No confined space entry program;
  • Non-entry retrieval system;
  • Lack of personal protective equipment;
  • Lack of electrical training;
  • Lack of combustible dust controls;
  • Failure to train employees in combustible grain dust hazards. 

All workers should have the assurance that these things are not going to happen to them; that their company would purposely do everything possible to guarantee a safe return home after their shift every day.  Let’s hope that 2011 will result in fewer violations and safer, well-informed and properly trained employees.

Source: OSHA, Texas Dept. of Insurance (TDI)

STAY AWAY FROM THESE SUMMER MONSTERS!

Just about the time we get all ready for summer outings, here comes bad news….Bugs!  The first segment of this article originally appeared on SafetyXChange.org, written by Catherine Jones, and is used with permission from the copyright holder, Bongarde Media.  Ms. Jones shared some interesting facts about a little, but well-known bothersome critter.  The second installment came from last night’s news – another worry especially for our friends up north and in the midwest.

Question: What can:

  • Jump 150 times its own length;
  • Consume 15 times its own body weight in blood every day;
  • Lie dormant – without food – for several months;
  • Reproduce within 36 to 48 hours after its first meal; and
  • Transmit two types of bubonic plague?

Answer: The tiny but mighty flea.

As temperatures rise, so does the possibility of flea infestations. These little blood-suckers not only torment your cats and dogs, they also pose a health concern to your human family members. To see if you have fleas in your home, take a walk through the house in white socks and watch for the 1/25-1/4 inch cling-ons. If you see just one flea, chances are there are more than 100 of its friends and relations nearby. To rid your home of fleas:

  • Thoroughly wash your pet’s bedding. Better still, throw it out.
  • Talk to your vet about safely treating your pet for fleas.
  • Prevent re-infestation by using a flea control program in your garage, porch and yard.
  • Thoroughly vacuum your carpets, rugs, floors and baseboards
  • Place the used vacuum bag in an airtight plastic bag and get it into the outdoor trashcan immediately.

Next, just as summer is here, we have a new disease to worry about, (at least I’ve never heard of it): babesiosis.  The black-legged deer tick sometimes carries the parasite and can cause babesiosis, rather than lyme disease, which other ticks may carry.   These tiny, poppy-seed sized ticks are affecting pets and people who live in the North Eastern and upper Midwest states.  Their bite will not leave a rash, so it is not as easy to detect as bites from other critters.  It usually must stay attached 24-36 hours to transmit the parasite.  According to the Centers for Disease Control, this can be dangerous, especially for those with weakened immune systems.  Symptoms are similar to flu.

If you plan to go outdoors in grassy areas, please take the following precautions:

  • Walk in the center of trails that are already cleared.
  • Stay away from tick habitats, if possible.
  • Wear socks, long pants, long-sleeved shirts.
  • Apply repellents to skin and clothing.
  • Read instructions on the proper way to use repellents on children.
  • Check your pets and clothing before you return indoors.

If you find one of this type of tick, remove it with tweezers, and try to keep it alive, in order to take to the doctor’s office to be checked out.  If the diagnosis shows babesiosis, effective treatments are available and most always successful.

Summer is no fun without outings.  Don’t get “ticked off”!  There are so many ways to protect yourself and your pets, you should be able to get out there and stay “bug-free”!

FOR A GOOD CAUSE………….

Over 42,000 troops have been physically wounded during the current military conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Hundreds of thousands more are estimated to be recovering from invisible wounds of war, including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), major depression, and traumatic brain injury (TBI).  Thousands of wounded warriors and caregivers receive support each year through Wounded Warrior Programs that are uniquely structured to nurture the mind and body, and encourage economic empowerment and engagement. 

I noticed a product on our website: www.tasco-safety.com, which are Digital Camo gloves manufactured by MCR Safety, who donate a portion of the profits from the sales of this particular glove to the Wounded Warriors Project.  Later, I noticed the same logo on another product that I had in our home.  This made me want to know more about this movement and how many people are involved in helping our deserving troops.  

My research showed that Wynonna has an album dedicated to the troops, as well as other celebrities, such as Toby Keith, and Trace Atkins, who have performed charity gigs.  Listed among other celebrities are Sean Connery, Al Roker, Donald Trump, Jimmy Buffett, Mike Myers, Joan Jett, Sam Waterston, Tony Sirico, and many others, who have held benefits or helped in other ways.  Athletes are not being left out, either.  Minnesota Vikings’, Jared Allen, formed Jared Allen’s Homes for Wounded Warriors in 2009, after he returned home from USO trips to military bases in the Middle East.  His is a non-profit organization created for the sole purpose of raising money to build or modify the homes of America’s injured military veterans so they are handicap accessible and comfortable.  One can also find a large number of businesses and financial services that support this worthy cause. 

Tough Mudder raised more than $1 million in donations for the WWP services.  In case you are like me and haven’t heard of this, Tough Mudder is a fast-growing and highly-recognized endurance series, with nine remaining tour stops in 2011.  Unlike other endurance events or mud runs, Tough Mudder events are constructed by British Special Forces and consist of a 10-12 mile trail run over rugged terrain, steep inclines, water hazards and 18-25 military-style obstacles testing one’s toughness, fitness, strength, stamina, mental grit, teamwork, and camaraderie.  Tough Mudder events are not timed and are won by all those capable of completing the course – a category that to no surprise included wounded warriors themselves! 

Efforts have been made to pass the Veteran’s Traumatic Brain Injury Rehabilitative Services Improvement Act of 2011, which would require the VA to provide veterans who have TBI with ongoing, long-term rehabilitative care, including support services to maximize independence and quality of life.  Learn more about the bill and how you can contact your Representatives and Senators to ask for their support on this important bill; this information can be found on the Wounded Warriors Project website.  

Wounded Warriors was founded in 2003, with the purpose of providing a voice for wounded warriors and their families.  This is accomplished by working with Congress and the Federal government to promote forward-moving policy, organizing calls-to-action, and keeping our constituency informed about changes in laws and regulations.  Wounded Warriors Project creates, advocates, and lobbies for legislation that will support wounded warriors and their families into the future.  They also find jobs for our service men and women who are anxious to return to the mainstream.

By raising public awareness and enlisting the public’s aid for the needs of severely injured service men and women, this project  also allows  them to help each other, while providing unique services and programs to meet their needs.  Isn’t it time we all do what we can to thank our heroes, those who have returned from the most dangerous places in the world, and have had their lives changed forever? 

Source: Wounded Warriors Project

MORE ABOUT SLIPS, TRIPS, AND FALLS!

Because slips, trips, and falls are a major source of both home and industrial injuries, there are a few more things we need to present to you today.  Whose fault is it when someone falls?  There is certainly no room anywhere – at home, school, or work – where an intentional prank causes someone to fall.  You know, the old “pull the chair out from behind someone,” trick, where the one sitting winds up on the floor.  As we get older, we realize that a fall can have lasting health effects on people. 

Do you think that people get hurt because they just don’t respect safety regulations and procedures?  Normally this isn’t the case, according to studies.  It is usually a brief moment of inattention that ends in disaster, not a person’s indifference to safety procedures.  If you think about it, inattention can be identified as the root cause of injury in most every category of accident analysis (traffic mishaps, power tool injuries, aggression incidents, etc.).  In regard to slips, trips, and falls, inattention can lead to regrettable events ranging from a simple bruised shin to extremely serious consequences such as concussions, or even death.  Have you heard someone say, “I guess I just wasn’t thinking,” during an accident investigation?  Sometimes we are too wrapped up in a conversation, or thinking about the next job, or a personal problem or activity, that we forget to pay attention to the hazards around us.  From the State Office of Risk Management, Texas, here is an “Inattention Test” that might help:  Do you:

  1. Get bored easily?
  2. Lose track of conversations (having to ask, “What were you saying?” (Yes, I do!)
  3. Suddenly return to reality (after driving past your exit on the freeway)?
  4. Know your job so well you could   “…..do it with your eyes closed?”
  5. Daydream?

These examples and others show potential for inattention.  A person’s state of mind is his/her own personal property, and, of course, cannot be controlled by a boss or the workplace.  As a result, the supervisor must frequently emphasize to the workforce the consequences a loss of focus could cause.  Stay alert and don’t lose sight of what you are doing.  If you get in a hurry because you lost your train of thought, you might start walking too fast, or running, and lose your balance.  Distraction, not watching where you are going, carrying materials that obstruct vision and speed are common elements in many on-the-job injuries.  So, plan, stay alert, and pay attention!  Employees should report any slips, trips, or fall hazards that they identify at work.  Posters displaying fall warnings also should be placed in areas that are frequented.  Training is one of the most important keys to preventing falls at work.  No horseplay should be allowed.  It’s o.k. to have a little fun, but not at the expense of a personal injury and lost time at work. 

Last, but not least, at work or home, the lighting should be good.  Be sure you are aware of the location of light switches, and have a flashlight handy, too.  Proper lighting ensures that employees using stairways or elevators can be safe.  In homes with staircases, you certainly want adequate lighting.  Another tip for home or work: never use a chair as a ladder!  That’s an accident just waiting to happen.  If you go outside, be sure you have shoes that are safe to walk on wet sidewalks or slippery areas.  Older citizens usually pay a higher price after experiencing a fall, such as a broken hip, so any time you see someone who seems to be a little unsteady, offer them your strong arm.  As we said yesterday, do your best to stay upright, and avoid those messy slips, trips, and falls!

THEME FOR NATIONAL SAFETY MONTH – JUNE 19 – 25: PREVENTING SLIPS, TRIPS, AND FALLS

Slips, trips, and falls represent the most common cause of workplace injuries, behind  motor vehicle accidents.  Slips, trips, and falls can result in head, back, and neck injuries, as well as broken bones, cuts and bruises.  According to the National Safety Councils’ 2008 injury facts, the average workers’ comp costs for slips, trips, and falls, was $21,500.  So we’re not talking about minor incidents. 

The Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety reports that 60% of falls happen at the same floor level.  The other 40% are falls from heights.  Even the slightest change in elevation surface (1/4” to ½”) can cause a trip or fall.  Caution signs should be placed in obvious areas to avert falls.  Those who work at heights should wear some form of personal fall arrest system – harness, lanyards, tie-off slings, etc. – one that fits the particular job best.  Falls from ladders, roofs, stairs, or jumping to a lower level causes many injuries.  Each of these risks demand different considerations in a fall arrest program.   Many homes have areas with lower-level family rooms, which are hazardous for visitors.  Homeowners should warn them to “watch their step” while visiting.  

Good housekeeping in a business is vital.  If these practices are not enforced, other administrative control measures implemented will never be fully effective.  Safety and housekeeping go hand in hand.  This is extremely true, especially when addressing the serious issue of slips, trips and falls.  If the facility’s housekeeping habits are poor, the result may well be employee injuries, rising insurance costs, and regulatory citations.  If the facilities are noticeably clean and well organized, it is a good sign that its overall safety program is effective as well.  Disorderly work environments can negatively impact the morale of employees who must function in a job site that is dirty, hazardous, and poorly managed.  Because slips, trips, and falls occur more than any other occupational injury, it makes good sense for the company to ensure that employees comply with a good housekeeping program.  This is a plan that should be part of each worker’s daily performance.  If each individual does his/her part to keep work areas clean, the housekeeping program will be a success.  The same rule applies to our homes.  If we don’t place things in their right place, someone is going to come along and trip over something that shouldn’t have been there.  Nightlights are good for preventing falls (or running into a wall) for overnight visitors who could get lost in the darkness in your home. 

Most falls can be prevented.  All we should do is follow this simple rule: watch where we are going!  We take walking for granted, so we pay little attention to potential hazards.  Here are some common fall hazards cited by the National Safety Council that we should watch for:

  • Hidden steps;
  • Wet spots;
  • Smooth surfaces;
  • Loose, irregular surfaces;
  • Oil and grease.
  • Obstacles in walkways;
  • Electrical cords in walkways;
  • Aisles that have boxes stacked and left in the way;
  • File cabinet drawers left open;
  • Tools left out. 

Many workers are required to wear protective footwear on the job.  Shoes that have slip-resistant soles help prevent  injuries.  Safety footwear is designed to protect feet against the most common types of injuries, impact, compression and puncture.  It is important to choose footwear according to the hazards present, but also be sure it is comfortable enough to wear for several hours.  

Tomorrow we will delve into this serious subject a little bit more.  Until then, stay safe, and remain upright!

 

SOURCES: CCOHS, SORM (Sstate Office of Risk Management, Texas), OSHA

TOO MUCH SUN, TOO LITTLE SUNSCREEN?

It seems that the U.S. is behind Canada and Europe when it comes to labeling sunscreen products.  In the past, manufacturers were not required to disclose how well their products protect against cancer-causing ultraviolet A, (UVA) rays.  Only the amount of protection against ultraviolet B was required to be on the label.  Both types of UV rays cause skin damage, including premature skin aging and skin cancer.  UVB primarily causes sunburn while UVA light is more damaging because it penetrates the skin farther, causing wrinkles and other problems. 

A beautiful tan is very attractive, but if the one who is working on that tan could only realize the results that might be caused later in life, they might forgo the tan and protect their skin.  A Sun Protection Factor (SPF) doesn’t offer insights into UVA protection.  

Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States.  Each year, 3.5 million cases of skin cancer are diagnosed and treated.  According to the American Academy of Dermatology, almost 20% of Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetime.  While most skin cancers are curable, squamous cell carcenomas kill 2,500 Americans each year, and melanoma kills 8,700 Americans annually, according to the American Cancer Society. 

It is important that we protect our youngsters now, because these cancers are developing while they are young.  My best friend has had all three types of skin cancers, and she must consistently go for biopsies and treatment.  She is very fair, and has blue eyes;  her dermatologist told her that this all began when she was a child.  

The labeling of sunscreen as sun block implies inaccurate information that makes claims the protection will offer more than 2 hours of protection, or is water-proof or sweat-proof -without indicating the length of time of full protection.  Experts recommend using a sunscreen of at least 50 SPF.  Studies show that some of the sunscreens that are most protective are not necessarily the most expensive ones.  

Until the new labeling is available, it is recommended that you slather on a glob of sunscreen the size of a golf ball and do so very often.  (You’ll go through a tube quickly, but it’s worth it!) Having to deal with skin cancer is not something you want to face, or for your children to have to go through.  If you have to be outside, wear a hat, protective clothing, and even take along an umbrella.  When swimming, apply that protective lotion religiously.

Safety sunglasses are manufactured that offer 99.9% protection from UVA/UVB/UVC rays.  Our eyes must also be protected from the sun at all times; even small children need that protection.  Thankfully, glasses have been designed to take care of the risks of exposure to UV rays.  Maybe next year we will have full disclosure of the protection we can expect from sunscreens. 

Source:ABC News