Category Archives: Weather Protection

Be Aware and Prepare to stop spread of Zika virus.

As Congress haggles over how many millions or billions of dollars to spend to help stop the spread of the Zika virus in the U.S. before summer, researchers at New Mexico State University are already testing wearable mosquito repellent devices to determine which ones can best help us protect ourselves against these insects.

“The goal is to find out what works and what doesn’t,” said Immo Hansen, an NMSU associate professor of biology involved in the investigation. “There are so many products on the market that simply don’t work, so I think it’s really important to test them in a scientific way.”

This month, a group from Hansen’s Molecular Vector Physiology Lab, in the College of Arts and Sciences, began a series of tests to determine the effectiveness of a dozen commercially available wearable repellents, including clip-ons and wristbands. Though the study is ongoing, preliminary data revealed that citronella-based bracelets and wristbands have little effect on mosquitoes, whereas OFF Clip-On devices not only repel mosquitoes, they also kill them.

“Some people are really resistant to putting repellents on their skin, so they would rather choose a wearable device,” said Stacy Rodriguez, manager of NMSU’s Molecular Vector Physiology Lab and lead researcher on this project. “Right now, we are just trying to see if the wearable devices are as effective as the spray-on devices.”

The group plans to publish the results of this research by mid-summer.

This analysis is a follow-up to a study the group conducted last fall on 10 commercially available spray-on repellents. During this experiment, Rodriguez and her colleagues recognized the most reliable sprays as DEET products and lemon eucalyptus-based insect repellents.

For the current study, the group is testing the wearable devices using a 70-foot wind tunnel located in an NMSU research facility. After taking baseline readings, the researchers put on the repellent devices and position themselves upwind of a series of test cages. Depending on the product’s repellency, the caged mosquitoes either fly away from the test subjects or toward them.

The wearable devices are being tested against the same two species of mosquito used in the spray repellent study: the Asian tiger mosquito (Aedes albopictus) and the yellow fever mosquito (Aedes aegypti), both of which carry the Zika virus.

“These two mosquitoes have very different levels of attraction to even one certain individual,” Rodriguez said. “Since attraction varies, repellency is also going to vary, so it’s important to test multiple species when you’re looking at repellents and their efficacy.”

Thanks to body chemistry, mosquitoes are also more inclined to bite someone who “smells” good to them.

“Everybody has a different bacterial flora on his or her skin,” Hansen said. “The bacteria break down components of sweat and produce a different set of olfactory clues for the mosquitoes. Some people just smell better to mosquitoes than others, and there’s really nothing you can do about that except wear repellents. There’s nothing you can do to change the bacterial flora on your skin.”

Consequently, these chemical differences can impact which repellents work best for you.

“Something that might work for one person because of his or her body chemistry, might not work for somebody else because he or she has different chemistry,” Rodriguez said.

While the Asian tiger mosquito hasn’t established significant populations in New Mexico, Aedes aegypti – one of the primary vectors of dengue, Zika virus and yellow fever – can be found in your backyard in Las Cruces.

“Be aware; prepare,” Hansen said. “Get yourself a good repellent, wear long sleeves, long pants. Try to avoid getting bit.”

The mosquito that carries the Zika virus can breed in as little as one centimeter of standing water, Hansen explained. For those with ponds, his recommendation was to get Gambusia, or mosquito fish, from the Doña Ana County Vector Control to keep backyard mosquito populations at bay.

Next fall, Hansen and Rodriguez plan to investigate mosquito attractants for use in baits. Surprisingly, even though humans attract mosquitoes all the time, Rodriguez explained that creating a chemical to attract mosquitoes is actually harder than repelling them.

“We have such complex odors that it’s actually hard to emulate that in cream or a bait trap,” she said. “It’s actually much more complex than creating something that disguises your human smell.”

Franklin J. Torres, M.Ed., Technology
Web Developer
University Communications and Marketing Services
New Mexico State University ­- All About Discovery!
575-646-1175 | fjtorres@nmsu.edu

3 tips for handling power lines after bad weather

Tornadoes have caused damage in multiple states across the country this year. As the Insurance Journal reports, Arkansas saw several possible tornadoes appear on March 13, with thousands of power outages lasting on into the next day. Illinois experienced a possible tornado the same week, and similar storms may have been spotted in Iowa as well. This last storm brought funnel clouds around the Quad Cities, as WQAD8 reported.

With all of this activity, companies are likely considering the implications of sending crews to respond to tornado damage. Power outages in particular can add to worker risk, since they could result from fallen lines that need to be carefully restored. Dealing with the cables safely can force crew members to rely on their protective clothing as well as any training or best practices they have.

The storm may have passed, but workers could still be facing some urgent dangers. Here are three tips to help crew stay safe while they do their job. In some cases, these are not only good pieces of advice but recommended by government agencies.

#1: Choose the right footwear
Before arriving at the site, workers can ask themselves whether or not they are ready to step out on potentially dangerous ground. After a tornado, simply walking from one spot to another can leave a crew member exposed to sharp edges. Foot protection should match the guidelines set out by the Occupational Safety & Health Administration, which listed foot and leg protection in its Personal Protective Equipment booklet.

Footwear is also important around the electrical source itself. The same booklet examined two types of shoes that can provide protection against electrical current: conductive shoes and electrical hazard, safety toe shoes. The latter “can protect against open circuits of up to 600 volts in dry conditions and should be used in conjunction with other insulating equipment and additional precautions to reduce the risk of a worker becoming a path for hazardous electrical energy.”

#2: Err on the side of caution
A separate fact sheet from OSHA also specifically addresses the dangers of working around fallen cables. The source noted how difficult it is to determine whether or not a cable is “on.” Instead, it recommended that workers should assume all cables they see are energized, which means avoiding any contact, even from inside a vehicle. Anything touching a downed wire is potentially dangerous.

Wearing sufficient hand protection, such as insulating rubber gloves, may let crews stay consistent with the other protective gear they’re wearing. It also helps to be mindful of overhead lines: the OSHA Contact With Power Lines etool advised staying ten feet away from these lines. Warning signs should clearly alert all crew to wires that aren’t very apparent.

#3: Keep a safe distance
A wire lying on the ground could seem harmless enough while the area around it provides the real trap. The same booklet states that some large objects, including buildings and fences, can carry current. The ground itself may also pose a hazard, as “electricity can spread outward through the ground in a circular shape” starting at the edge of the wire.

As an extra precaution, crews need to make sure none of their additional equipment will conduct a charge. Relying on material that doesn’t conduct electricity at all makes this less of a likelihood: One example could be a ladder that isn’t made of metal. Keeping lines grounded or insulated also gives crews possible protection and reduced danger levels at the worksite.

Contact Texas America Safety Company for more information on protective gear. Stay ready for anything in the stormy season and keep your workers safe.

Heat Relief Safety Products

Well, it appears the temperature is starting to increase by the day. As the temperature rises it is important to pay attention to the heat index in relation to humidity. We found this nice chart that shows the affects of heat and humidity. It makes a normally warm day seem much hotter, and a very hot day can be unbearable with high humidity. To counteract this effect while working outdoors we recommend investing in some Heat Relief Safety Products. Remember to work safely and take care of yourself.

Heat Index
Heat Index

WORKING FROM HEIGHT, ARE YOU DOING IT RIGHT? (GUEST POST)

Working at height is a common requisite of almost any construction, maintenance or development work and should be conducted with extra care. According to the Health & Safety Executive (HSE), falls from height remain one of the most common causes of fatality in any workplace, with a large proportion of these being a result of proper checks and basic assessments having not been carried out.

If you are an employer running your own business where working at height is frequent, it is crucial that you are familiar with the Working At Height Regulations 2005 and that you are continuously implementing the right health and safety protocol within your work site. If you are an employee, it’s important to be aware of the necessary safety checks so you can be sure you are not putting yourself in danger whilst at work. 

1.     Assess the work to be done.

Thorough and practical assessment of the work to be carried out will allow the work to be controlled responsibly throughout, minimising the likelihood of setbacks or emergencies.

It is stressed by the HSE that work should be done at height only when absolutely necessary. Ask yourself: can this work be done from the ground, with specialised equipment? Or can it be done using lower-level or interval platforms, reducing the risk of fall or injury?

Also identify the risks themselves, including the height of the work to be done, and how realistically accessible it is, even with the use of elevated platforms and other equipment. Determine how many people are required to complete the work, so as not to compromise the safety of more than what is absolutely necessary. Decide whether the work to be done is of a long or short duration (short duration is work that is measured in minutes rather than hours). 

2.     Take note of environmental conditions.

Work at height should never be undertaken or allowed in extreme weather conditions that could endanger anybody’s health and safety. Also bear in mind the surrounding environment of your work site, such as a noisy environment that could affect communications between those working at height and those co-ordinating on the ground. Nearby unstable matter can also pose an extra risk of injury, distraction or obstruction, so it’s important to maintain the worksite and its surrounding area to as high a standard as possible.

Although environmental conditions very often cannot be controlled, they can be noted and prepared for accordingly. 

3.     Check the relevant equipment.

Use of the right equipment is obviously the backbone of any work being carried out at height; whether this involves ladders, scaffolding, or the use of mobile elevated work platforms (MEWPS) such as scissor lifts or cherry pickers.

What should not be overlooked, however, is the checking and maintenance of this equipment on a regular basis. Different equipment and machinery will have various maintenance specifications; scaffolding checks for example, ought to be carried every seven days, whilst harnesses require a pre-use check, detailed inspection and interim inspection at various stages of their lifetime.

Equipment checks should ideally be carried out by someone assessed under a registry body (such as the Construction Industry Scaffolders Registration Scheme), or at least with sufficient experience in the use of the height equipment being used. 

4.     Ensure employees have the right training.

In light of the previous point, anybody using specific height equipment should have had the right training in its operation – this is essential. If your business engages in the use of mobile elevated platforms, it is absolutely crucial that all employees have undergone IPAF training and hold a current Powered Access Licence card (PAL) that proves they are capable of operating MEWPs safely.

IPAF training can be carried out by an IPAF approved training provider, and courses can be completed in just one day, with different packages to suit your business’ needs. If you are an employee, speak to your employer about possibly setting up a course to secure a fully qualified workforce (and some excellent team building opportunities). 

5.     Prepare for the worst.

It sounds simple, but the law requires that there is always a plan in place for emergencies and rescues when working at height. Use all means possible to minimise the distance and consequences of a fall should one occur, such as safety nets or bean bags; rest platforms at regular intervals, and the wear of safety clothing.
Adele Hallsall writes for Kimberly Access, which provide access platform equipment for construction jobs. They have been serving businesses with access equipment for many years now and have a loyal customer base. They also provide training such as IPAF training.

SEARCHING FOR MUDSLIDE VICTIMS; LATER SEARCHING FOR ANSWERS

The Washington State area devastated by a mudslide Saturday, March 22nd, has seen much clear-cut logging.  Native American tribes and environmentalists have long warned that clear-cut logging could raise the risk of landslides.  Although the mountain ranges of the Pacific Northwest may appear solid and stolid, they are a geologically active part of the physical environment, including regular earthquakes, landslides, and the occasional volcano. Sometimes, human activities – including the clear-cut logging that patch-marks much of the region – have an important impact on forests, soils, and water patterns. 

The massive mudslide that hit  Saturday, March 22,  about 55 miles northeast of Seattle was part of that picture, all but wiping out the community of Oso across the North Fork of the Stillaguamish River.  As rescue and recovery efforts continued Friday morning, officials reported that the number of confirmed dead remains at 17 with another nine bodies located but not yet recovered. Ninety more individuals are still unaccounted for – large numbers in a small community of around 180 people.

The demand for lumber, plywood, paper, and other wood products is part of an industry that once dominated Washington State and Oregon.  Logging’s impact has been a concern for a number of years. Large, older trees take up more water than younger stands, which can take decades to mature and may be cut down before they reach full maturity. The Tulalip Tribes were so concerned with landslides hitting the Stillaguamish River and its prime salmon habitat that they blocked a proposed timber sale above an earlier slide in 1988.”There were some very large clear-cuts planned for that area, which made us very concerned,” Kurt Nelson, a hydrologist with the tribes, told KUOW, the NPR affiliate at the University of Washington in Seattle.  “That reach of the North Fork has multiple, ancient, deep-seated landslides,” Mr. Nelson said. “There’s a lot of unstable terrain in that area.”  Landslides have followed logging in that area at least four times, KUOW reported.

“This had been known at least since the ’50s as one of the more problematic areas on the Stillaguamish for perennial landslides,” Mr. Kennard,  (Geomorphologist Paul Kennard, who worked for the Tulalip Tribes in the 1980s and now works for the National Park Service at Mt. Rainier) reported.  Although state logging regulations have been tightened in recent years, The Seattle Times reports that a clear-cut nine years ago “appears to have strayed into a restricted area that could feed groundwater into the landslide zone that collapsed Saturday.” 

Heavy rains and winds are hampering rescue efforts, by both professional rescue teams and volunteers. The careful use of heavy equipment, helicopters, and other means of rescue continue.  Personnel are wading through debris, muck, trees, ice, and foul water.

 Meanwhile, the request by Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (D) for more federal assistance to help with recovery efforts in the Oso area has been approved. The money will be used to help local and state government agencies recover a portion of the estimated $4.5 million expected to be spent on emergency response, protective measures, and debris removal. Safety precautions should be used by all; pros and volunteers.  Wearing respiratory protection, gloves, goggles, hardhats, and protective clothing is important for the safety of those exposed to all types of hazards.

At his briefing Friday, Snohomish County Fire District Chief Travis Hots asked corporations and businesses in the region to donate money to help those affected. “Some of these people have lost their homes, some have lost their cars, some have lost their entire family,” he said. “Funerals will have to be paid for. Please dig deep.”  Chief Hots is the spokesman for search and recovery efforts.

 

Source: Christian Science Monitor, Associated Press

TIPS FOR DEALING WITH INCLEMENT WEATHER DURING THE WORK WEEK (GUEST POST)

By Sarah Walden of UmbrellaBagger.com

 Traveling to the office during dangerous weather conditions can be frightening. Safety precautions are necessary for employees and management to remain calm, collected and protected during severe storms. Paying attention to any and all warnings before, during and after a storm secures employees during their commute and office hours. Aside from safety concerns, trekking to work in bad weather is uncomfortable and a lack of preparation can lead to an intolerable day.

rain-windshield

Here are four tips to help make the rainy, slushy or snowy commute easier for full-time employees.

Stay Informed and Drive Cautiously

Set up weather alerts on a smart phone or computer the night before a large storm is due. Tune into the morning news while getting ready and take notice of the suggested strategies and tips for the current conditions. When leaving the house, travel with extreme caution and care. If proximity allows, consider carpooling with coworkers – multiple eyes and ears increases awareness of precarious conditions and helps ease stress for drivers.

Dress Appropriately

Invest in a reliable raincoat and sturdy rubber boots. Although clunky and awkward, protective outdoor gear helps keep work clothes dry. Forgoing style during the commute to the office is better than sitting in soggy clothing all day long which can lead to a head cold or wrinkled attire.

Take Advantage of Facility Accommodations

Spend a little more money to park in the indoor garage or covered lot on days when weather is extreme. Opting for street parking is usually the more cost-effective alternative, but defrosting a car after eight to nine hours of snow or ice build up is time consuming. Fallen tree branch damages or sliding accidents cost more time and money than garage parking fees.

Unlike drivers, walkers get stuck with soppy shoes and a wet umbrella after their commute. Office lobbies are often equipped with dry floor mats and a wet umbrella bag dispenser. Both resources prevent slip and fall accidents that are all too common during winter snowstorms and the rainy spring months. Don’t bypass these luxuries; they are in place to keep workforce visitors safe and dry.

Take the Day off or Work from Home

There is no shame in missing work if travel doesn’t feel safe. Use a sick day or paid leave if necessary. Although roads may seem fine in the morning, conditions can change rapidly in the afternoon. Getting home could be a nightmare and pose a greater threat than the initial travel. If necessary, ask to work from home. Most managers allow remote labor, as long as employees have a computer and the basic materials to complete their duties for the day.

Dealing with rain, snow and ice shouldn’t have to interfere with productivity. Instead of letting the weather dictate professional life, take the necessary precautions to aptly coordinate work-related travel.

Thanks, Sarah, for this unique idea for wet umbrella bag dispenser(s).  These would work great for work, school, or churches.  pb

SAFETY IN THE U.S. AGRICULTURE BUSINESS

We recently published a guest article about farmers losing their lives on the job in Ireland.  Farmers all over the world have one of the most hazardous professions anywhere.  From those in third-world countries, to the ones with sophisticated equipment, there is still risk for injury and/or death in this occupation.

Farmers are at high risk for fatal and nonfatal injuries; it is one of the few industries where family members often share the work and live on the premises.  Many are migrant workers who may lack training or misunderstand the seriousness of the job, through language barriers.  NIOSH was developed in 1990 to create an agricultural safety and health program.  Through intramural research and funds, programs are developed at university centers in twenty states.  Programs such as these address injuries associated with agriculture, in addition to stress, musculosketal disorders, hearing loss, and pesticide exposure. 

In 2010, the U.S. had 1,823,000 full-time workers employed in production agriculture.  In 2009, an estimated 1.03 million young persons under 20 years of age resided on farms, with about 519,000 youth performing farm work.  An estimated 230,000 youth were hired to work on farms in addition to the ones who lived on the farms in 2009. 

Four hundred seventy-six farmers and farm workers died from  work-related injuries in 2010.  Tractor overturns were the leading cause of death for those involved.  Roll-Over Protective Structure (ROPS) are the most effective way to prevent tractor overturn deaths.  In 2006, 59 per cent of tractors used on the farms in the U.S. were equipped with ROPS. 

One hundred thirteen young persons (on average) die annually from farm-related injuries; most of these deaths happen to those age 16-19 years of age.  Sources of fatalaties were twenty-three  per cent from machinery (including tractors), nineteen percent involved motor vehicles (including ATVs), and sixteen per cent were due to drowning.

Around two hundred forty-three agricultural workers suffer a lost-work-injury.  At least five per cent of these leave permanent impairment.  In 2009, around 16,200 youth were hurt on farms; 3,400 were due to the actual farm work. 

Other risks that farmers are exposed to:

  • Getting kicked by animals;
  •  Work-related lung disease;
  • Prolonged sun exposure;
  • Skin diseases;
  • Hearing loss;
  • Certain cancers associated with chemical use.

The National Institute of Food and Agriculture supports the AgrAbility program, which reached newly disabled farmers and ranchers through education, assistance, and networking with on-farm assessments and assistive technology implementation on their worksites.  NIFA farm safety efforts work to assist farmers avoid workplace hazards, help those with disabilities remain employed and ensure equal access to the agriculture profession for all workers, regardless of background or ability.

Agricultural workers benefit from these efforts by increasing their knowledge of the hazards and changes in practices in order to reduce risk of exposure to those hazards.  This helps farmers remain economically competitive and safe in an often economically and physically challenging agricultural work environment.

Some of the personal protective equipment that farmers and their employees should have are good work gloves, safety glasses or goggles, knee pads, sunscreen, face masks when using pesticides or sprays, ear plugs, and a big, wide straw hat!

We thank our farmers for providing food for our tables and wish them successful harvests  in 2014.  Please stay safe.

Sources: CDC, NIOSH, NIFA

TEXAS AMERICA SAFETY WANTS TO HELP YOU STAY WARM THIS WINTER

Our parent company, Texas America Safety Company, has been in the business of selling quality personal protective equipment for over twenty years.  There are many items you may not know about, so we would like to take the time to introduce some winter products to help you stay warm.  Whether you plan to be sitting outside at a football game, going on a ski trip, hunting, or working every day in the outdoors, we think you will enjoy viewing these products.

Here is a list of some of our items that will help you stay warmer, and chances are, at a lower cost than retail stores.  You can see full descriptions on our cold weather comfort products page.

  • Winter liners.  These are worn under hardhats to keep your head warm from outside cold. They can also be worn underneath a regular hoodie to add warmth.
  • Knitted tube liners.  Warm liners that fit over hardhats; they are either full-face or half-face. 
  • Plush Fleece Balaclava winter liners.  These work much better than scarves, and come in navy, orange, or camo colors.  Drawstring ensures warmth around your head and neck.
  • Multifunctional Winter Gaiters. Made of microfiber, these can be worn 10 different ways.
  • “Hot Rods” Warming Packs!  Handy little packets that warm up your hands, feet, anywhere you need to stay warm!  Be sure to check these warming packs that last for hours.  You’ll be glad you did!

It is our goal to furnish you with safety information on a daily basis.  We thank all our readers and blog contributors this past year, and wish all of you a safe, happy, and healthy New Year!

 Don’t forget to ask for the 5% discount we offer if you mention that you read about it on our blog!