Author Archives: [email protected] (jlaws)

Back Belts: Another Approach to Address the Challenge of Back Injuries

Back Belts: Another Approach to Address the Challenge of Back Injuries According to a report released in November 2016 by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the overall incidence of nonfatal work-related injuries and illness cases that required days away from work to recuperate was 104.0 cases per 10,000 full-time workers. Although many of these injuries included such things as bruises, cuts, and lacerations to the skin while working, the most significant percentage of occupational injuries and illnesses were what were termed "sprains, strains, and tears." This was followed by "soreness and pain." The bulk of these types of injuries are back-related. The BLS report also noted that "occupations that had among the highest number of cases in 2015 resulting in days away from work included heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers; laborers and freight, stock, and material movers." These are precisely the types of workers we find in distribution centers throughout the United States, as well as in manufacturing facilities. In most cases, workers did not return to work for seven to eight days after their injuries occurred; in about 20 percent of the cases, workers were off work for as long as one month. Further, the report shows that "private sector laborers and freight, stock, and material movers had 56,550 days-away-from-work cases in 2015, an increase from 2014 levels." So far, we have been describing the human costs of occupational injuries. As we know, there are many direct and indirect costs to businesses, as well. Back injuries account for nearly 20 percent of all injuries and illnesses in the workplace and cost the nation an estimated $20 billion to $50 billion annually, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Digging deeper into the issues surrounding back injuries, we find that a large percentage of occupational back injuries are caused by manual lifting of boxes and products on the distribution or manufacturing floor.  To address this problem, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has suggested the implementation of ergonomic programs, teaching workers best practices when lifting and moving items to help prevent back injuries, as well as suggesting to employers ways of redesigning the work environment to help reduce these injuries. In addition to training workers improved ways to move, the use of industrial back belts is another approach to help address the challenge of back injuries. Since about the mid-1990s, the wearing of industrial back belts has seen a dramatic increase in the United States. However, in many ways, calling them back belts or back supports is a misnomer. A better and more accurate term would be "abdominal" belts. According to one study, back belts work by doing the following: "By assisting the abdominal muscles and diaphragm in producing intra-abdominal pressure (IAP) within the abdominal cavity. This is thought to allow pressure on the upper body to be shifted from the spine to the trunk."1 In other words, the back belt redirects the pressure and strain of lifting from the lower back to the trunk, helping to protect the back and prevent injury. Further, back belts are thought to help improve posture, so that workers lift items more correctly, using an upright or straight torso. This also puts less stress on the back when lifting.  Further, research has found wearing a back belt can benefit workers in ways they may not even realize.  For instance: They serve as a reminder to workers to be careful, lift properly, and not strain the body. They can increase insulation and warmth; the body tends to be more flexible in such conditions. They help restrict movements, bending, and twisting that can result in injuries. They provide what is termed "circumferential support" for the entire body. In other words, the worker feels more stable and more protected overall. Proper Wearing of Back BeltsThe wearing of back belts or back supports is not a cure-all. They help support the back and can offer some protection, but ultimately the worker must perform the lifting and moving of materials properly. In order to provide this support most effectively, they must be selected and worn properly.  The following are some suggestions to help accomplish this: Select the proper size; some belts have as many as four stays for added support. The belt's back panel should be 7 to 8 inches wide. If the belt has suspenders, make sure they are comfortably placed over the head, neck, and shoulders. Center the belt on the lower back and grasp each end of the belt. Stretch the belt straight out and wrap around the body; secure using the Velcro closure material. It's interesting. We always see weight lifters wearing belts to provide additional back support. They do so because they know that the belt can help give them greater stability, put less strain on the back, and help them lift properly. This is exactly how back belts are designed to function in the workplace. Dennis Knapp is Director of Product Development for Impact Products, LLC. Impact Products is a manufacturer of industrial health and safety products. He can be reached through his company website at Reference1. ErgoPlus, a leading organization that helps employers prevent musculoskeletal injuries. NOTE: Many injuries are never reported, which can cause the numbers to be skewed. Posted on May 17, 2019 Let's block ads! (Why?)

In the Face of Modern Threats, Enterprise Campuses Must Maximize Tech Tools

In the Face of Modern Threats, Enterprise Campuses Must Maximize Tech Tools We live in a world where anything can happen. As a nation, we see more active shooting situations and natural disasters than ever before. These modern threats are impacting enterprise campuses across the nation at unimaginable levels. According to statistics from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health and the Department of Justice, victims of workplace violence miss more than 1.8 million days of work annually, causing more than $121 billion in losses for employers. As the potential for threatening situations across work campuses continues to rise, it is imperative for safety professionals to maximize every possible emergency response tool available to them. Although some situations are highly unpredictable, it is imperative to have a reliable and effective response plan in place to protect everyone in the workplace and minimize potential losses. Highlighting Our Nation's FlawsOn the first anniversary of the massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, recordings of the 911 calls from the time of the shooting underscored the national safety crisis we see in public schools. In this case, unfortunately, the calls students made from their cellphones went to the Coral Springs Police Department rather than the Broward Sheriff's Office in Parkland, causing a major delay in response efforts. Because of these complications in routing the calls to the right locations, Coral Springs dispatchers had to call Broward County 911 to relay all of the information and ensure that they dispatched officers to the location of the shooting. What took students as little as three seconds to explain had taken the Coral Springs Police Department over one minute to communicate, in some cases, because it was playing a game of catch-up. As a result, 69 seconds passed between the first call to 911 and the time police officers were dispatched to the location, according to a report by the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission. Although 69 seconds might not sound like much time in an ordinary situation, it can make a huge difference in the number of individuals impacted when a school is dealing with an active shooter situation. This scenario demonstrated that our school systems, as well as most enterprise campuses across the nation, still have a lot of work to do to make sure their sites are more secure. Problems come up because of the intersection of core universities and the areas surrounding them, which creates an overlap in responding jurisdictions when problems arise. Although campus police might be in the best position to respond, municipal or county agencies might actually receive the 911 calls when they come in. This means that callers are being shuffled around and effective response gets delayed. On top of that, radios and in-car data systems make it difficult for agencies nearby to effectively coordinate responses. Having ineffective communication systems can be seriously damaging when it comes to emergency response. But it's difficult for responders and can be a real issue for those in need of response, too. On larger campuses, employees face problems with alerting everyone in the area quickly and appropriately when emergencies happen. Further complications occur when staff and employees try to identify and account for everyone on campus. The Problem of LocationOnly recently have communication technology platforms begun to bridge the existing gap between wireless calls made to 911 and being able to identify the location of the caller. In the aftermath of Parkland, city officials recognized major issues with officer response time and joined forces with a company called RapidSOS—a company that helps police and fire departments across the United States overcome critical gaps in responding to calls—to prevent such a mishap in the future, according to The Washington Post. The inability of modern phone calls to effectively communicate location data to 911 call centers is a major problem. With over 80 percent of calls to 911 call centers coming from cell phones, it is critical to identify the location quickly and effectively to ensure law enforcement officers are able to respond to emergencies well. What Is Being Done?Organizations are widely implementing various forms of communication technology to help first responders and those involved in natural disasters and other emergencies share their location and other data, all of which improves communication and response times. More and more, we're seeing Internet of Things devices play a part in a number of industries and spaces. Families use infant wearable devices to inform pediatricians about a baby's health. Buildings can monitor home security doorbells with streaming video. Imaging devices are also specifically designed for and used by responders in many cases, like cameras that record police interactions and sensors that help monitor firefighters and signal for help if necessary. Technology advancements can help entire cities, too. For instance, in 2016, Waze and Esri formed a partnership that allows users to visualize data and collaborate. They can use the data to map out how to properly and efficiently deploy resources to help people in need. Additionally, the service lets others in the area know about potential disasters to avoid. The ability for people to keep in touch in the event of a disaster is becoming more necessary, and the ways in which they can are expanding. Using check-in features or even community activation in large-scale disasters helps everyone accurately track details, the locations of various events, and the safety of loved ones nearby. What Else Can We Do?It's important to prepare for each potential situation by engaging employees and implementing new methods of communication. Dealing with natural disasters is difficult, as most are unpredictable and cannot be controlled. Further, reports indicate a steep increase in the costs businesses incur as a result. In these events, businesses often sustain damage, employees' homes are hurt, and supply chains are entirely shut down. Even more, globalization makes the impact of natural disasters more substantial. Although it's difficult to protect a physical location from every natural disaster, it is imperative to develop a sound disaster recovery plan to adequately prepare companies for as many potential impacts as possible. Natural disasters are by no means the only kind we face, though. As lone wolf attacks, which involve the attacker trying to inflict harm or death on innocent people, continue to become more common across the nation, it is critical for companies to train employees to handle these situations, taking measures like regular active shooter response training sessions. Companies that regularly conduct this type of training are the best prepared to minimize their risks and protect everyone involved in the event that these situations occur. Nearly everyone carries powerful technology with them everywhere they go, in the form of smartphones. Because of this, campuses have to take advantage of what is a nearly ubiquitous way of accessing safety technology that comes with little additional cost. Even something as simple as a detailed map of a campus on a mobile device can be a game changer for responding agencies, especially those that might be slightly unfamiliar with the layout of the school or campus to which they need to go. Depending on a company's budget and level of threat, implementing gunshot detection software and video monitoring by way of artificial intelligence can also be a powerful tool for recognizing and responding to potential disasters. For instance, video technology can use facial recognition and recognize license plates and vehicles, which helps safety officials when trying to identify suspects or notify others about potential threats. It is critically important that companies also meet with local responding agencies at least once annually to effectively maintain the public-private partnership. Discuss ways to keep up-to-date mapping data on file for your campus and current plans for engaging with on-site security, management, and other administration departments to ensure they get to the right location as quickly as possible. Maximizing Tools to Ensure SafetyConsider using familiar technology to make it easier for your staff to recognize and report potential threats in the workplace. Recognize how your staff prefers to communicate, and try to take advantage of whatever that might be. Approaches as simple as implementing a text-in tip line option or using a secure channel on a collaborative tool like Slack are some simple and easy-to-implement ways enterprise campuses can protect their employees. When it comes to evaluating the threat level a company faces, safety professionals are in the best position. Unfortunately, businesses with a large number of employees, those that are easily identifiable and well-known, or those whose employees are recognizable and notable are at an elevated risk for danger. Consider the ways in which your company can use technology to understand further, identify, and mitigate threats with data generated by these platforms. Using new technology tools to accurately identify locations and provide a greater understanding of when and where staff members feel less than safe can be crucial in helping you proactively address any potential issues facing your domain. Implementing the wealth of communication technologies available is an effective and cost-efficient way to ensure the safety of everyone on your campus. Companies can take advantage of technology that employees already have, like smartphones, which will lower costs while providing significant value to users through the wealth of available safety technology in the world today. Matt Johnson is the chief operating officer of Noonlight, a connected safety platform and mobile app. Noonlight delivers help from emergency services when needed and peace of mind when it’s not at the click of a button and by connecting smart devices to deliver automatic safety. Posted on May 16, 2019 Let's block ads! (Why?)

Westone Highlights Ear Peace Foundation’s Work

Westone Highlights Ear Peace Foundation's Work While exhibiting at the National Hearing Conservation Association (NHCA) annual conference in February 2019, Westone Laboratories' Ryan Lee ran into Kelly Culhane, who had just received the Girl Scouts' National Gold Award for her work as an ambassador with the Ear Peace: Save Your Hearing Foundation. Ear Peace Foundation is an educational non-profit organization based in Miami whose goal is "to make young people aware of the problem of noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) and motivate them to take effective measure to protect their hearing." Lee asked Kelly to do a quick interview about her role with the foundation and what she hopes to achieve as an ambassador. The interview, passed on by Westone Laboratories' Ryan Lee to OH&S, follows. How did you initially come to be involved with Ear Peace: Save Your Hearing Foundation?I have been involved with Girl Scouts for 12 years and with music for 13 years. Before high school, I focused on choir and classical singing with a vocal training focus on classical technique. My interest in becoming a doctor is the reason I began looking for a current, health-related issue for my Girl Scout Gold Award project. At the beginning of my freshman year, I heard an interview on National Public Radio with Adele Sandberg, founder of Ear Peace: Save Your Hearing Foundation. She discussed noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) in children, how she used pipe cleaners to demonstrate to elementary students the permanent damage done by loud sounds to the 18,000 tiny hair cells we are born with in each ear, and how simple it is to protect our hearing. After learning that one in five teenagers in the U.S. has NIHL by the age of 19, that 45 percent of music students will have this type of hearing loss by age 25, and that it can affect me and every other child, teen, young adult, and adult around the world, I decided to take action and partnered with the foundation. What is the best part for you of working with Ear Peace Foundation?The best part about working with Ear Peace Foundation has been the opportunity to teach young students and K-12 teachers about noise-induced hearing loss. After I completed the foundation's training program and became a student ambassador for the organization, both Adele and Dr. Sherilyn M. Adler (their Executive Director), were confident about my ability to talk about this issue to a variety of audiences. I have truly enjoyed being able to work with them and coming up with new ideas for ways to spread the word, while still learning more everyday about this very important health issue. Do you have any specific goals that you are hoping to achieve with Ear Peace Foundation, and if so, what are they?Ear Peace Foundation, an educational nonprofit organization, and I have share a common goal: to spread the word about NIHL to as many people as possible, with a particular focus on young people. During the four years I’ve worked with the foundation, we have reached elementary school students, high school students, teachers of every grade level, and even pediatricians around the state of Florida. This past July, I was selected as one of only ten 2018 National Gold Award Girl Scouts (the first ever chosen from the Girl Scout Council of Tropical Florida and in the South Florida areas of Miami-Dade and Monroe Counties). As a National Gold Award Girl Scout (NGAGS), I have been presented with an amazing opportunity to reach people of all ages across the country and help them understand how to preserve their hearing. As a National Gold Award Girl Scout, I have committed to representing the Girl Scouts of the USA and participating in local and national speaking events and media opportunities. Since the national press release, I have been interviewed for Yahoo! Finance Live Market Movers (a nationally webcast show) and Her Campus (an on-line campus national news service for college-aged women) while having also been featured by local press on Miami's CBS 4 series, "Mentoring Matters." Using my Gold Award project and NGAGS designation as a springboard, Ear Peace Foundation and I are currently collaborating with the World Health Organization (WHO) and Centers for Disease Control (CDC) staff to continue to spread the word about NIHL and its prevention. I plan to continue working with Ear Peace Foundation over the course of my college experience. As I continue to spread the word about NIHL nationally, my goal is nothing less than a national paradigm shift. We teach our children to take many measures to stay safe and healthy, but, we haven't been teaching them to protect their hearing. One day soon, protecting our hearing will be as common as putting on a seat belt, wearing a bike helmet, or applying sunscreen. Young people deserve to enjoy a lifetime of healthy listening. How have you benefited from working with Ear Peace Foundation?The most important way I have benefited from working with Ear Peace Foundation is the knowledge I have gained from working on this issue and my increased confidence with public speaking. Before I got involved with the foundation, I had never understood the impact that dangerously loud sounds can have on our ears. Even though music's always been an important part of my life, I had no idea that it could permanently harm my hearing, especially at such a young age. That awareness is what inspires me to spread the word to as many people as possible. The foundation has taught me so much about this critical health issue while always being supportive of my desire to learn more about this topic and to share this knowledge with others. They have also been willing to respect that, as a teen myself, I bring helpful information about how to successfully present this issue to young people. Why should other young adults your age be interested in joining Ear Peace Foundation?Most young people enjoy music and other recreational activities that involve sound exposure. By working with Ear Peace Foundation, they will have the opportunity to help preserve the hearing health of other young people in today’s loud world. Adele Sandberg and Dr. Sherilyn Adler have been the most supportive and helpful mentors to me throughout this project, as they're both always very enthusiastic about my new ideas and willing to provide many different learning opportunities. I have gained so much knowledge about the issue of NIHL in just four short years and understand how crucial it is that we get the word out to as many people as possible. Anyone who works with the foundation will gain that knowledge and experience for themselves. Ear Peace Foundation truly wants to help the next generation of young people learn how to preserve their hearing and so do I. They have inspired me to continue advocating for the prevention of NIHL in the future. Are you hoping to work for or with Ear Peace Foundation in more of a full-time role after you've finished school?I have recently been accepted at both the University of Florida and Davidson College and am waiting on a few more college decisions. I plan to continue to serve as an Ambassador for Ear Peace Foundation at whatever college I attend and, potentially, during my medical school career following that. While I am uncertain about working with Ear Peace Foundation in a full-time role in the future, I can tell you that I definitely plan to continue my involvement with their organization because of how passionate I have become about the issue of NIHL prevention for young people around the world. If there's one thing you would want people to know about Ear Peace Foundation, what would that be?Ear Peace Foundation has become somewhat of a second family to me. They are truly dedicated to ensuring the well-being of every person who is at risk for permanent hearing loss due to exposure to loud sound. The current epidemic of NIHL affects people of all ages, everywhere in the world, and the people working with the Foundation truly want to see a time when every child knows how to preserve their hearing so they can enjoy a lifetime of healthy listening. Had you ever been involved with any other hearing loss organizations before Ear Peace Foundation?Before I became involved with the Foundation, I was totally unaware of the issue of permanent but preventable hearing loss in young people. Although Ear Peace Foundation was the first hearing loss organization I became involved with, I am fortunate that, as a result of my Gold Award project and recognition as a National Gold Award Girl Scout, I'll have the opportunity to collaborate with many other amazing people and organizations in the world of hearing loss prevention. Posted on May 13, 2019 Let's block ads! (Why?)

Promoting an Effective Safety Culture and Use of Drones Helps Reduce Fall Fatalities in Construction

Promoting an Effective Safety Culture and Use of Drones Helps Reduce Fall Fatalities in Construction During Safety Week, we're reminded of how crucial it is to maintain and promote a safe and healthy workplace culture. Often, that starts with defining safety and recognizing that it extends beyond the different devices, tools, practices, and protective measures we use to reduce risk each day—though these are all extremely important. Safety is a multi-dimensional term that addresses proactive planning, worker training and encouragement, personal protective equipment (PPE) and fall protection systems, and the effects of advanced (and continuously advancing) technology. This is of particular relevance and importance to the construction industry. In 2017, the construction industry saw 971 on-the-job fatalities—19 percent of all worker fatalities in the United States that year. Even more alarming: 39 percent (381) of those construction fatalities were fall-related. The fatality statistics are alarming and fall fatalities continue to be a concern. Those within the construction industry should be vigilant in continuously reviewing safety protocols and standards to help in the reduction of fall-related fatalities and injuries. Making Safety Part of Workplace CultureSafety should be a vital workplace principle for everyone supporting a construction job—from project and company leaders to individual employees. After all, everyone is responsible for promoting and complying with safety practices. Leaders have the opportunity to assess risks before a construction job begins, and as a result, it's their responsibility to help eliminate or mitigate potential dangers. From performing comprehensive Job Hazard Analyses (JHAs)—which, at a minimum, should encompass an overview of the operations to be completed as part of the project, the equipment needed to carry out these operations, a list of tasks and related exposures, and the controls needed to mitigate risk—to convening pre-task educational sessions for workers, it's important for leaders to hold up their end of the bargain. But, by the same token, workers must comply with safety procedures. If they feel inadequately prepared or trained to do so, they should be empowered and encouraged to speak up and relay this to management. Putting Safety to Practice: The Role of TechnologyTechnological developments can help workers and leaders put safety measures into practice. As such, it is critical that construction organizations gain insight into the current uses of technology—including drones—and how they may be able to assist in projects and safety management efforts. The construction industry has become one of the fastest-growing industries to utilize commercial small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS), or drones. Small drones can provide a flexible and adaptable means to observe and manage construction projects through photographs and video to help complete tasks where worker involvement can be avoided. The continued adaptability of small drones, along with the evolving sophistication of technology applications and site equipment, can provide a contractor with diverse capabilities that can be utilized for a number of construction site activities and needs, including the ability to provide visual feedback and data without the need to put personnel in a position for a potential fall risk. Uses and applications of UAS in the construction industry include, but are not limited to: site planning and inspection, risk management safety compliance, monitoring contractor progress, accident prevention and investigation, project security and surveillance, and inspection (quality assurance/quality control). The capabilities of drones to support the construction industry and its approach to safety management are advancing rapidly and are expected to become a valuable asset for construction companies. Striving for Zero AccidentsThe overarching goal of safer workplace practices—from pre-task hazard assessments to technology that can keep workers out of harm's way on the job, to devices that can summon help quickly, when needed—is to reduce accidents and minimize injury. When a company effectively instills a culture where safety is prioritized, everyone wins: the project leaders, the risk managers, the workers, and the businesses themselves. After all, safety is among a business's most highly valued assets and fosters growth and success. As long as safety practices continue to evolve alongside evolving construction practices, we can endeavor to see a decreasing number of incidents, injuries, and fatalities. Hopefully, one day, we'll see none at all. George Cesarini is a Senior Vice President for Chubb Construction Major Markets. He is responsible for managing the risk engineering services provided across the country to construction clients, ensuring quality and value-added services are being delivered to assist them in their efforts to enhance their safety culture and mitigate potential exposures on their project sites. This document is advisory in nature and is offered as a resource to be used together with your professional insurance advisors in maintaining a loss prevention program. It is an overview only, and is not intended as a substitute for consultation with your insurance broker, or for legal, engineering or other professional advice. Posted on May 08, 2019 Let's block ads! (Why?)

Material Handling Ergonomics Support Occupational Health and Safety

Material Handling Ergonomics Support Occupational Health and Safety ProMat 2019 is in the rearview mirror. Some exciting and interesting products and automation breakthrough technologies were introduced during the MHI event. Back on the manufacturing plant floor and warehouse distribution center floor are real issues of occupational health and safety (OH&S). More than regulatory compliance, most material handling ergonomic and safety professionals are totally committed to decreasing the occurrence of injuries. OH&S experts recommend designing the job to fit the employee or simply adopting ergonomics in the workplace. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) suggests methods how to improve ergonomics in material handling. From improving work processes to reducing injury and promoting productivity there is always room for improvement. Too often there is excessive manual lifting, lowering, filling, or emptying containers. There are better tools (equipment) that minimize manual lifting and material handling. Ergonomic equipment includes rotating carts, tilt carts, and custom kit carts. The quality and safety functions are always a blend of management and employees working together to create and use safe policies that improve work habits. There is not a single solution, but some practical solutions include job rotation among employees. Employees shift between different jobs or workstations at specific time intervals. The variety of tasks increases as the employee performs more duties. When there is a labor shortage (unemployment remains consistently below 4 percent), keeping employees engaged is far easier if boredom and sloppy work habits are avoided. Job rotation is a well-planned practice to reduce the boredom of doing same type of job every day and explore the hidden potential of an employee. The process serves the purpose of both the management and the employees. It helps management in discovering the talent of employees reinforcing best safety practices. Ergonomic Training and Work Area DesignManagement must also ensure that the employees are trained on the proper lifting, material handling techniques, and equipment. Every decision made by employees during a work shift must include ergonomic considerations. Improving the design of the work area is the preferred method of lowering risk for injury. The layout and organization make it possible for materials to be handled without needing to bend, twist, or stretch excessively. By incorporating ergonomics in the layout of the work area, fundamental health and safety principles can be incorporated. Simple kaizen events can corroborate that all materials are positioned at work level and adjustable. A workbench should have an adjustable height and tilt to improve the employee's working position. Similarly, there must be enough space to turn around to avoid twisting the body. Adjustable suspenders or support should be available when operating heavy tools. This decreases muscular effort and pressure exerted on the back. Reducing Injury and Increasing ProductivityThe potential for reducing injury related costs alone makes ergonomic interventions a useful tool for improving a company's productivity, product quality, and overall business competitiveness. Often, productivity gets an additional and solid shot in the arm when managers and workers take a fresh look at how best to use energy, equipment, and exertion to get the job done in the most efficient, effective, and effortless way possible. Ergonomics, Moving Toward Fork Truck FreeErgonomics in material handling focuses on the prevention, not treatment, of work-related injuries. It aims to eliminate fatigue and discomfort before the employee experiences a painful musculoskeletal disorder. Tow tractors with heavy-duty carts are now widely used to move materials efficiently. Even companies that are hesitant to give up forklifts at first are now using tugger trucks as they gently move toward a fork truck-free environment. Both manned and unmanned trucks have proven to be more efficient, more cost effective, and more productive. Most importantly, they are also more ergonomic and more flexible to use than the traditional forklifts. Andy Legut is the Midwest Sales Manager for FlexQube, Inc. and the longest running North American employee for FlexQube. He has years of experience working alongside different manufacturing facilities and providing ergonomic, efficient, and safe FlexQube solutions. Legut is from Grosse Ile, Mich. (not far from Detroit), so he has grown up with the automotive industry in his blood. He can be reached at 734-624- 2121 or [email protected] Posted on Apr 26, 2019 Let's block ads! (Why?)

Operator Digital Twins: Doubling Up to Boost Safety in the Oil and Gas Space

Operator Digital Twins: Doubling Up to Boost Safety in the Oil and Gas Space We are living in the era of intelligence.The fourth industrial revolution is well underway. Following in the footsteps of mechanization, the assembly line and the IT revolution, digital transformation including Cyber-Physical Systems, IoT Networks and Digital Twins are driving this latest installment of the industrial revolution. In fact, by the end of 2019, digital transformation spending will reach $1.7 trillion worldwide – with investments in everything from robotics, drones and connected sensors to virtual and augmented reality, big data and analytics, wearables, and apps. Safety is driving change in the oil and gas workplace.Many of these technologies – especially wearables – are helping us create safer work environments by creating awareness of operator location in context, tracking exposure to hazardous environments, removing operator fatigue as an incident root case, and getting real-time critical information to the plant floor when it matters most. Say hello to the Operator Digital Twin.The Digital Twin concept has been talked about a lot in relation to physical assets. So how might we exponentially improve worker safety by applying digital twin concepts to our human assets? Here's how it works. Your employee is outfitted with wearable technologies . . . smart electronic devices incorporated into clothing or worn on the body as implants or accessories, such as: Smart watch Wearable holographic computers or Smart Heads-up Display (HUD) Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) Tags Smart workwear (biometric vests, hard hats, boots) Microchips Via the cloud and utilizing the intelligent edge, IoT data is collected to inform machine learning, statistical models and physical models – thereby creating the virtual doppelgänger – the Operator Digital Twin. These data are used to model the human twin's work habits, provide fatigue modeling, and identify hazards in the environment. For example: Measure trips, falls, step frequency, and acceleration, leveraging the data to identify previously unknown hazards and the person's exposure to them. Monitor location (GPS, RFID) and thereby be able to quickly assess proximity to potential hazards and incidents and advise the affected personnel in real time. Alert to unsafe environment conditions. Monitor various potential exposures such as weights being lifted, Fatigue prediction exposures, exposure to radiation, then generate immediate mitigation actions. Resource extraction company deploys Operator Digital Twin for safer operations.A case in point – to reduce safety incidents, a U.S.-based company employed Operator Digital Twins to track key biometrics data and used machine learning (ML) to build twin models specifically for fatigue prediction. This operation runs 24/7 and includes high-risk elements such as large earth-moving equipment, ledges without safety rails, and other factors that contribute to incidents resulting in serious injury or even death. The outcome? The company runs a fatigue prediction score and has activated early fatigue alerting and equipment emergency shutdown in critical fatigue situations. Opportunity is not without obstacles.While the Operator Digital Twin model opens up a world of possibilities for the oil and gas industry, there are a few challenges to consider: Hardware – Wearables still need to improve in the areas of connectivity, power consumption, heat and emissions, ergonomics, functionality, durability and safety. Privacy – Due to the nature of the information collected, anonymizing the retained data is a must and GDPR creates additional challenges in that regard. Compliance – Wearables that aren't accepted by employees into the corporate culture tend to be damaged, forgotten, or otherwise neglected. In a recent personnel tracking project, Avanade found a 70 percent compliance rate – it needs to be higher. Cultural transformation – The move toward Operation Digital Twins requires a massive change in the way people think and work. Neglecting cultural change management will only lead to low compliance rates and ultimately reduce the ROI from both safety and financial standpoints. The time is now to start thinking about how Operator Digital Twins can help improve workplace safety, security, and productivity at your organization. Avanade Director and Southwest Innovation Lead Thor Schueler is a results-driven leader, engaging presenter, strategist, and subject matter expert in the digital innovation ecosystem space. His expertise spans more than 25 years working with transformative technologies, including SaaS/cloud, application development, Enterprise Content Management, and the Microsoft stack, including SharePoint, Office 365 and Azure applications. He joined Avanade in 2017, where he plays a key role as Innovation Lead for the Southwest region, working with clients in oil and gas, construction, and other industries to drive innovation with game-changing digital solutions. His earlier career includes customer-facing and technical positions at global and start-up consulting firms. He earned a Master of Science, Electrical Engineering and Information Technology degree from Dresden University of Technology in Dresden, Germany, and holds numerous leadership, project management, software development and technical designations. Posted on Mar 26, 2019 Let's block ads! (Why?)

Lessons From the Lazy River

Lessons From the Lazy River A few years ago I did some contract work for a large construction and engineering firm. My division specialized in partnering with large manufacturing facilities to perform facility maintenance. One morning, the Operations Manager at the beverage facility I was working in at the time called in a "huge waterfall" that needed to be contained immediately. Mostly out of sheer curiosity, I tagged along with my Project Manager and two of our mechanical technicians to witness the spectacle. The PM made it clear to us that we were not going to do the work, only survey it and tell the client if we could (contractual stuff, you know). We arrived at the site and sure enough, it was not simply a waterfall. It was, indeed, a "HUGE" one. The facility had a 40" pipe that snaked throughout the production areas that was used to transport waste process water. They called it the Lazy River. That day the river was not lazy in the least. From what we were told, the leak had been minor up until that morning. In their desire to not halt production, someone had attempted to patch the pipe with cardboard and duct tape (literally). That hadn't worked at all and the waterfall was now spewing all over the room. As we approached, the technicians and I began assessing the issue to figure out how we might accomplish the task. I was there for Safety oversight, of course, so I began identifying all of the potential risks I could see along with one of the technicians. "That pipe right underneath the leak is asbestos," he said. "Is that a problem?" I looked it over and offhandedly made a joke. "No, it's already wet. Shouldn't be an issue." We both chuckled but then continued assessing the risks, to include the asbestos pipe. In the end, however, our company was not asked to assist with the fix. The client decided to take care of it on their own and the commotion died down shortly after. The next day I was called in to Human Resources. There I was informed that some anonymous employee(s) had reported that I had knowingly exposed our associates to asbestos hazards. Once I collected myself and cooled down from my immediate angry response to that false accusation, I was cleared of the charge. There were quite a few life lessons that I took away from that episode, but in particular, the event left me with two profound safety lessons. 1st: What you say as a Safety & Health Practitioner is INCREDIBLY important. 2nd: We must educate employees about the difference between a RISK and a HAZARD. That first lesson doesn't need much explanation. It should go without saying, but remember, we Safety Practitioners run the risk of misinterpretation, misrepresentation, or just outright falsehood every time we open our mouths. Once it occurs, it doesn't matter why your words are not understood, so don't get too wrapped up in that. The key is ensuring that your message is clear, consistent, and correct. That's not to say you can't make a mistake, but we should be making every reasonable effort to send the right message. It's a burden that should never be taken lightly because people are trusting us to make responsible decisions that will affect their very lives. Humor has its place, just be sure it stays where it should (and who you say it to). The second lesson is a bit more nuanced. As I just mentioned, safety affects people's lives. So, often discussions about safety are inherently emotional. Most would agree that people tend not to make great decisions when our emotions are heightened, so allowing emotion to govern worker safety is a flawed strategy. I've witnessed it throughout my career, however. Even by some who are well experienced and competent safety professionals. The scenario can play out anywhere, but we've all likely witnessed at least one safety inspection gone awry where the "inspector" finds some egregious violation or hazard and comes unglued. I would tend to refer them back to lesson #1 in those cases and remind them that what they say matters. In my experience, workers don't respond well to righteous indignation. We should consider one essential function of our jobs as Safety Practitioners to be removing the emotion from the safety discussion. That will help employees distinguish between what is a hazard and what is a risk (to them personally). If we are not good at that task, we run the risk of allowing people to get "spun up" about things that are not likely to cause them harm while entirely missing the things that will. Let me use the Lazy River story to illustrate that. If my organization had taken on that repair job, we would have been working at a height of about 15 feet in very close quarters. While it's true that there was an asbestos pipe near the work, it was fully intact (not in a friable state) and scaffold could easily have been erected that would have isolated the workers from it. So in this case, though asbestos certainly has hazards associated with it, it would not have posed a risk of exposure. On the other hand, there was an exposed, energized electrical junction box that was directly beneath the waterfall. There would have been no way to avoid being near it, or probably even touching it. No one noticed it except me because they were too excited about the scary asbestos pipe. That was the real risk. The Safety field is full of meaningful lessons like these every day. Most are not life-altering lessons, but they are things that need to be shared. Looking at the work world through an objective lens goes a long way toward rationally identifying hazards at a work site, then deliberately managing them based on the risks associated. We should always strive to attack the risks that matter most without getting lost in a sea of hazards. Our people will be better, and safer, when we do. Jason Maldonado ([email protected]) is a Certified Safety Professional and SMS with 15 years of varied industry experience. Currently employed by Leprino Foods, he is the safety manager at a mozzarella factory that employs nearly 700 people. Posted on Mar 22, 2019 Let's block ads! (Why?)

10 Essential Items Every Carpenter Should Have When Working in the Cold and Snow

10 Essential Items Every Carpenter Should Have When Working in the Cold and Snow Carpenters are often concerned more about how the weather affects the wood than how it affects them, but harsh weather is not to be taken lightly by the worker wielding a saw. When you're handling heavy machinery in sub-zero temps and aren't wearing the proper gear, you risk reduced dexterity, numbness and pain—all symptoms that could put you in danger when you're working with sharp objects. Those big machines take up a lot of space and, for many woodworkers, that means spending a fair amount of time working in the shed, garage or outdoors. Be sure that you have the items from the following list to keep you safe, dexterous and productive when temperatures are low. A pair of warm work gloves. A carpenter's best, most called-to-action tools aren't his circular saw, tape measure, or hammer. They're his hands. Smart, hands-on workers need to invest in a good pair of high-quality carpentry gloves that are three things simultaneously: warm, flexible, and protective. Look for a pair that has extra insulation and protective pads on the fingers and palms to keep you safe from cold shock, frostbite and injury. Gloves that let you use your phone and other electronics will help reduce the temptation to remove them, effectively keeping hands even warmer. A high-tech hot beverage cup. One of the simplest ways you can quickly warm the body and the hands is by sipping or holding a hot cup of liquid. Whether it's a fresh-brewed cup of coffee, some hot chocolate, or herbal tea, always carry a warm beverage that helps you maintain a safe body temperature. Look for cups and mugs that have double-wall, vacuum-insulated designs to keep hot drinks hotter for longer. A face mask that won't affect vision. The face mask is one very fundamental but often-overlooked piece of outdoor apparel for those who work in the cold. Not only do the right masks or balaclavas help to seal out cold on one of your body's most vulnerable and exposed areas, but they also help prevent your respiratory passageways from becoming dry, which can lead to pain and coughing due to breathing in cold, dry air. A pair of ultra-warm coveralls. Ditch your typical carpenter overalls for a pair of performance-grade carpentry coveralls that pack in the warmth. These are great second layers for the agile worker who does a lot of moving around, as they eliminate any vulnerable openings or gaps and ensure that more parts of your body are sealed off from the bitter cold. The right coveralls will be made with the carpenter in mind, with tool loops and extra pockets to stash all the small tools you reach for more than others. A reliable weather app. Don't dismiss the cold even in mild temps - you may be at risk for hypothermia, even in temps as high as 50°F. Your level of risk depends on how cold it is, how cold it feels (know the wind chill factor) and how long you plan to be outside. You might be at a high risk for developing frostbite even if temperatures are hovering around 32°F when the wind is strong enough. Monitor the temperature and wind chill closely with a reliable weather app on your phone or tablet. A cold weather emergency kit. In the event that you or one of your coworkers experiences symptoms of cold shock, such as hypothermia or frostbite, you should be prepared with a cold weather emergency kit. It should contain a warm wool blanket, a first aid kit, and water. If you do a fair amount of driving from work site to work site in the winter, be sure your truck is equipped with a winter vehicle emergency kit. A portable heater and shelter. To avoid cold shock in very frigid weather, you need to be able to take frequent short breaks from the cold. Often, if you're working on construction sites or in-progress environments, there's no easy and warm place to retreat. Create a temporary "break room" with a portable electric heater and a temporary shelter to trap the heat. Just make sure you use a tent heater to reduce the risk of fire. A set of single-use hand warmers. Another great accessory for your truck or cold-weather emergency kit, the single-use hand warmer provides an instant boost of warmth to quickly torch your hands, feet and other parts of the body. The warmers are activated by breaking the package, are usually fully heated up within 15 or 30 minutes, and can last all day. Warm, well-fitting boots. It can be a challenge for carpenters who work in extreme environments to find safe, comfortable work boots that just so happen to be warm, too. The difference between winter-ready carpentry boots and those used the rest of the year is that the former should be waterproof and provide extra insulation. When all you can think about is how cold your feet are, you aren't thinking about the job at hand. A set of thermal base layers. Though not as vital as your outer layers, your base layers can make a massive difference when the weather is nasty. These are the thin, moisture-wicking garments you wear closest to your skin, otherwise known as thermal or long underwear. They act like extra layers of skin to seal out wind and cold while also helping mitigate and evaporate sweat, keeping you dry. Your Body Relies on Your Safety at WorkAs an all-season carpenter, it's extremely important that you pay close attention to the weather and do everything you can do to avoid frostbite, hypothermia, and other cold-related conditions. Remember that your most expensive and important tools are the parts of your body—fingers, toes and back, among others—so you have to do everything you can to keep them safe while on the job. Just like each project, days working in the cold require a little bit of preparation for safety and success. Natalie Bucsko is a Marketing Communications Specialist with RefrigiWear. Posted on Mar 04, 2019 Let's block ads! (Why?)

Roadside Safety & The First Responder You've Probably Forgotten

Roadside Safety & The First Responder You've Probably Forgotten This year marks the 25th anniversary of the event that led to the enactment of the first Move Over law in the United States, aimed at helping keep our first responders safe. On Jan. 28, 1994, a passing vehicle struck paramedic James Garcia on the side of a two-lane highway near Lexington, S.C., while he was responding to a distress call. Not only did Garcia suffer permanent impairment to his left arm and leg, but he was also considered at fault simply because he was doing his job. At the time of the accident, neither South Carolina nor any other state offered comprehensive protections to emergency workers either on the side of the road or in it. In nearly all cases, vehicles had the right of way. However, in the last two and a half decades, thanks to the efforts of James and many others, Move Over laws have been implemented in all 50 states. These laws require drivers to move over a lane or slow down when passing active, but stopped or parked, emergency or service vehicles. However, even today, these types of accidents involving first responders still occur all too often – and one type of first responder is being put at particular risk: the tow operator. Approximately 30 percent of the public remains unaware of Move Over laws, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. In addition, these laws can be difficult to enforce and many drivers consider them as mere suggestion rather than rule. In Tennessee, for instance, nearly 2,300 people in 2018 were ticketed for not moving over – an increase of almost 50 percent from two years ago.   Further, even when drivers are aware of the need to slow down when safe to do so and switch lanes, there is a misconception that Move Over applies only to roadside police, EMTs, or firefighters, and they therefore often fail to move over for tow operators, even though laws in all 50 states include these professionals. As a result, the job of a tow operator is one of the most dangerous – and overlooked – in the world, sometimes arriving to accidents or roadside incidents even before law enforcement, medics, or firefighters and usually staying well after others have left to clean up. (Police officers often leave accidents scenes before tow truck drivers have cleared the disabled vehicle, leaving them potentially unprotected and vulnerable to traffic.) More Light Must Be Shed on Dangers Drivers FaceEvery day, tow operators face aggressive drivers, hazards on the side of the road, and the risks of operating heavy equipment. According to the International Towing Museum, an average of 60 tow operators are killed each year after being struck by vehicles on the side of the road. This means that the towing industry sees one death approximately every six days. Already this year, tow operators in more than a dozen states have been struck by passing vehicles or assaulted by angry drivers. Because of this, the towing industry nationwide is suffering. Tow operators both large and small are facing significant driver availability and retention headwinds as alternative and less dangerous opportunities, such as shared-ride services or parcel delivery, attract employees. This high-risk profession is also increasingly difficult to insure, and several prominent insurers have dropped their tow liability coverage options, causing costs to skyrocket. As tow businesses struggle, the potential reverberation across other industries – from automotive companies to insurance providers, motor clubs to municipalities – could be great, especially considering the need for this profession isn't slowing. Vehicle miles traveled – a significant force driving roadside and tow incident rates – are increasing. Today, cars are owned longer and driven farther. And, near into the future, autonomous vehicle technology will increase car use, with cars driven potentially 20 times more than they are today. Further, as automotive original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) continue eliminating spare tires in new car models to reduce vehicle weight and increase fuel efficiency, more simple roadside incidents – like flat tire changes – will become tow events. More light must be shed on this issue, and there are best practices that can be followed to help. First, all drivers should familiarize themselves with the Move Over law in their state, the specifics of which may vary. Second, drivers need to abide by the law and move over when able. Third, it's important to spread the word and speak up when a friend, family member, or taxi driver doesn't comply. Additionally, the Smith System's Smith5Keys can help encourage safer driving behavior. For industries that rely heavily on tow services, consider the implications that tow industry challenges may have your business and partnerships, such as rising costs. Evaluate your existing partnerships and consider whether these issues are being addressed. Like all first responders, tow operators set aside their own safety to help those in need. By spreading awareness of the dangers of this profession and the importance of following Move Over laws, we can help to better ensure the safety of our tow operators. Fortunately, several states have recently acted and renewed efforts around Move Over. In the last few months, laws in Virginia, Tennessee, and North Carolina, for example, have been evaluated for expansion (to now include all vehicles with flashing lights) or updated to deliver harsher punishments for violators. For more information, you can visit the Tow and Recovery Museum's website. This organization welcomes contributions to help support families of the tow operators who have lost their lives in the line of service. George Horvat, chief operating officer, is responsible for Agero's network and contact center functions, allowing the company to more effectively deliver a comprehensive, streamlined, and differentiated roadside experience for drivers in their moments of need. Posted on Feb 22, 2019

Workplace Eye Safety: From Vulnerability to Resilience

Workplace Eye Safety: From Vulnerability to Resilience You'd be hard pressed to find a company today that doesn't think it has a handle on promoting and protecting eye safety. However, the current statistics indicate that this is an area where too few organizations actually see 20/20. Some 2,000 U.S. workers suffer eye injuries that require medical treatment on a daily basis, for example, with an annualized cost to companies to the tune of $300 million in medical bills, compensation and time off. Within the manufacturing, transportation and warehousing sectors, moreover, there are over 7,000 on-the-job eye injuries annually. Clearly, there's a lot of room for improvement. In recognition of Workplace Eye Wellness month this March, here's how companies can assess the maturity of their safety models—and move from a position of reactive vulnerability to proactive and predictive resilience. Five Stages of Safety MaturityOrganizations that continually grow in their ability to identify and control specific hazards are far more effective at moving the needle when it come to injury prevention generally and eye-injury prevention specifically. So how and where should you get started? When it comes to assessing the maturity of your workforce safety model, it can be useful to think in terms of five distinct stages. Use the following diagnostic criteria to identify where your organization is today. Vulnerable: These organizations are characterized by a dangerous "no care culture." When accidents occur, these organizations naively accept them as simply part of the cost of doing business. There's little or no training around safety—with the result that accidents and incidents can sometimes be downplayed or not reported at all. Worse, near-misses are seldom recognized as opportunities for prevention and improvement, nor are they considered gaps in planning or in the system that created them. Apathy and resistance to change are characteristic of leadership and workers alike, leaving workers vulnerable to similar mishaps going forward. Apathy or resistance to change are endemic at these organizations among leadership and workers alike. Reactive: These organizations foster a "culture of blame"—and all told, they aren't doing much better than "Vulnerable" organizations. These companies similarly lack accurate recordkeeping data around incidents, most of their efforts focused on recovery efforts to restore business as usual. By restricting communication around safety and training to a need-to-know basis, these organizations tend to frame employee error as a de facto catch-all cause for safety incidents. Compliant: "Compliant" organizations have begun to accurately track incident data and are learning to better understand why incidents occur. And that starts with early efforts to set goals and assign responsibility for key safety metrics. By increasing involvement in safety planning and communication across other business units, what's more, these organizations are also able to improve overall safety efforts — and leveraging these improvements can be an important catalyst for continual improvement across other business units. Proactive: By moving toward a "culture of ownership," these organizations have begun to successfully clarify roles and responsibilities around safety. They also have specific preventive measures as well as post-incident measures in place. From leadership down to front-line personnel, detailed safety communications are a basic component of day-to-day work. And because continual risk and hazard assessments inform leadership’s outlook, we also find robust training, communication and awareness processes in place at these organizations, too.  Transformational: "Safety is the way we work" is the mantra at these organizations. In other words, safety concerns have become an instinctive part of how these organizations recognize and manage risks on an end-to-end, enterprise-wide basis. Solid safety management systems are in place. Plus, front-line ownership and senior leadership are aligned on safety expectations — with mutual respect and dependency between them for driving excellence in safety performance. Leaders at these organizations view safety as an opportunity for continued learning and improvement, and view their employees as part of the solution to potential future safety challenges. Evolving the Maturity of Your Safety CultureThe journey from a "Vulnerable" to "Transformational" safety culture isn't going to happen overnight, but you need to get started right away if you want to see improvements around eye safety in the workplace—today and in the future. Here are three essential focus areas to help you out. Safety planning: Safety planning means assessing hazards, of course, but it goes further than that, too. That means identifying practices and work methods that create risks, with the goal of eliminating these risks or at least reducing them to acceptable levels. So you'll need to comprehensively review policies and procedures. From there, you can create a roadmap for managing and measuring change — that should help ensure greater buy-in and awareness from stakeholders at all levels of the organization. Emerging risks: To transition from a reactive to a predictive approach, you need to carefully evaluate emerging risks—and consider how your goal setting for prevention is connected to managing those risks. Plus, you should think through how risk potential relates to frequent and minor risks, as well as infrequent and severe risks, too. At the end of the day, eye injuries are often best controlled through a combination of approaches—better work practices together with improved personal protective equipment (PPE), for instance. Beyond that, accountability and other workplace safety best practices must be promoted by leadership and tracked with metrics. Feedback and engagement: Far too often there are gaps between safety planning at the leadership level and what actually winds up happening at the employee level. That's why ongoing engagement and feedback from actual employees is so important. Town hall meetings, surveys, and leadership interaction at the floor level are all smart ways to promote that kind of engagement. Ultimately, the goal is to ensure that robust safety planning doesn't just exist in the abstract, but connects the workforce at both ends of the spectrum—leaders and workers—around shared safety goals. Looking to evolve your safety maturity? Start with these three areas and you should begin to see measurable improvements in eye safety in no time. Strengthen Your Safety Vision Over TimeWorkplace Eye Wellness month in March brings with it heightened awareness of the risks related to eye safety at work, but in reality, this needs to be a commitment all year-round. By using the framework we've outlined in this article, you should have a clear sense of where your organization stands today—and what the next steps are to improve. Corey Berghoefer, Senior Vice President of Risk Management & Insurance with staffing firm Randstad US, is a risk management expert with more than a decade’s worth of experience in safety and risk management, underwriting and loss control, claims management, and risk financing, accounting’ and insurance. He manages a department of 47 risk professionals with the goal of implementing proven risk management strategies into Randstad's overall business platform. Under his direction, Randstad has become acclaimed for its enterprise-wide risk management strategies, workers' compensation practices, and comprehensive focus on talent safety. He holds a BA from the University of Notre Dame and an MBA from the University of Georgia. Posted on Feb 21, 2019