Author Archives: Stefanie Valentic EHS Today

Safety 2019: Active Shooter Survival

Six months into 2019, the United States is experiencing an average of two mass shootings per month. Mike Bewley, safety manager at the public works department of Austin, Texas, conveyed the importance of preparing workers for active shooting incidents to Safety 2019 attendees. According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), a mass shooting is defined as an incident in which four or more lives are claimed by the perpetrator. The shooter's main goal is multiple casualties in a short span of time. The majority of mass shooters strategize for years before taking action. They are not looking to take hostages and they are not looking to negotiate, Bewley said. "These guys know they're on the clock, and law enforcement is going to be there in about 10 minutes," he said. "Because of that, they're not going to stop searching for victims. He's probably going to shoot everything in sight." Bewley's insights into the "Run, Hide, Fight" preparedness method provided attendees a basis for their emergency response plans. Run "The goal is to get those sirens inbound to your location," Bewley said. "When the shooter hears those sirens, they're going to think more about shooting themselves than shooting others." At first indication that there is a shooting, leave the area if possible. Encourage people around to leave with you, but do not delay your exit. Once you're out of the area of building, call 911 if you have your cell phone. Tell the dispatcher the following: "Active Shooter," then the address Keep moving away from the building. You cannot become a target if the shooter cannot see you. If police are approaching the building as you exit, hold up your empty hands. "There's magic words that generate a response to a police department," he explained. "If you say 'active shooter,' you're going to get an overwhelming response." Hide "Do not hide under your desk or table," he cautioned. "You need to tell your employees that. The shooter knows you're hiding." If you determine you cannot run, you must hide. First choice is a room that you can either lock or barricade the door. Turn off the lights, silence your cell phone. Get down, bullets will penetrate sheet rock. If you cannot find a room, hide behind something that will absorb or deflect a bullet such as a low wall or heavy object. Do not hide under a table. "Many persons have survived the initial shooting by playing dead," he said. "However, the shooter will often return and shoot everyone again." Fight "The shooter is not prepared to fight you," Bewley told attendees. "He is counting on you to freeze when he points the gun your way. Don't just stand there and let yourself get shot." If you cannot run or you cannot find a secure hiding place, you must fight the shooter if they confront you. Use anything around you as a weapon. (Mops, staplers, pencils, fingers, shoe heels) Target vulnerable parts of the shooter's body. (Eyes, throat, groin or even the weapon itself) You MUST commit yourself to the attack. "If you attack the weapon, you take away all of its power," he explained. Bewley completed the presentation by stressing the importance of training workers to treat injuries in an active shooting situation. This, he said, could both assist law enforcement and save lives. "It's up to us to train our people to be immediate responders and take appropriate action," he said. A patient collection point should be established at the front of the building. In addition, workers should attempt to evaluate victims' wounds and stop further bleeding. Once that is completed, victims should be placed in a recovery position so law enforcement and medical responders know they have been evaluated. "Unfortunately, we need to have these conversations because the threat is evolving," Bewley concluded. Let's block ads! (Why?)

Safety 2019: Worker Fatigue, Incident Prevention and Well Being

Have you ever been so exhausted that it hurts? Fatigue, which is a common issue among overworked Americans, is the root cause of an overwhelming number of preventable workplace injuries. Phil La Duke, safety consultant and author, educated Safety 2019 attendees about what they can do to make workers aware about how lifestyle changes can improve sleep patterns and reduce fatigue. "Scientifically, you can't make up sleep," he said. "This is where we really have to be influencers to our workers." In some cases, fatigue will become so severe that medical intervention is needed. Incident rates skyrocket when fatigue is a factor, especially among those working long, 12-hour shifts or overnight. According to OSHA, accidents and injury rates are 30% greater during night shifts and workers on-the-job 12 hours per day show a 37% increased risk of injury. Although safety professionals can't mandate workers get sufficient rest, they can be influence and promote healthy lifestyle changes. "There's not much we can do in terms of practicality, but we can watch for symptoms and we can make them aware," La Duke said. Common symptoms of fatigue include headache, dizziness, sore or aching muscles, muscle weakness, slowed reflexes, impaired decision making, moodiness, chronic tiredness, sleepiness, impaired hand-to-eye coordination, appetite loss, reduced immune system function, blurry vision, memory problems, poor concentration, hallucinations, reduced attention span and low motivation.  Safety professionals need to take initative and instruct front line supervisors to pull workers off the floor who show signs of fatigue.  "If they're not fit for work, we don't want to put them to work. If you don't do this, you're going to have blood on your hands," he cautioned. "You need to do something now because this is killing people." Creating awareness of a healthy lifestyle is the key to improving worker well being. Safety professionals should encourage exercising and taking longer, more-frequent breaks. La Duke also recommended campaigning for better eating options at the workplace. In addition, make it clear that physical fitness is a gradual change, not one that offers immediate results. La Duke referenced countries across the globe that already have implemented governmental regulations in order to improve worker well being. The United States will soon join those countries as workers increasingly suffer the effects of burnout and fatigue. "Too many people are breaking down to the point that they are being mentally and physically disabled," La Duke said. "This is overwhelming our social security system." Let's block ads! (Why?)

Now Loading: The Next Generation of Safe Drivers

High school student Javier Diaz was labeled as a failure in an education system where the necessity of a four-year college degree is propagated from early childhood. On a path to self-destruction, he enrolled in Dave Dein’s truck-driving course at Patterson High School in Patterson, Calif, a decision that would change his life. “[Diaz] got so used to be labeled as a failure for so many years in the academic setting. He was growing up to become a really good failure,’ says Dein, who is the CDL coordinator/instructor at Patterson. “His dad came to me about halfway through the year and he’s like, ‘I’m here to shake your hand for saving my son.’ I said, ‘what do you mean?’ He says, ‘before my son took your class, he had no self-esteem. He had no value. He had no purpose. For the first time in his life, he feels like he is somebody. He has something to contribute.’ Literally this kid just kind of took his life and did a 180 with it.” Diaz became the youngest person hired by one of Patterson High School’s industry partners. As the vocational/technical worker shortage continues to pose a challenge for industries such as trucking, companies are looking to former employees-turned-educators to promote trades and effectively train the next generation of workers.  For Dein, a foray into trucking education is his proactive way of addressing the gap through turning out a new generation of skilled, safe drivers. Hitting the Road Despite a high-salary incentive, the shortage of qualified drivers continues to grow.  According to the American Trucking Associations, the number of for-hire positions open surpassed 50,000 in 2017 and has continued to climb since then. A lack of routine, significant time away from family and disrespect from other vehicle drivers is the reality of being a trucker, according to professionals. However, the pay exceeds the cons for those who drive, with some companies paying up to $90,000 per year. Former-hauler Dein saw this shortage and the call to address it. The idea, which began as a non-profit to assist ex-convicts, transformed into helping high school students in Patterson. Patterson High School is in the center of a distribution “mecca,” home to facilities operated by Amazon, CVS, Grainger, Kohls and other large corporations. The implementation of a trucking vocational path was a no-brainer at the school, which also boasts a supply chain and logistics program for warehouse workers. “I made a call to the superintendent, and I said I know you guys have this great logistics program, but have you thought about doing truck driving?” Dein says. “I gave him some facts, and he’s said let’s do it. So, we spent a year putting together a curriculum, and we launched the program.” A Wholistic Approach Integrating the truck driving program directly into Patterson High School’s curriculum has allowed Dein to better prepare certified students for a career on the road. Students attend class one hour per day for an entire year, allowing Dein to dive deep into areas such as distracted driving. This contrasts with two-week truck driving schools that turn out drivers who are often less aware of the hazards and pitfalls of being behind the wheel for long durations.  “We just don’t look at the skills,” Dein explains. “We look at the industry as a whole. We look at what’s going on in the industry. What are the emerging trends? What are the new technologies? We’re growing up in an era with students or just young people that they’re very connected to their phones. We spend a lot of time and I give them visuals of what happens when you do take your eyes off that road for one or two seconds.” When Dein developed the curriculum, he knew traditional lectures and PowerPoint presentations weren’t going to reinforce concepts in the classroom.  “Technology is all about being relatable. The generation you are working with now, you just can’t give them a textbook and say read this and take a test on it,” he explains. “They want to feel engaged, they want to feel empowered. The use of technology can be a huge benefit in training and providing those skills for students.” Dein utilizes Worklete, a mobile-ready technology platform for training workers in transportation, shipping and logistics industries to reduce musculoskeletal injuries. The company developed a specialized version of the software to teach students about specific risks associated with the physical demands of the occupation. “What we’re doing with Patterson is we’re doing a really cool accelerated program where they go through 18 unique, different courses or pieces of curriculum,” describes John Post, Worklete co-founder and chief product officer.  At the end of the semester, the company’s representatives spend a day at Patterson High School to certify students in the program in core competencies. “That means that they’re certified to go and give coaching and feedback on working techniques to other folks within these industries,” Post says. “A lot of our customers are these big trucking, warehousing and logistics companies. This not only gives these students a very high quality of training, but it’s also making them really desirable.” This takes some pressure off of companies, trainers and safety managers when they hire workers who are already familiar with certain concepts.   “They get to coach and give feedback on stuff that people are already learning from us,” he says. “Instead of having to teach everything to every single person first hand, they just get to become reinforcers and coaches and give feedback. That’s one really big advantage.” With industry partners and access to technology such as Worklete, Dein hopes to attract more high school students to vocational careers such as trucking.  Before this happens, however, there needs to be better communication between schools and industry about what types of workers and training is needed. Dein says has been “flooded” with support with the industry since the launch of the program just last year. Other school districts in the area and beyond already have inquired about starting their own initiatives after seeing Patterson’s success in such a short period of time. “They’re just like whatever you need, we’re here to help,” he says. “So, we started creating partnerships. That’s been a game changer. I think we really need to see more of these proactive type approaches between schools and industry.”  Let's block ads! (Why?)

Safety 2019: Cultural Barriers in the Latino Workforce

In a flash session at Safety 2019, Carmen Julia Castellon, Health and Safety Specialist for U.S. Cellular, explained the difficulties employers and safety managers face with a growing foreign-born Latino workforce. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), Latino workers account for 19% of all workforce fatalities. Castellon, a Bolivian immigrant, first navigated through the differences between foreign-born Latinos and native-born Latinos. The BLS states that in 2015, foreign-born Latino workers accounted for 67% of the overall fatal work injuries to Hispanic or Latino workers, or 603 of 905 total reported fatalities. English proficiency among the foreign-born Latino population presents the most critical issue facing organizations and safety professionals. Native-born Latino workers have significant advantages because they are more culturally aligned in their beliefs, have better educational opportunities and don’t experience the same language barriers.  “There is a lack of communication between foreign-born Latinos, their superiors and even their coworkers because of limited language capabilities,” she said. The availability of Spanish training manuals, videos and other materials presents a challenge, often causing a communication breakdown. “Sometimes we don’t have the bilingual material we want to convey to employees,” Castellon said. “A lot of employers are opting to use signs.” A poor understanding of OSHA regulations is directly correlated to higher fatality rates. Castellon reiterated the fact that training is required to be in a language that employees can understand. Cultural barriers also contribute to a greater number of injuries and fatalities. Foreign-born workers often will accept instructions without second thoughts even when the direction is unclear. “It is very cultural that we do not ask questions,” Castellon told attendees. “Because of their legal status, it is a fear to say that something is not safe or ‘I don’t want to work’ because of fear of retaliation.” Cultural beliefs, values and religion also play a part. Castellon said that many foreign-born workers will not use personal protective equipment because they do not use it at home. “As safety professionals, we can act as cultural leaders instead and take time to understand the culture,” she advised. Safety managers can work to reduce the foreign-born Latino fatality rate through: Working to break cultural barriers; Providing step-by-step direction and detailed explanations; Giving the employee authority to stop if unsafe work is observed; and Creating an inclusive and safe environment for a multicultural workforce. “We need to give them the power and empower them to say ‘this is not safe’ without fear of retaliation,” she said. Let's block ads! (Why?)

Safety 2019: Challenging Assumptions

Although Nicole Malachowski is not a safety professional, risk was at the forefront of her duties as the first female member of the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds. Malachowski opened for the American Society of Safety Professionals (ASSP)'s Safety 2019 conference in New Orleans. "As taxpayers, you trained me to be a fighter pilot, but paid me to be a risk mitigator," she emphatically told the audience. Malachowski connected her experience to explain to attendees why labeling others and making assumptions only breeds subpar performance, and looking beyond the surface is necessary to building a world-class safety culture. Querying Expectations To establish safety excellence at an organization, Malachowski first told the audience about the importance of listen to each and every person on the team. "At first glance we assume things about people," she said. "Elite teams are going to go above the things they initially think and feel." When people look down at one another, they make assumptions on who they are and what they do. This, Malachowski said, can only limit a person's potential. Malachowski told attendees about the obstacles she faced early in her career. Some Air Force colleagues challenged her goal of becoming a Thunderbird pilot, telling her that just because she was a woman and the U.S. Air Force never had a female pilot, that it was impossible for her to become one. "'It's too big of a dream. It's gnarly,' they said. Other people become fighter pilots not you,'" she recalled. "'You know it's hard Nicole. They never had a female pilot before. You won't get picked.'" Pretty soon, she was echoing those same sentiments, lowering Malachowski's self esteem. When she asked her superiors for recommendations, staff members told her that they were not sure commanding officers would want to waste a recommendation on her. "I became ashamed and embarrassed, " she explained. "I almost let others' expectations of me dictate what I wanted to do." However, Malachowski was determined to compete for the opportunity and to buck the status quo. She wanted her Thunderbird wings. One day, in a conversation with General Mark Matthews, Malachowski had a breakthrough. He told her, "Nobody wants to live a scripted life." Those words were the catalyst to push Malachowski forward. Pretty soon, she broke through the tape and worked her way to becoming the first female member of the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds. Through changing her thinking and pushing aside the naysayers, she was able to accomplish her goal. "It's human nature. We're always trying to grow and to do bigger things," she told attendees. "Don't ever write yourself out of the script. How do you decide when to take those naysayers and try to bring them to your side and when to decide to cut them off and let it go?" She continued, "If you know who you are, what you do and value makes it easier to compartmentalize the naysayers. At the end of the day, safety professionals have a responsibility to keep others safe. Workers' lives are in your hands.... What you do is a good and noble thing. Remember during stressful times why you do what you do. Nothing of significance is ever accomplished alone." Maximizing Insight and Harnessing Vulnerability Working with a team that supports the mission and works for one common goal is crucial to maximizing insight. Every member has a special task, strengths and weaknesses that contribute and move the entire team forward. A safety professional has to actively accept and show gratitude for others' expertise. This leads to trustworthiness across the board. "Your teammates take as much time doing their jobs as you do," Malachowski said. "Sometimes you think you can do better, but you have to see someone for their expertise. It's about the importance of acknowledging the role of everyone on the team. Mutual respect leads to safety excellence." Malachowski drew parallels to the Wingman Contract of the Air Force –– an unspoken understanding that acknowledges the common goals and performance standards necessary to ensure unique missions are completed to the highest standards out of shared commitment to the team. Part of this unspoken contract is creating an environment of vulnerability. "At the end of the day, we're all doing the right thing out of caring," she said. "What kind of teammate are you? What kind of culture are you creating where people are comfortable asking for help?" If a safety professional focuses on holding themselves just as accountable as the workers they protect, the level of trust to performance will go up exponentially. Safety leaders must provide an protect an open value for feedback. This led Malachowski to her greatest accomplishment of her career: Steel Sharpens Steel, an initiative she created to harness vulnerability among her team members and to collectively learn from mistakes. Malachowski came up with the idea shortly after becoming a new commanding leader of the U.S. Air Force. Two of her lead pilots make what she called a "junior varsity" mistake, flying through a wildlife refuge full of geese and other animals.  Instead of demoting those team members, Malachowski ordered them to stand in front of their peers and explain the unsafe behavior. Admitting the mistake, she said, was more difficult than outright punishment. Being vulnerable in front of a group allowed Malachowski to use the mistake as a lesson to prevent the same incident from happening again. The Steel Sharpens Steel concept now is used through the entire U.S. Air Force. "As leaders, it's about holding everyone to the same exact standard," she said. "This is where excellence comes from." 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ASSP President Diana Stegall: Risk, Women and the C-Suite

Diana Stegall knows about risk, not from being on the floor but from observing first-hand the costs associated with workplace injuries. Her penchant for reducing risks and injury reduction began as a child.  “I would take a look at what my older brother and sister were doing and would say, ‘You could break a bone. That just looks too dangerous. I’m not going to do that,’ Stegall explains.The concern for others carried into her professional career, where she began working in the insurance industry and studied risk in several different industries. The president-elect of the American Society of Safety Professionals (ASSP) spoke with EHS Today about how she will use her experience to assist members in communicating the value of a world-class safety program. EHS Today: Please discuss your background and how you plan to use those experiences to enhance ASSP’s mission. Diana Stegall: I majored in chemistry around the time the Hazard Communication Standard came out. I remember very distinctly a switch where, all of a sudden, before lab studies, there’d be more specifics such as reviewing the material safety data sheets and the personal protective equipment you need to wear and why you need to wear it.  After college I got a job with United States Fidelity and Guarantee Company, which was an insurance company, and went through their insurance engineering and audit training program, where I really got to learn more about risk. Getting into the insurance end and what that helped me to do is to get exposed to a lot of different industries. I’ve been exposed to leaders at all levels within their organization, from floor-level line workers, facilities managers and maintenance people, all the way up to the CEO. Learning the different industries and how to relate to different levels within an organization allows me to take that information and then use my experiences to help the [safety] profession as we move forward. One of the big parts is really looking at it from a risk management perspective and understanding that there are risks in everything we do, but how do we as safety professionals start thinking about risk and not just the hazard? Saying that if there is a hazard, we need to put controls in place.  Beyond the physical controls, we’re looking at the hierarchy of controls of eliminating or substituting or administrative controls or personal protective equipment. What are some other ways we can mitigate this risk for our organization so that we can accomplish what it is we want to accomplish within our employer base? But, to do it safely and with really good risk management practices in place. EHS Today: How can you communicate to a C-suite executive how the value of safety helps the bottom line of a company? Stegall: One of the things I learned, and being on the insurance side, is how you really got to see how organizations that were proactively managing their risk had lower premiums, reduced turnover, reduced absenteeism and really a better public face.  For example, one of the things we as safety professionals do is really help to provide that competitive advantage to businesses in all industries. A couple of ways we do that are, one, sound safety practices, they’re socially responsible and they’re good business. They lead to increased productivity because employees aren’t going to have to worry about how they can do something safely without getting hurt. It also leads to higher employee satisfaction.  As I’ve worked with organizations, I’ve been able to help them understand that if we put these controls in place, it’s going to reduce the injuries that occur and that’s going to impact what you’re paying from a workers’ comp standpoint. EHS Today: What efforts are being made in terms of women in the safety industry? Stegall:  We had the Women’s Workplace Safety Summit last fall, in October. That had three main tracks—personal protective equipment, women in leadership, and violence in the workplace. We’ve pitched those because those are pretty much cross-industry.  The PPE track focused on looking at and working with the manufacturers of the equipment to say, hey, making something that is for women doesn’t just mean making it leopard print or making it pink. We really need to be looking at not just sizes but also how does it fit. Women’s bodies are a little different than men’s. So, taking those things into account. How do we get more women in the leadership roles? That starts by not just recognizing we need diversity, but we also need to be sure that people are feeling included. It’s one thing to be invited to the dance, but if you’re not being asked to dance, that’s where the inclusivity comes into play.  One thing I’ve been focusing on a little bit more is the workplace violence prevention. It is a growing risk in America and the leading cause of death for women at work. In February, ASSP published a technical report about dealing with active shooter risks.  One of the things we need to consider is that when we talk about violence in the workplace, there are signs ahead of time. It’s the bullying. It’s the harassment that occurs. It’s an environment where it’s okay to make disparaging remarks. That doesn’t help from an inclusivity standpoint. It doesn’t help from a diversity standpoint, and it can create a culture where it is acceptable to increase the violence. So, it’s not really addressing that. Some of the things that employers can do is create a comprehensive and integrated approach that addresses mental health along with the physical wellness of their workers. Also look at what are those policies and procedures we have in place and ask, “Are we really enforcing those? Are we helping our supervisors understand the warning signs of potential workplace violence?” One of the things that we talked about a lot in the breakout group at the women’s workplace summit was there is a lot of “it won’t happen here” mindset, which means that we’re not really opening our eyes to say, “Okay, what can happen?”  One of the things we’re doing within ASSP is we just submitted a statement to several members of the House of Representatives. There’s a bill—HR Bill 1309—that aims to prevent workplace violence in the healthcare and social service industries. In those two industries, you have people who are caring, who want to go into this industry, but their workplace violence incidence is higher than many of the others—not necessarily the fatality piece, but severe injuries on a regular basis.  EHS Today: What does it mean to you to be a woman in the field? Have there been any challenges or triumphs you have experienced? Stegall: I would say we’ve come a long way. My first real experience with that was when I was in high school. It was during a gifted and talented program over the summer, and the chair of the chemistry department said that, well, women shouldn’t major in chemistry.  I’ve also had situations along the way where my first employer worked a lot in the construction industry, and occasionally, you’d run into the owner of the construction company and they would say, “I don’t want no skirts on my job.” Fortunately, there was support who would say, “Diana’s good at what she does. She doesn’t wear skirts to job sites.” And we would work through that. But there would be examples of that and even just how people will refer to you. Sometimes during a meeting, even though you’re the one who’s leading the meeting, the men on the other side of the table and, unfortunately it’s not always just men, respond back even though you asked the question to the male who’s sitting beside you. So, that does still exist, but it is getting better.  At my chapter’s professional development conference in February, one of the newer members to the profession, a recent graduate who is working for a construction company, was sharing some of the challenges she is facing. She is being asked questions and asked to do things that are really outside the scope of her job and outside the scope of what someone else would be asked to do. So, her supervisor was setting her up for failure in a big way. One part of the conversation was letting her know that not all construction companies are that way. Not all supervisors are that way and providing her some resources and encouraging her to really look at other options, because no one should be put in a situation to where you are being set up for failure in a major way for something that you are perfectly competent at. But the questions that were being asked and what she was being asked to do was impacting her confidence in being able to be a safety professional and that’s just not right. Let's block ads! (Why?)

Sincerely Stefanie: Biking Safely in the Summer

I often run in the local park, where the all-purpose trail winds for miles and miles alongside a tree-lined road shared by vehicles and scores of bicyclists. The number of people I see varies depending on the weather, but it’s not uncommon to see groups of 15 or more cyclists cruising down the road at first sight of spring. Warm temps mean bikes now more common on roadways, which inevitably means a spike in bike-versus-vehicle accidents. The most recent records available from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) show there were 5,977 pedestrians and 783 bicyclists killed in crashes with motor vehicles in 2017. Commuting to work via bicycle has become a rising trend, despite cyclists representing less than 1% of all commuters nationwide. According to a 2014 report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), some of the largest cities in the United States have doubled their bike-to-work rates since 2000. BLS findings show the number of people traveling to work by bike has grown by 60%, from about 488,000 in 2000 to about 786,000 during the 2008-2012 period. “In recent years, many communities have taken steps to support more transportation options, such as bicycling and walking,” said Brian McKenzie, a Census Bureau sociologist and the report’s author, in a statement. “For example, many cities have invested in bike share programs, bike lanes and more pedestrian-friendly streets.” Despite the proliferation of worker commuting to work via bike, overall accidents have decreased. However, fatalities in bike versus vehicle encounters have increased, the People Powered Movement (PPM) says. PPM, an organization dedicated to increasing bicycling across the United States, states that new bicyclists who are less familiar with safe biking practices; drivers who are not using caution when sharing the road with bicyclists, and cities that have not implemented changes to infrastructure to support bicyclist safety are the reasons for the spike in fatalities. In an incident between a car and a bike, the cyclist almost always will be the one with more severe injuries. Being cognizant of road hazards whether on a bike or in a vehicle can help avoid deadly encounters. The American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons reminds cyclists to: Wear a helmet that fits snugly but does not obstruct vision. It should have a chin strap and buckle that stays securely fastened. Follow the rules of the road. Ride in the direction of traffic. Follow traffic signs and lights. Signal your turns or your intentions so that drivers can anticipate your actions. If you are riding with others, ride single file. Ride defensively. Understand that drivers often do not see cyclists; so, be aware of surroundings and ready to act to avoid a collision. Choose bike routes wisely. Avoid riding on high traffic roads. The most direct route to a destination is often not the safest because more vehicles will also take that route. Select streets with fewer and slower cars. Avoid distracted cycling. Do not listen to loud music with head phones, talk on the phone, text or do anything else that can obstruct hearing and/or vision while riding. Take extra precautions at night. Wear bright fluorescent colors and make sure to have rear reflectors. Both a working tail light and headlight should be visible from 500 ft. away. Never underestimate road conditions. Be cautious of uneven or slippery surfaces. Maintain your bicycle. Check your bicycle’s mechanical components on a regular basis (brakes, tires, gears, etc.), just like you would for a car.  Dress appropriately. Avoid loose clothing that might get caught in the bike’s mechanics and wear appropriate footwear, such as closed toed shoes to decrease your chance of a foot injury. Use appropriately padded cycling shorts for longer rides. Whether you’re riding for pleasure or commuting, remember to refresh yourself on the rules of the road before hopping on two wheels. For drivers, remember to take a second to double or triple check your surroundings this summer. That extra second could avoid a tragedy.  Let's block ads! (Why?)

Cal/OSHA: Protect Your Workers Against Heat-Related Illness

In anticipation of upcoming rising temperatures, California's state-run OSHA is advising employers to take the steps necessary to protect outdoor workers. The National Weather Service reports that temperatures could reach triple digits in in Fresno, Kern, Kings and Tulare counties and forecasts high heat throughout inland parts of the state next week. Cal/OSHA indicates the following steps must be taken to prevent heat-related illness: Plan – Develop and implement an effective written heat illness prevention plan that includes emergency response procedures. Training – Train all employees and supervisors on heat illness prevention. Water – Provide drinking water that is fresh, pure, suitably cool and free of charge so that each worker can drink at least 1 qt. per hour, and encourage workers to do so. Shade – Provide shade when workers request it and when temperatures exceed 80 degrees. Encourage workers to take a cool-down rest in the shade for at least five minutes. They should not wait until they feel sick to cool down. The agency also is reminding companies that heat prevention compliance is part of the state's heat illness prevention regulation and other workplace safety and health requirements. Investigators regularly inspect outdoor job sites to ensure companies are following these standards. Workers who experience overheating should take cover in the shade until heat-related symptoms dissipate. Employers with pre-existing medical conditions that reduce heat tolerance, such as diabetes, high pressure or on anti-inflammatory medications, should take extra precautions. To prevent heat illness, Cal/OSHA states it is crucial that supervisors are effectively trained on emergency procedures in case a worker gets sick. This helps ensure sick employees receive treatment immediately and that the symptoms do not develop into a serious illness or death. Cal/OSHA’s Heat Illness Prevention special emphasis program, the first of its kind in the nation, includes enforcement of heat regulations as well as multilingual outreach and training programs for California’s employers and workers. Detail on heat illness prevention requirements and training materials are available online on Cal/OSHA’s Heat Illness Prevention web page and the 99calor.org informational website. A Heat Illness Prevention online tool is also available on Cal/OSHA’s website. Complaints about workplace safety and health hazards can be filed confidentially with Cal/OSHA district offices. Employees with work-related questions or complaints may contact DIR’s Call Center in English or Spanish at 844-LABOR-DIR (844-522-6734). Let's block ads! (Why?)

Washington Department of Labor Addresses Teen Worker Injuries

As teens begin summer vacation, Washington's Department of Labor & Industries (L&I) is looking to educate young workers about their rights. On-the-job injuries among young adults occur at a "signficantly higher" rate than older adults, according to the agency. "Parents should ask whether their children are receiving safety instruction on the job and encourage them to speak up if they're asked to do something that they feel is unsafe," said Joshua Grice, manager of the L&I Employment Standards Program that oversees employment issues, in a statement. "Teens should also take an active role in safety at work by reporting potential hazards to managers and by putting their safety training into practice." L&I data show the majority of injuries among young workers were preventable – a result of slips and falls, contacts with hot surfaces such as a stove or oven or being hit by a falling object. Other common reported injuries Washington teens experienced included cuts and laserations (175 cases), sprains and strains (150 cases), and bruises and contusions (85 cases). The agency is advising parents to talk to teens about their rights on the job and for teens and parents to have conversations about job responsibilities and the training they received. Employers of teens received a record number of citations in 2018 for violating workplace rules. In total, 83 employers faced fines that added up to nearly $441,500. Violations so far this year are on pace to exceed last year's number, the L&I reported. Most of the citations are for violating hours of work and for missing or late meal breaks and rest periods for teens between 16 and 17 years old. Companies also were cited for lacking parent/school authorization forms or not having evidence of a teen's age at the worksite. "It's important for employers to emphasize safety, especially with young workers who are new to the workforce. Employers should also make sure that teens receive appropriate meals and rest periods, and work only the specified hours," Grice said. Let's block ads! (Why?)

Four Florida Contractors Face Violations After Serious Fall

A fall at a Florida construction site that left a worker with serious injuries has led to numerous penalties and fines for four Florida contractors. The Southern Living Contractors Inc. employee was completing work on the 82-unit Avery Square residential housing complex when the accident occurred. OSHA conducted an inspection at the Naples job site and cited the company for failing to provide fall protection to employees engaged in roofing activities. During the investigation, inspectors witnessed several other safety hazards associated with the three other contractors. The agency cited Crown Roofing LLC for failing to provide fall protection, improper use of a ladder, and exposing employees to struck-by hazards from falling construction debris. Paramount Drywall Inc. – operating as Paramount Stucco LLC – received citations for exposing employees to fall hazards, failing to provide fall protection, and permitting employees to climb the scaffold frame instead of an approved ladder to access the work platform. Sunny Grove Landscaping and Nursery Inc. received citations for exposing employees to struck-by hazards from falling debris. In total, the four companies received 12 citations reaching $220,114 in proposed penalties. The investigations were completed in conjunction with OSHA's Regional Emphasis Program on Falls in Construction program. Let's block ads! (Why?)