Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Heat Stress Safety

When the body is unable to cool itself by sweating, several heat-induced illnesses such as heat stress or heat exhaustion and the more severe heat stroke can occur, and can result in death.

Factors Leading to Heat Stress
High temperature and humidity; direct sun or heat; limited air movement; physical exertion; poor physical condition; some medicines; and inadequate tolerance for hot workplaces.

Symptoms of Heat Exhaustion
Headaches, dizziness, lightheadedness or fainting.
Weakness and moist skin.
Mood changes such as irritability or confusion.
Upset stomach or vomiting.
Symptoms of Heat Stroke
Dry, hot skin with no sweating.
Mental confusion or losing consciousness.
Seizures or convulsions.

Preventing Heat Stress
Know signs/symptoms of heat-related illnesses; monitor yourself and coworkers.
Block out direct sun or other heat sources.
Use cooling fans/air-conditioning; rest regularly.
Drink lots of water; about 1 cup every 15 minutes.
Wear lightweight, light colored, loose-fitting clothes.
Avoid alcohol, caffeinated drinks, or heavy meals.

What to Do for Heat-Related Illness
Call 911 (or local emergency number) at once. While waiting for help to arrive:
Move the worker to a cool, shaded area.
Loosen or remove heavy clothing.
Provide cool drinking water.
Fan and mist the person with water.

Visit this link for more heat stress safety training programs.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Back Injuries - U.S. #1 Safety Problem

Preventing back injuries is a major workplace safety challenge. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than one million workers suffer back injuries each year, and back injuries account for one of every five workplace injuries or illnesses. Further, one-fourth of all compensation indemnity claims involve back injuries, costing industry billions of dollars on top of the pain and suffering borne by employees.

Moreover, though lifting, placing, carrying, holding and lowering are involved in manual materials handling (the principal cause of compensable work injuries) the BLS survey shows that four out of five of these injuries were to the lower back, and that three out of four occurred while the employee was lifting.
No approach has been found for totally eliminating back injuries caused by lifting, though it is felt that a substantial portion can be prevented by an effective control program and ergonomic design of work tasks.

To prevent back injuries OSHA recommends training workers so they can safely perform lifting tasks and developing engineering controls so a task becomes less hazardous.

Suggested administrative controls include:
- Back safety training that trains employees to utilize lifting techniques that place minimum stress on the lower back.
- Physical conditioning or stretching programs to reduce the risk of muscle strain.

Suggested engineering controls include:
- A reduction in the size or weight of the object lifted. The parameters include maximum allowable weights for a given set of task requirements; the compactness of a package; the presence of handles, and the stability of the package being handled.
- Adjusting the height of a pallet or shelf. Lifting which occurs below knee height or above shoulder height is more strenuous than lifting between these limits. Obstructions which prevent an employee's body contact with the object being lifted also generally increase the risk of injury.
- Installation of mechanical aids such as pneumatic lifts, conveyors, and/or automated materials handling equipment.

In one study it was determined that at least one-third of compensable back injuries could be prevented through better job design (ergonomics).
Other factors include frequency of lifting, duration of lifting activities, and type of lifting, as well as individual variables such as age, sex, body size, state of health, and general physical fitness.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Respirator Selection

WASHINGTON -- Assigned Protection Factors (APF), a new guidance document published by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), provides employers with vital information for selecting respirators for employees exposed to contaminants in the air. OSHA revised its existing Respiratory Protection standard in 2006 and on April 1, 2009 has released this mandatory document to assist employers with proper selection of a respirator.

"Proper respirator selection prevents exposure to hazardous contaminants and is an important component of an effective respiratory protection program," said Deputy Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA Donald G. Shalhoub. "This guidance document serves as another useful resource for protecting the health and safety of workers at risk for respiratory illnesses."

The Respiratory Protection standard requires fit testing, medical evaluations, specific respirator safety training and proper respirator use. The standard applies to general industry, construction, longshoring, shipyard and marine terminal workplaces. Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing a safe and healthy workplace for their employees. OSHA's role is to promote the safety and health of America's working men and women by setting and enforcing standards; providing training, outreach and education; establishing partnerships; and encouraging continual process improvement in workplace safety and health. Visit this website for free OSHA information.