Workplace Safety

Tips for Staying Safe This Holiday Season

retail_safety_webDuring the holiday season, many retailers will see a sharp increase in staff, stock, and customers. And while the spike in store traffic is great for job seekers and business alike, it also means an increase in hazards and risks on the job.

To help keep yourself, your co-workers, and the customers safe during busy holiday shopping days, check out these tips!

Know the risks.
Some of the risks associated with the holiday shopping season are ones that exist in the workplace every day, regardless of the time of year. Such risks include ergonomic issues that lead to numbness and pain, like carpel tunnel syndrome or muscle and joint problems. During the holiday season, workers may experience an increased need to reach high places and work at a more frantic pace, increasing the risk of injuries.

Establish safety guidelines.
Your employers should have safety procedures in place to help protect you and other workers from injury. It’s your job to follow those procedures. Retail employers need to be sure the workplace is properly staffed, properly organized, and that employees are not so rushed to complete tasks that they overlook basic safety procedures. All employees should report any unsafe or hazardous conditions to their supervisors so they can respond to reports quickly and safely.

Protect yourself.
To protect yourself on the job, make sure you use proper lifting techniques, avoid twisting and reaching overhead as much as you can, and communicate any difficulties you experience to your supervisor.

Watch out for the customers.
A safety concern that is easily overlooked is the increased hazards to the public while shopping in the aisles of retail stores. Stocking activity can be much higher during hours customers are present, and many employees will be performing stocking tasks in close proximity to customers. Due to the high business volume of the season, customers are often exposed to more equipment and stock on the sales floor and activity above their heads and feet. To deal with this additional liability, employers can move merchandise and equipment through stores using an additional employee to direct traffic on the aisles, stock heavier items on lower shelves, and ensure everyone is trained and aware of the special hazards associated with customer interaction.

Understand the regulations.
Crowd safety has become an important topic during peak holiday hours like Black Friday. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has a website dedicated to helping retail employees manage crowds on special shopping days. They encourage employers and their employees to plan, communicate, and have an emergency response procedure in place. Check out OSHA’s website for more information.

As with other days of the year, it’s very important to maintain safe working conditions during the busy season. Making sure you’re following proper procedures can ensure that you go home healthy and happy to enjoy the holidays with friends and family.

Movin’ On Up is brought to you by Express Employment Professionals.

Avoiding Hand Injuries at Work

hand_safety_webWe use our hands for so many tasks that we often take them for granted. Imagine how difficult it would be to brush your teeth, put on shoes, drive, work or do a million other things because of an injury or loss of a hand.

Unfortunately, hand injuries occur in the workplace every 32 seconds according to Telecom Insurance Group. Every year 16 million people seek emergency care for hand injuries

Most of these accidents are preventable, so it’s very important to know and understand prevention tips.

Sources for Hand Injury Prevention
WebMD offers valuable tips for preventing finger, hand, and wrist injuries. You can also find prevention tips from Canada’s Labour Program. And, a new website, www.choosehandsafety.org, was launched this spring to help teach workers how to protect their hands, including what to look for when choosing and using hand tools and gloves.

The National Safety Council and the Labour Program also have resources you can share with your employers and co-workers.

Leave Mechanical Maintenance to the Professionals
Although generally cautious about burns or cuts while handling objects, workers often do not think of the dangers associated with reaching into a machine to fix a jam or remove material. But, reaching into a machine can be very dangerous. Think about how much you use your hands before you put them at risk by reaching into a machine.

For more information on machine safety, read this article.

It’s important to take some time to know the risks and prevention tips associated with hand injuries. And, of all the prevention tips, remember to think safety first!

Movin’ On Up is brought to you by Express Employment Professionals.

Safety: Fire Prevention Week is Right Around the Corner

fire_prevention_webNational Fire Prevention Week is Oct. 5-11. The week commemorates The Great Chicago Fire of Oct. 9, 1871, which destroyed 17,400 structures, left more than 100,000 people homeless, and tragically killed more than 250 people.

Since that devastating fire, great advancements in fire prevention have been made in not only preventing fires, but stopping them from spreading. As a result, National Fire Prevention Week was created. In 1920, President Woodrow Wilson issued the first National Fire Prevention Day proclamation and since 1922, Fire Prevention Week has been observed.

This important week is meant to remind you about the importance of fire prevention. So, here are a few tips to ensure you stay safe on the job.

Know Your Surroundings
It’s vitally important that you always know where emergency exits are in your workplace so you can get to them quickly and safely in the event of a fire. If you don’t know the location of your emergency exits, there should be evacuation route maps located in the office. If not, ask your manager about the exits and find out if they can post evacuation routes. It’s also important to make sure you know the emergency and safety procedures at your workplace.

Check Your Exit Paths
Ensure your exits at work are not locked or blocked by any materials in their path. Sometimes, materials will be stacked outside exits that are seldom used, blocking them in an emergency. If the exit doors are blocked by any out-of-place material, tell someone who has the authority to move the materials to a safer location.

Act on Your Exit Strategy
In the event that a fire does occur, exit the building quickly. Though you may not want to leave your personal belongings behind, it’s not worth taking the risk to gather everything up – just exit the building. And, help those around you do the same.

How You Can Observe National Fire Prevention Week
While you may not have the authority at work to perform some of the following tasks, it doesn’t hurt to ask around to ensure someone is doing them.

The most important factor in saving lives in a fire is early detection and response. It’s recommended that smoke alarms are checked every month. To make sure these tests are being done, you can ask if anyone at your workplace is in charge of testing the alarms. And if your facility hasn’t had a fire drill in a while, it’s a great time to practice. Fire safety is just as important at home as it is in the workplace, so take this Fire Prevention Week as a reminder to test the batteries in your smoke alarms at home, too.

Fire extinguishers should also be checked once a month, and it helps to designate a specific person to perform the check. All fire extinguishers in your workplace should be checked so they stay properly pressurized, easily accessible, unobstructed, and appear to be in good working order.

Whether at work or at home, take time to focus on fire prevention during National Fire Prevention Week this year. Not only will it help keep you and your co-workers safe, but your preparations can help protect your community as well.

Movin’ On Up is brought to you by Express Employment Professionals.

Heading to Work? Three Tips for Back to School Driving Safety

safety_backtoschool_webIt’s the time of year when most people have returned from summer vacation and kids are back in school. Due to the start of the school year, roads will be more crowded during your daily commute, and school zone rules will be strictly enforced. So, it’s especially important to focus on the safety of children, yourself, and other drivers as traffic increases. Here are three tips to help you stay safe on the roads.

Adjust your commute time.
If school has already started in your area, your commute time has likely become longer. Now is the time of year to reevaluate the time it takes you to get to work and make sure you adjust your schedule to reflect any changes. Choosing an appropriate time to leave your home not only gets you out the door before traffic reaches its heaviest point, but it also helps you avoid the pressure to drive faster than you should in order to make it to work on time.

Be aware of school zones.
You should always be aware of school zones and drive under the designated speed limit when you’re traveling through one. But now that school is back in session, your school zone awareness needs to be elevated. When you’re driving through a school zone, make sure you’re especially aware of your surroundings. After coming to a complete stop at stop signs and lights, accelerate slowly and carefully scan the area while maintaining a slow speed to lessen the chances of an accident involving pedestrians.

Remember to watch for new drivers.
As the school year starts, many new drivers will also be hitting the roads on their way to school. Teens almost always have less driving experience than other drivers, so use a little extra focus and slower speeds in areas near high schools to avoid driving-related issues. Remember to account for after-school activities that may affect rush hour traffic as well.

Leaving early, being aware of specific areas, and reducing your speed during increased traffic can help all of us on the road get to work and back safely every day.

Movin’ On Up is brought to you by Express Employment Professionals.

4 Common Dehydration Myths Debunked

dehydration_myths_webOur bodies need water to function properly, regulate our temperatures, help us digest food, and protect our joints and organs. And, in the hot summer months, it’s especially important to drink lots of water while you’re enjoying the great outdoors, exercising, or working outside. Know the truth about dehydration can help you stay healthy, so we’re debunking four common myths about being hydrated.

Myth #1: Dehydration isn’t as serious as everyone says.
Sure, the most common dehydration symptoms include mild headaches and sluggishness. But, dehydration can become severe and require immediate medical attention. According to the Mayo Clinic, serious symptoms include swelling of the brain, kidney failure, seizures, and even death. If dehydration symptoms aren’t caught early and treated with extra fluid, you can develop dizziness, confusion, and extreme thirst. Other serious symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea, fever, and irritability. Symptoms of severe dehydration should be taken seriously, and medical attention should be sought immediately.

Myth #2: You should drink eight glasses of water a day.
We’ve all heard this rule, but how much truth does it hold? There is no scientific evidence to support the well-known theory of drinking eight eight-ounce glasses of water a day. Still, your body does need a steady supply of water to operate efficiently and keep you healthy. The Institute of Medicine recently determined that men should drink around three liters, or 13 cups, of total beverages every day, and women should drink around 2.2 liters, or nine cups. These intake levels include more than just water and can apply to coffee, tea, fruit juices, and even foods like watermelon and cucumbers, which have high water content.

Myth #3: Staying hydrated means only drinking water.
Yes, drinking water is an important part of staying hydrated. But, it also takes minerals, electrolytes, and essential fatty acids to keep the water you’re drinking where it needs to be in your body. Electrolytes and trace minerals help transport water to the blood cells, where they then activate enzymes. Those enzymes help with digestion and other bodily processes. Without enzymes and essential fatty acids, cells can’t properly absorb and hold the water they need. So, make sure you’re taking in the elements you need by eating mineral-rich foods like fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds. Cook with high-quality sea salt, which can deliver up to 60 trace minerals and help manage water flow in your body. And, don’t forget to include whole foods that are high in essential fatty acids, such as flax seeds and walnuts.

Myth #4: There’s no such thing as too much water.
Typically, your body flushes out any extra water it doesn’t need. But, if you’re drinking more than 12 liters of water in 24 hours or exercising heavily, it’s possible to disrupt your body’s natural balance and end up diluting too much electrolytes. The condition, known as hyponatremia, occurs when the level of sodium in your blood is abnormally low. Hyponatremia is rare, but anyone can get in trouble if they drink water in excess without replacing essential minerals and electrolytes. Overconsumption of water is most likely to occur in long-distance runners, and can lead to serious complications. So, don’t force yourself to keep drinking water if you’re feeling full. And, if you’re drinking lots of water during heavy exercise, be sure to add adequate salts and electrolytes to balance it out.

Staying hydrated will help you avoid heat illnesses this summer, so make sure to drink plenty of fluids and eat fruits and vegetables that are high in water content.

Movin’ On Up is brought to you by Express Employment Professionals.

Safety Month 2014: Two Communication Tools

SafetyMonth_June2014_webJune is National Safety Month, and this year the theme from The National Safety Council is “Safety: it takes all of us.” The message is focused on continuous risk reduction.  With that in mind, this is a good time to focus on working as a team to improve safety.

How do our actions impact our co-workers’ safety? How can we inspire or inform our co-workers in working safely? A commitment to continuous risk reduction means asking these questions, speaking up, and working together to take care of safety issues in the workplace. Here are two communication opportunities you can participate in to promote a safe workplace.

  1. Communicating About Near Miss Incidents
    Near miss reporting is a way to recognize hazards before they lead to an injury. A near miss is something that could have led to an accident, but the person was “lucky” not to have been in the wrong place. By reporting near misses and communicating with your co-workers, you can begin to eliminate risks. If everyone understands the preventative goal behind discussing these incidents with one another, this communication strategy can be a good way to prevent future accidents.
  2. Mentor Others
    Another way to continue this year’s theme of “Safety: it takes all of us” in the workplace is by being a mentor.  If you have a group who has learned to look at near misses and take care of risks, have an ongoing plan to share what that group has learned with the team and new employees.  Assign mentor employees to watch new employees perform risky activities, and explain the history of safe practices. Promote everyone’s participation in the group’s safety culture. In the end, the development of this culture of recognizing and eliminating hazards together is the strongest way to continuously reduce the risks associated with the workplace.

Safety Month is every June in the U.S., and serves as an annual reminder to focus on safety prevention and best practices. For more tips on staying safe at work, check out our special section of the Movin’ On Up Blog.

Movin’ On Up is brought to you by Express Employment Professionals.

Secure Your Social Media

Password_May2014_webSocial media now plays a role in your job search and in the HR world. It’s important to protect your information. Social media security issues often arise as a result of weak passwords. Hackers can easily access your account and hijack your information if you’re not careful about how you choose your passwords.

In 2012, the top three most common passwords were “password,” “123456,” and “12345678.” No matter how many precautions you take to protect your social media networks, if you don’t take the time to protect your password, you may be easy prey for savvy hackers looking to gain access to your accounts.

Passwords and Account Settings

One way to start securing up your social media accounts is by updating your passwords and account settings. It’s important for your safety and online identity to protect yourself by making a few easy changes to your password and account settings.

When it comes to passwords, you’ve got to create sequences of words and letter that are very unique. It’s also important to change up your passwords frequently.

How to Keep Track of all Your Passwords
I know it seems like a daunting task to re-create a unique password every month, not to mention keep track of it, but it could pay off in the future to have safe and protected social media networks.

Having trouble remembering all those different passwords? Try using a password manager application that organizes and protects passwords and can automatically log you into websites.

Worth the Investment
With graduation around the corner, you’ll be glad your sites are secured. A recent CareerBuilder study of 2,100 hiring managers and human resource professionals found that nearly two in five companies use social networking sites to research job candidates. And one in five hiring managers said they found something that has caused them not to hire a candidate. By keeping your accounts secure you lower your risk of fraudulent posts that could be damaging to your reputation. So remember, during your job searching process, the importance of keeping your social media accounts secure and cleaned up.

What have you done to secure your social media accounts? Share with us in the comments section below.

Movin’ On Up is brought to you by Express Employment Professionals.