Tag Archives: workplace safety

4 Ways to Prevent Musculoskeletal Injuries

MusculoskeletalInjury_Oct2013Musculoskeletal disorders and injuries are the leading cause of disability in America. One in two adults report a musculoskeletal condition requiring medical attention. Musculoskeletal disorder (MSD) accounts for 43% of all lost-time claims, 43% of all lost-time claim costs, and 46% of all lost-time days. Musculoskeletal injuries and disorders can affect the body’s muscles, joints, tendons, ligaments and nerves. Most work-related MSDs develop over time and are caused either by the work itself or by the employees’ working environment. Musculoskeletal health is dependent on strength and flexibility, but it’s also dependent on overall good health. So, how can you make a difference and turn these statistics around? Here are four ways to prevent musculoskeletal injuries.

Stay Active
The musculoskeletal system, like every system in our body, benefits from a healthy lifestyle. A well-conditioned body, good nutrition, and healthy habits help strengthen the immune system. Being active helps lower your blood pressure and cholesterol levels which also help fight off MSD. Stretching regularly is another good habit to pick up. Stretching keeps your muscles, tendons, and ligaments flexible.

Eat a Balanced Diet
Our muscles need vitamins, minerals, water, protein, carbohydrates, and healthy fats so they can function at their best. Maintaining a healthy weight is also very important for keeping your body aligned. A lack of alignment can cause undue stress on discs, bones, ligaments, and tendons, which can lead to MSD. Your muscles are made up of around 70 percent water, so make sure you drink at least eight tall glasses of water a day to stay well hydrated.

Maintain Good Posture
Good posture reduces the amount of strain on individual muscles groups and helps keep muscles toned. Any posture that requires the body to move out of the neutral posture range is considered to be awkward posture and can be harmful to your musculoskeletal system. Keep your work within 14 to 18 inches of your body, depending on your height. Also, avoid reaching overhead or behind your back, if you can. If you can’t, return to neutral as soon as possible. Your current posture could be overworking your body. With a little adjustment, however, you can correct most posture problems.

Get Sleep
Adequate sleep protects the immune system, repairs cells, and makes us feel better. Sleep is beneficial to our bodies, but did you know it can improve skeletal health? During sleep our bodies have the chance to repair and build new tissue which can strengthen our musculoskeletal systems.

Be aware of the MSD risks in your workplace and do your part to make a difference in the statistics. How are you working to change the MSD statistics? Share with us in the comment section below.

Eyestrain: 3 Ways to Save Your Sight

Blurred vision, excessive headaches, itchy red eyes; these are just a few common symptoms of eyestrain. Formally referred to as asthenopia by ophthalmologists, it is a condition that we commonly encounter when concentrating on a visually intense task.

One of the most common causes of asthenopia is our daily exposure to technology. According to a recent survey conducted in 2012 by The Vision Council, U.S. adults spend four to six hours a day in front of the warm glow of electronic devices, and 70% of those surveyed reported some degree of eyestrain associated with this level of exposure. But, with technology being our connection to the world and an integral part of many careers how do we save ourselves from technology becoming a real pain in the eyes? Here are three simple methods to reduce the stresses on what many consider our most valuable faculty.

  1. Give It A Break
    Excessive use of monitors or televisions can cause the muscles in the eye to tighten, which can result in irritation or worse, blurred vision. By looking away or performing a task that requires activities that are less visually strenuous, you allow the muscles to relax. An easy way to achieve this is a method called the 20-20-20 break. Every 20 minutes, take a 20 second break and look at something 20 feet away.
  2. Don’t Go Towards The Light
    If at all possible, lower the level of your ambient lighting. By reducing the amount of surrounding light, your eyes won’t continually try to regulate the amount of light entering the eye. If you are like many, you may bake under a fluorescent sun. If you can’t adjust the light in your surrounding environment, lowering the brightness on your screen can reduce glare and the strain of reading.
  3. The Spectacle Of Spectacles
    Consulting an eye care specialist and having regular eye exams may relieve internal factors that may be causing eye stress. You may potentially need a pair of prescription glasses that are specially made to optimally view objects at intermediate distances. If you have acute vision, computer eyewear may help. With special tints and coatings, these lenses soften glare caused by direct and indirect light.

Unless there is an event that knocks us back into the Stone Age, our world will continue to advance into the future of technology and the potential of it being unnecessary is very unlikely. And since vision is imperative for much of your daily life, do yourself a favor and take care of your eyes by reducing the stress that you expose them to. If you have techniques that you use to provide some visual relief let us know in the comments section below.

3 Ways to Stay All Ears: Protecting Yourself from Hearing Hazards

According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, nearly 30 million people annually are exposed to hazardous noise levels and since 2004, 125,000 workers have suffered significant and permanent hearing loss.

Loud noises, the constant drone of machines, as well as hazardous poisons referred to as ototoxic chemicals can cause significant and irreparable hearing damage. Hearing loss can result in many workplace complications including an increase in stress, reduced productivity, and an increased risk of workplace injuries. Fortunately, hearing loss can be preventable. So how do you protect yourself from losing such a valuable faculty? Here are three prevention and safety suggestions to ensure that you stay all ears.

  1. Wearing proper ear protection
    Hearing protection devices (HPD’s) are a simple way to put a barrier between your ears and the ruckus of the workplace. OSHA requires employers to have an “effective hearing conservation program“ available to employees. This program requires employers to provide sound level sampling, informational material to inform workers of the hazards, and appropriate protective gear.
  2. Regular Hearing Checkups
    Another requirement for applicable employers is the implementation and maintenance of continual audiometric testing. These checkups are important and allow for employees to monitor their hearing and the effects that workplace noise has on it. By keeping an eye on your ears you can take preventative measures if hearing loss begins to develop.
  3. Read the Materials Safety Data Sheets
    Ototoxic chemicals are substances that can permanently damage the inner ear if you’re exposed to them. Industries that have potential exposure to dangerous chemicals should have materials safety data sheets available to employees in the form of a book or online. If you’re concerned that the chemicals you handle everyday may have an adverse effect on you, review the safety materials provided by your employer.

Hearing is important and without it, many daily tasks can be hindered by an impairment. Hearing loss is preventable but you have to do your part. If you have tips on how you protect your ears, share them in the comment section below.

The Shocking Truth Behind Electrical Safety

Electrical SafetyElectricity drives almost everything. From starting the car for the morning commute to setting the alarm clock before going to bed, electricity is a necessity. Throughout the day, most people don’t realize how much electricity they use. According to the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, the world consumes an estimated 19 trillion megawatt hours every year. One megawatt can sustain power to 1000 houses for one hour.

It’s easy to take electricity for granted when few people get to see what goes into producing the energy. Thousands of workers spend the majority of their day operating on or near electric circuits and equipment – and it’s a dangerous job. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, electrocution is the fifth leading cause of work-related deaths for 16- to 19-year-olds.

Working on or around power doesn’t have to be an accident waiting to happen. Here is how you can keep yourself safe when working near electricity.

Getting Electrocuted is no Electric Boogaloo
Many make the mistake of assuming that low voltage means low risk. But voltage is only half of it. The amount of charge passing through a conduit, called an ampere or amp, can have a big impact on the danger of electrical work. Amps can be so dangerous that 1/10 of an amp going through the body for two seconds is enough to cause death. The average light bulb can have at least two amps flowing through it. Think of it like a tube of water: the amount of water flowing is the voltage and the speed of the flow is the amp current. Multiplying the numbers determines the power, or wattage, of the electricity.

Electricity also flows from point-to-point until it can disperse or move somewhere else. If electrocuted through your head, hands, or feet, the current can flow through your body and cause severe damage to vital organs like the heart or brain. It’s best to assume that all wires are energized at lethal voltages. Never assume that a wire is safe to touch even if it is down or appears to be insulated.

Recognize and Evaluate the Hazards
It’s important to follow any company policies on working near electricity. Discuss these policies with your co-workers so everyone will be responsible for each other and inspect electric cords and equipment to ensure that they are in good condition and free of defects. But, never try to repair any lines or equipment unless qualified and authorized. Look to see if your work environment is damp or close to water, then use a ground-fault circuit interrupter (GFCI).

Avoid the Danger
Wearing the proper protective equipment should be mandatory for avoiding electrical accidents. Before starting work, survey the area for lose wires or unsafe situations. Also, be aware when a current is active or “hot” and when it’s shut off, and then stay at least 10 feet away from wires during cleanup.

Saving a Co-Worker in Danger
Even though you may be doing all you can to keep yourself safe, there’s a very real possibility that co-workers can put themselves at risk of being shocked, which could endanger you and others.

The most important thing to remember is to not touch anybody who is still in contact with a live electrical circuit. Make sure you shut off the source of the electrical current while somebody else calls for help. Once the current is cut, stay with the victim until emergency medical services arrive. Call out to the victim to see if they are conscious. If awake, tell the victim not to move, there could be an injury the victim isn’t aware of. Inspect them for any signs of major bleeding, and apply pressure with a cloth until qualified help arrives.

While electricity can be in almost every aspect of daily life, don’t allow the possible danger when working with electrical circuitry or power lines to become routine. With these guidelines, you can keep you and your co-workers safe from any shocking turn of events.

That Was Close! How Reporting Near Misses Can Keep you Safe

Nearmiss_Jan2012_webYou know what you can do to protect yourself from and to prevent injuries, but there is an often overlooked threat that lurks behind the scenes at the workplace. There’s a high probability that it’s happened to you, but you don’t really think about the implications it can have on you and those working around you.

Ever have something fall off a shelf, a shirt caught on a piece of equipment, or your ladder narrowly misses a power line?  To err is human. We all make mistakes from time to time, but incidents like those examples can not only put you in danger, but also endanger your co-workers down the line if not reported. It’s easy to shake-off near misses and chalk it up to good luck, but what was an avoided catastrophe now, might not be in the future. Here is some advice to help you learn the value of reporting near misses to your employer and what they mean to your safety.

No, Really. What is a Near Miss?

A near miss is an unintentional, unsafe occurrence that didn’t result in injury, fatality, or property damage, but had the potential to do so. These types of situations can happen at any time, no matter what field or industry you work in. Near misses often precede real accidents that can result in injury or death. Your employer won’t be aware of these potential threats on their own. It’s up to you to report these dangers to keep everyone safe.

It’s Your Early Warning System

Reporting near misses is one of the best ways to avoid serious injuries or even death in the workplace. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported nearly 3.1 million nonfatal work-related injuries in the private sector, and according to the National Research Council, nearly 6,000 Americans die from workplace injures every year.

Making sure you inform your managers about near misses is a learning tool for you and your company. When near misses occur they can be regarded as early warnings that something is wrong somewhere in the system. You wouldn’t want to work in an environment that wasn’t as safe as possible, so be sure to inform your supervisors of any potential hazards before you or your co-workers are put in danger.

You’re Not Causing Problems

Many near misses go unreported because workers feel their supervisors don’t appreciate having to stop what they are doing to investigate the issue. It may feel like management doesn’t encourage these kinds of reports and it’s just a hassle, but you and your co-workers safety and security should be the biggest priority at work. Don’t ever feel like reporting a near miss would be a distraction, inconvenience, or annoyance.

When reporting near misses, you’re showing initiative. You are keeping your colleagues and employer in mind by saving money and time when avoiding accidents. This type of investment in your company is what management looks for when promoting their workers. If your employer has a weak or non-existent near miss reporting policy, showcase your leadership skills by working with them to create an improved system. 

Don’t wait for the accident to happen before letting your supervisors know about it. It could be your life on the line. What are some ways you’ve stepped up to promote a safe work place?