Tag Archives: protection

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.

When Elevated, Fall in Line with Safety

Fall SafetyWhile millions of people go to work inside buildings that can be hundreds of feet tall, there are countless others who work on top or along the outer walls of those buildings. They are the window washers, the construction workers, and the roofers, who make working in these buildings possible.

More than 14% of all fatal work injuries in 2011 were caused by falls, slips, or trips from elevated areas, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Falls are among the most common causes of serious work-related injuries and deaths in the United States. If you work on roofs, ladders, scaffolding, or any other place that is off the ground, here are ways you can keep yourself safe.

The Roof! The Roof! The Roof is on Securely!
Most falling injuries reported are in the construction industry. That’s why it’s important to always wear a properly fitted harness. Keep it connected and inspect harnesses before working on the roof of any building.

Guardrails or toe boards should be present when working around holes or skylines. Even if you aren’t on a roof, rails are important to keeping workers from falling into machinery or hazardous substances even if they are only a few feet above the ground.
If none of these safety measures are available, do not get on the roof until they are provided.

Ladder Disaster
There’s a lot that goes into ladder safety like choosing the correct placement, securing, and facing the ladder. But you can greatly reduce your chances of falling off a ladder by planning ahead. Work with your supervisor to determine which type of equipment should be provided, the best places to put the ladder, and how to share that information with the rest of your co-workers. Avoiding injury can be contagious if others see you following the rules.

Don’t Scoff the Scaffold
Just like equipment used on roofs, scaffolds should always be inspected to make sure they are level, stable, and fully planked. The guardrails should be completed along the entire edge of the scaffolds and should always have an easily accessed area to properly climb one. If there is no defined entrance, workers may begin to climb the cross braces, which are meant to evenly support the beams, not directly support bodyweight.

Scaffolds should always be the correct height needed for you to do your job. If something isn’t high enough, contact your manager or project lead. You shouldn’t have to risk more injury by standing on the guardrails or placing a ladder on top of the scaffolds to reach a high point.
Working high above the ground is a necessity. Some of the hardest working people put themselves at risk every day to make sure the job gets done. If you follow these safety guidelines, you’ll be able to complete jobs successfully throughout your career

You Don’t Need a Ph.D. to Practice Ergonomics at Work

ergonomics at workThere’s still a large debate in the workforce about sitting down vs. standing up at work. No matter what side of the debate you’re on, you can greatly reduce the risk of disease and injury by a common discipline called ergonomics.

Ergonomics is the principle of designing an environment or posture to optimize human well-being and overall system performance. It’s basically ways of positioning yourself and your surroundings to be as comfortable and less strenuous as possible.

You don’t have to have an office job at a desk to better fit yourself to your surroundings. From a corporate office to a shipping warehouse, there are several ways you can practice ergonomics in the workplace to keep yourself safe and comfortable.

According to the Human Factors and Ergonomics program at Cornell University, standing for long periods of time dramatically increases the risks of carotid atherosclerosis, a condition where the artery wall thickens as a result of the accumulation of fatty materials like cholesterol. That’s why it is important to take frequent breaks to sit. When standing, make sure you are shifting your weight periodically, dropping your shoulders down and back, and pulling your head straight up like someone is pulling it up with a string. You should also be aware of proper footrests, floor mats, and shoes to help relieve tension, increase blood flow, increase your energy, decrease anxiety, and make you feel better.

For those who sit at a desk while working, it’s important to lose the ridged 90 degree posture. Sitting at a slight slouch is often more comfortable and better for your back. Your chair should be low enough that your feet are touching the ground and the desk and keyboard should be where your wrists are straight. Any computer monitors, TV screens, or other electronic displays should be at least 24 inches from your face, but the farther the better.

You may not think about it, but lighting can have a large impact on your productivity and health. Bad lighting conditions can strain your eyes and cause head, back, and neck aches. Consider using portable or adjustable desk lamps to help direct the light where it’s most needed. This way you have enough light to read documents and avoid excessive room lights that can glare on computer screens.

Whether you’re sitting or standing, movement is vital to maintaining health. Sustaining any fixed, rigid posture for an extended period of time is one of the worst things you could do. Frequently change positions or shift weight along with taking full advantage of your scheduled break time to walk around or sit. Experts say that a quick 30 second pause every 10 minutes can be very effective if your break schedule is irregular.

The choices you make today can have a serious impact on your future. Don’t take the energy of your youth for granted by living a sedentary or overly strenuous lifestyle. What are your favorite ways to mobilize yourself at work?

Listen up! Protect Your Hearing

Hearing ProtectionFor many years, rockers and music enthusiasts would say, “If it’s too loud, you’re too old!” But in reality, if it’s too loud, you’re risking a valuable asset – your hearing.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) reports that approximately 30 million people in the U.S. are exposed to hazardous noise at work, 125,000 workers suffer significant hearing loss, and 21,000 report cases of permanent hearing loss. Working around high levels of noise can cause permanent hearing loss. While it may not seem like an immediate threat, it can cause physical and psychological stress, reduce your productivity, and can make it more difficult to hear warning signals, which would make you more prone to other accidents.

Hearing damage can take time before you realize the effects, and by then, the damage could be irreversible. Neither surgery or a hearing aid can help correct conditions like tinnitus caused by hearing loss. Hear us out on these ways you can keep your workplace safe from seriously damaging noise.

Co-Worker, Can You Hear me?
How can you tell if you’re at risk of damaging your hearing at work? There are several warning signs to look out for when deciding whether or not your workplace is in danger of being too noisy. Notice how you feel after working a shift. Do you hear ringing or humming in your ears, or even temporary loss of hearing for a small period of time after work? You may get this type of feeling after attending a concert or major sporting event. If you experience it regularly at work, you may be in danger of damaging your hearing.

Also, take notice of how you communicate with your co-workers or managers. Do you have to shout to be heard by a colleague or boss who is only an arm’s length away? If you have to yell at people who are within a short distance of you, you may be at risk of working in an environment that is too loud.

Protection to Hear the Sound of Silence
While it’s always important to have effective hearing protection like earplugs or muffs, they shouldn’t be your only line of defense against hearing damage. There are several different grades of ear protection and you have to get the right kind of protection that best fits with your job and industry. Before you work in a noisy environment, check with your employer that you have the proper protective equipment.

What Can I Do?
There are a few simple things you can take to help reduce the noise in your workplace. One option is to use engineering controls that reduce sound exposure levels that can be installed or modified for loud equipment. This can be a relatively simple solution that can greatly reduce noise hazards. You can also do small things like making sure your equipment is properly lubricated, placing a barrier between you and the noise, or isolating or enclosing the noise source.

If machines at your workplace are naturally loud, your employer should have a hearing conservation program implemented. Get with your manager to find out if your employer has a plan. The plan can include precautions like operating loud machinery during shifts when fewer people will be exposed to it, limiting the time an employee can work on equipment, installing noise monitoring devices, or conducting periodical hearing tests. If you feel like your employer should implement a program, talk to your HR manager to find out what can be done.

Remember, hearing loss from extreme noise exposure can’t be repaired naturally or medically. Many famous musicians, engineers, and producers have destroyed the same tool that gained them career success. Don’t pay the same price for a successful career.

Now You See it, Now You Don’t Without Eye Safety

Eye SafetySince October is Eye Injury Prevention month, it’s important to keep your eyes protected. You only have one pair of eyes. Those are the last two you’ve got. Even with the advances in modern medicine, doctors and surgeons won’t be able to give you new working eyes.

With an estimated 2,000 U.S. workers suffering a job-related eye injury that requires medical treatment, accidents aren’t always caused by big, sharp objects that cause one big blow. Most of the time, eye injuries occur from tiny specs of metal, particles of dust, or traces of chemicals that can cause irreversible damage.

To help you steer clear of dangerous eye activities, here are some useful tips to make sure your eyes are properly protected so you can see in the days ahead of you.

Not Any Coverings Will Do
Different jobs and industries need different kinds of eye protection. Your employer should have provided or informed you about the kind of eye protection you should wear, when you should wear it, and where you should wear it. If your employer isn’t enforcing or instructing you on what kinds of eye protection to use, do not start on the job until you are properly equipped. You can check with the Occupational Safety and Health Association for a guide on proper eye and face protection.

It’s important to remember that contact lenses were not designed to provide eye protection. Also, it is a good idea to have a pair of prescription glasses ready if you need to take out your contact lenses. Contact wearers will find getting particles in the eye is a painful annoyance that distracts them from their job, which can lead to more dangers.

Fit to Prevent
It’s important that your protective gear properly fits your eyes and face. If they are too crooked, tight, uncomfortable, or loose, you’ll be more inclined not to wear them. While you may have a busy schedule, there is always time to properly adjust your protective equipment. It’s also important to keep your eye protection clean and properly kept. Scratches, smudges, and dirt can impair your vision and possibly put you in even more danger. Therefore, it’s important to store the equipment in a case to avoid scratches and stretching out the elastic in most headbands. Wash your gear with warm, soapy water and dry with a soft cloth or tissue.

Two Wrongs Don’t Help Your Sight
Never try to remove foreign substances, other than contact lenses, from your eyes. Also, refrain from removing a foreign material from the eye of a co-worker. Playing doctor generally makes the condition worse. Contact your employer’s medical department, a doctor, or an ambulance right away for treatment of an eye injury. You should also familiarize yourself with the company policies and procedures should any accident occur and follow those to the best of your ability.

Mean Computer Screens
Eye injuries can happen to anyone, even in an office setting. While injuries may not be immediate, constant viewing of a computer screen causes eye strain that can lead to serious injuries in the long run if not properly taken care of. It’s even more dangerous today since many people who work all day in front of a computer screen generally go home to spend personal time in front of a computer or television screen.

That’s why it’s important to give your eyes a break throughout the day. When you get up every few hours, make sure you blink your eyes or use eye drops to keep them properly lubricated and refocus your eyes on different objects at different distances to give them a rest.

If you have any doubts about whether you should be wearing eye protection, talk to your supervisor. Your eyes are the only two you will ever have. With these guidelines, you’ll be better equipped to avoid injury and enjoy the beauties of eyesight.

Hands Are Our Tools: Grasping The Importance of Our Hands

Handtools_feb2012_webOur hands are one of the most versatile parts of our body. They can be tender and accurate enough to paint a picture, thread a needle, or play the harp. They can also be strong and powerful enough to swing an axe, move heavy objects, or clean floors. Our hands are also two of the most important tools we have. We use them in almost every aspect of our daily lives, and it’s important to keep them safe.

Keep in mind that your hands are also fearless. They will go to any place you send them and will act only as wisely as you want them. It’s a good thing to keep in mind where you put your hands and take proper care of the only two hands you’ll ever have. Here are some helpful hints to keep your hands safe and working properly.

A Little Foresight Can go a Long Way

Cuts and scrapes may not be a serious issue, but it can affect your productivity if you have to stop working to bandage a small scrape or cut. One of the best ways to do this is to take a proactive approach. Look at the area your hands will be working in and make sure there is nothing that can harm your hands. A good example would be if you were moving an object. Check to see if the doorways and aisles are wide enough to move through safely before lifting. You should also check if there is proper hand clearance when setting down the object.

In a Pinch

We’ve all been in a rush. We know the feeling of approaching deadlines and the stress of learning new things quickly. When we feel that kind of pressure, it can become tempting to cut corners.

Sometimes new employees are shoved into working with equipment without getting proper training and don’t realize some of the dangers when using the equipment. Veteran workers also get comfortable and skip procedures, which can lead to pinching your fingers or hand in machinery.

Small pinches can happen at home and they’re more of a nuisance than anything, but getting pinched while operating machinery can lead to severed fingers or broken bones. Make sure to have all safety guards in place, a clean area, and better attention to your hand positioning.

Rings of Doom

There are many jokes about how things were great for somebody until they put on a wedding ring, and that’s when the troubles began. Those kinds of jokes may not be far from the truth when it comes to our jobs.

Wearing a wedding ring or other types of hand jewelry can put your fingers in danger by making it easy for your hands to catch on machinery and other objects, which could result in injuries. If it isn’t an option to remove the jewelry, be sure to wear proper protective equipment like gloves to help prevent those items from interfering with your job.

Sometimes it’s the little things that we overlook that have major consequences. Your hands are no different. Such intricate and important tools shouldn’t be taken for granted. There are many little things you can do to keep your hands safe that don’t interfere with your day. Give yourself a hand and make sure they’re protected.