May 16th, 2013 at 3:41 pm
Most blisters are caused by prolonged repeated friction of a location on the skin. Blisters shouldn’t be punctured unless they’re extremely painful or prevent walking or use of the hands. Unbroken skin over a blister provides a natural barrier to bacteria and decreases the risk of infection.
Cover a small blister with an adhesive bandage, and cover a large one with a porous, plastic-coated gauze pad that absorbs moisture and allows the wound to breathe.
1. Draining a blister
If it’s necessary to relieve blister-related pain, drain the fluid while leaving the overlying skin intact using the following method:
- Wash the blister with soap and warm water.
- Swab the blister with iodine or rubbing alcohol.
- Sterilize a clean, sharp needle by wiping it with rubbing alcohol.
- Use the needle to puncture the blister. Aim for several spots near the blister’s edge. Let the fluids drain, but leave the overlying skin in place.
- Apply an antibiotic ointment to the blister and cover with a bandage or gauze pad.
- After several days, the dead skin can be cut away using tweezers and scissors sterilized with rubbing alcohol. Apply more ointment and a bandage.
2. Blister prevention
To prevent a blister, use gloves, socks, a bandage or similar protective covering over the area being rubbed. Special athletic socks are available that have extra padding in critical areas. Moleskin can also be attached to the inside of a shoe where it is rubbing.
May 15th, 2013 at 1:43 pm
Safety School: Courses on Workplace Safety; Regulatory Compliance and Business Best Practices
Jay Acker is a technical writer who creates material for conducting safety meetings, safety training programs, posters and other items.
Safety School is a twice monthly exploration into the next level of workplace safety, regulatory compliance and best practices for your business. The curriculum is wide ranging so check back with us on Wednesdays ready to take notes and ask questions.
One of the more common set of questions I get are from small operations wondering if they are covered by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and all the rules, regulations and standards that go with it:
“I run a small farm with only myself and my family.”
“Everybody that works for me is an independent contractor.”
“We’re all partners here.”
“I am a subcontractor at a worksite; does that mean I am responsible for safety or is the general contractor?”
If you’ve had a question similar to these, let’s try to break down where OSHA coverage begins and clear up the gray areas.
The most basic understanding of OSHA compliance boils down to the General Duty Clause, which says every employer needs to create a safe workplace for its employees by addressing what can reasonably go wrong.
Really, that’s it. Even the regulation is understandable and as straight forward as legal code can be. Go ahead and read it.
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May 10th, 2013 at 1:27 pm
RSHA Lawn Maintenance
In our last posting we considered the need for a residential safety and health administration (RSHA), and looked at some of the hazards around the home, and things to check to avoid them. Now that we’ve decided that we don’t need another government agency monitoring us, let’s spend a few minutes thinking about other home hazards that can exist outside of the house, and what we can do to avoid them.
With warm weather approaching you’ll probably be increasing your outdoor activities. One of the most common activities is lawn maintenance, and that’s what we’ll look at today.
Use these simple guidelines to protect yourself when doing yard work.
• Always wear sunscreen while mowing lawns. The sun is more damaging than you think.
• Drink plenty of water before, during and after mowing lawns. Avoid alcohol which will dehydrate you.
• Never mow wet grass. Wet grass is slippery and could you to fall and slip under the mower.
• Never mow if there’s lightning or thunder. If you can see lightning or hear thunder while mowing, stop and get inside.
If this is the year you decide to get a new lawn mower make sure you read the owner’s manual. If you’re keeping the one you have, make sure to check it before you use it. The better you understand how to use your lawn mower, the safer you’ll be.
• Make sure your mower is clean and in good working order. Disconnect the spark plug when you work on your mower to prevent accidental starting.
• Make sure that the blade is secure, and that there are no leaks. Leaks are most likely gas or oil which can be harmful to you and the grass you are mowing as well.
• Always wear safety glasses and long pants when mowing, because pebbles and small objects can be thrown out by the blade at high speed. Don’t run your mower over pavement where objects are even more likely to be propelled from the mower. Keep all four wheels on the ground.
• Don’t wear sandals when mowing. Wear shoes that give you good traction.
• Always check your lawn before you mow. Items such as sticks, rocks, toys, wire, and other objects can shatter and be thrown if they are run over by the lawn mower.
• Don’t run over anything other than grass with your mower. If there are things in the lawn that the blade won’t go over, like sprinkler heads, mark them, then mow around them. Adjust the wheel height of your mower before starting the engine.
• Be careful when mowing on slopes. Push walk-behind mowers across slopes and drive riding mowers up and down slopes.
• Don’t let grass or other debris accumulate on top of your mower, especially if it’s dry. If the mower gets too hot, the grass can start a fire.
• If you’re using a riding mower, don’t let anyone ride with you. They could fall off and be injured.
• Don’t work on, or refuel your mower then the engine or running or hot. Mufflers can reach up to 1200˚ F which can cause serious burns.
• Store gas only in approved containers, and in a well-ventilated area.
• Handle fuel carefully. Don’t overfill the tank and wipe up any spills.
• Never run your lawn mower if it starts smoking, something is way too hot or on fire.
• Don’t run your gas-powered lawn mower running in an enclosed area. This can cause carbon monoxide build up.
• Never mow the lawn when it is dark outside. You need to be able to see where you’re mowing so you don’t run over anything.
Trimmers, edgers, and blowers
Weed and hedge trimmers, lawn edgers, and leaf blowers are available in gas, electric, and battery powered models. Most non-commercial models are electric because they’re easier to use and maintain, and they’re also more environmentally friendly. Here are some safety tips for using these lawn care tools.
• Always wear the right clothing and protective equipment when working with power tools
• Never use electrically powered equipment when it’s wet.
• Don’t remove protective guards and string guides.
• Make sure the power switch is OFF before plugging the device into an outlet.
• Make sure your extension cord is in good condition and rated for outdoor use. Plug it into an outlet with a ground fault circuit interrupter (or use a GFCI-equipped cord).
• Never unplug equipment by pulling on the cord, this can damage the cord or injure someone nearby.
• Inspect the power cords before using the tool.
• Always make sure you know where your cords are so you don’t trip over them.
• Make sure all children and bystanders are out of the way before you begin trimming.
String trimmers can be extremely dangerous if you’re not careful. The rapidly spinning head of the trimmer is extremely dangerous if it comes in contact with people and can also injure you or others by sending rocks and dust flying. Flying debris can break windows or cause other property damage. Follow these safety rules when using a string trimmer:
• Before using your trimmer, inspect it for loose fasteners and a cracked or chipped string head. Replace all damaged parts and tighten all the loose parts.
• Before trimming, clear the area of any debris such as glass, limbs, rocks, and trash that could become a projectile.
• When using your trimmer, make sure you have good footing and balance, don’t overreach.
• Always keep the string head below operator’s waist level.
• Watch out for exposed electrical wires, communication lines, and extension cords that could be damaged by the trimmer string.
• Monitor the string length. Automatic-feed and bump-feed trimmers may let out more string than you think, causing the string to strike you unexpectedly.
• Unplug trimmers before inspecting, cleaning, adjusting, or replacing string.
• Never leave an electric trimmer plugged in while unattended.
• Use the string trimmer for grass and weeds only.
It’s your responsibility to use the trimmer safely. If you’ve used a string trimmer without wearing the right protection knows how painful it can be.
Most of the trimmer-related injuries involve cut fingers. Cutting an extension cord can also cause shock and other injuries. To minimize the risks when trimming:
• Wear safety goggles, ear protection, work gloves, nonslip shoes, dust mask, and clothing that won’t get caught in the blades.
• Make sure all screws, blades, or chains are secure. Vibration of the equipment can cause screws to loosen.
• Don’t overreach, especially on a ladder. Use three point climbing techniques
• Keep both of your hands on the trimmer, and your fingers and other body parts away from the blades when trimming.
• Turn off the power and wait for the blades to stop before removing debris.
• Never use the trimmer over your head. If your trimmer gets jammed on something, unplug it before attempting to dislodge it.
• Use a blade cover (often sold separately) when carrying and storing a trimmer.
Lawn edgers can give you a clean, professional looking finish to your lawn by creating a separation between the lawn and a sidewalk or path. Like all other rotating power tools however, they can be dangerous. Follow these guidelines to use a lawn edger safely:
• Make sure the edger blade and other parts are firmly attached and that the blade spins freely.
• Don’t use a lawn edger on graveled surfaces.
• Don’t start an edger with the blade on the ground. This can cause uncontrolled movement and possible injuries.
• Operate the edger at full blade speed.
• Wear eye protection to guard against flying objects.
• When edging by the street, stay as far away from it as possible to avoid being hit by passing vehicles.
Leaf blowers are a great way to collect leaves and other yard debris without having to rake. Handheld electric blowers are light weight and usually designed for one-handed operation. They have a push button start and they are emission free. The disadvantage with electric blower is that its use is limited by the length of the power. An electric blower works the best if the work area does not extend any more than 100 feet from the outlet. Here are the key things to remember when using a leaf blower:
• Don’t use the blower to clean yourself.
• Watch out for others in the area. Don’t direct the blower toward anyone.
• Wear eye protection and ear plugs.
With a little though and common sense, you can have a great looking lawn and stay healthy enough to enjoy it.
In the next blog, we’ll look at some other outdoor activities dealing with pools, spas, and play sets.
May 10th, 2013 at 8:02 am
The agency in charge of Michigan’s occupational safety and health regulations had been slated Wednesday to award a Marathon Oil facility in Detroit for their “outstanding safety and health record,” but MIOSHA cancelled the award ceremony the day it was planned amid public outcry over facility safety following a recent fire at the refinery.
The company is currently investigating an April 29 blaze at the plant where workers and supervisors where to be honored Wednesday with MIOSHA’s CET Platinum Award. The award was to recognize 7.1 million continuous hours with no lost-time injuries at the refinery, which boasts an accredited behavior-based safety program and certification in OSHA’s voluntary protection program
“MIOSHA and the company have yet to determine if this event will be rescheduled, as the present focus is on the investigation of this latest incident,” spokeswoman Andrea Miller told The Associated Press in an e-mail.
No injuries resulted from the fire, which burned a wastewater tank, but the community around the refinery staged a protest Friday, questioning why Detroit residents had not been evacuated though thousands in another nearby city had been ordered to leave for safety. Residents planned another protest the day of the award.
“They had planned to be here in protest of the announcement for the awards,” said state Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Detroit. “It’s only two weeks after the explosion that jeopardized so many families and workers at the refinery.”
Despite the fire, spokesperson Jamal Kheiry told the Associated Press that the refinery has a good safety record overall and “goes above and beyond safety requirements,” but he stopped short of saying whether the plant still deserved the award.
May 8th, 2013 at 2:37 pm
The Bureau of Labor Statistics released the finalized occupational death counts for 2011 late last week.
The final count for occupational deaths in the U.S. in 2011 was 4,693, up from the preliminary count of 4,609 reported in September 2012. The number represents the third lowest annual total since the fatal injury census was first conducted in 1992.
The overall fatal work injury rate for the U.S. in 2011 was 3.5 fatal injuries per 100,000 full-time equivalent workers, down slightly from the final rate of 3.6 reported for 2010.
The published fatal injury rate for 2011 equals the lowest rate reported by the program since the conversion to hours-based rates in 2006. The final numbers reflect updates to the 2011 Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (CFOI) file made after the release of preliminary results in September 2012.
Highlights of the revisions includ:
- Fatal work injuries involving contractors accounted for 12 percent of all fatal work injuries in 2011.
- Road way incidents were higher by 28 cases (or 3 percent) from the preliminary count, bringing the total number of fatal work-related roadway incidents in 2011 to 1,103 cases.
- Workplace homicides were higher by 10 cases after the updates, bringing the workplace homicide total in 2011 to 468 cases.
- Work-related suicides increased by 8 cases.
- In the private construction sector fatal injuries increased by 17 cases from the preliminary count. The final fatal work injury total was down 5 percent from the final 2010 total and 2011 was the fifth consecutive year that fatal work injury totals have declined in this industry sector. The 2011 figure is also the lowest total for the private construction industry since CFOI began using the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) to define industry in 2003.
- The largest net increase in fatal work injuries among occupations involved drivers of tractor trailer or other heavy trucks. The total for this occupation rose from 656 cases to 670 after updates were added—an increase of 2 percent.
To read the full report click here.
May 3rd, 2013 at 10:04 am
The WorkSafeBC’s Board of Directors approved three new OHS policies aimed at preventing workplace bullying and harassment.
An employer has a duty to ensure the health and safety of its workers, and as a result, employers must take all reasonable steps to prevent where possible, or otherwise minimize, workplace bullying and harassment, according to Worksafe BC.
The new policies, sections 115, 116 and 117 of the Workers Compensation Act, set out the general duties of employers, workers, and supervisors.
According to Worksafe BC the new policies were developed to clarify the obligations of employers, workers, and supervisors regarding preventing, where possible, or otherwise minimizing workplace bullying and harassment.
The responsibilities of employer, employee and supervisor are detailed below. These new requirements are now in effect.
Take the following steps to prevent or if not possible, minimize workplace bullying and harassment:
a) Develop a policy statement with respect to workplace bullying and harassment not being acceptable or tolerated;
b) Develop and implement procedures for workers to report incidents or complaints of workplace bullying and harassment including how, when and to whom a worker should report incidents or complaints. Included must be procedures for a worker to report if the employer, supervisor or person acting on behalf of the employer, is the alleged bully and harasser
c) Developing and implement procedures for how the employer will deal with incidents or complaints of workplace bullying and harassment including:
i. how and when investigations will be conducted;
ii. what will be included in the investigation;
iii. roles and responsibilities of employers, supervisors, workers and others;
iv. follow-up to the investigation (description of corrective actions, timeframe, dealing with adverse symptoms, etc.); and
v. record keeping requirements;
d) Inform workers of the policy statement in (a) and the steps taken in (b);
e) Train supervisors and workers on:
i. recognizing the potential for bullying and harassment;
ii. responding to bullying and harassment; and
iii. procedures for reporting, and how the employer will deal with incidents or complaints of bullying and harassment in (c) and (d) respectively;
f) Annually reviewing sections a,b, and c.
g) Not engaging in bullying and harassment of workers and supervisors; and
h) Apply and comply with the employer’s policies and procedures on bullying and harassment.
A worker’s obligation to take reasonable care to protect the health and safety of themselves or others includes:
a) Not engaging in bullying and harassment of other workers, supervisors, the employer or persons acting on behalf of the employer;
b) Reporting if bullying and harassment is observed or experienced in the workplace; and
c) Applying and complying with the employer’s policies and procedures on bullying and harassment.
A supervisor’s obligation to ensure health and safety of workers includes:
a) Not engaging in bullying and harassment of workers, other supervisors, the employer or persons acting on behalf of the employer; and
b) Applying and complying with the employer’s policies and procedures on bullying and harassment.
May 1st, 2013 at 8:41 am
Saskatchewan is poised to become the first province in Canada to require mandatory reporting of public buildings that are known to contain asbestos.
The Public Health (Howard’s Law) Amendment Act passed third reading late last month. The legislation will require information to be reported about public buildings found to contain asbestos. The public registry applies to buildings owned by health regions and their affiliates, those used by or connected to schools, and buildings owned by the provincial government and prescribed crown corporations. Other buildings can be added in the future through enactment of regulations.
“People want and deserve to have easier access to information about the presence of asbestos in public buildings,” Health Minister Dustin Duncan said. “A public registry will help provide residents with relevant information about this important issue.”
In November, the province launched a voluntary registry of public buildings that are known to contain asbestos and posted a new online asbestos information guide. The move was in response to the efforts of Howard Willems, an advocate for public reporting of asbestos, who died from a rare form of cancer caused by inhaling asbestos fibres.
“This registry is an important step forward in protecting Saskatchewan workers,” Labour Relations and Workplace Safety Minister Don Morgan said. “We are approaching the Day of Mourning when we remember those injured or lost through workplace injury and disease. All of us need to work together to make sure that all of our workers come home safe every day.”
The new legislation includes requirements for both online and on-site public reporting. For more information, visit www.lrws.gov.sk.ca/asbestos.
May 1st, 2013 at 8:13 am
The human body is a magnificent cooling machine, ridding itself of excess heat through blood circulation and sweat, to maintain a cool temperature of 98.6 degrees.
However, as the temperature and humidity levels increase these cooling methods become less effective putting the worker at risk of possible injury or even death. This article will examine five steps to prevent heat related illnesses.
When working in high-temperature situations an employer need to make cool (50°-60°F) water available. This water needs to be in close proximity to workers.
The employers need to educate workers on the location of water prior to beginning a job. They also need to instruct employees on the importance of drinking water. Workers need to drink a minimum of one cup every 20 minutes, even if they don’t feel thirsty.
Access to Shade
Workers should have access to air conditioned break area to recover from high-heat conditions. When an air conditioned space is not available, rest areas with as many of the following beneficial characteristics should be available:
In full (complete) shade.
- Where surfaces are not warm from earlier sun (e.g., north-facing wall).
- Opened to cooling breezes, but protect workers if breezes feel uncomfortably hot, which can increase risk of heat illness.
- Free of other hazards (e.g., moving traffic, excessive noise, falling objects).
- With sufficient space for the number of workers needing rest breaks at one time.
- Near a supply of cool drinking water.
- Equipped for workers to do productive light work while their bodies cool.
Workers need to be instructed on a company’s brake procedures. When temperatures are below 91 degrees breaks should be optional and at the discretion of the employee. However, as temperatures climb above 91 degrees employers should consider a mandatory break schedule.
This schedule could call for a brake every three hours, but still allow an employee sometime to cool off if they feel themselves overheating.
Rather than being exposed to heat for extended periods of time during the course of a job, workers should, wherever possible, be permitted to distribute the workload evenly over the day and incorporate work/rest cycles. Work/rest cycles give the body an opportunity to get rid of excess heat, slow down the production of internal body heat, slow down the heart rate, and provide greater blood flow to the skin.
For the best protection from heat-related illness, workers should spend the rest periods of the cycle in a cool place, for example in a lightly air conditioned room, trailer or vehicle, or if one is not available, then in full shade.
Rest periods do not necessarily mean that the workers are on break; these can be productive times. During the rest periods, workers may continue to perform mild or light work, such as completing paperwork, sorting small parts, attending a meeting, or receiving training (e.g., instructions for upcoming work, or a tailgate safety talk).
The human body can adapt to heat exposure to some extent. This physiological adaptation is called acclimatization. After a period of acclimatization, the same activity will produce fewer cardiovascular demands. The worker will sweat more efficiently (causing better evaporative cooling), and thus will more easily be able to maintain normal body temperatures.
A properly designed and applied acclimatization program decreases the risk of heat-related illnesses. Such a program involves exposing employees to work in a hot environment for progressively longer periods. NIOSH (1986) says that, for workers with previous experience in jobs where heat levels are high enough to produce heat stress, the regimen should be 50% exposure on day one, 60% on day two, 80% on day three, and 100% on day four. For new workers who will be similarly exposed, the regimen should be 20% on day one, with a 20% increase in exposure each additional day.
Every worker who works in high-heat conditions should know how to monitor themselves for the signs of heat illness and have a person working with them who can spot the signs of heat illness.
When working with someone in the buddy system remind them to drink water or take a break. Talk to your buddy during the work shift to make sure everything is okay. Sometimes people with heat exhaustion get disoriented and think they are okay. If you suspect a problem, keep checking on your co-worker or tell a supervisor.
Personal monitoring can be done by checking the heart rate, oral temperature, or extent of body water loss.
These prevention techniques teamed with training on heat illness response can help eliminate the possibility of heat illness in the workplace.
May 1st, 2013 at 7:48 am
Manitoba is looking at a series of amendments to the Workplace Safety and Health Act that would make the province’s safety and health laws among the strongest in Canada.
“Manitoba has some of the strongest health and safety laws in Canada,” said Family Services and Labour Minister Jennifer Howard. “These amendments will give us new tools to make sure workers are safe and that we are working with employers and employees to prevent workplace injury and illness.”
The province worked with the Minister’s Advisory Council on Workplace Safety and Health to complete a thorough review of the Workplace Safety and Health Act, said Howard. The council made recommendations to strengthen Manitoba’s enforcement abilities, particularly for administrative penalties in the form of fines.
The new provisions would clarify responsibilities, enhance protections and ensure appropriate measures are taken in cases of clear disregard for worker safety through:
- providing immediate fines for activities presenting an imminent risk to workers or for backsliding to unsafe conditions after an improvement order has been issued,
- strengthening protections when a worker refuses unsafe work,
- enshrining workers’ rights in legislation and penalizing employers that prevent workers from exercising their rights,
- requiring a workplace safety and health representative in every workplace with five or more workers,
- requiring in regulations under the legislation mandatory safety and health orientations for all new workers, and
- providing a framework for the new chief prevention officer to review workplace injuries and deaths and report to Manitobans on prevention efforts.
“Every worker has the right to a safe and healthy workplace and every family has the right to expect their loved ones will return home safely at the end of each shift,” said Howard. “Work-related injuries and illnesses are preventable and, with the contributions of the Advisory Council on Workplace Safety and Health, together we are making Manitoba the safest place to work in North America.”
The amended legislation would take effect in the fall of 2013. Information on all of the proposed changes will be available at http://web2.gov.mb.ca/bills/40-2/index.php.
April 26th, 2013 at 10:23 am
As part of their efforts to share environmental monitoring data related to the development of bituminous sands in the region, the governments of Alberta and Canada launched a joint online information portal on Monday.
The site launch occurred on Earth Day, just before a letter from the US Environmental Protection Agency [PDF: 1.5 MB] undermined an earlier State Department Report that had supported construction of the controversial XL Keystone Pipeline, which could move up to 830,000 barrels of Alberta oil sands crude per day into and through the US.
In a press release, Canada’s Environment Minister Peter Kent and Alberta’s Environment and Sustainable Resource Development Minister Diana McQueen, lauded the potential of the interactive Web site to inform the public about the impacts of oil sands development on the natural environment.
“With this portal,” said Minister Kent, ”our respective governments are actively encouraging informed discussions and analysis on the impacts of oil sands development based on high-quality scientific information.”
The environmental impact of oil sands development has driven controversy in both Canada and the US. In response, Canada and Alberta formed a joint oil sands monitoring effort, of which the data portal is a part. The $50 million per year joint data monitoring plan is partially funded by industry and aims to track and share information about air quality, water quality and wildlife changes over the more than 54,000 sq. mi. area of north and central Alberta around the “tar sands.”
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