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Americans impacted by hearing loss hits record numbers

May is National Better Hearing Month

Green Guard First Aid and the American Academy of Audiology are encouraging the public to make an appointment with an audiologist if they suspect hearing loss for themselves or any of their loved ones.

According to the National Institutes of Health NIDCD, approximately 20 percent (48 million) of American adults aged 20 to 69, have some trouble with hearing and approximately 28.8 million could benefit from the use of hearing aids. Among adults aged 70 and older with hearing loss who could benefit from hearing aids, fewer than one in three (30 percent) has ever used them.

As the baby boomer population ages, more Americans are forced to face hearing health challenges. Growing numbers of younger Americans (including millennials and GenX’ers) are also reporting hearing problems. The NIH NIDCD also states that five in 10 young people listen to music or other audio too loudly and that four in 10 young people are around “dangerously loud noise during events like concerts and sports games.” Occupational noise is another factor impacting hearing in people of all ages who work outdoors, in factories, fulfillment centers, etc.

Technology has progressed extensively and hearing aids are no longer the bulky contraptions of years past.”  Hearing aid companies have stepped up to the plate to make “very cool” hearing aids for kids and young adults. “You can opt to buy hearing aids that are virtually undetectable or you can buy them in a wide range of cool colors and styles. Many work with smart phones.”

Audiologists are the experts in hearing health, Hearing aids are not always the only or recommended solution, which is why it’s important to see an audiologist to further determine the appropriate treatment. Sometimes the cause is temporary or a symptom of another illness or disease. An audiologist will run various tests to determine the cause and will be able to recommend treatment.

 

Some signs of hearing loss may include:

  • Suddenly having to turn up the volume of the television, radio, or stereo and having other family members complain that the volume is too loud.
  • Difficulty understanding people speaking to you and asking people to repeat themselves.
  • Difficulty with phone conversations and understanding the other person.
  • Sudden inability to hear the doorbell, the dog barking, and other household sounds.
  • People telling you that you speak too loudly.
  • Ringing in the ears.

In furthering working to help the public recognize hearing loss, the American Academy of Audiology helped launch a hearing screening app last year, hearScreen USA. The app provides an easy hearing test through the use of a smart phone. For those who demonstrate hearing loss, the app will recommend an audiologist. Based on technology developed by the University of Pretoria, South Africa, the app provides accurate detection of hearing loss in under three minutes.

To find an audiologist, go to www.audiology.org/FindAnAudiologist.

 

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Five Safety Tips that Impact Business

Follow these tips to create and maintain a strong safety culture that engages employees as part of the process.

It’s easy to turn a blind eye to safety when working in fast-paced environments and having to meet project deadlines. However, most manufacturing employers can attest to the turbulent outcomes that can arise if safety standards are not regularly enforced. Our everyday actions can have an impact on cost and productivity. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2,000 eye injuries occur every day in the workplace, costing more than $300 million in lost production time, medical expenses and worker compensation.

It’s clear that many companies are failing workers with insufficient safety programs and injury prevention plans. However, employers have the opportunity to turn this situation around with a few changes. Protecting employees doesn’t mean your organization has to start from square one. It does, however, require you to create a strong safety culture and open communication channels so employees can collaborate when it comes to hazard identification and problem-solving.

Here are five tips that operations managers, site managers and safety coaches can use to start that dialogue:

1. Start from the top. Developing a healthy safety culture requires leadership to champion safety as a key organizational value. The company culture must include leading, working and acting safe. When management leads in safety, the organization will follow.

2. Distribute safety surveys. When executing on your safety culture, it’s important to first find out what your employees know about your safety guidelines and expectations. Are they familiar with your corporate policies and procedures? Do they even know their own responsibilities when it comes to safety? This survey also serves as a great opportunity to get anonymous feedback on employees’ perceptions about safety in your workplace.

3. Conduct pre-shift huddles. This is a time when management can reinforce the safety culture by covering near-injury misses, newly identified hazards and educating staff on how proper processes and equipment handling can protect everyone’s health and safety. The goal of safety huddles is to also provide an open, non-punitive forum for employees to communicate about workplace safety.

4. One-on-one discussions. Supervisors can build trust and show respect for their workers’ safety by engaging associates in informal safety discussions. Associates who know that their opinions and perspectives are valued will be more likely to participate in informal communication about safety practices. This is also an ideal setting to gain feedback from employees who may not be comfortable bringing up concerns in front of a large group.

5. Perform ongoing safety training. Providing safety training for employees is essential for creating a culture of workplace safety. A workforce with a strong understanding of safety guidelines and best practices is more likely to recognize potential hazards before they occur. This can lead to fewer injuries and help you avoid costly losses in productivity and employee morale.

Some of the benefits of a safer and more engaged workforce include:

●       reduced workers’ compensation costs, lower medical expenses and improved productivity.

●       improved safety as a result of clear and repeatable processes for identifying and addressing hazards and injury threats.

●       stronger employer branding and positive outside perspective of the organization.

 

 

Impact on Employer Branding

Workplace safety should begin and end not only with workers in mind, but with workers being engaged—actively participating and driving safety programs forward. High levels of employee engagement have also been correlated with greater productivity, quality and profitability, as well as reduced turnover rates. It can also contribute to improved employee retention, and it even has the ability to impact recruiting, since job seekers will be able to learn about your culture of safety through online reviews. In today’s world, job seekers look to current and former employees’ experience to decide whether or not they want to work for a company.

 

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Source: https://www.ehstoday.com/safety/five-safety-tips-impact-business


Did You Know You Need To Test Your Eye Wash Station Weekly To Meet OSHA/ANSI Standards?

Compliance is an all-day, every-day requirement.

Emergency showers and eyewashes are required by the ANSI/ISEA Z358.1-2014 standard to be activated weekly, with a more thorough evaluation on an annual basis. With OSHA fine increases of 80 percent having taken effect in August 2016, violations for inappropriate or inadequate eyewash and shower equipment have resulted in penalties of more than $100,000.

The standard guides the placement, functionality, and maintenance requirements for emergency showers and eyewashes. ANSI/ISEA Z358.1, in its current form, is the clearest and most useful tool for protecting workers from eye, face, and bodily injuries resulting from caustic and corrosive materials introduced by workplace incidents such as spills, splashes, and blown particulates.

The standard requires stringent testing to be conducted on a regular basis to ensure properly functioning equipment is being provided at all times if an incident were to occur. We should all understand that compliance is not a once-a-year or once-a-month responsibility. Compliance is an all-day, every-day requirement. Accordingly, emergency showers and eyewashes are required by the ANSI/ISEA Z358.1-2014 standard to be activated weekly, with a more thorough evaluation on an annual basis. This requirement is established in Sections including 4.6.2, 4.6.5.

In practice, emergency response equipment such as eyewashes and showers sometimes fall to the wayside when it comes to maintenance, especially when prioritized against emergency preparedness equipment such as eye protection and fall protection. You should know that OSHA does not prioritize or take a backseat when it comes to providing adequate and properly functioning equipment, regardless whether the equipment aids pre- or post-incident.

ANSI Weekly Minimum Performance Requirements
The standard itself has three minimum requirements for weekly inspections:

  1. Emergency equipment shall be activated weekly. (Each piece of equipment is required to be activated.)
  2. Activation shall ensure flow of water to the head(s) of the device. (This would be both the eyewash or eye/face wash head, as well as the showerhead.)
  3. Duration of the activation shall be sufficient to ensure all stagnant water is flushed from the unit itself and all sections of piping that do not form part of a constant circulation system, also known as “dead leg” portions. (The duration is determined by the length of piping where stagnant water could be sitting before it reaches the head(s) of the unit.)

In addition to the above weekly minimum performance checklist required by ANSI/ISEA, it is recommended as a best practice to conduct additional weekly functional checks. The purpose of these additional checks is to fully ensure the equipment is operating correctly and is capable of providing proper first aid in the event of an emergency.

ACCESS

  • Path of travel to the safety station shall be free of obstructions. (This could include hoses, boxes, and doors.) (Sections 4.5.2, 5.4.2, 6.4.2, 7.4.2)

SHOWER

  • Shower must deliver a minimum of 20 gallons (75.7 L) per minute. (Sec. 4.1.2, 4.1.4, 7.1)
  • The valve shall go from “off” to “on” in one second or less and flushing fluid shall remain on without the use of operator’s hands. (Sec. 4.2, 7.1)

EYEWASH/EYE/FACE WASH

  • Outlets shall be protected from airborne contaminants. (Dust covers must be in place.) (Sec. 5.1.3, 6.1.3, 7.1)
  • The valve shall go from “off” to “on” in one second or less and flushing fluid shall remain on without the use of operator’s hands. (Sec. 5.2, 6.2, 7.2)
  • The flushing fluid of an eyewash or eye/face wash shall cover the areas between the interior and exterior lines of a gauge at some point less than 8 inches (20.3 cm) above the eyewash nozzle. (sec 5.1.8, 6.1.8,7.1)
  • Must provide a means of a controlled flow to both eyes simultaneously at a velocity low enough to be non-injurious. (Sec. 5.1.1, 6.1.1, 7.1)

COMBINATION UNIT

  • Combination unit components shall be capable of operating simultaneously. (When the eyewash or eye/face wash is activated, and then the shower is activated, there should be no “starvation” occurring to either of the heads.) (Sec. 7.3, 7.4.4)

TEMPERATURE

  • Deliver tepid flushing fluid. (The required temperature range is 60°F – 100°F [16°C – 38°C])(Sec. 4.5.6, 5.4.6, 6.4.6, 7.4.5)

Plumbed Shower and Eyewash Equipment
As a general statement, all equipment needs to be inspected weekly to ensure that there is a flushing fluid supply and that the equipment is in good repair. If the equipment is of a plumbed design, then it should also be activated weekly to clear the supply line of any sediment buildup and to minimize any microbial contamination due to stagnant water.

Self-Contained Eyewash and Shower Equipment
Self-contained, also often referred to as “portable,” emergency response equipment is typically used in locations where there is either no access to water or at highly mobile sites where hazards are mobile. The ANSI/ISEA requirement for this type of equipment is to be visually inspected weekly to determine whether the flushing fluid needs to be exchanged or supplemented (Sections 4.6.3 and others). The units should be maintained as per the manufacturer’s specific model instructions.

A majority of self-contained units that use potable water also offer a sterile bacteriostatic additive option to prevent the water from growing bacteria. An exchange of the water and refill of the additive is required every three months for most additive products, as well as rinsing the unit clean between the exchanges. If an additive is not being used, then the water should be exchanged on a weekly basis, at a minimum, with a thorough tank cleaning monthly. On an annual basis, self-contained units are required to undergo the full test just as plumbed units do.

The question is often asked whether a company must hire a certified tester to conduct the weekly and annual inspections. Fortunately, there are no prerequisite or certification requirements to be able to test the equipment, although having a complete understanding of the installation and performance requirements will aid in ensuring conformance. There are various training tools, including Online Competent Inspector Training, offered by equipment manufacturers and others for individuals to become subject-matter experts. This allows company personnel to get familiar with what to look for and how to conduct the tests appropriately. Many companies today opt to have an outside third-party inspection performed for them annually, which provides an added measure of credibility and assurance to the review process.

 

Facilities that contain hundreds of shower and eyewash units should strive to create as many subject-matter experts as possible. Once trained, the weekly checks can be completed rather quickly. Creating facility maps, having full testing kits available, and holding recurring training classes can assist in the tedious yet crucial weekly task.

Worker protection should be a priority in every safety plan. Simply providing emergency showers and eyewashes is not enough. It is necessary to inspect, test, and monitor equipment readiness and performance for the optimal response.

 

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Source: https://ohsonline.com/Articles/2018/09/01/Testing-Your-Emergency-Equipment-to-Meet-ANSI-Z3581.aspx?admgarea=ht.ShowersEyewash&Page=3


Getting Workers to Use Their Protective Gear

Respiratory Protection

Small changes in training can lead to big results.

Buying safety equipment and getting workers to use it are two entirely different things. Anecdotally, almost every safety professional I’ve spoken to finds it much easier to go shopping for the latest hard hat and safety glasses than getting workers to comply with PPE requirements.

The usual advice to improve compliance to provide new, more comfortable PPE that looks good. But what happens when you’ve purchased new protective equipment that fits well and looks good, but it still doesn’t get used when it should?

There are several often-overlooked ways to get workers to wear their PPE. In most cases, these are small changes in what many workplaces are actually doing—but collectively, they can lead to major improvements.

The Whys of Training

Training should cover more than how to properly wear PPE. It should also discuss why. One of the biggest causes of PPE noncompliance is that many workers simply don’t think they need it. When they’re asked why they aren’t wearing PPE, people will often say things like, “I just never thought to put it on.”

PPE trainers should take a cue from basic marketing tactics and present workers with more impactful value propositions. Explain why PPE use is necessary, make it feel urgent, and appeal to them with compelling stories.

Good stories are personal and relevant. One of my own go-to stories is about a time when I was walking through a worksite—and out of the blue, a rivet struck my hard hat. It had been dropped by someone working on a raised platform several stories up and could have caused serious damage if I hadn’t been wearing PPE.

This story works well because it demonstrates that wearing PPE is a practical choice we can make to protect against other people’s mistakes. It also shows that I personally believe in the value of PPE, and it provides a good prompt for a discussion about when it’s necessary to wear hard hats.

 

More than Monthly

If you want PPE use to become a regular practice, then you need to make it a regular topic of conversation. This means discussing PPE with workers at every opportunity and from every angle. Provide verbal refreshers of key teaching points from PPE training, talk about why it’s so important to wear PPE and chat about different situations in which workers may be tempted to remove their PPE so that people will be on the alert and prepared to act in the safest manner possible.

These refreshers can be delivered in a variety of ways. At the end of a one-on-one conversation with a worker, take a few moments to remind them about PPE issues. You can also discuss PPE when assigning workers to new tasks or when talking to them about non-safety elements of their job. Also consider more passive forms of reminders, such as noting PPE requirements in safety posters, and on video displays in break rooms and other common areas.

Many manufacturing companies already have group discussions built into the work schedule. In most cases, these are either monthly safety meetings or weekly toolbox talks. A short conversation about PPE can usually be worked into these meetings with minimal effort. But monthly discussions typically aren’t enough (especially because other safety issues also need to be covered).

 

When It’s Time for an Intervention

Sometimes proper training and regular toolbox talks on PPE isn’t enough to get everyone to comply. If someone consistently fails to wear their PPE, then it’s time to have a one-on-one conversation with them.

The conversation should be direct but it shouldn’t be focused on reprimanding the worker for unsafe actions. Instead, let the worker share why they think certain behavior is acceptable and then have the supervisor follow up with an explanation of the risks.

People are more likely to listen if they feel listened to in turn, and if they believe in the underlying need for PPE rules. So even when a frank conversation is required because someone isn’t wearing safety gloves or eye protection, it’s still important to focus not on current noncompliance but on desired behavior in the future.

 

From Decision to Habit

Every time a worker makes the decision to use PPE, there’s always a small chance they could choose to not use PPE. That’s why the goal is to transform PPE use into an unconscious habit.

It’s not something that happens overnight. In most cases, building safety habits requires a lot of small course corrections and encouragement, both of which come from group and individual conversations. Eventually, though, PPE use will go from being a rule that must be enforced to something that happens automatically.

Source: https://www.ehstoday.com/ppe/safe-any-speed-getting-workers-use-their-protective-gear

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OSHA Raises Employer Penalties for 2019

OSHA Raises Employer Penalties for 2019

The penalty increases apply to federal OSHA states.

The penalties levied against employers for safety violations by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) have gone up, effective Jan. 24. The increases only apply to citations issued after that date and for the remainder of 2019.

The 2019 penalties are:

·        Other than Serious violations, $13,260 (up from $12,675 in 2018);

·        Serious violations, $13,260 (up from $12,675);

·        Repeat violations: $132,598, (up from $126,749);

·        Willful violations, $132,598 (up from $126,749);

·        Failure to abate (per day), $13,260 (up from $12,675 last year).

The penalty increases apply to federal OSHA states. Nonetheless, OSHA expects that the 26 states operating their own occupational safety and health programs will align penalty structures with federal OSHA so that such programs are equally effective.

“While this is OSHA’s expectation there has been little adjustment from various state plans to align with the increase in penalties,” notes Tressi L. Cordaro, an attorney with the law firm of Jackson Lewis PC. “For example, North Carolina and Kentucky still maintain a $7,000 maximum fine for serious violations and $70,000 for willful or repeats.”

In the future, DOL is required to adjust maximum OSHA penalties for inflation by January 15 of each new year.

Source: https://www.ehstoday.com/standards/osha-raises-employer-penalties-2019

 

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Shoveling Snow? This might shock you…

Snowmageddon, Snowpocalypse, SnOMG!

There is no end to the terms for “really big snowstorm,” and those terms came in handy, particularly in America’s snowiest cities. Just check out these average annual snowfall totals, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration:

  • Mt. Washington, NH – 281.2 inches
  • Houghton, MI – 207.7 inches
  • Syracuse, NY – 123.8 inches
  • Sault St. Marie, MI – 120.4 inches
  • Caribou, ME – 108.7 inches
  • Flagstaff, AZ – 101.7 inches
  • Traverse City, MI – 101.4 inches

But with really big snow storms – and even everyday, run-of-the-mill snowfalls – comes a risk of death by shoveling. Nationwide, snow shoveling is responsible for thousands of injuries and as many as 100 deaths each year.

So, why so many deaths? Shoveling snow is just another household chore, right?

Not really, says the American Heart Association. While most people won’t have a problem, shoveling snow can put some people at risk of heart attack. Sudden exertion, like moving hundreds of pounds of snow after being sedentary for several months, can put a big strain on the heart. Pushing a heavy snow blower also can cause injury.

 

Cold weather can increase heart rate and blood pressure. It can make blood clot more easily and constrict arteries, which decreases blood supply. This is true even in healthy people. Individuals over the age of 40 or who are relatively inactive should be particularly careful.

National Safety Council recommends the following tips to shovel safely:

  • Do not shovel after eating or while smoking
  • Take it slow and stretch out before you begin
  • Shovel only fresh, powdery snow; it’s lighter
  • Push the snow rather than lifting it
  • If you do lift it, use a small shovel or only partially fill the shovel
  • Lift with your legs, not your back
  • Do not work to the point of exhaustion
  • Know the signs of a heart attack, and stop immediately and call 911 if you’re experiencing any of them; every minute counts

Don’t pick up that shovel without a doctor’s permission if you have a history of heart disease. A clear driveway is not worth your life.

 

Snow Blower Safety

In addition to possible heart strain from pushing a heavy snow blower, be safe with tips from the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, including:

  • If the blower jams, turn it off
  • Keep your hands away from the moving parts
  • Be aware of the carbon monoxide risk of running a snow blower in an enclosed space
  • Add fuel outdoors, before starting, and never add fuel when it is running
  • Never leave it unattended when it is running

Source: https://www.nsc.org/home-safety/tools-resources/seasonal-safety/winter/snow-shoveling

 

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Meeting the Requirements for Emergency Equipment

 

For companies maintaining or considering emergency shower and eyewash stations, there are two key standards to remember.

The ANSI/ISEA Z358.1-2014 American National Standard for Emergency Eyewash and Shower Equipment is an essential resource—visit ISEA’s www.safetyequipment.org website to order it. This important consensus standard outlines the minimum equipment performance criteria for this equipment. It specifies flow rates, water temperature delivery, testing, and much more.

Z358.1 is the leading international standard for implementation of eyewash and shower equipment. On the standard’s page on its website, ISEA points out what a wide range of industries need to install and maintain this emergency equipment, listing “manufacturing and processing facilities, construction sites, laboratories, medical and healthcare offices, refineries and other workplaces.”

The other key standard is OSHA’s first aid standard, the one that explains the requirement for certain facilities in those and other industries to install shower or eyewash equipment. OSHA’s 29 CFR 1910.151(c) says, “Where the eyes or body of any person may be exposed to injurious corrosive materials, suitable facilities for quick drenching or flushing of the eyes and body shall be provided within the work area for immediate emergency use.”

End users frequently ask what constitutes “immediate use.” Fortunately, ANSI/ISEA Z358.1-2014 answers this question: It specifies that showers and eyewashes should be located within 10 seconds’ travel distance from a hazard. As Speakman Company’s Imants Stiebris explained in an article in the July 2018 issue of this magazine, “While in existing facilities it is fairly easy to measure 10 seconds with a stopwatch, engineers and architects who are designing facilities do not have this luxury; all that they have to work with are blueprints. To help these design professionals, the Z358.1 standard suggests that 55 feet is a distance that most persons can travel in 10 seconds or less. The victim’s physical condition and potential obstacles must still be taken into consideration.”

Meeting the Requirements for Emergency Equipment

The shower and eyewash units should be on the same level as the hazard requiring their use, in order to eliminate trips and the need for the affected worker to climb up or down. The units should be installed in a well-lit area and identified with a sign; if shut-off valves are installed in the supply line for maintenance purposes, the employer should prevent unauthorized shut off of the water supply.

The Z358.1-2014 standard also directs that the water temperature delivered to this equipment be “tepid,” which is defined as being between 60 degrees and 100 degrees Fahrenheit, so that the affected worker will be able to withstand the continuous flow for 15 minutes without the risk of scalding or hypothermia.

 

Employee Training and Equipment Testing
Shower and eyewash companies say there are six interrelated areas for managers of employers’ eyewash and shower programs to get right: performance, use, installation, testing, maintenance, and training.

Employees must be trained to hold their eyes open during the flushing process. All employees also should be trained on how to use the emergency equipment fixtures before they handle hazardous chemicals.

Showers should deliver at least 20 gallons per minute for a minimum of 15 minutes; for eyewashes, the required minimum is 0.4 gallons per minute. The equipment must activate in 1 second or less and then continue to operate hands-free.

Experts recommend designating one person as responsible for inspecting, operating, and documenting findings weekly for the shower, eyewash, and combination units and drench hoses, but for large facilities with multiple units, they recommend having a contractor or vendor do these tasks, in order to eliminate inconsistent checks because of vacations, sick days, etc.

Contractors should be familiar with the ANSI standard and be able to give a detailed report on any problems. The weekly check ensures flushing fluid is available at the correct temperature, pattern, and flow and also clears the supply line of sediments and minimizes the risk of microbial contamination caused by still, sitting water. During activation of plumbed showers, the equipment is to be checked for any visible damage, leaks, rust, and obstructed flow; the inspector is to ensure that spray nozzles are protected from contaminates and that protective caps and covers deploy easily, and the equipment continues to run until it is turned off.

Self-contained (gravity-fed) showers must be visually checked weekly to determine whether the flushing fluid needs to be changed or replenished, and they must be maintained according to the manufacturer’s instructions. All emergency showers must be inspected annually to make sure they meet the ANSI Z358.1-2014 performance requirements.

References
1. https://safetyequipment.org/product/ansiisea-z358-1-2014/
2. https://www.osha.gov/laws-regs/regulations/standardnumber/1910/1910.151

 

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OSHA 2018 Top 10 Violations

Construction Fall Protection

The top 10 violations seen by OSHA in the fiscal year 2018:

1. Fall Protection—General Requirements: 1926.501, with 7,720 violations

2. Hazard Communication: 1910.1200, with 4,552 violations

3. Scaffolds—General Requirements: 1926.451, with 3,336 violations

4. Respiratory Protection: 1910.134, with 3,118 violations

5. Lockout/Tagout: 1910.147, with 2,944 violations

6. Ladders: 1926.1053, with 2,812 violations

7. Powered Industrial Trucks: 1910.178, with 2,294 violations

8. Fall ProtectionTraining Requirements: 1926.503, with 1,982 violations

9. Machine Guarding: 1926.212, with 1,972 violations

10. Personal Protective and Lifesaving Equipment—Eye and Face Protection: 1926.102, with 1,536 violations

 

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7 tips for an effective workplace safety committee

1 – Put progression before perfection at the start. When creating a safety committee, begin the process with immediate and long-term goals, but be careful about aiming too high initially.

What are you going to accomplish? Is there a measurement that you’re going to have?  What can you do to push safety forward just a little bit?

 

2 – Embrace variety. Workplaces consist of employees with varied positions and backgrounds. Ensure your safety committee follows suit by including a mix of your organization’s labor force and management.

Committees should include current or previous safety champions as well.

 

3 – Develop a basic curriculum. Be prepared to provide training and materials to boost committee members’ knowledge and recognition of workplace safety and health hazards, as well as ways to avoid and prevent them.

There are numerous safety education resources are available. NSC and other worker safety organizations offer extensive training in a variety of areas, while the OSHA Outreach Training Program includes 10-hour and 30-hour classes.

 

4 – Plan meetings ahead of time. Develop meeting agendas a few days in advance and distribute them so committee members can prepare. Part of the agenda should include setting a time limit for the entire meeting as well as for each agenda item. Monitor how meetings adhere to these limits.

Have one person serve as the committee’s “conscience.” This person’s duties would include keeping the group focused and ensuring the committee is acting properly, following pre-determined ground rules and treating all members with respect.

 

5 – Maintain a reasonable rotation among committee members. Ideally, the committee will be made up of volunteers rather than appointed or selected members. That dynamic increases the probability of consistent member investment and energy.

Consider the size of your organization and the committee when deciding the best rotation schematic. The importance of a number of perspectives and the tendency of groupthink to build on an individual’s idea.

For most larger companies, have a rotation of three years on, two years off.

 

6 – Don’t be boring.  “Make Safety Fun,”

Make fun an agenda item. Talk about what you can do to make safety meetings more fun and make them better.

Opening meetings with personal reflections or exercises before the traditional reading of minutes; using occasional guest speakers; and scheduling some meetings at a nearby restaurant, museum or park.

Professional decorum still applies, of course.

 

7 – Occasionally look outward. Try to get in touch with other industries and see what they’re doing outside of your field, and see what their safety committee is doing.

 

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Workplace holiday safety tips

With the holiday season underway, people are feeling festive – including at work. But whether you’re decorating your cubicle or taking part in the office potluck, safety should always remain a top priority. Here are some simple tips to help prevent injuries while celebrating on the job.

Safe decorating

Don’t stand on a chair to hang decorations. Use a stepladder, and make sure to read and follow the instructions and warnings on the label. And never hang decorations from fire sprinklers – they can prevent the sprinklers from operating properly. OSHA regulations state that stacked materials should never be closer than 18 inches below fire sprinklers.

Planning to string decorative lights or other electrical items in your workspace? The Electrical Safety Foundation International, a nonprofit organization, states that workers should:

  • Be sure that all electrical items are certified by a nationally recognized independent testing lab.
  • Inspect all lights, decoration and extension cords for damage before using.
  • Avoid overloading electrical outlets with too many decorations or electrical devices – they can overheat and cause a fire.
  • Never try to make a three-prong plug fit into a two-prong outlet.
  • Turn off all indoor and outdoor electrical decorations before leaving.

If you’ll be using an extension cord, ESFI offers additional tips:

  • Refrain from placing extension cords in high-traffic areas of your workplace, or under rugs, carpets or furniture.
  • Never attempt to extend the length of an extension cord by connecting it to another extension cord.
  • Never nail or staple extension cords to walls – doing so may damage existing wire insulation.
  • Don’t place extension cords in walls or ceilings, as this can cause the cords to overheat.

Food safety

If your workplace is hosting a potluck to celebrate the holidays, keep these safety tips from the U.S. Department of Agriculture in mind:

  • Bringing a dish to share? Follow safe food-handling guidelines. Always wash your hands before and after handling food, and serve prepared dishes on clean plates – never on dishes that previously held raw meat.
  • If you’re preparing a dish ahead of time that contains meat, ensure the meat’s internal temperature reaches the proper temperature. USDA recommends cooking raw beef, pork, lamb and veal to a minimum internal temperature of 145° F; raw ground beef, pork, lamb and veal to an internal temperature of 160° F; and cooking all poultry items to a minimum internal temperature of 165° F.
  • Concerned about your co-worker’s casserole? If it has been sitting out at room temperature for more than two hours, just say no. Which leads us to the next tip …
  • Keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold. USDA notes that hot foods should be 140° F or warmer. Use chafing dishes or slow cookers to help keep hot foods at safe temperatures. Cold foods should be 40° F or colder. Keep foods cold by placing dishes in bowls of ice or by serving in small batches and replenishing from the refrigerator as needed.

Have a co-worker with a food allergy? Don’t be a Grinch! Be mindful of their needs as you plan your office potluck.

And finally, remember that your employer’s drug and alcohol policy doesn’t take a holiday break.

Have a safe and happy holiday season!

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