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This is Week 4 of National Safety Month. The topic for the week is “Don’t Just Sit There (Focusing on Ergonomics).”

Below you will find a graphic and an excerpt from an article written by The National Safety Council titled “Keep Safe Lifting A Priority.”

We ask you to convey the importance of proper ergonomics at home and work during a Safety Meeting this week.

Keep safe lifting a priority

Lifting and carrying objects is common for many workers across the country. But training is important. If performed improperly, lifting and carrying items can lead to injuries. The National Safety Council notes that manual handling of objects accounts for an estimated 25 percent of all occupational injuries. Common materials-handling injuries include strains and sprains (specifically to the back), cuts, fractures, and bruises.

NSC states that no “sure-fire” rules exist for safe lifting: “Manual materials handling is a very complex combination of moving body segments, changing joint angles, tightening muscles and loading the spinal column.” However, NSC does recommend following a number of do’s and don’ts pertaining to lifting.

Do:

  • Eliminate manual lifting whenever possible to help reduce injuries.
  • Stay in good physical shape if lifting items is part of your job.
  • Keep materials within easy reach and have handling aids around in case you need them.
  • Make sure you have a good grip on any item you attempt to lift. Test the weight and balance of items before moving them. Too heavy? Get a mechanical lifting aid or ask a co-worker for assistance.
  • Keep the item you are lifting close to your body. Ensure your feet are close to the load, stand in a stable position with your feet pointed in the direction you’re moving, and lift mostly by straightening your legs.

Don’t:

  • Twist your back or bend in a sideways direction.
  • Attempt to lift or lower an object if you’re in an awkward position.
  • Feel compelled to lift an item that is too heavy – get help instead.
  • Lift or lower an object if your arms are extended.
  • Continue to lift an item if you realize it’s too heavy.
  • Lift above your shoulders or below your knees.

Training for safe lifting can take time. NSC says that regular reinforcement of proper lifting techniques is critical, as people tend to revert back to previous lifting habits.

“Safe work practices must be enforced and any unapproved deviation must be corrected immediately,” the council states.

Together, we can  Keep Each Other Safe.

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Congratulations to the  Arkansas Construction crews for earning the “Excellence in Safety” award presented by AGC Arkansas at a luncheon yesterday in North Little Rock, Arkansas.

The AGC Arkansas initiated the Excellence in Safety Awards Program in 2016. After going through an application process, AGC Arkansas chose qualifying recipients to be honored for making safety a value and promoting a safe culture to protect their employees. By doing so, those companies have established a strong safety foundation which is proven by their safety record.

Construction Manager Brad Marotti, Regional EHS Coordinator Justin Counce, and Regional Manager John Bennett attended the awards luncheon.

Congratulations to Regional Manager John Bennett and the crews of our Arkansas Construction operations!

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This is Week 3 of  National Safety Month. The topic for the week is “Prepare for Active Shooters.” 

Below you will find a graphic and an excerpt from an article written by Tom Musick titled “Workplace Violence Prevention.”

The complete article is attached for your information, along with a tip sheet. We ask you to convey the importance of being prepared in the case of an active shooter during a Safety Meeting this week. 

Workplace Violence Prevention

Experts say dialogue, drills are essential to protecting workers -Tom Musick

Too many times, Marilyn Knight has heard the same refrain after a violent workplace incident.

“Nothing could have been done.”

“We can only hope something like that never happens here.”

This mindset frustrates Knight, who has worked with organizations worldwide to develop violence prevention and crisis management programs. Something can be done, she says. Employers can take steps to reduce the risk of violence and educate workers.

“Quite frankly, ‘hope’ is not a strategy,” said Knight, who is president and CEO of the Novi, MI-based Incident Management Team. “There are indeed warning signs. There are things you can do. There are ways to mitigate threats, and you can take proactive steps so you’re not just sitting there at the mercy of something and hoping that somebody doesn’t do this.

Start the conversation

Any safety professional who wants to speak about preventing workplace violence faces a difficult task. How can you speak frankly without scaring workers? How can you increase awareness about the topic without fostering anxiety or animosity?

Knight said the answer is simple: Emphasize that the program is about keeping people safe.

Media reports often paint a false image of workplace violence, Knight claims. Headlines such as “Worker snaps” imply a lack of warning signs prior to the violent event. Rarely is that the case.

Minnesota OSHA offers more than a dozen indicators that may point toward an increased risk in worker violence, including:

  • Sudden, persistent complaining about unfair treatment
  • Blaming others for problems
  • Change in behavior or decline in job performance
  • Stated hope for something bad to happen to supervisor or co-worker
  • Increase in absenteeism
  • Refusal to accept criticism about work performance
  • Inability to manage feelings; outbursts of swearing or slamming doors

The danger isn’t limited to co-workers. Sometimes, individuals may show up to a domestic partner’s workplace with the intent to do harm. Or a customer may feel wronged by a particular company and want to take out his or her frustrations on employees.

What I try to say to employees in training is, don’t ignore your gut instincts,” Albrecht said. “We have a process for this now. And you telling us something, even a small piece of information, could make a huge impact on keeping everybody else safe. I think more and more employees have the courage to do that because they now see it as an ‘us’ issue.

Three simple words

Albrecht said workers should remember three simple words:  Run, hide, fight. If able, workers should flee the building and bring as many colleagues as possible. Run to a safe location away from the building and then call the police. If exits are blocked, seek shelter in an enclosed room and barricade the door shut. Finally, as a last resort, be prepared to fight the shooter. Look for objects such as phones or laptops that may be used in self-defense. If there’s time, decide who will try to overtake the person and how it will take place.

 

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This is Week 2 of National Safety Month. The topic for the week is “Recharge to Be in Charge (Focusing on Fatigue).

Below you will find a graphic and an excerpt from an article written by Sarah Trotto regarding titled “Fatigue and Worker Safety.”

We ask you to convey the importance of proper rest during a Safety Meeting this week.

 

Possible solutions

Although workers can help prevent fatigue through measures such as taking breaks and adopting better sleep habits, employers also can help combat the issue.

A November report from RAND Europe, part of the nonprofit research organization RAND Corp., concluded that lack of sleep results in a 13 percent increased risk of death and the loss of 1.2 million workdays per year in the United States. The report offers the following recommendations for employers:

  • Understand the importance of sleep and promote it.
  • Create brighter workplaces with settings for naps.
  • Deter lengthy use of electronic devices after work.

According to a Liberty Mutual report, recommendations for scheduling include:

  • Working during the day rather than at night
  • Restricting consecutive day shifts to five or six days and night shifts to four days
  • Ensuring workers have at least two consecutive days off
  • Making schedules consistent
  • Providing frequent breaks

Supervisors should be alert for signs of excessive fatigue among workers, such as yawning, head dropping, and difficulty remembering or concentrating, according to the statement from ACOEM.

In addition, a risk management system can help mitigate fatigue. A risk management system can include reporting of fatigue-related incidents, investigation, training and auditing, Marks said, adding that “it would include things like making sure sleep disorders are covered on the insurance plan, and people are encouraged to get this evaluated.”

Even if a company does not invest in a complex management system, it can share messages about fatigue, such as the importance of not consuming alcohol before bedtime.

“These are little things that can come out in toolbox safety talks, little five-minute lectures on a topic to pass on the information,” Marks said.

Other ways to mitigate worker fatigue include moving safety-sensitive work to other employees or another time to take advantage of alertness, taking breaks, ingesting caffeine and changing environmental factors, according to ACOEM.

“Being cognizant of how the workplace is set up, how the work is handled, will help improve some of those issues,” Marks said.

“The things that can help: Improving lighting, making sure the temperature is cooler – especially at night – minimizing humidity, noise, vibration. As employers are looking at reengineering workplaces or building new ones, these are things that can be put in place at the beginning or during retrofit to help minimize some of these situations.”


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This is Week 1 of National Safety Month. The topic for the week is “Stand Up for Falls.”

Below you will find a graphic and a segments of an article written by Sarah Trotto regarding housekeeping – a key to preventing slips, trips, and falls.

The article is attached for your review. Please convey these 11 tips during a Safety Meeting this week.

11 tips for effective workplace housekeeping

Every worker plays a part

To some people, the word “housekeeping” calls to mind cleaning floors and surfaces, removing dust, and organizing clutter.

But in a work setting, it means much more. Housekeeping is crucial to safe workplaces. It can help prevent injuries and improve productivity and morale, as well as make a good first impression on visitors, according to Cari Gray, safety consultant for the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation. It also can help an employer avoid potential fines for non-compliance.

The practice extends from traditional offices to industrial workplaces, including factories, warehouses and manufacturing plants that present special challenges such as hazardous materials, combustible dust and other flammables. Experts agree that all workplace safety programs should incorporate housekeeping, and every worker should play a part. In addition, housekeeping should have management’s commitment so workers realize its importance. Here are 11 tips for effective workplace housekeeping.

#1 Prevent slips, trips and falls
Slips, trips and falls were the second leading cause of nonfatal occupational injuries or illnesses involving days away from work in 2013, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

To help prevent slip, trip and fall incidents, the Canadian Center for Occupational Health and Safety recommends the following:

  • Report and clean up spills and leaks.
  • Keep aisles and exits clear of items.
  • Consider installing mirrors and warning signs to help with blind spots.
  • Replace worn, ripped or damage flooring.
  • Consider installing anti-slip flooring in areas that can’t always be cleaned.
  • Use drip pans and guards.

In addition, provide mats, platforms, false floors or “other dry standing places” where useful, according to OSHA. Every workplace should be free of projecting nails, splinters, holes and loose boards.

#2 Eliminate fire hazards
The National Safety Council “Supervisors’ Safety Manual” includes these precautionary measures for fire safety:

  • Keep combustible materials in the work area only in amounts needed for the job. When they are unneeded, move them to an assigned safe storage area.
  • Store quick-burning, flammable materials in designated locations away from ignition sources.
  • Avoid contaminating clothes with flammable liquids. Change clothes if contamination occurs.
  • Keep passageways and fire doors free of obstructions. Stairwell doors should be kept closed. Do not store items in stairwells.
  • Keep materials at least 18 inches away from automatic sprinklers, fire extinguishers and sprinkler controls. The 18-inch distance is required, but 24 to 36 inches is recommended. Clearance of 3 feet is required between piled material and the ceiling. If stock is piled more than 15 feet high, clearance should be doubled. Check applicable codes, including Life Safety Code, ANSI/NFPA 101-2009.
  • Hazards in electrical areas should be reported, and work orders should be issued to fix them.

 #3 Control dust
Dust accumulation of more than 1/32 of an inch – or 0.8 millimeters – covering at least 5 percent of a room’s surface poses a significant explosion hazard, according to the Quincy, MA-based National Fire Protection Association. This dust accumulation is about as thick as a dime or paper clip.

#4 Avoid tracking materials
Work-area mats – which can be cloth or sticky-topped – should be kept clean and maintained. This helps prevent the spread of hazardous materials to other work areas or home, Gray said. Check all mats to ensure they are not tripping hazards.

 

#5 Prevent falling objects
Gray noted that protections such as a toe board, toe rail or net can help prevent objects from falling and hitting workers or equipment.

Other tips include stacking boxes and materials straight up and down to keep them from falling, said Paul Errico, a Fairfield, CT-based safety consultant. Place heavy objects on lower shelves, and keep equipment away from the edges of desks and tables. Also, refrain from stacking objects in areas where workers walk, including aisles.

Keep layout in mind so workers are not exposed to hazards as they walk through areas, Norton added.

#6 Clear clutter
A cluttered workplace can lead to ergonomics issues and possible injuries because workers have less space to move, Gray said.

Keep aisles, stairways, emergency exits, electrical panels and doors clear of clutter, and purge untidy areas. Empty trash receptacles before they overflow.

#7 Store materials properly
According to OSHA’s Materials Handling, Storage, Use and Disposal Standard (1926.250), storage areas should not have an accumulation of materials that present hazards for tripping, fire, explosion or pests.

#8 Use and inspect personal protective equipment and tools
Wear basic PPE – such as closed-toe shoes and safety glasses – while performing housekeeping, Gray said. Determine what type of PPE to don based on the potential risks.Regularly inspect, clean and fix tools, according to CCOHS. Remove any damaged tools from the work area.

#9 Determine frequency
All workers should participate in housekeeping, especially in terms of keeping their own work areas tidy, reporting safety hazards and cleaning up spills, if possible.

Before the end of a shift, workers should inspect and clean their workspaces and remove unused materials. This dedication can reduce time spent cleaning later, experts say.

#10 Create written rules
Experts agree that housekeeping policies should be put in writing. That way, Norton said, they are formal and defined. Written protocols could specify which cleaners, tools and methods should be used.

#11 Think long-term
Housekeeping should be more than a one-time initiative – it should continue through monitoring and auditing. Keep records, maintain a regular walkthrough inspection schedule, report hazards and train employees to help sustain housekeeping. Set goals and expectations, and base auditing on those goals, Gray said.

 

Together, we can Keep Each Other Safe.

 

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