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workplace safety resources

  • Workplace Safety: Working in Heavy Traffic

    workplace safety working in heavy trafficWe live in a busy world. While it might be ideal to keep all job sites free of pedestrian and vehicle traffic, that's not always possible. More often than not, workers who build and repair roads, bridges, sewer & water lines, power lines, phone lines, and a variety of other job tasks are required to work in the immediate vicinity of heavy and often dangerous traffic. Whether it's a side road in a suburban area or a busy interstate highway during rush hour, the hazards of the job are greatly magnified when working near moving vehicles.
     
    Many companies offer safety training for those working in close proximity to moving traffic, but in most cases you're just required to wear your high visibility safety gear and told to "look out for traffic". Of course both mobile and stationary barriers are often used to separate work sites from the highway, but this isn't always the case. Sometimes workers have little to no real protection from fast moving vehicle traffic, leaving a good operation of their safety up to the motorists themselves.
     
    To reduce the chances of an accident, injury or death when working in heavy traffic, it's important to practice the following:
     
    Be aware of your surroundings: Know what's in front of you and behind you at all times. When working in close proximity to moving traffic, always be aware of which direction the traffic is heading, how much buffer space exists between you and the road, and what type of barriers are used. Don't forget that large trucks, mobile homes, tractor trailers take up more space and often make a closer approach to your workspace than normal passenger vehicles. Always be sure that hoses, ropes, power cords and similar objects are far enough from the roadway as to not be sucked in by wind or the draft of passing vehicles.
     
    Expect the Unexpected: A lot of the time, you only have so much control over your safety. The rest of it is up to the passing motorists. This is the reason that work zones have reduced speed limits which reduce the chances of high-speed accidents. At any given moment, a driver who may not be paying attention could veer or the roadway heading in your direction. Also, rising/setting sun, fog, and low-visibility caused by bad weather or night time conditions can further hamper motorist's ability to see. Likewise, tires can blow out and parts can fall from vehicles or tractor trailers, acting as deadly projectiles that can easily cause bodily harm or death.
     
    Go Prepared: Always be sure you're wearing the proper ANSI compliant high visibility garments. One great idea for working in or around traffic is to use a breakaway safety vest. These safety vests utilize velcro-style breakaway points which will easily rip apart with enough force. If your breakaway vest or jacket is caught on a passing vehicle, the garment will separate instead of dragging you along with it. In either case, wear as much reflective apparel as possible to ensure motorists can see you. Safety glasses should also be worn in close proximity to traffic because debris such as sand and rocks can quickly become airborne and present a hazard.
     
    The US Department of Labor's Occupational Safety & Health Administration has an abundance of information in regards to highway, work zone, and traffic-related safety. You can visit their website HERE to learn more about highway safety. You can also view their Workzone Hazards Awareness resources to learn more tips on working safely in area with vehicle traffic.

  • FWHA Says Newly Revised ANSI/ISEA 2015 Meets MUTCD High Visibility Garment Requirements

    MUTCD ANSI 107 complianceThe Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) has announced on June 1st that all high-visibility safety garments that are compliant with the newly revised American National Standard for High-Visibility Safety Apparel and Accessories (ANSI/ISEA 107-2015), will also be considered compliant with the 2009 MUTCD Manual (manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices).
     
    The MUTCD currently requires that anyone working on the highway, all flaggers and crossing guards must utilize safety apparel that adheres to ANSI Class 2 or 3 (ANSI/ISEA 107) standards - and that Police officers, fire fighters and other emergency responders who might be exposed to highway traffic are required to wear ANSI/ISEA 207 compliant garments.
     
    Due to the recent changes in late 2015 of the ANSI/ISEA 107 standard - which addresses specific differences between ANSI 107 and 207 - any high-visibility safety garments which meet or exceed the newly revised ANSI/ISEA 107 will now also satisfy the requirements of MUTCD mandates.

  • 4 Summer Workplace Safety Tips for Keeping Cool on the Job

    workplace safety tips for keeping coolJune is just around the corner, and temperatures are beginning to heat up. Before you know it, we'll be in the dog days of summer with a great tan and long hours of daylight. While the summer is a beautiful and productive time for working outdoors, it can also be dangerous on extremely hot days. The best thing to do is to go to work prepared and understand your limits for exertion. Below are some tips to help you keep cool, avoid heat stroke, and maintain comfort throughout the day.
     

    Dress Accordingly

    While this may seem like a no-brainer, it's not always so simple. If we took a survey of road workers, we're pretty sure that most of them would absolutely love to show up to work with a t-shirt and shorts. However, due to their work environment (i.e. heavy equipment, rough terrain, hot asphalt and an array of grinding and cutting equipment) it's not safe or realistic to do so. The best option is to purchase proper garments that provide the necessary level of safety while helping to reduce heat build-up. Mesh safety shirts (instead of safety vests worn over a shirt), moisture-wicking headwear or specialty cooling gear such as the EZ-Cool Phase Change Cooling Vest will make your life much, much easier. Avoid dark colors, unnecessary layers and fabrics that don't breathe well. If you can't avoid light clothing due to heavy protective gear, you'll definitely need to invest in some sort of cooling technology. While it might be expensive, it's worth the price to avoid health issues and maintain a comfortable undergarment environment.
     

    Pace Yourself

    It's easy for the body to heat up rapidly under extreme temperatures, sometimes to the point where we cannot cool ourselves quick enough. Be wary of overexertion and know your personal limits. Even the most physically fit can suffer sudden heat-related issues with little to no warning under the right circumstance. You might find that you're blood is pumping heavily, your heart is beating rapidly and you're breathing heavily - which is fine under normal environments. But couple those with temperatures in the upper 90s or higher and it's a recipe for disaster. Sometimes, we can't perspire quick enough or lack sufficient fluids to maintain our pace and before we know it we find ourselves overwhelmed and in danger of heat stroke. It's best to rest as needed and refrain from pushing yourself in extreme temperatures.
     

    Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate

    Did we mention that you should hydrate? We actually can't say this enough. While you probably start your day with a cup of coffee, you'd be smart to follow it with a sufficient amount of water. Starting out your day without proper hydration can be a recipe for disaster halfway through the day. By the time you begin to sweat heavily, there won't be enough water in your system to maintain proper cooling. Even if you begin to over hydrate, you won't be able to replenish yourself to the proper level without some sort of bloating, fatigue, or increased body temperature. Be sure to have plenty of hydrating fluids available on the job and sip it regularly. One great idea is to freeze a gallon bottle of water in your freezer overnight and take it with you to work. As long as it's kept protected from the sun, you'll have ice cold water for hours on end. Another option is to invest in a hydration system such as the Ergodyne Low Profile Hydration Pack. Water makes up a large part of our bodies and it's crucial to keep proper levels.
     

    Rest as Needed and Seek Shade

    When it's 100+ degrees, there's really no safe way to work outside. If you're not presenting yourself to the risk of sunburn, surely you're exposing yourself to temperatures where the human body has a tough time performing at it's best. In combination with setting a proper pace, it's highly important to rest at specific intervals. If you're digging holes in direct sunlight, set yourself to a 3 hole maximum before seeking a short break. Of course, this will depend on the the size of the holes, but we're just trying to give a basic example. When resting, locking your fingers above your head creates minor expansion in the lungs, allowing you to process as much air as possible. This can help you cool at a quicker rate. While it's difficult to give perfect examples because of different tasks, different environments and varying degrees of exertion required on a given job, it's safe to say that you need to listen to your body. If you're heating up or if you need to catch your breath, than take a break and hydrate until your body says you're okay to continue. If the job site is large with very little or no cover from the sun, consider utilizing a portable shade tent for a break & hydration area.
     
    There you have it! Dress accordingly, stay hydrated, pace yourself and break regularly. You might want to organize a specific plan with your boss, employees or co-workers for handling the extreme heat. Nobody wants to suffer from heat stress or encounter heat stroke. The best kind of worker is a productive worker and while the heat makes it difficult, there are several ways to organize and optimize for productivity during extremely hot weather.

  • Developing a Workplace Safety Plan

    workplace safety planWorkplace safety is an ongoing commitment. It requires not only concern for yourself, your co-workers or your employees, but the ability to identify and rectify safety hazards in your work environment before they pose a threat, or, before they cause an accident or injury.
     
    If you don't have a workplace safety plan in place, it's important that you develop one as soon as possible. It's going to take some time and dedication, but it's going to help ensure the safety and well being of all who participate. While it might not seem like the most important thing on your to-do list, there's never a better time than now. Assuming that you and/or your employees are trained or that they know how to protect themselves is a misconception that can cause injury, and even a life. Workplace safety isn't only about understanding how to work safely, it's also about noticing warning signs, the proper maintenance of equipment & machinery, and being able to identify potential hazards before they become hazardous.
     
    You're going to need to take some time to ask yourself some serious questions, take a look at your work habits, your work environment and the common work habits of yourself and others in order to properly prepare for the implementation of a safety plan.
     
    Below we will provide a few steps to help get you started on the path to a safer, more productive workplace.
     

    Identify Safety Hazards

    Identifying safety hazards is one of the first and most crucial steps to creating a safety plan. You will need to be honest and thorough in your approach, affording attention to your work habits, the habits of others, the quality and condition of tools, equipment, machinery, power & energy systems and the potential for the unlikely to become a reality.
     

    Ask Yourself "What If"

    Tying in with the identification of safety hazards is the ability to ask yourself "what if". What if that 30 foot shelving unit collapses due to being overloaded with weight? Does it have the possibility to hurt someone? Is their equipment within the vicinity where people are normally stationed to complete tasks? If the unit collapsed and landed on another piece of equipment, what is the potential for a chain reaction or what could the worst case scenario be? When was the last time that the shelving unit was check for sturdiness and cracks? These are the questions that need to be asked in each and every aspect of the job. From the safety of simple tasks to complex projects, what is the worse case scenario, and how can you reduce the chance of it occurring?
     

    Get Input From Others

    Creating a workplace safety plan isn't a one-man job. Often there are several aspects of a job requiring different skills, the use of specialized tools and equipment or the need for multiple persons to complete a single task. It's important to involve everyone, and ask them to help by completing the steps above in identifying existing hazards or possible situations that could occur within their range of work. Each person should help by identifying what they think is most crucial to the safety of their respective tasks, and what the worse case scenario would be in regards to their typical job duties. These should then be discussed and addressed to ensure an understanding on how to deal with and prevent these hazards.
     

    Don't Rush It

    While it might seem that creating a workplace safety plan is time consuming and takes away from productivity, just imagine how much productivity is lost when there's a major accident or injury on the job. Entice workers to participate by giving them a pen & paper, asking them to take their time and spend a few hours talking with one another to identify both group and personal safety risks pertaining to their workplace. Ask them to write down everything they see wrong. Buy some pizzas and make an afternoon out of it. Encourage them to be thorough and account for even the most unlikely situations and then consider if they're prepared should that situation occur. If so, ask them to explain why they're prepared and if not, ask the same. This information is highly valuable in creating an all-encompassing, effective plan that includes all the potential safety hazards. Rushing through it will only defeat the purpose.
     

    Address The Problem Areas

    Once all of the potential risks have been identified, you'll need to create an efficient and effective method of hazard resolution. This could vary greatly from environment to environment. The largest threats to safety should be addressed first, and the rest should follow. Be sure to include the group for ideas of resolution just as the group was included to help identify the risks. Aside from resolution, discuss how the issue can be completely prevented in the future so there is no need for resolution. Often this can be done through proper maintenance, awareness, and preventative action. Make it a goal to prevent not just accidents, but hazards as well. Surely all hazards cannot be prevented, but they can all be addressed and minimalized by taking the proper measures and actions.
     

    Implement Safety

    It might take a bit of time to completely identify all the risks and to create a plan for preventing accidents and injury, but that's all part of the process. Once you're ready, you'll need to compile everything into some sort of layout. A workbook, a printed packet or a powerpoint presentation with supporting papers are all popular ways to help educate and ensure everyone is on the same page. Present the rules, the routines for safety prevention and maintenance, and the supporting information for how to deal with an emergency situation, including emergency contacts and/or procedures.
     
    There are plenty of resources online to create a workplace safety plan. You can find safety checklists for specific industries, as well as information for pre-project safety and accident prevention. The OSHA website is one of the best resources, with a plethora of information available that covers nearly every occupation imaginable. There are also other resources, including both free and paid services that have decades of experience in offering custom workplace safety outlines such as BLR - and you can visit their website's safety information page here.
     
    We hope that after reading this you have the motivation and understanding to implement a workplace safety plan - no matter how simple or complex - to help maintain a safer, smarter workplace.

  • How To Treat Heat Stroke In An Emergency Situation

    With Summer just around the corner, you can expect to be working in some serious heat in the coming months. While it can get quite uncomfortable, it can also get quite dangerous if you're not careful - meaning you run the risk of heat stress, heat exhaustion and even heat stroke. Below is a short and informative video on how to temporarily treat a heat stroke victim until emergency medical assistance arrives. This just might help you save a coworker's life, and even if you already know how to treat heat stroke, it's still a good time to review it and share it with others who will be working outside. Stay safe out there!
     

  • A Unique Look At The Real Importance Of PPE

    It's quite likely that you've been told the importance of using personal protection equipment (PPE) on the job. You've watched the videos, you've seen the safety posters and you've heard the horror stories. It doesn't matter whether you work in a low-risk or high-risk environment, PPE can save your limbs and even your life.
     
    In this video, we're going to take a look at a very unique (and effective) approach to explaining the importance of utilizing the proper PPE. There's no boring statistics, no endless rambling and no sales pitch - just some creative examples of PPE use that everyone should be able to relate to. Enjoy!
     

  • OSHA Quick Cards: A Safe Reminder

    osha-quick-cardsA reminder is never a bad thing, especially when it comes to safety. In the workplace, there are plenty of potential dangers and hazards that can present themselves at any given moment. One of the best ways to avoid workplace injury is to be educated on your surroundings, equipment and materials. This allows you to recognize, become familiar with and identify dangers - often before they become a serious problem or cause injury or death.

    In attempt to reduce the occurrence of workplace injuries, OSHA has created a complete lineup of 'Quick Cards'. Chances are you're familiar with these little reminders and you might even have a few (or many). In wither case, we've presented a short list of some of the most common OSHA Quick Cards. The links go directly to the respective quick card which is downloadable in .pdf format for quick & easy printing.

    Check out the list, pass it around and share it with co-workers or others who can benefit from it. Additionally, feel free to print some out for yourself, your employees or your co-workers. It's always better to be safe than sorry. Even if you toss them on a dashboard, toolbox or inside a locker, they're still around as a constant reminder. They're easy to print, sized for convenience and could save your (or someone else's) life.

    If you're looking for a more complete list, you can view all the OSHA Quick Cards by visiting www.OSHA.gov today.

    List of Common OSHA Quick Cards

    • Aerial Lifts Quick Card: English | Spanish
    • Animal Handlers/Avian Flu Quick Card: English
    • Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Quick Card: English | Spanish
    • Chain Saw Safety Quick Card: English | Spanish
    • Chipper Machine Quick Card: English | Spanish
    • Construction Hazards Quick Card (top four): English
    • Construction PPE Quick Card: English | Spanish
    • Demolition Safety Quick Card: English | Spanish
    • Electrical Safety Quick Card: English | Spanish
    • Fall Protection Quick Card: English | Spanish
    • General Decontamination Quick Card: English | Spanish
    • Hand Hygiene Quick Card: English | Spanish
    • Heat Stress Quick Card: English
    • Hydrogen Sulfide Quick Card: English | Spanish
    • Lead in Construction Quick Card: English | Spanish
    • Motor Vehicle Safe Driving Quick Card: English
    • Permit Required Confined Spaces Quick Card: English
    • Pest Control Quick Card: English
    • Portable generator Safety Quick Card: English | Spanish
    • Rescuers of Animals Quick Card: English & Spanish
    • Respirators Quick Card: English | Spanish
    • Rodents, Snakes & Insects Quick Card: English | Spanish
    • Tree Trimming & Removal Quick Card: English | Spanish
    • West Nile Virus Quick Card: English | Spanish
    • Working Safely in Trenches Quick Card: English | Spanish
    • Work Zone Traffic Safety Quick Card: English | Spanish

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