Take 5 For Safety – Safety When You’re Working Alone

Safety When You’re Working Alone

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Working alone is not the best situation, but sometimes it is necessary. In occupations as diverse as home care nurse, security guard, property manager, bulk plant attendant, taxi driver, custodian, logger, ranch hand, retail clerk and oil field mechanic, the worker sometimes spends a solitary shift.

Doing a job alone can be more hazardous than doing the same job in company of others. If a worker is injured, ill or trapped, there is no one nearby to help or call for assistance. Lone workers are also more vulnerable to crime such as robbery or assault. Workers alone in the wild country are more vulnerable to animal predators.

Working alone means working where you cannot be seen or heard by another person and where you cannot expect a visit from another person.

The risk of working alone depends on circumstances including the location, whether the work itself is risky and involvement with the public. Workers who handle money, work away from the regular work site or work alone with patients or clients face particular hazards. So do those who work at heights or in confined spaces such as silos, work with electricity, hazardous substances, dangerous equipment or with the public where there is the possibility of violence.

Consider these tips for greater safety when working alone:
* Talk to your boss and colleagues about your job, the hazards and how to minimize them.
* See if work can be rescheduled so you do not have to work alone.
* Set up a check-in system by which you call or page someone at regular intervals so they will know you are okay. Agree on a tracking method to be used if you are overdue.
* Carry a personal alarm, cell phone or two-way radio. Manage the batteries so you will always be able to get through.
* Use a buddy system, taking another worker with you into higher risk situations.
* File a travel plan when you drive somewhere alone. Keep vehicles well-maintained to avoid breakdowns. Stock an emergency survival kit in the vehicle.
* When visiting a possibly intimidating client, take a taxi and have the driver wait outside.
* Handling cash or other valuables puts you at risk for violent robbery. Have your employer take steps to reduce the amount of cash on hand to lower the incentive for robbers.
* Have your work area arranged for maximum visibility from windows. Get training in how to avoid and handle a robbery, and learn to use the security system.

Some people enjoy working alone and choose solitary jobs on purpose. An injury or a violent encounter can take the fun out of your work, so be prepared to work as safely as possible when you work alone.


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Take 5 For Safety – Safety Tips for Hot Work

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Safety Tips for Hot Work

When you weld, cut or grind, the potential for accidents is significant. Eyes and skin can be burned, hearing can be damaged and an electric shock can kill you. Among the hot metal, sparks and flying chips, are compressed gases stored in high-pressure cylinders. Even the fumes and gases produced during the welding process can damage your respiratory system or cause asphyxiation.

It’s crucial to be cautious. Wear your personal protective equipment (PPE), maintain a safe workplace and follow safety rules.

Your PPE should include:
* Eye protection to shield against sparks, molten metal and welder’s flash
* Hearing protection
* Clothing made of heat-resistant materials, such as an apron made of leather
* Safety boots
* Gloves made of leather or other flameproof fabric
* Respiratory protection to protect against toxic chemicals and gases. Before you use a respirator, get proper training and have it properly fitted.

Wearing the right PPE is just the first step. You must also keep your work area safe and follow these safety rules:
* Try to weld only in well-ventilated areas.
* Work in confined spaces only if they’ve been atmosphere-tested. Follow all other confined space procedures.
* Do not weld, cut or grind near flammable or combustible materials, liquids, vapors and dusts.
* Have the appropriate fire extinguisher close by.
* Use only approved equipment in good condition and follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
* Inspect equipment for loose connections, bare wires or cables before operating. Make sure the machinery is properly grounded.
* Handle compressed gas cylinders safely, following proper use and storage procedures.
* Keep aisles and stairways clear of cables and equipment.
* Keep other people a safe distance from welding and cutting operations.
* Learn first aid techniques for burns, poison inhalation, shock and eye injuries.
* Know where the safety showers and eyewash stations are and how to use them.

You should also watch for symptoms of metal fume fever, caused by breathing fumes formed while welding. Symptoms may include a metallic taste in the mouth, dry nose and throat, weakness, fatigue, joint and muscle pain, fever, chills and nausea. Notify your supervisor immediately if you experience any of these symptoms.


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Take 5 For Safety – Safety in the Absence of Unreasonable Risk

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Safety in the Absence of Unreasonable Risk

Safety is the absence of unreasonable risk. While this is one of the best definitions of “safety” out there, “safety” is actually an outcome or result. The statement might better be: “Safety is an outcome of the absence unreasonable risk”. Regardless of how you state it the focus on keeping workers safe and healthy has greater financial and reputational incentives than ever before.

The irony of this focus is that in spite of companies supplying better PPE, writing better safe work procedures, and focusing on emergency preparation, injuries and even fatalities continue. In fact, workplace fatalities have been increasing and tend to increase in step with how busy the economy is. It is the increase of unsafe acts that is driving these statistics.

Unsafe acts account for 80 to 90 per cent of all injuries. To be fair, many unsafe acts take place because a worker is new and does not know better. Essentially this is an unsafe condition because a company is required by law to inform and train workers about the hazards of their job. We know better in our shops.

Most injuries here that are the result of an unsafe act, the worker knows better. Usually, someone is taking a short cut because they think this is saving time. This calculation is always flawed. If you rationally step back and look at the situation, you quickly see that you never save time taking so called short cuts. A classic example is jumping down from about one meter (39 inches for the metrically impaired). You can jump down without injury quite a number of times. However, if you do not see the wet spot on the floor that is extremely slippery, if you slip just before you jump, if someone placed something on your landing spot, you can sustain a significant injury. For the sake of argument, say you tweaked your ankle and had to do Modified Duties for a week. How many thousand times do you have to jump down one meter instead of sitting down and swinging your legs over the side? And what if you had injured yourself more severely? What if you broke your back and ended your
working career?

There is no short cut that is worthwhile. There are set ways of doing things that are proven over time (our work procedures). If you think that what you are doing might be risky, it probably is. It pays to stop several times a day and give yourself that four second check to see what hazards there might be around you. You might find an easier and safer way to move something. You might discover that conditions have changed. In the end, the vast majority of unreasonable risk is from our own risk taking. If we truly think about what we are doing, we are less likely to sustain an injury.


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Take 5 For Safety – Safety at Home

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Safety at Home

It’s quite natural to think of your home as the safest place you can be. After all, that is where you escape the cares of the world and the pressures of work. However, many serious accidents happen at home. Painful injuries, permanent disability and even death can be the result of home accidents. Falls and fires are particular dangers at home.

Fortunately, there is much you can do to improve the safety in your home. Start by following this home safety checklist:
* Is lighting adequate in all traffic areas, including sidewalks, entrance areas, basements and stairways?
* Are traffic areas free of clutter?
* Are stairways clear, with no items stored on them, even temporarily?
* Are there sturdy railings on all stairways, even in the basement and outdoors?
* Are stairs, steps and floors in good condition and free of tripping hazards such as torn carpet and loose tiles? Is there a non-slip surface on the floor of the shower and bathtub?
* Is your home protected by these safety devices: Smoke detectors, fire extinguishers, carbon monoxide detectors, Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters on electrical outlets in the bathroom and basement?
* Is all wiring in good condition? Is wiring adequate for the electrical appliances used in the house, including computer equipment?
* Are extension cords used only temporarily? Are they kept out of traffic areas?
* Are chimneys for woodburning stoves and fireplaces cleaned yearly?
* Are any flammable liquids such as gasoline and paint thinner stored in approved covered containers, in well ventilated areas? Are they kept far away from sources of ignition, such as cigarettes and pilot lights?
* Are drawers and cabinet doors closed immediately after use to prevent tripping accidents and head injuries?
* Are the handles of pots and pans always turned toward the center of the stove, not the edge of the stove where they can be reached by children or accidentally contacted by someone passing by?
* Are knives stored safely in a knife holder or other device so someone will not accidentally touch the blade?
* Are glass doors marked at eye level to prevent someone from accidentally walking into them?
* Is the house safe for children, even if they only visit occasionally? Are all medicines and cleaning materials stored well out of reach of children? Are stairways barricaded so youngsters cannot fall down them? Are electrical outlets covered by child-proof plugs?
* Are emergency numbers posted at each telephone? Is the house address and telephone number posted there as well?
* Do you hold regular family fire drills? Does each member of the family know how to escape from his or her bedroom and where to meet outside?

If you find hazards while you are inspecting your home, correct them now. If they require expert help, such as rewiring by an electrician, arrange to have the work done. Then make a regular safety review part of your family’s routine!


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Take 5 For Safety – Portable Electric Generator Safety

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Portable Electric Generator Safety

With weather having an impact on electrical service in many parts of our nation, some people are turning to portable electric generators as a source of temporary electricity for their homes. This seeming convenience though, could itself be the source of disaster.

If not properly installed and operated, a portable generator can become a deadly device that kills via electric shock or carbon monoxide fumes. Using a generator indoors can kill you in minutes!

If a portable electric generator is connected to the main electrical supply coming into the house, the electrical generator could feed back into the electric supplier’s system and electrocute workers who are repairing the electrical lines. To avoid back-feeding of electricity into utility systems, a homeowner must have a qualified, licensed electrician install a double-pole, double-throw transfer switch between the generator and utility power in compliance with all state and local electrical codes. (A minimum of 10-gauge wiring must be used.) In addition to protecting linemen by ensuring proper wiring, a homeowner should carefully calculate wattage requirements to prevent overloading and damage to appliances and the generator.

Carbon Monoxide Hazards
* Never use a generator in enclosed or partially-enclosed spaces. Generators can produce high levels of carbon monoxide very quickly. When you use a portable generator, remember that you cannot smell or see carbon monoxide. Even if you can’t smell exhaust fumes, you may still be exposed to it.
* Never operate your generator in an enclosed or partially enclosed space such as a patio, shed or garage; and when in use, place it far, far away from any structure housing people or pets.
* Most of the serious carbon monoxide poisonings have been caused by generator exhaust fumes drifting into doors, windows, vents and crawl spaces.
* If you start to feel sick, dizzy, or weak while using a generator, get to fresh air right away. Do not delay. The carbon monoxide from generators can rapidly lead to full incapacitation and death.
* If you experience serious symptoms, get medical attention immediately. Inform medical staff that carbon monoxide poisoning is suspected. If you experienced symptoms while indoors, have someone call the fire department to determine when it is safe to re-enter the building.

Follow these safety tips to protect against carbon monoxide poisoning:
* Never use a generator indoors, including in homes, garages, basements, crawl spaces, and other enclosed or partially-enclosed areas, even with ventilation. Opening doors and windows or using fans will not prevent carbon monoxide build-up in the home.
* Follow the instructions that come with your generator. Locate the unit outdoors and away from doors, windows, and vents that could allow carbon monoxide to come indoors.
* Install battery-operated carbon monoxide alarms or plug-in carbon monoxide alarms with battery back-up in your home, according to the manufacturer’s installation instructions. The carbon monoxide alarms should be certified to the requirements of the latest safety standards for carbon monoxide alarms (UL 2034, IAS 6-96, or CSA 6.19.01).
* Test your carbon monoxide alarms frequently and replace dead batteries.

Electrical Hazards

Follow these tips to protect against shock and electrocution:
* Keep the generator dry and do not use in rain or wet conditions. To protect from moisture, operate it on a dry surface under an open, canopy-like structure. Make sure your hands are dry before touching the generator.
* Plug appliances directly into the generator. Or, use a heavy duty, outdoor-rated extension cord that is rated (in watts or amps) at least equal to the sum of the connected appliance loads. Check that the entire cord is free of cuts or tears and that the plug has all three prongs, especially a grounding pin.
* Never try to power the house wiring by plugging the generator into a wall outlet, a practice known as “backfeeding.” This is an extremely dangerous practice that presents an electrocution risk to utility workers and neighbors served by the same utility transformer. It also bypasses some of the built-in household circuit protection devices.
* If you must connect the generator to the house wiring to power appliances, have a qualified electrician install the appropriate equipment in accordance with local electrical codes. Or, check with your utility company to see if it can install an appropriate power transfer switch.
* For power outages, permanently installed stationary generators are better suited for providing backup power to the home. Even a properly connected portable generator can become overloaded. This may result in overheating or stressing the generator components, possibly leading to a generator failure.

Fire Hazards
* Never store fuel for your generator in the home. Gasoline, propane, kerosene, and other flammable liquids should be stored outside of living areas in properly-labeled, non-glass safety containers.
* Do not store them near a fuel-burning appliance, such as a natural gas water heater in a garage. If the fuel is spilled or the container is not sealed properly, invisible vapors from the fuel can travel along the ground and can be ignited by the appliance’s pilot light or by arcs from electric switches in the appliance.
* Before refueling the generator, turn it off and let it cool down. Gasoline spilled on hot engine parts could ignite.


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Take 5 For Safety – New Employees

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New Employees

Working safely is a team effort. You look out for other workers and they look out for you. Taking responsibility for others is especially important when it comes to new and young workers. They need you to keep an eye on them and remind them how to work safely.

Think about your workplace from the new worker’s point of view for a moment. Remember your own first day on the job. You’ll see a busy place full of strange equipment, unfamiliar chemicals and complicated tasks. Everyone else seems to know what they are doing. More than anything, you just want to fit in with the rest of the crew and look like you know what you are doing.

Help the new worker settle in safely by following these points:
* Show them where to obtain safety materials and instructions at your machine.
* Help the new worker get equipped, fitted and trained with the appropriate protective clothing and equipment for the task at hand
* Show your new co-worker the labels for any chemicals you are dealing with. Help them understand how to read them and what PPE is necessary to work with them.
* Point out the location of fire extinguishers, alarm boxes and other emergency equipment.
* Make sure the new worker knows what to do in case of an emergency such as a fire. Does he or she know two exits from the workplace, and where to assemble outside
* Communicate the importance of leaving machine guards in place to prevent accidental contact with moving equipment and stock.
* If you see anyone wearing loose clothing which could become caught in machinery, speak up.
* Make sure the new employee knows who to talk to about any safety concerns or questions.
* If you see the new person or any worker doing something unsafe, speak up. It’s not interfering; it’s looking out for the other worker.

Your advice to the new co-worker is not a replacement for proper safety orientation, training and supervision. However, you can help make sure he or she picks up the information necessary to work safely.


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Take 5 For Safety – Near Miss Reporting

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Near Miss Reporting

Whether there is no injury, a small bruise or scratch, or an amputation, the consequences of unsafe acts and conditions are left to chance. A ratio showing a relationship between the number of near-miss incidents and injury incidents reported by researchers shows that for every 15 near-miss incidents, there will be one injury. In other words, there are 15 missed opportunities to prevent an injury.

Hundreds of near misses go unreported each month at our facility. Many of you may not think of an incident as a near miss, but it is more often human nature that keeps these lessons from being reported and improving the safety system. Reasons employees don’t report near misses include:

– They do not want to be blamed for problems or mistakes;
– They do not want to create more work;
– They do not want to be perceived as a troublemaker or careless.

It takes time to report a near miss and there are several reasons people don’t do it. However, it is truly important you report them. If not, what is lost is a free lesson in injury prevention. The few minutes spent reporting and investigating near-miss incidents can help prevent similar incidents, and even severe injuries. The difference between a near miss and an injury is typically a fraction of an inch or a split second.


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Take 5 For Safety – Machine Guards

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Machine Guards

We’ve all had the experience of doing what we thought was a favor for someone, only to have it rejected or unappreciated. I suppose if machine guards were human they would experience this type of frustration frequently. While the basic motive for guarding is to protect, not prohibit, guards are often looked upon by employees as obstacles. However, guards wherever they are and whatever they are . . . are placed for protection.

Specifically, machine guards are used to protect against direct contact with moving parts. There are also guards designed to protect against flying chips, kickbacks and splashing of metal or harmful liquids.

Another area involves guards against human failures. You can understand why this demands a lot from any type of guard, in as much as the scope of human failure is much broader than the protection of a guarding device.

However, guards are engineered to give as much protection as possible, even to machine operators who deliberately take chances or who are distracted or emotionally upset on the job.

While guards may often appear to be a hindrance, overall they have proven to be otherwise. They’ve made large contributions to both security and production. Greater machine speeds have been made possible through proper guarding and certainly the conscientious employee works with greater confidence knowing that a machine offers maximum protection.

Two types of guards are used to protect machine operators and probably most of you have been involved with one or the other. These are fixed guards and interlocking and gate guards. Fixed guards are most commonly used and are preferred over others, the obvious reason being that the fixed guards protect you from dangerous parts of machines at all times. Fixed guards may only be adjusted by authorized persons.

Interlocking guards are used if a fixed guard is not practical. This type will not allow the machine to operate until dangerous parts are guarded. The interlocking guard is designed to disconnect the source of power from the machine. Safety devices such as pullbacks, sweeps and electronic devices are used where neither a fixed nor interlocking guard can be used satisfactorily.

Safety devices are operated by the machine itself. When this type of guard is used on a machine that is loaded and unloaded by hand, the operator must use hand tools.

As I pointed out earlier, no guard can do the job without the cooperation of the person operating the machine. When a new employee starts work, we attempt to explain the job thoroughly. This indoctrination includes calling attention to guarding devices. After that, if there are any questions concerning guards or any other part of the job, the answers should be sought from the supervisor. But again it should be noted that the employee’s attitude toward safety is important.

It is important that everyone working with or around machinery understands the generally accepted safe procedures for this type of work. No guard shall be adjusted or removed unless permission is given by the supervisor, or the employee concerned is specifically trained and the adjustment is considered a normal part of the job.

In addition, no machine should be started without guards in place. If you see that guards are missing or defective, report it to your supervisor immediately. When guards or safety devices are removed for repair or adjustment, the power for the machine should be turned off and the main switch locked and tagged.

A final point concerns safe dress. Loose clothing, neckties, watches, rings or other jewelry should not be worn around mechanical equipment. In fact, as most of you already know, these items of apparel are considered dangerous on many jobs.

Everyone wants to work in safety. To do this, you must have a mature respect for machinery and for safeguards. They both will do this job for you if you let them.


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Take 5 For Safety – Manually Handling Materials

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Manually Handling Materials

The best way to handle boxes and cartons is to grasp the opposite top and bottom corners and draw a corner between your legs before lifting. Long pieces of pipe, bar stock or lumber should be carried over a padded shoulder with front end held high to avoid hitting other employees. Special caution should be used at corners.

There are several areas in material handling that require considerable skill – the rolling of heavy round objects and the handling of heavy barrels and drums. Special training and devices should be used before attempting to handle these tough items manually.

Needless to say, you’ve probably already encountered your share of slivers, loose hardware or anything else that could cause injuries. Again, good work gloves are helpful.

Regular inspection of tools and equipment is important. A dull or faulty tool can cause an injury to you and a cracked handle could mean an injury for you or your neighbor. So, be sure to report damaged equipment.

We can’t mention too often the importance of using the right tool for the job. Don’t attempt to use your fingers as a pry, a wrench for a hammer, or a screwdriver for a chisel; you’ll just be inviting a painful injury.

Handling of materials does not necessarily mean we have to become engaged in hand-to-hand combat with them, but the results may be the same if we don’t use all available protection and precautions.

You don’t have to be involved in manual material handling very long to discover there’s a hard way and an easy way to do things. And maybe you’ve also discovered that the easy way isn’t always the safe way. Skinned knuckles or pinched fingers are instant reminders that something wasn’t done correctly. So for a few moments let’s review some of the precautions to protect ourselves while handling materials.

First, considerable hand protection can be gained by wearing work gloves. They can prevent many cuts and scratches and many types also give a better grip. Most work gloves are ventilated for the comfort of the wearer, so there’s no qood excuse for not wearing them when the occasion calls for them.

Conservation of space is important but sometimes we tend to pile things too close to a wall or column. Proper clearance at the top and on all sides of piles is necessary for safety. When material is piled, it should be in stacks that will stand steady. Sometimes this means that the materials must be criss-crossed or interleaved with corrugated board. Objects that roll should be chocked. When a pile falls, serious injury and damage can result. Piling too high, or in a manner that will interfere with lighting or circulation of air, should be avoided.

Don’t be afraid of putting the cleaning crew out of a job by picking up things that you drop on the floor. Tripping and slipping hazards could put both you and the cleaners out of work for a long time. Keep tools and other articles in the right bin or drum and wipe up spills right away.

Injuries resulting from lifting are a continual problem both on and off the job. Most of us know we should crouch close to the load and then use leg muscles to lift. However, after the lift has been made, it’s very important to turn correctly while carrying an object. Don’t twist your body. Turn by shifting your feet or with short steps. Before lifting, make sure there are no obstructions or slippery spots on the route you intend to travel. If it’s necessary for two or more workers to carry an object, they should both be about the same weight and one should be position to watch and coach the other en route.


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Take 5 For Safety – Loose Clothing Kills

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Loose Clothing Kills

DOS PALOS — A 20-year-old Dos Palos man died Wednesday after he was crushed by an industrial post-hole digger.

Martin Valencia was working on a farm around 11 a.m. in the 6300 block of Eucalyptus Avenue, near Dos Palos. Valencia and another man, who was operating the tractor, were digging holes. A spinning bolt on the drill caught his jacket and pulled him toward the shaft and into the hole. The machine crushed his body before it could be turned off. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

This tragic death shows us again, the importance of not wearing loose clothing around moving equipment. We have a hard enough time keeping track of the position of our body parts such as hands and arms when we are doing a task. Our clothing has no nerves and we are unable to “sense” where or when it gets in the danger zone.

The only approach to take is one of being proactive. You must ensure ahead of time that you aren’t wearing loose clothing. Ensure your shirt tail is tucked in, your sleeves are rolled up tightly or buttoned down, your jacket is zipped up and the end of your belt isn’t flapping around.

Take a look this morning and ensure you are indeed “ready to work”.


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