Take 5 For Safety – Grinders

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Grinders

Grinders use powered rotating attachments to work metal and other materials. Bench grinders are mounted to a bench or tabletop while pedestal grinders are mounted to the floor on a pedestal. With an abrasive, wire brush, or buffing wheel attachment, grinders sharpen tools and shape, clean, or polish metal pieces. Grinders can cause severe injuries to hands, fingers, eyes and face if they are not used correctly.

Don’t wear gloves that could get pulled into rotating grinder parts along with your fingers and hand. Remove jewelry from around your neck, fingers, and wrists. Wear close-fitting clothing that will not get entangled in the moving parts. Tie back or secure long hair under a cap so your hair doesn’t get entangled and pull your face into the grinder. Wear safety goggles and/or a face shield to prevent flying debris from cutting your face or getting lodged in your eye.

Check your grinder for safety before each use. It should be securely and permanently mounted to the bench or floor for stability. Don’t “C” clamp portable grinders to a bench. They need to be securely fastened to prevent vibration. The electric supply to the grinder should be properly grounded to prevent shocks. The grinder should have an individual on/off switch for the safest controls. If the grinder is not in good working order, do not use it.

Follow the manufacturer’s directions on proper wheel installation. Inspect the wheel and “ring” or “tap” test it to ensure that it is sound before you install it. Tighten nuts securely so the wheels don’t fall off while you are working. Allow a newly installed wheel to run before you use it to grind to ensure that it is sound. Use the correct wheel attachments for your grinder. Wheels should have an RPM rating that matches the RPM rating of the grinder motor. Use the correct type of wheel for the material you are grinding. Store wheels so that they are not subject to the environment or damage.

Guarding is extremely important for safe grinder operation. Side guards should cover the spindle, nut, flange and wheel. Use a work rest that is adjusted to within 1/8-inch of the wheel. Adjust the tongue guard to within ¼ inch of the topside of the wheel. When the grinder is off and completely stopped, adjust the work rest and tongue guard to maintain these distances. When you can no longer adjust the work rest or tongue guard to maintain proper clearance, replace the wheel.

Don’t start the grinder with your materials against the wheel; wait for the grinder to speed up and then apply the material. Place your material or item on the front face of the wheel, not the side. Keep your hands and fingers at least two inches away from the grinding surface. To avoid the risk of electric shock, dip tools and material into water to cool, don’t apply water to the wheel.

Periodically sweep around grinders to maintain good housekeeping. Ground metal pieces can be very slippery, so consider a slip-resistant floor mat or flooring surface coating around the grinding bench. For grinders that produce large amounts of dust, consider a dust collector, exhaust hood, and/or respiratory protection. For fire safety, don’t grind aluminum; use a belt sander. Avoid grinding magnesium because the dust can be extremely flammable.

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Take 5 For Safety – Gas Cylinder Safety

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Gas Cylinder Safety

Gas cylinders require special safety precautions. Know what the chemical is inside the cylinder in order to work with it safely. Be aware of the mechanical hazards associated with keeping the chemical under pressure in a metal cylinder.

Chemicals contained in gas cylinders may be flammable, corrosive, poisonous, inert, or a combination of any of these. Read the Safety Data Sheet (SDS) for the chemicals in each cylinder you store and use. Understand the concentration of the chemical, the amount, and the storage pressure to work with it safely.

The SDS should provide you information on proper storage and segregation of gas cylinders according to their contents. Make sure the cylinder is properly labeled with its contents. All gas lines and tubing should also be labeled with the contents. If needed, post warning signs around the work area such as “No Smoking” or “Explosive,” according to recommendations from the SDS.

Because gas cylinder chemicals are contained under pressure in a heavy, metal container, they can become bombs or rockets if they are knocked over or damaged. Inspect your cylinders frequently to ensure that the tubing, regulators, and valves are all seated and functioning properly. Monitor for leaks or damage to cylinders and their parts. If damaged, move to a safe spot and notify the manufacturer. Tag empty and damaged cylinders for easy identification.

Handle cylinders carefully. When you move them, make sure they are secured to the cart, dolly, or vehicle so that they do not accidentally fall over. Always disconnect pipes/tubing and install the cover cap before moving a cylinder. Use safety glasses when connecting and disconnecting compressed gas regulators and lines. Secure the cylinders in a vertical position when you install them to ensure that they do not get knocked over during use or due to seismic activity.

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Take 5 For Safety – Working Safely With Solvents

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Working Safely With Solvents

Solvents are so common in many work places that workers forget how dangerous they are. A solvent can be generally described as a substance, usually a liquid, that is used to dissolve another substance. Although solvents can be used safely, health problems can result from skin contact with solvents or from inhalation of their vapors. In addition to the health hazards, many solvent vapors are flammable and explosive.

One of the most common health hazards associated with exposure to solvents is dermatitis. Contact dermatitis can develop from a single or from multiple exposures. It can leave the skin susceptible to a short-term infection or to a chronic condition. Exposure can also result in sensitization to the solvent, which is a delayed allergic reaction that often becomes more severe with subsequent exposures.

One big danger with solvents is that they can cause trouble before you realize what’s happening. Depending on the type and concentration of the solvent, exposure effects can range from mild respiratory irritation to severe damage to body organs and systems. In extreme cases, overexposure to solvent vapors can cause respiratory failure and death.

When working with solvents, it’s important to know what solvents are being used and what steps should be taken to protect against harmful or dangerous exposures. To optimize safety follow these suggestions:
* Know what solvents you’re working with.
* Read the labels and the material safety data sheets of the solvents. They list the hazards, health effects, and safe handling procedures.
* Make sure the workspace is properly ventilated.
* Use recommended gloves, eye and face protection, boots, other protective clothing, or barrier creams as required.
* If respiratory equipment is used, make sure it gives appropriate protection for the exposure.
* Take care when pouring solvents from one container to another, as fire or explosions can occur from static electricity buildup.
* Clean up solvent spills promptly.
* Never wash your hands with solvents.
* Prohibit welding, cutting, soldering, and other sources of ignition in areas where solvents are used.
* Store flammable solvents in well-ventilated areas constructed of fire-resistant materials.
* Ground and bond all tanks and equipment for storage.
* Install readily accessible fire extinguishers in storage and work areas.

As with other toxic substances in the workplace, the preferred methods of hazard control are substitution of a less toxic substance in an operation, local exhaust ventilation, and enclosure.

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Take 5 For Safety – Fatique

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Fatigue

Sleep is an important factor in maintaining good health, well-being, memory, and the ability to think clearly. An adequate amount of sleep is defined as 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night. If you don’t get enough sleep due to work shifts, medical conditions, or other life factors, you could build up chronic sleep deprivation and fatigue.

Fatigue is a safety concern because it is associated with higher injury and accident rates in the workplace. Fatigue reduces your attention and reaction time, which can cause you to make errors in judgment leading to mistakes at work. In addition, fatigue lowers your overall well-being and increases the risks for many illnesses and diseases:
* Weight gain
* Obesity
* Type 2 diabetes
* High blood pressure
* Digestive disorders
* Heart disease

Fatigue can also lead to involuntary micro-sleeps, or brief periods of unconsciousness, that can last two to thirty seconds. These episodes can mimic the effects of being under the influence of alcohol. Eighteen hours without sleep is similar to the effects of a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.05, while 24 hours without sleep is similar to a BAC of 0.10. These effects can be especially dangerous when operating machinery or driving. As a reference, California laws define driving under the influence at a BAC of 0.08.

To prevent the risks of fatigue, know and watch for these symptoms:
* Tiredness
* Sleepiness
* Irritability
* Depression
* Giddiness
* Loss of appetite

Monitor your sleep schedule to see if you are getting adequate sleep. If you have days or nights where you don’t get enough sleep, determine what may be the cause and take preventive measures. Some factors include:
* Interrupted sleep patterns
* Sleep disorders
* Medical conditions
* Shift work
* Life demands
* Uncontrolled stress
* Poor sleep habits
* Alcohol or drug use

The best way to rest and control fatigue is to understand normal sleep patterns and cycles. Your body follows a natural circadian rhythm that is regulated by your brain and light levels. It prefers to sleep at night, but can be adjusted for shift work schedules with proper planning.

Your sleep is separated into four stages.
* Stage 1 is a light shallow sleep, which you can easily awaken from.
* Stage 2 is a deeper sleep, and you can easily be awakened.
* Stage 3 is a deep sleep that leaves you groggy and disoriented upon awakening.
* Stage 4, the final stage, is Rapid Eye Movement (REM). This is the stage of dreaming, processing emotions, and the healing of the body. REM sleep cycles occur about every 1.5 hours of sleep.

Plan your naps and sleep periods between and after shifts to take advantage of these different sleep stages. A short nap of 20 to 30 minutes can help you get a quick, refreshing sleep while staying in the early sleep stages (1 and 2). For sleep periods longer than 20-30 minutes aim for 1.5 hours, 3 hours or 4.5 hours for restorative REM sleep.

If you determine that you have sleep challenges, consider these methods in alleviating fatigue:
* Maintain your overall health and well-being with a balanced diet, and moderate exercise.
* Minimize or quit smoking and drinking.
* If taking medication, review your medications with your doctor to see if they disrupt sleep and if you can, take them at a scheduled time that will minimize the disruption of sleep.
* Protect your sleep with darkened rooms, cooler temperatures, and comfortable bedding.
* Postpone chores, place your phone on silent, and minimize sleep disruptions.
* Take a quick rest break during your work shift or before you commute home.
* Keep your work environment bright, cool, and vary your tasks to maintain your alertness.
* Seek medical attention for sleep disorders (e.g. sleep apnea) that can disrupt your sleep.

You can control sleep deprivation and fatigue to maintain your alertness and reaction times for a safe workplace. Medical treatment for sleep disorders, proper planning of sleep and work shifts, and good sleep hygiene ensure you get the rest you need.

Please note – some occupations such as the healthcare, trucking and/or airline industries may have hours of service limitations, so consult laws and best practices for your profession.

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Take 5 For Safety – Ergonomic Breaks, Rest Periods, and Stretches

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Ergonomic Breaks, Rest Periods, and Stretches

Ergonomic injury risk factors include forceful movements, repetitive motions, awkward postures, and lack of rest. Rest periods give the body time to recover from work; breaktime exercises and stretches strengthen the body. Workers should think of themselves as Industrial Athletes; athletes wouldn’t participate in a sport without proper rest and warm-up, so use the same preparation on the job.

Maintaining overall health reduces your risk of injury. Get a good night’s sleep to rest your body and maintain alertness. Eat healthy foods and drink fluids to boost energy and stay hydrated. Aerobic exercise and weight training increase strength and vitality. Stretching, yoga, and pilates improve flexibility and build core body strength.

Pay attention to signs of discomfort and fatigue on the job; these are warning signs from your body. As muscles tire during a work task, slouching can lead to poor posture, sloppy, uncontrolled movements, and injuries. Rest breaks mean recovery for the body. During a job task, take micro-breaks lasting 10-15 seconds every ten minutes. Take mini-breaks lasting 3-5 minutes every thirty to sixty minutes. These short breaks give the body a rest, reduce discomfort, and improve your performance.

Alternate your work activities and postures throughout the day. Rotating tasks may seem inefficient, but the rest and use of different muscle groups increases energy and maintains productivity. For example, if you are a landscaper, don’t trim all of the shrubs, sweep up the trimmings, and then leaf-blow the whole area; work in sections and trim, sweep, and leaf-blow in alternating tasks. If you work at a single workstation and job task all day, move into different postures while you work: first standing, then standing with one foot resting on a stool, then sitting.

Stretches help you warm-up before work and relax during breaks; they increase flexibility and boost blood flow and oxygen to muscles. Perform stretches slowly and gently; avoid extreme postures and stop stretching if you feel pain or discomfort. Physical and Occupational Therapists are the most qualified individuals to generate a specific stretching and warm-up program.

Overall fitness and flexibility, adequate sleep, task rotation, and rest breaks can help limit the overall risk of injury.

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Take 5 For Safety – Entering and Exiting Vehicles Safely

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Entering and Exiting Vehicles Safely

Truckers, delivery drivers, farmers, firemen, and workers that drive or ride in large commercial trucks and vans, farm equipment, and fire apparatus get injured when they enter and exit vehicles unsafely. Due to inattention, speed, and rushing in an emergency, workers slip and fall when they do not use vehicle steps and handhold devices. Jumps and falls cause ergonomic strains and sprains, broken bones, and fatalities.

If you work around large vehicles, wear shoes with sturdy, no-slip soles and a heel. Clean and maintain the vehicle steps; wet or oily “diamond plate” can be very slippery. Only climb on dedicated stepping areas; fuel tanks and fenders can be slippery. In hot and cold weather, wear gloves to help you grip hand railings.

When you enter a vehicle, face it. Take hold of the grab bar and use it to help you climb up. If a grab bar is not available, grip the seat or other fixed object in the vehicle. Don’t grab the steering wheel unless it is “locked;” it can turn suddenly and throw you off balance. Don’t grab the door or handle because it can swing out and cause you to fall. If grab bars are missing or improperly placed, add one or move it to a safer location.

Plan your steps into the vehicle so that you are standing on the same leg as the side that you are entering. To enter the left/driver’s side, stand on your left leg and lift your right leg up. You may need to change hand and feet positions while entering and exiting. Keep three points of contact with the vehicle at all times (one hand and two feet, or two hands and one foot). To avoid falling out backwards, maintain the three point rule until you are securely seated or firmly on the ground.

To exit the vehicle, examine the ground before you step out. Look for ice, water, cracks, and uneven surfaces. Face the vehicle and step down backward while holding onto the grab bar or other stable surface. Use all of the steps until you reach the ground. Don’t use some of the stairs, then jump and hurt yourself by skipping one. Never jump down or “fall” down forward out of a vehicle; you can catch your clothing on the door handle, seat adjustments, seat belt, etc. causing a serious, uncontrolled fall.

Jumping increases the force and strain on your bones and joints (mostly ankle, knee, and back). For example, in a cab-over-engine tractor, jumping from the top step can apply 7.1 times your body weight to your back and leg joints (1420 pounds of force for a 200 pound man). Jumping from a delivery step-van with a package in hand causes an impact of 3.5 times the body weight plus package weight. Add these impacts to frequent entries and exits and you are at risk for an ergonomic injury. Climbing down safely can save you pain and time in the long run.

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Take 5 For Safety – Emergency Planning

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Emergency Planning

We are all familiar with the public service announcements advising us to be prepared for emergencies. Take small steps to increase your disaster preparedness.

First, know your risks at home and at work. What industry do you work in? Are there chemical, fire, or other physical hazards? Where do you live and work and what are the earthquake, flood, wildfire, risks? Knowing your risks helps you identify necessary supplies, equipment, and procedures.

Make your workplace and home safe. Bolt down furniture and equipment. Secure items hung on walls and stored on shelves. Store hazardous chemicals in properly segregated containers. Prevent fires by maintaining good housekeeping.

Get emergency training. Know the procedures for evacuations, spill cleanup, earthquakes, and fire suppression. Be familiar with the alarm systems at work and home (silent, audible, strobes, speakers, etc.). Know where the nearest exits are and use them. Know where you should assemble outside the building to check in.

Make a home emergency plan and discuss with your family. Everyone should know how to communicate and where to meet in a disaster. Make special disaster plans for pets and family members with special needs along with schools and daycare facilities.

Build your disaster kit at home, work, and in the car. Begin with water and food. Add a first aid kit. Consider a radio or phone with phone lists. Add tools such as a flashlight, scissors, and knife. Add necessary medications, eyeglasses, comfortable shoes, warm clothes, and blankets.

Be trained in CPR and First Aid so that you can help others if they are hurt. Know how to use a fire extinguisher safely. Practice and drill emergency procedures so that you will be calm, capable, and prepared when disaster strikes.

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Take 5 For Safety – Electric Tools – Grounds for Concern

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Electric Tools – Grounds for Concern

Each year workers suffer shock when handling electrical tools and equipment. To protect workers against the hazards of electricity, teach them the basic facts about the causes of shock and death. One of the big problems in understanding the dangers of electrical shock is the mistaken belief that only high voltages kill. It’s not the voltage that kills, but the amount of current that passes through the body. The condition and placement of the body has a lot to do with the chance of getting a shock.

Water and electricity can be a fatal combination. Damp areas and metal objects can offer good shortcuts for electricity to reach the ground. If a worker’s hands are sweaty, if socks and shoes are moist or damp, if the floor is wet, or if the worker is standing in a puddle of water, the moisture will allow more current to pass through the body. If work is to be done with metal objects or in damp areas, workers should recognize the hazards and take necessary precautions. These precautions include rubber gloves and boots, rubber mats, insulated tools, and rubber sheets which can be used to cover exposed metal.

Remembering a few tips can help avoid electrical accidents:
* Treat every electric wire as if it were a live one.
* Inspect equipment and extension cords before each use.
* Take faulty equipment or plugs with bent or missing prongs out of service for repair.
* Only qualified electricians should repair electrical equipment or work on energized lines.
* If a plug doesn’t have three prongs or if the receptacle doesn’t have three openings, make sure the tool is grounded in some other way before use.
* Never try to bypass an electrical system by cutting off the third prong of a plug.
* Turn off the power and report the smell of hot or burning plastic, smoke, sparks or flickering lights.
* Stop using a tool or appliance if a slight shock or tingling is felt.
* Never disconnect an electrical plug by pulling on the cord.
* Whenever working on an electric circuit, the circuit should be turned off and locked out at the circuit breaker or fuse box to ensure that the circuit cannot be accidentally turned on.
* Those who regularly work on or around energized electrical equipment should be trained in emergency response and CPR.

In wet, winter months, extra caution should be observed when working with electrical equipment or when working near grounded objects.

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Take 5 For Safety – Electric Equipment Guarding and Workspaces

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Electric Equipment Guarding and Workspaces

Electrical current is found in power lines, transformers, breaker boxes, and power outlets and switches. Exposure to electric current can cause shock, injury and electrocution. Workers that service electrical sources need to get training on electrical safety, assume electrical equipment and lines are live, and use lock out/tag out procedures. Proper guarding and clearance around electrical equipment can prevent accidental worker exposure to electrical currents.

A shock can occur when a worker’s body becomes part of the flow of an electrical circuit. The severity of injury depends on the voltage and time that the electrical current passes through the body. Low voltage causes pain and slight burns, a large voltage can cause severe burns and stop the heart. A minor shock may cause a large injury if a surprised worker takes a fall.

To avoid the risk of accidental shock, live electrical components operating at 50 volts or more must be guarded with covers or other permanent barriers to prevent accidental contact by workers and their tools. Equipment can also be locked behind an enclosure, in a room, or at an elevated height. These areas should have restricted access and warnings against unauthorized entry. Permanent markings on electrical equipment with the voltage, current or wattage provide power output information for workers.

Electrical boxes and equipment are best stored in areas free from moisture, chemicals, and excessive temperatures. Electric cabinets with ventilation holes need to remain clear to allow air circulation. Electric parts that ordinarily spark or arc require covers and isolation from combustion sources. Equipment should be securely mounted to the surface that it rests on.

There should be adequate working space to allow workers to safely maneuver around electrical equipment. Electrical equipment with a voltage of 0-150 requires 36 inches of clearance. A voltage of 150-600, where there are energized parts on one side, also needs 36 inches of clearance. Equipment with a voltage of 150-600 and exposed energized and grounded parts on either side requires 42 inches clearance; equipment with exposed energized parts on both sides must have 48 inches clearance.

The clearance workspace around electrical equipment is not intended for storage. The area should be kept clear to allow safe movement and to prevent a fire hazard. Electric equipment workspaces require adequate lighting for safe work; light operating switches should not be near live electrical feeds. Enclosures need at least one entrance and enough headroom to work safely.

With adequate clearance and guarding around electrical equipment, workers can avoid accidental exposure to electric shock.
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