Take 5 For Safety – Personal Protection Against Workplace Violence

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Personal Protection Against Workplace Violence

Each year in the workplace, an estimated 1.7 million workers are injured in assaults and approximately 800 homicides occur. Workplace violence incidents include verbal assault, simple or aggravated assault, robbery, rape and homicide. Anyone can become the victim of a workplace assault, so it is important to know the risk factors.

Factors that increase the risk of workplace violence include contact with the public; the exchange of money; and guarding or delivering valuable property. Other factors include mobile workplaces (cars or trucks); working in high-crime areas, and working late night or early morning hours. Finally, workers that have contact with unstable and volatile persons in health care, social services, and criminal justice settings can be at risk.

If you are at risk for workplace violence, know and follow the safety guards in place at your worksite. Respect requirements for restricted access to the public. Ensure that visitors are screened when entering the workplace and escort them throughout the building. Physical separations like glass walls, partitions, and deep counters can provide distance between you and the public, so use them. Security measures like video cameras, two-way mirrors, and personal or desk panic alarms can help you communicate if you are in distress.

Know and follow the policies for opening and closing your place of business and handling and transporting cash and valuables. Make it a rule to work with a backup employee or enough staff coverage if you will be dealing with a potentially hostile person. Keep possible offensive weapons like sharp or heavy instruments locked away and out of the public eye.

Get training on recognizing and reporting the signs of a disturbed coworker, customer, or member of the public. You should also seek training on handling hostile customers and diffusing violent situations. Immediately report violent incidents and threats to management; often, violent threats can escalate to become violent acts.

When faced with a hostile person, respect their personal space and be aware of your body language, movements, and tone of voice. Stay calm and diffuse the situation. Try to keep a barrier like a desk between yourself and the person, but don’t block yourself into a corner. If there is no barrier available, stand at an angle and 4 to 6 feet from the person; this keeps you at arms length and gives you a means to escape. Have plans should a dangerous situation arise; note exits, phones, and potential defensive weapons. Use physical force as a defense only.


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Take 5 For Safety – Office Safety

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Office Safety

Many workers think that the office environment is the safest workplace. But, a safe office workplace requires hazard control, good housekeeping, and safe work practices.

Arrange your office to allow clear walkways and aisles throughout the rooms and near exits. Attach tall and heavy office furniture to the wall to avoid tipovers in an earthquake. Do not store heavy items or hang pictures over your head in your office or cube. Close file cabinet drawers, file doors, and pull-out work tables when not in use. To avoid jamming your fingers or hands, make sure that cabinet and desk drawers do not open into walls or other furniture. Close drawers and doors with the flat of your hand.

Prevent falls in the office by keeping walkways and floors clear of trash, cords, cables, and other items. Clean up work areas after each project and periodically throughout the day. Clean up liquid spills immediately and mark the hazard area with a “wet floor” sign until the floor dries. Walk slowly, and be aware of your surroundings. Use handrails when going up and down stairs. Wear proper footwear at the office; a non-slip sole and a back strap are safest.

Store supplies and materials properly to maintain a safe workplace. Arrange your storage so that the heavier items are stored on lower shelves and keep lighter-weight items on upper shelves. Keep a sturdy step stool in storage areas to avoid reaching. Use good body mechanics when lifting and moving items. Request an ergonomic evaluation from your supervisor if you feel discomfort while at your desk or performing other tasks at work.

Use only approved electrical equipment in the office. Examine electric cords and plugs for breaks, tears, and frayed wires before use. Do not use extension cords as a permanent source of electrical power; install an extra electric outlet if necessary. Do not create chains of extension cords and surge protectors (“daisy-chains”) because they can overload your electrical outlets and create fire hazards.

Periodic workplace safety inspections can keep your office safe. Report hazards to your supervisor quickly and make sure that they get corrected as soon as possible. Be prepared for an emergency in your building. Know your building emergency procedures, evacuation routes, and assembly area. Know how to use a fire extinguisher and when it is safe to do so. Keep exits and aisle walkways clear to allow a quick evacuation.


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Take 5 For Safety – Personal Hygiene

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Personal Hygiene

Personal hygiene is the basic concept of cleaning, grooming and caring for our bodies. While it is an important part of our daily lives at home, personal hygiene isnt just about combed shiny hair and brushed teeth; its important for worker health and safety in the workplace. Workers who pay attention to personal hygiene can prevent the spread of germs and disease, reduce their exposures to chemicals and contaminants, and avoid developing skin allergies, skin conditions, and chemical sensitivities.

The first principle of good hygiene is to avoid an exposure by forming a barrier over the skin with personal protective equipment (PPE) such as gloves, coveralls, and boots. It is important to check the PPE often for excessive contamination, wear, tears, cuts, or pinholes. Workers should clean, decontaminate or replace protective equipment frequently to make sure it doesnt collect or absorb irritants. If protective equipment becomes too soiled during the job, the worker should stop and replace it with clean equipment.

Basic hand washing and skin care can prevent work exposures and disease. Good washing and scrubbing with water and soap helps to remove germs, contaminants, and chemicals. It can also prevent exposure by ingestion and cross-contamination of the surfaces and objects we touch.

Workers should periodically wash their hands on the during the day. In some jobs, regular hand washing is required by law. Hand washing is important before and after using the restroom and before or after certain activities. Workers should wash their hands before, during, and after preparing food and before they take breaks at work to eat, drink or smoke. To control the spread of germs that can cause the flu or common cold, workers should wash their hands whenever they cough, sneeze, or blow their noses, and whenever they are around someone that is sick.

Hand washing involves more than a quick rinse under a faucet. To wash hands properly, workers should first wet them under the faucet and then use liquid or bar soap. Hands should be held out of the water until all skin surfaces are scrubbed and lathered for at least twenty seconds. Workers can then rinse with clean water and dry their hands with a disposable towel. To wash hands with a hand sanitizer, workers should apply the appropriate amount of sanitizer into the palm of the hand, and then rub hands together until they are dry, being careful to cover all surfaces of the hands. For some job activities, hand sanitizers are not an acceptable means of hand cleaning. Showering and face-washing after work is also a good idea. Proper personal hygiene and hand protection can help keep workers productive and on the job. Be safely clean with good hygiene.


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Take 5 For Safety – Noise – Hear Today Gone Tomorrow

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Noise – Hear Today Gone Tomorrow

Most workers take good hearing for granted. Hearing loss can happen so gradually that it can go unnoticed until it’s too late. Then, even a hearing aid may not help. Some assume hearing loss is the unavoidable result of getting older, yet most hearing loss is due to noise over a lifetime. While loss of hearing may result from a single exposure to a noise or explosion, such traumatic losses are rare. Most cases of hearing loss begin gradually in frequencies slightly above that of human speech and then subtly spread to lower and higher frequencies. Hearing loss can disrupt job performance, cause stress-related problems, increased heart rate, fatigue, irritability, tension and lead to unnecessary accidents or injuries on the job.

The workplace can be very noisy. Both the amount of noise and the duration of exposure determine the ability to damage hearing. Workers may be exposed to noise from many sources: equipment, vehicles, or tools, to name a few. Any of these things can damage hearing when exposure accumulates over extended periods of time. How can you tell if work is too loud and may be causing hearing damage? It’s too loud if:
* You have to raise your voice to be heard.
* You can’t hear someone less than two feet away without shouting.
* Speech around you sounds muffled or dull after you leave a noisy area.
* You have ringing in your ears after exposure to noise.

What can employers do to prevent their workers from developing hearing problems?

Good planning can prevent problems caused by excessive noise exposure. Noise reduced at its source should be the first consideration. Employers should invest in noise-controlled equipment. When purchasing, employers can ask vendors if there is a “quiet” model or a noise-reducing option, such as enclosed or acoustically lined vehicular cabs and equipment.Work schedules can be adjusted so that exposure to high noise levels does not occur for the entire work day. This allows a noise recovery period to be part of the work shift. Equally important is the use of personal protection devices, such as ear plugs and ear muffs. Employers should provide training on the protection devices available and the effects of noise on hearing if workers do not use the protection. Training should include the fit, use, and care of any hearing protection device.

Employers can’t always prevent noise, but they can lessen the chance of workers experiencing hearing loss by having them follow established safety procedures and enforcing the use of proper hearing protection. Don’t risk losing a worker’s hearing on the job. Silence may be a great thing, but not when its permanent.


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Take 5 For Safety – Multi-Employer Worksites

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Multi-employer Worksites

When more than one employer operates at a single site, OSHA considers it a multi-employer worksite. A construction site is an example of a multi-employer worksite with multiple contractors assigned the work, but not all at the same time. Employers at multi-employer worksites need to know their responsibilities, assigned roles, and accountability for employee health and safety. Note that a multi-employer worksite differs from a dual-employer worksite, where an employee has two employers at the same time. For example, a temporary agency employee that is assigned to another employer’s worksite.

On multi-employer worksites, all of the employers must work together to identify and control hazards to meet OSHA standards for employee health and safety. Property and project owners have the same responsibility for employee safety. When OSHA identifies safety violations at a worksite, the agency evaluates the owner and employer hierarchy to determine which owner and/or employer(s) is/are responsible for the violation.

OSHA identifies four categories of employers at a multi-employer worksite:
* The Creating Employer creates the violation condition.
* The Exposing Employer employs the workers exposed to a violation, regardless of whether that employer created the condition.
* The Controlling Employer is responsible, by contract or practice, for the safety and health conditions at the worksite and has the authority to correct the violation.
* The Correcting Employer has the specific responsibility to correct violation conditions.

Worksites may contain several or all of the employer categories. A single employer may also fit into more than one of the categories. For example, an employer may be both a creating and a correcting employer or a correcting and a controlling employer. The hierarchy on a multi-employer worksite is generally from the owner/employer to general/prime contractors and then to subcontractors.

Contractors often hire subcontractors to work on construction sites. If the subcontractor creates a health and safety violation, is the contractor subject to a OSHA citation? Both the contractor and the sub may be responsible. Even if the general contractor did not contribute to the hazard and had no employees in the area, as the top of the employer hierarchy, the contractor is still responsible for overseeing the overall health and safety on the worksite.

Owners/contractors should pre-qualify subcontractors before hiring them. They or the controlling contractor should examine the Injury and Illness Prevention Program (IIPP), insurance loss runs, and a three-year history of OSHA citations for all subcontractors.

Safety planning should be done before a new project and before each new phase. The plan should identify site-specific hazards, safety precautions, and the responsible party; this information should be written into the site contracts. The controlling employer must ensure that each contractor/subcontractor understands and agrees to follow the safety requirements in the contract. Conducting periodic safety inspections based on the hazard level and daily meetings between site safety managers and subcontractors can help keep everyone informed about changing worksite conditions and potential problems.

The responsibility of the controlling employer does not end with communicating required safety precautions, or notifying the other employers about unsafe conditions or behavior. The controlling employer must do everything within his/her power, up to and including terminating the contract, to maintain a safe workplace and protect all employees on site.

Through cooperation and vigilance, all of the employers involved in a multi-employer worksite can maintain safety standards and protect employee health.


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Take 5 For Safety – Mobile Crane Safety

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Mobile Crane Safety

Mobile cranes are responsible for the most accidents, injuries, and fatalities of all of the crane types. Be aware of the hazards if you operate or work around mobile cranes. Get proper training on crane operation and load preparation and securing. Wear hard hats, safety boots, and high visibility clothing when operating or working around cranes.

Falling loads from mobile cranes pose a severe hazard to operators and nearby workers. Never exceed the load capacity of the mobile crane. If you are unsure about the load size and weight, calculate the weight to ensure that it meets your crane’s capacity. Load indicating devices, called load moment devices, can prevent an accidental overload. Properly secure the loads that you will be lifting. Inspect all slings, chains, and hooks that will be used to lift and secure the load.

Rotate, raise, and lower the crane boom slowly. Avoid sudden stops or accelerations that could jar the load. When rotating the load, you can use taglines or guidelines to control the arc and swing. Try to avoid lifting loads over workers or over the cab of the crane. If this type of lifting is necessary, use safety hooks or other approved devices. If two cranes are required to lift a load, a qualified person should be in charge of planning and directing the lift.

Cranes can accidentally come in contact with electrical lines. Before you start work, survey the site for potential electric hazards. Consider all lines energized unless they are certified by the owner/operator and visibly grounded at the site. Always maintain the required clearances from electrical lines and sources as required by the Electrical Safety Standard.

Tip-overs and instability are another mobile crane hazard. Soft or unlevel ground can cause a crane to tip. Use outriggers to stabilize the crane when the ground surface or the load requires it. Never operate a crane if the load or slope lifts the wheels off the ground. For stability when traveling, keep the boom steady in the direction of the movement. Boomstops should be used if there is a danger of the boom falling backward.

Workers near mobile cranes can get run over if they do not pay attention or if the operator loses sight of them. Operators should use an audible warning and operating signal device to notify workers of movement. Workers should stay out of the way of the load, the crane wheels, and outrigger wheels. If the operator has a limited view, a qualified signals person should direct and communicate the operations. Never ride a load on a crane. Always lash or secure empty hooks when moving the crane so they do not swing.

Lack of training is the leading cause of accidents. Certification as a crane operator is required unless you are operating a mobile crane with a boom length of less than 25 feet or a maximum rated load capacity of less than 15,000 pounds.


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Take 5 For Safety – Lithium Battery Handling

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Lithium Battery Handling

Lithium and lithium-ion batteries are rechargeable batteries used in consumer products such as laptops, cell phones, medical devices, automobile and aerospace applications.

Proper storage and handling of lithium batteries maintains their integrity and can prevent fires, explosions and potential exposures.
* Inspect the batteries before installation and periodically during use to make sure they are in good condition.
* Store batteries in a cool dry place away from heat, open flame, and humidity.
* Separate batteries from flammable and combustible materials.
* Keep batteries in their original packaging or shipping containers.
* If the original packaging is unavailable, cover the battery terminals with tape to prevent accidental contacting and shorts.
* Avoid contacting terminals with metal items to prevent short-circuiting.
* Work on non-conductive surfaces and use non-conductive tools around batteries or wrap them with insulating material.
* Keep charged and discharged batteries separate.
* Dispose of the batteries properly as hazardous waste.

Some of the most important use, handling, and storage tips involve maintaining the integrity of the battery.
* Never disassemble batteries from their original packaging; the contents could leak out.
* Don’t crush, pierce or expose the battery to excessive physical shock or vibration.
* Don’t place batteries in fire; they could rupture and release electrolyte, which could catch fire or explode.
* Never place batteries in water; they could rupture and release electrolyte. When the electrolyte reacts with humidity, water, or fire it can create hydrofluoric acid—a toxic and corrosive substance.

Before putting lithium batteries into use, consider these best practices:
* Confirm the size and capacity of the batteries you are choosing to use.
* Don’t solder leads to battery cases.
* Always use the same size and rating batteries in series or parallel connections.
* Use batteries in groups that are from the same age and history of use and application.
* Don’t mix new batteries with older batteries.
* Only use battery packs that are equipped with electronic protection circuits

Know the emergency procedures for an accidental leak, fire, or exposure of lithium batteries.
* Keep a Class D fire extinguisher available to extinguish burning batteries.
* Keep a spill kit with absorbent materials available in case of a battery leak.
* Only trained personnel wearing proper personal protective equipment should attempt to clean up a battery leak or handle a fire or release.

Know the first aid procedures to treat individuals for an exposure to leaking batteries. These potential exposures and treatments include:
* Remove to fresh air if there has been an inhalation exposure and provide medical attention if needed.
* Wash skin with copious amounts of water and provide further medical attention if needed.
* For eye exposures, avoid rubbing the eyes and immediately flush them with water for at least 15 minutes. Always provide immediate medical attention for eye exposures.
* For ingestion emergencies, don’t induce vomiting. Give the victim copious amounts of water and refer to medical attention.
* Any contact with hydrofluoric acid requires immediate medical treatment. Ice can be used to slow down the reaction on the way to medical treatment.

Lithium batteries are powerful, compact, extremely useful, and convenient. As long as they are used properly, lithium batteries will fulfill our energy needs for products and vehicles safely.


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Take 5 For Safety – Lyme Disease

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Lyme Disease

Lyme Disease is a serious, tick-borne illness that can cause chronic muscle pain, inflammatory arthritis, heart disease and/or neurological disorders. Because the disease can be long term and debilitating, early recognition and diagnosis is important so that it can be successfully treated with antibiotics.

Lyme Disease is transmitted to humans by black-leg ticks. These ticks, which are more abundant in spring and early summer, are smaller than common dog or cattle ticks so they can easily go unnoticed. When possible, avoid tick habitats such as brushy or overgrown grassy and wooded areas and reduce tick and host (deer and rodent) habitats by removing leaves, tall grass, and brush from around work areas.

In situations where you can’t avoid or clear tick and host habitats protect yourself by:
* Wearing light-colored clothes so that ticks can be easily seen and removed before attachment
* Covering exposed skin with a long-sleeved shirt, a hat, gloves, and neck scarf, long pants tucked into socks with high boots or closed shoes that cover the entire foot
* Applying insect repellents on the skin and permethrin on clothes which kills ticks
* Carefully examining the body for ticks and then showering after working in high risk areas
* Washing in hot water clothing worn in high risk areas
* Promptly removing an attached tick with tweezers and thoroughly cleaning the affected area with an antiseptic

The diagnosis of Lyme Disease is primarily based on a known exposure and recognition of disease symptoms. Flu-like symptoms may include a fever, lymph node swelling, neck stiffness, generalized fatigue, headaches, migrating joint aches and/or muscle aches. Lyme Disease often – but not always – is characterized by a ‘bulls-eye’ rash in addition to symptoms.

Take precautionary measures in high-risk areas and if disease symptoms appear, see a doctor immediately.
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Take 5 For Safety – Keep Up With Ladder Safety

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Keep Up With Ladder Safety

Ladder safety begins with selecting the right ladder for the job and includes inspection, setup, proper climbing or standing, proper use, care, and storage. This combination of safe equipment and its safe use can eliminate most ladder accidents.

Always check a ladder before using it. Inspect wood ladders for cracks or splits. Inspect metal and fiberglass ladders for bends and breaks. Never use a damaged ladder. Tag it “Defective” and report it to your supervisor.

When setting up a ladder, make sure its straight and sitting firmly on the ground or floor. If one foot sits lower, build up the surface with firm material, dont set it on boxes, bricks or other unstable bases. Lean the ladder against something solid, but not against a glass surface. Make sure the ladder is placed at a safe angle, with the base away from the wall or edge of the upper level about one foot for every four feet of vertical height. Keep ladders away from doorways or walkways, unless barriers can protect them.

Keep the steps and rungs of the ladder free of grease, paint, mud or other slippery material. And remember to clean debris off your shoes before climbing. Always face the ladder when climbing up or down, using both hands to keep a good grip on the rails or rungs. Never carry heavy or bulky loads up a ladder. Climb up yourself first, and then pull up the material with a rope or bucket.

Many ladder accidents occur because of slipping or skidding. You can prevent these accidents by equipping the ladder with non-slip safety feet, blocking its base or tying it to a sound, permanent structure.

Overreaching is probably the most common cause of falls from ladders. A good rule is to always keep your belt buckle inside the rails of a ladder. Dont try to move a ladder while youre on it by rocking, jogging or pushing it away from the supporting wall.

When youve finished the job, properly store the ladder so it wont be exposed to excessive heat or dampness and will be in good condition for the next time.


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Take 5 For Safety – Lockout… Tagout – Remember to Lockout and Tagout

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Lockout…Tagout – Remember to Lockout and Tagout

Anyone who operates, cleans, services, adjusts, and repairs machinery or equipment should be aware of the hazards associated with that machinery. Any powered machinery or electrical equipment that can move in a way that would put people in danger is a hazard that can be prevented by following locking or tagging procedures. Failure to lock out or tag power sources on equipment can result in electrocutions, amputations, and other serious-sometimes fatal-accidents.

What are the most common causes of these accidents?
* The machine or piece of equipment was not completely shut off before a maintenance or repair operation. Not only must the machine be turned off but also the power source that goes to it.
* The machine was turned on accidentally, either out of carelessness or because the person who turned it on did not realize that another worker was there and could get hurt.
* The machine was not working correctly but was not fixed, turned off, locked or tagged, and someone who did not know about the problem used it.
* Moving equipment was not blocked.
* Safety procedures were inadequate or had not been properly explained.

Remember the dangers and be on your guard around any machinery and moving equipment. Even if you do not operate the machinery, you could get caught in it and injured if it is not properly disconnected. So what can you do to prevent accidental injury from moving machinery?
* Identify all jobs and equipment that require lockout of power sources
* Post warning signs wherever possible to indicate that lockout is required
* Develop written procedures explaining how lockout is to be done
* Train all personnel in the lockout procedures for their particular job and offer periodic refresher training
* Allow no deviation from the written policies and procedures
* Use engineering and administrative controls as much as possible to eliminate the need for lockout
* Perform regular maintenance to prevent malfunctioning equipment

Be aware of your personal safety and the safety of others when working with or around moving equipment and machinery. Always follow proper lockout and tagout procedures, even for a quick or minor repair!


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