Take 5 For Safety – Back Injuries and Awkward Positions

 


Back Injuries and Awkward Positions

We have all been told to avoid back injury by bending our knees when we lift, keeping the load close and avoiding twisting motions. These safety rules may be appropriate for simple, direct lifting of materials, but what about back care when you are working in awkward positions? Work tasks that require you to reach or stretch away from your body while handling materials can also put excessive strain on the vertebral discs and soft tissues in the back. An awkward position is a work posture that distorts the spine from its natural curves, puts unbalanced pressure on the discs, and can strain arm, leg or back tissues if held for any length of time.
 
What are some work situations that may put you in “awkward” positions?

  • Jobs that require you to bend and reach into bins or containers to retrieve or place material.
  • Overhead work, installing or servicing equipment, pulling wire, cleaning ceilings, etc.
  • Floor or ground level jobs such as installing or servicing equipment, cleaning, etc.
  • Work tasks in confined or small spaces where there is limited range of motion such as boilers, hatches, pipes, tanks, vaults, crawl spaces, etc.
  • Jobs on ladders, work platforms or step ladders where you may over-reach to adjust, clean, install or service.
  • Pulling loads, instead of pushing them, when removing equipment or other materials.
  • Repetitive tasks that require twisting of the back such as loading or handling material 90o to 180o from the starting point

 
How can you avoid injury when working in awkward positions?

  • Raise bins and containers off the floor and/or tilt them to reduce bending and over-reaching.
  • When working overhead, stand on a steady and adjustable platform. Keep your back posture in its natural curve to avoid uneven spinal loading.
  • If working on the floor, avoid bending over to work. Squat down using your leg muscles and wear cushioned knee pads if you have to kneel at work.
  • In confined spaces, plan your work, and reduce clutter in the area which confines you further and increases the need to twist or overreach. Also arrange for adequate illumination.
  • Don’t hold an awkward position for too long. Pause often to stretch and straighten out.
  • When leaning forward to work, support the weight of your upper body on your free hand and arm, whenever possible. This greatly relieves pressure on your lower back.
  • Position yourself as close as possible to the job, avoid overreaching and/or use tools with longer handles when working on ladders or scaffolding.
  • Never lift heavy loads that are far from your body’s center of gravity. Get help in such cases.
  • Position your work below the shoulder and above the knees to minimize over-reaching.

 Safety Excellence ­ Is It In You?
 

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Take 5 For Safety – Corrosive Chemicals

 


Corrosive Chemicals

Corrosive chemicals can burn, irritate, or destructively attack living tissue. When inhaled or ingested, lung and stomach tissue are affected. Materials with corrosive properties can be either acidic (low pH) or basic (high pH). The corrosiveness is defined in contact with living tissue but acids and bases attack many other materials as well.

  • Corrosive gases — are readily absorbed into the body through skin contact and inhalation.
  • Corrosive liquids — when used have a high potential to cause external injury to the body.
  • Corrosive solids — cause delayed injury. Because corrosive solids dissolve rapidly in moisture on the skin and in the respiratory system, the effects of corrosive solids depend largely on the duration of contact.
  • Corrosives may also have other hazards such as catching fire, exploding, or reacting dangerously with other substances.
  • Corrosives can permanently damage nylon slings, fall protection equipment, and personal protection equipment.

 Examples of commonly-used corrosives (often found in cleaning agents):

  • sulfuric acid
  • hydrochloric acid
  • nitric acid
  • ammonium hydroxide
  • sodium hydroxide

 Labeling

  • Always check labels to determine if a substance is corrosive:
  • The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) requires a special label on any container that¹s shipped and carries corrosives.
  • The DOT label shows a corrosive dripping on, and eating away at, skin and metal.
  • OSHA¹s Hazard Communication Standard requires all containers that hold hazardous substances to have labels that identify their hazards
  • A corrosive label will warn that the substance is dangerous and caution against contact with skin, eyes, or clothing, as well as breathing in mists or gases.

 OSHA requires that whenever the eyes or body of any person may be exposed to injurious corrosive materials, suitable facilities for quick drenching or flushing of the eyes and body for at least 15 minutes; shall be provided within the work area for immediate emergency use.
 
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Take 5 For Safety – Sitting Can Be a Pain

 


Sitting Can Be a Pain

When the employee can alternate sitting with other body positions, sitting at work is not a risk for injury or discomfort.

For those who have no choice and must sit for long periods, the situation is different. Although sitting involves less muscular effort than such physically demanding jobs as gardening or floor mopping, it still causes fatigue. Sitting requires the muscles to hold the trunk, neck and shoulders in a fixed position. A fixed working position squeezes the blood vessels in the muscles reducing the blood supply to the working muscles just when they need it the most. An insufficient blood supply accelerates fatigue.   

Prolonged sitting drops the employee’s physical activity to the lower limit needed for healthy-body functioning. The most common health problems that employees suffer are disorders in blood circulation and injuries affecting their ability to move.  Employees are encouraged to walk around on a normal schedule

The workplace design should enable the employees to carry out work in comfort and safety while allowing them to make voluntary changes in the working posture. To achieve this, the design should include the following elements:

  • tasks
  • work station
  • chair

No matter how well the workplace is designed, an employee who sits for long periods may suffer discomfort. The main objective of a job design for a seated employee is to reduce the amount of time the person spends “just” sitting. Frequent changes in the sitting position are not enough to protect against blood pooling in the employee’s legs.    

Five minutes of a more vigorous activity, such as walking for every 40 to 50 minutes of sitting, can protect an employee from swollen legs. These breaks are also beneficial because they give the heart, lungs and muscles some exercise to help counterbalance the effects of sitting for prolonged periods in a relatively fixed position. Where practical, jobs should incorporate “activity breaks” such as work-related tasks away from the desk or simple exercises which employees can carry out on the worksite.

Another important aspect of job design is feedback from employees. No matter how good the workplace and the job designs, there is always need for individual tailoring. Consultation with employees can secure their active participation and personalize their work.

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Take 5 For Safety – Using Portable Fire Extinguishers

 


Using Portable Fire Extinguishers

In the event of a fire, the correct use of a portable fire extinguisher could mean the difference between suffering a minor loss or a major one. Portable fire extinguishers, if used properly, can make that difference. But there are several things to consider in using fire extinguishers. For instance, you must know the class of fire involved and the correct type of fire extinguisher to use.
 
CLASSES OF FIRES AND FIRE EXTINGUISHERS:

  1. Class A Involves ordinary combustibles such as paper, wood, cloth, rubber or plastics. The common extinguishing media is water or dry chemical.
  2. Class B Flammable liquids, grease or gases are covered under this category. Common extinguishing media are foam, carbon dioxide or dry chemical.
  3. Class C Live electrical fires are class C fires. CO2 or dry chemical extinguishers should be used. However, the actual burning product may be class A items.
  4. Class D Burning materials include combustible metals such as magnesium and sodium. Special extinguishing agents, approved by recognized testing laboratories, are needed when working with these metals. 
    RESPONDING TO FIRES:
    Sound the fire alarm and call the local fire department immediately if a fire breaks out, Follow your company’s procedures on responding to fires. But attempt to fight the fire only if, (1) you know the type of combustible material burning, (2) you have been trained to use the fire extinguisher correctly, and (3) if the fire is still in the incipient (beginning) stage. If the fire gets too large or out of control, evacuate immediately.
     
    REMEMBER P-A-S-S WHEN USING AN EXTINGUISHER:
  1. P – Pull. Pull the locking pin before using the fire extinguisher.
  2. A – Aim. Aim the fire extinguisher at the base of the fire. Not at the flames or smoke.
  3. S – Squeeze. Squeeze the lever of the fire extinguisher to operate and discharge.
  4. S – Sweep. Sweep the fire extinguisher back and forth at the base of the fire to extinguish. 

Most extinguishers will only allow about 10-seconds of extinguishing media. Prevention is the key when it comes to firefighting. Good housekeeping, proper storage procedures, and safe work practices will go a long way toward reducing the likelihood that a fire will destroy valuable property or injure either you or a fellow employee.

Safety Excellence – Is It In You?
 

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Take 5 For Safety – Working Safe and Drug Free

 


Working Safe and Drug Free

The Responsibility Starts with You

Worksite alcohol and drug use cannot be taken lightly, especially on Maalt sites where we rely
on each other for our safety. Responsibility over the safety of our worksite starts with each and
everyone one of us.
So take a good look at yourself. I’m not asking anyone to answer out loud, but I want each of you to ask yourself whether you might have a problem with drugs or alcohol. Have you
found yourself:

  • Having trouble doing your fair share at work because you are frequently hung over?
  • Drinking first thing in the morning or before your shift?
  • Fearful of being caught by a workplace drug test?
  • Having a hard time sticking to the recommended dosage of a prescribed medication?
  • Making unsuccessful attempts to cut down on alcohol or stop using drugs?
  • Feeling guilty for letting down your co-workers because of your drinking or drug use?
  • Annoyed by comments made about your drinking or drug use?

If you answer yes to any of these, you may have a drug or alcohol problem and should seek help.
AND if you are using drugs illegally, it’s not only against the law and against company policy, it’s a
safety hazard. It is never alright to be impaired on the job because someone could get hurt.
Please consider getting help before you really have something to feel guilty about.

Safety Excellence – Is It In You?

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Take 5 For Safety – Use of a Spotter when Backing

 


Use of a Spotter when Backing

Our facilities service a full range of different sized vehicles. Although our engines essentially fit inside these different sized vehicles, these vehicles may have trouble fitting into our service facilities. Whenever moving a vehicle in a direction with an obstructed view, or if the vehicle has extended components (such as a boom on a crane) a spotter will be used. This applies when moving vehicles in and out of the facility and around outdoor parking areas. Blind backing is inherently dangerous at our branches as employees, customers, tight areas, and materials may be encountered everywhere.
 
Good practice dictates that backing of vehicles should be avoided, whenever possible. Routes of travel should be planned and easy exit parking spaces selected to avoid backing. As this is not always practical, especially in our service bays, the following responsibilities should be followed to avoid an incident:
 
Driver Responsibilities:

  1. Bring the unit to a complete stop. Never be in a hurry when backing or moving vehicles.
  2. Roll window down completely so you can hear your spotter.
  3. Make visual and verbal contact with the spotter. If you cannot see or hear the spotter, do not backup!
  4. When backing, the driver and spotter must establish and continue eye contact in the left rear view mirror at all times. The driver shall immediately stop if he or she loses sight of the guiding employee and shall exit the vehicle to establish the spotter’s location.
  5. The spotter shall use hand signals to indicate it is safe for movement in a certain direction. Verbal commands alone are not adequate.
  6. The driver gives a two blast warning on the horn just prior to backing.
  7. When parking a vehicle that later must be backed, the operator may place a cone behind the vehicle to maintain clearance and serve as a reminder to check behind the vehicle before backing. 
    Spotter Responsibilities:
  1. Conduct a “circle of safety” and survey the backing area and all other sides of the vehicle checking for hazards. Before proceeding to back unit, being sure to also check the overhead clearance.
  2. Communicate any observed hazards to the driver.
  3. Place yourself eight to ten feet to the left rear of the unit.
  4. Establish visual and verbal contact with the driver and continue eye to eye contact. When backing, continue eye to eye contact in the left rear view mirror at all times.
  5. Stop the driver if any hazards are observed or if you are uncertain of the direction that the driver is maneuvering. 

Safety Excellence – Is It In You?
 

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Take 5 For Safety – Silica Precautions

 


Silica Precautions

What is crystalline silica?

Crystalline silica is a basic component of soil, sand, granite and many other minerals. Quartz is the most common form of crystalline silica. The dust may become repairable particles when workers chip, cut, drill or grind objects that contain crystalline silica.

Hazards

Crystalline silica has been classified as a human lung carcinogen. Breathing crystalline silica dust can cause silicosis, which can cause severe shortness of breath, weakness, weight loss, fatigue, chest pain, and in severe cases can be disabling or even fatal. Smoking adds to the damage caused by silica dust.

Who is at risk?

Working in any dusty environment where crystalline silica is present can potentially increase a person’s chances of getting silicosis. Workers who remove paint and rust from buildings, bridges, tanks, and other surfaces; clean foundry castings; work with stone or clay; etch or frost glass; and work in construction are at risk of overexposure to crystalline silica.

Controls

Ø Use engineering controls, such as local exhaust ventilation and blasting cabinets.
Ø Use protective equipment or other protective measures to reduce exposures.
Ø Use work practices controls, such as water sprays, when cutting bricks and blocks.
Ø Respirators cannot be worn by workers with facial hair, such as beards. It prevents a good seal between the respirator and the face.
Ø Participate in training, exposure monitoring, and health screening and surveillance programs to monitor any adverse health effects caused by crystalline silica exposures.
Ø Do not eat, drink, apply cosmetics or smoke in areas where crystalline silica dust is present.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

Ø Do you know of instances or can you think of examples where we work in areas containing silica?

Ø Do you know how to properly use respirators for this type of work?

Safety Excellence – Is It In You?

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Take 5 For Safety – Don’t Sit on It – Wear It

 


Don’t Sit on It – Wear It

There are a lot of reasons people won’t wear seat belts, but there are also a lot of reasons that they should (even in vehicles equipped with air bags). This includes you if you don’t already wear yours.

Choose Your Reasons

If you need a good reason to wear your seat belt, take your pick:

· You paid for it. (In fact, most cars have at least two seat belts; some have six. You paid for all of them; it’s a waste of your money if they aren’t used.)

· In an emergency, it holds you in place so you can control the car.

· In a crash, it keeps you from being thrown out of the car and hitting the pavement where you may be run over by another car or be crushed under your own.

· If you’re a passenger in the back seat, the belt keeps you from being thrown forward, injuring yourself and those in the front seat.

· It can lessen fatigue. Many people feel more comfortable with the added support seat belts give them. This in turn aids alertness.

· Buckling the belt is a reminder that accidents can happen even to the most careful driver.

· Wearing your belt sets a good example for the rest of your family.

If you haven’t been using your seat belts, take the time to inspect them. Make sure they’re clean and working properly. Make and insist on a rule that everyone in your car wears a seat belt. Unrestrained passengers not only risk their own lives but also could injure others who are belted in.

Remember, too, that seat belts aren’t just for long trips. Two thirds of all accidents occur within 25 miles of home, and half of all fatal accidents occur at speeds less than 40 mph.

Don’t sit on your seat belt; wear it. Seat belts save lives!

Safety Excellence – Is It In You?

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Take 5 For Safety – Medication Drowsiness

 


Medication Drowsiness

Fatigue is the result of physical or mental exertion that impairs performance. Driver fatigue may be due to a lack of adequate sleep, extended work hours, strenuous work or non-work activities, or a combination of other factors. The Large Truck Crash Causation Study (LTCCS) reported that 13 percent of Commercial Motor Vehicle (CMV) drivers were considered to have been fatigued at the time of their crash.
 

AVOID MEDICATION THAT MAY INDUCE DROWSINESS

Avoid medications that may make you drowsy if you plan to get behind the wheel. Most drowsiness-inducing medications include a warning label indicating that you should not operate vehicles or machinery during use.16 Some of the most common medicines that may make you drowsy are: tranquilizers, sleeping pills, allergy medicines and cold medicines.

· Did You Know? In a recent study, 17 percent of CMV drivers were reported as having “over-the-counter drug use†at the time of a crash.

· Did You Know? Cold pills are one of the most common medicines that may make you drowsy. If you must drive with a cold, it is safer to suffer from the cold than drive under the effects of the medicine.

Safety Excellence – Is It In You?

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Take 5 For Safety –  Complacency

 


Complacency

Webster’s Dictionary defines complacency as:
self-satisfaction especially when accompanied by unawareness of actual dangers or deficiencies
Complacency is perhaps one of the biggest problems we face in completing our day to day tasks. We are “used” to things being a certain way each time and unless the obvious comes right out and hits us . . . we can be oblivious to it all. This is state of mind can affect many things such as productivity, quality and safety.

Here is an example:
Aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it deosn’t mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoetnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer be at the rghit pclae. The rset can be a toatl mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe.

You probably didn’t have much trouble reading that paragraph. It probably took you back at first, but then you were able to zip right through the text and understand the content. This is an example of how complacency works with our mind. We get used to words starting with certain letters and being a certain length and we skip right over it”thinking” we know what the word is.

In reading paragraphs it’s not a big deal . . . however when it comes to safety, complacency can be a literal “killer” on the job. Each moment we are working with hazardous energy, whether it be a large production machine, forklift, automobile, power tools, electricity or even walking from one end of the facility to the other, we must keep focused on the task at hand.

There is much danger in going into “autopilot” when working on the job. All too often we don’t realize how complacent we are until we have a near miss or close call. Those events tend to jump start our hearts and focus our attention . . . at least for a little while, on the task at hand.

One technique found to be effective in battling complacency in your own actions is to watch the actions of other while they work. This has a dual-fold effect in that it raises your awareness as you examine the actions of a coworker as they are working and it may raise your coworker’s awareness if you share with them some of the observations you made that would allow them to do their job in a safer manner. It can be a win-win.

Try this technique today as you are working and feel yourself going into the complacent state of auto-pilot. You’ll find it truly can work well . . . for everyone.

Safety Excellence – Is It In You?

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