Preventing work related vehicle crashes

I have been sadly amazed at the number of motor vehicle crashes I’ve read about in the newspaper recently.  While I don’t know the cause of all of them, at least one crash with multiple fatalities was linked to distracted driving (posting to Facebook while driving).  Whether it is medication, fatigue, or electronic devices (GPS, smartphones, email, Facebook, texting), distracted driving is a leading cause of vehicle crashes.

The National Institute on Occupational Safety & Health (NIOSH) recently published a guide for employers to develop programs and policies to keep employees safe while driving.  The document can be found here.

CHESS can also help develop fleet safety programs and policies.

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CHESS Newsletter

The most recent newsletter from CHESS is now available online.  Topics include OSHA recordkeeping and new reporting requirements, regulatory updates, environmental deadlines, MPCA general permit updates, environmental and safety grants, hazardous waste hauler updates and employment poster updates.  All of that available here.

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OSHA New Injury Reporting Requirement

Federal OSHA has implemented new injury reporting requirements as of January 1, 2015:  you must report any fatality to OSHA within 8 hours (that has not changed).  In-patient hospitalization of one employee (used to be three employees), amputation or loss of an eye must be reported within 24 hours of finding out about the incident.

Remember, these requirements are above and beyond reporting to Workers’ Compensation.

Minnesota is a state run program, so their time frame for implementing this is different.  It looks like Minnesota will likely require this new injury reporting as of October 1, 2015.  They have not yet published their proposal to adopt these regulations.  We anticipate more inspections based on injury reporting.

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No prolonged standing or sitting

NIOSH recently posted in their science blog that prolonged standing is not healthy–it can lead to musculoskeletal disorders and other health problems.  There have been prior studies saying that sitting for long periods is bad for you.  It sounds like you shouldn’t sit and you shouldn’t stand.  So, what are you to do?

Well, unless you work as a mattress tester, lying down is not likely an option.  The key to these studies is “prolonged.”  It does cause health problems if we stay in one position for too long.  Being able to walk, and switch between sitting and standing, is best.  If you work in a job that requires standing for long periods, wearing comfortable shoes, using anti-fatigue mats, putting one foot up to relieve the pressure on your back, wearing shoe inserts or even compression socks may help.

If you are sitting for long periods, having an adjustable chair may help.

To help promote health, being able to move around, changing positions, short stretch breaks, any brief change in activity, will help.

Stay healthy and stay safe!

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Walk Like a Penguin

It’s warmed up in Minnesota, but you know snow and ice will be back.  To keep from falling, walk like a penguin:  take small steps, keep your knees relaxed, and turn your feet out a little.  Limit how much you carry–use a back pack if you can.

For very icy conditions, consider using ice cleats.  There are lots of brands, such as Sure Foot and Yak Trax.  The important thing is to keep your balance and stay upright.

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Job Hazard Analysis: Make them work for you

We are back to writing our blog after a summer hiatus (well, and finishing up a couple of big projects).

We often have companies ask about Job Hazard Analyses (JHA).  First, what it is: whether you call it a JHA or Job Safety Analysis (JSA) it is a process of breaking down a job by the most simple tasks and identifying the hazards with each task.  That is the first part.  Then, looking at each task, identify the potential hazards.  Lastly, identify ways to control those hazards.

We’ve found JHAs, in the traditional sense, work fine in manufacturing settings where tasks are repeated over and over.  For example, putting a part into the machine, close the machine, run the machine, wait for gate to open and remove part, …

The basic framework of task, hazard, and precaution can be used for any job, but you may not want to break it down as far.  For example, driving. Driving becomes the task.  What are the hazards: distraction, slips getting in or out of a vehicle, backing, ergonomics/strain if driving long distances, being hit, hitting something, and so on.  Then, for each of those items identify the precautions: no talking on your cell phone, no checking emails or texting, no eating or smoking while driving, wear your seatbelt, exit the vehicle with both feet on the ground, check conditions around you, use a spotter if you cannot see behind you, etc.  You may even want a separate column just to list personal protective equipment needed for the job.

JHAs can be very time consuming, so prioritize the jobs or tasks that need that kind of evaluation.  You may prioritize based on injuries, near mis-haps, employee concerns or new tasks where you want to identify hazards and any personal protective equipment up front.

If you want to learn more, OSHA has a whole booklet on JHAs:

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Lockout Tagout–it really matters

OSHA requires that equipment be guarded or locked out to prevent injuries.  Lockout is used to isolate energy sources so that equipment cannot and does not start up.  A recent article in OSHA’s bi-weekly newsletter reinforces why this is so important.

Tyson Foods cited for safety violations after worker’s hand severed by unguarded machine at Kansas facility

OSHA has cited Tyson Foods Inc. for four safety violations after a worker’s hand was severed by an unguarded conveyor belt at the Hutchinson, Kan., prepared foods manufacturing plant. OSHA’s investigation revealed that several untrained workers had been cleaning unguarded conveyor equipment that had not been locked out. Proposed fines total $147,000.

“Removing guards and failing to train workers in proper lockout procedures is inexcusable,” said Judy Freeman, OSHA’s area director in Wichita. “Tyson Foods failed to ensure safety procedures, demonstrating a lack of commitment to workplace safety and health and resulting in a tragic injury.”

Included in the citations to the employer was a willful violation for failing to lockout equipment before having workers conduct maintenance and failing to train workers on lockout/tagout procedures. Read the news release for a list of citations and more information.

CHESS can help develop specific procedures for equipment.  Procedures must include the energy type, location and how to lock it out, and how to verify the equipment is locked out.

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Statewide Tornado Drills April 24

April 21-25 is Severe Weather Awareness Week.  According to the MN Department of Public Safety:
For more than 20 years, the state of Minnesota has conducted a Severe Weather Awareness  Week in partnership with the National Weather Service and local governments. A statewide tornado drill is part of that event.
Most local and statewide radio, TV and cable stations will be participating in the drill.  Television viewers and radio station listeners and TV viewers should hear or see a simulated tornado warning message at 1:45 p.m.  This tornado drill warning should last about one minute.  When the test is completed, stations should return to normal programming.

In addition, alerts for both the simulated tornado watches and warnings will be issued over the NOAA Weather Radios in the area which will activate the radio alerts.  The afternoon drill will also occur at the same time in Wisconsin and is expected to be broadcast on most radio and TV stations.

For more information, click here.

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Does the shovel matter?

There seems to be a winter theme to our blog posts.  Not surprising, given the time of year. And remember that March is one of the snowier months.

Choosing a snow shovel, or a shovel for any purpose, may not appear to be a safety related issue, but it is in terms of ergonomics.  As with any tool, it is important to pick the right one for the job.  When choosing a shovel, consider how you are going to use it, the type of load you need to move (light, fluffy snow or the heavy, wet stuff), and your own height.  If you are very tall, a shorter handled (shaft), “ergonomic” shovel (the kind with a bend in the handle), may not work well for you.

Popular Mechanics has a good article explaining the different types of shovels and on what type of snow they will work best. 

The Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety has an article on things to consider for shovels for any use (for example, digging dirt, which is rumored to lie beneath the snow).

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Women in Science: NIOSH series

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) published a series of short (under 5 minutes) videos on women at NIOSH.  As NIOSH writes in their blog:

The Women in Science video series spotlights a few of NIOSH’s many talented female scientists. In these videos, each woman talks about her personal journey into science, challenges and experiences she’s had along the way, work and her profession, and how she balances work duties with her personal life. Also, these talented and dedicated women offer advice to aspiring scientists, encouraging girls and young women to explore the sciences and pursue careers in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). In this way, NIOSH joins with others in the scientific community to address the disproportionately small representation of women in today’s STEM professions, and to encourage women to consider rewarding scientific careers.

To view the videos or read more, go to the Focus on NIOSH Women in Science page here.

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