Spring 2002 Volume 16

Feature Articles

Defibrillator

What do you do if an employee suffers a minor cut? Chances are, a first-aid kit is nearby to handle the situation. How about if an abrasive liquid accidentally splashes in an employee’s eye? Fortunately, your company has an eye wash kit or station in the event of such an injury. But what if an employee or customer suffers a cardiac arrest? What procedures do you have in place to help treat such a trauma? Take a tip from the growing number of companies who have enhanced their first-aid and CPR programs with the addition of automated external defibrillators (AEDs).

Automatic External Defibrillators at Work
According to the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA), in 1999 and 2000, 13 percent of total workplace fatalities resulted from cardiac arrest. Workers holding high-stress jobs, exposed to certain chemicals or electrical hazards, or involved in shift work, face an even higher risk of heart disease and cardiac arrest.

Where cardiac arrest is concerned, every second truly is a matter of life and death, and OSHA estimates that providing an automated external defibrillator at worksites could save as many as 120 lives per year. According to studies, for every minute defibrillation is delayed, a victim’s chance of survival drops by 10 percent. That is one of the reasons why major airlines decided to place AEDs on board several years ago. Today, you’ll find these easy-to-use devices everywhere from retail establishments to factories. EMC Insurance Companies, for example, recently purchased two systems for its Home Office complex in Des Moines, Iowa.

When a heart attack becomes a full cardiac arrest, the heart most often goes into uncoordinated electrical activity called fibrillation. AEDs deliver an electric current to the heart, momentarily stunning it. This gives the heart an opportunity to resume beating effectively. Although CPR can sustain life for a short period of time, the use of AEDs is the only effective treatment for ventricular defibrillation.

Advances in Technology Make AEDs More Accessible Than Ever Before
In the past, defibrillation could only be applied at hospitals or by paramedic crews, but the advancement of AEDs has changed that. Best of all, AEDs are both affordable and easy to use.

AEDs weigh about eight pounds and are portable devices about the size of a laptop computer, making them easy to store and transport around a business. They cost between $3,000 and $4,500 per unit. Ideally, the user will have some CPR knowledge and training, but that isn't essential. Several models include design features that can walk the user through a rescue with drawings or recorded voice prompts. The machines also show when patients should not be administered another shock.

EKG Strip

More and more businesses are purchasing AEDs to protect their workers and reduce workplace losses that are emotionally and financially draining. But they're not something you just go down to Wal-Mart and buy. AEDs are manufactured and sold under guidelines approved by the Food and Drug Administration. In order to purchase one, you must obtain a prescription from a physician. And although anyone can use an AED, it’s also a good idea to train some staff members in CPR and AED operation.

With cardiac arrest striking approximately 1,000 adults per day in the United States AEDs are an important part of your first-aid program. To learn more about purchasing an AED and implementing an AED training program, contact your local medical professional.

cartoon sun

With warmer weather coming, it’s time to make certain your air conditioning system is ready for action. Power surges and other electrical disturbances are the primary cause of air conditioning breakdowns, which could result in costly repairs as well as loss of business income.

HVAC professionals recommend you take the following preventive measures:

  • Perform preseason and ongoing maintenance of compressors, motors and motor controls, operating and safety controls, refrigerant circuits, condensers and evaporators, pumps, fans and piping.
  • Surge protection devices, proper grounding of equipment and service lines, and other monitoring devices can help prevent damage.

With regular maintenance and proper protection, your HVAC system can be more efficient and reliable to operate. Remember, the cost of prevention is small compared with losing your air conditioning in the middle of a summer heat wave.

cartoon tire

In a recent Rubber Manufacturers Association (RMA) sponsored survey, 61 percent of drivers scored a “D” or lower on a basic tire safety quiz. Here is some information to help you and your drivers score higher and be safer.

  • Air pressure should be checked when the tires are cool. Even driving one mile will heat up tires. Always refer to the vehicle owner's manual for proper inflation guidelines. The spare tire should be checked for proper inflation, too.
  • A professional should periodically check tire alignment. Suspension that is out of alignment will cause uneven tire wear and you may experience handling problems.
  • Tires should be rotated every 6,000 to 8,000 miles. Regular rotation will extend the useful life of the tire.
  • Tread wear can be easily checked by using a penny on passenger vehicles. If a penny is placed in a groove with Lincoln’s head down and the tread covers part of his head, the tire has the legal amount of tread on it. On commercial motor vehicles, the front tires should have at least 4/32 of an inch of tread on them. All other tires can have tread of 2/32 of an inch.

For additional tire safety tips, EMC encourages you to visit www.rma.org.

Recovery Plan

The events of September 11, 2001, have brought greater attention to the need for businesses of all sizes to have a business recovery plan in place. Sure, your business may never be the site of a terrorist attack, but even a small disaster or mishap can have a dramatic impact on your success. According to one study, 73 percent of businesses that suffer a disaster are out of business within three years. Forty-three percent don't even survive the first year!

Following a disaster of any type or size, it is anything but “business as usual” for you, your employees and customers. But the faster you can return your business to some level of normal operations, the quicker you can restore income, jobs and the goods and services your customers have come to depend on from you.

According to EMC Senior Vice President Don Klemme, a business recovery plan should address issues relating to physical plant, information technology systems and business processes. Klemme not only chaired the committee that revised EMC’s business recovery plan, but is constantly reviewing and updating that plan.

Like most sensible business recovery plans, EMC’s planning process included the following crucial components:

  • Identifying the risks associated with potential types of disasters and events.
  • Quantifying and qualifying the business impact result from the identified risks and events.
  • Defining critical business processes.
  • Designing recovery strategies which address everything from computer systems to alternate facility sites, staffing needs to vendor activities.
  • Detailing a plan specific to the company's needs.

“Developing a business recovery plan will give you a better chance of minimizing deaths, injuries and illnesses, reducing property damage and accelerating business recovery,” notes Klemme. “Crucial to the plan’s success is discussing it with your staff and providing training and periodic testing to ensure the effectiveness of the plan.”

Having been involved in the development of EMC’s business recovery plan, as well as plans for numerous other companies and organizations, EMC’s risk improvement professionals are ready to share their knowledge and experience with you and your EMC agent.

Although automated defibrillation can help save a life, it is not the first action to take when someone has suffered cardiac arrest. Follow these steps:

  1. Call or have someone call 911 for emergency medical personnel.
  2. Administer CPR.
  3. If available, utilize defibrillation.
  4. When paramedics arrive, allow them to assume life support procedures and transport the victim to the hospital.

If you’re thinking about purchasing an automated external defibrillator (AED), consider the following features:

  • Ease of use — Some AEDs are equipped with one-button operation and a voice prompt system to guide operators through the rescue process.
  • Preconnected non-polarized electrodes — This feature simplifies placement of electrodes in the heat of the moment.
  • Self-testing — Some AEDs monitor their status on a daily basis, ensuring that electrodes, batteries and internal circuitry are ready for use.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration recently unveiled a comprehensive plan designed to reduce ergonomic injuries through a combination of industry-targeted guidelines, tough enforcement measures, workplace outreach, and advanced research. There will also be dedicated efforts to protect Hispanic and other immigrant workers. “Our goal is to help workers by reducing ergonomic injuries in the shortest possible time frame,” said Labor Secretary Elaine L. Chao. “This plan is a major improvement over the rejected old rule because it will prevent ergonomic injuries before they occur and reach a much larger number of at-risk workers.”

Occupational Safety and Health Administrator John Henshaw said his agency will immediately begin work on developing industry and task-specific guidelines to reduce and prevent ergonomic injuries, often called musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs), that occur in the workplace. OSHA expects to begin releasing guidelines ready for application in selected industries this year. OSHA will also encourage other businesses and industries to immediately develop additional guidelines of their own.

Enforcing The Plan
The Labor Department's plan will crack down on bad actors by coordinating inspections with a legal strategy designed for successful prosecution. OSHA will conduct inspections and issue citations under the general duty clause, and follow up 12 months later.

Providing Compliance Assistance
The new ergonomics plan also calls for compliance assistance tools to help employees reduce and prevent ergonomic injuries. OSHA will provide specialized training and information on guidelines and the implementation of successful ergonomics programs. It will also administer targeted training grants, develop compliance assistance tools, forge partnerships, and create a recognition program to highlight successful ergonomics injury reduction efforts.

Reaching Out To Hispanic Workers
As part of the Department of Labor's cross-agency commitment to protecting immigrant workers, especially those with limited English proficiency, the new ergonomics plan includes a specialized focus to help Hispanic and other immigrant workers, many of whom work in industries with high ergonomic hazard rates.

Ongoing Ergonomics Research
According to the new plan, OSHA and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health will stimulate and encourage needed research in the area of ergonomics. “Bureau of Labor Statistics’ data show that musculoskeletal disorders are already on the decline. This plan is designed to accelerate that decline as quickly as possible,” said OSHA Administrator John Henshaw. “Thousands of employers are already working to reduce ergonomic risks without government mandates. We want to work with them to continuously improve workplace safety and health.”

The new plan was announced barely a year after Republicans and Democrats in Congress rejected the previous Administration’s rule, which was developed over a period of eight years and was broadly denounced as being excessively burdensome and complicated. Over the course of the last year, the Department of Labor conducted three major public forums around the country and met with scores of stakeholders, collecting hundreds of sets of written comments and taking testimony from 100 speakers, including organized labor, workers, medical experts, and businesses. More details can be found at www.osha.gov. Your local independent agent can put you in contact with and EMC Loss Control professional to assist you with your ergonomic needs.

NEW SECTIONS ADDED TO ONLINE LOSS PREVENTION INFORMATION MANUAL

Electrical Safety, Machine Safeguarding and Walking-Working Surfaces are the newest sections available in Policyholder Information & Services.

REPORTING HAZARDOUS COMPANY PRODUCTS

The courts have affirmed that companies must report immediately to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission information that their products could cause injury or death.

SAFER PROPANE TANKS

As of April 1, 2002, all propane gas tanks sold to consumers for barbecue grills must have a new overfill protection device to help avoid propane leaks that can cause fires and explosions.

Spring 2002