Summer 2004 Volume 24

Feature Articles

Working outdoors presents some unique challenges. But working outdoors in the summer poses special hazards for workers who must protect themselves against heat, sun exposure, and other risks. The following tips from OSHA and other sources will help your employees be summer survivors.

Block The Rays
Sunlight contains ultraviolet radiation (UV) which causes premature aging of the skin, wrinkles, cataracts and skin cancer. Here are some ways you can block those rays:

  • Wear tightly woven clothing that you can’t see through.
  • Apply sunscreen with a sun protection factor of at least 15.
  • Wear a wide brimmed hat, not a baseball cap. Brimmed hats work best because they protect more of your face, head and neck.
  • Check the label on sunglasses to make certain they are UV absorbent.
  • Remember, UV rays are most intense between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.

Beat The Heat
The combination of heat and humidity can be a serious health threat during the summer months. So take these precautions:

  • Drink plenty of water before you get thirsty.
  • Wear light, loose-fitting, breathable clothing.
  • Take frequent short breaks in the shade.
  • Avoid caffeine, alcohol, and large amounts of sugar.
  • Find out from your healthcare provider if medications can be effected by working in high heat.
  • Understand that equipment such as respirators or work suits can increase heat stress.

Protect Teen Workers This Summer
As the summer hiring season begins, we encourage all employers to help protect teen and temporary workers by making job safety a top priority. According to the National Institution for Occupational Safety and Health, teens are twice as likely to suffer a workplace injury as adults.

OSHA offers the following teen worker safety tips:

  • Provide training to ensure that teens recognize hazards and are competent in safe work practices.
  • Stress safety, particularly among first-line supervisors; they have the greatest opportunity to influence teens and their work habits.
  • Implement a mentoring or buddy system for new teen workers.
  • Encourage teens to ask questions about tasks or procedures that are unclear or not understood.
  • Be mindful of the unique aspects of communicating with teens.
  • Ensure that equipment operated by teens is both legal and safe for them to use.

Stop The Bite
Illnesses caused by insects include Lyme Disease and West Nile Virus. If you are working in wooded and damp areas or during evening hours, take these precautions to avoid being bitten:

  • Wear long sleeves and tuck pant legs into socks or boots.
  • Wear high boots or closed shoes that cover your feet completely.
  • Wear a hat.
  • Use insect repellent.
  • Shower after work.

Watch for signs of heat-related illnesses and know what actions you can take to keep yourself and others healthy all summer long.

Symptoms

Heat Rash

Intensely itching skin, tiny bumps surrounded by red skin, usually occurs on clothed parts of body.

Treatments Cool body in air-conditioned room or with a fan. Take a cool shower or bath and let skin air dry. Apply Calamine lotion. If bumps do not go away within a few days, consult a physician.
Symptoms

Heat Cramps

Muscle spasms usually affect the arms, legs, or stomach. Frequently occur after work, at night, or when relaxing.

Treatments Drink electrolyte solutions such as sports drinks during the day and eat more fruits, like bananas.
Symptoms

Heat Exhaustion

Heavy sweating, paleness, muscle cramps, dizziness, headache, nausea or vomiting, fainting.

Treatments Drink cool, non-alcoholic beverages. Take a cool shower or bath. Wear lightweight clothes. If symptoms are severe, consult a physician.
Symptoms

Heat Stroke

Extremely high body temperature (103 degrees or higher), red, hot and dry skin, rapid pulse, throbbing headache, dizziness, nausea and vomiting, confusion, unconsciousness.

Treatments Get victim to shady area. Cool victim immediately. Do not allow victim to drink anything. Get medical assistance as soon as possible.

Don’t wait for a heat wave to service your air conditioning system. Do it now, because problems often occur when the system is first switched on or is stressed by soaring summer temperatures. Data from Hartford Steam Boiler shows that on average almost 70 percent of all commercial air conditioning breakdown claims occur between April and August, with one-third of those claims coming in June and July.

What can you do to avoid these costly breakdowns and disruptions to your business?

  • Change filters frequently.
  • Keep the area around the outdoor compressor free from obstructions.
  • Perform preseason and ongoing inspection and maintenance of compressors, motors and motor controls, operating and safety controls, and other parts of your system.

Hartford Steam Boiler also recommends you have a written plan in case the equipment breaks down. Your plan should include information such as names and phone numbers of key personnel, equipment vendors, and repair contractors.

Play it cool all summer long by taking these steps to reduce the likelihood of air conditioner breakdowns.

Mold

What is a growing risk your commercial building faces? Mold. For starters, mold can grow on virtually any substance and when it grows inside your building it can lead to costly structural and air quality problems. Mold is also a growing concern for the commercial facilities managers who are seeing a significant increase in the volume and value of litigation involving mold.

According to EMC Environmental Health Services Manager Denny Lamport, controlling moisture can prevent mold and contain the structural, health, and legal problems associated with its growth. “Moisture can be controlled by repairing plumbing leaks, leaks in building structures, and other sources of moisture intrusion as soon as possible,” advises Denny. He also recommends venting moisture-generating appliances and exhaust fans to the exterior of buildings and keeping HVAC and refrigerator drip pans clean and free flowing to further reduce moisture accumulation.

In the event mold becomes a problem for you, Denny suggests a three-step mold remediation process.

Step 1:

Eliminate the source of moisture that mold needs to survive.

Step 2:

Clean all visible indoor mold immediately after it is discovered. HEPA vacuum the surface, then scrub the mold off hard surfaces with detergent and water. Dry the surface completely. Absorbent or porous surfaces and materials may have to be discarded. Do not paint or caulk moldy surfaces until they have been completely cleaned. Avoid mold exposure during cleaning activities by wearing an N95 filtering face mask and gloves.

Step 3:

After cleaning is complete, revisit the remediated area to check for signs of moisture or water intrusion and visible mold.

If the mold growth is extensive, Denny recommends contacting a professional experienced in mold remediation. “Mold is a serious issue with serious implications and must be handled appropriately,” warns Denny.

For additional information on mold, Denny suggests the following website: www.epa.gov/mold/mold_remediation.html. Your EMC agent can also connect you with EMC Risk Improvement professionals who can help you identify, prevent and remediate mold growth in your buildings.

Spring cleaning isn’t just for home anymore. Facilities managers across the country are making use of springtime weather to make certain their buildings and grounds are ready for next season.

Roof Inspections — Now that you don’t have to worry about snow and ice, it’s a perfect time to conduct a roof inspection. Fall and winter weather can be tough on roofs and an inspection will assure that there are no leaks, standing water, debris or other problems that can lead to more serious issues for your facilities.

Sidewalk and Parking Lot Inspections — Reduce the likelihood of slips and falls by closely examining the condition of your sidewalks and parking lots. Repair uneven and irregular surfaces, holes, and other abnormalities that might lead to accidents.

Landscaping Inspections — Are retaining walls and stones secure? Have fences withstood the trials and tribulations of winter storms? Are walking paths clear of debris? Often, it’s the little things that can cause big problems.

Playground Inspections — Before the kids hit the playground equipment, you should hit it hard to make certain everything is in safe and working order. For a 10-point playground safety checklist, visit www.cpsc.gov.

Take advantage of the springtime weather to make certain your buildings and grounds are ready for action all spring and summer long.

Safety Signs

These are just a few of the more than 240 safety signs you can order free of charge from EMC’s website. From warning to danger signs, restriction to caution signs, EMC has created just about every type of safety sign needed.*

To view the entire catalog of signs click on Safety Signs in the Loss Control section of EMC’s website. These 8.5” by 11” signs are available as laminated signs, which are recommended for dirtier environments, or on coated paper. You can request as many as 25 signs per order. Your order will be sent to your business absolutely free of charge within 7 to 10 working days.

Count on EMC to help keep your workplace safe with a full array of safety signs.

* In the event you can’t find the sign you need, you can special order a sign by contacting Home Office Risk Improvement.

Millions of dollars are spent by businesses every year as a result of lightning damage. Equipment destruction, fire damage, production and inventory loss can all result from a single lightning strike. In addition to property and equipment loss, lightning damage to robotics, communication lines, computer equipment, and security systems can result in extended downtime for your company. Protecting people and property are what lightning protection systems are all about.

According to the Lightning Protection Institute, a lightning protection system provides a designated path for the lightning current to travel. The system neither attracts nor repels a lightning strike, but simply intercepts and guides the current harmlessly to the ground. Such a system is made up of several components:

  • Air terminals — Often referred to as lightning rods, these slender rods should be installed on the roof at regular intervals as designated by industry standards.
  • Conductors — Aluminum or copper cables that interconnect the air terminal and other system components.
  • Ground Termination — Metal rods driven into the earth to guide the lightning current harmlessly to the ground.
  • Surge Arrestors and Suppressors — Devices installed in conjunction with a lightning protection system to protect electrical wiring, electronic systems, and equipment. These devices will also reduce damage from other voltage spikes.

State-of-the-art protection systems are a part of the structural design of commercial and public facilities worldwide and are designed to maximize protection of both property and life. Count on EMC to provide assistance with your lightning protection system.

Lightning By The Numbers

  • Packs between 35,000 to 40,000 amperes of current.
  • Can generate temperatures as high as 50,000 degrees Celsius.
  • Falls somewhere on the earth every second.
  • Travels as far as 40 miles.
  • Kills nearly 100 people each year in the U.S. and injures hundreds of others.
  • Causes billions of dollars in property damage each year in the U.S.

IOWA AND NORTH DAKOTA CHANGE LABOR LAW POSTERSx

Iowa and North Dakota have made changes to their labor law posters. Check with your state’s Department of Labor to make certain your posters contain the most recent changes.

INNOVATIVE SMOKE ALARM DESIGN GETS UL APPROVAL

Underwriters Laboratories has approved a new entrant to the smoke alarm market — the AngelEye PS-131. The PS-131 can be fitted in seconds between a ceiling light fixture and the bulb. The alarm's integral battery recharges every time the light is used, and only requires the light to be on for a total of two hours per week to remain fully charged. This completely eliminates the need to replace batteries. For more information, visit www.angeleye.com.

Contractors

Hoist

Look at most construction sites and chances are you'll find workers using hoists to lift and move heavy loads. Every year, the Bureau of Labor Statistics receives numerous reports of fatalities and injuries resulting from these types of devices. In most cases, investigations reveal that many of these accidents resulted from human error and could have been easily avoided had workers been trained in safe operating practices.

How safe are your hoisting operations? Realizing the need to educate construction and other industrial workers, the Oklahoma Department of Labor developed the following hoist safety self-inspection. We encourage you to ask your site supervisors to answer the following questions and make the necessary adjustments to reduce the likelihood of hoist accidents.

Hoist Questions

Local Governments

Garbage Truck

What’s one of the most dangerous jobs in your community? Police officer? Firefighter? According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, refuse collection is a “high-hazard” job with a fatality rate 10 times that of all workers (46 deaths per 100,000 compared to 4.7 deaths per 100,000 for all U.S. workers). Of the total number of deaths reported by the refuse collection industry, more than half result from vehicular incidences.

To reduce the number of fatalities involving refuse collection vehicles, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) offers the following tips.

Riding Position

  • Collectors should ride in the vehicle cab when traveling to or between collection routes.
  • Riding steps should be used only when moving forward for short distances at slow speeds.
  • When the riding steps are in use, drivers and crew should be alert for poles, tree limbs, parked vehicles and tight clearances.

Boarding and Dismounting from the Riding Steps

  • Step, do not jump, on or off the riding steps.
  • Board or dismount only when the vehicle is completely stopped and the driver is aware of the collector’s location.

Safe Backing Procedures

  • Before backing, drivers should turn on the hazard lights, roll down the window, turn off all two-way radios, make sure no one is on the riding steps, and visually locate workers on foot.
  • Stop backing immediately if visual contact is lost with workers on foot.
  • Use a coworker as a spotter and use agreed upon hand signals to communicate with the spotter.
  • Ensure that the truck's backup alarm is working.

Clothing

  • Wear highly-visible colors.
  • Wear slip-resistant footwear.

By following the recommendations offered by NIOSH, you can make refuse collection safer while keeping your community clean.

Petroleum Marketers

Traffic

To reduce the impact of truck crashes on the nation's highway, “America’s Road Team,” a national public outreach program lead by professional truck drivers is spreading the word about highway safety. One of the primary messages this group is promoting is the use of seat belts, and rightfully so. In 2002, 588 commercial drivers died in crashes and of those, more than half were not wearing safety belts.

According to Norm Anderson, EMC Vice President of Risk Improvement, proper use of safety belts is just part of a much larger picture. “In order to reduce transportation related accidents, businesses should develop and implement a comprehensive fleet safety program.” Having worked with numerous companies of all types and sizes, EMC has established several key components of such a program.

Company Procedures — Procedures should include emergency response, contingency plans, discipline guidelines, and company expectations. These procedures and expectations should be communicated to all drivers when they are hired and throughout their career.

Driver Selection — Driver selection should include a thorough check of the applicant’s motor vehicle record, references, and previous employment. Job descriptions should be developed for all transportation positions and should include the company’s policies for minimum driver requirements, such as CDL licensing and a good driving history.

Driver Training — Training should include familiarization with state and local regulations, compliance with company safety procedures, “ride-alongs” for new drivers, and regular training. Re-training should include re-familiarization with company procedures, an update of regulatory changes, discussion of current issues, and a review of all accidents, incidents, and citations.

Performance Evaluations and MVR Checks — Check the MVRs of all drivers and evaluate each driver’s performance on an annual basis. All accidents, citations, and any other incidences involving company drivers should be immediately investigated and corrective action, such as refresher training, should be provided as needed.

Daily Routes Evaluation — Daily routes should be initially evaluated for hazards and re-evaluated annually thereafter. The evaluation should identify dangerous intersections, bridges and overpasses, construction, steep grades, and other potentially hazardous conditions. Plans to eliminate or reduce the hazards should be developed and implemented.

Special Trip Procedures — Special trip procedures should include rules for requesting the trip, using additional drivers, planning the route, and developing an emergency plan.

Vehicle Selection, Inspection and Maintenance — Safety features, such as crash protection, fire retardancy, and emergency equipment, should be considered before purchasing any vehicle. Drivers should perform and document daily vehicle inspections, and qualified maintenance personnel should fully inspect each vehicle on a regular basis.

If your company needs assistance in developing, and implementing a fleet safety plan that encompasses all these steps, contact your EMC agent. And in the meantime, please encourage your drivers to buckle up!

Schools

Bullying is not just a normal, if unpleasant, part of growing up, according to Federal researchers. Rather, children who bully other children appear to be at risk for engaging in more serious violent behaviors, such as frequent fighting and carrying a weapon. Moreover, victims of bullying are also at risk for engaging in violent behaviors.

BULLYING FACTS
  • Bullying is one of the most underreported,yet serious problems related to school safety today.
  • 160,000 students miss school every day because they are in fear of being bullied.
  • Teasing and bullying are ranked by students ages 8 to 15 as greater problems than racism, AIDS, or alcohol.

(Kaiser Family Foundations Study, 2001)

“It appears that bullying is not an isolated behavior, but a sign that children may be involved in more violent behaviors,” said Duane Alexander, M.D., Director of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD). “The implication is that children who bully other children may benefit from programs seeking to prevent not just bullying, but other violent behaviors as well.”

The research conducted by NICHD revealed some interesting insights into the incidence of bullying:

  • Boys across all age groups were more likely to be involved in bullying and violent behaviors than were girls.
  • Middle school grades (6th & 7th) have the highest rate of bullying.
  • Both children who bullied and their victims were more likely than youth who had never been involved in bullying to engage in violent behaviors themselves.
  • The association between bullying and other forms of violence was greatest for those who bullied others.
  • Boys who bullied others when they were away from school were at the greatest risk for engaging in violence-related behaviors.
  • Bullying occurring away from school grounds may be more severe than bullying at school, where there is adult supervision and more protection against violence.
  • The incidents of Cyber-Bullying, typically occuring outside of school, are increasing.

“Findings from this study suggest that programs designed to reduce violent behaviors should address less severe forms of aggressive behavior, particularly bullying,” the study authors wrote. “Bullying, as a behavior that is inflicted with the desire to harm another, seems to be an important marker for violence-related behaviors.” For the complete study, visit http://www.nichd.nih.gov.

Bullying Prevention Tips
According to the Kaiser Family Foundation Study (2001), teasing and bullying are ranked by students ages 8 to 15 as greater problems than racism, AIDS, or alcohol. What can your school do about it? The Center for The Study and Prevention of Violence at the University of Colorado at Boulder suggests the following tips for students, parents, and schools.

  • Establish a bullying prevention committee.
  • Create a long-term anti-bullying plan and raise school and community awareness and involvement.
  • Use student surveys to determine if there is a bullying problem.
  • Involve parents in planning, discussions, and action plans.
  • Establish district rules against bullying.
  • Create positive and negative consequences regarding bullying.
  • Initiate serious talks with bullies and victims of bullying.
Summer 2004