Summer 2005 Volume 28
Lightning Safety Feature Articles
Summer is the peak season for one of the nation’s deadliest weather phenomena — lightning. This issue of Insights offers some valuable tips for protecting yourself, your employees and your property from the effects of lightning.
It happens in a flash — literally! Lightning strikes and the results can be devastating. In the United States, an average of 67 people are killed each year by lightning. Many more are struck but survive. Lightning hurts more than people, however. It can hurt the bottom line of a company that suffers a fire, power surge or other types of losses associated with lightning. According to EMC Engineering Services Manager Bryon Snethen, the company has an average of over 1,100 property- related lightning claims per year. Fortunately, many lightning casualties and property losses can be easily, quickly and inexpensively avoided through a few simple safety procedures. While none of these procedures can guarantee perfect safety, following the five guidelines of the Lightning Safety Group will help to avoid the large majority of injuries.
The most important principle of lightning safety is that no place outside is safe when thunderstorms are within six miles of your location.
Schedule Outdoor Activities
In any safety procedure, avoiding the risk is best. Plan ahead and schedule your outdoor activities to avoid the lightning threat. Watch the weather forecasts and know your local weather patterns. Forecasts are available from the local National Weather Service office.
Follow The 30-30 Rule
When you see lightning, count the time until you hear its thunder. If this time is 30 seconds or less, go inside. While inside, stay away from corded telephones, electrical appliances and wiring, and plumbing. Stay inside until 30 minutes after the last thunder. If you can't get to a proper building, a vehicle with a solid metal roof and metal sides offers some protection.
If you can't see lightning, just hearing the thunder is a good back-up rule for going inside. With 30 seconds between lightning and thunder, you are already in danger, so allow enough time to get to safety.
Avoid The Most Dangerous Locations
If you can't get to a proper lightning shelter and have to be outside, avoid the most dangerous locations and activities. These include:
- Elevated locations and open areas.
- Tall isolated objects like trees and flagpoles.
- Water-related activities.
- Open vehicles like golf carts and construction vehicles.
- Unprotected open buildings like rain shelters and bus stops.
The Lightning Crouch
Only use this crouch as a desperate last resort. Put your feet together, squat down, tuck your head, and cover your ears. If you are in a group, spread out so there are several body lengths between each person. Remember, this a last resort only!
All deaths from lightning are the result of cardiac arrest or respiratory arrest from the cardiac arrest. Start CPR rescue breathing if the person has no pulse or is not breathing, respectively. Have someone call 911 for professional emergency medical care.
Lightning is a serious danger, so be sure you and your employees are aware of the steps they can take to reduce the risk of being struck by its deadly force. For additional information, visit www.lightningsafety.noaa.gov.
|Myth:||If it isn’t raining, there is no longer a danger from lightning.|
|Fact:||Lightning often strikes outside of heavy rain and may occur as far as 10 miles from any rainfall.|
|Myth:||The rubber soles of shoes or rubber tires on a car will protect you from being struck by lightning.|
|Fact:||Rubber soles and rubber tires provide NO protection.|
|Myth:||“Heat lightning” occurs after a very hot summer day and poses no threat.|
|Fact:||“Heat lightning” is actually lightning from a thunderstorm too far away for thunder to be heard; however, the storm may be heading in your direction.|
The function of lightning rods/air terminals is frequently misunderstood. They do not attract, repel or prevent lightning, nor do they significantly increase or decrease the chances of a lightning strike. Rather, they give a preferred point of attachment for lightning that was going to strike within a few tens of yards anyway. The intercepted lightning then follows a metal cable, the “down conductor,” to the ground where it is dissipated in the soil.
People inside buildings with lightning rods must still obey the indoor lightning safety rules. The down conductor can induce secondary electric currents in wiring or metal pipes nearby in roofs or walls.
Fact one - lightning storms are on the increase globally. Fact two - today’s businesses rely on more electronic equipment than ever before. Just imagine what happens when these two facts collide. A direct lightning strike can cause an enormous amount of physical damage. However, the indirect effect from a nearby strike can also cause damage by inducing voltage surges onto power and data cables.
When lightning strikes the ground near a building it causes a massive rise in ground voltage in the vicinity. This rise in ground voltage is conducted back through buried pipes into the building where it can travel through the electrical system creating havoc along its path. Often referred to as spikes, over voltage, or transients, these surges have been reported to cause everything from data loss to the total destruction of equipment.
Two ways to prevent surge damage
According to Alliant Energy, the best way to protect against power surges is to invest in high-quality surge protection. You should use both a meter-based or circuit-panel based surge suppressor and several point-of-use suppressors.
- Meter or circuit panel-based surge protectors block large external surges that travel through power lines. Both kinds of protection require professional installation.
- Point-of-use surge suppressors absorb internal surges that originate inside your business or come through telephone or cable lines. These are the surge protectors that you directly plug your electronic equipment into.
Beware of everyday surges, too
True, big surges during a storm can destroy a piece of equipment, but a more common form of damage is electronic rust. Over time, small everyday surges can quietly degrade the internal circuitry of electronic equipment. You may not even notice the damage until the equipment fails to work. Consider the fact that the average business experiences more than 25 of these small power surges each day — 9,000 a year — and you can quickly understand the reason for protecting your business in rain or shine.
How To Tell A Surge Protector From A Power Strip
A true surge protector should include the following:
- UL-1449 second edition rated
- Ground indicator light
- Price tag of $20 to $150.
- Let-through voltage (clamping voltage) of 330 or less
Did You Know?
The cost of work injuries — $156.2 billion — is equivalent to:
- 36 cents of every dollar of corporate dividends to stockholders;
- 18 cents of every dollar of pre-tax corporate profits;
- exceeds the combined profits reported by the top Fortune 500 companies.
Source: National Safety Council, 2004
Automatic fire sprinklers are recognized as the single most effective method for fighting the spread of fires in their early stages, before they can cause severe injury to people and major damage to property. According to the National Fire Protection Association, when sprinklers are present, the chances of dying in a fire and the average property loss per fire are both cut by one-half to one-third, compared to fires where sprinklers are not present.
For your sprinkler systems to offer this level of protection, they must be properly designed, installed and maintained. Employing state-of-the-art computer software, EMC’s engineers can analyze the performance of your existing sprinkler system and provide installation guidelines for new systems. We’ll even train our personnel on procedures to inspect and test the system on a regular basis.
Sprinkler system analysis is another reason why you can Count on EMC to help protect what you have worked so hard to achieve.
Before you send an employee out to mow the grounds around your building, take a minute to review these lawn mower equipment safety tips. The National Safety Council estimates that over 76,000 people require emergency room treatment every year because of an injury due to a garden tractor or lawnmower. Many of these accidents result in severe lacerations and often amputations.
Here are some helpful tips from the Texas Workers’ Compensation Commission to ensure that your workers are safe when you ask them to handle the mowing.
Before Starting The Mower
- Know the mower. Make sure anyone operating the mower is familiar with the equipment’s owner's manual and knows how to shut it off in an emergency situation.
- Remove all debris from the lawn before you begin mowing.
- Leave all safety features alone. Do not try to alter the mower.
Starting & Refueling The Mower
- Always start the mower outdoors -- not in a shed or garage where carbon monoxide can build up.
- Never refuel the mower while the engine is hot. Take a break while the engine cools off.
- Keep hands and feet away from the mower blades while it is running. If the discharge chute clogs or the grass catcher is full, stop the engine before attempting to clear the clog or empty the grass catcher.
- Never cross driveways or paths while the blade is rotating. The blade on the mower can throw rocks from underneath and cause injury.
- If possible, mow during the day in dry conditions.
- Never mow across a hill, mow up and down it instead.
- Never leave a running mower unattended.
- Stop the engine before adjusting the wheels of the mower.
- Do not walk backwards while pulling the mower toward you. If you trip, the mower could end on top of your feet or legs.
- When working on equipment with blade guards removed, take out spark plug and ground the spark plug wire to prevent accidental engine start.
Note: Videos on the safe operation of lawn and landscaping equipment can be obtained from EMC’s safety video lending library.
Dress For Safety
- Wear close-fitting clothes, long pants or slacks and closed-toe shoes with traction soles. Do not operate any power equipment while barefoot or when wearing thongs or sandals.
- Loose clothing, scarves, dangling jewelry and untucked shirt tails can snag on controls or get caught in moving parts.
- Protect your eyes with safety glasses or goggles and your ears with earplugs.
- Wear gloves to service or adjust equipment, especially when working on blades.
Lawn mowers are not the only piece of equipment that can cause injuries. Power-line trimmers are another source of summertime accidents. Follow these precautions when using power-line trimmers.
- Read the operator’s manual and get proper instruction before operating a trimmer.
- Never operate a trimmer with the guard removed.
- Clear the work area of objects, sticks, rocks, wire, etc. before starting work.
- Clear the work area of people and animals for a radius of approximately 35 feet around the operator.
- Always wear eye protection.
- Keep the cutting line or blade away from your feet and legs.
- Position the trimmer away from your body to avoid contact with the muffler or other hot engine parts.
- Move the trimmer in a sweeping motion away from your body.
- Refuel equipment outside and only after it has cooled down.
Working in hot environments can be dangerous, but taking simple precautions can prevent many heat-related deaths and injuries.
The two most serious forms of heat-related illnesses are heat exhaustion (primarily from dehydration) and heat stroke, which could be fatal.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration offers the following tips for working safely in hot conditions:
- Train all workers and supervisors to recognize and treat the signs of heat stress.
- Consider a worker’s physical condition when determining fitness to work in hot environments.
- Help workers adjust to the heat by assigning a lighter workload and longer rest periods for the first 5 to 7 days of intense heat. This process needs to start all over again when a worker returns from vacation or absence from the job.
- Encourage workers to drink plenty of water, about one cup of cool water every 15 to 20 minutes, even if they are not thirsty, and to avoid alcohol, coffee, tea, and caffeinated soft drinks that dehydrate the body.
- Encourage workers to wear lightweight, light-colored, loose-fitting clothing.
- Use general ventilation and spot cooling at points of high heat production. Good airflow increases evaporation and cooling of the skin.
- Schedule heavy work for cooler times of the day and use appropriate protective clothing.
- Monitor temperatures, humidity, and workers' responses to heat at least hourly.
OSHA’s Heat Stress Card in English or Spanish is available on OSHA’s website. For copies of the laminated card, available without charge, call OSHA Publications (202) 693-1888 or write to: U.S. Department of Labor/OSHA, OSHA Publications, P.O. Box 37535 Washington, D.C. 20013-7535.
Prevention of work-related roadway crashes poses one of the greatest challenges in occupational safety. To address that challenge, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) recently issued a final rule imposing mandatory training for entry-level drivers* of heavy trucks, motor coaches and school buses.
Scheduled to take effect on July 20, 2005, the new rule cites fatigue management as one example of what should be included in mandatory hours of service training. Driver wellness is another entry-level training topic.
According to FMCSA, driver wellness provides medical information so that drivers can make informed lifestyle choices. Specific training topics could include stress, sleep apnea, diet and exercise. Many of these items could be combined with the driver qualification training requirements that require a doctor to inquire about and test for numerous physical conditions.
FMCSA stresses that fatigue management and wellness training does not require drivers to self disclose personal medical information to anyone.
* Entry-level refers to someone with less than two years’ experience operating a vehicle that requires a commercial driver’s license. Drivers with a year’s experience who have good driving records are exempt from the training.
Answer the following true or false questions to determine how well-informed you are about driver fatigue and sleep deprivation. (Answers below)
- Coffee overcomes the effects of drowsiness while driving.
- Rolling down my window or singing along with the radio will keep me awake.
- You can stockpile sleep on the weekends.
- Most adults need at least seven hours of sleep each night.
- Being sleepy makes you misperceive things.
- A microsleep lasts four or five seconds.
ANSWERS: 1. FALSE. Stimulants are no substitute for sleep. 2. FALSE. An open window or the radio has no lasting effect on a persons ability to stay awake. 3. FALSE. Sleep is not money. You can't save it up ahead of time and you can't borrow it. 4. TRUE. The average person needs seven or eight hours of sleep a night. 5. TRUE. One of the warning signs of a drowsy driver is misjudging surroundings. 6. TRUE. During a “microsleep” of four or five seconds, a car can travel 100 yards, plenty of time to cause a serious crash.
[Courtesy of FMCSA]
Golf carts aren’t just for recreation anymore! Their size, maneuverability and ease of operation makes them an ideal means of transportation in numerous settings, including manufacturing, grounds keeping, maintenance and security.
Because OSHA does not consider these electric carts powered industrial trucks, operators do not have to be trained according to any specified standards. J.J. Keller & Associates, the nation’s leading supplier of safety and regulatory compliance solutions for transportation, manufacturing, construction, human resources, security and general industry, offers the following guidelines for golf cart operators.
- Drivers and passengers must remain seated while the vehicle is moving.
- At no time may the number of passengers exceed the number of available seats.
- Towing is allowed only with those golf carts designed specifically for towing.
- Operators must reduce speed when turning or passing through doorways.
- Carts should not be parked where they will block emergency equipment, pedestrian aisles, doorways, intersections or the normal traffic flow.
- Recharge carts in designated charging areas.
- Inspect the vehicle prior to use (at least daily), checking tires, steering, gears and brakes.
- Turn off the vehicle and remove the keys whenever you get out of the vehicle.
Golf Cart Tips For Supervisors
- All operators of electric golf carts should be trained and authorized prior to using vehicles.
- Leased workers, student learners, trainees and visitors should be prohibited from operating golf carts.
- Golf carts approved for indoor use must be used only within a facility. Golf carts designated for outdoor use must be used out of doors and may not be used within a facility.
- Remember to write a company policy regarding the use of golf carts.
The American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air-Conditioning Engineers has new standards for operating equipment and systems to assure their safety. For more information, visit www.ashrae.org.
LIFE JACKET DEPLOYMENT STANDARD UPGRADE
According to OSHA, life jackets or buoyant work vests are required on construction sites even where employees are working over water that is less than two feet deep. For details, visit www.osha.gov.
NEW HEAD RESTRAINT RULE
A new rule introduced by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration requires head restraints to be higher and positioned closer to the head. To view the final rule, visit www.nhtsa.gov.
FINAL CHILD LABOR RULES
New rules from the U.S. Department of Labor restricting the types of duties that may be performed by young workers went into effect on March 15, 2005. More information is available at www.youthrules.dol.gov.
Imagine a construction site without electrical power. Nothing would get done. Today, electricity is often taken for granted as part of the job. So much so, it is often treated without the respect it deserves. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), safety and health programs must address electrical incidents and the variety of ways electricity can become a hazard.
OSHA has identified five hazards as the most frequent cause of electrical injuries at construction sites.
Contact With Power Lines
Overhead and buried power lines at your site are especially hazardous because they carry extremely high voltage. Fatal electrocution is the main risk, but burns and falls from elevation are also hazards. Using tools and equipment that can contact power lines increases the risk.
Lack of Ground-Fault Protection
Due to the dynamic, rugged nature of construction work, normal use of electrical equipment at your site causes wear and tear that results in insulation breaks, short-circuits, and exposed wires. If there is no ground-fault protection, these can cause a ground-fault that sends current through the worker’s body, resulting in electrical burns, explosions, fire, or death.
Path To Ground Missing Or Disconnected
If the power supply to the electrical equipment at your site is not grounded or the path has been broken, faulty current may travel through a worker's body, causing electrical burns or death. Even when the power system is properly grounded, electrical equipment can instantly change from safe to hazardous because of extreme conditions and rough treatment.
Equipment Not Used In The Manner Prescribed
If electrical equipment is used in ways for which it is not designed, you can no longer depend on safety features built in by the manufacturer. This may damage your equipment and cause employee injuries. Common examples of misused equipment include: using multi-receptacle boxes designed to be mounted, fitting them with a power cord and placing them on the floor; using equipment outdoors that is labeled for use only in dry, indoor locations; and attaching ungrounded, two-prong adapter plugs to three-prong cords and tools.
Improper Use of Extension and Flexible Cords
The normal wear and tear on extension and flexible cords at your site can loosen or expose wires, creating hazardous conditions. Cords that are not three-wire type, not designed for hard-usage, or that have been modified, increase your risk of contacting electrical current.
First Aid: Electrical Accidents
- Disconnect the appliances or turn off the power if a person is undergoing electric shock.
- If you can't turn off the power, use a piece of wood, like a broom handle, dry rope or dry clothing, to separate the victim from the power source.
- Never touch a person under-going electric shock or you too could become a victim.
- Cover associated electric shock burns with a dry sterile dressing only.
- Call for emergency help. Keep the victim lying down.
- Unconscious victims should be placed on their side to allow drainage of fluids. Do not move the victim if there is a suspicion of neck or spinal injuries unless absolutely necessary.
Use this checklist to help ensure employees at your construction site are protected from electrical hazards that could result in injuries.
- Are all employees required to report any obvious hazard with electrical equipment or lines?
- Are employees instructed to make preliminary inspections and/or appropriate tests to determine what conditions exist before starting work on electrical equipment or lines?
- When electrical equipment or lines are to be serviced, maintained or adjusted, are necessary switches opened, locked out and tagged whenever possible?
- Are portable electric tools and equipment grounded or of the double insulated type?
- Are multiple plug adapters prohibited?
- Are ground-fault circuit interrupters installed on each temporary 15 or 20 ampere, 120 volt AC circuit at locations where construction, demolition, modifications, alterations or excavations are being performed?
- Are all temporary circuits protected by suitable disconnecting switches or plug connectors at the junction with permanent wiring?
- Are exposed wiring and cords with frayed and deteriorated insulation repaired or replaced promptly?
- In wet or damp locations, are electrical tools and equipment appropriate for the use or locations or otherwise protected?
- Is the use of metal ladders prohibited in areas where the ladder or person using the ladder could come in contact with energized parts of equipment, fixtures or circuit conductors?
These are just a few of the many tips that originally appeared in Occupation Health & Safety News, one of several newsletters offered by Stevens Publishing, Dallas, TX. For the complete checklist, visit www.stevenspublishing.com.
Did you know? Approximately 350 electrical-related fatalities occur each year
First the Good News
Chlorine is one of the most effective and economical germ killers your community can use to destroy and deactivate a wide range of dangerous germs in everything from municipal swimming pools to your water system. For more than 150 years, chlorine has been one of society’s most potent weapons against a wide array of threatening infections, viruses and bacteria.
Now the Bad News
Despite its ability to protect us from germs, chlorine presents some serious health and safety risks. For instance, exposure to chlorine gas, can result in respiratory problems. Liquid chlorine in contact with skin or eyes will cause chemical burns and/or frostbite. In addition to being highly corrosive, chlorine can react explosively at times with a number of organic materials such as oil and grease.
Turning Bad News Into Good News
By properly training your personnel, the risks associated with using chlorine can be minimized. Share the safety tips on this page with all workers involved in swimming pool maintenance, as well as those who work in your water treatment plant.
First Aid: Chlorine Inhalation
Exposure to a sufficient concentration of chlorine irritates mucous membranes, the respiratory tract and eyes. In extreme cases, difficulty in breathing may increase to the point where death can occur from respiratory collapse or lung failure. If someone on your crew is exhibiting these symptoms, prompt action is essential.
- Move the person to fresh air and summon medical assistance immediately.
- If breathing has ceased, begin artificial respiration.
- Trained personnel should administer oxygen as soon as possible.
- If the person is breathing, he/she should be placed in a comfortable position, either seated in a chair or, in severe cases, lying down with the head and upper body elevated to a 45 to 60 degree angle.
- Encourage the person to take slow, deep, regular breaths.
- Keep the person warm and at rest.
5 Chemical Safety Tips For Pools
5 Basic Safety Tips For Water Treatment Plants
|For more information about the effects of chlorine and preventing accidents, visit www.chlorineinstitute.org.|
When gas prices increase, many gasoline retailers report an increase in gasoline theft, or “drive-offs.” Here are some ideas from the National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS) on ways you can reduce the likelihood of drive-offs at your operation.
The problem of gasoline theft can be addressed by mandating prepay - but it comes at a cost
Requiring customers to prepay for their fuel would virtually eliminate the problem of gasoline theft. However, consumers wanting convenience will usually choose to go to another retailer that does not require prepay. Besides the risk of losing customers, there is also the loss of additional product sales as customers do not have to go back in the store for change. Despite these issues, many retailers require prepay for certain pumps or certain hours.
If not prepay, then what?
Here are what some stores do to stop gasoline theft.
- Increase sales associate training so employees actively monitor the gasoline islands.
- Greet all customers by intercom or in person at the gasoline island.
- Install cameras at gasoline islands.
- Work closely with authorities to prosecute gas thieves.
- Check with your state association to see if pump decals informing customers of penalties for gasoline theft are available.
Report all drive-offs
Don’t just put up with drive-offs. If gasoline theft does occur:
- Get a description of the car and license plate number.
- Get a description of the driver and any passengers.
- Call the police.
- Nationwide, gasoline theft costs the convenience store industry an estimated $112 million in 2003.
- The average loss per store was $1,709 in 2003.
- Gasoline theft tends to be more of a problem in densely populated metropolitan areas, and near interstates. In these areas retailers are reporting losses as great as $800 per store per month.
- Just as the frequency of gasoline theft increases, so does the amount of gasoline stolen. With higher prices, the loss from just one gasoline theft is often $20 to $30 or even higher when it’s an SUV.
- Some convenience stores can experience two to three gasoline drive-offs a day.
- Gasoline theft used to be associated with teenagers taking a few dollars of gasoline for a thrill. Today, the problem of theft is across all demographics, and the cars involved with the crime are everything from “junkers” to late-model SUVs.
While teachers are safely demonstrating the effects of chemical reactions in the classroom, dangerous chemical reactions could be taking place throughout your school.
Between 1980 and 2002, 167 accidents were recorded nationwide involving shock-sensitive chemicals, in which 108 people were killed. Shock-sensitive chemicals have the potential to undergo a rapid reaction that may be violent enough to produce an explosive reaction. Some chemicals are shock-sensitive by nature. Others become shock-sensitive by drying, decomposition or slow reactions with oxygen, nitrogen or the container.
Shock-sensitive chemicals may explode with movement, friction or heat. This hazard is noted on the Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS). The Department of Energy provides the following guidelines for safe management of shock-sensitive chemicals.
- If you find shock-sensitive chemicals that are outdated or suspect, immediately notify your supervisor or safety and health department; do not touch or move the object in question.
- Always follow approved work procedures and hazard controls.
- Protect chemicals from shock, friction and heat.
- Study the chemical’s MSDS and label, looking for information on reactivity, stability and hazards.
- Always use appropriate personal protective equipment when handling shock-sensitive chemicals.
- Add labeling that includes the date received, date opened, responsible person, expiration date and other appropriate data.
- Adhere to the manufacturer's recommendations for storage.
- Maintain a current shock-sensitive chemical inventory to track locations and inspection dates.
- Establish criteria and procedures for the safe and timely disposal of shock-sensitive chemicals.
Safe working environments at facilities that use or store shock sensitive chemicals can be enhanced by an effective life-cycle management system that includes the following basic elements:
- Shock-sensitive chemicals should be kept to a minimum by maintaining proper inventory consistent with the rate of use.
- Inventory control is also important in order to dispose of chemicals that tend to form unstable materials with age, such as ethers, or materials that become dangerous when they become dehydrated, such as perchloric and picric acids.
- Shock-sensitive materials should be stored in a cool, dry area, protected from heat and shock.
- During storage, the materials should be segregated from incompatible materials, including flammables and corrosives.
- Materials that are used specifically because of their explosive properties should be treated as an explosive of the appropriate class and kept in a magazine or the equivalent.
|Where Will You Find Dangerous Chemicals In Schools|
|In addition to shock-sensitive chemicals, you’ll find
common chemical hazards in and around schools in the following locations: