Spring 2008 Volume 39

Feature Articles

committee pic

Once a month, a group of employees at DEMCO, an Iowa-based manufacturer, complete a safety audit of a different department within the company. Their efforts have resulted in a safer workplace for all DEMCO employees. “That’s exactly the role a safety committee should play in an organization,” comments DEMCO Safety Manager Kevin Welch.

DEMCO’s experience demonstrates the benefits of having an active safety committee. These include reducing the number of workplace injuries and illnesses and their associated direct and indirect costs, increasing safety awareness throughout the workplace and complying with state safety committee laws.*

“Many factors contribute to the success of a safety committee,” explains Welch.

Get employer buy-in — Management must show its full support for the safety initiative by providing needed resources to the committee and considering the recommendations made by that committee. Without buy-in, safety committee members could easily lose their passion for safety.

Select the right people — Regardless of their tenure with the company, their work experience or their skill level, the best members are those who step forward and volunteer.

Organize the effort — Establish standard meeting times and set an agenda for each meeting. Sticking to that agenda prevents meetings from getting off track and wasting employees?valuable time.

There’s one more thing Welch recommends — “Count on EMC”. From safety committee forms to meeting tips, audio-visual materials to consulting services, EMC is a great resource to help you create and maintain a safety committee focused on improving workplace safety.

For more information about safety committees, click here.

* The following states require safety committees: Connecticut, Florida, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Oregon, Tennessee, Washington and West Virginia.

Over the years, there has been some confusion about whether or not employers are required to pay for personal protective equipment (PPE). A late 2007 ruling from OSHA settles the issue — employers must provide, at no cost to employees, almost all personal protective equipment when the PPE is used to comply with OSHA standards. This final rule applies to PPE related to head, face, eye, hand and foot protection, with the exception of nonspecialty safety-toe protective footwear or non-specialty prescription eyewear.

When employers pay for PPE, they are more likely to select the PPE for the hazards, make sure the equipment is maintained and replaced as necessary, and generally take more responsibility for PPE selection and use. By clarifying who is responsible for paying for PPE, OSHA hopes to see fewer injuries and fatalities. This reduction in injuries is also expected to save the public over $200 million per year in direct costs, including medical and insurance bills.

Click here for help in evaluating your PPE program.

Chris Murphy

EMC Risk Improvement Engineer Chris Murphy (right) assists companies like DEMCO in developing and maintaining safety committees to accomplish the following tasks:

  • Detect workplace hazards by routine walk-throughs of the workplace and discussions with workers. As a general rule, these inspections should be completed at least monthly.
  • Analyze and solve problems by reviewing accident and near miss reports, looking for trends that could pinpoint hazards. Proper analysis relies on thorough accident investigation of incidents resulting in work-related injuries, illnesses and complaints.
  • Assist with the management of safety by following through with recommendations, promoting safety leadership, communicating effectively and motivating others to work safely.

You can download a complete package of safety committee instructions, tips and forms developed by Chris Murphy and other members of the loss control team at emcinsurance.com. Select Online Services in the left menu, and then click Loss Prevention Information Manual.

Other Topics

You think a leaky roof is a problem? Wait until you read what can happen when that moisture leads to mold. Many building owners are starting to understand how mold can degrade indoor air quality, which can result in “sick building” symptoms and potential lawsuits.

“It appears moisture may be the single most probable catalyst to affect mold growth,” notes Curtis Liscum of Benchmark, a leading roofing consulting firm that partners with EMC on roof inspections. “Our experience has proven that leaks in a building can contribute to mold growth within as little as 24 to 48 hours.”

Benchmark roof inspectors have observed mold in ceiling tiles at areas of repeated roof leaks or areas where a lack of insulation creates condensation drips. They also note that mold can spread in gypsum board behind vinyl wallpaper where roof/window/wall leaks or condensation create a moist environment and the vinyl wallpaper prevents the moisture from drying out into the interior of a room.

In Case of Mold
Benchmark and EMC loss control experts stress that extreme care and diligence should be exercised to ensure that hidden and hard-to-see surfaces are thoroughly investigated for mold. Moisture meters should be utilized to determine excessive moisture content that would promote fungal growth. When investigating for mold, it is important to follow these safety tips:

  • Do not touch mold or moldy items with your bare hands
  • Do not get mold or mold spores in your eyes
  • Do not breathe in mold or mold spores
  • Use Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) such as a respirator, gloves and eye protection

Once the extent of mold is determined by visual assessment, remediation is next. Nonporous and semiporous materials that are structurally sound can usually be cleaned. Porous materials generally require removal and disposal.

Be Aggressive About Roof Maintenance
It appears that mold growth and roof leaks are directly related. That being the case, annual roof maintenance may be the first line of defense against mold development. If leaks do exist, they must be investigated and repaired immediately. An aggressive maintenance program should not only provide tangible results in mold prevention, but should go a long way in improving the health and welfare of employees, staff and visitors to your building.

For tips on developing a roof maintenance program click here.

Winter can wreak havoc on roof systems. It’s important to do a visual inspection during the spring months to determine if the roof has experienced any damage since your last inspection. Here are some things you should watch for.

Leaks — Check any areas where you suspect leaks have occurred during the winter. If these areas appear to be damaged, call a repair contractor to thoroughly inspect the roof.

Field Membrane — Walk the entire roof to check the membrane for damage or minor deficiencies.

Perimeter Flashings/Penetration Flashings — If flashings look deteriorated or attachment is questionable, have them fixed as soon as possible.

Roof Related Sheet Metal — Check for missing or unsecured metal items.

Drains — Ponding water on the roof is often a sign that drains are plugged or inoperative. Remove any debris from drains, scuppers and gutters, etc.

[Courtesy of Benchmark, Inc.]

As the hurricane season approaches, EMC loss control experts offer some advice on proper procedures for cleaning a building that experiences flooding as a result of inclement weather.

Cleaning Supplies

Don’t let floodwater sit. Use a mop, squeegee or wet/dry vacuum cleaner to remove standing water. Remove as much mud as possible. Once you have checked the water system for leaks, hose down the inside of affected areas and their contents.

Clean all walls, hard-surface floors and other surfaces. After cleaning an area with soap and water, go over it again with disinfectant to kill germs and odors left by floodwaters.

Protect yourself from harmful bacteria during cleanup. Wear rubber boots and waterproof gloves when cleaning up after a flood. Always wash your hands with soap and clean water after working in the area.

Read the labels. Use caution when using industrial cleaners, disinfectants and bleach. Follow product directions and be aware of any caution or danger warnings. Never mix bleach with other cleaning agents.

Use the two-bucket method. Put cleaning solution in one bucket and rinse water in the other. Replace rinse water frequently.

When in doubt, throw it away. Remove and discard contaminated goods such as wall coverings, rugs, cloth and drywall that can’t be disinfected.

For additional tips on flood cleanup, EMC loss control specialists encourage you visit the Centers for Disease Control at www.cdc.gov.

EMC Cost Estimating Supervisor Charles Smith may not be able to predict the weather, but he is definitely confident in this prediction: Whatever it cost to construct your building, it will certainly cost more to rebuild or repair it in the event of a loss. “Whenever material and fuel costs rise, construction costs follow,” notes Smith, who oversees a staff of building valuation experts. “These specialists are trained to provide EMC commercial policyholders with the added peace of mind that comes from knowing that in the event of a loss, their insurance is on par with current reconstruction costs in their region of the country.” Ask your EMC agent to learn more about this service, provided at no additional charge to EMC policyholders.

Insights Online

EMC loss control specialists suggest you use the checklist below to evaluate the need for PPE in your workplace.

Have you assessed your workplace to determine if hazards that require the use of PPE are likely to be present? YES NO
If hazards or the likelihood of hazards are found, have you had affected employees properly fitted for personal protection equipment suitable for protection from these hazards? YES NO
Have employees been trained on PPE procedures — that is, what PPE is necessary for a job task, when they need it, and how to properly adjust it? YES NO
Are protective goggles or face shields provided and worn where there is any danger of flying particles or corrosive materials? YES NO
Are approved safety glasses required to be worn at all times in areas where there is a risk of eye injuries such as punctures, abrasions, contusions or burns? YES NO
Are employees who need corrective lenses (glasses or contacts) working in environments with harmful exposures required to wear approved safety glasses or protective goggles or to use other medically approved precautionary procedures? YES NO
Are gloves, aprons, shields or other protective items provided and required where employees could be cut or where there is reasonably anticipated exposure to corrosive liquids, chemicals, blood or other potentially infectious materials? YES NO
Are hard hats provided and worn where danger of falling objects exists? YES NO
Are hard hats inspected periodically for damage to the shell and suspension system? YES NO
Is appropriate foot protection required where there is a risk of foot injuries from hot, corrosive or poisonous substances, falling objects, or crushing or penetrating actions? YES NO
Are approved respirators provided for regular and emergency use when needed? YES NO
Is all personal protective equipment maintained in a sanitary condition and ready for use? YES NO
Do you have eye wash facilities and a quick drench shower within the work area where employees are exposed to corrosive materials? YES NO
Is special equipment for electrical workers available where needed? YES NO
Is protection against the effects of occupational noise exposure provided when sound levels exceed those of the OSHA noise standard? YES NO
Are adequate work procedures, protective clothing and equipment provided and used when cleaning up spilled toxic or otherwise hazardous materials or liquids? YES NO
Are there appropriate procedures in place for disposing of or decontaminating personal protective equipment contaminated with, or reasonably anticipated to be contaminated with, blood or other potentially infectious materials? YES NO

To reduce the risk of roof leaks, Benchmark and EMC loss control experts recommend you adopt an aggressive maintenance program. This program should include the following:

  • Every roof should be inspected in the spring and fall of each year to identify deficiencies.
  • Inspections should concentrate on high-risk areas such as around roof hatches, drains, mechanical equipment and high-traffic areas.
  • Reviews should be accomplished after severe storms, repairs or alterations to the rooftop equipment or reroofing of adjacent roof areas.
  • Once deficiencies have been identified, a qualified roofing contractor should perform repairs in a timely manner.

A properly executed roof maintenance program should not only reduce leaks, thereby minimizing mold development, but also increase roof longevity.

Contractors

The Good and Bad News about Safety Harnesses

The good news — safety harnesses save many lives and prevent injuries. The bad news — harnesses can become deadly whenever a worker is suspended for durations of over five minutes in an upright posture, with the legs relaxed straight beneath the body. Learn more about suspension trauma and what you can do to keep it from happening to your workers.

[The following article by Bill Weems and Phil Bishop is reprinted with permission from Occupational Health & Safety.]

Workers and emergency response personnel must be trained to recognize the risks of suspension trauma. I was surprisingly comfortable with my legs dangling relaxed beneath me, and my arms outstretched in a posture that must have resembled a crucifixion. I had no feeling of stress and mused as to why this was considered dangerous. I felt I could stay in this position for a long time. Three minutes later, maybe less, I wondered why I suddenly felt so hot. The next thing I knew, they were reviving me from unconsciousness.

I had just experienced what could be deadly for your workers who use safety harnesses. Fortunately for me, my suspension trauma occurred in the safe environment of the research ward of University of Texas Medical Branch Hospital at Galveston, Texas, where I was the first subject in a NASA experiment studying orthostatic intolerance in astronauts. Your workers won’t be so lucky.

Harness-Induced Death
Wide ranges of situations require safety harnesses of various types. Workers requiring fall protection, workers entering many confined spaces, mountain climbers, deer hunters in elevated stands, and cave explorers all try to protect themselves through the use of safety harnesses, belts, and seats. What is little known, however, is that these harnesses can also kill.

Harnesses can become deadly whenever a worker is suspended for durations over five minutes in an upright posture, with the legs relaxed straight beneath the body. This can occur in many different situations in industry. A carpenter working alone is caught in mid-fall by his safety harness, only to die 15 minutes later from suspension trauma. An electrical worker is lowered into a shaft after testing for toxic gases. He is lowered on a cable and is positioned at the right level to repair a junction box. After five minutes he is unconscious—but his buddies tending the line don’t realize it, and 15 minutes later a dead body is hauled out.

The cause of this problem is called “suspension trauma.” Fall protection researchers have recognized this phenomenon for decades. Despite this, data have not been collected on the extent of the problem; most users of fall protection equipment, rescue personnel, and safety and health professionals remain unaware of the hazard

Suspension Trauma
Suspension trauma death is caused by orthostatic incompetence (also called orthostatic intolerance). Orthostatic incompetence can occur any time a person is required to stand quietly for prolonged periods and may be worsened by heat and dehydration. It is most commonly encountered in military parades where soldiers must stand at attention for prolonged periods. Supervisors can prevent it by training soldiers to keep their knees slightly bent so the leg muscles are engaged in maintaining posture.

What happens in orthostatic incompetence is that the legs are immobile with a worker in an upright posture. Gravity pulls blood into the lower legs, which have a very large storage capacity. Enough blood eventually accumulates so that return blood flow to the right chamber of the heart is reduced. The heart can only pump the blood available, so the heart’s output begins to fall. The heart speeds up to maintain sufficient blood flow to the brain, but if the blood supply to the heart is restricted enough, beating faster is ineffective, and the body abruptly slows the heart.

In most instances this solves the problem by causing the worker to faint, which typically results in slumping to the ground where the legs, the heart, and the brain are on the same level. Blood is now returned to the heart and the worker typically recovers quickly. In a harness, however, the worker can’t fall into a horizontal posture, so the reduced heart rate causes the brain’s blood supply to fall below the critical level.

Orthostatic incompetence doesn’t occur to us very often because it requires that the legs remain relaxed, straight, and below heart level. If the leg muscles are contracting in order to maintain balance and support the body, the muscles press against the leg veins. This compression, together with well-placed one-way valves, helps pump \ blood back to the heart. If the upper-legs are horizontal, as when we sit quietly, the vertical pumping distance is greatly reduced, so there are no problems.

In suspension trauma, several unfortunate things occur that aggravate the problem. First, the worker is suspended in an upright posture with legs dangling. Second, the safety harness straps exert pressure on leg veins, compressing them and reducing blood flow back to the heart. Third, the harness keeps the worker in an upright position, regardless of loss of consciousness, which is what kills workers.

Phases of Fall Protection
There are four phases of fall protection: Before the fall, at fall arrest, suspension, and post-fall rescue. Each phase presents unique safety challenges. Suspension trauma can be influenced by all aspects of the fall, so they are all important. As with many aspects of safety, increasing the safety in one phase can compromise the safety of the others. Whatever training workers have received will determine how they respond to different phases.

Here is a brief discussion of each aspect of fall protection.

Before the fall — The key issue of fall protection before the fall is compliance. If a harness is too uncomfortable, too inconvenient, or interferes too much with task completion, workers may not use the equipment or may modify it (illegally) to make it more tolerable. A second major point is the length of the attachment lanyard, or, how far can a worker fall before his fall is arrested? The longer the fall, the greater the stress on the body will be when the fall is arrested. The shorter the lanyard, the more often it will have to be repositioned when workers are mobile. A moveable safe anchor is one solution, but this situation is only occasionally available.

Fall arrest — The whole concept of fall protection is that workers who fall will be stopped by the tethering system. The longer the attachment lanyard, the greater the acceleration time during the fall and the greater the stress on the body at arrest. Unfortunately, the posture of the falling worker is unpredictable. Depending on the harness attachment point and the position of the worker’s body at arrest, different harness attachments offer different advantages. An attachment near the shoulders means that any drag from the lanyard will serve to position the worker’s body in an upright position so the forces are distributed from head to foot. The head is somewhat protected if the legs and body precede it in the fall, but this offers some disadvantages after the fall arrest is completed.

Suspension — Many safety professionals naturally assume that, once a fall has been arrested, the fall protection system has successfully completed its job. Unfortunately, this is not the case. A worker suspended in an upright position with the legs dangling in a harness of any type is subject to suspension trauma. Fall victims can slow the onset of suspension trauma by pushing down vigorously with the legs, by positioning their body in a horizontal or slight leg-high position, or by standing up. Harness design and fall injuries may prevent these actions, however.

Rescue — Rescue must come rapidly to minimize the dangers of suspension trauma. The circumstances together with the lanyard attachment point will determine the possibilities of self-rescue. In situations where self-rescue is not likely to be possible, workers must be supervised at all times. Regardless of whether a worker can self-rescue or must rely upon others, time is of the essence because a worker may lose consciousness in only a few minutes. If a worker is suspended long enough to lose consciousness, rescue personnel must be careful in handling such a person or the rescued worker may die anyway. This post-rescue death is apparently caused by the heart’s inability to tolerate the abrupt increase in blood flow to the heart right after removal from the harness. Current recommended procedures are to take from 30 to 40 minutes to move the victim from kneeling to a sitting to a supine position.

Interference Among Phases — An arrest harness attachment on the front of the body facilitates self-rescue after a fall. However, a front attachment means the arresting lanyard may be in the way for many work tasks. An attachment point near the center of gravity (CG) makes post-fall body positioning much easier and increases the likelihood that a fallen worker will not be suspended in an upright vertical position. Yet a front near-CG attachment point can greatly increase the bending stress on the spine at the instant of arrest, raising the possibility that the arrest itself results in serious injury. The most protective harnesses for suspension can be the least comfortable.

Recommendations

Safety harnesses save many lives and injuries. However, continual vigilance is needed to train and supervise workers to ensure harnesses are used safely. All phases of fall protection need to be examined for each particular application. Workers and emergency response personnel must be trained to recognize the risks of suspension trauma.

Before the potential fall:

  • Workers should never be permitted to work alone in a harness.
  • Rope/cable tenders must make certain the harness user is conscious at all times.
  • Time in suspension should be limited to under five minutes. Longer suspensions must have foothold straps or means for putting weight on the legs
  • Harnesses should be selected for specific applications and must consider: compliance (convenience), potential arrest injury, and suspension trauma.
  • Tie-off lanyards should be anchored as high and tight as work permits.

After a fall:

  • Workers should be trained to try to move their legs in the harness and try to push against any footholds.
  • Workers hanging in a harness should be trained to try to get their legs as high as possible and their heads as close to horizontal as possible (this is nearly impossible with many commercial harnesses in use today).
  • If the worker is suspended upright, emergency measures must be taken to remove the worker from suspension or move the fallen worker into a horizontal posture, or at least to a sitting position.
  • All personnel should be trained that suspension in an upright condition for longer than five minutes can be fatal.

For harness rescues:

  • The victim should not be suspended in a vertical (upright) posture with the legs dangling straight. Victims should be kept as nearly horizontal as possible, or at least in a sitting position.
  • Rescuers should be trained that victims who are suspended vertically before rescue are in a potentially fatal situation.
  • Rescuers must be aware that post-rescue death may occur if victims are moved to a horizontal position too rapidly.

Recommendations on harnesses:

  • It may be advantageous in some circumstances to locate the lanyard or tie-off attachment of the harness as near to the body’s center of gravity as possible to reduce the whiplash and other trauma when a fall is arrested. This also facilitates moving legs upward and head downward while suspended.
  • Front (stomach or chest) rather than rear (back) harness lanyard attachment points will aid uninjured workers in self-rescue. This is crucial if workers are not closely supervised.
  • Any time a worker must spend time hanging in a harness, a harness with a seat rather than straps alone should be used to help position the upper legs horizontally.
  • A gradual arrest device should be employed to lessen deceleration injuries.
  • Workers should get supervised (because this is dangerous) experience at hanging in the harness they will be using.

About the authors — Bill Weems is an industrial hygienist. He directs Safe State, the OSHA consultation agency for small business in Alabama. Phil Bishop is an ergonomist. He teaches and conducts research in the physiology of human performance.

EMC loss control representatives turn to OSHA guidelines when advising contractors on minimum steps to reduce the likelihood of falls. Here are some of the most recommended strategies.

Unprotected Sides, Wall Openings and Floor Holes — Almost all sites have unprotected sides and edges, wall openings, or floor holes at some point during construction. If these sides and openings are not protected at your site, injuries from falls or falling objects may result, ranging from sprains and concussions to death. To reduce the risk of these hazards:

  • Use at least one of the following whenever employees are exposed to a fall of six feet or more above a lower level — guardrail systems, safety net systems or personal fall arrest systems.
  • Cover or guard floor holes as soon as they are created during new construction.
  • For existing structures, survey the site before working and continually audit as work continues. Guard or cover any openings or holes immediately.
  • Construct all floor hole covers so they will effectively support two times the weight of employees, equipment and materials that may be on the cover at any one time.

Improper Scaffold Construction — Working with heavy equipment and building materials on the limited space of a scaffold is difficult. Without fall protection or safe access, it becomes hazardous. Falls from improperly constructed scaffolds can result in injuries ranging from sprains to death. To reduce the risk of these hazards:

  • Construct all scaffolds according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Install guardrail systems along all open sides and ends of platforms.
  • Use a guardrail system and/or a personal fall arrest system for scaffolds more than 10 feet above a lower level.
  • Provide safe access to scaffold platforms.
  • Do not use or climb cross-bracing as a means of access.

Unguarded Protruding Steel Rebars — If you fall onto an unguarded, protruding rebar, you can impale yourself, resulting in serious internal injuries or death. To reduce the risk of these hazards:

  • Guard all protruding ends of steel rebar with rebar caps or wooden troughs, or bend rebar so exposed ends are no longer upright.
  • When employees are working at any height above exposed rebar, fall protection/prevention is the first line of defense against impalement.

Misuse of Portable Ladders — You risk falling if portable ladders are not safely positioned each time they are used. While you are on a ladder, it may move and slip from its supports. You can also lose your balance while getting on or off an unsteady ladder. Falls from ladders can cause injuries ranging from sprains to death. To reduce the risk of these hazards:

  • Position portable ladders so the side rails extend at least 3 feet above the landing.
  • Secure side rails at the top to a rigid support and use a grab device when a three-foot extension is not possible.
  • Make sure that the weight on the ladder will not cause it to slip off its support.
  • Before each use, inspect ladders for cracked or broken parts such as rungs, steps, side rails, feet and locking components.
  • Do not apply more weight on the ladder than it is designed to support.
  • Use only ladders that comply with OSHA design standards [29 CFR 1926.1053(a)(1)].

Local Governments

Utility Workers: Beware of the Dog

According to the American Humane Society, 4.7 million Americans are bitten by dogs annually. More than 16,000 of those attacks were reported by workers. With people owning more aggressive breeds of dogs for protection purposes, those numbers are likely to increase, but there are precautions workers can take to avoid being bitten.

The American Human Society recommends the following strategies for reducing the likelihood of dog attacks:

  • Workers should familiarize themselves with areas on their routes and be able to determine which yards to avoid.
  • Never approach a strange dog, especially one that’s tied or confined behind a fence or in a car.
  • Don’t pet a dog without letting it see and sniff you first.
  • Never turn your back to a dog and run away. A dog’s natural instinct will be to chase and catch you.
  • Don’t disturb a dog while it’s sleeping, eating, chewing on a toy or caring for puppies.
  • Be cautious around strange dogs. Always assume a dog that doesn’t know you sees you as an intruder or a threat.

If you are approached by a dog that may attack you, follow these tips:

  • Never scream and run.
  • Remain motionless, hands at your sides, and avoid eye contact with the dog.
  • Once the dog loses interest in you, slowly back away until it is out of sight.
  • If the dog does attack, “feed” it your jacket, purse, bicycle or anything you can put between yourself and the dog.
  • If you fall or are knocked to the ground, curl into a ball with your hands over your ears and remain motionless.

Equally as important as knowing how to prevent a bite is knowing the following steps to take in the event of a bite:

  1. Immediately wash the wound thoroughly with soap and warm water.
  2. Contact your physician for additional care and advice.
  3. Report the bite to your local animal care and control agency. Tell the animal control official everything you know about the dog, including its owner’s name and address. If the dog is a stray, tell the animal control official what the dog looks like, where you saw it, whether you've seen it before and in which direction it went.

Petroleum Marketers

by Chad Veach, CSP

The Mechanics of Slips and Falls

According to the National Safety Council, the average cost for a slip and fall accident is $5,000. Surface conditions, inappropriate footwear and behaviors can all be to blame. EMC Risk Improvement Engineer Chad Veach offers some slip and fall prevention techniques below.

Slips are primarily caused by a smooth surface condition and compounded by wearing the wrong footwear. In normal walking, two types of slips occur. The first of these occurs as the heel of the forward foot contacts the walking surface. Then, the front foot slips forward and the person falls backward. The second type of fall occurs when the rear foot slips backward. The force to move forward is on the sole of the rear foot. As the rear heel is lifted and the force moves forward to the front of the sole, the foot slips back and the person falls.

The force that allows you to walk without slipping is friction, commonly referred to as “traction.” Experience shows that dry concrete sidewalks have good traction, while icy surfaces or freshly waxed floors can have low traction. Technically, traction is measured as the “coefficient of friction.” A higher coefficient of friction means more friction, and therefore more traction. The coefficient of friction depends on two things: the quality of both the walking surface and the soles of your shoes.

Watch For These Behaviors
In addition to wearing the wrong footwear, there are specific behaviors that can lead to slips, trips and falls. Walking too fast or running can cause major problems. In normal walking, the most force is exerted when the heel strikes the ground, but when you walk fast or run, you land harder on the heel of your front foot and push harder off the sole of your rear foot. Thus, a greater coefficient of friction is required to prevent slips and falls. Rapid changes in direction create a similar problem.

Other factors that can cause you to slip, trip and fall are: distractions; not watching where one is going; carrying materials which obstruct your view; wearing sunglasses in low-light areas; and failure to use handrails. These and other behaviors, caused by lack of knowledge, impatience or bad habits, can lead to falls, injuries or even death.

Prevention Techniques
There are several ways to prevent slips, trips and falls. First, increasing the friction between the walking surface and footwear will make a slip less likely to occur. Identifying a slippery surface and taking immediate action is the first line of defense.

  • Water or liquids on a floor should be cleaned up and/or dried immediately.
  • When using a floor cleaner, follow directions precisely.
  • Icy surfaces should be cleared and treated.
  • Slip-resistant footwear should always be worn, kept clean and in good repair.
  • Increase your awareness of the floor conditions and your surroundings.
  • Immediately report any hazardous walking surface conditions to your supervisor.
  • If you know a surface is (or may be) slippery, move slower and take short steps.

Schools

Preventing Bullying Is Everyone’s Job

Almost 30% of youth in the United States are estimated to be involved in bullying, according to the National Youth Violence Resource Center. EMC loss control specialists recognize the fact that preventing bullying requires a coordinated effort of all members of that community — administrators, teachers, students and parents.

[The following information is reprinted courtesy of the National School Safety Center]

What is school bullying?
Bullying is a form of violence that hurts others. School bullying happens at school or during school-sponsored activities when a student or group of students intentionally and repeatedly uses their power to hurt other individuals or groups. Bullies’ power can come from their physical strength, age, financial status, popularity, social status, technology skills, or by association (the people they know, who they hang out with, who their family is).

What are the consequences of school bullying?
School bullying affects the safety and social well-being of the entire school community. Wanting and needing to belong at school is important to most students. Being put-down, embarrassed, physically hurt or terrorized at school on a regular basis is hurtful for students at any grade level. Bullying can make a student feel unwanted and rejected.

Students who are targets of bullying spend their energy at school being afraid and worrying about when and how they will be bullied again. They may suffer direct pain and discomfort when the bullying is physical. They may begin to withdraw from school activities and areas on campus where bullying takes place. They may begin to stay away from school. In the worst cases, some students become ill, depressed and even suicidal. Some students take a vigilante approach and feel the need to fight back with weapons or in other dangerous ways.

Students who bully may think that they are in full control of what is happening. They may also think that the only ones being hurt are the targets of their bullying. The fact is that bullying also hurts the one who does it. A bully who learns to use aggression toward others may find the negative behavior a hard habit to break. Some students who bully are less likely to be respected or trusted by others. Bullies may be seen as manipulators or as mean and unpleasant people. Some acts of bullying can result in suspension or expulsion from school and the loss of valuable learning time. Bullying behaviors that continue into adulthood can turn into child abuse, domestic violence and other criminal activities. Studies show that serious bullies tend to have their first serious brush with the law by their mid-twenties.

Students who observe bullying at school may begin to think bullying is acceptable schoolbehavior. They may assume that the adults at their school either don’t care enough to stop it or can’t stop it. Some students may join in with the bully. Other students may fear that they will become the next target, particularly if they share common traits with the target. Some students may risk their own safety to intervene for their close friends or other peers who are being bullied.

Schools that allow bullying to continue are promoting violence. Studies show that acts of serious school violence often have their roots in bullying issues. A school may develop a reputation for being non-caring, irresponsible and persistently dangerous. Some schools have faced costly and embarrassing litigation or loss of enrollment for these very reasons. Bullying endangers the academic mission of a school community. Bullying compromises the school safety mission.

What can teachers do about classroom bullying?
Preventing and responding to classroom bullying should not create an additional burden for the dedicated teacher. The same atmosphere that promotes effective teaching and successful student learning can help address the challenge of student bullying. Veteran teachers already plan, deliver, modify, evaluate and debrief lessons and activities. They do this in a manner that reflects a knowledge and understanding of the students they teach. Many new and enthusiastic teachers are armed with the latest content, theories and intent to impact their students’ lives in positive ways. Both kinds of teachers can develop and apply a repertoire of strategies that will help prevent, deter and respond to classroom bullying while promoting their academic mission. Strategies may include:

  • Modeling desired attitudes and behavior
  • Fostering student-shared responsibility for the classroom’s social and physical environment
  • Establishing and communicating rules and sanctions regarding bullying
  • Applying classroom rules fairly and consistently
  • Identifying and intervening upon undesirable attitudes and behaviors that could be “gateway behaviors” to bullying and harassment
  • Managing time and task so that students remain connected and productive and less likely to engage in undesirable behaviors;
  • Teaching students how to ask for help and how to report cruelty, bullying, and harassment
  • Responding to requests of help
  • Referring critical bullying cases to appropriate sources of support
  • Aligning instructional topics of courage, reasoning, fairness, justice, responsibility, citizenship, and collaboration with appropriate academic/elective content or extracurricular activities
  • Promoting personal and social skills development

How can a school community promote an anti-bullying message?
Using established activities and traditions is a smart and efficient way to address bullying issues. A school can redesign an existing activity into a strategy that promotes an anti-bullying message. For example:

  • Staff meetings are opportunities to regularly assess school climate. A simple invitation for a quick discussion of emerging issues and conflicts can help short circuit problems and allow staff members to compare notes on how students are doing.
  • PA announcements offer an ideal venue for student-generated campaigns that promote a norm for a bully-free school. PA announcements can also encourage and teach students to report bullying or get appropriate help.
  • School web sites can offer accurate and appropriate information regarding bullying for students, staff and parents. They can be used to set forth expectations for how bullying will be addressed at school.
  • School mascots and mottos can be used to promote messages and expectations for the respect, value and safety of all students.
  • Student newspapers can be used to deliver a series of anti-bullying articles that can help educate students and help keep the anti-bullying message alive.
  • Leadership classes can integrate bullying information to help promote the power of peers to establish an anti-bullying expectation.
  • School letterhead and business cards can be enhanced to carry a message that promotes respect and belonging for all students.
  • Suggestion boxes are an anonymous way to report incidents of bullying at school.
  • Adult mentors can be trained as “safe contacts.” Students can report bullying problems or ask for help and advice for themselves or others from these mentors.
  • Student handbooks, planners or calendars can be designed to promote an anti-bullying message and offer tips for asking for help for self or others.
  • Plays and productions that explore and personalize the issues and consequences of school bullying can be presented.
  • Marquees or message boards can be used to promote anti-bullying messages and a call to action.