Winter 2010 Volume 50
"Closing shipping dock doors may keep workers warmer this winter, but it could expose those workers to higher levels of carbon monoxide (CO),"warns EMC Industrial Hygienist Krista Scott. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, forklifts used in industrial settings are prone to emit this "silent killer" that can poison workers in poorly ventilated workspaces and adjoining offices.
"Because you can’t see or smell CO, you may not realize it’s a problem until workers start to develop symptoms of CO poisoning, which include headache, fatigue, dizziness, shortness of breath, nausea, vomiting, loss of consciousness and coma,"notes Scott. "Severe poisoning can result in permanent damage to the brain, nerves and heart, or even death."
Protecting Workers From Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
Scott recommends these tips from the State Compensation Fund of California to reduce the likelihood of excessive CO emissions from forklifts in your work environment:
- Use electric forklifts in enclosed spaces
- Set up a regular maintenance program for your propane forklifts
- Check CO emissions when tuning your engine
- Install a three-way catalytic converter in conjunction with an air-to-fuel ratio controller
- Allow your engine to warm up outside
- Ensure the work area is adequately ventilated
- Train employees to recognize the signs and symptoms of CO poisoning
Forklifts Are Just Part Of The Problem
Although forklifts are a common cause of increased CO emissions in industrial settings, Scott says other sources of CO can also impact air quality. These include fuel-burning portable saws, generators, heaters and furnaces, power washers, scissor lifts, compressors, floor buffers and fuel-burning space heaters.
Whatever the source of CO is, Scott reminds policyholders that the potential for CO poisoning in the workplace tends to rise when the temperature begins to drop. EMC loss control professionals like Scott are available to monitor air quality and recommend actions to reduce your workers’ exposure to this silent killer.
For more information on carbon monoxide and forklifts, go to
OSHA’S New Whistleblower Rules
OSHA published three interim final rules in the Aug. 31 Federal Register that establish procedures for handling worker retaliation complaints. The regulations cover workers filing complaints in the railroad, public transit, commercial motor carrier and consumer product industries. For additional information on these proposed rules, visit www.whistleblowers.gov.
Antibacterial Gel Can Help Reduce Sick Days
Workers using antibacterial hand gel can help reduce illnesses in the workplace, according to a new study by the Institute of Hygiene and Environmental Medicine in Germany. In the study group that regularly used the hand gel, sick days for colds were reduced by 65%. Although hand gel should not be a substitute for hand washing, it may help prevent the spread of workplace infection.
OSHA Cranes And Derricks Rule
Approximately 89 people are killed each year in crane-related construction incidents, according to OSHA. “The goal of a new standard for cranes and derricks is to prevent worker fatalities and injuries by keeping the crane’s loads and workers in the places they are intended to be,” noted OSHA Chief Dr. David Michaels. The standard contains common-sense processes and mechanisms that reflect a considerable technological change in equipment that has occurred since the publication of the old rule. You can download the new rule at www.osha.gov/doc/cranesreg.pdf.
Workers who are exposed to a combination of freezing or near-freezing temperatures, brisk winds and wet clothing can succumb to hypothermia, which can result in death.
OSHA recommends a number of precautions for employees working in cold weather conditions:
- Recognize the environmental and workplace conditions that lead to potential cold-induced illnesses and injuries.
- Learn the signs and symptoms of cold-induced illnesses and injuries and what to do to prevent them.
- Select proper clothing for cold, wet and windy conditions.
- Take frequent short breaks in warm, dry shelters to allow the body to warm up.
- Perform work during the warmest part of the day.
- Avoid exhaustion or fatigue because energy is needed to keep muscles warm.
- Use the buddy system; work in pairs.
- Drink warm, sweet beverages (sugar water, sports drinks). Avoid drinks with caffeine or alcohol.
- Eat warm, high-calorie foods like hot pasta dishes.
Your workers should also be aware that they are at increased risk in a cold work environment if:
- They have pre-existing health conditions such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes or hypertension.
- They take certain medications. Workers should check with their doctor, nurse or pharmacist to find out if any medicines they are taking can be affected by the cold.
- They are in poor physical condition, have a poor diet or are older.
Your Winter Work Wardrobe
The Office of Emergency Management recommends the following:
- Wear loose, lightweight, warm clothing in several layers. Trapped air between layers acts as an insulator. Layers can be removed to avoid perspiration and subsequent chill.
- Outer garments should be tightly woven, water repellent and hooded.
- Always wear a hat or cap on your head.
- Cover your mouth with a scarf to protect your lungs from extreme cold.
For more information about protecting workers in cold weather, visit http://www.osha.gov/SLTC/emergencypreparedness/guides/cold.html.
Remember the first time you had to jump-start a car? You were probably scared to death, double-checking every step along the way and standing back when all the cables were connected. As “dead battery” weather approaches, EMC encourages you to approach this common task much like you did the first time—with extreme caution. People are unaware that thousands of battery-related accidents happen every year, resulting in bodily injury, blindness and death.
The following tips from consumeraffairs.com can help increase your safety:
- Make sure both cars are in park and not touching each other.
- Identify the positive (red) end of one of the jumper cables. Attach the clamp to the positive (+) terminal of the dead battery.
- Attach the other positive cable clamp on the other end of the jumper cable to the good battery’s positive terminal.
- Now, attach the negative (black) jumper cable clamp to the good battery’s negative (-) post or terminal.
- Finally, attach the remaining negative jumper cable clamp to a good engine ground point on the dead battery’s vehicle. Do this as far as possible from the dead battery to lessen the likelihood that a spark will cause an explosion.
- When the connection is made, start the healthy car’s engine and let it run for a few minutes, then start the disabled car.
- Once the disabled car is running, remove the cables, reversing the order in which they were applied.
For more details, visit http://www.consumeraffairs.com/automotive/dead_battery.html.
When tackling a challenging safety issue, employees who deal with the problem on a daily basis often provide the best solutions. That’s the principle behind EMC’s Partnership Service, during which:
- EMC loss control specialists analyze your loss history and operations to determine areas in need of improvement.
- An employee task force works with an EMC consultant to identify activities and tasks that can prevent injury to workers. During the process, employees receive valuable risk factor training.
- EMC assists in preparing a report for management that outlines the task force’s recommendations.
To set up a Partnership Service consultation, contact your insurance agent or EMC loss control representative, or email email@example.com.
When EMC Industrial Hygienist Krista Scott monitors air quality in industrial settings, she is quick to realize that in addition to forklifts, small gasoline-powered engines and tools present serious health hazards. She advises policyholders to take the following precautions suggested by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to reduce the likelihood of CO poisoning in the workplace:
- Do not allow the use of gasoline-powered engines or tools inside buildings or in partially enclosed areas unless the gasoline engine can be located outside.
- Always place the pump and power unit of high-pressure washers outdoors and away from air intakes. Run only the high-pressure wash line inside.
- Consider the use of tools powered by electricity or compressed air if they are available and can be used safely.
- If compressed air is used, place the gasoline-powered compressor outdoors and away from air intakes.
- Use personal CO monitors where potential sources of CO exist. These monitors should be equipped with audible alarms to warn workers when CO concentrations are too high.
An effective lockout/tagout program can help keep your employees safe while working on electrical equipment with moving machine parts. EMC’s new online training modules explain why lockout/tagout is so important and describe the six-step lockout process.
Because of its low cost and low weight, aluminum and aluminum alloys are now considered acceptable material for conductors in power circuits, provided the correct size of material is used along with appropriate design, installation and connections. The Hartford Steam Boiler Inspection and Insurance Company answers your questions and concerns about the use of aluminum in a two-part article, "Fundamentals of Aluminum Conductors."
The American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine launched “STOP Sports Injuries,” a public service campaign to encourage athletes, parents, coaches and health providers to support measures that reduce sports injuries. Learn how you can get involved.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), participation in organized sports is on the rise. Nearly 30 million children and adolescents participate in youth sports in the United States. This increase in play has led to some other startling statistics about injuries among America’s young athletes:
- High school athletes account for an estimated 2 million injuries; 500,000 doctor visits and 30,000 hospitalizations each year.1
- More than 3.5 million kids under age 14 receive medical treatment for sports injuries each year.1
- Children ages 5 to 14 account for nearly 4% of all sports-related injuries treated in hospitals. On average, the rate and severity of injury increases with a child’s age.2
- Overuse injuries are responsible for nearly half of all sports injuries to middle and high school students.3
- Although 62% of organized sports-related injuries occur during practice, one-third of parents do not have their children take the same safety precautions at practice that they would during a game.3
- Twenty percent of children ages 8 to 12 and 45% of those ages 13 to 14 will have arm pain during a single youth baseball season.4
- Injuries associated with participation in sports and recreational activities account for 21% of all traumatic brain injuries among children in the United States.2
- According to the CDC, more than half of all sports injuries in children are preventable.
- By age 13, 70% of kids drop out of youth sports. The top three reasons: adults, coaches and parents.4
- Among athletes ages 5 to 14, 28% of football players, 25% of baseball players, 22% of soccer players, 15% of basketball players, and 12% of softball players were injured while playing their respective sports.2
- Since 2000 there has been a fivefold increase in the number of serious shoulder and elbow injuries among youth baseball and softball players.2
Medical Professionals, Coaches And Parents Rally To Support The STOP Sports Injuries Campaign
Although the statistics on injuries among young athletes are startling, it’s important to know that more than half of all youth sports injuries are preventable, according to the CDC. That’s why the STOP Sports Injuries campaign—launched earlier in the year by the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine and a host of other professional medical organizations—aims to arm the public with accurate information and tools to prevent, recognize and treat the long-term consequences of sports overuse and trauma injuries to children.
“Armed with the correct information, today’s youth athletes can remain healthy, play safe and stay in the game for life,” commented James Andrews, MD, campaign co-chair and president of the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine. Others support Andrews’ belief that information is power:
- “We are proud to be a supporter of the STOP Sports Injuries campaign and are working with our patients to not only treat their injuries, but educate the parents and coaches about ways to help prevent injuries and understand the consequences of overuse injuries for future play,” said Raphael Longobardi of University Orthopaedic Center in Hackensack, N.J.
- “We share the same ideals as the other STOP Sports Injuries campaign members,” said Joe Bouffard, director of the Youth Football Coaches Association. “Football is one of the most popular sports played by young athletes, and it leads all other sports in the number of injuries sustained, particularly concussions. We need to educate our coaches on how to be part of the solution to prevent injuries.”
- “It’s our responsibility to provide kids a safe environment to participate in athletics,” said Mike West, president of the California Athletic Trainers Association, which will share STOP Sports Injuries campaign messages with its 2,220 members across the Golden State. “This means making sure there’s proper safety equipment and qualified staff available to educate and, if necessary, treat and prevent injuries on the field.”
For additional information on how you can help spread the word about STOP Sports Injuries, visit www.stopsportsinjuries.org.
1 JS Powell, KD Barber Foss, 1999. Injury patterns in selected high school sports: a review of the 1995-1997 seasons. J Athl Train.
2 Preserving the Future of Sport: From Prevention to Treatment of Youth Overuse Sports Injuries. AOSSM 2009 Annual Meeting Pre-Conference Program. Keystone, Colorado.
3 Safe Kids USA Campaign Web site. 2009.
4 American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. 2009.
[Source: STOP Sports Injuries]
More than 200,000 playground injuries are treated each year. Effective supervision can help your facility minimize these injuries. EMC’s new online training module offers information about playground monitors, common injuries and how to respond to hazardous situations.
Imagine that while supervising during recess, you notice a stray dog wandering around the edge of the playground. What would you do? Now imagine that it’s 96 degrees outside and you notice a slide on the playground is not covered by shade, posing a burn threat for children at play. What would you do?
These are just some of the many questions addressed in EMC’s new online training module about playground supervision. After viewing the presentation, personnel responsible for monitoring playgrounds will have a much better understanding of the hazards children face on playgrounds and how to minimize those hazards through effective supervision.
These are the basic goals for supervisors, as explained in the training module:
- Warn children of hazards on the playground, and remove the hazard if possible.
- Inform children of various safety rules and regulations imposed on the playground.
- Stay within a reasonable proximity to the children at play.
- Provide prompt first-aid measures.
- Be aware of strangers on the playground.
- Make sure that children play in the proper age-designated areas.
- Be aware of bullies on the playground.
The presentation provides effective strategies for accomplishing these primary goals of playground supervision. View the online training module now (enter your EMC policy number when prompted).
Emergency vehicle response and roadside scenes are two of the most dangerous work situations for firefighters and law enforcement officers. New guidelines from the U.S. Fire Administration offer ways to safely manage roadway incidents.
“The number of law enforcement officers and fire fighters killed in vehicle crashes and as the result of being struck by vehicles as they work at the roadside is disturbing and unacceptable,” said International Association of Fire Fighters General President Harold A. Schaitberger. His hope is that Best Practices for Emergency Vehicle and Roadway Operations Safety, which highlights the results of an initiative supported by the U.S. Department of Justice and National Institute of Justice, will enhance emergency vehicle and roadway operations safety for firefighters and law enforcement officers.
The goal of this project is to provide a basic guide for all law enforcement officers and fire fighters to improve their level of safety at work. The document discusses training, policy development, education and technology to enhance emergency vehicle and roadway safety operations. Best Practices for Emergency Vehicle and Roadway Operations Safety contains case studies of past tragedies, loss statistics, organizational and personal responsibilities, and strategies to improve fire fighter and law enforcement officer safety while in vehicles. In addition, recommendations are provided regarding emergency vehicle lighting and markings, and on safety while working at the road side.
“With vehicle crashes and emergency responders being struck on the roadway being a major cause of on-duty fatalities, it is important for all first responders to avail themselves of these programs to reduce this tragic cause of death,” said U.S. Fire Administration Acting Assistant Administrator Glenn A. Gaines. “We are grateful for the U.S. Department of Justice’s support of this emergency vehicle and roadway safety initiative, which benefits the fire service and law enforcement alike.”
Best Practices for Emergency Vehicle and Roadway Operations Safety can be downloaded at www.iaff.org/hs/EVSP/Best%20Practices.pdf.
[Source: U.S. FIRE ADMINISTRATION]
More than 20,000 children are injured every year in sledding accidents. As winter approaches, find out what you can do to help reduce sledding collisions.
According to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study, nearly 23,000 people are treated in emergency rooms for sledding injuries each year. Research has also shown that children age 14 and younger sustain the most injuries, with children under the age of five suffering the most severe injuries to the head, neck, face and abdomen (Consumer Product Safety Commission).
Chronic pain, work-related musculoskeletal disorders and poor health are responsible for a growing number of roofers taking early retirement. A recent study addresses a number of factors related to the health and welfare of older roofers.
Researchers conducting a longitudinal study of 979 roofers between ages 40-59 found that 10% left the roofing trade within a year after the study, and of those leaving, 60% left their job due to chronic pain, work-related musculoskeletal disorders and poor health. When that group was examined in a one-year follow-up, researchers found that they were four times more likely to suffer mild economic impact, 19 times more likely to suffer moderate economic impact, and 6.5 times more likely to experience severe economic impact from their early retirement. Those workers younger than age 50 experienced the brunt of the economic fallout from leaving the roofing industry. These and other results of the research appeared in the July issue of the American Journal of Industrial Hygiene.
“We believe our research may understate the social and economic impact of injuries and diseases among aging workers in this industry,” said Laura Welch, MD, the principal investigator and lead author of the paper. “Our research drew from a population of union workers. Other research shows wage and benefit levels of nonunion roofers are lower than that of union roofers, who have a retirement and disability pension system available to them.”
The researchers categorized and compared the health status of the employed and retired roofers and found those who left work during the study were older, had significantly lower physical functioning and general health scores, more bodily pain, marginally lower vitality scores, more diagnosed musculoskeletal diseases and/or medical conditions, and were more likely to have missed work and have more work limitations in the two years prior to the initial interview.
Roofers suffer a high rate of injury among the construction trades, and they command the third highest rate of jobsite fatalities, behind ironworkers and power installers. With the number of workers over age 55 increasing at an annual rate of 2.5% and with a projected shortage of skilled construction workers, the study casts an unwelcome light onto the future of the industry workforce.
“A 54-year-old worker is considered to be in his or her prime in most industries,” said Welch. “They’re knowledgeable, experienced and can serve as mentors to younger workers. But construction puts extremely high demands on the body, day after day. And workers are in high-hazard environments. When you have chronic low back pain, as many of these workers do, you’re lucky to get to work every day.” The study’s identification of risk factors for leaving the trade—age and physically demanding work—point to a need to modify work practices, and to change work organization or modify risk factors to prevent disability and the attendant economic impact.
[Source: The Center for Construction Research and Training]
Residential apprentices believe ladders pose minimal risk. Yet, they were two times more likely to fall than apprentices in commercial construction. Learn how more effective training can change the attitude of your residential apprentices.
Researchers examining individual and organizational factors associated with falls from heights among residential apprentice carpenters found that 30% of all falls from heights were from ladders. Yet apprentices, when surveyed on ladder safety, thought ladders posed minimal risk of falls.
An alarming 16% of apprentices had fallen in the past year, and more than 50% knew someone who had fallen. Most apprentices also reported they had not received training on ladder use, despite the fact that step and extension ladders are the two most used types of equipment in residential carpentry. These and other results from the study, funded through a grant from The Center for Construction Research and Training, were reported in the latest issue of the Scandinavian Journal of Work, Environment and Health.
Working with members of the Carpenters’ District Council of Greater St. Louis and Vicinity, researchers from the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis and Duke University collected fall experience among 1,025 apprentices and identified their fall-prevention knowledge, risk perceptions, confidence, training, perceived safety climate and crew safety behaviors. Apprentices reported that fall arrest systems were used on just 13% of worksites, although 87% of apprentices received training on their use. The carpenter apprentices reported they often observed crew members taking a risk, such as standing on the top wall of a house being framed, which could result in a fall several stories to the ground.
“Our findings are disturbing, given that falls are the number one killer of residential carpenters,” said researcher and lead author of the paper, Vicki Kaskutas. “Having less than 1 year of construction experience was the biggest predictor of falls from heights, with these workers 3.5 times more likely than experienced workers to suffer a fall. Residential apprentices were over 2 times more likely to fall than apprentices working commercial construction.”
The good news is that apprentices who worked with crews that practice safer behaviors or have a greater number of senior carpenters for mentorship had a lower probability of suffering a fall. According to Kaskutas, “After all, the apprenticeship model used in many trades relies on senior workers to train inexperienced crew members.”
However, Kaskutas and her colleagues, led by principal investigator Bradley Evanoff, did more than identify problems. The research team also suggested many ways to improve jobsite safety and reduce falls among workers, especially inexperienced ones.
“Everyone involved in the work plays an important role,” Kaskutas said. “Apprenticeship training programs can improve the timing and content of fall-prevention training. Carpenters can assume a more active role in ensuring their fall prevention knowledge and practicing safe worksite behaviors. Contractors can ensure that their work crews are optimally staffed and there is adequate time, training, supervision and resources to maintain the safety of the workers during all phases of the construction process. Researchers can partner with contractors to improve the safety culture and infuse safe construction methods and technologies into the residential construction process. Policymakers can increase the levels of enforcement of standards designed to protect workers from falls.”
The disconnect between the perception of the seemingly harmless ladder and the research findings that prove most falls came from ladder use is even more reason for contractors and workers to pay attention to the study suggestions, Kaskutas says. “Just following the OSHA residential guidelines can decrease worker falls from heights,” she said. “We know personal fall arrest systems will prevent a fall, yet they aren’t widely used in residential framing. Add in training and awareness—and make it a site-wide priority for the people running the job as well as the workers—and we could see a decline in injuries and deaths among residential carpenters.”
[Source: The Center for Construction and Research Training]
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration released a new training video that can help make the highway safer for cargo tank drivers and motorists alike. Learn how to incorporate this video into your safety training program.
The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) introduced a new training video that can help make the highways safer for cargo tank drivers and motorists alike.
“Cargo tank rollovers are among the most serious types of large truck crashes, often resulting in fatalities and serious highway infrastructure damage,” said Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. “Yet rollovers can be prevented, and driver safety is the key. This video is a tool to encourage tank drivers to become more safety-conscious.”
The video provides cargo tank drivers with best practices and safety tips on how to avoid rollover crashes while transporting hazardous materials. Developed in partnership with the Department’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) and the National Tank Truck Carriers, the “Cargo Tank Driver Rollover Prevention Video” uses driver interviews and on-road scenarios to highlight the factors that contribute to rollovers.
“Preventing cargo tank rollovers is a priority for our agency,” said FMCSA Administrator Anne S. Ferro. “We are pleased to introduce this new training video that helps cargo tank drivers and carriers avoid dangerous situations that cause rollovers and place our highways at risk.”
“Tank truck rollovers are considerably more dangerous when they involve hazardous materials,” said PHMSA Administrator Cynthia Quarterman. “Improved cargo tank truck driver safety will also benefit the general public that shares the highways.”
Cargo tank rollovers account for 31% of large-truck rollover crashes. In 75% of those crashes, unsafe driver behaviors, such as inattention or excessive speeding, are the primary cause.
In the training video, a variety of camera angles, detailed graphics and driver interviews focus on the four areas that affect the potential for a rollover: vehicle design, cargo load, highway factors and driver safety. However, the video's main focus is on driver behavior because, in many ways, a safe journey depends on the driver.
The video is available for viewing or download at www.fmcsa.dot.gov/regulations/hazardous-materials/cargo-tank-truck-rollover-prevention.
[Source: Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration]
Although convenience stores and gas stations showed big drops in robberies during 2009, 7.8% of all robberies still took place at these types of businesses. EMC loss control experts provide valuable tips to help you improve the safety and security at your facilities.
There’s some good news and bad news for convenience store owners. The good news is that 2009 statistics show that convenience store robberies dropped 9.7%, while gas or service stations saw a 12.7% drop in robberies, according to the FBI’s latest crime report. The bad news, however, is that these two groups were classified as the site of 7.8% of all robberies. That means your vigilance is still needed to reduce the likelihood of robberies.
The National Association of Convenience Stores offers the following basic rules in designing your overall safety and security:Territoriality
- Use physical features, such as landscaping, fencing and signs to show ownership of your property. It discourages outsiders by defining private space, and it allows employees to see intruders. This way, you can tell if people are there to shop or to loiter.
- If graffiti is written on your property, take a picture of it, report it to the police and then immediately remove it.
- It is important to keep the store and parking lot clean and free of litter.
- Limit the number of people who are not on the property as customers. The property and store are designed for convenience to customers. Don’t make it convenient for criminals.
- Limit the number of entrances and exits to the store and the parking lot.
- Close off some parking lot entrances and doors at night.
- Consider installing gates, locks or turnstiles, if necessary.
- Provide effective lighting both on the lot and in the store.
- Remove signs from windows to provide clear lines of visibility for the cashier to see outside, as well as for those outside to see activity inside.
- Move displays that block the visibility for the cashier to see outside, as well as for those outside to see activity inside.
- Train cashiers to be alert to their surroundings and report any problems.
Make sure you’re operating a business where your employees and customers feel safe from robbery and violent crimes by implementing a thoughtful security and safety program in your store.
Source: National Association of Convenience Stores