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Fall 2013 Volume 61

Feature Articles

A small leak in a Midwest school roof allowed water to penetrate the building, leading to hazardous mold problems. In another part of the country, loose roof flashing on a building was torn off by high winds and damaged a nearby property. These are just two examples Mike Duffield, EMC risk improvement manager, cites when talking about the importance of roof maintenance and repair.

Based on his experience, property owners often overlook small roof problems until they get out of control. Some of those problems can be easily found by looking up at the roof for loose flashing or inspecting interior walls for signs of moisture. “Both are indicators of potential problems that can result in Proactive Roof lasts an average of 21 years, reactive lasts on average only 13 years expensive repairs and inconveniences for occupants,” comments Duffield, who also recommends hiring an established, licensed and bonded roof inspector to get a more thorough evaluation of the roof’s condition. “It’s also important that inspections include a repair plan for the items that indicate signs of problems,” adds Duffield.

Identifying the Visual Clues of Roof Damage
The Institute for Business and Home Safety (IBHS) offers the following visual clues as possible signs of roof damage:

  • Prolonged standing water or ponding on the roof can lead to premature aging and deterioration of the cover, which will lead to leaks.
  • Bubbles may indicate trapped moisture within the roof cover, which can lead to leaks and reduce the life span of the cover and the roof cover system’s effectiveness against a windstorm.
  • Gaps in the roof flashing greatly increase the potential for roof cover failure during a high wind event.
  • Tears in the roof cover or worn, cracking seams can allow water to enter below the cover.

Duffield encourages property owners to follow IBHS guidelines for scheduling inspections every six months. “Fall is a great time to schedule this type of inspection because inspectors can look for damage caused by spring and summer storms and identify any potential issues before winter snow and ice set in.”

Protect Your First Defense From Natural Hazards
Every day, your roof is exposed to weather and other elements that may contribute to decay and deterioration, increasing the risk of damage to the roof itself and the contents below it. Remember, a little maintenance can result in a lot of savings, especially when compared to the cost of repairing damage from an undetected leak or a catastrophic roof failure.

Voice-Based vs. Manual Texting
Drivers using smartphone speech-to- text systems rather than their thumbs are no less distracted when driving, a Texas A&M study indicates. The researchers found that driver response times were significantly delayed no matter which texting method was used, and in fact, for many tasks, manual texting required slightly less time than voice-to-text methods. To learn more, visit

Smartphone App Addresses Ladder Safety
Falls from ladders are a common source of preventable construction injuries. A new smartphone app developed by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health may help reduce those injuries. The app uses visual and audio signals to make it easier for workers using extension ladders to check the angle of a ladder and access useful tips on extension ladder safety. The app is available for free download for both iPhone and Android devices at

Recommended Exposure Levels for Carbon Nanotubes and Nanofibers
Based on research showing that exposure to carbon nanotubes and nanofibers can cause pulmonary fibrosis in lab animals, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) issued recommended exposure levels for these nanomaterials. These materials are used in plastics, ceramics, paints, coatings and electronics, but according to NIOSH, demand for nanomaterials is expected to grow in energy-saving products, consumer goods and medical devices. To protect your workers from exposure to hazardous nanomaterials, visit

Be alert about workplace fatigue

“We know from experience and research that fatigued workers are less productive and more likely to have accidents,” comments EMC Senior Risk Improvement Engineer Paul Porter. According to a JOEM study, fatigue also costs U.S. employers $136.4 billion per year in health-related lost work time. Porter encourages policyholders to take a comprehensive and proactive approach to curbing the incidence and cost of this workplace epidemic.

Fighting Fatigue With Engineering and Administrative Controls
EMC loss control experts like Porter use the hierarchy of hazard control when dealing with workplace safety issues, including fatigue. “We start with a job hazard analysis to determine the cause of injuries and then implement engineering and/or administrative controls to mitigate future losses,” Porter explains.

Engineering controls for reducing fatigue include:

Top 5 causes of workplace fatigue: inadequate sleep, poor lighting, dehydration, repetitive work, skipping meals.
  • Implementing ergonomic changes to reduce unnecessary stress on the body, which could result in fatigue
  • Taking steps to increase employee alertness by changing elements of the work environment such as lighting, temperature and noise

Administrative controls for reducing fatigue include:

  • Balancing workload and staffing levels to reduce excessive overtime
  • Training employees on the prevalence, impact and health risk of sleep disorders
  • Providing adequate breaks
  • Educating managers to look for signs of fatigue and giving them the authority to take appropriate action to improve alertness among workers

Fatigue Studies Reach the Same Conclusion
The results of two studies published in the JOEM lead to one conclusion—fatigue is a major problem in the U.S. workforce that impacts productivity and costs. Researchers suggest that interventions targeting workers with fatigue can have a positive effect on their quality of life and productivity. Count on EMC® to help assess your workforce and work environment and recommend the needed controls to stave off the effects of fatigue.

Permission-based messages chart

EMC Insurance has provided policyholders with loss control information through the Loss Control Insights newsletter for more than 10 years. In an effort to improve our service to you, we are updating the format of the newsletter.

Beginning with the summer 2014 issue, Insights will be a monthly, electronic-only newsletter. This change provides a number of benefits for EMC policyholders:

  • Access to more timely loss control topics
  • More interactive user experiences with valuable links, videos and graphics
  • Updates on EMC loss control services sent directly to your inbox

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Other Topics

Craig Black

For the past several months, EMC Industrial Hygienist Craig Black has been immersed in understanding how OSHA’s revision of the Hazard Communication Standard to align with the United Nations’ Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals impacts policyholders. The result of his effort is the hazard communication safety program template.

“The safety program template is designed to serve as a guideline for employers who will have to supplement it with information about the specific chemicals in their facility,” notes Black. Black and other EMC loss control staff members made this program easy for policyholders and their employees to understand the differences between the old and new classification system:

  • Because “caution” does not translate across the globe, “warning” and “danger” have become the two signal words.
  • Material Safety Data Sheets will now be called Safety Data Sheets and contain 16 standardized sections.
  • Under the old system, chemicals were ranked 1 to 4 from low to high hazard. Under the new system, the ranking is reversed.

“The new system will take some getting used to,” admits Black. “It is our hope that EMC’s training materials will make the transition and training easier for employers and employees, assuring a safer workplace for all.”

OSHA’s new Hazard Communication Standard requires employers to provide updated hazard communication training to employees by Dec. 1, 2013. To help you meet this requirement, EMC has developed four new online training courses. You can access the following programs in the Loss Control section at

“Exposure to hazardous chemicals is one of the most serious threats facing American workers today,” said former U.S. Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis. “Revising OSHA’s Hazard Communication Standard will improve the quality and consistency of hazard information, making it safer for workers to do their jobs and easier for employers to stay competitive.”

Insights Online


PCBs in building materials of schools pose a significant environmental liability to school districts and municipalities. Learn ways to mitigate that risk in a special white paper available from Environmental Health & Engineering.

A new free white paper assists schools and municipalities with managing the challenges and costs that can result from the discovery of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) in their buildings.

The paper, titled “What You Need to Know About Managing PCBs in Schools,” details the nature of PCBs in buildings, required compliance issues, potential liabilities and current risk management strategies for dealing with PCBs in school buildings.

“The current broad based regulatory focus on PCB-contaminated building products represents a significant liability for schools, municipalities, building owners, real estate developers, REITS, financing institutions and contractors,” says John McCarthy, president and cofounder of Environmental Health & Engineering, a Massachusetts-based environmental services firm.

“The scientific, engineering and regulatory aspects of building-related PCBs are complex, and development of safe, cost-effective solutions requires a detailed understanding of their often subtle interrelationships. Attempting to address this issue with incomplete information can dramatically impact the cost of operations, renovation or demolition of a building. Costs can quickly rise to millions of dollars for a single school building. Administrators of schools and other municipal real estate must be aware of the regulatory requirements, implications for building operations and strategies to effectively minimize their risk and remediation costs,” McCarthy says.

This white paper describes a strategy to effectively identify potential risks and avoid regulatory mishaps, address PCB-containing materials in a systematic manner and maintain a healthy school environment. It also provides guidance on how to assess the need for and effectively estimate the costs of any remediation efforts so that these costs can be appropriately managed and minimized in the project budget.

Download “What You Need to Know About Managing PCBs in Schools” at

Source: Environmental Health & Engineering

A new app created by the DOT’s Federal Motor Carrier Administration gives bus riders the ability to review a bus company’s safety records. Known as SaferBus, the app encourages people to think about safety first when riding with commercial passenger carriers.

There’s more for bus riders to consider than just price and convenience. Now, with the free SaferBus app, users can easily access a bus company’s safety performance record, file a complaint and more from a mobile device. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has developed the SaferBus mobile application to provide 24/7 access to important safety information for any United States Department of Transportation (U.S. DOT) registered bus company.

SaferBus provides easy access to the following safety information:

  • Bus Company Operating Authority and Insurance Status—The app protects consumers from illegal interstate bus companies that should not be operating. Passengers should not use interstate bus companies that do not have valid U.S. DOT operating authority or that do not comply with federal insurance requirements. This app alerts consumers to those illegal bus companies.
  • View Bus Safety Performance Records—Check the safety performance record of the bus companies you are considering, and use this information to make an informed, safety-based decision. The app gives easy, user-friendly access to up to 24 months of a bus company’s safety performance data, which provides insight into a carrier’s performance according to several important safety categories: unsafe driving, fatigued driving, driver fitness, controlled substances/alcohol and vehicle maintenance. The higher the percentage is in any category, the higher the potential safety risk.
  • Bus Company Safety Results—The app alerts consumers to bus companies with an unsatisfactory safety rating. FMCSA issues three types of safety ratings. The top rating is satisfactory. Bus companies with a conditional rating may pose a higher safety risk, and companies with an unsatisfactory rating should not be operating.

“By placing a bus company’s safety record in the palm of the consumer’s hand, SaferBus encourages riders to think about safety first, supports our agency’s commitment to making bus travel as safe as possible and provides good bus companies a way to highlight their positive safety records,” says FMCSA Administrator Anne Ferro.

For more information about the SaferBus app, visit

Source: Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration

Petroleum Marketers

Small mistakes or overlooked details can lead to big problems when delivering fuel. EMC provides some best practices to help you develop your own standards for safe fuel delivery.

Fuel delivery seems simple enough, but small mistakes or overlooked details can create big problems. Drivers may dispense fuel into the wrong tank or into a tank at the wrong address. They might unwittingly fill a customer’s basement with fuel, not realizing that their tank is leaky or has been removed. These can be very costly mistakes, considering that a house may need to be entirely demolished to clean the surrounding soil of spilled fuel or that many cars may need extensive repairs after fuel oil has been introduced into their tanks. However, most delivery mistakes are preventable. Prevention doesn’t necessarily require a large financial investment—just planning, training and developing procedures.

Residential Delivery Challenges
Storage tanks are usually in the basement or buried in the yard, making it difficult to inspect them before filling. Additionally, multiple fuel types in different compartments on the truck increase the likelihood of delivering the wrong fuel.

Driver Best Practices

  • Check the delivery history chart to get an idea of the size of previous deliveries.
  • Determine the available tank capacity before delivery.
  • Make sure indoor tanks are visually inspected for general condition, connection and venting on an annual basis and document the results.
  • Double check the delivery ticket to verify correct product and location and that the fill pipe location is as indicated on the ticket.
  • Verify that buried or basement tanks, filling lines and vents are piped outdoors.
  • Before filling, conduct a visual inspection of the site for changes or problems. This may include ignition sources near the vent pipe, plugged vent pipes, excessive vegetation, unsecured fill caps, or rust or corrosion on the piping.
  • Ensure “vent whistlers” or other positive fill notification alarms are in place when filling home basement tanks.
  • Check that all fill pipes and caps are labeled or color coded to industry standards.
  • Delivery rates should be limited to tank vent capacity to reduce the chance of a large spill or tank rupture.
  • Start pumping slowly. You should have established a good vent whistle after five to 10 gallons. Keep the vent line in view while pumping.

Commercial Delivery Challenges
Drivers usually rely on color coding or tagging of fill spouts to identify the correct underground tank; however, drivers who repeatedly deliver to the same locations may assume they know the correct spout without checking each time. It’s also common for color coding or labels to wear off or be removed.

Driver Best Practices

  • Before delivery, gauge the tank to determine available capacity.
  • Verify that fill pipes and/or caps are labeled or color coded to industry standards.
  • Set the brake on the tank truck and turn off lights before starting fuel transfer.
  • Delivery rates should be limited to tank vent capacity to reduce the chance of a large spill or tank rupture.
  • Make sure that leak monitoring well caps are locked to help drivers avoid the assumption they are fill pipes.
  • Before filling, conduct a visual inspection of the site for changes or problems. This may include ignition sources near the vent pipe, plugged vent pipes, excessive vegetation, unsecured fill caps, or rust or corrosion on the piping.

According to the American Federation of Teachers Health and Safety Program, six out of every 100 custodians have a lost-time injury every year due to chemical exposure. Read the key components of a cleaning chemical safety program to help protect workers.

When used properly, both conventional and green cleaning chemicals are relatively safe. However, accidents do happen, and there are precautions that should be taken for the proper handling of cleaning solutions.

This is one reason why the U.S. Department of Labor continues to list cleaning and custodial work as one of the most dangerous jobs in the country, mainly because of the many accidents involving chemicals that occur each year.

Here are the key components of a cleaning chemical safety program:

  • A complete list of all cleaning chemicals used in the facility; this documentation should include details such as how many gallons (and multiple-gallon containers) are stored, where they are stored and the potential hazards of and necessary precautions for each specific chemical (for instance, whether or not a chemical needs to be kept away from direct sunlight).
  • Safety data sheets (SDS) for each chemical used or stored.
  • Keeping all cleaning chemicals in their original containers and never mixing chemicals, even if they are the same “type” of chemical. If you must use secondary containers, be sure to relabel the container using OSHA approved labels.
  • Storing chemicals in well-ventilated areas away from HVAC intake vents; this helps prevent any fumes from spreading to other areas of the facility.
  • Installing safety signage in multiple languages that quickly conveys possible dangers and precautions related to the chemicals.
  • Making sure all cleaning workers know exactly what the following “signal words“ mean: “Danger” is used for more severe hazards; “Warning” is used for less severe hazards.

“Cleaning chemical safety programs should also include getting rid of chemicals that have not been used for a prolonged period of time,” says Jennifer Meek, director of marketing and customer relations for Enviro-Solutions. “A good rule of thumb is to consider disposing of any chemical product that has not been used for six months and any product that has not been used for a year.”

Copyright 2013 by Penton. Reprinted with permission from EHS Today.


According to a Consumer Product Safety Commission report, every year thousands of people are injured and hundreds are killed in ladder accidents. Learn how to prevent these accidents by following the tips in this article.

Ladders have been around for a very long time, hundreds if not thousands of years. Most of us started climbing them as children, and sometimes we take the same risks now as we did then. Because ladders will continue to be a necessity in nearly all walks of life, we need to find better ways to prevent ladder accidents and hopefully save lives. The following is my top 10 list for ladder safety.

  1. Select The Proper Ladder For The Job
    Using the wrong ladder for the job is one of the leading causes of ladder-related accidents. There are four things you should look for when choosing the ladder for the job. First, you should always use the correct style of ladder (stepladder, extension, staircase). You should never lean a stepladder against a wall and climb it like an extension ladder. And you should never use a stepladder to access the roof of your home. Second, you should always make sure the combined weight of you and your tools and materials never exceeds your ladder’s American National Standards Institute (ANSI) weight rating. Third, use the right material for the job at hand. Always use a fiberglass ladder when working around live electric circuits. And finally, use the right size of the ladder for the task at hand. Your ladder needs to be long enough to safely reach without standing on the top rung or top cap of a stepladder or the top three rungs of an extension ladder. Everyone breaks this rule, and it leads to thousands of injuries every year.
  2. Inspect Your Ladder
    You should always check your ladder for loose rungs, rivets, bolts and welds. Ladders should not be used if they have any broken or defective parts. Clean any foreign materials, grease, paint or dirt from your ladder to ensure safe, stable footing.
  3. Handling And Transporting Your Ladder
    Shoulder, neck and back injuries caused by carrying extremely heavy traditional ladders are the most common, and thus most expensive, kind of ladder-related injuries. When carrying a large extension ladder, you should make sure it is well balanced and that the front is slightly raised. Consider investing in a lighter modern extension ladder.
  4. Safe Setup
    Place the ladder on solid, level ground that is free from debris. Avoid unsafe leveling techniques and always test the stability of your setup from the lower rungs before climbing higher.
  5. Check For Hazards
    Avoid hazards like overhead power lines. Make sure the setup area is free from hazards like lubricants or construction debris. Avoid setting your ladder up near blind corners where other people can’t see you. Never set your ladder up in front of a door.
  6. Remember The 4 To 1 Ratio
    Always set up an extension ladder at a 75.5 degree angle or 4 to 1 ratio, or one horizontal foot from the upper contact point for every four feet of height. An easy way to get pretty close to this ratio is to place your toes in front of the ladder feet, hold your arms straight out and place the palms of your hands on the rung.
  7. The Three-Point Rule
    When climbing or descending a ladder, always maintain three points of contact, holding on to the ladder with both hands. Never climb a ladder while holding tools or equipment. If you can carry your tools or materials in a tool belt, use a rope to raise and lower tools after you have climbed to the desired height.
  8. “Lashing” Is Bad
    Two ladders are not better than one. Lashing is the term I use to describe the practice of tying two ladders together to reach greater heights. You should never do this!
  9. Getting On The Roof The Right Way
    Accessing an upper landing or roof can be tricky. Always make sure the ladder is extended 3 feet above the roofline. Never climb up over the top rung of your ladder. Rather, step carefully to the side onto the roof or landing. Take your time, don’t rush this part.
  10. The Belt-Buckle Rule
    This is another one of those rules everyone has broken at some point. Never overreach! Always keep the center of your body (your belt buckle) between the side rails of the ladder. If you can’t reach something without overreaching, climb down and move your ladder closer. Many people have died by ignoring this rule.
  11. BONUS: Training And Innovation
    Ladder safety training is very important. Almost all accidents are caused by ignoring one of the ten guidelines listed above. In addition to safety training, modern advancements in ladder technology have made it possible to manufacture lighter, stronger, safer ladders. The following are a few of the new products you should check out:
    • Multi-Purpose Ladders. These ladders can be used as stepladders or extension ladders, so you always have the right type and size of ladder for the job. More importantly, they can be adjusted to safely work on staircases and uneven or sloping ground.
    • Leveling. If you are working outside, you are almost never on level ground, and sometimes it’s not even level inside. If a 28-foot extension ladder is just one inch off at the bottom, it will put the top of the ladder 16 inches off center, putting the top of the ladder completely outside of the footprint of the ladder—a very dangerous situation when you’re 25 feet off the ground. Several leveling devices are available; some come separately and need to be attached and some are preinstalled.
    • Outriggers. Think about it… most equipment on a job site has outriggers to stabilize it. New, modern extension ladders are now available with retractable, leveling outriggers that double the base width and increase side-tip stability over 600 percent. This can help reduce life-altering side-tip accidents caused by overreaching.

Even with the very best training and the latest state-of-the-art equipment, ladders are inherently dangerous. Never become complacent or distracted while using a ladder. Following these guidelines will help prevent injuries and save lives, maybe yours.

Reprinted with permission from Little Ladder Systems. The article was written by David Francis, National Safety Director for Little Giant Ladder Systems, who has worked in the ladder industry for 30 years and travels all over the country performing free ladder safety training for all kinds of companies. He can be contacted via email at or

Your whole body responds to noise, not just your ears, according to a recent report from the Michigan School of Nursing. Noise-exposed workers are more prone to headaches, fatigue and risk of injury. This article offers three tips to help managers protect their employees from noise exposure.

More than half of factory workers who believe their hearing to be good to excellent actually have suffered hearing loss. These findings came from a recent study conducted by Marjorie McCullagh, PhD, RN, an associate professor at the University of Michigan School of Nursing and director of the university’s Occupational Health Nursing Program. McCullagh surveyed 2,691 noise-exposed automobile factory workers. Initially, 76% reported excellent or good hearing, but after formal audiogram hearing tests, her team found 42% of those workers actually had measurable hearing loss.

“This finding shows that even workers who are served by a workplace hearing conservation program and receive annual hearing testing may be unaware of their actual hearing ability,” McCullagh says. “Most of the damage happens in the first 10 years of exposure. And, often people don’t realize that it’s happening until they have suffered a fair amount of damage.” Blocking or reducing noise through ear protection has broader physiological impact than just preserving hearing, she says.

“Your whole body responds to noise; not just your ears. Blood pressure, cortisone, stress levels and risks for cardiovascular events all go up,” she explains. “Noise-exposed workers are also more prone to headaches, fatigue and risk of injury. Using hearing protection reduces these risks.”

But for ear protection to work, it has to be worn. McCullagh offers three tips for warehouse managers to help them encourage compliance among their employees.

First, she says, encourage employees to be aware of the noise level around them. “Sometimes people get used to the noise and try to ignore it, or they think they need to just tough it out,” she says. “However, if you have to raise your voice to be heard by someone standing an arm’s length away from you, then it’s loud enough that you should be protecting your ears.”

Second, offer a selection of hearing protection options. “One size definitely does not fit all here—hearing protection is more personal than underwear,” McCullagh asserts. “People may have to try several kinds to see what feels comfortable enough that they will want to wear it.”

The four most common styles include:

  • Compressible foam plugs. “They’re soft and comfortable. You roll them between your fingers to compress them, then you place them in the ear canal where they expand to fit. But these are not always appropriate for applications with intermittent noise,” McCullagh says. “They can become irritating to the ear canal if they are removed and inserted repeatedly.”
  • Pre-molded plugs with a rigid stem. “These are particularly good for dirty environments because your fingers only come in contact with the stem, keeping the portion that rests inside the ear canal clean,” she says.
  • Ear muffs. “They’re old-school because they cover the ear completely, and they’re very easy to fit,” she says. “But if you have to wear eye glasses or eye protection, then they won’t work because they cannot maintain a seal against the head.”
  • Canal cap. “These are small foam cushions that rest outside the ear canal. They are attached to a very slim, semi-flexible—sometimes jointed—band that can be worn multiple ways for comfort: over the head, under the chin or behind the neck,” she explains. “They’re good for intermittent use because they don’t irritate the ear canal.“

Finally, adds McCullagh, keep a selection of ear protection wherever there is likely to be noise. “By keeping the ear protection devices right next to the equipment—whether it’s draped over the steering wheel of a fork truck or in a box located next to processing machinery—people will put it on if it is convenient,” she says. “But nobody is going to walk back to the other end of a building to retrieve their ear protection.”

Reprinted with permission of Modern Materials Handling, a Peerless Media, LLC publication.

Local Governments

Back and neck pain, colon and breast cancer, and obesity are just a few health-related problems associated with today’s sedentary workplace. Promoting physical activity on the job could lower injury costs and improve productivity.

Sitting at the office desk all day long can prove to be hazardous for worker health, according to EMC loss control experts. Common problems found in employees who spend a majority of time at their desks include everything from back pain to sleep problems to eyestrain. These warnings are confirmed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which cites that people who sit at work burn 350 fewer calories per day and are more prone to back issues and other ergonomic problems such as neck and wrist pain.

Beyond muscular problems, sitting at a desk for a long period of time can result in other health issues. In 2011, a report from the American Institute for Cancer Research concluded that excess sitting or physical inactivity was linked to as many as 43,000 cases of colon cancer and 49,000 cases of breast cancer. In addition, a more sedentary work style can increase the likelihood of obesity and suffering from its related diseases.

“The most convenient and inexpensive way to help employees reduce sedentary behavior is by giving them permission to stretch and/or walk for 10 to 20 minutes per day,” advises William Hoover, wellness manager for AllOne Health in an article written for the Massachusetts Municipal Association. Hoover suggests the following specific tips and tactics:

  • Stretch it out. Stretching is an important part of any exercise program. The goal is to reduce bodily tension and help prevent injury to muscles, ligaments and bones. Stretching can also increase range of motion. Employees should be encouraged to dedicate at least 10 minutes a day to stretching, perhaps with a coworker. If the weather isn’t conducive to heading outside, suggest that employees reserve a spare conference room for a quick stretch session. Employees should also be encouraged to stretch every two hours.
  • Take more steps. Encouraging employees to add extra steps into their workday is fairly simple. Suggest that employees park farther away from the building and/or take a walk at lunch with a coworker. Instead of emailing or calling a coworker with a question, encourage them to get up and walk to the person’s office or cubicle. Employees can also stretch their legs and walk up a few flights of stairs instead of taking the elevator.

One way to motivate them and give them credit for moving their feet is to provide inexpensive pedometers to count their steps or miles. To prevent injuries, advise employees to walk on smooth surfaces, face traffic and wear comfortable walking shoes and clothing that allows for unrestricted movement.

Protect children heading to the playgrounds after school and on the weekends. The Consumer Protection Safety’s playground safety checklist can help you keep your playground a safe place for children throughout the year.

Each year, more than 200,000 children go to U.S. hospital emergency rooms with injuries associated with playground equipment. Most occur when a child falls from the equipment onto the ground. Use this simple checklist to help make sure your local community playground is a safe place to play:

  1. Make sure protective surfaces around playground equipment include at least 12 inches of wood chips, mulch, sand or pea gravel. Mats made of safety-tested rubber or rubber-like materials are also appropriate surfaces.
  2. Check that protective surfacing extends at least six feet in all directions from play equipment. For swings, be sure surfacing extends, in back and front, twice the distance of the height of the suspending bar.
  3. Make sure play structures more than 30 inches high are spaced at least nine feet apart.
  4. Check for dangerous hardware, like open “S” hooks or protruding bolt ends.
  5. Make sure spaces that could trap children, such as openings in guardrails or those between ladder rungs, measure less than three and a half inches or more than nine inches.
  6. Check for sharp points or edges in equipment.
  7. Watch for tripping hazards, like exposed concrete footings, tree stumps and rocks.
  8. Make sure elevated surfaces, like platforms and ramps, have guardrails to prevent falls.
  9. Check playgrounds regularly to see that equipment and surfacing are in good condition.
  10. Carefully supervise children on playgrounds to make sure they’re safe.

For more details on playground safety, download a copy of the Consumer Product Safety Commissions’ Public Playground Safety Handbook at

Source: Consumer Product Safety Commission