There are numerous examples for what can contribute to or cause a workplace injury, but according to PA Training for Health & Safety, an estimated 80 out of 100 people who are involved in an incident are at fault for it. Many of those can be narrowed down to a top five – problem factors that cause most incidents.

Rick’s Safety Corner for September of 2022

The Five Contributing Factors to Workplace Injury

  1. Distractions- Our jobsite areas are full of distractions that can take someone’s focus from the work task at hand. Such distractions can be in our actual work environment, such as clutter or noise, or a mental distraction. Mental distractions stemming from what is going on in our home life can serve as a huge disruption to getting tasks done safely at work.
  2. Complacency- As workers, we regularly do the same tasks over and over for many years. Because of this familiarity with such work, complacency can set in. Complacency leads to taking shortcuts or not following normal work procedures. When this happens an injury is more likely to occur on the job.
  3. Poor Housekeeping- Housekeeping is a major issue in some workplaces. Poor housekeeping leads to numerous hazards. Common injuries include slips, trips, falls, lacerations, sprains, and strains. A lack of housekeeping often is a signal that there are larger safety issues at hand. Taking the time to keep an orderly jobsite not only keeps the client happy, but helps keep your team safe. 
  4. Poor Preplanning- The lack of proper preparation often leads to a huge number of issues. When the hazards of a new task are not evaluated prior to work beginning, hazards are going to be left uncontrolled. This leaves employees at risk for injury. From not having the correct equipment, tools, materials, personnel, or training for the work to lacking time to complete the job safely. All of these issues have their own unique safety implications.
  5. Taking Shortcuts- A major factor that results in many workplace injuries is when workers take shortcuts. There are various reasons why a worker takes a shortcut, but eventually, enough safety shortcuts will lead to a workplace injury.

Summary

These are just five of some of the more common factors that cause or contribute to workplace injuries. Evaluate your work today and see if any of these five items mentioned are at play. Work to eliminate these factors to ensure you are able to work safely.

 

Rick’s Safety Corner for August of 2022

Safety Glasses

Protecting Your Eyes with Safety Glasses

  • Safety glasses protect your eyes from objects that can pierce, bruise, scratch, or damage them. They withstand high impacts from work tasks such as drilling, cutting, grinding, using a nail or staple gun, or any other tasks that create flying debris or particles.
  • Your project manager will help you to identify what type of eye and face protection for each job task is needed. It is your responsibility to ensure the personal protective equipment is worn, maintained in a safe condition, and stored correctly.
  • The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires that each affected employee uses appropriate eye or face protection when exposed to eye or face hazards.
  • OSHA requires that all eye and face protection complies with the ANSI Z87.1 standard and to be marked with “Z87.1”. This marking is commonly located somewhere on the frame of the glasses and it notifies the wearer that the glasses meet or exceed the test requirements of The American National Standards Institute (ANSI).
  • If you wear prescription lenses, you must either wear approved safety glasses containing prescription lenses and frames that meet or exceed the ANSI Z87.1 standard or wear safety goggles over your regular prescription glasses. The safety goggles must also be marked to meet or exceed the Z87.1 standard.
  • Safety glasses must have side protectors built into their design when working around flying objects or particles. When not possible, please use attachable side shields that comply with the ANSI standard.

Anti-fog Safety Glasses

Anti-fog safety glasses reduce the chance of obstructed vision. The lenses have a chemically-coated surface designed to inhibit water vapor from forming condensation. You can also prevent condensation on your protective lenses with anti-fog sprays, wipes or gels, which are designed to reduce fog for a limited time.

Other ways to reduce fogging on safety glasses involve cleaning them with materials that inhibit condensation. Here are three different methods that use common products:

  • Wash the glasses with liquid dish soap and water, then wipe clean with a cloth.
  • Cover the lenses with shaving cream. Let dry and wipe clean with a cloth.
  • Rub enough bar soap on the lenses to leave a layer of film. Let dry and wipe clean with a cloth.

Summary

There are so many unfounded excuses for someone not wear their safety glasses. Excuses such as “they are uncomfortable” or “I am only doing this small task that will take just a minute” are dangerous statements. Take the time to wear all required eye and face protection and to encourage your co-workers and sub-contractors to do the same!

 

Rick’s Safety Corner for July of 2022

Laddar Safety!!!

Everyone knows someone who has had a fall or a near-fall off a ladder. Here’s a reminder of the ways that you can keep yourself and your co-workers safe. 

Ladders are an essential tool on most job sites and homes across the United States. Because of their widespread use and the inherent danger of working at heights, they are responsible for a significant number of injuries both on and off the job. Understanding the hazards of using a ladder, following the necessary safe work practices, and avoiding complacency can be a lifesaver.

  • Fractures are the most common type of ladder-related injury.
  • According to the BLS, 50% of all ladder-related injuries occurred when the individual was climbing with objects in their hands.
  • According to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, every year 500,000 people are treated for ladder-related injuries.
  • In 2016, there were 104 deaths in the construction industry involving ladders according to the CDC. 

The Common Causes of Ladder Falls

Not using the correct ladder– People will often use the same ladder for many different jobs and situations. Choosing a ladder that is too short for the job is often a problem that leads to an injury. Also choosing a ladder not stable enough for the ground conditions or one that is not rated properly for the job are issues that can lead to injury.

Unsafe actions when using ladders– People often do not follow the safe work practices when using ladders. Standing on or above the second to last step of a ladder is a common and deadly practice. Other actions like climbing up a ladder carrying objects, leaning to reach for something, and attempting to move the ladder while still on it are some common practices that lead to injuries.

No inspection prior to use– Problems such as cracked or broken rungs, loose bolts, non-approved fixes, etc. lead to injuries.

Ladder Safe Work Practices

  • Use the correct ladder for the job. There are many types of ladders to work in different situations. Check weight ratings to ensure you do not overload the ladder during use and ensure that you understand the hazards associated with the ladder that you are using.
  • Use a tool belt or a retrieval system to bring tools up to you once you have climbed the ladder. Do not carry objects up the ladder in your hands. Always have your hands free when climbing so you are able to have three points of contact with the ladder.
  • Never stand on or above the second to last step if it is not designed to be a step.
  • Do not lean or reach to grab something while on a ladder. Climb down and reposition the ladder closer to the object or area you were trying to reach.
  • Always secure the ladder. Make sure the ladder is stable on the ground before climbing up. Tie off the ladder to the structure you are next to. Have someone hold the ladder to secure it.
  • Always inspect a ladder before use. If there are any problems with it, immediately tag it out of use and find a properly functioning ladder.

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The Heat Is On! – June of 2022

Heat stress causes direct illnesses such as heat cramps, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke. According to a report published by the CDC, during 2004–2018, an average of 702 heat-related deaths (415 with heat as the underlying cause and 287 as a contributing cause) occurred in the United States annually.

Heat Stroke

Heat stroke is the most serious heat-related illness. This illness can kill or cause damage to the brain and other internal organs. Heat stroke results from prolonged exposure to high temperatures — usually in combination with dehydration — which leads to failure of the body’s temperature control system. If someone who is exhibiting signs of heat stroke is not properly treated immediately then there can be permanent health issues or death.

Prevention of Heat Illnesses

  • Allow for acclimation to hot environments. It can take two weeks before an individual’s body is used to working in a hot environment.
  • Take plenty of breaks in a cool or shaded area.
  • Drink plenty of water before you are thirsty.
  • Keep an eye on coworkers. Monitor each other for signs of heat illness.

Signs of Heat Stroke (source: www.WebMD.com)

  • Fainting may be the first sign
  • Dizziness
  • Lack of sweating
  • Red, hot, and dry skin
  • Rapid heartbeat or breathing
  • Confusion
  • Vomiting

Treatment of Heat Stroke

  • Alert supervisor and call 911 immediately
  • Take worker to a shaded or cooler area if possible
  • Apply cool water to their body or place them in a shower or tub of cool water
  • Place ice packs in their armpit and groin areas if available to help lower their core temperature

Recommendations for the Team

I highly recommend that everyone on the Riley team download an APP called “Heat Index” that  OSHA developed and distributes. The app helps you stay aware of the heat index in your area and is a very good resource for information including signs of heat-stroke and other heat related maladies. Look for OSHA-NIOSH Heat Index on your App Store or find it here:  https://apps.apple.com/us/app/osha-niosh-heat-safety-tool/id1239425102

Summary

It is important to prevent heat illnesses before they become an issue in the workplace. Knowing the signs, symptoms, and treatment of heat illnesses especially heat stroke can save someone’s life. When in doubt always call 911 to get an individual the proper treatment they need.

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May 2022 Safety Post…Are your Habits Endangering You and / or Your Co-Workers?

A habit is defined as “a settled or regular tendency or practice, especially one that is hard to give up.”

Everyone has habits… things that we say or do that we follow on a daily basis. These habits have a major effect on our life and affect the choices we make at work. The choice to follow a safety procedure on any given day could be affected by a habit you have had for years.

Daily Habits…

Think about the habits you follow every single day. Start with waking up. Did you hit the snooze button twice and then rise to take out the dog? Do you do this every day? What about coffee? Do you use the same mug, the same brand and maybe pour a cup for your partner? These repeated actions often settle themselves into habits, they are the same choices you make every single day whether consciously or subconsciously. These daily choices are your habits.

 

Building these habits….

According to Charles Duhigg, author of the book The Power of Habit, there is a “habit loop”. The habit loop he describes in his book is a three-part process. The first part of the process is the cue or trigger, the second is the routine or behavior itself, and the third is the reward.

Let us take the example of someone repeatedly hitting the snooze button and look at it as a bad habit you want to break. We assess the habit while looking at Duhigg’s habit loop. The trigger of this habit would be your alarm going off in the morning. While the alarm is blaring your mind tells you it is okay to hit the snooze button and continue sleeping because in the past you have done it. Hitting the snooze button would be the behavior. The reward would be getting more sleep. To break this habit, you would need to change one of the three components.

Looking at the routine first, maybe changing the location of your alarm to a location where you would have to get out of bed would work in breaking the habit. The alarm going off is still the trigger, but you have changed the routine by having to physically get out of bed making it less likely you will go back to sleep. Another option to help break the habit is experiencing a different reward which would be having more time in the morning. By not hitting the snooze button repeatedly you will experience a new reward of more time and less rush in the mornings before work. This reward alone over time may lead you to curve the habit of hitting snooze. Not all habits are easy to break, but you get the point.

 

Habits as they related to Jobsite Safety…

Your habits may be leading you to regularly take shortcuts and not follow safety procedures. Are there certain safety procedures you always follow and others that you forget to follow? For example, you usually use the extension cord that you keep stored in the back of your truck. You know it’s there and easy to access… but your cord has been getting some wear and tear. You know that using fraying or improperly grounded extension cords is not something that you should do on a safe work site, but you put away the cord last time without giving it a good “once over” to see that it’s damaged and replacing it. Using it this “one time” is easier than going back to the gang box to grab another…and your supervisor hasn’t noticed a nick in the cord.

 

Breaking habits….

Pay attention to the habits you hold on to and how they affect you daily. Make an accurate and honest accounting of your habits on the Jobsite and note how many of these habits are positive ones and how many are negative? Look at the choices you make at work and if they lead to potential dangers (even if the consequences seem small) and then look into changing them and creating new safer habits for you and for your team.

Keeping an “Attitude of Safety” as your habit means making conscious choices about the next step, the next tool and pre-thinking the consequences before taking action. Think about your attitude of safety on the job, during your drive to and from, and with your family and friends around the house. Taking a few minutes to think about your habits before you act on them may save someone’s life, or perhaps just their day!

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