Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Workplace Eye Health & Safety

Contributed by Eric Tofte, Director of Training, Evergreen Safety Council
According to NIOSH, “each day about 2000 U.S. workers have a job-related eye injury that requires medical treatment. About one third of the injuries are treated in hospital emergency departments and more than 100 of these injuries result in one or more days of lost work. The majority of these injuries result from small particles or objects striking or abrading the eye.”
Examples of injuries to the eyes include metal slivers, nails, staples, wood chips, dust, and cement chips that are ejected by tools, wind blown, or fall from above a worker. Some of these objects penetrate the eyeball and result in a permanent loss of vision. Chemical burns to one or both eyes from splashes of industrial chemicals or cleaning products are common. Thermal burns to the eye occur as well. Among welders, their assistants, and nearby workers, UV radiation burns (welder’s flash) routinely damage workers’ eyes and surrounding tissue.
In addition to common eye injuries, health care workers, laboratory staff, janitorial workers, animal handlers, and other workers may be at risk of acquiring infectious diseases via ocular exposure. Infectious diseases can be transmitted through the mucous membranes of the eye as a result of direct exposure (e.g., blood splashes, respiratory droplets generated during coughing or suctioning) or from touching the eyes with contaminated fingers or other objects. The infections may result in relatively minor conjunctivitis or reddening/soreness of the eye or in a life threatening disease such as HIV, B virus, or possibly even avian influenza.
ESC Trainer Al Filmore looks cool in his safety glasses
Engineering controls should be used to reduce eye injuries and to protect against ocular infection exposures. Personal protective eyewear, such as goggles, face shields, safety glasses, or full face respirators must also be used when an eye hazard exists. The eye protection chosen for specific work situations depends upon the nature and extent of the hazard, the circumstances of exposure, other protective equipment used, and personal vision needs. Eye protection should be fit to an individual or adjustable to provide appropriate coverage. It should be comfortable and allow for sufficient peripheral vision. Selection of protective eyewear appropriate for a given task should be made based on a hazard assessment of each activity, including regulatory requirements when applicable.
In order to help you look at eye hazards, NIOSH has developed the following checklist.
  • Create a safe work environment
o    Minimize hazards from falling or unstable debris.
o    Make sure that tools work and safety features (machine guards) are in place.
o    Make sure that workers (particularly volunteers) know how to use tools properly.
o    Keep bystanders out of the hazard area. 
  • Evaluate safety hazards.
o    Identify the primary hazards at the site.
o    Identify hazards posed by nearby workers, large machinery, and falling/shifting debris. 
  • Wear the proper eye and face protection.
o    Select the appropriate Z87 eye protection for the hazard.
o    Make sure the eye protection is in good condition.
o    Make sure the eye protection fits properly and will stay in place. 
  • Use good work practices.
o    Caution—Brush, shake, or vacuum dust and debris from hardhats, hair, forehead, or the top of the eye protection before removing the protection.
o    Do not rub eyes with dirty hands or clothing.
o    Clean eyewear regularly. 
  • Prepare for eye injuries and first aid needs.  Have an eye wash or sterile solution on hand.
In closing, eye safety/protection is just one of the many issues that an employee must navigate through when dealing with safety issues.  We at Evergreen understand this and are ready to assist you in meeting your safety needs.  Give us a call now 800-521-0778 and let us become your “Safety Solution.”

Monday, March 19, 2012

Hang Up and Live - Here’s another true story ..

Contributed by Norm Nyhuis, Trainer / Consultant, Evergreen Safety Council

For the past several years, Evergreen Safety Council has been urging people to “hang up and drive”.   

For the past two years, we have been asked to make presentations at the Washington StateGovernor’s Industrial Safety & Health Conference, on the subject of the dangers of distracted driving.  During those presentations, a short video clip has had a powerful impact on the audience.  This little clip originated in the United Kingdom, as an effort to graphically call attention to the problem of not only driving while distracted by mobile phone use, but that hazards exist for even pedestrians who are distracted by their mobile devices.  The video shows a group of teen age boys walking home after school and a similar group of teen age girls, also walking home, but on the other side of the street.  As the two groups become aware of each other’s presence, the audience realizes that a particular girl and boy are budding sweethearts.  Their friends tease them a bit, but then disperse so the two can presumable walk home together.  This scene is also enhanced by the music of Fats Domino singing his 50’s recording of “I want to walk you home”.  The young couple is the very picture of sweet and innocent, young love.  She raises her cell phone to text him  . . “Hi”  . . .  he grins self-consciously and steps off the curb to respond to her text, while crossing the street toward her.   He does not see it, but the audience is horrified as an approaching delivery van, strikes him.  The final scene is of a traditional English funeral procession where the pall bearers carry the coffin and a procession of mourners march along behind, still to the lyrics of “I want to walk you home”.
This footage is part of a series "Pay Attention, Don't Pay the Price" which is pretty graphic, but does get your attention. The storyline above starts at 1:10 and runs through 1:50.

Yes, distraction by an electronic device can be a hazard to even pedestrians.  I had this demonstrated to me in a frighteningly similar scenario, just a few evenings ago.  While proceeding down a two lane residential arterial street, in a relatively dark area, made more so because it was not only well after sunset but raining, a dim movement caught my eye, coming from my left.  A young man, dressed in a dark jacket, but thankfully wearing lighter colored pants – the movement of his legs was the only thing visible - was attempting to cross the street, in a place where drivers would not expect a pedestrian to cross as there is no crosswalk even close to that spot.

He was busy, apparently texting based on the way he was holding his mobile phone, and did not become aware of the presence of my truck and trailer bearing down on him until he heard the squeal of the tires as I nearly jack-knifed the rig to avoid running him down.  My wife was in the cab with me, and neither of us could believe we missed him by the scant few inches between us and him, when we stopped.   He continued hurrying through the rain, and I’m not certain the pedestrian even realized how close he came to becoming yet another sad statistic in the growing number of fatalities related to distraction.     

Once we both calmed enough to speak and continue on our way home, my wife and I couldn’t help but wonder how many time before this young man had crossed a street, obviously unaware of the danger of his actions.  Paying more attention to his phone, than to his surroundings.  

Please don’t become a statistic; don’t just hang up and drive, but keep your attention on where you are walking, and when you cross the street, especially after dark, in our typically rainy winter weather, hang up and live.    

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Washington records 51 workplace deaths in 2011 – a historic low

Contributed by Tom Odegaard, Executive Director, Evergreen Safety Council

Washington’s Department of Labor & Industries announced on March 14 that a historic low was reached in 2011 when 51 workers suffered fatal workplace injuries.  This was the lowest in state history. 

In recent years, Washington has averaged between 80 and 90 work-related deaths annually. The previous low was in 2009 when 65 workers died on the job.

The 2011 report, which was compiled by researchers with L & I’s  Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation (FACE) program, noted that fewer workers in the agriculture, forestry, fishing and manufacturing industries died on the job. There were also fewer incidents involving multiple victims.

Additional information contained in the report revealed:
  • On-the-job motor vehicle accidents were the number one cause of workplace fatalities in 2011 with 19 such deaths (37%), eight of which involved heavy or tractor trailer truck drivers. 
  •  Small businesses with 10 or fewer workers accounted for a third of all workplace fatalities. 
  • The 50-59 age group of workers suffered the most deaths.
  • Fatalities in the construction industry continued to remain low, with six deaths reported in 2011.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

First Aid in a Nutshell

Contributed by Kat Spitz, First Aid / CPR Instructor, Evergreen Safety Council
Have you or someone you know ever needed First Aid, but you weren’t sure what to do?  If you think about it, there are so many things, from a skinned knee, to severe bleeding, or even cardiac arrest that can, and do, happen to people every day.  
A triangle bandage makes a sling

 It used to be that if you hadn’t had a comprehensive First Aid class in the recent past, you would probably not have a clue what to do in most of these circumstances.  In the “olden days” you could perhaps take the time to look it up in a large manual or heaven forbid, an encyclopedia!  But you probably didn’t travel around with one of those, and in the time it took you to go get one, your patient’s health could be declining rapidly.

In today’s climate, with all of our technological doo-dads, you probably have that first aid manual right in your pocket or briefcase; completely accessible to you almost anywhere you go!

If you have a laptop, iPad or smart phone, you pretty much have all the information you need right at your fingertips via gotoAID.
Addressing a head wound

You should really check this site out!  It is the most complete, comprehensive and easily accessible First Aid resource I’ve ever come across.  And, are you ready for this?  The website has complete First Aid information for not only “People”, but for “Cats” and “Dogs” as well! 

Remember though, it is no substitute for 9-1-1 when it comes to serious injuries or heart/respiratory emergencies (see “People”!), but it sure is nice to have around. This site can help you know what to do to stabilize your patient while you wait for help to arrive.

It also makes you look really smart.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Lead Renovator Marketshare

Contributed by Al Filmore, Trainer/Consultant, Evergreen Safety Council

Are you just going to avoid working on pre-1978 houses? More and more contractors and companies are doing just that. 

Almost 70% of the homes in King County were built prior to 1978. So if you, like many others, are choosing to NOT become a Lead Renovator, you are limiting yourself to only about 30% of the available market in King County. 

In addition, houses built before 1978 are significantly more likely to require repairs and repainting than the homes that were built more recently. Why would you want to limit the amount of work that you can get in this economy? Perhaps you already have more than enough work and are turning down jobs, or perhaps it is the change and all the new rules. 

Evergreen can help you and your workers understand the new rules. To become certified you would pay $240 per worker for the 1-day class, and another $25 to the state to become a certified firm.  But after these onetime costs (and a refresher class every 5 years) you would be putting yourself above your competition and open yourself and your company to a lot more jobs opportunities.

Visit our website for more information the training schedule and to register for a training class.