Archives for June 2018
Boosting employee morale extends beyond the money and the perks, and sometimes requires a little creativity and silliness. Thanks to our friends at Rombourne Serviced Offices for asking us to participate in their team-building activity survey! Read on to learn how to Beat the New Year Blues: How to increase office morale in January … or beat cabin fever in March … or summertime heat in June … or holiday anxiety in December … These tips are great year round.
Prevention and Treatment Tips for Heat Related Illnesses
The temperature in my hometown on June 13, 1980 was above 100˚ with a heat index of 113˚. I remember these numbers clearly, as my father was one of many heat-related deaths during the summer heat wave of 1980.
Summer should be a time of barbeques, swimming, family vacations, gardening, fishing, mowing the grass, and basking in golden rays of sunshine. And it can be, if you learn to respect the heat.
Your responsibility to your outdoor workers is two-fold in the summer: (1) assure that they remain hydrated and protected, and (2) recognize the signs of heat exhaustion and know how to respond accordingly. The following tips will help you protect your most valuable assets:
Heat takes a toll on the body, and everyone has a different tolerance to conditions. The following tips are provided to help prevent heat-related illness:
- Schedule work to alleviate full-day exposure to the heat
- Summer hours may need to be adjusted to an earlier or later shift in order to avoid the peak heat of the day, typically between 12:00 am and 4:00 pm
- Keep cool bottled water accessible to your workers at all times
- Recommended water intake is 4 cups per hour (1 Liter)
- Water should be consumed steadily throughout the day
- Avoid sugary and caffeinated drinks
- Chilled fruits like grapes and strawberries are another good source of hydration and can help cool the body temperature down
- Eat light meals – vegetables and fruits contain higher water content
- Dress in light, breathable clothing (cotton)
- Keep chilled towels for workers to wipe their faces or drape around their necks
- Schedule frequent breaks in designated shade or cooling areas where workers can rest out of the direct sunlight
- Employees should pace themselves – safe always wins over speed
- Wear sunscreen and brimmed hats, when possible
USE THE BUDDY SYSTEM
The buddy system is not just for kids. When working in severe heat, it is critical that your employees watch out for one another. This means they need to know the signs of heat cramps, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke.
Heat cramps are the mildest form of heat-related illnesses. Muscles spasms usually occur first in the arms or legs and typically result from the loss of salt and electrolytes that occurs from sweating. Workers experiencing heat cramps should recognize this symptom as a need to drink water.
What to do: Drinking a cup of water for every 15 minutes of direct exposure (1L per hour) will help prevent heat cramps. If a worker experiences heat cramps, they should sit in a shaded area, drink water, and do some gentle stretches
Heat exhaustion is a serious indication that the body is overheating and requires immediate attention. Signs of heat exhaustion may include:
- Rapid breathing
- Clammy, cool-to-the-touch skin
- Dizziness or fainting
- Dry mouth
- Excessive sweating
- Headache, nausea, or vomiting
- Rapid or weak pulse
- Paleness or weakness
- Flu-like symptoms, including diarrhea
What to do: Move the worker to a cool area, loosen any tight or restrictive clothing, apply cool wet towels to the skin or spray the person with cool water. Fan the person and get them to drink water slowly. If the overheated person won’t drink, starts to vomit, or passes out, call 911 for immediate medical attention.
Heat stroke is the most serious of all heat-related illnesses and requires immediate medical attention. Heat stroke indicates that the body can no longer cool itself and is an immediate health threat. Heat stroke often leads to severe organ damage or death. DIAL 911!
Signs of heat stroke include:
- Hot, red skin
- Body temperature of 104˚ or higher
- Lack of sweating
- Chills or vomiting
- Rapid pulse
- Slurred speech
- Disorientation, confusion, or total loss of consciousness
What to do: DIAL 911!
- Move the worker to a shaded, cool area
- Position the person to a half-sitting stance
- Remove tight clothing and fan the person
- Immerse the worker in cold water or apply cold, wet towels or ice to the skin
- Do NOT allow the worker to drink
Preventing heat-related illnesses is everyone’s responsibility. Train your workers in what to look for and how to respond to heat exposures and related illnesses, and have a safe summer!
Does your company have formal safety policies in place? Are you responsible for workforce safety or risk management? Contact our safety and risk management firm in Kansas City or give us a call at (816) 349-0850 to see how we can help design a safety and risk management plan that meets your unique needs.
Perhaps the most critical safety protocol when repairing a drill press at your manufacturing facility is your LOCKOUT TAGOUT program.
What is a LOCKOUT TAGOUT Program?
This program identifies specific locking/tagging equipment and establishes specific procedures for de-energizing and discharging stored energy so that work can safely be conducted on machinery and equipment. The lockout tagout (“LOTO”) program assures that all energized and moving parts of the equipment are isolated and cannot be operated during LOTO status.
A strong LOTO program entails:
- A central location for all lockout tagout equipment;
- Standard equipment, consistent in color, shape, size, font, and format so as to be easily identifiable by all employees;
- Standard equipment which is durable and proven to withstand all environmental conditions (rain, snow, ice, heat, cold) in which it may be used;
- Sturdy equipment which affixes securely to the equipment which is being locked out, and which cannot be removed or have its seal broken inadvertently;
- A documentation system which clearly identifies the person affixing the LOTO device, and identifying the purpose of the LOTO status;
- A unique key or combination for each device, so that one key will not open multiple locks.
When used for electrical work, LOTO must occur at the circuit disconnect switch.
- When and how to use the LOTO procedure
- Specific steps for shutting down equipment, isolating power sources, discharging stored energy, and securing equipment
- Proper placement and removal of LOTO devices
- Testing of machinery or equipment prior to commencement of work
Drill Press Repair: LOCKOUT TAGOUT Protocol
Using our example of repairing an industrial drill press, the following steps must be followed:
- Notify all affected employees of equipment lockout/tagout
- Shut down the machine
- Isolate and/or block the energy source
- Lockout/tagout the energy source(s) by affixing the lockout or tagout device
- Discharge stored energy
- Verify equipment isolation from energized sources
Prior to removing LOTO devices and restoring power to the drill press, the following steps must be followed:
- Remove tools and materials from the work site
- Advise coworkers that LOTO devices are being removed
- Clear non-essential employees from the work area
- Verify power controls are in “OFF” position
- Remove LOTO devices
- Re-energize equipment
- Conduct test to verify working condition
Authorized and affected employees – those exposed to hazardous energy – must be trained in LOTO. OSHA 3120 lockout tagout regulations can be found here. There is no substitute for safety, and nowhere is that more evident than in the manufacturing industry. What does your lockout/tagout policy look like?
Are you responsible for safety and compliance at your organization? Does your company have formal safety policies in place? Contact our commercial risk and safety consulting firm at (816) 349-0850 to see how we can help design a safety and risk management plan that meets your unique needs.
Improving Safety Through Employee Engagement
One of the most overused phrases in the corporate world is the infamous “employee engagement.” The term is most often used to describe a worker’s loyalty to the company. Surveys are conducted and numbers are crunched. Markers for measuring employee engagement are usually aligned with a company’s long-term strategic goals. Employee retention and loyalty are important, but what else matters when measuring engagement?
Safety should be a substantial marker in measuring employee engagement in the manufacturing sector. Shoe factories use hot glue machines, furniture factories use nail guns and industrial sewing machines, recycling facilities use shears and cutters, printing companies use large staplers and conveyors, pottery manufacturers use large, high temperature kilns. Every item you touch on a routine basis is cut, shorn, stapled, glued, sewn, fitted, molded, compressed, assembled – or all of the above – somewhere. Large, industrial machines are run by human operators to produce these products. Less modern facilities may operate older machinery, whereas their modern counterparts operate newer equipment. Regardless, human hands are operating the tools, equipment, and control panels that perform this work.
The manufacturing industry has a high rate of reportable hearing loss and hand injuries (cuts, lacerations, amputations, burns). Puncture wounds frequently occur from the careless use of staplers and nail guns. Failure to wear proper eye protection frequently leads to eye injuries in the manufacturing environment. Amputations and crush injuries can result from untucked shirt tails, long hair, and jewelry getting caught in moving machinery. Burns are often reported as a result of coming in contact with hot machinery, glues, or solvents. Strain and sprain injuries are common in this sector, as materials and finished products are transferred from production to the warehouse on fork lifts, by hand trucks, and sometimes by good old fashioned brute strength. The order fulfillment process often requires reaching overhead, stretching, bending, and twisting maneuvers that lead to back strain and sprain injuries.
Engaged employees take the time to assess their environment, their tools, and their processes. They feel empowered to make decisions, and they look after their co-workers. Safety becomes a priority in an engaged workforce. Injuries decrease and production and morale increase. Investing in safety is always a win-win proposition.
Does your company have formal safety policies in place? Are you responsible for workforce safety or risk management? Contact us or give us a call at (816) 349-0850 to see how we can help design a safety and risk management plan that meets your unique needs.