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Web Series on General Office Safety - Part 4 of 4

Posted by Joshua Fleishman on Thu, Dec 27, 2012 @ 03:01 PM

We're finally here! Welcome back to the 4th (and final) part of Safety Training Service's web series on general office safety! If you haven't had a chance to read parts 1 through 3, you may find them here:

 Part One | Part Two | Part Three

According to OSHA, the majority of general industry accidents come in the form of slips, trips, and falls. These can result in back injuries, strains and sprains, contusions, and fractures.

OSHA also states that 15% of all accidental deaths are caused by slips, trips, and falls. In fact, they are second only to motor vehicles as a cause of fatalities. The standards for slips, trips, and falls are in the Code of Federal Regulations, under the heading "Subpart D" or 29 CFR 1910.22-30. This covers cause and prevention and included are housekeeping, ladder safety, floor openings and stairways.

Simpsons - Fall SafetySlips can occur when floors or other working surfaces become slippery due to wet or oily processes, floor cleaning, leaks, or from materials and debris left in walkways.

Trips can occur due to uneven floor or working surfaces, protruding nails and boards, from stretched carpet or bunched floor mats intended to prevent slipping, from holes or depressions in working surfaces, and from step-risers that are not uniform in height.

Falls can be a result of both slips and trips. In addition, improper ladder maintenance/use and stairways or elevated working surfaces that are not designed properly can result in a fall accident.


What can cause slips, trips, and falls? Just to name a few, ice, wet spots, grease, polished floors, loose flooring or carpeting, uneven walking surfaces, clutter, electrical cords, open desk drawers/filing cabinets, damaged ladder steps.

Here's a great compiled list of possible solutions for prevention. Some should be obvious, but ignored:
  • Keep walkways and stairs clear of scrap and debrisSimpsons - Slips, Trips, and Falls
  • Coiling up extension cords, lines, and hoses when not in use
  • Keeping electrical and other wires out of the way
  • Wearing lug soles in icy weather
  • Clearing parking lots, stairs, and walkways in snowy weather
  • Using salt/sand as needed
  • Where wet or potentially wet working conditions, maintain proper drainage and provide false floors, platforms, nonslip mats or floor surfaces, or other dry standing places (where practicable)
  • Create nonslip surfaces in slippery areas by using no-skid waxes and/or grit-coated products
  • Use slip-resistant footwear
  • If a floor or working surface becomes wet, clean promptly and frequently
  • Use/provide warning signs for wet floors
  • Power/electrical cords that must cross walkways/aisles should be taped down (it is preferable to avoid this entirely by using floor plugs, if possible)
  • Walkways/aisles should be kept clear at all times and should be wide enough for easy movement
  • Carpet bulges or bunched up areas of carpet should be re-laid or stretched to prevent tripping
  • Keep cabinets/drawers closed
  • Eliminate clutter, obstructed work areas, and uneven floor surfaces
  • Good lighting should be provided for all halls and stairwells, especially at night
  • Stairs should have proper handrails and treads/risers should be maintained with slip-resistant surfaces, if possible
  • Use handrails on stairs, don't run, and request help managing bulky loads. You must have an unobstructed view of the stairs
  • Elevated storage and work surfaces should have guardrails, toe boards, and a permanent means of access
  • Floor drains, pits, or any other floor opening should be covered or protected with guardrails
  • Ladders should be properly maintained and have evenly spaced rungs and nonslip safety feet to reach items.
  • Stools, chairs, boxes are NOT substitutes for ladders!
  • Employees should be properly trained in the safe use of ladders

Ergonomics in the workplace

Having a comfortable work environment promotes a healthy physical and mental lifestyle. Adapting the workplace to you as a worker is the goal of an ergonomics program. But what really is "ergonomics?" It is a term often used and often misunderstood.
Ergonomics (according to Merriam-Webster's Dictionary) is "an applied science concerned with designing and arranging things people use so that the people and things interact most efficiently and safely." Ergonomics aims to improve the practicality, efficiency, and safety of a person working with a single machine or device (e.g., using a telephone, driving a car, or operating a computer terminal).
Setting up your workspace

You should set up your workspace into THREE zones:
  1. Primary Zone - This will be all the items you use on a very regular basis. This is the distance from your elbow to your hand. Such items may include your keyboard, mouse, and a notepad.
  2. Secondary Zone - These are the items within your arm's reach. Position the items that you use often but not as frequently as the ones in your primary zone. What do you use periodically? Maybe its your phone, calculator, and some trays for paperwork.
  3. Reference Zone - This is for your least-often used items. This zone is outside your arm's reach. Could be whatever you personally use least, it might be a utensil cup, plant(s), clock or even photos.

Ergonomics includes adjustments to your "body" as well. Listed below is 10 things to adjust, if necessary, to "you" in order to enhance your comfort at in your workplace.

  1. Take frequent recovery pauses from typing.Simpsons - Ergonomics
  2. Maintain a straight wrist position when typing.
  3. Avoid resting on your wrists while typing.
  4. Use a light touch on mouse and keys while typing.
  5. Maintain good health habits.
  6. Adjust keyboard and chair height to keep wrists straight.
  7. Place mouse next to the keyboard.
  8. Keep your feet on the floor or use a footrest for support.
  9. Support your lower back and use armrests, if possible, to comfortably support your arms.
  10. Throughout the day, adjust your chair positions, your posture and vary your tasks.

If you are using a laptop computer, optimizing its work surface, ergonomically speaking, can be a bit tricky. A special base that helps adjust the height and angle of a laptop monitor for a healthier and more comfortable work experience has been developed for exactly this situation.

Visual Discomfort
Research to date has not found any permanent effects on vision from computer use. However, eye strain and visual discomfort can result in reduced performance. In fact, it is the most common complaint among computer users. 
So what do you DO about it? Its 2012, so chances are, computers are not going anywere anytime soon so here are some tips to help avoid eye strain at the computer:
  • Blink more! We blink only 1/5th as much looking at a computer monitor as reading a newspaper. Try lowering your monitor so you are looking down, in order to help promote this.
  • Move your monitor back a little bit. Our eyes are adapted for distance vision. Yet, most office work is done close to our eyes. Compensate for this by moving your chair periodically or adjust the distance/height of your monitor.
  • Have a bigger monitor? Try increasing the size of your font/images. And of course, move back further from the screen.
  • Try moving documents/items on your screen to different sides. Right eye dominant? Left eye? Try moving your email/documents to the left or the right and see if that is more comfortable for you.
  • What about after all these tips, you still seem to have some discomfort? Try some glasses or seeing an eye care specialist. Seriously, its not the 70's/80's anymore, that stigma of the nerdy kid with glasses is gone! Get a sweet pair for the sole purpose of reading/working with computer monitors or similar devices. I am wearing mine as I type this, but use them generally just for this purpose and take them off when not working.
Regarding lighting of the work surface; it is suggested to have a ceiling light hung right above your computer monitor. This maximizes lighting of the overall work surface with minimal glare on the monitor itself. Not possible? Completely understandable. But lighting can have a considerable effect on both your comfort and performance. How? Oh, I'm so glad you asked. Let's take a look:

Fluorescent lights?

Harsh, excessively bright. Causes eye strains and glare.

Too little lighting?

Eye strain with paper documents, "gloomy" work atmosphere.

Windows?

Can cause lighting/glare problems, but given the choice most people would probably prefer having natural light and a view.

Direct Sunlight?

Not adjustable, unfortunately. Can be much brighter then what is actually needed.

Improving lighting has many benefits. It can reduce glare, increase work productivity and quality, and save on energy! Lighting should be lower then that for reading (many due to the computer monitor giving off its own light). The best way to optimize light levels should be to set a low level overall (overhead/indirect lighting), and use task lighting for situational use (desk lamps, undercabinet lights, etc.). 

Two things I would like to mention, but won't spend as much time on is temperature/humidity and noise.

Its pretty simple actually, too high of a temperature cause fatigue and uncomfortablity which leads to slumping & slouching. Awkward postures are too be avoided, as they are bad for your health. Too cold of a temperature can lead to muscle tension, increased risk for tendinitis, and other such health risks/issues. Humidity also falls into this discussion, seeing as too low a level can cause dry skin and reduced snsation in your fingertips (increasing the amount of force necessary for various tasks). Too much humidity can make your environment feel "stuffy" and the temperature seems higher than it actually is. Humidity also has an effect on actual or perceived indoor air quality.
Noise usually is not an issue as far as being damaging to our hearing in an office environment, but the fact that it can be darn distracting to some makes it potentially devastating to worker productivity and/or performance. I can go on and on (I probably will later in another blog specifically geared towards noise in the workplace) but will cut to the important stuff for right now--what to DO when a noise problem arises!
  • Reduce or eliminate at the source whenever possible.Office Space - Milton
  • Maintain equipment to prevent noisy malfunctions.
  • Isolate or enclose equipment that generates noise even when it's in good repair.
  • Have conference rooms available for meetings and conversations.
As far as just a neighbor who playing music too loud? Be polite and ask them to turn it down or use headphones (if possible). 

Lifting

Simpsons - Proper LiftingIf lifting is included in an employee's tasks, then the employer is obligated to teach the employee the best way to lift. You may choose to have safety training for your employees covering ergonomics and lifting limits. Ultimately employees should know how to properly lift, when to get help, and when to use mechanical means rather than manually lifting an object.
Well, I am here to help with 5 solid tips to lift by:
  • Keep object close to the body, don't reach out for an object.
  • Move slowly and purposefully, don't jerk or twist.
  • Feet should be shoulder width apart.
  • Lift with your legs, not your back!
  • Keep the back in a neutral position, bending should be done at the hips and knees. Keep knees slightly bent, never locked straight.
Proper Lift Technique
Rest/Stretch/Exercise Breaks
Breaks are encouraged! They help workers with a few minutes of recovery from the mental and physical demands of their jobs. This doesn't mean I'm trying to telling you to be a slacker, but micro breaks (1-3 minutes every hour, or half hour even) has shown to reduce discomfort while improving productivity. Use this time to get something to drink, have a quick stretch or even do some light exercise. 

Remember for more relevant safety information, be sure to subscribe to our STS Blog & 'LIKE' us on Facebook. Feel free to leave a comment below to let us know what you think, and remember if you have any questions/concerns about your or your company's safety, you can contact Safety Training Services, Inc. by clicking the button below! 

Contact STS Today!

Tags: proper lifting technique, fall safety, slips, general office safety, ergonomics, trips and falls, safety training topics

Christmas Tree Fire Safety

Posted by Joshua Fleishman on Thu, Dec 20, 2012 @ 11:46 AM

Thank you Authority Safes for the great advice on Christmas Tree Fire Safety and Holiday Lights! For all those who celebrate the holiday of Christmas, have a SAFE one! Always be mindful of electrical and fire hazards around your tree as well--fake or not! And finally, here's the great video we posted at the end of November on Christmas Tree fire safety. Click here for video

Christmas Tree Fire Safety 

Tags: christmas tree fire safety, fire safety

Web Series on General Office Safety - Part 3 of 4

Posted by Joshua Fleishman on Thu, Dec 20, 2012 @ 08:19 AM

Welcome to Part 3 of our web series on general office safety!

Emergency ExitsSimpsons - Emergency Exits

OSHA states that a workplace normally must have at least two exit routes (I will cover what that means in just a moment) for proper evacuation. Just so we’re clear though, as you’d expect, there are exceptions to every rule. Basically, a workplace should have as many or as little exit routes as needed to safely evacuate all employees/personnel.

Getting back to exit routes, the OSHA definition is pretty straightforward. An exit route is a continuous and unobstructed path of exit travel from any point within a workplace to a place of safety. They go on to explain that an exit route consists of three parts:

 

  • Exit access – portion of an exit route that leads to an exit.
  • Exit – portion of an exit route that is generally separated from other areas to provide a protected way of travel to the exit discharge.
  • Exit discharge – part of the exit route that leads directly outside or to a street, walkway, refuge area, public way or open space with access to the outside.

Easy, right? Well also, per OSHA’s instruction, make sure to locate exit routes that are as far away as practical from each other in case one is blocked by fire or smoke.

Safety Plans

These are unfortunately many times overlooked and underutilized!

Emergency Action Plans (EAP)

Although OSHA only requires an EAP when there is an applicable standard that would require it, it is strongly recommended that all employers have one. For companies with 10 or fewer employees, you have a choice to communicate your plan orally. However, if you are more than 10 employees strong, you will not only have to write down your plan but also keep it in the workplace and make it available for employees to see/review.


You may ask yourself, “What goes into an emergency action plan?” Well, good thing, because I am going to give you a good idea right here, per OSHA:

  • Simpsons - Emergency Action PlansProcedures for reporting fires and other emergencies.
  • Procedures for emergency evacuation.
  • Procedures to account for all employees after evacuation.
  • Alarm system to alert workers.

…just to name a few and give you an indication of what should go in. Trust me, there’s more to it, but know that essentially it is a means to keep all employees safe during an emergency and to keep some order in doing so. Make sure to review the plan and train your employees whenever the plan changes or employees responsibilities change under the plan.

Fire Prevention Plans (FPP)

As you may or may not have suspected, the same scenario is at play here as far as OSHA is concerned.

  • 10 or less employees = orally discuss FPP
  • More than 10 = written plan, kept in workplace, available to employees
  • Must have FPP if standard requires it
  • Strongly recommended regardless of requirement

I would be remiss to not include what types of information should be found in a FPP, so here we go (Thanks again OSHA for this info)!

  • List of all major fire hazards, proper handling and storage proceduresSimpsons - Emergency Plans for hazardous materials, potential ignition sources and their control, and the type of fire protection equipment necessary to control each major hazard.
  • Procedures to control accumulations of flammable and combustible waste materials.
  • Procedures for regular maintenance of safeguards installed on heat-producing equipment to prevent the accidental ignition of combustible materials.
  • Name or job title of employees responsible for maintaining equipment to prevent or control sources of ignition or fires.

Again, remember to review this with your employees (especially those parts of the fire prevention plan necessary for self-protection). And you must inform your employees of any fire hazards they may be exposed to.

Any questions related to Emergency Exits, Safety/Fire Plans can be addressed through our Consulting Services--we’ve never charged for phone calls!

Remember! OSHA states that each employer must provide relative safety training to their job responsibilities prior to first task. Make sure to keep training relevant and up-to-date! Remember your annual refresher courses for any subject can keep employees proficient. Training should communicate workplace hazards and how to avoid or control hazards. Safety training (even if/when not required) should be well-documented and kept in a known spot for providing proof when necessary.

Let me see  the classes!

Tags: emergency exit safety, fire protection plan, emergency action plan, safety training topics

Web Series on General Office Safety - Part 2 of 4

Posted by Joshua Fleishman on Thu, Dec 13, 2012 @ 09:09 AM

Welcome back to part 2 of our 4 part series on general office safety! If you missed out on part one, you may check it out here!

PPE (Personal Protective Equipment)


Simpsons - PPE 01PPE is designed to protect you from hazards related to your work. Examples of PPE are hard hats, foot guards, safety shoes, leggings, glasses/goggles, shields, earplugs, respirators, gloves, vests and coveralls. OSHA requires you to complete a Hazard Assessment to determine what these hazards are, provide workers with appropriate PPE and require them to use and maintain it in a sanitary and reliable condition. 

Pictured examples of safety equipment along with other some information on safety equipment can be found (rentals & sales) through the STS Equipment Page.


SDS (Safety Data Sheets; formerly known as MSDS)

 

Simpsons - Chemical SDSGlobal Harmonization changed the label from MSDS to SDS, with a permanent change coming in 2015. OSHA requires that these data sheets be available to employees for potentially harmful substances handled in the workplace. Basically, these are intended to provide the workers and also emergency personnel the information necessary to safely handle/work with said substances. This information may include physical and/or chemical data and format may differ (currently there is no official way to format SDS). Below are some examples of what information you may find on SDS.

Melting Point

Boiling Point

Flash Point

Toxicity

Health Effects

First Aid

Reactivity

Storage

Disposal

Protective Equipment

Spill-Handling Procedures

 

Ladder Safety

OSHA states that falls from portable ladders are one of the leading causes of occupational fatalities and injuries.

General Ladder Safety - 01

Well, the first thing I am going to say about ladder safety is that it does not matter if you are a backyard amateur wrestler (people still do that, right?), putting up lights on the roof, cleaning your gutter, or simply photographing a rock climber, knowing and following some easy-to-remember tips can very easily make a difference in your life.

Ever heard of the three point-of-contact climb?

Chances are, a lot of you readers have heard of this concept. Essentially, it is used to keep the climber stable so that if one limb slips, they still will likely be able to keep on the ladder. 

10 tips to Remember about Ladder Safety

  1. Simpsons - Ladder SafetyALWAYS read/follow the labels on the ladder. Until the climber is familiar with this information, they are not considered "adequately" trained!
  2. Never jump down from a ladder/slide down the rungs. Hopefully that is common sense to you, but also remember not to climb up or down more then one rung at a time either.
  3. Inspect the ladder prior to using it! What kind of environment is around? Any water? Any electrical apparatuses? And make sure if a ladder is damaged to remove it and tag it for service or replace it.
  4. Make sure to select the correct ladder/size for the job. How do you know? Well the ladder must be long enough so that the climber does not use the top rung. The only exception should be if said rung/step was designed for that purpose.
  5. All locks should be properly engaged on extension ladders. 
  6. The maximum load rating is there for a reason! Adhere to it! And make sure to note that added tools and equipment need to be factored in, not just YOUR weight.
  7. Ladder's don't care about the "buddy system." As in, only ONE climber on a ladder at a time (again, the exception is when the ladder is designed otherwise).
  8. Wind/storms are BAD. Do not use ladders in such conditions.
  9. Are you tired? Dizzy? Discombobulated? Accident prone? Do not get on a ladder. 
  10. Lastly, ladders should be used on stable surfaces, preferably level. Make sure to secure ladder (both top and bottom) so as to eliminate the ladder falling over. And PLEASE do not set up ladders on boxes or barrels or OTHER ladders or any other ridiculously ingenious (but TOTALLY UNSAFE) thing I've seen.
Ladder Safety 02<----- Don't do this ------>
Ladder Safety 03
I hope you enjoyed reading a little more about PPE, SDS, and Ladder Safety. Remember for all your relevant safety news, like us on Facebook or add our safety blog. See you next Thursday!
Contact STS Today!

Tags: sds, ppe, safety data sheets, ladder safety, general office safety, safety training topics

Web Series on General Office Safety - Part 1 of 4

Posted by Joshua Fleishman on Thu, Dec 06, 2012 @ 08:13 AM

When you think of office safety, what are some of the first things to come into your head?

The Simpsons - General Office SafetyFire extinguishers? First aid kits? Excellent! You are on the right track, but there are some other key pieces to that puzzle we love called “safety.” However, talking about ALL of them would take me MUCH longer then one simple web blog; which is why I have decided to span the information out to a 4-part web series that will take place all throughout the month of December.

Ok, so the first thing a lot of us think is first aid kits, right? Remember these tips while searching for a kit.

  • First aid kits should be easily accessible to all employees
  • Remember to make sure the kit is adequate for the number of people in your workplace
  • Keep it stocked & fresh; no sense in having a great-looking kit with the contents expired (Don’t forget bandages & wraps have expiration dates too!)
  • Decide how you will keep it up-to-date; buy items individually, buy refill packs or just hire someone to do it for you

Don't wait until there is an emergency! Make sure you have a working, satisfactory kit that will be there ready when you are. Oh you don’t? Or you aren’t satisfied with the service you currently have? Well then I have some great news for you, Safety Training Services can help. Visit our “Technical Services” page and find out how. Or just contact us and ask!

What else should be around before disaster strikes? Fire extinguishers? Exactly! No workplace (or home for that matter) should be without. Let’s take a look at how & what to look at when purchasing (or renting) fire extinguishers.Fire Extinguisher Safety


Fire extinguishers come in various shapes and sizes, and can be either rechargeable or non-rechargeable. Rechargeable are made to be reused and non-rechargeable must be replaced after use (even if only partially discharged); though both types (rechargeable & non) need to be serviced annually by a certified person/company. Servicing is also necessary whenever seal is broken. This could result from continual use, age or even just external tampering. Once a seal is broken, the unit is in danger of not working. Monthly checks should also supplement your professional annual checks. Learn how to do your own monthly extinguisher checks by clicking hereKeep in mind that fire extinguisher training is available as well. There is little value in having a fire extinguisher if you do not know how to use it!


Know your fires…


Not all are the same! As you may or may not be aware, fires start from an array of materials. Because of this, they are classified into 4 groups:

  • The Simpsons - Fire SafetyClass A – These are fires started with ordinary solid combustibles (things such as wood, cloth, paper, etc.).
  • Class B – These are fires started with flammable gases and liquids (things like paints, grease, tar, alcohol, etc.).
  • Class C – These are fires started by energized electrical equipment (things like short-circuiting, overloaded cables, etc.).
  • Class D - These are fires caused by the combustion of metals such as Aluminum, Magnesium, Lithium, Sodium, Potassium and their alloys.
  • Class E - These are fires involving electrical apparatus. 
  • Class F/K – These are fires started generally in the kitchen or a kitchen-like setting (things like oils and fats).

The good news is that the first three classes of fires can be fought with one particular extinguisher. The “ABC” fire extinguishers are filled with mono ammonium phosphate, which is a dry chemical agent. Class D fires will require special purpose powder extinguishers. If you feel you may need one of these extinguishers or have questions regarding these extinguishers, please contact one of our fire extinguisher professionals here. Class E extinguishers use carbon dioxide to treat the fire. And lastly, Class F/K fire extinguishers (again, generally associated with kitchens & cooking appliances) are filled with a blend of potassium acetate and potassium citrate; which makes them ideal and very effective in combating those types of fires.

What about clean up?

Clean can be as simple as wiping the area with a towel or just vaccuuming the residue up. The biggest challenge is simply knowing what chemical your extinguisher contains. I have linked a great do-it-yourself for fire extinguisher clean up found here.

Make sure to consult a professional here at Safety Training Services, Inc. when buying/renting fire equipment so you have the right tool for the job or if you have any further questions regarding the subject. We are here to help; the majority of our staff are career firefighters. Feeling up to more reading on the subject? Click here to be whisked away to our “Fire Extinguisher Services” page.

Contact STS Today!

Tags: fire extinguisher safety, first aid training, general office safety, safety training topics