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It is estimated one in every five American workers is over the age of 65, and in 2020, one in four will be over 55, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The Silver Tsunami, as the phenomenon of the older population (aged 55 and older) being in the workforce has been named, will account for more than 25 percent of the U.S. workers by 2022, up from 14 percent in 2002.

This demographic shift has made the issue of workplace safety, especially for those of advanced age, in the forefront of many discussions, prompting safety professionals and researchers to strategize on best practices to accommodate them. The risk of injuries increases with age, and rehabilitation from an injury also increases dramatically. Data from the 2014 Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses showed that among injured construction workers, the median days away from work averaged 20 for 45-54 age group, 21 for workers 55-64 years old and 37 for those 65 and older.

This same survey data showed employees aged 45 to 54 experienced musculoskeletal disorders at a rate of about 40 per 10,000 full-time workers – the highest among all demographics. Older workers were much more likely to experience trunk, back, shoulder and knee injuries than their younger counterparts. Also, the risk of fatal falls across all industries increases with age. While workers aged 20-24 years old accounted for 8.2 percent of fatal falls in 2014, the rate for older groups increases with age:
• 45-54: 16.8 percent
• 55-64: 20.7 percent
• 65 and older: 27.3 percent

Many injuries to the older population lead to disabilities as their bodies take much longer to heal or may never get back to their pre-injury state. Disability plays a big role when working with our aging population. The American Disability Act (ADA) requires employers to offer reasonable accommodations to qualified individuals. For older workers with disabilities, reasonable, and often simple and inexpensive, workplace accommodations can promote job retention, including:
• Accessible parking spaces
• Screen magnification software
• Periodic rest breaks away from the workstation
• Part-time work schedules
• Flexible scheduling due to stamina issues or the effects of medications
• A sit-stand desk
• Time off for medical treatment
• Enhanced health and wellness programs and disability management

With trends showing the continued aging workforce increasing, employers should take initiatives to create more age-friendly workplaces. Need some help putting strategies in place, give us a call at Workplace Safety – 317-253-9737.

Nearly 5 million people are treated for skin cancer each year in the United States, at an estimated annual cost of $8.1 billion. Skin cancer can be serious, expensive and sometimes deadly.

PDF - https://www.cdc.gov/cancer/skin/pdf/skincancer_employees.pdf

National Preparedness Month (NPM) is recognized each September. Even though this push tends to be a reminder we must prepare ourselves and our families for a multitude of Mother Nature disasters and encourages us to take time to learn lifesaving skills such as CPR and first aid, we must not forget the workplace.

Disasters can manifest in a variety of ways, and the workplace is definitely not exempt. Tornadoes, floods and weather-related disasters bring havoc, and do you know if your employees know what to do in such situations? What about workplace violence? A chemical spill? A fire? Taking preventative measures and planning ahead are important aspects to staying calm and keeping your employees safe.

First step is making sure there is an evacuation plan in place. Ready.gov recommends regularly testing your building’s communication system as it is of the utmost importance that employees can clearly hear instructions. If no such system is in place, have a backup plan, such as speaking through a bullhorn to relay information. Other tips include:
• Make sure every floor of the building has two exits that are kept clear
• Assign specific evacuation roles to employees to help direct co-workers to safety and to account for all employees being present
• Contact your local fire department to create an evacuation plan for workers with disabilities

Taking Shelter
Mother Nature has been on a bit of a rampage in the recent years, and while Indiana may not technically be in tornado alley, it seems we are just across the street! If severe weather is a threat, sound a distinct warning and move all workers to the strongest part of the building or structure. It is important to conduct regularly scheduled emergency drills, so employees know what to do and to ensure the building’s safe areas provide enough room for everyone.

Lockdown Situation
Workplace violence is a serious occupational hazard, ranking in the top four causes of death in the workplace for the past 15 years. Ready.gov recommends if gunfire is suspected, employees should find a hiding place and stay quiet. If possible, workers should hide in a room – under a desk and away from windows and doors – and lock and barricade the door. Employees should stay hidden until authorities, such as the police, release them.

Dangerous Materials
If you suspect a gas leak or chemical spill has occurred, National Safety Council recommends the following acronym – E.S.C.A.P.E.:
• E: Exit the area
• S: Secure the scene
• C: Call 911
• A: Assess the problem
• P: Pull your building’s fire alarm
• E: Exit the building

In honor of National Preparedness Month, make it a point to ensure the safety of your workers. Workplace Safety & Health is here to help you do just that. Give us a call – 317-253-9737.

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has cited Jax Utilities Management Inc., a Jacksonville utilities contractor, for exposing employees to trenching hazards. The company faces proposed penalties of $271,606.

Read entire article - https://www.osha.gov/news/newsreleases/region4/03072018

Manual dexterity – the use of hands, fingers and thumbs to perform everything from very basic to very complex motions - is something we may take for granted much of the time.

But when these most intricate and useful manual appendages find themselves in harm’s way, the results are hard to ignore.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than a million workers visit the emergency room with hand injuries each year. Approximately 110,000 hand injuries result in lost time at work (1) with the average hand injury resulting to six days away from the job. The average claim is about $6,000, while the average workers' compensation claim comes to about $7,500. In all, the hands account for about 13 percent of all industrial injuries each year.

Depending on the industry, some workplace injuries routinely involve the possibility of exposure to toxic materials through the skin. In fact, the Pocket Guide to Chemical Hazards (2) from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) lists approximately 450 organic substances for which skin protection is required.

As the body’s largest organ, the skin represents a major route for chemical exposure. Toxins can damage the skin directly, be absorbed into the body through the skin or enter through hand-to-mouth transfer. To complicate matters, results of numerous studies indicate that chemical absorption through the skin can go unnoticed by someone going about his or her work routine.

So, one might argue, when it comes to chemical protective clothing for the hands, why not just have workers don heavily insulated, chemically impervious mitts and be done with it? The reason, of course, is that most jobs require a level of tactility that limits the practicality of such a design, even it were possible to fabricate.

Here’s another argument for not just throwing on any old set of gloves. According to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (Occupational Safety and Health Administration/OSHA), 30 percent of workers who suffered hand injuries were wearing gloves that were inadequate, damaged or were the wrong type for the hazard. Perhaps even more telling is that the other 70 percent who sustained a hand injury were not wearing gloves at the time of the incident (3).

When it comes to choosing chemical protective clothing, organizations should weigh factors such as cost, practicality, toxicity, and workplace exposure conditions.

OSHA’s Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) standard (1910.132) calls for a hazard assessment that includes conducting a survey of each operation, identifying specific potential hazards, organizing the data and analyzing the information. This analysis should include a determination of the level of risk and seriousness of the potential injury from each hazard found in the area.

It’s important to keep in mind that commonly available glove materials provide only limited protection against many chemicals. Gloves also represent an opportunity for sweat to build up, leading to potential discomfort and health issues. That means selecting the best fit for a particular application, which includes determining how long gloves can be worn and whether they can be reused (4).

Because they are not always reliable as a source of protection, gloves are not recommended by NIOSH or OSHA as a primary defense against chemical exposure.

Rather, chemical protective clothing for the hands should be one part of a comprehensive approach that includes practices such as isolation, training and environmental monitoring.

References
1. 2014 USA National Safety Council. 2014 injury data.
2. www.cdc.gov/niosh/npg/
3. www.osha.gov/pls/oshaweb/owadisp.show_document?p_table=standards&p_id=9777
4. www.cdc.gov/niosh/ncpc/default.html

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