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Clocks will spring forward on Sunday, March 11 as we begin Daylight Saving Time. Even though we welcome the bright mornings as a signal that winter is finally coming to an end, we do miss that lost hour of sleep and we might even have to deal with our body clock disruption.

Now you may think one hour of lost sleep isn’t much, but many of us deal with lack of sleep on a regular basis. The effects of fatigue are far-reaching and can have an adverse impact on all areas of our lives, including workplace safety.

March is Sleep Awareness Month, and it’s a good time to remind people that getting a good night’s sleep is a necessity. More than 43% of workers are sleep-deprived, and sleep deprivation and drowsiness on the job can be a major safety issue, especially in safety-critical positions that involve operating machinery, driving or other tasks that require alertness.

Adults need an average of seven to nine hours of sleep each night, but 63 percent of Americans reported their sleep needs are not being met each week. According to Circadian (link to website - http://www.circadian.com/), a global leader in providing 24/7 workforce performance and safety solutions for businesses that operate around the clock, sleep deprivation is frequently the root cause of decreased productivity, accidents, incidents and mistakes which cost companies billions of dollars each year.

Sleep deprived individuals are poor communicators, have decreased vigilance and slower response time, become distracted easily, and are more prone to engage in risky decision making. Interesting point is if you have four or more nights of less than seven hours of sleep per night, it can be the equivalent to a total night of sleep deprivation and that can affect your functioning for up to two weeks.

And what about operating machinery or driving while sleepy? Drowsy driving is impaired driving, and the National Safety Council research showed:
• You are three times more likely to be in a car crash if fatigued
• Losing even two hours of sleep is similar to the effect of having three beers
• Being awake for more than 20 hours is the equivalent of being legally drunk (22 hours of sleep deprivation results in neurobehavioral performance impairment that are comparable to a 0.08 percent blood alcohol level)

The loss of sleep is not only detrimental to workplace safety, it is a major player in employees’ overall health. Chronic sleep-deprivation causes depression, obesity, cardiovascular disease and other illnesses. It is estimated fatigue costs U.S. employers more than $136 billion a year in health-related lost productivity.

So, time to get some shut eye in the name of workplace safety and health!

Changing behavior could help many more Americans avoid cancer. That’s according to a new American Cancer Society (ACS) study that calculates the contribution of several modifiable risk factors to cancer occurrence. The study finds that more that more than 40 percent of cancer cases and deaths in the U.S. are associated with these major modifiable risk factors, many of which can be mitigated with prevention strategies.

Read entire article - https://www.cancer.org/latest-news/more-than-4-in-10-cancers-and-cancer-deaths-linked-to-modifiable-risk-factors.html

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Although it might not always feel like it (particularly in the depths of mid-winter), February is the shortest month.

For many kinds of workplaces, it’s also time to post workplace injury summaries from the previous calendar year.

The U.S. Department of Labor requires companies to post Form 300A from Feb. 1 through April 30 each year. The form shows a summary of the total number of job-related injuries and illnesses that occurred over the previous year. The form also shows the annual average number of employees and total hours worked during the calendar year.

The form must be displayed in a common area where notices to employees are normally posted.

Required on the summary is the total number of work-related injuries and illnesses that occurred last year and that were recorded on OSHA Form 300, Log of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses.

What if an organization had no recordable injuries last year, you ask? That’s always good news, but it must still be reported, simply by placing zeroes on the total lines.

Exempt from federal OSHA injury and illness posting requirements are companies with 10 or fewer employees and employers in certain industries in the retail, services, finance, insurance and real estate sectors. For more on this, visit https://www.osha.gov/recordkeeping/ppt1/RK1exempttable.html.

How can you recognize whether an injury or illness is considered work-related by OSHA? If an event or exposure in the work environment caused or contributed to the condition or significantly aggravated a pre-existing condition, it’s work-related. A work environment includes the establishment and other locations where one or more employees are working or are present as a condition of their employment.

For more information on posting requirements, contact the recordkeeping coordinator at your OSHA Regional office (refer to https://www.osha.gov/html/RAmap.html). If your workplace is in a state with its own occupational safety agency, reach out to the state plan office (visit https://www.osha.gov/dcsp/osp/ for a directory).

The U.S. Food & Drug Administration recently published "Technical Considerations for Additive Manufactured Medical Devices," a guidance document for industry and the FDA staff and said it is the world's first agency to provide a comprehensive technical framework to advise manufacturers creating medical products on 3D printers.

The document, available at https://www.fda.gov/downloads/MedicalDevices/DeviceRegulationandGuidance/GuidanceDocuments/UCM499809.pdf, addresses a range of issues, from design, software, and materials (both starting materials and reuse of materials) to post-processing, device testing, biocompatibility, and labeling.

Read entire article - https://www.fda.gov/NewsEvents/Newsroom/PressAnnouncements/ucm587547.htm

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Prolonged blasts of arctic air throughout much of Eastern United States in December and January have reminded us just how severe and dangerous winter weather can be, especially for those who find themselves outdoors in it.

Anyone exposed to extreme cold, such as in a work environment, may be at risk of cold stress – when body heat is lost faster than it can be produced. What constitutes cold stress and its effects can vary from region to region. That means that in places typically unaccustomed to wintry weather, even near-freezing temperatures are considered factors for cold stress. Such weather-related conditions may lead to serious health problems.

OSHA's Cold Stress Guide at https://www.osha.gov/SLTC/emergencypreparedness/guides/cold.html offers a number of tips for avoiding cold stress on the job, while reminding employers of their responsibility to keep workers safe under Section 5(a)(1) of the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970.

According to the guide, “Employers should train workers on how to prevent and recognize cold stress illnesses and injuries and how to apply first aid treatment. Workers should be trained on the appropriate engineering controls, personal protective equipment and work practices to reduce the risk of cold stress.”

Some of these are common sense practices, like wearing inner and outer layers of clothing to stay both dry and warm, donning a hat and/or hood, and putting on waterproof and insulated gloves and boots.

Others involve taking frequent breaks in a warm area, working in pairs so either one might spot danger signs, and notifying a supervisor or calling for medical help immediately if a worker has signs or symptoms of hypothermia or another cold-related illness or injury.

Still others involve engineering controls like providing radiant heaters to warm workers in outdoor security stations, and where possible, shielding work areas from drafts or wind to cut down on wind chill.

Perhaps the two most salient points in OSHA’s Cold Stress Guide are recommendations that both employers and employees be proactive and alert, both good practices for dealing with winter – and workplace safety – in general.

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