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Personal Protection - Storage, Maintenance and Care (Sep/Oct-12)
Machine Safeguarding (Jul/Aug-12)
Is Your Lockout & Tagout Program Working? (May/Jun-12)
Getting Familiar with OSHA (Mar/Apr-12)
Is Your Piping Systems Properly Marked? (Jan/Feb-12)
Accident Prevention, Does Your Company Have An Effective Program? (Nov/Dec-11)
Defining FR – Flame Resistant Fabrics (Jul/Aug-11)
OSHA's Flammable & Combustible Liquids (May/Jun-11)
Safety & Health Program Check-up (Jan/Feb-11)
OSHA Is My Friend (Nov/Dec-10)
OSHA Standard for Control of Hazardous Energy Sources? (Sep/Oct-10)
Lockout/Tagout Program (Jul/Aug-10)
Safe Handling of Compressed Gas Cylinders (May/Jun-10)
What You Should Know about OSHA and Plastic Working Machinery (Mar/Apr-10)
Fasten Those Forklift Seat Belts (Jan/Feb-10)
My Back Hurts (Nov/Dec-09)
Fall Protection Program (Sep/Oct-09)
Accident Prevention & Investigation (Jul/Aug-09)
OSHA & Machine Safeguarding (May/Jun-09)
Carbon Monoxide Hazards (Mar/Apr-09)
OSHA Electrical Safety and Training (Jan/Feb-09)
Free Forklift ANSI Standards (Nov/Dec-08)
Worksite Fire Emergencies (Sep/Oct-08)
Machine Safety (Jul/Aug-08)
Ladder Safety (May/Jun-08)
Is Your Company on OSHA's Hit List?
OSHA Notifies Workplaces with High Injury and Illness Rates (Mar/Apr-08)
Safety Means . . . Never Having to Say You're Sorry (Jan/Feb-08)
Flammables and Combustible Liquids (Nov/Dec-07)
Designing-In Safety NOT Retrofitting Safety (Sep/Oct-07)
Back Safety and Lifting (Jul/Aug-07)
Machine Guarding (May/Jun-07)
Your Hearing Keep it for a Lifetime (Mar/Apr-07)
Light Up the Holidays the Safe Way (Nov/Dec-06)
Would You Risk Your Employee's Life? (Sep/Oct-06)
How to Control Workers' Compensation Costs (Jul/Aug-06)
Compliance with 70E Electrical Standards (May/Jun-06)
OSHA Is on the Move (Mar/Apr-06)
Workplace Violence (Jan/Feb-06)
The Aging Workforce (Nov/Dec-05)
The Safety Paradox (Sep/Oct-05)
Machine Guarding (Jul/Aug-05)
Effective Risk Management (May/Jun-05)
Safety Is Everyone's Business (Mar/Apr-05)
New Year's Resolution Safety (Jan/Feb-05)
Safe Driving (Nov/Dec-04)
Terror In The Skies Revisited (Sep/Oct-04)
How They Got Hurt (Jul/Aug-04)
In-Plant Air Monitoring & Analysis (May/Jun-04)
Safety on the Job and Complying with the Americans With Disabilities Act (Mar/Apr-04)
Link to Article Archive (Jan/Feb-04)
A Supervisor's Duty (Nov/Dec-03)
Machine Safety – Are Your Machines Safe to Operate? (Sep/Oct-03)
Summer is Here (Jul/Aug-03)
Working Safely On Powered Industrial Trucks (Forklifts) (May/Jun-03)
Does Your Safety and Health Workplace Program Contain All of These Elements? (Mar/Apr-03)
Methylene Chloride (Jan/Feb-03)
Safety Signs & Labels - Does Your Facility Comply? (Nov/Dec-02)
Indoor Air Quality (Sep/Oct-02)
When OSHA Arrives (Jul/Aug-02)
Facts About the Occupation Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) (May/Jun-02)
Workplace Fire Safety (Mar/Apr-02)
OSHA 300 Form (Jan/Feb-02)
Preparing for Disaster (Nov/Dec-01)
How Much is a Life Worth? (Sep/Oct-01)
Material Handling Programs (Jul/Aug-01)
It's Up To You To Protect Your Skin (May/Jun-01)
When You’ve Been Handed the Responsibility for Safety (Mar/Apr-01)
A Fresh Look at Machine Safeguarding (Jan/Feb-01)
Safe Work Habits (Nov/Dec-00)
The Importance of Material Safety Data Sheets (Sep/Oct-00)
Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response (Jul/Aug-00)
Lockout/Tagout Program (May/Jun-00)
OSHA Violations, Citations and Penalties for 1998 (Mar/Apr-00)
Erogonomics and Machinery Safeguarding (Jan/Feb-00)
General Machine Principles (Nov/Dec-99)
SAFETY SOLUTIONS
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SAFETY SOLUTIONS: Summer is Here
The snow shovels have been put away in most parts of the country, winter clothing has been put into storage, flowers are in bloom and schools are closed for the summer. What do these all these events have in common? Summer is here and we should take safety a little more seriously, since there are new hazards to be found at work and also in the home.

Let’s start at work; I have toured several facilities recently and many of these industrial plants are letting people wear shorts and work around machinery, chemicals and other hazards. Good idea? No – believe it or not, long pants and proper attire function as a piece of personal protective equipment.

OSHA requires that each place of employment conduct an area specific survey conducted by a competent person. This person will then prepare a written report that identifies what personal protective equipment and especially clothing needs to be worn throughout your plant. Have you done yours?

What about workers or family members working in the summer heat? When I was a compliance officer, one of my investigations was to conduct a fatality investigation where a young man of age 18 died on the job. Another item that recently made the papers was the death of a Viking’s football player. Cause of both of these deaths? Heat stress.

The following information can help you on the job and also at home now that summer is rearing its head. Know the specific signs of heat stress related problems: OSHA Fact Sheet No. OSHA 95-16 states the following:

Protecting Workers In Hot Environments

Many workers spend some part of their working day in a hot environment. Workers in foundries, laundries, construction projects, and bakeries — to name a few industries — often face hot conditions which pose special hazards to safety and health.

Heat Stress Causes Body Reactions

Four environmental factors affect the amount of stress a worker faces in a hot work area: temperature, humidity, radiant heat (such as from the sun or a furnace) and air velocity. Perhaps most important to the level of stress an individual faces are personal characteristics such as age, weight, fitness, medical condition and acclimatization to the heat.

The body reacts to high external temperature by circulating blood to the skin which increases skin temperature and allows the body to give off its excess heat through the skin. However, if the muscles are being used for physical labor, less blood is available to flow to the skin and release the heat.

Sweating is another means the body uses to maintain a stable internal body temperature in the face of heat. However, sweating is effective only if the humidity level is low enough to permit evaporation and if the fluids and salts lost are adequately replaced.

Of course there are many steps a person might choose to take to reduce the risk of heat stress, such as moving to a cooler place, reducing the work pace or load, or removing or loosening some clothing. But if the body cannot dispose of excess heat, it will store it. When this hap-pens, the body’s core temperature rises and the heart rate increases. As the body continues to store heat, the individual begins to lose concentration and has difficulty focusing on a task, may become irritable or sick and often loses the desire to drink. The next stage is most often fainting and death is possible if the person is not removed from the heat stress.

Heat Disorders

Heat stroke, the most serious health problem for workers in hot environments, is caused by the failure of the body’s internal mechanism to regulate its core temperature. Sweating stops and the body can no longer rid itself of excess heat.

Signs include

  • mental confusion, delirium, loss of consciousness, convulsions or coma;?
  • a body temperature of 106 degrees F or higher;
  • and hot dry skin which may be red, mottled, or bluish.

Victims of heat stroke will die unless treated promptly. While awaiting medical help, the victim must be removed to a cool area and his or her clothing soaked with cool water. He or she should be fanned vigorously to increase cooling. Prompt first aid can prevent permanent injury to the brain and other vital organs.

Heat exhaustion results from loss of fluid through sweating when a worker has failed to drink enough fluids or take in enough salt or both. The worker with heat exhaustion still sweats but experiences extreme weakness or fatigue, giddiness, nausea, or headache. The skin is clammy and moist, the complexion pale or flushed, and the body temperature normal or slightly higher. Treatment is usually simple: the victim should rest in a cool place and drink an electrolyte solution (a beverage used by athletes to quickly restore potassium, calcium, and magnesium salts). Severe cases involving victims who vomit or lose consciousness may require longer treatment under medical supervision.

Heat cramps, painful spasms of the muscles, are caused when workers drink large quantities of water but fail to replace their body’s salt loss. Tired muscles – those used for performing the work – are usually the ones most susceptible to cramps. Cramps may occur during or after working hours and may be relieved by taking liquids by mouth or saline solutions intravenously for quicker relief, if medically determined to be required.

Fainting (heat syncope) may be a problem for the worker not acclimatized to a hot environment who simply stands still in the heat. Victims usually recover quickly after a brief period of lying down. Moving around, rather than standing still, will usually reduce the possibility of fainting.

Heat rash, also known as prickly heat, may occur in hot and humid environments where sweat is not easily removed from the surface of the skin by evaporation. When extensive or complicated by infection, heat rash can be so uncomfortable that it inhibits sleep and impedes a worker’s performance or even results in temporary total disability. It can be prevented by resting in a cool place and allowing the skin to dry.

Preventing Heat Stress

Most heat-related health problems can be prevented or the risk of developing them reduced. Following a few basic precautions should lessen heat stress.

1. A variety of engineering controls including general ventilation and spot cooling by local exhaust ventilation at points of high heat production may be helpful. Shielding is required as protection from radiant heat sources. Evaporative cooling and mechanical refrigeration are other ways to reduce heat. Cooling fans can also reduce heat in hot conditions. Eliminating steam leaks will also help. Equipment modifications, the use of power tools to reduce manual labor and personal cooling devices or protective clothing are other ways to reduce the hazards of heat exposure for workers.

2. Work practices such as providing plenty of drinking water – as much as a quart per worker per hour – at the workplace can help reduce the risk of heat disorders. Training first aid workers to recognize and treat heat stress disorders and making the names of trained staff known to all workers is essential. Employers should also consider an individual worker’s physical condition when determining his or her fitness for working in hot environments. Older workers, obese workers and personnel on some types of medication are at greater risk.

3. Alternating work and rest periods with longer rest periods in a cool area can help workers avoid heat stress. If possible, heavy work should be scheduled during the cooler parts of the day and appropriate protective clothing provided. Supervisors should be trained to detect early signs of heat stress and should permit workers to interrupt their work if they are extremely uncomfortable.

4. Acclimatization to the heat through short exposures followed by longer periods of work in the hot environment can reduce heat stress. New employees and workers returning from an absence of two weeks or more should have a 5-day period of acclimatization. This period should begin with 50 percent of the normal workload and time exposure the first day and gradually building up to 100 percent on the fifth day.

5. Employee education is vital so that workers are aware of the need to replace fluids and salt lost through sweat and can recognize dehydration, exhaustion, fainting, heat cramps, salt deficiency, heat exhaustion and heat stroke as heat disorders. Workers should also be informed of the importance of daily weighing before and after work to avoid dehydration.

Now that summer is here make sure that your home is also a safe place to be. Do you have a pool? Is it fenced? Does everyone know how to swim and in a worst case scenario are there people who can provide first aid and CPR. If not, it is time to put you home summer safety plan together.

If you are going on vacation, please ensure that the family vehicle is in top running order. Tires, brakes, windshield wipers, air conditioning, fluid, etc. should be in good repair before you set off on a trip.

Keep summer safe for you and your family. The National Safety Council www.NSC.org and other safety councils have items posted to their websites to help you prepare for summer. Visit these sites, enjoy your summer fun and please stay safe.

For more information, click on the Author Biography link at the top of this page.

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