Forklift vehicles are not like automobiles; they’re about twice as heavy, due to the counterbalance weight needed to carry large loads. Because forklifts are so heavy, when a pedestrian worker gets injured by a forklift vehicle, the injury is often very serious and sometimes fatal. To avoid becoming a victim of a forklift accident, be constantly aware of the forklift activities around you both in your immediate work area and in other areas of the workplace you may need to go. Continue reading
Every year, there are hundreds of accidental deaths in the United States from carbon monoxide poisoning. Some of these deaths occur in the workplace. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports every year worker deaths in private industry from carbon monoxide exposure. Continue reading
Advising employees to be careful when lifting makes sense both from a health standpoint and a financial one. The U.S. Department of Labor states that back injuries are the second most common reason for lost work days (behind only the common cold). Back injuries cost businesses up to $100 billion a year. But there are some things you can suggest to employees––and do yourself––to curb such injuries in your small business. Continue reading
It’s probably happened to most of us. That momentary lapse of inattention thinking about a personal problem or distracted by an activity that ends in a slip, trip or fall. A stumble down a stairway. A trip over an uneven surface. Slipping on the ice. It can lead to a variety of regrettable events ranging from a simple bruised shin to an extremely serious injury. It’s just one of a variety of conditions and situations that set the stage for slips, trips and falls in the workplace. Continue reading
Cal/OSHA requires employers to provide safety training in a language that is understandable to their workers. With today’s multilingual workforce, the attempt to comply with this regulation can be a challenge. In order to assure that all workers understand important safety information, employers first must be aware of their workers’ native languages. They also need to assess their workers’ ability to understand English in written and verbal forms. Then they need to provide instruction in those native languages, provide translators, or translate the safety materials.
In order for employers to identify the best way to communicate to their multi-lingual work force; they can test worker understanding using simple and complex written documents and verbal instructions. Workers may be uncomfortable demonstrating that they don’t understand the information presented in English. They may be reluctant to ask for instructions in their own language or for repeated English instructions. A worker may nod their head or say “yes” while you explain something, but may not understand you. Ask the worker to repeat instructions back to you. Ask them to demonstrate the technique, etc. that you just taught them. Encourage workers to ask for help or clarification when they need it.
If an employer translates or offers training in another language, the same materials and amount of detail must be covered as the English language training. Interactive training provides workers with hands-on experience and allows them a chance to ask questions. Give simple, direct verbal instructions such as “wear your hardhat” instead of “hard hats are required onsite to protect your health and safety” and give directions in the order that they should be performed. For example, “First, open the door. Then, remove the hardware.” Don’t say, “Remove the hardware after you open the door”.
Workplace documents that must be translated include hazard warning signs and lockout-tagout devices and signs. Safety and hazard signs should have pictures and words that everyone can understand. Confirm that all of your employees understand the signs’ directions. If the job has many technical terms for material and equipment, teach workers what the words mean.
Translate company safety policies and procedures. Translate equipment manuals and instruction booklets. Provide material safety data sheets (MSDS) in appropriate languages so your workers know how to properly handle, store, and dispose of chemicals. When you have materials translated, ask a bilingual reader to review them for mistakes.
Identify bilingual workers that can serve as interpreters on the job site, during training, or act as resources for reviewing written materials. Make sure workers know who is bilingual on the job and encourage them to use interpreters as a communication resource.
By Judy Kerry, State Compensation Insurance Fund
Stimulants – such as energy or caffeinated drinks and supplements or prescription and recreational dugs – can affect workplace safety. Caffeine is the most common stimulant. In moderation, it can increase energy, but it affects people differently. If you overuse caffeine, you can feel nervous and irritable, anxious, and get an abnormal heart rhythm. You may have difficulty concentrating and sleeping, leading to mistakes on the job. You may miss your body’s signals that it is tired and you should slow down, leading to strains, sprains and injuries. Because caffeine is a diuretic, it can cause frequent urination, dehydration, and heat illness, if you’re exposed to hot work environments or heavy exercise. You should know your caffeine tolerance.
Energy drinks are another popular source of caffeine. Overuse of a high caffeine content energy drink can lead to dehydration, nausea, vomiting, and heart irregularities. Never mix an energy drink with alcohol; the combination can mask the effects of alcohol, causing you to over-indulge. Energy drinks may contain other additives like amino acids, carbohydrates (sugars), vitamins, and herbs that can have their own side effects. Read product labels to get the ingredients, potential side effects, and directions on amounts you can drink in a day.
Energy supplements available in pill or tablet from that contain caffeine, sugar, herbs and vitamins claim to boost strength, alertness, energy, and/or weight loss but they too can have mild to serious side effects. Read supplement labels for ingredients, use, and dose directions.
Control the amounts of stimulant drinks and supplements you use. Don’t drive or operate machinery if you are feeling the effects of stimulant overuse. Know the signs and symptoms of overuse in yourself and coworkers.
Workplace safety is about protecting public sector employees from work-related injury and illness.
1. Protects the employees’ well-being
2. Reduces the amount of money paid out in:
- health insurance benefits,
- workers’ compensation benefits and
- wages for temporary help.
3. Saves the cost of:
- lost-work hours (days away from work or restricted hours or job transfer),
- time spent in orienting temporary help,
- programs and services that may suffer due to fewer employees,
- stress on those employees who are picking up the absent workers’ share or, worse case,
- suspension or shutting down a program due to lack of employees.
4. Addressing Safety and Health Hazards in the Workplace
To make the workplace safer, determine where and what and how a worker is likely to become injured or ill before it occurs.
Job hazard analysis
Examine the relationship between the worker, the task, the tools and the work environment.
Start with analyzing individual workstations and program areas for hazards—the potential for harm—be it a frayed electrical cord, repetitive motion, toxic chemicals, mold, lead paint or lifting heavy objects.
5. Co-Workers Affect Each Other’s Safety
Employees’ health and safety are affected not only by their own actions but by those of their co-workers.
Senior management must:
help employees manage hazards associated with their work (tasks or responsibilities).
determine that employees are fit for work. Fitness for work involves:
- drug and alcohol issues,
- physical and emotional well-being, and
- fatigue and stress.
6. Create Ownership of the Program
People need to be involved in the creation and use of the workplace safety program for it to succeed.
The entity is responsible for supplying appropriate safety equipment, but employees are responsible for wearing personal protective equipment at the appropriate time and place.
The entity should provide training to help employees carry out their assignments, but workers are responsible for attending this training, asking questions and telling supervisors if they do not understand what is being explained.
Allow for Continuous Improvement
In workplace safety and health, continuous improvement is about:
- seeking better ways to work;
- measuring performance;
- reporting against set targets;
- evaluating compliance with procedures, standards and regulations;
- understanding the causes of incidents and injuries; and
- openly acknowledging and promptly correcting any deficiencies.
- Measure Performance
Performance can be measured by:
- reduction in frequency of lost-time injury
- reduction in frequency of medical treatment (beyond first-aid care) injury
- reduction in number of sick days used
- lower workers’ compensation costs
- lower medical benefits payments (doctor’s visits, prescription drugs)
The Americans with Disabilities Act establishes an employer’s affirmative duty to accommodate qualified employees or job applicants in performing the essential aspects of a job.
It is important that the employer’s commitment to reasonable accommodation is emphasized in writing in the safety manual, and in the employee handbook. The Title I employment provisions apply to private employers, state and local governments, employment agencies, and labor unions with 15 or more employees. Some accommodations can be achieved by making changes in personnel selection and training procedures to eliminate requirements that are not essential to a particular job.
Accommodations can also be achieved by restructuring the job to eliminate nonessential tasks and modifying work schedules.
Occupational Safety and Health Act (29 CFR, 1970) covers all employees in 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and other territories under the jurisdiction of the U.S. government. Many states have created their own programs under this law, which are required to meet all the requirements of OSHA. There are currently 22 states and jurisdictions operating complete state plans that cover private sector employees.
The general duty clause reads, “Each employer shall furnish…a place of employment which is free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm to his employees.”
Agencies with full regulatory powers to assure compliance have a right to visit and conduct workplace investigations, and to impose fines for noncompliance.
Nearly every working man and woman in the nation comes under OSHA’s jurisdiction (with some exceptions, such as miners, transportation workers, many public employees, and the self-employed).
Seek assistance through OSHA’s consultation services.
Consultation services are not enforcement! This is an important distinction, so don’t overlook this important opportunity to gather knowledge from the experienced.