Prevent Machinery Related Injuries

Crushed hands and arms, severed fingers, and blindness are just a few of the long horrifying list of possible machinery-related injuries.

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Any machine part, function or process that may cause injury must be safeguarded to ensure you are protecting yourself while operating machinery.  Accidents usually result from a combination of factors that include both hazardous machine conditions and careless human actions.  Safety procedures like Lockout/Tagout are critical for the service and maintenance of machinery or electrical systems where employees or students could be hurt by the unexpected start up, or energization, of the equipment.

Safety Tips:

  • Recognize the hazards by identifying all actions and hazards associated with each piece of equipment or machinery.
  • Ensure proper use of safeguarding and reinforce the program by training, education and enforcement.
  • Develop an effective Lockout/Tagout program to ensure that machines and circuits are properly shut off or de-energized to prevent unexpected startups.
  • Avoid wearing loose clothing and jewelry and keep long hair tied back.
  • Use proper methods of safeguarding.

Poster-Eye-Protection2

What a Pain – Elbow Sprains and Strains

Tennise-ElbowRepetitive stress injuries are temporary or permanent injuries to muscles, nerves, ligaments, and tendons that are caused by performing the same motion over and over again. Common repetitive motion injuries are carpal tunnel syndrome, epicondylitis or “tennis elbow.”

Epicondylitis or “tennis elbow” typically is caused by using certain tools over and over for long periods of time, often in an awkward position. Injuries of this type are painful and can be debilitating, so it’s important to identify repetitive tasks and take steps to reduce the risk of repetitive motion injuries.

Ways to Prevent Elbow Sprains and Strains:

  • Look for a tool that needs less force to use and a handle that fits your hand well.
  • Make sure that the tools you use are in good condition.
  • Keep your wrists as straight as possible when using tools.
  • Use power tools when possible to minimize stress on wrists, hands, and arms.
  • Keep tools in good condition to reduce vibration and the force required to use them.

Common Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Misconceptions

PPEPersonal protective equipment (PPE) helps to keep millions of employees safe in the workplace. From goggles to steel-toe boots, PPE plays a vital part in reducing employee exposure to hazards.  Below are common PPE misconceptions:

  • “If my staff won’t wear PPE, I can’t make them”
    • If PPE has been deemed necessary, then it is not optional and employers can require its use.
  • “The more PPE I wear the better”
    • Overprotection and under protection can be equally dangerous, according to the Kimberly-Clark Professional: Exceptional Workplaces website.
      • Overprotection may lead to heat stress caused by wearing too many layers.
      • Under protection may lead to chronic health problems after years of exposure to certain hazardous substances.
      • Find PPE that offers the best protection and that provides the greatest comfort to the wearer.
  • “Gloves are slippery, I can’t get a good grip” or “I can’t wear gloves, I have a latex allergy”
    • Find gloves that have a textured finish on the fingertips, they will make it easier to grasp small and lightweight objects such as test tubes and glassware.
    •  Individuals with a latex allergy can switch to a alternative, such as nitrile, neoprene or vinyl gloves.
  • “This job will only take a minute, I can skip putting on PPE” Or “One piece of PPE is good enough”
    • It only takes a second for an accident to occur. Whether the job only puts you in a hazardous situation for 10 minutes or 10 hours, you still need to have on all required PPE. Exceptions lead to injuries and deaths.PPE
    • You need to wear all PPE that is required for a particular job. If you don’t, it could have serious ramifications, like injury and death. While working with chemicals you may be wearing glasses to protect your eyes, but if you’re not wearing gloves or a proper jacket your hands and body are vulnerable to chemical burns. When deciding what types of PPE are needed for a job, consider all areas of the body, from head to toe and everywhere in between.
  • “Cleaning and storing PPE isn’t that important”
    • After each use, PPE must be properly cleaned and stored according to their instructions. If PPE is damaged it won’t function the way it’s intended which leaves you open to injury and health hazards. Damaged or worn-out PPE should be immediately be replaced.

Confined Spaces Safety

Confined spaces are either partially or completely enclosed working environments. They are only meant for short term single worker occupancy and are dangerous. Only trained workers who understand the hazards and dangers as well as all safety requirements are allowed to enter these areas.

The workplace safety infographic below identifies the four key characteristics of confined spaces and provides a clear explanation and illustration for safety.

Confined Spaces Safety

Courtesy of Compliance & Safety

Seasonal Safety – Hello Summer! Part 2

Summer Safety TipsTypically we are still anticipating the warm summer days this time of year, but summer has arrived with record breaking force. While some of us are excited for summer’s long days filled with warmth and fun, there can be a not-so-sunny side to hot summer days.  Visits to the emergency room tend to peak during summertime.

Don’t let summertime hazards ruin your summer; from heat-related illness to water safety, from travel to cookouts, Kaiser Permanente has some great safety tips to protect ourselves and our family. They’ve also created this awesome infographic that would be a perfect reminder to post on your fridge.

Enjoy the Summer Sun, But Be Safe!

Seasonal Safety – Hello Summer!

Weather Forecast

Stay Safe! We’ve got a heat wave coming!

As we say goodbye to spring and hello to warm Summer days, we need to be aware of hazards that summer weather can negatively effect your health and well-being.

When working outdoors in the hot summer months, cover up, use sunscreen, and limit exposure to UV rays which are most intense between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. The sun can be very damaging to your skin if it is left unprotected so make sure to use sunscreen and dress appropriately. Keep all clothing light colors. Darker fabric will attract and absorb the sun.  Wear clothes that breath. Nothing should be too tight, this allows fresh air to flow over your skin and help you stay cool. Sunglasses and hats are great accessories for the summer season. Sunglasses will help to protect your eyes from harmful UV rays and hats are great at preventing sunburn and they also help keep your body slightly cooler.

Heat illness can be deadly, always remember: water, rest, shade. Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids like water or Gatorade, stay away from sugary soda and energy drinks as they can speed up dehydration. Take breaks and go indoors or into an air-conditioned car. It is important to allow your body a chance to recover from the heat. If you feel dizzy, weak or nauseous take a break immediately. If your symptoms do not go away after getting out of the heat, you should seek medical attention.

Working in an office does not mean you are exempt from summertime hazards.  Flip-flops are notorious for slips, trips, and falls. Open-toed shoes and sandals are also notorious for creating workplace safety hazards.

Be prepared and stay safe during these hot summer months.

Back Basics – Pick Up Tips

Lifting Safety
Proper lifting technique and appropriate planning is critical to back safety and preventing lifting injuries. Before you lift that box, tool or piece of equipment consider the following:

  • Examine the object for sharp corners, slippery spots or other potential hazards.
  • Know your limit and do not try to exceed it.
  • Ask for help if needed.
  • If possible, divide the load to make it lighter.
  • Know where you are going to set the item down and make sure the destination and your path are free of obstructions.

Poor lifting technique can cause both acute injury and serious chronic effects. Learning the right way to lift will help you avoid these problems.

  • Do not attempt to lift by bending forward.
  • Avoid turning or twisting your body while lifting or holding a heavy object.
  • Never lift a heavy object above shoulder level.
  • Keep your feet shoulder-width apart with one foot slightly ahead of the other (think karate stance).
  • Tighten your stomach muscles to keep your back in good lifting position, thereby creating your own internal support.
  • Lift slowly with your legs. Squat down, keep your back straight, and bend at the hips and knees only.
  • Hold and lift the object as close to your body as possible at the level of your belly button. Maintain a firm hold on the object you are lifting.
  • Take short steps.
  • Set down your load carefully, squatting with the knees and hips only.

Consider using mechanical help wherever possible. Oftentimes the item you are moving can be moved with a dolly, hand truck or forklift. If the item needs to be moved manually and it is heavy or awkward in shape, ask for help or make sure you have someone around who can help you lift.

Watch Your Step – Slips, Trips, and Fall Safety

Slips, trips and falls are the most frequent accidents leading to personal injury. They can result in head injuries, back injuries, broken bones, sprained muscles, or cuts and lacerations.

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Most slips, trips and fall incidents are preventable by maintaining awareness of your surroundings and paying attention to your walking surface.

  • Watch out for wet or waxed floors.
  • Do not text while walking.
  • Report for repair rugs and carpets that are frayed or are not properly tacked down.
  • Use caution when walking over loose flooring, tiles, bricks, pavement or floorboards.
  • Clean up or report all spills and wet areas immediately. Don’t wait for a small spill or wet area to dry itself.Lost time resulting from slips, trips, and falls
  • Tidy up your area; even a small object on the floor can cause a trip and fall.
  • Keep extension cords out of pathways. Use walkway cord covers if necessary.
  • Report for repair or replacement any stair treads that are cracked or worn.
  • Don’t store materials, boxes, etc. in hallways, aisles or stairs.
  • Carry only what you can handle. Don’t rush and never carry a load you can’t see over.
  • Keep file cabinet and desk drawers closed.
  • Report any stairways and hallways that are not lit well.
  • Never use furniture or boxes as makeshift ladders. Use a sturdy, balanced stepladder or a step stool.
  • Make sure your cuff or hem isn’t so long that you catch a heel while walking.

If you see a safety hazard on campus, please contact ehs@greenriver.edu.

Slips, Trips, Falls, Accidental DeathReport any accidents or incidents – even minor ones. Minor injuries occur in greater numbers than serious injuries and records of these injuries can pinpoint problem areas and prevent someone from experiencing a more serious injury down the line.

Help the EH&S Committee maintain a safe campus.

Watch Your Step – Ladder Safety

Each year, many workers in Washington State are seriously injured from falling off ladders at work. These injuries include dislocated limbs, broken bones and head injuries. In a few cases, workers haven died from their injuries. These accidents occur because:

  • The ladder moves, falls over or is set up improperly.
  • The worker slips on the rungs, overreaches or carries objects while climbing the ladder.
  • The worker stands on the top cap of the ladder.
  • The ladder being used is not in good condition.

Safety First
Prevent mishaps at work or home, by following these ladder safety tips:

  • Carefully inspect the ladder for defects, checking for cracks, corrosion, and that bolts and rivets are secure. Tag and remove unsafe ladders from service.
  • Make sure the ladder’s feet work properly and have slip-resistant pads.
  • Use a fiberglass ladder if there is any chance of contact with electricity.
  • When setting the ladder, look for a safe location with firm, level footing and rigid support for the top of the ladder. Be sure to set it at an angle per the Ladder Rulesmanufacturer’s guidance.
  • When climbing off a ladder at an upper level, make sure the ladder extends three feet above the landing.
  • When climbing the ladder, use three points of contact – keep one hand and both feet or both hands and one foot in contact with the ladder at all times.
  • Never carry any load that could cause you to lose balance.
  • Never stand on top of a ladder.
  • Don’t pull, lean, stretch or make sudden moves on a ladder that could cause it to tip over.
  • Avoid setting the ladder near exit doors, near the path of pedestrian or vehicular traffic.

Why Mental Health Matters at Work – What I Learned

The stigma associated with mental illness can be one of the greatest barriers to psychological health and safety in the workplace, especially for employees struggling with stress, depression or anxiety. Mental health is one of leading causes of lost productivity.

The first step in eliminating the stigma associated with mental illness starts with us. By educating ourselves and others it can increase awareness so people feel comfortable seeking help sooner. They will recover faster and maintain productivity which reduces strain on employees and employers.

Mental disorders are like any other medical condition. They are highly treatable and for Fight the stigma associated with mental illnessmany individuals, recovery is possible. Mental health and wellness are essential to overall health.

This message needs to be further emphasized to break those stigma barriers.

As Mental Health Awareness Month comes to a close, we cannot let its mission fade. Asking for help is not a sign of weakness — taking action to help yourself is a sign of strength. Don’t hesitate to ask for help if you need it.

Who should you contact for help?

Be the one to help someone suffering from mental illness

Why Mental Health Matters at Work–Stress in the Workplace

The World Health Organization defines mental health as “a state of well-being in which the individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community.”

Main Physiological Reactions to Stress

Approximately more than 25% of Americans would describe themselves as “super-stressed.”  Stress-related issues are continuously rising and can adversely affect how people think, act, and react, which can compromise not only our health and productivity, but also our safety.

Often a healthy work-life balance seems impossible with juggling heavy workloads, managing relationships, family responsibilities, and fitting in social activities. The stressors in our daily life can be hard to turn off and keep us in a constant state of stress.

While some stress is normal, if our bodies stay in a constant state of stress for too long, we can develop or worsen health problems such as high blood pressure, heart disease and decreased immune system. Too much stress can also lead to substance abuse and serious mental health problems, like depression and anxiety disorders.

If we’re experiencing excessive stress in the workplace it can make the difference between success or failure. Common stress related symptoms include anxiety, frustration, poor judgment, memory lapses and difficulty concentrating or making decisions that can translate into burnout, accidents, injuries and other mishaps on the job. Ignoring safety procedures or not using proper safety gear is just one example of how stress may interfere with our behavior and cause workplace safety problems. Stress in the workplace hurts your productivity and takes a serious toll on your mind and body.

Stress is a costly problem in the workplace
Working and juggling the demands of career and personal life will probably be an ongoing challenge. Finding a healthy work-life balance isn’t a one-shot deal and is a continuous process. It’s extremely important to manage our stress level to keep our mental health in check. Periodically take a look at your priorities and, if necessary, make changes to ensure you’re keeping on track.

Are you stressed?  Take a stress test

Even making small changes in your daily life can greatly help manage every day stress and will help you find that healthy balance between home, work, and social activities which are essential for getting a handle on stress and feeling good about life. Learn how to manage stress better and live life well with these tips:

  1. Connect with others
  2. Stay positive
  3. Get physically active
  4. Help others
  5. Get enough sleep
  6. Create joy and satisfaction
  7. Eat well
  8. Take care of your spirit
  9. Deal better with hard times
  10. Get professional help if you need it
  11. Take the stress out of your commute

If your life feels too chaotic to manage and you’re spinning your wheels worrying about it, it’s time to seek help.  Who should you contact for help?Employee Assistance Program

Why Mental Health Matters at Work – Depression in the Workplace

Depression is often a topic that goes unspoken and it’s time to start talking openly about depression so people can feel empowered to seek help if needed.  Many people suffer in silence, afraid of the stigma associated with depression but depression is like any other treatable medical condition. Risk Factors

Everyone goes through a variety of moods throughout the day. You might be happy one minute and angry about something a few hours later. But depression involves a consistent feeling of sadness and loss of interest, and can lead to a variety of emotional and physical problems.

Approximately one in ten working-age people will experience depression, that’s millions of people and most don’t even realize they are depressed.  They might think “I’m just in a fog” or “having a bad day.”  If those bad days start accumulating you might be depressed. Other symptoms may include trouble making decisions, lack of interest in activities, slowed thoughts and difficulty concentrating.Depresssion in the workforce

Depression ranks among the top three workplace problems and can take a significant toll on employees and employers.  If an employee isn’t sleeping, feels down and hopeless, has difficulty concentrating and a loss of energy, it can be very difficult for them to perform their job.  The impacts on job performance include decreased productivity, absenteeism, and inability to think clearly and make decisions.  No matter what kind of job, depression can quickly create major problems on the job.

With early recognition job performance at work can improve and symptoms of depression can be alleviated with proper diagnosis and treatment.  Most employees can overcome clinical depression and pick up where they left off, but approximately only one-third of people with diagnosable mental health conditions seek help.

Get the Facts – Recognize the Symptoms

Symptoms & Warning Signs

We all can play a part in helping people get healthy.  People struggling with depression will be less impaired at work if they seek help.  By talking openly about depression, sharing information and solutions we can reduce the stigma associated with mental illness so individuals living with depression feel comfortable reaching out for support.

Often employees fail to seek help until it’s too late.  They are too embarrassed, think they can’t afford it or don’t know where to find resources.  Support and resources are out there – Reach out for help when you need it.

Who should you contact for help? Untreated depression increases health care costs

Mental Health Awareness & Workplace Safety

Mental Health Stats

Changing the Way We Think About Mental Health

In 2013, President Obama proclaimed May as National Mental Health Awareness Month and brought the issue of mental health to the forefront.  Each year millions of Americans face the reality of living with a mental health condition and work continues in fighting stigmas and providing support and advocacy for those with mental health issues.

Protect your health.  Preserve your mental health.  Prevent bad and sometimes tragic outcomes from ever happening.

The focus of Workplace Safety & Awareness for the month of May will be why Mental Health Awareness Matters at Work.  Employees should be the most valued asset for employers and Mental Health disorders can have a significant cost in the workplace, a loss in productivity and absenteeism.  We spend a lot of time at work and given all the time we spend at work we ought to have a healthy physically and mentally work environment.

Over Spring break the Enumclaw Campus staff and faculty were fortunate to participate in an 8 hour Mental Health First Aid training class that was provided by the Rainier Foothills Wellness Foundation as part of a large grant they received to address mental health issues on the plateau.  Check out other opportunities for Mental Health First Aid training! 

Get your facts about Mental Health.
Mental health is one of our greatest assets. It supports focus at work, overcoming obstacles, relationships with the people around you and overall well-being.  We all encounter mental health every day. Whether you are dealing with stress, a divorce, or a natural disaster, it’s important to learn what’s affecting your health.

Read up on common mental health topics.

MentalHealthAwareness1

Screening is an anonymous, free & private way to learn about your mental health.

Safety. A Shared Responsibility.

Providing a safe and healthy campus is extremely important and a responsibility we all share. By simply taking an extra moment to check our surroundings we can easily avoid the most common workplace hazards (which happens to be falling of all things).

Safety. A Shared Responsibility.

  • Know your surrounding hazards (stairs, ladders, cords, etc.)
  • Follow safety and health rules
  • Wear personal protective equipment (PPE)
  • Report accidents, injuries, unsafe equipment, and hazards

Have a Suggestion?

We’d love to hear back from any employee with suggestions on how to make workplace safety a more engaging process.  Because safety is a shared responsibility, our goal is to promote a safe working environment through collaboration with each and every employee. Ideas or suggestions would be appreciated. We’d even love to hear your thoughts on how this blog works as a form of communication.

The infographic below displays common workplace hazards, violations and safety tips.

Workplace Safety

Texting while Walking Causes More Accidents than Texting and Driving

Texting and Walking

(KAPOW!) Greg! Why can’t you watch where I’m going, I’m obviously very busy texting!

Injuries from car accidents involving texting and driving are often more serious, however injuries from texting and walking occur more often and are putting thousands in the ER each year.

Texting and Walking

(WHAM!) Erik! Watch out! You’ve just interrupted my very important text!

Just some of the many accidents that can occur if you text and walk include tripping, bumping into objects like walls, people, light posts, etc., falling down stairs or stepping into traffic.

Pay Attention! Whether You’re Walking or Driving, it’s Time to Put Down the Phone!