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Safety Instruction Blog

  • One Battle You Didn’t Choose: Cancer and the Chemicals that Cause It

    My best guess is that just about everybody reading this blog article has been affected by cancer either directly or indirectly. I know that guess isn’t very scientific, or actuarial, but it sure will be close. It’s the one diagnosis everybody fears. After a diagnosis leaves you reeling from the unknown, and “it can’t be happening to me” feeling, the next two questions are: what are my chances for survival, and where did it come from? The feeling of doom just seems to settle in until your Oncologist can help you understand what will happen next. You’ll need to listen to your doctor and trust his/her experience; you might also want to consider a second opinion. The other question…..Where did it come from?....... If not from heredity, then the next culprit is carcinogens.carcinogens

    A carcinogen is any substance, radionuclide, or radiation that is an agent directly involved in causing cancer. This definition is offered by Wikipedia. I’m not a chemist to know and understand the science of how it works. Additionally they offer Dioxins and dioxin-like compounds, benzene, kepone, EDB, and asbestos which have all been classified as carcinogenic.[6] As far back as the 1930s, industrial smoke and tobacco smoke were identified as sources of dozens of carcinogens, including benzo[a]pyrene, tobacco-specific nitrosamines such as nitrosonornicotine, and reactive aldehydes such as formaldehyde—which is also a hazard in embalming and making plastics. Vinyl chloride, from which PVC is manufactured, is a carcinogen and thus a hazard in PVC production. That’s a lot of chemistry to deal with. Here’s the point we want to make. There are roughly 20,000 deaths annually associated with occupational hazards. That is a number we shouldn’t be happy with. Training is available, and as an employer that training should be made available. An employer should also make a concerted effort to identify any carcinogens associated with the process of or results of the products produced in his plant, and train accordingly.

    Cancer did affect my family as I recently lost a brother to this ruthless disease. He was employed in a lab at a paper mill. He was only 60 and getting ready to retire, his wife is now a widow. “”Father’s day” is a painful reminder instead of a celebration, and holidays are empty. We are a large family in a small community, and our faith does help take the edge off. As a safety advocate I would strongly urge you to take a look at your safety program at work, and make sure it includes “Carcinogen safety”. If your company doesn’t have a course, you can take one “on line.” I realize we can’t avoid all, or legislate carcinogens out of existence, but we need to make an effort to understand what and where they are. I would also ask all of you to consider supporting cancer research, or families who struggle with the cost of fighting this formidable opponent.

  • Hiring Summer Help? Give Them a Good Start

    The old saying “It doesn’t matter how you start, it’s how you finish that counts”. Well in life summer helpterms that is probably true. The other side of this conversation however is, “It does matter how you start”. This is the season for short term employees, specifically “Summer Help” it’s almost a tradition. It gives students a chance to make some money to help fund their education, or that car they need to get back and forth from home to school. It also reminds them of the reasons they are in school, so that by Labor Day they go back to school with a renewed sense of purpose. At the same time we also want to send them back with all of their fingers, toes, eyes, hands and feet. So it’s imperative that when they are hired we start them off with the proper safety orientation.

    As a student, in a different lifetime, I worked in a variety of jobs, which added to my life experience. I was a custodial worker, grounds keeper, grocery clerk and manager, hamburger flipper, and painter. As a custodial worker I learned the fine art of stripping sealing and waxing floors, moving and stacking chairs and desks @$1.10 per hour. To be honest learning how to use a floor machine, or swing machine as some call it, was a bit of a challenge. I didn’t have much guidance and it’s not as easy as it looks especially on a slippery floor. A broken chair and a chewed up electrical cord later I was good to go. Yes of course I learned how to clean bathrooms as well and the chemicals that went with it. Not much hazcom, or “Right to know” training there either. I took some of these skills with me when I worked in the grocery store. There were some new hazards I quickly understood for example, the proper use of a box cutter. Today I tell my own children, that, if worse comes to worse, they can identify me by the scar on my left index finger planted there by the errant use of a box cutter. My point in all of this in moving forward, is that today there are several opportunities including construction, or manufacturing, for young adults to not only add to their resume and life skills, but for employers to give them the necessary tools to learn how to manage their work safely with proper training, and to take that lesson with them wherever they go as well.

    Employers do have a responsibility according the OSHA’s general duty clause (Pub. Law 91-596 Section5(a)(1)) to provide their employees with a safe place to work as free from recognized hazards as is reasonable, and prudent. Employers must point out the hazards and train in how to recognize and avoid them during the course of the workday. This will also include the use proper PPE as well. The general duty clause covers hazardous conditions or practices not covered by an OSHA standard. There is so much more information available today than there ever was before, so give your summer help the training, and confidence they need to do the work safely and properly so you can send them back to school better than they came to you. Safety Orientation is good for everybody.

  • Who Gives a Care : Safety for Care Givers

    “VENI, VIDI, VICI”, “I came, I Saw, I conquered”, a Latin phrase attributed to Julius Caesar. Baby Boomers are retiring in droves. They bring with them not just their dreams for retirement, but also the health issues which accompany an aging population. This does unfortunately create a strain on an already overburdened healthcare system. It does however and has offered an opportunity for another industry to bloom and grow, “In Home Care” In home care, gives patients the opportunity to stay at home in familiar loving surroundings which are more conducive to living with their health concerns. This scenario works well under the care of qualified CNAs (certified nursing assistants) and nursing professionals trained for this environment. Their training includes the use of proper equipment for safe lifting, blood borne pathogens, needle sticks, wound care, and more including training for the combative patient. This training keeps both the care giver and patient safe.

    As a longtime volunteer in a local nursing home, I can tell you that the care giver does caregiversindeed make a difference. As care givers we must always remember that we are entering their world, their space. They didn’t ask to be here, especially in the condition we find them. They are separated from their memories by Alzheimers and Dementia. This includes the recognition of family and friends. They are separated from their dignity by an aging unreliable body. I remember one Sunday morning knocking on the door of an elderly Alzheimer patient and walking in only to be greeted with a mean right hook, I wasn’t quick enough to duck. He saw me as an intruder. I was quickly humbled by the experience and learned a valuable lesson. I would often bring my children with me, and found that patients quickly warmed up to them, and another valuable lesson learned, for all of us. My children have all since grown, and now my grandchildren accompany me on my visits. Additionally my wife has since become a licensed CNA. Proper communication in a loving gentle way included treating them with the dignity they’ve earned and deserve. Recognizing their space, their needs, and their safety is essential. Communicating with family is also important, as trust is established, and the focus remains on the needs of your loved one.

    When and if the time comes, Please consider “in Home Care” if it’s possible. There are however several other options today including, assisted living, and good qualified nursing homes as well. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, and check credentials. Please also make sure your wishes or the wishes of your loved one are known, and documented to protect your rights and the rights of the family using a “Durable Power of Attorney”. Finally, please consider volunteering in a care center, or visiting a neighbor or friend who might be trapped by Dementia or Alzheimers. If you know a care giver please thank them for their service as they are often the ones most forgotten. If you are one Thank You!! Because you give a Care.

  • If You Can’t Stand the Heat…Heat Stress Training

    May has slipped away from us and with another Memorial Day in the books summer has Heat Stressofficially arrived. If you have a Veteran in your family or know one please take time to thank them for their service. I grew up in a big old farm house in Wisconsin. Summers were warm and humid, but it seemed that there was always some sort of breeze to keep us comfortable, but not enough to keep your ice cream from melting.

    My first real experience with hot and miserable was baling hay for some of our dairy farm neighbors. My brother was tall so he got to ride on the back of the hay wagon in the field grabbing and stacking bales as they came out of the baler. Me, my job was up in the top of the barn in the hay mow catching and stacking bales as they came off of the elevator. It was hot and dusty work, it seemed like everything would just stick to you. The Farmer’s name was Henry, he was a huge man with a great sense of humor. You could actually stand alongside of him and get in the shade. He was also a caring man who was quick to remind us to drink all the water we needed it was free!! We also wore bandanas to cut down on the dust we ate.

    At the end of the day there was supper. It looked like thanksgiving, he would lead grace and we ate like we earned it, but almost too tired to enjoy it. You bet we slept well at night before we would get up early the next morning and do it all over again. That was my first “Heat Stress Training.” Drink your share of water, dress properly, eat well, and get plenty of rest. Henry didn’t have to write this down, His father taught him, and it was the right thing to do in treating his family and a couple of hired hands how to deal with heat and life on the farm.

    Today OSHA requires an employer to have a written plan to deal with Heat stress. Training employees to take care of themselves will reduce occupational injuries and illnesses due to heat. Employees need to understand and recognize the symptoms of heat stress, and what to do for themselves and others. Employers also have a responsibility under the general duty clause (Pub. Law 91-596 Section 5(a)(1)) to make sure that the resources are available for employees to deal with heat stress. This training can and should be carried home to your family as well. Do you have an aspiring athlete, how about an infant in the house? DO NOT LEAVE AN INFANT IN A CAR, children can quickly dehydrate in warm conditions, which can cause severe injury and even death. Now you have a bigger problem. Perhaps you are a little league coach. Teach them about proper diet and hydration. Now sit down relax, enjoy a nice lemonade, and think about enjoying summer while it lasts, because you took care of Heat Stress Training.

  • Angry at Management or Anger Management

    As a young boy I quickly discovered that I was considerably smaller that most of my friends. So I learned to compensate to make up the difference. I could run pretty fast, and I was good at catching a ball. I developed a pretty keen sense of competition, both on a field, and in a classroom. The other thing I learned to develop was a vocabulary used for both good and not so good, that’s where my speed paid dividends. In those days you didn’t get a ribbon for participating, you either won or you lost. Honestly I was a terrible loser, and my vocabulary got me in trouble where I either backed myself into a corner or someone else. If they were anger managementbigger than me, and usually they were, it didn’t turn out so well. Those habits don’t go away real easy and as an adult I was gently reminded that I needed to address the issue more than once. I needed to get an understanding of anger, how it works and what causes it. So “Anger Management” here I come.

    I did find out that I wasn’t the only one, but that was of little consolation. Did you know that one out of six violent crimes happens in the workplace? Did you know that the number one killer of women in the workplace is violence? How many times has someone told you to relax or calm down? Did you listen or did it just send you to the next level? There are several types of people who should consider some type of relaxation response training or awareness. Ask yourself these questions: Do I have Coronary problems? Do I frequently get angry? Am I frequently tense and irritable? Do I experience a lot of aggravation? Am I impatient? Do I have a stressful job? Do I want to live longer and healthier? Do I want to be a top performer? A positive answer to any of these questions should tell you that you need to be able to learn to relax, and recognize the triggers that cause an anger response, and then take a breath. This is all easier said than done, and there is a lot more to be learned, anger is like an addiction, it’s not an easy journey. This is important for both you and your family, not to mention your co-workers. Many places of employment today have a Zero Tolerance Policy toward anger and violence. Your employer just can’t take a chance.

    There are occasions when a display of anger is necessary and justifiable. It gives validation to our humanness, as long as it is controllable and makes a point. In our workplace today, a manager needs to be able to identify those who are at risk, and to be able to deal with the “What If” as well as be a referee on occasion. This can also be referred to as “Conflict Management" . This topic is much deeper than this blog. Anger and violence in the workplace is very real and deserves all the attention it gets. Anger Management will earn you better relationships, greater productivity, and a healthier life.

  • A Great Stripper: Methylene Chloride Safety

    Little did I really understand about Methylene Chloride as a chemical stripper. When my Chemical Safetyfamily was young and on a tight budget, my wife and I would buy used furniture, mostly we bought dressers. They were good quality wood and a little TLC and refinishing is all it took. Of course, 40 years ago there weren’t many alternatives for paint stripping so you bought the most effective. More often than not it contained “Methylene Chloride”. It was kind of neat to watch it bubble up and was gross looking. Not realizing of course that if it was doing this to the paint and old varnish, what was it doing to my lungs? Of course I was a trouper and stood right in there until I had to open a window, and went and got a pair of gloves so I could scrape it off and sand. By the way the directions said it was combustible along with some other warnings I didn’t pay much attention to like; may cause: Dizziness. Drowsiness. Headache. Nausea. Weakness. Unconciousness. Death.

    Methylene Chloride is still used today in that application. It’s also referred to as “Dichloromethane” OSHA actually has a publication regarding its use.(OSHA 3144-06R 2003). The OSHA Methylene Chloride standard (Title 29 code of Federal Regulations, Parts 1910.1052, 1915.1052, and 1926.1152) covers all occupational exposures to Methylene Chloride in all workplaces in general industry, shipyard employment, and construction. You can also review this chemical and its dangers by visiting http://www.inchem.org/documents/icsc/icsc/eics0058.htm . This product is also used in pharmaceutical manufacturing, paintremover manufacturing, metal cleaning and degreasing, adhesives manufacturing and use, polyurethane foam production, to name a few. When dealing with this chemical, employers will need to consider; Exposure monitoring, Medical surveillance, Control Measures, Respiratory protection, Hygiene Facilities and protective clothing and equipment, record keeping and training.

    Today there are alternatives to this product especially in the DIY “do It yourself” Industry for removing paint, and industrial coatings. These new products are not just safer for the user but environmentally safer as well. At safetyinstruction.com we offer up to date information for training and the safe use of chemicals, including chemical hygiene, and disposal. By the way the kids are all moved out now and we’ve got some dressers if you need one. Methylene Chloride Safety, its worth sharing.

  • ADD, ADHD, Will it Get Your Attention or Not?

    I’m not quite sure how to start this blog today. The road map is a little fuzzy as psychologists will attest to ADD “Attention Deficit Disorder”, and ADHD “Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder” as a challenge to get your arms around. We’ll call these disorders, “Disabilities” as they would fall under the ADA or “American with Disabilities Act of 1990” if diagnosed and recorded. For a person with this disability it’s a problem of not being able to focus, being overactive, not being able to control behavior, or a combination of all three. A diagnosis of ADD or ADHD would mean these symptoms would be out of the normal range for a person’s age or development. The question being “What is Normal?" It’s further defined as “A neurological condition involving the under activity in the frontal cortex of the brain which is responsible for the regulation of: Attention, Impulse Control, and Motor Activity”. So as a Supervisor, HR Professional, Teacher or Parent what do we need to know to understand these disorders?

    The symptoms are generally evident before the age of 7. Boys are three times more likely than girls to be diagnosed with either ADD or ADHD. Fact is; it is the most commonly diagnosed behavioral disorder in children. To be clear on this, Parents and teachers do not cause this. There is more and more information available regarding this disability. This disorder takes off in two directions: ADD “Attention Deficit Disorder”, and ADHD which is similar and adds Hyperactivity to the mix. The ADD sufferer tends to be less disruptive, and typically has low self-esteem. This is due in part to chastisement and criticism from unknowing adults, teachers, peers, or supervisors. There is a lot going on in their heads. They are inattentive because everything gets in their way. The ADD sufferer has keen senses and is easily distracted by sounds, smells, touch, or sight. One time it was explained to me like this. “If a fly landed on your desk you might swoosh it away, for the person with ADD it’s like a 747 jet landed on his desk”. Paying attention to detail is not even on the scale, or even paying attention for that matter. The result is real friction in a classroom and at home. As an adult with ADD the results are more acute, functioning on the job with peers or even holding a job becomes a major hurdle. Now let’s add Hyperactivity to this. This person cannot sit still, they are very impulsive, with sometimes uncontrollable or unreasonable behavior, often acting out to gain attention, cannot wait for his turn, acting before thinking, and they cannot complete a task before jumping into another. This is a lifelong event. This disability as we know it can never be outgrown. In time and with understanding it becomes manageable. Behavioral therapy is used by psychologists to teach children along with parents, and teachers, healthy behavior and how to manage disruptive behaviors. Asking questions like “What are you doing? What should you be doing?” In some cases it can be partially controlled by medication.

    My purpose here is not to cover all of the symptoms or all of the answers, but to challenge all of us to become more familiar with this disability, as it becomes an ever bigger part of our lives, and that we are able to be more attentive to it. We need to develop an awareness, and understanding that would allow us to be a part of the solution and not a part of the problem at home, school, or on the job. For more information on this topic please visit; http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0002518/#adam_001551.disease.causes

     

  • Safety Orientation : First Prom

    Safety Orientation; the dictionary defines orientation as “To guide one in adjusting to new surroundings, employment, activity, or the like. It’s further defined by “Merriam Webster” as: a person’s feelings, interests, and beliefs: a main interest, quality or goal: the process of giving people training and information about a new job, situation, etc.: further a state of being directed or having a direction. So the term “orientation” can be applied to a pretty broad spectrum. Don’t you just love the English language? It really lets your imagination take some pretty interesting angles or “orientation”.

    My grandson is about to embark on a rite of passage, his first prom. So dad and mom are guiding him in his new surroundings, giving him direction on what is expected; "Make sure you, and the car are clean, and the tank is full, running out of gas is not cool. Pick up your tux and make sure it fits. Identify the color of her dress so the proper corsage can be purchased (in safety we call that PPE). Pick up your date on time and be respectful of not just her but her parent’s wishes to get her home on time. Open the door for her. Allow time for pictures and remember it’s ok to say no to those things that will land you in trouble. Oh and one more thing – Have fun!"

    Of course in a family setting none of this will get you fired if not adhered to but could cause some repercussions if you’re not paying attention.

    In Industry “safety orientation” takes on a much higher profile in preparing one for the job to which you are hired, and truly can mean the difference in getting home alive or not getting home at all. The company you work for needs to have an overall company safety plan or policy which includes “New employee Safety Orientation” It will cover OSHA standard 29CFR1903. This plan needs to be available to the employee and is mandated by OSHA. I believe that every employer out there knows the workplace hazards that their employee will encounter if not on a daily basis, will at least come into contact at least occasionally. The employer, under General Industry standards general duty clause Pub. Law91-596 Section5(a)(1) “must furnish to his employees employment and a place of employment which are free from recognized hazards that are causing or likely to cause death or serious physical harm to his employees”. Yes additional training must be provided for hazard specific jobs, or conditions which will further protect you once you are on the payroll. So just like the prom you need to get there safely and know the rules once you get there. It starts with Safety Orientation!

  • Electrical Safety: What are those little white knobs?

    Normally I’m a person willing to try almost anything once. Growing up was no different. We grew up in a in a big old farmhouse in Wisconsin, with a neighboring dairy farm. The Pasture was hemmed in by an electrically charged wire to keep the cows from visiting other neighbors. Of course we found out the hard way while chasing an errant baseball into the field. You bet we got a charge out of it. Later Dad, while trying to keep a straight face, warned us that those little white knobs were called insulators and were a signal the fence was an electric fence. We did have a little fun with our city friends after that however. Now, let me get back to dad. We grew up in an age where you gave it your best shot at repairing almost everything. You glazed your own windows, repaired rubber boots in time for winter, restrung your own ball glove, and taped up the baseball when the cover started to come off, and Mom yarned socks with a light bulb and a yarning needle. This blog is about Electrical safety, but I’ve got to tell you that pennies back then were used for more than bubble gum. Our fuse box was full of them. I remember dad was repairing the water heater in the basement one Saturday afternoon, when inexplicably there was a loud bang, the lights went out, and my brothers and I were introduced to a fair amount of new vocabulary as dad picked himself up off the floor. Bath night had to be put on hold. I decided then that electricity is something I didn’t want to mess with. I think that was a good decision as now I’m able to look back on those events and be able to tell the stories while reminding my own boys about electrical safety.

    I’m told that electricity is not that complicated. The results of electricity are far reaching and without it the world in which we live would be vastly different. We can see the results, and we can also see the results of its dangers. OSHA reports that of the top ten most frequently sited OSHA standards violated in 2013, three of them were electrical related;

    *Electrical, wiring methods, components and equipment, general industry (29 CFR 1910.305) *Control of Hazardous Energy (Lockout/Tagout) general industry (29 CFR 1910.147) *Electrical systems design, general requirements, general industry (29 CFR 1910.303)

    OSHA further reports that in Construction Safety, which is handled by a different category from general industry, that in 2013 of the 775 total deaths, 9% were from electrocutions. https://www.osha.gov/oshstats/commonstats.html

    As we continue to progress in a world of discovery, scientists are finding new ways to generate electricity; Sun, water, wind, nuclear, etc. Of course this creates new problems for those charged with not only delivering it to us safely and efficiently, but also for professionals who make a living at installing it and safe guarding its users. Did I say professionals? Yes this is one of those miracles of nature where I would highly recommend allowing a professionally licensed electrician to do the work. They have been trained to do it and can share their knowledge of electrical safety, because not all electricity warns us with little white knobs.

  • My Mother: A Tribute to Competent Person Training

    I grew up in a family of twelve children, five girls and seven brothers. Little did I realize at the time that apparently OSHA had visited my house and declared “Mom” a competent person.

    The term "Competent Person" is used in many OSHA standards and documents. An OSHA "competent person" is defined as "one who is capable of identifying existing and predictable hazards in the surroundings or working conditions, which are unsanitary, hazardous, or dangerous to employees, and who has authorization to take prompt corrective measures to eliminate them" [29 CFR 1926.32(f)]. By way of training and/or experience, a competent person is knowledgeable of applicable standards, is capable of identifying workplace hazards relating to the specific operation, and has the authority to correct them. Some standards add additional specific requirements which must be met by the competent person. This definition is taken from OSHA.

    It seemed that Mom was always on the spot to guide us in the direction of sanity. She taught us some of the finer points of working safely in the kitchen, and of course the rewards of taste testing to make sure it was safe for the others. Cleaning was also on her radar, including sanitation. Right to know issues were whose turn it was to do dishes, or sweep the floors. Everybody was involved in cherry picking and pitting for pies and jam. The older boys had garage duty, or loading coal into the furnace hopper. Of course Dad was the force in the repair department, including repairing and glazing windows before putting on the storms in time for winter. Dad also inspected and repaired our 4 buckle boots. Yes PPE was a part of the routine. We didn’t necessarily have safety meetings but were reminded that if we were going out to play ball, to cross the road safely, make sure the dog didn’t follow us, and to look out for your little brothers. I’m not too sure what Mom told the girls except that she would flash the light on and off if they were in the driveway too long with a boyfriend. Mom passed away this past fall, but left us with a lifetime of memories. Competent Person training was passed down. Now I get to be the competent person in my own home, with my wife’s blessing of course.

    Competent person training is a big deal. Why train a competent person? Employers are required by law to comply with a number of OSHA regulations. These regulations are defined and driven by hazards which exist in your workplace. Compliance with these laws indicate that a “Competent Person” must be assigned the responsibility of identifying existing and predictable hazards, and has been given the authority to take corrective action. If you are a Human resource manager, Maintenance Manager, safety program Administrator, Hospital administrator, on a safety committee, process engineer, department manager, Risk manager, or anyone having safety management duties. You should have this type of training. It covers: Introduction to OSHA, components of an effective safety Program, OSHA Record keeping fundamentals, , Intro to Industrial hygiene/toxicology, Job hazard analysis & Procedures, accident investigation, PPE, Hazcom & GHS, LOTO, confined space. Along with that training the trainer could also be a part of this type of training. Seek out, find and enroll in the training you need. Competent Person Training, Your Mother would be proud.

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