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Wellness / Fitness

  • One Flu Over

    Every year I’m reminded that I need to get a physical; My wife reminds me, the doctor’s office reminds me, my kids remind me – you get the picture. Alright, alright, I’m going already. There is just something about that annual physical that I just can’t get too excited about. Maybe it’s the “turn your head left and cough”, or there’s the whole “bend over thing and you’ll feel a little pressure.”

    This year though the routine was a little different. As I walked into the clinic, the first questions fluwere: “Have you traveled outside the US, and have you been to Africa, or come into contact with anyone who has?” In mid-October we discussed the “Ebola scare” and yes it was justifiable and seemed appropriate that a plan was needed to stem what might have been an epidemic that would potentially kill thousands. To date there have been less than 5 here in the US. Now I’m standing in a waiting room with other patients some wearing face masks with children in tow. Are you aware that according to the government’s Center for disease control CDC, that in the last three years there has been over 300 pediatric deaths related to the Flu and its related symptoms here in the US? That’s a horrible number.

    As Safety and HR professionals, do we have a responsibility here? Well if I understand the “General Duty Clause” ( Pub. Law 91-596 section 5(a)(1)) published by OSHA. Then the answer is yes. These are hazards and conditions not covered under an OSHA standard. What can we do? I’m going to reprint a portion of that Blog from October, with a few minor changes:

    “We need to be proactive and develop an overall general “staying healthy in a work environment plan." The flu season is now here in a big way and avoiding the flu with proper sanitation is the key, both personal and environmental. Proper hand washing, sanitizing work surfaces where practical, more than periodic cleaning and sanitizing of the restrooms, checking air filtration systems, EDUCATION. Making employees aware of coughing and sneezing, refresh your Blood borne pathogens training. Encourage your employees, and their families to get a flu shot and to make sure the rest of their inoculations are up to date, eat healthy and drink plenty of fluids, all this will help to improve overall immunity to illness and disease." Additionally if you experience any symptoms of the Flu, STAY HOME, and see your doctor or healthcare professional.

    We need to take this serious. It’s not like it’s a surprise, it comes every year. Prevention is the key to controlling any type of Illness. So educating ourselves, employees and families, is imperative and preparing for it should be done early and often.

    Now regarding my physical. I’m scheduled for a colonoscopy, but that is a whole other uncomfortable topic we should discuss another time.

  • Ebola Scare: Should We Be Concerned?

    Has the media whipped up enough pandemonium to get everybody running for the nearest exit and away from or demanding immediate action to the latest healthcare crisis “Ebola”? In short, Ebola is a disease that attacks the immune system, and is passed by body fluids. Politicians are weighing in and pointing fingers. Czars are appointed, and hysteria reigns. Truth is in the mid 1970’s there was an Ebola outbreak in Sudan and Zaire, Africa (“Ebola” is named after a river in Zaire Africa), maybe we should have taken it more seriously then. It infected over 284 people and over half of them succumbed to the virus. Since then, there have been other outbreaks of different strains. A third strain “EBOR” even paid a visit to the USA in 1989 coming from infected monkeys.

    So why the sudden concern? Perhaps the mounting numbers or perhaps we have seen the Symptoms_of_eboladreaded disease actually claim a life here in the USA, with more cases reported, although minimal. In Africa however the numbers are almost staggering. Some headline seeking politicians are even calling for a quasi-quarantine by restricting or banning travel to and from the offending country. What they need is our help and prayers.

    So how does or how should this affect us as Safety Advocates and Professionals? We need to be proactive and develop an overall general “staying healthy in the work environment plan”. The flu season is bearing down on us, and avoiding the flu can be similar in that proper sanitation is the key, both personal and environmental. Proper hand washing, sanitizing work surfaces where practical, more than periodic cleaning and sanitizing of the restrooms, checking air filtration systems, and EDUCATION. Make your employees more aware of coughing and sneezing, and make sure they have the proper Blood Borne Pathogens training. Encourage your employees to get a flu shot and to make sure the rest of their inoculations are up to date, eat healthy and drink plenty of fluids. All this will help to improve overall immunity to illness and disease.

    For more information on Ebola signs and symptoms check out Mayo Clinic. We do need to keep ourselves informed and educated. Get involved with other healthcare initiatives in your hometown and workplace. If you have school age children teach them proper techniques for washing hands, don’t send them to school if flu symptoms are apparent, and covering up if coughing or sneezing. We do have a lot to consider as we look out for each other regardless of nationality.

    Give your employees a healthy work environment and make their safety a number one priority with a safety program you can trust. Visit safetyinstruction.com for all of your safety training and supply needs! From everyone at SafetyInstruction, make it a safe day!

  • "Sanitation" Cleanliness is Next to Godliness

    Sanitation is everybody’s responsibility, but if its your job, the definition broadens considerably. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sanitation It all starts with you. Your personal hygiene, your appearance, what you wear on the job including “Personal Protective Clothing” PPE. Some areas of concern are “Food Service Workers”, “ Health care and hospital facilities”, Cafeterias”, “Schools and Universities”, “custodial Workers in any industry”, and of course let’s not forget about home. Even more basic to this we start with proper hand washing. You will not be arrested for killing bacteria, as a matter of fact it’s encouraged. Use warm water and soap, wet your hands and apply soap. Scrub your hands making sure you cover all surfaces, top, bottom, in between your fingers, under your nails and the cuticles. It is said if you sing the “Birthday Song” twice that would be about the proper amount of time for scrubbing. Hand washing is very important in preventing the spread of disease not just for you but for the unintended. Sanitation is important for all.

    There is a difference in cleaning and sanitizing. When we clean we are moving the dirt around and or removing it from the premises. It’s important to know that bacteria need a home. It needs Food, moisture, heat, and darkness helps also. So we try to limit the conditions where bacteria will grow. So we remove the conditions, which promote the growth of bacteria, and the carriers of it, including rodents, and insects. Having said that, it is also important to have a good pest control program. Once the cleaning is done, the sanitation process should begin. If we were to really get into this we would discuss cross contamination, and color coding your equipment so the restroom mop is not used in the food prep area, this also includes gloves, and the use of paper toweling vs. cloth wipes. Once you are done with the washing wiping or rinsing, you can apply a sanitizing solution of 1 tablespoon of bleach to a gallon of water. You can dispense it in a trigger sprayer for convenience, For cleaning a room Start from the top and work down, once complete mist your sanitizer from the bottom up and allow it to air dry letting it stand for at least 2 minutes. Please also label the bottle as Bleach is corrosive and dangerous, so use caution and do not mix other chemicals with it. Please also wear the proper PPE including gloves and eye protection. There are other sanitizing chemicals which can be used, almost too numerous to mention. Bleach, however, is the most common, readily available and can be used for other sanitizing purposes such as water in a different ratio. So what does this assassin kill? This list even sounds nasty.

    Bacteria Staphylococcus aureus (Staph.) Salmonella choleraesuis Pseudomonas aeruginosa Streptococcus pyogenes (Strep.) Escherichia coli O157:H7 (E. coli) Shigella dysenteriae Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA)

    Fungi Trichophyton mentagrophytes (can cause Athlete’s Foot) Candida albicans (a yeast)

    Viruses Rhinovirus Type 37 (a type of virus that can cause colds) Influenza A (Flu virus) Hepatitis A virus Rotavirus Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) HIV-1 (Human Immunodeficiency Virus)* Herpes simplex Type 2 Rubella virus Adenovirus Type 2 Cytomegalovirus

    This article is not meant to be all inclusive, but to give you an idea of the importance of understanding at least the basics of cleaning vs. sanitizing. The job, and responsibilty of the custodian plays a major roll in the prevention and spread of disease. Have a housekeeping plan, and if you are healthy say thank you to your custodian for his roll, give yourself a pat on the back also for chipping in your share of the success of a healthy facility in which to work or dine. I can’t forget home as well. “Sanitation” it is said that cleanliness is next to godliness.

  • Time for a Change: Turning an Eye on Workplace Mental Health

    If your employee has a bothered mind, you cannot expect him to do his job in the highest, most productive way. This fact leads us to one workplace issue that’s been ignored for too long: mental health.

    The sad truth about employers’ perception when it comes to safety and health issues is that the implementation of programs is just another additional cost to incur. This is a misconception. In fact, these programs are an investment that counters unproductivity and unnecessary, hefty expenses.

    Let’s take the work of a manager’s secretary. Let’s say this secretary is always under pressure: cramming through her boss’ reports and schedules, working overtime and overnight. With this kind of pressure, she can’t help but be depressed about her job. If her depression continues to bug her at home and at work, her relationships with her family, coworkers, and even with her boss can be negatively affected. Eventually, when she can’t tolerate such an environment anymore, she won’t care about quality anymore.

    If this happens, with almost all employers, it goes unchecked, and the company can lose important clients and potential ones. Therefore, in the long run, the company may be losing more than they spend for safety and health programs.

    To learn more, check out this opinion by Craig Hamilton.

  • Mental Health Issues can Cost Businesses Billions

    Every year, Australian businesses lose $6.5 billion because of mental illnesses suffered by employees. The truth is, Australia’s workforce isn’t the only one experiencing such conditions. The whole world, as it continues to ignore the direct relationship between productivity and mental health, could face devastating business problems. Craig Hamilton of The Herald lays out the facts as he sees them in “Work Mental Health Issues Cost Billions.”

  • New Bill Aims to Protect Social Workers’ Safety

    Good news for social and human service workers: Massachusetts’ governor is expected to sign a bill that aims to improve workplace safety for social workers. These workers face both physical and mental health issues every day they are on the job. And since these issues are beyond their control, it has been a challenge to create workplace safety programs that can effectively address these risks. Here’s the full news story from Madeleine Rivera of Hudson Valley.

  • Your Job and Your Health

    While some are lucky enough to do what they love and get paid for it, others are satisfied with whatever jobs that can pay their rents and bills and can fill a whole family’s basic needs. Besides, whatever your job is, you can learn to love it in due time. But before you even reach that stage of your career, you’d have to have dragging mornings filled with complaints and sighs. On top of that, you’d have to face a bunch of annoyances at work. The worst part is, you may never notice it, but these annoyances can affect your wellbeing.

    The Daily Beast published this eye-opening article - “Five Reasons Your Office is Bad for You.” At first glance, the title may sound like it’s encouraging you to quit your job. Not at all! In fact, this post listed down five work-related health challenges and how to beat them all. Let’s have the two major ones, which are common to almost all office employees:

    Back pain’s enemy number one. The surprising fact is that, ergonomics isn’t the only one to blame. Sometimes, the pain can be just a sign that you’re not at all happy about your day or you’re so bored at work. Before your back pain gets worse, get up from your chair and do some brisk walking or get some air outside. Improve your mood the best way you can.

    Are you surrounded by bullies? Don’t let them get to you. Instead of suffering from discrimination, sexual harassment, physical assault, or any other violence, report abuses to your superior right away.

    No job is ever without challenges. Don’t let these affect your performance. Be the most productive, so you can have a delicious monthly paycheck.

  • Surviving the Graveyard Shift

    Because you’re breaking your body’s natural circadian rhythm (also known as the internal clock), working night shifts can get crazy, especially in the first few months. This is not to say that working at night is all bad; like every kind of job, there are pros and cons to it. Darwins Money of Wise Bread provides three tips: assess your personal situation, sleep consistently even on off days, and get help with sleep right away. These are elaborated in “How to Survive the Graveyard Shift (and Make Lots of Money).”

  • Working Through the Night

    As businesses continue to rise, competition has become tighter by the minute. As a result, more and more companies are running 24/7 for the sake of competitive advantage. Thus, vampire-like employees are born. Although these employees receive compensation on top of the regular salary, they are more vulnerable to health complications. Beth Benson discusses the disadvantages of working the graveyard shift and how to cope with the stress. Read more in “Graveyard Shift Landing People One Foot in the Grave.”

  • Avoid Workplace Health Hazards!

    Out of our need for money, some of us suffer jobs we’re half-hearted to take in the first place. You can quit, but that would mean no food on the table and roof over your head. Here’s an article from The Daily Beast that will help you keep your job and be safe from health complications: “Five Reasons Your Office is Bad for You.”

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