When Working in the Cold, Be Prepared and Be Aware

 

 

 

 

 

 

When you must work in the cold, always be prepared and be aware.

Workers in cold environments may be at risk of cold stress. Exposure to cold can be an uncomfortable and potentially dangerous situation. For outdoor workers, what constitutes cold stress and its effects can vary across different areas of the country. In regions where workers are unaccustomed to winter weather, near freezing temperatures are considered factors for cold stress. Whenever outdoor temperatures drop significantly below normal and wind speed increases, heat more rapidly leaves the body. Serious health problems can occur when the body is unable to stay warm enough.

When you must work in the cold, always be prepared and be aware.

Be Prepared

Be prepared by wearing warm clothing. Workers who must be in the cold should wear warm clothing that is right for the weather. Wear several layers of loose clothing. Layering provides better insulation. Wear gloves to protect the hands, and a hat and/or hood to protect the head. In wet conditions, wear waterproof shoes that have good traction. Make sure that your cold weather gear does not restrict your movement or block your eyesight.

Be prepared to limit your time outside. Take breaks in warm locations, such as inside a vehicle or other sheltered or heated area. Workers may also need to limit their time outside on extremely cold days, so cold jobs should be scheduled for the warmest part of the day and relief workers may need to be assigned for long jobs. Be prepared for working in the cold, even if the cold temperatures are not extreme. It is obvious that bitter cold and howling winds can harm you, but did you know that you could suffer cold-related illness and injuries when it is as warm as 60° F?

Be Aware

Be aware that cold temperatures can lead to illness and injury. Workers should monitor their physical condition and that of coworkers, and immediately report signs and symptoms of cold-related illnesses and injuries to their supervisors or medical staff.

Hypothermia

One of the biggest dangers from working in the cold can be the hardest to recognize. Hypothermia happens when your body temperature drops because body heat is being lost faster than it can be produced. Mild hypothermia can make you feel confused, and you may not realize anything is wrong until it is too late. Being too cold can also cloud your judgment and cause you to make mistakes while you work, and mistakes can sometimes be deadly.

Early symptoms of hypothermia include shivering, feeling tired, loss of coordination, and confusion. As your body loses more heat, the shivering will stop, your skin may turn blue, the pupils of your eye will dilate, your pulse and breathing will slow, and you will lose consciousness.

Frostbite

Many parts of the body are prone to frostbite, including your fingers, toes, nose, and ears. Frostbite happens when a part of the body freezes, damaging the tissue. With severe damage, the body part may need to be removed to prevent even worse health problems. Warning signs of frostbite include numbness or tingling, stinging, or pain on or near the affected body part. Avoid frostbite by being aware of the weather and wearing protective clothing such as warm gloves, insulated shoes, and warm hats.

Other Cold Weather Injuries

You can get trench foot when your feet are wet and cold for too long. Moisture causes your feet to lose heat, and this can slow the blood flow and damage tissue. Trench foot can happen when it is as warm as 60° F.

Sometimes cold weather can damage your skin and cause chilblains. This problem can cause broken skin, swelling, blisters, redness, and itching.

For more information about hypothermia and other cold weather injuries.

Be Ready for the Cold

If you have to work in the cold, always wear clothing that is appropriate for the weather. Remember prolonged exposures to cold temperatures could cause you to make poor decisions or react more slowly than normal. Tell your supervisor if you are not dressed warmly enough. Pay attention to warning signs and symptoms of hypothermia, frostbite, and other cold-related illnesses and injuries.

Understanding the importance of workplace health and safety

Health and safety are two words people tend to take rather seriously – and understandably so. They play a vital role in your well-being and overall quality of life. When it comes to the business world, health and safety protocol should be at the top of any executive priority list. These processes are just as important as sales and marketing to the successes and failures of any company.

Regardless of industry, the possibility of accidents are always present. Some fields of work present more potential than others but the bottom line is that there need to be distinct protocols in place for workplace health and safety. This can be accomplished by investing in certification courses for your current WHS staff members.

Need for skilled WHS workers illuminated by high incident rate

The need for skilled WHS professionals is only compounded by the alarming rate of workplace injury across Australia. According to Safe Work Australia’s Key Work Health and Safety Statistics for 2015, 1 in 25 Australians suffered from work-related injuries last year.

These incidents predominantly occurred in the workplace (91 per cent) but notably also took place while travelling on business (4 per cent), when travelling to or from work (2 per cent) and during lunchtime or break activities (2 per cent).

The industries most susceptible to fatalities while on the job were:

  • Transport, postal and warehousing
  • Agriculture, forestry, and fishing
  • Construction
  • Manufacturing

These four industries accounted for just over 70 per cent of all workplace fatalities in 2015.

The benefits of exceptional WHS

The obvious benefit of outstanding workplace health and safety protocols is the protecting of your employees. When organisations have clearly articulated and well understood WHS processes in place, their staff members are less likely to fall victim to workplace injuries. As a result, your business can be protected from the potential liabilities and costs associated with incidents that occur on-site.

But safety and legal responsibility aren’t the only benefits associated with well-executed WHS processes. They can enhance brand value, improve employee loyalty, decrease business disruptions and promote corporate social responsibility (CSR). Let’s take a closer look at a couple of these benefits:

Enhanced brand value: Branding plays an important role in customer perception. A company that promotes safe workplace conditions is inherently perceived as socially responsible by consumers and potential clientele – a value that increasingly translates to profitability. A study by the Bank of Finland examined the impact of corporate social responsibility on a company’s stock value between 1990-2004.

Organisations that were placed on a list of socially responsible companies saw a market value increase of around 2 per cent. Those who were removed from the list saw their stock value drop by an average of 3 per cent. Companies with exceptional WHS standards and procedures have the potential to not only enhance their brand image but improve profitability as well.

Decreased business disruptions: Workplace catastrophes can cause businesses to come to a screeching halt. Whether it be temporarily losing a worker to an injury or having to suspend production processes in light of potential dangers with current protocol, a lack of WHS procedures can cost your business time and money.

Investing in WHS skill advancements

Whether it be preventing costly legal fees or enhancing your overall company image, good WHS policies clearly play a vital role in an organisation’s well-being. As such, it is critical to invest in the development of your health and safety employees.

Are Drones the Future for OSHA Inspections?

It’s a bird…it’s a plane…it’s an OSHA drone? That’s right, believe it or not, OSHA is now employing the use of drones for enforcement purposes in areas that would otherwise be deemed as inaccessible or unsafe for OSHA inspectors.

After publishing a memo in May of 2018 formalizing the use of drones during inspections, OSHA has reportedly completed nine inspections of facilities after dangerous incidents, such as a combustible dust blast, occurred. A key point of the memo – employer permission – has some employers uncomfortable with the situation as it has the potential to unearth violations that may not have been found by traditional methods. Also included in the memo, OSHA revealed their exploration in obtaining a Blanket Public Certificate of Waiver or Authorization (COA) from the FAA to operate drones on a national scale.

Do the Risks Outweigh the Rewards?
While the benefits of quicker inspections for OSHA may be positive for both the inspector and the employers involved, the latter should take time to weigh out the pros and cons of giving consent moving forward. During a conventional inspection, authorized employer representatives are allowed to accompany an inspector to essentially mimic the investigation and gather the same data as the inspector during the walkaround. By using a drone, this process becomes extremely difficult for employers to mirror. Also, of noteworthy consideration, businesses’ trade secrets may be exposed to OSHA drone cameras, so it will be of vital importance to address the issue before giving consent to a drone inspection.

Bottom line, the use of drones by OSHA will only continue to expand, and as such, employers should take the time to ensure they have the proper policies and procedures in place for their protection. Want to find out what else OSHA is up to in 2019? Click here now.

Under-reporting Injuries Still a Big Challenge for OSHA

An annual review pinpoints OSHA’s biggest challenges as it strives to reduce workplace injuries, illnesses, and fatalities. A law passed in 2000 requires the Office of Inspector General to identify the most serious management and performance challenges facing the U.S. Department of Labor, OSHA’s parent agency. The OIG report says OSHA and its mining industry equivalent, MSHA, face challenges in determining how to best use their limited resources to protect workers’ safety and health, particularly in high-risk industries such as construction, forestry, fishing and mining.

“These challenges are exacerbated by the under-reporting of injuries by employers,” the report stated. Without reliable data regarding workplace injuries, OSHA and MSHA lack the information needed to effectively focus inspection and compliance efforts on the most hazardous workplaces.

Unfortunately, this doesn’t exactly come as a surprise. Numerous reports have shown through the years that occupational injuries and illnesses are significantly under-reported. Verifying abatement of construction hazards also remains a challenge for OSHA, according to the report. The reason? Before verification is possible, OSHA has to close many citations for safety violations because the construction project has ended. OSHA winds up with no assurances that employers with alleged safety violations will use improved practices at subsequent construction sites. This is particularly true for small and medium-sized construction firms.

Winterizing Your Workforce

Even in the midst of a mild winter season, it is important for businesses to address the inevitable increase in health issues as temperatures begin to drop. The major issues of the winter season are: how to reduce risks associated with cold-weather exposure, battling this year’s flu season, and how to properly compensate employees during weather-related closures.

Safety Challenges
Cold weather creates its own challenges when it comes to employee safety, and it is imperative to take proper precautions for those who work outside for prolonged periods. Extended exposure to cold or freezing temperatures can lead to serious health problems such as frostbite, hypothermia, and trench foot. It is because of these serious health problems that employers should advocate and enforce the use of protective clothing, engineering controls, and common safe work practices.

Flu Season
While it is not uncommon for employees to begin displaying signs of the flu during the holidays, flu season typically peaks in January. It is important to prepare for flu outbreaks now by taking preventative steps to ensure employee wellness.

Most measures are common sense and easily implemented such as focusing awareness on employee cleanliness by urging them to wash their hands and use proper sneeze and cough etiquette. Employers can also increase their stock of antibacterial soaps and cleaning supplies to limit the spread of germs. More aggressive approaches to limiting the spread of the disease would be to consider sending sick employees home and altering attendance policies to prevent sick employees from rushing back to work while they remain contagious. Some employers have even offered incentives to their employees who receive the flu shot.

Winter Wages
Especially in colder climates, companies should ensure their policies include how employee schedules may be changed due to winter weather, what they should do if they are unable to safely navigate the roads to work, as well as how to report time rules for compensation that may apply under state laws.

If your organization already has these policies and procedures in place, now is the time to review them to ensure their accuracy and that they are still compliant with federal and state wage and hour laws.

Certified Safety Manager (CSM) 2019

After wrapping up an extremely successful 2018, we are pleased to announce our 2019 Certified Safety Manager (CSM) Classroom schedule:

February 11-15, Las Vegas
May 6-10, Charleston
June 24-28, Chicago
October 21-25, San Antonio (hotel TBD)

CSM Vegas!
In the world of safety, it’s always nice to know that the people who have your back have the best training possible. NASP understands which is why we’re offering a buy one, get one half off promotion for our upcoming Las Vegas class.

Space is extremely limited, so don’t miss your opportunity to get the expert training you need, from the professionals you know. Sign up now by clicking here. You will be directed to our website where you can complete your registration online. Once complete, call and register a second person for 50% off!

Safety Auditor Certificate Course (SAC) Update

We are proud to announce the completion of our SAC course into the Learning Management System (LMS). Do you conduct audits in-house? Are you required to perform Incident Investigations? Do you write JHAs? Then the SAC is for you!

In this course, you will discover:

  • A comprehensive review of the most recent OSHA violations through an interactive lesson plan,
  • An in-depth view of the OSHA inspection process and how to best prepare your company,
  • How to conduct Job Hazard Analysis (JHA) in great detail with emphasis on risk assessments and control measures,
  • An introduction to conducting accident investigations with a look into the incident investigation process,
  • How to use a multitude of root cause analysis techniques to bolster your investigation arsenal, and
  • A step-by-step guide on writing investigation reports.

To show you how excited we are about this new course, we are offering a 30% discount on our normally $795 course! Click here now and type in SAC30OFF in the coupon code for this savings.

Not familiar with our new and improved Learning Management System? Click here to sign up for our free demo.

Failed New Year Resolutions

I recently read this article regarding why we fail at New Year resolutions.  I think this could apply to our safety goals in the New Year as well.  Would love to hear feedback from our customers.

Setting a New Year’s resolution isn’t just socially accepted; it’s culturally encouraged. During the process your brain places more subjective value on completing a new goal, and you want it more in the moment, says Spencer Gerrol, CEO of a leading neuroscience consulting agency.

It also sets off lots of activity in your brain. “When setting a highly desired resolution, your dopaminergic reward systems—the orbitofrontal cortex and ventromedial prefrontal cortex—become more active,” he says. “The issue then becomes keeping that brain activity directed toward the new goal over the long haul.”

Unfortunately, a lot of things get in the way, which is why most of us fail. “Behavior change doesn’t happen in the setting of a goal,” says Gerrol. “You have to execute activities over a course of time, and that’s where you run into issues. For example, how much do you like the new behaviors? How hard are they? Is the goal intrinsically motivated? Or did somebody else impose it? These compete with each other.”

In addition, our brains have been conditioned to seek out quick dopamine hits, especially things you’ve already experienced that were pleasurable or rewarding, like binging Netflix or browsing social media.

“Maybe you want to go to the gym, but your brain wants to see if someone liked your Facebook post,” says Gerrol. “These activities compete for same resources. What happens is that the goals people want to achieve are disconnected by what they want in the short term.”

If you know the challenge exists when you set your goal, you have to be ready to tackle the things that will cause you to lose momentum. “You need a whole new strategy,” says Gerrol.

Here are eight things you can do to override your brain’s tendencies and stick to your New Year’s resolution:

1  MAKE SURE YOU WANT THE GOAL

The first thing is to make sure your goal is intrinsic instead of extrinsic, says Gerrol. “Wanting the goal for yourself instead of doing it for someone else or feeling like you should is a key thing to make a goal successful.”

2  MAKE SURE IT’S CHALLENGING BUT NOT TOO HARD

Make sure the goal is at the optimal level of challenge. “If the goal is not challenging enough, then you may lose your motivation because it’s too easy and less fun,” says Gerrol. “People set the bar at the wrong place. What they think is easy is harder than they realize. If it’s too challenging, it’s not realistic.”

3  DON’T RELY ON WILLPOWER

Too often we set a goal and rely on determination and grit to achieve it. “Willpower takes an incredible amount of cognitive effort,” says Gerrol. “You have to remind yourself every day and be strong to make it happen. Without the right level of reward, it becomes unsustainable.”

4  BREAK THE GOAL INTO SMALL CHUNKS

When setting a big goal, you need to break it into small steps to get a release of dopamine in the brain when you accomplish them. Keep a journal, maintain a checklist, or graph your results.

“When a goal is so far away, you don’t get that burst of pleasure,” says Gerrol. “Pause at each smaller goal and celebrate success at each stage. You need to measure your progress as a way of tracking success.”

5 LOOK AT HISTORICAL PROGRESS

Another element is to look back at your progress over time. “It’s important to look at how far you’ve come,” says Gerrol. “You accomplish two things by doing this. You get dopamine every time you check a milestone. And you get another release when you look at your total progress.”

6 CREATE A REWARD SYSTEM

The brain reacts positively to rewards, both tangible and intangible. Gerrol suggests setting up a system where you recognize your work. One way is to get positive reinforcement from your social circle.

“A pat on the back matters,” he says. “It can be from your social circle on an online community chasing the same goal.”

Another way to stick to your resolution is to give yourself a real reward. “Create an external milestone attached to a gift,” says Gerrol. “It shouldn’t be just one big one, but small ones along the way.”

7  ATTACH YOUR GOAL TO YOUR IDENTITY

Frame your goal in terms of your value system; who you are as a person, suggests Gerrol. For example, if you want to spend less time on your phone and more time present with the people around you, saying out loud, “I’m someone who values my family over my phone,” can help keep you aligned to your goal.

Then repeat that phrasing of the goal like a mantra regularly to keep the goal framed in terms of who you are and what you truly care about. This process makes an otherwise surface-level goal more deeply grounded.

“We suffer from cognitive dissonance,” says Gerrol. “Our behaviors contradict our values. What you’re doing and what you think is right may be different, but you rationalize it. Bringing it to your attention makes you less likely to go the route of rationalizing and change the behavior instead. It needs to come from a genuine place to work.”

8  FIND AN ACCOUNTABILITY BUDDY

Finally, your goal should be socially grounded; if your goal helps others, causes others to rely on you, or is reinforced and encouraged by others, you are more likely to stick to it.

“Yes, peer pressure has its place,” say Gerrol. “The more your resolution is consistently positively reinforced by your friends, the more you will stick to it.”

Hazardous Materials

 

Hazardous materials (hazmat) are any material that has properties that may result in risk or injury to health and/or destruction of life or facilities. Many hazardous materials (hazmat) do not have a taste or an odor. Some can be detected because they cause physical reactions such as watering eyes or nausea. Some Hazardous Materials exist beneath the surface of the ground and have an oil or foam-like appearance. The substance can be identified from placards, labels or markings on the transporters.

 

Hazardous Material can be:

Corrosive Hazmat Materials:

are strong enough to eat away at steel drums or human skin. Because they can eat through the containers they are carried in, they are of special concern during transportation. Example: car battery acids

 

Ignitable Hazmat Materials:

present a fire hazard because they are flammable at relatively low temperatures. This causes a risk of explosion and the spreading of toxic gas over an area, as well as fire and smoke. Examples: paint removers, the chemical Benzene

 

Reactive Materials:

can explode or release deadly fumes by mixing with water or reacting to heat or pressure. Examples: old weapons and ammunition, sodium metal, stannic chloride

 

Radioactive Materials:

include materials with both high and low radioactivity that can lead to dangerous side effects for thousands of years. Most of these materials are produced at nuclear power plants and by research facilities.

 

Toxic Hazardous Materials:

consist of poisonous chemicals. People and animals exposed to these types of materials can develop severe health problems. Examples: lead, arsenic, mercury

 

Infectious Materials:

These materials are also toxic wastes, but are in a separate category. They consist of materials infected with some type of germ, bacteria, or virus that could cause disease in humans or animals. These types of materials often come from hospitals. Examples: hypodermic needles, human and animal waste.

 

Classification of Hazardous Materials:

The DOT has broad authority to regulate hazardous materials that are in transport, including the discretion to determine which materials shall be classified as “hazardous”. These materials are placed in one of nine categories, based on their chemical and physical properties. Based on the classification of the material, the DOT is also responsible for determining the appropriate packaging materials for shipping or transport. Finally, also based on the material classification, strict guidelines are furnished for proper labeling/marking of packages of hazardous materials offered for transport, and for placarding of transport vehicles.

 

Class 1: Explosives

Division 1.1 – Articles and substances having a mass explosion hazard

Division 1.2 – Articles and substances having a projection hazard, but not a mass explosion hazard

Division 1.3 – Articles and substances having a fire hazard, a minor blast hazard, and/or a minor projection hazard, but not a mass explosion hazard

Division 1.4 – Articles and substances presenting no significant hazard (explosion limited to package)

Division 1.5 – Very insensitive substances having a mass explosion hazard

Division 1.6 – Extremely insensitive articles which do not have a mass explosion hazard

 

Class 2 Gas

Division 2.1 – Flammable Gas

Division 2.2 – Non-flammable, non-toxic gas (under pressure, inert, etc.)

Division 2.3 – Toxic Gas

 

 

Class 3 Flammable Liquids (100 Degrees F or less closed cup):

Flammable Gas

Combustible

 

Class 4 Other Flammable Substances:

Division 4.1 – Flammable Solid

Division 4.2 – Substances liable to spontaneous combustion

Division 4.3 – Substances which, in contact with water, emit flammable gases

 

Class 5 Oxidizing Substances and Organic Peroxides:

Division 5.1 – Oxidizers

Division 5.2 – Organic Peroxides

 

Class 6 Toxic (Poisonous) and Infectious Substances:

Division 6.1 – Toxic Substances

Division 6.2 – Infectious Substances

 

Class 7 Radioactive Material:

Division 7 – Radioactive Material

 

Class 8 Corrosives:

Division 8 – Corrosives