OSHA launches occupational hearing safety competition

ear plugThe U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and Mine Safety and Health Administration, in partnership with the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, have launched a competition “…with the dual goals of inspiring creative ideas and raising business awareness of the market for workplace safety innovation,” according to a recent OSHA press release.

Twenty-two million workers risk losing their hearing from workplace noise hazards, costing businesses an estimated $242 million annually in workers’ compensation, according to the press release. The “Hear and Now – Noise Safety Challenge” campaign aims to help decrease those numbers. The competition, open to the general public, encourages participants to create technology that will improve occupational hearing protection. Suggested topics detailed in the press release include:

  • Technology that will enhance employer training and improve effective use of hearing protection.
  • Technology that alerts workers when hearing protection is not blocking enough noise to prevent hearing loss.
  • Technology that allows workers to hear important alerts or human voices while remaining protected from harmful noise.

Ten finalists of the competition will be invited to present their ideas to a panel of judges on October 27 in Washington D.C. Idea submissions are due by September 30. To learn more about the competition, or submit ideas, click here.

Do you know the six common workplace hazards?

characters-696949_960_720Workplace hazards fall into six different categories, according to OSHA. They are: safety, biological, physical, ergonomic, chemical and work organization hazards. Employers and employees can protect themselves by recognizing all six.

Safety

Safety hazards are the most common, and can occur in any type of workplace. They include many common hazards that can cause injury, illness or death, such as spills on floors, unguarded machinery, electrical hazards and working from heights, among others. Safety hazards are easily avoided with environmental awareness and safety mindfulness.

Physical

Physical hazards are elements within the environment that can physically harm the body without touching it, including radiation, exposure to sunlight, temperature extremes and loud noise. Though often invisible, employers and employees should be aware of physical hazards, and take the necessary steps to prevent them. This includes wearing appropriate clothing, sun screen and ear plugs.

Chemical

Chemical hazards are present whenever a worker is exposed to chemicals in any form, including solids, liquids and gases. Be aware of all liquid solutions, vapors and fumes, gases, flammable materials and pesticides in the workplace, and make sure hazards are labeled appropriately.

Biological

Biological hazards are present whenever workers interact with people, animals and plants. These type of hazards include exposure to blood or other bodily fluids, bacteria, insect bites and animal droppings.

Ergonomic

Ergonomic hazards are associated with work conditions. They occur when the type of work, posture and working conditions put strain on the body, and include improperly adjusted work stations, frequent lifting, repetitive movement and vibration.

Work Organization

Work organization hazards are associated with workplace issues such as workload, lack of respect and other stressors. They include workload demands, workplace violence, sexual harassment, social support and flexibility. Work organization hazards can be avoided through strong communication between supervisors and employees, and maintaining mutual respect among coworkers. They can often be resolved through the human resources department.

Understanding and recognizing the six types of common workplace safety hazards can keep you, and your coworkers, safe.

Summer Safety Tips

summerThe summer season brings cookouts, pool parties and other celebrations, as well as a new set of safety hazards. This year, keep these safety tips in mind as you enjoy the season on the job and at home.

Heat

Temperatures rise in the summer months. Being exposed to warm weather can cause health issues, such as dehydration, heat exhaustion and heat stroke. To avoid these, drink plenty of water throughout the day, and take frequent breaks in shaded areas to cool off. Try to complete outdoor work during cool hours, such as in the early morning or at night. Signs of heat exhaustion include dizziness, headache, fatigue, confusion, pale skin and rapid heartbeat. If you, or someone near you, exhibits the symptoms of heat exhaustion, it is important to find a cool, shaded area, drink fluids and cool off with fans or water.

Sunburn

Whether it’s a cookout at home, or a day at the beach, it’s important to protect yourself from the sun’s rays. Always wear sunscreen while enjoying the outdoors. Exposure to UVB and UVA rays can increase the risk of burns and skin cancer. Sunburns can be treated by applying a cool compress to the area, and rubbing creams such as aloe, menthol and camphor to the burn.  It is recommended to wear a minimum of SPF 30 daily when exposed to the sun and reapply as directed on the bottle.  Skin cancer is the most common cancer found in young adults and is highly preventable with the proper use of sunscreen and clothing.

Stings and bites

Along with high temperatures, summer also brings bees and other stinging insects. Bee stings are merely annoying and painful to most, but can be life-threatening for some. If you get stung, first remove the stinger if it remains in your skin. Wash the area with soap and water, and apply ice or a cool compress to reduce swelling. If the area itches, you can apply hydrocortisone cream or calamine lotion. Avoiding heavy perfumes, wearing insect repellent and guarding food and drinks can help you avoid stings.

Mowing

Mowing: it’s the summer chore most of us have to do. To avoid lawn mower-related injuries, be sure to practice safe handling. Follow these tips:

  • Pick up all sticks, stones and other objects from the lawn before mowing
  • Wear fitting clothes and sturdy shoes (no sandals or sneakers)
  • Mow advancing forward
  • Turn the mower off every time you leave it
  • Keep all people and pets away from the mower
  • Do not allow extra riders on riding lawn mowers
  • Do not use riding mowers on slopes

Remember to practice safety mindfulness to enjoy a summer free of seasonal injuries and illnesses on the job and at home.

 

Save a Coworker’s Life and Learn First Aid!

June is national safety month.  Companies around the country will be reminding workers to practice safe habits in the workplace and at home, but are you also keeping the health of your coworkers in mind?

Learning basic first aid techniques can save the lives of your family members, friends and coworkers, and can be fun! Practicing these techniques can make homes and workplaces safer for everyone:

CPR and Defibrillators

To administer CPR on an unresponsive person who is not breathing or whose heart has stopped beating due to a heart attack, drowning or other medical emergency, follow the steps of CAB (compression, airway, and breathing.) Dial 911 before beginning, and follow the instructions on an AED defibrillator if one is available.  If you are not trained in CPR, then administer hands-only CPR.

Compression

Place the heel of one hand atop the chest and between the nipples, and the other on top of the first hand. Use your upper body to push down on the chest, approximately two inches. Begin pumping about 100 compressions per minute. After 30 compressions, move to the next step.

Airway

Tilt the person’s head back and lift the chin forward. Check for rising chest motion, listen for breathing sounds and feel for the person’s breath on your cheek and ears. If the person is not breathing normally, move to the next step.

Breathing

Pinch the person’s nostrils shut and cover his or her mouth with yours. Blow one breath, lasting for about one second, into the person’s mouth and check for breathing. Administer a second breath. If the person still is not breathing normally, begin the cycle over. Continue until the person is breathing normally or emergency medical help arrives.

Choking

If a person is experiencing inability to breath due to choking, begin the Heimlich maneuver to dislodge the blockage. The universal sign for choking is the hands clutching the neck.

Steps

  1. Stand behind the person and wrap your arms around the waist.
  2. Make a fist with one hand and place it slightly above the person’s navel.
  3. Grab the fist with the other hand, and press hard into the abdomen in an upward thrust. Continue until the blockage is dislodged or emergency medical personnel arrive.

Heat Exhaustion and Hypothermia

Working in extreme weather conditions can cause heat exhaustion- or the opposite, hypothermia. Understand the signs of both, and what to do when they occur.

Heat Exhaustion

Signs: Dizziness, nausea or vomiting, heavy sweating, cool and clammy skin, weak and rapid pulse, muscle cramps, flushed face, weakness or fatigue

How to treat: Immediately remove the person from the source of heat and into a cool environment, or the heat exhaustion can turn into heat stroke. Lay the person down and elevate the legs. Give the person water to drink, and spray them with cool water. Call 911.

Hypothermia

Signs: Shivering, slurred speech, shallow breathing, weak pulse, clumsiness, drowsiness, confusion

How to treat: Remove the person from the cold, if possible. Protect the person from the cold, especially around the neck and head. Gradually warm the person, beginning with the center of the body. DO NOT warm the person with a hot bath, and do not attempt to warm or massage the arms or legs. Call 911.

Knowing basic first aid techniques can help protect ourselves and those around us. This month, take time to practice these methods, and always be aware of your surroundings.

To have emergency first aid information with you at all times, you can download theAmerican Red Cross First Aid app for your phone. A full list of first aid techniques for other medical emergencies can be found here: http://www.mayoclinic.org/first-aid

June is National Safety Month

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Get Ready! June is National Safety Month sponsored by the National Safety Council (NSC). Join NSC and thousands of organizations across the country as they work to raise awareness of what it takes to stay safe. Observed annually in the month of June, National Safety Month focuses on reducing leading causes of injury and death at work, on the road, and in our homes and communities. To learn more about National Safety Month, click here.

#DidYouKnow EFS has experience working on Superfund Sites

Excavator Blue Sky#DidYouKnow that EFS has experience working on dozens of Superfund Sites across the United States?  Below is an example of a Superfund Site where EFS performed work in recent years.

Environmental Field Services, Inc. (EFS) was contracted by a client to provide soil mixing services for the site located in Ashippun, Wisconsin.

Prior remediation efforts consisting of a groundwater pump and treat system operated at the site until 2004. An amendment to the Record of Decision (ROD) modified the treatment strategy to excavation or in-situ treatment of hot spot areas in order to meet the remedial action objectives for the site in a shorter time period.  In – situ treatment was selected as the remedy and this phase of work focused on five specific “hot spot” source areas containing elevated concentrations of trichloroethylene (TCE) in soil and groundwater.

Initial site activities included the establishment of staging and laydown areas, and installation of erosion control measures.   Following set up, EFS excavated and stockpiled 215 cubic yards of clean topsoil and 1,160 cubic yards of overburden soils to access the treatment intervals.

Soil mixing was performed to promote in situ chemical reduction through biotic and abiotic degradation mechanisms with the addition of Daramend®, a proprietary products that consists of a soluble substrate and zero valent iron (ZVI).  Daramend® was delivered in bulk and blended on site and delivered to the targeted treatment intervals using an excavator mounted dual axis mixing tool to depths of up to 18 feet below grade.  Post mixing verification sampling confirmed the achievement of design mix ratios in each of the treatment cells.  Geotextile fabric was installed and each treatment cell was backfilled to grade with the overburden soils and topsoil.  Following topsoil placement, each area was reseeded to promote site restoration.

A list of current Superfund Sites can be found on the EPA’s website. Click here to see if there are any sites close to where you live.

Join OSHA’s National Safety Stand-Down

OSHA Safety Stand-DownThis week, OSHA is working to raise awareness for preventing fall hazards, specifically in the construction industry. Regardless of whether or not you work in the construction industry, this Safety Stand-Down can be beneficial. Last year, OSHA was able to reach over 2.5 million workers, and they aim to reach at least 5 million this year.

So what exactly is a Safety Stand-Down? In the simplest of terms, it is “a voluntary event for employers to talk directly to employees about safety” (OSHA Safety Stand-Down Website). While individuals are encouraged to talk about all aspects of safety, this year, OSHA is primarily focusing on “Fall Hazards” and “Fall Prevention.”

Here at EFS, we will focus on talking about ladder safety amongst our employees, both in the office and in the field, and continue to follow our safety plans. Will you participate in a Safety Stand-Down, or even organize one? To learn more about OSHA’s National Safety Stand-Down or to plan a Safety Stand-Down of your own, click here. To download the OSHA poster pictured above,click here