Prevent Snow Shoveling Injuries

shovel-snowSnow removal is more than just another necessary household chore. All that bending and heavy lifting can put you at serious risk for injury. Snow removal can be especially dangerous if you do not exercise regularly.

According to the 2009 US Consumer Product Safety Commission:

  • Approximately 16,500 people were treated in hospital emergency rooms for injuries that happened while shoveling or removing ice and snow manually
  • The most common injuries associated with snow removal include sprains and strains, particularly in the back and shoulders, as well as lacerations and finger amputations.

General Tips for Safe Snow Clearing

  • Check with your doctor. Because this activity places high stress on the heart, you should always speak with your doctor before shoveling or snow blowing. If you have a medical condition or do not exercise regularly, consider hiring someone to remove the snow.
  • Dress appropriately. Light, layered, water-repellent clothing provides both ventilation and insulation. It is also important to wear the appropriate head coverings, as well as mittens or gloves and thick, warm socks. Avoid falls by wearing shoes or boots that have slip-resistant soles.
  • Start early. Try to clear snow early and often. Begin shoveling/snowblowing when a light covering of snow is on the ground to avoid dealing with packed, heavy snow.
  • Clear vision. Be sure you can see what you are shoveling/snowblowing. Do not let a hat or scarf block your vision. Watch for ice patches and uneven surfaces.

Tips for Snow Shoveling

  • Warm-up your muscles. Shoveling can be a vigorous activity. Before you begin this physical workout, warm-up your muscles for 10 minutes with light exercise.
  • Pace yourself. Snow shoveling and snow blowing are aerobic activities. Take frequent breaks and prevent dehydration by drinking plenty of fluids. If you experience chest pain, shortness of breath, or other signs of a heart attack, stop the activity and seek emergency care.
  • Proper equipment. Use a shovel that is comfortable for your height and strength. Do not use a shovel that is too heavy or too long for you. Space your hands on the tool grip to increase your leverage.
  • Proper lifting. Try to push the snow instead of lifting it. If you must lift, do it properly. Squat with your legs apart, knees bent, and back straight. Lift with your legs. Do not bend at the waist. Scoop small amounts of snow into the shovel and walk to where you want to dump it. Holding a shovelful of snow with your arms outstretched puts too much weight on your spine. Never remove deep snow all at once. Do it in pieces.
  • Safe technique. Do not throw the snow over your shoulder or to the side. This requires a twisting motion that stresses your back.

via Prevent Snow Shoveling and Snowblowing Injuries -OrthoInfo – AAOS.

Chronic Diseases Are Preventable

Doctor's dayChronic diseases are the most common and costly of all health problems, but they are also the most preventable. Four common, health-damaging, but modifiable behaviors—tobacco use, insufficient physical activity, poor eating habits, and excessive alcohol use—are responsible for much of the illness, disability, and premature death related to chronic diseases.

Risk Behaviors: The Facts

  • More than 43 million (about 1 in 5) U.S. adults smoke.
  • 1 in 5 U.S. high school students are current smokers.
  • More than one-third of all U.S. adults fail to meet minimum recommendations for aerobic physical activity based on the 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans.
  • Only 1 in 3 U.S. high school students participates in daily physical education classes.
  • More than 60% of U.S. children and adolescents eat more than the recommended daily amounts of saturated fat.
  • Only 24% of U.S. adults and 20% of U.S. high school students eat five or more servings of fruits and vegetables per day.
  • About 1 in 6 Americans aged 18 years and older engage in binge drinking (5 or more drinks for men and 4 or more drinks for women during a single occasion) in the past 30 days.
  • Nearly 45% of U.S. high school students report having had at least one drink of alcohol in the past 30 days.

via CDC – Chronic Disease – At A Glance.

Prevent Fires from Alternative Heat

Fire_houseFireMore than 3,400 Americans die each year in fires and approximately 17,500 are injured. An overwhelming number of fires occur in the home. Many are started by alternative heaters. Here are a few tips to keep you and your family safe.

  • Portable heaters need their space. Keep anything combustible at least three feet away.
  • Keep fire in the fireplace. Use fire screens and have your chimney cleaned annually. The creosote buildup can ignite a chimney fire that could easily spread.
  • Kerosene heaters should be used only where approved by authorities. Never use gasoline or camp-stove fuel. Refuel outside and only after the heater has cooled.

via Home Fire Prevention and Safety Tips.

OSHA Top 10 Most Cited Standards

osha-inspection-citationThe following is a list of the top 10 most frequently cited standards* following inspections of worksites by federal OSHA. OSHA publishes this list to alert employers about these commonly cited standards so they can take steps to find and fix recognized hazards addressed in these and other standards before OSHA shows up. Far too many preventable injuries and illnesses occur in the workplace.

  • 1926.501 – Fall Protection
  • 1910.1200 – Hazard Communication
  • 1926.451 – Scaffolding
  • 1910.134 – Respiratory Protection
  • 1910.305 – Electrical, Wiring Methods
  • 1910.178 – Powered Industrial Trucks
  • 1926.1053 – Ladders
  • 1910.147 – Lockout/Tagout
  • 1910.303 – Electrical, General Requirements
  • 1910.212 – Machine Guarding

via Top Ten Standards.

Calculating Wind Chill Dangers

-cf95fc3f260e5818The NWS Windchill Temperature (WCT) index uses advances in science, technology, and computer modeling to provide an accurate, understandable, and useful formula for calculating the dangers from winter winds and freezing temperatures. The index:

  • Calculates wind speed at an average height of five feet, typical height of an adult human face, based on readings from the national standard height of 33 feet, typical height of an anemometer
  • Is based on a human face model
  • Incorporates heat transfer theory, heat loss from the body to its surroundings, during cold and breezy/windy days
  • Lowers the calm wind threshold to 3 mph
  • Uses a consistent standard for skin tissue resistance
  • Assumes no impact from the sun (i.e., clear night sky).

via NWS Wind Chill Index.

5 Facts about CPR and AEDs

cpr-and-aedHere are five facts about AEDs and CPR :

1. CPR will not restart a heart. Instead, it manually pumps blood through the heart and enables oxygen to reach the brain. This is absolutely vital for someone experiencing cardiac arrest. According to the America Heart Association, if CPR is administered immediately, it doubles or even triples the victim’s rate of survival.

2. CPR is hard work. Pushing hard on the victim’s chest (at a depth of about 2 inches) at a rate of 100 compressions per minute can quickly become exhausting. If another person is available to help give CPR, you should switch out every 2 minutes.

3. Both CPR and AEDs are safe. It’s unlikely you’ll hurt someone by performing CPR. And because CPR is so critical in the first minutes someone experiences cardiac arrest, you should administer this life-saving action even if you’re not absolutely sure whether the victim is breathing or has a heartbeat. Good Samaritan laws also should protect you even if an unlikely injury does occur.

4.An AED will administer a shock for two types of abnormal heart rhythms: ventricular tachycardia and ventricular fibrillation. These are fatal arrhythmias. While they have a high likelihood of being corrected by an AED, they also may recur, which is why it’s important to leave an AED on (while continuing to administer CPR) until emergencies services arrive.

5. AEDs are so easy a third-grader can use one – literally. According to an expert, when third graders were presented with AEDs and asked to use them, they were able to do so correctly. An AED will talk you through each step and determine whether or not a shock is needed. It’s that easy.

via Life Saver: 5 Facts about CPR and AEDs | EHS Today | Health content from EHS Today.

Lean Thinking for Employee Health & Safety

integrating-lean-and-safety-myths-and-practical-strategiesMost people associate the term Lean with the Toyota Production System. This combined management and production system helped a small company grow to world-class size and market share. As they did so, most of the auto manufacturers and other industries studied their methods and tools to learn how to improve their own organizations. What does this method of lean thinking have to do with employee health & safety? Here are a few examples:

  • Integrates employee safety health and well-being into the business
  • Marries waste elimination (injury and illness) to making $$ in non traditional way
  • Simple and easy for supervision and employees to think and apply lean tools  –Hands on experiential learning
  • Builds culture of critical thinking – It’s not “what” you do but “how” and “why”

You can trace the roots of Lean back many years but there are still many companies that have not fully implemented it. They are missing a huge opportunity to improve their business and even their long term survival. 

Protect Yourself From Violent Crime

crime-sceneA list of tips for adults on staying safe

  • Don’t walk or jog early in the morning or late at night when the streets are deserted.
  • When out at night, try to have a friend walk with you.
  • Carry only the money you’ll need on a particular day.
  • Don’t display your cash or any other inviting targets such as pagers, cell phones, hand-held electronic games, or expensive jewelry and clothing.
  • If you think someone is following you, switch directions or cross the street. If the person continues to follow you, move quickly toward an open store or restaurant or a lighted house. Don’t be afraid to yell for help.
  • Try to park in well-lighted areas with good visibility and close to walkways, stores, and people.
  • Make sure you have your key out as you approach your door.
  • Always lock your car, even if it’s in your own driveway; never leave your motor running.
  • Do everything you can to keep a stranger from getting into your car or to keep a stranger from forcing you into his or her car.
  • If a dating partner has abused you, do not meet him or her alone. Do not let him or her in your home or car when you are alone.
  • If you are a battered spouse, call the police or sheriff immediately. Assault is a crime, whether committed by a stranger or your spouse or any other family member. If you believe that you and your children are in danger, call a crisis hotline or a health center (the police can also make a referral) and leave immediately.
  • If someone tries to rob you, give up your property—don’t give up your life.
  • If you are robbed or assaulted, report the crime to the police. Try to describe the attacker accurately. Your actions can help prevent someone else from becoming a victim.

via Protect Yourself From Violent Crime — National Crime Prevention Council.

The Effect of Poor Health on Workers Compensation Costs

obesity-and-back-pain-300x218A driver of workers compensation medical costs lies in the number of comorbid factors—diseases or disorders that exist simultaneously, but independently, with another disorder—that injured workers may have that make it more difficult to recover from work injuries. These conditions include systemic problems, such as hypertension, obesity or diabetes. Often, injured workers who have been out of work for a long period of time have lost their medical insurance because their employers can no longer carry them on the books as employees. This lack of insurance makes it difficult for them to afford prescriptions for any of these underlying systemic conditions. These untreated medical conditions then slow recovery from the work injury, which leads to higher costs for the workers compensation carrier.

via National Trends in Workers Compensation | Risk Management.