GHS: Hazard Communication Standard

RTK504_LH1With newly formatted Safety Data Sheets and chemical labels beginning to arrive at worksites, experts recommend employers take the following steps:

  • Train employees. The deadline to ensure all workers are familiar with the updated labeling and SDS elements was Dec. 1, 2013.
  • Get the new SDSs. Take steps, including contacting chemical manufacturers, to ensure you have updated SDSs by June 1 for all chemicals onsite.
  • Review the SDSs. When the new SDSs come in, closely examine them and consider whether you have appropriate controls in place for all hazards.
  • Update hazcom program. If new hazards are listed on the SDSs, update your hazard communication program to mitigate the risks posed by those hazards.
  • Review training. Make sure your employees understand the new labels and SDSs. Refresher training may be necessary.

via GHS: The look of things to come | February 2015 | Safety+Health Magazine.

Understanding the Health Effect of Body Mass Index

8466770People with very low or very high BMIs tend to have the greatest health risks. Even so, BMI is only one factor in your overall health. For example, if your BMI falls into the normal weight category, you will still have a higher risk of health problems if you:

  • Smoke cigarettes
  • Do not participate in regular physical activity
  • Eat lots of nutrient-poor foods with added fat and sugar.

If your BMI is in the overweight category, you will have a lower overall health risk if you:

  • Get regular physical activity
  • Have blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol levels that are within normal limits.

This means BMI is one aspect of your health to discuss with your care provider. Together, you can decide if other assessments need to be done and whether lifestyle changes such as eating smarter and moving more will improve your health.

via Understanding Body Mass Index – Healthy Weight Information – from the Academy.

Drug Use Costs Employers

smoke-jointDrug use, abuse, or addiction among employees and their family members can cause expensive problems for business and industry, ranging from lost productivity, absenteeism, injuries, fatalities, theft and low employee morale, to an increase in health care, legal liabilities and workers’ compensation costs.

In addition, drug abuse can cause problems at work including:

  • After-effects of substance use (withdrawal) affecting job performance
  • Preoccupation with obtaining and using substances while at work, interfering with attention and concentration
  • Illegal activities at work including selling illegal drugs to other employees
  • Psychological or stress-related effects due to drug use by a family member, friend or co-worker that affects another person’s job performance

Estimated Costs:  Drug abuse costs employers $81 billion annually.

FACT:  Workers who report having three or more jobs in the previous five years are about twice as likely to be current or past year users of illegal drugs as those who have had two or fewer jobs.  NCADD Fact Sheet:  Alcohol and Other Drugs in the Workplace.

FACT:  70% of the estimated 14.8 million Americans who use illegal drugs are employed.

According to NCADD Affiliates that provide Employee Assistance Program (EAP) services, the following job performance and workplace behaviors may be signs that indicate possible workplace drug problems:

  • Job Performance
  • Inconsistent work quality
  • Poor concentration and lack of focus
  • Lowered productivity or erratic work patterns
  • Increased absenteeism or on the job “presenteeism”
  • Unexplained disappearances from the jobsite
  • Carelessness, mistakes or errors in judgment
  • Needless risk taking
  • Disregard for safety for self and others- on the job and off the job accidents
  • Extended lunch periods and early departures
  • Workplace Behavior
  • Frequent financial problems
  • Avoidance of friends and colleagues
  • Blaming others for own problems and shortcomings
  • Complaints about problems at home
  • Deterioration in personal appearance or personal hygiene
  • Complaints, excuses and time off for vaguely defined illnesses or family problems

Marijuana is the most commonly used and abused illegal drug by employees, followed by cocaine, with prescription drug use steadily increasing (see “Prescription Drugs”).

via Workplace.

Understanding the Importance of Physical Exams

medical-checkupsAccording to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), all adults — even seemingly healthy ones — should undergo regular physical examinations at their healthcare provider’s recommended frequency. The purposes of these exams are to:

  • Screen for diseases
  • Assess the risk of future medical problems
  • Encourage a healthy lifestyle
  • Update vaccinations
  • Maintain a relationship with a doctor in case of illness

Today, preventive services are customized, taking into account an individual’s health status, risk factors and personal and family health history.

via Resources – Newsletters – Understanding the Importance of Physical Exams.

Fatal Falls at Work

Ladder_fallIn 2013, falls to lower level accounted for 574 fatal work injuries. Of the cases where height of fall was known (466 cases), 3 out of every 5 were falls of 20 feet or less. Only one in five cases involved falls from more than 30 feet. In fact one in ten cases involved falls of less than 6 feet.

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, 2014

Teach Kids Healthy Habits

Healthy-KidsHealthy kids are more likely to become healthy adults. Be a role model and help your kids make safe and healthy choices every day.

  • Buckle up every age, every seat, every trip.
  • Put on a helmet during outdoor activities, including riding bikes and skating.
  • Put on sunscreen and avoid indoor tanning.
  • Brush and floss teeth.
  • Wash hands with clear running water and apply soap. Rub hands for at least 20 seconds, then rinse.
  • Be active with your kids. Children and adolescents need a total of 60 minutes of physical activity every day.
  • Be smoke-free, and protect your children from second hand smoke.
  • Get a flu vaccine. Everyone needs a flu vaccine – every flu season.
  • Be a healthy role model. Show your child what it means to be healthy.

via CDC – Five Minute Weekly Tip Teach Kids Healthy Habits – Family Health.

Connecting Psychosocial Environment and Employee Health

ist2_1935044_angry_boss_employee1Psychosocial environment refers to the culture and climate of the workplace.  Examples of the psychosocial environment of a workplace include respect for work-life balance, mechanisms to recognize and reward good performance, valuing employee wellness, encourage employee feedback about organizational practices, zero tolerance for harassment, bullying and discrimination, ensuring employee psychological safety and health.

via Psychosocial Environment.

Risk Factors to Health

riskHealth and wellbeing are affected by many factors, and those that are associated with ill health, disability, disease or death are known as risk factors. Risk factors are presented here individually, however in practice they do not operate in isolation. They often coexist and interact with one another.

Behavioural risk factors that can be eliminated or reduced through lifestyle or behavioral changes include:

  •  tobacco smoking
  •  excessive alcohol consumption
  •  poor diet and nutrition
  •  physical inactivity
  •  excessive sun exposure
  • insufficient vaccination
  • unprotected sexual activity.

Biomedical risk factors may be influenced by a combination of genetic, lifestyle and other broad factors. Biomedical risk factors include:

  •  overweight and obesity
  •  high blood pressure
  •  high blood cholesterol
  •  impaired glucose tolerance

via Risk factors to health (AIHW).

Making Your Computer Truly “User-Friendly”

BadPostureMany computer jobs offer few opportunities for alternate activities or postures, and, thanks to the fluidity of computer keyboards, workers can key faster and for longer uninterrupted stretches than ever before.


Although your own work habits can contribute to back and shoulder pain, using good posture is not a simple matter of finding the “right” position in which to sit. Even “poor” postures (feet up on chair rungs, slumping, twisting your body into odd positions) can prove comfortable if you don’t remain in them for extended periods of time. In fact, shifting about periodically proves useful for many people.

  • Ergonomic specialists recommend the following changes to your behavior and work environment to avoid back, neck, and shoulder pain:
  • Change your body position periodically throughout the day.
  • Use a document stand to reduce the amount of neck twisting or bending forward if typing from a source document.
  • Position your keyboard directly in front of you and at approximately elbow height. This should enable you to type with straight wrists. If this is not possible with the keyboard atop the work surface, use an adjustable-height keyboard tray.
  • Center your monitor with your keyboard and chair.
  • Avoid ear-to-shoulder neck positioning while on the phone.  Use a telephone headset that will allow you to work on the computer with good posture while on the phone.
  • Rearrange the work area to avoid excess bending, stooping, and reaching.
  • Try to relax. Many injuries and painful episodes arise from continuously tensing your neck and shoulder muscles while working.


A good chair can contribute significantly to reducing the risk of lower back pain or injury. A good ergonomic chair includes all or most of the following characteristics, not just one or two:

  • Adjustable lumbar support that maintains the natural “S” curvature of the spine
  • Angle between the backrest and seat that allows you to sit without leaning forward uncomfortably
  • Adjustable armrests
  • Slightly inclined backrest
  • Allows for a variety of seated postures
  • Seat height adjustability
  • Seat pan depth adjustability
  • Soft, rounded edges
  • Size that fits you
  • High backrest or headrest for deeply reclining postures
  • Comfortable but slip-resistant fabric
  • Casters that are appropriate for the floor surface

If your feet don’t reach the floor, consider using a footrest. In addition, if you have an older chair without lumbar support, try using a small pillow or towel roll to relieve pressure on your lower back.

Also, remember that ergonomic features won’t help you if the chair doesn’t suit your body or sitting habits, so adjustability is important. Be sure to have the adjustable features of your chair explained to you to ensure the best fit.


As with musculoskeletal disorders, one of the best ways to avoid back, neck, and shoulder injuries is to minimize sustained exertions. The following tips should help you:

  • Alternate tasks. If possible, get up from your workstation periodically to use the phone, make copies, file paperwork, etc.
  • Take several rest breaks. For many people, “microbreaks” that allow you to pause frequently are more effective than the traditional 15-minute break every two hours.
  • Take short breaks that involve active exercise (walking, stretching); they are often the most effective in relieving stress on the back, neck, and shoulders.


A frequent physical complaint by people who spend a lot of time in front of a monitor is eyestrain. Specialists in ergonomics have identified several problem areas and possible corrections for eyestrain, including:


  • Move or shield the light source.
  • Move the monitor.
  • Change the monitor’s angle.
  • Apply a good quality glare filter to the monitor.
  • When correcting for glare, don’t create other problems. For instance, if you move your monitor, don’t put it in a place that will produce neck strain. The monitor should be directly in front of you.
  • When possible, place your monitor at a right angle with the window.

Lighting Levels

  • Following the preceding recommendations, adjust your screen position and lighting sources (lamps, etc.) to achieve best results.
  • Work with a light screen background (dark type or images on white or pale background)—you will find it is easier on your eyes.
  • Rest the muscles of your eyes by focusing on a distant object, away from your monitor,  occasionally.
  • When using a laptop, look into the distance more frequently. A laptop monitor will probably not have the best placement, since it is attached to the keyboard.
  • If you are using a laptop at your primary workstation, a docking station with an external keyboard and mouse should be used.  An external monitor, or display, should also be considered.

Readability of Screen and Document

  • Place monitors directly in front of you and documents to the immediate right or left, at the same distance.
  • Upgrade or replace monitors with poor resolution or flicker.
  • Adjust your monitor’s font size or (if appropropriate).
  • If you wear glasses, consider getting full-frame reading glasses prescribed for the working distance of your monitor (typically, 15 to 30 inches/ 38 to 76 cm). These will allow you to place the monitor correctly and see well without stressing your posture.
  • Place the monitor so that the top of the screen is at your line of sight.  If you wear bifocals the top of the screen should be slightly below your line of sight.
  • Don’t skip visits to the eye doctor. Eyestrain could indicate a problem with your vision beyond the use of a computer monitor.

via An Ergonomics Approach to Avoiding Office Workplace Injuries and Illnesses.