Prevention of Musculoskeletal Disorders in the Workplace

dandy_blogMusculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) affect the muscles, nerves and tendons. Work related MSDs (including those of the neck, upper extremities and low back) are one of the leading causes of lost workday injury and illness. Workers in many different industries and occupations can be exposed to risk factors at work, such as lifting heavy items, bending, reaching overhead, pushing and pulling heavy loads, working in awkward body postures and performing the same or similar tasks repetitively. Exposure to these known risk factors for MSDs increases a worker’s risk of injury.

But work-related MSDs can be prevented. Ergonomics — fitting a job to a person — helps lessen muscle fatigue, increases productivity and reduces the number and severity of work-related MSDs.

via Safety and Health Topics | Ergonomics.

What is ISO 31000:2009 – Risk Management?

iso-31000-logoRisks affecting organizations can have consequences in terms of economic performance and professional reputation, as well as environmental, safety and societal outcomes. Therefore, managing risk effectively helps organizations to perform well in an environment full of uncertainty.

ISO 31000:2009 Risk Management provides principles, framework and a process for managing risk. It can be used by any organization regardless of its size, activity or sector. Using ISO 31000 can help organizations increase the likelihood of achieving objectives, improve the identification of opportunities and threats and effectively allocate and use resources for risk treatment.

Organizations using it can compare their risk management practices with an internationally recognized benchmark, providing sound principles for effective management and corporate governance.

via ISO 31000 – Risk management – ISO.

Employer Liability for Harassment

angry-bossThe employer is automatically liable for harassment by a supervisor that results in a negative employment action such as termination, failure to promote or hire, and loss of wages. If the supervisor’s harassment results in a hostile work environment, the employer can avoid liability only if it can prove that: 1) it reasonably tried to prevent and promptly correct the harassing behavior; and 2) the employee unreasonably failed to take advantage of any preventive or corrective opportunities provided by the employer.

The employer will be liable for harassment by non-supervisory employees or non-employees over whom it has control (e.g., independent contractors or customers on the premises), if it knew, or should have known about the harassment and failed to take prompt and appropriate corrective action.

When investigating allegations of harassment, the EEOC looks at the entire record: including the nature of the conduct, and the context in which the alleged incidents occurred. A determination of whether harassment is severe or pervasive enough to be illegal is made on a case-by-case basis.

via Harassment.

The Risk of An Insufficient Culture of Safety at CDC

anthrax200-4fb7972d257056ed1fd6aee68b38e0249028755f-s6-c30Government watchdogs have warned for years about weaknesses in federal labs dealing with dangerous bugs. The CDC’s own report on the June incident details four other times that pathogens inappropriately left high-security labs since 2006, including an earlier case involving anthrax. While investigating the latest mishap, CDC Director Tom Frieden also discovered that a contagious strain of avian flu was unintentionally shipped to a lower security Department of Agriculture lab in March.

“What we’re seeing is a pattern that we missed, and the pattern is an insufficient culture of safety,”

via CDC’s Tom Frieden Says Agency Culture Contributed to Anthrax Lapse – Businessweek.

One Reason Businesses Fail – NO MARGIN FOR ERROR


One  reason businesses fail is simply that they sail too close to the wind. All they need is a little bit of bad luck – a tough six months, a key client who pulls their account, a senior staff member who leaves for a rival firm, and they find that they simply don’t have enough cash to survive.

Too often businesses have fabulous sales, but just didn’t have enough cash in reserve. The result? They go under.

Warren Buffett likes to call this ‘Margin Of Safety’. When he invests in a business he makes sure the deal makes sense even if the company performs well below expectations. he doesn’t just depend on things going right, he builds in the chance that things will go very wrong.

We all need to do the same.

via Why Businesses Fail..

Benefits of Lean Safety Accident Investigations

For centuries, the Japanese have promoted a philosophy of continuous improvement to all aspects of life, known as “kaizen.” In recent decades, American business leaders have started to recognize the impact kaizen has had on Japanese business competitiveness, and countless managers have adopted aspects of these techniques to improve their business processes. Now these principles can be used in workplace accident investigation asking five questions to get to the root cause instead of the traditional one question.

Here’s an example of how this works:

An individual was using a tape machine that automatically tapes around corners of boxes and the mechanism was
stuck in the up position. The worker pushed it down and the blade that cuts the tape came up and just barely cut the end of the worker’s finger.

The individual’s supervisor wrote up the incident report and said the root cause was the employee failed to follow lockout-tagout procedures. A lot of people would stop there because the individual agreed that he failed to follow the lockout-tagout procedure.

However, as a lean thinker, you might think that’s the root cause, but why did the worker push down that mechanism? Because it hung up. Well, why did the machine get stuck? Because either the air pressure wasn’t set right or it malfunctioned. Well, why was the air pressure not set right? Because we’re not sure what it was supposed to be set at. Some think it’s supposed to be 50 psi and others say 100 psi.

So the root cause is really that the machine hung up and people didn’t understand how to set it correctly. Because of that, we were able to assign the individual to work with maintenance to look into the manual to determine what the setting was supposed to be. Then they tested equipment to make sure that it worked correctly when it was set at the correct setting. That individual was asked to talk to their team and others in the plant that had the same equipment to ensure they understood the correct setting.

Those opportunities to improve safety would have been missed if you stopped at “The individual didn’t follow the lockout-tagout procedure.” By asking why five times — which is a lean tool — you’ll get to the real root cause so that you can improve the process rather than just focus on the person. The process is generally the problem, not the person. I fully understand that they didn’t follow lockout-tagout procedure, and I accept that, but when using lean, you have to go beyond that to get to the things you can improve.

Machine Safety

machine-guard-warning--signMachines can assist in improving production efficiency in the workplace. However these machines have moving parts, sharp edges, and hot surfaces with the potential to cause severe workplace injuries such as crushed fingers or hands, amputations, burns, or blindness. Safeguards are essential for protecting workers from these preventable injuries. Any machine part, function, or process that might cause injury must be safeguarded. When the operation of a machine may result in a contact injury to the operator or others in the vicinity, the hazards must be eliminated or controlled.

via CDC – Machine Safety – NIOSH Workplace Safety and Health Topic.

Chronic Conditions and Aging

warehouse-workerArthritis and hypertension are the two most common health conditions affecting older workers, impacting 47% and 44%, respectively, of workers over the age of 55. An even greater proportion of workers (more than 75%) are estimated to have at least one chronic health condition that requires management. Diabetes is perhaps the most costly of these; one study found that 1/3 of all Medicare spending goes towards management of diabetes. The frequency of these conditions and others in older adults has important implications for workers can physically perform their duties, but also when. Higher morbidity means more absenteeism when an employee feels sick and more presenteeism when an employee is ill but shows up to work regardless. However, individual health risk factors are a stronger influence on future healthcare associated costs than advancing age alone. In comparing young workers with “high risk” of chronic disease (5 or more risk factors) to older workers with few or no risk factors, the younger workers had significantly higher medical costs associated despite the disparity in the age groups: 19-34 year olds, versus older workers aged 65-74.

via CDC – Healthy Aging – NIOSH Workplace Safety and Health Topic.

Powered Industrial Trucks Safety

Forklift Safety_DVDPowered industrial trucks, commonly called forklifts or lift trucks, are used in many industries, primarily to move materials. They can be used to move, raise, lower, or remove large objects or a number of smaller objects on pallets or in boxes, crates, or other containers.

The hazards commonly associated with powered industrial trucks vary depending on the vehicle type and the workplace where the truck is used. Each type of truck presents different operating hazards. For example, a sit-down, counterbalanced high lift rider truck is more likely than a motorized hand truck to be involved in a falling load accident, because the sit-down rider truck can lift a load much higher than a hand truck. Workplace conditions also present different hazards. For example, retail establishments often face greater challenges than other worksites in maintaining pedestrian safety.

The best way to protect employees from injury also depends on the type of truck operated and worksite where it is being used.

via Powered Industrial Trucks eTool.

Exposure to Bloodborne Infectious Diseases

bloodborne-pathogenExposures to blood and other body fluids occur across a wide variety of occupations. Health care workers, emergency response and public safety personnel, and other workers can be exposed to blood through needlestick and other sharps injuries, mucous membrane, and skin exposures. The pathogens of primary concern are the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), hepatitis B virus (HBV), and hepatitis C virus (HCV). Workers and employers are urged to take advantage of available engineering controls and work practices to prevent exposure to blood and other body fluids.

via CDC – Bloodborne Infectious Diseases – HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis B Virus, and Hepatitis C Virus – NIOSH Workplace Safety and Health Topic.