Overexposure to Computer Screen and Phones

We are living in a digital world now more than ever. Spending hours watching TV, books transformed into e-books, even abandoning debit cards and paying directly with our phones; digital devices are becoming more essential in our everyday lives. Everything around us, as a result, continues to get faster, smarter and overwhelmingly digital.

We have all the information we would ever need right at our fingertips. Constantly using our phones to mindlessly scroll on social media, texting, researching, also many of us have jobs that require us to stare at a computer screen hours at a time. According to the American Optometric Association (AOA), 58 percent of adults have experienced digital eye strain or vision problems. Digital eye strain is the temporary discomfort that follows two or more hours of digital device use which as a result causes the eyes to work harder to focus on the small pixelated images that technology holds.

Symptoms associated with digital eye strain include:

  • headaches
  • dry eyes
  • blurred vision
  • eye discomfort
  • neck and shoulder pain.

In fact, the average U.S. workers spend seven hours a day on a computer, either in the office or working from home The mere use of digital devices is not only what affects our vision but also the way we use them. The American Optometric Association (AOA) recognizes the need to address this issue stating that, “as more people spend their days at work on a computer and their free time on handheld devices, doctors of optometry seeing more patients who are experiencing digital eye strain,” said Steven A.  Loomis, O.D., president of AOA.  Furthermore provided five simple steps that can relieve the problem:

  • Follow the 20-20-20 rule: Take a 20-second break, every 20 minutes and view something 20 feet away.
  • Keep a distance: The AOA recommends sitting a comfortable distance from the computer monitor where you can easily read all text with your head and torso in an upright posture and you’re back supported by your chair. Generally, the preferred viewing distance is between 20 and 28 inches from the eye to the front surface of the screen.
  • View from a different angle: Ideally, the computer screen should be 15 to 20 degrees, or about 4 to 5 inches, below eye level as measured from the center of the screen.
  • Decrease glare: While there is no way to completely minimize glare from light sources, consider using a glare filter. These filters decrease the amount of light reflected from the screen.
  • Blink often: Minimize your chances of developing dry eyes when using a computer by making an effort to blink frequently

Are Masks or Respirators Really Effective or Necessary?

A question many are asking as news about coronavirus continuous to circulate.

It is important to understand the differences between these two types of protective equipment. Since there is limited historical information on the effectiveness of surgical masks and respirators for the control of influenza during any previous pandemics, the effectiveness of surgical masks and respirators has been inferred on the basis of the mode of influenza transmission, particle size, and professional judgment.

The purpose of face masks is to protect the user from potential hazards or prevent an infectious person from contaminating someone else. However, during inhalation, a face mask does not fit tight enough to prevent inhalation of small airborne contaminants that are not visible to the human eye. The contaminated air can pass through gaps between the face and the surgical mask regardless of how tight fitting it is. It is, however, acting as a barrier to keep contaminated hands from nose and mouth also protects workers, such as healthcare professionals, from splashes or sprays of blood or bodily fluids.

A respirator is a device that protects you from inhaling dangerous substances, such as hazardous fumes, chemicals, and gases including dust and airborne microorganisms. Depending on the type of respirator, testing and adjusting are required to provide a tight seal. Training is important in regard to the use of respirators because they are meant for industrial settings. In addition, respirators must be put and taken off in an area outside the contaminated area to avoid hazardous gases from entering the respirator.

Respiratory protection is effective only if:
the correct respirator is used,
it’s available when you need it,
you know when and how to put it on and take it off, and
you have stored it and kept it in working order in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions

Visit osha.gov and cdc.gov for a further in-depth understanding of the differences between masks and respirators.

At Nova Medical Centers we specialize in occupational health. From our friendly staff to our superb services, we tailor our care to every single patient. Our clients speak highly of our speedy recovery, short wait times and friendly staff. Click here to read testimonials on our loyal clients and their experience with NOVA medical centers.

New FMCSA Drug & Alcohol Clearinghouse Operational January 6

The new Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) Commercial Driver’s License Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse will be operational as of January 6, 2020.   The Clearinghouse is a secure online database that will give employers, the FMCSA, State Driver Licensing Agencies, and State law enforcement personnel real-time information about commercial driver’s license (CDL) holders’ drug and alcohol program violations.

Beginning January 6, 2020, employers, or their designated consortium/third party administrators (C/TPAs), will be required to conduct queries to determine whether their current and prospective employees are prohibited from performing in safety-sensitive job positions, such as operating commercial motor vehicles, due to unresolved drug and alcohol program violations.

Employers are responsible for reporting their employee DOT drug testing results to the Clearinghouse, either directly or through a C/TPA.  

Nova Medical Centers is not a C/TPA and does not report testing results to the Clearinghouse.

General DOT Query FAQs

When are employers required to query the DOT Clearinghouse?
Employers are required to make a pre-employment query for each driver in the Clearinghouse and at least one query each year for each driver during employment. The type of query required is further described in the table below.

Is there a reason to query the Clearinghouse more than as required?
Some drivers are employed by more than one carrier. If another employer your driver works for reports a violation to the Clearinghouse, you will not want to wait until their annual query to obtain this information, or you may be liable for allowing a driver to operate in a safety-sensitive position despite his/her ineligibility to do so.

What information will employers need to query specific drivers in the Clearinghouse?
Employers will need to have the driver’s CDL number and state proof of issuance to query the driver’s Clearinghouse record.

Can the employer query multiple drivers at once with batch uploads?
Yes. The employer or the C/TPA will upload a tab-delimited file containing the following information for each driver that will be queried:

  • Last Name
  • First Name
  • Date of Birth
  • CDL
  • Country
  • State
  • A Number 1-4 Representing Query Type: 1) Limited; 2)  Full; 3) Pre-employment; 4) Limited with Automatic Consent Request.

Automatic Consent Request means that, if a limited query returns that the driver has violation information in his/her Clearinghouse record, the Clearinghouse will automatically submit a request from your employer to that driver for his/her consent to a full query.

Do employers still need to query past employers for drug and alcohol violations occurring in the three years before January 6, 2020?

Yes. Only violations occurring after January 6, 2020, will be available in the Clearinghouse, so employers will need to conduct traditional verifications with their drivers’ past DOT-regulated employers in addition to querying the Clearinghouse until January 2023.

What is the cost charged by the FMCSA for queries?
Employers will be charged a fee by the FMCSA for full and limited queries of $1.25 per query (plus any services costs incurred by using a C/TPA). Queries must be purchased in batches, and these will never expire.

Unlimited packages are also available for high-volume employers. Unlimited packages cost $24,000 and must be renewed annually.

Employers must purchase queries directly from the Clearinghouse, as C/TPAs are unable to purchase queries for their customers.

Can drivers dispute information on their Clearinghouse records?
Disputes will be handled by the FMCSA, which will notify drivers of its decision within 14 days if the record in question is prohibiting the driver from performing safety-sensitive job functions or within 45 days if it is not.

FMCSA will notify any employers that have viewed a record that has been changed after the outcome of their review.

When must employers make limited vs. full queries?
Limited Queries
Must conduct a limited or full query at least once every year for all drivers.

Full Queries
An employer must conduct a pre-employment query for a prospective driver in the Clearinghouse prior to hiring the driver for a position requiring him or her to perform safety-sensitive functions, such as operating a commercial motor vehicle (CMV).

Must conduct a full query if a limited query returns any results.

What information will employers receive?
Limited Queries
Notification about whether the driver’s Clearinghouse record has any information about resolved or unresolved drug and alcohol program violations

It does not provide specific information about violations.

Full Queries
Detailed information about any drug and alcohol program violations in a driver’s Clearinghouse record.

Next Steps

To find out more information about the Clearinghouse or to register, please visit https://clearinghouse.fmcsa.dot.gov/

If you have any questions, please fill out a contact form with the subject “Questions about the new Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse” or call us toll-free at 1-866-480-1310.

Practicing Good Hygiene in Your Work Environment

Maintaining a clean and safe workplace can lead to a more productive environment for everyone. The last thing employees or guests want to question is if the facility is clean or feeling too uncomfortable to be present.

Hygiene Tips for Work

  • Wash hands with soap in between meeting clients and patients. Wash hands after using the bathroom facilities, before and after preparing food or drinks. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends a minimum of 20 seconds for cleansing your hands to ensure germs are significantly removed.
  • When coughing, yawing, or sneezing cover your mouth and nose with a Kleenex or turn into the inside of your arm. This way you are keeping germs to yourself instead of spreading them through the air or your hands.
  • Wipes down workspace at best once daily; this includes the mouse, keyboard, phones, and surface areas.
  • Keep hand sanitizer at your desk. For other reasons, you are not always able to access soap and water; CDC advocates using hand sanitizers with at least 60% alcohol.
  • Fresh breath. Since you are not at home to brush your teeth after meals, carry gum or travel size mouth wash with you.
  • Wash work clothes before wearing them again to get rid of any germs or dirt, even if it’s not visible. The National Health Service UK acknowledges clothes as being one of the most common ways germs are spread. Bacteria naturally come from our own body then onto our clothes which can easily spread to others from small actions such as brushing against an object, sitting close or near a coworker.
  • Practice keeping public shared areas clean and sanitary after each use—bathrooms, breakrooms, conference rooms.
  • Report any symptoms or illness to your employer.

Many companies have their own work hygiene policies for employees to abide by, but it is always good to refresh good practice tips every so often. You may consider putting up reminders in public areas such as the bathrooms, break rooms or even coordinate mini staff meetings. By positively reinforcing good hygiene, you can mold employees into developing thoughtless cleanly habits.

A Bug Proof Guide Before the Winter

With fall here and the cool weather is coming! That may mean no more worries about outside bugs, but make sure they are not getting warm and cozy in your home.

Insects tend to migrate to temporary shelters, where they can sustain life. Often times, this can be in spaces in your home. Terminex informs us that bugs such as cockroaches, ants, spiders, and mosquitoes cannot withstand extremely cold temperatures given that their bodies are unable to produce heat. This could be the answer to why your pest control calls are more frequent during the fall/winter season. To avoid a new roomie, there are effective approaches to prevent or illuminate this issue.

  1. Bug proof your home before they invade. Go around your home and seal any cracks in the walls, doors, and windows. Get rid of old boxes, clothes, or food that might attract a cozy home for pests. It might be a good idea to spray outside your home and trim nearby trees or bushes.
  2. Research the bugs you notice, so you can have a good idea of why they are coming and how to wipe them out quickly. Not all bugs come for the same reason. According to U.S. News, most bugs intrude for shelter, food, or simply by accident. Once indoors, some may stay for a different reason. U.S. News gives the examples of the brown recluse spider; these critters prefer the dark and stay in closed spaces such as boxes or under papers. The solution to limit the time spent with these spiders would be to practice picking up things off the floor and putting them away.
  3. You should clean frequently. Bugs love mess for their ideal home. Try to sweep, wipe down surfaces regularly, and keep trash thrown out or sealed in bins. Avoid boxes in your home and clothes on the floor or pest may consider the darkness and warmth as shelter.
  4. Keep food put up and stored in sealed areas. Pest USA describes food “as an open invitation” for bugs in your home, so avoid providing a buffet-style feast. As stated in the ThoughCo. Article,” Scientists believe that insects use chemical smell and taste cues…” These cues are sensed by their antennas as a way to reach food or other insects. By eliminating food odors, you are able to limit a source to a possible infestation.
  5. Keep areas in your home dry. Water is one of the three essential elements bugs need to survive.  Pestworld.org suggests that a kitchen or even a bathroom is the “ideal nesting sites for rodents.” As the air outside becomes cooler and dryer, bugs are attracted to pleasant moisture areas such as faucets, showers, kitchen cabinets or near cooking appliances.
  6. Inform your landlord or local pest control of the unbearable problem in your home. Even after all the research and adjustments, some bugs just require a little more push from a professional exterminator. According to peststrategies.com, like mice, bugs such as cockroaches are known to carry unknown diseases. Even if you notice just one, it is best to take the necessary precautions to protect you and your family’s health.

You are the bigger person in this situation, literally. So, don’t let a few bugs ruin your winter plans. Everything and one has their own place in the world and your home for bugs should not be one of them. It is common for bugs to appear in your home, but whether they decide to stay and reproduce is up to you. The key is identifying and removing the source of the problem in the most efficient and quickest way possible.

Mosquitoes

You hear the silent buzz. You feel the urge to itch, and as you rub the itch, you feel another spot to itch. It’s annoying, aggravating, and frustrating. If you can infer of what I’m talking about, then you too know that all mosquitoes should be destroyed. Well, that’s physically impossible, but there are some ways to combat these pestering insects.

However, before we get to that, mosquitoes are important for our ecosystem and play a big part in our daily lives. Gizmodo points out “many other insects and small fish feed on them and the loss of that food source would cause their numbers to decline as well. Anything that feeds on them, such as game fish, raptorial birds, etc. would in turn suffer.” In short, mosquitoes feed us. However, according to national geographic “mosquito-borne disease causes millions of deaths worldwide every year with a disproportionate effect on children and the elderly in developing countries.” They must be minimized to all humans, and here’s how.

Mosquito spray – Invest in a good mosquito spray. This will create a barrier around your body that will force mosquitoes to stay away. The better the spray, the likelihood of not getting your blood sucked increases.

Mosquito repellant – Try surrounding the areas where you spend time outside with mosquito repellant. This will create a perimeter blocking mosquitoes from entering. The best type of repellent you want to look for is anything that contains the chemical N,N-diethyl-3-methylbenzamide (DEET). Mosquito.org states that DEET “remains the standard by which all other repellents are judged.”

Natural repellant – There are certain plants you can plant outside your house that acts as a repellent from mosquitoes. These plants include citronella, basil, and lemongrass. You can fill up your garden or backyard with pretty plants and kill pest at the same time.

Water – Mosquitoes’ love water, so try moving any items that contain water. This includes flowerpots, containers, and hoses. This will send mosquitoes to a different direction rather than yourself.

Window screens – Place window screens to prevent mosquitoes from getting inside your home. Mosquitoes are tricky and hard to see; installing a window screen will stop any small bugs from entering without asking.

Bed net – The most annoying time a mosquito can pierce you is at night. A bed net that would hang over your bed is a great way to block any mosquito from entering and disturbing your sleep.

Stay inside during dusk – Mosquitoes are everywhere but are most active during the nighttime. If possible, try to stay inside during those times. However, it’s not as easy as it sounds, but it’s a good thing you have repellent and spray to give you extra protection while you’re outside.

Mosquitoes are pestering but there are ways to make them less annoying. Make sure to be cautious when going outside and take appropriate actions when dealing with mosquitoes.

Preventing a House Fire

Between 2012 and 2016, fire incidents have caused 11,670 injuries and 2,560 deaths according to NFPA. Fire incident are very wide spread and can ignite if you’re not aware of your surroundings. Here are some steps you should consider to prevent fire incidents and how to carefully escape during a fire emergency.

  • Be aware of your surroundings – Every time you step foot into another room, you should always make sure that everything is in place, turned off, and candles are blown. One area you should always keep an eye on is the kitchen. Cooking is one of the leading causes for a home fire. Always make sure the stove is off, equipment is unplugged, and kitchen is clean.
  • Turn Off/Unplug electrical appliances – Before leaving the household, it should be second hand nature to check to see if there are any unplugged appliances. For example if an iron was accidentally left on, it could burn or cause an object to catch on fire. Also, if some appliances are left connected for too long, it could cause a power surge outburst. Always make sure to unplug and turn off ant appliances before you leave.
  • Watch your kids – Never leave your child unattended. That should be common sense but at least 300 people are killed per year due to young children playing with fire according to American Red Cross. A great way to prevent your child from a starting a fire is to take them to your local fire department. It’s a fascinating opportunity to allow your child to greet and learn from the firefighters about fire safety.
  • Lock up the pets – Animals left unattended could not ruin your couches, but could lead to a loss of your home. Every year, almost 1,000 houses are burnt down due to pet activity. Dogs and cats are prone to chewing electrical cords, knocking down candles, or electrical appliances. In order to prevent this from happening to you, buy a kennel or gate to keep your pet in one place until you get home.
  • Candle care – According the NFPA, an estimated 8,200 homes were caught on fire by candles per year. Majority of candle fires occur in December between midnight and 6:00 am. Candles may give off a fresh aroma for your home, but if left unattended can give your house a fragrance of burnt wood. A substitute from candles could be a flameless candle as they use batteries and contain no wax, wick, or oil. However, before leaving the house, make sure to extinguish your candles.
  • Fire alarms – It’s very important to check your fire alarm every six months and replacing the batteries frequently. If you were to purchase a new home, you should consider checking the condition, date, and battery life of the fire alarm. If you ever plan to upgrade from your old fire alarm to an advanced version. This is why it’s beneficial: 1) Battery life is significantly longer than older generations. 2) Fewer false alarms would occur. 3) An increase range for detection of smoke. 4) It will last for 10 years or more.
  • Contact the fire department – When in doubt of an emergency, you can always call your local fire department. You should never take on a fire head on as you could spread the fire and harm yourself or others. You can also visit your local fire stations website to learn more on how to prevent and combat fire.
  • Invest in a fire extinguisher – Once you’ve handled the smoke alarm, you should look into purchasing a fire extinguisher. It’s always best to avoid taking on a fire head on, but there are some cases to when you have no options but to deal with it yourself. A fire extinguisher is perfect for small fires and is a great substitute when you have no water nearby or hitting the fire with a rag. You can research to see which fire extinguisher is best suited for you and your home as some can cost as little as $10 or high as $50.

 

 

 

Protecting your house from a fire is no small task and you should always take serious consideration of the condition of your house before you leave. If you’re not observant of your home, then your wallet and living situation could turn into a tragedy in a blink of an eye.

 

Written by Julien Gonzalez

The Pros and Cons of Energy Drinks

While you’re indulging in your cold energy drink, do you really know the contents that are going into your body? Do you believe that the only thing energy drinks do is give you a boost in energy? According to Statista “about 47 percent of respondents indicated to consume energy drinks several times per week.” and it’s unknown if consuming energy drinks is beneficial or deficient. Here are some pros and cons to consider when digesting an energy drink.

PROS –

Gives a boost in energy Two key ingredients in energy drinks are sugar and caffeine. The combination of these supplements is what charges your mind and body to stay awake and energized to combat a long day. When you’re energized, you’re able to effectively complete your task.

Can improve your mood and attitude Once you’re high on energy, you’ll feel like you’ll be able to take on anything. Eliminating the groggy and temperamental mood will lead to constructive relationships among your peers and family.

Convenient Purchasing energy drinks is accessible at almost any retail store. They are also affordable with prices ranging from $1 to $5 depending on the brand.

Boost performance for workouts – Energy drinks have a high source of vitamin B, which is used to give you energy. Gulping down an energy drink before a workout can help with your performance and endurance.

Zero calorie option – A healthier option is available as its purpose is to limit weight gain and sugar consumption while having the same effect with those with sugar and calories.

CONS –

Cardiovascular problems – One of the most important factors you should keep in mind when consuming an energy drink would be the effect it could have on your heart. According to the Journal of the American Heart Association “It could actually be playing some nasty tricks on our hearts, leading to emergency room visits and even death.” If you’re not careful, excessively gulping energy drinks can lead to dangerous consequences.

High on sugar – one serving of an energy drink contains about 25 g – 39 g of sugar. Large quantity of sugar consumption can lead to the following: Jitters sleep disorders, dental problems, obesity and diabetes.

Weight gain – Energy drinks can be useful for the gym due to high amounts vitamin B, but it can also have the opposite effect if you just drink and lay on the couch. The high amounts of sugar and calories can sneak up on your body and develop unwanted weight gain if you’re not careful.

Addictive – Energy drinks can become very addictive, especially for children. Due to a high sugar intake, teens are more prone to latch on the addictive trait which could potentially become a gateway for other substances.

There are both positive and negatives when gulping an energy drink. Although, it’s up to on how you choose to drink. If you are a casual consumer, then these health effects shouldn’t be much of an issue. However, if you choose to abuse the consumption of energy drinks, then it could spell danger.

 

Written by Julien Gonzalez

Sunscreen

Summer is in full swing. While enjoying time outdoors with your family and friends, it’s easy to get caught up in all the fun and relaxation, and forget about protecting your skin against the sun.

Sunscreens help shield your skin from the sun’s dangerous ultraviolet (UV) rays Some work by scattering the light, reflecting it way from your body, and others absorb UV rays before they can even reach your skin. Whether the sun is out or it’s cloudy outside, you’ll still need to apply sunscreen to protect your skin from damage. While sunscreen should be used every day of the year, it’s even more important during summer – the days are longer, the sun is stronger, and more time is spent outdoors.

Sun protection factor (SPF) is a number that indicates how much protection a product offers against UVB light. A product with a higher SPF number will offer greater protection. When choosing a sunscreen, make sure the label says:

  • Broad spectrum. A broad spectrum sunscreen protects against UVA and UVB rays, which are different types of UV rays that can damage your skin.
  • SPF 30 or higher. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends that you select a sunscreen with an SPF rating of 30 or higher, especially for extended stays outdoors. A sunscreen with an SPF of 30 will block out 97% of the sun’s UVB rays.
  • When going in and out of the sun on a daily basis, your skin gets a lot of exposure to UV rays. Using a sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15 on a daily basis will help protect you, only if you won’t be in the sun for long time.

Here are the proper ways to use sunscreen to protect your skin.

  • Make sure to apply sunscreen at 30 minutes before you go outside.
  • Use sunscreen on all areas that will be exposed to the sun. That includes your face, ears, hands, arms, and chest area.
  • Wear a wide brimmed hat (and sunglasses) that covers your face.
  • Reapply sunscreen every two hours, especially after you’ve been in the water or if you have been sweating a lot.
  • Apply water-resistant sunscreen if you will be around water or swimming. Water resistant sunscreens can last for up to 80 minutes in the water, and some are also sweat resistant.
  • Use sunscreen even when it’s cloudy. UV light can pass through clouds, too.
  • Check the expiration date, since sunscreen becomes less effective over time. Never, under any circumstance, should you use expired sunscreen – it will not give you the protection that you need.

Consider your skin type and allergies when you are purchasing sunscreen. If you are experiencing rashes from sunscreen, it’s important to try to figure out why. Instead of not using sunscreen at all, find one that doesn’t result in you having an allergic reaction. The amount of time it takes for an allergic reaction to show depends on the person – it can happen within minutes or it can take a few days. If you are still having allergic reactions to sunscreen, it’s important to speak with your doctor. They will be able to tell you the proper ones that you should use.

Try to avoid being out in the sun during the day. The sun’s rays are at their strongest between 10 am and 4 pm. A combination of shade, proper clothing, and using sunscreen year-round will help to protect your skin from the sun.

Written by Dami Falade

 

Staying Hydrated

Water is vital for most processes your body goes through daily. When you drink water, you replenish your body and flush out toxins. Staying hydrated is key to having a healthy and functioning body – without enough water, your body and its organs aren’t able to function properly. If staying hydrated is difficult for you, here are some things that can help.

  • Eat foods that have a high content of water. Some fruits and vegetables that have a high content of water include watermelon, strawberries, cantaloupe, cucumber, and celery – 90 percent, to be exact. Eating a lot of fruits and vegetables is a great way to help you maintain your water intake.
  • If you don’t like the taste of water, add a natural flavor to it. You can add fruits such as lemon, watermelon, cucumbers, or oranges.
  • Drink water first thing in the morning. Adding one glass or bottle of water – approximately 16 ounces – to your morning routine will help increase your metabolism, fill you up, and flush out toxins.
  • Carry water on you at all times. If you need to, buy a reusable water bottle to carry with you and be sure to refill it regularly.
  • Drink water before you get thirsty. Feeling thirsty indicates that you’re already dehydrated. Have a sip before and in between meals.
  • If you’re someone who regularly has a busy or hectic day, set an alarm on your phone that will remind you to drink water at least once an hour. Instead of going for a coffee or tea break, drink water instead.
  • Drink water before, during, and after a workout. When you sweat during exercise, that’s fluid leaving your body, and you need to replenish it.
  • Drink water at a restaurant before you order. This will fill you up and keep you from overeating.

Another thing to keep in mind is that sweetened/caffeinated or even alcoholic beverages don’t replace water. If it’s difficult for you to cut out those drinks altogether, try to substitute one of those drinks once a day.

According to the Institute of Medicine, the recommended daily amount of water intake for men and women vary – women need 11 cups, or 91 fluid ounces, and men need 15 cups, or 125 fluid ounces. However, it’s always important to seek proper advice from your doctor.

 

Written by Dami Falade