Sealing Your Home

Air sealing is a seal that prevents the passage of air or vapor. Creating an air seal with foam insulation can work to block air movement both in and out of your home. The air leakage you may be experiencing can account for about 30% of your home’s heating and cooling costs.

Besides the financial aspect, sealing your home against air leakage is a simple way you can increase your comfort and simultaneously reduce carbon emissions by up to 25%. Air usually leaks through unsealed or poorly sealed doors and windows, unsealed vents, skylights, and exhaust fans, poorly fitted or shrunken floorboards, and gaps in or around ceiling insulation.

Air leaks also damage the structure of your house. The air that enters through the tiny gaps around your house can carry moisture, and this moisture can damage your home’s foundation. If you don’t already have the correct barrier to protect from outside vapor, the moisture than is absorbed can also result in the development of mold, water damage, and pest infestations.

Air sealing will especially help those who suffer from allergies or asthma, which is directly linked to pollutants and other allergens that are found in indoor air. Besides mold and pesticides, pollen and dust are other irritants that can irritate the airways.

Caulking and weather-stripping are two of the most common ways to air seal your home.

  • Weather-stripping is the process of sealing openings around doors and windows to prevent air from entering and escaping. Foam, vinyl, and tape are some of the material that helps to block air flow.
  • Caulking is a multipurpose material that seals the cracks created by caps, cracks, and joints. Caulk and seal air leaks where plumbing or electrical wiring comes through walls, floors, and ceilings.

Air that leaks out of your home is replaced by air that comes in from the outside, which creates unnecessary drafts within your home. The most effective solution would be to start by sealing the largest and most obvious leaks, and then moving on to the cracks that are more significant. When these are sealed, smaller leaks become more prominent. Larger leaks on the roof may be more difficult to locate and seal, so professional advice may be necessary.

You will notice a decrease in energy consumption and an overall improved air quality and be at ease knowing that your home is protected against mold and other air leak related damages. Air sealing will keep your home and its occupants healthy.

 

Written by Dami Falade

Staying Put During a Disaster: How to Shelter in Place

Choosing to take shelter during a disaster is a necessary step for survival. Shelter-in-place is a precautionary measure and one of the instructions you may be given in an emergency, whether it’s a severe weather alert, or a chemical, biological, or radiological contamination that may have been released into the atmosphere.

During some disasters, evacuating your home or business may put you at greater risk than staying put. There may be some situations when it’s simply best to stay where you are, whether you are at home, at work, or somewhere else. To effectively shelter, you should first consider the hazard, and then choose an area in your home or building that will protect you.

The safest place to seek shelter and instructions will vary depending on location.

At home:

  • Close and lock all windows and doors.
  • Go to an interior room without windows that are above the ground floor level. In case of a chemical threat, an above-ground level room is best because some chemicals are heavier than air, and may leak into the basement even if the windows are closed.
  • Turn off electric fans and heating/air conditioning systems.
  • Make sure your vents and fireplace flue are closed.
  • Retrieve your disaster supplies kit.
  • Bring your family and pets inside. Be sure that you have additional food and water supplies for your pets, and make arrangements for them to use the restroom inside your room.

At work:

  • Close the business.
  • Bring everyone inside. Shut and lock the doors.
  • Turn on call-forwarding or alternative answering phone systems. If the business has a voicemail, change the recording so that it indicates that the business is closed.
  • If there are any clients, visitors, or customers in the building, encourage them to stay inside and give them directions of the shelter-in-place procedures.
  • Write down the names of every person in the room. Call your business’ designated emergency contact and let them know who everyone in the room is, and their relationship to the business (whether it be an employee, visitor, customer, or client).
  • Gather essential disaster supplies – nonperishable food, bottled water, battery-powered radios, flashlights, batteries, plastic garbage bags, etc.
  • If there is a danger of explosion, close the window, shades, blinds, and/or curtains.
  • Keep listening to the radio or TV until you are told all is clear or you are told to evacuate.

Finding out what can happen is the first step to being prepared. You should develop a disaster plan within your home or workplace. Consider practicing drills so that in case of an emergency, you know exactly what to do.  You should also have an emergency package – this should include an adequate water supply (at least three days’ worth), batteries, flashlight, first-aid kit, scissors, duct tape, paper towels, non-perishable food, a battery operated radio, and cell phone chargers.

During a shelter-in-place alert, no one is to leave the area until you are given the “all clear” from authorities. Shelter-in-place can last a few hours or even longer. It’s important to try to stay calm and be patient. Local authorities may not be immediately available to provide information about what is happening and what you need to do. However, you should still watch TV, listen to the radio, and check the internet for news and updates.

 

Written by Dami Falade

Preventing Hearing Loss and Damage

Every day, we hear normal sounds such as car horns and household appliances, but when are loud noises too much? Sounds can be harmful when they are too loud, even if it’s for a short period of time. Years of continued exposure to loud sounds can cause hearing loss or damage. Noise may damage hair cells, membranes, nerves, or other parts of your ear. Noise can be damaging to your ears if you have to shout in order to be heard, your ears are ringing, or if you are having a hard time hearing for a couple of hours after the initial exposure.  Areas where hearing loss could occur could be from the workplace, such as shooting ranges or construction zones with loud machinery.

Exposure to loud noise can happen at any age, and hearing loss is a common, every day hazard – recreational activities such as concerts with loud music, or even events where balloons are popping can also cause significant hearing damage. Here are some tips on how you can prevent permanent damage to your ears.

  • Use hearing protectors such as earplugs and/or earmuffs.
  • Don’t stick anything into your ear canal. If you do need to use cotton swabs to clean your ears, do it slowly and carefully. If the cotton swab or other device is stuck too far into your ear canal, it can create an uncomfortable build-up of wax by pushing the waste further into your ear canal, and can also damage your hearing.
  • The closer you are to the sound, the louder it gets. If you are not the person who is using the loud device, try to move away from the noise, if possible.
  • Keep the loud device away from small children. If it must be used in their presence, protect their ears.
  • If you are not able to move away from the noise, try to cover your ears with your hands.
  • When you are listening to music, whether it is in your car or even using headphones, volume it down. Listening to music at the highest capacity can cause long-term damage to your ears as well.

Hearing damage or loss can be prevented in some cases. Make sure to seek medical attention to get your ears checked if you suspect that you are suffering from hearing loss.

 

Written by Dami Falade

The Importance of Sleep

According to the National Sleep Foundation, sleep is crucial for a person’s health and wellbeing. However, millions of people are not getting enough sleep and suffer the consequences of that.  A study conducted by the National Sleep Foundation has found that 40 million Americans suffer from over 70 different sleep disorders and 60% of adults have sleep problems a few nights a week. A lack of sleep on a regular basis can lead to continued health complications. Here are the factors that are impacted by sleep.

Overall productivity – Quality sleep enables your mind to be focused and stimulate creativity.

Weight – Researchers have found that people who sleep for less than 7 hours nightly are more at risk to be overweight or even obese. Being sleep deficient impacts the balance of the hormones that affect appetite. Leptin and ghrelin, the hormones that regulate appetite, are found to have been interrupted by lack of sleep.

Physical Health –

  • Sleep is your body’s way of fighting off infections. When there is a lack of sleep, your immune system is weakened, which makes you more vulnerable to illnesses.
  • While you are sleeping, your body restores the damage done by stress, ultraviolet rays and other harmful exposure, not to mention other traumas such as muscle injuries.
  • Your body goes into a state of stress when you are running low on slow. Bodily functions are put on high alert, which is where high blood pressure and stress hormones come into play. Stress hormones make you more at risk for heart-related conditions, cancer, and diabetes. High blood pressure increases the risk of strokes and heart attacks, and the added stress hormones make it more difficult to fall asleep.

Mental Health –

  • Along with your physical health, mental health is very important too in terms of sleep. When you don’t get enough sleep, your body enters a stressful state. A good night of sleep will make you feel more energized and alert.
  • During sleep, even though the body is at rest, your brain is processing your day, your memories, and your feelings. Deep sleep is a time for your brain to link things together, and getting better sleep will help you to process and remember things better.
  • Sleep can reduce your risk of depression by impacting many of the chemicals in your body, primarily serotonin. People who are lacking serotonin are more likely to suffer from depression. One way to combat this is to make sure you are sleeping 7 to 9 hours every night.

A good night of sleep each night is a major key to living a long and healthy life. Getting enough quality sleep each night has many benefits pertaining to physical and mental health.  It’s important to make sure that you are getting the rest that you need. Your body will thank you for it!

 

Written by Dami Falade

Crane Safety Tips

Cranes are essential for workers in construction, manufacturing, warehousing and other industries, but are highly more hazardous than any other tool.  Extensive training and following crane safety standards creates a better working environment for workers and anyone around the worksite. Below is a list of common crane hazards and preventative measures you can take to create a safer work area:

  • Being aware of electrical lines is critical when operating a crane. The metal in the crane is an excellent conductor and can cause a fatal electrocution if accidentally hit against electrical lines
  • Material lifted with a crane has the potential of falling off even after it has been secured Employees below crane should avoid working in the area and wear hard hats along with other appropriate PPE
  • Although cranes can lift an astounding amount of weight, it is important for crane operator to know the weight limit of each crane. Crane operators and loaders should also keep track of how much weight is being added or removed to avoid overloading
  • When cranes twist or move to get the load where it needs to go, it create pinch or crush points where someone could be seriously injured. It is important to be cautious of surroundings when moving a load to avoid accidental injury to those around
  • Crane operators should make sure area is cleared when dropping a load to avoid crushing objects or injuring someone. Some loads are heavy enough to crush vehicles so it is important to remember to never work under a crane load, even with PPE
  • Requiring workers to wear a hard hat at all times ensures they are safe if material falls from a crane load. You can’t predict when this will happen, but you can prepare for it.
  • Providing workers with eye protections prevents them from having temporary blindness caused by dust or debris
  • Hand protection keeps workers safe from pinches or being crushed

Using a crane is hazardous, but with crane safety implementation and proper training, workers are able to operate them with confidence and reduce the possibility of injury drastically.

At Nova Medical Centers we specialize in occupational health. We understand the importance of informing employers and employees of safety regulations.  We take pride in providing exceptional services to our patients and clients. Contact us for more information. Our friendly staff and team of experts are here to meet all your occupational health needs.

 

Written by Nayda Sanchez

Hurricane Cleanup Safety

Hurricane season is coming to an end, but areas impacted by heavy storms are beginning the process of rebuilding communities which starts with hurricane cleanup. Whether or not your area was affected by a hurricane this season, it is never a bad idea to stay informed about cleanup hazards. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has compiled a list of tips to ensure workers stay safe and healthy while cleaning up after natural disasters:

  • Use a wooden stick or pole to check flooded areas for pits and holes before entering
  • Conduct a preliminary worksite inspection to verify stability before entering a flooded or formerly flooded building
  • Do not touch downed power lines or any object or water that is in contact with such lines
  • Treat all power lines as energized
  • Beware of overhead and underground powerlines when clearing debris
  • Establish a plan for contacting medical personnel in the event of an emergency
  • Report any obvious hazards such as downed power lines, frayed electric wires, gas leaks or snakes to appropriate authorities
  • Always wear watertight boots with steel toe and insole gloves, long pants and safety glasses during cleanup operations
  • Clean, cool water and sun screen should be available for workers

Educating workers on hurricane cleanup safety allows them to work cautiously at the workplace or when providing assistance to their neighbors and communities. Staying informed about cleanup hazards reduces risk of injury for everyone involved.

Nova Medical Centers solely focuses on occupational health. We pride ourselves in providing exceptional services and helping our clients prioritize their health and safety above all else. Communicating up-to-date OSHA safety regulations and trends to employers and employees allows us to assists clients in creating a safer workplace environment. Contact Us  to learn more about any of our services. Our skilled and friendly staff members are ready to meet all your occupational health needs.

 

Written by Nayda Sanchez

Preventing Electrical Accidents in the Workplace

Working with electricity has become so customary that we don’t give much thought to how heavily we depend on a reliable source of electricity to perform daily job functions. Some employees like engineers and electricians work with electricity directly while others such as office workers and sales people work with electricity indirectly.  Electrical shock, electrocution, fires and explosions are all risks workers are exposed to day-to-day.  Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recognizes these hazards and has designed standards to protect employees from potential injuries. Below are a few electrical hazards prevention tips

  • Protection provided by insulation

Shocks, fires and short circuits could all be prevented by using insulators such as glass, mica, rubber, or plastic to coat metals and other conductors to reduce the flow of electrical current. Effective insulation must be suitable for the voltage used and other environmental factors like moisture, oil, gasoline, corrosive fumes or other substances that could cause the insulator to fail.

  • Guarding electric equipment

Guarding involves locating or enclosing electric equipment to make sure people don’t accidently come into contact with it. Ensuring only authorized employees qualified to work with electrical equipment has access to it is part of effective guarding.

  • Grounding

Grounding an electrical tool or system means to intentionally create a low-resistance path that connects to the earth which prevents the buildup of voltages that could cause an electrical accident. OSHA recommends using guarding as secondary protective measure to substantially reduce the risk of electrical hazards.

  • Circuit Protection

Circuit protection devices limit or stop the flow of current automatically in the event of ground fault, overload, or short circuit in the wiring system. Fuses, circuit breakers, ground-fault circuit interrupters, and arc-fault circuit interrupters are all examples of circuit protection devices.

Unintentionally ignoring electrical hazards can lead to serious bodily injuries. By taking proper precaution when dealing with tools or areas that have potential electrical hazards, you ensure that you create a safe and healthful environment for employees.

At Nova Medical Centers, we solely focus on occupational health. We pride ourselves in delivering exceptional services and helping our clients prioritize their health and safety above all else. We ensure clients are up-to-dated with OSHA regulations at our Nova Lunch and Learns . Contact us for more information about any of our services. Our skilled and friendly staff members are ready to meet all your occupational health needs.

Written by Nayda Sanchez

Hurricane Season is Not Over

According to National Weather Service’s Climate Prediction Center, hurricane season reaches its peak between August and October in both the Eastern Pacific Ocean and Atlantic Basin. You can’t rely on forecast to determine whether or not you should prepare for a hurricane. Let’s face it; Mother Nature is so unpredictable that not even experts can accurately predict her next move.  Staying prepared is the best route. Below are 3 tips to prepare for a hurricane at your workplace:

  1. Having an evacuation plan in place ensures workers can get to safety in case a hurricane affects area. A thorough evacuation plan should include:
  • Conditions that will activate the plan
  • Chain of command
  • Emergency functions and who will perform them
  • Specific evacuation procedures, including routes and exits
  • Procedures for accounting for personnel, customers and visitors
  • Equipment for personnel
  1. Prepare your employees

Having a plan is not enough. Participating in crisis drills where employees practice the evacuation plan better prepares your employees if a hurricane does occur. Constantly practicing and discussing your plan expresses the importance your company places on your employee’s safety.

  1. Test your emergency communication plans

Sending an email, a text alert or testing a public address system ensures you are able to provide critical information to employees if an emergency occurs.  Be sure to include identifiers such as “THIS IS A TEST” to avoid confusion.

Emergency Action Plans help communicate procedures during an emergency to all employees within an organization. Engagement and implementation of emergency plans assists in illuminating confusion during natural disasters. You may not be able to predict when a hurricane might strike, but you can control how you prepare for one.

Nova Medical Centers focuses solely on occupational health. We pride ourselves in providing exceptional services and helping our clients prioritize their health and safety above all else. Our Nova Lunch and Learns  are designed to communicate up-to-date safety regulations to employers and employees and are hosted at one of our facilities regularly. Topics include hurricane or natural disaster preparedness, preparing for an active shooter situation and more.  Contact Us  to learn more about our next event.

 

Written by Nayda Sanchez

Employment Drug Testing

Drug testing promotes positive work culture

 According to a survey conducted by the Society of Human Resources, 57% of employers implement drug testing to determine if employees or job applicants are using drugs. Employers overlook drug testing because it’s not required by the state they are operating in, it’s too costly or they believe it’s not a viable investment. However, the benefits can be impactful.  Listed below are significant benefits of drug testing:

  • Creating a drug-free environment builds a safe workplace. Performing job functions while under the influence makes it more dangerous for employees and their colleagues. Using heavy equipment or driving a truck requires an employee to be alert; being under the influence will increase the likelihood of injury.
  • Drug screenings in companies has led to an increase of productivity within their employees. Drug problems can cause an individual to lose focus of their responsibilities and their commitment to their employer. Being absent and lack of punctuality are linked to drug use. Eliminating drugs from the equation helps shape a goal-oriented, productive atmosphere.
  • Employers may be eligible for discounts on workers compensation insurance for maintaining a drug-free work place by drug testing workers
  • Drug testing encourages a healthier lifestyle not only at the workplace, but also in employee’s personal lives.

Drug testing can lead to impactful company cultural changes. It is a representation of the restriction of drug use at the workplace and a great way to showcase company culture even before an employee is hired.  Reliable colleagues, motivating leaders, and a supportive learning environment are all desirable characteristics for job seekers.  Implementing a drug-free workplace shows employees that you not only care about their success, but their overall health. It is a key component in protecting the safety, health and welfare of employees.

At Nova Medical Centers  our teams of medical professionals specialize in ADA, DOT, NIOSH, OSHA and other state and regular federal regulations which govern the occupational medicine industry. Our sole focus on occupational health allows us to provide exceptional pre-employment services. We pride ourselves in tailoring our care to every single client. Contact us  today for more information about our pre-employment services.  Our friendly staff and team of experts are here to meet all of your occupational health needs.

Written by Nayda Sanchez

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How to Prevent Trenching and Excavation Injuries