Implementing a Culture of Safety in the Workplace

Creating and maintaining a safe work environment should be a high priority for organizations. Implementing and maintaining a safety program in your work environment can be daunting, but it is absolutely necessary. These programs are designed to make employees aware of what is going on around them in their work environment to keep them safe and healthy.

A safe workplace helps to minimize sick leaves and absenteeism, reduce the costs of injury and worker’s compensation, maximize productivity, and most importantly meet legal responsibilities and employee obligations. Below are important steps to take in order to ensure a safe workplace and promote a strong safety culture.

  • Provide visual aids. Areas, where dangerous equipment is stored, should be clearly labeled and the walkways should be highlighted with necessary signs.
  • Make sure that all employees are properly trained. The organization must provide all workers with safety training using the language they can understand. This training should be given to all new employees, with refresher courses required for existing workers or when workers switch positions within the company.
  • Ensure employees have the proper equipment. When worn correctly, protective gear can dramatically decrease your risk of injury.
  • Host monthly safety meetings. Establish a workplace health and safety committee made up of employees from different departments. The committee should meet at least once a month and keep employees and senior management informed about safety topics, inspections, injury and illness statistics, and other safety-related issues.
  • Implement emergency procedures.
  • Make new employees understand workplace risks. They need to be aware of possible general risks (fire, flood, or other natural disasters), risks that are specific to their position in the company, and a plan of action in case of an emergency.
  • Take regular breaks. Staying alert will help prevent an injury or other health conditions. Instead of scheduling more strenuous tasks in the middle of the day, do them first thing in the morning (if possible) when you are the most alert.
  • Address any concerns with your employer or Human Resources department. They need to be informed of any hazards or risks and are legally obligated to provide a safe working environment.
  • Instead of trying to lift a heavy object yourself, use mechanical aids when needed. Don’t overexert yourself.
  • Be aware of your surroundings. Every job has imminent dangers, whether you are working at a place that has heavy machinery or even tripping over small items in your office. The best way to be safe is to know what’s going on around you. The more familiar you are with your settings, the more aware you’ll be of the potential hazards. Knowing your surroundings and being aware of potential hazards will help you and your colleagues avoid dangerous situations.
  • Keep emergency exits clear. Never, under any circumstance, place any object in front of an emergency exit, even if it’s only for a few minutes. Ensure that the pathway to the emergency shutoff is clear in the case that something needs to be powered down immediately.

If you believe working conditions are unsafe or unhealthy, you may file a confidential complaint with OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) and ask for an inspection. If possible, bring the conditions to your employer’s attention.

As regulated by OSHA and under federal law, you are entitled to a safe workplace. Your employer must provide a workplace free of unknown health and safety hazards. If you are concerned, you have the right to speak up without fear of retaliation.

 

Written by Dami Falade

Pollution and its Long-Term Effect on the Body

Pollution from the environment may be making you sick! Air pollution is difficult to escape. Most air pollution is caused by people – in the form of cars, planes, wildfires, cigarette smoke, or even using a wood stove to cook.

Air pollution is a mixture of natural and artificial sources in the air we breathe. Outdoor air pollution includes tobacco smoke and gases such as sulfur dioxide and carbon monoxide. Indoor air pollution can include tobacco smoke and carbon monoxide as well, but also include chemicals from household cleaning products and asbestos.

High levels of air pollution can cause added stress to the heart and lungs and can damage cells in the respiratory system. The impact of how bad you can be affected by air pollution depends heavily on your current health status, the pollutant type, and how long you are exposed to air pollution.

Those who are more vulnerable to severe health problems as a result of air pollution are individuals who have heart disease, individuals who work outside, athletes who exercise outside, and pregnant women. Short-term effects of air pollution include temporary illnesses such as pneumonia or bronchitis.  People who develop these illnesses often have headaches, illnesses, and irritation to the nose, eyes, skin, or throat.

Long-term effects of air pollution can last for years or even for an entire lifetime. Long term effects of air pollution can cause heart disease, lung cancer, and diseases that directly affect the respiratory system, such as emphysema.

Indoor air pollution can be lessened by making sure that a building is cleaned on a regular basis and well ventilated, in order to prevent harmful agents such as dust and mold from spreading. Try to reduce outdoor air pollution by taking public transportation or riding a bike instead of driving a car, avoiding heavy traffic if possible, avoiding secondhand smoke from cigarettes, or even cutting down if you are someone who does smoke cigarettes. If you feel that you are experiencing serious symptoms such as shortness of breath or chest pains, you need to seek medical attention immediately.

 

Written by Dami Falade

All about Asbestos

Asbestos is a mineral substance that can be pulled so that it has a fluffy consistency. Asbestos fibers are soft and flexible, yet resistant to heat, electricity, and chemical corrosion. Asbestos works really well being used as an insulator, and can be mixed into cloth, paper, plastic, and other materials to make it stronger. These characteristics make asbestos very useful, however, asbestos is still very toxic.

Materials that contain asbestos are not considered to be harmful unless they are released into the air.

The most common way for asbestos fibers to enter the body is through breathing. Asbestos fibers are very difficult to be obliterated – once it is entered into the body, it remains there, where it can cause diseases. The most common diseases that are associated with asbestos exposure include lung cancer and mesothelioma. Inhaled asbestos fibers can irritate lung tissues, which can cause the tissues to scar. Continued exposure to asbestos can also cause shortness of breath and stiffness of the lungs.

Ceiling tiles, floor tiles, and cabinet tops will not release asbestos fibers unless they were disturbed or damaged in any way. Damage and deterioration will increase the friability (ability to be easily crumbled or broken down) of asbestos-containing materials. Water damage and physical impact such as drilling or sawing can easily cause the materials to release the fibers.

Individuals are more susceptible to asbestos related disorders if they are exposed to high concentrations of asbestos, if they are exposed to longer periods of times, and/or if they are exposed to asbestos more frequently. The World Health Organization has reported that around 125 million people are exposed to asbestos every year.

As dangerous as asbestos can be, it is not always a cause for concern. Asbestos can be maintained utilizing techniques such as encapsulation, which involves applying a thick layer of latex paint to the surface, which in turn keeps the material together and prevents harmful fibers from being released. If situations where asbestos is being used are unavoidable, it is important to wear a face mask in order to protect your respiratory system.

 

Written by Dami Falade

Eye Injury Prevention in Hazardous Workplace

According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, 2,000 workers sustain job-related injuries daily making eye injuries one of the leading hazards at the workplace.  Don’t let that number scare you, with the proper personal protective equipment and safety procedure implementation the likelihood of eye injury can be reduced substantially. Below are some safety tips to help create a safer workplace:

  • Be aware of eye injury hazards

Falling objects such as bits of metal or glass may cause cuts or scrapes in the cornea. Another common eye injuries come from splashes with grease and oil, burns from steam, ultraviolet or infrared radiation exposure and flying wood or metal chips. Health care workers, laboratory, janitorial staff, and other workers may be at risk of acquiring infectious diseases from eye exposure which can be transmitted through direct exposure to blood splashes, respiratory droplets generated during coughing or from touching eyes with contaminated fingers or objects. It’s important to assess the workplace and determine specific potential hazards for your industry.

  • Wear safety eye protection

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) require workers to use eye and face protection whenever there is a reasonable probability of injury that could be prevented by such equipment. Workers should wear eye protection that corresponds to the hazards in their workplace. Safety glasses with side protection are recommended if working in an area that has particles, flying objects or dust. If you are working with chemicals, goggles are fitting. Anyone working near hazard radiation like welding, lasers or fiber optics must use special-purpose safety glasses, goggles, face shields or helmets designed for that task.

  • Be prepared for an emergency

Knowing what to do in case of an eye injury can prevent serious damage while medical assistance is obtained. Each eye injury has first aid procedures to ensure prevention of pain in the eye, blurred vision, or loss of any vision. For instance, first aid for chemicals in the eye requires flushing eyes with water for at least 15 minutes while not washing out the eye is recommended for cuts and punctures. Training workers about eye safety related to their potential eye injury may reduce the risk of permanent injury.

Some industries may not be able to entirely illuminate eye injury hazards, but providing workers with the proper training and equipment can reduce the probability of injury drastically. Being aware, protected and prepared at all times may save workers from experiencing loss of vision, pain in the eye and blurred vision.

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 needs. Ensuring our clients are informed about OSHA regulations is one of our top priorities. 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

Workplace Injury Prevention

Accidents at the workplace are common and disrupt the flow of daily activity. Although workers health is a top priority when an incident occurs, it’s important to consider evaluating other factors such as the condition of workplace and equipment during that time as well.  Reinforcing safety policies is one of the best preventative measures when it comes to reducing workplace injuries.  Below are 5 workplace injury prevention tips:

  1. Implement a safety and wellness plan

Complying with standards and creating a culture of safety will lower the probability of an accident and increase productivity. Safety should not be expected from employees without proper training. By providing safety training you’re teaching employees how to work safely and demonstrating that safety is a priority at the workplace. 

  1. Assess safety vulnerabilities

Every industry has unique hazards and a critical part of safety plan implementation is predicting which accidents are most likely to happen at your workplace. Researching previous injuries that occurred can help you find a pattern and give you an idea what areas need safety policies reevaluations.

  1. Talk safety

Use every opportunity available to talk about safety with employees and management. Staff meetings, conference calls, employee newsletters and any other form of internal communication should be utilized to share the importance of safety. Another way to keep workers motivated is by rewarding them for abiding safety policies or for going accident-free for a certain time period.

  1. Staff accordingly

Ensuring you have the appropriate amount of workers for specific jobs or tasks is a simple tactic that can heavily reduce overworking employees which leads to cutting corners and unsafe practices.

  1. Maintain a clean workplace

Keeping equipment organized and safety equipment visible allows easy access for workers to use. Designated spill cleanup stations should be assigned if necessary in the industry.

Accidents are unpredictable but you can train your team to work in a fashion that creates a safer workplace. Being prepared and knowing what to do in case of an accident can reduce the severity of injuries if they occur.

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 needs. 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

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

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

3 Overlooked Manufacturing Hazards – Training and safety procedures reduce risks

Safety in the manufacturing industry has improved drastically over the last several decades, but when it comes to safety you should never settle with current working conditions. Regular evaluation should be implemented at the workplace.  Many factors contribute to manufacturing hazards so it may be hard to find a starting point. Don’t worry, we have you covered. Below is a list of three commonly overlooked manufacturing hazards and prevention tips:

Noise

According to Occupational Safety and Health Administration  (OSHA) fact sheet, noise-related hearing loss is one the top concerns of workers.  Noise standards for workplaces have been established by OSHA in order to help prevention of hearing loss. If workers are exposed to time-weighted average noise level of 85 decibels or higher over an 8-hour work shift, employers are required to have a hearing conservation program in place.  Ensuring equipment is maintained and lubricated daily contributes to lowering noise levels and providing ear plugs and other personal equipment to employees offers protection against hearing loss.

Burns

Workplace burns are caused by open flames, hot objects, explosions, chemicals, electrical sources and sun exposure. Wearing personal protective equipment, using fire prevention tactics and having procedures and emergency action plans related to fire safety all lower the hazards when workers are exposed to burn risk.  Electrical sources, high-voltage areas and machinery should all be clearly labeled to avoid burns.

Strains

Unsafe lifting techniques, the strain associated with standing for long periods, and using repetitive motions to complete tasks cause symptoms of serious musculoskeletal disorders   (MSD). Injuries to the joints, muscles, tendons, ligaments, discs and nerves are all included in MSD. Workers can reduce the strain by practicing safe lifting techniques such as lifting with your legs instead of your back or pivoting your feet instead of twisting with your body when you need to turn. Ensuring workers have access to dollies, carts and other lift aids will also in protecting workers from developing MSD.

Training workers, creating safety plans and providing appropriate personal protective equipment reduces risks of injuries working in manufacturing. Staying aware of potential hazards and being precautious creates a safer workplace for employees.

Nova Medical Centers  specializes in Occupational Health. We understand the importance of informing employers and employees about OSHA regulations and safety.  Our sole focus on occupational health allows us to provide exceptional services to our patients. 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

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How to Prevent Trenching and Excavation Injuries