Tips for Staying Healthy as a Truck Driver

According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, trucking is the eighth most dangerous job in the United States. Drivers are constantly driving long distances, harsh environments, and dealing with mental fatigue. Here are some tips to consider for keeping up with your health as a truck driver.

  • Pass medical exams – In order to become a truck driver, you must be able to obtain a valid Medical Examiner’s Certificate (ME Certificate). The document will recognize that the driver is stated at good health and is capable of driving.
  • Sleep – Long distances can lead to fatigue and driving while drowsy is just as dangerous as being under the influence. In order to combat drowsiness, one should sleep for at least 7 hours and develop good sleeping habits. This will help drivers to stay awake and concentrate on the road.
  • Take breaks – Similar to sleep, a driver should take frequent breaks in order to clear the mind and destress. Take 10 to 20 minute naps and stretch your body so you can refresh and get back on the road.
  • Exercise – Even though truck drivers have a strict deadline, there is always time to perform a quick workout. By doing simple exercises like pushups and squats, 1) you’re keeping your body fit 2) as your heart rate rises, so will your energy level and 3) you’re maintaining overall good health mentally and physically.
  • Consume nutritious snacks – Treat your body like it’s your truck. If you fill it up with bad fuel, you can damage the truck as the same goes for if you eat bad food, then your body won’t preform at the level it needs to be. Snacks like peanuts, yogurt and fruits is great for acquiring the vitamins your body needs.
  • Avoid energy drinks – Energy drinks do provide a quick boost but it can lead to some long term effects. Consuming too many energy drinks can lead to a high intake of sugar, high blood pressure, and heart problems. A better alternative to energy drinks is water. Water helps maintain body temperature, weight, and gets rid of waste.
  • Constant contact with loved ones – This may sound obvious, but truck drivers are spending countless of hours driving alone to reach their destination. According to The New York Times “loneliness can impair health by raising levels of stress hormones and inflammation.” In order to avoid this state, it is important or drivers to contact their family members or loved ones every opportunity they have.

Trucking is a dangerous occupation but can be rewarding as it provides many benefits and great pay. However, health is the number priority for any occupation and as for truck drivers, implementing these tips while on the road should serve well.

 

Written by Julien Gonzalez

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

Surviving the Night Shift

If your job involves working the night shift, (late at night until early in the morning) then you probably know how difficult it can be to maintain and take care of your health. According to a study done by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, almost 15 million Americans are working the night shift.

Our bodies are designed to be active during the day and resting at night. Many functions of your body, including digestion and heart rate, are dependent on your circadian rhythm. When you work the night shift, your body’s circadian rhythm can be disturbed, causing it to become out of sync. Here are some tips that will help you get through working the night shift.

  • Manage your caffeine intake. Caffeine is a stimulant. When used carefully, your daily dose of coffee can help you to remain alert throughout a shift. However, improper use of caffeine can cause gastrointestinal upsets and muscle shakes.
  • Take a hot shower before and after your shift. This will wake you up and help relax your muscles.
  • Sleep as much as you can before. If you are someone who usually wakes up early, try to nap for at least 3 hours to reduce your drowsiness at work. Be aware that if you sleep for more than 30 – 40 minutes, your body will enter deep sleep mode. It can take around an hour to feel fully alert afterward, so set aside time for that as well.
  • Stop unhealthy snacking. If you don’t feel like eating a huge meal or if you don’t have time, eat healthy snacks such as nuts and raw fruits or vegetables. Snacks that are high in sugar may help you initially when consumed, but you’ll more than likely end up feeling moody and “crashing” later, which will induce drowsiness.
  • Don’t go to bed hungry. Have something to eat and drink before you go to sleep. If not, then you will wake up feeling hungry and thirsty.
  • Spend your off days wisely. Once your body is on a schedule, it could take some time for it to completely switch routine. Stick to a routine. Even on days you don’t work, try to stay awake at night and sleep during the day.
  • Exercise regularly and when you can. If you’re someone who feels exhausted after finishing your night shift, try to schedule your workouts before your shift, or exercise on your off days.
  • If you’re used to falling asleep with the TV on or with your phone in your hand, you should definitely “unplug” before going to sleep. Take advantage of any time you have to sleep and try to make it uninterrupted. Sleep experts recommend turning off all of your devices at least an hour before bedtime.
  • Get an adequate amount of sleep. Try to set aside 7 to 9 hours of sleep after getting home from your night shift. Make sure your bedroom is quiet, dark, and comfortable. Electric fans are great for keeping air circulating throughout the room and it is helpful and neutral background noise.
  • Bond with your colleagues. It’s good to have a support system at work of other coworkers who are working the night shift as well. Be honest with them about how you are feeling.

Working the night shift can be difficult, but sticking to a routine, eating healthy, and improving your sleep patterns can make the adjustment smoother. If you’re struggling, see a doctor. Discuss your problems with them so that they can help you come up with a solution.

 

Written by Dami Falade

Battling Fatigue at Work

If you’re like many people, you may spend time at work battling fatigue. One minute you’re feeling wide awake and productive, and the next you start yawning and feel your body progressively getting more tired. Fatigue is a common problem that affects many people in the workplace – according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately one-third of adults are not getting enough sleep each night.

If you’re someone who doesn’t get enough sleep at night, the drowsiness might hit you sooner as opposed to someone who is getting an adequate amount of sleep each night (at least seven hours). Here are some techniques you can utilize to stay awake so that you’re not falling asleep on the job.

  • Take breaks. Short breaks will help you sustain your focus and energy levels. If your eyes are tired from strain and your muscles are aching, it’s time to get up and walk around. You will feel better and be more productive if you walk around, even if it’s just for a few minutes.
  • Drink more water and less caffeine. Dehydration causes fatigue – it can reduce blood flow to your organs, which slows down your brain. Keep water in your work area and condition yourself to drink 8 cups of water a day, which is the recommended amount. Caffeinated drinks will wake you up temporarily, but later on, you will feel jittery and eventually “crash.”
  • Get moving – take a walk. Physical activity stimulates blood flow to the brain. If you are feeling drowsy, take a walk or stretch to increase your level of alertness. If you are doing a task where you aren’t able to move around much, stretch.
  • Go outside. Exposure to the sunlight outside will improve your mood and concentration, and it can even boost your levels of Vitamin D.
  • Breathe. If you’re feeling stressed or overwhelmed, take a big, deep breath. There are many breathing exercises you can do while at work.

If you are still battling persistent fatigue even after making small lifestyle changes, you may have an underlying medical condition. See a doctor for help so that they can come up with a treatment plan for you.

 

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

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

Hand Injury and Typing

A majority of jobs require you to use a computer for numerous hours a day, but as more people type on a computer, hand injuries due to improper keyboard use become more common. It starts with tingling or numbness in the hand, and become increasingly painful. One of the most common injuries is Repetitive Strain Injury.

Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI) is an injury which is caused by overusing the hands to perform repetitive tasks – typing, writing, or using a mouse. The pain felt in muscles, nerves, and tendons is caused by repetitive movement and overuse. The condition affects parts of the upper body, such as forearms/elbows, risks/hands, and necks/shoulders.  The first symptoms of RSI may include swelling, tenderness, pain, and stiffness.

Here are some risk factors associated with RSI:

  • Poor posture
  • Don’t take frequent breaks
  • Don’t exercise regularly
  • Work in a high-pressure environment
  • Use a computer for more than 2-4 hours a day

Here are some ways you can relieve hand pain.

  • Take frequent breaks every 30 minutes, if possible. Utilize techniques to stretch your hands and wrists.
  • Improve your posture. Sit tall in a comfortable position.
  • Don’t press too hard with your fingers on the keyboard. This could cause unnecessary strain.
  • Bring your keyboard and mouse close to the edge of the desk.
  • Make sure your chair is raised to the appropriate height so that your elbows are at 45 degrees.
  • Pay attention to the position of your hands.
  • Keep your fingernails short! Long fingernails make it more difficult to main a good typing position. Your typing position should be wrists straight, fingers down and slightly curved.
  • Avoid sitting cross-legged.

Even if you don’t work a desk job, that doesn’t mean it can’t happen to you too. Other occupations such as drivers, musicians, and dental hygienists are also at risk since those occupations require repetitive movements as well.

When you are in front of a computer for eight hours a day, preventative measures are important in order to prevent hand injuries. If you take the appropriate steps and your symptoms are still persistent, it is important to see a doctor immediately.

 

Written my 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