Back pain is one of the biggest reasons people miss work
The Mayo Clinic reports that 4 out of 5 people will experience low back pain in their lifetimes. However, back pain is often caused by basic lifestyle factors, and can often be prevented. Experts at Harvard Medical School offer the following suggestions for keeping back pain at bay:
1. Stay in shape: Low-impact aerobic activities such as swimming, bicycling, or walking are ideal because they strengthen the back and abdominal muscles and also stimulate endorphins, which help kill pain.
2. Maintain a healthy weight: People who are overweight carry more weight on their spine and are at a higher risk of straining muscles in their backs.
3. Don't smoke. Aside from the countless other reasons not to smoke, scientists believe that nicotine hampers the flow of blood to the vertebrae and disks. In addition, smokers tend to lose bone faster than nonsmokers, putting them at a higher risk for pain.
4. Lighten your load. A purse, briefcase, or backpack could be causing back pain. Minimizing the weight in any of these items may reduce or eliminate back pain.
5. Lift properly. When you have to lift an item, let your legs do as much of the work as possible and only bend at the knee.
6. Stretch. Take breaks to stretch and short walks to loosen up.
7. Sit properly. Your feet should rest comfortably on the floor (or a small stool) when you are seated. Keep your knees a bit higher than your hips and bend them at a 90-degree angle.
8. Set up a back-friendly workspace. Your chair should have an adjustable backrest, wheels, lumbar support, and armrests to be supportive.
9. Stand smart. When required to stand for long periods of time, maintain a neutral pelvic position. Alternate placing your feet on a low footstool to take pressure off your lower back.
10. Be aware of how you sleep. Sleeping on your side is an ideal position to prevent back pain. Your pillow should keep your head and spine level, and your mattress should be firm enough so that your spine doesn't sag in your bed.
|By W. Jon Wallace, CSP, MBA||
On June 11, 1999, an electrician was trouble- shooting the emergency power system. After testing the transfer panel, he moved to the emergency breaker compartment (480 volts, 200 amps), removed the cover panel, and proceeded to test the circuits. Initial testing showed power on all terminals. When the electrician started to test the circuits again, a fault occurred, resulting in the formation of a fireball seriously injuring the Assistant Building Engineer and fatally injuring the Assistant Fire Chief and electrician. [Source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)]
The preceding incident is an example of the hazards associated with an electric arc flash. An electric arc flash, which is a short circuit through the air, occurs when an employee is working on or near energized electrical equipment and inadvertently contacts conductors or circuits, such as dropping a part or tool, resulting in a phase-to-ground, or a phase-to-phase fault. Also, equipment malfunction may produce a spark or arc, resulting in an arcing fault.
The Hazards of Electric Arc Flashes
Approximately 80% of all electrical injuries are burns resulting from the electric arc flash and ignition of an employees' flammable clothing. Arc flashes cause electrical equipment to explode, resulting in an arc- plasma fireball. Temperatures may exceed 35,000° F (the surface of the sun is approximately 10,000° F). These high temperatures cause rapid heating of surrounding air and extreme pressures, resulting in an arc blast. The arc blast will likely vaporize all solid copper conductors. Solid copper expands to 67,000 times its original volume when it is vaporized. In addition, measurements taken on a test mannequin during a laboratory arc flash detected sound levels of 141.5 decibels at two (2) feet from the blast and pressure levels of 2,160 pounds per square foot (psf) in the immediate vicinity of the blast.
An electric arc flash can ignite an employees' flammable clothing causing severe burns; the intense light of an arc flash can cause cataracts; the tremendous sound pressure may damage an employees hearing; and the pressure levels could knock an employee down. Also, flying shrapnel could result in serious injury or death.
Prevention of Arc Flash Incidents
By far, the best way to prevent an electric arc flash is to always deenergize and lockout/tagout all electrical equipment prior to performing servicing and maintenance activities. OSHA 29 CFR 1910.333 (a)(1) states: "Live parts to which an employee may be exposed shall be deenergized before the employee works on or near them, unless the employer can demonstrate that deenergizing introduces additional or increased hazards or is infeasible due to equipment design or operational limitations. Live parts that operate at less than 50 volts to ground need not be deenergized if there will be no increased exposure to electrical burns or explosion due to electric arcs."
Some examples of increased or additional hazards may include: interruption of life support equipment, deactivation of emergency alarm systems or atmospheric monitoring equipment, or shutdown of hazardous ventilation equipment. An example where it may be infeasible to deenergize equipment would be performing diagnostics and testing (e.g., start-up or troubleshooting) that can only be performed with the circuit energized.
Electrical Safety-Related Work Practices
If electrical equipment must remain energized while servicing and maintenance is performed, electrical safety-related work practices must be utilized by qualified employees as outlined by OSHA in 29 CFR 1910.331 - 1910.335. In addition to OSHA's requirements, NFPA 70E Standard for Electrical Safety in the Workplace (2004 Edition) contains requirements for performing a flash hazard analysis.
Origin of NFPA 70E
The National Electrical Code® is generally considered an electrical installation document and protects employees under normal circumstances; however, it does not address electrical safety-related work practices. In an effort to protect employees while working on or in the vicinity of electrical equipment, OSHA requested the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) develop a standard addressing electrical safe work practices. In response, the first edition of NFPA 70E was published in 1979. NFPA 70E is intended to provide guidance with respect to electrical safe work practices.
OSHA and NFPA 70E
Does OSHA enforce NFPA 70E? No, NFPA 70E is not incorporated by reference in 29 CFR 1910.6, however, OSHA has several comparable requirements that are enforceable:
29 CFR 1910.132 (d)(1): Requires employers to perform a personal protective equipment (PPE) hazard assessment to determine necessary PPE.
29 CFR 1910.269 (l)(6)(iii): Requires employers to ensure each employee working at electric power generation, transmission, and distribution facilities who is exposed to the hazards of flames or electric arcs does not wear clothing that could increase the extent of injury when exposed to such a hazard.
29 CFR 1910.335 (a)(1)(i): Employees working in areas where there are potential electrical hazards shall use electrical protective equipment appropriate for the specific parts of the body for the work being performed.
29 CFR 1910.335 (a)(1)(iv): Requires that employees wear nonconductive head protection whenever exposed to electric shock or burns due to contact with exposed energized parts.
29 CFR 1910.335 (a)(1)(v): Employees shall wear protective equipment for the eyes or face wherever there is danger of injury to the eyes or face from electric arcs or flashes or from flying objects resulting from an electrical explosion.
29 CFR 1910.335 (a)(2): Employees shall use insulated tools or handling equipment when working near exposed energized conductors or circuit parts.
29 CFR 1926.28 (a): Employer shall require employees to wear appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) during construction work.
Flash Hazard Analysis and Flash Protection Boundary
Prior to commencing work on electrically energized conductors ≥ 50 volts, NFPA 70E Article 130.3 requires a flash hazard analysis be performed to identify work tasks that must be performed while electrical equipment remains energized. Instead of performing a detailed analysis, however, Table 130.7 (c)(9)(a) (Hazard Risk Category Classifications) may be utilized to identify various job tasks and the corresponding hazard risk category provided your facility satisfies the conditions noted in the footnotes.
NFPA 70E Article 130.3 (A) requires employers to establish a flash protection boundary - a distance from exposed energized electrical parts at which an employee could sustain a second degree burn if an electric arc flash were to occur. Employees performing work on energized conductors inside this boundary must be protected with appropriate personal protective equipment. In most cases, the flash protection boundary for electrical systems 600 volts and below will be four (4) feet.
Selection of Personal Protective Equipment
NFPA 70E Table 130.7 (C)(9)(a) lists various work tasks and the corresponding hazard risk category (0 through 4). Once the hazard risk category has been determined, Table 130.7 (C)(10) [Protective Clothing and Personal Protective Equipment Matrix] is consulted to determine the appropriate PPE. An example is listed below.
Example: Employee is working on an energized panelboard (including voltage testing) rated ≤ 240 volts.
Required PPE: Task is listed as a hazard risk category one (1). In addition to voltage rated gloves, Table 130.7 (C)(10) specifies the following PPE: Flame retardant clothing (long-sleeve shirt and pants), hard hat, and safety glasses.
Arc Flash Marking on Field Breakers
In addition to the flash hazard analysis and PPE requirements specified in NFPA 70E, the 2002 National Electrical Code® (NEC) requires field labeling of circuit breaker panels and electrical disconnects to warn qualified employees of the potential arc flash hazards:
Article 110.16 Flash Protection: "Switchboards, panelboards, industrial control panels, and motor control centers in other than dwelling occupancies, that are likely to require examination, adjustment, servicing, or maintenance while energized, shall be field marked to warn qualified persons of potential electric arc flash hazards. The marking shall be located so as to be clearly visible to qualified persons before examination, adjustment, servicing, or maintenance of the equipment."
Arc flash hazards pose a serious risk to employee safety; proper safe work practices must be utilized. Electrical equipment ≥ 50 volts must be deenergized and lockout/tagout followed prior to servicing and maintenance unless doing so would increase hazards or is infeasible. Remember, convenience is not an acceptable reason for keeping equipment energized during servicing and maintenance. If electrical equipment must remain energized during servicing and maintenance, NFPA 70E should be consulted to determine flash hazard boundaries as well as required PPE. Finally, circuit breakers and electrical disconnects must be marked to warn qualified employees of potential arc flash hazards.
Please click here for information on our April 25, 2008 NFPA 70E training course: If you have any questions concerning this article or other safety issues, please contact W. Jon Wallace at 919.933.5548 or email Jon</ b>
|by Mike Bingham||
My monthly trip from Franklin to Raleigh for the NCIC Staff Meeting takes five hours and forty-five minutes on a good day. My truck quit on me 11 times on each of the last three trips to Raleigh and back. Each time it quit it took me about 3 minutes to get it running again and to get back on the road since the breakdowns were fairly minor and familiar. Each repair exposed me to hazards like temperature extremes from the engine, chemicals (fuel, gasses from the battery, etc.), traffic hazards, and then my concentration was shot on top of everything since I was constantly worrying about when the truck was going to quit again.
Well, the story above really isn't true. No one would tolerate 33 breakdowns in 3 trips to Raleigh without finding a permanent fix for the problem. Yet in many manufacturing environments eight, ten, or even more breakdowns, jams, or machine-related work disruptions are often not only tolerated, but seen as normal.
Each time a quirky machine jams, breaks, or falters the operator is exposed to a number of hazards. Jams can lead to caught-in accidents, unexpected startups, unexpected release of energy and so-forth. Removing guards or safety devices invoke the need for LOTO. Personal protective equipment may need to be used during the repair if chemical hazards pose a threat. Operator and maintenance personnel stress levels can rise, and production goals can suffer. Operators can feel the need to take a shortcut to catch back up. Many times when people are injured it is during the repair or adjustment of equipment. Less often are they hurt during normal operation of well- functioning and well-safeguarded equipment.
I've seen cases where operators were injured during repair of equipment or when they were clearing jams. A severe laceration from a "struck by" incident and two "caught in" incidents are but three of the many that really stick in my mind from working in industry for nearly 30 years. In each of these cases, machine malfunction created the need for operators to be doing the tasks that ultimately put them into the situation that exposed them to the hazards that resulted in their injuries.
Maybe a good reliability study of your equipment can expose hidden hazards from repeated breakdowns. The payback could be reduced exposure of employees to hazards, increased employee morale, better quality, and last but not least - increased production!
As a safety geek I love abbreviations, acronyms, and parentheses, and I'd like to share a new one I derived from something someone said on the news a few years ago.
It stands for: What Do We Have Today That We Can Use To Get What It Is That We Want.
Editor's Note: Mike Bingham is the Western Area Safety Representative for the North Carolina Industrial Commission. Mike is one of the 10 members of the North Carolina Industrial Commission's Safety Department who are out there Working for You! to make our workplaces safer and better for each and every worker by reducing injuries to employees and saving money for employers through education and training. You can contact Mike at: email@example.com or call: 919.218.9045
|by Michael Nance||
Put the top down, she says
Recently during a doctor's visit to get a mole removed, the doc told me that he noticed signs of pre- melanoma on the side of my face. Melanoma is skin cancer that increasing faster than any other form of cancer according to John Hopkins Hospital. Of course, I had many questions as to how serious, do I need to have skin surgery, etc. Normal questions that anyone would have after hearing the word cancer. Fortunately, he is just going to keep tabs on these areas.
What surprised me were his recommendations. All common sense, but nonetheless things I really hadn't thought of. He asked if a drove a lot because all of the "pre" areas were on the left side of my face. I explained what I did with the North Carolina Industrial Commission and I got one of those "Ah-ha's" from him. Over the years, I've been subjecting my left side of the face to sunlight which contains harmful ultraviolet (UV) radiation. He went on to explain that regular factory auto glass does block some rays, but even with the option of "factory tint", most UV rays still come right through. He gave me two options. Have the glass covered with a UV clear (or tinted) covering or apply a sunscreen every morning if I am to drive any distance. Something that I never really thought about. Last month if you had mentioned "sunscreen", I would think only of the beach. If you own a convertible, you are especially at risk for skin cancer.
Man, it's hot!
It's already starting. During mid-winter, we wish it were warmer and once it does warm up, we'll say "man, it's hot!" The combination of heat and humidity can be very serious, inside and outside. Folks that work in a hot environment or outside quite a bit may be at increased risk for heat-related illness. So take precautions.
There are three major kinds of heat-related disorders - heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Heat cramps are usually caused by the loss of salts during heavy sweating that create painful muscle cramps. Heat exhaustion occurs when the body's blood supply is not large enough to supply oxygen through the body and heat from the core. Dehydration, which reduces blood volume, increases the potential for heat exhaustion.
Heat stroke is the most serious heat related problem. When the internal body temperature rises too high, the body's normal cooling mechanisms cease to function. In short, the brain no longer tries to do the things required to maintain normal body temperatures. Symptoms include hot, dry skin. The victim appears flushed and has a rapid pulse, and may be confused and nauseated. Heat stroke must be treated as a medical emergency and first aid action should be taken immediately. Call 911 and move to a cooler location if possible. Remove outer clothing and apply cooling water to the body's surface. If ice packs are available, place one under the armpits or on the back of the neck. If a large cooler is nearby, take a victim's shirt off and douse it, then apply to the victim repeating as needed. If you are using reusable ice packs, wash and dry the out surface before placing in the freezer. I wouldn't tell the spouse what you used them for either.
While there are several factors that can lead to heat cramps, exhaustion and stroke, a person's work rate is probably the factor that increases internal heat the most. Regulating work-rest periods is important to control heat stress. A person's age also is a factor in heat stress. As we age, we don't tend to sweat as rapidly as a younger person and we require longer rest periods to recover. (Something I plan on pointing out to my wife around 2PM every Sunday.) Our body size also plays a part in all of this. Heat production in the body's core is related to body mass.
While I have primarily addressed adults here, we shouldn't forget about the summer activities of our children. Baseball, volleyball and other outdoor fun can turn into heat stress danger for kids. My son says to not forget "dodge ball" either. While sodas and the like were treats when I was growing up, good ole fashion water is still the best thing. Chances are when one child says they're thirsty; the others can use a break too.
Here are a few tips to help reduce heat stress:
-Drink small amounts of water frequently.
-Wear light colored, loose-fitting, breathable clothing.
-Eat small meals before heavy work activity.
-Check with your health care provider if your medications and heat don't mix.
- Know that some PPE, such as respirators or work suits can increase heat stress.
Did you know that a fully acclimatized (say it three times real fast) person can maintain a sweat rate of almost one quart per hour throughout a work day? Do you know why caffeine and alcohol are not recommended as a replacement fluid? They increase water loss in the body. Did you know that these new energy beverages that many kids (and some adults) are slamming down are quite dangerous? My wife, who teaches high school, has witnessed many kids drinking two, three, even four of these drinks in a row. These drinks can raise the heart rate to unhealthy levels. Nothing wrong with a Gatorade or other sports drink on occasion to replace electrolytes, but again, water is the best replacement fluid.
From a good friend of mine
Put your car keys beside your bed at night. If you hear a noise outside your home or someone trying to get into your house, just press the panic button for your car. The alarm will be set off, and the horn will continue to sound until either you turn it off, the battery dies, or the alarm resets. If the car is in the driveway or in the garage, odds are a burglar or rapist won't stick around. After a few seconds (or minutes), most neighbors will be looking out their windows to see what's going on and a criminal won't want that. Remember to carry your keys while walking in a parking lot. The alarms work the same there, but always know your surroundings. Some criminals are bold.
Editor's note: Michael Nance is the NCIC Blue Ridge, Southern & Western Piedmont areas Safety Representative. If you are interested in having one of our programs in your area, please give Michael a call at 919-218-9047 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Size Does Matter!
One Size Fits All-Unless it Doesn't
When it comes to personal protective equipment (PPE), women might need to think twice about whether or not they are truly protected by a piece of equipment that is "one size fits all." Protective clothing or apparatus that fits a 6'5", 250 lb man probably won't fit a 5'5", 130 lb woman as well. And if it doesn't fit, it's probably not providing the protection it is intended to give.
For example, gloves that adequately protect a man with average-size hands will likely be extremely loose on a woman with average-size hands. Oversized gloves could be loose enough to come off, get caught on equipment, or make it difficult for the wearer to grip an object. Similarly, glasses that are too big can slide off a woman's face, making them useless and leaving her eyes susceptible to chemical sprays and projectiles.
Men and women alike should be able to count on a safe working environment. While it may take a little extra effort to ensure that female employees are properly protected with PPE, it is certainly worth an employer's time to do so.
Now you know. Dennis :)
Which Type Are You?
Boss A doesn't trust her employees. She isn't certain they have the mental capacity to get a job done and isn't sure they are motivated to do so in the first place. She constantly checks up on them, micromanages, and takes credit for her employees' work.
Boss B trusts his employees entirely. He feels confident he can give his staff only a vague and broad outline of a project or objective and they will complete it perfectly. He knows his staff is self-directed and doesn't see any reason to get in their way. He is extremely reserved and happy to work almost independently of his team.
Bosses A and B seem to be polar opposites, so if we say Boss A is definitely "bad," then Boss B must be great, right? Wrong. While Boss A certainly isn't fostering a positive work environment in which employees can thrive and develop, Boss B trusts his team so much that he gives them little direction and rarely interacts with his employees. Neither boss is ideal!
One of the biggest problems employees have with their bosses involves trust. Boss A doesn't trust her employees or their abilities enough to give them the details of a project and let them succeed on their own. As a result, her employees are likely to feel unsatisfied and resentful, especially as she takes credit for their achievements. Even worse for Boss A, though, is that she regularly makes more work for herself and hinders the team's productivity overall.
Boss B, on the other hand, has such confidence in his employees that he doesn't feel the need to interact with them much at all. This brings about another major problem for employees: poor communication. While Boss B may think his lack of communication is a testament to his team's performance and ability, employees rely on communication with the boss not only for information, but to develop a relationship and to feel a part of the company as a whole. Boss B's attitude makes him seem unfriendly and hard to approach. His management style could quickly turn an able and motivated team into a group of disgruntled employees who don't respect their detached director.
So what's Boss C doing? Boss C works with her team. She is careful to pass along important information, sets clear expectations, and asks for feedback from her employees. Once a project is assigned, she stays involved but trusts the capabilities of her team. Her team knows that she's available at all times for questions or suggestions; they respect her and want her to succeed. The team views Boss C as someone who is there to make sure they have everything they might need to get a job done and who supports their efforts. Finally, Boss C appreciates her employees and lets them know it, and while she doesn't hesitate to correct performance that is lacking, she always makes sure to congratulate employees on achievements and thank them for their contributions.
Few people wouldn't prefer Boss C over Bosses A and B, but the unfortunate truth is that most everyone has had a boss similar to either A or B. Fortunately, since being a good boss isn't something we are born with, but something we learn, even the worst boss isn't doomed to stay that way. The desire to be better, along with a little self-awareness, can go a long way towards being Boss C.
|By Lisa Davis||
With summer just around the corner, it is time to start preparing for hotter temperatures and how they affect your employees. Difficult, strenuous work conditions can impact the health and well-being of employees anytime. However, when the ambient temperature combines with humidity and work load, the body's ability to cool itself is drastically reduced. This in turn, can cause mental and physical fatigue, heat cramps, heat exhaustion and in some cases life threatening heat strokes.
Air Power has a product that can cool your employees down anywhere, anytime; the Isotherm Cooling Vest by Bullard. Isotherm is a revolutionary technology that offers more cooling, lasts longer and is more comfortable than any other cooling product on the market. Tests have proven that the Isotherm Cool Vest stays within the human "comfort zone" much longer than any other product.
No waiting, no downtime. Simply submerge Isotherm Cool Packs in the cooler with ice water and they are fully energized in 20 minutes! This will provide over 2 hours of effective cooling! For more information and assistance with keeping your employees safe this summer, please contact Tim Davis, Respiratory Equipment Specialist - Air Power, at 800-334-1001 ext. 1239 or Email Lisa.
Fun and useless tidbits
Bats always turn left when exiting a cave!
The praying mantis is the only insect that can turn its head!
In Tokyo, they sell toupees for dogs!
166,875,000,000 pieces of mail are delivered each year in the U.S!
1,525,000,000 miles of telephone wire is strung across the U.S!
123,000,000 cars are being driven down the U.S's highways!
85,000,000 tons of paper are used each year in the U.S!
56,000,000 people go to Major League baseball each year!
The NC Industrial Commission Safety Education Section stands ready to assist you with your Safety training needs. We offer a variety of courses, designed to suit your needs. Please give one of our Industrial Safety Representatives a call.
NC Industrial Commission