What Not To Do Wednesday – 5/24/17

Some days, what not to do is right in front of you.  When I was walking from the parking lot into the building, I noticed the ladder leaning against the building to access the roof.  The first thing that jumped out at me was the fact that the top of the ladder was extended just barely beyond the top edge of the wall.  It was not anywhere close to the minimum 3 feet that it should have extended past the access point between the ladder and the roof.

I went inside and grabbed my business partner to point out the ladder, but also to show him the new NIOSH Ladder Safety App.  It’s a simple but useful app that I’ve used out in the field on a couple of previous occasions to document fixed ladders on a worksite.  The nice thing about it is that it has a measuring tool that can tell you whether a ladder is placed at too shallow an angle, the appropriate angle, or too steep an angle.  When I placed my phone on the ladder, the ladder was at too shallow an angle – 72 degrees.  The shallow angle placement of the ladder is compounded by the fact that the feet of the ladder are placed on a downward sloping section of pavement.  Between the shallow angle, sloped pavement, and lack of ladder extension beyond the access point, this is a catastrophe waiting to happen.

Correcting these mistakes is a simple fix:

  • Extend the ladder further – there is still plenty of extension left in this ladder.
  • Check the angle of the ladder to make sure that it isn’t too shallow or too steep.  The NIOSH Ladder Safety App is free and easy to use.  Almost everyone has a smart phone so there is no excuse not to use the app.

What Not To Do Wednesday – 2/22/17

This What Not To Do Wednesday is a little bit different.  I recently came across an article about an OSHA investigation into the death of a mountain climbing guide in Wyoming.

Typically, people think of OSHA and workplace safety as a construction or manufacturing issue and don’t realize that the involvement of OSHA is much further reaching.  In the past, OSHA has looked into the death of a marine mammal trainer at Sea World after an orca attacked a trainer as well as ski resorts after a ski director was killed in an avalanche.  OSHA also became involved in a recent case of a researcher in Montana who was killed by a grizzly bear.  OSHA noted that the researcher did not have anti-bear devices when he left to go into the field and that his employer did not have a check-in/check-out procedure to make sure that employees were properly equipped.

In the case of the climbing guide, OSHA looked into details surrounding a failure of a specific piece of safety equipment that failed as the climbing guide was attempting to retrieve a descending device.  OSHA acknowledged that the item was a piece of personally owned gear and that the actual failure was a knot tied by the guide.  Exum Mountain Guides agreed to perform formal annual inspections of both company and personal gear as part of their safety changes due to this case.  It was acknowledged that the failure of the knot was not Exum’s responsibility and that it isn’t practical for Exum to double check every knot tied by its employees.  OSHA also acknowledged that the guide was highly experienced.

The important thing to remember is that if there is a risk of injury to your employees, you need to have a safety plan to minimize or mitigate those risks – even if it is the potential of attacks by bears, whales, avalanches, or personal equipment failure.

 

Friday Five – 2/17/17

Friday Five – 2/2/17 – NJ Ergonomics Blog

The Friday Five is a set of five links that I have come across this week that pertain to ergonomics, occupational health, safety, human performance, or human factors.  For whatever reason, I found them interesting, but they are provided with minimal or no commentary and are not meant to be endorsement for a given product.

We are now about a month in to the new administration.  Tom Muskin at Safety and Health Magazine takes a look at what might be coming down the pike with changes at OSHA.  Two interesting points are that President Trump is the first president with experience as a business person dealing with OSHA and that we may see a shift from shaming the companies who are found to be in violation to a climate of trying to assist companies to not be in violation.  There are some interesting pros and cons to that shift.

It’s still winter time out but this research paper by Rameez Rameezdeen and Abbas Elmualin in the January 2017 issue of International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health takes a look at construction site injuries during heat waves.  One of the interesting points is that new workers (less than 1 year in job) and workers over 55 years old have higher injury rates during heat waves.   This is a good time to start planning for the heat of summer and checking protocols for dealing with employee hydration and other heat related protocols.

As was mentioned in this week’s What Not To Do Wednesday, the military becomes a great place to learn lessons.  In addition to accident reviews, they do an amazing amount of research to understand current problems so that they are no longer problems in the future.  This paper by AM Kelley et al in the February 2017 issue of Aerospace Medicine and Human Performance looks at the issue of helicopter aircrews and back pain through the lens of age, gender, airframe, and more.  Only by looking at current complaints can we reduce future complaints.

This might make for one of the more interesting projects for an engineering lab.  Carolyn Summerich, PhD of Ohio State University looked at ergonomics issues affecting tattoo artists.  Not surprisingly, there are some potential musculoskeletal issues lurking in this industry.

In France, a 105 year old man not only set a record a one hour cycling record but also helped to prove that physical performance and ability can be improved at any age.  Dr. Veronique Billat and her colleagues at University of Evry-Val d’Essonne in France followed Robert Marchand’s performance and provided him with a workout program that he followed for two years (from age 103 to age 105).  In testing, they found his VO2 improved 13% and was comparable to that of a 50 year old.  This is something that is going to be revisited in the future on this site.

 

 

Friday Five – 2/2/17

The Friday Five is a set of five links that I have come across this week that pertain to ergonomics, occupational health, safety, human performance, or human factors.  For whatever reason, I found them interesting, but they are provided with minimal or no commentary and are not meant to be endorsement for a given product.

A lot of money and time has been put into exoskeletons for assisting soldiers, laborers, and individuals who have had strokes or spinal cord injuries.  This is an area that I plan on revisiting in future posts.  For now, a company called suitX has introduced a modular line of exoskeletons for assisting with specific work related tasks and body parts.

Whenever there is a change of administrations, regardless of whether there is a change in party, there are revisions to previous rules and regulations.  This National Law Review piece takes a quick look at areas of potential changes at OSHA.

Becker’s Healthcare Review has five great tips for designing an intergenerational workspace in hospital settings.

Not so much ergonomics but a question of productivity and efficiency on the Monday after the Super Bowl.  Kraft Foods is suggesting the day after should be a holiday  with an anticipated 16.5 million workers may call out sick to recover from festivities the day before.  This is an interesting question when talking about presenteeism vs. absenteeism.  How much work is actually lost with people discussing the game and the commercials when they come to work the next day?

When I was taking a tour of our local police department with my son’s Cub Scout den, my son asked the officer who gave the tour about a poster in the squad room.  The poster had a police cruiser that had been in an accident and had a slogan reminding officers that car accidents cause more line of duty deaths than some of the other more media noticed causes.  I found this article with 5 real world tips that police officers can use to make their vehicle safer for today’s tour of duty.

 

 

Quick Note – United Airlines announces ergonomic interventions

It was announced yesterday that United Airlines is going to be making a series of ergonomic changes to the baggage handling process as a result of a lawsuit filed by the OSHA office in Parsippany, NJ that was brought as a result of more than 600 musculoskeletal injuries to baggage handlers between 2011 and 2015.  In addition to ergonomic changes, United Airlines has agreed to pay a $7,000 fine.

The changes will involve engineering changes to reduce physical demands that involved excessive stooping, bending, lifting of heavy objects, and twisting while handling baggage.  Many of those injuries could be traced to baggage-handling configurations that forced workers to stoop, bend, lift, or twist in ways that caused injuries that could have been avoided.