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 – 3/15/17

A recent article in The Daily Meal focused on bad kitchen hygiene habits that can be observed by watching most of the television shows featuring celebrity chefs.  These habits include unsafe handling of meats and vegetables, lack of personal protective equipment (gloves), and unsafe techniques for tasting food while cooking.  The article points out that a reminder during the show about safe techniques could go along way to prevent unsafe and unhealthy techniques being used for cooks at home.  A “Don’t Do What I Do” reminder, if you will.

The celebrity food shows are not the only media in which poor or unsafe techniques are shown.

chip on top step of ladder

I hate to pick on Fixer Upper (it’s a favorite show in our home) as Chip’s goofiness is always the source of a few laughs.  But, this morning as my kids were watching a rerun, I heard him discuss some issues with the roof of a house that they were renovating.  When the word “ladder” came across the speaker of the television, I knew that I needed to take a quick peak.  I grabbed a quick picture with my cell phone as I saw them pull out the sketchy wooden A-frame ladder which was well below the roof line of the house.  Not only did Chip stand on the top step of the ladder with not great holding by his wife, he used this top step as a launching point to climb on to the roof.

In defense of Fixer Upper, almost every home improvement/home repair show on HGTV and DIY features moments just like this one – whether it is with ladders, saws, hammers, etc.  As Joanna Fantozzi of The Daily Meal pointed out in her article, a quick reminder of safety principles could go along way towards better safety practices of homeowners as they are attempting to do home renovations and repairs.

While This Old House may not be as fun and glitzy as its HGTV relatives, they include a lot of safety information as they take on different tasks on the show.

Ladder accidents cause nearly 500,000 injuries per year and the rate of ladder injuries has been increasing every year.  A significant portion of these injuries are not work related and occur at home.

There are several simple solutions to reducing the number of ladder related injuries:

  • Use the right type of ladder.
    • Use wood or fiberglass ladders when dealing with electricity.
    • Make sure that the ladder is of sufficient height for the task being performed.
    • Make sure that the ladder has a sufficient strength rating for the weight of the user and and tools/materials that are being carried or used.
  • Make sure that the ladder is in good shape.
    • If the ladder is worn or damaged, make sure that the ladder is repaired to manufacturer standards or replaced.
  • Make sure that you are using the ladder properly.
    • Maintain 3 points of contact when climbing.
    • Don’t reach out of your base of support.
    • When necessary, climb down, move the ladder, and climb again.
  • Make sure that you use proper ladder placement.
    • Place ladder on firm, even ground.
    • Use an assistant/helper to support the base of the ladder to prevent slipping.
    • Don’t place the ladder in front of doors that have not been secured.

One last suggestion comes from a recent paper in Injury by Ackland et al.  In their review of admissions to intensive care units due to ladder related injuries, they recommend that ladder users wear helmets to reduce the risk of traumatic brain injuries in the event of a fall from a ladder.  They note that this is especially important in home based environments as typical worksite occupational health and safety regulations are not in effect.

 

 

Friday Five – 3/10/17

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.

The news media this morning had several stories noting that beginning in July medical residents may work consecutively from 16 hours to 24 hours.  Interestingly, there were many medical residents that were in favor of this change.   Taking this change to resident’s shifts and the upcoming changing of the clocks for Daylight Saving Time, this Friday Five is focused on shift work.

Some residents looked forward to the increased hours as a way of reducing mid-case handoff of ER cases due to hitting the 16 hour mark.  A research letter by Charlie Wray, DO et al. in JAMA looked at handoff policies for residents at hospitals as implemenation of these practices, despite guidelines, is left to each hospital to implement.

A study published last year investigated the effect of hours per week worked by an admitting resident on patient outcomes.  It found that individuals admitted by residents working 80+ hours per week had longer hospital stays and more ICU transfers than those admitted by residents working less than 80 hours per week.  However, there did not appear to be a relationship between hours worked and 30 day readmission rates or in-hospital mortality rates.

Fernando and Roswell looked at the work performed during nursing shifts and noted that the types of work and volume of work performed varied through a 24 hour work cycle.  They note that the scheduling of shifts needs to take type of work and work volume into account.

Two older studies looked at the incidence of work related injuries following onset of Daylight Saving Time.  A study of American mine workers found an increase in injuries on the Monday following the start of DST and a decrease in total sleep for that night by 40 minutes.  A Canadian study found no statistical relationship between injuries and the onset of DST.

Interestingly,  researchers found that the rate of ischemic strokes increases during the first two days after the onset of daylight saving time.

 

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.

 

What Not To Do Wednesday – 2/10/17

I’m posting on Friday because Wednesday was a little busy with weather preparations for Winter Storm Niko.  But, the delay dropped us a great WNTDW topic.

Fortunately, all reports indicate that this cheerleader is ok and does not have significant injuries.

Cheerleading is a demanding and occasionally dangerous activity with a lot of falls.  The what not to do portion hits three times within this video.

Admittedly, all videos of this event have a small break in the video between the fall and the cheerleader being carried out.  However, the first WNTD occurs when a member of the coaching staff chooses to carry the injured cheerleader from the court.  This cheerleader fell on her back and struck her head against the floor.  She should have been checked by the medical staff.

The coaching staff member then chose to run/walk at a very fast pace while carrying someone who has been injured.  Again, with a potential head and back injury, this is a definite WNTD.

Finally, because the person was moving fast while carrying the cheerleader, he was unable to see that his path was not clear which caused him to trip, fall, and drop the injured cheerleader.

Each of these WNTD’s could have been prevented by making sure that all staff members were instructed and trained on emergency procedures in the event of an injury.  With the potential head, neck, and back injuries, this cheerleader should have left the court on a stretcher/backboard – not carried by hand.

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.

 

 

What Not To Do Wednesday – 2/1/17

worker trying to kick wood into a chipper in an unsafe and unprotected way (how not to use a wood chipper)
BBW345 worker trying to kick wood into a chipper in an unsafe and unprotected way (how not to use a wood chipper)

It seems like it should be a “no brainer” to not use your feet to help push things into machines that shred materials, but it happens.  Approximately 50% of those injured when using a wood chipper are sucked feet first into the machine.  The Bureau of Labor and Statistics tracks injuries and fatalities for many occupations.  Statistics for the last several years indicate about 100-130 non-fatal injuries occur while operating wood chippers with fatalities typically in the 5 to 10 per year range.

Wood chipper injuries can be reduced with some simple rules:

  • When you are working to clear a clogged chute, make sure that the machine if fully shutdown before opening the machine up.  A worker in Maine was fatally injured when he attempted to open a chipper before it was fully shut down.
  • Make sure to operate chippers in teams of at least two individuals.  These team members should be close enough to monitor each other, in the event that the machine needs to be shutdown.
  • Load smaller pieces on top of larger pieces – or use larger branches to push the shorter branches through the hopper.
  • Put twigs and other small branches directly into the truck instead of running them through the chipper.
  • Stand to the sides (specifically the side with the shutoff controls) of the hopper when feeding materials rather than in front of the hopper.

 

Friday Five – 1/27/17

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.

This article by NHL defenseman Bryce Salvador discusses the changes in both behaviors and attitudes that he had to make following a concussion after being hit in the head with a puck at 90 miles per hour.

Steven Dubner of Freakonomics and Freakonomics radio did a two episode series on the economics of sleep.  It covers a lot of interesting areas that are impacted by the amount and quality of sleep.  While it’s broad in scope, it isn’t a deep dive into all of  the areas.  There’s some brief discussion of safety and productivity/efficiency.  Episode 1 provides an introduction to the issues of sleep and overall economics and Episode 2 looks a little bit more into timing of sleep and quality with a quick discussion with Heather Schofield who is doing some interesting research into the affect of sleep on data entry jobs.

Sometimes job training needs to start before you get the job.  The Kessler Foundation has awarded a grant to the University of Michigan to look at virtual reality based training modules to help youth with disabilities become more confident with their actions when interviewing for a job.  (As a quick disclosure, I used to work for the Kessler Foundation within their research division a long time ago).

Researchers in Canada are beginning to dig deeper into a fairly large set of data on construction workers to determine the differences between injury rates between unionized and non-unionized construction workers.

Besides the science that goes into the ballistic properties of bullet proof vests, there is a lot of ergonomics that goes into determining which vests work better at allowing personnel to be able to accurately and effectively perform job tasks.  Issues looked at include heat generation/dissipation, performance in obstacle courses, and more. Employees and end users should look to make sure that the issued vests are able to suitably perform all aspects of the job.

 

 

Friday Five

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 without commentary and are not meant to be endorsement for a give product.

Ergonomic recycling containers – the lids are open to all sides allowing for easier access to deposit recyclables

American Airlines flight staff seem to be having health issues since their new uniforms were put into service.

Ergonomic mice and keyboards aren’t only for data entry – it can be the difference between winning and losing for gamers.

There are a lot of options for ergonomic keyboards.  This site reviews 10 of them.

While there have been reductions in sprains, strains, and other MSDs in many occupations, construction workers still have high rates of MSDs.