Monday, February 23, 2015

Stop Workplace Bullying!


According to the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work, surveys show that 5% of workers reported being subject to some form of harassment/bullying in 2005.  Although there are laws to deal with flagrant versions of these social interactions in the workplace, they are often glossed over in an attempt to avoid additional conflict.  These behaviors are often ignored, but this is unacceptable and sometimes dangerous. These actions between coworkers can lead to an increasingly hostile environment.

Harassment can be loosely defined as when a person is subjected to behavior that is repeated, unwelcomed, unsolicited, or offensive. Meaning that according to the survey quoted above, 5 out of every 100 workers are being subjected to some form of harassment in the workplace.

Bullying in the workplace can lead to lower self-esteem, increased stress, and trigger depression. Co-workers may think something along the lines of: ‘it’s just a joke,’ or ‘he/she will get over it.’ Although, it’s important to realize that while sometimes this might be true, there are some cases that can escalate and could result in serious side effects. If ignored, harassment can lead to lower quality output, whether in the product line or customer service, possibly leading to company ethics violations.  In extreme cases, it can lead to P.T.S.D. and even homicides and/or suicides.   Harassment is not a joking matter.

It is better to prevent harassment than to have to deal with the costs of counseling and possible compensation that may be required after the harassment has occurred. 

Five important steps to take to help prevent harassment include: 
  • Outline and clearly state unacceptable behavior.
  • Keep an up to date anti-harassment policy. 
  • Provide conflict management training. 
  • Have clear and strict consequences for harassment complaints. 
  • Maintain confidentiality with all internal issues, making sure rumors cannot be spread due to breached confidentiality.

Always report any suspected harassment, bullying, or discrimination to your PR representative, your union (if applicable), or to the proper supervisor. 

Remember: even if you get a good laugh, the potential risks of workplace harassment are not a joke. 

Thank you for your time and attention.  Let’s make it safe this Monday.

Christopher Feigal
Demand Generation Specialist, Lift’n Buddy, a Southworth Company

Monday, February 16, 2015

Don’t Let the Snow Wreck Your Back


Depending on where you are this winter you have experienced anywhere from hardly any snow to getting snowed in completely.  No matter where you find yourself on that scale it is always good to know the proper shoveling technique so you don’t wreck your back and end up hurt and snowed in.  

The first step to shoveling safely, without injuring your back, is having the right shovel. There are ergonomic snow shovels that can help take some effort out of shoveling.  Certain kinds of shovels are needed for different tasks.  The task that will more than likely be the main cause of back pain is lifting the snow to throw it out of the way.  The best shovels for this are the ones with a sturdy handle and scoop.  Flimsy shovels will cause a lot more issues than they solve.  As you pick out a sturdy shovel you also have to consider the weight of the shovel and especially the scoop.  The metal scoop shovels are nice and sturdy, but the extra weight may result in back injury.  They make shovels with bent and curved handles.  They both take some of the weight off your lower back, but the curved ones are better than the bent ones for tossing the snow because they take some pressure off your wrists too.

Another way to prevent injuries is to stay warm when shoveling and be warm before you go out into the cold.  Warm and flexible muscles will help reduce the risk of injury compared to tight and cold muscles.  It is a good idea to walk around, stretch, and limber up your arms, legs, and back before going out.  Jumping jacks, a brisk walk, or marching in place can help with this.

Another way to save your back is to use proper lifting techniques when scooping the snow. Bend at the knees when lifting the shovel full of snow.  The further down the handle you grab with your second hand will help with the weight of the snow, but you don’t want to have your arms uncomfortably far apart.  Tossing the snow can cause a problem if not done safely.  Try to walk the snow somewhere else and drop it rather than tossing it if possible, when you do have to toss the snow pivot with your whole body rather than just your back.  

Clothing can also keep you safe when shoveling.   Having good boots will provide traction to help keep your feet on the ground because lifting isn't the only way to injure your back, slipping and falling can hurt too.  Good gloves can help keep your hands warm and also provide grip on the handle of the shovel so it doesn't slip and twist around in your hands.

A final thing to help keep you from injury would be to pace yourself.  You don’t win any medals for finishing your sidewalk or driveway first.  Moving smaller, manageable amounts of snow is better than trying to move big, strenuous scoopfuls.  If the snow is really deep, take if in a few loads by removing a few inches off the top before take a big scoop from the bottom.

A quick recap on staying safe this winter and many winters to come is using a light sturdy shovel, limbering up before braving the cold snow, bend with your knees and twist with your whole body, use  good boots and gloves, and pace yourself.  If you follow these guidelines your back will thank you and you’ll be able to shovel your way out of whatever Mother Nature will throw at us.

Thank you for your time and attention! Let's make it safe this Monday!

Dale Bromenshenkel
Demand Generation Specialist, Lift’n Buddy, a Southworth Company

Monday, February 9, 2015

Arc Flash


Arc flashes commonly take place when strong, high-amperage currents travel, or “arc”, through the air. This most commonly occurs when high voltage differences exist across a space between the conductors or ground. Many things can cause this flash including: buildup of dust or corrosion, dropping tools, accidental touching, and material failure to name a few. The flash results in extremely bright lights, serious burns, deafening sound blasts (~140 dB – loud as a gun), blast-forces (~2,000 lbs. / sq. ft), heat energy (up to 35,000 degrees F) l, and high-energy shrapnel (often molten metal) that is capable of vaporizing nearby materials, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). 

Clearly shown, due to the dangerous nature of an arc flash the injuries are serious, and can even result in death. The National Fire Protection Association states that between five and 10 arc flash incidents occur every day on the job in the United States alone.  These injuries can change a worker’s life forever – if they are lucky enough to survive!  As expected, these injuries can place a large financial burden upon a workplace as well due to the cost of downtime, equipment replacement, and medical care / legal fees that can add to an upwards of a couple million dollars.

Although this may be a scare to many, the good news is that it can be prevented. The Safety & Health Assessment & Research for Prevention (SHARP) Program at Washington State Department of Labor lays out the following “Hierarchy of Controls.” By adhering to these, a business can significantly reduce the chance of one of these serious accidents taking place. Their general safety process is to be implemented in the order below.

  • Elimination/Substitution – Jobs should be scheduled so that power sources can be de-energized, grounded and tested thereby eliminating the hazard. Also, in a fashion so that outdated or worn piece of electrical equipment be removed from service or a newer safer model replace it.
  • Engineering Controls – Prevent accidents by engineering barriers to dangerous locations. Locked electrical vaults and high fences around transformers are examples of engineering controls. 
  • Administrative Controls –An effective lockout program that includes all necessary training and equipment needed to implement it is an example of an administrative control. 
  • Work Practice Controls – These are matters of supervisor and worker knowledge, training and education. Does management set expectations for safe work practices? Do workers meet or exceed safety rules and best work practices? Do supervisors encourage and if necessary enforce safety rules and best practices? Is a culture of safety proactively endorsed and practiced by all levels of the organization? 
  • Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) – This is normally considered the least effective method of protection. However, sometimes PPE may be necessitated by administrative or work practice controls and by the potential hazards of the work being performed. For instance, wearing insulated gloves, fire resistant clothing and a face shield when working on energized electrical equipment. 

In some circumstances, even if a business is following these standards that SHARP provides, there is still a risk for an accident occurring and injuring the worker. If a worker is injured and still in contact with the energized unit – do NOT touch the victim, shut off the power and call 911. If for some reason one cannot de-energize the unit, remove the victim using non-conductive material. If burns have taken place - run cool, not cold, water over the burns and refrain from applying ointments, creams, or ice. Avoid from giving the victim any food or water and always make sure the victim sees a doctor following an electrical shock or burn. By following these steps, a business will reduce the risk of arc flashes in the workplace and know how to treat an injured worker if an injury happens to take place.

Thank you for your time and attention.  Let’s make it safe this Monday.

Kolton Larson 
Demand Generation Specialist, Lift’n Buddy, a Southworth Company

Monday, February 2, 2015

Distracted Driving


Technology is constantly improving and the ability to be constantly connected to everyone around you is becoming easier and easier with the use of more advanced smartphones, tablets, and computers. As another year begins our handheld technology continues to improve and the amount potential distractions while driving are more prominent than ever before. According to the official government website for distracted driving there was an estimated 421,000 injuries and over 3,000 fatalities due to distracted driving in 2012. Potential types of distractions include:

  • Texting
  • Phone Calls
  • Eating/Drinking
  • Talking to passengers
  • Doing your make up
  • Reading your directions/GPS
  • Adjusting your music

It’s important to remember that when you drive distracted that you’re not only putting your life at risk, but also the lives of everyone on the road with you. On average sending/receiving a text takes the driver’s eyes off the road for an average 4.6 seconds, which if you’re traveling at 55mph is equivalent to driving the length of a football field blind. 

However, despite most people thinking that texting is the only thing that increases your chances of getting in a car accident, things like interacting with children in the backseat, talking on the phone, and looking at your GPS are all also commonly attributed to distracted driving accidents.

Despite the level of danger associated with distracted driving, millions of people still continue to text, call, etc. and drive. It’s important to remember that it can wait. Responding to texts, answering the phone, or distracting yourself in any way is not worth the risk of potentially injuring or killing yourself or those around you. Ignoring distractions can’t kill you, indulging in them can.

Thank you for your time and attention.  Let’s make it safe this Monday.

Christopher Feigal
Demand Generation Specialist, Lift’n Buddy, a Southworth Company

Monday, January 26, 2015

What is GHS?


The use of chemicals is key piece to businesses and economies worldwide. In fact, chemicals are all around us and directly affect our food, lifestyle, and health. It is because of their widespread use that the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS), was developed. According to, the GHS is a system for standardizing and harmonizing the classification and labeling of chemicals. In addition to the labels, (Material) Safety Data Sheets (SDS) may also be required to provide information on potential hazards and how to work safely with the chemical product.

Hazards or dangers associated with certain chemicals are classified into three main GHS classifications.  These are the GHS Physical Hazards (explosives, flammable gases, self-reacting substances, etc.), GHS Health and Environment Hazards (eye effects, skin irritation, sensitization, etc.), and environmental hazards such as chemicals hazardous to the Aquatic Environment. These are however very flexible and multiple classes can be administered to certain hazards or dangers.

The next step after classifying a chemical is to communicate the hazard(s) to the respective market. This is where the SDS and labels come into play. They provide the hazardous properties of chemicals that may pose a health, physical or environmental hazard during normal handling or use, according the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). OSHA also provides the following standardized label elements to be included in the GHS: 

  • Symbols (hazard pictograms): Convey health, physical and environmental hazard information, assigned to a GHS hazard class and category.
  • Signal Words: "Danger" or "Warning" are used to emphasize hazards and indicate the relative level of severity of the hazard, assigned to a GHS hazard class and category.
  • Hazard Statements: Standard phrases assigned to a hazard class and category that describe the nature of the hazard. 
  • Precautionary Statements and Pictograms: Measures to minimize or prevent adverse effects.
  • Product Identifier (ingredient disclosure): Name or number used for a hazardous product on a label or in the SDS. 
  • Supplier identification: The name, address and telephone number should be provided on the label.
  • Supplemental information: non-harmonized information.

There are a multitude of benefits that come from utilizing GHS in the chemical world such as reduced costs due to fewer accidents and illnesses, as well as improving a businesses image and credibility to list a couple. By having the information available on hazardous properties of chemicals, human health and the environment can be rightfully protected. There will be a greater understanding of potential hazards, which will result in safer use of chemicals in the workplace and home. 

Thank you for your time and attention.  Let’s make it safe this Monday.

Kolton Larson
Demand Generation Specialist, Lift’n Buddy, a Southworth Company

Monday, January 19, 2015

Keep Your Garage Running Smooth


Does your workplace have a garage or vehicle service area? Garages can be extremely dangerous due to the many different types of hazards present. Large moving vehicles are only that start of the dangers that you might encounter in a typical garage. Most garages contain some form crushing hazard from lifting equipment such as a vehicle hoist or floor jack. Vehicles require maintenance on a regular basis to continue running properly which means there will be numerous chemicals such as motor oil, solvents, or gasoline.  Make sure you keep your employees and customers safe by following these simple tips.

Stay Organized: With an abundance of sharp, heavy, and flammable objects the lack of organization is the leading cause of garage injuries.

Keep Hazards Separated: Designate separate areas for operations such as welding, cleaning, painting, lubricating, and battery maintenance.   

Good Ventilation: Running engines produce carbon monoxide which can lead to headaches, sleepiness, and even death.

Adequate Lighting: A well-lit garage will make spotting dangerous objects and areas much easier. 

Emergency Response: Keep first aid kits fully stocked and easily accessible. Also have fire extinguishers, eyewash stations, and emergency showers available.

Take Out The Trash: Empty trash containers regularly and discard rags or towels soaked with flammable materials in approved metal containers.

Wash Your Hands: Provide a clean lunchroom and washroom that are separate from the work area to prevent harmful contaminants from your hands going into your mouth. 

Proper Tool Usage: Only use tools for their intended purpose and regularly inspected for damage and proper maintenance requirements. 

Attire: Requiring steel toed shoes, safety glasses, long sleeve shirts, and gloves in work areas can steeply reduce the amount of injuries reported. 

Garages can be a dangerous place, which is why it is important to practice garage safety. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, automotive service technicians and mechanics have a much higher rate of injuries compared with the national average. If you follow these safety tips it will keep your garage and your vehicles running smooth.

Thank you for your time and attention.  Let’s make it safe this Monday.

Brad Lindemann
Sales Coordinator, Lift’n Buddy, a Southworth Company

Monday, January 5, 2015

It's Time For A Nap


When I was younger I always thought days off during the holidays were supposed to be a time to kick back, relax and catch up on some much needed sleep… I’m not sure about the rest of you but I feel like I need some time off to recover from my time off. Did anyone have last minute shopping to do in stores packed with other last minute shoppers? How many people had their in-laws stay with them a few too many days? Or did you take the family on an 8 hour road trip to Grandma’s house and needed to stop every 30 miles for a bathroom break? Holidays are a very stressful time and it is very likely that you’re more sleep deprived now than before they started. 

With the world more connected than ever, businesses are expected to operate around the clock. This means employees are expected to work longer hours, work from home at night, on weekends, and during holidays. This makes it difficult for individuals and families to maintain a healthy sleep schedule. When holidays are thrown into the mix our routines tend to get completely messed up. 

Certain jobs demand your alertness and full concentration. Operators of public transportation, airline pilots and truck drivers are just a few of the jobs that require you to be fully awake and aware. It has been determined by investigators that sleep deprivation played a major role in the Chernobyl nuclear meltdown, Exxon Valdez oil spill and the space shuttle Challenger explosion. These three high profile incidents alone cost people their lives, billions in damages and incalculable environmental damage. Your job might not be as crucial as controlling a nuclear power plant, but a lack of sleep will have a major effect on your performance. Lack of concentration and memory lapses will increase the risk of accidents while decreasing your efficiency and output. You will be a less effective team member and your co-workers will notice your irritability level and mood swings.

There are ways to get back on track and achieve a better night’s rest. Grasping your circadian rhythm is one of the most important strategies for achieving a good night’s sleep. This means that you need to set a regular bed time and wake up time and adhere to it daily (this includes weekends). If you stick to a routine you’ll find that you’ll wake up naturally as opposed waking up to an alarm clock. If you still need an alarm and feel groggy in the morning you may need to set an earlier bed time. Make sure you get plenty of sun light during the day and try to exercise a little to tire yourself out. Avoiding large meals, caffeine and alcohol in the evenings might also help you avoid those restless nights.  You can easily educate yourself online by going to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) or National Sleep Foundation (NSF) websites.

Although January 1st has come and gone it’s never too late to make a 2015 resolution to get more sleep. Your friends, family and coworkers will appreciate your new restful attitude. By the holiday season next year you will be rested and ready to tackle those delightful in-laws, crowded shopping malls and long car rides.

Thank you for your time and attention.  Let’s make it safe this Monday.

Brad Lindemann
Sales Coordinator, Lift’n Buddy, a Southworth Company