Monday, March 23, 2015

Aerial Lift Safety


According to the Electronic Library of Construction Occupational Safety and Health, every year an average of 26 constructor workers die while using aerial lifts. These fatalities most commonly occur from falls, electrocutions, or collapses / tip-overs. Around 70% of these fatalities occur while using boom lifts, while 25% occur while using scissor lifts. It’s important to realize what the potential dangers are while operating aerial lift equipment and to take the necessary precautions to minimize any potential risks. 

There are some basic safety recommendations given by the Center for Construction Research and Training that are important to remember while operating aerial lifts. When working with or near electricity it’s important that you abide by the following guidelines:

  • Anyone not electrically trained should stay at least 10 feet away from any live overhead power lines. 
  • Avoid any sudden movements while controlling the aerial lift to avoid accidental contact with live power lines.
  • Always follow OSHA guidelines for both wearing the proper electrical safety gear and using the properly insulated tools when necessary. 

When it comes to the safe operational use of aerial lifts, OSHA has an extensive list of proper safety requirements and recommendations. Some of the main requirements and recommendations are listed below:

  • Every worked involved in the operation of an aerial lift must be trained by a properly qualified individual.
  • Workers shall always stand firmly on the floor of the lift basket, and shall not sit or climb on the edge of the basket. 
  • A body belt shall be worn and attached to the basket while working in a lift. 
  • The aerial lift truck shall not be moved when the lift is in an elevated position with workers in the basket. 
  • All manufacturer set weight and load limits shall not be exceeded. 

For more extensive rules and regulations visit the following OSHA webpage: (

It’s important to remember that no matter how confident you feel, that there is always a chance of making a mistake. When operating aerial lifts or other construction equipment, overconfidence can very quickly result in injury or death. Always follow the proper safety procedures and remember that your well-being is more important than spending a few less minutes accomplishing the task at hand.

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, March 16, 2015

Heavy Lifting Techniques and Tips


Improper lifting techniques may result in many health issues, but the most common is back related injuries. Back injuries can be extremely painful and once they occur, they can be hard to heal and leave long lasting effects. The best option is avoiding situations that could put unnecessary strain on your back. One way of doing that is using proper lifting techniques. 

Proper lifting techniques are extremely important when lifting heavy, bulky, or awkwardly shaped objects.  There are several things you can do while lifting to ensure the minimum chance of injury. One of these things is keeping a wide base of support.  Your feet should be shoulder-width apart and one of your feet should be slightly ahead of the other.  This will ensure that you disperse the weight of the object evenly to your feet and that you don’t fall or stumble when picking it up.

Another tip is to keep proper posture when lifting the object. Your posture starts when you bend down to initially get a hold of the object. When bending down it is important to bend with your knees and keep your back straight, when bending down and when actually lifting the object.  Your legs have some of the strongest muscles in them. If you use these muscles rather than your back muscles it will take a huge amount of stress off your back. A tip when bending down is to keep your head up and looking forward. This will greatly help with keeping your back straight and forcing you to bend with your knees.

When lifting the object you have to make sure you have a solid grip on it in a position that will not hurt your hands. Also, lifting slowly helps you from jerking up and causing the object to slip away or causing harm to your back. If an object could cut or put undistributed pressure on your hands, it is best to use gloves with good grips to help protect them. There is also no shame in asking for help when lifting an object.  Some things are just too much to handle for one person, just make sure your partner uses proper lifting techniques too. 

When carrying the object it is important to move at a safe pace.  Don’t run or move too quickly, this could result in dropping the object or tripping. When walking with the object try your best to hold it as closely as possible to you.  This usually happens without even thinking about it, but when you do it, it keeps your center of balance closer to normal. When carrying, avoid twisting your torso. 
Twisting adds extra stress on your lower back and could cause injury.  

When setting down the object it is important to use similar techniques to when you picked it up. Bend with your knees again, while having your feet shoulder-width apart and one slightly ahead of the other.  Be careful when setting the object down not to squish your fingers. When setting down an object with a partner, make sure you are moving at the same time to ensure no one drops it. Following these techniques and tips will greatly help reduce injury and keep you lifting healthier longer.      

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, March 9, 2015

Workplace Tobacco Policies


Across the world toady, tobacco use is the cause of nearly 5 million deaths per year according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Furthermore, cigarette smoking is among the lead in preventable cause of death in the United States, being held responsible for an estimated 438,000 deaths per year, or roughly one out of every five deaths. Tobacco use can also lead to a long list of complicated diseases, including: cardiovascular and cerebrovascular diseases, multiple cancers, emphysema, and bronchitis. Second-hand smoke is also responsible for numerous pediatric illnesses.

In addition to the negative side effects of tobacco use, the estimated costs of smoking-related medical expenses and loss of productivity are well over $167 billion annually (CDC). Employers experience a significant share in this overall cost as well. A recent analysis performed by Tobacco Control found that employees who smoke cost an employer $5,816 more than a non-smoking employee. They further state this is due to increased absenteeism, loss of productivity related to nicotine addiction, smoke breaks, and extra health care costs.

This is where implementing a tobacco-free workplace policy comes into play. There exists a long list of benefits that can be associated to a tobacco-free workplace.  The Capital District Tobacco Free Coalition (CDTFC) lists the benefits in their article titled, “Good Health is Good Business,” as:
  • Protects employees, visitors and clients from harmful effects of secondhand smoke exposure.
  • Lowers absenteeism due to smoking-related illnesses. People who smoke, on average, miss 6.2 days of work per year due to sickness compared to nonsmokers, who miss 3.9 days of work per year.
  • Increases worker productivity. Lost production time estimates for workers who report smoking or at least one pack of cigarettes per day were 75% higher than for nonsmoking employees or for employees who had previously quit.
  • May reduce direct healthcare costs. Employees exposed to secondhand smoke on the job are 12% to 19% more likely to get lung cancer. Exposure to secondhand smoke increases the risk of heart attack by 25% to 35%.
They also list extra benefits to tobacco free workplace policies such as reducing the risk of fires, reducing maintenance costs by eliminating litter, increase the number of smokers who are motivated to quit and promotes consistency and equity in how smoking and non-smoking employees are treated.

If you are interested in making your workplace tobacco-free, or are just simply interested in learning more about workplace tobacco policies, please contact the CDTFC at 518-459-2388 or at Together, they will help your business reach your tobacco-free policy goals by providing sample policies, sample employee outreach materials, FAQs, and so much more. By implementing workplace tobacco policies, you can put thousands of dollars back into your business and improve the lives of your employees.

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, March 2, 2015

Chemical Spills


When your workplace or home requires the use of chemicals it’s important to remember to be extra cautious. Never forget to follow all of the necessary safety and storage procedures to reduce any possible risk of injury or illness.  According to the University of Delaware, some of first steps you should take to reduce the chances of a chemical spill are, but not limited to:

  • Maintaining a neat and organized work area.
  • Storing liquid chemicals in secondary containment bins.
  • Keeping reagent chemical containers sealed or closed at all times, except when removing contents.
  • Using secondary containment to store and move chemicals.

While it’s important to have the proper training in place to prevent chemical spills, it’s also important to have the training to know how to react if a spill occurs. If a spill does occur, the first step you should take is identifying if the clean up is something you’re qualified to handle.  If the chemical spill is too large for you to handle or if it involves more than 500ml of any hazardous material, call for assistance immediately. If the chemical spill is a danger to personnel or involves any sort of toxic chemical, contact the appropriate emergency personnel immediately. 

However, if the chemical spill is minor you can appropriately clean up the spill yourself, assuming that you have the proper training and have access to the appropriate equipment. The type of clean up required is dependent on the type of chemical spill that occurs. The following steps are the most commonly used in the occurrence of a chemical spill:

  1. Identify if there is any danger to the people around you or yourself.
  2. If you know the spilled chemical is non-toxic and safe to approach: Start by setting up a perimeter around the spill area and by putting on the appropriate protective equipment.
  3. Spread a chemical spill powder over the spill. Start by pouring the powder around the edges of the spill and work your way to the center of the spill while making sure there is no free liquid.
  4. Once the liquid has been completely absorbed by the powder: Use a scoop to pick up the powder and to place the powder into an appropriate waste disposal bag.
  5. Wipe down the area with a wet paper towel and dispose of your gloves and paper towels into the same appropriate waste disposal bag. 

It’s important to realize that this guide is not a detailed guide to cleaning up all types of chemical spills. Each spill is different and should be handled differently depending on the specific chemical. If you ever have any doubt in your mind about how to handle a situation, call the appropriate emergency personnel and warn anyone who could be in danger. Both your safety and the safety of those around you is the number one priority. 

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 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