Monday, July 28, 2014

Implementing Change in Safety Equipment


Change in the workplace is one of the most difficult tasks that management can face.  Change can be scary for everyone and, at times, seemingly almost impossible to implement.  For those workers that have been doing the same tasks the same way for several years, change just doesn't make sense. When implementing new safety or ergonomic equipment, I have heard workers say, “I've been doing this for (insert number) of years and I have never been injured. I don’t need any lift equipment. I know how to lift the right way.” Or “It’s faster to use my two hands.” 

When I talk to these workers, it is interesting to get the whole story.  They may have been injured from lifting in the past, but attribute the injury to age or trying to work too quickly.  The idea of changing how they work is too bothersome to think about. Considering that one shoulder or back injury can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars with surgeries and replacement workers, changing safety and lifting processes is a worthwhile project.  

According to organizational change expert, Peter Senge, “People don’t resist change. They resist being changed.” He offers an eight-step change process:
  1. Create a sense of urgency around the need for change. Management must provide a compelling reason to change.  Senge believes 75 percent of a company’s leadership group must agree with the need to change in order for the change to be successfully implemented.  If there are injuries from lifting or lack of equipment, show the data and show specific examples of how folks in the workplace have been affected by current processes that are not working.
  2. Form a guiding coalition. Strong leadership is necessary to help implement the change. If the team respects leadership’s input, it will be better received.
  3. Create a vision for change.  A vision must be created to enthuse employees.  What is the direct benefit to the individual?  What is the overall strategy to make their jobs better/easier? 
  4. Communicate the vision. Don’t let the message become stagnant during the process of change.  Leaders must continue to practice what they preach and lead by example. Don’t drop of a piece of equipment and expect it to be used.  Make sure there is proper training and follow up on how it is being used and how often.
  5. Remove obstacles. Training within the leadership group is critical.  EHS managers may need to work with store managers to get them on board.  Remove old equipment that workers may fall back on because it’s what they know. Old equipment will impede progress of training with safer equipment.  Make the change a compensatory benefit to the team.
  6. Create short-term wins.  Building momentum is a key to long-term success.  Employees will need to see a benefit within six to 18 months to continue positive progress.  In the case of implementing lifting devices, talk to the employees about how they feel at the end of the day/week compared to when they lifted materials for a full shift/work week.  Show store or team leaders the reduction of injury incidents over the course of weeks and months due to new processes.
  7. Build on the change. Don’t stop the progress after one win.  Team members may tell leadership what they want to hear, but are the new safety products getting used when leadership members leave the building?  Set goals and follow-up schedules for continued successes.
  8. Anchor the changes in the corporate culture.  Safely lifting in the workplace by using better processes and equipment must become part of the corporate culture in order to continue the “good” behavior.  Corporate safety managers and team managers/store managers must be on board in order for the change to stay.
Although change in the workplace can be difficult, it has become the norm. Bringing in tools to help your employees can greatly benefit the workers overall and, long term, benefit the company’s bottom line.

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

Nikki Lamb
Sales Manager, Lift’n Buddy, a Southworth Company 

Monday, July 21, 2014

Spray Paint Safety


Spray paint is modern convince that has vastly improved the looks and quality of life over the last half century. In 1949 Edward Seymour was credited as the inventor of spray paint by adding paint to an aerosol can. Unlike using a brush or roller the aerosol spray paint leaves a smooth and even coat of paint. It even works great for uneven surfaces and can be applied to a variety of materials including wood, metal, and plastics.

Aerosol spray paint has become extremely popular because of the low price, the ease of use, and the portability of the cans. Because of the popularity, it is easy for consumers to overlook the negative trade offs that come with this convenience. Listed below are the safety concerns that you should read before tackling that next DIY project.

Never puncture or crush a spray paint can. Spray paint works by adding a compressed gas to a can filled with paint. When the valve cap is pressed the expanding gas forces the paint out through the nozzle. You must be cautious to never puncture the can because the internal pressure will cause it to explode. Not only does this result in a huge mess but pieces of metal will fly in every direction. This shrapnel can cause serious damage to the skin or eyes of anyone nearby.  

Store spray paint in a cool location and keep away from direct sunlight. Excessive heat from a hot car, a fire, or directly sunlight can cause the gases within the can to expand. When the can gets too hot it will rupture.

Do not use spray paint near sources of heat or fire. Be sure to remove all sources of ignition in your spraying area. This includes open flames, sparks, cigarettes, and pilot lights from stoves and heaters. Spray paint is very flammable and will combust quickly and violently. 

Always use spray paint in a well-ventilated area and use a proper respirator. Always paint in well-ventilated areas. When painting in doors be certain to open doors and windows to provide air circulation. Wearing eye protection will keep irritating paint and paint fumes out of your eyes. Inhaling paint fumes will cause nose and throat irritation along with headaches, dizziness, nausea, anxiety, and depression. Prolonged exposure can even result in liver and kidney damage. A respirator mask is highly recommended and can be found at most local hardware stores. 

Keep out of the hands of children. Children under the age of 18 should not be allowed to use or play with spray paint. The risks associated with improper use of spray paint may not be understood by a child. Graffiti is another reason why people under 18 should not be allowed unsupervised access to spray paint. Graffiti is popular among teenagers and can cause extensive property damage.

By following these simple guidelines you should be able to stay safe and keep your DIY projects looking great. 

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, July 14, 2014

Load Center


Unless you are a forklift operator it is unlikely you are familiar with the term “Load Center.” When using a lift truck or material handling lift such as a Lift’n Buddy it is vital to be aware of the load center to keep the machine stable. 

The easiest way to visualize the concept of a load center is by sticking your arm straight out. If you hang a weight from your elbow it will be much easier to maintain a straight arm than if you were to hang the weight from your fingers.  

This same principle applies to lift trucks. Let’s say a forklift is rated for 2000lbs at a 24in load center. This means the truck is capable of lifting a 48in pallet (24x2=48) that weighs 2000lbs as long as the load is against the back rest of the lifting platform. If you move the pallet away from the back rest the weight capacity will drop proportionate to how far out the load is placed. It is also important that the weight is uniform. If the 2000lb load has center of gravity near the front you will risk tipping the truck forward.  

Always remember that pallets and boxes may not be loaded to meet your lift trucks capacity ratings. You should always be mindful of your lift truck's capacity ratings, the weight of the load, and the weight distribution of the load. Operators that make a conscience effort to check these items will significantly decrease the chances of property damage, injury, or even death.   

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, June 23, 2014

Too Hot to Handle: Gas Grill Safety


Summer and grilling go hand and hand, and you want to make sure you’re doing it safely. When grilling with a gas grill, things can get dangerous in an instant. Here are a few steps to ensure that your meal won’t come out smoking. 

Step 1 It is very important to read and follow the manufacture instructions that came with your grill. Often the instructions that come with the grill with have a few safety tips of their own and they can be very helpful.

Step 2 A well-maintained grill is key to having a safe and delicious meal. Cleaning and replacing any worn out parts are the best ways to maintain your grill. Cleaning your grill can make a huge difference when it comes to preventing a fire. Grease and left over food particles can ignite and cause a grease fire. Empty and clean out the grease tray in your grill regularly to ensure it never causes a fire. Cleaning your grill thoroughly once or twice a year is highly recommended. While cleaning your grill make sure all the major parts are working like hoses, burners, and valves. 

Step 3 Make sure you are using gas or propane correctly. While hooking up the propane tank make sure to connect all of the fittings while following the manufacturers instructions. It is important to check for leaks every time that you connect the propane. An easy way to test this is to coat the fuel line with soapy water and then turn on the propane.  Coat the fuel line again, and if you see any bubbles check for worn part or tighten the connections. Then repeat this process until you can’t find any bubbles.

Step 4 When lighting your grill keep the lid open. This will prevent the gas from building up and stop it from flashing off. Then turn on the gas, and open a valve. Then proceed to igniting your grill. If the burner doesn’t ignite close the valve, leave the grill open, and wait five minutes before trying to ignite the grill again. If your burners go out while you are cooking turn all of the burners off. Then shut off the gas and wait five minutes before trying to relight your grill.

Step 5 When grilling always keep a safe distance from the grill to avoid being burned. Grease can drip from your food and cause a flare up that can burn you. It helps to use grill utensils that are made for grilling. They will help prevent you from burning yourself. It is always a good idea to keep a fire extinguisher close by, and incase of emergencies, have a burn kit close by your side. 

Step 6 Finally, now that you are done grilling, and you have made a delicious meal with out burning yourself it is time to close all the valves and turn off you propane.  Enjoy yourself! Have a wonderful time in the beautiful warm weather, and the great outdoors! 

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

Lucas Wertish
Demand Generation Specialist, Lift’n Buddy, a Southworth Company 

Monday, June 16, 2014

Tree Trimming


Does your home or business have a large tree or bush that needs to be pruned? Most people will find themselves in a situation at least once every couple of years when an overgrown shrub or tree may need to be trimmed for safety and aesthetic purposes. Most people aren't aware of the many hidden dangers than can accompany this simple task.

Tools- Always check for dull blades. An unsharpened clippers or saw is more likely to cause an injury due to the excessive force that needs to be applied when operating. There is an increased chance the tool will slip off the cutting surface or the tool could be damaged from using excessive force. Remember to turn off power tools when not in use. Sharp tools should be stored in a safe place out of the reach of children.

Protective gear- You should always were safety glasses and gloves when pruning. Long-sleeved shirts, long pants, hard hats, and steel-toed shoes are recommended for larger jobs with risks of falling limbs or being cut by sharp thorns. A dust mask may be necessary to prevent sawdust from being inhaled. 

Surroundings- Check bushes or trees for poisonous foliage like poison oak and dangerous insects such as bee’s nest before you begin working. Never turn your back to a falling tree and be on the alert for flying debris. Always be aware of the people and property in your work area. If a falling branch or tree might put a house or fence at risk it is best to call a professional. 

Climbing- If you need to climb a tree to get to a specific branch begin by checking the strength and stability of any limbs that will be supporting your weight. Make sure to use appropriate fall protection and never climb with tools in your hands.

Electrical lines- Never trim branches near a power line! Always assume that any power line is live even if it was taken down by a storm. Your utility company will send out a trained technician to remove these branches. The power company’s phone number can usually be located on your electric bill or on their website.

Follow this simple tips and both you and your yard will be looking happy and healthy this year.

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, June 9, 2014

Stop Sitting, Start Moving


Are you’re sitting down to read this? Don’t, it’s time to get off your chair and move around. Sitting is now considered one of the major causes of chronic disease in America. Researchers have discovered that prolonged sitting has a direct link to the disruption of our metabolic functions. Even people who have vigorous exercise routines will significantly shorten their lifespan by sitting at a desk for 8 hours a day. 

When you’re sitting, major muscle groups such as your legs and your core are not using energy. This causes your metabolism to slow down and increases the risk of diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and obesity. Sitting stationary for 40 hours a week and then extrapolated over months and years will take a huge toll on your health and well-being. 

There are actions you can take at work to prolong your life:
  • Go for a walk instead of having a meeting in your office or conference room. Walking meetings give you a chance to get some fresh air, they get the creative juices flowing, and successful CEOs such as Steve Jobs swore by them. 
  • Stand up while talking on the phone. Motion creates emotion; you’ll be more energetic and passionate about what you’re doing.
  • Is there an elevator or escalator in your office? If your answer is yes, then there are also stairs. Taking two flights of stairs daily helps you burn enough calories to lose 6 pounds a year. 
  • Take a 15 minute walk on your break instead of sitting in the break room. You can also do body squats, lunges, or stretches right at your desk to get the blood flowing.  
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, June 2, 2014

Weather the Storm: Tornado Safety


While summer does bring warm weather and clear skies, but it can also bring severe weather like Tornadoes. Every year 1,200 tornadoes hit the U.S., and on average cause 60 fatalities and $400 million dollars in damage is done. Tornadoes are very dangerous, and if you don’t know how to protect yourself in a storm it can have drastic results.

Severe thunderstorms are spontaneous and can produce a tornado in minutes. That is why you must be prepared, and know what to do if you find yourself in the path of a tornado.

If possible, find cover in a basement or cellar below ground. This will protect you from the wind and debris. If you don’t have a basement or cellar find shelter in the inner most part of the building. Put as many walls as possible between you and the outside of the building. Make sure to stay away from windows and doors. Once you have found your shelter find a sturdy object like a table and hide underneath it. Then cover your head and neck with your arms, and if possible find other objects to cover yourself like pillows and blankets. Helmets can be used for extra head protection.

If you are in a car, drive to the closest building to find shelter. If you can’t find shelter, pull your car to the side of the road, keep your seat belt on, and put your head below the windows. If you have any objects in your car like a blanket or jacket, use them as a cushion to protect your head. When pulling over on the side of the road do not park underneath an overpass, and never try to out run a tornado in an urban area.

If you aren't in a car and you are stuck outside, find the lowest point in the area, and lie face down with your hand over your head. Ditches are a common low point used for shelter. If you follow these tornado safety tips it can reduce your risk of injury or even death. 

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

Lucas Wertish
Demand Generation Specialist, Lift’n Buddy, a Southworth Company