Monday, November 24, 2014

Heads Up! For Head Injuries


Head injuries (also known as traumatic brain injuries) have become one of the most dangerous and common injuries present in today’s society. Although most people generally associate head injuries directly to sports, that is not always the case. In fact, the majority of head injuries occur as a result of incidental falls, vehicle-related collisions, and accidents at home, work, and the outdoors. From a minor bump on the head, to a severe concussion, all injuries should be taken seriously in order to prevent further damage such as permanent disability, or even death.

According to The Center for Head Injury Services, there are 2 million traumatic brain injuries each year, of which 500,000 require hospital admission.  In the United States alone, 75,000 – 100,000 people die from severe head injuries each year.  The majority of the deaths come as a result of further injury to the brain without allowing proper time for it to heal. In order to prevent further injury, it is important for one to fully understand and be able to recognize the symptoms associated with common head injuries.

Symptoms commonly associated with a head injury include, but not limited to:

  • Confusion: A person may act confused, not being able to remember the events leading up to the injury or right after.  They may also not be able to think clearly and appear to have a puzzled look on their face.
  • Drowsiness: If the injury is serious enough, they may lose consciousness for a short period of time and be hard to wake up.  Once the person wakes up, they may be dizzy and appear to be “out of it.” 
  • Nausea and Vomiting: In serious cases of head injuries, the patient will become very nauseous and be subject to vomiting.  
  • Vision Changes: There will often be a “fireworks display” shown over their vision of bright flashing lights. On top of this, the vision may become clouded or severely blurry.

Although these are only a few symptoms for head injuries, they are the most common and easily to detect. It is important to know that not all head injuries can be prevented.  However, by using proper safety equipment (seat belts, helmets, hard hats, etc.) during potential activities that could cause a head injury, one will minimize their risk for injury. 

The biggest way of preventing further serious injury is to pay close attention to these symptoms. If you notice someone displaying these symptoms, or are experiencing them yourself, it is crucial to seek medical attention as soon as possible. For severe symptoms, contact 9-1-1 or your local medical provider. 

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, November 17, 2014

Holiday Fire Safety


With Thanksgiving only a few weeks away, it’s important to remember how to be extra cautious this holiday season. According to the United States Fire Administration, home fires are more prevalent in winter than in any other season; some of the main causes of winter house fires are: electrical issues, heating equipment, cooking accidents, and candles. 

According to the NFPA (National Fire Protection Association), from 2011 alone, there was an estimated 47,000 home structure fires that involved some type of electrical failure or malfunction. These fires resulted in over 418 civilian deaths and over 1500 injuries.  Also in 2011, there was an estimated 53,000 home fires caused by heating equipment, 39,000 from cooking accidents, and another 10,000 from candles. These incidents resulted in many casualties and thousands of injuries. 

Some basic fire safety tips for the holiday season are, but not limited to:

  • Don’t overload electrical outlets or extension cords.  During the holiday season it’s easy to try and plug in an abundance of decorative lights into one extension cord to decorate your holiday tree. Try to use multiple outlets to power your tree to reduce the likelihood of an electrical fire that could start your tree or even your house on fire.
  • Don’t leave portable heaters running while unattended. Portable heaters (Space Heaters), account for a significant amount of fires per year. Turn off any portable heating appliances when leaving your home or going to sleep at night. Always have at least 3 feet of clearance between heating equipment and anything that could burn.
  • Never leave cooking food unattended on the stovetop. The holiday season can be a hectic time of life. When you’re trying to get everything ready at once it’s important to remember safety. Make sure there is always someone watching your stovetop while you’re cooking to make sure no unexpected fires break out. 
  • Install and maintain working smoke detectors. According to the National Weather service, many home fire deaths occur in houses that don’t have working smoke detectors. Check your smoke detectors on a monthly basis, making sure to replace batteries as needed. 

These are just a few of the many things you can do to reduce the chance of a fire in your home this holiday season. For more ideas and potential fire hazards, please visit the National Fire Protection Association website or contact your local Fire Marshall.  

We know it’s easy to cut corners when you’re in a rush and getting ready for your whole extended family to show up at your doorstep.  Just remember, no matter how much you clean up or how good you think your meal tastes, if you risk burning down the house in the process, it isn’t worth it.  We wish you all a safe and happy holiday season. 

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, November 10, 2014

Put On Those Safety Goggles


We all can relate to the common “grumble” that occurs when requested to wear safety goggles in the workplace.  Whether they are severely uncomfortable or just plain ugly, workers today are not always aware of the importance of eye protection on the job. Nearly three out of five injured workers were not wearing eye protection at the time of the accident or were wearing the wrong kind of eye protection for the job. This not only puts a hurt in one’s eye, but in a businesses pocket as well. According to EHS Today, eye injuries alone cost more than $300 million per year in lost production time, medical expenses and worker compensation. Although this is a significant amount of money, the good news is that your company can easily avoid this by implementing proper eye protection measures in the workplace.

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), states, “the majority of workplace eye injuries are caused by small particles or objects striking or abrading the eye.” Some common particles or objects to be cautious of are:
  • Metal slivers
  • Wood chips or dust
  • Splashes from grease or oil
  • Ultraviolet or infrared radiation exposure

Often times these particles find their way into one’s eye by flying through the air; however, each and every business is different and provides different risks for their workers. The type of eye protection that should be utilized greatly depends on the types of dangers involved. American Optometric Association has a standard guideline to reference which eye protection is best:
  • If you are working in an area that has particles, flying objects, or dust, you must at least wear safety glasses with side protection (side shields).
  • If you are working with chemicals, you must wear goggles.
  • If you are working near hazardous radiation (welding, lasers, or fiber optics) you must use special-purpose safety glasses, goggles, face shields, or helmets designed for that task.

As an employer, it is important to assess which type of environment your business is subject to and then attempt to remove or reduce eye hazards where possible.  It is also the employer’s responsibility to provide the appropriate safety eyewear and require the employees to wear it.  One way to help improve employee compliance is to provide a comfortable and stylish form of eye protection that workers will be content with wearing all day long. By following these simple eye safety guidelines one will greatly reduce the risks of eye injuries in their respective workplace.

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, November 3, 2014

It's Time to Tackle Stress at Work


Stress is a widely accepted aspect of the workplace; you often have countless things to get done and countless deadlines to meet. You have coworkers, clients, and bosses who are all depending on you to get everything done. Some workplace stress is normal and unavoidable; however, excessive stress can interfere with your physical and emotional health and often times you have little or no control over your workplace responsibilities. Luckily, this doesn’t mean you have no control over managing your stress level.

It is often difficult to recognize the warning signs of excess stress vs. the signs of normal stress. Some of the signs and symptoms you should look out for are: 

  • Feeling anxious, irritable, or depressed
  • Problems sleeping and/or fatigue
  • Trouble concentrating and/or getting headaches more than usual
  • A loss of interest in work or other daily activities

Often times these symptoms are caused by the fear of being laid off, excessive overtime, rising expectations, or excessive pressure to work at a high level at every moment. Most of us will face one or more of these issues at some point throughout our career and it’s important to know what we can do to best handle the stress that comes with these issues. 

A few steps you can take to reduce stress levels are, but not limited to: 

  • Exercise Daily. Regular exercise is a powerful stress reliever; it’s an effective way to lift your mood, increase your energy, and relax both your mind and your body. 
  • Eat Healthy.  Eating healthy balanced meals throughout stressful days can help your body maintain a healthy blood sugar level and increase energy. 
  • Get Enough Sleep. This can be tricky due to the fact that excessive stress often leads to problems sleeping. However, a lack of sleep can often cause even more stress. Research ways to keep a consistent sleep schedule and aim for 8 hours of sleep per night. 
  • Stay Organized. Staying organized can help you properly prioritize projects, and balance out your schedule. Make sure to make ‘to-do’ lists, break projects up into smaller steps, and delegate responsibility if possible. Plan time throughout your day to take short breaks to relax and recharge. 
  • Realize When You’re Getting Stressed. Being able to recognize your stress level rising is a very valuable tool. Attempt to be more aware of your emotions and their impact on your mood. If you feel like you’re starting to get overly stressed out, take a short break and do something to sooth your emotions. 

There are many more methods to reducing stress; however, we’re all unique individuals. It’s important to figure out what methods work best for reducing the stress in your life. 

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, October 27, 2014

Heavy Lifting Safety


In the world of material handling, it is common that workers may be subject to lifting heavy products on a daily basis. How to properly lift an item may seem like a no-brainer, but in fact back injuries are one of the leading causes of time off. In 2001, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that over 36 percent of injuries involving missed workdays were the result of shoulder and back injuries.  The majority of back injuries occurring at the workplace involve using bad posture while lifting or by attempting to lift a load that is too heavy for their own strength.  Today we are going to give a brief reminder on how to properly lift heavy objects in the workplace, in attempts to minimize avoidable lower back injuries. 

Expert orthopedic medical doctor, Jonathan Cluett, sets out an easy to follow guideline on lifting heavy materials:

  1. Plan ahead before lifting. Always be sure that you are aware of your surroundings before lifting a heavy object.  Make sure there are no obstructions on your path and that everyone is on the same page if you are lifting with a partner.
  2. Lift close to your body. You will be a stronger, and more stable lifter if the object is held close to your body rather than at the end of your reach. Make sure you have a firm hold on the object you are lifting, and keep it balanced close to your body. 
  3. Feet shoulder width apart. A solid base of support is important while lifting. Holding your feet too close together will be unstable, too far apart will hinder movement. Keep the feet about shoulder width apart and take short steps. 
  4. Bend your knees and keep your back straight. Practice the lifting motion before you lift the object, and think about your motion before you lift. Focus on keeping you spine straight--raise and lower to the ground by bending your knees. 
  5. Tighten your stomach muscles. Tightening your abdominal muscles will hold your back in a good lifting position and will help prevent excessive force on the spine. 
  6. Lift with your legs. Your legs are many times stronger than your back muscles--let your strength work in your favor. Again, lower to the ground by bending your knees, not your back. Keeping your eyes focused upwards helps to keep your back straight. 
  7. If you're straining, get help. If an object is too heavy, or awkward in shape, make sure you have someone around who can help you lift.
  8. Wear a belt or back support. If you are lifting in your job or often at home a back belt can help you maintain a better lifting posture.

The biggest thing to take out of today’s blog is don’t overdo it! Do not ever try to lift something too heavy for you, as this is when the potential for injury is highest. If you find that you are incapable to lift a certain load, do not hesitate to seek assistance and get help.  By refreshing your knowledge with these simple tips, you will be taking the necessary steps to a healthy lower back.

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, October 20, 2014

Ladder Safety 101


Sometimes one of the biggest safety issues is too much confidence; thinking that you will never get hurt can often lead to cutting corners and increasing your risk of injury. Climbing ladders is one of the activities that are often a source of injury due to over-confidence. 

According to the CDC, in 2011 there were 113 fatal and close to 50,000 nonfatal ladder fall injuries. These incidents occurred from fall heights of less than 6 feet to greater than 30 feet. You can see most of the height data in the graph below:  

Figure taken from (Occupational Ladder Fall Injuries, 2011)

There are many steps you can take to keep yourself safe while using ladders. Some of the most practical steps you can take are:

  • Make sure your workers are trained. This is often overlooked.  No matter how confident you or your workers are about using ladders, it’s still important to step back and make sure the risks and hazards are fully understood. 
  • Select the Right Ladder. There are many different types of ladders for different types of situations. Ladders also have a Duty Rating, which is given to them by the manufacturer to state the maximum amount of weight that can be safely supported.  
  • Examine Your Surroundings/Safe Setup. Make sure you’re not setting up your ladder in a common walkway so that it’s a tripping hazard. Also, be sure to place the base of the ladder on a level, un-moveable surface. According to the American National Standards Institute, non-self-supporting ladders should be set up at an angle of 75.5 degrees to give the most amount of resistance to sliding while providing additional balance.
  • Climb Slowly & Safely. Always face the ladder when climbing and maintain three points of contact at all times. You need all four of your appendages to keep you safe while climbing. Do not use one to carry something with you; use a rope or pulley system to pull up any equipment you might need. Never overextend yourself from the ladder to try to reach something. If your body extends over the side rail you can cause the ladder to fall over. 
  • Think Before Acting. “I can’t quite reach that nail from here, should I climb down and move the ladder a few feet over so I don’t have to overextend my reach?” Yes. “It’s getting windy, should I wait till the weather calms down to continue working?” Yes. “The ladder doesn't feel totally safe, should I climb down and double check I’m on a level and sturdy surface?” Yes. You can never be too cautious when it comes to your safety. 

Too often the most common safety issues can be fixed by just slowing down, identifying potential hazards, fixing those hazards, and proceeding cautiously. We highly encourage you to take this approach when working with every aspect of your life.  

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, October 13, 2014

Tips for Staying Healthy This Fall


It is no surprise that fall weather is fast approaching. The leaves are starting to change colors, the days are becoming shorter, and the air has a certain coolness to it.  Now although there are many changes in the seasons from summer to fall, there are also many changes that may take place in ones health during this time. This can be easily noticed by the numerous sniffles and coughs that are present in the workplace during the fall and winter months!

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, viral illnesses are most commonly acquired and spread in the months of September through April. When an employee becomes sick with an illness, not only is he or she under the weather, but the employer and business is now losing money as a result!  It is estimated by the Center for Disease and Control that US businesses loose roughly $10.4 billion dollars in any given year related to employees getting the influenza virus.  Have no fear though; today we are going to discuss the common illnesses found during these months and tips on how to prevent these diseases.  

Common Illnesses in the Fall
According to Kristina Duda, R.N., Cold and Flu expert, common illnesses include:

The Common Cold
Influenza (The Flu)
Ear Infections
Gastroenteritis (Stomach Flu)
Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV)

Prevention of Diseases
The Center for Orthopedic Care in Bridgewater, NJ, gives out multiple tips on the prevention of these illness during peak cold and flu season:
  1. Wash your hands. In a world with public places teeming with contagious viruses and bacteria, our hands can be our greatest source of infection. We are always touching things with our hands and absentmindedly rubbing our eyes or putting food in our mouths which could be the introduction of an infection into our systems.
  2. Avoid sick people. It is important to remember that people with illnesses are often highly contagious. Try to avoid dealing with sick people altogether, but if it must be done, at least remember to wash your hands afterwards.
  3. Get plenty of sleep. Sleep allows your body to recharge and gives your immune system a chance to replenish after a long day of fighting off microscopic invaders. Failing to get enough sleep is setting your body up for easy access to infection.
  4. Cut back on the alcohol. Drinking alcohol monopolizes the resources that your body should use to prevent infections.
  5. Salt water has major benefits. Salt is a natural antibacterial agent. You can squirt salt water up your nose with a Neti Pot or use it to gargle. It cleans the bacteria-riddled mucus out of your nose and helps to fight respiratory infections.
  6. Drink lots of water. Your body will function better if not starved for its most important molecule. Your body is made up of about 60% water and is constantly using water for all vital processes. Replenish your body’s water supply to help yourself run at maximum capacity.
  7. Take vitamins and supplements. While many vitamins can be helpful supplements to your diet, Vitamin D is probably the most important, at least during the winter months. Vitamin D is absorbed into your body right from the sun’s rays, but in the winter months, more time is spent indoors than usual and supplements can help make up the difference.
  8. Eat your fruits and veggies. This helps vary your diet and allows you to get the vitamins with which fruits and veggies are rich. Giving your body the tools to stay healthy is half the battle, and eating fruits and veggies certainly does this.
  9. Try probiotics. These supplements contain live bacteria meant to balance the microflora (bacteria) in your digestive tract. By maintaining this balance, we leave ourselves less susceptible to infection.
  10. Listen to your body. Your body will give you a warning when it’s beginning to succumb to an infection. Whether that warning is a headache, a bad mood or feeling uncharacteristically tired, respond to these warnings by making sure you are keeping up with all the other tips.
It is important to be informed on these common illnesses present during the fall and upcoming winter months. By following these simple tips of prevention this cold and flu season, one will greatly increase the chances of keeping themselves (and others) from illness.  This will result in increased productivity in the workplace and a healthy, happy workforce!

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

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