Monday, July 29, 2013

Safety Gear

For thousands of years humans have created clothing to protect our bodies from harsh environments. Over the years we have continued to evolve by creating more effective wearable shelter. To this day we are still using science to push the boundaries in wearable safety. Today on Make-It-Safe Monday we are going to cover some safety items that will help you keep your body and appendages safe and increase your productivity.

One of the most common safety accessories is the steel toed shoe. Steel toed boots were invented by the Germans near the end of World War II. These boots have evolved and are no longer made only of steel, but can be reinforced by composite materials, aluminum or even plastic. The solid reinforcement in the shoe provides crush protection from falling objects and puncture resistance if a nail or sharp object is stepped on. Manufacturers now offer a wide variety of choices from cold weather boots to formal dress shoes that will be perfect for any situation.

High visibility clothing is a must for any industry that puts large machinery and workers in the same area. Bright fluorescent yellow and orange are the two most common colors for high visibility clothing. There are very few natural colors that mimic fluorescent yellow and orange which allows for a stark contrast between an individual and their surroundings. Reflective material applied to clothing is extremely important at night or in low light conditions. This allows someone with headlights or a spotlight to identify the contours of the human body. Reflective vests can be purchased relatively cheap that fit over existing clothes.   
Your hands are one of the most important features for interacting with and manipulating your environment. Glove companies sell many different sizes and types of hand protection for a wide range of applications. Puncture proof gloves can be a lifesaver for someone that works with thin sheets of aluminum or steel such as a home siding installer or law enforcement officer searching a suspected drug user. Gloves with knuckle protection can save a mechanic’s knuckles from deep cuts or broken bones when a wrench slips. Rubber insulated gloves will prevent electrocution for workers near electricity. It is important to find the right glove for the job and to find a pair that fits.

Be sure to account for seasonal changes in clothing. Employees working outdoors in cold climates should always dress in layers and remove excessive layers as needed.  Exposed skin can be susceptible to frostbite in a matter of minutes wintry weather. Advances in nanotechnology have created coatings that can be applied to fabric to deflect moisture and act as bug repellent. This is beneficial to keep clothes dry and prevent hypothermia. Bug repellent coatings will keep away mosquitoes that can carry diseases like Malaria and West Nile Virus. If an employee is working in hot areas it is best to have light colored fabric to reflect the sun's heat. Make sure that the clothing material is thin and breathable to dissipate body heat.

These are just a few examples of clothing options that can reduce work related injuries. The most important part of safety gear is making sure that it gets worn. If a logging company provides chain saw gloves to their employees but the workers leaves them in their truck it was a wasted effort. The tools we have to keep us safe are only as good as the safety plan meant to enforce their use. 

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 22, 2013

Workers' Compensation


Every day in the United States thousands of employees are injured in work related accidents. Most injuries are minor cuts or scrapes but a large percentage can lead to significant disfiguring, paralysis, or even death. In 2011, an average of almost 13 people died everyday in work related accidents according to OSHA. When injuries do happen it can be very stressful for both the employee and their family.  The last thing anyone wants to do is research what programs are available to provide for yourself and your family in times of crisis. It is best to have a basic knowledge of what options you and your family have before the unthinkable happens.

Workers' compensation is a combination of health, disability, and life insurance that employers are required to provide for their employees. Employers pay premiums for this insurance and cannot require the employee to contribute to the cost of the expense. It does not matter who is at fault in a claim, whether it is the claimant, a coworker, or the employer. The amount of compensation received will not decrease if the claimant was at fault. The insurance provides coverage to the employee and in exchange the employee gives up their right to sue the employer for negligence. That is unless the employer is in violation of OSHA laws or fails to fix a known hazard. A worker will lose their right to compensation if it is determined the injury was a result of intoxication from drugs or alcohol, or if they had intent to injure themselves or someone else. Damages related to pain and suffering or punitive damages related to employer negligence is generally not available through workers' comp.

Workers' compensation has been available in multiple forms since early 1900 across most of the US. It was first passed in Maryland in 1902, based on successful implementations in Europe where it was designed to reduce the need for litigation and take the burden off the employee to prove the employer was at fault.  

Each state is allowed to structure its program in the best way it sees fit. Some states, such as North Dakota and Ohio, have state run monopolies while other states have a hybrid of public and private coverage options. States like West Virginia and Nevada have completely privatized their system after their programs became significantly underfunded. Because programs are run on state by state basis, it is best to check with your local authority to get answers on any questions you may have.

Fraud is rampant in this industry by both employers and employees costing billions of dollars every year in false claims and unpaid premiums. Employees will often fake injuries or get hurt outside of work but claim they were on the job to take advantage of the benefits. For this reason, employers may fight an employee’s claim for compensation payments. It is in the employer’s best interest to have fewer claims or they risk an increase in their premiums. In the event of a contested case or serious injury, a lawyer that specializes in worker’s compensation claims should be consulted. Most states limit a claimant’s legal expenses to a maximum percentage of the reward. Employers also commit fraud by underreporting what their employee’s earn and claiming to have more experienced workers to give the impression of less risk and to lower their premiums.

Contact your state officials for more detailed information on your local workers' compensation laws. Your state’s website can be a great resource for local laws and contact information. Work safe and always take appropriate preventative measures such as applying warning labels or using tools like a Lift’n Buddy to ensure you are never involved in a workers' compensation claim.

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 15, 2013

Strengthen Your Core


Six pack abs are more useful than showing off at the beach. The abdominal muscles provide stability to the spine and the entire upper body. The phrase, “'lift with your legs, not with your back” is worthless is if your spine is not supported by the other muscles in your body. A US Army study found that the soldiers who were able to perform the most sit-ups during their initial standard fitness tests were 5 times less likely to suffer lower body injuries. Learning how to strengthen your abs and teaching yourself to keep your back straight when lifting will lower your risk of pulling a ligament or damaging a disc.

To best illustrate the proper technique for a supported spine you will want to stand straight up and be sure not to slouch. Push your gut and pelvis forward while contracting the abdominal muscles. You should feel slightly more support in the lumbar area of your back. Maintaining this posture when lifting will allow your spine to stay in its most supported position. This may take some time to master as your muscles may not be used to this type of movement. With repeated use your brain will retain the muscle memory and naturally prevent injuries. You can use the following exercises and stretches to build muscle memory and strengthen your core.

Lying Hip Thrusts: Lay down in the sit-up position with your feet flat on the floor. Thrust your pelvis into the air while leaving your shoulders and feet in contact with the floor. Do as many repetitions as necessary and trying holding this position for extended periods of time.

Crunches: Lay on the floor in the sit-up position. With your feet and butt firmly on the floor role your shoulders blades off the ground and try to touch your chin to the ceiling. This exercise can easily be done every day at home or at the office.

Squats: Squats are one of the best ways to improve your balance and strengthen your core. Using only your body weight, stand with your feet shoulder with apart. Push your pelvis forward and tighten your abdominal muscles. Lower yourself as if you were sitting in a chair maintaining this same posture. Remember to keep your butt out and chest proud. Your weight should be in the heels of your feet and your knees should not extend passed your toes. You can add weight when you feel comfortable with the technique. 

Stretching 1: While on all fours arch your back up and down as if you are mimicking a scared cat or a cat ready to pounce.

Stretching 2: Lay flat on the floor and push your upper body off the ground while leaving your hips in contact with the ground. It should look like you are impersonating a seal.

Remember to always consult your physician before preforming any exercises. Additional training and strengthening guides can easily be found with a simple internet search. The most important thing is to always use proper techniques and the right tools such as the Lift’n Buddy to ensure that your body stays in great shape for years to come. 

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 1, 2013

Think Tidy


Accidents and injuries are caused by numerous situations at work but cleanliness is often overlooked. A wet floor or foreign object laying in a walkway can cause huge problems for someone carrying a heavy box with an obstructed view. Today on Make-It-Safe Monday we are going to cover a few simple suggestions that will ensure your work place is accident free.

Slippery Floors:
Slippery floors are a nightmare for any unsuspecting passersby. A wet floor is often hard to notice and even harder when your view is obstructed by the object your carrying. Wet floors are caused by multiple factors including spilled drinks or food, leaky roofs, or snow on shoes. It is a good idea to place water absorbing mats at all entry points to with a sign indicating to wipe your feet. Have a designated area such as a break room for consuming food or drinks. Slippery when wet signs should clearly indicate where wet conditions exist. This will allow maintenance to clean up the affected area and fix the cause or leak.  

Clearly Mark Obstacles:
Pillars, obstacles, and obtrusions should be marked with highly reflected neon tape. If you have stairs, any change in elevation, trip hazards, or change in flooring (concrete to gravel, tile to carpet) it should be marked with neon tape along with an overhead sign indicating to watch your step. It is a great idea to apply non-skid tape to any stairs or inclines to avoid slipping.

Cleaning Schedules and Rules:
Signs should be placed in clearly visible areas with procedures and expectations regarding the timely cleanup of spills and debris. If your company does not have a dedicated cleaning or maintenance crew a roster should be created to assign specific clean up duties as frequently as needed. These duties should be signed off on by a supervisor to ensure a safe and clean work environment.

Always remember to slow down and watch where you are going! Hand trucks and lifting devices such as the Lift’n Buddy can dramatically reduce slipping and falling injuries and more information can be found at Implementing these few items will ensure your employees make it home safe each day.

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

Brad Lindemann
Sales Coordinator, Lift'n Buddy, a Southworth Company.