Monday, March 31, 2014

Don't Let Allergies Ruin Your Spring


With the cold weather that has been sweeping the nation, it might be hard to believe that spring and warmer days are just around the corner. However, for many people such as myself, spring comes with the challenge of seasonal allergies. According to WebMD, “About 40 million people in the U.S. have some time of ‘indoor/outdoor’ allergy.” Seasonal allergies in the spring can be a major hassle for those who have to work in outdoor career fields such as farming, landscaping, roofing, and many others. Allergies treated improperly can lead to safety issues on the job site, for the allergic person and for their co-workers. 

Although there is no foolproof ‘cure’ for seasonal allergies, there are definitely options to make them less miserable. Things such as pollen, mold, dust, or chemical toxins and their byproducts can trigger allergies.  Some helpful tips for reducing your allergy symptoms include, but are not limited to: 
  • Discover your most effective allergy medicine. There are a few different over the counter options for seasonal allergies, and each medicine will perform differently. Experiment until you find the best option to reduce your symptoms.
  • Start taking your medication before spring arrives. According to WebMD, the time to start taking your medicine is late February, not late March. The time-frame is different depending on the climate you live in, however, once things start thawing, it will help you to start your medication before the pollen starts to peak. 
  • Change the air filter(s) in your company’s air system to reduce indoor allergies. This helps avoid having the air conditioning suck in pollen from outdoors and spread it throughout your business, because the filters aren't working well. 
  • If you work outside, consider wearing a face mask, especially if the pollen count is high that day, or if the company is doing work inside that is producing chemical gasses.  Be aware that if you need to filter out chemical toxins, you will need a different face mask from the ones that filter out dust and pollen.  You can check the pollen count online, or on an allergy based phone apps. When wearing a face mask, it might seem uncomfortable at first, however, it will help reduce the amount of pollen and reduce the effect of the inflammatory response caused by allergies. 
If allergies have made you miserable in the past, use these methods to reduce the effects. If the symptoms are still unbearable, see an allergist for alternative solutions. No one wants to dread going to work on a beautiful day; be prepared to reduce your allergies this spring.

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 24, 2014

Keeping it Cool - How to Handle Workplace Stress


Workplace stress is a very real thing that happens to many people. Having to meet quotas, balancing family life with work, and the ever-so-constant concern of money and how it's spent are all major issues that the typical worker has to deal with. Think you might be stressed? Here is a list of some of the common symptoms of workplace stress: 

Emotional symptoms
  • Negative or depressive feeling
  • Disappointment with yourself
  • Increased emotional reactions – more tearful or sensitive or aggressive
  • Loneliness
  • Loss of motivation, commitment and confidence
  • Mood swings

Mental Symptoms
  • Confusion, indecision
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Poor memory

Changes from your normal behavior
  • Changes in eating habits
  • Increased smoking, drinking or drug taking ‘to cope’
  • Mood swings affecting your behavior
  • Changes in sleep patterns
  • Twitchy, nervous behavior
  • Changes in attendance such as arriving later or taking more time off
  • Increase in errors and accidents
So how do you deal with workplace stress? All it requires is a little bit of patience and some self-confidence. Tackle each assignment you are given as a challenge and tell yourself that you WILL get each task done. Make sure to take frequent breaks from work when you feel it is needed. If you feel crammed in your cubicle then make a goal to get up out of your chair every hour and go on a little walk. You can even take your walk outside and get some fresh air. One of the most common causes for stress is a lack of fresh air and exercise. By going on a leisure walk outside you are killing two birds with one stone!

Another really helpful thing to do in order to defeat stress is to consider your diet. Have you been consuming unhealthy amounts of sugary foods? All of that sugar causes the human body to feel bogged down after a while. Though the initial rush of caffeine might make you feel good, the crash afterwards is often very rough. Start eating healthy snacks instead such as fruits, vegetables, and granola bars. 

And lastly, learn to perfect your time management skills. A major reason why most people feel stressed at work suddenly is because they just realize that a project or assignment is near deadline and most of the work has been procrastinated. Make the investment of buying a personal planner. With a planner handy, you will be able to jot down all of your tasks in an organized manner and will have something to use as a reminder so you won't procrastinate on things. Mark off time in your schedule for fun stuff too! After all, part of staying stress free is to balance work with play! 

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

Phil Kwitek
Demand Generation Specialist, Lift’n Buddy, a Southworth Company

Monday, March 17, 2014

Spring Flooding


It’s getting to the time of the year where we forget about the cold winter behind us and look ahead to the warm weather that spring brings with it.  Walking home for lunch I hear the sound of water flowing down the sides of the streets and into the drain.  That sound lets me know that the snow is melting and spring is on its way.  The snow melting is nice but when it melts it can bring disaster.  In some areas, especially those areas around rivers, the snow melting can lead to flooding conditions.  Floods can also be caused by excess rain, or a dam or levee breaking. Floods can ruin lives, create millions of dollars in damages, ruin whole houses, destroy cars, and even be deadly.  

What can be done to stop these terrible rising waters from harming you, your family, and your property?  The biggest thing is to know if you are in a high risk location.  If your house is located below sea level, like New Orleans for example, you are in danger of flooding.  Being below sea level is not the only high risk area though.  If you live in a town next to a river or if your house is close to a river you could be in a high risk location when spring comes along and the water level of the river rises.  You can be away from bodies of water like rivers and oceans and still be at risk though.  If your house is at the bottom of a hill or in the bottom of a bowl like formation, during a heavy rain fall you could still be in danger of flooding.  

If you are in a higher risk area it is important to be prepared in case a flood was to occur. Things you can do are to sand bag.  Many towns that are close to rivers that have been known to flood have volunteers filling and placing sandbags to form a wall to prevent the water from flowing into the town.  If you live in a town like this it is important to do your part and help your community.

Things you can do to help yourself are to have an evacuation plan, have an emergency kit, and always try to have your essential electronics charged.  Your evacuation plan should include having bags already packed, pets ready to go, and in a safe location.  A flood emergency kit should include flash lights, radio, tarps, batteries, drinking water, first aid equipment, emergency blankets, plastic bags, and flares.  For your electronics, such as a cell phone, it is important to have them charged and in plastic bags so the water doesn't damage them.      
Once the waters are coming in it is important to follow safety protocol.  Staying informed is very important; the radio in your emergency kit can help with that.  Get to higher ground.  It may seem obvious but if your house is flooding you have to leave and seek higher ground.  It’s not worth endangering yourself or someone else staying in your house or going back for valuables.

Floods can be very dangerous, but if you are prepared you’ll be able to beat the flood and stay safe.

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

Monday, March 10, 2014

Spring Cleaning


Though it might not feel like it yet, spring time is approaching very fast. A common practice during this time of year would of course be spring cleaning. If everyone else is doing it, why not join in on the fun?

One of the most common practices during spring cleaning would of course be dust removal. With many things in the house left sitting around during the winter and the lack of fresh air circulating from outside, dust often times builds up in the house. Also with the use of fireplaces during the winter (the ones that use real wood of course), smoke and ash from the fire can build up in rooms with fireplaces. So with the fireplace going out of season soon, now is the perfect time to grab a spray bottle, some paper towels, a vacuum, and a duster and go around the house for just an hour or so. You might be surprised by just how much you find in your house!

Next grab the cleaning chemicals and clean some of the appliances! Here is a list of simple supplies and how you can use them to clean, brought to you by HGTV:
  • Drains:  ½ c. baking soda with ½ c. salt – pour down drain, follow with 2 c. boiling water, and let sit overnight.
  • Bathtubs: ½ c. baking soda with white vinegar, make a paste.
  • Ovens: ½ c. baking soda with ¼ c. salt, add enough water to make a paste.

Spring cleaning doesn't have to just be cleaning up dirt and grime though, why not take some time on the weekend to clean up papers and files in your house and even your office? Having a more tidy work environment will provide you with a much more organized and efficient zone to go about your job tasks, and plus it just might get a thumbs up from the boss! 

Keeping your spaces and things clean won't only make you feel better, but you might stumble up some things that either need to be fixed or maybe you could do without! The stuff you can do without can either be sold for some extra cash or donated to a good cause!

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

Phil Kwitek
Demand Generation Specialist, Lift’n Buddy, a Southworth Company

Monday, March 3, 2014

Quality Control


Growing up, you are constantly told that it’s okay to make mistakes, that as long as you are trying, that’s the most important thing. However, once you grow up and end up in a workplace, things change a little bit. Although mistakes are still inevitable, you must monitor them very closely. In order to keep a safe work environment and deliver safe products to your consumers, you must establish a system for quality control.

Quality control can be applied to many aspects of your company, from the quality of the products you’re sending out, to the processes used to exchange, deliver, and calculate information in the workplace. If you don’t continually keep up with your quality control, it can lead to product malfunction, accounting errors, inaccurate reports, and much more. 

Some tips for increasing and maintaining effective quality control include, but are not limited to: 
  • Define your processes. Whether it’s your manufacturing, reporting, or testing processes, you should find a repeatable way for your employees to uniformly complete the tasks at hand, so if you ever run into any issues it’s easier to track where the mistakes are coming from. 
  • Stay Organized. Making sure your workplace is organized and clean is important for reducing mistakes, improving quality, and staying as efficient as possible.  Make sure to use labels for parts or processes when it’s beneficial. 
  • Inspect your processes often and thoroughly.  Make sure you have an employee in place to inspect your work to make sure no corners are being cut and you are meeting the required and necessary guidelines.
Quality control is an aspect of safety that is often forgotten about. It’s easy to set up processes and guidelines for a safer and more efficient work place, but too often corners are cut and without monitoring, the quality of work continues to decrease over time. The benefits from a properly implemented quality control system greatly outweigh the time, energy, and costs that are needed to implement and maintain the assurance of high quality. 

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