Monday, December 29, 2014

Listen Up! Protect Your Hearing


Hearing injuries are often overlooked, being labeled insignificant and temporary. However, the Occupational Safety & Health Administration would say otherwise. According to, 30 million people in the United States are occupationally exposed to hazardous noise each year. Thousands of these workers suffer from preventable hearing loss as a result of high workplace noise levels. 

The most common form of hearing loss is short term. Short-term exposure to loud noise typically results in only a temporary change in hearing. Your ears may begin to feel stuffed up or you may experience a constant ringing. For example, people commonly have these side effects after attending a rock concert without using anything to protect their hearing. These short-term problems tend to relieve themselves after a few minutes or hours after leaving the loud environment. 

However, the short term hearing loss becomes serious when repeated exposures to these loud noises take place, resulting in permanent hearing loss. Since 2004, the Bureau of Labor Statistics has reported that nearly 125,000 workers have suffered significant, permanent hearing loss. Furthermore, they report that in 2009 alone there were more than 21,000 hearing loss cases. The good news is that the majority of these cases could have been prevented if they would have taken the appropriate cautionary measures. provides several options to control and reduce worker exposure to noise in a workplace. They define the following as:

1) Engineering Controls
These deal with modifying or replacing equipment, or making physical changes at the noise source or along the transmission path to reduce the noise level at the worker's ear. Some examples of these are utilizing low noise tools and machines, maintaining and lubricating machinery and equipment, placing a barrier between the noise source and employee, and enclosing or isolating the noise source.

2) Administrative Controls
These are defined as changes in the workplace that will reduce or eliminate a worker’s exposure to noise. Common examples of these are operating noisy machines during shifts when fewer people are exposed, limiting the amount of time a person spends at a noise source, or restricting worker presence to a suitable distance away from noisy equipment to name a few.

3) Hearing protection devices (HPDs)
These are the most common devices to the average person; however, in the workplace an employer should seek to utilize more engineering and administrative controls. Some examples of these are earmuffs and plugs.

Taking these listed controls and applying them will minimize the risk for hearing injuries at the workplace. By reducing the noise by only a few levels, communication can be significantly improved and lead to a more productive and healthy workforce.

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, December 22, 2014

You Are The Air You Breathe


Every day we all face a variety of risks to our health and our safety as we go about our day-to-day lives. Driving in cars, flying in planes, walking on ice, taking showers, etc. Most of these risks are simply unavoidable but there are some risks and safety hazards that despite being unavoidable, we can reduce the level of risk involved with them. Indoor air quality in both your home and your workplace is one risk that you can do something about.

According to the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA), Poor indoor air quality (IAQ) has been tied to symptoms like headaches, fatigue, trouble concentrating, and irritation of the eyes, nose, throat and lungs. Also, some specific diseases have been linked to specific air contaminants or indoor environments, like asthma with damp indoor environments. In addition, some exposures, such as asbestos and radon, do not cause immediate symptoms but can lead to cancer after many years.

Some of the main causes of poor IAQ are, but are not limited to:

  • Poor Ventilation
  • Unregulated Temperatures.
  • High/Low Humidity.
  • Fumes from airborne chemicals in the workplace. 
  • Dust, Mold, Pesticides, Etc. 

It’s important to be aware of these potential hazards to your air quality and to consult with your building manager or employer about potential solutions. The most important step you can take to improve IAQ is having the right ventilation and building care. Also, if you work with any airborne chemicals or substances that you could breath in, it’s important to take extra precautions and wear masks when appropriate. 

Indoor air quality concerns are a fact of life for building owners, business owners, managers, and occupants. It’s almost impossible to make everyone completely happy with temperatures, humidity, etc., however, it is possible to provide a work environment that is healthy and safe. You should establish clear lines of communication so that IAQ issues can be detected and resolved as soon as possible. A building/company managed with an eye for preventing IAQ problems greatly reduces the likelihood of discomfort and will likely increase your employees’ productivity.

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, December 15, 2014

Oh My Back! 4 Ways Lift Hand Trucks Can Reduce Ergonomic & Safety Concerns | Cisco-Eagle


According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ (BLS) Occupational Injuries and Illnesses report, employers reported 3 million workplace nonfatal injuries and illnesses during 2013.

Due to stringent OSHA regulations, workplace safety inspections, and liability concerns, employee safety in industrial applications has become a primary concern for many companies.  Statistics demonstrate that warehouse workers are particularly susceptible to strains and injuries.  As a result, companies are working hard to promote more ergonomically-friendly workplaces for employees.

These progressive companies are looking at new processes, new technology, and equipment to help reduce the kind of long-term ergonomic issues that are both dangerous and costly.

Warehouse equipment such as lift hand trucks can greatly reduce safety concerns while driving increased efficiency and worker productivity. Here’s a look at how:

1) Weight Capacity
Lift hand trucks are used for stacking and transporting goods that are less than a pallet load. With the capacity to handle loads weighing up to 350 lbs and measuring 36”, they make getting heavy loads from floor level to workbenches, shelves, rack, or truck bed height easy.

In the world of material handling, heavy lifting safety is especially critical. Lift hand trucks shouldn't replace safety guidelines for heavy lifting; they should serve to enforce some of the ergonomic practices designed to make tasks safer for workers. Since workers who are younger and stronger (and typically in these types of jobs) tend to disregard safe lifting processes, lift-enabled hand trucks can help them work smarter. 

2) Maneuverability 
In addition to weight capacity, lift hand trucks also save on the need for a forklift by allowing pallets to be broken at the shipping area, then transported by hand.  Workers don’t need to send a forklift to different areas where it can elevate a pallet for carton or piece putaway. Lift hand trucks can also fit into areas forklifts can’t, like office areas, shelving aisles, and other cramped confines.  This maneuverability makes them suitable for a number of different warehouse tasks, including shipping & receiving and anywhere else with limited work space.

While traditional stackers can accommodate heavy loads, they can’t travel on uneven floors, in and out of trucks, up and down inclines, etc., all of which can hamper productivity. Lift hand trucks can go places powered stackers cannot, including tight areas such as elevators or narrow hallways.

3) Adjustable Height Platform
With the BLS estimating that musculoskeletal disorders account for roughly a third of all worker injuries and illnesses, finding ways to reduce worker strain and fatigue is crucial. An EHS Today article on workplace ergonomics states “Some things that can be done to reduce the risk factors related to injuries from receiving and shipping tasks include: 1) Using proper lifting techniques, and 2) Using mechanical assist when possible.”

Built with an adjustable height platform, lift hand trucks allow workers to lift and lower goods to the precise height needed to load and unload. This adjustable platform eliminates the need for workers to bend and lift, thus making the environment safer and more ergonomically friendly.

4) Simplicity & Efficiency
One of the best things about lift hand trucks is their simplicity. Workers can be up and running with little or no training, in no time, so they can spend more time loading and unloading materials  in a way that helps minimize strains and injuries.

How do they work? A simple button control fob is tethered to the main mast console and rests in a special holder until taken out for remote use at one side or the other of the lift. The controller manipulates the height of the platform smoothly and precisely, making work quicker and easier. Once goods have been loaded, the worker easily tips the entire load back somewhat and transports much like using a traditional hand truck. Once ready to unload, the controller can adjust height of platform and easily slide goods off onto new surface.

 Final Thoughts
“The primary injuries occurring in a warehouse stem from lifting, straining, and turning,” as noted by Joel Anderson, president and CEO of the International Warehouse Logistics Association. With so much at stake (employee safety, lost productivity, higher insurance bills, government fines, etc.), forward-thinking companies have invested in warehouse equipment such as lift hand trucks to promote workplace safety and drive warehouse efficiency.

Hand lift trucks are costlier than simple hand trucks, but companies shouldn’t treat them that way. They provide an ergonomic boost and a productivity shot in the arm for many types of loads and operations.

How is your organization making workplace safety a priority?

Scott Stone is the E-business manager for Cisco-Eagle, Inc, a provider of integrated material handling and storage systems for industrial operations. Scott has over 23 years experience in industrial operations and marketing.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Staying Safe on the Lakes this Winter


Now that this cold, winter like weather is finally upon us, it’s important to keep in mind some extra safety advice. During this winter season many of us will travel out onto frozen lakes and it’s important to remember the dangers of thin or unsafe ice. 

There is no such thing as 100% safe ice. It’s important that you don’t try to judge the strength of ice just by its appearance, the time of year, or the current temperature. Although these are important things to remember, the true strength of the ice is based off much more. All of the aforementioned factors are important, but other factors to take into consideration are, but are not limited to: the depth of the water under the ice, the size of the body of water, water currents, and the distribution of your weight. 

There are however, some general guidelines given by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources for the thickness of ice depending on your weight, as seen in the picture below.  

*Note: These are Rough guidelines; always use extreme caution with ice safety

However, if the unexpected happens and you do break through the ice, it’s important to not panic and to be as mentally prepared as possible. When you’re traveling on ice, always make sure you have some sort of ice picks to help you pull yourself out of the water if needed. As you pull yourself out, remember to spread your weight out as much as possible to reduce the odds of the ice breaking underneath you again. If you do manage to get out of the water, make sure to head back in the direction you originally came from; this is important because the ice you have already traveled on is the only path you know is safe.  Finally, get to shelter and warmth as soon as possible to avoid getting frostbite or hypothermia. 

Most importantly: never travel on ice alone, always be cautious, and always be prepared for the worst.  

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, December 1, 2014

LP Tank Safety


Propane is a highly combustible gas that when compressed will turn into an easily transportable liquid. You will typically encounter propane tanks in the home as fuel sources in barbecues and portable stoves. As an industrial fuel source you will see propane used in a variety of applications including blowtorches, feed stock production, forklifts, and as automobile fuel. Safely handling and storing of propane cylinders is a major safety issue that is often overlooked by residential consumers as well as industrial users.

Here are tips to ensure that your home and business are using essential propane safety practices:

Never store propane cylinders indoors, in a house, or garage. Leaking gas will accumulate near the floor until an ignition source is reached such as the pilot light on a furnace or water heater.  

Never store propane cylinders in close proximity to other flammable or combustible materials.

Propane should not be stored on wet or soggy ground. Prolonged exposure to wet conditions can cause the tanks to rust and potentially leak. 

Cylinders should always be positioned so the relief valve is in contact with the vapor space inside the tank. The compressed liquid will always settle to the bottom of the tank which is more dangerous than the gas vapors. All consumer tanks should remain vertical. Tanks with relief valves should be rotated so the relief valve is near the top of the tank when it is placed on its side.

Do not, under any circumstances, try to modify or repair valves, regulators, or other appliance parts.

Propane leaks smell like rotten eggs. If you smell a leak, evacuate the premises, and contact your local fire department, or propane supplier. When leaving the premises, do not alter any electrical outlets or light switches.

Use team-lifts or lifting equipment for the transportation of LP cylinders. Propane tanks can get heavy, especially when full. Never roll a tank on its side to transport it from one point to another. Always use team-lifts, hand trucks, a Lift’n Buddy or a forklift for moving larger LP tanks.

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

Brad Lindemann
Sales Coordinator, Lift’n Buddy, a Southworth Company