October is National Ergonomics Month. That’s a weird word. Calling attention to the importance of effective work environments, the campaign is meant to help refine office product design for maximum health and safety. Concentrating mostly on efficient construction and use of office chairs, desks, computers and keyboards, the field of applied ergonomics is crucial. I wonder if my doghouse is ergonomic. Continue reading “Happy National Ergonomics Month”
In honor of National Safety Month, we want to focus on a topic we hold dear to our hearts at the Allied Universal Training System by Universal Fire/Life Safety Services– high-rise fire safety. According to the most recent study published by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), U.S. fire departments respond to an average of 14,500 structure fires per year in high-rise buildings.These fires cause (on average) 40 civilian deaths, 520 civilian injuries, and lead to $154 million of property damage each year. Fire response is critical because fire is one of the most common emergencies following earthquakes, explosions, terrorism, power surges and other natural and manmade disasters. Continue reading “High-Rise Fire Safety “
June is National Safety Month. Developed in 1996 by the National Safety Council (NSC), the annual observance is designed to help eliminate preventable deaths at work, in homes and communities, as well as on the road, through leadership, research, education and advocacy. While safety is paramount in every aspect of life, the NSC focuses their efforts on these core safety areas: work, road and home. So, in the interest of brevity, we will do the same. Although, I would like to have seen “doghouse safety” included in the list. Continue reading “Happy National Safety Month”
Global Employee Health & Fitness Month (GEHFM) is an international observance of health and fitness in the workplace during the month of May. The goal is to promote the benefits of living a healthy lifestyle to employers and their employees through worksite health promotion activities. Sponsored by MINDBODY, the campaign began in 1989, to promote the value of investing in employee health. Sounds like a good idea to me!
Workplace wellness takes many forms. So, the final program may look different from one organization to another. Your workplace wellness plan should be tailored to reflect the culture of your organization in the way that will most likely encourage your employees to stay healthy and fit. The Office of Disease & Health Promotion at Health.Gov lists five reasons wellness is worth the investment: Continue reading “May is Health & Fitness Month”
The holidays are upon us, and with them, opportunities abound to enjoy celebrations with family, neighbors, colleagues, canines and friends. As you plan your 2018 holiday season, please consider these office safety tips, designed to help you safely make the most of this festive time of the year. Continue reading “Holiday Office Safety Tips”
Despite the migration of millions of American employees to home offices, 78 percent of the U.S. workforce still report for duty at a company facility, at least part-time. I love reporting to the firehouse. So, safety in the workplace remains of paramount importance. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports there were approximately 2.9 million nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses reported by private industry employers in 2016, which occurred at a rate of 2.9 cases per 100 full-time workers.
Potential causes of workplace injuries and death range from fatigue (due to inadequate ergonomics or overexertion); substance abuse; slips, trips and falls; to natural and manmade disasters, including workplace violence. If a major emergency occurs or you get hurt on the job, everyone pays the price—in down time, lost productivity, low morale and economic impacts. Sounds like it would be better to avoid the whole thing! But when we work together to create a safer place to work, we’re all more productive and satisfied with our jobs and business operations are better prepared to recover.
For the purposes of this post, we will focus on workplace safety before, during and after disasters.
The U.S. Department of Laborestimates two million people fall victim to workplace violence each year. Employees in retail and healthcare are particularly vulnerable, but it can happen anywhere. Working with your local police department can help you control risk and plan for incidents that might occur. Whatever the cause of the workplace emergency, your attitudes and actions can impact your ability to survive the situation. Whether manmade (terrorist attack or coworker’s violent aggression) or natural (severe weather or earthquake), workplace disasters require specific preparation and reactions. I guess that applies to feline-made disasters, too?
Official Safety Training
One way to make sure you are ready is to complete Community Emergency Response Team training (CERT). The CERT program supports local response capability by training volunteers to spontaneously organize themselves at the disaster site, to provide immediate assistance to victims, and to collect disaster intelligence to support responders’ efforts when they arrive. But CERT is not the only way to prepare yourself for a workplace emergency. Wherever you work, you play a critical role in creating a safe and healthy workplace for everyone by following pre-established emergency procedures and measures.
To help, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has produced a free booklet about citizen preparedness, which may help you if disaster strikes when you are at work. Entitled “Are You Ready?”—the in-depth guide walks readers through steps to take to keep them safe in any hazardous situation. I want my wife and J.R. to read this guide, too. We all need to be ready! FEMA’s awareness campaign is called: “Disasters Don’t Plan Ahead. You Can.” That’s wise advice for employers as well as individuals.Emergency response planning can save lives, reduce the number of injuries, and prevent loss of property.
To be safe at work, before disaster strikes:
- Identify potential workplace hazards and safety roles and responsibilities. Know that workplace disasters can strike at any time, with little or no warning.
- Conduct a job safety analysis to establish proper work procedures to help prevent workplace injuries and illnesses.
- Executives and safety officers must keep communication open to make sure workers are comfortable with learning and offer feedback.
- Maximize personal safety at your regular workspace. Keep area free from clutter.
- Participate in safety training drills. “Practice makes perfect!)
- Report hazards, incidents, and near-misses.
- Take steps to control flammable and combustible materials in your department and make sure they do not pose a fire or explosion hazard. (For example, large accumulations of waste paper or other combustible materials can pose fire risk.)
- Ask for help, when needed, to maintain your safety.
- Assemble a disaster supplies kit.
- Obey “No Smoking” rules. Careless disposal of cigarettes and matches can lead to fires and explosions.
- Store and handle hazardous materials properly, according to the instructions on the label and on the safety data sheet. Or here’s a thought – don’t handle hazardous materials at all?
- Use and maintain equipment properly. Always a good idea!
During & After an Emergency:
- Stay alert. Just as you drive defensively on the road, use the same caution at work.
- Know the risks and danger signs.
- Don’t get into situations you are not trained to handle.
- Identify at least two ways out of any potentially hazardous situation.
- Volunteer to help others. My mom always taught everyone in her litter to “do unto others”
- Listen to officials for information about evacuation or sheltering in place.
- Repair damaged property.
- Take steps to prevent or reduce future loss.
About the Allied Universal Fire Life Safety Services System
No matter the type of emergency you may face while at work, take steps to make sure you are safe. Our interactive, building-specific e-learning program helps commercial, residential, educational, institutional, government, retail and industrial buildings with compliance to fire life safety codes and rewards building occupants instantly! It’s a convenient and affordable solution to the training needs of your facility. Click here for more information or to subscribe.
Observed each June, National Safety Month is an educational effort organized by the National Safety Council (NSC), which focuses on reducing leading causes of injury and death at work, on the road and in our homes and communities. With the hashtag #KeepEachOtherSafe, the campaign concentrates on one aspect of safety each week. My personal favorite hashtag is #BeSafe. NSC efforts align with the Allied Universal Fire Life Safety Training goal to save lives through preparation. To increase awareness, we are offering the following blog post, to help promote week three of the campaign: “Prepare for Active Shooters.”
The advancing age of many elevators and decreased preventative maintenance have recently given rise to the number of elevator failures, such as stalled cars. Nevertheless, elevators remain an exceedingly safe mode of transportation, with the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Consumer Product Safety Commission reporting an average associated fatality rate of just 0.00000015% per trip, which represents a total of 27 deaths per year resulting from 18 billion rides. This statistic positions elevator rides as safer than vehicles, airplanes or even stairs
Unfortunately, elevator rides can be nerve-wracking and potentially dangerous for dogs. In fact, a dog in Russia was nearly killed because his leash got caught in a moving elevator. Thankfully, someone pulled him to safety.
Elevator manufacturers stake their reputation on safety, investing considerable resources into redundant systems to help protect elevator occupants. Nevertheless, elevators occasionally malfunction and even break down. Safety malfunctions can involve doors, buttons, cables, and additional components. Here are a few recent strides made in elevator safety:
- Recall given for Porta elevators. The recall was necessary due to faulty electro mechanical door locks.
- Elevators manufactured by ThyssenKrupp elevator doors were opening between floors, exposing people to the elevator shaft. When I retire from the fire station, I’m thinking about adding three more stories to our dog house. But stairs will probably suit us just fine.
- Firefighter Emergency Operations (FEO) transfers control and accessibility of elevator cabs from the public to firefighters during emergencies. Removing public access to elevators in emergencies reduces the possibility of injury or death resulting from cars that accidentally open up on a floor that has an active fire.
- Otis elevator operates a 38-story elevator test facility in Bristol, Connecticut to properly test cars, cables, and motors. I’d love to be in the “dog biscuit” test facility where I could taste new treats.
Core safety features of modern elevators:
- Electromagnetic brakes are used to keep the car in place, and will automatically snap shut if the elevator system loses electrical power. Modern elevators also feature braking systems located at the top and bottom of the elevator shaft, which can detect excessive elevator movement and apply brakes, when necessary.
- Despite the common Hollywood movie scene of an elevator cable snapping and elevator car plummeting, this scenario is unrealistic. Elevator cables are comprised of sturdy steel strands, which have been designed to single-handedly support the entire weight of the car and occupants. Each elevator contains between four and eight cables for each car, which provides multiple levels of redundancy.
Stuck in a Tin Can
As alarming as it can be, getting stuck in an elevator is rarely a life-threatening situation. Elevators occasionally get stuck. But even when this occurs, core safety systems remain intact.
Elevator safety tips:
- Do not attempt to rush into an elevator while the doors are closing. Simply wait for the next car. Also, keep leashed pets very close to you, for their safety as well as the safety of everyone in the car.
- Try not to panic about oxygen. While the car is an admittedly confined space, you should have plenty of available air to breath. Elevator cars are not airtight.
- Never, ever try to exit a stalled elevator car through the roof hatch or by prying the doors apart. This is the most important tip, as several deaths have tragically occurred when people try to escape stalled cars. In many cases, the elevator will stop between floors, leaving occupants with the mistaken impression that they would be able to crawl out to safety. However, if the elevator moves as someone is trying to escape, they could be trapped and tragically, crushed. So stay put and be patient.
- If the elevator car stalls, use the elevator phone and/or your cellphone to alert authorities. Remain calm.
Additional Tips from our friends at Allied Universal
While elevators have proven to be a very safe way of transporting both people and merchandise, occasionally malfunctions do occur. Common problems can include elevators that do not correctly align with the floor, doors that do not open or close properly, stopping between floors or stopping altogether and entrapping occupants.
Universal Services of America offers the following tips to help ensure your safety and knowledge regarding proper elevator use.
When you approach the elevator
- Stand aside for exiting passengers.
- Wait for the next car if the elevator is already full.
- Do not attempt to stop a closing door.
- Use the stairs, not an elevator, if there is a fire in the building.
When you enter and exit the elevator
- Watch your step, as the elevator floor may not be level with the landing.
- Stand clear of the doors, and keep your clothing and any carry-on items away from the opening.
When riding on the elevator
- Stand back from the doors and hold the handrail, if available.
- Pay attention to the floor indications, so you may exit when you arrive at your floor.
- Discern between the “open door” button and the “close door” button to avoid confusing them, if needed.
If you find yourself in an elevator that has become stuck
- Push the “door open” button. If that does not work, ring the elevator alarm.
- Use the emergency phone, alarm or help button, if available, to summon emergency personnel. Or use your cell phone to call 9-1-1.
- Do not attempt to force the doors open.
- Never try to leave the elevator car on your own, as doing so could result in serious injury.
- Remain calm. Elevators contain sufficient oxygen levels to last until help arrives.
Remember that safety is a daily priority, whether or not you use elevators. A convenient and affordable way to make sure you are prepared for disasters and emergencies of virtually every kind is to subscribe to the RJWestmore Training System by Universal Fire/Life Safety Services, which has been designed to help improve and save lives. For more information about the best system out there, or to subscribe, click here.
On the heels of celebrating National Building Safety Month in May, we feel it equally essential to note that June marks a more general but no less important annual observance – National Safety Month. Organized by the National Safety Council (NSC) and observed by thousands of organizations across the country, the campaign is designed to raise awareness about what it takes to stay #SafeForLife. National Safety Month focuses on reducing leading causes of injury and death at work, on the roads, as well as in private homes and communities. Each week in June, the NSC will provide free downloadable resources highlighting a specific safety topic. Many of the items are available in English and Spanish.
Week 1 (Through June 12)
Stand Ready to Respond
When seconds count, preparation is key. This is true in both natural and man-made disasters. To prepare, keep a fully stocked emergency preparedness kit in your home and vehicle. Be sure to include supplies such as food, water, necessary medications, a battery-powered radio, a flashlight and a first aid kit. And, just as you participate in emergency drills at work, run regular drills with your family. Also, when collecting items for your emergency kit, don’t forget about Fido. Disasters affect us, too.
Resources available through the NSC
- Poster: When Seconds Matter, Will You Be Ready?
- Tip Sheet: Preparing today can make a difference tomorrow – Englishand Spanish
- Bonus Fact Sheet: Protect Children Around Water – All the Time (I am a big advocate of the doggie paddle.)
- Related articles: Common Items for first aid kits, AEDs in the workplace
Week 2 (June 13 – 19)
Each day, decisions we make directly impact our health. So do your best to make smart food choices and exercise regularly. When an injury occurs, strive to work with your doctor to safeguard your health by making informed decisions about what types of medications to take. Keep young children safe around medications by properly storing medicines out of a child’s reach.
Resources available through the NSC
- Poster: Safeguard Your Health
- Tip Sheet: Reach for safer medicines – Englishand Spanish
- Related articles: Diabetes and worker safety, Exploring shift worker health
Week 3 (June 20-26)
Watch Out for Dangers
Although, in a recent RJWestmore Training System blog post, we covered the importance of situational awareness, the topic is important enough to bear repeating. Even in familiar surroundings, constantly survey your surroundings for potential danger. My canine companions and I are pretty good at doing this. Noses in the air at all times. Keeping an eye out for hazards can help you identify and avoid them before an injury or attack might occur. Looking at the world through this safety lens can help protect you and loved ones.
Resources available through the NSC
- Poster: Watch Out for Dangers
- Tip Sheet: Being safe means being alert – all the time – English and Spanish
- Related articles: 11 tips for effective workplace housekeeping, Stop-work authority
Week 4 (June 27-30)
Share Roads Safely
Vehicles traveling or disabled along our nation’s roadways are constantly at risk. Since it’s impossible to control the choices everyone makes while on the road, practice defensive driving. Getting behind the wheel is a time for patience and focus, qualities that can help you avoid a collision even if someone else makes a bad decision. And, let’s face it; there are a lot of horrible drivers on the road. I have noticed this and I don’t even have a driver’s license.
Resources available through the NSC
- Poster: Make Good Choices While Driving
- Tip Sheet: The roads belong to us all. Let’s make safe choices –English and Spanish
- Related articles: Patience pays off in work zones, Drowsy driving and worker safety
Be sure to think about ways to use situational awareness to #BeSafe all of the time, not just during the month of June. A convenient and affordable way to make sure you are prepared for disasters and emergencies of virtually every kind is to subscribe to the RJWestmore Training System by Universal Fire/Life Safety Services, which has been designed to help improve and save lives. For more information about the best system out there, or to subscribe, click here.
Tornadoes present a significant weather-related risk across much of the country. Last week, we began a two-part series about how to prepare for and recover from tornadoes, which is particularly important in 2016, thanks to El Niño. I sure hope El Niño won’t affect bacon production. That’s at the top of my emergency supply list.
As noted in last week’s post, the RJWestmore Training System has recently added a tornado module to further enhance our comprehensive training program. Last week, our post covered what to do to prepare for a tornado. The following post will wrap up our two-week series, focusing on what to do during and after a tornado.
During a Tornado
Many cities use an undulating, wailing warning system that sounds for three to four minutes to alert the public about tornadoes. I know a lot of dogs who use a similar system to warn their masters of impending doom. If you hear this signal or are otherwise notified that a tornado is imminent:
- Remain calm.
- At home or work, go to the pre-determined safe zone or basement as quickly as possible.
- If you are in a high-rise building, don’t stay in a large, open area that has windows. Instead, seek out a closet or interior hallway to take cover.
- Do not leave the building.
- If you cannot get to a safe zone or basement, seek shelter under a large, sturdy piece of furniture. I find that desks and chairs provide comfort as well as protection.
- Steer clear of windows and avoid being hit by flying objects.
- Listen to NOAA weather conditions.
- If you are away from home, find a small, interior room or hallway and protect your head and neck with your arms and a coat or blanket. And if you’re a canine, tuck in your tail.
- If you are in a vehicle, do not attempt to outdrive the tornado. But do not stay in the car, as tornadoes can significantly damage automobiles. Park the car as quickly as possible, well away from traffic. If possible, find shelter in a sturdy building or underground. If you are not near a building, seek shelter in a spot that is at the lowest level possible. It is a myth that an overpass would provide shelter from a tornado. It is far safer to literally lie low and cover your head and neck with your arms and a coat or blanket. But make sure you are far from trees and vehicles.
After a Tornado
Studies have shown that a great deal of tornado-related injuries occur after a tornado when people are walking among the debris and enter damaged buildings. Injuries can also occur during rescue attempts, cleanup and other post-tornado activities. So be careful and follow these tips:
- Unless you are facing a life-threatening situation, do not leave the safe zone until the warning has officially been lifted.
- Listen for emergency information and instructions as well as weather updates and the “all clear” signal.
- Do a quick survey of the damage to determine major hazards, looking for fires, leaks and electrical shorts.
- Anticipate power outages and use the flashlight in your emergency kit to light the way as you check interior spaces and during evacuation.
- Take time to have a snack. (Okay…I added that suggestion. But I think that snacks are always a good idea.)
- Do not use an open flame or turn on electrical switches, especially if you smell gas.
- Establish a safe location to use for triage. Do not move seriously injured people unless they are in immediate danger of further injury.
- When it is safe to do so, use telephones for emergency calls, only.
- Avoid unnecessary movement, which could stir up debris and affect breathing.
- If you are trapped, tap on metal or another loud surface or, better yet, use a whistle to alert emergency responders. Shout only as a last resort. Bark, if applicable.
- When evacuation routes are determined to be safe and you are instructed to do so:
- Remain calm
- Do not use elevators
- Proceed to the safest exit, using the most continuous handrail
- Before opening any doors, feel the door with the back of your hand (or paw), to check for heat.
- Proceed to your designated safe refuge area and check in.
- Do not reenter the building until you are told it is safe to do so by building management and emergency responders.
Remember that safety is a daily priority, so be sure to think safety all of the time. A convenient and affordable way to make sure you are prepared for disasters and emergencies of virtually every kind is to subscribe to the RJWestmore Training System by Universal Fire/Life Safety Services, which has been designed to help improve and save lives. For more information about the best system out there, or to subscribe, click here.