RMSC Safety Sentinel: April 2013

Management: Pay Attention to How Employees Perform their Jobs

Line managers who perform their daily work in an organized and diligent manner are held in high regard by top management. But they may sometimes miss information important to improving overall productivity in their department. If they can pay close attention to how staff employees perform their work they may unlock the key to a happier and more productive workforce.

Small differences in the way individual employees interpret and react to company policies, procedures and work duties can significantly impact a department or entire operation. Managers who learn how employees operate may have an advantage in helping staff people do a better job and increase efficiency.

Spending time with workers not only gives a supervisor the opportunity to observe how employees complete their tasks and follow instructions but also allows for direct feedback from the employee.

Once all supervisory personnel have completed their observations, their findings can be shared with the group. The discussion may also include improved safety procedures that result from staff ideas or reevaluation of work procedures, both of which can improve overall productivity.

Be sure to examine how employees perform their jobs to help improve a staff’s performance in a work environment.

Pesticides Sicken Employees in Food-Products Warehouse

Employees at a 550,000 square-foot food-products warehouse were sickened when they came to work after the warehouse had been fogged with an insecticide and an insect growth regulator.

The warehouse was fogged twice a year by licensed commercial pesticide applicators. A typical application requires two fogging machines and concludes by 7:30 p.m. After the application, there was usually a two-hour “hang time” or settling time, after which the warehouse was ventilated for two hours before employees on the third shift arrived. This time, however, one of the two fogging machines broke down, leaving one fogger to cover the entire warehouse.

The breakdown extended the application time by two hours, decreasing both the hang time and the time allowed for ventilation. Ventilation fans were still running at 11:40 p.m. when employees on the third shift arrived. As the employees entered the warehouse, they saw a foggy mist hanging in the air in the upper rafters. Many of them started
coughing and wheezing. Others felt their eyes burning and noticed a bitter taste in their mouths and numb lips. Those who took heart medications had worse symptoms. None of the employees knew the warehouse would be fogged before their shift started and they had no health hazard information on the pesticides used.

Clearly, this incident demonstrates an employer’s responsibility to manage known and potential employee workplace hazards. OSHA would be entirely accurate in fining this employer for not informing its employees of the potential hazard and equipping them with appropriate personal protective equipment.

OSHA Releases I2P2 Slide Presentation

OSHA has published a new slide presentation on the value of injury and illness prevention programs (I2P2) — a proactive process to help employers find and fix workplace hazards before workers are hurt. Not only are these programs effective at reducing injuries, illnesses and fatalities, but also many employers report that they have transformed their workplace culture and led to higher productivity and quality, reduced turnover, reduced costs and greater worker satisfaction. To learn more and to view the downloadable presentation, visit OSHA’s Injury and Illness Prevention Programs webpage.

Lightening: Dos and Don’ts

Lightning kills about 80 people in the U.S. each year and injures hundreds. Your chances of getting hit by lightning are greatest in Arkansas, Florida, Mississippi, New Mexico, and Wyoming.
In most places, lightning hits most often in late afternoon in spring and summer. But lightning can hit anyone in the wrong place at the wrong time. Lightning can hit the same place many times too. Lightning can stop your heart and kill you. But you can also get burns, nervous system damage, and other health problems. Some of these you may not notice until months after a lightning strike.

Protect Yourself
If you hear thunder and see lightning, act right away – especially if you count 30 seconds or less between the thunder and lightning. If the thunder gets louder or you see the lightning more often, the storm is getting closer. (Sometimes lightning will strike out of a sunny sky 10 miles or more from a storm.)
Lightning hits tall things, metal, and water – or a person standing on open ground or a roof.
Your worksite should have a plan for what to do in a lightning storm. (OSHA does not allow work on or from scaffolds in storms, in some cases.)*

If a storm is near

• Be the tallest object in an area.
• Stand out in the open.
• Stand under a tree. (If the tree is hit, you can be too.)
• Stand in a gazebo or open shelter, like a baseball dugout or bus shelter.
• Stand next to metal objects – pipes or light poles or door frames or metal fences or communication towers – indoors or out.
• Stay next to water – ponds or running water – indoors or out. (Do not take a shower.)
• Use plug – in power tools or machines – indoors or out.
• Use a plug – in telephone (or a computer with a modem) – indoors or out.

• Get into an enclosed building – like a house or shopping center or school or office building.
• Get into a car, van, truck, or bus with the windows closed all the way. Do not touch the doors or other metal inside. (Open cabs on heavy equipment will not protect you. A convertible with the top up will not protect you. Rubber tires will not protect you.)
If you are out in the open and have nowhere to go, squat down with your feet together and only let your feet touch the ground. Put your hands over your ears (to protect against noise). That way, you are so low the lightning may hit something else. And by not touching much of the ground, you have less chance that the lightning will move across the ground to you. Do not lie flat on the ground.

Do not go back to work outdoors until a half-hour after the lightning and thunder stop.


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For additional information on these topics or for Loss Prevention assistance, contact:
Paul Fox pfox@rsmc.com or (502-708-3111)

RMSC has exercised due and customary care in producing this newsletter but has not independently verified information provided by others. No other warranty, express or implied, is made with regard to the content of this newsletter. Therefore, RMSC assumes no liability from any loss resulting from errors, omissions or misrepresentations made by others. The use of this information by third parties shall be at their own risk and RMSC
accepts no duty of care to any such third party.
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