Take a STAND-Down to prevent falls in Ohio’s workplaces

By Erik Harden, BWC Public Information Officer

Construction, by its nature, is a dangerous industry. With much of the work happening from elevation, fall hazards are a major concern and fall protection is a must to prevent injuries and deaths.

construction73

In 2015, falls accounted for 350 of the 937 construction fatalities in the United States.* The previous year in Ohio, there were 993 falls from elevation, with 324 of these falls happening in construction. Falls don’t need to be from great heights to have serious consequences; even short falls from elevation can cause serious injuries. However, proper training and awareness can help prevent injuries and fatal accidents.

Each year, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) looks to raise fall hazard awareness across the country with its National Fall Prevention Stand-Down. This year’s stand-down is happening May 8-12.

At this point, you might be wondering, “What exactly is a stand-down?” A safety stand-down is a voluntary event for employers to speak directly to their workers about workplace safety. Companies can conduct a stand-down event in several ways, including:

  • Short toolbox talks;
  • Distributing handouts;
  • Screening safety videos;
  • Training and demonstrations;
  • Meetings and presentations;
  • Equipment inspections/audits.

We strongly urge Ohio employers – especially those in the construction industry – to have a stand-down to discuss fall hazards and fall protection sometime between May 8 and May 12.

We can help you plan your stand-down activity. Call 1-800-644-6292 for assistance. The BWC Library also offers an extensive collection of audiovisual materials related to fall hazards and fall prevention.

Let’s take a STAND-Down to prevent falls!

For more information

 *Bureau of Labor Statistics 

OSC17 – A look back in photos

Last week’s Ohio Safety Congress & Expo (OSC17) gave us the opportunity to meet face-to-face with our customers and find out what drives them to make their workplaces safer and healthier. In short, what is their safety motto?

This week, our message to all who attended is simple: Thank you, thank you, thank you! We are so grateful you were part of our record-setting crowd of more than 7,500 attendees. From educational sessions and a busy Expo Marketplace to inspiring general session speakers and live demonstrations, we hope you enjoyed your time at OSC17.

For a look back at last week’s events, check out our storified tweets and scroll through the photos below. We can’t wait to see you again next year!

Expo Marketplace – “before”

 

 

 

Expo Marketplace – “after”

Expo pics from the mobile app – thanks to all who uploaded them.

Huge turnout for the General Session in the Battelle Grand Ballroom!

OSC17 attendees voting for Safety Innovations People’s Choice award. 

Safety Innovations Awards – 1st place ($6,000 award): ICP Adhesives and Sealants.

Safety Innovations Awards – People’s Choice ($1,000 award):  Holloway, Henderson and Martin LLC.

Awesome safety selfies in the BWC booth.

Passport to Safety prizes – Thanks to our generous exhibitors!

Be safe up there: March is Ladder Safety Month

By Gregory Williams, BWC Occupational Safety & Hygiene Fellow

A lot happens in March – the luck of the Irish, NCAA championship basketball, the first day of spring and Ladder Safety Month. OK, maybe that last one isn’t as well known, but it’s important.

Whether on the job or at home, many of us come across ladders. We use them to hang up and take down Christmas lights, clean out gutters, change light bulbs and fix things at work and at home. Well, we should be using ladders for these activities. I said should because so many people are tempted to grab the nearest chair, stool or box to get that extra boost when trying to reach something.

We’ve all seen viral “fail” videos of chairs slipping out from underneath someone. Many are able to dust themselves off and get back to work, but what about those who fall and don’t get up? What about those who break an arm, suffer concussions, or even worse, are killed because of a fall that seems so insignificant? This is why ladder safety is so important.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR), 43 percent of fatal falls involve a ladder and 28 percent of fatal falls involving a ladder happened at heights of 6 to 10 feet. We often think it will take a far greater fall to be a fatality, but this just isn’t true. There is no safe fall.

So how do you keep yourself and those around you safe when using ladders this year? First, use a ladder to reach things instead of a chair, table or box. Always be sure to use the right ladder for the situation. Do not use a step ladder when it’s leaned up against a house; this is a job for extension ladders. Use a ladder that has the proper height. If you’re standing on the top rung, the ladder is too short, and it’s time to go get a taller one. And always make sure you use a ladder that is able to support the weight you will put on it.

Second, it’s important to set up the ladder properly. For extension ladders, ensure the base is on stable, level ground and have someone hold the base while you ascend. Follow the 4-1 ratio. This means for every 4 feet of ladder length you need to place the ladder a foot away from the surface it’s leaning against. Make sure to properly lock step ladders in place before ascending.

Third and finally, make sure you keep yourself between the sides of the ladder at all times. Never overreach when using a ladder. It may take you more time to climb down and move the ladder, but it will be worth it.

Don’t leave ladder safety up to luck. Whether working at 2 feet or 20 feet, always remember the rules while working on ladders. Only use them in the proper conditions, using the right ladder for the job, and stay as close to the ladder as possible while you work. It could be the difference between life and death.

See additional resources:

Comprehensive care for injured workers, innovative employers highlight busy day 2 at #OSC17 and #BWCmhs, much more to come

Welcome back to the Columbus Convention Center, home of the Ohio Safety Congress & Expo and the Ohio Workers’ Compensation Medical & Health Symposium!

We have a lot in store before we bid farewell this afternoon but first, here’s a rundown of yesterday’s activities.

The second day of OSC17 was the first day of the Medical & Health Symposium. This is the second year of the symposium, which filled to capacity weeks ago. BWC sponsors this conference for health-care professionals who treat Ohio injured workers to hear from leading national and state experts. This year, our theme is “Comprehensive care for the injured worker.”

BWC Medical Director Dr. Stephen Woods welcomed participants and kicked off the event. The day featured several intriguing sessions on various topics related to the care of injured workers. One session covered how the aging workforce challenges the workers’ comp industry. Read a detailed blog on that topic here.

Over at OSC17, we got the day started with the Safety Innovation Awards. ICP Adhesives from the Akron area took first place, and Holloway, Henderson & Martin LLC of Pickerington snagged the People’s Choice Award.

All of the finalists were impressive!  Here’s the final list of award winners along with links to videos highlighting their innovations:

  • 1st place ($6,000 award): ICP Adhesives and Sealants, Norton (Video )
  • 2nd place ($4,000 award): C&K Industrial Services Inc., Cleveland (Video)
  • 3rd place ($3,000 award): Holloway, Henderson & Martin LLC, Pickerington (Video)
  • Honorable Mention ($1,500 award): Suburban Steel Supply Company, Gahanna (Video)
  • Honorable Mention ($1,500 award): Ames Arboreal Group, Columbus (Video)

And our very own Dr. Abe Tarawneh, superintendent of the BWC Division of Safety and Hygiene delivered a presentation on the role of safety leaders in building and executing strategic direction for occupational safety and health programs. Abe advised attendees that the mission of a safety leader is simple: elevate safety as a core value for the organization. If it is not a core value, make it one.

We’re not done yet! Our final day will feature more informative sessions at OSC and the symposium.

See OSC17 and symposium schedules here, in the event guide or on the mobile app. Follow @OhioBWC on Twitter and keep an eye on hashtags #OSC17 and
#BWCmhs for coverage.

Stay tuned for a wrap of the day as we bring the curtain down on another successful OSC17 and M&HS.

Aging workforce challenges work comp industry

By Tony Gottschlich, BWC Public Information Officer

Americans are living longer and they’re working longer, which presents a particular set of health care challenges for the injured worker, as well as economic challenges for the workers’ compensation industry, a longtime nurse and work comp veteran said Thursday morning at the 2017 Ohio Workers’ Compensation Medical & Health Symposium.

“Many of us don’t want to retire or we can’t retire, and that’s changing how we look at individuals in the workforce before they have an injury and how we manage their care after an injury,” said Kevin T. Glennon, vice president of clinical services for One Call Care Management in Jacksonville, Florida.

Glennon, speaking to a capacity audience at the Greater Columbus Convention Center, spoke for roughly 50 minutes on the topic, “Managing the Changing Needs of the Aging Injured Worker.” The session was one of 13 continuing education classes offered at the two-day symposium for health care professionals. The symposium continues Friday in conjunction with the 2017 Ohio Safety Congress & Expo, the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation annual safety, health and workers’ compensation conference.

Glennon pointed to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics indicating that older workers are less likely to get injured on the job, but when they do, it’s almost always worse than when a younger person is injured.

“When a 25-year-old worker falls on the job, she might get a bruise, but for a 75-year-old worker, it’s a broken hip,” he said.

While applauding people who want to work past the typical retirement age, Glennon noted the risks for doing so. Older workers typically have decreasing strength, endurance and reflexes, as well as diminished vision, hearing and mental acuity. And when injured, their recovery might be compromised by other existing health problems, such as diabetes, as well as medications that are contraindicated and an increasing susceptibility to infectious diseases.

The list goes on. All of which becomes even more complicated and costly if injured, aging workers have no family at home to help with their recovery.

Glennon told the audience to be proactive in managing work comp cases involving the elderly, even for cases where the worker was injured decades ago.

“I have one patient who is 80 who was injured at 22,” he said. “I’m a firm believer that when you have these older injuries, check up on these patients at least once a year.”

In any case involving the elderly, Glennon said to make sure the patient’s needs are being met, that they’re receiving proper vaccinations and routine medical checkups. Look for red flags —untreated wounds, recent ER visits — that could lead to a downward spiral of health problems. “And whatever we can do to keep the respiratory system healthy is money well spent,” he said.

Glennon added that technology, while expensive, can be more cost effective in the long run for the aging patient. Self-operated lifts to help the patient get out of bed, for example, or a wheelchair that helps a patient stand upright is likely cheaper than the costs of a home health aide over months and years.

As he wrapped up his presentation, Glennon said the aging workforce has caused employers to adjust their approach to risk management and workplace health and safety. Today the focus is on wellness and prevention — smoking cessation and weight management, for example — as well as modifying job tasks to better suit the worker.

The power of a time change: plan now to ease the transition

The Ohio Safety Congress and Expo just happens to fall right before the switch to Daylight Savings Time (DST) this year. As we gather to raise awareness and knowledge of workplace safety, now is the perfect time to review the how the time change impacts us on the job.

The loss of just one hour of sleep effects workplaces more than you may have considered. In fact, many research institutions and universities have conducted studies in this area.

Interesting facts:

  • There is a 5.7-percent increase in workplace and occupational accidents and a 68-percent increase in the severity of those accidents on the Monday following DST change in March.
  • There is a 17-percent increase in fatal traffic crashes on the Monday following DST change in March.
  • There is a 5-percent increase in the heart attack rate in the first three weekdays following DST change in March.
  • However, there’s no significant increase in accidents or heart attacks during switch back to standard time in the fall. One-hour of additional sleep is a good thing.

Sleep deprivation is the most commonly cited cause for these statistics. DST results in an average decrease in sleep of 40 minutes which contributes to “sleep debt”.  Lack of sleep causes attention levels to drop. Loss of sleep disturbs sleep patterns and disrupts a person’s bio-rhythm.

Interesting note – Arizona and Hawaii do not participate in DST.

So while we will soon bask in the glow of more daylight and look forward to warmer weather that’s just around the corner, we should also prepare in advance of Sunday’s time change.

What can do to ease the transition to DST?

  • Begin eating dinner and going to bed 15 to 30 minutes earlier several days prior to the time change.
  • Increase exercise (particularly outdoor exercise) on Sunday morning following the start of DST. A brisk walk on Sunday morning will stimulate serotonin release in the brain.
  • Increase exposure to natural sunlight for at least one to two hours. High dose artificial lighting can help too but is not as effective as natural sunlight.
  • Avoid caffeine and alcohol in the days just prior and after DST change. These can contribute to disruption in sleep patterns.

A positive takeaway to the start of DST is the reminder to check our homes for safety concerns such as replacing batteries in smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, checking emergency supply kits to ensure they’re properly stocked, and surveying your home for hazardous materials that can be properly disposed of.

References:

Join us today! OSC17 and Medical & Health Symposium

Each year, thousands of attendees reap the benefits of the Ohio Safety Congress & Expo and 2017 is off to a great start with more than 8,000 pre-registered.

It was a busy first day at #OSC17! Eighty-five sessions were held and thousands visited the Expo Marketplace.

Speakers ranged from Ohio Lt. Governor Mary Taylor, who kicked off OSC at the opening session, to Kristen Kulinowski, Board Member of the US Chemical Safety Board presenting on the hidden hazards of hot work. In the afternoon general session, Dr. Dale Hall moved the audience to a standing ovation as he shared his inspiring personal story of paralysis and rehabilitation.

There’s a lot more in store for our record-breaking crowd with today’s kickoff of the second annual Medical & Health Symposium.

The symposium is geared toward health-care professionals and features nationally-renowned speakers from Ohio and around the United States with a focus on comprehensive care for injured workers.

See OSC17 and symposium schedules here, in the event guide or on the mobile app. Stay tuned to @OhioBWC on Twitter and keep an eye on hashtags #OSC17 and #BWCmhs for coverage.

Here’s a look back at some of yesterday’s activities in tweets.