Ohio State Fair tickets up for grabs!

We’re a proud sponsor of the 2018 Ohio State Fair

You may have noticed we’re running a safety campaign! There are commercials, online messages, YouTube videos and more – all in an effort to reach Ohioans to help keep them safe.

We know that slips, trips, falls, overexertions and driving-related accidents in Ohio make up approximately 60 percent of all serious BWC claims each year.

BeSafeOhio.com is a new website with all kinds of good information to help prevent these kinds of accidents. Whether at work or at home, we want people to think about how they are in control of their own safety and are the first line of defense to prevent injuries that would cause them to miss work or disrupt their normal day-to-day lives.

We are teaming up with the Ohio State Fair to raise awareness about BeSafeOhio.com, and we need your help!

As part of our partnership with the Ohio State Fair, we received a number of admission tickets and a variety of concert tickets.

Help us spread the word about BeSafeOhio.com and you could win some of these tickets.

Here’s how to win!

  1. Follow us on Twitter @OhioBWC so we can direct message you for contact info. (If you don’t have a Twitter account, it’s easy to create one – all you need is an email address and a password).
  2. Look for our tweet about BeSafeOhio.com, starting on July 17. It will include this message: “Ohio State Fair tickets up for grabs! See details, follow us and retweet! https://t.co/zo9uoqitDg #Ohio #giveaway”
  3. Retweet that message to your followers and you could win.

Note: Please check your settings under “privacy and safety” so you can “receive direct messages from anyone.”

The first 50 to retweet will receive a four-pack of admission tickets.

The next 50 to retweet will receive a two-pack of admission tickets.

We’ll keep an eye on retweets and if you’re one of the winners, we’ll contact you privately from @OhioBWC via Twitter direct messaging for your name and mailing address. Winners will be identified using the Twitter date/time stamp.

We also have concert tickets to State Fair entertainment: Reba McEntire, Lee Brice, Styx/Cheap Trick, and Kidz Bop Live. Look out for the tweet promoting those at 1 p.m. Monday, July 23. It will have the message: “Ohio State Fair concert tickets up for grabs! See details, follow us and retweet! #Ohio #giveaway.” There are only five sets of four tickets for those so retweet fast! Again, we’ll direct message winners to see which tickets they’d like, in the order in which they retweeted.

Organizations that do business with BWC, such as third-party administrators, group-rating sponsors, safety council sponsors and managed care organizations aren’t eligible to win. But your non-employee followers are eligible, so make sure to retweet so they benefit. Also, BWC employees and family members are not eligible to participate. Limit one set of fair tickets or one set of concert tickets per Twitter account.

Thank you for helping us raise awareness about safety at home and in the workplace! And, whether you win or not, please stop by our booth in the Marketplace building to see and hear our safety campaign messages first-hand. We look forward to seeing you at the Ohio State Fair.

For safety campaign tips and resources, please visit www.BeSafeOhio.com.

SCBA fit testing – Ensuring firefighters’ safety equipment is actually safe

By David Meronk, BWC Industrial Safety Consultant Specialist

Firefighting techniques and equipment used to fight fires have evolved over the years, along with the equipment that protects firefighters from harm.

The self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) plays a big role in protecting the health of firefighters. Knowing is understanding and fire departments are slowly beginning to grasp the real difference safety gear – and its proper use – can make in protecting firefighters from cancer and other ailments.

This increased awareness comes as Ohio now allows presumptive cancer workers’ compensation claims for those who have or may become ill due to specific forms of cancer while performing official duties as a firefighter.

As a safety consultant for BWC’s Division of Safety & Hygiene, I routinely visit fire stations to review and make recommendations on improving safety to protect our first responders. I often advise on use and care of SCBAs, air cascade air fill stations and firefighting turnout gear.

While fire departments do often lack the funding needed to replace the safety equipment, what surprises me most as I travel and meet with fire chiefs is not lack of proper equipment but improper use of that equipment and a lack of well-written safety programs.

Reviewing and updating policies can help reduce exposure to injury and illness, while promoting good safety practices. I find many chiefs are shocked when they discover their current polices are non-compliant to National Fire Protection Association and Occupational Safety and Health Administration standards.

I remind chiefs that “accidents do not discriminate” and encourage them to embrace the opportunity to make changes that can prevent injuries. A professional saying in the Fire Emergency Services is, “If you didn’t write it down, you didn’t do it.”

Especially alarming to me is inadequate or completely nonexistent SCBA “fit testing.”

The respiratory protection program requires fit testing, and SCBA facepiece fit testing is necessary to ensure masks have an adequate mask seal and an acceptable fit factor. Fit tests evaluate the interaction between the firefighter’s face and the SCBA facepiece to ensure a correct and proper fit.

Per OSHA standards, employers must obtain a written recommendation from a designated physician or other licensed health care professional (PLHCP) regarding each employee’s ability to use a respirator before fit testing. The written release(s) must apply to every type of respirator an employee will use.

Fit testing is critical because firefighters work in environments that are unstable and constantly changing. They are also exposed to unknown inhalation hazards while doing their job. Therefore, they deserve nothing less than the specialized training, tools and equipment to perform their duties safely and efficiently.

Fire departments can conduct fit testing in-house, if they have qualified individuals to administer the test with a calibrated machine. Certified equipment representatives can also administer the test if needed. Depending on the type of fit test machine and types of SCBAs, fire departments can conduct multiple tests of different air packs and masks by switching over the correct fittings for testing.

Fit testing helps maintain proper sizing of the facepiece, safety compliance, training verification and documentation. Fit testing must occur before a firefighter uses a SCBA in an immediately dangerous to life or health environment and once annually thereafter.

There are two types of fit testing: qualitative and quantitative. The qualitative test requires using a sensitizer to test for an air-tight seal. The quantitative test uses a device to measure the amount of air from the environment outside the facepiece in relation to the air inside the facepiece. The fit test includes time-allotted exercises that testers perform on the equipment to make sure it passes. The fire department must maintain all testing records until the next required fit.

There are several exemplary fire departments that do a great job of fit testing, and maintaining solid safety policies. I count the City of Findlay among them.

I’m on a mission to move all Ohio fire departments into that exemplary category. Improperly used safety equipment isn’t safe, and well-written safety policies are great but useless if not followed.

Visit our website to request a consultation with a BWC safety expert, or email me at david.m.15@bwc.state.oh.us for more information.

David Meronk has 30 years of safety experience, including firefighting in military, civil service, private industry, and state and federal contract work overseas. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Fire & Safety Engineering from the University of Cincinnati and a Master’s degree in Emergency Management – Terrorism from Jacksonville State University.

Distracted driving: Do you feel lucky?

By Joe Koehl, BWC Loss Prevention Supervisor

To quote Dirty Harry in the 1971 classic film: “You gotta ask yourself one question: ‘Do I feel lucky?’  Well do you punk?” Distracted driving may not seem as perilous as staring down a scowling Dirty Harry, but really, it is. Distracted driving will take more lives in real life than all the hard-boiled detectives and gumshoes in Hollywood combined.

So, the next time you go to reach for your cell phone, makeup, newspaper or Big Mac, you gotta ask yourself one question: “Do I feel lucky?” Because you are literally putting your life and the life of others at risk, and for what?

In 2015, 391,000 people were injured in motor vehicle crashes involving a distracted driver and 3,477 died. That’s approximately nine fatalities and more than 1,000 injured every day in the United States.

What do you think those drivers thought before the crash? Most likely, they figured they were a good driver and could multi-task. After all, they do it all the time, it’s the other guy who is the problem. Well, hundreds of thousands of drivers every year are proven wrong. You can avoid being one of those statistics.

These are three types of distractions that you need to avoid while driving.

  • Visual: taking your eyes off the road
  • Manual: taking your hands off the wheel
  • Cognitive: taking your mind off driving

And some tasks such as texting, eating, reading or applying makeup could be a trifecta of distractions. So, the next time you’re tempted to take your eyes, hands or mind off the wheel, you gotta ask yourself one question: “Do I feel lucky?  Well, do you…” Because you are literally putting your life and the life of others at risk.  So, do you feel lucky?

For more information, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Distracted Driving webpage.

Aggressive driving – How much time do you really save?

By Joe Koehl, BWC Loss Prevention Supervisor

Does it irritate you when you’re trying to be an upstanding, law-abiding, defensive driver, keeping a safe three-second following distance from the car in front of you, and somebody changes lanes and cuts you off? And then another car and another car and another car? It can irk me to no end!

So, really, how much time do we save by being an aggressive driver? How much time do we save by staying in the fast lane on the bumper of the car in front of us and letting nobody, I mean nobody, not even our own grandmother cut in front of us. Let’s do the math.

If your following distance is one second versus three seconds and you follow that car for 10 miles, you’ll save about two seconds. And if you prevented one car from cutting in front of you, you saved about five whole seconds. Heck, if you are really aggressive and prevented 10 cars from cutting in front of you, you saved about 30 whole seconds off a 10- to 20-minute trip.

On the other hand, you most likely increased your stress, increased your risk of a ticket (yes, it is illegal to follow too closely/tailgate) and increased your chance of being in an accident, all for 30 seconds. Although probably less than 30 seconds, because as soon as a car cuts in front of you, another cuts out into a “faster” lane.

If you were unlucky enough to be “that” car in an accident or pulled over, you just increased not only your stress but the stress level of about a thousand other commuters who are now affected by your decision. And your own grandmother, who you would not let in front of you, is ready to box your ears! That is a lot of bad karma – bad juju – coming back on you.

So, next time you start getting irritated, just smile, turn on some music, keep that safe following distance and get safely to your destination a few seconds later. And if someone is tailgating you, increase your following distance a little bit more (not to irritate) but to make sure you both will be able to stop in an emergency.

National Safety Month: Slips, trips and falls are no joke

By Erik Harden, BWC Public Information Officer

Pratfalls in television and movies can be comedy gold. Chevy Chase practically built his career on them. But slips, trips and falls at home or at work are no joke.

Stats from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration show most general industry incidents involve slips, trips and falls, causing 15 percent of all accidental deaths. Here in Ohio, 1 out of every 6 workplace fatalities involve slips, trips, and falls.

Slips, trips and falls can be fatal outside of work too. In fact, they’re the fourth leading cause of deaths in the home.

Stats like the ones above are the reason preventing slips, trips and falls are a major focus of our current safety campaign. It’s also why we participated in last month’s National Safety Stand-Down to Prevent Falls.

The good news is slips, trips and falls are almost always preventable if we all just pay a little more attention and take a few, simple precautions. For example:

  • Keeping walking areas clear and dry.
  • Using proper footwear for the job.
  • Placing ladders on clean, dry, stable surfaces.
  • Looking around before starting a task.

Finally, office environments aren’t immune from hazards, including slips, trips and falls. This article from the National Safety Council (NSC) has helpful information on recognizing and eliminating hidden dangers in the office.

For additional information, visit the NSC’s National Safety Month webpage.

National Safety Month: Worker wellness and workplace safety – a dynamic duo

By Erik Harden, BWC Public Information Officer

Abbott and Costello, peanut butter and jelly, R2-D2 and C-3PO. Some people, foods and droids are just better together. The same goes for employee wellness and workplace safety.

The National Safety Council’s Campbell Institute recently released a report stating workplaces should expand beyond initiatives such as smoking cessation and weight loss to include health and safety issues such as fitness, nutrition, workplace fatigue, overtime management and job security.

This same approach is the foundation for the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health’s (NIOSH’s) Total Worker Health® Program. As a Total Worker Health Affiliate, we work with NIOSH to foster and reinforce an integrated approach to protecting and promoting worker well-being. We’re also committed to improving the health and wellness of Ohio workers with programs such as our recently launched Better You, Better Ohio!™ program and our workplace wellness grants.

Our Better You, Better Ohio! program provides health and wellness resources and services to workers who work for small employers (50 or fewer workers) in high-risk industries. Eligible employers and workers can sign up at no cost and through a simple, paperless process. Workers can pursue a healthier lifestyle through:

  • Free health assessments and biometric screenings to better understand their health and well-being.
  • A member engagement website that allows them to develop health plans and track their progress to achieve their health goals.
  • Health and wellness awareness, education and training.
  • Digital coaching to help them on their journey to better health.

Meanwhile, Ohio employers can reap the benefits of having a healthy workforce. Healthy employees are less prone to injury. And, when they are injured, their ability to recover is enhanced greatly.

While we’re working for Ohioans, the National Safety Council (NSC) is promoting wellness as this week’s National Safety Month theme. Visit the NSC website for materials like this wellness tip sheet.

National Safety Month: Will you be ready if disaster strikes?

By Erik Harden, BWC Public Information Officer

From volcanic eruptions to active shooter situations, the news in recent weeks has been a reminder that unexpected dangers come in many forms and can be just around the corner.

Emergency preparedness – the theme of week one of National Safety Month – is also a reminder that we can all do something to be ready when disaster strikes. The National Safety Council (NSC) reminds us emergency situations can happen at any time, making it crucial that we’re prepared for the unexpected long before it happens.

The NSC has created an emergency preparedness tip sheet that outlines ways to plan for emergency situations and how to stock emergency kits for your home and car.

It’s also important to know what disasters and hazards could affect your area. Tsunami preparedness isn’t something we need to worry about in Ohio. On the other hand, flooding and tornadoes are common weather emergencies here. Ready.gov provides a webpage with links to inform you about what to do before, during and after a variety of emergency situations.

The first step is having an emergency plan for you and your family. Start by asking yourself these four questions.

  1. How will I receive emergency alerts and warnings?
  2. What is my shelter plan?
  3. What is my evacuation route?
  4. What is my family/household communication plan?

Visit ready.gov’s Make a Plan page for help with the questions above and for a comprehensive list for making an emergency preparedness plan.

Remember: disasters don’t plan ahead, but you can.