Are you prepared for an active aggressor incident?

By Darrin Blosser, BWC Threat Assessment Coordinator

As much as we would like to say it isn’t, across the United States, active aggressor situations are occurring far too frequently. Almost daily, sometimes more than once a day, we hear of another active aggressor-type situation happening somewhere. They’re happening in schools, shopping malls, places of employment, churches and even on the street. Sadly, these terrible acts have almost become a “norm.”

Today, everyone should be asking themselves, “Am I prepared to react to an active aggressor situation, and what will I do?”

State, county and local government entities across the nation are implementing policies, procedures and training to help prepare them for an active aggressor incident. Whether you are in the private sector, or a public entity, we all need to consider putting  policies in place and training our employees on how to react and defend themselves.

At BWC, we’ve taken steps to help prepare ourselves for this very situation. In fact, our Security personnel have provided training to employees and have implemented policies since 2009. In addition, to meet requirements from the Department of Administrative Services, our security team and human resources division recently completed a review of our active aggressor policy and procedures, and have provided training for our floor wardens/safety teams and security guards in each office across the state.

Representatives from the Ohio State Highway Patrol have given our employees additional training and helped our offices identify safe rooms to prepare us in the event of an active aggressor situation.

In the event of an active aggressor situation, BWC, along with law enforcement personnel and the Department of Homeland Security, recommends the defense techniques: Run, Hide, Fight.

Run – This is the best way to react in an active aggressor situation. Do not panic and sit around making yourself an easy target. If possible, running from the situation is always the best way to protect yourself and prevent you from becoming a victim.

Hide – If you find yourself in an active aggressor situation and you cannot run (i.e. your only exit is blocked by the aggressor or the aggressor is so close to you that you don’t feel running is your best course of action), you need to hide.

Should this be your only choice of defense, find a room, closet, or another location with a door that locks from the inside. Be sure to turn off the lights and, if possible, find something to use as a shield (i.e. desk, cabinet, etc.).

Put your cell phone on silent and call 911. Be very quiet and breathe. It is OK to call 911 and not say anything; whisper when you feel you can without the aggressor hearing you. Most importantly, DO NOT COME OUT and be prepared for the next step – FIGHT.

Do not be tricked by the aggressor possibly saying, “It’s the police, open the door or come out.” Stay hidden and call 911 if you can. They will tell you if the police have secured the area and actually want you to come out of hiding. Law enforcement will clear the room(s) and will find you, but understand you may be hiding for a long time.

Fight –This is when there is nothing else for you to do and it is evident the aggressor is going to confront you. Find things to use as improvised weapons (pencils, staplers, laptops, anything). Try to throw things at the aggressor’s face, especially the eyes. It is a natural reaction for all of us to defend our eyes.

Have a predetermined mindset that you will survive and are not going to go down without a fight.

As unfortunate and as difficult as it is to say, we must have a mindset every day that there is the possibility we will be exposed to an active aggressor situation. Be prepared, be vigilant, have an escape plan and be prepared to defend yourself.

For more detailed information, click here.

We want you to present at OSC18!

By Julie Darby-Martin, BWC Safety Congress Manager

Do you have knowledge to share that can keep workplaces safe and healthy?

Are you good in front of a crowd?

If so, you could be a potential presenter for our Ohio Safety Congress & Expo 2018 (OSC18), the nation’s largest occupational-focused safety and health event.

We’re now accepting presentation proposals for this multi-day event, scheduled for March 7 – 9, 2018, in Columbus, Ohio.

OSC18 will feature more than 200 educational sessions taught by experts from across the nation. Topics include:

  • Safety management;
  • Government and regulation;
  • Health, wellness and rehabilitation;
  • Emergency preparedness and response;
  • Workers’ compensation;
  • Driving and transportation;
  • Training and education;
  • Personal protective equipment;
  • And much more.

We are seeking one-hour educational sessions, panel discussions and live demonstrations as well as three-hour and six-hour workshops. For OSC18, we are particularly interested in topics related to slips, trips and falls, overexertion, and motor vehicle accidents. These injury types comprise more than 60 percent of Ohio’s workplace injuries.

Typical attendees include occupational safety and risk-management directors, workers’ compensation managers, health and wellness leaders, and individuals with an interest in occupational safety and health, wellness, rehabilitation and medical treatment of injured workers.

We’re accepting applications until July 31. For application guidelines and to register, visit our call for presentations site. Want to get a glimpse of the event? Take a look back at our OSC17 Twitter recap.

Fatigue equals high costs for workers, employers

By Delia Treaster, PhD, CPE, BWC Ergonomic Technical Advisor

“I’m so tired.” How often have you said this? Fatigue is a normal part of everyday life.

Everyone gets tired after a long day at work or after a sleepless night. Even prolonged sitting can make us feel tired; just imagine how you feel after a long drive. Most of the time, we can recover quickly after taking a break or getting a good night’s sleep.

But what happens if fatigue is a chronic condition? Chronic fatigue could be the result of an undiagnosed medical condition, overwork or sleep deprivation. Diabetes, anemia and sleep apnea are some of the medical conditions that can cause chronic fatigue. Work can be another source of chronic fatigue. Shift work, extended work hours or physically intense jobs are work factors that contribute to chronic fatigue.

The high cost of fatigue
Chronic fatigue has a high cost for workers and employers. The personal cost of chronic fatigue is always feeling tired, as if you just don’t have enough energy for routine activities. It can worsen your health as well. For example, undiagnosed sleep apnea can rob you of a good night’s sleep, resulting in daytime sleepiness and lethargy.

Poor sleep has been linked with an increased risk of obesity, diabetes, stroke, hypertension and heart failure. Getting an accurate medical diagnosis, then receiving proper treatment should solve the underlying medical causes for chronic fatigue.

Work-related chronic fatigue also has high costs for employers. Tired workers are less productive and less safe. They may make more mistakes because they’re too tired to pay attention to details or don’t remember procedures properly. Tired workers may be tempted to take shortcuts and may not comply with standard operating procedures and safety regulations.

More accidents occur when workers are fatigued; there are more accidents and injuries on night shift than on day shift. Absenteeism rises with extended work hours and poorly designed shift schedules. Morale and teamwork also suffer when workers are tired and irritable. This can lead to poorer quality of both goods and customer service.

Other costs include increased re-work due to poorer quality; greater overtime to compensate for greater absenteeism; and more worker injuries from overexertions or repetitive motions. The overall cost can be millions of dollars lost every year in fatigue-related expenses. Using extended hours and overtime instead of hiring additional workers may seem to be a cost-effective way of increasing production while controlling labor costs, but in light of the true cost of chronically fatigued workers, it is short-sighted and counterproductive.

Employers can take proactive steps to reduce work-related fatigue. Scheduling work shifts to avoid disrupting workers’ sleep schedules will help them get a good night’s sleep and be well-rested. Re-designing work to reduce the physical demands of the job can reduce excessive fatigue and overexertions and keep workers safe.

Fatigue is a physiological state, one that cannot be overcome with willpower, training or education. Sufficient rest and recovery time is the best way to reduce fatigue and its associated costs.

Working hard in the yard? Remember these safety tips

By Andrea Dong, BWC Occupational Safety and Hygiene Fellow

Think about a typical grounds maintenance worker, like a landscaper or tree trimmer, and the tasks they perform on the job. Mowing, weeding, trimming, watering and planting – these probably sound familiar, and you likely have a similar to-do list for your yard at home.

Now take a moment to think about your awareness of the different hazards in this type of work. Are you taking the necessary precautions to protect yourself and everyone around you?

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that landscaping workers experienced 9,030 injuries in 2015. The following are some guidelines to help you avoid injuries while performing these tasks at home.

Mowing the lawn is probably something many of you have been doing for years, and it has become second nature. However, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) estimates lawn mowing injuries sent nearly 82,000 people to the emergency room in 2015.

Before you begin, make sure you’re wearing the proper clothes; long pants, sturdy shoes with a good grip, safety glasses and ear plugs are recommended. Inspect your lawn mower before using and make sure there are no cracks, nicks or parts missing. Next you will need to add fuel to the mower. Never do this while the motor is running to reduce the risk of fires and explosions.

Now that you have the right clothing, have checked for damage and have fuel in your engine, it’s finally time to start mowing, right? Before you answer, consider the terrain where you will be working. Debris, like sticks or rocks, can be swept up by the blades and thrown out from under the mower.

The standard mower blade rotates at thousands of RPM, which translates to hundreds of MPH, and any object thrown will also travel this fast. Use the discharge chute guard to deflect debris. Watch out for bystanders, especially children, to make sure other people will not be hit.

Consider the type of mower you own along with the environment. Walk-behind and riding lawn mowers have different operating procedures and different safety concerns. For example, does your lawn have a slope or incline? With walk-behind mowers you should always mow across the slope, never up or down. If you slip, you do not want your feet to get caught between the blades.

If you use a riding mower, you should be mowing up and down the slope, which decreases your chances of tipping. If there are any drop-offs, ditches or embankments, use a string trimmer to cut grass near the edge.

Hand tools – such as shovels, hoes, rakes, shears, trowels, pruners and others – can also cause serious injury if not handled correctly. The CPSC estimates more than 64,000 injuries in 2015 were due to garden hand tool use. Only use the tool for the tasks it was designed to do.

Keep tools in good condition, and do not use if there is any damage. Look for splintered, loose, bent, or cracked handles, mushroomed heads, sprung joints, and worn teeth. Wear clothing like long pants, long sleeved-shirts, gloves, close-toed shoes and safety glasses for added protection.

Aside from hazards like cuts and bruises, hand tools can also cause strains or sprains. Overextending yourself doing yard work at home increases any soreness and fatigue from working at your job.

Straighten your back when using long-handled garden tools. Avoid using tools above shoulder height. Rotate tasks as frequently as possible to reduce your risk for repetitive motion injuries.

Working outside can also expose you to environmental hazards, with heat stress being a common occurrence in the summer. Some symptoms of heat exhaustion are dizziness, headaches, fatigue, irritation, and clammy, moist, and flushed skin.

Heat stroke is a medical emergency that includes symptoms like hot, dry skin, disorientation or confusion, convulsions, or unconsciousness. It’s important to stay cool and drink water frequently to avoid overheating. Take frequent breaks and try to complete heavy work in the coolest part of the day, usually between 6 and 10 a.m.

By following these guidelines, you can ensure your yard looks great while you and your family stay safe and healthy this summer.

Are you keeping current with electrical safety?

May is National Electrical Safety Month

By Erik Harden, BWC Public Information Officer

Electricity is something we take for granted. Whether it’s brewing our first cup of coffee in the morning, charging our phone or lighting our home, we rely on it and rarely stop to think about where it comes from. Unfortunately, we can easily overlook the hazards it can pose as well.

Each year, the Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI) sponsors National Electrical Safety Month to remind the public of these hazards with the goal of reducing electrically-related fatalities, injuries and property loss.

This year’s theme is “Decoding the National Electrical Code® (NEC) to Prevent Shock and Electrocution.” All 50 states have adopted the NEC, also referred to as the NFPA 70, as the standard for safe electrical installation, inspection and use to protect people and property from avoidable electrical hazards at home and in the workplace. As part of this year’s campaign, the ESFI has created the following infographics.

Electrical safety and the workplace
The most-recent EFSI data indicate there were 2,480 nonfatal workplace electrical injuries resulting in days away from work in 2015, the highest level since 2009. Additionally, 134 work-related electrical fatalities occurred in 2015. The highest rate of fatal electrical injury occurred in the utility industry, followed closely by the construction industry.

We’re here to help you identify hazards and reduce the risk of electrical injuries and fatalities in your workplace with our free consulting services. Our library also offers numerous resources on this topic and we have two training courses scheduled in June in our Canton customer service office (see descriptions below).

Electrical Basics (half-day course)
This course is for workers who work with or are exposed to electrical hazards in the workplace as well as employees responsible for safety programs at their facilities including administrators, supervisors, safety coordinators, safety teams and frontline workers. It covers:

  • The components of an electrical safe work practice program;
  • Strategies and tools for developing a written electrical safe work practice program;
  • OSHA compliance issues relevant to electrical safe work practices.

Electrical Hazard Recognition and Abatement (multi-day course)
This course is for individuals responsible for electrical safety, including safety and maintenance personnel, engineers and others who need to improve their hazard recognition skills. The course focuses on hazard recognition rather than design or engineering, and participants do not need a background in electricity. It covers:

  • Electrical hazard recognition and fundamentals from a safety perspective;
  • Basic physical laws that control electrical actions;
  • Effects of electrical shock on the human body;
  • Recognition and prevention of the four kinds of electrical hazards – shocks, burns, explosions and fires;
  • Grounding concepts, including equipment ground, ground fault circuit interrupters and system grounding;
  • OSHA, NEC and Ohio Administrative Code regulations and their application.

To register for these classes or any of our other course offerings, visit the BWC Learning Center.

We took a STAND-Down to prevent falls

By Erik Harden, BWC Public Information Officer

Some highly-skilled instructors and one dummy helped drive home the importance of proper fall protection training and equipment at a Safety Stand-Down event we hosted last Friday.

A packed house attended the free training led by experts from Honeywell Safety Products at our Ohio Center for Occupational Safety and Health in Pickerington. The event, held in conjunction with the National Safety Stand-Down to Prevent Falls in Construction, was a huge success.

Mark Cangemi, a trainer with Honeywell Safety Products, started with an informative presentation highlighting OSHA’s rule updates to walking-working surfaces standards and establishing personal fall protection systems requirements.

He stressed that the key to fall prevention is the elimination of hazards, citing the mantra of:

– Eliminating hazards at the outset;
– Administrative controls;
– Personal protective equipment (PPE).

He reiterated that PPE is actually the last line of defense for fall prevention, and said, “Just using the equipment is not enough to save your life; you must also use it correctly.”

After the classroom portion of the training, attendees moved outdoors for a demonstration of falls with or without fall-arrest systems.

The demonstration, led by Cangemi and Honeywell’s Dave Gallegly, used a weighted dummy to show realistic re-enactments under various conditions.

Cangemi also demonstrated how to properly don body a body harness and what to do after a fall but before being rescued.

Earlier in the week, our Youngstown Customer Service Office staff worked with Boak & Sons, Inc. to have a Safety Stand-Down event in the Youngstown area. Boak & Sons hosted the event in its large warehouse complete with needed equipment, set-up and refreshments for 101 attendees from 31 companies.

  

Representatives from RETTEW of Lancaster, Pennsylvania provided the training. The 60-minute high-intensity training started at 7:30 a.m. to allow workers to attend before going to work. It covered the principles of fall prevention, fall protection and fall rescue.

BWC actively participated in numerous stand-down events across Ohio last week, including joining the Ohio Department of Transportation for stand-downs at four major highway bridge construction sites around the state. Work paused at these sites to discuss safety and fall protection with staff. We also participated in seven events in the Cincinnati area that totaled 600 employees, including 200 at one event alone.

Additionally, many safety councils got into the act by addressing fall prevention at their April meetings.  Eighteen councils in the Canton/Cambridge area are participating in a “safety council challenge” to see which one has the largest percentage of its members holding their own Stand-Down events during the month of May.

Stand-Down events like these are critical for stemming the tide of falls in the workplace. Cangemi reminded attendees at the Pickerington event that from 1992 to 2016 there were approximately two fatalities a day from workplace falls in the U.S; in 2016 there were 800 fatalities from workplace falls.

Nearly 30 percent of all claims filed with BWC are from fall injuries, and falls in Ohio result in an average of 14 fatalities a year. The majority of these incidents were preventable through awareness, training and proper use of equipment.

Want to see more from Safety Stand-Down events around the country? Check out this Twitter storify link.

Take the time to thank those who keep us safe

By Abe Al-Tarawneh, Ph.D., Superintendent, BWC Division of Safety & Hygiene

Tomorrow is Occupational Safety and Health Professional (OSHP) Day. It’s an opportunity to recognize the contributions of the men and women who help us go home safe from work at the end of each day.

The American Society of Safety Engineers established OSHP Day in 2006 to encourage employers, co-workers and the general public to say thanks for the life-saving efforts of occupational safety and health professionals across the globe. OSHP Day is always on the Wednesday of North American Occupational Safety and Health Week (NAOSH), which takes place from May 7 to 13 this year.

As the leader of BWC’s Division of Safety & Hygiene, I’d like to thank all of the safety and health professionals for their contributions in keeping Ohio’s workforce, workplaces and communities safe. I’d like to thank all of our safety and health professionals at BWC, and say how humbled I am to work with these dedicated individuals day in and day out. Their professionalism and dedication to keeping Ohio’s workplaces safe and healthy is truly inspiring, and I thank them for their service to our state.

Our team of dedicated professionals is committed to providing world-class safety services and programs for Ohio’s workforce and employers. Through these safety programs and services, BWC plays a vital role in helping Ohio outpace the rest of the nation in reducing workplace injuries.

Between calendar years 2010 and 2014, injury rates per 100 employees among private sector employees decreased 16.7 percent in the BWC system. The Bureau of Labor Statistics Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses showed the rest of the nation experienced an 8.6 percent drop over this same time period. Our system also experienced an additional 4-percent drop in injuries in 2015 alone.

If you haven’t already done so, I encourage you to get in touch with us and discover what I already know: our team of top-notch safety and health professionals is one of the best you’ll find.