Talk safety with us at the Farm Science Review

By Erik Harden, BWC Public Information Officer

With nearly 78,000 farms producing $9.3 billion in revenue, Ohio is one of the top five states in the U.S. for agriculture.

This robust industry remains a critical component of Ohio’s economy and one of the state’s major industries for employment. It’s also high-hazard work with great potential for workplace injuries and, unfortunately, even fatalities.

With all of this in mind, our Division of Safety & Hygiene (DSH) is once again promoting its programs and services at the Farm Science Review – one of the premier agricultural trade and education shows in the nation. Hosted by The Ohio State University, the event starts today and runs through Thursday at the Molly Caren Agricultural Center in London, Ohio.

For the fourth consecutive year, DSH representatives will be available at our booth to speak with attendees about the free programs and services we offer to assist employers and workers in Ohio’s agribusiness.

For example, our industrial hygienists can help farms guard against environmental hazards, including chemicals, pesticides, fertilizers, dust, mold, and extreme noise and temperatures.

Our ergonomists can illustrate ways to cut down on hazards resulting from:

  • Manual materials handling.
  • Repetitive, hand-intensive work.
  • Poor workstation design.
  • Sedentary work.

Our safety consultants can help prevent common but costly injuries to protect the bottom line of Ohio’s agriculture businesses and their workers.

If you’re going to Farm Science Review this week, stop by and see us! We’re booth No. 32 in Building 513.

Related links

 

‘Walking down grain’ is a deadly operation (Don’t do it)

Two workplace deaths in July heighten awareness for grain bin safety

By Bruce Loughner CSP, BWC Technical Safety Advisor

This is my second blog post on deadly grain bin accidents this year, and I hope it’s the last.

But as a safety professional for the state of Ohio, I feel obligated to spread the word on grain bin safety precautions following the tragic loss of two lives at a Toledo grain facility July 19.

I don’t know all the details surrounding the accident that claimed the lives of a 29-year-old Rossford man and a 56-year-old Perrysburg man that hot Friday afternoon, but according to news reports the two men died when they climbed inside a grain silo to break up compacted grain and unplug a blocked hole. This is a hazardous process known as “walking down grain.” The two were engulfed in grain and suffocated.

OSHA prohibits “walking down grain” and similar practices in flat storage structures. Regulations also limit employee access, entry and work in any grain storage bin. When permitted, the standards require strict hazard control measures and training for all employees assigned tasks that require bin entry. OSHA has a variety of resources that explain the deadly hazards associated with grain handling operations.

In a March 2019 BWC Blog post, I spoke about a grain bin accident that occurred years ago when three young boys entered a grain bin to break up stored corn so that it could flow. The two employees in Toledo were performing a similar task.

News reports indicate emergency responders had early contact with one of the trapped workers. Unfortunately, the rescue turned into a recovery operation as time passed and the grain suffocated the two employees. The hazards are well known, and environmental conditions are ripe for grain to bridge and develop air pockets.

Two other recent grain-bin deaths in Ohio involved a 20-year-old worker being caught in an auger and a 68-year-old farmer being engulfed in a bin. Each death was preventable. New innovations in equipment with proper training and knowledge can be used to complete the task without ever entering the grain bins.  All grain handling deaths and serious injuries can be prevented.

As the first line of defense, BWC encourages eliminating hazards through engineering control measures, including mechanical raking devices, proper ventilation for dust and mold control, and the use of vibrating mechanisms to break up bridged grain.

Prior to entering a grain bin, take the following precautions:

  • Conduct a job safety analysis to identify specific hazards and to determine the best course of action for eliminating or controlling the hazards using engineering controls, safe work practices, and personal protective equipment.
  • Treat the grain bin as a confined space and develop specific procedures for determining if it is safe to enter, how to enter, how to work safely in the space, and how to get out safely in the event of an emergency. Develop a communication and rescue plan.
  • Develop a program and procedures for lock out and tag out of all energy sources. Never allow employees to enter the grain bin while the auger is activated or when it could become activated.
  • Provide the appropriate personal protective equipment (e.g. respirator, safety harness, and lifeline) depending on the hazards that might be encountered. Train employees how to use it properly.
  • Contact the local fire department for assistance in developing rescue procedures. Practice self-rescue and other rescue procedures.
  • Train and educate employees engaged in grain bin operations by emphasizing hazards and safety procedures.

Whether you operate a small farm or a large handling and storage operation for exporting grain, a BWC consultant can assist you.

We provide on-site consultations to assess hazards, identify engineering and other control measures, and make you aware of federal and state requirements.

In addition, we can help with the development of site-specific safety procedures, training and educational resources to address the deadly hazards associated with grain bin operations.

Check out this BWC brochure for additional information. For more on the July 19 tragedy, read this story from the Toledo Blade.

Looking out for aging workers

May is Older Americans Month

By Stephanie McCloud, Administrator/CEO, Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation

Americans are living longer, and they’re working longer too. Today, one in every five American workers is over 65, and in 2020, one in four American workers will be over 55, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

At the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC), we have 71 workers over the age of 65; 18 are over the age of 70. We truly appreciate our older workers and the years of service to our agency and the people of Ohio.

We recognize the value they bring to our agency, and the contributions of mature workers in general to the work force. They bring skills and knowledge to the workplace honed by decades of service and experience. They are dependable and productive. They have a strong work ethic. They mentor our younger workers.

At BWC, our core mission is to protect Ohio’s workers and employers through the prevention, care and management of workplace injuries and illnesses. Workplace safety is a critical component of that mission, especially when it comes to our more seasoned workers. They are more susceptible to injury because of age-related challenges – decreases in mobility and sensory functions, reduced strength and balance, and longer reaction times.

When a 25-year-old worker falls on the job, for instance, she might bruise a knee. For a 70-year-old worker, it’s potentially a broken hip and a long recovery.

Older workers helped build our great state, and we want to keep them active, healthy and engaged in their work. We’re a charter partner in the STEADY U Ohio initiative to curb the epidemic of slips, trips and falls among older Ohioans. (One in three older adults will fall this year, according to the Ohio Department of Health.) These are the leading causes of worker injury, and they most often strike workers 45 and older (like me!).

These incidents are costly. The total estimated cost of falls among Ohioans aged 65 and older (medical costs, work loss) is nearly $2 billion annually in Ohio, according to the Ohio Department of Health. Most are preventable. At Steady U, workers and employers can find tips, tools and resources designed to reduce these incidents.

We urge all Ohioans to join us in creating a culture of safety across this state. Safe workplaces mean fewer, if any, injuries on the job, as well as steady production and lower costs for employers. And they mean more workers can go home healthy each day after their shift.

We are here to help. We have experts, grant dollars and other resources to make Ohio a safer place. To learn more, contact us at 1-800-644-6292 or visit our Division of Safety & Hygiene web page.

OSC19 – It was great to connect with YOU!

By Erik Harden, BWC Public Information Officer

Thank you to all who made a workplace safety and health connection with us last week at the Ohio Safety Congress & Expo 2019 (OSC19)!

More than 8,000 attendees joined us for three days of workplace safety and health education, in-depth workshops, live demonstrations and much more. And more than 300 vendors made the Expo Marketplace more dynamic than ever.

It was great to see so many of you sharing your #OSC19 experience on social media, including our first-ever Snapchat filter. For a recap, check out the highlights in our Twitter recap and scroll back through our blog coverage from last week.

Remember to visit the OSC19 website’s Attendee Service Center by March 22 if you need to print course attendance certificates or access presentation materials from many of the sessions.

We hope you enjoyed your time with us this year. Remember to mark your calendars for OSC20, March 11-13, 2020, at the Greater Columbus Convention Center.

We can’t wait to celebrate the 90th safety congress with all of you!

Reversing the opioid epidemic

Pain expert argues for systematic effort

By Tony Gottschlich, BWC Public Information Officer, Media Relations

The opioid crisis afflicting the nation is “the worst man-made epidemic in modern medical history” and the United States needs a systematic effort to reverse it, a leading pain and workers’ compensation expert told a group of Ohio employers and workers gathered for the Ohio Safety Congress & Expo Wednesday.

“At least 7-10 million patients in the U.S. who are on chronic opioids are highly dependent or addicted,” said Gary Franklin, MD, MPH, a neurologist and medical director of the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries. “They’re in deep trouble and there’s no systematic effort out there to help them. Most go to their primary care doctors, who have no idea what to do, and a lot of these patients are getting abandoned. That’s the worst thing that can happen.”

Franklin’s lecture, entitled, “Reversing the Opioid Epidemic and Improving Pain Care,” was one of dozens offered on the opening day for Safety Congress, the annual safety and occupational health event sponsored by the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) and held at the Greater Columbus Convention Center.

Franklin said if this country is serious about reversing the opioid epidemic, it needs to do three things:

  • Prevent the next wave of opioid users. Research shows most opioids don’t help most chronic pain patients. Many get worse and fewer return to work. Prescribe non-opioid analgesics as a first-line treatment.
  • Systematically address and treat the millions or patients already on long-term opioids.
  • Deliver community based, multimodal care for pain. There is strong evidence supporting cognitive behavioral therapy and psychologically informed physical therapy, he said.

And perhaps the most obvious of all: “If your patients aren’t improving, don’t give them more opioids.”

“This is a mess, and it’s our job as public servants to figure out how to help these patients,” said Franklin, who is also a research professor at the University of Washington.

While giving an overall bleak assessment of the opioid crisis and its challenges, Franklin paused in his lecture to compliment the Buckeye state, pointing to Gov. Mike DeWine’s RecoveryOhio plan and BWC’s Substance Use Recovery and Workplace Safety Program.

He ended his lecture with another positive note. “I do think we’re all in this together and we can figure it out.”

Franklin was joined in the lecture by Dr. Terry Welsh, BWC’s chief medical officer, who spoke about the substance use recovery program and other BWC efforts to mitigate the impact of the opioid crisis on the workforce. Also speaking was Tom Wickizer, a professor of public health at The Ohio State University. Wickizer made a case for an occupational health care model that can prevent long-term and/or permanent disability.

Welcome to day 3 of connecting at OSC19!

We hope you’re enjoying everything OSC19 has to offer! Our final day will feature a host of lectures, workshops and another live demo covering important safety and health topics.

Day two was a busy one! Colette Carlson, founder of Speak Your Truth, Inc., kicked off the day with an informative and fun talk about the importance of connecting and communicating to form the crucial relationships that drive productivity, engagement and collaboration.

She said the most successful people are those who can effectively communicate and connect.

Below, Colette gives a humorous demonstration of all the things we must worry about in a day. Maybe you just had to be there.

Our Division of Safety & Hygiene Superintendent Abe Al-Tarawneh led an educational session on the future of the workers’ compensation industry and occupational safety and health programming. Abe talked about the advances in science and technology that have led to major changes to business operations, resulting in structural changes to the economy and workforce utilization.

We presented four Ohio employers with Safety Innovation Awards yesterday.

These annual awards recognize employers who developed innovative solutions to safety concerns in their workplaces. Congrats to our winners!

  • 1st place – Francis Manufacturing Company (Russia, Shelby County)
  • 2nd place -TERYDON Inc. (Navarre, Stark County)
  • 3rd place – J&R Farms (Mount Vernon, Knox County)
  • Honorable Mention – Yoder Drilling & Geothermal Inc. (Sugarcreek, Tuscarawas County)

We heard from a long-time safety professional whose catastrophic motorcycle accident inspired him to share his message. He told attendees that “whether you’re at work or at home, all it takes is a split second for something to happen and change lives forever.” Read more in yesterday’s blog post, ‘A split second’ nearly cost safety expert his life.

And finally, we said farewell to our 315 Expo Marketplace exhibitors yesterday afternoon. Thanks to all our vendors who make it possible for us to offer OSC free of charge!

We’re looking forward to a great last day of OSC19!

‘A split second’ nearly cost safety expert his life

Banged up but grateful, Derek Sang addresses Ohio Safety Congress

By Tony Gottschlich, Media Relations Public Information Officer

Derek Sang has worked his entire career in safety. He’s delivered 250 seminars on the subject across the globe, and he’s a frequent keynote speaker on the hazards of arc flash, flash fire and general safety.

The Arizona resident, who works in the flame-resistant clothing industry, also loves motorcycles, and he had racked up over a half million miles on the road without an incident until one evening in November 2016. As he entered a busy highway in Scottsdale, Arizona, a vehicle bumped his back tire, sending Sang and his $35,000 Harley-Davidson careening into a wall.

“Whether you’re at work or at home, all it takes is a split second for something to happen and change lives forever,” said Sang, speaking to a capacity audience Wednesday morning at the Ohio Safety Congress & Expo at the Greater Columbus Convention Center.

The crash shattered Sang’s body and launched the 50-year-old married father and grandfather on a long, grueling road to recovery involving multiple surgeries, excruciating skin graphs and enough hardware to stock a Home Depot store. Add to it the many hours of physical and occupational therapy, the toll on family, friends and colleagues and nearly $1 million in health care bills (covered by insurance, thankfully).

And Sang blames himself for all of it.

“We rode hard, we rode fast, we were experts,” Sang said of his motorcycle club. “I was overconfident and I was complacent. The day that accident happened I thought I was better than anyone else on the road.”

What does this have to do with job safety? Sang asked. Do we take shortcuts? Are we overconfident? When we’re used to performing repetitive but dangerous tasks, it’s easy to become desensitized to it, he said. There are names for this phenomenon, including “unintended blindness” and “normalization of deviance.”

Sang challenged his audience of employers and workers to think closely about those questions and examine their mindset. “What is your safety culture?”

“Complacency coupled with a false sense of security can and do produce catastrophic results,” he said. “It only takes a split second.”