5 Minute Safety Manager

New Worker, Higher Risk

New workers on the job are at a 40% greater risk of being injured on the job in the first year of service. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) new hires face a greater chance of being injured on the job when they have been in their position less than a year. Why are they more likely to be hurt? The BLS studies show that these employees lack one vital tool to protect themselves: Information. More experienced workers have learned the lessons already. Either by personal experience or by seeing someone else go through a bad experience. Let’s look at some information gathered by the Bureau of Labor Statistics Surveys: 
27% of workers injured while working on scaffolding stated they had never received instruction on the proper way to install scaffolding or never received information on safety requirements involving the use of scaffolding. 
71% of workers receiving head injuries claimed they never received training on the need to use hardhats while performing their duties. 
61% of workers hurt while servicing equipment said they were never informed of lockout/tagout procedures in dealing with the equipment or machinery they were servicing.  
In nearly every type of injury studied by BLS researchers, the same story was repeated over and over; Workers did not receive instruction or training in safety prior to performing the job. Nearly 1 in 5 say they received no safety training before requested to do a task.  
What can Workers do? 
•    Be sure to understand all necessary safety measures before you start to work; If an explanation is unclear, ask again. 
•    Use your knowledge of safe practices – all the time. 
•    Use the proper personal protective equipment while doing the job and make sure to maintain that equipment properly. 
•    Make sure all safety guards and protection devices are in place. 
•    Don’t take shortcuts. 
•    Follow safety warning signs on equipment and chemicals you use. 
•    Ask your employer about emergency procedures and be prepared to follow them in the event of an emergency. 
What can Supervisors/Employers do? 
•    Make safety an essential part of the department routine. 
•    Have regularly scheduled safety meetings. 
•    Get feedback and input from employees about solutions to safety problems. 
•    Be a positive safety role model. 
•    Frequently remind employees of the need to work safely and draw attention to potential safety hazards related to the job.  
•    Document all accidents and near misses which occur on or at the job site.

Contact OMAG Risk Management Services if you have questions about this topic or other safety topics related to municipal workplace safety.  Email Kip Prichard at kprichard@omag.org or call him at (800) 234-9461. 

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Electrical Safety Precautions

Industry runs on electricity. It is safe to use when you know what you are doing and take proper precautions. When precautions are neglected, electricity can become a killer. 
How you are affected by electrical shock depends of the following factors: 

•    The rate the current flows through your body. This depends on how good your body conducts electricity. If you have dry hands and are standing on a non-conductive surface such as a rubber mat, you may not even feel a shock. If you are sweating or standing in water, you could be killed. 
•    The length of time the current flows through your body. The longer the electric contact, the greater the current flow and the greater the shock. 
•    The path the current takes through your body. The most dangerous path is through vital organs. 

Your actions can protect your safety. 

•    Read and follow instructions before handling anything electrical. If you don’t understand the instructions, get qualified help to assist you… Don’t guess. 
•    Plugs should only be inserted in receptacle outlets with the same slot or blade pattern, unless proper adaptors are used. Don’t force or alter a plug by bending, twisting, or removing blades to make it fit into a receptacle outlet. Water conducts electricity. Keep wet hands from touching electrical equipment or light switches. 
•    Firmly grip the plug, not the cord, when disconnecting equipment. Yanking the cord can damage the cord, plug, or receptacle outlet and result in a shock or fire. Because electricity is present even when the switch is in the “off” position, unplug equipment, appliances, and extension cords when not in use and before inspecting, cleaning, or fixing them. 
•    Recognize signs of overloaded circuits including flickering or dimming lights, blown fuses, warm wall plates or extension cords, and tripped circuit breakers. 
•    Receptacle outlets and switches should not be painted or covered with wall paper paste. 
There is no margin for error when working with electricity. Conditions vary so much that without the facts, you may make a mistake and  cause injury to yourself or fellow workers. 

Contact OMAG Risk Management Services if you have questions or suggestions for other topics related to municipal workplace safety issues.  (800) 234-9461 or kprichard@omag.org (Kip Prichard).

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Take Care With Compressed Air

Compressed air tools are commonly used in many workplaces. Many workers take them for granted, ignoring the hazards involved in their use. Compressed air  is not “just air.” It is a focused stream of air driven at a high velocity, which can cause serious injury or death to its operator or persons in the immediate area. 
Fooling around with compressed air can be lethal. In one case, a blast of air playfully directed behind a worker startled him and caused him to fall against a moving piece of machinery. A misdirected blast of compressed air can “pop” an eyeball from its socket, rupture an eardrum, or cause a brain hemorrhage. Directed at the mouth, it can rupture the lungs and intestines. If used to blow dust and dirt off clothing or body parts, it can cause bubbles of air to enter blood stream, even through a layer of clothing. Compressed air can also rupture body organs. 
To prevent accidental injury when working with compressed air, here are several precautions to follow: 

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Injury and Illness Prevention Program

In Oklahoma every employer is required to provide a safe and healthful workplace to his/her employees. In accordance with the Oklahoma Code of Regulations, employers of 25 or more full-time and/or part-time employees must have a designated Safety Coordinator and an effective written Injury and Illness Prevention Program (IIPP) or as it is better known a written Safety and Health Policies and Procedures manual. What should you expect to see in an IIPP or Safety and Health P&P manual? It is a written plan that has the following elements: 

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Working Safely in Confined Spaces

Do you ever work in a confined space? There are many types of confined spaces – tanks, silos, pits, tunnels, pipes, boilers, sewer manholes, trenches, etc. No matter what the type, confined spaces have something in common. They have limited ways to get in and out, and the atmosphere within them could be dangerous. This Tailgate Safety Topic discusses what you should know to work safely in a confined space. 

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Looking to Prevent Accidents

Most accidents happen because people just didn’t watch what they were doing, where they were walking, or where they were standing, sitting, or climbing. Paying attention and “looking” is our topic for today. It is the most important and basic principle of accident prevention.

There is a common safety example of the billboard painter who stepped back to admire his work and fell fifty feet to his death. It’s all right to admire your own work, but it’s mighty important to look before you step in any direction. You could be stepping into an open elevator shaft, off the edge of a platform, or into the path of moving vehicle.

On any job site from office work, to trash pick up, to digging sewer lines there are always materials and equipment being handled and moved about. It is highly important that while working on the job we remember to be alert to all such movement. Look up, look down, look all around so you won’t walk into the path of a moving truck, another co-worker, or a piece of swinging equipment.

Falls are not unique to multi-story construction sites. Many people have been killed falling through ceilings retrieving stored materials or missing steps as they climb a ladder. Many other accidents occur from falls due to poor lighting, objects left in walkways, people failing to clean up spills, etc.

Your eyes are your biggest asset to your work; take care of them so they will take care of you. When you are working or around work where there is sawing, grinding, welding, or in any work done outside in windy conditions, wear the proper eyewear. Always be aware of where you are and what is happening around you. If you keep your mind and your eyes on what you are doing and where you are, you will be at less risk of having to explain an accident by saying “I didn’t see” when what you really mean is “I wasn’t looking”.

Contact OMAG Risk Management Services if you have questions or suggestions for other topics related to Municipal Workplace Safety Issues. 1 (800) 234-9461 or email kprichard@omag.org.

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Know the Ground Rules for Electrical Safety

Electricity is an essential source of energy for most operations. However, few of those sources have a greater potential to cause harm than electricity. Working safely with electricity is possible if you are trained in, understand, and follow certain basic ground rules.

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Fire Extinguishers

There are four basic types or classes of fire extinguishers, each of which extinguishes specific types of fire. Newer fire extinguishers use a picture/labeling system to designate which types of fires they are to be used on. Older fire extinguishers are labeled with colored geometrical shapes displaying a letter designation. 

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Avoiding Back Injuries

Back injuries cause municipalities to spend thousands of dollars each year for medical treatment of workers or for permanent disability. Delivery of public services are also adversely affected by injured or absent workers. 

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Preventing Slips, Trips & Falls

Did you know slips, trips, and falls are second only to automobile accidents in causing personal injury? On stairways alone, falls result in over 2 million disabling injuries annually. There are thousands of minor injuries caused by slips, trips, and falls each year. These facts are no less true in Oklahoma cities and towns. Most alarming is the fact that more than 1000 deaths are recorded each year due to falls on the job. Today’s discussion will cover what we can do to prevent slips, trips, and falls in the workplace and at home.

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