Safety

7 Myths About Dehydration

Myth #1: Dehydration is uncomfortable, but not dangerous.

Fact: While most of us will only ever experience mild dehydration symptoms like headache, sluggishness, or decreased urine/sweat output, it can become severe and require medical attention. Serious complications include swelling of the brain, seizures, kidney failure, and even death, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Myth #2: If you’re thirsty, you’re already dehydrated.

Fact: It’s not too late. In fact, thirst is the body’s way of telling you to drink water, and you are not at risk of becoming dangerously dehydrated the minute you feel parched. When you get thirsty the deficit of water in your body is trivial because your body is a very sensitive gauge. You might actually have only about a 1% reduction in your overall water. The solution is to drink some fluid, preferably water.

Myth #3: Everyone needs to drink 8 glasses of water a day.

Fact: This general rule of thumb is outdated, influenced today mostly by bottled water companies. So how much do you need to drink? Men roughly need to drink 3 liters (102 oz.) every day, and women require about 2.2 liters (78 oz.) per day. However, body weight has a lot to do with it. A good rule of thumb is to divide your body weight by 2 and drink that many ounces of fluid per day (example: 200 lbs. = 100 ounces).

Myth #4: Clear urine is a sure sign of hydration.

Fact: While keeping an eye on your urine output maybe isn’t the most pleasant summer activity, it really can provide a measure of how hydrated (or dehydrated) you are. But it’s not clear urine that you are looking for, rather a pale yellow. (see Dehydration Urine Color Chart)

Myth #5: There is no such thing as drinking too much water.

Fact: Over hydrating can be extremely dangerous – but it is relatively rare. Drinking too much water leads to hyponatremia, when levels of sodium in the body are so diluted your cells begin to swell. This usually causes nausea, vomiting, headache, confusion and fatigue, and can escalate to seizures and coma.

Myth #6: Exercise and hard work need sports drinks.

Fact: If you are working out for less than an hour, water will do just fine. You don’t deplete electrolyte and glycogen reserves until you’ve been exercising intensely or performing moderate-hard work in heat and humidity for more than an hour.

Myth #7: Coffee, tea, and soft drinks dehydrate you.

Fact: Only if you overdo it. While caffeine is dehydrating, the water in coffee, tea, and soda more than makes up for the effects, ultimately leaving you more hydrated than pre-coffee or pop. Consuming more than 3-5 cups of coffee or 40 ounces of soda could put you at risk for dehydration. Just remember to limit your caffeine input, drink in moderation and supplement with good old water. (see 5 Healthy Hydration Tips)

Print Friendly and PDF

Poison Ivy, Poison Oak and Poison Sumac - Myth vs Fact

Myth:                Poison Ivy rash is contagious.     

Fact:                  Rubbing the rash won’t spread poison ivy to other parts of your body or to another person. You spread the rash only by transferring the urushiol oil from the plant to other body parts or individuals.

Myth:               You can catch poison ivy simply by being near the plant.

Fact:                  Direct contact is needed to release the urushiol oil. Stay away from wildfires, direct burning, or anything else that can cause the oil to become airborne such as a lawnmower, trimmer, etc. There is a danger of inhaling the oil into your lungs, which can result in catastrophic consequences.

Myth:                “Leaves of 3, let them be”

Fact:                  Poison sumac has 7-13 leaves on a branch, although poison ivy and poison oak do have 3 leaves per cluster.

Myth:               Do not worry about dead plants.

Fact:                  Urushiol oil stays active on any surface, including dead plants, for up to 5 years.

Myth:               Breaking the blisters releases urushiol oil that can then spread.

Fact:                  Not true. Wounds can become infected and you may make scarring worse. In very extreme cases, excessive fluid may need to be withdrawn by a doctor.

Myth:               I’ve been in poison ivy many times and never broken out. I’m immune.

Fact:                  Not necessarily true. Upwards of 90% of people are allergic to urushiol oil, it’s a matter of time and exposure. The more times you are exposed the more likely you will break out with an allergic rash. For the first time sufferer, it generally takes longer for the rash to show up – generally 7 to 10 days.

Help to prevent poison ivy, poison oak, and poison sumac is available. Though there are many products which claim to work, the following product has proven to work for about 95% of people who have used it.

Best practice for preventing Poison Ivy/Sumac: Dawn Dishwashing Soap

Within two hours of working outside around trees and bushes, thoroughly wash exposed body areas with Dawn dish soap and a wash rag. Wash and rinse thoroughly 3 times. Wash down tools and equipment with Dawn and water. Wash your clothing immediately and don’t just throw it in a hamper where it could expose others. Taking time to do these simple tasks will prevent most poison ivy/sumac rashes and reduce the number of claims pertaining to poison Ivy exposures for your municipality.

Print Friendly and PDF

6 Things to Consider Before You Jet a Pipe

High-pressure water cleaning systems have become the tool of choice for maintaining sanitary sewer systems, because of their effectiveness in dealing with grease and sludge, along with their ability to partner with pipe inspection cameras. However, before you fire up your jetter and go off to battle underground monsters, there are six things to keep in mind.

1.    What the heck is down there?

 Jetters do a great job on soft stoppages like grease, sand sludge, and even ice. However, when it comes to roots, they are not the preferred tool for the job. If you’re not sure what is happening in the line, you can try to send an inspection camera down to take a look, but if the line is blocked you won’t be able to see much. Remember, cameras can’t see underwater any better than you can. So how can you tell what the blockage is?

 First, if the line in question has anything to do with food service, there is a better than even chance that grease is the problem. Using your powers of deduction, you can conclude that blockages in lines leading from restaurants, multi-family dwellings, and any kind of institution involving food service (schools, nursing homes) are likely to be made by grease and maybe rags. The same is true if the pipe in question originates in a factory or industrial facility that flushes lubricants, solvents, or any type of organic material down the drain. Also depending on where you are, sand can be a persistent problem.

 2.    Shake, Rattle, and Roll

 Does your jetter unit have a way to vibrate the hose while it is in the pipe? The vibration function is used to break up the surface friction between the hose and the pipe, so you don’t get the hose stuck. One of the first things contractors noticed when they invented jetting some 40 years ago, was that when you connect a hydraulic hose and rear facing nozzle to a pressure washer and shove it down a pipe, there is a chance of getting the hose stuck. And anytime that happens it’s the beginning of a long day, because you’re going to need to get the excavator out. That is why every legitimate manufacturer of high-pressure jetters today has a feature that allows you to vibrate the hose while in use.

 3.    Yes, size matters

 Are you using the correct size of hose for the pipe, you are trying to clear? Another excellent way to get your hose stuck in a pipe is by using the wrong size hose, which is surprisingly easy to do. When working with high-pressure water, the philosophy is to use the largest hose that will fit into the pipe. This is because hoses with a larger inside diameter don’t have as much pressure loss due to water friction. All things being equal, the larger the hose, the more pressure at the nozzle. The more pressure at the nozzle the easier it is to do the job.

 4.    Check your water

 Since high-pressure water is doing the work down the line, it makes sense that you have enough of it. If you happen to be using a large device with a holding tank, such as a trailer jetter, your only challenge is to make sure the tank doesn’t run dry. Most of these units have an automatic shut-off that keeps this you from making this mistake. However, if you are using a jetter that draws water from a garden hose, a little more attention is required. Most municipal and well water systems in North America deliver approximately 5-6 gallons a minute in flow, but it is recommended that you make no assumptions. Get a 2-gallon bucket and measure how much time it takes to fill it. If you’re close, don’t take the chance, because you could accidentally starve the pump of water and cause cavitation. Cavitation is the second most popular way to kill your pump, so pay attention to details.

 5.    It don’t mean a thing if you don’t have that swing

 Keep your hose moving. The preferred technique for jetting a line is to work the hose back and forth: push the hose 2 feet forward, then pull it back a foot, then push forward 2 feet and back a foot. The maximum cleaning action comes when you pull back the hose, not pushing it. As you pull back, the angle of water flow exiting the nozzle scours the sides of the pipe, magnifying your cleaning efforts. If you keep the hose moving, you’ll do a better job and do it in less time.

 There is another reason to keep it moving. Because of the fluid dynamics of high-pressure water flow, turbulence can cause vortices to form just behind the nozzle when you are doing the job. These vortices, if stationary for any length of time, can suck sand, loose dirt, grease, or sludge in behind the nozzle, causing it to plug up and trap the hose down in the pipe. Getting your hose stuck in the pipe, no matter what the cause, is a bad thing. Digging it up is usually the only viable option. Again, very time consuming.

 6.    Don’t freeze up

 Statistically, freezing is the number one way to kill your pump. If you live in a place with four seasons, you’ll find it surprisingly difficult to keep your pump from freezing when you are doing work on a frigid day. The damage can take place before, during, or after the job, and can affect your hose as well as your pump. If your unit has an antifreeze tank, please get in the habit of using it whenever temperatures are close to freezing. If your unit does not have this feature, introduce antifreeze to keep it from freezing when you are driving to and from the job. Just disconnect the hose that runs from the output valve to the hose reel swivel. Then pour antifreeze into the inlet as you start the motor on the unit, which will draw the fluid through the pump. When you notice antifreeze exiting the output valve, turn off the motor. Then, using an air compressor to blow the water out of the hose (remove the nozzle). Make sure this has been done before you drive to the job, and again before going back to the shop. During the job, limit the amount of time the units sits without water flowing through the pump. Turn the unit on frequently, running water through the bypass system to keep it warm. If you make it someone’s job to pay attention to the pump, then you’ll improve the odds of it surviving till spring.

 You probably noticed that most of the points can be summarized by “paying attention to what you are doing” and “do your homework”. Jetters are fantastic tools for our industry, able to address most modern sewer line problems better than other tools at our disposal. But, like everything else in life, greater power comes hand in hand with greater responsibility. If you sweat the details, a jetter is an incredibly versatile and profitable tool that can transform your sewer maintenance program.

Print Friendly and PDF

May 2019 Risk and Safety Newsletter

Print Friendly and PDF

March 2019 Risk & Safety Newsletter

Print Friendly and PDF

January 2019 Risk & Safety Newsletter

Print Friendly and PDF

Cleanliness Helps Prevent Foodborne Illness

Spring has long been the time of year for annual cleaning projects around homes and offices. However, when it comes to safe food handling, everything that comes in contact with food must be kept clean all year long.

Food that is mishandled or not stored properly can lead to foodborne illness. Follow a “Be Food Safe” policy. Being food safe means preventing foodborne illness by following four easy steps:

1.      Clean – wash your hands and surfaces often and disinfect with food-safe Clorox wipes or Lysol.

2.      Separate – don’t cross contaminate. Keep food covered in airtight containers or sealants.

3.      Cook – Cook all foods to proper temperatures and don’t let them stay out in the open air too long.

4.      Chill – Refrigerate promptly.

Cleanliness is a major factor in preventing foodborne illness. Even with food safety inspections and monitoring, the consumer’s role is to make sure food is handled safely after it is purchased. Everything that touches food should be clean. Here are some suggested steps to take to help prevent foodborne illnesses:

  •    Wash your hands with warm soapy water for at least 20 seconds

    o   Before and after handling food

    o   After using the bathroom

    o   After changing a diaper

    o   After handling pets

    o   After tending to a sick person

    o   After blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing

    o   After handling uncooked eggs, meat, fruits and vegetables

If your hands have any kind of skin abrasion or infection, always use clean disposable gloves. Thoroughly wash with hot soapy water any surfaces that have been in contact with raw meat, poultry, fish, or eggs. Use disposable paper towels to clean surfaces, not dishcloths or sponges. Spray or wipe surfaces with disinfectant after cleaning them.

Keep cutting boards clean, wash them with hot soapy water after each use, and then rinse and let air dry. Don’t use the same platter or utensils that held raw meat to serve the cooked product. When using a food thermometer always thoroughly wash it after each use with hot soapy water. Remember to keep pets, household cleaners, and other chemicals away from food and food preparatory stations. Keep refrigerators clean and sanitized; remove old food frequently. When eating out, eat at reputable restaurants and establishments. Avoid eating foods openly exposed in convenience stores like hotdogs, sausages, and taquitos – there are lots of germs floating around in those places.

Taking some time to “be food safe” could keep you and your co-workers or family from experiencing a very uncomfortable foodborne illness. Bon Appetit!

Print Friendly and PDF

Bloodborne Pathogens - Protecting Workers

Every year municipalities, just like any other business, must train their employees about bloodborne pathogens. The following information can assist you in keeping your employees from contracting a bloodborne illness.

Bloodborne pathogens are infectious micro-organisms in human blood that include, but are not limited to, hepatitis B, hepatitis C, and HIV. The can infect a healthy body through contact with blood and other body fluids, secretions, and excretions (except sweat). In many cases, contact with infected fluids happens via used needles or other contaminated sharp objects that have not been properly disposed of or properly cleaned and disinfected.

Exposure Control Plan

All organizations where employees could be exposed to blood or other potentially infectious materials (OPIM) must follow the bloodborne pathogens standard. Employers are responsible for determining which jobs, tasks, and procedures involve an occupational exposure. According to OSHA standards, occupational exposure is a “reasonably anticipated skin, eye, mucous membrane, or parenteral contact with blood or OPIM that may result from performance of an employee’s duties.” If your workplace carries a risk of occupational exposure to bloodborne pathogens, you are required to develop an exposure control plan to minimize or eliminate occupational exposures. Start by identifying all the hazards workers may be exposed to. This exposure determination needs to contain a list of jobs with potential exposure and list of procedures that could result in worker exposure. Based on this determination, you should design and implement adequate safety controls using training, providing PPE, and administrative or engineering controls.

Implementing Controls

Elimination of hazards is not feasible in some workplaces. In these situations, it is important to follow basic controls. These controls can include, but are not limited to, the following:

·         Use “universal precautions”; treat all blood or OPIMs as if they were infected.

·         Implement safe practice controls; update and redesign them as needed.

·         Practice safe decontamination; thoroughly wash and disinfect.

·         Provide personal protective equipment such as gloves, masks, and specialized clothing if needed.
Remember employers are responsible for repairing or replacing PPE when required.

·         Implement engineering controls such as sharps disposal containers or needleless systems.

·         Ensure that hepatitis B immunizations are available to all workers, that they have been properly
trained and understand how they could be exposed, that they know how to protect themselves from
exposure, and that they know what to do if they have potentially been exposed.

·         Use warning labels and signs on containers and in areas where contaminated materials may be
stored.

·         Keep and update worker medical and training records regularly.

·         Keep and update a sharps injury log.

Other Employer Responsibilities

After any exposure incident, arrange for a post-exposure medical evaluation and make it available to affected workers. Document the reasons for exposure and test the source individual (the person whose blood or body fluids contacted the worker) for hepatitis B or hepatitis C or HIV infections. Employers are also responsible for offering the exposed worker post-exposure prophylaxis and counseling.

The municipal exposure control plan must be reviewed and updated annually to reflect any workplace changes that might affect safe work procedures. Employers should also make changes to engineering and practice controls based on input from workers.

Workers must receive regular training that covers all aspects of the exposure control plan including who to report incidents to and how to decontaminate after a potential exposure. All new hires must be trained concerning how they could be exposed in their work environment and what to do if they think they have been exposed.

Although engineering controls are the primary method of reducing exposure, behavioral training also aims to achieve this goal by changing how workers perform tasks. When providing training, consider a program that deals with the human factors. This will increase employee self-awareness and help workers see how situations like fatigue and complacency may put them, their co-workers, or families at greater risk of contracting an illness from a bloodborne pathogen. Safety needs to be addressed from all possible angles to provide workers with the best protection available.

Print Friendly and PDF

Airborne Diseases

You can catch some diseases simply by breathing. These are called airborne diseases. Airborne diseases can spread when an infected person coughs, sneezes, laughs, or even talks, spewing nasal and throat secretions into the air in particles of moisture. These particles take flight and land on people or surfaces, contaminating them. When you breathe airborne organisms in, they take up residence inside you. You also can pick up viruses or bacteria when you touch an infected surface and then touch your eyes, nose, or mouth. Because these diseases travel in the air, they are hard to control.

Some of the airborne diseases contracted by millions of people each year are: The Common Cold, Influenza, Chickenpox, Mumps, Measles, Whooping Cough, Tuberculosis, and Diphtheria.

Treatment for Common Airborne Diseases

For most airborne diseases the best treatment is getting plenty of rest and fluids and letting the illness run its course. Some diseases like chickenpox have no targeted treatment, but medications and other supportive care can help relieve symptoms.

Some, such as flu, can be treated with antiviral drugs. Treatment for infants with whooping cough can include antibiotics, but hospitalization is often needed. There are drugs to treat and cure tuberculosis, although some strains of TB are drug resistant. Failure to complete a course of medication can lead to drug resistance and a return of the illness. If caught early enough diphtheria can be successfully treated with antitoxins and antibiotics.

With our world being so easily accessed today with air travel, airborne disease can potentially affect everyone in a brief period of time. Diseases are spread easily in close quarters such as airplanes, schools, malls, and church gatherings. Take precautions: get plenty of rest, exercise, keep your immune system up by using supplemental vitamins, and avoid large populated areas when there is a known outbreak of disease. If you become ill, take some time off from work so you don’t spread the illness.

Print Friendly and PDF

Insect Borne Illness

What are Insect Borne Illnesses?

Insect borne diseases are viral or bacterial illnesses contracted from insect (bug) bites. The most common insects that pass on disease are mosquitos, fleas, and ticks. Some common diseases known to be transmitted by insects are Zika virus, Yellow Fever, and Malaria from mosquitos, and Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever from ticks (There are approximately 10 different diseases which can be contracted from a tick bite.)

Common Symptoms of Insect Borne Illnesses:

  • Fever 

  • Sore muscles    

  • Nausea    

  • Headache

  • Chills      

  • Skin rash          

  • Stomach pain

More serious symptoms might include:

  • Difficulty breathing

  • Swelling/closing of the throat     

  • Chest pain    

  • Vomiting

  • Swelling of lips, tongue, face    

  • Racing heartbeat        

  • Dizziness

How are Insect Borne Illnesses Diagnosed?

Your doctor can typically diagnose an insect borne illness with a physical exam, a review of symptoms, and checking recent travel destinations. Lab tests (blood and urine) can diagnose certain insect borne diseases.

How to Avoid or Prevent Insect-borne Illnesses

·         Stay out of tall grass and bushes

·         Dress in long pants and shirts and wear a hat; tuck pants legs into your boots or socks

·         Wear light colored clothing, which makes it easier to spot crawling insects

·         Use bug spray that contains at least 10% DEET

·         Examine your skin and scalp after being outside, checking for bugs or bites

·         Always shower using plenty of soap after being outdoors

Insect Borne Illness Treatment

As soon as you recognize a bite, clean it with soap and water. Pat it dry and apply rubbing alcohol to the bite. If bitten by a tick, remove the tick before cleaning the area. Use tweezers to slowly pull it off your skin. Be careful not to leave any part of the tick in/on your skin. Dispose of the tick. Wash your hands and the bite area with soap and water and then wipe with alcohol. Apply an over-the-counter antibiotic cream to the bite area.

If you have any of the symptoms listed above, see a doctor. If you start having flu-like symptoms 3-10 days after being bitten see a doctor for diagnosis.

Living with Insect Borne Illnesses

Some insect borne illnesses can cause long-term chronic symptoms that affect the quality of life. Lyme disease, for example, can leave you chronically tired and sore. Zika virus can be passed on to a baby and cause microcephaly and an intellectual disability.

Print Friendly and PDF