Dealing With Suspension Trauma

Envision this situation: A building employee is changing shingles on the roof covering of a two-story house 20 feet over ground. He loses his ground as well as slides, diminishing the roof covering. He’s using a fall-arrest system, and also consequently is saved from fatality.

Yet he’s not unharmed yet.

This worker can potentially experience orthostatic intolerance– additionally typically described as suspension trauma.

Just what is it?

OSHA explains suspension injury as “the advancement of signs and symptoms such as light-headedness, bad concentration, palpitations, tremulousness, exhaustion, nausea or vomiting, wooziness, frustration, sweating, weakness and periodically fainting during upright standing.”

After a fall, an employee might remain suspended in his or her harness prior to being saved. Depending upon the length of time the employee stays suspended, the continual stability could lead to unfamiliarity and even death. This is because of “venous pooling,” a problem that takes place when a person’s legs are stable as well as blood swimming pools in the legs, decreasing the amount of blood distributing in the body.

OSHA keeps in mind that the body reacts to venous pooling by quickening the heart price in an attempt to keep adequate blood circulation to the brain. If a person’s blood supply is considerably minimized, this won’t be effective as well as the body will after that “suddenly slow down the heart rate and also blood pressure will diminish in the arteries.” In severe situations of venous merging, an individual could faint or experience kidney failure, which can be fatal.

Move fast

Speed is crucial after an employee experiences a loss. Suspension in a fall-arrest tool can lead to unconsciousness and also death in less than 30 minutes. Inning accordance with OSHA, workers who use fall-arrest tools or that might execute rescue activities must recognize:

Ways to determine whether their personal protective tools is appropriately used and fitted

Just how suspension injury might happen, along with its signs and symptoms

How you can use suitable rescue treatments and techniques to reduce threat while put on hold

Diesel Exhaust Dangers

Equipment that runs on diesel is quite common in a number of industries. This includes construction sites, mining, farming, maritime and several other such sectors.

Workers in these areas are exposed to a great deal of carcinogen exhausts from such machinery. This is typically in the case where machines are not properly handled and maintained.

Emissions from such equipment are made of “Diesel Particulate Matter”. ,This is a substance that “is made of soot and is comprised majorly of metallic particles, ash, carbon, silicates and sulfates” according to OSHA.

The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), classified exhausts from diesel machinery under “Well-known Hazards for the Human Health” in 2012.

Even temporary exposure to exhausts and emissions from diesel equipment can lead to issues. These include constant headaches, dizziness, and irritation in the eyes, nose & throat. Long-term exposure could cause the development of more serious issues. These include breathing conditions, cardiopulmonary and cardio conditions, and even lung cancer.

Given the health threat, managing the exposure to such emissions is highly necessary.

First, make sure there is adequate supervision in place to limit the exposure of any workers. OSHA further suggests that equipment receive regular maintenance. It also suggests aging equipment be swapped out for cleaner burning engines. These should be equipped with better air filtration systems.

Second, be sure adequate safety controls are in place. For example, creating “Off-limit” areas is a great way to limit the pool of people at risk for exposure. Likewise, limit the times when machines are running so the fewest workers are around when the machinery is operational.

Smart preventive measures like these can reduce the exposure to diesel exhausts to a great extent. Plus, they can be implemented in a way that still allows a team to work at maximum efficiency.

A side benefit: By limiting diesel exposure you can help reduce workmans’ comp claims. You’ll maximize worker availability. You’ll also have a positive impact on your overall operational costs.

The Hazards of Scaffolding

Structure scaffolding for work projects could provide many serious threats to employees. Inning accordance with OSHA, injuries connected to scaffolds include falls, tip-overs, being struck by falling tools, and entering contact with energized high-voltage line.

To ideal stay secure while building as well as using scaffolding, OSHA recommends a selection of tips:

Always utilize footings that are level, rigid as well as able to sustain lots without settling or moving.

Securely plumb and also support tools in order to help protect against persuading and dislodgment.

Plumb and also degree the scaffold as you go.

Make sure all connections as well as couplers are safely fastened before going on in the setting up process.

Constantly comply with the maker’s directions when installing ties as well as dental braces.

Avoid blending scaffolding parts from various makers unless you make certain you can do so safely.

Location toeboards on railroaded sides to help protect against objects from dropping.

When servicing a scaffold:

Have a qualified individual evaluate the scaffold before every shift.

Check to make certain it’s secure to use. If it is noted with red tags, it’s hazardous. Never make use of a hazardous scaffold till repair works are made.

Do not overload a scaffold beyond its maximum load ability. Never use buckets, obstructs or ladders in an effort to produce more functioning height on the platform.

Do not deal with a scaffold if it is snowy, icy or slippery.

Dealing With Lead Exposure in Construction

Due to its low cost and stability, lead was commonly used in construction and plumbing until the late 19th century.
As a result, this heavy metal is still found in buildings and construction sites, especially in demolition, salvage, renovation, and even cleaning. The dangers of lead exposure and poisoning are well known and it’s important to protect workers from lead exposure in construction.
There are numerous exposure methods for workers.
* Inhalation of lead fumes or dust is common.
* Lead may even be ingested if it’s present on a worker’s hands.
* The exposure may not even stay in the construction site as lead can dust can easily accumulate on skin, clothes, tools, and vehicles.
Although the dangers of lead are based on how much a person is exposed to at one time as well as the total amount of exposure over time, some people are at higher risk for complications than others. Anyone with asthma or respiratory diseases faces an increased risk of complications with exposure to lead
To limit and prevent exposure, OSHA recommends:
* Always use appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) such as gloves and respirators
* Wash hands and face after work and before ingesting food or liquids
* Never eat in any area where PPE is required
* Clothing or uniforms that have been exposed to lead should never be taken home.
* Wash any exposed clothes or uniforms daily using approved cleaning methods
* Watch for any signs or symptoms of lead exposure which may include abdominal pain, migraines, and loss of sensation
* When working outside, stand away from any dust
* Always use ventilation for enclosed work areas
* Always use lead-free products and chemicals when able
* Use dust-collecting equipment to decrease dust exposure
* Whenever feasible, make use of lead-free products and chemicals.
If you’re concerned about lead exposure risk, use these tips to get started and contact us to get expert advice on minimizing exposure. We specialize in helping companies understand their risk and obtain appropriate coverages to mitigate that risk. If you have any insurance related questions please be sure to reach out
to us.

Skylights are Hazards Worth Protecting Against

Did you know that OSHA requires roofers and other construction workers to secure and protect skylights and open roofs? In spite of this construction sites continue to be plagued by fatal drops.

Often workers falsely believe that plastic dome covers offer adequate protection. But these are often not strong enough to carry weight and prevent falling through.

NIOSH (the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health) offers the following advice for construction situation:

  • Have adequate training in place to ensure workers understand the threats of resting on skylights. Be sure they are also aware of how deadly falls can be, even from heights that are perceived as “safe”.
  • It is important that all roof openings and skylights are clearly delineated with barriers or warnings before work begins. This is especially true for roofing work but applies to any construction activity. These protections should remain in place throughout the project.
  • Workers should be outfitted with safety harnesses to help protect workers from falls.
  • Sometimes guardrails, safety harnesses, and other methods are impractical. In those cases, alternate forms of protection need to be leveraged such as safety netting.
  • Skylights can be particularly dangerous. They should have warning labels affixed that caution against stepping on them.

It may seem silly or a waste of time to some to take these precautions. But, one worker death or serious injury can completely undo a construction project and an ill-prepared company.

Running a construction company can be a rewarding business. But, risk management is critical. Small investments in safety will protect against workers comp cost increases. In turn this helps to ensure maximized profitability.

Be sure to talk with your insurance professional for other risk management ideas that can help to improve the bottom line.

It’s Only Concrete…

As a contractor, concrete is one of those materials that is worked with pretty often. It’s easy to forget that you have to be careful when handling it.

After all, cement is considered one of the safest building materials. It’s found in playgrounds, sidewalks, workplaces, and homes…

But proper precautions have to be observed when working with concrete, otherwise it can be quite dangerous.

Concrete Basics

Portland cement is the most common active ingredient in concrete. Mixed with water, sand, and rock it solidifies into a rock-hard material. Thing is, because it is so abrasive, it is really harsh on the skin.

And even if concrete doesn’t come in contact with the skin directly, it can saturate clothing and still negatively impact the skin.

In fact, fresh concrete that comes in contact with skin can cause chemical burns. It can also cause severe damage to the eyes. How bad can the burns be? According to the Portland Cement Association, it can result in third-degree burns.

That’s the last thing you want your crew to face!

Remember, your Workman’s Comp rate is based on claim experience. Taking appropriate steps to ensure proper concrete handling will help you manage risks associated with handling cement…

  • It’s important that anyone handling Portland cement wear water-proof gloves, shirts and pants that fully cover arms and legs, as well as rubber boots that are high enough to prevent concrete from getting in.
  • It’s also important to wear eye protection to prevent concrete dust from getting into the eyes.
  • Also, concrete is heavy. Workers need to take extra care when handling it. (Be sure they push with a shovel rather than lifting concrete with it.)

Following these simple guidelines will help ensure that your team is protected as they work with concrete. You’ll keep your workers safe and you’ll help control your insurance costs.

Working Safely With Heavy Equipment

Have heavy equipment on a job site? Make it a safe to operate…

Running heavy machinery on a construction site can lead to significant hazards. There are important techniques to bear in mind to keep a job site safe:

  • Make sure that repairs to equipment are not started until the equipment is fully powered down.
  • If refueling, you must be sure that engines are turned off.
  • All vehicles should be checked at the beginning of each shift to verify its operability.
  • If mobile heavy equipment is used on a public road, proper traffic management must be used.
  • If traffic control methods such as barriers are unavailable, it is critical to leverage flaggers. Additionally, they must wear appropriate safety gear to manage traffic.

Construction vehicles on a job site should be equipped with:

  • Fully operable brakes. (This includes having a working parking brake.)
  • Working windshield wipers.
  • Rollover protection.
  • Appropriate seating.
  • Lighting for operating at night.
  • Backup alarms for vehicles where vision is limited when backing up.
  • Exposed points on front-end loaders must be protected.
  • Vehicles that are loaded by loaders, shovels, cranes, or similar equipment should have a cab that offers appropriate protection for operators.
  • Controlling dust is paramount and operators in dusty environments need breathing protection.
  • Loads on vehicles must be balanced and secured.

Abrasive blowing: Manage the threats

Abrasive blasting is an important method in construction to handle a number of tasks: Preparing a surface for paint, applying a texture, or for cleaning surfaces.

While a time-efficient method it comes with serious risks to worker safety.

One problem with abrasive blasting is that it is loud. OSHA says it can lead to “significant” hearing loss for individuals working with or near equipment. As a result, it is critical that employees use hearing protection. In addition, employers are required to have a well-defined hearing-loss prevention program.

Another issue is that materials used in the blasting process can create dust that is toxic to workers. Abrasive materials often include steel grit, glass grains or smashed glass, coal slag, or silica. Breathing in these materials can cause damage to the lungs and even lung cancer. Some materials contain traces of other harmful materials like cadmium, arsenic, and beryllium!

It’s critical that companies strive to keep their employees safe from these threats. It all starts with an appropriate risk assessment. Your insurance professional can be a great resource to help you understand risks and the resources you can leverage to understand dangers and protect your employees. You need to have a solid training program and you need to be sure that there’s strict adherence to all safety protocols.

Other mitigation suggestions include using barriers to separate areas being blasted. Also it is recommended to leverage less toxic blasting products and mixing with water to minimize dirt and dust. Alternatives also include using air systems to remove dust.

From a site management perspective, keeping air clean via either wet techniques or HEPA-filtered methods is important. It’s also critical to keep equipment clean. Additionally, it’s best to work on calm days as wind can pose problems.

OSHA also notes that workers should not drink or eat near locations that are being treated with abrasive blowing. It’s also recommended that workers are given access to separate locations for showering and changing so they can clean up quickly and easily and avoid bringing toxic materials home with them.

Reduce Workers Comp Claims! Insist on Safe Ladder Practices…

Reduce Workers Comp Claims! Insist on Safe Ladder Practices…

Ladders are a fundamental tool in construction. They are so commonplace it is easy to forget they are potentially hazardous. When it comes to ladders, it’s up to construction company owners and leaders to set the safety tone. It starts by insisting that proper safety rules are followed to reduce the risk of worker injury.

Think it’s no big deal? 81% of construction-related fall injuries treated in hospital emergency rooms involve a ladder! Falls are the #1 cause of death on construction sites. Ladders are involved in 33% of those fatalities. Yet ladder related injuries are easily prevented.

Many safety rules involve how a ladder is climbed. Running up a ladder at break-neck speed is, well, inviting a broken neck.

The American Ladder Institute says that the best way to climb a ladder is to always have 3 points of contact. Workers shouldn’t be carrying items in their hands that could get in the way of keeping a hold on the ladder. (Use towlines, an assistant, tool belt, etc. to deliver tools and materials instead.)

Other safety tips include:

  • Go up the ladder slowly and carefully. The goal is to prevent ladder tipping from unexpected motions.
  • Remain in the center of the ladder as it is climbed. This again helps protect against tipping.
  • Always step one rung at a time. Skipping rungs is a sure-fire way to lose balance.
  • When a ladder is in use, workers should make sure their shoes are clean. Sand and mud can reduce traction and lead to a slip.
  • Only ladders designed to handle more than one climber at a time should be used for that purpose.
  • Avoid the use of metal ladders near electrical lines or in storm conditions.
  • Avoid the use of all ladders in heavy winds or storms.
  • Keep ladders clear of doors.
  • Only operate ladders on level surfaces.

One of the key questions that workers should ask is whether a ladder is the most appropriate tool for the situation.

Train workers to ask these key questions:

  • While on the ladder, will heavy items have to be held?
  • Does the height require a long ladder? How stable will it be?
  • Will one be working on the ladder for a longer period of time?
  • Will the work require reaching off-center from the ladder?

If “yes” is the answer to one or more of these questions, consider leveraging alternate pieces of equipment. These might include scissor lifts and lifting pods.

Managing worker safety is critical to reduce injury risk. It also helps control Workers Comp insurance costs.

For more tips on Workmans Comp, be sure to reach out to your local insurance professional. We’re here to help!

Best of 2016: Are You Prepared for the DOL’s New Overtime Rule?

Are You Prepared for the DOL’s New Overtime Rule?

As of December 1, 2016, millions of additional American workers will be eligible for overtime pay. The new Department of Labor (DOL) rule, issued on May 18, raises the minimum salary an employee has to earn in order to qualify to be exempt from overtime pay to $47,476. It was previously set at $23,660. Any employee earning less than the minimum must be paid overtime for all hours they work in excess of 40 hours each week.

Additionally, the new rule will automatically update the salary threshold every three years, basing the new minimum on wage growth over time. These updates will begin on January 1, 2020.

What does this mean for your construction company? According to the DOL’s three-part test:

  • If the employee has a fixed salary that does not vary based on the hours or quality of his/her work,
  • And is paid at least $913 per week or $47,476 per year,
  • And his/her job responsibilities primarily consist of executive, administrative or professional duties,
  • He/she will be excluded from overtime pay.

While many business owners, nonprofit groups and universities swiftly criticized the new rule, the DOL has stated that every American deserves a fair day’s pay for a hard day’s work. They believe the new rule will make fair pay a reality for 4.2 million workers, “too many of whom have been left working long hours for no additional pay, taking them away from their families and civic life without any extra compensation.”

Though those in opposition believe the new rule will force contractors to cut workers’ hours, reduce their workforce, pare down employee benefits and have a disruptive effect on a number of industries—including construction—the DOL has countered that employers actually have plenty of options to manage the effect of the new overtime rule on their business.

These options including switching employees from salary to an hourly pay scale and paying time-and-a-half for overtime work. They can also raise the salary of employees who are close to the threshold to avoid the overtime issue entirely, or redistribute workloads so that no one is required to exceed 40 hours per week.

Some experts predict the change may lead to a further increase in lawsuits regarding wages and hours. These have risen dramatically over the past few years and often brought against organizations by groups of employees rather than individual workers. Defense costs are often significant, and double damages and attorney’s fees are frequently awarded. Should such a lawsuit be brought against your construction company, it’s very possible the costs will exceed the amount of wages in dispute. We encourage you to prepare for the new wage rule and contact an advisor if you have questions or need assistance determining if your pay practices are in compliance.

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