Archive for February, 2021

Step Up for Ladder Safety

Falls from ladders cause more than 100 deaths and thousands of injuries each year in the United States. These incidents also include injuries to nearly 900 workers in Washington State. Improper ladder use ranked 7th among the state’s top 10 workplace safety and health violations in 2019. Now in its fifth year, National Ladder Safety Month takes place every March to educate, train, and involve the public in preventing ladder injuries and deaths at home and at work. Celebrate by having your workers take the American Ladder Institute’s free online ladder safety training. You can also show workers how to use the free ladder safety app from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.

Common causes of workplace ladder-related incidents include:

  • Lack of ladder safety training.
  • Ladder used is in bad condition.
  • Ladder moves, falls over, or is set up improperly.
  • Worker slips on the rungs, overreaches, or carries objects while climbing the ladder.
  • Worker stands on the ladder’s top step.

The following tips can help keep workers safe while using ladders:

Plan for the job:

  • Use the right ladder for the job with the proper load capacity.
  • Inspect the ladder for defects and remove unsafe ladders from service.
  • Use a fiberglass ladder if there is any chance of contact with electricity.

Set your ladder carefully:

  • Set the ladder on a firm, level base, and angle it per the manufacturer’s guidance.
  • Don’t set the ladder near exit doors or near the path of pedestrian or vehicular traffic.
  • Make sure the ladder extends 3 feet above the landing.

Climb safely:

  • When climbing, use three points of contact — keep 1 hand and both feet or both hands and 1 foot in contact with the ladder at all times.
  • Never carry any load that could cause you to lose balance.
  • Never stand on the top step of a ladder.
  • Don’t pull, lean, stretch or make sudden moves on a ladder that could cause it to tip over. 

The following links can help you train employees to use ladders safely:

Keep Trucking Safe tanker trailer ladder simulation tool and flatbed trailer ladder safety tips

Washington State Department of Labor & Industries ladder safety resources

OSHA ladder safety training fact sheets

OSHA construction ladders safety eTool

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A Toolkit to Educate Employees about COVID-19 Vaccination

The COVID-19 pandemic has been with us for over a year. During that time, scientists and researchers have worked hard to develop vaccines that will provide a strong defense against infection. Making vaccination effective requires spreading the word and making sure that essential workers know that vaccines are safe. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has designed a COVID-19 Vaccination Communication Toolkit for Essential Workers to help employers build confidence in this important new vaccine. The toolkit can help trucking companies educate their workforce about COVID-19 vaccines, raise awareness about the benefits of vaccination, and address common questions and concerns. 

The toolkit contains a variety of resources including: 

  • Key messages
  • An educational slide deck
  • FAQs
  • Posters / flyers
  • Newsletter content
  • A plain language vaccine factsheet (available in several different languages)
  • A template letter for employees
  • Social media content
  • Vaccination sticker templates

Until the vaccines are widely available, it is still vital to maintain social distancing, wear masks, cover your cough, and wash / sanitize your hands to prevent illness.

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Stay Upbeat with a Healthy Heart

American Heart Month takes place each February to raise awareness of the dangers of heart disease. Since its first observance in 1964, improvements in medical research, treatment, and public education have greatly helped people live longer and healthier lives. But heart disease is still America’s top health threat and killer, claiming around 2,300 lives each day.

Heart disease is a major health problem among truck drivers. Research shows that truck drivers have higher heart disease rates than other workers. Truck drivers also have a higher prevalence of heart disease risk factors, including obesity, hypertension, and smoking. These risks stem from lifestyle and occupational factors such as irregular schedules, long hours, physical inactivity, high stress, and limited healthy food options on the road. Age, gender, family history, and social factors can also influence a person’s risk of heart disease. People with poor heart health are also at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19.

Heart Disease and Trucking Safety

Heart disease can interfere with the ability to control and drive a truck safely. In a sample of 182 fatal truck collisions, the National Transportation Safety Board attributed 10% of collisions to medical problems, with 90% of them being heart-related. A recent study also shows a link between heart disease risk and crashes among truck drivers. The most common type of heart disease is coronary artery disease, a result of high blood pressure and plaque buildup in the arteries. The buildup can create blood clots that block blood flow to the heart, which can lead to a heart attack. Truck drivers who feel a heart attack approaching should immediately pull over to a safe area and call 911. Warning signs of a heart attack can differ between men and women. While chest pain and discomfort are most common to both, women are more likely to have the following symptoms:

  • Back and/or jaw pain.
  • Nausea, shortness of breath, cold sweats, and dizziness.
  • Unusual fatigue.
  • Indigestion and abdominal pain.
  • Pain and discomfort when resting or sleeping.

As it raises safety risks, heart disease can potentially disqualify a truck driver from holding a commercial driver license. Don’t wait to be disqualified or for a serious incident to occur before taking your heart health seriously. In addition to following your doctor’s orders, consider adopting these healthy habits to prevent heart disease:

  • Control your blood pressure.
  • Keep your cholesterol and triglyceride levels under control.
  • Eat a healthy diet.
  • Maintain a healthy weight.
  • Get regular exercise.
  • Limit alcohol.
  • Don’t smoke.
  • Manage stress.
  • Manage diabetes.
  • Get enough sleep.

Companies can help their drivers beat heart disease by enhancing their safety programs to include:

  • Training on healthy diets, smoking cessation, exercise breaks, and stress management.
  • Providing fitness facilities at your terminals, locating truck stops that have them, and offering gym memberships.
  • Teach drivers about power naps and sleep hygiene.
  • Have incentive programs that motivate and reward healthy lifestyles.
  • Provide health insurance.
  • Allow time in driving schedules for medical visits.

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