Archive for category Safety Training

Be Wise, Protect Your Eyes

Image of title: "Prevent Blindness, Bringing Americans to Eye Care"

March is Workplace Eye Wellness Month—a time to take a fresh look at preventing eye injuries at work. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) reports that around 2,000 workplace eye injuries requiring medical care occur every day in the United States. About 20% of these injuries result in missing one or more workdays to recover, with 10-20% causing temporary or permanent vision loss.

The most common workplace eye injuries are from airborne particles and objects that strike, scrape, or penetrate the eyes. Chemical, thermal, and flash burns also cause many eye injuries. Welders, power tools, and solvents are major sources of such injuries.  

The best way to prevent workplace eye injuries is to have a company safety program that identifies, assesses, eliminates, and controls hazards that can cause such injuries. Your program should include performing job hazard analyses that identify eye injury hazards and prevention solutions. Providing safe equipment and tools, proper lighting, machine guarding, and employee training can prevent many kinds of eye injuries.

In addition, Washington State workplace safety rules require employers to provide appropriate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to workers who are exposed to eye injury hazards. Depending on the specific hazard, PPE selection may include:

  • Non-prescription and prescription safety glasses
  • Goggles
  • Eye protection with side shields
  • Face shields
  • Welding helmets
  • Full-face respirators

PPE must meet current American National Standards Institute (ANSI) Z87.1 standards. The International Safety Equipment Association’s Eye and Face Protection Selection Guide can help you find the right PPE to keep your workers safe.

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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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Drive Awake, Arrive Alive

Sleepiness and driving is a dangerous mix that makes America’s roadways unsafe. Taking place from November 1-8, Drowsy Driving Awareness and Prevention Week is a national campaign to educate motorists about the hazards and serious consequences of drowsy driving. 

Sleepiness has many causes. Research shows that the risk of sleep-related crashes is higher for young males, shift workers, adults with children at home, truck drivers, and people with untreated sleep disorders or with short-term or chronic sleep deprivation. In the United States, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that drowsy driving causes 100,000 police-reported crashes with 71,000 injuries and 1,550 fatalities each year. In Washington State from 2011 to 2015, drowsy drivers caused 308 serious injury and 64 fatal crashes. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s Large Truck Crash Causation Study attributed sleepiness and fatigue as factors in at least 18,000 or 13% of all commercial motor vehicle-involved crashes. In crashes involving passenger vehicles, the passenger vehicle driver was twice as likely to be fatigue-impaired when compared to the commercial vehicle driver.

Much like alcohol and drugs, sleepiness impairs a driver’s hand-eye coordination, reaction time, judgement, vision, and situational awareness. Some of the negligent behaviors attributed to drowsy driving include:

  • Distracted driving.
  • Following too closely.
  • Going over the center line.
  • Failure to yield right-of-way to other vehicles, pedestrians, or bicyclists.
  • Disregarding signals (e.g., stop signs, red lights, yield signs, turn signals, etc.).

In Washington State, drowsy driving is illegal and can result in a $550 negligent driving violation. “Drowsy drivers put everyone on the road in danger,” says Washington State Patrol’s Chief John R. Batiste. “This form of impaired driving can be prevented by taking some easy, sensible steps before getting behind the wheel of a vehicle.” The following tips can help truck drivers prevent drowsiness and fatigue:

  • Get enough sleep before getting behind the wheel.
  • Maintain a healthy diet and exercise.
  • Take a break every two hours or 100 miles to refresh.
  • Avoid alcohol, drugs, and medications that cause drowsiness as a side effect.
  • Recognize signs of drowsiness such as frequent yawning, heavy eyes, and blurred vision.
  • Do not rely on “alertness tricks” such as smoking, drinking coffee, rolling down the window, turning up the radio, etc.

More information and training resources to prevent drowsy and fatigued driving:

National Sleep Foundation

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

National Safety Council

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June is National Safety Month

Image source: National Safety Council

National Safety Month takes place every June to raise awareness of the leading causes of injury at work, at home, and on the road. During the month-long observance, thousands of communities, organizations, and health professionals will unite to help people identify hazards and solutions to prevent injuries and fatalities.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2017 preventable injury-related deaths totaled 4,414, and medically consulted injuries totaled 4.5 million. Total injury costs were estimated at $161.5 billion, including wage and productivity losses, medical expenses, administrative expenses, motor vehicle property damage, and employer costs.

The best continuous way to prevent injuries and fatalities at work is to have a company safety program. An effective program should include your safety policies, steps to identify job hazards and solutions, and responsibilities for managers, supervisors, and employees. Review, evaluate and update your safety program often to keep it aligned with changing conditions.   

It’s easy to participate in National Safety Month. Start by planning a few activities that will teach your employees how to be safe at work and at home. Some ideas to help get you going include having a safety fair, 5-minute toolbox talks, tip sheets, hands-on training, holding a lunch-n-learn, safety trivia contests, and safety excellence awards.

Check out the links below for resources to plan your events:

Free trucking safety training materials at KeepTruckingSafe.org.

Washington State Department of Labor & Industries training, videos & workshops.

National Safety Month training resources from the National Safety Council.

Take the SafeAtWork Pledge and let others know here.

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May is Global Employee Health & Fitness Month

Image source: National Association for Health and Fitness

Global Employee Health & Fitness Month is a worldwide observance to promote health and fitness in the workplace. Practicing a healthy lifestyle that includes a nutritious diet and physical exercise is key to avoiding injury and illness and being a dynamic, high-performing worker. For truck drivers, health and fitness are vital to safely operating a vehicle and performing other related job tasks. Healthy and fit drivers benefit business operations because they feel physically better, have higher mental alertness, and comply with CDL medical requirements.

Health and Fitness Challenges for Truck Drivers

Finding opportunities to get nutritious foods and regular exercise can be a challenge for truck drivers. Although truck drivers are always on the go, their access to healthy food options on pick-up and delivery routes often reflects food desert conditions. Truck stops, rest areas, convenience stores, break room vending machines, and fast food restaurants usually offer unhealthy processed foods that are high in calories and low in nutrients. Exercise is especially important for long-haul drivers who travel for extended periods without much physical activity. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) found that truck drivers lack adequate exercise and many see themselves as being out of shape. As a result of eating poorly and not exercising, obesity and morbid obesity are twice as high for long-haul truck drivers than other workers.

Research shows that obesity negatively impacts job performance and can cause sleep apnea, arthritis, diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, stroke, and cancer. A recent RAND study reports that nearly 60 percent of the United States population has one or more of these chronic conditions. Treatment costs for these conditions account for 90% of national health care expenditures. Another study found that combined annual costs of covered medical, sick day, short-term disability, and workers’ compensation claims for normal weight employees averaged $3,830 while costing $8,067 for morbidly obese employees.  

Taking the Onramp to Better Health

A recent nationwide survey of over 20,000 employees found that healthy workers were 16 to 27 percent less likely to have recent absenteeism. It also indicated that higher job performance was more likely for: 

  • 25 percent of workers who ate healthy the entire day.
  • 20 percent of workers who ate five or more servings of fruit and vegetables on four or more days in the past week.
  • 15 percent for workers who exercised for 30 or more minutes on three or more days a week.

Being on the road doesn’t mean that truck drivers have no chances to improve their health. Instead, it means that they must adapt to their mobile workplace by doing things a little differently than most employees who always work in the same place. The tips below can help steer drivers in the right direction, but it is always important to consult a health care provider before making any dietary or lifestyle (exercise) changes, to make sure you can safely do so.

  • Shop at grocery stores and pack your own meals, snacks, and drinks instead of stopping at truck stops, convenience stores, and fast food restaurants.
  • Eat foods that are high in protein and omega 3-fatty acids, and low in carbs, preservatives, and sodium.
  • Eat smaller meals more often during the day to help lose weight and steady your blood sugar level.
  • Drink more water instead of sugary drinks like soda.
  • Sleep in a quiet, comfortable place, and avoid large meals, spicy foods, coffee, alcohol, tobacco, and television before going to sleep.
  • Find a safe area near your truck to take a walk, stretch, do push-ups, sit ups, jumping jacks, or jump rope.
  • Locate truck stops that provide food and services that support a healthy lifestyle for truck drivers.
  • Quit using tobacco products, stimulants, and alcohol.

Click on the following links for more information and resources:

Keep Trucking Safe.org – Truck Driver Health Issues

National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) – Truck Driver Health

NIOSH – Total Worker Health Programs

Virginia Tech Transportation Institute – Driving Healthy.org

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Keeping Truck Drivers Safe from COVID-19

 The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the everyday reality of work-life across the United States. As the disease forces millions of workers to social distance from home, many truck drivers are still part of the essential workforce bravely supporting the nation at this critical moment. Being an essential worker means facing intensified levels of health risk. The risk also increases for truck drivers adjusting to unfamiliar and stressful work situations and environments. Companies are dealing with new challenges in protecting their employees from infection and assisting drivers who do get sick. Drivers worry about where to get medical help or how to self-quarantine if they get sick far from home. As a result, one of the biggest lessons being learned is that it’s crucial to include a sickness prevention and response strategy in your company safety program. You can begin such a strategy using a few basic steps in the attached tip sheet.  

Click on the following links from Keep Trucking Safe for more COVID-19 prevention tips:

You Can’t Touch This

Covering Your Cough and Sneeze

Managing COVID-19’s Impacts on Driver Stress

Handwashing: Your Protection Against Infection

Social Distancing

Image of Keeping Safe from COVID-19 tip sheet.

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Handwashing: Your Protection Against Infection

Safety and health are in your hands and at your fingertips. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) stress that frequent handwashing is the best first-line personal protection against catching and spreading COVID-19. Truck drivers certainly have good reason to take notice of the CDC’s advice. Loading freight, making deliveries, fueling, eating in public areas, and using public restrooms are just some of the ways that truck drivers touch objects covered with germs that cause disease. Most times you never know who touched the fuel pump, ATM keypad, or cooler door before you did or how often those surfaces get disinfected. So why take a chance on your health when you can simply wash your hands to avoid sickness? But proper handwashing requires following some basic guidelines such as when to use soap versus hand sanitizer, and whether you should wash your hands before, during or after certain tasks and activities. Use this tip sheet, Handwashing: Your Protection Against Infection to brush up on the skills and knowledge needed to make hand hygiene one of your best defenses against COVID-19.

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Always Expect a Train

Better regulations, enforcement, engineering, and training have greatly reduced train and motor vehicle collisions across the United States. In fact, collisions declined 83 percent from 12,000 in 1972 to 2,123 in 2017, significantly reducing fatalities and injuries. However, reaching zero collisions requires more education, especially on how to drive safely through railroad crossings.

While trains collide with trucks at railroad crossings far less than with cars, truck collisions can be much more severe. Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration data show that in the United States, 112 fatal crashes involving large trucks occurred at railroad crossings from 2010-2017. Washington State Utilities and Transportation Commission data show that in Washington State, 67 railroad crossing collisions involved semi-trucks from 2010-2018. These incidents resulted in 2 deaths, 10 injuries, and many thousands of dollars in property damage.

Attempting to beat a train at a railroad crossing is always a bad decision that can cost your life. Trains are closer and faster than they may seem from a truck cab window. The average freight train traveling at 55 mph needs a mile or more to stop. By the time a train engineer sees you, it’s nearly always too late for them to fully stop before hitting you. The more you know about railroad crossing safety, the better prepared you’ll be to drive and thrive each day. Use the following tips to stay safe at highway-rail crossings.

Approaching and crossing train tracks:

  • Know your railroad crossing signs and signals.
  • Use only designated crossings.
  • Always expect a train when you approach a crossing.
  • Stop at least 15 feet away from a crossing.
  • Put away your cell phone, it’s illegal and can distract you from seeing or hearing a train.
  • Turn off your radio and fan so you can listen for approaching trains.
  • Look both ways before going through a crossing.
  • Never drive through a crossing unless you can clear it without stopping.
  • At a multiple track crossing, wait for the train to pass, then look both ways for other trains before driving on.
  • Never drive around lowered gates – it’s illegal and deadly.
  • Make sure that trailer landing gear is fully retracted to prevent getting stuck on crossings.

If your truck stalls or gets stuck:

  • Get yourself and any passengers out of the truck immediately.
  • If a train is coming, get out and move quickly toward the oncoming train and away from the tracks at a 45-degree angle. This is to protect you from being hit by debris that will fly in the same direction of the train’s path. 
  • When you are a safe distance from the tracks, call the 800 number on the blue Emergency Notification System sign at the crossing, or call 911 to alert trains of your location. Do this even if you do not see a train.

To report a rail crossing signal malfunction or other problem:

  • Call the 800 number on the blue Emergency Notification System sign at the crossing. Provide the location, crossing number (if posted), and the name of the road or highway that crosses the tracks.
  • Call the local police or 911 if you cannot locate the emergency phone number at the crossing.

Get free rail crossing safety training resources:

Keep Trucking Safe Railroad Crossing Safety Tip Sheet.

Operation Lifesaver’s Rail Safety Education for Professional Drivers includes railroad crossing safety information, videos, eLearnings and other training materials.

Federal Railroad Administration’s Emergency Notification System sign visor card here.

Federal Railroad Administration’s Rail Crossing Locator Mobile App lets users get information about specific railroad crossings in the United States. The app can also be used to report an emergency or safety concern about a railroad crossing.

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The 2019 Governor’s Industrial Safety & Health Conference is September 24-26

The 68th Annual Governor’s Industrial Safety & Health Conference will be at the Greater Tacoma Convention and Trade Center September 24-26, 2019. The conference offers training and education on the latest tools, technologies, and strategies to improve workplace safety and health. Each year the conference attracts around 1,000 attendees and more than 300 volunteers from different industries.

This year’s event will feature over 80 cutting-edge workshops presented by safety and health experts from many fields. The keynote speaker will be Todd Conklin, who spent 25 years at Los Alamos National Laboratory as a Senior Advisor for Organizational and Safety Culture. Pre-conference training classes on September 24 will also offer in-depth opportunities to learn about workplace violence prevention in healthcare, mental health first aid, confined space rescue, and silica exposure prevention in construction, maritime, and general industries.

The conference is a great opportunity for participants to learn about the latest best practices, watch demonstrations, examine new products, and network with peers. Register by August 31 for best attendee rates. Don’t miss out!

Details and registration information are available on the conference website.

Safety Stand-Down Week to Prevent Falls in the Workplace is May 6-10

Falls cause more hospitalizations, disabling injuries, and deaths in Washington State than any other workplace hazard. Falls injure about 1,600 workers in Washington each year, that’s about 4 per day. In the trucking industry, falls account for about 20% of all injuries. Severe falls from heights rank first in average medical costs among all trucking injuries. The most common activities leading to falls among truck drivers include:

  • Entering or exiting the cab.
  • Falling off the back of the trailer or liftgate.
  • Falling off of a load.
  • Missing a step or getting a foot caught in a rung of ladder.
  • Ladders slipping out from underneath a worker.
  • Slips, trips, and falls around jobsites caused by debris, slippery steps, uneven surfaces, or inclement weather.

Fall injuries are 100% preventable. Here are a few tips to prevent falls for truck drivers:

  • Keep terminal yard and dock area surfaces well lit, even, and free of ice, snow, trash, potholes, liquid spills, and other debris.
  • Use 3 points of contact when exiting or entering your cab.
  • If possible, keep one hand on the side of the vehicle for support while walking around the vehicle.
  • Wear suitable and serviceable anti-slip footwear.
  • Keep tractor and trailer steps, decks, and grab handles clean and serviceable.
  • If possible, tarp loads only in areas protected from the weather.
  • If possible, stay off the load entirely.
  • Never stand or walk on the load or tarp, crawl on it instead.
  • Keep away from the edges of loading docks.
  • Wear calks if you are working on top of logs.

 

To raise awareness of fall prevention, the Washington Department of Labor & Industries (L&I) is partnering with the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to sponsor “Safety Stand-Down” week from May 6-10. The annual event encourages employers to host events and discussions with their workers to identify fall hazards and prevent injuries.

Show your employees that you are committed to fall injury prevention by holding a Safety Stand-Down event in your own company. This could include short toolbox talks, refresher training, reviewing safety bulletins or watching a safety video.

Need resources for your event? L&I’s Trucking Injury Reduction Emphasis (TIRES) project can help. TIRES offers free tip sheets, posters, interactive simulations, and true stories about injured truck drivers.

More information about Safety Stand-Down Week is available from L&I, OSHA, and NIOSH.