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Safety tip of the week

Safety tip of the week

Hands-Free Office Phone

As aging occurs, workers can lose flexibility in their neck, shoulders and upper back. Aging workers who use the telephone a lot at their desks might want to consider making a change.

Using a regular telephone handset with your shoulder hunched up and neck kinked over all day could over time can lead to muscle strains, headaches and soreness.

Using the hand set for quick intermittent calls is fine, but if you are on the phone a lot, an effective assist would be by using a ‘hands-free’ head set. This allows a worker to maintain proper posture while taking care of customers on the phone.

Headsets come in a variety of styles including wireless models. These headsets will also allow for volume adjustment when needed.  With this increase of comfort, employees can be more productive regardless of their age.

Rick Means, WRA Safety Specialist, is available to members to help draw up safety plans and suggest topics for safety meetings. Contact him at 360-943-9198 x18, or rick.means@retailassociationservices.com

Safety tip of the week

Safety tip of the week

Understand falls to avoid them

It’s important to understand falling on the job to avoid having it happen to you. Often, an employee’s health and physical condition can contribute to a fall and possible injury.

There also are types of falls to understand. For example, slips and trips can cause falls. Typically, slipping involves insufficient friction on the bottom of your shoes, especially where your heel strikes the ground. This can result in a sliding motion and cause your center of gravity to become unsupported. This can cause you to lose balance and fall.

You can also fall by tripping over something you didn’t notice, such as an exposed cord on the floor.

Sometimes falls are affected by the health and physical condition impairing a person’s vision, judgment, and balance. This could be related to stress or illness, compromised eyesight, age, physical fatigue, or medications, alcohol or drugs.

Analyze your situation and ability by focusing on and watching what you are doing so that you are not distracted to avoid falling. There is more information on this topic for WRA members in the RASI Safety Library. Non-members can visit  RASI Safety TV  and look under Slip Trips Falls.

WRA employs Rick Means as a Safety Specialist who is available to members to help draw up safety plans and suggest topics for safety meetings. Contact him at 360-200-6454, or rick.means@retailassociationservices.com.

Safety tip of the week

Safety tip of the week

Heat can be a hazard to workers

When a person works in a hot environment, the body must get rid of excess heat to maintain a stable internal temperature. It does this mainly through circulating blood to the skin and through sweating.

When the air temperature is close to or warmer than normal body temperature, cooling of the body becomes more difficult. Blood circulated to the skin cannot lose its heat.  Sweating then becomes the main way the body cools off.  But sweating is effective only if the humidity level is low enough to allow evaporation and if the fluids and salts that are lost are adequately replaced.

If the body cannot get rid of excess heat, it will store it. When this happens, the body’s core temperature rises and the heart rate increases. As the body continues to store heat, the person begins to lose concentration and has difficulty focusing on a task, may become irritable or sick, and often loses the desire to drink. The next stage is most often fainting and even death if the person is not cooled down.

Excessive exposure to heat can cause a range of heat-related illnesses, from heat rash and heat cramps to heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Heat stroke can result in death and requires immediate medical attention.

Exposure to heat can also increase the risk of injuries because of sweaty palms, fogged-up safety glasses, dizziness, and burns from hot surfaces or steam.

Workers exposed to hot indoor environments or hot and humid conditions outdoors are at risk of heat-related illness, especially those doing heavy work tasks or using bulky or non-breathable protective clothing and equipment. Some workers might be at greater risk than others if they have not built up a tolerance to hot conditions, or if they have certain health conditions.

There is additional information for WRA members in the RASI Safety Library.  There is more for the public at large on heat-related illnesses on RASI Safety TV.

WRA employs Rick Means as a Safety Specialist who is available to members to help draw up safety plans and suggest topics for safety meetings. Contact him at 360-943-9198, Ext. 18 or rick.means@retailassociationservices.com.

Safety Tips Archive

Safety tip of the week

Hands-Free Office Phone

As aging occurs, workers can lose flexibility in their neck, shoulders and upper back. Aging workers who use the telephone a lot at their desks might want to consider making a change.

Using a regular telephone handset with your shoulder hunched up and neck kinked over all day could over time can lead to muscle strains, headaches and soreness.

Using the hand set for quick intermittent calls is fine, but if you are on the phone a lot, an effective assist would be by using a ‘hands-free’ head set. This allows a worker to maintain proper posture while taking care of customers on the phone.

Headsets come in a variety of styles including wireless models. These headsets will also allow for volume adjustment when needed.  With this increase of comfort, employees can be more productive regardless of their age.

Rick Means, WRA Safety Specialist, is available to members to help draw up safety plans and suggest topics for safety meetings. Contact him at 360-943-9198 x18, or rick.means@retailassociationservices.com

Safety tip of the week

Understand falls to avoid them

It’s important to understand falling on the job to avoid having it happen to you. Often, an employee’s health and physical condition can contribute to a fall and possible injury.

There also are types of falls to understand. For example, slips and trips can cause falls. Typically, slipping involves insufficient friction on the bottom of your shoes, especially where your heel strikes the ground. This can result in a sliding motion and cause your center of gravity to become unsupported. This can cause you to lose balance and fall.

You can also fall by tripping over something you didn’t notice, such as an exposed cord on the floor.

Sometimes falls are affected by the health and physical condition impairing a person’s vision, judgment, and balance. This could be related to stress or illness, compromised eyesight, age, physical fatigue, or medications, alcohol or drugs.

Analyze your situation and ability by focusing on and watching what you are doing so that you are not distracted to avoid falling. There is more information on this topic for WRA members in the RASI Safety Library. Non-members can visit  RASI Safety TV  and look under Slip Trips Falls.

WRA employs Rick Means as a Safety Specialist who is available to members to help draw up safety plans and suggest topics for safety meetings. Contact him at 360-200-6454, or rick.means@retailassociationservices.com.

Safety tip of the week

Heat can be a hazard to workers

When a person works in a hot environment, the body must get rid of excess heat to maintain a stable internal temperature. It does this mainly through circulating blood to the skin and through sweating.

When the air temperature is close to or warmer than normal body temperature, cooling of the body becomes more difficult. Blood circulated to the skin cannot lose its heat.  Sweating then becomes the main way the body cools off.  But sweating is effective only if the humidity level is low enough to allow evaporation and if the fluids and salts that are lost are adequately replaced.

If the body cannot get rid of excess heat, it will store it. When this happens, the body’s core temperature rises and the heart rate increases. As the body continues to store heat, the person begins to lose concentration and has difficulty focusing on a task, may become irritable or sick, and often loses the desire to drink. The next stage is most often fainting and even death if the person is not cooled down.

Excessive exposure to heat can cause a range of heat-related illnesses, from heat rash and heat cramps to heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Heat stroke can result in death and requires immediate medical attention.

Exposure to heat can also increase the risk of injuries because of sweaty palms, fogged-up safety glasses, dizziness, and burns from hot surfaces or steam.

Workers exposed to hot indoor environments or hot and humid conditions outdoors are at risk of heat-related illness, especially those doing heavy work tasks or using bulky or non-breathable protective clothing and equipment. Some workers might be at greater risk than others if they have not built up a tolerance to hot conditions, or if they have certain health conditions.

There is additional information for WRA members in the RASI Safety Library.  There is more for the public at large on heat-related illnesses on RASI Safety TV.

WRA employs Rick Means as a Safety Specialist who is available to members to help draw up safety plans and suggest topics for safety meetings. Contact him at 360-943-9198, Ext. 18 or rick.means@retailassociationservices.com.

Safety tip of the week

Improve hearing in your shop or office

 Concerts, iPods, cell phones and very loud sporting events may all contribute to loss of hearing over time. It’s true for Baby Boomers, Gen-Xers and Millennials alike.

Natural hearing loss can start about age 40 regardless of other environmental factors.

When working with older employees, it’s possible they may not properly hear the instructions you just shouted across the room. Sometimes certain tones or frequency ranges ‘drop out’ and become inaudible. Ringing in the ears, a condition known as tinnitus, also can make it difficult to hear warning shouts or instructions in a noisy environment.  An unheard warning shout could result in an injury accident.

Some solutions:

  • Make sure that hearing protection is always worn when noise levels are consistently over 85db (WRA members can find a noise level chart here and there are noise apps for your smart phone here).
  • Try to reduce background noise levels as low as possible by shielding noisy equipment.
  • Provide important information visually.
  • Reduce echoing with improved acoustics.
  • Sirens or warning alarms should have alternating frequencies (think of a European police car siren).
  • Provide hands free telephone headsets with adjustable volume switches.
  • Speak clearly.

Technology can help us improve hearing somewhat, but hearing is something that we can’t get back completely once it deteriorates.

WRA employs Rick Means as a Safety Specialist who is available to members to help draw up safety plans and suggest topics for safety meetings. Contact him at 360-943-9198, Ext. 18 or rick.means@retailassociationservices.com

Safety tip of the week

Assign new employees an orientation buddy

Finding enough time to properly orientate your new employees can be a problem. In the first orientation there can be a lot to cover, including policies and paperwork, in a short period of time.

But there is a way to continue the process with orientation buddies.  Every new hire should have an orientation buddy to help him or her get off to a good, safe start. They can show your new workers the safety elements the company has built in including the location of the fire exits and extinguishers; first-aid kits; eyewash stations; chemical safety data sheets and equipment usage.  By imparting safety knowledge along the way, they are having a secondary effect by making the newcomer feel valued, which can lead to a more engaged and productive employee.

In order to carry out these important duties successfully, orientation buddies should:

  • Have been with your organization for at least a year.
  • Have a good performance history and a safe work record.
  • Be skilled in the new employee’s job.
  • Possess broad knowledge about your organization, your operations, and your safety programs.
  • Have the time to spend with the new employee and be willing to take on the assignment.
  • Be patient and communicate well.
  • Serve as a positive safety role model.

Building relationships through this type of mentoring is another way to ensure that new employees have the resources they need to succeed.  Seasoned employees can help new employees on the job and provide support.  New employees tend to be hesitant about asking questions for fear of appearing incompetent.

A company’s orientation program should include easy access to resources to reduce new employee frustration and to provide essential, effective safety training.

Washington Retail has an app that can help your young worker out with some safety basics that can be found here

Safety tip of the week

Orderliness can prevent accidents at work

As far as injuries go, the most critical part of workplace housekeeping is keeping items in order. Are tools strewn about, for example, or in their proper place?

Managers and employees should check regularly to ensure that aisleways are clear for employees and customers.

Some of the benefits of good housekeeping include:

  • Eliminating causes of accidents
  • Preventing wasted energy looking for lost items later on
  • Maintaining good use of available space
  • Reducing damage to goods
  • Encouraging better work habits
  • Reflecting an organized workplace and image

Companies should develop a strategy for good housekeeping. During the day, does your staff periodically stop and survey the floors and shelves to see if there are any hazards for staff or customers?  Make a habit of regularly looking over the store and housekeeping will be easier and prevent potential injuries.

Consider watching RASI SAFETY TV’s The Accident Cascade video that be shown to start a discussion during a safety meeting.

Rick Means, WRA’s Safety Specialist, is available to members to help draw up safety plans and suggest topics for safety meetings. Contact him at 360-943-9198 x18, or rick.means@retailassociationservices.com

Safety tip of the week

Have you seen SAFEME?

The Washington Retail Association is offering a free web-based and smartphone app to help employers get first-time and young employees off to a safer start in the working world. Many first-time employees get their careers going in retail.

SAFEME users can earn basic safety training certificates to augment required safety training from employers. The certificates demonstrate that an entry-level or young worker has a sound understanding of the potential hazards in many different workplaces and how to avoid them. While geared towards retail, the topics can apply to many industries. The lessons include videos and quizzes that demonstrate use of ladders, proper lifting, slips-trips-falls, box knife use and more.

The SAFEME app – on the web at www.wrasafeme.org, is available for Apple and Android phones through the app stores.  A two-minute video of how the app works can be seen here.

The app is courtesy of a grant from Labor & Industries’ Safety and Health Investment Projects. It is aimed particularly at workers aged 16 to 20 who often sustain workplace injuries due to lack of work experience and preparation.  Additional information and resources about this project can be found here.

SAFEME has been viewed/downloaded by hundreds of users in 41states and embraced by educators and businesses alike.

Safer employees reduce injuries and workers’ compensation claims. In Washington State, employers and employees contribute toward paying premiums for injury insurance.  As injuries drop, so do insurance costs.

WRA’s Rick Means is available to members to assist with L&I safety compliance, to help draw up safety plans and suggest topics for safety meetings. Contact him at 360-943-9198 x18, or rick.means@retailassociationservices.com.

Safety tip of the week

How to avoid retail-related work injuries

Overdoing it on the job is a typical reason for injuries in the retail industry. Muscle strains and sprains result from a variety of movements including lifting, bending and twisting at the waist, pushing and pulling boxes, carrying items and using poor posture.

Labor & Industries has specific data on retail injuries, which looks like this:

  • One out of every four injuries in retail is from overexertion.
  • The average cost per overexertion claim is a little over $11,500.
  • Overexertion claims represent about 37 percent of workers’ comp costs in retail.
  • Lifting causes about half the overexertion injuries. Carrying ranks second, followed closely by pushing and pulling.
  • Boxes were the most frequent source of injury. Automotive parts also were high on the list of sources of injury.
  • The back was clearly the most frequently injured part of the body. Shoulder injuries were a distant second.

To prevent overexertion:

  • Stretch and/or warm up before heavy lifting or strenuous activity
  • Use hand trucks and carts as much as possible
  • Lift with your legs bent and objects held close to your body
  • Avoid bending, overreaching and twisting when lifting
  • For unusual sized items, get help when lifting

Proper posture, body mechanics and ergonomics can lessen overexertion injuries.  Because it is important that the demands of the job match the capabilities of the worker, extra training may be required to perform a job safely.

Members can find additional information in the Safety Library in the Overexertion section.  RASI SafetyTV  also has some videos on this topic.

 WRA employs Rick Means as a Safety Specialist who is available to members to help draw up safety plans and suggest topics for safety meetings. Contact him at 360-943-9198, Ext. 18 or rick.means@retailassociationservices.com.

Safety tip of the week

Balance work and family needs before a natural disaster

Business owners need to brace for natural disasters to be able to recover quickly and remain in business.

But preparing for an earthquake or flood also requires preparations at home. Your business may not run well if a disaster has torn up your family life, or vice versa.

Personal preparedness goes hand in hand with business continuity plans for business owners.

RASI SAFETY TV has some great videos on how to prepare.  Our Retro members can access even more information in the Safety Library in the Emergency Preparedness section.  Please take some time to review your current personal plan and update it as needed.

A personal preparedness plan resembles a business recovery plan:

  • Mitigate: What can you do to make your personal environment safer?
  • Communicate: How will you communicate with loved ones? Do you have an outside-the-area contact set up?
  • Prepare: What are the supplies you need and where will you store them?
  • Don’t forget to arrange for those with special needs in your family; seniors, infants/children and pets.

WRA employs Rick Means as a Safety Specialist who is available to members to help draw up safety plans and suggest topics for safety meetings. Contact him at 360-943.9198 x18, or rick.means@retailassociationservices.com.

Safety tip of the week:

Aging workers may need lighting adjustments

The single largest missing ingredient in workplaces to assist aging workers is proper light and whether it is right for the task at hand. A lighting plan that uses more indirect rays, especially with computer use, creates a better working environment.

Using task-specific lighting is important.  This can be accomplished by using table and desk lamps with soft white lights (or filtered clear bulbs) to reduce glare.  Reducing glare contributes to workstation comfort and in the work area will help to minimize falls.

Pools of light can distort perception of height and depth that could lead to stumbling or tripping.  Uneven brightness patterns can produce shadows or create the illusion of steps or edges where the light and shadow meet.  In those areas, you should introduce gradual changes in light levels.

Each employee and job type needs to be assessed to best accommodate the situation.  The objective is to reduce the possibility of an accident.  Additional information can be found at RASI Safety TV.

Our Retro members also can find resources in the RASI Safety Library, in the Aging in the Workplace section.

Lighting modifications to adjust or install additional lighting often are simple and affordable. Such changes can help seasoned employees and those who are younger, as well.

WRA employs Rick Means as a Safety Specialist who is available to members to help draw up safety plans and suggest topics for safety meetings. Contact him at 360-943-9198, Ext. 18 or rick.means@retailassociationservices.com.

Safety tip of the week:

Get familiar with fire extinguishers

Don’t forget to make sure your fire extinguishers are working and accessible in case of a fire. It’s also a good idea to post a map of extinguisher locations and exit routes from your workplace.

The most common A-B-C extinguisher can be used on all types of fires. It will work on combustible materials, electrical and flammable liquids.  You should check on what your local code requirements are regarding how many extinguishers you need and the recommended height to mount them on walls.

When using an extinguisher to fight a small fire, try to remember the PASS system. It’s an acronym for how to use an extinguisher:

  • P means pull the pin
  • A is for aim at the base of the fire.
  • S is for squeeze the handle.
  • S is for sweeping the contents in a side to side motion.

Check with your local fire department about visiting your office or plant to provide a live demonstration on use of an extinguisher. Such a demonstration should be part of a new hire orientation.

WRA employs Rick Means as a Safety Specialist who is available to members to help draw up safety plans and suggest topics for safety meetings. Contact him at 360-943.9198 x18 or rick.means@retailassociationservices.com.

Safety tip of the week

Exercises for those in desk jobs

With the constant use of technology, our sedentary desk jobs are pulling us forward – but not in a good way.  We have a tendency to assume a forward head position and to round our shoulders.  You also develop a decreased range of motion in the neck and shoulders.

You can help offset these conditions by trying to move as much as possible during the day.  Some ideas include:

Standing during phone calls.

  • When you have a question for a colleague, get up and go to his or her desk instead of calling or emailing.
  • Set a reminder on your phone or calendar to get up at regular intervals during the day (some companies have installed software on employee computers that monitor your work and tell you when it it’s a time for a break).
  • Use the printer and restroom farthest from your work area when possible.

If leaving your desk at regular intervals isn’t an option, you can work on range of motion in both the neck and shoulders with a few simple movements. All these can be done while seated.

These exercises include:

  • Jaw lifts: With eyes facing forward, tilt your head right leading with your jaw. Keep your eyes forward and don’t twist your neck at the same time. Alternate sides, taking care not to force the movement to pain or move too quickly.
  • Shoulder rolls: Sit tall in your chair with your feet flat on the floor. Shrug your shoulders and roll them back, feeling your shoulder blades drawn down as you do. You should feel your chest stretch as your shoulders pull back.
  • Side reaches: From your seated position, raise your right hand straight in the air. Turn your palm in toward the midline of your body and reach left, over your head. Hold for three to five seconds before returning to the starting position. Repeat with the left hand.

For videos about this, go to RASI SAFETYTV and members have access to more in the Safety Library.

WRA employs Rick Means as a Safety Specialist who is available to members to help draw up safety plans and suggest topics for safety meetings. Contact him at 360-943-9198, Ext. 18 or rick.means@retailassociationservices.com

(Portions of this article came from U.S. News & World Report)

Safety tip of the week

Companies should adopt cell phone use policies

 Estimates are that one in 10 drivers is somehow distracted while on the road whether it be from eating, reading, using navigation devices, passenger distraction or cell phone use.  For this reason, hand-held cell phone use or texting while driving is illegal in the State of Washington.

Accidents from these distractions can cause time loss for employees, increased insurance rates and leave company vehicles out of commission for extended periods.

If you have company delivery drivers, you need to explain the dangers of cell phone use while driving and that you are taking action by implementing policies that would prohibit handheld devices while operating a company vehicle.  Rick Means, WRA’s Safety Specialist, urges companies without cell phone use policies to put them together soon. The National Safety Council (NSC) recommends that those policies apply to all company employees.

Employees should be instructed to make calls before leaving the parking lot or at rest stops, but not while they’re on the road.

Two bills under consideration this legislative session would amend the state’s driving-with-electronics laws to further limit their use. The pending bills would ban drivers from using any electronic device with more than one finger and prohibit holding a cell phone to your ear while driving. This would include a ban on holding a phone to scroll for social media feeds, taking a photo or sending an e-mail.

The NSC has created a series of short videos that answer common questions about cell phone use and driving.  On RASI SAFETY TV, there is a playlist of these videos.  This would be a great topic at your next safety meeting. Rick suggests showing a few with discussions between each video.

WRA employs Rick to be available to members to help draw up safety plans and suggest topics for safety meetings. Contact him at 360-943-9198, Ext. 18 or rick.means@retailassociationservices.com.

Safety tip of the week

Regular meetings raise safety awareness

Employees may occasionally grumble about regular safety meetings, but they are valuable for several reasons.

Consider:

  • They show that management is serious about safety, not just giving it lip service.
  • They get employees involved in the safety process by increasing the number of eyes and brains engaged in safety.
  • Employees develop a sense of “ownership” in the safety efforts.  It also gives ‘early warning’ of unsafe conditions. Those employees made more aware of potential hazards may be more likely to work more carefully.
  • Some insurance companies may offer discounts if you conduct regular safety meetings and can prove it with documentation. Check with your insurance company about such possible discounts.

Take ten minutes and discuss the proper use of a tool or a proper way to use a ladder or any piece of equipment that your operation uses. Remember to log your topic and attendees in your safety binder, so if you are ever audited by Labor & Industries, you can show that you are actively promoting safety in the workplace.

Our Retro members receive safety packets each month, which are available here.  Another tool is RASI SafetyTV, which contains a variety of video topics to assist with your safety meeting.

Remember that taking shortcuts on the job can lead to accidents and injuries. Please add safety in some way to your regular store meetings.

WRA employs Safety Specialist Rick Means who is available to members to help draw up safety plans and suggest topics for safety meetings. Contact him at 360-943-9198 x18, or rick.means@retailassociationservices.com.

Safety tip of the week

Don’t walk on by

As you head home at the end of the work day, you see a spill on the floor.  Do you just walk on by? You could be heading to the stock room and notice that someone left an extension cord lying on the floor. Would you just walk on by?

Sometimes, poor housekeeping can cause a workplace injury.

If you see a potential hazard in your workplace, point it out or take care of it before it becomes an accident.  Work-related illness and injury are responsible for an astonishing 27 million lost working days each year, not to mention the accompanying pain and suffering these incidents cause. For every major injury there are approximately 300 close calls. Many accidents can be prevented with good housekeeping.

There are some good videos about this on RASI SAFETYTV.

It takes an effort to keep your shop safe so please encourage everyone not to just walk on by.

WRA employs Rick Means as a Safety Specialist who is available to members to help draw up safety plans and suggest topics for safety meetings. Contact him at 360-943-9198, Ext. 18, or mailto:rick.means@retailassociationservices.com.

Safety tip of the week:

Earthquake drill in two weeks

 More than 800,000 participants statewide are expected to practice earthquake survival skills during the 2016 Great Washington ShakeOut the morning of Oct. 20.

Millions of people worldwide will practice how to “drop, cover and hold on” at 10:20 a.m. on that day in a worldwide earthquake drill simulation. Organizers have begun conducting the drill annually to raise awareness and improve preparations for earthquakes.

Click here to register your company for the drill. Click here for a step-by-step guide on how to prepare your company and employees for the earthquake drill. Click here to review recent seismic activity in the Northwest.

WRA urges members to register and participate in the drill. Analysis of disasters shows that companies can increase their odds of surviving an earthquake through better preparation regarding safety steps that can be taken.

The state Emergency Management Division is offering several useful computer links for additional information.

Rick Means, WRA’s Safety Specialist, will be reviewing the drills with the office staff. WRA will be participating in the event this year.

More preparedness links can be found on RASI Safety TV  or in the RASI Safety Library.

Rick is available to members to help draw up safety plans and suggest topics for safety meetings. Contact him at 360-943-9198, x18 or rick.means@retailassociationservices.com.

Step ladders with hand rails can prevent injuries

Safety tip of the week

Mature workers wishing to work later in life are finding job opportunities in retail. But the physical changes older workers have encountered can require different tools to ensure they can continue to do their jobs without injury.

People can lose strength and balance as they age. A step ladder with hand rails can help compensate for any physical limitations. A ladder is a common piece of equipment that retail workers use to stock displays or to deposit or remove merchandise from a stock room.

Being able to grasp a railing as a worker goes up or down a ladder provides additional support in maintaining balance or safely handling merchandise. Remember that most ladder accidents happen on the way back down, when you think you’re at the bottom but not quite there.  The hand rail provides an additional point of contact for postural steadiness that can help to prevent a fall. WRA’s Safety Specialist Rick Means recommends replacing a plain step stool with a hand-railed step ladder. Such a step ladder would be beneficial for all workers, young and older, and probably won’t cost much more than a plain step stool without handles.

Retro members can get more information regarding the aging workforce here.

WRA employs Rick, who is available to members to help draw up safety plans and suggest topics for safety meetings. Contact him at 360-943-9198 x18, or rick.means@retailassociationservices.com.

Safety meetings can improve productivity

Safety tip of the week

Some employers may wonder why staff safety meetings should be conducted on a regular basis.

In most cases, the state requires them, but there are several other good reasons to meet regularly with your employees to review safety procedures.

Safety meetings are a good way to demonstrate that management is serious about avoiding workplace injuries. Too many injuries increase workers’ comp insurance premiums for employers.

Regular meetings engage employees to suggest ideas on how to work more safely and help employees understand that they can play a direct role in improving a company’s safety record. By talking about it and opening meetings to input from employees, it’s possible to discover early warnings about potential hazards that need attention.

In 10 minutes, it’s possible to cover any one of a range of topics such as proper use of a tool, safe use of a ladder or other equipment in use at your company. Don’t forget to log your discussion topics and attendance in a computer or binder in order to prove your commitment to safety in case a Labor & Industries inspector pays a visit and asks for your record of safety meetings.

WRA’s Retro members receive Monthly Safety Packets, which are available here.  If you need some help gaining access to the forms, contact WRA’s Safety Specialist Rick Means for help.

Safety meetings can and do raise awareness on how to improve safe work practices and avoid shortcuts that can lead to accidents and lost time. Employers should add safety meetings to their regular meeting rotation because a better safety record can improve overall productivity.

As Safety Specialist, Rick is available to members to help draw up safety plans and suggest topics for safety meetings. Contact him at 360-943-9198 x18, or rick.means@retailassociationservices.com.

Dissect accidents to avoid repeats

Safety tip of the week

If an accident happens at your company, try to find out how it happened.

You should always take a deeper look into incidents and pursue the details in hopes of learning what steps contributed to the failure.  In reviewing an accident, consider why an employee acted the way he or she did. Did their action make sense to them?

Examine how training or a lack of it might have played a role. Was communication adequate? How about procedures; were they clear? Is the employee or management taking ownership for the accident and committing to do something about it?

Once you’ve broken down various aspects of an accident, put corrective actions in place to avoid the incident in the future.  With the knowledge gained, communicate what happened and how it has been corrected to all so that a similar event can be prevented in the future.

Organizations cannot correct what they do not know.  Effective accident investigations programs encourage personnel to report all incidents, including first-aid only injuries, recordable injuries and even near accidents.  When the workforce embraces the importance of reporting, it has an opportunity to correct small problems before they become larger issues.

An Incident Report template can be found here.

WRA employs Rick Means as a Safety Specialist who is available to help members with safety plans and suggestions for safety meeting topics. Contact him at 360-943-9198, Ext. 18 orrick.means@retailassociationservices.com.

When lifting, take steps to protect your back

Safety tip of the week

Being physically fit and following safe lifting tips can help you avoid back injuries while on the job.

There are several rules to follow or questions to ask when asked to lift an object:

*Is there a tool that can ease a lift?

*Can the load be broken down into lighter lifts, or is it time to call for help?

*Stand close to the object to be lifted with your feet spread at shoulder width.

*Bend at the knees and keep your back straight before the lift. Do not bend at the waist.

*Tighten your abdominal muscles and use your arms and legs, not your back, to life and move an object.

*If you must turn with the weight, use your feet, not your back or hips to pivot your torso. Twisting at the waist can make a muscle strain or more serious back injury more likely.

*Apply the same physical techniques when setting an object down.

WRA Retro members can get additional information in the RASI Safety Library.

WRA employs Rick Means as a Safety Specialist who is available to members to help draw up safety plans and suggest topics for safety meetings. Contact him at 360-943-9198, Ext. 18 orrick.means@retailassociationservices.com.

Making your computer screen more readable

Safety tip of the week

Employees are spending more hours staring at computer screens. Over time, without taking breaks, various ailments can occur from overuse including dry eyes, eye strain or blurred vision, headaches, even shoulder, neck and back pains from poor posture.

As more mature workers are finding that they can lengthen their careers by working in retail, employers are well advised to consider making adjustments that may become necessary as seasoned employees adjust to physical changes, including weaker eyesight.

Some ideas that can help:

Changing older computer screens to larger flat screens. This will eliminate the flicker (screen refresh rate) of tube-style monitors.

  • Built-in software typically allows a user to adjust settings so that the monitor is easier to read. For Windows operating systems, this can be found in the Control Panel and will give you the ability to change contrast, brightness, text size, color and more.
  • Reducing screen glare by adjusting area lighting.  Consider installing an anti-glare filter on your monitor.
  • To give eyes a break, use the ” 20-20-20 rule.”  After 20 minutes of computer use, look at something 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds.

Though these techniques can help some maturing employees, they could apply to any employee who spends most of their time at work in front of a computer screen.

The RASI Safety Library has additional information on this topic.

For more information regarding the aging work force go here.

WRA employs Rick Means as a Safety Specialist. He’s available to members to help draw up safety plans and suggest topics for safety meetings. Contact him at 360-943-9198, Ext. 18 orrick.means@retailassociationservices.com.

Brush up on required workplace posters

Safety tip of the week

If you own a business, several state agencies require you to display free posters covering worker rights and safety in a visible workplace location.

Here’s a list of the posters from the appropriate agency here.

In the lower right hand corner of the poster there is a date stamp that will show how current it is.  Please compare this list to the ones you have posted.

12/2012 – Job Safety and Health Law

06/2013 – Your Rights as a Worker

12/2012 – Notice to Employees – If a Job Injury Occurs 

04/2012 – Unemployment Benefits Poster 

11/2009 – Equal Opportunity Employment 

07/2009 – Fair Labor Standards Act – (FLSA)

01/2012 – Employee Polygraph Protection Act

02/2013 – Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993

12/2014 – Washington State Minimum wage 

If you need posters quickly, you can print off the poster from the link.  Otherwise you can order them directly from the issuing agency.

If an L&I compliance officer were to stop by your business unannounced, posters would be one of the items that they would check as well as your Safety Meeting Log Book, Accident Prevention Program and Safety Data Sheets (for companies that work with chemicals).

WRA employs Rick Means as a Safety Specialist who is available to members to help draw up safety plans and suggest topics for safety meetings. Contact him at 360-200-6454, or rick.means@retailassociationservices.com

Companies should adopt cell phone use policies

Safety tip of the week

Estimates are that one in 10 drivers is somehow distracted while on the road whether it be from eating, reading, using navigation devices, passenger distraction or cell phone use.  For this reason, hand held cell phone use while driving is illegal in the State of Washington.

Accidents from these distractions can cause time loss of employees, increased insurance rates and leave company vehicles out of commission for extended periods.

If you have company delivery drivers, you need to explain the dangers of cell phone use while driving and that you are taking action by implementing policies that would prohibit both hands-free and handheld devices while operating a company vehicle.  Rick Means, WRA’s Safety Specialist, urges companies without cell phone use policies to put them together soon. The National Safety Council recommends that those policies apply to all company employees.

Employees should be instructed to make calls before leaving the parking lot or at rest stops, but not while they’re on the road.

The safety council has created a series of short videos that answer common questions about cell phone use and driving.  On RASI SAFETY TV, there is a playlist of these videos.  This would be a great topic at your next safety meeting. Rick suggests showing one at a time with discussions between each video.

WRA employs Rick Means to be available to members to help draw up safety plans and suggest topics for safety meetings. Contact him at 360-943-9198, Ext. 18 or rick.means@retailassociationservices.com

If you work at a desk, get up and move around

Safety tip of the week

If you work a desk job in front of a computer, you’re in danger of suffering from bad posture. There’s a tendency to assume a forward head position with rounded shoulders, which can lead to a decreased range of motion in the neck and shoulders.

To offset this tendency, it’s a good idea to move around during the workday.

Some ideas are:

  • Stand up during phone calls.
  • When you have a question for a colleague, get up and go to his or her desk instead of calling or emailing.
  • Set a reminder on your phone or calendar to get up at regular intervals during the day (some companies have installed software on employee computers that monitor your work and tell you when it it’s a time for a break).
  • Use the printer and restroom farthest from your work area when possible.

If leaving your desk at regular intervals isn’t an option, you can work on range of motion in both the neck and shoulders with a few simple movements. All these can be done while seated – and without making the person in the cubicle next to you wonder what you’re up to:

  • Jaw lifts: With eyes facing forward, tilt your head right leading with your jaw. Keep your eyes forward and don’t twist your neck at the same time. Alternate sides, taking care not to force the movement to pain or move too quickly.
  • Shoulder rolls: Sit tall in your chair with your feet flat on the floor. Shrug your shoulders and roll them back, feeling your shoulder blades drawn down as you do. You should feel your chest stretch as your shoulders pull back.
  • Side reaches: From your seated position, raise your right hand straight in the air. Turn your palm in toward the midline of your body and reach left, over your head. Hold for three to five seconds before returning to the starting position. Repeat with the left hand.

There are some great related videos on RASI SAFETYTV and Retro members have access to more in the Safety Library.

In a development related to last week’s tip on driving distractions, the Legislature is considering a bill to expand the ban on cell phone use while driving. While driving and texting with a non hands free device are illegal in the state, the bill (SB 5656) would expand prohibitions to include reading data and e-mailing on the phone.

WRA employs Rick Means as a Safety Specialist who is available to members to help draw up safety plans and suggest topics for safety meetings. Contact him at 360-943-9198, Ext. 18 or rick.means@retailassociationservices.com

 Portions of this article came from U.S. News & World Report 

Learn the use of fire extinguishers

Safety tip of the week

A fire extinguisher is relatively small but a very effective tool if a small fire were to happen in your workplace.  Employers also should post maps of extinguisher locations and exit routes.

The most common type is labeled A-B-C, which can be used on all types of fires and will work on combustible materials, electrical and flammable liquids.  You should check what your local code requirements are in regards to the number of extinguishers to have on hand as well as placement height.

If you are ever put in a situation to have to use a fire extinguisher, the P.A.S.S. system is an effective way remember what to do. P-pulling the pin. A-aim at the base of the fire.  S-squeeze the handle.  S-sweep side to side.  For a couple of short videos, click here.

Check with your local Fire Department, which may be willing to send someone to your workplace for a demonstration on using fire extinguishers. Please make sure you include this as part of your new-hire orientation.

WRA employs Rick Means as a Safety Specialist who is available to members to help draw up safety plans and suggest topics for safety meetings. Contact him at 360-943.9198 x18 or rick.means@retailassociationservices.com

Aging workers may need lighting adjustments

Safety tip of the week

The single largest missing ingredient in workplaces to assist aging workers is proper light and whether it is right for the task at hand. A lighting plan that uses more indirect rays, especially with computer use, creates a better working environment.

Using task-specific lighting is important.  This can be accomplished by using table and desk lamps with soft white lights (or filtered clear bulbs) to reduce glare.  Reducing glare contributes to comfort and helps to minimize falls.

Pools of light can distort perception of height and depth that could lead to stumbling or tripping.  Uneven brightness patterns can produce shadows or create the illusion of steps or edges where the light and shadow meet.  In those areas you should introduce gradual changes in light levels.

Each employee and job type needs to be assessed to best accommodate the situation.  The objective is to reduce the possibility of an accident.  Additional information can be found at RASI Safety TV.

Our Retro members also can find resources in the RASI Safety Library, Aging in the Workplace section.

Lighting modifications to adjust or install additional lighting often are simple and affordable. Such changes can help seasoned employees and those who are younger, as well.

WRA employs Rick Means as a Safety Specialist who is available to members to help draw up safety plans and suggest topics for safety meetings. Contact him at 360-943-9198, Ext. 18 orrick.means@retailassociationservices.com

Safety Articles

Safety tip of the week

Hands-Free Office Phone

As aging occurs, workers can lose flexibility in their neck, shoulders and upper back. Aging workers who use the telephone a lot at their desks might want to consider making a change.

Using a regular telephone handset with your shoulder hunched up and neck kinked over all day could over time can lead to muscle strains, headaches and soreness.

Using the hand set for quick intermittent calls is fine, but if you are on the phone a lot, an effective assist would be by using a ‘hands-free’ head set. This allows a worker to maintain proper posture while taking care of customers on the phone.

Headsets come in a variety of styles including wireless models. These headsets will also allow for volume adjustment when needed.  With this increase of comfort, employees can be more productive regardless of their age.

Rick Means, WRA Safety Specialist, is available to members to help draw up safety plans and suggest topics for safety meetings. Contact him at 360-943-9198 x18, or rick.means@retailassociationservices.com

Safety tip of the week

Understand falls to avoid them

It’s important to understand falling on the job to avoid having it happen to you. Often, an employee’s health and physical condition can contribute to a fall and possible injury.

There also are types of falls to understand. For example, slips and trips can cause falls. Typically, slipping involves insufficient friction on the bottom of your shoes, especially where your heel strikes the ground. This can result in a sliding motion and cause your center of gravity to become unsupported. This can cause you to lose balance and fall.

You can also fall by tripping over something you didn’t notice, such as an exposed cord on the floor.

Sometimes falls are affected by the health and physical condition impairing a person’s vision, judgment, and balance. This could be related to stress or illness, compromised eyesight, age, physical fatigue, or medications, alcohol or drugs.

Analyze your situation and ability by focusing on and watching what you are doing so that you are not distracted to avoid falling. There is more information on this topic for WRA members in the RASI Safety Library. Non-members can visit  RASI Safety TV  and look under Slip Trips Falls.

WRA employs Rick Means as a Safety Specialist who is available to members to help draw up safety plans and suggest topics for safety meetings. Contact him at 360-200-6454, or rick.means@retailassociationservices.com.

Safety tip of the week

Heat can be a hazard to workers

When a person works in a hot environment, the body must get rid of excess heat to maintain a stable internal temperature. It does this mainly through circulating blood to the skin and through sweating.

When the air temperature is close to or warmer than normal body temperature, cooling of the body becomes more difficult. Blood circulated to the skin cannot lose its heat.  Sweating then becomes the main way the body cools off.  But sweating is effective only if the humidity level is low enough to allow evaporation and if the fluids and salts that are lost are adequately replaced.

If the body cannot get rid of excess heat, it will store it. When this happens, the body’s core temperature rises and the heart rate increases. As the body continues to store heat, the person begins to lose concentration and has difficulty focusing on a task, may become irritable or sick, and often loses the desire to drink. The next stage is most often fainting and even death if the person is not cooled down.

Excessive exposure to heat can cause a range of heat-related illnesses, from heat rash and heat cramps to heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Heat stroke can result in death and requires immediate medical attention.

Exposure to heat can also increase the risk of injuries because of sweaty palms, fogged-up safety glasses, dizziness, and burns from hot surfaces or steam.

Workers exposed to hot indoor environments or hot and humid conditions outdoors are at risk of heat-related illness, especially those doing heavy work tasks or using bulky or non-breathable protective clothing and equipment. Some workers might be at greater risk than others if they have not built up a tolerance to hot conditions, or if they have certain health conditions.

There is additional information for WRA members in the RASI Safety Library.  There is more for the public at large on heat-related illnesses on RASI Safety TV.

WRA employs Rick Means as a Safety Specialist who is available to members to help draw up safety plans and suggest topics for safety meetings. Contact him at 360-943-9198, Ext. 18 or rick.means@retailassociationservices.com.

Safety tip of the week

Improve hearing in your shop or office

 Concerts, iPods, cell phones and very loud sporting events may all contribute to loss of hearing over time. It’s true for Baby Boomers, Gen-Xers and Millennials alike.

Natural hearing loss can start about age 40 regardless of other environmental factors.

When working with older employees, it’s possible they may not properly hear the instructions you just shouted across the room. Sometimes certain tones or frequency ranges ‘drop out’ and become inaudible. Ringing in the ears, a condition known as tinnitus, also can make it difficult to hear warning shouts or instructions in a noisy environment.  An unheard warning shout could result in an injury accident.

Some solutions:

  • Make sure that hearing protection is always worn when noise levels are consistently over 85db (WRA members can find a noise level chart here and there are noise apps for your smart phone here).
  • Try to reduce background noise levels as low as possible by shielding noisy equipment.
  • Provide important information visually.
  • Reduce echoing with improved acoustics.
  • Sirens or warning alarms should have alternating frequencies (think of a European police car siren).
  • Provide hands free telephone headsets with adjustable volume switches.
  • Speak clearly.

Technology can help us improve hearing somewhat, but hearing is something that we can’t get back completely once it deteriorates.

WRA employs Rick Means as a Safety Specialist who is available to members to help draw up safety plans and suggest topics for safety meetings. Contact him at 360-943-9198, Ext. 18 or rick.means@retailassociationservices.com

Safety tip of the week

Assign new employees an orientation buddy

Finding enough time to properly orientate your new employees can be a problem. In the first orientation there can be a lot to cover, including policies and paperwork, in a short period of time.

But there is a way to continue the process with orientation buddies.  Every new hire should have an orientation buddy to help him or her get off to a good, safe start. They can show your new workers the safety elements the company has built in including the location of the fire exits and extinguishers; first-aid kits; eyewash stations; chemical safety data sheets and equipment usage.  By imparting safety knowledge along the way, they are having a secondary effect by making the newcomer feel valued, which can lead to a more engaged and productive employee.

In order to carry out these important duties successfully, orientation buddies should:

  • Have been with your organization for at least a year.
  • Have a good performance history and a safe work record.
  • Be skilled in the new employee’s job.
  • Possess broad knowledge about your organization, your operations, and your safety programs.
  • Have the time to spend with the new employee and be willing to take on the assignment.
  • Be patient and communicate well.
  • Serve as a positive safety role model.

Building relationships through this type of mentoring is another way to ensure that new employees have the resources they need to succeed.  Seasoned employees can help new employees on the job and provide support.  New employees tend to be hesitant about asking questions for fear of appearing incompetent.

A company’s orientation program should include easy access to resources to reduce new employee frustration and to provide essential, effective safety training.

Washington Retail has an app that can help your young worker out with some safety basics that can be found here

Safety tip of the week

Orderliness can prevent accidents at work

As far as injuries go, the most critical part of workplace housekeeping is keeping items in order. Are tools strewn about, for example, or in their proper place?

Managers and employees should check regularly to ensure that aisleways are clear for employees and customers.

Some of the benefits of good housekeeping include:

  • Eliminating causes of accidents
  • Preventing wasted energy looking for lost items later on
  • Maintaining good use of available space
  • Reducing damage to goods
  • Encouraging better work habits
  • Reflecting an organized workplace and image

Companies should develop a strategy for good housekeeping. During the day, does your staff periodically stop and survey the floors and shelves to see if there are any hazards for staff or customers?  Make a habit of regularly looking over the store and housekeeping will be easier and prevent potential injuries.

Consider watching RASI SAFETY TV’s The Accident Cascade video that be shown to start a discussion during a safety meeting.

Rick Means, WRA’s Safety Specialist, is available to members to help draw up safety plans and suggest topics for safety meetings. Contact him at 360-943-9198 x18, or rick.means@retailassociationservices.com

Safety tip of the week

Have you seen SAFEME?

The Washington Retail Association is offering a free web-based and smartphone app to help employers get first-time and young employees off to a safer start in the working world. Many first-time employees get their careers going in retail.

SAFEME users can earn basic safety training certificates to augment required safety training from employers. The certificates demonstrate that an entry-level or young worker has a sound understanding of the potential hazards in many different workplaces and how to avoid them. While geared towards retail, the topics can apply to many industries. The lessons include videos and quizzes that demonstrate use of ladders, proper lifting, slips-trips-falls, box knife use and more.

The SAFEME app – on the web at www.wrasafeme.org, is available for Apple and Android phones through the app stores.  A two-minute video of how the app works can be seen here.

The app is courtesy of a grant from Labor & Industries’ Safety and Health Investment Projects. It is aimed particularly at workers aged 16 to 20 who often sustain workplace injuries due to lack of work experience and preparation.  Additional information and resources about this project can be found here.

SAFEME has been viewed/downloaded by hundreds of users in 41states and embraced by educators and businesses alike.

Safer employees reduce injuries and workers’ compensation claims. In Washington State, employers and employees contribute toward paying premiums for injury insurance.  As injuries drop, so do insurance costs.

WRA’s Rick Means is available to members to assist with L&I safety compliance, to help draw up safety plans and suggest topics for safety meetings. Contact him at 360-943-9198 x18, or rick.means@retailassociationservices.com.

Safety tip of the week

How to avoid retail-related work injuries

Overdoing it on the job is a typical reason for injuries in the retail industry. Muscle strains and sprains result from a variety of movements including lifting, bending and twisting at the waist, pushing and pulling boxes, carrying items and using poor posture.

Labor & Industries has specific data on retail injuries, which looks like this:

  • One out of every four injuries in retail is from overexertion.
  • The average cost per overexertion claim is a little over $11,500.
  • Overexertion claims represent about 37 percent of workers’ comp costs in retail.
  • Lifting causes about half the overexertion injuries. Carrying ranks second, followed closely by pushing and pulling.
  • Boxes were the most frequent source of injury. Automotive parts also were high on the list of sources of injury.
  • The back was clearly the most frequently injured part of the body. Shoulder injuries were a distant second.

To prevent overexertion:

  • Stretch and/or warm up before heavy lifting or strenuous activity
  • Use hand trucks and carts as much as possible
  • Lift with your legs bent and objects held close to your body
  • Avoid bending, overreaching and twisting when lifting
  • For unusual sized items, get help when lifting

Proper posture, body mechanics and ergonomics can lessen overexertion injuries.  Because it is important that the demands of the job match the capabilities of the worker, extra training may be required to perform a job safely.

Members can find additional information in the Safety Library in the Overexertion section.  RASI SafetyTV  also has some videos on this topic.

 WRA employs Rick Means as a Safety Specialist who is available to members to help draw up safety plans and suggest topics for safety meetings. Contact him at 360-943-9198, Ext. 18 or rick.means@retailassociationservices.com.

Safety tip of the week

Balance work and family needs before a natural disaster

Business owners need to brace for natural disasters to be able to recover quickly and remain in business.

But preparing for an earthquake or flood also requires preparations at home. Your business may not run well if a disaster has torn up your family life, or vice versa.

Personal preparedness goes hand in hand with business continuity plans for business owners.

RASI SAFETY TV has some great videos on how to prepare.  Our Retro members can access even more information in the Safety Library in the Emergency Preparedness section.  Please take some time to review your current personal plan and update it as needed.

A personal preparedness plan resembles a business recovery plan:

  • Mitigate: What can you do to make your personal environment safer?
  • Communicate: How will you communicate with loved ones? Do you have an outside-the-area contact set up?
  • Prepare: What are the supplies you need and where will you store them?
  • Don’t forget to arrange for those with special needs in your family; seniors, infants/children and pets.

WRA employs Rick Means as a Safety Specialist who is available to members to help draw up safety plans and suggest topics for safety meetings. Contact him at 360-943.9198 x18, or rick.means@retailassociationservices.com.

Safety tip of the week:

Aging workers may need lighting adjustments

The single largest missing ingredient in workplaces to assist aging workers is proper light and whether it is right for the task at hand. A lighting plan that uses more indirect rays, especially with computer use, creates a better working environment.

Using task-specific lighting is important.  This can be accomplished by using table and desk lamps with soft white lights (or filtered clear bulbs) to reduce glare.  Reducing glare contributes to workstation comfort and in the work area will help to minimize falls.

Pools of light can distort perception of height and depth that could lead to stumbling or tripping.  Uneven brightness patterns can produce shadows or create the illusion of steps or edges where the light and shadow meet.  In those areas, you should introduce gradual changes in light levels.

Each employee and job type needs to be assessed to best accommodate the situation.  The objective is to reduce the possibility of an accident.  Additional information can be found at RASI Safety TV.

Our Retro members also can find resources in the RASI Safety Library, in the Aging in the Workplace section.

Lighting modifications to adjust or install additional lighting often are simple and affordable. Such changes can help seasoned employees and those who are younger, as well.

WRA employs Rick Means as a Safety Specialist who is available to members to help draw up safety plans and suggest topics for safety meetings. Contact him at 360-943-9198, Ext. 18 or rick.means@retailassociationservices.com.

Safety tip of the week:

Get familiar with fire extinguishers

Don’t forget to make sure your fire extinguishers are working and accessible in case of a fire. It’s also a good idea to post a map of extinguisher locations and exit routes from your workplace.

The most common A-B-C extinguisher can be used on all types of fires. It will work on combustible materials, electrical and flammable liquids.  You should check on what your local code requirements are regarding how many extinguishers you need and the recommended height to mount them on walls.

When using an extinguisher to fight a small fire, try to remember the PASS system. It’s an acronym for how to use an extinguisher:

  • P means pull the pin
  • A is for aim at the base of the fire.
  • S is for squeeze the handle.
  • S is for sweeping the contents in a side to side motion.

Check with your local fire department about visiting your office or plant to provide a live demonstration on use of an extinguisher. Such a demonstration should be part of a new hire orientation.

WRA employs Rick Means as a Safety Specialist who is available to members to help draw up safety plans and suggest topics for safety meetings. Contact him at 360-943.9198 x18 or rick.means@retailassociationservices.com.

Safety tip of the week

Exercises for those in desk jobs

With the constant use of technology, our sedentary desk jobs are pulling us forward – but not in a good way.  We have a tendency to assume a forward head position and to round our shoulders.  You also develop a decreased range of motion in the neck and shoulders.

You can help offset these conditions by trying to move as much as possible during the day.  Some ideas include:

Standing during phone calls.

  • When you have a question for a colleague, get up and go to his or her desk instead of calling or emailing.
  • Set a reminder on your phone or calendar to get up at regular intervals during the day (some companies have installed software on employee computers that monitor your work and tell you when it it’s a time for a break).
  • Use the printer and restroom farthest from your work area when possible.

If leaving your desk at regular intervals isn’t an option, you can work on range of motion in both the neck and shoulders with a few simple movements. All these can be done while seated.

These exercises include:

  • Jaw lifts: With eyes facing forward, tilt your head right leading with your jaw. Keep your eyes forward and don’t twist your neck at the same time. Alternate sides, taking care not to force the movement to pain or move too quickly.
  • Shoulder rolls: Sit tall in your chair with your feet flat on the floor. Shrug your shoulders and roll them back, feeling your shoulder blades drawn down as you do. You should feel your chest stretch as your shoulders pull back.
  • Side reaches: From your seated position, raise your right hand straight in the air. Turn your palm in toward the midline of your body and reach left, over your head. Hold for three to five seconds before returning to the starting position. Repeat with the left hand.

For videos about this, go to RASI SAFETYTV and members have access to more in the Safety Library.

WRA employs Rick Means as a Safety Specialist who is available to members to help draw up safety plans and suggest topics for safety meetings. Contact him at 360-943-9198, Ext. 18 or rick.means@retailassociationservices.com

(Portions of this article came from U.S. News & World Report)

Safety tip of the week

Companies should adopt cell phone use policies

 Estimates are that one in 10 drivers is somehow distracted while on the road whether it be from eating, reading, using navigation devices, passenger distraction or cell phone use.  For this reason, hand-held cell phone use or texting while driving is illegal in the State of Washington.

Accidents from these distractions can cause time loss for employees, increased insurance rates and leave company vehicles out of commission for extended periods.

If you have company delivery drivers, you need to explain the dangers of cell phone use while driving and that you are taking action by implementing policies that would prohibit handheld devices while operating a company vehicle.  Rick Means, WRA’s Safety Specialist, urges companies without cell phone use policies to put them together soon. The National Safety Council (NSC) recommends that those policies apply to all company employees.

Employees should be instructed to make calls before leaving the parking lot or at rest stops, but not while they’re on the road.

Two bills under consideration this legislative session would amend the state’s driving-with-electronics laws to further limit their use. The pending bills would ban drivers from using any electronic device with more than one finger and prohibit holding a cell phone to your ear while driving. This would include a ban on holding a phone to scroll for social media feeds, taking a photo or sending an e-mail.

The NSC has created a series of short videos that answer common questions about cell phone use and driving.  On RASI SAFETY TV, there is a playlist of these videos.  This would be a great topic at your next safety meeting. Rick suggests showing a few with discussions between each video.

WRA employs Rick to be available to members to help draw up safety plans and suggest topics for safety meetings. Contact him at 360-943-9198, Ext. 18 or rick.means@retailassociationservices.com.

Safety tip of the week

Required employee workplace posters

 There are several agencies that require you to display posters at work. The agencies make them available for free.

These posters are for employees and cover subjects including safety, employment rights and benefits.

Look in the lower right-hand corner of workplace posters to find a date stamp that shows whether they are current. Retail Association Services has gathered the complete list of posters that should be on display, with links to further information and the dates the poster were issued.

Click here to learn more including how to obtain the posters.

It’s best not to delay if you’re not current. When Labor & Industries compliance officers come calling, they’ll check to see whether required posters are on display. Violations can be accompanied with fines. Click here for more on this requirement.

WRA employs Rick Means as a Safety Specialist who is available to members to help draw up safety plans and suggest topics for safety meetings. Contact him at 360-200-6454, or rick.means@retailassociationservices.com

Safety tip of the week:

Computer screen adjustments for older workers

Mature workers wishing to remain on the job rather than retire are gravitating to retail for employment opportunities. As workers age, they can maintain productivity by considering minor adjustments to office equipment.

Adjustments to computer screens, for example, might make good sense.

Over time, vision may weaken. Here are a few ideas that might be appropriate.

  • Change the computer screen to a larger flat screen.  This will eliminate the flicker (screen refresh rate) of the tube style monitors.  This gives the user a larger ‘surface’ to view.
  • There are ‘ease of access features’ built right into the existing software you already have.  For Windows, it can be found in the Control Panel and will give you the ability to change contrast, brightness, text size, color temperature and more.  A browser’s font size is easy to adjust as well.
  • Reduce screen glare by adjusting screen or area lighting.  Consider installing an anti-glare filter on your monitor.
  • Use the 20-20-20 rule.  After 20 minutes of computer use, look at something 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds.

Each person is different so you will need to evaluate both the person and the work they perform.  Actually, this kind of evaluation could help all of your employees regardless of their age.

These are just a few tips. The RASI Safety Library for WRA members has additional information on this topic.

WRA employs Rick Means as a Safety Specialist. He’s available to members to help draw up safety plans and suggest topics for safety meetings. Contact him at 360-943-9198, Ext. 18 or rick.means@retailassociationservices.com

Safety tip of the week

Thorough accident reviews can improve safety

How you respond to a workplace accident can improve safety.

Always take a closer look to learn what caused an accident and how it can be avoided next time. The key is to peel back the layers of every step an employee took to determine what led to the accident.

After an accident, ask:

  • If the action made sense to the employee.
  • If a lack of training led to a mistake.
  • If a lack of communication played a role in the accident.
  • If a lack of planning contributed.
  • If there were procedures in place to ensure safety.
  • If an employee took ownership of the incident.
  • If management took ownership of the incident.

Once you understand how the accident happened, put corrective actions in place to keep it from happening again.  Let all employees know about any corrective steps taken and the reasons for them.

Encourage employees to report all incidents, including first-aid-only injuries, recordable injuries and “almost” injuries. When a workforce embraces the importance of reporting, it can correct small problems before they become larger issues.

An Incident Report template can be found here.

WRA employs Rick Means as a Safety Specialist who is available to help members with safety plans and suggestions for safety meeting topics. Contact him at 360-943-9198, Ext. 18 or rick.means@retailassociationservices.com.

Safety tip of the week

Regular meetings raise safety awareness

Employees may occasionally grumble about regular safety meetings, but they are valuable for several reasons.

Consider:

  • They show that management is serious about safety, not just giving it lip service.
  • They get employees involved in the safety process by increasing the number of eyes and brains engaged in safety.
  • Employees develop a sense of “ownership” in the safety efforts.  It also gives ‘early warning’ of unsafe conditions. Those employees made more aware of potential hazards may be more likely to work more carefully.
  • Some insurance companies may offer discounts if you conduct regular safety meetings and can prove it with documentation. Check with your insurance company about such possible discounts.

Take ten minutes and discuss the proper use of a tool or a proper way to use a ladder or any piece of equipment that your operation uses. Remember to log your topic and attendees in your safety binder, so if you are ever audited by Labor & Industries, you can show that you are actively promoting safety in the workplace.

Our Retro members receive safety packets each month, which are available here.  Another tool is RASI SafetyTV, which contains a variety of video topics to assist with your safety meeting.

Remember that taking shortcuts on the job can lead to accidents and injuries. Please add safety in some way to your regular store meetings.

WRA employs Safety Specialist Rick Means who is available to members to help draw up safety plans and suggest topics for safety meetings. Contact him at 360-943-9198 x18, or rick.means@retailassociationservices.com.

Safety tip of the week

Don’t walk on by

As you head home at the end of the work day, you see a spill on the floor.  Do you just walk on by? You could be heading to the stock room and notice that someone left an extension cord lying on the floor. Would you just walk on by?

Sometimes, poor housekeeping can cause a workplace injury.

If you see a potential hazard in your workplace, point it out or take care of it before it becomes an accident.  Work-related illness and injury are responsible for an astonishing 27 million lost working days each year, not to mention the accompanying pain and suffering these incidents cause. For every major injury there are approximately 300 close calls. Many accidents can be prevented with good housekeeping.

There are some good videos about this on RASI SAFETYTV.

It takes an effort to keep your shop safe so please encourage everyone not to just walk on by.

WRA employs Rick Means as a Safety Specialist who is available to members to help draw up safety plans and suggest topics for safety meetings. Contact him at 360-943-9198, Ext. 18, or mailto:rick.means@retailassociationservices.com.

Safety tip of the week

Use care around electrical equipment

Improperly using electrical equipment can create very serious hazards for workers.  Special safety features built into equipment often are rendered ineffective when equipment is manipulated or misused. This can harm workers and damage the equipment.

OSHA offers the following tips about common types of equipment misuse:

  • Do not fabricate extension cords with Romex wire.
  • Replace all cords or tools with worn insulation or exposed wires.
  • Never modify cords or tools by removing ground prongs, face plates or insulation.
  • Ensure equipment labeled for dry, indoor use is never used outside or in damp conditions.
  • Do not attach an ungrounded, two-prong adaptor plug to three-prong cords and tools.
  • Do not misuse multi-receptacle boxes designed to be mounted by fitting them with a power cord and placing them on the floor.
  • Refrain from using circuit breakers or fuses with the wrong rating for over-current protection (i.e., using a 30-amp breaker with a 15- or 20-amp receptacle). Protection will be lost because it will not trip when the system’s load has been exceeded.
  • To ensure worker safety, only use equipment that is approved to meet all OSHA standards, and use it in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Limit the use of extension cords where possible.
  • You can find some short electrical safety videos on RASI SAFETYTV. Click here and here for more on avoiding other electrical mishaps.

WRA employs Rick Means as a Safety Specialist who is available to members to help draw up safety plans and suggest topics for safety meetings. Contact him at 360-943-9198, x18 or rick.means@retailassociationservices.com.

Safety tip of the week:

Earthquake drill in two weeks

 More than 800,000 participants statewide are expected to practice earthquake survival skills during the 2016 Great Washington ShakeOut the morning of Oct. 20.

Millions of people worldwide will practice how to “drop, cover and hold on” at 10:20 a.m. on that day in a worldwide earthquake drill simulation. Organizers have begun conducting the drill annually to raise awareness and improve preparations for earthquakes.

Click here to register your company for the drill. Click here for a step-by-step guide on how to prepare your company and employees for the earthquake drill. Click here to review recent seismic activity in the Northwest.

WRA urges members to register and participate in the drill. Analysis of disasters shows that companies can increase their odds of surviving an earthquake through better preparation regarding safety steps that can be taken.

The state Emergency Management Division is offering several useful computer links for additional information.

Rick Means, WRA’s Safety Specialist, will be reviewing the drills with the office staff. WRA will be participating in the event this year.

More preparedness links can be found on RASI Safety TV  or in the RASI Safety Library.

Rick is available to members to help draw up safety plans and suggest topics for safety meetings. Contact him at 360-943-9198, x18 or rick.means@retailassociationservices.com.

Safety tip of the week:

Write a disaster recovery plan

 How quickly can your business rebound from an emergency?

Disaster recovery and business continuity planning are processes that help organizations prepare for disruptive events-whether they’re IT system crashes, natural disasters, supply chain problems, severe weather or simply a power outage caused by a backhoe in the parking lot.  Good business continuity plans can keep your company up and running through interruptions of any kind.

Plans need to encompass how employees will communicate, where they will go and how they will keep doing their jobs. The details can vary greatly, depending on the size and scope of your company and the way it does business.  For some, power outages are most crucial. For others it could be data recovery, which can be as easy as taking home portable drives for a low-cost way to do offsite backup.

Following a significant disaster, forty percent of businesses do not reopen and another 25 percent fail within one year, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).  Similar statistics from the Small Business Administration indicate that over 90 percent of businesses fail within two years after being struck by a disaster.

Don’t wait until a disaster happens. Start now to research options on how you would react and recover.

Here are some a great links to get you started:

WRA employs Rick Means as a Safety Specialist who is available to members to help draw up safety plans and suggest topics for safety meetings. Contact him at 360-943-9198, x18 or rick.means@retailassociationservices.com.

Safety Tip of the Week

Are you ready for a fire?

 With fall approaching, it’s a good time to make sure employees are aware of fire hazards in the workplace and what to do in case of an emergency.

Here are a few questions to ask:

  • Are fire alarms, extinguishers and smoke detectors working?
  • Are there enough fire-fighting tools?
  • Are emergency exit doors free from blockage and operating correctly?
  • Have you ever performed a fire drill exercise?  Also take a look at heating systems and electrical equipment for proper functionality.

Other housekeeping should include:

  • Are exit plans posted in several locations?
  • Make sure that merchandise is not stacked so high that it blocks sprinkler heads (18″ space required).
  • Are new employees trained how to use a fire extinguisher and on what to do if fire was to happen?
  • If you do experience a fire, do you have a contingency plan of how to get back up and running as soon as possible?

Here are more links for fire safety tips:

WRA employs Rick Means as a Safety Specialist who is available to members to help draw up safety plans and suggest topics for safety meetings. Contact him at 360-943-9198, x18 or rick.means@retailassociationservices.com.

Safety Tip of the Week

Be more careful on ladders

Every year, many workers in Washington State are seriously injured falling off ladders. These injuries include dislocated limbs, broken bones, head injuries and in a few cases some workers die from their injuries. These accidents occur because:

  • The ladder moves, falls over, or is set up improperly.
  • The worker slips on the rungs, overreaches, or carries objects while climbing the ladder.
  • The worker stands on the top cap of the ladder.
  • The ladder being used is not in good condition.

Most of these mishaps happen from less than 10 feet high.

This information tells us that ladder users, whether at work or home, are not taking appropriate safety precautions and that ladders are such a common tool, people don’t associate them with injuries.

Most often a ladder involved in an accident is not suitable for the task; is too short, not properly set up, or is not in good condition.  There are many types of ladders and you need to use the best one for the job that you are trying to safely accomplish.

Remember total weight needs to be factored in; your weight, tools, and materials.  Businesses need to use Type II or better ladders (Type III is light duty).  Please review your ladder types and use at your next safety meeting. More information  can be found at RASI SAFETY TV or RASI Safety Library – in the ladders section.

WRA employs Rick Means as a Safety Specialist who is available to members to help draw up safety plans and suggest topics for safety meetings. Contact him at 360-943-9198, x18 or rick.means@retailassociationservices.com

Safety tip of the week

Keep cool on the job as temperatures rise

 When a person works in a hot environment, the body gets rid of excess heat to maintain a stable internal temperature. It does this mainly through circulating blood to the skin and through sweating.

When the air temperature is close to or warmer than normal body temperature, cooling of the body becomes more difficult. Blood circulated to the skin cannot lose its heat.  Sweating then becomes the main way the body cools off.  But sweating is effective only if the humidity is low enough to allow evaporation and if the fluids and salts that are lost are adequately replaced.

If the body cannot get rid of excess heat, it will store it. When this happens, the body’s core temperature rises and the heart rate increases. As the body continues to store heat, the person begins to lose concentration and has difficulty focusing on a task, may become irritable or sick, and often loses the desire to drink. The next stage is most often fainting and even death if the person is not cooled down.

The website of the Occupation Safety and Health Administration lists various heat-related symptoms and how to respond.  Excessive exposure to heat can cause a range of heat-related illnesses, from heat rash and heat cramps to heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Heat stroke can result in death and requires immediate medical attention.

Exposure to heat can also increase the risk of injuries because of sweaty palms, fogged-up safety glasses, dizziness, and burns from hot surfaces or steam.

Workers exposed to hot indoor environments or hot and humid conditions outdoors are at risk of heat-related illness, especially those doing heavy work tasks or using bulky or non-breathable protective clothing and equipment. Some workers might be at greater risk than others if they have not built up a tolerance to hot conditions, or if they have certain health conditions.

WRA employs Rick Means as a Safety Specialist to identify safety topics or help WRA members with organizing regular safety meetings. Contact him at 360-943-9198,  Ext. 18 or at rick.means@retailassociation.org.

Safety tip of the week:

Being safe includes eye protection

Any good safety inspection should include making sure your workplace has no eye hazards.

Eye injuries are among the most common in workplaces and also some of the easiest to avoid.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) explains how people injure their eyes at work:

  • Not wearing any protection. Three of five people who hurt their eyes at work are not wearing protection.
  • Wearing the wrong protection. About 40 percent of workers who injure their eyes are not wearing eyeglasses side shields, although some injuries still can occur when full-cup and flat-fold side shields are worn. Tight-fitting goggles offer the most complete protection and should be worn near liquid chemical hazards.
  • From flying particles. As estimated 60 percent of dangerous particles are smaller than a pin head, according to BLS. Other eye injury sources include contact with chemicals or objects swinging from a fixed or attached position.

WRA can help prevent eye injuries. There’s a help video on RASI SAFETY TV. Labor & Industries also offers a training kit for eye safety.

Protective gear is fairly inexpensive and newer designs are a lot more comfortable with better protection than in years past.

WRA’s Safety Specialist Rick Means is available to members to help draw up safety plans and suggest topics for safety meetings. Contact him at 360-943-9198 x18, or rick.means@retailassociationservices.com.

Safety Tip Of The Week

Safety tip of the week:

Avoid shortcuts to avoid accidents

 Workplace injuries often occur when employees feel they must rush through a job.

A driver hurrying to a delivery might lose focus and get into an accident. A hurrying office employee might not notice an electrical cord in their path and trip and fall. Or a rushing warehouse worker might forget the best way to lift a heavy load and injure their back.

“Most of the time, the shortcut is because somebody has the perception that they’re in a hurry for something,” said Timothy C. Healey, director of safety at the Hartford Steam Boiler Inspection & Insurance Co. in Hartford, CT. “What’s interesting to me is what’s driving them to feel that they need to be in a hurry.”

He offered several possible explanations – a personal priority on working fast, job insecurity, the proverbial “time is money” attitude, too few workers to complete the task, or changes in the organization or job roles. Whatever the reason, when the need to work fast outranks the need to work safe, mishaps can occur.

 Managers should remind employees how short cuts can lead to accidents and injuries. RASI SafetyTV and Library includes an archive of videos on this topic and others that can serve as discussion starters at your next safety meeting.

WRA employs Rick Means as a Safety Specialist who is available to members to help draw up safety plans and suggest topics for safety meetings. Contact him at 360-943-9198 x18, or rick.means@retailassociationservices.com.

Safety tip of the week:

Ideas to improve safety meetings

Washington Labor & Industries requires that every company has safety meetingson a regular basis, even if you only have one employee.

As a WRA member, you have access to the RASI SafetyTV channel, where you can instantly stream safety videos useful for your safety meetings and for new employee training.  We have assembled the videos in ‘playlist’ groups such as lifting and back safety, distracted driving, ladders, and more.  You can watch the whole playlist group or can select an individual one to watch.

The videos are great supplements to help you with your safety meetings.  It’s like Netflix without the monthly fees.

RASI Members also have access to the RASI Safety Library, where you’ll find  PowerPoint presentations, handouts and other information on safety topics.

If you need help, give Safety Specialist Rick Means a call at 360-943-9198, Ext. 18.

WRA employs Rick to be available to help draw up safety plans and suggest topics for safety meetings. Contact him at 360-943-9198 x18, or rick.means@retailassociationservices.com.

Safety topic of the week:

If you need one, update your hazard communication plan

Any company that handles dangerous chemicals should have a hazard communication plan as part of its accident prevention program.

A hazard communication plan applies if you:

⦁              Have employees with potential for exposure to hazardous chemicals at work.

⦁              Distribute hazardous chemicals to employers.

⦁              Manufacture (produce) or import hazardous chemicals.

These rules are to make sure employers know the dangers of the chemicals they use and so employees know how to work with them. Make sure your rules are appropriate for your work place.

Labor & Industries allows electronic versions instead of printed material in binders. Either way, the documents must be accessible to all employees. Check with your suppliers to make sure you have the latest disc(s) on hand. Discs also can back up your internet access if it gets interrupted.

You can find a general hazardous communications template in the RASI Safety Library, on the left side ‘Forms’ section. This can be modified to fit your company needs and processes. Rick Means, WRA’s Safety Specialist, is available to help you with this or with any questions you may have.

WRA employs Rick to be available to members to help draw up safety plans and suggest topics for safety meetings. Contact him at 360-200-6454, or rick.means@retailassociationservices.com.

Safety Tip of the week

Summer hiring: teens require different safety rules

As the summer hiring season for teens nears, it’s important for employers to understand how the safety rules change for teens.

 

Put simply, the law requires employers to treat teens differently from adults. Though the number of differences may seem overwhelming, Labor & Industries has summarized them all on its website.

 

Generally, teens as young as 14 qualify for a job, but their acceptable duties vary by age. Fourteen and 15 year olds are limited to light duties and relax somewhat for 16 and 17-year olds. Still, there is a very specific list of exceptions that limit the on-the-job tasks that teens are legally permitted to perform. Failure to comply could raise serious liability concerns for an employer.

 

For example:

  • Minors under 18 can’t operate meat slicers, a forklift or work at a height greater than 10 feet.
  • They can’t work in a freezer or work alone past 8 p.m. without supervision.
  • Teens can’t repair roofs, sell candy or flowers on a public roadway or work in a sauna or massage parlor.
  • Teens under 16 can’t drive a car, cook, load or unload a truck, use a ladder or sell house-to-house.

Acceptable hours also vary by age. For example, 16 and 17-year olds can work up to 48 hours a week during non-school weeks, but only up to 20 hours during school weeks. Sixteen and 17-year olds can work to midnight on non-school weeks, but only until 10 p.m. on weeknights during the school year. For younger teens, the mandatory quitting times are earlier.

 

More information can be found in the RASI Safety Library

Rick is available to members to help draw up safety plans and suggest topics for safety meetings. Contact him at 360-943-9198 x18, or rick.means@retailassociationservices.com.

Safety tip of the week: Cell phone use policy is a good idea

If your company does not have a cell phone use policy, it would be a good idea to write one.

Our state law prohibits driving with a hand-held phone. It helps reduce the number of distractions already present on highways for reasons such as eating, reading, working a navigation system or talking with a passenger.
Accidents caused by distractions cause time loss of employees, increase insurance rates and put company vehicles out of commission. If you have delivery drivers, you need to explain the dangers of driving with a cell phone and take action by implementing policies that would prohibit both hands-free and handheld devices to prevent cell phone distracted driving. Though hands-free devices are safer, it’s still possible that a phone conversation can cause distractions while driving.
The National Safety Council recommends that cell phone policies apply to allcompany employees.  Employees should make calls before they leave the parking lot or at rest stops.
The safety council has created a series of short videos that answer common questions about cell phone use and driving.  On RASI SAFETY TV, there is a playlist of these videos.  Consider showing a series of the videos with short discussions between the showings. The RASI Library also has a PowerPoint and handouts for discussion at safety meetings.
WRA employs Rick Means as a Safety Specialist who is available to members to help draw up safety plans and suggest topics for safety meetings. Contact him at 360-943-9198, Ext. 18 or rick.means@retailassociationservices.com 

Safety tip of the week: New chemical safety procedures take effect on June 1

A couple of important new chemical-related safety procedures are coming into effect on June 1.

A new format for safety data sheets and product labeling of hazardous chemicals goes into effect June 1 of this year for all industries. Also, companies required to use the National Fire Protection Association rating system must reverse number designations for dangerous chemicals.

As of June 1, the number 1 will designate the most potentially hazardous chemicals in descending order of danger to number 5. The current numerical rating system is the opposite, with category 5 being the most dangerous.

These procedural changes are important not only to promote clear worldwide communications among companies that use hazardous chemicals. Washington State violators are subject to fines by inspectors of the state Labor & Industries department.

The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration began phasing in the changes two years ago so that chemical users and manufacturers worldwide would be using the same labels and symbols to designate the proper handling of hazardous chemicals. These chemicals are used in a range of industries including janitorial, paint, beauty salons and automotive service centers.

The RASI Safety Library and RASI SafetyTV have more information on this topic.

These changes have been added to L&I’s list of requirements during safety inspections. Any questions should go to Rick Means, WRA’s Safety Specialist, at 360-943-9198, Ext. 18 or rick.means@retailassociationservices.com.

Rick is available to members to help draw up safety plans and suggest topics for safety meetings.

Safety tip of the week: Watch our videos to customize your workspace

Within your company’s capabilities, it’s important to make the workspaces of employees as safe and comfortable as possible.

If not, fatigue can set in and lead to injury and lost productivity.
We’re talking about designing equipment that is easy to use and arranging workspaces to fit the comfort requirements of employees, wherever possible.
Issues involving poor workspace design can come back to haunt employees and companies. Some basic considerations include:
  • Is an employee right or left handed? This determines the best location for a phone and where to locate space for writing.
  • Placing the most commonly used items on a desk or bench closer to the employee than decorations or family photos.
  • Lining your eyes with the top of a computer monitor and not sitting too close to the screen. Another consideration should be screen focus and sharpness to avoid eye strain or adjusting glasses to prevent squinting.
  • Considering an adjustable table that will allow employees to also stand at their desks part of the day, or vice versa.
To help, WRA has assembled a few presentations you can watch on your computer to learn more.
The first is on work station layout.  It is important to work with each individual to find what works best for them.  Videos also are available at RASI SAFETY TV.
Rick Means, WRA’s Safety Advisors, urges employers to be proactive so that employees can be as comfortable as possible where they work. This can help avoid injury and improve productivity.

Safety tip of the week: Align mouse, keyboard to avoid wrist stress

Align mouse, keyboard to avoid wrist stress

If you work a lot at a computer, it’s important to pay attention to how you use your keyboard and mouse.

Put simply, the keyboard and mouse should be situated at elbow level, not above or below. Otherwise, the repetitive motion from typing can cause wrist stress.

In last week’s installment, we learned that good office chairs can be adjusted for height to promote good posture and avoid back pain or strain. Likewise, you should adjust the height of your keyboard and mouse while typing.

By aligning at elbow level, your wrist and elbow will work in a more natural alignment. Carpel tunnel pain happens when a keyboard is in an upward or downward level, causing you to put pressure on your wrists.

The keyboard that came with your computer may not be the best one for you. There are several aftermarket options available that you may find more comfortable.

There also are alternatives to the traditional mouse such as a track ball that allows your fingers to do the work and relieves use of your elbow and shoulders to move the cursor on your screen. You can even reset your existing mouse to be used with your opposite hand.

Here is a link to a great interactive presentation on proper mouse/keyboard use.  It is important to work with each employee to find what works best for them.

Next week’s article will address workspace layout.

Rick Means, WRA’s Safety Specialist,  is available to members to help draw up safety plans and suggest topics for safety meetings. Contact him at 360-943-9198 x18, or rick.means@retailassociationservices.com.

Safety tip of the week: “Use an office chair that promotes good posture”

Use an office chair that promotes good posture

 Because you may sit in an office chair all day, you may think that you are not putting any pressure on your back, but you are.  The only two better options for your back are to stand or lie down.

Your goal should be to use a chair that will give you support as well as comfortable posture.  So, starting from top to bottom;

Make sure your head is level and facing straight ahead.

  • Your shoulders should be relaxed and in line with your hips.
  • Keep your forearms level and your wrists straight.
  • Elbows should be at your sides.
  • Make sure your lower back has lumbar support.
  • Keep you knees level and lower than your hips.
  • Make sure your feet are supported and not dangling.

You chair should be adjustable in enough ways to achieve comfortable posture compared to the requirements listed above.

Here is a link to a great interactive presentation on proper chair adjustment.  It is important to work with each individual to find what works best for them.

Be proactive, as using a poorly supportive chair and incorrect posture now could lead to problems in the future.  Start checking with your employees today, evaluating their chairs as well as their posture and review the best way to be sitting at their workstation.

We will cover other aspects of office ergonomics in future newsletters, so be on the lookout.

Rick Means, WRA’s Safety Specialist,  is available to WRA members to help draw up safety plans and suggest topics for safety meetings. Contact him at 360-943-9198 x18, or rick.means@retailassociationservices.com

Safety tip of the week:

Update your safety inspection at least once a year

Any business that’s committed to eliminating hazards should perform an annual safety inspection of the property.

Such a list of potential safety issues also gives management a baseline against which to make periodic checks to ensure that issues are addressed.

A business might wonder what sorts of matters should be reviewed in a safety inspection.  The Retail Association Services Safety Library includes a thorough sample check list that businesses can modify to suit their specific needs.

It include removing obstacles in aisles, checking wiring, removing loose mats that could cause someone to trip and fall and keeping combustibles a safe distance from heating equipment. The checklist is far more detailed than these examples, but we cite examples to show that a checklist does not have to be technical or complicated. There’s plenty of room for common sense and simplicity.

As you walk through your facility, take adequate time and be thorough, making detailed examination of all items that appear on your inspection checklist.  Many hazards can be corrected during the walk-through.  Some items on your checklist may involve action items by having additional employee training on equipment and tools.

The product of your walk-through should be a record of items that did not meet safety standards and defects that need to be corrected.  Record your findings on your checklist, then make a separate list of action items.

WRA employs Rick Means as a Safety Specialist who is available to members to help draw up safety plans and suggest topics for safety meetings. Contact him at 360-943-9198, Ext. 18 orrick.means@retailassociationservices.com.

Workplace Violence Prevention

February 18th, 10:00AM to 11:00AM (PST) – 60 minutes

Presented by: Carol Tresca, HR Specialist – City of Yakima

 Webinar Description: This webinar is designed to provide participants with an overview of the recommended components in a solid Workplace Violence Prevention program, and ways to reduce or eliminate the negative impacts associated with potential or actual violence in the workplace. What you’ll learn:

  • This course is designed to help participants recognize common warning signs of violent behavior and understand the steps that can be taken to prevent or effectively respond to workplace violence.
  • We will cover prevention strategies, including de-escalation techniques, personal safety, security, employee training/education, and support services.
  • We will provide information on helpful resources for your use in developing or improving your workplace violence prevention program.

About the Presenter: Carol has over 35 years of experience in employment law and human resources, in both public and private sectors.  Her experience includes over ten years as an investigator and mediator of workplace disputes, as well as many years as an Employee Relations Specialist. Carol is currently employed by the City of Yakima, where her duties include coordinating the City’s workers compensation claim process, safety, and the administration of FMLA and other leaves of absence. She has previously worked in the healthcare industry as a Human Resources Consultant, and in local government as a Human Relations Specialist.

Register now

Safety tip of the week

Is your phone ICED up?

Adding ICE (“In Case of Emergency”) to your phone is a quick way emergency personnel can locate your next of kin when something goes wrong. Bob Brotchie, a British paramedic, developed this idea because he recognized the need for speed when emergency personnel are trying to locate next of kin during disaster situations.

Here’s how you do it:

  • Open your cell phone’s address book.
  • Program ICE – “In Case of Emergency” – with the name of your emergency contact into your speed dial.  Putting a dash in front will stack those numbers at the top of your contact list.  For example: – ICE Bob, or -ICE Mom.
  • Alert family members that you have done this and encourage them to do so as well. This will help speed up responses from emergency personnel when they have to decide who to call in case you are injured.

If your phone is set in ‘locked’ mode, an ICED app will allow it to still work.  The RASI Safety website has ICED appsor you can check with your operating system’s apps store where you can usually find one for free.

Rick Means is WRA’s Safety Specialist.  He’s available to help members with safety plans and suggestions for safety meeting topics. Contact him at 360-943-9198, Ext. 18 or rick.means@retailassociationservices.com.

OSHA injury reporting period starts next week

Safety tip of the week

OSHA injury reporting period starts next week

An Occupational Safety & Health Administration rule requires many retailers to begin posting accidents records starting on February 1 of this year. Your record of the prior year’s accidents must remain posted in a spot where employees can examine it until April 30 of this year.

Many WRA members must maintain accident logs for the prior year.  OSHA exempts many sorts of businesses from this reporting requirement depending on their risk class.

Retail members with 10 or fewer employees are exempt, but larger stores and all automotive members must keep the reports. Go here to see if you are exempt from reportingor if you have questions, contact Rick Means, WRA’s Safety Specialist, at 360.943.9198 x18, or rick.means@retailassociationservices.com.

If you have to keep records, you should have the OSHA 300 form updated with ‘recordable’ incidents for all of 2015.  For a decision tree on what are considered recordable incidents, go here.  The next step is to transfer the OSHA 2015 log (form 300) totals onto the OSHA Summary sheet (300A).

If you need any of these forms go here to print them out.

The OSHA 300 form, a copy of the 300A form, and any other supporting paperwork, such as copies of the Report of Accidents, should be kept securely in a binder because some of the required information is private. You need tokeep five years of these forms on file (2010 and back can be tossed).

Rick Means also is available to members to help draw up safety plans and suggest topics for safety meetings.

How are you improving lighting for an aging workforce?

One of the missing ingredients in the workplace to assist the aging worker is paying attention to whether there is enough light for a job. Depending on the work being performed, lighting is an effective tool to help older employees perform tasks more safely.  With computers, for example, indirect lighting creates less  glare.

These are often simple modifications with a minimal cost where you can adjust or add lighting. You will find that these changes will also benefit all generations of workers at your company.

 

Go to the RASI Safety website and you will find many more ideas to assist your aging workforce.

 

Rick Means–Rick Means, Safety Specialist

Do you know where the closest fire extinguisher is in case you need to use it?

It is a relatively small item, but a very effective tool when used correctly. The investment in making sure they are in working condition and easily accessible will pay off in the long run if a small fire were to happen on your premises.  You should also post a map of extinguisher locations and exit routes.

Rick Means–Rick Means, Safety Specialist

How do you combat poor office postures?

With the constant use of technology, our sedentary desk jobs are pulling us forward – but not in a good way.  We have a tendency to assume a forward head position and to round our shoulders.   You also develop a decreased range of motion in the neck and shoulders.

You can help offset these conditions some by trying to move as much as possible during the day.  Try standing during phone calls or use the printer that is furthest from your desk.

Additional information can be found in the RASI Safety Library ergonomics section.

 

Rick Means–Rick Means, Safety Specialist

What is your policy for cell phone use while driving company vehicles?

Distracted driving of any type can quickly lead to an accident.

Accidents from these incidents cause time loss of employees, increased insurance rates, as well as a company vehicle being out of commission for a while.  If you have company delivery drivers, you need to explain the dangers of cell phone use while driving. If you do not already have a cell phone use policy in place, you should put one together as soon as possible.

The RASI Safety Library has more information on Distracted Driving.

 

Rick Means–Rick Means, Safety Specialist

Brush up on required workplace posters

Safety tip of the week

If you own a business, several state agencies require you to display free posters covering worker rights and safety in a visible workplace location.

Here’s a list of the posters from the appropriate agency here.

In the lower right hand corner of the poster there is a date stamp that will show how current it is.  Please compare this list to the ones you have posted.

12/2012Job Safety and Health Law

06/2013Your Rights as a Worker

12/2012Notice to Employees – If a Job Injury Occurs 

04/2012Unemployment Benefits Poster 

11/2009Equal Opportunity Employment 

07/2009Fair Labor Standards Act – (FLSA)

01/2012Employee Polygraph Protection Act

02/2013Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993

12/2014 Washington State Minimum wage 

If you need posters quickly, you can print off the poster from the link.  Otherwise you can order them directly from the issuing agency.

If an L&I compliance officer were to stop by your business unannounced, posters would be one of the items that they would check as well as your Safety Meeting Log Book, Accident Prevention Program and Safety Data Sheets (for companies that work with chemicals).

WRA employs Rick Means as a Safety Specialist who is available to members to help draw up safety plans and suggest topics for safety meetings. Contact him at 360-200-6454, or rick.means@retailassociationservices.com.

How many required posters do you need to have on display?

Nine is the answer.

– Job Safety and Health Law

– Your Rights as a Worker

– Notice to Employees – If a Job Injury Occurs

-Unemployment Benefits Poster

– Equal Opportunity Employment

– Fair Labor Standards Act – (FLSA)

– Employee Polygraph Protection Act

– Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993

– Washington State Minimum wage

For additional details go to RASI Safety website Library/General Safety Workplace Posters.

 

Rick Means–Rick Means, Safety Specialist

Are there ways to make a computer monitor easier to read?

Windows software has built in features allowing workers to adjust their computer screens to fit their use patterns.   Just go to the Control Panel and Display to make those changes.

Another option is to get a new monitor.  The new flat screen monitors have come down in price, offer larger screen sizes and handle glare better than older models.

WRA members can access the safety library to learn more.

 

rick–Rick Means, Safety Specialist

Why have Safety Meetings?

Even if you only have one employee, L&I requires monthly safety meetings. It helps to foster a safety culture in the store showing that management is serious about safety, not just giving it lip service. Meetings can help to get  employees involved in the safety process by increasing the number of eyes and brains engaged in safety.  Employees develop a sense of ‘ownership’ in safety efforts.  It also gives ‘early warning’ of unsafe conditions.

 

rick–Rick Means, Safety Specialist

What tools does your company use to help employees lift safely?

There is always the hand truck but several WRA members have different tools to assist when lifting.  Please let us know what solutions you have so we can share it with other members.

i.e.:  Total Wine has an electric lift to move stock stacked overhead to lower shelves.

Also, check out our (member’s) Safety Library for videos and educational resources for safe lifting.

Safety tip of the week

When lifting, take steps to protect your back

 Being physically fit and following safe lifting tips can help you avoid back injuries while on the job.

There are several rules to follow or questions to ask when asked to lift an object:

  •  *Is there a tool that can ease a lift?
  •  *Can the load be broken down into lighter lifts, or is it time to call for help?
  •  *Stand close to the object to be lifted with your feet spread at shoulder width.
  •  *Bend at the knees and keep your back straight before the lift. Do not bend at the waist.
  •  *Tighten your abdominal muscles and use your arms and legs, not your back, to life and move an object.
  •  *If you must turn with the weight, use your feet, not your back or hips to pivot your torso. Twisting at the waist can make a muscle strain or more serious back injury more likely.
  •  *Apply the same physical techniques when setting an object down.

WRA Retro members can get additional information in the RASI Safety Library.

WRA employs Rick Means as a Safety Specialist who is available to members to help draw up safety plans and suggest topics for safety meetings. Contact him at 360-943-9198, Ext. 18 or rick.means@retailassociationservices.com.

Safety tip of the week

Dissect accidents to avoid repeats

If an accident happens at your company, try to find out how it happened.

You should always take a deeper look into incidents and pursue the details in hopes of learning what steps contributed to the failure.  In reviewing an accident, consider why an employee acted the way he or she did. Did their action make sense to them?

Examine how training or a lack of it might have played a role. Was communication adequate? How about procedures; were they clear? Is the employee or management taking ownership for the accident and committing to do something about it?

Once you’ve broken down various aspects of an accident, put corrective actions in place to avoid the incident in the future.  With the knowledge gained, communicate what happened and how it has been corrected to all so that a similar event can be prevented in the future.

Organizations cannot correct what they do not know.  Effective accident investigations programs encourage personnel to report all incidents, including first-aid only injuries, recordable injuries and even near accidents.  When the workforce embraces the importance of reporting, it has an opportunity to correct small problems before they become larger issues.

An Incident Report template can be found here.

WRA employs Rick Means as a Safety Specialist who is available to help members with safety plans and suggestions for safety meeting topics. Contact him at 360-943-9198, Ext. 18 orrick.means@retailassociationservices.com.

Step ladders with hand rails can prevent injuries

Safety tip of the week

Mature workers wishing to work later in life are finding job opportunities in retail. But the physical changes older workers have encountered can require different tools to ensure they can continue to do their jobs without injury.

People can lose strength and balance as they age. A step ladder with hand rails can help compensate for any physical limitations. A ladder is a common piece of equipment that retail workers use to stock displays or to deposit or remove merchandise from a stock room.

Being able to grasp a railing as a worker goes up or down a ladder provides additional support in maintaining balance or safely handling merchandise. Remember that most ladder accidents happen on the way back down, when you think you’re at the bottom but not quite there.  The hand rail provides an additional point of contact for postural steadiness that can help to prevent a fall. WRA’s Safety Specialist Rick Means recommends replacing a plain step stool with a hand-railed step ladder. Such a step ladder would be beneficial for all workers, young and older, and probably won’t cost much more than a plain step stool without handles.

Retro members can get more information regarding the aging workforce here.

WRA employs Rick, who is available to members to help draw up safety plans and suggest topics for safety meetings. Contact him at 360-943-9198 x18, or rick.means@retailassociationservices.com.

Accident reports must be posted soon

Safety tip of the week

Many WRA members must maintain annual accident logs for the prior year.  The Occupational Safety & Health Administration also exempts many sorts of businesses from this reporting requirement depending on their risk class.

Retail members with 10 or fewer employees are exempt, but WRA’s larger retail and all automotive members need to keep reports.

Go here to see if you are exempt from reporting  https://www.osha.gov/pls/oshaweb/owadisp.show_document?p_table=STANDARDS&p_id=12791or contact WRA Safety Specialist Rick Means if you have questions.

If yours is a company that must make such reports, you should have the OSHA 300 form updated with ‘recordable’ incidents for all of 2013.  For a decision tree on what is considered recordable incidents, go here.   http://www.lni.wa.gov/Safety/Basics/SmallBusiness/General/OSHA300DecisionTree.asp

The next step is to transfer the OSHA 2014 log (form 300) totals onto the OSHA Summary sheet.  The OSHA summary sheet, form 300A,must be posted from 2/1/2015 until 04/30/2015 on the safety bulletin board for all employees to review.  If you need forms go here. http://www.bls.gov/respondents/iif/forms/oshaforms.pdf

Documented failure to post the summary sheet can be expensive. Depending upon several factors, including number of offenses, the size of the company and other considerations, fines can range from $100 to $7,000, said Scott McMinimy, Safety Compliance Officer for the state Division  of Occupational Safety and Health. It’s even possible that in rare cases, a fine could reach $70,000, he said.
The OSHA 300 form, a copy of the 300A form, and any other supporting paperwork such as copies of the Report of Accidents should be kept in a binder in your office due to the need to maintain privacy of such records. You need to keep five years of these forms on file (2008 and back can be discarded).

WRA employs Rick as a Safety Specialist who is available to members to help draw up safety plans and suggest topics for safety meetings. Contact him at 360-200-6454, or rick.means@retailassociationservices.com.

Ways to avoid slips, trips, falls

Safety tip of the week

Slips, trips, and falls are among the most common workplace accidents. Falls can cause serious injuries and even death.  Most slip, trip, and fall incidents are preventable with general precautions and safety measures.

Housekeeping is the first and the most fundamental level of preventing falls due to slips and trips.  Without good housekeeping practices, any other preventive measures such as installation of sophisticated flooring, specialty footwear or training on techniques of walking will not be fully effective.

Slips generally happen when there is too little traction from your shoes for conditions. Trips can be caused by stumbling over an object or losing your balance. Falls can by caused by slipping or tripping, or by losing traction or balance on a ladder, stairs, platform or dock.

Ways to avoid these injuries include:

*Not hurrying through a job.

*Avoiding distractions and keeping focus on the task at hand.

*Wearing the right shoes for conditions, including good gripping soles.

*Improving lighting where needed.

*Properly balancing any loads you’re carrying.

WRA employs Rick Means as a Safety Specialist who is available to members to help draw up safety plans and suggest topics for safety meetings. Contact him at 360-200-6454, or rick.means@retailassociationservices.com

Learn proper razor knife use

Safety tip of the week

 Stockrooms are filling up with holiday merchandise and with that come more frequent razor knife lacerations.

This handy tool is commonly found in retail settings, but it’s important that employees know how to properly use a razor knife cutter. Ask your employees to follow these safety rules for proper use:

 

  • Always be sure that blades are properly seated in knives and knives are fastened before using.
  • Always use sharp blades. A dull blade uses more force and is more likely to slip than a sharp one. Change the blade whenever it starts to tear instead of cut.
  • Always keep your free hand (and other body parts) out of the line of cutting.  Wear a cut-resistant Kevlar glove on your free hand when cutting with a razor knife.
  • Always pull, never push the knife.
  • Don’t bend or apply side pressure to the blade by using it to open cans, loosen screws or pry something open.  Blades are brittle and can break easily.
  • When using a knife to cut through thick material, be patient; make several passes cutting through the material deeper with each pass.
  • Never leave a blade open, close the blade when not in use.
  • When replacing the old blade, cover the sharp sides and points with several layers of tape and dispose of properly.

RASI SAFETYTV has a short video on utility knife safety.

These are simple tools that when used incorrectly can result in a painful experience.  Please make sure your employees have been given proper direction on utility knife use.

 WRA employs Rick Means as a Safety Specialist who is available to members to help draw up safety plans and suggest topics for safety meetings. Contact him at 360-943-9198, Ext. 18 or rick.means@retailassociationservices.com.

Safety tip: Plan ahead to manage crush of holiday bargain hunters

Most retailers should be making crowd control plans now in anticipation of the rush of holiday shoppers, many of whom will be reacting to sales promotions beginning on Thanksgiving evening.

Lax planning could result in avoidable injuries as shoppers and employees mix during the year’s peak shopping season. Stores, after all, don’t suddenly get bigger to accommodate the larger crowds, so crowd control is just more important this time of year.

The ability to organize in advance enables you to arrive at “game time” with an articulated plan including clear communication with customers, associates, management, security and, if sales and promotions warrant, law enforcement and mall management.

Here are some crowd-control measures to consider and do:

–      Strategically placing sale items throughout a store will help spread out the crowd and manage flow better.

–      You should also account for how to replenish sale merchandise.

–      Review communications plans with everyone.

–      Designate a head cashier/store manager solely stationed at the cash wrap to float and resolve problems.

–      Engage law enforcement if you anticipate sizeable crowds.

–      Establish contingency plans and ‘what-if’ scenarios to be even more prepared.

The goal is to have a successful and safe event for your customers and employees.

WRA employs Rick Means as a Safety Specialist who is available to members to help draw up safety plans and suggest topics for safety meetings. Contact him at 360-943-9198, Ext. 18 or rick.means@retailassociationservices.com

Safety tip: Push, don’t pull a pallet jack

Pallet jacks are common in the retail industry for moving freight.  The sight of one should trigger the memory of a basic rule when it comes to operating a pallet jack.

A person can push almost four times the weight they can pull. That’s why when the choice to push or pull a pallet jack arises, it’s generally safer to push it.

Rick Means, WRA’s Safety Specialist, reminds that in moving weight, a worker is strongest pushing with his legs for a foundation. The physics follows the same principle as in lifting; lift using your legs for balance, not your back.

People who get hurt on the job moving weight often ignore the body mechanics involved in moving weight safely.

Using both arms to pull a pallet jack behind you is a recipe for being run into by the pallet if you have to stop suddenly. By pulling, you also risk the need to twist your body to control the device, which increases the likelihood of hurting your lower back. By pushing, a worker will find he or she has better control to steer and maneuver away from obstacles and they can stop quicker.

It takes less energy to push a pallet jack compared to pulling it. Ask your employees to spend a day pushing the jack instead of pulling it. They’re sure to notice the difference in energy used by the end of the day.

There are two types of  pallet jacks; manual or electric. The only difference is that an electric jack will operate when you are in the pulling position. In that case, the jack is doing all the moving work as the operator works controls located in the handle.

Here is a handy load calculator that explains how much effort it takes the average person to move a specific load.

WRA employs Means as a Safety Specialist who is available to members to help draw up safety plans and suggest topics for safety meetings. Contact him at 360-943-9198 x18 or rick.means@retailassociationservices.com.

Safety tip: Avoid misuse of electronics

Improperly using electrical equipment can create very serious hazards for workers.  Special safety features built into equipment often are rendered ineffective when equipment is manipulated or misused. This can harm workers and damage the equipment.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) offers the following tips about common types of equipment misuse:

  • Do not make extension cords with Romex wire, a brand of electrical wiring in plastic coating typically found within walls.
  • Replace all cords or tools with worn insulation or exposed wires.
  • Never modify cords or tools by removing ground prongs, face plates or insulation.
  • Ensure equipment labeled for dry, indoor use is never used outside or in damp conditions.
  • Do not attach an ungrounded, two-prong adaptor plug to three-prong cords and tools.
  • Do not misuse multi-receptacle boxes designed to be mounted by fitting them with a power cord and placing them on the floor.
  • Refrain from using circuit breakers or fuses with the wrong rating for over-current protection (i.e., using a 30-amp breaker with a 15- or 20-amp receptacle). Protection will be lost because it will not trip when the system’s load has been exceeded.
  • To ensure worker safety, only use equipment that is approved to meet all OSHA standards, and use it in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Limit the use of extension cords where possible.

You can find some short electrical safety videos on  RASI SAFETYTV.

WRA employs Rick Means as a Safety Specialist who is available to members to help draw up safety plans and suggest topics for safety meetings. Contact him at 360-943-9198, Ext. 18 or rick.means@retailassociationservices.com

Proper techniques can prevent back injuries

 There are lots of threats to the health of your back including poor physical fitness, lack of flexibility, stress, poor posture, lack of rest and participating in certain recreational activities. Any of these combined with poor lifting practices are bound to cause a back injury.

Staying physically fit and following safe lifting tips will help avoid back injuries.

When you go to lift something, size up the job first by asking where the item needs to go? Is there a tool on hand that can make this lift easier? Can the job be broken down into a more manageable load, or should someone help carrying the load?

Remember to start your lift by standing close to the object. Your feet should be spread at shoulder width, bend at the knees, keep your back straight and do not bend at the waist.  Tighten your abdominal muscles and lift with the muscles in your arms and legs, not your back. If you must turn, do so by moving your feet; do not reach and twist when holding an object.  When setting an object down, apply all of the same techniques.

Here are helpful links on lifting:

RASI SAFETY TV

L&I – Proper Lifting

WRA employs Rick Means as a Safety Specialist. He’s available to members to help draw up safety plans and suggest topics for safety meetings. Contact him at 360-943-9198, Ext. 18 or rick.means@retailassociationservices.com.

ShakeOut earthquake drill in two weeks

More than 600,000 participants statewide are expected to practice earthquake survival skills during the 2014 Great Washington ShakeOut the morning of Oct. 16.

Millions of people worldwide will practice how to “drop, cover and hold on” at 10:16 a.m. on that day in a worldwide earthquake drill simulation. Organizers have begun conducting the drill annually to raise awareness and improve preparations for earthquakes.

Click here to register your company for the drill. Click here for a step-by-step guide on how to prepare your company and employees for the drill. Click here to review recent seismic activity in the Northwest.

WRA urges members to register and participate. Analysis of disasters shows that companies can increase their odds of surviving an earthquake through better preparation regarding safety steps to take.

The state Emergency Management Division is offering several useful computer links for additional information.

Rick Means, WRA’s Safety Specialist, will be reviewing the drills with the office staff. WRA plans to participate in the event this year.

 

More preparedness links can be found on RASI Safety TV

 

Means is available to members to help draw up safety plans and suggest topics for safety meetings. Contact him at 360-943-9198, Ext. 18 or rick.means@retailassociationservices.com.

A disaster recovery plan can save your business

How quickly can you rebound from an emergency?  Disaster recovery and business continuity planning are processes that help organizations prepare for disruptive events – whether it be a computer system crash, natural disaster, supply chain interruption, severe weather or a power outage.

Good business continuity plans will keep your company up and running through interruptions of any kind.

Recovery plans need to encompass how employees will communicate, where they will go and how they will keep doing their jobs. The details can vary greatly, depending on the size and scope of your company and the way it does business.  For some, power outages are most crucial. For others it could be data recovery, which can be as easy as taking home portable drives for a low-cost way to do offsite backup.

Following a significant disaster, 40 percent of businesses do not reopen and another 25 percent fail within one year, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).  Similar statistics from the Small Business Administration indicate that over 90 percent of businesses fail within two years after being struck by a disaster.  Having a plan can ensure that you’re back in business quickly and able to continue providing products and services to customers.

Don’t react to a disaster, be proactive and start to research options of how you would recovery and reopen as soon as possible. Here are some a great links to get you started:

Prepare My Business

Red Cross Disaster Library

Ready Rating – is a free program from the American Red Cross to help businesses, schools and organizations prepare for disasters and other emergencies.

WRA employs Rick Means as a Safety Specialist, who is available to members to help draw up safety plans and suggest topics for safety meetings. Contact him at 360-943-9198, Ext. 18 or rick.means@retailassociationservices.com.

Working with Seasoned Workers

You may have noticed that people are working later in their years. In demographic terms, about 10,000 baby boomers in the United States will turn 65 every day until about the year 2030, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

“Older workers represent a never-before-seen opportunity for employers,” said Mark Schmit, executive director of the Society of Human Resource Managers. “In this knowledge economy the retention of older workers gives employers a competitive edge by allowing them to continue to tap a generation of knowledge and skill.” This knowledge and skill can be shared and passed to younger workers.

These mature workers have also experienced some physical changes that can be easily addressed.  Items like:

  • Provide step ladders with handrails to assist with balance.  When stocking shelves they can feel safer by having the ability to grasp with one hand while working merchandise.
  • Slow overexertion by reducing over reaching to a minimum, having their workspace tools easier to access without excessive reaching.
  • Computer workstations can have screen setting adjusted for dark text on light background, increase settings for larger text and even internet browsers (some of this is already available in software and just needs to be ‘turned on’).
  • Raise lighting levels in stair wells, especially at base and top of stairs.
  • Workspace table that is adjustable.

This is a significant topic that we will continue to address in future articles.

WRA employs Rick Means as a Safety Specialist who is available to members to help draw up safety plans and suggest topics for safety meetings. Contact him at 360-943-9198, Ext. 18 or rick.means@retailassociationservices.com.

Ladder Safety

Every year, many workers in Washington State are seriously injured from falling off ladders at work. These injuries include dislocated limbs, broken bones, head injuries and in a few cases some workers even die from their injuries. These accidents occur because:

  • The ladder moves, falls over, or is set up improperly; or
  • The worker slips on the rungs, overreaches, or carries objects while climbing the ladder; or
  • The worker stands on the top cap of the ladder; or
  • The ladder being used is not in good condition.

And another interesting fact is that most of these incidents happen at less than 10 feet high!

This information tells us that ladder users, whether at work or at home, are not taking appropriate safety precautions when on a ladder and that ladders are such a common tool, people don’t associate their ladder use with injuries.  Most often a ladder that is selected is not suitable for the task; is too short, not properly set up, or is not in good condition.  There are many types of ladders and you need to use the best one for the job that you are trying to safely accomplish.  Please review you ladder types and use at your next safety meeting and additional information can be found here.

RASI SAFETY TV – https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL-_I4binSRgnc_DwduD2iB2o4IqleqAMv 

L&I – http://www.lni.wa.gov/Safety/TrainTools/Online/Courses/courseinfo.asp?P_ID=208

WRA employs Rick Means as a Safety & Claims Administrator who is available to members to help draw up safety plans and suggest topics for safety meetings. Contact him at 360-943-9198, Ext. 18 or rick.means@retailassociationservices.com.

Blood Borne Pathogens

You ask “What are blood-borne pathogens?” It kind of sounds like a new horror movie, but blood-borne pathogens are infectious microorganisms in human blood that can cause disease in humans. These pathogens include, but are not limited to, hepatitis B (HBV), hepatitis C (HCV) and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). Needle sticks and other sharps-related injuries may expose workers to blood-borne pathogens.

Environments that are most exposed are healthcare professionals and the general public.  Working in retail brings you in contact with the general public and can also put you at risk for being exposed to blood borne pathogens and even contracting blood borne diseases in the workplace if proper prevention measures aren’t taken.

Because you can’t tell simply by looking at a person’s blood if he or she is infected with blood borne pathogens, you must exercise “universal precautions,” which means treating all blood and blood-containing materials as though they do actually contain blood borne pathogens.  Prevention includes; regular hand washing, wearing protective clothing such as latex gloves when dealing with an injured person, avoid poking yourself with the needle from tagging guns, being careful with box knives, cleaning up broken glass so that no blood is drawn.  You need to take care when handling garbage bags while performing regular custodial duties, as sharp objects can protrude from the bag.

Additional information can be found here:

RASI SAFEYTV video – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nUNCwiuWLRA 

L&I – http://www.lni.wa.gov/Safety/Topics/AtoZ/topic.asp?KWID=39

WRA employs Rick Means as a Safety & Claims Administrator who is available to members to help draw up safety plans and suggest topics for safety meetings. Contact him at 360-943-9198, Ext. 18 or rick.means@retailassociationservices.com.

Overexertion

Overexertion injuries generally fall into two categories – sprains (stretching or tearing ligaments) and strains (stretching or tearing tendons or muscles). These types of injuries have been associated with lifting, repeated bending at the waist with twisting, long term bending at the waist, pushing/pulling, carrying, reaching and long term poor posture (either sitting or standing).

Rick Goggins from L&I, has helped us with some specific data for Washington retailers, which looks like this:

  • One out of every four injuries in retail is overexertion.
  • The average cost per overexertion claim is a little over $11,500.
  • Overexertion claims represent about 37% of workers’ comp costs in retail.
  • Lifting is the most frequently mentioned cause of overexertion, resulting in at least half of all injuries. Carrying was second, followed closely by pushing and pulling.
  • ‘Boxes’ were the most frequent source of injury. Of the more specific items listed, ‘automotive parts’ was the most common.
  • The back was clearly the most frequently injured part of the body. Shoulder injuries were a distant second.

 To prevent overexertion:

  • Stretch and/or warm up before heavy lifting or strenuous activity
  • Use hand truck and carts as much as possible
  • Lift with your legs bent and objects held close to your body
  • Avoid bending, over reaching and twisting when lifting
  • For those unusual sized items, ask a friend for help when lifting

Proper posture, body mechanics and ergonomics can lessen overexertion injuries.  Because it is important that the demands of the job match the capabilities of the worker, extra training may be required to perform a job safely.

For additional information click here:

http://www.lni.wa.gov/safety/trainingprevention/online/courseinfo.asp?P_ID=169

http://www.lni.wa.gov/Safety/SprainsStrains/AwkwardPostures/ReducingAwkwardPostures.pdf

WRA employs Rick Means as a Safety & Claims Administrator who is available to members to help draw up safety plans and suggest topics for safety meetings. Contact him at 360-943-9198, Ext. 18 or rick.means@retailassociationservices.com.

Office Ergo – Eye Strain

Eye strain is a very common problem and whether it is from working on a computer, watching TV, driving or any number of other activities, your eyes can become fatigued and lose focus.

When working at a computer, people blink less frequently – about one-third as often as they normally do – and many blinks performed during computer work are only partial lid closures, according to studies. Serious eye strain can cause a number of other problems like short-term head and neck aches.

If you spend a good part of your day using the computer, the 20-20-20 rule might also help you relax your tired eyes.  The 20-20-20 rule suggests that after every 20 minutes, the computer user should take a break for at least 20 seconds and look at objects that are 20 feet away.

Also look at how your workstation is set up, such as the distance the screen is from you. Conventional wisdom for monitor distance is that it should be 16-24 inches away. This is not necessarily correct and you should actually find the best distance is “as far away as possible while still being able to read it clearly.” Longer distances relax the eyes. Other items to check are:

  • Adjust the light that works best for you.
  • Minimize glare.
  • Check your monitor display settings; color, contrast and text size all can be adjusted.
  • Use eyeglasses designed for all-day computer use.
  • Upgrade to a newer, flat-screen monitor.
  • And lastly, try to consciously blink more often.

These suggestions are courtesy of Rick Means, WRA’s Safety and Claims Administrator. He’s available to members to help draw up safety plans and suggest topics for safety meetings. Contact him at 360-943-9198 x18, or rick.means@retailassociationservices.com.

Heat Related Illness – Why is Heat a Hazard to Workers?

When a person works in a hot environment, the body must get rid of excess heat to maintain a stable internal temperature. It does this mainly through circulating blood to the skin and through sweating.

When the air temperature is close to or warmer than normal body temperature, cooling of the body becomes more difficult. Blood circulated to the skin cannot lose its heat.  Sweating then becomes the main way the body cools off.  But sweating is effective only if the humidity level is low enough to allow evaporation and if the fluids and salts that are lost are adequately replaced.

If the body cannot get rid of excess heat, it will store it. When this happens, the body’s core temperature rises and the heart rate increases. As the body continues to store heat, the person begins to lose concentration and has difficulty focusing on a task, may become irritable or sick, and often loses the desire to drink. The next stage is most often fainting and even death if the person is not cooled down.

Excessive exposure to heat can cause a range of heat-related illnesses, from heat rash and heat cramps to heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Heat stroke can result in death and requires immediate medical attention.

Exposure to heat can also increase the risk of injuries because of sweaty palms, fogged-up safety glasses, dizziness, and burns from hot surfaces or steam.

Workers exposed to hot indoor environments or hot and humid conditions outdoors are at risk of heat-related illness, especially those doing heavy work tasks or using bulky or non-breathable protective clothing and equipment. Some workers might be at greater risk than others if they have not built up a tolerance to hot conditions, or if they have certain health conditions. The table below shows some environmental and job-specific factors that increase the risk of heat-related illness.

Heat Index

Risk Level

Protective Measures

Less than 91°F

Lower (Caution)

Basic heat safety and planning

91°F to 103°F

Moderate

Implement precautions and heighten awareness. Employers are required to provide water equal to one quart per hour per employee

103°F to 115°F

High

Additional precautions to protect workers

Greater than 115°F

Very High to Extreme

Triggers even more aggressive protective measures

For additional information see:

WRA employs Rick Means as a Safety & Claims Administrator who is available to members to help draw up safety plans and suggest topics for safety meetings. Contact him at 360-943-9198, Ext. 18 or rick.means@retailassociationservices.com.

Personal Protective Equipment – Gloves

Human hands are unique and one of your greatest assets. Can you imagine not being able to work with your hands?  Hand injuries can vary from minor cuts or irritation to amputation. Your hands are your personal tools and most of us take them for granted – until you have a serious injury or develop chronic skin problems.

Gloves that you are most familiar with are leather work gloves or insulated gloves for cold weather, since we all use them at home. On the job, there can be additional hazards and gloves available to protect you from those specific hazards, which could be chemical, electrical, food service, healthcare and more.

A good video can be found on RASI SAFETY TV.

Here is a link to to a good PowerPoint that can be used for your next safety meeting.

Protect your hands with the proper glove for the task that you are trying to accomplish and preserve one of your most universal assets!

WRA employs Rick Means as a Safety & Claims Administrator who is available to members to help draw up safety plans and suggest topics for safety meetings. Contact him at 360-943-9198, Ext. 18 or rick.means@retailassociationservices.com.

Personal Protective Equipment – Eye Protection

Eye injuries are one of the most common injuries that occur in the workplace and one of the easiest hazards to prevent. What contributes to eye injuries at work?

  • Not wearing eye protection – The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that nearly three out of every five workers injured were not wearing eye protection at the time of their accident.
  • Wearing the wrong kind of protection for the job – About 40 percent of the injured workers were wearing eyeglasses without side shields, although some injuries still can occur when full-cup and flat-fold side shields are worn. Tight-fitting goggles offer the most complete protection and should be worn for liquid chemical hazards.
  • Flying particles –The BLS found that almost 70 percent of the accidents studied resulted from flying or falling objects striking the eye. Injured workers estimated that nearly 60 percent of the objects were smaller than a pin head.  Contact with chemicals caused about 20 percent of the injuries. Other accidents were caused by objects swinging from a fixed or attached position.

More information on eye safety can be found here:

Eye gear is fairly inexpensive protection and current designs are a lot more comfortable with better protection than previous types. Please take a moment to think about all possible eye hazards at your workplace, inspect your current equipment to make sure it is in good condition, and then make sure your employees use them while preforming their work.

Rick Means is available to members to help draw up safety plans and suggest topics for safety meetings. Contact him at 360-943-9198 x18, or rick.means@retailassociationservices.com.

Personal Protective Equipment – Hearing

Hearing is important and hearing loss – with implications on communication, employment opportunities, job performance, injury-risk, depression, and anxiety – places a significant burden on society. Occupational hearing loss represents a substantial portion of all hearing impairments and is nearly always permanent. It is also nearly always preventable. Reducing worker exposure to hazardous noise is a sound investment. A great video on how the ear works and how to protect it can be viewed here on RASI SAFETY TV.

When should employees wear hearing protection? A safe level of sound that a person can be exposed to, for long periods of time, is measured at 85dB. If you are recording an exposure limit value greater than this, hearing protection in the form of ear plugs or ear muffs should be made available to all staff members.

To see what levels of noise are prevalent in your shop, you could bring in an Audiologist or as with most things today, there is an app for that available on Android and Iphone.  

There are many different types of hearing protection that you can choose from. Review the type of situation that you need hearing protection with your employees to find a suitable type that they will feel comfortable using. You want to have something that they will regularly use.

Additional Information can be found at:

WRA employs Rick Means as a Safety & Claims Administrator who is available to members to help draw up safety plans and suggest topics for safety meetings. Contact him at 360-943-9198, Ext. 18 or rick.means@retailassociationservices.com.

Personal Protective Equipment – Hearing

Hearing is important and hearing loss, with implications on communication, employment opportunities, job performance, injury-risk, depression, and anxiety, places a significant burden on society. Occupational hearing loss represents a substantial portion of all hearing impairments and is nearly always permanent. It is also nearly always preventable. Reducing worker exposure to hazardous noise is a sound investment. A great video on how the ear works and how to protect it can be viewed here on RASI SAFETY TV.

When should employees wear hearing protection? A safe level of sound that a person can be exposed to, for long periods of time, is measured at 85dB. If you are recording an exposure limit value greater than this, hearing protection in the form of ear plugs or ear muffs should be made available to all staff members.

To see what levels of noise are prevalent in your shop, you could bring in an Audiologist or as with most things today, there is an app for that. Android
Iphone.

There are many different types of hearing protection that you can choose from. Review the type of situation that you need hearing protection with your employees to find a suitable type that they will feel comfortable using. You want to have something that they will regularly use.

Additional Information can be found at:
OSHA article – https://www.osha.gov/SLTC/noisehearingconservation/
CDC article – http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/enews/enewsV10N11.html
L&I training packet – http://lni.wa.gov/Safety/TrainTools/Trainer/Kits/HearingProtection/

WRA employs Rick Means as a Safety & Claims Administrator who is available to members to help draw up safety plans and suggest topics for safety meetings. Contact him at 360-943-9198, Ext. 18 or rick.means@retailassociationservices.com

Taking Shortcuts Often Causes Workplace Accidents

The catch phrase “shortcuts can cut life short” is a good one to remember for any worker prone to ignoring safety precautions.

There are any number of excuses that workers give for taking safety shortcuts.

“Most of the time the shortcut is because somebody has the perception that they’re in a hurry for something,” said Timothy C. Healey, director of safety at the Hartford Steam Boiler Inspection & Insurance Co. in Hartford, Connecticut. “What’s interesting to me is what’s driving them to feel that they need to be in a hurry.”

A worker might rush to skip a step if they’re running behind schedule. Or they’ll rationalize that co-workers take shortcuts and never suffer.

Shortcuts can take many forms. Not wearing a protective hard hat in a construction zone is an example. A falling wrench that struck someone’s head from scaffolding above could cause serious injury, even death. A mechanic beneath a car changing the oil could risk a permanent eye injury if he skipped wearing safety goggles.

Healey explained further that some workers simply like to work fast, are insecure about their job or have too little help to finish on time and rush as a result. Whatever the excuse, when the need to work fast seems more important than working safely, mishaps can occur.

Ashley Johnson, associate editor of the National Safety Council’s Safety + Health magazine, offers the following advice to supervisors:

  • Remind employees that accidents most often occur when they hurry and lose concentration on working safely.
  • Design jobs so that the safest way to work also is the easiest way to complete the job.

WRA employs Rick Means as a Safety and Claims Administrator who is available to members to help draw up safety plans and suggest topics for safety meetings. Contact him at 360-200-6454, or rick.means@retailassociationservices.com.

Need a Little Help With Your Safety Meetings?

We recently put together a RASI Safety channel on YouTube, where you can instantly stream safety videos that can be used for your safety meetings and for newly hired employee training. We have assembled them in ‘playlist’ groups such as: lifting and back safety, distracted driving, ladders, and more. You can watch the whole playlist group or can select an individual one to watch. We will continue to expand the categories and the videos, putting the ones out there that are a best fit our membership.

If you can’t seem to find what you are looking for there, another option is to go to the L&I video library. Once you set up an account, you can review the offerings and order online, having the disc sent to you. They even have some topics in Spanish.

These are great supplements to help you with your safety meetings. It is just like Netflix with no monthly fees!

WRA employs Rick Means as a Safety and Claims Administrator who is available to members to help draw up safety plans and suggest topics for safety meetings. Contact him at 360-943-9198 x18, or rick.means@retailassociationservices.com.

Hazard Communications Review

Hazard Communication rules were developed to make sure information about inherently hazardous chemicals are provided to employers and ultimately to employees so they become informed about chemical hazards found in the workplace. These rules apply if you:

  • Have employees with potential for exposure to hazardous chemicals at work.
  • Distribute hazardous chemicals to employers.
  • Manufacture (produce) or import hazardous chemicals.

A Hazard Communications (HazCom) plan is a company specific policy and process of how employees will handle the chemicals they work with on a daily basis and with the new changes in Safety Data Sheets, we thought it would also be a good time to review your current HazCom plan to reflect those changes, as well as reviewing to see if all the parts are still relevant to your operation. This plan should be a subset of your Accident Prevention Program.

The new Safety Data Sheets contain a lot of information for a specific chemical. L&I states that it is OK to have an electronic versions of the safety data sheets, instead of binders, but they must be easily accessible to all employees in any format. Check with your suppliers to make sure you have the latest disc(s) on hand, which could also act as a backup if your internet access gets interrupted.

A general HazCom template can be found here and can be modified to fit your company needs and processes.  Rick is available to help you with any questions you may have.

WRA employs Rick Means as a Safety and Claims Administrator who is available to members to help draw up safety plans and suggest topics for safety meetings. Contact him at 360-200-6454, or rick.means@retailassociationservices.com.

Summer Hiring – Teens Require Different Safety Rules

As the summer hiring season for teens nears, it’s important for employers to understand how the safety rules change for teens.

Put simply, the law requires employers to treat teens differently from adults. Though the differences may seem overwhelming, Labor & Industries has summarized them all on its website.

Generally, teens as young as 14 qualify for a job, but their acceptable duties vary by age. Fourteen and 15 year olds are limited to light duties and relax somewhat for 16 and 17-year olds. Still, there is a very specific list of exceptions that limit the on-the-job tasks that teens are legally permitted to perform. Failure to comply would raise serious liability concerns for an employer.

For example:

  • Minors under 18 can’t operate meat slicers, a forklift or work at a height greater than 10 feet.
  • They can’t work in a freezer or work alone past 8 p.m. without supervision.
  • Teens can’t repair roofs, sell candy or flows on a public roadway or work in a sauna or massage parlor.
  • Teens under 16 can’t drive a car, cook, load or unload a truck, use a ladder or sell house-to-house.
  • Acceptable hours also vary by age. For example, 16 and 17-year olds can work up to 48 hours a week during non-school weeks, but only up to 20 hours during school weeks. Sixteen and 17-year olds can work to midnight on non-school weeks, but only until 10 p.m. on weeknights during the school year. For younger teens, the mandatory quitting times are earlier.

L&I Director Joel Sacks issued a memo about teen work rules to raise their profile in advance of the summer hiring season. He urged employers to emphasize training, protecting teens from operating dangerous equipment and ensuring close supervision to avoid problems, including legal ones.

Rick is available to members to help draw up safety plans and suggest topics for safety meetings. Contact him at 360-943-9198 x18, or rick.means@retailassociationservices.com

Distracted Driving

Roadways are unpredictable and ever changing environment that requires your full attention. They estimate that one in ten vehicles on the road have some sort of distracted driving; eating, reading, navigation systems, passenger distraction and cell phone use. For this reason, hand held cell phone use or texting while driving is illegal in the State of Washington. Accidents from these incidents cause time loss of employees, increased insurance rates, as well as a company vehicle being out of commission for a while. If you have company delivery drivers, you need to explain the dangers of cell phone use while driving and that you are taking action by implementing policies that would prohibit both hands-free and handheld devices prevent cell phone distracted driving. If you do not already have a cell phone use policy in place, I encourage you to get one put together soon. The National Safety Council recommends those policies apply to all company employees. Make calls before you leave the parking lot or at rest stops, but not while you are on the road!

The National Safety Council has created a series of short videos that answer common questions about cell phone use and driving. On RASI SAFETY TV, there is a playlist of these videos. This would be a great topic at your next safety meeting. I would suggest showing one at a time with discussions between each video.

WRA employs Rick Means as a Safety & Claims Administrator who is available to members to help draw up safety plans and suggest topics for safety meetings. Contact him at 360-943-9198, Ext. 18 or rick.means@retailassociationservices.com.

RASI SAFETY TV Update

July begins a new retro year and we have also added more content to RASI SAFETYTV, that is available to assist you with your safety meetings.

Latest updates are:

There are 23 categories with more than 80 videos giving you another way to show safety in your workplace. To view all playlist categories click here.

Let me know if there is topic you are looking for.

Enjoy!

Rick Means

Safety and Claims Administrator

Retail Association Services

618 SE Quince

Olympia, WA 98507

rick.means@retailassociationservices.com

Late Night Workers Need to Be Aware

For those employers who operate late night retail establishments, your accident prevention program should address how employees working those late shifts are to protect themselves from thefts and robberies, etc. A plan that outlines measures to reduce risks such as; training workers on de-escalation techniques, installing adequate lighting in parking lots, and providing drop safes, are some of the items to be addressed. Various factors can increase the risk of workplace violence, include:

  • Exchanging money with the public.
  • Working where alcohol is sold or served.
  • Working late at night or in areas with high crime rates.
  • Working with volatile or unstable people.
  • Working alone or in isolated areas.

Employees that are working alone should practice these tips for their safety:

  • Keep emergency phone numbers handy.
  • Have someone contact you regularly to make sure you are OK.  If you operate more than one store, have each other cross check themselves.
  • Make eye contact with all customers and greet each in a friendly manner.
  • Don’t leave back doors open and unattended.
  • Don’t empty garbage or make bank deposits at night.
  • Keep a casual eye on anyone who is loitering but, don’t stare or confront them.

If you are caught in a robbery situation, stay as calm as you can and look out for your own safety.  Money and merchandise can be replaced, but people can’t.   More information and tips can be found here.

WRA employs Rick Means as a Safety and Claims Administrator who is available to members to help draw up safety plans and suggest topics for safety meetings. Contact him at 360-200-6454, or rick.means@retailassociationservices.com.

New SDS Rules Start June 1, 2014

They used to be called Material Data Safety Sheets and that is beginning to change to Safety Data Sheets or Globally Harmonized System of classification and labeling of chemicals.  These new standards of product labeling will slowly be phased in creating a universal labeling program for everyone to follow. This new program is essentially an enhancement to the current program leading to a more standardized data sheet/label/pictogram for each chemical.

Employers will have to have all employees, who use chemicals as part of their normal work process, trained and familiarized to the new formats by June 1 of this year. Remember employers must have safety data sheet information available (electronic or paper copy) in the workplace for each hazardous chemical they use as part of their regular work.  How you handle and use chemicals at your shop would be your Hazardous Communication Planwhich is part of your Accident Prevention Program. Your HazCom Plan would be a plan of what to do if an exposure occurs and providing proper first aid and clean up.

If you are not up to speed yet, here is a link to get you started – http://www.lni.wa.gov/Safety/TrainTools/Trainer/Kits/hazcom/

WRA employs Rick Means as a Safety & Claims Administrator who is available to members to help draw up safety plans and suggest topics for safety meetings. Contact him at 360-943-9198, Ext. 18 or rick.means@retailassociationservices.com.

Office Ergonomics – Workstation

Each person is different as is each work space, and one size does not fit all.  Issues around  poor workspace set up will eventually come back to haunt you.  Consider how you perform your daily work:

Are you right or left handed, as this will determine where to put the phone and where space will be allocated for writing.

Frequently used items should be within easy reach (arm’s length). Plants and pictures can be farther away and out of the space that you use most.

Monitors should be high enough so that your eyes are at the same level as the top of the monitor and as far away as you can comfortably view it.

You may find that an adjustable table will allow you to sit part of the day and stand the other would be a great option.

Here is a link to a great interactive presentation on work station layout. It is important to work with each individual to find what works best for them. Some ergonomic videos are available at RASI SAFETY TV.

Be proactive and think about these things now so that there will be fewer problems in the future.  Start checking with your employees today and evaluating how they use their workspace  try to make it more ergonomically comfortable, therefore saving the company and the employee from potential problems.  Who knows, increased productivity could also be a side benefit!

Rick is available to members to help draw up safety plans and suggest topics for safety meetings. Contact him at 360-943-9198 x18, or rick.means@retailassociationservices.com.

http://www.lni.wa.gov/Safety/TrainTools/Online/Courses/courseinfo.asp?P_ID=184

Office Ergonomics – Mouse/Keyboard

Repetitive motion like typing can cause wrist stress if you are not properly aligning yourself with the keyboard/mouse. As previously learned in the ‘Chair’ article, you can adjust your chair up and down to assist you in achieving proper height to get yourself level. Keyboard and mouse should be at elbow level. This will allow for you wrist and forearm to work in a more natural state and not being used in the upward or downward position. Most often the mouse is down and you wrist is bent and you put pressure right at your wrist.  This is what causes carpel tunnel.

The keyboard that came with your machine may not be the best one for you and there are several aftermarket options out there that you may find to be more comfortable for you to use.

The mouse also has options such as one with a track ball instead of the traditional type.  Your fingers do all the work instead of having to use the elbow and shoulder movement to get the pointer where you need it.  You can even reset your exiting mouse to be used with you opposite hand.

Here is a link to a great interactive presentation on proper mouse/keyboard use. It is important to work with each individual to find what works best for them.

Next week will talk about workspace layout.

Rick is available to members to help draw up safety plans and suggest topics for safety meetings. Contact him at 360-943-9198 x18, or rick.means@retailassociationservices.com.

Office Ergonomics – The Chair (part one of a series)

Each person is different as is each work space and one size does not fit all. Because you are sitting in a chair, you may think that you are not putting any pressure on your back, but you are. The only two better options are to stand or lie down.

The goal is to have a chair that will give you support as well as comfortable posture.  So starting from top to bottom;

  • Make sure your head is level and facing straight ahead.
  • Shoulders should be relaxed and in line with your hips.
  • Forearms level wrists straight.
  • Elbows at sides.
  • Lower back has lumbar support.
  • Knees level with or lower than hips.
  • Feet are supported.

You chair should be adjustable in many ways to achieve comfortable posture to the items listed above.  Here is a link to a great interactive presentation on proper chair adjustment. It is important to work with each individual to find what works best for them.

Be proactive, as using a poorly supportive chair and incorrect posture now will lead to problems in the future. Start checking with your employees today, evaluating their chairs as well as their posture, and show them the better way to be sitting at their workstation. Stay tuned as we will be covering other segments on office ergonomics in upcoming stories.

Rick is available to members to help draw up safety plans and suggest topics for safety meetings. Contact him at 360-943-9198 x18, or rick.means@retailassociationservices.com.

http://www.lni.wa.gov/Safety/TrainTools/Online/Courses/courseinfo.asp?P_ID=184

Promotional Sales & Special Events – Handling the Crowd

Planning is important to stir excitements and sales in retail. But even the best laid plans sometimes don’t address possible safety challenges.

Safety contingencies should be created for the “what-if” scenarios that may arise, including how to handle larger than expected crowds, the backup plan for inclement weather, possible power outages and the need for additional parking.

Such planning also should include alternative entry/exit routes for customers, celebrity guests and security/law enforcement.  Emergency preparedness plans give sales associates a foundation to handle any unexpected situation including crowd control or possible injuries.

Retailers agree that the top priority in event planning is safety – the safety of customers, employees, service providers and security personnel.  Proactively planning and preparing for special events will help to increase the chances for a successful and safe event.

For more ideas on this topic, especially from a safety perspective, see the National Retail Federation and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

WRA employs Rick Means as a Safety and Claims Administrator who is available to members to help draw up safety plans and suggest topics for safety meetings. Contact him at 360-943-9198 x18, or rick.means@retailassociationservices.com.

Fire Extinguishers

It is a relatively small item, but very effective tool when used correctly and the investment in making sure they are in working condition, as well as easily accessible, will pay off in the long run if a small fire were to happen on your premises.

The most common type, A-B-C Fire extinguishers, can be used on all types of fires and will work on combustible materials, electrical and flammable liquids.  You should check on what your local code requirements are in regards to number to have on hand as well as placement height.

If you are ever put in a situation to have to use a fire extinguisher, the P.A.S.S. system is an effective way to take care of a small fire.

  • P-pulling the pin.
  • A-aim at the base of the fire.
  • S-squeeze the handle.
  • S-sweep side to side.

For a short video, click here.

Please make sure you include this as part of your new hire orientation. We hope that you will never be in the position to have to use a fire extinguisher, but it is good to be prepared just in case!

WRA employs Rick Means as a Safety and Claims Administrator who is available to members to help draw up safety plans and suggest topics for safety meetings. Contact him at 360-943.9198 x18 or rick.means@retailassociationservices.com.

Substance Abuse in the Workplace

According to SAMHSA, a federal agency tracking substance abuse, for 2012 there were about 135 million users of alcohol in the USA. The same agency estimates that 23.9 million Americans use illegal drugs. If you combine those estimates and consider Washington State’s new marijuana law, there’s a greater chance these days that a co-worker could be under the influence of a drug.

Alcohol is the primary drug-related workplace issue followed by marijuana and abuse of prescriptions.  Often people under the influence do not adhere to safe practices in the workplace.

Signs of possible drug abuse in the workplace can include:

  • Frequent disappearances
  • Excessive use of sick or personal days
  • Uncharacteristic behavior
  • Roller coaster work performance
  • Difficulty with relationships

Substance abuse often leads to a loss of productivity and may force others to pick up the slack. There is also a strong relationship to increased workplace injuries.

Employers should update their substance abuse policies regularly, making sure that marijuana and abuse of prescription drugs are included. For information on how a small business can set a policy, click here.

Here is a good article about tips for dealing with substance abuse problems in the workplace and here is a SAMHSA report for Washington State.

WRA employs Rick Means as a Safety & Claims Administrator who is available to members to help draw up safety plans and suggest topics for safety meetings. Contact him at 360-943-9198, Ext. 18 or rick.means@retailassociationservices.com.

Effect of Claims on Employees’ Paychecks

Many employers often try to find ways to get employees to do their jobs as safely as they can. A new way to accomplish this goal could be to explain that workplace accidents personally cost many employees in their paychecks.

Part of the insurance premium that L&I charges to state-funded employers can also pass on to employees in their paycheck if the employer chooses to deduct the employee portion from their wages for workers’ compensation premiums. Not all employers pass on the employee portion. But if your shop is accident prone, and your employer requires employees to contribute toward workers’ compensation insurance, everyone there will ‘feel’ it in their take home pay.

Rick Means, WRA’s Safety Advisor, reminds employers that working safely keeps insurance rates as low as possible, which also earns your shop accident-free discounts (just like your car insurance). Lower rates mean that the employee portion of the premium will also go down.

If you see a fellow employee doing something that is not safe, ask them to re-commit to working safely because accidents even cost employees who don’t get hurt. Put simply, a safe work environment can boost your take home pay.

Here is a link to an example of how much difference a safe workplace can make in reducing payroll insurance deductions.

Rick is available to members to help draft safety plans and suggest topics for safety meetings. Contact him at 360-943-9198 x18, or rick.means@retailassociationservices.com.

Be Vigilant About Forklift Safety

A forklift is a necessary tool at some of our membership’s retail workplaces. Just as important is the need to operate this machine safely. Many employees are injured when forklifts are inadvertently driven off loading docks or fall between docks and an unsecured trailer. Other workers are hurt when they are struck by a forklift, or when they fall while standing on elevated pallets and tines. Most incidents also involve property damage, including damage to overhead sprinklers, racking, pipes, walls, and other machinery. You also need to consider type of load, speed, incline and surface when operating a forklift.

Labor & Industries’ website details the case of a forklift fatality that occurred when an advertising sign company executive tipped over the machine as he was unloading steel tubing from a flatbed trailer. An inspection showed a faulty rear axle and steering mechanism compromised the stability of the forklift, which also was not equipped with a seatbelt.

Here are a couple of links to help you with forklift safety:

Powered Industrial Trucks (Lift trucks, Forklifts)

32-page guide on the safe operation of forklifts.

Just as pilots do a safety check before taking off, you should also do safety check every morning to make sure that your equipment is safe to use for the day.

WRA employs Rick Means as a Safety and Claims Administrator who is available to members to help draw up safety plans and suggest topics for safety meetings. Contact him at 360-200-6454, or rick.means@retailassociationservices.com.

Back Safety

Several factors can cause back pain including poor physical fitness, lack of flexibility, stress, poor posture, lack of rest, and participating in certain recreational activities.

Any of these factors combined with poor lifting practices are sure to cause a costly back injury.

There are helpful guidelines to help you avoid back pain or a more serious injury:

  • Is there a tool on hand that can make a lift easier?
  • Can I break it down into a more manageable load, or should I get extra help?
  • Remember to start your lift by standing close to the object, your feet should be spread at shoulder width, bend at the knees, keep your back straight and do not bend at the waist.
  • Tighten your abdominal muscles and lift with the muscles in your arms and legs, not your back.
  • If you must turn, do so by moving your feet, do not reach out and twist when holding an object.  When setting an object down, apply all of the same techniques.

To watch a slide show with helpful tips on lifting and avoiding back injuries, click here.

WRA employs Rick Means as a Safety and Claims Administrator who is available to members to help draw up safety plans and suggest topics for safety meetings. Contact him at 360-200-6454, or rick.means@retailassociationservices.com.

Annual Safety Inspection

The “best” accident is the one that never happens.

One of the best ways to avoid accidents is to perform a safety inspection at your company. It will help you identify hazards in your workplace so that you can eliminate or control them.

Start by reviewing your past accident history, giving you a good indication of hazards you should take special precautions to avoid. Make a list of those hazards to re-check as you do your safety inspection. Note that the “hazard” may also involve lack of employee training.

As you walk through your facility, take adequate time and be thorough, making detailed examination of all items that appear on your inspection checklist.  Many hazards can be corrected during the walk-through. Some items on your checklist may involve action items such as additional employee training regarding the use and operation of equipment and tools.

The product of your walk-through should be a record of items that did not meet safety standards and defects that need to be corrected.  Record your findings on your checklist, then make a separate list of action items. You can find a sample checklist here that you can modify to fit your business needs.

WRA employs Rick Means as a Safety & Claims Administrator. He’s available to members to help draw up safety plans and suggest topics for safety meetings. Contact him at 360-943-9198, Ext. 18 or rick.means@retailassociationservices.com.

Luckily Nothing Happened – This Time

Bob was in a hurry to get a product out of the stock room. He needed a ladder but couldn’t position it properly because another object was in his way. Regardless, he leaned the ladder incorrectly and climbed up to retrieve an item.

As Bob was coming down, he felt the ladder sliding to the right. He was able to correct his balance and made it down to the ground safely.

This incident is what many call a “close one.” Often, workers keep it to themselves and brush it off without a word.

Remaining silent is a missed opportunity.  What was close to becoming an accident needs to be addressed and discussed so that employees can agree on how to avoid a potential injury down the line.

Employers should encourage workers to report close ones so that improvements can be made, including sharpening up employee safety habits.

Scenarios like the slipping ladder happen in different ways and in different types of workplace and often involve dangerous power equipment. Too often, employees chalk it up to luck and keep it to themselves.

It’s better to share the experience and use it as a discussion point to amplify the importance of companies and employees committing to safety.

Bob’s experience also would be an opportunity to add proper use of ladders as a topic for your next safety meeting.

WRA employs Rick Means as Safety and Claims Coordinator. Rick is available to members to help draw up safety plans and suggest topics for safety meetings. Contact him at 360-943-9198, Ext. 18 or rick.means@retailassociationservices.com.

LNI Consultation

Rather than wonder how your company would stack up in a formal state safety inspection, you can find out for free.

In cooperation with WRA, Labor & Industries offers free and anonymous safety and health consultations. Though the inspection tour is free, you must make your employees available to the inspector for comments and must agree to correct any serious safety issues that are discovered in a timely manner.

Inviting such a visit might seem risky. You would be inviting the possibility of costs associated with any violations found. But you would not be subject to a fine, and, according to L&I, the consultations are not shared with the state enforcement staff.

A few WRA members told WRA’s Safety Advisor Rick Means that they scheduled such consultations and found them valuable.

“The more I thought about this, it was pretty smart,” Means said. “Here is a way of having a compliance-like officer come through your shop and point out what they would be looking for, at no charge and no fines.”

Before you schedule a consultation, contact Tammie Hetrick, WRA’s VP of Retail Services, at 360-943-9198, Ext. 13 or at Tammie@retailassociation.org.

In the end, the L&I official issues a report summarizing the findings. In unionized workplaces, an employee representative must be provided the opportunity to participate in the walk-through survey and opening and closing conferences.

For more information about a consultation, click here. To request a consultation click here.

 

WRA employs Means as a Safety & Claims Administrator who is available to help members with safety plans and suggestions for safety meeting topics. Contact him at 360-943-9198, Ext. 18 or rick.means@retailassociationservices.com.

Upcoming Changes to the Hazardous Chemical Program

You use to call them ‘MSDS’ sheets and that is changing this coming June to ‘SDS’. This change is essentially an enhancement to the current program leading to a more standardized data sheet/label/pictogram for each chemical. These new standards of product labeling will slowly be phased in creating a universal labeling program for everyone to follow.

Starting in June of 2014, employers will have to have all employees, who use chemicals as part of their normal work process, trained and familiarized to the new formats. Remember you must have a safety data sheet available in the workplace for each hazardous chemical they use as part of their regular work included in your Hazardous Communication Plan (which is part of your Accident Prevention Program, a plan of what to do if an exposure occurs). Here is another link that explains more about the upcoming changes.

A hazardous chemical is defined as, “A chemical for which there is statistically significant evidence based on at least one study conducted in accordance with established scientific principles that acute or chronic health effects may occur in exposed employees. The term “health hazard” includes chemicals which are carcinogens, toxic or highly toxic agents.

WRA employs Rick Means as a Safety & Claims Administrator who is available to help members with safety plans and suggestions for safety meeting topics. Contact him at 360-943-9198, Ext. 18 or rick.means@retailassociationservices.com.

CPR Now Comes with AED Training

If you have not taken this class in a while, there have been some changes and AED (Automated External Defibrillators) have become a part of the class. These portable electronic devices come complete for use in an emergency and are somewhat self-instructive, in that they ‘talk’ you through the steps, guiding you all the way.  Whether you have one in the store or not, you could find yourself in a location with one and it would be good to understand its operation and use.

There is also a second option CPR method of just doing chest compressions instead of the combination of breathing and compressions. This method requires more compressions per minute.  Performing the compressions only is a way to keep the blood circulating and get some oxygen to the brain. Although the lungs don’t get as much air as the mouth–to-mouth method, the compressions do cause the lungs to ‘breath’ a little, allowing some oxygen to enter the blood system.  You can still do the combination of breathing and compressions if you like.

WRA staff recently took a free CPR/AED class offered by our local Medic One and I would suggest that you give your local Medic One/Fire Department a call to make arrangements to have an EMT come to your location for training.

WRA employs Rick Means as a Safety and Claims Administrator who is available to members to help draw up safety plans and suggest topics for safety meetings. Contact him at 360-200-6454, or rick.means@retailassociationservices.com.

OSHA Injury Reporting Period Starts Next Week

Many of our members have to maintain annual accident logs for the prior year.  The Occupational Safety & Health Administration exempts many sorts of businesses from this reporting requirement depending on their risk class.  Retail members with 10 or fewer employees are exempt, but our larger retail and all automotive members will need to report.  Go here to see if you are exempt from reporting or contact Rick if you have questions.

If you have determined that you are a company that has to record, you should have the OSHA 300 form updated with ‘recordable’ incidents for all of 2013.  For a decision tree on what is considered recordable incidents go here.  The next step would be to transfer the OSHA 2013 log (form 300) totals onto the OSHA Summary sheet (300A).  The OSHA summary sheet, form 300A, will need to be posted from 2/1/2014 until 04/30/2014 on the safety bulletin board for all employees to review.  If you need forms go here.

The OSHA 300 form, a copy of the 300A form, and any other supporting paperwork, like copies of the Report of Accidents, should be kept in a binder in your office due to privacy of the information that is contained on some of that paperwork.  You need to keep five years of these forms on file (2008 and back can be tossed).

WRA employs Rick Means as a Safety and Claims Administrator who is available to members to help draw up safety plans and suggest topics for safety meetings. Contact him at 360-200-6454, or rick.means@retailassociationservices.com

Slips Trips Falls

Slips, trips, and falls are among the most common in work place accidents. Falls can cause serious injuries and even death.  Most slip, trip, and fall incidents are preventable with general precautions and safety measures.

Slip – A slip occurs when there is too little traction or friction between the shoe and the walking surface and can cause you to be off-balance.

Trip – A trip occurs when a person contacts an object in their way or drops to a lower level unexpectedly, causing them to be thrown off-balance.

Fall – A fall occurs when you are too far off balance.  There are two types of falls:

  • Same Level – Fall to the surface you are walking on. Same level falls are more common and are usually caused by slips and trips.
  • From Elevation – Fall from elevation are more severe and are usually caused by ladders, stairs, platforms, and loading docks.

Housekeeping is the first and the most fundamental level of preventing falls due to slips and trips.  Without good housekeeping practices, any other preventive measures such as installation of sophisticated flooring, specialty footwear or training on techniques of walking will never be fully effective. Other items that will help in preventing Slips, Trips and Falls:

  • Don’t be in a hurry
  • Don’t be distracted and focus on the task until it is competed
  • Wear appropriate shoes for the conditions
  • Get better lighting where needed
  • Balance the load that you are carrying

WRA employs Rick Means as a Safety and Claims Administrator who is available to members to help draw up safety plans and suggest topics for safety meetings. Contact him at 360-200-6454, or rick.means@retailassociationservices.com

Is Your Accident Prevention Program (APP) Current?

All employers in Washington State are required to create a written Accident Prevention Program (APP).  Many businesses regard their APP as the cornerstone of their overall safety program.  In order to meet written program and other APP requirements businesses will need to:

  • Look around to identify workplace hazards that could hurt employees.
  • Find and apply ways to reduce or eliminate hazards.
  • Provide a detailed safety orientation to employees so they understand the possible hazards of their particular job and how to work safely.

In addition to APP requirements, other health & safety program requirements may apply to your business depending on the activities and hazards in your workplace.

If you do not have an APP, you better get one going real soon, as OSHA inspectors have this item high on their checklist!  WRA has a basic template available to help you get started and Rick is available to help you fine tune it.

If you have a current APP but it is a few years old, take some time to review it and see if it is still meeting the needs of your company.  You most likely will find some things have changed and need to be updated.

It is the beginning of the New Year and a good time to be paying attention to some of these details that were put on the back burner during last holiday season.

Rick is available to members to help draw up safety plans and suggest topics for safety meetings. Contact him at 360-200-6454, or rick.means@retailassociationservices.com

Know the “Deadly Dozen” Causes of Accidents

It’s important to remember that workplace accidents have causes; they’re not the result of happenstance. Here is a list of what Labor & Industries calls “the deadly dozen” common reasons for accidents:

Unsafe Acts 

  1. Unauthorized use or operation of equipment.

  2. Failure to secure or tie down materials to prevent unexpected movement.

  3. Working or operating equipment too fast.

  4. Failure to issue warnings or signals as required.

  5. Using defective tools or equipment.

  6. Removing guards.

  7. Improperly using tools or equipment.

  8. Standing in an unsafe place or assuming an improper posture (as in lifting).

  9. Servicing moving equipment.

10. Riding equipment not designed for passengers.

11. Horseplay.

12. Failure to wear the proper personal protective equipment.

Unsafe Conditions 

  1. Lack of proper guards.

  2. Lack of a proper warning system.

  3. Fire and explosion hazards.

  4. Poor housekeeping.

  5. Unexpected movements.

  6. Protruding objects such as nails, wire, or other metals.

  7. Improper clearance or congestion at aisles or passageways.

  8. Poor placement, storage or arrangement of materials.

  9. Hazardous tools, equipment or materials.

10. Poor lighting, high noise levels.

11. Hazardous atmospheric conditions.

12. Improper personal attire

Pick one of these topics to present and discuss at your next Safety Meeting!

WRA employs Rick Means is a Safety and Claims Administrator who is available to members to help draw up safety plans and suggest topics for safety meetings. Contact him at 360-200-6454, or rick.means@retailassociationservices.com