Pinnacol Pointers: Staying Safe in the Sun

April 4, 2018


Did you know that outdoor workers are up to 3.5 times more likely than indoor workers to develop skin cancer? Employees who work outdoors also are at a higher risk of experiencing heat stress, which can bring on rashes, cramps, fainting spells, exhaustion and even heat stroke. These five sun safety tips can guide you in safeguarding your employees:

  1. Wear on sun-protective clothing.
  2. Apply SPF 30+ sunscreen.
  3. Cover your head with a sun hat.
  4. Protect your eyes with quality sunglasses.
  5. Shade yourself from the sun whenever possible.

UV radiation from the sun reflects off water, sand, concrete, light-colored surfaces and snow, which can harm the eyes. These surfaces can considerably increase the strength of the sun’s damaging rays, so employees who work in these areas should exercise extra precaution.

Important to Know

  • Sunlight exposure is highest during the summer and between 10:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m.
  • Workers are exposed to UV radiation even on cloudy days.
  • Many drugs and medications increase sensitivity to sunlight and the risk of sunburn. These include thiazides, diuretics, tetracycline, doxycycline, sulfa antibiotics and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as ibuprofen.

 

Is your workplace sun-safe?

  • Consider a sun and heat safety policy and include responsibilities in job descriptions.
  • Sync scheduled breaks with times when sunlight exposure is greatest, and provide shade, water and protective equipment.
  • Provide your workers with practical information, resources and training.
  • Schedule employee screenings and encourage self-exams for sunburn and skin cancer.

 

Pinnacol and other resources
For information and standards that can improve your organization’s sun safety, visit the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and American Cancer Society websites. For workplace posters, forms, online training and more, visit Pinnacol’s Knowledge Center webpages. Or call Pinnacol’s Safety On Call hotline at (303)361-4700 or (888)501-4752. Our Safety Services team stands ready to answer questions and help keep your employees safe from the sun’s hazards.

Steps to Improve Sleep and Worker Safety

March 9, 2018

It’s time to wake up and smell the coffee. Sleep deprivation is a problem in America — at a cost to employees and employers. Here are the facts:

The good news is there are helpful, time-tested tips for employers and employees.

 

Tips for employers

  • Evaluate and reconsider workloads, hours, understaffing and worker absences — scheduled and unscheduled.
  • Set work schedules to permit rest breaks and nighttime sleep.
  • Adjust the lighting, temperature and worksite surroundings to keep your workers alert.
  • Educate and train your employees on sleep deprivation, effects on wellness and the workplace, tips for better sleep (see below), and the benefits of diet and exercise.
  • Develop worksite wellness program that improves population health and reduces health risks.
  • Consider a fatigue risk management plan for your organization (see Resources).

 

Tips for employees

  • Get seven to nine hours of sleep every day.
  • Follow a sleep routine. Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day.
  • Eliminate unnecessary light.
  • Don’t eat right before bed.
  • Avoid alcohol, caffeine and stimulants.
  • Don’t watch TV or use electronic devices at bedtime.

 

Additional resources
Additional workplace resources and educational content are available from OSHA, the National Safety Council and the National Healthy Sleep Awareness Project. And contact us at Safety On Call at safetyoncall@pinnacol.com or 303.361-4700 or 888-501-4752. Our Safety Services team is here to answer questions, provide materials and help your organization maintain a well-rested workforce for a safer, healthier and more productive workplace.

Six Steps to Effective, Compliant Hazard Communication

February 9, 2018


Inadequate, noncompliant hazard communication can lead to worker injuries, even death. OSHA’s Hazard Communication Standard (HCS) ensures employees’ right to know and understand the potential hazards of chemicals they work with, as well as safeguards to protect themselves.
OSHA sets forth the following six steps to effective hazard communication:

  1. Identify a point person for hazard communication — This employee is responsible for obtaining safety data sheets (SDSs), planning employee training and managing other elements of program implementation at your organization.
  2. Develop and implement the plan — Hazard communication requires a plan that explains how your organization will conduct its program. The plan should list hazardous chemicals at your worksites and specify labeling, SDSs, training and communication protocols.
  3. Label all containers — Ensure all containers in your facility are labeled. If your organization manufactures or ships chemicals, label them. Labels must include specific information set forth in the Classification and Labeling of Chemicals section below.
  4. Make SDSs available — Obtain an SDS for each hazardous chemical at your workplace, and make SDSs readily available to workers. If you make SDSs available only electronically, make sure there’s a way to provide the SDSs in the event of a power failure or emergency. If you receive chemical deliveries, suppliers should provide accompanying SDSs; if they don’t, request the SDSs.
  5. Formally educate employees — Train employees before they begin work near hazardous chemicals and when new hazards are introduced to the workplace. Conduct multilingual training to accommodate a diverse workforce, and ensure that employees understand the hazards and your organization’s protective measures and equipment.
  6. Evaluate and enhance hazard communication — Periodically evaluate, update and enhance your organization’s program, especially when new hazards are introduced. OSHA’s HCS mandates that hazard communication remains up-to-date, comprehensive and tailored to your organization.

Classification and Labeling of Chemicals

OSHA’s HCS provides classification criteria for the hazards of chemicals, as well as a standardized approach to creating SDSs and labels. Your SDSs must follow a specified 16-section format, and labels must include the following six elements:

  • A product name or identifier, such as “WD-40”
  • A signal word, such as “danger” or “warning”
  • Pictogram(s)
  • Hazard statement(s)
  • Precautionary statement(s)
  • The name, address and telephone number of the chemical manufacturer, importer or other responsible party

Resources
For more information, visit OSHA’s hazard communication webpage. Another helpful resource is the Society of Chemical Hazard Communication. Also, check out Pinnacol’s hazard communication webpages for further information and downloads of a sample written hazard communication program, training materials and more. Pinnacol offers J.J. Keller safety resources on this topic, including training videos, interactive training and safety talks. Or contact Pinnacol’s Safety On Call at safetyoncall@pinnacol.com or 303.361.4700 or 888.501.4752. Our Safety Services Team stands ready to answer questions, provide materials, and help your organization remain compliant and keep your employees safe, healthy and productive.

E-submissions of injury data to OSHA — Who needs to do it, how and by when in 2018 (Hint: Caterers do but Restaurants do not)

January 24, 2018

Many employers are required to use OSHA’s Injury Tracking Application (ITA), which debuted in August last year, to submit their annual summary injury data. New Year’s Eve marked the revised deadline to submit 2016 injury data, and we want to remind you of 2018 deadlines to submit 2017 data.

By July 1 this year, employers with at least 250 employees must submit information to the ITA website from 2017 Forms 300, 300A and 301. By July 1, establishments with 20 to 249 workers in specified industries  (including Caterers) — ones with historically high rates of occupational injuries and illnesses — must enter data from form 300A. In 2019 and beyond, OSHA’s deadline for electronic submissions moves up to March 2.

How to submit data electronically
Electronic data submissions involve a five-step process:
1.  Launch the ITA application from the OSHA webpage.
2.  Create an establishment.
3.  Add 300A summary data.
4.  Submit data to OSHA.
5.  Review OSHA’s confirmation email.

The ITA website will offer three options for submitting data securely: enter data manually, upload a CSV file to submit single or multiple establishments at the same time or use an application programming interface to submit data from the employer’s automated recordkeeping system. The ITA website also will include reporting requirements, an FAQ section and a link for assistance.

Pinnacol resources
Pinnacol’s here to help. As a Pinnacol customer, you can use our OSHA Report Manager. This online tool helps your organization comply with OSHA’s electronic submission requirements and save time in the process. Use the OSHA Report Manager to generate your business’s OSHA 300, 300A and 301 logs. And now, to make submissions even easier, the OSHA Report Manager generates data in the OSHA-approved CSV file format. You can access this tool through Pinnacol’s policyholder portal or by visiting our OSHA recordkeeping webpage. There you’ll find a toolkit to aid compliance, OSHA 300 and 300A logs, and more. We invite you to contact your Pinnacol safety consultant or contact us on our Safety On Call line at 303.361.4700 or 888.501.4752. Pinnacol stands ready to assist your organization in meeting OSHA’s electronic submission requirements.

Here’s further information about the new federal rule from OSHA, as well as the federal register entry.

Trump administration may rescind rule
The Trump administration has taken steps to amend or even rescind OSHA’s electronic recordkeeping rule. And on Oct. 10, 2017, OSHA filed an update that it “continues to develop a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to ‘reconsider, revise or remove provisions of the [rule],’” as announced in Pres. Trump’s First Regulatory (and Deregulatory) Agenda issued last July. Pinnacol will monitor these developments and apprise you of any changes. Currently, though, all elements of OSHA’s recordkeeping rule remain in effect, and employers should submit injury and illness recordkeeping data to OSHA as required.

Pinnacol Pointers: Winter Driving and Keeping Workers Safe on Snowy, Sleety Roads

December 10, 2017

Last year motor vehicle crashes cost Pinnacol policyholders an average of $17,980. According to OSHA, when a worker has an on-the-job crash that results in an injury, the cost to the employer is $74,000, and costs can exceed $500,000 when a fatality is involved. In fact, vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death among our nation’s workers. This time of year, wintry roads can prove especially hazardous.

 

Ensure vehicle systems are working properly
Now is a good time to encourage your employees to perform the following vehicle maintenance:

  • Scheduled maintenance: Schedule service for an oil change, coolant flush and brake inspection based on the mileage and manufacturer’s maintenance schedule. Address any maintenance issues with the vehicle’s battery, electrical system, hoses and belts.
  • Fluids: Check to ensure proper oil, coolant, transmission and other fluid levels.
  • Tires: Check for proper tread depth and for signs of damage or uneven wear. Ensure tires are properly inflated.
  • Visibility systems: Inspect turn signals, headlights, brake lights, defrosters (windshield and rear window) and wipers. Install winter windshield wipers.

For more detailed inspection checklists, visit the Colorado Department of Transportation pre- and post-trip vehicle safety checklist and Pinnacol’s vehicle safety checklist.

 

Outfit vehicles with emergency essentials
Workers should be encouraged to outfit their vehicles for winter with emergency kits that include the following items:

  • Cellphone or two-way radio
  • Windshield ice scraper
  • Extra windshield wiper fluid
  • Snow brush
  • Flashlight with extra batteries
  • Shovel
  • Traction aids (bag of sand or granular cat litter)
  • Emergency flares
  • Jumper cables
  • Snacks
  • Water
  • Road maps
  • Blankets, change of warm clothes

 

Pinnacol Resources
For more information on shoring up winter driving safety at your organization, visit Pinnacol.com for articles, checklists, workplace posters and employee training resources. Additional resources are available on the websites of the Occupational Safety & Health Administration, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and National Safety Council. Or contact Pinnacol’s Safety On Call online or at 303.361.4700 or 888.501.4752. Our safety services team stands ready to answer questions and help keep your workforce safe behind the wheel this winter.

Pinnacol Pointers: Improve Ergonomics to Reduce Worker Strain Injuries

August 1, 2017

Did you realize that musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) are among the most frequently reported causes of lost or restricted work time? According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, MSD cases accounted for 31 percent of all worker injury and illness cases in 2015.

MSDs comes into play whenever soft-tissue strain results from improper or repetitive body movements, as well as lack of motion.

 

What to Do

Working over long periods of time in awkward postures without taking breaks can greatly increase your employees’ risk for musculoskeletal injuries. Proper workstation setup and layout, good fit with a quality task chair and posture changes throughout the day are the most effective ways to reduce the risk of overuse injuries. Reorganizing work so employees can stand and walk every 30 to 45 minutes, for example, is a no-cost approach to reduce the effects of sitting in a static posture.

 

What Not to Do

Look for these common awkward postures at your employees’ workstations and inform workers of these risk factors for injury:

  • Working in a seated, static position for more than 30 minutes without standing or walking.
  • Sitting so far forward in a chair that the back is unsupported or, worse, slouching forward over the keyboard.
  • Working with elbows extended in front of the body, which creates muscle tension in the upper back.
  • Cradling the phone for long periods while performing keyboard/mouse work.
  • Entering data from a document that is face down on the desk, requiring awkward neck flexion or twisting.
  • Placing contact stress on soft tissues, such as resting wrists on a hard, sharp desktop edge while using a computer mouse.

 

Pinnacol Resources

Pinnacol is here to educate policyholders and improve the ergonomic setup and layout of your computer workstations. Visit the Knowledge Center on Pinnacol’s website to view our interactive office ergonomics video. A host of additional downloads – FAQs; guidelines for choosing an ergonomic chair and workstation setup, a stretching and warm-up exercise handout, and equipment procurement and use checklists – can help prevent musculoskeletal strains and injuries to your workers. You can order a computer DVD copy of the interactive video program from Pinnacol’s Order Materials webpage under the DVD Training & Resources section. Your organization can make copies of the DVD and distribute them to employees or even copy the files to your organization’s intranet.

Pinnacol partners with Office Relief, an ergonomic chairs and accessories supplier with discounted prices for Pinnacol customers. Office Relief offers one-stop shopping for purchasing high-quality task chairs, sit/stand workstations, keyboards, mice and various other desk accessories to improve the ergonomic setup of the workstation. Contact Office Relief’s Jeff Bellamy at (720) 232.5637 or jbellamy@officerelief.com. Identify yourself as a Pinnacol customer to receive a product catalog with Pinnacol’s preferred pricing. Bellamy provides onsite services, as well, such as free chair demos.

You can also contact Pinnacol’s Safety On Call online or at 303.361.4700 or 888.501.4752. Our Safety Services team is committed to helping you keep your organization’s employees healthy, productive and injury-free.