As backwards as it sounds, working in the cold in many ways is similar to working in the heat: you have to be prepared. You have to be equipment with the proper tools, clothing, and eventually get accustomed to it. Many of you do not realize you begin preparing for this the night before, and early mornings. You gather layers of clothes, start your vehicle, and possibly prepare a warmer meal.
Here are some reminders about staying healthy, safe, and dressing for winter weather:
- The average body temperature is 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit. When your body drops below 95 degrees Fahrenheit, it is considered hypothermia.
- Signs and symptoms of hypothermia include: Shivering, exhaustion or feelings tired, confusion, fumbling hands, memory loss, slurred speech, and drowsiness.
- Severe hypothermia
- Signs and Symptoms: Shivering stops, extreme confusion, decline in consciousness, a weak/irregular pulse, slow and shallow breathing, or coma that can result in death.
- Contact plant emergency or local emergency if employee begins to have these signs and symptoms.
- Severe hypothermia
- Proper clothing
- Wear three layers of loose-fitting clothing, which provides better insulation.
- Inner layer: Wool, silk or synthetic material, to keep moisture away from the body.
- Middle layer: Wool or synthetic to provide insulation if wet
- Outer layer: Water and rain proof that is breathable, to ventilation.
- Wear the right gloves, with proper insulation to keep warm and prevent frostbite.
- Wear a hat to prevent heat from escaping through your head.
- Proper footwear that has adequate tread to prevent slips or trips, and waterproof to keep your feet dry.
- Wear three layers of loose-fitting clothing, which provides better insulation.
- Get plenty of rest and Eat healthy
- Performing work in the cold, and driving to/from work burns a lot of energy.
- Eat a meal with enough calories and nutrients which provides you with the energy needed to perform your work. Start your day with a hearty breakfast.
One of the most hazardous parts of our jobs is driving to work every day. We often talk about distracted driving when talking about driving safety, but there are so many more aspects to staying safe while on the road.
Inspect your car/ truck before you leave every day.
- Make sure ties are inflated properly, and there is enough tread on your tires for proper traction.
- The vehicle isn’t leaking any fluids.
- After you start the vehicle does it make any strange noises.
- Does your car/ truck need to have the oil changed.
If you find anything wrong with your car / truck especially if it is a company vehicle make sure you report it and get if fixed immediately.
Driving in adverse weather conditions.
- As with any hazard if you can eliminate driving during bad weather this should always be your first choice, but if not, there are several things you can do to improve your safety on the road.
- Make sure you give yourself plenty of time to arrive at your destination, this means slow down.
- Always plan for the worst. Make sure you have a blanket and some water in the car if you’re going to be traveling in remote areas during the winter.
- Give other drivers more space on the road than you would on a normal dry sunny day.
- If you’re driving in the fog make sure you only use your low beam head lights, hi beams will only make it more difficult to see.
The four basic principles:
- Seeing and being seen– Even though you may think that you’re in plain sight of everyone else on the road assume they can’t see you, this means always using your turn signals and braking in a timely manner so that someone behind or beside you have enough time to react.
- Having heightened awareness– Constantly scan your surroundings and checking your mirrors, always be on the lookout for potential hazards in front of you, this could be for road debris, accidents, and anything that could potentially become a problem.
- Managing your speed and space– Have a good safety cushion around your vehicle at all times so you have time to respond to hazards. Always obey posted speed limits, unless traffic or weather conditions demand that you drive slower than what’s posted. Understand how much stopping distance you’ll need based on conditions. If you are being followed too closely, get in the right lane and allow tailgaters to get past you.
- Having the right attitude– Attitude is everything when you drive. You can’t avoid sharing the road with motorists no matter how badly you think their driving may be, and remember they may be thinking the same thing. However, if you have the right attitude about it, and follow safe driving rules yourself, at least you can control the situation.
As this year comes to an end and begin the holiday seasons, it’s important to remember to get enough rest. 2020 has been challenging for everyone and it seems like we are all tired and ready to get through the holidays, and onto a new year. However, we must remember to manage our mental and physical fatigue as best as possible to ensure that we complete our work and daily tasks safely, and without an incident.
What is fatigue?
Fatigue is the state of feeling very tired, exhausted, weary, or sleepy. Fatigue results from a lack of sleep and can be heightened from prolonged mental activity or long periods of stress or anxiety. Boring or repetitive tasks can also increase feelings of tiredness. We can also be fatigued from information overload, which has been a constant aspect of our lives in the past year. This is why we all need to look out for each other, and ensure that we do our best to manage our risk and fatigue.
How can we manage our fatigue?
Under regular circumstances, adults need 7–9 hours of sleep per night, along with opportunities for rest while awake, optimal health, and well-being. Long work hours and shift work, combined with stressful or physically demanding work, can lead to poor sleep and extreme fatigue. Fatigue increases the risk for injury and deteriorating health (infections, illnesses, and mental health disorders).
Some things that we can do while we are at work include:
- Using a buddy system. Check in with each other to ensure everyone is coping with work hours and demands.
- Watch yourself and your coworkers for signs of fatigue — like yawning, difficulty keeping your eyes open, and difficulty concentrating. When you see something, say something to your coworkers so you can prevent workplace injuries and errors.
- Report any fatigue-related events or near misses to your foreman or safety to help prevent future incidents, injuries, and errors.
- Do not work if your fatigue threatens the safety of yourself or others. Report to a manager when you feel too tired to work safely.
Priorities we can work on outside of work:
- Make sleep a priority
- Improve the quality and quantity of your sleep; have a regular bed time routine, make sure your bedroom is dark, cool and comfortable, and seek treatment for sleep disorders
- Choose what you eat and drink carefully: eat light nutritious meals (heavy meals make you drowsy); drink plenty of water; minimize your caffeine and alcohol intake
- Learn the warning signs of fatigue and try to recognize them in yourself so that you can take a break or have a powernap
- Finally remember to continue ensuring you and your family are taking all precautions necessary to limit the spread of COVID -19 during the holidays.
With the start of summer and increased temperatures it is important to know what you can do to reduce the risk of a heat related illness and what to do if one of these types of situation was to occur. Heat related illnesses are progressive conditions caused by overexposure to heat. If they are recognized in the early stages they can usually be reversed. If they are not caught early, they may progress to life threatening conditions.
Measures to Prevent Heat Stress`1q2`
- Engineering controls include general ventilation, personal cooling devices or protective clothing.
- Work practice controls include drinking plenty of fluids. It is recommended that you drink one glass of water (8 ounces) every 15 to 20 minutes, depending on the heat and humidity.
- Alternating work and rest periods with more rest periods in cool areas can help workers avoid heat stress. If possible, heavy work should be scheduled during the cooler part of the day.
- Acclimatization to the heat through short exposures followed by longer periods of work in the hot environment can reduce heat stress.
- Read medication labels to know how to cause the body to react to the sun and heat.
- Avoid alcohol and drugs, they can increase the effects of heat.
- Employees shall be educated so they are aware of the need to replace fluids and salt lost through sweat and can recognize dehydration, exhaustion, fainting, heat cramps, salt deficiency, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke.
Types of Heat Illness
Heat Cramps – Are severe muscle spasms that often begin suddenly in the hands, calves or feet they are painful and disabling. The muscles become hard, tense and difficult to relax. They are caused by salt depletion as sweat losses are replaced by water alone. Heat cramps result from over exertion and heavy sweating.
Heat Exhaustion – Causes excessive fluid loss form heavy sweating, leading to increased fatigue, weakness, anxiety, drenching sweats, low blood pressure, faintness and sometimes collapse. Heat exhaustion results from prolonged exposure to extreme heat for many hours. The over heating is due to the electrolytic fluid loss that reduces blood volume, which lowers blood pressure and the pulse.
Heat Stroke – Is a life-threatening condition is caused by over exertion and over exposure to extreme heat environments. Heat stroke is imminent when the core body temperature approaches 106 F any higher may result in coma or even death. The symptoms are dizziness, weakness, emotional instability, nausea/vomiting, confusion, delirium, blurred vision, convulsions, collapse and unconsciousness. The skin is flushed, hot to the touch, and at first may be covered with sweat that soon dries. Be aware of these warning signs.
First Aid Measures
Heat Stroke: Move the victim to a cool place. Remove heavy clothing; light clothing can be left in place.
Immediately cool the victim by any available means. This can be accomplished by placing ice packs at areas with abundant blood supply (neck, armpits, and groin). Wet towels or sheets are also effective. The cloths should be kept wet with cool water. Continue to cool the victim until their temperature drops to 102 degrees Fahrenheit to prevent hyperthermia. Keep the victim’s head and shoulders slightly elevated. Seek medical attention immediately. All heat stroke victims need hospitalization. Care for seizures if they occur. Do not use aspirin or acetaminophen.
Heat exhaustion: Move the victim to a cool place. Keep the victim lying down with legs straight and elevated 8 to 12 inches. Cool the victim by applying cold packs or wet towels or cloths. Fan the victim.
Give the victim cold water if he or she is fully conscious. If no improvement is noted within 30 minutes, seek medical attention.
If any employee shows signs or symptoms of a heat related illness the Safety Department must be notified immediately.
Electricity is something we use on an everyday basis, it is something we cannot see, but can become very dangerous if not handled with the proper respect and care. Even exposure to low voltages can cause severe injury or even death.
The following are a list of safety rules to follow when working with electrical equipment:
- Inspect equipment before use to ensure it is in good working order. If the equipment is defective remove from service, tag it out and report it to your supervisor immediately. Inspect extension cords, power tools and equipment before each use for cuts, exposed wires, missing ground, etc.
- Electrical equipment shall be grounded or double insulated in accordance with subpart K.
- Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCIs) shall be used at all times at the power source with electrical equipment and power tools. They shall be inspected and tested before each use.
- Extension cords shall not be run through doorways, walkways, windows or roads unless they are protected.
- A minimum clearance of 10 ft must be maintained from any uninsulated overhead power line. No work shall be conducted within 10 ft of an overhead power line unless the line has been de-energized and visibly grounded.
- Never remove the ground prong or use power tools or extension cords with the ground prong missing.
- Never overload electrical receptacles.
- Only employees trained and authorized may repair electrical equipment.
- Appropriate PPE shall be used when it is possible to come in contact with exposed electrical parts. It shall be inspected before each use and if found defective removed from service.
- Non-conductive head protection shall be worn if there is a chance of electrical burns or shock from contact with exposed energized parts. Protective eye or face equipment shall be used if the employee is exposed to electrical arcs/flashes or from flying objects due to electricity.
- All temporary lighting must have cage guards over them to prevent breakage of the bulbs and shall be hung by its insulator. If a bulb is broken the power source must be disconnect and the bulb replace immediately.
- Remember even low voltages can cause severe injury or even death.
- Never mix electricity and water.
- All temporary power panels shall have covers.
- Do not use electrical cords for hoisting or lowing power tools, materials or equipment.
- If work must be done on equipment the equipment must be deenergized and locked and tagged out. The equipment must be verified to be deenergized before work begins. If equipment is locked or tagged out no employee shall attempt to operate the machinery.