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Heat Stress and Related Illnesses

ToolboxTalkDuring 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 situations 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

  • Engineering controls include general ventilation, personal cooling devices or protective clothing.
  • Work practice controls include drinking plenty of water.  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 they cause the body to react to the sun and heat.
  • Avoid alcohol and drugs, as 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: Severe muscle spasms that often begin suddenly in the hands, calves or feet.  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 from 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: A life threatening condition 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 goes home due to what may be a heat related illness or is displaying symptoms of a heat related illness, notify the Safety Department immediately.

Hearing Protection

Gribbins Insulation - Toolbox Talk

Gribbins Insulation must institute a training program for all employees with noise exposures at or above the action level (85 decibels) and ensure participation.  This training must be repeated annually for each employee in the hearing conservation program.  Training must be updated to be consistent with changes in protective equipment and work processes.

Gribbins Insulation must ensure that each employee is informed of the following:  the effects of noise on hearing, the purpose of hearing protectors, the advantages, disadvantages and attenuation of various types and instructions of selection, fitting, use and care and the purpose of audiometric testing and an explanation of test procedures.

Physics of Sound

Sound is the physical phenomenon that stimulates our sense of hearing.  It is an acoustic wave that results when a vibrating source, such as machinery, disturbs an elastic medium, such as air.  In air, sound is usually described as variations of pressure above and below atmospheric pressure.  These fluctuations, commonly called sound pressure, develop when a vibrating surface forms areas of high and low pressure which transmit from the source as sound.

The ear is the organ that makes hearing possible.  It can be divided into three sections:  External outer ear, air filled middle ear and fluid filled inner ear.

The function of the ear is to gather, transmit and perceive sounds from the environment.  This involves three stages:

  1. Modification of the acoustic wave by the outer ear, which receives the wave and directs it to the eardrum.
  2. Conversion and amplification of the modified acoustic wave to a vibration of the eardrum (transmitted through the middle ear to the inner ear).
  3. Transformation of the mechanical movement of the wave into nerve impulses that will travel to the brain, which then perceives and interprets the impulse as sound.

 

Effects of Excessive Exposure

Although noise-induced hearing loss is one of the most common occupation illnesses, it is often ignored because there are no visible effects.  Hearing loss usually develops over a long period of time, and, except in very rare cases, there is no pain.  What does occur is a progressive loss of communication, socialization and responsiveness to the environment.  In its early stages (when hearing loss is above 2,000 Hz) it affects the ability to understand or discriminate speech.  As it progresses to the lower frequencies, it begins to affect the ability to hear sounds in general.

The three main types of hearing loss are conductive, sensorineural or a combination of the two.

The effects of noise can be simplified into three general categories:

  • Primary Effects, which includes noise induced temporary threshold shift, noise induced permanent threshold shift, acoustic trauma and tinnitus (ringing in the ears).
  • Effects on Communication and Performance, which may include isolation, annoyance, difficulty concentrating, absenteeism and accidents.
  • Other Effects, which may include stress, muscle tension, ulcers, increased blood pressure and hypertension.  In some cases, the effects of hearing loss may be classified by cause.

Use of Foam Ear Plugs

The Noise Reduction Rating (NRR) is the rating of each type of hearing protection should be located on the packaging for that type of hearing protection.  If the NRR is 33 (dB) and the environmental noise level is 92 dBA then the noise entering the ear is approximately equal to 59 dBA, if hearing protection is worn correctly.

Fitting Instructions: Hands and plugs should be clean before fitting.

  • Step 1 – Roll plug slowly with thumb and fingers.  Gradually increase pressure to compress plug to a very thin crease free cylinder.
  • Step 2 – Insert compressed plug well into earcanal while pulling ear outward and upward with the opposite hand.
  • Step 3 – Check the fit after the plug expands in the ear.  You should feel only the end of the plug.  If you feel most of the plug outside the earcanal remove plug and repeat fitting.  Listen to steady noise with plugs in both ears.  Cover ears with tightly cupped hands.  The noise should sound about the same whether or not your ears are covered.

Ladders

100% Fall Protection Policy for ladder usage above 6 feet:

Anytime an employee is working from a ladder or climbing a ladder above 6 feet, 100% tie off will be required. If 100% tie off cannot be maintained above 6 feet, other options should be used such as aerial lifts or scaffolds. If 100% tie off cannot be used and the work cannot be accessed by aerial lifts or scaffolds, the foreman shall contact the safety manager to give written permission on how to proceed.
Ladders are a vital part of our work, but present a major safety hazard when used improperly. A poorly maintained or improperly used ladder may collapse under the load place on it and cause the employee to fall. Reasons for injuries while working from ladders include but are not limited to: user wasn’t instructed on how to inspect the ladder, ladder involved broke during use, non-self supporting ladder wasn’t secured at top or bottom, ladder didn’t extend 3 feet above landing level, the ladder involved had more than one defect or ladder was used incorrectly.

Gribbins Insulation - Toolbox Talk

Type of ladders include:

  • Stepladder – A self-supporting portable ladder that is non-adjustable in length. They shall not be longer than 20 feet, shall be equipped with spreaders of sufficient size and strength to securely hold the front and back sections open, shall not be used as straight ladders
  • Single Ladder – A non-self supporting portable ladder that is non-adjustable. They shall not be more than 30 feet
  • Extension Ladder – A non-self supporting portable ladder adjustable in length. They shall not be more than 60 feet

General Requirements:

  • Ladders shall be placed with a secure footing on an even surface when possible. If this is not possible they shall be secured at the top and bottom to prevent slipping.
  • Ladders shall not be used on slippery surfaces or when hands, shoes or rungs are slippery.
  • Ladders place in any location where they can be displaced by workplace activities or traffic, such as passageways, doorways or driveways, shall be secured to prevent accidental displacement and/or barricades shall be used to keep the activities or traffic away from the ladder.
  • Straight ladders must extend 3 feet above the landing level and be secured. This provides a secure point of support when stepping off the ladder or landing level.
  • The ladder shall be angled at a 4 to 1 ratio. 4 feet vertical to 1 foot horizontal.
  • Ladders shall not be used to extend the working height on a scaffold.
  • The top step or top of a ladder or cross bracing shall not be used as a step.
  • Three points of contact shall be maintained while climbing a ladder.
  • Always face the ladder and keep yourself in the center of ladder. Belt buckle between rails.
  • Make sure surfaces are dry and free of slippery substances.
  • Metal ladders shall never be used near electrical equipment.
  • The area around the top and bottom of the ladder or stairway shall be kept clear of materials, debris, tools, etc.
  • Ladders shall not be moved, shifted or extended while occupied.
  • Do not twist your body while working from a ladder, adjust your ladders location instead to gain access to work area.
  • Always use handrail when ascending or descending stairways. When carrying materials keep a clear view of the path of travel.
  • Do not carry objects, materials, tools or loads up a ladder.
  • If a ladder is placed in an area where a fall could propel you over a handrail, 100% fall protection is required. A rule of thumb 1 ft back from the guardrail for every step you are up on the ladder and then add 2 ft to the distance.

Inspections
Ladders shall be inspected before each use before each use for defects and at least quarterly by a competent person. If it is found to be defective it shall be tagged out and removed from service. The inspection should include: checking rungs, braces and top for bends, splits, cracks or other defects, checking locks and guides to insure they are fully functional, checking all hardware items to insure they are functional, checking all metal components for excessive rust or corrosion, checking rivets to insure head and crimp are intact, checking bolts and nuts to insure they are tight and threads are not stripped, checking crimps and swages for looseness, cracking or other conditions, checking welds for cracks or damage, checking safety shoes to insure shoes and treads are in good condition, checking rope and pulley for damage, checking leveling devices for condition and proper operation and checking hooks, grips and lashes for condition and proper operation.

Fire Protection and Prevention Training

 

Employers are required to implement fire protection and prevention programs in their workplaces.  The following is information on the fire triangle, different types of fires and extinguishers, extinguisher use and fire prevention.

A fire is a chemical reaction that requires three elements to be present for the reaction to take place and continue.  These three elements are heat (ignition source), fuel and oxygen.  These elements are usually referred to as the fire triangle.  If one of these elements is not present or removed, a fire will not start or a fire that is burning will be extinguished.  Ignition sources can include torches, welding or grinding or any other operation or equipment that emits a spark or flame.  Fuel sources can include combustible materials, flammable liquids and flammable gasses.

Fires are broken down into 5 categories A, B, C, D or K.  Class A fires involve ordinary combustibles, such as paper, trash, wood or some plastics, these fires usually leave ash.  Class B fires involve flammable gases or liquids.  Class C fires involve energized electrical components.  Class D fires involve metal (aluminum, magnesium, beryllium and sodium).  Class K fires involve vegetable or animal cooking oils or fats.

Fire Extinguishers

There are many different types of fire extinguishers designed to extinguish different classes of fires.  Most extinguishers on a construction site are A,B,C.  Before using an extinguisher, know what type of fire you are extinguishing and that the extinguisher is for that class, if not it can make the fire worse. All employees shall be trained to use a fire extinguisher and training shall be conducted annually thereafter.

If you must use a fire extinguisher, remember the “PASS” methods of early stage fire fighting.  PASS stands for Pull the pin on the extinguisher, Aim at the base of the fire, Squeeze the handle and Sweep side to side at the base of the fire.  If you are trained and the fire is in the incipient stage you can use the fire extinguisher to try and extinguish the fire, but remember to keep yourself between the fire and an escape route in case it doesn’t extinguish or grows.  If a fire cannot be extinguished using one full extinguisher, you should evacuate the area and let the fire department handle.

A 2A fire extinguisher shall be provided for each 3,000 sf.  Travel distance from any point to the nearest extinguisher shall not exceed 100’.  There should be at least one 2A fire extinguisher per floor.  In multistory buildings they shall be located adjacent to stairways.  A 10B extinguisher shall be provided within 50’ of an area with 5 gallons of flammable or combustible liquids are stored or used. Extinguishers shall be inspected on a monthly basis and maintained fully charged.

Fire Prevention

Only approved, closed containers shall be used for the storage of flammable and combustible liquids.  When transferring flammable or combustible liquids from one container to another, the two containers must be bonded together to prevent static electricity.  Safety cabinets allow for larger storage of flammable and combustible liquids indoors.  60 gallons or less of flammable liquids or 120 gallons or less of combustible liquids may be stored in a safety cabinet and up to three cabinets may be stored in one room.  The cabinet must be labeled “Flammable-Keep Fire Away”.  If a cabinet is not used only 25 gallons of either flammable or combustible liquids are allowed to be stored inside a building.  Outside storage requires containers not to exceed 1,100 gallons in any one pile or area, piles shall be separated by a 5’ clearance, piles and tanks must be at least 20 feet away from a building, tanks that exceed 2,200 gallons shall be separated by a 5’ clearance and individual tanks greater than 1,100 gallons shall be separated by a 5’ clearance.

2018 Q1 Safety Stars!

The Gribbins Safety STAR Program is a positive recognition program for all of our employees.  Any employee can nominate any other employee!  Each quarter, the safety department, area managers, and field coordinators will review all nominations and select up to 5 winners.  The winner and the nominator will each receive 20 bonus safety points.

Thanks to everyone who nominated a fellow employee!  During the voting process, all names and identifying characteristics are removed to ensure a fair vote.  The more detailed nominations seem to result in the winnings.  Give specific reasons and actions to describe why someone deserves to be recognized, so that you and the person you’ve nominated can win!

Click here for the nomination form.

Congratulations to the winners from the first three months of 2018!

Ken Heatherly – While removing insulation around a steam line valve, Kenny noticed white, suspected asbestos material butted up to the fiberglass he was removing. He left the area immediately and reported the finding. The material was sampled and work suspended in that area until results are received.  

Stevie and Reggie Henderson – Two employees repairing metal on the Precip roof 100′ from ground level. This task requires removing several sheets of metal to access the sub girt system which broke loose from windy weather. After taking the lift to the 100′ level to survey damage and remove a few sheets, both decided the situation with the wind was not safe and came down. 

Justin Kraus – Justin paid great attention to detail while instructing a new insulator foreman the proper procedures to take at Toyota while working on a night shift job. Justin explained the JSA process in great detail. He offered multiple suggestions to the new foreman as to how to remain safe while securing pins to ductwork using tuff bond adhesive (we are not able to bend the pins over using this method, resulting in a puncture hazard to anyone walking through the area). Justin also explained the Toyota safety procedure for utilizing an extension ladder to access the work area. I was very impressed with his attention to detail in regards to safety while also informing the new foreman of our scope of work.

Nate Schiff – Nate saw a giant icicle above a door, and he taped off the door so that people would not exit the door and get icicled to death.

Troy Sevier – Troy had to use a ladder for a quick touch up and got permission to borrow an electrician’s ladder that wasn’t being used and was nearby. As he moved it, he realized it was “rickety” and decided to go downstairs and get his Gribbins ladder which was in good shape instead of using the questionable ladder at hand.

 

 

President’s Message

2018 Q1 Safety Stars!

Posted: 04/19/18 By: Megan Knoll, Dir of Marketing

Working at heights, training, possible asbestos, and even icicles!

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Q4 2017 Safety Star Winners

Posted: 02/02/18 By: Megan Knoll, Dir of Marketing

Announcing our final safety star winners from 2017!

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Toolbox Talk

Heat Stress and Related Illnesses

Posted: 06/25/18 By: Megan Knoll, Dir of Marketing

Higher temperatures can lead to heat-related illnesses. Learn to recognize the symptoms and catch them early.

Read Full Article

Hearing Protection

Posted: 06/18/18 By: Megan Knoll, Dir of Marketing

Although noise-induced hearing loss is one of the most common occupation illnesses, it is often ignored because there are no visible effects.

Read Full Article