Safety Management Series – Be a Skeptic – It Makes You Smarter

I absolutely LOVE learning new things. It’s especially exciting to hear/read about new solutions to old persistent problems. Unfortunately it’s all too easy to get excited about these “new” discoveries when they are announced and/or discussed on LinkedIn or other social media. That excitement should be enjoyed until of course, through further research, you find out that the “study” the new discovery is based on was 12 people. Even worse, the evidence is anecdotal ONLY and “they ALL FEEL BETTER when asked. “Hardly objective, nor verifiable.

Belief by “best seller” is another all too common problem! The safety community, like many others, is searching constantly for the next GREAT thing. Because that discovery may help us accomplish our goals of assisting ourselves and our fellow humans to safely live our collective lives. It’s easy to get caught up in what sounds like a GREAT idea to solve the safety problems! So why not get excited about the next GREAT thing in safety management? Well, actually we should but not before being VERY skeptical about the discovery. By the way, being skeptical is NOT a negative thing. Underlying good skeptical thinking is looking for objectively gathered and analysed evidence. Great claims with no evidence are only MYTHS and interesting ideas. The truth ALWAYS comes from objectively verifiable evidence.

There is a huge difference in what we believe and what may actually be true. As long as we separate the things we know objectively and what we THINK we know, we’ll be fine. The mind plays wonderful tricks on us. It is well documented that the mind is terrible at some things. Optical illusion is just one example. The direction of low frequency sound is another. What we think we see or hear is not what is actually there. Sometimes in our zeal to know the unknown, we may fill in the blanks to create the appearance of us knowing something we don’t. This is the fundamental reason that in early human history the sun was a flaming chariot crossing the sky and NOT the ball of gas it actually is. How do we know it’s a ball of gas? Objective evidence.

It is the search for objective evidence that will help people separate what humans actually know and what we think we MAY know. It doesn’t mean what you are convinced is true isn’t… it just means it MAY be true but we need more information. Here are a few clues that you should be skeptical about the next GREAT thing:

  • When the support for the information starts with “My brother-in-law had X and he was cured by (fill in the blank brand of snake oil or pseudoscience).”
  • I read it on Facebook/LinkedIn/Twitter/Any Newspaper or On-Line Blog you can think of
  • I saw it on YouTube!

Remember, we learn by first questioning. Watch any 5 year old go through their day. It’s a very good thing that we do. Just don’t be satisfied with the first answer you come across, ask another question. The best question I was EVER asked was “Why do you think that Al?” If you can’t answer that question with objective evidence please consider looking for more sources of evidence! It’s the evidence that will lead us to the truth AND we’ll all be smarter because of it!

Top 8 Major Elements of Personal Protection Equipment

Personal protective equipment or PPC is now among the most common applications that can be seen in factory and working environments. PPE equipment can be easily worn by workers for minimizing exposure to different kinds of occupational hazards. Some PPE examples include fall protection, aprons, gloves, safety jackets, foot, eye and head protection. The use of PPE would only be a single element in a complete program safety that would employ different kinds of strategies for maintenance of healthy and safe working environment. However, total or permanent protection isn’t guaranteed by PPE as the hazard isn’t eliminated itself.

The major elements of personal protective equipment can be categorized through the body area of protected body, by the types of hazard, and the garment accessory. A single item, like safety shoes, would provide different types of protection: with steel insoles and steel toe cap you get different proper protection from puncture injuries or crushing, impervious rubber and protection lining from chemicals and water protection, high reflectivity and heal resistance through radiant heat protection, and high electrical resistivity protection through electric shock. Here lie the top 8 major elements of PPE-:

1. Noise
With the help of earmuffs and earplugs the damage extent to hearing can be significantly reduced thus increasing ear safety. High level noise exposure causes irreversible loss of hearing and impairment with psychological or physical stress.

2. Access and height protection
The range height and access protection is wide and includes things like fall-arrest systems, body harnesses, lowering harnesses, rescue lifting, lanyards, energy absorbers, etc. Such kind of PPE is specialized and needs thorough training through competent persons, in user checks and the right use as well.

3. Respirators
With respiratory mask it becomes simple to protect the worker from breathing contaminants in the polluted air, thus preserving respiratory tract and the heart’s health. Two main types of respirators are present. Type one functions through filtering gases, chemicals, and airborne particles, through air breathed by workers. The process of filtration would either be active or passive. Particulate respirators or gas masks are main examples of these kinds of respirators. The type two helps in protection of users by offering clean and respirable air through any other source. This type also includes self-contained breathing apparatus and respirators.

4. Protective clothing
Being one of the main PPE elements, it is all-encompassing and refers to different uniforms and suits that is worn for protection of users through any harm. Ballistic coats that are worn through law enforcement officials and lab coats or safety gloves that are worn by scientists daily at work would come under this category.

5. Ensembles
In personal protective equipment, many types of ensembles can be found for protecting you against different conditions and this work together for specific tasks or occupations. PPE equipment like safety helmets is usable for multiple tasks or occupation for offering maximum protection to users. Chainsaw protection can be done by wearing several equipment (especially hearing protection, face guard, anti-vibration gloves, Kevlar chaps and chainsaw safety boots. Additionally, other measures are also advisable for using this hazardous equipment

6. Bee-keepers
Different clothing equipment is worn depending on bee temperament and reaction of bees to availability of nectar. At the minimum, most of the bee keepers wear brimmed hats and veils made through hardware clothes that bear similarity with window-screen materials. Another level of protection would involve long gauntlets with leather gloves.

7. Eye protection
While eye protection equipment would vary per the occupation, the offered safety gets generalized. With safety glasses, you get long term protection from external debris and side protection is possible through side shields and wrap around designs. Eyes can be protected from welding, dust, splashes and other hazards by Safety Goggles. Face shields can be worn over standard eyewear for protection against blood, impact and chemical-borne hazards.

8. Skin protection
Second most common injuries are related to the skin and occupation related skin illnesses like skin cancers, contact dermatitis, infections and other skin injuries are second most common occupational diseases that are costly. Any skin protection PPE is of utmost importance at the workplace as it becomes a barrier between hazardous agent and the skin.

Keep Aging Workers Safe

The workforce is getting older. People are living longer, and dollars aren’t going as far as they’d like. How much of the work force will be at least 55 years old in five years from now? Look at you workers whose still on the job. This is just the world today. Workers are working longer.

That’s good news for companies that don’t want to lose the benefits of older workers – institutional knowledge, lower turnover, more dedication to work, and positive values. But while older workers also tend to have fewer workplace injuries, they generally take longer to heal. With this, Employers must take steps to address this change in the work place.

The Aging Process

Generally, the human body will show signs of aging around ages 40 to 50. However, no two persons are exactly alike. But most will similarly have or show signs associated with aging, like impact vision, hearing, strength and flexibility, and cognitive skills.

What can you Do

Employers cannot point out single older workers for health-related changes without running the risk of discrimination allegations, unless it is an accommodation for someone with a disability as defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act. But you can make changes to make all workers safe. These changes while simple, will help the older workers as well.

But before you make the change, talk to the workers. They are doing the work and can be of assistance in providing insight to what can be changed. Plus, they will feel like the changes are a part of a cooperative effort to make the work place safer and therefore will buy-into the change with less resistance.

Work environment

1. Make the lighting brighter. Put adequate lighting in all areas – inside and out, to make sure surfaces are clearly visible.

2. Keep the work site clean. Get rid of any clutter and have a policy that requires workers to move objects or debris out of normal walking areas. Walkways should also be free of electrical cords and any other objects.

3. Reduce all Noise. Make sure the noise level is at conversation level, unless impossible due to the e type of work. When possible, provide sound-reducing headphones; but make sure any warning bells or alarms have visual as well as auditory alerts.

4. Solid footing. All walking surfaces should be kept dry. If an area is perpetually wet, make sure there is adequate signage and towels to dry the area. Provide mats and slip-resistant shoes for workers in areas where there may be grease or slippery surfaces.

5. Assistive devices. When possible use manual hoisting cranes are a great way to help reduce back strain and prevent musculoskeletal problems.

6. Adjust work space. Make sure workers are comfortable and are properly situated in their chairs and at their desks or other working area.

7. Properly Working Tools. Make sure equipment is always in proper working condition and that safeguards are fully operational.

Conclusion

Making simple changes to help the employees at all levels is an easy way to prevent injuries to all workers, especially older ones.