A Source for Workplace Safety News and Notes - from ®

July 15, 2009

How to Prepare for Swine Flu in Your Workplace

The novel influenza A (H1N1) virus (or "swine flu") has infected people throughout the U.S. and around the world. Private employers should "be thinking ahead about what they would do should this erupt into a full-fledged pandemic…" this fall, says Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano.
Right now, it’s not known how severe H1N1 will be in the general population, but early reports indicate that few people under age 60 have antibodies to the virus.
Some experts predict significant numbers of U.S. workers will need time off due to personal infection or the need to stay home to care for sick family members.
"Although we have not seen large numbers of severe cases in this country so far, things could possibly be very different in the fall… and we need to start preparing now in order to be ready…," says Dept. of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. Here are some tips to help you prepare for influenza challenges.
Protect your workers
  • Provide written guidance on influenza and work closely with public health officials to provide the most up-to-date informationOrder this hand wash sign
  • Display signs and posters that remind workers of proper hand washing, respiratory hygiene and cough etiquette (Browse hand washing signs here.)
  • Provide sufficient facilities for hand washing and alcohol-based hand sanitizers (or wipes) in common areas such as lobbies, corridors, and restrooms
  • Provide tissues, disinfectants, and disposable towels for employees to clean their work surfaces, as well as appropriate disposal receptacles
  • Disinfect commonly touched hard surfaces in the workplace, such as workstations, counter tops, doorknobs and bathroom surfaces
  • Encourage sick workers to stay home and away from the workplace
Protect your business
  • Identify a workplace coordinator who will be responsible for dealing with influenza issues and impact at the workplace
  • Develop and implement protocols for response to ill individuals
  • Determine who will be responsible for responding to ill individuals in the workplace, either through an established health clinic or as a first aid duty
  • Share your plans with employees and clearly communicate expectations
  • Review the CDC’s interim recommendations for facemask and respirator use in non-health care settings (Browse respirator notice signs here.)
  • Identify essential employees, business functions and other critical inputs (raw materials, suppliers and logistics, etc.) required to maintain business operations should there be disruption during an influenza outbreak
Advice from the CDC
Scientists estimate that people are not washing their hands often or well enough and may transmit up to 80% of all infections by their hands. One study showed that influenza virus can survive on environmental surfaces and infect a person 2-8 hours after being deposited on the surface. Prominent hand washing signs can help reduce infection risk.
Hand washing may be the single most important act to help stop the spread of infection.
The CDC and federal and state Occupational Safety and Health agencies will probably issue new guidance regarding influenza as the situation develops. Here are some additional links to help you prepare:

July 14, 2009

Tips to Prevent Back Injuries

Back injuries are the leading workplace safety problem, affecting more than one million workers each year.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that back injuries account for one of every five workplace injuries or illnesses.

Here are some tips to help prevent back strain when lifting and carrying loads:
  • Reduce large loads into smaller ones, or get assistance
  • Face the load with feet shoulder-width apart
  • Keep heels down and turn feet slightly out
  • Lift with your legs, not your back
  • Hug the load
  • Keep your head up
  • Take small steps and turn with your feet to avoid twisting the upper body
  • Reverse the lifting process when setting down the load
Our Lifting and Back Belt safety signs can help your employees remember proper lifting technique.

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Free Safety Management Seminars from the NSC

Throughout the summer, the National Safety Council and OSHA are presenting free Safety Management Systems for Small Business seminars at locations across the country.

By attending the one-day seminar you can learn to:

  • Define key occupational safety and health terms and concepts related to a safety management system
  • Identify motivators and benefits for managing safety and health efforts
  • Identify key principles and components of a successful safety management system, including:
    - Management leadership and employee involvement
    - Worksite analysis
    - Hazard prevention and control
    - Safety and health training
  • Compare your current safety and health program to OSHA’s Safety and Health Program Management Guidelines
  • Identify ways to improve current safety and health efforts/programs

Nine events are scheduled during July in Florida, Louisiana, Maryland, Montana, Nebraska and Utah. Eight more seminars are set for August. For complete schedule and registration information, visit the NSC here. To search and browse more than 40,000 safety signs and labels, visit the ComplianceSigns store.

Safety Tip: Easy Steps to Avoid Falls

The National Safety Council focused on fall prevention during National Safety Month in June - and with good reason. Falls account for eight percent of all occupational fatalities from trauma, according to the Dept. of Labor.
Scaffolding and fall protection were the top two OSHA violations in 2008.
Hazard communication was third.
But most falls can be prevented by taking fairly easy steps, like ensuring good lighting and sturdy surfaces, wiping up spills and using proper footwear. Identifying risks and prevention measures are the first steps toward reducing fall hazards.

Here are some tips to help keep your workplace fall-free:
  • Clearly mark potential fall hazards
  • Keep hallways and workspaces clutter-free
  • Require sensible footwear
  • Clean up spills immediately
  • Wear personal fall protection equipment when required
  • Keep floors clean and dry
  • Maintain good lighting
  • Set up ladders and scaffolds securely
  • Hold onto ladders while climbing and working
Posting signs that warn employees about potential hazards and remind them to use personal protective equipment can also help reduce workplace injuries. For more information about fall prevention, check these websites:

Welcome to Our First Newsletter Blog

This is the first edition of ComplianceSigns Connection. Our goal is to provide you with useful information that can make your job a little easier and your workplace a little safer.

Every month you´ll find safety tips, news you can use, information on new ComplianceSigns products and a survey that will show you what other readers are thinking and doing about safety in their workplaces.

Feel free to contact us with your comments, questions or suggestions.

Thanks again, and have a great month.

Paul Sandefer, President