Archive | July, 2014

Not Too Hot to Handle: Tips for Preventing Heat-Induced Illnesses and Injuries

28 Jul

Late July brings some of the hottest temperatures of the year around the country, certainly we are feeling it in Southern California. So it’s a good time for some refreshing refresher training on how your workers can beat the heat. Also, we have Cal/OSHA regulations requiring a written plan for dealing with heat illness, training, providing water and shade for all outdoor employees, including truck drives and dock employees.

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) warns that heat-induced occupational illnesses, injuries, and reduced productivity can occur with excessive exposure to a hot work environment.

Heat-induced disorders include:

Transient heat fatigue,
Heat rash,
Fainting,
Heat cramps,
Heat exhaustion, and
Heatstroke.

Aside from these disorders, heat poses the threat of injuries because of accidents caused by slippery palms as a result of sweating, fogged-up safety glasses, and dizziness. Severe burns can also occur as a direct result of accidental contact with hot surfaces and steam.

NIOSH has assembled a number of handouts and other resources with information on heat-induced occupational illnesses, injuries, and reduced productivity, as well as methods that can be taken to reduce risk.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also provides helpful tips as to how individuals can avoid heat-related illness. That advice includes:

Take extra care of new employees, as they have not become “acclimatized” meaning their bodies have not adapted to working in heat. All of us need to adjust when temperatures or humidity rise suddenly.

Drink more fluids, regardless of your activity level. Don’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink. Warning: If your doctor generally limits the amount of fluid you drink or has you on water pills, ask him or her how much you should drink while the weather is hot. Drink a cup of water every 15 minutes during the peak working and hot times.

Don’t drink liquids that contain caffeine, alcohol, or large amounts of sugar: These actually cause you to lose more body fluid. Also, avoid very cold drinks, because they can cause stomach cramps.

Cool off when needed, even a few minutes spent in shade or a cooler are can help your body stay cooler when you go back into the heat. Take a break in shade whenever feeling heat stress, even if it is only a short while. Do not wait until the official rest break.

Wear lightweight, light-colored, loose-fitting clothing.

Although any one at any time can suffer from heat-related illness, some people are at greater risk than others:

Infants and young children
People aged 65 or older
People who have a mental illness
Those who are physically ill, especially with heart disease or high blood pressure

Why It Matters

Heat illnesses can be very serious—even deadly.
Your workers need to know how to protect themselves from the heat both on and off the job.
As the summer wears on, workers may think they’ve gotten used to the heat and not be as cautious; continue to give them frequent reminders and brief training sessions all summer long to keep everyone safe.

Don Dressler Consulting can help you with writing your heat illness prevention plan, training materials, posters and other ways to keep your employees safe and OSHA compliant.

Just check our websites: http://www.dondressler.com and http://www.calworksafety.com

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Teacher Petitions Cal/OSHA on Protection from Classroom Violence

25 Jul

As Cal/OSHA prepares to work on a new standard to deal with the violence hospital workers face, a new petition to the Standards Board ask for similar protections for teachers.
Teacher Meleah Hall, of Discovery Bay, addressed the board at its July 17 meeting on the hazards workers in her profession face. “Often we hear about violence in the school setting, yet the educator is often left out of the conversation,” Hall said. “When any member of the educational instruction team is injured, ultimately the student’s educational experience is impacted.”
A special education teacher, Hall speaks from personal experience: She said she was knocked unconscious by a student with autism. In fact, she says, an American Psychological Association survey of 3,000 teachers reported that 80% had experienced workplace violence of some sort, and about half reported being assaulted.
In Hall’s case, law enforcement refused to take a report. “It’s almost like we’re an island unto ourselves,” she told the board.
Fellow educator Stephanie Baker supports the petition. She told the board that she had suffered several injuries due to school violence, but was rebuffed by her workers’ comp insurance carrier. “Oh, no, that’s not happening to you,” she says she was told. “There’s definitely an issue with the insurance companies.”
Hall is asking for a standard mandating a workplace violence prevention program, specifically including special education teachers, “who work in a variety of classroom settings that have a higher incidence of violence.” She also wants continuation and community day schools included.
Additionally, she says, school districts should be held to the same standard as other industries on recording and reporting incidents. Hall says currently school districts are exempt from most documentation requirements. And, she says, “If a student or outsider, including, but limited to, relatives, has a history of violence, the employees need to be informed. There should be annual reporting by school district[s] of how many teachers and staff were physically assaulted in the workplace.”
The standards should apply to both public and private schools. Hall calls for training for special ed teachers before they start classroom work, as well as particular training for teachers in urban settings “who are exposed to possible gun violence.” She asks the board to ensure that employees are actively involved in creating the standard.
Finally, the petition asks that law enforcement be summoned when there is an unlawful act against a school employee “to support with the investigation if bodily harm was involved.”
(This article is from the Cal/OSHA Reporter – July 24, 2014)

CA Truck Drivers Entitled to Meal Periods & Rest Breaks

21 Jul

We want to bring to your attention a new court decision … and alert you that if your company has truck drivers regulated by the Department of Transportation (DOT) – heavy or long trucks – while they may be exempt from some wage and hour rules, you still need to have the drivers keep start and stop time records, and record meal breaks.

Also have a policy about 10 minute rest breaks every four hours of work (or major portion thereof).

Note:

On July 9, 2014, a Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that California truck drivers are entitled to meal breaks and rest periods under California state law despite federal deregulation of the trucking industry. Prior to the Court of Appeals ruling in Dilts v. Penske Logistics, Inc. (July 9, 2014), several federal judges in California ruled that trucking companies were exempted from the requirement to provide mandatory breaks by the Federal Aviation Administration Authorization Act of 1994 which prohibits states from enforcing any statutes “related to a price, route or service of any motor carrier” that is transporting property.

The Dilts decision now sets those rulings aside by holding truck drivers are protected by state law. The Court reasoned in its decision that “while motor carriers may have to take into account the [California] meal and rest break requirements when allocating resources and scheduling routes – just as they must take into account state wage laws, or speed limits and weight restrictions – the laws do not ‘bind’ motor carriers to specific prices, routes, or services.” Employers should monitor whether the case will be appealed.

Update provided by: A. Scott Ruygrok

If you have questions about your drivers, your work policies or other wage and hour matters, just send us an e-mail to: dondressler1@hotmail.com.

Don Dressler. Consultant and Attorney at Law – Ph: 949-533-3742 websites: www.dondressler.com and www.calworksafety.com