Summer 2022 INdiana Labor Insider
- Beat the Heat
- Splash Safety
- Working From Home Can Be A Pain In The Neck
- Can You Dig It?
- Why Practicing Good Safety Is Just As Important At Home
Beat the Heat
Recently, Indiana experienced a record heat wave. Soaring temperatures and stifling humidity drove a 105F-110F degree heat index throughout most of Indiana.
The Indiana Department of Labor and its Indiana Occupational Safety and Health Administration want to ensure that employees working outdoors or in facilities with no climate control are protected against heat-related illness.
Employees working in high heat should remember to:
- Ease into work—build up heat tolerance slowly
- Drink cool water—at least one cup every 20 minutes, even when not thirsty
- Take rest breaks—take enough time to recover from heat
- Find shade or a cool area—avoid staying in direct heat for too long
- Dress for the heat—wear light-colored, loose-fitting, breathable clothing
- Watch out for each other—if you see signs of heat illness in yourself or a coworker, get help!
- To learn more about the warning signs of heat-related illness, employer responsibilities, and worker information, visit https://www.osha.gov/heat.
For information about developing and implementing a heat illness program, or for any other occupational safety and health related topic, call INSafe at (317) 232-2688.
By: INSafe Safety Consultants Gary Hulbert and Mark McDaniel
Though landlocked in the Midwest, Indiana has numerous public pools, beaches, lakes, rivers, and waterparks to enjoy throughout the summer months. For employees and patrons of these establishments, however, a measure of hazard awareness is necessary to keep the fun going all summer long. Hazards in swimming areas can include slippery surfaces, fall hazards, sharp
edges, poorly maintained equipment, and water treatment chemicals.
There is a reason lifeguards are trained to stop swimmers from running near pools. Anywhere there is water, there is an increased risk of falls. Slippery surfaces can quickly cause unsteady feet. Falls, even on the same level, often lead to broken bones, concussions, and, sometimes, death. Wearing appropriate footwear while not in the water is key to keeping one’s footing. If no footwear is allowed, paying attention to the conditions of walking surfaces is imperative. Keep an eye out for wet, smooth surfaces, and be especially careful when climbing ladders or diving boards.
Safe handling and storage of pool chemicals is essential to minimize accidental releases and exposures. Illnesses may occur when swimmers or employees come in contact with or inhale mists, aerosols, or dusts. Chlorine is the primary chemical used to keep pool water clean. Other chemicals used to treat pool water may include chlorinated isocyanurates, lithium hypochlorite, sodium bicarbonate and more.
Inappropriately handled pool chemicals could result in chemical burns, toxic vapor release, or even fires. Chlorine or a chlorine ion added to the pool water for bacterial control are commonly mishandled and can lead to hazardous situations. Its important to wear the appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) if you handle pool chemicals.
The following safe handling procedures are essential for minimizing risk:
- Store pool chemicals in compliance with local or state building and fire codes.
- Store pool chemicals below 95°F/35°C and in conditions recommended by the manufacturer (for example, low humidity and out of direct sunlight).
- Keep stored pool chemicals from getting wet.
- Prevent individual stored chemicals from mixing together or with other substances by storing each pool chemical separately in a dedicated location and storing incompatible chemicals away from each other.
- Store chemicals in their original, manufacturer’s-labeled containers.
- Protect pool chemicals from heat sources and flames.
- Do not store possible ignition sources, particularly gasoline-, diesel-, or gas-powered equipment, in the chemical storage area or pump room.
- No smoking in the chemical storage area.
- Maintain good housekeeping.
- Wear appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) when handling chemicals.
In addition to chemical hazards, environmental hazards exist in many indoor and outdoor swimming areas. Inclement weather in Indiana can creep up with little warning. Otherwise clear days can spawn pop-up showers and storms. Weak storm fronts can quickly turn severe with lightning, damaging winds, large hail, and even tornadoes.
Whether working at a swimming area or visiting as a patron, be mindful of the weather. If there is lightning in the sky or a threat of high winds or large hail, it is best to get out of the water and seek shelter. When the thunder roars, go indoors.
Even when there is no threat of inclement weather, heat, sun, and ultraviolet ray (UV) exposure can quickly and silently cause injuries and illnesses. With the recent high temperatures in Indiana, it does not take long to become dehydrated or become overheated. Know the signs of heat stress and the best ways to administer first aid. Visit https://www.osha.gov/heat for more information.
Unprotected sun and UV exposure can lead to sunburns which can become severe quite quickly. Wearing a high SPF sunblock and re-applying it frequently is key. Even if a product claims to be waterproof or boasts a long effective time, experts generally suggest reapplying sunscreen every two hours, or immediately after swimming or excessive sweating. If skin is already reddening or feeling tingly, it is time to head indoors. Sunburns can range from mild redness and a warm feeling to severe second- and third-degree burns, skin blistering, and sun poisoning. The long-term effects of sun exposure are also well-documented, with increased risks of skin cancer.
Swimming is a fun summer activity that is not without a measure of risk. Playing it safe around the water will ensure everyone has a good time.
Working From The Home Office Can Be A Pain In The Neck
By: Cheryl Kuritz, INSafe Health Consultant
Today’s working world has changed in many ways - including the ability to work remotely from home. Many workers consider this a perk, but it can also be a health and safety concern, namely when it comes to ergonomics.
Consider these key points to setting up your workspace:
- The height of your keyboard should be between 28 and 31 inches. This allows for your elbows to be in the neutral position; close to the body with the elbows bent about 90 degrees. Keep hands in neutral alignment with the keyboard (no bending the wrist upward or downward). Remember that these heights are based on 95% of the population. Taller or shorter individuals may need to make keyboard heights above or below 28-31 inches.
- The monitor should be directly in front of you. If you work at an angle to the screen, it can lead to neck pain. The monitor should be set so that the midpoint of your screen is between 37 to 43 inches. Set the screen so that your eyes are straight on to the top of the monitor screen. This allows your eyes to cast downward, like reading a book. The neck stays straight and does not look down or up too much.
- Proper seating is very important. What may be your favorite chair when relaxing may be horrible for extended working hours. Maintain good back support by sitting back in the chair with both feet on the floor. Shorter individuals may need to use a footrest to provide the proper chair to work surface height. The other critical feature is arm support. If you work for hours without arm rests, you find your shoulders and arms aching because they have held your arms in place while you work; they need support too! The seat should be tilted slightly forward so your legs point slightly downward. The seat should leave space between the front of the chair and your knees.
- The “working envelope” is also important. While sitting back in your chair, move your hands in front of you, with one hand over the other and make an arc motion without leaning. Everything you use a lot should be within the arc.
- The last suggestion is to remember to get up and STRETCH about every 20 – 30 minutes. This promotes blood flow and gets your body in motion. As you stretch, look away from the screen. This gives your eyes a chance to rest from the light of the monitor.
This is the quick list of things you can do to make your home office work for you. Remember to re-evaluate periodically to ensure it’s the best work area for your needs.
Can You Dig It?
By: Darby Miller, Underground Plant Protection Account (UPPA) Fund Program Manager, Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission
Everywhere you go, you are walking on top of utilities. In the United States alone there are tens of millions of miles of buried utilities, and more are being added every day. These utilities ensure the lights stay on, factories run, and houses stay cool in the summer and warm in the winter. They connect us to the internet, allow toilets to flush, deliver fresh water – the list is almost endless. Modern life depends on these utilities providing their services in a seamless way, but you rarely think about them as long as nothing goes wrong.
These utilities we all depend on are explosive gases, powerful electric charges, data lines, water mains, and sewer systems – none of which you want to accidentally damage.
It is important to dig safely to keep things from going wrong. Whether you are planting a tree, putting up a fence, replacing a mailbox post, or doing anything that requires you to move dirt, you need to dig carefully.
No matter if you are a homeowner or a contractor, the consequences of damaging a buried utility are unpredictable.
You could cut your own internet connection – annoying, but not catastrophic. The data line you hit could also be handling 911 services for your community or could be part of a hospital’s data network. That would put your entire community at risk.
If you hit a gas line, the best-case scenario is you will have to evacuate the area and wait for repairs. Gas, however, can also migrate underground from the damage point; seep through nearby foundations and fill buildings with natural gas. A stray spark from a water heater, doorbell, garage door opener, or any number of sources can cause gas-filled buildings to explode.
Damaging a power line could result in just a spark and loss of power to your own home, or you could suffer a severe electric shock and be catastrophically injured or killed.
Water line damages run the gamut from small leaks that leave your yard muddy to massive breaks that cause significant property damage.
When it comes to sewers, it is not hard to imagine how ugly that can get!
Happily, you are 99% more likely to avoid these scenarios by using a free service: Indiana 811. When you visit Indiana811.org, you can put in a locate request. This orders your local utility companies to come out to your property within two full working days and mark the approximate location of buried utilities on your property with colored paint and flags. Once you know the locations of the utilities, you can dig around the marks carefully with little chance of issue.
Always follow these five steps to safe digging:
- Plan your project – decide what to do and where to do it. You should also white line the project area. This means putting white paint down so your utilities know where you are going to dig. White lining makes the whole process run more quickly. Plan ahead because it takes two full working days for your utilities to be marked.
- Contact Indiana 811 – It will be faster to go online to Indiana811.org and put your request in online, but you can still call 811 if you have a complex project and need help from an agent.
- Wait for the marks – you must wait at least two full working days to give your local utilities time to mark your property. Remember, working days do not count Saturdays, Sundays, or state and federal holidays.
- Confirm the marks – compare the flags and paint in your yard to the list of utilities you received when you contacted 811. Have all of your utilities been to the property?
- Dig with care – whenever you are digging near a marked line, you need to be extra careful. The paint lines do not indicate exactly where your utilities are buried. The area two feet around each line is considered the “tolerance zone” – an area where you need to be particularly careful.
Finally, there is no guarantee how deep a utility is buried. A common misconception is that utilities are always so deep underground that you will not hit one. This is not true. It would not be at all unusual that a utility was within a few inches of the surface. That is why it is critically important to use the Indiana 811 system and dig carefully. You should always know what’s below before you put a shovel in the ground.
To learn more about the Indiana 811 Law and best practices, visit SafeDigIndiana.com and take a free training course.
Why Practicing Good Safety Is Just As Important at Home
By: Keith Etheredge, Dedicated Dad and Woodworking Enthusiast
Hello newsletter readers! I am Keith Etheredge, and I was asked to share my thoughts on why practicing good safety habits is just as important at home as it is in our workplace. I don’t intend to simply list off all the obvious reasons we should practice good safety at home. I assume you already know that, so I won’t give all your eyes and brains a reason to glaze over. I want to share some of my personal motivations for being safe. I hope my thoughts and experiences resonate with you positively and reinforce good habits at home for you and your loved ones.
Let’s begin with a little backstory and my earliest exposure to the need for hearing protection. I was born in Louisville, KY in 1987. My father is a Union Electrician who retired from Brown-Forman in the last few years. His 30+ year career there was spent in the noisy industrial bottling facilities. He also held jobs prior to that in the construction industry, which is certainly no stranger to loud noises. My dad isn’t deaf… but he will quite candidly tell you that he can’t hear well in otherwise “normal” environments. Things like going out to eat at a restaurant or having a conversation with other background sound like music on the radio or a TV show are exceptionally difficult for him. I really started to notice and understand what was happening when I was around 12 or 13 years old. I watched him muster all his grace and good manners while trying to hide his embarrassment when he asked someone to repeat themselves in a social setting. For my dad, the emotional and social impacts of his cumulative hearing loss are a daily struggle.
Now I know that story isn’t unique to me. What makes it important is the impression my dad’s struggle continues to leave with me. I am especially conscious of noise in my daily life. I’m the guy that always wears ear plugs at concerts and sporting events. I have no shame in turning the music volume down (or up as needed…) during workout classes at my local gym. I always wear earmuffs when my woodworking hobbies require table saws, routers, electric jointers and thickness planers. My conservative behaviors are about more than just wanting to protect my hearing… I use my ears as tools too. I design and build my own HiFi loudspeakers, and without good hearing I have no idea if my designs are good or not! Simply put, without my hearing I know I’ll be missing out on the experiences I will have in the future. Why would I risk that?
Speaking of parents and the life examples they set, I have a family of my own. I’ve been married to my wife for 10 years. Our son is 2 ½ years old and watches absolutely everything I do. Like most kids he repeats things that I thought he didn’t catch daddy saying. He expresses his thoughts and makes connections I had no idea he could understand. Part of practicing good safety at home for me means setting the right example for him. Are we making a bunch of sawdust in the garage? Then daddy wears his dust mask, safety glasses, and earmuffs. Are we using chemicals to clean something or applying finishes to woodworking projects? Then daddy wears his gloves and organic filters on his facemask. Are we lifting heavy things or moving a bunch of furniture? Then daddy asks for help with lifting and wears his steel toe shoes. You get the idea… I’m taking the notion of why we need good safety I learned by observing my dad and paying it forward by teaching his grandson how to enjoy life and respect the tools! My goal is to enjoy my life and have all my senses and parts intact to play with my future grandkids. I see no reason those are mutually exclusive.