Workplace safety meeting topics
Need an idea for your safety meeting? We regularly post a new topic.
Pedestrian safety 101
September 3, 2022 — Safe tips for walking are good for pedestrians of all ages.
September means back to school for many. Even if we won’t be attending classes, we can all be on the lookout for increased pedestrian traffic.
As the days get shorter and it gets dark much earlier, following simple safety rules while driving is really important.
Here are some tips for drivers:
- Slow down. It will give you more time to react if you spot a pedestrian.
- Make eye contact. Watch for pedestrians crossing at crosswalks and remember that every intersection is a crosswalk whether it’s marked or not.
- Always use turn signals. These will alert walkers and cyclists that you are turning.
It’s also important to follow safety rules while walking. If you have school-age children, review pedestrian safety with them at the start of every school year and equip them with reflective gear.
Here are some tips for pedestrians:
- Wear reflective clothing. It will make you visible at a distance.
- Phone off, eyes up. Distracted walking is a hazard, too.
- Cross smart. Don’t dart across the road in front of vehicles.
Want to learn more?
Check out the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s pedestrian safety page.
SAIF’s Be safe. Be seen. video has more great information for staying safe while walking.
Short talks for safety
August 3, 2022 — Toolbox or tailgate talks work for every industry
Some industries use quick safety huddles all the time, getting employees together for a quick 10-minute discussion on one topic. However, that strategy works for every industry, and for almost every safety topic.
Because most learners forget much of what they learned soon after they learn it, teaching something on-site that employees can start using right away has an enormous impact on learning retention.
You can use this concept when you are on-boarding new employees, or if you are holding a safety meeting or a safety committee meeting. This strategy works best when:
- The topic is not simply read to employees; engagement is built by encouraging participation in the discussion
- Presenters ask questions
- There is a hands on element where those learning can see how the topic relates directly to their workplace
- Learners get to use the information right away
- Learners have the opportunity to share the information with others, both on and off the job
SAIF has many of these short trainings, and they include a handy attendance sheet on the back to make it a complete training record. See SAIF’s safety and health talks page for resources.
Summer threats: high heat and wildfire smoke
July 2, 2022 — Protect your workers from these seasonal exposures.
Summers are getting hotter and longer, which increases the threat of very high temperatures. All that heat leads to dryer conditions, which can cause larger wildfires, resulting in unhealthy smoke levels.
Oregon OSHA has responded to these workplace threats by adopting new rules designed to protect workers from these two exposures.
What should employers keep in mind?
- Monitor the heat index and air quality. Those two numbers will help you know what measures should be taken to protect workers.
- Limit exposure. Whether it is heat or wildfire smoke, limiting the amount of time an employee spends in it is a good way to lessen negative effects.
- Change schedules. Employees can work when the exposures are low, sometimes at hours outside of the normal workday.
Want to learn more?
Pause for safety
June 4, 2022 — Take a moment to think about potential hazards.
Healthcare brings us a great idea that works well for all other industries: the safety pause. It was created to improve patient safety by building in “pauses” for certain events, such as if patients have similar names or before a surgical procedure to ensure they have the right patient, procedure, or even body part.
For everyone else, a safety pause can be taken before any change in work. It provides an opportunity to think about possible hazards so our brains can identify the best, and safest, way to do the job.
Some industries, such as construction, also call this pre-task planning. Whatever you want to call it, it makes good sense to make the safest choices while working. You can do all of that with a simple pause.
What can trigger a safety pause:
- New equipment
- Change in regulations
- Before starting a different work task
- New employee or other personnel change
- Environmental change, such as weather
Want to learn more?
Did you hear that?
May 4, 2022 — Don’t live your life on mute – protect your hearing.
Most people might think hearing loss is only age-related. The truth is that 15% of American adults (37.5 million people) report some trouble hearing, according to a National Center for Health Statistics report.
No matter how old you are, it’s worth it to look at how much noise you are being exposed to both at work and at home so you can look for ways to limit it.
Some examples include:
- Lawn mowers/yard equipment
- Saws and grinders
- Loud music
You can protect your hearing by wearing personal protective equipment like earmuffs or ear plugs when you are in noisy areas.
How can you tell if an area is too noisy? If you have to shout to hear, you probably need to protect your hearing.
Want to learn more?
Walking into wellness
April 6, 2022 — Daily walks are a path to improved fitness for safety and health
April 6 is National Walking Day, which falls on the first Wednesday in April every year. The American Heart Association started this annual event to promote healthy living through an activity that most of us do every day.
How do you celebrate National Walking Day? By taking a 30-minute walk! If you haven’t already, you might start a walking habit that can lead to better cardiovascular fitness, stronger muscles, and improved well-being.
Here are some tips for walking safely:
- Wear good athletic shoes with slip-resistant soles
- Dress comfortably, and wear high visibility gear, especially if walking near a roadway
- Be sure to drink plenty of water
- Use a fitness tracker to see how far you’ve gone and to monitor your heart rate; use it to set goals
- Walk with a friend or a dog
- Not sure where to go? Use Map My Walk to find walking routes near you
Want to learn more?
Set up your ladders for success
March 4, 2022 — Follow these rules when using a ladder for tasks at work and at home.
The first ladder safety month kicked off in 2017, and since then March has been the month to discuss ladder safety. This is no small thing, as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that an average of 500,000 Americans are treated for ladder injuries every year.
Here are some tips for setting up ladders to reduce injury risk:
- Set up ladders on stable surfaces.
- Secure ladders to prevent movement.
- Remove debris or clutter around ladder.
- Open ladders fully, with locking mechanism in place.
- Lock or guard door if ladder blocks a doorway.
- Never place ladders on boxes, barrels, or other items to make it taller.
- Never use other items (like boxes, milk crates, or chairs) as ladders.
- Keep ladder free from mud, grease, or other substances.
- Consider traffic around ladder and protect the set-up.
- Check for hazards during set-up, such as power lines, nails, beams, or sharp edges.
Want to learn more?
Observe burn awareness week
February 1, 2022 — Prevent burns at work and at home.
Burn awareness week is the first week in February every year and it presents a good opportunity to talk about burn prevention. National statistics from the CDC show that 5,000 workers are burned badly enough to seek medical treatment every year. If you include home statistics, the American Burn Association reports that 1.1 million Americans are treated for burns every year.
Burn injuries happen across many industries. This year, the American Burn Association is focusing on preventing burns while cooking. Here are a few good tips:
- The best time to cook is when you are wide awake – avoid cooking if you feel overly drowsy.
- Never leave the stove unattended when frying, broiling, or grilling.
- Keep stoves and microwaves clean.
- Wait a minute or two before moving heated items from the microwave and use pot holders.
- When done cooking, check all appliances to ensure they are off.
Want to learn more?
Take action in an emergency
January 5, 2022 — What do you do when there’s an emergency at work?
Emergencies and disasters make the news all the time, often impacting businesses and their employees. The best way to prepare for any workplace emergency is to create an emergency action plan, which includes key information on responding to emergencies.
Here are a few basic components in an emergency action plan:
- Evacuation routes and where to gather after leaving the building
- Contact information for police, fire, utilities, and others
- Procedures to follow in specific emergencies such as fire, severe storms, and medical emergencies
To have an effective emergency action plan, all employees should be trained on it regularly. It should also be kept in an easily accessible location for employees to reference when they need it.
Want to learn more?
‘Tis the season of stress
December 2, 2021 — Strategies for making the holidays less stressful
The holidays can bring many happy times with family and friends, but can also be very stressful, leading to anxiety and depression. While some stress is unavoidable, it need not be paralyzing, and employing coping strategies early may help you face holiday challenges.
Here are a few ideas:
- Plan ahead – write out a schedule for the holidays in advance and be sure to block out time for rest. It’s OK to say “no.”
- Be realistic – the holidays are never “perfect.” Go with the flow if things don’t go according to plan.
- Set a budget – spending too much can add more stress to the holiday season. Decide how much you can spend and stick to it.
- Seek help – when feelings are overwhelming and you need help coping, ask for help. SAIF’s page on stress and well-being has resources.
Driving safely in fall and winter
November 2, 2021 — Rain and darkness create hazards on the road.
The rainy season and shorter winter days are upon us. This is a good time to review some basic tips to keep everyone safe on the road.
- Drive slowly. Slick roads make it harder to stop
- Turn around don’t drown. Never drive through water on roadways. It only takes 12 inches of water to sweep a car away.
- Watch for pedestrians and cyclists. Darkness and rain make it harder to see them. For pedestrian safety, watch SAIF’s Be seen video.
- Plan ahead. Use Trip Check to monitor weather and road conditions
- Stock your vehicle. Stay prepared with an emergency roadside kit.
- Keep your cell phone charged.
Want to learn more?
October 2, 2021 — Supporting resilience strengthens the workforce.
Resilience may seem like a trendy buzzword these days, but the idea behind it is solid. Especially in trying times, resilience is about equipping people with the tools and support to bounce back when bad things happen.
There’s a lot an employer can do to promote resilience, and many of those ideas can be found in this resilience guide.
But what can individuals do to promote their own resilience? Here’s a short list of ideas:
- Self-care – this includes knowing your limits, like when you need to take a break
- Eating well – choosing to eat healthily can help you feel better
- Physical activity – relieves stress and improves sleep
- Positive relationships – spending time with those who are important to you
- Finding your purpose - this often involves establishing personal goals
- Embracing change - adaptation is key to resilience
Want to learn more? See SAIF's stress and well-being in the workplace page.
Saving workers from smoke
September 3, 2021 — Wildfire season brings many hazards, including unhealthy smoke.
If your eyes are red and burning, if you are coughing more and experiencing a sore and scratchy throat, it could be from exposure to wildfire smoke.
As the summers become hotter and longer, there's likely to be more wildfires, which can impact the air you breathe. It's important to monitor air quality regularly, especially if workers will be in unventilated air. Check out www.airnow.gov for the air quality in your area. What else can you do?
Here's some planning tips:
- Keep indoor air clean by closing all windows
- Change filters on HVAC units
- Wear a NIOSH-approved N95 respirator if you have to be outdoors in smoky air
- Stop working if the air quality index (AQI) gets too high
Want to learn more?
SAIF's wildfires page
The heat is on
August 5, 2021 — Prevent heat illnesses at work and at home.
Summers are getting hotter and longer, and that increases the risk of a heat-related illness. A recent heat wave in Oregon claimed the lives of 116 people, so it's an important topic to talk about, both at work and at home.
Those suffering heat illness often don't know it until it's too late. The most important thing you can do is plan ahead and then monitor workers for symptoms of heat illness: heat illness - Learn the symptoms.
Here's some planning tips:
- Limit time outdoors, especially during the hottest hours
- Drink 32 oz of water an hour (8 oz/15 min)
- Work to make indoor areas cool - invest in air conditioning and use fans
- Plan ahead by watching weather forecasts
- Avoid caffeine and alcohol, which can dehydrate
- Wear sunscreen and hats if outdoors
- Never leave animals or people inside cars on hot days
Want to learn more?
Heat/cold stress (saif.com)
Kitchen safety is always on the menu
July 7, 2021 — Stay safe in the kitchen at work and at home.
Nothing spoils time in the kitchen quite like a cut or a burn, especially if it leads to an emergency room visit.
While many people work in a kitchen full-time, many others prepare food at home. Some use a kitchen at work to make lunches, or they may cook in other community settings.
Here are some quick tips to stay safe no matter where you're cooking:
- Wear slip resistant shoes
- Keep knives sharp
- Wear safe clothing - nothing baggy or loose that could catch fire or catch on a hot pan
- Turn pan handles inward
- If cooking with others, make sure they know when a pan is hot
- Learn how to put out a fire
Want to learn more? Visit SAIF's restaurant and kitchen safety page.
June 4, 2021 — How to avoid bites and stings while outdoors
They're the scourge of summer: biting and flying insects! They seem to be everywhere, and they don't care that you are outdoors for work or for a camping trip.
While many of these pests are just a nuisance, some may create worrisome risks to health like Lyme disease or even anaphylactic shock.
Here are a few quick tips to avoid getting bitten or stung:
- Wear light-colored clothing that covers most of your body
- Tuck pants into socks or boots
- Use insect repellents
- Keep eating areas clean and cover food
- Avoid cologne or strong-smelling shampoos and lotions
- Check yourself for insects after being outdoors
Fun in the sun
May 8, 2021 — Protect your skin while working and playing outdoors
Summer can bring more outdoor work and activities. Enjoying the beautiful outdoors offers more opportunities for physical activity, boosts vitamin D, and can improve our mood, according to the CDC.
But staying in the sun for too long without taking appropriate precautions can harm your health. Follow these tips to get the most out of being outdoors, while still protecting yourself:
- Wear sunscreen with SPF 15 or higher
- Wear protective clothing and hats
- Use the shade
- Limit the time spent outdoors
- Drink plenty of water
Want to learn more?
Worker Memorial Day 2021
April 6, 2021 — Honor the dead; fight for the living.
April 28 is Worker Memorial Day, set aside every year to remember those who were killed or seriously injured on the job. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 5,333 workers lost their lives on the job in 2019 in the U.S., which was a two percent increase over 2018.
Every workplace can look at ways to prevent serious injuries and fatalities (SIF). Even those jobs that are not inherently risky may have exposures such as workplace violence, driving, or falls from ladders.
Start by asking these three questions:
- Where can employees get seriously injured? Where can fatalities happen?
- What are we doing to prevent it from happening?
- Is there anything we can do better?
This is a somber day, but we can use it to ask questions that proactively protect all workers, every day.
Spring cleaning for safety
March 2, 2021 — Tidy your workplace this spring to prevent injuries.
Good weather is on the way making many of us think about spring cleaning - or better yet, ensuring our housekeeping standards are up to par.
The benefits of good housekeeping are clear: it prevents slips, trips, and falls and reduces the potential of an injury from falling objects. It also can improve productivity and ensure dangerous materials are properly stored.
Here are some tips for good housekeeping:
- Set a cleaning schedule and stick to it
- Clean as you work
- Reorganize work spaces and assign locations for items
- Conduct regular workplace inspections
- Share clear expectations about a clean workplace
February 10, 2021 — Stopping a silent killer
It's odorless and colorless, but it can be deadly. This ominous gas is carbon monoxide (CO), which is generated by combustion fumes from cars, furnaces, fireplaces, grills, stoves and even some heaters. These fumes can build up in an indoor space and you won't know it until you start exhibiting symptoms.
Accrding to the CDC, carbon monoxide poisoning kills 400 a year and sends 20,000 to the emergency room, so it's more common than people think.
How to protect yourself:
- Install CO monitors
- Avoid running engines in enclosed spaces, like garages
- Buy gas powered equipment that has been approved by a national testing center, such as Underwriter Laboratories (UL)
- Never use gas-powered stoves or heaters indoors
- Check and clean chimneys every year
- Don't burn charcoal indoors
Health by stealth
January 7, 2021 — Little tricks to improve nutrition and physical activity in the new year.
Can you trick yourself into eating healthier and exercising more? Experts from WebMD say yes-especially if you focus on small steps instead of trying to change everything at once. Often, a small change is less noticeable and over time can become a good habit.
The term is "stealth health" and here are some examples:
- Substitute healthier choices. Swap chips for carrots, ice cream for yogurt, or soda for sparkling water.
- Use larger plates. If you struggle with moderation, this is a great way to trick your brain into eating less, and you often end up feeling full faster than you think.
- Take quick walks because every step adds up. If you don't have time for a long walk, take a quick 15 minute stroll around the block.
- If you're stuck at a desk, you can still exercise.
Be safe. Be seen.
December 2, 2020 — Stay safe when walking outdoors.
Pedestrian fatalities are alarmingly high in the US. According to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), 5,977 pedestrians were killed in traffic crashes in the United States in 2017, which amounts to one death every 88 minutes. In addition, the CDC estimates that 137,000 pedestrians are treated in emergency rooms for non-fatal crash injuries. All in all, pedestrians are 1.5 times more likely than car passengers to be killed in a crash.
This somber statistic hit some closer to home when an Oregon man lost his 9-year-old daughter in a crash when she was walking in a poorly lit crosswalk last year. The groups most impacted by pedestrian fatalities are children and older adults aged 65 or more.
From a safety standpoint, we can do many things to stop these outcomes. Here are a few from the CDC:
- Wear reflective clothing
- Carry a flashlight
- Use crosswalks when possible
- Walk on a sidewalk or path
- Walk facing traffic
- Avoid using devices that impair your hearing or awareness, like earbuds
- Forgo walking if you have been drinking
- For drivers: reduce speed when it's dark or foggy and stay alert for pedestrians, particularly in residential areas
How to quit smoking
November 3, 2020 — Support each other to change habits.
While statistics indicate a nationwide decline in smoking, it is still the leading cause of preventable deaths by disease and impacts every organ in the body. According to the CDC, 1,600 young people start smoking every day in the US, and treating smoking-related diseases and illnesses has a $170 billion price tag.
November is the Great American Smokeout, a month set aside to quit smoking, with support from the American Cancer Society. So, what can you do to help others stop smoking, or to stop smoking yourself?
In fact, support from others is the key to success when it comes to quitting. Employers can help through small changes in the workplace as described in this handout on avoiding tobacco.
Find more helpful information for supporting yourself and others to quit on our tobacco webpage.
Are you prepared?
October 1, 2020 — Keep a “go bag” on hand for emergencies.
Many of us never thought we would have to leave our homes in a moment's notice, but evacuations are becoming more common during natural disasters like wildfires and floods.
So what can you do to be ready if it happens to you? Think about creating a "go bag," which is a bag that contains essential items that will help you stay safe until you can return home. Some items you want in a go bag are:
- Money (in small denominations)
- Prescription medications
- Warm blanket
- Pen and paper for messages
- A whistle to signal others
- A poncho and a change of clothes
- Water and nonperishable food
A good go bag could have many more items to keep you and your family safe. Find out more at https://www.ready.gov/kit.
Nature promotes stress management
September 10, 2020 — Spending time outside improves our well-being.
Pandemic life has caused increased stress for most of us. One of our best stress management tools is all around us. Nature!
Scientific studies report many benefits of getting outside. Whether you want to call it tree therapy or nature's nurturing, being outside with natural surroundings helps us cope with negative emotions. That includes reducing feelings of depression and anxiety. Nature also has been shown to increase a sense of belonging and enhance the ability to focus. All these benefits promote our well-being and improve our during stressful times.
Time spent in nature really pays off at work, too. Employees who are stressed are at increased risk of illness and injury because their mind is not able to focus on the work. Encourage walking and talking meetings when possible, using break times to enjoy changing fall colors and cooler temperatures or to focus on the sounds of nature. Integration of whole person well-being and safety is the heart of Total Worker Health®.
Identify, assess, control
August 7, 2020 — Find and fix workplace hazards.
Hazards are all around us-in the workplace and at home. We can learn how to identify, assess, and control them to improve safety and reduce injury risk.
Identify - Look around your home or your workplace for conditions that could cause an injury. It could be an item that's broken, improperly stored, or not well maintained. It could also be poor housekeeping, bad lighting, or inadequate ventilation. Whatever the issue, identifying it is an important first step to fixing it.
Assess - The next step is to determine the hazard's severity. How bad is it? This allows you to prioritize fixing it. Ask yourself:
- How likely will someone get hurt?
- If they do, how much care will they need?
Control - The last step is all about fixing it. What can you do to the hazard to make it less likely to hurt anyone? You can use the hierarchy of controls to fix workplace hazards. You can start at the top and work your way down the list:
- Elimination: Get rid of the hazard
- Substitution: Use something less hazardous
- Engineering: Use a guard or barrier
- Administrative: Train employees and post signs
- Personal protective equipment (PPE): Wear it
See SAIF's page on hazard identification and control for more.
Be cool when it’s hot
July 2, 2020 — Know the signs of heat illness.
Summer is here! Working or playing outside in the sun and heat can put you at risk for heat illnesses such as heat stroke. Learning to recognize the symptoms can help you take action.
What heat stroke looks like:
- High temperature (103º F or more)
- Slurred speech
- Hot, red, and dry skin
If you observe these symptoms, it is a medical emergency and you should call 911. In the meantime, stay with the person until help arrives. Remove clothing to help them cool down, offer a cold bath if available, and small sips of water if possible.
While this is the most serious form of heat illness, there are others that have different symptoms. Use this handout or this poster to learn more. Other resources are available on SAIF's heat and cold stress webpage.
Drive safely this summer
June 2, 2020 — Protect everyone during the 100 deadliest days on the highway.
The rate of car accidents goes up every summer, so much so that the period between Memorial Day and Labor Day has earned the nickname "the 100 deadliest days."
Largely that's due to beautiful weather and more people choosing to travel. Of all groups, teen drivers are the most at risk, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
What can we do to prevent traffic fatalities? Well, start by talking about it. Increasing awareness may help change behavior.
Here's a quick list of talking points from the NHTSA:
- Stay alert. Make sure you have had adequate sleep and take frequent breaks, especially on long trips
- Share the road. With more traffic and nice weather, there are more motorcycles and bicyclists. Leave plenty of space to stop and keep an eye out for pedestrians.
- Avoid risky driving behavior. These are the big three to avoid:
- Distracted driving
- Impaired driving
For more information on what you can do to protect everyone in the summer driving months, see these driving tips from the NHTSA.
Aching back or neck?
May 2, 2020 — Prevent pain from working in your home office.
Many employees are working from home right now, making do with kitchen tables, uncomfortable chairs, and laptops. Many of these items put us out of neutral posture, which causes additional stress on your body, and that can lead to an injury over time.
We have some ideas for modifying your home office to take a little strain out of your work day.
Here are a few tips:
1) Use an adjustable chair. If you don't have access to one, try a lumbar cushion to support your back.
2) Ensure your feet are flat on the floor when working. If your feet don't touch the ground, consider adding a box or a stack of books.
3) Keep your monitor screen about one arm's length away, with the top of the screen at about eye level.
4) Use a separate keyboard and mouse, especially when working on a laptop, to avoid slouching over the keyboard.
Not shaking hands right now?
April 3, 2020 — How washing your hands and social distancing help everyone in a pandemic.
In times like these, not shaking hands makes sense; it's one way to avoid spreading germs from one person to another. But is just avoiding a handshake enough?
Well, probably not. It's important to wash your hands frequently, too. It isn't just hands that can harbor viruses and bacteria-there are quite a bit living on that door handle, your cell phone, or the grocery store keypad.
The Centers for Disease Control has instructions on hand washing: how often to do it, and how to do it properly. The key is to wash them for at least 20 seconds, about the time it takes to sing "Happy Birthday."
Washing your hands is great, but we know that some viruses can survive in air and that close contact with others can also promote viral spread.
Maintaining at least six feet between yourselvf and others is social distancing (also called physical distancing), which purposely creates physical space to reduce the likelihood of transmission. Johns Hopkins provides more direction on social (physical) distancing and other topics related to preventing infections.
Looking for more? There are several resources on infectious diseases at saif.com/flu.
Your ladder matters
March 4, 2020 — Choosing the right ladder for the job
Ladders are handy equipment at work and at home, but working from a height has its risks. Selecting the right ladder can help you work more safely when performing tasks like retriving items from shelves, cleaning gutters, or checking equipment on a roof.
Here are a few suggestions for choosing your ladder:
- Height - choose the height of th ladder based on how far you need to reach. If you need to reach at 12 feet, you should use an 8 foot ladder. Rule of thumb - safe reaching height is 4 feet higher than the size of your ladder.
- Material - what your ladder is made from is important, depending on the tasks you are performing. Fiberglass is strong and non-conductive for electricity. Aluminum is light, but not safe around electricity.
- Load capacity - always check the ladder label for load capacity. Remember it isn't just your weight, but the weight of any other equipment you may be using on the ladder, including your toolbelt.
- Type of work - there are small step ladders for changing lightbulbs and long extension ladders for painting houses. What you are doing should help you select the right ladder for the job.
Looking for more? There are several resources on saif.com/ladders.
Let’s talk about it
February 6, 2020 — Mental well-being is an important part of overall health.
As many struggle with this disturbing trend, even more are asking how we can remove the stigma about asking for help and promote mental well-being in the workplace. One possible solution is to begin talking about it.
Here are a few suggestions for doing that:
- Train leaders to recognize signs of emotional stress and provide guidance on how to address it
- Talk about emotional well-being in regular company meetings
- Offer an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) and encourage employees to use it when they need help
- Create opportunities to build social connections between co-workers
Looking for more? There are several resources on saif.com/wellbeing.
Plan it out
January 3, 2020 — New year: time to assess strategies and set goals
January is here and as it is the beginning of a new year it provides a wonderful opportunity to assess your safety and health efforts for 2019 and look forward to 2020 with the goal of doing even better.
Here are some things to think about:
1) Any changes to your organization this past year that may have created new and different risks?
2) What types of workplace injuries and incidents occurred? Do you see any patterns that will help you set a strategy for preventing them in the future?
3) Engage your employees in planning and ask them how they feel about your training program, hazard control efforts, and overall safety activities. Use that information to help plan and set goals for 2020.
4) Check your documentation to make sure you are capturing all your safety efforts, safety meetings, and training activities in writing. In fact, you can start right now with a written safety and health plan for 2020. Be sure to set a few goals that you can evaluate next year.
Looking for more? This employer safety and health program self-assessment is a great place to start.
Winter is coming
December 5, 2019 — Review safety tips for your workplace, vehicles, and people.
December brings opportunities to celebrate and visit with family, but it's also the start of the cold weather season. Snow and ice can disrupt travel and business operations, and create serious slip and fall hazards.
Review a few easy tips to stay safe this winter:
Workplace - Equip areas with snow melt and put someone in charge of treating walkways. Create policies for inclement weather, space heaters, and appropriate footwear.
People - Provide training on winter safety, safe shoveling, and "walking like a penguin." Provide information on developing a communication plan for emergencies.
Vehicle - Carry an emergency kit with chains and extra warm clothing. Ensure vehicle is well maintained and ready for winter weather.
Looking for more? This handout has even more tips to review.
Speak up for safety
November 5, 2019 — Do you say something when you see unsafe behavior?
What do you do when you observe unsafe behavior? Do you say anything if you are asked to do something unsafe?
This can be a difficult conversation in many workplaces, but it's an important discussion. There's a famous safety poem by Don Merrell called "I chose to look the other way" that discusses problems people face when they see something unsafe and the resulting guilt for not speaking up after something happened.
Today, why not talk about speaking up if you see something unsafe? Are there ways you can communicate your concerns without others becoming defensive? Does your culture support speaking up?
For the past decade, the Oregon Young Employee Safety Coalition has sponsored a video contest about safety - the theme has always been "Speak up. Work safe." Here's a link to last year's winner, but you can also watch all the finalists: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z5_HsiPb_rc&list=PLM75uPd4sBhx05JwZDmjYieJiG49qjsDx
Just say no to workplace drugs
October 8, 2019 — Employers can reduce substance abuse through policies and resources.
The nightly news is full of reports on substance abuse and the negative impact it can have at work and at home. The Center for Behavioral Statistics and Quality reports that 66% of adults who misuse opioids are employed. This presents an opportunity to employers, who can influence this issue far beyond the walls of their businesses.
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration has developed a quick guide to help employers and co-workers combat this issue.
Here are the guide's key steps for addressing workplace substance abuse:
- Educate yourself. Learn about the different types of drugs and the risks involved with using them.
- Identify issues. Reduce the stigma of drug addiction through training and employee assistance. There are free supports for employees, including a 24-hour confidential hotline for both English and Spanish speakers. It can provide referrals to local support agencies: 1-800-662-HELP .
- Prevent misuse. There are workplace strategies to help prevent substance abuse, including drug and alcohol-free workplace policies, workplace drug testing, and creating a positive work environment.
- Provide resources. Make it easy for employees to seek help by offering benefits such as substance abuse treatment and access to local addiction support groups. Building good social support can help employees overcome addiction.
Here's a good place for employers to get started:
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration Drug-free Workplace Toolikit https://www.samhsa.gov/workplace/toolkit
Fall for safety
September 11, 2019 — Here’s a list of ideas and resources to avoid injury during the autumn months.
Leaves changing, crisp mornings, pumpkin spice lattes, and football-for all that autumn brings, it also offers an opportunity to think about safety.
These ideas will work both on and off the job:
- Prepare for weather changes. Ice and snow may be coming, but first we face fallen leaves, rain, and more debris on the roads. Wear slip resistant footwear to prevent falls and take that rake out to clear walkways.
- Wash your hands. With flu season beginning, washing your hands more often is a great strategy for preventing viral infections. Getting vaccinated is another way to prevent the flu.
- Test your batteries. When was the last time you checked your smoke or carbon monoxide detectors? Fall is the time to ensure they are working, and to change the batteries if needed. Also, look at your emergency kit-how old are the batteries? It may be time to restock in anticipation of power outages.
- Drive and walk safely. With days getting shorter, it will soon be dark during daily commutes. Watch for pedestrians, especially in residential areas. If you walk after work, invest in reflective gear to alert drivers.
Here's a good resource to fall into:
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Autumn Health and Safety Tips: https://www.cdc.gov/family/autumn/index.htm
Sharks aren’t the real threat
August 3, 2019 — Bites or scratches from dogs and cats are more common.
Sharks are featured on the news every time there is a shark attack, even though such attacks are rare. What you don't see are the much more common dog and cat bites, which can lead to serious injury or death if infections occur.
The best strategy is always prevention, so follow these tips to stay safe:
- Ask permission before approaching or petting an animal with an owner.
- Avoid reaching into car windows to interact with animals.
- Approach pets slowly and calmly; better yet, let them come to you.
- When in doubt, don't reach out. It's better to err on caution's side.
- If bitten or scratched, seek medical attention. Some bites result in bacterial infections that must be treated with antibiotics.
Spot check your skin
July 2, 2019 — Early skin cancer detection saves lives.
Skin cancer rates are on the rise and Oregon has one of the highest in the country, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Even when the skies are cloudy, ultra violet rays associated with skin cancer are still present.
Prevention is the first line of defense, so be sure to use sunscreen, wear protective clothing, and stay in the shade when you can. Also be sure to conduct regular self-exams of your skin so you can "spot" issues before they develop into something more threatening.
Here are tips from the Academy of Dermatology on how to spot skin cancer:
- Look for dark spots that are asymmetrical, irregularly shaped, or have color variations within them. Also check for changes, like if it is growing or changing shape.
- Use a mirror to inspect your back and neck for spots.
- Don't forget the scalp-part your hair and use a hand mirror.
- Carefully examine areas that don't normally see the sun such as between your toes and under your arms.
- If you notice anything, make an appointment with a dermatologist. If you have a family history of skin cancer, schedule regular checks with a dermatologist.
Here are a few additional resources:
Prevent fire-related injuries
June 6, 2019 — Wildfire season is on its way.
For years, wildfires didn't impact many Oregonians. As long as we weren't in the immediate area, we could avoid the smoke and other hazards that arise from wildfires. However, dry summer conditions are becoming more common. If trees, bushes, or tall grass are near your home or place of business, there's a risk. Winds can carry smoke and particulate matter for miles.
Taking time to prepare for this hazard and how it may impact workers and their families can prevent difficulties down the road.
Here are a few things to keep in mind:
- Shut down outside air intakes and allow air-conditioned buildings to operate on recirculated air. Ensure filters on HVAC units are not expired.
- Keep windows and doors closed and minimize entry and exit.
- Monitor communication channels, such as public service announcements and websites, including the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality, and the Oregon Health Authority. The Oregon Smoke site provides information on smoke conditions.
- Stop work if air is too smoky for safe work. Reduce or eliminate other indoor and outdoor sources of air pollutants, such as vacuuming, cooking, smoking or burning fuel.
SAIF handout on preparing for wildfires https://www.saif.com/Documents/SafetyandHealth/Emergency%20planning/S-1072_Prepare_your_business_for_wildfire_season.pdf
Oregon Smoke http://oregonsmoke.blogspot.com/
Watch out for UFOs
May 2, 2019 — Prevent injuries from unsafe falling or flying objects.
When most people think about UFOs, they conjure images of flying saucers and little green men. In our version, it can be a painful struck-by injury after encountering an unsafe falling or flying object (UFO).
These UFOs occur in every workplace, from offices to construction sites and from schools to auto shops. You can reduce the risk of serious injury with a little training and safe work practices.
Here are a few tips to prevent falling or flying objects:
- Secure tools when working overhead.
- Store items safely on shelves to ensure items won't fall. Inspect shelves for stability to prevent collapse. An added measure: Secure shelves and items on them so they are stable during earthquakes.
- Wear hard hats if working under equipment or other workers. Use safety glasses, goggles, or shields if working where there could be flying particles or debris.
- Properly train workers on the safe use of tools and equipment.
SAIF handout on UFOs
Do you brake for flaggers?
April 13, 2019 — Stay safe in the traffic work zone. April is Work Zone Safety Awareness Month.
A work zone crash occurs in Oregon every 18 hours on average, according to the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT). It's not just dangerous for drivers. Road workers are six times more likely to be injured or killed on the job than other workers.
Here are a few work zone safety tips for drivers from ODOT:
- Pay attention to the driving task. Inattention is the main cause of work zone crashes.
- Slow down for the color orange! When you see orange signs, barrels, cones, or barricades, that's your visual cue to decrease speed.
- Don't tailgate. Double your following distance in work zones to prevent a collision.
- Move over for workers when you can. When you can't move over, decrease speed.
- Expect delays and plan ahead. Use TripCheck to see if your route is under construction, and leave earlier.
- Remember, fines double in work zones for a reason. Reduce your speed, and proceed with caution.
Oregon Department of Transportation Work Zone Safety page
What’s the belt buckle rule?
March 7, 2019 — Sound advice for staying safe on ladders.
What does a belt buckle have to do with a ladder? Easy, it's keeping your mid-section (your "belt buckle") between the two side rails of your ladder at all times. That way, you reduce the risk of falling or knocking the ladder over, which can lead to injuries at both work and home.
Remembering the belt buckle rule will prevent you from reaching or leaning out too far on a ladder. It's simple physics, with a catchy slogan.
Here's a few other quick ladder safety tips:
- Check the load rating on the ladder-and remember to calculate the weight of any tools or gear that will be on the ladder.
- You can only reach four feet higher than the height of your ladder safely, so pick the right ladder size for your work.
- Don't lose your balance! Never stand on the top cap or the top rung of a step ladder.
- Check yourself-are you tired, ill, or otherwise impaired? It may not be a good time to get on a ladder.
Watch our new video on the belt buckle rule.
Oregon OSHA | Portable ladders: How to use them so they won't let you down
SAIF video library:
Ladder Safety | GENSAFE 14 | 13 minutes
Ladder Safety | GENSAFE 15 (Spanish) | 13 minutes
Emergencies? There’s an app for that
February 7, 2019 — Preparing for workplace and home emergencies just got easier
Large scale disasters are all over the news-everything from forest fires to earthquakes can happen at any time. And while we may be prepared with 21 days worth of water and food and an emergency plan for our family, have we thought about a digital "go bag" for emergencies?
There are several helpful apps that may help in the event of an emergency, and many have proven useful in past disasters, such as Hurricane Harvey.
Here's a few free apps to help you during and after emergency events:
- FEMA - A must have for disaster, this app from the Federal Emergency Management Agency contains disaster safety tips, locations of emergency shelters, as well as real-time weather alerts.
- American Red Cross - They have several apps to assist during emergencies, and all can be downloaded through the App Store and Google Play. These include Emergency, Tornado, Hurricane, Earthquake and Flood. While each contain helpful information about the type of disaster, they also offer a way to notify others that you are safe.
- Zello - This app was very popular during Hurricane Irma because it turns your smartphone into a push to talk walkie talkie-a good way to stay in touch with others during emergencies.
- ICE Medical Standard - This app puts your "In case of emergency" contact information on your lock screen-and also tracks any medications, allergies, and illnesses in order to assist first responders with your care.
FEMA mobile app: https://www.fema.gov/mobile-app
American Red Cross apps: https://www.redcross.org/get-help/how-to-prepare-for-emergencies/mobile-apps.html
New year, new you
January 8, 2019 — Making resolutions is easy. Keeping them is hard.
January 1 is the most popular time to make plans to be more healthy throughout the year. Many swear to make better food choices, exercise more, or reduce stress levels. According to Strava, the social network for athletes, many resolutions fail by January 12.
But it's not all grim-there are things you can do, courtesy of Harvard Health:
- Motivation matters. Why do you want to change? The reason should be important enough to keep you going.
- Set clear goals. If you don't know where you are going, you won't know when you get there. Make sure you can measure progress- and try not to make the goal too lofty, which results in frustration when you fail.
- Prepare and plan. Write your goal down along with specific steps to achieve it. There are several apps that help you keep track of important life changes, too, from exercise to stress.
- Solicit support. Research shows we are more effective in making changes if we share our goals with someone else, who can help keep us accountable when we waver. And they can also praise you when you do well, which is a great way to keep going.
- Celebrate! This doesn't mean go out for ice cream now that you have lost 10 pounds. Instead, reflect on your accomplishment. Thinking about it and how the experience made you feel helps reinforce your positive momentum, making you more likely to accomplish your long term goal.
Saif webpage: A year's worth of health and safety ideas
Harvard Health - Answer these questions to make your New Year's resolutions stick
Safety during the holidays
December 4, 2018 — Tips for both work and home to celebrate the holiday seasons with safety.
It's the most wonderful time of the year...to get hurt? Decorating for the holiday season takes effort. It also increases the risk of injuries from falls, as well as the potential for house and office fires.
Take some time to review these quick tips for staying safe during the holidays.
- Use the right ladder for the job. Make sure it's the right size, is in good condition, and is placed on stable, secure ground. Never use chairs, boxes, or buckets to reach higher.
- Eat healthy. Treats abound at this time of year, so be sure to ensure you are eating a balanced diet that includes fruits and vegetables. Try to limit the trips to the snack table at work.
- Reduce stress. This time of year fills schedules with increased workloads and more chores to complete. Be sure to take some time for yourself with some quick calming breaths or a nice walk outside to view the neighborhood lights (be sure to wear reflective clothing!).
- Inspect for electrical hazards. Don't overload outlets with too many cords. Ensure all cords are in good repair-those antique lights may bring memories, but they can also have frayed wiring.
- Prevent fire hazards. Never leave the kitchen unattended while something is cooking. Consider using battery-operated, rather than traditional flame candles. Be sure to check all natural trees daily to keep them well-watered.
Play Spot the holiday hazard. These are 360-degree videos, so be sure to move the mouse to see the whole scene.
Don't fall for holiday hazards-more tips and a video.
National Safety Council holiday safety tips
First aid can save lives
November 9, 2018 — Have you thought about first aid training for your employees?
Quick question: who arrives first at the scene of a workplace injury?
Usually co-workers, so it makes good sense to review your first aid program to ensure you are prepared. But what does it include?
Oregon OSHA requires all workplaces to have an emergency medical plan to make sure medical services are available for injured employees. If the work being performed is not near emergency medical services (this is defined as allowing a quick response in the event of an emergency), the employer must have a qualified first aid person available.
If your workplace is near emergency medical services, 911 can be used.
Other items to consider:
1) Is your first aid kit stocked with items that will be able to treat the types of injuries that could occur at your jobsite?
a. Is it available to all employees on all shifts?
b. Do employees know the location(s)?
c. Is it stored where it will not be damaged or contaminated?
2) Communication-have you considered a way to alert others to a workplace accident?
3) If you have a qualified first aid person, do employees know who they are?
To learn more about requirements of a first aid program and information that could help you during an emergency, visit our first aid page.
Why am I so tired?
October 2, 2018 — Fatigue leads to a higher risk of injury—but what causes fatigue and what can we do about it?
Workplace fatigue can lead to more errors, slower reaction times, reduced service and product quality, and a higher risk of injuries. But what causes worker fatigue?
Here are some workplace conditions that can cause fatigue:
- Poor ergonomics
- High level of noise
- Exposure to certain chemicals
- Long shifts and overtime
- Workplace conflict
- Juggling home with work
The good news is there are many things employers can do to support workers and prevent fatigue:
- Implement flexible scheduling
- Provide an employee assistance program (EAP) that assists employees with personal problems that may impact their job performance and well-being
- Assess noise exposures and ergonomics and put controls in place if necessary
- Educate supervisors on fatigue
- Provide a place where workers can take a quick nap
SAIF fatigue and shiftwork page: saif.com/sleep
Video library: Shiftwork: circadian survival | GENSAFE-50 (English/Spanish/Portuguese) | 20 minutes
The shocking truth about electrical safety
September 7, 2018 — Electrical fatalities rose 15 percent in 2016; here a few things you can do to prevent injuries.
Before you use that hair dryer with frayed wiring or a missing ground plug, take a moment to stop and think: Electrocution can happen in an instant. The Electrical Safety Foundation International (EFSI) reports a 15 percent increase in workplace electrical fatalities in 2016 over the previous year.
While the majority of these cases occur in the construction industry, electrical injuries can happen anywhere, at work and home.
Here are a few things you can do to keep yourself safe:
- Inspect electrical equipment for damage, including exposed wiring; missing ground prong; cracked tool casing; and frayed, spliced, or taped cord. Never use damaged electrical equipment.
- Test ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCI) plugs and outlets frequently. Ensure outlets are installed in areas exposed to water.
- Take care around power lines. Look up before starting work. ·
- Talk about electric hazards with children; you are never too young for safety.
Electrical safety: https://www.saif.com/safety-and-health/topics/prevent-injuries/electrical-safety.html
Electrical safety for nonelectricians | GENSAFE-21 (English) GENSAFE-22 (Spanish)│ 18 min
Electrical safety: safe in 87 | GENSAFE-37 (English/Spanish/Portuguese)│ 8 min
Electrical safety: beware the bite | GENSAFE-52 (English/Spanish/Portuguese/French) │ 20 min
Smoke gets in your eyes...and lungs…and throat
August 4, 2018 — Follow these tips to reduce wildfire smoke exposure.
Fire season is here, and while losses due to fire have been devastating for many, there is still a threat from the smoke left behind. Particulates cause the biggest concern, but smoke can also irritate your eyes and respiratory system. If you suffer from a chronic disease, smoke exposure can lead to serious health effects.
Here are some suggestions from the Oregon Health Authority for reducing smoke exposure:
- Stay indoors when you can; close all the doors and windows.
- Reduce indoor pollution from tobacco, candles, or wood-burning stoves.
- Use high-efficiency particulate absorber (HEPA) filters.
- Drink lots of water to lessen coughing and scratchy throat symptoms.
- When driving, keep windows closed and re-circulate the air.
Oregon Health Authority Wildfire Smoke and Your Health https://www.oregon.gov/oha/ph/Preparedness/Prepare/Documents/OHA%208626%20Wildfire%20FAQs-v6c.pdf
DEQ Air Quality Index
Summer water safety
July 10, 2018 — Before you dive in, follow these five tips to keep yourself and loved ones safe from drowning.
While relatively few people work in or around water, many people enjoy water sports, including swimming, fishing, and boating. All of these activities carry risks. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports an average of 10 accidental drownings each day in the U.S.
Follow these tips to safely enjoy summer water activities:
- Learn to swim. Swimming proficiency greatly reduces the risk of drowning, especially among children.
- Wear life jackets. Half of all boating deaths can be prevented with this simple safety precaution.
- Learn cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). When seconds count, this could save a life.
- Use the buddy system. Take a friend along when enjoying water activities.
- Avoid alcohol. Driving a boat while intoxicated is against the law-and impairment increases drowning risk.
Unintentional drowning: Get the facts (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
Water safety (American Red Cross)
Clearing the air
May 10, 2018 — Five ways to breathe easier at work and at home
Most of us don't give much thought to breathing. It's just what our body does naturally to get oxygen to our cells. However, poor indoor air quality can cause a host of health effects, including headaches, dizziness, fatigue, and asthma.
Here are five tips for protecting indoor air quality-at work and at home:
- Control moisture to prevent mold growth.
- Keep all indoor areas smoke-free.
- Perform regular maintenance on your ventilation system, including cleaning and changing filters.
- Evaluate asthma triggers, including chemicals, pets, molds, dust mites, and outdoor pollutants.
- Install carbon monoxide monitors.
Keeping eyes on the road
April 5, 2018 — Nothing is more important than arriving safely
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that nearly 3,500 people were killed and nearly 400,000 injured in 2015 due to distracted driving. These numbers underscore the importance of preventing distracted driving-not only at work, but everywhere.
Distraction is anything that takes your attention away from the road. That includes talking on the phone, eating, talking to people in the vehicle, or playing with the radio. While busy people are always looking for ways to get more done, doing other tasks while driving can be deadly.
Here are some tips for preventing distracted driving:
- Put the cellphone away and out of sight where you'll be less tempted to use it. Some new phones have features that prevent incoming messages while driving; consider activating them.
- Pull over to eat rather than doing it while driving.
- Program navigation systems and music selections before driving. If you have to change anything, pull over.
- Don't use drive time for activities other than driving. That includes applying cosmetics, reading, or using a laptop.
Distracted driving: When ignoring work calls could save your life [SAIF video]
Distracted driving: game over | VEHICLE-22 (English/Spanish/Portuguese) │ 12 min
Driven to distraction | VEHICLE-24 │ 16 min
Driven to distraction II | VEHICLE-26 (English/Spanish/Portuguese) │ 26 min
Office ergonomics is for everyone
March 6, 2018 — Avoid working postures that can lead to injuries.
You may not think working while sitting at a desk can be hazardous. The truth is poor working postures can result in painful musculoskeletal disorders over time. You can avoid this by simply adjusting your workstation to help you maintain good postures while working at your desk.
Don't work in an office? These adjustments can work at home, too.
Here are some tips for good office ergonomics:
- Select a good chair that provides back support, including maintaining the natural curve of your back.
- Use a wireless phone headset if you spend much time on the phone.
- Position the top of your computer monitor to about eye level, and center yourself in front of it.
- Keep your mouse at the same level as your keyboard.
- Avoid reaching. If it happens a lot, consider moving the item closer.
February 7, 2018 — Use ladders to safely reach heights
Most workplaces have some kind of ladder on hand. And that's a good thing, because ladders are designed for reaching higher spaces. Alternatives such as chairs, milk crates, or shelves are not.
We also use ladders at home for cleaning gutters, hanging Christmas lights, checking smoke alarms, and a multitude of tasks.
No matter where you are, falls from ladders can cause severe injuries. So a quick overview of ladder safety is just what the doctor ordered.
Here are some tips for safe ladder use:
- Use the right ladder for the job.
- Follow manufacturer recommendations.
- Inspect for damage prior to every use.
- Avoid overload by checking the ladder duty rating.
- Store ladders properly and securely.
- Maintain three points of contact when climbing up and down.
Oregon OSHA | Portable ladders: How to use them so they won't let you down
SAIF video library:
Ladder Safety | GENSAFE 14 | 13 minutes
Ladder Safety | GENSAFE 15 (Spanish) | 13 minutes
Protect your hearing
January 8, 2018 — How to turn down the noise—at work and at home
Lots of jobs have noisy environments, but you can damage your hearing off the job, too. Exposing yourself to noise that is more than 85 decibels repeatedly or over a long period of time can lead to hearing loss. Some very loud noises, such as a firecracker or a firearm, can cause immediate damage to hearing.
Here are some tips to protect your hearing:
· Wear ear plugs or safety ear muffs in noisy environments. If you have to shout to talk, you probably need hearing protection.
· Limit noise exposure when possible.
· Turn down the radio, especially in an enclosed area, like a car.
· Download a sound meter app on your smartphone to monitor noise levels in your environment.
· Have your hearing tested if you think it might be damaged.
Hearing conservation: noise under control | OCCUPAT-22 (English/Spanish/Portuguese) | 19 minutes
Protecting your hearing | OCCUPAT-26 | 13 minutes
Prevent workplace fires
December 11, 2017 — From housekeeping to smoking areas, here are five simple steps to reduce the risk of fire at your workplace.
Once fire starts, it can spread quickly, putting lives and property at risk. The best strategy? Stop fire from happening in the first place.
Here are some prevention tips:
· Keep your workplace clean; clutter can add fuel for fires.
· Keep machinery in good repair to prevent overheating.
· Store flammables and combustibles safely, and inspect frequently.
· Clear access to exits, electrical control panels, sprinkler heads, and fire extinguishers.
· Smoke in designated areas only. Better yet, call 1-800-quit-now to get tools and support for quitting.
Fire in the workplace | FIRE-05 | 18 minutes
Fire safety (safety in 8) | FIRE-06 (English/Spanish/Portuguese) | 8 minutes
Stay safe when walking at night
November 6, 2017 — High visibility gear isn’t just for work.
Many workers wear reflective clothing to make sure drivers and heavy equipment operators can see them while working. But why leave that great idea at work? As the days get shorter, nightly walks around the neighborhood carry a greater risk, especially if our clothing makes us less visible to drivers.
Here are some tips when walking at night:
- Wear high visibility gear.
- Walk facing traffic.
- Stay alert. Avoid talking or texting on cell phone.
- Use sidewalks when you can.
Be safe. Be seen: Watch the SAIF video.
Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center: Safety tips.
PPE: Only works when worn
October 12, 2017 — Personal protective equipment (PPE) is the last line of defense. Are you using it?
Personal protective equipment (PPE) is designed to provide a barrier between the hazard and the worker. Examples include safety glasses, hard hat, steel-toed boots, and gloves.
But it only works if you wear it.
Here are some workplace tips:
- Choose PPE that fits well. Loose-fitting or tight PPE can be hazardous. Getting employees involved in PPE selection increases the likelihood that it will be worn.
- Inspect PPE every day. Replace PPE that is excessively worn, cracked, or damaged, as it will not provide protection when you need it.
- Remember to wear PPE. Many preventable injuries occur because a worker failed to wear protective gear. One great way to ensure accountability: Look out for each other and remind co-workers to wear their PPE.
SAIF personal protective equipment page
Personal protective equipment: safe in 8 | PPE-04
Personal protective equipment: awareness and attitude | PPE-05
PPE: Don't start work without it | PPE -01
Chemicals: An often overlooked hazard
September 12, 2017 — Know the chemicals in your workplace to prevent dangerous exposures
All jobs have some exposure to chemicals. Gasoline, copier toner, and glass cleaner are just a few common chemicals you may interact with every day. We also are exposed to chemicals at home when we are cleaning the house or ridding the garden of pests.
How often have you read the warning labels? They can provide important information to protect you from serious health consequences.
Here are some workplace tips:
- Train regularly on workplace chemicals. Refresher training is required when a process changes or a new chemical is added.
- Know where the safety data sheet (SDS) guide is located. Safety data sheets provide valuable information, including how to properly handle and dispose of chemicals, and necessary personal protective equipment (PPE). Train employees on how to read safety data sheets.
- Accurately label all chemicals to ensure proper handling and prevent mix-ups. Using the wrong chemical can result in injury or property damage. Have the right PPE available. Check safety data sheets for requirements and make sure PPE is worn properly.
SAIF hazard communication page.
Hazard communication: Your safety net | HAZMAT-06
Chemical Safety | HAZMAT-16
Avoid strains and sprains
August 8, 2017 — Reorganize your workspace to reduce the risk of injury.
Strains and sprains are one of the most common workplace injuries, occurring in every industry. Lifting, carrying, pushing, or pulling give rise to these injuries, and the need to perform those tasks is here to stay.
However, there are techniques for making a strain or sprain less likely. Start by looking at how your work area is organized. For instance:
- Raise or lower the work, which can reduce the need to reach up or down.
- Limit the number of times an item is handled to decrease repetive motions.
- Keep equipment, especially wheels and handles, in good condition to lessen the force and grip strength required.
- Organize the work area to prevent awkward postures.
- Install tools that keep the body in neutral postures (joints straight, back or neck not turned or twisted).
Video library: Strains and sprains: Avoiding the pain | ERGO-06
Prevent skin cancer
June 1, 2017 — Skin cancer can happen to anyone. Know the facts to prevent and detect.
Even when the skies are cloudy, ultra-violet rays are still hitting all surfaces, including your skin. If you are around water, snow, or sand, the risk is even higher as those rays are reflected, increasing your exposure. Whether you work or play outdoors, it makes sense to safeguard your skin to prevent cancer.
Here are some tips:
- Wear sunscreen; 30 SPF or more is recommended.
- Wear a hat and protective clothing outdoors.
- Stay in shaded areas when you can.
- Avoid tanning beds.
- Perform self-examinations on skin.
Find more information on how to prevent sunburn, lower your cancer risk, and protect your eyes from harmful UV rays.
May 3, 2017 — Focused breathing can help reduce stress and promote relaxation.
Traffic snarls, communication breakdowns, and missed deadlines are just a few scenarios that can create anxiety at work. You may have heard the phrase ”take a deep breath” when faced with frustration. Turns out that's a pretty good strategy for calming yourself in a stressful situation, and research shows it also can have a positive impact on overall health.
Deep breathing exercises can be done anywhere—in the car, at a sporting event, or at a desk. Here are the steps:
- Place your hand on your abdomen and breathe in. Notice how your belly expands with each breath.
- Keep your shoulders relaxed and focus on relaxing your muscles with each breath.
- Try inhaling for a count of three and exhaling for a count of five. (As you get better at it, you can increase the count number.) Do this 10 times.
- Practice this daily and it becomes easier to do each time.
This exercise is not only good at reducing and managing stress, but has been shown to impact numerous health conditions such as high blood pressure, chronic pain, and headaches.
March 17, 2017 — Prevent injuries by keeping your workplace clean.
Keeping the workplace clean impacts safety, but it goes beyond simple dusting.
Good housekeeping means reducing clutter, implementing the lean manufacturing idea of "a place for everything and everything in its place," and supporting a culture of neatness. These actions can go a long way toward preventing slips, trips, and falls, which are among the most frequent injuries across industries.
Here are some tips for keeping it clean:
- Clean as you go throughout the day.
- Set aside the last 30 minutes of each shift for cleaning.
- Label shelves and floor areas where items are stored.
- Empty the trash regularly so it doesn't overflow.
- Set an inspection schedule and praise employees for clean areas.
Canadian Centre for Occupational Health & Safety
Workplace Housekeeping - Basic Guide
Disaster strikes. What’s next?
February 10, 2017 — Earthquakes, tsunamis, floods, or wildfires: Are you prepared?
No one likes to think about the possibility of a disaster happening, but it could. Would your workplace be prepared to respond? Making sure employees are safe is management's most important role. Developing an emergency evacuation plan is the best way to start. If you already have a plan, regular review and drills will help employees follow the plan in an emergency.
Here are a few best practices for an emergency evacuation plan. This safety talk also provides an opportunity to review your unique plan with employees. Employees should know:
- How to respond in the event of an emergency
- How management will communicate to employees
- How to contact emergency responders
- The location of evacuation areas
- Their role in an emergency and the role of their supervisor
- How to ensure all employees are accounted for
- Location of first aid kit
- Location of food, water, and other supplies How to shutdown equipment, if needed
Ready.gov - Prepare. Plan. Stay Informed
From SAIF's DVD library (available for checkout):
Emergency planning - Emergency evacuations: getting out alive | GENSAFE-60
Brrrraving cold weather
January 13, 2017 — Plan ahead to prevent cold-related injuries and illnesses.
Whether you're working outdoors, sledding, or making snow angels, exposure to cold can have serious health consequences, such as frostbite or hypothermia.
Here are some ideas for staying safe in the cold:
- Cover up. Pay particular attention to your face, head, neck, and hands.
- Dress in layers. Wear water-wicking fabrics, such as wool, silk, or polypropylene, next to your skin. Wear water-repellent outer layers, such as polyurethane laminate (PUL). Avoid cotton, which does not hold heat well.
- Stay dry, especially hands and feet, which can be prone to frostbite in freezing temperatures. Overexertion that leads to sweating can also cause your body temperature to drop.
- Take a rest. Limit exposure to extreme cold when possible, and take frequent breaks.
- Recognize the symptoms. Early signs of cold-related injuries and illness include shivering, fatigue, confusion, and loss of coordination.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention cold stress topic page
Oregon OSHA cold stress card (English and Spanish)
From DVD library (available for checkout):
Heat/Cold Stress | Winter safety | GENSAFE-23
Block the bugs
December 6, 2016 — Take positive steps to prevent the spread of infectious diseases—on and off the job.
Workplace illnesses are a common challenge in every organization, especially during seasonal outbreaks of influenza and the common cold. Workers who are sick are often more susceptible to workplace injuries and are usually less productive than employees who are healthy.
Here are some ideas for preventing infectious disease in the workplace and at home:
- Encourage people to stay home when ill. The Centers for Disease Control recommends staying home until 24 hours after vomiting has stopped or fever is gone without the use of a fever reducer.
- Wash hands-long enough to sing Happy Birthday twice.
- Cough into sleeves or into a facial tissue that is immediately discarded.
- Get vaccinated as recommended.
- SAIF's infectious disease topic page
- SAIF's Dodging the bugs: Infection control at work
- SAIF's flu fighters poster
From DVD library (available for checkout):
- Why don't we do it on our sleeves? | OCCUPAT-29
- Duet for clean hands (disc 1 and disc 2) | OCCUPAT-30
Disc 1 is 5 minutes; disc 2 is 6 minutes
Be road-trip ready
September 8, 2016 — Prepare for roadside emergencies by stocking your car with useful items.
Many jobs involve driving, but do we really think about preparing ourselves for what could happen on the road? Breakdowns, collisions, severe storms, or other natural disasters can put the brakes on your travel plans.
Keep these items in your vehicle in the event of an emergency:
- Warm blankets
- Jumper cables
- Tools to change a tire
- Fully charged cell phone
- First-aid kit
Hydrate for health
July 25, 2016 — Are you getting enough water? Important hydration tips for every day of the year.
When the sun is out, people naturally think about getting plenty of water. Employers will often admonish their workers to drink more water when the temperatures climb over 85 degrees.
However, hydration should be something we think about every day of the year-regardless of the outside temperature.
Here are a few tips to ensure you are staying hydrated:
- Drink small amounts of water throughout the day.
- Store water in an accessible location so it is available during the work shift.
- Avoid caffeine or energy drinks, which are diuretics and can lead to dehydration.
- Consume moisture rich foods such as cucumbers, carrots, or celery to supplement water intake. Monitor the color of your urine. It should be clear or lightly colored.
Additional resources: Hydration: information for employers and workers
Staying hydrated; staying healthy (American Heart Association)
Help your hands; use tools safely
June 28, 2016 — Most people work with hand tools at some point. Here are some easy tips for keeping your hands safe.
Seeing someone hit their thumb with a hammer in a slapstick comedy may be funny. Hurting your own thumb is no laughing matter. Neither is a laceration, another common injury with hand tools. Here are a few tips to keep your digits safe:
- Use the appropriate tool for its intended use.
- Keep the tool in good working condition.
- Replace broken or damaged tools.
- Use the tool correctly.
- Store the tool properly on a rack or in a toolbox.
Taking the sting (and itch) out of summer
June 3, 2016 — How to protect yourself from insect bites and poisonous plants
If you're lucky enough to work outdoors in the summer, you may be unlucky enough to get exposed to biting, stinging insects or poisonous plants, such as poison oak.
For the rest of us, outdoor summer activities such as hiking or camping may result in these unwelcome exposures. Either way, the prevention information below should come in handy.
Protecting against biting and stinging insects:
- Wear clothing to cover as much of the body as possible.
- Avoid perfumes and other scented personal care products.
- Wear insect repellent.
- Cover food immediately to avoid attracting insects.
- If you're allergic, let others know and carry an epinephrine autoinjector.
Protecting against poisonous plants:
- Wear clothing to cover as much of the body as possible.
- Use skins creams containing bentoquatum if you're in area where exposure may occur.
- Never burn poisonous plants; this may result in an allergic respiratory reaction.
- Remove exposed clothing carefully to avoid skin contact and launder separately from other clothing.
- Study pictures of poisonous plants so you can readily identify and avoid them.
Surviving an active shooter event
May 5, 2016 — Take time now to make a plan so you’ll know what to do if the unthinkable happens
It's not something anyone wants to think about-an active shooter at your workplace, your children's school, or in a public area such as a shopping mall. Even though it's scary, taking time to think about such an event allows you to make a plan-so you can react, instead of freezing, should the unthinkable occur.
The Department of Homeland Security in partnership with Ready Houston (City of Houston Emergency Management) has created a video entitled Run.Hide.Fight. It can be a useful training tool for employers who may want to educate their employees on tactics for surviving such an event. Other tips are available on the active shooter pocket card.
When law enforcement arrives:
- Remain calm and follow instructions.
- Put down any items in your hands (i.e., bags, jackets).
- Raise hands and spread fingers.
- Keep hands visible at all times.
- Avoid quick movements toward officers, such as holding on to them for safety.
- Avoid pointing, screaming or yelling.
- Do not stop to ask officers for help or direction when evacuating.
Violence in the workplace topic page
Spring into garden and landscape safety
March 29, 2016
With warmer weather comes yard and garden work-both at work and at home. Many employers have groundskeepers or maintenance employees keep the lawns mowed, foliage trimmed, and flowers blooming.
This work has many hazards-from power tools to pesticides-and it makes good business sense to review best practices with all employees. Remember, an injury at home can still negatively impact the workplace. Here are a few basics to remember:
- Use fuel containers approved by the U.S. Department of Transportation and store them safely, away from heat sources or potential sparks.
- Read pesticide labels and use them in accordance with manufacturer's recommendations.
- Wear personal protective equipment (PPE) both at work and at home. Long pants and gloves can go a long way toward protecting skin-and don't forget high visibility apparel if work will be performed around cars. Using a chainsaw? Wearing chaps could save your life in the event of an unexpected kickback.
Inspect all equipment before use, ensuring saw blades and electrical cords are in good condition. Make sure cords are heavy duty; equipping them with ground-fault-circuit-interrupters (GFCI) provides protection from electrocution.
Videos (can be checked out in video library):
- Groundskeeping safety: be a pro! - AGRI-11
- Danger: chain saw - GENSAFE-09
- Orientation to ag back injury prevention - AGRI-0
Simple steps to prevent falls
February 25, 2016 — Slips and trips are a common causes of workplace injuries—and one of the easiest to correct.
Slips, trips, and falls cause 15 percent of all accidental deaths, second only to motor vehicle accidents. They can happen anywhere and at any time.
With that in mind, reviewing some of the most common causes of slips, trips, and falls can make an impact at your worksite and increase safety awareness at home.
Slips, trips, or falls--what's the difference?
Slips are the result of insufficient traction between your footwear and your walking surface. Wet floors, ice, or unsecured mats or rugs can cause them. Trips result from your foot striking an object, causing you to lose balance. Examples include cords, tree roots, or uneven steps. Falls are often the result of slips or trips, and can lead to serious injuries such as broken bones or severe bruises.
How to prevent them:
- Start with the feet: How worn out are your shoe soles? Do they provide enough traction?
- Establish and maintain good housekeeping practices. Clutter can cause injuries.
- Ensure cords are bundled together, located out of walking areas, and secured to prevent tripping.
- Address spills immediately. Use wet floor warning signs--or even better, block off the area entirely--to protect pedestrians.
- Use ladders that are in good repair and follow manufacturer guidelines.
- Use extra caution when walking on ice or snow.
Videos (can be checked out at our video library): ·
- Slips, trips, and falls: stranger than friction (GENSAFE-30 English and GENSAFE-31 Spanish)
- Slips, trips, and falls (GENSAFE-53)
- Slips, trips, and falls: taking the right steps (GENSAFE-34)
Lockout/tagout: the key to safety around machinery
January 21, 2016
Controlling hazardous energy is critical to staying safe around machinery and its moving parts.
What is hazardous energy?
Hazardous energy can be generated directly or it can be the leftover or stored energy after machinery has been shut off. Either way, this energy can cause serious crushing injuries, electrocution, and even death.
According to OSHA, nearly 10 percent of serious accidents are caused by the failure to control hazardous energy, so investing time in reviewing proper procedures with employees is time well spent.
What is lockout/tagout?
Every machine or piece of equipment has its own specific lockout/tagout procedures, which should be used when repairing, servicing, or cleaning. These procedures are designed to safeguard workers from electrical, mechanical, gravitational, hydraulic, pneumatic, chemical, or thermal energy.
What do I need to do?
Well written energy control procedures must include the following steps:
- Inform all affected employees of shutdown.
- Turn off all equipment in the correct order.
- Find and use energy-isolating devices to block hazardous energy.
- Lock out or tag out the energy-isolating devices.
- Remove, drain, bleed off, or otherwise neutralize stored energy.
- Ensure the equipment is no longer connected to energy sources by turning it on.
- Lockout/tagout: safe in 8 (8 minutes)
- Lockout/tagout: training for employees (16 minutes)
- Lockout/tagout: make no mistake (17 minutes)
Life-saving advice for driving in winter
November 24, 2015
What's the best advice for driving in ice and snow? Don't drive at all if you can avoid it.
But if you must be on the road in winter weather, be prepared. Make sure your vehicle is well-maintained and has plenty of gas. Keep warm clothing, food and water, and an emergency kit in the vehicle. Check road and weather conditions before you leave. And allow extra time to reach your destination.
Here's more advice for staying safe on the road this winter. Discuss these ideas with your safety committee and develop a plan on how to implement them in your workplace.
Before you drive:·
- Check antifreeze and windshield fluid levels
- Check weather reports and road conditions. (Oregon Department of Transportation TripCheck)
- Make sure chains are in good condition and stowed neatly.
- Think about where you can stop, if necessary, for fuel and chaining up.
Pack an emergency kit.
Warm clothing is essential. Oregon OSHA also recommends that employers consider providing these supplies for workers who drive frequently as part of their jobs:
- Jumper cables
- First-aid kit
- Tow strap
- Flashlight or headlamp
- High visibility clothing or vest
- Thermal blanket
- Waterproof gloves
Also good to have:
- Knee pads and/or tarp for kneeling in snow and ice
Be safe on the road:
- Maintain a following distance of eight to 12 seconds.
- Adjust speed to compensate for reduced visibility and traction.
- Look a quarter mile ahead.
- Stay in the right lane. Avoid the shoulder, where vehicles may be stopped.
- Observe changing road conditions.
- Be ready to chain up if outside temperature falls below 35 degrees and no spray is visible from wet road.
- Leave window cracked and listen to detect chain malfunctions.
- Watch for iced bridges.
- Use high beams for visibility; low beams with oncoming traffic.
Winter driving best practices
Looking for more?
Leigh Manning is a senior safety management consultant for SAIF in Eugene and has been working in professional safety for more than 15 years. Prior to SAIF, Leigh worked in risk management at Safeway, Inc. Leigh has a B.A. in journalism from the University of Oregon and a Master’s of Public Health from Portland State University. She works extensively with the American Society of Safety Professionals, recently receiving a national Significant Contributor Award from the Health & Wellness branch of that organization. A fifth generation Oregonian, she is committed to making Oregon the safest state for all workers. She is also an avid fan of the Oregon Ducks.