Insect & Spider Bites Each year many workers experience insect and spider bites serious enough to make them lose time off the job. If you are stung by a bee, remove the stinger gently (with tweezers, if possible) and avoid squeezing the poison sac.  Apply an ice pack or a cloth dipped in cold water to reduce swelling and itching.  A sting from a yellow jacket can be deadly.  These insects feed on dead animals and can cause blood poisoning.  If you have an allergic reaction to a bite, get medical help immediately. Of spiders causing serious medical problems only the black widow...

Injury and Illness Prevention Program Every employer is required by law to provide a safe and healthful workplace to his/her employees.  In accordance with the Code of Regulations, your employer needs to have an effective Injury and Illness Prevention Program (IIPP) in writing.  There is a specific IIPP required for the construction industry, the Construction IIPP.  What should you expect to see in an IIPP?  It is a written plan that has the following elements: Management commitment/assignment of responsibilities Safety communications system with employees System for assuring employee compliance with safe work practices Scheduled inspections/evaluation system Accident investigation Procedures for correcting...

Hearing Protection Devices Hearing protection devices (HPD) such as earmuffs and earplugs can be an effective measure to protect hearing in noisy work environments.  However, hearing protection devices are only effective if they are properly sized and carefully fitted into or over the ear.  The two common HPD categories are earplugs and earmuffs. There are several common types of hearing protection devices: Formable earplugs made of expandable foam.  One size fits most people. Premolded earplugs made from flexible plastics.  Often sold in different sizes, they should be selected to provide best fit for each ear. Semi-aural devices, or canal caps, consisting of...

CAL/OSHA Heat Stress Changes Over the objections of employer groups and applause from labor representatives, the Cal/OSH Standards Board approved major revisions to the state's heat illness prevention standard. Executive Officer Marley Hart said the board would request an early effective date for the revisions from the Office of Administrative Law – April 1 instead of July 1. That means that employers must revise their heat illness programs and train employees on an accelerated schedule, with barely five weeks before the changes become enforceable.  Under normal circumstances, the changes would trigger on July 1, as OAL sets effective dates quarterly and April...

Handle Glass Safely The risk of injury from the storage, handling and disposal of glassware or broken glass exists in most workplaces. Broken glass can cause lacerations, cuts, and puncture wounds which may result in severed arteries or tendons, amputations, eye injuries, or exposure to disease. For situations involving broken glass, workers should know the safe handling procedures, the necessity of proper protective equipment, and the importance of obtaining prompt and effective first aid for injuries. Workers should know to keep glass containers off machines, work benches, or window sills and off the floor. They should never throw glass, whether broken or whole...

Fall Protection It may seem that a job can be performed more efficiently without spending the time to protect against falls.  However, falls remain one of the top causes of fatalities in construction.  Workers have fallen off edges of every description, especially floors and roofs, and through openings in floors, roofs, and walls.  Fall protection is required whenever a worker faces serious risk of injury, including: on structures where a worker could fall more than 7 feet; on thrust outs, trusses, beams, purlins, and plates at heights over 15 feet; on a sloped roof. To prevent accidental falls at worksites, guardrails and toe...

Working Safely Around Electricity Industry runs on electricity. It’s safe to use when you know what you’re doing and take proper precautions. When precautions are not taken, electricity can be a killer. How you are affected by electric shock depends on the following factors: The rate the current flows through your body. This depends on how good your body conducts electricity. If you have dry hands and are standing on a non-conductive surface such as a rubber mat, you may not even feel a shock. If you are perspiring and are standing in water, you could be killed. The length of time...

Don’t Take Back Problems Sitting Down! Why do so many of us have back problems today?  In part, it’s the way our work and lifestyle has evolved.  As people grow more sedentary in an increasingly automated world, we’re doing more sitting and adding extra pounds.  As a result, our backs are becoming more vulnerable to injury. Sitting, especially slouching, is one of the most common positions during our waking hours.  It also happens to be one of the worst positions for our backs, by putting continuous pressure on the lower back muscles and disks. Low back pain is a warning that something is...

Be Informed About the Africanized Honey Bee In 1956, a breed of African honey bee was brought to Brazil in an effort to increase honey production. When these bees interbred with European honey bees, they produced a new variety of bee called the "Africanized honey bee." These bees are sometimes referred to as "killer bees" because of their aggressively defensive behavior around their nests. Although bee keeping and bee transportation are regulated by the government, the Africanized honey bee has now become part of California's environment and can be found in areas along with the European honey bee. Both varieties of bees...

Ladder Safety Normally when I come across pictures like this,  assume it's a joke of some sort. Either the setting was staged, or the picture was Photoshopped. This photo - not so much. A very good friend of mine was at work while he was having his house painted. When he came home that evening, imagine his shock when he noticed how the ladder was being supported. The painter's explanation? He simply explained to my friend that he'd been painting for over 20 years. Please, I remind everyone: Ladders must be maintained free of oil, grease, and other slipping hazards. Ladders must...