Safety Topics


november 2017

Ear plugs are important! Use earplugs or earmuffs to protect you from loud noises. Long term exposure to 80-85 decibels or more can cause hearing loss without protection. It is not recommended to be exposed to 100 decibels without any protection for more than 15 minutes. Hearing loss can be permanent.

Decibel levels of common sounds:

  • Aircraft takeoff: 180
  • Chainsaw: 110
  • Amplified music: 110
  • Lawnmower: 90
  • Normal conversation: 60

Signs of noise being too loud at workplace:

  • Ringing or humming in your ears when you leave work.
  • You have to shout to hear coworkers at arm’s length away.
  • You experience temporary hearing loss when you leave work.

Properly wearing ear plugs:

Rubber Style Ear plugs:

  1. Reach over your head and pull the top of the ear outward and upward.
  2. With the other hand grasp the ear plug handle and gently push and rock into ear canal until a good seal is made.
  3. Adjust to the greatest noise reduction.
  4. Remove with a slow twisting motion to break seal.

Foam Style Ear Plugs:

  1. Roll the plug into a small cylinder.
  2. Reach overhead and pull the top of the ear outward and upward.
  3. Insert the plug in the ear canal.
  4. Hold it in the ear canal until the plug expands and a good seal is made.
  5. Remove with a slow twisting motion to break seal.

october 2017

The U.S. Fire Administration reports that fires kill more than 4,000 Americans each year and injure approximately 20,000 more.  U.S. fire departments respond to nearly 2 million fires each year, with three-quarters of them occurring in residences.

A home is often referred to as a safe haven.  This month, make sure your home is protected from (and your family is prepared for) a fire.  Here are 10 simple tips to help you avoid fires and reduce the risk of injury should one occur:

1)      Smoke Alarms – These are still a very important addition to your home.  Smoke alarms are widely available and inexpensive.  Install a smoke alarm on every level of your home and test it monthly.

2)      Prevent Electrical Fires – Don’t overload circuits or extension cords.  Cords and wires should never be placed  under rugs or in high traffic areas.  Avoid loose electrical connections by checking the fit of the plug in the wall outlet.  If the plug loosely fits, inspect the outlet right away.  A poor connection between the plug and the outlet can cause overheating and can start a fire in minutes.

3)      Keep Plugs Safe – Unplug all appliances when not in use.  Follow the manufacturer’s safety precautions and use your senses to spot any potential disasters.  If a plug is overheating, smells strange, shorts out or sparks – the appliance should be shut off immediately, then replaced or repaired.

4)      Alternate Heaters – Make sure there is ample space around any portable heating unit.  Anything that could catch fire should be at least three feet away.  Inspect your chimney annually and use fire screens to help keep any fires in the fireplace.

5)      Fire Safety Sprinklers – When combined with working smoke alarms, home fire sprinklers greatly increase your chance of surviving a fire.  Sprinklers are affordable and they can increase property value and lower insurance rates.

6)      Create An Escape Route – Create and practice your escape plan with your family from every room in the house.  Practice staying low to the floor and checking for hot doors using the back of your hand.  It’s just like a routine school fire drill – but in your home.

7)      Position Appliances Carefully – Try to keep TV sets, kitchen and other appliances away from windows with curtains.  If there is a wiring problem, curtains can spread a fire quickly.  Additionally, keeping your appliances away from water sources (like rain coming in from windows) can help prevent wiring damage which can lead to a fire.

8)      Clean Dryer Vents – Clothes dryers often start fires in residential areas.  Clean the lint filter every time you start a load of clothes to dry or after the drying cycle is complete.  Make sure your exhaust duct is made of metal tubing and not plastic or foil.  Clean the exhaust duct with a good quality dryer vent brush to prevent blockage & check for lint build up behind the dryer at least twice a year.

9)      Be Careful Around the Holidays – If you fill your home with lights during the holiday season, keep them away from anything that can easily catch fire.  Check all of your lights prior to stringing them up and dispose of anything with frayed or exposed wires.

10)   Conduct Regular Inspections – Check all of your electronic equipment and wiring at least once a month.  Taking a little time to do this each month can really pay off.

Following these simple tips could potentially save your life or the life of a loved one.  Pass this list on to your friends and family and make this fire prevention month count!

September 2017

Workplace Violence

  • AU Health has a zero tolerance program;
  • Verbal threats and physical contact are forms of workplace violence;
  • Workplace Violence should be immediately reported to security and /or department supervisor;
  • All workplace violence reports are taken seriously and investigated immediately.

“0” Tolerance 

Workplace violence can be any act of physical violence, threats of physical violence, harassment, intimidation, or other threatening, disruptive behavior that occurs at the work site. Workplace violence can affect or involve employees, visitors, patients, or contractors. It can be inflicted by an abusive employee, manager, supervisor, co-worker, patient, family member, or even a stranger.

A number of different actions can trigger workplace violence. It can also be the result of a non-work-related situation such as domestic violence or “road rage”

Tips to Avoid Workplace Violence

  • Assess Your Work environment: Critically examine all areas of your work environment. Do you have a method to summon assistance?
  • Pay Attention to the Warning Signs: Many people who become violent communicate their intentions in advance.
  • Trust Your Instincts: Don’t ignore your internal warning system. If you sense impending danger, react accordingly.
  • Use Team Approach: If you are in a situation in which hostility could occur, use the  “buddy system”.

august 2017

School days bring congestion: Yellow school buses are picking up their charges, kids on bikes are hurrying to get to school before the bell rings, harried parents are trying to drop their kids off before work.

It's never more important for drivers to slow down and pay attention than when kids are present – especially before and after school.

If You're Dropping Off:

Schools often have very specific drop-off procedures for the school year. Make sure you know them for the safety of all kids. More children are hit by cars near schools than at any other location, according to the National Safe Routes to School program. The following apply to all school zones:

  •  Don't double park; it blocks visibility for other children and vehicles
  • Don't load or unload children across the street from the school
  • Carpool to reduce the number of vehicles at the school

Sharing the Road with Young Pedestrians:

According to research by the National Safety Council, most of the children who lose their lives in bus-related incidents are 4 to 7 years old, and they're walking. They are hit by the bus, or by a motorist illegally passing a stopped bus. A few precautions go a long way toward keeping children safe:

  • Don't block the crosswalk when stopped at a red light or waiting to make a turn, forcing pedestrians to go around you; this could put them in the path of moving traffic
  • In a school zone when flashers are blinking, stop and yield to pedestrians crossing the crosswalk or intersection
  • Always stop for a school patrol officer or crossing guard holding up a stop sign
  • Take extra care to look out for children in school zones, near playgrounds and parks, and in all residential areas
  • Don't honk or rev your engine to scare a pedestrian, even if you have the right of way
  • Never pass a vehicle stopped for pedestrians
  • Always use extreme caution to avoid striking pedestrians wherever they may be, no matter who has the right of way

Sharing the Road with School Buses:

If you're driving behind a bus, allow a greater following distance than if you were driving behind a car. It will give you more time to stop once the yellow lights start flashing. It is illegal in all 50 states to pass a school bus that is stopped to load or unload children.

  • Never pass a bus from behind – or from either direction if you're on an undivided road – if it is stopped to load or unload children
  • If the yellow or red lights are flashing and the stop arm is extended, traffic must stop
  • The area 10 feet around a school bus is the most dangerous for children; stop far enough back to allow them space to safely enter and exit the bus
  • Be alert; children often are unpredictable, and they tend to ignore hazards and take risks

Sharing the Road with Bicyclists:

On most roads, bicyclists have the same rights and responsibilities as vehicles, but bikes can be hard to see. Children riding bikes create special problems for drivers because usually they are not able to properly determine traffic conditions. The most common cause of collision is a driver turning left in front of a bicyclist.

  • When passing a bicyclist, proceed in the same direction slowly, and leave 3 feet between your car and the cyclist
  • When turning left and a bicyclist is approaching in the opposite direction, wait for the rider to pass
  • If you're turning right and a bicyclists is approaching from behind on the right, let the rider go through the intersection first, and always use your turn signals
  • Watch for bike riders turning in front of you without looking or signaling; children especially have a tendency to do this
  • Be extra vigilant in school zones and residential neighborhoods
  • Watch for bikes coming from driveways or behind parked cars
  • Check side mirrors before opening your door

By exercising a little extra care and caution, drivers and pedestrians can co-exist safely in school zones.

July 2017

Tip #1: What is Heat Stroke?

Heat stroke occurs after prolonged exposure to high temperatures. It often occurs in people who are also dehydrated, causing the body’s temperature regulation system to fail. Someone with heat stroke has a core body temperature of at least 105 F, along with symptoms related to the central nervous system.

Tip #2: What is Heat Exhaustion?

Heat exhaustion is a precursor to heat stroke. It occurs when someone is exposed to high temperatures for a long period of time. If you spend a lot of time in high temperatures and don’t replace lost fluids, your body’s temperature regulation system becomes overwhelmed and produces excess heat. You should seek medical attention for heat exhaustion so it does not turn into heat stroke, which is life-threatening.

Tip #3: Heat Exhaustion and Heat Stroke: Signs and Symptoms

Heavy sweating, headache, and excessive thirst are among the most common symptoms of heat exhaustion. This condition also produces the following signs and symptoms:

  • Fatigue
  • Clammy skin
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Increased temperature
  • Fainting
  • Muscle cramps

If heat stroke progresses to heat exhaustion, the person’s body temperature may exceed 104 F. Other symptoms of heatstroke include dry skin, lack of sweating, throbbing headache, muscle cramps or weakness, rapid breathing, rapid heartbeat, seizures, and disorientation. Untreated heat stroke may lead to heart attack and death.

Tip #4: What to Do for Heat Exhaustion and Heat Stroke

If you suspect you have heat exhaustion, there are several things you should do. The best thing to do is go indoors and sit in an air-conditioned room or a room with a fan. If you are at work and can’t go inside, move to a shady spot outdoors. Replace lost fluids by drinking cool water or a sports drink containing electrolytes. Avoid icy-cold drinks in favor of cool liquids. Cool off by spritzing cold water on your skin, taking a cold shower, or immersing yourself in a swimming pool or bathtub filled with cool water.

Heat stroke is a medical emergency. If you suspect someone you know has heat stroke, call 911 or take the person to the hospital immediately. While you wait for the paramedics to arrive, move the person to a cooler environment and remove socks, long-sleeved shirts, and other unnecessary pieces of clothing. Fanning the person, applying ice packs, or immersing the person in a tub of cold water are all ways to reduce core body temperature to a safer level.

Tip #5: Preventing Heat Stroke and Heat Exhaustion

You should always take steps to prevent heat stroke, whether you are working outdoors or enjoying fun in the sun. Always wear lightweight clothing, drink plenty of water, and avoid strenuous activity during the hottest parts of the day. If you take prescription medications, take special precautions to avoid extreme temperatures and dehydration.

If you work outdoors or in a hot warehouse, wear light-colored clothing made with breathable fabrics. When you get to work, build up to strenuous activities instead of starting with your most strenuous tasks. Take plenty of breaks to drink cool liquids and spend some time out of the heat. Avoiding alcohol and sugary drinks will help you prevent dehydration and reduce the risk of heat stroke.

Tip #6: Seeking Medical Attention

If you have the symptoms of heat exhaustion, come to Physicians Now to see an experienced healthcare professional. We’ll examine you thoroughly and administer fluids or medications to help you feel better.

June 2017

Rodents, snakes, and insects are all on the move. It is important that all employees make themselves aware of local animals and dangers associated with them.

Insects, Spiders, and Ticks

  • Use insect repellents that contain DEET or Picaridin
  • Report insect bites to Employee Health
  • Avoid fire ants, their bites are painful and cause blisters
  • Be aware of your allergies to insects (ants, bees, wasps)

Rodents and Other Wild Animals

  • Dead and live animals can spread diseases such as rabies
  • Avoid contact with wild or stray animals ( they do not make good pets)
  • Avoid contact with rats or rat-contaminated buildings
  • If bitten or scratched, get medical attention immediately

Snakes

  • Watch where you place your hands and feet when removing debris. If possible, don’t place your fingers under debris you are moving.
  • Wear heavy gloves
  • If you see a snake, step back and allow it to proceed.
  • Watch for snakes on fallen trees, limbs or other debris.
  • Never step over a large log.
  • A snake’s striking distance is about ½ the total length of the snake.
  • If bitten, note the color and shape of the snake’s head to help with treatment.
  • Keep bite victims still and calm to slow the spread of the venom in case the snake is poisonous. Seek medical attention as soon as possible.

may 2017

Fun in the Sun

Babies under 6 months:

  • The two main recommendations from the AAP to prevent sunburn are to avoid sun exposure, and to dress infants in lightweight long pants, long-sleeved shirts, and brimmed hats that shade the neck to prevent sunburn. However, when adequate clothing and shade are not available, parents can apply a minimal amount of sunscreen with at least 15 SPF (sun protection factor) to small areas, such as the infant's face and the back of the hands. If an infant gets sunburn, apply cool compresses to the affected area. See Baby Sunburn Prevention for more information.

For all other children:

  • The first, and best, line of defense against harmful ultraviolet radiation (UVR) exposure is covering up. Stay in the shade whenever possible, and limit sun exposure during the peak intensity hours - between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
  • Wear a hat with a three-inch brim or a bill facing forward, sunglasses (look for sunglasses that provide 97% -100% protection against both UVA and UVB rays), and clothing with a tight weave.
  • On both sunny and cloudy days use a sunscreen with an SPF 15 or greater that protects against UVA and UVB rays.
  • Be sure to apply enough sunscreen -- about one ounce per sitting for a young adult.
  • Reapply sunscreen every two hours, or after swimming or sweating.
  • Use extra caution near water and sand (and even snow!) as they reflect UV rays and may result in sunburn more quickly.

Heat Stress in Exercising Children

  • The intensity of activities that last 15 minutes or more should be reduced whenever high heat or humidity reach critical levels.
  • At the beginning of a strenuous exercise program or after traveling to a warmer climate, the intensity and duration of outdoor activities should start low and then gradually increase over 7 to 14 days to acclimate to the heat, particularly if it is very humid.
  • Before outdoor physical activities, children should drink freely and should not feel thirsty. During activities less than one hour, water alone is fine. Kids should always have water or a sports drink available and take a break to drink every 20 minutes while active in the heat.
  • Clothing should be light-colored and lightweight and limited to one layer of absorbent material to facilitate evaporation of sweat. Sweat-saturated shirts should be replaced by dry clothing.
  • Practices and games played in the heat should be shortened and there should be more frequent water/hydration breaks. Children should promptly move to cooler environments if they feel dizzy, lightheaded or nauseated.

Heat Stress in Infants

Infants and small children are not able to regulate their body temperature in the same way that adults do. Every year, children die from heat stroke from being left in a hot car, often unintentionally, with the majority of these deaths occurring in children 3 and under.

Here are a few tips for parents when traveling in a car with infants or young children:

  • Always check the back seat to make sure all children are out of the car when you arrive at your destination.
  • Avoid distractions while driving, especially cell phone use.
  • Be especially aware of kids in the car when there is a change from the routine, ie. someone else is driving them in the morning, you take a different route to work or child care.
  • Have your childcare provider call if your child has not arrived within 10 minutes of the expected arrival time.
  • Place you cell phone, bag or purse in the back seat, so you are reminded to check the back seat when you arrive at your destination.
  • The inside of a car can reach dangerous temperatures quickly, even when the outside temperature is not hot. Never leave a child alone in a car, even if you expect to come back soon. Lock your car when it is parked so children cannot get in without supervision. See Prevent Child Deaths in Hot Cars for more information. 

APRIL 2017

Power Outages

If you experience a loss of power, the hospital’s generators will engage after a few seconds, which will provide limited power until regular power can be restored.

It is important to note that, during the loss of power, the generators will only supply power to “RED” wall outlets. These outlets are considered mission critical outlets and should only have mission critical equipment plugged into them.

Please remind staff to never use the “RED” outlets for equipment that is not mission critical.

Power Strips

Only one Power Strip should be used at a time (never should be piggy-backed with another strip). Power Strips should not be used to run refrigerators or Space Heaters.

Extension Cords

Should only be used as a temporary means of power and never plugged into a power strip. Facilities should be contacted if there is a need for additional outlets.

March 2017

Spring Has Sprung! Get Ready for Some of America’s Wildest Weather! #SpringSafety

Tornadoes, lightning, floods, rip currents and early season heat - spring is three months of danger that can imperil the unprepared. It roars in like a lion, rampaging across the United States throughout March, April and May. And there’s one hazard that can strike the coasts at any time: tsunamis.

Spring hazards include:

  • Severe Weather/Tornadoes
  • Floods
  • Lightning
  • Tsunamis
  • Rip Currents/Beach Hazards
  • Heat

Nobody knows the hazards of this dynamic season more than NOAA’s National Weather Service (NWS). We ask that you get weather-ready for spring with just a few simple steps:

1. Know Your Risk

Check weather.gov every morning. It is a simple action that will ensure that you’re ready for the day’s weather. Don’t leave home without knowing the forecast.

2. Take Action!

Assemble an emergency supplies kit with 72 hours worth of food and water. In an emergency (such as after a tornado or some other hazard event), you may be stuck at home without electricity for three days or more. Make sure that you’re prepared. Also, ensure that everyone in your life knows how to stay in touch with an emergency communication plan. This plan lists meeting places and alternate ways of communicating in case of emergency.

3. Be A Force of Nature

Inspire others by sharing your weather-ready story on social media with the hashtag #SpringSafety. It can be a simple as posting a photo of your emergency supplies kit or letting your friends know how to reach you during an emergency. Together, we can build a Weather-Ready Nation, one that is ready for any extreme weather, water, or climate event.

Spring Hazards

You are not powerless in the face of extreme weather and water events. Learn about the hazards most common to spring - and some that are threats year-round - and what you can do about them.

January 2017

Vertical evacuation is a last resort. Horizontal movement (side-to-side) into the next smoke compartment is always the first choice, if possible.

Each AU Medical Center department should have an evacuation plan.

The plan should provide evacuation route information and internal departmental procedures.

Any employee should take action if either staff, patients or visitors are in immediate danger.

Facilities Safety is available at 706-721-4527 to schedule discussions and/or provide training for evacuation.