Safety Topics


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.

november and december 2016 - decorations

Often the greatest fire and accident potential occurs as a result of decorations and displays installed for special events such as Christmas, Halloween, parties, etc. The Safety Committee is committed to providing a safe environment, free from these potential risks as well as providing guidelines for a safe celebration of all holidays and events. These rules apply year round. Any infringement is reported to the Safety Officer or Facility Services, and the offending items will be removed.

Use the following guidelines when decoration your area of AU Medical Center Inc.:

Decorations, Posters, and Furnishings

  • No furnishings, decorations, posters or other objects are permitted in egress routes.
  • No furnishings or decorations of highly flammable or combustible character are allowed in the facility.
  • All decorations and decorative materials are to be flame retardant or flameproof.
  • Loose paper or decorations on walls/doors shall not exceed 10% of the total wall surface. Only approved signage is allowed in corridors.
  • Do not tape decorations or papers onto other painted/varnished surfaces (ceilings, walls, door frames and doors) because it can damage the finish or block emergency information.
  • Do not hang decorations/signs/banners, etc. from ceiling tiles or ceiling tile grids because this will infringe on the fire protection properties of the ceiling.

 Decorating Guidelines

  • Do not install decorations within 24 inches of sprinkler heads or within 18 inches of the ceiling.
  • Do not place decorations near electrical equipment or other heat source.
  • No lit candles, open flames or spark producing devices are allowed as decorations.\
  • Lights or decorations must be UL approved and must be turned off when unattended. Never remove the UL listing information from the product.
  • Trip and fall hazards must be abated when using any decorations. Cords are not to run across aisles or corridors.
  • UL listed extension cords in good condition (no frays or exposed, inside wiring) may be used provided they are not piggybacked (two or more plugged together).
  • No decorations that impair the visibility of an exit sign or portable fire extinguisher shall be permitted.
  • Do not attach anything to sprinkler heads.
  • No glass decorations.
  • Department directors and manages are responsible for assuring that holiday decorations in their areas are in compliance with these guidelines.

 Holiday Specifics

  • The use of artificial trees and decorations is allowed. All must be listed as flame retardant by a nationally recognized testing laboratory with evidence of this attached to the tree or decoration.
  • Natural or "live" trees/decorations are not allowed.

Contact Safety Department (1-4527) with questions or to review any details of this document.

October 2016 - Workplace Violence

Workplace violence can be any act of physical violence, threats of physical violence, harassment, intimidation, or other threatening, disruptive behavior that occurs at the worksite. 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 a Team Approach

If you are in a situation in which hostility could occur, use the “buddy system."

Whatever the cause or whomever the perpetrator, workplace violence will not be accepted or tolerated.

Report any situation of violence to Security at 1-4787

September 2016 - Identification (ID) Badges Required
  • Employees (including leased, contract and volunteers) are required to wear their MCGHI issued badge at all times while at work. Badges should be displayed above the waist and have photo side out and visible.
  • Vendors and service contractors are also required to have a MCGHI ID badge issued by Materials Management, Security or Facilities/Construction.
  • Should any person without a MCGHI or a MCG identification badge be in any area, staff in that area should inquire/check the identity of that person.
  • Suspicious persons should be reported to Security at 1-4787.
  • All MCGHI staff has the responsibility and duty to make inquiry should there be an unfamiliar person in their particular department.
  • It is a Joint Commission requirement that we identify all staff/persons working in the hospital. As part of our Environment of Care rounds, we are looking for 100% compliance.
August 2016 - Life Safety Issues

Joint Commission requires that an 8-foot clear corridor must be maintained at all times.

Wheeled carts that are “currently in use” are allowed in a corridor (i.e., housekeeping carts, dietary and linen carts, etc.) as long as they are being actively used.

Computers on Wheels (COWS) may never be plugged in to recharge within a corridor.

Fire extinguishers should never be blocked. This limits access during emergencies.

Exits must be kept clear at all times.

Exit signs must never be blocked.

Fire doors should never be propped open.

Each employee should know:

  • Non-ambulatory patient relocation routes
  • Ambulatory patient/visitor evacuation routes
July 2016 - Corridor Clutter

The Joint Commission’s focus on Life Code Compliance doesn’t look to be subsiding. Their focus is on the protection and ultimate evacuation of persons from the immediate area to a safe area of refuge should a fire occur.

National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 101 18.2.3.4 states, “Aisles, corridors, and ramps required for exit access in a hospital or nursing home shall be not less than 8 ft. (2440 mm) in clear and unobstructed width.”

There are simple steps we can take that may help us stay in compliance. One such step is watching for items obstructing corridors. Corridor exit paths must be kept free from obstructions, including unattended items that are not considered in use. Corridor use should be restricted to pedestrian traffic only.

A pervasive problem is the presence of items such as biomedical equipment, linen carts, housekeeping carts, COWS, food carts, wheelchairs, beds, furniture, etc. in corridors. These items should not remain unattended in corridors for more than 30 minutes.

There is one notable exception: Isolation carts can remain in corridors outside active isolation rooms at all times. When the room is empty, the cart must be relocated.

June 2016 - Storage of Medical Gas Cylinders
  • All medical gas storage areas must be properly identified.
  • All freestanding cylinders must be stored in a rack, cart, or other secure enclosure. Unsecured cylinders could fall, possibly breaking the valve and resulting in a rapid release of the gas, propelling the cylinder and making it a dangerous projectile.
  • Staff should be able to easily identify the status of containers (Full / In Use / Empty) by viewing the yellow status tag on each cylinder. Separate Full containers from In Use and Empty ones to prevent staff from accidentally retrieving a partially full or empty cylinder by mistake.
  • Maximum storage limit of 12 E-size oxygen cylinders are allowed in rooms with less than 1-hour fire rated walls. Cylinders not included in this storage limit are those that are partially used, or empty.
  • Cylinders are considered “in use” (and do not count against the 12 E-size cylinder limit) if they are: available to a patient at bedside, properly secured on a gurney, on crash carts, etc.

If you have questions concerning storage of medical gas cylinders, contact Augusta University Health Safety Office at 706-721-4527.

May 2016 - Summer safety

As summer approaches, families will soon be spending their days outside enjoying the warm weather and the fun activities that it brings. For many Americans, summer means fun in the sun. The kids are out of school, adults are on vacation and it’s time for many outdoor activities. Summer, however, is also the time of year we are most likely to be injured.

During the summer months, hospitals see their share of children and adults with burns caused by sun exposure, camp fires and fireworks. Children and adults need to remember that a burn accident may only take a moment, but can affect the lives of its victims (and their families) for a lifetime.

Keep yourself and your children safe and healthy during this summer season by learning about:

April 2016 - Eye Wash Stations

More often than you would think, workers and employees on the job site will get foreign particles, or even worse, chemicals in their eyes, and they will need an emergency cleanup before it gets worse. The number one thing to remember when someone gets something in their eyes on the job site is that time is essential! Hopefully, there is an emergency eye wash station nearby so that the first steps of first aid treatment can be administered right away. If not, then the odds of permanent damage to the eyes increases significantly. Every job site should have plenty of eye wash stations available. The difference between having them and not having them can mean the difference between vision and blindness for whoever is needing one at the time. Don’t neglect eye wash stations! You may think they’re not that important, but you will quickly realize how wrong you are when an eye emergency strikes.

If someone gets foreign particles or chemicals in their eyes, then an emergency eye wash station or deluge shower is the first step of first aid treatment. If it is an actual chemical burn to the eye, then your emergency will be much more urgent. You will want to immediately use an eye wash station or deluge shower if:

  • The Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) identifies the chemical being used is toxic, caustic, or corrosive. 
  • The MSDS indicates that serious eye injuries will result if the condition is not treated immediately.
  • Container labels have warnings such as “Causes Chemical Burns” or “Causes Permanent Eye Damage”.

Along with this, eye wash stations and deluge showers must contain the following:

  • Pure, clean water. 
  • The ability to operate them without hands.
  • Constant water flow for a period of 15 minutes.
  • Unobstructed access.
  • Highly visible signs and markings.

Remember, the single most important thing to do once someone has chemically burned eyes is to thoroughly and intensively clean them out within seconds of the injury occurring. You cannot waste time! This means that the person who suffered the eye injury should not have to navigate around or climb over objects on their way to the eye wash station. This wastes precious time. Ensure that there are no barriers of any shape or form blocking or impeding one’s path to the station. This can mean the difference between saving one’s vision and permanent blindness.

As for the eye wash stations and deluge showers themselves, they should be inspected on a regular basis. Deluge showers should have all functions working properly and have an adequate rate of water flow. They also need to be clean and sanitary. When water is not accessible to a particular area, or there is not enough water plumbed in to an area to provide enough water flow for a deluge shower, then portable emergency eye wash stations need to be made available. These units must have an anti-bacterial additive to maintain the appropriate water sanitation. Remember that it is better to flush out infected eyes with any type of water than nothing at all, although purified water will reduce the possibility of a secondary eye infection.

Another important thing to remember, although this should be obvious, is the fact that all employees who will be exposed to possible chemical splashes or foreign particles flying into their eyes must be properly trained beforehand on how to use an eye wash station or deluge shower. Training should cover:

  • What to do immediately after the incident. This includes flooding the eye with water or an eye wash solution while using fingers to keep the eyes as wide open as possible. It is absolutely vital to clean out the eyes intensively and thoroughly. 
  • Rolling the eyes around as much possible. This will help to remove any foreign particles still underneath the eyelids. DO NOT use anything except water to remove anything from eyes.
  • After thoroughly and intensively cleansing the eyes out for at least 15 minutes, the victim needs to be taken to the nearest hospital immediately. The eyes should continue to be cleaned out while being transported. Portable eye wash stations can be used for this.

Emergency eye wash stations can be one of the most important things you implement on a job site. They are easy to forget about, and a lot of times workers don’t necessarily consider them that important. However, once an emergency strikes and someone has damaging materials or substances in their eyes, eye wash stations become the most important part of the entire job site and the affected individual’s vision. Don’t neglect eye safety on the job site by simply refusing to implement emergency eye wash stations! Make sure you have properly working stations at strategic locations throughout the job site and you, and your workers, will be much better off for it.