Wednesday, February 21, 2024

The Four Dangerous States of Mind

Did you know there are four particular states of mind that have been found to lead to incidents?

When you're rushing, frustrated, fatigued, or lulled into a sense of safety with complacency, you can find yourself more likely become involved in an incident if you're doing a safety-sensitive task. That could be anything from working with a hand tool (hammer to the thumb -- ouch!), setting up an extension ladder, driving, or operating heavy equipment, such as a forklift.

 


 

1. Rushing - When you're in a hurry, mistakes can multiply fast, and more than that, your mind is probably not on the task at hand. You're probably hurrying along for a reason. You're worried about what's next. Are you late for something or is a deadline approaching for work? Regardless of the reason, you're more worried about what's coming next than what's going on right in front of you.


2. Frustration - We've all been there. Frustration can build up from seemingly small annoyances until there's one that finally breaks the camel's back. And when we get to that point, we're not so much worried about doing the job right anymore, we're ready to let that frustration have an outlet. Learn to monitor yourself before you get to this point. Walking away before you get here is always the better choice.


3. Fatigue - Who hasn't experienced an afternoon slump before? More than this, a night or two of less-than-ideal sleep can leave you without the energy you need to get through the day. Fatigue is especially dangerous when driving or operating heavy machinery. Step away to find rest if you can't safely drive with your current state of mind.

4. Complacency - This one is maybe less known and probably the sneakiest. 

Very sneaky.
 

People are absolutely great at adapting to their environment, even when their environment is high risk. What can happen is that those that work in high risk environments -- like roofers at height or tank cleaners in confined spaces -- slowly become used to the risks and fail to appreciate their environments as risky anymore. Day in and day out, the risks begin to become the everyday backdrop to their work lives. Sometimes it's important to rattle our own cages and remind ourselves of the true dangers of these risks, even if it's ever-present for these employees every day.

These mental states are normal, human experiences and they're not going to be avoided all the time. But it's important to be vigilant for them in yourselves, your coworkers, and your employees, if you're a supervisor. If you do, you just may prevent an injury or even save a life.

Tuesday, February 13, 2024

Is your heart feeling heavy after hearing about Stanley cups?

You may have heard the news that everyone was a little worried about their Stanley cups' lead content for a few days. After the fears being mostly swept away (the only lead content is a pellet that's behind a cover under the bottom of the tumblers), it's still a great reminder that there are dangerous substances in our environments that can be harmful if we don't take the necessary precautions.

So, do we need to be worried about lead exposure? How seriously do we need to be taking all those jokes about eating lead paint chips?

Here's a video under three minutes that explains the symptoms of lead exposure, the activities that may expose you to lead, and how you can protect yourself.

According to Mayo Clinic, symptoms of lead poisoning in adults include: 

  • High blood pressure
  • Joint and muscle pain
  • Difficulties with memory or concentration
  • Headache
  • Abdominal pain
  • Mood disorders

The group with by far the highest exposure is children (more on that here), but we like to focus on occupational exposure around here, so according to the CDC here's some instances where you might be exposed to lead in the workplace:

"Although children are at greater risk from lead exposure, adult exposures can also result in harmful health effects.

  • Most adult exposures are occupational and occur in lead-related industries such as [CDC 2016]
    • Manufacturing,
    • Construction,
    • Services, and
    • Mining.
  • One frequent source of lead exposure to adults is home renovation that involves
    • Scraping,
    • Remodeling, or
    • Otherwise disturbing lead-based paint.

Renovation involving lead based paint should only be undertaken after proper training, or with the use of certified personnel (see EPA’s Safe Renovation brochure at http://www2.epa.gov/lead/lead-safecertified-guide-renovate-right.

Adults can also be exposed during certain hobbies and activities where lead is used [CDC 2011a]. Some of the more common examples include

  • Artistic painting,
  • Car repair,
  • Electronics soldering,
  • Glazed pottery making,
  • Metal soldering,
  • Molding of bullets, slugs, or fishing sinkers,
  • Stained-glass making, and
  • Shooting firearms.

Tobacco smoke is a source of lead [Apostolou et al. 2012; Mannino et al. 2005; Mannino et al. 2003]."

So unless you're tampering with the bottom of your Stanley cups, there's not too much to worry about, but lead exposure in general is not something to take lightly. Make sure you know your facts.



 



Monday, February 5, 2024

Winter and Your Health

Now that we're in the thick of winter with spring still a long way off, here's some info to help protect your health during the cold months ahead. 

Resource Roundup

Heart Health: Winter can be hard on the body in surprising ways, particularly when we think about heart health. It's somewhat common knowledge that shoveling snow comes with an elevated risk of heart attack if there are some risk factors present, but many might not know why. 

This article from the NSC goes over the specifics. It boils down to the fact that sudden exertion after long periods of being sedentary can put a lot of strain on the heart. Remember to take it slow shoveling, especially if it's the most you've done for a while!

Immune System: It's not just your imagination; people get more illnesses through the cold winter months. According to this article from Northwestern Medicine, this is due to a variety of factors, such as the body not being as effective at fighting off viruses when cold air enters the respiratory system, and lower indoor humidity levels. Take precautions such as washing your hands often to help prevent the spread of illnesses.

Body Temperature: While we've been enjoying nicer temperatures over the past while, we had a pretty cold snap earlier in January. The risk of hypothermia and frostbite is higher as the temperature drops. From this CDC article, early signs of hypothermia include "shivering, exhaustion, confusion, fumbling hands, memory loss, slurred speech, and drowsiness." Early signs of frostbite include "a white or grayish-yellow skin area, skin that feels unusually firm or waxy, and numbness."

Respiratory System: Cold weather can also take a toll on your respiratory system if you have a pre-existing respiratory issue, such as asthma or COPD. This article from the Mayo Clinic goes into further detail, but if you do have a lung disease, take care to keep an extra supply of inhaler or other equipment and medication on hand and stay out of the cold as much as possible.

While we're all looking forward to getting out of the gray days of winter, the health risks associated with the cold might not be the first things on our mind. We should keep these issues in mind while we continue to dream of spring.

Monday, January 29, 2024

Conference Keynote Speaker: Lieutenant Governor Tammy Miller

 TT&S is excited to announce our keynote speaker: Lieutenant Governor Tammy Miller!

Tammy J. Miller was sworn in as the 39th lieutenant governor of North Dakota on Jan. 3, 2023.

A native of Brocket, N.D., Miller graduated from high school in Lakota. She earned a bachelor’s degree in accounting and a master of business administration degree from Minnesota State University Moorhead.

Miller most recently served as chief operating officer in the Governor’s Office from April 2020 through December 2022, working with cabinet agencies to enhance citizen focus, drive innovation and improve the delivery of government services. She previously served as CEO of Fargo-based Border States, the sixth-largest electrical distributor in North America.

In 2019, Miller was selected as one of Prairie Business magazine’s inaugural Leaders & Legacies, a recognition event that honored 10 of the region's most successful and noteworthy executives.

In 2013, Miller received the Trailblazer Award from the National Association of Electrical Distributors (NAED), recognizing outstanding and dedicated service to NAED, its Women in Industry group, and the electrical distribution industry.

In 2007 and 2008, Miller became the first woman to lead NAED as board chair in its 100-year history. In 2009, she received the YWCA Women of the Year in Business Award in Fargo.

Miller and her husband, Craig Palmer, support various nonprofit organizations. Miller has chaired numerous fundraising events and capital campaigns for TNT Kid’s Fitness & Gymnastics, Plains Art Museum, United Way of Cass-Clay and the YWCA Cass Clay.

As lieutenant governor, Miller serves as president of the state Senate and chairs the Capitol Grounds Planning Commission, North Dakota Trade Office, Task Force for Military Issues in North Dakota, Northern Plains Unmanned Systems Authority, State Investment Board, State Board of Equalization and Early Childhood Council.

Full biography at https://www.governor.nd.gov/lt-governor-tammy-miller.

 

Be sure to visit the TT&S website to register for the conference today. There's still time!

Register online at https://www.ttsafety.com/annual-conference/attendee-registration/

 


Wednesday, January 24, 2024

Beware of Counterfeit PPE


So. Let's say you're making improvements to your safety program. You've accepted that you need to start stockpiling a new type of PPE for employees. Maybe it's respirators because you can't confirm a work site or client property doesn't contain asbestos. Or cut gloves with more dexterity to make it possible to manipulate hardware with them on. Maybe your harnesses are looking a little worse for wear and it's time to replace them.

You've allocated funds to budget for the purchase, and you're ready to go. Google search says there's a great deal on Amazon or Walmart. Click purchase. You're done! Another item checked off the to do list.

Except, as with many things in the compliance world, it's not that simple.

Many sources, especially those that fulfill orders from third party sellers, have a problem with counterfeit products. Safety critical equipment especially is a tempting one for counterfeiters. A large portion of overhead on PPE and other safety critical equipment is taken up by testing the equipment to make sure it's in compliance with required standards.

Depending on what it is we're talking about, PPE and safety critical equipment can be subjected to thousands of pounds of load testing (think ladders and fall protection equipment), thousands of degrees of heat in a simulated arc blast (FR and arc-rated equipment) and slicing blades (cut-resistant workwear).

[Check out this video on how electrical gloves are tested -- yes, they dip them in water and then run electrical current through them.]

So it becomes an easy decision for counterfeiters to cut costs by eliminating all testing protocol. Counterfeiters may also use inferior materials that wouldn't be obvious to the consumer, such as impure alloys for harness hardware or inferior fibers in FR or cut-resistant workwear.

End consumers became more aware of this issue during the pandemic with some 3M respirators found to be counterfeits. Popular technical PPE manufacturer Petzl also has come out with resources to help end consumers determine whether the Petzl equipment they have is genuine.

Here's some tips to protect yourself.

1. Don't buy PPE used. Maybe your brother's company is upgrading harnesses, and they're offering you what they had. Tempting! Don't do it. It's hard to know where or when the product was purchased, and you can't verify what conditions it was used or stored in.

2. Order directly from the product manufacturer or their authorized distributors. Any company that fulfills third party orders may use a process called 'commingled inventory' -- meaning that genuine and counterfeit products may be stored together and employees may pull from this common stock to fulfill orders.

3. Always register your PPE if that option is available. Many companies send their products with a blank form for you to add your contact information and send back to them. While this may feel like data mining, these companies are actually obligated to contact you with any issues with the product down the line. This may also include anything that comes out about counterfeit products.

Remember, the lower price may be tempting, but counterfeiters don't use any resources to subject their products to testing and will use any material as long as it looks like the genuine product once in consumers' hands. Make sure you're getting your PPE through a verified channel. You don't want to trust your health and life to subpar products.

 

Wednesday, January 17, 2024

DOT Paperwork: MCS-150 and Third Party Filing Services

If your company has a DOT program, you probably already know how much paperwork that entails. Much of the specifics about DOT filing and driver files can be confusing, especially if you're wearing other hats within your company.

There's lots we could go over within this space, but this post is going to outline a simple tip: There's no need for a third party to file your biennial renewal with DOT. You can do it for free directly on the FMCSA website.

Every other year, FMCSA requires that companies who must maintain a DOT number file what is called the MCS-150 form. The form itself asks basic information about your company, drivers within the company, and whether you transport hazardous materials. Overall the part that must be filled out is only three pages long.

However, there are companies out there that offer to do your filing for you for a fee. These companies will make it seem like it's a scary undertaking, while also making it seem like it's a requirement to have them do the filing. It's not! They've just found a way to make the regulations seem intimidating. 

If a company is sending you scary notices about filing your DOT renewal, check first of all if it's coming from a .gov email. If not, it's likely that it's a third party asking for a hefty fee from you so that they can take the filing off your hands. Don't do it! Some of the time these third parties will even send you notices about renewal after you've already recently renewed. They don't have up-to-date information, and they're just trying to make a quick buck by making the filing process seem intimidating.

Filing the MCS-150 every other year directly with the FMCSA is free and simple. You can find your renewal deadline by looking at your assigned DOT number. The second-to-last digit on your DOT number tells you which years you must file. If it's odd, then you must file on odd years (so 2023, 2025, etc). If it's even, then you should file on even years (it's up for this year if that's the case, then again in 2026, etc). The last digit of your DOT number tells you which month you must file by. For instance, if the last digit of your DOT number is '3', then you must file by the end of March.

Here's a diagram:


 

This site gives you a total rundown of how to file:
https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/registration/form-mcs-150-and-instructions-motor-carrier-identification-report

 As always, as member companies you can call us up for help with MCS-150 filing or whatever other safety or compliance issue you may be dealing with.

Wednesday, January 10, 2024

You should know: Your company is responsible for contractors


In November, TT&S held a training on contractors and OSHA's multiple-employer citation policy. It can be some pretty dry stuff, but the gist is that when your company hires a contractor, there's a lot of ways you're also responsible for that contractor's safety. There are a few variables involved in your particular risk profile when it comes to contractors, but here's a few main takeaways regardless of your situation:

  • Employers must create and maintain a workplace free from hazards for both their own employees and any contractors' employees that come on site.
  • If a contractor creates a hazard for your employees, you can be cited, depending on your knowledge of the hazard and whether you took reasonable steps to discover hazards.
  • When working with contractors, just recognizing and informing them of a hazard or safety violation is not enough. To protect your company, you should have a graduated system of enforcement (first violation consequence, second violation consequence, etc), and you need to follow through while documenting each step.

 A lot of this headache can be alleviated by a couple things:

  1. Having a strong safety program implemented in your company
  2. Implementing a contractor vetting system to ensure your contractors also take safety seriously.

If you'd like to learn more specifics and get some examples of a contractor vetting program, let us know. We have a recorded training on this and would be glad to help you get started.

Friday, January 5, 2024

The Numbers are in: TT&S in 2023

 2023 was a busy year for TT&S.

We started the year by beginning this blog and setting up an account with Moodle, the LMS (learning management system) for our online courses. We didn't have any online courses available yet.

Now this will be the 45th blog post, and we have 11 online courses available. Just in December, we've also made those courses available for purchase for outside companies.

We also began a whole host of other new initiatives over the past year. Check out this list:

  • Games at the conference / job fair for high schoolers
  • Safety manual annual updates: added policies for Incident Investigations, Stop Work Authority, Contractor Management, and Heat Illness Prevention 
  • SHRM recertification credits available
  • Created program for new hire trainings for non-member companies
  • Subscription program for non-member companies to access our training materials
  • Held the first ND Telecom Development Management Training 
  • Developed five new training courses

On top of all this, we held down the fort with all the other activities that TT&S has taken on over the years. Here's some numbers from those activities:

  • Trainings held in 2023 (including technical trainings and self-study): 146
  •  Employees trained this year: Around 729
  •  Blog posts published: 43
  •  Views of blog posts: 2,875
  •  Online courses published: 11
  •  Safety leadership trainings held: 6
  •  Employee training hours from 2023: 8,234
  •  Online courses taken: Approximately 200

It's been a big year, and we can only imagine 2024 will have the same leaps and bounds. Thanks to everyone who helped us accomplish these goals, and we can only keep striving through the next year to reach new heights.

Wednesday, January 3, 2024

Online Safety Training Available for Purchase

 


TT&S has recently gone live with online courses available for purchase right on our website. This means that non-members have access to the same great content we provide to our members. The courses currently available are common ones necessary for new hires in the broadband world but also apply to other industries:

- Confined Spaces

- North Dakota Dangerous Animals / Insects / Plants

- Defensive Driving

- Electrical Safety & Overhead Powerlines

- Fire Extinguishers & Fire Safety

- Hazard Communication

- Ladder Safety

- Personal Protective Equipment

- Respiratory Protection, Asbestos Emphasis

- Sun & Heat Risks

- Trenching & Shoring Safety

- Intro to Work Zone Safety

If you're not a current member and are unsure what your training requirements are as an employer, feel free to contact us to find out more. These trainings are a great, OSHA-compliant general overview of each topic, and we're glad to offer them conveniently and at a competitive price.

Thursday, December 21, 2023

Happy Holidays from the TT&S Team

For all our blog readership, we hope you have a wonderful holiday season, and cheers to another year of being proactive about employee safety!

The Four Dangerous States of Mind

Did you know there are four particular states of mind that have been found to lead to incidents? When you're rushing, frustrated, fatigu...