Protecting the health and safety of employees is important, and the Idaho Drug Free Workplace Alliance is one way employers can prevent abuse problems. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration, also known as OSHA, feels that employers should take steps to safeguard their businesses. For instance, employers can help educate workers about the dangers of drug and alcohol abuse. Employers also should work with employees who have abuse problems and encourage them to find help.
Because a drug-free workplace is important to both employers and employees, OSHA is joined in the alliance by unions and construction organizations. The nation is committed to dealing with the problem of abuse. One way some businesses that belong to the alliance combat the problem is through drug testing. This drug testing can include random testing and pre-employment testing.
The Department of Labor has stated that the price businesses pay for employees who have drug and alcohol abuse problems is high. Employees with abuse problems may miss work more often, resulting in higher rates of absenteeism. These employees also may have more accidents at work and produce more errors. In addition, employees may have lower morale and suffer more illnesses. OSHA maintains that most workplace auto accidents that result in death are related to alcohol or drug abuse.
To create a drug-free workplace program that is comprehensive, employers need to follow five steps. They need to create a policy on this issue. Then, they need to train all supervisors on the problem of drug and alcohol abuse. Next, they should educate employees on the dangers posed by abuse. Employers should follow this education by offering employees assistance to deal with abuse problems. Finally, employers should create an approach to drug testing. Throughout all steps of this plan, the employer should keep the privacy rights of employees in mind.
OSHA does not require businesses to establish drug-free workplaces, but creating one is a good way for employers to protect both employees and their businesses.
A state safety magazine recently published an article highlighting the dangers of working with Forklifts and not sticking to the federal and Idaho forklift standards.
There are about 1.5 millions forklift operators in the US, according to the Idaho OSHA.
Below are some areas of concern for employers and employees regarding the use of forklifts as outlined in the Idaho worker safety advisory on forklifts.
When loading a forklift, it is worth bearing in mind the following:
An improper center of gravity can cause a forklift to become unstable. This can happen even when the weight of the load is well within the manufacturer’s guidelines.
To counteract this, the load should be balanced between the two forks when it is loaded.
The center of gravity of the load should nut be too far forward on the forks.
The usual measurement for most forklifts is that the center of gravity should not be more than 24” higher than the forks.
It should also be no more than 24” from the base of the forks.
Do not forget that forklifts with a larger capacity may have a 36” or 48” load center distance. Check the forklift’s data plate to find out if this is the case.
If the load is under the maximum capacity, but is place too far forward, this can also created the equipment to become unstable.
If a load is not carried low enough during travel the forklift may become unstable.
Forklifts are also known as Powered Industrial Tools, or PITs, and fork trucks. They are used in many industries and are a common cause of injury or even death to workers who do not know the correct operating procedures.
As well as the above points it is advisable to note that when a forklift is modified by using attachments as is often the case, the stability of the equipment can be affected. As such every modification should be approved by the manufacturer and the equipments tags or decals must be changed to alert operators of the new operating conditions.
With the number of accidents involving All-Terrain Vehicles, or ATVs on the increase, a recent Idaho worker safety alert has come at the right time. The use of ATVs in the workplace has become more widespread over the years, and workers and employers need to be aware of the hazards involved in operating these vehicles.
Operating guidelines and employee training programs that employers can put in place to keep workers safe, are discussed in a recent bulletin regarding accidents involving ATVs.
The Idaho OSHA alert provides guidelines for ATV type vehicles. That is, motorized vehicles, intended for off road use, that have been designed to travel on low-pressure tires.
Safety guidelines include recommending that employers wear safety helmets while they are operating the vehicle, and that the manufacture’s operating instructions are followed. Employers should also make sure that their employees are trained to operate ATVS.
There is sometimes a false sense of security surrounding ATVs. They are seen as a recreational vehicle, and so it may be assumed that if you can drive you can operate an ATV, even more so when they sometimes see children using the vehicles for recreational activities. But ATVs handle very differently from most cars and motorbikes, and can, in some circumstances become unstable.
Many industries now use ATVs to help with the workload. But employers and employees need to be aware that these vehicles are not designed to carry heavy loads, or more than one person. Also, ATVs are not designed to be operated with extra machinery attached to the front or back, and are in danger of rolling over when they are modified in this way.
The all time high number of total injuries was 136,100 with over 800,000 ATV injuries being reported over the last time years. These are for recreational use, but with industries such as agriculture, construction and law enforcement increasingly using these vehicles, employers must make sure that their workers do not add to the industry related statistics.
When it comes to Idaho worker safety, hopefully a new program will help. This program, called “Stay Out — Stay Alive,” addresses the threat mines can pose to the public and workers from industries other than mining. Public service announcements, along with visits to schools, scouting groups, and other organizations, will be used to help educate the public on the hazards of mines.
Many people think of mine accidents as highly publicized collapses, but since 1999, over 200 people have died in mine-related accidents. Many people are unaware of the dangers posed by abandoned and active mines. This safety campaign can warn people of the hazards so they will not trespass on mine property.
According to Richard E. Stickler, Assistant Secretary of Labor for Mine Safety and Health, “There are about 500,000 abandoned mines and another 14,000 active operations throughout the United States.” He explains, “Many of them contain hidden hazards and, for those not trained to work in mines, the outcome can be deadly. That’s why we urge workers, hikers, bikers, rock hounds and swimmers to ‘Stay Out — Stay Alive.’”
Most mine accidents do not involve mine workers. Instead, these accidents involve outdoor enthusiasts, children, and workers in industries other than mining. In some cases, children have trespassed onto mine property and been hurt. Workers from industries unrelated to mining may have accidents on mine property or may even fall into mine shafts.
Quarries filled with water pose special threats. The water in these quarries is deep and very cold. In addition, old machinery and other hazardous objects may be hidden by the water so that swimmers are unaware of the danger. Moreover, the quarries may have rock ledges that are unstable and slopes that are slippery and dangerous.
All-terrain vehicle drivers may not realize the dangers lurking in old surface mines. Stockpiles of loose materials or refuse can collapse and cause all-terrain vehicles to roll over. The new safety campaign will help educate the public about dangers found on mine property.
According to a recent Idaho OSHA alert, an influenza pandemic is very much different from the normal “flu”. The seasonal flu is definitely annoying but rarely life threatening for healthy adults. Of course, even the seasonal flu can be fatal for small children, the aged or people with an immune deficiency.
The Idaho OSHA alert strongly recommends that all companies include a plan for a worldwide influenza epidemic, or pandemic, as part of the emergency plans at the workplace.
Why has this become so necessary? That’s because an influenza pandemic like the one that shook the world during 1918 to 1920 could occur again. That pandemic started as a viral infection at a military base in Kansas. Since this was a new strain of virus, no one had immunity to it. In no time, it spread all over the globe.
The disease came to be known as the “Spanish Flu” because the Spanish press covered this news extensively. The First World War caused censorship resulting in less coverage in many other countries.
In a horrifying wave of illness that spread across countries, more than 50 million people died in just 18 months. Even more tragic was the fact that many of them were healthy young adults who succumbed to the disease within days of contracting it.
Therefore, it is no surprise when OSHA states that a pandemic can disrupt the global economy more than any single terrorist attack can.
So what are the steps one can take to prevent you from getting such a disease? Many common sense steps include personal and public hygiene, such as taking days off of work or school if you are ill. It’s important to cover your mouth with a disposable tissue when you cough or sneeze. Maintain a safe distance of at least 6 feet from infected people. Wash your hands frequently using soap or hand sanitizer.
A number of measures are aimed at reducing contact between coworkers to limit infection. These include having conference calls instead of group meetings. Allow some employees to work from home, and utilize drive-thru windows to avoid exposing workers to members of the public.