Employers have a responsibility to establish safety protocols for employees who work in cold temperatures.
OSHA (Occupation Safety and Health Administration) recommends some straightforward steps to help employees avoid cold weather hazards, such as Trench foot and frostbite.
All Wisconsin employees should understand cold weather safety protocols, and be trained to recognize symptoms of cold exposure. Companies can erect temporary shelters for outdoor workers to cut the effects of the wind, and ensure that all metal handles on equipment is covered with insulating material.
Companies should also encourage employees to drink plenty of fluids and eat warm, high calorie meals. Tea and other caffeinated drinks should be avoided, because they impede the body’s ability to warm itself. Other factors can affect body warmth, too, such as smoking cigarettes and drinking alcohol. A wise employee is aware of these factors and pays attention to how his or her body reacts to cold weather.
Proper cold weather gear is vital. Companies can provide workers with special cold weather gear, but employees should understand how to dress for the job. What is worn and how it’s worn are both important. OSHA recommends workers wear at least three layers of clothing, keep their head covered and wear insulated footwear.
Of the three layers, cotton should be worn closest to the body to provide ventilation. Wool or down should be the middle layer to absorb sweat and to insulate. Unlike cotton, wool continues to insulate even when wet.
The outer layer should be comprised of nylon or Gortex to cut the wind. Employees should also keep a change of dry clothes in the event their work clothes get soaked.
Working outside in cold temperatures is best done at the warmest part of the day. Breaks should be frequent and in a warm area away from the cold. Employees should also work as pairs and watch each other for signs of exposure, including irrational behavior, confusion and disorientation.
Wisconsin Cold Stress
During the winter months, employees are particularly susceptible to the hazards of cold stress, frostbite and hypothermia in the workplace. Now that country is in the depths of winter, OSHA, the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration, wants to remind employers, including those in Wisconsin, to be aware of these potential hazards.
According to OSHA, these hazards can occur even at temperatures as high as 50 degrees. Wind, rain and cold can all combine to cool the body to the point where it can not warm itself. The result is cold stress. Cold stress is a less severe form of hypothermia, but can in some cases be fatal.
Outdoor workers are more at risk for cold stress, but all employees can be in danger during the winter. All employees should take certain safety measures to help reduce and prevent the hazards of cold stress.
First of all, every worker should dress appropriately for the existing weather conditions. Wearing layers of clothes is a good way to adapt to changes in temperature. Workers should also avoid getting wet, especially when it’s windy.
Secondly, employees should take frequent breaks and go inside to a warm area or into a heated vehicle. If going indoors isn’t possible, then the worker should get out of the wind and drink warm beverages like broth. Meals, too, should be warm and preferably rich in carbohydrates.
Thirdly, people who work outside should avoid caffeine and alcohol. Both reduce the body’s ability to get warm.
Cold weather draws heat away from the body. The colder the temperature, the harder the body works to get warm. The body’s top priorities for heat are the internal organs. To warm the organs, heat is drawn away from the extremities, leaving hands, feet, legs, arms, ears and the nose at greater risk for frostbite.
Older workers and persons on medications can be more susceptible to the hazards of cold weather. Bodies, as they age, tend to become less efficient at staying warm. Medicines such as antidepressants and tranquilizers, along with sedatives, can negatively affect body temperature, too.
OSHA, the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration, is in charge of setting and regulating standards regarding safety in the workplace.
One of OSHA’s mandatory regulations is the posting of OSHA 300 form. This form must be displayed from February 1 to April 30 of each year. That means that Wisconsin employers should be displaying their 2008 Wisconsin OSHA 300 forms right now.
The 300 form provides companies and its employees with a recap of the previous year’s work-related accidents and illnesses, and the specific cause for each of these events.
The 2008 Wisconsin OSHA 300 form will contain all such events from 2007 for a particular company. This form gives workers a picture of their company’s status regarding safety in the workplace, and also gives employers a picture of problem areas. The company can then devise a plan for addressing those problems during the coming year.
Displaying the OSHA 300 form is mandatory for all employers. The poster doesn’t need to be accessible to the public, but must be easily reached by all workers. The most popular spots for these posters are the employee break room and the area near the time clocks. Any company which does not post the OSHA 300, or doesn’t keep the form up for the entire allotted time is breaking regulations.
OSHA does not tolerate non-compliance. Any business caught not displaying the proper posters will be subject to fines.
OSHA works hard to help employers prevent accidents and illnesses in the workplace. According to sources at the federal agency, “Employers are responsible for providing a safe and healthful workplace for their employees. OSHA’s role is to assure the safety and health of America’s workers by setting and enforcing standards; providing training, outreach, and education; establishing partnerships; and encouraging continual improvement in workplace safety and health.”
OSHA also helps employers by providing free on-site evaluations. These evaluations help the companies spot and repair potential hazards within the workplace.
To help prevent accidents in the workplace, Wisconsin employers need to ensure that all workers take proper safety precautions and follow all safety procedures. Monitoring workplace accidents and illnesses is the charge of OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration), a federal agency.
States can establish their own agency for workplace health and safety, but they must be approved by the federal government. The state level agency must also be as least as effective as the federal OSHA. The process to set up a state agency begins with a developmental plan and ends with certification. To obtain certification, the state must provide assurance to the federal government that it will be able to run its agency efficiently within three years.
Twenty-two states have elected to set up their own agency. Regulations mandate that the state agency be as effective as the federal program.
Most state agencies, like Washington Occupational Safety and Health Administration (WISHA), mirror the federal OSHA program. For instance, WISHA conducts its own safety inspections. It also provides programs to train employers in occupational safety and health. Also like OSHA, Washington’s agency does on-site evaluations. These evaluations help employers find and fix hazards in the workplace, and are provided free of charge.
A few state agencies enact regulations that take the federal guidelines one step further. For example, California posts workplace hazards that the federal regulations require, but they also post additional workplace hazards.
Whether a company is covered by a state agency or the federal OSHA, that company must post an OSHA 300 form. The form must be displayed from February 1 to April 30 every year. The OSHA 300 is a tracking system for workplace accidents and illnesses, giving employees a picture of their company’s safety and heath record.
One of OSHA’s major goals is preventing workplace accidents. The agency urges all employers to educate their employees on the importance of health and safety on the job.
A Wisconsin worker safety alert has been issued to warn employers and employees about two chainsaw brands that have been recalled. The chainsaws that have been recalled are manufactured by Troy-Bilt and Craftsman. Employers should make certain that workers stop using these chainsaws immediately to prevent possible injuries.
The recalled chainsaws are popular in industries such as landscaping, lumbering, and construction. These chainsaws have a handle in the front that is made of plastic. When these chainsaws are used heavily, the handle may break, causing the saw to become difficult to control. Injuries have been reported to OSHA concerning these chainsaws. The injuries include cuts, bruises, sprains, and burns.
The two chain saw types impacted by the recall are made by Troy-Bilt and Craftsman. All of the chainsaws have two-cycle engines that run on gasoline. The engines on the four recalled Troy-Bilt chainsaws range from 46cc to 55cc. These chainsaws also have either 18-inch or 20-inch cutting blades. The Craftsman chainsaw that has been recalled is the “Incredi-Pull” model. This chainsaw has a 55cc engine and a cutting blade measuring 18 inches.
A safety replacement kit is available for these chainsaws. These free kits are available by contacting either the chainsaw manufacturer or OSHA. The kit includes a replacement handle and instructions on how to install this new handle.
This recall was made voluntarily by Troy-Bilt and Craftsman. They cooperated with OSHA and the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). The job of CPSC is to protect consumers from products that may cause injuries or death. Incidents involving consumer products that result in property damage, injuries, and death cost the US over $700 billion per year. Overseeing 15,000 types of products, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission tries to prevent families and children from being injured. CPSC tries to protect consumers from fire, electrical, mechanical, or chemical hazards.
If you live or work in the State of Wisconsin, you might be interested in knowing more about the law called the Wisconsin Mileage Reimbursement Law. Interestingly enough, you might be entitled to receive compensation for miles you spend in your car for not only working, but also for driving to volunteer activities and for driving children with special needs to and from therapy.
During my research, I also found that in the State of Wisconsin, those who are adopting a special needs child might also be covered under the Wisconsin Mileage Reimbursement Law. The state actually reimburses some of these costs to the adoptive parent. A reimbursement is often given for nonrecurring adoption expenses when they are adopting a child with special needs, or one who is at risk of needing special care services.
In addition, if you are planning on using this reimbursement option if you are adopting a special needs child, I would suggest that you find out what the law specifically covers and what it does not. Your adoption must be finalized before the state will approve any reimbursements such as mileage compensation. Some of the most commonly approved mileage reimbursement trips include transportation expenses such as those incurred while driving in the car (including parking meters and garages, bus fare and toll fees), as well as miles incurred while traveling to home study interviews and pre-placement visits with a child.
It is always a good idea to remember that when you expect to get reimbursement for miles spent or fees, you will have to keep all of your receipts and take careful note of the miles you drove. In addition, you will likely have to present proof of current drivers licenses, proof of insurance, and present a clean driving record in order to be eligible.