The Spread of Disease in Your Workplace

October 23, 2014 by

ebola

The Ebola virus is capable of posing severe, life-threatening risk, but it is not spread through casual contact; therefore, the likelihood of an outbreak in the U.S. is very low at this point in time. A person must first have been in close physical contact with an infected patient, their blood or bodily fluids and secondly have active symptoms themselves in order to spread Ebola onto others. Even though Ebola might not pose an immediate threat in your workplace at the moment there are sure fire ways to cut down on the potential for the spread of germs and harmful bacterias throughout your workplace.

Preventative actions:

  • Get vaccinated for flu season.
  • Wash your hands frequently with soap and water for 20 seconds; use an alcohol-based hand rub
  • Avoid touching your nose, mouth, and eyes.
  • Cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue, or cough and sneeze into your upper sleeve.
  • Keep frequently touched common surfaces clean
  • Avoid sharing phones, desks, office supplies, computers, or other work tools and equipment. If you must use a coworker’s equipment, consider cleaning it first with a disinfectant.
  • Avoid shaking hands or coming in close contact with coworkers and others who may be ill.
  • Stay in shape. Eat a healthy diet. Get plenty of rest, exercise, and relaxation.
  • Participate in any training offered by your employer.
  • Stay at home if you begin to develop symptoms.

Last year it was SARS and Swine Flu, this year Ebola and Enterovirus are on our radar; however germs and bacteria are always around and can just as easily cause illness and spread. This year’s current events should act as a reminder of how important it is to foster a clean and healthy workplace at all times throughout your facility not just when it is making headlines.

For more information on Ebola, and other infectious disease protocol visit:

https://www.osha.gov/SLTC/ebola/index.html

https://www.osha.gov/SLTC/healthcarefacilities/infectious_diseases.html

A One-on-One Interview with NFPA’s New President Jim Pauley Pt. 1

October 21, 2014 by

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When Jim Pauley became president of the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) in July 2014, it seemed a natural evolution for a man whose career has been steeped in codes and standards-related activities. With more than 65,000 members, the NFPA is the world’s leading authority on fire safety, having developed hundreds of fire prevention protocols adopted by facilities across the globe.

As he settles into what could arguably be described as his most challenging role to date, Pauley took time to answer some questions regarding fire safety in the workplace.

Continue reading for this weeks first installment in this 2 part series.

Q: You became president of NFPA in July 2014. What inspired you to take on this challenging role?

A: The mission and the passion of the people at NFPA is really what brought me here. I had been involved with NFPA for more than 20 years as a member, committee member, committee chair and customer. I had great respect for the organization.

As the search for a new president got underway, I realized that being able to lead such a great organization was really a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

Q: The NFPA is a very large, multi-faceted organization. Where do you plan to focus your efforts as you settle in to your new position?

A: We are a large, multi-faceted organization, but our mission is very straightforward — “Reduce the worldwide burden of fire and other hazards on the quality of life.”

That mission provides the focus. I describe it in two simple ways: First, everybody comes home — our first responders, our electrical workers and the general public. Second, everybody has a home to go back to.

Are we making people safer at home? Have we educated them about the devastating impact of fire at home and how to prevent it?

Q: In broad terms, how does the NFPA help companies address fire safety?

A: I believe we do that in two ways.

First, through our codes and standards — we have many of the best practices and technical details about how to protect a commercial or industrial location from fire.

Second, we have many programs and materials that companies can use to educate their own employees about the hazards of fire both at work and at home.

Check back next week for the second half of this interview when Jim Pauley answers questions on necessary preventative action to reduce workplace fires, common pitfalls, and help breaking down NFPA Regulations.

*Excerpts taken from Robi Garthwait’s interview with Jim Pauley

 

A Quick Guide on the Essentials of Flammables and Combustibles

October 17, 2014 by

hazmatcontainers

Flammable and combustible liquids are similar, but not quite the same. They differ in how hot they must become before they catch fire and explode. This is called the flash point. In most cases, combustible liquids don’t reach their flash point until they reach a very high temperature. To get a bit more technical, the flash point means the lowest temperature at which enough vapors collect at the liquid’s surface to catch fire in the presence of a source of ignition.

How to tell if a chemical is dangerous

To determine whether you are dealing with a flammable or combustible, take a look at the container. If the chemical is dangerous, there will be a warning label indicating that the contents are flammable or combustible. This means that you must use extreme caution in handling the chemical because the threat of fire or explosion is high. If there is any question as to whether a particular liquid is a flammable or combustible, treat it as though it is until you know for sure. Assuming that a liquid is just water or some other nonthreatening substance can result in a tragic accident.

Always Follow Storage Instruction

Have storage areas that are clearly marked as storage throughout your facility. However, do not assume there is no danger just because the liquids are tucked away in one of these locations. The designated areas will decrease the danger of an explosion, but can’t completely eliminate the possibility. Make sure you know where these storage areas are located, and do not go into them unless you have received special training. Only authorized employees should enter and interact with flammable or combustible liquids. Keep all ignition sources away from these areas including but not limited to lit cigarettes, sparks from tools and equipment, welding or cutting operations, and portable heating units, and even static electricity.

Use approved containers

Whenever you are getting one of these liquids for immediate use, use an approved container and labeling system that is in compliance with GHS regulations. Never use plastic jugs, jars, or buckets. Open containers can spill. Glass containers can break. Unless the container you plan to use has been approved for use with flammables and combustibles, it is not allowed. When you are not using the container to obtain a liquid, keep it closed to prevent fumes and vapors from escaping.

Good housekeeping is a vital step in this process, keep areas where flammables and combustibles are present clean at all times. If the unthinkable happens and a spill or fire occurs, the less clutter that can burn and accelerate the damage the better.

 

5 Reasons Employees Should Not Fight Fires

October 15, 2014 by

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In the event that a fire erupts in your facility, the natural tendency may be to grab an extinguisher and try to put the fire out before it gets out of control. In fact, attempting to put out fires may even be part of your company’s emergency action plan. If so, you may want to rethink this strategy. Here are a few reasons why having employees fight fires may not be a good idea.

  •  Training employees to use and maintain fire extinguishers requires resources that you may not have.
  •  Fires that involve flammable solvents, have spread more than 60 square feet, are partially hidden behind a wall or ceiling, or cannot be reached from a standing position show not be fought with an extinguisher.
  •  Because of smoke and other products of combustion, some fires cannot be fought without respiratory protection.
  •  Some fires radiate heat that is easily felt on exposed skin, making it difficult to approach within 10 or 15 feet of the fire (or the effective range of the extinguisher). In some cases, one must crawl on the floor due to heat and smoke. Sometimes, smoke quickly fills the room, decreasing visibility. Employee firefighters are not equipped to handle these situations.
  •  Finally, some fires spread quickly, blocking the evacuation path. If employees are fighting a fire, they must have a clear evacuation path behind them.

Fire Safety Tips for the 5 Classes of Fire

October 9, 2014 by

shutterstock_115760446 (1)

To understand how fire extinguishers work, you need to understand a little about fire. Fire is a very rapid chemical reaction between oxygen and a combustible material, which results in the release of heat, light, flames, and smoke.

For fire to exist, the following four elements must be present at the same time:

  •  Enough oxygen to sustain combustion
  •  Enough heat to raise the material to its ignition temperature
  •  Some sort of fuel or combustible material
  •  The chemical reaction that is fire

There are five basic types of fires that bring with them their own type of extinguisher:

Class A

OrdinaryCombustibles

  • Fires involving ordinary combustible materials
  • Include wood, paper, and cloth
  • Produce glowing embers or char.
  • Fire extinguishers will have a numerical rating to indicate the amount of water they hold
  • Have a geometric symbol of a green triangle.

 

Class B

FlammableLiquids

  • Fires involving flammable gases, liquids and greases
  • Include gasoline and most hydrocarbon liquids that must be vaporized for combustion to occur.
  • The numerical rating on these fire extinguishers indicate the number of square feet of fire they can extinguish
  • Geometric symbol is a red square.

Class C

ElectricalEquipment

  • Fires involving live electrical equipment or materials that are near electrically powered equipment.
  • Never use a water extinguisher on a class C fire.
  • These extinguishers do not have a numerical rating
  • Geometric symbol is a blue circle indicating the extinguishing agent is non-conductive.

Class D

CombustibleMetals

  • Fires involving combustible metals
  • Include magnesium zirconium potassium and sodium.
  • These types of extinguishers also have no numerical rating
  • Are designed for class D fires only
  • Geometric symbol is a Yellow Decagon.

Class K

blackhex

  • Fires involving cooking oils, grease or animal fat
  • Geometric symbol is a black hexagon.

If you are not familiar with fire extinguishers and have not been trained in their use, DO NOT attempt to use them! Not all fire extinguishers are created equal and if they are improperly used could make fires worse.

For more information on proper fire prevention tactics click here.


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