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Tuesday, November 22, 2011

CareerSafe Youth Safety Video Contest Promo

CareerSafe (r) the National Youth Safety Initiative is sponsoring the 2011-2012 National Youth Safety Video Contest. The video contest will provide students with a unique opportunity to show what they think and know about workplace safety. Register and submit your workplace safety video and you could win one of three scholarships plus a cash prize for your school.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Don't Get Nailed - NIOSH Promotes Nail Gun Safety

      It's been awhile since my last post.  Haven't forgotten about career and technical school safety.  Just have been pulled in some other directions lately.  But back to safety for another important topic. From the Center for Disease Control - National Institute of Occupational Safety & Health comes Nail Gun Safety - A Guide for Construction Contractors.  Most career and technical schools feature construction, carpentry and/or building trades programs.  Despite the beating that the construction industry has taken in the past few years as a result of the Recession, construction related programs remain popular among students.

      The construction industry offers a great number and variety of power tools available on most work sites.  As we know, powered tools offer some unique risks to the user and require some specialized training before turning students loose.  Whether powered by gas, electric, or hybrid power sources, regardless of the type, roofing, framing or flooring, nail guns are dangerous tools that can cause serious injury and have caused several construction worker deaths because of misuse and accidents.  Training students thoroughly in the proper and safe use of nail guns is an important part of our construction trades curricula.

Picture Credits:

     Injuries from nail guns can be serious and serveral incidents of fatal injuries have been recorded.  Most injuries occur to hands and fingers, but nails discharged into legs, feet and even the head and torso are not uncommon.  A nail entering the skull can penetrate into the brain stem and cause death.  A nail, propelled by the high pressure of the nail gun can easily enter the soft tissue of the torso and strike vital internal organs.  Studies cited by the document's authors indicated that an average of 37,000 visits a year to the emergency room can be attributed to nail gun injuries, and several deaths have been reported.

     The causes of injuries vary, but often involve the unintentional firing of a nail because of the user carrying or moving the gun away from the surface of the work with a finger on the trigger.  Users may contact their own bodies with the business end of the gun, as well as the bodies of coworkers when passing in close quarters such as hallways and doorways.  Another hazard of use is the recoil or kick back of the heavy gun when it is fired.  A user may be struck in the head or face with the gun when using it in an awkward position or in tight quarters.  Double firing of the gun is common for inexperienced users.  Improperly holding the work piece in place can result in hands and fingers being nailed, especially if distracted.  Ricocheted nails occur when nails are discharged against a hard surface and complete penetration of a nail through the wood causes an airborn projectile to threaten anyone in the area.  Nails passing through plywood or plaster board and missing a stud also cause a flying projectile to exit the opposite side.  Improper nail placement can be misdirected to the free hand holding the work. Knots in wood and steel framing are common causes of ricochets.  One totally preventable cause of injuries is the intentional bypassing of safety features on the gun, or overriding trigger mechanisms or contact tip safeties.  When transporting the gun from one area to another, and especially up or down ladders the air hose or power cords should be disconnected to avoid accidental trigger activation.

     The NIOSH guide offers some important pointers for nail gun use.  It starts out with a review of the types of injuries inflicted by nail guns and six simple steps to encouraging safe nail gun use.  From a cover letter provided with the guidance document, NIOSH provides the following description:
The guidance was developed in response to a unanimous recommendation by employer, labor and public members of OSHA’s Advisory Committee for Construction Safety and Health (ACCSH), asking OSHA to develop awareness and materials about nail gun risks. OSHA and NIOSH worked together to make sure the guidance reflects the most current information available. The publication highlights what is known about nail gun injuries, describes the common causes of nail gun injuries and provides six practical steps that contractors can take to prevent these injuries. The guidance includes actual workplace cases along with a short section on other types of nail gun hazards and sources of additional information.
     Beginning with six practical steps for contractors to take, NIOSH recommends:

  1. Use nail guns with a "full sequential trigger."  This type of trigger requires a set number of actions to release a nail from the gun.  To release a nail, the safety tip must make contact and be pushed into a surface, and then the trigger depressed for each nail to be released.  It is the safest, because it doesn't allow the rapid, automatic release of nails, such as done when a gun is used to "bump nail" or nail in rapid succession by holding down the trigger and bumping the tip of the gun onto the surface, releasing a nail each time the tip is bumped.  Bumping the tip of a "contact trigger" type gun into one's self or a co-worker, is a common injury according to the publication.  Contact trigger nail guns are also particularly dangerous for jobs requiring the worker to hold the piece in place by hand or when necessary to use the gun in difficult positions such as off of a
    case, the student, the more important that the safest type of gun, the full sequential trigger, be used, to avoid accidents common for inexperienced users, such as accidental firing.
  2. Training. The publication offers many suggestions for ongoing training for both new and experienced nail gun users.  It is important that all users be familiar with the types of equipment available, the differences and risks of the different types of triggering mechanisms and the causes of injuries.  Employees and students should be advised of the manufacturer's recommendations for safe use, and where the manufacturer's guides are kept for future reference.  It is also recommended that ongoing taining include general construction site safety, protective equipment and first aid.
  3. Through their combined efforts NIOSH and OSHA in putting this guidance together collected industry best practices and offers a representative list of do's and don'ts that should be included in a written nail gun use rules and procedure.  "Do's" should include things like assuring that manuals are available on site for users; Determining that tools and power sources are in proper working order; Safe usage such as hand placement for work being manually held in place, and keeping work areas clear of other people, especially in the "line of fire."  Special rules and directions should be available for work in unusual positions and for dealing with contigencies such as nail gun misfires and jams.  "Don'ts" include things like not hanging or dragging tools by air supply hoses or electrical cords; Or bypassing tool safety features such as trigger guards and contact tip safety features, as well as taping down or otherwise overriding the trigger.  Special training and plenty of practice is needed for advanced operations such as "bump nailing."
  4. Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is absolutely necessary for any job.  Hard hats, safety glasses or goggles, ear protection, hand protection and fall protection for individuals working at height are necessary and required by regulation on all work sites.  No worker or student should enter a work area without properly fitted and operatiing PPE. Damaged or worn items should be replaced.
  5. Encourage the reporting of injuries and near misses.  According to the publication, studies have shown that many nail gun injuries go unreported.  In a real life situation reported in the publication, a worker discharged a nail into his thigh.  He didn't seek medical help, and removed the nail himself.  Later in the day, after suffering extreme pain in his thigh, he went to the hospital and was diagnosed with a fractured femur and a shard of the nail still embedded in his leg.  Even seemingly minor injuries can reveal serious problems after time.  Report all injuries. By reviewing the types of injuries and near misses that occur on the job (or in the learning shop) we can look for trends and identify problem areas, which in turn allow us to concentrate our training efforts.  Many accidents are preventable, especially when we learn and share with others the causes of injuries on the job.
  6. Finally, make sure that you are ready to provide immediate first aid to workers or students who are injured on the job.  OSHA and school safety regulations require that each work site and educational facility respectively, be equipped with first aid equipment and that workers are trained in basic first aid procedures.  Teachers and supervisors should be trained in basic first aid and CPR and renew their certifications as required.  Emergency numbers, and communications equipment, at very least a cell phone, should be available at each site to address emergencies when they occur.
    As powerful nail guns become more popular and common place on job sites and in our vocational programs, increased incidents of injury and even death are raising concern.  NIOSH and OSHA along with industry professionals and manufacturers have combined efforts to look at the causes of injuries in an effort to raise awareness and develope safe operating procedures.  We have a unique opportunity in secondary education to instill in young minds that safety on the job should be first and formost.  Developing safe practices and procedures in the classroom will increase the likelihood that our students will take these skills to the workplace.  Don't get nailed!  Be sure to teach and demonstrate safe nail gun use.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

National Lightning Safety Week

     The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration - National Weather Service (NOAA-NWS) declared the week of June 19-25, 2011 as Lightning Safety Week, "When Thunder Roars Go Indoors."  In schools, administrators and teachers must be aware of changing weather conditions when plans call for students to be outside, such as recess times, sporting events and outdoor classes.  At many career and technical schools outdoor demonstrations are common place.  Construction classes, horticulture and animal care, and special events like field days and open houses all place students and sometimes visitors in harms way when storms approach.

     The NWS lightning awareness website reports that already in 2011 there have been 6 fatal lightning strikes in the United States.  All of the deaths occurred while the victims were involved in activities in open spaces such as farm fields and one on the golf course.  Activities in the open should be stopped when storms with lightning are approaching.  The NWS offers a page of links to take you to the eye opening statistics about lightning strikes resulting in fatalities.  Preliminary statistics for 2010 weather related deaths can be found here.  Although on average lightning ranks below heat and floods for the greatest number of weather caused deaths, one must consider the considerable risk to large groups of people caught in stormy weather, such as students participating in an outdoor class.  Lightning is one of the formidable risks that we have to consider when planning outdoor activities with our students.

     Even if not killed, the NWS site warns, "Hundreds of people are permanently injured each year. People struck by lightning suffer from a variety of long-term, debilitating symptoms, including memory loss, attention deficits, sleep disorders, chronic pain, numbness, dizziness, stiffness in joints, irritability, fatigue, weakness, muscle spasms, depression, and more."  Surviving a lightning strike can be a life changing experience as well.

     Some safety tips from a NOAA lightning safety brochure available for download from the NOAA-NWS website:

When outdoors:
  • No place outside is safe when thunderstorms are in your area.
  • If you can hear thunder, lightning is close enough to strike you.  Get indoors immediately.
  • Go to a sturdy building or inside of a metal topped vehicle.
  • Remain in shelter for 30 minutes after you hear the last clap of thunder.
When indoors:
  • Indoors, do not use phones with cords, computers or other appliances connected to the electrical supply.  Lightning can travel throughout the building's electrical wiring and to anyone using the phone, computer, etc.
  • Indoors, avoid plumbing such as faucets, water fixtures, baths.  Lightning can travel through water pipes. Water is a good conductor of electricity.
  • Stay away from windows and doors, and stay off of the porch.
  • Don't lay on concrete floors or lean against concrete walls. (Lightning can travel through re-bar or metal mesh reinforcement in concrete.)
If outside, with no shelter available, from the NWS brochure:
  • Immediately get off elevated areas such as hills, mountain ridges or peaks
  • NEVER lie flat on the ground
  • NEVER use a tree for shelter
  • NEVER use a cliff or rocky overhang for shelter
  • Immediately get out and away from ponds, lakes and other bodies of water
  • Stay away from objects that conduct electricity (barbed wire fences, power lines, windmills, etc.)
  • UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES should ANY of the above actions be taken if a building or an all-metal vehicle is nearby
     If you are with someone who is struck by lightning:
When planning outdoor activities for your school, consider the following:
  1. Educate yourself about weather in general and about the dangers of lightning and thunderstorms particularly.
  2. Check the weather for the day through the NWS or your local TV weather report.
  3. Monitor changing weather for signs of approaching threatening weather.
    1. Consider purchasing a lightning detector or lightning strike indicator (link for example only - not an endorsement of a particular product.)
  4. Have a contingency plan to move participants out of harms way by moving into a substantial building.
  5. The National Athletic Trainers Association offers excellent guidelines for school officials that are planning outdoor events.
     On average, lightning kills around 100 people each year.  Because of our increased knowledge and sensitivity to the dangers of lightning, the yearly numbers have been decreasing.  However a substantial number of people are killed and injured every year because of lightning strikes.   For the most part, the risk for our staffs and students can be decreased significantly by conscientious planning, monitoring of weather and practicing proactive weather safety.  When Thunder Roars - Go Indoors!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Home Fire Escape Plans Work! Teach Your Children Today!

     Trace Adkins & Family's Misfortune Teach Us Fire Safety in the Home

     Ever since watching Trace Adkins on Donald Trump's Celebrity Apprentice way back in 2008, I really gained a new respect for a man that I found to have a great deal of intelligence, integrity and class.  Not to mention, his music isn't bad either.  Actually, it's really, really good, otherwise we probably wouldn't be watching him, right?  As good as his music is, now I have another reason to admire Mr. Adkins, and his wife Rhonda.  On June 5, CNN reported that the Atkins' home burned, while the Adkins' three young daughters were home with their nanny.  Mrs. Adkins had left shortly before, and was called back to the house by a neighbor who saw the fire.  The CNN report is below, and linked here:

They apparently are secret fans of Sparky, the famous Fire Dog, who by the way turned 60 this year.  Sparky has been encouraging children and their families to practice fire prevention and safety at home for 60 years, and undoubtedly has saved more than one child.  Well add to his record Trace Adkins family of  three young daughters, who according to their parents learned the fire safety routines in school.

      Every family should have and practice a home fire escape plan.  They are simple to design and easy to implement and practice. Children of all ages should be included, with age-appropriate guidance. Sparky recommends the following on his "parents" page to develop and practice a fire escape plan in your home.
  1. On a plain piece of paper, or one of the grids provided by the website, draw a floor plan of your house.  Draw out each floor. Show all the windows and doors.  Help each child to identify his room, if old enough to understand.
  2. Mark two ways out of each room.  Use the simplest, quickest route as your primary exit, and then secondary exits might be alternate doors or windows from the room.  Second story windows can be used when they lead to a lower roof, such as a porch or garage.  If using a window exit, make sure children know how to unlock windows and how to climb out onto the roof.  As another alternative to upper story windows that open to the ground, fire escape ladders can be considered for children old enough to deploy and use them.  (See recommended safety instructions from the manufacturer).
  3. Pick a family meeting place somewhere outside, away from your home, and preferably in the front yard, where responding fire fighters will find you quickly.  The Adkins family attribute practicing fire drills and actually tying a yellow ribbon to the meeting place tree in their front yard.  When Rhonda Adkins returned home, after being advised of the fire by a neighbor, the children were all under the tree tied with the yellow ribbon, just as they had practiced.  Once out, never, never return to the residence until cleared  by the fire department.  Get out! Stay out!
  4. The NFPA recommends, through Sparky's page, that families practice your fire drills at least twice a year.  If you have small children, more often may be a good idea.  Schools are required to practice fire drills with all students, regardless of age, once a month.  Tailor your drills to the needs of your family.
     Trace Adkins will always be a star in my book.  Not only because he is a great musician and entertainer, as well as being an all around good guy, he and his wife also are heroes in that they encouraged their children to learn and practice the home fire escape plan, the children brought home from their school.  When your son or daughter comes home from school, excited about practicing the home fire drills that visiting fire fighters taught them, don't ignore them.  Help them to develop an exit plan for your home, and practice it regularly. 

Photo Credit: United Press International
from Fire Fighting News.

     Tragically, as is often the case, again we learn the sad lesson that a home with children and without working smoke detectors is a disaster waiting to happen.  Another family in Warren OH suffered tremendous losses when a burning picnic grill ignited the back of the home, travelling quickly up and into the home trapping six occupants including four children.  From the Fire Fighting News website report, "[Warren, OH Fire Chief Ken Nussle] said there didn't appear to be working smoke detectors in the home."

What was supposed to be a tip of the hat to a great musician now becomes a tribute to kids.  Hug yours an extra time today. And make sure that your and your loved ones homes have working smoke detectors, today. 

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Juvenile Fire Setters - A Potential Hot Problem for Schools

      This recent article from Colorado KJCT8 news reminds us, as if we needed it, that there are many troubled youth out there that end up in our schools.  At this point we can't determine the kid's motivation for setting into motion a series of events that he may or may not have known could evolve into a major conflagration.  In this posting, Canfield OH fire officials determined that cleaning solvent ignited with a Bic lighter by an 18 year old student started a conflagration in an art classroom at the Mahoning County Career Center, that I've written about before.  The fire caused millions of dollars in damage and put hundreds of students' and staffs' lives in jeopardy, though no injuries were reported.

     The National Fire Protection Administration (NFPA) Executive Summary of Children Playing With Fire identifies several different types of firesetters, including the criminally intent teenager who uses fire as a way of rebelling against authority, known as instrumental firesetting. In this case according to the literature, the adolescent has learned that fire can be used as a tool of power, as a weapon.  
     The US Fire Administration published the report USFA - Juvenile Fire setting: A Growing Concern in 2006.  Not only are schools at risk from juvenile firesetters, on a bigger scale the entire community can be affected when kids discover the mesmerizing power of fire.  In career and technical education, because of the nature of our teaching shops, we have a ready stock of flammable liquids, ignition sources and a plethora of other weapons that a disturbed individual could turn into a bad day for everyone.  In one erudite study of juvenile firesetters the author cites an alarming NFPA statistic,
"Each year, fires set by juveniles’ account for a large portion of fire-related public property damage and deaths. Fires set by children and adolescents are more likely than  any other household disaster to result in death (National Fire Protection Association, 1999)."

In 2008, an estimated 53,500 child-playing fires were reported to U.S. municipal fire departments, with associated losses of 70 civilian deaths, 910 civilian injuries, and $279 million in direct damage.
Most (83%) set fires (that is, fires that are intentional and/or involve playing) are intentional only and do not involve playing. Also, most (77%) set fires specifically in home structures do not involve playing.

     So juvenile firesetting is a problem that we can and will see in our schools. Fortunately for our schools, unfortunate for the community, most of these behaviors take place outside of the school setting. But, emotionally unstable and psychologically impaired students have been known to set fires in schools both as "fireplay" and aggressive arson. With the growing number of children with special psychological and emotional needs in our schools, we could see an uptick in the prevalence of firesetting and related behavior. We have already begun to experience more frequent disruption to some of our schools because of the erratic behavior of students as demonstrated in school violence, bullying and other forms of anti-social behavior.  Firesetting is only one of many threatening behaviors we see in our students today for a number of psycho-social reasons, too numerous and convoluted to explore here.  There are some indicators though, that are enumerated below.
     It should come as no surprise that juvenile fire setting has been a concern for a long time. In the 1970's and 80's when I was active in the fire service as a fire educator and investigator, juvenile fire setting quickly rose to national attention. In my own county, the fire service, schools, juvenile justice and childrens' mental health communities came together to form the Trumbull County Juvenile Firesetters Task Force, that provided a multi-discipline approach to providing services for children who were involved in firesetting behavior. Our approach involved education, fire safety, emotional support and psychological services and family inclusion, for specific reasons outlined below. Age appropriate fire safety and prevention training was given to a child by a fire fighter mentor specially trained to deliver the program over a period of time.  Over the years, the problem has become the subject of a wide body of literature.

In this dissertation, Juvenile Firesetters, an Exploratory Analysis, Michael Lawrence Slavkin, PhD., identifies 7 types of firesetters, outlined in this chart taken from his paper:

Table One - Typology of Firesetters
 Type of Firesetter
1. Curiosity Type
Younger children who do not understand consequences of their behavior. Desire is to watch the flame. Hyperactivity or attention deficit may be present. No intent to cause harm. Traditional early childhood diagnosis.
2. Accidental Type
Usually involves children under 11 years of age. Teenagers playing scientist. The fire results from no destructive motive to create fire.
3. The “Cry for Help” Type
Includes those offenders who consciously or subconsciously wish to bring attention to an interpersonal dysfunction (depression) to an interpersonal dysfunction (abuse at home, vicarious observation of parental conflict). Not meant to harm people. Acceptable prognosis for treatment. Firefighter who sets fires or adult/juvenile “would be hero types” - seeking the attention of peers or the community in order to discover or help put out fires they start. Traditional early childhood diagnosis for abused children.

4. Delinquent Type

Includes the fire for profit type and the cover another crime type. Interest in vandalism and hate crimes is noteworthy. As juveniles, this type shows little empathy for others. Shows little conscious. Juvenile types rarely harm others with fire. Significant property damage is common. As adults, significant percentage harm others. Firesetting behavior is more easily extinguished than other personality and behavior problems that usually accompany the firesetting.
5. Severely Disturbed Type
Includes those juveniles who seek to harm themselves, paranoid, and psychotic types, for which the fixation of fire may be a major factor in the development of a mental disorder. Sensory aspects of the fire are sufficiently reinforcing to cause fires to be frequently set. Pyromaniac is a sub-type – sensory reinforcement is often powerful enough for significant harm to occur. Prognosis is guarded with this group.

6. Cognitively Impaired Type
Includes the retarded and the organically impaired types. Tends to avoid intention harm, lack acceptable judgment. Significant property damage is common. Prognistically, they are acceptable therapy candidates. Also included in this group are persons with severe learning disabilities, those affected by fetal alcohol syndrome, or by drugs taken by their mother during pregnancy.
7. Sociocultural Type
Includes the uncontrolled mass hysteria type, the attention to cause type, the religious type, and the satanic type. Arsonists who set fires primarily for the support they get for doing so by groups within their communities. Those who may set fires in the midst of civil unrest, and are either enraged and enticed by the activity of others and follow suit, or set fires with deliberation in order to call attention to the righteousness of their cause. Frequently lose control and harm others. Most are amenable to treatment. 
Note. From “A Model for the Qualitative Analysis of Child and Adult Fire Deviant Behavior,” by K. Fineman, 1995, American Journal of Forensic Psychology, 13, p. 34. Adapted with permission of the author.
     Obviously, there is much more here than meets the eye, and understanding the etiology of firesetting behavior has taken years of study.  However, Slavkin offers some overlying characteristics of juvenile firesetters. One caveat though.  As with any list of "signs and symptoms" of any disease, the presence or absence of any one, or any group of characteristics does not necessarily mean that a child will evolve into a firesetter.  These characteristics are those that years of study have identified in firesetters after the fact:
  • A tendency toward aggression especially when seen in tandem with noncompliance and disruption;
  • Delinquency, including mildly deviant behavior, especially when coupled with typical teenage boredom;
  • Straight out deviancy such as vandalism and willful property destruction;
  • Externalization of emotion, suggesting maladaptive ways of expressing negative feelings;
  • Poor social awareness and ability to express oneself;
  • Attention seeking behavior;
  • Limited family sociability, laxed discipline at home, limited parental acceptance and family affiliation;
  • Children and adolescents who come from neglectful or abusive homes;
  • Economic stress;
  • School problems - grades, behavior, attendance;
  • Peer problems - lack of significant friendships, peer relationships;
  • Peer pressure and negative peer group activities;
  • Feelings of lack of control over life.
While the list is by no means exhaustive, we see a lot of these behaviors and attitudes in adolescents today.  Couple with the increasing numbers of troubled families struggling just to survive coming into contact with our schools, being able to identify and address students with considerable needs is becoming a bigger and bigger part of our daily responsibilities. 
     It was interesting to note, as I was researching this post, I found it is easy to draw parallels with other violent behaviors we see in schools today.  The two tortured souls who reigned terror on Columbine High School, not only used conventional firearms to injure and kill innocent victims, but also attempted to use fire, in the form of propane bombs meant to explode and set fire to the school. The profile of the bully, and many victims of bullying can easily include the list we see above.  As a team, administrators, teachers, support staff and parents need to be aware of the increasing needs of our students and be able to respond when those red flags pop up.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

A School Rethinks Their Tornado Plan

           The video provides some insights learned by the Green County Middle School.  The day the tornado hit, only a teacher and her husband were in the school.  They survived, "Thank goodness for tornado drills," according to teacher Joyce Roberts, featured in the news video.  Training students and staff to react when threatening weather strikes is important. The question raised in the video, "What happens if..." is a good question to think about when planning.  Although this tornado occurred outside of school hours, would we be ready to respond adequately if a tornado strikes the school in the middle of the school day?

When planning for tornado drills consider the following:
  • Move students and staff away from windows and doors, as well as outside walls.
  • The lowest, interior hallways in the building are preferred.  Below ground level is best.
  • Teach students the "duck and cover" method of protecting their heads and bodies when sheltering for the storm.
  • Have several means of notification for building occupants.  The PA system may not work if power is knocked out by the storm.
  • Develop and practice drill procedures including accounting for students, notifying parents and establishing processes for reuniting students with their parents.
Tornados can and do hit schools.  The lesson from Green County, NC:  Have a plan, practice it, review and revise it as needed.  Ask the "What if..." questions.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Schools Out for Summer!

      It's summer time.  Time to pack up the books, lock up the classrooms and head out to summer fun and jobs.   As we say good bye to graduating seniors, we wish them all the luck in the world as they embark on the journey of the rest of their lives.  For some, it will be a short summer of vacationing with family or friends, and then off to college.  For others, they'll be out there, if they haven't already, looking for summer employment.  Have we done our jobs as career and technical educators to prepare our students to enter summer employment?  Many of our students will be looking toward seasonal jobs with parks and recreation.  Others will be serving us at our favorite fast food stops, while still others will be strapping on tool belts to work at construction, roofing and other skilled and semi-skilled positions.  Hopefully, they'll carry with them the safety lessons we've taught them over the last nine months to their summer jobs.
     According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC) an estimated 1.9 million teens between the ages of 15 and 17 worked in the US in 2009.  This number is assumed to be much higher because of the large number of unreported youth who work in agriculture.  Additionally, younger workers (those under 15) are likewise unaccounted for.  As many of us in education already know, because of unique biological, emotional and psychological factors youthful workers have a high degree of risk of being injured on the job.  According to the same CDC website, 34 minors - youth under 18, were killed in occupational accidents in 2008.  In 2007, over 48,000 were injured on the job and required treatment in the emergency department.  The number of total injuries is estimated to be much higher, because many injuries are not treated and therefore not reported by hospital emergency rooms.  It is important, then for us as career and technical teachers, mentors and leaders to make sure that students who will be entering the workforce are trained and given the tools to keep them safe on the job.
      For employers who may be hiring teen workers this summer, a review of the federal and state child labor laws is in order.  The US Department of Labor provides a web page that reviews applicable federal labor laws as well as provide links for individual state child labor laws. New DoL rules are outlined in several fact sheets available on the DoL website.  Employers who will rely on teen workers this summer should review the Child Labor Laws for their state.  In addition to the specific state laws that apply, the US Department of Labor issued some valuable fact sheets pertaining to specific jobs such as employment guides for amusement parks, restaurants, farms and agriculture, grocery stores, health care and recreation.  The DoL website, Youth Rules offers guidance to students, teachers, parents and employers for students entering the summer workforce.  A comprehensive list of Department of Labor partners and websites for employers can be found here.
     NIOSH provides two excellent introductory videos for youth entering the workforce.  Teen Workers: Real Jobs Real Risks offers an overview of teen employment, and a supplemental video The Hazards We Face in the Workplace offers teens a sampling of the risks and hazards present in the workplace.  Another excellent training resource for teen workers that I've recommended many times on this blog, Career Safe online safety training for students offers a 5 and 10 hour OSHA based safety training course that involves student in interactive learning about OSHA workplace rules and regulations and preventing job related injuries and illnesses.  For a nominal fee, students receive training presented by young peers in an upbeat, easy to follow format.  Students who complete the course receive either the 5 hour Career Safe card or an OSHA 10 Hour general industry or construction industry card.  Students who have completed the on-line course and received their cards have reported back to us that often that card has made the difference between being hired over other candidates for jobs.
     As our students prepare to enter the work force, it is our duty to make sure that they have the education, knowledge and skills needed for the job.  Part of that education is detailed knowledge of safety on the job for the many varied positions available to them.  By setting the example in our teaching shops, we give our students a head start on the rest of the workforce and encourage them in the words of the Career Safe curriculum to "Start Safe-Stay Safe."  Have a great summer everyone!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

OSHA Launches Program to Protect Workers from Heat Related Illness

     In a few weeks, many of our students will be starting summer jobs.  It's an opportunity for them to enter the workforce and get a taste of the day-to-day grind.  Summer employment brings with it many benefits and hazards.  Among them, one of the more prevalent hazards for both work and play are heat related illness and injuries.  People working or playing in the heat of the summer day have to watch out for many heat related injuries which include sunburn, heat cramps, heat exhaustion and the very dangerous and could be life threatening heat stroke.  Preplanned prevention is the only way to stave off these dangerous conditions.  Planning the day to include frequent breaks out of the heat of the sun, plenty of fluids and knowing the signs and symptoms of heat related illness is important to those who find themselves working in the conditions found in most of the 50 states.
     The US Department of Labor, through the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is launching a new campaign to prevent heat related injuries amongst workers who work outside during the summer.  Every year thousands of people are affected by heat related illness ranging from heat exhaustion and cramps to the more serious condition of heat stroke.  While relatively easy to treat, heat exhaustion left untreated can quickly evolve into the more serious and even life threatening heat stroke.  Heat exhaustion and cramps occur when the body, during strenuous activity such as work or play in hot humid conditions causes the body to overheat.  The body's natural defense against overheating, sweating, is unable to cool the body fast enough to prevent damage from happening.  As overheating worsens, damage to internal organs and the brain occur, making the condition life-threatening over a short period of time.  This summer, many of our students, and some of our staff members will be venturing out to outdoor activities such as yard work, summer jobs and summer play.  Keeping hydrated and cooling the body temperature is just as important whether you are earning a paycheck or besting your friends at nine innings of baseball.
     Another resource, produced by the US Army, is the Work, Rest and Water Consumption Table which recommends the amounts of water and rest an individual needs when working in different temperature ranges.  While it is applicable to soldiers wearing battle dress uniform (BDU), it is a good guide for employees working for extended periods of time in hot weather.  For example, an individual doing strenuous work in 82 to 85 degree weather, which is pretty normal for the northeastern United States, should have 30 minutes rest for every 30 minutes worked, and consume at least one quart of water per hour.  Supervisors and employees alike should become familiar with the signs and symptoms of heat illness and be sure to include adequate breaks and copious hydration.
    The resources at the OSHA website include a sampling of heat related injuries reported to the administration, illustrated guides and posters for employers to share with employees and multiple links to web-based resources for education and information.  As career and technical educators, as we prepare our students to enter the workforce with marketable skills, we need to also equip them with the knowledge and resources to work safe and play safe!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Safety is NO Accident - National Public Health Week - April 4-10, 2011

     Although I'm a little late with this, I thought that the resource and information was important enough to pass along anyway.  Any time is a good time for safety!  It's been awhile since I've posted anything here. I also encourage you to follow the safety articles that I've linked in my posts through my Twitter and Facebook accounts @GZarella and GerardZarella respectively, and to look through the list of posts near the bottom left of this blog.   
 At home, on the road, at work or at play, a trip and fall, a momentary distraction from the road, sports related injuries and a million other preventable accidents happen to people everyday.  Every year nearly 150,000 people die from injuries and almost 30 million require medical care from the hospital emergency room.  On the job, at home or at play safety should be first and foremost in our minds.  The direct and indirect costs of injuries impact how we live, work and play and so our attention to safety needs to be first in all the spheres of our lives.
     Taking simple preventative action can often not only prevent an accident, but can also protect us in the unfortunate event that an accident befalls us during our daily activities.  Using ladders and step stools as opposed to standing on chairs, choosing the right tool for the job, choosing and wearing proper protective equipment when participating in sports activities, using machinery or doing hazardous jobs, and learning the proper operating techniques and using machine guarding all help us to stay safe while at work and play. 
     During last week's National Public Health Week, sponsored by American Public Health Association, the APHA gave people the opportunity to share NPHW's 2011 Partners Toolkit, a helpful publication that gives interested parties guidelines to follow to promote the NPHW campaign.  The forty-seven page publication offers suggestions for promoting safety at home, work, on the move, at play and in your community.   It likewise offers suggestions to best utilize social networking media such as Facebook, Twitter, Blogger and others to get the word out, as well as helping to prepare one for interaction with TV, radio and traditional print media.  Another unit provides sample letters and dialogues to use when talking to your legislators about promoting safety.  Public education is important to the mission of promoting safety in all areas of our lives. 
     To keep this post in the spirit of the blog, we need to pay special attention to our students, the youthful workers that will be hitting the streets in just a few more weeks.   Annually, traumatic injuries caused by accidents and violence are the leading cause of injuries and death for young people between 10 and 24 years of age.  Secondary students, those in mid- to late teen years are at highest risk, topping out the statistical curve for accidental injury.  Whether at home doing daily chores, at work engaging in the multiple tasks and duties that constitute our jobs, or participating in our favorite sports and past-times, Safety IS NO AccidentWork Safe - Play Safe!

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Teen Worker Safety - Another Education Resource

    The American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE) is offering the "Target Teen Work Safety Tool Kit" as a free interactive tool for students, teachers, parents and employers to use to promote safety among young workers.   Every year, according to CDC studies, young workers, 15-19 account for the greatest rate of injuries for all age groups.  Teen workers historically have represented the highest rates of recorded injuries, but most authorities agree that the numbers are probably under reported.
     According to 2009 statistics published by the the CDC indicate that teens suffer the greatest number of falls and sustain the greatest number of injuries to the limbs, arms and legs.  Students working in leisure and hospitality, as well as retail seem to be at the highest risk, because the injury rate mirrors the employment rate of youthful workers employed in those industries, as shown on the accompanying pie graph from the CDC website .  I don't think that anyone will deny, that we all need to do more to educate student workers and prevent work-related injury and illness across the board.  From a "bottom-line" prospective, it just makes sense to decrease the rate of injury and therefore the direct and indirect costs associated with employee injuries in general.
      The toolkit offered by ASSE, as noted on their website contains:
•ASSE’s Interactive Online Zombie Video Game

•ASSE Young Worker Safety Brochures and Safety Tips
•The NIOSH Talking Safety Guide
Quizzes and Handouts
Power Point Presentations from ASSE and NIOSH
•ASSE News and Articles on Young Worker Safety
An additional resource for teen worker safety training that I've enthusiastically endorsed on this blog before is CareerSafe  an online interactive, OSHA based safety training course.  Our students deserve the best safety preparation that we can give them, and these two resources, in my humble opinion, are at the top of the list.  What are you doing to encourage your students to "work safe, play safe?"