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Working From Home Tips

As your in-service safety provider, we wanted to send out this monthly safety message to raise awareness and enhance employee quality of life in your company. This monthly message deals with “Working From Home Tips.” Working From Home, A “Bitter-Sweet Scenario” Working from home sounds like a luxury, but it comes with several challenges. What if you have connectivity issues with coworkers? What if you need something from your office that you don’t have access to? What if you are bombarded with other in-home distractions like pets, family members and electronics? Getting your work done is important for businesses but staying healthy (mentally and physically) is just as crucial for at-home workers. It’s all about creating boundaries between work and personal life, and that can be a difficult adjustment. Here are some tips for telecommuting, working from home, self-isolating or even self-quarantining—no matter your reasoning. Here are some working-from-home-recommendations: 1. Maintain Regular Hours Set a schedule and stick to it. Working designated hours, and then stopping when those hours are up, will give your brain time to work and time to rest. While working remotely does mean that there is added flexibility with your personal life schedule, it’s best to stick to a schedule where you can be productive, get your work done and call it a day when work hours are up. 2. Create a Morning Routine Humans are creatures of habit—and that’s partly because routine helps us mentally and physically prepare for things. Whether it’s having a cup of coffee every morning, doing some morning stretches or taking your dog on a walk, creating a morning routine can greatly help you get ready for the work-day at home. It’s also important to think about other controls, too. Working in your pajamas might work for some, but it might not be productive for others. Do you feel refreshed working out in the morning or the evening? 3. Schedule Breaks Just like any working environment, giving yourself breaks is incredibly important to let your brain and body relax. Take a 15-minute walk, go make some lunch or catch up with a loved one on the phone—whatever you do, though, do not work yourself to the bone without letting yourself take a break away from screens, meetings and work. Studies have shown that breaks can significantly improve productivity levels and a person’s ability to focus. 4. Leave Home You don’t have to eat out every day, but it is important to leave your home and give yourself a new space to breathe, work or exercise. This is true for in-office workers too: leave the building at least once a day. Your body needs to move, and fresh air and new scenery do your mind a lot of good. In the event of sickness or COVID-19, it is still important you get out and take a break from your routine workspace. Yes: isolation, quarantine, and social distancing are all different things. However, you can often control your environment to keep your body and brain health—especially if you are self-quarantining and social distancing. Isolation is an extreme measure taken for a person who is infected with a disease. A diagnosis of COVID-19 triggers isolation. “Isolation is when you are sick, either at home or in the hospital,” says Dr. Georges Benjamin, executive director of the American Public Health Association. “Infectious disease precautions are then much more rigid than in self-quarantine.” Quarantine is when, under state or federal law, individuals or groups are essentially on lockdown and unable to leave until it has been confirmed that they are not infected with a virus or disease. Recent examples include passengers from cruise ships where passengers fell ill with COVID-19 and were then required to stay at military bases for 14 days to see if they developed the disease. Social distancing is a lot more controlled and up to individual discretion. It basically means not shaking hands, staying several feet from other people and avoiding crowds. Most importantly, this means staying home if you’re feeling sick. In the wake of COVID-19, this has been the biggest reasoning for companies asking employees to work from home, for governments closing schools and for sports programs being cancelled. “It’s about taking stock, how closely you interact with people in day-to-day life,” says Christopher Mores, a professor in the department of global health at the Milken Institute School of Public Health at George Washington University. “Increase distances. Cut out handshakes. The idea is to try to empower people to break the lines of transmission.” 5. Socialize with Colleagues Of course, if you are sick or trying to stay healthy in the wake of something like the Coronavirus, socializing in-person with others might night be best idea. But in general, if you are working from home, socializing is important. Loneliness, disconnection and isolation are common problems in remote work life. Take advantage of opportunities to meet people, with the understanding of governmental requirements, but also knowing you can do meetings via chat applications and services. Talk about common interests and have online retreats. Making sure you nurture relationships is crucial to mental health—especially when working remotely. OSHA and Working from Home Keep these five tips in mind for working from home and remember that mental and physical health are just as important for remote workers as they are for in-office or on-site workers. However, employers do have legal responsibilities for the safety of an employee’s home workplace, too. The National Law Review lays out the most important, legal takeaways from OSHA. While employers’ responsibilities for the safety and health of their at-home workers is less than those in the office or onsite, some do still exist. OSHA distinguishes between home offices and other home workplaces. OSHA’s compliance directive on home offices is clear: • “OSHA will not conduct inspections of employees’ home offices. • “OSHA will not hold employers liable for employees’ home offices and does not expect employers to inspect the home offices of their employees. • “If OSHA receives a complaint about a home office, the complainant will be advised of OSHA’s policy. If an employee makes a specific request, OSHA may informally let employers know of complaints about home office conditions but will not follow-up with the employer or employee.” What about recording injuries while working at home? How do I decide if a case is work-related when the employee is working at home? Injuries and illnesses that occur while an employee is working at home, including work in a home office, will be considered work-related if the injury or illness occurs while the employee is performing work for pay or compensation in the home, and the injury or illness is directly related to the performance of work rather than to the general home environment or setting. The regulation offers the following examples: • “If an employee drops a box of work documents and injures his or her foot, the case is considered work-related.” • “If an employee’s fingernail is punctured by a needle from a sewing machine used to perform garment work at home, becomes infected and requires medical treatment, the injury is considered work-related.” • “If an employee is injured because he or she trips on the family dog while rushing to answer a work phone call, the case is not considered work-related.” • “If an employee working at home is electrocuted because of faulty home wiring, the injury is not considered work-related.” OSHA 300 Log and COVID-19 In the case of the Coronavirus, OSHA has a few guidelines in place for your reference. Employers must record cases of the Coronavirus only if the employer believes that the employee was exposed at work, and the case is diagnosed by a laboratory test or healthcare provider as having been caused by the Coronavirus, and the case is otherwise recordable. There is no presumption that an employee who has come down with a case of Coronavirus was infected at work. Instead, for the illness to be considered work-related, there must be evidence that it was contracted at work. If there is no such evidence, the case is not recordable. Read OH&S’s article OSHA Releases Guidance on Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19 for other information on how employers should be protecting their workers. Working from home can be a blessing, but it can also come with challenges. While telecommuting requires some adjustments in habits and routines, it’s important that employees of all kinds work to understand how to life, and work, healthily—both from the office and from the home. COMPREHENSIVE SAFETY MANAGEMENT SERVICES In addition to our Free Monthly Toolbox Talk Newsletter, we offer a wide range of services for Texas Based Safety Management System Implementation. Our safety management services provide companies with an internal structure to stay OSHA compliant and reduce the risk of employees who might be exposed to occupational health and safety risks on the job. Our services include

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Production Over Safety

This monthly safety message serves to raise awareness and enhance employee quality of life in your company. This monthly message deals with “Production over Safety.” Production over safety: Training delayed, finger chopped off! Companies need to make a profit to stay in business. But when production is placed ahead of training and safety, it often ends in disaster. That’s why no employee should ever use any equipment without machine-specific training, no matter what production demands. Scenario “Emma, I need to transfer you to the cutting department,” said her Supervisors. “We only have one girl over there and work is backing up fast. We have plenty of people here in sewing and since you’ve only been here a day, it’s easiest to move you.” “But I don’t know how to use the cutting machines,” said Emma Pang. “Don’t worry about it. It’s easy,” said her Supervisor. “Gail’s over there now, and she’ll show you how to use them. “We have a new group of employees starting in a week and you can go through the formal training process with them,” she added. Quick demo “You must be Emma,” said Gail. “Glad you’re here. I can’t keep up with all this.” “I’ve never used a cutting machine before,” said Emma. “No problem,” said Gail. “I can show you the ropes. “The material goes on this, feeds through the machine and comes out the other end,” said Gail. “Easy, right?” Emma gave a half-hearted smile. “This machine behind you gets loaded here,” said Gail. “But I’ll use this one, and you use that one.” By her fourth day, Emma was feeling good about the machines, despite the operation buttons not being labeled or color coded. She even got to work early so she could get a jumpstart on her workload. Since Gail wasn’t there, Emma decided to operate both cutting machines. All Emma had to do was make sure the machines didn’t jam. Ignored guard As Emma was straightening out the material on her machine, the other one stopped. A piece of material was stuck between the blades. She wasn’t sure which button stopped the machine, since they weren’t labeled. But she had a feeling which one it was and pushed it. Then she reached up under the guard between the blades to pull the material loose when the blade came down and severed her left index finger. Emma was rushed to the hospital by ambulance. But doctors could not reattach her finger. When Emma contacted her HR manager the day after the accident, she was told there would be a position available for her that she could do with one hand when she recovered. Five days after the accident, she finally attended a company orientation. While she was there, she found out the company put a new guard on the machine. When Emma called about a week after orientation to say she’d been cleared for work, she was told she’d been let go because no work was available for her. Tested positive Emma filed a workers’ comp claim, which was denied because her urine test performed at the hospital on the day of her accident came back positive for marijuana use. She fought back saying she only used it occasionally, only on weekends and hadn’t used it in four weeks. Result An administrative law judge found Emma to be a credible witness and ruled she was entitled to comp. But the ruling was overturned by the state’s Workers’ Comp Commission. Despite an appeal, Emma lost. The appeals court said Emma wasn’t a credible witness because if she hadn’t used marijuana in a month, it wouldn’t have shown up in her urine, and she used poor judgment reaching up under the blade guard. Key: This accident more than likely would’ve never happened had Emma received the proper training. No employee should ever use any equipment without machine-specific training, no matter what production demands. What you need to know Companies need to make a profit to stay in business. But when production is placed ahead of training and safety, it often ends in disaster. Employees need machine-specific training on every piece of equipment they use. If a machine has moving parts, it has numerous hazards workers need to be educated on. And don’t forget to document any and all training. COMPREHENSIVE SAFETY MANAGEMENT SERVICES In addition to our Free Monthly Toolbox Talk Newsletter, we offer a wide range of services for Texas Based Safety Management System Implementation. Our safety management services provide companies with an internal structure to stay OSHA compliant and reduce the risk of employees who might be exposed to occupational health and safety risks on the job. Our services include

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Unsafe Conditions

Unsafe Conditions Safety Talk Unsafe conditions will always exist in the world around us. That being said, it is possible to eliminate the majority of unsafe conditions in our workplaces in order to prevent injuries on the job. It is necessary to not only recognize that these kinds of conditions exist around you, but also to take action to eliminate or mitigate them. Two Common Types of Unsafe Conditions There is an endless list of possible unsafe conditions in any workplace. Two types of unsafe conditions that can be found in almost any workplace are slip, trip, and fall hazards and pinch point hazards. Slips, trips, and falls are responsible for many injuries on the job year after year. Many of these incidents are a direct result of an unsafe condition. Objects on the ground are a common example. Other unsafe conditions that lead to slips, trips, and falls injuries include slippery floors, unmarked changes in elevations in walking surfaces, cluttered work areas, unprotected edges, etc. Pinch points are also commonly found in workplaces. Pinch points are defined as any point where it is possible for a body part to be caught between moving and stationary portions of equipment. Pinch points can come in a variety of shapes and sizes. A couple examples of unsafe conditions relating to pinch points are points of operation on machinery, unguarded moving equipment, and rotating parts. Addressing Unsafe Conditions Depending what the unsafe condition is will determine what action is needed to correct it. A basic overview of addressing any hazard in the workplace: Stop and take the time to evaluate your work area and work task. Recognize unsafe conditions or what can possibly turn into an unsafe condition. Take action to immediately correct the condition if possible. Stop work and involve the other personnel if the unsafe condition is out of your control tocorrect. Continue to evaluate your work area throughout the work day for possible new hazards and unsafe conditions. Summary Unsafe conditions do exist all around us and it is true that not every single possible hazard in life can be eliminated. However, we all can take ownership and responsibility for our work areas and the work that we do to prevent and eliminate many unsafe conditions. Every unsafe condition that is corrected is one less chance of someone being injured on the job. Discussion point: What are some other examples of unsafe conditions that can be found at our worksite? COMPREHENSIVE SAFETY MANAGEMENT SERVICES In addition to our Free Monthly Toolbox Talk Newsletter, we offer a wide range of services for Texas Based Safety Management System Implementation. Our safety management services provide companies with an internal structure to stay OSHA compliant and reduce the risk of employees who might be exposed to occupational health and safety risks on the job. Our services include , Texas Based First Aid Kit Sales & Refill Service, Texas Based HSE Consulting, Texas Based AED Sales and Rentals, Texas Based Fire Extinguisher Sales and Inspection, and Texas Safety Database Management.

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