Archive for the ‘SAFETY NEWS’ Category

Is Your Child Safe and Secure?

Tuesday, September 8th, 2015

Child Passenger Safety Week September 13-19, National Seat Check Saturday

GRAND FORKS, ND – Every 34 seconds a child under the age of 13 is involved in a vehicle crash, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The report further states that many of these deaths and injuries could have been prevented by the proper use of car seats, boosters and seat belts.

“It is critical that every parent understands how to install and use safety devices when it comes to the safety of their children,” James “Jamie” Bork, the Director of Compliance for Global Safety Network, said.

The first step in selecting a car seat for your child is determine if the rear or front facing best fits your situation. According to Safe Kids Worldwide, the rear-facing seat provides the best protection for children up to 2 years old. Weight and height restrictions are listed on the side or back of the seat.

For older children, the only option is the front-facing seat, which provides a top tether and lower anchors. It is recommended to use the tether for children under 40 pounds. Your seat’s label provides exact information regarding the weight and height restrictions for using the tether and anchors.

Children can remain in the front-facing seat until they are about 65 pounds, depending on the car seat limits. Once children outgrow the car seat, they can switch to a booster seat. No matter what type of car seat best fits your needs, make sure that it is properly installed. According to data collected by Safe Kids Worldwide, seventy-three percent of all car seats are not used or installed correctly.

Learn more about child safety.

Stop Bullying

Tuesday, September 1st, 2015

GRAND FORKS, ND – An estimated 20 to 30 percent of school-age children are involved in bullying as a victim or as the bully, according to Parent and Child Magazine. This form of intimidation can be verbal abuse (name calling, spreading rumors and threats), psychological (outcast and avoidance) or physical (hitting, pushing or stealing possessions).

No matter what type, bullying is painful. It does not discriminate, since this adverse behavior crosses age, socio-economic, racial, ethnic and cultural boundaries. Reports indicate that bullying starts as early as preschool and intensifies as children get older.

Researchers state that victims tend to be shy and weaker with low self-esteem and poor social skills. As a result, the perpetrators consider the victims as an easy target who will not defend themselves against the attacks. Since bullies are usually cowards, they seek victims that are not a threat to retaliate.

The Negative Long-term Effects of Bullying
Bullying affects both the victim and the perpetrator. While victims of bullying can suffer long-term emotional problems that cause low self-esteem and depression that can last into adulthood, the bully usually is unable to form positive relationships as an adult. Reports indicate that the adult bully is more likely to use tobacco, abuse alcohol and drugs and be abusive to his or her spouse. This type of bully mentality has also been found in some cases to be linked to criminal activities.

The Parent and Child Magazine Warning Signs of Bullying
If you’re concerned that your child is a victim of teasing or bullying, look for these signs of stress:

  • Increased passivity or withdrawal
  • Frequent crying
  • Recurrent complaints of physical symptoms such as stomach-aches or headaches with no apparent cause
  • Unexplained bruises
  • Sudden drop in grades or other learning problems
  • Not wanting to go to school
  • Significant changes in social life — suddenly no one is calling or extending invitations

Prevent Workplace Violence

Tuesday, September 1st, 2015

“Workplace violence is any act or threat of physical violence, harassment, intimidation or other threatening disruptive behavior that occurs at the work site. It ranges from threats and verbal abuse to physical assaults and even homicide.”
– OSHA

GRAND FORKS, ND – On August 26, two members of a small town television news team were shot and killed during a live report. According to police, the alleged gunman was a former terminated employee who had displayed anger toward the pair in the past. WDBJ7 reporter Alison Parker and cameraman Adam Ward were killed while conducting an on-air interview. The person being interviewed was also shot during the deadly incident. Her injuries were not life-threatening.

This is an example of how workplace violence affects not only employees but can involve clients, guests, vendors and visitors. Based on a 2010 report by the Bureau of Labor Statistics Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (CFOI), over 10 percent of fatal workplace injuries were workplace homicides. In fact, the leading cause of death for women on the job is workplace homicide.

According to OSHA, despite many cases not being reported, nearly 2 million American workers each year report having been victims of workplace violence.

THE SOLUTION

Create a Workplace Violence policy in your organization and include the following items as a minimum:

  1. State that the company or organization maintains a zero tolerance policy for violent or aggressive behaviors in the workplace, including: threats of violence, intimidation or any type of harassment.
  2. Show that the company is committed to workplace safety. Senior managers need to support this approach so that the company environment and culture support zero tolerance for violence and aggression.
  3. Describe company procedures that should be followed if violent behavior is observed by anyone in the organization.
  4. Show specifically how to report violence, threats, intimidating, or aggressive behavior
  5. Provide a description of concerns, supported by observations, fact, and if evidence is available (including email or voicemail evidence of threats or overly aggressive demands), this should also be included.
  6. If threats are made: show the threat language as closely as possible to what was actually said (verbatim if possible).
  7. Show what disciplinary measures may be followed, up to and including termination of employment.
  8. Include the policy in employee handbooks so that all employees have access to this information and know what to do and more importantly who they need to inform if a co-worker or manager exhibits this type of behavior.
  9. Train employees annually to recognize the warning signs for violence.
  10. Work with a threat assessment professional to evaluate the level of threat before it becomes more serious. Threat assessment professionals can often help to diffuse the potential for violence.

“Through our effective risk mitigation programs that include background checks and drug / alcohol testing, GSN is helping our clients reduce the chances of violent behavior at work.” – Robert Peterson, Chief Executive Advisor for Greenberg Enterprises

THE BASICS

Starting with basics, employers should consider these practical steps toward workplace safety, each of which may not necessarily make sense for every employer:

  1. Install good lighting all around the employer’s premises.
  2. Provide adequate security in parking areas, common areas, stairwells, cafeterias, and lounges.
  3. Limit access to work areas.
  4. Discourage former employees from coming to visit.
  5. Install alarms and surveillance cameras, where appropriate.
  6. Arrange regular police checks or provide limited access to the premises during high-risk hours (e.g., late at night and early in the morning).
  7. Educate supervisors about personality characteristics that are correlated with potentially violent employees.
  8. Train supervisors in conflict resolution and observation skills.
  9. Periodically survey employee perceptions about working conditions, changes in work loads, equality of treatment, and problems with the work environment not addressed by management.
  10. Develop and implement a policy concerning violence and harassment that encourages the reporting of all incidents to the employee’s direct supervisor or a designated management official. All reports should be documented, as well as the findings of any investigation. Observations and statements by the individual accused of misconduct also should be recorded. When appropriate, local law enforcement authorities should be notified.
  11. Once the investigation is completed, take appropriate action to counsel, discipline, or terminate the offending violent employee as soon as possible.
  12. Provide counseling for employees who have been laid off or fired. Offer outplacement or Employee Assistance Program services if possible. These services have been shown to soften the psychological impact of job loss.

It’s Official: Random Inspections Improve Workplace Safety

Friday, May 18th, 2012

Do government regulations in the workplace protect employees and consumers, or does the high cost of compliance merely drive companies to layoffs and bankruptcy? Proponents of each argument make their cases based on passion and little else since the available studies on the issue have been biased in one way or another. Now, a new study designed to produce more objective results has shown that random safety inspections do indeed improve safety without leading to burdensome expense or job loss. Some scientists say the randomized, controlled study design could be a model for testing whether proposed future regulations are likely to be effective.

Companies undergoing random inspections saw workplace injuries decline by about 9% in the 4 years following the date of inspection compared with injury reports during the same time period in firms that were not inspected, the researchers report online today in Science. The cost of the injuries reported—including medical treatment and missed work—fell by 26%. Using information from financial data provider Standard & Poor’s, the investigators found that the inspections had no effect on employment, total earnings, sales, or the survival of the company.

“Our study suggests that randomized inspections work as they’re meant to, improving safety while not undermining the company’s ability to do business,” says Toffel. “Now we’d like to get more data to see exactly how inspections reduce injuries, and to investigate what kinds of companies would get the most or least benefit from safety regulation.”

“The work is unusual in the strength of the study design,” says Jon Baron, president of the Washington, D.C.-based Coalition for Evidence-Based Policy, a nonprofit, nonpartisan group that seeks to increase government’s effectiveness based on rigorous evidence about what works. Baron notes that safety regulations are often put in place without scientifically credible evidence of their likely effects. Ideally, he says, all new government regulation should be subjected to similar randomized studies before being widely implemented.

Read the rest here: http://news.sciencemag.org/sciencenow/2012/05/its-official-random-inspections-.html?ref=hp

Making Employee Health and Safety a Priority

Tuesday, May 15th, 2012

Employers will agree that their employees’ health and safety are priorities, but just how is that manifested in the company culture? In other words, they often “talk the talk, but do they walk the walk?” Ensuring that employee healthand safety are reflected throughout all company departments, functions and programs, from the company policy manual to skill training, is key to “walking the walk.” Here are a few thoughts regarding an overall wellness strategy.
Company policies— Clearly state the employer’s philosophy and programs, including safety and those that are regulated or mandated by governmental agencies, regarding all work related functions. Safety and wellness policies include, but aren’t limited to, personal and company safety practices, drug-free workplace, tobacco use, employee health, etc.
Functional procedures – Outline the steps needed to accomplish various occupational tasks. They are especially important for functions that may occur infrequently, such as responding to an accident or emergency. Some functions are applicable to management but others are applicable to all employees. For example, management may oversee the company safety program, but all employees are responsible for ensuring safe conditions exist.
Job descriptions— State the specific responsibilities of the employee which should include health and safety elements.
Job standards— Provide clear and measurable standards of job performance that are usually tied into employee evaluations and pay raises. Including health and safety standards, clearly makes this a responsibility of all employees.
Training— Educate your staff on how to perform their jobs and convey the employer’s expectations. Supervisory skill training is an essential proficiency for your front line managers. Don’t forget drug free workplace education and training for supervisors and employees.

Mentoring and job coaching— Meet occasionally with the employee during or apart from job performance to discuss progress, identify performance success and opportunities, set goals, and reinforce company expectations.
Employee participation— Allow employees to provide feedback on various work functions and procedures. Allow them to identify safety and health concerns, new and existing programs, and potentially identify cost-saving measures. This helps employees to feel empowered which improves productivity.
Healthy lifestyle promotion— Promote health among your staff, because it can go a long way to reducing operating costs, especially sick days and down time, and improving productivity. Use of illicit drugs (such as marijuana), abuse of prescription drugs, and heavy and binge drinking all affect the workplace. Studies have
shown that employers can positively affect employees’ off-work use of drugs and alcohol by promoting a healthy lifestyle as a critical factor in positive work performance.
Another equally important aspect includes healthy eating, exercise and weight loss. These can improve health and mental attitude and reduce injuries and stress while enhancing productivity and morale. Furthermore, if the employer contributes to a health care plan, it can help to reduce health claims, thereby keeping costs down.
Finally, remember— Work toward your company employee relations goal with a plan! A healthy workplace “makeover” may take some time to transition.
The National Drug-Free Workplace Alliance

Identifying and Responding to Substance Abuse in the Workplace

Tuesday, May 15th, 2012

It’s not always easy to identify a substance abuser in the workplace. They are often very adept at concealing their substance use. Often, others know
or suspect that a co-worker may have a substance use problem. Here aresome signs that may be indicators of a substance problem:
• Absences – becoming more frequent and with little explanation, often happening with more frequency both on and off the job
• Presenteeism – the abuser is physically present at work but unengaged;increasingly productivity suffers
• Personal hygiene – the substance abusing employee becomes indifferent to his or her hygiene
• Reactionary or paranoid when questioned; sometimes volatile.
• Physical signs, including: inability to focus, dehydration, tiredness, excitability, dilated pupils, bloodshot eyes, slurred speech, balance problems, or an unsteady walk
• Confession about excessive alcohol/drug use or a hang-over

Addressing the problem

A comprehensive drug-free workplace program is the best means of preventing, identifying, and dealing with substance abusers in the workplace.

A drug-free workplace program includes:

• Written policy – clearly states the prohibitions of substance use at the workplace along with the consequences for violations of that policy. The policy is supported fully from the top down.
• Drug testing – all employees including management are subject to pre-employment, post-accident and reasonable suspicion testing as a minimum. Random testing is also considered a best practice.
• Supervisor training – provides all supervisory personnel with skills to identify and deal with substance abusers.
• Employee Education – to educate employees on the harms of substance use and how it negatively affects the workplace
• Parent Awareness – Provides employees who are parents (who make up a large segment of the workforce) the resources they need to address and prevent substance abuse within their families.
• Employee Assistance Program (EAP) – EAPs provide counseling for employees andtheir family members to address a wide rangeof problems including substance abuse.The goal of an EAP is to provide the employee with the tools and resources needed to successfully remain in the workplace.

What Can You Do?

Substance abusers in the workplace create a problem that affects you and should concern you. There are a number of ways in which you can do something about it.

Don’t enable substance abusers

When you participate in concealing substance use, you are protecting the abuser from consequences and delaying the opportunity for them to receive help. You may think you aredoing them a favor, but in actuality, you and your co-workers’ safety is at risk.
Don’t ignore the problem

If you suspect drugs are being used or sold, you should confidentially notify a supervisor or a human resources professional.

Don’t stage an intervention
Despite the growing popularity of realitytelevision shows addressing substance abuseand addiction, it is a serious issue that must behandled by qualified professionals.

Don’t worry about risking a substance abuser’s job

It is normal to be empathetic about a substance abusing employee. We often want to “live andlet live.” The reality is that you will create a more dangerous working environment; causing you and co-workers to have to work harder to make up for the abuser’s poor work performance.

The National Drug-Free Workplace Alliance

Dangerous Teen Craze Whip-Its Making a Comeback?

Tuesday, May 1st, 2012

There is growing concern among health professionals that Whip-Its — small canisters filled with nitrous oxide that can be used as a recreational drug are making a comeback among teenagers and young adults across the country.

“What makes them really popular is they’re easily accessible,” said William Oswald, founder of the Summit Malibu drug treatment center. “You can get them at a head shop, you can get it out of a whipped cream bottle.”

The most recent figures show that Whip-Its have become the most popular recreational inhalant of choice, with over 12 million users in the U.S. who have tried it at least once, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). Inhaling the compressed gas, either from the Whip-It chargers, a whipped cream canister, or a nitrous tank, is purported to result in a fleeting high, lasting anywhere from a few seconds to several minutes.

And while some states have passed laws attempting to stop the inhalation of nitrous, experts say the use of Whip-Its is mostly ignored by authorities and left unregulated.

“It’s non-detectable,” said Oswald. “So when they’re testing people, it doesn’t show.”

An ABC News investigation aired on “Nightline” found that multiple online retailers allowed large purchases of the Whip-Its, with no questions asked about age or what they would be used for. A tobacco shop selling the canisters alongside cigars and rolling papers insisted they were cooking supplies, but then immediately removed all boxes from the shelves when confronted with ABC News cameras.

But while a growing collection of user videos on YouTube portray doing Whip-Its, or “Noz” as it’s sometimes called, as a harmless, laughter-inducing activity, it can be deadly.

Illinois college student Benjamin Collen, 19, died from asphyxiation from nitrous oxide. He was found dead in a fraternity house surround by Whip-Its chargers in 2008.

Melyssa Gastelum was an 18 year-old aspiring fashion model and National Honors Society student when she went to an all-ages party in Phoenix last May where she inhaled Whip-Its and ingesting a small amount of ecstasy. She died later at the hospital and the medical examiner ruled that nitrous oxide was a contributing factor in her death.

“I wish I could wake up from this nightmare,” said her mother, Christy Gastelum. “I ask myself, ‘Why do bad things happen to good people? Why?'”

Experts told ABC News it’s not clear why sniffing death occurs in some people and not others, which adds to the hidden danger of using inhalants such as Whip-Its.

Dr. Westley Clark, director of the Center for Substance Abuse Treatment at SAMHSA, said inhaling nitrous oxide, or huffing as it’s sometimes called, can cut off oxygen to the brain and result in severe effects on the body’s cardiovascular system.

“What you’re concerned about is heart effects, effects on their peripheral nervous system, effects on their organ system,” said Clark.

Debbie Goldman knows that all too well. She said she started using Whip-Its in college and through her years at one of the country’s leading law firms, going through 10 boxes of the tiny chargers every night, 24 to a box.

“My whole body would go numb, and I would just fall asleep,” Goldman said. “My neurologist told me I was very lucky that I didn’t die from it or have brain damage.”

When she woke up one morning and couldn’t walk, she said she required intense physical therapy for six months. Then she entered rehab and got sober. Now, Goldman said she wants young people to know how addictive and dangerous Whip-Its can be, and she wants officials to take notice.

“They should not be accessible like they are,” she said.

The grieving family of Melyssa Gastelum are also now committed to raising awareness about the dangers of nitrous oxide inhalation.

“Our parents did talk to us about marijuana, heroine, drinking and driving,” said Melyssa’s older sister, Alyssa Gastelum. “But there’s so many things that you just don’t know about And it’s not just teaching your kids right and wrong. It’s teaching them about what can happen to them. How one decision can change their lives and their family’s lives forever.”

USDOT Announces National Registry of Certified Medical Examiners Final Rule

Friday, April 20th, 2012

WASHINGTON – U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood today announced an important new safety rule that requires healthcare professionals who perform medical examinations for interstate truck and bus drivers to be trained, tested and certified on the specific physical qualifications that affect a driver’s ability to safely operate the vehicle. The final rule also creates a national online database of medical examiners who have completed the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) certification process.

“Safety is our top priority and requires cooperation from everyone involved, including our medical examiners,” said Secretary Ray LaHood. “This new rule will ensure that healthcare professionals conducting exams keep in mind all of the demands required to operate large trucks and passenger buses safely.”

FMCSA developed the National Registry of Certified Medical Examiners final rule as part of the agency’s commitment to enhancing the medical oversight of interstate drivers, and preventing commercial vehicle-related crashes, injuries and fatalities. The rule addresses four National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) recommendations on comprehensive training for medical examiners and tracking of driver medical certificates.

In 30 days, FMCSA will post its uniform training and testing standards for medical examiners at http://nrcme.fmcsa.dot.gov/. At that time, health care professionals, drivers, employers, law enforcement officers and the public can review the training standards and sign up to receive updates on the implementation of the rule.

By May 21, 2014, all certified medical examiners must be on the National Registry database, and drivers must obtain a medical examination from a certified examiner. Medical examiners who fail to maintain federal standards will be removed from the registry.

To allow time for testing and training centers to prepare their curricula and receive FMCSA approval, healthcare professionals seeking to become certified examiners can begin registering on the National Registry website this summer.

“Truck and bus drivers deserve highly-trained medical examiners that think safety first,” said FMCSA Administrator Anne S. Ferro. “By holding medical examiners accountable to high standards of practice, we raise the bar for safety and save lives through increased commercial driver and vehicle safety.”

Medical examiners perform approximately three million examinations on commercial truck and bus drivers each year. A Department of Transportation medical exam looks at a range of conditions to determine a driver’s medical fitness, including cardiovascular disease, respiratory and muscular functions, vision and hearing.

All commercial drivers must pass a Department of Transportation medical examination at least every two years in order to obtain a valid medical certificate, maintain their commercial driver’s license and legally drive a commercial motor vehicle.

To learn more about the National Registry of Certified Medical Examiners final rule, visit http://nrcme.fmcsa.dot.gov/.

Self-Certification for Commercial Drivers Takes Effect January 30.

Monday, January 30th, 2012

Self-Certification for Commercial Drivers Takes Effect January 30.
http://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/rules-regulations/administration/fmcsr/fmcsrruletext.aspx?reg=391.41
391.41 (a)(2)

(2) CDL exception. (i) Beginning January 30, 2012, a driver required to have a commercial driver’s license under part 383 of this chapter, and who submitted a current medical examiner’s certificate to the State in accordance with § 383.71(h) of this chapter documenting that he or she meets the physical qualification requirements of this part, no longer needs to carry on his or her person the medical examiner’s certificate specified at § 391.43(h), or a copy. If there is no medical certification information on that driver’s CDLIS motor vehicle record defined at 49 CFR 384.105, a current medical examiner’s certificate issued prior to January 30, 2012, will be accepted until January 30, 2014. After January 30, 2014, a driver may use a copy of the current medical examiner’s certificate that was submitted to the State for up to 15 days after the date it was issued as proof of medical certification.

Can People in Recovery Kick the Smoking Habit?

Thursday, September 1st, 2011

Smoking has devastating consequences for those addicted to it. Smoking is nothing more than a slick delivery system for nicotine into the blood stream. It is fast, efficient, and deadly. And smoking is a widely accepted habit for many drug treatment and rehabilitation programs in America. It is especially evident in many mental health programs which are treating people with serious mental illness. Smokers have an increased risk for cancer, lung disease, and cardiovascular disease. And on average, they die many years sooner than those who do not smoke.

In the drug treatment setting there is broad sentiment that smoking is a stimulus that calms and soothes people at a time where environmental and emotional stressors are apt to trigger a relapse. In other words, it is an anti-drug drug. Mentally ill patients and recovery populations commonly smoke. The connection appears to be tightly interwoven. Twenty years ago, the Joint Commission on the Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JACHO), now called the Joint Commission, advanced a nationwide ban on tobacco use in hospitals. Quite a battle ensued. Advocacy groups for the mentally ill argued that the banning of cigarettes would result in mass insurrection in treatment institutions. These protests caused JACHO to back down and exempt psychiatric hospitals from the rule. For those hospitals that voluntarily complied with the ban, there was little or no disturbance in patient behaviors.

In the drug treatment community, smoking is still widely accepted. And only recently have institutions begun to offer quit-smoking assistance to those who want it. The first obstacle in this initiative is to admit people in recovery actually do want to quit. There is little to doubt this population has the same desire to quit smoking as the general population. Typically, between 20-25% of smokers state that they intend to quit in the next 30 days. That number gets higher the further the time frame is pushed out. But efforts to assist patients with smoking cessation are weak. And smoking is an expensive habit. With a pack of cigarettes costing more than a gallon of gas, many people in recovery from substance abuse disorders are saddled with the additional financial burden of smoking.

Drug treatment programs should be encouraged to engage with patients and discuss smoking habits. They should provide resources and information needed to act on a tobacco dependency. Barriers to lifestyle changes are already down in the treatment setting, thus the opportunity to introduce smoking cessation initiatives are greatest at that time. But smokers have to be ready to quit, and building a foundation towards that willingness can take time, patience and resources. But with the tools and assistance available in the treatment setting, there are abundant reasons for making the effort to stop smoking. The fact that the recovering addict is more likely to die from smoking than he or she is to die from the addiction is a sobering fact. The time has come to provide effective smoking cessation resources to all who are seeking treatment for substance abuse disorders.