July 18, 2013

Make Safety Part of Hurricane Planning, Recovery

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BATON ROUGE, La. (July 18, 2013)—Hurricane preparedness checklists often include supplies such as bottled water, batteries, and first aid kits. Should your plans include mitigation projects, such as trimming trees and limbs, installing storm shutters, or other tasks that involve physical labor, Louisiana Workers’ Compensation Corporation strongly encourages residents to add safe work practices to their hurricane checklist.

According to a Bureau of Labor Statistics’ (BLS) report, the most common nonfatal injuries in the workplace for 2011 included sprains, strains, and tears of the back, shoulder or knees. Injuries suffered from slips and falls are also frequent.

Preparing your home or business for an approaching storm, or cleaning up in the aftermath of one, can be hard work. As the largest writer of workers’ compensation insurance in Louisiana, LWCC’s mission includes encouraging policyholders to embrace safe work practices and avoid injuries.

LWCC partners with policyholders to educate them about workplace hazards through free, hands-on advice and training from the state’s largest staff of Loss Prevention Consultants; online safety training; online safety resources and reports; a large library of safety DVDs; webinars; virtual driving simulators; and also a mobile classroom known as the Mobile Safety Training Center. Again, all of these services are free for policyholders.

LWCC recently presented a free webinar on hurricane season on June 19. Go to www.lwcc.com to view the “Morning Coffee Breakrdquo; webinar entitled It’s Hurricane Season: Are You Prepared? Other hurricane preparation resources are also available on LWCC’s website.

Before you tackle chores around the house, LWCC offers the following advice on hazards that can lead to injuries when residents are preparing for the 2013 hurricane season.

Lifting Hazards

The leading contributor to sprain, strain, and tear injuries is overexertion when lifting or lowering objects. LWCC recommends its policyholders do the following when preparing to lift an object:

  • Reduce exposure by using mechanical equipment/aids to move items or seek assistance from others for “team lifts.”
  • Before you lift, determine the weight of the object; most adults can handle 30–50 pounds. Clear debris, obstructions, or other tripping hazards from the intended path of travel and make sure the item does not block your line of vision while carrying it. Also, know where you intend to place the item once you arrive.
  • Bend your knees to get as close down to the load as possible. Ensure you have firm footing before you lift the load and keep your back straight, head up, and abdominal muscles tight. Keep the load close to your body, and slowly straighten your legs to stand. Also, do not twist your body while handling the load. If you need to change direction with the load, move your entire body in the desired direction.

Ladder Safety

Another common workplace accident that LWCC policyholders have experienced is employees falling from ladders. But falling from a ladder can lead to more than just an injury. According the BLS, in 2011, of the fatal workplace falls in the United States in which the distance of the fall was known, 25 percent were from 10 feet or lower.

Before you use a ladder, consider the following:

  • Do not set up a ladder, either an A-frame or extension ladder, on bricks or other material that can render it unstable.
  • Never climb with tools or equipment in your hands and never stand on the top two steps of an A-frame ladder.
  • Always maintain three-point contact with the ladder. That is, always have two feet and one hand or two hands and one foot on the ladder at all times.

Chain Saw

Timber harvesting is one of the most dangerous occupations, so use caution if using a chain saw to clear a path. The use of personal protective equipment is paramount and a thorough inspection of the chain saw is critical. Consider these guidelines before using a chain saw:

  • Personal protective equipment should include, at a minimum, safety glasses and hearing protection, but consider that tree removal professionals are also encouraged to wear hard hats, face screens or shields, cotton gloves, heavy-duty, waterproof boots, and ballistic nylon leg protection (chaps).
  • Always start a chain saw on the ground and ensure the brake is engaged. Place one foot on the handle and hold the top of the handle firmly.
  • Allow a chain saw to cool before refueling. Move at last 20 feet from the spot of fueling before starting the saw.
  • When handling the chain saw, place the muffler away from the body and the bar facing the rear when carrying. Never leave a chain saw running unattended, and do not hand a running chain saw to another person.

Small Power Tools

Improper use of power tools can cause injuries from debris striking the worker, foreign matter in the eyes, and even electrocution. Here are a few basic guidelines for hand tools:

  • Always inspect the tools prior to using and use eye protection.
  • In the case of an electric drill, never use it if the case is cracked. This could result in being exposed to an electrical current. Firmly grasp the drill, anticipating the possibility that the bit could bend. Never use the drill while standing in water.
  • When operating power saws, always use the proper size saw and the proper blade for the job. Do not use a wood blade to cut metal or a metal blade for wood. To prevent kickbacks, also support the material being cut with sawhorses and always stand slightly off center to reduce the possibility of being struck by a kickback.
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