Safety

What is Your Fall Risk?

It’s fall so let’s talk about falls. While they affect the older population more than the young, fall injuries are still very real for everyone. Did you know you have a 1 in 114 chance of dying from a fall? In comparison your chance of dying in a plane is only 1 in 188,000. The probability of you dying from a fall are almost equal to the probability of dying in a car crash at 1 in 103.

More than 9 million Americans are treated in the emergency room for falls each year. One of every three nonfatal injuries in the U.S. comes from falls. With all of this in mind, it’s important to understand your risk for falls and how they can be prevented.

First, take this self-assessment from the CDC. If you answer yes to four or more of the questions, you are at an increased risk for falls. To help prevent them in your home, here is a list if things you can control:

  • Keep floors clear of clutter
  • Keep drawers and cabinets closed
  • Keep electrical cords out of traffic areas
  • Create open pathways with at least 3 feet of space between furniture
  • Ensure good lighting in each room

Next, learn how to choose and use a ladder safely for your home projects.

  • Consider the size and weight of the ladder in comparison to who will use it, what gear will be used, and what the purpose is for (Ladders do have weight limits)
  • Angle your ladder 1 foot away from the surface for every 4 feet in height where you are working
  • Extend the ladder at least 3 feet over the edge of where you are working
  • Fasten the top of the ladder to a support
  • Do not stand any higher than the third rung of the ladder
  • Have someone support the bottom of your ladder
  • Ensure cleats on the bottom of the ladder are anchoring the ladder
  • Do not lean sideways on the ladder
  • Do not wear loose clothing that could be caught on the ladder
  • Keep a 25-foot clearance from power lines
  • Choose fiberglass when you can (especially when working anywhere near power lines)
  • Maintain 3-point-control when climbing, with hands on the rungs, not the sides (Read Looking Up: An Eye on Ladder Safety)

Ready to learn more? Listen in as Kevin King discusses your fall prevention assessment and ladder safety on People’s Law Talk.

For more information on choosing fall prevention and ladder safety read:

 

Are You…Yawn…Tired?

Are you…yawn…tired at work? Nearly 40% of U.S. workers are sleep deprived causing them to be fatigued.

It is recommended the average adult get 7-9 hours of sleep per day, but the majority don’t. In fact, only two of every 100 workers state they get more than 7-9 hours. Eight percent surveyed said they get less than five hours of sleep per day. After 10 days of losing just two hours of sleep per day, it is like your body has lost an entire day of sleep!

When you work against biology and a body does not get the necessary sleep needed, it can become fatigued. When you have two or more of the risk factors for fatigue, the ability to perform your job at an adequate level is reduced. How many of these risk factors for fatigue do you have?

  • Shift Work
    Seventeen percent of works work a non-day-shift role. Workers who work shift work regularly report fatigue.
  • High Risk Hours
    Forty-one percent of workers work during high risk times of 9 p.m. – 6 a.m. and 3 a.m. – 7 a.m..
  • Demanding Job
    Work that requires sustained attention for prolonged time contributes to fatigue. Eighty-one percent of workers maintained having demanding or repetitive jobs.
  • Long Shifts
    The long an employee works, the more tired they are and the more likely they are to make a critical mistake. Twenty -one percent of workers work shifts 10+ hours long.
  • Long Work Week
    Twenty-two percent of workers work more than 50 hours per week but work days should be limited to 5-7 consecutive days to reduce the risk of fatigue.
  • Sleep Loss
    Forty-three percent of workers don’t get at least seven hours of sleep per day.
  • No Rest Breaks
    Ten percent of workers do not get short breaks throughout their shift, but they have been proven to mitigate fatigue.
  • Quick Shift Returns
    Fourteen percent of workers have less than 12 hours between their shifts. Shift returns of less than eight hours should be avoided.
  • Long Commutes
    Thirty-one percent of workers commute 30+ minutes. This can increase fatigue development, compounded by drowsy driving risks.

If you have two or more of these risk factors, you might experience fatigue symptoms like decreased vigilance, attention, memory, and concentration as well as microsleeps. These symptoms are experienced 27 percent on the job, 16 percent on the road, and 41 percent off the job.

It’s been proven over multiple studies that a person who only sleeps 4-5 hours a day has the same crash rate as someone with a Blood Alcohol Content of .08. Also, a person who loses just two hours of sleep from eight hours is likely to perform at the same level as someone who has had 2-3 beers.

To mitigate the risk of fatigue, you are encouraged to get adequate sleep. When that is absolutely not possible, there are some other mitigation tactics that can be utilized at work.

  • Physical Activity
    NASA says pilots with seven minutes of activity during night flights can increase their alertness.
  • Naps
    Short naps for 10-20 minutes can also boost alertness.
  • As Needed Breaks
    Allowing employees to take breaks as needed can reduce accumulated of on the task fatigue.

Want to know more? Listen to People’s Law Talk as Kevin King discusses worker fatigue risks, symptoms, and mitigation steps.

Want to hear more talks from Peter and Kevin King? Tune into WCIS 1010 AM Columbus, IN the first and third Friday of every month for People’s Law Talk.

Looking for more information? The National Safety Council has a lot to share!

Complete Coverage: Protection From UV Rays

Child wearing sun protecting hat and sunscreenMay through September usually means warm or even hot weather here in Indiana. It also means sun, UV rays, and increased risk of skin damage, including melanoma.

The hazard comes for harmful UV rays. UV rays can damage skin cells. Beyond causing wrinkles, it can alter skin cell DNA resulting in cancer. The risk of exposure is not lessened because it is cloudy outside. UV rays can still reach the ground, even with cloud coverage. And the risk isn’t nu ll in the shade. UV exposure can be direct, like working shirtless or standing directly in the sun hatless, but it can also be indirect. UV rays can be reflected off many surfaces including paved roads, water, grass, sand, and more.

When UV rays alter skin cell DNA, it can result in Melanoma. There are more than 9,500 diagnoses of Melanoma daily with one person dying of Melanoma every hour. This cancer is extremely prevalent. Females under age 49 are more likely to develop Melanoma than any other cancer besides breast and thyroid cancers. Males under 49 are more likely to develop Melanoma than any other cancer.

The risk of developing skin cancer is high because UV damage is cumulative. Twenty-three percent of UV exposure occurs by the age of 18, so that still leaves a lot of UV exposure as you go into those working adult years. Risk does increase by 70 percent for those who experience five or more blistering sunburns between the ages of 15-20. Once you burn, the damage to the skin cell DNA has already been done. Those with skin type one (pale, white, freckled, always burns never tans) also have an increased risk of developing skin cancer. But anyone, age or skin type aside, can develop it.

UV Index

To help reduce your risk of being exposed to hazardous UV rays, there are steps you can take. First, check the UV Index daily. This index, developed in 1992 and adopted by the WHO in 1994, rates the risk of harm from unprotected sun exposure. The scale ranges from 1 to 11, with 11 being the most risk. Again, cloud coverage does not mean it will be low. A recent cloudy Thursday afternoon had a UV Index of 7. Check it daily to ensure you’re informed and can help minimize your risk.

Also, to help protect yourself you must protect your skin. This can be done in several ways. First, choose clothing that covers your skin. Long sleeves, long pants, and wide brim hats are great. Clothing that has built in SPF protection is even better. Second, if you’re spending the day outdoors, in the sun or shade, lather up with sunscreen. A sunscreen of at least SPF 30 is recommended. It’s important to regularly reapply every two hours and to apply everywhere, including your ears! Also, avoid tanning beds. Using a tanning bed is directly exposing your skin to UV rays. Last, be preemptive in your health and get regular skin screenings.

John Foster, host of 1010 AM Columbus stumbled into a skin cancer screening clinic one day after moving to Columbus, IN. That was how he caught multiple Melanoma spots. He has since had five spots removed, including two on his legs (the result of UV rays bouncing off a road he worked on during his time in the U.S. Air Force). He now attends regular screenings to catch and address any new Melanoma spots quickly.

Listen in as Kevin King talks more about melanoma, the hazards of UV rays, and how to protect yourself.

Want to hear more talks from Peter and Kevin King? Tune into WCIS 1010 AM Columbus, IN the first and third Friday of every month for People’s Law Talk.

Learn more about sun safety and skin health from these expert sources:

You can also easily check your local UV Index with the EPA or by searching “UV Index” with your zip code.

Fixing Distracted Driving with System Safety Designs

In 1983 only 13 percent of the public regularly used seat belts. Advertising and education campaigns were undertaken and 26 years later, that number increased to approximately 85 percent. That’s more than 25 years to make a usage change of 72 percent. In the meantime, people were injured and died.

If we continue the same path and rely upon changing human behavior through campaigns for distracted driving, we can expect the same results, a long wait for a significant change. In the meantime, more than nine people a day will continue to die due to distracted driving, a number that increased from eight just two years ago. Or, society can demand, politicians can legislate, and automakers can undertake using system safety design.

Technology has existed since the early 2000s that will block cell phone signals from the driver’s seat area of vehicles. If installed in vehicles, it could greatly reduce the risks from distracted technology usage in vehicles.

Some might argue that hands free technology is enough if drivers utilize it, but it’s not. It still leads to inattention blindness, drivers missing important items such as stop signs and pedestrians. The human brain cannot process all the information coming into it when attempting to multitask. It has four attention capabilities:

  1. Sustained attention: ability to concentrate on an activity for a prolonged period without being distracted (e.g., reading a book)
  2. Selective attention: ability to select from various factors or stimuli and focus on only one (e.g., talking to one person at a noisy party)
  3. Alternating attention: ability to shift between tasks and cognitive areas of the brain (e.g., reading a recipe and then following the instructions)
  4. Divided attention: attempting to process two or more demands at the same time require the use of the same cognitive areas of the brain (e.g., on the phone and driving)

Divided attention is what happens when humans attempt to multi task. It creates inattention blindness leading to injury and death for many. Yet, according to AAA:

  • 2 in 3 drivers talk on their cell phones while driving
  • 1 in 3 drivers admit to typing and sending a text while driving
  • 2 in 5 drivers admit to reading a text or email while driving

Sixty-seven percent of those surveyed by the National Safety Council felt at risk because of other drivers’ distractions due to technology. But, back to human behavior, only 25 percent of those same people said their own technology use put others at risk.

Just because we’ve done something one way before doesn’t mean we always have to do it that way. This time it’s time to change our reliance on changing human behavior. Instead, let’s rely on system safety design.

Listen in as Kevin King talks more about distracted driving and system safety design.

Want to hear more talks from Peter and Kevin King? Tune into WCIS 1010 AM Columbus, IN the first and third Friday of every month for People’s Law Talk.

Learn more about distracted technology from us and other great sources.

From the Law Dogs:

Trusted Resources:

Childcare Safety: The Unanswered Questions

Eleven million children in the US regularly attend some form of non-relative childcare. While much is studied about early childhood education and social development in these settings, there are very little answers about the safety of daycares.

There is no national standard reporting system for injuries and fatalities across childcare facilities. In addition, there are very few national standards. Most daycare regulation is controlled at a state level and, even there, the lack of information continues. With no uniform standards or reporting system its difficult to find safety information.

One of the few reports available aggregated many reports and found from 1985-2003 there were more than 1300 fatalities of children in childcare, with 130 in home-based care. Injury rates were higher. So how do we address the safety issues when we don’t know what they are? How do we develop better systems to protect our children?

Listen in as Kevin King discusses the issue of child daycare safety, various types of childcare and how they’re regulated, how to evaluate the safety of childcare play areas, as well as more progressive models of childcare we can look to for inspiration.

Want to hear more talks from Peter and Kevin King? Tune into WCIS 1010 AM Columbus, IN the first and third Friday of every month for People’s Law Talk.

*In Indiana parents can find and review reports of childcare facility state inspections from the Family and Social Services Administration (FSSA) online.

Seventeen Minutes for Knowledge: Furniture Tip Over

By the time you’re done reading this post and listening to the audio, another child will sustain an injury from furniture, television, or appliance tip over. It happens every 17 minutes. This results in 25,500 injuries per year, with a death almost every two weeks.

This happens frequently because there are no mandatory furniture design standards manufacturers must meet. When a small child climbs a 30-inch-tall dresser with a drawer out, the center of gravity and stability can change. Some manufacturers do follow a voluntary standard that states dressers that are 30 inches or more must be able to maintain stability with 50 pounds hanging off an open drawer, but consumers have no easy way of knowing which furniture was held to this standard. This lack of standards isn’t for lack of trying. In 2016 The STURDY Act (The Stop Tip-Overs of Unstable, Risky Dressers on Youth Act) was introduce to Congress but was never passed.

As the work continues to mandate standards for designing safety into products like furniture, the onus of safety is put on the consumer. Parents are, unrealistically, expected to watch their children around furniture 100 percent of the time. Consumers are also expected to alter their furniture at home by anchoring it.

While it’s not acceptable to put the burden to reduce safety risks and hazards on consumers, anchoring furniture and buying furniture that could withstand the not yet passed STURDY standards are good steps to take while we wait for safety design standards to catch up. You can find great tips on furniture tip over prevention and proper anchoring techniques from the Consumer Product Safety Commission. Consumer Reports has also released a report on which furniture already available meets the STURDY standards.

Review those resources while you listen to Kevin King expand on furniture tip over, the staggering injury statistics behind the hazard, and where safety standards need to go.

Want to hear more talks from Peter and Kevin King? Tune into WCIS 1010 AM Columbus, IN the first and third Friday of every month for People’s Law Talk.