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With winter weather (hopefully) behind us, April typically marks the beginning of road repair work in many states. It’s also a good time for motorists to remember their obligation to look out for the safety of those who share the roadways.

That’s a message that National Work Zone Awareness Week, which this year run from April 9-13, aims to highlight. Its theme, "Work Zone Safety: Everybody's Responsibility”, focuses the safety issues surrounding work zones and necessity of awareness and planning on the part of everyone they affect. That includes everyone from road and utility workers to police and emergency responders to pedestrians, cyclists and motorists.

In Indiana, for instance, road workers are more likely to be killed in motor vehicle crashes than from any other hazard on the job, including those involving workplace violence and machine-related accidents. Since 2014, at least 12 people on average have been killed each year in INDOT roadway work zone crashes. Eighty percent of those killed are motorists or their passengers.

That’s according to the Indiana Department of Labor (IDOL). The department’s website also mentions that the most common causes of collision noted by police include:
-Following too closely.
-Unsafe lane movement.
-Failure to yield right-of-way.
-Ran off roadway.
-Ran over object in roadway.
-Improper lane change.
-Driver inattention.
-Unsafe speed.

The most common types of collision from these cause are rear-end, same direction sideswipe, head-on between two motor vehicles, and leaving the roadway.

For more information on National Work Zone Awareness Week, visit https://ops.fhwa.dot.gov/wz/outreach/wz_awareness.htm

All 50 states, two U.S. territories, and Washington, D.C., are now all joined by FirstNet, a wireless broadband network to be dedicated to public safety. The statutory 90-day decision period for state governors to opt in or out of the FirstNet proposed Radio Access Network (RAN) buildout plan expired Dec. 28, and every state accepted the FirstNet deployment plan. Three U.S. territories – American Samoa, Guam, and the Northern Mariana Islands – have until March 12, 2018 to make their decisions.

Congress passed legislation to establish the network in 2012. Since then, the First Responder Network Authority worked closely with public safety to develop customized plans for building the network in each state and territory.

Read entire article - https://www.firstnet.gov/news/first-responder-network-goes-nationwide

Better safe than sorry should be the motto of every workplace when it comes to the possibility of injuries, and eye injuries are no exception. March is designated as Workplace Eye Wellness Month, and your eyesight can be at risk in numerous ways.

The National Safety Council states, “all it takes is a tiny sliver of metal, particle of dust, or a splash of chemical to cause significant and permanent eye damage.” Almost 2000 people in the United States injure their eyes while working every day, and of these injuries, one third of them are severe enough to be treated at the hospital emergency room. This means almost one million Americans have experienced some vision loss due to eye injury, which has resulted in more than $300 million in lost work time, medical expenses, and worker’s compensation.

Many occupational eye injuries occur because employees are not wearing any eye protection while others result from wearing improper or poorly fitting eye protection. OSHA estimates 90 percent of eye injuries can be prevented through the proper use of personal protective equipment (PPE) for the eyes. Some of the most common types of eye (and face) protection include safety spectacles, goggles, welding shields, laser safety goggles and face shields. Each type is designed to protect against specific hazards. For more specifics on PPE, check out OSHA’s publication on the subject - https://www.osha.gov/Publications/osha3151.pdf.

Even though we normally think of work-related eye injuries happening from working with metal, wood, UV radiation burns or chemicals, there’s another culprit posing a threat to our vision – technology, specifically computers. Over exposure to computer screens may not permanently damage our vision, but it can make our eyes feel irritated and fatigued and may cause them to lose their ability to function properly. Computer vision syndrome is the most common eye problem, which is spending too much time in front of a computer screen without enough breaks. This can cause headaches, neck pain, back strain and dry eye. Studies have shown that when staring at a computer screen for extended periods, we do not blink as often, which prevents eyes from staying lubricated and moistened.

Here are some tips to keep your eyes feeling comfortable for those who spend many hours in front of a computer screen:
• Reposition your screen to keep any direct light source from causing a glare.
• Keep the computer roughly 30 inches away from your eyes.
• Remember the 20-20-20 rule: every 20 minutes, look at an object at least 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds.
• Remember to blink frequently.

Let’s celebrate Workplace Eye Wellness Month by keeping these tips in mind and protecting those eyes!

A rating system helped predict which solutions construction workers would use to prevent musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs). That’s according to a study (http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/ajim.22693/pdf) by the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, Missouri that was funded by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). 

In the study, three analysts, including an occupational-medicine physician and two occupational therapists, rated the likelihood that construction workers would adopt 16 different solutions to tasks that could cause MSDs.

That was followed by the use of 2007 rating system to score the likelihood that the construction workers and their contracting companies in the previous study would adopt each solution. The rating system includes relative advantage, compatibility, complexity, ability to try the solution (or trial ability), and observability. The researchers then added a sixth category, usability, to the system.

According to the researchers, the findings show that the rating system could help predict the adoptability of simple solutions to prevent MSDs among construction workers.

Read entire article - https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/research-rounds/resroundsv3n6.html

Clocks will spring forward on Sunday, March 11 as we begin Daylight Saving Time. Even though we welcome the bright mornings as a signal that winter is finally coming to an end, we do miss that lost hour of sleep and we might even have to deal with our body clock disruption.

Now you may think one hour of lost sleep isn’t much, but many of us deal with lack of sleep on a regular basis. The effects of fatigue are far-reaching and can have an adverse impact on all areas of our lives, including workplace safety.

March is Sleep Awareness Month, and it’s a good time to remind people that getting a good night’s sleep is a necessity. More than 43% of workers are sleep-deprived, and sleep deprivation and drowsiness on the job can be a major safety issue, especially in safety-critical positions that involve operating machinery, driving or other tasks that require alertness.

Adults need an average of seven to nine hours of sleep each night, but 63 percent of Americans reported their sleep needs are not being met each week. According to Circadian (link to website - http://www.circadian.com/), a global leader in providing 24/7 workforce performance and safety solutions for businesses that operate around the clock, sleep deprivation is frequently the root cause of decreased productivity, accidents, incidents and mistakes which cost companies billions of dollars each year.

Sleep deprived individuals are poor communicators, have decreased vigilance and slower response time, become distracted easily, and are more prone to engage in risky decision making. Interesting point is if you have four or more nights of less than seven hours of sleep per night, it can be the equivalent to a total night of sleep deprivation and that can affect your functioning for up to two weeks.

And what about operating machinery or driving while sleepy? Drowsy driving is impaired driving, and the National Safety Council research showed:
• You are three times more likely to be in a car crash if fatigued
• Losing even two hours of sleep is similar to the effect of having three beers
• Being awake for more than 20 hours is the equivalent of being legally drunk (22 hours of sleep deprivation results in neurobehavioral performance impairment that are comparable to a 0.08 percent blood alcohol level)

The loss of sleep is not only detrimental to workplace safety, it is a major player in employees’ overall health. Chronic sleep-deprivation causes depression, obesity, cardiovascular disease and other illnesses. It is estimated fatigue costs U.S. employers more than $136 billion a year in health-related lost productivity.

So, time to get some shut eye in the name of workplace safety and health!

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