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Safety Focus

Vol. 10, Issue 1 - Summer 2017

Safety Focus

Vol. 10, Issue 1 - Summer 2017

Heat illness – What you need to know

By: Mike Huss, Loss Control Supervisor

Per Cal/OSHA, heat stroke, the most serious health problem for workers in hot environments, is caused by the failure of the body’s internal mechanism to regulate its core temperature. Sweating stops and the body can no longer rid itself of excess heat.  Victims of heat stroke will die unless treated promptly.  Signs include:

  • Mental confusion, delirium, loss of consciousness, convulsions or coma;
  • A body temperature of 106 degrees Fahrenheit or higher; and
  • Hot, dry skin which may be red, mottled, or bluish.

Heat exhaustion results from loss of fluid through sweating when a worker has failed to drink enough fluids or take in enough salt, or both. The worker with heat exhaustion still sweats, but experiences extreme weakness or fatigue, giddiness, nausea, or headache. Heat cramps, painful spasms of the muscles, are caused when workers drink large quantities of water but fail to replace their bodies’ salt loss. Tired muscles are usually the ones most susceptible to cramps.  Fainting (heat syncope) may be a problem when a worker who is not acclimated to a hot environment simply stands still in the heat.  Heat rash, also known as prickly heat, may occur in hot, humid environments where sweat is not easily removed from the surface of the skin by evaporation.


Take these four steps to prevent heat illness:

  1. Training - Train all employees and supervisors about heat illness prevention. Fainted person form heat
  2. Water - Provide enough fresh water so that each employee can drink at least 1 quart per hour, and encourage them to do so.
  3. Shade - Provide access to shade for at least 5 minutes of rest when an employee believes he/she needs a preventative recovery period. They should not wait until they feel sick to do so.
  4. Planning - Develop and implement written procedures for complying with the heat illness prevention standard.

For more information, please review OSHA’s Occupational Heat Exposure document.


Windstorm damage and protection

By: Mike Huss, Loss Control Supervisor

High velocity winds can damage your business property, including your vehicles, in a matter of minutes. After all, it's impossible to predict the timing, strength and potential damage of any storm.  A few preventive measures, along with windstorm insurance, can help lower the risk of damage to your property and save you money in repairs and lost productivity. 

Roof protection - to ensure your building's roof is protected against wind damage, have it inspected for the following:

  • Roof sheathing and shingles are secured and meet or exceed local building codes. 
  • The connection between the roof and walls is tight
  • HVAC units, skylights and protruding pipes are securely affixed 

Protection for exterior walls and doors - to ensure your building's exterior is protected from wind damage, check the following:

  • The building is well sealed to prevent wind from entering cracks and crevices
  • Siding and windows are secured
  • Entry doors are triple-hinged and secured with a deadbolt lock
  • Overhead doors are braced sufficiently

Protection for outdoor areas - to ensure the grounds around your property are protected from wind damage, check the following:

  • Storage sheds and outbuildings are securely anchored
  • Equipment, inventory and supplies stored outside are anchored or can be easily moved inside
  • Dumpsters, outdoor lighting fixtures and fencing are secured
  • Large shrubs and trees close to your building are healthy and pruned
  • Outdoor signage is anchored and secure, and designed to withstand the weather in your region (check with your agent to see if your sign is included)
  • Your commercial property insurance covers any damage to your building or other business property caused by a windstorm 

Protection for vehicles and fleets - to ensure company vehicles are protected from wind damage, do the following:Car destroyed by a fallen tree blown over by heavy winds

  • If possible, store vehicles inside a garage or storage building
  • Never park vehicles under a tree during an approaching storm
  • If you must park vehicles outdoors, be aware of branches, lampposts and power lines
  • If a windstorm approaches, consider relocating fleet vehicles


Hail damage and protection

By: Mike Huss, Loss Control Supervisor

Most areas of the country experience hail storms that can cause significant damage to rooftop equipment, severely disrupting your business and costing you time, money or even customers.  A major hail storm can severely damage fins on your heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) equipment, rendering it inoperable. This could seriously impact your operations or cause you to cancel functions.

Hail guards - consider installing hail guards that serve as a protective shield for your HVAC equipment, as well as roof vents and cooling equipment.  Hail large and small can severely damage a unit. Condenser coil damage, not noticed or addressed, affects the coil’s efficiency, increases your costs and shortens the useful life expectancy of your equipment.  Contact a HVAC contractor or equipment manufacturer for more solutions to protect your valuable equipment and keep your business operating.


Lightning damage and protection

By: Mike Huss, Loss Control Supervisor

Lightning damage is a costly and frequent occurrence. According to Underwriters Laboratories, Inc. (UL), lightning accounts for more than $1 billion in structural damage in the U.S. each year.  Loss of computer equipment or data in business networks due to lightning damage is also common.  Lightning can strike anywhere, but the damage it does is manageable or preventable in most cases because it is usually caused by nearby lightning activity that creates surges in wiring.  If electronics take a direct bolt of lightning there is little you can do to prevent damage, but direct strikes are thankfully not common.

Lightning protection and how it works - a lightning protection system is designed to prevent physical damage to people and buildings, and to protect against internal system equipment failure. All protective systems are based on the fundamental principle of providing a low-resistance path for a lightning current to follow as it passes from roof level to underground.  There are five basic elements that need to be in place to provide an effective protection system:  1) strike termination devices, 2) cable conductors, 3) a grounding electrode system, 4) bonding, and 5) surge protection devices.

Contact a certified electrical contractor to evaluate your electrical wiring and grounding components.  If you have two-prong outlets in your walls, you are not receiving the benefits of electrical grounding. It may be worthwhile to have new outlets/wiring for your computers and entertainment equipment. Excellent grounding in your building wiring means lightning travels to the ground wiring instead of damaging your equipment.


Safety news

By: Kim Coonrod, Director, Loss Control


OSHA revises app to help workers avoid heat illness

Washington – As hot weather approaches, OSHA is placing potentially lifesaving information at outdoor workers' fingertips.  The agency has updated its Heat Safety Tool phone application, which is available for download on iOS and Android devices in English and Spanish. Workers can use the app to calculate the heat index at their worksite and determine heat illness risk levels.


The app includes information for workers to monitor themselves and others for heat illness signs and symptoms. OSHA said it updated the app for iPhones to include full-screen color alerts for all heat conditions, as well as other technical upgrades.  OSHA administrator David Michaels said heat sickens thousands of workers every year and could be deadly unless proper actions are taken.  "Anyone who works outside in hot weather is at risk," Michaels said in a video about OSHA's heat illness prevention campaign. "That includes construction workers, roofers, landscapers, farm workers, road crew workers, baggage handlers and others."  Michaels said employers need to ensure workers are provided ample drinking water, allow frequent breaks in shaded areas and schedule arduous tasks earlier in the day.


OSHA issues fact sheets on agricultural safety

Washington – OSHA has released new fact sheets for workers in the agriculture and maritime industries.


The agricultural fact sheet, which focuses on tractor hazards, states that the majority of farmworker injuries and deaths are the result of tractor incidents such as overturns and unintended contact with tractor attachments or implements. General tips from the fact sheet include:

  • Make sure workers are acquainted with farm machinery.
  • Review proper operating procedures. Safety stickers should be in good condition.
  • Make sure operators know about ditches, uneven ground and nearby bystanders.
  • Do not allow children to be around tractors.
  • Use adequate ventilation when operating a tractor indoors.
  • Avoid operating a tractor on highways during busy times or poor visibility.

The resource also covers the benefits of rollover protective structures, safety belt requirements, power take-off shafts, training and emergency planning.


New NIOSH web page addresses aerial lift injuries

Aerial lifts—powered and mobile platforms used for raising workers to various heights—are popular at construction, warehousing, and many other job sites. Learn about the fall-related risks and recommended safe work practices associated with this equipment by visiting the new NIOSH Aerial Lifts web page. While you’re there, test our Hazard Recognition Simulator, which is designed to help you acclimate to an aerial lift operation.


OSHA issues final rule for silica dust exposure

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has issued a final rule on silica dust exposure. The goal of the new rule is to curb lung cancer, silicosis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and kidney disease in America's workers by limiting their exposure to respirable crystalline silica. The rule is comprised of two standards, one for Construction and one for General Industry and Maritime.

Both standards contained in the final rule take effect on June 23, 2016, after which industries have one to five years to comply with most requirements, based on the following schedule:Respirator

  • Construction - June 23, 2017, one year after the effective date.
  • General Industry and Maritime - June 23, 2018, two years after the effective date.





Lessons from losses

By: Courtney Rosengartner, Sr. Loss Control Specialist


A nursery worker was seriously injured when he was cutting down a tree and it fell on his lower leg. He was admitted into the hospital due to the extent of his fracture. He spent several months on crutches with a cast above the knee. Often, individuals with complicated fractures employed in physical labor jobs need up to six months for complete healing.  Due to this employer’s inability to provide light duty labor, he remained off work for over one year.


Tree trimming is especially hazardous, particularly when you are performing tree removal.  There are several items to keep in mind when performing these tasks, some of which include the following; assume power lines are energized when working within 10 feet of one. You will need to contact the utility company to discuss de-energizing and grounding or shielding of power lines.  Always perform a hazard assessment of the work area before starting work. Operators of equipment, such as chain saws, should be trained and the equipment properly maintained. Always use personal protective equipment (PPE). This includes gloves, safety glasses, hard hats and hearing protection. Always use a second worker within normal voice range. Determine the tree’s felling direction. Remember; never climb with tools in your hands and never turn your back on a falling tree. Furthermore, be sure to anticipate any objects being thrown back as the tree falls. For more safety tips, review OSHA’s website and the below OSHA handouts.


Tree Trimming & Removal - OSHA Quick Card

OSHA Tree Trimming Activity Sheet


Insurance products and services are offered through Markel Specialty Commercial, a business division of Markel Service Incorporated, policies written by one or more Markel insurance companies. Terms and conditions for coverage may vary by state.

The information provided in this article is intended for general informational purposes only and should not be considered as all encompassing, or suitable for all situations, conditions, and environments. Please contact us or your attorney if you have any questions.