Ergonomics: Important to your Work Day & Every day!

According to the US Department of Labor, musculoskeletal disorders or MSDs account for about one-third of all injury and illness costs of U.S. businesses. MSDs are health issues that affect our movement or musculoskeletal system (i.e. muscles, tendons, ligaments, nerves, discs, blood vessels, etc.) In recent years, research has focused on establishing the links between physical activity and health, largely overlooking the important distinction between sitting and physical activity. The opportunities for long term sitting in modern times, such as sitting in a car or sitting at a desk, are unavoidable. Statistics prove the average adult spends 50–70% of their day in seated positions.
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Here are some valuable tips to incorporate ergonomics into your workday:

  • Make sure that the weight of your arms is supported at all times. If your arms are not supported, the muscles of your neck and shoulders will suffer
  • Manage your head position by keeping the weight of your head directly above its base of support (neck). Don’t “crane” your head and neck forward.
  • Slouching puts more pressure on the discs and vertebrae of your back. Use the lumbar support of your chair and use good posture while seated to balance your body weight evenly. Move your chair as close to your work as possible to avoid leaning and reaching.
  • Your computer monitor should be placed directly in front of you, with the top edge of the screen at your eye level. The keyboard should be directly in front of the monitor so you don’t have to frequently turn your head and neck. Because lap top computers do not allow to arrange the keyboard and monitor this way, try to avoid using a lap top for an extended period. Also, be sure to rest your eyes periodically for several seconds by looking away from computer screens to view objects at a distance.
  • Do not crunch a phone between your neck and shoulder! Try to use a headset or speaker phone if need your hands free for other activities while on a call. Repeating the abnormal position of tilting your head toward your should can do permanent damage to your neck as well as creating other uncomfortable issues.
  • Your feet should not be dangling when you are seated. If your feet don’t comfortably reach the floor or there is pressure on the backs of your legs, use a footrest or lower your chair.
  • Stay hydrated and active throughout the day by drinking the daily allowance for your weight in water and taking breaks form long term sitting (and repetitive activities) by doing some ergonomic stretching activities.getty_rf_photo_of_office_workers_doing_stretches_at_night.jpgRemember to stay healthy outside of the office as well by staying active on your time off with continued stretching activities, staying hydrated and enjoying your free time.  Apply more ergonomic tips to your household chores and other activities to keep your body fit!

 

🎁 This Father’s Day, Give the Gift of Safety ⛑

Preparedness items make ideal gifts by providing peace of mind knowing that your loved ones are ready for an emergency, such as losing power, breaking down in an automobile, or needing supplies and tools when time is of the essence. In addition, preparedness gifts serve as a reminder to make preparedness a priority.

OUR TOP 8 SAFETY AND EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS GIFT IDEAS 

Roadside Assistance Kits

roadside-assistance-kitJust like your Dad taught you, breakdowns can happen anytime, anywhere. In addition to having the necessary equipment handy to change a flat tire, there are some other items you should always have on hand. But sometimes our greatest teachers forget to prepare themselves.  Is your father prepared for emergencies in his vehicle? Here are our top picks: AAA, Survival Supply,  and Global Industries

Hand-Crank Cell Phone Chargers 

CellChargerThere’s not much worse than being in serious situation with a dead cell phone. Keep your Dad safe with one of these options: American Red Cross, Eton, Or K-Tor. You’ll be worry free knowing your father can reach out to you or to emergency service providers without the concern of a dead cell phone. 

Hand-Crank Radios

RadioPerfect in the case of an outage! Your father can stay aware in inclement weather conditions or during serious issues with a hand-crank radio that requires no power but offers the same capabilities of the average transistor radio.  We think both Sangean and Eton make great and affordable models.

Gas or Solar Powered Portable Generators

PowerLiving in Southern California means we all face power outages during the hottest summer months.  Unbearable heat is a health hazard! Also, for many, the food in the refrigerator is no picnic to replace.  Having a gas or solar powered generator to keep electricity functioning during an outage can be a major asset during such times. Try one of these options: Gas – Sportsman, Power Pro, or Solar –  WEIYI, and Suaoki.

Flashlights 

flashlight-beamHere’s another item your father likely taught you to have on hand, but has he kept up with the latest updates to this common household item?  There are a variety of flashlights available today with a variety of features from waterproof, to solar, to hand-crank powered. Here are our favorites: Dynamo, American Red Cross, and Logix.

Computer Protection Programs

virusHelp Dad keep his computer healthy too! Anti-virus software, sometimes known as anti-malware software, is computer software used to prevent, detect and remove malicious software. Learn what the best programs available are here!

Identity Theft Protection Services

Identity-TheftIdentity theft occurs when someone uses one’s personal identifying information, without authorization, in order to perpetrate fraud or other offenses, such as obtaining loans, services or credit. To reduce that risk for your father, Identity Theft Protection Services are available. Learn what the best services available are here!

Medical Alert System

IMAG016If your father is elderly or lives alone, this really is a necessity!  Depending on your dad’s needs or capabilities, you will need to choose the best system suited for him.  Here is a comprehensive guide of what to look for when shopping Medical Alert Systems.


Make your dad proud and happy this Father’s Day by showing him that all his good advice about preparedness really did matter, and how much his safety means to you too! As the old saying goes, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”. These great gifts may not prevent incidents from happening, but they do prevent the stress of facing such circumstances unprepared.  

 

⚠️⛑⚒ WORKPLACE SAFETY: Tips for Employees, Managers, & Owners


Recent statistics by OSHA report that 4690 workers were killed on the job in 2010 alone!
18% of those deaths occurred in the construction trades, with OSHA predicting that 437 of the 774 deaths in construction that year could have been prevented by keeping workplace safety tips in mind on the job.

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No Matter What Industry You Work In, Applying Safety Tips Can Prevent Accidents:

  1. Always follow the correct procedures.
  2. Never take shortcuts.
  3. Take responsibility and clean up if you made a mess.
  4. Clean and organize your workspace.
  5. Ensure a clear and easy route to emergency exits and equipment.
  6. Be alert and awake on the job.
  7. Be attentive at all times to your work surroundings.
  8. When in doubt, contact your supervisor or manager for instruction, guidance, or training.
  9. Never take risks when it comes to safety.
  10. Obey safety signs, stickers, and tags.
  11. Take short breaks when you keep up a repetitive motion for a long period of time, and sit, stand, or walk with good posture.
  12. Report serious injuries immediately to a supervisor and get emergency assistance.
  13. Keep things in perspective. Hazards may be limitless, so focus on the most likely risks first.
  14. Keep Correct Posture To Protect Your Back: If you work at a desk, keep your shoulders in line with your hips to avoid back problems. If you’re picking things up, use correct form so your back doesn’t get hurt. Avoid stooping and twisting. If possible, always use ergonomic designed furniture and safety equipment so everything you need is within easy reach.
  15. Use Tools And Machines Properly: Take the proper precautions when using tools, and never take shortcuts. Taking shortcuts is one of the leading cause of workplace injury. It’s a huge safety risk to use scaffolding as a ladder or one tool in place of another for a specific job. Using tools the right way greatly reduces the chance of workplace injury.
  16. Keep Emergency Exits Easily Accessible: In case of an emergency, you’ll need quick, easy access to the exits. It’s also recommended to keep clear access to equipment shutoffs in case you need to quickly stop them from functioning.

Teamwork

Remember: Teamwork Matters

Always keep the communication lines open with your co-workers, employers, or employees in order to promote and maintain a safe environment.

  1. Immediately notify others of any (new or old) hazards that you perceive.
  2. Be alert to hazards that could affect anyone— not just yourself; in this respect, maintain a team mentality at all times.
  3. Report a hazardous condition immediately to your manager, supervisor, or owner.
  4. Be conscious as to what others are doing around you, and do your best to ensure you don’t pose a hazard to them (and vice versa).

Tips for Managers & Employers

If you’re an employer, invite and involve your employees in safety planning; obtain their insight, give and take suggestions, and ensure that everyone is on the same page. 

It’s up to facility managers and business owners to get their employees onboard with workplace safety efforts, encouraging them to become active members in the process. Share with them the workplace injury statistics and the inherent risks their job presents to them on a daily basis. Provide incentives that reward them for exemplifying great workplace safety behavior. These simple initiatives really do make all of the difference.

For more information about workplace safety for employees and employers, please visit the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

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April is Child Abuse Prevention Month, Please Don’t Look Away!👊🚫

Did you know that April is Child Abuse Prevention month? It’s a topic that many of us do not like to address because it’s very harsh reality to accept. But, unfortunately, it is a reality that affects an average of six million children annually. That’s a staggering number!

The brain develops in response to experiences with caregivers, family and the community quickly during the early developmental stages of infancy and childhood. Development is directly linked to the quality and quantity of those experiences. Repeated exposure to stressful or abusive events as well as neglect can affect the brain’s stress response and over time a child may react as if danger is always present in their environment regardless of actual circumstances.

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Awareness of the signs of child abuse is your first step in saving a child.

Here are some key signs to look for:

BEHAVIORAL SIGNS:

  • Failure to thrive socially or academically
  • Learning and/or Speech disorders
  • Delayed physical, emotional or intellectual development
  • Discomfort with physical contact or difficulty connecting with others
  • Lags in physical, emotional or intellectual development
  • Behavior extremes, such as appearing overly compliant and passive or very demanding and aggressive.
  • Increased fear or avoidance of a specific person and/or situation
  • Difficulty expressing thoughts and feelings
  • Changes in eating and sleeping patterns
  • Bedwetting
  • Anxiety and/or excessive worrying
  • Low self-esteem
  • Uncharacteristic obedience or perfectionism
  • Strong feelings of shame or guilt
  • Programmed statements or behaviors
  • Knowledge of or interest in sexual behaviors that are not age appropriate

PHYSICAL SIGNS:

  • Bruises, welts or swelling
  • Sprains or fractures
  • Burns
  • Lacerations or abrasions
  • Frequent physical complaints, such as stomachaches and headaches
  • Fatigue
  • Difficulty in walking or sitting
  • Torn, stained or bloody clothing
  • Pain or itching in the genital area; bruises or bleeding in the external genital area
  • Sexually transmitted infections or diseasesTheir-lifes-stop-child-abuse-28564802-599-775.jpg

Research has found that children exposed to any form of abuse, if left unaddressed or ignored, are at an increased risk for emotional and behavioral problems throughout their life and into adulthood.

Depending on your role in the child’s life, you may or not be privy to prevention but turning a blind eye to the signs of child abuse is never the path to choose. Identifying the signs may be an uncomfortable position to be depending on your relationship with the child, but you can protect your position by being anonymous. There are many sources that can help you help a child, such as Child Help’s national hotline 1-800-4-A-CHILD (1-800-422-4453) or you can do an internet search for sources in your area.

We encourage you to visit the Center for Disease Control and Prevention to learn more.

☠⚠️ Toxic Cleaning Supplies: What to Avoid to Stay Safe ⚠️☠

We assume they are safe. But in fact, many popular household cleaners are dangerously toxic. Let’s learn about the scariest substances hiding under your kitchen sink…

Manufacturers argue that in small amounts these toxic ingredients aren’t likely to be a problem, but when we’re exposed to them routinely, and in combinations that haven’t been studied, it’s impossible to accurately gauge the risks. While a few products cause immediate reactions from acute exposure (headaches from fumes, skin burns from accidental contact), different problems arise with repeated contact. Chronic exposure adds to the body’s “toxic burden” — the number of chemicals stored in its tissues at a given time.

The average household contains about 62 toxic chemicals, say environmental experts. We’re exposed to them routinely — from the phthalates in synthetic fragrances to the noxious fumes in oven cleaners. Ingredients in common household products have been linked to asthma, cancer, reproductive disorders, hormone disruption and neurotoxicity

No one can avoid exposure to toxic chemicals altogether, but it is possible to reduce it significantly. 

Know Your Hazards:

Chlorine bleach is commonly used to treat drinking water, sanitize swimming pools and to whiten laundry, and is a strong eye, skin, and respiratory irritant. Mixing chlorine bleach with other cleaners like ammonia can release dangerous chlorine gas. Exposure to chlorine gas can cause coughing, shortness of breath, chest pain, nausea, or other symptoms.

Ammonia is often included in glass cleaners and other hard-surface cleaners, and can be irritating to the skin, eyes, throat, and lungs. Ammonia can burn your skin, and can damage your eyes (including blindness) upon contact.

Triclosan and Triclocarban are commonly added to household cleaning products such as hand soap and dish soap as well as a broad range of other products from toothpaste to socks. These chemicals are persistent in the environment, and are linked to hormone imbalance, and potential increased risk of breast cancer.

Ammonium quaternary compounds (“quats”) are found in household cleaning products like disinfectant sprays and toilet cleaners, and some have been identified as a known inducer of occupational asthma. Certain quats have also been linked to decreased fertility and birth defects in mice.

Nano-silver can be incorporated into textiles, plastics, soaps, packaging, and other materials, giving each the natural antibacterial property of silver metal. Nano-silver particles can penetrate deep into your body and have been shown to be toxic to the liver and brain.

OK, maybe you don’t have straight ammonia or bleach sitting under your kitchen cabinet, but what about all the other cleaners that you have at home? Many of them contain the ingredients listed above…ALWAYS BE SURE TO CHECK THE LABELS.

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For more info on toxic household cleaners please visit: the Organic Consumers Association or the EWG.

 

 

Skirting a Stalker – Do’s & Don’ts

Stalking is used with some differing definitions in psychiatry and psychology, as well as legal terminology in the act of a criminal offense.  Stalking is unwanted or obsessive attention sometimes leading to threatening or dangerous situations as well as discomfort for the victim.  Unlike other crimes which usually involve one act, stalking is a series of actions that occur over a period usually consisting of an accumulation of actions which in themselves can be legal, such as phone calls, sending gifts, or sending emails, showing up in public places at the same time as the victim and the like. 

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While most people view stalking as a problem only celebrities encounter, it is actually more common among civilians who have a jilted ex-partner, an envious co-worker or ex-friend, and sometimes even strangers who seem to grow an unhealthy interest in their victim (perhaps a customer at the victim’s place of employment, the ex of someone the victim is newly connected with or even someone they discovered on social media and became obsessed with).

In modern times, stalking has become more prominent due to social media and political conceptions. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, group stalking is becoming more commonplace.  Group stalking is when 3 or more people driven by the same feelings unite with a goal of harassing their victim.  Cyber stalking has turned into a household word and, due it the simplicity of cyber stalking, it has also grown to be the most common type of stalking today.

Here are some Do’s & Don’ts if you feel you are being stalked:

  • Don’t call, write to, speak or respond to your stalker in person if you can avoid it. Stalkers often feel as though they are in a relationship with their victims and any contact the victim makes with them is perceived as validation of their relationship (which is nonexistent). Remember, even being overtly rude or yelling at your stalker can be misconstrued as communication of affection or interest.
  • Do hide your personal information. If a stalker does not have personal information about you they can retrieve it by searching on the internet, listening to your conversations, or picking up items you discard in public places.  If possible, provide a secondary phone contact number whenever able and use a P.O. Box for your address.
  • Don’t rely on arming yourself as a deterrent.  Without proper training, you or a loved one could get hurt.  Also, should you physically harm or kill a stalker, you could be held criminally liable resulting in life altering penalties.  It is always best to know self defense techniques, but when using weapons (such as guns) it becomes a slippery slope where, as a victim, you could become a offender.
  • Do inform others about your issue. Although many stalking victims are reluctant to tell others what they are going through, it is important that those around you know what is happening. This includes family, friends, co-habitants, work colleagues and even neighbors. Sharing helps reduce the possibility of others unintentionally providing info to the stalker that could provide access to you, makes them aware of any significant things they observe and helps you with evidence and witnesses should you have to bring your stalker to court.
  • Don’t ignore red flags or your instincts.  Often times we think a stalker will give up and go away or that we will not be taken seriously if we tell others we feel suspicious about someone.  Depending on the level of threat a stalking incident is, do not let even the mildest incidents extend beyond 3 occurrences without noting details, saving any evidence and beginning to inform others you may have a problem on your hands.
  • Do collect all forms of evidence. Try to journal all incidents, organize copies of any correspondence and save any recorded messages, and photograph any evidence or incidents whenever you are able to do so safely.  If an item is delivered to you, contact the delivery service to determine who placed the order, when, and how it was paid for (cash or credit card) and try to obtain a description of the person who placed the order. Handle all items received from your stalker carefully to avoid smudging fingerprints (for instance; hold items by the corners using tweezers. Keep the item in separate plastic bag.
  • Don’t leave a hidden key outside or avoid changing locks if your stalker once had access to your residence.  This should be obvious, but often times we forget these safety measures in the daily shuffle and more especially when we are already stressed.  It’s always wise to change your locks after a roommate (of any nature) moves out.
  • Do make your home as safe and secure as possible. A monitored security alarm system is always best, but not always affordable.  If you can’t afford to purchase such a system, there are also alarms that do not report to a monitoring company but still make startling alert sounds that can deter offenders.  Other smart ways to secure your home are listed in our Tips for Protecting your Home as well as our Burglar Prevention Blog.

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Remember your local police  are there to protect and serve YOU! You can drop by a police station and discuss your issues or seek advice, but in busier cities it is not always as easy to do.  If you feel you need advice or assistance from the police or even just want to put a statement on record, consider calling to schedule an appointment to meet with an officer to do so.  If you’ve reached a place where a restraining order is your best option, you can approach it the same way as you would seek advice from the police but it is important that you remember the following; often times restraining orders infuriate stalkers and conditions worsen before they improve, a restraining order does not replace any of the aforementioned safety measures and any failure to strictly enforce a restraining order may send a message to the stalker that the victim is not being protected.  If you decide police intervention is best, be sure to provide them any evidence you have collected.

When stalking behaviors persist for more than a few days, there is a serious probability that they will continue indefinitely and it is a good idea to learn how to manage the situation. To learn more about the risks of being stalked, check out these websites and articles: stalkingriskprofile.com, How to Deal with a Stalker and Safety Tips for Stalking Victims.

Understanding Mudslides & Staying Safe

Mudslides are a fast-moving landslides caused by disturbances in the natural stability of a slope. They can happen after heavy rains, droughts and earthquakes.

With the most powerful storm of the season thrashing the Los Angeles area over the next few days, people are fearing dangerous conditions, property damage and for their safety.

Following a five year drought, Californians are now facing challenges with severe storms plaguing the state. It will take years for the state’s overburdened groundwater reserves to recharge but the surface is another issue. California’s blessing and curse right now is the torrential recurring downpours. Atmospheric rivers are picking up moisture over the Pacific Ocean and carrying it north, dumping copious amounts along the way. Usually, in a good year, there’s one atmospheric river. This year, they are coming back to back to back. Though the recent rains have caused serious problems throughout Northern California, the threat grows for Southern California as well. 

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Mudslides generally develop when water rapidly accumulates in the ground resulting in a surge of water-saturated rock, earth, and debris. Mudflows occur most in mountainous places where a long dry season is followed by heavy rains.

On steep hillsides, debris flows begin as shallow landslides that liquefy and accelerate. A typical landslide travels at 10 miler per hour, but can exceed 35 miles per hour. Slides can occur in all 50 states, but regions like the Appalachian Mountains, the Rocky Mountains and the Pacific Coastal Ranges have “severe landslide problems,” according to the USGS. The agency lists California, Oregon, Washington, Alaska and Hawaii as especially prone.

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What areas are at risk?

  • Areas where wildfires or construction have destroyed vegetation.
  • Areas where landslides have occurred before.
  • Steep slopes and areas at the bottom of slopes or canyons.
  • Slopes that have been altered for construction of buildings and roads.
  • Channels along a stream or river.
  • Areas where surface runoff is directed.

How to prepare:

  • Develop emergency and evacuation plans for your family and business.
  • If you live in an area vulnerable to landslides, consider evacuation. Contact local authorities about emergency and evacuation plans.
  • Have a fully stocked first aid kit, alternative lighting (avoid flammable lighting such as candles or lanterns), a portable radio with extra batteries, and a strong food and water supply if you intend to stay in a dangerous area.
  • Be sure family, friends and co-workers are aware of your intent to stay and your exact location in advance of threatening weather (in the event you are in danger and unable to contact anyone later).
  • Listen to the radio or watch TV for warnings about intense rainfall or for information and instructions from local officials.

What to do during intense storms:

  • Continue to following reports on the radio or TV for updates or for information and instructions from local officials.
  • Be aware of any sudden increase or decrease in water level on a stream or creek that might indicate debris flow upstream. A trickle of flowing mud may precede a larger flow.
  • Look for tilted trees, telephone poles, fences or walls, and for new holes or bare spots on hillsides.
  • Listen for rumbling sounds that might indicate an approaching landslide or mudslide.
  • Be alert when driving. Roads may become blocked or closed due to collapsed pavement or debris.
  • If you see a landslide or mudslide starting, quickly move away from the path of the slide. Getting out of the path of a mudslide is your best protection. Move to the nearest high ground in a direction away from the path. If rocks and debris are approaching, run for the nearest shelter and take cover under a desk, table or other piece of sturdy furniture. (We recommend the same actions as if you were in an earthquake as described in our Earthquake Safety Blog.)

What should you do following a landslide:

  • Stay away from the site. (Flooding or additional slides may occur after a landslide or mudslide.)
  • Continue to listen to the radio or TV for emergency information.
  • Report broken utility lines to the appropriate authorities.
  • Consult a geotechnical expert for advice on reducing additional landslide problems and risks. Local authorities should be able to tell you how to contact a geotechnical expert.
  • Again, we recommend you use the same precautions following a landslide that you would after an earthquake.

IF YOUR HOME OR BUSINESS WAS IN OR NEAR A LANDSLIDE

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  • Please remember that even if the structure may appear safe but shifted, it is NOT safe.
  • Have a professional contractor or engineer inspect the structure for; electrical system damage, damage to gas lines or leaking gas and damage to water or sewer lines.
  • Remember, even if your structure is not visibly damaged but their was a landslide in the immediate area, there are still concerns such as contaminated water or a weakened foundation.

With the threat of mudslides growing during these unusually heavy and repetitious downpours, we hope that you can stay safe.  Please also remember, when driving in severe rain storms to practice safe driving procedures for inclement weather.