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Guidance to Keep Your Workers Safe from Coronavirus

By now, you’re probably familiar with coronavirus, the global pandemic that’s causing towns, counties, states and even entire countries to issue “shelter in place” orders to prevent the spread of the disease. Coronavirus, or COVID-19, is a highly contagious virus that produces flu-like symptoms and can be deadly to the elderly or immunocompromised.

As business leaders, this requires reevaluating and restructuring everyday operations to keep employees safe.

How coronavirus spreads

Coronavirus is transmitted through the air, usually on droplets from coughing or sneezing. This illness is characterized by an upper respiratory infection, which can be deadly if you’re over age 65 or have underlying health issues. The most common symptoms include fever over 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit, a dry cough, and shortness of breath.

Symptoms may not appear until 2-14 days after contact, and it can be spread even if you don’t get sick. That’s why so many states are limiting contact between people and “social distancing” has become the nation’s new buzz phrase.

Health and safety guidelines to stop the spread of illness

If your business requires employees to be on-site to perform their job duties, it’s imperative that you take measures to ensure each person’s health and safety. Experts have offered the following tips:

  • • Promote good hygiene. Let your employees know that handwashing or sanitizing is a must, and provide sufficient breaks and facilities to keep up.
  • • Require sick employees to stay home. Since the virus spreads so easily, sick employees must stay home to avoid infecting other people—even if they don’t think they have coronavirus. They should not return to work until they’re fully recovered.
  • • Require traveling employees to stay home. Anyone who has traveled recently, whether for work or pleasure, is at increased risk of carrying the virus. It’s important that those employees stay home for two weeks in order to ensure they are not contagious.
  • • Promote social distancing. If you’re still working on-site, do your best to keep employees six feet or more from each other and customers whenever possible.

Other considerations

As the pandemic continues, savvy management will start making plans now to mitigate the financial burden on the business. Many companies, once resistant to allowing employees to work from home, are finding it’s the best way to keep their business alive. With today’s technology, it’s easier than ever to stay connected to your workforce, even if you can’t come face to face.

If you’re looking for great remote employees to get your business through the coronavirus pandemic, Award Staffing can connect you with candidates who have the skills to succeed. Reach out to us today to find out how we can help.

Safety Tips for Driving in Minnesota Winters

Driving is possibly the worst part of our winters in Minnesota. Whether it’s driving to work or driving on the job, chances are you’re dealing with icy roads and snow this winter.

Some of our job opportunities require driving, which adds another layer of safety to consider. If you have to drive for work, the last thing you want is to experience a winter driving disaster while on the job.

We want you to stay safe on the road this season, so we’ve put together some tips to help you perform your job well.

Check your vehicle regularly

Prevention is important to remaining safe on the road. Even if your company has someone managing the fleet, take a moment to inspect your truck before leaving. Remove all snow from the vehicle, especially the windshield, hood, roof, lights truck, and windows. Visually inspect the tires, lights and wiper blades. Always have at least a half of tank of gas to prevent freezing.

Be prepared for emergencies

Carry an emergency kit in your car so that you can be prepared for any situation, regardless of the season. Sample items to put in your kit include:

  • • Extra clothes and a blanket
  • • A flashlight and spare batteries
  • • Non-perishable food and water
  • • A First Aid kit
  • • A bag of sand or salt for ice
  • • A snow shovel and a windshield scraper
  • • Tire chains or traction mats
  • • Jumper cables

If you drive a company vehicle for work, check whether your employer provides these items. If not, create a bag with your essentials so that you’re prepared for every drive.

Go slowly

Sorry to sound like your mother, but we have to say it: slow down when there’s ice. Icy roads mean poor traction, so it’s harder to brake. Follow the speed limit, slow down on bridges and be cautious when turning. Leave enough room between you and other drivers so that you have more time to stop in an emergency. If you do need to stop suddenly, pump the brakes lightly to avoid locking your tires and losing control of your vehicle.

Watch for black ice

Black ice occurs when there is ice on the road in near-freezing temperatures. It looks like a puddle and can be difficult to spot. Since it’s hard to see from the driver’s seat, you have to rely on other clues to know if the roads may be icy. Look for ice on the back of your side-view mirrors, antenna or the top of your windshield. If the cars in front of you appear to be driving over water but no water sprays, it could be an ice path. Pay attention to trees and road signs; if they are icy but the road doesn’t appear to be, black ice may be present.

Taking extra precautions in winter isn’t fun, but your safety is what’s most important. If you’re tired of driving for your job or sick of your commute, it’s time for a change. Check out our job opportunities and let us help you find your future!

How to Stay Safe Working Outdoors This Winter

If your job requires you to spend time outside during the winter months, it’s important to make workplace safety your top priority. You’ll need to protect yourself from common winter hazards, including hypothermia, frostbite and dangerous slips. To keep yourself as safe, focused and comfortable as possible this winter, follow these simple tips.

Wear the right clothes

Layer up with warm shirts, pants, sweaters, and coats to protect yourself from cold temperatures. By wearing several layers you’ll not only stay warm but also be able to shed layers as needed to adjust to warmer temperatures throughout the day. Wear wool socks and thick gloves to keep your hands and feet warm and to promote circulation while you work.

 It’s much harder to stay warm if your clothing gets wet, so it’s important to avoid getting damp when you’re working. Wear waterproof outer layers, including rain jackets and snow boots, to keep yourself dry. If your clothes get wet, change them as soon as possible. Working in wet clothing when temperatures are below freezing greatly increases the risk of hypothermia.

Take breaks

Breaks are required for workers of all kinds, but they’re especially important for workers who spend a lot of time outside exposed to adverse weather conditions. Take plenty of breaks throughout the day, especially if you begin to feel cold, shaky or weak. Take your breaks in a comfortable, dry place and sip on a hot beverage to warm yourself up.

Rest is also essential when you’re working outdoors during the winter. Being tired while working outside increases the risk of falls and other accidents. Get plenty of sleep before your shift to ensure that you’re well-rested and alert while you’re working.

Don’t forget to eat

When you’re working hard, it’s easy to forget about taking food and water breaks. Make sure you stop working periodically to eat nutritious meals and drink water to keep yourself hydrated. Warm meals, like soups and hot sandwiches, can keep you feeling full and give you the energy you need to continue working in winter weather conditions.

Prepare for the worst

If you work remotely, on a site or spend a lot of time on the road, keep emergency supplies handy. Include flares, candles, matches, nonperishable food, bottled water and emergency blankets in your kit. These supplies can keep you safe until you are able to get help in the event of an emergency, like a vehicle breakdown or unexpected road closure. Even if you never actually have to use your emergency kit, it’s always better to overprepare than to be caught without the necessary supplies in case of an emergency.

You might not be able to avoid exposure to winter weather conditions, but you can certainly do a lot to keep yourself safe on the job. Whether you only spend a few minutes outside while you’re on the clock or you’re constantly working outdoors for your job, these tips can keep you safe and comfortable no matter what the forecast has in store.

Whether you’re looking to move indoors or are ready for a different outdoor job, Award Staffing can help. Browse our job opportunities to find your future.

How to be Safe When Using Lift Equipment

When associates are required to use mobile aerial work platforms, forklifts, or pallet jacks, it is essential to ensure they are operating them as safely as possible. This article will address the primary forms of lift equipment used by our associates and serves to remind us all of the importance of being aware of our surroundings to ensure that everyone remains safe and accident-free.

Lifts-

Lifts are designed to elevate personnel on a platform supported by scissors, masts or booms. Work platforms are essential when technicians must perform work for extended periods at elevations where a guarded, fixed work surface is not available. They offer flexible, versatile access to elevated locations and tend to be safer than ladders and other access equipment when working at higher elevations. But for these essential pieces of equipment to be as safe and efficient as possible, users must operate and maintain them according to regulations and manufacturer requirements.

Common safety violations leading to citations or accidents include:
• lack of fall protection
• tip-overs
• working near live power
• crushing and pinch-points
• objects falling from platforms
• unstable surfaces.

The leading causes of these problems include a lack of training, misuse of equipment, and not following manufacturer guidelines. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor’s fatality statistics, 75 percent of scissor lifts that tipped over resulted in fall deaths. In the remaining accidents, workers died from being struck by the falling scissor lift. About 40 percent of the tip-overs occurred when an operator extended the scissor lift higher than 15 feet, mostly while driving the unit. In 20 percent of the falls, the worker was ejected from the scissor lift, generally when the lift hit another object. Other fall deaths occurred after operators removed chains or guardrails or while users stood on or leaned over railings. (U.S. Bureau of Labor, 2015)

Forklift Safety-

Approximately 100 workers are killed each year as a result of forklift accidents. About 1/4 of these fatalities are caused by forklifts overturning. Other common causes are workers being struck by materials, workers being struck by the forklift, and workers falling from the forklift.

12 Forklift Safety Rules-
1. Only allow certified employees to operate forklifts
2. Maintain a safe following distance from other forklifts – about three vehicle lengths.
3. Follow speed limit and other regulations
4. Drive with load low – six or eight inches off the ground – and tilted slightly back
5. Exercise extra caution when driving over duckboards and bridge plates and make sure the load is within the forklift’s capacity as well
6. Raise and lower the load only when stopped
7. Stop and sound the horn at intersections
8. Avoid sharp turns.
9. Keep arms and legs inside the vehicle
10. Be sure to wear a hard hat and other protective equipment when necessary
11. Be sure the load is stable and secure
12. When leaving the forklift, lower the forks, neutralize the controls, shut it off and set the brakes (NCSU, 2015)

Pallet Jack Safety-

Often employers do not require certification for non-motorized pallet jacks because initially this equipment is not seen as a hazard, but they still can cause damage to employees and bystanders. Pallet jacks are used to make easy work out of what would usually be multiple person jobs lifting a load from point A to B eliminating the strain and energy while also saving time.

When operating a pallet jack (even for a short time span) workers should wear the correct safety equipment including steel capped boots, gloves, and safety eyewear (when transporting dangerous chemicals). There are also some safety precautions workers need to keep in mind when operating a pallet jack which includes:

• Never place feet under a machine
• Never exceed the advised capacity
• Use proper lifting techniques when loading/unloading and operating the pallet jack
• Move the load slowly to ensure safety in case surroundings change
• Always push the load (never pull the load)
• When going down on an incline, go in reverse
• Be wary of pinch points to avoid hand injuries
• Ensure the pallet jack is in excellent condition before use
• Use it correctly to ensure employee’s safety and the safety of the people in the surrounding area.
(U.S. Bureau of Labor, 2015)

Secure Work Areas-

Lift operators must be aware of activities taking place near their lift work areas. It is essential to keep the public, employees, and other building occupants away from these areas. They also should be careful when using lifts in public-traffic areas, especially where doorways might swing into the equipment, or nearby elevators might open. Isolating the immediate work area is essential to prevent anything from bumping into the lift, and to minimize worries about objects falling from the lift and hitting someone.

As the lift is elevating, the operator and employees on the ground should make sure appropriate clearance exists, so overhangs or other protrusions do not cross the path of the moving platform. This precaution will prevent injuries to workers and damage to building components. (OSHA, 2015)

In Conclusion-

Being mindful of the above information, ensuring that all associates receive the proper lift equipment training and re-training, and constantly reminding everyone to work safely, will help to reduce workplace incidents, control Workers’ Compensation costs, and ensure that our associates are as safe as possible.

Need some help? Contact Award Staffing. We will be able to match you up with interviews in your area so you can get the job opportunity you want. We have offices located in Bloomington, Chaska, Crystal, Delano, Maplewood, and Ramsey Minnesota to help you with your job search today!

How to Promote Safety with New Employees

When you’re running a company, safety should be of utmost importance in order to reduce injury and stay on top of risk. Many unsafe situations can be attributed to new employees not knowing policies or not knowing what these unsafe situations are. Here’s how you can promote safety with new employees:

Be Proactive

Don’t wait for an incident to occur to tell a new employee that they’re in the wrong or not following directions closely enough. Sometimes, consequences of doing so can be so disastrous that the post-incident instructions might not even be effective. Make sure to train your new employee as you’re going about your day in order to increase the likelihood that you can proactively cover different issues.

Reward Good Behavior

Good behavior often goes hand-in-hand with safety, so it’s a great idea to reward good behavior. You can do this, however, your company decides, but it is important to publicly recognize new employees for good behavior. When you do so, you are cementing the importance of safety for your entire company and setting the precedent for any new employees to come.

Review the Policies Regularly

Your company has safety policies that help keep everyone in line, appropriate, and ultimately safe. It’s your job to see that your new employee knows the policies and adheres to them whenever possible. If you do this, you will avoid a lot of unsafe situations as the new employee will be more aware of their possibilities.

Ask if There Are Questions

A lot of unsafe situations are created simply by new employees being confused. Make sure you check in with your new employee regularly to see if s/he has any questions. If they don’t understand a rule or policy, keep explaining it to them in different ways until they do. Different employees have different learning styles, so as long as you cater to them, you should be on the right path.

If you have reviewed these suggestions and think it’s time to hire a new employee, contact Award Staffing. We will help you find an employee who is well-suited for your company and also is a rule follower. Much of the confusion surrounding safety can be avoided at the hiring stage; we’d like to help you do that.

 

FINDING YOUR TALENT

Want to learn more about how Award Staffing can help your organization with your staffing and employment needs? Start by providing our team with a few pieces of information about yourself, and we will take care of the rest.

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The Secret to a Healthy Back at Work

Many factors in the workplace can cause back pain including heavy lifting, repetitive movements and sitting at a desk all day. It is essential to understand the facts about back pain at work to learn how to prevent it. Common causes of back pain at work are:

· Force- Exerting too much force on your back — such as by lifting or moving heavy objects — can cause injury.
· Repetition- Repeating certain movements, especially those that involve twisting or rotating your spine, can injure your back.
· Inactivity- Both an active job or a desk job can contribute to back pain, especially if you have poor posture or sit all day in a chair with inadequate back support.

Back pain and lifestyle factors-

Factors such as aging, being overweight, and poor physical condition also can contribute to back pain. It is essential to maintain a healthy weight to minimize stress on your back. To keep a healthy weight, it is necessary to eat a healthy diet. It is also vital to ensure that you consume enough calcium and vitamin D because these nutrients can help prevent osteoporosis, a condition that causes bones to become weak and brittle and is responsible for many of the bone fractures that lead to back pain.

It is crucial to combine aerobic exercise (swimming, walking, etc.) with exercises that strengthen and stretch your back muscles and abdomen. Exercises that increase your balance and strength can also decrease your risk of falling and injuring your back. (consider yoga and weight-bearing exercises). The Department of Health and Human Services recommends at least 150 minutes a week of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes a week of vigorous aerobic activity — preferably spread throughout the week — and strength training exercises at least twice a week.

Preventing back pain at work-

You can take steps to avoid and prevent back pain and injuries at work. For example:

Pay attention to posture:

When standing, balance your weight evenly on your feet. Don’t slouch. To promote good posture when sitting, choose a chair that supports your spinal curves. Adjust the height of your chair so that your feet rest flat on the floor or a footrest and your thighs are parallel to the floor. Remove your wallet or cell phone from your back pocket when sitting to prevent putting extra pressure on your buttocks or lower back.

Lift properly:

When lifting and carrying a heavy object, lift with your legs and tighten your core muscles. Hold the object close to your body. Maintain the natural curve of your back. Don’t twist when lifting. If an object is too heavy to lift safely, ask someone to help you.

Modify repetitive tasks:

Use lifting devices, when available, to help you lift loads. Try to alternate physically demanding tasks with less demanding ones. If you work at a computer, make sure that your monitor, keyboard, mouse, and chair are positioned correctly. If you frequently talk on the phone and type or write at the same time, place your phone on speaker or use a headset. Avoid unnecessary bending, twisting and reaching. Limit the time you spend carrying heavy briefcases, purses, and bags. Consider using a rolling suitcase.

Listen to your body:

If you must sit for a prolonged period, change your position often. Periodically walk around and gently stretch your muscles to relieve tension.

It is essential to examine your work environment and address situations that might aggravate your back. Even simple steps to ease or prevent back pain are steps in the right direction.

If you are looking for a short-term or long-term job, contact Award Staffing to help you with your job search. Our team of hiring professional located in Bloomington, Chaska, Crystal, Delano, Maplewood, and Ramsey Minnesota to help you with your job search today! We will be able to match you up with interviews in your area so you can get the job opportunity you want.

Slips, Trips, and Falls Safety at Work

Slips, trips, and falls are responsible for many general industry accidents.  They cause 15% of all accidental deaths and are second only to motor vehicles as a cause of fatalities. 65% of fall-related injuries occur as a result of falls from same-level walking surfaces.

Conditions that create slip, trip, and fall hazards include:

• Dry product spills such as dusts, powders, granules and small metal parts
• Highly polished or freshly waxed floors
• Uneven or sloped surfaces
• Transitions from one surface to another (e.g., outdoors to indoors, carpet to vinyl, grid to concrete)
• Unanchored rugs or mats, loose floorboards or steps, missing tiles
• Gravel, grass, leaves, pine needles and other slippery natural materials
• Incorrect use of personal protective gear and fall prevention equipment
• Poor housekeeping such as clutter, obstacles in work areas, open cabinets and desk drawers
• Inadequate or no cautionary signage
• Dim lighting, glare, shadows or misty conditions
• Individual physical factors such as poor eyesight or depth perception; fatigue, dizziness, stress or illness; medication, alcohol and drug effects
• Behavioral factors such as talking on cell phones or eating while walking; hurrying and not paying attention to surroundings; carrying or moving cumbersome or tall objects; taking unsafe shortcuts; being off balance when mounting/dismounting vehicles, equipment, ladders or scaffolding; wearing inappropriate footwear for the conditions or wet, muddy or greasy shoes

 

Precautions and Prevention:

• Practicing good housekeeping
• Keeping floor surfaces clean and dry
• Providing adequate drainage in wet floor locations
• Ensuring wet floor warning signs are posted in and around wet floor locations
• Maintaining clear aisles and passageways
• Ensuring walkway surfaces are in good repair
• Keeping cords and hoses out of the way
• Reporting and cleaning up spills immediately
• Providing non-slip coatings or anti-skid surfaces
• Minimizing matting trip hazards
• Providing adequate lighting in all areas
• Eliminating uneven floor surfaces
• Setting standards for type(s) of footwear to be worn
Training the workforce to take shorter, more vertical steps in tricky spots and to step over obstacles at an angle
• Establishing an “eyes on the path” and no running rule
• Be observant.
• Placement of warning signs or caution tape and cleaning up spills

 

When walking, employees should:

• Wear non-slip shoes or work boots
• Proceed at a reasonable pace and avoid distractions
• Use handrails when going up or down stairs and not skip steps
• Use a flashlight in dimly lit or dark areas
• Use extra caution when walking from one surface to another or when the walking surface is uneven, wet or icy
• Hold small loads close to their body and not carry anything that is too large or bulky to see over or around

 

Good housekeeping practices include:

• Stowing or covering electrical cords, cables, hoses and other trip hazards
• Repairing damaged ladders or steps and uneven walking surfaces
• Ensuring floors are clean, dry and not too slippery
• Closing all drawers and doors that protrude into walkways and aisles
• Installing skid-resistant materials on ramps and other sloped surfaces
• Cleaning up spills following strategic placement of caution signs
• Using moisture-absorbent, slide-proof floor mats, especially at entrances/exits
• Installing adequate lighting in walkways, staircases, ramps, hallways and other work areas

Also review other workplace safety topics here or if you’re looking to hire new employees but don’t know where to start, contact Award Staffing. We will be able to help you find the right employees for your unique business needs.

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