Work Safe Kentucky: The KEMI Safety Blog
While some telecommuters were already comfortable working from home before the threat of COVID-19 hit, others had to adapt quickly to a home office setting without much thought being given to their home workstation.
KEMI has a variety of ergonomic resources available, but that is just one of several health and safety issues to consider when working from home. The following points provide some guidance and questions employers and employees should ask themselves to identify ways to improve safety for telecommuters.
- Does the work space accommodate your equipment and related material while still giving you room to work?
- Is the workstation arranged so that you can work without unnecessary strain on your back, arms, neck, etc.?
- Are your monitors at eye level so you are not looking at a downward angle?
- Are phone cords and electrical cords arranged so they are not creating trip hazards?
- Is there adequate lighting?
- Does your work chair roll too easily? Consider placing it on a rug so it doesn’t roll out from under you.
- Are you sitting back and using all of the chair? Let the chair support your back fully.
- Are your feet on the floor or supported by a foot rest?
- Is there a working smoke detector in your home work space?
- Is your work space free of trash and clutter?
- If you are using a portable heater or other heat source, are flammable materials kept at a safe distance?
- Are your walkways, aisles, and doorways unobstructed?
- Is your computer equipment connected to a surge protector?
- Are all electrical plugs and cords in good condition (with no exposed/damaged wiring or missing insulation)? Don’t check them while they are plugged in.
- Don’t plug power strips or surge protectors into one another (known as a daisy chain). You may have to unplug a few unnecessary items so as not to overload circuits.
- Be sure to turn your equipment off when not in use.
One last tip: Ergonomics is all about 90 degrees at the arms, hips, and knees. Check out the illustration below to see an example.
Considering the spread of COVID-19 (also known as coronavirus), steps should be taken to reduce its impact on employers, employees, customers, and the public in general. OSHA has developed this resource to help identify risk levels in the workplace and determine appropriate control measures.
Employers are encouraged to keep up with the latest information concerning the outbreak in your respective geographic area(s). Information to consider may include protective measures, updated situation summaries, cases in the United States, global locations with COVID-19, travel advice, and risk assessments. Sources for this information may include the following:
- Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services – https://chfs.ky.gov/agencies/dph/pages/covid19.aspx
- Centers for Disease Control – https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html
- World Health Organization – https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019
- OSHA – https://www.osha.gov/SLTC/covid-19/
- NIOSH – https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/emres/2019_ncov.html
Preventative Measures to Implement
- Encourage employees and contract workers to STAY AT HOME if they are sick
- Develop flexible, non-punitive leave policies for employees who are sick or have family members who are sick
- Do not require a “Doctor’s Note” for employees who are sick with COVID-19 symptoms
- Remind employees to cover their coughs and sneezes
- Promote frequent and thorough hand washing and ensure employees, customers, and worksite visitors with a place to wash their hands
- Provide employees, customers, and worksite visitors with ample supplies of tissues and no-touch trash receptacles
- Discourage employees from using other employees’ phones, desks, offices or other work tools and equipment when possible
- Routinely clean and disinfect surfaces and equipment along with other areas of the worksite
- Have an isolation area ready in the event an employee becomes sick and can’t immediately leave the workplace
- Consider offering face masks to ill employees and customers until they are able to leave the workplace
- Continue to provide up-to-date information to employees on COVID-19 as it develops
Train or Retrain Employees on:
- The signs and symptoms of COVID-19
- The process of reporting sickness in your workplace
- The location(s) for isolation areas for sick employees who are unable to immediately leave the workplace
- How to effectively restrict access to quarantined areas
Other Ways to Reduce Your Risk
- Consider minimizing contact among employees, clients, and customers by replacing face-to-face meetings with virtual communications and implement telecommuting if possible
- Establish alternating days or extra shifts that reduce the total number of employees in a facility at a given time
- Discontinue nonessential travel
- Develop emergency communication plans, including a forum for answering employee concerns
- Provide resources that promote personal hygiene such as:
- No-touch trash receptacles
- Hand soap
- Alcohol-based hand rubs that contain at least 60% alcohol
- Disposable towels to clean work surfaces
- Post handwashing reminders in bathrooms and other areas
Reviewing this information as well as visiting any of the links provided will give you current information on the risk of COVID-19 and protective measures. As with any safety or health concern, it is important that you understand the exposure, make plans to mitigate the risk, train employees on best practices, and conduct regular inspections to can identify and correct any gaps that may exist in your prevention efforts.
Management and staff should receive regular training on protective measures, why these measures are important, and how your organization will work together to remain safe and healthy.
For specific questions regarding how to minimize the risk of spreading communicable diseases such as COVID-19 in your workplace, contact KEMI’s Loss Control & Safety team at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 1-800-640-KEMI (5364).
Kentucky Employers’ Mutual Insurance (KEMI) recognized twenty-four Kentucky organizations for their commitment to workplace safety by presenting each of them with the 2019 KEMI Destiny Award.
The Destiny Awards are presented annually by KEMI to policyholders that best exemplify KEMI’s motto, “Control your own destiny.” The awards symbolize what can be accomplished when organizations work together to improve workplace safety. Policyholders who earn the KEMI Destiny Award effectively demonstrate to KEMI their ability to manage a formal safety program, provide on-site training and regular safety meetings for employees, and display an ongoing commitment to safety from all levels throughout their organizations.
The following policyholders were selected after meeting a stringent set of criteria set forth by KEMI:
- Ale 8 One Bottling Company
- Asbury Theological Seminary
- Asbury University
- Barren County Board of Education
- Big Rivers Electric Corporation
- Brandenburg Telephone Company
- Brighton Center
- City of Central City
- CLARK Material and Handling Company
- Commonwealth Hotels
- D C Elevator
- Eastern Kentucky University
- Frankfort Plant Board
- Glenwood Electric
- Henry County Board of Education
- Hibbs Electromechanical
- L G Fox
- Metcalfe County Board of Education
- Northern Kentucky Water District
- Russell County Hospital
- University Medical Center
- Utility Management Group
- Warren County Board of Education
“Earning the KEMI Destiny Award requires focus, teamwork, and a culture of safety at every level,” said Jon Stewart, President & CEO of KEMI. “We are proud to honor these twenty-four organizations and highlight their employees’ commitment to workplace safety.”
The American traditions of parades, cookouts, and fireworks help us celebrate the summer season, especially our nation’s birthday on the Fourth of July. However, fireworks can turn a joyful celebration into a painful memory when children and adults are injured or killed while using fireworks.
Although legal consumer fireworks that comply with U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) regulations can be relatively safe when used responsibly, all fireworks, by their nature, are hazardous and can cause injuries. Fireworks are classified as hazardous substances under the Federal Hazardous Substances Act (FHSA). Some fireworks, such as illegal firecracker-type devices (M-80s, quarter sticks) and professional display fireworks should never be handled by consumers, due to the risk of serious injury and death.
CPSC estimates that in 2017, about 12,900 people were treated in hospital emergency rooms for injuries associated with fireworks. Sixty-seven percent of these estimated injuries occurred in a one-month special study period (June 16, 2017 – July 16, 2017) around July 4. Most of the injuries involved hands and fingers, the head (including face, eyes, and ears), legs and arms. Children under the age of 15 years old accounted for 36 percent of the estimated injuries. Fireworks should be used only with extreme caution.
Before using fireworks, make sure they are permitted in your state or local area. Regardless of location, consumers who intend to use fireworks must comply with federal regulations.
To help consumers use fireworks more safely, the CPSC offers these recommendations:
- Do not allow young children to play with fireworks. Sparklers, a firework often considered by many to be the ideal “safe” device for the young, burn at very high temperatures and should be not be handled by young children. Children may not understand the danger involved with fireworks and may not act appropriately while using the devices or in case of emergency.
- Older children should be permitted to use fireworks only under close adult supervision. Do not allow any running or horseplay.
- Set off fireworks outdoors in a clear area, away from houses, dry leaves, or grass and other flammable materials.
- Keep a bucket of water nearby for emergencies and for pouring on fireworks that fail to ignite or explode.
- Do not try to relight or handle malfunctioning fireworks. Soak them with water and throw them away.
- Be sure other people are out of range before lighting fireworks.
- Never light fireworks in a container, especially a glass or metal container.
- Keep unused fireworks away from firing areas.
- Store fireworks in a cool, dry place.
- Check instructions for special storage directions.
- Observe local laws.
- Never have any portion of your body directly over a firework while lighting.
- Do not experiment with homemade fireworks.
If you have other ideas, we’d love to hear from you at email@example.com!
National Nurses Week and Teachers Appreciation Week are coming soon, and while KEMI promotes workplace safety with these groups year-round we thought it would be fun to share some creative ideas to help you express your gratitude for these two important professions!
- Homemade Treats – Bonus points if they are nurse-themed!
- Lifesavers Candies – Snag a few bags of Lifesavers gummies or hard candies and attach a sweet note!
- Pens – Tablets and computers are more common in hospitals and medical offices, but who doesn’t love a good pen?
- Handwritten Note – Personalized thank you cards cut right to the heart and give nurses all the feels.
- Discounts – If your business offers a product or service that could benefit nurses, offer a discount or promotion to say “thanks!”
- Gifts – An insulated tumbler, an umbrella, or even a simple gift card are great gifts for nurses.
- Catered Meals – Nurses are often too busy catering to the needs of their patients that they don’t have time to leave and grab a good meal, so consider bringing a good meal to them!
- Ice Cream Bar – Put out a variety of ice cream flavors and toppings to let nurses know they are cool!
- Flowers – Encourage each kid in the class to bring in one flower, then put them all together making a one-of-a-kind classroom bouquet!
- Personal Notes – Write a note to express your appreciation to a teacher (cursive writing is not required).
- Discounts – You don’t have to be a math teacher to appreciate a good discount. Why not offer a deal for teachers when they present their ID badge at checkout?
- Lunch – Soups, sandwiches, salads, or taco bars are great options.
- School Supplies – Gather a handful of school supplies that can be used in the classroom.
- Sweet, Salty, or Healthy Treats – Fill the teachers’ lounge with themed snacks or desserts (visit Pinterest for fun theme ideas)!
- Volunteer – Time is one of the most valuable (and fleeting) commodities in a teacher’s day. Offering to help in the classroom is one of the best ways to say thanks and show that you care!
These are just a handful of ideas to show nurses and teachers that you care about them. KEMI also offers a variety of safety resources to help keep nurses and teachers safe on the job.
If you have other ideas, we’d love to hear from you at firstname.lastname@example.org!