May Newsletter Now Available

The May Newsletter is here! This month, we review the issues discussed at April’s National Policy Con in Washington, D.C., plus we congratulate three National Apprentice Essay Contest winners from our chapter.

Click here to read the May Newsletter: IEC Newsletter May 2016

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Toolbox Talk: Slips and Falls


Slips and falls are one of the most frequent causes of accidents, both on and off the job. To avoid getting hurt from falls, avoid rushing and remember the following:


Be aware of where you are walking. Look down continuously for spilled liquids, materials, equipment, changing surface levels, etc. Make sure the area is well-lit or use a flashlight if lighting is poor.


Make sure your shoes are in good shape and correct for the job. Discard worn-out shoes with smooth soles and other defects. If conditions are wet and slipper, wear non-slip shoes or boots. Avoid footwear with leather soles which have poor floor traction–especially on smooth surfaces.


Avoid unguarded floor openings. On construction sites, when covers are placed over floor openings, avoid walking on the cover unless it is absolutely secure and will not move or collapse. Never jump over pits or other openings.


Do not run when going up or down stairs. Check to see that stair treads are in good shape, with no obstructions on the steps. Always use the hand railings that are provided. Avoid carrying large loads when going up or down stairs and ensure that stairs are well-lit.


Never use broken or defective ladders. Set the angle of the ladder at the proper four-to-one ratio (height to width angle). Make sure the ladder is on solid footing and will not move when you climb upon it. Whenever possible, tie your ladder to the structure to improve stability. Anchorage at the bottom is also a good idea. Never stand on the top two steps of a step ladder.


When working on scaffolding, make sure it is secure, stable and properly set-up. Do not work on scaffolding if guard rails are missing or the base is unstable. Check to see that planks are in good shape and not cracked. Tall scaffolds should be tied into a structure to increase stability.


Never jump from equipment or vehicles. Use the handrail and steps provided, remembering the “three point rule.” Avoid stepping onto loose rocks, slippery surfaces, oil spills, etc.

Watch your step and don’t trip yourself up! Remember– Gravity Always Wins!

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Toolbox Talk: Caring For Your Back

“OUCH!!! Why did I try to lift that much weight on my own?”

Did you ever ponder those words after you hoisted something heavy, or lifted from an awkward position? These incidents are well known causes of back strain, but you might not have considered other, underlying factors that lead to back injury. Several conditions influence your back health:

The cause of most back problems is poor posture, loss of flexibility, stressful living/working habits and above all, a general decline in physical fitness. Surprised? You shouldn’t be. When you “let yourself go,” (and most of us do with age) the first thing to go can be back strength. Along with correct lifting techniques, we should also work on our overall physical condition.

Nutrition is an important key to staying physically fit! As we grow older, our metabolism slows down. To counteract this natural event, we have to eat the right types of food-and not too much of it-or the pounds come on quickly! Now, what does nutrition have to do with a healthy back? For one thing, a healthy back is correctly balanced on your spine. With a “sway” back, that balance is lost-and those darned potbellies cause sway backs. Carrying around excess weight puts tremendous strain on back tissues, so lifting even a small extra load may cause an injury.

Exercise plays an important role as well. A form of exercise as simple as walking 30 minutes a day can raise your heart rate and burn enough calories to help keep you lean. Flexibility is another condition that changes as we grow older, if we don’t work to retain it. It’s true, as they say-“Use it or Lose it!” Without flexibility, we lose our body’s full range of motion. Then, when a sudden, physical demand takes a muscle or joint further than it’s used to, the risk of injury is high. You can do stretching exercises every morning to keep yourself flexible and ready for the physical demands of work. After all, don’t athletes warm up before a game to prevent injury?

Fixed positions–not moving enough–can also cause back problems. Staying in a fixed position for too long can lead to muscle spasms. We feel it as stiffness, but by the time discomfort from “static” muscle contractions is experienced, low level tissue damage has begun. Take stretch breaks between long standing or sitting periods to improve circulation and prevent back strain.

Poor body mechanics and bad lifting habits usually trigger a back injury-and are more likely to do so if overall physical condition is poor. Remember these techniques to help escape injury:

  • Avoid using fast, jerking motions when lifting.
  • Avoid bending and twisting at the same time.
  • Avoid handling a load too far away! Keep the load close to
  • your body.
  • Teamwork! If the load is too heavy, two persons should carry the load.

Emotional Stress leads to mental distraction, so that things other than proper body mechanics are on your mind. Stress and back pain seem to go together. Low back pain has been called “a tension headache that slipped.” Solving our personal problems isn’t always easy to do, but it often takes away back pain and helps prevent repeated injuries.

In Conclusion: Improper lifting isn’t the only thing that causes back injuries. People who do not also stay in good physical and mental condition are at high risk for back problems.

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Toolbox Talk: Being Mentally Prepared for Emergencies

Would you know what to do if an emergency occurred while you were on the job? Do you know what actions to take if a co-worker was seriously injured, a fire ignited, or a structure collapsed? Are you prepared to react?

Emergencies and disasters are a reality of everyday life. Too many lives are lost and property is damaged because no one was prepared to properly react when immediate decisions and actions counted. A good start in learning how to respond to an emergency is through certification in Basic First Aid and CPR (Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation). These courses teach important skills. But even more important than the first aid skills gained, they teach how to respond to an emergency. Programs offered by organizations such as the highly-respected American Red Cross teach people about the kind of situations or conditions that might precipitate an emergency. Knowing what to look for and how to react could save the life of a co-worker or family member.

Your company should have an emergency action plan. Review it periodically, and be aware of what steps to follow when calling for emergency help. Know the course of action to take in likely emergencies at your facility. This will improve your safety awareness in everything you do. Safety awareness may be gained through the company’s regular safety meetings, safety training or your own personal interest in safety & health. This awareness will increase your ability to respond if, some day in the future, you are a bystander in an emergency. This is particularly important if you work in a hazardous industry. You should be able to answer the following:

  • How and who do you notify in an emergency?
  • Are you prepared to react responsibly?
  • Should you stay with the injured person or run for help?
  • If you are not First Aid certified, do you know who in your crew or the company is?
  • Does the emergency scene need to be secured?
  • Do you know the chain of command? Who’s in charge during an emergency?

You come to work everyday prepared for the task at hand and knowledgeable on how to handle production problems in the workplace. Being mentally aware is also your best preparation for a potential emergency. Analyze beforehand what to do if one of your co-workers is injured, and if that injury is life threatening. Know how to protect yourself, your co-workers and the company in case of a serious chemical spill. Chances are, during a crisis, you won’t have much time to plan the best possible action-so make those decisions ahead of time.

When an emergency does occur, it is your responsibility to be mentally ready.

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Toolbox Talk: Power Tool Safety Tips

Portable power tools are one of the greatest time and energy savers around. Since they’re so readily available and useful, we tend to forget that they’re powered, and have the potential to amputate, break bones, electrocute, and kill. Some of the serious accidents using power tools have involved situations like the following:

“A sheet metal man was installing flashing on a church roof. Using a power drill on the roof edge, he lost his balance when the drill cut through the material. Failing to use a safety belt, he toppled 30 feet to his death.”

“A carpenter amputated three fingers using a portable circular saw incorrectly. He tried to adjust the blade depth with one hand, with the other on the grip handle. He accidentally hit the trigger.”


*Inadequate instructions

*Use of improperly grounded, non- double insulated tools

*Protective guards were defective, or removed

*Dull cutting edges of blades and bits

*Hang-up of power cord twist plugs on ladder rungs

*Non-secure operator position


*Proper training in power tool use

*Preventive maintenance on power tools

*Inspections and defective tool reports

*Shorten power cord to prevent hang-ups

*If you are performing elevated work, use safety belts

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Toolbox Talk: A Refresher on GFCIs

The Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter, or GFCI, is a fast-acting circuit breaker that senses small imbalances in an electrical circuit caused by the electrical current leaking to ground. If this imbalance occurs, the GFCI shuts off the electricity within a fraction of a second.

How It Works

The GFCI device continually matches the amount of current going to an electrical device against the amount of current returning from the device along the electrical circuit path. Whenever the amount “going” differs from the amount “returning” by approximately 5 milliamps, the GFCI interrupts the electric power by closing the circuit within as little as 1/40 of a second.

What a GFCI Can and Cannot Do

It does provide protection against the grounding fault–which is the most common form of electrical shock hazard. Agrounding fault occurs when a “hot” wire comes into contact with a grounded enclosure. If you happen to be in contact with the grounded enclosure of an electrical tool when a ground fault occurs, you will be subject to a shock unless a GFCI device is in use, and functioning as intended. The GFCI will not protect youfrom line-to-line contact hazards (i.e., holding two “hot” wires or a hot and a neutral wire in each hand).

GFCIs in Construction Work

Since extension cords are not part of the permanent wiring, any electrical tools or equipment plugged into extension cords should be protected by a GFCI device. Insulation around flexible extension cord conductors can be damaged through hard usage or excessive wear. If the “hot” wire conductor of the extension cord were to come into contact with the grounding wire conductor, a ground fault would occur. GFCIs should certainly be used in wet environments. When a cord connector is wet, hazardous current leakage can occur to the grounding conductor and to anyone who picks up that connector if they also provide a path to ground. An alternative method of protection is the Assured Equipment Grounding Program. This method is achieved by establishing a direct ground for the equipment and doing a continuity check of the equipment and cords being used.

GFCIs at Home

The shock hazards of a grounding fault are not isolated to just your work place. A grounding fault may occur at home in areas such as bathrooms, kitchens, garages, and basements. You need to be vigilant and make sure that the circuits you are “plugged” into are protected by GFCIs whenever using electrical tools or equipment in potentially wet environments. Most local building codes require receptacles in potentially wet locations, such as near sinks in bathrooms and kitchens, to be equipped with a GFCI device. It is also recommended that you use a GFCI device whenever you have any concerns about the integrity of the tool, equipment, or cord system.

Actions You Should Take for Electrical Safety

Always make sure the tools and cords you use are in good working condition and inspect them regularly for any visible damage. Failure in the insulation or grounding protection of your tools or cords could result in ground faults. Use GFCI devices. Take a little extra care so that you will not have a SHOCKING experience.

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April Newsletter Now Available

It’s no April Fool’s prank- the latest newsletter is now available. Click below to access it!

IEC Newsletter April 2016

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Toolbox Talk: High Voltage Electrical Burns

More than 1000 employees are killed and another 30,000 injured each year from electrical shock. Hands are frequently involved in an electrical injury since they are the most common source of contact with the electrical current. However, damage to other parts of the body may be more extensive and life threatening. Severe electric shock can result in cardiac arrest due to ventricular fibrillation, massive fluid loss into swollen tissues, and kidney failure caused by an overload of muscle protein from damaged muscle and infections.

Electrical injuries are often more severe than they appear to be from the outside. Injury occurs not only at the contact site, but also along the path the electricity takes, and at the exit location. Frequently, there is also extensive muscle damage that will not be evident from a visual examination of the skin. These deep tissue injuries cause severe swelling that require a deep incision extending from the hand to the shoulder to relieve the pressure. If this is not done, the mounting pressure from the swelling will shut off the blood supply by compressing the arteries, rapidly destroying any remaining healthy tissue. Extensive dead skin removal is often necessary to prevent massive infection. Deep burns result in unsightly scars that will often continue to enlarge for 12-18 months after the burn occurs. These scars are not only a cosmetic problem, but may seriously interfere with joint function because motion increases the tension across the wound, which tends to produce even more scar tissue.

More than 90% of fatalities occur when contact is made with a “hot” wire, or energized equipment housing by a person who was well-grounded. Most of these injuries would probably have been prevented if a GFI–ground fault interrupter-had been installed on the circuit. A GFI is not an overcurrent device, but is placed across the line to continuously monitor the current flowing from the source and compare it to the current returning to the source. If the difference is 6 milliamperes or more, it opens the circuit almost instantly. This is important because it has been determined that 100 milliamperes flowing through the body for only 2 seconds can cause death by electrocution. 100 milliamperes is not much current when you consider that a portable electric drill draws 30 times that much. Incidentally, the “let go” threshold that causes freezing to the circuit is about 20 milliamperes. Make sure that the equipment you are working with has a GFI — it could save your life.

Other safety requirements that must be followed include using insulated gloves for current over 300 volts, eye protection, and lockout/tag out if working on energized parts of equipment or systems. Conductive measuring tapes, ropes, or similar devices obviously cannot be used around exposed conductors, and conductive fish tapes cannot be used if they will be entering enclosures with exposed conductors.

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Toolbox Talk: IPODs and MP3 Players in the Workplace

Injury hazards
Wearing an iPod may influence the path taken by electricity and increase a person’s chance of harm; as would the wearing of metal jewelry or carrying coins in a shirt pocket. As with any battery-operated device, iPod use around flammable vapors may increase the risk of fire or explosion. An iPod’s small size (smallest version is about the size of a pack of gum), thin earbud/earphone cable, or wireless headset, limits the potential for the device to be caught and draw a worker into machinery.
Hearing loss
Hearing loss is possible with iPod use. The first generation of iPods could produce more than 100 decibels and use of earbuds may increase the sound energy reaching the cochlea. A class-action lawsuit was filed in February 2006 to force Apple to update software to limit the sound output of iPods to no more than 100 dB. The research, was presented in October 2006 at a hearing loss in children meeting in Cincinnati. The research showed that hearing loss was possi ble. The findings are not surprising. As early as 1987, NIOSH had evaluated the use of Walkman radios, tape and CD players and found sound output could exceed OSHA limits and that the headsets used with these devices afforded no ear protection (averageNRR of 1 dB). At a 100 percent volume setting an iPod could produce sounds loud enough to damage hearing in as little as a few minutes each day. But at volme settings below 50 percent, no harm is expected regardless of how much time is spent listening. Newer generations of iPods have a programmable “Volume Limit”
that may be set to prevent harmful sound levels.
Any device that pulls a workers attention is a hazard in the work environment. Heavy equipment, manufacturing environments and driving are all potentially dangerous places for iPods and other personal listening devices. In automobiles, a study reported that 80% of accidents, and 65% of near- accidents involved some form of driver
distraction. Although an iPod may make the day go by easier, use in a manufacturing and construction setting may increase your risk of injury on the job site.
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Toolbox Talk: Cyber-Safety

Physical safety on the job is important, but are you protecting yourself in cyberspace as well? Click below to learn more about cyber crime and how to protect yourself from criminals online. The information is provided from Federated Insurance:

What is cyber-crime?

Federated Insurance FB

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