Are Your Employees Vulnerable to Automation-Related Injuries?

As office technology grows, it is developing its own special brand of injuries. Many of your office workers perform work that can lead to automation-related illnesses. To protect your workers and decrease your liability, you need to identify such health hazards and take measures to prevent their occurrence in your workplace.

The most common automation-related injuries are repetitive motion injuries, also known as cumulative trauma disorders (CTDs). The name stems from the fact that the injury develops over time because an employee performs the same task in the same range of motion.

Carpal tunnel syndrome is the most common CTD. This disorder typically develops from the repetitive motions of typing and computer work. The continuous bending of the wrist causes the tendons to swell in the tunnel formed by the carpal bones and ligaments. The swelling pinches the median nerve that gives feeling to the hand. Common symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome are burning or painful tingling in a hand or shooting pains throughout the entire arm.

There are several steps you can undertake to combat the problem of carpal tunnel syndrome and other repetitive motion injuries:

·   Be sure workstations are ergonomically correct. The computer components need to be adjustable and every workstation should have a footrest, wrist rest, and document holder.

·   Train employees how to work in an ergonomically correct manner. Their keyboard should be positioned at elbow height so that their wrists remain straight and elbows remain at a 90-degree angle while they work. The top of the monitor screen should be at, or slightly below eye level. They should sit with their backs against the chair.

·   Provide adequate break times so that employees can leave their workstation for at least 15 minutes. There should be both a morning and afternoon break.

·   Keep productivity requirements reasonable. Employees shouldn’t feel continually pressured to skip breaks to complete assignments.

·   Rotate employees so they don’t have to perform the same motions all day.

The second most common automation-related injury is eyestrain. This results when employees stare at computer monitors all day. Some ways you can minimize the risk of vision problems include:

·   Reduce florescent lighting in the work area and provide desk lamps instead.

·   Use window shades to reduce glare on computer monitors.

·   Provide equipment that will allow employees to place reference materials close to the computer monitor and at the same distance from their eyes.

·   Train employees on the hazards of staring at computer monitors for long periods of time.

·   Ask computer operators to have a yearly eye examination.

Excessive noise can also result in automation-related injuries, such as headaches and migraines. In addition, noise compromises efficiency and decreases productivity. You can reduce the effects of noisy equipment by installing heavy drapes and thick carpeting. Placing a rubber mat beneath a machine helps reduce vibrations.

Is Your Home’s Chimney Ready for Winter?

Some of the smoke that flows up your chimney condenses and becomes creosote that sticks to the flue. Creosote is a hard tar-like substance that builds up over time. As the coat of creosote thickens, it increases the chance of a fire breaking out in the chimney. 

When a chimney fire burns, extremely high temperatures are created that can cause cracks to form in the flue. These cracks can pose a serious health threat to your family because they allow carbon monoxide that would normally vent up the chimney to be drawn back into the home. Carbon monoxide is an odorless colorless gas that can be lethal.

To prevent chimney problems, you should have your chimney professionally inspected and cleaned yearly. The National Fire Protection Association has adopted these levels of inspection to create code NFPA 211, Standard for Chimneys, Fireplaces, Vents and Solid Fuel Burning Appliances. This is the standard that certified chimney sweeps use when cleaning chimneys:

·   Level I Inspection: Recommended when the chimney is easily accessible and the homeowner is planning to maintain it as is. In this inspection, a certified chimney sweep verifies that the chimney structure is sound and that the chimney is free of obstructions and combustible deposits such as creosote.

·   Level II Inspection: If the homeowner has added a new home heating appliance or changed the type of fuel being burned, the chimney requires a Level II inspection. This inspection level may also be required after the sale of a property or an event that is likely to have caused damage to the chimney. This inspection includes the Level I inspection plus the inspection of accessible portions of the attics, crawl spaces and basements. It may also include a performance test, such as a smoke or a pressure test, and an interior chimney video inspection if recommended.

·   Level III Inspection: When a Level I or Level II inspection suggests a hidden hazard and the evaluation cannot be performed without access to concealed areas, a Level III inspection is recommended. This type of inspection confirms the proper construction and condition of concealed portions of the chimney structure and the flue. Level III inspections are also necessary when investigating an incident that caused damage to a chimney or building.

In addition to yearly inspections, you may also want to consider a metal chimney liner. They protect the chimney from corrosion as a result of the byproducts released during combustion. Liners are made from stainless steel or aluminum and can be used to repair existing chimneys. They are U.L. tested, and if properly installed and maintained, they are safe and durable. Stainless steel is used in chimneys for wood burning, gas, or oil applications. Aluminum is only used for certain medium efficiency gas applications. High temperature insulation is required to be used in conjunction with the liners to ensure safety.