Are your workers in double jeopardy from hazards at work and at home?
Suppose that in his latest hearing test, you notice that a young worker is showing a standard threshold shift, an indicator that he has suffered some degree of hearing loss. Your workplace is noisy enough to cause the hearing loss, but the controls you have in place should prevent it. Has the worker been cheating on his hearing protection? Is he just more susceptible to hearing loss than other workers? Or is it possible that something else is going on?
Something else, in fact, could be contributing to the hearing loss—and this is often true with other types of injuries as well. Workers are exposed to some hazards both in the workplace and away from it, creating a “double jeopardy” situation in which workers can increase their exposure and their risk of injury by what they do off the job.
Common hazards that workers can face both at work and away, with the potential for cumulative effects, include:
The worker who spends long hours at work doing heavy physical labor—for example, a nurse who spends her 12-hour shift lifting, steadying, and repositioning patients—should, for her health, go home and rest her stressed back, neck, and shoulder muscles. This gives the muscles a chance to recover before her next shift.
But if she goes home to young children, an invalid relative, an active remodeling project, or other heavy physical demands, she could be cutting into her recovery time and increasing her risk of overuse injuries.
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Protect workers from off-the-job ergonomic hazards. Clearly, the best thing you can do for workers is reduce their exposure to ergonomic hazards on the job, where you have some control over the situation. But you can also help workers reduce their off-the-job exposure by:
- Raising awareness. Workers whose exposure is minimized at work may not be fully aware of the risks they take at home. Even if you’ve taken steps to reduce ergonomic exposures in the workplace, make sure you also train workers in risk factors, protective measures, and symptoms—and tell them that exposures away from work will increase their overall risk of injury.
- Providing support. If workers are exposed to ergonomic hazards both on and off the job, use your employee assistance program or wellness program to provide them with assistance to reduce their off-work exposures. For example, a worker who takes care of an invalid relative might benefit from help finding assistive technology or a home health aide to reduce their exposures at home.
It doesn’t matter where noise exposures occur—they can all contribute to permanent hearing loss. You take steps to control workplace exposures, but what about employees who do noisy things off the job as well?
Protect workers from off-the-job noise exposures: Make sure your message about protecting workers’ hearing gets through loud and clear. Get them to listen by:
- Training them to recognize hazardous noise levels. Workers may not have a sound level meter at home, but they can learn to recognize hazardous noise levels. Anytime they have to raise their voice to communicate, there’s too much noise. Also, you can make workers familiar with noise levels of common activities and machinery. Lawn mowers, motorcycles, chainsaws, and home workshop tools all create potentially hazardous levels of noise, and workers should take the same precautions with them that they would with workplace noise hazards.
- Providing hearing protection devices. Foam earplugs are cheap (and, to an extent, reusable by the same worker), and fitted earplugs won’t suffer substantially from additional use. Encourage workers to take their hearing protection devices home and use them whenever they do something that could get loud, like yard work or attending a fireworks display.
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Do your workers apply pesticides on the job, and then go home and spray their gardens? Do they work in the water treatment plant at your site, and then go home and put chemicals in their pools? Do they breathe paint fumes at work, and then go home and paint their bathrooms? Workers may be double-dipping on chemical exposures more frequently than you realize.
Protect workers from off-the-job chemical exposures: Workers might not realize that products sold for consumer use can be just as dangerous as those they use at work. The label is often different (products sold for home use have Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) labeling, not OSHA labeling), and the presumption is that these products are “safer.” Help workers stay safe by:
- Training them to recognize chemical hazards. Anything with a CPSC label is potentially hazardous. Make sure your workers know to read labels and follow safety instructions at home, too.
- Training them to protect themselves. At work, the safety department may do all of the research to select the right personal protective equipment, but you can teach workers how to figure out whether they need safety glasses or goggles and which kind of gloves they need. Likewise, it may be somebody else’s job to identify chemicals that require fire safety and ventilation precautions, but you can teach workers to do that for themselves when using chemicals at home.
A safety program that teaches and equips workers to be safe wherever they are, and whatever they are doing, will have benefits beyond disease, illness, and injury prevention. When workers are always thinking safety—and when their employer supports their safety on and off the job—the workplace’s overall safety culture will also benefit.
Training tip: If you have workers who successfully ‘take safety home,’ incorporate their stories into your safety training to encourage other workers to do the same.
Train to Retain
If you’ve been looking for easy-to-use, high-quality, click-and-train computer-based safety training, look no more. You’ve found it right here! So rest easy.
Your employees will retain what they learn from these attractive and easy-to-understand training sessions.
Safety Training Presentations gets you off to a good start with 25 core PowerPoint safety presentations, each one responsive to either an OSHA training requirement or to common causes of workplace accidents. All are customizable, so you can add your specific hazards or safety policies.
The word Presentations in the program name is plural for 25 reasons: There are 25 separate PowerPoint prewritten safety meetings, every one responsive to either an OSHA training requirement or the topic that is a key cause of accidents. All are customizable so you can add your specific hazards or safety policies. There are Safety Training Presentations on:
- Back Safety
- Bloodborne Pathogens
- Electrical Safety
- Emergency Action
- Fire Prevention
- Portable Power Tool Safety
- Hazard Communication
- Forklift Operator Safety
- Confined Space Safety
- Fall Protection
- Respiratory Protection
Each lesson also includes interactive exercises, quizzes, completion certificates, sign-in sheets, evaluation forms, and training records. In short, each presents everything you need to motivate, reinforce, retain, and transfer new knowledge, and document that you did. You can see samples of some of the materials by clicking on the links below.
Of course, training needs change as OSHA introduces new requirements or new work practices and technology bring new hazards. To cover this, you receive a new CD every 90 days you’re in the program, each containing five additional topics. Just as important, for those on a budget (and who isn’t these days?), the cost of these presentations averages under $20 each.
We’ve arranged for Advisor subscribers to get a no-cost, no-obligation look at Safety Training Presentations for 30 days. Feel free to try a few lessons with your own trainees. Click here and we’ll be glad to arrange it.
Safety Training Presentations Sample Materials
Download core topic list
Download example sample
Download handout sample
Download multiple slide sample
Download speaker note sample
Download trainer’s guide sample