Marijuana and Workplace Safety

Marijuana and Workplace Safety

For some situations, like office work, the primary safety hazard might be a paper cut.  In industrial professions, employee safety is at risk every day.  Because of legalization of marijuana, industrial accidents could occur more often because marijuana can impair an employee’s coordination and motor skills.

Where is Marijuana Legal Right Now

Despite many states legalizing cannabis in the United States, marijuana remains an illegal drug according to the federal government.  The government classifies cannabis or marijuana as a Schedule I drug.  Schedule I drugs, under the federal Controlled Substances Act (CSA), are those drugs that possess a high potential for abuse and for which there is no currently accepted medical use. The DEA reviewed its classification of marijuana in 2016, and affirmatively chose to keep marijuana on the list Schedule I drugs.

A nice map from DISA Global Solutions shows the marijuana legality by state with links to the state law.

Map of Marijuana by State

Map of Marijuana by State

How is Marijuana Use Impacting Safety on the Job?

People try marijuana to get “high.”  The psychoactive ingredient,  tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in marijuana stimulates the brain to produce dopamine which relaxes the body.  According to an article by WebMD, How Marijuana Affects Your Mind and Body, affects sensory perception (brighter colors, louder sounds), reaction time, motor skills, and increase risky behavior.  For an employee working in an industrial environment, operating machinery, or driving industrial equipment, these effects can be deadly.

According to a study, How does marijuana use affect school, work, and social life?, by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), 55 percent more workplace accidents, 85 percent more injuries at work, and 75 percent more absenteeism when an employee tested positive for cannabis.

The Employer Usually Wins a Lawsuit

As a result of cannabis use, an employee’s job is terminated.  When this happens states typically side with the employer even if the employee has a medical marijuana card.  However, marijuana is still Schedule I drug which is illegal according to federal law. Federal law supersedes state law.

  • The Americans with Disabilities Act sides with the employer when it comes to medical marijuana use
  • If an industrial accident occurs and a worker is injured, worker compensation is not provided if an employee was under the influence
  • Most health insurance programs do not cover medical cannabis as part of their list of prescription drugs

What Makes a Good Drug Policy?

An interesting study on the impact of Drug-Testing programs by the National Center of Biotechnology Information (NCBI) shows the effective use of pre-employment drug testing concludes it is useful to employers choosing job applicants.  An employer drug policy should include:

  • Management training to ensure enforcement the drug policy
  • Employee support options including company assistance or local resources
  • Clearly defined use and possession guidelines
  • Criteria for post-accident analysis
  • Rules employee’s conviction or arrest for drugs

Legal authorities review drug policies and workplace procedures to ensure reduction of litigation by employee.  Policies may change based on state or even federal law and could change frequently.  The drug policy should have a date and acknowledgment by the employee.  By having this information, litigation against the employer is protected.

Cannabis

Cannabis picture by pixabay

The health and safety of your workforce depend upon you to keep them safe.

Linda Rawson, is the Founder of DynaGrace Enterprises, inventor of WeatherEgg, and the author of The Minority and Women-Owned Small Business Guide to Government Contracts: Everything You Need to Know to Get Started

Top 10 Plants for Improving Indoor Air Quality

Top 10 Plants for Improving Indoor Air Quality

Household plants can improve indoor air quality.  People lined their windowsills in growing numbers with greenery after NASA published a series of research dating back to the early 1980s, saying that indoor plants could purify the air. Sadly, a little wishful thinking seems to have been going on back then.

Researchers now claim that you would need 680 plants in a 1,500-square-foot home for the leaves to fight toxins. Indoor plants have other health and air boosting benefits that you don’t need to build a jungle wall-to-wall to enjoy.

Even a small quantity of foliage could improve the quality of indoor air.

Because Americans spend most of their time indoors, a top priority should be good air quality. So why not add to your living room a few easy-care plants?

The following 10 plants help remove pollutants like formaldehyde, benzene, trichloroethylene, and carbon monoxide.

English Ivy (Hedera Helix)

English Ivy

English Ivy Photo Credit Costa Farms

The classic, elegant, English ivy is lovely as a ground cover or as a house plant, which is ideal for removing dangerous chemicals from the house. It can grow in complete shade to full sun, it can be formed, and it will likely survive several years with the proper care.

Bamboo Palm (Chamaedorea Seifrizii)

Bamboo Palm

Bamboo Palm Photo Credit Stevens Plant Care

Because of its preference for the proportion of sun and shade, the bamboo tree or red palm produces a large house plantation, which also helps remove harmful components such as benzene and formaldehyde.  Palm trees thrive away from cold drafts in pleasant amounts of light. They can bring plenty of greenery to your space and reach 12 meters high but are growing slowly. Keep your bamboo palm in a larger container at least three years before re-potting.

Chinese Evergreen (Aglaonema Modestum)

Chinese Evergreen

Chinese Evergreen Photo Credit Linda’s Flowers

The Chinese evergreen is a healthy plant with low to medium-light conditions. It usually reaches 1 or 2 feet. While it helps keep the Chinese evergreen atmosphere safe, it is essential to remember that an irritant is present in the Chinese evergreen that can be poisonous to animals.

Gerbera Daisy (Gerbera Jamesonii)

Gerbera Daisy

Gerbera Daisy Photo Credit Cascade Floral Wholesale

This famous annual is helpful when placed indoors to remove the gasoline and to improve the mood of the house. Be aware, however, that Gerbera daisy is best in warm temperatures at or above 75 degrees F.

Dragon Tree (Dracaena Marginata)

Dragon Tree

Dragon Tree Photo Credit The Tree Center

A beautiful office plant, the Dragon Tree would be a great complement both indoors and outdoors with a green to purple leaf color. It would also fit in perfectly in the office because it can withstand low light.  The Dragon tree is among the best for removing trichloroethylene and xylene from indoor air.

Mother-in-Law’s Tongue (SansevieriaTrifasciata ‘Laurentii’)

Mother-in-Law Tongue

Mother-in-Law Tongue Photo Credit Hirt’s Garden

A sturdy and succulent mother-in-law tongue is a good home plan for beginners and is capable of surviving under certain harshest conditions, including a broad range of light and temperatures. Be cautious, however, not to over water or not to water at all.

Mum (Chrysanthemum Morifolium)

Mum

Mum Photo Credit NC Cooperative Extension

Not just for memorials, Mums have lovely flowers, which are accessible and inexpensive in garden shops in the spring. These perennials are also suitable for interaction with plants because they sometimes take a deadhead (the pinch of spent flowers).  Display it in a cool place under the sun for 10 hours. These plants are toxic to animals if consumed, so keep it out of reach. You can plant it outside in spring when the risk of frost goes away.

Peace Lily (Spathiphyllum ‘Mauna Loa’)

Peace Lily

Peace Lily Photo Credit Mark and Spencer

One of the best plants to combat poisonous substances is the Peace lily.  Known for their ability to battle formaldehyde and carbon monoxide, are relatively simple plants that handle and even show indications of dropping when need to be watered. This plant may be slightly poisonous to animals and people, so after touching the plant, it is essential to clean your hands.

Spider Plant (ChlorophytumComosum ‘Vittatum’)

Spider Plant

Spider Plant Photo Credit Gardening Know How

The spider plant is one of the simplest air-purifying indoor plants for beginners or forgetful owners to grow. Spider plants fans of light, indirect sunlight shoot with flowers that ultimately develop into baby spider plants.  The child plants can be placed in their pot while still connected to their mother plant. Then once they are rooted, you snip them off. Please give the plant to your friends, or increase your collection of plant life.

Dracaena (Fragrans ‘Massangeana’)

Dracaena

Dracaena Photo Credit Jordan’s Jungle

A common species, Dracaena is known for their beautiful foliage, which varies from green to yellow and has proven to prevent formaldehyde. It looks fantastic in the shape of tree but can also be cultivated as shrubs.

Whatever your choice of house plant is one of these plants will help indoor air quality.

Linda Rawson, is the Founder of DynaGrace Enterprises, inventor of WeatherEgg, and the author of The Minority and Women-Owned Small Business Guide to Government Contracts: Everything You Need to Know to Get Started

What is a Fit Test?

What is a Fit Test?

If you are working in nursing, manufacturing, construction, or other industries that are commonly affected by airborne hazards, the respirator fit test is probably not a new term to you.

Generally speaking, a respirator fit test is a test that will show whether a person can wear a tight-fitting respirator without leakage. The test must be conducted using precisely the same respirator, which should be worn by the worker, and when the worker needs to wear glasses or another protection when wearing the respirator, he or she also needs to wear them during the test.

Respirators are classified as either loose-fitting or tight-fitting. Since respirators cannot protect you if they do not fit tightly, the respirator has a tougher standard. OSHA requires respirator-fit testing only on tight-fitting respirators, and those respirators that do not depend on a tight seal around the face of a person do not undergo testing.

You know what a respirator is but do you know which your staff is going to need?

Qualitative V.S. Quantitative Respirator Fit Test

There are two significant types of respirator fit tests. It is either qualitative or quantitative respirator fit test. Here are the distinctions between the two respirator fit test.

Qualitative Respirator Fit Test

Qualitative Fit Test

A professional conducting a Qualitative Fit Test Photo Credit 3M

Qualitative fit testing is a pass / fail test technique that utilizes your sense of smell or taste or your response to an irritant to identify leakage in the face piece of the respirator. The real amount of leakage is not measured by qualitative fit testing. Whether the respirator performs or fails, the experiment is based on identifying your face piece leakage of the sample material. OSHA accepts four methods of qualitative fit testing:

  • Bitrex, which leaves a bitter taste in your mouth;
  • Irritant smoke, which can cause coughing;
  • Isoamyl acetate, which smells like bananas; and
  • Saccharin, which leaves a sweet taste in your mouth.

Half-mask respirators are usually used for qualitative fit testing-those that cover your mouth and nose. Half-mask respirators, as well as elastomeric respirators, can filter face piece respirators-often called “N95s.”

Quantitative Respirator Fit Test

To identify leakage, quantitative fit screening utilizes a device to assess the real quantity of leakage in the face piece and does not depend on your sense of taste, smell, or irritation. During this sort of fit test, the respirators used will have a probe attached to the face piece that will be connected by a hose to the device. OSHA accepts three quantitative fit testing techniques:

Quantitative Respirator Fit Test

Quantitative Respirator Fit Test Photo Credit Levitt Safety

  • Ambient aerosol
  • Controlled Negative Pressure
  • Generated aerosol

Quantitative fit testing is used for tight-fitting respirators.

Many employees need to wear prescription glasses or personal protective equipment, like safety goggles or earmuffs, while doing a job. If you fit into this category, then during the respirator fit test you must wear these items.  Wearing these items during testing ensures they do not interfere with the fit of the respirator.

Before using a respirator in the workplace, the fit of your respirator must be tested and retested annually to ensure that the respirator you are using still fits you. The testing utilizes the particular make, model, style, and respirator size you’re going to use.

While it may be easy to lose track of respirator fit tests, it is an essential element in compliance with OSHA. Furthermore, the respirator fit test is a vital instrument to keep your staff secure and healthy from environmental hazards. The OSHA page is an excellent tool if you want to learn more about the specifics of respirator fit testing.

References:

https://www.osha.gov/video/respiratory_protection/fittesting_transcript.html

Linda Rawson, is the Founder of DynaGrace Enterprises, inventor of WeatherEgg, and the author of The Minority and Women-Owned Small Business Guide to Government Contracts: Everything You Need to Know to Get Started

DynaGrace Enterprises Adds Respirator Fit Test Product to GSA Schedule 66

DynaGrace Enterprises Adds Respirator Fit Test Product to GSA Schedule 66

DynaGrace Enterprises, a WOSB, professional services company has added another quality line of products, Respirator Fit Test products, to the GSA Schedule 66 – Scientific Equipment and Services Schedule Contract. DynaGrace Enterprises is the first women-owned firm in Utah to be a vendor on that prestigious GSA schedule.

This federal government contracting vehicle enables us to reach more occupational health and safety managers as well as those agencies concerned with worker safety, regulation, and compliance,” stated Linda Rawson, President, and Founder of DynaGrace Enterprises.  “Our newest vendor, Accutec-IHS, increases our ability to provide products that keep workers safe.

Accutec-IHS, with their AccuFIT9000™ Quantitative Respirator Fit Tester, is ready to be the smart choice for Quantitative Respirator Fit Tests.

The AccuFIT9000™ is an ideal solution for the industrial, pharmaceutical, first responder, and mining respirator users who are looking for one product that can address all their fit testing needs affordably. The newly developed high-efficiency CNC device, the AccuFIT9000™ uses the OSHA protocol as outlined in 29 CFR 1910.134, Respiratory Protection Programs.

A quantitative fit test measures the “goodness” of the respirator-to-face seal of the person being tested. In the case of the AccuFIT9000™ the challenge agent is naturally-occurring ultrafine particulates. The AccuFIT9000™ measures the concentration of the particulates in the ambient atmosphere and the breathing zone of the respirator.  The measurement is done while the test subject is performing a series of exercises as described in 29 CFR 1910.134.  The “Fit Factor” is then calculated which is a ratio of these two values.

Since the test results do not depend on the ability of the test subject to taste, smell, or sense an irritation caused by an artificially-introduced challenge agent, the test itself is entirely objective. The test provides a defensible analysis including metrics.  The administrator of the Respiratory Protection Program is able to maintain a log of employees and fit test results.

Linda Rawson passionately says, “If you are working in a toxic or hazardous atmosphere where a respirator is required, and if the respirator doesn’t fit, you will breathe in toxins.  It is that simple.  Let’s face it.  We want to keep workers healthy for years to come.  We are deeply concerned about the air quality of the nation. We are concerned with the air people breathe both at work and in their daily lives and want to make sure the employee is as safe as possible.”

The press release is located here: DynaGrace Enterprises Adds Respirator Fit Test Product to GSA Schedule 66

Customers can learn more about DynaGrace Enterprises by visiting the company’s website at DynaGrace.com or by calling the company directly at 888-676-0058.

Heat Hazard in the Work Place

Heat Hazard in the Work Place

U.S. workers in their workplaces are subjected to heat. Although heat exposure disease can be prevented, thousands of people get ill every year due to occupational heat exposure, and some

Worker in Hot Sun

Worker in Hot Sun

instances are deadly. In the first few days of living or working in a warm or hot settings, the majority of outdoor fatalities (50 percent to 70 percent) happen because the body requires to build a heat tolerance over time progressively. The building tolerance method is called heat acclimation. Failure to acclimatize is a significant risk factor for deadly results.

Heavy physical exercise, warm or hot environments, an absence of acclimatization, and the use of clothing containing bodily heat are occupational threat factors for heat illness. Hazardous heat exposure can take place in and outdoors and can happen in any season if the conditions are appropriate not just in hot waves.

OSHA needs employers to provide their staff with secure working environments. Moreover, while you are unable to regulate the climate, you can enforce heat stress hazard reduction strategies and processes. First, let’s look at what heat stress is.

What is Heat Stress

Heat stress occurs when the body can no longer maintain its average temperature. An amount of heat-related diseases can lead to heat stress. Hot cramps, heat exposure, and heat stroke are the most prevalent.

Those employees most susceptible are outdoor employees and workers in hot temperature work settings such as firefighters, bakeries, farmers, construction laborers, miners, boiler room personnel, and manufacturing workers. Employees who are 65 years or older, are overweight and have heart disease or higher blood pressure, or may receive medication that could be impacted by intense heat, are at higher risk of heat stress.

Control of Heat Stress

If adequate checks are not enforced, heat exposure and heatstroke may be deadly. Employers have a legal obligation to safeguard their employees’ health, including:

  • A system to always investigate, record and report all related heat illness and injuries;
  • Allocate 5 to 7 days for employees (new arrivals or employees who return from vacations) to acclimatize before workers begin work in the hot season;
  • Ensure that a risk evaluation is done to determine where there are risks to heat pressure and who is at danger of heat-related disease;
  • Ensuring the implementation of an efficient heat stress program ;
  • Ensure all employees have access to drinking water ;
  • Ensure that supplied food is evaluated to provide a healthy balanced diet with nutrition, electrolytes, and calories, to sustain high-temperature work;
  • Ensuring the implementation of engineering control measures to eliminate a reasonable risk of heat exposure;
  • Ensure that all executives, supervisors, first-aid workers and staff undertake the necessary training and education;
  • Ensure that the work is self-paced and provide adequate breaks in terms of heat stress condition;
  • Ensuring immediate access to medical care for workers with suspected heat illness cases;
  • Ensure that workplaces comply with the midday break for outside staff during the summer months ;
  • Provide medical clearance for heat treatment for those suffering from chronic disease (e.g., hypertension, obesity) or those required to use certain prescription medicines.
Thermometer in Sun

Thermometer in Sun

Engineering Controls for Heat stress may include:

  • Adding ceiling insulation to reduce the transfer of solar heat;
  • Provide shaded work spaces as much as possible;
  • Providing cooled and air-conditioned resting places with accessible water or electrolyte beverages (not salt or saltwater) ;
  • Use of exhaust ventilation above heat-generating procedures such as extraction hoods;
  • Use of forced air ventilation such as fans to boost skin airflow and boost evaporation and cooling; and
  • Use of cooled air from air conditioning

In cases where these controls are not sufficient to reduce exposures to or below the applicable limit, the use of heat-protective or auxiliary body cooling clothing or equipment, such as water-cooled clothing, air-frozen clothing, cooling vests and watered over carrying, should be added to these controls. Furthermore, when the weather service predicts that a heatwave is probable to happen, a heat warning program should also be introduced and reviewed.

Linda Rawson, is the Founder of DynaGrace Enterprises, inventor of WeatherEgg, and the author of The Minority and Women-Owned Small Business Guide to Government Contracts: Everything You Need to Know to Get Started

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