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How to Recognize, Treat & Prevent Hypothermia on the Job

Anyone working in the cold is at risk for hypothermia. And while we usually think of it as an outdoor problem for agriculture or construction workers, even indoor workers in freezers and other cold environments can be susceptible.
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By M.B. Sutherland, Sr. Copywriter, Magid

Anyone working in the cold is at risk for hypothermia. And while we usually think of it as an outdoor problem for agriculture or construction workers, even indoor workers in freezers and other cold environments can be susceptible.

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What is it?




Hypothermia happens when your body loses heat faster than it can produce heat, causing a dangerously low body temperature.


An icon of a thermometer showing levels of severity of hypothermia

A shirtless man’s torso with glowing heart, veins, and arteries visible

Common Causes of Hypothermia?

Hypothermia can be caused by exposure to cold conditions or immersion in cold water. When your body temperature drops, your heart, nervous system and other organs can't function normally. Left untreated, hypothermia can lead to complete failure of your heart and respiratory system and eventually to death.

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Signs of Hypothermia


An icon of worker shivering from hypothermia

Shivering


An icon of worker with slurred speech or mumbling from hypothermia

Slurred Speech or Mumbling


An icon of worker with slow shallow breathing from hypothermia

Slow, Shallow Breathing


An icon of worker with weak pulse from hypothermia

Weak Pulse


An icon of worker who is clumsy or uncoordinated from hypothermia

Clumsiness or Lack of Coordination


An icon of worker with confusion or memory loss from hypothermia

Confusion or Memory Loss


An icon of worker with drowsiness or low energy from hypothermia

Drowsiness or Very Low Energy


An icon of worker unconscious from hypothermia

Loss of Consciousness

How to Treat Hypothermia

 

  • Call 911 or get medical help immediately if you suspect hypothermia.
  • Handle your worker with care. Excessive or vigorous movements can trigger cardiac arrest!
  • Move your worker out of the cold if possible. If not possible, shield your worker from the cold and wind.
  • Remove any wet clothing. If necessary, cut clothing away to avoid any jarring movements.
  • Cover the worker with blankets. Cover their head and leave only the face exposed.
  • If you’re outside, lay your worker on his or her back on a blanket. Don’t lay them directly on the ground.
  • Monitor breathing. A person with severe hypothermia may fall unconscious. If the person stops breathing, begin CPR if you’re trained.
  • If the person is alert, give them a warm beverage.
  • Apply a first-aid warm compress on the back of the neck, chest or groin. Don't apply a warm compress to the arms or legs. Heat applied to the arms and legs forces cold blood back toward the heart, lungs and brain, causing the core body temperature to drop even more. This can be fatal.

 

Prevention Tips

 

An icon of a winter hat and scarf

Cover Up

Make sure your workers cover their head, neck and face when working in cold conditions.

 

 

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Don't Overexert

Avoid activities that cause workers to sweat too much. Wet clothing and cold weather cause body temperatures to drop quickly.

 

 

An icon of layers of clothing

Dress in Layers

Have workers wear layers to trap heat near their body. Wool, silk or polypropylene inner layers hold body heat better than cotton does.

 

 

An icon of a drop of water surrounded by a circle and slash

Stay Dry

Make sure your workers’ cold weather gear is water repellent. If they do happen to get wet, have them get out of wet clothing as soon as possible. Make especially sure workers keep their hands and feet dry while on the job.

 

Send your workers a fast safety training video to remind them to prevent hypothermia!

Download Fun Safety Training Videos for Your Employees

Keep the safety lessons you taught in the classroom top-of-mind for your workers with short, 30 to 60-second safety reminder videos! Unlock these brief safety lessons to loop in your breakroom or to play at your toolbox talks. You can even send them to your workers’ phones for a quick reminder before a shift begins.
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Keep the safety lessons you taught in the classroom top-of-mind for your workers with short, 30 to 60-second safety reminder videos! Unlock these brief safety lessons to loop in your breakroom or to play at your toolbox talks. You can even send them to your workers’ phones for a quick reminder before a shift begins.

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The Costs of an Eye Injury

Help your workers understand the personal costs of an eye injury and how to avoid becoming a statistic!

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Wearing PPE Correctly

Keep workers from spreading bad PPE habits with this quick reminder to wear their PPE correctly.

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Ladder Safety Tips

Don’t let your workers become a statistic! Give them these 5 tips for ladder safety.

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Proper Earplug Insertion

Magid’s Fairy Ear Mother will be a sight your workers will remember – along with how to properly insert their ear plugs for safety!

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Protective Clothing for Extreme Environments

Remind your workers that they can’t cut corners on safety to get comfortable.

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Avoiding Cuts & Lacerations

Give your workers these 5 quick tips for preventing cuts and lacerations on the job.

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The Ripple Effect

Help everyone understand that the injury they’re risking affects everyone!

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Walk Like a Penguin

Demonstrate the safest way to walk across snow and ice.

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Preventing Hypothermia

Keep your workers safe and warm this winter with these quick tips to prevent hypothermia!

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When to Replace Your Work Gloves

Help your people know when to replace a worn glove, when to launder it, and when a glove is safe to continue use.

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Does a Thicker Glove Protect Better?

Show your workers when a knit glove beats a plain leather driver.

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When do You Need an Impact Glove?

Educate your employees on the proper uses of impact gloves.

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Preventing Heat Illness

Make sure your workers are staying safe and hydrated with these tips to avoid heat illness on the job.

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Preventing Heat Illness

Make sure your workers are staying safe and hydrated with these tips to avoid heat illness on the job.

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Working From Heights

Teach your workers to inspect their fall protection equipment before and after use and how to stay safe while working at a height.



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Making the Most of your Safety Reminders

Safety training isn’t a one-and-done event. It’s a dynamic and constant process of reminding workers about previous lessons and pointing out new hazards that may appear on the job. A network of safety reminders that use different methods of communication is the best way to keep safety on every worker’s mind.
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By John Heniff, Content Copywriter, Magid

Safety training isn’t a one-and-done event. It’s a dynamic and constant process of reminding workers about previous lessons and pointing out new hazards that may appear on the job. A network of safety reminders that use different methods of communication is the best way to keep safety on every worker’s mind.

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Use these tips to reinforce your safety messages!

1. Conduct Both Announced and Unannounced Safety Inspections

Your everyday coaching is a good opportunity for spontaneous correction and praise. But it can be just as important to do announced observances as well. If your workers know that they’re about to be evaluated, they may review their safety rules and discover they haven’t been doing all they should, creating a valuable learning opportunity. Additionally, watching workers doing their job in what they believe is the safest way can give you crucial information about where they need more training.

2. Rotate Safety Reminders

Your workers may be aware of safety reminder posters you have posted around your workplace. But if they see them in the same location every day, over time your reminders will start to blend into the landscape. Make a schedule to rearrange posters once a month or even once a week to keep reminders visible and on your workers’ minds.

3. Bring in Outside Experts

Think about inviting a safety professional, physical therapist, or athletic trainer to talk to your workers. You can bring them in during training or toolbox talks to go over specific topics such as utilizing better ergonomics or showcasing the differences between different kinds of safety equipment. Sometimes a special event with an unfamiliar face can make lessons more memorable.

4. Have your Workers Enforce Safety Reminders

If your workers are inspired to think constantly about their own safety as well as that of their teammates, they can serve as a second set of eyes and ears at your worksite for safety hazards. Encouraging everyone to make team safety their business helps your company maintain a vibrant and supportive safety culture even in your absence.

5. Empower and Reward your Workers

Use the power of empowerment to reward workers who keep themselves and their coworkers safe. Whether they’re reminding their teammates to be safe, actively mentoring new workers or bringing safety hazards to your attention, you can recognize them for their efforts and reward them with perks like gift cards, vacation days, or better parking spots to create a precedent for positive reinforcement in the future.

Get FREE posters to work into your rotation!

Fall Protection Plan | Safeguard Workers Against Falls from Heights

Falls are one of the most common accidents on the job. One wrong step can mean serious injury or even death from just a few feet above a lower level. In 2018 alone, 52,510 workers were injured in falls to a lower level and 615 workers died because of similar falls. And the truth is, none of those accidents had to happen. You can keep your workers safe at a height with a few easy steps.
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By John Heniff, Content Copywriter, Magid

Falls are one of the most common accidents on the job. One wrong step can mean serious injury or even death from just a few feet above a lower level. In 2018 alone, 52,510 workers were injured in falls to a lower level and 615 workers died because of similar falls. And the truth is, none of those accidents had to happen. You can keep your workers safe at a height with a few easy steps.

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Select the Best Fall Protection for Your Workers

You know your worksite better than anyone, but be sure you consider appropriate fall protection whenever the work changes. If your workers are transitioning to a new project involving working at heights, consider whether enhancements to their fall protection system or additional training may be necessary.

Teach Your Workers About Fall Protection

Once you have the tools, give your workers the information they need to stay safe.

  • Use different kinds of teaching methods to create unique training activities during safety presentations. It’s one thing to explain why workers should keep a clean workspace, but it’s another to create an activity where workers spot hazards to understand the necessity of a clean workspace at a height.
  • Send fun safety videos to your workers after trainings to keep them thinking about specific topics like guidelines for working near safety nets.
  • Place safety posters in high-traffic areas of your workplace to promote smart safety practices when you’re not on site.

In addition to your regular toolbox talks, consider an additional tailgate meeting before workers go up to an elevated jobsite. Taking this time gives you an additional opportunity to offer safety tips and ask for questions from workers.

Remind Your Workers Regularly about Common Sense Safety Rules

With so many regulations to keep track of and so much on the line, reminders are especially important when working at heights. While many reminders take place in person, you can also send workers just-in-time safety reminder lessons if you notice someone forgetting to inspect their safety harness or cutting corners in any way. You can also double-down on common sense safety lessons:

  • Teach your workers that their sense of balance is their first line of defense, even when using different kinds of fall protection. Working at a height can cause some workers to feel anxious and move more cautiously than they would on the ground, so reminding them about minding their balance can help them move and work more confidently.
  • Provide hi-vis PPE so they can easily see where their teammates are at all times.
  • Offer slip-resistant footwear to minimize the risk of slipping and falling.
  • Advocate keeping workstations and walkways neat and clear so work areas are free from tripping hazards.
  • Enforce guidelines for walking within walkway limits and using railings when available.
  • Have workers begin projects at ground-level so they can perform fewer tasks at a height.
  • Most of all, encourage workers to report any hazards they see so they can keep themselves and their coworkers safe.

Stock up on FREE safety trainings to teach your workers about slips, trips, and falls from different kinds of heights.

 

Safety Culture

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5 Ways to Deal with Opioid Use in the Workplace

Opioids can provide short-term pain relief for chronic medical conditions. But when used incorrectly, they can ruin lives.
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By John Heniff, Content Copywriter, Magid

 

Opioids can provide short-term pain relief for chronic medical conditions. But when used incorrectly, they can ruin lives.

Opioid overdoses killed more than 47,000 people in 2017. 2/3 of those struggling with Opioid Use Disorder are currently in the workforce.

Opioid use can impair a user’s thought process and reaction time while on the job. In the best case, that can simply cause a drop-off in productivity. But at its worst, it can lead to accidents and injuries to your worker or to anyone else on the job.

This increasing epidemic can seem overwhelming for safety managers, but there are some things you can do to help.

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Here are 5 actions you can take to help deal with opioids in your workplace:

Examine your Healthcare Policies

Opioid misuse often begins with an injury. Does your company offer ample medical leave and disability for injured workers? Employees struggling to go back to work while they’re still in pain are more likely to end up with a substance use disorder. Talk to your HR Department about this and ask if they can provide counseling services, health fairs, or other avenues to encourage good health for workers and their families. If your company doesn’t have a program to help addicted workers, now is the time to suggest they start one!

Implement an Anonymous Drug Disposal Program

Opioids are meant to be used on a short-term basis. Implementing a drug disposal program in your workplace can help employees resist the temptation to keep leftover medication “just in case” they have pain in the future. They can also help to keep unused or expired medications from getting into the wrong hands like children or spouses. You can set up drug disposal programs with collection methods like disposal receptacles at your workplace or with mail-back envelopes specifically designed for prescription medications.

Reverse the Stigma of Opioid Use Disorder

Use your safety meetings, toolbox talks, and one-on-one time to cultivate an environment where workers can discuss opioids or addiction without judgment or shame. Tell your employees to vocalize concerns about opioids they’ve been prescribed and how they may interfere with performing their jobs. Encouraging everyone to see Opioid Use Disorder as an illness instead of a character flaw can make people more comfortable speaking up.

Educate Workers on Pain Management

Encourage workers with chronic pain to ask their doctor about alternative methods to alleviate pain. Depending on their condition, something other than an opioid might be helpful. That may include:

  • Acupuncture
  • Massage
  • Epidurals
  • Nerve Blocks
  • Joint Injections
  • Non-opioid Pain Medication
  • Physical Therapy
  • Yoga

Let them know it’s okay to question their doctor about the safety of any prescription.

Emphasize Ergonomics to Prevent Potential Injuries

Finally, make sure your workers are mindful of tasks than can cause strains and soreness to help reduce their likelihood of developing chronic pain. Reduce pain points and highlight accident prevention to help them recognize ways they can protect their joints and extremities while performing particularly taxing jobs.

You can’t help everyone, but good communication and smart, compassionate policies and procedures can keep more of your workers healthy both on and off the job.

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Do you have a tip for other safety managers on how to handle opioid use at your workplace? Share it on our Safety Managers’ Secrets page!

Six Ways to Reduce Work Stress for Safety Managers

It’s hard to build a safety culture when you’re tearing your hair out. Being responsible for the safety of your employees is a huge job in the best of times. Add in a pandemic along with a struggling economy and your stress level may be off the charts. Cuts and lacerations, arc-flash, slips, trips, and falls – all the hazards you normally deal with are still part of the job, but now you need masks and social distancing guidelines, too. How can you keep your sanity with all you have to do? Try these six tips!
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By John Heniff, Content Copywriter, Magid

It’s hard to build a safety culture when you’re tearing your hair out. Being responsible for the safety of your employees is a huge job in the best of times. Add in a pandemic along with a struggling economy and your stress level may be off the charts. Cuts and lacerations, arc-flash, slips, trips, and falls – all the hazards you normally deal with are still part of the job, but now you need masks and social distancing guidelines, too. How can you keep your sanity with all you have to do? Try these six tips!

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Stress Relievers to Make Your Job Easier

1. Plan Time to Plan

No matter what else is going on in the world, your company’s leaders expect production as usual and your customers are still looking to get their orders filled. That doesn’t mean you have to start putting out fires the moment you arrive for the day. Take ten minutes first thing in the morning to clear your head and organize and plan your schedule for the day or even for the week. Use digital calendars and planner apps to keep you organized and block out time when you need it. There’s nothing wrong with a planning meeting you schedule with yourself!

2. Reassess Your Routines and Schedules

Time is the biggest constraint for most safety managers. Carve out some time to audit your work schedules and daily routines to find inefficiencies. Although reworking larger operations can be a massive investment of time and energy, making smaller changes can be a fast and easy way to cut out redundant tasks and find opportunities to delegate.

3. Delegate Tasks to your People

You can’t do it all yourself. Delegating tasks to some of your best employees will free up your time and give you more breathing room in your busy schedule. Your safety committee is a good place to find enthusiastic employees who want to make your workplace safer and perhaps even move up the ladder to take on more responsibility. Find your safety leaders and leverage them to reduce your own stress!

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Stress Relievers to Take Care of Yourself

4. Monitor your Stressors

Never forget that you’re just as human as your employees! Chronic stress can lead to symptoms like anxiety and high blood pressure as well as unhealthy coping habits like overeating. If you recognize situations that cause stress symptoms like headaches, stomachaches, anger, or frustration, take a moment to consciously note what set that stress in motion. Over time, you may be able to recognize these stressors when they occur so you can figure out how to change what’s causing them. For example, if you find yourself stressing every time you need to remind employees to wear their safety glasses, you can think about implementing new mentoring or training programs or even posting more safety reminders to take some of the pressure off of you.

5. Give Yourself a Break

When you feel the stress building, take a moment to step back and re-center your focus. Get up and stretch or walk around to get your blood flowing and switch your focus for a short while. Even closing your eyes and concentrating on your breathing for a few moments can slow your heartbeat and stabilize your blood pressure to help you think more clearly when you return to the task at hand.

6. Establish Boundaries

Establish boundaries to start or end your day on a controlled, focused note. Listen to music, your favorite sports radio, or a book on tape during your commute instead of thinking about work. After work, avoid checking your phone during dinner or family time so you can maintain a firm barrier between your work life and your home life, when possible.

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How to Keep Workers Motivated in Tough Times

It can be a challenge to keep people motivated and productive in the best of times, but keeping employees energized and working safely takes even more effort during a crisis. It’s natural for managers to ask people to pull together, but you can make that more likely by digging down to understand human motivation.
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By M.B. Sutherland, Sr. Copywriter, Magid

It can be a challenge to keep people motivated and productive in the best of times, but keeping employees energized and working safely takes even more effort during a crisis. It’s natural for managers to ask people to pull together, but you can make that more likely by digging down to understand human motivation.

What Motivates People?

A recent Harvard Business School article identified four basic drives that motivate most of us. The drive to:

  • Acquire – to get things they need and want
  • Bond – to feel they’re part of a community
  • Comprehend – to understand their circumstances and options
  • Defend – to keep what’s theirs

The more you fill these four basic (ABCD) needs, the better your chance of upping your team’s motivation.

icon of a hand with money

Acquire—Offer Extra Compensation in Tough Times

We all need the basics of survival. In our society, that usually means we need money. Many companies have offered extra hazard pay for workers in the pandemic, but not every manager has that option. Even if you can’t give a paycheck boost, you can still provide incentives to help people feel motivated and appreciated.

  • Give Small Rewards – offer small gestures like a cool-looking pair of safety glasses for every worker, or a box of disposable masks to take home for their family’s use.
  • Add Paid Time – double up on paid break times once a week to give people a few extra minutes to gather their thoughts or step outside for some air.
  • Offer Special Treats – hold Free-Lunch-Friday once a month with a special meal to show your appreciation or bring in bagels or donuts to start the day.
  • Get Creative – find inexpensive ways that add a little fun like handing out lottery tickets to the first few people to arrive for the day to see if someone gets lucky.

Whatever you decide to offer can satisfy people’s need to get extra compensation for extra effort – even if that effort is just showing up for work during a crisis.

icon of electronics

Bond—Increase (Safe) Togetherness

The pandemic has made it harder than ever to keep a sense of community as we’ve been forced to limit our social interactions, cover our faces, and stand six feet away when we interact. But there are ways you can compensate to try to keep your facility or jobsite as normal as possible.

  • Keep Holding Toolbox Talks – the need for social distancing may make you consider holding fewer gatherings. But these meetings serve a vital purpose in issuing safety reminders, making sure everyone understands the day’s plans, and giving people an opportunity to ask questions. Even if you need to shrink your meetings or have people spread out across the job floor while you amplify your voice, you may still be able to gather as a group and give everyone a chance to lay eyes on each other.
  • Increase One-on-One Time – take some time to check in with as many employees as possible to see how they’re coping. Schedule a socially distanced break or lunch with a different person each day or once a week. Take the time to find out how the pandemic is affecting them and their families.
  • Take Advantage of Electronics – with a cell phone in every pocket, you may be able to start your team’s day by sending a text or email with a safety reminder or even just a quick motivational message. Hold safety meetings via phone-based meeting apps, or even use your breakroom screens or message boards to play fun safety reminder videos. Messages that everyone sees become a shared experience and increase the sense of community.

icon of a training presentation

Comprehend–Keep the Information Flowing

Communication may be the most powerful tool in your arsenal when it comes to motivating workers. Nobody likes to be left in the dark. Modeling calm information sharing gives employees a sense that they know what’s going on and that they have the opportunity to contribute.

  • Maintain Your Training – it can be tempting to minimize training time right now since it’s hard to get people together in one space. But it’s a better idea to increase training during times of crisis when procedures may need to change, and stressed workers may be more distracted.
  • Assign Mentors to New Employees – deputize some of your veteran workers to look out for the newbies. It allows more experienced workers to deliver safety messages in person along with advice and information.
  • Host an Expert – if workers are struggling with feeling safe in the workplace as a result of COVID-19, consider asking a medical doctor to give a remote or socially distanced talk where workers can ask questions and separate fact from fiction.

icon of a head with a heart to symbolize mental health

Defend–Eliminate Uncertainty Where You Can

The word defend usually conjures up mental images of war. But on the job, it refers to feeling that one’s job is secure and won’t be taken away on a whim.

  • Empower Workers – provide a sense of empowerment by assigning a point person to be in charge of the safety of each work area, including any new protocols for limiting germ spread.
  • Avoid Surprises – whenever possible, if something is changing, make sure everyone knows about it in advance and knows why it’s happening. Even if you have bad news, it’s almost always better to be up front than to let the gossip start.
  • Create a Psychologically Healthy Workplace – ill health isn’t all about the virus. With so much stress and uncertainty, it’s easy for people’s mental health to slip too. Send a clear message that you’re there for your employees and that they can come to you or to your HR Department for help with problems. A little mindfulness and caring today may avoid an accident tomorrow.
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Get the tools you need to motivate workers, no matter where they are!

 

Is Double Masking Necessary?

The news is full of stories on double masking and it’s brought up a lot of questions. Is it necessary? Who should and shouldn’t do it? Does it really help? It’s brand new territory. While the situation is still developing and there aren’t many hard and fast rules, there are some things you can keep in mind to stay safer.
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By M.B. Sutherland, Sr. Copywriter, Magid

The news is full of stories on double masking and it’s brought up a lot of questions. Is it necessary? Who should and shouldn’t do it? Does it really help? It’s brand new territory. While the situation is still developing and there aren’t many hard and fast rules, there are some things you can keep in mind to stay safer.

icon showing an N95 mask with a medical mask over top.

Why Do Doctors Double Mask?

In the past, medical professionals used a new N95 mask for each patient they saw. So they’d don a mask, see a patient, discard the mask. Don a new mask, see the next patient, etc. With so many patients in the pandemic, and early shortages of N95’s, they needed to make those masks last as long as possible. The solution was to wear a base N95 and cover it with a cloth or surgical mask. That way, the outer mask could be discarded after each patient while preserving the N95 for longer wear.

Obviously, this isn’t a concern in the industrial realm as workers routinely wear the same N95 for a full day’s work. But with new, more contagious, and possibly more deadly strains of COVID-19 spreading around the world, people are beginning to ask if two masks might be better than one.

In a recent Today Show interview, Dr. Anthony Fauci explained that “if you have a physical covering with one layer, you put another layer on, it just makes common sense that it likely would be more effective. And that’s the reason why you see people either double masking or doing a version of an N95.”

While more protection sounds better, other physicians caution that two masks don’t double your protection. Dr. Graham Snyder, a Wake Med Emergency Physical in Raleigh, North Carolina recently explained in a local ABC7 news interview that two masks do “decrease the transmission of the virus” but “by a small amount.” He said it won’t mean there is no risk at all, and stressed that two masks do not provide a big jump in protection.

When Should You Double Mask?

With an unknown boost in protection, it becomes a personal choice to double or single mask. But there are some situations that may make double masking a better idea.

  1. If social distancing is a challenge – while we’re all supposed to stay 6 feet away from people outside our immediate household, this can sometimes be a challenge both in public places and sometimes even at work. If you find yourself in close contact with others frequently or for several minutes at a time, a second mask might help to up your protection.
  2. If you don’t have access to masks with higher levels of protectionN95 disposable respirators are the gold standard in disposable masks, but they’re not always available. Other masks offer some protection, but a recent study showed significant differences in effectiveness.
Type of Face Covering % of Aerosol Particles Blocked
N95 Respirator 99%
Double-Layer Folded Polyester Neck Gaiter 60%
Medical Procedure Mask 59%
Commercial 3-ply Cloth Face Mask 51%
Single-Layer Polyester Neck Gaiter 47%
Commercial Disposable Face Shield 2%
*Source: Joint Study from the CDC and NIOSH

If you only have cloth or medical-type masks available, it might make sense to add another layer of protection. Weighing into the debate, a recent study by the CDC showed that this specific combination (a cloth mask over a medical-type mask) may reduce exposure by 90% or more, in part because it fits the masks more tightly to the wearer's face.

What to Remember if You Double Mask

There are three important factors to consider if you choose to double mask – comfort, safety, and the quality and reliability of your supply.

  • Comfort when Double Masking – make sure you can breathe! An anecdotal test in our office showed that a tight-fitting cloth mask on top of an N95 produced a fairly claustrophobic feeling. A better idea might be to choose a mask with a snug fit like an N95 as your base layer, with a looser face covering like a gaiter on top. Be sure you leave room for air flow between the masks so you’re not just trying to suck air through thicker and thicker fabric.
  • Safety when Double Masking – while two masks may impart more protection, that won’t be the case if one mask interferes with the other. For example, wearing two masks that both employ ear loops to stay on may actually make both masks more prone to falling off or gapping if the loops are too thick to stay snug behind your ears. Also, as in the example above, if the top mask is tight enough to cause the bottom mask to gap, you’re making yourself more vulnerable, not less.
  • Quality and Uninterrupted Supply – the pandemic presented many challenges early on with poor quality masks and disrupted supply chains. Be sure the company supplying your gear is up to the task. Kelly Graham, Product Manager at Magid, leads a COVID-19 product task force that monitors inventory, new solutions, and quality. “Supply chain got more complicated in 2020 certainly, but solid relationships with our vendors and suppliers continues to allow us to provide reliable PPE without interruption or long lead times.”

As with most things in the pandemic, the science is still evolving and recommendations may change as we go along. For now, take all of these factors into account when deciding to single or double mask.

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Find all your options in protection.

 

PPE: Choosing & Using

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When Should You Replace Your Work Gloves?

If you’re wondering whether your tires are still safe to drive, you can check the tread wear with a penny! But how do you know if your work gloves are too worn out to keep you safe? There’s no reliable trick like there is for tires. It’s more a judgement call your workers can make if you give them the right information.
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By M.B. Sutherland, Sr. Copywriter, Magid

If you’re wondering whether your tires are still safe to drive, you can check the tread wear with a penny! But how do you know if your work gloves are too worn out to keep you safe? There’s no reliable trick like there is for tires. It’s more a judgement call your workers can make if you give them the right information.

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What happens when work gloves get too worn?

When your gloves begin to wear out, the very injuries your PPE is supposed to protect you from become more likely. Some common warning signs include:

Icon representing finding a worn spot on work gloves.

Worn Spots

Icon representing finding snags on work gloves.

Snags

Icon representing finding pulls in knits glove shell.

Pulls in a knit glove shell

Icon representing finding peeling palm coating on work gloves.

Peeling palm coatings


Ignoring these may compromise a glove’s cut and puncture resistance – and that can allow metal shards or other hazards through. A worn palm coating can also compromise grip, causing tools or materials to slip.

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Excessive Glove Soiling

It can be hard to see wear if your gloves are dirty. Be sure to launder them before they become too soiled to visually check for safety. This can not only help in identifying a worn glove, but it can make your PPE last longer! Be sure to check laundering guidelines for your particular item. While many can be washed in a home machine, some require professional laundering.

How to Determine Signs of Wear in Work Gloves

Image of a work glove being laundered

Soil or Saturation

Always follow manufacturer’s washing instructions when a glove is soiled or saturated.

Image of a soiled and saturated glove to be laundered

Image of a work glove being monitored for wear

Light Wear

A used glove won’t look brand new, but light wear can still be safe. Stay on the lookout for further wear!

Image of a glove that has light wear that needs to be monitored

Image of a work glove being monitored for wear

Light Soil

A little soil is acceptable as long as it doesn’t compromise glove usability or make it hard to check for wear.

Image of a glove that has been lightly soiled and needs to be monitored

Image of when to replace a work glove

Thin Spots

Thin spots in the shell of your glove can compromise cut, abrasion, and puncture resistance. Thin spots in your glove coating can compromise grip.

Image of a glove that has thin spots on the glove coating and needs to be discarded and replaced

Image of when to replace a work glove

Holes, Tears, or Pulls

Never use a glove that has visible holes, tears, or pulls. A damaged glove is an unsafe glove!

Image of a glove with holes that needs to be discarded and replaced

Image of when to replace a work glove

Excessive Soil or Saturation

If a glove is deeply soiled or saturated with oils or chemicals, it may be too far gone to launder.

Image of a glove with excessive saturation that needs to be discarded and replaced

Avoid Safety Accidents Due to Excessive Glove Wear

The best way to keep everyone’s gloves in tip top shape is to require your workers to carefully examine their PPE before every shift. They should also check their gloves periodically throughout the work day as glove wear and damage accumulate on the job. Making these habits part of their routine will help to reduce incidents due to glove wear. And since wearing or discarding is a judgement call, help your workers make the right decision by posting guidelines. Be sure they know that it’s always better to toss a glove too early than to risk an injury and that if they’re not sure, to consult their safety manager!

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Tips to Avoid the High Price of Disposable PPE

Everything you do is about keeping people healthy and well. But unpredictable times may require new solutions to keep everyone safe without disrupting your company’s bottom line. The price explosion in disposable gloves and clothing is a good example of an area that could use some creative thinking.
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By M.B. Sutherland, Sr. Copywriter, Magid

Everything you do is about keeping people healthy and well. But unpredictable times may require new solutions to keep everyone safe without disrupting your company’s bottom line. The price explosion in disposable gloves and clothing is a good example of an area that could use some creative thinking.

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Why Are Disposable PPE Prices So High?

The disposable PPE market has experienced what could be called a perfect storm of issues since early 2020. Rubber trees, which are the natural source of materials like nitrile and latex, only grow in hot, tropical climates. Because of this, single-use nitrile and latex gloves are exported almost entirely from the two countries that have developed a significant rubber trade - China and Malaysia.

The steep increase in the need for disposable gloves due to COVID-19, combined with the toll the virus took on these source countries caused shutdowns followed by a slow, gradual return to production. As the world continues to struggle with the virus, these materials also continue to be less available than ever before and that has caused prices to skyrocket as much as 340%, with some items increasing as much as 1,200%. If buyers don’t “bid up” and pay the increased prices, the materials go to higher bidders. In many cases, cash buyers jump ahead of the line to buy as much stock as they can in order to resell it at exorbitant prices.

To make matters worse for both industrial end-users and consumers, all disposable glove suppliers are in the same situation. So customers can’t simply move on to another company to find a better price. Instead, prices are in constant flux as buyers are forced to agree to pay market price upon shipment, no matter what the price was when they initially placed an order. This situation is expected to last at least through 2021.

Disposable PPE that Costs Less

Fortunately, you do have some options that are worth exploring. Start by reviewing the disposable gloves and garments you’re used to buying.

Disposable Gloves

Disposable gloves have different issues depending on what you use. Nitrile is a common type of disposable glove that many companies switched to when latex allergies became more common. As of this writing, nitrile glove prices are the most volatile due to the shortage of raw materials. These are the gloves experiencing the incredible, sometimes over 1,000%, increases in price.

Material Substitutes –
Start by reviewing all the nitrile glove applications in your facility to see if you might be able to use an alternative without affecting your processes or safety.


  • Vinyl Gloves – prices have not increased dramatically, but there has been a huge uptick in demand for these gloves, making it harder to find a reliable supply.
  • Latex Gloves – prices are also steady, but it may be harder to find variations in these gloves as manufacturers are reducing sku’s and in some cases, making as few as just one type and size of glove so they can make large amounts without switching machines and materials to provide variation.
  • Powdered Gloves – powdered gloves of all types are harder to get as suppliers try to simplify their production lines. An alternative possibility for those who need powdered is to buy regular gloves and supply glove dust in your facility to add where needed, if you can do so safely.
  • Material Blends – some gloves are made with a blend of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and nitrile to create a less expensive glove that performs the same as a full nitrile glove. These gloves are less expensive than traditional nitrile, but may be harder to find.

Disposable Garments

Disposable garment supplies pose different challenges depending on what you buy. While garments made of high-density polyethylene are not significantly more expensive right now, they are harder to get since they come from just one large U.S. supplier that is struggling to keep up with the increased demand in the pandemic.

Material Substitutes –

  • Consider disposable garments that are made of Spunbound Meltblown Spunbound (SMS) polypropylene. The name sounds repetitive and so is the material, which is made of one layer of spunbound polypropylene, a middle layer of meltblown polypropylene, and a third layer of spunbond polypropylene. Both SMS and high-density polyethylene materials perform similarly, but SMS materials are made by more than one manufacturer, so it’s easier to find.
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Alternatives to Disposable Gloves

Depending on your work environment and application, you may also be able to save significantly on costs by moving away from disposable gloves entirely. The advent of thinner, more dexterous knit glove shells along with improvements in liquid and oil-resistant glove coatings provide gloves that offer an alternative to single-use disposables for barrier protection. These gloves start out more expensive per pair, but with reuse and laundering, cost savings on the life of a glove can be significant.

While it may seem counterintuitive to go from relatively cheap disposables to more expensive multiple-use gloves, the benefits and cost savings become obvious when you compare attributes and total cost of ownership. This table compares disposable nitrile gloves to Magid’s specially coated general purpose knit gloves.

Image of a knit glove

  Disposable Nitrile Glove Lightweight Work Glove with TriTek Palm Coating
Glove Attributes Liquid protection only. No specialized grip or abrasion resistance. Advanced Oil Grip. Minimizes saturation in heavy liquid and oil and provides high abrasion resistance.
Non-breathable. Traps sweat and can lead to skin irritation. Breathable. Allows sweat to evaporate and reduces irritation.
Single use. Workers go through multiple gloves each day. Reusable. Machine-washable shell lasts 20x longer than disposable, so workers can go days, weeks, or even months with the same pair.
Rising, unpredictable cost and supply. Reasonable cost, no supply issues.
Total Cost of Ownership based on 1,000 Employees Cost per pair: $0.31   Cost per pair: $2.80  
Monthly pairs per employee: 172   Monthly pairs per employee: 6  
  Annualized Spend: $639,840   Annualized Spend: $201,600
    68% Cost Savings
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Alternative to Double-Gloving

Image of coated work gloves

Coated work gloves are also a good alternative if you’re using disposale gloves as a moisture liner under a cut-resistant glove. Cut-resistant, knit work gloves are now available in both palm coated and ¾ coated gloves to keep hands dry and comfortable without the need for double gloving.

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Necessity is the Mother of Invention

While reusable gloves are not always viable for some applications like medical and foodservice use, industrial applications may find them to be a valuable alternative that saves you both money and the hassle of chasing inventory.

How Effective Are Masks for Protecting Your Workers?

The whole world has been talking about masks for most of 2020. And while it’s commonly acknowledged that we need masks to stop the spread of COVID-19, it’s been less clear which type we should choose. But now with a joint study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), we finally have peer reviewed data to help us rank the effectiveness of various types of masks.
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By M.B. Sutherland, Sr. Copywriter, Magid

The whole world has been talking about masks for most of 2020. And while it’s commonly acknowledged that we need masks to stop the spread of COVID-19, it’s been less clear which type we should choose. But now with a joint study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), we finally have peer reviewed data to help us rank the effectiveness of various types of masks.

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Understanding the Virus Spread

The World Health Organization tells us that COVID-19 is spread via particles from an infected person’s mouth and nose, emitted when they do things that expel air like coughing, sneezing or even just talking. Many people initially focused on the very small size of the virus itself (about .1 micron) and worried that masks wouldn’t filter out such tiny bits. But it’s important to remember that people don’t just sneeze out virus particles. The particles hitch a ride on other substances.

It’s an unsavory fact of being human that while we’re talking, singing, coughing, etc., we’re actually shooting out liquid droplets. While the droplets are small enough that we don’t generally notice, they’re much larger than the virus itself and they can contain the virus.

COVID Virus

COVID Virus

.1 micron

Aerolized Droplet

Aerosolized Droplet
(ex. coughing, singing, talking)

1 micron

Large Droplet

Large Droplet
(ex. sneezing)

100 microns

How Masks Help Prevent the Spread of COVID-19

It’s possible to come directly into contact with a larger infected droplet that measures around 100 microns or smaller—for example from someone sneezing near you. But droplets can also be aerosolized into a form that measures around 1 micron—for example when someone coughs into the open air or talks for a time in a poorly ventilated room. These aerosolized droplets can hang around in the air for hours waiting for an unmasked or improperly masked person to breathe them in. But a properly worn mask can protect the wearer by filtering airborne droplets before they enter the lungs and they can protect others by preventing expelled droplets from getting into the air in the first place.

Since we know that N95 masks are designed to filter particles down to about .3 microns, disposable N95 respirators are the obvious frontrunner in terms of protection. But the lack of availability and desire to leave these masks for medical uses has left the rest of us choosing a mask type and hoping for the best. The new study took the time to test a variety of masks using a cough aerosol simulator that put out droplets from 0 to 7 microns in size. They looked at different types and thicknesses of masks and measured how many particles were able to travel through and around them.

Type of Face Covering % of Aerosol Particles Blocked
N95 Respirator 99%
Double-Layer Folded Polyester Neck Gaiter 60%
Medical Procedure Mask 59%
Commercial 3-ply Cloth Face Mask 51%
Single-Layer Polyester Neck Gaiter 47%
Commercial Disposable Face Shield 2%

N95 respirators scored about as expected at the head of the pack. Double-layer folded polyester neck gaiters and medical procedure masks are essentially tied for second place at around 60% effectiveness, with 3-ply cloth masks and single-layer gaiters taking a close third at around 50%. Unsurprisingly, a face shield alone yields almost no protection at all at 2% and might best be used along with a mask as add-on protection against liquid spatter.

Real World Application of the Mask Study

Obviously, this is valuable information and it can help you in determining what kind of masks your employees need on the job. But it’s important to consider the study’s real-world applications as well.

  1. Proper Mask Fitting and Wear – keep in mind that this study looked at masks that were properly fitted. An incorrectly fitted or sloppily worn mask may be worse than no mask at all as it may cause the wearer to skimp on other factors like social distancing. Be sure everyone understands how to properly wear their mask.
  2. Mask Removal – remember that if a mask is preventing respiratory droplets from getting into the air or into the lungs, that means those potentially infectious droplets are on the mask. It’s important for employees to remember that they should remove masks by the ear loops or head straps without touching the mask shell or surface and wash their hands both before and after they use a mask.
  3. The Other 40 to 50% – most of these face coverings scored well, but none of them made it to 100%. This makes it vital to impress upon your employees that, even masked, they still need to social distance and take any other necessary precautions. In addition, it demonstrates that measures to change your HVAC air mix, provide good ventilation, etc. are as vital as ever.
  4. Work Environment – be sure to take your work environment into account when you choose a mask. If workers are too hot or uncomfortable in their mask, they’ll be temped to pull it down to cool off. Cooling neck gaiters and masks that actively cool the wearer and even pull moisture and heat away from the skin may be ideal for warmer conditions or long-term wear.
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NIOSH Approved Masks
NIOSH Approved Masks

 

Get the latest advice and products to help prevent COVID spread
in your facility or jobsite.

 

Is Double Masking Necessary?

The news is full of stories on double masking and it’s brought up a lot of questions. Is it necessary? Who should and shouldn’t do it? Does it really help? It’s brand new territory. While the situation is still developing and there aren’t many hard and fast rules, there are some things you can keep in mind to stay safer.
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By M.B. Sutherland, Sr. Copywriter, Magid

The news is full of stories on double masking and it’s brought up a lot of questions. Is it necessary? Who should and shouldn’t do it? Does it really help? It’s brand new territory. While the situation is still developing and there aren’t many hard and fast rules, there are some things you can keep in mind to stay safer.

icon showing an N95 mask with a medical mask over top.

Why Do Doctors Double Mask?

In the past, medical professionals used a new N95 mask for each patient they saw. So they’d don a mask, see a patient, discard the mask. Don a new mask, see the next patient, etc. With so many patients in the pandemic, and early shortages of N95’s, they needed to make those masks last as long as possible. The solution was to wear a base N95 and cover it with a cloth or surgical mask. That way, the outer mask could be discarded after each patient while preserving the N95 for longer wear.

Obviously, this isn’t a concern in the industrial realm as workers routinely wear the same N95 for a full day’s work. But with new, more contagious, and possibly more deadly strains of COVID-19 spreading around the world, people are beginning to ask if two masks might be better than one.

In a recent Today Show interview, Dr. Anthony Fauci explained that “if you have a physical covering with one layer, you put another layer on, it just makes common sense that it likely would be more effective. And that’s the reason why you see people either double masking or doing a version of an N95.”

While more protection sounds better, other physicians caution that two masks don’t double your protection. Dr. Graham Snyder, a Wake Med Emergency Physical in Raleigh, North Carolina recently explained in a local ABC7 news interview that two masks do “decrease the transmission of the virus” but “by a small amount.” He said it won’t mean there is no risk at all, and stressed that two masks do not provide a big jump in protection.

When Should You Double Mask?

With an unknown boost in protection, it becomes a personal choice to double or single mask. But there are some situations that may make double masking a better idea.

  1. If social distancing is a challenge – while we’re all supposed to stay 6 feet away from people outside our immediate household, this can sometimes be a challenge both in public places and sometimes even at work. If you find yourself in close contact with others frequently or for several minutes at a time, a second mask might help to up your protection.
  2. If you don’t have access to masks with higher levels of protectionN95 disposable respirators are the gold standard in disposable masks, but they’re not always available. Other masks offer some protection, but a recent study showed significant differences in effectiveness.
Type of Face Covering % of Aerosol Particles Blocked
N95 Respirator 99%
Double-Layer Folded Polyester Neck Gaiter 60%
Medical Procedure Mask 59%
Commercial 3-ply Cloth Face Mask 51%
Single-Layer Polyester Neck Gaiter 47%
Commercial Disposable Face Shield 2%
*Source: Joint Study from the CDC and NIOSH

If you only have cloth or medical-type masks available, it might make sense to add another layer of protection. Weighing into the debate, a recent study by the CDC showed that this specific combination (a cloth mask over a medical-type mask) may reduce exposure by 90% or more, in part because it fits the masks more tightly to the wearer's face.

What to Remember if You Double Mask

There are three important factors to consider if you choose to double mask – comfort, safety, and the quality and reliability of your supply.

  • Comfort when Double Masking – make sure you can breathe! An anecdotal test in our office showed that a tight-fitting cloth mask on top of an N95 produced a fairly claustrophobic feeling. A better idea might be to choose a mask with a snug fit like an N95 as your base layer, with a looser face covering like a gaiter on top. Be sure you leave room for air flow between the masks so you’re not just trying to suck air through thicker and thicker fabric.
  • Safety when Double Masking – while two masks may impart more protection, that won’t be the case if one mask interferes with the other. For example, wearing two masks that both employ ear loops to stay on may actually make both masks more prone to falling off or gapping if the loops are too thick to stay snug behind your ears. Also, as in the example above, if the top mask is tight enough to cause the bottom mask to gap, you’re making yourself more vulnerable, not less.
  • Quality and Uninterrupted Supply – the pandemic presented many challenges early on with poor quality masks and disrupted supply chains. Be sure the company supplying your gear is up to the task. Kelly Graham, Product Manager at Magid, leads a COVID-19 product task force that monitors inventory, new solutions, and quality. “Supply chain got more complicated in 2020 certainly, but solid relationships with our vendors and suppliers continues to allow us to provide reliable PPE without interruption or long lead times.”

As with most things in the pandemic, the science is still evolving and recommendations may change as we go along. For now, take all of these factors into account when deciding to single or double mask.

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Find all your options in protection.

 

Safety Managers' Secrets

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Give a Safety Pop Quiz

I like to give my workers random safety pop quizzes for a prize. For example, I’ll ask if anyone can recite at least five of our ten safety protocols. If they can, they get a t-shirt.
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I like to give my workers random safety pop quizzes for a prize. For example, I’ll ask if anyone can recite at least five of our ten safety protocols. If they can, they get a t-shirt.

Have a Company "Ice Cream Man"

As a Texas-based refinery company, we have workers scattered over a large area working in the field. It can be hard to keep them hydrated and cool in the scorching summer heat. We assigned a company “ice cream man” who drove around from site to site with frozen electrolyte pops. The guys are always happy to see the truck coming their way and excited to get a little something to cool them down!
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As a Texas-based refinery company, we have workers scattered over a large area working in the field. It can be hard to keep them hydrated and cool in the scorching summer heat. We assigned a company “ice cream man” who drove around from site to site with frozen electrolyte pops. The guys are always happy to see the truck coming their way and excited to get a little something to cool them down!

Eyes on Safety

I walk around the facility carrying ping pong balls with eyes on them. Whenever workers aren’t wearing their safety glasses – I give them an “eye” as a friendly reminder to put on their gear. It’s a fun way to enforce safety.
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I walk around the facility carrying ping pong balls with eyes on them. Whenever workers aren’t wearing their safety glasses – I give them an “eye” as a friendly reminder to put on their gear. It’s a fun way to enforce safety.

Take PPE Home

We encourage our workers to take their PPE home with them so they can implement their safety training outside of work. We are proud to have so many employees who take safety seriously in all aspects of their lives. We had an employee who experienced a laceration incident at home. He was wearing his PPE when it happened and it saved him from what would have been a severed finger. While he has always known that the proper PPE is key to staying safe and in one piece, he says he’s a true believer now. That experience helped reinforce for him the importance of the proper safety equipment. After all, gloves are cheaper than stitches!
Read More

We encourage our workers to take their PPE home with them so they can implement their safety training outside of work. We are proud to have so many employees who take safety seriously in all aspects of their lives. We had an employee who experienced a laceration incident at home. He was wearing his PPE when it happened and it saved him from what would have been a severed finger. While he has always known that the proper PPE is key to staying safe and in one piece, he says he’s a true believer now. That experience helped reinforce for him the importance of the proper safety equipment. After all, gloves are cheaper than stitches!