June workplace safety topics include ergonomics while driving, national ride to work day and national trailer safety week. June is also National Safety Month—but that shouldn’t only apply to the workplace. Talking about off-the-job safety is an important way to ensure employees are thinking about safety around the clock. By incorporating elements of off-the-job safety into safety meetings or toolbox talks, not only are you ensuring that your workers will show up to work healthy each day but you’re also letting them know that you care (which goes a long way toward improving employee engagement).
Don’t Let Lightning Strike
Lightning Safety Awareness Week is observed every year in the third full week of June. For those who believe the myth that lightning doesn’t strike the same place twice, this information will help demonstrate why it’s important not to overlook the risk of lightning.
The National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) National Severe Storms Laboratory (NSSL) defines lightning as a giant spark of electricity in the atmosphere between clouds, the air, or the ground. Air acts as an insulator between the positive and negative charges between the cloud and the ground, and a lightning strike is the same as an electrical shock.
According to National Geographic, lightning strikes kill more Americans each year than either tornadoes or hurricanes. While most people don’t think of lightning as a threat, the fact that being struck by lightning has the same effect as being electrocuted should provide a different perspective. National Geographic reports that cloud-to-ground lightning bolts are so common that about 100 strike the Earth’s surface every single second. Each bolt can contain up to one billion volts of electricity.
Lightning strikes cause more deaths on weekends than during the week, meaning off-the-job safety measures have to be in full force when people are away from work. Potential lightning strike injuries include burns, loss of consciousness, cardiac arrest, lasting neurological conditions or worse.
There are a lot of misconceptions about what to do in a thunderstorm. Since the consequences of being struck by lightning are severe, here are several off-the-job safety precautions that could be the difference between life and death when it comes to thunderstorms:
- When you hear thunder, avoid open structures and find a safe enclosed shelter (house, office, hard roof car)
- Avoid windows, and doors and stay off porches
- Avoid using plumbing as much as possible—sinks, showers, baths and toilets
- Stay off computers and other electrical equipment that put you in direct contact with electricity
- Avoid concrete floors and walls that could have metal bars (conductors) throughout
- If you’re caught outdoors during a storm, never take cover under a tree or near a telephone pole—lightning tends to strike the tallest objects
- Get off elevated areas like hills, mountains or peaks
- Steer clear of electricity conductors like power lines, barbed wire fences, windmills, and similar objects.
- Get out of/away from bodies of water
- Never lie flat on the ground
Wait 30 minutes after the last sound of thunder before returning to normal activities outside.
CPR and AED Awareness
National CPR and AED Awareness Week runs from June 1 to 7, 2023 and aims to educate people on the importance of cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) techniques and automated external defibrillator (AED) use. The reason this awareness week is important for off-the-job safety is because workplaces are required to have people trained in CPR and AED in the event of an emergency but off-the-job becomes luck of the draw based on who’s around at the time disaster strikes.
Situations that warrant CPR include incidents where people collapse, are unconscious or got electrocuted (once the victim is safe/away from the power source). If someone is not breathing or has abnormal breathing, they may need CPR. In cardiac arrest situations, they may continue to breathe for a while but if they start gasping for breath, CPR needs to begin right away. Drowning is another situation where CPR is required in order to increase the chances of survival.
There are several instances when CPR is not recommended. If the scene is hazardous, the worst thing a person can do is jump in and try to help. It could potentially create more victims for emergency responders to tend to. The best thing you can do in dangerous situations is call emergency medical services and stay close to the scene to provide details until emergency services can take over. Another situation where CPR is not helpful is when the victim is breathing normally. In situations like this, calling 911 and waiting for healthcare providers to arrive is the best way to help. Finally, if something doesn’t feel quite right about the victim, trust your instincts. Often criminals prey on unsuspecting people by staging a fake medical emergency. If you come across someone in distress but you suspect that something isn’t right, just dial 911 to seek help—at the very least, if the person is in distress, they’ll get the help they need.
AEDs are used to revive someone from sudden cardiac arrest—somewhat like what you see on TV with the paddles giving a shock to a flat-lined pulse. While this device is not likely to be found at home, there have been many instances in local sports facilities where a medical emergency happened and there was no one around who knew how to use the AED. The more people that know how to use these devices, the better the chance of survival in situations like the one mentioned above.
CPR and AED training is often paid for by companies so that they have a reserve of trained people on staff in the case of an emergency. This is a good thing to check on and communicate with staff since they might be able to take the training without having to incur the expense themselves.
The best thing you can do to help your employees off the job is to provide more information about these topics on the job. Since June is National Safety Month, considering safety both on and off the job is key. Develop posters, toolbox talks, or handouts, or discuss these topics in your safety meetings.