ES&H Tips of
the Week Archive

Every Monday, a new Safety Tip of the Week appears in Fermilab Today, Fermilab's daily email publication for employees, users and subscribers. Safety Tips of the Week remind employees and users of ways to prevent injuries and illnesses. We hope that these safety tips will encourage you to work safely all week.

ES&H Tips of the Week Archive - 2011

 Dec. 12, 2011
 Keep the holidays fun and safe

The holiday season brings many joys: family gatherings, entertaining and festive decorations. However, sometimes the holiday season also brings unexpected risks into your home and workplace.

Here are a few tips to help make your holidays safe:

Decorate with non-combustible or flame-resistant materials.

Check for frayed wires, broken sockets or loose connections. Check labels to be sure about the proper use of indoor and outdoor lights.

 Dec. 05, 2011
 Updating computer systems

It is important for laboratory computer users to keep their systems up-to-date to avoid malware. Keeping up with computer security measures also helps to keep costs down.

Older systems no longer receive security patches from vendors, making those systems vulnerable to all new security exploits. We have many examples of an unpatched system being hacked within minutes of appearing on the network so operating an out-of-date system puts not only that computer but the entire laboratory network at risk.

 Nov. 28, 2011
 Whooping cough outbreaks lead to new vaccination rules

Nearby McHenry County recently has tallied 121 cases of whooping cough. Scattered outbreaks throughout the country such as this have become a yearly occurrence, prompting an increased need to make sure your vaccinations are up to date.

The disease causes staccato coughing until the individual runs out of breath and must violently inhale more air, hence the “whoop” sound. It was once thought to be solely a scourge of the young. But recent studies show individuals need a booster shot at least once in adulthood.

 Nov. 21, 2011
 Bridge to the community

One of the great strengths of Fermilab is its availability to the general public – our neighbors – for a variety of activities. We are justifiably proud of Fermilab as an open facility, where community members as well as employees can come to admire the architecture, be entertained, enjoy a gourmet dinner or just experience the outdoors.

 Nov. 14, 2011
 Plan, do, check and act

The goal of quality assurance is to help you use tools and methods to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of your work, provide you more value (resources, time and safety), and allow you to accomplish more with confidence.

One quality assurance evaluation of management and non-management work used at Fermilab called "Plan Do Check Act" uses a continuous loop of activities to accomplish work and to improve jobs. The objective is to get the job done right and on time the first time and maybe better the next time.

 Nov. 07, 2011
 Don’t fall for it

Each year 265,000 people in the United States lose at least one day of work time because of non-fatal injuries from slips, trips and falls, according to the National Safety Council.

Slips, trips and falls result in 17 percent of all non-fatal workplace injuries per year, the highest injury rate of any regulated activity. They are also the second leading cause of injury and death in the utility and construction industry. Slips, trips and falls can result in everything from mere embarrassment to pulled muscles.

Falls are usually divided into two areas – same level and from a height. Fermilab's incident history tells us most of our falls are of the same-level variety.

By incorporating a few of these prevention steps in your safety plan, you can reduce the amount of slips, trips and falls at your location.

 Oct. 31, 2011
 Sustainability starts with knowing what to buy

Once again, it is time to prepare our Site Sustainability Report and submit it to DOE. This annual report is intended to demonstrate to DOE and the federal government how Fermilab will contribute to a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions through a combination of energy-efficient practices and wise purchases.

While the term sustainable is often used, many people struggle to articulate a definition. The most often used definition, put forth in the 1980s by a United Nations Council, defines sustainability as “…meet[ing] the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”

 Oct. 17, 2011
 Take action to achieve improvement in the workplace

If you know of problems affecting the efficiency of work processes or the quality of outputs, consider using the Fermilab Corrective and Preventive Action (CAPA) procedure to resolve them. CAPA can be used to submit and track requests for problem resolution as well as for process improvement.

A recent successful use of the CAPA system was a request submitted by an employee seeking a way to streamline the work. After review of the process, it was determined that some of the steps could be removed, and that the number of employees required to execute it could be reduced from three to two. These changes improved the efficiency of the process and freed up resources to work on other tasks and projects.

 Oct. 10, 2011
 Fire safety means making and practicing an evacuation plan

Fermilab wants its employees and users to be safe at home as well as at work. That's why we want you to be prepared to handle a house fire.

According to a National Fire Protection Agency survey, only one of every three American households have actually developed and practiced a home fire escape plan, and even then many underestimate the amount of time they have to escape.

 Sep. 26, 2011
 Breast cancer awareness

This year marks the 25th year of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. An estimated 40,000 women in the U.S. die of this disease annually, but early identification can lead to better outcomes. Screening is important, as well as knowledge of your risks and which risks you can modify.

One of the difficult tasks in preventive medicine is making population recommendations while recognizing varying risks for the individual. This can create confusion for the patient.

 Sep. 19, 2011
 Avoiding the flu

The influenza virus, often referred to as the flu, can take you out of action for about three to five days. You’ll feel feverish and fatigued and, frequently, a cough accompanies the other symptoms. If you have other health issues, the flu can even land you in the hospital.

Flu is spread on respiratory droplets. It most effectively spreads through the air, but it can be transmitted via high touch objects such as door knobs, phones and table tops. We can limit the airborne spread simply by being courteous. For example, a co-worker can cough into a tissue, or the crook of his or her elbow. Hand-spread virus needs to find a home in the nose, mouth or eye mucosal surfaces, or the wet area surrounding these areas, to develop into something more serious.

 Sep. 12, 2011
 What needs calibration?

There are potentially deadly consequences of failing to calibrate tools. For instance, improper calibration of the vehicle’s hydraulic control valves had the potential to limit control of the right front brake.

Calibration is the process by which you verify the tool or measuring device that you’re using is giving you the correct readings. Just like the auto industry, we calibrate many things at Fermilab, from tools used to measure size and weight to processes used to monitor the spread of the beam.

 Aug. 29, 2011
 Be sharp about sharps

We rarely consider the fate of what we throw in trash cans. But we should, because there are environmental consequences and, the often even less considered, effects on those who collect the items for disposal.

During the years, I’ve treated numerous facility maintenance workers who received punctures in the hands or legs while collecting trash. Sometimes the punctures come from a shard of glass, which is painful but not generally a cause for sustained worry. But if that puncture is from a used needle or razor blade, concern increases dramatically.

In the case of a penetrating wound from a blood-tinged object the added concern is of disease transmission. Without knowing who used the object and what their medical history is, it is difficult to know whether to worry or not.

 Aug. 22, 2011
 How to protect your personal protective equipment

Choosing the right personal protective equipment (PPE) is an important step toward ensuring your safety. But you need to care for that equipment to ensure it can protect you. Here are some guidelines for keeping your equipment in good working order.

Promptly replace hardhats, helmets and bump caps if damaged or defective. Inspect them daily, asking yourself the following questions:

 Aug. 15, 2011
 The Invaders are coming!

Community and restoration ecologists agree that one of the most serious threats to balanced, functional ecosystems is the introduction of non-native species – either plants or animals. Now, more than ever, the array of invasive non-native species is a challenge, as more and more aggressive species are introduced.

In theory, the many species that interact in natural ecosystems have co-evolved in such a way that available resources such as sunlight, nutrients, energy and space are optimally used.

 Aug. 08, 2011
 Where's my spam?

Two unrelated changes in the computer security environment at Fermilab took place last week, one technical and one involving personnel.

The first involves a subject dear to everyone’s heart: email. Starting last Tuesday, as part of the FermiMail project, all incoming and outgoing Fermilab email is being routed through Message Labs, a cloud service that checks our mail for spam and viruses. Instead of providing this service in house, which requires us to continually update virus and scan signatures, we can take advantage of the much larger pool of mail available to the Message Lab specialists and get more timely filtering at less cost and effort to Fermilab.

 Aug. 01, 2011
 Myths about suspect or counterfeit items

One thing we often observe in the Medical Office is the wide array of footwear worn by employees, visitors, contactors and students. Sometimes it’s the flip-flop wearing student complaining of aching arches. Or sometimes it is the individual with the much loved and highly worn athletic shoe telling us about knee pain.

What they don’t realize is that footwear can make a big difference in their health. Our style choices can cause some serious feet problems. See WebMD for a list of the worst shoes for your feet and some healthy alternatives for different occasions.

 July 25, 2011
 Myths about suspect or counterfeit items

Office of Quality and Best Practices (OQBP) at Fermilab has recently concluded a lab-wide assessment of suspect or counterfeit items, in accordance with Fermilab’s Suspect/Counterfeit Items Program (S/CI). In the course of this assessment, several misconceptions about the nature of S/CI risks and control methods emerged:

Myth #1: I purchase materials from reputable suppliers and don’t skimp on cost. I’m not at risk for S/CI. False. Reputable suppliers experience S/CI problems. If each link in the supply chain simply trusts their suppliers without controls, a weak link will eventually allow S/CI into the products of the most reputable suppliers.

Myth #2: The Receiving Department inspects for counterfeit materials upon receipt at the lab. I don’t need to re-inspect my materials. False. Receiving only verifies packing list part numbers and quantities against the purchase order. They don’t have the specific expertise or resources to inspect materials. Requestors must be knowledgeable in specific S/CI risks for purchases and establish controls accordingly.

 July 18, 2011
 Mosquitoes pose serious risk

You may not have heard about it for a while, but according to the CDC, the dreaded West Nile Virus is still around. This virus, caused by the bite of an infected mosquito, was reported in St. Louis County on June 10. The St. Louis County Health Department found instances of the virus in several communities across the city in the past month. Non-human activity of infected bugs was also found in several Illinois counties.

If infected with West Nile Virus, you may experience headaches, body aches, fatigue, swollen lymph glands and sometimes a skin rash. For those infected, these symptoms can last for a few days or up to a couple of weeks.

 July 11, 2011
 The cost of cyber security attacks

Recently, several of our fellow national laboratories were targeted in cyber attacks that required those facilities to make the decision to disconnect from the Internet.

Fermilab was not involved in any of these attacks, but it is times such as these that remind us of the need to be diligent and the cost when we’re not. The attacks that took place earlier this month at several national laboratories started several ways. One started because someone clicked on a phishing link. The other incidents involved attackers exploiting vulnerabilities in application software. While clicking on a phishing link seems like a small mistake, it compromised these laboratories computing systems and had great consequences.

 June 27, 2011
 When passwords attack!

An important part of the lab’s computer security defenses for warding off password attacks involves choosing strong passwords. The Computer Security team continuously compiles a list of passwords from actual attacks.

The following characteristics and patterns were found in the list of passwords used in a recent attack:

 June 20, 2011
 Medical Office seeing an uptick in ticks

The warmer months encourage people to venture into natural areas, which can increase insect encounters. Because of that, since late April, people have come into the Fermilab Medical Office with tick bites.

Of course people don’t enjoy being an insect meal, but what really is worrisome is the fact that an undesirable payload can reside in the tick’s tummy. Locally the disease we fear the most in tick bites is Lyme disease. This can manifest as arthritis, heart conduction problems or nerve inflammation. Your chance of getting infected with Lyme disease increases if:

 June 13, 2011
 Checklist? Check.

Did you ever skip making a list because the task was so easy even a caveman could do it?

Sometimes we think forgetting only happens to others. Actually, forgetfulness happens no matter how young, old or smart you are. That is why you should make and use checklists.

 June 06, 2011
 Ladder safety has its ups & downs

The Consumer Product Safety Commission annually reports that more than 100,000 people are treated in hospital emergency rooms, doctors’ offices and clinics as a result of falls from ladders due to not following proper safety precautions. Most of the injuries are cuts, bruises and fractures. However, more than 300 annual fatalities occur from ladder-related injuries. Due to today’s struggling economy, more people will likely take on do-it-yourself jobs involving ladders at work and at home.

Ladders are the proper and safer alternative to standing on chairs, paint cans, stacked objects, etc. when it comes to accessing elevated heights. Your ladder is a useful tool and a safety system for climbing. However, the additional safety afforded by ladder use must not be circumvented by misuse.

 May 23, 2011
 Measles on the rise get a booster

Although we think of measles as something historic, the disease is making a comeback due to missed vaccinations and global travel.

Many parents incorrectly frightened by a fraudulent medical journal article that suggested a link between autism and MMR vaccination have declined vaccinations for their children.

 May 16, 2011
 How to avoid getting reeled in during phishing season

Last month the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, ORNL, experienced a major attack on its computing systems. A phishing email was sent and a few employees clicked on the attachment, which caused malware to be installed on their machines and spread to other systems at the laboratory. This attack caused ORNL’s Internet service and email to be down for roughly two to three days. Cleaning up the damage required ORNL staff and a team of experts from other laboratories and organizations.

An event like this is a cautionary tale, hopefully reminding all email users of the importance of remaining vigilant about suspicious email. Take a few minutes now to review the characteristics of a phishing email and the steps you can take to avoid falling prey to an attack.

 May 09, 2011
 Fermilab keeping refrigerants in check

Fermilab has more than 600 pieces of refrigeration equipment, including large chillers that provide cold water to cool experimental apparatuses and air conditioners for computing centers, offices and even cars. Each of these pieces of equipment uses one or more refrigerants, chemicals that carry heat away from an area and disperse it into the surrounding air.

But through conservation and management practices, Fermilab minimizes the negative effects from these chemicals.

 May 02, 2011
 Questions key for customers and suppliers

In your work you may act as a customer, a supplier or both. A customer is a person who receives goods or services from another. A supplier is a person who furnishes or provides something. Asking questions is key regardless of the role you have undertaken.

If you are the customer, to get what you need, you need to supply the necessary information for the other person to do the job the way you want it done. And then you need to ask them to explain what you want back to you to make sure they understood. In most cases, when a job isn’t done right, it’s because the supplier didn’t have enough information to do the job right the first time.

 Apr. 25, 2011
 Machine shop safety is a full-time job

Typically at Fermilab, our machine shop injuries include cuts to hands, but more severe injuries can occur because of the many rotating parts in machines used in the shops and elsewhere. Just recently, a Yale student suffered fatal injuries when her hair was caught in a lathe. Because we don’t want something similar to occur here, we encourage everyone to remember the Take-Five campaign and stop before using a machine to review the machine operations and the personal protective equipment for potential dangers.

Fermilab has had a very safe record in its technical, machine, welding and carpenter shops, but that doesn’t mean safety is guaranteed. These shops have many inherent hazards that must be mitigated by guards, administrative controls and training. When working with machinery, laboratory employees and working visitors are reminded to keep their guards up.

 Apr. 18, 2011
 Sleep apnea a costly condition

Snoring can kill you or someone else. Well, not snoring itself, but the condition it can indicate: sleep apnea.

The problem is so widespread that a question about snoring and sleep apnea has been put on the commercial driver’s license test. A number of drowsy driver accidents, including the death of a parked car full of teens struck by a semi-truck, drove the addition of the question.

At work, a lack of good sleep can cause problems by making you more prone to injury through accidents, decreasing your ability to learn new tasks and increasing your chance of making errors.

 Apr. 11, 2011
 Share the road

Fermilab is a great place to ride a bicycle. We have interesting scenery, a paved path stretching across the site and plenty of lightly traveled roadways. It is important to remember that bicyclists in Illinois have the option of using the roadway. They are not required to get off the roadway when vehicles approach from behind.

Although roads at Fermilab are often lightly traveled, accidents between motorists and cyclists have occurred. We require all visitors to follow the Illinois Rules of the Road.

 Apr. 4, 2011
 The science behind Fermilab Arbor Day plantings

As Fermilab has done traditionally, we will celebrate Arbor Day this year in the beginning of May. The adjusted schedule allows our tree planting to take place when the weather is warmer.

Arbor Day is a chance to get out of the house or office, plant a tree or two at Fermilab and share a picnic lunch to celebrate spring and the importance of trees in our ecosystem. It is also an opportunity to assist in the ongoing effort to manage the natural areas on our site in a responsible and ecologically sound manner.

 Mar. 28, 2011
 You may play a role in quality assessments

We are all subject to assessments as we go through life. Doctor check-ups, school exams, credit checks and job interviews, to name a few. At Fermilab we also conduct quality assessments, that focus on the implementation of management systems, not individuals. These assessments are required contractually by the Department of Energy.

In order to efficiently carry out these reviews at Fermilab, the Office of Quality and Best Practices, or OQBP, has developed an assessment program. This program consists of internal assessments of Fermilab organizations and systems by trained and qualified assessors. These assessors are OQBP quality engineers and division, section and center quality assurance representatives. Management receives an assessment report that describes findings that are procedures or practices that need fixing. These are areas that present opportunities for improvement and commendable practices that merit praise.

 Mar. 21, 2011
 Focus on the right eyewear

March is Workplace Eye Wellness month. According to the National Safety Council, more than 2,000 people injure their eyes at work each day. About one in 10 injuries require one or more missed workdays. Of the total amount of work-related injuries, 10 to 20 percent will cause temporary or permanent vision loss.

Experts believe that the correct eye protection could have lessened the severity or even prevented 90 percent of those eye injuries.

Though Fermilab has an effective eye safety program, we can do more to prevent eye injuries. In the last two years the laboratory has had nine eye injuries. Three of them were recordable cases and the other six required first-aid treatment. This was out of a total of 90 first-aid cases and 36 recordable injuries. That translates into eye injuries accounting for six percent of first-aid and eight percent of recordable cases. Most of those injuries involved were foreign objects striking the eye.

 Mar. 14, 2011
 Managing our Internet footprint

Despite most individuals initial misgivings about getting a colon cancer screening, I get many questions about the process and risks of colorectal cancer. So in honor of March, which is colon cancer awareness month, I’ll use this column to address some of the most common inquires.

Colon cancer ranks third for cancer deaths for men and women. However, it is relatively easy to detect in its early stages and treatable. The current consensus is that individuals should have a screening if they are older than 50 years old, have inflammatory bowel disease or a family history of colon cancer.

Screening aims to identify a particular type of polyp, a collection of abnormal glandular tissue, at risk for becoming cancerous or in the very early cancer stage. A negative finding on your colonoscopy means that you don’t need another screening for 10 years off; A suspicious polyp-find requires a test in 3-5 years.

 Mar. 03, 2011
 Managing our Internet footprint

Just as Fermilab works toward reducing its carbon footprint to contribute to a greener environment, employees need to put effort into managing the laboratory’s Internet footprint to maintain a secure computing environment.

Our Internet footprint consists of a wide variety of communication channels open to the large numbers of computers attached to the Fermilab internal network. Each of these channels, an offered service or an open port, is a potential avenue for an attacker to exploit a security vulnerability and take control of a laboratory computer.

 Feb. 28, 2011
 Big Woods management means deer and more

Fermilab manages whitetail deer to ensure the deer stay in balance with the rest of the ecosystem. When out of balance, the deer or ecosystem suffer, such as in the past when deer devastated the forest undergrowth in the area called the Big Woods, north of Wilson Hall.

In 1993 the deer herd was reduced by nearly 80 percent and has been maintained at that level. The spring ephemerals and other ground-layer plants have recovered – at least partially. Studies of Big Woods vegetation show that overall plant cover has increased by almost 150 percent, and deer damage has decreased by more than 80 percent. These numbers confirm the visual impression one has walking through the woods in spring and early summer.

 Feb. 21, 2011
 Watch for suspect and counterfeit items

Suspect and counterfeit Items (S/CI) have made their way into nearly all facets of our lives, from the ink cartridges that we buy online to electrical equipment installed at Fermilab.

The risk of using substandard counterfeit items continues to grow due to the high profits realized by counterfeiters. During a recent visit to a local, national chain hardware store, all hoisting hooks observed on display were suspect, based on their markings

 Feb. 14, 2011
 Think about your heart all year, not just today

Valentine’s Day and February’s designation as American Heart Month remind people to care for their hearts. But don’t make that a one-month commitment. Show your heart some love year-round with these five simple healthy aging tips:

Be sweet — Instead of eating chocolate, try blueberries or strawberries. These heart-healthy treats are filled with natural antioxidants that can help keep your arteries open.

Move to the beat — Grab a partner and do some fancy footwork. Any activity that gets you moving, such as dancing or walking, can help increase blood circulation, reduce stress and protect your heart

 Feb. 07, 2011
 The right stuff in dealing with the white stuff

Snow is beautiful but we don’t want it to linger on our sidewalks and driveways. Removing it can challenge our hearts and backs.

People often try to clear snow shortly after waking when their body chemicals make their hearts prone to attacks. Heavy exertion from shoveling increases blood pressure and cold temperatures cause the body to divert blood flow from the limbs to the torso. These factors create a perfect storm of hazards for your heart.

 Jan. 31, 2011
 Targeted training for targeted phishing

Recently, in a single week, four employees gave their passwords out to other people. Two gave up their username and password to a phishing e-mail; two transmitted passwords in clear text due to misconfigured systems, including a smartphone that failed to encrypt the e-mail login.

These mistakes cost time and money. It costs the laboratory an estimated $2,000 in man-hours each time a password gets revealed to phishers and is misused. In many cases, the necessary computing cleanup also forces staff to take time away from their regular work supporting the scientific mission of the laboratory and IT services.

 Jan. 24, 2011
 Cutting ash trees will increase safety

The Fermilab Village is home to a diverse community of trees, including exotic ornamental varieties and species native to our area. These trees provide a habitat for insects, birds and mammals as well as provide an appealing appearance and welcome shade in the summer. Unfortunately, approximately 150 ash trees exist among this collection.

This is unfortunate because these trees likely will become infected with emerald ash borers, an invasive, imported beetle that has decimated ash tree populations in the Midwest. Trees infected with this pest invariably die within a few years and can cause hazards when located near buildings or roads.

 Jan. 10, 2011
 Follow standard practices to get consistent results

By finding what actions work best to get a task done and then making those actions the norm; we create a set of standard practices that allow us to get expected results for many of our daily activities at home and at work.

An example of standard practices is traffic rules for the use of the road. By using these practices, we get the desired result of safely arriving at our destination. When these practices are not followed, the results may be a ticket or worse.

At Fermilab, standard practices are used to achieve the same result efficiently and consistently. This ensures safe and high-quality work. The Integrated Quality Assurance manual encourages written procedures to ensure quality “for activities of sufficient complexity or potential hazard.”

 Jan. 3, 2011
 Watch out for slick and uneven surfaces

Even though Fermilab has a very good program for dealing with snow and ice, it is impossible to immediately clear all walking and driving surfaces. According to quarterly injury and illness reports, snow and ice accumulation on Fermilab grounds means that one or two people show up in the Medical Department with injuries resulting from slips and falls. In most cases, they are minor bumps and bruises, but they can be more serious like fractures and dislocations.

Mike Becker, manager of Fermilab's Roads & Grounds, explains that his group's first priority is to clear roads and parking lots. That leaves building managers initially responsible for attacking the stairs and walkways around their buildings using salt, shovels and (in some cases) snow blowers. After treating roads and parking lots, Roads & Grounds helps with clearing around buildings and responding to special requests.

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