Thu, 29 Nov 2018 / Published in Health and Safety
We should always, always take safety seriously, but safety information can be both informative and entertaining. Now that we’ve got your attention, take a look at these nine safety facts that seem crazy, but are in fact 100% true.

Fact #1: Approximately four million people are disabled at work every year

This is a crazy number of people who are hurt at work, to the point that they lose some ability or function. Countries with poor safety cultures account for the largest portion of this statistic, which reinforces how imperative it is to educate everyone on necessary precautions and processes.

Fact #2: Fire kills more Americans each year than all natural disasters combined

Just look at the number of fires we experience on the mountains in the Cape annually, and this statistic is not hard to believe. Fire in the home is totally preventable. If more people used fire alarms and were sensible with their cigarette butts, this statistic would be drastically reduced.

Fact #3: Road traffic accidents cost countries around 4% of their Gross Natural Product (GNP) every year

When you see that kind of figure, it seems a no-brainer to drive more carefully on the road. In South Africa though, that’s easier said than done!

Fact #4: For every 1 km/h reduction in the speed limit, there is a 2% reduction in the number of average crashes

Let’s break it down:

  • When hit by a vehicle travelling at 32 kms an hour, nine out of 10 pedestrians will survive.
  • When hit by a vehicle travelling at 48 kms an hour, five out of 10 pedestrians will survive.
  • When hit by a vehicle travelling at 64 kms an hour, only ONE out of 10 pedestrians will survive.

Fact #5: If you drive after being awake for 24 hours, your response times are as bad as someone who is over the drink-driving limit

What’s more, if you’ve had only four hours sleep, even one beer is a bad idea – it will give you the same (lack of) reaction time as someone who’s drunk an entire six-pack of beer, who’s had a full night’s sleep. In reality, the drink-driving limit doesn’t measure which reaction times are safe based on a variety of factors. All it measures is the legal blood-alcohol level without taking these other factors into account. Remember, just because you are under the legal limit, doesn’t mean you should be on the road. Sleep, health, concentration, age, drugs, etc. all have an impact on reaction times.

Fact #6: Fifty-five per cent of teens involved in fatal car accidents last year were not wearing their seat belts at the time of collision

In addition, 31% had been drinking! It’s simple – especially in light of the driver assistance services out there right now – don’t drink and drive, and wear your seat belt every time you get in a car.

Fact #7: In the United States, firefighters responded to over 362 000 house fires in one year

Collectively, these included 12 600 injuries, 2 600 deaths and $7.6 billion (R98.8 billion) in property damage. Moral of the story? Check your smoke alarms!

Fact #8: Over 25 000 children under the age of five are admitted to the emergency room every year because of accidental poisoning

In addition, approximately 120 children under the age of 14 die every year as the result of an accident at home. In the UK, these types of accidents cost £25 billion (a staggering R425 billion) every year.

Fact #9: Safety signs that inform you of danger can reduce workplace accidents by up to 80%

This means that by merely placing relevant, instructional safety signs all over your workplace, you can cut incidents down to almost nothing.


Thu, 29 Nov 2018 / Published in Health and Safety

The last few of our blogs have made it clear that there is a positive case for utilising social media in your efforts to promote and maintain a safe working environment. We always like to offer a balanced approach to every argument, which is why today we take a look at the 11 potential risks associated with using social media in the workplace.

You create a social presence but no one is participating

Social media should start with a strategy and part of the strategy should include your:

  • audience
  • content and
  • appropriate channel(s).

It takes time to grow a community. You may think you’re talking to yourself but really you can be honing your message to your customer while you also spend time listening to what is important to them and include it in your community content. The time you take working at establishing your social media standing can also be used as an ongoing case study to discuss what you’ve learned with your customers.

You’re trying to focus on a specific subject, but the topic gets hijacked

Before you lose your cool, ask yourself why this has happened. For example, you’ve created a group online to hold digital Toolbox Talks, and have presented a subject you feel is important. Is there perhaps something else more important you could or should be covering? One of the first rules of social media is that it’s not about you. Perhaps you can suggest covering the new topic in the next discussion, to give you and everyone else a chance to research it further and get more input on it. The point of social media is that you don’t have direct control of the message but the more involved you are in social media and are aware of your business and customers, the more your ability to influence the message increases.

You alienate your core followers

As your social media community grows and expands its reach, there is the possibility of alienating your core followers. You need to first consider your core before diluting your approach to please the masses you’re not currently connected to. Sometimes it’s unavoidable, but if you include the core in your growth and choices for growth, it’s often easier for it to deal with change. Also, remember there are some people who just don’t want to change. If they are your target audience, what about creating a core group just for them? Consider the impact on you resources and the benefits of keeping them happy while still addressing a larger potential community.

The social media strategy doesn’t include the whole organisation

If you’re part of a small organisation, you’ll worry about having sufficient resources to establish a social media strategy and the ability to execute. In a larger organisation, you may struggle to control or influence the approach, the theme, the content, the budget and other resources. Not everyone needs to be directly involved but everyone should be aware of the social media benefits as part of the marketing and sales strategies of the organisation.

You only use your social media platforms for marketing purposes

Although many organisations believe social media should be managed from the marketing department (to enable the acquisition and retention of customers), other companies use social media as a critical enabler to their customer service efforts, research and development initiatives, and strategy planning. Social media enables conversation through online communities. The conversations you start or participate in can lead to many possibilities.

One individual yields too much power

There is a risk if the social media ‘face’ of the company is a particular individual – what if they leave the organisation, or accept a different role within the company? Their social media currency could leave with them. Consider the impact of an individual and consider spreading the currency around to include others. Not only will it help to balance the power, but it can also help balance the responsibility to create great content and manage the social media strategy.

You’re unable to localise your message to a particular audience

What happens if your social media presence expands to another country or a customer base outside your typical one? Monitoring your social media strategy and reviewing the needs of a particular audience can help you plan for the needs of your existing and future audiences. As you look to expand into a new audience, evaluate your tactics to localise your message to the audience. This could include translation services or evaluating the needs of a new layer of employees.

Someone wants to have a conversation with you – but they are ignored

With more and more communication channels available to us, it’s difficult to keep up with it all. But a simple business principle plays here – ignore your customer and eventually they will go away. Take the time to develop a solid social media monitoring plan that not only listens to what people are saying about you or your organisation, but also hears the smallest request and makes sure it gets the attention any good customer deserves.

Anything you do can leak out

Think about this for a minute: You are working hard to build your social profile. You are optimising your profiles on various platforms, giving out great content and developing an online influence. One night, you go to a friend’s party and end up getting drunk and making a fool of yourself. The next thing you know, someone has taken pictures of you and posted them all over their platforms. That professional image? Gone. Remember that there is no such thing as real privacy anymore. If you are working on creating a good online image, carry that image with you offline because what you do offline affects your online world, and vice versa.

You run the risk of cyber attacks

Remember to be on the lookout for any of the following, and educate your employees to do the same.

  • Social networking worms
  • Phishing bait
  • Trojans
  • Data links
  • Shortened URLs
  • Botnets
  • Advanced persistent threats (APTs)
  • Cross-site request forgery (CSRF)
  • Impersonation
  • Being too trusting

You over-post

Are you tweeting every five minutes of the day? Are you posting Facebook updates every hour? You are going to lose friends and followers very easily if you do. If all you are doing is clogging up your friends’ feeds then you will immediately develop a reputation as a spammer, regardless of what you are posting. Post between five and seven times throughout the day – and not all at once. You can post more frequently on Twitter but not by much. Keep it natural and never clog up feeds.



Thu, 29 Nov 2018 / Published in Health and Safety

For a chemical to harm someone, and affect their health negatively, it must first come into contact or enter the body. It must also have some biological effect on the body.

There are four major routes through which a chemical can enter the body:

• Inhalation (breathing)
• Skin (or eye) contact
• Swallowing (ingestion or eating)
• Injection

Breathing contaminated air is the most common way workplace chemicals enter the body. Some chemicals, when contacted, can pass through the skin into the bloodstream. The eyes may also be a route of entry. Usually, however, only very small quantities of chemicals in the workplace enter the body through the eyes. Workplace chemicals may be swallowed accidentally if food, hands, or cigarettes are contaminated. It for this reason that workers should not drink, eat, or smoke in areas where they may be exposed to chemicals.

Injection is the fourth way chemicals may enter the body. While uncommon in most workplaces, it can occur when a sharp object (e.g., a needle) punctures the skin and injects a chemical (or virus) directly into the bloodstream.

Regardless of the way the chemical gets into the body, once it is in the body it is distributed in the body by the bloodstream. In this way, the chemical may harm organs that are far from the original point of entry, as well as directly at the location where they entered the body.

Today, we focus on the first route through which chemicals can enter your body – through inhalation.

3 ways chemicals are inhaled

As a gas or vapour

Workplace chemicals can enter the air in a number of different ways. Simple evaporation is probably the most common way. Organic solvents, such as toluene, methyl ethyl ketone (MEK), or alcohols, generally evaporate more rapidly than water, acids, or bases, although this is not always the case. Evaporation produces vapours. Vapours are formed from products that exist as solids or liquids under normal temperature and pressure conditions. Products that do not exist as solids or liquids at normal temperatures and pressures are called gases. Gases as well as vapours can contaminate the workplace air.

As a mist

In some instances, an industrial process might produce tiny liquid droplets that are able to float in the air. These droplets are called mists. Mists are formed by gases that condense into small liquid droplets in the air. Alternatively, mists may form by breaking up, splashing, or atomising a liquid. Examples include:
• acid mists from electroplating
• oil mists from cutting and grinding, or
• paint spray mists from painting operations.

As dust, fumes and smoke

Other workplace processes can generate tiny solid particles, which are light enough to float in the air, and these particles are referred to as dusts, fumes and smoke. Dusts are solid particles often generated by some mechanical or abrasive activity. They are usually heavy enough to settle slowly to the ground. Fumes are very tiny solid particles that can remain airborne, and are formed when a heated metal has evaporated in the air and then condensed back to a solid form. Fumes can occur in welding operations. Smoke is carbon or soot from burning. Smoke particles can settle or remain airborne depending on their size.

The respiratory protection you need to practise

There are several types of respirators on the market. Some are effective against some chemicals but may provide little or no protection against others. Selecting the best respirator for you can be quite complicated.
A qualified person must carry out a detailed assessment of the workplace, including all chemicals used and their airborne concentrations and forms. Consequently, complete respiratory protection guidelines generally cannot be given on the MSDS. If respirators are required at your work site, a complete respiratory protection programme including respirator selection, fit testing, training and maintenance is necessary.

Respirators are essential to keep from breathing air contaminated with:
• gases
• vapours
• fumes
• sprays
• dusts
• fogs
• mists, or

Respirators may cover the nose and mouth, a worker’s entire face, or the entire head. All respirators must be approved by relevant standards body.
Note: An employer must provide a medical evaluation and training before an employee may use a respirator, and all employees should ensure their respirator fits properly, seals out hazardous air, and that it’s properly cleaned, stored, and maintained.