Are you Wearing Enough Hearing Protection?

Are you wearing enough hearing protection? When one layer isn't enough.

To comply with OSHA occupational noise exposure standards, companies are required to limit the amount of noise any one worker is exposed to on the job. For most applications, a single layer of hearing protection will be sufficient. However, double hearing protection may be necessary under certain conditions.

When is Double Hearing Protection Required?

The first step is to know the noise levels your employees encounter each day. Workplace noise measurements are dependent on the specifics of your workplace. Generally, an employee will wear a dosimeter during their shift. The dosimeter measures noise exposure and if you find workers are exposed to an average above 85 decibels (dB) over eight hours, then double hearing protection may be useful along with a required hearing conservation program.

When in an environment above 100 dB, OSHA rules encourage the use of double hearing protection. Some industry specific requirements have a lower standard, requiring double protection above 105 dBa, but OSHA’s guidelines are safest. To comply with all regulations, it best to provide double hearing protection when workplace noise levels exceed 100 dBa in an 8 hour weighted average.

Double Hearing Protection provides a 4 to 8 dB boost, on top of the normal parameters of the ear muffs, for example. Providing ear plugs with ear muffs can reduce noise an additional 85% which leads to a significant reduction in noise-related injuries. The most common form of double hearing protection is the use of ear plugs with ear muffs.

Do Your Workers Have Enough Hearing Protection?

For any noise reduction device (earplugs, ear muffs), a Noise Reduction Rating (NRR) is provided. Peltor Optime 105 Headband Ear Muffs, for example, have an NRR rating of 30.

To determine how NRR rating affect dB, take the NRR number subtract 7 and divide that number by 2.

In our example: (30 – 7) / 2 = 11.5

A worker wearing Peltor Ear Muffs with a 30 NRR will experience an 11.5 dBa reduction in noise. If your workers are exposed to 100 dBa, then with the earmuffs they will be exposed to 88.5 dBa.

If your workplace requires more, then double protection through 3M Classic Ear Plugs will provide an additional 5 dB of protection. By themselves, 3M earplugs have an NRR rating of 29, but when doubled with Peltor Ear Muffs, an additional 5 dB is added to the highest rating.

In a workplace with an 8 hour average of 100 dB, let us look at a worker wearing both 3M Ear Plugs and Peltor Ear Muffs:

Peltor Ear Muffs: 30 NRR

3M Ear Plugs: 29 NRR

Double Protection: +5 NRR

Total Protection: 35 NRR

Now, let’s calculate the dB reduction of our dual protected worker with 35 NRR.

dB reduction = (35 – 7) / 2 = 14

A worker in a setting with 100 dB with dual protection will now experience 86 dB over eight hours. This dual protection complies with OSHA’s regulations. Both you and your workers are protected.

Special Cases: When OSHA Requires More Protection

For most workspaces, noise must be below 90 dB over eight hours. However, if your worker experienced STS hearing loss, then more is necessary. To determine if your employee suffered a Standard Threshold Shift (STS), answer 3 questions:

  1. Has your employee suffered a 10dB loss in one or both ears?
  2. Is your employee’s overall hearing level at 25dB?
  3. Is your employees hearing loss work-related?
    1. Under OSHA Guidelines, hearing loss cases assume that the loss occurred at work. The burden of proof lies with employers to prove otherwise.
    2. Hearing loss aggravated by a work environment classifies as work-related hearing loss.

If you answered yes to each question above then more hearing protection is required for that employee. An additional 5 dB of protection will put you in compliance and protect your employees from further hearing loss. What Noise Exposure is Ideal?

Just as too little noise exposure is dangerous, so too is the opposite. Excessive noise reduction can cause accidents related to an inability to hear colleagues, alarms, and a general lack of awareness. If a worker needs to remove hearing protection to listen to their equipment or converse with a colleague, then hearing protection may be excessive.

Ideally, aim to reduce noise to bring exposure down to 75 – 85 dB. The CDC recommends that a single layer of ear protection be used for workplaces with noise levels below 100 dB. Above 100 dB, a dual protection layer may be required to reach the ideal workplace noise exposure.

Should You Use Ear Plugs or Ear Muffs?

The quirks of your workplace will determine which hearing protector is best. Only choose hearing protection that allows employees to wear them properly and comfortably for extended periods of time. Here are the main differences:

Ear Muffs

  • May interfere with other safety equipment (glasses, hard hat, respirator)
    • Low profile headbands are designed to prevent interference with hard hats
  • Easier to remove and replace
    • Best for intermittent noise exposure
  • Good for dirty environments
  • Uncomfortable in hot and excessively cold climates

Ear Plugs

  • Comfortable
  • Best for continuous noise exposure
  • Require clean hands to be inserted properly
  • Good for tight spaces
  • Good for extreme temperatures

Ear plugs are the choice of most employees. However, make sure to properly train them on how to insert ear plugs. Below you will find an image (from left to right) of a badly-inserted earplug, a semi-inserted earplug, and a properly-fit earplug.

If earplugs cannot be inserted properly, then earmuffs should be used.

In the End, It Does Really Matter

For most workspaces, a single layer of properly fitting ear muffs or ear plugs will be sufficient to reach the ideal 75-85 dB of noise exposure. Double hearing protection is recommended for employees working in noise levels above 100 dB over an eight hour period. Ear plugs and ear muffs are the most common form of dual protection, providing an additional 5 dB of protection.

Workplace noise levels only have to be re-evaluated when noise exposure increases beyond what your current protection allows. Annual training should include information on the types of protection provided, fit, and use.

Citizens Against Virtually Everything

Citizens Against Virtually Everything

Continuation of How to Improve Workplace Safety

Managers that lead safety training will encounter someone who opposes all efforts to increase safety. No matter how ready you are with OSHA’s Training Guidance, someone may stand in opposition towards your efforts to change.

Citizens Against Virtually Everything are people who oppose all change. It is your responsibility as a safety manager to be prepared and to respond to people in the CAVE.

The First Step with CAVE

Being proactive is the first step. As a manager, you should know who in your group will oppose change. Next, understand why they oppose the change so that you can prepare a response.

CAVE people think that top-down decision-making interferes with their autonomy. CAVE people feel that they do not have control over their actions, and instead of entering a dialogue, dig their heels in and resist all change.

It is important to express the direct effects that your changes will have on everyone. With a focus on CAVE, make sure to have answers to the questions below:

  • What is the desired outcome? Why?
  • How do things change?
  • When do things change?
  • What’s in it for me?

Although it is important to address the concerns of the CAVE specifically, most in your organization will be ambivalent. Be sure to answer these questions in relation to all stakeholders.

Listen to the CAVE

Many people feel that they have not been listened to at work. When it comes to safety, before bringing in a top-down approach, listen to your workers and find out what safety issues they deal with each day. Furthermore, by bringing in everyone in the conversation, it turns a passive employee into one actively engaged in their work environment. How could a CAVE person stand against a safety agenda they helped create?

To begin a discussion, ask them what they think causes workplace accidents. Generally, their answers will address human error and a lack of personal awareness. Their answers won’t include procedures and policies to address that error. As a safety manager, your focus is on policy, however, this approach alleviates the workers your policies are meant to keep safe. By first listening, you increase the chances of finding the protocol that workers circumvent and finding a way to close the safety gaps. Furthermore, because you involve your workers in the process, they will be more likely to respect your rules.

The Benefits of CAVE in your organization

A typical organization will be as follows:

20% Against Change (CAVE)

20% For Change

60% the Ambivalent to Change

The 20% against change will produce 80% of your headaches. It is imperative to separate the CAVE people who are critical to your organization from those that are not. Some CAVE people will have perspectives on problems that may motivate their decision to be against change. An organization needs to encourage constructive feedback from everyone, especially those who oppose it most vigorously. To do so effectively, it is best to begin a policy of CAVE UP.

CAVE UP

Your organization should offer opportunities for CAVE people to express their feedback upwards. Without any opportunity to give constructive feedback, CAVE people will only resent the change further, and do whatever they can to convert ambivalent employees into modicums of CAVE.

It is unprofessional for CAVE people to express their disdain for change downwards. This behavior undercuts the higher-ups. Unconstructive negativity are complaints that flow “down and out” whereas constructive negativity flows “up and in.”

If a managers says “this decision is from corporate” then it shows that you as the manager opposed the change. Your word choice shows the “down and out” negativity of CAVE. If you don’t support the decision, then why would your employees?

Always give the opportunity for everyone in your organization to provide constructive criticism in a safe environment. Managers should proactively be aware of reactions to change to ensure that everyone who has something to say has a forum to say it.

Listen to people in the cave respectfully, and ask “why is this idea bad?”

If you find that there are still CAVE people who oppose all change even with a CAVE UP policy, see the general guidelines below.

General Guidelines for CAVE People

When Nothing Else Works

Even if you address all the concerns of CAVE people, provide a forum for constructive criticism, and respond to that criticism, some CAVE people may still not be convinced. CAVE people may act out negatively to hide a skill-gap or use the workplace to vent personal issues. Be prepared for all eventualities.

What You Should Do:

  • Be clear about responsibilities
    • CAVE people may be complaining about something outside of their direct responsibilities. Remind them of their job.
  • Listen to concerns respectfully
    • Providing a forum for constructive feedback is not always enough. CAVE people may continue to vent in unconstructive ways.
  • Focus on specific behaviors
    • Do CAVE people take over meetings? Tell them.
  • Recognize their negativity may have nothing to do with you.
    • CAVE people may suffer from a lack of confidence at work and use their negativity to hide a skill-gap.
  • Incentivize behavior changes
    • Negotiate a performance linked plan to reinforce positive changes.
  • Consider Termination if behavior continues
    • Remember to document everything. Termination may be the only way to remove negativity.

What you should NOT do:

  • Allow CAVE people to run meetings
    • Giving them a forum to foment discontent will only fuel more negativity.
  • Be rude to CAVE people
    • Do not fight fire with fire. Maintain composure and you will earn the respect of others.
  • Isolate CAVE People
    • It is a good idea to speak with CAVE people in private to hear their constructive feedback and point of view.
    • However, isolating CAVE people in a meeting will only fuel their resentment.
  • Ignore their behavior
    • Do not expect their negativity to resolve on its own. Even if personal issues cause their negativity, do not allow their behavior to continue in the workplace.

If you only do one thing about people in the CAVE, do this.

Be clear with your expectations.

Negative behavior does not change a person’s responsibilities. Always focus on their behavior, and never lead with ad hominem attacks. In order to change behavior, the behavior needs to be addressed.

Conclusion

Everyone will meet people in the CAVE. For managers, it is crucial to know how to respond so as to not encourage others to enter the CAVE. The key is to give those in the CAVE a chance to change through a CAVE UP protocol and then incentive behavior changes after listening respectfully. In the end, someone may be unwilling to leave the CAVE and it is up to you to accept that and consider termination.

Listeria – The Risks Involved

Listeria - The Risks Involved | Harmony Supply Blog

Listeria is a type of bacteria that causes listeriosis, a serious illness with a fatality rate of 20%. Most cases involve hospitalization. Children, elderly, and adults with weakened immune systems are most susceptible. Healthy adults may avoid listeriosis, but are still susceptible to gastroenteritis. Vomiting, abdominal pain, and diarrhea are the most common symptoms. If the bacteria spreads beyond the gut, a fever may arise. Some doctors may mistakenly diagnose patients with “stomach flu,” although listeria is not related to influenza. A bacterial culture verifies listeriosis.

Listeria Risks

Listeria is common in the food services industry. It is impossible to prevent this bacteria from entering your setting. It survives extreme cold, acidic, and oxygen deprived environments. Refrigeration and freezing do not prevent listeria growth. In fact, listeria continues to grow in the cold. Because of its durability, the only way to prevent listeria contamination is through proper training and procedures. Cleaning and sanitizing equipment is not enough. Listeria can survive in HVAC systems, floors, crevices, or hard to reach places. Without sufficient procedures, your company may be liable for any lapses that cause a listeria outbreak. Fines, fees, and litigation will increase costs on top of product recalls and reputation damage.

Cleaning and Sanitizing to Prevent Listeria

Safety is the first priority for the food industry. Cleaning and Sanitizing (C&S) are the key components to fulfill your responsibility. Cleaning involves removing all surface level contaminants such as food, oil, and dirt. Bacteria cling to these contaminants and block chemicals from reaching the surface. All work surfaces require cleaning including walls, drains, and floors.

All machinery should be broken down into its base components in order to properly sanitize each element. Bacteria festers in hard to reach places. Once a significant amount of bacteria congregate in one area, it forms a biofilm that can prevent proper sanitization.

Biofilms

It is common for drains to contain biofilms. Because they are overlooked and cleaned less often, it can be ground zero for a listeria outbreak in your facility. If a drain contains a biofilm, then cleaning and sanitizing will not be sufficient. The bacteria will spread onto the floor through the drain onto employee boots and clothes. If a pressurized washer is used to clean drains, then the blast will spread listeria through the air onto equipment. If drains flood, production should be ceased immediately. Slot drain systems prevent bacteria from festering. Otherwise, frequent cleaning is the best way to prevent biofilms and listeria.

Detergents

Solvents, detergents, acids, and abrasive cleaners are the most common cleaners used.

Detergents are useful for lifting most soil from the surface. For grease, solvent cleaners can be used even when grease has burned onto the surface. Acid cleaners are used on mineral deposits such as hard water. Abrasive cleaners remove significant soil accumulations, generally in small areas. Because of its abrasive qualities, its use should be limited to surfaces unable to be cleaned by a detergent.

Surfaces must be cleaned of all organic material. Bacteria feeds off organic material and prevents proper sanitization.

Cleaners do not remove all microorganisms and bacteria. Sanitizers must be used in conjunction with cleaners.

Sanitizing

Sanitizing proceeds cleaning. It involves applying chemicals or heat to a cleaned surface. Although sanitization does not sterilize an environment, it is sufficient for most settings. Heat is useful because listeria cannot survive past 149 degrees fahrenheit or 60 degrees celsius. Properly cooked food will not contain listeria if it is heated past 149 degrees. Dishwashers reach this temperature and thus too are effective means to sanitize.

Chemicals are used for food-contact surfaces. Chlorine, iodine, and  quaternary ammonium compounds are all approved for food-contact surfaces.

Chlorine

Chlorine is the most common sanitizer. It is effective against bacteria, fungi, and viruses along with all spores. Salmonella, cryptosporidium, and giardia are all resistant to chlorine. In instances involving chlorine resistant microorganisms, quaternary ammonium compounds work effectively. Chlorine is not effective against biofilms and is toxic when inhaled and when in contact with skin. There is a positive residual effect that keeps the surface free of bacteria for a limited time.

Iodine

Iodine is an acid sanitizer. It is effective against bacteria, fungi, viruses, and tuberculosis. Iodine has a slight resistance to listeria, meaning longer exposure times are necessary. To remove a listeria infested biofilm with iodine, soak the film. Because iodine is an acid, be careful when it comes into contact with other sanitizers. Chlorine mixed with an acid produces a deadly, toxic gas. If exposed, immediately remove everyone from the environment. Iodine is also extremely corrosive and causes chemical burns on the skin.

Proper protection is required when cleaning with acids like iodine.

Quaternary

Quaternary ammonium cleaner is effective against vegetative bacteria. Vegetative bacteria is bacteria that is not growing. QA is effective against biofilms and does not require soaking time like iodine. Like chlorine, QA provides residual activity keeping the surface sanitized for a limited time. It works against hard water although QA itself is not corrosive.

Sanitizers

Sanitizers react differently depending on the surface. Plastic, glass, metal, and wood may require different chemicals to properly sanitize. For food environments, this may not be as important. It is critical to understand the microorganisms that thrive in your environment to prepare proper sanitization procedures. For example, if you have a biofilm with listeria, then your iodine sanitizer may not be enough if the film is not soaked for an adequate time. In that case, QA could be used. Send environmental samples to labs in order to sanitize properly.

Sampling For Lab Tests

Listeria is unique in that contaminated foods appear and taste normal. Because of this, environmental monitoring should be a part of every facility procedures, along with a cleaning and sanitizing program. Swab sample collection will keep your facility safe. Samples will identify listeria and other pathogens.

Once you know what pathogens live in your environment, you will be able to use the right sanitizers to protect your customers.

Environmental sampling kits are designed to increase sample count through their large, foam-tipped swabs. In all kits, a swab is secured to the screw-cap in leak-resistant tubes. To test, remove the swab and wipe the sample area while rotating the swab. Return the swab to the tube and secure the cap. Laboratory analysis should be completed within 4 hours. Samples can be refrigerated for up to 24 hours at 35-39 degrees fahrenheit or 2-4 degrees celsius.

To prevent sample sanitizer contamination, sampling swabs come pre-moistened with neutralizing solutions. Neutralizing solutions can interact with microorganisms, potentially harming the pathogens you hope to test. To prevent this, your swab needs to be tailored to your environment. Contact our customer service if you need advice on which swab is best for you.

Sleep Deprivation at Work

sleep deprivation at work blog post

The National Sleep Foundation found that 50 million Americans suffer from lack of sleep on a regular basis. On any given night, only 27% of Americans fulfill the recommended amount of sleep of 7 to 9 hours. It is no wonder the CDC declares sleep disorders a public health epidemic. Fatigued workers are 70% more likely to be in accidents at work compared to someone who slept 8 hours. Getting 4 hours of sleep is akin to drinking six beers. Although safety issues may be lessened for office workers, the effects of poor sleep hygiene are still pronounced.

Lack of sleep can be ground zero for other health issues.

Those without sufficient sleep are at a higher risk for heart disease, obesity, and decreased cognitive performance.

For busy professionals, it is vital to prioritize sleep for one’s long term well-being.

Insufficient sleep can drive people to reevaluate the demands of their job. A negotiated work schedule that allows for a balanced life that prioritizes sleep will enhance a worker’s well-being and productivity. 

Flexible schedules, work from home options, and in-office naps all contribute to a more productive and happy workers. Employees should work with managers by emphasizing the productivity benefits that will be achieved through employer-supported sleep initiatives. Shorter shift times, bright lights, and healthy food options all contribute to a worker’s productivity.  

Companies that do not address sleep deprivation contribute to the United State’s $411 billion in economic losses per year, the highest of any nation by far. The Rand Corporation estimates over 1 million lost working days per year solely due to the effects of sleep deprivation on companies. Even for small businesses, one fatigued worker costs employers upwards of $3100 annually. 

How Does Lack of Sleep Affect Your Work?

Decreased Immunity

Lack of sleep compromises the body’s ability to fend off diseases. Research found that the flu vaccine is less effective when the patient had gotten less than 7 hours of sleep at some time in the last week. Sleep is critical for the production and release of cytokines, which provide signals to cells that regulate and mediate immunity and inflammation. One night of lessened sleep can down-regulate one’s immune response when injected with a flu virus.

Sleeping one hour less may increase your body’s chance of developing a cold or flu by 30%.

Decreased Productivity

Research at Hult Business School found that even 30 minutes of extra sleep affects work performance. Even beyond a general lethargy and lack of focus, it takes sleep deprived workers longer to finish tasks and solve problems.

People who sleep at least 7 hours can expect to perform 10% better than sleep deprived colleagues. 

Emotional Instability

Sleep loss causes irritability and an inability to self-regulate behavior. Displays of negative emotions increase with chronic fatigue. Psychologists recommend patients to set a consistent sleep schedule and eat a fatty, protein rich breakfast in order to curb one’s emotional instability. A consistent waking time is more important for emotional regulation than a consistent sleeping time. Blue light in the morning is critical to wake up the body and mind, whereas that same blue light at night sabotages sleep. 

Lack of sleep affects the body’s ability to fight disease and the mind’s ability to regulate itself. Mood shifts downward, along with one’s productivity at work. However, there are strategies that can be used to lessen the effects of sleep deprivation. The most obvious is to get more sleep at the first available opportunity. 

How can you function with little to no sleep?

Without the use of caffeine and other stimulants, there are simple ways to increase alertness. However, each method is not a replacement for actual sleep and its effects are temporary. The only way to address chronic fatigue is by practicing good sleep hygiene by setting a consistent sleep schedule. 

  1. Ice water | Cold Shower
    • Drinking ice water temporarily decreases fatigue, however, cold showers or an ice bath are the is a temporary way to function with little to no sleep. Submersion in cold water for over 2 minutes increases the body’s immune function and the mind’s ability to regulate mood. 
    • To effectively use a cold shower, slowly lower the temperature of the water to not shock the body. Continue to breathe normally. Finish the shower as cold as you can handle for at least thirty seconds.
  2. Sunlight or Artificial Blue Light
    • Artificial blue light and sunlight both decrease melatonin production and signal wakefulness to the mind. To effectively prepare to work sleep deprived, expose yourself to light as soon as possible after waking up. 
    • Natural sunlight breaks during work will provide a mood boost. You may find newfound energy after a short, brisk walk in the fresh air. If napping is not allowed, sunlight may be your savior. 
  3. 20 Minute Power Naps
    • Many companies recognize that employee performance suffers when sleep deprived. To respond to this, on-site napping is no longer taboo at companies such as Nike, Zappos,  and Google. Quiet spaces for employees to nap increase productivity and general health and wellness. 
    • To most effectively nap at work, limit the nap time to 20 minutes. Because a full sleep cycle is 90 minutes, 20 minutes is not deep enough into the cycle to not be interrupted. One 20 minute nap can temporarily act as a full sleep cycle and provide wakefulness, as long as it is not a long term solution to chronic fatigue. 
  4. Physical Activity
    • A small increase in heart rate associated with physical activity decreases the effects of sleep deprivation and increases wakefulness. A sustained increase in heart rate is most effective and can be achieved through a walking desk, or frequent physical activity breaks. Bodyweight exercises can be substituted for an under the desk elliptical or a standing desk. Thirty squats every 15 minutes mimic the effects of caffeine without any negative side effects. 
  5. Eat Small Meals
    • Large carbohydrate dense meals increase drowsiness. To combat sleep deprivation, small protein and fat rich meals provide sustained energy all day. Small meals every 2.5 to 3 hours are the most effective regimen for performance. Four ounces of protein with vegetables and an omega rich oil will sustain your body until a full night’s sleep can be achieved. 

How can you Identify Chronic Sleep Issue?

Losing a few hours of sleep a week is not enough to qualify for chronic insomnia. Most sleep issues people experience are short term. Stressing about a meeting on monday generally leads to better sleep on  monday night. However, for people who experience consistent sleep problems, they may be diagnosed with chronic insomnia.

Signs to Look out For

  1. Difficulty falling asleep
    • The average person takes 14 minutes to fall asleep. 
  2. Waking up and being unable to fall back asleep
  3. Waking up too early
  4. Relying on Caffeine to wake up
  5. Relying on Alcohol to fall asleep 

Chronic sleep issues generally is a self-fulfilling cycle. Anxiety around sleep can cause you to take longer to fall asleep, be unable to fall back asleep if awoken, and cause you to take up early. Once you feel tired, you may lean on caffeine to help with the symptoms, further causing poor sleep and a reliance on the substance emerges. To avoid chronic sleep issues keep a consistent wake up time and talk to your doctor if problems continue for an extended period of time.

Harmony Lab & Safety Supplies

Cannabis Industry Safety and Hazards [and how to avoid them]

Cannabis Industry Safety and Hazards

Cannabis Industry Safety is more critical now than ever. At a time when other industries seem to be struggling to keep afloat, the marijuana industry is the fastest growing industry that hires more and more employees every day. According to the BLS, 5.5 million jobs in the manufacturing industry were lost between 2000 and 2017. However, the legal cannabis market is expected to have over a quarter-million jobs by the year 2020.

While other industries struggle to keep afloat, the marijuana industry is the fastest-growing. Hiring more and more employees every day. According to the BLS, 5.5 million jobs in the manufacturing industry were lost between 2000 and 2017. Yet, the legal cannabis market expects to have over a quarter-million jobs by the year 2020.

Despite high employment, the industry faces some safety hazards, just like other industries. OSHA General Duty Clause – in Section 5 (a) (1) states that you as an employer should provide your employees with a workplace free from identifiable hazards that have the potentiality to cause serious harm or even death to your workers.

Cannabis Industry Safety

The Cannabis Industry includes:

  • Cultivation
  • Distribution
  • Laboratory testing
  • Manufacturing
  • Retail

Marijuana Industry Safety Hazard Breakdown

Meanwhile, Most of the hazards in the marijuana industry are like those experienced in other industries. Be aware of Grow House Hazards to avoid disasters. These hazards break down into three main categories: biological, physical, and chemical.

Biological Hazards

Cannabis Industry Safety and Hazards biological hazards

For instance, these types of hazards can arise from working with marijuana plants. Some of the common biological agents include bacteria and fungi. Meanwhile, these agents can affect the health of your workers by causing the throat, skin and eye irritation, nasal congestion, and other physical health effects.

Some of the most likely biological hazards that your employees may encounter include:

Mold

Employees assigned to cultivating and trimming of marijuana can be exposed to mold. Mold growth and mold spores are most likely to occur due to the high humidity levels that are required for the production of marijuana. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the production of marijuana requires humidity levels of 70 percent.

Also, the presence of mold and mold spores in the air can cause breathing problems, coughing, wheezing, exacerbation of asthmatic conditions, and other respiratory infections.

In other words, to protect your employees from mold, you need to control moisture levels. Standing water may increase the humidity levels, and you may have to invest in proper irrigation methods.

You can also combat moisture by vacuuming instead of sweeping and increasing ventilation. Yet, you may not always know the mold spore levels after using the recommended control strategies. Ensure that your workers always wear the right personal protective equipment (PPE).

The right PPE will provide your employees with skin, eye, and respiratory protection.

Sensitizer and Allergens

Cannabis Industry Safety and Hazards respiratory hazards

As a result, several reported cases describing episodes of employees in the marijuana industry experiencing allergic reactions. Including anaphylaxis, and hypersensitivity to marijuana. For example, employees whose skin gets into direct contact may experience itchy skin, hives, and puffy or swollen eyes.

Like many other sensitizers, initial exposure to the plant may result in a normal response. But, repeated exposure may lead to an abnormal response. As a result, Allergens can cause itchiness, coughing, sneezing, and wheezing.
If it’s not possible to cut exposure to these allergens, start by improving the ventilation. Also consider job rotation, worker training, and using the right PPE.

Physical Hazards

Cannabis Industry Safety and Hazards electrical hazards

Likewise, the marijuana industry shares several physical hazards from other industries.
Some of the common physical hazards include:

Compressed Gas

In the production of marijuana, you have to use various gases such as carbon dioxide for enrichment purposes. The use of large quantities of these gases can be a threat to your employee’s safety. Compressed gases are dangerous due to the high pressure inside the cylinders. So to prevent injuries, ensure that your employees understand and use the right safety precautions.

Electrical

Cannabis Industry Safety and Hazards fire hazards

But for marijuana to grow, it needs a great deal of energy. Several hazards can emanate from temporary wiring, blocked electrical panels, missing breakers. And the use of electricity at high humidity levels, overloaded circuits, and lack of electrical training, among other electrical hazards.

Apart from electrical hazards, the law requires protecting your employees from dangerous energy sources.

Avoid grow house fires! Review Cannabis Industry Safety hazards present in all these areas:

  • Lighting hazards
  • Flammable or combustible liquids
  • Noise
  • Occupational injuries
  • Confined spaces

Chemical Hazards

Cannabis Industry Safety and Hazards chemical hazards

Further, chemicals used in the production of marijuana pose several health and safety hazards. To keep your workers safe, it’s important to provide information on any harmful substances. The best way to inform your employees is through training and information about various chemicals. You can do this through SDSs (Safety Data Sheets).

Some Cannabis Industry Safety chemical hazards in the marijuana industry include:

Carbon Dioxide

Cannabis Industry Safety and Hazards carbon dioxide

Also, Employees in the marijuana industry who work in cultivation may encounter carbon dioxide. Carbon dioxide is often used in dry ice or liquid gas to speed up plant growth. And in the extraction process for the production of concentrates. Carbon dioxide is an asphyxiant, which means that it displaces oxygen.

Symptoms of carbon dioxide exposure include dizziness, headache, increased heart rate, rapid breathing. And in extreme cases, it can cause unconsciousness and death.

This explains why most industries that face carbon dioxide hazards have monitoring devices.

To protect your employees, it is important that you know about the health and safety hazards of carbon dioxide. Install carbon dioxide monitors and also maintain them. Avoid using dry ice in confined places, and when your employees are handling it, they should always use the right PPE.

The right PPE may include safety glasses and disposable gloves. Additionally, it’s also important to train your employees on the harmful effects of carbon dioxide and symptoms of exposure.

Carbon Monoxide

Cannabis Industry Safety and Hazards carbon monoxide

Your employees are exposed to high levels of carbon monoxide during the production of marijuana. The high levels of carbon monoxide can overcome your employees without warning. The CDC reported a total of 2,244 deaths resulting from carbon monoxide poisoning. This affects employees that work in spaces with limited ventilation. 

Subsequently, Carbon dioxide can cause illness, coma, neurological damage, and death. Keep your employees safe by installing carbon monoxide monitors. And ensure that you have a ventilation system that can remove carbon monoxide.

Pesticides

Production of marijuana requires the use of insecticides and fungicides. Yet, some pesticides can cause skin and respiratory hazards. Employees cultivating or harvesting marijuana, loading or applying pesticides, cleaning equipment used in the application of pesticides can be affected.

According to the EPA Agricultural Worker Protection Standards, it’s mandatory for all employees applying pesticides or fungicides to be aware of the risks as indicated by the manufacturer. It is also important for your employees to wear the right PPE to protect them against exposure.

Protect Your Workers

Cannabis Industry Safety and Hazards PPE

In short, your workers are the lifeblood of your cannabis cultivation business. However, like other industries, your facility has the potential to expose your workers to several hazards. Such as dust, pesticides, UV light, marijuana resin, and mold spores among other hazards.

Exposure to these hazards has both short-term and long-term negative effects.

Additionally, the cleanliness of items used in the production of marijuana is important in the result of the product.

These circumstances affect indoor marijuana cultivation where conditions tend to be warm and damp, and have inadequate ventilation.

To sum up, given the unique Cannabis Industry Safety hazards, you should be familiar with the potential risks. Mitigate these hazards that can affect you, your product, and your employees. Use the right safety equipment and procedures.

Take a look at personal protective equipment, especially respiratory protection for cannabis industries and others.

For more Cannabis Industry Safety regulations and training specific to California, head to Cal/OSHA.

Biohazard Waste Bags – What Goes In Which Bag?

BioHazard Waste Bags are an important part of medical and healthcare. Be safe, medical procedures also generate significant amounts of waste, which can pose a threat to humans.

Whereever you work, a dental office, veterinary practice, laboratory, or a hospital, it is imperative to take necessary precautions when disposing of medical waste.  

For this, health care facilities must understand the classification of medical biohazard waste bags, as well as the appropriate ways of using different hazardous trash bags.

Not all waste can be handled in the same manner.   

What Is Medical Waste?

First, it is important to understand what qualifies as medical waste. It comprises all materials that may be infectious or toxic.

Medical bio-hazard waste is any waste that is generated during research, testing, sampling or treatment of animals and humans.

Use BioHazard Waste Bags for any waste that is generated during research, testing, sampling or treatment of animals and humans.
Identifying and segregating biohazard waste is a key part to healthcare waste management. Infectious Waste Bags are a critical piece in the handling, treatment, and disposal of medical waste.

It can contain numerous types of contaminants, including body fluids and blood. Some examples are: bandages, petri dishes, glassware, used needles, scalpels, gloves, and leftover organic material on tissues and swabs.

Reasons for Strict Hazardous Waste Bags Rules

Medical waste poses if not handled properly can cause grave harm to our society.Items that might be contaminated with bodily fluids can result in the spread of disease.

Items like scalpels and needles are sharp and may carry pathogens and lead to spreading infections and illness.

You must properly dispose of these items and materials.

Hazardous waste may also include chemicals such as: heavy metals, disinfectants, solvents, and mercury.

These have high potential to cause organ damage, poisoning, and birth defects. More so, waste with radiation can lead to the enhanced risk of cancer, or cause burns.

In comparison to household waste, the disposal and collection of medical waste is rather costly.

Minimize medical waste generation to reduce costs.

Improper disposal of medical waste can result in increased health risks, including:

  • Used syringes on the seashores
  • Infectious blood being dumped in numerous landfills, thereby damaging the soil
  • Pathogens contaminating air, water, and drinking supplies
  • Animals and humans getting deadly diseases when accidentally making contact with medical waste
  • Sharp objects resulting in injuries, not to mention the spread of infections

Since millions of surgeries are performed every day, it is the cleaning staff’s duty to thoroughly clean out operation theaters after every operation. And dispose of medical waste properly, and sanitize the area.

The challenging part is the staff has to decide what waste belongs in which type of hazardous trash bag category.

Red and Yellow: What Items Go in Which Bio-hazard Can Liner?

All waste items that have been generated from immunization, treatment, or diagnosis of animals and human beings must be regarded as medical waste.

Non-medical waste that has been contaminated with bio-hazardous material, is also considered to be medical waste.

These waste items have different ways of disposal, which is why there are different categories of medical waste bags.

The two most common types of hazardous trash bags are red plastic bags and yellow plastic bags.

Red Hazardous Waste Bags

Red biohazard waste bags are utilized to gather anatomic waste and bodily fluids.

These bags can be used for the disposal of:

  • Disposable gloves
  • Blood-soaked cloths and drapes
  • specimen swabs
  • medical apparatus
  • any item that has been contaminated visibly with bodily fluids or blood

Bodily fluids include saliva with blood (dental procedure), amniotic fluid, peritoneal fluid, pericardial fluid, pleural fluid, synovial fluid, cerebrospinal fluid, vaginal secretions, and semen.

Red Infectious BioHazard Waste Bags Liner, 15 Gal., 24x32, 250/case
Red Medical Waste Bags

Anything that has a visible amount of blood or other bodily fluid, even if it is difficult to determine what fluid it is, must be disposed of in red plastic bags. Any unfixed human organ or human tissue must also be disposed of in this bag.

Yellow Infectious Waste Liners

Yellow medical waste bags are utilized for disposing of clinical wastes, which include nappies, pads, aprons, soiled gloves, tissues, dressings, and swabs.

These bags must also be utilized for collecting fluid bags and IV lines, which are utilized for pharmaceutical medicines, syringe bodies, and disposable metallic parts.

It is important to note that yellow plastic bags must only be utilized for disposing of infectious and clinical waste, which contains pharmaceutical medicines and chemicals.

Avoid getting rid of placental waste, non-infectious waste, domestic waste, anatomical waste and pathological waste in these bags.

Red and Yellow BioHazard Waste Bags and Can Liners
Use Bio-Hazard Can Liners for Effective and safe healthcare waste management.

This shows how important it is for medical facilities to dispose of any waste that contains potentially contaminated by-products of medical treatment, research, or other medical activity. Whether it is from research laboratories, veterinary clinics, dentists, physician’s offices, or even funeral homes.

All types of medical waste must be disposed of in the right hazardous trash bags. Segregating medical waste allows medical staff to handle the waste easily and send the right items to the right disposal. Moreover, this is a great environmental practice that prevents the spread of diseases.

Bio-Hazard trash can liners and waste receptacles keep infectious waste separated from your other trash.

Also Consider Biohazard Specimen Transport Bags

When you need to take a biohazard sample from point A to point B, you need specialized pouches to do the job right.

Great for labs to keep staff, documents, and specimens safe during transport to testing.

Specimen Transport Bags, 100/pack
Zip-Style Biohazard Specimen Transport Bags for samples of swabs, urine, and other biohazard material that you need to safely transport.

If you are looking for such medical waste bags, then visit us Harmony as a distributor of lab and safety supplies that has been in the business for 15 years.


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