Summer is here, and we're focused on safety. Whether at work or home, indoors or outdoors, this edition of Health e-News is packed with tips for staying safe and healthy.
Looking for ways to beat the heat? Ward off insect bites? Prevent sunburn or injuries at the pool? How about learning the essentials of a well-equipped first aid kit? Find all this and more in the helpful articles below.
We invite you to share this valuable news with your employees. A version of this month's newsletter designed for them is available at: http://goo.gl/FWixJ.
To your good health,
Manager, Wellness and Employer Solutions
Affinity Health System
|Keep Workers Safe in the Heat
With summer upon us, now is the time to prepare for sweltering work conditions. Are you keeping your employees safe indoors and out? Here are some tips for preventing heat illness on the job, from Affinity Occupational Health physician Charles Capasso, MD.
The body maintains a consistent internal temperature by sweating and increasing blood flow to the skin. When high temps, hot sun and humidity enter the mix, the body's ability to regulate itself can become compromised. This is especially true when a job demands intense physical activity, either outdoors or in a building without air conditioning or proper air ventilation.
There are three important types of heat illness to remember: fainting; heat exhaustion (weakness, headache, nausea); and heat stroke, a medical emergency in which a person can become delirious, unconscious or suffer seizures. If you suspect heat stroke, call 911 immediately.
Prevent heat illness by taking these steps:
Encourage workers to drink plenty of cool water, about one cup every 15 to 20 minutes, even if they're not thirsty. Avoid beverages that can dehydrate the body, such as coffee, tea, caffeinated soft drinks and, of course, alcohol.
Help workers adjust to the heat by assigning a lighter workload and longer rest periods for the first five to seven days of intense heat exposure. Start the process over again when the worker returns from vacation or is absent for two weeks or more.
Encourage workers to wear lightweight, light-colored, loose-fitting clothing. Workers should change their clothes if they get completely saturated.
Use general ventilation and spot cooling at points of high heat production. Good airflow helps sweat evaporate and cools the skin.
Train supervisors and first aid workers to recognize and treat signs of heat illness, and make sure all employees know who is trained to provide aid. Allow employees to interrupt work if they become extremely uncomfortable.
Consider a worker's health and physical condition - is he or she fit to work in hot environments? Obese or out-of-shape workers, pregnant women and anyone getting inadequate sleep are more susceptible to heat stress.
Alternate work and rest periods with rest stops in a cooler area. Short, more frequent work-rest cycles are best. Schedule heavy work for cooler times of the day and use appropriate protective clothing.
Monitor temperature, humidity and workers' response to heat at least hourly.
For people working outdoors, extra precautions are recommended:
- Wear protective clothing that does not transmit visible light.
- Frequently apply sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 15 or higher.
- Wear broad-brimmed hats that protect the face, ears and neck.
- Wear sunglasses that block UV rays.
- Seek shade, if possible, when the sun's intensity is at its peak.
- Beware of signs and symptoms of skin cancers and see a doctor if an unusual skin change occurs.
Try This! Workplace Wellness Tip:
By Rachel Johnson, RD, wellness account specialist
Affinity Occupational Health
Whether your employees are working outdoors in the heat of the day or from a desk in an air conditioned office, optimal hydration is essential for peak performance and quick thinking.
Consider implementing a few of these ideas to encourage your employees to drink more water throughout the work day.
Supply your employees with ample water by placing water coolers throughout the facility in high traffic locations such as meeting rooms, break rooms, outside restrooms and other convenient sites.
Don't count on employees always having their own water container on hand. Provide employees with water bottles, glasses, or disposable cups. By providing them with the necessary container, you may prevent them from choosing a high-sugar, highly caffeinated beverage from the vending machine.
Eliminate the high-sugar, highly caffeinated alternatives and remove the soda machines. If this is too drastic, consider replacing half or three quarters of the soda options with bottled water choices.
If plain water is too boring, create a "watering hole" for employees and keep it stocked with herbal teas to make hot or cold tea, lemon slices, and fresh fruit. Employees will be able to naturally add flavor to their next glass.
Run a campaign to remind employees to stay well hydrated through the summer months. Posters and signs can be funny or serious, reminding employees of the importance of staying hydrated and the benefits of water.
Implement a month-long water drinking challenge and encourage employees to up their intake of water, decrease their intake of sugar-sweetened beverages, and track their progress. Those who meet the challenge goal can be entered to win prizes or earn recognition for their new healthy habit.
Water you drinking?
First Aid Essentials
Does your workplace have a "first responder" plan in the event of an injury or medical emergency? It should! Here are three essential components of an effective first aid program.
People: First Responders
Every organization should have a qualified person or team designated to deliver first aid when needed. First responders should be:
- clear-headed and quick-thinking on their feet
- not shy about the sight of blood
First responders need specialized training in CPR and the use of an automated external defibrillator (AED). Look for accredited training programs by professionals with real-life experience in responding to medical emergencies.
Communication: Crisis Planning
It's critical to have a communication plan with a backup system in place in case the first line of communication fails.
- At the onset of an emergency, how will you alert first responders?
- How will first responders stay in contact with each other?
- How will they know what the others are doing or planning to do?
Supplies: Stock Your Kit
Once you have your first responders in place, make sure your facility is stocked with these essential supplies.
- Automated external defibrillator (AED)
- Nitrile gloves
- CPR barriers
- Gowns/face shields
- 4x4 dressings
- 5x9 dressings
- Major trauma dressings
- Band aids
- 81 mg baby aspirin for heart attacks
- 4-inch Kling or Kerlix brand bandages
- Large ice packs
Check your kits regularly and replace any supplies that are out of stock or expired.
Choosing the Best SPF
Protect your skin in the sun!
Ah, summer. The sun, the shorts, the painful sunburned skin. Be smart -- lube up. Sun protection is especially important for people who work outdoors. When choosing the right defense against harmful rays, consider these factors.
Sunscreen vs. Sunblock
Sunscreen absorbs UV rays. Sunblock reflects them. Sunscreen is commonly found in a variety of lotions, creams and gels that disappear on the skin. Sunblock was once recognized as the "white stuff" on a lifeguard's nose, but newer formulas are less noticeable.
Prevent More Than Just Sunburn
Think you can skip sunscreen because you have the type of skin that rarely burns? Think again. Sunscreen prevents not just sunburn, but also the long-term damaging effects of the sun, including aging, wrinkles and brown spots.
SPF 2 vs. 50
Sun-protection factor or SPF refers to the sunscreen's ability to protect skin from ultraviolet rays. For example, if you choose an SPF of 15, you can be in the sun 15 times longer than you can without sunscreen before burning. However, SPF protection does not increase proportionally with the numbers. An SPF of 2 will absorb 50 percent of UV radiation, an SPF of 15 will absorb 93 percent, and an SPF of 30 jumps just slightly to 97 percent. SPF 15 is recommended for daily use. People with fair skin should opt for a higher SPF.
UVB and UVA
"Broad-spectrum" sunscreens that protect against UVB and UVA rays are best. Ultraviolet B (UVB) radiation is responsible for nasty sunburn. Ultraviolet A (UVA) radiation penetrates deeper to cause long-term aging and wrinkles. Keep in mind an SPF rating refers only to a sunscreen's ability to protect against UVB rays. There is currently no FDA-approved system for rating UVA protection.
Waterproof vs. Water-resistant
Swimming and sweating can affect sunscreen's ability to protect your skin. A sunscreen is labeled "waterproof" if it maintains its SPF level after 80 minutes of water exposure. It's "water-resistant" if the SPF holds steady after just 40 minutes.
Apply, Apply, and Apply Again
The secret to making sunscreen work for you is to apply it often and everywhere. Follow the instructions written on the bottle and be sure to cover every inch of skin that's exposed to sun. If you're wearing light-colored or light-weight clothing, apply sunscreen beneath your garments as well.
It might seem like a chore, but properly applying sunscreen -- not just in summer but any time of year -- can help keep your skin healthy, youthful and pain-free.
|What's Bugging You?
|Insect Protection 101
Love nature but not the bugs? This summer, protect yourself and your family with the right bug repellant!
DEET - This insecticide is a bug's worst enemy. Contained in brand-name repellants such as Off or Cutter, DEET (Diethyl Toluamide) is generally considered the strongest, most effective option available for keeping bugs off your skin. If you're uncomfortable with the idea of spraying chemicals on your skin, keep in mind that when used as directed, bug repellants on the market have been deemed safe by the Environmental Protection Agency.
Repellants with a 10% concentration of DEET will protect for up to two hours. If you're going to be outdoors for a long period of time or in areas known to be thickly infested with insects, especially those carrying West Nile virus or Lyme disease, you may want to choose a higher concentration of DEET. Children age 2 months and older should use no more than a 30% concentration of DEET, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. Do not apply bug spray to babies younger than 2 months.
Picaridin - An alternative chemical, picaridin, is available in the U.S. in up to a 20% formula. While DEET still outperforms this competitor, picaridin's advantages are that it won't damage gear (DEET can harm plastic) and generally smells better.
Natural remedies - In addition to chemical repellants, several natural defenses have been shown to ward off insects.
Oil of lemon eucalyptus: The CDC recommends this natural oil as an alternative to DEET, offering up to two hours of protection similar to a 7% or 15% DEET formula. It can be poisonous if ingested in large quantities, however, and should not be used on children younger than 3.
Soy: Bite-Blocker is a soy-based mosquito repellant found to be as effective as low-concentration DEET.
Citronella and peppermint oil are often touted as bug repellants, but studies have shown them to be mostly ineffective.
No matter which repellant you choose, follow these general guidelines:
- If possible, spray repellant on your clothes rather than on your skin.
- Use a spray pump rather than aerosol for children, to prevent them from inhaling excess repellant.
- Don't apply repellant to a child's hands.
- Always wash your own hands after touching chemical bug repellants, especially before handling food.
- Wash the repellant off your skin as soon as possible when you return indoors.
- Always watch for allergic reactions.
Now get out there and have some summer fun!
|Breakfast With the Experts|
Share your ideas!
Planning is underway for our 2013-2014 Breakfast With the Experts series. Is there a topic you'd like to know more about? We welcome your questions and suggestions for upcoming breakfast presentations. Please contact Sarah Jedlicka with your ideas at firstname.lastname@example.org
Important water safety tips for the whole family
Ready to dive in? Whether your family enjoys the pool, beach, or boating, make water safety a top priority this summer. Here's how.
- Take swim lessons if you don't know how to swim. Sign your kids up for lessons as soon as they are old enough.
- Swim near a lifeguard and never swim alone.
- Don't drink alcohol if you are swimming or watching children.
- Use floating toys like water wings and noodles for fun -- not for safety. Don't use them in place of life jackets.
- Watch out for rip currents. A rip current is when the water pulls you away from shore. If you get caught in a rip current, swim along the shoreline until you are out of the current, then swim to shore.
Watch children carefully.
- Make sure at least one adult is watching when children are near or in the water.
- Don't read or use the phone while you are watching young children.
- Watch all children in the water, even if they know how to swim.
- If you have a pool, install four-sided fencing that's at least four feet high and separates the pool from the house or yard. Use self-closing and self-latching gates that open outward and are out of reach of children.
Check water and weather conditions before going swimming.
- Don't swim in lakes, rivers, or the ocean after heavy rain. Water is more likely to be polluted after a rain storm.
- Check for signs or warnings about bacteria or other pollution in the water.
- Get out of the water right away if you hear thunder or see lightning. Strong winds can also be dangerous.
Protect yourself and others from germs in the water.
- Try not to get water in your mouth.
- Make sure everyone is clean before swimming. Shower with soap. Wash your hands after using the bathroom or changing diapers.
- Take your kids on bathroom breaks or check diapers often. Change diapers in a bathroom or a diaper-changing area.
Protect your skin from the sun.
- Wear plenty of sunscreen with a minimum SPF of 15.
- Put on more sunscreen every couple of hours and after swimming.
Source: healthfinder.gov, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Your Affinity Occupational Health Sales Team
Holly Tomlin, manager of wellness and employer solutions for Affinity Occupational Health, enjoys building relationships with clients while finding creative solutions for their needs. Holly's background includes 15 years of experience in the health care field, with a strong background in employee assistance programs and occupational health. As a certified massage therapist, Holly has a special interest in educating others on the benefits of a healthy lifestyle, including wellness and prevention initiatives.
Tammy Davis, account manager for Affinity Occupational Health, provides corporate clients with valuable information regarding services offered through Affinity Occupational Health. She works closely with clients to determine their specific needs for health and wellness services. Tammy has a bachelor's degree in business administration from UW Oshkosh and over 20 years of experience in marketing, sales, and customer service.
To contact Holly or Tammy, call the Affinity Occupational Health office located in Menasha, at 1-800-541-0351, or e-mail email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.