Benefits Buzz: May 2021

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This month's Benefits Buzz discusses the recently released FAQs and model notices for the COBRA premium assistance provisions of the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), as well as FAQs regarding the Consolidated Appropriations Act and mental health parity.

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Safety Focused Newsletter: May 2021

Using Machine Guards

Working with machinery and other heavy equipment is one of the top causes of workplace injuries. Machinery is necessary to create a level of efficiency that’s unreachable through manual labor. Although effective, this equipment comes with serious risks. However, your risk of accidental injury can be reduced through the use of machine guards.

Types of Machine Guards

Machine guards provide protection from machinery hazards by creating a covering that minimizes workplace injuries. This covering establishes a barrier, eliminating your ability to touch or get caught in moving parts. Any machine part, function or process that may cause injury should be guarded.

There are three different classifications of machine guards that you may encounter in the workplace:

1.       Fixed guards—These guards are stationary and difficult to remove. Plexiglass shields or wire barriers can be used when visibility is important.

2.       Adjustable guards—Moveable guards can be used when fixed guards would interfere with machine functionality. They must be manually positioned, which could leave room for human error and potential accidents.

3.       Self-adjusting guards—These guards move automatically to allow materials of different sizes to be processed without constant repositioning.

Safety Tips

While machine guard use helps prevent potential risks, there are still some further protocols you should follow:

  • Do not adjust or remove any guards without proper authorization.
  • Do not start machinery without guards in place.
  • If the guard is missing or not working, do not operate the machine.

For more information on safe machine guard use in the workplace, contact your supervisor.

Handling Insect Bites and Stings

Although warmer weather often entails more time spent working outdoors, it also creates additional exposure to insects. Specifically, working outdoors during the spring and summer months can elevate your risk of experiencing insect bites and stings.

To help prevent insect bites and stings on the job, follow these tips:

  • Use insect repellent—Use a repellent that contains between 20% and 30% DEET on exposed skin and clothing. Reapply the repellent as directed.
  • Wear appropriate clothing—Cover any exposed skin as much as possible by wearing a long-sleeved shirt, pants, socks and close-toed shoes.
  • Pay attention to outbreaks—Check out the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's travel health notices webpage for recent insect outbreaks.

Even after taking steps to reduce your risk, insect bites and stings can still happen. If you find yourself bit or stung, follow these response tips:

  • Move to a safe, indoor area to avoid additional bites or stings.
  • If needed, remove the stinger.
  • Clean the area with soap and water.
  • Apply a cool compress to the area to reduce pain and swelling. If the affected area is on your leg, be sure to elevate it.
  • Apply cortisone cream, calamine lotion or baking soda to the affected area several times a day, until the symptoms go away.
  • Consider taking an antihistamine to help reduce itchiness. Follow all dosage instructions.

If you experience any of the following symptoms after an insect bite or sting, please seek medical attention immediately:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Swelling of the lips, eyelids or throat
  • Dizziness, faintness or confusion
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Hives
  • Nausea, cramps or vomiting

If you have any further questions about preventing or responding to insect bites and stings in the workplace, contact your supervisor.

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