Archives for October 2013

It’s Patient Safety Awareness Week: Do Your Part!

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This week, we are celebrating Canadian Patient Safety Week (CPSW). This annual campaign, which started in 2005, focuses on the state of patient safety and quality in the country. It aims to raise awareness and boost the involvement of patients, family, healthcare providers, and the public in promoting best practices in patient safety.

CPSW’s theme, “Ask. Listen. Talk,” encourages patients and healthcare providers alike to ASK questions, LISTEN to the answers, and TALK openly about their concerns in order to improve patient safety.

As healthcare providers, you have a big responsibility in making sure your facilities are safe for your patients. Here are eight helpful tips to guide you in enhancing patient safety in your facility:

  1. Assess and improve your patient safety culture. Survey your hospital staff to evaluate your facility’s patient safety culture. There are surveys available that are designed to provide basic knowledge and tools for evaluating the impact of interventions, improving patient safety culture, and tracking any changes over time. Your patients’ and staffs’ feedback on how to improve patient safety will also help in your assessment.
  2.  Build a cooperative culture. Train hospital staff to work as a team and practice effective communication and other teamwork skills. Encourage employees to help each other when things get busy. Coach supervisors to refrain from pressuring staff members to work faster at the possible expense of patient care.
  3. Limit shift durations for medical residents and other hospital staff if possible. Overworked and over-fatigued staff are more likely to make mistakes. Make sure your people get ample sleep and follow the allowed workweek limit. This will also keep medical staff from getting into motor vehicle accidents and needle stick injuries due to sleep-deprivation.
  4. Implement constant audit of transfer of knowledge about patients between shifts. This ensures that crucial information is not lost or overlooked between patient watch turnovers.
  5. Set up a safety reporting system. Report and share patient safety information with Patient Safety Organizations (PSOs). These organizations have web-based reporting systems where you can log, analyze and compare patient data that can help improve quality by identifying and reducing risks and hazards associated with healthcare.
  6. Equip your facility with adequate emergency first-response tools and equipment. First aid is essential in emergency cases. In hospitals and clinics, unexpected emergency situations can still occur even if a patient is already in their care. First aid tools such as first aid kits, CPR kits, biohazard kits, and eyewash stations offer immediate medical treatment when professional equipment are not yet available on the scene.
  7. Minimize unnecessary interruptions. Lessen distractions during work hours in the hospital, especially in crucial times such as shift changes and administering medicine. Encourage your staff to speak up when needed but create a “silence zone” near medication preparation carts and other areas where utmost concentration is essential.
  8. Apply good hospital design principles in your facility. A well-planned facility can drastically lessen accidents and injuries. Well-designed patient rooms and bathrooms can prevent patient slips, trips, and falls. A de-centralized nurse’ stations offer more access to patients. Reduce infections by improving air-filtration systems, offering single-bed rooms, and providing multiple convenient hand washing areas. Prevent medication mistakes by provide pharmacists with well-lit, quiet private spaces to let them fill out prescriptions without distractions.

The health, safety and comfort of your patients should be your number one priority. Ensuring patient safety is a reflection of high quality health care. You, as a healthcare provider, should always strive hard to provide patients with the safest possible experience, while meeting medical needs with quality experienced care.

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Connect with Maria Marnelli G. Medina on Google+

Improve Inventory Locations With Effective Labeling

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Proper inventory management depends on knowing the best place to put inventory, and being able to easily locate it.  Far too many businesses deposit their inventory in places that are inadequately labeled, or lack clear means of identification. This is especially unfortunate since labeling inventory locations can be done quite easily, with a little proper planning and the use of labels.

Inventory Storage Areas: Knowing What Goes Where

Location names don’t need to be (and indeed should not be) complicated.  Planning out how to name inventory locations takes into account existing factors in the facility, such as physical structure, layout, and conventions that are already in use.  When coming up with the proper designation for inventory locations, here are a few general factors to consider:

  • Provide location names to as many physical spaces in the facility as possible, even those that are unoccupied or not in use.  In fact, whenever possible, every location in the establishment should be provided with proper labeling.
  • Make use of unique names or terms. No two locations should be referred to by the same terms.
  • Location labels should display the full name of the location, with arrows pointing in the direction of that area.

Group Locations Accordingly.  Inventory operations that involve large and/or several facilities would require adequate grouping or zoning conventions for quality control. Managing large or multiple storage areas will require dividing the location into smaller spaces, which will then be labeled accordingly.  These areas should be labeled in ascending numerical order, starting from the uppermost area going down to the lowest, moving from left to right.

It is key to match the labeling scheme with how inventory reports print out, with the data including both inventory locations and the items that need to be stored in those areas. With this scheme, individuals tasked with inventory checks and maintenance can perform their tasks in a single, orderly fashion.

Section Labels. Break down specific locations further into sections. Maintain a consistent method of designating these sections, to ensure that they can be located quickly and easily.

Detailed Location Names. It is a good practice to name locations within a section using numbers.  Again, follow an ascending numerical order starting at the highest location (the top most shelf, for instance), going down towards the floor.

Provide Clear, Easy-to-Read Labels.  Make sure to use labels that are easy to distinguish and identify.  Labels that don’t clearly state which location they’re referring to (no arrows when they are needed), or with poorly-printed letters (too small, do not contrast against backgrounds, etc) defeat the purpose of using of labels in the first place. Instead of simplifying day-to-day tasks, inadequate labels will slow down operations and cause shipping delays and errors.  These in turn will result in wasted time and effort as well as loss of revenue.

Locations in a facility should be properly designated and appropriately labeled. The potential cost of labeling is quite small compared to what can happen when items are lost as a result of mix-ups.  Using the proper labels for identifying inventory locations saves time, streamlines inventory management, and improves overall business procedures.

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Connect with Marian Aldana on Google+.

PPE: Preventing Injuries and Saving Lives

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Personal protective equipment (PPE) is considered by some unimportant, or even annoying, depending on it only when other factors have failed to eliminate risks.  They consider PPE a last line of defense against potentially harmful substances or occasions.  They couldn’t be more wrong.

Drawing Safety Lines. For individuals employed in high-risk work areas, PPE is not their last resort it is their first line of prevention as well as defense.

Whether gloves, hard hats, hazmat suits or respirators, the PPE they wear act as a barrier against debris, chemicals and other substances. They serve as a protective layer that safeguards the safety and well-being of employees. In certain instances, they are the very means that allow workers to effectively perform their tasks.

In fact, there are situations where there are no alternatives to PPE. For most employees, it provides an alternative to more costly engineering solutions. And since accidents happen in all facilities, PPE is an integral component of an establishment’s occupational health and safety plan.

To effectively keep workers safe from the hazards of their jobs, safety equipment is required to be designed, manufactured and tested to meet safety standards. PPE equipment is designed and manufactured to withstand severe chemical reactions and the force of falling objects.

On construction sites, for instance, falling objects are a common work hazard.  As such, employees are required to wear hard hats (as well as other PPE) to keep them safe from potentially fatal accidents. Made with rigid outer shells to resist and deflect blows against the head, hard hats are also built with suspension systems that absorb the shock of impact.

Making a Choice for Safety. Employers are required by law to ensure the health and safety of their employees, by making the job and work environment as safe as possible. Workers without the proper safety equipment are exposed to serious and potentially fatal injury. Even simple items such as gloves can prevent serious injuries, by preventing chemicals from getting onto the wearer’s skin, or sharp edges from wounding the worker’s hands.

Maintaining safety equipment and developing risk-reducing business protocols are part of an establishment’s responsibility to keep its workers safe. To maximize the use of PPE, knowledge of the workplace and potential occupational health and safety hazards should go into the process of selecting the particular equipment to be used. Employees should also be trained in wearing and general maintenance.

Facilities that fail to comply with PPE regulations could be fined, legally sanctioned, or even completely shut down.  Personal protective equipment is an integral part of worker protection. Neither employers nor employees can afford to treat them as an afterthought. PPE is not just the last line of defense for employees, it’s also their first.

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Connect with Marian Aldana on Google+.

Asset Id Labels: Your Assets’ Silent Protector

Asset Labels

 

Keeping track of company assets is no walk in the park. So much so that a variety of systems have been created to tackle the problem, from RFID (both active and passive) tracking to GPS asset tracking when dealing with items and devices around the world. While both have their place, we shouldn’t forget about one of the first and still one of the most effective ways of tracking company assets: Asset ID Labels.

Asset ID Labels are cost-effective

Asset Labels, while not as flashy as their GPS or RFID counterparts, are a lot cheaper. Sure, the tracking feature is definitely useful for certain organizations which routinely send some of their assets halfway around the world. However, if the furthest your assets travel is from the facility to a worksite, then why spend more than you need to? With asset ID labels, you save your company thousands of dollars and still end up with a viable method of keeping track of your assets.

Of course, your organization will need to keep track of the different assets via a log book where you can find the location of the item or who the item is assigned to. Each item will have a unique identifying number on it, or a bar code, so that in the event of an asset audit you can quickly and effectively check everything.

Asset ID Labels are easy to integrate into existing systems

It’s hard to get by without some form of asset tracking, be it via log books or a “check-out” method for procuring assets. The labels can easily be added into a variety of existing systems with minimal to no change to your existing workflow.

This makes it more convenient to implement and lowers employee resistance when deploying it to your site. This not only ensures a higher acceptance rate but also keeps your day-to-day operations uninterrupted.

Asset ID Labels prevent the loss of expensive, hard-to-replace equipment

Finally, we get down to the meat and bones of Asset ID Labels: preventing loss. With each asset properly labeled, we can reduce mix-ups as each item is clearly marked with the company’s logo which can help facilitate the return of misplaced items. In addition, it is easy to trace who is responsible for the item and who should be held accountable for it.

Another bonus of Asset ID Labels is that it prevents more unsavory characters from switching out company assets with lower-grade or cheaper items. In essence, these items are not only safe from loss but also from unauthorized replacement.

Inventory Tracking Made Easy With Asset ID Labels

All in all, asset ID labels can prove to be one of the best investments your company ever makes. Implementation and deployment are easy enough and the returns are huge. It will still take a little work to get the maximum benefits from having asset ID labels but trust us when we say that it’s worth it.

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Connect with Enrico Santos on Google+.

Installing U-Channel Sign Posts

Sign PostsThe truth is, not all sign  posts are alike. Sign posts come in different shapes, sizes, styles, and materials.  Choosing the right one depends on the location, the sign, and your general preference.  You can even choose a portable sign post that you can easily carry with no installation needed. In terms of style and shape, there are tubular or cylindrical posts, traditional square posts, and u-channel posts.

U-Channel posts are the most popular choice because they are easy to install and very versatile.  They feature  perforations which means different size signs can be conveniently displayed at almost any height. These posts are available in a variety of heights and colours suitable for outdoors and indoors.

Installing u-channel sign posts in the ground is easy compared to tubular posts where you have to actually dig up the ground. For u-channel posts, all you need are a post driver, level, marker, and measuring tape. You’ll need washers, nuts, and bolts when installing the actual sign to the sign post.

Here’s a step by step guide to installing your u-channel sign post:

Step 1: Find the best location for your sign post. Choose a highly visible spot with no trees or shrubberies that may hide the sign. Make sure no underground utility like electricity or water line is present on the sign post spot.

Step 2: Determine the length of the post that needs to be buried. You need to drive the post far into the ground according the sign post’s height. This is to prevent the post loosening up over time and falling over. Use a measuring tape (start from the bottom) and mark the appropriate length of the post. Here’s a short guide:

  • 4 ft. post – 1-1/2 ft. deep
  • 6-7 ft. post – 2-1/2 ft. deep
  • 8-12 ft. post – 3-1/2 ft. deep

Step 3: Mark the spot for the post with spray paint. This is especially helpful if you need to install many posts in your facility or streets.

Step 4: Aim the bottom of the sign post directly on the mark.How to Install Sign Posts

Step 5: Enlist the help of an assistant. Ask him or her to bring you the post driver.

Step 6: Hand over the post to your assistant as you slip the driver on top of the post.

Step 7: Carefully walk the post up into an upright position with you holding on to the handles of the post driver. Use a ladder if you need one to drive the post.

Step 8: Drive the post manually using the driver by simply pushing the driver up and letting it slide back down, essentially hammering the post into place. Repeat as needed.

Step 9: After burying the post a few inches deep, check to see if the post is straight with a level tool.

Step 10: Install the sign on the correct side of the u-channel post. This is the open side of “u”, the one with the two pairs of flaps that should sit flat on the back of the sign, giving it extra support which prevents the sign from folding. Use the nuts and bolts to secure the sign to the post.

 

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Connect with Annaliza Vasallo on Google+

5S Methodology in Warehouse Management

5s Red Tag SignNo one is sure exactly how the 5’s methodology began.  But in the 1970s, Japan’s premiere automotive company, Toyota, was notably the company that set the standard. Just like Sun Tzu’s the Art of War, the principles derived from the 5S methodology can be applied in many ways to achieve efficiency. Warehouse management is just one aspect of your business that could benefit from these principles.

Sort or Seiri – In organizing your workplace and home, the first thing to do is to sort. In home improvement, you separate stuff you need, stuff you can throw out, and stuff that can be donated or sold in a garage sale. In sorting your warehouse inventories and company assets, the same principle applies. Discard all the items that you no longer have any use for to clear valuable space for incoming materials or products in need of storage. Keep only what you need and set priorities through processes like FIFO (First In First Out) or LIFO (Last In First Out).

Tools you need:

  • Red Tags and Red Tag Boards – Systematically remove items in your warehouse with approval of the supervisor to ensure items discarded are reviewed.
  • Equipment Tags – Tag machines and equipment in need of repairs with status tags that indicate machines in need of repairs and those that are OK to use.

Streamline (aka Straighten or Stabilize) or Seiton – Streamlining or organizing the warehouse is probably the most challenging aspect of 5S. There is no one-size-fits-all solution. You have to figure out how your warehouse processes flows and how you can eliminate waste in terms of time and resources.

Tools you need:

  • Warehouse Signs – Put up instructions and reminders to alert and guide workers in your warehouse.
  • Floor and Aisle Markers – Clearly marked areas and paths are essential in improving foot traffic. It eliminates confusion and workers will know exactly where they are and where they need to go.
  • Labels and Inventory Tags – Identify the content in each storage space to avoid wasting time looking for specific equipment or tools.

Shine or Seiso – Maintain good housekeeping in your warehouse. Leaks and spills should be taken care of immediately as these are unnecessary hazards that may cause slips and falls. It’s important to maintain cleanliness in the facility to be able to clearly evaluate where efficiency is lacking.

Tools you need:

  • Janitorial Supplies – Use heavy-duty industrial cleaning tools and supplies to save cost in the long run.
  • Spill Kits – Always have a professional spill kit ready. Choose the best spill kit that’s right for your workplace.

Standardize or Seiketsu – Consistency in implementing your new system is the key to improved efficiency. It’s essential to have a work manual that documents the standards implemented. Regular training sessions also help workers deal with not just the regular work but also how to react in situations like breakdown of equipment, chemical spills, and emergencies.

Tools you need:

  • Work Posters or Charts – A simple visual guide that summarizes the work flow. It could be used to locate where the different work areas and equipment are located.
  • Training Manuals and Videos – To set standard practices, new workers have to undergo training. Regular refreshers are also recommended for workers assigned to new tasks.

Sustain or Shitsuke – It’s easy to slip back to old habits without proper monitoring and evaluation. Conduct regular evaluation or even surprise inspections to make sure workers are following the new standards.

Be open to change when a new standard or policy is not working out. 5S, after all, is not about complacency but rather the continuous striving for perfection.

 

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Connect with Annaliza Vasallo on Google+

What You Should Know About Pipe Markers

Do you know why it’s important to have the correct pipe markings in your facility? It helps your employees and independent contractors identify the contents of various pipes in your facility during maintenance. Pipe markers aid in locating specific pipes for repairs or upgrade, and at the same time minimizes the risk of accidents and injuries. But did you also know that it’s not enough to have pipe markers installed in your facility? You should follow strict regulations when using pipe identification tools and valve tags.

The most commonly followed pipe marking standard is ANSI/ASME A13.1-2007. This standard talks about two ways of identifying the different contents, colours, sizes and placement of specific pipe markers.

  •  Primary Identification – This sort of pipe identification uses legends and directional flow arrows for identifying the contents of pipes. For more information on size and placement of arrow markers check the chart below.
  • Secondary Identification – This method uses a specific colour code to help identify specific substances, for example: Yellow/Black is used for flammable fluids and Green/White is used for various water types including potable, boiler feed and cooling water.

This colour-coding method has seen significant changes over the years with the addition of the Brown/White colour code to identify combustible fluids and the Orange/Black code for corrosive or toxic fluids. It is recommended that you consult the Material Safety Data Sheets to help you determine the risk factor of each substance which in turn will help you mark each pipe accordingly. For a more detailed description about pipe marker regulations, please refer to the chart below.

ANSI Pipe Marker Regulations - Inforgraphic

 

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Connect with Paolo Balingit on Google+

Selecting Traffic Sign Materials

Traffic Signs

Traffic signs are one of the most essential tools to prevent chaos on the highways and streets of every town and city on the planet. From makeshift wooden boards to professionally designed and manufactured LED-illuminated traffic signs, they help travelers arrive at their destination.

Standards for Canadian traffic signs specifying materials, wording, installation, etc. can be found in the MUTCD (Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Device) which closely follows the MUTCD for the United States. Since the two countries have fairly similar driving situations, it makes sense to have uniformity of traffic signs. In Canada, provinces and territories may also have their own manuals based on the MUTCD standards such as the Manual of Standard Traffic Signs and Pavement Markings from the British Columbia Ministry of Transportation and Highways.

The effectiveness of traffic signs depends on a number of elements. The most important, of course, is the legibility of each sign followed by durability. The material the sign is made of will effect both of those.    There are a variety of road sign materials that are available and each one has its own benefits and disadvantages.

Traffic Sign Materials:

Aluminum – Traffic safety signs made of aluminum are able to withstand the outdoor conditions of the road. Aside from the fact that aluminum is more durable than plastic, it’s also rust and corrosion-proof. Because of its lightweight characteristics, aluminum road signs are easy to install. One drawback of using aluminum, though, is that it’s prone to dents and scratches. It’s also more expensive than plastic.

Steel – In terms of durability, nothing compares to heavy-duty galvanized steel signs. With its 18-gauge steel sheet that’s .05 inches thick, signs could last decades without needing replacements. Steel doesn’t easily bend or dent making it virtually maintenance-free. However, galvanized steel signs are fairly heavy which means they need heavy-duty hardware for installation.

Polyethylene – High-density plastic is the least expensive material used in signage. Typical signs are .125 inches thick which is strong enough to withstand indoor as well as regular outdoor conditions. Because polyethylene signs are easy to install and to customize, these signs are ideal for parking lots where companies can include their logos and employee names to reserve parking spaces. And while its most obvious weakness is that it easily buckles and collapses upon impact, plastic signs can actually reduce injuries to people and vehicles because of this very reason.

The material’s reflectivity is another aspect of traffic and parking signs that should be considered. Drivers and pedestrians need to be able to read the signs even under low-light and nighttime conditions to prevent accidents and collisions.

Traffic Sign Reflectivity:

Non-Reflective – Modern road signs usually need reflective materials or illumination during the night to guide drivers and motorists. Non-reflective signs are recommended only for well-lit areas and signs that are not vital at night. Parking signs and other facility signs can be made with non-reflective materials. For official traffic signs, however, the standard is still retro-reflective or illuminated signs.

Engineer-Grade Reflective – Materials that are classified Engineer-Grade reflective are visible for up to 500 feet. The material’s reflectivity has a lifespan of 5 to 7 years. It’s recommended to use engineer-grade reflectivity on non-critical signage only such as parking lot signs and way-finding signs.

High-Intensity Reflective – Most traffic signs are made with high-intensity reflectivity. The material is visible up to 1,000 feet which makes it ideal for highways, roadways, and essential street signs.

 

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Points to Consider When Choosing Sign Posts

Sign PostsSigns remind us where we are and where we are headed. Without signs, there would be utter chaos in the streets and highways. Navigation would be virtually impossible in our complex modern world.

Sign posts, bases and stanchions are just as important as the signs they hold up. Without proper accessories and hardware, your signs might just as well be as temporary as a cardboard marker that flies away with a sudden gust of wind.

Traffic Sign Posts

Road signs are especially vulnerable to weather conditions, graffiti, and accidents. You need strong sign posts that can withstand these elements if you don’t want to keep spending money trying to replace your signs.

According to the Manual of Standard Traffic Signs & Pavement Markings by the Ministry of Transportation and Highways in British Columbia, traffic sign posts may be made of wood, metal or plastic, though they recommend plastic be used for highway delineators only.

The ministry also recommends:

  • To position signs against the wind, plowed snow and be high enough to discourage displacement by vandals
  • To install signs behind barriers or breakaway footings to prevent vehicles from hitting them
  • To drill a hole through a 15 cm x 15 cm (6 sq in) post above ground to allow breakage if hit (in accordance with Standard Specifications for Highway Construction)
  • To check for underground utility lines before excavation
  • To ensure concrete sign bases are level and are behind roadside barriers
  • To install more than 1 post for large signs at least 1.2 me wide
  • To install uniform posts (same material and style) across highway sections for aesthetic purposes

Types of Sign Posts

The market offers a variety of sign posts to choose from. There are permanent posts that you can drive through the ground using a post driver and there are portable sign systems with stable bases you could position in different locations around your facility.

Permanent Sign Posts

There are different materials, sizes, and styles of permanent sign posts. There are u-channel posts which are made of perforated galvanized steel or dry coat steel, tubular posts made of rust-proof steel, and fixed-base posts that can be mounted on the ground using bolts.

Temporary Sign Posts

Portable sign posts can be made of rubber, cast iron, polyethylene, etc. These sign posts are especially useful for facility driveways and parking lots.

Flexible Sign Posts

Flexible sign posts are ideal for locations where vehicle impact is expected. These special posts bend and bounce right back up after contact with vehicles.

 

Sign PostsReflective Sign Posts

Reflective panels on posts and bases increase visibility that’s critical during low light and night time conditions. The reflectivity allows drivers to avoid hitting signs that may cause unnecessary damage to both vehicle and sign post.  Reflective sign post options are recommended for areas with high vehicular traffic.

Signs are incomplete without the proper sign posts to hold it up. Consider these points when choosing sign posts for your facilities, streets, or highways.

Connect with Annaliza Vasallo on Google+