Quest 2 & 3: A brief look at how OHS affects my friends and family...
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Fit For Firefighting: How To Train When Lives Depend On It

Fit For Firefighting: How To Train When Lives Depend On It | Quest 2 & 3: A brief look at how OHS affects my friends and family... | Scoop.it
What better time than 9/11 to present the ultimate firefighter workout.
Amy Weise's insight:

Physical fitness in this type of industry is mandatory, but are firefighters following the right fitness guidelines? The idea behind a fireman's physical fitness is to prevent work-related illness and injury, but historically, many are using fitness guidelines that are designed and structured for athletes.

 

A firefighters fitness needs to be functional and therefore requires more tactical strength and conditioning to be able to perform their role to the best of their ability. For example, their specialised personal protective gear and breathing equipment, including oxygen tanks, contain a significant amount of weight. Overtime, this can significantly impair postural function and balance, which can subsequently lead to a decrease in physical performance and an increase in physical stress.

 

Some activities that would require strength, endurance and flexibility as a firefighter are:

*  Carrying heavy equipment flights of stairs

*  Running out lines of hose

*  Lifting and pitching heavy ladders

*  Handling heavy hydraulic cutting equipment during an extrication

*  Lifting or dragging an unconscious person

 

Unlike an athlete, firefighters are required to be mentally and physically fit for unexpected bursts of extreme activity, and potentially under extreme adverse conditions at the same time. To achieve an optimum performance level, a unique training regime should therefore be utilised. This article provides a step-by-step program specifically designed for a firefighting professional, including instructional videos for each and every exercise.

 

It is vitally important that all firefighters practice and maintain healthy behaviours during their career. Whilst there is a multitude of reasons as to why fitness is beneficial, such as for cardiovascular health and efficiency, it will also help to delay the effects of fatigue and reduce the risk of work-related injury.

 

I'm sure if Wayne used this workout, he would be even more unstoppable.

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Behavioral Health Programs in the Fire Service

Behavioral Health Programs in the Fire Service | Quest 2 & 3: A brief look at how OHS affects my friends and family... | Scoop.it
Paul Bourgeois explains the importance of making behavioral health a priority in the fire service, starting at the department level, and offers useful information about programs and initiatives that can help create a dialogue about sensitive issues
Amy Weise's insight:

Being a firefighter, or any emergency services employee working on the frontline for that matter, are exposed to many stressful situations on a daily basis. These situations can be from traumatic incidents, to working under adverse conditions such as environmental extremes (heat, cold and/or noise), all of which can have a profound effect on the amount of stress that is experienced. Unfortunately, not every individual can effectively balance the stressors of work, let alone the needs and demands of home life and unfortunately, the culmination of both may lead to the development of a stress disorder.

 

Post traumatic stress disorder is not uncommon in this industry and therefore it is imperative that warning signs can be detected early. Unfortunately, firefighters are not always equipped with the knowledge of how to manage stress and/or have the necessary coping mechanisms to assist them along the way. Without appropriate support and guidance, a firefighter can easily slip into the world of stimulant abuse, drug dependence and may get to a point where they believe that suicide is their only option.

 

Looking after ones emotional and behavioural health is important as this dictates how a person functions and performs on the job. This article looks at some of the strategies that have been put into place to protect their fellow workers from the depths of despair and reiterates that 'you are not alone'.

 

I have know doubt that during Wayne's years of service with the QFRS, that he has learnt some effective coping mechanisms to help him deal with his day to day stress. Friends and family are an amazing support, but if this is not enough, I managed to also find an Australian website that specifically helps all frontline emergency services providers and their families, http://www.behindtheseenaustralia.com/index.html.

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A Burning Need — Preventing Heart Disease Among Firefighters

A Burning Need — Preventing Heart Disease Among Firefighters | Quest 2 & 3: A brief look at how OHS affects my friends and family... | Scoop.it
Today's Dietitian magazine, the leading news source for dietitians and nutritionists, covering topics such as diabetes management, long-term care, new products and technologies, career strategies, nutrition research updates, supplements, culinary arts, food allergies, fitness, sports medicine, and much more.
Amy Weise's insight:

Whilst I hope that this is not something that Wayne will need to worry about just yet, it is still very important to keep this information in the back of his mind. It was surprising to note that nearly a half of firefighter deaths are due to heart disease, with the leading cause being cardiac arrest. Unfortunately, no amount of personal protective gear, safety precautions and teamwork are going to be able to prevent this.

 

There are many factors which can be attributed to heart disease, but as a firefighter, this could include  poor dietary habits, lack of physical fitness and/or just the stress caused by extreme work conditions. Even in peak physical condition, a firefighter is subject to extreme extrinsic and intrinsic stressors. So imagine if you coupled this with being overweight and a smoker for example? This could be a recipe for disaster, and as this article points out, this type of industry has 'less latitude for unhealthy behaviours'.

 

The good news is that heart disease can be somewhat mitigated by simply being physically fit, eating right, and living a healthy lifestyle. It is vitally important that Wayne practice and maintain healthy behaviours throughout his career, however if he should ever need any additional support, this article has links to lots of helpful health and nutrition information.

 

After all, firefighters like Wayne are paid to physically and mentally perform at their peak level, with the ultimate goal of returning home safely at the end of each shift.

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I like to call this chap 'Poppy' aka Phil...

I like to call this chap 'Poppy' aka Phil... | Quest 2 & 3: A brief look at how OHS affects my friends and family... | Scoop.it

Phil is a machinery operator for 'RoadTek', a subsidiary of the Transport and Main Roads department. He has been operating big machinery for as long as I can remember. Everything from massive draglines in the mines to little bobcats. He is currently stationed along the Bruce Highway somewhere near Bowen making our roads a little safer for us to drive on in the future.

Amy Weise's insight:

When discussing the hazards of this job, I had no idea the types of risks that employees take when working out on our roads. I won't discuss the more obvious ones such as road traffic, pedestrians and sun exposure to name a few, I will talk about some of the more obscure hazards that were mentioned.

 

So what do you think would be a risk or hazard in this industry?

 

Physical hazards, such as sprains and strains are common. They tend to lead to musculoskeletal disorders such as tendinitis, carpal tunnel syndrome and lower back pain for example and have been attributed to repetitive forceful movements and awkward postures sustained from the machinery.

 

Chemical hazards are also of concern, however in this instance the chemical is generally inhaled from asphalt emissions, engine exhaust fumes and silica dust. In addition to this, heat from not only the weather, but from physical labour and excessive noise from the machinery and passing traffic can take a toll on the human body long-term.

 

Looking at hazards from a biological sense, our road maintenance crews are working with dirt/soil constantly, which means that they are exposed to the potential infectious micro-organisms that live in the soil. This hazard is then compounded by the fact that during a normal working day, out on the highway somewhere, there is a lack of sanitary facilities and therefore hand-washing amenities. Couple this with the fact that crews then have to eat in their workzone, as I am sure most people have seen at one time or another and referred to it as 'bludging'. Most of the time there is no alternative option.

 

At the end of the day, the risks and hazards that can plague this industry, can be rather personal and therefore social/psychological risks are becoming more and more prevalent. Road crews are under increased stress due to constant changes in the workforce, the isolation of their location, the excess working hours required to fit around peak times and living in work camps away from family and friends. Overall, the total lack of social support, whilst is not a visible risk, can be quite damaging.

 

I had no idea the stressors that our road maintenance crews are subjected to day in  and day out. I certainly have a new appreciation for this profession and will think twice before huffing and puffing about having to wait for the green light at roadworks in future. Thanks Poppy, you have opened my eyes.

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Meet Wayne...

Meet Wayne... | Quest 2 & 3: A brief look at how OHS affects my friends and family... | Scoop.it

Wayne is a classified as a 1st Class Firefighter within the Queensland Fire and Rescue Service (QFRS). He has had 18 years experience in the job and is just about a 'jack-of-all-trades' given his following qualifications:

 

*  Firefighter - Structural, Vehicle, Bush/Wildfire

*  Road Crash Rescue

*  HAZMAT

*  Swift Water Rescue

*  Vertical Rescue

*  Confined Space Rescue

*  Trench Rescue

*  Urban Search and Rescue (USAR)

 

Being that I am not married, Wayne is my 'dial-a-hubby' so to speak when I need assistance with the 'blokie' stuff. I would be lost without him...

Amy Weise's insight:

Let's face it, being a firefighter is a dangerous profession, probably more so than most, so the risks and hazards are plentiful.

 

Heat stress is common and can be attributed to a number of factors. Obviously there is the heat that is generated from a fire, but overall heat stress can be worsened due to PPE requirements and the shear physical demands of the job. In addition, as the majority of their work is outdoors, they can also be subject to extreme weather conditions, not only heat but cold, possibly when undertaking swift water rescues.

 

The by-product of many fires is toxic smoke and fumes, which can potentially cause severe respiratory distress resulting in hypoxia. This can lead to a state of confusion, loss of physical performance and could be fatal if onset happens inside a building for example.

 

As I have mentioned earlier, the physical demands of being a firefighter are immense. From carrying heavy objects, to prolonged activities and repetitive movements, all of which can be classified as an ergonomic hazard, and consequently, lead to back injuries and other strains.

 

Other safety concerns could be injury due to falls. The breakdown of structural materials during a fire can cause floors to become unstable and roofing structures to collapse. Alternatively, an injury such as this, could occur during a vertical rescue. However, not all hazards effecting a firefighter are caused by fire.

 

As QFRS are apart of the emergency services team, they are also called to such events as road traffic accidents. Just getting to the scene of an accident can be hazardous due to high speed travel and adverse road/weather conditions. Furthermore, they are directly exposed to these traumatic events, which can subsequently have a psychological effect, compounded by extended work shifts and fatigue.

 

Whilst this may not be a common occurrence, firefighters may still be subject to biological hazards, such as when helping with a victim/patient directly, exposing them to contagious and infectious pathogens. Following along this line, due to toxic chemical and gas exposure throughout ones career, can potentially lead to cardiovascular and respiratory diseases in the long-term.

 

Once again, this is not a job I could do given that I suffer with pyrophobia. So for me, I am thankful that there are people out there like Wayne willing to put their lives on the line.

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Sleep Deprivation - Operations Resources

Sleep Deprivation - Operations Resources | Quest 2 & 3: A brief look at how OHS affects my friends and family... | Scoop.it

"Countermeasures for sleep deprivation are reviewed, which relate to identifying those particularly susceptible to risks of sleep deprivation, individual mitigating strategies and work-related issues."

Amy Weise's insight:

 

If 'your candle burns at both ends, it won't last the night'. Not a truer phrase was written, especially with those that are subjected to long hours and shift-work. 

 

Sleep deprivation or fatigue, whilst is not uncommon in the fire department, has the potential to be extremely dangerous. Its effects can be compared to the impairments that are observed during high levels of intoxication. Fatigue can create poor judgement, slow reaction times and lead to extreme exhaustion. Due to these reasons, it can increase the likelihood of work-related injury such as when driving, not only on-the-job, but when returning home after a long shift.

 

This website contains a wealth of information specifically focussed on the effects of sleep deprivation on firefighters. It looks into why this happens and how it effects the body's functional ability. It provides advice on strategic napping and how important this is in relation to maintaining alertness and cognitive performance. There is also a training video outlining coping mechanisms including providing education of the effects of caffeine and how to safely use this as a stimulant without initiating a sleep disorder.

 

I would like to think that Wayne, given his length of time in this industry has been able to develop strategies of his own when coping with lack of sleep. However, it is always good to be reminded that when you 'believe' that you are unaffected by sleep deprivation, that perhaps you are not and should rethink your next move before endangering not only yourself, but others around you.

 

 

 

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Keeping it cool under heat stress – key recommendations for the prevention and treatment of heat related illness.

Keeping it cool under heat stress – key recommendations for the prevention and treatment of heat related illness. | Quest 2 & 3: A brief look at how OHS affects my friends and family... | Scoop.it
The Country Fire Authority (CFA) in Victoria, Australia, conducted extensive body monitoring trials, using the latest technology in order to assess the...
Amy Weise's insight:

Given the very nature of the industry, being a firefighter like Wayne can be hot work. It is certainly not a job I could do myself. I was always told growing up that it is never lady-like to sweat, so I have taken to this quite literally... Meaning, I don't like to exercise either!!

 

Apart from this little titbit, the potential for heat stress amongst our firemen is extremely high and the physical and mental effects of this can have fatal consequences. Whilst our firefighters wear personal protective clothing to prevent them from being burnt, this heavy, multi-layered suit also prevents firefighters from being able to thermoregulate. As heat stress is one of the top three leading causes of injury, it is imperative that all firefighters be aware of the signs of heat-related illness and know how to counteract these effects.

 

This article discusses some new studies into cooling methods which are not currently included in the rehabilitation standards within the Australian Fire Services. Whilst passive cooling methods are common sense, such as moving away from the heat, removing excessive protective clothing and sitting in a shaded area, it has now been proven that active cooling methods can be far more effective in relieving heat stress.

 

Along with good hydration, studies have revealed that the most effective method of reducing a person's core temperature is by way of hand and lower arm immersion into cool water. I will admit, I have never actually seen a fireman doing this, but if it works, why wouldn't you? Whilst this article discusses how this process works, it also provides some key recommendations in the overall management of heat stress which could definitely help to reduce Wayne's risk of developing this condition during those long and arduous jobs.

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Presenting Stacy...

Presenting Stacy... | Quest 2 & 3: A brief look at how OHS affects my friends and family... | Scoop.it

Stacy has worked for Australia Post for the past 25 years. She has held various positions within the organisation, including courier driver, mail officer, postie, security, administration, operations manager, delivery manager and now a facility manager. So you could safely say that she has a good grasp on some of the OHS issues that can arise behind the scenes...

Amy Weise's insight:

Australia Post is very focussed on the safety of all of its employees/contractors and have adopted a 'zero tolerance' for all accidents and incidents. For each and every piece of machinery in the mail centre, there is a specific risk assessment and safe operating procedure to match. Like most equipment, there are some pertinent OHS issues specific to each. Looking at just one piece of equipment, the 'Barcode Sorter', which is the machine that Stacy is operating in the photo, I have included what was described and the most common associated risks and hazards: 

 

Entanglement and friction burns are common given the magnitude of moving parts and conveyor belts on this machine. Fingers however are in the firing line since the mail is retrieved by hand from each stacker.

 

Manual handling is a big issue with all mail operations, but in this particular case, shoulder and lower back injuries are common due to repetitive reaching, bending, twisting, lifting heavy trays from lower stackers, and general overuse. A person's height needs to be taken into consideration when operating this machine. For example, those persons that are taller, will be more susceptible to strain from bending & lifting from a lower level, and the opposite is true for a short statured person trying to reach a higher level.

 

Strike and trip risks are prevalent especially if trolleys are not correctly stowed and/or they are left in the passageways around the machine.

 

Something I did find interesting regarding an ergonomic hazard, included a persons compatibility to the machine regarding right and left hand dominant users. Whilst the machine encourages bilateral function, most people would tend to favour one side or the other, further exaggerating a repetitive strain injury.

 

Having worked for Australia Post myself for many years, I used to think that they were sometimes a little overboard with their precautionary measures. However, I am now fully aware how quickly accidents can happen and how important it is to prevent them from reoccurring in the workplace. It is only in recent times, that I can fully appreciate their 'proactive rather than reactive' approach to safety throughout.

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Introducing Matt...

Introducing Matt... | Quest 2 & 3: A brief look at how OHS affects my friends and family... | Scoop.it

Matt is a furniture removalist and is currently employed within his family's business. He has been doing this job since he left school, and certainly has a story or two to tell about some of the things he has seen when moving clients from house to house. I certainly don't think this is a job I could do, so I take my hat off to those that do.

Amy Weise's insight:

This profession is fraught with all the obvious risks and hazards that is associated with manual handling, which in this instance is the main job description. Unfortunately, this line of work is simply too physically demanding on the human body and is therefore not generally a long-term career choice for many.

 

Hazards that can occur during manual handling of furniture and effects may include:

 

*  Lifting injuries

    -  excessive bending and twisting

    -  carrying heavy and awkward sized items

*  Vehicle movement during loading/unloading operations

*  Incorrect use of lifting equipment

*  Broken glass or sharp objects

*  Protruding features of furniture

*  Dangerous goods, such as;

    -  mower fuel

    -  paint

    -  aerosolised chemicals

*  injuries due to load-shifting equipment i.e. forklift

 

Other risks and hazards to consider would be:

 

*  Access/Egress to a client's premise, i.e. stairs

*  Steep driveways - angulation risk

*  Unsecured floor boards, carpets and vinyl flooring - trips and falls

*  Confined/restricted spaces

*  Dust and mould allergens

 

As a result, the most common injury sustained within the removals industry appears to be sprains/strains of muscles and tendons due to repetitive movements and incorrect lifting techniques.

 

There is a reason that this is still a male dominated industry...

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Say 'hello' to Paul...

Say 'hello' to Paul... | Quest 2 & 3: A brief look at how OHS affects my friends and family... | Scoop.it

Paul, a pharmacist, is one of the busiest people I know. Keeping abreast of the many and varied pharmaceutical requirements of his customers throughout all of his 'Chemist Warehouse' stores is an extremely challenging role. Paul is no stranger in performing in any function of pharmacy life, including dispensary technician, checkout operator and even shelf filler if required. I must say however, that I was quite surprised at the unique types of OHS issues that he and his many staff face on a day to day basis...

Amy Weise's insight:

Whilst there are many of the same risks and hazards associated across many different industries, such as manual handling and slips, trips and falls, I discovered that there are some quite unique potential hazards which are faced by all staff within a pharmacy setting.

 

Biological hazards are a big concern. Medications are commonly supplied to sick patients, and many of these patients potentially carry contagious diseases. Because of this, there is a potential risk of staff being exposed to blood-borne and/or air-borne pathogens such as influenza. Adequate ventilation, regular cleaning and a good level of personal hygiene may help to prevent this, but caution needs to be taken as the chemicals required to eradicate bacteria and viruses can themselves be hazardous.

 

Chemical hazards will always be a major issue in a pharmacy. Pharmacists are mixing drugs all the time, which exposes them and those around them to medication powder, liquid spills and hazardous vapours. Radioactive medications such as cytotoxic drugs used in the treatment of cancer can pose a big risk and extreme caution and appropriate PPE should be used when handling. 

 

Of particular interest, I discovered that pharmacies are at major risk of violence, robberies and theft. They are a target due to the opportunity to access narcotic and controlled/prescription medication which is otherwise expensive to purchase.  

 

Lastly, like many industries, there are ergonomic hazards to be mindful of. Duties such as filling pill containers and completing prescription documents can lead to repetitive strain injuries and therefore subsequent fatigue.

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