Welcome to another edition of the Panda Post. I’ll start this one with another video feature (followed by the regular journalistic stuff). There are some damn good safety videos out there on the web (some legitimately informative, and some just plain funny).
I’m no safety engineer. I’m just a cartoon journalist. But I can say with a fair amount of certainty that this video shows a workplace that does not comply with OSHA.

Get to Know the Flu, Before it Gets Up Close and Personal

Flu season is just around the corner. And with the expected spread of the H1N1 (aka: swine flu, piggy flu, bacon-wrapped influenza) it’s a good idea to learn everything you can about virus basics, and be prepared. The CDC has a great H1N1 flu site that provides everything you need to know. And the government has also set up a handy site with guidance on workplace response to the upcoming flu season. Companies should stock up on hand sanitizer, hand soap, nitrile gloves, etc. And at the risk of sounding like your mom, “Wash your hands!”. Frequent hand washing can help stem the spread of the virus (besides it’s just plain gross not to wash after a trip to the bathroom or before you eat).

Smokey Bear Turns 65

On August 10, the USDA Forest Service celebrated the 65th birthday of Smokey Bear (I assume that any candles Smokey failed to blow out were extinguished properly). We at the Panda Post certainly respect Smokey. Hell, the hairy dude’s an icon. But he’s not the only bear out there trying to make the world safe. The Panda Safety Bear has been spreading the message about PPE, safety equipment and the like for nearly 14 years. If Smokey decides to retire any time soon (he is 65 after all), the Panda is ready to take up his role. We’ve been working on our catchphrases and deep baritone delivery… “Only you can prevent workplace accidents.”

(Mainly Positive) Economic Bullet Points

Page past the blurb about Maysteel closing it’s plant and you’ll find some good news from BizTimes. I like to see the phrase “strong signs of economic recovery” from time to time. Recovery is a good word.

Safest Workplace? Clearly It’s the Chemical Weapons Plant

At first glance this headline struck me as odd, “Chemical Weapons Destroyer Named One of Nation’s Safest Worksites”. I would guess places like a pillow manufacturer, feather dying plant, or a felt hat maker would corner the market on safe workplaces. But I guess if you’re in charge of destroying old chemical weapons (stuff so potent that it might kill you for just looking at it) there’s no margin for error.

Here’s an Idea, Let Workers Choose a Respirator

(Although the accompanying photo is not a suggested respiratory practice.)
Workers are the ones that have to endure wearing respirators or other cumbersome PPE every day, so why should a safety engineer be the one choosing what they wear (other than of course to protect the bottom line)? Grant Rowe, a respiratory protection product manager for Bullard wrote an insightful article for ISHN about letting employees do just that. Let workers decide on what they wear all day (within reason, obviously hot pink leggings, a boa, and a fedora with a feather in it wouldn’t go over well in a machine shop). And let safety professionals choose the catalog workers order from (may I suggest a Panda catalog?)