Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Condensed Wisdom from an Environmental Pro

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Condensed Wisdom from an Environmental Pro

Article excerpt

Every year, Ernest King conducts an environmental audit of dozens of newspapers. He has a 32-page form and a lot of common sense approaches to keeping newspaper workers healthy and safe and making newspaper facilities secure from incidents that would harm the environment.

Here is a wide-ranging, highly compressed summary of what he considers important in newspaper workplaces, considering the needs of workers and the operational criteria of insurance firms and regulators.

Workstations should be made to fit the employee. You can retrofit video display terminals (VDTs) with more flexible tables so that monitor, keyboard and footrests increase worker comfort because each unit is adjustable for the individual. In the mailroom, get pallet lifter platforms to make it easier for workers to load inserting machines. As weight comes off the pallet, the remaining inserts are raised to a more comfortable working level. While the platforms are costly, compare their cost to settling just one back injury claim.

Educate people to take minibreaks. Even five-to 10-second breaks will help relieve the monotony of repetitive tasks. Just a pause to stretch or scratch your head helps, and if people do repetitive work at work, encourage them to avoid it at home.

Consider an ergonomic study at your paper. Often outsiders can see what managers cannot. Your staff may be struggling with misfit furniture or equipment. People come in various shapes and sizes, so what is right for one may not be right for another. The benefits of adjustable work centers include happier, more productive workers and fewer accidents.

Review your newspaper plant from a disabled person's viewpoint. Is the building accessible? Are call buttons in reach on elevators? Are there lever handles, not knobs, on some washbowls and doors? If a water fountain does not have a lever handle, is a cup within reach? Is there handicap parking?

All containers of hazardous wastes must be labeled. Big containers come labeled from the supplier, but often cleaning solutions, fixers and developers are put in smaller containers. These containers must be labeled too.

Whenever you hire new people to handle hazardous wastes or add a new hazardous chemical, train everyone again. Do this even if you had a complete training program when hazardous waste training was first required.

Use lock-out/tag-out procedures when doing maintenance or repair on powered equipment. Lock the switch off or tell the worker to put, the unplugged power cord where he or she can see it. If this cannot be done, tag the equipment to indicate it is not to be used until the tag is removed. …

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