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Archive for April, 2017

Heat Illness: Preparing-for-Prevention Tips for Painters: Part II

As painters and decorators, we are our own best advocates in preventing heat illness on the job. We must play an active role in the protection of our own health. We cannot leave the responsibility to our employers.

 

In fact, both OSHA and EPA limit the employer’s level of responsibility. Employers tend to make these work-related choices, and provide preventive measures at their discretion.

 

Now – the cooler months – is the time to come up with a plan to prevent and treat on-the-job heat illness symptoms.

 

Now is the time to determine how we will handle our workload during the sustaining hot and humid months/season. Especially in climates like Florida has from May through October.

 

NOW is the time to get the facts out about heat illness.

 

  1. Talk about it: types, symptoms, risks and warning signs, safety issues.
  2. Publicize it.
  3. Orient everyone on the team and staff about what to look for.
  4. Train team members and staff what to do, when, and how.
  5. Commit to on-going heat illness awareness and advocacy at the workplace.

 

Heat Illness Prevention Tips for Painters

 
1. Know your body.

A. What is your tolerance level to heat, humidity, and sun exposure (direct/indirect)?

B. What is your exertion limits within that tolerance level?

2. Know your work environment.

A. What is the highest temperatures in which you must work during the hottest, most humid season? How many hours a day? How many days a week?

B. What is the actual temperature felt by your body – with the heat index added?

C. What us the longest period of time during a work day, that you must work continuously in that actual temperature?

D. How many days during a week must you work continuously in those actual conditions?

E. What is the level of clean-air and ventilation within your work area(s) on a continual basis?

3. Know your job’s physical demands.

A. How many hours in a day must you work in hot, humid conditions? Number of days a week?

B. At how fast of a pace must you do your work? Very slow? Slow? Moderate? Fast? Very fast?

C. For how long a period must you keep up that pace? _____ minutes. _____ hours?

D. How many breaks do you get, ordinarily, each of these days?

1) At what times during the work day are the breaks scheduled?

2) How many additional breaks are you allowed during work days in hot, humid conditions?

3) How often can you take a break when heat and humidity conditions meet or exceed your tolerance level. (See 1 and 2 above.)

4. Know your physical limits in meeting the physical demands.

A. How many pounds can you lift, carry or move, ordinarily and at once?

1) Under hot, humid conditions, what is the maximum number of pounds? Without symptoms.

2) With B, do you need to use a cart or other conveyance piece of equipment?

B. How long can you climb and stand on a ladder?

1) Under hot, humid conditions, what is the maximum length of time? Without any symptoms

C. How long and often can you bend, stoop or crouch within one hour?

1) Under hot, humid conditions, what is the longest that you can do these? Without symptoms.

D. How long can you stand and how far can you walk without resting? Holding/carrying anything that weighs your maximum poundage? (See 4-A above.)

1) Under hot, humid conditions, what is the longest period and furthest distance that you can do these? Without any symptoms.

5. Know what your first heat illness symptoms may be.

A. What have been your first heat illness symptoms in the past?

B. What, if any, medical conditions that you have could cause or trigger heat illness symptoms?

C. What, if any, medications that you take could cause or trigger heat illness symptoms? Include over-the-counter products – eg. antihistamines, aspirins, nasal sprays.

 

Do you have a low tolerance level to any heat-humidity-ventilation environmental conditions?

  1. Avoid them. Work in cooler, shaded areas when above conditions do exist in other areas.
  2. Do not allow yourself to be placed in any situation that might cause, trigger and/or exacerbate your heat illness susceptibility.

 

SPECIAL LIFE-SAVING HEAT ILLNESS PREVENTION TIPS

 

  1. Schedule exterior painting during the coolest times of your work day. Examples: A. Dawn-to-10 AM. B. 5 PM-to-dusk or dark, or later.
  2. Plan to work on surfaces/areas opposite full-sun exposure. Examples: A. West and north sides of buildings when sun is over east and south sides.
  3. East and south sides of buildings when sun is on west and north sides.
  4. Plan to work in hot, humid areas when an emergency comes up. NOTE: Ordinarily, there are times when exterior painting must be done immediately.
  5. Wear short, white painter’s pants when you must work in outdoor temperatures 90 plus degrees. Regardless of the time period involved. NOTE: Get approval before the hot season arrives to adjust clothing to fit extreme heat/humidity conditions.
  6. Wear a cap or hat with a bill, when working and/or walking in the sun. TIP: Wider is wiser.
  7. Keep a drinking water supply with you at all times.
  8. Carry packs of small snacks in your pocket. Examples: Walnuts/almonds, Peanut M&Ms, raisins, trail mix, granola bars, energy bars.
  9. Carry frozen ice pack in small cooler on your golfcart or pushcart. While you’re at it, stick in a couple small cans of healthy juice. Examples: V-8, orange, apple. TIP: Pack a banana, too. High in potassium. Essential for sodium/hydration leveling.

 

BOTTOM LINE: The painter on duty must get his/her work done. One way or another. So watch out for yourself when the heat and humidity start to climb. And, set the standard for others to do the same.

 

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Learn and Live “Heat Illness” Free. Go to: www.osha.gov/heatillness.

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Thanks for visiting “Painting with Bob.”

Copyright 2015, 2017. Robert D. Hajtovik. All rights reserved.

Why People Like Flight Captains Sullenberger and Skiles Matter

Last night I watched the movie, “Sully,” on DVD. It’s based on the heroic story of Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger and Jeffrey Skiles, co-captains of the New York to Charlotte Flight 1549. Their miraculous belly landing of the US Airways jet on January 15, 2009, afloat the Hudson River, and the preservation of 155 precious lives still raises a lot of interest. And concerns.

 

What struck me was the courage, commitment and calm that both men showed after their hair-raising experience. The way that they handled themselves when being forced to defend their decision before a roomful of 70-plus National Transportation Safety Board, airline, legal, and even pilots union investigators.

 

Sullenberger’s and Skile’s clear-thinking and precise account of the second-by-second steps that they took re-demonstrated they did the right thing. They did the only thing available to two men of such character. Two men that cared so much for human life.

 

A FEW QUESTIONS FOR US TO ASK OURSELVES…

 

  1. How many of us, when pushed against the wall, would face a huge firing squad of big-shot “bosses”?
  2. How many of us would stand our ground, and force these power moguls to scrutinize their own expertise, calculations and conclusions? And then to correct their decision?
  3. How many of us would stand firm, and defend our values, our principles, against all odds?

 

Sullenberger’s and Skiles’s heroic landing, then their courageous defense of their decision, remain close to our family’s heart.

 

Charles “Chuck” Basham flew for Eastern Airlines for over 30 years. His wife, “Mindie,” my mother’s cousin, was a stewardess with Eastern for over ten years. In fact, that’s how Chuck and Mindie met.

 

Anyway, Chuck flew bombers in World War II. When he came home to the U.S., Eastern snatched him up because of his steel-strong nerves. His ability to fly in, through, under, and around any crisis. And survive!

 

The theory of major airline owners back in the 1940s and 1950s? If you could handle a military plane in war conditions, you could handle a commercial plane in friendly skies.

 

Still, Chuck could share stories of several very close calls that he had flying the New York to Miami run.

 

One concerned a near in-flight collision with another jet airplane, that was experiencing mechanical problems. Another concerned a severe lighting storm, 20,000 feet over the Atlantic coastline. A third concerned a near side-swipe by a large corporation-owned Cessna.

 

In each of these situations, Chuck had to face a review board similar to that faced by Sullenberger and Skiles.

 

“It was never easy to do. But it was necessary,” he said, “to get them to set the record straight.”

 

Chuck showed the same calmness and clear head on the ground. After he retired.

 

In 1993, he and Mindie opened their doors and provided a safe place for my sister to stay. For as long as she needed. They put their Fort Lauderdale intercoastal home, and themselves, at great risk in doing so.

 

Without a doubt, they saved my sister’s life, physically and psychologically.

 

It’s twenty-four years later. Both Chuck and Mindie are gone. My sister survives. And, thanks to the courage and quick-thinking of those skilled in-flight relatives, our entire family has enjoyed a much longer life together.

 

And, as Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger stated, at the end of the film, to a group of the real-life Flight 1549 survivors, in a hangar in 2016, that’s what it was really about. All of the spouses, children, grandchildren, parents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents that had survived, too.

 

Thank you, flight captains and crews, that do your best to keep us safe in-plane, in-flight, and on-the-ground. And against some odds that even you never talk about. To anyone!

 

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Stay safe, everyone. And, do your part, to live safe, too. RDH

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Many thanks for checking in at “Painting with Bob.”

Copyright 2017. Robert D. Hajtovik. All rights reserved.

Keeping Your Painter’s Brain Alive and Fit: Neurobiotics*

Ever hear of “Neurobics”?

 

I hadn’t either until someone gave me the book, Keep Your Brain Alive,by Lawrence C. Katz, Ph.D.* and Manning Rubin.* Published in 1999, the small book offers “83 Neurobic Exercises to help prevent memory loss and increase mental fitness.”

WHAT IS NEUROBICS?

Neurobics is a form of brain exercise that breaks your brain’s normal patterns of activity. Its aim: to enhance the brain’s natural way of forming associations. And, that’s basically how we learn.

WHAT CONDITIONS MAKE AN EXERCISE NEUROBIC?

It uses one or more physical senses – seeing, hearing, smelling, touching, tasting, plus emotional “sense” in novel ways and different combinations.
It engages your attention in a way that gets your attention.
It breaks a routine activity in a non-routine or unexpected way.

TWELVE NEUROBIC EXERCISES ADAPTED TO OUR PAINTER’S WORLD

I’ve adapted these exercises from three activity areas covered in Katz’s and Rubin’s book.

Starting and ending the day

Eat something different for breakfast.
Brush your teeth using your non-dominant hand.
Close your eyes and use sense of touch to choose what you’ll wear.
Wear earplugs at dinner and listen with your eyes to your spouse.

Commuting

If you drive to work, close your eyes, then get in and start your vehicle.
Buy several inexpensive steering wheel covers in different textures, and switch.
Open the window while driving so you can smell, hear and feel a mental road map.
If you walk to work, take a few different turns. Or, say “hello” to 2-3 new people.

At Work

Move things around – reposition your computer mouse, phone, a few basic tools.
Brush or roll on paint, using your non-dominant hand.
Write down a problem. In two columns, write words associated with it; cross-reference.
In the paintshop, keep a chessboard set up, or a 500-1000 pieces jigsaw puzzle in process.

FUN TIP:Once a month, switch a smaller, simpler task with a coworker, even your boss.

* Lawrence C. Katz, Ph.D., (1956-2005) was professor of neurobiology, Duke University Medical School. * Manning Rubin comes from a long line of prolific writers, and was senior creative supervisor at K2 Design, New York City, New York.
Tip: Check Manning out if you’re interested in creative writing, professionally.)

 

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Think About It: Your brain is like any other organ in your body.

Exception: It controls everything within your body. Treat it right, friends.

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Thanks for visiting “Painting with Bob.”

Copyright 2017. Robert D. Hajtovik. All rights reserved.

Hotel/Facility Painters: Is Outsourcing Your Paintshop Services in Your Future?

It should come as no surprise to any hotel/resort staff member, when the news arrives that the management and operations of a certain department will be outsourced.

 

Other mid-to-large sized for-profit employers have been farming or “outsourcing” for needed services for years. More and more local, county and state governments have been contracting out for the management and operation of entities under their umbrella.

 

What throws a hard, curve ball is when the outsourcing company is going to move in its own people to staff that department, which is a part of the organization. EXAMPLES: Food and Beverage/Catering, Pools and Gazebos, Housekeeping/Laundry, Security, Sales, Conventions.

 

With a large department, the outsourcing company may opt to employ certain existing hotel staff members. Persons experienced working in that area, and with its targeted guests and visitors.

 

Usually, these persons need to complete new, pre-employment forms for the external company. Including for federal and state tax withholdings. Usually, the persons do not need to go through the hotel’s Human Resources’ job application and screening process.

 

So far, hotel engineering departments have been exempted from the contracted outsourcing system of employment. Some exceptions exist.

 

  1. The property owners decide to outsource the management and operations of the entire hotel business. Here, existing staff can sign on with the external company, or a designated staffing company.

 

  1. The outsourcing company “out-sources” the hotel’s engineering department services.

Note: Designated staff members may be able to apply to the outside company, to continue to work at the same hotel.

 

  1. The outsourcing company decides to switch engineering operations to a temporary and on-call arrangement. For all positions and tasks, or for certain positions and tasks.

Note: Usually, some of the current engineering staff members are offered the opportunity to work in his/her current – or a similar – position, but as a temporary or on-call worker.

 

In all cases, some positions are eliminated. Some job quotas are reduced. A lot of department re-organization takes place.

 

In smaller businesses – eg. hotels and inns, clinics, hospitals – the services of a full-time painter may not be needed any longer. They may not be affordable. Within the budget.

 

Thus, the career hotel/facility painter needs to be ready to adapt. And, to switch “employers,” if and when the time comes.

 

At the same time, take note!

 

Not all outsourcing arrangements work. Many get axed at some point. Department management and operations are returned to in-house people. Former staff members may be re-hired. Experienced employees are put back in charge of operating their respective department.

 

After reasonable tries, more city and county governments are voting against renewing their contracts with outsourcing companies. Businesses are tightening up qualifications and expectations for their outsourcing contractors. They are more closely, and accurately, computing the bottom line.

  1. “Are we really saving money? “
  2. “What’s the trade-off been within – and for – our community?”

Hotels and resorts are listening to their experienced staff members, about major organizational and ethical problems dealing with the outsource company’s people. Hospitals report losing once loyal employees and community support. Also they report an increase in serious liability quality-of-service and patient treatment issues.

 

What can a hotel painter do to influence top management and owners in deciding which way to go?

 

  1. Show a greater and more sincere interest in your hotel, and especially in your teammates. What’s really going on with them? What’s great, so-so, not good at all? Share in any on-going dialogue among your coworkers. Your bosses, too. TIP: Hold back a little here. Keep “person,” “personal,” and “personality” out of this.
  2. Show an interest in the “outsourcing” discussion. Periodically, exchange a few ideas with your chief engineer. Especially, if you’re the lead painter and help him handle a lot of the troubleshooting.
  3. Discreetly ask questions. Try to find out the reasons management is looking at outsourcing your job. Or, the entire engineering department.

 

THEN, ZERO IN ON YOUR POSITION…YOUR FUTURE.

 

  1. Update the hotel’s job description for your job. Provide a clear, detailed picture of exactly what you do there. Include both standard and special skills and abilities that your hotel’s painter must have. To get the job done! NOTE: Now is not the time to underestimate and undervalue what the real job entails. Now is not the time for humility.
  2. List the types of tasks, orders, projects, and emergency jobs you have done. Estimate the frequency with which you’ve done each. Indicate the location of each on the property. TIP: Keep your own on-site painter’s photo gallery up to date, and captioned!
  3. List the customer service functions you perform. That includes for team members, fellow staff members, managers; guests, visitors; suppliers, vendors, contractors; inspectors; and the community.
  4. Offer your experience and insight as input to the (a) chief engineer and (b) general manager. Limit what you offer in information to details that will positively support your bosses’ true position. Also, their short-range and long-range goals.

 

Final Note: As the staff painter, you are often in a unique and influential position. You tend to come into regular contact with coworkers and managers in many of the departments and work areas within the hotel’s organization. You tend to “brush shoulders” with certain aspects of the hotel or facility’s actual business.

 

Bottom Line: You may be able to play a key role in management’s decision to outsource. Or not.

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“Press toward the mark that you want to leave behind.”  RDH

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Thank you for visiting “Painting with Bob.”

Copyright 2012, 2015, 2017. Robert D. Hajtovik. All rights reserved.

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