Spring Cleaning Your Business

Spring is good opportunity to take a break from the frantic day-to-day grind and find new ways to reboot your small business. Let’s call it a bit of spring-cleaning for your business

Here are just a few ways you can tidy up your business and improve operations:

1. Refresh your website and social media channels. Analyze your website metrics to identify how pages are performing. If high priority areas such as online shops or product listing pages are not generating a lot of web traffic or repeat visitors, you may need to make a few changes. For instance, if few visits come from search engines, update your site content and HTML coding to include more-frequently used and relevant terms. This will help improve your site’s search engine ranking, increasing the likelihood potential customers will find your products and services. Diagnose landing pages to see how users are interacting with content. If the average time spent on important pages is low, consider doing some usability testing to find ways to improve user experience such as changing the layout or design of your website.

Also, monitor social media metrics to see what your online audience is interested in and track what is being said about your products. Engage with existing and future customers on social media by answering any questions they may have. This is a great way to show off your customer service skills, build your brand and grow your customer base. In addition, explore targeted advertising on social media channels to see if makes strategic and economic sense for your business.

2. Boost up bookkeeping. The tail end of the fiscal year is also a good time to get your financial house in order. Review your transactions and make sure there are no outstanding incoming or outgoing payments. Make sure you have all the necessary paperwork and receipts for tax-filing season. Update your cash flow statements and see if there are any opportunities to increase profit margins such as working with wholesalers to get better deals on products, shopping around for more affordable services and vendors and slashing prices to increase sales. Also, check with your lenders to see if you can negotiate lower interest rates on any business-related loans you have taken out. Explore mobile apps or software that can make accounting easier and lighten the paperwork load, saving you time ­– and maybe more important – money.

3. Glance back at your new year’s goals. Revaluate the business goals you established at the beginning of the year to determine if those objectives are realistic given current economic and market conditions. Pick one or two new short-term goals that will have a long-term impact and align with your business plan and strategy. Also, take time out to celebrate the goals you have accomplished, which are making your dream of owning and successfully running a small business a reality.

The above is an excerpt from the article, “Freshening Up for Fall: 3 Ways to Tidy Your Small Business” For more information, please visit http://www.sba.gov/.

March is Workplace Eye Wellness Month

contractor-neutral-background-thinkstockphotos-177035377-002The human eye is often taken for granted. While people are accustomed to eating healthy foods and receiving the proper amount of exercise, many rarely consider their vision health. When it comes to our eyes, it is most important to protect the eyesight we have been given. During Workplace Wellness Month, Friends for Sight reminds everyone that workplace eye safety actions are easy to incorporate and invaluable to maintain long-term vision health.

Almost 2,000 people in the U.S. injure their eyes while working everyday. Of these 2,000, one third of the injuries are severe enough to be treated in the hospital emergency room. The majority of injuries that happen within the workplace are due to small particle abrasion in the eye or chemical splashing. Examples of this could be: metal, wood, UV radiation burns, or cleaning products. However, our eyesight can be damaged without a tragic accident or spill. A recent survey found that computer work alone resulted in 14% of patients’ reported eye problems. This number is expected to increase as our jobs and daily activities become more computer screen driven. Because eyesight can be at risk in numerous ways, it is extremely important to be aware of and practice eye safety in the workplace. The consequences of not doing so could lead to a precious loss of vision.

According to preventblindness.org, 10-20% of the total amount of work related injuries will cause permanent vision loss. They also state that the right eye protection could lessen the severity or even prevent 90% of eye injuries in accidents.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that almost three out of five workplace eye injuries are due to not wearing appropriate eye protection. Whether it is goggles, helmets, face shields, or just safety glasses, simply wearing them will protect and in many cases save eyesight. Health care workers especially require proper eye protection. Infectious diseases can be transferred through the mucous membrane of the eye. When there is any type of eye hazard, proper eye protection should be worn at all times.

In the workplace, technology, specifically computers, poses a significant risk to our vision. Over exposure to computer screens, a common problem during the 8-hour work day, can cause our eyes to lose their ability to function properly. To remedy vision strain while still being productive, follow these suggestions:

1. Keep the computer roughly 30 inches away from your eyes.

2. Rest your eyes every 15 minutes.

3. Remember to blink frequently. This simple action reduces dry eye and maintains eye health.

Better Business Resolutions: Hire New Employees the Right Way

-vector-silouette-business-ThinkstockPhotos-465104671-[Converted]-[Recovered]If the New Year means new hires for your business learn more about the process from start to finish. Beginning with the job description all the way to making sure the lines of communication are open with clients and existing employees. The key to this resolution is transparency. Keeping the lines of communication open between all parties benefits everyone in the end.

Short and sweet job descriptions

The position needs to be well defined in how it will contribute to the business’s growth and success. It doesn’t have to be complicated, but direct and to the point with the main responsibilities for the person.

Communicate your vision and mission

Be able to “explain your reason for being” in a 30-second elevator pitch in an interview.

By clearly communicating “who” your company is and how you accomplish your goals, you’ll have a better idea during the interview process if a potential hire will be a good fit in contributing to your business’s success.

Incentivize current employees

Your employees can help bring in talent on par with your standards; after all, they don’t want to compromise their own jobs. Making it financially work their while to help grow the company can help keep your employees motivated and give you confidence that you’ll have promising prospects.

Clients can help

It’s important that as the company grows clients feel comfortable that the people you’re hiring will take care of them with the same level of quality that’s always existed in the business relationship.

So, involve some of these trusted clients in the interview process and gather feedback as you move forward with making a decision.

Tips to Stay Safe and Healthy on New Years

New Year’s Eve is once again upon us, a night to reflect back on the last 365 days and celebrate the coming year. As the clock runs down for 2016, many people will be drinking, dancing, and telling stories of days gone by while presenting goals for 2017. Whether celebrating at a house party with friends and family, or out at a city-sponsored event, taking a few precautions will ensure that everyone gets to and from their destinations safely.

Traveling?

  • If you plan to drive on New Year’s Eve, don’t drink and drive.
  • If you have a friend who does not drink, ask them to be the designated driver.
  • If you are driving; be alert behind the wheel, be aware of your surroundings, and be prepared to drive in winter weather.
  • Use seatbelts and prepare an emergency safety kit for your vehicle.
  • Take public transportation if possible.

Celebrating with Alcohol?

  • Pace yourself and pay attention to how much you are consuming. Drinking too much alcohol can make you sick and can lead to alcohol poisoning.
  • Stay hydrated by alternating alcoholic drinks with water, juice, or soda.
  • Alcohol typically enters the bloodstream quickly. However, the amount and type of food in your stomach can alter this pace: high-carbohydrate and high-fat foods can slow the absorption of alcohol into the bloodstream.
  • If you’ve had too much to drink, call a taxi or have a sober friend or family member to pick you up.

Will you be in a Crowd?

  • Be mindful of your surroundings and how others are acting, and give a wide berth to those who seem out of control.
  • If someone appears intoxicated, keep them from driving and call them a cab to ensure they get home safely, and don’t let them leave with someone they do not know.

Hosting a Party?

  • Contact a local cab company to provide rides for your guests and book them in advance.
  • Provide non-alcoholic beverages for your guests.

Attending a Party?

  • Plan ahead and designate a sober driver before the celebration begins.
  • If you stay out late, consider staying overnight at a friend’s house or booking a local hotel within walking distance from the party.

Do you have Pets?

  • Loud noises can scare pets. Give them extra attention so their pets won’t run away in a panic upon hearing the pop of a champagne bottle or exploding fireworks.
  • Keep your pets inside, in a comfortable room, with comforting music playing to drown out loud, unusual noises.
  • Make sure all fences and gates are secure so if pets leave the house, they are confined to the yard.
  • Ask your veterinarian for tranquilizers if your animal has shown signs of extreme uneasiness around loud noises or crowds in the past.
  • Make sure your pet has its ID or dog license, and if it has a microchip, make sure it is current. This will make it easier to get you pet back if he/she escapes your home and yard during festivities.

On New Year’s Eve, everyone wants to have an unforgettable night — in a good way. By following a few simple steps, having a good sense of awareness, and taking these safety tips to heart, we can all have a happy, healthy, and safe celebration.  Have a happy, safe, and healthy 2017!

The above is an excerpt adapted from the article, “Tips on Staying Safe and Healthy on New Year’s Eve.” For more information, please visit blog.mass.gov.

Tips to Stay Safe and Healthy on New Years

New Year’s Eve is once again upon us, a night to reflect back on the last 366 days and celebrate the coming year. As the clock runs down for 2016, many people will be drinking, dancing, and telling stories of days gone by while presenting goals for 2017. Whether celebrating at a house party with friends and family, or out at a city-sponsored event, taking a few precautions will ensure that everyone gets to and from their destinations safely.

new-years-fb-ThinkstockPhotos-625944926.jpg

Traveling?

  • If you plan to drive on New Year’s Eve, don’t drink and drive.
  • If you have a friend who does not drink, ask them to be the designated driver.
  • If you are driving; be alert behind the wheel, be aware of your surroundings, and be prepared to drive in winter weather.
  • Use seatbelts and prepare an emergency safety kit for your vehicle.
  • Take public transportation if possible.

Celebrating with Alcohol?

  • Pace yourself and pay attention to how much you are consuming. Drinking too much alcohol can make you sick and can lead to alcohol poisoning.
  • Stay hydrated by alternating alcoholic drinks with water, juice, or soda.
  • Alcohol typically enters the bloodstream quickly. However, the amount and type of food in your stomach can alter this pace: high-carbohydrate and high-fat foods can slow the absorption of alcohol into the bloodstream.
  • If you’ve had too much to drink, call a taxi or have a sober friend or family member to pick you up.

Will you be in a Crowd?

  • Be mindful of your surroundings and how others are acting, and give a wide berth to those who seem out of control.
  • If someone appears intoxicated, keep them from driving and call them a cab to ensure they get home safely, and don’t let them leave with someone they do not know.

Hosting a Party?

  • Contact a local cab company to provide rides for your guests and book them in advance.
  • Provide non-alcoholic beverages for your guests.

Attending a Party?

  • Plan ahead and designate a sober driver before the celebration begins.
  • If you stay out late, consider staying overnight at a friend’s house or booking a local hotel within walking distance from the party.

Do you have Pets?

  • Loud noises can scare pets. Give them extra attention so their pets won’t run away in a panic upon hearing the pop of a champagne bottle or exploding fireworks.
  • Keep your pets inside, in a comfortable room, with comforting music playing to drown out loud, unusual noises.
  • Make sure all fences and gates are secure so if pets leave the house, they are confined to the yard.
  • Ask your veterinarian for tranquilizers if your animal has shown signs of extreme uneasiness around loud noises or crowds in the past.
  • Make sure your pet has its ID or dog license, and if it has a microchip, make sure it is current. This will make it easier to get you pet back if he/she escapes your home and yard during festivities.

On New Year’s Eve, everyone wants to have an unforgettable night — in a good way. By following a few simple steps, having a good sense of awareness, and taking these safety tips to heart, we can all have a happy, healthy, and safe celebration.  Have a happy, safe, and healthy 2017!

The above is an excerpt adapted from the article, “Tips on Staying Safe and Healthy on New Year’s Eve.” For more information, please visit blog.mass.gov.

Diabetes and Safety-Sensitive Work

For safety-sensitive jobs – such as those involving a firearm or heavy machinery – concern has revolved around whether the worker will become disoriented or incapacitated, according to the American Diabetes Association.

This may be changing in some industries. FMCSA’s recent proposal to ease exemption requirements states that commercial motor vehicle drivers with insulin-treated diabetes mellitus “are as safe as other drivers when their condition is well-controlled.” Drivers with ITDM would be allowed to operate CMVs if they are cleared yearly by a medical examiner listed in the National Registry of Certified Medical Examiners. The risk posed by drivers with controlled diabetes is “very low in general,” the agency states in the rule, which was published in the May 4 Federal Register. FMCSA also believes a yearly doctor visit would allow physicians to promote awareness about hypoglycemia’s effect on driving.

gloves-goggles-fb-shutterstock_236495590

“It’s really great progress,” Paul said. “There’s still plenty of protections. You have to have the treating health care provider provide his or her opinion about qualification. There’s a registry of doctors who have to be certified to provide the Department of Transportation exams. Those are at least two separate medical providers that have to weigh in on the qualification issue or safety issue.”

Similarly, opportunities have expanded for law enforcement officers with diabetes. ACOEM’s National Consensus Guidance for the Medical Evaluation of Law Enforcement Officers states that “blanket bans” of people with diabetes are illegal and inconsistent with medical information. And for firefighters, any disqualification due to diabetes or insulin use must be made on an individual basis.

“The concept is a well-controlled, well-educated, well-motivated diabetic can pretty much do anything,” Samo said.

For pilots, the Federal Aviation Administration states that a history of “diabetes mellitus requiring hypoglycemic medication” is a disqualifying condition, although diabetic pilots who use insulin can apply for a third-class certificate that allows them to fly privately or recreationally. However, the American Diabetes Association wants FAA to change its policy to allow people who treat diabetes with insulin to be medically certified for commercial airline operations.

Additional guidance to clear workers with diabetes for other safety-sensitive jobs would be beneficial, Samo said.

“If someone can be a firefighter and drive an emergency vehicle, why would you say, ‘I’m not going to hire you to drive a forklift in my factory because you’re diabetic,’” Samo said. “It’s irrational. I’d be hard put to think of a job that wouldn’t be able to use the same criteria as the police and fire criteria for other safety-sensitive jobs.”


The above is an excerpt from,”Diabetes and worker safety.” For more information please visit, www.safetyandhealthmagazine.com.

Job Performance and Diabetes

diabetesAn employer can exclude someone with diabetes from a job when the worker poses a “direct threat” – what the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission calls “a significant risk of substantial harm to the individual or others that cannot be eliminated or reduced through reasonable accommodation.” According to the commission, an employer who knows about a worker’s disability can require the worker to undergo a medical evaluation if the employer has observed performance issues and “reasonably believes” the issues are connected to the medical condition.

The National Diabetes Education Program’s “Diabetes at Work” project offers the following scenario as an example: A supervisor may ask an ironworker to undergo an exam or submit information from his doctor stating that he can safely do his job after the worker, who said he has diabetes, sweats and shakes during a break from hoisting iron beams.

In certain industries, guidance and standards help determine whether workers with diabetes can perform a job. For example, law enforcement officers with diabetes are expected to be evaluated on an individual basis. And the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration currently requires commercial motor vehicle drivers with insulin-treated diabetes mellitus to obtain an exemption every two years. However, the agency issued a notice of proposed rulemaking in May that would ease the exemption requirements for CMV drivers who can show they have their diabetes under control.


The above is an excerpt from,”Diabetes and worker safety.” For more information please visit, www.safetyandhealthmagazine.com.

Diabetes and Worker Safety: Employees and Employers

diabetes-ThinkstockPhotos-498304272.pngBy law, in most cases, workers with diabetes do not have to disclose the condition to their employer. “I would never say someone should definitely disclose,” Strobel Gower said. “If you need to do something differently on your job, because of your diabetes to do your job effectively, you should probably say something so you can ask for what you need, but it’s a personal choice.”

Workers who have diabetes may choose to disclose their condition to request “reasonable accommodations.” The employer may then require proof of disability and need for accommodations, the American Diabetes Association states. According to law, an employer cannot retaliate against a worker for requesting such accommodations.

Reasonable accommodations may include breaks to eat, take medicine and test blood sugar levels; and larger computer screens.

Accommodations also can involve protective equipment. In a 2012 OSHA interpretation of standards 1910.132 and 1910.136, the agency states that workers who cannot wear certain PPE required by their employer should discuss possible alternatives or reasonable accommodations. For example, some people with diabetes develop foot problems such as poor circulation and ulcers. OSHA notes that some PPE manufacturers offer footwear designed for people with diabetes, featuring extra wide steel or non-metallic toe caps.

The above is an excerpt from,”Diabetes and worker safety.” For more information please visit, www.safetyandhealthmagazine.com.

Diabetes and Worker Safety: The Concerns

-vector-silouette-business-ThinkstockPhotos-465104671-[Converted]-[Recovered]Diabetes has been called an epidemic in America. A 2014 report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 29.1 million people in the United States – almost 10 percent of the population – have the disorder. Of those, 8.1 million are undiagnosed.

The seventh leading cause of death in the nation, diabetes can lead to heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, vision problems and lower limb amputation if not controlled. So what are the implications for worker safety?

Concerns

The blood of a person with diabetes has too much glucose, resulting in possible health issues. In people with type 1 diabetes, the pancreas makes little or no insulin, which is needed to turn sugar and other food into energy. With type 2 diabetes – the most common type – the body improperly uses insulin, leading to abnormal blood glucose levels.

Concerns about worker safety focus mainly on hypoglycemia, a state of low blood glucose. Symptoms of hypoglycemia range from hunger and dizziness to confusion and unconsciousness. In contrast, hyperglycemia occurs when blood glucose is high because the body has too little insulin or is improperly using insulin, resulting in symptoms such as hunger, thirst and frequent urination. Left untreated, hyperglycemia can lead to diabetic coma.

“When sugar gets very high, it can affect their cognitive abilities, it can affect vision,” said Dr. Daniel Samo, member of the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine board of directors and medical director of health promotion, and corporate services and public safety medicine divisions, at Northwestern Medical Group in Chicago.

The above is an excerpt from the article, “Diabetes and Worker Safety.” For more information please visit www.safetyandhealthmagazine.com.

Driving in Rain, Fog or Snow

drivinginfog_largeA bit of rain, snow or ice makes roads slippery. Wet leaves can be slippery and hazardous. Reduced speed and increased following distance improve your safety under these conditions.  Take additional care on curves, turns and expressway ramps.

In heavy rain, your tires can begin to ride on the water that is on top of the road pavement. This “hydroplaning” can cause complete loss of traction and control of steering. Hydroplaning normally occurs at higher speeds, but it also can occur if your tires are tread worn or not inflated properly. When there is heavy rain, it always makes sense to drive more slowly. If your vehicle begins to lose traction, decrease your speed even more. Good tires with deep tread help to prevent hydroplaning.

Rain, fog or snow make it harder to see through your windshield, and difficult for other drivers to see you. New York State law requires you to turn on your headlights when the weather conditions require the use of windshield wipers to clear rain, snow, sleet or fog. “Daytime lights” do not qualify as headlights.

High headlight beams reflect rain, fog and snow as it falls. This makes it even harder for you to see. For better visibility during these weather conditions, keep your headlights on low beam. Reduce your speed. Signal your turns further ahead of time to give other drivers and roadway users more warning. Brake early when you decrease speed behind another vehicle or come to an intersection stop.

Some vehicles have front fog lights or front and back fog lights, for use when heavy fog or similar hazardous weather conditions restrict visibility. In New York State, all fog lights must be correctly installed and of a type approved by the Commissioner of DMV.  Front fog lights can be amber or white in color. Back fog lights must be red and can be larger than the normal back lights – they will give advance warning of the presence of your vehicle to the drivers behind you. When visibility improves, you can switch off your fog lights to reduce the glare that can bother other drivers.


The above is an excerpt from the article, “Special Driving Conditions.” For more information please visit dmv.ny.gov