Monthly Archives: April 2021

Communication in Today’s Corrections (Part One)

Anyone that has ever worked as either a Police Officer or a Corrections Officer knows the following: It’s either brawn or brain that will get you through the day. They also know that you have to use both (on occasion) if you are going to be successful at your job.

Those of us in the Correctional Profession know that most of the time, and not all the time, the physical confrontations that we encounter are the result of our actions. Now, I understand that some people might disagree with this, but it’s a hard reality to face. Where do we go wrong that leads to this type of confrontation? Communication.

There are really just two ways in which we communicate with people: Verbal and Non-Verbal. Most of our communication (roughly 85-87%) is done through body language. We can all tell when someone is upset, happy, mad, angry, indifferent, you get the point. When our body language says one thing and our mouth says another we tend to run into problems. Inside of a correctional facility we do not have the luxury of firearms, Tasers, or any other type of intermediate weapons on a regular basis. If you do, trust me when I tell you that the rest of us are extremely jealous of you! What does that leave the rest of us? Our mouth/brain combination and our hands.

True, some people have lost that all important connection between their brains and their mouths (also known as verbal diarrhea) but for the most part, the rest of us still have it intact. As an instructor, I always ask my classes the same question: “What’s the difference between a Correctional Officer and an Offender?” As expected, the answers I get are varied: “We go home at the end of the day!” “We didn’t kill anyone!” “We didn’t rape anyone” and the list goes on. I then pause and ask question again.

By this point they are looking at me with confused looks on their faces. I reply back to them “Although you are correct that we didn’t rape or kill anyone, and we do go home at the end of the day, the only difference between them and us is that they got caught and we didn’t.” I then go on to ask “Who in this classroom has never, in their entire life, done anything that someone is not currently doing time in a local, county, state, or federal correctional facility?” No hands go up….

Now keep in mind that I said “never, in their entire life, done anything…” We all have. Whether it was steal something as a kid or adult (office supplies anyone?) it’s still larceny. Got home after going out with friends and saying “I shouldn’t have driven home!” (We’ve heard the slogan “Buzzed driving is drunk driving”) You get the point.

Now that we have established that they are just like us, let’s establish another all important fact: Not everyone that is incarcerated will spend the rest of their lives behind bars. They are going to get out and become our neighbors.

Correctional Departments throughout the country have moved their old way of doing business into the modern era: Rehabilitation and Re-Integration. If we look their Mission Statements, we will likely see a common theme: Public Safety, Pro-social behavior, Re-integration and rehabilitation.

In order to effectively re-integrate and rehabilitate, we must do one thing: Communicate. Communication in a correctional facility can be broken down into 4 main categories:

1. No communication

2. Operational Communication

3. Human-Respectful Communication

4. Cognitive Reflective Communication

No Communication

Easy enough: we don’t talk, they don’t talk, we point, they do as told and we go on our merry way. Officers are separated from the offenders and there is almost no interaction.

Operational Communication

We say the bare minimum in order to get the job done and maintain control (“Come here!” “Go there!” “Chow time” “Do this!” “Don’t do that!” etc, etc, etc). Although there is still a separation between Officers and Offenders, there is more interaction than there is with no communication.

Human-Respectful Communication

This involves talking to offenders like a person, just like you would to anybody else you meet in public. Pro-social communication is effectively done at this stage. Although the use of “please” and “thank you” towards an offender would insult many Correctional Officers, it is part of being respectful and communicating effectively within a correctional facility. (More on this in Communication in Today’s Corrections Part Two).

Cognitive Reflective Communication

This is THE hardest form of communication to achieve. It involves a person to be willing to think about, and change, their behavior, thought process, and accept the consequences of their actions. And what’s the thing most of us hate the most? Change! And that is the reason why it’s the hardest form of communication/thought process that we have.

Once we learn how to communicate effectively, we can reduce the amount of problems that we face on the job every day and increase our “safety factor” exponentially. The proof is in the pudding…

Hansens Lepresy

Since the beginning of time, Hansen’s disease has been recognized as a problem. Reported in Egypt in as early as 1350 BC, Lepresy is the oldest disease known to man; this is according to the Guinness World Records. Frequently, Lepers have lived outside of society. This is partly due to the fact that for a long time the disease was believed to have been caused by a divine, often times associated with demons, curse or punishment. This idea changed in the middle ages, when people started to believe that lepers are loved by God, and that it is humans that have cursed them

Another reason for secluding the Lepers what that in the past it was believed that leprosy was highly contagious. If was even taken to the extent that leprosy could be spread by the glance of a leper or an unseen leper standing upwind of healthy people. Today we know that the disease is much less contagious than we once believed in the past. Lepresy is caused by a mycobacterium that will multiply at a very slow rate. The disease mainly affects the skin, nerves, and mucous membranes. The organism has never been grown in cell culture, because of the difficulty that is involved with doing so. This difficulty is as a result of the fact that the organism is an obligate intra-cellular parasite. This means that it lacks many necessary genes for independent survival. This is also evident and provides proof for it having such a slow rate of replication.

Uncertain today, is the method of   transmission  of Hansen’s disease. Many people believe that it is spread person to person in respiratory droplets. What we do know though, is that most of the population is naturally immune to the disease. The disease is chronic, and often times patients are classified as having paucibacillary, which is a form of multibacillary Hansen’s disease.

The “Worthy” Poor VS The “Unworthy” Poor

In American Society, we have divided the poor into two classes, the “worthy” poor and the “unworthy” poor. The “worthy” poor are those we feel are worth being on state/federal aid and do not complain about assisting. The “unworthy” poor are those are receive aid as well but for some reason society feels they could take care of themselves and not depend on the aid.

Society feels that those in the “unworthy” class are capable of providing for themselves financially. The reason being that most of the people who fall into this class are younger then the people who fall into the “worthy” class. Many who fall into the “worthy class” are the elderly who are beyond working age, and find it hard to support their selves without some form of a fixed income.

Although the majority of the “worthy” class is made up of the elderly, there are certain situations where the “worthy” class also includes some of a younger generation. Many of those come from the deeply impoverished corners of the United States Society. Many don’t have a chance of surviving and living a better life then they are being given unless the someone, whether it be the government or a small organization, step up and find some way to show them the way to improve themselves.

There are a few such organizations and federal programs in place already, but there are not nearly enough to tackle the large need that we have for the issue. Many people feel that even though they fall into the “worthy” category, they are still not worth wasting time, resources, and money on to educate towards a better life. Many look down on those who need aid regardless of the situation and feel the same about them. They think that they are children, and as they grow they will learn and they will make something better of themselves. Unfortunately, this is not true. As they grow up in a poverished lifestyle they will learn from what they are surrounded with. They will grow up and realize it isn’t so bad to be where they are, because they have not had anyone show them that there is a different way in life.

As American’s, we are a large extended family. Everyone is supposed to look out for their family and protect them. I do not know why no one is protecting the children of these “unworthy” groups and showing them the way to better themselves and enrich their lives. It is going to take more then giving their family a few hundred dollars a month in food stamps and other aid to teach these children how to succeed in life. It is going to take educating them. Not only do these children need to be shown the way, but their parents/parent as well need to be educated on how to enrich not only their lives but their children’s lives as well. It is a two step process, and it is time as a society we step up and start making it a reality instead of a vision. With a little hard work I honestly believe that poverty in the US could be helped dramatically by just a few nice neighbors holding out their hands and showing that they are willing to assist.

Transmission Repair Shop – Sneaky Tactics

I hate to say this but transmission repair shops employ some of the most dishonest practices in the automotive industry. They are able to get away with this for two reasons.

The first reason is for every 50 general automotive mechanic shops there are may be five transmission shops. So supply and demand naturally hires the prices these companies can charge. This is nothing new but some of these transmission companies get outrageous.

Second, unless you are a a specialist in this field you most likely know nothing about transmissions. Any technician can tell you anything and you have no verifiable way of double checking.

Here are some common scams in the transmission repair industry and some common mistakes that customers make:

We need a new transmission a shop will give usually give you two options. They can either install a brand-new transmission, which will cost a lot, or they can install a rebuilt transmission, which will still cost a lot but possibly be half the cost.

You have to understand the dangers in getting a rebuilt transmission. There is a good possibility that these will not be as good as a brand-new transmission or may not last as long. If you’re dealing with a reputable shop who has capable employees they can rebuild a long-lasting transmission.

They should also factor work up with some type of warranty. Do not get a rebuilt transmission without a decent warranty of some type. Make sure you get it in writing. There have been many shops who have sold customers rebuild transmissions and they failed within a matter of days or weeks.

Those same customers, of course being irate, came back to the shop only to find that that particular shop would not honor its “verbal” or “implied” guarantee. If you do however agree to a rebuilt transmission please do not come crying to the transmission repair shop when after the warranty you have problems again. He did go the cheapest route and you must understand that it comes with inherent risks.

Beware of transmission shops that have all sorts of low cost transmission maintenance services and specials to get in. Many of the automotive companies or what I like to call “commission fee based shops.” The shops pay their employees a small hourly wage but make it so they receive a percentage of their total gross sales.

Avoid these companies at all costs! These transmission repair shops have a system where they trick volumes of people every single day into their place of business with the lower at cheap rates and then convince them into buying services and parts they do not need.

This practice has become standard among many of the big box national chains and quite recently has been adopted by many of the small local ones. If you feel like you’re being pressured into buying something you feel you may not need, please, get a second opinion.

I have already touched a little upon the subject but I need to bring up the matter of warranties again. Every warranty and every guarantee needs to be in writing. Do not any transmission repair facility just tell you they back up all their work.

Do not just let them tell you you can bring your car back, and they will fix it for free, if within a couple weeks or months you experience the same problems they were supposed to fix. Every agreement should be in writing including all the terms and conditions.

And speaking of terms and conditions this brings us to the most common scam that most transmission repair facilities do. It is sad that many of these companies resort to what I’m about to say but all you have to do is look online and you will hear hundreds of horror stories.

You’re having transmission problems. You go to a local transmission repair shop and get an estimate. The parts and labor cost $1200. It seems fair see make arrangements to leave your vehicle with them for several days.

Within one day you get a call from the transmission shop. They proceed to tell you that the price is going to be more than what was on the estimate. The excuses are more numerous than the sands found on the beach. It could be any excuse from the parts costing more than expected to them not being aware of the certain problem when they first gave you the estimate.

So the result is that the price that was “$1200” is now “$3500.”

Now your typical person in this position has two options at this point. He can bite the bullet and pay the $3500, in effect paying $1800 more than what was agreed upon, or he can pick his car up.

Keep in mind that the cars is most likely already torn apart at this point. Here is where shops get even worse. In order for you to pick your car up the transmission shop is still going to charge you a fee for putting your car back together, storage, towing, and trust me they will find other miscellaneous charges to add upon that.

So you end up getting the work done, but in the process getting ripped off, or you’re left with the same broken car but you paid 500 bucks just to be able to pick it back up from a shop then attempted to screw you (and they did). It’s a no-win.

This is why you should only do business with reputable transmission repair shops. How do you know if the shop is reputable? In this day and age where honesty and honor are as common as black-and-white televisions you must do your homework.

Ask family, friends, coworkers, and acquaintances for recommendations. The good transmission repair shops are out there. You just have to find them among the many bad ones.

Once you get a recommendation from someone you know look the shop up on the Better Business Bureau, local websites where people post reviews, and forums. Ask a transmission shop for customer references.

If they are in fact reputable they should be able to produce one or two happy customers you can talk to. A little due diligence goes a long way because once they have your car you are at their mercy.

Hopefully this article will have giving you insight about the tricks transmission repair shops employ to make a quick buck and hopefully you will be able to take this information and benefit from it.

What Are Forklift Trucks?

Forklift Trucks are used in industrial settings to lift and move heavy objects. Since its development in 1920 by   transmission  company: Clark, and by hoist company: Yale and Towne Manufacturing, they have become a vital piece of machinery in warehouses across the world.

Forklift Trucks are classified into different  classes  and lift codes:

  • Class 1 include Electric Motor Riders. Their lift codes include: Number 4, which is a three-wheeled, sit-down, counterbalanced truck. Number 5, which is a cushioned, solid tire, sit-down, counterbalanced truck. And, Number 6, which is a pneumatic tire, sit-down, counterbalanced truck.
  • Class 3 include Electric Motor Walkies. Their lift codes include: Number 2, which is a low-lift pallet truck. Number 5, which is a high reach lift type. And, Number 7, which is a high lift, counterbalanced truck.
  • Class 4 include: Internal Combustion Engine Riders. Their lift codes include: Number 3, which is a cushioned, solid tire, sit-down, counterbalanced truck.
  • Class 5 include: Internal Combustion Engine Riders. Their lift codes include: Number 4, which is a pneumatic tire, sit-down, counterbalanced truck.
  • Class 6, which is Rough Terrain. Their lift codes include: Number 1 which is classified as all types.

Besides counterbalanced, there are speciality trucks which include:

  • Articulated Counterbalance Trucks. These are Forklift Trucks which have front wheel steering and a very narrow aisle truck. These are able to offload trailers, as well as place and move loads into narrow aisle racks.
  • Guided Very Narrow Aisle Trucks. These Forklifts are rail guided. Their lift heights are 40 feet to 98 feet, non-top tied or top tied respectively. These Forklift Trucks are only able to be used on floors with a high standard of flatness.
  • Explosion Proof Trucks. These are for use in the operation of the movement of potentially explosive materials.

In the interest of saving man-power and the wages associated with it, some companies now employ the use of these. These trucks are often computer operated and are becoming more and more available by manufacturers around the world. While they save on man-power in terms of having someone to operate the machine by standing behind or sitting in it, there is still the wages of the computer operator to consider when deciding if Forklifts actually save a company man-power or wages at all.

SEIS the Tax-Free Investment Opportunity for UK Investors

Enterprise Investment Schemes

An EIS is an investment vehicle that provides funds and capital to small businesses that, due to the tightening of the credit market, cannot otherwise get financing from traditional sources. An EIS is an unquoted company that is not on a stock exchange and is most likely managed by a venture capital firm. These firms manage the investment objectives to protect investors and maximize investment returns. A good firm will have been involved in venture capital investing for a number of years and be able to provide a solid track record of protecting principle and securing returns. Firms operate their EISes differently, some offering investments into single companies while others operate EIS funds in which you could invest into a fund of multiple companies, therefore diversifying your risk.

The benefit of tax protection that EISes offer has resulted in an increased demand among wealthier investors, with EIS being utilized as a strategic tool within their portfolios. The UK government increased tax relief from 20% to 30% and the annual investment amount has been increased from £500,000 to £1,000,000. With the added benefit that the investment is exempt from capital gains tax and inheritance tax, EIS is increasingly the perfect vehicle for certain investors. More and more EISes have become essential within many investment portfolios as an integral tax relief tactic.

Seed Enterprise Investment Schemes

Not quite as large as the EIS, the SEIS provides a similar benefit and experience. The main difference being the investment amount allowed annually which currently stands at a maximum of £100,000, but offers an unprecedented 50% tax relief on the investment’s gains and value. However this 50% is only applicable if the SEIS continues to comply with the SEIS rules and providing the investment is left for a minimum of three years. After three years the investor can sell their stake, incurring no capital gains tax against profit realized. Furthermore, loss relief applies to any losses incurred.

As of 2014, the upfront tax relief for the highest tax bracket investors equates to a 64% tax break and, when combined with a loss relief tax break of a further potential of 22.5%, equates to a total of 86.5% tax relief. The downside tax protection of almost 90% is unprecedented amongst all other investment vehicles and provides significant tactical value to certain investors.

Careful Consideration

As with any investment decision, you need to be careful in your consideration when choosing to use EIS or SEIS for your portfolio. You should be considering these tax relief options in your portfolio after you have exhausted other forms of tax mitigation. The first two that should be utilized are your pension and annual Individual Savings Account (ISA) allowance. These primary tax savings vehicles provide secure investment vehicles; ISAs offer amazing investment flexibility not available through EIS or SEIS. Another option includes VCTs – Venture Capital Trusts – which have similar strategic benefits to EIS or SEIS but are limited to £200,000 per year.

In deciding on further tax mitigation, you need to consider the portion of your portfolio that these tactical investments would make up. Conventional wisdom dictates that you should not put more than 20% of your holdings into risky opportunities, but that 20% could realistically be surpassed with correct use of the right investment vehicles. If you are hedging your portfolio against a known event that will increase your capital gains taxes or inheritance taxes, EIS and SEIS would be a viable way to mitigate those taxes in a given year. In this way you could max out your contributions to these two tactical strategies in order to mitigate the known tax implications from another portion of your investment portfolio. It is these considerations that you should be aware of before deciding on a specific EIS or SEIS company.

Another concern that you should be aware of is the fact that EISes and SEISes are essentially “locked-in” products. You need to be able to leave the investments locked in for a period of at least three years (and in some cases longer) in order to access the tax relief benefits – managers will generally look for an exit in or around year 4, but an exit could realistically take longer and is subject to market conditions. In this way, many EIS and SEIS companies are illiquid and the secondary market for selling EIS/SEIS shares is therefore small. Taking the long view on these investments should be a natural consideration.

Choosing the Right EIS/SEIS

When deciding on the right company to invest for the purpose of tax mitigation, not all EIS/SEIS companies are the same. Choosing a company should not be done on impulse and requires effective due diligence to ensure that their investment philosophy is in line with your own. At the time of consideration, ask all the same questions of the company as you would when investing in any stock. By ensuring the company has a solid and proven track record of investments, open reporting functions that promote transparency and an investment philosophy you agree with, you can feel comfortable with your investment.

By considering an EIS/SEIS investment you are considering an investment option that has a real potential for investment loss. It can be the right option for those looking for a high risk option with an effective tax mitigation strategy as a small portion of their overall portfolio. EIS and SEIS investments can also be an excellent way for investors to dabble in venture capital investing without having to put up too much capital.

For more information please visit: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/the-enterprise-investment-scheme-introduction

https://www.gov.uk/seed-enterprise-investment-scheme-background

Mononucleosis Explained

Mononucleosis is a viral illness that is common among young adults but can affect people of almost any age. Severe sore throat, swollen lymph nodes, fever and extreme fatigue are the recognizable hallmarks of this condition. Why the disease is more common in teens remains unclear. It may have something to do with the lifestyle, poor diet, not enough rest and stress, all of which lowers the resistance of the immune system. The underlying culprit is the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV). This virus, a member of the herpes virus family, is so common that 95% of all adults test positive for exposure to it. The EBV has been implicated as playing a role in some uncommon malignancies later in life or another condition chronic fatigue syndrome. However, keep in mind that the virus is very common. Even though exposed some time in their life by adulthood, most people do not manifest any clinical symptoms of mononucleosis. Viral transmission occurs through intimate contact with saliva or blood of the infected person. Hence, the antiquated name of the “kissing disease”. The virus is not airborne. The risk to others in the family or friends is very low unless there is intimate contact.

Severe sore throat, extreme fatigue, swollen glands and lymph nodes characterize the typical symptoms. The inflammatory process usually affects the liver and spleen resulting in some enlargement. In a small number of severe cases, abdominal pain or difficulty swallowing may be an issue. Twenty percent of people with mono develop a fine red rash resembling measles. Some medications in particular amoxicillin based antibiotics can also trigger the rash. The incubation period from time of exposure to onset ranges from 14 to 45 days. The average illness lasts 4 weeks. The first two weeks are most difficult because of the intensity of the symptoms including a severe sore throat that makes it awkward to maintain an adequate diet. The fatigue makes people want to sleep a lot. People usually miss two weeks of school or work during this time. The second two weeks are usually quite a bit better but energy levels are still waning. Getting up in the morning feeling good and somewhat energetic, but running out of gas after a few hours is characteristic. Some modification of activities with a limited schedule during the second two weeks is to be expected. A specific blood test can confirm the diagnosis in the doctor’s office. An exam to rule out other similar conditions is prudent.

Since it is a viral illness it will run its own course, there is no specific treatment. The majority of cases improve with rest and a balanced diet. In the rare severe case, other medications such as a steroid or an anti-viral drug may be used. There are a few instances when a second bacterial infection such as strep throat may occur at the same time. Appropriate tests can easily determine whether an antibiotic is necessary to treat a secondary infection. Symptomatic treatment is helpful just like treating the flu. Ibuprofen or acetaminophen for fever or muscle aches, plenty of clear liquids and trying to maintain a healthy balanced diet are nonetheless important. Avoiding alcohol for six weeks is suggested while the liver inflammation subsides spontaneously. The biggest frustration for people is simply the lack of energy and fatigue. It can usually take 4 to 6 weeks or more before normal stamina returns.

What You Really Need to Know About a MPLS Network

MPLS… or Multi-Protocol Label Switching…. seems to be the buzzword for connecting company data networks these days. But MPLS is really nothing new. It’s been around awhile actually. Maybe now it’s just gaining more popularity and thus noticeable public acceptance and notoriety. Rightfully so too. MPLS offers lots of advantages over traditional T1 point-to-point WAN architectures.

But….. to decide if MPLS is really a good fit for your network requirements….. there’s some things you need to understand first.

There’s no one “MPLS Service”. A lot of what you get will depend how the service provider has Engineered and built their core network. Bear in mind that many carriers don’t own the whole network, but will piece together a service from other carriers networks, or will interconnect with other carriers to extend their reach.

Cell-mode MPLS was mentioned: basically this is ATM which has been retro-fitted with MPLS. Be careful with this for VoIP applications because it can use bandwidth very inefficiently.

MPLS can support QoS, but many services aren’t engineered with this, or only with very basic prioritization. Also the services are very often structured to reduce the potential complexity and to ensure the network can cope. Bear in mind a typical MPLS router can only carry a percentage of “high-priority, real time” traffic. If everyone sends all their data as high priority then the benefit is lost, and the network may suffer. Usually QoS is provided as a small number of service classes, typically 3 or 4.

The biggest bottleneck in any such service is normally the tail circuit to each of your premises. If you move from a T1 mesh to a MPLS service then you will likely find that some sites need more bandwidth than others. Tracking the requirement for this bandwidth is usually your problem, although the service provides may give you some reporting tools to assist with this. I would avoid service providers who cannot offer this as it will make it very difficult for you to manage your bandwidths.

If you factor in multiple service classes then your management of these tail circuits gets more complex as you no only have to work out how much bandwidth is required for each tail circuit, but how much of it should be reserved for each service class.

Regarding resilience, within the service providers core, the service is normally highly resilient to failures. However, when failures do occur, very often (depending on how the service is engineered) the rerouting can take a second or two. During this network re-convergence you will lose packets. Depending on the protocol your traffic uses this can be unimportant or devastating. For instance, some VPN and VoIP services don’t survive this well.

Normally resilience is not automatically provided all the way to the customer. Typically you will have one tail circuit and one router at each site. If either fails (or if the Service provider’s PE router has problems) you will lose service to the site, totally.

If this is an issue, you need to factor in dual connections. There’s multiple ways of doing this, and different service providers will offer different options. Make sure you get your Network Engineer involved as the devil is in the detail here, and some options which sound like they provide a fantastic level of resilience may not be as good as they sound, depending on how your internal network is configured.

And, of course, the key to all of this is SLAs: what do they offer? What happens if they break them? How do they report them to you?

Generally speaking, MPLS services are a great way to run a multi-site data network including VoIP services. I have seen many carriers and their customers doing this successfully for years.

Strictly speaking MPLS does not provide QoS. QoS is done by prioritizing traffic, and most IP routers, even those on the backbone of the Internet, can do this. The difference is whether they are configured to do this or not. In an MPLS network MPLS is provided by standard router features. MPLS technology (specifically Traffic Engineering) gives the carrier better control over how this traffic is prioritized and routed (and restored in case of network fault). All this does is give them the confidence to support SLAs.

As I mentioned, “QoS” is provided as a set of “service classes”. Typically these are things like “real-time”, “high-priority” and “everything else”. Mapping actual traffic into these classes can be done in a few different ways, but this is largely up to you to control. For instance, you could quite easily put web-browsing traffic into “real time” although this would normally be a dumb thing to do.

I would suggest the case for MPLS in terms of performance, cost and continuity against ‘traditional’ or ‘legacy’ data networks is now pretty robust, i.e. MPLS provides significant advantages in all 3 areas.

The key considerations when migrating include provider selection, access media (e.g. using Ethernet rather than SDH/SONET), the decision on procuring a managed or unmanaged service (often called wires-only) and the providers ability to map their CoS/QoS to the applications you need to support. This is especially important if you are operating any proprietary applications.

There is also an increasing trend to use WAN Optimization/application management solutions either as a value added service from the provider or from an alternative integrator or indeed doing it in house. This is important say for voice or applications such as CITRIX.

MPLS providers also now offer a whole suite of value added services such as integrated internet, managed network based firewalls and remote user support. If these are important to you make sure the providers demonstrate how this is achieved.

In selecting your provider ensure they have good geographic coverage in your areas and experience within your market segment. I always recommend requesting up to 3 references. Equally I think it is wise to understand how important a client you will be to the provider. It’s all well and good using the market leader (say according to Gartner)….. but you’ll often get a better service from a provider who values and really wants your business.

Need help designing the right MPLS configuration for your network? There’s a ton of resources….. free and fee….. listed and discussed at Broadband Nation.

Bloodborne Pathogens – Preventing Disease Transmission

Imagine receiving a call that an employee has been injured from a fall down a flight of steps at your facility. The caller tells you that 911 has been called and some of your fellow employees are tending to the victim. As a supervisor, you decide to respond to the scene.

You arrive just as firefighters and paramedics take over caring for the victim. These rescuers do their job well – the victim is stabilized, wrapped up for transport to the hospital and gently placed on the stretcher.

As you watch, you can’t help but notice that the firefighters and paramedics are wearing medical gloves and goggles. As EMS (emergency medical services) personnel leave the area, you approach the employees who helped to thank them for their efforts. Almost immediately you become aware of a very frightening sight – both of the rescuers have fairly large spots of blood on their clothing and, even more upsetting, both are using paper towels to wipe the blood off of their hands. It is obvious that these employees did nothing to protect themselves from disease transmission and both have been contaminated with the victim’s blood.

Wearing PPE (personal protective equipment) is an important part of professional rescuers’ equipment. They know that protecting themselves from bloodborne pathogens is, in some ways, just as important as caring for the victim. But what about your people – do they know the risks associated with not wearing protective equipment?

If your company provides first aid kits for employee use or if your employees are required to respond to a medical emergency, they should have access to protective equipment and receive training on bloodborne pathogens.

ASSESS YOUR OPERATION’S RISK FOR EXPOSURE – I was recently asked to evaluate exposure risks for an association of tow truck operators, body shop technicians and auto mechanics. These people lacked training on bloodborne pathogens.

Tow truck operators wear thick, leather work gloves and routinely pick up bloodstained windshields or wrap contaminated airbags around steering columns. Body shop technicians pull contaminated seats from wrecked vehicles and then sit on them during their breaks or at lunchtime. Mechanics have a tendency to cut their knuckles or foreheads while repairing vehicles. They also share tools with fellow employees – tools that are contaminated with blood from their last injury.

I know you’re not in the automobile repair business. The examples above are intended to get you thinking about your own operation’s risks of exposure to potentially dangerous body fluids. Do you have a first responder team or people assigned to respond to an emergency? Are first aid kits available to employees? Do employees share equipment or tools that could become contaminated? Who is responsible for cleaning up body fluids after an accident or injury?

Without proper communication policies and training in preventing disease transmission, your employees could find themselves exposed to the same dangers paramedics and firefighters face while coming to their aid.

So what can you do to reduce the risk of exposure? Let’s start with defining bloodborne pathogens and the impact that exposure to them can have on employees and employers.

CONTAMINATION PREVENTION GUIDELINES – Bloodborne pathogens are pathogenic microorganisms that are transmitted via human blood and cause disease in humans. They include – but are not limited to – hepatitis B and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).

I know for many people (myself included) words like microorganisms, immunodeficiency and pathogens bring back thoughts of high school and health classes – the last places in the world most of us want to revisit. So before we go any further, let me put it in my terms: There’s a lot of junk out there that can make us very sick, or even kill us if we become contaminated.

We need to constantly be on guard and be very careful so that we don’t become contaminated. I’ve been teaching CPR and first aid training for over 25 years, and I’m often asked if I would do rescue breathing without a barrier on someone I do not know. I respond without hesitation: If I found someone unresponsive and not breathing, I would immediately call for help and begin chest compressions on the victim, but there is no way I would do mouth-to-mouth on the individual without a breathing barrier.

Emergency responders know the risks associated with coming in contact with bloodborne pathogens, and they know how to protect themselves. Unfortunately, far too many people in the workplace or good Samaritans on the street do little, if anything, to take the necessary precautions. Too often they realize they’ve been exposed to body fluids after the emergency, when it’s too late to do anything about it.

EMPLOYEES – Here are a few simple rules to follow when faced with the possibility of exposure to bloodborne pathogens, or any body fluids for that matter. This information is presented as guidelines for both employees and employers. The American Heart Association calls it “Making a PACT, Know How to Act.”

PROTECT – Protect yourself from blood or blood-containing materials. This includes wearing protective equipment such as gloves and goggles and using a breathing barrier if you are performing CPR. Consider your options if you find yourself with no protective equipment.

ACT – If you find you have come into contact with another person’s blood or other body fluids, act quickly and safely. Wash the area immediately with hot, soapy water for up to a minute before rinsing. If your eyes have been contaminated, flush them with clean water for up to five minutes. If a flushing agent is not available at the scene, have someone get water for you. Firefighters or paramedics can assist you if they are still at the scene.

CLEAN – After an emergency, especially in the shop area or office, clean any areas contaminated with blood or body fluids. Wear protective equipment. Clean the area with a solution of one part Clorox and eight parts water. Completely flush the area and let the solution stand for at least three minutes. Be careful when wiping up the area, especially if you are dealing with broken glass or wood or metal splinters. Put all soiled items, including soiled cleaning materials, in a plastic bag and take it to the dumpster as soon as you are finished. If there is an injection device (such as a needle) involved, try to give it to the medics or firefighters before they leave; otherwise, get it in the dumpster and use extreme caution while doing so.

TELL – Report the incident immediately to your supervisor or human resources department. Ask for a dated copy of the report (even if it is only handwritten).

EMPLOYERS’ RESPONSIBILITIES – Employers have a responsibility to protect their employees from exposure to bloodborne pathogens. Here are the specifics of this responsibility.

PERSONAL PROTECTIVE EQUIPMENT – Any employee at risk of being exposed to bloodborne pathogens must be provided with the protective equipment necessary to keep them safe from exposure. This equipment includes gloves, goggles and, if required, breathing masks or barriers for CPR.

EDUCATION – Not all professions require bloodborne pathogen education and prevention training.

A call to OSHA (Occupational Safety & Health Administration) may or may not give you the answer you are looking for. It appears as though OSHA looks at a number of factors when determining whether an employer does or does not have to comply. For example, if you offer voluntary CPR/first aid training to your employees, they may not be required to take bloodborne pathogen training. If you have designated first aid responders within your organization, you probably fall under the training requirements.

Many of you know your employees’ occupational exposure risk. If you have personnel who are routinely or even occasionally exposed to blood or body fluids in the execution of their duties, you may want to consider offering protective equipment and training to these employees.

ENGINEERING CONTROLS – Engineering controls help to protect employees from bloodborne pathogen contamination and prevent the spread of pathogens in the workplace. Here’s an example of engineering controls: An employee using his leather work gloves realizes he has come in contact with body fluids and the gloves are contaminated. Two controls should be in place to protect the employee. First, knowing his exposure risk, the employer should have a spare set of gloves on hand so that the operator can complete his job. Second, the company should have a procedure for disposing of or cleaning the soiled gloves.

WORK PRACTICES – Setting standard practices for preventing disease transmission is a very important part of an employer’s responsibility in protecting employees.

In the case of the body shop previously mentioned, good work practices would include establishing a policy requiring workers to wrap plastic around seats pulled from a wrecked vehicle and prohibiting them from sitting on the seats, even with the plastic cover in place.

Providing employees with their own toolboxes is another good practice. If they share tools, have a policy in place for cleaning and decontaminating tools, especially after an accident or injury. Moreover, make sure employees know the importance of disposing of or cleaning contaminated personal protective equipment.

Finally, offer a course in bloodborne pathogen training. It is an excellent way to communicate the importance of preventing disease transmission and protecting your company from a huge liability/workers compensation claim.

HAVE A WRITTEN POLICY AND REPORTING PROCEDURES IN PLACE – As I previously mentioned, implement policies related to bloodborne pathogens at your operation. Start small, then expand on the policies as new issues surface. Communicate with your people. Make sure they know the reporting procedures and the importance of reporting any possible contamination.

OSHA has templates for creating your own company bloodborne pathogens policy and/or procedure. Simply download the forms, fill in the blanks with your company name, etc., print them out and you’re good to go. Additional information can be obtained by calling your regional OSHA office.

TRAINING, POLICIES ARE WORTHWHILE INVESTMENTS – I am a business of one, but if I did have employees, I can assure you – they would be trained on bloodborne pathogen risks and contamination prevention, and my company would have a policy in place. It’s the right thing to do for a business, its employees and the employer. And just imagine how good it would feel to know that your operation is in compliance should OSHA officials decide to visit.

Invest an hour for setting up your program, distribute the information to your employees and arrange for a 30-minute bloodborne pathogen education and prevention class. The investment is small, but the dividends to you and your employees will be huge.