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Wednesday, Dec. 2, 2009

Thinking On Your Feet

acordWhat do ISM and a ballerina have in common? Movement that is planned and well rehearsed, with balance and precision. Ron Acord, Industrial Hygienist for Construction Health, makes safety an integral part of the way he performs work. He compares it to a ballerina taking her cue on stage during a performance.

When Acord arrives on the scene of an emergency, his planning and experience determines the best safety management plan to execute. Reflecting on a recent minor mercury spill, Acord described the process he and Joy Fleming instigated to contain it and return the area to normal use. The first step was to get their gear: lab coat, booties, gloves, respirator with mercury cartridges and hand pump. After restricting access to the contaminated area and instructing employees to remain in their offices until a safe walk through was conducted, he and Fleming went to work in an exacting and methodical process using an air monitor, a HEPA-filtered vacuum cleaner, and a flashlight to remove visible mercury beads. Mercury can be harmful if ingested and is particularly toxic if it is inhaled. An air monitor reading showed low vapor emissions, prompting Acord to apply a mercury neutralizer to remove any remaining substance not visible to the eye.

Another “encore” reading of the area the next day showed no contamination. The area was treated and safe working conditions were restored. A “safety” ending to a “production” that shows how implementing safety in your work area can be as natural and seamless as a ballerina.

Share how you implement safety in your work area.

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