Workplace Hazards: Recognizing and Mitigating Risks
To minimize the risk of workplace disasters, be sure your employees are well-trained and properly equipped to handle hazardous tasks and materials.
June is the National Safety Council's National Safety Month. With that in mind, here are some of the most common types of workplace hazards and tips for recognizing and mitigating your risk for injuries and other disruptions to your business.
Simply put, these are unsafe working conditions that can lead to injury. For example, a power cord running through a high traffic area could lead to trips and falls. Spills, machinery with sharp or fast moving parts, loose flooring and unstable ladders can all lead to injured workers or customers if not properly addressed.
Some physical hazards are also less obvious, such as loud noise or extreme temperatures. Be sure your employees are fully trained and properly equipped if their work involves such potential safety risks.
Chemical and Biological Hazards
Your employees can be exposed to any number of toxic substances through the course of their work. From common cleaners and solvents, to paint fumes to flammable materials such as gasoline or propane, a business often must use a number of different chemicals as part of their normal business operations. Be sure all such hazardous chemicals are both properly labeled and stored and learn how to recognize the signs of chemical exposure, such as skin irritation, breathing problems, headaches and dizziness.
Biological hazards include substances such as mold, bacteria and fungi, animal and human waste, blood and other bodily fluids and even insect bites and stings. Proper training in the handling of hazardous materials is essential, as are well-equipped first aid kits and emergency response procedures.
Some biological hazards can also create serious damage to your property. You can rely on SERVPRO of North Hollywood to properly clean up biohazard and sewage, trauma and crime scene damage, as well as other specialized commercial cleaning services, to help get your business back up and running quickly following such as disaster.
Ergonomic and Work Organization Hazards
Any job task that requires repetitive or awkward movement or heavy lifting can strain the body and lead to muscular or skeletal injuries. These hazards are often overlooked because they tend to develop over time rather than instantly. As with any other type of hazard, be sure your employees are trained to recognize the signs of ergonomic stress and are properly educated and equipped to manage the risks.
Work organization hazards relate to the working environment, including interpersonal relationships, sexual harassment, stress from overwork or deadlines and even workplace violence. To reduce work organization hazards, it is important to foster an atmosphere where employees are empowered to come forward and bring to management's attention anything that may be causing a toxic working environment.
Successful companies recognize the importance of workplace safety and strive to create a healthy environment for employees and customers alike. And SERVPRO of North Hollywood is here to help, 24/7, to handle hazardous situations. Call us any time, day or night, for a fast response to commercial water damage, fire damage or mold disasters.
Preparing for Storms During El Niño
Rainstorms in LA may increase in intensity during El Niño. The best way to mitigate storm damage is to prepare for rain while it's dry.
Do you know the difference between El Niño and La Niña? Roughly translated, El Niño means "The Little Boy" or "Christ Child" while La Niña means "The Little Girl."
More importantly, whether the Pacific Ocean's conditions are in the El Niño, La Niña or a neutral phase can impact the frequency and intensity of storms, and the risk of storm damage in Los Angeles and across Southern California.
How Does El Niño Affect LA Weather?
During an El Niño phase, weaker surface winds lead to a rise in the Pacific Ocean's surface temperature. The warmer the temperature of the ocean, the more the atmosphere above it moves.
The effect is an increase in instability and a higher risk for more intense storms and rains, particularly over the southern part of the United States, including Los Angeles and So Cal in general.
The shift to a weak El Niño phase happened earlier this year and likely contributed to our wet winter and spring. That rainfall may have increased the risk for summer wildfires, although that's a separate issue altogether.
But El Niño conditions also typically last 9 to 12 months, so the potential remains for intense rainstorms throughout this summer and into next fall and winter.
Preparing for El Niño Storms
Because rainstorms an infrequent concern to property owners in Los Angeles and the surrounding area, many people don't think about preparing for a storm until it arrives, and by then it may be too late.
Should rainstorms cause flooding or water damage to your home or business, be sure to call SERVPRO of North Hollywood right away. We can begin assisting you in your clean up and recovery efforts immediately.
In the meantime, the best time to prepare your home or business for rainstorms is when it is dry. Here are five simple steps you can take right now to mitigate the potential for water damage from intense storms:
Check for and repair leaks in your roof, around windows and doors and in your basement or crawl space
Clean out your gutters and downspouts to maximize the flow of water away from your building
Install a sump pump, or if you already have one, get it tested by a local plumber
If you live near areas affected by wildfires, prepare for potential mudslides by having sandbags on hand, restocking first aid kits and, if necessary, creating or reviewing your evacuation plan
Consider investing in a generator; this is particularly important for businesses to minimize downtime should you lose power during a storm
Last, but not least, add (818) 754-0050 to your speed dial. And should disaster strike, call SERVPRO of North Hollywood. We're here 24/7 with the fastest response to any size storm disaster.
After the Wildfire: Storm Damage Dangers
When used properly, sandbags can be an effective defense against storm damage from flooding and land or mudslides.
Wildfires have become a year round concern for property owners in Los Angeles and across Southern California. But there are a few things homeowners can do to prepare your home for wildfires. Likewise, business owners and property managers can take steps to mitigate the risk of wildfire damage to your commercial property.
But even once the fire is out and the smoke and soot is cleaned up, property owners should remain vigilant. Indeed, the greatest risk for storm damage often occurs in areas ravaged by fire. The storm damage dangers usually come in two forms: mudslides and floods.
Even if it's been several years since wildfires last burned the slopes near your home, the potential risk for mudslides can remain. It doesn't require much time or precipitation to start a "debris flow." An intense rainstorm can start moving rock, earth and other debris within minutes. Mudslides move very fast, leaving little time for a homeowner to react and respond.
If you live in the hills, the most important thing you can do to prepare for the kind of storms that could start a mudslide is to have an emergency kit and an evacuation plan. Sign up for emergency alerts from Los Angeles County and always heed the orders of first responders if required to evacuate.
There are also improvements you can make around your property to protect your home from mudslides, such as planting trees and shrubs or building channels and barriers to deflect runoff. Always follow the recommendations of a qualified geotechnical engineer to maximize the efficacy without putting neighboring properties at risk.
Lastly, review your home insurance policy. The National Flood Insurance Program may cover damage from debris flow as well as flooding. And SERVPRO of North Hollywood works directly with all major insurance carriers, reducing your stress should your property experience storm or water damage covered by your policy.
Meanwhile lower lying areas, such as the foothills of the Verdugo Mountains and the San Fernando and San Gabriel valleys, also share storm damage risk following wildfires in the form of flooding.
The decreased vegetation in burned out areas means that less of the rainwater gets soaked up by thirsty trees and shrubs. With little to nothing to absorb it, the rainwater naturally flows downhill and, during intense storms, can rush with surprising speed and force.
Like property owners in the hills, the best way to prepare for storm floods is to have emergency supplies and an evacuation plan. Meanwhile there are plenty of things you can do around your home to mitigate flood damage risk, including cleaning out gutters, inspecting for leaks and installing a sump pump in your basement or crawl space.
If you live in a flood risk area, talk to an insurance agent about The National Flood Insurance Program. You may even qualify for reduced premiums based on your location, income and any flood mitigation steps taken to protect your home or business location.
Should the worst happen and your property suffers water damage from a storm, be sure to call SERVPRO of North Hollywood right away. We're here 24/7 to respond immediately to any size disaster and clean up and restore your property "Like it never even happened."
How Can Your Business Prepare for Wildfire Season?
Prepare for wildfire season by ensuring employees know the location of all emergency exits and that they are well labeled and easy to find.
Like winter on Game of Thrones, summer inevitably comes to Los Angeles. And with it comes the hot and dry weather that is perfect for barbecues, beach days and, unfortunately, wildfires.
Preparing your business or commercial property is similar to preparing your home for wildfire season, but with a few subtle differences.
Have a Wildfire Evacuation Plan
Be sure all of your employees know the location of all emergency exits. Post your fire evacuation plan in multiple locations where it can be easily accessed in the case of a fire.
Select employees may also be trained on the use of fire extinguishers and other fire suppression equipment.
Lastly, have an emergency contact list handy, both to contact employees who go missing during an emergency evacuation and to contact your employees' loved ones, if necessary.
Manage Flammable Materials and Areas
You can reduce the risk of fire damage to your building and other structures by creating and maintaining a defensible space around your property.
However, some businesses also store significant quantities of flammable chemicals, such as fuels, paints or cleaning solvents, as part of their usual course of business. It's important to properly label, store and catalog the location and quantity of any hazardous materials to help firefighters and other first responders stay safe and effectively protect your property. A chemical safety plan, including specialized fire suppression equipment on site, may be necessary to help mitigate the potential for an even bigger disaster.
Create a Business Continuity Plan
In the event a fire emergency damages your business or otherwise requires you to shut down operations, you will want to refer to a business continuity plan. The plan should detail how your business will operate while recovering from a disaster. It should include contingencies for management structure, computer and data backups, and payroll, as well as repairing or restoring property damaged by fire, soot and smoke.
Be sure to also review or revise your commercial insurance plan so you know what it does, and does not, cover.
Wildfire season in Los Angeles is a fact of life for homeowners, property managers and business owners alike. While there are steps you can take to limit the damage, if you do experience a fire damage loss, call SERVPRO of North Hollywood right away. We're here 24/7 to respond immediately to any size disaster. We'll also work tirelessly to repair and restore your property and get your business up and running again as quickly as possible.
What's the Difference Between Damage Cleanup and Restoration?
A licensed damage restoration company does more than cleanup after a disaster. We can restore your property to its pre-damage condition.
When a water, storm or fire emergency strikes your home, the last thing you want to think about is the cleanup. First and foremost should be ensuring the safety of you and your loved ones.
But once the source of the problem has been addressed, the hard work of cleaning up can begin. That includes deciding who to call to handle the cleanup process.
There are several questions you should ask when choosing a damage cleanup company. But perhaps the first is, what's the difference between damage cleanup and restoration? And why is it important to choose a company that can handle both?
Water and Fire Damage Cleanup Process
Cleaning up after a water emergency, whether caused by storm flooding, plumbing leaks or something else, primarily involves three steps.
First, the water is extracted from carpets, furniture, walls and floors and removed from the property. Next, specialized equipment dries and dehumidifies the affected areas. Lastly, professional cleaners treat your property to clean, sanitize and remove odors as well as reduce the risk of mold growth.
Likewise, fire damage cleanup primarily involves removing smoke and soot from the ceiling, walls and other surfaces, followed by cleaning, sanitizing and disinfecting structures damaged by the fire.
Water and Fire Damage Restoration Process
However, there is another step that a licensed damage restoration company, such as SERVPRO of North Hollywood, can take. That's restoring your property to its pre-damage condition.
This process can involve many things, from relatively minor repairs like replacing drywall, painting or installing new carpet, to major reconstruction. And SERVPRO of North Hollywood is licensed by the California State License Board to provide contracting services.
In short, to make it "Like it never even happened." requires more than just damage mitigation and cleanup. It requires qualified, licensed professionals capable of rebuilding your home or business to its pre-damaged state.
Following a water or fire disaster, having one company like SERVPRO of North Hollywood handling the entire process can save time and money, and provide Los Angeles area home and business owners with much needed peace of mind.
Why Call SERVPRO for Commercial Cleaning Services?
If your office space or store needs a deep cleaning, call SERVPRO of North Hollywood. We'll make sure your workplace always looks its very best.
Since we're best known for our 24/7 emergency response to water, fire and storm disasters, it's understandable if SERVPRO of North Hollywood is not the first name you think of when hiring a commercial cleaning service. But there are a number of good reasons to call us when you need a quality commercial cleaning service for your office building, retail store or restaurant. Here are but three.
We're Certified Cleaners
When choosing a water damage restoration company, it's important to choose one that is certified to IICRC standards. But even if the cleanup doesn't involve a backed up sewer line or a leaky pipe, our clean-up crew is trained and certified to adhere to a rigorous, deep cleaning standard to ensure a safe and comfortable environment for you and your employees.
And because our team also receives ongoing training and education, you can be confident that our professional cleaners are well-versed in advanced cleaning technology and techniques to make sure your workplace always looks its very best.
We Spot Problems Before They Become a Disaster
It's easier to clean up a localized mold infestation than one that's spread across multiple surfaces or into your air ducts. It's also better to repair a small leak in the roof than to deal with cleaning up water damage after the next big storm.
Even if you have a preferred cleaning service besides SERVPRO of North Hollywood, call us for a proactive commercial property inspection. Our trained eyes, and noses, can help you avoid a loss of business and customers from a future disaster.
We Offer Specialty Cleaning Services
Sometimes a business needs more than just vacuuming and dusting. Specialized clean up jobs, like vandalism and graffiti, odor removal or biohazard cleanup requires specialized techniques and equipment. SERVPRO of North Hollywood has the advanced technology, OSHA-approved cleaning agents and highly trained specialists to tackle even the most challenging cleanup job.
Property managers and operations directors have plenty to worry about from a never ending to-do list. But if you call SERVPRO of North Hollywood for our commercial cleaning services, that's one task you can permanently cross off your list.
Spring Rain Could Increase California Wildfire Risk
Soot and ash is highly acidic. If left unaddressed, it can corrode and discolor surfaces. Call SERVPRO to clean up wildfire damage right away.
Los Angeles and, indeed, all of Southern California has enjoyed - well, experienced anyway - a particularly heavy rainy season. While mudslides and storm flooding cause problems for many homeowners, particularly those living in the burn area of recent wildfires, there's no doubt that this rain should still be considered a good thing.
For one, most of the Los Angeles area is no longer experiencing drought conditions. So while water conservation is still important, we may not need to feel quite so guilty while we tend to our greener lawns or bask in a long, hot shower.
One drawback to all of this precipitation, however, is that it brings with it an increase in wildfire risk. That probably sounds counter-intuitive. After all, rain makes things wet and wet things don't burn. That's true. But water also helps make things grow. And if those things - trees, bushes, shrubs etc - grow well and then dry out over a long, hot summer, the result is a lot of prime fuel just waiting for a stray spark.
Which means now is as good a time as any to review your wildfire action plan. Or prepare your home for wildfire season by trimming back all of that newly lush vegetation. And if you're planning home improvement projects this year, consider using eco-friendly, and fire resistant, materials.
Preparation and prevention are the key to avoiding wildfire damage. But should the worst happen, SERVPRO of North Hollywood is here to help. Call us anytime, 24/7, if your home or business experiences fire or water damage. We're highly trained and certified restoration specialists and we're faster to any size disaster, so don't hesitate to call on us to repair and restore your property "Like it never even happened."
5 Places to Check for Hidden Water Leaks
Minor hidden water leaks can become a major headache if they lead to a water damage emergency. An ounce of prevention can be the best prescription.
Plumbing leaks are one of the most common sources of home water damage. Sometimes the leak is plainly visible. If you see water spots on your ceiling or walls or feel damp areas around sinks, toilets or appliances such as refrigerators or washing machines, your first call should be to a local plumber to fix the leak and stop the water damage from spreading. And, of course, your second call should be to SERVPRO of North Hollywood so we can assess, repair and restore water damaged property.
Sometimes, however, the signs of a water leak aren't so obvious. If your water bill spikes or there's a noticeable drop in your water pressure, you may have a hidden water leak. So here are five places to check for hidden water leaks to help you save both water and money and protect your home from water damage.
Damaged Pipes and Pipe Joints
Many things can cause an otherwise solid pipe to start leaking. Over time, pipes can corrode and rust from prolonged use. Cold temperatures can cause any water inside the pipes to expand and the pipe to burst. Pipe connectors may become loose.
And because pipes are often hidden behind walls or in places seldom accessed such as attics and basements, you may be completely unaware of a problem. A licensed plumber that specializes in leak detection can detect and repair hidden pipe leaks.
Speaking of out of sight, out of mind, many homeowners don't even know where their water heater unit is located, much less pay attention to the vital role it plays in their home. To ensure optimal performance, service your water heater annually. In addition to inspecting for water leaks, you or a licensed plumber should also safely flush out mineral deposits, check the pressure valve and test the unit to help prevent leaks and other water heater malfunctions.
Another common source of a water leak is a water using appliance, such as a washing machine. Over time, pipes, hoses and seals become worn and, if not inspected and repaired or replaced, can start leaking water when the machine is in use. Always keep an eye out for damp areas around the washer and be sure to conduct annual washing machine maintenance to mitigate the potential for water damage before it happens.
Central Air Conditioning Units
It goes without saying that central air conditioning (HVAC) units get quite a workout in homes across Los Angeles during the summer, particularly inland areas like the San Fernando Valley. Often hidden in attics or crawl spaces, these workhorses should be inspected before the next heat wave arrives. In addition to checking for problems like clogged drain pipes, which can cause drain pains to overflow, an HVAC inspection should also look for dirt, mold and other particles that could compromise the air quality in your home.
Because the pipes are hidden underground, you may not notice leaks in your lawn's sprinkler system. There are, however, some signs you have an irrigation leak. For example, one symptom of an irrigation pipe leak is the appearance of mold or mildew on the grass. You can also look for pools of water between or around sprinkler heads. Or if you notice a dip in water pressure inside your home while your sprinklers are running, that can also point to a potential hidden leak. Specialized leak detection equipment may be needed to find the source of an underground leak.
Ultimately, an ounce of prevention can be the best prescription for homeowners concerned about potential water damage. Should a water damage emergency strike, however, call SERVPRO of North Hollywood anytime, 24/7, for help cleaning and restoring your property "like it never even happened."
3 Non-Emergency Reasons to Call SERVPRO
Mold and water damage isn't always this obvious. Call SERVPRO of North Hollywood for an inspection today.
SERVPRO of North Hollywood is probably best known for our 24/7 emergency restoration service. We respond "faster to any size disaster," repairing and restoring residential and commercial property damaged by water and fire, including storm, flood and wildfire disasters.
But did you know that SERVPRO of North Hollywood offers a number of other residential and commercial services that don't require an emergency response? Here are just three reasons to call us beyond emergency cleanup and restoration services.
Specialty Cleaning Services
One of the reasons to choose SERVPRO of North Hollywood is for our IICRC certified cleaning technology and techniques. While these are obviously invaluable when cleaning up after a water or fire loss, our team of professional commercial cleaners can also handle other types of cleanup jobs.
For example, we are certified to handle particularly unpleasant jobs, such as biohazard cleanup, sewage and toilet overflows or trauma and crime scene cleanup. Or if you find your property is the victim of vandalism and graffiti, we can not only remove and clean the affected areas, we can restore it to its pre-damaged condition.
We can also handle more mundane, but still difficult or time consuming, chores, such as cleaning soiled carpet and upholstery, drapes and blinds or ceilings, floors and walls.
Heating, ventilation and cooling (HVAC) systems are often out of sight, out of mind. At least until there's a problem. HVAC systems should be inspected at least once a year for dirt, debris and other contaminants that can affect air quality and degrade the performance of your HVAC system.
There are many benefits to servicing your HVAC unit, but, of course, duct cleaning is not always necessary, so we can also make other recommendations about the best way to address indoor air quality concerns and provide peace of mind on the health of your system and your employees.
Water Damage & Mold Inspection
When the sewage system backs up or storm water floods your basement, it's obvious you have water damage that needs to be cleaned up. Likewise, if you see mold on your walls, ceiling or around your windows, you should call us right away for mold remediation.
Sometimes, however, potential damage from water or mold isn't quite so obvious. Maybe it's that musty smell coming from behind the refrigerator in the break room. Or maybe it's the water spot on the office's ceiling that you noticed got bigger after the last rain storm.
Regardless, our team of highly trained restoration technicians is happy to inspect and assess any areas of concern on your property. Sometimes we won't find any problems and you can simply return to business as usual. Other times, we'll find a source of water damage or mold that you didn't even realize you had, allowing us to quickly and thoroughly remedy the problem before it becomes a true disaster.
Water Damage: How We Work With Your Insurance Company
The SERVPRO of North Hollywood team is here for you, 24/7/365. Let us help lessen the stress of a water damage loss.
Many water damage disasters are covered by your homeowner's insurance, though not all. If you're not sure what is, and is not, covered by your policy, be sure to consult with your insurance agent to ensure you have the coverage you need. You certainly don't want to be worrying about whether or not you're covered when a disaster strikes.
Assuming your insurance policy provides the necessary coverage for a water damage claim, here are the steps SERVPRO of North Hollywood will take to work with your insurance company to assess the damage and restore your property following a disaster.
Pretesting to Determine Restorability
First, the source of the water damage must be identified and stopped. Second, standing water should be extracted to minimize further damage and prevent mold growth.
Only after these steps are completed can our certified water restoration technicians inspect and assess the damage to your property. Based on a variety of factors, from the type of water and the extent of the saturation to the type of materials damaged, our team can assess and test whether or not damaged items can be restored.
Restoration is typically more cost effective than replacement, but only an inspection by a qualified water restoration specialist can truly make help you and your insurance company make the right decision.
Claims Inventory Service
It is important to be accurate and thorough when assessing the extent of a water loss to your property. Our team can create and provide an itemized list to your insurance company to ensure your claim is processed fully and efficiently.
Electronic Mitigation Management
After assessing and estimating the costs to restore or replace your damaged property, SERVPRO of North Hollywood can upload the complete details of the water loss to an electronic database. This database is securely maintained and provides centralized access to the information your insurance company needs to process your claim, reducing paperwork and the risk of delays because of missing or inaccurate information.
Insurance agents and adjusters appreciate working with SERVPRO of North Hollywood because they can count on us to provide timely and accurate damage assessment. And homeowners prefer SERVPRO of North Hollywood for our fast response, highly-trained technicians and advanced restoration technology.
Combined, SERVPRO of North Hollywood strives to lessen the stress of a water damage loss and ensure the best possible results for all parties.