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Parking Lot Safety

The holiday season brings joy…and safety challenges. Help to protect your loved ones by offering awareness. Whether they are shopping or traveling, the need to be aware in parking lots is critical. We are easily distracted and a reminder of parking lot safety tips can help prevent crime.

Tips to Keep You and Your Valuables Safe

Pedestrians can make themselves easy targets in parking lots. Usually, they don’t even realize it. The following tips can help make you safer in parking lots:

Walking in the Parking Lot

  • Stay alert and walk briskly with your head up and your shoulders back. Criminals look for easy marks, such as people who are slouched over, preoccupied or fumbling with packages.
  • Avoid texting or talking on the phone and walking so that you can see where you’re going and who is coming toward you.
  • Know your surroundings. Look around the parking lot and your vehicle for suspicious people. If you notice odd behavior, inform security or the police immediately.
  • Walk with others when possible.
  • Walk in a well-lit area.
  • Remove your headphones or earbuds while walking through a parking lot. Be aware of noises and movements.
  • Have your keys in your hand and ready to open your vehicle.

When You Get to Your Vehicle

  • Look into your vehicle’s windows and under the body before entering to ensure no one is waiting for you.
  • If someone approaches your vehicle, do not open your door or roll down your window.
  • When you get in your vehicle, lock the doors and start the engine immediately.

If There is Suspicious Activity in the Parking Lot

  • Retreat to a well-populated area and call the police or security.
  • Wait in a safe place until the police or security arrive to survey the area and let you know it is safe to go to your vehicle.
  • If you are nervous about walking to the parking lot alone, ask security to escort you.
  • If you notice someone in or around your vehicle, leave the area quickly and call the police or security. Describe as many details about the individual as you can to the authorities

Safety Tips for Your Thanksgiving

  • Never cut towards yourself. One slip of the knife can cause a horrific injury. While carving a turkey or cutting a pumpkin your free hand should be placed opposite the side that you are carving towards. Don’t place your hand underneath the blade to catch the slice of meat.
  • Keep your cutting area well-lit and dry. Good lighting will help prevent an accidental cut of the finger and making sure your cutting surface is dry will prevent ingredients from slipping while chopping.
  • Keep your knife handles dry. A wet handle can prove slippery and cause your hand to slip down onto the blade resulting in a nasty cut.
  • Keep all cutting utensils sharp. A sharp knife will never need to be forced to cut, chop, carve or slice. A knife too dull to cut properly is still sharp enough to cause an injury.
  • Use an electric knife to ease the carving of the turkey or ham.
  • Use kitchen shears to tackle the job of cutting bones and joints.
  • Leave meat and pumpkin carving to adults. Children have not yet developed the dexterity skills necessary to handle sharp utensils.
  • Lastly, should you cut your finger or your hand, bleeding from minor cuts will often stop on their own by applying direct pressure to the wound with a clean cloth.

Slow Down: Back to School Means Sharing the Road

schoolsafety

Things get a little crazy on the roads during the school year: Buses are everywhere, kids on bikes are hurrying to get to school before the bell rings, harried parents are trying to drop their kids off before work.

It’s never more important for drivers to slow down and pay attention than when kids are present—especially before and after school.

If You’re Dropping Off

Schools often have very specific drop-off procedures for the school year. Make sure you know them for the safety of all kids. More children are hit by cars near schools than at any other location, according to the National Safe Routes to School program. The following apply to all school zones:

  • Don’t double park; it blocks visibility for other children and vehicles
  • Don’t load or unload children across the street from the school
  • Carpool to reduce the number of vehicles at the school

Sharing the Road with Young Pedestrians

According to research by the National Safety Council, most of the children who lose their lives in bus-related incidents are 4 to 7 years old, and they’re walking. They are hit by the bus, or by a motorist illegally passing a stopped bus. A few precautions go a long way toward keeping children safe:

  • Don’t block the crosswalk when stopped at a red light or waiting to make a turn, forcing pedestrians to go around you; this could put them in the path of moving traffic
  • In a school zone when flashers are blinking, stop and yield to pedestrians crossing the crosswalk or intersection
  • Always stop for a school patrol officer or crossing guard holding up a stop sign
  • Take extra care to look out for children in school zones, near playgrounds and parks, and in all residential areas
  • Don’t honk or rev your engine to scare a pedestrian, even if you have the right of way
  • Never pass a vehicle stopped for pedestrians
  • Always use extreme caution to avoid striking pedestrians wherever they may be, no matter who has the right of way

Sharing the Road with School Buses

If you’re driving behind a bus, allow a greater following distance than if you were driving behind a car. It will give you more time to stop once the yellow lights start flashing. It is illegal in all 50 states to pass a school bus that is stopped to load or unload children.

  • Never pass a bus from behind – or from either direction if you’re on an undivided road – if it is stopped to load or unload children
  • If the yellow or red lights are flashing and the stop arm is extended, traffic must stop
  • The area 10 feet around a school bus is the most dangerous for children; stop far enough back to allow them space to safely enter and exit the bus
  • Be alert; children often are unpredictable, and they tend to ignore hazards and take risks

Sharing the Road with Bicyclists

On most roads, bicyclists have the same rights and responsibilities as vehicles, but bikes can be hard to see. Children riding bikes create special problems for drivers because usually they are not able to properly determine traffic conditions. The most common cause of collision is a driver turning left in front of a bicyclist.

  • When passing a bicyclist, proceed in the same direction slowly, and leave 3 feet between your car and the cyclist
  • When turning left and a bicyclist is approaching in the opposite direction, wait for the rider to pass
  • If you’re turning right and a bicyclists is approaching from behind on the right, let the rider go through the intersection first, and always use your turn signals
  • Watch for bike riders turning in front of you without looking or signaling; children especially have a tendency to do this
  • Be extra vigilant in school zones and residential neighborhoods
  • Watch for bikes coming from driveways or behind parked cars
  • Check side mirrors before opening your door

By exercising a little extra care and caution, drivers and pedestrians can co-exist safely in school zones.

Exercise—Something’s Always Better Than Nothing!

safety515

The following article is excerpted from the Occupational Athletics (OAI) monthly “Partners in Prevention” newsletter. OAI’s mission is “…to provide preventative care utilizing sports medicine principles and lifestyle modification training to create an atmosphere of health, safety, and performance to allow employees to enjoy an enhanced quality of life and reach their retirement—and beyond—successfully! For more information, please visit www.occupationalathletics.com.

It seems one of our favorite sayings here at Occupational Athletics is confirmed to be true; something is always better than nothing! According to The American Heart Association’s journal “Circulation,” even just 10-15 minutes of cardiovascular exercise a day can make a significant difference compared to doing nothing. They still recommend 150 minutes per week of moderate intensity exercise, but if you do less, it is still beneficial for you!

Also noted in the article:

  • People who do 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise (or 75 minutes of high intensity) have a 14% lower risk of heart disease compared with sedentary people.
  • There’s a progressive reduction of risk. If you do twice the guidelines (300 minutes), you lower your risk 20%. If you do 750 minutes, risk drops to 25%.

You can up your physical activity in simple ways!

  • While sitting at your computer, take a break every once in a while to stretch – sit up as straight as you can, hold your core tight, and stretch your arms, wrists, shoulder and neck. Then tighten your core and arm muscles and do arm circles.
  • Put some energy into your shopping. (1) Park far away and walk swiftly. (2) Squeeze your glutes and hold your core in firmly. (3) Take the steps. (4) Squeeze your arm muscles to carry your bags.
  • Before you start watching a TV show – commit to doing pushups, sit ups, leg lifts, and floor exercises during the commercials. Each time, try to do a few more than the last!
  • Turn up the music while you’re cleaning the house! It will put pep in your step and will encourage movement. Go up and down the stairs a few times with the laundry basket before you start the load or lift it and lower it on your way to the laundry room.
  • Play with kids! Kids don’t care what activity they’re doing; they just like to have someone to do it with. Run around with them or teach them a new activity!
  • If you’ve committed time to a friend or loved one, suggest something active to do.
  • If you’re on the phone – pace around and do some lunges.

By Risk Control Consulting Services Division Gallagher Bassett Services, Inc.

Colds and Flu at Work

Each year, between 5% and 20% of Americans get the flu and miss a staggering 70 million work days as a result. The indirect costs? Between $3 billion to $12 billion a year.

Fact: Workplace prevention is key. Get vaccinated.

Too Sick to Work?

You rise from a fitful night’s sleep with a sore throat and headache. Your temperature is slightly over 100 degrees, but judging by how crummy you feel, you wonder if it will spike to 103 degrees by day’s end. Should you drag yourself to work and risk infecting coworkers? Or should you telephone in sick, even though your boss desperately needs you to pitch in during a stressful week? “People are concerned about calling in sick, but if you’re really feeling unwell and especially if you have a fever,… (click here to read full article).

Both the flu shot and the nasal flu vaccine are highly effective for preventing the flu. However, they are not 100% effective. You can still get the flu even if you are vaccinated, although it’s usually less severe and resolves more quickly.

To reduce your risk of sharing cold and flu viruses at work, try these five prevention strategies:

    1. Call in sick when necessary. Viruses are easily transmitted in close quarters like offices. Stay home if you have any of these symptoms:
      • Fever
      • Headache
      • Extreme tiredness
      • Cough
      • Sore throat
      • Runny or stuffy nose
      • Muscle aches
      • Nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea
    2. Cover your mouth and nose when you sneeze or cough. Viruses are primarily transmitted through mucus. Cover your mouth with the inside of your elbow to avoid coughing or sneezing into your hand.

 

    1. Wash your hands often with soap and warm water. Rub your hands for 15 to 20 seconds. When soap and water are not available, use alcohol-based disposable hand wipes or gels.

 

    1. Don’t touch your eyes, nose, or mouth. Germs are often spread when a person touches something that is contaminated with germs and then touches his or her eyes, nose, or mouth.

 

    1. Wipe down your desk and other common areas with disinfectant wipes. Research from the University of Arizona found that telephones, desks, water fountain handles, microwave door handles, and computer keyboards in offices contain large amounts of germs that cause colds and flu.

 

Cell Phone Safety

cellimageOn July 1, 2014, the fines for talking or texting on a hand-held wireless communications device increased. First time offenders now face a fine of at least $200. The fine associated with a second offense increased to a minimum of $400, and drivers who are caught a third time face a fine of at least $600, a possible 90-day suspension of their driver’s license, and (3) three motor vehicle penalty points.

Although it is discouraged, drivers may use a hands-free device if it does not interfere with standard safety equipment. “Use” of a wireless phone and any other hand-held communication device includes, but is not limited to, talking or listening to another person, texting, or sending and receiving electronic messages.

A hand-held phone may be used for an emergency only and the driver must keep one hand on the wheel at all times.

Cell Phone Safety Tips:

  1. Turn your phone off or put ring on silent to avoid the urge to answer.
  2. Put your phone in a secure location that is easy to reach, in case of emergency.
  3. Never dial while driving, move to a safe area off of the road.
  4. Prior to driving, store important contact information in your phone.
  5. Use a hands-free unit, so that both of your hands are on the steering wheel at all times.
  6. Become familiar with your phone’s speed dialing and voice-activation features to minimize dialing.
  7. Prior to driving, set up your voice-mail to take messages.

Must Know Ladder Safety Tips

ladder

What’s wrong with this picture?

In many workplaces, workers are vulnerable to falls. There are many kinds of falls and this picture illustrates two of them:

  1. Falls from ladders
  2. Falls through floor openings

As if simply falling off a ladder to the ground below isn’t dangerous enough, a worker using this ladder the way it has been positioned would also be at risk of falling through the open doors into this building’s basement.

This hazardous situation is easily avoidable. First, the ladder could be placed a safe distance from either side of the open basement doors, so that the opening doesn’t pose a risk to a worker on the ladder. Second, if the ladder had to be positioned in that particular location, say, to access the window, the basement doors should be closed and secured before the ladder is put in place.

To protect your workers from falling off ladders, make sure they:

  • Place ladders on solid, level ground
  • Do not position ladders near an edge or floor opening that would significantly increase the potential fall distance
  • Face the treads when going up and down the ladder and stay in the center of the side rails
  • Maintain three points of contact with the ladder at all times
  • Avoid leaning to one side or overreaching
  • Carry tools in a tool belt or raise and lower them with a hand line
  • Wear shoes/boots with clean, slip-free soles
  • Do not place a step ladder on boxes or scaffolds to gain extra height
  • Take extra care when positioning a ladder in corridors or driveways where it could be hit by a person or vehicle
  • Do not move a ladder while someone is on it
  • Wear fall protection when required by the OHS regulations

And, to protect workers from falls through openings, you should:

  • Identify hazardous openings
  • Install either guardrails or coverings that comply with the requirements in the OHS regulations for these safety measures
  • Develop a hazardous openings policy, which should bar workers from placing ladders near or over floor openings such as the one in the picture
  • Train workers on these policies
This information provided by SafetySmart www.safetysmart.com

Protecting Workers from Heat Stress

Heat Illness
Exposure to heat can cause illness and death. The most serious heat illness is heat stroke. Other heat illnesses, such as heat exhaustion, heat cramps and heat rash, should also be avoided.

There are precautions your employer should take any time temperatures are high and the job involves physical work.

Risk Factors for Heat Illness
• High temperature and humidity, direct sun exposure, no breeze or wind
• Low liquid intake
• Heavy physical labor
• Waterproof clothing
• No recent exposure to hot workplaces

Symptoms of Heat Exhaustion
• Headache, dizziness, or fainting
• Weakness and wet skin
• Irritability or confusion
• Thirst, nausea, or vomiting

Symptoms of Heat Stroke
• May be confused, unable to think clearly, pass out, collapse, or have seizures (fits)
• May stop sweating

To Prevent Heat Illness, Your Employer Should
• Provide training about the hazards leading to heat stress and how to prevent them.
• Provide a lot of cool water to workers close to the work area. At least one pint of water per hour is needed.

SOURCE:
Occupational Safety and Health Administration
U.S. Department of Labor
www.osha.gov
(800) 321-OSHA (6742)

Safety In The Sun

It is 93 million miles away, and life would not exist without it. Its energy moves the winds, permits life-giving rains to develop and fall, and is the engine behind plant growth, which supports the food chain and oxygen cycle. In ways beyond measure, we depend on this nearby star. Yet foolish exposure to sunlight can be harmful to human health. Following are some of the things to think about when you spend significant time outdoors.

  1. Ultraviolet rays can damage the eye’s sensitive retina and cornea. Long-term exposure can cause cataracts, which can lead to permanent blindness or other vision problems.
  2. Skin cancer is usually related to overexposure to the sun. It is one of the most common forms of cancer in the U.S., and becoming more common. About 600,000 cases are diagnosed annually, and about 6,700 people die every year from melanoma, the most serious skin cancer.

Skin cancer is not associated with a single event, like painful sunburn, but is the product of long-term (and therefore “hidden”) exposure. Protection from excessive exposure to the sun is simple, commonsense, and effective in avoiding later health problems. Be safety savvy and do the following:

  • Wear protective clothing, including a hat and proper sunglasses. Remember that poor grade sunglasses are worse than none at all.
  • Wear proper sunscreen (SPF rating of at least 15). But don’t use these products as a crutch. Instead, limit your exposure to the sun, even if you are wearing the proper clothes and sunscreen.
  • See your doctor if you notice a new growth, mole, or discoloration, or a sudden change in an existing mole. Detection of skin cancer is the first step for successful treatment.

May is National Electrical Safety Month!

May is National Electrical Safety Month and a good time to review electrical safety practices. Increasing electrical safety awareness, following electrical safety guidelines, and using tools and technology designed to address electrical hazards are all components of a safety program.

What causes the top electrical hazards? Many are the result of the growing use of electrical power, combined with electrical systems that are over 20 years old. Wiring hazards are both a major cause of electrocutions and home fires, killing hundreds and injuring thousands each year. Misuse of surge suppressors, power strips and extension cords is also a cause of electrocutions and fires. Contact with power lines and major appliances contribute to hundreds of deaths annually, both at home and in the workplace. Eliminating these electrical hazards will help reduce deaths and injuries. Eliminating electrical hazards begins with education and awareness. A focus on electrical safety, both at home and in the workplace, can prevent the hundreds of deaths, thousands of injuries and billions of dollars in economic losses that occur each year because of electrical hazards.

Use of tools and technology can also make our reliance on electrical power less hazardous. Investing in ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCI), arc fault circuit interrupters (AFCI), circuit testers and where necessary, personal protective equipment (PPE), can significantly reduce risk.

According to data, top electrical safety hazards include:

  • Electrical fires caused by aging wiring;
  • Misuse of surge suppressors and extension cords; and
  • Electrocutions from power lines, wiring systems and large appliances.

U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) research indicates that each year we can expect more than 140,000 electrical fires, which result in hundreds of injuries and deaths. Electrocutions associated with wiring and consumer products cost hundreds of lives annually. In the workplace, over 300 workplace fatalities and approximately 4,000 injuries occur each year due to electrical hazards, according to a study published by the National Safety Council (NSC).

NSC-issued electrical safety tips help avoid tragic and costly injuries:

  • Use appliances and equipment according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Replace damaged electrical equipment or have it repaired at an authorized repair center.
  • Make sure power strips, cords and surge suppressors are designed to handle the loads for their intended use. Avoid overloading circuits by plugging too many items into the same outlet.
  • GFCI protection when working where water is near electricity to protect against electric shock.
  • Make certain that all products and equipment are approved by an independent testing laboratory, such as Underwriters Laboratories (UL), Canadian Standards Association (CSA), or ETL-SEMKO (ETL).
  • Add protection by installing a new electrical safety device—an AFCI—to detect and stop electrical arcs that can cause fires.
  • Arcs are not detected by most breakers and fuses.
  • Avoid contact with power lines by being aware of the location of power lines and keeping a distance of at least 10 feet between you and power lines to avoid arcs.

GCIF:  Top Safety Device

Installing a Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI) in every home and workplace could prevent nearly 70 percent of the approximately 400 electrocutions that occur each year. GFCIs are especially useful for cord-connected appliances and equipment used outdoors or near water. GFCIs are electrical safety devices that trip electrical circuits when they detect ground faults or leakage currents. A GFCI can be an electrical receptacle, circuit breaker, or portable device. A person who becomes part of a path for leakage current will be severely shocked or electrocuted.

An Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI) survey found that nearly one-half of U.S. families never test the GFCIs in their homes. More that 25 percent do not know that GFCIs can help prevent electrocution. Even among those who routinely tested their GFCIs, none said that they tested their units as recommended—at least once a month and after storms.

GFCIs are subject to wear and possible damage from power surges during an electrical storm. Industry studies suggest that as many as 10 percent of GFCIs in use may be damaged. ESFI recommends performing a simple monthly test to determine if GFCIs are functioning properly.

Among the estimated millions of GFCIs installed nationwide, many are the standard wall or receptacle type GFCIs.

To test your GFCIs, follow this simple procedure:

  • Push the “Reset” button of the GFCI receptacle to prepare the unit for testing.
  • Plug a light into the GFCI and turn it on. The light should now be ON.
  • Push the “Test” button of the GFCI. The light should go OFF.
  • Push the “Reset” button again. The light should again turn ON.

The light should go out when the test button is pushed. If the light does not go out, then the GFCI is not working or has been installed incorrectly. If the “Reset” button pops out during the test but the light does not go out, the GFCI may have been improperly wired. In this case, the GFCI may have been damaged and does not offer shock protection. Contact a qualified electrician to check the GFCI and correct the problem.

Avoid Outdoor Electrical Hazards

Warmer weather brings an increase in outdoor work in many parts of the country, both on the job and at home. Increasing electrical safety awareness can help ensure those activities do not result in injuries and deaths, according to the Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI). ESFI notes that following safety rules can reduce electrical deaths and injuries:

  • Ladders—even those made of wood—that contact a power line can prove fatal.
  • Unplug outdoor tools and appliances when not in use.
  • Inspect power tools and appliances for frayed cords, broken plugs and cracked or broken housing and repair or replace damaged items.

The Facts

The most recent data from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission shows that on average, there are over 400 electrocutions in the United States each year. Of these, approximately 180 are related to consumer products. Large appliances were responsible for the largest proportion of the electrocutions—10 percent.

  • Electrocutions from wiring hazards, including damaged or exposed wiring and household wiring together totaled approximately 20 percent.
  • Ladders contacting power lines caused 9 percent of electrocutions; in another 5 percent of deaths, victims contacted high voltage power lines.
  • Power tools were responsible for another 9 percent of deaths.
  • Landscaping, gardening and farming equipment cause 7 percent of electrocutions each year.

In the work place, data from the National Safety Council indicate that electrical hazards cause nearly one workplace fatality every day. Annually, electrical hazards are listed as the cause of approximately 4,000 injuries. Electrical incidents, while only a small portion of those that occur on-the-job, are far more likely to be fatal.

Electrical Safety

  • Electricity ranks sixth among all causes of occupational injury in the United States.
  • Before the installation of Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCIs), which de-energize a circuit when they detect a ground fault, nearly 800 people died annually from household electrocutions.
  • Currently, fewer than 200 people die annually from household electrocutions.
  • 25 percent of U.S. consumers don’t understand the purpose of their GFCIs.
  • Over 25 percent of consumers do not know that GFCIs can help prevent electrocution.
  • Nearly one-half of U.S. families never test their GFCIs.

Among those who routinely test their GFCIs, none do so according to safety recommendations—at least once a month and after storms.

Electrocutions do not tell the entire story. Electricity is the cause of over 140,000 fires each year, resulting in 400 deaths, 4,000 injuries and $1.6 billion in property damage. Total economic losses due to electrical hazards are estimated to exceed $4 billion annually.

 

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