Although you cannot control roadway conditions, you can use safe driving behavior by ensuring that you: recognize the hazards of winter weather driving, (e.g., driving on snow/ice covered roads); are properly trained for driving in winter weather conditions; and are licensed (as applicable) for the vehicles you operate. For information about driving safely during winter, visit OSHA’s Safe Winter Driving page.
If you are an employer, be sure to set and enforce driver safety policies for your employees. Also, implement an effective maintenance program for all vehicles and mechanized equipment that your workers are required to operate. Learn more at: Motor Vehicle Safety (OSHA Safety and Health Topics Page).
Before hitting the road, it is a good idea to inspect the following systems on your vehicle(s) to determine proper operating conditions:
- Brakes: Brakes should provide even and balanced braking. Also check that brake fluid is at the proper level.
- Cooling System: Ensure a mixture of 50/50 antifreeze and water in the cooling system at the proper level.
- Electrical System: Check the ignition system and make sure that the battery is fully charged and that the connections are clean. Check that the alternator belt is in good condition with proper tension.
- Engine: Inspect all engine systems.
- Exhaust System: Check exhaust for leaks and that all clamps and hangers are snug.
- Tires: Check for proper tread depth and no signs of damage or uneven wear. Check for accurate tire inflation.
- Oil: Check oil is at proper level.
- Visibility Systems: Inspect all exterior lights, defrosters (windshield and rear window), and wipers. Install winter windshield wipers.
An emergency kit with the following items is recommended for any vehicle:
- Cellphone or two-way radio
- Windshield ice scraper
- Snow brush
- Flashlight with extra batteries
- Tow chain
- Traction aids (bag of sand or cat litter)
- Emergency flares
- Jumper cables
- Road maps
- Blankets, change of clothes
Whether you are responsible for driving a company-owned vehicle or you drive your own vehicle, take these winter driving tips seriously to help keep yourself as well as others safe this season.
Heating equipment is the second leading cause of home fires in the United States. More than 65,000 home fires are attributed to heating equipment each year. These fires result in hundreds of deaths, thousands of injuries, and millions of dollars in property damage.
Portable electric space heaters can be a convenient source of supplemental heat for your home in cold weather. Unfortunately, they can pose significant fire and electric shock hazards if not used properly. Fire and electrical hazards can be caused by space heaters without adequate safety features, space heaters placed near combustibles, or space heaters that are improperly plugged in.
Safety should always be a top consideration when using space heaters. Here are some tips for keeping your home safe and warm when it’s cold outside:
- Make sure your space heater has the label showing that it is listed by a recognized testing laboratory.
- Before using any space heater, read the manufacturer’s instructions and warning labels carefully.
- Inspect heaters for cracked or broken plugs or loose connections before each use. If frayed, worn or damaged, do not use the heater.
- Never leave a space heater unattended. Turn it off when you’re leaving a room or going to sleep, and don’t let pets or children play close to a space heater.
- Space heaters are only meant to provide supplemental heat and should never be used to warm bedding, cook food, dry clothing or thaw pipes.
- Install smoke alarms on every floor of your home and outside all sleeping areas and test them once a month.
- Proper placement of space heaters is critical. Heaters must be kept at least three feet away from anything that can burn, including papers, clothing and rugs.
- Locate space heaters out of high traffic areas and doorways where they may pose a tripping hazard.
- Plug space heaters directly into a wall outlet. Do not use an extension cord or power strip, which could overheat and result in a fire. Do not plug any other electrical devices into the same outlet as the heater.
- Place space heaters on level, flat surfaces. Never place heaters on cabinets, tables, furniture, or carpet, which can overheat and start a fire.
- Always unplug and safely store the heater when it is not in use.
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
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.
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.
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:
- Call in sick when necessary. Viruses are easily transmitted in close quarters like offices. Stay home if you have any of these symptoms:
- Extreme tiredness
- Sore throat
- Runny or stuffy nose
- Muscle aches
- Nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
On 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:
- Turn your phone off or put ring on silent to avoid the urge to answer.
- Put your phone in a secure location that is easy to reach, in case of emergency.
- Never dial while driving, move to a safe area off of the road.
- Prior to driving, store important contact information in your phone.
- Use a hands-free unit, so that both of your hands are on the steering wheel at all times.
- Become familiar with your phone’s speed dialing and voice-activation features to minimize dialing.
- Prior to driving, set up your voice-mail to take messages.
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:
- Falls from ladders
- 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:
This information provided by SafetySmart www.safetysmart.com
- 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
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.
Occupational Safety and Health Administration
U.S. Department of Labor
(800) 321-OSHA (6742)