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Winter Safety

  • End of the Year Harassment Reminders

    What a difference a year makes. The last two years and even our latest blog we discussed snow blower safety and snow shoveling. So far this year the only winter equipment we needed are “water wings” and pumps. For you ladies out there I don’t mean high heeled party shoes. If the weather decides to get back to normal I’ll be able to skate to the office. If we do get snow, remember a cubic foot of wet snow can weigh 15 – 50 lbs. Snow on the end of a shovel is magnified exponentially as you and your shovel struggle to get it off of your sidewalk or driveway. Be patient, practice safe lifting procedures, don’t become a statistic, but waiting for spring however, might not be an option.christmas party

    This time of the year also ushers in the “company party season” and takes center stage, so can “harassment.” Here are a few reminders:

    *Be aware of your surroundings

    *Dress appropriately

    *Limit yourself, drink as if you are the designated driver. Alcohol can complicate your life, and those you love.

    *Keep your hands and wayward thoughts to yourself

    Any number of these issues can land you in front of HR on Monday Morning. If you are the boss, and abuse your position, you could also have issues as labor laws do protect whistle blowers, and take them seriously.

    As long as we are discussing these easier to spot conditions, here are a few that are a bit more nebulous in terms of harassment. It has been a challenging year in terms of religious freedoms, rights in general, separation, and political correctness or lack thereof. These are also topics best left in the HR office and not at the company party, and can be a basis for a charge of harassment. Harassment can ruin relationships and destroy company atmosphere and morale. These parties and get togethers are offered to improve morale, and to say thank you. Enjoy the time you have together and enjoy this time of the year!

    Here at Safetyinstruction.com we are pro family and want to wish all of you the very merriest of Christmases and Blessings for the New Year!

  • Death By Snow Shovel

    I know it’s a little early, but here in Wisconsin we’ve already seen some of the white stuff and we just put away the Halloween decorations and masks. Ok, I’ll give you that, it is pretty and can be romantic and fun to play in, making snow angels and sledding, skiing, and snow ball fights. But did you know that over 100 people a year die of cardiac arrest after shoveling snow? So can we consider this “White Hazardous Waste Removal?” Just a thought.

    So what is snow shoveling? It’s a form of isometric exercise. So if you’re startingsnow shoveling out on an exercise program, you should always consider your present state of health and talk to your doctor about it. In my past life I had a bit of a “wake up” call. When I was 52 I had some symptoms which did concern me, and I actually was exercising which was a trigger. I did casually mention it to my wife (after about six months) who immediately stopped my life in motion and made all the right calls to get me in to see a doctor. In less than two days I was given nitro glycerin to make sure I could make it to the next day and scheduled for a heart catheterization. The cardiologist doing the procedure wouldn’t let me go home without first doing a 5 by-pass open heart surgery. I always prayed so I could be patient I never meant to be one. So now getting back to snow shoveling and the environment surrounding it. Here’s what to consider:

    1. Your age and current health status.

    2. Tell somebody you’re going out to shovel snow, invite them to come with you.

    3. Proper clothing: shoveling at night? Consider “hi vis” winter wear, dress in layers covering your head and neck. Cover your mouth as breathing cold air can trigger angina or breathing problems. Cold temperatures stress your cardiac system and cause the arteries to contract so blood supply decreases, this can lead to cardiac arrest.

    4. Besides cold temps this type of exercise will strain your muscles. Muscles you probably haven’t used in a while. This will raise your heartbeat and if you’ve got narrowing arteries this is going to be a problem especially in colder temps.

    5. Stretch your muscles before you start, and stay hydrated. Take frequent breaks.

    6. If you’ve had a history of heart disease, high blood pressure, or have elevated cholesterol levels, or are an out of shape couch potato, you should consider getting help with that snow shoveling chore. Perhaps your church or community has a list of volunteers who are happy to help you. Don’t have a snowblower? You might consider one.

    7. Know the signs of heart attack, and keep your cell phone handy to call 911 if necessary.

    Winter snow falls are great times to get out and see the neighbors, just not in the funeral home. So take care of yourself, be prudent, and pray for spring.

  • Boy Did That Go Fast!

    Boy did that go by fast. Did anybody get a chance to visit with summer? I invited summer to come and stay with us for a while. It was a pretty nice offer, but she seemed to have a better offer and is already packed up and gone. Fall has now arrived, but assured me that she could only stay a little while and I should get prepared for the inevitable. Up here in Wisconsin the ice fishermen are already checking out their gear including ice shelters, boots, mittens, tip ups and jig poles. These guys are out shopping for the latest gear to keep warm, but first have to get past the Halloween décor, which is quickly being replaced by Christmas trees. Are you kidding me? As soon as the ice is dangerously thin, some of them will start to venture out, and invariably fall through wishing they’d waited a little longer.

    I’m already getting calls for winter PPE. This makes sense. After last winter it seems nobody wants to get caught without something to keep them warm, besides a fire and a cup of hot chocolate. Now is the time to make sure you’re prepared. Are you working outside in the logging industry, public agencies, construction, are you a School Bus Driver, or employed in an industry that would require you to work outside or in extreme cold temps ? Even if you are working in an unheated or minimally heated warehouse, then please consider Hi-Vis clothing Hi Visibility Winter Jacketfor cold temps.

    The following data is from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

    • Data for 2011 are preliminary.

    From 1999 to 2011, a total of 16,911 deaths in the United States, an average of 1,301 per year, were associated with exposure to excessive natural cold. The highest yearly total of hypothermia-related deaths (1,536) was in 2010 and the lowest (1,058) in 2006. Approximately 67% of hypothermia-related deaths were among males.

    Here is another frightening statistic from the department of health: Figures released by the Department of Health show that 28,354 episodes of hypothermia were treated in 2012/13 – an increase of 25% on the year before and 40% on the year before that. Many of these relate to the over-70s and babies, who are more susceptible to the cold.

    As a safety advocate, parent, grandparent, and outdoor enthusiast, I would highly recommend you learn and recognize the signs of hypothermia, and how to treat it. There are several sources for this. I’ve chosen WebMD for a concise list. If you need training, check out your local Red Cross or see your Health and Safety Director where you work, to see if there is an opportunity for participating. If not, encourage them to sponsor a training. Please don’t learn the hard way, and if you must test out the ice make sure it’s in your choice of beverages. I Like root beer.

    From everyone at SafetyInstruction.com, make it a safe day!

    Interested in a complete learning management system for the safety of your employees? Sign up for a walkthrough of our LMS and we’ll show you how your employees can get the best learner experience at a price you can afford!

  • I’m Just Going to Remove a Little Snow

    At Least today it’s not below zero. It’s still dark outside and once again find myself getting snowblowingready to remove the latest 7” blanket of snow from my driveway and sidewalks. I remind myself that I’m not praying hard enough for spring, and my daffodils are still under 5 feet of snow. This exercise is becoming too routine. I need to caution myself however, because in routine you can find carelessness. So I need to check my list; Coat, hat, mittens, boots, hearing protection, check all there. As a safety guy this is PPE or Personal Protective Equipment. Ok now I’m out of the door and going to be working in cold conditions, and need to consider winter safety.

    I walk past my golf clubs on the way out, and muttered a few words to them about being patient. I opened the shed door, where a hungry but tired snow blower awaits the inevitable wake up. I’ll make a visual check for anything that might have shaken itself loose or broke from the last outing just a day or two earlier. I need to check for ice that might impede the auger or snow chute. Gas, check, oil, check, I want to refuel now so I don’t have to do that when the engine is hot. I check to make sure my scarf or string from my hood are secure and out of the way of any moving parts. One good pull and she starts right up. Keep the doors open and be cautious of carbon monoxide poisoning. Before I leave I grab my shovel and need to remind myself to lift with my legs, not my back. Maybe I should stretch a little first. OK now I’m ready to go.

    As the sun makes its first appearance in days, I have yet another thought. “What If?” What If my snow blower becomes disabled, can I park it in a handicap parking stall? No, just kidding. If the auger or the snow chute becomes plugged, or a shear pin gives way, I need to shut the snow blower off. Snow blowers are a common cause of lacerations and amputations. Use a long stick to clear debris or wet snow from your machine, and proper tools to replace the shear pin. There are other issues to guard against while performing this exercise; exhaustion, dehydration, heart attack. Take time out to rest in a warm area, and get something to drink. All this sounds like a little overkill but if taken seriously it becomes a part of your safety culture and will be second nature, something you can pass on by example. Some of this information can be found on the OSHA web site , and you thought you were just going to remove a little snow.

    Winter is miserable enough without slipping, snow-blowing, driving in white-outs, you name it! SafetyInstruction.com is here to make sure you and your employees are prepared! Prevent winter accidents with our array of Winter Safety Training products. For all of your safety needs, SafetyInstruction.com is here to make sure your prepared!

  • Common Sense Working in Cold Conditions

    A New Year and a new start. Checking in to see how you’re doing with your “New Year Revolutions”. January in Wisconsin has been brutal so far, and those I talk to across the country including Canada have been singing the blues about the weather as well. This type of weather presents a whole new challenge not just to you and your body personally, but to employers who are charged with providing information, and safeguards for common sense working in cold conditions.

    “We’ve only just begun” as Karen Carpenter once sang. Winter is a marathon and not a sprint; it does call for common sense. Please evaluate your risk factors and understand the fundamentals and sign of “Hypothermia”, cold environment injuries and illnesses. Learn the PPE requirements and how to use them. This years “arctic vortex” included some record breaking cold across the country. Your body is an interesting and complex creation, and not necessarily built to withstand extended periods of cold or heat for that matter. It adjusts itself to prevent heat loss and conversely overheating as well, but it’s up to you to prepare and understand how your body works in either extreme. Of course your employer is responsible for providing a complete written plan, the tools, environment and supervision as part of OSHA’s general duty clause.

    I do keep referring to “Common Sense” I raised 4 sons and a daughter. Not once did I send them out in the snow barefoot, or ice skating with an ill-fitting pair of skates, and their mom always shouted at them as they left the door “Are you wearing your hat”? Do you have your mittens? Do you have jumper cables in the car? They all learned to love ice fishing, skiing, skating and hockey, those things that make winter move along just a little quicker. Now they are passing on the common sense to my grandchildren.

    This year truly has been a challenge, and I will be happy to see it in my tail lights. Meanwhile use common sense working in cold conditions.

  • Safety Checks Exist for a Reason

    Occupational health and safety is one of the most important obligations and responsibilities of every employer, no matter what the scope of work is. This becomes even more applicable for occupations that present specifically risky natures of work - construction, chemical plants, etc. There has been a recent incident in a California oil refinery which has put a lot of lives, not to mention property and equipment, at risk just because of inadequate safety checks. Read the whole story by Jaxon Van Derbeken for the San Francisco Chronicle in this article.

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