Week of 10/18/2021 – Gasoline is common both on the job and at home for use in both vehicles and equipment we use every day.  It is important to practice safe handling and storage of gasoline to avoid spills and fires. Improper use and storage of gasoline leads to many injuries as well as property damage year after year.

Statistics from the National Fire Protection Association on gasoline related injuries and property loss incidents every year:

500 fire deaths

Several thousand injuries treated at hospitals

6,000+ home fires

$450M+ property damage

Gasoline Characteristics

Gasoline is a volatile, flammable liquid. It is colorless to pale brown or pink in color with a distinctive odor. Generally, the odor of gasoline provides an adequate warning of hazardous concentrations. Its vapors may travel to a source of ignition and flashback. Gasoline vapors are heavier than air and may collect in low-lying areas. Use only as intended. Do not use gasoline as an accelerant, a solvent, a cleaner, a degreaser, weed killer, etc. Use approved containers for gasoline. Keep small quantities of gasoline at the worksite or at home to help prevent incidents. Do not use or store gasoline near ignition sources. The vapors of gasoline can travel to a source of ignition and ignite. Remember- it is the vapors of gasoline that ignite. Use proper PPE when refueling equipment. Chemical gloves, safety glasses, and flame retardant clothing are some examples to keep your skin and eyes safe when handling gasoline. If a fire starts while handling a gas container, set the container down and get away from it. Never try to hit the fire to extinguish it or throw the container away from you. Contact the proper personnel such as emergency responders to immediately put the fire out. Teach your kids about gasoline safety and practice these tips at home to prevent injuries and fires to both yourself and your loved ones.

 

Week of 10/11/2021 – According to the Ministry of Labor, the temporary worker as well as a permanent employee had been assigned a task on the opposite side of the plant. To get there, the permanent worker got into a single-seat Yale forklift. The temp worker then stood on the forklift’s forks to ride across the plant, but in doing so, obstructed the driver’s view. In the middle of the plant, the forklift hit a structural steel column. The temp worker on the forks suffered crushing injuries in the collision, which caused a permanent injury. The investigation into the incident determined that neither worker had taken forklift training while working at Regency, meaning neither were certified. Along with stipulating that a company must ensure safety procedures are carried out, the Occupational Health and Safety Act requires a supervisor to make sure proper procedure is followed. Both Regency and the supervisor pleaded guilty to the violations in a Toronto court room late last week. The company was ordered to pay $50,000, while the supervisor faces a $3,000 fine. There are so many lessons to be learned from this one incident: Don’t utilize a forklift as a mode of transportation. Forklifts are to be utilized to move materials, not people from one side of the plant to the other. Don’t utilize a forklift if you aren’t certified and trained. It takes skill to safely drive a forklift and you must be aware of the various controls and operation of the industrial vehicle. It is far different then driving an automobile. Never carry anyone on the forks of a forklift. It is not a way to transport personnel whether standing on the forks or being lifted using a pallet. These are just unsafe practices from years ago. As well if there is only 1 seat on the forklift, only one person should be on the vehicle. Never drive forward on a forklift where your view is obstructed. Drive in reverse. Finally, please note that even the supervisor of the operation was individually fined for the incident. Yes, you can be held responsible for the unsafe practices of your workers. Take this article and learn the lessons free of charge rather than facing a life changing injury or a monetary fine.

Week of 10/4/2021 – In today’s world, many of us are busier than our parents’ or grandparents’ generations have been. Between long hours at work, kids, housework, school, and any other obligations we have, there is more fatigue and drowsiness in the general population than arguably ever before. Because of our fast-paced lives, drowsy driving is a major concern on our roadways. The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration reported that an estimated 37,000 injury crashes and an estimated 45,000 property damage-only crashes occur annually related to drowsy driving. While general fatigue is a major cause of drowsy driving there are also several other causes. Causes for Drowsy Driving Lack of sleep- The amount of things we have going on in our lives can make it hard to get plenty of sleep. Medical issues- Certain medical issues or health conditions can bring the onset of drowsiness even if a person has had plenty of sleep. One common example is thyroid issues. Drugs/ alcohol- Drugs and alcohol on their own can cause an obvious hazard while driving. When they are paired with a lack of sleep or medical issues, it can be an extremely dangerous situation. How to Avoid Drowsy Driving Get plenty of sleep. Most experts recommend at least seven hours of sleep. Eat a good diet and drink plenty of water. Taking care of your body is important to be able to function at optimal levels. Consult your doctor for unusual or excessive fatigue. It could be a symptom of an underlying health issue. Never drink and drive. Use caution even when only using prescribed medication. Many medications cause drowsiness. Pull over when drowsiness is setting in. A ten-minute nap can make the difference in whether or not you make it to your destination. Do not be a drowsy driver. Take the necessary precautions to avoid putting yourself in a dangerous situation. Pay attention to the drivers around you and practice defensive driving techniques to protect yourself from other drivers who may be driving drowsy.

Week of 9/27/2021 – This is an article I found of an incident that occurred a few months ago. A faller started his chainsaw and heard a squealing noise from it. He turned the saw over to see if it was catching on anything. It did not appear to be. He then turned the saw to the normal upright position and triggered it again. The chain broke, flipped forward and whipped quickly to the right, striking a co-worker that was standing approximately 5 ft. away. The co-worker moved away from the faller and said the chain had just hit him. He pulled up his shirt and blood was pouring out. The broken drive link had entered his abdomen, passing through the right lobe of his liver, diaphragm, heart and left lung. The faller and another worker put him in their truck and rushed him to the hospital where he was pronounced dead upon arrival. Always check equipment thoroughly before using it. If your equipment starts to act inappropriately shut it off properly before inspecting it. Sound is a very powerful tool we can utilize to tell if a power tool or piece of equipment is running properly. Listen for changes in the sound level, pitch or frequency. If you find problems, stop using it, tag it out of service and have it repaired properly.

Week of 9/20/2021 – Traditionally more injuries and motor vehicle incidents occur during this time than any other time of the year. We can give several reasons why, but it usually boils down to human errors, such as those caused by distraction, fatigue, or stress – all of which might lead to lapses or mistakes, which in turn lead to injuries or incidents.

Week of 9/13/2021 – There are many excuses someone will give for not working safely. Some common excuses include: I didn’t know, I didn’t have time, I lost my PPE, nothing will happen, etc. One of the worst excuses to have for not working safely is an “it won’t happen to me” mindset. This excuse communicates a mindset that is set on not completing a task safely or shows a person is relying on luck to keep safe while on the job. There is no substitute for experience. Experience, for the most part, allows us to work more efficiently and safely, however this is not always the case. Experience can also lead to complacency or a higher level of tolerance for risk. When an employee has done the same task or has been in the same occupation for many years they can have the “it won’t happen to me mindset”.

This doesn’t mean that newer employees cannot have the same mindset, but it is often very experienced employees who fall into this mindset trap. We have all heard stories of experienced workers or supervisors getting seriously injured from becoming complacent towards known hazards. It is necessary to be mindful of your attitude towards safety on the job. Complacency can be hard to avoid, however having the mindset that an incident or injury will not happen can put you at great risk of sustaining an injury. Believing you are not susceptible to the hazards of the job is a quick way to be injured. No one is able to avoid injury from the majority of hazards from just having experience alone. It takes action on top of that experience to ensure safeguards are in place and safe work practices are being followed to avoid injury. No matter how much experience you have, the necessary steps still need to be taken to prevent an incident from occurring. Do not let experience on the job affect your attitude towards taking the correct steps to work safe. Hazards need to be controlled. They are only controlled when we as workers take the time to implement the proper safeguards and follow safe work practices. Evaluate your attitude towards safety as well as what hazards or work tasks you may have become complacent towards.

Week of 9/6/2021 – In researching this topic, I discovered that flashlights like many battery powered devices can indeed explode during use. There have been recent cases of e-cigarettes and hover boards exploding while in use. However, they typically utilize a different type of battery. In the types of batteries most commonly used in flashlights, zinc/carbon batteries and alkaline batteries, hydrogen gas (H2) is produced naturally as a product of the corrosion of the zinc electrode within the battery. Differences in batteries, including cell design and charge rate, affect the rate and volume of H2 generation. Excess hydrogen gas is more likely to be released if batteries are used incorrectly. Excess hydrogen gas may also be produced by rechargeable batteries during recharging. If H2 accumulates within batteries or battery compartments without sufficient release, the buildup of pressure can cause the battery or compartment casing to rupture. In order to protect yourself, follow these tips. Read and follow manufacturers’ recommendations for product use. DO NOT MIX batteries of different brand, old and new batteries, alkaline with nonalkaline batteries. DO NOT USE damaged batteries. Ensure that proper polarity(+,-) is observed when installing batteries. Regularly inspect flashlights in a NON-hazardous areas.

Week of 8/30/2021 – September has been designated as Food Safety Education Month so this week we’ll look at food safety. The four easy lessons of Clean, Separate, Cook, and Chill can protect you and your family.

  • – Chill leftovers and takeout foods within 2 hours and keep the fridge at 40 °F or below.
  • – Cool the fridge to 40 °F or below, and use an appliance thermometer to check the temperature.
  • – Chill leftovers and takeout foods within 2 hours, and divide food into shallow containers for rapid cooling.
  • – Thaw meat, poultry, and seafood in the fridge, not on the counter, and don’t overstuff the fridge.

Bacteria spreads fastest at temperatures between 40 °F – 140 °F, so chilling food properly is one extremely effective way to reduce the risk of foodborne illness. The four easy lessons of Clean, Separate, Cook, and Chill can help prevent harmful bacteria from making your family sick. For your health!

Week of 8/23/2021 – Most of us pay attention to expiration dates on food and medical prescriptions. But, have you ever considered the expiration date of a smoke alarm? Yes, these potentially life-saving devices have lives of their own and expire after about 10 years or 87,000 hours of service. However, that’s something that’s not widely known. A recent national survey conducted by First Alert revealed that 72 percent of Americans are not aware that smoke alarms need to be replaced every 10 years. If you neglect replacing your alarms, you could be putting yourself and your family at risk. If you open up the smoke alarm in most cases a manufactured or expiration date can be found on it inside the cover. If there is no date, then it may be too old anyway and should be replaced. I’m encouraging everyone to make sure their home is equipped with working smoke alarms – the key word being “working.” The fact is, even if you have smoke alarms installed at home, you and your family may not be sufficiently protected if you haven’t maintained them. According to the Houston Fire Department, an estimated 30 percent of all residential fires responded to are in homes without a smoke alarm (or they have a non-working smoke alarm). For the discounted pricing of smoke alarms these days, it just isn’t worth the risk not to have a properly working one.

Week of 8/16/2021 – An operator of an excavator struck a water line while digging a trench, causing water to spray around. A worker in the trench took his shovel and started tossing water back at the excavator operator. The operator was trying to close the window against the water when he inadvertently hit the lever controlling the bucket. The bucket moved, crushing the other worker against the wall of the trench. Horseplay starts in fun, but can easily end in tragedy. In this case, the water line break was enough of a distraction to cause a safety concern without the added confusion of a water fight. Don’t give in to the temptation of workplace pranks; they take everyone’s mind off the number one priority of working safely.

Week of 8/9/2021 – A safety tip that we all can use in our day to day lives as well as the emergency scene is the 20,20,20 rule. Every 20 minutes take 20 seconds and look at the 20 feet around you. Hazards are constantly changing and being aware of them is important. Safety habits shouldn’t just be for work, they should be for your home life as well. Have a safe week!

Week of 8/2/2021 – Pressure washers can and are being used in many different applications. At home, they may be used for washing cars, campers, decks, concrete as well as house exteriors. They can also cause injuries, even though it’s “just water”. Due to the water being under pressure, it moves with enough force to cause damage to the eyes or skin and contribute to other types of injuries. Close contact with a pressure washer’s flow to your skin actually abrades away the skin layer by layer rather than cuts and causes injuries that are hard to heal and scar for life. For safer use of a pressure washer, consider the following. Understand your machine and follow the manufacturer’s instructions for safe use, maintenance and storage. Wear eye and hearing protection when operating. Avoid contact with the high pressure stream of water. No matter how thirsty you may be. Keep your hands, feet and body out of the way. Always wear good footwear and clothing. To keep control of the water stream, hang on to the wand with both hands. Never point the sprayer at another person, whether the pressure washer is operating or not. It could discharge not just water but if the angle tip isn’t secure it has the potential to shoot off unexpectedly. Maintain good footing and balance. Do not let children use a pressure washer. Do not use a washer in an area where the water could contact electrical equipment. Use in well ventilated areas. Pressure washers get the job done quickly and well. They have the potential for causing injury, so use them safely at work and at home.

Week of 7/26/2021 – How many times have you tripped over something you did not see or turn around and get startled because someone was in your area that you were not aware of? It happens to many of us often. Depending on what is preoccupying our mind, our emotions, the distractions around us, the noise levels in our area, etc. will determine how much of our ability to be observant is affected. The less able we are to be observant, the higher our chances are to be injured on the job by an unrecognized hazard.

How to Improve on Being Observant at Work

  • Eliminate distractions from your work area. Whether it is someone talking to you or excessive noise, try to get rid of anything distracting you from your work. Also, consider good housekeeping practices as a tool to eliminate unnecessary distractions in your work areas.
  • Take the time before starting a task to stop and look around your work area. Really focus on the different tools or equipment in that area. Are there hazards you are missing? Do you have everything you need?
  • While completing a work task monitor your thoughts. Is your mind truly on the task? For example, think of a time when you were driving and can barely remember the trip. How observant do you think you were while operating your vehicle?

Week of 7/19/2021 – In summer weather and other hot, humid working conditions, drinking enough water is vital to preventing heat illness. The most serious illness, heat stroke, can be fatal. It occurs when the body’s cooling system fails because of moisture and minerals lost to sweating. To prevent heat illness under hot work condition. Wear clothing that allows air circulation. If possible, try to stay out of the sun. Take breaks when you can and drink water frequently. Don’t drink a large quantity of water at once, just keep on sipping. Drinking enough water helps keep the body’s digestive and elimination systems working properly. What is enough water? Eight glasses (eight fluid ounces or about .25 of a liter each) is probably as good a starting point as any. Drinking other beverages and eating waterlogged produce such as lettuce also supplies some of your water requirements. Then adjust your water intake for what seems right for you.

Week of 7/12/2021 – Whether your barbecue uses charcoal, wood, propane or natural gas, making sure it’s safe is important. Ensure that your grill is clean prior to use. Grease buildup can cause a fire that cannot be easily extinguished. For gas grills soapy water on connections and fittings can reveal an unwanted leak. Keep your grill at least 10 feet away from your home or other structure. Don’t use gasoline or paint thinner to start your fire. You may hurt your finely groomed hair and ego in the process. Use starter fluid sensibly. When using a gas grill NEVER turn the gas on with the lid closed. An accumulation of gas can result in a horrendous explosion. Keep children away from the grill. Enjoy your time with family and friends and ensure everyone is safe.

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Week of 7/5/2021 – As the summer season rapidly approaches the use of various fans is going to increase. Fans helps move the air around us and help keep us cooler. However, there are some important safety items we need to look at as the summer approaches. Today as you are around your house or work, take a look at each of the fans you have. Is the guard in place? Fans that are less than 7 feet off the ground must have a guard on them to prevent injury. The opening needs to be ½ inch or less. Ensure the guards are in place and secure. Several years ago there was an injury where an employee jumped up to adjust a fan and the guard came loose and they hit the blades. Is the fan clean? Fan blades that are clean and free of dust and dirt build-up actually move more air than a dirty blade and will keep you cooler. Is the plug in good condition? Check the plug and cord and make sure all the electrical prongs are in place and the cord isn’t frayed. Make sure the motor cover is in place securely. Keep Cool, Stay Safe!

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