Take 5 For Safety – Safety Belts Prevent Ejection from a Vehicle

 


Safety Belts Prevent Ejection from a Vehicle

Failure to Buckle Up
A safety belt, often referred to as a seat belt, is a harness designed to secure occupants inside the vehicle, and you have to buckle up to use it. Without question, a safety belt is the most important in-cab safety device that will protect an occupant in the event of a sudden stop or crash. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) notes that in 2001, safety belts saved over 12,000 American lives.

Safety belts are not just for light-vehicle drivers and occupants, but must also be worn by Commercial Motor Vehicle (CMV) drivers. Though some drivers may have excuses for not buckling up, such as thinking the belt is uncomfortable, the data are clear that wearing your safety belt can save your life. The Large Truck Crash Causation Study (LTCCS) reported that 23 percent of combination truck, single-vehicle crashes involved the driver not wearing a safety belt. A Virginia Tech Transportation Institute (VTTI) naturalistic study of truck driver safety belt use found that in baseline events (i.e., non-crash), 39.6 percent of drivers were un-belted. However, in incidents, that number jumped to 66.5 percent indicating that not wearing a safety belt may be indicative of other risky driving behaviors.

Safety Belts Prevent Ejection from a Vehicle in a Crash
Many people mistakenly believe it’s better to be thrown clear of the wreckage in the event of a crash, but this could not be further from the truth. The fact is an occupant is four times as likely to be fatally injured when thrown from the vehicle. In 2006, 217 truck occupants and drivers died when they were ejected from their cabs during a crash.

  • Did You Know? When you are not wearing a safety belt, your chances of being killed are almost 25 times higher if you are thrown from a vehicle in a crash. Safety belts can keep you from being thrown through the windshield, from being dragged and scraped along the ground, or from being crushed by your own truck or another vehicle.

 

  • Did You Know? Danny Cloud, a 51-year-old McAlester man, was killed on January 22, 2008, when his pickup collided with a tractor-trailer rig in Hughes County, OK. Cloud’s pickup went left of center, hit the semi and became lodged under it. Cloud was pinned for two hours and was pronounced dead at the scene of the crash. The semi was driven by 59-year-old Anthony Wayne Green of McAlester who was also pinned for 1 1/2 hours. He was taken to McAlester Regional Hospital with arm and back injuries. Neither Green nor Cloud wore a safety belt nor had any passengers.

 

  • Did You Know? Michael Berggren, a 55-year old truck driver, was fatally wounded in a crash while not wearing a safety belt. Involved in a single-vehicle rollover on December 26, 2006, Berggren was ejected from the truck cab, which resulted in the truck rolling over him and crushing his chest. Berggren’s employer and spouse indicated that he habitually wore his safety belt. This tragic story highlights that drivers must buckle up each and every time, with no exceptions.

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Take 5 For Safety – Driving at Night

 


Driving at Night

Traffic death rates are three times greater at night than during the day, according to the National Safety Council. Driving at night is more of a challenge than many people think. It’s also more dangerous.

Why is night driving so dangerous? One obvious answer is darkness. Ninety percent of a driver’s reaction depends on vision, and vision is severely limited at night. Depth perception, color recognition, and peripheral vision are compromised after sundown.

Another factor adding danger to night driving is fatigue. Drowsiness makes driving more difficult by dulling concentration and slowing reaction time.

Alcohol is a leading factor in fatal traffic crashes, playing a part in about half of all motor vehicle-related deaths. More fatal crashes take place on weekend nights than at any other time in the week.

Fortunately, you can take several effective measures to minimize these after-dark dangers by preparing your car and following special guidelines while you drive.

The National Safety Council recommends the following:

  • Have your headlights properly aimed. Misaimed headlights blind other drivers and reduce your ability to see the road.
  • Don’t drink and drive. Not only does alcohol severely impair your driving ability, it also acts as a depressant. Just one drink can induce fatigue.
  • Avoid smoking when you drive. Smoke’s nicotine and carbon monoxide hamper night vision.
  • If there is any doubt, turn your headlights on. Lights will not help you see better in early twilight, but they’ll make it easier for other drivers to see you. Being seen is as important as seeing.
  • Don’t overdrive your headlights. You should be able to stop inside the illuminated area. If you’re not, you are creating a blind crash area in front of your vehicle.
  • If an oncoming vehicle doesn’t lower beams from high to low, avoid glare by watching the right edge of the road and using it as a steering guide.
  • Make frequent stops for light snacks and exercise. If you’re too tired to drive, stop and get some rest.

Observe night driving safety as soon as the sun goes down. Twilight is one of the most difficult times to drive, because your eyes are constantly changing to adapt to the growing darkness.

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Take 5 For Safety – “Safe Lifting Techniques”

 


“Safe Lifting Techniques”

Can you think of even one job or occupation where you never have to lift an object? I can’t. Lifting of objects can range from very light objects such as a piece of paper, a pin or a pen to very heavy objects like loads of boxes. Lifting is very much a part of our every day jobs. And, because it is something we do so often, we tend to do it without thinking, or at least we do until we strain a muscle, or worse, hurt our backs.

Lifting incorrectly can result in a variety of injuries. Back strain is a very common one. It results from over-stretching certain muscles, but it can be avoided by practicing safe lifting techniques. A hernia is another injury associated with lifting. A hernia does not generally result from a single lifting effort. It is usually the result of continued extreme exertion, especially done contrary to the structure of body.

Don’t underestimate the importance of being in good physical condition. Years of poor posture, overeating, lack of exercise, stress and improper lifting can catch up with you. Learn how your back works and what you can do to keep it strong. Ask for your physician’s recommended stretching, warm-up, and reconditioning exercises; then practice them regularly.

Safe lifting plays an important role in keeping your back healthy. Although there doesn’t seem to be just one right method to lift an object, there are lifting techniques that take strain off the low back area.

These techniques have several steps in common. They recommend you “size up the load”. That is, look it over. Decide if you can handle it alone or if you need help. When in doubt, ask for help. Moving a box or other object that is too heavy for one person is not worth strained and sore back muscles.

You should also “size up the area”. Look over the area where you are carrying the object to, and make sure it is clear of obstacles before beginning to carry the object.

For that period of time spent lifting, the load becomes a part of your body. You support and propel the object while it is attached to you. This attachment should be firm and sure. Get a good grip.

Attaching yourself to a load will change your balance. To keep this change of balance to a minimum, keep the load close to your body, to your normal center of gravity between the legs, between the shoulders.
Good foot position allows you to keep your balance and bring into play the full power of your leg muscles. Leg muscles are more powerful and more durable than back muscles. Let your leg muscles do the work. Again, footwork is important once you avoid twisting your upper body. Use your feet to change direction. Don’t twist your body. Twisting compounds the stress of the lift and affects your balance.

When you have someone helping you lift an object, teamwork becomes important. If you’re going to be carrying the load to another point, both of you should decide in advance how it is to be handled. Check the route and clearance. One person should be the leader and be in a position to observe and direct the other. Lifting and lowering should be done in unison. Don’t let the load drop suddenly without warning your partner.
Everyone has a way of lifting that seems most natural. Examine yours to see if you are using lifting techniques that reduce strain on your lower back. As the employee making the lift, you’re being counted on to make lifts that are safe and comfortable for you based on the items we’ve discussed:

  • Stay in shape
  • Size up the load; ask for help, if needed
  • Get a good grip
  • Keep the load close
  • Keep your balance with footwork
  • Let your leg muscles do the work
  • Don’t twist your body

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Take 5 For Safety – You’re Responsible

 


You’re Responsible

Every person is the architect of their own fortune, good or bad, depends on the individuals acceptance of personal responsibility.

At a young age, we are taught to assume responsibilities. (“Look before you cross the street . . . playing with matches is dangerous . . . be home before dark . . .”) Even today, as adults, we still learn and decide whether to accept certain obligations. Young or old, we make individual choices.

When responsibilities are shunned or rejected, someone must cope with the results. Police officers, judges, juvenile officers, and social workers respond to most of these rejections in our society. In safety, doctors, nurses, and funeral directors deal with the consequences of rejected responsibilities.

By accepting and practicing safety responsibility, you insure your future both at home and on-the-job. You do the same for your fellow worker as well, because socially and morally you are responsible for preventing accidents to others as well.

  • If you see an unsafe act, do something about it – point it out so others are aware and can avoid future mistakes.
  • Point out to other employees when safety isn’t being practiced. (IT MAY SAVE YOUR LIFE SOMEDAY!) After all, it’s their responsibility to prevent an accident to you as well.
  • Be willing to serve on a safety committee. Be more than just a member, be active and creative.
  • Use good work habits – don’t be impulsive, and remember that hurry up can hurt!
  • Develop the attitude that “If I do something wrong, I’m going to get hurt!” Then do the job the right way.
  • If you are a supervisor – help new employees learn that safety is the rule, not the exception. Teach them proper safety responsibility before you turn them loose.
  • Practice leaving personal problems and emotional stress away from the job.
  • Remember that accidents don’t happen – they are caused.
  • Correct little mistakes before they grow into permanent bad habits.
  • While attempts may be made to cloud or reject the responsibility for safety, when all is said and done, safety responsibility is up to you. You are the architects of your own fortune.

“Practice Safety – don’t learn it through Accidental Experience.”

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Take 5 For Safety – Wake Up Call

 


Wake Up Call

Sleep experts all agree that a regular eight hours of sleep is good for you, but the results of a recent study suggest that the groggy feeling most of us wake up to, even after a good night’s sleep, is harder shake off than we might like to think. “Sleep inertia,” the period immediately after waking, finds most of us in a state of impairment comparable to drunkenness.

In a study conducted by Colorado University researchers, subjects who were deprived of sleep for more than 24 hours actually performed some tests more accurately than those who had just woken up from an eight hour sleep. The study tested short-term memory, counting skills and cognition during sleep inertia. It found that impairment was most severe during the first three minutes. While the most severe effects of sleep inertia dissipated after ten minutes, in some subjects, lingering effects could be detected for up to two hours after waking.

Most of us have a morning routine that allows us ten minutes or longer to ease our way into wakefulness, but the results of this study have serious implications for people who are regularly called on to wake up and act quickly such as medical personnel, emergencies responders and professional drivers. Doctors and nurses work long hours, sometimes napping to refresh themselves, and often making important decisions that require the kind of simple math calculations the Colorado University study examined.

The study did not measure the effects of a cold shower or a hot cup of coffee during the first few minutes after waking, but because any of us could find ourselves pulled from sleep to deal with an emergency, this new study has implications for all of us. Even when we have very little time to rouse ourselves from sleep, we should take as much time as we can, remember that our judgement is suspect in those first minutes of wakefulness, and double-check our calculations before making crucial decisions.
 
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Take 5 For Safety – Driving In the Rain

 

Driving In the Rain

Losing control of your car on wet pavement is a frightening experience. Unfortunately, it can happen unless you take preventive measures.

You can prevent skids by driving slowly and carefully, especially on curves. Steer and brake with a light touch. When you need to stop or slow, do not brake hard or lock the wheels and risk a skid. Maintain mild pressure on the brake pedal.

If you do find yourself in a skid, remain calm, ease your foot off the gas, and carefully steer in the direction you want the front of the car to go. For cars without anti-lock brakes, avoid using your brakes. This procedure, known as “steering into the skid,” will bring the back end of your car in line with the front. If your car has ABS, brake firmly as you “steer into the skid.”

While skids on wet pavement may be frightening, hydroplaning is completely nerve-wracking. Hydroplaning happens when the water in front of your tires builds up faster than your car’s weight can push it out of the way.

The water pressure causes your car to rise up and slide on a thin layer of water between your tires and the road. At this point, your car can be completely out of contact with the road, and you are in danger of skidding or drifting out of your lane, or even off the road.

To avoid hydroplaning, keep your tires properly inflated, maintain good tread on your tires and replace them when necessary, slow down when roads are wet, and stay away from puddles. Try to drive in the tire tracks left by the cars in front of you.

If you find yourself hydroplaning, do not brake or turn suddenly. This could throw your car into a skid. Ease your foot off the gas until the car slows and you can feel the road again. If you need to brake, do it gently with light pumping actions. If your car has anti-lock brakes, then brake normally; the car’s computer will mimic a pumping action, when necessary.

A defensive driver adjusts his or her speed to the wet road conditions in time to avoid having to use any of these measures!

 

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Take 5 For Safety – Fighting Fatigue

 


 Fighting Fatigue

Fatigue is the condition of being physically or mentally tired or exhausted. Extreme fatigue can lead to uncontrolled and involuntary shutdown of the brain.
Fortunately, there are ways to fight fatigue:

  • Get eight hours of sleep before starting work.
  • Sleep at the same time each day. If they rotate shifts, establish clockwise rotations (from day to evening to night). Clockwise rotating makes it easier to go to sleep when a worker goes to bed.
  • Take all scheduled work breaks. A snack or exercise during the break will refresh them.
  • When trying to sleep during the daytime, find a cool, dark, quiet location. Use earplugs, soft music, or a fan to block out noise.
  • See their doctor about sleep disorders, medications for illness, and using bright light on the job or during waking hours.
  • Eat a well-balanced diet beginning the “day” with high protein foods and ending with carbohydrates. Do not eat great quantities before bedtime; they may cause trouble sleeping.
  • Avoid caffeine, alcohol, and cigarettes. These substances cause sleep disturbances.
  • Walking, stretching, and aerobics can help a person stay awake. Exercise will give you stamina and help you to fall asleep later.
  • Work carefully and very methodically, always following proper procedures.

When you’re fatigued you will make errors in judgment. Your mind or eyes can be off task and you can make a critical error.
 
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Take 5 For Safety – Back Injuries and Awkward Positions

 


Back Injuries and Awkward Positions

We have all been told to avoid back injury by bending our knees when we lift, keeping the load close and avoiding twisting motions. These safety rules may be appropriate for simple, direct lifting of materials, but what about back care when you are working in awkward positions? Work tasks that require you to reach or stretch away from your body while handling materials can also put excessive strain on the vertebral discs and soft tissues in the back. An awkward position is a work posture that distorts the spine from its natural curves, puts unbalanced pressure on the discs, and can strain arm, leg or back tissues if held for any length of time.
 
What are some work situations that may put you in “awkward” positions?

  • Jobs that require you to bend and reach into bins or containers to retrieve or place material.
  • Overhead work, installing or servicing equipment, pulling wire, cleaning ceilings, etc.
  • Floor or ground level jobs such as installing or servicing equipment, cleaning, etc.
  • Work tasks in confined or small spaces where there is limited range of motion such as boilers, hatches, pipes, tanks, vaults, crawl spaces, etc.
  • Jobs on ladders, work platforms or step ladders where you may over-reach to adjust, clean, install or service.
  • Pulling loads, instead of pushing them, when removing equipment or other materials.
  • Repetitive tasks that require twisting of the back such as loading or handling material 90o to 180o from the starting point

 
How can you avoid injury when working in awkward positions?

  • Raise bins and containers off the floor and/or tilt them to reduce bending and over-reaching.
  • When working overhead, stand on a steady and adjustable platform. Keep your back posture in its natural curve to avoid uneven spinal loading.
  • If working on the floor, avoid bending over to work. Squat down using your leg muscles and wear cushioned knee pads if you have to kneel at work.
  • In confined spaces, plan your work, and reduce clutter in the area which confines you further and increases the need to twist or overreach. Also arrange for adequate illumination.
  • Don’t hold an awkward position for too long. Pause often to stretch and straighten out.
  • When leaning forward to work, support the weight of your upper body on your free hand and arm, whenever possible. This greatly relieves pressure on your lower back.
  • Position yourself as close as possible to the job, avoid overreaching and/or use tools with longer handles when working on ladders or scaffolding.
  • Never lift heavy loads that are far from your body’s center of gravity. Get help in such cases.
  • Position your work below the shoulder and above the knees to minimize over-reaching.

 Safety Excellence ­ Is It In You?
 

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Take 5 For Safety – Corrosive Chemicals

 


Corrosive Chemicals

Corrosive chemicals can burn, irritate, or destructively attack living tissue. When inhaled or ingested, lung and stomach tissue are affected. Materials with corrosive properties can be either acidic (low pH) or basic (high pH). The corrosiveness is defined in contact with living tissue but acids and bases attack many other materials as well.

  • Corrosive gases — are readily absorbed into the body through skin contact and inhalation.
  • Corrosive liquids — when used have a high potential to cause external injury to the body.
  • Corrosive solids — cause delayed injury. Because corrosive solids dissolve rapidly in moisture on the skin and in the respiratory system, the effects of corrosive solids depend largely on the duration of contact.
  • Corrosives may also have other hazards such as catching fire, exploding, or reacting dangerously with other substances.
  • Corrosives can permanently damage nylon slings, fall protection equipment, and personal protection equipment.

 Examples of commonly-used corrosives (often found in cleaning agents):

  • sulfuric acid
  • hydrochloric acid
  • nitric acid
  • ammonium hydroxide
  • sodium hydroxide

 Labeling

  • Always check labels to determine if a substance is corrosive:
  • The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) requires a special label on any container that¹s shipped and carries corrosives.
  • The DOT label shows a corrosive dripping on, and eating away at, skin and metal.
  • OSHA¹s Hazard Communication Standard requires all containers that hold hazardous substances to have labels that identify their hazards
  • A corrosive label will warn that the substance is dangerous and caution against contact with skin, eyes, or clothing, as well as breathing in mists or gases.

 OSHA requires that whenever the eyes or body of any person may be exposed to injurious corrosive materials, suitable facilities for quick drenching or flushing of the eyes and body for at least 15 minutes; shall be provided within the work area for immediate emergency use.
 
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Take 5 For Safety – Sitting Can Be a Pain

 


Sitting Can Be a Pain

When the employee can alternate sitting with other body positions, sitting at work is not a risk for injury or discomfort.

For those who have no choice and must sit for long periods, the situation is different. Although sitting involves less muscular effort than such physically demanding jobs as gardening or floor mopping, it still causes fatigue. Sitting requires the muscles to hold the trunk, neck and shoulders in a fixed position. A fixed working position squeezes the blood vessels in the muscles reducing the blood supply to the working muscles just when they need it the most. An insufficient blood supply accelerates fatigue.   

Prolonged sitting drops the employee’s physical activity to the lower limit needed for healthy-body functioning. The most common health problems that employees suffer are disorders in blood circulation and injuries affecting their ability to move.  Employees are encouraged to walk around on a normal schedule

The workplace design should enable the employees to carry out work in comfort and safety while allowing them to make voluntary changes in the working posture. To achieve this, the design should include the following elements:

  • tasks
  • work station
  • chair

No matter how well the workplace is designed, an employee who sits for long periods may suffer discomfort. The main objective of a job design for a seated employee is to reduce the amount of time the person spends “just” sitting. Frequent changes in the sitting position are not enough to protect against blood pooling in the employee’s legs.    

Five minutes of a more vigorous activity, such as walking for every 40 to 50 minutes of sitting, can protect an employee from swollen legs. These breaks are also beneficial because they give the heart, lungs and muscles some exercise to help counterbalance the effects of sitting for prolonged periods in a relatively fixed position. Where practical, jobs should incorporate “activity breaks” such as work-related tasks away from the desk or simple exercises which employees can carry out on the worksite.

Another important aspect of job design is feedback from employees. No matter how good the workplace and the job designs, there is always need for individual tailoring. Consultation with employees can secure their active participation and personalize their work.

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