Snow Blower Safety

Technology is wonderful! Chain saws, power tools, log splitters, etc… all save us a ton of time and energy; ditto for the snow blower. No more backbreaking snow shovel work, just power up the blower and get going.

With all power tools, however, there is an increased risk factor. Statistics tell us that snow blowers are responsible for 6,000 emergency room visits and close to 1,000 amputations a year in the US.

Here are some safety tips to avoid becoming a victim yourself.

  1. Never, ever, put your hands into the discharge chute. Most snow blower injuries occur when the user tries to clear the auger or the discharge chute. If the auger or chute become clogged, turn the blower off and use the tool that came with the blower or a broom handle, to clear away the obstruction. Never use your hands.
  2. Keep all body part well clear of all moving parts.
  3. Tuck in scarves and any other loose clothing that might be caught in the snow blower’s moving parts
  4. Always turn the snow blower off before attempting to add fuel.
  5. Keep yourself and everyone else (including pets) clear of the discharge chute.
  6. Never walk away from the blower while it is running. If your hands are going to come off the blower, turn it off.
  7. Finally, be aware that parts of the snow blower engine can get extremely hot. Do not touch the engine or the muffler

Snow blowers can save us a lot of time so be smart and use some of that time to properly maintain your snow blower and make sure you read all instructions and safety information that comes with it.

Safety Tips to Jump-Start a Car

The weather has started to cool down and we are transitioning to winter. With it turning cold, maybe some morning you may go out to start your car and the battery is dead. Well then you need to get a jump start. Most people think they know how to use jumper cables on a car’s battery, but you’d be amazed how many people do it the wrong way. Follow these suggestions from the National Safety Council when getting your car back on the road.


How to Jump-Start a Gas-Powered Automobile

  • Check your owner’s manual before jump-starting your car or using it to jump-start another car. Some new cars had specific instructions or prohibit jump-starting.
  • If it is OK to jump-start, attach the jumper cables correctly.
    1. Clamp one cable to the positive (+) terminal of the dead battery. Don’t let the positive cable touch anything metal other than the battery terminals.
    2. Connect the other end of the positive cable to the positive terminal of the good battery.
    3. Connect one end of the negative (-) cable to the negative terminal of the good battery.
    4. Connect the other end of the negative cable to metal on the engine block on the car with the dead battery. Don’t connect it to the dead battery, carburetor, fuel lines or moving parts.

    1. Stand back and start the car with the good battery.
    2. Start the stalled car.
    3. Remove the cables in reverse order.

How to Jump-Start a Diesel-Powered Automobile

Even though diesel-powered vehicles can have dual batteries or one oversized battery, it’s possible to jump-start a diesel from the battery on a conventional gasoline-powered vehicle. If your diesel won’t start due to a dead battery, follow the steps here to jump it safely.

To avoid confusion, these instructions call the vehicle with the dead battery the disabled vehicle and the one you’re jumping the start from the source vehicle. Follow these steps to jump-start a dead diesel battery:

Make sure that both vehicles are in Park or Neutral with the parking brakes on.

1.    Turn on the heater on the disabled diesel vehicle.

This protects the electrical system from surges in voltage.

2.    Make sure that the lights and other electrical accessories on the disabled diesel vehicle are off.

A vehicle with dual batteries usually has thicker cables on one of the batteries. Attach the jumper cables to the battery that has thicker cables. If either vehicle has dual batteries with cables of the same thickness, use either battery for the jump. If a vehicle has only one battery, just be sure to hook the cables up in the proper order.

3.    Connect the clamp on one of the jumper cables to the positive terminal of the disabled vehicle’s battery.

The positive terminal should have a (+) or a red cover on it.

4.    Connect the other end of the same jumper cable to the positive terminal of the source vehicle.

5.    Connect one end of the other jumper cable to the negative terminal (-) of the source vehicle.

6.    Connect the other end of that jumper cable to an unpainted, metallic part of the disabled vehicle.

Use the bracket that keeps the hood up, but any such part will do as long as it’s not near the battery, belts, or any other moving parts of the engine.

7.    Start the engine on the source vehicle.

8.    Start the engine on the disabled vehicle.

Let both engines run for a minute or two, more if the battery has been dead for a long time.

9.    Turn off the engine of the source vehicle.

Leave the disabled vehicle’s engine running.

10.  Remove the cable from the unpainted metal part of the disabled vehicle.

11.  Disconnect the cable from the positive terminals of both vehicles.

12.  Disconnect the cable from the negative terminal of the source vehicle.

13.  Drive the disabled vehicle around for at least 15 minutes to ensure that the battery is fully charged.

If you justify your have a dead diesel vehicle and the battery dies the next time you try to start the car, you probably need a new battery. Be sure to get the proper one for your vehicle’s make, model, and year.

Road safety tip: Be careful when jump-starting from a hybrid car

While driving a new hybrid car and a conventional vehicle are similar experiences, important difference still exist. Maintenance, too, can be more complicated, experts say.

In winter weather, both hybrids and regular cars can potentially lose battery charge and become impossible to start normally. Drivers can generally jump-start drained hybrids from other cars. However, trying to jump a drained conventional car from a hybrid can be extremely dangerous.

Hybrid cars generally use battery systems far more powerful than those of a regular vehicle, given their need to power a large electric motor in addition to the rest of a car’s usual devices. This can apply excessive power to a conventional car’s circuits, and prove to be quite unsafe if a motorist accidentally touches a live jumper cable to a metal surface.


Jump-starting a hybrid car is similar to jump-starting a gasoline-powered vehicle.

Again  Check your owner’s manual before jump-starting your car or using it to jump-start another car. Some new cars had specific instructions or prohibit jump-starting.

Whenever you jump-start a hybrid, be sure to follow the vehicle manufacturer’s jump-start procedures. They can be found in the owner’s/operator’s manual, usually located in the vehicle’s glove box. And if you have any questions about the procedure, call in a professional. You don’t want to be poking around under the hood or in the high-voltage traction motor battery compartment unless you’re a trained and qualified technician. If a part says “Don’t Touch” or “Don’t Take This Apart,” then don’t touch it or take it apart. There may be 500 volts inside.

Step 1

Turn off both cars. Be sour to turn off something that races on electricity as well such as the radio, GPS and air conditioning. The sudden rise of power could be bad these devices.

Step 2

Pull the cap release lever on both cars. Be sour to pedestal bridge bearing open each one hood with the bolt under the cap to to ensure they stay up while you are working.

Step 3

Connect one end of the pullover cables to the positive Limit on the hybrid vehicle. Attach the other end of the same Colored cable to the positive Limit of the operation car.

Step 4

Clamp the end of the other pullover cable to the negative Limit of the operation car. On a Prius, To connect them to remain end on an unpainted metal bandage on the car. For a Honda, there is a to melt strap, generally located towards the front of the engine compartment. Control the owner’s handbook if you’re Dubious To place the strap.

Step 5

Start the operation vehicle and let it run for a few minutes. Now beginning your hybrid car.

Step 6

Remove the cables, carefully, in the opposed order you connected them.


  • Wear a pair of splash-proof, polycarbonate goggles with the designation Z-87 on the frame. This certifies that your goggles are meant for activities such as automotive repair.
  • Batteries contain sulfuric acid, which gives off flammable and explosive gas when a battery is charged or jump-started. Never smoke or operate anything that may cause a spark when working on a battery.
  • Whenever you change the oil, take time to check your battery for damage such as cracks, corrosive materials and loose wires.
  • Make sure you have a pair of jumper cables that are free of rust and corrosion and have no exposed wires. (Never use electrical tape to cover exposed wires.)
  • Make sure you buy a battery that is recommended in your car owner’s manual.
  • Never throw an automobile battery in a garbage dumpster or leave it in a parking lot, especially if it is cracked or damaged. Take it to a service station and have it disposed of properly.
  • Never jump-start your battery if your car’s fluids are frozen.
  • When buying a new battery, make sure that its terminals are sturdy and large enough to allow the clamps of a pair of jumper cables to attach easily when jump-starting.
  • Always call a professional if you think there might be trouble you can’t handle, or you can’t remember how to jump-start a vehicle.
  • Prevent Blindness America offers a battery safety sticker that lists the correct steps to take when jump-starting a dead battery. To get one, call 1-800-331-2020.  Or go to

When using a portable battery booster, the process is much the same.

Connect the positive clamp of the booster cable to the positive clamp of the dead battery. Then connect the negative cable to the engine block or other grounded metal away from the battery.

The National Safety Council (NSC) offers an additional suggestion: if you are buying jumper cables or a portable battery booster, buy the best quality you can afford. Look for well-insulated clamps and 8-gauge wire. (Note: the lower the wire gauge number, the heavier the gauge.) Under the heavy electrical load of boost starting, lightweight cables may not be able to deliver enough current to start some engines. In fact, they have been known to melt in the user’s hand.

If your battery is three-years old or older and you haven’t had it checked, it’s a good preventive measure to do so, suggests the NSC. A battery’s power is reduced as the temperature drops. And that’s when the engine’s starting demands are greatest.

Information provided by the National Safety Council and Prevent Blindness. Org.

Today’s blog post comes to us courtesy of  Ken Oswald
Safety and Security Manager for Plateau


3 Great Documents on Confined Space from J. E. Spears, LP

Understanding Confined Spaces

 By Jerome E. Spear, CSP, CIH         


      According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), one death occurs in every 10 confined space accidents.  Injuries and fatalities involving confined spaces often involve successive fatalities when “would-be” rescuers succumb to the same problem as the initial victim.  Almost every kind of industry has some type of confined spaces.  Tanks, storage bins, tunnels, pipelines, utility vaults, pits, storm drains, and silos are examples of confined spaces.   More than 1.5 million workers enter these spaces each year for the purposes of maintenance, repairs, installations, and inspections.  Employees who work in confined spaces face an increased risk to serious physical injury from hazards such as entrapment, engulfment and/or hazardous atmospheric conditions.  Evaluating potential hazards and understanding applicable confined space standards is the first step to preventing confined space accidents.


Read or download entire article


Confined Space Entry

A Review of Confined Space Standards Applicable to Contractors


     According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), one million construction workers are exposed to the hazards of confined space entry each year. However, OSHA’s general industry regulation, 29 CFR 1910.146, Permit-Required Confined Spaces, specifically states that this regulation does not apply to the construction industry due to the differences in the nature of the work sites. Does this mean that contractors do not have to follow stringent confined space rules? This question as well as pertinent construction-related confined space regulations and standards are discussed in this article.


Read or download article


Summary of State OSHA Confined Space Standards 

     Many states with their own state OSHA plans adopt the federal OSHA standards.  However, there are some states that have written their own standards.  I compiled a summary of state OSHA confined space standards several years ago and recently updated it.  Click the link below to view or download this summary.

State OSHA Confined Space Standards

These documents were written by Jerome Spear, CSP, CIH



You can find more articles by Jerome at

Top 5 Causes of Winter Driving Accidents

Top 5 things to remember…to ensure a safe ride home for the holidays

It’s the week before Christmas and all through the office, employees excited about the upcoming holiday. Everyone ready to head to their cars and home for the long holiday weekend! It’s exciting…family, friends, gifts, last minute shopping, long weekend, too much food, too much drink, too much snow shoveling and more!

There is a lot to look forward to but you won’t be able to enjoy any of it if you don’t get home safe. With sugar plumps dancing in your head It’s easy to get distracted during the holiday season. It’s also the worst time of year to not pay extra attention while on the roads.

Whether you drive along a congested highway, a small country road or a city street under construction, chances are you or your fellow employees may have witnessed an accident this morning. Driving is something that almost every employee does on a daily basis…whether it’s business-related travel during the workday, commuting to and from work, or during off-duty hours. But regardless of when, where, or why an employee is behind the wheel, when an injury occurs, there is a devastating impact on Plateau.

We want you to get home safe and enjoy the holidays so before you leave today or tomorrow read this list and check it twice!

The “BIG 5” of driving mistakes which are behind the majority of accidents. Avoiding these five mistakes could prevent most motor vehicle accidents, injuries, and deaths:

–Not paying enough attention to driving (Distracted Driving)
–Following too closely or tailgating
–Driving too fast—or too fast for the conditions (I.E. Weather, Lighting or Roads)
–Failing to obey traffic signs and signals
–Backing up unsafely (Parking lots)

The main focus of 2011’s Driving Safety  is on distracted driving. Distracted driving has been recognized over the past several years as one of the major safety issues on America’s roads. The transformation of cell phones into mini-wireless computers has become the number one distracting force on the road and has led to a shockingly high number of collisions, injuries, and deaths. Add to that all of the other distracting activities that a driver can engage in and it is a wonder anyone is watching the road at all. A study by the National Safety Council shows the following:


Behavior Increased Crash Risk
Texting 23 Times
Reaching for a Moving Object 9 Times
Dialing a Cell Phone 6 Times
Driving Drowsy 4 Times
Looking at an External Object 3.7 Times
Reading 3.4 Times
Talking on a Cell Phone 4 Times
Applying Makeup 3 Times

Ten simple steps can prevent most traffic accidents. NHTSA also urge you to promote these 10 positive steps for responsible driving:

Plan your route. Try to avoid congested roads, roads under repair, dangerous intersections, and other spots where accidents often occur.
Maintain your vehicle. Safe vehicles are routinely maintained and repaired, and visually inspected before each trip.
–Pay attention to your driving. Eyes should be on the road, hands on the wheel, and mind on the driving-not drinking, eating, applying cosmetics, reading the paper, etc.
Minimize distractions. That means phones, the radio, conversations with passengers, kids and so on.
Know your surroundings. Know where you’re going and what the hazards might be along your route.
Share your space. Respect the right of way of other vehicles and pedestrians. Be a careful, defensive driver.
Watch your speed. Keep within the speed limit, and adjust your speed to traffic and weather conditions.
Keep your distance. Under normal conditions, maintain a distance of 3 seconds behind the car in front on the highway and add a additional second at night, in bad weather, feeling drowsy or when road conditions are bad.
Signal your intentions. Use your flashers to let other drivers know when you’re going to turn. Use hand signals or pump your brakes to let other drivers know when you’re slowing down or preparing to stop.
Always wear a seat belt. Seat belts save lives and prevent or minimize injuries. Everyone in the vehicle, including passengers in the back seat, should wear a seat belt-even for short trips and local driving.

Distracted or drowsy driving takes a deadly toll on the nation’s roads. In a study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Transportation Research Council which concludes that in nearly 80 percent of crashes or near-crashes drivers are distracted or drowsy just before the accident. According to the study, distracted driving contributes too many more accidents than previously thought.

The study also finds that 20 percent of crashes are caused by drowsiness and that drowsiness often occurs in the morning or during the day when you’d think drivers would be wide awake. The study concludes that drowsy driving increases an employee’s risk of having an accident or near-crash on the road by four to six times.

Here are some tips to help employees deal with drowsy driving:

–Have something to eat before you leave the house. Food in your stomach will give you energy and help keep you alert.
–Have a healthy energy snack like a yogurt or piece of fruit before you leave home or work.

–Sunflower seeds, crushed ice or snack on something crunchy to keep you awake and stimulated.

–Caffeine will work for short trips but it does were off long term.
–Pull over, get out, walk around a little, and have a cup of coffee if you feel drowsy while driving.
–Ask a passenger to take over driving if you’re too tired to drive.
–Leave your car and take public transportation, ride with co-worker, or call family member or friend to come pick you up from work if you feel like you’re too tired to drive safely.

Lastly with icy and snowy conditions. Clean your car off right and don’t cut corners

I know it’s cold, and you want to cut corners and get in your warm car, but don’t give your car a quick brush down. Get all windows, hood and roof…make sure you have perfect visibility and all ice is removed. Driving in poor conditions is hard enough, don’t make it any harder.

Remember is you are traveling contact the state road condition number before you start.

Information provided by NSC  and NHTSA.


Today’s blog post comes to us courtesy of Ken Oswald
Safety and Security Manager for Plateau

A Holiday Safety Poem

Those of you who read this safety blog regularly know Ken Oswald. He regularly contributes as a guest blogger. A couple of weeks ago he sent over a Holiday Safety Poem and I thought I’d share it with you so here it is:

‘Twas weeks before the holidays and time to prepare,

We must be careful and always aware.

All thru the house there’s so much to do –

Cooking, shopping and decorating too.

Accountants and Service Reps lined up with care,

In hopes of a springtime soon would be there.

While Operators put every last call to bed,

They had visions of chocolates dancing in their head.

Installers in their boots, and Mechanics in their caps,

Had just settled down for a much-deserved nap.

When out on the cell tower there arose such a clatter,

They sprang from their chairs to see what was the matter.

Away to the window they flew like a flash,

Dropping their munchies and tripping over trash,

The north wind blew the new fallen snow,

Obscuring the visibility way down below,

When, what to all wondering eyes should appear,

But the Safety Committee, announcing, “There’s nothing to fear”.

With their OSHA Manuals full of guidelines and tips,

They could handle any condition pretty darn quick.

They went straight to work spreading safety cheer

Passing out new Personal Protective Equipment in time for the New Year,

And safety posters, ergonomic balls and stress relief tips, too.

With no accident reports, makes Workman’s Comp so blue.

Holiday candles add such a festive glow (but never at work),

Just blow them out before you go.

Not watched on a desk or on top of a mantel,

Will assure a fire for a pro to handle.

Light up the night and add color to your tree,

String those lights together, but no more than three.

Use extension cords, but only UL approved for outdoors,

Watch for tripping hazards on the floors.

Steady that ladder; don’t work in high wind,

Wear the right shoes and get help from a friend.

Before you are nestled all snug in your bed,

Turn off the space heater and then lay down your head.

Don’t dry on the heater your kerchief or cap,

The firefighter may just interrupt your long winters nap.

If your stockings are hung on the mantel with care (away from the flame),

You can rest assured St Nicholas soon will be there.

Wrapping paper or a dry Christmas tree too,

Will burn too hot for your fireplace flue.

Between you and me, I know it to be so,

The year can be ENMR·Plateau’s best ever show,

Then they packed their bags, giving a smile that was pleasing

Safety is the reason, That puts joy in our season,

And all of you are the best of the best!

So, let’s not give vigilance a rest!

So back to the safety office away the Committee did fly,

Speeding through the cold December sky,

But we all heard them exclaim as they drove out of sight,

“Have a VERY SAFE Merry Christmas to All, and to All a Good Night!”


Have a very merry Christmas!

The Safety Christmas Scrooge

Here’s a new twist…

Most of us are familiar with the OSHA Santa, the OSHA cowboy, etc… (If not, click here to view them). As strange as it may seem, these humorous drawings may be closer to the truth than we might think and some people are sick and tired of all the fun in the holiday season being taking away in the name of safety.

According to an article in the Press Association, a group of ministers (of all people) have had enough of what they are calling “ridiculous” bans that are apparently intended to remove safety hazards that are nothing more than “myths”. This group is calling them “health and Safety Killjoys”.

“The Government published a list of so-called “Christmas elf and safety myths”, which included children being banned from having snowball fights; office workers told they cannot put up Christmas decorations; panto performers ordered not to throw sweets into the audience; being sued for clearing snow from outside your business or home; and preventing people from putting coins in traditional Christmas puddings.

Also mentioned were seats being removed from shops – despite weary Christmas shoppers wanting to rest their feet; traditional town centre Christmas trees being scaled back or replaced by artificial alternatives; Christmas lights needing electrical PAT (portable appliance) tests every year; Santa being ordered to buckle up on his sleigh; and carol singers being classed as a health and safety risk.”

While no one is anti-safety, this group of ministers is saying “enough is enough”. The holidays are supposed to be a time or joy and celebration and government agencies that take all the fun of it in the name of safety myths need to be reined in, according to this group of ministers.

I’m a safety professional and I’d be the last person to advocate unsafe behavior, but I have to admit that I agree. Sometimes you can go overboard and people packed in cotton aren’t going to have much of a life.


That which is supposed to protect may be harming instead

Apparently the expression “That which does not kill me makes me stronger” is something that makers of hand soap and disinfectants need to be paying attention to. It applies to germs as well. It has long be preached by naturalists and proponents of fiber cleaning cloths that disinfectants are simply creating stronger, more resistant germs.

A new study now has scientific backing to that claim.

Excerpts from the abstract:

“it has been demonstrated that biocides can select, at least in laboratory experiments, antibiotic resistant bacteria… widely used biocide triclosan might induce antibiotic resistance using as a model the opportunistic pathogen Stenotrophomonas maltophilia… “

You can read more about it for yourself by clicking on the link above. Right now the FDA is reassessing triclosan’s safety and beginning to take a look at many others.

In my humble opinion this is one issue we can’t afford to drag our feet on. No one wants super viruses and germs that nothing will kill.

Stress Relief Tips for Dealing with the Holidays

Six Stress Relief Tips for Dealing with the Holidays

Six Stress Relief Tips for Holiday Headaches. It’s hard to believe that the holidays are just around the corner but the Christmas ads on TV are a sure sign that we’re heading in to holiday season – for some a time of sharing family time and, for others, a series of headaches and heartaches.

At this time of year, more than any other, taking care of your emotional needs is essential to enjoying a truly happy holiday. This isn’t always easy to do but here are six key points to keep in mind in the weeks ahead.

Do you have any of these signs of STRESS??

Here are the six easy steps to help deal with daily stress in our lives and especially at the holidays.

1. Give up on perfection.

The holidays are supposed to be perfect – perfect gift, perfect dinner, and perfect family interaction like a Norman Rockwell painting. Real life isn’t like that so the turkey may be a bit overdone or the New Year’s Eve punch tastes like brake fluid.

Forget the perfection model. Accept setbacks, missteps and miscues with a sense of humor. No holiday is perfect. No family is perfect. No family member is perfect so give up the idea of seeking perfection, go with the flow, forget the stress and have fun. Enjoy life each day.

2. Pace yourself.

Life goes on even though Christmas is in the air. There’s still the morning commute, the weekly chores and lots of social events. Don’t try to do it all. Send regrets to some invitations, just to take a night off and curl up with a good book or your family. Spread out your holiday obligations to carve out recovery time in between.

3. Don’t be afraid to say ‘no.’

No to the child’s demand for a certain toy, no to the in-laws, no to the co-workers, friends and neighbors. Put yourself in control of your activities. However, tread lightly and do your best not to hurt any feelings. Friends will understand the need to take a break during the holiday rush. The in-laws? Maybe not.

4. Do you want to simplify holiday chores?

If you’re used to spending hours slogging your way through the holiday crowds at the mall, change your buying habits. Shop online. Or go through the blizzard of catalogs that arrives each Christmas and shop by phone. It’s faster and a whole lot less stressful.

5. Don’t overdo it.

Too much wine, too many martinis, free flowing eggnog and way too many celebratory toasts with Champaign on New Year’s Eve. Too many sweet treats and huge amounts of baked goods  are very tempting this time of year. Enjoy them, just in moderation. Over-imbibing through the holiday season is only going to tire you out and make you feel worse.

6. Can you give yourself 20 minutes of “me” time every day?

We need to close out the world for stress to actually leave our bodies. Muscles will remain tensed (very fatiguing), joints will ache (annoying) and your immune system will be weakened by the constant bombardment of holiday stress triggers.

Take 20 minutes each day – that’s all you need. Close the door. Turn off the phone. Get into a comfortable position and just close your eyes. Breathe deeply several times and let the world go by.

This is especially important during the upcoming holiday season. So get ready. Santa Claus is coming to town, but you can keep stress at bay this holiday season by thinking of your well-being and emotional happiness, too.

Think of it as the best holiday gift you could give yourself. I wish you all the best during this Christmas and Kwanza season. And a most happy Chanukah to those who celebrate all of these wonderful holidays.

Today’s blog post comes to us courtesy of Ken Oswald

Safety and Security Manager for Plateau