Labor Day Safety Awareness


Labor Day is coming this weekend, the first Monday in September, is a creation of the labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. For many, the holiday is a time for family picnics, sporting events and a way to mark the end of summer.

The history:
The first Labor Day holiday was celebrated Tuesday, Sept. 5, 1882, in New York City, in accordance with the plans of the Central Labor Union.

In 1884, the first Monday in September was selected as the holiday, and the Central Labor Union urged similar organizations in other cities to follow the example of New York and celebrate a “workingmen’s holiday” on that date.

The first governmental recognition came through municipal ordinances passed during 1885 and 1886. The first state bill was introduced into the New York Legislature, but the first to become law was passed by Oregon on Feb. 21, 1887.

In 1894, Congress passed legislation making Labor Day a national holiday

Here are a few tips for a safe Labor Day weekend.

West Nile virus West Nile virus are at record levels this year and usually infections peak in September, so now is an important time to avoid mosquito bites. Consider refraining from outdoor activities when mosquitoes are most active – dusk to dawn – or, when outside, take care to use insect repellent containing DEET (N,N-diethyl-m-toluamide) and follow the directions on the package, and wear protective clothing, such as long sleeve shirts, pants, socks and shoes. Eliminate potential mosquito breeding sites by emptying standing water from places like buckets, cans, tires and flowerpots.

Food safety For those planning a picnic or cooking out, remember to keep hot food hot and cold food cold, and wash hands frequently with soap and warm water before handling food. Use alcohol-based preparations if soap and water not readily available. In addition:

  • Refrigerate or keep cool cooked foods that are not served promptly.
  • Cook meat and poultry thoroughly. For hamburgers, be sure to cook until the center of the meat reaches 155 degrees Fahrenheit or until the juices run clear.
  • Throw away food items, like potato salad, if it has been sitting out for more than two hours.
  • Separate raw meat and poultry from other foods.
  • Serve leftovers very cold (directly from the refrigerator) or very hot (heated to 165 degrees F or higher).

If you develop symptoms, such as vomiting or diarrhea, you could have a food-borne illness. Symptoms can appear anywhere from 30 minutes to two weeks after eating contaminated food. Most often, however, people get sick within four to 48 hours.

Grilling safety tips
Backyard barbecues are a common Labor Day activity.
If you have a gas grill:
– Check the tubes that lead into the burner for any blockage. Check grill hoses for cracking, brittleness, holes, and leaks. Make sure there are no sharp bends in the hose or tubing.
– Check for gas leaks, following the manufacturer’s instructions. If you detect a leak, immediately turn off the gas and don’t attempt to light the grill until the leak is fixed.
– Never use a grill indoors. Use the grill at least 10 feet away from your house or any building. Do not use the grill in a garage, breezeway, carport, porch, or under a surface that can catch fire.
If you have a charcoal grill:
– Never burn charcoal inside of homes, vehicles, tents, or campers. Charcoal should never be used indoors, even if ventilation is provided.
– Since charcoal produces carbon dioxide fumes until the charcoal is completely extinguished, do not store the grill indoors with freshly used coals.

Sun exposure Protect your skin from over-exposure to the sun by choosing five sun protection options – seeking shade, covering up, getting a hat, wearing sunglasses to protect your eyes and rubbing on sunscreen. Use liberal amounts of suntan lotion with a high sun-protection factor (SPF), even on cloudy days.

Bathing beaches – You will have more fun at the beach if you know how to avoid potential health hazards.

  • Avoid beaches littered with trash or other debris. Garbage attracts bugs and can wash into the water. Look for water that is reasonably clear and free of floating materials and odors. Avoid swimming at beaches where there are large populations of ducks or geese. The waste produced by these birds causes high bacteria levels in the water.
  • Look for movement in the water; it helps keep the water clean. Do not swim in stagnant or still water.
  • Look for a sandy – not muddy – beach that has a grassy or wooded area around it. Such areas reduce surface runoff into the swimming water.
  • Do not swim at any beach right after a heavy rain. Runoff following a heavy rain may result in a high bacteria count.
  • When diving at a beach, exercise extreme caution. Beach water is not as clear as water in a pool, so underwater obstructions may not be visible. If there is any doubt, do not dive.

Swimming pools – To reduce the risk of eye, ear, nose or throat infection from contaminated water; swim only in pools in which water quality is properly maintained. Although it is impossible to tell if water is free of bacteria, the water should appear crystal clear, be continuously circulated and be maintained at a level that allows free overflow into the gutter or skimmer. There should not be a strong odor of ammonia or chlorine.

Determine if a lifeguard is present, especially if children are with you. If no lifeguard is on duty, do not let children swim unless they are accompanied by a responsible adult who knows lifesaving techniques and first aid. No one should swim alone, no matter how experienced a swimmer that person may be.

Swimming – both bathing beaches and pools – Follow healthy swimming behaviors to protect you and your kids from recreational water illnesses. To stop germs from causing illness:

  • Don’t swim when you have diarrhea. This is especially important for kids in diapers. Germs can be spread in the water and make others sick.
  • Don’t swallow the water and, if possible, avoid getting water in your mouth.
  • Practice good hygiene. Take a shower before swimming and wash your hands after using the toilet or changing diapers. Germs on your body end up in the water.
  • Take kids on bathroom breaks or check diapers often.
  • Change diapers in a bathroom and not at poolside.
  • Wash your child thoroughly with soap and water before swimming.

Bicycle safety –

The best protection against injury is to know how to ride your bicycle safely. When riding on a street or road, follow all traffic safety laws and rules that apply to people driving vehicles. The following rules are particularly important for bicyclists:

  • Because they reduce the chances of a serious head injury in case of a crash, bicycle helmets are essential. Always strap on an approved safety helmet before you ride.
  • Wear bright-colored clothing during the day and white or reflective clothing at night to increase your visibility to drivers.
  • Bicycling after dark is very hazardous. Avoid riding at night if possible but, if you do ride in the dark, the law says your bike must be equipped with a front light that is visible for at least 500 feet and a rear red reflector that can be seen for up to 600 feet.
  • Always ride with the traffic flow, as close to the right edge of the road as possible.
  • Obey all traffic signals, pavement markings and directions given by police

Boating – Do not operate your boat carelessly or recklessly. This means operating your boat at a speed and in such manner that you do not endanger the life, safety or property of those in other watercraft. Follow these safety rules:

  • When approaching another boat “head on” (or nearly so), each boat must bear to the right and pass the other on its left side.
  • When boats approach each other at right angles, the boat approaching on the right side has the right- of-way.
  • A boat may overtake another on either side but must grant the right-of-way to the overtaken boat.
  • A motorboat must yield the right-of-way to a boat propelled solely by sails or oars (An exception is when a large motorized craft is navigating in a confined channel; it then has the right-of-way over a sailboat or rowboat).
  • Do not operate a motorboat in any area marked by signs or buoys as a restricted area.
  • In areas designated as “No Wake” areas, do not exceed 5 miles per hour. Do not exceed this speed when within 150 feet of a public launching ramp, even if the area is not posted.
  • When towing a person on water skis, aquaplane or similar device, at least two competent persons must be in the boat. (It is unlawful to water ski from one-half hour after sunset to one-half hour prior to sunrise.)
  • Do not operate any watercraft within 150 feet of a diving flag unless directly associated with the diving activity.
  • Personal watercraft and specialty prop craft cannot be operated between sunset and sunrise.
  • Do not operate a watercraft while under the influence of alcohol or any other drug that impairs your ability to safely operate the craft.

Traveling Safety: Pre-inspect your vehicle to make sure it’s in good working order. The highways are going to be crowded this holiday weekend so use good defensive driving skills.

  • Buckle up– every trip, every time- safety belts save lives and stiff fines.
  • Don’t drink and drive– impairment of any kind is dangerous. Designate a sober driver.
  • Don’t speed– note the posted limits and adjust for weather, road and traffic conditions.
  • Pay attention and stay alert– dedicate your full attention to the roadway.
  • Obey traffic rules and signs- they are there to help you.
  • Plan your trip– determine your route before you leave.
  • Get plenty of rest before your trip– change drivers if you feel tired.
  • Be patient and courteous.

Watch out for the other guy, pay attention to the roadway, and get plenty of rest. Plan to stop every couple of hours of travel to get out and stretch. You are too valuable of a team member to take the chance of injuring or killing yourself or someone else.

Sports: Go out there and have fun but remember your limitations, we’re not all MLB, NFL players and NBA stars. We see most of our recreational injuries from softball and basketball pickup games. Make sure you stretch and warm-up before the game, follow the rules and watch the playing field. Drink plenty of water before and during play.

Labor Day, is as American as Mom’s apple pie, hot dogs, baseball, smores or homemade ice cream on a warm summer night. Most of all, there is safety in Labor Day. Have a wonderful and safe weekend and remember Safety ABC’s, ALWAYS BE CAREFUL.

 Safety First, Safety Always!

Information from NSC, CDC, NHTSA, ASSE and American Red Cross


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



Getting off OSHA’s “Severe Violator” List

Whoever said “there’s no such thing as bad publicity!” couldn’t have known about OSHA’s Severe Violator list. There are a lot of lists you want to get on (Best Company to work for, Safest Company in the NW,…) but this is one list you definitely do not want to be put on and, if you do end up on it, you want to get off it ASAP.

To respond to inquiries about how to get removed for the list, OSHA published a memorandum for regional administrators about “Removal Criteria for the Severe Violator Enforcement Program” (SVEP).

To date some “288 inspections have beem designated as SVEP inspections“.

From the memorandum:

“After reviewing the policy, DEP determined that an employer may be removed from the SVEP after a period of three years from the date of final disposition of the SVEP inspection citation items. Final disposition may occur through failure to contest, settlement agreement, Review Commission final order, or court of appeals decision. Employers must have abated all SVEPrelated hazards affirmed as violations, paid all final penalties, abided by and completed all settlement provisions, and not received any additional serious citations related to the hazards identified in the SVEP inspection at the initial establishment or at any related establishments.”

Read the full memorandum here.

This is Labor Rights Week

This week, August 27 – 31 is Labor Rights Week across the USA. Hilda L. Solis the United States Secretary of Labor in a 2:19 minute video post on the U.S. Department of Labor website on Monday speaks about the need to “make workplaces fair and safe” for everyone, with a special emphasis on immigrants and foreign workers.

She speaks about partnering with the 153 foreign consultates in the US to make sure “workers are safe on the job and paid what they are owed by law. This means you may not be paid less than the federal minimal age, it means that overtime must be paid for each hour above 40 hours a week, and it means that employers must provide a safe workplace for everyone.

In speaking directly to workers she states: “You have a right to get paid every penny that you earn. You have a right to healthy and clean working conditions… If you think your job is unsafe or you feel you haven’t been paid the wages you’ve earned, you have a legal right to file a complaint.”

On a personal note while I applaud secretary of labor’s address, one can’t help but wonder how effective it will be when the only language it is presented in is English. I can’t imagine it would have been that hard to put a Spanish subtitle.

Diacetyl still a safety problem

Back as early as 2007, Orville Redenbacher announced that it would no longer be using diacetyl in it’s microwave popcorn. Diacetyl, in case you didn’t know it, is the “artificial” in “artificial butter flavor” and was responsible for several deaths and health issues for many more people who worked for companies that make and package microwave popcorn. Additionally, a small number of consumers who ate a lot of microwave popcorn also suffered adverse respiratory problems. Turns out this stuff is the chemical equivalent to asbestos.

All’s good though, because microwave popcorn manufacturers stopped using it, right? Not so fast! Turns out the substitute they’ve been using isn’t any better and is, actually just another form of diacetyl. Oops!

Now to compound the problem, a new study published in the “Chemical Research in Toxicology” has found links between diacetyl and Alzheimer’s disease. Turns out it creates protein clumps in the brain which is the way Alzheimer’s work apparently.

Diacetyl in it’s natural form is fine. It is a natural by-product of fermentation and is present in any alcoholic beverage. It’s also what gives butter it’s flavor. The problem comes in when it is added as a powder and ingested through the lungs. It essentially destroys the lungs over time.

To date, nothing has been done to ban it in food so it’s basically up to you and me to make the right choice and stop purchasing products that add it. If it isn’t profitable to make these products, the companies that make them will stop making them and replace the diacetyl with something else, something that hopefully isn’t going to kill us. One can only hope without getting our hopes up too high.

School Bus Safety

School Bus Safety

Avoid Harm, Obey The Stop Arm”

For twenty three million students nationwide, the school day begins and ends with a trip on a school bus. The greatest risk is not riding the bus, but approaching or leaving the bus. Before children go back to school or start school for the first time, it is essential that adults and children know traffic safety rules.


  • When backing out of a driveway or leaving a garage, watch out for children walking or bicycling to school.
  • When driving in neighborhoods with school zones, watch out for young people who may be thinking about getting to school, but may not be thinking of getting there safely.
  • Slow down. Watch for children walking in the street, especially if there are no sidewalks in neighborhood.
  • Slow down. Watch for children playing and congregating near bus stops.
  • Be alert. Children arriving late for the bus may dart into the street without looking for traffic.
  • Learn and obey the school bus laws. Learn the “flashing signal light system” that school bus drivers use to alert motorists of pending actions:
    • Yellow flashing lights indicate that the bus is preparing to stop to load or unload children. Motorists should slow down and prepare to stop their vehicles.
    • Red flashing lightsand extended stop arms indicate that the bus has stopped, and that children are getting on or off. Motorists must stop their cars and wait until the red lights stop flashing, the extended stop sign is withdrawn, and the bus begins moving before they can start driving again.

§ Vehicles traveling in the same direction as the bus are always required to stop. In New Mexico and Texas, vehicles moving in the opposite direction on a divided roadway are also required to stop.

  • Never pass on the right side of the bus, where children enter or exit. This is illegal and can have tragic results!


  • Get to the bus stop at least five minutes before the bus is scheduled to arrive.
  • When the bus approaches, stand at least three giant steps (6 feet) away from the curb, and line up away from the street.
  • Wait until the bus stops, the door opens, and the driver says that it’s okay before stepping onto the bus.
  • If you have to cross the street in front of the bus, walk on the sidewalk or along the side of the road to a point at least five giant steps (10 feet) ahead of the bus before you cross. Be sure that the bus driver can see you, and you can see the bus driver.
  • Use the handrails to avoid falls. When exiting the bus, be careful that clothing with drawstrings and book bags with straps don’t get caught in the handrails or doors.
  • Never walk behind the bus.
  • Walk at least three giant steps away from the side of the bus.
  • If you drop something near the bus, tell the bus driver. Never try to pick it up because the driver may not be able to see you.


  • When getting on the bus, stay away from the danger zone and wait for the driver’s signal. Board the bus one at a time.
  • When getting off the bus, look before stepping off the bus to be sure no cars are passing on the shoulder (side of the road). Move away from the bus.
  • Before crossing the street, take five “giant steps” out from the front of the bus, or until the driver’s face can be seen (A). Wait for the driver to signal that it’s safe to cross.
  • Look left-right-left when coming to the edge of the bus to make sure traffic is stopped. Keep watching traffic when crossing.


  • Supervise children to make sure they get to the stop on time, wait far away from the road, and avoid rough play.
  • Teach your child to ask the driver for help if he/she drops something near the bus. If a child bends down to pick up something, the driver cannot see him/her and the child may be hit by the bus. Have your child use a backpack or book bag to keep loose items together.
  • Make sure clothing and backpacks have no loose drawstrings or long straps, to get caught in the handrail or bus door.
  • Encourage safe school bus loading and unloading.
  • If you think a bus stop is in a dangerous place, talk with your school office or transportation director about changing the location.

Please help keep our kids safe this upcoming school year and obey the school bus safety laws, raise school bus safety awareness and watch out for kids.

Violation of these school bus safety laws can result in a citations and fines. School bus drivers can report passing vehicles and their license plate numbers.

For more information, contact the DOT Auto Safety Hotline at 1-888-DASH-2-DOT(1-888-327-4236) or

Information provided by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and NSC.

Today’s post comes to us courtesy of Ken Oswald

Ground Fault Circuit Interruptor can protect your loved ones

When I bought my house, almost 3 years ago now, one of the first things that I did was to upgrade all the outlets in the bathrooms and kitchen with ground fault circuit interrruptors (GFCI). Why? Because GFCIs are able to detect the difference between the hot and neutral wires that come when electrocution is present. Simply put, they turn off the current when your toddler decides to put a fork in the socket.

GFCIs are especially important in areas where water is present (like the bathrooms and kitchen areas, as mentioned) because of the increased problem of electrocution in water but if you have small children, it’s a good idea to have all the outlets replaced. It has been estimated that there would be almost a third less electrocutions in homes if this was done.

Once you’ve installed (or had them installed), you need to know how to test them regularly to make sure they are working correctly.

To properly test GFCI receptacles in your home:

  • First, push the Reset button located on the GFCI receptacle to assure normal GFCI operation.
  • Plug a nightlight (with an ON/OFF switch) or other product (such as a lamp) into the GFCI receptacle and turn the product ON.
  • Push the Test button located on the GFCI receptacle. The nightlight or other product should go OFF.
  • Push the Reset button, again. The light or other product should go ON again.

If the light or other product remains ON when the Test button is pushed, the GFCI is not working properly or has been incorrectly installed (miswired). If your GFCI is not working properly, call a qualified, certified electrician who can assess the situation, rewire the GFCI if necessary or replace the device.

Nailgun Safety Resource

Worksite Story

A 26-year-old Idaho construction worker died following a nail gun accident in April 2007. He was framing a house when he slipped and fell. His finger was on the contact trigger of the nail gun he was using. The nosepiece hit his head as he fell, driving a 3-inch nail into his skull. The nail injured his brain stem, causing his death. The safety controls on the nail gun were found to be intact. Death and serious injury can occur using nail gunseven when they are work-ing properly.

This story is taken from the OSHA “Nail Gun Safety” manual. Fact is that most of us figure that nail gun’s have built in safety features and don’t think any more about it. We figure we’re safe because these guns are designed to not fire unless a number of things are in effect. The truth is, however, that nail guns account for thousands of injuries each year (It’s hard to get a proper count because most of these are not reported. Unlike some other workplace injuries, nail guns are often used by Do-It-Yourselvers and contractors that work alone or with one or two others and therefore don’t get recorded properly).

The first step if nail guns are being used on your jobsite should be training (after all, there’s a reason it’s got the word “gun” in it. If gun safety is required than so should nail gun safety). Proper training has been shown to effectively reduce the number of injuries on job sites.

That’s where the OSHA Nail Gun Safety Manual comes in. It’s a 40-page document available as a free download and contains everything you need to make sure you and your employees are properly trained in the use of nail guns.

It’s time to step up or step down

September 15th, 2012 is when it officially goes into effect. We’re talking, of course, about the rescinding of STD 03-11-002 that allowed residential constructions to essentially “get away with” not following the 29CFR 1926.501(b) (13). Essentially what this means is that effective September 15th, 2012 OSHA can and will start citing and fining companies whose workers are more than six feet off the ground and aren’t protected from falls.

There are several options for residential fall protection including rails, nets and/or personal fall arrest systems. Many workers are going to have to adapt as so many of them have been roofing for years with no fall protection at all.

Fortunately, personal fall protection has changed quite a bit in the past few years and compliance, although somewhat inconvenient isn’t going to be hard or expensive.

Many fall protection manufacturers make residential fall protection simple with kits that contain everything necessary. These roofing kits contain the anchor point, the harness and the rope or lanyard necessary for the ABC of fall protection (If you are unfamiliar with the ABCs of fall protection, view and download our guide to fall protection).

Additionally, the past few years have brought personal fall arresters like the Scorpion from Miller, the Talon from Capital Safety or the Rebel from Protecta that are lightweight, easy to use and that keep the roofer from tripping over his lanyard.

Either way, there are no more excuses and OSHA is going to start spending more and more time looking around residential home construction sites to make sure 2013 sees a substantial decrease in fatalities and injuries stemming from falls.

If you need help getting compliant, give us a call (1-800-213-7092) and we’ll be glad to help.

Health and Safety for College Students

With labor day right around the corner, it’s back to school time for college students as well as for kids and the Center for Disease Control (CDC), has a lot to say about health and safety for college students.

The Health and Safety for College Students section of the CDC website, includes quick tips, information about sexually transmitted diseases, issues regarding drugs and alcohol, issues involving isolation and depression as well as some very important statistics and facts.

These Quick Tips on alcohol on college campuses for example:

Binge drinking prevalence (28.2%) and intensity (9.3 drinks) use is high among persons aged 18-24 years.

Binge drinking is defined as consuming four or more drinks for women and five or more drinks for men over a short period of time.

Binge drinking is a risk factor for sexual assault, especially among young women in college settings. Each year, about 1 in 20 college women are sexually assaulted. Binge drinking also increases the chances of car crashes, violence against others, unintended pregnancies, and the spread of HIV and sexually transmitted diseases.

Alcohol is the most commonly used and abused substance among youth in the United States, more than tobacco and illicit drugs.

In addition, the website provides numerous links on issues related to the health and safety of your college students:

College campuses are supposed to be safe and healthy environments and the staff at the colleges strive to make it so but your own child needs to be properly educated in order to insure that he or she makes the correct and safe choices. Before you send them off, sit down with them and make sure they have the knowledge they need.

New OSHA Publication Regarding Mercury Exposure and CFL bulbs

New OSHA Publications Regarding Mercury Exposure and CFL Bulbs

With symptoms that include tremors, kidney problems, and damage to unborn children, exposure to mercury can be very dangerous. With this is mind, OSHA has just released two new resources to help prevent and control mercury related injury and illness. We always recommend 10 hour and 30 hour training for all workers on a public job site. Please take the time to read OSHA”s official release below:

WASHINGTON The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has issued two new educational resources to help protect workers from mercury exposure while crushing and recycling fluorescent bulbs. Compact fluorescent bulbs are more efficient than incandescent bulbs, but the shift to energy-saving fluorescents, which contain mercury, calls for more attention to workers who handle, dispose of, and recycle used fluorescent bulbs.

The OSHA fact sheet* explains how workers may be exposed, what kinds of engineering controls and personal protective equipment they need, and how to use these controls and equipment properly. In addition, a new OSHA Quick Card* alerts employers and workers to the hazards of mercury and provides information on how to properly clean up accidentally broken fluorescent bulbs to minimize workers’ exposures to mercury.

Fluorescent bulbs can release mercury and may expose workers when they are broken accidentally or crushed as part of the routine disposal or recycling process. Depending on the duration and level of exposure, mercury can cause nervous system disorders such as tremors, kidney problems, and damage to unborn children.

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA’s role is to ensure these conditions for America’s working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit

Information from OSHA

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