Snow Plugs Exhaust and Kills Mother and Son

Felix Bonilla had no idea, when he left his home that day that it would end so tragically. When he got stuck in the massive snow storm that hit New Jersey among other states this past weekend, Felix left his family inside the car to keep warm while he tried to clear the snow in order to get moving again.

No one seemed to notice that the snow was blocking the tail pipe pushing causing deadly Carbon Monoxide to back up into the car. When Felix when to check on his family he found his wife and two children unresponsive.

Neighbors tried to perform CPR as paramedics rushed to the scene. Mrs. Bonilla and their 1-year old son was later pronounced dead. Their 3-year old daughter is currently in critical condition, fighting for her life.

With severe winter storms this winter, it’s important for people to realize that the tail pipe of the vehicle needs to be properly cleared if the vehicle is running. Even if no one is in the vehicle, carbon monoxide can still accumulate and cause the driver problems when he or she gets back into the vehicle. Always check to make sure the exhaust is clear before starting up the car when there is snow around it.


OSHA Snow Removal Guide

OSHA, realizing that snow on rooftops and other elevated surfaces create a whole set of hazards that need to be addressed, has put together a 7 page document entitled “Falls and Other Hazards to Workers Removing Snowfrom Rooftops and Other Elevated Surfaces.


The document covers fall protection for worker on roofs as well as a number of other options that don’t require workers to have to climb on the roof at all.

You can download the document on the OSHA website here.


Ice, Snow and Sleet Safety


With winter on the way, here are a few reminders concerning safely walking in ice, snow and sleet…

Walking on Ice… and other slippery surfaces

  • No matter how well the ice & snow are removed from campus streets & sidewalks, people will encounter slippery surfaces when walking outdoors in the winter.
  • Many cold weather injuries are the result of falls on ice-covered streets and sidewalks.
  • Getting around in icy conditions calls for planning, caution, and a little common sense.

What to Wear

  • Dress warmly and wear boots with non-skid soles. (Avoid plastic and leather soles.)
  • Wear a bright scarf or hat or reflective gear so drivers can see you.
  • Keep warm, but make sure you can hear what’s going on around you.
  • Whatever you wear, make sure it doesn’t block your vision or make it hard for you to hear traffic.
  • During the day, wear sunglasses to help you see better and avoid hazards.

How to Walk

  • Plan ahead and give yourself enough time.
  • When walking on steps, always use the handrailings and plant your feet firmly on each step.
  • When walking on an icy or snow-covered walkway, take short steps and walk at a slower pace so you can react quickly to a change in traction.
  • Bending your knees a little and taking slower and shorter steps increases traction and can greatly reduce your chances of falling.
  • It also helps to stop occasionally to break momentum.
  • Approach cleared streets & sidewalks with caution. Look out for “black ice.”
  • Dew or water vapor can freeze on cold surfaces, forming an extra-thin, nearly invisible layer of ice that can look like a wet spot on the pavement.
  • It can happen early in the morning or in areas shaded from the sun.
  • A heavy backpack or other load can challenge your sense of balance.
  • Try not to carry too much—you need to leave your hands and arms free to better balance yourself.
  • Be prepared to fall and try to avoid using your arms to break your fall.
  • If you fall backward, make a conscious effort to tuck your chin so your head won’t hit the ground with full force.
  • When entering a building, remove as much snow and water from your boots as you can.
  • Notice that floors and stairs may be wet & slippery—walk carefully.
  • Use special care when entering and exiting vehicles. Use the vehicle for support.

Where to Walk

  • Walk on sidewalks if possible.
  • If sidewalks are covered with snow & ice, one option is to walk along their grassy edges for traction.
  • If you must walk in the street, walk against the flow of traffic, as close to the curb as you can.
  • Taking shortcuts through areas where snow & ice removal is not feasible can be hazardous.

Avoid Areas with Falling Ice

  • As if there wasn’t enough danger of falling on ice, you must be aware of ice that might fall on YOU!
  • Watch out for: Icicles hanging from eaves, sheets of ice on sloping roofs, and tree branches covered with ice.
  • They can fall quickly and silently.

Dealing with Traffic

  • Before stepping off the curb, make sure all cars and trucks have come to a complete stop.
  • Due to poor road conditions, motorists may not be able to stop or slow down for pedestrians.
  • Be on the lookout for vehicles sliding in your direction.
  • Vehicles should yield to snow removal equipment in streets and parking lots.


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

Winter Safety Tips (Part 4)

Today we round out our four part series on winter safety. Monday we looked at general winter safety tips, Tuesday we looked at skiing and snowboarding safety tips, Wednesday was new year’s day, then yesterday we looked at sledding and snowmobiling safety tips. Today we finish off with staying safe while having fun in the snow.

Unfortunately, today’s post is going to make me look like somewhat of a party-pooper because I’m going to have to tell you not to do a lot of things that most of us probably doing.

1. Do not construct snow forts with roofs or dig tunnels in the snow. The simple truth is that snow can start to melt and the snow above can collapse on the child. Snow forts that have only wall around them are okay.

2. Do not allow children to play on or around the piles of snow from snow plows. The hills of snow are tempting but that snow got there because it’s part of the plows’ route and the plow will probably be back. That pile obscures the drivers view and might result in a child being buried in snow and suffocating.

3. When playing with snowballs, children should never throw snowballs at each other. Snowballs can contain rocks or pieces of ice which can be extremely dangerous, especially if they hit a child in the eye.

4. Be aware of icicles and snow on the roofs. Many people are injured each year by icicles that break off, falling on those below. Snow can also slide off the roof and bury anyone under the eaves. Teach children to play well away from danger areas which may include power lines where icicles can also accumulate.

5. Be aware of ice that covers trees and branches, weighing them down. Ice covered branches are responsible for a lot of injuries each year. Do not allow children to go out and play when there is a danger of ice bringing down trees limbs or power lines.

Winter isn’t the favorite time of year for most adults but for children, especially when it snows, it can become a whole new world of fun and adventure. Making sure that children are properly supervised and taught to recognize dangerous conditions can help keep outdoor fun from turning into a trip to the ER.

Walking on Snow and Ice

Most slips and falls occur the following days after a winter storm. Below are tips for walking on the snow and ice. Take care and have a safe day.

Walking Safely on Snow and Ice

Walking to and from parking lots or between buildings at work during the winter requires special attention to avoid slipping and falling. Slips and falls are some of the most frequent types of injuries that the Safety Department sees especially during the winter months.

No matter how well the snow and ice is removed from parking lots or sidewalks, pedestrians will still encounter some slippery surfaces when walking outdoors in the winter. It is important for everyone to be constantly aware of these dangers and to learn to walk safely on ice and slippery surfaces.


§ Wear appropriate shoes.

§ Walk in designated walkways.

§ Watch where you are walking.

§ Walk slowly and don’t rush!

§ Plan ahead and give yourself enough time.

It is recommended to keep these important safety tips in mind:

Choosing Appropriate Clothing

  • During bad weather, avoid boots or shoes with smooth soles and heels, such as plastic and leather soles. Instead, wear shoes or boots that provide traction on snow and ice; boots made of non-slip rubber or neoprene with grooved soles are best.
  • Wear a heavy, bulky coat that will cushion you if you should fall.
  • Wear a bright scarf or hat or reflective gear so drivers can see you.
  • Keep warm, but make sure you can hear what’s going on around you.
  • During the day, wear sunglasses to help you see better and avoid hazards.
  • Whatever you wear, make sure it doesn’t block your vision or make it hard for you to hear traffic.

Walking Over Ice

Walk like a penguin

  • In cold temperatures, approach with caution and assume that all wet, dark areas on pavements are slippery and icy. Dew or water vapor can freeze on cold surfaces, forming an extra-thin, nearly invisible layer of ice that can look like a wet spot on the pavement.
  • Walk in designated walkways as much as possible. Taking shortcuts over snow piles and other frozen areas can be hazardous. Look ahead when you walk; a snow- or ice-covered sidewalk or driveway, especially if on a hill, may require travel along its grassy edge for traction.
  • If you must walk in the street, walk against the flow of traffic, as close to the curb as you can.
  • Taking shortcuts through areas where snow and ice removal is not feasible can be hazardous. Try to avoid straying from the beaten path.

Point your feet out slightly like a penguin! Spreading your feet out slightly while walking on ice increases your center of gravity.

  • Bend slightly and walk flat-footed with your center of gravity directly over the feet as much as possible.
  • Extend your arms out to your sides to maintain balance. Beware if you are carrying a heavy backpack or other loadyour sense of balance will be off.
    • If you must carry a load, try not to carry too much; leave your hands and arms free to balance yourself.
  • Keep your hands out of your pockets. Hands in your pockets while walking decreases your center of gravity and balance. You can help break your fall with your hands free if you do start to slip.
  • Watch where you are stepping and GO S-L-O-W-L-Y !! This will help your reaction time to changes in traction.
  • When walking on steps, always use the hand railings and plant your feet firmly on each step.
  • Use special care when entering and exiting vehicles; use the vehicle for support.
  • Take short steps or shuffle for stability. It also helps to stop occasionally to break momentum.

Dealing with Traffic

Another hazard of walking on icy ground is dealing with poor road conditions. Keep these safety tips in mind if you’re going to be crossing the street:

  • Before stepping off the curb, make sure all cars and trucks have come to a complete stop. Motorists sometimes underestimate the time it takes to stop, often unintentionally sliding into the crosswalk.
  • Due to poor road conditions, motorists may not be able to stop or slow down for pedestrians. Avoid crossing in areas where driver visibility is lowthe cross traffic may not be able to stop in time.
  • Be on the lookout for vehicles sliding in your direction.
  • Vehicles should yield to snow removal equipment in streets and parking lots.

Indoor Safety

Walking over slippery floor can be just as dangerous as walking over ice! Keep these tips in mind if you are entering a building:

  • Remove as much snow and water from your boots as you can. Water from melting ice on the floor can lead to slippery conditions.
  • Notice that floors and stairs may be wet and slipperywalk carefully especially by outer doors.

If You Should Fall

  • Try to avoid landing on your knees, wrists, or spine. Try to fall on a fleshy part of your body, such as your side. Wearing thick clothing can help prevent injury to the bony parts of your body.
  • Try to relax your muscles if you fall. You’ll injure yourself less if you are relaxed.

If you fall backward, make a conscious effort to tuck your chin so your head won’t hit the ground with full force.

Safety First, Safety Always!

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

Skiing and Snowboarding Safety Tips

Fresh snow in the mountains, fun on the slopes and feeling the powder beneath your skis. This weekend begins National Ski safety week Jan 14-21, 2012. Hitting the slopes or headed to the mountains and enjoy the snow sounds great as the 2012 winter sports season gets into full swing. It is wonderful as long as we can enjoy it safely.


Fatalities – According to the National Ski Areas Association (NSAA): During the past 10 years, about 40.6 people have died skiing/snowboarding per year on average. During the 2010/2011 season, 35 fatalities occurred out of the 59.8 million skier/snowboarder days reported for the season. Twenty-two of the fatalities were skiers (12 male, 10 female) and 13 of the fatalities were snowboarders, (11 male, 2 female). Among the fatalities, 19 of those involved were reported as wearing a helmet at the time of the incident. The rate of fatality converts to .64 per million skier/snowboarder visits.

Serious Injuries – Serious injuries (paralysis, serious head, and other serious injuries) occur at the rate of about 43 per year, according to the NSAA. In the 2010/11 season, there were 39 serious injuries. Sixteen of these serious injuries were skiers (11 male, 5 female) and 23 were snowboarders, (16 male, 7 female). Among the serious injuries, 18 of those involved were reported as wearing a helmet at the time of the incident. The rate of serious injury in 2010/2011 was .65 per million skier/snowboarder visits.

Below skiing/snowboarding fatalities per million are presented based on “visits,” referred to as days of participation, and by participants. NOTE: The following is based on the most recently available data.

2010/2011 number of fatalities* 35
2010 number of ski/snowboard participants (in millions)** 10.0
Fatalities per million participants 3.8
Days of participation (in millions)* 59.8
Fatalities per days of participation rate (per million) .64

NOTE: A skier/snowboarder visit represents one person visiting a ski area for all or any part of a day or night and includes full-day, half-day, night, complimentary, adult, child, season and any other ticket types that gives one the use of an area’s facility.

Here are a few helpful tips to make your next trip to the slopes a safer skiing or snowboarding adventure:

Tips for Prior to Hitting the Slopes

  • Get in shape. Don’t try to ski yourself into shape. You’ll enjoy skiing more if you’re physically fit.
  • Obtain proper equipment. Be sure to have your ski or snowboard bindings adjusted correctly at a local ski shop. You can rent good ski or snowboarding equipment at resorts.

  • When buying skiwear, look for fabric that is water and wind-resistant. Look for wind flaps to shield zippers, snug cuffs at wrists and ankles, collars that can be snuggled up to the chin and drawstrings that can be adjusted for comfort and keep wind out. Be sure to buy quality clothing and products.
  • Dress in layers. Layering allows you to accommodate your body’s constantly changing temperature. For example, dress in polypropylene underwear (top and bottoms), which feels good next to the skin, dries quickly, absorbs sweat and keeps you warm. Wear a turtleneck, sweater and jacket.
  • Be prepared. Mother Nature has a mind of her own. Bring a headband or hat with you to the slopes, 60 percent of heat-loss is through the head. Wear gloves or mittens (mittens are usually better for those susceptible to cold hands).
  • Wear sun protection. The sun reflects off the snow and is stronger than you think, even on cloudy days!
  • Always wear eye protection. Have sunglasses and goggles with you. Skiing and snowboarding are a lot more fun when you can see.

Tips for while on the Slopes

  • Take a lesson. Like anything, you’ll improve the most when you receive some guidance. The best way to become a good skier or snowboarder is to take a lesson from a qualified instructor.
  • The key to successful skiing/snowboarding is control. To have it, you must be aware of your technique, the terrain and the skiers/snowboarders around you. Be aware of the snow conditions and how they can change. As conditions turn firm, the skiing gets hard and fast. Begin a run slowly.
  • Skiing and snowboarding require a mental and physical presence.
  • If you find yourself on a slope that exceeds your ability level, always leave your skis/snowboard on and side step down the slope.
  • The all-important warm-up run prepares you mentally and physically for the day ahead.
  • Drink plenty of water. Be careful not to become dehydrated. Even at 8,000′ or above base elevation, the climate is extremely dry, so it is easy to dehydrate. Staying hydrated (which includes consuming less alcohol than at sea level) also helps you avoid altitude sickness
  • Curb alcohol consumption. Skiing and snowboarding do not mix well with alcohol or drugs.
  • Know your limits. Learn to ski and snowboard smoothly—and in control. Stop before you become fatigued and, most of all have fun.
  • If you’re tired, stop skiing. In this day and age of multi-passenger gondolas and high-speed chairlifts, you can get a lot more time on the slopes compared to the days of the past when guests were limited to fixed grip chairlifts.
  • Never Ski or snowboard alone.
  • Know the signs and obey the warnings

  • If you are involved in or witness a collision or accident you must remain at the scene and identify yourself to the Ski Patrol.
  • When using Ski lifts, learn how to get on and off safely.  Never push to get on.  Consider asking the attendant to reduce the speed of the lift if getting on and off with little children.  Always lower the bar on chair lifts.
  • Avoid scarves, loose clothing and tie up long hair that can get caught in ski lifts.
  • Follow the “Your Responsibility Code,” the seven safety rules of the slopes: (See the code at the end of the alert)

Respect your limits.

Do not ski trails that are above your skill level. Trails will be clearly marked (Green Circle, Blue Square, and Black Diamond)as to what level skier they are appropriate for. On a similar note, stay in control of your skis and focus on the trail you are skiing. Accidents happen more readily when we are distracted. This is what the symbols look like and mean:

 the easiest trails at a particular resort  
trails that are more difficult
 Trails that are the most difficult

If you are on rustic trails, the signs may look like this:

As you progress, you will find it very helpful to have five or six levels instead of just three. Telluride, Colorado, for instance, uses single and double markings to show six degrees of difficulty, like this:






more difficult


still more difficult


most difficult


extremely difficult

Lastly, you will start to see a new trail designation on maps and signs, an orange oval. This marking will be used for snowboarding half pipes and snowboard freestyle terrain parks. It looks like this:


freestyle terrain park

Tree Well and Deep Snow Safety

  • Skiing and snowboarding off the groomed runs and in deep powder is one of the most exciting and appealing parts of the sport. However, if you decide to leave the groomed trails you are voluntarily accepting the risk of a deep snow immersion accident. A deep snow or tree well immersion accident occurs when a skier or rider falls into an area of deep unconsolidated snow and becomes immobilized and suffocates. Deaths resulting from these kinds of accidents are referred to as a NARSID or Non-Avalanche Related Snow Immersion Death.
  • The good news is that NARSID risk, can be managed successfully. The website is intended to assist all skiers and riders in learning about the risks and prevention of deep snow immersion accidents.

Lids on Kids

  • With the increasing popularity of helmets during the past few years many parents are considering a helmet for their child. The National Ski Areas Association (NSAA), together with the help of many others in the ski industry, has developed this site to help educate parents about putting helmets on their children while they’re on the slopes.
  • NSAA, the trade association for ski areas across the country, recommends that parents, skiers and snowboarders make the right choice about wearing a helmet. It’s up to you to educate yourself about their benefits and limitations. Ultimately, the choice of whether to wear a helmet is one of personal or parental choice.
  • Visit

Finally, The Safety Tips You Should NEVER DO. . .

  • ski on a slope that exceeds your level of skill and experience
  • drop things from the chair-lift on to the skiers below
  • stop to pose for photographs in the middle of a ski run
  • carry your skis in a dangerous manner whereby you could injure others
  • try to adjust your boot straps while in a crowded cable car
  • disobey the safety notice for the drag and chair lifts
  • make fun of foreign skiers, hoping that they will not understand you
  • ski when feeling tired or after drinking too much alcohol
  • block or wait for friends at the exit of a drag or chair lift
  • push in front of others to join your friends on the chair lift
  • swing your ski poles in a dangerous manner while skiing
  • disobey warnings or signs on the mountain

Get to know the Skier Safety Act: Skiing Responsibility Code

Skiing and snowboarding can be enjoyed in many ways. At ski areas you may see people using alpine, snowboard, telemark, cross country and other specialized ski equipment, such as that used by disabled or other skiers. Regardless of how you decide to enjoy the slopes, always show courtesy to others and be aware that there are elements of risk in skiing that common sense and personal awareness can help reduce. Observe the code listed below and share with other skiers the responsibility for a great skiing experience.

  1. Always stay in control.
  2. People ahead of you have the right of way.
  3. Stop in a safe place for you and others.
  4. Whenever starting downhill or merging, look uphill and yield.
  5. Use devices to help prevent runaway equipment.
  6. Observe signs and warnings, and keep off closed trails.
  7. Know how to use the lifts safely.

Be safety conscious and

Information provided by National Ski Assoc. of America, Snow link, National Safety Council, and Lidsonkids.Org

Today’s blog post is courtesy of Ken Oswald
Safety and Security Manager for Plateau

Shoveling Snow Safely

Last Thursday, our blog post was about how dangerous snow blowers are and how to make sure that you use them safely.

If you are tempted to get rid of your blower after reading the statistics on injuries and fatalities related to them, you might first want to look at the numbers involved with the alternative, shoveling by hand. Turns out their not any better.

Turns out that emergency rooms report almost 12,000 visits each year related to snow shoveling. Not surprising, back injuries are the most common reasons for hospital and doctor’s office visits. Sprains and bruises to other areas of the body were also common. Cuts and fractures related to being hit either with the shovel itself or by debris that was thrown while shoveling were also high on the list.

Heart attacks are, of course, the most serious of the injuries reported and account for almost 2,000 fatalities a year.

Here a few tips to make snow shoveling safe and to keep you and/or your loved ones away from the hospital this year.

  1. Know, first of all, whether or not you should be shoveling snow. If you have a history of heart problem or are over the age of 55 make sure you check with your doctor first, especially if you are not very active.
  2. Don’t wait till there’s a foot of snow to start shoveling. Stay on top of it by shoveling several times during big storms. Most injuries and fatalities were related to trying to overdo it by shoveling heavy loads.
  3. Push the snow rather than lifting it. This is obviously a lot easier to do when there isn’t a substantial depth of snow yet which takes us back  to bullet point # 1.
  4. If you have to lift and throw the snow, do so without twisting your body.
  5. Get acclimated to the outside temperature before you start shoveling. Going from being all warm to suddenly straining muscles that haven’t had a chance to get used to the cold is a recipe for disaster.
  6. Watch out for children and pets while you are shoveling. Snow and children go together so children are likely to be playing in or around the area you’ll be shoveling. Make sure you know where they are at all times to avoid hitting them with debris or snow.
  7. If children are going to help, make sure they understand that it isn’t a game. Snow shovels account for a large percentage of the injuries to small children, mainly because they didn’t know how to use them properly or because they were involved in horseplay.
  8. Dress properly and pay attention to how you are feeling. Take a break when you get to hot and add layers when you are too cold.
  9. Wear the appropriate footwear to avoid slipping on the wet snow or ice. Adding Yaktrax Pro, Yaktrax Walkers or studs like the Servus Studs will help keep you safe.

Finally, the best safety tip of all to avoid getting injured while shoveling snow… get your teenager to do it!

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

The Scoop on Snow Shoveling Safety




It happens every winter … snow falls, usually leaving piles of the white stuff to clear from your sidewalks and driveway. Consider the following before you grab your shovel after a major snowfall.

The good news is that 15 minutes of snow shoveling counts as moderate physical activity. We all should aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity of some kind on most days of the week. Brisk walking or social dancing is other ways to fit in moderate physical activity during cold winter months.

The bad news is that researchers have reported an increase in the number of fatal heart attacks among snow shovelers after heavy snowfalls. This rise may be due to the sudden demand that shoveling places on an individual’s heart. Snow shoveling may cause a quick increase in heart rate and blood pressure. One study determined that after only two minutes of shoveling, sedentary men’s’ heart rates rose to levels higher than those normally recommended during aerobic exercise.

Shoveling may be vigorous activity even for healthy college-aged students. A study performed by researchers at North Dakota State University determined that, based on heart rate, shoveling was a moderately intense activity for college-aged subjects most of the time but was vigorous activity during about one-third of their shoveling time of 14 minutes.

When shoveling, it’s important to avoid back strain. The average shovel (loaded with 16 pounds of snow) ends up moving 192 pounds of snow, if you load your shovel about 12 times a minute. That’s almost 2,000 pounds being lifted in just over 10 minutes!

Shoveling can be made more difficult by the weather. Cold air makes it harder to work and breathe, which adds some extra strain on the body. There also is the risk for hypothermia, a decrease in body temperature, if one is not dressed correctly for the weather conditions.

Who should think twice about shoveling snow?

Those most at risk for a heart attack include:

  • Anyone who has already had a heart attack.
  • Individuals with a history of diagnosed heart disease.
  • Those with extremely high blood pressure or high cholesterol levels.
  • Individuals leading a sedentary lifestyle.

Should you rush out and buy a snow blower?

Not necessarily. Not everyone who shovels snow is going to have a heart attack. Snow shoveling can be good exercise when performed correctly and with safety in mind.

Also consider back safety when shoveling snow. Even if you exercise regularly and are not at risk for heart disease, shoveling improperly could lead to a strained back. If you’ve been inactive for months and have certain risk factors, use some common sense before taking on the task of snow shoveling.

Fluffy Snow Removal

  • This snow removal technique allows children to participate and help their parents in the outdoor duties of the winter season. Provide a child’s size shovel and have them help you remove fluffy snow. PUSH rather than lift this fluffy snow to remove this type of snow. Exerts less strain on your body.

 Compact Snow Removal

  • Compact snow is a different type of snow. It is more dense in nature, and heavier than recent snow. This is when having a snow plow device comes in handy. Many people strain their backs and pull muscles when attempting to shovel compact snow. Borrowing a snow plow device from a neighbor or purchasing one from a hardware store helps you clear your driveway and walkways.

Black Ice Removal

  • One of the most dangerous forms of snow is black ice. This environmental hazard occurs when it rains, or when snow melts and freezes again. Because it freezes at such a fast rate, air bubbles that usually form underneath never develop. This is what makes it invisible and difficult to detect. To remove black ice, wear shoes that provide exceptional traction. Pour magnesium chloride or ice melt on places where black ice has formed; this helps you stabilize your balance while getting rid of the black ice. Take a shovel and crack the ice with one edge of the shovel. Pick up the broken ice with the shovel and place it inside a medium bucket. Have your children move these pieces of ice to the outer corners of your yard.

Black Ice Prevention

  • To prevent slip-and-fall accidents caused from black ice, it is imperative to take action. Pour some magnesium chloride or ice melt in a bucket. This works great at getting rid of any areas likely to form black ice. Fill another bucket with regular dirt and give it to your child, and provide a little shovel or scooper. Inspect the area for any black ice and apply the magnesium chloride before allowing your child to pour the dirt on the ground. Have them throw some of the dirt on part of the driveway, while you tackle walkways and the sidewalk.

A Pile of Snow Shoveling Tips

Be heart healthy and back friendly while shoveling this winter with these tips:

  • If you are inactive and have a history of heart trouble, talk to your doctor before you take on the task of shoveling snow.
  • Avoid caffeine or nicotine before beginning. These are stimulants, which may increase your heart rate and cause your blood vessels to constrict. This places extra stress on the heart.
  • Drink plenty of water. Dehydration is just as big an issue in cold winter months as it is in the summer.
  • Dress in several layers so you can remove a layer as needed.
  • Spray the snow shovel blade with a environmentally friendly lubricant, such as Pam cooking spray, to help snow slide off easier
  • Warm up your muscles before shoveling, by walking for a few minutes or marching in place. Stretch the muscles in your arms and legs, because warm muscles will work more efficiently and be less likely to be injured.
  • Pick the right shovel for you. A smaller blade will require you to lift less snow, putting less strain on your body.
  • Begin shoveling slowly to avoid placing a sudden demand on your heart. Pace yourself and take breaks as needed.
  • Avoid quick jerky motions;
    Switch the shovel periodically from one hand to the other.

  • Protect your back from injury by lifting correctly. Stand with your feet about hip width for balance and keep the shovel close to your body. Bend from the knees (not the back) and tighten your stomach muscles as you lift the snow. Avoid twisting movements. If you need to move the snow to one side reposition your feet to face the direction the snow will be going.
  • Most importantly — listen to your body. Stop if you feel pain!
  • Lastly, if you have a layer of ice underneath the snow pack, you may be better off to leave the snow on top which provides a less of a slip hazard.

Safety is as simple as ABC – Always Be Careful!


Information provided by the CDC and North Dakota State University


Today’s Blog post is courtesy of Ken Oswald

Safety and Security Manager for Plateau