Is it possible to focus too much on one part of our worker safety efforts and put less emphasis on other elements of keeping our workers safe? For example, with all of the focus on the recently released OSHA ETS for COVID-19 and the subsequent court filings and stays issued, we can lose focus on many other topics that also affect the day-to-day activities of our workers where they could be injured or killed.

First is winter driving. A s a basic refresher, we should do a few things. First get our vehicle ready for winter conditions that include regular tune-ups and maintenance of the battery, wipers, coolant, tires and other systems. Another important point is to clear our car of snow, ice or dirt from the windows, forward sensors, headlights, taillights and backup camera. Driving in the winter is different that other months as it is harder to control or stop our vehicle on a slick or snow-covered road so increase our following distance enough so that we will have plenty of time to stop for vehicles ahead of us. Remember that every vehicle handles differently when driving on wet, icy, or snowy roads. Take the time to learn how it handles under winter weather driving conditions. Even with the best preparations, crashes happen and vehicles break down. Make sure our vehicle is stocked to help get us out of trouble or to keep us safe until help arrives. Keep blankets, flashlights, jumper cables, and flares or emergency lights in our vehicle. More information is available at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Winter Driving Safety – Tips for Traveling Safely.

Heating with a portable kerosene heater is a leading cause of house fires in the winter months according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA).

Some tips to safely using your kerosene heater, include using the correct type of kerosene per the manufacturer’s instructions, which is generally, grade 1-K kerosene, ever use gasoline or camp stove fuel as they may explode. Never attempt to move a lighted kerosene heater instead extinguish the flame and allow the heater to cool before moving. Never refuel a kerosene heater inside or when the heater is still hot, wait for it to cool.  Keep kerosene heaters at least three feet away from all furniture, curtains, papers, clothes, bedding, and other combustible materials.

Keep children and pets away from kerosene heaters. Touching any part of an operating heater above the open flame could result in a serious burn. More information on kerosene heater safety is available here. Information about portable electric heaters is available from the NFPA.

There is a good chance that many of us will get the seasonal flu at some point this season so the best thing to do is what is needed to avoid, so much as is possible, getting the flu in the first place. One way to do this, after consulting with our healthcare professional, is to get the flu shot in the early fall which is the best time however as soon as possible will work also. Staying away from people that have the flu or if we have the flu, we stay away from people, so much as is possible so as to not have the potential for transmission when someone sneezes, coughs, or touches a surface like a table or desk or keyboard. Wash our hands with warm water and soap or use hand sanitizer every time we shake hands or touch a surface that might be germ-covered. If we do come down with the flu this season, we should look out for others. We can spread it for up to a week after we get sick. Don’t share germs with our friends, family, and co-workers. Stay home until we feel better and our fever has been gone (without the help of medicine) for at least 24 hours. Sneeze into your elbow, not your hand. That way we can’t pass it around. Toss used tissues after we blow our nose. More information on flu prevention is available here.

For more information and/or assistance, contact:
Wayne Vanderhoof CSP, CIT
Sr. Consultant/President
RJR Safety Inc.

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