Hopefully, you’ve heard the latest news about “hands only” cardiopulmonary resuscitation recommended by medical experts.  Having passed a CPR class, this news comes as a relief to me, because I have always wondered if I could really perform the “mouth-to-mouth,” or rescue breathing that might be necessary in the event that I needed to help someone.  Note: this recommendation applies to lay people only.  Emergency Medical Personnel still must do both rescue breathing and chest compressions on all patients, including children. 

Two studies were conducted from 2004 to 2009, involving 3,000 men and women who needed CPR during that period.  One was done in the United States and the other study was in Europe.  Certain patients received the hands only type of CPR, and the others received rescue breathing, along with chest compressions.  Patients in the study were all adults, and statistics showed that patients had almost identical survival rates.  Dr. Myron Weisfeldt, Physician In Chief at Johns Hopkins Hospital states these findings illustrate that in CPR, “less is better.”  However, Dr. Weisfeldt did state that certain patients, such as those with sudden acute heart failure, severe chronic lung disease, or acute asthma should receive rescue breathing in addition to chest compressions.  

It is hoped that this finding will encourage more bystanders to get involved in helping someone who may be experiencing a heart attack.  By performing CPR soon after a heart attack, the likelihood of survival increases twofold.  If you see a person in distress, call 9-1-1, or quickly ask someone standing by to do so.  Place hands one on top of the other on the center of the patient’s chest, and begin chest compressions, which need to be hard and fast.  Try to do 100 compressions per minute.  ABC News reported that one medical source suggested doing compressions to the beat of the song, “Stayin’ Alive” while you are performing the compressions.  (It might be difficult to think of that during an emergency, but as they were demonstrating it, there really was a good beat, as well as a good message!) 

I know that I feel better knowing that the “hands only” system may help someone in trouble; I just wasn’t sure that I could clear a person’s airway and perform mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.  So far, I haven’t had to try, but I am certainly willing to give it my best if an emergency arises.  It would be a good idea for everyone to take a CPR class.  You never know when you might save the life of someone you love very much or a complete stranger.


How is the “safety climate” or attitude regarding safety within the organization where you work?  “Safety climate and safety culture are two terms that are used interchangeably.  A safety culture is described as safety attitudes, values and practices that exist at a deeper level within an organization.  To build positive safety attitudes, the workplace must have a strong safety culture.  A safety climate is how workers perceive the safety management of the workplace.  How is your attitude about safety? 

Effective accident prevention efforts strengthen the workplace stance of both employees and supervisors.  The entire workforce should be involved and committed to creating the best possible safety environment.  Rather than building the policies and procedures from the “top down”, it should begin from the “bottom up”.  The ones that are doing the work are the ones most likely to be injured, so their ideas and suggestions should be listened to closely.  They are the ones who witness near-misses, patterns of co-workers’ behavior, attitudes, taking shortcuts, or making decisions based on guesses rather than following  standard operating procedures. 

A well-planned and implemented behavioral safety system leads to workforce stewardship of safety systems, fewer accidents, fewer near misses, less property damage, more reporting of defects, and added reporting of accidents.  Supervisors must work with their employees to understand why and how incidents happened, and work together to take corrective actions.  Sometimes the saying, “It’s just the way we do things here,” may not mean that it’s the safe way to do things. 

Motivational posters can contribute to better feelings toward our work.  Whether they are serious or funny, they can make one stop and think.  Don’t ignore them, as your employer has placed them there for a reason. 

Take a look at the attitude you display at your workplace.  Think about how your job performance affects your coworkers.  Everyone wants to go home at the end of his/her shift.  A bad attitude can cause a mishap that leads to regret.  Show a safe attitude by behaving that way.  Can you name the safest person at your workplace?  Is it you?


With the recent floods and tornadoes in the midwest, and hurricanes looming in the south, it’s wise to remember that storm and flood cleanup activities can be hazardous. Workers and volunteers involved with flood cleanup should be aware of the potential dangers involved, and take proper safety precautions. Work-related hazards that could be encountered include: electrical hazards,carbon monoxide, musculoskeletal hazards, heat stress, motor vehicles, hazardous materials, fire, confined spaces and falls. This information is to help employers and workers prepare in advance for anticipated response activities, and to prevent work-related injuries and illnesses in the field once rescue, recovery, and clean-up begin. 

Disaster response teams are equipped with certified equipment that meets the needs to protect them from biological hazards, hazardous materials, waterborne and bloodborne pathogens.  Volunteers may not have previous experience in using personal protective equipment; therefore, they should be trained properly in how to don this equipment, wear it,  maintain it and know when and how to replace it. 

Personal protective equipment that is absolutely necessary in these types of clean-ups are:

  • Safety Glasses;
  • Respirators;
  • Water resistant clothing;
  • Boots;
  • Gloves (latex or nitrile), and if necessary, to be used under other gloves when removing rubble or debris;
  • Goggles;
  • Faceshields;
  • Boots. 

While making a rescue, responders should have gloves on to protect from  bloodborne infections such as HIV, Hepatitis B, or Hepatitis C.  In case of a sudden emergency, first responders are prepared with all the equipment they need and will train and help other responders and volunteers.  Another suggestion is to have hi-visibility hardhats, gloves, and/or vests, in order for workers to be seen when working around heavy equipment that may be operating  at the same time.  In case of flooding, storms, and hurricanes, it takes everyone working together to handle rescue and clean-up operations. 

We’ll be hoping for clear skies for the folks that have experienced this bad weather, and rain for the ones who need it – just not too much at one time!


Source: NIOSH


We worry about drunk drivers, drowsy drivers, and other risk-takers on the highways, such as drugged drivers.  Driving under the influence of prescription drugs can be deadly.  Medications act on systems in the brain that impair driving ability.  Warnings against the operation of machinery (including motor vehicles) for a specific time after use are included with the medications.  How many pay attention to those warnings?  If prescription drugs are taken without medical supervision (i.e., when abused), impaired driving and other harmful outcomes can happen.

Drugs acting on the brain can alter perception, cognition, attention, balance, coordination, reaction time, and other faculties required for safe driving. The effects of specific drugs of abuse differ depending on their mechanisms of action, the amount consumed, and the history of the user. The principal concern regarding drugged driving is that driving under the influence of any drug that acts on the brain could impair one’s motor skills, reaction time, and judgment.

Behavioral effects of these medications vary widely, depending not only on the drug, but on the person taking it.  Anti-anxiety drugs can dull alertness and slow reaction time.  Others, like stimulants, can encourage risk-taking and alter the ability to judge distances.  Mixing prescriptions or taking them with alcohol can worsen impairment and sharply increase the risk of crashing.

One example of a tragedy caused by a drugged driver is of a young lady riding her bicycle who was hit and killed by a drugged driver.  Police thought the driver had been drinking, as her speech was slow and slurred.  Rather than drinking, she told police that she had taken several prescription medications, including a sedative and muscle relaxant.  Police also said she did not stop after hitting the girl, until later when she crashed into another vehicle down the road.  She was charged with vehicular manslaughter and driving under the influence of drugs.

Many states recognize drivers may be driving under the influence, but not from alcohol.  They consider any drug that causes one to fail a field sobriety test to be cause for getting a DUI arrest.  Unlike alcohol, there is no agreement on what level of drugs in the blood impairs driving.  Setting a limit for prescription medications is more difficult, because the chemistry of drugs’ effects are harder to predict that alcohol’s.  Some drugs may linger in the body for days.  Anyone who is taking prescription medications and knows how the particular medication affects them, should stay off the roads.

It is now time that we recognize and address the dangers that can occur with drugged driving, a dangerous activity that puts us all at risk.  Drugged driving is a public health concern because it puts not only the driver at risk, but also passengers and others who share the road.


The human brain is the most complex organ in the human body, producing every thought, action, memory, feeling, and experience.  As there are constantly connecting and changing nerve cells, memories are stored in the brain, habits are learned, and personalities shaped.  Our brain structure is shaped partly by genes but mainly by experience.  How it ages depends on both genes and lifestyle.  The brain needs to be properly exercised and fed the right diet, just as the rest of our body requires. 

During our lifetime, things happen that can have a lasting effect on our bodies.  Persons may suffer head injuries due to a car accident, a hard fall, blows to the head to athletes. Military personnel suffer TBI’s as a result of Improvised Explosive Devices (IED’s) and other horrors of war. 

About 1.7 million people suffer traumatic brain injuries in the United States annually.  The Center for Disease Control and Prevention says traumatic brain injuries kill about 52,000 Americans every year, and result in 275,000 hospitalizations.  A bump, blow, or jolt to the head may be severe enough to disrupt normal brain function.  The CDC also reports that falls are the Number 1 leading cause of traumatic brain injuries, but road traffic injuries are second, and result in the highest percentage of deaths – 31.8%. 

Mild Traumatic Brain Injury (MTBI) is commonly referred to as a concussion.  There may be a brief loss of consciousness or disorientation, ranging up to 30 minutes. Damage may not be visible on an MRI or CAT scan.  Symptoms of MTBI are headache, lightheadedness, dizziness, confusion, blurred vision, ringing in the ears, fatigue.  MTBI can have long-term effects.  

Severe Traumatic Brain Injury results in loss of consciousness for over 30 minutes, or amnesia.  The same symptoms of MTBI are included, along with others, such as vomiting or nausea, convulsions or seizures, slurred speech, and  loss of coordination. 

Our military personnel are furnished helmets for head protection.  Athletes also wear helmets to protect from head and neck injury.  These helmets should be of good quality. Motorcyclists should always wear their helmets, as well as bicyclists.

It makes sense that when personal protective equipment is furnished for employees, company supervisors should be sure that their employees are in compliance.  ANSI Hard hats should have a rigid external shell that resists and deflects blows to the head.  Inside that shell is a suspension system that acts as a shock absorber.  Hardhats are constructed with partial or full brims.  The full brim protects from spills, splashes and drips.  Many hardhats can accommodate faceshields, earmuffs, and other accessories needed to make the job easier and safer.  Knowing all this, statistics show that often workers who suffer impact injuries to the head are not wearing head protection at the time of injury.   

Wearing all types of Personal Protective Equipment is the responsibility of each employee.  It has been purchased for good reason, just as it is called: Personal and Protective.  Every one should use their head, and wear that helmet or hardhat!


Well, we’re here in the latter part of July, and still have lots of warm days ahead of us before there’s relief from the heat and those little critters that make summer oh, so much fun!  If you work outdoors or plan any kind of outside recreation, it’s important to be prepared before the mosquitoes land to do their vampire act on you.  

In addition to mosquitoes, bees and wasps are always unwelcome guests at your picnic table. Their beverage of choice is any sugary drink that is left unopened; be aware that they might just crawl right inside the soda can and be waiting for an unsuspecting person to pick it up and take a drink.  Bees are attracted to bright colors, too.  Wear light colors and don’t load up on perfume, as they are infatuated by the latest fragrances, too.  

Mosquitoes use standing water as a breeding ground, so be sure to check out any containers that collect water at least once a week.  Many bug repellents work longer if they contain high concentrations of their formulas.  

Don’t get ticked off this summer!  If you are in tall grass, and wildflower areas, you may attract ticks.  They just might latch onto your dog, too.   It’s best to spray your clothes with an insect repellent before you take that hike. Ticks have been known to carry Lyme Disease, so be sure to remove them from yourself or your dog, using disposable gloves.  Be sure to have a flea/tick collar on your animals this summer.  Chiggers are small little pests that can really make your skin itch, but repellents should take care of them, as well. 

Always keep a first aid kit  handy in case of bites and stings, and be sure you have some Benadryl in case of an allergic reaction.  There are many types of personal protection towelettes that help protect you.   Remember to use lots of sunscreen, wear a hat, and sunglasses that block out UV rays.    It helps if you know what poison ivy, sumac, and oak look like, so you can avoid them. 

Even though it may seem trivial, these tiny insects and poisonous plants can make you miserable.  Take the necessary precautions to avoid them.


I recently went to stay with our daughter, recovering from surgery, to help out with the meals and kids.  However, I think I did more harm than good.  Here’s the story, and yes, there is a safety message: 

Because I am always looking for good safety topics to write about, my daughter had told me to feel free to use her laptop while I was there.  As I was diligently searching the web, our three-year-old (almost four) asked her dad for her scissors.  Dad told me where they were, and I handed them to her, and continued reading.  (I’m supposed to be focused on safety, after all!)  He asked her what she planned to cut, and we later saw a flower stem cut into tiny pieces on the cabinet, so we assumed that was the answer. 

A little later, she went into the bathroom near where I was still working.  I noticed that she seemed to slam the door a little firmly, but after a short while, she emerged, with a very proud look, saying “Look, it won’t be hot on my neck anymore!”  (Sometime earlier during a conversation with my daughter, I had mentioned that I had gotten my hair cut, so it wouldn’t be so hot on my neck.)  You can imagine my horror, even though she was so proud of what she had done.  I immediately knew where she got the idea.  And I have failed to mention that her parents prefer long hair, and hers was long, and curly.

After taking her to a salon to have it styled, she was very pleased with her new “do”.  Her parents took it pretty well, and are still speaking to me.  Friends and family have assured us that this has happened to their kids, as well.  It happened on my watch, though…. me, the one that focuses on safety, and here she was, plotting what she was going to do with those scissors. (The scissors were not pointed).  But it’s a good idea to keep them from toddlers unless you are planning to watch whatever action is involved.   So here’s the warning to all parents and grandparents: be sure to pay attention to what those little angels are up to, because they can be sneaky! And maybe keep an eye on grandmothers, too!


At this moment, we are hopeful that the cap that was placed on the BP oil well that has been creating havoc on our Gulf of Mexico since April 20th will hold.  It is moment by moment, as the company is continuing to test the pressure and is hopeful that the flow of oil and gas will be contained.

In the meantime, efforts to clean up the shorelines and the Gulf continue.  The agencies that are responsible for oil clean up are the United States Coast Guard and Environmental Protection Agency.  It seems that every way possible to clean up this mess has been tried.  From booms placed in the water to contain the oil, to boats that skim or suck the oil from the water into containment tanks, the continual flow of oil has been extremely challenging.  The oil has been set on fire –“ in situ burning”, or controlled burning that is done by the Coast Guard under certain conditions, when the sea is in a low state.  Because it is mostly oil, it can cause toxic smoke, but it is a trade-off between leaving the oil to remain in the gulf water or air pollution from the burn, which is of shorter duration.  NIOSH has been monitoring the air quality aboard response vessels, and recommended that Dust Masks and Respirators be available to all burn crews.

Dispersants were sprayed on the water by planes, to break up the oil, but some scientists feel that these chemicals are absorbed into the water, resulting in danger to marine life and corral reefs.

Another method of clean-up in the water is being done by two skimmer rigs, the Discoverer Enterprise, a ship that can collect, process, and store oil.  The Q4000 can’t process or store crude oil, but can burn the oil and gas through an “Evergreen” burner, creating a clean burn by eliminating visible smoke emissions. 

In Northwest Florida,  efforts to clean up some of their beaches resulted in removing too much sand.  The weight of tractors and trailers destabilized the shoreline, making it vulnerable to natural erosion.  Also, the weight of heavy machines forced oil deeper into the sand, creating a safety hazard. 

So it seems, these folks on the southern coastline areas can’t win for losing.  This has been a terrible puzzle to try to piece together to get the mess contained.  It may be months or even years before things will be back to normal.  Those who make their living, such as fishermen, and the entire tourist industry have suffered greatly.  Hopes are that they will be reimbursed quickly in order to fulfill their regular day-to-day obligations.

Thankfully,  the workers are wearing protective gear, such as sunglasses, gloves, vests, and hats.  Some are required to wear Tyvek clothing that protects them from hazardous materials.  The exact health risks are yet not fully determined for those who must do this work. 

We hope that our friends that have been affected by this terrible accident can soon see the light at the end of the tunnel, and someday see their beautiful blue water and wildlife back to normal.


Chances are you haven’t, if you are among the 22 million U.S. workers who are exposed to hazardous noise on the job, with about 9 million suffering from noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL).  Did you know that NIHL is the most common, permanent, and preventable occupational injury in the U.S?  Occupational hearing loss costs an estimated $242.4 million per year in disability extended across the workforce of our nation, according to NIOSH.

It is up to the employer to make the workplace quieter.  Prolonged exposure to excessive noise levels can cause permanent hearing loss.  They must know the levels of the noise that workers are exposed to and the risk to their hearing.  Employees who are exposed to a rate of 90 decibels or more an eight hour shift should have the noise level in their workplace reduced, or wear protective gear.  Sometime you have probably had tinnitus (ringing in the ears) or your ears felt stuffed up, when you walked away from a noisy area.  If this continues, you may have some hearing loss.

There are noise control devices that employees may wear, but require proper training on their use, as well as how to care for them. 

  • Industrial Earmuffs.  They totally cover the ears and should fit tightly, with no hair or other object to interfere with the seal.  The seals and inside of the earmuffs should be kept clean, and the headband should furnish good tension.
  • Hearing Protection Earplugs.  There are many types of earplugs that also should fit properly.  Workers should never share them, and have clean hands before inserting them.  The ear canal is 1 1/4″ long, and most earplugs are only 1/2″ to 3/4″ long.  They are premolded or have stems with which to insert them.

Hearing protection lowers the noise level of equipment, but does not eliminate it.  Workers are still able to hear the equipment and voices of co-workers.  A good sign that you need hearing protection is if you have to raise your voice to talk to someone an arms’ length away, or if you experience ringing or dull sounds after leaving a noisy place.

Work isn’t the only place that we are exposed to too much noise.  You might consider buying earplugs to wear in large crowds, concerts, car races, or sporting events.  I’ve been to some very loud football games, and the World Cup Soccer event proved that noise even interferes with the players’ concentration.  If you enjoy using power tools, earplugs will help protect your hearing.

There’s just one pair of ears to a customer, so take care of yours.  If you heed our warning, you won’t miss out on the latest news or juicy gossip!


The science of fitting the job to the worker is called Ergonomics.  When the physical capacity of the worker is mismatched with the physical requirements of the job, musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) can happen.  Ergonomics is the practice of designing tasks and equipment to fit the capabilities of the worker in order to prevent injuries before they occur.

Workers can be injured doing repetitive work, such as lifting for a full shift.   MSD’s can affect the back, legs, necks, wrists, shoulders, muscles and joints.  Think about our soldiers, how they are trained to withstand the weight of all that they must carry every day.  Supervisors of our military and emergency personnel, such as firefighters, must identify the risks of musculoskeletal problems  that could possibly be caused from wearing heavy gear for long periods of time.  

All work environments should have an ergonomics and training program  in order to prevent injuries.  Whether it is a workstation, warehouse, construction, or office ergonomics, the climate of the workplace should reflect the best way that employees are protected  from acute or chronic injuries. 

One example of preventing injury is to provide mechanisms such as conveyors, vacuum lifters, or other means to assist  those who must lift heavy objects. 

Healthcare workers face the risk of back injury while lifting patients, a regular part of their job.  This is the time when training in lifting methods is very important.  Some very small people can help manipulate nonambulatory patients with ease, because they know how lift, while at the same time keeping the patient safe.   

We can also suffer from musculoskeletal disorders while doing routine jobs at home.  Gardening, yard work, cleaning house, or sitting at a desk in the home office, can create problems the same as  at work.  We need to plan how we will work on a special project, or use stepladders rather than chairs when reaching for things.  Also, practicing good posture at all times is very important.  Maintaining the proper body weight for our height and age, eating healthy,  stretching before the start of work, and getting enough exercise are also  important factors in preventing injuries.

Whether you drive a truck, sit at a desk, work in construction, healthcare, military, or any other occupation,you have the right to be properly trained in order to perform your duties without the risk of pain and injury.