In a previous article, we quoted the following from OSHA (Occupational Health and Safety Administration): American workers and employers want safe and healthful places in which to work.  They want everyone on the job to go home whole and healthy each day.   This applies to workers all over the world.  There should be zero tolerance for sexual harassment – at work, or elsewhere.   An explanation of the company’s policy against sexual harassment should be posted for every employee’s information.

Federal U.S. law prohibits sexual harassment in the workplace under Title VII of the1964 Civil Rights Act, as amended.  Title VII applies to private and most public employers, labor organizations, employment agencies, and joint employer-union apprenticeship programs with 15 or more employees.  The law makes certain employers are responsible for preventing and stopping sexual harassment that occurs on the job.  Retaliation is also against the law.  If someone takes revenge against a person who complains about sexual harassment, i.e.,  as being made to take an unpaid leave of absence, or given a less desirable job in the same or different department – this is an example of retaliation. 

There are many kinds of conduct of a sexual nature that workers should let the harasser know are unwelcome.  Some examples of behavior that is unacceptable are:

  1. Verbal or written: personal behavior, comments about clothing or a person’s body; sexual jokes, sexual innuendoes, spreading rumors about a person’s private life; threatening a person, repeatedly calling them on the phone.
  2. Physical: Assault, blocking movement; inappropriate touching of a person; putting their arms around a person (uninvited.)
  3. Visual: Drawings, pictures, screensavers or emails of a sexual nature.
  4. Nonverbal: Looking up and down a person’s body; derogatory gestures; following  (stalking) them. 

Although you may be embarrassed to report your concerns, companies cannot be legally responsible for taking care of the situation until they know about it.  It is important that you document and ask witnesses (if involved) to sign your documents.  Write down dates, places, times, and everything that has happened.  One incident may not constitute sexual harassment, unless it is rape or attempted rape.  Several incidents of unwelcome conduct may add up to harassment.   It is best if you report the harassment in writing.   Your employer must know in order to be responsible for a coworker, supervisor, client, or customer’s actions.  These reports should be kept in your personnel file, which you have a right to review at any time.  Also, keep copies of all paperwork at home or in another location, away from the workplace. 

It is a shame that there are “bullies” in most workplaces.  If you are approached in an unpleasant manner, tell the person “NO” and let them know you mean it; ask if this is the way they would behave in front of their spouse or family members; or how would they like to have their actions recorded on your cell phone, on a camera at work, or even reported in the news?  Hopefully, that would be enough to cause them to back off. 

There are acts of discrimination against persons because of their race, national origin, religion, age, disability, and sexual orientation.  Unwelcome conduct creates an abusive and hostile work environment, not only for the target of the abuse, but to employees as well.  We all have the right to expect to go to work each day and not have to worry about being made to feel uncomfortable or threatened.


Hopefully, you haven’t fired up the fireplace without first having it checked out.  Wood burning fireplaces are designed to furnish years of comfort and leisure.  However, there are several things to consider to be sure your fireplace works properly. 

Fireplaces require preventive maintenance, such as being inspected and cleaned annually.  Chimney sweeps inspect and clean the chimney as necessary by removing creosote and leaves, branches, or nests.   The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency states that about seven per cent of home fires are caused by creosote buildup.

Creosote is a flammable substance that is hard, dark, and crust-like. It is produced during incomplete combustion of wood.   An accumulation of creosote can cause a dangerous chimney fire, so it must be removed.  Burning dry hardwoods that contain lower moisture content will minimize creosote.  A hot fire produces less creosote than smoldering woods. Increase the air supply if necessary so that wood burns more completely.  Wood that has been dried and seasoned for about six months is best to burn.  It is darker and will have cracks in the end grain, and sounds hollow when smacked against another piece of wood, according to tips from the EPA. 

Common sense tips on use of a wood fireplace include:

  • Make sure area around fireplace is clear of potentially flammable materials, i.e., newspapers, books and furniture.  A good rule of thumb is to keep such items at least two feet away.
  •  Be sure the damper is open prior to starting a fire.
  • Do not use flammable fluids to start a fire.
  •  Install smoke and carbon monoxide detectors throughout your home.
  •  Use a fireplace grate.
  •  Always use a screen around fireplace to keep sparks from flying out.
  •  Clean out ashes from previous fires.  Do not leave smoking embers unattended.
  •  Damper should be left open until ashes are completely cooled down.
  •  Never put wrapping paper, plastic items, or other things in the fire that could create toxic chemicals in the smoke.
  •  Use proper fireplace tools when rearranging partially burning wood.
  •  Be sure the fire is completely out before going to bed or leaving the house. 

The U.S. Fire Administration and some fire department chiefs recommends  building a “romantic fire” rather than a “roaring blaze” to keep the fireplace from being overloaded and building up too much heat.   Their experts also advise parents to warn children about the dangers of fire.   Never leave children unattended when you have a fire burning in the fireplace.  When you go out to get wood for your fireplace, wear gloves .  (There  may be critters such as scorpions lurking in the wood!)

Chimney caps are fitted with wire mesh sides to cover the hole at the top of the chimney and are ideal for keeping birds, animals, rain and debris from entering the fireplace.  (It might also pose a problem for Santa!)  Always replace or repair a damaged or missing cap.

Stack firewood at least 30′ from the house.  Also be sure that your roof is free of pine needles, leaves, and any branches that might hang over the chimney.  Fireplaces are great sources of comfort and relaxation; however, they must be properly used and maintained in order to keep your family safe.


Don’t worry – this doesn’t mean you won’t get to see your favorite movies in 3-D anymore!  The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration has designated December as National Drunk and Drugged Driving Prevention Month.   Additionally, November 29th through January 3rd, 2011,  is known as “Holiday Season Impaired Driving Prevention” time.   This season, NHTSA, MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving), and the Governors Highway Safety Association, are reminding all drivers to keep the party off the road. 

Impaired driving is one of America’s most-often-committed and deadliest crimes!  In 2009, 753 people were killed in traffic crashes that involved at least one driver or motorcycle rider (operator) with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 or higher.  Another eight per cent of the population also admitted to riding in a vehicle with a driver who they thought had had too much to drink.  Although many people have gotten the message loud and clear, there are still millions that just don’t understand that alcohol or drugs and driving just don’t mix – they are a deadly combination! 

Unfortunately, a little holiday cheer can sometimes go a long way.  We all enjoy the holiday saying of “eat, drink, and be merry,” but when partying affects the driver, it can turn a happy time into a nightmare.  Impaired drivers don’t plan ahead and wind up causing unsafe roads for everyone.  Here are some simple tips to avoid a drunk driving disaster (from NHTSA): 

  • Before the festivities begin, plan a safe way home;
  • Designate a sober driver, before drinking;
  • Use a taxi, call a sober friend or family member or use public transportation if you are impaired, so you can get home safely;
  • Don’t hesitate to contact your local law enforcement if you happen to see a drunk driver on the road; (you could save someone’s life);
  • If you know someone who is about to drive while impaired, take their keys and help them make other arrangements to get to where they are going safely.  Remember, Friends Don’t Let Friends Drive Drunk! 

Drunk driving has serious consequences.  You not only risk killing or injuring yourself or someone else, but also the trauma and costs of a crash or an arrest for driving while impaired can be significant.  Violators often face jail time, loss of driver’s license, higher insurance rates, and other expenses including attorney fees, court costs, car towing and repairs, and lost wages due to time off from work.  Plan before you go out, and remember, whether you’ve had way too many or just one too many, it’s just not worth taking the chance.  Don’t let your 2010 end with an arrest, or worse! 

Source: NHTSA


I think everyone is amazed by the way this year, 2010, has flown by!  The holiday travel season will begin with Thanksgiving Eve, on November 24th.  Travel time from Thanksgiving Eve through New Year’s Eve is very busy and carries the warnings from State Patrols throughout the nation to drive with care, buckle up, and don’t text and drive or drink and drive, as this is a very deadly time of the year for traffic accidents.

We want to thank each one of you who take the time to read our Blog4Safety.com.  It is our hope that you have found some of our helpful ideas useful in keeping you and yours a little safer.  We try to touch on a variety of topics by focusing on work, home, play, and driving safety, as well as keeping our children safe.  Hundreds of people are already buying or thinking about buying Christmas gifts, to avoid the rush.  When you make purchases for children, be sure that you pick toys that are safe.  We will have plenty of time later to talk about Christmas, so let’s just talk about this week’s holiday. 

Too many times, it seems that Thanksgiving gets overlooked, when the real commercial success in the U.S. jumps from Halloween to Christmas.  But this particular day is a time to stop and be thankful for the things we share – for freedom to worship as we choose, for the gathering of families to enjoy each other’s presence, and the “presents” are just being together.  It is also a time to pause and be thankful for the memories of parents, grandparents, and other family members who made our holidays so special.  We are also grateful for friends, who are  another of life’s gifts that grow more valuable as the years go by.

Many of you have sent in very nice comments, which we really appreciate.  We were asked to write an article on head protection for an international safety magazine, Health & Safety International,  this year, which was truly an honor.  A few safety websites have exchanged ideas with us, and it’s been fun to compare notes and safety suggestions from different points of view. 

By the way, if you are one of those super shoppers that just can’t resist the bargains on “Black Friday,” be careful!  People will be rushing to get those good deals, so don’t get in their way!  A spokesperson for the National Retail Federation reports that although it is the busiest shopping day of the season, it usually is not the highest in sales.  The past couple of years, the Saturday before Christmas topped Black Friday purchases.  Many persons enjoy getting out and seeing what’s out there in the way of good prices.  If you are a brave soul, and that is your cup of tea, go for it!  (I think I will play it safe and stay home and shop online “Cyber Monday!”)    Whatever you choose to do, stay safe!

Once again, we wish you and yours a very Happy Thanksgiving Day!  Stay with us for more safety tips from Blog4Safety!




We recently talked about “human error” in the workplace.  Regardless of the reason behind an industrial accident, the failure of equipment, people, supplies, or surroundings to behave or react as expected is the cause of most of them.  Thousands of accidents occur throughout the United States every day.  By using information gained by an accident investigation, the why’s and how’s can be determined, and hopefully, prevent them from happening again. 

An industrial accident can cause extensive physical damage to a structure where the accident happened and injuries or death to workers involved in the accident.  This is the point where the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), steps in and conducts an investigation.  An OSHA inspection procedure is conducted, utilizing specialized investigation techniques.   The following information from OSHA explains the reasons for investigating an accident;  if any of the following four events take place:

  1. If there is an employee fatality during the accident;
  2. If there is a critical injury or sickness;
  3. If there is exposure to a serious toxic chemical or disease occurs;
  4. If there are more than three employees that undergo hospitalization from the accident. 

OSHA representatives will come to the site of the accident once receiving word of the event.  They will then do an initial report.  Accident investigations are more complex than other inspections, requiring a greater degree of technical and investigative skill than other types of programmed or non-programmed inspections.  They often require coordination between Federal, state, and local investigative entities.  Compliance personnel and employers are required to interact with the investigating authorities. 

The main goal of the inspection is to identify the causes of an industrial accident, which could lead to citations.  The inspection will not only reveal the causes, but the probability of hazards in surrounding areas, while creating an injury log and calculating the amount of time required for complete cleanup.  OSHA is also required to coordinate with the Bureau of Investigations if there is a fatality at the scene of the accident.  OSHA will contact family members of the employees involved in the accident to provide them with important information related to the accident. 

Another important technique that OSHA uses is interviewing witnesses that were present during the accident.  The representatives of OSHA do not conduct interviews until after they are familiar with the industry in which the accident occurred.  Then they will interview people who saw the event, those who have first-hand knowledge of the accident, and other witnesses who have information about the circumstances that led up to and preceded the accident.  The purpose of these interviews is not fault-finding, but rather fact-finding.  There will also be documentary evidence, photographs and videos, as well as diagrams, sketches and maps that better describe the work-site accident.   Depending on the results of the investigation, OSHA will cite the corporation or individuals involved in the accident, recommend criminal proceedings (if deemed appropriate), and create a detailed investigative report.

American workers and employers want safe and healthful places in which to work.  They want everyone on the job to go home whole and healthy each day.  Determined to make that dream possible, OSHA is committed to assuring, so far as possible, that every working man and woman in the nation has safe and healthful working conditions.  OSHA believes that providing workers with a safe workplace is central to their ability to enjoy health, security, and the opportunity to achieve the American dream.


Source: OSHA, Cal/OSHA


First of all, we are all humans, and humans aren’t perfect.  We often hear that the cause of an accident was “human error.”  After investigation, that may be found to be true.  But there is a correlation between the workplace environment and the human that is employed there.  We know that businesses must comply with government regulations and standards of safety and health for their employees. 

It would seem that the starting point of avoiding human error is to establish strong policies and procedures.  Beginning with human resources personnel, who pass on valuable information to new employees, and following through with training, management, good communication, and the design of a workplace that leads to safety – are all  factors that will ensure that  people work successfully.  

I can truthfully admit that as a new employee, with early-on training, I still didn’t understand fully about my new job.  It takes time and practice to really catch on.  Maybe some are faster learners that I was, but I know that when there’s too much information to absorb, it’s easy to make errors.  I did clerical work, and there’s certainly room for error there.  Think about someone who does data entry all day long, and may miss just one digit on the keyboard, causing costly errors.  (Remember the computer glitch that caused the Stock Exchange to seemingly tank not too long ago?)  Between 70% and 90% of workplace errors are attributed to “human error”, but it may be due to a mismatch between the plan of the systems with which they may be required to work and the way they think and work. 

If a company assures their employees that they want an employee to report a mistake they made, in order to ensure safety, without reprimanded, those workers will be more likely to do so.  Many times workers are under peer pressure, or demands of their supervisors to complete a job hurriedly; or they may be placed in a work environment that is not conducive to safety.  The blame does not fall on the employee under these conditions.  For example, if their job requires charting or reading meters, and the lighting isn’t adequate, whose fault is it when the readings  are incorrect?  

Companies must have a strong safety committee that enforces compliance with safety rules.  If employees know that  part of their job evaluation is based on their compliance with safety rules and wearing the Personal Protective Equipment they are required to wear, they may be more vigilant to avoid making mistakes.  Continued safety training and repeated training is important to the success of any employer.  Another key to good safety practice is to have some type of reward for employees who recognize and report a potential hazard.  If employers could rotate the repetitive and boring types of responsibilities among several persons, by giving them different tasks, a safer workplace could be established.  Posters always play a valuable role in reminding workers to stay alert. 

As stated earlier, there will always be “human errors.”  Some of those errors have proved to be very devastating to  individuals and families, such as airline crashes or medical errors.  These are usually the ones that are reported to the public.  But small mistakes or big ones will continue being made.  Every single person needs to be more aware of the consequences of their mistakes, and do the very best they can do.


According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 330 baby boomers turn 60 every day!  There are almost 78 million persons who are considered baby boomers – those born from 1946 to 1964.  Estimates are that all but the youngest ones will reach retirement age by the year 2018.  With the state of our economy, however, older workers are still going strong, well past retirement age. 

Manufacturing companies and other industries may have trouble filling the jobs held by many types of skilled workers due to the fact that younger workers are looking for white-collar (non-manufacturing) positions.  It is imperative that companies look ahead and support their current base as well as attract new workers.  Companies that can meld all ages into their work- force will be successful with productivity, competitiveness, and safety.  Knowledge that can be passed on from older workers to younger ones in ample time is very important. 

Although older workers normally don’t sustain injuries as often as less-experienced ones, recovery time may take longer.  According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, workers 65 and older may experience an absence time of 16 days, compared to 6 days for workers ages 25-34.  Of course, this depends on the extent of the injury.  An older worker may fracture a bone, rather than experience a sprain or strain, at an earlier age. 

Companies must be mindful that as bodies change, accommodations to their jobs can be made.  Cross-departmental risk assessments can be beneficial, as different groups working together can  furnish fresh pairs of eyes that are able to spot safety issues in new ways.   The training process of new workers is of the utmost importance.  Including the experienced workers into that training process will afford the new employee a “first-hand view” of the job involved.   If it is felt that the older worker has some physical problems, the company can offer him/her alternate tasks, especially those that require repetitive movements during a full shift.  Another option is to ask older workers if they are interested in part-time shifts or job-sharing. 

Annual health screenings are very important, both to companies and employees alike.  Those companies who strive for 100% participation in these screenings will benefit from them.  Especially if they are held during work time, employees will be more likely to participate.  On-site exercise equipment is also a great way to encourage workers (young and old) to stay in shape. 

We all know the importance of wearing the right Personal Protective Equipment.  Experienced workers could be asked to demonstrate to new employees the types of equipment that are required in their particular job, and stress the importance of wearing and maintaining their PPE.  They can explain that they wear it every day – whether it’s goggles, earplugs, OSHA safety glasses, gloves, or any other type of PPE, in order to protect themselves.  They, along with safety leaders, can give details of the hazards that exist.   Sometimes, hearing it from someone who has seen incidents or been involved in accidents, can make a greater impact on a new employee. 

As mentioned earlier, we see more and more of the “chronologically-gifted workforce,” and are thankful for it.  There are many folks well past the baby boomers that get up and go to work every day.  There are many reasons – some simply enjoy staying active and others work because they can use the extra money, or both!  Older workers bring knowledge and experience to businesses.  They are dedicated to their work, and have positive attitudes toward their work and coworkers.  They set a good example to keep the “youngsters” going!  We must keep them and all workers safe!


If you’ve noticed this brightly colored canned drink on store shelves, looks can be deceiving.  A 23.5-ounce can of Four Loko is available in several varieties, such as fruit punch and blue raspberry.  But the “punch” comes from caffeine, and an alcohol content of 12% – equal to four beers.  It sells for around $2.50, but has proved to be more costly to several college students, who were hospitalized after consuming this drink.  

This controversial energy drink may have played a part in an accident that killed an Arlington, Texas, teenager.  It was reported that she lost her life when she was thrown from a utility vehicle being driven by her 14-year-old boyfriend.  (She was not wearing her seat belt.) The boyfriend has been charged with intoxicated manslaughter.  Two of the boys in the car admitted drinking Four Loko that night.  Underage drivers and underage drinkers are a danger to themselves and to everyone else on the road.  

The manufacturer of this drink said it will remove the caffeine from its products; however, it is anticipated that the Food and Drug Administration is ready to ban it.  Four states have already banned the beverages, and other states are taking into consideration in doing the same.

The FDA notified over twenty-four manufacturers of caffeinated alcoholic beverages that the addition of caffeine to alcohol drinks had never been specifically approved, and is debating whether it should be outlawed due to being unsafe.  The FDA is concerned about the growing popularity among college students, and the resulting health and safety issues.  Several state attorneys general contend the drinks appeal to underage drinkers and encourage reckless behavior.  

It is anticipated that the FDA may have found as early as yesterday, (Wednesday), that caffeine is an unsafe food additive to alcoholic drinks.  If so, that would essentially ban Four Loko and other drinks like it. 

There are many ways that harmful products are marketed, and this clearly seems to be one of them.  The Four Loko cans are very attractively designed, but “12% Alcohol” is displayed on the label.  How are underage kids buying them?  The abuse of alcohol or any other drug is a problem for people of all ages.  Many young persons are curious about drinking, and are probably going to try it sooner or later; but a canned drink that contains the equivalent of four beers is too much – for a novice or anyone! 

Parents, stop, look, and listen!  Check out the latest products that may be harmful to your kids.  That pretty canned drink isn’t as pretty as you think. 

Source: AP, ABC News


By now, Americans are familiar with this important event that takes place every year on the third Thursday in November:  the Great American Smokeout!    This is the 35th year that the American Cancer Society has sponsored this campaign.  On November 18th, smokers and tobacco users are asked to put down those cigarettes, cigars, snuff, and chewing tobacco for that whole day, and hopefully, many days to follow. 

There’s no doubt that the use of tobacco causes some types of cancer.  Here are some disturbing facts from the American Cancer Society:

  • Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in the United States for both men and women. (Source: Cancer Facts & Figures 2010)
  • Lung cancer is the most preventable form of cancer death in our society. (Source: Cancer Facts and Figures 2010)
  • Lung cancer estimates for 2010 (Source: Cancer Facts & Figures 2010):
  • New cases of lung cancer:  222,520 Males: 116,750
    Females: 105,770

             Deaths from lung cancer: 157,300

             Males: 86,220
             Females: 71,080

  • Besides lung cancer, tobacco use also causes increased risk for cancers of the mouth, lips, nasal cavity (nose) and sinuses, larynx (voice box), pharynx (throat), esophagus (swallowing tube), stomach, pancreas, kidney, bladder, uterine cervix, and acute myeloid leukemia. (Source: Cancer Facts & Figures 2010)
  • In the United States, tobacco use is responsible for nearly 1 in 5 deaths; this equaled about 443,00 early deaths each year from 2000 to 2004. (Source: Cancer Facts & Figures 2010)

Not only the cost to ones’ health may be involved, but the financial expense as well, should be considered.  If you multiplied how much you spend each day on this habit, times how much is spent a year, think about what you could do with that much money in five or ten years?  Put the actual amount of money somewhere in a safe place.  You will reap the benefits later, as well as improving your health.

It has been reported that in 2012 the packaging on cigarettes will depict cancer patients and warnings of the dangers of smoking.  Some smokers interviewed said they’d probably keep on smoking despite the graphic warnings.  Let’s encourage everyone we care about who has this habit to get serious about their health.

We hope this information will help at least one person consider taking the necessary steps to make their life tobacco-free.  As with any habit, it will be hard to stop, but there are ways to make it easier.  There are many websites with all kinds of helpful advice.  Non-smokers should do all they can to encourage their friends and family members to make the commitment to stop. 

Please, don’t be a statistic!


For those of you who are seeking employment, our guest author, Marie Duprey asks the following questions:
1. Have you reached out to your 50 warmest buddies to update them on what you’re currently doing ? 

Otherwise, send an email to your 50 closest friends, family, old clients and ex-colleagues to update them. Don’t contact them simply to send a “with your resume” seeking job leads, simply update them in order that they know your position.

2. If I glanced your Linked-In profile, would I understand you are
searching for job opportunities? Would I know what you are looking to do?

3. Are you currently posting some type of update on Linked-In at least one
time a week? (i.e. so that you are subtly on people’s radar.)  

Otherwise, get into the habit of posting something of value once per week.  Post status updates which would be valuable in your network, answer a question inside the answers section to demonstrate your expertise or put  in a valuable comment in a discussion within one of the groups you’re part  of.

4. Are you ‘out and about’ at least one time a week meeting people one on
Otherwise, schedule time within the next week in order to meet with
ex-colleagues, clients and friends over coffee – lunch – drinks only to
get up to date.  You’ll stay on people’s radar for potential opportunities, often receive
some useful advice, laugh and usually feel much better about yourself than
you would sitting at home looking through project sites all day every day.

5. Do you get in touch with at least two of your fellow job seekers once a
week to share with you ideas and help one another?

6. Have you got a spreadsheet to trace each and every lead, contact or job
you’re pursued?
If not, setup a straightforward spreadsheet to aid to follow progress and
ensure you don’t neglect to follow up on a potential opportunity.

7. Do you religiously and systematically follow up almost every contact,
lead or loose conversation about an opportunity within a day? (two days at
the very latest.)
If not, how may you get more organized and disciplined in your follow-up?

8. Can you have permission to have a bad day or perhaps a bad week?

If not, go easy on yourself. It’s absolutely normal to become a little ‘up
and down’ emotionally when going through a career search or change

Who am i ?: Marie J. Duprey writes for the <a
http://www.humanresourcescareer.org/”>human resources career
planning</a> blog. Her mission should be to offer free info to help people
take control of the job search, build confidence and advance their careers
by connecting people looking for work with all the best minds in career
counseling, resume writing, personal branding and recruiting.

We thank Marie for this excellent advice for all the persons out there who are looking for work.  Check out her website listed above for more ideas.  Being organized in pursuing employment is very important.  Good luck to everyone who desperately needs a job!