One of the most delicious fruits that we enjoy during warm months is cantaloupe.  Now, that sweet, juicy fruit has been tainted with a deadly foodborne bacteria – listeria.  Jensen Farms in Colorado produced the fruit that so far has caused 72 illnesses, including 13 deaths, and three more deaths yet to be confirmed.  Recalled cantaloupes may be labeled “Colorado Grown,” “Distributed by Frontera Produce,” “” or Sweet Rocky Fords.”  Some of the recalled cantaloupes are not labeled with a sticker, according to the FDA.  More than 300,000 cases of cantaloupes have been shipped out, which comes to between 1.5 million to 4.5 million pieces of fruit. 

Listeria is more deadly than other pathogens such as E.coli and salmonella; however those two outbreaks generally cause many more illnesses.  Listeria bacteria grow in moist, muddy conditions and are often carried by animals.  The listeria found in cantaloupes taken from grocery stores in Colorado and from a victim’s home were grown at Jensen Farms.   Most healthy adults can consume listeria with no ill effects; however, those who are affected most often are the elderly, pregnant women and those with compromised immune systems.  Symptoms include fever and muscle aches, and often other gastrointestinal symptoms.  

Listeria bacteria can cause illness as long as two months after a person has consumed contaminated food, according to USFDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg.  Therefore, the government is expecting to see more cases reported through the month of October.  Listeria bacteria can grow at room temperatures and even refrigerator temperatures.  It lingers long after the source of the contamination is gone.  The CDC is only reporting  lab-confirmed illnesses and deaths.  So far, confirmed cases have been reported from eighteen states.  The most illnesses were reported in Colorado, but California, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Maryland, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Texas, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming have also reported illnesses and deaths.  Thankfully, none of the tainted fruit was shipped overseas. 

This  serves as a reminder that when we are preparing meals, we should be very careful to wash fruits and vegetables, and disinfect countertops when we finish cutting them up, especially when we have prepared meat for cooking.  We should also wash our hands thoroughly.  We have gone through several other types of food contamination – peanuts and peanut products, processed meats and unpasteurized milk and cheese.  This scare will pass and there will soon be another threat of illness from some unexpected source.  Hopefully, others that have not contacted the illness will have heard news reports and get rid of the fruit that is suspected of causing illness. 

There is no fool-proof way of protecting consumers from certain bacteria that invade food products.  We can only hope that this happens less often and that those who are ill as a result of listeria recover soon.


Every year, OSHA cites a handful of companies for violations of its foot protection standard, but about 200,000 workers experience toe or foot injuries annually, as reported by the National Safety Council.  OSHA’s personal protective equipment (PPE) standard dealing with footwear (29 CFR 1910.136) requires protection “where there is danger of foot injuries due to falling or rolling objects, or objects piercing the sole and where exposed to electrical hazards.”  Part of the problem is that employers and employees may not know how to select the proper foot protection. 

Employers should go beyond OSHA’s sketchy guidelines, according to Michael Ziskin, a consultant who specializes in PPE in industry and on hazardous waste sites.  Ziskin, Chairman of the American Industrial Hygiene Association’s Protective Clothing and Equipment Committee, states, “The more you know about the limitations of the products, the less you know about how they will perform in specific work situations.”  It’s up to employers to determine how the products will be used and how effective they will be for the tasks.  Foot-related risks can include everything from chemical hazards and heavy objects to slippery or uneven surfaces that can cause slips and falls. 

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 329,000 lost workdays from slips and falls in 1994.  This proved the need for shoes that provide good traction.  When working in the healthcare or chemical industries, boots and shoes made of rubber, PVC, or neoprene (depending on the chemical) are needed.  Needless to say, if you’ve been in a hospital, you see all types of workers – doctors, nurses, lab techs, etc. wearing those funny looking shoe covers.  They protect everyone – you, the patients, the surroundings, and objects that may be touched.  Medical personnel are also able to protect themselves against splatters, liquids, and chemicals that may be dangerous.   

In industrial settings, steel-toed boots are a must.  They protect the foot from impact and compression injuries; sixty per cent of all foot injuries are caused by falling objects.  If there are electrical hazards, a fiberglass toe should replace a typical steel toe.  Plastic shoe covers protect the shoes in dirty work environments. 

Having a successful foot protection program depends on the employer doing their homework on assessing all of the hazards involved in the workplace, and using engineering controls, work practices, and providing the proper safety footwear.  Workers should also be trained to mark spills until they can be cleaned up.  They should ensure that the footwear is comfortable; otherwise, it might not be worn.  Take the “right steps” to see that everyone walks away from the job safely at the end of the day!


To most of us, the thought of rabies is very frightening; however, we probably don’t anticipate that it could happen to anyone we know.  Rabies is a preventable viral disease of mammals most often transmitted through the bite of a rabid animal.  Most of the rabies cases that are reported to the Centers for Disease Control each year occur in wild animals like raccoons, foxes, skunks, and bats.   The central nervous system is infected by the rabies virus, ultimately causing disease in the brain, and death.  Early symptoms of rabies in people are similar to that of several other illnesses, including headache, fever, and general weakness or discomfort.  As the disease progresses, more specific symptoms appear and may include anxiety, insomnia, confusion, slight or partial paralysis, excitation, hallucinations, agitation, increase in saliva, difficulty in swallowing, hydrophobia (fear of water).  Death usually occurs within days of the onset of these symptoms.  

Wednesday, September 28th, marks the fifth annual World Rabies Day, an international event created to help raise rabies awareness and save lives.  Although major efforts to eradicate the virus have been made, rabies remains a major concern worldwide, killing more than 55,000 people every year, mainly in Africa and Asia.  (This is at the rate of one person every ten minutes).  In the U.S., one to two people die annually from the virus.  In 2010, more than 6,000 U.S. cases of rabies in animals were reported, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association. 

This is a very serious disease that mainly affects wild animals, as stated before.  Signs of rabid behavior are foaming at the mouth (mad form), and in livestock (down form), in which they appear very lethargic.  There are more and more wild animals, such as foxes and coyotes that are moving nearer to populated areas in order to obtain food and water.  Our domestic pets should be vaccinated against rabies in case they become exposed to wildlife.  We should be vigilant about not putting our pets in situations that would bring them in contact with other animals. 

Many things that you can do to protect your pets include:

  • Take your pet to your vet on a regular basis and keep rabies vaccinations up-to-date for all cats, ferrets, and dogs.
  • Maintain control of your pets by keeping cats and ferrets indoors and dogs under close supervision.
  • Spay or neuter your pets to help reduce the number of unwanted pets that may not be properly cared for, or vaccinated regularly.
  • Call animal control to remove all stray animals from your neighborhood, in case these animals are unvaccinated or sick. 

Wildlife are more likely than domestic animals in the U.S. to carry rabies; however, the amount of human contact with domestic animals greatly exceeds the amount of contact with wildlife.  If your pet is infected when bitten by rabid wild animals, the risk to humans is increased.  Rabies in humans is 100% preventable through prompt appropriate medical care, so call your doctor immediately.   Should your animal be bitten by any wild animal, call the vet immediately, so your pet can be revaccinated and monitored.   Animal control should find the sick animal and hold it for observation, if possible.  Cleanse the area of the bite on a person with soap and water as soon as possible.  Newer vaccines today cause fewer adverse reactions than in the past.  Persons should renew their tetanus shot every ten years. 

If you notice a nocturnal animal staggering around during the day, (such as a skunk), chances are the animal is sick.  Call animal control so they can trap it and determine if it is rabid.  Be a responsible pet owner, and keep your animals safe by getting their shots on a regular schedule.  You’ll not only be protecting them, but the persons they are around, as well.


As an animal lover, especially dogs, it is sad to hear when someone has been bitten or mauled by a dog.  The most effective ways to reduce dog bites are responsible breeding and ownership, public education, and enforcement of existing laws.  The American Humane Association supports local legislation to protect communities from dangerous animals, but does not advocate laws that target specific breeds of dogs.  We have owned both large and small dogs from time to time.  The largest dog we owned was a German Shepard, and he had a very gentle nature.  Pit bulls and Rotweillers are sometimes outlawed in communities. 

It is up to the owner to understand the nature of the breed of dog they choose.  Our last choice was Buddy, a Jack Russell Terrier, (almost 12 years old now), and if we had researched the very nature of this breed, we might have thought twice!  Since we didn’t, however, he has been a great companion and we wouldn’t trade him for anything.  But, I could write a book on all of his escapades in the past.  He is not to be trusted unless he is penned up or on a leash; if he sees a squirrel or cat, he’s gone, and very hard to catch.  He’s slowing down now, much to our relief! 

Here are some statistics from the American Humane Association, regarding dog bites:

  •          An estimated 4.7 million dog bites occur in the U.S. annually.
  •          Nearly 800,000 dog bites require medical care.
  •          Approximately 92% of fatal dog attacks involved male dogs, 94% of which were not neutered. Neutering reduces aggression,      especially in males.  Un-neutered dogs are more than 2.6 times more likely to bite than neutered dogs.  It is not that expensive to have your dog spayed or neutered.
  •          Approximately 25% of fatal dog attacks involved chained dogs.  Tethered dogs are 2.8 more times likely to bite.  Chaining dogs increases their stress, protectiveness and vulnerability, thereby increasing the potential for aggression.  Fences are better solutions, and certainly less cruel.
  •          Approximately 71% of bites occur to the extremities (arms, legs, hand, feet.)
  •          The insurance industry pays more than $1 billion in dog-bite claims each year.
  •          Approximately two-thirds of bites occurred on or near the victim’s property, and most victims knew the dog.
  •          At least 25 different breeds of dogs have been involved in the 238 dog-bite-related fatalities in the U.S. 

Many of the victims of dog bites are postal service workers, meter readers, salespersons, and delivery workers.  Fifty per cent of dog attacks involve children under 12 years old.  Bite rates are dramatically higher among children 5 to 9 years old.  Here are some important rules to follow, as well as teach our children:

  1. Supervise your dog.
  2. Train and socialize your dog.
  3. Restrain the dog.  Dogs that are allowed to roam loose outside the yard may think the whole neighborhood is their “territory” and defend it aggressively.  It’s a better way to keep your dog safe from getting run over by a car, as well.
  4. Don’t tease your dog.
  5. Never pet a dog without permission from its owner.
  6. Don’t back them into a corner or bother them when they are sleeping. 
  7. Know the warning signs: growling, backing up or curling its lip.
  8. Never treat a dog unkindly.
  9. Don’t approach a dog that is tied up.
  10. Stay calm, and be still. 

If you feel threatened by dogs in your neighborhood, call an animal control officer or local law enforcement; don’t wait until something bad happens.  Animals deserve to be treated with respect and kindness.  Dogs love us unconditionally, even though some don’t get the attention they deserve.  Pay attention to their behavior and keep things on an even keel, and you’ll have a great companion.


Source: American Medical Veterinary Association, American Humane Association


One of the most important things we can do for good health is to protect our lungs.  Smokers probably don’t want to think about it, but we should do everything possible to be able to breathe easily!  I looked up a few words that pertain to helping those with work exposure to respiratory hazards, and want to share what I learned.  Those who are involved probably already know all about the subject, but for those who don’t, bear with us. 

According to McGraw-Hill Science & Technology Dictionary, spirometry is the measurement, by a form of gas meter, (spirometer) of volumes of air that can be moved in or out of the lungs.  Spirometers are instruments used to test lung capacity; spirometry is the gold standard for diagnosing and monitoring the progression of C.O.P.D.  Spirometers can be stand-alone, diagnostic PC-based, or pocket-sized.  Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease is the 4th leading cause of death in the U.S., affecting more than five per cent of the adult U.S. population. 

Respiration, according to Briticannica Concise Encyclopedia, is the process of taking in air for oxygen and releasing it to dispose of carbon dioxide.  The amount of air inhaled and exhaled in an average human breath is about one-eighth the amount that can be inhaled after exhaling as much as possible.  Nerve centers in the brain regulate the movements of muscles of respiration (diaphragm and chest wall muscles).  Blood in the pulmonary circulation brings carbon dioxide from the tissues, to be exhaled and takes up oxygen from the air in the pulmonary alveoli to carry it to the heart and the rest of the body.  Because the body stores almost no oxygen, interruption of respiration – by asphyxiation, drowning, or chest muscle paralysis – for more than a minute can cause death. 

Spirometry Monitoring Technology

From the Centers for Disease Control, spirometry monitoring is recommended for persons with occupational exposure to respiratory hazards, and is best done as part of an overall health maintenance program in which results of spirometry evaluations are linked with exposure control, smoking cessation, and general health-promotion interventions. Spirometry monitoring should be done to prevent development of disabling chronic lung function impairment through early intervention on excessive lung function loss. Spirometry plays an important role in an occupational respiratory health surveillance program. It can assist the health professional by determining if a worker demonstrates a specific pattern of respiratory impairment and can help to assess the effectiveness of measures implemented to protect the individual worker. In addition, results from defined groups of workers can be evaluated in relation to potential workplace hazards.

Protecting the health of individual workers is a primary objective of various workplace surveillance programs. Results from an individual should be further assessed if abnormalities are detected or if pulmonary function values show an excessive decline in comparison to the individual’s previous tests. After ruling out technical causes for low or declining pulmonary function, efforts must be made to identify the cause. If the cause is related to a workplace exposure, then steps must be taken to better control or eliminate the exposure and prevent further damage to the worker’s lungs.

 NIOSH recommends the use of half-facepiece particulate respirators with N95 or better filters for airborne exposures to crystalline silica at concentrations less than or equal to 0.5 mg/m3. The Occu­pational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) also specifies the use of at least a 95-rated filter efficiency [29 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) 1910.134]. The recommendation for a 95-rated filter efficiency reflects the improved filter efficiency of N95 filters over the earlier dust and mist (DM) filters. A comprehensive respirator program must be instituted prior to the use of 42 CFR 84 respirators. The requirements for a comprehensive respirator program are included in the OSHA respiratory protection standard (29 CFR 1910.134).

Monday, September 26, 2011, National Mesothelioma Awareness Day 2011, carries special meaning, because mesothelioma is a relatively rare form of cancer that strikes as many as 3,000 Americans each year. A common cause of mesothelioma is asbestos exposure. Victims tend to be electricians, plumbers, contractors, or armed forces veterans – anyone who worked with or around asbestos. The condition develops decades after exposure, but the disease can prove fatal within a year of diagnosis. At present, there is no cure.  Sadly, family members also often fall prey to mesothelioma as a result of secondary exposure to asbestos fibers carried into the home by the primary victim.  That’s why it is very important for the worker to shower and change clothes before leaving the worksite. 

This article wasn’t meant to be “long-winded,” however, we want employers and employees to realize the importance of well-planned and executed programs for respiratory protection.  (After all, science lessons are very important!)


In the Northern Hemisphere, the first day of autumn, (or Autumnal Equinox) is Friday, September 23rd.  The word equinox comes from the Latin words for “equal night.” The fall and spring equinoxes are the only days of the year in which the hours of day and night are equal as the Sun crosses the celestial equator.  From here on out, the temperatures begin to drop and the days start to get shorter. The four seasons are determined by changing sunlight (not heat)—which is determined by how our planet orbits the Sun and the tilt of its axis.

As days begin to cool off, chances are you will be in the mood to get out there and do some of the tasks required to prepare your yard for winter.  Raking leaves is usually one of the big jobs waiting for you.  Be sure you own a good rake and a good pair of work gloves.  When picking up the leaves, bend at the knees, not the waist, or you’ll have a sore back.  As the weather becomes cooler, certain allergens blow in, just the same as in the spring.  A dust mask will help when you are working outdoors.  Watch for snakes lurking under the leaves! 

More than 400,000 victims of lawn and garden tool accidents are treated in U.S. emergency rooms annually, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.  Always wear safety glasses when doing yard work, as well as earplugs, if you are working with power tools.  Be sure you use the correct tool for each job.   If you have to use a ladder to prune trees or clean out gutters, be sure the ladder is in good condition, and set it on level space.  Move it more often as needed rather than stretch to reach something.  Many falls are attributed to faulty ladders, so it’s important to have a sturdy one.

Following the extremely hot and dry weather that many areas in the U.S. have struggled with this summer, it would probably be hard to find anyone that isn’t looking forward to the fall season.  Watching the leaves turn, taking walks on cool mornings, and enjoying the wind-up of baseball season – leading to the World Series, as well as backing your favorite college and professional football teams, should furnish pleasure to everyone. 

One other word of caution: deer are out and about more during the fall season, so please be sure to keep a watch out for them.  Many times, they get spooked and run across highways without fear of cars.  This can be a dangerous situation for drivers and passengers, as well as the animals.  So, please use caution when driving. 

Fall is such a great time of the year – make it a safe one, and enjoy!


Almost two million American workers report having been victims of workplace violence each year.  Do you feel safe in your workplace?  Workplace violence is any act or threat of physical violence, harassment, intimidation, or other threatening disruptive behavior that happens at the worksite.  Currently, homicide is the fourth-leading cause of fatal occupational injuries in the U.S.  We know from the past that violence can happen at any time.  Factors that may increase the risk of violence for some workers include exchanging money with the public and working with volatile people.  Those who work alone, especially in isolated areas are more vulnerable to robbery or assault.  Working where alcohol is served may also lead to fighting or aggressive behavior.  

Some occupations that may be susceptible to violence include:

  • Social care workers
  • Employees of late-night establishments: bars, restaurants, convenience stores
  • Taxi drivers
  • Law Enforcement personnel
  • Delivery drivers
  • Public Service employees
  • Healthcare Professionals 

Of course, we never know where workplace violence may happen.  These are just a few of the occupations that come to mind when thinking of the risks that are involved.  Healthcare professionals, especially those who must enter a home to care for someone, have the right to refuse to enter the home, if they feel it is unsafe.  Emergency room staffs are prepared to see almost all types of violent behavior, and should have adequate security.  Sadly, tragedies happen in the least expected places, as well, such as public schools, colleges, and military bases.  

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), more than 3,000 people died from workplace homicide between 2006 and 2010.  Their data also shows that more than 15,000 nonfatal workplace injury cases were reported annually during this time.  BLS statistics show that in 2009, there were 542 workplace homicides and 15,450 workplace assaults, resulting in lost days.  


If employers take the appropriate precautions, the risk of assault can be prevented or minimized.  The best protection employers can offer their workers is to establish a zero-tolerance policy toward workplace violence.  This should cover all workers, patients, clients, visitors, contractors, and anyone else who may come in contact with company personnel.  Employers should identify methods for reducing the likelihood of incidents  by assessing their worksites.  It can be a separate workplace violence prevention program or  incorporated into an injury and illness prevention program.  All workers should know the policy and understand that all claims of workplace violence will be investigated and remedied promptly.  Employers should develop additional methods as necessary to protect employees in high-risk industries. 

Employees should receive workplace violence safety education and know how to avoid or defuse a situation.  They should also be encouraged to report and document all incidents.  Many incidents go unreported.  In case of an incident, the police should be called immediately.  Those workers who work alone or all night should be provided a hand-held alarm or noise device that sounds an S.O.S.   Their supervisors should be kept informed if they have noticed any suspicious activity.  We need to be more vigilant in watching for abnormal activity in our surroundings.  If workers are aware there is a personal problem with a fellow worker, they should be extra cautious.  Any security that can be provided may help prevent a tragedy. 



Each September, National Alcohol and Drug Addiction Recovery Month is sponsored by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA) Center for Substance Abuse Treatment (CSAT).  The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, Inc., is a Planning Partner and has been a sponsor since it’s inception 22 years ago.  The observance is to educate Americans on the fact that addiction treatment and mental health services can enable those with a substance use or mental disorder to live a healthy and rewarding life.  The message of Recovery Month is that prevention works, treatment is effective, and people can and do recover.  

The vast majority of drug users are employed, and when they arrive for work, they don’t leave their problems at the door.  In 2005, there were 17.2 million illicit drug users aged 18 or older.  Seventy-five per cent of them were employed either full or part time.  Sadly, research has indicated that between 10 and 20 per cent of workers who died on the job tested positive for alcohol or other drugs.  Industries with the highest rates of drug use are the same as those at a high risk for occupational injuries, such as construction, mining, manufacturing and wholesale. 

Drug-free workplaces help improve worker safety and health and add value to American businesses.  Not only are those who abuse drugs and alcohol at risk for injury, either at work, home, or driving down the highway, they are endangering their fellow workers, families, or others on the roads.  A comprehensive drug-free workforce approach includes five components:

  1. An enforced policy.
  2. Supervisor training.
  3. Employee education.
  4. Employee assistance.
  5. Drug testing.  

One of the most significant challenges faced by NCADD and their affiliates is putting the problems of alcohol and drugs into a perspective that the general public can understand.  When alcohol is discussed along with other drugs, the general public, the media and policy makers tend to focus on the more dramatic issues of illegal drugs or just drinking and driving, as if it is the only alcohol-related problem.  

Recent results of the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, more than 92% of adults aged 21 to 64 in the U.S. with alcohol problems – those that meet diagnostic criteria for either alcohol abuse disorder or alcohol dependence – do not see a need for treatment.  Through this survey, the following question was asked of those persons with alcohol abuse or alcohol dependence: “During the past 12 months, did you need treatment or counseling for your use of alcohol?”  Survey results for Alcohol Abuse: NO: 98.8%; YES: 1.2%.  Survey results for Alcohol Dependence:  NO: 92.2%; YES: 7.8%. 

Chances are we all know someone who has had or has a problem with alcohol, and won’t admit or accept that there is a need for help.  You may have heard the following: 

  • “If you had a job like mine, you’d drink, too!”
  • “The cops in this town have always been out to get me.”
  • “I don’t need help.  I can stop anytime I want to.”
  • “My husband will never admit that he has a problem, or seek help.”
  • ”It’s not that bad, I don’t drink every day and I have a job.”
  • “If you’d just get off my back, things wouldn’t be so bad.” 

Alcoholism is a chronic and progressive disease, getting help NOW and not waiting is important.  If you had heart disease, diabetes, or other health problems, you would be looking for medical treatment to help you recover.  The sooner one seeks help, the better chances for recovery.  Many individuals and family members do not seek help for different reasons.  Those who abuse their bodies with drugs and alcohol victimize their families, and if they won’t ask for help or change their ways, there are avenues of support for families or friends. 

The National Institute on Drug Abuse reports that addiction is characterized by complex and intense cravings, along with compulsive behavior to satisfy those cravings.  This causes interpersonal distress to the user, family, friends and co-workers.  There are many types of recovery programs.  Certain persons may require several different types of programs, such as inpatient, outpatient counseling and support meetings.  Many times, support can be received through the employer.  With the lack of jobs in this country, those who are fortunate enough to have one should try to remain healthy, and draw on their strengths, rather than dependences. 



September 18 –24 is National Child Passenger Safety Week.  On September 24, there will be a National Seat check for parents to take their child seats for an inspection by certified CPS technicians.   When you shop for a new car, you want to know all the safety features it has; the same goes for the child seat that you choose for your little one.  Here are the stages of guidelines for child passenger safety, from the Centers for Disease Control:

  • Until Age 1/20 Lbs:  Keep infants in the back seat, in rear-facing child safety seats, as long as possible up to the height or weight limit of their particular seat.  At a minimum, keep infants rear-facing until at least age 1 year and at least 20 lbs.
  • Until age 4/40 Lbs: After reaching age year 1 and at least 20 pounds, they may ride in forward-facing child seats, in the back seat.  This is appropriate until they reach age 4 and 40 lbs.
  • Until Age 8 or 4’9” Tall: Once children outgrow their forward facing seats, (at around age 4/40 lbs.), they should ride in booster seats, in the back seat, until the vehicle seat belts fit properly.  Seat belts fit properly when the lap belt lays across the upper thighs and the shoulder belt fits across the chest (usually at age 8 or when they are 4”9” tall.
  • After Age 8 or 4’9” Tall: They may now use the adult seat belts in the back seat, if they fit properly (lap belt lays across the upper thighs and the shoulder belts fits across the chest.)
  • Children younger than 13 years old should ride in the back seat.  Never place a child in the front seat facing an airbag. 

Other information from the CDC from 2008, was that child safety seats reduced the risk of death in car crashes by 71% for infants and 54% for toddlers ages one to four.  For children ages 4 to 7, booster seats reduced injury risk by 59% compared to safety belts alone.  There are many people who may be unaware of the risk they are taking by letting their child ride in the front seat.  I know a lady who was hit almost head-on by another car, whose eight-year old son was in the front seat, and was injured by the airbag.  It wasn’t too serious; however, I really don’t think she knew that he shouldn’t be riding in the front.  Kids want to ride “shotgun,” but it should become a habit to have them ride in the rear seat. 

Another safety tip: a child within reach of a seat belt may become entangled if he or she pulls the seat belt all the way out and wraps the belt around the head, neck or waist.  Never let the child lie down or sleep on the vehicle seat instead of being properly buckled in.  A good rule of thumb is to buckle unused seat belts.  One should never leave a child unattended in a vehicle and also teach children that seat belts are not toys. 

We’ve come a long way from the car seats we used when our kids were small.  Car seats fit in the middle of the front seat, hooked over the seats.  If they were not properly strapped in, they were like little projectiles!  I can also remember the times they would stand next to the driver, and we’d throw our right arm out to protect them if we thought someone was going to run into us.  It’s an old habit that I bet many of you remember, too.  If not, those were the “good old days!”  Our little ones were not as safe as they are now, thanks to child safety seats and other safety measures, such as child-door locks. 

You may check online at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s website to find a child safety seat inspection locator in your area.  Take the time to ensure that the seat you are using for your little passenger is secure. 

Source: CDC, NHTSA


An important September observance in the United States is National Farm Safety Week, sponsored by the National Education Center for Agricultural Safety.  Working in the agricultural field ranks among the most hazardous industries in our country.  Farmers and family members who work side by side are at high risk for fatal and non-fatal injuries.  Most farmers have made their living by working the soil generation after generation.  They are aware of the hazards their occupation presents.  Accidents happen, though, and we want to share with you some of the things that might happen on a farm or ranch. 

Every day, approximately 243 agricultural workers suffer lost-time injuries, according to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, (NIOSH).  Young people are particularly susceptible to injury, if precautions are not taken.  Many young persons are injured by machinery (including tractors) and motor vehicles (including ATV’s).  

  • PTO’s (power take-off) devices are extremely dangerous to workers, especially children.  These are pieces of farm equipment, such as augers, that are attached to tractors.  They rotate at 540 to 1,000 revolutions per minute.  Loose clothing could get caught in one of these, and there is simply no time to get out of this situation without serious injury.  
  • Tractors should be equipped with a rollover protective structure (ROPS.)  There should not be extra riders on tractors or other farm equipment.  The person driving the tractor should always use handholds and care when getting on or off the tractor; slips and falls cause injuries.  A friend of ours who has farmed all of his life fell off his tractor one day, breaking his collarbone.  
  • ATV’s are very popular on farms and ranches; they are designed for a single rider.  There is a risk of overturn when riding an ATV.  Always wear appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) when operating machinery, such as a helmet when riding an ATV. 
  • Animals present certain obstacles, as most farmers and ranchers will tell you.  Avoid quick movements and loud noises when working with animals.  One should know their characteristics.  Movement in an animal’s blind spots may startle it.  Be sure there is a quick escape if you go inside an animal pen.  The same goes for having a good escape route when working with animals in close quarters, such as chutes and stalls. 
  • Hired farm workers should be aware of farm safety; they should have training and direct communication to ensure that they understand what they are expected to do.  Direct supervision when they are performing dangerous duties, particularly when the worker is new to the job.  Be sure there are no language barriers limiting the effectiveness of training or supervision. 

There are many other obstacles included in farm work.  Pesticide exposure could cause pulmonary disease.  Hearing loss from operating loud equipment over a long period of time, stress, and musculoskeletal disorders may result from this occupation.  The use of personal protective equipment is important when working outdoors.  Safety sunglasses, good work gloves, and respirators for working in dry, dusty environments are just part of the necessary protective measures to use. One never knows when that first aid kit will be needed, either. 

As always, we salute those who work in the agricultural field.  Without them, we’d be pretty hungry!  We wish for safety for all of them; and empathize with those who have lost their crops this year due to drought, flooding, wildfires, or other natural disasters.