10 Driver Safety Tips for Fall Rainstorms

25 Sep 2014 Comments

Nearly half (47%) of all weather-related car accidents — more than 700,000 a year — are due to rain.

As fall’s soggy weather fast approaches, it’s crucial that you know how to safely maneuver your vehicle and avoid weather-related accidents.
Here are 10 tips for driving in the rain:

Step 1. Exercise caution. Engine oil and grease build-up on roads and highways over time, and when combined with precipitation, you’ve got the equivalent of an automotive Slip ‘N Slide.

Step 2. Slow down. Wet pavement causes tires to lose traction and vehicles become more difficult to handle.

Step 3. Use headlights. Always use headlights in the rain – even if it’s just a sprinkle. Headlights help you see and be seen in wet weather.

Step 4. Keep your windshield wipers in tip-top shape. Summer can wreak havoc on your blades, so get them checked before fall’s showers arrive.

Step 5. Defog your windows. Precipitation can cause your windshield to quickly fog up, so use the front and rear defrosters to maximize visibility.

Step 6. Avoid pooling water. By splashing through puddles you can impair your vision and other drivers’. Additionally, standing water often shields potholes and debris from view and it can reduce the effectiveness of your vehicle’s brakes.

Step 7. If your car begins to hydroplane, do not brake or turn the wheel abruptly as this may cause your vehicle to go into a skid or spin. Take your foot off the gas and keep the wheel straight until your car reclaims traction.

Step 8. Increase your following distance. Slick roads, wet brakes and reduced visibility can lead to collisions. Give other vehicles plenty of room and brake early with reduced force.

Step 9. Don’t use cruise control. It can cause your car to accelerate when hydroplaning and reduces driver attentiveness.

Step 10. Drive in the tracks of the car in front of you. This allows the vehicle ahead to displace any standing water that’s on the road.

By employing these safe driving techniques you can keep yourself and your passengers safe during fall and winter drizzles and downpours. Rainy roads can be dangerous, but if we all slow down and use extra caution, rainy days might actually be a little brighter.

National Child Passenger Safety Week

15 Sep 2014 Comments

Are you 100% confident that your child is the safest they can be while riding in the car? With car crashes being a leading cause of death for children 1 to 13 years old in the United States, it’s very important to make sure your child is in the correct safety seat to accommodate their growing body. But it’s not an easy task to find the right car seat. After all, there are several types of seats depending on your child’s age and size.

Ensuring your children are buckled in safely when they are in the car is the goal of National Child Passenger Safety Week. From September 14th -20th parents and caregivers are encouraged to participate in a safety seat check up and find out from experts how best to protect their kids. Even after you find the right one, it’s important to know how to install your car seat correctly and when to transition your child to another type of seat as they grow older. A National Highway Traffic Safety Administration study revealed that nearly 75 percent of parents don’t know how to use child safety restraints properly.

National Child Passenger Safety Week concludes with National Seat Check Saturday on September 20th when certified Child Passenger Safety Technicians will be available throughout California to offer advice and instruction. Technicians will help educate consumers about choosing the right car seat for their child, the importance of registering car seats with the manufacturer, and what to expect should that seat be subject to a safety recall. To find a safety seat check event in your area, visit seatcheck.org.

California law requires that all children under age 8 must be properly buckled into a car seat or booster in the back seat. Once a child reaches 8 years of age, parents should use this simple 5-step test to determine if their child can safely ride in a seat belt.

5-Step Test:

Step 1. Can the child sit all the way back against the auto seat?

Step 2. Do the child’s knees bend naturally over the seat cushion edge?

Step 3. Does the lap belt cross the top of the hips/thighs, not the tummy?

Step 4. Is the shoulder belt centered on the shoulder and chest?

Step 5. Can the child stay seated in this position for the whole trip?

10 Safety Tips for Senior Drivers

09 Sep 2014 Comments

In the year 2030, it is estimated that one in five drivers will be over the age of 65. The life changing consequences of being in a car crash increases with age due to a higher susceptibility to injury and medical complications.

Senior drivers can take several steps to stay safe on the road, including:

Step 1. Exercising regularly to increase strength and flexibility. Walking, lifting weights and stretching are easy activities to fit into your daily routine.

Step 2. Eating at regular intervals and proper nutrition will help to keep you alert behind the wheel.

Step 3. Reviewing prescriptions and over-the counter medications with your doctor or pharmacist for side effects or restrictions that could impair your ability to operate a motor vehicle.

Step 4. Having your eyes checked by an eye doctor at least once a year to detect changes in your vision and so you know your limitations.

Step 5. Driving during daylight and in good weather. It is more difficult to see at night and in the glare of oncoming headlights.

Step 6. Planning your route before you drive so you know where you are going, we well as using roads with traffic that is moving at a rate of speed where you can travel safely.

Step 7. Using signals to consistently communicate with other drivers, choosing intersections with left turn arrows, and looking for easy parking will help in reaching your destination.

Step 8. Leaving a large following distance behind the car in front of you gives you a cushion of safety and helps to compensate for slower reaction times.

Step 9. Avoiding distractions in your car caused by cell phone use, eating and unsecured objects.

Step 10. Considering potential alternatives to driving by arranging for a ride with a friend or planning a convenient route on public transportation.

Safety Center offers an 8-hour Mature Driver program and a 4-hour refresher to provide tools to help seniors adapt to the effects of aging. Go to http://safetycenter.org/senior-safety/

7 Steps to Selling Your Safety Point

04 Sep 2014 Comments

Developing an effective and sustainable safety and health culture within your organization has the single greatest impact on injury reduction. For this reason, developing a safety culture should be a top priority for all businesses. Nearly 50 American workers are injured every minute of the 40-hour work week, while about only 30% of businesses have a established safety and health program. In a strong safety culture, everyone feels responsible for safety and pursues it on a daily basis. In-turn it reduces the extent and severity of work related injuries and illnesses, enables you to better comply with regulations and other requirements, improve employee morale and productivity and reduce workers’ compensation costs. Over time the norms and beliefs of the organization shift focus from eliminating hazards to proactively building systems that improve safety and health conditions.

The first step to having a successful safety and health culture is being able to sell your safety point. Below are 7 Steps to Packaging A Winning Safety Point:

Step 1. Establish Credibility

Step 2. Identify the Problem

Step 3. Research Solutions

Step 4. Identify and Remove Barriers

Step 5. Strategize! Strategize! Strategize!

Step 6. Presentation: Sell Your Safety Point

Step 7. Follow-up: Patience and Persistence

Tips for Employees who work Independently

02 Sep 2014 Comments

Author: Bob Lapidus, CSP, CSMS

Most of us go through life thinking others expect us to be independent, able to accomplish all things on our own. In a way, that is kind of scary and even irrational. The world is a complex place. Each organization is complicated and many of our tasks are intricate. Unless someone is a one-person artisan, creating his or her own specialty item, most of us work with others to get our tasks completed.

Working safely is one such activity that needs cooperative help. Many things we do are inherently unsafe when we do them alone. Think about how the following activities would be unsafe if done completely alone:

1. Climbing on extension ladders

2. Entering permit-required confined spaces

3. Working in excavations

4. Carrying or lifting heavy, awkward or cumbersome objects

5. Driving extra-long distances

6. Long hours of boring work

Having another person to help provides someone to assist, trade off tasks, react immediately in the event of an emergency, and even provide additional guidance.

There are organizations where employees are expected to work autonomously, without anyone else around, even though some tasks are hazardous. To handle this kind of situation:

    1. Determine if one person can do the work safely or if additional assistance is needed.

    2. Ascertain if there should be at least two people to ensure the work is done safely.

    3. Provide one or two reliable communication systems for employees who work alone in the event a problem occurs.

    4. Make sure employees have with them complete first-aid kits with the kind of supplies needed to treat the types of injuries they could sustain while doing the work.

    5. Comply with government safety standards that require more than one employee doing a specific task.

    6. Encourage employees to provide feedback to management on the safety of the work being performed.

Once actual tasks have been assigned the correct number of employees to do the work safely, take one additional important step: Tell your employees to think conscientiously about the work they are doing. Urge them to ask for help when they think there is any possibility that doing the task alone could lead to a problem. This action on the part of individual employees requires people to be cool. They need to know themselves, their own capabilities, when a situation is getting out of hand, and especially they need to know that asking for help is the smart thing to do.

Any belittling remarks on the part of other employees need to be eliminated immediately. Employees who put down other employees for getting help need to be counselled and directed to stop their ridicule.

Everyone in the organization must be aligned with the organization’s main safety goal of making correct safety performance matter on a moment to moment basis.

For More Information:
To become part of discussions on topics like the one above, go to www.safetycenter.org to obtain information about Safety Center’s Safety Management Specialist Certificate.

After completing this nine-day program, graduates may take the exam to achieve the Certified Safety Management Specialist (CSMS) designation. Once this certification is achieved, successful candidates keep it for the rest of their lives without any additional requirements or fees.

Are you a Drugged Driver?

14 Aug 2014 Comments

With the passage of more indulgent marijuana laws comes the increase in DUI drug convictions.  Some states have completely decriminalized marijuana allowing for recreational use and many others allow for medicinal use.  This permissive stance does not give the consumer the right to drive while high.  The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) reports the use of any psychoactive (mind-altering) drug makes it highly unsafe to drive a car and is illegal. (Drugged Driving – November 2013).  This is not limited to prescription or illicit drugs.  It is unlawful to drive after taking over-the-counter medications which cause drowsiness, dizziness or other impairments.

In 2013, Colorado enacted the “stoned driving bill.”  This comes nearly a year after the State legalized recreational marijuana use.  This idea is quite controversial since it is difficult to determine what amount of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, is the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana) would indicate impairment.  THC has been known to remain detectable in a persons’ system by blood testing for as long as six months.  Colorado law sets the limit at 5 nanograms or more per milliliter (ngml).  Compares this to alcohol; measured at 8ngml (or breath alcohol at .08%).   (source)

Washington set the THC limit at 5 ngmlwhen they approved the recreational use of marijuana.  According to the Associated Press, there were 745 drivers who tested positive for THC in the first six months of 2013.  Typically, this number is about 1,000 for an entire year.  While the overall DUI arrests remain comparable to previous years, it is assumed by the Washington State Patrol that some drivers are trading in their alcohol for marijuana.  Interestingly, the Patrol reported that although 745 tested positive there were 420 who were above the legal limit.

This article is focusing mostly on marijuana, but it is vital to note that any drug use in California can result in a DUI conviction.  The California DMV Handbookreads, “The use of any drug (the law does not distinguish between prescription, over-the-counter, or illegal drugs) which impairs your ability to drive safely is illegal.”  The handbook gives some examples, such as allergy and cough medications.  DMV emphasizes that it is your responsibility to know the effects of the medications you take.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) 2007 National Roadside survey, more than 16% of weekend, nighttime drivers tested positive for illegal, prescription or over-the-counter drugs.  More than 11% had tested positive for illicit drugs.  In the NHTSA 2010 report on Drug involvement of Fatally Injured Drivers: Drug Test Results for Fatally Injured Drivers, by State, 2009 23% in California tested positive for drugs.

Attention on drugged driving has gained momentum in recent years.  However, the Department of Transportation has focused on preventing this dangerous behavior since 1991 with the passing of the Omnibus Transportation Employee Testing Act, requiring DOT Agencies to implement drug & alcohol testing of safety-sensitive transportation employees.  If any employee test is positive (or non-negative) a stand down order is issued and that employee must be assessed by a DOT Qualified Substance Abuse Professional (SAP).  The employee then must meet all recommendations of the SAP before being considered for return to duty in a safety-sensitive duty by any employer.

DUI is not an event which is carried out by just addicts or alcoholics.  Anyonecan make the misjudgmentof driving after drinking over the legal limit (.08) or when using legitimate over-the-counter or prescription medications.   This doesnot always make for poorcharacter. Good people getDUI’s.Driving under the influence of any mind or mood altering substance puts oneself and others at risk and should be avoided.

Why Parents are Critical in Reducing Teen Crashes.

11 Aug 2014 Comments

According to an analysis of car crashes by AAA, the 100 deadliest days for teens are between Memorial Day and Labor Day. Parents are the greatest influence on teen driving behavior so it is important for them to help teens to develop the complex skills involved in becoming a safe driver.

Inexperience and distractions were identified as primary causes in 800 serious crashes studied by the Center for Injury Research and Prevention at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP). They found that 76% of the crashes were due to critical teen driver error and nearly half of the crashes were caused by three common errors: not “scanning” enough to recognize hazards; driving too fast for road conditions; or being distracted by things inside or outside of the car.

This data shows that successfully passing the DMV driving test does not automatically mean that a new driver has the experience needed to process and respond safely in complex driving situations. Teens need more than 6 hours of drivers training and 50 hours of supervised driving, which are the minimum requirements for a 16-year-old to get a driver’s license. Parents can reduce crashes by helping novice drivers practice new skills so they gradually earn independence as they demonstrate their ability to drive safely in adverse weather, traffic and road conditions.

Research by the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention showed that driving simulators reduce crashes involving novice teen drivers by 66%. Built like a car, these simulators provide realistic interactive “behind the wheel” experience to reinforce scanning, speed control and defensive driving skills. They can also help teens understand the effects of distracted driving and driving under the influence so they will avoid unsafe driving decisions. In California, Safety Center’s FOCUSimulator for teen drivers and information is available at www.safetycenter.org

Distracted driving has become a significant factor in teen car crashes due to the prevalence of cell phone use by this age group. Texting is even more dangerous because the car can travel the length of a football field before the driver becomes aware of what is going on around them. Teen drivers need to give their full attention to driving in order to avoid the risks caused by inexperience and distractions. As role models, parents can demonstrate safe driving habits and responsible behavior including avoiding the use of cell phones while driving.

Several studies by CHOP show that teens are in fewer crashes when parents control access to their car, ask questions and create a supportive environment where teens can earn driving privileges. Parents hold the keys to helping teens gain experience and to developing driving strategies that will keep young people in our community safe on the roads this summer.

For more information about the Teen Safe Driving Programs CLICK HERE

Fall Protection Is Serious Business

01 Aug 2014 Comments

As the country continues its economic recovery and construction businesses enter their peak season, we should be reminded  that construction is the deadliest industry in the country. Falls are consistently the top cause of fatalities in the construction industry, accounting for 269 fatalities in the US in 2012 alone. And for the third year in a row, OSHA’s Fall Protection standard was the agency’s most frequently cited standard.

In addition to the horrific injuries and deaths falls cause, OSHA estimates that each fall from an elevated position in construction (both fatal and nonfatal) costs between $50,000 and $106,000. These costs include: citations, work stoppage, lost wages, workers compensation, and medical costs. With fatal falls at California construction sites seeing a peak this summer, Cal/OSHA has deployed investigators to construction sites throughout the state “to determine whether adequate measures have been taken to identify safety hazards and prevent injury.”

How Can Falls Be Prevented?

In addition to proper education and equipment, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) tackles this issue with a new publication that urges fall hazards are addressed during the design stages of a project (Prevention through Design) not just during construction or work. According to NIOSH, the recommended hierarchy of controls for fall protection is as follows:

– This can be done by either adopting a building design involving a single level at grade rather than multiple levels at elevations or by using parapet walls, permanent guardrails, and other features to separate workers from fall hazards.

– Provide a fall restraint system. This involves securing the worker via an anchor point, connector, lanyard, and body harness to prevent the worker from reaching the fall hazard.

– Install a fall arrest system. This involves using an anchor point, connectors, lanyards, and body harnesses, but allows exposure to the fall hazard and is designed to stop a fall after it has begun.

Working from heights is inherently dangerous, but protecting workers from falls is feasible and effective. Don’t let your company become another statistic!

To enroll in an upcoming Fall Protection Course at our Northern or Southern California Campuses Click Here.

What’s the Correct Pace for Workplace Safety

31 Jul 2014 Comments

By Bob Lapidus, CSP, CSMS

One of the most common admonishments in the field of safety is to take it slow. Stop being in a hurry and you will have less chance of getting hurt. I have believed in that thinking for many years.

But today I do not know if it is always true.

I think most things in life have a safe pace and it is our job to learn what that pace is for each activity we do. Some things need to be taken slow or even slower. Other activities might naturally move faster because there is much to be done, and we cannot waste time.

Think about an assembly line. It moves at a pace to get the product finished in an efficient, productive, and safe manner. Too slow and not enough product may be produced. Too fast and the product might be damaged or employees could be injured.

Think about a craftsman. Oftentimes, the work is performed meticulously, at a sufficient pace to achieve artistic excellence, to create a masterpiece.

Oftentimes, the more experience we have in doing a given task, the faster that task can be accomplished because we become more proficient.

Pace can mean the rate at which something is done or the tempo of a given activity. Each song has its own optimal pace. Sung too fast and it becomes meaningless. Sung too slow and it becomes boring.

A friend of mine was an insurance company claims adjuster. She worked diligently with all involved parties to achieve optimal and accurate outcomes. It took intense research and coordination to achieve successful results, and that is what she achieved. On the other hand, the company had a quota system that wanted quantity rather than quality. They wanted her to speed through the process. The number of claims completed was the goal. She never did achieve what they wanted.

Our job is to learn the most productive, efficient and safe pace of each task that is completed within our work environments. The task will be completed in a manner best suited for the situation.


For More Information:
To become part of discussions on topics like the one above, go to www.safetycenter.org to obtain information about Safety Center’s Safety Management Specialist Certificate.

After completing this nine-day program, graduates may take the exam to achieve the Certified Safety Management Specialist (CSMS) designation.  Once this certification is achieved, successful candidates keep it for the rest of their lives without any additional requirements or fees.

DUI Programs are Treatment, not School!

25 Jul 2014 Comments

You have probably heard the term, “DUI School.” DUI Programs in California are not schools, they are treatment programs. A schools primary focus is on education, instilling knowledge. Take for example, traffic school; designed only to educate the participant in traffic regulations.
Sheldon Zhang, Professor of Sociology at San Diego State University, states that schools educate by providing certain types of knowledge, individuals accumulate information that may increase their understanding or insight into certain aspects of human life or societal issues.Such knowledge gain is not required to produce or lead to any specific behavioral changes.While there are expectations what our students should or ought to become in the future, whether they will meet such expectations are typically not the concern of the educators.

Zhang points out four key points that DUI programs are a treatment more than just education.

1. These programs have a clear intention to exert influence over behavioral changes–to bring about changes.

2. Most, if not all, programs are cognitive-behavioral in orientation–focusing on identifying problematic thinking patterns and habits and recognition of risk behaviors or coping mechanisms so that ideal or “proper” response behavior can be formed.

3. Engage in activities (group and individual or peer counseling) that are main stake in mental health treatment community.

4. Clients are sanctioned into the programs for reasons of conduct/behavioral problems (not for lack of knowledge).

Zhang has closely reviewed the Safety Center DUI Program Curriculum and has observed its implementation in San Diego County. He states, “ [Safety Center Curriculum] follows the mainstream Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) approach commonly found in counseling psychology, which emphasizes the recognition and awareness of one’s substance use problems and following specific prescriptions of behavioral modifications that aim at recognizing stress-provoking events and coping skills.”

The Safety Center Curriculum reflects the cumulative clinical experiences and practical knowledge over the decades from its counselors and clinical supervisors. Zhang further states it should be pointed out that the Safety Center curriculum and clinical practices have been consistently applied across all its DUI program sites in three counties (Sacramento, Stanislaus, and Yolo) as well as the PC-1000 program in Stanislaus County to achieve consistency in the intervention approach. The curriculum has also gained wider acceptance by other DUI program providers in California and other states.

For more information about the Safety Center Drug & Alcohol Programs CLICK HERE