The roads belong to us all: Let’s make safe choices

The nation’s roadways are a place of constant risk, with millions of vehicles moving alongside one another. Since it’s impossible to control the choices of everyone on the road, we need to be defensive drivers. Getting behind the wheel is a time for patience and focus – qualities that can help you avoid a collision should someone else make a bad decision.

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Be Distraction-free

Thousands of crashes have involved distracted driving. Anything that prevents a driver from being able to safely operate the vehicle should be avoided.

  • Never use a cell phone behind the wheel, even hands-free
  • Pre-set your navigation system and music playlists before driving

Avoid Impairment

An average of one alcohol-impaired driving fatality occurs every 53 minutes in the U.S. But impairment can also include being under the influence of drugs – both legal and illegal.

  • Designate an alcohol and drug-free driver or arrange alternate transportation
  • Check the side effects of your medications before getting behind the wheel

Check Your Speed

Speeding was a factor in 28 percent of all traffic fatalities in 2014. Speeding reduces the amount of time a driver has to react in a dangerous situation to avoid a crash.

  • Always allow adequate time to get to your destination
  • Adjust your speed for weather conditions – in certain situations the legal speed limit may be too fast

Rest Up

Our lives are busy and sometimes we try to fit in too much. This can be very dangerous behind the wheel if we don’t get enough rest. Most adults need 7-8 hours of sleep a day, while teens need 9-10 hours.

  • Create a regular sleep pattern so you can get plenty of rest
  • On long trips, take regular breaks to avoid fatigue

Help Teens and Children

Driving is a complex skill that demands judgment and experience, which can take years to acquire. Teen drivers need as much experience as possible, and parents should help provide that by driving with their teens on a regular basis.

Do not allow teens to drive with their friends. A single young passenger can increase a teen driver’s fatal crash risk 44 percent.

The safety of child passengers is the responsibility of the driver, and requirements change as kids grow.

  • Make certain child safety seats are properly installed, that children are correctly secured and that the seats are appropriate to the child’s height, weight and developmental level
  • Regardless of age, make sure all passengers are correctly belted before setting off

The above is an excerpt from the article, “The roads belong to us all: Let’s make safe choices.” For more information visit www.nsc.org.

Reach for safer medicine

Every day we make decisions that have a direct impact on our health. Making smart food choices and exercising regularly can help keep us in shape and avoid many injuries. However, if an injury does occur, we can still protect our health when deciding what medications to take.

Prescription painkillers such as Oxycontin, Percocet and Vicodin account for more drug overdoses than heroin and cocaine combined. These legally obtainable drugs are highly addictive and actually less effective than a combination of ibuprofen and acetaminophen.

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What Are the Signs of Opioid Painkiller Addiction? It’s not always easy to tell if someone is addicted to opioid painkillers. Experts say common symptoms include:

  • Excessive mood swings or anxiety
  • Sleepiness
  • Slurred speech
  • Confusion or poor decision making
  • Small pupils or shallow breathing
  • Continually “losing” prescriptions so more must be written
  • Seeking prescriptions from more than one doctor
  • Stealing, forging or selling prescriptions

Should You Work or Drive While Taking Opioid Painkillers?

Certain side effects of opioid painkillers could hinder your ability to drive or work safely. These side effects include:

  • Dizziness
  • Sleepiness
  • Blurred vision
  • Confusion or unusual thoughts
  • Delayed reaction
  • Difficulty following directions

Talk to Your Family About the Risks of Opioid Painkillers

  • Discuss the dangers of mixing prescription drugs with alcohol
  • Explain how painkillers are made from opioids, which are similar to heroin
  • Talk to grandparents and caregivers about how to safely store their medications
  • Secure any opioid painkillers, sedatives, sleep medications or stimulants in a locked drawer or container

Keep Young Children Safe Around Medications

  • All medicines and vitamins should always be kept up and away and out of a child’s reach
  • Practice safe medicine storage and remind houseguests to keep purses, bags or coats up and away when in your home

The above is an excerpt from the article, “Reach for safer medicine.” For more information visit www.nsc.org.

Preparing today can make a difference tomorrow

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On any given day, anything can happen, from a slip and fall at home to a natural disaster near your workplace. By assessing potential risks and having a plan to respond, you will be steps ahead in the event of an incident, wherever it occurs.

Get Trained in First Aid and CPR

first-aid-box-postEven the fastest paramedics could take 8 to 12 minutes to get to a patient after calling 9-1-1. Being trained in first aid and CPR could mean the difference between life and death.

When trained in first aid, the following steps are helpful in the event an emergency:

  • Recognize the emergency
  • Check the area for safety (If it’s not safe, don’t enter)
  • Check the victim and ask for permission to provide assistance
  • Call 9-1-1 when appropriate
  • Care for the person
  • Have the person seek medical attention when needed When calling 9-1-1, be prepared to give this information to the dispatcher:
  • Your name
  • The phone number you are using
  • The location and number of victims
  • The victim’s approximate age, sex and condition (Responsive? Breathing? Bleeding?)
  • What happened to the victim and any special circumstances
  • What is being done for the victim

The dispatcher may also give you instructions on how to help the victim. Stay on the line until the dispatcher says you can hang up.

First aid and CPR training gives you the skills you need to handle life’s everyday bumps and bruises, and the confidence to respond quickly and correctly to more serious injuries and life-threatening situations that can occur. Learn more at nsc.org/trainFA.

Be Prepared for Emergencies

hurricane_emergency_supply_kit_additional_items_WPPreparation is key when seconds count. When it comes to natural disasters, be sure to keep a fully stocked emergency preparedness kit in your home and vehicle with supplies such as food, water, necessary medications, a battery-powered radio, a flashlight and a first aid kit.

Just like you participate in emergency drills at work, be sure to practice with your family. A home fire plan should include checking that smoke detectors are working properly; drawing a diagram of your home, marking the locations of windows and doors; planning two escape routes out of every room; setting up an outside meeting place for after an escape; and practicing the escape plan regularly. Make sure even children know what designated phone number to call in the event your family is separated, and plan for the needs of older family members and pets.


The above is an excerpt from the article, “Preparing today can make a difference tomorrow.” For more information please visit, “www.nsc.org.”

Drowsy Driving & Worker Safety

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At the end of a grueling 24-hour shift at a natural gas site in a remote part of Texas, Daniel Zambrano climbed behind the wheel of a van carrying six of his co-workers.

Before long, fatigue started to overtake Zambrano. The 26-year-old from Kilgore, TX, allegedly dozed off as he drove along Highway 72, and the full-size van slammed into the back of a school bus that had stopped to pick up a child.

The front of the van was crushed, and the vehicle toppled onto its passenger side. Zambrano and two others were killed. The van tore a hole into the rear right corner of the school bus, but no children were injured.

The crash is one example of drowsy driving and its implications on worker safety, said Stephanie Pratt, coordinator of the NIOSH Center for Motor Vehicle Safety. Pratt was one of several panelists who addressed a National Transportation Safety Board forum last October to discuss what employers can do to combat the deadly problem.

Pratt said drowsy driving affects many non-professional drivers in oil and gas, home health care, sales, shift work and other areas.

“I think the most important message you can send is that this is not just about heavy trucks and buses,” Pratt said during an interview with Safety+Health. “This is a risk that anybody can suffer. It is not necessarily a matter of your being sleep-deprived for years on end. If you just haven’t had enough sleep in the last 24 hours, you’re still going to be drowsy no matter how well you slept the past two weeks.”

Although estimates vary, driver fatigue may contribute to more than 100,000 crashes a year, then-NTSB member Mark Rosekind said during the forum. (Rosekind was confirmed by the Senate to lead the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration on Dec. 16.) Conservative estimates peg drowsy driving as a contributing factor in about 1,000 fatalities a year, while a report from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety estimates that more than 6,000 drowsy-driving crashes a year result in at least one fatality.

The numbers are “staggering” and show the need for employers to develop policies on drowsy driving, said Dr. Charles Czeisler, director of the Division of Sleep Medicine at Harvard Medical School and chairman of the National Sleep Foundation.

“The data are really quite compelling,” Czeisler said. “It’s just such a barometer of the extent to which we are sleep-deprived as a nation.”

Workers at risk

The oil and gas industry is particularly vulnerable to drowsy driving because workers often endure extended shifts and make lengthy trips to and from worksites, Pratt said.

“Company towns aren’t going up around these sites,” Pratt said. “What’s happening is that a temporary work camp is set up, and workers may still choose to make a commute of two to three hours.”

Such travel times easily fit into the category of a “mega commute,” which is defined by the U.S. Census Bureau as traveling 90 or more minutes and 50 or more miles to work. Almost 600,000 full-time workers are mega commuters, according to a 2013 report by the Census Bureau, which cited a changing employment landscape as a reason why people are commuting longer for job opportunities.

NIOSH plans to survey oil and gas workers in the near future about their commuting behaviors and on-the-job driving requirements, Pratt said. She noted that employers with sales fleets, home health care fleets and other traveling workers also could do their part to limit drowsy driving among workers.

“I think the key is allowing workers the flexibility to self-regulate on fatigue within certain limits,” Pratt said.

Depending on the circumstance, employers also could reduce the risk of drowsy driving with thoughtful planning.

“At the most basic level, you question whether you need to travel,” Pratt said. “And then if you do need to travel, then think about taking safer modes of transportation like air and rail, not motor vehicles.

“Employers can set policies to have periodic rest breaks, and that would have to be factored into scheduling. When workers have time pressures, they need to be allowed to take a rest break if they are tired, and employers can also authorize workers to stop for the night if they’re drowsy or fatigued.”

Creating policies

Experts recommend that employers develop and implement fatigue management policies, which could include:

  • Training workers about the risks of drowsy driving
  • Providing safer travel options, such as by bus, from remote worksites
  • Empowering workers to seek overnight accommodations when they are too tired to drive safely Offering voluntary screening for sleep apnea
  • Implementing voluntary, structured napping programs during parts of the work shift

Czeisler said employers could develop policies similar to the European Union’s Working Time Directive, which requires a minimum daily rest period of 11 consecutive hours and at least one full day off work per week. “When people are working 10, 20, 30, 40 consecutive days or nights, they build up unsustainably high levels of fatigue, which greatly increase the risk of fatigue-related crashes,” he said.

Policies could help protect employees who have logged long hours on the job. Similarly, employers can protect workers who take cross-country or transatlantic flights by requiring that they rest before driving from the airport.

Such policies could help put an end to “completely preventable tragedies,” Czeisler said.

“Employers don’t think about providing transportation when there are circumstances in which people have to be awake for extended durations of time,” Czeisler said. “Let’s say there’s a project at work, and people end up … staying up all night completing it. It’s the responsibility of the employer at that point to provide the employee’s transportation home instead of having them get in their cars and risk their lives.”

Making progress

The scope of drowsy driving can be difficult to quantify because fatigue cannot be objectively measured, Pratt said.

No blood test can determine a driver’s sleepiness. No guarantee exists that “fatigue” will end up in a police report, particularly if the only person involved in the crash was killed.

But the NTSB forum helped to thrust drowsy driving into the national spotlight, and more employers are recognizing their role in keeping workers safe, Pratt said.

“It’s more and more on the radar of these non-commercial fleets,” Pratt said. “Employers whose workers are sales fleets, service fleets, in industries like utilities and oil and gas, they are becoming much more aware of this issue. There are things that can be done and there are resources available.”

The National Sleep Foundation offers one such resource at drowsydriving.org. Another option for employers would be to create toolbox talks and other programs from information included in theNorth American Fatigue Management Program.

Smaller programs have popped up to help employers on the local level. The Stark County (OH) Sheriff’s Department created a “Workplace Driver Safety Toolkit” to help employers.

The guidebook recommends that employers encourage workers to exercise, eat well and take breaks during the workday to help maintain sufficient energy levels and prevent fatigued driving.

“We’ve had more businesses coming to us for the book, not only on drowsy driving but also on distracted driving,” said Sharon George, director of the Stark County Safe Communities Coalition. “We have some businesses that are just now realizing their role in preventing the traffic crashes.”


The above is an excerpt from the article, “Drowsy Driving & Worker Safety.” For more information please visit, “www.safetyandhealthmagazine.com.”

Golf Safety: A Few Other Reminders

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  • Practice good golf etiquette. Wait for your turn to play, allow other golfers to get out of range before hitting, and keep quiet while others are playing.
  • Don’t move ahead into other groups. If a group ahead of you is playing slowly, it can be frustrating having to wait. Don’t give in to the temptation to hit into their group. It could result in a very serious injury. Instead take a deep breath and a few more practice swings, or politely ask to “play through.” If you see a course marshall, ask him if he can say something to the slow golfers to help speed up play.
  • Use the right equipment. Swinging a golf club can often cause you to get blisters on your hands, and on hot days sweaty palms can make clubs hard to grip. If either of these is the case, use a golf glove or two. Typically, right-handed golfers will want a glove for their left hand, and vice versa.

Golf shoes will give you much better traction than sneakers and help you avoid slipping while you swing. Get a pair of shoes with plastic spikes, as most courses will not allow metal spikes.

Common sense and a little forethought can go a long way toward keeping you injury-free on the golf course. Just use your head, and chances are you’ll golf for years to come without having to worry about getting hurt.


The above excerpt is from the article, “Golf Safety.” For more information please visit www.kidshealth.org.

Golf-Cart Safety

cart-and-course-mediumGolf carts should only be driven by licensed drivers or if an adult is present. If you are going to drive a cart, read the directions and safety rules posted on the cart. It’s not difficult, but carts can be dangerous if they aren’t driven properly.

As much as possible, stay on cart paths, and never try to go off-roading across bumpy terrain. Drive straight up and down hills, and take it slow while going downhill or around turns. Look out for other carts where cart paths intersect, and never hang your feet, legs, arms, or hands out of a cart while it is in motion.



The above excerpt is from the article, “Golf Safety.” For more information please visit www.kidshealth.org.

Golf Safety: Lightning Precautions

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Lightning can be a big hazard on the golf course. Because you’re exposed and carrying metal clubs, your risk of getting struck is greater than normal. Check the weather before you head out to the course, and never try to play during a thunderstorm.

Most golf courses these days will sound an alarm if lightning is spotted in the area. If you hear an alarm or see lightning yourself, head for the clubhouse right away. If you can’t get to the clubhouse, don’t seek cover under trees, which attract lightning. Instead, seek out a designated lightning shelter or bathroom. Be sure the structure you choose has walls, as open-walled structures will not protect you from a lightning strike.

If no shelter is available, drop your clubs and move away from them and your cart. Stay away from trees and water, seek out a low-lying area, and keep a safe distance from other members of your group to make yourselves smaller targets.


The above excerpt is from the article, “Golf Safety.” For more information please visit www.kidshealth.org.

Golf Safety: On the Course

golfer-shutterstock-fb-_170053652On the Course

Be aware of your surroundings at all times, and keep track of the people around you. It should be easy to know the locations of the players in your group, which will generally number four or less. But you need to also take note of where other groups are located.

Any time you have a golf club in your hands and are preparing to swing, make sure everyone else is a safe distance away. Never swing a club if someone else is near you, whether you’re taking a practice swing or hitting the ball.

When other players in your group are swinging clubs, don’t assume that they are watching out for you. Be proactive and give them a wide berth so that you don’t run the risk of being struck by a club. And never stand in a place where you could be hit by a ball when another golfer in your group is playing.

When the time comes to hit the ball, be sure there are no golfers ahead of you who might be in range of your shot. This includes golfers to the right and left who might be in danger if you slice or hook the ball onto an adjacent hole. Wait until you’re sure other golfers are out of the way before you hit.

What’s “Fore”?

Sometimes, despite all your precautions, you will hit a ball in the direction of other golfers. It’s possible a golfer was hidden by trees or a hill and you didn’t see them until after you’ve hit the ball. In cases like this, yell out “Fore!” as loudly as you can. This will let other golfers know that a ball is headed their way and they should take cover.

If, while you are playing, you hear someone yell “Fore!” don’t turn your head to look for the ball. Instead, seek cover behind a tree or a golf cart. If that’s not possible, cover your head and face with your arms.


The above is an excerpt from the article, “Safety Tips: Golf.” For more information please visit www.kidshealth.org.

Golf Safety: Before You Tee Up

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Golf is an excellent challenge, physically as well as mentally, and it’s also a great social activity.

It might seem silly to put golf and danger in the same sentence, but injuries can and do happen. Golf balls and golf clubs are very hard objects that can cause considerable damage if they strike you, and golfers need to be aware of the dangers posed by everything from lightning to repetitive stress injuries.

To learn how to stay safe on the golf course, follow these tips.

Why Is Golf Safety Important?

As sports go, golf is pretty safe, but there’s always potential for injury. The golf swing puts a tremendous amount of pressure on your back and your joints, particularly if you are prone to swinging too hard or your technique isn’t the best. Back pain, elbow tendonitis, and pain in the shoulders, hands, and wrists are all common golf injuries.

Less common but more serious injuries can happen if someone gets hit by a golf ball or club. Though it’s extremely rare, people have actually died from being hit by golf balls. And then there are golf-cart mishaps: Golfers have been known to get seriously injured when golf carts are driven in a hazardous manner or if they dangle their feet or hands out of a cart while it’s moving.

Fortunately, most traumatic injuries can be avoided by using common sense and following the rules.

Before You Tee Up

Always warm up by taking a light walk, jogging, or doing jumping jacks before you play golf. Do trunk twists and other stretches to help loosen up your back, and be sure to stretch your shoulders, arms, elbows, and wrists. Take a few easy practice swings, gradually increasing your range of motion.

When practicing your swing at the driving range, start with wedges and short irons that call for a shorter swing. Gradually work up to long irons and woods that require a full swing. This not only will help your golf game, it will also go a long way toward preventing injuries.

If you will be playing on a sunny day, use plenty of sunscreen on any exposed skin, and wear a wide-brimmed hat to shade your eyes and protect your face. A typical round of golf takes more than 4 hours to complete. You will be out in the sun the entire time, especially if you walk the course instead of riding in a cart. Sunburns are no fun, and neither is dehydration, another problem you might encounter on hot days. Be sure to drink plenty of fluids before, during, and after your round.


The above is an excerpt from the article, “Safety Tips: Golf.” For more information please visit www.kidshealth.org.