Safety Tip of the Week

December 07, 2017 header

Holiday Season Safety

Christmas holidays are almost here and with party-going and gift-giving, the hustle and bustle of shopping, decorating the house, coping with inclement weather, everyone is more prone to have accidents during the holiday season. To help make this a safe and happy time of year, here are some tips to keep you and others safe.

  • There are more cars on the road during the holidays, which means more people and confusion on the road. When driving, make safety your number one priority while traveling to your destination. Lock your car while shopping and be sure to put all gifts out of site from peering onlookers. Remember those crossing the street may not see you while carrying a large package.
  • More than half of seasonal car accidents are cause by drinking. Do yourself and everyone around you a favor by securing a designated driver or taxi while returning home from get-togethers.
  • 57% of all home fires are caused by defective heating equipment, especially during the winter months. Abide by the guidelines given in your heater's box and check all outlets for prior damage. Never leave your fireplace unattended and remember to never burn wrapping paper, tissues or evergreens as it may cause poisonous smoke.
  • Don’t forget to water your trees. When your trees are dry and close to electrical sockets, sparks can fly.

Don't let accidents ruin your holiday season!

Plan Safety Into Your Day

Safety and self-preservation go hand in hand. Our natural instincts drive us to keep ourselves safe in order to stay healthy and alive. However, safety doesn’t occur naturally. In order to keep ourselves safe, we must plan safety into each task we want to accomplish.

What is safety? It is freedom from danger. It involves putting thought into action, creating orderliness, using knowledge and exercising caution. It is a personal commitment to looking out for your health and well-being as well as that of those around you. Accidents don’t just happen; they are caused. If we work on eliminating the causes, we can eliminate the accidents.

Safety is a state of mind. Make conscious choices to promote safety every day

Take a Protective Stance: Safe Alignment of the Body

  • Keep your wrists and arms in neutral to avoid mild or severe symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome. 
  • Choose a small and handy tool belt that you can easily keep balanced with small adjustments.

  • Opt to sit  (instead of squatting or kneeling) if working at lower levels, to avoid straining your lower body—knees, waist, and back.
  • Reduce and eliminate bach aches and strains by lifting properly. Use your knees instead of your back; avoid twisting your body when picking, carrying, or releasing a heavy load; place one put slightly in front of the other to promote better balance.

  • To save yourselves and others from slips and falls:
    • Keep all surfaces clear of litter, debris, and excessive materials.
    • Only work on surfaces that are sturdy, level, clean and dry. 
    • Immediately report and/or clean surfaces that have grease, water, oil, or chemical spills.
    • If you need to cross a slippery surface, take small steps, putting your whole foot down slowly, toes pointed outwards.
    • If you fall, roll as you land to reduce the shock and blow.

  • If you need to cross a slippery surface, take small steps, putting your whole foot down slowly, toes pointed outwards.

Smoke and Haze Safety

Seattle’s air quality is the worst it has ever been because of wildfires. The fires have caused a smokey haze that covers the Puget Sound area, causing health concerns for everyone. Health experts and the Department of Health are suggesting a few tips to stay safe and healthy.

  • Use a face mask if desired. This reduces the intake of particulate matter.
  • Avoid exercising outdoors and opt for an indoor gym with ventilation systems.
  • Stay hydrated and wear sunscreen – filtered sun rays can be harmful.
  • Keep windows and doors closed and if possible run your AC unit for fresh air intake. Using a HEPA filter with charcoal will help reduce particles in the air.
  • Avoid lighting candles, using fireplaces or gas stoves to prevent more gas in the air. Do not vacuum as it will stir particles.
  • Individuals with asthma, emphysema or other lung problems should consult a doctor and take necessary measures to ensure negative health problems are avoided.

Fire Extinguisher Safety

Knowing how to use a fire extinguisher to put out small fires and know when to and when not to use it is important. The following steps should be followed when responding to incipient stage fire:

  • Sound the fire alarm and call the fire department, if appropriate.
  • Identify a safe evacuation path before approaching the fire. Do not allow the fire, heat, or smoke to come between you and your evacuation path.
  • Select the appropriate type of fire extinguisher.
  • Discharge the extinguisher within its effective range using the P.A.S.S. technique (pull, aim, squeeze, sweep).
  • Back away from an extinguished fire in case it flames up again.
  • Evacuate immediately if the extinguisher is empty and the fire is not out.
  • Evacuate immediately if the fire progresses beyond the incipient stage.

Operating Heavy Equipment

The use of equipment like excavators, graders, rollers, cranes and bulldozers are most likely used on your project every day. This equipment should only be operated by those who have the training and skills necessary to operate it safely.

When you’re working around heavy equipment always be aware of the location of the equipment. Remember that the operator can’t always see you. They may not even be aware that you are there. OSHA standards require that all bi-directional earthmoving equipment have a back-up alarm. In order for the alarm to work, you must be aware of what it means and know how to get out of the way.

Never cross in front of a piece of equipment unless the path is clear and the operator signals you to move. If you’re operating heavy equipment always be aware of your surroundings and remember the following:

  • Keep your windshield and side windows clean
  • When refueling equipment, always turn it off and keep a fire extinguisher handy
  • Operate the equipment according to manufacturer’s guidelines
  • Report defective or broken parts to your supervisor or mechanic

If you don’t feel comfortable or are concerned always talk to your supervisor and report problems.

Preventing Slips and Falls

Every day cleaners and liquids can cause the worst slips and falls. Grease and oil are among a list of things that should always be reported and properly cleaned on a jobsite and thoroughly cleaned at home.

On a jobsite always remember to:

  • report and clean up spills or leaks
  • keep aisle an exits clear of items
  • consider installing mirrors and warning signs to help with blind spots
  • replace worn or damaged floor

Certain types of floors soak up liquids differently. Remember to read the spill directions on at home cleaning and work related liquids and be aware of the proper cleaning protocol.

Wearing Personal Protective Equipment

Hazards exist in every workplace in many different forms: sharp edges, falling objects, flying sparks, chemicals, noise and a myriad of other potentially dangerous situations. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires that employers protect their employees from workplace hazards that can cause injury.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) are items such as gloves, foot and eye protection, protective hearing devices, heard hats, respirators and full body suits. If you feel like someone isn’t wearing the proper PPE gear, talk to them and ask your supervisor about the proper gear.

If you’re visiting a project site and unsure what you should wear, ask the person overseeing your visit. PPE isn’t just to protect the employers, it’s important to follow the guidelines for safety for everyone.

Bumps & Bruises

Summer provides the perfect time for families to play outside and sometimes that means bumps and bruises occur. Not only is it important on a jobsite to know what to do, but it can also help at home. Remember the simple acronym R.I.C.E in those situations.

  • Rest
  • Ice the injury
  • Compress the area
  • Elevate to reduce swelling

Heat Safety

Hot weather is here and not only as workers are we are exposed to hot and humid conditions, but our families spend more time outside during the summer. Keep these tips in mind to help you identify signs of heat-enabling injuries or illnesses. To prevent these remember to take breaks often and drink plenty of water. Find a cool shaded area and stay dry from sweat and moist clothes.

Ladder Safety

Before you step on a ladder, you must understand ladder safety.  You owe it to yourself and your loved ones not to gamble with your life; but every time you step onto a ladder you’re betting your life on its integrity and your knowledge.

Here are some steps you can take to stack the odds in your favor:

  • Choose the right type of ladder for the task.
  • Use wood or fiberglass ladders when working near electrical lines.
  • Keep all types of ladders at least 20 feet away from powerlines.
  • Handle all ladders carefully.  A large ladder can be tricky to handle.  Don’t hesitate to ask for help.
  • Inspect ladders should be inspected frequently for damage or deterioration. 
  • Keep the areas around the top and bottom of a ladder clear to avoid tripping hazards and falling objects.
  • Be sure to set a ladder on solid footing before attempting to climb.
  • Never lean a stepladder against a wall.  Use it only when it is completely open and the spreaders are locked.
  • When using a straight or extension ladder, be sure to use the four-to-one (4:1) ratio, which means that for every four feet in height, you move the base out one foot.
  • Take special care when ascending and descending a ladder; always face the ladder.
  • When climbing a ladder, make sure both of your hands are free so you can firmly grip the side rails.
  • Never slide down a ladder.
  • Make sure your ladder extends 36 inches above the landing.
  • Don’t use ladders horizontally as platforms, runways, or scaffolds.

Store ladders securely and protect them from weather when they are not in use.

Water Safety

Temperatures are on the rise, which means increased swimming in pools and lakes. Remember these tips to stay safe while participating in water sports or activities.

  • Adults should always be actively supervising children while in the water
  • Always swim with a buddy in an area unsupervised by lifeguards or in open water with boats
  • Know how to help someone struggling to swim without endangering yourself, when to call 911 and when and how to perform CPR
  • If participating in activities requiring life vests or paddles, be sure to seek out proper training


When the weather is nice we tend to grill outside for BBQ’s and holidays. Remember these simple tips to keep you and your family safe while grilling.

  • Never grill in a house, tent or camper
  • Make sure the grill stays away from overhanging branches, decks and other flammable objects
  • Never add charcoal or starter fluid when the coals have already been ignited