Monday, November 23, 2015

Avoid The BLACK Friday Injury BLUES


It’s approaching that time of year when we get to take a short, but needed, break from our busy lives to sit down at a table with your friends and family, be thankful for all we have, maybe watch a football game or two, and celebrate Thanksgiving together.  After everyone is full and the leftovers are put away it starts feeling a little less like Thanksgiving as people start to look at the latest deals that they will be able to get the following day on Black Friday.


I personally do not partake in the shopping on Black Friday, but as the busiest shopping day of the year, I know many people do.  Although this day can be fun, it can also be very dangerous.  It is important to be prepared and put your safety,and the safety of others, above any deal in the store.  There isn’t a deal that is worth getting injured over.

One of the biggest potentials for injury is the minute the doors open up and people start to push and shove to get in faster.  It seems like every year you hear about someone getting seriously injured or even killed as people flood in and trample someone that fell.  If you are waiting in line for the doors to open and there is a huge crowd, I’d advise moving back in the line a bit. If there is a chance of someone pushing you over, it’s not worth it.  When walking with the crowd, keep an eye on your feet and wear good shoes to prevent from tripping. 

There are many other bad things that could happen that are not due to physical injury.  Black Friday is the busiest day for shopping and also one of the biggest day for thieves.  In the busy hustle and bustle of shopping it is easy to lose track of a bag or two.  There are people out there that are waiting for you so look the other way and swoop in and take something you just bought.  Not only that, but people will watch to see if you are using cash or cards.  If you are using cash you are much more likely for someone to try to pick-pocket you.  Keep your money close and protected.  Using cards is usually a better plan because they can be canceled if needed.  When putting your bags back into your car, make sure to put them in the trunk so people don’t get tempted as they walk past your car. 


Usually shoppers don’t brave Black Friday alone.  They usually go in groups.  When you are in a group make sure to have a plan if you are splitting up or accidentally get split up, as phones might not be as reliable in the crowded shopping centers.  Setting a meeting place at a certain time before hand is a very good idea so everyone can get back together.  This is especially important if younger kids are going to be shopping with you.  Another helpful hint is memorizing what your group members are wearing so you can identify them easier from a distance. 

I’ll be at home this year as the stores open up on Friday, but to all those who are going out to get the deals, remember, no deal is worth getting hurt over.  Stay safe this BLACK Friday!

Dale Bromenshenkel
Demand Generation Specialist, Lift’n Buddy, a Southworth Company

Monday, November 2, 2015

Winter Travel Safety


With the falling of leaves, and the brisk cool breeze in the air, it can only mean one thing: winter is upon us! Now although us in North Dakota are aware of many conditions that winter brings, it is always good to review winter travel safety around this time of the year no matter where one lives. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) states the three P’s of safe winter driving are preparing for the trip; protecting yourself; and preventing crashes on the road! These are important to keep in mind before taking off on any trip during the winter weather season.

·         When it comes to this time of the year, it is always a good idea to get your car serviced or checked out for any needed repairs. Some other good things to check for are the battery, tire thread and pressure, and windshield wipers. Another thing to keep your windows clear during the winter months is to replace your windshield wiper fluid with no-freeze fluid for the winter months, and be sure to check the antifreeze levels as well so that the vehicle is all set for the cold weather.

·         It is also a good idea to have on hand a variety of items if one becomes stranded, i.e. flashlight (with extra batteries), jumper cables, battery powered radio, blankets or sleeping bags, first aid kit, shovel, tow rope, food and water to name a few.

·         If the vehicle has come to a stop or the car is stalled, stay in the car do not overexert yourself. Also, one can put bright markers on antenna or windows. If one needs to start the car to stay warm, make sure the exhaust is cleared and run it just enough to retain warmth, not in excess in an open well ventilated area.

Protect Yourself
·         As always, make sure to buckle up yourself and others (including proper use of child safety seats). It is also good practice to never place a rear facing infant seat in front of an air bag, and to make sure children 12 and under are in the back seat, especially during winter travel.

Prevent Crashes
·         In winter conditions, slow down and make sure to increase distances between cars. This is especially important as stopping distances can increase greatly in wintery conditions where ice can be present and cause a danger. Always keep your eyes on the road for pedestrians walking. Make sure to get plenty of rest before the trip and rotate drivers if at all possible every couple of hours.

Winter driving can be very dangerous, as storms can strike with very little or no warning in advance. However, by refreshing yourself with some of these “cool” tips that OSHA provides, they can help make your trips much safer and hopefully prevent motor vehicle injuries due to winter storms!  

Thank you for your time and attention.  Let’s make it safe this Monday.

Kolton Larson
Demand Generation Specialist, Lift’n Buddy, a Southworth Company

Monday, October 12, 2015

'Tis The Season; FLU SEASON

As I’m writing this I look out the window and can’t help but notice the leaves changing color on the trees from the lush green of summer to the orange, yellow, and brown of fall.  The trees themselves are looking a lot more bare than normal as the leaves quickly vanish from their branches and get blown around by that cool fall breeze.  We all know this season all too well up north.  It comes with colder weather, warmer clothes, and those pumpkin spice drinks that everyone seems to like.  This season also marks the start of the cold and flu season.

One of the main reasons the cold and flu spread so much this time of year is that we are spending much more time inside with others.  So what can you do to protect yourself against the flu?  According to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) there are six easy things that can help prevent the spread of the flu virus.

1.    Avoid close contact
·         This is pretty simple; just keep your distance from someone who may be sick.   If you yourself are sick, be respectful toward others and kindly avoid getting to close or touching them.
2.    Stay home when you are sick
·         This is an expansion of tip number one.  When you can feel yourself coming down with the flu, take some time off or stay home from school.  Your co-workers or classmates will really appreciate it.
3.    Cover your mouth and nose
·         I don’t see this as often as I should, but when you have to sneeze or cough, try to use a tissue or at least use your inner elbow.  Do not use your hands to cover your cough, which will only help spread the flu.
4.    Clean your hands
·         This is a big one and probably the one you hear about the most.  During cold and flu season and in general, good hand washing practices will help prevent you from getting sick as well as help prevent others from getting sick.
5.    Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth 
·         When you come into contact with the flu virus it is usually through touching something with your hands.   You can become sick when your hand touches something that allows the virus to get inside you, such as your eyes, nose or mouth.  So along with handwashing avoiding touching these areas will greatly reduce your chances of getting the flu.
6.    Practice other good health habits.
·         This tip is pretty broad, but all things stated here will help keep you healthy this winter.  Clean and disinfect commonly touched surfaces, be active, get plenty of sleep, manage your stress, drink plenty of water, and eat right.

The CDC also mentions getting a flu shot.  There is no way of knowing how helpful it will be as the flu virus is constantly mutating, but if it could save you from feeling miserable for a few days it might be worth the time, effort and money to get one.  Stay healthy this winter and as always make it a safe Monday!

Dale Bromenshenkel
Demand Generation Specialist, Lift’n Buddy, a Southworth Company

Monday, October 5, 2015

Exercise In The Workplace


With the advancement in technology that our generation has been subject to, it is easy to see how our lives have grown into a more “comfortable” way of life. Processes and tasks that once required physical work and time have been made easier and can be completed with the touch of a finger, literally! Although convenient and efficient, this newfound lifestyle is taking a toll on health problems as the number of office workers grows. By having opportunities available at work, it can lead to greater health in all employees, increase job performance and also save significant health care costs.

Exercise is important as it has multiple benefits on not only our physical side but mental as well. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that physical programs:

·         Reduce feelings of depression
·         Improve stamina and strength
·         Reduce obesity and particularly when combined with diet
·         Reduce risks of cardiovascular disease (high blood pressure, cholesterol, stroke, and type 2 diabetes)

In addition, physical activity can lift one’s mood naturally as studies have proven that exercise can relieve anxiety and depression, boost energy, and promote a greater sense of well being. An employer may not have any idea where to begin when implementing a workplace physical activity program. Luckily, the American Council on Exercise (ACE) provides steps on how to get the ball rolling on promoting physical activity at work:

1.    Conduct a workplace walkability assessment to ensure a safe and pleasant environment for walking.
2.    Offer secure bicycle storage and showers for employees who actively commute.
3.    Implement flexible scheduling where feasible —making it easier for employees to carve out time for exercise while juggling work and home responsibilities.
4.    Make stairwells more appealing with paint, artwork, and motivational signage.
5.    Negotiate a corporate discount with local gyms; low-cost gym membership benefits are sometimes available through medical benefit vendors.
6.    Encourage workers to take brief, 2-3 minute fitness breaks throughout the day for brisk walking, stretching, or stair climbing.

7.    Offer free or reduced-cost pedometers to employees. Run a simple steps-per-week team competition to drum up peer support for increasing daily steps. No money? Invite your health benefit vendors or local businesses to sponsor this purchase in exchange for co-branding.
8.    Sponsor or promote employee participation in community events like 5K or 10K runs, basketball leagues, or charity walk-a-thons.
9.    Organize lunchtime walking, running, bicycling, or yoga groups.
10.  Encourage walking 1:1 meetings.
11.  Make standing or pacing vs. sitting at long meetings an acceptable option.
12.  Encourage workers to be active at their workstations as much as possible — by stretching, standing while on the phone or pumping out a few desk pushups while viewing a web conference.
ACE further states, “Businesses already have a significant investment in each worker in terms of hiring, training, compensation, and benefits packages.  Driving a culture of physical activity helps protect that investment — and maximize the returns in cost savings, cost avoidance, productivity and human capital.” This is extremely true, and by implementing a standard of physical activity into your workplace, it will help boost employee morale, productivity, and not to mention… health! Consider implementing a workplace physical activity program in your business today, and see all the benefits that it has to offer!

Thank you for your time and attention.  Let’s make it safe this Monday.

Kolton Larson
Demand Generation Specialist, Lift’n Buddy, a Southworth Company

Monday, September 28, 2015

PPE: The POWER of Personal Protective Equipment


In the hierarchy of safety precautions in the workplace, personal protective equipment is your last line of defense to protect against potential injury.  Although there are four other more effective guidelines to follow, elimination, substitution, engineer controls, and administrative controls, personal protective equipment is still very important after all those other precautions are taken as well as possible.

Personal protective equipment or PPE for short is anything that you add or wear on your person to provide a last line of defense to prevent injury.  Depending on your work environment personal protective equipment may be used to protect against physical hazards, heat, cold, electrical arcs, airborne toxins, light, radiation, or others.  No matter the application PPE is very important to wear to keep you safe.

The most common types of personal protective equipment are items such as safety glasses, ear plugs, steel toed boots, gloves, hard hats, and masks.  It is necessary for employers to provide their employees with these items or anything other PPE items.  Not only is it important to provide these items, it is also important to stress and require everyone to wear them when interacting with potentially dangerous equipment or dangerous environments.

While working my summer internship my employer has strict guidelines in place about personal protective equipment.  Anyone on the shop floor had to be wearing steel toes, long pants, and safety glasses.  Everyone held everyone else responsible too, meaning if you saw someone not using their PPE you confronted them nicely and reminded them to put it back on if they happened to forget.  With this combination of employer and employee responsibility to wear your PPE lead to everyone staying safe and uninjured.  

Personal protective equipment may be something that is slightly annoying or not as comfortable as not wearing it, but if you are ever in a situation where you avoided injury because of your PPE, you will be very thankful you had it on.  These situations can come out of nowhere, something falling on your head or foot, shrapnel hitting your eye, or a loud noise, that is why it is always important to have your PPE on and be ready if anything were 
to happen.

Thank you for your time and attention.  Let’s make it safe this Monday!

Dale Bromenshenkel
Demand Generation Specialist, Lift’n Buddy, a Southworth Company

Monday, July 13, 2015

Power Line Safety & Awareness


Image result for power line safety

There is no question that electricity powers the world around us. It provides energy for our lights, televisions, a wide range of tools, and even our cars to name a few! These are things that we commonly take for granted and may become blind to the dangers of electricity over time. With so many people and workers outdoors, not fully understanding the dangers of high voltage power lines or failing to notice them can become a fatal mistake.

Every year, fifty-five constructions workers are killed by electrocutions from overhead and underground power lines according to the Electronic Library of Construction Occupational Safety & Health (ELCOSH). This doesn’t include the hundreds of others that are injured across other industries or in the general public. They go further and state that the average claim cost for power line electrocutions is well over $550,000. It is crucial to be aware of power lines and the dangers associated with them in order to prevent serious injury (and cost) to yourself and others!

The greatest danger is when one comes in contact with an overhead power line, the ones that run through the neighborhoods as well as the jobsites that we work at. There is a common belief that power lines don’t carry enough power to hurt oneself or that they are insulated. However, power lines do carry enough energy to kill and are NOT insulated any more than for weather protection. If one touches the line, coated or not, there is a serious risk for death or serious injury. Also, a significant amount of injuries occur on the jobsite when heavy machinery (cranes, drilling rigs, backhoes, etc.) comes into contact with a power line. The most effective way to prevent this from happening is to inspect the job site for the power lines and surroundings before utilizing any machinery, and making sure all operators are at a safe working clearance and constantly aware of their surroundings.

As many people prepare for spring work this time of the year, it is also important to be aware of the common dangers within neighborhoods. The biggest thing before starting any work or anything is to “LOOK UP!” It is crucial to always be aware of power line locations when using long metal equipment such as tree trimmers and ladders. Always lower the equipment before moving it and try your best to carry them horizontally. Never go up on the roof when the weather is not stable, and always use caution when installing TV dishes, cleaning gutters, repairs, etc. If there is a need to trim trees near power lines, call a professional tree trimmer as they are trained in power line safety and will keep you out of risk. Also, before performing any digging it is advised to call the local underground utility locator as it can save you from serious harm and the service is free!

Another one of the big myths in regards to power line safety is during vehicle crashes when the vehicle comes in contact with the power lines. The common belief is to escape from the danger, however, it is important to STAY in the car and call for help. If one must escape from the car due to a fire or other risks, jump clear away from the vehicle and never come in contact with the ground while still being with in contact with the car as this is where electrocution can occur.
If you witness someone that is in danger after coming in contact with a power line, do not leave your vehicle to approach the accident until after the utility company has turned off the power once you call for help. It is important that you wait for trained assistance to arrive, or you could become an additional victim in need of rescue! Remember, before starting any outdoors work this spring, “LOOK UP!” to be aware, and not a victim.

Thank you for your time and attention.  Let’s make it safe this Monday!

Kolton Larson
Demand Generation Specialist, Lift’n Buddy, a Southworth Company

Monday, June 29, 2015

Reduce Material Handling Injuries...NOW!


Material handling injuries are very common among construction workers and other workers that have to do similar physical work.  Back, hip, and shoulder injuries are commonly associated with workers that have to handle materials.  The job the workers do needs to be done, but immediate and long term safety are very important to keep in mind while working.  Proper lifting and carrying procedures will help dramatically with reducing injuries in the long term while working. 

Workers that have to lift heavy objects, awkwardly shaped objects, or repetitively lift objects are at higher risk for injury.  Many construction workers have to move and carry materials such as concrete blocks, lumber, sheetrock, cement mixes, shingles and many other things.

The back is one of the main places that worked are injured when handling materials.  The back can be injured when lifting or carrying items.  It is important to bend at your knees and lift with your legs when handling materials that are heavy.  When lifting things like long wooden boards or sheets of metal or sheetrock using a partner is highly advised. 

Accidents causing injury in the workplaceThe shoulders are another common area that material workers may be injured.  This is due to them holding things above their heads like boards or sheetrock when fastening them to the ceiling or toward the top of the wall.  Shoulders can also be injured when you are moving heavy objects with one arm repeatedly, for example laying concreate blocks.  When workers lay concreate blocks they usually grab the blocks off the ground and lift them with one hand to the desired location.  That doesn’t seem like a problem, but doing it over and over could strain the muscles that make up your shoulder. To reduce shoulder injuries involving lifting materials over your head, a lift is advised so you don’t have to hold it and fasten it at the same time.  To reduce shoulder injuries when laying brick or other similar jobs that require repetitive shoulder movements it is suggested that you place materials close to where you will be using them so you don’t have to move too far or spin around to grab them.  You can also have the materials lifted up on a table or an automated lift so the workers don’t have to bend down all the time. It is also important to take a short break every once in a while to rest the joints and muscles.

Manual handling injuriesInjuries can also occur when workers are moving materials to higher locations such as onto roofs while using a ladder or lifts.  When you are climbing ladders don’t carry heaving things with you that could cause you to become off balance or cause you not to have both hands on the ladder while climbing.  Also, making sure the ladder is sturdy and will not fall as you make your way up it.  When lifting really heavy objects a crane or other machine lift is suggested for ease and safety of workers.

To help reduce some of the injuries above regular stretching of legs, arms, neck, and back will help strengthen the muscles and lower the risk for injury.  There are many sites that demonstrate stretching and other workouts to keep your muscles loose and strong.  

Thank you for your time and attention.  Let’s make it safe this Monday.

Dale Bromenshenkel
Demand Generation Specialist, Lift’n Buddy, a Southworth Company