Safety

How Cold is Cold?

OSHA. The cold stress equation. 1998.

Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow on Groundhog’s Day and says we’re going to have another six weeks of winter! That means many can expect cold weather through February and into March. How much of this cold can we really handle?

In terms of safety, there are limits to how much cold a person can handle at any given time. While it may vary slightly from person to person, the general rule of thumb is 15 minutes inside for every hour spent outside working in the cold to prevent cold stress like hypothermia, frost bite, trench foot, chilblains, and angina. As the temperature drops, however, these time frames need to change to prevent cold stresses.

Outside workers should consider three key factors of temperature, wind, and moisture when determining how much time outside is safe. OSHA and NIOSH have both created Cold Stress Equation guides to reference for more details in terms of temperature, wind, and safe time frames to be outside.

Learn more about cold stress, cold stress symptoms, and how cold is too cold by listening to Kevin King on People’s Law Talk.

For more information on cold stress and safety, review these articles:

Want to hear more talks from Peter and Kevin King? Tune into WCIS 1010 AM Columbus, IN the first and third Friday of every month for People’s Law Talk.

Fire Alert: House Fires and Cooking Dangers

It’s almost time for feasts and celebrations of all the things we hold dear. At the same time many will be celebrating all they have, some will be losing their material possessions and those they love. Thanksgiving Day is the leading day for house fires.

While there is an average of 490 cooking fires per day in the United States, on Thanksgiving that number jumps to approximately 1800! That’s 3.5 times the daily average. The day before Thanksgiving as well as Christmas also see a jump to approximately 850 cooking fires. 

The majority of Thanksgiving day cooking fires start on range tops or cooking tops, including ovens. Another leading cause of Thanksgiving day fires are Turkey Fryers. While popular for a delicious turkey, they are the leading cause of extensive fires on Thanksgiving. Due to the use of hot oil, lack of a regulator, and lack of stability, turkey fryers can very easily cause a catastrophic fire. Underwriters Laboratory will not certify a turkey fryer for consumers. Watch the video below to learn more about their research and the risks that come with turkey fryers.

Listen in below for more cooking safety information. Kevin King discusses cooking fires, turkey fryers, and how to extinguish fires properly to keep your family safe and thankful during the holidays.

For more information on kitchen fires and safety for your Thanksgiving, review these documents:

NFPA Cooking Fire Safety Infographic
NFPA Thanksgiving Safety Tips
NFIRS Snapshot: Thanksgiving Day Fires in Residential Buildings
NFPA Report Home Fires Involving Cooking Equipment

Want to hear more talks from Peter and Kevin King? Tune into WCIS 1010 AM Columbus, IN the first and third Friday of every month for People’s Law Talk.

Looking Up: An Eye on Ladder Safety

Gutter cleaning and holiday decorating seasons are upon us. These quintessential fall and winter outdoor home projects have one thing in common, a lot of ladder usage by homeowners like yourself.

With more than 500,000 people treated in emergency departments each year due to ladder falls, it’s clear ladders pose safety hazards of which many consumers are not aware. In the construction industry alone, there are approximately 115 deaths annually due to falls from ladders. Falls like this cost society more than 24 billion dollars annually for medical bills, legal costs, lost wages, etc.

For many though, ladders are a necessary part of life to complete work and chores. Even with the safety hazards they pose, ladders will continue to be used so it’s up to manufacturers to design safer, easier to use equipment. Consumers like yourself should also know how to choose and use the correct equipment for the job.

Listen in as Kevin King discusses the hazards ladders pose, what designs to look for when choosing a ladder, and how to safely use your ladder.

For more information on choosing a ladder and ladder safety:

Visit AmericanLadderInstitute.org
Read OSHA Report 3625

Also, don’t forget to download the Niosh Ladder Safety App before you begin using your ladder.

Want to hear more talks from Peter and Kevin King? Tune into WCIS 1010 AM Columbus, IN the first and third Friday of every month for People’s Law Talk.

Railroad Right-of-Ways and People

It seems simple enough. Train right-of-ways are for trains. They allow trains to safely pass through towns and cities, over well-traveled streets, safely, without stopping. But, even though the name even specifies they’re for trains, many pedestrians have taken to using these crossings to access train tracks, creating very dangerous situations.

While vehicle collisions with trains have decreased over the last 20 years, the same cannot be said for pedestrian incidents. In 2012, 850 people suffered casualties while on railroad right-of-ways.  With pedestrians accessing railroad crossings and increased train traffic around the country, this number will continue to rise.

Even with posted signs, people will continue to access railroad tracks because they find it’s convenient and they don’t perceive any danger in it. Signs cannot be the answer to preventing serious injuries and/or death because of this human factor. Behavioral changes, like getting people to not cross railroad tracks or getting people to use seat belts, can take decades.

Listen in as Kevin King discusses this growing nationwide issue, how it’s affecting his local community in Columbus, IN, and what can be done to prevent a disaster.

Want to hear more talks from Peter and Kevin King? Tune into WCIS 1010 AM Columbus, IN the first and third Friday of every month for People’s Law Talk.

Early Bird or Night Owl: Fatigue and Worker Safety

Both early birds and night owls have specific circadian rhythm that affect when they’re sleepy or tired and when they’re energized and ready to work. Back at the turn of the 20th century, people followed these rhythms, sleeping on average 9 hours a day, living and working during regular daylight hours.

Now society is going all day and night thanks to the spread of electricity and technology. With this alteration to cycles, there has been an increase in fatigue, defined as a body’s response to sleepiness or prolonged exertion.

In our 24/7 world, 38 percent of workers sleep less than seven hours a night. The lack of sleep results in increased fatigue and a 13 percent increase in risk of death or serious injury. Ultimately, fatigue related US losses cost almost $2000 per worker each year with a loss of 1.2 million work days a year.

Listen in as Kevin King discusses this pattern of fatigue, the risks resulting from fatigue, and risk management practices for fatigued workers.

Looking for further resources for fatigue management? Visit the National Safety Council’s website.

Want to hear more talks from Peter and Kevin King? Tune into WCIS 1010 AM Columbus, IN the first and third Friday of every month for People’s Law Talk.

Did You See That? A Cell Phone Distracted World

cell-phone-userQuick, where is your cell phone? A pretty accurate guess for most readers is your cell phone is within arm’s reach, if not in your pocket or your hands. It probably has at least some portion of your attention right now, even as you’re reading this.

With the average person checking their phone 150 times a day, it’s clear that cell phones are ingrained in human behavior. The changes cell phones have made in daily lives has lead to a new, growing safety concern in the form of distracted walking.

Attention (the ability to concentrate on an activity for a prolonged period of time without getting distracted) is shrinking at an alarming rate, resulting in many unintentional injuries. From 2010 to 2011, there were more than 11,000 injuries due to distracted walking! Fifty-two percent of distracted walking injuries occur at home, with 54 percent to people 40 and younger, and nearly 80 percent of these injuries are due to falls. Instead of paying attention to where we are and what we’re doing, we’re trying to multitask and paying the price for it. Need more proof? Watch this video:

The human brain was not designed for divided attention (completing two tasks requiring the same concentration at the same time). When a cell phone user tries to walk at the same time, they’re missing out on significant cues, ultimately walking off course, stepping into traffic, or missing out on what’s going on around them. In a study conducted at Western Washington University, approximately 75 percent of cell phone users suffered from inattention blindness, failing to notice an out of place unicylcing clown in the square where they were walking. Just as inattention blindness contributes to vehicle collisions, it has also contributed to the rise in unintentional injuries from distracted walking.

To fix a safety issue, the typical steps are identifying the hazard and then:

  1. Eliminate the hazard when possible,
  2. Guard against hazards that cannot be eliminated
  3. Warn for hazards that can’t be eliminated or guarded against
  4. Change human behavior when there are no other options.

The hazard of distracted walking poses problems for the traditional eliminate, guard, and warn against options. Cell phones cannot be eliminated from every day life. Options to guard against the dangers of distracted walking are limited. Some restaurants are knocking out cell phone coverage to increase social interaction and minimize distractions but it is not a viable solution for public streets. Warnings can be sent via text/pop up messages but with distracted attention on cell phones, most will not be noticed or will be ignored.

This leaves us with the only, last option, to change human behavior. This is the least effective and slowest moving option for safety. Just look how long it took for regular seat belt usage to be the normal! Teaching ourselves to stop texting, tweeting, sharing, posting, and searching the internet while walking is going to a long, drawn out road. Abraham Lincoln couldn’t foresee the cell phone issue but he recognized human nature. “Human action can be modified to some extent but human nature cannot be changed,” Lincoln said.

Listen in as Kevin King discusses the issue of distracted walking and how it relates to our safety on People’s Law Talk.

It’s a newer, twenty-first century problem, but the statistics and facts on the distractions of cell phones, including the distracted walking hazard, are already rolling in. Check out these resources for more details on the issue:

Want to hear more talks from Peter and Kevin King? Tune into WCIS 1010 AM Columbus, IN the first and third Friday of every month for People’s Law Talk.