Still Plenty of Winter Driving to Go!

David-Darnley Posted by Dave Darnley, MS, CHSP

We're not quite out of the woods yet...there is still plenty of winter driving ahead, especially in the Northeast. So regardless of what the groundhog had to say yesterday, let's make sure we take proper precautions to stay safe in any forthcoming winter driving conditions.

Safe Winter Driving Tips:

  • Do not use cruise control if roads are icy, could become icy, or there is significant rain or standing water on the roadways. Loss of control could result as the car attempts to maintain the set speed.
  • Slow down in snow / ice conditions! Maintaining vehicle control becomes more difficult as the road conditions deteriorate, and this worsens with increasing speed. Stopping distance becomes much longer as well.
  • Use caution on bridges, overpasses, and highway exit ramps. These surfaces can freeze more quickly or are often not plowed and salted as frequently as the major roads.
  • Avoid making abrupt moves, such as quick braking or acceleration.
  • Track the weather before you leave to know what may be ahead and plan accordingly. Remember the old saying: Ice and Snow, Take it Slow!

Lastly, as the snow begins to melt there may be an accumulation of water on the road. This can be just as dangerous as ice as your car can hydroplane. This occurs when water builds up between the tire and the road resulting in momentary control loss. Higher speeds and tread style and wear are the most significant factors. To learn more about hydroplaning, and how to prevent it, take a look at information available from SafeMotorist.

For additional safe winter driving tips check out the online resource from the Auto Insurance Center, or previous posts from the Safety Net.

Safety Wars

The Galactic Empire has its priorities all wrong, and I'm not just talking about its proclivity for the dark side. With needlessly hazardous and inefficient workplaces, it’s no wonder they haven’t been able to bring order to the galaxy or quash rebellions. Not only do they repeatedly build astronomically (pun intended) expensive Death Stars with the same fatal flaws, they seem to be completely blind to the simplest practical engineering controls like guard rails.

Just take a look at what the average Stormtrooper is wearing, you couldn’t have a better example of an over reliance on personal protective equipment (PPE) when anyone who follows this blog knows PPE is always a last resort. In a galaxy fraught with peril, you can't always eliminate a hazard but engineering and administrative controls can go a long way in creating a safe work environment where employees feel valued and aren't just waiting to become "famous singers" as the joke goes in Family Guy. Safety shouldn't be a battle between employees and employers.

It's clear the Galactic Empire needs to change its company culture, but does yours? Maybe the choking hazard in your workplace isn't named Darth Vader, but workplace violence isn't something limited to a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away. Ask yourself, “Where does safety rank at my company?” and "Who are the safety leaders in my company?"

You have the makings of an epic failure if safety is viewed as the responsibility of just one person or as a separate compliance task rather than safety being the responsibility of everyone to integrate into every task. Hazards arise when complacency sets in and personal responsibility is abdicated. As Obi-Wan Kenobi said, "Who's more foolish? The fool or the fool who follows him?"

Safety training is not something to be done once upon hire and forgotten, it is an ongoing process that continuously improves the workforce and workplace. As Yoda said, "If you end your training now–if you choose the quick and easy path, as Vader did–you will become an agent of evil." And an agent for unnecessary harm to yourself and your coworkers.

Top Seven Safety Net Posts of 2015

Last year over thirty thousand readers enjoyed our Safety Net posts. In order to provide the most helpful information, we look to see what interests our readers the most and found these seven posts to be the most viewed in 2015:

How Much Is Too Much To Lift? - Scott Valorose says it's not simply a question of strength but what our capacity is over time without undue fatigue or injury. The answer depends on several factors such as the size of the load, the load’s center, its stability, or whether it has handles or not (Valorose also recommends specific manual lifting limits).

I Want My PPE - Greg LaRochelle says that although the employer is responsible for providing most personal protective equipment (PPE) to the employee at no cost (Greg also lists the exceptions), it is still the employee’s responsibility to inspect it, clean it, store it properly, and most importantly wear it.

Frankly, My Dear, I Don't Give A Damn! - Randy Klatt offers a fun look at what some of the most famous movie quotes can teach us about workplace safety.

Preventing Heat Stress in the Workplace - Tonya Hawker describes the most common types of heat-related illnesses and how to avoid their contributing factors.

Three Tips for Using a Mouse - Scott Valorose's tips on proper location and use of your computer mouse can eliminate common contributors to aches and pains.

Why the Scaleni Deserve a Good Stretch - With today's prevalence of computer and cell phone use leading to a forward head posture, Greg LaRochelle describes how neck stretches can help avoid thoracic outlet syndrome with pain exhibited in the hand, forearm, upper arm, or pectoral region. The symptoms of pain in the hand can be similar to that of carpal tunnel syndrome with aching, burning, numbness, and a pins and needles sensation or paresthesia.

Tis' The Season To Get Injured - Eric Grant tells us why the holidays can be such a dangerous time.

Thank you for your readership and interest in workplace safety. MEMIC will continue to assist your efforts in 2016 with many more informative and entertaining tips regarding health and safety.