Get to your Thanksgiving feast safe and sound

Buckle Up – Every Trip. Every Time.

By Erik Harden, BWC Public Information Officer

For many of us Thanksgiving includes piling into a car and travelling to visit family and friends. In fact, Thanksgiving weekend is the year’s busiest travel weekend.

Whether you’re driving across the street or across the country to reach your Thanksgiving feast, you should always wear your seat belt.

With increased traffic brings the increased possibility of traffic crashes. That’s why we’re partnering with the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to share this important lifesaving reminder: Buckle Up – Every Trip. Every Time.

During the 2016 Thanksgiving weekend*, 341 people died in motor vehicle crashes nationwide. Tragically, 49 percent of those killed had not buckled up. Nighttime proved even more deadly, with 55 percent of Thanksgiving weekend crashes occurring at night.

Much like drunk driving, these deaths represent needless tragedies for families across America. The simple click of a seat belt could have prevented these fatalities. Research shows that wearing a seat belt is one of the simplest things you can do to stay safe when you’re traveling in a vehicle, especially during busy travel periods like Thanksgiving.

The NHTSA estimates that proper seat belt use reduces the risk of fatal injury to front seat passengers by 45 percent, and the risk of moderate to serious injury by 50 percent. In 2016, approximately 14,668 people survived crashes because they were buckled up. If everyone had worn their seat belts that year, an additional 2,456 lives could have been saved. NHTSA’s research also shows:

  • Males are more likely to be unbuckled than females in fatal crashes. In 2016, 52 percent of males who died in crashes were not buckled up at the time of the crash, compared to 40 percent of females.
  • Younger drivers are also at greater risk of being unbuckled. In fact, the 13- to 15-year-old and 18- to 34-year-old age groups had the highest percentages (62 percent and 59 percent, respectively) of occupants killed who were not wearing their seat belts at the time of the crash.

Seat belt use should be a no-brainer. We know that regular seat belt use vastly reduces fatalities. In the spirit of Thanksgiving, let’s be grateful for the most basic vehicle technology that has – without a doubt –  saved the most lives.

We all want to see our friends and family arrive safe and sound to the Thanksgiving table. So, remember to Buckle Up – Every Trip. Every Time.

For additional tips to make your holiday road trip safer, visit our BeSafeOhio site.

*6 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 23, to 5:59 a.m. Monday, Nov. 28



Contractor safety: When you bring outside people in to do work

By Cari Gray, CSP, BWC Safety Consultant Specialist

What do you do when you need an outside company to come into your business to fix or replace something? Say a pipe bursts or your boiler stops working. Do you have a contractor safety policy in place?

In safety we spend so much time focusing on the safety of our employees that sometimes we are blindsided when an outside company comes in and creates a new hazard. Almost all of us use contractors. Although they are not on your payroll, there is still a chance of injury to themselves or your employees. There are many hazards that outside contractors can bring with them, for starters:  lockout issues, hazardous chemicals or even new or different dangerous equipment. You need an intentional focus on dealing with contractors!

Often companies bring in outside contractors to do dangerous or non-routine jobs. Therefore, it’s crucial for you to determine how contract work could expose your employees to workplace injuries and create a process to minimize the hazards.

If a serious injury results from work with contractors, or if there happens to be a compliance officer visiting you while a contractor is performing work, you are jointly responsible and can be held accountable.  You could face inspections, citations and even lawsuits. So, what should you do?  Read on, my friend.

Companies can take control and conduct a thorough review and prequalification of contractors before they allow them to enter their workplace. Once on site, contractors should have a meeting prior to starting the work. In addition, they should have audits during the work’s operations.

If you do not have a contractor safety policy or find that yours is lacking, there are steps you can take. First, think about the people that enter your workplace who are not employees. Are they exposing your employees, other contractors or your customers to additional hazards?

Next, draft your new or updated policy. Your policy could include:

  • Prequalification – This can look different for different types of contractors – you’ll need to look a bit harder at your electrical contractor than the folks who refill your vending machine.
  • Responsibilities – Who’s in charge of this program? If you don’t assign someone, guess what – no one will do it!
  • Company-equipment policy – Do you allow contractors to use your equipment?
  • Emergency procedures – Including interior shelter locations, alarm meanings and outside assembly locations.
  • Training requirements – Pre- job meetings and sometimes you may want to see a contractor’s training record.
  • Housekeeping – Spell out your requirements.
  • Personal protective equipment – What are you requiring?
  • Lockout/tagout/try out – This is a key program with some contractors – some companies require a tandem lockout with contractors. Look at this program and audit with this focus in mind.
  • Fire prevention.
  • Incident reporting.
  • Hazard Communication Standard requirements, including informing the employer about chemicals brought into the facility.
  • Enforcement and company safety rules.

Once you create your contractor-safety program, take time to review it with your employees, especially anyone that may invite a contractor in the building.  Do this at least annually. If you involve employees in creating the program and its policies, they are more likely to recognize, approach and ensure contractors are working safely.

If you see unsafe behaviors, bring it up to the contractor and correct the behavior. If the unsafe behaviors persist, remove them from the premises. You’ve got it, sometimes a contractor can’t seem to follow your safety rules. It’s OK to find another contractor that will. Keeping your employees and contractors safe is the goal.

If you need help with contractor safety policies (or any safety policies), be sure to contact your local safety consultant from your local BWC service office. They are there to help you!

Fall driving: Don’t get left in the dark

By Michelle Francisco, BWC Safety Council Program Manager

Are you looking forward to that extra hour of sleep this weekend? You’ll feel refreshed, more alert and aware with that extra rest.

Maybe not.

Studies show there is generally an increase in the average number of collisions during the late-afternoon commute in the two weeks following the end of daylight saving time.

When the clock moves back an hour, sunset also comes earlier, and many people will find themselves spending more time driving in the dark.

Since our bodies’ internal clocks tell us to sleep when it’s dark, it stands to reason early nightfall makes us more prone to drowsy driving – especially as we adjust to evening commutes during the first week of the time change.

Along with drowsy driving, the darker driving conditions decrease visibility and increase the chances for a car accident.

In fact, the risk of a fatal crash is three times greater at night, according to the National Safety Council, so it is very important for drivers to be prepared when daylight saving time ends and the evenings become darker earlier.

So be prepared for the time change with these driving safety tips:

  • Prep your car for nighttime driving. It may be common sense, but it bears repeating. Check and clean your headlights, taillights, brake lights, and signal lights. After all, you want to see and be seen by other drivers on the road.
  • Be extra cautious. Slow down to compensate for limited visibility and reduced stopping time. Also, keep in mind that pedestrians of all ages, joggers and bicyclists will be less visible during dusk and after-dark hours. According to the Ohio Department of Transportation, the number of fatal crashes involving pedestrians in Ohio has risen in recent years and the majority of those deaths happen at night. That’s exacerbated by the end of daylight saving time, as the number of daylight hours shrinks. Last year, November accounted for 18 percent of Ohio’s pedestrian deaths and only 22 percent of the total happened during the day.
  • Get rest. Make sure you get the proper amount of sleep each night to try and avoid drowsy driving and avoid the temptation to stay up extra late this Saturday night – even if you do get that bonus hour.
  • Watch out for animals on the road. Deer and other animals are most active at night, and since more deer-related collisions occur in November than any other month, be extra careful in the weeks following daylight saving time.

One more consideration: This week a new distracted driving law went into effect in Ohio and fines for the offense increased to $100 after deadly statistics for accidents continue to climb across the country. Just one more reason to pay attention to the road!

So, don’t forget to set your clocks back this weekend, enjoy that extra hour of sleep and stay safe while driving in the coming weeks.

Check out for more driving safety tips, and avoiding common injuries at home and in your workplace.

Halloween driving safety: Ghouls and goblins just ahead

By Bob Braun, Regional Business Development Manager

BWC advocates safe driving all year long, but we all must remember to be especially attentive on the roadways tomorrow.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that Halloween is consistently one of the top three days for pedestrian injuries and fatalities. Because excited trick-or-treaters often forget about safety, motorists must be even more alert.

What can you do this Halloween to keep those ghouls and goblins safe in your neighborhood?

Follow these Halloween driving safety tips:

  • Avoid distractions, so you can stay alert. Put your cell phone away, don’t reach for anything until you’re safely stopped and save your snacks for your destination.
  • Slow down in residential neighborhoods and obey all traffic signs and signals. Drive at least 5 mph below the posted speed limit to give yourself extra time to react to children who may dart into the street.
  • Scan your surroundings and be extra alert. Kids may not be paying attention to traffic and will cross the street mid-block or between parked cars and in dark costumes, some will be harder to see at night.
  • Don’t pass other vehicles that have stopped in the roadway. They could be picking up or dropping off children, so wait several seconds before attempting to pass, and only if you see there are no people near the car.
  • Exit driveways and pull onto streets with extreme caution. Children have a harder time judging how a driver will react and are more likely to think they have the okay to go ahead.

Please heed these common-sense tips to keep our communities and children safe this Halloween. Happy haunting!

Check out for more driving safety tips, and avoiding common injuries at home and in your workplace.

Look out for our deer friends on the road

By Erik Harden, BWC Public Information Officer

It’s autumn in Ohio and you know what that means: crisp air, football, falling leaves … and deer darting out in front of you while you’re driving.

Mating season and the clearing of fields means deer are on the move, which increases the chances of them being in the road – sometimes even fighting. Deer-vehicle collisions typically peak in the fall months. Last year, the Ohio Department of Public Safety recorded nearly 4,000 of these crashes in November alone.

At worst, crashes involving deer can cause injuries and fatalities, and at the very least they can be costly. In 2017, the average insurance claim for a deer-vehicle collision in Ohio was more than $4,400.

Unfortunately, there isn’t really a way to keep deer off roadways, but there are precautions you can take to decrease the chances of hitting one.

  • Scan the road ahead – Being alert and looking ahead for dangers gives you more time to stop if you spot a deer in the road. If you see one, watch out for more. Deer often travel in groups and they move fast.
  • Use high beams – Use your high beams when there are no oncoming vehicles. You’ll see deer further ahead and have more time to slow down, stop or move over.
  • Don’t swerve – Swerving to avoid an animal can make you lose control of your vehicle and can cause a more serious crash. If hitting a deer is unavoidable, apply the brakes firmly and remain in your lane.
  • Stay awake, alert and sober – Distracted, drowsy or impaired driving means you can’t scan the road properly. Avoid all three whether or not there are deer on the road.
  • Be careful at dusk and dawn – Deer can venture onto the road at any time, but they are most active at dawn and dusk.
  • Wear your seatbelt and follow speed limits – Both are self-explanatory.

According to stats from State Farm Insurance, we Ohioans have a 1-in-134 chance of hitting a deer while driving. If you do hit a deer, AAA says:

  • Move your vehicle to the side of the road away from the animal and away from traffic.
  • Call the police and report it.
  • Stay away from the deer and the road while waiting for the police to arrive.
  • Contact your insurance company and file a claim.
  • Double-check your car to make sure it’s safe to drive.

For more tips on safe driving, visit our Be Safe Ohio website.

Have you heard? Noise-induced hearing loss is preventable

By Jeffrey Hutchins, Industrial Hygiene Technical Advisor

Hearing loss is something that can affect any of us not only at work, but in every aspect of our lives.

However, because noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) happens gradually over time, many of us don’t give it the attention it deserves.

That’s why the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) designates every October as National Protect Your Hearing Month. The NIDCD urges you to learn ways to protect yourself, your family and co-workers from NIHL. The following simple solutions from the NIDCD can go a long way toward protecting you from NIHL.

Turn down the volume
Set maximum volume limits on electronics and keep the volume low on music devices and TVs. Sounds at or above 85 A-weighted decibels (comparable to heavy city traffic) put you at risk for NIHL, especially if they last a long time. These days, earbuds are a common concern.

“There’s nothing wrong with earbuds that are producing sound at a low, nontoxic level. But earbuds are bad when you turn them up too loud,” says Dr. James Battey, director of the NIDCD. “My rule of thumb is, if an individual is standing at arm’s length from you and they can hear your earbuds … that noise is probably over 85 decibels and if delivered for a long enough time will cause noise-induced hearing loss.”

Move away from the noise
To reduce sound intensity and the impact of noise on your ears, increase the distance between you and the noise. Think of this simple step when you are near fireworks, concert speakers, or in a loud restaurant.

Wear hearing protection
Sometimes you can’t easily escape the sound, whether you’re at a movie theater, a concert, a sporting event or a noisy work environment. Earplugs or protective earmuffs can help. There is a single number required by law on each hearing protector called the noise reduction rating (NRR). The higher the NRR number, the more effective the protection. Be a good hearing health role model by wearing them yourself. If you don’t have hearing protectors, cover your ears with your hands.

In the workplace, think about the types of equipment or jobs that can cause hearing loss, such as:

  • Circular saws.
  • Chain saws.
  • Firing guns.
  • Air-powered ejection equipment.
  • Air-operated equipment without mufflers.
  • Metal stamping.
  • Machining operations.

Once you have identified the potential sources of loud noises, be sure to take the proper steps to protect yourself and your co-workers from the danger. The good news is NIHL is the only type of hearing loss that is completely preventable. If you understand the hazards of noise and how to practice good hearing health, you can protect your hearing for life.

BWC can help
Our industrial hygienists can help you identify NIHL hazards in your workplace with on-site consultations. The BWC Library also has plenty of resources, including videos, about noise and hearing conservation.

Six safety tips to prevent falls this autumn

By Michelle Francisco, BWC Safety Council Program Manager

The autumn season is finally here but as the temperatures start to cool and the leaves begin to sweep the ground, it’s important to think about another kind of fall – the kind that brings about numerous injuries each year – and the steps we can all take to prevent them.

Each year many people visit the hospital for treatment of injuries associated with falls with one in five falls causing a serious injury such as broken bones or a head injury.

Most falls are preventable, though, with a few simple precautions.

Whether you choose to venture outside to enjoy the crisp, fall air this season or spend more quality time at home, take safety into your own hands and use these tips to prevent a fall.

  • Do one thing at a time. Texting while walking can prevent you from noticing physical barriers and obstacles that may cause you to trip and fall.
  • Slow down when approaching curbs or steps. This will allow you time to adjust to the height difference.
  • Take extra precautions when walking on uneven surfaces, such as outdoor trails. Frequently scan your environment for tripping hazards to allow yourself time to make the necessary adjustments and prevent a fall.
  • Neglecting to use a handrail is one of the most common contributing factors in stairway falls, so be sure to always use a handrail when going up and down stairs inside and outside of the home.
  • Make safety adjustments at home. Get rid of or move things you can trip over, add grab bars inside and outside your tub or shower, and put railing on both sides of your stairs.
  • Improve lighting in and around your home. Add more or brighter lightbulbs, place a night light in poorly lit halls and rooms so that you can find your way in the dark and consider installing motion-activated or timed lighting outside your home to avoid tripping over unforeseen obstacles.

If you do end up suffering from a fall, don’t immediately hop back up and risk falling again. Take a minute to make sure you’re not hurt. If you are not badly injured, try to get up by rolling on your side and slowly getting on your hands and knees. Then use a sturdy object to help get you the rest of the way up. If you are hurt or unable to get up, call for help and keep warm by moving as best you can.

For more fall-related safety tips from the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation, as well as advice on preventing slips and trips, overexertions and driving related accidents this season, visit