Follow these tips for safe holiday road trips

By Jessie Strait, BWC Communications Department College Intern

 Many of us travel for the holidays in that not-so-jolly holiday traffic, and more cars on the road means more accidents.

According to the National Safety Council, traveling by car during the holidays has the highest fatality rate of any other form of transportation. This is due to heavy traffic, distracted driving, alcohol impairment, and poor weather conditions.

To prevent accidents and injuries on the road, follow these safety tips from the National Safety Council:

  • Keep an emergency preparedness kit in your car that includes a first aid kit, a tool kit, cat litter, and nonperishable food items.
  • Avoid drowsy driving.
  • Plan for traffic and leave early.
  • Make sure everyone in the car wears their seatbelt.
  • Put away your cellphone. Do NOT text and drive!
  • Be a defensive driver.
  • Drive sober or have a designated driver.

Also, make sure you pay attention to the forecast. Don’t drive in a snowstorm if you can help it. If you are caught driving in white-out conditions, here are some tips from AAA to help you avoid a crash.

  • Drive slowly. Accelerate slowly and decelerate slowly.
  • Increase the distance you leave between cars, which should be about 8-10 seconds.
  • Use the threshold braking technique: Put your heel on the floor and use the ball of your foot to apply steady pressure on the brake pedal.
  • Avoid coming to a full stop. Keep rolling until the light changes, if you can.
  • If you lose traction, steer in the same direction of the skid.

Read more tips on driving in poor weather conditions here.

When it comes to parking lots, it’s not always merry or bright

By Erik Harden, BWC Public Information Officer

With Cyber Monday behind us and time ticking away to finish all our holiday shopping, many of us will turn to old-fashioned brick-and-mortar stores down the final stretch. This also means dealing with parking lot mayhem.

Too few parking spaces and too many shoppers can turn even the calmest among us into stressed-out maniacs and parking lots into a free-for-all. Remember the following tips to make your next trip to the mall safer and happier.

  • Be aware, and scan in all direc­tions as you travel.
  • Drive slowly and watch for cars that might be cutting diagonally across the lot.
  • Use turn signals and yield the right of way to cars travelling along aisles.
  • If you can find one, park in a spot where you can pull through and face out to prevent the need for backing out.

Don’t be the person who parks over the line, diagonal, or not far enough into a space. Doing so may not give other drivers enough room to park their cars without harming yours. Also, it’s just rude.

Don’t forget to practice personal security in park­ing areas, especially when shopping during the holidays.

  • Park in well-lit areas, and scan the parking lot for threats while leaving or arriving at your vehicle.
  • Avoid shopping alone whenever possible.
  • Beware of strangers approaching you for any reason.
  • Have your keys ready – to help you enter and exit your vehicle quickly.
  • Don’t let would-be thieves do any window shopping. Put bags and packages in the trunk.
  • Don’t overload yourself with bags. Doing so makes you an easy target, and can make it easier to slip and fall on ice or snow.
  • Above all – stay alert and aware of your surroundings always.

Once you’re parked, remember to slow down and focus on walking when there is snow and ice (Putting your phone away helps.). Check the weather forecast, and plan your footwear accordingly. Snow boots are better than three-inch heels when an ice storm is in the forecast. Finally, walk with your feet turned outward and in small shuffling steps when pos­sible.

Share your knowledge at OSC20!

By Julie Darby Martin, BWC Safety Congress Manager

Do you have the experience to help make workplaces safer and healthier? Are you comfortable speaking to a crowd?

If so, you could be a presenter at our Ohio Safety Congress & Expo 2020 (OSC20), the nation’s largest occupational-focused safety and health event. We’re now accepting presentation proposals for this multi-day event, scheduled for March 11 – 13, 2020, in Columbus, Ohio.

OSC20 will feature more than 200 educational sessions taught by experts from across the nation. Topics include:

  • Safety management.
  • Government and regulation.
  • Health, wellness and rehabilitation.
  • Emergency preparedness and response.
  • Workers’ compensation.
  • Driving and transportation.
  • Training and education.
  • Personal protective equipment.
  • And much more.

We are seeking one-hour educational sessions, panel discussions, live demonstrations as well as three-hour and six-hour workshops. Typical attendees include occupational safety and risk-management directors, workers’ compensation managers, health and wellness leaders, and individuals with an interest in occupational safety and health, wellness and rehabilitation of injured workers.

OSC20 will also offer a virtual conference element. This live-stream format will allow viewers to attend a track of sessions from their personal computer or mobile device. When submitting your proposal, you will have the option to express interest in, opt-out of or pose questions regarding your session being considered for the virtual conference.

We’re accepting applications until July 19. For application guidelines and to submit your proposal, visit our call for presentations site. Want to see highlights from our most recent event? Check out our OSC19 Twitter recap.

‘A split second’ nearly cost safety expert his life

Banged up but grateful, Derek Sang addresses Ohio Safety Congress

By Tony Gottschlich, Media Relations Public Information Officer

Derek Sang has worked his entire career in safety. He’s delivered 250 seminars on the subject across the globe, and he’s a frequent keynote speaker on the hazards of arc flash, flash fire and general safety.

The Arizona resident, who works in the flame-resistant clothing industry, also loves motorcycles, and he had racked up over a half million miles on the road without an incident until one evening in November 2016. As he entered a busy highway in Scottsdale, Arizona, a vehicle bumped his back tire, sending Sang and his $35,000 Harley-Davidson careening into a wall.

“Whether you’re at work or at home, all it takes is a split second for something to happen and change lives forever,” said Sang, speaking to a capacity audience Wednesday morning at the Ohio Safety Congress & Expo at the Greater Columbus Convention Center.

The crash shattered Sang’s body and launched the 50-year-old married father and grandfather on a long, grueling road to recovery involving multiple surgeries, excruciating skin graphs and enough hardware to stock a Home Depot store. Add to it the many hours of physical and occupational therapy, the toll on family, friends and colleagues and nearly $1 million in health care bills (covered by insurance, thankfully).

And Sang blames himself for all of it.

“We rode hard, we rode fast, we were experts,” Sang said of his motorcycle club. “I was overconfident and I was complacent. The day that accident happened I thought I was better than anyone else on the road.”

What does this have to do with job safety? Sang asked. Do we take shortcuts? Are we overconfident? When we’re used to performing repetitive but dangerous tasks, it’s easy to become desensitized to it, he said. There are names for this phenomenon, including “unintended blindness” and “normalization of deviance.”

Sang challenged his audience of employers and workers to think closely about those questions and examine their mindset. “What is your safety culture?”

“Complacency coupled with a false sense of security can and do produce catastrophic results,” he said. “It only takes a split second.”

Tips for adjusting to daylight saving time

By Delia Treaster, Ph.D., CPE, Ergonomic Technical Advisor, BWC Division of Safety & Hygiene

Daylight saving time begins at 2 a.m. this Sunday, meaning it’s once again time to “spring forward” and set the clocks ahead one hour.

The time change, which costs you an hour of sleep, can impact your circadian rhythm, cause you to be sleepier on your Monday morning commute, and thus, affect road safety. It’s important to be aware of the risks associated with the time change and to prepare accordingly.

Drivers who miss between one to two hours of the recommended seven hours of sleep nearly double their risk of a crash. Drowsiness can slow reaction time, impair vision and judgment and delay the processing of information. It’s critical to take steps to prepare for the time change and be extremely cautious on the road in the days following the transition as you, and other drivers, reset your circadian rhythm.

To help prevent drowsy driving and stay safe on the road following the time change, the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation offers the following tips:

  • Start going to bed and waking up earlier than normal in the days prior to daylight saving time. This can help reset your circadian rhythm and cue your body to sleep earlier on Sunday; thus, helping to minimize sleep loss from the time change.
  • Eat dinner earlier on Saturday. Our eating times are linked to our circadian rhythm, so try eating dinner an hour earlier on Saturday to help prime you for an earlier bedtime.
  • Avoid caffeine and alcohol on Saturday. Stimulants like caffeine and alcohol interfere with our circadian rhythm and may increase the number of times you wake up at night and decrease the quality of sleep you get, so it’s best to avoid them before the time change.
  • Use light to help reset your circadian rhythm after the time change. Light is one of the main cues of time and strongly affects the production of melatonin, the sleep hormone. Expose yourself to bright lights when you wake up and during the day, especially in the late afternoon. Conversely, avoid bright lights at night. Dim bedroom lights, turn off the TV and put electronic devices away about an hour before you plan to go to bed.
  • Prepare for a darker morning commute after the time change. Remember to turn on your car headlights in the morning following daylight saving time to make yourself more visible on the road. Also, slow down and increase your following distance to compensate for the limited visibility and reduced stopping time that may result from the darker commute.
  • Avoid distractions while driving. Drink your coffee at home or at work, don’t take breakfast to go and save all of your calls for later (even if you have a hands-free device). Distracted driving limits your attention to the road and can put you at greater risk for an accident, especially if you’re also driving on less hours of sleep than you normally would.

If you are driving in the days following the time change and begin to notice yourself losing focus, yawning, drifting out of your lane or notice your eyelids becoming heavy, you may be too tired to drive and should find a safe place to pull over and rest until you are able to drive safely.

For more driving-related safety tips, as well as advice on preventing slips, trips, falls and overexertions this spring, visit

Tips for staying safe when winter weather hits

By Kristen Dickerson, Ph.D., BWC Health and Wellness Manager

While the snow and ice may be beautiful, driving and walking on both can be hazardous.

Many suffer bruises, broken bones or concussions from falling on ice and snow, and Ohio has been the deadliest state for winter car accidents in recent years according to an analysis from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Auto Insurance Center.

The best way to prevent an accident is to stay inside, but if you do go out on the snow and ice, it’s important to proceed with caution and remember that preparation is key when it comes to preventing wintertime accidents.

To stay safe and avoid slip, fall and driving-related accidents from the snow and ice this winter, follow these tips.

Safe Stepping

  • Wear the proper footwear. You want to have shoes or boots with slip-resistant soles, and if you don’t, you should equip your footwear with traction cleats.
  • Walk like a penguin. It’s easy to picture and will help you remember how to walk safely on ice and snow. How do you walk like a penguin? Spread your feet out slightly to increase your center of gravity, take small steps, go slow and look where you’re Just like a penguin.
  • Keep your hands out of your pockets and free of items when walking (like a penguin). The temptation to keep your hands warm by using your pockets is understandable, but you’ll decrease your center of gravity and balance. Our hands can help break falls, protecting our face and brains from traumatic injuries.
  • Maintain your walkways and stairs. It’s best to shovel snow off before it gets trampled and packed down. Throw snow far enough away from your walkways, so that when it melts, it doesn’t drain back onto your walkways and freeze into ice sheets. If your walkways and stairs have ice on them, try sprinkling the surface with rock salt, but be mindful that rock salt can damage lawns. Once the ice starts to melt, brush or shovel the remaining ice away.
  • Warm up and stretch. Shoveling snow is physical exertion and can be taxing if we aren’t quite in tip top shape. Prior to shoveling avoid caffeine and nicotine, as this only increases the work your body is doing. Also consider wearing mittens, as they keep your hands warmer to do the shared surface area of your fingers.

Safe Driving

  • Remove all snow and ice from your car. Before you leave your driveway, you should make sure your car is completely cleared of snow and ice – this includes your exterior mirrors, headlights, taillights, hood, trunk and roof. This will ensure your visibility is not blocked and prevents anything from blowing off while you’re driving and hitting another vehicle.
  • Plan ahead. Check the weather and get your car inspected before traveling long distances in bad weather. Make sure you have topped off fluids and check your tire pressure.
  • Keep a cold weather emergency kit in your trunk. The kit can include bagged salt or kitty litter for traction. Blankets, extra hand protection, bottles of water, flashlights, folding shovels, hard tack candy, flares, jumper cables, and a first aid kit are also good ideas.
  • Stay alert. Never check your phone while driving and always avoid distractions when you’re behind the wheel, especially when road conditions are bad.
  • Accelerate and decelerate slowly. Remember, applying the gas slowly to accelerate is the best method for regaining traction and avoiding skids. Also, take time to slow down for stoplights and stop signs, as it can take longer to stop on icy roads.
  • Increase your following distance. The normal dry pavement following distance of three to four seconds should be increased to eight to ten seconds. This margin of safety will provide the distance needed if you have to stop.
  • Know your brakes. Whether you have anti-lock brakes or not, the best way to stop is threshold braking. Keep the heel of your foot on the floor and use the ball of your foot to apply firm, steady pressure on the brake pedal.
  • Don’t power up hills. Applying extra gas on snow-covered roads just starts your wheels spinning. As you reach the crest of the hill, reduce your speed and proceed downhill as slowly as possible.

No one can stop the onset of winter; however, by planning and keeping safety top-of-mind, you can be prepared for the hazards. For more safety tips from the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation and advice on preventing slips, trips, falls, overexertions and driving-related accidents, visit

How to avoid road rage during the season of peace

By Erik Harden, BWC Public Information Officer

People have a lot to stress about right now. Making six dozen cookies for the neighbor’s cookie exchange. Psyching yourself up for Christmas dinner with the in-laws. Hearing “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus” for the 20th time in the past 24 hours.

It’s enough to make even the calmest person edgy. Put them behind the wheel of a car, and it can mean real trouble. But in all seriousness, the added stressors of the holidays can contribute to increased instances of road rage. When a driver experiences road rage (as the victim or the perpetrator), the potential to crash a vehicle increases. Road rage usually encompasses four emotions: anger, impatience, competing and punishment.

When people drive angry, it usually shows itself in tell-tale signs, such as: speeding; cutting others off; tailgating; erratic lane changes, etc. Impatience makes drivers feel easily annoyed by other drivers and pedestrians. Impatient drivers react more strongly to things like slower drivers, not being able to pass another vehicle or with pedestrians crossing the street.

The urge to compete can include challenging other drivers when lanes merge or for limited parking spaces. Competing often leads to punishing behaviors such as: blocking other cars trying to merge; riding too close to other cars; cursing and making obscene gestures to other drivers; seeking to encounter another driver.

Never resort to punishing behaviors. If you believe another driver wants to start a fight, seek help – head for a police station. Do not get out of your car, and avoid going home alone. In some states, there are special telephone num­bers to report aggressive drivers. Here in Ohio, you can call 1-800-GRAB DUI.

Thankfully, there are also several strategies we can all take to minimize the potential dangers of road rage, including:

  • Not reacting to provocation – don’t offend, don’t engage.
  • Steering clear of erratic drivers.
  • Avoiding eye contact with aggressive drivers.
  • Using your horn sparingly.
  • Not making obscene gestures.
  • Not switching lanes without signaling.
  • Not blocking the passing lane.
  • Not tailgating.
  • Not taking more than one parking space.
  • Being polite and courteous even if other drivers are not.
  • Avoiding conflict, and allowing plenty of time for your trip.

The potential per­sonal costs of road rage can be high, including crashes, injuries, disabilities and even loss of life. Remember to keep things in perspective when you’re behind the wheel, and give yourself enough time to get to your destination safely – even if it’s to your in-laws’ house.

‘Tis the season for parking-lot perils

By Erik Harden, BWC Public Information Officer

Let’s face it, parking lots can be harrowing under the best of circumstances. Throw in wintry weather and/or holiday shopping, and the mayhem increases exponentially.

However, there are steps you can take to make navigating them a little less scary. First, let’s talk about walking hazards.

Whether you’re at work or at the mall, remember to slow down and focus on walking (putting your phone away helps) when there is snow and ice. Check the weather forecast and plan your footwear accordingly. Snow boots are better than two or three-inch heels when an ice storm is in the forecast. Finally, walk with your feet turned outward and in small shuffling steps when pos­sible. You know, like a duck.

It’s always important to practice personal security in park­ing areas, but even more so when shopping during the holidays.

  • Park in well-lit areas and scan the parking lot for threats while leaving or arriving at your vehicle.
  • Avoid shopping alone whenever possible.
  • Beware of strangers approaching you for any reason.
  • Have your keys ready – to help you enter and exit your vehicle quickly.
  • Do not leave new purchases in plain view in your vehicle. Put bags and packages in the trunk.
  • Don’t overload yourself with bags. Doing so makes you an easy target, and can make it easier to slip and fall on ice or snow.
  • Above all – stay alert and aware of your surroundings always. Not to harp on it, but putting your phone away helps.

Limited spaces and frantic shoppers can turn parking lots into a free-for-all at this time of year.

The following tips will make your next trip to the mall safer and happier.

  • Be aware and look in all direc­tions as you travel.
  • Drive slowly and watch for cars that might be cutting diagonally across the lot.
  • Use turn signals and yield the right of way to cars travelling along aisles.
  • Look for spots where you can pull through and face out to prevent the need for backing out.

Try to park in the center of a parking space. Don’t be the person who parks over the line, diagonal or not into a space far enough. Doing so may not give other drivers enough room to park their car without harming yours.

Spending just a little extra time to park will improve your chances of avoiding an accident.

Older Ohioans: Know your abilities and options to stay on the road safely

Posted on the BWC Blog with permission from our friends at the Ohio Department of Aging and Ohio Department of Transportation.

Because being able to get around in the community is critical for older Ohioans to remain independent and healthy, the Ohio Department of Aging and the Ohio Department of Transportation are partnering to increase awareness of available resources for older drivers during Older Driver Safety Awareness Week, Dec. 3-7, 2018.

Drivers age 65 and older represent the fastest-growing segment of licensed drivers in Ohio and across the nation. While older drivers are among the safest drivers on our roads, they may be more likely to be seriously injured in a crash. Ohio has seen four consecutive years of rising traffic deaths involving drivers age 65 and older.

To maintain their mobility, older Ohioans should become aware of their changing abilities, understand the factors that can increase the risk of a crash and learn about resources in their communities to maintain their driving ability or find alternatives to driving.

Normal aging may increase common risk factors for roadway accidents, including changes in vision, hearing, strength, visibility, reflexes and memory. Medical conditions and certain medications also may impact the ability to drive safely. Older drivers also may drive older vehicles that no longer fit their needs (e.g., too big or too small, or seats, steering wheel and mirrors do not adjust sufficiently). Finally, a fear of driving and traffic can increase the risk of a crash.

Tips for older driver safety:

  • Stay aware of your changing physical, vision and hearing abilities and adjust your driving habits accordingly. Exercise regularly to increase and maintain your strength and flexibility.
  • Ask your doctor or pharmacist if any medical conditions you have or medications you take could make it unsafe to drive.
  • Try to do most of your driving during daylight and in good weather. Avoid busy roadways and rush hours whenever possible.
  • Plan your route before you drive and choose routes with well-lit streets, intersections with left turn signals and easy parking.
  • Avoid distractions while driving, including talking or texting on a cell phone, eating, or listening to a loud radio. In-car conversations can also be distracting.
  • Leave plenty of room between you and the vehicle in front of you so that you can react if the other driver stops or slows suddenly.
  • Do not drive too slowly, as this can be as unsafe as speeding.

The Ohio Department of Aging offers a webpage ( of transportation and driving tips and resources for older adults. The page includes a link to “Stay Fit to Drive,” a publication of the Ohio Department of Transportation that includes statistics about older driver crashes and tips to reduce key risk factors.

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