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.

Make Halloween safe, not scary

By Erik Harden, BWC Public Information Officer

Halloween is an annual favorite for kids, right up there with Christmas. Unfortunately, it is also one of the deadliest.

Fading daylight, dark costumes, and excited kids darting into the street make children twice as likely to be struck by a car and killed on Halloween than any other day of the year.* Because excited trick-or-treaters often forget about safety, motorists must be extra careful.

Follow these Halloween driving safety tips.

  • Avoid distractions, so you can stay alert. Put your cell phone away and don’t reach for things until you’re safely stopped.
  • 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. At twilight and later in the evening, watch for children in dark clothing.
  • 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.

Follow these tips when sending kids out trick-or-treating.

  • Don’t send young children out unsupervised. A responsible adult should accompany younger children on the neighborhood rounds.
  • Make them easier to see. Have children wear reflective tape, use glowsticks, or carry a flashlight.
  • Make safe choices. Remain on well-lit streets, always use the sidewalk, cross the street in crosswalks and intersections.
  • Have a plan. If your older children are going alone, plan and review a route acceptable to you. Agree on a time for them to be back home.

Visit the National Safety Council’s website for more Halloween safety tips. *Statistic provided by Safe Kids Worldwide.

National Safety Month targets preventable accidents

By Erik Harden, BWC Public Information Officer

According to the National Safety Council’s (NSC’s) Injury Facts, three people in the U.S. die every 10 minutes from preventable accidents.

To raise awareness of the leading causes of injury and death at work, on the road, and in our homes and communities, the NSC designates each June as National Safety Month. Once again, the NSC will focus on a safety issue each week of the month.

This first week starts with a logical topic: Hazard recognition. After all, the best way to avoid a hazard is to recognize it exists. The NSC says, “Once you train yourself to spot hazards, you’ll notice them all around you. They may not always be obvious or immediate concerns, but they can still pose a risk to you and your co-workers. The sooner they’re fixed, the better.”

This Learn to See Hazards tip sheet has helpful information to get you started. In the coming weeks the NSC will focus on:

  • Slips, trips and falls.
  • Fatigue.
  • And impairment.

The NSC has free materials, including posters, tip sheets, articles, family activities, special offers, social graphics and more. Go to the NSC website to sign up to receive these materials.

We encourage you to take advantage of the resources the NSC offers to keep you, your co-workers and your family safe this month and throughout the year.

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

National Safety Month: Slips, trips and falls are no joke

By Erik Harden, BWC Public Information Officer

Pratfalls in television and movies can be comedy gold. Chevy Chase practically built his career on them. But slips, trips and falls at home or at work are no joke.

Stats from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration show most general industry incidents involve slips, trips and falls, causing 15 percent of all accidental deaths. Here in Ohio, 1 out of every 6 workplace fatalities involve slips, trips, and falls.

Slips, trips and falls can be fatal outside of work too. In fact, they’re the fourth leading cause of deaths in the home.

Stats like the ones above are the reason preventing slips, trips and falls are a major focus of our current safety campaign. It’s also why we participated in last month’s National Safety Stand-Down to Prevent Falls.

The good news is slips, trips and falls are almost always preventable if we all just pay a little more attention and take a few, simple precautions. For example:

  • Keeping walking areas clear and dry.
  • Using proper footwear for the job.
  • Placing ladders on clean, dry, stable surfaces.
  • Looking around before starting a task.

Finally, office environments aren’t immune from hazards, including slips, trips and falls. This article from the National Safety Council (NSC) has helpful information on recognizing and eliminating hidden dangers in the office.

For additional information, visit the NSC’s National Safety Month webpage.

National Safety Month: Worker wellness and workplace safety – a dynamic duo

By Erik Harden, BWC Public Information Officer

Abbott and Costello, peanut butter and jelly, R2-D2 and C-3PO. Some people, foods and droids are just better together. The same goes for employee wellness and workplace safety.

The National Safety Council’s Campbell Institute recently released a report stating workplaces should expand beyond initiatives such as smoking cessation and weight loss to include health and safety issues such as fitness, nutrition, workplace fatigue, overtime management and job security.

This same approach is the foundation for the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health’s (NIOSH’s) Total Worker Health® Program. As a Total Worker Health Affiliate, we work with NIOSH to foster and reinforce an integrated approach to protecting and promoting worker well-being. We’re also committed to improving the health and wellness of Ohio workers with programs such as our recently launched Better You, Better Ohio!™ program and our workplace wellness grants.

Our Better You, Better Ohio! program provides health and wellness resources and services to workers who work for small employers (50 or fewer workers) in high-risk industries. Eligible employers and workers can sign up at no cost and through a simple, paperless process. Workers can pursue a healthier lifestyle through:

  • Free health assessments and biometric screenings to better understand their health and well-being.
  • A member engagement website that allows them to develop health plans and track their progress to achieve their health goals.
  • Health and wellness awareness, education and training.
  • Digital coaching to help them on their journey to better health.

Meanwhile, Ohio employers can reap the benefits of having a healthy workforce. Healthy employees are less prone to injury. And, when they are injured, their ability to recover is enhanced greatly.

While we’re working for Ohioans, the National Safety Council (NSC) is promoting wellness as this week’s National Safety Month theme. Visit the NSC website for materials like this wellness tip sheet.

National Safety Month: If you don’t care about your safety, who will?

By Melissa Vince, BWC Public Relations Manager

Workplace accidents can uproot our lives in so many ways. Not only do we need medical care and time to recover, we may not be able to quickly return to work or family and community activities.

That’s why BWC takes time every June to talk about National Safety Month and the importance of safety and prevention of on-the-job injuries.

This year, we’re doing more than just talking about safety. We’re taking an entirely new approach.

Dr. Abe Al-Tarawneh, Superintendent of BWC’s Division of Safety & Hygiene, details our efforts in this letter to the editor recently published in the Cambridge Daily Jeffersonian.

Dear editor,

Slips, trips and falls, overexertions and motor vehicle accidents are responsible for more than 60 percent of disabling workplace injuries. In the workplace, most of these accidents are preventable by establishing a strong safety culture throughout the organization.

But, these types of accidents don’t just happen at work – they’re very common at home, too. Because we at the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation care about Ohio employees no matter where they are, we dedicated $2 million statewide to raise awareness for safety and education to address these common accidents as part of our $44 million safety pledge.

This is an entirely new approach for the BWC. Typically, we strive to reach Ohio’s workers through employers. For this initiative, we’re targeting Ohioans, like you, directly. You may have already seen our 30-second commercial on FOX Sports Ohio – it’s the one with the guardian angels, an instantly recognizable symbol of protection. Instead of scaring or shaming individuals into being safe, we have taken a humorous approach to get Ohioans talking about safety in a positive way.

It’s human nature to think that accidents will never happen to you, therefore, many of those most at risk for injury through slips, trips, falls, overexertions and driving related accidents do not have safety and injury prevention top-of-mind throughout the day. Hopefully, this unexpected humorous approach to safety not only caught your attention and made you laugh, but also inspired you to feel empowered to take your safety into your own hands and practice safe behaviors no matter where you are. As our guardian angel reminds us – “If you don’t care about your safety, who will?”

This approach builds on our current successful safety efforts. Those efforts, which are primarily aimed at helping employers create safer workplaces, have led to fewer work-related injuries and the lowest number of claims in at least two decades. These programs have also proven popular, as the Division of Safety & Hygiene saw a 71 percent increase in the number of employers using its safety programs and services between 2010 and 2015.

Keep an eye out for us this summer – we’ll be sharing our safety message throughout Ohio. You can also learn more about our effort to create a culture of safety in Ohio by visiting BeSafeOhio.com.

Dr. Abe Al-Tarawneh, Superintendent, BWC Division of Safety & Hygiene

We’ll also be sharing more this National Safety Month right here on the the BWC Blog.

Each week has a different theme. Keep an eye out for more on these topics in the coming weeks:

  • Week 1: Emergency Preparedness
  • Week 2: Wellness
  • Week 3: Falls
  • Week 4: Driving

Be Safe Ohio!

Get focused for Distracted Driving Awareness Month

By Erik Harden, BWC Public Information Officer

Cat videos are hilarious. Just not while you’re behind the wheel. And maybe eat that burrito in the restaurant instead of taking one for the road.

With smartphones, busy schedules and multitasking, it’s easier than ever to be distracted while driving. In fact, it’s now the No. 1 cause of crashes in the U.S., with nearly 3,500 Americans killed by distracted driving in 2015.*

April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month, and the perfect time to discuss the dangers of this growing problem with family, friends and co-workers. At BWC, we’re doing our part to raise awareness about distracted driving as part of our newest safety campaign. For example, did you know there are three types of distractions while driving? They are:

  1. Visual distractions that take your eyes off the road;
  2. Manual distractions that take your hands off the wheel;
  3. Cognitive distractions that take your mind off the task at hand.

You can learn more about all three and much more on our safe driving page.

If you want even more information about distracted driving, there is no shortage of it online. The National Safety Council (NSC) has a Distracted Driving Month section on its site. It’s also offering a free webinar – Engaging Ways to Address Distracted Driving at Work – on April 19. You can register for it on the NSC website.

Still want more? Try the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s distracted driving website or the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health’s Distracted Driving at Work. Just not while you’re driving.

*National Highway Traffic Safety Administration statistics

Promote driving safety at your company and at home

By Jennifer Morgan, BWC Fleet Supervisor

The other day I was driving to work on a three-lane freeway when a silver Honda in front of me swerved left of center, which caused the mid-sized Ford in the left lane to jerk quickly to avoid making contact with the Honda. The Ford’s appropriate instinct caused a chain reaction in the left lane.

Meanwhile the Honda nonchalantly weaved back into its lane and then into the far right lane (without using signals). When I passed the Honda minutes later, I noticed that the driver was seemingly unaware of what just happened and what kind of trouble he caused. Of course, the driver of the Honda was on his phone, likely for the entire incident.

Last week, a driver – who acknowledged to witnesses that he was texting while driving – collided with a church minibus in an accident that killed 13 people in rural Texas. Last year, approximately 40,000 people died in a vehicle crash, the most deaths in nine years. Many sources say the cause of the crash increase is due to driving distracted – mainly cell phones.

As an agency that strives to prevent accidents and strives to promote safe environments, we encourage you to review your driving habits at home and at work. Especially if your company maintains a fleet, there are practices that you can help implement to make everyone safer.

Driver training
As Fleet Supervisor for BWC, I am responsible for making sure our employees are safe on the road. With 309 vehicles in our fleet, a lot of driving occurs throughout Ohio. That’s why, in addition to driving background checks, we require all assigned drivers to complete a four-hour defensive driving course. The course is online so they can complete the course over a period of time, at their convenience.

Every year, drivers are required to complete an updated training program that gives them a reminder that safe driving is a good practice for everyone.

Take the pledge
In addition to training, we require drivers to sign a no texting pledge because we believe it is an important part of holding our drivers accountable for avoiding this distracting and unsafe behavior. You can encourage anyone to take the pledge for any type of driving, personal or work-related. The National Safety Council has a user-friendly pledge form here.

Be aware
This time of year, we send reminders to our drivers that warmer weather brings potential hazards to the roadways. More pedestrians are out walking around. Children are riding their bikes in the street and more bikers in general are riding on the roads. More motorcyclists take to the roads this time of year as well. Drivers need to pay special attention and share the road. A quick reminder to your co-workers about these potential hazards can have a beneficial outcome, including saving a life. If you need advice determining what safety programs you can implement in your fleet, please call me at 614-441-0763.

BWC’s Division of Safety & Hygiene’s consultants are also available to answer your questions and assist your safe driving efforts. Call 1-800-644-6292 for more information.

Celebrate awards season with Safety & Hygiene’s 1947 “Oscar” Winner!

By Amelia Klein, BWC Librarian

While you may be heading to theaters for a last chance to see this year’s Oscar hopefuls, the BWC Library decided to go back in time to celebrate the Division of Safety & Hygiene’s (DSH’s) very own award-winning film, “Men Who Come Back.”

First, a little history: In 1937, the Liberty Mutual Insurance Company and the Motion Picture Association of America formed the Film Safety Awards Committee. The goal of the committee was to further the theatrical production of highway safety films. In 1943, the award’s scope expanded to include non-theatrical motion pictures and slide films in the categories of home, occupational and general safety. Renamed the National Committee on Films for Safety in 1945, the committee judges included:

  • The National Safety Council;
  • The American Red Cross;
  • The American Society of Safety Engineers;
  • The National Fire Protection Association;
  • As well as representatives from the U.S. Air Force, Army and Navy.

In 1947, for the Best Non-Theatrical Motion Picture in the Industrial Safety Field, the winner was … “Men Who Come Back.” Our very own DSH created it and filmed it in Ohio industries! Beginning with statistics on workers’ compensation claims in Ohio, the film shows how men and women can work safely and return home to their families every day. Highlights include setting machine guards, the dangers of not wearing eye protection, eating a well-balanced lunch and the safety of women welders.

Speaking at the celebratory banquet on May 14, 1947, National Safety Council President Ned H. Dearborn gave “a stirring inspirational address on safety, with emphasis on the accident situation in the occupational field” calling for “support for the various agencies whose services are devoted to accident prevention work.” He then paid tribute to the Industrial Commission of Ohio’s DSH before presenting the award to Ohio Gov. Thomas J. Herbert “to the vociferous acclaim of the audience.” Gov. Herbert echoed the call to support safety organizations stating, “Ohio will intensify safety education in all fields to the end that our people shall have the benefit of every possible safeguard at home, at work and on the highway” before congratulating DSH for winning such recognition and high praise.

nsc-trophyOur bronze “Oscar” is still on display in our Ohio Center for Occupational Safety and Health museum.

You can find the article detailing the award ceremony as printed in the June 1947 edition of the Ohio Industrial Commission Monitor here.

To preserve this award-winning film for future generations, the BWC Library has recently digitized its 16mm copy.

Written and directed by H.F. Hillebrandt with photography by V.R. McQuilkin, here is “Men Who Come Back.

Note: A small portion of the beginning is missing from this digitized version of the film.