Prevention of Influenza – The Flu and You

Influenza or “The Flu” is a serious contagious disease that can lead to hospitalization and even death. In 2009-2010, a new and very different flu virus (called 2009 H1N1) spread worldwide causing the first flu pandemic in more than 40 years. Flu is unpredictable, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) expects the 2009 H1N1 virus to spread this upcoming season along with other seasonal flu viruses. The CDC urges you to take the following actions to protect yourself and others from influenza:

Take time to get a flu vaccine.

  • CDC recommends a yearly flu vaccine as the first and most important step in protecting against flu viruses.
  • While there are many different flu viruses, the flu vaccine protects against the viruses that research suggests will be most common. It takes two weeks after the shot to have the full protection in your body.
  • Everyone 6 months of age and older should get vaccinated against the flu as soon as the seasonal vaccine is available.
  • People at high risk of serious flu complications include young children, pregnant women, people with chronic health conditions like asthma, diabetes or heart and lung disease and people 65 years and older. Vaccination of high-risk persons is especially important to decrease their risk of severe flu illness.
  • Vaccination also is important for parents, office workers, and other people who live with, care for orcome in contact with high risk people to keep from spreading flu to high risk people.
  • Children younger than 6 months are at high risk of serious flu illness but are too young to be vaccinated. People who care for them should be vaccinated instead.
  • If you are deathly afraid of needles and still want protection; you can opt for the Nasal Spray Flu Vaccine.

Take everyday preventive actions to stop the spread of germs.

✓ Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze.

Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.

✓Warn others you are ill.

Wash your hands often with soap and water. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub. This is especially important after you go out in public and do things such as:

  • Touch shopping carts or shared hand tools
  • Touch staircase handrails and doorknobs
  • Shake hands or give close in hug (use the fist pump dude!)
  • Contact with surfaces in common areas in restrooms or lunchrooms

Wash your hands or utilize hand sanitizer before and after eating or smoking.

✓ Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. Germs spread this way.

What’s New in 2019 for the Flu Shot: This year, the CDC recommends that everyone get their flu shot by the end of October. A major improvement to the vaccine is the regular dose and recombinant flu vaccine (the only egg-free vaccine) will now protect against more strains than last year. The vaccines on the market this year are quadrivalent; meaning they protect against four strains of the flu, covering two Influenza A strains and two Influenza B strains to give you the best chance of immunization.

“The flu vaccination is effective more than 2/3 of the time. Those that benefited most were healthy adults ages 18 to 46 (+70%), and healthy children ages six to 24 months (66%)”

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “Efficacy and effectiveness of influenza vaccines” 2011

Watch the “The Truth About Seasonal Flu Shots” YouTube Video Link:

Site Stormwater Management – Doing the right thing because we care

Working with care adjacent to rivers, lakes, and storm drains is needed to reduce potential pollution threat it poses. Contamination of watercourses has an immediate effect, often readily seen. It comes from several sources:

Pollution – Debris, oil & chemical spills Silting – Release of suspended solids Erosion – Loss of site soils by wind or water

General Precautions: All activities that may pollute water should be carried out away from storm drains and channels.

Maintenance & Fueling Precautions: When refueling by hand, use a funnel or a container with a spout to prevent spillage. Small spills add up over time which includes maintenance activities, refueling of gensets, and lubricating equipment. Repair and fluid changing near a water course must be avoided to prevent contamination.

Silt and Mud Precautions: When cleaning any concrete tools, tires, or tracks the dirty water should not be allowed to directly enter into drains or flow into any watercourse. It may be necessary to establish settling ponds to collect contaminated water. Silty water must not be directed into water course or drain. Mud is damaging to plant and animal life in streams.

Control Examples: If silty water is produced, the following examples are steps to take.

Sandbags or rock socks can be placed around drains, inlets, & ditches to prevent dirty water entering a water course.

Settling basins help settle out the silt particles. Clean water can then be discharged into grassy area before allowing runoff to enter a storm sewer.

Housekeeping is necessary to ensure all oily rags, empty containers, waste, and food wrappers are removed. Do not allow them to blow across the site, get offsite, or enter the storm sewer.

Surface Roughening disturbed areas slows the progress of runoff across a site and allows it to absorb instead of entering storm sewers. Revegetation of sites as soon as practicable is a great way to protect disturbed areas from erosion.

Diversion of clean rain water or surface water around the work area keeps it away from disturbed ground and avoids the creation of silty water. The direct discharge of silty waters to the roadside gutter, ditch of a storm sewer is NOT an acceptable way of dealing with runoff and will often result in violations issued by Local, State and Federal authorities.

Safe Storage of fuel, solvents, paints, additives, and chemical storage includes being secured and situated 100 feet away from the watercourse. Any fuel or chemical spills should be reported immediately to your supervisor. Leaking or empty drums or containers should be repaired, sealed or disposed of properly.

To Reduce Erosion; prevent runoff from collecting and running over exposed soil. If this is not possible, then deploy silt fence, berms, check dams, and roughening in a minimum of three controls in series. Never rely on only one control. If it fails a violation and a mess can quickly occur.

Groundwater Disposal through silt socks or settling basins reduces the load of suspended solids in the discharge.

Offsite Tracking during alternating periods of dry and wet weather can release considerable quantities of dirt and soils onto roadways. Frequently call for the sweeper and “fluff” up the VTC to remove offsite tracking and capture soils onsite.

Summary: By taking precautions we minimize the chance of pollution from our work. By doing the “right thing” we ensure our efforts are sustainable and decrease the likelihood of environmental degradation. Should a question arise contact your supervisor.

“The EPA has cited urban stormwater as the largest contributor of pollutants to our waterways.”

Charles Moore, Univ of Tenn , “Urban Storm Water Preliminary Data Summary”


Safely Performing Overlot Excavations and Earth Moving

Earthmoving is a dangerous profession. In 2017 alone there were 28 fatalities in the U.S. related to mass earthmoving and mining. Most serious incidents in our industry involve heavy equipment, trucks, and machinery. Experienced operators are just as likely to be killed as new hires because these hazards don’t discriminate based on experience— earthmoving and overlot grading doesn’t get safer with time. It can be more dangerous as workers gain experience if they become complacent. Lack of focus makes us more prone to short cuts or ignoring rules like not wearing seat belts, using cell phones while driving, jumping off machines to the ground, and performing poor daily inspections of trucks & equipment. We should always follow the rules to counter the influence of complacency. This is what is expected of professionals.

Safety Inspections & Checks: Over time, pre-operational checks can end up being performed in a perfunctory manner, sometimes they’re just “pencil whipped.” A majority of inspections result in ticked boxes only to confirm equipment is safe to use. Inspections and checks exist for those cases when something is out of order and catching it in time can prevent injury or incident. Make an effort to check brake systems, lights, fire extinguisher, seat belts and operational checks of cylinders and attachments. Know and understand the terms and names of the differing type of equipment specific to your machine.

Inspections include checking the worksite also. Make it a habit of getting out of trucks & machines to check the work area before starting a task. The sheer size of power equipment makes it impossible for workers to notice every single detail around them while working. Practice “See Something-Say Something” and “Speak Up-Listen Up” to alert others of dangers.

Traffic Rules: Speed limits and traffic rules that apply to sites, offices, yards, and parking areas are to be observed. There is no job so important that its completion overrides safety. Excessive speed on jobsites often results in employee injury and equipment damage.

Seat Belts: The use of seat belts is mandatory 100% of the time. No seatbelt then no ride. Check belts and seats every day for issues. Everyone should understand that improperly worn seat belts won’t provide the restraint necessary to protect them. Constant vigilance and positive reinforcement help develop the right attitude and build safe habits regarding seat belt use.

Ground Control Methods: Adequate berms should be provided on solid ground and maintained at an appropriate height. Add signage to direct traffic, warn of hazards, and remind drivers of safety rules. It’s important to remember that the berm’s solid base is just as crucial as its height. Sometimes the material is simply dumped over the edge of the work area until it is able to hold a berm of the proper height. But if a berm isn’t built properly it will collapse as soon as a tire hits it. Berms need to have the strength to direct the driver back on the road. Ensure that there are grades at the top of high walls that slope down and away from the edge. The same applies to the dump area, which should also be sloped so that trucks can dump without cross grade. Truck drivers are to always maintain the truck perpendicular to the edge when backing up at a dumpsite. Only dump parallel to power lines to avoid contact. Additionally, back in so there is a safe distance between trucks and back from the drop-off. Plan the work to avoid vertical cuts in excess of 3 feet & provide awarning when cut area are near roads.

Spills and Accidents: Pay attention and contribute to your team when emergency planning is discussed. Without your input we are all vulnerable to avoidable injuries and fatalities. Spill kits fire extinguishers and having a plan in place is critical when accidents occur and a crisis is occurring.

Speak Up-Listen Up: Encourage workers to look out for each other. Most people never think that an incident is going to happen to them but they understand that one might very well happen to others. Keeping an eye out for each other’s safety will help with worker morale and develop a stronger team spirit.

Summary: Identifying and controlling all hazards associated with earth moving is expected to be performed daily by everyone on site. We should never forget that no matter how safe a piece of equipment is, it can easily become dangerous when operated by someone who is complacent or feels under pressure to rush. Creating a safety culture and encouraging safe habits improves compliance and keeps people safer, which is priceless in hazardous industries such as earthmoving and overlot grading.

“During 2018, 22 persons were killed in excavation and grading operations in the US. All were avoidable and unnecessary.”

Noel Borck, Chairman, Laborers Health and Safety Fund of NA, Newsletter MAR 2019

Distracted Driving

Every year distracted driving claims thousands of lives. NHTSA estimates that in 2017 distracted driving attributed to 391,000 injury crashes. From 2012 – 2015 distracted driving accidents rose 16 % with over 15,300 accidents. Distracted driving is a serious problem in the united states among young adults to seasoned drivers. The trend is increasing for fatalities attributed to distracted driving:









What is Distracted Driving: 

Distracted driving is the practice of driving a motor vehicle while engaged in another activity. This includes eating, grooming, talking to someone in the same car, texting, making a phone call, dropping something and trying to retrieve it, GPS devices, music surfing and even reading. Have the passenger handle the cargo and kids.

What are the Risks:

Can kill or injure someone, legal fees, possible jail time, lose your job, your home. In Colorado, distracted driving falls under careless driving. Fines for careless driving range from $250 up to $1000 and punishable up to a year in jail. If an accident occurs while distracted driving, it falls under reckless driving and punishable by $500 to $5000 fine and 18 months in jail.

Cognitive Distractions:

Mental or Cognitive distractions are the most common type. We have a lot on our minds and tend to focus on problems, vacation, sports, family, kids, bills, even the grocery list. We become distracted by our thoughts instead of focusing on driving. In some cases, drivers report not remembering the entire drive home. Has it happened to you? Focus on driving when behind the wheel.

Manual Distractions:

Many drivers try to occupy themselves with other physical activities while driving; taking one or both hands off the wheel. Examples include eating, drinking, fixing your hair or make-up, changing the radio station, and sending text. 6% of all crashes are related to manual distractions. Keep your hands on the wheel.

Visual Distractions:

Taking your eyes off the road, reading that text or email, look for something in your purse or briefcase, changing the radio station. Visual distractions are common and play a big part in crashes, 10% of all crashes are related to visual distractions. A car moving at 60 mph travels 88 feet during a simple 1 second glance.

The Law: Hand Held Devices & Texting While Driving:

Handheld devices may be used for making or receiving calls with hands-free devices. The state prohibits the act of reading, writing, and sending text/email messages while operating a motor vehicle. If involved in an accident where death or bodily injury happens you can be fined a $1000 and can spend up to 1 year in jail. CDL drivers can face $2750 in fines, DQ for 120 days, and 10 points on their license for the first offense. If it’s important, pull over to a safe place. No Call, No Text, No Ticket, No Problem!

“Nine lives are taken daily due to Distracted Driving,”

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 2016 Distracted Driving Report

Basic Safety Rules

Some rules are never made to be broken. Much like the Ten Commandments the Fiore Basic Safety Rules are important enough we expect you to follow them at all times Compliance ensures the safety and well-being of FSI employees and assets. The list supplements detailed company policies highlighting actions not tolerated. Violation is subject to disciplinary review and action up to and including termination.

Most Important Rules to know and follow:

Drugs & Alcohol – Possession or being under the influence of alcohol or controlled substances on Company property, at Company work sites, or anywhere else while on Company business is forbidden. Doses of prescribed and over the counter items in excess of the written warning label causing an incapacity to drive or operate safely is included in this prohibition.

Personal Protective Equipment – PPE deemed appropriate for the work must be used at all times. Basic site

required PPE includes hardhat, gloves, hi-vis safety vest, safety glasses and safety toe boots. Other equipment may be required for specific activities.

Fighting – Physical conflict (fighting) and violence against anyone while on the job is strictly forbidden.

Seat Belts – Must be worn at all times when operating or riding in Company vehicles, when operating a personal vehicle on company business, and when operating any trucks, heavy equipment including loaders, forklift, excavators, water trucks, scrapers, dozers, etc. If it moves you must be buckled up.

Equipment – Employees are never allowed to ride in or on the bucket of an excavator or loader. Persons shall not be permitted to ride in the cab, on catwalks or rails, or on implements, booms, or attachments of equipment unless specifically equipped to accommodate personnel during operation. A seat and seatbelt for every person.

Trenches & Excavations – No one shall enter a trench over five feet deep unless the trench is properly sloped or otherwise protected by shoring or shielding. NO one is to enter a trench that is 4 feet or more without proper access. Never dig without locates and never enter a trench without first performing a trench inspection.

Injury and Vehicle Accident Reports – All injuries and collisions must be reported immediately to the employee’s supervisor.

Heavy Equipment – No one shall operate heavy equipment for which they are not authorized and qualified unless done as part of a training program under the direct supervision of a qualified operator. Never operate equipment or vehicles are under LOTO.

Firearms – Possession of firearms in Company vehicles or on Company property or work sites is prohibited.

Radios and Phones – Cell phones are not to be used when operating equipment that is in motion. Radios/music used in equipment only when the volume is adjusted to allow for verbal communication with the crew. Ear and headphones prohibited in equipment or while on foot.


The following is from Section 37 of the FSI Best Practices Manual. Each violation is evaluated on its own merit. Some infractions may be so serious that progressive discipline is bypassed. These actions are considered safety violations by the company:

  • Repeated safety rule violation;
  • Failure to report incidents, including injuries, equipment damage, fire, spill, vehicle incident, etc.;
  • Failure to control or mitigate unsafe conditions, work practices or other hazards;
  • Failure to maintain good housekeeping and site cleanliness
  • Failure to wear required personal protective equipment;
  • Violating drug & alcohol policies in any way.

A three-step process is used to document and carry out employee discipline:

1. Formal Verbal Warning from supervisor for observed repeat observation.

2. Written Warning prepared by a supervisor, signed by the employee to include action to take to correct behavior.

3. Suspension without pay and potentially Termination for third-time offenders.

“Safety rules are written in blood. Someone, somewhere paid the price so you don’t have to.”

Ask Safety Geek, Tweet Slogan

Sprains and Strains Prevention

Sprains and strains account for about a third of injuries in construction. A sprain is an injury to a ligament, the tough, fibrous tissue that connects bones to other bones. Sprain injuries involve a stretching or a tearing of this tissue. Ankle, knee and wrist injuries account for the majority of sprains. A strain is an injury to either a muscle or a tendon, the

tissue that connects muscles to bones. Back injuries are the most prevalent in regard to strains. Depending on the severity of the injury, a strain may be a simple overstretch of the muscle or tendon, or it can result in a partial or complete tear.

These soft tissue injuries occur frequently, and are painful, disabling and often accompanied by lengthy recovery periods. Maintaining good physical fitness is essential in avoiding sprains and strains. Overweight and out of shape leads to more frequent and severe strain and sprain injuries.


To minimize the chances of sprains, observe the following practices:

  • Practice safe housekeeping to keep work areas clear of clutter to help prevent falls
  • Stop all strenuous activity on the job when tired or in pain. Notify your supervisors immediately.
  • Use caution when working on slippery and wet surfaces. LOOK WHERE YOU ARE WALKING.
  • Always wear appropriate and properly fitting footwear for your job. Wear lace-up boots and tie them properly. Replace worn and damaged footwear at least annually.
  • Use extra caution when walking across uneven surfaces. You can easily twist an ankle or knee.
  • When stepping off ladders and dismounting equipment and trucks, always look where you are placing your feet, before you put your full weight on them. Lookout before you park to check to see if its the best location.

To minimize the possibility of incurring strains, observe the following practices:

  • Do not attempt to lift over 40 lbs by yourself. Use the buddy system. Help someone when they ask you to help them.
  • Whenever possible, arrange your work areas to minimize the amount of heavy lifting required.
  • Before any heavy lifting activity, always warm-up, perform Stretch & Flex exercises.
  • Always plan the lift. Know the weight; how far you must carry it and plan your route. When you approach an object on the floor, try to get an idea of how heavy it may be. If the object is too heavy, seek additional help or use a mechanical lifting device such as a forklift, loader, wheelbarrow, dolly or the shop overhead crane
  • Lift objects in the “power zone”. This is the area between mid-thigh and mid-chest height. Avoid lifting objects outside this zone. Use your best judgment when lifting heavy objects. Do not attempt to lift an object that exceeds your strength, and do not try to lift objects over 40 lbs by yourself.
  • Carry objects close to your body. Lift with your legs and not your back. Lift slowly and smoothly.
  • Avoid twisting. Always turn the whole body as one unit when changing direction while carrying a heavy object.
  • Move heavy objects by pushing or pulling, whenever possible. Pushing is always preferable.
  • Always stand close to the object that you are lifting and be certain that fingers and toes are clear when setting it down.

Follow these helpful rules and you will greatly reduce the chance that you will experience a painful sprain or strain.

“Sprains and strains were the most frequently occurring injuries resulting in lost worktime accidents in 2017.”

Bureau of Labor Statistics, Annual Report 2017

Filtering Face Mask – N95 Dust Mask

Dust masks (particulate respirators) are to be used in the workplace where airborne particulates such as housekeeping dust, earthwork dust, dirt & grit, outdoor demolition, and equipment cleaning, are generated or are present as part of the environment. Dust masks protect the worker’s lungs and airway from damage due to the inhalation of airborne particulate matter. Dust masks may be worn even when a ventilation system is in place and operational. Dust masks are not approved for asbestos exposure or any other airborne hazardous material. Long term exposure to airborne particulates can cause extreme respiratory problems. The best dust mask removed 68% of the airborne contaminant.

Following are guidelines for the use of dust masks:

Always review product labels and safety data sheets (SDS) on the chemicals and material that you are working with. Many chemicals and materials will not be filtered by a dust mask and the use of a respirator is required.

Dust masks are to be used for airborne particulates and are not suitable for hazardous levels of vapors and extremely fine particulates. Dust masks do not clean the air of solvents or chemicals

Change your dust mask frequently and whenever you note any discoloration from the accumulation of particulates.

Since your airflow will be slightly reduced, it is important to take frequent breaks while wearing a dust mask. A dust mask with an exhalation valve may assist breathing. Take your breaks in fresh air and remove the mask.

If you feel faint or develop a headache, stop work immediately and get some fresh air. Locate the source of your symptoms, and correct the problem before returning to work. Dust masks are not appropriate for oxygen deficient environments.

Ensure that your dust mask fits you snugly. Pull the top strap across the crown of your head. If you feel air leaking around the edges of the mask adjust the mask or switch to a different mask.

Dust masks should also be designed to fit over the bridge of the nose. Many dust masks have a nose clip which when adjusted properly helps to seal that area of the mask to the face. It is important that the nose is covered snugly to ensure that airborne particulates do not enter the lungs through the nose. Pinch the nose piece to fit the bridge of your nose and get a good fit.

Beards may interfere with the proper fit of dust masks. Beards, or any facial hair which interferes with proper fitting, should not be worn when respiratory protection is necessary.

Dust masks are to be used only by one person. Never share or re-use dust masks.

Dust masks (particulate respirators) are designed for many different uses from roadwork, hauling, sweeping, sawing, and grinding to nuisance level odor control, and substance specific contaminant filtering. Choosing the right design for your task will increase the usefulness of these devices.


Restricting the total time workers are exposed to an air contaminant is an important method of respiratory protection. Properly used, dust masks protect workers from hazards but a dust mask does not eliminate the hazards. A dust mask is a form of personal protective equipment; however, if a dust mask is inappropriate for a particular airborne hazard, the user risks exposure. Appropriate protection depends upon selecting, wearing, and using the correct personal protective equipment properly.

“Clean air is a basic right. The responsibility to ensure that falls to us.”

Tom Carper, US House of Representatives

Avoiding Backing Up Incidents – “First Move Forward!”

Operating heavy equipment or a motor vehicle is inherently a hazardous task, however, backing up creates more risk for incidents to occur. According to the National Safety Council, backing accidents have caused 500 deaths and 15,000 injuries per year since 2005. All too often unnecessary backing is responsible for injuries and property damage incidents. It is important to consider the hazards of backing and what can be done to mitigate them. Always look before backing.


Hazards of Backing

With increased blind spots, backing leaves drivers and operators at more risk for error resulting in damage or injury. The most serious incident occurring due to backing are fatalities of ground personnel. Between the years 2000 to 2010 OSHA found that dump trucks followed by semi-trucks and light pickups have been responsible for most of the on the job back-over incidents. Outside of struck-by incidents involving ground personnel, there are many other hazards to consider. A few hazards include:

  • Less visibility and more blind spots are present looking backward through and across a vehicle interior. Always look one more time through the rear glass before backing.
  • Fixed objects can be hidden or out of view in Blind Spots
  • Moving equipment or vehicles come from outside of mirror and side window view
  • Getting Caught Between equipment and fixed objects
  • Being Struck By or run over by equipment and vehicles
  • Uneven terrain (construction sites) changes the view angle of or distorts mirror views


Best Practices and Safeguards to Mitigate the Hazards of Backing

The single best way to prevent backing-related incidents is to eliminate backing as much as possible. Most work areas and tasks can be set up in such a way that backing up is not necessary. Preplanning of movements is another way to eliminate unnecessary backing. When arriving, back in at parking lots and shopping centers so your first move leaving is forward.

Look for pull through parking before choosing to park where your first move is backing up. Always try to position yourself so that you can easily pull forward out of a parking spot.

If you need to back up after being in a fixed position, complete a walk around of your vehicle. This allows you to be aware of what is in your blind spots prior to making a move.

Clean the lens of and use backup cameras on equipment and vehicles. Ensure the back up alarm is working if so equipped

Use a spotter often. When backing is necessary and there are hazards such as other ground personnel, vehicles, heavy equipment, or fixed objects in the area then a spotter is necessary. Always consider the additional hazards created when a spotter is used in a work area with moving equipment or vehicles. Stop if you lose sight of your spotter.

Mark fixed objects with flags, cones or posts so they are more visible to those operating a motor vehicle or heavy equipment in a work area.

Place protective barricades and signage to protect critical or expensive equipment from struck-by incidents.



Backing can often be eliminated or greatly reduced when proper preplanning is used. Elimination should always be the first choice before relying on less effective safeguards such as mirrors, backup cameras or a spotter.

“Average driver operates a vehicle in reverse about one mile annually, yet 25-30% of all vehicle accidents occur backing up.”

S&ME Geotechnical Engineers, Safe Driving Training Manual

Hearing Protection – Avoiding cumulative effects

What’s the risk of Noise Exposure? When you are exposed to loud noises over long periods of time, you are at an increased risk of losing your ability to hear. Once the nerves of the inner ear are destroyed or damaged from exposure to excessive noise, the damage is permanent. It does not matter where you are exposed to excessively loud noise. Exposures can occur at work, home, or play. Power tools, recreational equipment, car races, musical bands or headphones can all generate excessive noise.

How to Reduce Sound Levels:

Injury due to sound is additive. Reducing the number of sources and more importantly the amount of exposure time to noise will reduce the overall potential for lasting injury.

Sound levels can be reduced by standing back from operating equipment, closing the windows on trucks and heavy equipment, and performing very loud activities such as arc cutting and grinding outside on nice days.

Protection depends on a good seal between the surface of the skin and the surface of the ear protector. A very small leak can reduce effectiveness. Protectors have a tendency to work loose as a result of working and talking and must be reseated from time to time during the workday.

Types of Hearing Protection Devices: Never use cotton, stereo headsets, earbuds, or other makeshift hearing protectors. They do not protect your ears from noise. Use one of the following:

Earplugs: Inserted into the ear canal to seal out noise. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions. They may be disposable or reusable. Never put dirty earplugs back in your ear. Injury, infection, and loss of hearing can result. The number on the side of the package is the number of decibels that are reduced by their use.

Earmuffs: Earmuffs are the best protectors. They have a headband with cushioned plastic cups to cover ears. Some can be clipped into hard hats to keep them with you all the time. Keep them clean and wiped down or they can get uncomfortable.

Double protection: Earmuffs and Earplugs should be worn in combination in high-noise areas when cutting pipe, arc gouging, chipping or crushing, and when stationary equipment, power tools and pumps are in use nearby in closed spaces.



“I don’t really need this PPE. Noise doesn’t bother me.”

We resist wearing hearing protection more than any other type of personal equipment. One of the most common reasons is we don’t think they really need it. But hearing loss is so gradual, even in intense exposures, that by the time you realize that you can’t hear as well as you used to, the damage has been done and can’t be reversed.

Three factors may be used to determine the level of noise:

1. If it is necessary for you to speak in a very loud voice or shout directly into the ear of a person to be heard, the noise exposure limit is being exceeded.

2. If you have ringing in your ears (tinnitus) at the end of the workday, or lying in bed, you are being overexposed.

3. If speech or music sounds muffled to you after leaving work, but sounds fairly clear in the morning when you return to work, you are being exposed to noise levels that can eventually cause hearing loss.

“Work hard in silence. Let your success make all the noise.”

Frank Ocean, American Singer-Songwriter

Slip, Trips, & Falls – Falls from the same elevation

OSHA reports slips, trips, or falls cause almost 20 percent of all workplace injuries. Second only to vehicle accidents. Slips and falls do not constitute a primary cause of fatal occupational injuries but represent the primary cause of lost days from work. A study by the Bureau of Labor Statistics found that 22% of slip & fall incidents resulted on average a combination of 31 days away and restricted work for each case.

According to Workers Compensation statistics, falls account for 16% of all claims, 33% of costs associated with sprains & strains, and 26% of all injury costs. We often underestimate the high potential for injury impacts by not addressing slippery, wet, muddy, or uneven walking and working surfaces.

Nearly all slips or falls have one or more of these factors as a cause:

  • substandard walking surfaces
  • surface contaminants
  • footwear
  • walking style
  • attitude of the person

Proper housekeeping and adequate lighting of the working area and walking surfaces can prevent most slips, trips, and falls. Sometimes surface contaminants can be very difficult to recognize as a hazard and once the hazard is noticed, must be cleaned up to prevent any risk of injury. Wearing the proper footwear for current weather conditions, as well as the surfaces being traveled, is important to prevent slips, trips or falls, and reduce fatigue. Headlamps, headlights, and flashlights are auxiliary light sources, not primary ones; light plant, work lights and string lights are suitable jobsite light sources.

Common Causes of Incidents on Walking and Working Surfaces

  • Trips occur when an obstruction catches the worker’s foot and causes them to stumble forward. Tripping hazards include cords, demo debris, tools, uneven floors, improperly stacked/stored materials, and unseen or unexpected objects in weeds or under snow. These tripping hazards should be addressed and avoided. Pick up and put away tools and cords after every use. When in use be aware of the danger they could pose in a walkway.
  • Slips occur when a person slides on a surface, causing a loss of balance. Slipping hazards include wet, icy, greasy, and frozen ground. Always wear proper foot apparel, that is not worn or damaged, appropriate for the job, with safety toe and slip-resistant. Use absorbents to clean up spills.
  • Falls occur from an individual descending freely by the force of gravity. A fall can happen from any surface higher than four inches such as ladders, large equipment, trucks, through a hole and off platforms. The majority of falls occur from heights less than 10 feet, use precautions even at lower heights. Three-point contact is required to climb onto/off of equipment & trucks.

Safe Practices for Individuals

  • Utilize handrails or grab bars in areas where there are stairs or changes in elevation.
  • Use 3 points of contact when accessing equipment (1 hand/2 feet) or (2 hands/1 foot).
  • When wet or icy, take smaller steps and try to ensure your torso stays balanced over your feet.
  • Minimize distractions to remain alert to hazards. Avoid carrying items that block your view.
  • Remove obstructions from travel areas, such as cords, hoses, boxes, and tools.
  • Stay alert to parts projecting from machines or equipment.

“Honestly I’ve never seen anyone slip and fall on a banana peel. That doesn’t mean the risk doesn’t exist.”

Neil Patrick Harris, Actor, “How I Met Your Mother”

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