Thursday, January 28, 2010

OSHA Respirator Safety Videos

Contributed by Eric Tofte, Director of Training, Evergreen Safety Council
On January 8, 2010, OSHA announced that they developed two new videos for healthcare workers that feature training and guidance on respirator safety.

OSHA's "Respirator Safety" video demonstrates how to correctly put on and take off common types of respirators, such as N95s. "The Difference between Respirators and Surgical Masks" video explains how they prevent exposure to infectious diseases.

Respiratory protection has been and always will be important. We have seen time and time again how respiratory hazards, such as silica and asbestos – just to name two – cause severe injury and death. So if your employees are exposed to respiratory hazards it is imperative that they are protected from respiratory hazards.

If you want to read the complete release, please follow this link.

If you need help with your respiratory protection program please call us at Evergreen.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010


Contributed by: Sandy Paquette, Trainer, Evergreen Safety Council

Early Travel
In the 19th century the primary means of early transportation were walking, horse and buggy, river boats, and steam ships. During this time women were hard at work in transportation.

In 1825 Rebecca Lukens found herself in charge of the Brandywine Iron Works in Pennsylvania upon her husband’s death. The iron mill was near bankruptcy when she took charge, but her management skills succeeded in establishing a valuable company producing boiler plates for ships and locomotives and later iron rails. The company was renamed Lukens Iron and Steel Company in 1890. Today, Lukens, Inc. is the oldest, continuously operating steel mill in North America.

Throughout these early years women also improved transportation by developing improvements to saddles, stirrups, hitching devices, and mechanisms to recover sunken ships.

Another early invention was a combined horse-detacher and vehicle brake, patented by Annie H. Chilton in 1891. The device allowed for the simultaneous application of the brake and release of the horse, which reduced the chance of injuries to drivers.

Federal Highway Administration

Tuesday, January 26, 2010


January 26, 2010.
U.S Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood today announced federal guidance to expressly prohibit texting by drivers of commercial vehicles such as large trucks and buses. Contained in DOT Order 3902.10, the prohibition is effective immediately and is the latest in a series of actions taken by the Department to combat distracted driving since the Secretary convened a national summit on the issue last September.
“We want the drivers of big rigs and buses and those who share the roads with them to be safe,” said Secretary LaHood. “This is an important safety step and we will be taking more to eliminate the threat of distracted driving.”

The action is the result of the Department’s interpretation of standing rules. Truck and bus drivers who text while driving commercial vehicles may be subject to civil or criminal penalties of up to $2,750.

"Our regulations will help prevent unsafe activity within the cab,” said Anne Ferro, Administrator for the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). “We want to make it crystal clear to operators and their employers that texting while driving is the type of unsafe activity that these regulations are intended to prohibit."
FMCSA research shows that drivers who send and receive text messages take their eyes off the road for an average of 4.6 seconds out of every 6 seconds while texting. At 55 miles per hour, this means that the driver is traveling the length of a football field, including the end zones, without looking at the road. Drivers who text while driving are more than 20 times more likely to get in an accident than non-distracted drivers. Because of the safety risks associated with the use of electronic devices while driving, FMCSA is also working on additional regulatory measures that will be announced in the coming months.

2009 John D Spellman Safety Award Recipients Announced


(Seattle, WA) – Evergreen Safety Council is proud to recognize Toray Composites America, Inc. as the 2009 recipient of the John D Spellman Safety Award.

Evergreen Safety Council (ESC) has established this annual safety award in order to recognize member organizations who have demonstrated significant improvement or achievements in their safety program. The recipient is selected from applicants by an ESC Board of Directors committee and will be presented at today’s Annual Membership meeting.

Established in 1992, Toray Composites America Toray Composites (America), Inc. is a leading producer of high quality advanced composite prepreg materials serving the needs of the recreational, aircraft and industrial markets.

In 2009, Toray Composites America refocused its efforts on safety by establishing an emphasis on associate involvement, hazard identification, and the tracking and completion of corrective actions. Their initial goal for the year was to reach a 6.1 OSHA recordable injury rate, a 50% decrease from 2008. To accomplish this goal, Toray implemented daily, weekly and monthly activities as well as special events that all served to put safety on the minds of all associates before they begin their work day; reinforce identifying unsafe conditions and work practices; and encouraged taking corrective actions to rectify those identified situations. The results were very impressive:
OSHA Recordable Rate - Through November 2009 = 3.4
– nearly an 80% reduction from 2008
Overall Incidents – reduced by 73%
Number of Injuries – reduced by 68%
Workers Comp costs reduced by $125,000

The award also recognizes one of Washington’s great public servants John D. Spellman, who was King County’s first elected County Executive and Washington’s 18th Governor. Governor Spellman has also been a member of Evergreen Safety Council’s Board of Directors for more than 30 years. In 1989 he served as President/Executive Director during a very critical period of restructuring and has served as Chairman of the Board of Directors since 1998

Evergreen Safety Council is the Northwest’s largest, independent, non-profit organization providing safety and health training and consultation services to businesses and organizations. ESC is a member of the National Safety Council and a founding member of the American Association of Safety Councils.

To learn more about safety training programs being conducted in the Greater Northwest, please view Evergreen Safety Council’s web site at
CONTACT: Tom Odegaard, President/ Executive Director 1.800. 521.0778

Monday, January 25, 2010

Working from an Elevated Platform

Contributed by: Norm Nyhuis, Trainer, Evergreen Safety Council

Working from an elevated location is part of many of our jobs. Often the circumstances require the used of powered, elevating work platforms in the form of a scissors or boom supported personnel lift. These are wonderfully versatile devices and provide a safe way for us to work elevated, and in compliance with applicable safety rules and regulations. However, creativity can sometimes compromise our safely. The ASME standards for elevating work platforms all state that all occupants feet must be on the platform floor. No climbing on the guard rails or using other devices such as this ladder, is permitted.

What caused this operator to take this risk? Was the machine’s elevating ability damaged or inoperative? If so, the machine should have been taken out of service until properly repaired. Fall protection as specified by the manufacture is required to be used by all occupants. The guard rails in the application provide the necessary fall protection. Being on the ladder shown, certainly takes the worker out of the protective envelope provided by the guardrails.

Work smart, work SAFE, don’t use powered equipment that is damaged, defective or not functioning as designed.

If you have employees who operate aerial or scissors lift equipment, contact Evergreen Safety Council for information regarding training of your operators.
Picture source: Navy Safety Center

Friday, January 22, 2010

Motorcycle and Sidecar/Trike Programs on Facebook

Contributed by: Monty "MEL" Lish, MC & STEP Program Manger, Evergreen Safety Council

Check out the Facebook pages for Evergreen Safety Council's motorcycle and sidecar/trike safety training programs and become a fan. Evergreen has the following pages - search for us on Facebook:
Evergreen Motorcycle Safety Training (EMST)
Sidecar/Trike Education Program (S/TEP)

These Facebook pages have albums of pictures from the different motorcycle classes that Evergreen offers, including albums for Motorcycle, Scooter, and Sidecar/Trike classes. We hope that future and past students, as well as anyone interested in riding will become fans of these pages so that we can interact, keep in contact and share our motorcycle interests.

So check out the motorcycle program pages, become a fan, and post a picture of your current or past motorcycle ride.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Benefits of Membership!

Just a quick reminder on two important dates

Celebrating 78 Years in Safety
Are you a member of ESC?
Are you interested in finding out how ESC's programs can help your company's morale, keep your workers safe, and improve your bottom line?

Then join us next Tuesday, January 26th at our Annual Membership Meeting & Luncheon.

Register online (select Register Today from the left column and then select Other Programs)

Program Highlights:
  • Member Recognition
  • Review of Operations & Programs – Gov. John Spellman, Board Chairman
  • Financial Audit Report for the Fiscal Year
  • Award of the Annual John D. Spellman Safety Award
  • Special Guest Speaker Training Sessions:
  • Active Shooter – Larry Kaminer, President, Personal Safety Training Group
  • Root Cause Analysis – Brian Hughes, Vice President, Apollo Associate Services, LLC
Program: 10:00 – 12:30 pm
Location: Evergreen Safety Training Center 401 Pontius Avenue N. Seattle, WA 98109
Full Luncheon Buffet: Three types of pasta, green salad, garlic bread, and dessert.
Cost: $20
Register online (select Register Today from the left column and then select Other Programs)

Application Deadline for the Monty C. Lish & Stanley O. McNaughton Scholarship for Safety & Health Careers
Friday, February 15th
Two Awards of $1000

Who is eligible?
All employees of ESC member companies, children or stepchildren of these employees, or children or stepchildren of member company owners

For more information please visit ESC’s Membership Page

Have a safe day.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

When the Well Has Gone Dry and Distracted Driving

Contributed by Eric Tofte, Director of Training, Evergreen Safety Council
Got a dry well that your employees do confined space entry into? If you do, is the air monitored (yes, in a dry well).

On January 12, 2010 OSHA announced that it had completed inspections prompted by a June 29, 2009, triple fatality at a Jamaica, N.Y., recycling facility. An employee of S. Dahan Piping and Heating Co., of South Ozone, N.Y., was fatally overcome by hydrogen sulfide gas while cleaning a dry well at Regal Recycling Co. Inc. The owner of S. Dahan Piping and Heating, who was also the worker's father, and a Regal Recycling employee also succumbed while trying to rescue him from the dry well.

OSHA's inspection found that S. Dahan Piping and Heating should have monitored the air quality in the dry well to determine if there was a lack of oxygen or the presence of another breathing hazard before any of its employees entered the dry well to perform their duties. If a hazard was found, protective measures would need to have been implemented prior to employee entry. OSHA defines a confined space as a space that has limited or restricted access of entry or exit, is large enough for a worker to enter and work in, but is not designed for continuous occupancy. Regal Recycling failed to post signs warning its employees of hazards that may be present in a confined space, such as the dry well.

To read the compete press release, go to this link.

Distracted driving prevention: New DOT Projects
Research shows that nearly 6,000 people died in 2008 in crashes involving a distracted or inattentive driver, and more than 500,000 were injured. On any given day in 2008, more than 800,000 vehicles were driven by someone using a handheld cell phone.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and National Safety Council President Janet Froetscher announced the creation of FocusDriven, the first national nonprofit organization devoted specifically to raising awareness about the dangers of distracted driving.

FocusDriven’s new website hosts information on distracted driving and ways to get involved in the project.

The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) recently launched a federal website with comprehensive information on distracted driving and a national PSA, featuring Secretary LaHood, to raise awareness about this dangerous driving behavior.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Distracted Driving and Road Constructions

By Norm Nyhuis, Trainer, Evergreen Safety Council
Road construction is a year-around proposition here in the temperate climate of the Pacific Northwest. As such we need to be aware of the road construction projects underway on the roads we frequently travel. Yes, there are various traffic controls out there to help us avoid trouble, and often there is a flagger to regulate the flow of traffic through the construction zone.

But, how often have we found ourselves reacting in a negative way to the delay caused by the construction? Worse still, when we become distracted by the pressures of the day, and perhaps have attempted to use our cell phones to salvage some productive time during the delay – further distracting us from the primary job of safely driving our vehicle? I am not sure that’s what this driver was doing, but the story goes that several lane markers and the frantic attempts to get the attention of the driver by the flagger on duty were ignored with the results being at least costly to do-over and at best very embarrassing. How’d you like to fill out the insurance claim on this event?

If your company employs flaggers for traffic control, your flaggers must have on their person, current, un-expired documentation that they have been trained. Flagger information and class schedules, as well as information on becoming a flagger instructor is available on the Evergreen Safety Council website. Get trained, don’t let something like this happen at your construction project.
Picture Source: Navy Safety Center

Monday, January 18, 2010

High-Visibility Safety Apparel

By Sandy Paquette, Trainer, Evergreen Safety Council

The American National Standard for High-Visibility Safety Apparel and Headwear (ANSI/ISEA 107-2004) is a standard established by the American National Standards Institute, Inc.

Before the first publication of this standard in 1999, there was no regulation or specific guideline for the design and performance of materials for high visibility safety apparel in the U.S. Since 1999, private industries as well as various federal, state, and local authorities have recognized the ANSI/ISEA 107-1999 standard.

Historically, the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices MUTCD (by the U.S. Department of Transportation - Federal Highway Administration) focused on visibility from the driver’s perspective: the use of traffic cones, drums, and signs to provide motorists with visual cues and clear channels of travel. Until the release of the 2003 edition where the ANSI 107-1999 was first introduced as a standard, the MUTCD provided only general guidelines for workers visibility in work zones.

The guidelines introduced in the 107-1999 standard have since become more explicit in the new 107-2004 standard. The American National Standard Institute, Inc. has broken down these specific guidelines into classes, and parameters that need to be addressed. These parameters include design, requirements for background and combined-performance for retro-reflective materials, photometric and physical performance requirements for retro-reflective materials and care labeling.

There are three distinct performance levels:
Class 1 – Apparel for the use in activities that permit the wearer’s full and undivided attention to approaching traffic. Ample separation of workers from traffic and speeds do not exceed 25 MPH.

Class 2 – Apparel for the use in activities where greater visibility is necessary during inclement weather or work in environments higher risks. Workers who perform tasks that divert their attention form approaching traffic or those with proximity to passing vehicles require a minimum of class 2. Class 2 is Washington State’s minimum for hours of daylight for flaggers.

Class 3 – Apparel for the highest level of visibility for workers facing serious hazards and/or high task loads that require attention away from their work. Garments cover more of the body, such as arms and legs to differentiate the worker from inanimate objects such as cones and other traffic control devices.

The combination of the Class2 garment and Class E pants equals a Class3 ensemble.

New regulations for high visibility apparel went into affect on November 24th of 2008
The Federal regulation CFR 634 states that “all workers” (including towing companies, emergency first responders, media and law enforcement) within the right-of-way of a Federal-aid-highway who are exposed either to traffic or construction equipment within the work area SHALL wear high visibility safety apparel meeting Class 2 or Class 3. Since there are 975,000 miles of Federal-aid-highways it is extremely difficult to determine what is and isn’t “Federal-aid” so, many employers are opting to assume that all roads are covered under the regulation to avoid inadvertent noncompliance.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Earthquake Preparedness

We normally don't post two items in one day, but this is timely and important...We encourage you to add your ideas and tips in the comment section.

By Norm Nyhuis, Trainer / Consultant, Evergreen Safety Council

As I write this article, the news media is flooded with reports from the January 12th earthquake that devastated the island nation of Haiti. Sadly, we may never have accurate information regarding the toll, both human and financial, of this event. At this moment, speculation runs the full spectrum from bad, to worse, to unimaginable.

For those of us who live in the Pacific Northwest, the heart breaking images flickering across our television screens strike very close to home. Earthquakes are a fact of life – actually almost a daily occurrence – for those of us who live along the Pacific Coast, and many of us have vivid memories of our own experiences during the recent earthquakes. Check out for an up-to-the-moment depiction of earthquake activity in the area.

The question is: what have YOU done to reduce the effect of an earthquake on your family?

In 1983, FEMA established a comprehensive Earthquake Education Program under the authority of the National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Act of 1977. The intent of this FEMA program include increasing awareness of earthquake hazards and encouraging everyone, both individuals and businesses, to get involved in earthquake preparedness and hazard reduction.

FEMA has published lists that summarize some recommendations for increasing earthquake preparedness actions at work, school, and in your home.

· Post clear instructions for actions to take during and after an earthquake
· Hold earthquake drills on site
· Instruct personnel how to assist customers and visitors to your work site during an earthquake and to direct evacuation of buildings
· Securely store hazardous materials
· Keep a flashlight at sales counters, in desk drawers, and other areas that would be difficult to evacuate or inspect in the dark
· Make provisions for secure storage of essential data and information for your business operations
· Identify an alternate location to conduct business if your primary facility is structurally damaged and can not be occupied.
· Maintain an inventory and location list of valuable items that may need to be moved to a temporary site following an earthquake
· Protect computer systems and personal computers against damage and loss of data as a result of ground shaking and power outage – surge protectors, earthquake straps, regular back-up of data and possibly off-site storage of those back-ups.

Parents need to talk with their school district administrators to learn about the “seismic safety” of school buildings (have they been evaluated?) and encourage the district to improve the ability of school buildings to resist ground shaking without total or partial collapse. In addition, school districts should develop an earthquake safety program.

· Hold earthquake drills, “drop, cover & hold” including evacuation of the building
· Inform parents about plans to care for students during and after a major earthquake – parents should provide their children with a personal 72 hour kit.
· Encourage the training of school personnel in first aid, CPR, search and rescue techniques, and building safety procedures, such as turning off damaged utilities.
· Develop an attendance system that will provide an accurate list of all students and staff on site, each day
· Include information on earthquakes and earthquake preparedness in the curriculum

Among the many things homeowners and families can do are:
· Have family earthquake drills
· Have a family plan for what family members should do during and after an earthquake
· Make sure children know what to do during an earthquake if they are at home alone, and where the family should leave messages if relocation is necessary – this means establishing an out of state contact where each family member can call to report their location
· Build or buy a “grab n’ go” kit of sufficient size to accommodate your family if you need to evacuate your home
· Take some simple and inexpensive steps to reduce the damage to your home and its contents by securing tall cabinets to the wall studs, and secure items to the shelves with sticky gels or similar products
· Know where and how-to shut off damaged utilities and have the necessary tools available to do so

There is a great deal of useful information on the FEMA website, we encourage to become informed and take action.

OSHA's Regulatory Priorities

By Eric Tofte, Director of Training, Evergreen Safety Council
Well as we all know the Secretary of Labor’s vision of Good Jobs for Everyone “requires a safe and healthy workplace for all workers. OSHA's regulatory program is designed to help workers and employers identify and control hazards in the workplace and prevent injuries, illnesses and fatalities. OSHA's current regulatory program demonstrates a renewed commitment to worker protection.”

So OSHA has release their regulatory priorities which identifies major safety projects OSHA is going to embark on. These include:
Airborne Infectious Diseases - Airborne infectious diseases such as tuberculosis, severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), and influenza can be spread from person-to-person. OSHA is interested in protecting the nation's 13 million healthcare workers from airborne infectious diseases.
Occupational Injury and Illness Recording and Reporting Requirements (Musculoskeletal Disorders) - OSHA is proposing to revise its regulation on Recording and Reporting Occupational Injuries and Illnesses (Recordkeeping) to restore a column on the OSHA 300 Injury and Illness Log that employers will check when recording work-related musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs).
Cranes and Derricks - OSHA's existing rule, which dates back to 1971, is partly based on industry consensus standards that are over 40 years old. On October 9, 2008,
Crystalline Silica - Inhalation of respirable silica dust can cause lung disease, silicosis and lung cancer.
Combustible Dust - Combustible dust can cause catastrophic explosions like the 2008 disaster at the Imperial Sugar refinery that killed 14 workers and seriously injured dozens more.
Hazard Communication Standard - Global Harmonization System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals - OSHA and other U.S. agencies have been involved in a long-term project to negotiate a globally harmonized approach to informing workers about chemical hazards.
Beryllium - Beryllium is a lightweight metal that has a wide variety of applications, including aerospace, telecommunications and defense applications.
Diacetyl - Employee exposure to diacetyl causes obstructive airway disease, including the disabling and sometimes fatal lung disease called bronchiolitis obliterans or “popcorn lung.”
Walking / Working Surfaces - Subparts D & I - This proposed standard will update OSHA's rules covering slip, trip and fall hazards and establish requirements for personal fall protection systems.

To view the complete press release, check here.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Legislation Set to Affect Different Aspects of Driving

The Motorcycle Safety Education Advisory Board

By Monty E. Lish "MEL", Motorcycle Program Manager & S/TEP Program Manager, Evergreen Safety Council

Alert: HB 2617 Eliminating Boards and Committees
The omnibus bill to eliminate boards and commissions has been introduced in the house. (It is HB 2617). Section 151 eliminates the Motorcycle Safety Education Advisory Board and Section 157 eliminates the Non-highway and Off-Road Vehicle Activities Advisory Committee.

The Motorcycle Safety Education Advisory Board was created by law to help the Director of the Department of Licensing manage the motorcycle safety program.

Board membership
The board has 5 members:

  • Three active motorcycle riders or people actively involved in a non-profit motorcycle organization that actively support motorcycle safety.
  • One member of the Washington State Patrol with at least 5 years’ experience, and at least 1 year’s experience as a motor officer.
  • One member of the general public.

Board members serve a 2-year term of office, and receive no compensation for services, except reimbursement for travel expenses while engaged in business of the board.

This board is self supporting and requires no funding from the state budget. This board advises or offers opinions to the Coordinator of the Washington Motorcycle Safety Program (WMSP) to help support or improve motorcycle safety training in the state.

The elimination of this board accomplishes nothing for the state budget and only hurts the process for providing motorcycle safety training.

Cell Phone Bill - Driving While Texting

Please visit Driven to Distraction Task Force for all of the latest media stories regarding the legislation and press conference. The media has been overwhelmingly supportive of the legislation.

Today marks the the first day of the legislative session in Olympia. A hearing for the cell phone bill is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. Wednesday, January 20 in the Senate Transportation Committee. Stay tuned this week for more details, including specific calls-to-action on House Bill 2635.

Thanks again for your support. We're off to a great start of session thanks to each of you!
Lindsay M. Pease

Monday, January 11, 2010

Crane Operation Safety

By Norm Nyhuis, Training / Consultant, Evergreen Safety Council
Even though it is a typically rainy, January day, one coping technique for surviving winter in western Washington is to think ahead to those warmer and drier days to come. When spring finally arrives, many of us will be thinking about yard work. And those of us who use heavy powered equipment may be tempted to creatively adapt that equipment to facilitate the job at hand.

Since certification of crane operators is now a requirement for cranes used in construction, this photo illustrates several safety issues.

First – I’d give the guy an “A” for creativity – sort of following in the footsteps of the TV character, Tim “the tool man” Taylor. However, I’d run out of space before I covered all the potential dangers in this scene depicted. Here’s a few:
  • The web-sling rigging appears to be attached low on the mower: what is the center of gravity for this load, and could it overturn?
  • The ASME standard requires that personnel only be elevated in approved personnel baskets, equipped with appropriate fall protection, and only if no other means is available or practical to access the specific location.
  • At minimum, the manufacturer’s requirement that the equipment – both the boom truck and the mower – be used only for the purposes for which it was designed, is being violated.

Picture Source: Navy Safety Center

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Pedestrian Safety

By Sandy Paquette, Roadway Programs Safety Trainer, Evergreen Safety Council
In 2007, 4,654 pedestrians were killed and 70,000 were injured in traffic crashes in the United States. On average, a pedestrian is killed in a traffic crash every 113 minutes and injured in a traffic crash every 8 minutes

In the past the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) concentrated most of its safety resources on improving the roadway-driver environment more than pedestrian and bicyclist environment. Reducing pedestrian fatalities and injuries now is one of the FHWA Safety Office’s top priorities.

The FHWA’s new approach is not only provide roadway engineers and agencies with the tools and resources they need to improve the roadway safety environment for foot and bike traffic but also include education and an outreach program. This is a three-pronged strategy: (1) educate the public about safer behavior, (2) get drivers into the habit of watching for and yielding, (3) ensuring that engineers and planners accommodate for non-motorized traffic when they design roadways and other transportation facilities.

These goals will take time to accomplish, until then we must take safety precautions for ourselves, families and friends. The Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center website has many resources to assist in safe walking and bilking practices to educate ourselves.

Make yourself visible to drivers:
  • Wear retro-reflective materials and bright/light colored clothing and if using an umbrella use a brightly colored one.
  • Carry a flash light when walking during hours of darkness
  • Use caution when wearing headphones and talking on cell phones while walking, especially when crossing the street
  • Stand clear of buses, hedges, parked cars or other obstacles before stepping into the street so drivers can see you.

Avoid dangerous behaviors:

  • Always walk on the sidewalk; if there is no sidewalk, walk facing traffic.
  • Stay sober; walking impaired increases your chance of being struck.
  • Don’t assume vehicles will stop; make eye contact with drivers and wait until they show signs of slowing or stopping.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Washington’s Seat Belt Use Rate Remains Near the Top High Use Rate Contributes Strongly to a Declining Death Rate

The results of the latest observational seat belt use survey in Washington were released January 5th and show that Washington continues to have one of the highest rates of seat belt use in the United States. This year’s use rate of 96.4% is a slight dip from the 2008 use rate.

Year / Rate
2005 / 95.2%
2006 / 96.3%
2007 / 96.4%
2008 / 96.5%
2009 / 96.4%

"Increases in seat belt use have contributed strongly to drops in traffic deaths in Washington," said Lowell Porter, Director of the Washington Traffic Safety Commission. "There was a 31% drop in vehicle occupant deaths from 1986 to 2008 while vehicle miles traveled increased 34% over this same time period."

In 1986, when Washington first adopted the seat belt law, seat belt use was at 36% and there were 528 vehicle occupant deaths, compared to 362 deaths in 2008.

"We’re optimistic the number will continue on this downward trend," Porter continued. "Washington has set a goal of zero traffic deaths by 2030."

Each year a nationwide observational seat belt survey is conducted. The 2009 survey in Washington comprised 87,946 vehicle driver and passenger observations. It was conducted statewide on a variety or road types following research protocols established by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

Studies conducted in Washington show that medical costs from crashes amount to more than $276 million each year in Washington. An unbelted vehicle occupant’s medical costs average $11,000 more per collision than those of a belted vehicle occupant’s.

"Our high seat belt use rate is a reflection of the hard work of our law enforcement community," said Tom Robbins, Chief of Police in Wenatchee and Co-Chair of the Washington Association of Sheriff’s and Police Chief’s Traffic Committee. "Officers are willing to write seat belt tickets because they respond to collisions and see first hand that seat belts save lives and reduce injuries."

The report shows that seat belt use is highest for people in passenger vehicles (96.8%) and SUV’s (97.3%), with vans rating third (95.5%) and pickups at (94.5%).

"Prior to the adoption of the Click It or Ticket Project in 2002, seat belt use among pickup truck drivers was a full 10 percentage points lower than other vehicle types so we’ve made great progress in getting people to buckle up in their trucks," Porter said.

An analysis by road type shows seat belt use is highest on state highways and interstate freeways and lowest on city streets and county roads. To view Target Zero, Washington’s Strategic Highway Safety Plan, click here.

For additional information about the Washington Traffic Safety Commission, visit

Media Release Contacts:
Jonna VanDyk, WTSC Occupant Protection Program Manager, 360.586.3870
MJ Haught, WTSC Communications Manager 360.725.9885

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Health Resolutions for the New Year

Hopefully, the few days of your new year has gone beautifully! If you are like most people, you may have even made a few “resolutions”. Studies show that 40-45% of Americans make resolutions every year, and at least one of those usually involves a promise to eat healthier and exercise more. Even though health related resolutions are made with the best of intentions, they often fail because people try to do too much too soon. (Certainly, if you attend the gym regularly, you notice the new crop of attendees every year that tends to dwindle after the first month or two.) People make promises to themselves that they are just not mentally prepared for or physically able to keep.

While failure to keep these health related promises is disappointing, it also has the potential to be very dangerous or in rare cases, deadly. For those with cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, diabetes or for anyone embarking on a new fitness program after being sedentary, it is imperative that before you begin any diet or exercise program you visit your physician to get medical advice and physical clearance.

No one disputes the advantages of physical fitness. The trick is to start slow and make attainable goals. In general, to achieve maximum benefits, you should gradually work up to an aerobic session lasting 20 to 30 minutes, at least three to four times a week, but even just walking for 20 minutes a day has been shown to strengthen your heart and cardiovascular system, improve your circulation and help your body use oxygen more efficiently.

Other benefits of regular exercise include:

  • Lower blood pressure
  • Increase energy levels and endurance
  • Improve muscle tone and strength, balance and flexibility
  • Strengthen bones
  • Reduce body fat and maintain a healthy weight
  • Help reduce stress, tension, anxiety and depression

In talking to your physician, here are some questions you might consider asking to make your new fitness program safe and effective:

  • How much exercise can I do each day?
  • How often can I exercise each week?
  • What type of exercise can I do?
  • What type of activities should I avoid?
  • Should I take my medication(s) at certain times around my exercise schedule?
  • Do I need to take my pulse while exercising?
  • What modifications should I make to my diet?

If you are planning to turn your health around this year by starting a diet and exercise program, please begin safely by visiting your physician to discuss the proper course of action for you! Stay healthy and safe in 2010!

Monday, January 4, 2010

OSHA Going Green

By Eric Tofte, Director of Training, Evergreen Safety Council
On December 16, Dr. David Michaels, Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health (OSHA) delivered remarks to The NIOSH Going Green Workshop entitled Making Green Jobs Safe: Integrating Occupational Safety & Health into Green and Sustainability.

This workshop was to focus on safety issues for upcoming “green” jobs. The remarks, which can be found here discussed the push to newer green jobs and not to compromise safety. Within these remarks, Dr. Michaels identified five green reform principles. These 5 principles are:

Green Reform Principle number 1 to move “forward on green jobs is to ensure that workers are more engaged in the work process and in the development of green jobs. It's clear that we must move toward a permanent system where employers and workers come together, on a basis of mutual respect, to assess and abate hazards.”

Green Reform Principle number 2 is the big picture is chemical safety. “For example, the European Community's REACH program will provide industry and American workers with more and better information about the chemicals they are exposed to. More important, REACH is also, finally, challenging the old paradigm where chemicals are considered innocent until proven guilty - and all too often proven guilty by the sick and dead bodies of American workers.”

Green Reform Principle number 3 is that “OSHA will be fully involved in the movement toward Prevention through Design. Prevention through Design is about fundamental change that integrates safety efficiently and thoroughly.”

Green Reform Principle number 4 “Where, and when possible, OSHA must move ahead on rulemaking for urgently needed standards - and to create good standards, we'll need the input of scientists and engineers, academics, students and workers. We'll also need allies in the progressive business community who will say "yes" to sensible changes and participate in the rulemaking process with constructive comments and insight.”

Lastly, Green Reform Principle number 5. “Enhancing workers' voice in the workplace. To get us up to date and move into a safer, healthier future, it's also clear that workers must have a stronger voice in workplace safety than they have now. Giving that voice impact and value means that workers must have much better information about their rights, the hazards they face and controls for those hazards.”

Just a bit of information to make you realize that even in this economic down turn and the search for newer jobs, OSHA and DOSH will be there and we cannot begin to short cut safety.