Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Another School Year Begins

Contributed by Norm Nyhuis, Trainer / Consultant, Evergreen Safety Council

The end of August means that many school districts are commencing the new school year. As I type this I'm envisioning my granddaughter, standing by the side of the road, waiting for the school bus to start her first day in the first grade. Although there are nearly 3000 miles separating us, the vision is very clear, as I know she's excitedly talking with her friends, comparing new school clothes, backpacks and lunch boxes.
All of us who drive, are affected by the opening of school, whether we have school age children or not. We need to be especially alert when passing though school zones or driving on streets where kids are in-route to school. As fall approaches, it is getting darker in the morning as sunrise comes later and later with the advancing seasons.

Most of us encounter school buses in our travels, and most of us may not be certain of what we should do in a given situation; which cars must stop when a school bus deploys its stop paddle and turns on its flashing red lights?

The Washington State Driver's Guide gives us the solution: When the red paddle and lights are deployed, all cars must stop, in either direction.

There is an exception: cars do not need to stop if the bus is in the opposite lanes, and
  • there are three or more marked traffic lanes,
  • the roadway is divided by a median,
  • the roadway is separated by a physical barrier.
Lets all do our best to keep the kids safe!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Issues with the Draft Fall Protection Code

Well, I’ve been told that I need to come up with a blog that might rattle some cages, here goes...but before, my apologies to my friends at DOSH. I do believe in their mission, but have heartburn with the draft fall protection code that is sitting in the wings.
Here are a couple of my issues.

First OSHA has exempted rolling stock from their definition of walking/working surfaces. - OSHA’s Definition - Walking/working surface means any surface, whether horizontal or vertical on which an employee walks or works, including, but not limited to, floors, roofs, ramps, bridges, runways, formwork and concrete reinforcing steel but not including ladders, vehicles, or trailers, on which employees must be located in order to perform their job duties.

Whereas, Washington State DOSH has not addressed vehicles, etc. in their draft rule. - DOSH’s Definition - Walking/working surface means any area including but not limited to floors, a roof surface, bridge, the ground, and any other surfaces whose dimensions are 45 inches or more in all directions, through which workers can pass or conduct work.

And since Washington triggers fall protection at 4 feet - The employer shall ensure that the appropriate fall protection system is provided, installed, and implemented according to the requirements in chapter 296-155 WAC, Part C-1 when employees are exposed to fall hazards of 4 feet or more to the ground or lower level when on a walking/working surface. I see an issue with an employee, say on a flat bed over 4 feet off the ground, and may have to be tied off or otherwise protected from falling. See how this can potentially be an issue for employers. Let’s have guard rails on equipment, yeah.

One other part of the draft regulation that may cause an issue for employers is work on steep sloped roofs (greater that a 4:12 pitch) because the new code will require fall protection on these steep slopped roofs at 4 feet:

Fall protection on steep-pitched and low-pitched roofs.
(a) Steep-pitched roofs. Regardless of the work activity, employers shall ensure that employees exposed to fall hazards of 4 feet or more while working on a roof with a pitch greater than 4:12 use one of the following:
(i) Fall restraint system. Safety monitors and warning line systems are prohibited on steep-pitched roofs;
(ii) Fall arrest system; or
(iii) Positioning device system.

I just thought I’d make you aware of what is coming down the pike. If you would like, you can read the entire draft fall protection code for yourself.
Stay safe
Director of Training
Office - 206-382-4090
Cell - 206-459-4843

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Stop, Drop and Hold

Contributed by Norm Nyhuis, Trainer / Consultant, Evergreen Safety Council

OK, we all saw the evening news or heard the report on the radio; Washington D.C. and the surrounding area was shaken up today, by a 5+ earthquake. While some may argue that "DC" could use a bit of shaking up, I was more impressed by what I saw in the video clips and reporting from correspondents who were there: in short, they did what we in the safety and preparedness industry have been telling everyone NOT to do.

Once the initial realization that a quake was in progress, and people got past the normal denial that most of us will experience, I saw literally no one on the video clips that were broadcast who took the recommended procedure of "Drop, Cover & Hold".

Too many people literally had that "deer in the headlights" look as the video cameras captured the moment. Granted there are few earthquakes in the "DC" area, at least as compared to the west coast, but they have happened in "DC", in the past.

Once outside, most people reached for their cell phones - this is a very bad thing to do. The telephone system, including the cell phone network, is not capable of providing service to every subscriber AT THE SAME MOMENT. The result is as best, "slow dial tone" or simply no dial tone. When an earthquake hits, and after addressing any injuries and accounting for those around you, hang up any telephone that has been shaken "off hook". This will allow those who really do need to call 9-1-1 to actually get dial tone, to make that emergency call. There will be plenty of time after the initial response is underway to make that call to your friends to share your experiences.

Let's take this as a reminder, to review the simple things we can do to be prepared for an earthquake;
* practice "Drop, cover & hold"
* buy or build a 72 hour emergency supply kit
* store water in dark colored containers - not plastic milk jugs - a gallon per person per day is a good start (don't forget your pets need water too)
* set up an out of state contact for you and your family to call if you are unable to get home from work or school following the quake

Interstate phone service will be restored first, if there is physical damage to the telephone lines - it literally will be easier to call out of state than across town.
Check out these and other tips at http://www.ready.gov/, and let's all be prepared for the next one.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Safe Boating During Seafair

Contributed by Norm Nyhuis, Trainer / Consultant, Evergreen Safety Council
 If you are planning on taking your boat out on Lake Washington to enjoy the Seafair Festivities take a moment first to insure your boat is properly equipped to make it a safe weekend.

You must have one properly sized life jacket (personal flotation device) for every person on board. Every life jacket is labeled by the manufacturer as to the size and weight of person it is intended to fit, correctly.

Don't make the mistake of thinking that a life jacket that will "support" an adult is certainly good for a child, who probably weighs significantly less than an adult. Children can easily slip out of a too-large life jacket, with all too often tragic results. Children below the age of 12 must wear their life jacket if they are on an open deck or in an open boat. There are no exceptions to this rule.

On a previous Seafair weekend several years ago, the patrol boat I was on encountered a sleek looking cabin cruiser, but the boat looked "odd". It was floating about a foot to a foot and a half lower in the water than its usual water line. Reason: there were nearly 50 people aboard a 36 ft boat. The boat was grossly overloaded, and to top it off the skipper could only produce 11 life jackets of any kind. Of the 11, two were found to be defective upon inspection, and therefore unusable. This cruise was immediately terminated, and the overloaded vessel was escorted to the nearest shoreline where all but a maximum of nine people at a time could be transported back to their home dock.

The skipper also appeared to have consumed a "cold one" or probably several "cold ones", so his wife assured us she could, and would, operate the boat, as she had not been drinking. The boarding officer gave them the benefit of the doubt, allowed the wife to take it back to shore to off load the extra people and the story should have ended at this point,

However, about two hours later the same boat - this time at least not overloaded - was seen being operated by the skipper who had been warned earlier about "drinking and driving". This time, the boarding officer placed the skipper under arrest, and since there was no one else aboard who had not been drinking - this man's wife was NOT aboard during the second encounter - the boat was taken in tow by a commercial towing vessel, back to their marina. As you can guess it was a very expensive lesson to learn.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Avoid Seafair BUI

Contributed by Norm Nyhuis, Trainer Consultant, Evergreen Safety Council
 Seafair is billed as the biggest party in Seattle, and I have no doubt that it is so. There will be literally thousands of folks on the water, enjoying the sunshine and having a good time. Unfortunately, some are having too good of a time. Many are enjoying a "cold one" of their choice and sadly some of them are intoxicated, before the day is even half over.

The penalties for BUI (Boating Under the influence) are severe, similar to the penalties for those who operate a motor vehicle on the highways while intoxicated. The various law enforcement agencies will be carefully watching for boats being operated in an unsafe manner, and will be conducting boardings where deemed necessary.

Here's the one sure way to keep it all safe: choose a designated sober skipper.

Negotiating the mass of boats, both anchored and drifting, as well as people in the water is tough enough, even without your "driving skills" being impaired.

Unfortunately, there is a small segment of boaters on the lake during this event who are even more dangerous; those who mix alcohol and other controlled substances. The chemicals in prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications and yes, illegal "street drugs", when taken together with alcohol have a greater debilitating effect, than either would have had by itself.

I've served aboard a patrol boat during many previous Seafair weekends, and I know firsthand that a drunk boater is a dangerous boater, please don't drink and attempt to operate your boat, this weekend or at any time.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Seafair Safety

It's the first week of August in Seattle. The streets are filled with a motley band of ner-do-wells, saying things like "Shiver me timbers!" and "AAArrrrgh!" On otherwise placid Lake Washington we hear the gentle sounds of thousands of horsepower both on and above the water. These clues can only mean one thing - it's time again for Seafair in Seattle.

IF you are planning on being on the water to watch the show, the hydros, the Blue Angles, and all the other attractions, here are a few safety tips:

The area from south of the I-90 floating bridge to a line from the Bailey Peninsula (Seward Park) to Mercer Island, is a NO WAKE zone. Several agencies, including the US Coast Guard, the Seattle Harbor patrol, King County Marine Units and DF&W will be present to enforce this rule.

Here's some reasons why: there will be more people and boats on the water in a relatively small area than at any other time of year. People will be swimming, floating on inner tubes or other devices and generally having a good time. A bobbing head only extends less than a foot above the surface of the water, add a little chop or wakes from passing boats and you can literally be running over someone before you'd ever see them. The wakes from boats also make it difficult for those who have paid a relatively large sum to be tied on the log boom to watch the hydro races. Rocking the boats against the boom and against each other can cause considerable damage. The skipper of a boat causing the wake that causes the damage is responsible for that damage.

Lastly, the wake often roll out on to the race boat course, making the course rough enough that boats skimming along at something around 150 mph can dip into a trough of your wake and this can (and has in the past) caused a boat to lose control, and go airborne, again causing great damage and potentially serious injury to the driver.

Be safe out there, and let's all enjoy the show!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Using a Flagger? Then its not Short Duration

Recently I have been receiving calls regarding short duration work zones and flagging operations. The crux of the calls deal with the Short Duration “exemption” regarding amount of traffic control devices, signs, etc when using a flagger for a short duration.  

The answer to this is simple in Washington State. IF YOU USE A FLAGGER FOR EVEN 1 SECOND – YOU MUST HAVE A FULL TRAFFIC CONTROL SET UP.  So you better at least of 3 signs for each approach (4 if speed is 45 mph or greater).  

Once more - If you are using flaggers, you cannot use the short duration exemption in Washington State, DOSH outweighs the MUTCD.  If you want more info check out WRD 27.20.

Director of Training
Office - 206-382-4090
Cell - 206-459-4843