Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Oregon HB 3186 Restricts Mobile Devices While Driving

House Bill 3186 (ORS 811.507), effective January 1, 2012, has modified Oregon’s law against using handheld communications devices while driving. The goal is to make our roads safer for everyone.

The new law limits the situations where drivers can use a handheld communications device for talking to these two times:
  • You may use your phone without a hands-free accessory to summon medical or other emergency help if no other person in the vehicle is capable of summoning help. 
  • If you are operating an ambulance or emergency vehicle, roadside assistance or tow vehicle, or if you are operating a utility vehicle while servicing a utility, you may use your cell phone without a hands-free accessory.
Those in violation face a minimum fine of $110 (Class D violation).

Key elements of Oregon’s cell phone law:
For the purposes of two way communication and most drivers, the situations where driv­ers can use a handheld device for communi­cation are the following:
1. To a person who is summoning medical or other emergency help if no other person in the vehicle is capable of summoning help;
2. To a person using a mobile communication device for the purpose of farming or agricultural operations;
3. To a person operating an ambulance or emergency vehicle;
4. To a person 18 years of age or older who is using a hands-free accessory;
5. To a person operating a motor vehicle while providing public safety services or emergency services as a volunteer;
6. To a person operating a motor vehicle while acting in the scope of the person’s employment as a public safety officer;
7. To a person activating or deactivating the mobile communication device or a function of the device;
8. To a person who holds a valid amateur radio operator license issued or any other license issued by the Federal Communications Commission and is operating an amateur radio.

National studies continue to show that using a cell phone creates a distraction - and distracted driving is unsafe driving. The Oregon Department of Transportation and ACTS Oregon encourage drivers to focus on the task at hand: driving safely from one point to the next. Drivers should avoid any kind of distraction, not just mobile communica­tion devices.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Be patient and we’ll all get home

By Norm Nyhuis, Trainer / Consultant, Evergreen Safety Council

Every now and then, all drivers see someone else do something so egregious that we say, “I wish there were a policeman around!”   Well, I witnessed such an incident just last week.  

Picture a sunny Friday afternoon and everyone is anxious to get home to start their weekend.  I was traveling south on a two-lane county road at about 3:30 pm.  Traffic was somewhat heavy, and it’s obvious that some drivers are getting impatient with the drivers who are stopping traffic behind them to make a left turn across the on-coming traffic.     

The car ahead of me at an intersection was signaling for a left turn.  From my vantage point, I could see that there were two reasons for the driver ahead of me to wait:

  1. There was on-coming traffic, and 
  2. The first vehicle in line from the opposite direction was a school bus, stopped to drop of kids on their way home from school.  
My pickup has a rather large canopy, so visibility past me is not great.  This was especially true for the driver behind me, who had pulled up so close; I could barely see the top of his head, in the bottom of my rear canopy window.  The bright sunshine in our faces also contributed to the driver not being able to see much past me. 

This impatient driver apparently thought it would be a good idea to let the old fuddy-duddy in the old Ford truck sit there, but s/he had more important things to do.  Using the extra space provided by the intersecting road on the right the driver passed not only me, but the car ahead of me, on the right shoulder.  Not a safe move by any means, but under these circumstances - the driver was past me and nearly past the car ahead of me (the guy signaling to make the left turn) before s/he saw the school bus with stop paddle out and red lights flashing.    Then, amazingly, the driver continued on past the school bus.

Did you know that a school bus driver has the authority to initiate a citation for illegally passing a school bus while it is loading or discharging children? It is a very expensive citation.  In this case, because this was only a two lane roadway, all traffic in both directions must stop until the bus driver retracts the stop paddle and the red lights are no longer flashing. 

Thankful, the school driver’s authority wasn’t needed in this case, because, the car immediately behind the school bus, who saw the entire scenario unfold, was… you guessed it: a County Sheriff’s Deputy.   The blue lights were already flashing as the impatient driver came past him, and after a quick U-turn the Deputy had the impatient driver pulled over about a ¼ mile farther down the road. 

I would have been interested to hear the conversation between the Deputy and the impatient driver:
  1. Improper passing of two vehicles on the right, 
  2. Driving in an area not designated as a lane of travel, 
  3. Passing a school bus discharging children, and 
  4. Who knows what all else.
This could be a very expensive lesson on why all of us need to exercise patience behind the wheel.  

Friday, February 10, 2012

Weather - Be Prepared For the Worst

Contributed by Kat Spitz, First Aid / CPR Instructor, Evergreen Safety Council

Yesterday, I was thrilled to see a dogwood beginning to blossom.  With spring rapidly approaching, “weekend warriors” will be out in full force walking, hiking, skiing and snowshoeing, along with many other outdoor activities.  But as plenty of people who love the mountains know, the weather can start out nice and change very, very quickly!

In mid-January, Yong Chun Kim, an experienced snowshoer and guide, became separated from his group on a hike above Paradise at Mount Rainier National Park.  He survived two nights in blizzard conditionswith only what he had packed for a day hike.
Yong Chun Kim handed his camera to rescuers, 
who snapped this photo of him as he was being carried 
after his rescue from Mt Rainier National Park

But people aren’t always so lucky.  Around that same time, four other people were also missing from Rainier.  They were presumed to be prepared enough to hunker down and wait for the bad weather to pass.  After four days, the conditions were still too difficult for even an elite team of mountaineers and the search was suspended.  It is assumed at this time that the missing climbers/hikers were probably getting low on supplies.

As of January 31, 2012, the four had still not been found and the search hadbeen “scaled back”.  It may be spring before we know their fate.

Even if you are just going for a day hike, it is imperative that you are prepared.  Bring food, water, fire starters, communication devices and warm clothes.  Make sure that someone knows when you leave, exactly where you plan to go, and when you plan to return.  The more detail you can provide about your plans before you go, the better the chances that you will be found if the worst happens.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Emergency Preparedness

Contributed by Al Filmore, Trainer / Consultant, Evergreen Safety Council

In today’s ever changing world we need to be prepared for whatever disaster that could befall us. This means, but is not limited to:
  • Disasters that we know are coming: storms, and
  • Disasters that happen suddenly: tornado, earthquakes, etc.
Some people don’t realize that disasters can leave you with the few things you can carry out in a hurry. We need to understand that preparedness is before an incident happens.

Separate kits should be in your car, at home, and at work. I myself have a backpack.     

Things you could carry in your disaster kit:
  • First Aid Kit 
  • Rope 
  • AM/FM Radio w/batteries/combination wind up 
  • Light sticks 
  • Ponchos with hood 
  • Flashlights wind-up or battery (L.E.D last longer) 
  • Bottled water 
  • Hygiene supplies (tissues, towelettes, infectious waste bag, toothbrush, toothpaste, soap, absorbent towel and feminine pad) 
  • Survival blankets 
  • Gloves 
  • Plastic bags 
  • Tarpaulin or plastic folded nicely 
  • Food bars 
  • Meals ready to eat (MRE’s) 
  • N95 dust masks 
  • Whistles 
  • Collapsible water/ shower container
Your Disaster Plan should contain:
  • A contact outside of the area 
  • A family meeting place 
  • Documents with allergy information, blood type, medications, and dosage 
  • Glasses, prescription card
Some families are using smart phones to store information and putting quick response (QR) UPC stickers with In Case of Emergency (ICE) information to send updated information to each other, or a central site like the Red Cross Safe and Well site for declared disasters.

These are sites you can refer to for more information and to help you be better prepared at home, while at play and when at work.

Evergreen Safety Council also offers customized onsite training at your company to help everyone be prepared. If you need help, give us a call 800-521-0778.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Safety & Health Solutions Newsletter - February edition

Contributed by Star Conrad, Director of Operations, Evergreen Safety Council
Evergreen Safety Council produces a monthly newsletter covering a variety of safety topics. Each month we will provide a link here to the online PDF.

Inside this Issue:

Lead Article – Have you noticed? We are getting older!
- Protecting Workers from Fall Hazards
- Hypothermia – Recognition, Causes, Treatment and Prevention
- Housekeeping Keeps Everyone Safe

You can also sign up to receive an electronic copy via email or hard copy via the mail. This link will also take you to a full archive with over four years of past issues.

So pour yourself a cup of coffee, sit back and read all about what's going on in the world of safety & health.