6 top causes of construction injuries (and how to avoid them)

According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), 1 in every 10 construction workers are injured on the job every year. While there’s no way to completely eliminate risks on a construction site, many of them can be mitigated with proactive thinking and a watchful eye.

Below, we’ll be taking a look at 6 of the top ways injuries occur on construction sites and how you can stay as safe as possible.

Falling from ladders:

According to OSHA, falling hazards are the leading cause of construction site injury, and many of these come from improper ladder usage. When using a ladder, always make sure that it is tied down and that it has three points of contact at any given time. Also, pay careful attention to any posted weight limits (this includes not just your bodyweight, but also the gear you’re carrying).

Scaffolding hazards:

As with ladders, scaffolding contributes to many of the falling injuries every year. 65% of construction workers use scaffolding on the job, and as anyone who has ever used it knows, it requires extreme caution. Make sure you’re always wearing a helmet and boots, and always pay attention to any posted weight limits on scaffolding.

Improper lifting technique:

When it comes to lifting, following some basic rules can save you a lot of injury. Always lift with your legs and not with your back. Make sure to do some dynamic stretches before attempting to lift anything heavy to keep your muscles loose. Finally, never underestimate how heavy something is. Just because it looks light, doesn’t mean it can’t cause serious injury.

Heavy machinery:

Don’t crowd any excavating, loading, paving, or dozing machinery. Many preventable construction incidents occur when workers are too close to heavy machinery. It’s a good idea to always have a lookout whenever possible to ensure an area is clear before operating any industrial equipment.

Improperly entering or loading machinery:

On a construction site, it’s often the simplest things that cause the most harm, such as improperly loading or entering machinery. Always check to assure your boots, gloves and other equipment are free of mud and grime to avoid slipping and falling. Also, be sure to follow all operating or loading instructions carefully. On the job, extra care is always better.

Not being proactive:

The best way to avoid construction site injury is to be proactive in identifying and eliminating risks. Always report safety violations and make suggestions on how to make the worksite safer. Alarm others of any potential hazards that you see around or near them. Most importantly, stay diligent and do everything you can to ensure the safety of yourself and your team.

How can safety whistles help during a natural disaster?

Several incidents over the past few years have shown us that natural disasters can happen anywhere, at any time. Earthquakes, wildfires, hurricanes, tornados, and other disasters can be unquestionably devastating to a community.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), natural disasters kill around 90,000 people and affect around 160 million people worldwide every year. With the threat posed by these events, it is important to be prepared ahead of time so that if a catastrophic event arises and you need help, you can be found and rescued.

Among the wide variety of essential items to keep in a survival kit, safety whistles are an extremely valuable asset to have during a natural disaster. When disaster strikes, it often leaves destruction in its wake, causing people to get stuck or trapped in buildings, cars, or under rubble. Dust and smoke in the air can impede one’s ability to yell for help and attract the attention of others. Safety whistles don’t require much effort to blow and are significantly louder than shouting. These safety devices can help make a victim’s location known so that first responders and search and rescue teams know where help is needed.

Whistles for Life™ offers a safety whistle that was specifically designed to perform in extreme conditions. Our whistle has three chambers: a center chamber with a waterproof pea that emits a loud staccato sound and two side chambers that create separate, omnidirectional sounds. The 120-decibel blast that comes from a single blow of this whistle can be heard above first responder sirens and other environmental sounds during a natural disaster.

With its powerful yet compact design, the Whistles for Life safety whistle can easily be kept in a desk, clipped to a jacket, or kept on a keychain for easy and instant access. Outfitting employees, friends, and family with a safety whistle can ensure that everyone is prepared for whatever may strike. The whistle is also constructed from strong ABS plastic, so it won’t stick to lips, crack, fail, or freeze. Designed with a waffled grip, the Whistles for Life safety whistle is easy to grasp even with wet, cold, or gloved hands.

Whistles for Life’s safety whistles are the official whistle for the National Association for Search and Rescue (NASAR), meaning we are trusted by safety professionals called on to help during natural disasters. To see our other endorsements, check out some of our testimonials.

Be prepared for all catastrophic situations. To learn more about how our whistle can be an effective safety tool in a variety of scenarios, check out some of our other blogs here.

Staying protected from utility hazards

According to a recent report from DEKRA (a safety consultancy company), utility jobs have one of the highest rates of serious injuries and fatalities when compared to similar industries. Not only are there job-specific hazards in the utility field, but there are also many elemental, electrical, vehicle, and other dangers as well.

When working jobs in the electric, gas, sewer, and water sectors, the potential safety issues can be unrelenting and numerous. It truly is an industry where a little extra attention goes a long way in preventing potential injuries.

Whether you’re a safety manager or a utility employee, below are some tips to stay safe while on your next job.

Know the procedures:

Every job site should have clearly posted safety signs and labels both to prevent accidents and to provide guidance should an accident happen. Ensure both yourself and everyone on your team is familiar with these guidelines and is prepared to execute any necessary actions in the event of an accident. Make sure that they’re posted in obvious locations and are simple to find should the need arise.

Maintain flexibility:

While it can be tempting to bend, reach, lift, and stretch to get things done quickly, make sure you stay limber. Many preventable injuries happen because muscles and ligaments weren’t properly warmed up. Spend some time learning dynamic and static stretches, and ensure that you follow a flexibility regiment to help protect yourself on the job.

Stay mindful of conditions:

While it may seem simple, many injuries are caused by things that we tend to overlook. It’s important to always be mindful of what’s in front of you. When walking, climbing, lifting, or doing any other work, pay close attention to the local area. Is the ground wet? Are your views unobstructed? Can you clearly see where you’re going? All of these are important considerations to help avoid injury.

Communicate:

On any job site, effective communication is critical. Communication can be difficult on loud sites, so it’s important to have well established non-verbal signals. Also, having easily accessible noise-signaling gear (such as a safety whistle) can ensure help is quickly and effectively notified in the event of an emergency.

Do not rush:

While it can be tempting to rush to do routine tasks, it’s important to step back and ensure safety is the priority. Many preventable injuries occur when proper attention isn’t paid in hopes of accomplishing something faster. Always take time to step back and analyze whether proper safety measures have been taken, even if it’s a task you do all the time.

Ultimately, the key is to ensure that you take personal responsibility for the safety of yourself and those around you. A little extra attention goes a very long way in preventing accidents and injury, and that all starts with everyone on site.

How can a whistle be your most effective college safety tool?

Since millions of students and faculty call university campuses home every year, staying safe on campus is a top priority. With many of these students living on their own in an unfamiliar environment for the first time, making sure everyone is prepared for potential criminal activity is crucial.

We recently shared a video containing important tips for staying safe while on campus. Many of these tips, such as following alert systems, knowing the location of emergency phones, and paying close attention to your surroundings are helpful in being less susceptible to crime. But in the unfortunate event that you are put in an unsafe position on campus, having effective safety gear such as a safety whistle can help.

What makes safety whistles great campus safety tools?

Sound is the number one deterrent of criminal activity. When in perilous situations, we can often be paralyzed with fear and are unable to effectively scream for help. By having a 120-decibel safety whistle at the ready, you can ensure that you’re prepared for anything. Even in situations where yelling for help isn’t possible, if you can breathe, you can blow this whistle.

Safety whistles are also one of the safest ways to defend yourself. Other forms of personal defense devices don’t attract attention to the situation where help is needed. Also, whistles can’t be turned against you.

Small and compact, safety whistles can easily be clipped to jackets, backpacks, or keychains for easy access at any time.

How is the Whistles for Life safety whistle different?

The Whistles for Life safety whistle is compact yet powerful with a patented three-chambered design. One chamber has a waterproof pea that creates a loud, staccato sound, while the other two create omnidirectional sounds at different frequencies. The 120-decibel blast from one blow on this whistle is enough to easily and effectively call attention to any dangerous situation.

Whistles for Life whistles also have a domed jewel that can display your university’s logo or the logo of any on-campus organization. This jewel is covered by a self-healing, UV-resistant resin, keeping your logo pristine and ready to be proudly displayed for years to come.

Who is it ideal for?

The Whistles for Life safety whistle makes a great giveaway for any on-campus organization, faculty training, safety program, student orientation, or even for sale in a university store. Outfitting students and organizations with safety whistles ensures that they’re prepared for whatever may happen.

Whether you are a student or a university organization dedicated to keeping the student body safe, safety whistles can provide your school with security and protection.

5 common causes of boating accidents (and how to prevent them)

As spring starts to come into focus, many of us have our minds set on getting back out on the water. While there’s no question that aquatic activities are enjoyable ways to soak up some sun, as any boater can tell you, there are always risks involved. It’s important to proactively consider these risks and to make sure that you and your passengers are ready for whatever may strike.

Below, we’ll be taking a look at 5 of the most common causes of boating accidents and what you can do to stay safe during your next maritime adventure.

Excessive speed:

One of the leading causes of boating accidents, boating at excessive speeds can result in losing control and rolling over, or worse, collisions with other vessels. Be mindful of the conditions in which you’re boating and always adjust your speed accordingly. Also, keep a close eye on any posted speeds and always be careful to follow them.

Running out of gas:

Especially in turbulent conditions, it can be deceptively easy to miscalculate the amount of gas needed for even the shortest nautical trips. A good rule of thumb to follow is to always bring along 20% more fuel than the most that you think you’d need. Also, carrying around an oar or paddle is a good way to stay mobile just in case you do run out of fuel.

Inclement weather:

Doing research ahead of time on weather conditions is important, but as any boater knows, weather can change in an instant. Never leave port when you aren’t absolutely sure of the conditions. Also, make sure you have a consistent way to check for weather updates, such as a portable radio or GPS device. Stay attuned to your senses, and if it feels like there’s any chance the weather could get dangerous, don’t take the risk.

Equipment failure:

Equipment failure can leave you stranded on your vessel, or worse, struggling in the water. Make sure you practice proper boat maintenance and get regular inspections to ensure your vessel is ready to handle the sea. Always carefully double check all instruments and equipment before leaving port. In the event of an equipment failure, make sure you’re prepared with the proper safety gear.

Lacking proper safety gear:

The US Coast Guard requires all children under 13 years of age to be wearing a life jacket at all times while on a boat, and that’s a good rule of thumb for adults, too. There are many different kinds of life jackets, so ensure that everyone has the correct one for both the conditions and the size of the person.

In addition to life jackets, it’s important to also have other essentials for safety, such as first aid kits, flares, and sound signaling devices (such as a working horn or a high-quality safety whistle). You never know what may happen on the water, so it’s always better to be over-prepared when it comes to safety gear.

 

Diligence and attention go a long way when it comes to staying safe while boating. Take personal responsibility for your safety and the safety of your passengers, and remember, more caution is always better, even if it seems like overkill.

Cooking safety for the holiday season

The holiday season is upon us, and that means colder nights, holiday lights, and plenty of large feasts with family and friends. It’s a wonderful time of the year, but also a time where we can easily be distracted with all the holiday festivities and become less aware of potential safety concerns around us. Seeing as many of us will be doing a lot of in-home cooking this time of year, we wanted to provide you with some key information around home cooking fires and some best practices in staying safe.

According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), cooking causes an average of 173,200 reported home structure fires per year (49 percent of all reported home fires in the US), with the peak days for home cooking fires being Thanksgiving and Christmas. Having to deal with the ramifications on an in-home cooking fire would not be a fun way to spend your Christmas, so be aware and be prepared. That may seem like a generic statement, but it’s extremely important to be aware as most of these in-home cooking fires are the result of “unattended cooking”. While catching up with family and friends, it can be easy to forget about all the yummy food in the oven and on the stove. So, we implore you to remember these cooking safety tips below from the NFPA.

NFPA cooking fire prevention tips:

  • Be on alert! If you are sleepy or have consumed alcohol, don’t use the stove or stove-top.
  • Stay in the kitchen (or place where the cooking is happening) while you are frying, grilling, boiling, or broiling food.
  • If you are simmering, baking, or roasting food, check it regularly, remain in the kitchen while food is cooking, and use a timer to remind you that you are cooking.
  • Keep anything that can catch fire – oven mitts, wooden utensils, food packaging, towels, and curtains – away from your stove-top.

If you do experience a cooking fire:

  • Just get out! When you leave, close the door behind you to help contain the fire.
  • Call 9-1-1 or the local emergency number you have.
  • If you try to fight the fire, be sure others are getting out and you have a clear way out.
  • Keep a lid nearby when you’re cooking to smother small gas fires. Smother the fire by sliding the lid over the pan and turn off the stove-top. leave the pan covered until it is completely cooled.
  • For an oven fire, turn off the heat and keep the door closed.

Safety considerations for cooking with oil:

  • Always stay in the kitchen when frying on the stove-top.
  • Keep an eye on what you fry. If you see wisps of smoke or the oil smells, immediately turn off the burner and/or carefully remove the pan from the burner. Smoke is a danger sign that the oil is too hot.
  • Heat the oil slowly to the temperature you need for frying or sauteing.
  • Add food gently to the pot or pan so the oil does not splatter.
  • Always cook with a lid beside your pan. If you have a fire, slide the lid over the pan and turn off the burner. Do not remove the cover because the fire could start again. Let the pan cool for a long time. Never throw water or use a fire extinguisher on the fire.
  • If the fire does not go out or you don’t feel comfortable sliding a lid over the pan, get everyone out of your home. Call the fire department from outside.

 

For more information around staying safe this holiday season, visit the National Fire Protection Association website at NFPA.org. Here is a link to their fire causes & risks section: https://www.nfpa.org/Public-Education/Fire-causes-and-risks

Happy holidays and stay safe!

Winter’s around the corner, are you prepared?

Winter is around the corner and with it comes fun recreational activities, such as skiing, snowboarding, sledding, and snowmobiling to name a few. These are great ways to spend the winter with your friends and family, but it’s important to ensure you’re prepared for any emergency situation. Here are some safety tips for staying safe while enjoying the many winter sports:

  1. Prepare for the worst- Pack for more than expected in every sense, harsh winter weather and storms can delay travel to and from wherever you are engaging in winter recreation. Bring extra food water and clothes just in case.
  2. Know what you are doing- Skiing, snowboarding, snowmobiling, etc. are a lot more dangerous when you don’t know what you are doing. Seek out training and experience and start slow when partaking in any of these activities.
  3. Check your equipment- Before you set out, test whatever equipment you will be using to make sure that it will hold up in a high stress environment. The last thing you want is your equipment to break on the first day.
  4. Keep your eyes up- Always be looking forward and be aware of your surroundings. Losing focus of what is in front of you is the best way to get into a collision, keep your head on a swivel in the case of cross traffic on the trails.
  5. Let others know your whereabouts- If you are going away for an extended stay, make sure to tell several family members or co-workers where you are going and when you are expecting to be back. If you get lost people will begin searching for you immediately if they know you’re gone past your expected return point.
  6. Wear a helmet- A helmet and googles are essential for protecting yourself during winter recreational activities, always wear both. This is the best way to ensure your basic safety and protect your head.

Check out this Winter Safety Checklist for more information on how to stay safe this winter.

Sand, Sun, and Safety in San Diego

Just over a month ago we exhibited at the NSC (National Safety Council) Expo down in San Diego. What a great event! It was amazing to see over 15,000 safety professionals from all over the world come together and share their knowledge and cutting-edge safety products.

We exhibited throughout the entire event and were so impressed by how many folks came by our booth to learn more about our safety whistles. We’re so grateful for the connections we made and look forward to continuing to help keep people safe across a wide range of industries.

A photo of our Founder, Bob Cameron, at our booth during setup:

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Learn more about the National Safety Council and the many wonderful safety events they hold throughout there year:  https://www.nsc.org/

Drop us a line to see what events we’ll be at next!

Can a whistle really scare a bear?

It’s hard to imagine a situation more harrowing than coming face to face with a bear in your own backyard. It is almost impossible to imagine how we would react in the heat of the moment, but Whistles for Life gives you a proven, life-saving solution. In July of this year, a woman in Woodinville, WA used a Whistles for Life safety whistle to scare off a black bear that approached her while she was on a walk around her neighborhood. The 120-decibel sound output was frightening enough for the bear to deter it from advancing any further. This proves whistles are not just toys, they are powerful enough to convince the bear to retreat to where it came from.

The experience moved the women enough to buy more safety whistles and distribute them to her neighbors and others in her community. She urged everyone to keep them handy for any emergency such as her personal bear encounter. This experience helped show a community how valuable a safety whistle can be and will hopefully urge you to keep a safety whistle with you no matter where you are, because there is no telling when an emergency may occur.

Whistles for Life’s tri-powered whistle is a great start to emergency preparedness for any possible situation. To learn more about bear safety, visit the National Park Service website or contact your local branch.

Stay safe!

Woman encounters bear

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5 quick tips for outdoor survival

When planning an outdoor adventure, make sure you’re prepared for any situation that may transpire. While every environment is unique and may require additional tools and knowledge to increase your chances of survival, these five basic survival tips below are a good start.

  1. Stay high stay dry: When crafting a survival plan, remember to take shelter in a location that is both away from water and on higher ground. It will not only keep you away from insects and animals but also make you easily traceable by rescuers in case of an emergency.
  2. Carry plenty of fire starters: There are a lot of unconventional fire starters that should be a part of your survival kit, such as hand-sanitizer, plastic water bottles, and magnifying glasses. Whether you want to cook food or dry your clothes, you can use heaps of paper and other kindles on top of large wood pieces to create a sizable fire.
  3. Pack water-purifying tablets: If you find yourself running low on water, try harvesting rainwater or water from the surrounding vegetation. If you are unable to do that, it is vital to carry water-purifying tablets to make any nearby water potable.
  4. Bring glow-sticks: Always have a glow-stick attached to your backpack and carry a couple of spare ones too. As a distinct light source, they are great for nighttime lighting and are easily identifiable by search parties and rescuers.
  5. Insulate or deflect heat: Aluminum sheets are great insulators to keep your shelter warm in the winter season. They can also be placed on the exterior of a shelter to deflect heat from within during the warmer months. Make sure to pack a few aluminum sheets whenever you plan a long outdoor trip.

REI can be a very valuable resource as you plan your next outdoor adventure. They offer numerous classes and workshops for specific outdoor experiences. For more information, visit www.rei.com/events