Look up and live: Avoiding electrocution

According to OSHA, approximately five workers are electrocuted each week, and electrocution causes 12 percent of work-related deaths of young employees. Electrocution is the third leading cause of death for construction workers.

While contact with underground wires accounts for only 1 percent of electrocutions, overhead power lines are much more dangerous. According to the Center for Construction Research and Safety, contact with overhead power lines is the main cause of electrocution for workers who are not electricians.

Approximately 21 percent of these deaths happen when a worker comes in direct contact with the power line, but the remainder of these accidents happen through indirect contact — when machinery or objects touch wires. Some power lines have enough voltage to create an arc between the wire and the object, causing electrocution without physical contact.

To avoid injury, follow these guidelines:
  • Remember that most overhead power lines are not insulated; visible coverings protect the wire from weather only.
  • Before working, look up and around for electrical hazards.
  • Keep all equipment and tools at least 10 feet away from lines.
  • Be careful on or around roofs where electrical service enters a house or where wires might be close overhead.
  • Do not climb or trim trees that are in contact with wires.
  • Opt for fiberglass ladders that do not conduct electricity, and keep them clean and dry.
  • Never carry ladders upright or extended because they can easily fall against power lines.
Buried power lines need attention too. The law now requires contractors and homeowners to call Diggers Hotline at least three days before doing any digging. Stay at least 18 inches away from marked lines if possible and, if not, carefully dig with hand tools instead of heavy machinery.

7 days to digital detox

The average American checks his or her phone 54 times a day, according to research from Deloitte. We’re using them while we’re shopping, eating, watching TV, and yes, driving. We’re even using our phones while talking to family and friends.

Put down the device and become more mindful of the people and experiences around you. Here’s a one-week digital detox to help you dial back your phone attachment.

Delete any apps you haven’t used in the last month. Can’t decide whether you need that app? Ask yourself, would I pay $5 to keep this? If not, toss it.

Check into social media and unfollow people you don’t know all that well. Then go through your email and unsubscribe to any unnecessary lists.

Create a charging station outside your bedroom. (Buy an alarm clock if you use your phone to wake you up.) Power down an hour before you go to bed. Screen lights interfere with your sleep patterns, making it harder to get a good night’s rest.

Go screen-less for every meal you eat today. That means no TV, tablet, computer, or phone.

Resist the urge to look at your phone until you arrive at school or work for the day. If you go out to dinner later, leave your phone in the car.

Don’t look at or post to social media for an entire day. Bonus challenge: Go the entire weekend!

Turn your phone off completely for at least eight hours in a row. (It doesn’t count if you’re sleeping!) Let close friends and family know you’re shutting down and won’t be answering calls.

Redefine what it means to be connected to the world around you. More ideas and inspiration are available at DigitalDetox.org.

How to improve ADA accessibility for your event

Organizing a fair, festival, or special event? Ensure all your guests have access to amenities and can enjoy the same experience. Accessibility attracts people with physical limitations or disabilities and their friends and family. Plus, those same modifications are often appreciated by the elderly and parents with small children.

Advance info. Accessibility starts even before people reach your event. Provide information on your website or list a phone number for those who want to know more. Knowing what kind of accommodations will (or won’t) be available can help someone decide whether to attend. The Summer Set music festival’s ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) page is a nice example.

Clear views. If you’re hosting a concert or other event with ticketed seating, provide the option to purchase accessible seats. Or let guests know you’re offering an accessible viewing area with clear visibility to the stage.

Restroom access. If using portable bathrooms at your event, plan for a few accessible units. These larger stalls also are attractive to parents with small children.

Train your staff.
Provide staff training on assisting people with disabilities. Make sure setup crews understand how to create and maintain accessibility around booths and walkways. Prepare a list of attendee FAQs with a section on accessibility accommodations, and distribute to event personnel.

Resources. Attitude is Everything is a U.K. nonprofit that helps increase fan access to live music. While accessibility laws might differ from those in the U.S., the site is a user-friendly (and inspiring) place to get ideas.

Also, check out National Construction Rentals, which provides a simple infographic on ADA compliance for outdoor events.

More in-depth planning information can be found here:
•    A Planning Guide for Making Temporary Events Accessible to People with Disabilities
•    Accessible Temporary Events, A Planning Guide

7 tips to keep man's best friend safe at the dog park

Off-leash dog parks are a great way for your dog to get some exercise. Just be sure to observe some basic tips to keep your pooch safe:
  1. Stay engaged with your dog. Don’t allow your dog to wander far away, unsupervised, while you chat with the humans. You need to be aware of any anti-social behavior so you can put a stop to it or leave, if necessary.
  2. Save the treats for home. Good smelling treats in your pocket may pose an overwhelming distraction for other dogs. That can be frustrating for other owners, and it puts you at risk. Besides, dispensing treats to your dog can cause others to crowd around, and that could make your otherwise placid pup agitated and aggressive.
  3. Toys for good sharers, only. Skip the toys if your dog is overly possessive. But, if your pup steals or hoards other dogs’ toys, sadly you may need to skip the park altogether.
  4. Respect leash restrictions. Leash your dog in the parking lot. There are too many distractions (and often, too much traffic) at a dog park. You put your pet at risk by trusting he or she will remain calmly by your heels as you return to your vehicle.
  5. Unleash and unharness inside the park. Remove leashes, collars, and other harnesses inside the park. Dogs can get tangled in each other’s gear.
  6. Bring water. If your park doesn’t have an on-site water supply, remember to bring your own. Keep your furry friend safe by providing plenty of opportunities to stay hydrated.
  7. Clean up. This should go without saying, but clean up after your pet. Dog poop can carry diseases and parasites. Mind your manners — and your dog’s health — and keep the play area clean.

Lone worker safety tips

Home healthcare workers, janitors, maintenance and repair staff, delivery personnel, late-night gas station attendants, and security workers have something in common: they often work in isolation. And as businesses try to do more with less, the ranks of lone workers are likely to increase.

These employees face special risks, and employers must do what they can to ensure their safety.

According to OSHA regulations, an employer must visually or verbally account for lone workers during each work shift, at regular intervals appropriate to the job assignment. While this requirement is open to interpretation, one basic question can help guide what level of monitoring is appropriate: Based on the risks associated with this job, what is an acceptable amount of time for a worker to wait for help?

A three-pronged approach to isolated worker safety might also help:
  1. Identify the hazards.
  2. Evaluate the level of the risks involved.
  3. Put measures in place to avoid or control the risks.
Just as hardhats, steel-toed shoes, safety glasses, and reflective clothing are common elements of personal protective equipment, a reliable communication system should be considered safety equipment for lone workers. Cell phones or two-way radios may be appropriate for most situations, but if a worker is unable to call for help, a lone worker man-down warning system automatically will send an alarm signal to supervisors at a monitoring station.

Education and experience are probably the most effective ways to ensure the safety of isolated workers. Employers should provide proper training so lone workers will more likely be able to avoid dangerous situations or know how to respond to challenges or emergencies that arise.