Archive for Traffic Safety

Winter Weather Driving Tips to Ensure Workers’ Safety

The Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) reports that 70 percent of cold weather accidents are vehicular. Each year, 24 percent of weather-related vehicle crashes occur on snowy, slushy or icy pavement, and 15 percent happen during snowfall or sleet, according to the Federal Highway Administration (FHA). The FHA further reports that nearly 900 people are killed and nearly 76,000 people are injured in vehicle crashes during snowfall or sleet. As these figures indicate, it is imperative to take proactive steps to guarantee your employees’ safety during winter weather driving. Try these tips to stay ahead of any storm.

Scope Out The Storm

As an employer, one of the first things you should do to help keep your employees safe is remain aware of weather conditions and forecasts throughout the winter. Winter weather changes quickly, so it may be worthwhile to sign up for alerts from NOAA/National Weather Service. If storms, snow or ice make winter driving conditions dangerous, it may be best to give your employees the option of taking the day off from work or working from home. Where conditions are particularly hazardous, it may even be best to specifically direct your workers not to attempt to drive. Be sure to maintain employee emergency contact information for this purpose. Where a storm is scheduled to occur later in the day, the best tip may be to tell employees to leave work early or, when necessary, to stay longer at the office for safety’s sake.

Prep Before The Mess

Plan your responses to winter weather in advance so you are not caught off guard. Prepare a list of alternate driving routes to your work facilities to be used in the event that main or more direct roads are closed or unsafe due to winter weather. Where possible, develop a plan for operating your business remotely so that employees are able to work from home effectively. That way, you can maximize efficiency while minimizing risk.

Know Where Snow Will Go

Take measures to minimize winter weather driving risks in the area around your work facilities. Form a snow removal plan for your grounds and nearby access roads. Be willing to hire a private snow removal company for larger jobs. Lay down rock salt to combat ice. Do not neglect to determine in advance where to pile the snow safely.

Educate Employees

Communicate with your employees about the best ways to drive safely in winter weather. Advise them to plan their route, allow plenty of time, and keep others informed of their route and expected arrival time. Winter drivers should also be sure to maintain their cars by checking the battery and tire tread, keeping windows clear, putting no-freeze fluid in the washer reservoir, and checking antifreeze. It is also useful to keep winter weather preparedness supplies in the car, including items like shovels, snow brushes, ice scrapers, safety flashlights, jumper cables, blankets, water, warning devices such as flares, and abrasive material like sand or industrial floor mats that can help drivers pull out if they become stuck in the snow. If stopped or stalled, winter drivers should stay with the car, refrain from over-exertion, use traffic control equipment, like bright markers to place on the car, and shine the dome lights to increase their visibility. Of course, drivers should keep their cell phones with them and be prepared to call for help as soon as it is necessary.

Try a Test Run

Advise your employees to practice winter weather driving safety before a big storm hits. For instance, during daylight, they can rehearse maneuvers slowly on ice or snow in empty lots. Employees should practice such tricky maneuvers as steering into skids. They should be aware that stopping distances are longer on ice and water-covered ice. Your crew should also be mindful of proper braking technique: stomping for antilock brakes, pumping for non-antilock brakes.

It may be worthwhile to have a winter weather training session to practice your contingency plan and to share these driving safety tips with your employees. A small effort can save lives.

Winter Safety

During emergency response activities or recovery operations, workers may be required to work in cold environments, and sometimes for extended periods. Cold stress is a common problem encountered in these types of situations. Enviro Safety Products has cut the prices on some of our most popular winter safety gear. Check out the savings now! The following will help workers understand what cold stress is, how it may affect their health and safety, and how it can be prevented.

How cold is too cold? According to OSHA, when the body is unable to keep itself warm, cold induced stress may result. Tissue damage and death are possible outcomes if precautions are not taken.  Air temperature, wind speed, moisture in the air, and contact with cold water or surfaces all increase the possibility of greater damage.

How does the body react to cold conditions? When in a cold environment, most of your body’s energy is used to keep your internal temperature warm. Over time, your body will begin to shift blood flow from your extremities (hands, feet, arms, and legs) and outer skin to the core (chest and abdomen). This allows exposed skin and the extremities to cool rapidly and increases the risk of frostbite and hypothermia. Combine this with cold water, and trench foot may also be a problem.

Protective clothing is the best precaution to avoid injury due to cold. When working in cold weather, wear the proper clothing. Three layers works best with the outer layer protecting the worker from wind and rain while still allowing some ventilation. Wear a hat or hood and insulated footwear.

Drink plenty of liquids, avoiding caffeine and alcohol. It is easy to become dehydrated in cold weather. If possible, heavy work should be scheduled during the warmer parts of the day. Take breaks out of the cold. Try to work in pairs to keep an eye on each other and watch for signs of cold stress. Avoid fatigue since energy is needed to keep muscles warm. Take frequent breaks and consume warm, high calorie food such as pasta to maintain energy reserves.

NFPA 1901 – Safety Standards

This post is meant to give a brief overview of these requirements. To learn specifics and more in-depth requirements, visit NFPA website. As of January 1, 2009, the NFPA 1901 Standard for Automotive Fire Apparatus requires that all Fire Apparatus Vehicles must have Public Safety Vests that meet ANSI/ISEA 207. To learn more about ANSI/ISEA 207 approved Safety Vests click here. NFPA 1901 includes additional safety standards that are required for Automotive Fire Apparatus’ to be equipped with in order to maximize firefighter capabilities and minimize risk of injuries.

NFPA Standards for Fire Apparatus applies to contracts signed on or after January 1, 2009. In addition to ANSI/ISEA 207 Public Safety Vests, NFPA 1901 safety standards include, but are not limited to, the following:

Public Safety Vests:

  • One vest for each seating position
  • Five-point breakaway feature – two at the shoulders, two at the sides, and one at the front (NFPA)

Vehicle Data Recorder:

  • Capture data once per second in 48 hour loop
  • Minute by minute summary stored for 100 engine hours
  • Software to download information (NFPA)

Vehicle Stability:

  • Requires one of the following:
  • Remain stable to 26.5 degrees in both directions on tilt table
  • Calculated center of gravity no higher than 80% of vehicle height
  • Have a vehicle stability system (NFPA)

Additional Equipment:

  • One traffic vest for each seating position
  • 5 fluorescent orange traffic cones
  • 5 illuminate warning devices
  • 1 automatic external defibrillator (AED)
  • Step ladder or multipurpose ladder (must meet ANSI A14.2 or ANSI A14.5) (NFPA)

Diesel Particulate Filter – if provided:

  • Regeneration process must be activiated by two methods:
  • Automatically by the engine system
  • Manually when initiated by activiation of a switch
  • Switch required that will inhibit DPF regeneration
  • Icon to indicate that the DPF requires active regeneration (NFPA)

Low Voltage Electrical

  • 45 amps on minimum continuous electrical load
  • Ground lighting and surface lighting
  • Driving/crew compartment interior lighting
  • Compartment lighting at floor with no shelves, dividers, or equipment (NFPA)

Seat Belts:

  • Type 1 – Lap Belt 60 inches
  • Type 2 – Pelvic and upper torso 110 inches (NFPA)

Retroreflective Striping:

  • At least 50% retroreflective strippping in a chevron pattern sloping downward at a 45° angle
  • Each strip 6 in. in width (NFPA)

Aerial Devices:

  • Minimum rated capacity constant throughout entire operating envelope
  • Interlock required to prevent operating into an unstable position
  • An indicator to allow the operator to determine maximum extenstion (NFPA)

Foam Systems:

  • Required to be tested and certified by final installer at 3 specific test points (NFPA)

Air Systems:

  • Compressor required to have air quality monitoring (NFPA)

Trailers:

  • Type I – remain connected to tow vehicle and are dependent on each other for required electrical power and conspicuity
  • Type II – allow separation from tow vehicle after arrival and are not dependent on the tow vehicle for electrical power
  • Type III – open trailers designed to transport other vehicles, equipment, or containers that will be used off the trailer. (NFPA)

Public Safety Vests – ANSI 207 Vest Requirements

About the Standard:

ANSI 207 Public Safety Vest standard was created in response to public safety user group’s demand for high visibility safety vests that differentiate Police, Fire, EMS and EMS personnel from other non-related personnel: Red is for Fire Officials, Blue is for Law Enforcement, Green is for Emergency Responders, and Orange is for DOT Officials.

207 public safety vests are designed shorter to allow quick access to belts and tools. Many of these safety vests feature (but are not mandatory to the standard) loops, pockets, badge holders, mic tabs and ID panels to meet the user’s need for functionality while still offering an effective high visibility garment. Unlike the ANSI 107, Public Safety Vests have no classifications – It’s just the Public Safety Vest Standard (PSV).

ANSI 207 requires 450 square inches of background material and 201 square inches of reflective material. Please note ANSI 207 vests do not meet the requirements of ANSI 107 and therefore do not currently meet the requirements of 23 CFR 634. For more information about ANSI 107 click here.

The DOT/FHWA has proposed a number of changes that will affect 23 CFR 634. Of the most immediate concern is that they propose allowing ANSI 207 vests for emergency responders. This change did not go into effect in time for the November 24 deadline and is not likely to go into effect until the 2nd or 3rd quarter of 2009.

23 CFR 634 Standard – Current News

Worker Visibility Final Rule goes into effect November 24!

High Visibility is one of the most prominent needs for workers who must perform tasks near moving vehicles or equipment. The need to be seen by those who drive or operate vehicles or equipment is recognized as a critical issue for workers safety. Each year more than 100 workers are killed and over 20,000 are injured in the highway and street construction industry. That’s why the FHWA established rule, 23 CFR Part 634.

The FHWA Final Rule states that all workers who are within the public right-of-way of a Federal Aid higway must wear ANSI 107-999 Class 2 or Class 3. This requirement will apply to all emergency responders as well. This means that class 1 , NON-ANSI garments and Public Safety Vests are no longer acceptable apparel for these workers. The FHWA believes that this rule will improve visibility of workers within the Federal-aid highway right-of-way, thereby reducing these numbers.

Heavy Duty Wheel Chocks

Wheel ChocksWhat are Wheel Chocks?

Wheel Chocks are wedges of sturdy material placed behind a vehicle’s wheels to prevent accidental movement. Chocks are placed for safety in addition to setting the brakes. The bottom surface is sometimes coated in rubber to enhance grip with the ground. For ease of removal, a rope or chain may be tied to the chock or a set of two chocks. One edge of the wedge has a concave profile to contour to the wheel and increase the force necessary to overrun the chock.

The majority of Wheel Chocks are brightly colored yellow and orange, so they are highly visible. Wheel chocks come with many different surfaces and patterns. There are Rubber Wheel Chocks, Urethane Wheel Chocks, Oversized Wheel Chocks, All-Terrain Wheel Chocks, Motorcycle Wheel Chocks and many more to fit your specific needs. There are lots of opportunities to increase your safety and well-being by utilizing wheel chocks. For example, if you are changing a flat tire, checking your suspension, or even checking your oil. Wheel chocks will give you back-up assurance that your vehicle won’t move while you’re underneath it. If you are loading up a trailer or hitching a boat or other attachment to a vehicle, wheel chocks will hold both things steady. Some people parking on steep hills nudge wheel chocks under the back tires just in case their emergency brake fails.

Wheel Chocks and Dock Compliance

Wheel chocks are required by OSHA, and in order to be in compliance you will have to insure that every truck that comes into the dock area is chocked during the unloading or loading process. If you are relying on the honor system after having posted signage and providing chocks, you are taking a serious risk. Not all operators are equally conscientious, and a few bad apples will take advantage of reduced visibility in the dock area to avoid the additional hassle of placing the chocks. Doing so puts your company at risk, and you will need to take additional measures to enforce compliance with OSHA regulations.

Strategically placed cameras are an excellent incentive for an operator to comply, but many companies are unwilling to invest in expensive camera systems. Fortunately, a strategically placed security mirror and an observant dockworker can get the same job done as a camera. No matter which solution is best for you, compliance is the key to avoiding liability.

How to use Wheel Chocks

To properly use wheel chocks, it’s important to remember a few basic guidelines:

1.Always use chocks in pairs, especially if you are unsure of the slope of a roadway, parking area, or other terrain. It’s often a good idea to purchase chocks that are connected one to another.
2.Always place the chocks snugly against the tires, and beware wet surfaces that can allow chocks to slip under the wrong conditions.
3.If you are parked on an oily surface, move the vehicle to a safer spot, if possible.
4.Never drive over chocks, or try to apply chocks if the parking brake has not been applied.
5.Remember that improper use of chocks can void warranties, insurance, and compliance to safety regulations.

High Visibility Clothing

High Visibility ClothingThe American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and the International Safety Equipment Association (ISEA) have published the ANSI/ISEA 107-2004 standard which specifies different classes of high visibility safety garments based on wearer’s activities. This standard was developed in response to workers who are exposed to low visibility conditions in hazardous work zones.

ANSI/ISEA have also recently published the ANSI/ISEA 207-2006 Standard for High-Visibility Public Safety Vests which establishes design, performance specifications and use criteria for highly visible vests that are used by law enforcement, emergency responders, fire officials, and DOT personnel. This public safety vest standard was created in response to public safety user group demand in 2005 for a high visibility safety vest garment differentiated from ANSI/ISEA 107-2004 compliant apparel. The primary concern was a need for flexibility of designs that would provide tactical capability not achievable with ANSI 107 garments. Law enforcement and emergency responders that would be distinct from ANSI 107 to avoid interchangeability with other high visibility vests.

ANSI/ISEA Approved High Visibility Clothing:There are three classes of garments specified in the standard that are based on the wearer’s activities.

Class 3: These garments provide the highest level of conspicuity for workers and have the greatest visibility of the three classes. These will have more retroreflective material used in its construction than the Class 2 and it must have sleeves with retroreflective material between the shoulders and elbow. Class 3 approved high visibility clothing are for workers with high task loads in a wide range of weather conditions where traffic exceeds 50 mph. The standard “recommends these garments for all roadway construction personnel, vehicle operators, utility workers, survey crews, emergency responders, railway workers and accident site investigators”. Our Mesh Safety Vests and High Visibility Rain Jackets are great sellers for those requiring the highest visibility level.

Class 2:These garments have superior visibility and are more conspicuous than the Class 1 garments. The minimum width of the retroreflective material used on these is not less than 35mm. Class 3 garments are for workers who work near roadways where traffic exceeds 25 mph and need greater visibility in inclement weather. Workers who would typically wear these garments are: railway workers, school crossing guards, parking and toll gate personnel, airport ground crews and law enforcement personnel directing traffic. The Surveyor’s Vest is our most popular economical safety vest. The majority of our safety vests are ANSI class 2 approved.

Class 1: These garments need to be conspicuous and use retroreflective materials not less than 25mm in width. Class 1 garments are worn by workers where traffic does not exceed 25 mph and there is ample separation from the traffic. These workers typically are parking service attendants, warehouse workers in equipment traffic, shopping cart retrievers and those doing sidewalk maintenance. We also offer a large selection of high visibility clothing for those who don’t require ANSI approval.