Ladder Inspection Checklist – and Why you Should do it!

Ladder Inspection Checklist – and Why you Should do it!

Step laddersIn a previous article titled, “Why Do People Fall from Ladders and How to Prevent It”,  I mentioned an experience I had a few years ago where I fell off a ladder because the ladder was damaged. Had I inspected the ladder before I used it, I would never have used the ladder in the first place. Inspecting a ladder only takes a minute or so and could possibly save you from injury or even death.

Each of the following items should be checked on a ladder before using it:

  • Ladder rungs (steps)
  • Ladder bolts, screws or attachment parts
  • General Rust or decay
  • Weakened or damaged areas
  • Cracks or splits
  • Twisted or distorted rails
  • Instruction/Safety stickers.
  • Ladder accessories and attachment parts

To better understand the importance of each of these items, let’s take a look at them each individually.

Ladder Rungs (steps)

The first thing to look for are any bent, missing, or otherwise broken rungs. Using a ladder that has a missing or damaged rung is extremely dangerous. If the ladder has a missing or damaged rung it should be thrown away.

Warn out ladder rungs is another common problem that can occur with well-used ladders.  Metal ladders have rungs with grooves or ridges on each rung to help with gripping. Over time, the grooves get worn down and don’t provide the traction/grip as it should to ensure your safety. If this is the case, it’s time to get a new ladder!

Ladder Bolts, Screws or Attachment Parts

Ladders are made up of several different parts and components connected together by bolts and screws. Before using a ladder of any kind, look it over for any loose/missing bolts or screws. Try opening and closing the ladder (step ladder) or extending/retracting the ladder (extension ladders) to see if the ladder operates as it should. Stand the ladder up and shake the ladder with your hand. This will help you identify any loose or missing bolts and/or screws.

If the ladder is missing a screw or bolt, take it to a professional repair shop or consider getting a new ladder. Ladders are put together using specific bolts or screws that are designed specifically for the ladder. The wrong kind or size of bolt will not allow the ladder to operate correctly and may not support you when you are using the ladder.

Some ladders are equipped with accessories or have the capability to add accessories to the ladder. If the ladder accessory is damaged or missing a bolt, discard it.

Rust or Decay

While it depends on the amount of rust or decay, a rusty metal ladder or a wooden ladder with decaying wood is a sign of a damaged ladder that should not be used. When reviewing any ladder that has rust or decay occurring on the ladder, especially on the rungs or key parts of the ladder I suggest erroring on the safe side and getting a new ladder.

Weakened or Damaged Areas

Ladders that have been left outside in the rain, snow or blistering sun may develop weakened areas in the ladder. This may be hard to notice and inspect.

For metal ladders, use the palm of your hands to push on the metal while feeling for areas that are not solid or that “pop” in and out with pressure. For wooden ladders, feel for soft areas (with the palm of your hands) that when pushed in, create an indent or impression. This is a sign of water damage and compromises the integrity and strength of the ladder.

Cracks or Splits

Cracks or splits on any type of ladder, regardless of the size, should be discarded and not used. It may be tempting to use a ladder that has a small crack on it. However, your weight will only make the crack bigger and less safe.

Twisted or Distorted Rails

Extension ladders, if not taken care of, can bend and twist along the sliding rails. It is important to inspect the rails as most of the ladder’s support is depended on the rails. You may not always notice if the rails are bent or damaged unless you are specifically looking for it.

For badly damaged rails, discard the ladder immediately. Otherwise, you will want to keep an eye on all slight and minor damages to the rail to ensure that they do not become worse with use.

OSHA Ladder StickerInstruction/Safety Stickers.

All ladders are sold with safety stickers on the sides. They include the following information:
– If the ladder is OSHA approved or not
– Ladder height
– Set up/take down instructions
– Load capacity
– Where the ladder is made (USA. China, etc)
– The ladder’s highest standing level for safety
– What the ladder is made of
– Whether the ladder is made for commercial or residential use
– Ladder checklist (for that particular ladder)
– How to care and store the ladder
– Proper use of the ladder.

Ladder Accessories and Attachments Parts

Depending on the ladder, it can be equipped with some additional accessories for various projects. If you are using an attachment or accessory with you ladder you need to do two main things:

  • Ensure that the accessory is designed to be used with the ladder you are using.
  • Inspect the accessory to ensure that it has not be damaged and is still in good working order.

For Example:

Werner ladders are great for both the professional and the DIY homeowner. One accessory that they make is the AC78 Quickclick Stabilizer. It is designed to allow ladders to be placed in front of a window by attaching bars that rest on the side of the window. This allows the user to wash the window or paint the window trim without adding pressure to the glass window.

There are several other ladder accessories on the market. For your own safety, it is important to inspect them before using them.

Common Questions

When Should you Inspect a ladder or ladder accessory?

Ladders should be inspected:

  • At the beginning and end of a season
  • Before you purchase a ladder
  • When given a ladder
  • Before each use
  • If the ladder has been tipped over, fallen or dropped

How can you make your Ladder last longer?

  • Properly store your ladder
  • Apply a protective coat on wooden ladders (sealer, wax or other wood preservative)
  • Clean fiberglass ladders with clear lacquer or paste wax every 3 months
  • Oil or lubricate any pulleys on extension ladders
  • Handle the ladder with care when opening/closing step ladders

Can I fix the ladder myself?

NO! Never attempt to repair a broken or bent ladders. Ladders that are missing bolts or other connective items should be repaired by a licensed professional.

9 Best Safety Tips for Cooking in the Kitchen – Men’s Edition!

9 Best Safety Tips for Cooking in the Kitchen – Men’s Edition!

So, my wife is out of town for the next week and a half visiting family. While my wife did leave some meals in the fridge to help me get through the next few days, I’m afraid I’ll have to venture into the kitchen to find and cook up some food eventually! So naturally, the first thing I, said male, did was research some safety tips for cooking in the kitchen! It’s amazing what you can find on the Internet.

So, what are the best safety tips for (men) cooking in the kitchen?

  • Know how to use a fire extinguisher – PASS
  • Wear the appropriate clothing
  • Wash your hands
  • Use the correct tools – knives!
  • Use the appropriate footwear
  • Technique matters – (stirring and mixing)
  • Know certain do’s and don’ts
  • Know when to asks for help – 911
  • First Aid Kit – A must!

How to use a fire extinguisher – PASS

For us men, it’s not ‘IF’ but rather ‘WHEN’ a fire will break out while you are attempting to cook the tried and proven staple of Top Roman. Therefore, logic indicates that we need to know how to operate the fire extinguisher and when to use it! Because we men (like how I lumped you in with me😊) don’t want to be burdened with the reading of instructions, we should at least take a few minutes before any attempt at cooking to learn how to properly extinguish a fire. Of course, this must be done privately where no one else can witness our efforts.

I have written a simple article titled, “How to Operate a Fire Extinguisher – PASS” and you guessed it, it has pictures explaining each step, so you don’t have to read the whole article. Cool, huh? So, in my efforts to save you some time, I have summarized the article below.

P – Pull Pin
A – Aim Low at the base of the fire
S – Squeeze the lever
S – Sweep from side to side

Wear appropriate clothing

You can think of this as your Personal Protective Equipment or PPE. Cooking in our underwear is not advised! Nor is it a good idea to wear clothing that is loose or baggy. If OSHA guidelines were to be applied to the kitchen, they wouldn’t allow it either!

Cloths that are loose or baggy can pose a risk for injury! For example, you turn to get an item out of the fridge and the free-flowing tail of your shirt catches the handle of the pot with boiling water in it and spills it onto you. Not good and may even result in a joy ride to the hospital.

Need another example? Let’s say that you are baking that pre-made casserole that your wife left for you in the freezer. You preheat the oven to 325 degrees as directed and go to place it in the oven. As you do so, you notice the un-buttoned sleeves of your shirt hanging down catch fire when they contact the hot coils.

You may want to invest in a nice fire-retardant shirt such as the one to the left I found on Amazon. Otherwise, you may have to consider buttoning your sleeves and wearing an apron like the ladies do. Your choice.

Wash your hands

I totally understand that some men may find this safety tip to be a bit invasive – but yes, you need to wash your hands to prevent the oil and grease on your hands (from the time you spent working on your car) from getting on your food!

If you are working with raw meat, it is extremely important that you wash your hands and avoid touching things around the house until your hands have been thoroughly cleaned. Failing to do so could possibly lead to food poisoning, an experience not worth trying or risking.

If you still have questions about this, I would suggest you read our other article titled, “How to Properly Wash Your Hands and Why

Use the correct tools – knives!

Before you pull out your Swiss army knife and cut up the meat and vegetables, consider this simple and easy to understand safety tip – A sharp knife is safer than a dull knife. Additionally, choosing the best knife for the job is just as important as the knife to use.

For more information about knives and how to use them, read our other article titled, “How to Use Knives Safely and Properly

Use the appropriate footwear

This is a safety tip that could have be placed with PPE, but I felt it was worth mentioning separately! Meal prep is mostly done on a countertop. If you’re like me, you really like to get into your work – similar to how Mrs. Doubtfire vacuums – and meal prep is serious business. The possibility that some things will fall to the floor during the intense activity of meal prep is a legitimate concern for the male cook. Whether it be a falling large glass bowl, a meat cleaver, or other heavy item that could cause serious foot trauma due to impact forces, or a sharp knife with the potential to penetrate, your feet that are so vital in transporting you around need to be protected. Seems to me like nothing less than some steel toe boots should be used by a real man when cooking in the kitchen.

If you’re looking for a great birthday, anniversary or Christmas present for your wife then look no further! Below are some great steel toe boots I found on Amazon that would make the perfect gift for your wife as I’m sure she wouldn’t mind sharing them with you when the high-risk experience of cooking is forced upon you!

Technique matters – (stirring and mixing)

Remember the movie karate kid? Of course, you do! This is a MEN’s blog post after all! Anyways, that moment when the master is teaching the student the fundamentals of karate and has him wash and wax his car – “Wax on…Wax off”.  He teaches him to do so in a motion that sends the movement away from his body, deflecting any incoming punch. You must do the same when cooking! Always stir or mix using the wax on wax off method! This will prevent any hot water, soup or anything else you may be cooking from getting splashed on you, and in the process, you will be honing your personal defense skills that we are often called upon to use because of the adventurous life that we lead.

Know certain do’s and don’ts

There are some things you just don’t do when your cooking. For example, you never place a hot pan or pot on Formica countertops as it will melt the Formica and may even start a fire. See why the PASS Technique was previously mentioned. Some additional do’s and don’ts are:

  • Don’t place a hot glass pan in cold water. This will cause the glass to crack. The Mrs., well they don’t like it when that happens.
  • Don’t Leave the oven on after cooking is all done. Less of a problem in the dead of winter, but not the way to heat your house.
  • Do clean up after cooking, including the work area to kill any germs or bacteria that may be present. Also, leave a mess and you are bound to catch the wrath.
  • Do cook meat fully. I know, in the movie Dances with Wolves the heart of a bison was eaten raw as part of a celebratory experience for success. Kind of cool to see I will admit. However, sciences teaches us otherwise so we best obey.

Know when to ask for help – wife or 911?

It can be tricky knowing when to call 911, especially for us guys. But performed some exhausting research and came up with some important guidelines as to when is the appropriate time to call and ask for help.

  • If you are unsure of how long to cook something – call your wife.
  • You didn’t cook the chicken long enough and have begun experiencing the full force of food poisoning – call the wife and then Call 911
  • Not sure if two different ingredients should be mixed together before placing the substance in the pan – call your wife.
  • You believe you ate something your severely allergic to and the swelling has begun along with respiratory distress? Call 911
  • You cut your finger and need a band-aid from the kids first aid kit – this one get yourself.
  • You cut OFF your finger using a dull knife? – Call 911
  • You accidentally burned your wife’s favorite kitchen mitten – Call 911 or hid long enough to not need to call 911
  • You started a fire in the kitchen and forgot to read the section about how to use a fire extinguisher? – Call 911

First aid kit – a must!

Now that I think about it, this should have been the first safety tip mentioned! It would have saved you when you burned your arm when your shirt caught fire or when you cut your finger while using a dull knife!

Either way, if you have cut your finger and need a good first aid kit, below are some great first aid kits that have saved many a man over the years when their wives were out of town – I highly recommend getting one!

Conclusion

I hope these highly effective and well thought out safety tips will prove helpful to you physically as well as maybe help save a marriage to two. If you know of any safety tips that I have forgotten to include, please let me know in the comments below!

What Are Dome Mirrors Used For?

What Are Dome Mirrors Used For?

As the name implies a dome mirror is convex in its structure, meaning that it is not flat but rounded outward, and as a mirror reflects images. If it was concave-shaped it would be rounded inward.

So, what viewing benefit does the convex shape provide and what are dome-shaped mirrors used for? Dome mirrors provide added safety, security, and surveillance capabilities by enabling the viewing of areas otherwise not visible with flat surface mirrors. This enhanced viewing is used in the prevention of accidents, theft, surprise attacks, or simply monitoring areas for other purposes.

Because dome mirrors allow viewing of blind spots, around corners, hallway intersections, entrance and exit paths, and even over certain barriers, they are essential elements of safety for individuals, vehicles, and equipment operations. In essence, dome mirrors allow the viewer to see areas normally hidden as well as a larger viewing area by simply looking at the mirror. They are often used in all types of commercial buildings, construction sites, warehouses, hospitals, parking garages, or any facility where being able to see what is coming and what is happening in areas typically hidden from normal view.

What are the different types of dome mirrors and what are their unique uses?

Dome mirrors typically come in three different types, each with different viewing capabilities, and therefore its use is specific to the unique viewing characteristic that is required for the setting used. Knowing this allows you to choose the best type of dome mirror for your needs. The three main types of dome mirrors are:

  1. Quarter Dome or 90 Degree View Mirror: This type of dome mirror is typically positioned in the corner of a room or the corner of an “L” shaped hallway. This mirror allows you to see what is happening on the other side of a room or area, what traffic may be coming around the corner (blind corner), and what may be approaching you from behind. They also provide a larger wide view than other types of dome mirrors.

2. Half Dome or 180 Degree View Mirror: This type of dome mirror is placed at the end of a hallway or pathway that has a “T’” intersection (3-way intersection) with another hallway or pathway or is placed in the center of a room. Its configuration gives you a good view of what is coming down the hallways to the right and left, or both sides of a room, and also a view of what is happing directly behind you. It can even allow for viewing on the opposite side of a short barrier. This type of mirror is usually installed high up on the wall or from the ceiling of the room or hallway

3. Full Dome or 360 Degree View Mirror: This type of mirror is placed centrally in a room or area, or in corridors that intersect forming a “+” or 4-way intersection. As the name implies, the full-dome mirror allows you a panoramic view of concurrently and is a good choice for surveillance and security of open facilities.

What are other considerations when selecting a dome mirror?

Dome mirrors are typically used in an indoor setting. They are also most effective for use in viewing areas where the objects need to be clearly viewed and are no more than about 20-25 feet away. The curvature of the dome safety mirror lens impacts its height/depth ratio. Therefore, the size and positioning of the mirror will determine its effectiveness. The larger the mirror, the larger the objects will appear and the greater the detail that will be provided, and vice versa. Consequently, if a dome mirror is too small or is positioned too far away so that the ability to clearly observe what is going on, the mirror will not be effective for its intended use. The following factors should be taken into consideration when determining which type of dome mirror is needed for your particular circumstances.

  • The distance in feet the person using the mirror will be located from the mirror.
  • The distance in feet from the mirror the objects or areas you want to view is located.
  • What degree of acuity or detail will you need in viewing the area or objects? For example, will you need to be able to distinguish a particular person from another person? Will you need to be able to identify changes in for example numbers or other images, etc.

In addition, there are options available for the construction of the lens of the safety dome mirror and the mirror backing. Each of these come with some advantages or disadvantages, or simply indicate which setting it would be best suited for use.

Mirror Lens Options

  1. Stainless Steel: strong material and provides the greatest resistance to corrosion.
  2. Acrylic: resistant to shatter and is lightweight while providing strength. You can also get a “scratch-resistant” coating.
  3. Glass: offers the best reflectivity for enhanced detail of images.
  4. Polycarbonate: offers strong durability and is shatter resistant.

 

Mirror Backing Options

  1. Galvanized Steel: strong and weather resistant and applicable for indoor or outdoor application.
  2. Plastic: lightweight and applicable for indoor or outdoor application.
  3. Zinc: weather-resistant and mostly chemical resistant and applicable for indoor or outdoor application.
  4. Hardboard: durable and applicable for indoor use or outdoor when covered.

 

 

What are the Top Causes of Kitchen Fires?

What are the Top Causes of Kitchen Fires?

What are the Top Causes of Kitchen Fires?It is in the kitchen, the garage, and workshop that most home-based fires originate. A household fire that originates in the kitchen is the most common type of fire in the United States. This is significant and important to understand as the number of civilian deaths that occur by fire in the United States each year totals approximately 2,500 and 78% of those deaths occur in home structure fires. Further, 71% of all civilian injuries by fire, totaling approximately 13,000 per year, occur from home fires. 

Considering that most home fires begin in the kitchen, what are the top causes of these kitchen-based fires? The most common kitchen fire is a grease fire and the underlying cause of this is when a person leaves a frying pan on the stove unattended and the grease catches fire. The kitchen is also home of several electrical appliances where faulty or damaged components, their electrical wiring, inadequate circuit capability or excessive wattage to appliance capacity can cause shorts or sparks and triggers a fire.

As with any topic when trying to address a question, there are other associated factors that need to be addressed to help the individual better apply the information or newly acquired knowledge in their personal lives. Let’s look at some of those other factors that in the case of our question, contribute to an increased risk of causing a kitchen fire.

  1. Some foods are easier to catch fire than others. Cooking with oil or grease, both of which are flammable, increases the risk.
  2. How you cook the food. Statistics indicate that frying poses the greatest risk for fire initiation. This, of course, makes sense as frying typically involves the use of oil or grease.
  3. The clothing you wear while cooking. It is rare that a person’s clothes catch fire directly from an open flame and results in a kitchen fire. However, according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), the clothing a person is wearing that subsequently catches fire from an oil or grease-initiated fire contributes significantly to the risk dying from the fire.

What should you do if a fire starts in your kitchen?

Should a fire start in your kitchen the most important thing to do is to ensure your safety and that of your family members. That may require that you attempt to extinguish the fire in its infant stage and prevent it from spreading to other items or locations in the kitchen. To perform this initial fire combating strategy, you need to:

  1. Ensure that you have a properly functioning and appropriate type of fire extinguisher located in the kitchen, but away from the typical origin of a fire – the stove or oven. Because kitchen fires usually involve a cooking fuel source such as oil, grease, or animal fat, a Class K fire extinguisher with mono-ammonium phosphate agent is the recommended choice.

2. Know how to properly employ the fire extinguisher so ensure effective smothering of the fuel and do so without splashing the oil or grease from the pan and onto nearby items or structures that could catch fire.

You may want to read our other article titled, “How to Operate a Fire Extinguisher” and “How to Safely and Effectively Put out a Kitchen Fire – Three Simple Methods!

Cooking for some is a favorite activity, possibly even hobby, and something that brings joy to the chef as well as the beneficiaries of the chef’s abilities to create foods that taste great. Because the art of cooking carries with it a certain level of risk for fire, it is important to ensure that your kitchen appliances, cooking skills, and fire prevention and intervention strategies are up to date and up to speed for the cooking, you will be doing. It is recommended that you analyze your kitchen and fire protection equipment as specified in this article along with a well-designed and practiced fire response process to reduce the risk of fire in your kitchen and enhance your ability to effectively combat a kitchen fire should it occur.

Precautions and Safety Tips When Visiting Yellowstone National Park

Safety Tips When Visiting Yellowstone National Park

Every year my wife and I take our family, us and four kids, to Yellowstone National Park. In fact, we go to Yellowstone several times a year. For us, Yellowstone is a fun family vacation in an amazing wilderness setting. There are plenty of wildlife to be seen, geothermal features of deep blue and green hot pools and spouting geysers, and new hiking trails to explore.

 

However, Yellowstone is in the wilderness and one that contains a lot of potential risks for park visitors. It is a place that still claims the lives of tourists from time to time, and where a multitude of injuries are reported with trips to local or regional medical care facilities. If you’re preparing a family trip to Yellowstone, planning for safety is as important as planning your itinerary for the week.

 

So, what precautions and safety tips would I share for Yellowstone visitors? Visitors to Yellowstone National Park should be aware of the potential threats posed by wild animals, the hidden and unexpected hazards inherent in geothermal areas, the risks of traffic and pedestrian accidents by distracted drivers, and the unique precautions of camping outdoors and venturing out into unknown territory when hiking and exploring.

 

Let’s take a closer look at these precautions and safety tips:

 

Years ago, when my grandparents would drive through Yellowstone, you could feed the bears, an experience that often took place from inside your car and handing food to the bears along the side of the road, or who had come up to your vehicle. Thanks to the implementation of wise conservation rules, that is no longer allowed, and could even prove dangerous.

 

Yellowstone National Park officials have established guidelines for park visitors when viewing animals. Park visitors are required to stay at least 100 Yards (the distance of a football field) away from grizzly bears, black bears and, and wolves. All other animals, such as bison, elk, moose, coyotes, bighorn sheep, foxes, deer, and other smaller animals require a safety distance of 25 yards.

 

While bear and wolves are known for their predatory status and come with a certain reputation that brings fear to most people, moose, and bison can be very dangerous if you get too close and encroach upon their comfort space. This danger can increase if a cow moose is protecting her offspring or if it is the season of the rut for bison.

 

If out hiking, exploring, or animal viewing, always follow the guidelines established for distance from you to the animals. However, if you encounter a moose on the trail give it the extra distance to continue its course and allow it to pass. If the rut is in full swing, simply stay farther away from bison than is recommended, especially a male bison who is acting aggressively. Too often park visitors view these majestic animals more like an overgrown cow, docile and only concerned with eating grass and rolling in the dirt. Don’t be fooled! Just this week, a 9-year old girl was attacked and tossed high into the air by a large male Bison. Luckily, she survived the attack with minimal injuries and I’m sure her parents were terrified when they realized what had just happened and the speed with which it occurred. You can watch the video of the incident below.

 

When out hiking and exploring there are important measures that should be taken to avoid a bear encounter, to reduce the likelihood of an attack, or to thwart an attack should it occur.

 

·       To avoid an encounter: good statistical data gathered over years of research has shown that when venturing outdoors the likelihood of a bear attack is substantially reduced if you hike in groups of at least 3 people. Further, consistently making “human” sounds while hiking is another important strategy. Bears do not want human encounters. Your voice is a warning to them, and they will seek to avoid an encounter by fleeing the area. Most bear attacks take place when we humans startle a bear, and especially if the bear is a sow with a cub.

 

Other preventive measures include avoiding areas where bear activity is visible such as diggings, day beds, animal carcass cache, bear scat or tracks. All of these are signs of bear activity and the possibility that bears are in the area.

 

·       To reduce the likelihood of a bear attack if there is an encounter: If you encounter a bear that sees you be sure to stop where you are and continue, or start, talking in a calm manner. Don’t turn your back on the bear and stand your ground. If you see the bear but it does not see you, slowly start backing up to increase the distance between you and the bear. Don’t make sudden moves and absolutely do not run from the bear as this will trigger its predatory instincts and likely result on the bear chasing you down. And if they give chase, they will chase you down as they can run 30+ miles per hour. This means they can cover 50 yards or half a football field in less than three seconds.

 

·       To thwart an attacking bear: If a bear makes a charge at you this is considered an attack. The attack may or may not be a bluff charge. Either way, you better have bear spray and know how to use it. The proper use of bear spray is your best shot at deterring the bear’s attack. Bear sprayed, properly employed, irritates the bear’s eyes and respiratory system causing temporary blindness and difficulty breathing. It has been demonstrated as an effective bear attack deterrent but has also been shown to be an effective deterrent against the attack of other animals such as mountain lions, moose, coyote, and other animals.

 

If you are planning on only being in the park for a day or two, you may want to consider renting bear spray from Bear Aware located at Canyon Village. However, if you are planning on spending a few more days, you may want to buy your own, assuming you want to take it back home with you for future use and are not flying back home as it cannot be transported on airplanes.

 

If you are planning on buying the bear spray, buy it before you go to Yellowstone because the closer you get to Yellowstone the more expensive the bear spray will cost you. Amazon is a great way to buy Bear Spray at an inexpensive price. Below are some different deals I found there.

 

Geothermal Features and Board Walks

Some of the most amazing features of Yellowstone are the myriad presentations of geothermal features – the deep blue and green hot pools, the multicolored microflora mats, the spouting geysers and mud pots that are scattered throughout the park. The park service has spent millions of dollars building and maintaining boardwalks that can take you right up to the pools, mud pots, and geysers, but in a safe manner. It is extremely important that you walk and not run when on the boardwalks. Sometimes they can be wet as mist may come off the hot water and not offer the desired traction making them slippery at times. Additionally, special caution should be taken when walking these areas with small children. We make it mandatory to hold on to our young children’s hands and enjoy the interaction of explaining the dangers to them so that they understand the reason to not run or let go of our hands while cultivating an appreciation for not only the beauty but the dangers of these features. It’s important to understand that some of these hot springs can reach temperatures over 450 degrees and one slip or poor choice can spell disaster.

Since the year 1870, 22 people have died when they slipped and fell into one of the many hot pools, or even jumped into it in an effort to save a pet that accidentally fell into a pool. So, please don’t run on the boardwalks or allow your kids to explore freely without being supervised or more importantly protected in these areas.

Driving

The speed limit in Yellowstone National Park is 45mph on all major roads. However, several of the side drives will have a much lower speed limit of 10-15 mph. The speed limit is set to not only protect you and the other drivers who share the road, but also the wild animals that may suddenly dart across the road just as you are driving by. Nighttime driving can be especially precarious with vision limited and certain animals more active at this time. Each year hundreds of animals are killed in the park and a good portion of them could have been avoided if drivers would slow down, follow the speed limit and adjust speed to current driving conditions.

Of special concern are the famous so-called bison jams and animal viewing traffic jams that are prevalent in the park. When you consider the combination of circumstances that are present in these situations – cars pilled close together, people looking at animals and not focused on the road, changing circumstances, etc., you can see how car accidents can occur. More importantly, animal viewing traffic jams can be especially worrisome with people, including children, out of their cars jockeying for the best viewing or photo op positioning and cars trying to get past the jam and on to their desired destination in the park.

While is shouldn’t have to be said, NEVER DRINK AND DRIVE! Yes, there are cases of people imbibing and then driving in the park, posing a risk to everyone and everything else. Animals killed, park visitors injured, and structures damaged have all been reported in the events of Yellowstone with alcohol as a contributing factor. So, enjoy the park in a state of mind to fully enjoy the splendors and uniquenesss of Yellowstone.

Camping

Camping in Yellowstone can be an amazing experience. On a clear night, the sky will be filled with shining stars, an occasional shooting star, and even a passing satellite. You may get to hear the howling of a coyote or wolf in the distance, a bugling elk, or the grunt of a bison. Yes, bison are known to walk through campsites in the middle of the night. My wife and I have experienced this – the combination of excitement and some fear when you know that bison are just outside your tent.

Camping in Yellowstone, whether at an established campground or backcountry campsite, requires that you follow all the parks rules and guidelines to fully enjoy the experience and also not fringe upon the enjoyment of others who are also seeking such an experience.  

Food should never be left out where animals, big or small, can get to it. All food and cookware are to be stored in a bear-proof container or in your locked car. Even small animals, such as a ground squirrel, can cause some damage to materials.

Campfires are to be monitored at all times and be fully extinguished when not in use. Every bit important is to keep a watchful eye on children who seem to be drawn to the site of the fire, that glowing illumination in the black of night.

Tent camping should only be done in areas where permitted. Some campsites are restricted to hardshell camping only due to increased bears activity in the area. Sometimes certain campgrounds or even picnic areas have been temporarily closed due to intensified bear frequenting the area.

For a complete list of the Parks camping rules and regulations, you can click HERE.

An interesting book about Yellowstone that I would highly recommend reading is “Death in Yellowstone” by Lee H Whittlesey. The book details the different accounts of deaths that have occurred in the park since 1870. This presents the true dangers of Yellowstone and can give the reader a glimpse of Yellowstone’s wild side.

Safety Tips for Living in the Country

Safety Tips for Living in the Country

Safety Tips for Living in the CountryFor years my wife and I have talked about moving out of the “city” and into a more rural setting. We both have previously enjoyed rural life and really like the privacy that can be found in country living. We enjoy allowing our kids to run, play and adventure with freedom without the prospects that our neighbors may be watching their exploits from their kitchen window. Another benefit of country living is not having the neighborhood kids repeatedly knocking on our door asking if our kids can play. I know, this sounds bad, but we really enjoy and like to prioritize our time with our kids after our long workday and their long day at school.

While it was easy for us to list all the pros of moving to the country, we needed to perform some research and try to remain unbiased in the findings. One such topic would be to not only learn of the potential negatives, but to specifically assess potential security risks of living in the country. Without nearby neighbors, you lose the potential for another pair of eyes who could be keeping a look-out on your kids, as well as keeping an eye on your home when you may be away on vacation.

So, with a bit of research, here is a list of safety tips for anyone contemplating a move to the country who might have a bit of nervousness about the unknowns of country life.

Webcam/Security System

One of the best home defense strategies for any homeowner is to invest in a home security system that can record the activities in and outside of your home. Should a burglar break into your home, steal a package from the front door, or cause damage to your house or property, it can be captured on your home security system.

There are several home security systems and services on the market, and they range in price from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars. My wife and I bought our home security system from amazon. We have used it to keep an eye on the kids in the yard while we are working inside the house, and as a visible deterrent to would-be intruders. Just knowing that we have a visual of our kids playing in the yard provides some peace of mind when it is difficult to be right there with them. And, while our security system has never filmed an attempted home invasion, it has captured a bit of vandalism by some high-spirited kids passing through the area.

Placement of your security system cameras in extremely important. You need to get enough cameras to cover all areas of your home (windows and doors). Additionally, I had one camera pointed to my shed/shop area where I have several expensive tools and equipment stored.

For me and my wife, a home security system is an important safety feature that we believe in and put some trust in to provide some protection to home and family. We also realize that it is only one element in a comprehensive home safety program.

 

Pet – Guard Dog

As I talked with friends and family members who live in the country, they all recommended a “Guard Dog” as another protective measure that could be taken to help beef up the safety of living in the country. And by a guard dog, I mean a dog that is alert to happenings around the house and can signal a barking alarm as well as offer some aggressive protection should a threat be determined.

However, it may take some training to teach them how to be alert and how to best respond to different types of threat. You need to realize that a young pup will not be the protector you are hoping to have as it will take time to train him/her on the alert and response responsibilities before proper execution is achieved. You may even find your dog overly friendly to approaching strangers at first, but with time and training improvement with lead to the desired outcome.   

Do your research on what would be the best type of dog for you and your family needs, as well as its ability to be trained to protect you and your loved ones.

Motion Light Outside

If a home security system is too expensive and for some reason, you can’t have or don’t want a dog, consider investing in some high-quality motion lights. When it is 3 am and an intruder tries to walk around the house looking for an unlocked door or window, the flick of the light will get their adrenaline rushing and serve as a great deterrent from entering your home.

Like the security cameras, the motion lights should be placed in a way that they can be triggered regardless of the door or window they try to enter in. There are different qualities of motion detector lights and low-quality motion lights can be triggered simply by a cat passing through your yard.

TIP: For homeowners with larger properties, you may want to invest in a motion light that is powered by solar panels and can be placed on a fence or post out in the field which will deter anyone from trying to sneak through your property.

Have a Fence

Criminals who are looking for a home to burglarize tend to target homes with the least amount of invasion resistance. If they can quickly and easily walk around the home looking for unlocked doors or windows without obstacles of any kind, they are more likely to view the home as a potential target.

TIP: If a fence is not feasible or you simply don’t want a fence, consider letting the kids leave their toys all over the yard for them to trip on. Okay, not a real recommendation but the idea is the more obstacles to entry, the less likely an attempt will be made.

Know Your Property Well

This is for homeowners with a large number of acres. If you have 10 acres of trees but fail to regularly inspect the property, it is possible that someone may be using a small section of your property to do illegal activities. Unfortunately, we have read about this in the news and to somewhat disbelief the landowners had to fight a legal battle to persuade authorities that they had nothing to do with the illegal and unbeknownst to them activity that was taking place on their property.

Make it a point to know your property well, regularly inspect it for anything out of the norm, and if you ever suspect someone is doing illegal activities on your properties, call the authorities immediately. 

Team up with Your Neighbors

While you may not have immediate neighbors, you should get to know the neighbors that you do have so that you can help watch each other’s house while either one of you is out of town on vacation or business.

Some neighborhoods have a “watch program” where those who are living in the same area work together with each other and local law officials to reduce crime and ensure the safety of all those living in the area.

Plenty of Fire Extinguishers

The response time for those living in the rural countryside is obviously longer than it is for those living in the city. As such, there is the possibility of more damage being done to your home from fire than other homes should the flames get out of control and can only be effectively fought with the fire trucks and trained personnel.

Because of this response time difference, it is essential that your home is equipped with adequate fire extinguishers. Preferably one fire extinguisher should be placed on each level of the home, certainly in the kitchen, and in your shop if you have one. Some homeowners with larger structures prefer to invest in a wheeled fire extinguisher that can combat larger fires.

Long Screws for Door Lock

When you install doorknobs or deadbolts, they come with short screws which are easily broken with enough repeated kicks or hits on the door. To avoid this, it is a good idea to swap out the short screws with longer 2.5 to 3-inch screws that are much more durable and can withstand a greater amount of force. Do this for each external door of your home.

Yearly Inspections of your Windows and Doors

At least once a year, you should inspect the locks on your doors and windows to ensure that they are still in good working condition. Once you notice a window lock that is not functioning correctly, get it fixed or replaced as soon as you can. Until your window lock is repaired, consider placing a board in the window slider panel to prevent it from being opened from the outside. This is not a long-time solution as this could be a fire hazard if it were to prevent you from escaping promptly.

Invest in a Generator

When the power goes out, and it will, you’ll be glad you invested in a generator. Generators can be a life-saving device in the winter if heating is lost. By having a generator and some gas set aside you’ll be able to wait out the storm until the lineman can turn the power back on.

Here are some great generators that you can purchase on Amazon:

Food Storage

Just like the generator, you’ll be happy to have a food supply that can last you at least 2 weeks. Be sure to stock on foods that are long-lasting and that the whole family will eat. There are several reasons why you will want to have a food supply stored away. For example:

Natural Disasters: During the hours and days of an approaching people will flock to the stores and buy up all the goods they feel they will need for an extended period of time. This can lead to shortages leaving some, if not many, without the supplies they will need during the emergency. Fortunately, if you are prepared ahead of time with good storage of the most important supplies (like food, water, gasoline, etc.) you can focus your attention on preparing your home and family for enduring well the events that may transpire when the hurricane of another natural disaster hits.

A good strategy is to buy a little extra of these important supplies when you do your weekly shopping, so you always have them on hand for a rainy day.

Safety Plan (Fire or Break-in)

While last on the list, it certainly is one of the more important safety tips I learned while doing my research. Having an action plan with the whole family on what to do in the event of an emergency (Fire or Break-in).

Everyone should know what to do, where to go, and who to contact. Not having a plan will likely result in some confusion and ineffective efforts. So, if you don’t have a plan now, take time to make one with your family so that when the unthinkable happens, you are more prepared.

Platform Trucks for Businesses and How to Use Them

What Businesses Use Platform Trucks and How Should They Be Used?

 

What Businesses Use Platform Trucks and How Should They Be Used?

In today’s business world the movement of product is the ultimate goal as it correlates directly to sales and profit. Another way to look at the movement of product is the actual physical movement of the product from place to place – from manufacture facility to warehouse, from warehouse to transport vehicle, from transport vehicle to retail location, or directly to the customer. 

Platform trucks are used by a variety of businesses that have the need to manually move medium sized loads of product or materials from place to place. These include manufacturing facilities, factories, warehouses, and any setting where the operations require the transport of goods and materials are needed to be performed efficiently, safely, and in a way that significantly reduces the risk damage to the product.

Efficiency, productivity, and safety are vitally important aspects of any business operation. The right equipment in the hands of a knowledgeable and competent operator provides the necessary combination required to meet these essential operational goals.

 

What functional features must a facility have in order to truly benefit from the purchase and use of platform trucks?

Most platform trucks are designed to be operated by one or two individuals for the moving of hundreds of pounds of materials across a flat surface. To accommodate this the following considerations should be evaluated to ensure that the purchase and use of platform trucks can effectively meet the purpose for which the investment is made.

·       A flat transport surface. Because the use of a platform truck is to haul heavy loads, the surface on which the movement occurs must be flat and without noticeable cracks or significant interruptions in the smoothness of the surface where the wheels could become wedged. This could not only hinder the efficiency of the process but could also increase the likelihood of injury to workers as well as damage to goods and materials.

·       A functionally designed facility. A clear transport path from place to place is essential in the use of platform trucks. Moving the heavy-laden platform truck requires the initial overcoming of inertia to get the truck rolling, but then the pathway from point “A” to point “B” must be clear of obstacles of any kind. These include any placement of product, tools, equipment, waste materials, and any other type of traffic that might take place in the facility. This requires a well-planned and laid out course that is not interrupted with the complexities of the myriad of functions that take place in a facility as part of the day to day operations.

As product and materials are moved from place to place, there may be the potential challenges of narrow hallways, sharp corners, entryways, elevators, gates, etc. With all of these, the determination must be made as to whether a platform truck can safely and effectively maneuver around or through these structural features within your facility.

How does the design of platform trucks help achieve these goals, and which is best for my business?

A platform truck is basically a non-motorized and very durable low-level flat surface that sits atop four wheels. Other features in the design that should be carefully considered when determining which platform truck best meets the purposes of your business are:

·       What type of platform truck is best for your product transport needs? There are several types of platform trucks available that vary in height of the platform base, the type and length of the handle, the load capacity, the width and depth of the platform, the types of wheels and casters the platform has and how maneuverable the truck is, etc. Careful consideration should be taken to match the platform truck to the physical design features (or limitations) of the facility.

·       How heavy are the loads you will need to transport on a single platform truck? Platform trucks come in a variety of carrying capacities ranging from a few hundred pounds to a few thousand pounds. Careful consideration should be taken to ensure that the trucks used and the personnel using the trucks are matched for effective and safe use.

·       What materials is the platform truck made of? Platform trucks may come with a platform made of strong and durable polyurethane or wood or steel, a stainless-steel frame, thermoplastic rubber casters of different sizes and thicknesses, permanently fixed or removable handle, etc.

 

What can management do to enhance the effectiveness of the use of platform trucks in product and material transport?

As previously stated, the efficiency, productivity, and safety of any business operation begins with good decisions being made by management and implemented through the ranks. Specific to the function of platform trucks, the management team can play an important role in achieving these goals by:

·       Ensure that workers are thoroughly and properly trained. Training in the proper and safe use of the platform trucks is basic to a quality assurance program. Proper pulling and pushing techniques will decrease the risk of injury, including low back injuries that are high risk with any pushing and pulling activity. How to properly steer the platform in maneuvering around corners or obstacles, entering and exiting passageways, etc. Knowing the various parts of a platform truck and what is proper functioning can help identify deviations from the norm that may require maintenance work.

·       Establishing a safe and functional load limit. The load capacity of a given platform truck may or may not be what your workers should be transporting. Ensuring that workers thoroughly understand that a load limit may be in the number of boxes allowed to transport versus just a weight limit. Here again, effectively matching the worker’s capabilities with the load capacity of the truck is important.

·       Require organization. For smooth and efficient operations, consider labeling or numbering the platform trucks for availability, sequential use when applicable, and to ensure that they stay in the proper place and circumstances intended for each truck.

Take good care of this resource. Platform trucks are subjected to significant stressors of weight, repetitive use, and variable handling. Performing periodic and proper maintenance will ensure their continued use, worker safety, and prevent costly episodes from occurring.

Permanent vs Temporary Fire Escape Ladders for Your Home

Permanent vs Temporary Fire Escape Ladders for Your Home

The other day I was doing some research on fire escape ladders for a rental unit I was looking to purchase that had an upper level. Specifically, I wanted to know which type of fire escape ladder would be best for the rental unit I was considering. This is what I learned.

Home fire escape ladders come in two primary models, permeant and temporary. Permanent fire escape ladders are housed in a box that is secured in the wall between the studs and below the window frame. When needed, you simply open the window, remove the cover, pull out the bound up ladder, and toss it out the window where it rolls downward. Temporary fire escape ladders come bound up and can be stored anywhere. When needed, you grab the ladder, secure the hooks under the window frame, toss it out the window where it rolls downward.

Permanent or temporary fire escape ladders are an important safety feature for homes or rental units with an upper level. However, there are a number of things to consider when buying a fire escape ladder.

Permanent fire escape ladders are easier in the sense that in the case of a fire emergency they are already set up just below the escape window ready for use. You do not have to worry about finding and retrieving it from storage location and securing it to the window frame when time is of the essence. However, they cannot be moved to a different location in the house for a safer exit during a fire as they are secured to the box installed in the wall. Permanent fire escape ladders, while available for homes, are more commonly found on commercial buildings or apartments with multiple stories.

Installing a permanent fire escape ladder is fairly easily accomplished and can be performed by anyone with knowledge of wall studs and sheet rock cutting.

Temporary fire escape ladders can be stored directly in the room of its intended use, or stored in a specific location that is easily accessible and known to everyone in the family. It is recommended that the ladder be stored close to the window and easily seen from anywhere in the room. Some home owners choose to place a temporary escape ladder in each bedroom. Because they require some assembly or securement to the window frame, all family members should be educated to the process of setting it up to ensure efficient and effective use.

Practice should also be given to rolling the ladder out the window and climbing down to the ground. This can help calm the fears of children (and I guess adults) should the need for use be required at some time.

When picking the best ladder for your house, make sure that it is the right height for your home that it will extend to the ground or only a few feet short. It should also be stable enough to support the weight of the heaviest person who would be using it. In fact, many ladders are qualified to handle weights up to 1,000 pounds. Look for anti-slip features on the rungs for added safety, especially for younger kids or the elderly.

One of the frustrations with temporary fire escape ladders is that they can become tangled if not properly stored, or if when used rolled out in an erratic manner. It is good practice to periodically and regularly set up the ladder to ensure memory of the process so that there are no surprises during an emergency. Always take the time to fold it carefully when returning it to storage to avoid tangles. Test the ladder on different windows for efficient use in any room. If a single ladder is to be used for the entire upstairs, select the room that makes the most sense. One where there are not potential obstacles to set up and climbing down. You should be aware of power lines, trees or bushes, or any obstacle that could make climbing all the way to the ground difficult.

Before purchasing Check List:

  • Check height of the ladder
  • Check depth and length of the window hook to make sure it fits your windows
  • Check the weight that it can hold ( of 1,000 lbs. recommended)
  • DO NOT RELY ON COST: When it comes to fire escape ladders, research has shown that a more expensive ladder does not necessarily mean better quality. It can be important to read reviews on the product you are considering purchasing and always thoroughly check the specifications to make sure they fit your specific needs. Make sure you try your ladder after purchase. It should prove to be effective and comfortable for your use. If not, you should return it.

Installing, or securing a temporary fire escape ladder is done during the actual emergency. Again, this is why practice in doing so is important.

Related Questions:

How much do escape ladders cost?
Temporary escape ladders usually range in price from $30-$100 dollars. 

Are there fire escape ladders for commercial buildings?
Yes, most commercial buildings have permanent ladders. However, depending on the size of the structure, they can come in models that are permanently secured to the outside of the building. These models are metal and typically one solid structure.

Are there fire escape ladders for three story houses?
Yes! Check the length description on the box before you purchase and make sure that it will work for your home.

 

Standard (BC) Dry Chemical Fire Extinguishers Use, Classification and Model Designs

Standard Dry Chemical Fire Extinguishers

Standard Dry Chemical fire extinguishers use a sodium bicarbonate-based extinguishing agent to combat Class B and Class C fires. This was the first of the dry chemical agents that was developed. This type of fire extinguishing agent is not recommended for use on sensitive electric equipment. It is used to put out fires caused by flammable liquids (Class B) and energized electrical equipment (Class C) fires. The chemical agent is stored under pressure using dry nitrogen gas.

Typical uses include flammable liquid fires in commercial kitchens, parking garages, manufacturing facilities, research facilities, military service centers, auto dealerships, boats, vehicles, etc. See the information below for descriptions of Class B and Class C fires of which Standard BC dry chemical fire extinguishers are effective in providing protection against.

Breakdown of Class B and Class C Fires

Class B Fires

Class B fires consist of the burning of flammable liquids or gasses. Class B fires are common in the kitchens of homes where grease and cooking oils may catch fire, and in a variety of settings where flammable liquids are used or stored. DO NOT THROW WATER ONTO CLASS B FIRES as it cannot extinguisher them and can splatter the inflamed liquid and spread the fire.

Other flammable liquids and gasses that are considered fuel of Class B Fires include petroleum greases, oil-based paints, tars, alcohol, and some solvents.

Class C Fires

Class C Fires consist of “energized electrical equipment”. Examples of Class C fires are those that occur in electrical outlets and cords, home appliances, electrical panel boxes, computers, servers, motors, power tools, and any other source that may be energized or electrical.

Note: By removing the power or energized electrical source, the fire is then no longer considered a Class C fire, but rather a Class A or B fire depending on the fuel source that is burning.

Standard BC Dry Chemical Portable Fire Extinguishers

Potable fire extinguishers are designed mostly for homes, offices, vehicles, boats, and community places. If you would like to read more about portable fire extinguishers, check out our other articles titled: Understanding Portable Fire Extinguishers – Use and Limitations”, “How to Operate a Fire Extinguisher”, or “Types of Fire Extinguishers and Their Uses”.

OnlineSafetyDepot.com proudly carries a variety of Dry Chemical BC Class portable fire extinguishers that are designed for the home, businesses and public settings. Click HERE To learn more.

Standard BC Dry Chemical Wheeled Fire Extinguishers
Wheeled fire extinguishers are designed to extinguish larger fires. Often found in industrial settings such as warehouses, office buildings and event centers.

If you would like to learn more about wheeled fire extinguishers, please read our other articles titled, “Specifications for Wheeled Fire Extinguishers”, “Wheeled Fire Extinguishers – Why and Where to Place Them” or “Wheeled Fire Extinguisher Parts and Components

OnlineSafetyDepot.com also carries Standard BC Dry Chemical wheeled fire extinguishers.

S-150-RG-36 Standard (Buckeye)

S-150-RG-36R Standard (Buckeye)

S-150-PT Standard (Buckeye)

S-350-RG (Buckeye)

S-350-RG-R (Buckeye)

S-350-PT (Buckeye)

S-350-PT-R (Buckeye)

Is there a difference between dry chemical and dry powder fire extinguishers?

Dry powder fire extinguishers are designed to fight Class D fires where the fuel source is combustible metals. The mechanism of extinguishing fires is by separating the fuel from the oxygen or by removing the heat from the fire triangle.

In contrast, sodium bicarbonate (NaHCO3) dry chemical releases a cloud of carbon dioxide that smothers the fire, in essence, drives or separates oxygen from the fire stopping the chemical reaction.

Which is the best type of fire extinguisher for home kitchens, ABC vs BC fire extinguishers?

While ABC and BC fire extinguishers are designed to put out fires in the kitchen, it is generally recommended that a home-based kitchen be equipped with a multi-purpose fire extinguisher, such as ABC Class fire extinguishers. The reason for this is because fires in the kitchen can grow and burn cabinets, walls and carpet in and beyond the kitchen resulting in it becoming a Class A fire.

Can Vacuuming Cause Back Injury?

Can Vacuuming Cause Back Injury?

Vacuuming is considered a repetitive action of pushing and pulling. These actions move the vacuum over a surface for the purpose of removing unwanted debris. You and I simply call it sucking up dirt from our carpets. From the perspective of a physical therapist it is a maneuver that extends a lever arm (the vacuum) outward in front of you and magnifies the forces applied to the lower back area. If the repetitive forces that are produced are greater than the low back musculature are capable of bearing overtime, then the tissues in the area can be strained and become injured and inflamed.

The National Safety Council (NSC) reports that the repetitive pushing and pulling action of vacuuming increases the risk of low back injuries. It further reports that back injuries account for just under 50% of all musculoskeletal injuries suffered by janitors in the cleaning industry. 

In addition, data reveals that the repetitive motion of vacuuming places janitorial workers at increased risk of work-related upper-limb musculoskeletal injury. This increased risk exists regardless of whether the cleaner uses a back-pack or canister type machine.

 

What are the unique movement patterns of vacuuming that produce the increased risk for injury, and what modifications to the movement can be made to reduce the risk?

Problematic Movement Pattern Modified Movement Pattern
Keeping feet planted in one spot and pushing and pulling the vacuum forward and backward. This causes the person to have to bend forward to extend his/her reach.

 

This increases the stresses placed on the tissues of the lower back, not only from the forward bending, but the twisting that occurs in trunk associated with pushing the vacuum forward form one side (with one arm) and pulling it backward from the extended position.

Walk with your vacuum instead of pushing it ahead of you. Place the vacuum on your dominant side and yet slightly in front of you. This will also reduce the tendency to twist at the trunk.

 

To keep your trunk from bending forward very far, assume a slight bend in your knees and hips as you move the vacuum extension component back and forth over the carpet with your steps. The forward and backward movement of the arms are minimized as most of the movement is taking place from simply walking the vacuum forward and backward.

Lifting the vacuum up to move it from one room to another, where the center of weight of the vacuum is extended out in front of you.

 

With the vacuum off the floor, all its weight is pulling downward and applying force to your low back and to the shoulder joint of the upper extremity.

Whenever lifting the vacuum to transport it from one place to another, bend down close to the vacuum with your hips and knees (not back), use both arms to grasp easy gripped parts of the vacuum, and then stand upward keeping the vacuum close to your body.

 

This ensures that your legs, and not your back, are doing the lifting. It also keeps the weight of the vacuum close to your body verses out in front or to the side with a longer distance from your body’s support to the center of the weight of the vacuum.

Can speed of movement in vacuuming be a contributing factor to injury?

Whenever speed of a movement is increased the muscle forces of the body that are required to slow down the moving vacuum are increased. This does not mean that the process of vacuuming needs to be slow. We all like to complete this task as soon as possible and be able to move on to something else.

Rather than moving in rapid back and forth movements, slow the process down a bit and create a rhythmic or smooth movement pattern. Any and all jerking movements are eliminated, and the associated stresses placed on the various soft tissues of the body (especially low back and shoulders) are significantly reduced.

Can these same principles be applied to the cleaning job of mopping a floor?

When you consider the repetitive motion of mopping – the repeated pushing and pulling of the mop over the floor – it is easy to see how these motions are similar to vacuuming and therefore would also carry with them the increased risk for both low back and shoulder injuries.

A unique element of mopping, as compared to vacuuming, is that the weight of the mop can change over time depending on the amount of water that is carried in the soaked mop strands. A standard mop typically weighs 1-2 pounds. However, as you add water and chemicals, that weight can increase 2 to 3-fold.

Further compounding the risk is that many if not most mops come in one standard size, yet cleaners come in a variety of heights. This then requires additional adjustments to compensate for a handle that is too short.

Another area in which the work of mopping can increase the risk of back and shoulder injuries is that the movements of wringing out the mop head and lifting and refilling the water bucket, place the same type of strains on the back and shoulder. These are also “repetitive motion” actions and carry with them the same risks.

In Conclusion

While learning and applying proper mechanics when performing repetitive motion actions like vacuuming and mopping is extremely important in reducing musculoskeletal injuries, cleaning professionals must condition their bodies to withstand the repetitive forces that are continually placed upon them. Just as the athlete requires a conditioning program to safely and effectively compete in his or her sport, any person whose job requires vigorous physical activity should also engage in a regular training program to harden and prepare their bodies to effectively handle the stresses and strains inherent in the functional aspects of the job. The wonderful side benefit of this is that the worker’s body enjoys the benefits of exercise and the enhanced ability to go and do.