The Construction Industry’s”Fatal Four”

 

According to a report released in December of 2016 by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 4,379 private industry worker fatalities occurred in the 2015 calendar year.  These industries include jobs in industries such as transportation, farming, fishing, forestry, and truck drivers, among others. Of those injuries, 21.4% were in construction. That’s one in five workers!

The Fatal Four

The “fatal four” in the construction injury represents the four leading causes of fatalities. They are responsible for more than half of the construction worker deaths in 2015. They include:

  1. Falls (38.8%);
  2. Struck by an object (9.6%);
  3. Electrocution (8.6%);
  4. Caught in/between (7.2%) (This includes fatalities due to being caught-in or compressed by equipment or objects, and struck, caught, or crushed in collapsing structure, equipment, or material).

Injuries and fatalities to contract workers are on the rise. Why?

  • Because many contract workers are thrown into dangerous jobs without the health and safety training that a regular employee would get.
  • They may not be fully or properly trained in the use of machinery and equipment.
  • Being unable to identify unsafe or improperly maintained workstations, buildings, or equipment can create risks for those unfamiliar with related hazards.

Other reasons for construction site injuries include:

  • Rush jobs. There may be pressure to finish a job quickly, which may result in forgoing safety protocol in favor of completing the work.
  • Most work accidents occur after lunch indicating that concentration levels are better earlier in the day. It would then make sense to switch to lower risk tasks when brains and bodies are tiring.
  • Unsafe behavior by the worker. Misusing or improperly using equipment, or not wearing appropriate safety gear for example, can lead to injuries.
Top Ten Citations

OSHA sets the standard to which employers and workers need to comply. Sadly, protocol is often ignored. The top ten OSHA standards included in citations are:

  • Scaffolding
  • Fall protection (scope, application, definitions)
  • Excavations (general requirements)
  • Ladders
  • Head protection
  • Excavations (requirements for protective systems)
  • Hazard communication
  • Fall protection (training requirements)
  • Construction (general safety and health provisions)
  • Electrical (wiring methods, design and protection)
Injury Prevention

It’s obvious that the disregard of OSHA standards directly impacts construction workers’ “fatal four” injuries. OSHA has specific advice for preventing construction accidents, but here’s also a few universal safety measures that can also be implemented.

  • Mandatory Daily Safety Meetings. Keep management and workers on the same page where safety is concerned.
  • Safety Gear. Every employee should be trained about safety gear usage – which gear for which task. Safety gear should be a requirement, not a choice. Gear should also be examined routinely to check for damage and wear.
  • High Visibility Clothing. Wearing something like orange vests with reflective material will reduce chances getting hit by vehicles and other machinery.
  • Regular Breaks. Taking breaks will help reduce accidents due to exhaustion.

 

Construction site injuries can be prevented. Be safe while you’re on the job, whether you’re in a management or labor position. It’s also good to know how you’re covered, if at all. This especially applies to contract workers. You don’t want to get injured on the job, only to discover you have no means to cover medical bills and lost wages.

If you are injured on the job and need advice, give me a call. I’d be happy to discuss your rights with you.

Move Over Laws Protect Emergency Responders

paramedic

On Sunday, a driver hit a State Patrol trooper’s car on I-5 in Tacoma as the trooper investigated an earlier crash. Luckily no one was hurt, but northbound lanes were shut down for several hours.  This is a good reminder that moving over or slowing down to keep law enforcement officers and emergencies responders free from harm is not only a great safety precaution, but the law.

“Move Over” laws were created by a South Carolina paramedic who was struck and injured at an accident scene in 1994.  South Carolina passed the first Move Over law in 1996. In 2000, a series of similar events sparked the US Department of Transportation and Federal Highway Administration to address the need for improved standards in Emergency Scene Safety and protection for emergency workers. With the further assistance of public interest groups such as the Emergency Responder Safety Institute Move Over laws became standard across the US and Canada.

In our state, Move Over laws passed in 2007. In 2010 legislation added “Emergency Zone” laws. Emergency Zone is defined as the adjacent lanes of the roadway 200 feet (10 car lengths) before and after a stationary emergency vehicle with flashing lights. These vehicles include tow trucks, emergency assistance vehicles, or any police vehicle using emergency lights. Fines double for vehicles exceeding the posted speed limit in an Emergency Zone.

In Washington, If the highway has four or more lanes, two of which traffic is heading the same direction as the approaching vehicle, proceed with caution, and if reasonable and safe, yield the right-of-way by making a lane change or moving away from the lane or shoulder occupied by the stationary responding vehicle. If the highway has less than four lanes, proceed with caution, reduce speed, and if safe and under the rules, yield the right-of-way by passing to the left at a safe distance while also yielding the right-of-way to vehicles traveling in the proper direction.  If changing lanes or moving away would be unsafe or unreasonable, proceed with caution and reduce speed.

To find information on the Move Over law in your state, visit Move Over America.

Why we need Black History Month

Also called African American History Month, I wrote about this last year, and I will write about it again. As I see it, this will be a long-standing debate Black History between races, on our end, a debate of the ignorant. This time of year, without fail, someone on Facebook will post, “Why do we need Black History Month?” The formation of what would eventually be known as Black History Month began way back in 1915, a creation of minister Jesse E. Moorland and historian Carter G. Woodson. It’s a way of promoting the accomplishments of African Americans.

Back to the “why?” Have you ever heard of Claudette Colvin? Lewis Latimer? Daniel Hale Williams?  Frederick McKinley Jones? No? This is why we need Black History Month.

Claudette Colvin: Black History Claudette ColvinAt the age of 15, Colvin refused to move to the back of the bus, nine months before Rosa Parks did the same. The young activist studied the Jim Crow Laws and black leaders such as Harriet Tubma
n in school, which prompted her actions. The bus incident landed the teenager in jail. Colvin, along with Aurelia Browder, Susie McDonald, Mary Louise Smith, three other women discriminated against as a result of the segregation policy of the Montgomery bus system, went to court to challenge the law. That case, Browder v. Gayle, eventually ended up in the United States Supreme Court which ordered the state of Alabama (and Montgomery) to desegregate its buses.Black History Lewis Latimer

Lewis Latimer: Latimer was an inventor and engineer. After an honorable discharge from the navy, he took a job at a patent law firm as an office boy. By observing the draftsmen at work, he taught himself mechanical drawing and drafting. His bosses noticed his talents and promoted him to draftsman. He designed a number of inventions, and eventually found himself working with Alexander Graham Bell and Thomas Edison. Latimer drafted the patent for the telephone, and ended up inventing a light bulb that outlasted Edison’s original.

Black History Daniel Hale WilliamsDaniel Hale Williams: Williams, or as he was called, Dr. Dan, was a surgeon in Chicago. Though he himself found success, he realized the lack of medical training for black doctors and nurses and deficiency in medical care for blacks. At the time, blacks were barred from being admitted to hospitals and black doctors were refused staff positions. In 1891, Dr. Dan founded Provident Hospital and Training School for Nurses, the first interracial hospital and medical training facility. In 1893, Williams also performed one of the first successful open heart surgeries.

Frederick McKinley Jones: On his own from age 11, Jones did odd jobs to survive. He became adept at mechanics, and while working at a garage, continued to read up on the subject to improve his craft. Eventually his skills landed him a job on a farm where he taught himself about electronics. He began inventing machines when doctors needed a way to make house calls in the snow. He attached skis to the undercarriage of an old airplane body and a propeller to a motor.  His “Snow Machine” easily got doctors to their destinations. He continued to invent, including a portable x-ray machine, a radio transmitter, and a device to combine sound with motion pictures. He patented more than 60 inventions, most of them were in refrigeration. Jones was responsible for advances in truck refrigeration, enabling the long-haul transportation of perishable goods. This helped greatly during World War II for the preservation and transportation of blood, medicines, and food to the battlefield and hospitals.

Want another? Read my blog about Bessie Coleman. This is just a handful of the profusion of great, but little known, African Americans that have made history.

Have you learned something? American history classes somehow seemed to omit the accomplishments of great African Americans – those who made advances in science, the creators and innovators, the artists and musicians, the ones who championed for civil rights, those whose contributions helped shape our American culture. Theirs is a history that should be learned and integrated with the rest of American history, as it is prolific with stories of possibility, aspiration, adversity, success, and inspiration.

Cold related injuries

Most individuals have the luxury of working in an office or some other type of edifice, so cold related injuries wouldcold rarely, if ever, be a concern. However, there are organizations and industries in which people work outside on a frequent or regular basis. Parks employees, road workers, construction, military, for example, have duties that involve braving the elements to earn a paycheck. While working outdoors, especially during winter weather, it’s important to take precautions to avoid injuries related to the cold.

Though apathy and lack of awareness may contribute to risk, there are other contributing factors to cold related injuries.

  • Inadequate or wet clothing
  • Consuming substances that inhibit the body’s response to cold, or that impair judgment.
  • Poor physical fitness
  • Illness, such as a cold or the flu
  • Becoming fatigued, restrained, injured, lost or entrapped out in the elements
  • Also, men have a notable higher rate of cold related injury than do women.

Damage can occur through the following conditions:

Cold stress: When the body struggles to maintain its normal temperature, the body will begin to shift blood flow from the extremities and outer skin to the chest and abdomen. Exposed skin and the extremities will cool more rapidly and increase the risk of more serious cold related injuries, such as frostbite and hypothermia. First indication is shivering.

Rewarm an individual suffering from cold stress by wrapping their body in blankets, finding shelter, and providing a radiant heat source. Encourage him or her to stay in motion to generate body heat.

Hypothermia: When the body is unable to replace heat lost to the elements, body temperature will become abnormally low.

Symptoms include:

  • Shivering
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of coordination
  • Slurred speech
  • Disorientation

More advanced indicators may involve:

  • The lack of shivering
  • Blue skin
  • Dilated pupils
  • Shallow breathing
  • Irregular heartbeat

In the late stages, the victim might feel so hot they may want to remove clothing. If left untreated hypothermia can result in unconsciousness and eventually death.

Helping someone with hypothermia:

  • Request immediate medical assistance.
  • Move the person to a warm, dry room or shelter
  • Remove wet clothing, including shoes and socks
  • Keep the person in a horizontal position.
  • Cover him or her with layers of blankets or towels and a vapor barrier for example a tarp or garbage bag.
  • Cover the head and neck but not the face
  • If alert, offer a warm, sweetened, nonalcoholic beverage.
  • Place warm bottles or hot packs in armpits, the groin area and along sides of the chest.
  • Ask emergency technicians for additional rewarming instructions.

 

A person in late stage hypothermia and unconscious is in a lethal situation. Wrap him or her in blankets and quickly transport them to where they can receive medical attention. Do not attempt to rewarm them.  If they stop breathing or don’t have a pulse for the period of one minute, CPR should be started. However, don’t apply chest compressions without the direction of an emergency medical technician (EMT).

Immersion Hypothermia: This condition is when exposure to cold water results in hypothermia. Damage occurs more quickly when a person is wet as water conducts heat away from the body 25 times faster than air. Don’t let warmer water fool you. Immersion hypothermia can occur in water temperatures below 70°F.

Helping someone with this type of hypothermia is similar to nonimmersion hypothermia.

 Frostnip and Frostbite:  Frostnip is a mild freezing of the top layers of skin tissue and is reversible. Frostbite is irreversible and occurs when the skin freezes, causing ice crystals to form between cells. Toes, fingers, ears, cheeks and the nose are particularly prone to frostbite. In serious cases, tissue, muscle and bone may be affected and amputation may be required.

Symptoms of Frostbite:

  • Numbness, tingling, stinging or aching,
  • Bluish or pale, waxy skin.

If caught early, recovery from frostbite is possible.  If there is no danger of freezing, mildly frozen tissue may be rewarmed and insulated until medical attention is received.

In case of frostbite:

  • Get indoors immediately.
  • Seek medical attention.
  • Remove constrictive clothing and jewelry that could impair circulation.
  • Place dry, sterile gauze between toes and fingers to absorb moisture and keep them from sticking together
  • Elevate the affected area to reduce pain and swelling

Immediate care recommendations for deep frostbite:

  • Follow guidelines for the treatment of hypothermia.
  • Do not rub or massage the affected area to warm it.
  • Do not apply snow or water, or break blisters.
  • Loosely cover and protect the area from contact.
  • Do not try to rewarm the frostbitten area without professional medical assistance. For example, do not place in warm water. Rewarmed tissue sustains further damage if it refreezes.
  • Warm with radiant heat. Do not use a heating pad, heat lamp or the heat of a stove, fireplace or radiator. Numb extremities can be easily burned.

Trench/Immersion Foot:  This happens when the body, to reduce heat loss, constricts blood vessels to cut down circulation in the feet. Without circulation, the skin tissue will die. This can occur in temperatures as high as 60°F if the feet are constantly wet.

Symptoms include:

  • Numbness, a tingling and/or itching sensation accompanied by,
  • Redness, swelling, leg cramps, blisters or ulcers, and bleeding under the skin.
  • In some cases, gangrene may turn feet dark purple, blue or gray.

 For immediate care:

  • Avoid walking
  • Remove footwear and socks, and dry the feet.
  • Moving to a warm, dry area and using rewarming techniques is usually only minimally effective.
  • Seek medical treatment.

Chilblains: These are damaged capillary beds (groups of small blood vessels) in the skin. They are caused by repeated exposure to temperatures just above freezing and up to as high as 60°F. Damage is permanent.

Symptoms:

  • Redness and itching—usually on cheeks, ears, fingers and toes
  • Blistering, inflammation and, in severe cases, ulceration.

Caring of chilblains:

  • Avoid scratching.
  • Slowly warm the skin.
  • Use corticosteroid creams to relieve itching and swelling.working outdoors
  • Keep blisters and ulcers clean and covered.
  • Seek medical advice.

 How to prevent these cold related injuries:

  • Use your head:
    • Check the weather forecast and be prepared for changing conditions.
    • If working on ice, be sure it’s thick enough to safely support applied weight.
    • Take extra precautions if you are unaccustomed to the cold or exerting yourself at higher elevations.
  • Clothing:
    • Wear layers of cold weather clothing retain body heat and repel water.
    • Wool, silk and most synthetics retain their insulating properties when they are wet.
    • Pack extra clothing in case you get wet.
    • Wear goggles or sunglasses to protect your eyes and sunscreen to protect your skin, even when it’s overcast.
    • The Army Medical Department website states to remember the acronym COLD.
      • C: Keep it Clean; O: Avoid Overheating; L: Wear clothing Loose and in layers; D: Keep clothing Dry
    • Follow the rules:
      • Stay on paths and trails and out of restricted areas.
      • Use your phones for emergencies and do not use it while engaging in a work or recreation activity.
    • Avoid fatigue:
      • Staying fit year-round is one of the best ways to manage fatigue and prevent serious injuries.
      • Follow an exercise regimen that helps build strength, stamina and flexibility.
      • Always stretch before and after your activity.
      • Take a break in a warm place if you are in pain or feel exhausted.
      • Keep your body fueled and well-hydrated. Drink plenty of water, eat nutritious meals and carry snacks to boost your energy.
      • Cold-weather workers who wear heavy, protective clothing require 10-15 percent more calories a day compared to those working in temperate climates.

Much of this advice is common sense. Don’t put yourself in peril by not being prepared for being in cold weather. This information isn’t only for those who work in the cold, but those who play in it as well – skiers, snowboarders, snowmobilers, etc. Whether at work or play, use your head, wear appropriate clothing and bring extra, and stay out of restricted areas and you should be able to avoid cold related injuries.

Avoiding unethical attorneys

ambulance chaserPersonal injury attorneys hate hearing phrases like “Ambulance Chasers” and don’t like being called sharks. Sadly however, there are unethical attorneys out there  and they give us all a bad name.  For instance, a New Jersey attorney and paralegal are in hot water for assisting a pair of chiropractors in the operation of a personal injury mill. The chiropractors, who were brothers, paid “runners” $1000 to obtain accident reports, find accident victims, then bring them in for treatment.  The attorney and paralegal involved paid the practicing brothers to meet with their patients and accept insurance settlements on their behalf. You can read more about this story here.

This type of solicitation is completely unethical per rules set by the American Bar Association.

Be wary if you are contacted by a personal injury attorney by the following methods:
  • In person, live telephone or real time electronic contact, unless the attorney is a family member, close friend, or you’ve had a prior professional relationship with the attorney.
  • The attorney tries to solicit a professional relationship in person, writing, or by recorded or electronic communication if you have already stated that you are not interested in their services.
  • By coercion, duress, or harassment.

Any unsolicited written, recorded or electronic communication from an attorney requesting to provide you with legal services must include “Advertising Material” on the outside of the envelope, and at the beginning and end of any recorded or electronic communication, unless, once again you are a family member, friend, or have a prior professional relationship.

Exceptions to this would be:
  1. If the attorney is offering their services Pro Bono, or, free.
  2. If you subscribe to a prepaid or group legal service plan, such as LegalShield, you’ve requested assistance on a legal matter, and the attorney is a participating attorney under your plan.
The best ways to find an attorney are through:

If you’re approached by an attorney and their tactics seem questionable, they probably are. Attorneys who will disregard ethics to gain clients are only looking out for one person’s interests – their own.

7 resolutions that could prevent an injury or accident

It’s the time of year to make your annual resolutions if you haven’t already. Sticking with popular ones like living new years resolutionshealthier and reducing debt, for example, are great goals, but perhaps it’s time to step outside the box. Think about goals that may prevent accidents and injuries – goals that will keep personal injury lawsuits at bay. Here are some examples:

  1. Review insurance policies. Ensure that your car, home, business policies are up to date with the changing values caused by inflation, appreciation or depreciation.
  2. Make a promise to yourself that when you’re on the road you avoid distractions. Distractions include more than cell phone use. Eating, putting on makeup, and letting your mind wander are also accident causing distractions.
  3. Don’t drive while drowsy either. Better to pull over and take a cat nap than fall asleep at the wheel.
  4. Do a scan of your home and yard for potential hazards that could cause injury, for example, exposeprescription drugsd cords, loose bricks, or a dilapidated deck. Fix what you can and make sure you’ve noted everything else and warn visitors.
  5. Dispose of unused or expired prescription drugs.
  6. If you have a dog, check your fence for holes or broken latches and ensure your pet cannot leave the property and bite someone.
  7. At work, be sure to wear all required safety gear. Periodically check equipment and gear for damage and malfunctions.

Some of these seem obvious, but people suffer preventable injuries every day. The others may seem like a lot of work, but the alternative – a personal injury lawsuit – would be an even bigger headache.

Have a safe and happy 2017.

Celebrating our veterans

veterans dayTomorrow is Veterans Day. Here’s a little history about this important celebration:

Origins

The end of the “Great War,” World War I came on the 11th hour of the 11th day on the 11th month of 1918 when an armistice, or temporary end to the fighting, was called between the Allied nations and Germany.  A year later, President Woodrow Wilson declared November 11th as the first commemorative Armistice Day. He stated:

“To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations…”

The day became a national legal holiday in 1938 as a dedication to the cause of world peace and to honor the veterans of World War I. In 1954 the act declaring the day a holiday was amended for two reasons.  World War II had the greatest recruitment of military troops in United States history and the deployment of troops to Korea. The word “Armistice” was changed to “Veterans” to honor the American veterans of all wars.

Why not a Monday?

In 1968 under the Uniform Holiday Bill, Veterans Day began being on a Monday every year along with Washington’s Birthday, Memorial Day, and Columbus Day. The thought behind the change was to give people three-day weekends to encourage consumerism and stimulate the economy. However, the changed caused some confusion and many states opposed the change and did not comply. Realizing that the date of observance for Veterans Day was a holiday based on historic significance, which meant a great deal to not only veterans, but all Americans, President Gerald R. Ford signed a law returning the holiday to its original date of November 11, beginning in 1978.

Celebrations

The United States isn’t the only country to recognize their veterans. Countries that are members of the Common Wealth of Nations, United Kingdom, Australia and Canada to name a few, also honor veterans of the two World Wars on Remembrance Day. Many of the countries observe a two minute silence at 11:00 am every November 11th. France, who lost many military members during World War 1, celebrate Armistice Day. In Poland, November 11th signifies their Independence Day.

U.S. Veterans Day commemorations include an official wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknowns in Arlington National Cemetery, parades and other celebrations.

Veterans Day vs Memorial Day

Many people confuse Memorial Day and Veterans Day. On Memorial Day we remember and honor military personnel who died in the service of our country. Veterans Day pays tribute to all American veterans, living or dead, who served in war or peacetime. It is especially a time to thank veterans still living for their service to our country.

The Red Poppy

In the United States, the red poppy is used during Memorial Day to help raise money for disabled veterans; however, the poppy is also associated with Veterans Day as it has become a symbol of the sacrifices, resiliencered poppies, and perseverance of all veterans.

The red poppy was immortalized in the poem, In Flanders Field, by Canadian physician and officer, Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae. The poppy grew over the graves of deceased soldiers. The flowers, which lay dormant in the soil for years then reappear in great numbers, inspired the poem. He associated the flowers with his veteran patients and fallen friends.

Our veterans have fought bravely and persevered though they may have suffered wounds, be them physical or emotional or both. Go out of your way to thank a veteran today. It’s because of their service and sacrifice that we are able to remain a free country and they deserve to be honored.

Thank you veterans. You’ve served us well.

Resources:

Here is a list of restaurants offering discounts or free meals to veterans on Veterans Day.

Retail stores also give discounts on Veterans Day.

Veterans Day information from the U.S. Department of Veteran’s Affairs.

Everything from parade listings to teacher’s resources at Operation: We Are Here

Halloween Safety Part Three: Pedestrian Accidents

Halloween night is a big day for emergency room staff. Many ER visits are due to  injuries resulting from car vs. pedestrian Halloween Safetyaccidents. Per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, children are four times more likely to be hit by a motor vehicle on Halloween than any other day of the year. There are many reasons for pedestrian accidents on Halloween, including but not limited to:

  • Trick-or-treating after dark.
  • Children are likely to choose the shortest route such as crossing streets mid block, sometimes darting out between parked cars.
  • Smaller children may not be visible to drivers while crossing the street.
  • Parents overestimating their child’s ability to negotiate traffic.
  • Eager trick-or-treaters often forget about safety.

Motorists need to do their part avoiding pedestrian accidents and protecting children from harm on Halloween night. Here are some tips for driving safely on Halloween.

  • Stow away your cell phone. Pull over and stop to call, text or answer.
  • Don’t pass stopped vehicles. Children may be getting dropped off or picked up.
  • Obey all traffic signs and signals and drive at least 5 mph below the posted speed limit to give yourself extra brake time if a child darts in front of your car.
  • Watch for children walking on roadways, medians and curbs.
  • Look for children crossing the street midblock or between parked cars.
  • Carefully enter and exit driveways and alleys.
  • Turn on your headlights to make yourself more visible.
  • Always yield to young pedestrians. They may not stop, either because they don’t see your vehicle or don’t know how to safely cross the street.
  • If dropping off or picking up your own children, park and turn on your hazards.

Let’s keep the tragedies at bay this Halloween. Drive safely.

Do you have any other safety tips for those driving on Halloween night?

Stay safe during the storm

stormThe big storm is here, time to batten down the hatches! Trees may fall, power may go out, so be prepared. Not sure how? Here is some advice.

Dress appropriately

 Wear weather appropriate clothing.  Even if you’re just going out for a few minutes, be prepared.  You could get delayed and put yourself at risk if you’re not dressed for the weather.  Wear several layers of loose-fitting, lightweight, warm clothing rather than one layer of heavy clothing.

Staying safe during a wind storm 
  • If you are indoors, move away from windows or objects that could fall. Go to lower floors in multi-story homes.
  • If you are driving, pull off the road and stop away from trees. If possible, walk into a safe building. Avoid overpasses, power lines and other hazards.
  • Listen to your radio for emergency instructions.
What to do after a wind storm 
  • Check yourself and those around you for injuries.
  • Evacuate damaged buildings. Do not re-enter until declared safe by authorities.
  • Call 9-1-1 only to report a life threatening emergency.
  • If you smell gas or hear a hissing sound indoors — open windows and leave the building. Turn off the gas source and call your gas company. Do not use matches, candles, open flames or electric switches indoors.
  • Provide assistance to your neighbors, especially the elderly or disabled.
  • Try to make contact with an out-of-area phone contact, but avoid making local telephone calls.
  • Monitor a portable or weather radio for instructions or an official “all clear” notice. Radio stations will broadcast what to do, the location of emergency shelters, medical aid stations, and the extent of damage.
During a power outage
  • Turn off lights and electrical appliances except for one lamp and the refrigerator and freezer. The one lamp will be notification of restored power.
  • Unplug computers and other sensitive equipment to protect them from possible surges when the power is restored.
  • Conserve water, especially if you use well water.
  • Candles can cause a fire. It’s far better to use battery-operated flashlights or glow sticks for lighting.flashlight during storm
  • Using a kerosene heater, gas lantern or stove inside the house can be dangerous. Maintain proper ventilation at all times to avoid a buildup of toxic fumes, and be sure to have a carbon monoxide detector.
  • Stay away from downed power lines and sagging trees with broken limbs.
  • Wait at least 15 minutes after power is restored before turning on other appliances.
Keeping food safe
  • When power outages make refrigeration unavailable, use and store food carefully to prevent food borne illnesses.
  • Foods that spoil the fastest should be used first.
  • Keep doors to refrigerators and freezers closed. Your refrigerator’s freezer will keep food frozen for up to a day. A separate fully-loaded freezer will keep food frozen for two days.
  • If in doubt, throw it out.
    • Throw out meat, seafood, dairy products and cooked food that does not feel cold.
    • Never taste suspect food. Even if food looks and smells fine, illness-causing bacteria may be present.

Don’t forget about your pets. Keep them inside as much as possible during a storm. Take precautions, be prepared, and stay safe.

Sexual harassment in the workplace

sexual harassmentDonald Trump’s lewd video with Billy Bush once again brings his treatment of women to the forefront. Numerous lawsuits have been filed against Donald Trump and his companies with regard to sexual harassment and discrimination in the workplace. This isn’t breaking news either. Accusations against Trump and his upper echelon staff members date back at least 20 years.

Trump may make light of his behavior and call his vulgar conversation with Bush “locker room talk,” but sexual harassment and mistreatment of women is no laughing matter. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 protects employees from sexual harassment. Unfortunately, even with legal protections, many employees still encounter this type of behavior in the workplace.

There are two types of sexual harassment.
  1. Quid pro quo:
    1. Submission to sexual harassment is a term or condition of employment.
    2. Submission to or rejection of such behaviors are used as a basis for employment decisions.
    3. Examples of Quid pro quo sexual harassment:
      1. Demanding sexual favors for a promotion or raise.
      2. Disciplining or firing a subordinate who ends a romance.
      3. Changing work standards after a subordinate refuses repeated requests for a date.
  2. Hostile work environment:
    1. Sexual harassment makes your workplace environment intimidating, hostile, or offensive.
    2. Examples of behaviors that can create a hostile environment:
      1. Verbal
        1. Sexual jokes or insults.
        2. Comments about a person’s body or sex life.
        3. Sexually demeaning comments.
      2. Non-Verbal
        1. Gestures or staring.
        2. Display of sexually suggestive or degrading materials.
        3. Giving sexually suggestive “gifts”.
      3. Physical
        1. Touching, hugging, kissing or patting.
        2. Brushing against a person’s body.
        3. Blocking a person’s movement.
What to do if sexually harassed at work
  1. Follow company policy: Look up your employer’s policy on sexual harassment and follow the procedures.
  2. Write everything down: Note the date, time, and place of each incident, what was said and done, and who witnessed the actions.
  3. Speak up: Let the other party know that his or her behavior is offensive and unwanted and ask them to stop.
  4. Tell a supervisor or human resources department: According to the Supreme Court, you must report sexual harassment before you can sue. Your employer needs a chance to fix the situation before taking the next step. Put it in writing as well. Everything should be documented.
  5. File a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC): If you’ve followed company policy and reported harassment at work and the employer doesn’t or won’t take action, file with the EEOC. The EEOC will notify your employer that you have filed a charge and will begin an investigation into your complaint. You are legally protected from retaliation if you file a harassment charge with the EEOC.
  6. Litigation: If the EEOC issues a “right to sue” letter, you may bring a civil lawsuit for any damages you suffered due to the sexual harassment. You do not need to show physical injuries.  The most common injuries in a sexual harassment case are the emotional injuries suffered by the victim.

 

Courts consider the following when ruling on a hostile work environment:
  1. Was the conduct verbal, physical, or both?
  2. Frequency of conduct in question.
  3. Was the conduct hostile or patently offensive?
  4. Is the alleged harasser a co-worker or supervisor?
  5. Did others joined in perpetrating the harassment?
  6. Was the harassment directed at more than one individual?
A legal recovery may include:
  • Reinstatement, if job loss occurred;
  • Back pay;
  • Damages for emotional distress;
  • Policies or training to stop harassment may be required of your employer; and
  • Attorney’s fees and court costs.

If you’ve been sexually harassed at work, whether man or woman, or same-sex harassment, don’t be afraid to report it. Retaliation is also unlawful under the Civil Rights Act of 1964.