National Safety Month at AVANGRID
By Nathan Boutwell, AVANGRID Director of Health and Safety & Rick Bruno, AVANGRID Director – Health & Wellness
It’s finally June and that means it’s National Safety Month!
According to the National Safety Council (NSC), accidental injury has become the No. 3 cause of death for the first time in U.S. history. Based on new injury statistics, an American is accidentally injured every second and killed every three minutes by a preventable event – a drug overdose, a vehicle crash, a fall, a drowning or another preventable incident. In 2017 there were 169,936 preventable deaths, an increase of 5.6% from 2016 and a 96% increase over 25 years. In this same time period, work and vehicle deaths remained stable, while deaths in the home and public space increased.
National Safety Month has four focus areas: Hazard Recognition, Slips, Trips and Falls, Fatigue, and Alcohol, Marijuana and Opioid Impairment. Let’s look at each topic briefly and how you can use apply some prevention strategies at home.
In our work we talk about hazards and risk quite often. The hazard is the “bad thing” that can hurt you. When we see a hazard but don’t believe it will impact us in a harmful way, we start to see risk settle in. Risk can be defined as how close you allow yourself (or a family member) to get to the hazard. In our work, we measure and evaluate all the risks. We make sure to ask our staff to look at a task-at-hand and ask some simple questions, like:
1. Is the task I’m about to do something that could hurt me?
2. What steps am I taking to protect and keep myself safe?
3. Are the steps I’m taking enough?
I encourage anyone reading this to look at some “simple” tasks at home and think potential outcomes. Can you stand on a chair to change the burned out lightbulb in the hallway? Sure you can….but what are the risks involved? Taking the time to get a ladder or using a tool to help you can eliminates the risk of climbing and getting hurt.
Oh! While you’re at it…why not put in an energy efficient LED bulb so you don’t have to change it that often.
Slips, Trips, and Falls
According to the National Safety Council, falls are a leading cause of preventable workplace injuries causing time away from work. While walking seems like a simple task, it’s been a leading cause of workplace injury for many years. A challenge we all face is being distracted while walking. We’re all guilty of looking at our phones and bumping into something or someone. Our goal should be to minimize distractions wherever can.
Some examples include:
Don’t read text messages, e-mails, or similar material while walking.
Avoid intense distracting conversations; the focus on the conversation could cause you to miss things like changes in elevation because of holes in the ground.
Carrying too much in your hands. Carry light loads and always strive to have a hand free so you can use the handrail when taking the stairs.
We all have busy lives…Often the item we choose to give up is sleep, and this is a mistake. When we choose to miss out on sleep we’re impacting more than just our personal productivity. Studies show that our cognitive performance decreases, as well as our accuracy and judgment. There are also links to serious health risks such as depression, obesity, and cardiovascular disease. Before bed, try to set aside your cell phone and go old school…read something you enjoy and set yourself up for a successful night of rest. Set a goal to consistently get 7 – 9 hours of sleep each day.
Chances are good you know someone whose life has been impacted by substance abuse. There are a few things I’ve learned working in the Health & Safety field. First, is that healing pain with pain never works. Compassion and understanding towards the person affected is important as the number one thing a person will need in order to seek help is support.
If you know (or suspect) someone is struggling with addiction, then you’ve probably spotted some signs and symptoms. These could include:
Being late or showing a disinterest in work
Lack of energy, motivation or interest in grooming, clothing or overall appearance
Recognition of these signs or symptoms can be the key first step. It’s not always easy to have these types of conversations but ignoring it could put you, the person you care about, and potentially others at risk. After you lend a listening ear, offer assistance! Many employers have an employee assistance program that can help the person seek treatment. Last, but not least, know your company policies. If the person is unreceptive to help or you’re unsure of where to go, Human Resources is a great tool to utilize…It’s better to raise a concern than ignore it and have regrets later down the line.
Any of these hazards can be present in your home or workplace. My ask of you is to consider how close you get to the hazard and to think about the level of risk you are personally willing to accept. I hope you will consider all the options you have to remain safe and protect yourself. While the safer option may not be the most efficient, once you’ve evaluated the task, you can confidently say you have the essential controls in place to perform the task safely! If you take this approach my experience says it will serve you well!