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A Message About Fire Safety, Housekeeping, MSDS’s & SDS’s


In a state know for wildfires, this one was off the charts.  It caused the evacuation of tens of thousands of residents.  It was responsible for millions in property damage.  It threatened entire cities.  It endangered over 6,000 firefighters.

The fire was first spotted on a Wednesday in a forest south of Prescott, Arizona.  Strong winds and dry terrain stoked the blaze as firefighters and forest crews sprang into action. The fire raged and within days it consumed 1,000 acres spreading to within three miles of downtown Prescott.  Over 1,500 residents evacuated as the fire waged war on southern Arizona.

Meanwhile in eastern Arizona another wildfire rose up in Show Low.  It roared across a 330,000 acre area. As firefighters and forest workers battled the blaze, their worst fear seemed unavoidable.  The two separate wildfires were heading toward each other and within eight days, they merged into one fearsome conflagration of flame, ash and smoke.

Devastation reigned.  The American Red Cross provided food and shelter to displaced residents.  The President came to witness the destruction and the federal government designated the site a disaster area as firefighters battled the blaze.  More voracious than ever, the fire continued its rampage of destruction.

Cooler weather and the firebreaks eventually began to have an effect. Five weeks after it began, the wildfire was starting to be contained. But the toll was sobering.  This fire, the largest wildfire in Arizona history, decimated 517 square miles, an area larger than Los Angeles.  It reduced 423 homes to ash and cinder. It caused 30,000 evacuations.

Whether in a forest, at work or even in your own home, the power and fury of fire can destroy in minutes what took months or years to build.  Your best plan is to fight back with prevention.

*Dispose of trash, flammable fluids, oily rags and other waste properly.

*Handle extension cords and electrical equipment with care.

*Remove frayed cords, replace damaged plugs and don’t overload electrical circuits.

*Smoke only in designated areas, and make sure cigarettes, etc., are completely extinguished.

*Know where fire extinguishers are located and how to use them.


*Copyright 2002 Harkins Safety B157


A Message About SDS, MSDS Electrical Safety And Housekeeping

Fire Watcher

Like the lighthouse operator and long-distance runner, the fire watcher is surrounded in romance and lore. These solitary figures spend hour after hour, day after day, month after month perched high atop our nation’s forests searching for any sign of impending forest fire.  How did the job of fire watcher begin? Here’s the story.

The first fire lookout was built in 1876 by the Southern Pacific Railroad on Red Mountain near Donner Summit to watch for train fires. Then in 1905, the U.S. Forest Service adopted the idea.  They followed the example of the railroad and began using fire watchers to create an organized fire prevention and detection system.

The Forest Service built a network of forest fire lookout stations across the U.S. At first, the stations were little more than campsites.  The fire watcher would ride there on horseback, make his observations and travel to the next site. Later, crow’s-nest platforms were built atop the highest trees.  The fire watcher would stand vigil, sometimes for hours or days at a time.  If a fire was spotted, the fire watcher often became a firefighter, jumping on his horse or hiking to the fire to help put it out. By 1914 the job of fire watcher was more defined and these solitary workers spent their days in live-in cabins built on top of huge towers.

In the 1930’s during the Great Depression, government programs to put people back to work included the Civilian Conservation Corps. With the help of the CCC, fire watch towers began springing up across the county; over 8,000 towers were built and staffed by full-time fire watchers.

During World War II, the fire watchers’ keen observation skills were used to look out for enemy aircraft.  The fire watchers staffed aircraft observation decks 365 days a year until the war ended.

Although many fire watchers were phased out in the 1970s in favor of airplane observation, we need to stay vigilant when it comes to fire prevention.  Being a fire watcher is just as important today as it was many years ago.

*Look for ways to prevent electrical fires.  Check for frayed wires and replace them.  Always use the correct fuses, check ground wires and keep combustibles away from machines.

*Look for ways to avoid chemical fires. Always read MSDS’s, SDS’s and labels, keep flammable liquids away from ignition sources, check compressed gas cylinders for leaks and always store cylinders securely. Practice welding only in areas with fire-resistant floors.

*Look for ways to keep your work area safe.  Keep machines free of dust and grease.  Dispose of combustibles like oily rags properly.  Keep walkways, stairs and fire doors free of debris.


*Copyright 2005 Harkins Safety B204


A Message About Environmental Safety, Chemicals And Hazardous Waste

Gusher in the Gulf

The name “Valdez” made people think of the worst oil spill ever.  No more.  Now that dubious honor goes to Deep Water Horizon, an offshore drilling platform operated in the Gulf of Mexico.

On April 20, 2010, the rig exploded, killing 11 workers and opening a gusher that released millions of gallons of crude oil into the Gulf waters.  What happened and why?

Floating on the Gulf waters, the Deep Water Horizon platform sent its drilling equipment 5,000 feet below the surface to reach the sea floor.  Beyond that depth, it drilled down another 18,000 feet into the earth to reach the oil reserve.  It’s an amazing feat of technology, one that has been compared to working on the surface of the moon.

On the sea floor, 5,000 feet below the water’s surface, sat the blowout preventer.  It’s a failsafe device.  Its purpose is to close off the well in an emergency.  But the fail safe device failed.

A dead battery kept the blowout preventer from signaling the rising pressure.  Worse, a leak in the hydraulic system stopped the valves from closing off the well and the main valve.  The shear ram was not strong enough to crush the well pipe and stop the oil flow.

Barrel after barrel of oil fouled the Gulf waters while technicians struggled to find a solution.  It’s a lesson for everyone about following procedures, staying aware, never cutting corners and protecting our precious environment.

That’s why on the job it’s vital for each of us to:

*Recycle.  It saves money, reduces waste and lessons the landfill load.

*Properly handle all chemicals and hazardous materials.  Even small amounts can be extremely dangerous.  Be smart when you’re around them.

*Conserve energy and natural resources.  Turn off lights, don’t waste water and look for other ways to conserve.  Using resources is okay; abusing them isn’t.

The responsibility is ours.  Taking that responsibility seriously and taking appropriate action can save resources and prevent terrible damage.

Thankfully, technicians did find a way to cap the oil flow from the Deep Water Horizon spill.  But by then the damage to the Gulf coast and its waters had been done.

This earth is the only one we have and we have to take care of it.  Always remember….

Let’s make it a requirement….

Protect The Environment!

*Copyright 2010 Harkins Safety  B-270



A Message About Tool Safety And Using The Correct Tool

Tools of the Trade

A brilliant craftsman, possessed of a singular ability never matched before or since, produced the world’s most sought after musical instruments. Can you guess his name? Here’s a hint: he created his musical masterpieces over 300 years ago!

He is the maker of the famed Stradivarius violins, Antonio Stradivari.  But do you know what made Stradivari the master craftsman of the ages?

Maybe it was his training.  Born in Cremona, Italy, he apprenticed with noted instrument maker Nicolo Amati.  As a testament to his skill, Stradivari was permitted to make instruments under his own label while still a student.

Or perhaps it was the wood Stradivari chose for his instruments.  It is said that he scoured the forests for the perfect tree with the right look and feel and most important the right tone when the master tapped it while listening with his discerning ear.

Or maybe it was the tools he used that made Stradivari the best.  As a European Master, Stradivari used only hand tools-a dizzying variety of chisels, gouges, planes, knives, saws and scrapers in precisely graduated sizes. Some remove large curls of wood as the craftsman rough-cuts and shaves, while others slice away the smallest slivers in precise carving actions.  Again and again, Stradivari would “tap tune” the instrument and select the right tool to remove tiny sections of wood until the tone was perfect.

The tools themselves are works of art, their handles worn by the master’s grasp over a lifetime of dedication. They are preserved to this day in the Stradivarian Museum in Cremona, Italy.

Of course the tools that we use in our daily work may not be the implements of the artisan, but they are no less important to getting the job done. That’s why we should always treat them with respect, using them only for their intended application. We should always keep them well maintained and in good working order. Doing so ensures our safety and the effectiveness of the tool itself, a win-win situation that makes our work easier.

While the work of master Stradivari remains a mystery- no one knows for certain why his violins produce the sweetest music-one thing is sure.  The tools we use save time and effort, but they do presents hazards.  Using them properly helps secure our safety, so that at the end of the day, we can leave work whistling a carefree tune.

Choose the Right Tool….

Use it the Right Way

*Copyright 2008 Harkins Safety  B-232



A Message About Emergency Preparedness

Be Prepared

It’s as American as apple pie.  A rite of passage for thousands of boys and girls and a source of pride for every parent.  It’s scouting.

You probably know the Boy Scout’s motto.  You may even know that scouting began in the U.S. in 1910.  But do you know why scouting was developed?

It’s a fascinating part of the scouting story.  In the early 1900s, with the Industrial Revolution, thousands migrated from rural areas to our nation’s cities.  This change brought concerns that young people, men in particular, were no longer learning patriotism, individualism and self-reliance—important values of American life.

In 1909, Chicago publisher W.D. Boyce while visiting London, England learned about scouting, which began in Britain around 1907.  Impressed with the idea, upon his return, Boyce started the Boy Scouts of America.

The aims of scouting remain to this day: character development, citizenship training and personal fitness.  Out of these values come the familiar Boy Scout’s motto—Be Prepared.

Scouting grew at a stunning pace.  Today there are 2,938,698 youth who are scouts, 1,146,130 leaders and 122,582 scouting units, which are Scouting organizations sponsored by a community, across the country.

Scouts earn merit badges in virtually every endeavor imaginable, from archery to fishing, wilderness survival to motor boating. They want to learn as much as they can so that, regardless of the situation, they will always be prepared.

Being prepared is good for us too.  If there were ever a fire, an explosion, a flood or even a terrorist attack, it would be invaluable—and possibly even lifesaving –for each and every one of us to be prepared.

And the best way to do that is to know our emergency plan inside and out.  Know where fire extinguishers are, for example.  Know the evacuation routes.  Know the proper emergency response authorities to contact, if necessary.  It’s important.  Because you never know when an emergency might strike.

If you have kids in Scouting, or if you were a Scout yourself, you know that Scouts pledge to “do a good turn daily.” Why not take a page from the Scouting manual and pledge to learn more about safety and emergency preparedness each day. It’s a good policy.  And should an emergency occur, you stay safe because you are prepared and know the right actions to take.



*Copyright 2008 Harkins Safety B-227


A Message About Attitude and Accident Prevention

The Family Business

Imagine a family business that was founded by an idealistic artisan, twice refused huge grants from the federal government and may never complete its one and only project.  Here’s their fascinating story.

In 1948, sculptor Korczak Ziolkowski received a letter from Chief Henry Standing Bear. The letter asked Ziolkowski, who worked on Mount Rushmore, to create a statue of Chief Crazy Horse, a famed Lakota warrior.

Ziolkowski, a self-taught sculptor, accepted the challenge.  He moved his wife and ten children from Connecticut to the Black Hills of South Dakota. Together they built a log cabin at the foot of Thunderhead Mountain, the structure out of which the stature would be carved. The family then built a 741-step wooden staircase to the top of the mountain and Ziolkowski inserted four sticks of dynamite.  Those 10 tons of granite would be the first of millions to come.

As work continued, he twice refused $10 million grants from the federal government because he feared that taking the money would interfere with his goal of creating a cultural memorial that honors all North American Indians.

The monument has been in progress for over 60 years and is still far from completion. An amazing 8.5 million tons of granite having been removed so far.

When completed, the statue will show Crazy Horse atop his steed with his outstretched arm pointing to the horizon.  It will be fully three-dimensional, sculpted entirely out of the mountain.  It will be so large that Mount Rushmore will fit on Crazy Horse’s arm.  A five-room house will fit inside the nostril of the warrior’s horse.  It will be taller than the Washington Monument and nearly twice as big as the Statue of Liberty.

It is truly a monumental project. While we probably wouldn’t go to these lengths even for a family business, it’s still good to reflect on how important our families are to our jobs and our happiness. That’s why it’s vital to work safely every day.  We have to remember that we’re not just working for ourselves, but for our families who love and depend on us.  In fact, our families are the reason why we work so hard every day.

Today, Ziolkowski’s family continues the work.  They now own Thunderhead Mountain and the 328 acres on which it sits. They still live at its base.  With drills, dynamite and determination, they are committed to making Ziolkowski’s vision a reality, no matter how difficult it is and no matter how long it takes.

Work Safely

Do it for you

Do it for your family

*Copyright 2008 Harkins Safety B-228


A Message About Teamwork

A Monumental Task

Did you know that the four huge statues of presidents carved out of granite at Mt. Rushmore took 14 years to create and in that time, not one occupational fatality occurred?

The spectacular 60-foot-high granite faces of Presidents Washington, Jefferson, Teddy Roosevelt and Lincoln were blasted out of the top of a mountain that is 1,000 feet long and 400 feet high.  The project started in 1927 and was finished in 1941. The amazing monument cost less than $1 million to create and was paid for by donations and grants from Congress.

The huge monument at Mt. Rushmore grew out of the vision of one man and came into being because he insisted on superb workmanship, safe working conditions and above all, teamwork.

Guton Borglum, the talented sculptor, worked from a plaster model he created in a studio at the site.  He carefully calculated distance between key points on his model, then transferred his measurements to the face of the mountain at a ratio of 12 to 1. Borglum showed his drillers precisely where to drill the holes for carefully measured dynamite charges.  After most of the workman had gone home he blasted the excess stone into the valley below.

Even though the safety equipment was crude in those days, no one was killed on this project.  This was a considerable achievement when compared to the 11 fatalities on the Golden Gate Bridge and 14 on the Empire State Building.  The credit goes to teamwork.

Whether the project is large or small, teamwork is essential.

Communication is key.  You need to know who’s doing what job and when and how they’re doing it.  Stay aware of your coworkers and stay in touch.

Pull together.  We all depend on others to help us get the job done.  Work with your coworkers.  Let them know you’re a team and you’ll be able to count on them when you need some help. Work for the good of the whole crew.

Teamwork—Working Together For Safety

*Copyright 2002 Harkins Safety B152


A Message About Safety, Quality and Productivity

It’s Up to Me!

“If it’s going to be, it’s up to me,” says Robert Schuller, motivational author and one of America’s most beloved ministers.  He should know.  Through faith and positive thinking, he went from preaching at a drive-in to the creation of the magnificent Crystal Cathedral.

Schuller knew all his life that he wanted to be a minister.  In 1950 he fulfilled that dream when the Reformed Church of America ordained him.

As minister of the Ivanhoe Reformed Church in Chicago, Schuller grew the congregation from 30 to 500.  But his dream was “to build a great church for God, a church that would change and save lives, a church dedicated to the creed, ‘Find a need and fill it, find a hurt and heal it’.”

So in 1955, with his wife and just $500 in his pocket, Dr. Schuller went to Garden Grove, California.  He rented the Orange Drive-In Theater and conducted Sunday services from the roof of the snack bar. He believed he would achieve his dream and he did. The Crystal Cathedral opened 25 years later in 1980.  With over 12,000 panes of glass and a sparkling contemporary bell tower, the Crystal Cathedral is an Orange County landmark visible for miles around-proof that Schuller’s positive thinking works.

Through positive thinking, Dr. Schuller was able to take responsibility for his life and create an ideal environment for his work.  Positive thinking has a role in safety too.  Every day on the job, we have the same opportunity to create a workplace that’s safe.  Positive thinking is really about making yourself an agent for your own safety.  When you keep safety in mind you are empowered to make all of your actions safe ones.

Leave nothing to chance when it comes to safety. Wear the protective gear that’s required for your job, read labels and SDSs, follow lock-out/tag-out procedures keep tools and equipment in good working order.  Always adhere to the safety guidelines for your particular job. If you have a question about a job or a suggestion, talk to your supervisor.

Quality and Productivity are also part of your job.  When you approach work with a positive attitude the quality of your work also improves.

When you follow safety procedures, produce quality work and use your time on-the-job efficiently you take an important positive step–one that increases safety, quality and productivity.

Safety, Quality, Productivity…

It’s Up To Me!

*Copyright 2004 Harkins Safety B184


A Message About Accident Prevention, Attitude & Safety Meetings

The Power of the Word

Some of the most timeless words ever uttered in a speech by an American president were inspired by a poem with an illustrious history of its own.

In Hollywood in the 1940s, movie stars came to Kathryn Kay for the poems she wrote for special occasions.  One day, the wife of Hobart Bosworth, a well-known movie star, bought a copy of Kay’s book If the Shoe Fits and immediately fell in love with the patriotic poem Thanksgiving Prayer.

The poem was read on the radio by Mrs. Bosworth’s famous husband on Thanksgiving Day, 1941.  The occasion was the 150th anniversary of the State of New Jersey’s ratification of the Bill of Rights.

Later Mrs. Bosworth personally presented a framed copy of the poem to President and Mrs. Franklin D. Roosevelt in appreciation of Eleanor Roosevelt’s tireless efforts to promote the cultural arts.

The Bosworth’s also had the poem cast in a bronze plaque, which was to be presented at a Southern California Bill of Rights commemoration on December 7, 1941. But early that morning the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor.

Years later, after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, Kathryn Kay got a call from Washington lobbyist Charles Siems.  He said President Kennedy had heard the 1941 radio broadcast of the poem upon his graduation from Harvard and was greatly moved by it, especially the final line: “God, help me make America as proud that I am hers—as I am proud and grateful she is mine.” Some 20 years later, that sentiment surfaced in Kennedy’s mind. He expressed it in some of the most memorable words ever uttered in one of the most famous speeches in American history: “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.”

Just as President’s Kennedy’s words held the power to inspire a nation, there’s one word that should inspire you because your happiness and your livelihood depend on it.  That word is “safety.”

A Word to the Wise: Safety

* Copyright 2002 Harkins Safety (B158)


A Message About Safety Rules & Accident Prevention

Comets and You

A brilliant comet appeared over England in the spring of 1682.  Edmund Halley, a young and respected English astronomer suspected that this comet was not a new one and searched primitive records of stars and planets to prove it.  In 1705 Halley predicted, by combining Newton’s newly formulated laws of motion and old records kept over centuries that the comet seen in 1531, 1607 and 1682 would return in 1758. Halley calculated that the comet had been appearing about every 75 years.  The next appearance will be around 2061.

Slowly the scientific community accepted the Newton/Halley reasoning but neither man lived to see the prediction finally proved on Christmas Day, 1758.

When Halley’s Comet last approached the Earth in 1986, the United States and Russia each sent spacecraft to probe in and around it.  When we saw the footage from these probes on television, we were fascinated.

The reaction to comets in ancient times was quite different.  Then astrologers and royal advisors rushed to provide whatever predictions would please their masters.  Common folk hid their children and valuables, in fear of destruction by the “demon” in the sky.  By combining old records with new principles, Edmund Halley took the superstition out of comets.

Similarly, safety rules and procedures are your tools to demystify accidents. Safety rules and procedures work because they’re based on experience and research. Studies on how others have been injured in the past are designed to prevent a reoccurrence.  An accident is not a random occurrence anymore than a comet is a demon in the sky.

Sound thinking about your safety will convince you that you should know and use all the tools important to your job.  Including safety rules and safe procedures. With continual practice, they too will become part of your job.

Chances of disaster from a comet striking the earth are about fifteen million to one. You improve your chances of avoiding serious injury every day when you know and follow safe procedure.  Remember


  • Copyright 1999 Harkins Safety (B113)