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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)


A Message About Eye Protection and P.P.E.

The Long View

There’s nothing unusual about a telescope.  They’re in observatories and backyards across the country.  But a telescope in space-now, that was something to talk about.  And in the late 70s they did.  Here’s the story of the telescope in space and how it almost didn’t happen.

The Hubble Space Telescope is named after American astronomer Edwin Hubble, and its purpose is to get an up-close-and-personal look at the quasars, pixars , quarks and other lights in the sky. Because the Hubble is in space-beyond the earth’s atmosphere-it can take extremely detailed pictures with no background, giving astronomers a better look at the stars than ever before. These are the most inclusive images ever produced of some of the most distant objects in the galaxy.

The Hubble is the only telescope designed to be serviced and maintained in space.  Planned repairs and maintenance will allow it to stay in operation until at least 2013, when its successor, the James Webb Space Telescope, is set to be launched.

But the Hubble almost never happened.  The idea for a space telescope was proposed in the 1940s, and the Hubble was funded in the 1970s, but it wasn’t launched until 1990. Throughout there were technical glitches and budget problems.  In 1986, the launch of the Hubble seemed possible, but the Challenger space shuttle disaster brought the space program to a screeching halt. When the Hubble finally was launched, scientists found that its mirror had been ground incorrectly-a problem fixed by an in-space servicing mission in 1993.  Had the problems not been overcome, the world would never have seen the incredible images the Hubble telescope has produced.

Are you letting “problems” with PPE stop you from protecting your precious eyesight on the job? Most eye injuries occur because workers aren’t aware of potential hazards, don’t use protective eye wear, or use the wrong type. Flying chips or particles, electrical arcing or sparks, chemical gases, light from welding and other harmful sources, chemicals, molten metals, dusts and swinging objects. They are all hazards that require protection.

So, first know which is the right eye protection for the job you are doing and the hazards you will encounter.  If you wear prescription glasses, make sure your protective eye wear fits properly over them.  Second, inspect your PPE before each use.  To be effective, it must be in good condition and fit well.   Third, keep your protective eye wear clean and store it properly.

Remember, take the long view and protect your eyesight for a lifetime of amazing and awe-inspiring sights.


*Copyright 2008 Harkins Safety B-247



A Message About Hearing Protection and P.P.E.

Symphony of Silence

“My noblest faculty has greatly deteriorated.”

“How sad is my lot, I must avoid all things dear to me.”

“I am resolved to rise above every obstacle, but how will it be possible.”

That is what the great composer Beethoven wrote to his close friends when his deafness became more and more inevitable.

“For two years, I have avoided almost all social gatherings.  Often I can scarcely hear someone speaking, the tones yes but not the words.”

As a composer who devoted his life to music, Beethoven tried to keep his affliction a secret. He tried all kinds of remedies-hot baths, cold baths, almond oil, tonics.  Nothing helped.  Unfortunately in Beethoven’s time, no hearing specialist existed. The doctors could only guess as to what was causing the ailment.

Beethoven died in 1827, having lived most of his life in either partial or complete deafness.  Was deafness caused by syphilis, common at that time; was it caused by a virus; or was it caused by the loudness of the music he surrounded himself with? The doctors didn’t know.

Today we know a lot more about deafness.  We know that exposure to loud noise over time can harm your hearing.  Don’t take a chance.  Always wear the right hearing protection every time you must enter or work in a noisy environment.

Improvised hearing protection doesn’t work.  Putting cotton in your ears or wearing headphones won’t protect you from noise.  You need to use approved hearing protection.

The type of hearing protection you use depends on the level of noise exposure.  Earmuffs give you the greatest protection available from excessive noise.  Another choice is earplugs.  They seal the ear canal and come in a variety of sizes. Yet another choice is canal caps. These are soft pads on a headband and they seal the entrance to the ear canal.  Make sure you use the proper hearing protection and make sure you get a good fit for maximum protection.

Noise destroys your ability to enjoy the wonderful sounds of life.  Beethoven suffered from long periods of horrible depression because of his deafness.  Even though he gave the world some of its most beloved music, he was dejected and miserable for most of his life.  Don’t risk your hearing.  The simple act of using the right hearing protection on the job will ensure that you can hear all that life has to offer for many years to come.



*Copyright 2005 Harkins Safety B-203


A Message About Respirator Safety and Personal Protective Gear (PPE)

Free Diving

Take a deep breath.  Now hold it as long as you can underwater.  That’s the essence of free diving.  It’s one of the new breed of extreme sports—filled with challenges and dangers.  But this extreme sport is actually over 2,000 years old.

The pearl divers of ancient Japan would dive underwater to great depths for minutes on end searching for pearls.  Ama divers, as they were called, didn’t have the benefits of scuba tanks, so they trained their bodies and minds to go for long periods without breath.

Free divers today do much the same.  As a modern competitive sport, free diving is the invention of the Bottom Scratchers, a dive club in San Diego that started in the 30s.  But what’s really fascinating is the variety of free diving competitions.

There’s underwater rugby, hockey and spear fishing, even synchronized underwater swimming and so-called mermaid shows.  The premier free diving sport, though is breath-hold diving .  In this sport, highly trained competitors attempt great depths on a single breath.

These elite athletes train their bodies to adapt.  The pulse rate drops.  Blood vessels shrink as blood rushes to the heart and lungs. And the spleen releases oxygen rich red blood cells.  Free divers start with a one-minute breath hold while at rest and progress to holding the breath while walking. Gradually they test themselves underwater at greater and greater depths.  The body is a marvel of adaptation and free divers make use of that in their training.

While training may help divers increase lung capacity, no amount of physical training can protect your lungs from the chemicals, dust particles and other hazardous inhalants that we might encounter on the job. That’s why it is crucial to choose the right respirator when one is called for, make sure it fits properly, and be sure to store it properly for optimum protection.

Workers sometimes make the mistake of going without a respirator, thinking that they will be able to smell airborne hazards. But the fact is, many dangerous and even deadly chemicals are odorless.  If you think that your nose always knows, you might make a tragic mistake.

Why take the risk?  Let’s leave life threatening exploits to the daredevils. On the job, our priority is safety and that means using a respirator.  Arguing otherwise is just wasting your breath.

Save Your Breath…

Keep Your Respirator Ready!

*Copyright 2008   Harkins Safety  (B-241)


A Message About Machine Guards, Lock Out – Tag Out and PPE

Pack A Punch

Muhammed Ali, Joe Frazer, October 1, 1975.  The Philippine Coliseum. It was the greatest fight of all time.  It was the Thrilla in Manilla.

Ali had been taunting Frazer and calling him names.  Each had defeated the other once before, Frazer winning in 1971 and Ali in 1973.  They were angry. By 10:45 a.m., 28,000 spectators had filled the Coliseum and the battle was on.

Ali came out flat-footed, no dancing, confident of victory. He swung powerfully, and Frazer’s legs buckled three times in the first round.  By the third round, Frazer was twice badly shaken, his head snapping back from Ali’s long lefts.

But in the fourth, Frazer seemed to find his range.  He pummeled Ali.  Ali spent the fifth round in his own corner taking Frazer’s body shots.  By the sixth, Frazer was in close, pounding Ali’s body and unleashing his left hook on Ali’s head.  Two of them caught Ali’s jaw, staggering him.  Frazer beat on Ali for four more rounds.  At the end of the tenth, they were even.  Then in the eleventh, Frazer blasted Ali with blow after blow.  It looked like the end.

But Ali dug down.  He tagged Frazer with long right punches until blood trickled from Frazer’s mouth and bumps rose above his eyes. He sent Frazer’s mouthpiece flying in the thirteenth and nearly KO’ed him with a snapping right.  In the fourteenth, Ali delivered nine straight right punches to Frazer’s head.  When the bell sounded for the fifteenth Frazer didn’t answer.  His manager told him, “Sit down, son. It’s all over. No one will ever forget what you did here today.”

Ali had retained his title and won the toughest fight of his life.  “It was like death,” he said. “The closest thing to dying that I know of.”

Professional boxers know never to let their guard down.  On the job, you need to do the same; an unguarded moment can result in an injury.  That’s why, when you’re working with machines, you need to be extra cautious.  They pack a punch, here’s how to block it:

*Always use machine guards, and never reach over or around them.

*Never reach blindly into a machine-you could reach an energized part.

*Keep watches, belts, necklaces and other conductive items away from machinery.

*Always wear the right PPE.

*Perform frequent safety checks.

*Lock out/tag out for repairs or maintenance.

*Stay alert-a deadly punch can come out of nowhere.

Machines Can Pack a Punch

*Copyright 2004  Harkins Safety (B-180)


A Message About Electrical Safety – Lock Out Tag Out

Lock It Out

When electricity was in its infancy, a battle between inventors forever changed the way we use our most popular power source.  Here’s the story.

In 1882, all the electricity in the country was supplied by direct current, thanks to the inventiveness and industriousness of Thomas Edison.  Then in 1884 Edison hired the brilliant Croatian scientist, inventor and theoretician Nikola Tesla to sort out the problems with the DC system.  Tesla saved Edison $100,000, -over $1 million by today’s standards.  However, the scientists had a falling out.

Tesla left Edison’s company and went on to invent a better system, alternating current and eventually signed a contract with George Westinghouse.  AC offered several advantages.  For example, it could be stepped up and transmitted over long distances on thin wires, while DC required a large power plant every square mile and very thick cables.

Because Edison was heavily invested in direct current, he attempted to discredit Tesla. Edison staged “experiments” involving animal electrocution to try to show that Tesla’s system was dangerous.  Tesla retaliated with his own demonstrations to show that alternating current was controllable. He used his invention, the Tesla Coil, to generate huge lightning bolts to the amazement of his supporters.

In the end, AC won out, and Tesla was vindicated.  He also realized his dream of bringing affordable, abundant electric power to homes and businesss through- out the country.  Although they did not agree on the merits of AC versus DC, both Tesla and Edison knew that electricity is a powerful force to be used only with great caution and respect.  The same holds true today.

*When you follow lock-out and tag out each and every time machinery is shut down for repair or maintenance.

*Before starting work on an engine, motor, lathe, saw or any power driven equipment, take all of the steps required to neutralize the power sources.

*Place locks and warning tags on all switch boxes, valves and controls.

*Clearly print complete information on the tag so that others know when, where and why the equipment was locked out.

Short-Circuit An Accident…Always Lock Out and Tag Out

* Copyright 2002 Harkins Safety (B-155)


A Message About Electrical Safety

An Idea Strikes

Have you ever watched lightning during a storm and wondered about its power? If so, you’ve embarked on the same scientific exploration that propelled Ben Franklin more than 200 years ago.  Franklin was so enthralled with electricity that its study was his lifelong hobby.

In fact, it was Franklin who invented the lightning rod. In one of his experiments, he observed that a sharp iron needle would conduct electricity away from a charged metal sphere.  He further theorized that lightning might be drawn away from buildings by elevating an iron rod grounded to the earth and the lightning rod was born.

But Ben didn’t stop there.  He later had a theory that lightning was actually electricity.  In June of 1752, he grew impatient waiting for the steeple on top of Christ’s Church to be completed for his experiment.  The steeple would act as a lightning rod.  So he thought that a kite would be able to get as close to the storm clouds.  He tied a metal key to the kite string, and tied the string to an insulating silk ribbon for his hand.  When Franklin saw the lightning deliver its charge to the key, he knew immediately that it was a form of electricity.  And he knew its power.

Upon receiving an electrical shock during one experiment, he described it as a “   universal blow throughout my whole body from head to foot…and a violent quick shaking of my body…”

Ben took huge risks in his experiments and fortunately never received a fatal shock.  But we know that electricity is a powerful force that can injure and kill.  We have to treat it with the utmost respect.  Always check electrical equipment and power cords for damage.  Make sure electrical equipment and machinery are properly grounded.  Always lock out and tag out, it you’re the worker authorized to do so.  Check to ensure that equipment is powered down before you begin maintenance and repairs.

Franklin was obsessed with the idea of electricity.  In 1749, he described the concept of a battery in a letter to a friend, but doubted if it would ever be of use. Like Franklin, we should think about electricity too.  Not by conducting experiments but by staying aware of how to safely work with electricity. Electricity is so common that we can become too comfortable around it. That’s a mistake.  Stay alert to the very real dangers of electricity.  It’s one of our greatest allies but also one of our greatest threats.

Beware if Electricity’s There!

*Copyright 2008 Harkins Safety  B-233


A Message About Personal Protective Equipment And Preventable Accidents

Football Legends

In the late 1960s, Dick Butkus, Chicago Bears linebacker known for his bone-crunching hits and one of the famed Monsters of the Midway, was asked whether he felt regret about injuring other players.  His reply? “I would never set out to hurt anybody deliberately-unless it was, you know, something important, like a league game or something.”

Buffalo Bills defensive end Chidi Ahanatu notorious for his many quarterback sacks, opened a local restaurant and naturally called it Sacks. His teammates began razzing him. “Why did you call it Sacks?” they taunted.  It was the height of irony. Sheepishly, Chidi had to admit that he didn’t have a single sack in the season that the restaurant opened.

Bronco Nagurski, in a game against the New York Giants, was hit by opposing player Benny Friedman, who was attempting to tackle him.  Nagurski ran another eleven yards before Friedman could take him down. Friedman said, “He hits hard enough to knock down a horse.” On the very next play, Nagurski was bashing his way into the end zone with such determination that he ran straight into a mounted policeman, bowling over both horse and rider. Returning to his feet, Nagurski, slightly dazed, declared, “That last man, hit me awful hard!”

Football is a game of tough hits. That’s why professional players suit up before every game with shoulder pads, helmet and other protective equipment. They naturally want to protect themselves from injury.  Their livelihood depends on it.

Your livelihood depends on avoiding injury too. As a professional, you know that gloves, hard hats, respirators, hearing protection, safety shoes, goggles, face shields and protective clothing are your first line of defense against injury.

*Know what PPE is required for your job. Personal protective equipment is highly specialized. It’s designed to work for a particular job under specific circumstances.

*Always be sure to inspect all PPE for damage.  If it’s damaged, report it.  The equipment can’t protect you if it’s not intact.

*Make sure your protective gear fits properly. Fit is essential for respirators, ear protection and similar equipment that must seal out the hazards to protect.

They Always Use P.P.E., What About You?

* Copyright 2003 Harkins Safety B-165


A Message About PPE, Right Tool For Job, Safety Rules

Eagle Eye on Safety

There’s a very good reason people use the phrase “eagle eye” to describe someone who pays close attention to details.  It’s because eagles have phenomenal eyesight, they never miss a thing.

An eagle can spot a rabbit moving almost a full mile away.  If that’s not amazing enough, an eagle flying at an altitude of 1,000 feet over open country can spot prey over an area of almost three square miles! An eagle’s vision is so sharp that it can see fish in the water from several hundred feet above while soaring overhead.

What makes the eagle’s eyesight so acute? One reason is the fact that an eagle’s eyes have two centers of focus.  This unique dual-focus enables the eagle to see objects in front as well objects on the side at the same time. Like humans, eagles can see in color and their eyes are almost the same size as ours, but their eyesight is four times sharper than a human’s with perfect vision. The iris of an eagle’s eye is also unique; it changes over time from dark brown to a yellow very similar to the color of its beak.

Once an eagle spots his prey, he approaches in a shallow, relaxed glide.  Then in a flash, he dives, snatching the unsuspecting rabbit, rodent or fish in his powerful talons. An expert flier, the eagle can soar to altitudes of 10,000 feet and achieve speeds of 30 to 35 miles per hour.  Yet surprisingly, about 40 percent of baby eagles do not survive their first flight. Apparently, despite their natural instincts, becoming an expert hunter and flier takes practice and training.

It’s the same for you on the job.  Working safely takes practice and training, along with constant attention.

Remember, you don’t have the eagle’s sharp eyesight, but you still have to always keep a sharp eye for hazards. Attention is prevention.  Staying aware, hour after hour, day after day, is one of your best tools for preventing accidents. But that alone isn’t enough.

You have specific safety rules, defined for your work site, your job and your industry.  To stay safe, you have to learn the rules, know them and follow them. If you face a potentially unsafe situation, always ask your supervisor before you do anything.  It’s better to be safe than sorry.

Being safe also means making sure you have the right tool for the job, using the right personal protective equipment to prevent injuries and never, ever taking shortcuts.

Even though you don’t have the eagle’s ability to see in two directions at the same time, you have to act as if you have eyes in the back of your head when it comes to spotting and avoiding hazards-so YOU don’t become an endangered species.

You are Responsible, Do Your Best, Do it Safely

* Copyright 2005 Harkins Safety  B-145