A Safety Message About Fire Safety

Everybody’s Job

Did you know that since the days of the bucket brigade and the horse-drawn fire wagons a whole industry has developed to make sophisticated equipment to detect and fight fires? We’ve come a long way since the Chicago fire of 1878, considered the greatest disaster of the 19th century.

Here’s what happened. After a long dry spell, high winds fanned a small fire into a raging inferno that caught the city of Chicago completely by surprise.

The city had only 200 firefighters, 17 fire engines and 18 ladder trucks. With this equipment, they had to protect 651 miles of wooden sidewalks and 60,000 buildings, most of which were wood as well. It was a huge task.

The fire soon raged out of control, rampaging across a city of 350,000 terrified residents. The 34-hour calamity took the lives of 250 people, destroyed 18,000 buildings and left 90,000 people homeless.

Incredibly, that very same day, a massive forest fire roared out of control in eastern Wisconsin, wiping out the town of Peshtigo. Some 1,500 residents died and 4 million acres of prairie land were destroyed.

These and other tragic fires led to new products, new building codes and a new industry dedicated to detection and prevention.

Today we have sophisticated systems with heat sensors, smoke detectors, voice evacuation systems and other devices to protect hotels, office towers and other buildings. Specially designed fire suppression systems have halon gas to extinguish fires without damaging vulnerable computer centers, telephone switching equipment and other sensitive devices.

But this technology doesn’t mean we can let down our guard. We still need to rely on one of the best fire prevention systems ever-alert workers who look for and report fire hazards. Always remember to…

*Practice good housekeeping and store flammable materials a safe distance from heating equipment or electrical units.

*Inspect and maintain electrical equipment properly.

*Take care in handling flammable material.

*Eliminate careless smoking, oily rags, static electricity, grease, and other substances that can cause fires.

To prevent fires, you need to make sure your work area is clear of hazards. Any fire can easily lead to a tragedy and any activity that is a fire risk requires special precautions. Be aware of the dangers around you, report anything you think could lead to a fire and remember attention is prevention.


*Copyright 2006 Harkins Safety  B219


A Safety Message About Fire Safety

Smoke Jumpers

Can you think of a reason why anybody would want to parachute right into the middle of a raging forest fire? Most of us couldn’t.

But for the brave men and women, who work as smokejumpers, skydiving into forest fires is their job-and what’s more, they can’t wait for their next call!

It’s true. Highly trained and experienced, smokejumpers parachute into forest fires as self-sufficient firefighters who can arrive on the scene to provide a quick initial attack on the fire in rugged terrain. Fire-fighting tools, food and water are also dropped by parachute, allowing the smokejumpers to fight fires on their own for up to 48 hours at a stretch.

The smokejumper program began in 1939 as an experiment in the Pacific Northwest and the first fire jump took place in Idaho’s Nez Perce National Forest in 1940. The first woman in the program completed her training in 1981.

Smokejumpers travel all over the country to fight fires and more than 270 smokejumpers work from Forest Service bases located in Idaho, California, Montana, Washington and Oregon.

As you can imagine, smokejumping is extremely hazardous. These highly trained professional must be in tip-top physical condition and must be experts in the specialized field of woodland firefighting.

While the demands on us aren’t as great as those for a smokejumper, we need to take fire every bit as seriously as they do. It’s vital that we always stay alert to possible fire-starters, such as solvents, electricity, mechanical equipment and even clutter in our work areas. And if a fire should occur, make sure you know the right action to take, including the location and proper use of fire extinguishers.

Despite their experience, smokejumpers never let up on their training. They constantly practice the basics, such as aircraft exiting procedures, parachute maneuvering, parachute- landing rolls, cargo retrieval and tree climbing. Some training sites even have virtual training simulators for real-life on the ground practice.

We shouldn’t let up on our training either. A hazard that’s overlooked due to inattention or a fire that rages out of control because someone didn’t take the time to learn the proper procedure can have devastating consequences-including the worst consequences of all, loss of life. Instead, when it comes to fire, we must always stay alert and stay informed to stay safe.


*Copyright 2008 Harkins Safety  B234

A Safety Message About Fire Prevention And Fire Safety

Don’t Get Burned

House fires injure or kill thousands each year. If a house fire happens to you, it’s critical to know what to do and to act fast. Here’s some potentially life-saving information.

In a serious house fire, you may have as little as five minutes to escape and survive. A manufacturer of home safety products has done extensive research on what happens when a home catches on fire. Some of the findings may surprise you.

For example, you can’t count on the smell of smoke to wake you if you are asleep. In fact, toxic fumes from a fire are more likely to put you into an even deeper sleep. The family dog has a much more sensitive smell than humans, but even that warning system might not work. The truth is, there’s no substitute for a system of well- maintained smoke detectors throughout the house.

Fire inside a house tends to be black, not bright red or orange as it would be outdoors where the fire can get plenty of oxygen. This means it will be difficult to see when you’re trying to escape. Depending on the fire’s source of fuel, a house can become an inferno in a matter of minutes.

More than 35,000 people are killed or injured in house fires each year. Your chances of surviving are double if you have a smoke detector on every floor. If the alarm sounds, get out fast and call the fire department from a neighbor’s house. Whatever you do, don’t go back in. Many are killed when they go back into the house to retrieve treasured objects.

At home and at work, the best plan is to stop fires before they start. On the job, stay aware, look for and report any hazards that might cause a fire. Good housekeeping is essential too. Be sure to dispose of oily rags, paper or scraps of wood. Trash, sawdust or almost any collection of waste can be a dangerous source of fuel for a fire. Also, carefully check to make sure that flammables are safely stored away from ant heat source. Don’t put off regular inspections of smoke detectors, heating units, wiring and fire extinguishers. Make sure you know where the fire extinguishers are kept and how to use them. If you do, you can stop a small fire from turning into a major disaster.

True, a good warning system is important to guard against fire, but the best protection is prevention and that means no fire at all.


*Copyright Harkins Safety 2008   B249


A Safety Message About Safety Rules And Procedures


It’s not only brilliant; but it’s also the subject of the most folklore beginning with the Ancient Greeks and continuing to this very day. Sirius, the brightest star in the sky, is also one of the closest stars to the sun-a mere 8.6 light-years away.  It’s not just one star. Sirius is a binary star-two stars so close together that they look like one.

Apart from its astronomical qualities, though Sirius has long been the subject of myth and folklore. Sirius is called the Dog Star because it is the most vivid star in the constellation Canis Major, the Great Dog constellation.  The Ancient Greeks believed that Sirius heralded the hot and dry summer-known as the Dog Days of summer.

Because of its intense radiance, the Ancient Greeks thought Sirius was sending out rays or “emanations” that caused people to act strangely. Those suffering from its effects were said to be “star struck.”

The Greeks of the island of Ceos offered sacrifices to Sirius to bring cooling breezes. They awaited the appearance of the star in the summer. If the star looked clear, they believed good fortune was coming. But if it looked misty of faint, they feared pestilence in their crops.

The Ancient Romans also honored Sirius. They celebrated its setting on April 25th with the sacrifice of a dog to the goddess Robigo so that the star’s rays would not harm the wheat crop.

Even today the star is still capturing our imaginations. Author J.K. Rowling, creator of the famed Harry Potter stories, gave Harry’s godfather the name Sirius and the animal form he changes into is a big black dog. Today of course astronomers and scientists see these legends as quaint artifacts from the past. We don’t deal in myths and superstitions. That’s especially true when it comes to safety on the job.

Safety professionals create specific rules and procedures to keep us out of harm’s way. It’s up to us to follow them and to take personal responsibility for staying alert on the job all day, every day. That’s how we create a culture of safety company wide that helps ensure the well-being of every worker. There’s nothing mysterious about it.

While the folklore of Sirius is fun to explore, when it comes to safety we’re all business. Serious about safety is just plain smart.



A Message About Keeping Mind On Task And Accident Prevention

The Mind Of A Ninja

When you think of the ninja, you probably think of martial arts fury. But there’s something else about ninjas, it’s their steely mental focus. Yes, the ninja’s mind power is legendary, but where does this power come from?

The art of the ninja is called ninjutsu—a discipline that was developed 1,100 years ago on the Japanese island of Honshu. Ninjutsu involves martial arts training, of course, but even more important is training in mind power.

Ninjas get their mental focus from an esoteric mediation practice called Kuji Kiri or the Nine Hand Seals. When ninjas meditate, they don’t just wile away the time contemplating their navels. First they quiet their minds. Then enter into a deep state of deep relaxation and then they begin.

As they mediate, they make a series of symbolic hand gestures by crossing their fingers over one another in specific patterns. There are nine patterns in all. Each one serves to focus the ninja’s mind. The first hand position for example, focuses the ninja on developing strength in body and mind. The second one helps focus on directing the energy flow within the body. The third hand position directs the mind to complete awareness of the universe. And so on.

With this special form of meditation, ninjas focus their minds like laser beams. They are completely focused. Because they are so focused, their actions become powerful.

Attention. Focus. Mind power. That’s what we want on the job. No, you don’t have the discipline of a ninja, but you can make up your mind right now to approach every task with complete attention to safety.

You can start by taking a moment to focus your mind before you start a task to think about possible hazards and how to avoid them. Then as you are working remind yourself over and over to keep your mind on what you’re doing. If you face a situation that might be a safety risk, remember to stop and think. Simply acting out of instinct or reflex can leave you open to injury.

Your level of attention during your shift determines whether you’ll go home at the end of the day or get sidelined with an injury. Don’t lose your focus. Don’t let frustrations get the better of you. Stay in control. Stay on top of your game. Stay aware and you’ll stay safe.


Your Job Demands It, Your Safety Depends On It!

*Copyright 2011 Harkins Safety  B277

A Message About Teamwork, Safety Hazards, Safety Rules

Team Up!

Football is all about long-bomb passes, amazing kick returns, and bone-crunching hits.  But what really makes football the great game it is?

Simple. Teamwork.

When a football team takes position on the line of scrimmage, every player has his job.  Each player also knows-the more they work together, the more they win.

Take just one play, the flea flicker. It’s a surprise play that’s tough to pull off because it demands precise teamwork.  Here’s how it’s set up.  There are two guards on either side of the center.  There are two tackles on either side of the guards.  On the right is the tight end.  Further out, there are left and right wide receivers.

At the snap, the guards, tackles and center plow into the opposing team’s defense.  The wide receivers sprint downfield. The quarterback drops back as he throws a lateral to the halfback behind him.  This tricks the other team into thinking it’s a running play.

But then the halfback laterals back to the quarterback, who has just bought himself lots of time.  He looks downfield. He can hit either wide receiver. He can hit the halfback, who’s now running downfield.  He can even hit the fullback who’s rolling out to his left. Picking his target, the quarterback launches his pass.

It’s a brilliantly coordinated effort among many toward one goal-winning.  That makes it a lot like safety on the job.

You have a team of coworkers and you depend on them just as they depend on you.  So here’s what you do.

Huddle Up. Meet with your coworkers beforehand and discuss how you’re going to approach the job with maximum safety.  Communication is key.

Choose your play.  Review the potential hazards and safety rules and regulations.  Then decide on the safest way to go.

Execute. Follow your plan without shortcuts or risk-taking.  Do your part, do your best and watch out for your team members.

That’s what it takes to win.  Team players know it. That’s why New York Giants QB Phil Simms ran a flea flicker against the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XXI.  He trusted his team and they scored a touchdown on the very next play.

On the field or on the job, teamwork makes the difference.  Don’t be a lone wolf, don’t be a risk taker and don’t be a superstar. Why risk it? Your safety is too important to you, your family and your company.  Instead, always remember…


Work Together, Win Together!

*Copyright 2010 Harkins Safety  B271

A Message About Incident, Accident Prevention

Right Person, Right Place

Have you ever wondered if you would know what to do if you found yourself right in the middle of a life-threatening accident scene? Gary Myers, the captain of a 54-foot charter fishing boat, was one of the three boaters who knew what to do and just happened to be in the right place at the right time.

Here’s the story. Gary was deep sea fishing in the Gulf stream about 40 miles off the North Carolina coast when he first noticed the Navy F-14 Tomcat. “It looked like the pilot was diving and doing a barrel roll and I just started watching,” Meyers said. “Then it looked like the plane went into a flat spin and about that time I saw two men eject.”

The aviators, members of Fighter Squadron 102, based at Oceana Naval Air Station in Virginia Beach, Virginia, were practicing dogfight maneuvers as part of a routine training mission.

The $30 million fighter plane was still in one piece when Myers saw it hit the water about three miles from his boat. The small boat operators reacted quickly. The commercial fisherman and the pleasure boat operator were the first to reach the two Navy fliers and pulled them out of the water almost immediately. The two fliers were transferred to Myers’ larger boat so they could be airlifted to a Navy hospital by helicopter.

Later the pilot said the fishermen were a welcome sight. If the three small boats had not been in the right place, or if Myers, the fisherman or the pleasure boat operator had failed to take swift action, the two Navy men might well have been lost in the Atlantic.

Safety on land, at sea and in the air requires every individual to take responsibility for his or her own safety and the safety of others. If we know how to work safely, follow the rules and look out for each other, we can make our work place an injury free environment.

The Navy pilot and his crewman were rescued because they followed their own safety procedures and others were close by who knew what to do. Take your safety training, work rules and your personal protective equipment seriously. You can stay incident-free if you follow standard practices and use your safety know-how every day.

The best way to avoid the pain and suffering of an injury is to remember that safety depends on you. Only you can do your job the safe way. Follow all safe work procedures that apply to your job. Observe all safety rules. Keep alert to avoid hazards at work, at home and on the road.


It’s Your Responsibility

*Copyright 2005 Harkins Safety B197


A Message About Preventing Strains, Sprains and Safe Lifting

Weigh In On Safety

Can you think of an athletic contest that requires participants to compete barefoot, naked to the waist and begins with a ritual of pounding the floor, tossing salt and a staring match? While the sport is not well-known in North America, the highly specialized form of Japanese Sumo wrestling uses all of these characteristics as part of a pre-match ritual.

The most notable feature of sumo wrestlers is their weight.  The average champion weighs about 360 pounds, but a few weigh as much as 600.  To achieve this great weight they intentionally eat great quantities of food and practice a form of abdominal development.

Each sumo contest begins with an opening ceremony.  Two opponents enter the ring and after flexing their muscles, scatter handfuls of salt around the ring.  Then they crouch, pound the floor with their fists and engage in a staring match to try to shake their opponent’s confidence.

Their great weight gives the wrestlers a low center of gravity, which helps them propel an adversary out of the ring.  The winner is the one who can throw his opponent down or force him out of the ring. Since there are no weight categories, a smaller wrestler must rely on speed and skill to make up for any difference in size.  A combination of size and agility usually wins.

In our business, we don’t place any premium on size, but we do concentrate on working safely.  Since we can’t call a sumo wrestler to help move heavy objects, we need to use mechanical means and follow the rules for safe lifting to avoid strains. A sumo wrestler never turns his back on his opponent.  We can’t afford to turn our backs on safety. If you know how to lift, you can avoid painful back injuries.

Safe lifting starts with your legs.  The strongest muscles in your body are in your legs.  To lift safely you need to get as close to the object as you can.  Keep your back straight, bend at the knees not the waist, grasp the object with both hands and gradually straighten up.  Hold heavy objects close to your body so your arm and leg muscles do the work, not your back.  Bend at the knees and don’t twist your body when you lift.

Sumos sometimes use this same lifting posture to grasp an opponent around the waist and march him out of the ring. This takes great strength and lots of practice.  Safe lifting and avoiding strains and sprains also takes practice. Remember strains and sprains are preventable.

*Lift with your legs, not your back.

*Carry heavy loads close to your body.

*Avoid twisting.

*Work at waist level when possible, bend and reach within limits.

*Keep tools and equipment in proper working order.

*Watch where you walk.  Make sure your route is clear of tripping hazards.

*Stretch daily to increase flexibility

Stay Aware Strains & Sprains can Happen Anywhere

*Copyright 2003 Harkins Safety B166


A Message About Electrical Safety, Lock Out Tag Out, Choose The Right Tool

A Shocking Undersea Tale B-168

Did you know that the South American electric eel can grow to five feet long, weigh as much as 40 pounds and produce an electrical discharge that can stun a diver?

It’s a fact! The South American eel is not really an eel at all but a true fish that is related to the carp.  It has three electric organs: a small one at the tip of its tail used for navigation and another small one used as a trigger for the third blockbuster organ that produces the lightning-like discharge that kills its prey.

This strange creature, one of more than 200 species of fish, uses electricity by generating and discharging currents either in bursts or steady electric fields around its body. Depending on the species, they may use this energy to find and attack their prey, for defense or for communication and navigation.

These skates, rays, eels and other unusual denizens of the deep live and die by the effectiveness of their in-house batteries.  Scientists have discovered that sharks, porpoises and some other species have extremely sensitive electric receptors that help them detect and avoid their high- powered salt-water neighbors.

Just like the receptors that protect sharks against the South American eel, we have our own systems in place to keep electricity where it belongs.

*Always lock out and tag out. We have lock out systems that are virtually foolproof when everyone follows the proper procedure. Disregarding these systems can lead to injuries and fatalities.

*Look before you reach.  You might not see energized parts, so don’t reach into machinery.  Make sure there is adequate lightning and scan the area carefully before you put your hands there.

*Use protective shields, barriers and insulating materials.  These safety precautions can help prevent accidental contact that could result in tragedy.

*Check power tools. Don’t use power tools with broken plugs or defective insulation and always make sure tools are properly grounded before you use them.

*Watch out for water. Never use electrical equipment or tools in a wet environment without the proper protection or an insulating mat.

Electricity can strike in a flash! Beware!

You risk shock, burns, explosions and fire.

*Copyright 2003 Harkins Safety (B168)


A Message About Lifting Properly and Back Safety, Ergonomics

Power Lift

He was a big Russian bear of a man, the greatest super heavyweight power lifter of all time who used equal measures of brawn and brain to set 80 world records and 81 Soviet records, and to win two Olympic gold medals. His name was Vasily  Ivanovich Alekseyev.

Born in 1942 in the village of Pokroveo Shishkino, Russia. Alekseyev was the son of a lumberjack. At age 12, he began lifting logs for exercise and at 14 began wrestling the other lumberjacks for sport and winning.

At 19, already 6 feet tall and 198 pounds, he was introduced to weights and began lifting competitively. Nine years later, he burst into the limelight by setting four world records. He trained without a coach, devising his own strategy through trial and error. It made him a legend in lifting.

He was the first weightlifter to exceed 1,322 pounds for a three-lift total in the clean and jerk, snatch and clean and press. He was also the first to lift 500 pounds in the clean and jerk lift.

His Olympic debut at the Munich Games in 1972, Alekseyev won gold. He did so again at the Montreal Games in 1976.

“When I am ready to lift,” Alekeseyev once said ”I visualize the moment when my arms will lift straight into the air with the weight moving toward the sky.” Lifting on the job involves mind and body working together, too. Before you lift, think through the proper way to do it.

Remember always….

*Stretch gently beforehand to warm up.

*Lift or carry only what you can realistically handle.

*Lift with your legs not your back and never twist.

*Carry the load close to your body to reduce strain.

*Check with your safety supervisor for more tips.

Alekseyev reached many goals in his career bur one eluded him. 100 world records. He probably would have reached this goal too if the press, one of his best lifts, had not been eliminated from competition in 1972.

While your back may never need to endure a 500 pound power lift, it does work hard for you every day. Why not make it your goal to create a record of lifting safely? Being smart about back safety will keep your back healthy and pain free. Like Alekseyev, staying fit and lifting smart will ensure that you can stay active for years to come. Whether your event is golf, gardening or grandchildren, the way to win the gold is safety.


Keep It Healthy & Pain Free

*Copyright 2007 Harkins Safety  (B212)



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