Safety Training

A Message About Hand Safety And Personal Protective Equipment

The Hand-Built Hot Rod

Gleaming chrome. Beautiful custom paint. Tufted leather upholstery. If that’s your idea of a hot rod, stand back and make way for the true, original, hand-built hot rod.

It’s called a rat rod and it harkens back to the early days of hot rodding in the 40s, 50s and 60s when enthusiast had more skill than money and built their creations by themselves…by hand.

Back in those days, hot rodders would find a Model T or a Model A, strip off everything  they  could-fenders, running boards, roof, bumpers- and drop a more powerful engine. It was often a Ford Flathead V8.They’d do all the work themselves. It was about having fun, not about who spent the most money. It was about getting your hands greasy. It was about building something unique.

The rat rod movement today is dedicated to bringing back that hand-built heritage.

In a rat rod, the parts are mismatched, cribbed from a variety of vehicles. The body proudly displays its rust and battle scars. Maltese crosses and skulls sit atop gearshifts in homage to biker and rockabilly cultures. The seats are often bare metal. There’s no carpeting and certainly no luxury-car amenities like air conditioning. An old style beam axle is out front, with leaf springs all around instead of modern coils.

To the uninitiated, a rat rod looks unfinished. That’s because it is. It’s a work in progress, an expression of the owners’ ever-changing vision. It is continuously altered, revised and rebuilt. For a rat rodder, nothing tops having a wrench in your hand.

Think about that the next time you’re on the job, and you’ll realize again why hand safety is so important. You should remind yourself every day to:

*Use gloves when the job calls for it, and choose the proper ones.

*Watch out for pinch points.

*Protect your hands from chemicals and burns.

*Beware of sharp objects like banding, saw blades and edges.

It can be easy to overlook hand safety when you’re on the job and trying to get a project finished. Especially if there is a deadline to meet. But if you allow yourself even a moment of inattention, you’re vulnerable to a potential injury. Why take the chance? It’s just not worth risking damage to your hands. They’re essential tools. Just ask any rat rodder with a hand-built creation and a workbench full of wrenches.


*COPYRIGHT 2012 Harkins Safety (B279)

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A Message About Mobile Equipment Safety


The name Bob Chandler might not mean anything to you, but you probably know his creation. It’s the meanest 4×4 truck anywhere.  It’s the show-stopping monster truck Bigfoot.

It all began in the mid 1970’s. Bob Chandler, a construction contractor, used his Ford pick-up truck on the job and for recreation. But when parts broke due to hard use, he often couldn’t find sturdier replacements. That led him to open Midwest Four Wheel Drive & Performance Center.

Partly to promote his new business, Chandler set out to make his truck bigger and stronger, with huge tires and a sky high suspension lift. In 1979, the truck with its jaw-dropping rear-wheel steering, appeared at a Denver car show, its first paid event. Truck pulls in arenas and stadiums soon followed, where Bigfoot was often the star of the show.

At a truck pull in 1981, Chandler tried something just for fun. He drove his beefed up 4×4 over two junk cars. The crowd went wild. He later duplicated the stunt at a stadium show, and in 1983 he began a sponsorship with Ford Motor Company. The legend of Bigfoot was born.

Through the 80s and 90s, Bigfoot got bigger, with massive 66” tires and a 572 cubic inch engine that pumps out 1,500 horsepower and 1,300 foot/pounds of torque. In truck pulls across the country, Bigfoot is always the crowd favorite, especially with Chandler behind the wheel.

Just like the driver of a monster truck, when you’re behind the wheel or at the controls of a forklift, crane, tractor or other mobile equipment. Remember that safety depends on you. Always carry loads properly. Operate the equipment at a safe speed. Keep your view unobstructed. Most important, stay alert for pedestrians—they have the right of way. When you operate mobile equipment, safety is your responsibility, a rule that Chandler follows himself.

Whether he’s racing or doing stunts, Chandler drives to win, but he always considers safety. In 1987, he founded the Monster Truck Racing Association, created solely to promote safety in the monster truck industry. He knows what’s at stake. That’s why he always thinks safety behind the wheel. You should too.

Forklifts and other mobile equipment are great labor saving devices, but with benefits come risks. Minimize and eliminate risk by knowing the rules, by sticking to your safety plan every time you operate equipment and by making safety a driving force every day.



*Copyright 2008 Harkins Safety (B235)

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A Message About Holiday Safety, Driving & Slips, Trips And Falls

A Holiday Beauty

Did you know the poinsettia, one of America’s most colorful holiday decorations, is not technically a flower? It’s a fact. The poinsettia is an unusual plant that grows wild in Central America but got its American name from the man who brought it here from Mexico around 1830.

Since the plant normally reaches full bloom during the holiday season, it has been called the “flor de pascua”-Christmas flower by Spanish-speaking people for centuries.

The plant caught the attention of J.R. Poinsett when he was serving as U.S. Ambassador to Mexico. He packed several of the plants in his belongings and brought them to the United States when his tour of duty in Mexico ended.  An enthusiastic gardener and horticulturist, Dr. Poinsett planted this holiday beauty in his garden in Charleston, S.C. The plant flourished and was later named in his honor.

The colorful leaf-like fronds at the top of the poinsettia are not the petals of a flower but are called bracts. They surround a central cluster of tiny bead-like flowers. Since Dr. Poinsett introduced the plant, it has been grown in many parts of North America and changed dramatically by horticulturists. Florists now cultivate white, pink mottled and striped poinsettias. Even so the brilliant red of the first poinsettias remain the favorite.

The timeless beauty of the poinsettia can remind us of the true meaning of the holidays. But we should also remember that the season brings distractions and hazards that demand special safety precautions.

Be aware that hazards increase during the holidays. Poinsettias and other holiday decorations must be kept clear of fireplaces and other sources of heat. Check all decorative lights for signs of frayed cords or exposed wires, and be sure to turn them off before leaving the house or going to bed.

Watch for hazards that could lead to a slip, trip, fall or pinch. Use your on-the –job safety know-how at home to inspect indoor and outdoor decorations for defects. Dispose of used wrappings safely to prevent fire.

Practice safe driving. Driving can be especially dangerous during the holidays because of the extra traffic and extra hours of darkness. Always allow plenty of time for your trip, buckle up and adjust your speed for weather and traffic conditions. Never drink and drive. Keep the joy in your holiday and the spirits under control.

Just as a centuries-old-holiday decoration still fits our modern lifestyle, we need to remember that safety is always in season. Keep the beauty and joy in your holidays this year by following the time-tested rules of accident prevention.


*COPYRIGHT 2005 Harkins Safety B206

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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

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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

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A Message About Teamwork, Attitude, Mobile Equipment Safety Training

Blue Angels

If the sight of jets thundering through the skies at 600 mph while performing intricate aerial maneuvers in tight formation quickens your pulse, chances are you’re witnessing one of the most spectacular feats of flying ever staged.

You’re watching the U.S. Navy Blue Angels.

A Blue Angels air show features perfectly timed, perfectly choreographed precision flying, such as the Four-Plane Diamond Formation. This magnificent event is accented with two solo pilots in stunning aerial acrobatics. A solo vertical roll can reach as high as 15,000 feet.  In the Sneak pass, the pilot streaks by at just 50 feet above the ground. But the pinnacle of precision flying comes when the Blue Angels perform the intricate maneuvers of the renowned Six-Jet Delta Formation while locked together as one beautifully functioning unit.

True it takes years of training, but teamwork is the key.

What does it take to be a Blue Angel? Each year, a total of 16 officers volunteer, three tactical pilots, two support officers and one Marine pilot are selected to relieve departing members. The Blue Angels Commanding Officer, the Boss must have at least 3,000 tactical jet-fighting hours and experience commanding a squadron. Other members must have a minimum of 1,250 tactical jet-fighter hours. The team trains and performs together for maximum precision and safety.

The Blue Angels rely on safety and teamwork for every demonstration.  Safety is just as important to you and it also depends on teamwork.  Whether you’re flying in formation or operating a forklift, safety is no accident-it requires skill and training and cooperation.

     *Look out for the other guy or gal.  Always stay aware of who’s working around you and what they’re doing.  If you see a coworker attempting an unsafe act, say something.

     *Offer help when you can.  Lending a hand makes the work easier and safer, so help others whenever possible.  For safety’s sake, ask for help when you need it, too.

     *Stay cool.  Frustrations can arise when working with others, but don’t let anger prod you into doing something dangerous.  Remember, you’re a professional.  What would happen if one of the Blue Angels lost his cool?  The consequences for you can be just as deadly.

The Blue Angels perform nearly 70 air shows at 34 locations to the delight of more than 17 million amazed spectators. Since they started in 1946, that’s more than 381 million fans.  When you work safely every day, you come home to the most important fans of all-your family.


SAFETY Is No Accident

Copyright 2006 Harkins Safety   B-177

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