Archive for the 'Current Events and Trends' Category

Winter Driving and Travel Tips – #1 Slow Down

Nov. 28th 2011

Note:  We received several comments of thanks from our readers for providing these Winter Driving Tips in the CLMI Newsletter this past month.  I hope that you will find them useful.                                                                                       

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We’ve all seen Winter Safe Driving tips over the years.  This condensed list is from the Minnesota Safety Council and provides excellent guidance.  I hope you think so too and share them with your family, friends, employees or others you care about.

Winter Driving Safety Tips

How should you prepare yourself for winter driving?

  • Plan your driving in advance.
  • Avoid driving when fatigued.
  • Contact your provincial “Road Reports” to get updates regarding road conditions in the region to which you are going.
  • Check weather conditions for your travel route (and time) before you begin driving.
  • Plan your arrival time at a destination by taking into account any delays due to slower traffic, reduced visibility, roadblocks, abandoned automobiles, collisions, etc.
  • Inform someone of your route and planned arrival time.
  • Choose warm and comfortable clothing. If you need to remove outdoor clothing later while driving, STOP the vehicle in a safe spot.
  • Warm up your vehicle BEFORE driving off. It reduces moisture condensing on the inside of the windows.
  • NEVER warm up your vehicle in a closed garage.
  • Remove snow and ice from your vehicle. It helps to see and, equally important, to be seen.
  • Wear sunglasses on bright sunny days.
  • Bring a cell phone if you have one but do not leave it in the car as the battery will freeze.

How should you drive in winter weather?

  • Buckle up before you start driving. Keep your seat belt buckled at all times.
  • SLOW DOWN! - posted speed limits are for ideal travel conditions. Driving at reduced speeds is the best precautionary measure against any misfortune while driving on slippery roads. “Black ice” is invisible.
  • Be aware of the road conditions. Black ice will make a road look like shiny new asphalt. Pavement should look grey-white in winter.
  • Do not use cruise control. Winter driving requires you to be in full control at all times.
  • Reduce your speed while approaching intersections covered with ice or snow.
  • Allow for extra travelling time or even consider delaying a trip if the weather is inclement.
  • Drive with low-beam headlights on. Not only are they brighter than daytime running lights but turning them on also activates the tail lights. This makes your vehicle more visible.
  • Lengthen your following distance behind the vehicle ahead of you. Stopping distance on an icy road can be up to 10 times that of stopping on a dry one. For example, from around 175 ft at the speed of 50 mph, to over 1,750 ft on an icy road surface.  (Even if it’s half that there’s a huge difference!)
  • Stay in the right-hand lane except when passing and use turn signals when changing lanes.
  • Steer with smooth and precise movements. Changing lanes too quickly and jerky steering while braking or accelerating can cause skidding.
  • Be aware and slow down when you see a sign warning that you are approaching a bridge. Steel and concrete bridges are likely to be icy even when there is no ice on the asphalt surface, (because bridges over open air cool down faster than roads which tend to be insulated somewhat by solid ground.)
  • Consider getting off the road before getting stranded if the weather is worsening.
  • Be patient and pass other cars only when it is safe to do so.

Did we miss anything?  Please comment with your tips and thoughts for improving driver safety during these winter months.  Thanks!

Yes, We Have Dust! Is That A Problem?

Feb. 10th 2010

NOTE:   In talking with Jim Gallup, P.E., CSP, this past week during the winter ASSE Board of Directors meeting, he mentioned this article and offered to have it re-published here in my blog.  Jim is the ASSE Region II Vice President, and this article is from the most recent Region II Newsletter.  Thanks for sharing this important information concerning Combustible dust.

Many of the deadliest explosions in the past fifteen years have involved combustible dusts. To address this dangerous issue, in 2008, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) established a National Emphasis Program that included a field directive for the inspection of sites handling combustible dusts. OSHA recently published an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to consider the option of writing a comprehensive standard on combustible dusts.

Many common solids can generate combustible dusts during cutting, grinding or buffing operations. We know that flour will explode if suspended. Metals such as aluminum form ignitable clouds of the dust if suspended. Plastics, textile, and candy manufacturing can all produce combustible dusts.

Destructive combustible dust explosions require two additional elements beyond the three typical flammable elements; heat, oxygen and fuel. For a fast fire in dust to become a destructive dust explosion, the dust must also be suspended and confined or enclosed.

The deadliest dust explosions usually involve two back-to-back explosions. The first is localized at the point where the dust is generated. The second, and often more destructive explosion, is a result of the first explosion which serves as the ignition source for the second explosion. The initial explosion creates a blast wave that lifts and suspends accumulated fugitive dust on beams and other horizontal high surfaces above the floor. The newly suspended dust ignites and a larger secondary explosion occurs.

How can we determine if industrially created dust is a problem? First, any process that generates a visible dust cloud will be suspect. Visible clouds may not be in the flammable range, but visible clouds indicate a suspended dust. Usually these processes have a means to collect the dusts generated. A hood, duct, separator, and fan are most often present. Secondly, any process that generates enough fugitive dust to deposit 1/16-inch or more of dust outside of the collection system will be suspect. Additionally, dust deposited on surfaces above the floor should be suspect.

The next step will be to take samples and have the samples tested for combustibility. If the dust is combustible, the degree of explosibility and several other factors, including minimum ignition temperature and minimum dust density, require testing in order to establish the potential need for corrective measures. The full range of testing is expensive, on the order of $10,000 per sample. Once the testing of a sample is completed, the safety professional will know not only the minimum cloud concentrations needed for an explosion, but also the heat source required, the maximum pressure generated by an enclosed explosion, and the rate that the maximum pressure is generated.

Controls will range from relocating collection equipment outside to providing explosion relief devices and explosion suppression systems. Sources of ignition may need to be controlled or eliminated. Fugitive emissions (uncontrolled dust) may need to be evaluated and controlled. Limiting total quantities of dust by frequent cleaning may prove necessary. Some facilities permit the use of compressed air for cleaning, which may not be acceptable if blowing the dust would suspend the dust in high concentrations. And, importantly, training of affected employees may be needed. As you might guess the analysis of all factors is not simple.

For more information on dust explosion prevention, visit OSHA at There are several NFPA standards such as NFPA 484 for metal dusts, and 654 for non-metal dusts covering proper handling of combustible dusts. Factory Mutual Data Sheet 7-76 also has information.

Is OSHA Going Green?

Jan. 4th 2010

Yes, it’s true.  OSHA is going Green and aligning with the powerful sustainability movement.  What will this mean to safety professionals?

The NIOSH Going Green Workshop held in Washington, DC on December 16th, provided a platform for David Michaels, new Assistant Secretary of Labor, OSHA, to present his vision for the Agency, focusing on “Making Green Jobs Safe” and helping to create “Good Jobs for Everyone“.

Dr. Michaels remarks, titled “Making Green Jobs Safe:  Integrating Occupational Safety & Health into Green and Sustainability“, present a vision that is consistent with remarks that he and others from OSHA have been making for several months. The five “Green Reform Principles” that he outlined during his speech, provide clear rationale for the key initiatives that OSHA has previously announced and aligns their direction with the more powerful Environmental Protection Agency.   

Like it or not, it appears that by aligning with the overall “sustainability” movement, in language and action, OSHA may have found a way to reframe its purpose.  Dr. Michaels is almost masterful in crafting a strong, value-based message that is easily understood by all.  If you haven’t read this on the OSHA site, you really should take the time. Here’s the link:

Is this new OSHA message going to be helpful to those of us in the safety and health professions?  What do you think?


Tim Sanders Would Probably Agree

It’s interesting that this new OSHA message parallels the remarks that Tim Sanders provided during ASSE’s Safety 2009 in San Antonio, and in his best-selling book “Saving the World at Work”.  Sanders, former Chief Solutions Officer for Yahoo and well-known speaker on sustainability was the General Session keynote speaker and shared his views on how safety is one of the key elements in the “Responsibility Revolution”.  This revolution in both thinking and action is happening all over the world, and is focused on changing corporate practices as they relate to the consumer, employees and the community.  His book is a really good read.  Check it out at:    You might want to read his blog as well.  Tim Sanders is a thought leader in the sustainability movement.