Safety Tips

Safety Tips Blog: Holiday Travel

Safety Tips: Holiday Travel

Did You Know? More than 63.9 million Americans will travel during the holidays.  82% of those travelers (roughly 82%) will travel by automobile.

The best part of the holidays is spending extended time with your friends and family, but this always means having to travel to see them.  We want to help make your drive as smooth as possible so you can arrive at your holiday travel destination without any accidents.

Follow these important travel tips to ensure your family is safe this holiday season!

Happy Holidays from United Services Group to all our co-workers, friends, family, and customers!  We hope you all have a safe and enjoyable holiday.

Holiday Travel Safety Practices and Tips:
  • Make sure that your car is equipped for travel.  Check your tire tread, tire pressure, battery, antifreeze, windows, and brakes.
  • Ensure you have your spare tire properly inflated, you have a jack, lug wrench, and jumper cables.
  • Allow extra time in your travel schedule.  The holidays is one of the busiest times to travel and patience and flexibility are needed.
  • Keep a safety kit in your vehicle.  The kit should include items you might need in case of an emergency: flashlight, first aid kit, water, non-perishable food items, matches, blankets, flares (or other warning devices).
  • Driving while drowsy can be as dangerous as driving after drinking alcohol.  Schedule your trip to avoid driving during normal sleep hours.  Plan for at least a 15-minute rest stop every two hours.  Limit driving to 350 miles per day or no more than eight hours on the road to avoid drowsy driving.
  • Even if the weather and roads look okay in your area of the country, that may not be the case where you are traveling.  You should check weather conditions of the interstates and roads you will be traveling on.
  • Map your route in advance and be prepared for busy roads.  If possible, consider leaving earlier or later to avoid the heavy traffic periods.
  • If you are traveling with children, remind them to not talk to strangers.  Accompany them on bathroom breaks so your family doesn’t get separated.
  • Have roadside assistance contact information on hand in case an incident occurs on the road.
  • Avoid distractions on the road, don’t text and drive.
  • Most importantly, make sure everyone in the vehicle is wearing their seat belts properly.

Sources of Tips and Information in this Post:

Safety Toolbox Topics: Christmas Travel Safety

AAA: Holiday Road Trip Survival Tips

American Red Cross: Top Ten Holiday Travel Tips

Safety Tips: Thanksgiving

Safety Tips: Thanksgiving

Did You Know? More than 13 million Americans will travel to spend the holiday season with friends and family.  This will leave homes empty for opportunistic burglars.

Additionally, for both those traveling or staying home:  Thanksgiving is the leading day for home fires involving cooking equipment, with three times the average number throughout the year.

Follow these important Thanksgiving Safety Tips to ensure your family is safe this holiday season!

Happy Thanksgiving from United Services Group to all our co-workers, friends, family, and customers!  We hope you all have a safe and enjoyable holiday.

Thanksgiving Fire Safety Practices and Tips:
  • Be sure to keep a fire extinguisher in the kitchen in case of emergency.  Additionally, make sure family members know how to use it, in case of emergency.
  • Be cautious when using turkey fryers as they pose a number of distinct safety concerns, including burns and fire hazards.
  • Never wear loose fitting clothing when cooking.  Long, open sleeves could ignite and catch fire from a gas flame or oven burner.  Wear short, close fitting, or tightly rolled sleeves when cooking.

Safe Traveling Practices and Safety Tips:
  • Remove objects that might allow access to your home (Ladders, etc.)
  • Do not post Thanksgiving travel plans publically on social media letting people know that you will be out of town and that your home is empty.
  • Turn your telephone ringer down or off to prevent repeated rings to be heard outside of the home.
  • Make sure to have all mail, newspaper, and deliveries stopped or picked by a neighbor, friend, or relative.
  • Never leave a key hidden outside.  Burglars know all the best hiding places.
  • Secure all windows in the home, cut back any trees giving access to second story windows.
  • Use timers to operate your lights while you are gone.
  • Have a neighbor keep an eye out on your home for any suspicious activity.
  • Before leaving on your trip, make sure all doors, including garage doors, are secure and locked.

Sources of Tips and Information in this Post:

Protection 1 Security Solutions: Thanksgiving Safety Tips

National Fire Protection Agency: Thanksgiving Safety

SafeWise: Tips for Keeping your Home Safe This Thanksgiving

ADT: Protection Your Home – Thanksgiving Safety Tips

Safety Tips: Flu Prevention

Safety Tips: Flu Prevention

Did You Know? The flu virus can live on hard surfaces for up to 24 hours and soft surfaces for 15 minutes.  The flu is a common infectious disease caused by the influenza viruses.  The flu usually affects a person’s breathing system.

The Center for Disease Control estimates between 5-20% of the people in the United States get the flu each year, and more than 200,000 are hospitalized due to complications.

Most people recover from the flu in several days and usually less than two weeks.  However, the flu tends to be passed around in the workplace during the fall and winter months.  To help prevent getting the flu, think about getting a flu vaccination.

Flu Symptoms & Complications:
  • Fever or feeling feverish/chills
  • Cough
  • Sore Throat
  • Runny or Stuffy nose
  • Muscle or Body Aches
  • Headaches
  • Fatigue or Tiredness
  • Vomiting and Diarrhea (more common in children)

How does the flu spread?

The flu spreads through wet drops produced when a person coughs, sneezes or talks.  A person can get the flu by breathing in these drops or by touching items services containing the virus and then touching their mouth, nose, or eyes.

A person can spread the flu starting one day before they feel sick.  Adults can continue to pass the flu virus to others for another 3-7 days, after symptoms start.  Children can pass the virus for longer than 7 days.  Symptoms can start 1-4 days after the virus enters the body.  Some people can be infected with the flu virus but show no symptoms.  During these times, those people can still spread the virus to others.

Safety Work Practices & Tips:
  • CDC recommends a yearly flu vaccine as the first and most important step in protecting against flu viruses.
  • Don’t go to work when a fever or any other flu symptoms are present.
  • Practice good hygiene and wash your hands with soap and water frequently.
  • Cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing.
  • Use natural remedies like daily vitamins, vitamin C, and zinc to boost your immune system.
  • Exercise regularly.
  • Wash your hands or utilize hand sanitizer before and after eating.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth.  Germs spread quickly this way.
  • Take available medication to help treat the flu and help manage the symptoms.

Sources of Tips and Information in this Post:

Flublok: Fun Facts

San Francisco Department of Public Health – Flu Facts Facts about Influenza for Adults

Center for Disease Control and Prevention: 2016-2017 Flu Season

Safety Toolbox Talks: Flu Prevention


Safety Tips: Fire Prevention

Safety Tips: Fire Prevention

Did You Know? Fires and burns are the fifth most common cause of accidental injury deaths in the United States and the third-leading cause of fatal home injury.  It is essential that all workers are aware of potential fire hazards on and around the work site.  OSHA requires employers to implement fire protection and prevention programs in the workplace.

Additionally, everyone needs to be equally prepared while at home.  Basic fire protection knowledge and preparation could help save your life as well as the lives of your loved ones.  Take the time to prepare a plan for both you and your family.

Characteristics of a Fire:
  • To support fire, you must have; HEAT, FUEL, OXYGEN, and SUSTAINED CHEMICAL REACTION
  • A small fire can grow out of control in as little as 30 seconds.
  • A room involved with a fire can have a temperature of 100°C at floor level and 600°C at eye level. In less than 5 minutes a room can flashover.
  • Fire starts bright but will quickly turn the room pitch black from releasing smoke and toxic gas. Be familiar with your surroundings and evacuation routes!

Job-Site Fire Protection Safety Tips:
  • Make sure there is a ventilation system, especially where paint, solvents or other flammable materials are being applied.
  • Ensure working smoke detectors are provided in building areas.
  • Make sure there is at least one fire extinguisher on all construction sites. All extinguishers should be easy to find and everyone should know where they are.
  • Clean up all flammable liquid leaks or spills immediately
  • Never put water on an electrical fire.
  • Use a CO2 fire extinguisher only if the fire is small.
  • Don’t overload circuits or bypass the circuit protection
  • Inspect all electric devices and their cords. Replace frayed insulation at once.  Most electric devices are subject to internal wiring failures, faulty power cords, and switches that add to fire risk.

Safety Work Practices & Tips:
  • An important fire safety tip is to look for and eliminate any potential fire hazards before they become a reality!
  • Know where pull stations and extinguishers are located.
  • Time is the biggest enemy, get out of the building!
  • If a fire, pull the nearest fire alarm if possible.  If not, call for help from a safe location outside.
  • If smoke, stay as low to the ground as possible.
  • If safe, close all doors behind you as you leave the building.
  • Don’t use the elevator for evacuation because the shaft can act as a chimney.
  • Elevators also present an entrapment hazard if they fail.
  • Never return to a burning building.

The 2016 Fire Protection Week presented by the National Fire Protection Association campaign is “Don’t Wait – Check the Date.”  Smoke Alarms require the batteries to be replaced every 10 years.  Make sure you know how old the smoke alarms are in your home.  If you are unsure, check the date of manufacture on the back of the alarm.  Make sure the alarm is replaced 10 years from that date.

Check the Date Campaign.

Check the Date Campaign by the National Fire Protection Association

Smoke Alarm Safety Tips:

  • Install smoke alarms in every bedroom, outside each sleeping area and on every level of the home. For the best protection, interconnect all smoke alarms throughout the home. When one sounds, they all sound.
  • Test smoke alarms at least once a month using the test button.
  • Replace smoke alarms every 10 years.
  • Make sure everyone can hear the sound of the smoke alarms. Talking smoke alarms have been found to be more effective with sleeping children.
  • Have a home fire escape plan? Know at least two ways out of every room, if possible, and a meeting place outside. Practice your escape plan twice a year.
  • When the smoke alarm sounds, get out and stay out.

Interesting Sites with Additional Information and Tips:

OSHA: Fire Protection and Prevention (PDF)

Grainger Quick Tips:  Portable Fire Extinguishers: Maintenance, Use, Placement, and Testing

Caterpillar: Fire Safety (PDF)

Caterpillar: Fire Prevention & Extinguishing (PDF)

Sources of Tips and Information in this Post:

CWPR Toolbox Talk: Fire Safety (PDF)

Harvard EHS: Fire Safety Toolbox Talk (PDF)

National Fire Protection Association: Fire Protection Week

Safety Toolbox Topics: Fire Protection Week Tips

OSHA: Fire Safety


Safety Tips: Hearing Protection

Safety Tips: Hearing Protection

Did You Know? Hearing protection is required when noise exposure exceeds an action level of 85 dba.  (For comparison, a table saw has a dba of 95.)  It is estimated that approximately 30 million people in the U.S. are occupationally exposed to hazardous noise levels. Noise is an unwanted sound that can affect job performance, safety, and your health.

OSHA requires all companies to provide fall protection for elevations of four feet in general industry workplace and six feet in the construction industry.  They also require fall protection to be provided when working over any dangerous machinery or equipment regardless of distance.

Signs You Need Ear Protection:
  • If it is necessary for you to speak in a very loud voice, or shout directly into the ear of a person to be understood, it is likely that the noise level is high enough to require hearing protection.
  • If you have roaring or ringing noises in your ears at the end of the workday, you are probably being exposed to too much noise.
  • If speech or music sounds muffled to you after you leave work, but it sounds fairly clear in the morning when you return to work, you are being exposed to noise levels that are causing a temporary hearing loss. In time, this can become permanent if you do not take care.

Proper Use of Ear Protection:
  • Hearing protection should not cause you discomfort. If it does, ask if there are other options that you can try.
  • If foam earplugs are used, they should be inserted correctly into the ear. This is done by squeezing the earplug so that it’s compressed fully, then opening the ear canal by pulling on the top part of the ear with the opposite hand, and carefully sliding the foam earplug into the ear. It is important to hold the earplug in place for 15 seconds so that it expands properly inside the ear canal.
  • Earmuffs are easy to use, but may not offer the same level of protection as most ear plugs. Always check the Noise Reduction Rating of the earmuff or ear plug to ensure you have the right level of protection.

Safety Work Practices & Tips:
  • Use comfortable hearing protection such as earmuffs and earplugs
  • Be sure you’ve been trained to properly insert disposable foam earplugs
  • Avoid inserting/removing earplugs if your hands are dirty. Better to clean first.
  • Take breaks from loud noises even if protective gear is worn.
  • Identify equipment and work areas where signs can be posted to make other workers aware of high noise areas.
  • Make noise sources such as compressors/machines away from workers.

Interesting Sites with Additional Information and Tips:

CWPR Toolbox Talk: Hearing Protection (PDF)

Amerisafe: Hearing Protection

Caterpillar: Hearing Protection (PDF)

Harvard EHS: Hearing Conservation Fact Sheet (PDF)

Sources of Tips and Information in this Post:

OSHA – Occupational Noise Exposure

Caterpillar: Hearing Protection (PDF)

Safety Tips: Fall Protection

Safety Tips: Fall Protection

Did You Know? Falls are the leading cause of death in the construction industry.  Falls from elevations account for approximately one-third of all deaths in construction.  Falls can be prevented.  Employers can set-up the job-site and workplace to prevent falls from overhead platforms, elevated work stations, or into holes in the floors and walls.

OSHA requires all companies to provide fall protection for elevations of four feet in general industry workplace and six feet in the construction industry.  They also require fall protection to be provided when working over any dangerous machinery or equipment regardless of distance.

Fall Prevention Safety Tips for Employers (from OSHA’s Alliance Program):
  • Develop a written fall prevention plan.
  • Identify potential fall hazards prior to each project and during daily walkarounds. Pay attention to hazards associated with routine and non-routine tasks.
  • Eliminate the need for fall protection where possible by rescheduling the task, isolating the task, or changing the task.
  • Ensure that fall protection equipment is appropriate for the task, in good condition, and used properly.
  • Conduct general fall prevention training on a regular basis.
  • Train workers on the specific fall hazards identified and on the required personal protective equipment.
    Conduct regular inspections of fall protection equipment in accordance with manufacturer’s recommendations and OSHA requirements.
  • Emphasize fall hazards unique to the site, such as open floor holes or shafts, riser penetrations, and skylights.
  • Team up with other construction employers and employees to identify best practices and share fall prevention solutions.

Safety Work Practices & Tips:
  • Identify all potential trip­ping and fall hazards before work starts.
  • Look for fall hazards such as unprotected floor openings/edges, shafts, skylights, stairwells, and roof openings/edges.
  • Inspect fall protection equipment for defects before use.
  • Select, wear and use fall protection equipment appropriate for the task.
  • Secure and stabilize all ladders before climbing them.
  • Never stand on the top rung/step of a ladder.
  • Use handrails when you go up or down stairs.
  • Practice good housekeep­ing. Keep cords, welding leads and air hoses out of walkways or adjacent work areas.

Interesting Sites with Additional Information and Tips:

Amerisafe – Checklist for Personal Fall Protection

CWPR Toolbox Talk: Falls from Moving Machinery (PDF)

CWPR Toolbox Talk: Preventing Falls from Scaffolding (PDF)

CWPR Toolbox Talk: General Protection and Awareness (PDF)

Sources of Tips and Information in this Post:

OSHA – Fall Protection:

OSHA’s Alliance Safety Tips for Employers and Employees (PDF)

OSHA’s Fall Protection Quick Card (PDF)

Safety Tips: Back Injury Prevention

Back Injury Prevention

Did You Know?  Back injuries account for 1 in 5 workplace accidents.  Lifting heavy items is one of the leading causes of injury in the workplace. When employees use smart lifting practices they are less likely to suffer from back sprains, muscle pulls, wrist injuries, elbow injuries, penal injuries and other injuries caused by lifting heavy objects.   The best way to prevent back injuries is to develop habits that reduce the strain placed on your back. 

As always at United, safety is our top priority!  We want our team to return to work the same way you left.  Please stay safe!

These are some basic things you can do to help prevent an injury:

Proper Lifting Procedures:
  1. Take a balanced stance with your feet about a shoulder-width apart. One foot can be behind the object and the other next to it.
  2. Squat down to lift the object, keeping your heels off the floor. Get as close to the object as you can.
  3. Use your palms to get a secure grip on the load, making sure you’ll be able to maintain a hold on the object without having to switch your grip later.
  4. Lift gradually using your legs, abdominal and buttock muscles and keep the load as close to you as possible. Keep your chin tucked in so as to keep a relatively straight back and neckline.
  5. Once you’re standing, change directions by pointing your feet in the direction you want to go and turn your whole body. Avoid twisting at your waist while carrying.
  6. When you put a load down, use these same guidelines, in reverse.

Avoid Lifting and Bending Whenever Possible:
  • Anytime you can spare your back the stress and strain of lifting and bending, do so!
  • Place objects up off the floor: If you can set something down on a table or other elevated surface instead of the floor, do it so you won’t have to reach down to pick it up again.
  • Raise/lower shelves: The best zone for lifting is between your shoulders and your waist.  Put heavier objects on shelves at waist level, lighter objects on lower or higher shelves.
  • Use carts/dollies, when available, to move objects instead of carrying them yourself.
  • Use cranes, hoists, lift tables and other lift-assist devices whenever you can.

Safety Work Practices and Tips:
  • Lifting loads heavier than about 50 pounds will increase the risk of injury.
  • Some loads, such large spools of wire, heavy tools and machinery place great stress on muscles, discs, and vertebrae. Use pallet jacks and hand trucks to transport heavy items.
  • Materials that must be manually lifted should be placed at “power zone” height, about mid-thigh to mid-chest.
  • Make sure proper lifting technique is used. (See Above)
  • Maintain neutral and straight spine alignment whenever possible.
  • Bending at knees, not at the waist, helps maintain proper spine alignment.
  • Rotate tasks so employees are not exposed to the same activity for long periods of time.
  • Utilize proper handholds, including handles, slots or holes, with enough room to accommodate gloved hands.
  • Wear proper PPE to avoid finger injuries and contact stress.
  • Wear appropriate clothing and drink lots of water to avoid dehydration.

At-Risk Behaviors to Avoid:
  • Carrying loads on one shoulder, under an arm, or in one hand, creates uneven pressure on the spine.
  • Reaching moves the load away from the back and places considerable strain on the shoulders.
  • Holding items for a long period of time increases the risk of back and shoulder injury.
  • Cold temperatures can cause muscle pulls.

Interesting Sites with Additional Information and Tips:

Safety Toolbox Topics: Back Injury Prevention Techniques

OSHA: Back Injury Prevention Training Guide (PDF)

Grainger QuickTips: Proper Lifting Techniques

Sources of Tips and Information in this Post:

OSHA – Materials Handling: Heavy Lifting 

Oklahoma State EHS Safety Training: Back Safety

Safety Tips: The Fourth of July

Happy Birthday, America! 

The Fourth of July is a huge holiday weekend for many – spending time with family and friends, heading to the beach, barbecuing and of course fireworks! However, all of these activities present an opportunity for injuries to happen.  So before you light off any fireworks or fire up your grill this holiday, take time out to make sure you are taking the necessary safety precautions to keep yourself safe as well as your friends and family. 

We have compiled a small list of safety tips for your holiday weekend adventures as well as a few additional sources for more information!

As always at United, safety is our top priority!  We want our team to return to work the same way you left for your holiday weekend.  Please be safe!

4th of July Safety Tips:
  1. Keep the kids away from the fireworks at all times, and keep spectators at a safe distance. Attending fireworks displays organized by professionals is always safe than trying to put on your own show.
  2. Use Alcohol Responsibly. Alcohol and fireworks can be a hazardous and dangerous combination. Have a designated drive to bring party-goers home from the festivities.  Also note:  Alcohol and swimming combined is just as dangerous as drinking and driving.
  3. Review safe boating practices. Be sure to have the adequate number of life preservers on hand for extra guests and become familiar with boating laws in your area. Don’t drink and drive on your boat as it is illegal to operate your boat while under the influence.
  4. Cover food and beverages while outdoors to discourage bees and other insects from attending your party.
  5. Apply sunscreen before and during an outdoor party. UV rays can cause painful burn the next day and could cause skin cancer in the long term.  Dermatologists recommend a minimum SPF of 15.
  6. Drink plenty of water to avoid heat illness in hot climates. Spend adequate time indoors or in the shade.  The risk of heat illness is increased when participating in strenuous activity or sports.  Alcohol consumption can also promote dehydration and increase the risk.
  7. Keep children away from campfires and grills.
  8. Don’t leave food out all day. U.S. FDA suggests never leaving food out more than one hour when temps are above 90 degrees. Allowing food to sit out in temperatures can invite food-borne illness.
  9. Be a safe swimmer. Never swim alone and make sure the kid’s water play is adequately supervised at all times.
  10. Keep pets indoors.

Interesting Sites with Additional Tips and Information:

American Red Cross: Red Cross Issues Safety Tips For 4th of July Holiday

Protection 1: 4th of July Safety Tips

PetMD: Top 10 Fouth of July Pet Safety Tips

Sources of Tips & Information: – 11 Tips for a Safe Fouth of July