Staying safe for Labor Day

On the eve of a long weekend, it is tempting to overlook the role safety should play in everyone’s holiday plans. Whether a person is working, going on vacation or just hosting a barbeque at home, staying safe is key to having an enjoyable holiday.

The American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE) recommends employers commemorate Labor Day by conducting a companywide safety audit. Safety audits are important because they help businesses be proactive about safety and address problems before they result in an injury or illness.

“A safety audit is a tool occupational safety, health and environmental practitioners use to assess workplace hazards and risks and make recommendations for reducing these in an effort to prevent accidents, injuries and illnesses,” according to former ASSE President Donald S. Jones Sr. “With more than 5,000 people dying each year from on-the-job accidents and four million more suffering from workplace injuries and illnesses, we must continue to work diligently to protect our workers.”

For many workers, however, the Labor Day weekend is a chance to get away from both the office and home for a few days. In fact, the American Automobile Association (AAA) estimates that 34.3 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more from home over the coming holiday weekend, in spite of the high cost of fuel.

“It’s natural for people to forget their troubles and relax on vacations,” said Cristina Estes of AAA Arizona. “But, it’s important for travelers to protect themselves. Common sense shouldn’t take a break while you’re on vacation.”

Staying safe for Labor Day
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No matter where a traveler is going, they need to focus on staying safe. That means:

  • Trying to fit-in and especially avoiding wearing clothes that shout “tourist”.
  • Knowing where you are going and carrying a portable guide book rather than a large map.
  • Being vigilant and aware of your surroundings and the people in them.
  • Trusting you gut because good manners are important but should not undermine gut instinct regarding people, places or situations.
  • Never leaving valuables lying around a hotel room or cabin, that’s what the safe is for.
  • Keeping your room key and room number secure and private.

Travel security means taking precautions and being prepared – not being paranoid and nervous.

Of course, not everyone is going on a vacation, or even a mini-vacation over the Labor Day weekend. Some people are staying home and hosting gatherings of family and friends. Many of these gathering include grilling. The National Fire Protection Association for staying safe while grilling warns:

  • Only use propane and charcoal grills outdoors. Used indoors or in a closed spaced, these grills pose both a fire hazard and expose occupants to toxic gases and potential asphyxiation.
  • Position grills well away from structures, including eaves, deck rails and siding. Avoid overhanging branches as well.
  • Declare the grill area a kid-free zone and be sure it is a safe distance from lawn games, play areas and frequently used foot traffic patterns.
  • Give the chef plenty of room by equipping him or her with long-handled grilling tools for flipping and serving food.
  • Charcoal grill users should use proper starter fluid. Between uses, starter fluid should be stored away from heat sources and out of the reach of children and pets.
  • Propane grill users should check the cylinder hose for leaks before every use by applying a light solution of soapy water to the hose. Escaping gas will be revealed as bubbles. Leaking fuel lines should be repaired prior to use.

One final note: propane cylinders are required to have overfill protection devices (OPD) which shut off the propane flow before capacity is reached, to limit the potential for accidental release of propane gas if the cylinder heats up. OPDs can be identified by their triangular-shaped hand wheel.

Regardless of where the holiday weekend finds us, at work, at home or on vacation, it is important that we all remember: safety comes first.

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