Controlling your risk by Bob Carruth

As Risk Control Manager for the NCACC, Bob Carruth manages the operation of the Risk Control Team for the Risk Management Pools. The team assists members with development of safety policies and programs and identification of liability exposures and controls. Carruth is a Certified Safety Professional and is certified as an Associate – Risk Management.  For archives of this column click here

View All Posts

Aug 02

Plan for Outdoor Hazards, Part II

Posted on August 2, 2012 at 10:04 AM by Todd McGee

Well, this summer has turned out to be a scorcher, hasn’t it?  After starting the hurricane season off with a bang, things have settled down in the tropics, but now our stormy weather is coming from the northwest.  Although the eastern part of the state over the past few weeks has been literally baptized in some of the downpours, other parts of our state have seen little rain. 
As summer transitions to the dog days of August, we begin to long for those pleasant late September and October days to come.  Before we get there, however, you must remember we are only halfway through summer.  In June, I talked about a couple of hazards you need to be aware of in the summer – the weather and varmints.  In this month’s missive, I would like to discuss several more hazards as we move through the end of summer.
Powered Tools.  Many people are injured and even killed each year while working with outdoor power tools.  Over the last 30 years we have seen an explosion of the types of tools that are now powered. Of course, the most common outdoor tool is the lawnmower. Its hazards have been well documented, and you should use caution, especially when introducing your child or other youth to the pleasures of mowing.
But, don’t forget about the other power tools – string trimmers are especially prone to cause eye injuries from flying debris, and of course, the one that demands the most respect is the chainsaw.  Wearing the proper protective equipment – eye & ear protection, as well as gloves and head protection when working with tools over your head, can literally save your life.
Water.  Every year, we hear the tragic news of more deaths because of drowning or other mishaps on the water.  A good, cool dip in the pool or swimming hole can be fun, refreshing, and relaxing.  Just make sure that when you are swimming, you are following some simple precautions:
  • Don’t swim alone.
  • Wear sunscreen. 
  • Watch the consumption of alcohol.
  • When boating, try to avoid the times when the lake is more congested, especially if skiing.
  • Know when to call it a day. 
  • Keep pool gates closed and locked when you are not present.
  • When boating, make sure everyone has an approved water flotation device.
Okay, when we think of water and summer, we think of swimming.  But what about drinking it?  Water is necessary and essential for our very survival.  Regular water consumption keeps us hydrated and functioning at our peak capacity.  Keep a bottle handy when you are working or participating in any outdoor activity because you can get dehydrated very quickly. If you have a hard time drinking water, add a little lemon or lime juice – it does wonders for the taste.
Plants.  I am one of the lucky individuals who break out in a good rash when I get within five feet of poison ivy.  For me, dressing properly to clear brush or work in a planting bed is a no-brainer.  Be aware when you are outdoors of the poisonous plants you may encounter.  If you must work around them, wear gloves, long sleeves, and long pants.  As soon as you finish with your outdoor chores, wash carefully using cool water (warm water opens the pores, and drives the oils into the skin) to remove the plant oils from the skin.  Also, you should wash the clothes you wore, including the gloves.  Many times, we pick up our old, dirty gloves, not realizing they still have the oil on them, which then gets back on our skin. 
If you get a case of poison ivy, there are several treatments available that can treat the symptoms by drying up the sores and relieving the itch.  I recently came across another product called Zanfel (this is not an official endorsement) that works to neutralize the oil that is on the skin – I have personally used it with great effect. My symptoms were gone, and within three days the rash had completely cleared up. 
I realize that there are many other things that can get you during summer.  The critical thing you need to do is makes sure you use a little common sense when outdoors, and also to think before undertaking activities.  A little forethought and planning will make sure you are still around to enjoy those cool, crisp days of autumn we often long for this time of year.
If you need any assistance in reviewing your safety procedures in relation to the outdoor safety of your employees, please feel free to contact your regional risk control specialist, check out our safety resources library at, or contact our office at (919) 719-1117. We will be happy to help you with your particular issue. 


Tag(s): outdoor hazards