The entire nation is gearing up for Thanksgiving next week, but in our Wisconsin offices we have another holiday to celebrate: deer hunting (known in some corners as Holy Week). The nine-day gun hunting season opens November 21 and runs through November 29. Thousands of blaze orange-clad hunters will take to the fields and forests in pursuit of the elusive white-tailed deer.
The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources provides many tips to keep hunters safe, reinforced by a hunter education certification program that is mandatory for all hunters in Wisconsin born after January 1, 1973.
Safety is a big part of what we do at Ayres Associates, too – and we think about it 365 days a year, not just nine days. We have a standing Safety Committee that meets regularly to develop safety policies and procedures that help keep our staff safe and sound in the office and in the field. The entire staff gets regular safety communications on everything from heat stress to defensive driving. There’s a special focus on our staff members who are out in the field doing surveys, climbing over and diving under bridges, and inspecting construction projects.
Here are four helpful practices that can keep everyone safe this fall:
Don’t fade into the background. The days are shorter, the nights are longer, early mornings can be foggy – and that means visibility is much lower now than during a beautiful summer day. If you’re working in traffic – or running along a busy street – make sure you’re visible. For our field staff, that means having reflective striping on their vests and/or pants. If you’re out biking or walking, use lights and reflective gear that keep you visible to motorists.
Take care of yourself. As temperatures cool, heat leaves the body faster and puts workers and other outdoor enthusiasts at increased risk of cold stress. These tips can help anyone working or playing outside:
- Dress properly (layers of loose-fitting, insulated, waterproof clothes including jacket, gloves, hat, and boots).
- Drink warm (non-alcoholic), sweetened fluids to stay hydrated.
- Keep your safety vest as the outside layer.
- Remember safety pants at dark or dusk whenever working in a construction or traffic area.
- Try to stay as dry as possible. Keep extra layers of socks and clothing with you to change if any of your clothing gets wet.
- For ways to protect yourself from cold stress, check this OSHA Quick Card.
Watch your step. You don’t have to be working on a construction site to be at risk of slips, trips, and falls. Home may be where the heart is, but it’s also where the hazards are. Watch out for wet spots, polished floors, ice, loose flooring or carpeting, uneven walking surfaces, rough ground, clutter, electrical cords, open desk drawers and filing cabinets, and damaged ladder steps. Prevention is as easy as keeping walkways and stairs clear of debris; coiling up extension cords, lines, and hoses when not in use; keeping electrical and other wires out of the way; wearing lug soles or using salt/sand as needed in icy weather; and clearing walkways in snowy weather. Don’t overload yourself with materials you’re carrying (whether that’s diving gear or a laundry basket), don’t rush, and be aware of your environment. In short, plan your steps.
Know the hazards. Ayres Associates develops a safety plan for every work site to meet the specific conditions of that site, and every project manager communicates with all employees working on site about what hazards exist and what personal protective equipment is needed. You can develop your own plan at home by being aware of potential hazards and telling family and visitors about them: If there’s a loose handrail, let Great-Aunt Mary know before she starts up the steps; put Fluffy in the kennel if he gets too rambunctious around visitors; keep curious children away from hot stoves.
Here’s wishing a safe hunt for all hunters and safe Thanksgiving travels to everyone. Happy Thanksgiving from all of us at Ayres Associates!