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Safety Pro

Getting Ready for Spring

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03/01/2011 - I have never been so ready for spring. Apparently, based on the traffic and shopping lines at the home improvement store while experiencing our first real day of sunshine, so is everyone else.

While you look for something creative to do as an excuse to get outside, think about what you should not do, as well. Maybe you shoveled snow all winter and you're used to the exercise. Maybe, like that television commercial, you stayed indoors and watched your kids shoveling snow and the most activity you got all winter was getting dressed. If that's the case, consider starting out slowly to stretch your back muscles into shape along with a little extra joint care before launching off into full scale 'body' work. If you start your spring with back pain, it may take longer than one night's rest to recover, especially if you damage a disc or tear a muscle.

Can't wait to get that weed killer and grass starter on the lawn? Use proper lifting techniques by bending at the knees and lifting with your legs rather than bending at the waist and yanking that 50-lb bag to your shoulder. Think about how you'll get that bag out of the trunk of your car before you put it in the trunk.

Check out your lawn mower before attempting to start it or you may run congealed gas (momentarily) or throw out your back trying to pull-start it since you didn't remove or throw out your spark plug. Of course, if it is already rusted to the block, you now have a reason to go purchase the new riding mower with its own cupholder.

I love how stores can sell the happy homeowner a 150-lb limit residential ladder when most people, like me, start at 200 (2/3 of Americans are considered overweight or obese let's check the weight limit on that ladder again?!) but to ensure safety, a business must purchase a ladder with a higher weight capacity. It's still my 200 pounds going up and down, whether at work or at home. Be sure the ladder is level and secure and don't hang out beyond the siderails. Get off and actually move the ladder.

By the way, you know that piece of ladder you fished out of the dumpster at work because it was missing a rung and is 'only slighted twisted? Why would you think it's OK for you to use to climb 16 feet up in the air?

Personal protective equipment is an important aspect of yard work. Chemically-safe gloves (not the leather ones the chemicals can absorb into), goggles or safety glasses, ear plugs, proper footware (barefoot or flipflops are not options), and close-fitting clothing keep body parts and clothes from getting stuck, sliced, diced, or made into julienne fries.

In other words, use the 'smarts' that God gave you and spare yourself, your family, and your ego the, "You did what? That was stupid!" remarks and be safe at home.

Randy DeVaul (safetypro@roadrunner.com) is a 30-year safety professional, emergency response instructor, and author from Westfield, NY. Comments always welcome.

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