Category - Hazards

Should I Stay or Should I Go?

A car lands vertically into a snowbank on Interstate 93 during a snow storm north of Salem, New Hampshire.

Credit: https://www.theguardian.com/weather/gallery/2011/feb/02/winter-storms-us-in-pictures#img-5

Yeah, we hit the big one this time! I’m talking at least eight inches of snow in West Texas this past week. Schools were closed and so were many businesses.  Even businesses that wanted to remain open – struggled for lack of employees that were willing to risk driving in the snow.

 

Driving is treacherous in West Texas – even on sunny days. When you add all that snow and drivers that don’t know how to drive in harsh conditions – that makes it all the more dangerous.

 

I lived in one of the Northern states for more than thirty years.  Eight inches of snow is not that big of a deal there.

First off, the state and county Departments of Transportation send out powerful snowblowers to clear the snow that accumulates. Then, they distribute sand – mixed with salt to make the roads less slippery.

It helps quite a bit.  A study made in 1992, found that putting salt on the roads can reduce car accidents by 87 percent both during and after a snowstorm.

 

Second of all, people are used to driving in the snow for six months of the year.  Slow and steady will get you there safely.  We avoid braking as much as possible.  And, we pump the brakes slowly – if we do have to stop.  We keep an eye out for any possible actions that we might need to brake for.

 

I’ve landed in the ditch a few times because I’ve slammed on my brakes.  Unless one is an adrenaline junkie, that is not a good feeling.  Ugh. Teens need to be specifically taught how to drive in the snow. Teen boys think it’s fun to go fast and then slam on the brakes to see what will happen.  Nothing good comes of that experience.

 

Third, if one does start to skid on the slippery road, turn in the direction of the skid.  This is actually difficult to do.  We have a natural tendency to want to turn in the opposite direction.  You wouldn’t want to turn sharply, as that will make things worse. I can cover that in my next newsletter.

 

Final Point:
The Department of Transportation had closed some of the roads for this snowfall. It’s against the law to drive around the barricades.

I knew that it was a bad idea, but I didn’t realize that it’s also a Class B misdemeanor. This is the same as a DWI. If caught, you might be arrested, have your car impounded, or spend up to 180 days in jail and/or be fined up to $2000. You could also be charged for the cost of your rescue.

The powers-that-be only close the roads when they are not safe for driving. Don’t be foolish and think that you are “special” and will avoid a disaster.  You won’t.

 

This was the most snowfall that Odessa and Midland has seen in the last five years.  If you were injured because someone accidentally rammed into you – you should call our office for advice.

 


We Will Fight For You!


Call the Law Office of Gerald Fugit at 432-301-9252.

Watch Your Speed

Sign that says to "Move Over" and "Slow Down" when emergency vehicles are on side of road. Don’t speed.  Respect the road conditions when they are icy or rainy. It’s better to get where you need to go late – rather than not to get there at all.

 

Two First Responders are Dead & Another in Critical Condition

 

Lubbock lost two of its heroes. They gave their life to their community.  Yet another, has been injured so badly that he’ll possibly never return to work again.

 

A week ago:

Officers and firefighters were called to a single-vehicle rollover crash on I-27 at approximately 8:19 a.m. Saturday. It appeared that the vehicle was traveling southbound and crossed the median into the northbound lanes where it rolled over.

While investigating this scene, another vehicle carrying a trailer was traveling southbound on I-27 when it crossed over the median and came to a stop in the northbound lanes — about 25 to 50 yards away from the first accident scene.

Police and firefighters – then spread out their resources to work both of the accidents. While personnel were investigating the two accidents, a third vehicle struck them and killed two and critically injured the third man.

 

27-year-old Officer Nicholas Reyna and 39-year-old Officer Eric Hill were killed in the wrecks. Matthew Dawson was critically injured.

 

The pickup truck that struck the first responders was a Ford F-250 – which traveled southbound on I-27, crossed over the median and struck one Lubbock police officer and two Lubbock firefighters. That vehicle came to a rest in an embankment. The driver of the vehicle was not driving in the single lane – as required by law.

 

Move Over – It’s the Law

If you’ve ever been stranded on the side of a road, you know how dangerous and unnerving it can be.  Cars and trucks speed by – only inches away, leave too little margin for error and could so easily result in a disastrous crash.

 

America’s first responders – police, fire, EMT’s – face this peril every day in the line of duty. 

Tow truck drivers, highway workers, utility workers and others whose jobs sometimes require that they park their vehicle on the roadway or the side of the road are also at risk.

To keep people from being killed or injured in these situations, all fifty states now have mandatory “Move Over” laws.  If you see a vehicle with emergency lights or flashers on, you are required to move over a lane and slow down.

More than 150 law enforcement officers have been killed since 1997 after being struck by vehicles along America’s highways.  In fact, traffic-related incidents, including vehicle crashes, are one of the leading causes of death for law enforcement officers.

In 2017, 47 officers lost their lives in traffic-related incidents, with nine officers struck and killed outside their vehicles. Already in 2019, responder fatalities include 7 law enforcement officers.  From 2007 to 2017, 39 percent of law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty were lost in traffic-related incidents.

Many have been seriously injured.  This is a tragedy and completely preventable.  Credit: https://www.transportation.gov/

 

Our thoughts and our prayers go out to the families that were injured or killed.  We need to learn from this experience, which did not have to happen. Drive carefully and watch your speed.

 

Even when we do things right, bad things can happen. Safety should be our number one concern.

 

Call Gerald Fugit Law Firm at:  432-332-1661 to schedule consultation.

 

Sign that says to move over and to watch your speed.

 

Back To Work Again

Now that we’re all back to work, we need to keep our eyes and ears open, as regards to safety on the job. Focus on safety practices from the moment you enter the workplace, until you’re back at home for the day/night. Pay particular attention to safety when you return to work after the festive season.

 

Are you 100% focused on how you should do your job?

The job itself can be difficult enough.  Do you get frustrated when the boss switches things up – or when the equipment is giving you grief?  The cold weather and rain brings on other dangerous hardships.  We need to deal with the rain that makes equipment slippery and non-responsive.

 

After a vacation, even when employees have had plenty of sleep, they need a period of time to ease into their work processes. Safety issues will take a back seat because their “head isn’t in the game”.  They’ve had their minds off the job and it will take them a little while to make sure that they’re working safely.

 

It’s all too common for workers to remain in “holiday mode”.  A lack of proper attention to the task at hand – especially in the more hazardous areas – can have tragic consequences.

 

Keep focus on the procedures and follow the rules.  Rules are definitely in place for good reasons – even if we don’t agree with all of them. Safety needs to be applied with skills and knowledge. Only use the correct tools.

 

Even though they’ve worked hard and earned their vacations – oil field people might not have their minds on the job when they get back.  That’s where they can make mistakes. That’s where people can get hurt.

 

Natural gas is produced from shale reservoirs and is known as shale gas.  A shale gas well can have a mixture of 85 per cent hydro and then lesser amounts of ethane, propane, butane and pentane. Impurities can be present in large proportions and include carbon dioxide, helium, nitrogen and hydrogen sulphide. These gases can kill you if you become overexposed to them.

 

Adjust your instruments. Concentrate on what you’re doing.  Operate in a safe environment. If you see something that isn’t right, don’t just let it pass by you.  Take the initiative to fix it.

 

That’s what safety is all about.  We need to remember that we can all lose focus.  When that happens, acknowledge it and then do something about it. When we realize the we’re not thinking clearly, we need to stop and check everything to make sure the equipment is good and to review the job itself.

 

Only proceed when you know with certainty that the job will get done safely.

 

Your families depend on you.  Actually, we all depend on you to bring in the oil. Please be careful.  Call our office if you do get hurt.  We’ll go to bat for you. Your company won’t.  Workman’s Compensation has monetary defaults and limits your ability for a proper payoff.  Call our office.

 

Call the Gerald Fugit Law Firm at:  432-332-1661 to schedule your consultation.

 

Is It Safe To Go Back To Work After a Holiday Break?

Man doing construction in a safety suit and a safety hat.

PART ONE:

It’s a fairly common habit of human nature to be less aware of safety hazards after being off from work for an extended holiday.  Even though we’re not purposefully neglectful, we need some time to get back into the scheme of things. 

 

Employers probably have a stack of piled work orders to accomplish.  They might push their employees to hustle it up and get ‘er done.  Employees naturally care about their jobs and want to get their projects done – so that the boss doesn’t berate them. This could be a recipe for disaster.

 

Safety protocols need to be carefully followed, no matter what the time of year is or how much needs to get done. This time of year is not the time to skimp on safety. We need to be one hundred per cent focused on safety procedures.

Although I don’t think it’s a good idea, some employees “party hearty” when they’re off from work.  They may or may not be well rested. Often employees rely on the ebb and flow of getting up early, getting ready for work, working, eating properly and getting well rested at night.  When that pattern is interrupted, so are their thoughts of safety.

 

At workplaces where heavy equipment is used, it might be a good idea to sponsor a “Coffee and Snack Break”, right after the holidays.  After the break, the Crew Boss could go over the basics of safety.  I’m sure there will be groans heard all over the place.  Doesn’t matter.  Have a discussion regarding safety, so that everyone is on board. Take people through their paces to get the equipment up and running safely.

 

  • Look out for your co-workers and remind them, too.
  • If necessary, stop the work – in order to address potential hazards. 


Is the First Day Back to Work – the Most Dangerous?

 

Many people go back to work with a bad attitude.  There are tons of jokes on Facebook regarding the dread of going back to work after a weekend or a holiday.  They call it by many different names – such as “Monday Morning Blues”.  Or, a case of “the Mondays”.

 

That poor attitude and lack of focus can cause all sorts of safety issues and accidents. Make sure that your head is back in the game before messing with heavy equipment or road machines. Do a quick self-check to make sure to re-focus.

Ask yourself these four questions before proceeding:

  • Am I putting myself or others at risk?
  • Am I prepared to continue to work safely?
  • Am I focused on what needs to get done?
  • Am I ready to act to do it safely?

 

Some people act like they know everything, But, my mother used to say, “It’s all fun and games until someone loses an eye.” 

 

Keep an eye out for safety – no matter what! Nothing else in more important.

 

If you have been injured in a Work Place accident – Give the experienced Law Office of Gerald Fugit a call for advice.  We are definitely here to help.

 

Call Gerald Fugit Law Firm at: (432) 332-1661 to schedule your consultation.

 

Man drilling, with a safety suit and a safety hat on.