By: Karl Weisser

June 2014

National Safety month is celebrated every June, and each year the National Safety Council selects a motto as the embodiment of the themes to promote safety.  This year, the motto is “Safety: it takes all of us”. Each week has been dedicated to specific issues that the general public is encouraged to research and become more knowledgeable.  This year’s themes are:  preventing prescription drug abuse, stopping slips, trips, and falls, being always aware of your surroundings, and finally a focus on putting an end to distracted driving. Here is a brief description of each week and recommendations from the National Safety Council.

Week 1: June 1-7 Prevent Prescription Drug Abuse
Prescription drug abuse has become a rising issue in the past several years. This is in part due to the fact that many people view prescription drugs safer than other illegal drugs but are unaware of the addictive nature and dangers of prescribed medications. According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health from 1997 to 2007, the milligram-per-person use of prescription opioids, or “pain-killers”, has increased from 74 mg to 369 mg, an increase of more than 400%. An effective four-step plan should be put into place in order to reduce these numbers and create a safer community. Educating adults, teens, and children about appropriate dosage, side effects of the drug, and the dangers of drug abuse would be the first step in the prevention plan.  The second important step is monitoring. Adults should monitor their children and teens on how often they take the prescription. The government should do more to closely monitor doctors and pharmacies on how often they prescribe opioids, especially ones that are commonly linked to drug abuse. The third step, proper medication disposal, will help decrease the supply of extra drugs in the home. The final step in achieving this drug abuse prevention plan is enforcement.  Enforcement requires action at every level from the state authorities and law enforcement to the home. Following these guidelines would decrease prescription drug abuse, resulting in a safer and healthier environment.

Week 2: June 8-14 Stop Slips, Trips, and Falls
Slips, trips and falls are the second leading cause of injuries and deaths in the United Sates. The National Safety Council (NSC) states that falls accounted for more than 25,000 fatalities in 2009. Incidents occur both at home and work and many can be prevented with proper education and adequate housekeeping. It is important to maintain a clean and organized work environment to reduce the hazard of tripping or falling. Several factors that contribute to slips, trips and falls include wet or slippery surfaces, environmental conditions, inadequate lighting, changes in elevation, climbing up and down stairs/ladders, and housekeeping. Common fall injuries include the head, hip, back, shoulder, wrist, elbow knee, ankle, and/or the foot. Creating a spacious and organized environment can help reduce the occurance of slip, trips and falls.  It is important to educate all employees, families, and friends about fall prevention.

Week 3: June 15-21 Be Aware of Your Surroundings
The third week of June is dedicated to being aware of your surroundings. Whether you are driving, working, and/or walking it is always important to take precautions and to be aware of what is going on around you at all times. A few precautions to take while driving includes making certain you have enough gas to get to your destination and back, remember to roll your windows, lock all car doors, and to avoid parking in isolated areas when it is dark, especially when you feel threatened. While walking or running, it is encouraged to take a friend, a cell phone and/or let a friend or family member know where you are going and when you plan on returning.  Always walk/run on the sidewalk facing traffic to avoid cars from driving up behind you. These precautions can be taken everyday during typical activities. It is important to remember that you can never be too safe about your surroundings.

Week 4: June 22-28 Put an End to Distracted Driving
Finally, one of the biggest and most continuous issues we face in America today is distracted driving.  Every day, there are more than 9 fatalities and over 1,000 injuries in automobile accidents related to distracted driving.  All of this tragedy can easily be prevented. There are numerous campaigns to help raise public awareness about distracted driving. Visual, manual, and cognitive distractions are contributors to automobile incidents every day. Visual distraction is when you take your eyes off of the road to look at something else, manual distraction is taking your hands off of the wheel, and cognitive distractions is when you take your mind off of driving and focus your attention on something else. Eating, drinking and using the cell phone require all three distractions and are highly discouraged when driving. Cell phones are the biggest component related to distracted driving, and local and state law enforcements are taking initiatives to write tickets to drivers on their cell phones in the hopes of eliminating distracted driving.

June is a very important month for employers, families, and individuals to be encouraged to focus each week on the specific safety topics.  If we succeed we will help create a safer environment for everyone to live in.  Like all the topics outlined above, education is the most important source for helping people understand why safety is so important and affects every aspect of our lives. Individually we may be safe but it requires everyone to work together to achieve safety.