Category Archives: Safety with Uncle Nicky

THE BUSINESS “CULTURE OF SAFETY” by Nick Nicholson

It has been said that to make a successful business requires vision, drive, persistence and constant newer and bigger goals. A really big aspect is to ignore the naysayers who will tell you it can’t be done and there are lots of those.

One of the biggest mistakes, however, that business leaders make is not making “safety” a prime factor in the business. So many look at it as a “cost of doing business” and forget it or place it low on the priority list. If a workforce is part of the business, that workforce will take its leadership from the top and a low safety priority spreads very quickly. That’s the beginning of a downfall.

There is a “trickle down” effect that eventually gets to the customers and “word of mouth” leads to distrust and that leads to failure. It may happen very suddenly as these things tend to gain momentum. You don’t ever want to be in that “scramble” position.

So, where does a safety culture begin? It should start with the vision. No venture should begin unless it can be done safely. That key element must be passed from the leader to the first employee and everyone that is hired after that. Each person must be made aware that he or she is responsible for the safety of the whole unit. When any safety issue arises, the particular aspect involved should stop until the issue is overcome or, at least, “risk” evaluated. When it is overcome, it must be passed along immediately to educate the entire workforce. If that results in a policy, then each person must be informed, trained in prevention, and it must be verified that it is understood.

Any injury is a cost that the business can’t afford. Governments have spent billions reacting to injuries and drawing up rules and procedures for the prevention of injury repetition. These must become part of your business from the leader to the newest employee. There are very high costs involved that can be reduced to a minimum if, the workforce, the customers, and the general public are protected from injury. It is a wasted cost of doing business IF, management is not fully behind it and the workforce is not going to participate.

When a mistake happens, and they will, the organization must be doing well enough to override the costs. An extremely big part of that is controlling the expenditures as they relate to injuries and doing it very quickly.

The government intervention has resulted in a “no fault” insurance program to protect businesses from being sued by injured workers. The word “compensation” is often related to this intervention but the cost of this can be enormous. Originally designed to protect the business from crippling overheads, the administrative costs of government intervention today, can place a very heavy burden on business, unless you know how to minimize it.

Minimizing compensation costs requires full attention from the day of the injury. What many leaders do not realize is that governmental administration fees far outweigh the actual rehabilitation costs of any injury. Percentages in the thousands result in certain groups of employers paying billions of dollars more than actual injury costs. Action taken on the day of injury can save millions.

There is a partial solution. A safety culture within the organization, making everybody responsible, held to a high standard by continual reporting to the top executive is key. The slightest “ripple” is cause for immediate action.

First, is the culture of safety within your own organization. Making Bruce-in-safety-equipmentsure that everybody, from executive sales to the janitor understands that he or she is responsible for stopping what they believe to be an unsafe action, circumstance or hazard immediately before someone is injured. It also must be understood by all, that such action is to be applauded, not criticized. Only then, will the safety culture work. At no time, should any employee hesitate or fear reaction or reprisal from above, for stopping production due to a real or perceived safety issue. That last statement is paramount to producing a positive attitude within the workforce. The human brain delights in the feeling of being acknowledged, being listened to and knowing that the “boss” cares about each of them, personally. Again, it goes to the top.

Second, somebody must take the time to mitigate administration costs of the “no-fault” insurance system. “Injury-free” does not exclude an organization from high costs created by other businesses from past experiences. That governmental cost is built in as soon as the first employee is hired. That automatic government cost can be mitigated, either by the owner/CEO, a competent safety professional or human resources administrator, depending on the size of the organization. That action is key to keeping your profits from going to the government.

So, a “safety culture” is an internal responsibility system owned, respected and practiced by the entire workforce on a daily basis. There is a tremendous amount of information involved with this. The prime function is to keep everybody from injury or everything from collateral damage. The secondary function is to constantly embrace this process and encourage all to participate. The third is to set into place a process that minimizes the automatic governmental cost of being in business. That, by the way, is the “safety cost of doing business”. Ensure that it is kept to the bare minimum.

About the Author

Nick Nicholson, is a retired safety practitioner who spent many years researching the human behaviour factors of driver and pedestrian actions. Specifically, he spent 25 of those years devoted to highway crash investigations, regulatory compliance, the design, implementation and presentation of safety programs. Nick enjoyed many hours presenting professional driver enhancement training to adult participants.

As a long time Fleet Safety Council Member (1988) and the Founding Chair (1992-1995) of Council’s Hamilton-Niagara Chapter, he presents his opinions in hopes of improving the safety knowledge of readers. Nick is a firm believer in human advancement through positive attitudes, solution thinking and the understanding that the beauty of life is always in your hands.

Old Uncle Nicky’s Opinions are his own and in no way reflect the opinions of Fleet Safety Council

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What’s your tire plan for snow? By Nick Nicholson

There is a story about how a novice driver came into the house to say she was stuck in the snow. Her mother advised, “Rock it.”  Later, Mother went out to check on the progress. The car wasn’t moving at all but the driver was sitting in the front seat rocking her body back and forth.

Many people do not understand what happens when snow invades our world. We put oil in a pan to keep the food from sticking, we put grease on a bearing to make it rotate freely and we dry our hands off so we can grip the top of a jar to open it. All of these things operate on the same principle. Friction reduces with a lubricant. Snow is a lubricant between our boots or tires and the traction surface. If we could wipe all the snow off, we’d have good traction.

Every so often we get “stuck in the snow”. It might be right from, your parking space where you left the vehicle before it snowed. The correct answer is “rock it”. (the vehicle, not your body) If you have one-half inch of movement, you can get the vehicle out but, it takes a lot of patience and a cool head.

The object is to move the vehicle WITHOUT EVER SPINNING THE TIRES!  There is this lubricant between your tires and the ground called snow.  Sometimes, there is snow build up under your vehicle creating a greater resistance to movement. If you spin your tires on this stuff, it turns to ice and you lose any traction you might have had. That’s it! Go call a tow!

With a manual transmission, use the accelerator and clutch.  With an winter pictureautomatic, use the accelerator and the brake. With your half-inch of movement, put the vehicle in gear. Without accelerating to any degree, allow the vehicle to roll ahead until it stops on its own. Apply the brakes and change gears to the opposite direction. Again, release the brake and allow the vehicle to roll back until it stops on its own. As the vehicle moves, it is creating channels for the tires to roll in where there is now less resistance.  At the same time, any snow built up underneath is breaking down, again, creating less resistance. Repeat this process over and over again. Do NOT spin the tires!

With extreme patience, you will eventually find you have created long channels for your tires and snow height underneath that is broken down or pushed out of the way. Your vehicle will begin to gain small amounts of speed, all on its own with this gentle maneuvering with no resistance.  Depending on the height of the snow ahead of you, when you figure the channels are long enough that you can get enough speed to break through the snow piled up ahead, you are ready to try getting out. Resist the urgency to rush. Take your time.

Back the vehicle to the rear of your tire track channels and stop. Change gears, release the brakes and gently accelerate forward gaining speed through your channels without spinning and by now you should be able to break into the snow. With the same pressure on the accelerator, keep it going until you come to a place where you know you are free of the snow resistance on the front of the vehicle. If necessary, repeat, repeat and repeat until you’re out. Persistence until you run out of patience.

The only times I have ever experienced this failing is when ice ruts take you off the road into a ditch while making your channels (seven days later we were able to get a tow truck in far enough to get me out) or when you have a loaded, single drive axle, truck with a tag axle that is down. In the latter case, the tag wouldn’t allow the drive wheels enough traction to get it to move that half inch.

In winter time, it’s a good idea to leave your vehicle with a full fuel tank. This reduces the risk of moisture forming inside the tank resulting in water in your fuel. Another useful idea is to lift your wipers off the windshield so they don’t freeze to the glass and cover your windshield and mirrors to keep ice from forming.  A tea towel hung over your door before it’s closed can keep your doors from freezing on certain cars built without gutters above the doors.

If you are going into extremely cold climates, get rid of your aluminum rims before you go. Aluminum will contract so much in the cold that the tires will lose the seal and you’ll find all flats. Remember, in that type of climate, diesel fuel will gel up and become useless.

If you are on the road and have a CB radio, make sure it’s on so you get early warning of pileups or obstructions ahead.

Little tips;  If you are on an icy road, you can sometimes use the soft snow at the sides to get minimal traction. Driving through slush wets your brakes to the point ice forms – apply the brakes in a safe zone after slush to ensure the ice is broken off, giving you brakes again. Make sure you bleed those air brake tanks.

Keep your people safe.

The beauty of life is in your hands.
THINK SAFETY ……… EVERYWHERE ……….. ALL THE TIME

About the Author

Nick Nicholson, is a retired safety practitioner who spent many years researching the human behaviour factors of driver and pedestrian actions. Specifically, he spent 25 of those years devoted to highway crash investigations, regulatory compliance, the design, implementation and presentation of safety programs. Nick enjoyed many hours presenting professional driver enhancement training to adult participants.

As a long time Fleet Safety Council Member (1988) and the Founding Chair (1992-1995) of Council’s Hamilton-Niagara Chapter, he presents his opinions in hopes of improving the safety knowledge of readers. Nick is a firm believer in human advancement through positive attitudes, solution thinking and the understanding that the beauty of life is always in your hands.

Old Uncle Nicky’s Opinions are his own and in no way reflect the opinions of Fleet Safety Council

Winter Driving Starts With You By Nick Nicholson

Let me begin with a disclaimer.  There is no way I can cover all of the hazards of winter driving  here but, hopefully, I can cover some of the main obstacles you will encounter. Your best teacher is experience, and you just have to hope that the experiences you have are survivable and that you can learn quickly from them. You must get the “feel” of your vehicle.

The difference between summer and winter driving has to do with road-surface and friction or traction. In the summer, we basically have three types of surface to consider: various grades of gravel, dry or wet asphalt or concrete. There are some other considerations that come into play like transmission type, front, rear or all-wheel drive, weight and the type of equipment installed on your vehicle. That’s it.  BEWARE! The biggest fatal collisions in winter occur on sunny days!

Winter has a whole variance of conditions and surfaces to consider.  Those mentioned above and those affected by temperature, moisture, thickness and rigidity of that moisture. Terms like road spray, slick ice, hard ice, snow, slush, thick snow, snow drifts, snow plow berms and hard snow banks all fit into this category.  As drivers, we have constant decisions to make, not just about our driving but, what surface we’re driving on and what changing conditions are taking place as we move along. Often, visibility, lighting or shadows play a key part too.

So, winter driving takes much more brain power to handle and your brain has to be in gear as well as that of the vehicle. Your brain has to be active long before you get near your vehicle. Besides the usual vehicle pre-check, weather reports, particularly temperature, becomes vital to your plans. Traffic reports and routing may enter the equation. If you have the opportunity, practice handling your vehicle in snow on an open lot before venturing out. Test traction: stop, go and slide.

Make sure you clean the vehicle off so that you can see all available directions. Mechanics will tell you that starting the engine and immediately driving won’t hurt your vehicle. They may be right but, I have always insisted on warming up until you are getting warm air coming up through your windshield vents. Otherwise, you will likely get a few feet and have to stop because you still can’t see due to inside vapour. Bright sunshine in the eyes is the worst when this happens.

One enormous clue that you have is that when the road spray stops, you’re on ice. You know and must adjust for ramps, bridges, exits and shadows that freeze first. Slow down before these places and coast straight through them without making any sudden moves.  Wind, weight change, brake freezing, overpass heights and slopes will change the dynamics of your vehicle. Snow on the pavement raises your height so, if your roof clearance is tight, be careful.

Before and after intersections are likely to be icy. Car drivers love to spin their tires making more ice. Road surfaces built directly over hard rock faces will freeze first. (Canadian Shield).

Use your engine to control the vehicle instead of braking where you can. Gearing down provides much better control for winter driving. Know that your normal stopping distance has lengthened significantly. Your vehicle should be straight before using trailer brakes and remember your weight is increasing as snow and ice accumulate under the vehicle.

You will encounter “snow plow parades” and you are better to stay winter scenebehind them rather than taking a chance on passing. You know they do relatively short sections along political boundary lines before turning off. They will create snow berms at exits. Stay straight to hit those and be expecting them to throw your vehicle to one side so keep steady power to your drive wheels and be ready to correct with the steering until you are completely through.

The number one rule of thumb in winter is to is to drive slow enough that you can see and keep control, drive smoothly all the times, make no sudden moves and stay off the brakes. Try to get the longest visibility you can and know that inexperienced drivers will create hazards directly in-front-of-you.

Be visible yourself.  LED tail lights usually are not hot enough to melt snow so clean them frequently. If you step out of your vehicle, make sure you are visible to others. Safety vests are good but, strobe lights attached to you are better.

Remember, there are no guarantees!  You are on your own out there so be as prepared as possible and think before you make any moves. Learn your own moves but learn everybody else’s moves as well because the stupid ones will make them again and again.  You can’t fix stupid.
Keep your people safe.

The beauty of life is in your hands.
THINK SAFETY ……… EVERYWHERE ……….. ALL THE TIME

About the Author

Nick Nicholson, is a retired safety practitioner who spent many years researching the human behaviour factors of driver and pedestrian actions. Specifically, he spent 25 of those years devoted to highway crash investigations, regulatory compliance, the design, implementation and presentation of safety programs. Nick enjoyed many hours presenting professional driver enhancement training to adult participants.

As a long time Fleet Safety Council Member (1988) and the Founding Chair (1992-1995) of Council’s Hamilton-Niagara Chapter, he presents his opinions in hopes of improving the safety knowledge of readers. Nick is a firm believer in human advancement through positive attitudes, solution thinking and the understanding that the beauty of life is always in your hands.

Old Uncle Nicky’s Opinions are his own and in no way reflect the opinions of Fleet Safety Council

Prepare for WINTER WONDERLAND with Nick Nicholson

People tend to look back in awe at their childhood when we see those words. Magical days off from school, high snow drifts and angels in the snow. Mind you, we were shorter, everything was bigger. Somebody was there to warm you up when you came in and it was a cozy and carefree world. Today, we tend to “wonder” if we can make it through another “winter”!

Preparation is key to safely driving through winter. Time to get winter scenespecial equipment on board. Starting with you, pack winter gear to protect yourself because, no matter what you think, you cannot predict what elements are going to confront us out there. Whether you wear them or take them with you make sure you have warm winter socks and boots, gloves and a winter coat. Preferably a reflective coat or safety vest, and a small powerful flashlight. A small safety kit is a good idea too.

Think of your vital medications. Everybody seems to be prescribed something these days. Do you carry extras in case you can’t make it home when you think you will?

There was a famous tanker explosion near Cobourg back in 2007 where drivers were stranded in their vehicles for over 24 hours on a stretch of the 401 without food, water or toilet facilities. There was quite a hue and cry about that because supplies were brought to the emergency personal but not to stranded drivers along the exact same route. Are you prepared for that?

So, consider adding to your personal winter supplies, some sort of non-perishable food (energy bars, etc.), (canned) heat and container to melt snow or thaw water bottles, something to catch the human body’s waste products and a roll or two of toilet paper. A source of heat should be included in case you run out of fuel or lose electrical power in your vehicle.(“canned heat” with cigarette lighter is good.)

It wasn’t funny but, years ago, newspaper readers were amused at a photograph of a police officer desperately trying to make radio contact using the cruiser’s two-way when the entire front of the vehicle had been sheered off.

Look at your lifestyle to see what other things you might need and pack it all in a carry-on type case that you can bring inside to keep from freezing.

So, before you hit the road, is your vehicle ready for winter. Antifreeze, oil density, and winter tires are things to consider during the fall each year. Air brake freeze up and bleeder valves have to be a consideration. With foul-weather, certain things are going to change.

An excess of windshield-washer fluid is likely to be needed. A good ice scraper and snow brush will be necessary as well as lock-de-icer/anti-fog and probably a shovel. What do you have to assist the drive wheels in snow and ice conditions? Cat litter? Can you get the store clerks wagering on how many cats you own? How about the accumulation of snow and ice up-on-top of your vehicle. Will that have to be cleared, either for your own safety, as a courtesy to others or by law in certain jurisdictions? Then, of course, there’s always the weight of snow and ice accumulation on your vehicle.  Will that matter to you?

We don’t see chains as much as we used to but, some areas still require them. Do you really know where you are going to be before you get home again?

Winter trips take longer with the foul weather. Have you considered where you might be when you run out of hours or need to pull off for fatigue? The strain of winter driving can take much longer and exhaust you much quicker than a nice leisurely drive in the summer.

In bussing, are there special considerations you have to make for your passengers during winter as opposed to summer. “Ladies to the right” and “Gents to the left” doesn’t work well in snow banks and you just know they have to go more often. Seriously, though, you know somebody is going to carry something in the baggage area that will freeze. You also know that tourists leave their brain at home. Do they have something to wear besides those shorts they have on?

How about the load you’re carrying?  We know hard liquor doesn’t freeze but we are not so sure about the other liquids you might be lucky enough to be carrying. There’s a lot at stake.

There IS a solution to all of this you know. A driver from Mexico once told me to never drive North of Interstate 40 in the winter time. I didn’t say it was practical!
Keep your people safe.

The beauty of life is in your hands.
THINK SAFETY ……… EVERYWHERE ……….. ALL THE TIME

About the Author

Nick Nicholson, is a retired safety practitioner who spent many years researching the human behaviour factors of driver and pedestrian actions. Specifically, he spent 25 of those years devoted to highway crash investigations, regulatory compliance, the design, implementation and presentation of safety programs. Nick enjoyed many hours presenting professional driver enhancement training to adult participants.

As a long time Fleet Safety Council Member (1988) and the Founding Chair (1992-1995) of Council’s Hamilton-Niagara Chapter, he presents his opinions in hopes of improving the safety knowledge of readers. Nick is a firm believer in human advancement through positive attitudes, solution thinking and the understanding that the beauty of life is always in your hands.

Old Uncle Nicky’s Opinions are his own and in no way reflect the opinions of Fleet Safety Council

WHAT WE HAVE HERE IS A FAILURE …..by Nick Nicholson

Just before midnight on 3 Jan 1979 I fell roughly 20 feet onto ice. Once I caught my breath (not knowing I was in “shock”), I continued to work for another half hour or so and then decided my “sprain” might be something more so I drove myself to a hospital. There is a long story of how I got into the Emergency Department but I eventually did and I had a great humorous time with a pretty technician on our way to X-ray.

She took the X-rays and then became very quiet. I was trying to figure out what off-colour thing I had said to her when she stopped pushing my wheelchair at the intersection of two hallways. She left me and went down a hall to talk to someone. A guy pushing a laundry cart came along and said to me, “Well fellow, it appears that you’re in bad shape and they’re saying you’re never going to walk again!” “Gee, thanks, buddy. I needed to know that little tidbit of information.”

Apparently true, they couldn’t deal with my injury in-house so, they packed me into an ambulance and shipped me off to another hospital for an operation which I actually didn’t have for several days. Two or three more trips to the operating room and then infection set in. That was the beginning of a very long 2-year haul where in time, I learned how to walk again …… somewhat. Ultimately, they made me special boots that allowed me to walk normally for about the next 35 years.

The medical profession has one huge drawback. They are all divided into specialities and there is nobody that looks at the whole picture. Each, knows their job very well. Surgeons cut, drill, saw, and screw. Nurses dress wounds, clean and make sure your vitals are stable. Technicians do their thing and they all send reams of paper back and forth. The family doctor really doesn’t get involved. Keep in mind, I’m talking 40 years ago. I have little recent experience.

There is, or was, one big huge neglected area and that’s the patient’s mental condition. In my case, I became very depressed (on the inside). To me, I became useless and totally dependent upon other people. I had no purpose, I had no goals of my own and I was satisfied to do whatever anybody told me to do. This carried on long after I was supposedly healed and working again.

During this period I became a real “a– -whole”. My marriage broke up, I lost my home and the kids scattered anywhere but near me. My employer, so called friends and religious connections all disappeared and I tried for a while but, eventually, just gave up.

The lady that eventually became my new wife turned me around. She saw through it and with encouragement from her and by gaining confidence in a new job, we (together) eventually went on to accomplish (what to me were) great things. That famous “attitude” I often speak of, finally changed for the better.

Looking back, I think the medical profession should have been Nick-2015looking for, recognized and treated my mental ailment. The compensation board had not yet learned the lessons of the future. The employer did not supply what today, is called “modified work”. Had they, the outcome might have been very different. The real big secret is to get the patient’s mind away from self-examination. That turns into self-pity and it is a major mental destroyer of human beings. I was very, very lucky. I never contemplated suicide but, we know that happens, too.

From a safety practitioner point of view, if you can’t prevent, watch your injured workers carefully. Find something with real purpose that the worker can still do and get them going on it quickly. If it’s a long term injury then, a long term project is needed. A city firefighter I once met designed maps for each truck showing the nooks, crannies, and hazards of neighbourhoods. One of our drivers “easy coded” customer locations across several cities still being used today. It can be done. There are projects that people can do. All you have to do is find them and keep them busy. Always remember, when the injured worker is on “modified” they are saving the company far more money in compensation costs than they ever could earn for the company working their normal hourly rated job.

The worker needs to know that for self-esteem, the fellow co-workers need to know that so they don’t minimize the value of the worker and the company “bean counter” needs to know that so that they can see the true bottom line. Of course, you have to convince the CEO of all this first.  It must come from the very top.

A broken body still has a brain. Do whatever you have to, to make “modified” succeed. Show the workforce the advantages that the injured worker creates, especially if it makes functions easier and better for them. The advantage of “modified work” must be communicated to the entire workforce and suddenly, your job becomes a whole lot easier.

If you don’t, you’ll find that you can now complete the quote from the very beginning of this article: “WHAT WE HAVE HERE IS A FAILURE TO ….. COMMUNICATE.”
Keep your people safe.

The beauty of life is in your hands.
THINK SAFETY ……… EVERYWHERE ……….. ALL THE TIME


The boots I still wear daily from that 1979 injury:

Nick's BootsI’m not accustomed to making “selfies”. I held the camera so that I could see it on the screen and therefore the boots appear to be on the wrong feet. The little pouch? My Nitro spray.

Boot manufacturer- these boots built Feb 2014: Ambulatory Footwear – http://www.afw.ca/
Possible source of light duty (“modified”) jobs:

http://www.safetyawakenings.com/examples-of-light-duty-transitional-jobs-claim-reduction/

About the Author

Nick Nicholson, is a retired safety practitioner who spent many years researching the human behaviour factors of driver and pedestrian actions. Specifically, he spent 25 of those years devoted to highway crash investigations, regulatory compliance, the design, implementation and presentation of safety programs. Nick enjoyed many hours presenting professional driver enhancement training to adult participants.

As a long time Fleet Safety Council Member (1988) and the Founding Chair (1992-1995) of Council’s Hamilton-Niagara Chapter, he presents his opinions in hopes of improving the safety knowledge of readers. Nick is a firm believer in human advancement through positive attitudes, solution thinking and the understanding that the beauty of life is always in your hands.

Old Uncle Nicky’s Opinions are his own and in no way reflect the opinions of Fleet Safety Council

APPRECIATION by Nick Nicholson

Recently I was very honoured to receive the Risk/Safety Professional of the Year Award from nominations submitted by Glen Harvey and George Skotidas, fellow Members of our FSC Chapter.

Inside, I don’t really feel I deserve this but, I am thrilled that the most important people in my life and that surround me, think I do and voted to make it happen. Thank You, one and all!

This has me thinking about appreciation. It is the absolute greatest feeling to be appreciated for something and it is a touch that happens to so few people. Criticism, on the other hand, we can find everywhere and with just about everything. Even our jokes involve criticism and somebody, somewhere feels “put down”. It is much easier to believe the bad stuff and consequently our self-esteem suffers.

Talking “sensitivity” around our Chapter is a bit of a joke because they all know that I produced a Sensitivity Course that was adopted by our Federal Government. This, they think is funny because I am probably the most insensitive person you’ll ever meet. Archie Bunker comes to mind.

However, the very first sensitivity course I ever took was presented by a young lady (tragically died shortly after) from the City of Mississauga who demonstrated to us how a gesture of appreciation makes everybody feel good. As an exercise of the class at lunch time, we were to compile and deliver a message about the service of the “take-out” food establishment that we had collectively called to supply our order.

It was amazing. The attention we paid to the call taker, the quality of the food preparation, the packaging, and the delivery person was very detailed. After the meal, we went on speaker phone and called the manager of the establishment to express our gratitude to each person and asked him to forward our experience on to his staff. Wow, what a wonderful incident! Our effort took a small amount of time, at no cost to us, and was done on our lunch break and yet, we all felt wonderful. My father often used an expression: “The hand that bestows the flowers retains most of the scent.” He was right.

Conversely, I once had a boss who flatly declared that he didn’t believe in incentives for his staff.  In his opinion, he paid us to work and anything and everything we did was expected. He quite often came out with the appropriate words to thank people or profess “a job well done”, but it always came across as being phoney lip service after that. He demonstrated that he had no respect for the people working for him and looking back, I’m not surprised to see a fast turnover of staff and a large volume of “whiners” and “moaners” among those who stayed. It was like a pocket of pus infiltrating the company!

In my memory, every individual who ever tried to take it upon themselves to improve that organization in some way was “shot down” by this boss. It automatically left you feeling unwanted, left out, inept and unwilling to suggest anything helpful in the future. Very quickly that feeling gets around to other staff, the customers and the general public. It becomes a hard environment to live in. The opinion about the company suffers and eventually the business dies. It’s a horrible feeling to watch a beautiful and winning concept wash down the drain.

Both appreciation and criticism can be given at no cost by the Nick-2015provider but, the end result for all is the difference between what’s extremely good and extremely bad. What do you think is preferable?

I don’t know how my competition felt the other day during this award process but, I’m willing to bet, because of the kind of people they are, that they were pleased for me. I probably had a distinct advantage because I am older than they are and have had more time to devote to the profession.

I know that there still are “the takers” of the world but, I suggest to you that those people do not feel good about themselves. They may get things for nothing to a point but, eventually, it comes back to haunt them in one fashion or another.

Safety is a very interesting and rewarding business. The sharing of “safety” itself is a wonderful feeling.  If one can influence somebody, anybody, into leading a safer life that keeps them from harm then, we all live better lives.

Keep the “shiny side up” folks, whether you are driving or just living life. Always look for the “good” in people. It is there, somewhere. Appreciate it and it comes back tenfold!

Keep your people safe.

The beauty of life is in your hands.
THINK SAFETY ……… EVERYWHERE ……….. ALL THE TIME

About the Author

Nick Nicholson, is a retired safety practitioner who spent many years researching the human behaviour factors of driver and pedestrian actions. Specifically, he spent 25 of those years devoted to highway crash investigations, regulatory compliance, the design, implementation and presentation of safety programs. Nick enjoyed many hours presenting professional driver enhancement training to adult participants.

As a long time Fleet Safety Council Member (1988) and the Founding Chair (1992-1995) of Council’s Hamilton-Niagara Chapter, he presents his opinions in hopes of improving the safety knowledge of readers. Nick is a firm believer in human advancement through positive attitudes, solution thinking and the understanding that the beauty of life is always in your hands.

Old Uncle Nicky’s Opinions are his own and in no way reflect the opinions of Fleet Safety Council

WHAT’CHA DRIVIN’ ?? by Nick Nicholson

Recently, after one of my posts negatively mentioning 10 & 2 steering, I was questioned as to what the proper steering technique should be today. (By the way, if those numbers mean nothing to you, it’s a reference to the hands on an analog clock. 10, being two digits left of the top dead centre of the steering wheel and 2 being an equal distance to the right.) The driver’s hands grip the steering wheel at these two points. Theoretically, full control of steering at all times.

Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with full 10 & 2 holding Nick-2015your thumbs outside the steering wheel but, you should know the reason. That advice historically came from farmers who, driving tractors without power steering, worked among the furrowed fields that would catch the front wheels, turning them quickly which, in turn, spun the steering wheel. The results were many broken thumbs when the spokes on the steering wheel caught the driver’s hand while spinning. It hurt like hell, the tractor went out of control, and the next month’s workload just became harder. The 10 & 2 hand location gave their arms the necessary power to grip and control the steering wheel in a semi-stable position.

Most of today’s vehicles are built with all the comforts you can think of. Ads on TV right now are advertising equipment to drown out the engine sounds. I remember rear mounted engines that you couldn’t hear and you had to watch the rpm’s to know when to shift. Of course, that’s covered now, as well. Almost all new vehicles, including trucks, are automatic – no shifting required!

My recommendation for steering today on vehicles with power everything? Four (4) and eight (8). Why? The ergonomic position for the driver is the most comfortable. You don’t have aching shoulders from reaching at the end of the day. If armrests are available, the elbow on the armrest allows the wrist and fingers to make the minimum steering movements needed to control the vehicle on modern paved highways. Drivers oversteering is a bigger problem these days.

When airbags deploy, they come from the centre of the steering wheel. The blast is significant to save you but, the bag itself wraps out over the wheel portion where your arms are trapped with a “death-grip” at the 10 & 2 position. That portion of airbag coming to be supported by the steering wheel has large exhaust holes, now facing forward in the vehicle, right over the backs of your arms. Extremely hot gasses are exploding out through those holes resulting in severe burns. Alternatively, if your 10 & 2 grip on the steering wheel was loose, your arms are blown out to either side increasing the chances of broken arms and an uncontrolled vehicle.

In any emergency steering procedure, you hands will automatically go to the top of the wheel in the hand over hand motion. If there is a lot of correcting to do for several moments, no other method can turn the wheel fast enough unless you are “palming” the wheel. The chance of losing contact with the wheel increases significantly when palming. Very difficult to re-grasp during a collision.

You’ve all heard of ESP. Most of you will not likely associate those letters with modern vehicles where they mean: Electronic Stability Program. So, what is that you may ask?

ESP is a computer operated program that automatically improves a vehicle’s stability by detecting and reducing a loss of traction (skidding). When ESP detects the loss of steering control, it automatically applies the brakes to help “steer” the vehicle where the driver intends to go. Braking is automatically applied to wheels individually, such as the outer front wheel to counter oversteer or the inner rear wheel to counter understeer. Some ESP systems also reduce engine power until control is regained.  It is so fast that, you realize the vehicle is correcting but you can’t figure out how until after it is done. You automatically think “correct by steering into the skid” and it’s corrected before you can move.

Another piece of modern technology is ABS. An anti-lock braking system or anti-skid braking system (ABS) is an automobile safety system that allows the wheels on a motor vehicle to maintain tractive contact with the road surface according to driver inputs while braking, preventing the wheels from locking up (ceasing rotation) and avoiding uncontrolled skidding. It is an automated system that uses the principles of threshold braking and cadence braking which were practiced by skilful drivers with previous generation braking systems. It does this at a much faster rate and with better control than a driver could manage.

This can surprise you when it activates. You often feel a rapid pulsation under your foot with hydraulic brakes. That’s the system braking until just before wheel lock-up and releasing again. You may feel a vibration in the seat. The single biggest difference with ABS is that you continue to “hard” brake never giving up on steering and you look and steer to where you want to go.

Keep your people safe.
The beauty of life is in your hands.
THINK SAFETY ……… EVERYWHERE ……….. ALL THE TIME

Sources: Wikipedia

About the Author

Nick Nicholson, is a retired safety practitioner who spent many years researching the human behaviour factors of driver and pedestrian actions. Specifically, he spent 25 of those years devoted to highway crash investigations, regulatory compliance, the design, implementation and presentation of safety programs. Nick enjoyed many hours presenting professional driver enhancement training to adult participants.

As a long time Fleet Safety Council Member (1988) and the Founding Chair (1992-1995) of Council’s Hamilton-Niagara Chapter, he presents his opinions in hopes of improving the safety knowledge of readers. Nick is a firm believer in human advancement through positive attitudes, solution thinking and the understanding that the beauty of life is always in your hands.

Old Uncle Nicky’s Opinions are his own and in no way reflect the opinions of Fleet Safety Council

“FREE” by Nick Nicholson

Now there’s a word that gets people excited. We see it everywhere in advertising and more often than not, we find there’s always a catch. Buy this one at an extremely inflated price and you get that one for “Absolutely Free”. Yeah, sure! Most notably, searching for “free” things on the Internet, one usually finds it’s a free trial of something or “free” access to the location where you can buy something. Seldom, do you find that something is actually “free”.

There is another saying out there and that’s “You only get what you pay for!”  That one, I find, can be the most frustrating. Our world seems to be flooded with scams of every nature. Even though you’re quite willing to pay for the knowledge that will enhance your mind, you seldom get the whole picture. Generally, you receive an introduction to something and if you want more, you have to buy the next segment followed by another, and another, and another.

It’s sort of like fishing. The word “free” is the hook and once you’re “hooked”, it becomes a license to steal from you. So often that word is attached to something manipulating and if we go for it, we ended up feeling cheated which is not good for our self-esteem. No wonder our population is steeped in depression, self-doubt and a lack of confidence.

It took me quite a few years jumping from job to job but I finally

Nick with Awards

found a profession that is as close, in my opinion, as you can get to free sharing. That is the “safety world”. In the transportation sector especially, what you teach others bounces back because the driver that learns the safety technique can be the same driver facing you on the road.

Yes, there are thousands of organizations who will sell you abstract safety courses and programs, safety equipment, safety methods and so on but on the whole, the people within the safety industry are the most willing to share, of any group I’ve ever come across. They are a different breed.

Although we all have to make a living somehow and at a level where we can survive and accumulate a few of the niceties of life, the people who generate toward the safety world seem to be generous with information to a fault. At the same time, you can get the greatest feeling of accomplishment when you see evidence of success in programs you’ve shared. There is no greater feeling than realizing that someone that you’ve touched has avoided death or serious harm by the knowledge that you’ve shared. It doesn’t come back to you often but when it does, you just want to stick your chest out with pride. It’s a wonderful feeling of triumph.

So what does your career path hold for you? It doesn’t matter what “dead-end” job you are now involved in, safety is part of what you are doing.  You can take the experience of what you are doing now, add to it what experience you’ve had in the past and sift out the safety aspects.  With a little training, some deep thinking, and some drive, you can find the path to becoming a safety practitioner that can take you all over the world. One thing that has happened over the past twenty years or so is that “safety” has finally become an “in-demand”, respectable profession. You will find that any successful company or organization has a real safety element.  It seems the more committed to safety an organization is, the more successful they are, from the giants of industry to the smallest of operations. Some have paid dearly to reach that understanding.

If you happen to be in or are interested in, the transportation field, I have found it a great region of safety to get into. There are a great number of specialties within safety that you can aim for and they touch upon just about any profession you can think of.

One of my greatest delights working within the transportation safety area was joining an organization called Fleet Safety Council. I’ve just received a certificate showing that I have been a part of that organization for the past 29 years and I have to say that a great amount of my learning has come directly through FSC. You know what?  It was FREE! Yeah, every once in a while it costs you a couple of bucks but for the most part, there was no cost besides my time and commitment.

If you live in Ontario, are involved in the transportation business, then the Fleet Safety Council organization is open to you and is as close to “free” as you can find. A very small membership fee once a year, some dedication on your part and you are on your way to your own safer world. The people here are willing to share and there is an answer for everything.

Where can you join? Go to: https://fleetsafetycouncil.com/ or, if you’re in the Hamilton-Niagara area, our own Chapter, meets once a month right off the QEW in Grimsby which is:  https://hamiltonniagarafleetsafetycouncil.com/

MAKE A DIFFERENCE WITH YOUR LIFE!

Keep your people safe.
The beauty of life is in your hands.
THINK SAFETY ……… EVERYWHERE ……….. ALL THE TIME

About the Author

Nick Nicholson, is a retired safety practitioner who spent many years researching the human behaviour factors of driver and pedestrian actions. Specifically, he spent 25 of those years devoted to highway crash investigations, regulatory compliance, the design, implementation and presentation of safety programs. Nick enjoyed many hours presenting professional driver enhancement training to adult participants.

As a long time Fleet Safety Council Member (1988) and the Founding Chair (1992-1995) of Council’s Hamilton-Niagara Chapter, he presents his opinions in hopes of improving the safety knowledge of readers. Nick is a firm believer in human advancement through positive attitudes, solution thinking and the understanding that the beauty of life is always in your hands.

Old Uncle Nicky’s Opinions are his own and in no way reflect the opinions of Fleet Safety Council

WHERE ARE YOU VULNERABLE? by Nick Nicholson

Every organization should have an “Emergency Response Protocol” in place, practiced and ready to go at a moment’s notice. As we cannot predict our future, we have to be prepared for anything and at any time. Think back. Had you predicted 9/11? The “knee-jerk” reactions that happened afterwards will be debated for centuries. The business I just happened to be involved in was dependent on the airline industry. Scared passengers made for a long recovery.

Commonplace, in the safety world, is the exercise of reviewing your Nick-2015policies from time to time. In the transportation business, it is appropriate to review your ERP anytime but, especially before the season changes to the bad weather. Watch for new things with terrorism and security that may not be a part of your present plan. Go beyond your own business to consider your customers and the general public as well. Even simple PTA meetings have to be cancelled in snowstorms.

Take a lesson from others who have been there. Catastrophes always seem to happen when circumstances are at their worst.  The boss is out of town, your credit card is maxed out, you can’t locate key people to make decisions or it is the worst of weather.

There are so many possibilities that all your staff will need to be led and prepared, well in advance. They’ll need a “go to” list for when a crisis hits. Often, it’s left up to the safety practitioner to come up with the plan. This, then, requires two distinct parts.

1. An overview of the plan that everyone in the organization should become familiar with. It has been said that no plan will ever work perfectly at the time of an emergency (Murphy’s Law) but, if everybody in the company is familiar with what is expected, they will be able to improvise in the general direction of the desired results. Everyone should have a key phrase like, “The Company’s standard procedure is to conduct an investigation and release details when they become available.”  memorized so that it’s an automatic response to any probe. You have no idea who will be approached first about the incident nor in what circumstances. All staff should be familiar, practiced, tested and signed off.

2. A list needs to be prepared for key people to follow in an emergency that keeps them on track, gets the required information for others and covers all the bases without embarrassing the organization. This may end up being a number of lists depending on the size of the outfit. The list should be quickly identifiable and at their fingertips at any instant of time, wherever they might be. Electronic devices may be great but make sure there is a no-fail power source and the device can be flipped back and forth for another usage. Now, is not the time to discover a dead battery. Remember, your staff will be under pressure and nervous so make it as simple as possible. Again, it’s a good idea to consult your staff first. They know the job. Allow them some time to think of what might go wrong with their specific function and how best to deal with it.

Specific functions should be pre-assigned with backup people cross-trained. Specific “report-to” persons and times should be established. A calm focus should be emphasized, matter-of-fact and low-key vocal tones should be used. Panic is always your worst enemy. Establish a system to notify staff, call in replacements, find competent people to deal with (and transport) families, governmental agencies, news media, medical, trauma and emergency response sources. Remember to record documentation of all actions, statements, and phone conversations with names and call-back numbers. Remember, funding will be needed quickly, perhaps in large amounts – make pre-arrangements and have a system to keep tabs on it. Perhaps two person expenditure authorization.

Ensure people responding to the scene are appropriately dressed for the weather, properly (photo) identified, equipped with personal protective gear, are trained to deal with authorities and can follow orders. Have your personnel always carrying a clipboard, paper, and pencil (for rainy conditions). That clipboard is a very important prop. It makes people appear confident and “in control” to others. It makes them feel confident themselves and provides somewhere for their hands that are not in their pocket.  Sometimes, your appearance, especially on camera, is all you have going for you.

These situations are always horrible to deal with. Some, get out of hand to the point that businesses go down the drain. If you can pre-plan with the idea of effectively coping with every possible circumstance (even the apparently ridiculous), you may have a chance of surviving and becoming a better organization because of it.

I hope it never happens but, if you’re prepared, you will have a better chance of achieving success out of a bad situation. The best perception of your organization, under extreme pressure, is paramount to your future.

Click below for a sample Emergency Response Protocol to help you design your own.

emergency-response-protocol-sample

Keep your people safe.

The beauty of life is in your hands.
THINK SAFETY ……… EVERYWHERE ……….. ALL THE TIME

About the Author

Nick Nicholson, is a retired safety practitioner who spent many years researching the human behaviour factors of driver and pedestrian actions. Specifically, he spent 25 of those years devoted to highway crash investigations, regulatory compliance, the design, implementation and presentation of safety programs. Nick enjoyed many hours presenting professional driver enhancement training to adult participants.

As a long time Fleet Safety Council Member (1988) and the Founding Chair (1992-1995) of Council’s Hamilton-Niagara Chapter, he presents his opinions in hopes of improving the safety knowledge of readers. Nick is a firm believer in human advancement through positive attitudes, solution thinking and the understanding that the beauty of life is always in your hands.

Old Uncle Nicky’s Opinions are his own and in no way reflect the opinions of Fleet Safety Council

“FREE” DOWNLOAD: UPDATE 101 by Nick Nicholson

How many of you would go years without updating your Smartphone, tablet or laptop? I think, not very many. Commodore 64, anyone? And yet, most drivers will go from age 16 to 80 without ever updating their driving skills or knowledge and they don’t give it a second thought. Driving is probably the most dangerous thing you do in your whole life (bungee jumpers excepted) and you don’t need an update? Come on! Are you still driving your first car?

Unless forced to attend by the courts or an employer, most will Nick-2015never take a driving course of any kind throughout their driving years. Many, never have a problem and that’s great. Perhaps, they don’t drive far either.

Many never realize that they ARE the problem and many never realize that (according to crash risk statistics) they are about to have a really big problem. (Often involves statements like “death” or “maimed for life”.) That’s not so great!

Apparently, from some of the  responses I’ve been getting, the general public are reading my stuff. I want to spread as much of this as I can, to as many as I can, in hopes of keeping all people safe on our roads. I have assembled a few tips that might just help those of you who have no intention of ever taking that refresher course. My best recommendation, if you can? Go to “SKID SCHOOL”!

DEFENSIVE DRIVING is driving to avoid collisions: “driving to save lives, time, and money, IN SPITE OF the conditions around you and the actions of others.” -National Safety Council

SPACE CUSHION: Maintaining a safe reaction and stopping distance behind the vehicle ahead. Nicky’s recommendation in a car under ideal circumstances – 3 seconds.
When the back bumper of the vehicle ahead passes a stationary object on the side of the road, begin counting “one-thousand and one”, “one-thousand and two”, “one-thousand and three”. If your front bumper passes that same stationary object before the word “three”, you are too close.  Back-off and begin your counting again. Do that for 33 days in a row and it’ll become a habit.
KEEP YOUR EYES MOVING. Make a habit of moving your eyes to see things far off in the distance, up close in front, from side to side and alternate to your mirrors every 5 to 8 seconds. Knowing what’s all around you can provide you with that correct evasive maneuver in the proper direction when it’s needed.

FORCED INTO A NARROW SPACE?  When you think you are being forced into a space that is too narrow to fit, and can’t stop, look up at tree level and keep going. You may be surprised to find that you drive precisely into the middle of the opening, in many cases getting through unscathed. Your peripheral vision will keep you centered. No peeking down at anything at ground level, though! Keep looking up until you are clear.

ALWAYS LOOK TOWARD WHERE YOU WANT TO GO!  For whatever reason your vehicle begins to lose control swaying to one side or the other, always keep looking at where you want to go. You’ll automatically steer towards it and chances are that you will end up there.  No matter how tired your arms get from fast steering changes, NEVER GIVE UP!

IF YOU CRASH!
ALWAYS stay put in your seat, buckled up until you are sure everything else around you has completely stopped. Resist the urge to get out of your vehicle until you KNOW it’s safe.

BRIGHT LIGHTS IN YOUR EYES?  Intentionally look down along the right edge of the roadway until the lights pass. It will momentarily blind you but, will keep you safely within your lane. Your eyes will readjust to the darkness quicker again once the lights have passed.

DRUNK DRIVERS OFTEN DON’T GET HURT!  The reason is that they remain loose before the crash. If you see that a crash is inevitable, loosen up before the impact. You’ll have less severe injuries. By the way, the same thing applies if you fall while walking. Loosen up on the way down and roll.  You’ll be less likely to hurt yourself.

NEVER CROSS YOUR LEGS AS A PASSENGER!  A frontal impact will hit the crossed leg first and snap your pelvis instantly. The same goes for resting your FEET ON THE DASH. An activated airbag will drive your knees into your chest breaking your sternum or severely smashing your face.

 FORCED INTO A GUARDRAIL – STICK WITH IT.  If you are sideswiped and driven into a metal guard rail, try to steer slightly in, to stay along the guardrail. Your vehicle is already smashed and you are likely unhurt. You don’t want to be spun out into traffic to be “T-boned” by those behind who will try to avoid you.

A second type of guardrail (known as a “Jersey Barrier”) is usually made of concrete, has a lip along the bottom edge, and sits beside a wide shoulder lane. This lip is designed to keep you traveling in the same direction on your own side of the highway rather than fly over the barrier. If you catch that lip. it will cause your vehicle to roll over to the right. Your snugged up seatbelt is now your best friend.

COUNTRY INTERSECTIONS – 2-LANE ROADS. People often use country roads to avoid traffic. As well, drunks and thieves, in particular, use them to avoid the cops.
There are certain hazards you need to be cautious about:
Stopping on a gravel road can take a much longer distance than on pavement.
A yellow diamond-shaped sign indicating an intersection ahead is telling you not to pass.
Many drivers making a right turn from a country road will only look to their left and then pull out onto a main road without stopping. If you’re passing someone on the intersecting road, you are now in the direct path of a “head-on” collision.
Never expect large farm equipment to stop, signal or share the road. Stay away and let them clear. If you’re following slowly behind any piece of equipment, make sure your 4-way flashers are on.

RAILROAD CROSSINGS CLOSE TO HOME – DANGER! It seems that the closer railroad crossings are to our home, the more dangerous they become. We become so accustomed to not seeing a train on local crossings that we become blasé about them. We are more likely to pay attention to crossings when away. By the way, property beside all rail lines is private.  You can be charged with trespassing.

SOME RAILROAD CROSSINGS HAVE GATES. If you are part way across a set of tracks and the gate still ahead of you comes down, drive on to break through it and avoid being hit by the train. Most gates in Canada only block the one side of the road that traffic is expected to come from. Remember, almost every set of rail warning lights or gates you see means that, at least three people have died at that crossing. That was the criteria to erect crossing warnings at one time.

THE 2ND TRAIN!
Every railroad crossing with more than one set of tracks in Canada and most in the US are marked with the number – ( 2 TRACKS, 4 TRACKS, etc.)  Many people have been killed when they are impatient waiting for a train to pass and start away when the last car clears.  A second train, coming from the opposite direction, arriving at precisely the same time has killed many people.

People have died by trying to race a train. At a double-crossing, they die perhaps differently than what you might expect!  All eyes in the vehicle, including the kids while cheering the driver on, are watching the only train they are aware of right up until the last second. Thinking they have beat it, they proceed on to the tracks. Never thinking of a train coming from the opposite direction, that’s the one that kills whole families.

RAILROADS – Something to note: If you come across an incident at a rail crossing, there is a 1-800 number and the crossing reference number painted on, either the back side of the RR crossbuck warning or on a little (usually painted silver) signal building near the crossing. This number connects directly with the railroad and by giving the crossing number, you can warn those in control.

SAVE YOUR BABY!  Learn to back-in and drive-out of driveways.

 Your Old Uncle Nicky Note:
This is a little longer than my normal post but, there are so many of these tips that people never learn that I wanted to shove a few more in. THERE ARE NO GUARANTEES! Perhaps, it can save somebody. Maybe, even you. Many, many more tips exist in driving courses.
Possibly, I can tantalize you a bit by checking out some of my previous general audience posts. Articles like “Attitude”; “Iceberg Road Rage”; “Road Aider”; “Tire Failure” and “Who’s There? at:

https://hamiltonniagarafleetsafetycouncil.com/?s=old+uncle+nicky

Keep your people safe.

The beauty of life is in your hands.

About the Author

Nick Nicholson, is a retired safety practitioner who spent many years researching the human behaviour factors of driver and pedestrian actions. Specifically, he spent 25 of those years devoted to highway crash investigations, regulatory compliance, the design, implementation and presentation of safety programs. Nick enjoyed many hours presenting professional driver enhancement training to adult participants.

As a long time Fleet Safety Council Member (1988) and the Founding Chair (1992-1995) of Council’s Hamilton-Niagara Chapter, he presents his opinions in hopes of improving the safety knowledge of readers. Nick is a firm believer in human advancement through positive attitudes, solution thinking and the understanding that the beauty of life is always in your hands.

Old Uncle Nicky’s Opinions are his own and in no way reflect the opinions of Fleet Safety Council