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Eye Safety & Safety Glasses (Jan/Feb-24)
Protecting Employees When Performing Machine Operations (Nov/Dec-23)
Protecting Students from Machine Hazards (Jul/Aug-23)
Electrical Safety (May/Jun-23)
Machine Guarding (Jan/Feb-23)
Have We Learned Anything About Safety Over the Last Fifty Years? (Nov/Dec-22)
OSHA Annouces 2021 Top 10 Frequently Cited Standards (Sep/Oct-22)
Have You Conducted Your Periodic Lockout & Tagout Audit? (Jan/Feb-22)
Workplace Violence (Jul/Aug-21)
Do You or Your Supervisors Really Care About Worker Safety? (May/Jun-21)
Creating A Safety Culture (Nov/Dec-20)
Before You Purchase New Machinery (Sep/Oct-20)
Do You or Your Supervisors Really Care About Worker Safety? (May/Jun-20)
OSHA Issues Interim Guidance to Help Prevent Worker Exposure to Coronavirus (COVID-19) (Mar/Apr-20)
Have You Recently Conducted Your Required Safety & Health Program Audits? (Nov/Dec-19)
Does OSHA Cite Employers Equally? (May/Jun-19)
Are You Ready For The New Year? (Mar/Apr-19)
Creating a Safety Culture Means Staying Informed (Nov/Dec-18)
Safe Lifting Techniques (Sep/Oct-18)
Are Your Machines Safe to Operate? (Jul/Aug-18)
Do You Know How Old Your Tires Really Are? (Jan/Feb-18)
Risk Assessment & Premise Liability Insurance (Nov/Dec-17)
Forklift Safety – You Can Save A Life Today (Sep/Oct-17)
Protect Your Employees from Heat Stress Related Injuries (Jul/Aug-17)
Lockout-Tagout from a Manager’s Perspective (May/Jun-17)
Do Your Employees Really Know How to Use Personal Protective Equipment? (Mar/Apr-17)
OSHA & Lockout/Tagout (Nov/Dec-16)
OSHA Increases Their Penalties Towards Employers (Jul/Aug-16)
Do You Know What Your Experience Modification Rate Is? (May/Jun-16)
Machine Safety (Sep/Oct-15)
Lockout, Tagout & Tryout – Are You in Compliance? (Jul/Aug-15)
Forklift Safety Practices (May/Jun-15)
Using the Right Power Saw to Cut Plastic Materials (Mar/Apr-15)
OSHA & Machine Safeguarding (Jan/Feb-15)
Ergonomics (Sep/Oct-14)
Respiratory Protection . . . Does Your Program Protect? (May/Jun-14)
First Aid Program (Mar/Apr-14)
Working with Composite Materials Safely and Preventing Dermatitis (Jan/Feb-14)
Preventing Winter Slips, Trips and Falls (Nov/Dec-13)
The Globally Harmonized System for Hazard Communication – Are You Ready For It? (Sep/Oct-13)
Safety & New Employee Orientation (Jul/Aug-13)
Liquefied Petroleum Gas Safety (May/Jun-13)
Posting of OSHA Notices (Jan/Feb-13)
Staying Safe This Winter (Nov/Dec-12)
Personal Protection - Storage, Maintenance and Care (Sep/Oct-12)
Machine Safeguarding (Jul/Aug-12)
Is Your Lockout & Tagout Program Working? (May/Jun-12)
Getting Familiar with OSHA (Mar/Apr-12)
Is Your Piping Systems Properly Marked? (Jan/Feb-12)
Accident Prevention, Does Your Company Have An Effective Program? (Nov/Dec-11)
Defining FR – Flame Resistant Fabrics (Jul/Aug-11)
OSHA's Flammable & Combustible Liquids (May/Jun-11)
Safety & Health Program Check-up (Jan/Feb-11)
OSHA Is My Friend (Nov/Dec-10)
OSHA Standard for Control of Hazardous Energy Sources? (Sep/Oct-10)
Lockout/Tagout Program (Jul/Aug-10)
Safe Handling of Compressed Gas Cylinders (May/Jun-10)
What You Should Know about OSHA and Plastic Working Machinery (Mar/Apr-10)
Fasten Those Forklift Seat Belts (Jan/Feb-10)
My Back Hurts (Nov/Dec-09)
Fall Protection Program (Sep/Oct-09)
Accident Prevention & Investigation (Jul/Aug-09)
OSHA & Machine Safeguarding (May/Jun-09)
Carbon Monoxide Hazards (Mar/Apr-09)
OSHA Electrical Safety and Training (Jan/Feb-09)
Free Forklift ANSI Standards (Nov/Dec-08)
Worksite Fire Emergencies (Sep/Oct-08)
Machine Safety (Jul/Aug-08)
Ladder Safety (May/Jun-08)
Is Your Company on OSHA's Hit List?
OSHA Notifies Workplaces with High Injury and Illness Rates (Mar/Apr-08)
Safety Means . . . Never Having to Say You're Sorry (Jan/Feb-08)
Flammables and Combustible Liquids (Nov/Dec-07)
Designing-In Safety NOT Retrofitting Safety (Sep/Oct-07)
Back Safety and Lifting (Jul/Aug-07)
Machine Guarding (May/Jun-07)
Your Hearing Keep it for a Lifetime (Mar/Apr-07)
Light Up the Holidays the Safe Way (Nov/Dec-06)
Would You Risk Your Employee's Life? (Sep/Oct-06)
How to Control Workers' Compensation Costs (Jul/Aug-06)
Compliance with 70E Electrical Standards (May/Jun-06)
OSHA Is on the Move (Mar/Apr-06)
Workplace Violence (Jan/Feb-06)
The Aging Workforce (Nov/Dec-05)
The Safety Paradox (Sep/Oct-05)
Machine Guarding (Jul/Aug-05)
Effective Risk Management (May/Jun-05)
Safety Is Everyone's Business (Mar/Apr-05)
New Year's Resolution Safety (Jan/Feb-05)
Safe Driving (Nov/Dec-04)
Terror In The Skies Revisited (Sep/Oct-04)
How They Got Hurt (Jul/Aug-04)
In-Plant Air Monitoring & Analysis (May/Jun-04)
Safety on the Job and Complying with the Americans With Disabilities Act (Mar/Apr-04)
Link to Article Archive (Jan/Feb-04)
A Supervisor's Duty (Nov/Dec-03)
Machine Safety – Are Your Machines Safe to Operate? (Sep/Oct-03)
Summer is Here (Jul/Aug-03)
Working Safely On Powered Industrial Trucks (Forklifts) (May/Jun-03)
Does Your Safety and Health Workplace Program Contain All of These Elements? (Mar/Apr-03)
Methylene Chloride (Jan/Feb-03)
Safety Signs & Labels - Does Your Facility Comply? (Nov/Dec-02)
Indoor Air Quality (Sep/Oct-02)
When OSHA Arrives (Jul/Aug-02)
Facts About the Occupation Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) (May/Jun-02)
Workplace Fire Safety (Mar/Apr-02)
OSHA 300 Form (Jan/Feb-02)
Preparing for Disaster (Nov/Dec-01)
How Much is a Life Worth? (Sep/Oct-01)
Material Handling Programs (Jul/Aug-01)
It's Up To You To Protect Your Skin (May/Jun-01)
When You’ve Been Handed the Responsibility for Safety (Mar/Apr-01)
A Fresh Look at Machine Safeguarding (Jan/Feb-01)
Safe Work Habits (Nov/Dec-00)
The Importance of Material Safety Data Sheets (Sep/Oct-00)
Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response (Jul/Aug-00)
Lockout/Tagout Program (May/Jun-00)
OSHA Violations, Citations and Penalties for 1998 (Mar/Apr-00)
Erogonomics and Machinery Safeguarding (Jan/Feb-00)
General Machine Principles (Nov/Dec-99)
Select issue:

SAFETY SOLUTIONS: Light Up the Holidays the Safe Way

The holiday season – that special time of year when you brighten your home and business with colorful and twinkling lights. Although decorating with electric lighting helps you create a cheerful atmosphere, it also brings an increased risk of accidental fire. Here are some important safety tips to help you avoid electrical fires, overloaded circuits and other holiday fire hazards both outside and inside your home.

Outdoor Lights

  • Always buy lights and electrical decorations bearing the name of an independent testing lab, and follow the manufacturer’s instructions for installation and maintenance.
  • Never use seasonal lighting outside your home unless it is specifically labeled for outdoor use.
  • Connect outside lighting to a Ground Fault Circuit Interrupting (GFCI) outlet. If you don’t have a GFCI outlet, contact a qualified electrician for proper installation.
  • Never secure the wiring of outdoor lighting with staples or nails - or place lights on sharp hooks or nails.
  • Do not close doors or windows on extension cords, or mount lights in any way that can damage the cord’s wire insulation.
  • Carefully inspect new and previously used light strings and replace damaged items before plugging lights in. Never overload extension cords.

Indoor Lights

  • Keep kids and pets away from light strings and electrical decorations.
  • Unplug all holiday lighting before leaving the house or when going to bed.
  • Make sure the lamps do not rest on the supply cord or on any wire.
  • Avoid covering lights with cloth, paper or any material that is not part of the lighting.
  • Throw away any lighting that shows cut, damaged or frayed wire insulation or cords. Discard lights with cracks in lamp holders, loose connections or exposed copper wire.
  • Virtually all holiday lighting is provided with overload fuse protection. A blown fuse indicates an overload or short-circuit situation. When this occurs, unplug lights from the outlet immediately and replace the blown fuse.
  • If the replacement fuse blows, a short circuit may be present. Either throw the light string away or return it to the retailer if new.
  • Take the lights down when the holidays are over. Seasonal lighting is not intended for permanent installation or use.

Christmas Tree Safety

  • When lights are placed on a live tree, be sure your tree is fresh and well maintained. Never purchase a tree with dry or dropping needles.
  • Keep live trees as moist as possible by giving them plenty of water every day.
  • Choose a sturdy tree stand designed not to tip over. Make sure the tree stand is well secured and stable before putting on the lights.
  • Always use safe tree lights that have been tested by an independent testing laboratory.
  • Inspect lights carefully. If a string of lights has worn, frayed or broken cords, or loose bulb connections it should not be used.
  • Place the tree at least three feet away from any heat source. Try to position it near an outlet so cords don’t have to run long distances.
  • Do not position the Christmas tree where it may block exits.
  • Never use electric lights on a metal tree.
  • Buy artificial trees only if they are labeled as fire-retardant.
  • Make sure larger tree lights have some type of reflector rather than a bare bulb.
  • Keep an eye on children when they are near the tree and do not let them play with the wiring or lights.
  • Safely dispose of the tree when it begins dropping needles. Don’t keep dried out trees in your home or garage, as they are highly flammable.
  • NEVER attempt to burn a dried out tree in your home’s fireplace. It may burst into hard-to-control flame instantly.

Candle Fire - Beauty or a Beast?

The warm glow of holiday candlelight is beautiful, but can be a severe fire hazard. Since December is the peak month for candle fires, put safety first when lighting any holiday candle. Here are a few safety tips to observe.

  • Never use candles to decorate your Christmas tree!
  • Keep candles away from decorations and other combustible materials.
  • Extinguish all candles when leaving the room or going to sleep.
  • Don’t place candles in windows, where blinds and curtains can close over them.
  • Use sturdy candleholders that won’t tip over easily and are large enough to collect dripping wax.
  • Remember, a candle is an open flame and can easily ignite nearby combustible materials - such as clothing, books, paper or any flammable liquid.
  • Keep candlewicks trimmed to one quarter inch and extinguish taper and pillar candles when they are within two inches of the holder. Votive candles should be put out before the last half-inch of wax starts to melt.
  • Keep candles up high and out of reach of children.
  • Never leave a young child unattended in a room with a lighted candle.
  • Don’t allow children or teens to have candles in their bedrooms.

During Power Outages

  • Try to avoid carrying a lit candle.
  • Don’t use a lit candle when searching for items in a confined space.
  • Never use a candle for a light when checking pilot lights or fueling equipment such as a kerosene heater or lantern.
As the holiday season approaches, I would like to thank each of my readers for your continued questions and comments on this column. I sincerely wish you and yours a very happy holiday season!

For more information, click on the author biography at the top of this page.

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