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Avoid the Hazards of Drowsy Driving

Tanks to daylight savings, most of us got an extra hour of sleep this last weekend. But is it enough to avoid the risks of drowsy driving? Drowsy driving is comparable to driving intoxicated. Drowsiness slows your reaction time and makes drivers less able to pay attention to the road. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in 2013 drowsy driving was responsible for 72,000 crashes, 44,000 injuries, and 800 deaths.

According to the 2001 Sleep in America poll by the National Sleep Foundation, nearly 75% of adults in the US drive a car to work and many of these are drowsy drivers. Yawning, blinking frequently, missing your exit, driving from your lane – these are signs that you might be too drowsy to be driving. If you experience these warning signs, it is important that you pull over to rest or change drivers if possible.

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Who is most at risk for drowsy driving?

• Commercial drivers
• Night shift workers or workers who work long shifts
• Drivers who use medications that make them sleepy
• Drivers with untreated sleep disorders

Preventing drowsy driving before you take the wheel is key. How do you prevent drowsy driving?

• Get at least 7 hours of sleep at night.
• Go to bed at the same time each night and wake up at the same time in the morning.
• Sleep in a quiet, dark, and relaxing space.
• Avoid electronic devices before bedtime. Remove screens from your bedroom.
• Avoid eating large meals, and consuming caffeine, or alcohol before bedtime.
• Exercise and be physically active during the day.
• Use a comfortable mattress and pillow.

Additional ResourcesDaylight Savings Kicks off Drowsy Driving Prevention Week; CDC Drowsy Driving; CDC Tips for Better Sleep; What Can Truck Drivers Do to Avoid Drowsy Driving?

It's Drowsy Driving Prevention Week

Drowsy driving is preventable. Join the National Sleep Foundation in raising awareness on drowsy driving. Be sure to check out the hashtag #ALERT2DRIVE on your favorite social media platform. This outreach effort is aimed at reducing the number of drivers who drive sleep deprived. Drowsy driving is responsible for more than 6,400 deaths in the US annually.

Cold Weather Injuries and Illnesses

Cold weather is here and in many parts of the Midwest we have already experienced our first measurable snowfall. Exposure to cold weather presents a new set of hazards. Be aware of the cold-related illnesses and injuries that can affect you during winter work and their symptoms.

Chilblains: Painful inflammation of small blood vessels in the skin. Small blood vessels may become permanently damaged by cold temperatures and resulting symptoms can include redness, itching, blistering, inflammation, and possible ulceration.

Trench Foot: Foot injury after prolonged exposure to wet and cold-related conditions. Symptoms include reddening of the skin, numbness, leg cramps, swelling, tingling pain, blisters or ulcers, bleeding under the skin, and gangrene.

Frostbite: Injury caused by freezing of the skin and deeper tissues which can permanently damage body tissues. Risk factors include contact with metal or water, dehydration, diabetes, smoking, sedating or judge-impairing medications. Symptoms include numbness, tingling or stinging, aching, and bluish or pale, waxy skin.

Hypothermia: Prolonged exposure to cold causes internal body temperature to drop and can lead to hypothermia. Hypothermia can cause a victim to be unable to think clearly or move well, making hypothermia particularly dangerous as a person may not recognize the symptoms. Early symptoms include shivering, fatigue, loss of coordination, confusion or disorientation. Late symptoms include no shivering, blue skin, dilated pupils, slowed pulse and breathing, and loss of consciousness.

Additional ResourcesNIOSH Workplace Solutions on Preventing Cold-Related Illness, Injury, and Death among Workers; National Safety Council, Why do People Die Shoveling Snow?; NSC Winter Safety Tips; CDC Prevent Hypothermia & Frostbite

How Can You Help Prevent These Injuries or Illnesses?

Workers should:
  • Take regular breaks to warm up. Reduce the amount of time spent in the cold environment.
  • Stay hydrated! Drink lots of water. Use warm beverages to help increase body temperature.
  • Stay well nourished by snacking on high carbohydrate foods.
  • Avoid touching cold metal or wet surfaces with bare skin.
Employers should:
  • Provide training on cold weather injuries and illnesses.
  • Reduce the amount of time workers spend in cold environments.
  • Make sure workers have access to warm areas as well as a place to change out of wet clothes.
  • Provide employees with appropriate cold weather gear such as hats, gloves, and boots for cold environments.
  • Monitor workers in cold conditions - initiate a buddy system.

This Winter, Keep Safe By Walking Like a Penguin

The way that we typically walk (with one leg in front of us and one leg trailing) is inherently unstable on slippery surfaces. Our weight pushes our feet outward, along the surface of the ice. By keeping our center of gravity directly above one flat foot, we use our own weight to pin down our foot, preventing slips and falls. Keeping our arms out not only improves our balance, it means that we can catch ourselves if we do fall.

  1. Keep your hands out of your pockets! Extend them out to your sides to help you keep your balance, like you’re walking a tight rope.
  2. Bend your knees slightly, point your toes outward a little bit, and walk flat-footed.
  3. Take short, slow steps.
  4. With each step, keep your center of gravity above your front leg. Normally, we put our leading foot out and let it pull us forward. When you penguin walk, you want to keep your body directly above your foot as you place it.
  5. If you do fall backward, try to tuck your chin. that way your back, not your head, will hit the ground first.

Register Now for Case Management Seminar

Case Managment Seminar is quickly approaching! This conference is intended for Case managers, occupational health nurses, insurance adjusters, safety and human resources professionals, and employers interested in expanding their knowledge of case management and the medical treatment of work related injuries.

Some of this year’s topics will include Lower Back Pain in Work Comp Patients, Medical Case Management, Humanity in Worker’s Compensation, and Arthritis in the Work Injury Setting.

Don’t miss out - register today!

Hawkeye on Safety 2019 Recap

Hawkeye on Safety 2019 took place on September 26th at the Coralville Marriott Hotel & Conference Center. This conference provides life-saving health and safety information to Iowa workers from all industries.

We had a great time this year with 479 attendees, 19 sessions, and a fantastic keynote presentation from Chuck Long, former Iowa Hawkeye quarterback. There were a wide range of presentation topics, including ergonomics, drone safety, steam velocity and water hammer, workers’ compensation, elevator safety, trench safety, and more! Check out the pictures from Hawkeye on Safety 2019.

Save the Date for Hawkeye on Safety 2020!

Planning for Hawkeye on Safety 2020 has already started! Mark your calendars to be at the Coralville Marriott on August 27, 2020.

There’s a new face at the Heartland Center!

Breanna Reed joined us in August as the new Continuing Education and Outreach Coordinator!
Phone: 319-467-0283 | Email:

Heartland Center in the News

Center Director, Patrick O’Shaughnessy Comments on Particulate Pollution

Nate Fethke Presents Webinar on Large Herd Dairy Milking Parlors: Exposure Characterization & Intervention Analysis

Heartland Center Awarded $8.8 Million Grant to Continue Providing Occupational Health and Safety Education
Check out the Heartland Center's online events calendar to keep track of our upcoming classes and conferences. You should also follow our social media accounts on TwitterFacebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn, where we share OHS updates and information on our upcoming events.

Do you have a topic idea for future newsletters? Reply to this email and let us know!
Copyright © 2019 Heartland Center for Occupational Health & Safety, All rights reserved.

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