June 15, 2020 Safety News

There’s no shortage of things to talk about with your crews this week:

OSHA’s rescheduled Trench Safety Stand Down is this week, resources from NUCA, and NAHB, and trench fatality information from Marko Kaar.

OSHA’s FAQ on cloth face coverings, masks, and respirators.

Music track information:

“Dream Catcher” Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 4.0 License


June 8, 2020 Safety News

Welcome to another week! Today’s focus is on heat stress prevention again, with a focus on hydration and severe weather.

Here’s a great toolbox talk from Ergodyne, including a urine color chart, mentioned in the audio message. Again, your mileage may vary with this, use it wisely!


June 2020 WISE Administrator’s Message

Hey WISE friends! It is easier to do a text update this month so I can link you to ALL THE THINGS…

Today is the last day of early registration for ASSP’s Safety 2020. If you’re looking to lock in the lower rate, register today! If you’re a student member, you get THE BEST deal for the virtual conference at $75. It’s even a great deal when prices go up, but save that money because you’re a student 🙂 All info and registration is at safety.assp.org

WISE Coffee Breaks continue each Friday at 10am CST, please visit the WISE group in the ASSP Community for the login info, or check out our Facebook and LinkedIn groups for the link and password. The coffee breaks have been a fun and unstructured way to meet new WISE friends and discuss collaborations between our group and other ASSP practice specialties and common interest groups, as well as ways WISE can deliver timely and relevant info to our members and the Society.

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Speaking of virtual socials, WISE is hosting several virtual networking opportunities during the ASSP Safety 2020: Virtual event. Links for these events will be posted in our WISE group on the ASSP Community, our Facebook group, and LinkedIn group. Watch your ASSP Weekly emails for info as well.

WISE Safety 2020 virtual events

Traditionally, WISE has offered a t-shirt each year during the annual ASSP conference to support the WISE Professional Education Grant. You can donate direct to the grant fund by texting WISE to 41444, a link will be sent to you to complete the donation. Please share this info with others who would like to support and #fundWISEfutures!

WISE Text4Safety

You may also support the WISE Professional Education Grant fund through purchase of WISE logo apparel and accessories at the WISE Store from Beeze Tees in New Hampshire and through the WISE Collection from Vicki’s Safety Creations. A special item was created by Vicki’s for Safety 2020, they are neck gaiters that can be used as face coverings, as many of you may be required to wear at your workplace or in public areas.

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Last but not least, do not forget about all of the opportunities to recognize your fellow WISE members for their achievements. The WISE Member of the Month program continues fresh each month, use this link to submit a nomination anytime.

Congratulations to our 2020 WISE Safety Professional of the Year Melissa Rohrer!

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Congratulations WISE Professional Education Grant recipient Michelle Sullenger! WISE MotM

ChapterWISE and Mentoring excellence awards will be announced during the WISE Safety 2020 Virtual Networking Event.

As Christina Roll moves into the WISE Administrator position on July 1, 2020, Camille Oakes will begin her term as WISE Assistant Administrator! An official hand off and welcome will be conducted at the WISE Safety 2020 Virtual Networking Event.

new wise leadership!

I look forward to “seeing” you soon!


Safety 2021 Speaker Proposal Planner

You’ve aspired to speak at the BIG SHOW, the ASSP Professional Development Conference, PDC for short. Now, the deadline for Safety 2021 speaker proposals awaits, July 15, 2020. Safety 2021 will be in Denver, CO, make sure to check your availability for the dates of the conference before submitting a proposal, it is slated for June 6-9, 2021. Note that you are limited to two proposals, this is different from previous years.

If this is your first time, the process can seem daunting. I assure you it is not, however it is just daunting enough to ensure only those who are truly serious about speaking apply!

I have encouraged people to speak at past conferences, and shared my process in preparation for Safety 2019. However, I shared that info a mere 17 days before the proposals were due… Last year and again this year, I’m giving you the resource MUCH further in advance. Here is your behind the scenes look into how I’ve approached preparation of my proposal for this epic event since 2014!

  1. Identify your topic based on your current interests and initiatives or what you’re working on in the next year. It’s hard to propose a relevant topic a year in advance, but it can be done if it’s something you’re passionate about or will be working on consistently in the coming year.
    • If you need some inspiration, listen to this quick message I recorded with advice on identifying a topic for Safety 2019. Just disregard the dates and listen to the advice. You can also watch this video I recorded on the same topic, again, disregard the dates, and use the advice. A quick summary of my advice is in the image below, updated to take 2020’s events into account… SAFETY 2021 Speaker Proposal Tips
  2. Identify a partner or assemble a panel if you don’t want to speak solo. Safety 2019 was the first year I didn’t submit a solo proposal! I submitted as a duo and a panel. If for financial reasons you need that 100% conference registration honoraria, that is only in play if you speak solo or co-present. If you are on a panel of 3+ speakers, your registration is paid for one day only.
  3. Visit the Safety 2021 speaker proposal page and familiarize yourself with the parameters. You MUST follow these instructions and word/character counts!
  4. Build your proposal in a Word document, do not type it directly into the online form – I am a big fan of trusting technology, but I just can’t stomach the thought of losing my content if something weird happened! Use Word, then copy and paste over once you’ve finalized your proposal elements.
    I developed a tool for this specific purpose, please download and use it!
    Abby’s Safety 2021 Proposal Planner
    When using my tool, type the information below the bold headings that correspond with the ASSP Speaker Proposal form. You can find word and character count by highlighting the area in question, click Tools and choose Word Count. That window will give you info on word count and character count with and without spaces.
  5. Refresh your bio – you’ll need to list relevant speaking experience, so if you don’t maintain an Events page like I do, you may need to flip through your calendar to find the past few years of speaking events. Note that you also must include three references!
  6. Thanks for reading this far… Please reach out with any questions after you’ve downloaded the proposal planner!

June 1, 2020 Safety News

Happy Safety Month! There’s a lot to talk to your workers about this week, today’s news gives you ideas for discussing working in areas of unrest, protest, and potential violence.


Music track information:

“Dream Catcher” Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 4.0 License

May 26, 2020 Safety News

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The day after a holiday weekend, during a pandemic, is a great day to talk about heat stress and hydration!

These short audio messages are returning to their original format – toolbox talk, tailgate meeting, or other short safety communication prep for a safety professional or supervisor. Basically, let me give you a prompt each week for current events or relevant safety topic to cover in your onsite communications. Or, maybe you’re inspired to record your own audio or video messages for your organization (you totally should).

There’s a lot to talk about related to hydration, so we’ll start with that this week, and move into other heat stress topics in the coming weeks as the weather heats up.


Here’s some of my go-to resources for hydration information:

OSHA’s Campaign to Prevent Heat Illness landing page

Korey Stringer Institute – Korey played for the Minnesota Vikings and died of heat stroke at training camp in August 2001.

Ergodyne blog – PREVENTING HEAT STRESS AT WORK: YOUR GUIDE TO HEAT STRESS RISKS & SOLUTIONS – start with this post, and click around their site for more related topics and toolbox talks

Safeopedia’s heat stress info landing page

EHS on Tap podcast – I was interviewed on the topic of heat stress 3+ years ago, the discussion is still relevant! It’s a podcast on Soundcloud, but you don’t need an account to listen.

Italian Journal of Emergency Medicine– a quick read on a case of a young person and their experience of extreme heat stress where consumption of energy drinks is partially at fault.

Electrical Contractor Magazine article on heat stress and energy drinks, suitable for printing & posting at your worksite.

Book Report! blink

It’s been a WHILE since I’ve done a book report, the last was No Ego, which you should definitely read, or at least check out some of the author’s, Cy Wakeman, video or podcast content.

I just finished “blink” by Malcolm Gladwell for the WISE book club. Since the ASSP conference isn’t in person this year, we can’t do our book swap, so we revived the WISE Book Club to stay connected. Learn more about WISE here or here.

Since I’m a horrible procrastinator, I just finished the book even though our last book club meeting was over a week ago…

To expedite the book report and keep the spirit of the book’s subtitle “the power of thinking without thinking” – I’m using just the bended pages of my copy of the book as a guide for the highlights and conversation points of the book. Let me know if you have also read the book, and if you’d like to discuss more!

From the chapter The Locked Door, In high-stakes, fast-moving situations, we don’t want to be as dispassionate and purely rational as the Iowa ventromedial patients. We don’t want to stand there endlessly talking through our options. Sometimes we’re better off if the mind behind the locked door makes our decisions for us.

Since I read this book with other safety professionals, I had a safety pro lens to most of the content. This chapter was especially interesting when related to a high risk workplace or task. Gladwell describes the ventromedial prefrontal cortex as our “mental valet” that keeps tabs on what’s going on around us to make sure we act appropriately to the setting but keeps our brain free to focus on the problem or situation at hand. I thought of the impact of safety training, and ensuring we reach our workers with multiple learning styles (listening and doing), and in varied lengths of time (micro training and longer form training). This information contributes to that “mental valet” for the worker, so they are able to make the right, safe, or appropriate decisions for action in the moment.

In the chapter titled The Warren Harding Error, the author furthers the “blink” concept but starts to give the reader some ideas of why this will not work in all scenarios.

The Warren Harding error is the dark side of rapid cognition. It is at the root of a good deal of prejudice and discrimination. It’s why picking the right candidate for a job is so difficult and why, on more occasions than we may care to admit, utter mediocrities sometimes end up in positions of enormous responsibility. Part of what it means to take thin-slicing and first impressions seriously is accepting the fact that sometimes we can know more about someone or something in the blink of an eye than we can after months of study. But we also have to acknowledge and understand those circumstances when rapid cognition leads us astray.

As the book goes on, there are several examples of where thin slicing can go wrong. Often it’s because a person is a novice at the material. This is explained in horrific detail in the police officer shooting examples in the last chapter of the book. I also thought a lot about a Maya Angelou quote during this chapter and after finishing the book, When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time. It can seem harsh, but sometimes your brain percepts things about someone you’ve just met that you later argue with yourself about (not out loud fortunately!). These are the times when thin slicing may be working in your favor.

I must admit, there was a chapter that lost my interest, Paul Van Riper’s Big Victory. It was about war games, exercises that military leaders conduct to simulate scenarios that could jeopardize our national defense. A quote stuck out to me, again, I related it to the jobsite and high risk tasks, We would not get caught up in any of these mechanistic processes. We would use the wisdom, the experience, and the good judgement of the people we had. This along with another passage I’ll quote reminded me of McGregor’s Theory X and Y , with Theory Y being preferable as it encourages self direction. Gladwell stated that the person using the quoted method allowed people to operate without having to explain themselves constantly, and that it enabled rapid cognition.

When workers are treated like adults, and allowed to draw on their experience, and are enabled to use their judgement, it implies a level of trust. On the flip side, if you operate in the opposite way, workers second guess themselves or fail to act.

The chapter Seven Seconds in the Bronx, details several accounts of police officer involved shootings that range from shootings resulting in the death of an innocent person, to a short encounter in which an armed person is arrested without injury. In the latter, the book describes the encounter as lasting 1.5 to 2 seconds, just like the others that ended in death, but the officer’s gift of training and expertise allowed a different end. The ability to extract an enormous amount of meaningful information from the very thinnest slice of experience. Gladwell describes the slowing down of a fast-moving situation, which comes from experience, similar to the example earlier in the book of Larry Bird’s basketball court vision. Every moment – every blink – is composed of a series of discrete moving parts, and every one of those parts offers an opportunity for intervention, for reform, and for correction.

I LOVED that last sentence. It was the a-ha and value-affirming part of the book for me as a safety pro. Isn’t this the goal of safety training and our interactions with workers? To get them to essentially slow down a task, and see each step as an opportunity to find a way to do it more efficiently and safely? As a safety pro, isn’t it a gift that we could aspire to give the workers we influence? Give them Larry Bird’s court sense, but for their work area. Though the subject matter of this chapter was very heavy, my mind went to the concept of flow state. I don’t have this thought line completely figured out, but it’s where the end of the book left me – finding a less distracted flow state in stressful work environments. I’m starting with this article, which will likely lead to reading the book Finding Flow by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi.

If you’ve read “blink” – what did you read next?

The last chapter of the book, Listening with your Eyes, couples nicely with diversity and inclusion topics I’ve been studying, especially as they relate to safety. Diverse perspectives bring strength to a team and organization, but many leaders struggle to figure out how to really make this happen. After describing the blind audition process many orchestras now use, which has led to more women and minorities in first chair positions and filling the other orchestra seats, Gladwell writes, orchestras now hire better musicians, and better musicians mean better music. When we listen with our eyes we miss out. Think about perspectives you may be missing at your various “tables” because of preconceptions about a person. Those missing perspectives are keeping your culture, programs, and procedures from getting better. In safety, that can mean you are missing ways to keep workers safe.

May 18, 2020 Safety News

Reopening is a mindset! Let’s talk strategies to ensure you prevent “scope creep” for safety pros and the workers you protect at your organization.

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May 11, 2020 Safety News

Reopening! Are you? The past week marked a change in mindset, operations are beginning to go “back” to some sort of normal. You need a plan.

Check out yesterday’s blog post, and refer to it often for more free resources on reopening from organizations, associations, and agencies.

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Returning to work after COVID-19

To keep myself organized and share the fantastic info that organizations and agencies are sharing, this post will be updated as more resources are developed. As always, use your judgement and tailor any templates to fit your organization’s needs.

Check out the Reopening America panel I was a part of on Safety FM for more info.

View the Reopening America panel on YouTube

Trois-Rivieres Training LLC – a gym in St. Cloud, MN 

National Safety Council’s SAFER Playbooks 

AIHA Back to Work Safely

Target post-COVID toolkit

Lyft health and safety program

Tesla COVID return to work playbook

Minnesota Department of Labor COVID plan template

Cushman & Wakefield resources

New York’s phased reopening with templates 

Safely Reopening Brewery Operations – Brewers Association

Velocity EHS state by state guidance