By Teri Snow, CSP, CEO of Snow Advisory, LLC and eDriving’s EHS&S Guru
As 2021 draws to a close, it’s natural to reflect on our accomplishments and challenges and to take stock of our goals as we head into 2022. Tradition has it that we make some resolutions for the coming New Year – resolutions that generally require greater self-discipline and effort to live the lives we truly want.
Under the dark cloud of the COVID Pandemic, we would be forgiven for just wanting to forget all that and quietly slog into 2022! The reality is there are a myriad of changes that we can make to live the happier, healthier, and safer lives we want. Let’s explore some.
- To combat the anxiety and stress many are experiencing with the current health crisis, it’s important that we maintain our healthcare appointments. Many of us have put them off, but you should see your dentist, optometrist, and primary care physician, as needed, making sure to follow all safety protocols.
- We should also get moving. Exercise, dance, and movement are free, mood-boosting activities. A mere 20-minute walk in the woods can lower your blood pressure and reduce the stress hormone – cortisol. A recent study suggests that reading for just six minutes a day can reduce stress. If you’re not into books, try a new hobby.
- Take a screen break and disengage from social media! If you’re able, try strengthening your connections to others—in-person—in real time. Studies show that maintaining strong connections to others increases both our physical and mental well-being. So, socialize (safely) with neighbors, friends, family members, and make new connections.
- Research shows that altruism, or charitable acts, are emotionally and physically rewarding. Doing something for someone else is a wonderful way to break the isolation so many of us have felt this last year.
- The pandemic forced many of us to start working from home. And while we don’t all have the luxury for dedicated, outfitted offices, we can make some changes that will improve the space we do use. A proper chair is paramount. If you can invest in an ergonomically designed, comfortable chair, do so. Chairs with castors are fine for carpeted areas, but not safe on vinyl or other smooth flooring. If you work at a counter and use a high stool, make sure it has a foot ring.
- Ensure that you have adequate task lighting for filing, printing, and computer work. Take care to hide power cords out of your way. Connect your computer equipment to a surge protector and keep it turned off when not in use. The top of your screen should be at eye level, and you should have space to rest your arms when not using your keyboard. Keep food and drink off your desk and away from electronics and files. If you aren’t fortunate enough to have a separate, quiet place to work, away from noise and distractions, consider noise-cancelling headphones. Remember, working at home can be isolating and lonely. Practicing self-care is extremely important to maintain your physical and mental well-being.
This year, supply chain struggles have highlighted the importance of the efficient and safe movement of goods. There are specific safety considerations that are unique to powered industrial truck (PIT) operators, including:
- Necessity of completion of PIT equipment specific training.
- Responsibility for performing and documenting inspections, reporting maintenance issues, and reporting hazards.
- The importance of being trained and competent in recognizing operational hazards, including operating in narrow aisles, operating close to pedestrians, and operating on sloped surfaces.
For drivers, think about this…although traffic volume went down during the pandemic, fatalities and serious injury crashes increased! One widely reported issue is that of drivers taking advantage of emptier roads, resulting in a higher proportion than normal of speeding, sometimes to a very excessive degree. Going forward let’s resolve to:
- Slow down
- Drive defensively and sustainably (EcoDrive)
- Be free from impairment and distractions
These are conscious decisions we can all make to improve safety on the roads for ourselves and others.
And there’s more good news to share. Just as the future holds exciting breakthroughs in treatments and therapeutics to combat the virus—it also holds exciting developments in safety, including in driver safety. Take eDriving’s Mentor program as one example that is arming drivers with the tools they need to protect themselves on the road. Features including predictive scoring, micro-training, gamification, and emergency response services – to help when a driver is involved in a collision or is in an emergency situation – are all exciting breakthroughs that can help keep those who drive for work purposes, and their families, safe on the roads.
In closing, I hope you will seize the opportunities you have to take control of your health and safety. Better days are ahead!