Incident Prevention Magazine

Jennifer A. Martin

Into the Woods

Having worked in the safety field for more years than I care to discuss publicly, I am frequently reminded of the continual need to adapt existing safety policies and procedures to ever-changing work environments. The safety field provides ongoing opportunities to learn and improve our work practices, with the important goal of making job sites safer for everyone. Prior to my current role within the safety industry, my boots-on-the-ground field time occurred either within four walls or during the construction of those four walls. Delving into the utility industry and experiencing the sheer isolation of some worksite locations were new experiences for me.

For the longest time, the environmental section of my tailboards looked like the cookie-cutter variety. In the summer, the section consisted of anything related to heat, including heat stress, heat cramps, heat stroke and dehydration. The winter section revolved around hazards related to cold and ice: hypothermia, frostbite, winter driving conditions and slippery work/walking surfaces.

And of course, ticks are mentioned seasonally in nearly every safety professional’s tailboard paperwork, including mine. But what about all of the other creatures that may be found in rights-of-way and other remote work locations, particularly bears, which can be found in the majority of U.S. states and in Canada? Are they being mentioned in your tailboards? They weren’t always mentioned in mine, but they are now.

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