Breaking the Barrier of your Comfort Zone

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Most of the time here I share things that are specifically related to safety from the perspective of OSHA compliance or Best Practices. Some times it is about some new industry specific focus that is interesting. But today I want to share about something more personal.

Your health!

There are so many factors that affect your overall health, and it can be very overwhelming if you are just getting started. Depending on who you talk to they will all give you “wonderful” advise about the things that you need to do to get or stay “healthy”.

The short list is:

Each of these steps have a million little steps towards success. And they are all tightly intertwined. Which means, if you are even a little bit like me, you can find yourself heading down a rabbit hole from which there is no recovery.

Baby Steps

My advice? Take baby steps. Find one thing that you can change for the better. And work on that one thing until it is your new normal. Then change the next thing. And then the next.

Yes, this is a much slower way to achieve that end goal. BUT, it is also the much more successful way to achieve that end goal.

Build your Team!

Surround yourself with people that are on the same journey and that will hold you accountable. Accountability is the key here. Your team cannot be made entirely of the people that will jump off the cliff with you because you are having a weak moment. There has to be someone that can be counted on to be the ONE strong person in a situation and that will hold everyone else on the team accountable. And it doesn’t mean that the strong person is the same person every time, but that someone will always step up to that position when needed.

  • “I don’t want to work out this morning”
    • Okay, then you have to work out tonight.
  • “I want to eat a cake…and entire cake.”
    • No, you can eat a slice of cake, but you have to get in an extra hour of exercise this week, or swap in a salad for dinner, or…

Get Comfortable with Being Uncomfortable!

Change doesn’t happen when you are comfortable. Change happens when you try new things. So get comfortable being uncomfortable!

That can mean different things for different people, and you have to find your level of uncomfortable. And then get a little more uncomfortable.

Last September there was special that was being offered for people that wanted to join Camp Gladiator. My sister-in-law had joined them the year before and had been talking about how great it was, but my sister-in-law was also in a much different place than I was… she was thinner, fitter, and healthier. So whenever she would talk about us joining I would laugh and say that I wasn’t ready to die. But something clicked, finally, last September and I decided that it was worth trying for at least one month and then I could say I tried, I could quit and I could go back to my old habits….

But since I decided I was crazy enough to jump off that bridge I was going to take some people with me. I convinced my husband, and my coworker and his wife to all join at the same time. Because we are BETTER TOGETHER! And I knew that I needed someone to hold me accountable.

And after we were all signed up we learned that another of our co-workers was already a CG Camper.

Nine Months later…

We have gotten comfortable being uncomfortable. We don’t work out together, but we all work out and we hold each other accountable for those work outs.

  • “Did you go this morning/last night?”
  • “Did you… do burpees? drag a fire hose? run a mile?
  • “Are you signed up for…?”

Did you say “Uncomfortable”?

So, this past weekend we all participated in the Terrain Race – Austin 2019.

Here is proof:

This is me (Renee Ramthun) and my crazy husband (Chris) that supports me in all my insane adventures and goofball ideas. Seriously, I don’t think there is a clean spot on me anywhere.

Here is Damian Alvarez and his wife Melissa. They raced earlier in the day and somehow they seem to have fared better than we did.

Parting statements…

Don’t worry about how far you have to go, or how long the journey will take. Just take the first step. Go for a walk at lunch instead of sitting at your desk. Skip the bread basket. Sign up for a 5k (you are allowed to walk them, and they don’t have to be muddy).

Stand Down for Fall Prevention – 2019

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Jordan Foster Construction and our subcontractors participated in the National Stand Down for Fall Prevention across the state of Texas last week. 

Jordan Foster Construction partnered with the regional OSHA offices and Vendors to assist in making these events spectacular, in spite of the weather conditions that were encountered in some of our locations. 

We want to take the time to say Thank You to the following people:

  • Alex Porter, Area Director, US DOL OSHA, San Antonio Area Office
  • Abraham Arzola, Compliance Assistance Specialist, US DOL OSHA, El Paso Area Office
  • Jim Shelton, Compliance Assistance Specialist, US DOL OSHA, Houston North Area Office
  • HD Supply – Ben Pratt
  • Border Construction Specialties – James Harrald
  • MSA – BJ Shrader
  • Representatives from Lawless Group of Houston
  • Representatives from Guardian Fall Protection
  • Representatives from SafeWaze
  • Representatives from Hilti Tools

Topics focused on Fall Prevention and Protection, to include ladder safety, proper construction of guardrails, basic Scissor Lift awareness and proper installation and use of a Personal Fall Arrest System.

However, we also took the opportunity to address other safety topics including:

  • Heat Awareness
  • Electrical Safety and
  • Fire Extinguisher Training

Commercial Division – El Paso, TX – Plaza Hotel Renovation & Parking Garage

Our Partnership with OSHA at the Plaza Hotel Renovation and Parking Garage project has been an amazing experience.  Over the last 8 months we have been able to draw on the wonderful resources of our Compliance Assistance Specialist, Abraham Arzola.  Last week was no exception. 

He attends many of our monthly stand downs to help continue to build the strong relationship we have with OSHA.  Here you see him talking with John Goodrich, President Infrastructure Division and Damian Alvarez, EHS Manager.

Border Safety Systems presented the fall protection awareness training to the JFC and subcontractor employees.

Infrastructure Group – El Paso, TX

As we prepare to begin the “Montana Project” in El Paso that includes the construction of several bridges we wanted to take the opportunity to gather most of our Infrastructure employees together to talk to them about the importance of fall protection. 

Border Safety Services performed the fall protection demonstration along with BJ Schrader with MSA.

Multifamily Division – Houston, TX – SBC Kingwood

Our multifamily division took the opportunity to invite Mr. Jim Shelton, the Compliance Assistance Specialist for the OSHA – Houston North Area Office to meet with SBC Kingwood Project team members and subcontractors.  In spite of 5” of rain the day of the event there were 70 total attendees for a total of 2 hours of training including Ladder Safety, Fall Prevention & Personal Fall Arrest Systems presented by Lawless Group of Houston.  Additionally, the local representative from Hilti demonstrated some of the tools that can be used for Respirable Crystalline Silica Exposure Mitigation.

Commercial Division – San Antonio, TX – Thompson Hotel @ the Riverwalk

Our commercial division in San Antonio, TX took the opportunity to spend a week focusing on safety training that ranged from Fall Prevention and Protection to general safety awareness.

Mr. Alex Porter, Area Director for the OSHA San Antonio Area Office joined us on Thursday for the “official” Fall Protection Stand Down and spent time talking with our team members and all of our subcontractor workers about the importance of fall prevention and protection.

Infrastructure Division – Austin, TX

Like many of our locations, our Austin Infrastructure Division fought weather complications, ultimately deciding to schedule the meeting at the Office and Shop location rather than meeting on projects that were rained out.

Ben Pratt with HD Supply presenting the Fall Prevention and Protection Training to all of the workers. 

  • #JordanFosterConstruction
  • #JFC
  • #JFCSafety
  • #JFCCommunity
  • #ThinkSafeWorkSmart
  • #MSA
  • #HDSupply
  • #StandDown4Safety

National Safety Stand-Down to Prevent Falls in Construction

May 6 – 10, 2019

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The first full week of May is dedicated to Fall Prevention. This focus is for the Construction Industry, but Falls occur in every industry, so regardless of what industry you work in, why not take a moment to talk with your employees about the potential fall hazards in their workplace and at their homes and educate them on how to prevent injuries and fatalities related to falls.

Construction Industry

Approximately 1/3 of the construction fatalities in 2017 were the result of falls. And all of those fatalities were preventable.

Fatalities from falls don’t have to occur from a great height, they can occur from a fall on the same level…all it takes is for the victim to fall in such a way that they strike their head on something, so don’t ignore the hazards associated with:

  • Ladders – Step ladders, Straight ladders, and even Step stools
  • Stairs
  • Scaffolding
  • Excavations
  • Holes in the walking surface
  • Changes in elevations – Curbs, mechanical troughs
  • Housekeeping – Trash, Spilled liquids, Mud or Ice accumulation

Resources

OSHA has put together a collection of resource materials that you can use for your Stand-down to Prevent Falls in Construction this week. Click here. These resources aren’t exclusive to this week…so use them through out the year to reinforce your message.

Other Industries

The construction industry doesn’t hold the exclusive rights to fall hazards or the fatalities associated with them. So, if you work in other industries make sure you take the time to look at the work areas and assess them for fall hazards. Some of the common potential hazards that come to mind when I think about other industries are:

  • Stairs – do your workers properly use the stairs?
  • Ladders – do your workers properly use ladders?
  • Loading docks – are your loading docks properly protected?
  • Housekeeping
    • are all of your materials properly stored so they don’t become tripping hazards?
    • are all spills cleaned up properly so they don’t become slip hazards?

At Home

Now, for the one that hits home. Literally, at home. Think about all the things that you may do around your home that could create a fall hazard.

  • Do you use a ladder when you need to change that burned out light bulb, or do you stand on a chair? If you do use a ladder is it tall enough or are you standing on the top of it?
  • Do you use a step stool to reach the items stored on the top shelf of your kitchen cabinets, or are you standing on a chair, or, even worse, the counter?
  • Do you use the ladder properly when you are hanging your Holiday lights?

Conclusion

Falls are a major cause of serious injury and fatalities in the U.S. And they are ALL preventable.

Distracted Driving

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In the United States, distracted driving is attributed to 25% of motor vehicle crash fatalities.

In Texas, 444 people were killed and 2,889 were injured in distracted driving crashes in 2017.

The multiple ways we are distracted while driving

The top ten causes of distracted driving are:

  1. Generally distracted or “lost in thought” – 62%
  2. Cellphone use – 12%
  3. Outside person, object or event – 7%
  4. Other occupants – 5%
  5. Using or reaching for a device brought into the car – 2%
  6. Eating or drinking – 2%
  7. Adjusting audio or climate controls – 2%
  8. Using devices/controls to operate the vehicle – 1%
  9. Moving objects (flying insect or roaming pets) – 1%
  10. Smoking related – 1%

Safety Tips

  • Give 100% of your attention to driving 100% of the time
  • Set your phone to “Do not disturb” while you are driving
  • Set your GPS system before departing
  • Avoid all personal grooming while driving
  • Do not drive while impaired by alcohol, marijuana, opioids or other medications
  • Do not drive while fatigued

Fatigue?

Let’s talk about the effects of fatigue on your driving.

  • 21% of all fatal crashes may involve a drowsy driver
  • Driving on 4 – 5 hours of sleep means you are four times as likely to crash – the same crash risk as being legally drunk (0.08 BAC)

If you are on long road trips schedule a short stop about every 1.5 – 2 hours to exit your vehicle, stretch and simply “shake the cobwebs out of your head”. Studies have shown that after 90 minutes of continuous driving your performance starts to decline.

Share this information with your family and loved ones

How’s that Summer Body?

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Look, I know that for those of you that know me you are probably wondering why I am the one writing this particular article… since I am a LONG way from my envisioned “summer body”. But, it is that time of year when folks start wondering what happened to all of the New Years Resolutions they set and realizing that summer, and pools, and swim suits are just around the corner and they start to freak out about attaining some goal. So, let’s talk about it.

Say NO to the “Summer Body”

Lose the idea that you need a “summer body”. That mindset is ultimately going to create frustrations in your life. Instead focus on a “healthy body”. True, it does take longer to attain a “healthy body” but by reaching that goal you will also gain a “summer body” and it will last all year long.

Say NO to the fad diets

There are a LOT of them out there. And every single one of them has some great things about them…and some bad things about them. I have probably read every single book and listened to practically every podcast on them so I will keep my opinions on them to myself with exception to the following statements:

  1. Eat REAL food. If it comes in a box or a bag, you should probably avoid it. If it has “ingredients” that you can’t pronounce, you should probably avoid it.
  2. “Fad” diets (for the purposes of this specific discussion) is any diet that you start for the sole purpose of losing a lot of weight and with the full knowledge that you will not stick to that diet for the remainder of your life.

It is easy to say stop eating sugar or carbs or red meat or bananas or …. whatever it is that you aren’t supposed to eat according to this or that… for a week, or a month. But what will you be able to do long term? Every person is built and functions differently, so YOU have to figure out what will work for YOU. Maybe it is low fat/high carb; maybe it is Paleo; maybe it is Keto; maybe it is the “aliens diet from mars”…. Whatever, if it works for you, and it meets the REAL food rules and is generally approved by your physician, then do that.

Click here for Heart-Check Certified Recipes from the American Heart Association.

MOVE!

Whether it is one hour of exercise every other day or 15 minutes of exercise every other hour… it all adds up. Just start moving.

  1. Take a walk at lunch instead of eating at your desk
  2. Get a cordless headset so when you have a phone call you can stand up and walk around your office
  3. Park further away from the store front
  4. Take the stairs, not the elevator

The AHA recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate activity or 75 minutes of vigorous activity per week for adults. Activities such as a brisk walk at lunch or yoga when you wake up or before going to bed count.

Additionally, adults should focus on muscle strengthening activities at least 2 days per week. That doesn’t mean you need to become the next body builder champion, but you should do things that will strengthen and tone your muscles… running, jumping rope, swimming, or lifting weights all count.

DRINK!

WATER! Not sodas, not energy drinks, not even coffee or tea. WATER!

The more water you drink the better your body will function in all aspects of health. Water helps your body:

  • keep your temperature normal
  • lubricate and cushion joints
  • protect your spinal cord and other sensitive tissues
  • get rid of wastes through urination, perspiration and bowel movements

The common recommendation is to drink half of your body weight in ounces. So, if you weight 200 pounds you should be drinking 100 ounces of water every day. If you don’t like water because it is boring, add lemons or limes or whatever other fruit you prefer, but get the water in. With the summer heat right around the corner getting your water intake to the recommended levels is even more important to prevent dehydration.

Go to SLEEP!

Turn off the TV, the iPad, the iPhone… all of those distractions and go to sleep! Adults need 7 – 9 hours of sleep to function properly. Lack of sleep leads to a number of problems, many of which we will discuss on a different day, but one of them is that it changes the way your body functions metabolically… which translates into either gaining weight or making it difficult to lose weight.

Stay off of the Scale!

Women, this is mostly for you. It’s tough. We have grown accustomed to relying on a number on a machine to determine where we fit. But stop obsessing with it. Focus on the other victories… How do your clothes fit? How are you feeling? How is your energy levels? How are you sleeping?

Workers’ Memorial Day April 28, 2019

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April 28, 1971 OSHA opened its doors for the first time. And with that, ushered in a new era focused on the safety of the American Worker. Since that day American workplaces have become much safer, however there is still so much to do.

April 28 is Workers’ Memorial Day

Workers’ Memorial Day is a time we remember and honor the men and women who have lost their lives on the job.

The latest numbers come from 2017 and in that year 5147 workers lost their life on the job. Of that number 491 were in Texas. And 129 of those worked in the construction industry.

Of the 129 Construction Fatalities in Texas in 2017:

  • 44 were from falls
  • 30 were from work-related traffic incidents
  • 19 were from electricity
  • 16 were from being struck by equipment/vehicles
  • 7 were from being struck by a falling object
  • 7 were from workplace violence incidents
  • 6 were from other miscellaneous causes

Why should we have this Day?

No, I am not saying that we shouldn’t remember those that have lost their life on the job. We should remember them. We should learn from that loss.

But we should not have a Workers Memorial Day 2020, or 2021, or 2022…. Let’s eliminate the need for this day by eliminating Worker fatalities. If we perform our tasks safely, if we watch out for ourselves as well as our fellow worker we can eliminate this day.

Let’s make that our goal!

Rings + Construction = Disaster

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Rings are hazardous for anyone that works in construction. The hazards are numerous, but the two most common hazards are ring avulsions and electrical burns.

Ring Avulsions

Ring avulsions were “popularized” 2015 when Jimmy Fallon suffered from one in a horrific but some what mundane and bizarre home accident. And for many people the hazard remains something that is barely worth mentioning. However, for those of us that work in any industry that relies on manual labor the hazard is very real.

Ring avulsion injuries don’t go unnoticed, but because the injury does not always result in what is called “degloving of soft tissue” or “traumatic amputation” the seriousness of the injury can be misjudged. Typical symptoms of a ring avulsion include:

  • Swelling of the finger
  • Redness or bruising around the finger
  • Numbness and tingling down the finger

P.S. if you get queasy looking at gory photos, DO NOT google image this type of injury.

The surgery to repair such an injury is “many-hours-long” and more often than not results in amputation of the injured digit.

Electrical Burns

Most rings are metal. Metal is an excellent conductor of electricity. Simply by wearing your metal rings you increase your potential to create an electrical shock and the associated electrical burns.

Suitable alternative

Wedding rings are an important symbol to many people. And the thought of not wearing one just doesn’t work. So, what can you do instead?

Try one of the many Silicone Ring options that are available on the market. They come in a wide variety of colors, sizes and styles.

Silicone does not conduct electricity so the hazards associated with metal rings and electricity is eliminated.

Silicone rings are also very soft and stretchy….and ultimately breakable. Therefore if the ring did become caught on something it would more than likely break before causing significant damage to your fingers.