Driving on Snow and Ice

Originally published 01/20/2016

The best advice for driving on snow and ice is to avoid it if you can. If you can’t, it’s important to make sure your vehicle is prepared, and that you know how to handle the road conditions. The following tips will help make your drive safer on snow and ice.

Driving safely on icy roads:

  • Decrease your speed and leave yourself plenty of room to stop. You should allow at least three times more space than usual between you and the car in front of you.
  • Brake gently to avoid skidding.
  • Turn on your lights so that other drivers can see you.
  • Keep your lights and windshield clean.
  • Use low gears to keep traction, especially on hills.
  • Don’t use cruise control or overdrive on icy roads.
  • Be especially careful on bridges, overpasses and infrequently traveled roads. These areas will freeze first. Even at temperatures above freezing, if the conditions are wet, you might encounter ice in shady areas.
  • Don’t pass snow plows and sand trucks. The drivers have limited visibility, and you’re likely to find the road in front of them worse than the road behind them.
  • Don’t assume your vehicle can handle all conditions. Even four-wheel and front-wheel drive vehicles can encounter trouble on winter roads.

If your vehicle starts to skid:

  • Remain calm.
  • Take your foot off the accelerator.
  • If you have standard brakes, pump them gently.
  • If you have anti-lock brakes, do not pump them, but apply steady pressure to the brakes. You will feel the brakes pulse; this is normal.
  • Steer to safety.

If you get stuck:

  • Use a light touch on the gas to ease your car out.
  • Don’t spin your wheels. This will only dig you in deeper.
  • You may want to try rocking the vehicle. Give a light touch on the gas pedal and then release it. Repeating this action will start a rocking motion and could free your vehicle.
  • If necessary, use a shovel to clear snow away from the wheels and the underside of the vehicle.
  • Pour sand, kitty litter, gravel or salt in the path of the wheels to increase traction.

Keep in mind that winter brings adverse weather conditions. Be prepared to operate your vehicle in a defensive manner, and watch out for other vehicles on the road. Driving on snow and ice can be tricky, but can be done safely. Remember: Think safety and act safely.

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INDOT Internet Bidding Services

Raquel Asencio-Garcia, Assistant Director, ITI-Products, (888) 352-2439

The Indiana Department of Transportation will be transitioning from the Expedite Bid software to the AASHTOWare Project Bids TM Bid component on July 10, 2019. The Bid component requires the creation of a new Info Tech Digital ID and an approved request to bid with the agency. There are a few things to keep in mind when applying for the new Digital ID as the application has changed to streamline the process and continue to provide you with the most secure method for online bid submission.

We highly recommend you attend a free Internet bidding training session before bidding with this new process. In this session, you will learn how to download the new bidding software, apply for an Info Tech Digital ID for the Bid component, create a request to bid, download bid information, submit a bid online and additional services. The training session will take place Wednesday, Jan. 23 from 9:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. ET (11:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. lunch break on your own), at Indiana Government Center South, Conference Room C, 302 W. Washington St., Indianapolis, IN 46204.

Please bring to the training:

A windows-based laptop with the Internet Explorer 11 browser and administrative rights.

  • If you are bringing a MAC computer, please ensure you have the parallels or Boot Camp operating system installed so you can run Windows.
  • A clear picture of your driver’s license, state ID, or passport in a file to upload for identification purposes.

Please sign-up online to reserve your spot at a training session so you will be ready to bid.

If you need assistance or have any questions, please contact our support team at customer.support@bidx.com or (888) 352-2439.

Heart Attack – Warning Signs and Symptoms

Heart attacks are one of the leading causes of death today. They can occur anytime, but often happen while an individual is engaged in physical exertion.

Some heart attacks are sudden and intense. There is no doubt what is happening. But most heart attacks start slowly, with mild pain or discomfort. Often people affected aren’t sure what’s wrong and wait too long before getting help. Here are signs that can mean a heart attack is happening:

  • Chest discomfort. Most heart attacks involve discomfort in the center of the chest that lasts more than a few minutes, or that goes away and comes back. It can feel like uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain.
  • Discomfort in other areas of the upper body. Pain spreads to the shoulders, neck or arms. The pain may be mild to intense and feel like pressure, tightness, burning or a heavy weight. It may be located in the chest, upper abdomen, neck, jaw or inside the arms or shoulders.
  • Shortness of breath. Shortness of breath may occur with or without chest discomfort.
  •  Other Signs:
    • Chest discomfort with lightheadedness, fainting, sweating and/or nausea
    • Anxiety, nervousness and/or cold, sweaty skin
    • Paleness or pallor
    • Increased or irregular heart rate
    • Feeling of impending doom

Not all of these signs occur in every heart attack. Sometimes they go away and return. If you or someone you know is having symptoms of a heart attack, call 911. Calling 911 is almost always the fastest way to get lifesaving treatment. Emergency medical services (EMS) staff can begin treatment when they arrive – up to an hour sooner than if someone gets to the hospital by car. EMS staff are also trained to revive someone whose heart has stopped. Patients with chest pain who arrive by ambulance usually receive faster treatment at the hospital, too.

Remember these signs. Even if you’re not sure it’s a heart attack, you should still have it checked out. Fast action can save lives, maybe your own.

Download the recording form here.

Cold Weather Hazards

First published on 01/13/2016

Several potential hazards exist when winter temperatures fall below zero. This Toolbox Talk addresses three of them.

Frostbite is damage to skin and tissue caused by exposure to freezing temperatures. It can cause loss of feeling and color in affected areas. It can affect any part of the body; however, the nose, ears, cheeks, chin, fingers and toes are most likely to be affected. Frostbite can permanently damage body tissue and, in severe cases, can lead to amputation. The risk of frostbite is increased when individuals do not dress appropriately for the weather conditions.

Symptoms of frostbite include numbness; tingling or stinging; aching; and bluish, pail or waxy skin. If you think you are suffering from frostbite, get into a warm location as soon as possible. Unless absolutely necessary, do not walk on frostbitten feet. This increases the damage. Warm the affected area using body heat. For example, place a frostbitten hand under your arm. Do not rub or massage the affected area, because doing so can cause more damage to the skin. Do not use a heating pad, heat lamp, stove, fireplace or radiator for warming. Affected areas are numb and can easily burn.

Trench foot, also known as immersion foot, is caused from prolonged exposure to wet and cold conditions. It can occur at temperatures as high as 60 degrees Fahrenheit if the feet are constantly wet. Wet feet lose heat 25 times faster than dry feet. Therefore, to prevent heat loss, the body constricts blood vessels to shut down circulation in the feet. Skin tissue begins to die due to lack of oxygen and nutrients.

Symptoms of trench foot include reddening of the skin, numbness, leg cramps, swelling, tingling pain and bleeding under the skin. If you are suffering from trench foot, you should remove shoes/boots and wet socks, dry your feet and avoid walking, as this may cause tissue damage.

Chilblains are caused when the skin is repeatedly exposed to temperatures ranging from just above freezing to as high as 60 degrees Fahrenheit. The cold causes damage to the capillary beds (groups of small blood vessels) in the skin. This damage is permanent, and the redness and itching (typically on cheeks, ears, fingers and toes) will return with additional exposure.

Symptoms of chilblains include redness, itching, possible blistering, inflammation and possible ulceration in severe cases. If you have chilblains you should avoid scratching, slowly warm the skin, use corticosteroid creams to relieve itching and swelling and keep blisters and ulcers clean and covered.

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Jobsite Heating Devices

Originally published 12/2/2015

We commonly use temporary heaters on construction jobsites during winter months. When we use them correctly, heaters make our work environment more comfortable and safe. However, when we use them incorrectly, they can add a significant level of risk to an already dangerous environment, as they can to start fires and lead to explosions.

You should always inspect heaters prior to operating them. We use them seasonally and often store them for long periods of time. When we move a heater from one location to another, we may damage it, so look closely for telltale signs before and during initial use.

Before using any space heater or other temporary heating device, make sure the manufacturer approves it for the environment in which you intend to use it. Manufacturers make portable heating devices specifically for construction sites. The manufacturer’s specifications should explain how and where you may safely use the heater.

Make sure there is adequate ventilation in the room where you place the heater, and provide mechanical ventilation when there’s an inadequate natural fresh air supply.

Ask these questions when you’re selecting a heater:

  • Is the unit approved for direct contact with the floor/surface on which you plan to use it?
  • Does the unit consume oxygen?
  • Does it radiate heat and/or force heated air across the room?

Things to keep in mind when you’re using a heater:

  • Although the heater might not look hot, it could severely burn you if you touch it.
  • If a manufacturer hasn’t approved a heater’s use on wood (or other combustible material) surfaces, don’t use it there. You must place this type of heater on suitable heat-insulating material, such as one-inch concrete masonry blocks. Establish a safe perimeter that extends beyond the heater in all directions.
  • Place temporary heaters a safe distance from all combustible materials, such as tarpaulins, trash, wood or similar materials. Secure the materials to prevent wind from moving them closer to the heater.
  • Manufacturers intend for you to use most temporary heating devices in a horizontal position. Unless the manufacturer permits it, don’t attempt to use them otherwise.
  • Keep a fire extinguisher nearby, so it will be available immediately in the event of a fire.

Prevent accidents and injuries from occurring, plan for heater use and ensure you have sound safety procedures in place. Consider the jobsite’s conditions and requirements before selecting a temporary heater. Make sure all workers are aware of the heaters, and instruct them on how to use heaters safely. Always follow the manufacturer’s specifications.

Download the recording form here.

Accidents: Identifying Root Causes

Originally published 11/18/2015

Accidents and injuries create stress, and people react differently to stress. When accidents occur, a supervisor should take charge, and make sure everyone involved receives medical attention, if needed. They should also evaluate the area, identify potential problems that need to be addressed and limit access to the area to prevent further damage or injury. Once the situation is under control, the supervisor should begin the process of evaluating what happened and why it happened. The goal is to prevent a similar incident from happening again. To do that, you must understand the root cause of the accident.

Root-cause analysis is the process used to determine the cause of an incident, and come up with steps to prevent it from recurring. The process includes collecting information, charting or describing what happened over a fixed timeline, determining the root cause and finally, determining and implementing steps to prevent a similar incident.

Defining root causes:

  1. Root causes are underlying causes. The more specific an investigator is about why an event occurred, the easier it will be to arrive at a recommendation for prevention.
  2. Root causes can reasonably be identified. Occurrence investigations must be cost beneficial. It is not practical to keep valuable manpower occupied indefinitely searching for the root cause. Structured root-cause analysis will allow you to get the most out of the time invested in the investigation.
  3. Root causes can be influenced or controlled by management. Investigators should avoid listing general error classifications, such as operator error, equipment failure or external factors. These are not specific enough to allow management to make effective changes. Instead, identify specifics such as the following: Did this incident involve a new employee? Did he have sufficient training? Was the equipment faulty? Had it been tagged? Was it reported? Had it been regularly inspected and maintained? Were employees fatigued? Stressed?
  4. Root causes are those for which we can generate effective recommendations. If the investigator suggests a vague recommendation such as, “improve adherence to written policies and procedures,” he probably has not found the root cause of the incident, and needs to expend more effort in the analysis process.

Safety is everyone’s responsibility. Find and understand the root cause of an accident or injury, outline the steps necessary to prevent similar incidents in the future and communicate that information to everyone on the worksite. Give everyone the tools necessary to create and maintain a safe work environment.

Download the recording form here.