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Labor Day still part of 101 critical days of summer

By Jim Giacobbe | 37 Training Wing Safety Office | Nov. 20, 2006

Lackland Air Force Base, Texas — What is Labor Day and why do we celebrate it? Unlike other holidays we celebrate, this holiday, celebrated the first Monday in September, was born in the early days of our country's labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers.

Labor Day is a yearly national honor or tribute to the contributions workers have made to increase the power, wealth and safety of our nation.

As safety and occupational health specialists, our main focus is keeping our workers safe in their industrial work environment. Knock on wood; with the cooperation of our workers, supervisors, and managers throughout the installation, we do a great job in minimizing risk and preventing mishaps from occurring.

Unfortunately, off-the-job safety is a different matter. The biggest thing we have going for ourselves is the education and safety-related training that we have received on the job during our Air Force careers.

It is important to take what we have learned on the job home with us to protect ourselves, our families and our loved ones.

One of the tools we use on the job is Operational Risk Management, or ORM.
Off the job we may choose to simplify ORM and use an abbreviated process known as ACT which is: Assess the environment for risks, Consider options to limit risk, and Take appropriate action.

That said, the activity that goes on during Labor Day weekend is special. Recreation is the name of the game and throughout America we do it best. Sports, boating, hiking, swimming, picnics and travel both near and far are just some of the ways we celebrate.
Here are a few tips to help keep you safe.

- Plan ahead, consider your experience level and understand the hazards that may be involved and control them.

- Plan for the unexpected and emergencies.

- Check the weather.

It's important to know your limits and not to exceed them. Prior to physical activities remember to stretch and warm up. Before hiking or traveling, make a trip plan and follow it. It is also a good idea to leave a copy of your plan with others.

When planning a road trip, always take extra supplies such as fan belt, food, water, flashlight and a map of your route.

It's important to start out with adequate rest and to take frequent breaks along the way. Always remember to ensure your passengers, as well as yourself, are properly wearing seat belts.

If you plan to swim, never swim alone, and know your swimming ability. It is always best to swim in a controlled area that is monitored by a lifeguard.

Check the water before diving: shallow depth and hidden debris are always considerations when swimming.

When barbequing, gasoline may never be substituted for charcoal lighter fluid. The grill should be kept at least five to 10 feet away from the house, deck or any other combustible structure.

Also, keep children and pets away from the grill as they may accidentally bump it and get burned, or knock the grill over.

Always ensure the coals are completely extinguished before disposing of them.

Labor Day, is as American as Mom's apple pie, hot dogs, baseball, or ice cream on a warm summer night. Most of all, there is safety in Labor Day.