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Normal_tire,_spare_and_jackFor many people, working on their own cars or trucks isn’t just a way to save money, it’s also fun.

But anytime you work with heavy, mechanical objects, safety needs to be a top priority. There are a lot of things that can go wrong. The last thing you want is to ruin an enjoyable time playing under the hood or beneath your car.

Here are some safety tips for staying safe while working on your car, truck, or other vehicles.

Have the Right Tools for the Job 

Before you begin, make sure you have everything you need to do the job from start to finish. This includes any repair guides, owner’s manuals, or technical service documents to which you may need to refer.

It also includes safety equipment such as an ABC-rated fire extinguisher and a first aid kit, as well as personal protective equipment like safety goggles, a tight-fitting coverall that won’t get caught on spinning fans or moving parts, and gloves that can protect you from chemical fluids.

It’s also a good idea to take off any jewelry, such as watches, rings, or chains before you begin so they don’t get snagged. And either wear a hat or tie up any long hair so it won’t get caught.

Light and Air

Two of the most important tools you will need are light and air.

Make sure the area where you are working is well ventilated. Never start a motor in a closed garage because the carbon monoxide fumes created by the engine exhaust are toxic. Instead, keep the garage door open at all times or work outside.

Working on your vehicle outdoors will also give you plenty of light so you can see what you are doing. If weather or other variables force you to work in a garage, make sure you have work lamps or other light sources.

Working Under Your Vehicle

If you need to work beneath the vehicle and you don’t happen to have a hydraulic lift in your garage, park the vehicle on a flat concrete surface then use floor jacks that are rated to support the weight of your car or truck. You will need at least two sturdy jack stands, as well as wheel blocks.

Use a crawler designed for automotive repair use to gain access to the undercarriage of your vehicle. This lets you roll in and out easily, increasing the safety.

It’s also a good idea not to work alone when repairing or maintaining your vehicle. Having a buddy not only keeps you company but also improve safety if an emergency occurs.

Poster commemorating Worker's Memorial Day in 2010 (Image via Wikimedia Commons)

Poster commemorating Worker’s Memorial Day in 2010 (Image via Wikimedia Commons)

This Friday, April 28th, is Worker’s Memorial Day, a day of remembrance for workers who have died while on the job. But it’s also a day to highlight workplace safety in order to avoid further unnecessary workplace deaths.

While Worker’s Memorial Day doesn’t typically get as much attention as the regular Memorial Day — which is always held in the US on the last Monday of May for remembering members of the Armed Forces who were killed in battle — it actually has been around since 1970 and is observed worldwide.

Area Events to Be Held

Worker’s Memorial Day events are scheduled to be held throughout the US on Friday, including several local ceremonies for family members, friends, and co-workers of those killed on the job.

At 5 p.m. Friday, Boone and Winnebago County officials will gather at the AFL-CIO Rockford United Labor CLC E.J. “Zeke” Giorgi State of Illinois Building, at 200 S. Wyman St., in Rockford, for a Worker’s Memorial Day ceremony.

A similar event is scheduled for 5 p.m. Friday at Peoria’s Worker Memorial, located at 419 Fulton St.

And in downstate Alton, officials will gather at 7 p.m. at the Worker Memorial Monument located in Gordon Moore Park.

Origins of Worker’s Memorial Day

The first Worker’s Memorial Day was held in 1970 and was organized by the AFL-CIO to honor the many workers killed in the line of duty. A year later, the US Congress formed the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to help reduce workplace deaths and injuries.

In 1984, the Canadian Union of Public Employees also set April 28th as Worker’s Memorial Day. And in 1991, the Canadian parliament passed an act designating April 28th as a national day of mourning for persons killed or injured on the job.

Similar measures have been organized by trade unions throughout Asia, Europe, and Africa, making Worker’s Memorial Day a global event. This year, the day of remembrance will be recognized in Australia, Argentina, Belgium, Bermuda, Brazil, Dominican Republic, Gibraltar, Ireland, Luxembourg, Panama, Peu, Portugal, Spain, Thailand, Taiwan, and the UK.

Trade unions in Romania, Singapore, the Czech Republic, Finland, and Hungary are pursuing legislation to create Worker’s  Memorial Day in those countries as well.

Workplace Dangers Highlighted

Every year, thousands of people are killed while performing their normal work duties. In 2012 alone, 4,628 workers were killed on the job, an average of about 12 deaths per day. And in that same year, another 3 million non-fatal injuries were reported.

The economic burden of occupational injuries and deaths has been estimated to be more than $250 billion per year.


Mobile Poly Strapping MachineStrapping is widely used for securing bundles, loads, and products for safe and efficient shipment. But the term strapping actually encompasses a lot of different types including poly strapping, woven cord strapping, and even steel strapping.

The type of strapping you need will depend on the type of load you are shipping. For example, bundles of 2X4s shipped from lumber yards will need different strapping than bundles of hay sent from a commercial farming operation. And recycled paper bags require a third kind of strapping.

So which kind do you need? Here’s some information to help you find out.

Types of Plastic Strapping

Plastic strapping is a category that includes several different types of strapping, including polypropylene strapping, polyester strapping, and nylon strapping.

Polypropylene strapping is probably the most widely used type of strapping in business and industry because its light to medium duty and is highly economical. It’s the kind of strapping most commonly used in palletizing, unitizing, and in carton closing and bundling.

Nylon strapping used to be popular because it was easy to determine its specific strength or the strength-to-weight ratio. However, because nylon is more costly than other types of strapping it has fallen out of favor.

The benefit of polyester strapping is that it can be easily woven to create greater strength. It is often used as a replacement for steel strapping.

Benefits of Steel Strapping

Steel strapping is the oldest type of strapping. Also called steel banding, it has been in use since the late 19th Century and is still used today to bind things like lumber, rolled steel, and for open top railcar and trailer loading.

Steel is the strapping material of choice for binding heavy loads that require maximum strength and minimum stretch. Steel also comes in a variety of surfaces, including paint, paint and wax, and galvanized steel to prevent corrosion.

Besides its cost, the downside of steel strapping is that it can rust over time. It also adds more weight to the load than polypropylene or polyester strapping.

Steel is also more likely to tear or scratch the cargo it is binding. Plus, if you aren’t careful when cutting steel bands, they can spring and lash, potentially causing injury.

Finally, steel won’t change shape. So if the load it is holding shifts, shrinks, or otherwise becomes smaller, the steel strapping will remain the same size and will no longer hold the cargo securely.



AmazonFreshAs the relationship between retailers and their customers becomes increasingly virtual, many businesses are looking for new ways to cut costs and increase profits.

The latest idea being touted is to offer customers discounts if they come in to pick up the purchases they make online, rather than having them delivered to their homes.

This “last mile” delivery to a customer’s home — via UPS, FedEx, or even the US Postal Service — is the most expensive part of fulfilling any online order. So when businesses can eliminate this step by having customers come to them, rather than the other way around, they can pass the savings onto consumers.

Wal-Mart’s Master Plan

Wal-Mart is rolling out a program that does just that.

Last week, the world’s largest real-world retailer announced that it will soon debut a “pickup discount”, offering reduced prices on more than 1 million online-only products to customers who agree to pick up their purchases at their nearby store rather than having them delivered to their homes.

It’s the latest move by Wal-Mart to cut into the growing market share of Amazon, the world’s largest online retailer, which offers free delivery to its Amazon Prime customers and is working toward same-day delivery — or even same-hour delivery — for its online orders.

Wal-Mart’s biggest advantage over Amazon right now is its vast network of brick and mortar stores. Nearly every large- and medium-sized city has a Wal-Mart, as do thousands of small towns and rural areas.

The Bentonville, Arkansas, based company already owns its delivery network of trucks that supplies these stores, so it can more easily afford absorb the discount to customers who opt to eliminate its “last mile” delivery costs.

Applications for Other Businesses

While discounting in-store pickups of online orders make sense for Wal-Mart, could it benefit other businesses as well?

It all depends. No comany has the physical market saturation of that Wal-Mart enjoys. But most businesses also don’t have Amazon’s network of distribution centers and delivery vans, either.

Amazon also has a network of on-call people who use their own vehicles to make package deliveries in their own neighborhoods and is even reportedly developing a robot drone army to airdrop packages directly to its customers front porches.

As the sea change toward online ordering continues to build, it’s going to be challenging for businesses to compete with the massive resources and investments that huge companies like Amazon and Wal-Mart can tap into. Yet in order to be competitive, they will have to try.


happy employees are productive employeesAccidents happen. They are a part of life.

But even a relatively minor workplace accident can cause a world of problems for your business if it isn’t handled properly.

You may have forgotten about the accident several weeks later when a letter from an attorney or a civil complaint arrives on your desk.

Protecting your workers, your customers, and your property is important. But equally important is protecting your business from the nightmare of litigation that can result from even the smallest workplace accident.

Before an Accident Happens

The best way to handle workplace accidents is to prevent them from happening in the first place.

Try to identify potential hazards in your workplace and then remove these hazards before they can cause injury to a person or damage to property. While this is easier said than done, if you can prove in court that you have performed “due diligence” in making your workplace as safe as possible, it can be used in your defense.

Most workplace accidents are “slip and fall” accidents. Common causes include oily or wet surfaces, spills, weather hazards, or loose rugs or mats. Look for these potential hazards first because they are the easiest to correct.

Schedule routine walk-throughs of your business to look for hazards like these, as well as cracking or uneven floors, obstacles, file drawers left open, and other potential dangers. If your flooring is inherently slippery, consider coating it with non-skid materials.

Employee Responsibilities

The business owner doesn’t have to bear the full burden of eliminating workplace risks. Employees also should be held to the highest safety standards.

Require workers to wear non-slip footwear to help prevent slip and fall accidents. Hold regular safety meetings in which ways to improve workplace safety are shared and discussed.

Create a culture of safety in which workers are trained to clean up spills immediately, clearly mark all wet floors or other high-risk areas, and sweep and mop up debris regularly.

Keep a Record of Your Safety Actions

If your business is sued, you need to be able to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you took every action possible to avoid unnecessary accidents. So before an accident happens, it’s important to keep detailed records of everything you do to promote workplace safety, including keeping routine inspection checklists on file, requiring employees to read and sign off on safety requirements, and documenting violations of work rules related to safety.

To fully prevent workplace accidents, it’s necessary to get buy-in from everybody within your organization.

Pick-Plank in use. (Courtesy: Unex)

(Courtesy: Unex)

Cardboard boxes are everywhere. They are widely used in industry, commercial businesses, and even in most homes.

The benefits of cardboard boxes are that they are sturdy, inexpensive, and when not in use can be stored conveniently folded. A stack of a hundred cardboard boxes will take up only a small amount of space in your factory or warehouse.

Cardboard Box Assembly

Most cardboard boxes are exactly the same, differing only in their size and the density of the cardboard. They feature four walls, four flaps on the bottom, and four flaps on the top.

That means that the same process can be used to assemble practically any type of cardboard box, whether it is a tiny box for carrying loose nuts, bolts, and screws, or a wax-covered cardboard box for transporting fresh produce, or a large cardboard box for packing up items in your home while moving.

You don’t need any specialized equipment to assemble a cardboard box. All you really need is some packing tape and enough space to store the assembled boxes once you put them together, and that’s it!

Six Simple Steps

So here’s all you need to do to assemble just about any cardboard box.

1. Look to see where the folds are on the cardboard box. These are usually quite evident.

2. Pull the box open and turn it upside down, so that there are four sides and an opening in the middle.

3. Fold in the two shortest flaps opposite each other. Then fold in the remaining two flaps.

4. Straighten the joining edges and seal with the packing tape. It’s a good idea to go a little behind the edges with the tape so that it can be folded up and over the side to provide a little more stability and strength.

5. Turn the box right side up and load it with whatever you need to pack in it.

6. Fold in the top flaps in exactly the same sequence as the bottom flaps and then secure the folds with more packing tape.

And that’s it.

Practice Makes Perfect

Assembling a standard cardboard box isn’t difficult and most people can master it in just a few minutes. But like anything else, the more you do it, the better and faster you will be at it.

If you are assembling a lot of cardboard boxes, you probably will want to invest in a tape gun to speed up the process of applying the tape.



HALLOWELL Heavy-Duty Ventilated Steel LockersToday, everybody has a smartphone. But for many businesses, allowing employees to keep their smartphones with them while they work is just asking for trouble.

Yet if companies require workers to secure their smartphone somewhere while they work, they generally have to provide a safe place for them to do so.

Providing storage lockers for employees is a relatively minor upfront expense that can pay big dividends down the line. Not only can lockers keep your workspace cleaner, more organized, and safer, but they also can make it more productive.

Eliminating Clutter

Lockers offer employees a place to safely store their personal belonging while they work, such as coats, hats, gloves and scarves in cold weather months. Without lockers, many of these items could end up in the workplace, creating cluttered and even unsafe conditions.

Providing storage space for workers also can make your workspace look and feel more professional and less temporary. When your employees have a designated area where they can change into their work clothes and store their personal belongings, they will perceive your business as more organized.

An Affordable Employee Benefit

Your staff will also trust your business more when you provide secure storage space for their belongings. Lockers are one of the most affordable employee benefits because their cost can be accrued over a long period of time and they typically will last many years, if not decades.

When workers feel more comfortable working at your business, they are less likely to look for other jobs, reducing both your turnover and the cost of hiring and training new employees.

Word of Mouth MarketingSense of Belonging

Many workers will have more job satisfaction when they are provided with a storage locker. If it is a permanently assigned locker, they also can feel a greater sense of belonging. They may even feel as if they have the respect of management.

These types of “trust bonds” can enhance productivity in the workplace. When workers are happier in their jobs, they are less likely to look for other things to complain about, resulting in a more harmonious work environment in which more work gets done.

So a small investment in a  set of lockers can provide many benefits for both your employees and your business for many years to come.

Check out the large selection of lockers, shelving, cabinets, and other storage solutions at We have all of your storage solutions.


package deliveryAt some point or another, most businesses have to deal with problem employees. These are the people who consistently manipulate the system for their benefit, try to poison the environment for other employees, and generally make their bosses’ lives a living nightmare.

The best way to keep these toxic employees out of your workplace is by not hiring them in the first place. But if they are already in your employ and they are smart enough not to break any major rules, then getting rid of them usually requires time, patience, and (most importantly) documentation.

Avoiding an Improper Termination

We live in a litigious society. So if you terminate an employee without proper cause or documentation, odds are you may either have to hire them back or pay out a hefty settlement.

There are certain infractions that are so bad that the courts or an employment hearing judge will side with the company, such as showing up drunk, fighting, or threatening another employee.

But businesses may find themselves on the losing side of a court or employment hearing if the worker was let go without proper cause. Unfortunately, not getting along with their boss may not be enough to justify their firing. Even poor work performance can fail to meet the standard if it wasn’t adequately documented.

Providing Proof

That’s where tracking and recording violations of workplace rules and consistently and fairly measuring work performance become critical.

When an employee is disciplined for their workplace behavior — or even simply coached to improve their performance — a document should be created, presented to the worker for their signature, then placed in a permanent employee record file for future reference. It’s better if these disciplinary documents follow a recognizable progression: First Warning, Second Warning, Final Warning.

Similarly, employee performance evaluations should be performed according to a regular schedule, such as annually, every six months, or even quarterly.

Consistency Is the Key

This approach should be applied consistently to every member of the business’s workforce, not just problem employees. If it can be proven that the terminated employee was held to a different standard than everyone else, a court may rule that it was an improper termination.

In order to terminate a problem employee without having to worry about later consequences, the employer should be able to show a pattern of problems, that management made a genuine effort to correct the behavior and improve the worker’s job performance, and be able to provide fair and equitable documentation that was signed and acknowledged by the employee.

Getting rid of problem employees can be challenging, but it’s not impossible. Once you have systems in place that are consistently applied to the entire workforce, it can strengthen and improve your business and give you the confidence to move forward with important personnel decisions.



16312842993_b77130e0fe_mAnyone who has to stand for some or all of their shift at work is probably intimately familiar with back aches. That’s because standing for prolonged periods of time can put stresses on the back, as well as other areas of the body, causing the familiar soreness and stiffness.

Backaches can happen to anybody, regardless of their age, weight, physical condition, or even the amount of time you stand.

Common Causes of Backaches

Most backaches are actually caused by stress — specifically, the tension your muscles experience while working to keep your body upright.

Standing in one position for a long period of time — anywhere from an hour to an entire shift — causes muscles to fatigue. This can lead to tendon and ligament damage, which is what causes the pain associated with backaches.

Unless you occasionally rest your body, your backaches will likely worsen. In fact, if you stand in the same position long enough, it can even cause the joints from your neck all the way down to your feet to temporarily lock up.

Posture and Fitness

There are some physical solutions to combatting backaches. If you use proper posture — in other words, standing up straight and tall as often as possible — there’s no guarantee that your back won’t get sore, but it may not happen as quickly.

Poor posture, the other hand, such as slouching your shoulders and holding your hip flexors too tight, can increase the stress on your lower back.

Similarly, the better physical condition you are in, the less likely you are to experience backaches as quickly. Conversely, being out of shape and overweight can cause backaches to occur more quickly and more frequently.

Equipment to Help Avoid Backaches

anti fatigue matBack supports can help prevent injury while lifting, but they are less effective at preventing backaches caused by prolonged standing. On the other hand, they probably won’t hurt.

A better solution is to buy high-quality, supportive boots or shoes. Women should avoid wearing heels if they have to stand for any prolonged period of time.

Both men and women should opt for footwear that is sturdy, comfortable, and have room for insoles or orthotics.

An anti-fatigue mat can also help prevent backaches from happening as quickly or as severely. Anti-fatigue mats provide a soft yet supportive, anti-slip surface that can make you feel as if you are standing on a cloud.

You don’t have to learn to live with backaches anymore.


Fire ExtinguisherOne of the most important pieces of equipment at any business is one that is never used, at least if everything goes right.

In most workspaces, fire extinguishers are something that are always there waiting for the moment that hopefully never comes. But when you need to use it, you want to make sure your fire extinguisher is fully charged, unexpired, and ready to be put to use.

Checking Your Fire Extinguishers

Most fire extinguishers found in office or warehouse settings contain compressed chemical flame suppressants that can easily put out most ordinary workplace fires, as long as they are not too big or out of control.

But the pressure holding these chemicals in place can slowly dissipate over time. That’s why most fire extinguishers are inspected and have an expiration date. This is usually the latest possible date that the fire extinguisher can be used with confidence that the chemicals will spray out as designed.

Using an expired fire extinguisher can be disappointing, to say the least. If the pressurization is lost, when you pull the trigger you likely will get a dribble rather than a spray … if you get anything at all.

Fire Extinguisher Inspections

As a result, fire extinguishers need to be inspected according to a regular schedule. Those that are approaching their expiration date need to be either replaced or recharged.

Because the equipment used to recharge fire extinguishers can be costly, many businesses use a service that provides them with a fresh supply of newly charged fire extinguishers on a regular basis. Fire extinguisher companies also can handle the inspection and replacement process. Usually, they will come to your business according to a regular schedule, such as monthly or quarterly.

But companies that have a lot of fire extinguishers or use the equipment in multiple locations might consider investing in a recharging unit. This includes an agent, an air compressor, and a basic understanding of how to recharge fire extinguishers.

Checking the Pressure Gauge

Just because a fire extinguisher has a tag that says it isn’t expired, that’s no guarantee that it’s going to work when you need it. Regardless of whether you maintain your own fire extinguishers or hire a fire extinguisher service to do it for you, it’s a good idea to train your employees to know how to read its pressure gauge.

Generally, when the needle on the gauge is in the green, the fire extinguisher has enough pressure to work properly. But if the needle is in the red area, it may not work when you need it.