Category Archives: holidays

Considering Priorities on Patriot Day

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“Where were you when the world stopped turning on that September day?” Alan Jackson, “Where Were You”

Have you heard that tune? While I don’t remember all the words, the internets can help with that, and the words definitely provoke some strong feelings and memories.

Today is Patriot Day. For so many people on Sept. 11, 2001, the change was swift and often tragic. Many people, all over the United States, are still living the ramifications of that day, whether directly or indirectly.

Life changes all the time, in an instant, for a friend, a family, or a community, even New York City. So what (and who) are your priorities?

While at a family gathering recently in small-town Nebraska, I found myself reflecting on priorities and how important it is to appreciate loved ones, both family and friends. It seems like Patriot Day also give a chance for entertaining such thoughts.

We were at a town that seems idyllic, but I’m sure people have their challenges and issues, as happens everywhere. This is also a town that was hit very hard by winds and baseball-sized hail earlier in the summer. No tornadoes, but there was plenty of damage. Many windows are still boarded up, and seeing people on roofs is a regular occurrence as homes are still being repaired.

During our visit, the scaffolding attached (or next to) to the house across the street collapsed. The two people on the roof (one of whom was the homeowner) were there amid the rubble, on the ground. They were at the highest point of the old house, so they both fell a good 20 feet. The volunteer fire department brought both of the town’s ambulances. The first responders, including a town policeman, were efficient and took great care in loading the gentlemen onto backboards and transporting them to the hospital.

Time can do funny things in a situation like that. Although 911 was called quickly and the policeman was there very fast, it seemed like it took forever for ambulances to arrive, although it really wasn’t very long, and it was very interesting to see the volunteer firefighters/EMTs meet the ambulances at the site for efficiency. All these vehicles descended at the house, and each first responder jumped out of his or her vehicle (you know you’re in a small town when …). They seemed to do a well-rehearsed dance, and you could see the hard work, concern and speed needed. We learned later that the two most likely would survive, but the extent of the damage they face is unknown, as each man on the roof broke his back.

Although I don’t know the people hurt, just as I didn’t personally know anyone in the Sept. 11 tragedy, it is still easy to empathize and think about the “what ifs.”

But it’s most important to face the new reality and call, write and hug loved ones. Because events and tragedy, whether personal or even nationwide, often elicit strong emotions in those who experience them. However, it’s the action afterwards that counts.

Please take that “where were you then” moment, think about it in the best way you know how, and then use it to provide a positive memorable moment for someone close to you. Because who are your priorities?

Happy Patriot Day.

Offices Closed for Labor Day on Friday, Monday

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Labor Day

Please be safe, and have a happy Labor Day weekend.

The firm’s offices will be closed on Friday, Aug. 29, and Monday, Sept. 1, for the Labor Day holiday. We will be open on Tuesday, Sept. 2, at 8:30 a.m. 

May your 2014 Labor Day celebration be thoughtful, fun and safe. Here’s a past blog post that I wrote about Labor Day, and the main points remain much more poignant, as 2014 is an election year, and as I’ve been writing in recent blog posts, workers, whether injured or not, are greatly affected by those who are elected. Because keep in mind that many workers’ protections are being eroded by business in pursuit of profit, and nonunionized workers generally fare worse than those who belong to unions.

So as you go about your business – whether marching in a Labor Day parade, traveling safely through the last weekend of summer, enjoying quiet time at home, or even providing for your family by working – think about your life situation and reflect on those workers who have gone before to provide a better quality of life for workers today, regardless of individual job situation. I know I will do just that.

Happy Labor Day! What are your plans? And why do we have this day off of work? Is it to celebrate summer ending and school starting? In Nebraska, it might be to celebrate what is often the first weekend of Husker football and the last weekend of the State Fair.

But are there other reasons? Just like the origins of workers’ compensation, we can attribute the fact that we have a holiday to the American worker.

Labor Day – the first Monday in September – celebrates the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of America,” according to www.usa.gov.

Sources explain in varying amounts of detail the controversy over who founded Labor Day and how the “workingmen’s holiday” was celebrated on that day. But what isn’t up for debate is that unions and their workers were a very important part of developing Labor Day to celebrate workers’ contributions.

I am pleased to share that the state of Nebraska was actually one of the first to celebrate Labor Day and had passed legislation recognizing the holiday by 1890. Other states that were Labor Day pioneers included Oregon, Colorado, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, and Pennsylvania.

There are some romantic notions about how Labor Day came into being, and some sources even gloss over some of the gritty details, but Continue reading

Halloween Safety Tips

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trick or treatToday’s post comes from guest author Jon L Gelman LLC in New Jersey. Although Halloween comes every year, for many children, it’s important to remember that they’re more impulsive and are more likely to “forget” the rules because they’re excited for the evening’s plans. Especially if you’re working or driving on Halloween, I would add to the tips below by saying to really watch out for trick-or-treaters, regardless of the weather.

In addition, as a parent of a small child, thanks in advance to everyone who opens up their homes by giving out treats to costumed children.

Something that may be a safety tip for many children is to be mindful that different children approach Halloween differently and it’s not always obvious that a child may be having challenges. There are so many examples I can give, but one that comes to mind includes for a painfully shy child, just saying trick-or-treat and thank you at each house may be an effort in social graces. And trick-or-treaters on the autism spectrum may not be able to speak at all.

In addition, food allergies are much more prevalent. For my family, Halloween safety tips include bringing a charged cell phone, packing our Auvi-Q epinephrine shots to respond if our child were to have a reaction, and making sure he doesn’t eat anything with nuts. (Fortunately, we don’t have airborne allergies, so it is relatively safe for our son to do trick-or-treating, but we practice what he is to say and do numerous times before the actual trick-or-treating. Different parents have different comfort levels for what they’re willing to expose their children with allergies to, so we respect that, too.)

So for those kind enough to give treats, please don’t take it personally if the response from the trick-or-treater isn’t what you expected. Because in addition to the safety tips below, many families are being as safe as they can for their individual situations, and those needs aren’t readily obvious on the holiday.

Thanks in advance for the empathy and for looking out for the community’s children on one of the biggest and scariest days of the year!

Halloween traditionally infers scary and dark. Those elements, complicated by sensory limiting costumes and environment, gives rise to the need for elevated safety concerns in the workplace and at-home surrounding Halloween events.

From a fall resulting in a dislocated shoulder, to an open flame resulting in second degree burns, each year the US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) receives reports of injuries involving Halloween-related costumes, décor, and lighting. These incidents are preventable. Using CPSC’s three-step safety check (pdf), consumers can ensure that their fright night fun is not haunted by Halloween injuries

“Too often Halloween make believe has resulted in real life injury,” said CPSC Chairman Inez Tenenbaum. “Fortunately, prevention is simple. Choose flameless candles, flame-retardant materials, and well-fitting costumes to reduce the risk of injury this Halloween.”

With CPSC’s quick and easy Halloween safety check (pdf) and just five minutes of inspection, consumers can avoid problems that previously have plagued the trick-or-treat trail. This safety check will help consumers to: (1) prevent fires and burns, (2) ensure that kids can see and be seen, and (3) outfit kids for safety.

Halloween-related incidents can involve a number of hazards, including burns from flammable costumes that come into contact with open flames-particularly candles used to illuminate jack-o-lanterns; falls and abrasions from ill-fitting costumes, shoes, and accessories; and fires caused by burning candles left unattended, near combustible decorations or knocked over by kids and pets.

The federal Flammable Fabrics Act (FFA) requires costumes sold at retail to be flame-resistant. To prevent costume-related burns, CPSC enforces this requirement and recalls costumes and other products that violate the FFA. When making a costume at home, CPSC encourages consumers to use fabrics that inherently are flame resistant, such as nylon and polyester.

According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), Halloween ranks among the top 5 days of the year for candle-related fires. To prevent candle fires, CPSC encourages consumers never to leave a burning candle unattended. Battery-operated flameless candles and other flameless lighting are safe alternatives to traditional candles.

Unique jack o’ lanterns and creatively-carved pumpkins are a new popular trend. Read CPSC’s OnSafety blog on pumpkin-carving injuries and how to prevent them

Additional safety tips to help make this year’s holiday safe:

Decorations

Halloween DecorationsKeep candles and jack o’ lanterns away from landings and doorsteps, where costumes could brush against the flame.

Remove obstacles from lawns, steps, and porches when expecting trick-or-treaters.
When indoors, keep candles and jack o’ lanterns away from curtains, decorations, and other items that could ignite. Do not leave burning candles unattended.

Whether indoors or outside, use only decorative light strands that have been tested for safety by a recognized testing laboratory. Check each set of lights, new or old, for broken or cracked sockets, frayed or bare wires, or loose connections. Discard damaged sets.

Don’t overload extension cords.

Costumes

Halloween costumes

When purchasing costumes, masks, beards, and wigs, look for flame-resistant fabrics, such as nylon or polyester; or look for the label “Flame Resistant.” Flame-resistant fabrics will resist burning and should extinguish quickly. To reduce the risk of contact with candles and other fire sources, avoid costumes made with flimsy materials and outfits with big, baggy sleeves, large capes, or billowing skirts.

Purchase or make costumes that are light colored, bright, and clearly visible to motorists.
For greater visibility during dusk and darkness, decorate or trim costumes with reflective tape that will glow in the beam of a car’s headlights. Bags or sacks also should be light-colored or decorated with reflective tape. Reflective tape is usually available in hardware, bicycle, and sporting goods stores.

Children should carry flashlights to be able to see and to be seen.

To guard against trips and falls, costumes should fit well and not drag on the ground.
Children should wear well-fitting, sturdy shoes. High heels are not a good idea.
Tie hats and scarves securely to prevent them from slipping over children’s eyes and obstructing their vision.

If your child wears a mask, make sure it fits securely, provides adequate ventilation, and has holes for eyes large enough to allow full vision.

Swords, knives, and similar costume accessories should be made of soft, flexible material.

Treats

halloween treatsChildren should not eat any treats before an adult has examined them carefully for evidence of tampering.

Carefully examine any toys or novelty items received by trick-or-treaters who are younger than 3 years of age. Do not allow young children to have any items that are small enough to present a choking hazard or that have small parts or components that could separate during use and present a choking hazard.

Labor Day Provides a Chance for Reflections, Lore

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Labor Day

I hope your 2013 Labor Day is thoughtful, fun and safe. Here’s the blog post that I wrote last year about Labor Day, and the main points remain true. But keep in mind that many workers’ protections are being eroded by business in pursuit of profit, and nonunionized workers generally fare worse than those who belong to unions. So as you go about your business – whether marching in a Labor Day parade, traveling safely through the last weekend of summer, enjoying quiet time at home, or even working – think about your life situation and reflect on those workers who have gone before to provide a better quality of life for workers today, regardless of job situation. I know I will do just that.

Happy Labor Day! What are your plans? And why do we have this day off of work? Is it to celebrate summer ending and school starting? In Nebraska, it might be to celebrate what is often the first weekend of Husker football and the last weekend of the State Fair.

But are there other reasons? Just like the origins of workers’ compensation, we can attribute the fact that we have a holiday to the American worker.

Labor Day – the first Monday in September – celebrates the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of America,” according to www.usa.gov.

Sources explain in varying amounts of detail the controversy over who founded Labor Day and how the “workingmen’s holiday” was celebrated on that day. But what isn’t up for debate is that unions and their workers were a very important part of developing Labor Day to celebrate workers’ contributions.

I am pleased to share that the state of Nebraska was actually one of the first to celebrate Labor Day and had passed legislation recognizing the holiday by 1890. Other states that were Labor Day pioneers included Oregon, Colorado, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, and Pennsylvania.

There are some romantic notions about how Labor Day came into being, and some sources even gloss over some of the gritty details, but Continue reading

Turn Your Home Into A Safe Winter Wonderland!

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Today’s post comes from guest author Catherine Stanton from Pasternack Tilker Ziegler Walsh Stanton & Romano. Be sure to take the time to enjoy and decorate for the holiday season. But also keep safety in mind. For example, if you have big plans to walk around your roof hanging holiday lights, watch for slick spots, even on nice days. And it’s probably not a spoiler to mention that the video below shows just how fast a Christmas tree and even the living room can go up in flames! The ideas below have more tips from the experts at the CPSC to stay safe while enjoying the holidays.

While many of you have probably already put up your tree, for those of you doing some last minute holiday decorating, we wanted to share a few tips from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commisssion (CPSC) to help you make the season bright safely.

CHRISTMAS TREES

  • When purchasing an artificial Christmas tree, check for a “fire resistant” label. While this doesn’t mean that the tree certainly won’t catch fire, it does mean the tree is resistant to burning.
  • When purchasing a fresh Christmas tree, check for freshness. Fresh trees are green, with firm needles that won’t bend or break between your fingers. The bottom of a fresh tree is sticky with resin, and fresh trees shouldn’t lose many needles when tapped on the ground.
  • Place your tree away from fireplaces, vents, and radiators.
  • Heated rooms dry out fresh trees quickly, so make sure to keep the stand you’re your tree is in filled with water and check water levels daily.

HOLIDAY LIGHTING

  • When purchasing holiday lights, make sure only to use lights purchased by a nationally recognized testing agency such as UL or ETL
  • Use newer lights that have thicker wiring and safety fuses to prevent overheating.
  • Check new or old lights for broken or cracked sockets, frayed or bare wires, or loose connections. Throw away damaged sets.
  • Only use lights certified for outdoor use outside. Only plug Continue reading

Taking Time to Think: Thanksgiving

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Do you have, take, or make the time to think about what is going well and what could be better in your life? As they say, ’tis the season. But it’s not the Christmas season … yet … no matter what the retailers want! To me, from Thanksgiving through New Year’s Day and beyond is a chance to think about the big picture; be thankful for blessings; and be in the moment to participate in relationships (the buzzword for this idea is “being present”). Is it during a certain time of the year that you have the luxury of stopping and thinking about life, or can you do it weekly or even daily?

I know I get very caught up in the day-to-day, hour-to-hour concerns and forget to think about and be thankful for the most-important things that are too-often called the little things: looking at the stars with my family when we’re out in the country and can really see the sky; hearing my 4-year-old son tell his great-grandma he loves her without us reminding him to; remembering to thank my spouse for unloading the dishwasher, even though he does it all the time (let’s face it – his tolerance of clean dishes not being put away quickly is lower than mine); having good health; enjoying a roof over our heads; and being productive at work. And I am glad for relationships that are good in my family; among the friends I choose to call family (my son thinks many of our friends’ children are his cousins because he sees them so often and we don’t correct him because he’s growing up with them); and at work with colleagues, whether in person or via social media.

Most of us have time to count our blessings, living in one of the most fortunate nations in the world, whether we choose to make and take the time or not. But the reality is that there are people who are not as fortunate, even in our own nation. And often that is because challenges with health or work mean a person doesn’t have as many choices as others might due to poverty, mental illness, or getting hurt. A smaller, but still emotional, challenge may include having to work on a holiday, for example. And though some folks would rather work than be with family, many people, like truckers on the roads and health-care workers taking care of the elderly, don’t have a choice, but have a great attitude and make others’ holidays really special through their actions and words.

So if you are working on Thanksgiving (or any upcoming holiday), thank you for your work and be safe! And I hope you have, take, and make the time to think about what is going well and what could be better in your life. Blessings to you and yours this Thanksgiving!

The Hidden Dangers Of Holiday Employment

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Today’s post comes from guest author Jon Gelman of Jon Gelman, LLC – Attorney at Law in New Jersey. Although the post was first published last year, it has some very timely reminders and tips in it as workers are exploring seasonal employment options for this year. As this blog post explains, many local and national businesses hire workers specifically for the upcoming holidays. Because businesses expect more in holiday sales locally this year, they also anticipate hiring more seasonal workers. In fact, Kohl’s has already determined the number of workers the business plans to hire nationwide to help with the holiday season. But Mr. Gelman reminds potential employees to consider possible challenges with becoming a seasonal worker.

Seasonal employment can provide welcome income during the holidays, but it can bring dangerous working conditions along with it.

This holiday season, more than in the past, there will be a serious challenge to workers who are taking on temporary jobs. As the economy continues to be in the ditch, more people are being hired for jobs for which they are untrained and unfamiliar. Injuries will result.

Temporary employees who are injured at work are not accustomed to the procedural requirements to give their employers notice of the injury, and the correct manner and method to seek approved medical treatment. Additionally, benefits paid to seasonal workers are notoriously low and paid sporadically so the computation of rate benefits becomes an issue.

As Eve Tahmincioglu pointed out in anticipation of last year’s holiday season, “employees who end up in retail stores often face grueling conditions Continue reading