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Safety at Steigerwaldt: Injury and Awareness

Here we are in the last month of summer already! Before we know it, fall will be here, and we will be preparing for the cooler months once again. The second half of summer offers so many opportunities that only happen this time of year: road trips, water sports, and going to an abundance of fairs. It can also bring extreme weather which can cause slippery slopes, high water, and falling trees/branches; therefore, it is very important to be aware of your surroundings whether you are in the woods or having fun. 

This month, we are focused on injury and awareness as the two correlate with each other. Being aware of your surroundings is important in your daily life, at work, and when trying new things. Not paying attention or being aware of what is happening around you can lead to injury that may be anywhere from minor to fatal. 

Be aware of your surroundings to avoid treacherous situations like ledges or drop-offs.

As field staff, it is our job to think ahead and constantly be aware of what is happening around us. Working in the field can bring many surprises like unexpected bad weather, walking up on wildlife, working around waterways or steep terrain, and working with or around heavy equipment. Awareness is key in all of these situations. Here are some ways to help you be aware in the field:

  • Pay attention to what is in front of you, and assess the situation. Pause and decide if it is safe to continue on, whether on foot or operating an ATV or truck. If the situation could lead to injury or problems in the future, come up with a plan B. Individual and team safety is always the priority. 
  • Always listen to your surroundings whether it is a person communicating with you, a suspicious animal walking through the woods, the sound of upcoming water, or a machine coming your way. 
  • Be aware of potential daily challenges, and plan ahead by packing the correct gear, first aid, and establish a plan for communication in case an injury occurs. This can be as simple as checking the weather or looking up information about the area to which you are traveling. 
  • Most importantly, always ask questions if you are unsure of yourself or do not understand the task, as this could lead to injury.

Being prepared and aware is very helpful in preventing injury but can not stop the threat of harm. Nature is incredibly unpredictable, and sometimes, people who are cautious can still get hurt. If an injury does occur, all Steigerwaldt employees carry a small first aid kit to treat small wounds such as cuts, rashes, bee stings, and other insect-related injuries. Each work truck also contains first aid and an eyewash kit.

Field staff also complete a Safety Awareness Form prior to heading to the field. This helps inform supervisors of where their staff is going to be daily in case they need to find them. At the end of the day, each field staff member completes a Safety Check-In Form. This informs the supervisor that their team member has made it back to the office, house, or provided housing and that they are safe. 

These injury and awareness tips can be helpful in the field and in daily life. Enjoy the rest of your summer with awareness of your surroundings, and most importantly, stay safe!

– Nate Loeffler, Forester