National Safety Month: Working Safely at Home and on the Job

 

By Aqua Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Rick Fox

Every day, Aqua provides the critical service of delivering Earth’s most essential resource to our customers and the communities we serve. In honor of National Safety Month, observed each June, Aqua is joining the National Safety Council to raise awareness of the risks associated with our work, and importance of working safely and reducing leading causes of injury and death at work, on the road and at home.

At Aqua, the safety of our employees is our number one priority. Each year, we conduct training and inspections, share monthly tips to foster awareness, perform worksite assessments and empower employees to stop work for safety concerns. Safeguards put in place by Aqua like fall restraints, hoists and automated systems not only make work easier, but also keep employees safe. Establishing and training employees on standard operating procedures helps protect them from risks.  

We expect all employees to work proactively to champion their own safety by avoiding shortcuts that put teammates at risk, wear appropriate personal protective equipment and fasten seatbelts every time they enter a vehicle.

The NSC has outlined four areas to focus on this National Safety Month, to prevent injuries and death on the job and at home. Aqua encourages customers and employees alike to practice these safety tips to avoid harmful accidents.

Falls:

Falls in the home are one of the leading causes of injury-related death in the U.S., and according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, falls from elevation were a leading cause of death for construction employees, accounting for 350 of the 937 construction fatalities in 2015. Simple tips, like eliminating tripping hazards and working carefully on ladders, can help prevent many falls at home and at work. Other ways to reduce fall hazards include:

  • Securing electrical and phone cords away from walking areas, such as hallways or in front of your desk.
  • Keeping drawers and cabinets closed when you’re not using them.
  • Cleaning up any spills immediately and placing warning signage on slippery surfaces, if necessary.
  • Avoiding carrying more than you can handle.

If working from a ladder:

  • Do not work on the top rung of the ladder.
  • Maintain three points of contact with the ladder at all times.
  • Do not carry any tools or materials in your hands when climbing a ladder. Tools should be carried in a belt.
  • Do not lean away from the ladder to perform work. Always keep weight centered between the side rails.

Fatigue:

The CDC reports that 1 in 3 adults do not get enough sleep and it is estimated that 37 percent of the U.S. workforce is sleep-deprived. To be alert and well-rested:

  • Aim for 7 to 9 hours of sleep every night.
  • Go to bed and wake up at the same time, even on weekends.
  • Eliminate unnecessary light and keep your bedroom temperate.
  • Avoid eating and using electronic devices right before bed, which can inhibit sleep.

Active Shooters:

Thinking about being involved in a situation with an active shooter is chilling, but being prepared can be your best defense. Whether you are at work or out in public, remain as calm as possible and remember:

  • Identify the two nearest exits.
  • If you can escape, do so immediately—leave personal belongings behind. If you cannot escape, hide in an area where the shooter can’t see you.
  • If you are behind a door, try to lock or block entry to it.
  • Silence electronic devices.
  • Call 911 as soon as you can do so safely.

Ergonomics:

Approximately 80 percent of the U.S. population will experience back pain at some point in their lives. Most of this pain is not caused by serious underlying conditions, but improper ergonomic support.

  • When working at the computer:
    • Ensure your chair provides proper support and sit as far back as possible in it.
    • Make sure your monitor is directly in front of you and within reach of your fingertips.
    • Keep your eyes level with the toolbar when looking at your monitor.
    • Keep your elbows and knees bent at 90 degrees.
    • Take regular breaks to stretch and walk around.
    • Use caution when performing even mildly exertive lifting. Keep your back as straight as possible by bending and using your legs for your lifting power.
    • Always be sure to follow proper lifting techniques.
    • Refrain from reaching for heavy objects. Instead, use a step stool to retrieve items.

The good news is that most workplace and home accidents are preventable. The more Aqua employees and our customers understand potential hazards and take action to reduce them, the less likely accidents are to occur. Aqua cares about the safety and wellbeing of our employees and customers, so join us in recognizing Nationals Safety Month and to take simple steps to stay safe.

 

 

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Stop and Smell the Flowers: It’s World Environment Day

If you’re anything like those of us on the Aqua team, Earth’s beauty blows you away every single day of the week.

Today, though, we have a good reason to take our celebration of our planet to another level: It’s World Environment Day.

First observed in 1972, World Environment Day both acknowledges the complex beauty of our home planet and brings awareness to the many factors that endanger the precious ecosystems and habitats that surround us.  

The theme for this year’s World Environment Day is Connecting People to Nature, which was chosen by Canada, this year’s host country.

985 events are on the #WorldEnvironmentDay map!
Tell us how you'll connect #WithNature & let's get to 1,000: https://t.co/gTGjbXCfwS pic.twitter.com/WRAJ05gWki

— UN Environment (@UNEP) May 31, 2017

Take a moment to think about how you connect to nature on a daily basis. In a single day, you might mow the lawn, listen to birds sing and snap a photo of a beautiful bundle of flowers to post online. Take it one step further, though, and think about what concrete actions could be done to preserve that grass, those birds or those flowers.

At Aqua, we’re determined to protect and provide water—Earth’s most precious resource—in an environmentally responsible, sustainable way. In addition to our daily operations providing water to our customers, we’re lucky that our employees are individually enthusiastic about being positive stewards of the environment.

In Pennsylvania, members of Aqua’s leadership team such as Chief Environmental Officer Chris Crockett, Director of Environment Compliance Deborah Watkins and Watershed Specialist Robert Kahley came together last October to plant native trees at the Perkiomen Creek Watershed, which is adjacent to Aqua’s Green Lane reservoir.

The group of volunteers planted more than 620 trees in one day that now consistently release fresh oxygen into the air, ultimately working toward a cleaner, healthier ecosystem across the neighboring community and the world.

Likewise, Aqua employees know the importance of all aspects of our environment—not just water. Our own Kevin M. Culver wrote an ode to bugs (yes, bugs!) in and around the Kankakee River in Illinois.

Why, Kevin asked our blog readers, should they care about bugs? Here’s his answer:

I care about the bugs because one can determine the health of a stream by the number and type of bugs living in the stream. Not only can the bugs be used to determine water quality, but fish and fresh water mussels can also be used as biological indicators of water quality.

There you have it: A healthy bug is a sign of healthy water. Who wouldn’t care about that?

Clearly, the environment is a crucial matter to Aqua employees, both personally and professionally, and we couldn’t be prouder of their efforts.

We encourage you to get involved during World Environment Day! Take the time to go outside, smell the fresh air and think about how lucky we are to be inhabitants of our beautiful planet. You can also take part in celebrating the day by sharing photos of the Earth’s beauty with the hashtag #WithNature on your favorite social media channels.

 

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State Spotlight: Your Guide to Aquatic Summer Fun in New Jersey

Photo via Wikimedia Commons

Memorial Day weekend marked the unofficial start to the summer season, and for many of us in the northeastern region of the country, this means plenty of trips to the sandy shores of New Jersey are on the horizon.

The state has a rich history of tourism connected to vacationing at New Jersey shorelines. While many tourists are expected to visit the famous beaches each summer, plenty of Garden State residents and visitors will also be looking for fun and spontaneous ways to beat the heat.

Aqua is proud to serve eleven counties in New Jersey that offer plenty water-themed activities for tourists and residents alike. Here’s a brief look at the summer fun our communities have to offer.

Beaches

What would a summer in New Jersey be without trips to the beach? Residents and friends of Aqua in Egg Harbor Township certainly know a thing or two about beaches with their own proximity to sunny shorelines and Atlantic City.

Plus, Berkeley Township residents are just a hop, skip and jump away from Seaside Heights, where the boardwalk and beaches boast festivals, sports and events all throughout the season. Both areas—among plenty of other beaches along the state’s coast—are prime destinations for summer getaways.

Waterparks

Image via Clementon Park

One alternative to a dip in the ocean is to visit a waterpark. These aquatic amusement parks can make waves for your favorite beach sports and offer exciting water-based activities for people of all ages.

Families in Clementon will celebrate 110 years of summer fun at Clementon Park & Splash World this year. Plus, our friends in Vernon Township might consider a visit to take in the views and adventure opportunities of Mountain Creek.

(Psst: To keep your family safe while swimming this summer, check out our tips on water safety.)

Local Lakes

Image via hardyston.com

Visiting nearby lakes, like those in and around Hardyston Township, is another way to join in on the aquatic fun.

If swimming isn’t your favorite, boating or fishing can be equally as refreshing alternatives. We even found members of the Laurel Springs community sharing their best catches on Laurel Lake’s Facebook page.

Other Water-based Activities

Image via Delaware River Railroad Excursions

You don’t necessarily need large bodies of water to find fun. In Phillipsburg, families can enjoy a ride on a steam engine train—steam means water—and learn more about the history of railway travel in the state.

Lebanon Township will host its third annual Sprinkler Day this August in partnership with their local fire company. It’s hard to beat a celebration of community and water!

We love to see our neighbors and communities getting ready for another memorable summer. What aquatic activities do you have planned?

 

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DIY Bath Bombs: Soak Up the Fun!

Photo by Philippa Willitts on Flickr

In recent years, bath bombs have secured their place in both the bathtubs and hearts of many. These fizzy creations bring a fresh sensation to bath water that’s exciting and relaxing for children and adults alike. With endless possibilities for shape, size and color, DIY bath bombs make for a perfect summer gift—or a perfect way to treat yourself!

Photo by Erika van Rijssen on Flickr

What you’ll need:

  • Whisk and mixing bowl
  • Round silicone molds
  • 1 cup citric acid
  • 1 cup baking soda
  • 1/2 cup cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil (or variant)
  • 8-10 drops assorted essential oils
  • Soap colorants
  • Dried flowers (optional)

Photo by rachelakelso on Flickr

What to do:

  1. Whisk dry ingredients (citric acid, baking soda, cornstarch, dried flowers) together, removing all clumps.
  2. In a separate bowl, mix wet ingredients (water, coconut oil, essential oils, colorants). See below for tips on which scents and colors we recommend.
  3. Gradually combine wet and dry ingredients to form a loose, sand-like texture. If your bath bombs begin fizzing early, slow down your mixing speed.
  4. Transfer mixture into silicone molds. Depending on the amount of ingredients and humidity level, your mixture can dry out quickly.
  5. Allow bath bombs to dry, then carefully remove from silicone molds and store in an airtight container.
  6. When ready for use, simply drop into prepared bath water and relax.

Tips and tricks:

It may be tempting to add extra essential oils for health benefits or a stronger scent, but beware: Some oils can pose a serious health risk in high concentrations.

Watch out for food coloring or other dyes that might stain your tub. While food coloring can be used in small doses, we recommend using soap colorants.

If your bath bombs are too runny and won’t maintain shape, you can use witch hazel to firm up your materials.

Which luxurious combination will you try? Share your results with us!

 

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Infrastructure Week Highlights the Need for Investment in Upgrading the Nation’s Water Systems

 

By Aqua Senior Vice President, Engineering and Environmental Affairs, Bill Ross

In honor of Infrastructure Week, May 15-19, 2017, Aqua is helping raise awareness about the need for substantial investment in the United States’ water infrastructure system, and sharing facts about how our company is proud to take a proactive and strategic role in the ongoing effort to replace aging infrastructure in the systems we run. 

Infrastructure Week is a national week of events, education and advocacy efforts to elevate infrastructure as a critical issue impacting all Americans.  And the network that allows us to treat and distribute water to our customers is no exception.

Drinking water in the United States is delivered via a complex, nationwide system of pipes, filtration plants and pumps. As a whole, this system is in need of significant repair. In fact, many of the pipes across the country are reaching the end of their 100-year lifespan, which creates an increased risk for contamination and leakage.

In fact, the 2017 American Society for Civil Engineers Infrastructure Report Card ranked the United States’ drinking water and wastewater infrastructure systems a “D” and “D+” respectively. The report card estimates there are 240,000 water main breaks per year that waste over two trillion gallons of treated drinking water. Additionally, it is estimated that leaky, aging pipes waste enough water to support 15 million households per day. There is no quick, cheap fix for this problem, because according to the American Water Works Association, an estimated $1 trillion is needed to maintain and expand drinking water service to meet demands over the next 25 years.

Despite the state of our nation’s water infrastructure system, drinking water quality remains the safest in the world. At Aqua, we see it as a great responsibility to replace aging infrastructure and deliver safe, reliable drinking water to our customers.

In 2017, Aqua plans to invest $450 million, with a focus on replacing 150 miles of water mains throughout our eight states. This investment will help save billions of gallons of water from leaking water mains. Over the last five years alone, Aqua invested $1.5 billion in water and wastewater infrastructure.

At Aqua, we understand the challenges facing the nation over the next few decades and we work every day to help revitalize the nation’s infrastructure. Aqua is constantly repairing and replacing old, outdated facilities, water mains, water and wastewater plants, and well stations. We intend to continue our commitment to replace aging infrastructure and our promise to deliver safe drinking water for generations to come.

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