Workplace Safety News

Day of Mourning

worker day of mourning

The first Day of Mourning was recognized on April 28, 1984 by the Canadian Labour Congress. The Congress chose April 28 because on that day in 1914, the Workers Compensation Act was given third reading in the Ontario legislature. The British Columbia provincial government recognized its first Day of Mourning on April 28, 1987, and after the Workers Mourning Day Act was passed in December of 1990, the Canadian federal government recognized the first National Day of Mourning in 1991.

In June 1997, Canada, the United States and Mexico launched the first-ever North American Occupational Safety & Health Week. This event was born when the three nations joined together for the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) talks and government labour representatives discussed the subject of workplace safety. Canada’s representative introduced the idea for NAOSH Week when he suggested that the U.S. and Mexico consider establishing an annual event based on the CSSE’s (Canadian Society for Safety Engineering) Canadian Occupational Health and Safety (COHS) Week, which had been observed since 1986.

Since 1991, the Canadian flag on Parliament Hill in Ottawa has flown at half mast on the National Day of Mourning to honour those Canadians killed or injured on the job. While Canada was the first nation to recognize National Mourning Day, other countries have since followed suit in honour of their own fallen workers. As well, on April 28, 2001, the International Labour Organization first observed World Day for Safety and Health at Work.

Also in 2001, WorkSafeBC, the BC Federation of Labour and the Business Council of British Columbia dedicated a permanent workers’ memorial in the Sanctuary at Hastings Park in Vancouver. Besides the Hastings Park memorial, WorkSafeBC has sponsored approximately 45 permanent worker memorial sites throughout British Columbia.

The National Day of Mourning takes place annually. Numerous communities across British Columbia hold public ceremonies on April 28, and take part by observing a moment of silence, flying their flags at half mast and/or planting memorial trees. A ceremony co-hosted by WorkSafeBC, the BC Federation of Labour and the Business Council of British Columbia is normally held at the Workers’ Memorial at Hastings Park in Vancouver, BC at 10:00am on April 28. Everyone is welcome to attend the ceremony and pay tribute to BC’s fallen and injured workers.

Workers, Drink Your Tea!

black teas for worker health

Black Tea and Your Health

November 7, 2012. An article published online on November 7, 2012 in the journal BMJ Open reveals an association between black tea drinking and a lower incidence of diabetes around the world.

European researchers analyzed prevalence data from the World Health Organization for respiratory diseases, infectious diseases, cancer, cardiovascular diseases and diabetes, and independently collected sales data for black tea from 50 countries. Countries that sold the most black tea per person included Ireland, the United Kingdom, Turkey and Russia, and countries with the lowest concentration of black tea drinkers included South Korea, Brazil, China, Venezuela and Mexico.

The researchers observed an association between rising black tea consumption and a decline in diabetes. Black tea consumption was not correlated with the other four diseases. Further statistical analysis confirmed the association. While green tea contains catechins that have anti-inflammatory and other properties, the authors remark that the fermentation process that green tea undergoes to become black tea results in the formation of complex flavonoids known as theaflavins and thearubigins that provide additional health benefits.

“This innovative study establishes a linear statistical correlation between high black tea consumption and low diabetes prevalence in the world,” Ariel Beresniak and colleagues write. “These results are consistent with biological and physiological studies conducted on the effect of black tea on diabetes and confirm the results of a previous ecological study in Europe.”

Although an association does not establish causality, the results strongly suggest the need for further investigation to explore the possible protective effects of tea drinking against one of the most devastating diseases of our time.

OSHA I2P2 Programs

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OSHA’s I2P2 Standard Proposal
On January 13, OSHA released a white paper to support its case for the adoption of a federal Injury and Illness Prevention Program (I2P2) standard for all businesses – regardless of size or industry. First introduced in April 2010, the OSHA proposal of an I2P2 standard has since become a top focus for OSHA Administrator Dr. David Michaels.

The white paper begins by pointing out that I2P2 programs have proved effective in helping companies reduce injuries, illnesses, and fatalities, and that the adoption of such a program can also help develop “a transformed workplace culture that can lead to higher productivity and quality, reduced turnover, reduced costs, and greater employee satisfaction”. To make its case for the I2P2 standard, the paper points to the positive experiences of not only other nations, but the thirty-four American states, the U.S. Department of Defense, and various companies that already encourage or require the implementation of injury and illness prevention programs. The paper also details the costs of workplace injuries and fatalities, offers proof that I2P2 programs can improve the bottom line, and provides case studies on OSHA’s existing Voluntary Protection Program (VPP) and Safety and Health Achievement Recognition Program (SHARP).

The paper notes that while some 2,400 companies are currently enrolled in OSHA’s VPP and another 1,500 smaller-sized companies are enrolled in OSHA’s SHARP, workplace injury and illness rates are still extremely high. The paper states staggering annual statistics of an estimated 4,500 fatalities (12 per day), four million serious injuries, as well as tens of thousands of deaths or debilitations that have resulted from cases of occupational illness. In reality, the active participation of less than 5,000 companies in the voluntary but beneficial VPP and SHARP programs seems minor in light of the millions of other U.S. businesses that exist. OSHA argues that it will take the implementation of the I2P2 standard to yield significant decreases in current workplace injury and illness rates, encouraging more employers to take the measures needed to develop a workplace safety culture that emphasizes and reinforces the notion of safe work procedures at all times.

OSHA encourages the development of I2P2 programs “based on simple, sound, proven principles”, noting that no specific I2P2 model will be applicable all companies. Instead, I2P2 programs should be flexible, molded to the specific needs of the company, workforce and industry (among various other factors), and such programs should not be developed beyond the capabilities or scope of the company. Regardless of the company, OSHA notes that I2P2 programs have proven most successful when built on the following concepts: management leadership, worker participation, hazard identification and assessment, hazard prevention and control, education and training, and program evaluation and improvement. While the specific focus of each concept may vary depending on the industry or the nature of a company’s work, the application of these concepts in some way will yield wide-ranging benefits, no matter how large or small the company.

The paper points to the positive impact of I2P2 programs, which encourage businesses to achieve and maintain improved compliance with existing regulations, and to create and uphold a workplace culture that revolves around safe practices and injury reduction. As the paper notes, the cost benefits of I2P2 are numerous and multi-faceted. For those companies who implement an I2P2 program where one did not exist before, OSHA estimates reduced injury rates of 15 to 35 percent. Other cost benefits include the reduction of workers’ compensation costs in recognition of the effort to improve the health and safety of the workplace, and indirect costs saved through lost time, productivity, turnover rates, insurance costs, etc, that may be incurred as a result of some workplace incident.

The OSHA white paper adeptly describes the proactive nature of I2P2 programs, which “provide the foundation for breakthrough changes in the way employers identify and control hazards, leading to a significantly improved workplace health and safety environment”. The adoption of the I2P2 standard could yield countless benefits for workplaces of all industries and sizes, encouraging employers to strengthen the means in which they maintain the safety, security and healthfulness of their workforce, thereby decreasing injury, illness and fatality stats and fostering a greater sense of security amongst employees, employers, and even the general public as a whole.

Working With Hazardous Chemicals

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Working with Hazardous Chemicals

 

At one time or another, most people are exposed to hazardous chemicals in their course of their work, regardless of the industry or the nature of their position. From custodians to manufacturing workers to greenhouse workers, even to office workers, workers can come into contact with various chemicals that pay pose certain health hazards. Thousands of chemicals are used in cleaning products alone – and countless new chemicals are introduced regularly in efforts to improve such products. Recognizing that various hazards are presented by such chemicals, it is always important to exercise caution and employ safe handling and storage techniques whenever chemicals are involved in a job task.

The first step in decreasing the risk of injury, poisoning and/or long-term health problems caused by chemicals is providing adequate employee training in safe handling and storage procedures. Unfortunately, training alone does not always ensure that employees will act accordingly. In some cases, workers cannot foresee the possible outcomes of unsafe procedures and therefore carry out job tasks in the quickest and easiest way rather than the safest and most sensible way – ignoring the training they’ve received in an effort to quickly finish a task. To avoid such scenarios, supervisors should fully explain the risks of unsafe procedures in order to adequately express the potentially extreme outcomes – even if the supervisor has to provide workers with gory and graphic details of past incidents to support their points.

Over the past twenty years or so, government agencies have taken measures to help protect both workers and employers from chemical-related workplace incidents. Canada’s introduction of WHMIS (Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System) regulations has provided employers with a detailed regulatory training standard, and has empowered workers to learn more about how to safely handle, use and store the hazardous substances that they are exposed to in the course of their work.

Above and beyond governmental regulations, a responsible employer will take extensive measures to protect their team from improper use of hazardous substances in various ways, including providing the required education and training and following the established regulations, such as WHMIS in Canada. Training should be job-specific, determined by the requirements of the worker’s position and, wherever possible, training should be conducted in a language that the worker comprehends well. The onus is entirely on the employer to ensure that ESL workers receive appropriate and adequate training to handle chemicals safely, so employers must ensure that those workers are able to understand the training that is provided – or arrange for alternate training that is sufficient for the worker. Employers must also be responsible for describing safe work procedures and equipment for mixing, applying, handling and storing such substances, and should provide emergency supplies such as spill control kits, an eyewash, shower and first aid kit. Finally, employers must also ensure that leftover chemicals have been safely disposed of, and that containers used for such substances are thoroughly rinsed and disposed of.

As a worker, it is important to exercise your common sense and to pursue your own course of due diligence to ensure that you know how to avoid any unsafe situations. Here are some questions to ask yourself when using any hazardous product:

Have you received adequate training for handling such products?

What are the potential hazards of the product that you are using or handling?

How can you protect yourself when using these products?

What should you do in case of a spill or emergency?

Where can you find more information about the product?
The more measures that a worker takes to learn about the dangers posed by a hazardous chemical, the more likely they are to take the appropriate steps when handling such products. Workers should ask their employer for assistance and/or guidance with things such as replacing PPE or improving working conditions, and they should be allowed to ask employers for help at any time. Workers shouldn’t hesitate to ask for a review of current safe work procedures to ensure their safety if current conditions do not seem to provide adequate protection. While employers are of course expected to take various measures for protecting their workers, workers should also work to attain the appropriate knowledge and awareness in all chemical-handling situations. Regulations, training and warning labels would not be in place if chemicals did not pose serious risks, so workers must seize any opportunities to gain knowledge and avoid unnecessary, potentially tragic, situations.

The Lethal Dangers of Asbestos

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The Dangers of Asbestos

We’ve all seen the commercials aimed at those who’ve come into contact with asbestos in the course of their work, and we’ve all seen the warning signs stating that asbestos is contained in building structures. The increasing spotlight on asbestos has many of us wondering “What is asbestos – and why is it so common used despite the hazards that it poses?” This article seeks to answer these questions, offering an introduction to asbestos, its widespread use, and the potential dangers that it poses to humans.

Asbestos is a set of six naturally occurring silicate minerals with physical properties that are desirable for commercial use. Asbestos are categorized into two classes based on their differences in chemical composition and the health hazards that each class poses if inhaled. The serpentine class includes the asbestos chrysotile, while the amphibole class contains the other five, amosite, crocidolite, tremolite, anthophyllite and actinolite. While amosite and crocidolite are cited as the most hazardous of the asbestos minerals because they can persist for very long periods in the lungs of an exposed person, it is important to note that both classes and all types of asbestos (and all of the commercial forms) are known to be carcinogenic to humans.

Asbestos use can be traced back some 4,500 years – as far back as the ancient Greeks, who gave the substance its name. Historically, asbestos use has been widespread – contained in cookware, utensils, and even clothing. Asbestos was introduced in the U.S. in the mid 1800s, when it was mined for use as a building insulator. In the late 19th century, asbestos use became increasingly popular amongst manufacturers and builders, due mainly to its sound absorption and average tensile strength, along with its resistance to heat, electrical and fire damage.

By the mid 20th century asbestos was used in a wide range of products, including: fire retardant coatings, concrete, bricks, pipes and fireplace cement, heat, fire, and acid resistant gaskets, pipe insulation, ceiling insulation, fireproof drywall, flooring, roofing, lawn furniture, and drywall joint compound. Asbestos filters have previously been used by the automobile industry, in brake pads, shoes and clutch discs, although this practice has ceased since the introduction of alternative options in the mid-1990s. One cigarette company briefly used asbestos in the cigarette filters for a four year span in the 1950s, and at one time, even artificial Christmas snow contained asbestos. The ship-building industry has been particularly affected by asbestos, with an estimated 100,000 victims who’ve died (or will die) as a result of exposure.

Asbestos-related health issues are most common amongst those who’ve inhaled fibers on a long-term and repeated basis. With increased exposure and inhalation, higher concentrations of fibers and/or long-term exposure, the risk of disease increases substantially – and those who fall ill are most often those who’ve suffered from occupational exposure, exposed on a daily basis as they work with asbestos in the course of their jobs. Those with limited, short-term exposure, or someone who has had a single high-level exposure, are generally unlikely to contract an illness.

As extensive research has shown, the inhalation of asbestos fibers can cause serious illnesses – including malignant lung cancer, mesothelioma (a rare form of cancer strongly associated with exposure to asbestos), and asbestosis (a type of pneumoconiosis). Although asbestos exists in the ambient outdoor air which we all breathe, this in itself does not cause health problems; rather, the long-term exposure to high concentrations of asbestos is most often the cause of health problems. Those who’ve worked in construction industries (for example, the ship-building industry, as noted above) in which asbestos use is common are repeatedly exposed to the fibers over long periods of time – and symptoms of asbestos-related illness can take many years, even decades, to show. Mesothelioma has been observed in people who have been occupationally exposed to chrysotile asbestos, the family members of those with occupational exposures, as well as people who’ve resided near asbestos factories and mines.

The first asbestos-related death on record occurred in 1906, around the time that researchers began to notice the increasing number of lung problems and even deaths in asbestos mining towns. In the century since, widespread awareness of asbestos hazards has increased – and has most recently resulted in various litigations from those exposed in the course of their working and daily lives. Asbestos regulations have been put in place on various levels, with various countries banning its use entirely. With widespread awareness of the dangers posed by asbestos, the international community as a whole should be moving towards a total ban on the use of asbestos in the future. While we cannot fix what has happened in the past, we can certainly take measures to make better choices for the future.

New GHS Pictograms for Hazardous Products

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GHS Pictograms

GHS Pictogram for Toxic or Carcinogenic Substance

Hazard pictograms are a major component of the GHS (Globally Harmonized System for Hazard Classification and Labelling of Chemicals). The GHS includes two sets of pictograms: one set used for labelling containers and for workplace hazard warnings, and a second set used during the transport of dangerous goods (TDG).

The GHS pictogram is a graphical representation that includes a symbol along with other graphic elements such as a border, background pattern or color intended to convey specific information. The GHS pictograms are intended to replace older systems such as Canada’s WHMIS (Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System) and the European Union pictograms as defined in the Dangerous Substances Directive.

The following is a description of the GHS pictograms used during the Transport of Dangerous Goods (TDG).
Class 1: Explosives

1. Divisions 1.1, 1.2, 1.3:
a. Division 1.1: Substances and articles which have a mass explosion hazard
b. Division 1.2: Substances and articles which have a projection hazard but not a mass explosion hazard
c. Division 1.3: Substances and articles which have a fire hazard and, either a minor blast hazard (or both), but not a mass explosion hazard

2. Division 1.4: Substances and articles which are classified as explosives but which present no significant hazard

3. Division 1.5: Very insensitive substances which have a mass explosion hazard

4. Division 1.6: Extremely insensitive articles which do not have a mass explosion hazard
Class 2: Gases

1. Division 2.1
(Flammable gases)
Gases which at 20ºC and a standard pressure of 101.3 kPa:
-are ignitable when in a mixture of 13 percent or less by volume with air; or
-have a flammable range with air of at least 12 percentage points regardless of the lower flammable limit

2. Division 2.2
(Non-flammable non-toxic gases)
Gases which:
-are asphyxiant: gases which dilute or replace the oxygen normally in the atmosphere; OR
-are oxidizing: gases which may, generally by providing oxygen, cause or contribure to the combustion of other material more than air does; OR
-do not come under the other divisions

3. Division 2.3
(Toxic gases)
Gases which:
-are known to be so toxic or corrosive to humans as to pose a hazard to health; OR
-are presumed to be toxic or corrosive to humans because they have an LC50 to or less than 5000 ml/m3 (ppm)
Classes 3 and 4:
Flammable liquids and solids

1. Class 3
(Flammable liquids)
-Liquids which have a flash point of less than 60ºC and which are capable of sustaining combustion

2. Division 4.1
(Flammable solids, self-reactive substances and solid desensitized explosives)
-solids which, under conditions encountered in transport, are readily combustible or may cause or contribute to fire through friction
-self-reactive substances which are liable to undergo a strongly exothermic reaction
-solid desensitized explosives which may explode if not diluted sufficiently

3. Division 4.2
(Substances liable to spontaneous combustion)
-Substances which are liable to spontaneous heating under normal conditions encountered in transport, or to heating up in contact with air, and being then liable to catch fire

4. Division 4.3
(Substances which in contact with water emit flammable gases)
-Substances which, by interaction with water, are liable to become spontaneously flammable or to give off flammable gases in dangerous quantities
Other GHS Transport Classes

Division 5.1
(Oxidizing substances)
-Substances which, while in themselves not necessarily combustible, may (generally by yielding oxygen) cause, or contribute to, the combustion of other material

Division 5.2
(Organic peroxides)
-Organic substances which contain the bivalent -O-O- structure and may be considered derivatives of hydrogen peroxide, where one or both of the hydrogen atoms have been replaced by organic radicals Division 6.1
(Toxic substances)
-Substances with: an LD50 value is less than or equal to 300 mg/kg (oral), or less than or equal to 1000 mg/kg (dermal); or an LC50 value less than or equal to 4000 ml/m3 (inhalation of dusts or mists)

Class 8
(Corrosive substances)
-Substances which: cause full thickness destruction of intact skin tissue on exposure time of less than 4 hours; or exhibit a corrosion rate of more than 6.25 mm per year on either steel or aluminum surfaces at 55ºC

NOTE: There are several pictograms that have been included in the UN Model Regulations but have not been incorporated into the GHS because of the nature of the hazards. These pictograms are: Class 6.2 (infectious substances), Class 7 (radioactive material), and Class 9 (miscellaneous dangerous substances and articles).

Canada Confined Space Standards

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Canada Confined Space Standards

The Canadian Standards Association (CSA) has introduced a new national guideline, CSA Z1006 Management of Work in Confined Spaces, aimed at better protecting confined space workers from injury – or even death. Regardless of the industry, all workers who work in confined spaces – from miners to wine-makers to welders, even rescue team members – should be well-versed in the potential dangers of confined space work, and educated on safe-work procedures in such environments.

The term “confined space” refers to any workplace that fits any of the following descriptions: fully or partially enclosed; not designed (or intended) for continuous human occupancy; and/or has limited or restricted access, exiting or internal configuration that can complicate provisions of first aid, evacuation, rescue or other emergency response services. It must be noted that every “confined space” workplace is considered to hazardous unless otherwise determined by a competent person who completes a hazard identification and risk assessment process.

The CSA is in particular concerned with the vast range of potential dangers for serious injuries (or even fatalities) amongst mine workers, grain silo workers and hydro vault workers. However, the CSA stresses that workers in various industries must work in confined spaces for their jobs, and are at risk from various hazards, including suffocation from noxious gases, lack of oxygen, electric shock, fire or falls. Even worse, once an incident has occurred, rescue team members are susceptible to the same dangers, becoming victims themselves – in fact, rescuers actually account for more than 60% of fatalities in confined-spaces accidents.

As recent mining accidents (explosions) have shown, some confined space workers are not always as well-versed in safety practices and measures as they should be. A huge responsibility lies with management teams to devise appropriate confined space safety guidelines on which workers are thoroughly educated and tested on before they are allowed to begin working. As well, annual training refreshers should be provided whenever possible, to ensure continued retention of and compliance with such safe work procedures. Workers themselves must approach confined space work with a strong sense of caution, aware of all the potential hazards that such work presents, and take it upon themselves to become as educated and prepared as possible in order to adequately deal with any hazards that they may face.

The CSA’s new standard (which is currently pending approval as a national standard in Canada) is aimed at helping managers, workers, and even rescuers to identify and recognize potential risks in confined spaces, and create relevant procedures to help prevent incidents and/or accidents. The CSA estimates that approximately 85% of confined space accidents could be prevented by implementing safety precautions outlined by the new standard.

BC Joint Health and Safety Committee

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BC JHSC Committee’s

In British Columbia, the term “Joint Health and Safety Committee” (JHSC) describes a workplace committee consisting of worker and employer representatives united in the task of identifying and resolving workplace health and safety problems. A JHSC (also known by various other terms across Canada) can provide a multitude of benefits for both the employer (management) and the employees – provided that the committee operates with equal cooperation from both parties and is able to successfully promote and monitor a well-founded and effectual occupational health and safety program.

In British Columbia, the Workers Compensation Act of maintenance is the need for continuing inspection of the PPE. If carefully performed, PPE inspections will identify damaged or malfunctioning PPE before it is used. PPE that is not performing up to manufacturers’ specifications should be discarded; for example, respiratory protection devices require an elaborate program of repair, cleaning, storage and periodic testing. Wearing poorly maintained or malfunctioning PPE could be more dangerous than not wearing any form of protection at all, and yet the workers think they are protected when, in reality, they are not.

The JHSC serves to identify workplace health and safety responsibilities, encourage positive attitudes, and to assist the employer in reducing/eliminating the risk of workplace injuries or diseases – serving as an excellent means of communication amongst the different ranks in a company. The JHSC’s role includes: the promotion of safe work practices; assisting in the creation and upkeep of a safe and healthy workplace; recommending actions that will improve the effectiveness of the occupational health and safety program; and promoting compliance with WCB Regulation.

Establishing a JHSC involves a methodic process of organization, commitment, and appointing the most appropriate people to perform required tasks. BC’s WCB Regulation lays out the official provincial guidelines for JHSC’s, which involve a number of factors, including: the degree of hazards present in the workplace; the numbers of employees, departments, locations, sites, unions or worker groups; and the need to represent different shifts, departments, locations, etc. Committee members should be selected and assigned to relevant tasks according to the needs of the company – and the interests of ALL workers must be represented. There should be no fewer than four regular members in the committee – each of whom is employed by the company and has adequate experience in and knowledge of working conditions, processes and practices. Membership must be chosen by and represent both the workers and the employer, and at least half of the members must be worker representatives, elected by their peers.

While it is ultimately the employer’s responsibility to administer and maintain the safety program in their workplace, the JHSC is responsible for identifying and recommending potential solutions to existing health and safety concerns. The individual workers also have the responsibility of reporting problems to their supervisor or employer, and if an issue is not resolved, the employee should contact a committee member. As with any workplace initiative, the JHSC functions best when all concerned parties (no matter what level they are at) work in cohesion towards the common goal of a safer, healthier workplace.

First Aid Screw Ups - What NOT to do!

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First Aid Mistakes: What NOT to do

An injury has occurred and emergency personnel have been notified; however, in the interim, someone needs to perform first aid on the injured person. Although the paramedics, ER and doctors will surely know how to help, it sometimes comes too late. In some cases, initial first aid measures taken on the scene can make a huge difference – especially if the patient is being sent to a crowded ER with average wait times of at least 45 minutes. Following are some key points that may be of assistance in the crucial first few minutes.

1. Cut (cut off) fingers/body parts:
Amputation can occur in various situations, from chopping food to using an electric saw. Should an amputation occur, DO NOT try to preserve the loose part by placing it directly on ice. Instead, wrap the severed part in damp gauze (ideally, soaked in saline), place it in a watertight bag and place the bag on ice. Don’t forget to bring the bag and ice to the emergency room in case the doctors can re-attach the severed part. To treat the wound on the hand or body, apply ice to reduce swelling and cover it with a clean, dry cloth.

2. Knocked-out tooth:
DO NOT scrub the tooth hard – even if it’s dirty; a gentle rinse will suffice. Instead, put the tooth in milk and go straight to the ER (or emergency dental clinic) as the tooth could potentially be re-implanted.

3. Burns:
DO NOT apply ice, butter, or any other type of grease to a burn. DO NOT cover a burn with a towel blanket – or else loose fibers might stick to the skin. If the patient has a serious burn, DO NOT break any blisters or pull off clothing that has stuck to the skin. In the case of mild burns, wash the wound and apply antibiotic ointment. If the patient has burns to the eyes or genitals, take them to the hospital, regardless of the severity of the burn. As well, go to the hospital if the burn covers an area larger than the patient’s hand, or if the burn blisters or is followed by a fever.

4. Electrical burns:
In the case of any electrical burns, or contact with a jolt of electricity (lightning, power lines, electrical cords, etc.), the patient should always seek immediate medical attention – even if no damage is apparent. Many people die each year from electrical burns, which can lead to invisible, very serious injuries that go much deeper than just the skin.

5. Sprained ankle:
Although it may provide comfort in the face of pain, DO NOT use a heating pad on a sprained ankle. Instead, treat the sprain with ice, and go to the ER if it is very painful to put weight on the injury – this may be an indication of a fracture.

6. Nosebleed:
DO NOT allow the patient to lean back, and DO NOT allow them to blow their nose or bend over when the bleeding subsides. Instead, the patient should sit upright and lean forward, pinching their nose just below the nasal bone for five to 10 minutes. Go to the ER if the bleeding continues for more than 15 minutes, or if the patient thinks that they are swallowing a lot of blood.

7. Bleeding:
DO NOT use a tourniquet, as that can cause permanent tissue damage. Instead, apply steady pressure to the wound, using a clean towel or gauze pack. Wrap the wound securely, and take the patient to the ER if the wound was cause by an animal bite, if the wound is gaping, or if the bleeding doesn’t stop. As well, keep the victim warm to help prevent them from going into shock.

8. Poison Ingestion:
DO NOT induce vomiting, or use Ipecac syrup (unless instructed by emergency personnel). Instead, call poison control, and remember to bring the ingested substance (in its container) to the ER.

9. Impalement:
DO NOT remove the object from its point of entry, which could cause further damage or increase the risk of bleeding. Instead, stabilize the object and go to the ER.

10. Seizures:
DO NOT put anything in the victim’s mouth. Instead, lay the victim on the ground (preferably in an open space) and roll the victim onto their side.

These are just a few guidelines for the safe administration of immediate on-site first aid care. If you are unsure of how to best attend to a patient’s needs, call 911 and confer with the emergency operator; if the injury seems to require medical attention, ask the operator to send an ambulance, or rush the patient to the ER. Remember, the first few minutes following an accident can be the most critical, and can save the victim from unnecessary suffering and potential complications. When responding to any emergency situation (in particular an injury), try to act in a calm, methodical and clear-headed manner – it will not only help to put the patient at ease, but may also help ensure that no mistakes or oversights are made in the wake of the injury.

Hard Hat Safety

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Hard Hat Safety

Prevention of head injuries is a key safety component in many industries.
A head injury can permanently damage, even paralyze a person – or, in the worst case scenario, result in a fatality. The Occupational Health and Safety Regulation designates that “safety headgear must be worn by a worker in any work area where there is a danger of head injury from falling, flying or thrown objects, or other harmful contacts.” The use of hard hats is widespread, spanning across industries such as forestry, construction, and warehousing – many traffic control people even wear safety headgear to better protect themselves on the road. Unfortunately, not all workers are taking steps to adequately protect themselves from workplace head injuries: some workers refuse to wear headgear for “religious reasons”, while others neglect to replace equipment when required, and still others simply “forget” to wear their hard hats. Each of these workers – no matter what their excuse may be – is taking a huge risk with their own physical well-being and mortality, not to mention with the potential repercussions that their employer may face as a result of any head injuries that may occur. Below are some facts about safety headgear (specifically hard hats), aimed to encourage workers to take further steps to protect themselves on the job.

Hard Hats – Designed to Protect
Hard hats are designed to protect workers in a number of ways. First, the rigid outer shell resists and deflects any blows to the head that may occur, while the interior suspension system acts as a shock absorber. Some hard hats can shield a worker’s face, neck, and shoulders against splashes, spills, and drips. As well, some hard hats can serve as an insulator against electric shocks, while others can be modified to add face shields, goggles, hoods, or hearing protection.

Industrial headgear is divided into three industrial classes in Canada, which are classified based on the headgear’s protective abilities and on the industry in which the head gear will be used. The first class is Class G (General Usage) headgear, which protects against impact and penetration; however, it should be noted that although Class G headgear is manufactured from non-conducting materials, Class G headgear should never be considered as part a protective system against electric shock. The second class is Class E (Electrical Trades), which meets the same impact and retention standard as Class G, but provides a higher level of protection against electrical contact. Although manufactured from a high-grade non-conducting material, Class E headgear is not intended to be used as a primary barrier to prevent contact with live electrical apparatus. Finally, Class C (Conductive Headwear) provides more limited protection against impact and penetration. As well, if you add any metal part (such as a clip for holding a light) to Class G or Class E headgear, the headgear will then be reclassified as Class C.

What to Look for in a Hard Hat
There are a few general guidelines to follow when purchasing a hard hat. Hard hats should be resistant to penetration by objects, and should absorb the shock of a blow to the head. As well, hard hats should be water resistant and slow-burning (in the event of a flood or fire), and should come with thorough instructions detailing proper adjustment and replacement techniques for both the internal suspension and the headband. Hard hats must have a hard outer shell and a shock-absorbent lining, which should include a head band and straps that suspend the shell between 1 to 1.25 inches from the head. This design provides shock absorption during impact, as well as ventilation when the hard hat is worn.

Hard hats should be purchased according to employer requirements, and the appropriate class of hard hat for the industry it will be used in. There are various styles of hard hats; to decide which style suits you best, consider things such as sun exposure, the need for either lateral or side protection, as well as the need for a chin strap or hearing protection. When picking out the appropriate hard hat, careful consideration should be given, depending on the elements and hazards that you are exposed to on the job. Workers should always consult with safety regulations – as designated by both the government and by the company itself – when purchasing any type of PPE.

Protect Yourself – Maintain Your Hard Hat
First and foremost, always remember to WEAR your hard hat; if it is sitting on the lunch table, on the work bench, or in your car, it is definitely not going to protect you, let alone save your life. You must ensure that your hard hat fits your head properly, having been sized and adjusted for your head, not someone else’s; in other words, it’s best to wear your own helmet, not borrow one from a friend or co-worker. As well, take responsibility for the care and upkeep of your hard hat, replacing the webbing when necessary and checking often for cracks, gouges or other signs of damage. Replace the hat itself when it reaches a state where it can longer provide adequate protection, following your instincts and the guidelines provided by the hat’s manufacturer – if you feel the hard hat has lost its protective abilities but it has not reached its expiry date, replace the hat anyways. To clean your hard hat, immerse it in hot water and detergent, then scrub it and rinse it with hot water; keeping your hat clean removes dust, mold and germs, and thereby increases the life of the hard hat.

Hard Hats: Protect Yourself
The use of a hard hat (safety headgear) is a vital safety component in certain types of work. You MUST wear a hard hat if you work in an environment that puts you at risk of being struck by falling objects, or bumping your head on fixed objects (Ie. pipes or beams), or if you work near exposed electrical conductors – but other industry employers may require hard hats as well. While most employers take great measures to ensure the safety of their workers, there is also a huge onus on workers themselves to ensure that they take all the necessary steps to protect themselves from workplace hazards. After all, who else can truly protect your personal safety and well-being on the job better than YOU? Make the smart choice… always wear and maintain your hard hat – save your head, or even your life.

Toolbox Tailgate Meetings by Supervisors

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Toolbox Tailgate Meetings

Toolbox meetings (tailgate meetings or crew talks) can be an effective way to deliver information, introduce new concepts, skills or procedures, and generate work-based discussions. Although most prevalent in the construction industry, toolbox meetings can be used to promote safety in the spectrum of workplace industries, environments and situations. Seizing the opportunity to hold an informal meeting in the lunch room, site trailer – or even in the parking lot after work – can result in the chance to refresh and review training, or introduce and discuss new equipment, procedures, etc.

Any workplace meeting, no matter how informal, should be conducted by a facilitator –usually qualified and competent member of the management or supervisory team who is confident in leading, motivating and teaching employees in a non-biased manner. If the meeting provides a comfortable, informal setting for all participants to voice any issues or concerns or offer insight into the daily operations of the company, toolbox meetings can be an very effective forum for discussing the current state of affairs in the workplace,. Allowing an open forum for discussing workplace issues fosters a sense of inclusion for all crew members, and will perhaps result in a greater commitment to increased productivity and success.

When establishing an agenda for a toolbox meeting, first establish a strong and specific focus that will retain the attention of meeting attendees – keeping in mind that shorter meetings tend to yield more effective results. As well, provide attendees with an opportunity to take something away from the meeting – be it a newly acquired skill, useful information that will allow them to perform their jobs better, or even just the sense that they are actively involved in the operation of the company.

At the onset of the meeting, the meeting facilitator should clearly establish the topic that will be focused on, and the expected outcomes of the meeting; for example, the facilitator may begin the meeting by saying, “Today, we’re going to discuss the new shop sander. At the end of this meeting, I want you to understand how to operate it safely, and what PPE is required when you use the sander.” By providing a specific focus for the meeting, attendees know what to expect and will be prepared to take in the information.

In order to retain the attention of meeting attendees, the facilitator must find some common ground amongst all attendees; in particular, close consideration must be given to such things as the language, topic and length of the discussion. Think of potential cultural barriers such as language when developing your topic material, as some of the attendees may be new to English. As well, use widely-accepted terminology that all workers (at all skill levels) can easily understand, and keep the meeting (relatively) short, to-the-point, and focused on the topic-at-hand.

Another key element to conducting a successful toolbox meeting is establishing an open and accepting forum for all attendees. At the onset of a meeting, the facilitator should make it clear that if anyone has issues or questions, they can confidentially ask for assistance. During the meeting, the facilitator should be also aware of the crew’s needs, communication issues and potential learning issues, and be sure to assess whether they need to speak with an employee in private to ensure that the desired understanding has been achieved.

Meeting facilitators should keep meeting minutes to note the time, date and attendance of the meeting, along with the topic in focus and any relevant notes that are generic enough to be understood by other personnel who may wish to review the meeting minutes.

During the meeting process, the facilitator should encourage active participation from all attendees by staging brainstorming sessions or providing them with a hands-on opportunity to practically apply a new skill. Using open-ended questions is an effective way to generate round-table discussions, just be sure to enforce an open, honest and accepting environment in which all attendees will be able to express themselves freely.

Toolbox meetings are often most effective when the facilitator does not dominate the meeting with some long, drawn-out oral presentation. Implementing teaching aids such as videos, demonstrations, slides, and various props can relieve the monotony of a lecture-type presentation, and better retain the attention of attendees.

Allowing attendees to learn about new equipment and/or procedures and have the opportunity to exercise practical application of any new skills can also be an extremely effective method for conducting toolbox meetings. Meeting facilitators should adhere to the ‘See, Hear, Do’ method of instruction, in which they demonstrate and explain something (for example, a new skill or procedure), then have attendees apply the new information in a hands-on way. That way, the leader gets the chance to confirm that all attendees understand the topic-at-hand, get feedback and field questions from attendees.

Establishing and maintaining a sense of positivity is perhaps the most important aspect to toolbox meetings (and life in general). Meeting facilitators must strive to keep the topic interesting, keep employees actively involved in the process, and foster a strong, successful learning environment. Every attendee should have equal access to the information at hand, equal abilities to master their understanding of any techniques or procedures that have been demonstrated, and equal opportunity to apply any new skills or concepts within the presence of (and therefore, with the feedback of) the meeting facilitator.

As in any learning situation, it is critical to the success of toolbox meetings that the employees’ understanding, knowledge and/or skills are reinforced, assessed and re-examined. The best results can be achieved by providing feedback (both positive and negative, where necessary), supervision and correcting any mistakes before the worker applies the knowledge/skill in an actual rather than staged setting. Seize the opportunity to conduct toolbox meetings whenever necessary – after all, an effective toolbox meeting can (at times) mean life or death when it comes to workplace safety.

Training: Performance Based and Content Based

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Training: Performance-Based and Content-Based

As an industry grows, or simply takes on new employees, it’s important to maintain a accurate system of training, to ensure that those employed are knowledgeable of their field, decreasing the number of incidents that could potentially occur in the work place. The two main forms of training implemented are “performance-based” training or “content-based” training.

While performance-based training typically focuses on narrower tasks, such as how to rebuild an alternator or complete a specific form or process, content-based training often covers more intellectually complex topics where creativity or the ability to act without a clearly defined procedure is necessary, such as how to effectively manage employee performance.

Coupled together, content and performance-based training is an approach that helps organizations build more bench strength over time and meet the needs of diverse learners. While an employee is learning to perform specific tasks applicable to today’s job, he or she can also get needed intellectual information for future development through content-based training.

Any employer should be taking time to truly understand work requirements, and designing task-specific training that lets people “master by doing” as well as providing the training information for situations that may not be dealt with on a regular basis.

British Columbia Certificate of Recognition COR Program

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Partners Program and COR in BC

In its ongoing efforts to encourage employers in British Columbia to develop and maintain effective occupational health and safety procedures, WorkSafeBC has established the Partners Program. The program is voluntary, recognizing those employers who take a “best-practices” approach in implementing occupational health and safety management systems and return-to-work programs, and whose safety management practices exceed the legal requirements of both the Workers Compensation Act and the Occupational Health and Safety Regulation. Employers who join the Partners Program and meet the above requirements are eligible to receive reduced insurance premiums from WorkSafeBC. The cost to participate in the program varies according to company size and the employer’s industry; as well, additional costs may be incurred from attaining any required training, from developing the health and safety management and/or injury management/return-to-work system(s) and/or during the qualifying audit process.

The Partners Program stems from the BC Health and Safety COR program, which is awarded to employers who establish and maintain an occupational health and safety management system that goes beyond the requirements of existing regulatory compliance. Once an employer has received their Health and Safety COR, they can then pursue the Injury Management/Return-to-Work COR, which rewards employers who have established proactive return-to-work programs. Each COR certification results from an audit procedure; if the company measures up to the audit standards, the COR is awarded. In some industries, COR has also become a required prequalification for bidding on work contracts.

Achieving COR certification sets a company apart from its competitors, demonstrating a strong commitment to worker well-being as well as a dedication to following best industry practices. Along with these benefits, WorkSafeBC has established some financial incentives to encourage BC employers to achieve their COR. Rebates of up to 15% off of WorkSafeBC premiums can be obtained by companies who successfully attain their CORs: 10% off premiums for those who obtain the Health and Safety COR, and an additional 5% off for those who also achieve the Injury Management/Return-to-Work COR. WorkSafeBC encourages all employers (regardless of size) to work towards their COR certification(s) and has implemented a minimum annual COR rebate to provide financial compensation for even the smallest employers.

The registration process for the Partners Program can be somewhat involved, as an industry-based Certifying Partner must be established in order for the Partners Program to serve a specific industry. Certifying Partners are usually safety associations recognized (by WorkSafeBC) as having extensive knowledge in developing and promoting workplace health and safety. Employers wishing to register with the Partners Program must contact the safety association for their industry to determine whether or not the industry actually has a Certifying Partner, and if one is not available, the employer should find out how to establish one. If a COR program has not been established for a specific industry, employers can contact WorkSafeBC for more info on how to establish one. Once an employer has successfully registered with a Certifying Partner, the Partner will then assist the employer in implementing an efficient and effective health and safety management system, and will help the employer prepare for, complete and pass the COR qualifying audit. Once a COR has been obtained, the certification is valid for three years; employers are required to conduct an annual “maintenance” audit to ensure that their COR(s) are still valid.

Simply Safety! software is a useful tool in the development of both a health and safety management system, and an injury management/return-to-work system. For more information on how Simply Safety can help your company achieve (or maintain) COR certification(s), please call CCD Health Systems at 1-800-862-9939 Pacific.

For more information on the Partners Program and COR certifications in British Columbia, visit www.worksafebc.ca.

Employee Training Pays Off In ROI

employee training ROI

Employee Training Pays Off in ROI!

Studies show that investing in an employee training program can result in increased productivity and profits for a company – with potential Return-on-Investments in both profits, and savings of costs incurred by untrained employees. It has been noted that Canadian companies are behind their international competitors in the area of employee training, with approximately 45% less spent on employee training and education. This means that only about 30% of working Canadians have received adequate training in the performance of their jobs.

It would appear that Canadian companies tend to lack strong training programs due to the fact that they tend to be small to mid-sized and don’t have the resources to seek out effective training techniques. Whether they aren’t aware of the potential value of employee training programs, or they don’t know how to obtain adequate employee training, Canadian companies are missing out on potential increases in sales and productivity and decreases in staff turnover rates.

An effective training program should match the company’s business goals, and generally enhance the business experience, ultimately resulting in improved product quality, reduced costs and time, and increased levels of productivity. If employees are adequately trained to do their jobs, and employers show a genuine concern for providing their staff with a solid background for performing their jobs, benefits will include increases in both customer and employee satisfaction, thereby enhancing the business experience on a number of levels. To assess the potential Return-On-Investment for your company’s training program, use the ROI calculator below.

Training Return-on-Investment (ROI) Calculator Increase in Profits (the effect training had on the business) minus the Cost of Training Program divide that by the Cost of Training Program times 100 to calculate ROI as a percentage.

Example: A new training program costs $10,000 and resulting sales were $30,000. ROI: $30,000 – $10,000 / $10,000 x 100 = 200% Result: every $1 spent on training yielded $2 in profits.

Young Workers in Ontario

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Young Workers in Ontario

Young workers aged 15 to 24 constitute 15 percent of Canada’s workforce, and statistics show that young workers are significantly more likely to get injured in their first month on the job. In acknowledgement of these statistics, Ontario’s Industrial Accident Prevention Association (IAPA) has led the launch of the Young Worker Safety Awareness campaign. The program is geared towards raising young worker awareness of the safety resources and support that are available to them, and to reiterate their rights to a safe workplace. The hope is that workplace injuries will be reduced if young workers are made more aware of their options and rights for a safe working environment.

A major barrier to young worker safety involves the fact that many young workers are new to the workforce and therefore very eager to please. While there is nothing wrong with aiming to please your employer, young workers often allow their fears of being fired or disappointing their boss to overshadow their concern for their own personal safety. Often, a young worker will suffer with the current conditions of the workplace, no matter how unsafe they are, in order to avoid potential backlash or adverse consequence.

The Young Worker Safety Awareness program is aimed at empowering young workers to stand up for their rights to a safe working environment without worrying about potential negative responses. On that note, the program is also aimed at discouraging employers from dismissing or ignoring young worker concerns for their safety, emphasizing the fact that a safe workplace is a right for everyone, not just an attractive option that one may be lucky to have.

The Young Worker Awareness program will take place in Ontario from October to November of this year. The program will host a number of regional conferences across the province that will promote and highlight young worker safety, encouraging involvement from not only young workers and employers, but also from other concerned parties such as parents, teachers – and the community as a whole. If we do not protect our young workers, our future generations will be diminished by workplace injuries and fatalities. We must protect young workers, as they are the future.

Food Safety and Climate Change

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Food Safety and Climate Change

The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations has released a report that delves into the potential impact of climate change on the state of global food safety. The FAO aims to encourage the global community to become more aware of both the expected and speculative effects of climate change, taking a broad look at the potential impacts – both direct and indirect. The report serves to rally international cooperation in working to understand, develop and implement strategies to address the changing face of global food safety.

The report analyzes how food safety issues may be impacted by various predicted climate changes, including increased global temperatures, more frequent occurrences of heavy precipitation, extended dry periods and stronger storm systems. The report scrutinizes these climate change issues for their potential impact on such food safety concerns as mycotoxins, biotoxins, foodborne diseases (especially zoonotic diseases) and environmental contaminants.

The report encourages international governments to come together as a global community to address the various challenges, working together to strengthen both their individual and intertwined strategies in order to encompass the emerging threats to food safety. Governments need to be well aware of potential food safety hazards and risks, and how to address and respond to such concerns as early as possible. In doing so, governments must make sure that they regularly review and revise information regarding the possible correlation between climate change and food safety, updating industry guides and concerned industries as new information arises.

Recommendations in the report including fostering a relationship between governments, educational institutes and the private sector in order to develop and encourage research, training and education for addressing food safety risks. A collaborated effort between human, animal and environmental health professionals could lead to increased awareness and innovation in addressing the spectrum of food safety concerns. Rather than simply garnering expertise on how food safety affects each particular industry, collaboration and communication should result in the attainment of a broader knowledge base for addressing food safety concerns, and result in a broader range of potential solutions.

The report notes that innovations must be made in order to improve and enhance our understanding of food safety and its correlation with climate change concerns. As well, the report encourages that international governments review their existing food safety programmes and consider incorporating the FAO and World Health Organization’s food safety management techniques; by doing so, the food safety-climate change correlation can be examined and addressed in a more streamlined manner throughout the global community.

The FAO’s report highlights the fact that both climate change and food safety are universal issues that all governments need to be concerned about. A unified and streamlined effort by international governments could lead to further innovations, better solutions, and a wider range of options for dealing with food safety and climate change concerns – and eventually reduce cases of food safety on an international level.