Safety Resolutions

As we begin a new year, many are thinking about goals and resolutions that will improve their health or lives in 2016. Why not make improving safety in the workplace one of your goals for this year?

 

Workplace safety is about you and your co-workers having a safe productive day that ends with everyone going home to see their families. Being proactive about your safety and the safety of others, while being alert and aware when at work, will help reduce the chances of an injury or fatality. If you want 2016 to be a good year, thinking Safety First is a good start. 

 

To remind us all how dangerous the workplace can be, and how quickly a good day can turn into one of your worst days, we have only to look to the news. For instance, there have already been two workplace incidents in Alberta alone in 2016 that have claimed two lives, including one fatality and another critically injured in an explosion in Fort McMurray (http://www.ohscanada.com/health-safety/nexen-halts-production-at-oilsands-plant-following-fatal-explosion/1003349327/), and another fatality at an Edmonton steel manufacturing shop after falling nearly nine metres off a tank (http://edmontonjournal.com/news/local-news/worker-killed-in-nine-metre-fall-at-edmonton-steel-plant).

These incidents are a chilling reminder of just how dangerous the workplace can be, and how quickly an injury or fatality can occur. Just think, all three workers had believed they would be returning home after a long day of work.

Perhaps the first resolution on your list for 2016, and every year after, should be to Be Aware and Stay Safe. 

Let’s all do our best to make it through 2016 without incident.

New Grande Prairie Number

On The Move Safety is excited to announce that they are expanding, with a new local number now set up in Grande Prairie, Alberta. 

The local number has been set up to provide service to our valued clients throughout the Peace Region of Alberta.

The number, which will allow you to locally reach On The Move Safety, is 780-538-2155

Ask Your Employer

If you are starting a new job, or you are worried about the safety of yourself and your fellow employees on the jobsite, you need to talk to your employer. Your employer has a responsibility to ensure you stay safe on the job, by law. There is nothing wrong with asking your employer about the risks associated with your job, and when you talk to your employer, these are the questions you should ask.

You can ask these questions even if you are a seasoned employee of the company, or during a job interview. It shows due diligence that you want to remain safe on the job.

1.      What are the hazards of my job?

Your employer must tell you about any hazards on the job.

2.      Are there any other hazards I should know about?

These are hazards like long-term high noise that can cause you to lose hearing, dust and chemicals, and more that have long-term health impacts.

3.      Are there safety meetings?

Health and Safety meetings are not mandatory in Alberta, but a company that does do them is a company you should work for.

4.      Will I receive safety equipment and will I be trained on how to use it?

Employers must provide you with PPE where there is a breathing hazard, or where noise is beyond acceptable limits. The employer is not required to provide you with hard hats, safety boots, eye protection or flame retardant clothing.

5.      Will I be trained for emergencies?

You must be trained to deal with emergencies before you ever start working on the job.

6.      Where are the first aid kits, emergency equipment and fire extinguishers?

The employer must control the hazards at the workplace with special equipment and you must be told where that equipment is.

7.      Who is the first aid person if I am injured?

Your employer must provide on-site first aid equipment and have a person present with first aid training.

8.      What are my safety responsibilities?

You are expected to protect yourself and your co-workers. If you feel that you and your co-workers are in danger, the law allows you to refuse to do the task.

Staying safe on the job comes down to you. You need to know the procedures of the company, what the company will do to keep you safe, and what more can be done. 

Occupational Health and Safety

It is in our lives, even if we don’t realize it. Occupational Health and Safety is not just a Canadian institution, it exists worldwide and it is responsible for saving tens of thousands of lives since it was created. From agriculture and industrial sectors, to service and healthcare sectors, it keeps us safe on the job, and allows us to return home to our families each day.

Occupational Health and Safety dates back to roughly 1833, when HM Factory Inspectorate was formed in the United Kingdom with the expressed mission to inspect factories and make sure that child workers were not injured on the job. Seven years later, a Royal Commission found that the workers in the British mining industry were working in horrible conditions. This resulted in public outcry and the creation of the Mines Act of 1842, which helped to make the mines safer. In 1884, the first worker’s compensation law was put into force in Germany by Otto Von Bismarck.

From those early years, various organizations would work hard to keep workers safe, and they have done a very good job of it.

In the United Kingdom in 1974, 651 people died on the job, by 2012, only 171 died on the job. The rate of fatalities on the job also declined from 2.9 fatalities per 100,000 to .6 per 100,000 in that same period of time. In the United States, 14,000 workers were killed on the job in 1970. By 2010, despite the workforce being twice as large, workplace deaths were down by over 50 per cent. From 1913 to 2013, workplace deaths declined by 80 per cent.

In Canada, there are several provincial and federal labour codes to govern worker’s safety on the job. The Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety, created in 1966, provides the fundamental right to a healthy and safe working environment for workers.

All these rules and organizations come together to keep everyone safe at the job. 

Protecting Your Eyes At Work

The eye are one of the most important organs we have. They are literally how we see the world and the loss of our vision can have a massive impact on our lives. This is why it is so important to protect your eyes at work, especially if you work in a high-risk environment.

It is estimated that each year, 700 Canadians sustain eye injuries while on the job on nearly a daily basis, according to the CNIB.

There are a number of PPE you can wear to protect your eyes including safety glasses, goggles, face shields, welding helmets and full face respirators.

It is important that you always wear your protective eyewear, regardless of whether you feel it is needed or not. This is especially true when they are specifically designed for the task you are working on at that moment.

Even when you are not using your safety glasses, you should have them with you at all times in case you need them. If you are welding, or wearing a face shield, you should still be wearing your safety glasses as flying chips and dust can still get up under the face shield or welding helmet.

Ensure that the eye protection matches the task you are working on. Goggles may protect you from dust, but they can’t protect from chemical splashes or radiation for example.

Keep your lenses clean, and use a solution that repels dirt, rather than allows the dirt particles to scratch the lenses of the safety goggles.

Always make sure that the equipment fits your face and around your eyes properly.

Never tamper with the equipment, and always make sure you inspect the eye protection to ensure that it is going to protect you properly. Have spare goggles on hand in case yours are broken or compromised.

Lastly, choose eye protection that use polycarbonate lenses as polycarbonate is scratch resistant and impact resistant.

Understanding Fire Extinguishers

Fire extinguishers are literally life-saving. They can keep something like a grease fire from evolving into something that shuts down a business, or worse, kills an employee. Not all fire extinguishers are created equal though, and many fire extinguishers will do various things others will not. Understanding how the fire extinguisher works, and what its code means will keep you from using the wrong fire extinguisher on a fire.

1.      Class A: This fire extinguisher is one used for things like paper, wood, plastics and cardboard. This is used primarily for normal combustible items. Class A fire extinguishers are most often water fire extinguishers, so they should never be used to deal with grease fires, or electrical fires. Some Class A fire extinguishers use dry chemicals like foam, instead of water.

2.      Class B: This type of fire extinguisher is used for combustible liquids like gasoline, grease and oil. This type of fire extinguisher is never a water extinguisher, and is most commonly a dry chemical extinguisher. Often, it is filled with sodium bicarbonate, potassium biocarbonate or monoammonium phosphate. Some Class B extinguishers are carbon dioxide extinguishers, which is a non-flammable gas.

3.      Class C: This type of fire extinguisher is used for electrical fires from appliances, wiring, circuit breakers and outlets. These types of fire extinguishers are never water-based extinguishers and are primarily carbon dioxide extinguishers or dry chemical extinguishers.

4.      Class D: This type of extinguisher is the type found in areas where chemicals like magnesium, titanium, potassium and sodium are used. These fire extinguishers use special chemicals to put the fire out properly. Water fire extinguishers are never used here.

5.      Class K: This type of fire extinguisher is used for fires that come from cooking oils, and are most often found in restaurant kitchens.

Understanding what fire extinguisher to use in a fire can be the difference between life and death. 

The Steps To Workplace Safety

Our workplaces are a big part of our lives, but they shouldn’t be where our lives come to an end, or where our lives take a dramatic and tragic turn. For that reason, we need to think about workplace safety and how important it is. Thousands of people are injured on the job in Canada each year, but by following proper steps, we can limit workplace accidents and ensure that workers get home to their families each night.

1.      Keep your workplace clutter-free. A clean workplace is a workplace that is free of dangers. A build up of clutter at desks, machine stations and in walkways can cause accidents, as can stretching cords across hallways, under rugs and more.

2.      Always have a clear-line of vision when at your workplace to limit collisions with people and machinery. Have your workplace install convex mirrors to limit collisions at corners.

3.      If slipping is a danger at your workplace, talk to your employer about installing carpets, or skid-resistant surfaces to prevent falls.

4.      Injuries can happen in an office, just the same as they can in a warehouse. Stacking of items in an office, which can topple over if they are bumped, can cause injuries and that is why safe stacking is important. Always store heavy objects close the floor and keep in mind the load capacity of shelves and storage units.

5.      We spend a lot of our time sitting at desks. Proper ergonomics is important to keep our bodies from becoming sore and painful. One size does not fit all. A good chair and keyboard rest can lower workplace injuries greatly. Your feet should always touch the floor when working, and you can adjust your chair and keyboard tray accordingly to ensure that they do.

6.      Fires can break out in the workplace, and it is important we keep our workplaces safe from the danger. You should always maintain cords in good repair to prevent any exposed or frayed wires, and you should inspect all space heaters to ensure they won’t start a fire if they are tipped over. In addition, make sure you never block fire sprinklers, and never block escape routes or prop open fire doors.

A few steps for safety can go a long way in keeping all of us safe. 

Protecting Your Ears At Work

Your ears are very important. One of your five senses, the loss of your hearing is like losing your ability to taste, touch, or smell. As a result, it is very important that you protect your ears whenever you can at work. Under Canadian law, your employer must provide you with hearing protection if you are in an environment where noise could cause long-term damage to your hearing.

Proper hearing protection, under the Canadian Standards Association are devices that are comfortable enough to be accepted and worn, and provide adequate protection.

There are three kinds of hearing protectors you can choose from:

1.      Ear Plugs: These are inserted into the ear and they block the ear canal. They can be pre-molded, and they are sold as a disposable product.

2.      Semi-Insert Ear Plugs: These are two ear plugs that are held over the ends of the ear canal by a headband.

3.      Ear Muffs: These are made of sound-attenuating material that fit around the ear and have hard outer cups, held together with a head band.

If you are in an environment where the noise is not constant, ear muffs are the best choice as they can easily be removed without having to mold to your ear canal like ear plugs.

All ear protection manufacturers provide noise reducing capabilities in a Noise Reduction Rating number. This number will show how much it will reduce the decibels you are hearing while at your workplace.

In choosing between ear plugs and ear muffs, it is important to know the advantages. For ear plugs, the advantages are they are small and easy to carry, comfortable in hot and humid conditions and convenient when you are in a confined area. The disadvantages are they require time to fit, they can be difficult to insert and remove, they can irritate the ear canal and they can be misplaced.

For ear muffs, the advantages are they are a one-size fits all solution, they are not easy to lose, they can be worn if you have an ear infection and they can be seen from a distance. The disadvantages are they are heavier and les portable, they are uncomfortable in confined, as well as hot and humid areas, and they can interfere with the wearing of other safety equipment or glasses. 

Be Safe At The Workplace

Your workplace is where you spend a lot of your time. Aside from your home, there is no other place you spend more time. It is important that you are safe at your workplace. There are a number of risks to be aware of, and to be careful of. These tips can help you stay alive, free from injury, while you are at work, especially in high-risk environments.

1.      The first thing you need to do is to understand the risks of your workplace. You need to be familiar with your job, and the dangers of the workplace so that you can lower your possible risk of workplace injury, illness, or death.

2.      Stress at the workplace is a silent killer. Long hours, heavy workload, conflicts with co-workers, all lead to stress. Stress can lead to problems with sleeping and concentration, which can impact how safe you are on the job. Find ways to relieve stress so you don’t have to be a danger at work to others.

3.      Breaks are there for you to get away from work and recharge. Breaks can keep you from getting burned out, or from being injured. Take a break when work is becoming too much for you. In addition, schedule your most difficult tasks for when you concentrate the best during the day.

4.      Stooping and twisting, especially when done several times a day, can lead to injury. Make sure your workspace is arranged in an ergonomic way to prevent injury. In addition, use mechanical aids whenever you can so you don’t injure yourself lifting, or moving something heavy. When you do lift something, lift with your legs, and keep the load close to your body.

5.      Always wear the PPE that has been assigned to you. If you wear the goggles, hardhat, earplugs, gloves and more in a proper fashion, you can reduce your possibility of injury on the job.

6.      Drugs and alcohol have no place at work. They contribute to three per cent of the workplace fatalities in the world, and you should never go to work under the influence.

7.      If you have concerns about the safety of you and your co-workers, talk to your employer or the manager of human resources about it. Your employer MUST provide you with a safe working environment.

Be safe!

What is WHMIS?

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Working in a high-risk environment, you probably see a lot about WHMIS around the warehouse and workspace. WHMIS, or Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System, is a national workplace hazard communication standard created at the federal level to ensure the safety of workers on the job. The system came into national practice on Oct. 31, 1988 and required the labeling of containers that had WHMIS controlled products, along with worker education, site training programs and material safety data sheets.

WHMIS is a special sort of system, and it represented the complete co-operation of the federal, territorial and provincial governments of the country. Ensuring that all the levels of government worked together resulted in no duplicating of the program, and complete efficiency of it.

Today, nearly 30 years after the creation of WHMIS, it is implemented throughout various industries and practiced by governments and organized labour. They share responsibility of the program, and the program continues to evolve and provide safe environments for everyone thanks to the co-operation of many sectors. The system is even taught to students in Canadian high schools, and employees who are working in nearly any environment in the country.

There are several classes of WHMIS, split up into various letters of the alphabet.

  1. Class A: This hazard level is for compressed gas.
  2. Class B: This hazard level details that the product is flammable or combustible.
  3. Class C: This hazard level is for oxidizing materials.
  4. Class D-1: This hazard level is for materials that can cause serious, and immediate, toxic effects.
  5. Class D-2: This hazard level is for materials that can cause other adverse toxic reactions.
  6. Class D-3: This hazard level is for any biohazard materials.
  7. Class E: This hazard level is put on anything that has corrosive properties.
  8. Class F: This hazard level is for anything that is dangerously reactive.

WHMIS stands today as an excellent example of several organizations, industries and government levels coming together to ensure the safety of employees and the public. 

Understanding Steel Toe Ratings

One of the most important parts of any personal protective equipment set is the steel-toe boot. Our feet are surprisingly delicate and something of only a few pounds can cause not only immeasurable pain when it falls on our foot, but also cripple us for the rest of our life. This is why steel-toe protection is required on nearly any job site where the possibility of injury is increased. While you may not need it in an office, you will need it working on a construction site, in the oil industry and even in the transportation industry.

Even if you think it is overkill to have steel-toe boots on, when the worst happens and something lands on your foot, you will be very happy for that steel plate protecting your very delicate toes.

When buying a steel-toe boot, you may notice that there are various symbols on the boot. Each symbol details a different aspect of the safety precautions taken with the boot. Understanding these symbols can ensure you have the right boot for the job.

In Canada, the Canadian Standards Association has been using symbols on footwear for more than three decades now. In order to be considered a safety shoe, the shoe must meet at least one of five criteria. These criteria are:

  1. 1, 2 or 0: This code details whether or not there is a steel-toe cap on the shoe. If the code has a 0, then there is no cap. If there is a 1, it means it can protect from a 22.7 kg object falling from half a meter up. A 2 means it can protect from a slightly shorter distance and lighter object.
  2. P or 0: This code determines the puncture protection of the shoe. A 0 means there is no protection and a P means that it protects the arches of the foot from puncture.
  3. M or 0: This code indicates whether or not the shoe has metatarsus protection against shock or collisions. Once again, 0 means it does not while M means that it does.
  4. E, S or C: This code details whether or not it can protect against electricity. E means it resists electrical shocks, S means it will disperse static electricity and C means it will conduct electricity.
  5. X or 0: This code is only found on shoes that will protect the foot from an errant chainsaw. X means it will protect, 0 means it will not.

A code of 1P0E0 means that the shoe will protect from a falling object on the toe, will protect the arch from puncture, will not protect from shock or collision, will conduct electricity but will not protect from a chainsaw.

In regards to the symbols, they are as follows:

  1. Green Triangle with CSA symbol: This offers puncture protection with Grade 1 protective toe.
  2. Yellow Triangle with Registered symbol: This provides puncture protection with Grade 2 protective toe.
  3. Yellow Rectangle with Green “SD”, a grounding symbol and CSA symbol: This means it will dissipate an electrical charge.
  4. White Rectangle with Orange “Omega” symbol and CSA symbol: This means the shoe will provide electric shock resistance.
  5. Red Rectangle with Black “C”, grounding symbol and CSA symbol: This means that the shoe will conduct electricity.
  6. White Label with Green Fir Tree symbol and CSA symbol: This shoe will protect against chainsaws.
  7. Blue Square with CSA symbol: This will provide only a Grade 1 protective toe. 

Be Safe At The Workplace

Your workplace is where you spend a lot of your time. Aside from your home, there is no other place you spend more time. It is important that you are safe at your workplace. There are a number of risks to be aware of, and to be careful of. These tips can help you stay alive, free from injury, while you are at work, especially in high-risk environments.

  1. The first thing you need to do is to understand the risks of your workplace. You need to be familiar with your job, and the dangers of the workplace so that you can lower your possible risk of workplace injury, illness, or death.
  2. Stress at the workplace is a silent killer. Long hours, heavy workload, conflicts with co-workers, all lead to stress. Stress can lead to problems with sleeping and concentration, which can impact how safe you are on the job. Find ways to relieve stress so you don’t have to be a danger at work to others.
  3. Breaks are there for you to get away from work and recharge. Breaks can keep you from getting burned out, or from being injured. Take a break when work is becoming too much for you. In addition, schedule your most difficult tasks for when you concentrate the best during the day.
  4. Stooping and twisting, especially when done several times a day, can lead to injury. Make sure your workspace is arranged in an ergonomic way to prevent injury. In addition, use mechanical aids whenever you can so you don’t injure yourself lifting, or moving something heavy. When you do lift something, lift with your legs, and keep the load close to your body.
  5. Always wear the PPE that has been assigned to you. If you wear the goggles, hardhat, earplugs, gloves and more in a proper fashion, you can reduce your possibility of injury on the job.
  6. Drugs and alcohol have no place at work. They contribute to three per cent of the workplace fatalities in the world, and you should never go to work under the influence.
  7. If you have concerns about the safety of you and your co-workers, talk to your employer or the manager of human resources about it. Your employer MUST provide you with a safe working environment.

Be safe!

PPE Evolves

There was a time, a century ago, when the concept of personal protective equipment simply did not exist. However, as jobs became more complex and the need for safety become apparent, workers began demanding safety equipment to protect them on the job.

From here, personal protective equipment was born.

In the late-1880s, miners would wear hard bowler hats as a means of temporary protection from small rocks falling and hitting them in the head. These hats were often stuffed with cotton as well, to create a barrier from falling debris. From that concept, hard hats were born. Another major influence on the hard hat would be the helmets worn by soldiers in the First World War, which resemble somewhat the hard hats we wear to this very day. By 1931, workers on the Hoover Dam were voluntarily wearing hard hats developed by Edward Bullard on the army helmet design. The construction of the Golden Gate Bridge in 1933 would be the first large-scale project that would require workers to all wear hard hats as a means of protection. This was not due to a federal law, but because Joseph Strauss, the chief engineer of the project, wanting to make the work as safe as possible for those working beneath him on the bridge. He would also have a net, costing $130,000, put under the bridge to catch anyone that fell.

 The first aluminum hard hat would be developed in 1938 and in 1953, the first injection-molded hat was created.

Fall arrest devices have been around for a number of years as well. In the 1930s, the Rose Manufacturing Company began to make safety belts and lanyards that were used by window washers in the rapidly growing skyscrapers dominating major cities in the United States. In 1959, the easy-to-use cable connector for safety belts, with shock-absorbers, was created by the same company. This concept is still used to this day to protect workers from falls.

Breathing clean air has always been important, especially with working conditions of the early 20th century being poor at best. The concept of the respirator actually dates back to the Roman Empire. Two millennium ago, animal bladders were used to protect lead miners from inhaling red oxide. Very few changes to this concept came about for some time, that is until 1854 when John Stenhouse created the charcoal gas filter that removed ammonia, hydrogen sulfide and chlorine from the air. The masks’ concept was improved upon and the first true test of the air-purifying system came about with the Morgan Safety Hood and Smoke Protector in 1916. Created by Garret A. Morgan, he attended to a call when an explosion of the Cleveland Waterworks caused dangerous gases to be released. Three teams of rescuers went in, but none came back out. Morgan and three others, using the respirator that had a hose to the ground where the clean air was, were able to go in and rescue those trapped in the building. From this point, the respirator and how it was worn began to evolve to what we know today.

Lastly, there is ear protection. Ear plugs have existed since the 19th century, but it was not until the 1930s that they were actively advertised as a means to protect one from noise while working. These ear plugs were made from wax or cotton, and were only minimally protective. It was not until 1969 that the Noise Standard legislation came in, requiring anyone working in noisy environments to have the option to wear ear protection provided by the company.

From animal bladders and wax ear plugs, our PPE has come a long way to protecting workers on the job, both from injury and death.

 

 

Safety In The Workplace

For companies and employees, the most important aspect of doing business is not customer service, nor is it profits, it is workplace safety.    A company with poor workplace standards will have not only bad press, but lost productivity, low morale and difficulty in making profits. Canada has some of the strictest standards for workplace safety in the world, but that doesn’t mean that our workplaces are free from injury or fatalities. In 2012 alone, 977 workplace fatalities occurred according to the Association of Workers’ Compensation Boards of Canada.   That translates to nearly three workplace deaths every single day in Canada. This doesn’t even include the further hundreds who die from illnesses from working long-term in conditions that cause chronic conditions (asbestos abatement, poor air quality and inadequate ergonomic conditions). 

The highest incident rate per  industry is construction; which had 211 deaths in 2012 (the most recent year for statistics).   That means once every day and a half, a construction worker is dying in Canada while on the job.   The manufacturing industry (183 fatalities), government services industry (108 fatalities), transportation (100 fatalities) and mining/oil wells (69 fatalities) round out the top five. Injuries at the workplace are much higher, amounting to 245,365 in 2012, this equates to approximately:

  • 672 injuries per day, 
  • 28 per hour;
  • 1 every two seconds;

In the time it took you to read that last sentence, three people were injured on the job. The highest injury industry is social service and health industry; which amounts to over 41,000 injuries. The manufacturing industry accounts for 38,000 injuries, while construction and transportation amount to 27,000 and 17,000 respectively. 

These numbers may seem extremely high, but the good news is that through things like Occupational Health and Safety, and the inspection of premises through safety audits, workplace injuries have fallen immensely in the past 30 years. In 1982, there were 43 workplace injuries per 1,000 in Canada. That number reached nearly 50 per 1,000 in 1987. Today, the number has fallen to below 15 per 1,000.

The falling numbers in injuries over the past 30 years shows that things like safety audits do work for companies.   By implementing a positive Health and Safety Program based on legislative standards it is possible to ensure that companies are protecting their workplaces and ensuring that employees are not in subjected to undue risks present while performing their tasks.