Archives for December 2012

Good Safety Blogs & Online Magazines (Part II)

Safety Blogs

We promised to feature more of our favourite safety blogs, online magazines and other internet resources, and true to our word, here they are! We hope they help you find reliable safety-based information to help you prepare and plan for a safer workplace in the coming year.

1. As a resource, I recommend the Electronic Library of Construction Occupational Safety and Health. This is not a blog or magazine, per se, but it is a fascinating and comprehensive construction resource filled with everything you could possibly want to know. It is sponsored by The Centre for Construction Research and Training.

Divided into three categories, Hazards, Trades and Jobsites, you’ll find PowerPoint’s and Presentations, pictures, podcasts & audio and videos, plus toolbox talks, training materials, handouts and research reports. There’s also a section called “What’s New.” Related links are mostly American with a few European references and there are some intriguing links that might give you helpful info.

2. The Canadian Occupational and Safety Magazine is a leading online magazine/resource covering all aspects of workplace safety in Canada. Wide-ranging in scope, Editor Mari-Len De Guzman has assembled an excellent stable of freelance reporters and writers covering the latest occupational safety related news and views. As well, she has an archive of videos on training, safety management, OHS Regulations, Personal Protection and other subjects vital to all employers.

This is a site that has so much to offer, including webinars and a subscriber newsletter, plus surveys from the COS Reader Panel on all aspects of workplace health safety issues and concerns.

3. Dave Weber of Safety Awakenings has an active LinkedIn group called Free Safety Workplace Resources for anyone working in construction and interested in safety on the job. This group is one of the most popular and fast growing online. LinkedIn is a powerful resource for professionals. Weber has quickly built up a following of more than 1,000 people with valuable safety related knowledge to share in many on going discussions. For LinkedIn users, this is a group to join.

Two more LinkedIn Groups are worth mentioning.

4. The Canadian Society of Safety Engineering

5. The Construction Health and Safety Group

LinkedIn Groups is a powerful resource. Joining a LinkedIn group can result in benefitting from the experiences and wisdom of a variety of members. It’s a great place to ask questions and initiate discussions of specific problems. .

Both these groups focus strongly on construction safety and many members are anxious to participate in discussions. By posting questions and getting involved in other members’ discussions, you’ll get a lot out of these groups. Even just observing the action is highly instructional and informative.

We know there are a lot more great blogs and online resources out there and we’d love to hear from you about yours. So please share it (and the link) with us. The more we can learn from you the better we’ll all be.

Have a Happy and Safe New Year.

 

Good Safety Blogs & Online Magazines (Part I)

Photograph by Dave Weber

Photograph by Dave Weber

Online information about construction and safety – blogs, online magazines and LinkedIn sites – can overwhelm you. It’s a vast community where there are so many choices. Some are better than others. How do you know where to find the best, most reliable, accurate, up-to-date information that suits your specific needs?

As the year draws to a close, we thought we’d share some of our favourite sites where we know the information is solid and sound.

1. Alberta-based safety consultant and author Alan D. Quilley CRSP hosts Safety Results, “a place to discuss safety results and how to create it.” This is one of the most useful, practical and entertaining construction safety blogs I’ve encountered. It’s filled with videos, cartoons, pictures, advice and nuggets of information to help you re-think your approach to safety and help you create a “safety culture” at work.

Quilley is a knowledgeable and reliable safety expert and consultant who designs and manages safety programs for corporations all over North America. He’s written three books, including the bestselling The Emperor Has No Hard Hat, Achieving Real Workplace Safety Results. He’s informative, enlightening and best of all, he has a terrific sense of humour. In fact, the writers for the Seton videos have, on more than one occasion, consulted with Quilley and tapped into his sense of humour – as well as his vast knowledge.

2. Safety Awakenings is a comprehensive and popular online magazine where owner Dave Weber, CSP posts and shares a virtual encyclopedia of resources to help you train your workforce and run a safe organization – and he’s always right on the money. Besides his short, daily, timely posts, like “100 Winter Safety Resources,” you’ll find hundreds of Tool Box Safety Talks, loads of training Power Points and videos, safety Apps, and solutions to construction problems you’re bound to encounter.

Ask him a question and he’ll respond quickly. One reader chose Safety Awakenings as his all-time favourite. “I like Safety Awakenings,” he said. “It has a large collection of helpful materials that you can go to when you need something urgently.”  Besides running this blog, Dave Weber is a superb photographer and his nature photos illustrate this blog. He generously contributed the photograph that illustrates this story. Please contact him if you would like to purchase either a photographic print or a license to use any of his images.

3. Modern Safety is the blog of www.FieldID.com – “safety made simple.” Timely frequent posts include videos and short tidbits of information that zero-in on specific solutions related to Inspection and Safety Compliance Management. Posts are practical, with good links to other helpful sources including news reports. Fully involved in all social media, you can easily comment or share on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.

4. WCB Workers’ Compensation Board Alberta WorkSIGHT MAGAZINE is a spectacular-looking online PDF magazine featuring hard-hitting, practical construction safety stories that really pack a punch. For example, in “Message in a Bottle,” the Alberta Beverage Container Recycling Corporation (ABCRC) demonstrates how it dramatically reversed its previously high time loss injury claim rate by developing a sound health and safety program and following through with it.

Here’s what President Guy West says, “Without a doubt, we would not have achieved what we did without the willingness of our employees to buy-in to a health and safety environment. I would say take your time and develop a safety plan that best suits your company and your employees. Understand that results take time, but you can get there. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Finally, there is one thing we should all think about and that is that at the end of the day employees want to go home to their families injury-free.” Every story in this magazine is worth reading.

5. Reporting on the Canadian Construction Industry, Daily Commercial News  has a special section on Occupational Health and Safety and it’s a must- read. This daily is an important news source if you’re in any aspect of construction, including steel, concrete, demolition, road building, water & wastewater, green building, sewer & water main, heavy equipment and skills training.

Straightforward, informative articles will keep you up to date on all major news stories related to Canada’s construction industry and all its sectors. It’s easy to navigate and necessary for the occupational health and safety of your workers and for an overview of your field.

But with so many great resources out there, we couldn’t stop at just five, so please check back on Thursday for part II of our spotlight on some of the blogs, magazines and Linkedin groups we couldn’t be without.

Mining: Key Responsibilities

Seton Canada

According to The Ministry of Labour, other dangerous mining incidents have stemmed from a lack of required written procedures to protect workers, including “poor communication of known hazards, lack of identifying unsafe areas, lack of warning signs and any additional information needed to protect workers.”

Seton Canada: Giving Back To The Community

Seton Charities
Ho, ho – whoa!  Here come the holidays!

Yup, it won’t be long until we’re all cracking open presents, eating too much and spending time with the ones we love.

And as old Ebenezer Scrooge learned (and Scrooge McDuck, for that matter), the holidays are also a time to remember all that we have, and to help those who are less fortunate.

The good people at Seton Canada know this.

“We’re so fortunate to have good jobs and the lifestyle that comes with them,” says Caroline Winnel, Account Manager at Seton Canada, and one of the volunteer committee members.  “There are so many who are less fortunate. I think it’s our responsibility to give back and contribute to the community.”

Every month, staff members at Seton Canada select a charity to donate to.  The donations might be money, food, or clothing.

This December, the Seton charity of choice is The Richmond Hill Food Bank an independently run non-profit agency that is staffed by volunteers and helps those in need.

The food drive runs until December 14th.

Working alongside with Winnel on the Seton volunteer committee is Linda O’Donnell from Seton’s Customer Service department and Sherry Currie, the company’s Quoter.

In order to do all they can to boost donations for the food drive, and as a fun incentive, the entire Seton team can wear jeans to work to every day – as long as they bring a food donation every day. That means there’s been a lot of denim in the office recently.

On top of that, all donations that the Seton Canada team brings in are matched by the corporate office in the United States.

But December 15th doesn’t signal an end to the work that Seton does for charity.

Each month the Seton volunteers meet to choose a charity that they will be supporting for the following month.  Their choices are usually based on seasonal charities such as Movember and Breast Cancer Month.

Along with raising money and food, they help organize and facilitate different ways for people to get involved in the organization. “We like to do special things to raise money but we also need to get people involved to make it work,” says Winnel.

Other worthy causes that they have supported include:

Winnel is excited about her upcoming work tutoring high risk youth through JVS. “Both myself, Sherry Currie and volunteer leader, Shehzad Hamza will be trained as tutors by Frontier College,” she says. “And once the training is complete, we will each be tutoring a student, once a week for a 10 week period to help them in attaining their GED. At the end of the ten week period, we will be attending the graduation ceremony for the students that we have tutored.”

And there’s a lot more coming up for 2013 says Winnel. “We have lots of plans for the new year. We’re hoping to get more people donating more of their time. We’ll be getting more involved in the community, there will be more memorable moments ahead of us. I look forward to them. Those are the times when you get life changing moments.”

What causes do you support?  Tell us about them and we might run a feature on your charitable endeavours.

 

 

Mining Safety Blitzes

Mining Safety Blitz

Dwayne Plamondon of Workplace Safety North believes there is a special bond among miners.

“It’s like a family underground,” he said.

And to help keep this family safe, for the past six weeks Ontario mining inspectors have been conducting safety blitzes and checking on two specific systems used to transfer ore inside underground mines.

The systems are the:

  • “Ore pass” (vertical or inclined passage used for the downward transfer of ore)
  • “Loading pocket” (chamber excavated in the rock at the base of an ore pass where rock is stored)

According to the Ministry of Labour these are the most hazardous of any ore transfer system.

The safety blitzes “are designed to raise awareness and increase compliance with health and safety legislation.”

While even a single dangerous incident is one too many, the fact is that Ontario’s mining safety record is good, says Jerry Wedzicha, an electrical-mechanical specialist with the Ontario Ministry of Labour in Sudbury.

“Underground, there’s a network of systems for moving materials from the rock face,” Wedzicha said. “Usually it’s sent to a loading pocket which is a vertical hole from one level to another and then there’s a gate which is opened to allow the material to fall by gravity to a conveyor which then takes it up and out and away (usually to the mill for processing).”

The ore pass is downward sloping passage where the blasted or extracted face material falls to the loading pocket, he said.

“(Both) can get jammed with material so sometimes they put a little water on it to loosen to flow,” he said. “But too much water and it all becomes loose and flows like liquid and you have an avalanche which is uncontrolled.”

This is called a “run-of-muck” incident and accounted for 10% of mine fatalities from 1970 to 2012 according to Ministry of Labour statistics.

One of the more recent “run-of-muck” incidents incurred in 2011.

It’s important for there to be good drainage in these two areas so that water doesn’t accumulate and cause an avalanche or run of muck. It’s also important for operators in the area controlling the gate at the loading pocket to not only protected from the material but also to have an escape path should things go wrong.

“Also if anyone is working in the bottom of the loading pocket, mucking out the debris and fine material, all work has to stop because you are putting them at risk,” he said.

“Things like signage are important and communication is also important,” said Plamondon of Workplace Safety. “At the start of every shift there should be a huddle with the supervisor and the workers to go over what is going on during their shift so they are aware and what happened in the last shift. They always start with a discussion around Health and Safety. There’s also a meeting at the end of the shift to report back so there next shift coming in knows of any issues.”

He said there are different protocols used by mines such SAFE:

See It
Assess It
Fix It
Evaluate it

“They all work if they are followed,” he said.

 

Mining Safety Blitzes

Mining Safety Blitz

Dwayne Plamondon of Workplace Safety North believes there is a special bond among miners.

“It’s like a family underground,” he said.

And to help keep this family safe, for the past six weeks Ontario mining inspectors have been conducting safety blitzes and checking on two specific systems used to transfer ore inside underground mines.

The systems are the:

  • “Ore pass” (vertical or inclined passage used for the downward transfer of ore)
  • “Loading pocket” (chamber excavated in the rock at the base of an ore pass where rock is stored)

According to the Ministry of Labour these are the most hazardous of any ore transfer system.

The safety blitzes “are designed to raise awareness and increase compliance with health and safety legislation.”

While even a single dangerous incident is one too many, the fact is that Ontario’s mining safety record is good, says Jerry Wedzicha, an electrical-mechanical specialist with the Ontario Ministry of Labour in Sudbury.

“Underground, there’s a network of systems for moving materials from the rock face,” Wedzicha said. “Usually it’s sent to a loading pocket which is a vertical hole from one level to another and then there’s a gate which is opened to allow the material to fall by gravity to a conveyor which then takes it up and out and away (usually to the mill for processing).”

The ore pass is downward sloping passage where the blasted or extracted face material falls to the loading pocket, he said.

“(Both) can get jammed with material so sometimes they put a little water on it to loosen to flow,” he said. “But too much water and it all becomes loose and flows like liquid and you have an avalanche which is uncontrolled.”

This is called a “run-of-muck” incident and accounted for 10% of mine fatalities from 1970 to 2012 according to Ministry of Labour statistics.

One of the more recent “run-of-muck” incidents incurred in 2011.

It’s important for there to be good drainage in these two areas so that water doesn’t accumulate and cause an avalanche or run of muck. It’s also important for operators in the area controlling the gate at the loading pocket to not only protected from the material but also to have an escape path should things go wrong.

“Also if anyone is working in the bottom of the loading pocket, mucking out the debris and fine material, all work has to stop because you are putting them at risk,” he said.

“Things like signage are important and communication is also important,” said Plamondon of Workplace Safety. “At the start of every shift there should be a huddle with the supervisor and the workers to go over what is going on during their shift so they are aware and what happened in the last shift. They always start with a discussion around Health and Safety. There’s also a meeting at the end of the shift to report back so there next shift coming in knows of any issues.”

He said there are different protocols used by mines such SAFE:

See It
Assess It
Fix It
Evaluate it

“They all work if they are followed,” he said.

 

Job Safety And An Aging Workforce

Job Safety

If you see that some of your older workers may not be as fast anymore, with their experience and wisdom, they could be reassigned to work that’s more suited to their skills.

Calgary-based Colin Steadman, Senior Safety Advisor for Southern Alberta at the Alberta Construction Safety Association says, “Older workers can teach younger workers while they’re young,” Steadman says. “They’ll learn. Older workers can prove to younger workers that they’re not invincible. If we don’t teach them and mentor them young, they’ll never learn that they’re not invincible.”

 

 

Promoting Safety With An Aging Workforce

Promoting Safety With An Ageing WorkforceWalk onto any construction site and you’ll see workers of all ages – from young workers in their late teens to workers well into their 60s.

People are working longer and retiring later. This is creating a dramatic generation divide between workers. And it has profound implications in terms of worker safety and occupational health.  There are benefits – and there are potential dangers.

Recently I interviewed Harvard-trained economist and Professor Emeritus of Economics at the University of Toronto, David Foot, the outspoken and controversial expert on demographics and how they impact economic change. He is the author of the landmark Boom, Bust & Echo and several other books on demographics. Here’s what he said about how older workers are changing the face of the workplace today and why.

“There are simply more workers who are 55-plus than ever before and they may be working longer. With a rising life expectancy, two years per decade, that means a 55-year-old today is like a 44-year-old, so their health is not like your parents at that age,” Foot said. “My understanding is that older workers are less likely to be injured on the job because they have lots more experience, but if they are injured, it is usually more serious and they are off work longer.”

This trend is reflected in a statistical study published in 2011 by WorksafeBC that focuses on older workers and gives explicit statistical details about types of accidents and the age groups they affect.

Calgary-based Colin Steadman, NSCO and Senior Safety Advisor for Southern Alberta at the Alberta Construction Safety Association agrees. “We’ve got a labour shortage in Alberta,” he says. (This shortage is reflected in major centres across Canada, according to the Canadian Construction Association.)

Older workers are staying on construction sites longer, maybe because they don’t want to retire or can’t afford to retire, Steadman says. It’s not uncommon for older workers “to forget that they’re not 18 anymore.”

Steadman remembers an older worker who thought he could correct a problem with a machine while it was still running. “He lost a finger,” he said. “Young workers think they’re invincible and older workers can fall back on that mentality because they could get away with it 30 years ago.”

While older workers may lose some of the physical capacities as they get older, other functions improve with age – strategic thinking, sharp-wittedness, wisdom, considerateness and ability to rationalize, according to Promoting active aging in the workplace, a 2012 report from the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work.

Older workers are “incredibly valuable on construction sites,” Steadman says. “They’ve seen and experienced injuries and are great mentors and trainers for younger workers. With their 30-40 years of experience, they can teach younger workers with their wealth of knowledge. They’ve experienced it, lost fingers, fallen off roofs and broken backs.”

The best way to train workers of all ages is to get them together so they can learn interactively, he says. “If you want to teach workers how to wear fall protection equipment, give it to them. Then make sure they know how to wear it. Show them how to use it, how to clean it and make sure it fits properly.”

“Hands-on learning really makes the difference and the older workers can mentor the younger workers,” he says.

He adds that part of your on the job safety strategy for workers of all ages should be:

a)    Slow down
b)    If you need extra equipment, ask for it
c)    If you need extra help, ask for it

Because of their experience and know-how, older workers may have fewer injuries than younger workers, “but their recovery time is longer, they’re not as strong and healthy, so their body’s ability to fix itself isn’t as good, their injuries could be more disabling and time off is longer,” says Steadman.

It’s vital that employers and managers keep a close eye on their workers “to ensure workers of all ages are working well,” he says. “Managers must be active and engaged with their workers, not sitting in an office somewhere. They’ve got to get out on the site to see what’s going on.”