Archives for May 2013

10 Steps to Safe Lock Out

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Working on or near exposed energized equipment and circuits can be extremely dangerous if safe work practices are not followed. It is critical that employers provide employees with the appropriate training, procedures and lock-out equipment to safely de-energize equipment and circuits before electrical work is done.

Follow these 10 steps to ensure equipment is safely locked out to keep your workers safe.

1. Communicate to employees the importance of lock-out safety. Make sure everyone understands provincial regulations and the importance of following your company’s lock-out program.

2. List all machinery and equipment that require a lock-out procedure for maintenance. Keep equipment in good condition and maintain records to ensure all repairs are up to date.

3. Identify all points of energy to avoid isolating the wrong sources. This includes energies such as mechanical, hydraulic, pressure, electrical and thermal. Communicate these locations in your lock-out procedures.

4. Document hardware required to isolate and lock out each energy source. This documentation should include any required hardware, padlocks, tags and other devices.

5. Ensure all lock-out equipment is organized and accessible. Establish locations for supplies including lock boxes, stations and tools.

6. Identify workers and their lock-out responsibilities. Include who must be aware of lockout, who is affected by lockout and who is authorized to perform lockout.

7. Implement a well-organized and comprehensive lock-out program. Determine how employees will be trained and organize all necessary documentation on safety procedures and practices.

8. Train employees in accordance with their roles in the lock-out process. Instruct, coach and execute proper lock-out procedures. Post training guides, warning signs and safety reminders where needed in your facility.

9. Maintain your lock-out program. It’s important to update equipment and energy information to ensure it’s always current as well as check your inventory regularly to ensure lock-out supplies are in stock.

10. Continually train new employees and hold refresher training for long-term workers. Keep lock-out safety in the forefront of employees’ minds and keep them up to date on lock-out procedures as they are changed or updated.

Learn more at Seton’s Mine Talk Newsletter!

Injury Reduction in the Workplace

Injury Reduction

Workplace injuries are almost unavoidable especially in industries such as construction and manufacturing. Whenever these unfortunate incidents occur, both the worker and company suffer the consequences. For the worker, it means the loss of wages, not to mention his or her health, and for the company, it results in production loss.

The Human Resources and Skills Development Canada or HRSDC estimates that occupational injury costs to the Canadian economy total to more than $19 billion each year, with direct and indirect costs factored in.

While the rate of work-related injury has declined steadily since 1987, it cannot be denied that workplace safety still needs to be improved. Injury prevention and injury reduction must be the main goal without sacrificing productivity.

Employers and employees must work together to succeed in this endeavour. Here are some tips for effective injury reduction in the workplace.

Train employees to identify work hazards. If your workers are constantly exposed to hazardous substances, they should be equipped with proper information on how to deal with them. Make sure machine operators undergo training and appreciate the importance of workplace safety. Be strict about facility rules, such as no smoking policies, and explain the consequences of disobeying them.

Provide proper protective equipment. Knowing the work hazards employees might encounter is only half the battle. Ensure they have the correct PPE or Personal Protective Equipment to protect certain body parts at all times. If you cannot provide each worker with a set of equipment, such as hard hats and safety goggles, assign key locations where they can be stored. Conduct regular maintenance checks to make sure they are not damaged and are still good to use.

Place appropriate warning signs. For compliance and injury prevention, display signs that remind employees to keep safety top of mind. Whether it’s a confined space, a chemical storage area, or a blasting site, everyone should be informed and warned to proceed with caution and proper protection.

Make first aid materials accessible. While injury prevention is what we are aiming for, being ready when disaster strikes is also an essential step. Employees should know what to do when an accident occurs, and basic first aid should be one of them. Place first aid stations in key areas and regularly check that they are well-stocked. Display posters and hazard alerts all over the work place to help remind workers of how to deal with injury and hazards.

Workplace injuries hinder productivity and cause down time. Your facility can reduce and prevent injuries with proper training and the right equipment.

Compliance Talk: Lock Out/ Tag Out

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To keep workers safe, it’s important that electronically powered equipment and circuits are de-energized before mechanical work is done.

OHSA R.R.O. 1990 Regulation 854, s. 159 (3) specifically requires that precautions to guard workers against injury by moving or energized parts are taken before maintenance, repair or adjustment work is performed on a machine that is energized.

To help comply with these regulations and ultimately prevent accidents, we suggest miners take the following steps prior to performing electrical work.

1. Determine the location of the energy source for the circuit to be worked on.

2. Carefully de-energize the circuit.

3. Each employee working on the circuit should place his/her own lock and tag on the disconnecting device.

4. Test circuit to be worked on for voltage to ensure no electricity is present.

5. Ground all the phase conductors to the equipment grounding conductor with a jumper.

Learn more at Seton’s Mine Talk Newsletter!

Workplace Bullying: Where Can You Turn To?

Workplace Bullying

If you think you’ve outgrown and left the bully back in the schoolyard, think again. That bully is now wearing a tie and carrying a briefcase. In fact, that schoolyard bully just morphed into something more sinister – he or she is now your boss or co-worker.

Workplace bullying is often called the “silent epidemic.” The helplessness, frustration, and stress often take their toll leading to serious illness, not to mention, mental and emotional trauma. In truth, the effects of workplace bullying are not restricted to the bullied. Management and the company also suffer economically with the loss of a good worker. Productivity suffers as more often than not, the bullied employees are the most productive and knowledgeable about the job.

Unfortunately, countries such as the United States still lack the necessary laws that cover bullying. Unless the bully physically assaults or sexually harasses the employee, in the eyes of the law, there’s nothing that can be done.

If you are being bullied, where can you turn to?

Workplace Bullying Institute (US)

The Workplace Bullying Institute is an advocacy group lobbying to get the Healthy Workplace Bill to pass into law. It’s a bill that addresses “abusive work environment” different from harassment and other existing labour laws. Why do workers and employers need this new law? According to their 2010 national survey, 35% of workers have experienced bullying and bullying is four times more prevalent than harassment. Furthermore, in their 2007 study, it was found that 44% or nearly half of the organizations with incidents of bullying did nothing to address their employees’ grievances while 18% actually retaliated against the employees who reported the incidents.

Employees and employers may visit their website to gather information from preventing bullying to providing solutions to workplace bullying. There is helpful information that includes signs and symptoms of bullying, economic and health impact of bullying, rational action plans to stop bullying, list of professionals who can help, and more.

Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS)

Even in Canada, known for politeness, 40% of Canadian workers per week experience workplace bullying. This figure comes from the European Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology published in 2006. The surprisingly high number may have triggered the passing of Bill 168 also called Occupational Health and Safety Amendment Act (Violence and Harassment in the Workplace), passed in 2009. Bullied Ontario workers now have a better legal ground to stand on in a worst case scenario. The law specifies the responsibilities of the employers with significant consequences for non-compliance.

Workers in Canada may seek the help of CCOHS for information on workplace bullying and other types of workplace health and safety issues. Consult with them via their online inquiries form. According to their website, services are free and confidential.

Other Workplace Bullying ResourcesBullying Stops Here

AlbertaAlberta Learning Information Service

Alberta’s government site includes essential information and a list of services for professionals experiencing workplace bullying and harassment. According to the website, if the bullying is triggered by discrimination based on race, ethnicity, age, religion, disability, etc. you may be covered under the Alberta Human Rights Act. You may visit their site at www.albertahumanrights.ab.ca or call their toll-free number, 310-0000 and enter 780-427-7661 for north of Red Deer or 403-297-6571 for Red Deer south.

Ontario Ontario Ministry of Labour (MOL)

While the ministry prefers internal resolution of the complaint, the bullied or harassed employee may seek assistance of their nearest MOL office. Visit their site for the complete list of offices and contact information.

British ColumbiaMinistry of Labour Employment Standards Branch

The site offers a Self-Help Kit for employers and employees, who are unable to resolve disputes internally. Complaints such as bullying and harassment may go through the process of investigation, mediation and adjudication depending on the merits of the case and the parties involved.

QuebecCommission des normes du travail

The province headed the fight against workplace bullying with the passing of the ALS legislation or the Act respecting Labour Standards in 2004. In it, the government addressed the issue of psychological harassment. The Commission des normes du travail offers a comprehensive information kit for French-speaking Canadians that would help them fight and prevent bullying.

ManitobaWinnipeg Health Region

The Winnipeg site contains helpful tips and information on how to stop and prevent bullying. Click the link for the Region’s Respectful Workplace Policy to see further resources including contact information of organizations that may help you.

For more information, read our previous post about workplace bullying.

 

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Make Your Facility Handicap-Accessible

Handicap Parking Signs

People with a disability or handicap face a lot of challenges in their everyday life. Barriers from access limit their full participation in society. Business and facility owners should take a proactive step toward accommodation of persons with disabilities.

The rights of disabled and handicap persons are guaranteed by the law. The Canadian Human Rights Act includes physical and mental disability among the prohibited grounds of discrimination. Meanwhile, the Employment Equity Act aims to achieve equality in the workplace regardless of gender, race, ethnicity, or ability.

Cities and provinces around the country have also created their own policies to support these existing laws. Ontario, Mississauga, and Brampton all have their own Accessible Parking rules. The province of New Brunswick developed an Employment Action Plan to increase the employment of persons with disability.

So how can you, as an employer, answer this call? A good start to empowering people with disability is providing them proper access.

Parking Lots, Hallways, and Exits

It is easy to make your facility handicap-accessible. Start with your parking lot by displaying the appropriate handicap signs. Handicap parking signs clearly identify the reserved parking spots for the disabled. These signs should feature the international symbol of access, or the wheelchair symbol.

Check the policy in your city or province to find out the size, material, and reflectivity requirements for these parking signs. You can also opt for bilingual handicap parking signs if your facility is located in French-speaking areas. Ensure that these signs are visible to people in wheelchairs. Make parking spaces more accessible by placing them near building entrances and ramps.

From your parking lot, you can then check if the rest of your facility is handicap-friendly – the hallways, break rooms, cafeterias, and the restrooms. Check their size and watch out for physical barriers that can hamper employees’ access and in turn affect their productivity.

As part of your safety program, you should establish an efficient evacuation plan that includes properly-marked exit routes accessible to both employees on foot and on wheelchairs. Building ramps instead of stairs in exit routes can also be a better alternative as these allow for a swifter exit and minimize possible injuries.

Raising Morale

But more than access to your facility, it is also vital to create a harmonious environment among your employees. Persons of disability should be regarded based on their merits and ability to perform tasks regardless of their handicap. Encouraging an open and inclusive working environment will raise their morale and engage them more toward doing better in their jobs.

Promote Safety for New and Young Workers

Material Data Safety Sheet

Summer is about to start and many students are looking for summer jobs. There are also recent graduates who want to look for part-time employment before pursuing further studies. If your company is looking to hire new and young workers, one of the key things to remember is their occupational safety.

It is important to note that new workers or new employees don’t mean only those that have been recently-hired. New workers also pertain to those transferred to a new department, assigned to operate new equipment, and those who are returning from an extended absence.

Workers’ safety can be overlooked especially if your new workers have previous experience. You must keep in mind that each workplace operates differently. It is imperative that your new employees be educated about your occupational safety policies and standards.

A study by the Institute for Work & Health (IWH) found that there is a persistence of higher injury risk for new workers, especially during their first month on the job. And while the risk is highest among workers over 45 years old, there are still a number of young workers injured on the job. “The key risk factor is newness, not youth,” says IWH Scientist Dr. Curtis Breslin.

Whether you have new workers, temporary workers, or long-time workers, safety is everyone’s concern. There is a need to develop safety management systems and enforce safety policies that will benefit everyone on the job.

Here are some tips to encourage employee safety:

Provide Proper Training. Include safety practices as part of your new employee orientation process. Let them participate in discussions and encourage them to make these safety practices a habit. Answer questions and clarify the hazards in the workplace. If they learn about the importance of workers’ safety early on, they will practice it and in time, become a safety habit. Follow-up training is a good step to introduce new rules and procedures. They should also have free access to training materials and learning kits so they can look at them during their free time.

Monitor their progress. During the first week of new workers, it is recommended to have a supervisor or a senior employee monitor and observe their performance. Aside from having instant feedback, they will feel at ease with their new environment. Superiors can also gauge and determine if the workers are applying the occupational safety practices they have learned.

Encourage a healthy dialogue. New workers must feel comfortable about approaching supervisors regarding procedures they don’t understand. Let them know that they must report unsafe conditions or hazards in the workplace. They should not be reprimanded if they refuse to work in an unsafe area. If they know everyone prioritizes safety, they will not hesitate to make this commitment as well.

Prevention is key. A lot of injuries and accidents in the workplace can be avoided if workers are aware of the hazards and consequences of not protecting themselves. Provide new workers with protective equipment like hard hats, gloves, boots, and the like. Determine which areas they are assigned to, and equip them with the right devices to use. Health safety should also be practiced at work. Accidents are more likely to happen when workers are not in their best capacity to perform.

Keep these things in mind when welcoming new workers to your facility. Remember that workers’ safety is not just about preventing accidents and injuries. It also increases productivity and fosters a harmonious environment for your employees.

NAOSH Week: Spotlight on Canadian Workplace Safety

Mark your calendars; May 5 to 11, 2013 is NAOSH week. In case you didn’t already know, NAOSH stands for North American Occupational Safety and Health and every first week of May the importance of workplace health and safety is highlighted through different events and activities.

First launched by 3 countries namely, the United States, Mexico and Canada, in June 1997, NAOSH has grown in scope and aims to increase and spread awareness of occupational health and safety all over the world. Its 3-fold goal has been:

  •  To encourage more investments in workplace health and safety solutions
  •  To recognize contributions of workplace health and safety professionals
  •  To reduce workplace illnesses and injuries through NAOSH health and safety awareness activities that include sharing of innovative ideas and new solutions

This year, NAOSH asks, “Are you as safe as you think?”

In Canada, the number of work-related injuries compensated has been steadily decreasing since the 1990s. In the early 80’s the trend was up but it slowly decreased by the latter part of the decade. Still, figures show that in 2010, 1 out of every 68 workers gets injured on the job. It has been noted that men are more prone to injuries compared to women (18.8 cases of men vs. 11.2 of women out of 1000 workmen and 1000 women).

Among all of the industries in Canada, construction has been pointed out as having the most number of work-related injuries (24.5 cases out of 1,000 workers). And among Canadian provinces and territories, Manitoba got the highest rate of injury in 2010 while Ontario scored the lowest (24.4 cases out of 1,000 in Manitoba vs. 9.1 out of 1,000 workers in Ontario).
Statistics on Wokplace Injuries in Canada
With these figures from HRSDC (Human Resources and Skills Development Canada), employers and government regulators can zero in on workers most at risk of injuries while on the job. Greater emphasis on safety is needed especially for occupations relating to the manufacturing and construction sector. Gender-wise, since most manual labour jobs are occupied by men, such as mining and construction, men are naturally more at risk of having accidents than women. Having said that, there are women who work dangerous jobs as well, and they do need safety products such as PPEs or Personal Protective Equipment to accommodate their needs.

Manitoba, with its economy tied to agriculture, mining, forestry, and energy, was singled out as having the highest accident rate in all of Canada. Newly revised legislation such as The Workplace Safety and Health Act would go along way in ensuring the safety of the workers in Manitoba. And in line with their commitment to improving occupational health and safety, the province will be one of the active participants for this year’s NAOSH week. Aside from fun activities such as the Street Hockey Tournament, Safety Barbecue, and Bingo Bowl, a Community Safety Day will be devoted to seminars and training on health and fitness, emergency preparedness, and other safety programs.

Prevention is key in health and safety, and that’s why NAOSH partners such as CSSE (Canadian Society of Safety Engineers), CCOHS (Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety), and The American Society of Safety Engineers will be giving workplace safety seminars all over Canada. Knowing safety protocols, from posting a simple safety sign to wearing the right PPE (Personal Protective Equipment), could spell the difference between life and death.

Visit the NAOSH week website to know which activities are near your area.

 

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A Guide to Protecting Your Eyes

Safety Glasses

Of all the senses humans possess, the sense of sight is the one we rely on the most. The ability to see is vital for most functions in society from shortly after a person is born, and will be relied on all throughout that person’s life.

The importance of eyesight makes protecting one’s sense of sight a paramount priority. And yet, according to the Canadian National Institute for the Blind (CNIB), every day over two hundred workers in Canada sustain an eye injury while on the job. These injuries are not only common, but extremely costly and potentially life-changing, should an eye injury result in permanent vision impairment or blindness. The effect that sudden loss of vision can have on a worker can be devastating to morale, as well as to the lifestyle and livelihood of victims and their families.

Even injuries that do not result in permanent damage rack up considerable costs in terms of medical care, rehabilitation, lost time and productivity, and increased insurance premiums. This makes preventing workers from suffering and risking eye injuries through comprehensive and effective protection all the more critical.

The first line of defense
Proper safety protocol and effective hazard mitigation aside, the first line of defense for any worker facing potential hazards to his or her vision is being equipped with effective and appropriate safety eyewear.

Protective eyewear takes many forms, the most common being safety glasses and eye goggles:

  •  Safety Glasses – Among the most commonly used protective eyewear, safety glasses are typically made of plastic or other durable material and are designed to protect the eyes against dust, stray particles or bits of wood, stone, or metal (particularly in manufacturing settings), or smoke. Safety glasses are typically impact-resistant to prevent cracking and occasionally treated with anti-fog, anti-scratch, or radiation-filtering coatings depending on the cost and intended use. Some designs may include side shields or be shaped to be worn over prescription glasses.
  • Eye Goggles – Also called safety goggles, eye goggles are a type of safety eyewear ideally suited for dirty and high-particulate work environments and jobs that involve both hands, such as equipment handling, grinding, lumberjacking, sanding, and chipping. Safety goggles typically come with a strap to keep them secure on the face, and often have rubberized or padded frames for a more snug fit that keeps out dirt and other irritants. Eye goggles also prevent chemicals, waste or other fluids from splashing into a worker’s eyes, in fields like food production, water or sewage management, and chemical processing.

Properly protecting your peepers
It’s not always an easy task to select the most appropriate type of protective eyewear, given the diversity both of tasks and safety eyewear design types. Here are a few helpful tips to make your job easier and safer:

  1.  Be aware of the hazards and dangers any given task presents, and try to match your selection of safety glasses or eye goggles to the job at hand.
  2. Look for the mark of the Canadian Standards Association, which indicates that a product (not limited to safety eyewear) meets or exceeds existing safety standards.
  3. Once equipped, keep the lenses of your safety glasses or eye goggles clean, using tools such as lens wipes or protective eyewear lens cleaning stations, if available in your workplace.

Your eyesight is tightly linked to your life and livelihood. Keep it safe as you work with safety eyewear, and go to the future with clarity.

 

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