Archives for June 2013

Hearing Protection & Reflective Clothing Options

In mining and construction sites, there are many measures to prevent work-related injuries and potential health hazards. Training, warning signs, regular equipment maintenance, and safety tools must all be present for a sound working environment. Miners and construction workers, however, are regularly exposed to more extreme conditions—two of these are excessive noise and low visibility—which require vigilant precautions both underground and on the surface.

Hearing Protection

Heavy equipment and machinery Ear Muff Headbandproduce sounds that are above the normal level ears can bear, and federal government permits noise at the maximum level of 87 dB(A) in an 8-hour exposure. However, this may still put onsite personnel at high risk of noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL). In Canada, excessive exposure to occupational noise accounts for approximately 9,000 cases of hearing impairment each year, a health hazard that affects their job performance, safety, and daily lives.

Looking right into the source of noise and reducing its sound level is a guaranteed method of prevention, but it is, more often than not, impractical. In this case, hearing protectors such as ear plugs and earmuffs are prescribed to and worn by workers. But choosing the right hearing PPE can be confusing. Here’s a list of the common types of hearing protection equipment to help you decide.

  • Ear plugs — Ear plugs are easy to carry around anywhere. They’re inexpensive and are either reusable or disposable. Preformed or pre-molded ear plugs, mostly made of rubber or plastic, are available in small to large sizes that can be washed and reused. Foam ear plugs are meant to follow the form of your ear canal as it expands, ideally making it “one size fits all.”
  • Earmuffs — Designed to completely cover the ear, earmuffs offer greater ear protection compared to stand-alone earplugs. These have small to large ear cups with cushions and are sometimes used with earplugs for better noise protection. One common complaint about earmuffs is that they are uncomfortable to wear with safety glasses on.
  • Canal caps — Canal caps have flexible headbands with form-able or pre-molded ear plugs on both tips. You can leave it hanging around the neck when not in use, making it convenient to use and carry.

Protective Clothing – High Visibility

Reflective Safety VestsWorking underground where supply of natural light is scarce to non-existent, or outside where fog or concrete dust cloud the vision can pose threats to the safety of miners and construction workers. Accidents like running over workers with heavy-duty machinery due to low visibility are not uncommon but are highly preventable.

In order to identify the risks that come with working around moving vehicles, hazard assessments are recommended as part of workplace injury prevention. When a significant amount of exposure to traffic hazards is found, warning signs and reflective clothing that alert vehicle operators of a worker’s presence will be required. In finding the right high-visibility clothing, here are some points to consider:

  • Colour — Colours should be fluorescent red-orange or red; bright yellow-green, red-orange or red; or fluorescent yellow-green for background materials. For contrasting colour stripes, fluorescent red-orange, yellow-green, or red can be used and must have a noticeable colour contrast to the background material.
  • Size — Full coverage of the body with fluorescent colours or contrasting colour stripes makes the worker and his movements more visible from different directions. It should be lightweight and fitted to the person with enough room for garments worn underneath (e.g. jacket).
  • Brightness — Bright colours and fluorescent materials are best worn under daylight. In low light worksites, fluorescent colours and reflective materials are more effective. Under dark conditions, retroreflective materials provide better visibility than fluorescent materials.

 

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Seton volunteers at RMH Toronto

SCA volunteers at RMH Toronto

On Saturday, June 8, 2013, employees of Seton Canada and IDenticam came together to participate in the Home for Dinner program for the Ronald McDonald House Toronto.

Ronald McDonald House Toronto provides out-of-town families with a “home away from home” while their seriously ill children receive life-saving medical treatment at local hospitals.

The Home for Dinner program invites groups of volunteers to prepare a meal for the families staying in the House. A total of 7 Seton Canada and IDenticam employees, as well as their family and friends, participated in the event.

“It was amazing, it was a great experience,” said Sherry Currie, a Seton Canada Volunteer Program team member.

After shopping for groceries in the morning, the team met at the RMD house at 2:30 pm and started preparing dinner for approximately 135 people. The menu consisted of a green salad, grilled vegetables, and pasta with meatballs and red sauce for the main course, as well as fruit and ice cream sandwiches for dessert.

“Overall there was a desire for us to work together, especially in the community. This was an opportunity for everyone to get together to donate time, rather than just money,” said Seton Canada’s Employee Volunteer Program Coordinator, Shehzad Hamza.

Some of the volunteers were also given a tour of the House, located in downtown Toronto. The House offers amenities such as a playground, a small movie theatre, laundry services, a gym and even a school that both children undergoing treatment and their siblings can attend.

“We had a lot of fun,” Hamza said. “The best part was the families; a few came over and thanked us for their meal.”

“I highly recommend it,” Currie said. “I think we’re going to try to do it again. And a lot of other employees want to be involved.”

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Fall Prevention Checklist

Fall ProtectionSlips, trips, and falls have been proven to be the leading causes of workplace injuries but they are also the most preventable workplace accidents in almost every industry. The latest statistics from the Association of Workers’ Compensation Boards of Canada, released in 2011, puts the number of injured workers due to fall accidents at 42,000. Overall, fall injuries make up about 17% of the total workplace injuries that resulted to “time-loss” at work.

Most of the fall accidents resulting from same level slips and trips account for 66% of the total number of fall accidents, while 34% are falls that occur from a height such as scaffolding, ladders, and rooftops.

Simple steps can be taken to prevent slips and trips. Read our previous blog post for tips in preventing workplace slips, trips and falls.

Fall prevention from heights require more than common sense. In construction, mining, oil, and other industries, fall protection includes the use of workplace safety equipment such as harnesses, lanyards, and body belts.

Harnesses 

Chest harnesses are recommended for limited fall hazards only. It is usually used for rescue or retrieval of personnel from a confined space like tanks or large bins.

Full-body harnesses are best used for free fall hazards. Workers working at great heights should suit-up with a full-body harness instead of a chest harness or a body belt.

Lanyards

Rope lanyards have shock-absorption features that are best for vertical free fall hazards. Its elastic properties are designed to dissipate the force of a fall away from the worker’s body.

Web lanyards or non-shock absorbing lanyards are only recommended for fall hazards that are less than 2 ft.

Body Belts

There are 2 types of body belts – the single and the double D-ring belt. Both are recommended only for restraint and proper positioning and should not be used when fall hazards exists.

Fall Protection Program Checklist

Inspections

Conduct regular inspections of your fall protection gear. This is to make sure that the equipment is in working condition with no tears on the belts, or malfunctioning anchors that could be fatal for workers using the equipment. Always check each component of the fall protection system before use.  Also, keep a regularly updated record of inspection. This will serve as a reference and proof that the equipment is maintained properly.

Replacements

Replace harness, belts and other components of your fall protection system if worn or defective. Consult with the manufacturer if you have questions about the life-span of the equipment. Make sure every replaced component is reflected on the inspection record.

Energy Absorption Feature

Ensure that your fall arrest or fall protection system has energy absorption capacity to cushion the worker’s body against the sudden force of a free fall. Non-shock absorbing lanyards may cause trauma to a worker’s body especially from a fall at a greater height.

Manufacturer’s Manual

Read the manual. Know exactly the uses and limitations of each fall protection equipment. This includes instructions for adjustment, fit, application, inspection, and care. Read the hazard warnings as well as the recommendations.

Canadian Standards Association (CSA) Standard Z259

The non-profit organization, CSA, released the Z259 fall protection standards to guide workplace safety engineers on the right equipment for their workers. Choose the fall prevention system that meet or exceeds these recommendations to be sure of quality and reliability.

 

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Difference Between Sealants and Tapes

Sealants and Tapes

Maintenance work is an integral part of production. Keeping your facility’s equipment, tools and machines in tip-top condition is the key to a productive workplace. To keep your equipment in perfect working condition, you need to have the finest maintenance tools to help you. The two most commonly used tools for warehouse maintenance work are sealants and tapes; however, some people often have the misconception that the two are one and the same. The truth is sealants and tapes were developed for totally different applications.

Even though these warehouse supplies have adhesive properties, the manner on how they should be used greatly varies. First thing you need to know is – what are the main differences between the two and how are they applied during warehouse maintenance work.

  • Tapes uniformly holds two surfaces together, such as broken pieces of furniture, while sealants fill in gaps or seals cracks or leaks present in pipes and other office equipment.
  • In terms of tensile strength, tapes are considerably stronger than sealants, but the latter has greater flexibility.
  • Tapes provide greater structural stability.
  • Sealants are designed to cut off any incoming or outgoing substrate.
  • Tapes are designed for general purpose maintenance and repair work whereas sealants are limited to specific applications.

Here’s an easier way of looking at it. Imagine a leak on your roof, now which warehouse supply do you think is best suited for the job? The ideal choice of course is the sealant because they are formulated to fill gaps and make most surfaces waterproof. Just think of what would happen if you used adhesive tape to seal that leak, chances are that leak is still going to be there. However, that’s where you’re going to see the limitations of sealants. They’re only used for waterproofing and sealing applications.

Tapes on the other hand have a broader spectrum of applications. In fact, tapes are so versatile that they can be used for more than just warehouse maintenance. Adhesive tapes can also be used:

  • As a mounting agent for signs and nameplates.
  • To colour code different areas in your facility.
  • For packing applications.

There are several types of sealants and tapes available for various maintenance applications, they include:

  • Liquid sealants – ideal for waterproofing roofs, floors and walls.
  • Cartridge sealants – used for filling in gaps found on walls, ceilings, skirting boards, kitchen worktops, baths, shower trays and more.
  • Masking tapes – used primarily in painting applications to cover or “mask” certain areas that do not need painting.
  • Packaging tapes – used for sealing boxes.
  • Duct tape – perfect for various construction and repair work because of its strong, flexible and highly sticky properties.

So before you start any maintenance work in your facility, you should determine the type of work that needs to be done and remember the differences between sealants and tapes. This will help you decide what materials you will need for the task at hand.

 

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Workplace Head Injuries: A Big Headache

head-injury-prevention-cen

Workplace head injuries can traumatize the brain and put someone in a hospital for days, or in some cases may even lead to death. To prevent this type of damage from occurring, your facility should maintain a proper workplace injury prevention system. Believe it or not, workplace head injuries are fairly common and are usually the result of the poor execution of your facility’s safety guidelines. The good news is you can take matters into your own hands and develop an accident prevention program that’s going to guarantee the safety of you and your employees.

Now let’s take a look at the different severity of head injuries your workers can suffer while performing their duties.

  • MILD – These types of head wounds show minimal damages inside and outside of the head. The person does not suffer from loss of consciousness but can experience headaches and vomiting.
  • MODERATE – Workplace head injuries of this sort may be characterized by a noticeable trauma to the outside of the head. The person involved can momentarily lose consciousness and can also suffer from, memory loss, dizziness, headaches, drowsiness, vomiting, and confusion. There are some cases where cerebrospinal fluid leaks out from the nose.
  • SEVERE – This type of head trauma show significant damage on outside of the head which in some cases can also affect the neck, arms and legs.  The person is unconscious and unresponsive, and may at times suffer from seizures.

So what are the best ways to prevent workplace head injuries from occurring?  As an employer you need to inform your employees about the latest safety policies in your facility and provide them with the tools and equipment they need to protect themselves.

  •  Your facility should display proper warning and safety signs in areas where head injuries are likely to Hard Hat Area Signhappen. These signs should clearly indicate the possibility of head injuries and that the appropriate safety gear is needed before entering.
  • Hard hats are the best equipment you can give to your workers. They are the primary source of protection your workers have against traumatic head injuries. You have to make sure that your employees enter work areas with the proper safety gear on.
  • Keep your facility’s workplace injury prevention policies up to date, and make sure that your employees are properly trained and informed.

The biggest mistake that some companies commit is neglecting the need for employees to wear appropriate safety equipment and maintaining a good safety management program. When it comes to head injury prevention, nothing can protect your employees more than a hard hat. A good quality hard hat can make a big difference, and should be a mandatory item in high risk working environments such as construction sites, mining operations, maintenance and repair and other applications where the risks for head injuries are high.

Using hard hats is one of the best ways to prevent or minimize any sort of damage to the head. Hard hats come in different types depending on the type of work that needs to be done, and they are:

  • Class A – These are the most commonly used hard hats. They offer outstanding protection from most blunt forces to the head but offers little protection against electricity
  • Class B – Designed to protect the wearer from falling objects and high-voltage electrical shocks. These hard hats are used primarily for electrical applications.
  • Class C – Light-weight and comfortable hard hats designed to protect the wearer when bumping fixed objects. Offers little protection from falling objects and electrical shocks.

Remember, discipline plays a big part in preventing workplace head injuries. You have to make sure your workers are always following the latest safety guidelines and are provided with the right head protection. Safety signs should always be posted in areas where accidents are likely to occur, and at eye level where everyone can clearly read them. Taking these measures is a sure fire way of preventing head injuries in the workplace.

 

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Keep Everyone Safe with Bilingual Signs

Bilingual Signs

Across Canada, the use of bilingual signs in the workplace is necessary to communicate important safety and company policies that everyone will understand. According to Canada’s constitution, English and French are recognized to be the state’s official languages. Implementing universal signs that cater to a multicultural workforce can improve productivity by reducing the occurrences of work-related injuries and accidents.

It’s a fact that you will encounter hazards in the workplace. Your responsibility as an employer is to make sure your workforce, especially if it is multicultural, is aware of immediate dangers and the precautions they need to take to avoid any accidents.

Imagine this, a French speaking factory worker comes to work in your facility and experiences an accident during the course of the day because most of the safety signs were in English or another language that he doesn’t normally speak. Your company can be held liable for the incident because you didn’t have safety signs that the French speaking employee could understand.

Now if you were using bilingual signs to communicate the different hazards present in the facility, the possibility of that worker having an accident will be greatly reduced. Bilingual safety signs also help companies in bilingual regions stay in compliance with state and federal safety regulations. The presence of universal signs in key areas of your facility can help reduce confusion among employees and the risk of serious and life threatening accidents.

Universal signs were developed to help promote safety practices regardless of the language, and it’s not only in the workplace where bilingual signs are used. In Canada, there are a number of places where you can see safety signs in two languages:

  •  Universal safety signs are used in Ontario’s provincial highways, as well as in the Greater Toronto area to promote safety on the road by providing important traffic safety information to both English and French speaking motorists.
  • The Canadian constitution requires that all federal and government buildings in Canada should use signs with both the English and French languages.

However, other areas like Alberta follow certain guidelines when it comes to using bilingual signs. According to The Alberta Infrastructure and Transportation or AIT, traffic signs:

  • Will use English as the main language.
  • Can be bilingual as long as it is approved by the AIT.
  • Can display bilingual messages if they are serving historical sites and national parks.

In times where companies and cities are no longer confined to one culture and language, the presence of bilingual signs becomes more important. They deliver their safety and warning messages to a greater audience to ensure everyone’s safety and well being.

 

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Safety Begins with Me: Eye Injury Prevention

Safety EyewearWorkplace eye injuries are more common than you think. It is estimated that about 1,000 eye injuries occur everyday in the US. In Canada, the Canadian National Institute for the Blind or CNIB puts the number to around 200 a day. Ontario reported that nearly 3,000 workers suffered eye injuries in 2006 alone. These numbers remind workers and employers about the need to promote eye safety in the workplace.

Eye injury prevention is simple enough to implement. With the right safety eyewear, the risk of eye injury is reduced by a staggering 90%. Having said that, wearing the wrong kind of safety glasses may be just as bad as not wearing any protective glasses at all. The eyes are extremely sensitive organs and it is estimated that around 5% of eye injuries may result in serious, long term or short term vision problems or even blindness.

Finding the right safety glasses is crucial in preventing eye injuries. Choose only safety glasses that meet CSA (Canadian Standards Association) Z94.3.1-09 requirements to be sure of quality.

What should you look out for?

Lenses – Plastic polycarbonate lenses are recommended for its impact resistance and flexible form. It comes in both prescription and non-prescription lenses.

Markings – It’s important to scrutinize the glasses you’re buying. Make sure the name of the manufacturer or their logo is clearly etched on the frame, shields, or lenses.

Frames – Frames for safety glasses should be stronger than regular, fashionable frames. It’s important to have heat-resistant frames especially for welders and others who work in extreme environments. Make sure the frame prevents the lenses from pushing into the eyes.

Here’s a guide on the recommended type of safety glasses for different jobs. A complete list can be found on the CCOHS website.

Selection of Eye and Face Protection

*indicates recommendation
Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS)
Z94.3.1-09 Selection use and care of protective eyewear by Canadian Standards Association, 2009

 

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