Archives for July 2013

Don’t Get Caught In A Tight Situation

Caution - Watch Your Hands and Fingers
According to a recent survey about construction safety, caught in/between hazards account for 5% of all occupational deaths and a shocking 16% for fatalities in construction areas. CFCSA (Canadian Federation of Construction Safety Associations) defines caught-in or between injuries as a result of people getting caught, compressed, pinched or crushed between two heavy machines or equipment. Collapsing materials and cave-ins are also included in this type of work hazard. Most of the time, cuts, bruises, mangled body parts, dismemberment and even death are the results of such accidents. Here’s an example:

A maintenance personnel was doing some routine checkups on a water truck. He was crawling under the truck while it was still operating. A screw that was projecting from the rotating pump shaft caught his uniform. The worker was pulled into the pump shaft and eventually died on the way to the hospital. This tragedy could have been avoided if the proper safety signs were posted to warn him about the hazards he was about to face. Here are some handy construction safety tips to keep your workers safe from caught in/between hazards in your facility.

  • Identify areas where caught-in hazards are present, such as heavy machines and equipment.
  • Remind your employees to maintain a safe distance from rotating equipment.
  • Don’t let your workers stay between heavy machinery and an immovable object.
  • Always make sure that company equipment comes with guards for the workers’ protection.
  • When handling machines with moving parts, always make sure that it is first turned off.
  • Don’t let your employees work in an excavation with accumulating water.

Most of these types of injuries happen when a piece of a worker’s clothing, even hair and jewelry gets caught in moving machines. Employers should strongly enforce the use of safe and appropriate clothing as part of their construction safety program.

  • Workers should avoid wearing loose clothes and wear close-fitting ones instead.
  • Shirts should be neatly tucked into the pants.
  • Short sleeved shirts are preferred. (If your workers are wearing long sleeved shirt make sure you remind them to button their sleeves at the cuff.)
  • Never wear any form of jewelry at work.
  • Long hair should always be worn in a bun or covered with a hairnet.
  • Facial hair should be kept relative short.

Along with these construction safety tips, the best way to prevent work-related injuries is by properly training your employees on how to handle company equipment along with your facility’s safety regulations. Have your site audited to see if you comply with state and federal safety standards. A site audit is also a good way of spotting potential caught-in/between hazards in your site. Keeping your employees informed and aware about the hazards present is the best way to keep them safe from accidents and injuries.



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Tip the Balance for Forklift Safety

Watch Out for Fork Lifts

Forklift accidents are not news when warehouse, manufacturing and construction safety topics are brought up. It is common knowledge that working in or moving around this heavy-duty truck can pose risks that may cost property, production, insurance and most unfortunately, lives. Although it’s not run-of-the-mill yet, Occupational Health and Safety Council of Ontario reports that forklift-related incidents still average out at 700 each year in Ontario alone. And a fraction of this startling number is accounted for the vehicle tipping over.

Forklift Tip-Overs

Many factors contribute to tip-over accidents. Poor workplace design (cluttered or narrow corners, dimly lit warehouse, ramps with different surfaces, lack of forklift traffic signs), overloading or improper loading, speedy turns, running over obstructions, and lifting the load while moving are some of its many causes. And when the forklift starts to overturn, a driver’s normal reaction is to jump off the vehicle. This often results in trips to the orthopedic hospital if not the morgue.  You don’t want that.

Proper training is the key in any occupational accident prevention. As a forklift operator, you must be equipped with technical and working knowledge of the specific vehicle you are assigned to, no matter how little of an upgrade or downgrade it may be, to effectively avert mishaps. But if ever you get caught in this situation, here are some tips for a better chance of survival:

  1. Stay in your seat. Assuming you practice the basic safety procedure of buckling up, you must not try to jump off the machine.
  2. Brace yourself. Firmly keep your feet on the floorboard, yourself against the seat, and your grip on the steering wheel.
  3. Lean in the opposite direction. Make sure you remain inside the vehicle frame for protection from impact, and lean away from the side of the overturn.

Forklift and Pedestrian Safety

All this does not end with the driver behind the wheel. Workplace safety tips and procedures while working around forklifts should be hammered home to all the staff, because after all, an on-ground employee also faces the same risk of getting crushed by a forklift or struck by lifted materials as operators do.

Staying alert is a general rule to keep oneself out of harm’s way, all the more crucial in environments where moving machinery are a common sight. But as employees get swamped with work, safety practices slowly slips into complacency. This is when caution and warning signs are most critical. A facility must have sufficient forklift safety signs where this vehicle is frequently used. Moreover, both workers on foot and forklift operators are advised to make eye contact to communicate intent and prevent forklift accidents.

There’s no need to bend over backwards to tip the balance in favor of safety. Familiarize yourself with your workplace, go through the proper training and practice what you’ve learned. That’s really all there is to workplace safety.


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Electrical Safety Pop Quiz

Preventing Electrocution

In a job site such as a construction or mining site, the risk of fatal electrocution and electric shocks are significantly higher because of the exposed live wires and high voltage equipment present. Preventing electrocution should be prioritized to prevent serious injuries and possible loss of lives.

Knowledge is the best defense and prevention. Do your workers know the facts about electrical safety? Here’s a True or False quiz to find out.

  1. Electrocution occurs more often at home than the workplace. – T/F
  2. 6/1000 of an amp electric shock is fatal. – T/F
  3. Lack of lockout/tagout programs can contribute to accidental electrocution and electric shocks. – T/F
  4. There’s no need to test electrical outlets if you shut off the breaker or pull the appropriate fuse. – T/F
  5. Wood or fibreglass ladders are prefferable when working in areas with live wires. – T/F
  6. Electrocution or electric shock only occurs upon direct contact with live wires. – T/F
  7. It’s necessary to mark underground electrical wiring in job sites. – T/F
  8. You can use extension cords as permanent wiring for power supplies. –T/F
  9. It’s ok to break off the third prong on a plug so it fits an outlet. –T/F
  10. A warm or hot wiring needs to be checked. – T/F
  11. It’s critical to label and identify electrical wires and cables. –T/F
  12. It’s fine to use nails or staples to secure and organize wiring. – T/F
  13. A Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter should be installed in damp or wet areas. – T/F
  14. It’s safer to pull the electrical equipment by the power cord instead of the plug. – T/F
  15. If there are multiple outlets in an extension cord, it’s safe to plug in multiple electrical devices regardless of watt requirements. – T/F
  16. Always check for exposed wiring and damage to cords and plug. – T/F
  17. You should always wear protective equipment when handling electrical jobs. – T/F
  18. It’s important to maintain 10m distance from a crane or truck that came in contact with live wires. – T/F
  19. Arc flashes are less serious than direct contact with a live wire. – T/F
  20. In case of emergency, when a person is electrocuted, you should immediately help the person by grabbing and pulling them from the source of electricity. – T/F


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4 Basic Construction Safety Must Do’s

Construction Site Safety

The construction industry, more than any other industry, has the highest rate of work-related injuries in Canada; specifically, 24.5 per 1,000 workers, according to the International Labour Organization’s (ILO) 2008 statistics. Each year, workers face the many hazards common to construction sites, risking their health and even their lives for their jobs.

Employers and contractors face delays and additional costs each time an accident occurs. These are reasons why construction site safety is crucial in preventing accidents from happening in the first place.

A well thought-out construction safety program can go a long way in minimizing, if not eliminating completely, the occurrence of workplace injuries. Here are some general tips for making your construction site a safer place to work.

Safety training for construction workers

Knowledge is power. It’s essential for every worker to go through a safety training program to learn the basics of construction site safety. While every construction site is different, some general principles of safety should be observed. Specialized jobs such as welding, machine operations, and others will need specialized training geared towards safety practices for these types of work.

Training is especially critical for new and young workers. Most of the time, these workers that are hired per project and have no experience working in a construction site. Going through safety videos and demos will give them, at least, an idea of what to expect and the correct practices that promote safety in a jobsite.

Personal Protective Equipment

The employer or contractor is obligated to provide reliable PPE or Personal Protective Equipment for their workers. Hard hats, safety glasses, and proper work clothes should be mandatory in every site. Management should be open to workers’ request for PPE and regular safety inspection should be implemented.

Specialized jobs need specialized PPE. If the worker is working at great heights, they would need safety harnesses and lanyards. Welders should have safety gloves and a face shield designed for welders. Workers working with jack hammers and other loud equipment should be given ear protection equipment, such as plugs or earmuffs.

Cleaning and organizing work areas

According to a British Columbia construction safety statistic, falls account for majority of the workplace injuries for construction. This number holds true for most of Canada and the US. Slips, trips, and falls are identified as being the most common cause of accidents in construction sites.

It’s unfortunate as these injuries are mostly preventable just by observing simple practices such as organizing tools, equipment, and supplies in their proper storage when not in use. Clearing up work areas of debris and materials will go a long way in promoting safer work areas for construction workers.

Identifying and blocking off hazard areas

Only authorized personnel with the proper training and personal protective equipment should be allowed in hazardous areas such as ledges, confined space areas, scaffolding, etc. Limiting the workers’ access prevents unnecessary accidents especially in sensitive areas where specialized equipment and training is needed for work.

Practical solutions such as installing bold and readable safety signs are necessary for workers to be aware of construction site safety hazards and safety policies being implemented. Installing barriers with highly-visible warning markers discourages unauthorized entry to these hazardous locations.

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