Archives for August 2013

Construction Safety Tips: Choosing Safety Vests

Safety VestsA construction site is a workplace full of hazards. In fact, according to the 2008 survey of work-related injuries by ILO (International Labour Organization), the construction industry has the highest rate at 24.5 per 1000 workers. It’s no wonder safety is prioritized in this industry.

One way of ensuring safety is by wearing the correct PPE or Personal Protective Equipment which includes safety vests and other highly-visible safety apparels.

Why is visibility important in a construction site? Just like a biker or a traffic enforcer needs to wear reflective clothes to make them visible to motorists, construction workers need to be visible to each other in order to avoid accidents such as a crane dumping its load over someone’s head, or a truck running over a pedestrian worker.

Protective Clothing Standards

The United States’ ANSI (American National Standards Institute) came up with standard classifications that specify what types of vests should be worn where. In Canada, the CSA (Canadian Standards Association) established their own guidelines regarding safety vests. It can be found on the CSA Z96-09 standard entitled “Highly-Visible Safety Apparel. CSA Z96.1 specifies how to select the correct protective clothing according to use and the proper maintenance of these safety apparels.

Choosing the Right Protective Clothing

What should you consider when selecting the proper safety vests?

Aim for the Right Fit

It’s important to get the right sized vests that will fit your frame. Although most of the safety vests may come in one size, these may be adjusted to fit more securely to your body. Make sure that no extra hanging straps or other attachments are left unsecured and dangling as this could become entangled with machinery or ensnared with other materials in the construction site.

Choose the Appropriate Material

Daytime safety wear differs from night time wear in the materials used. Fluorescent materials are used mainly for the day time as it offers the best visibility. Reflective materials, on the other hand, are best used in the night time or low light conditions as it bounces back light off its surface to make the wearer visible to oncoming motorists or other workers.

Required Design

Traffic Vests

Make sure that the design of the safety vests is compliant with the CSA standards.  Criteria includes a distinctive “X”pattern on the back, front vertical stripes from shoulder to waist, and a horizontal stripe on the waist. Variations on the design are dependent on the class of safety apparel. The colours should be compliant to the CSA standards which are yellow-green, orange-red, red, and orange.

Don’t take chances with your workers lives. Make sure their PPEs including their safety vests comply with government standards and are made of high quality materials. Your workers deserve the best safety gears you can provide.



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Hearing Protection Myths – Busted

EarmuffsTemporary or permanent occupational hearing loss is a risk you might not be willing to take. It can alter what could have been a relaxing TV night into a noise fest for your neighbors. Good thing state laws require personal protective equipment for specific workplace hazards. But as regulations get tighter, excuses to loosen them come up and become ideas believed to be correct—except they’re not.

Here are some common schools of thought in hearing protection that turn out to be myths and misconceptions:

#1: Wearing hearing protection device (HPD) creates communication problems.

Do you ever notice how sunglasses reduce excess glare to improve your vision in broad daylight? Ear protection does the same thing to ambient noise of more than 85 dB(A). It allows you to hear speech more clearly by trimming down overall noise level which otherwise distorts specific sounds. This effect, however, is more likely to be evident for people who have normal hearing and are used to wearing ear protection.

#2: Earmuffs give better noise protection than ear plugs.

This misconception must have arisen from a weak commitment to wear ear protection. Earmuffs may score higher in terms of durability and convenience. Its head- and neckband design makes constant use and removal a breeze. But with good noise reduction rating (NRR) and proper fitting, ear plugs can outperform earmuffs in many cases. When correctly inserted into the ear canal, the affordable, commonly disposable HPD can prevent noise leak better than its bulky, more expensive brother—proving that bigger isn’t always better. So depending on how you look at it, ear plugs are never far behind.

#3: An ear protection device’s real-world performance is half its labeled NRR.

De-rating hearing protectors is recommended only if the manufacturer’s subject-fit data are not available. In theory, the data show estimates of an HPD’s attenuation in the real world. If this information is supplied, cutting the noise reduction rating in half or any percentage is not the most prudent way to go. It can result in over-protection, blocking off even necessary sounds such as alarms. So before you use that math wizard skills and discount that NRR, learn and teach first how to properly wear HPDs for protection over comfort.

#4: It’s impossible to wear earmuffs over protective eyewear without compromising attenuation.

An earmuff’s performance lies on its cushioned ear cups; the tighter they are sealed against the head, the better. If there is a need to wear safety eyewear with earmuffs, make sure the frame thickness doesn’t go beyond 2mm. Compared against 3mm and 6mm thick frames (which can reduce NRR value by about 2 to 5 dB), thin frames have very little to no effect on attenuation.

Earplugs#5: Reusable or disposable, all ear plugs are the same.

“A rose by any other name would smell as sweet,” you say? Well, a reused pair of disposable ear plugs would smell rather disgusting. And since they are commonly made of foam, they easily wear out and collect dirt after washing. Reusable ear plugs, on the other hand, are made of rubber or plastic. However, they are mostly preformed or pre-molded, limiting its effectiveness by how well they fit inside the ear canal. In this case, expandable foam ear plugs do the trick.


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Back To School Safety Tips: Safe School Zones

Back to School

A student essentially has one job – go to school and get good grades. But how can you make sure they get to their “workplace” safely? What are basic back to school safety tips to consider?

Mind school zone safety signs
The most vulnerable school children are aged 5 to 14 years old. They are found to be the most at-risk for pedestrian-related injuries and fatalities. As care-free children, they are often unaware of their surroundings until it’s too late. School zone signs are important to alert drivers of school zones and the presence of children in general. Some of these signs are:

Observe posted speed limits
Slow down when nearing school zones, playgrounds, and pedestrian crossings. Children might be out and about, crossing the street, walking or bicycling without looking carefully at the street. As the responsible adult, it’s your duty to look out for children who may be in danger of getting hit by your vehicle.

Avoid overtaking other vehicles near school zones
You might not see crossing children that are hidden from view by another vehicle and the children might not see your car. It’s especially dangerous to pass a school bus when the red signal lights are flashing. An alighting student might be crossing in your direction.

Stop and wait for loading and unloading school buses
Be patient when driving behind school buses. Stop your vehicle and wait for the children to pass whether alighting or boarding.

Follow the crossing guard’s instructions Crosswalk Safety
Respect the crossing guard guiding the children crossing the street. Observe their STOP sign even if it contradicts the traffic light signals as the children would almost always trust the crossing guard to lead them to safety.

Teach children about traffic rules
There’s no better way to protect the children than to arm them with the right knowledge about traffic safety. The school and the parents should take the time to go over traffic safety dos and don’ts with the kids early on to make them aware of the hazards of the street so they can avoid accidents.

Let’s all make this year’s back to school days brighter with safer school zones for children and teens. Observe these simple back to school tips for the kids to enjoy their school year healthy and worry-free.



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4 Tips to Organize Your Warehouse


The warehouse is one of the most important parts of your business. Warehouse and inventory management can make or break your whole enterprise as it affects production, sales, and distribution among others. A poorly maintained warehouse could lead to wastage that could cost a lot of money while a well-oiled machine of a warehouse can lead to increase in profits for the business.

Maintaining and organizing a warehouse may not be as daunting as you think. All it takes is a few pointers to follow and you’ll be on your way to a systematized and organized inventory process.

Sort your items – What’s the first rule of organization? Get rid of the clutter.
Just like organizing a home, you need to sort which item stays or goes. Remove the garbage, items you don’t need, and unwanted inventory. Convert the stale inventory to cash through discounted sale or donate the useful items to charity.

Label your inventory – Identify your items.
Use different coloured tags and labels to identify your inventory. Furthermore, you can use a software inventory system for large warehouses to easily manage large amount of stocks. A variety of stickers and labels are available on the market specifically for inventory management.

Post safety warehouse signs – Make your warehouse a safe for your workers.
Safety signs keep workers aware of hazards, required PPEs (Personal Protective Equipment), and other safety precautions. As Canada can be considered as a multicultural society, it’s important to have bilingual safety signs and signs with universally-recognizable graphics to bridge any language barrier.

Manage your warehouse traffic – Traffic signs are not just for roads and highways.
Prevent accidents in your warehouse facility with aisle marking, forklift safety signs, pole signs, and more. Guide workers and forklift drivers around your facility with aisle markings like reflective marking tapes that’s essential especially in case of black outs and low light conditions. Custom aisle markers are also available to identify different aisles that hold different items or inventory.

Hanging pole signs warn drivers of vertical clearance to avoid accidents with trucks and forklifts. Install them on your warehouse parking entrance or shipping bay.

Managing your warehouse takes a bit of time and effort but the improvement in efficiency cannot be discounted. The more efficient your warehouse becomes, the less you need to hire extra workers which results to savings on overhead costs. Customize your warehouse according to your business and watch your production grow.



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Protection For Eyes’ Sake

Eye Protection

Workers on duty make up more than thirty five per cent of roughly 720,000 Canadians who sustain eye injuries every year. But just when you think this figure makes it “dime a dozen,” consider the loss in production time and financial damage it brings — or, better yet, the toll of temporary or permanent vision loss on the employee’s life.

Canadian National Institute for the Blind (CNIB) reports that common eye hazards at work are flying or falling objects, airborne particles, welding and cutting, and chemical handling. These elements and activities can cause black eye, corneal abrasion and laceration, welder’s flash, and burns and splashes respectively. But, really, what industrial workplace doesn’t have dangers?

Putting emphasis on and practicing safety measures is the key. Failure of doing so is a contributing factor in any occupational injury.

Identify potential eye hazards

For starters, scrupulous assessment of the workplace is essential in identifying potential eye hazards and what is needed to avert such debilitating incidents. The risks posed by large machinery, shifting materials, falling debris, and even workers nearby shouldn’t be missed.

Eliminate eye hazards

Get to the bottom of potential dangers and eliminate it. Otherwise, clearing off or shielding necessary areas can minimize eye hazards. Moreover, make sure tools are in perfect working condition and that they are used and operated only by trained workers.

Provide the right eye protection

If complete elimination of hazards is not possible, select and use proper eye protection that meets or exceeds CAS (Canadian Standards Association) Z94.3 standard or marked with “ANSI Z87.1”. Keep in mind, however, that specific eye hazard calls for specific eye protection.

  1. Safety Glasses are the most common kind of protective eyewear that often looks like streetwear glasses. They come with impact- and shatter-resistant lenses and frames. Although they prevent particles and shards from striking the eye, their gaps at the sides, top and bottom allow dusts and chemical splashes and vapors to seep through. Perhaps for this reason, safety goggles are made.
  1. Safety Goggles’ impact-resistant design seals the eye area, providing the eyes with maximum protection from particulates and chemical splashes. Goggles have three forms: directly vented goggles for direct airflow, indirectly vented goggles for airflow but with covered vent, and non-vented goggles for complete dust and vapor protection (but should not be mistaken for gas-proof goggles).

How one perceives the world largely lies in his eyesight. And no dollar figure can make up for missing out on life when vision is lost. So leave no room for hazards to poke you in the eye. Protect your eyes by identifying hazards, eliminating them at the source, and gearing up with safety procedures and protective equipment.



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Protecting Company Assets with Seals

Security Seals

Keep sensitive and important items safe from theft and tampering with tamper evident adhesive seals. Security seals are an economical solution to keep your shipping containers safe. These seals are designed to show evidence of accidental or deliberate theft, tampering, and contamination. They are broken down into certain categories depending on the type of seals, level of protection, and items that needs to be secured. The most commonly used security tools for protecting your goods are tamper evident adhesive seals and security seals. Each has been designed with a specific function, but both are able to provide some level of security against unwanted elements.

Here are the most common uses for adhesive and security seals:

  • Company assets
  • Electronic goods
  • Shipping containers
  • Boxes and packages
  • Bottles and food items

Tamper evident self-adhesive seals may not stop tampering all together, but they are made to show evidence of tampering. Here’s an example:

One employer was surprised to discover that he was losing important company assets such as computers, tools, and equipment on a regular basis. Since none of them had any adhesive seals to identify them, they were never found and the culprits were never caught. Now imagine the same scenario, but this time the employer was wise enough to use tamper evident label seals on all of his equipment. These seals were designed to break into small pieces when someone tries to remove them to clearly indicate signs of tampering while others come with barcodes and serial number which makes them easy to trace. This significantly reduces the incident of lost or stolen items and even provides evidence against the thieves. By using tamper evident seals, the employer has taken a significant step to ensure the safety and security of his assets from both internal and external threats.

The concept behind tamper evident label seals is fairly simple. Most of these seals are destructible which means that when someone tries to remove them, they break up and leave small pieces behind. Another popular type of seal reveals the word “VOID” when the seal is removed from the item. Most companies customize their own self-adhesive seals by adding their logo to properly mark and track their assets.

Although they can’t fully keep thieves out, tamper evident seals:

  • Discourage tampering and theft.
  • Provide a way to track items for inventory and record keeping.
  • Preserve the integrity of items especially during shipping.

Remember that in the end, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Lost property can cost you and your company millions and the best way to protect your assets are with tamper evident adhesive seals.



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Conveyor Accident Stories: What’s Gone Wrong?

Conveyor Belt Safety

From food processing and bottling plants, to automotive manufacturing and construction sites, conveyor belts today are like veins to many industrial units’ anatomy. They efficiently transport materials and goods within the site in almost the same manner nutrients are distributed throughout the body. But just like when blood vessels are pushed to a dangerous extent and fail to keep up with excessive intake, the increase of demand for this technology and human-machine interaction gives rise to occupational safety risks.

Between 2005 and 2008, Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) reported 48 serious conveyor-related injuries in Ontario that cost an average of 68 workdays and $7.3 million. In that same period, the Ministry of Labour recorded two (2) fatalities. These accidents mostly occurred during cleaning, maintenance on a moving conveyor, recovery of a jammed article, and normal production activities like sorting and packing.

But what could have have gone wrong that turned an otherwise ordinary workday into a horror story?

Last June, an 18-year-old Lavington worker got caught in a conveyor belt and was later pronounced dead.  In 2011, a meat processing plant employee in Toronto became injured after his arm was pulled into still-moving conveyor cogwheels. A 31-year-old worker in Alberta was pulled into conveyor drum pulleys and sustained serious injuries in that same year.

What did these victims have in common? They were all cleaning a conveyor one way or another.

Being an essential machine for industrial production, it’s no surprise that the need to keep it in optimum condition poses some conveyor hazards. Lifting of guards to provide better access for cleaning, dismissing basic lockout procedures, or rashly reaching into a running belt to remove a caught item are conveyor safety no-no’s but are unwittingly committed even in the presence of safety labels. Come up with a long list of reasons behind these slip-ups, but one can argue that it’s all a gap in training and constant awareness.

Employers must not throw workers into the water and expect them to swim immediately. It’s important for every employee working with and around conveyor systems, especially those who clean and maintain it, to undergo training using industry standards on conveyor safety. Site-specific refresher sessions conducted by experienced supervisors and appropriate safety signs and posters around the workplace play a big role in keeping everyone mindful of safety procedures.

Stepping up to the plate doesn’t stop there.

In 2010, a tubular steel manufacturer in Ontario pleaded guilty and paid a hefty sum of $140,000 for not securing conveyor guards which could have prevented a bundle of tubes from striking one of their workers. In Carberry, Manitoba, a business also pleaded guilty and was fined $50,000 in 2012 after a 15-year-old boy straddled a moving conveyor belt, fell and got pulled under the metal brace resulting in bone fractures and internal injuries. Workplace Safety and Health “found there was no safe way for workers to cross the belt.”

Conveyor guards didn’t get their name for nothing. It is designed to prevent transported objects from falling and to protect people from pinch points and the objects themselves, making it an imperative safety device. And if the conveyor system occupies a significantly large space, constructing a throughway that may run along or cross over or under the belt is also a must.

Industrial resources like conveyors are great tools that allow for faster and more efficient production. However, informed care must be taken to prevent accidents that may harm the operators and workers in its vicinity. After all, a company is only as strong as its greatest assets — people.



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Summer Safety Tips: Bug and Sun Burn Protection

Summer in Canada is a time for fun outdoor activities. But this is also a time when workers, especially outdoor workers in construction, mining, traffic, etc., have to contend with summer hazards, namely: bugs and sun burns.

Bugs PreventionProtection from Bug Bites
Bugs such as mosquitoes and ticks are not just annoying; they are also disease-carrying hazards for workers. Bug prevention should be a part of your summer safety program. Fortunately, preventing bug bites can be as simple as following these summer safety tips:

Apply insect repellent – There are many types of insect repellent. What you should look out for are the natural ingredients contained in the product that are safe for the skin and won’t cause irritation. Another factor is the hours of protection each product offers. Insect repellent comes in 3 hours to 8 hours of protection. Remember to re-apply repellent if you’ll be working outside for a longer period.

Wear the right clothes – Wear long-sleeved shirts and pants when working outside especially in wooded areas. Tuck your pants into your shoes or socks to prevent crawling insects from getting inside. You can even apply special insect repellent on your clothes to keep the bugs out. Avoid brightly coloured clothes that are attractive to bees and other insects.

Destroy mosquito breeding grounds – Remove stagnant water in your work areas. These stagnant waters are often used by mosquitoes as breeding grounds for their young. Prevent these bugs from multiplying by getting rid of their nursing areas.

Protection from Sun BurnsSun Burn
Working under the heat of the sun for hours is not safe for anyone. Skin diseases from simple sun burns to skin cancer may result due to over exposure to hazardous UV rays. Here are a few ideas for protecting your skin while working under the summer sun:

Apply sunscreen protection – Protect your skin from both UVA and UVB rays from the sun. Both UV radiations pose dangers to the skin from premature aging to skin cancer. Choose a sunscreen with higher SPF (Sun Protection Factor) if you expect to be working under the sun for a long time. SPF refers to the amount of time before the UVB rays reddens the skin, the more the SPF, the better.

Wear protective clothing – Wear a hat and cover your arms and legs to prevent sun exposure. Choose natural fabrics that allow air circulation such as cotton. Protect your eyes from the harsh glare with tinted safety glasses or UV-protected sunglasses.

Re-hydrate – During summer, you tend to sweat a lot and this causes fluid loss. You need re-hydrate by drinking lots of water. Avoid caffeine and alcohol as these liquids may cause dehydration.

Include these tips on your summer workplace safety program and you’ll be on your way to a hassle-free summer work season.


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Safety Tips: Mapping A Way Out of Bad Translation

Bilingual Safety Sign

It’s not always the case that businesses need to have their documents and materials written in more than one language. But in a country like Canada where diversity of cultures is one of its strong suits, there’s a need to provide safe and fair working environment for the multicultural workforce.

Don’t Get Lost In Translation

More than the embarrassment of getting scoffed at by native speakers or perfect bilinguals, occupational accidents caused by ambiguity and mistranslation can do your business and employees harm. If you want to improve safety in your multilingual workplace, here are some things you may want to consider:

  1. One way to know if the safety materials you’re getting are accurately translated is if they are officially recognized by regulatory bodies. Organizations like CSA (Canadian Standards Association) and CCOHS (Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety) certify product performance and regulate worker safety respectively, both in English and French.
  2. Workplace safety is too important to be entrusted to machine-translation engines. A wise move would be using a certified interpreter or hiring a bilingual supervisor to ensure that safety procedures and policies are cascaded in a language clearly understood by your workforce.
  3. The use of pictograms and images in safety manuals or policy and procedure documents reinforces the message, enabling effective communication of essential information to multicultural human resources. Even if a worker speaks a different language, the critical safety message is still understandable.
  4. Training employees for English or French (or other languages in the workplace) as a Second Language will not only improve employee engagement, jobsite safety and productivity; it will also help develop their confidence and cognitive skills of which your business can reap the benefits.

Clear and accurate translated materials are necessary for non-native or non-fluent speakers to be more aware of important information that could save their lives. Chalk up prompt emergency response and workplace accident aversion to experts, training and bilingual safety signs, so your staff won’t have to worry finding their way out of bad translation again.


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