Archives for September 2013

Winter Safety Tips: Prevent Slips, Trips and Falls

Snow Removal

Winter is coming and with it, the potential for slips, trips, and falls. According to the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS), over 42,000 workplace injuries are due to fall accidents. The majority of these, or about 66%, are same level falls due to slips and trips. The inevitable winter ice and snow just makes a more hazardous environment that could increase the risk of injuries.

While Accuweather is predicting a mild winter for some areas, meteorologist for Canada, Brett Anderson, is also predicting a “colder than normal” winter season for the Rocky Mountains and Prairies. Whatever the case maybe, Canadians will have snow and ice to deal with at home and at work.

Prevent slips, trips, and falls this winter season. Keep these safety tips in mind while navigating through the snow and ice:

General Tips for Surviving Winter

  • Make a workplace safety program for the winter – Create an action plan customized for winter hazards. This should contain helpful information for workers on how to prepare for winter conditions around their facility.
  • Keep walkways clear. Remove hazards immediately such as water on floors and stairs, and snow on sidewalks.
  • Mark hazardous areas whenever necessary. Use temporary signs, cones, barricades, or floor stand signs to warn workers passing by.
  • Select footwear with appropriate traction. You may also wear removable ice cleats when walking outdoors. Just remember to remove them indoors.

Snow Removal EquipmentTips for Snow Removal

  • Clear off the heavy snow with a shovel. For best results, use a specialized snow shovel.
  • Sweep off the leftover snow.
  • Apply eco-friendly chemical de-icer or ice melter to keep the ice from forming longer.

Tips for Walking Safely in the Wintertime

  • Wear footwear with heavy treads for increased traction.
  • Make yourself visible to drivers by wearing brightly colored jackets or clothes.
  • Consider wearing sunglasses to enable you to see through the bright snow reflection.
  • Keep your hands out ready to steady yourself in case of slips.
  • Look ahead where you’re going and anticipate obstacles like uneven ground and ice or puddles.
  • Avoid carrying heavy loads that may tip your balance.
  • Test slippery areas by tapping a foot before walking.
  • Walk slowly and in small shuffling steps to prevent slipping.
  • Walk along the grassy edges for maximum traction if the walkway is covered in ice.

Getting through the winter season without suffering a slip, trip or fall is not a difficult feat with the right preparation and presence of mind. Just remember that safety should always be the top priority in every season, all the time.

 

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First Aid Kits for the Canadian Workplace

Everyday, workers face various hazards in the workplace. Even with all the precautionary measures in place to prevent accidents, you have to accept the fact that they do happen. Are you ready to respond in the event of a medical emergency? Do you have your first aid kit?

First aid kits and the skills of your first aid attendants could mean life or death in extreme situations. It could also mean the difference between a minor injury and major complications. It’s this understanding of how critical occupational first aid kits are, that prompted Canada’s implementation of new regulations called the Workers’ Compensation Act or the Occupational Health & Safety Act.

Details of the regulation differ from province to province but the aim is the same. The law ensures that workers receive immediate care in case of workplace injury or illness. At minimum, the workplace should have:

  • Appropriate first aid kits with complete medical supplies as stated by the province’s regulations
  • Well-trained and competent first aid attendants available to respond at all times
  • Disseminated information on first aid procedures

Other provisions may include:

  • First aid signage
  • Reporting of workplace accidents
  • Emergency transport or ambulance

First aid requirements vary but should be based on the following:

  • Number of employees or workers per shift
  • Types of workplace hazards expected
  • Availability of professional medical facilities (i.e. clinics and hospitals)

Contents of a Basic First Aid Kit

A first aid kit for work differs significantly from what you have at home. According to British Columbia’s Work Safe BC website, a basic workplace first aid kit should be stored in a dry environment and easily accessible to the workers. A waterproof container is recommended.

First Aid Kit Infographic

Check your province’s local requirements for first aid kits, training programs, procedures and more to ensure complete compliance to government regulations. Here’s a list of official government sites that specifiy the regulations for workplace first aid kits.

Canada – Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety

Alberta – Alberta Human Services

British Columbia – Work Safe BC

Manitoba – Safe Work

New Brunswick – Government of New Brunswick Site

Newfoundland – Newfoundland and Labrador House of Assembly

Northwest Territories and Nunavut – Worker’s Safety & Compensation Commission

Nova Scotia – Government of Nova Scotia Site

Ontario – Workplace Safety and Insurance Board

Prince Edward Island – Worker’s Compensation Board of PEI

Quebec – Publications Quebec

Saskatchewan – Government of Saskatchewan

Yukon – Yukon Workers’ Compensation Health and Safety Board

 

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Respirators at Work

RespiratorsIt was the coughing and wheezing that alerted Marcel Lemire, a veteran of marathons and a hockey player, that something was wrong with his breathing. He was a 40-something healthy and active person who didn’t smoke but all of a sudden, his lungs were in trouble. His diagnosis? Occupational asthma. His personal story featured in The Lung Association’s website  illustrates just how serious work-related respiratory diseases are.

Each workplace is different and each one has its own set of occupational hazards such as respiratory health hazards. In Marcel Lemire’s case, his work at a dairy farm in Manitoba involved chemical mists sprayed on containers for sanitation. Without proper ventilation and PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) such as respirators, he inadvertently and presumably inhaled some of these mists while working. After 17 years, it finally took a toll on his lungs.

Respiratory diseases caused by work-related hazards are preventable with proper PPE. The CDC (Centers for Disease Control) has a webpage dedicated to useful resources that underline the importance of respiratory PPE in the workplace.

Types of Respirators

Not all respirators are made equal. Different respirators are recommended for different jobs. While there are general purpose respirators and masks for a variety of work conditions, you have to be sure you are choosing the right respirator for your specific task and work site.

Escape Respirators – This type of respirator should only be used in case of emergency. It was designed to prevent exposure to harmful gasses and other dangerous chemical particulates. It is not recommended for prolonged use as it only provides protection for under an hour.

Particulate Respirators – These respirators are the most practical and safe option for workers. Particulate respirators are cost-efficient and can be used for extended periods. However, care must be observed in choosing the right filter for the expected particulates workers may be exposed to. Regular cleaning and replacing of filters are needed to keep the respirators in good working condition.Particulate Respirators

There are 3 main classes of respirators which are:

N Series (Non- Oil Resistant Filters) – Filters out oil-free particulates such as pollen, ordinary dust, oil-free aerosols, etc.

R Series (Oil-Resistant Filters) – R Series filters are designed to filter out airborne particles that may contain oil particles. Use a filter for up to 8 hours or 1 continuous shift only.

P Series (Oil-Proof Filters) – These are designed to reduce exposure to particulates including oil-based aerosols by 95% to 99.97%. While these filters can generally be used for more than one shift, you have to confirm the service life of the filter with the manufacturer.

All N, P, and R series come in ratings of 95, 99, and 100. The ratings indicate the filter efficiency from 95%, 99%, up to 99.97%.

Gas Masks – Gas masks with cartridges not only filter, they also purify the air that you breathe in. These special respirators are recommended when a worker is in need of higher level of protection from toxic gases, biohazards, and other hazards that are particularly dangerous to the health of the workers.

Air Purifying Respirators (APRs) – These supplied air respirators combine chemical cartridges with filters to protect you against specific types of airborne contaminants such as mercury vapours, organic vapours, acid gas and so on. A variation of this type of respirator is the PAPR or the Powered Air-Purifying Respirator.

Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus (SCBA) – SCBA devices allow workers to work in oxygen-deficient environments such as underwater or underground. Fire fighters and other rescue workers use SCBA to enable them to enter burning buildings or confined spaces where dangerous fumes may be present.

Respirator Regulations

In the United States, regulations for testing, labelling, and use of respirators are strictly implemented by a variety of government agencies like NIOSH (National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health), OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration), and the CDC. Canadian standards for respiratory protection are outlined in CSA (Canadian Standard Association) Standard Z94.4-11. Each of the provinces may also have additional regulations to protect their workers.

Health and safety should never be taken for granted. If only the dairy farm where Marcel Lemire worked implemented reasonable safety precautions and provided PPE and better ventilation, he would not have suffered the loss of 26 percent of his lung capacity. His quality of life would not have been affected. Mr. Lemire would’ve completed his 20th or so marathon and still be playing hockey.

 

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What You Should Know About Hearing Protection

Workers usually remember to put on safety glasses when working on job sites with potential eye hazards but the ear protection is often neglected or taken for granted. Working in noisy environments for long hours has been proven to be dangerous for sensitive ears. There are health consequences that go beyond annoyance. Workers, overtime, may develop temporary or even permanent hearing loss. Tinnitus is another hearing condition characterized by persistent ringing noise. These health issues are serious and could affect your work, not to mention your quality of life.

Some workplaces may reduce the noise by dealing with the sources of the noise itself such as inefficient machinery, malfunctioning motors, and so on. But there is only so much you can do to reduce the cause of the noise in a dynamic workplace environment. As part of your occupational health and safety program, providing proper hearing protection may be the best way to prevent hearing problems for your workers.

Noise Levels in the Workplace

Different tools and machineries emit different levels of noise that can be measured in decibels or dB. While a quiet office or a library, on the average, may only have 40 dB of noise, a machine shop or factory may produce noise as much as 100 dB or more. In this case, workers need to be equipped with earmuffs, earplugs or both to reduce the noise levels and protect their ears. Jet engines or airplanes taking off produce such a dangerous level of noise, exposure must be limited to reduce the risk of hearing loss.

Guidelines for Noise Exposure

Standards are set to limit the safe and permissible exposure time to different noise levels. According to NIOSH (National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health) and CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), it’s not safe to expose workers to 85dB noise for more than 8 hours. A 115 dB level of noise is not safe all for the naked ears.

Always check for the NRR or Noise Reduction Rate when choosing your ear protection – the higher the NRR, the better. It’s recommended that you de-rate the NRR on the label though to compensate for fit that factors in how efficiently the earplugs or earmuffs can protect the ears.

  • Earmuffs – Subtract 25 % from the listed NRR
  • Formable Earplugs – Subtract 50% from the listed NRR
  • All other Earplugs – Subtract 70% from the listed NRR

Maximum Protection Provided by Non-Continuous Use of Hearing protection

For maximum protection, don’t remove your hearing protection while in the noisy workplace. The percentage of usage greatly affects the protection rate of the earplugs or earmuffs. If you reduce usage to 50%, your protection level decreases ten times. In the example illustrated below, an ear protection meant to reduce noise by 30 dB will fall drastically to only 3 dB of protection if worn half the time.

Hearing Protection Inforgraphic

Hearing loss is very preventable with the right ear protection. Don’t wait for your hearing to deteriorate before donning earplugs or earmuffs. The sense of hearing is just as precious as the sense of sight. It’s only when hearing is lost do you realize just how much.

 

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