Archives for December 2013

Forklift Safety: Why Forklift Training Matters

600x250

Forklifts are an integral part of industrial work. These vehicles are instrumental in moving, lifting, carrying and delivering load to any point in a facility or site efficiently and safely – that is, if proper equipment is being used correctly.

A forklift is an extremely powerful machine, and it doesn’t take much for damage, injury, or loss of life to occur. With forklift fatalities occurring in almost every industry that deals with manufacturing, construction, mining, or transportation of materials, safety is and should be top priority.

Forklift safety tools such as safety posters and forklift accessories are helpful but only supplemental. A majority of these forklift accidents could have been prevented with proper forklift training, or just simply better training. This is why forklift training and certification is crucial to workplace safety.

Forklift training not only prevents accidents and injuries from happening, they can also benefit your company and the bottom line as well. Here are six more reasons why you should start your forklift training at work today:

It saves time. A trained and skilled operator will know what to do when using a forklift. This confidence from their training will mean they can speed up their work pace and can move heavy inventory faster. This saves time, increases productivity and maximizes the work done per man-hour.

It reduces risks. Forklift training teaches operators on how to safely navigate and operate a forklift, what dangers may arise, and what actions to take if any hazards come up. An untrained operator will not know these things, putting him or her at a higher risk for forklift accidents.

It lowers inventory loss. Inventory can get lost or damage from wrong handling when a  forklift driver does not know how to safely operate the equipment. That is already lost money for your company. It may not seem much, but in the long run, these accumulated loss will be higher compared to the cost of getting your operators trained.

300x300It contributes to machine maintenance. Workers who are trained in forklift handling are also educated on the proper way to take care and maintain the equipment. This includes knowing how to re-fill battery fluid and perform safety and equipment checks, which will in turn reduce costs on equipment repair and service. This will ensure that the machine will always be running at top form, with little or no risks of breakdown during important operation.

It increases productivity. Trained forklift operators will know how to operate the machine properly, which means they will be more efficient and productive. This increases the overall output of your company which can help you stay competitive and stand out from the rest. With more productivity, you can have the option of expanding your business and increasing your profit even further.  

It lessens the risk of machine damage. Repair for damaged forklifts can cost your company a lot of money.  A trained operator will ensure that the machines will not be broken due to mishandling.

Forklift training is vital for any company that puts priority on safety in the workplace. Employers and facility managers such as yourself should ensure all your employees receive adequate training and are aware of these forklift safety do’s and don’ts. Lastly, you need to make sure that your forklift operators are fully licensed and trained to do their jobs safely and effectively.

###

Connect with Maria Marnelli G. Medina on Google+

Stanchions: For Effective Crowd & Traffic Control

600x250_origlargeCrowd and traffic control is a must for any site that expects a lot of traffic from people or vehicles. Even with only a few users of the area, having a controlled space can make your place a whole lot easier to manage. It’s time to start making your queue and crowd management more efficient with crowd control equipment.

Traffic Control Persons (TCP), in particular, are required to provide some form of regulation on traffic flow in the facilities they manage. Let’s take a page out of their books and discuss one of the most common crowd control tools they use: stanchions.

A stanchion is the easiest solution to all your traffic and crowd control problems. These crowd control barriers direct guests and motorists to where they need to go and block areas off so people and vehicles cannot enter. This effective crowd controller also helps avoid incidents of stampedes or other crowd-related deadly mishaps from happening.

Stanchions are commonly used for large events, concerts, malls, marketplaces,  sporting events, and anywhere a large number of people gather. They are also utilized for site security in construction sites and in onsite traffic management.

Stanchions are available in many forms, each with specific applications. Here are the five types of stanchions you need to know:

Ropes and Poles

This is the most traditional and commonly used stanchion. You can spot them indoors or outdoors in music halls, movie theatres, museums, amusements parks, and even on the Red Carpet. These classic rope-and-post barrier provide an elegant feel to queuing and crowd control. Use this to direct traffic, maintain order, and block-off no access areas effectively in a stylish manner.

Retractable Belt Stanchion

Think of retractable belt stanchions as the star of the crowd control industry. These modern, multipurpose retractable belt stanchions offer versatility to queue management since they can easily expand and retract to adjust to the size and flow of the crowd.  Belted stanchions are available in a variety of finishes. You can even customize the belts with your own logos, graphics, or messages to truly make it your own. They are also available in different configurations such as  single-belted, double-belted, and low-level “exhibit height” stanchions that are used to block-off sensitive exhibits without obstructing the display.

Wall-Mounted Belts

These are ideal for areas where you don’t want to take up valuable floor space. These belt barriers effectively restrict access to aisles, hallways, corridors, and gangways with ease. It features a slow-retract mechanism for safety and can be customized to feature your own message, logo or graphics. You can use them solo or combined with other posts, this provides an opportunity to reduce costs by cutting down on security personnel who do the same job!

300x450Outdoor Utility Stanchions

As the name implies, the design and material for this type is used outside. These utility stanchion can withstand even the harshest weather conditions, making them perfect for outdoor events , construction work, recreation parks, and school yards. These high-visibility crowd barriers are the practical and economical solution for any outdoor crowd control need.

Stainless Steel Posts

Use these to create boundaries for crowd management and thresholds – be it indoors or outdoors. These durable crowd barriers are used to control aggressive crowds, block access, prevent theft, and stop trespassing. They are also ideal for use in zoos to prevent animals from wandering away.

Before selecting stanchions for your needs, you need to answer two important questions. First, “How many people are in the crowd?,” and second, “What areas are accessible and restricted?” This will help you in determining what kind of stanchions will you need for your facility. Remember as with any location, safety should be top priority, and it is no different when managing a crowd.

###

Connect with Maria Marnelli G. Medina on Google+

Hand Carts: Your Ticket to Safer Material Handling

600x250Back injury is a common problem in the workplace. In British Columbia alone, almost one out of five Canadians suffer from some form of work-related back problem. These back injuries mostly result from lifting heavy or irregular-sized objects.

Workers loading and unloading cargo are exposed to serious threats of heavy objects, which could potentially fall on or hit them. If this happens, the cargo itself or the immediate surroundings could also be damaged.

Manual Material Handling (MMH) equipment such as hand trucks, carts and dollies can help prevent these mishaps. Even the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS) recommends these to prevent back injury. With these tools, workers can transport light or heavy loads faster, without the threat of back injuries and other accidents. While there is no hard and fast rule on when to use a utility cart or hand truck, common sense will dictate that a load too heavy or cumbersome to lift manually needs some form of MMH.

As with any equipment, you need to know how to use and maintain them properly to get the most out of them. There are safety guidelines on how to use your hand trucks and carts, especially in a factory or warehouse setting.

Here are some safety tips to help you in your material handling tasks:

  • Check if your MMH equipment is in good condition. Before using your dolly or cart for transporting, you need to ensure it is in good condition. Check if the cart handles are stable and if the wheels have proper air pressure. Flat tires do not roll so well, so make sure yours aren’t deflated. Otherwise, you won’t be able to move your cargo.
  • Make sure your cargo fits and is secure. Know the load capacity of your cart or truck. Trying to load your cart with small individual items or large unstable pieces isn’t just a daunting task; it can also cause the load to fall off and hurt you or make a mess. Put your small items in a container and secure your large items by bundling them up before transport. Use heavy-duty nylon belts and other cargo restraints to secure your load.
  • Load the heaviest item first.  Unless you want your smaller items to get crushed, the heaviest cargo should go to the bottom. A top-heavy cargo will tip over and hurt you or someone else. Make sure the load is evenly distributed on all wheels of your cart or dolly. Always follow the load capacity of your MMH and never overload.
  • Decide on which direction you are going before moving your cargo. Never pull a cart, dolly, or hand truck. Always push it when moving loads. Moving forward with your cart in front of you is more stable, but your vision is compromised by the cart. Going backward means you will be in front of the truck, but it’ll be more difficult for you to control the cart, and there is a greater chance for your truck to tip over or hit something. If your view is obstructed, ask a spotter to assist in guiding the load.
  •  Move at an appropriate pace. Speeding, rushing, or pushing too hard can cause your cargo to shift and become unstable, causing damage to the product or hurting you or someone else in the process.
  •  Know when it is time to use mechanical equipment instead. Never use your back when raising or lowering a load. Use mechanical or hydraulic lifting mechanisms when you need to move extremely heavy loads.

Learning how to safely move cargo and practicing the correct methods of transporting will help prevent back and muscle injuries. You also need to prepare yourself and your surroundings before performing any lifting or moving tasks by following these simple tips on MMH general practices. Being knowledgeable on the different material handling equipment will also help you determine which tool is best for the task at hand. Doing these things will ensure you and your workers can do your jobs safely and properly.

###

Connect with Maria Marnelli G. Medina on Google+

Safety Vests: Get To Know the Different Classes

250_375Visibility is an important part of job safety, especially if you work in industrial or construction sites. These jobs require you to perform tasks close to moving vehicles and equipment in different weather and light conditions. You need to be highly visible at all times to avoid accidents and injuries. Which is why for the Canadian workplace, wearing a safety vest is a must, and a legal requirement.

Safety vests are Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) designed to make the wearer more visible to others. These come in bright, neon coloured fabric and feature strips of reflective tape which reflect the light from headlights of moving vehicles. Workers who wear safety vests are easier to spot, even from a distance or in low light conditions. As a result, accidents are reduced since motorists and machinists can easily see the workers wearing the high-visibility vests.

When it comes to choosing the best safety vests, you can use this handy guide on choosing safety vests to help you in your decision. Aside from this, you also need to know the different classes of safety vests and their application so you can comply with the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS) regulations:

Class I

Class 1 vests provide minimal amount of bright and reflective material, usually in orange, yellow, and lime green. They are used for occupational activities with low traffic, meaning the worker must have ample distance from the approaching traffic. Vehicle speed should not exceed 25 mph, and the worker must have his full attention to approaching traffic. These vests are ideal for sidewalk maintenance workers, parking attendants, and shopping cart retrievers .

Class II

Class 2 safety vests are worn by people who need greater visibility in areas of high traffic, dangerous weather conditions, and complex backgrounds. People who work in construction, law enforcement, emergency response, and utility fields need to wear this type of safety vest.

Class 2 safety vests are worn over the top of uniforms or shirts and come in fluorescent orange, lime, or yellow. Several styles of class 2 vests are available including adjustable variants, illuminated, mesh, and even vests made of flame retardant material. Usually, the vest also displays the company or department logo for identification purposes.

Class III

Class 3 safety vests offer the highest level of visibility and are required to be worn by workers on federal road right-of-ways when exposed to traffic or construction. They must be worn by workers performing heavy-duty tasks in limited or no light conditions, in areas of higher traffic in excess of 50 mph, or in extreme weather conditions.

Class 3 safety vests provide visibility through the full range of body motions from a distance of at least 1,280 feet. Similar to the Class 2 vests, they can also be imprinted with a department or company name,  and come in fluorescent yellow, lime, or orange. You can choose from a variety of materials such as rubber, mesh, and  non-mesh. A variety of styles for these vests are available from the common jacket to even overcoats and sweatshirt like apparel.

Maintaining high visibility should be a priority. You need to make sure that you and your workers are wearing the correct safety vests for your specific tasks when applicable. Wearing a safety vest lets you avoid unnecessary accidents and keeps you and your workers safe, enabling you to do your jobs properly. Always make sure you are wearing the right protective clothing before performing any task. This can spell the difference between an accident-free work zone and an accident-prone work zone.

###

Connect with Maria Marnelli G. Medina on Google+

The Different WHMIS Chemical Classifications

The Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS) is Canada’s national workplace hazard communication standard. This legislation applies to all workers involved in manufacturing, or work with or are in proximity to controlled substances or products in their place of work. The WHMIS is a comprehensive plan that provides information on the safe use of hazardous materials. These safety information are delivered to the involved personnel by means of:

  • Cautionary labels found on the containers of controlled products
  • Providing material safety data sheets (MSDS) for each controlled product; and
  • Educating workers and providing site-specific training programs on hazardous substances

Exposure to hazardous substances can cause or contribute to various serious health issues such as dizziness, lung or kidney damage, cancer, sterility, burns, and rashes. Some hazardous materials are also safety hazards, and can cause fire or explosions. WHMIS was established to help prevent injuries, illnesses, deaths, medical costs, and fires caused by hazardous products. The end goal is to create a safer workplace by making sure you and your workers are knowledgeable about these hazards and have the proper tools to work safely.

WHMIS has established eight different classes to identify chemical hazards. Each class has a corresponding symbol for identification:

whmis_a (1)Class A (Compressed Gas)

Compressed gas is any gas placed under constant pressure or chilled, contained by a cylinder. A sudden release of high pressure can be deadly; it can puncture the skin and cause fatal embolism. Heat exposure can also cause it to explode. Leaking cylinders are also a danger because the gas that comes out may cause frostbite. Compressed gas includes carbon dioxide, oxygen, compressed air, ethylene, and welding gases. The hazard symbol is an image of a cylinder surrounded by a circle.

whmis_bClass B (Flammable and Combustible Material)

Any material that will burn, explode, or catch fire easily at normal temperature (below 37.8 °F) are considered flammable. Combustible materials must be heated first before they will ignite while reactive flammable materials are those that suddenly start burning when it touches air or water. Materials under this class can be solid, liquid or gas such as acetone, turpentine, ethanol, propane, butane, kerosene, spray paints, and varnish. The symbol for this is a flame with a line under it inside a circle.

whmis_cClass C (Oxidizing Material)

Oxygen is necessary for combustion. Oxidizers do not burn but can cause other materials that normally do not burn to suddenly catch fire by providing oxygen. They can be in the form of gases such as oxygen and ozone, liquids such as nitric acids and perchloric acid solutions, or solids such as sodium chlorite. The symbol for oxidizing materials is an “o” with flames on top of it inside a circle.

whmis_d1Class D – Division 1 (Poisonous & Infectious Material, Immediate Serious Toxic Effects)

Materials under this division are very poisonous and can cause immediate death or serious injury if inhaled, digested, absorbed, or injected into the body. Most Class D-1 materials will also cause long term effects. Some examples of D-1 materials include sodium cyanide, carbon monoxide, sulphuric acid, acrylonitrile, and 4-diisocyanate (TDI). The symbol is a skull and crossbones inside a circle.

whmis_d2Class D – Division 2 (Poisonous & Infectious Material, Other Toxic Effects)

These are poisonous materials as well but their effects are not as quick-acting and only temporary. Those that don’t have immediate effects may still have serious results such as cancer, liver or kidney damage, birth defects, or reproductive problems. Some of these materials include asbestos, mercury, benzene, acetone, and cadmium. The symbol for Class D-2 looks like a “T” with an exclamation point at the bottom inside a circle.

whmis_d3Class D – Division 3 (Poisonous & Infectious Material, Biohazardous Infectious Material)

These are toxins or organisms such as viruses, bacteria, fungi, and parasites, that can cause diseases in people or animal. Biohazardous infectious materials are usually found in hospitals, laboratories, healthcare facilities, veterinary practices, and research facilities. Any person handling specimens or samples in these environments should assume that they are contaminated and should treat them accordingly. Examples of these materials include Hepatitis B, AIDS/HIV virus, and salmonella. A Class D-3 symbol looks like three “c”s joined together with a small circle in the middle, all inside a circle.

whmis_eClass E (Corrosive Material)

Corrosive materials, such as acids and bases will burn eyes and skin on contact. It can also cause irreversible damage to human tissue such as the eye or lung. It will also attack clothes and other materials like metal. Common corrosive materials include sulphuric and nitric acids, ammonium hydroxide, and caustic soda. The symbol for Class E is an image of two test tubes pouring liquid on a bar and a hand inside a circle.

whmis_fClass F (Dangerously Reactive Material)

Materials under this class  are unstable, and may burn, explode or produce dangerous gases when mixed with incompatible materials. A Class F material manifests three different properties or abilities:

  1. It can react very strongly and quickly with water to make toxic gas;
  2. It will react with itself when it gets shocked, or if the temperature or pressure increase; and
  3. It can undergo polymerization, decomposition, or condensation.

Examples of this class include vinyl chloride, ethyl acetate, ethylene oxide, and picric acid. The symbol for this class is a picture of a test tube with sparks coming out of the tube surrounded by a letter “R” inside a circle.

A safe environment is important for everyone, and knowing how to properly handle hazardous materials in your facility is one way to achieve that. A thorough WHMIS education coupled with a strong PPE training program will help you in achieving a safe and efficient workplace.

###

Connect with Maria Marnelli G. Medina on Google+

Floor Tapes: Decoding The Colours

600_250

Floor tapes are a staple in many organizations. They bring safety and order in many workplaces, particularly in industrial works and major construction. These tapes are used to mark everything from floor aisles and passageways to storage areas of equipment.

Floor marking tapes come in different colours, and each one has a specific meaning and use. If you are new to using floor and aisle marking tapes, it can be a confusing. Familiarize yourself with the proper colour coding of these tapes so you can use them effectively.

White

White is a basic neutral colour intended for everyday use. Items and areas that are marked with white floor tape do not pose any threat to safety. Use this on equipment and fixtures such as machines, jogs, workstations, carts, racks, and benches.

Yellow

Yellow means slow down and use caution. This is the most common colour used in facilities due to its many applications. You can use caution tapes to mark aisles, passageways, or other areas that are potential slip and trip hazards.

Red

Red signals “danger” or “stop”, and is used to mark areas and equipment that can bring about possible danger. You can find red floor tapes in and around fire protection equipment, stop signs, sprinklers, and near containers of flammable liquids.

Orange

Orange denotes “warning” and is usually associated with machinery, motorized equipment, or devices with exposed parts that may cause potential injury. Orange is also used to indicate communication lines such as alarms, telephone wires, and TV wires.

Blue

Blue is for general information, meaning it doesn’t suggest any hazardous condition. It may be used to indicate “caution” and can also be used to mark the location of equipment that needs repair and provides a warning not to operate the equipment.

Green

Green means “go,” “safe,” or “good.” You can find green floor tapes in and around first aid supplies, eye wash stations, showers, safety information, or any equipment whose purpose is to improve safety conditions and minimize injury.

300_450Striped, Patterned, or Contrasting-Coloured

This type generally means “attention,” and requires your alertness. Striped tapes with two different colours usually mean the marked area is an electrical hazard, a dead end, or a drop/fall hazard. Red and white floor tape means the area is required to be kept clear for safety or compliance purposes. Black and white floor tapes are for areas that need to be cleared for operational purposes, while black and yellow indicate areas that may expose workers to special health or physical hazards.

Now that you have a basic understanding of what these colours mean and how to use them properly, here are a few helpful tips to get you started:

  • Use as few colours as possible. Too many colours can spell confusion. Minimize the colours that you will use in your facility. This will make it easier for your staff to remember what the colours stand for.
  • Assign specific colours with specific purposes. The usual practice among companies is to mark equipment locations using the same colour for aisles and work cell boundaries. But it can be more effective to use two different colours for two different work areas. When a facility differentiates between colours when marking specific work areas, it creates a clear visual that helps workers quickly identify colours with their purpose.
  • Raw Materials, WIP (Work in Progress), and finished goods. Use the same colour for all material storage areas unless there is an important reason to use varied colours. You can also use different colours to indicate different materials.
  • Do more with less. Instead of using three different coloured floor tapes, choose one colour for all applications with the same purpose. For example, use only red and white stripes to keep all areas with fire fighting equipment, safety equipment and electrical panels.

We all want our work facilities to be as safe and as organized as possible. Floor tapes can help you with that. But it’s not enough to stick these tapes in all the right places. You and your employees need to be properly trained on the colour coding system of your facility. This will help you maximize the use of these handy tools and create a safer and more efficient workplace.

###

Connect with Maria Marnelli G. Medina on Google+

7 Reasons To Start Your First Aid Training At Work

collage_FIN_600_250

Accidents can happen any time, anywhere, especially in the workplace. To be prepared for the unexpected, you need a first aid kit. First aid kits are essential to provide immediate treatment for injuries and ailments that can happen in your place of work.  From minor ailments to more serious injury, a first aid kit can help reduce the risk of complications or severity of the injury.

But it’s not enough to stock your workplace with burn kits, first aid kits, and medical supplies bags. What good are they if no one knows how to use them properly, right? This is why first aid and CPR training in the workplace should always go hand in hand with providing first aid kits for your organization. It is mandatory for any Canadian organization to train all employees on proper first aid and CPR administration.

Before training, you need to first assess your workplace situation, including the history of work injuries, fatalities, and illnesses. The Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS) provides a guideline and a check list on how to do a proper assessment in your workplace. This will help you determine what kind of first aid and CPR training you should take.

Still not convinced? Well here are seven reasons why you should kickoff your first aid training now:

  1. Compliance. It’s the law! The Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) requires you, as employer, to certify all your employees in first aid and CPR. Keep in mind that workplace safety regulations and standards for first aid vary by province or territory. You can refer to this guide from the Labour Program of Canada for more details.
  2. Safety awareness. An employee that has undergone training becomes more “safety aware.” This results in an increase in preventative measures, with your workers becoming more alert to possible accidents and injuries. With this, the number of accidents in your workplace also decreases.
  3. Fast, effective treatment. A first aid responder can reach the patient quickly and provide immediate care while waiting for an ambulance to arrive. This results in a greater chance of survival especially in cases of serious injuries or sickness.
  4. Confidence to act in an emergency. First aid training imparts knowledge and skill to your workers so they can confidently act in an emergency when the time comes. They know what’s in their first aid kits, how to use the supplies and equipment, and the proper ways to react in an emergency.
  5. Boost employee morale. Workers with high morale lead to positive attitudes, which lead to positive results. First aid training will help ensure the health and safety of your employees and make them feel that the company cares about their well-being.
  6. Corporate social responsibility. Investing in training is also an investment in our society. First aid and CPR training is more than just being compliant and avoiding fines. Providing your workers with skills and knowledge that can save a life will not only be useful for workplace emergencies, but for any emergency situation anywhere.
  7. It saves lives. You don’t have to be a superhero to be able to save someone from harm. Proper first aid and CPR training can equip you with the means to make a difference in someone else’s life, especially if that life is in grave danger.

Having first aid kits and first aid training in your workplace is always a good plan. But as with any plan, it needs to be implemented well to be effective. You as employers, managers, and supervisors must know your first aid arrangements very well, and must understand the responsibilities under your first aid plan. Do this and you will be prepared for any medical emergency that may come your way.

###

Connect with Maria Marnelli G. Medina on Google+