Archives for November 2014

Nail Your Next Safety Inspection With This Checklist


Self-inspection checklists are essential for maintaining a safe and compliant workplace. When you think about it, every process, procedure, workstation and piece of equipment is a potential hazard. Inspecting each of these things can help eliminate the danger, ultimately helping you to maintain a safe, healthful work environment. As you assess your work environment, consider the following questions:

26-box-web Are all work sites clean, sanitary and orderly?

26-box-web Are work surfaces kept dry and appropriate means taken to assure the surfaces are slip-resistant?

26-box-web Are all spilled hazardous materials or liquids, including blood and other potentially infectious materials, cleaned up immediately and according to proper procedures?

26-box-web Is combustible scrap, debris and waste stored safely and removed from the work site promptly?

26-box-web Is all regulated waste discarded according to federal, provincial, and municipal regulations?

26-box-web Are accumulations of combustible dust routinely removed from elevated surfaces, including the overhead structure of buildings, etc.?

26-box-web Is combustible dust cleaned up with a vacuum system to prevent suspension of dust particles in the environment?

26-box-web Is metallic or conductive dust prevented from entering or accumulating on or around electrical enclosures or equipment?

26-box-web Are covered metal waste cans used for oily or paint-soaked waste?

26-box-web Are all oil- and gas-fired devices equipped with flame failure controls to stop flow of fuel if pilots or main burners are not working?

26-box-web Are paint spray booths, dip tanks, etc., cleaned regularly?

26-box-web Are the minimum number of toilets and washing facilities provided and maintained in clean and sanitary condition?

26-box-web Are all work areas adequately illuminated?

26-box-web Are pits and floor openings covered or otherwise guarded?

26-box-web Have all confined spaces been evaluated for compliance?

This is only a general checklist that may best serve as a guide in helping you develop one that works well for you and your workplace. Consider developing similar checklists for specific parts of the workplace, as well as specific processes and procedures.



Improving Jobsite Communication


Training your employees to communicate successfully will be a critical factor in determining their safety and success on the job. The basic elements of most communication exchanges can be broken down into three simple steps:

 Step 1

The sender creates a message in his or her mind, then puts it into spoken, written, or visual communication.

Step 2

The message is transmitted via speech, mail, email, fax, hand signals, pictures, etc.

Step 3

The receiver receives & interprets the message, then acknowledges that the message was received and/or acts on the message.

All the steps in the communication cycle are of equal importance, and the cycle is not successful if any step gets overlooked. Understanding the cycle and properly communicating it to your workers will help everyone to better understand how they are sending and receiving messages. Some other tips that will help improve jobsite communication are –

  • Listen
  • Pay attention to body language
  • Respect the receiver’s communication preferences
  • Consider your tone
  • Don’t be too casual
  • Check your grammar
  • Keep criticism constructive
  • Restate what you hear
  • Use appropriate language
  • Never stop improving

In a nutshell, the three most important elements of communication to keep in mind are: the message, the delivery method, and the receiving method. Simply bringing these things to the attention of your workers will change the way people think about their communication habits in the short term, and hopefully improve safety and productivity in the long run. Also, don’t be afraid to ask questions…it could mean the difference between life and death!

Job Hazard Analysis Infographic: Easy as 1, 2, 3…4

Any activity, condition, or substance with the potential to harm a worker can be considered a workplace hazard. Eliminating or reducing  workplace hazards will increase safety and efficiency while decreasing illnesses, injuries, and costs. Our easy-to-follow infographic will help you analyze job hazards and implement valuable changes.

11.19 JHA Infographic
















Safety Committees Increase Awareness & Participation


Safety committees can be an integral part of ensuring a safer workplace. They not only demonstrate management’s commitment to safety, but promote compliance, reduce injuries and related costs, and help keep employees aware of & engaged in safe practices.

Committee functions:

  • Assist with regulatory compliance
  • Coordinate safety training programs
  • Investigate accidents
  • Assess safety equipment & PPE needs
  • Monitor Safety Data Sheets (SDS)
  • Conduct Job Hazard Analysis (JHA)

Committee structure:

  • Chairman
  • Secretary
  • Members
  • Guests

Developing the committee:

  • Membership should be a reflection of the size of the facility and include personnel from Operations, Maintenance, Safety, HR, Medical (if available), and other departments
  • Membership should be on a volunteer basis, and open to all employees
  • Assign specific responsibilities to chairperson, secretary and members
  • Members should be rotated annually or semi-annually
  • Determine frequency of meetings and publish dates in advance
  • Establish a committee charter
  • Appoint sub-committees when needed

Tips for success:

  • Limit meetings to 1 hour
  • Start & end on time
  • Create an agenda in advance and stick with it
  • Record and distribute minutes
  • Keep management informed
  • Be creative!

Safety News You Can Use


  • Congratulations to the fourth annual Canada’s Safest Employers award winners! Companies who took home top honours include: Borger Group, Cementation, London Hydro, Nestle Waters Canada, and Techmation Electric & Controls Ltd.
  • In a province-wide standardization effort, Joint Health and Safety Committee (JHSC) training in Ontario is getting updated for the first time since 1996. The new program, set to take effect in 2015, will include mandatory JHSC member training on at least six industry-specific standardized hazards.
  •  A fire at an industrial facility in Sarnia killed one worker and injured several others when a dust collection system outside the building exploded and caused structural damage. The incident is being investigated by The Ministry of Labour, Sarnia Police Service, and Office of the Fire Marshall.
  • In response to the deadly Lac Megantic derailment of 2013, the government announced new safety protocols. In addition to hiring 10 new safety auditors across Canada, new measures include tougher hand brake requirements for parked trains, more research on volatile crude oil properties and a requirement that short-line rail companies, such as the one involved in the Lac-Megantic crash, submit training plans for review.

The Fab Five Safety Training Basics


Every facility has unique hazards that employees must be trained on to protect their health and well-being on the job. However, the following five components should be included in most every employee safety training program.

1. Use Tools and Machines Safely: Most machines have built-in safety features, such as machine guards. Guards are positioned to prevent the operator from coming into contact with dangerous moving parts of a machine. Company policy requires that guards be kept in place. Machine maintenance and servicing call for the use of lockout/tagout procedures, which require special training and authorization. Do not attempt to lock or tag a machine unless you have been authorized to do so.

2. Be Cautious with Chemicals: This means knowing the hazards associated with the chemicals you use on the job. You should be able to read and interpret chemical labels and safety data sheets. You should know what personal protective equipment (PPE) is required for your job and when and how to use it. You should also know how to store chemicals properly.

3. Watch for Electrical Hazards: Every work environment involves electricity. It is used to power tools and equipment, as well as to provide light and other conveniences. Because we all depend on electricity, we sometimes fail to realize how hazardous it can be. Electrical mishaps can result in shock, burns, fire or worse.

4. Be Careful When Handling Materials: Moving things from point A to point B is a necessary part of many jobs. Warehouse workers do it constantly. In the process, unfortunately, many are injured because they take safety shortcuts. One of the most dangerous shortcuts employees take is failing to follow safe lifting procedures. Safe lifting requires bending at the knees, keeping your back straight and letting your legs do the lifting. It also means using mechanical aids, such as carts and dollies, whenever possible, and practicing team lifts to lessen the risk of injury.

5. Be a Good Housekeeper: Good housekeeping is not just about keeping things neat and organized, it’s also about keeping the work environment safe and healthful. Everyone is responsible for knowing and following housekeeping procedures as they are laid out by management.

Pain Awareness & Training: Just What the Doctor Ordered


Participate in National Pain Awareness Week (11/2 – 11/8) by ensuring you and your workers understand pain management and medication. Incorporating these topics into your safety training program will benefit and protect everyone. Here are some things to keep in mind:

Ensure workers are trained on –

  • Recognizing hazards, signs, and symptoms of work-related musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) & other injuries
  • Reporting a concern in the workplace and/or simply asking for help
  • Workplace policies and procedures that will help reduce or eliminate injury risk
  • Proper equipment operations and procedures
  • How and when to take breaks
  • Ergonomics

Ensure supervisors are trained on –

  • Establishing a response program and commitment to a supportive, open culture
  • MSD prevention
  • Injury and incident reporting procedures
  • Recognizing, identifying, controlling, and eliminating hazards
  • Designing & installing new equipment and corresponding employee training

Once a chronic injury has been sustained, pain medication is sometimes the only option. According to the 2012 Canadian Alcohol and Drug Use Monitoring Survey, about 410,000 Canadians reported abusing prescription drugs. Health Canada recently removed “moderate” pain from prescription narcotic labels in order to clarify that they are for “severe” pain only. Even with a valid prescription and correct dosages, painkillers can compromise worker safety and the financial security of your business. As Canada celebrates National Addiction Awareness Week beginning on 11/17, please keep in mind these potential pitfalls –

  • Painkillers compromise safety
  • Workers prescribed opioids have significantly higher workers’ compensation claims
  • Employers play an important role in helping their employees seek treatment
  • Use of painkillers can delay recovery and return to work
  • Using painkillers can increase the likelihood of disability claims
  • Strong drug-free workplace programs, comprehensive benefits packages, easily accessible employee assistance programs and company-wide education help reduce risk

Don’t Get Blindsided by a Blitz


As part of its continued commitment to preventing workplace injuries and illness through the Safe At Work Ontario initiative, The Ministry of Labour is running several blitzes that we thought should be on your radar. Please visit for a full schedule and details.

Machine Guarding Blitz From November 3 through December 14, Ministry of Labour inspectors will visit wood and metal fabrication, manufacturing, chemical and plastics and automotive plants and other industrial sector workplaces. The blitz will focus on hazards that could lead to crushing and other injuries as well as occupational disease. The ministry will check for hazards involving guards or other devices, and improper lockout of machines and equipment. Inspectors will look to see that employers are taking appropriate action to assess and address these hazards, as required by the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) and the Regulations for Industrial Establishments.

Ground Control Blitz – The ministry will continue the October/November blitz focusing on ground control in Ontario’s mining sector. The blitz will address hazards affecting the stability of excavations in underground and surface mines. Mining inspectors and engineers will focus specifically on the stability of the ‘face’ and ‘slope’ of mining sites. To prepare, please take a look at the Fact Sheet.

The ministry aims to protect workers’ rights under both the OHSA and the ESA (Employment Standards Act), and enhance employers’ awareness of their responsibilities. The blitzes and initiative were designed to generate long-lasting improvements in compliance, fewer injuries, and fewer breaches of employment standards. Findings are generally reported soon after completion.