Archives for May 2015

Electrical Safety: What You Need to Know to Keep Workers Safe


Working with electricity can be very dangerous.  It’s important to ensure that workers understand how to work safety with or near electricity, and that they understand the risks involved. The main types of electrical injuries they can suffer include electrocution, electric shock, burns and falls.

The Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS) offers the following tips for staying safe when working with or near electricity:

  • Inspect portable cord-and-plug connected equipment, extension cords, power bars, and electrical fittings for damage or wear before each use. Repair or replace damaged equipment immediately.
  • Always tape extension cords to walls or floors when necessary. Nails and staples can damage extension cords, causing fire and shock hazards.
  • Use extension cords or equipment that is rated for the level of amperage or wattage that you are using.
  • Always use the correct size fuse. Replacing a fuse with one of a larger size can cause excessive currents in the wiring and possibly start a fire.
  • Be aware that unusually warm or hot outlets may be a sign that unsafe wiring conditions exist. Unplug any cords or extension cords to these outlets and do not use until a qualified electrician has checked the wiring.
  • Always use ladders made with non-conductive side rails when working with or near electricity or power lines.
  • Place halogen lights away from combustible materials, such as cloths or curtains.
  • Install Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCIs) to interrupt an electrical circuit before a current sufficient to cause death or serious injury occurs.
  • Use a portable in-line Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI) if you’re not certain that the receptacle you’re plugging an extension cord into is GFCI protected.
  • Make sure that exposed receptacle boxes are made of non-conductive materials.
  • Know where the panel and circuit breakers are located in case of an emergency.
  • Label all circuit breakers and fuse boxes clearly.
  • Don’t use outlets or cords with exposed wiring or portable cord-and-plug connected power tools with the guards removed.
  • Don’t block access to panels and circuit breakers or fuse boxes and don’t touch a person or electrical apparatus in the event of an electrical accident.

CCOHS has additional electrical safety tips, including those related to working with power tools and power cords here.

The Bottom Line: When Do Injuries Take Away From Work Time?


A new study by the Institute for Work & Health (IWH) revealed that the type of injury doesn’t completely determine if a worker will miss any time or no time off the job. Two other factors play a role: the physical demands of the job and the workers’ compensation premium rate the employer pays.

The study was conducted by collecting data on 7,000 of Ontario’s Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) no-lost-time claims. The survey team matched each no-lost-time claim with up to four WSIB lost-time claims similar in terms of type of injury, event leading to injury, the part of the body injured and the year of the injury.

The study yielded these results:

Physical workload mattered: It’s harder to work the day after an injury if the work is physically demanding.

Age and time on the job didn’t matter: While it would seem likely that young workers or those new to a job would be less likely to take time off after an injury, this was not the case.

Employer size didn’t matter: It was expected that larger employers would be more like to report no-lost-time claims because they can accommodate injured workers. But large employers were not more like to report such claims.

Premium rate mattered: Employers paying more in premium rates were less likely to have lost-time claims.

Read more about the study here.

Working Outside: How to Beat the Summer Heat


While it’s great to enjoy the fresh air when working outdoors, outside work can be hazardous—and even fatal—during the strong heat of the summer.

Workers are at risk for a variety of heat-related illnesses. It’s important to know the warning signs and what to do if you or one of your workers begins to show symptoms of a heat-related illness.

Heat exposure causes many illnesses, such as:

  • Heat edema: a swelling that occurs among people not used to working in the heat
  • Heat rashes: Tiny red spots on the skin that cause a prickling sensation when exposed to heat
  • Heat cramps: Sharp pains in the muscles that happen alone or with other heat stress disorders
  • Heat exhaustion: Caused by loss of body water and salt through excessive sweating
  • Heat syncope: Heat-induced dizziness and fainting induced by temporarily insufficient flow of blood to the brain
  • Heat stroke: Most serious heat illness, requiring immediate first aid and medical attention

Signs to be aware of for heat stroke include confusion, loss of consciousness, seizures, very high body temperature, and hot, dry skin or profuse sweating.

If someone appears to be suffering from heat stroke, call for medical help immediately. Also, move them to a shady location and apply cold, wet cloths to their skin. Remove some clothing and wet the person’s skin and clothing with cool water. Don’t force the person to drink liquids.

Learn more from the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety here.

Safety News You Can Use


Safety for Mining Workers to Increase

Underground mine workers in Ontario should be healthier and safer with Ontario accepting and acting on all 18 consensus recommendations from the final report of the Mining Health, Safety and Prevention Advisory Group.

Among those recommendations are the requiring of employers to have formal water management programs to reduce hazards related to excess water where miners are located, as well as enhancing ground control protection to track and monitor seismic activity.

Read more here.

Inspection Blitzes to Continue

The Ontario Ministry of Labour continues to coordinate enforcement blitzes and initiatives for the Occupational Health and Safety Program and the Employment Standards Program.  This includes provincial blitzes, which are province-wide and sector-specific. Regional initiatives are smaller-scale enforcement programs.

Blitzes happening over the next several months will focus on areas such as precarious employment, struck by hazards, temporary foreign workers, new and young workers, and trenching hazards.

For the complete schedule of blitzes and initiatives, click here.

Ontario Investing in Workers

Ontario is investing $55 million in apprenticeship programs to help train workers to become tradespeople. Funding will be provided to two apprenticeship programs: the Apprenticeship Enhancement Fund, which will receive $23 million over a two-year span, and the Pre-Apprenticeship Training Program, which will receive $13 million during that time.

Colleges and other training organizations will receive $19 million over three years.

For more details, click here.