Archives for April 2016

Electrical Safety in the Workplace: Protect Your Workers from Hazards

electricalnew

If your workers deal with electricity on the job, they could be at risk for an injury or worse every day. They need to know those risks. And it’s important to ensure that workers understand how to work safely 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.

Get Ready: Emergency Preparedness Week is Near

emergency

Emergency Preparedness Week is May 1-7. Are you ready?

Emergency Preparedness Week has been recognized every year since 1996, with the goal of encouraging Canadians to take these three steps to be prepared in the event of an emergency:

  • Know the risks: Understand the risks that are unique to your region so you can better prepare for what could happen.
  • Make a plan: This should include the knowledge of safe exits, meeting places, as well as the location of fire extinguishers, water valves, electrical boxes, gas valves and floor drains.
  • Get an emergency kit: This kit should include such items as water, non-perishable foods, manual can opener, wind-up or battery-powered flashlight and radio, first aid kit, medications, copy of emergency plan and contact information.

These are important steps for you and your employees to know for both their personal and professional lives.

What have you done in your workplace to prepare your employees for emergencies? Do you have an emergency plan in place? What else do you think can be done to best prepare everyone in the event there is an emergency during working hours?

Fall Prevention Awareness: Teach Your Workers About Fall Protection

falls

Since falls can be a cause of serious injury (and even death) in the workplace—especially on the construction job site—it’s important to continuously educate workers about fall hazards and how to prevent them.

While every job site is different, employers must take the time to train workers on how to work safely among their unique fall hazards. Part of that training must include the various types of fall protection.

The Infrastructure Health & Safety Association offers these guidelines on how to choose the most appropriate fall protection for every job, and highlights the following options:

Guardrails: Eliminate fall hazards by eliminated open edges.  All workers in the area are protected.

Opening Covers: Floor-opening covers must fully cover openings and be fastened securely. Label opening covers clearly so workers are aware of them.

Fall-Arrest and Travel-Restraint Systems: Fall-arrest systems prevent workers from hitting the ground when they fall. Travel-restraint systems prevent workers from falling at all.

What types of fall protection do you provide your workers? When was the last time you provided fall protection training? If you don’t already have one, should you put a fall protection training and education program in place?

Keep Safe and Dry: Protect Your Business from Flooding

flooding

Businesses can be devastated when impacted by flood damage. Floods can be caused by many factors, including the melting of a large snowfall, a large rainstorm or a slow-moving thunderstorm that drops a lot of rain in a short period of time.

Whatever the cause of the flooding, you and your business need to be prepared.

Here are some tips to prepare your business from flooding damage and prevent disruptions to your business operations:

  • Install backflow prevention check valves to stop floodwater from entering at vulnerable points where utility and sewer lines enter the building.
  • Install watertight barriers called flood shields to prevent the passage of water through doors, windows, ventilation shafts or other openings.
  • Build watertight walls around equipment or work areas within the facility that are particularly susceptible to damage should floodwater enter the building.
  • Have backup systems available for use during emergencies, such as portable pumps to remove flood water, alternate power sources (generators or gasoline-powered pumps) and battery-powered emergency lighting.
  • Check your insurance policy to ensure you have proper coverage. Contact your insurance provider if you need additional coverage.
  • Have an easily accessible flood emergency kit on hand. The kit should contain a flash light, radio, insurance documents, important phone numbers, batteries, medication, blankets, food, dry clothes, first aid kit, mobile phone and cash.
  • Make a list of employee contact information in case there is an evacuation.
  • Make sure you have copies of important documents so they can be accessed from a remote location.
  • Check to see if vital company operations (such as shipping or customer service) can be relocated, if necessary.

While this is a fairly complete checklist, is there anything else you would add to it? What else should be done in preparation for flooding?

Safety News You Can Use

safetynews

A company was fined $225,000 for violating three sections of the Constructions Projects Regulation, which led to the death of one worker and injuries to two other workers.

The workers were installing new hydro poles and wires under existing lines. While excavating a hole, the boom of a work vehicle came within three metres of a power line located above the hole. The workers all suffered electrical shocks.

The three violations were: failure to ensure the boom of a vehicle was not brought within three metres of an energized overhead conductor of 750 or more volts; failure to ensure a competent worker designated as a signaler was stationed so as to be in full view of an operator and had a clear view of the electrical conductor and of the vehicle, to warn the operator every time any part of the vehicle or other equipment may approach the minimum distance; and failure to take every reasonable precaution to prevent hazards to workers from energized electrical equipment, installation and conductors.

Learn more here.

Company Fined After Worker Injured on the Job

A company that produces concrete panels was fined $65,000 after a worker was critically injured by panels that had tipped over.

Two 20-foot long panels that weighed a total of 3,750 pounds were being moved to a storage area when the incident occurred. Once a crane lowered the panels onto horizontal pillars, one worker removed the nylon swing that attached the panels to the crane. That caused the panels to tip over and fall on the other workers.

To learn more about the incident and fine, click here.