4 Tips to Organize Your Warehouse

Warehouse

The warehouse is one of the most important parts of your business. Warehouse and inventory management can make or break your whole enterprise as it affects production, sales, and distribution among others. A poorly maintained warehouse could lead to wastage that could cost a lot of money while a well-oiled machine of a warehouse can lead to increase in profits for the business.

Maintaining and organizing a warehouse may not be as daunting as you think. All it takes is a few pointers to follow and you’ll be on your way to a systematized and organized inventory process.

Sort your items – What’s the first rule of organization? Get rid of the clutter.
Just like organizing a home, you need to sort which item stays or goes. Remove the garbage, items you don’t need, and unwanted inventory. Convert the stale inventory to cash through discounted sale or donate the useful items to charity.

Label your inventory – Identify your items.
Use different coloured tags and labels to identify your inventory. Furthermore, you can use a software inventory system for large warehouses to easily manage large amount of stocks. A variety of stickers and labels are available on the market specifically for inventory management.

Post safety warehouse signs – Make your warehouse a safe for your workers.
Safety signs keep workers aware of hazards, required PPEs (Personal Protective Equipment), and other safety precautions. As Canada can be considered as a multicultural society, it’s important to have bilingual safety signs and signs with universally-recognizable graphics to bridge any language barrier.

Manage your warehouse traffic – Traffic signs are not just for roads and highways.
Prevent accidents in your warehouse facility with aisle marking, forklift safety signs, pole signs, and more. Guide workers and forklift drivers around your facility with aisle markings like reflective marking tapes that’s essential especially in case of black outs and low light conditions. Custom aisle markers are also available to identify different aisles that hold different items or inventory.

Hanging pole signs warn drivers of vertical clearance to avoid accidents with trucks and forklifts. Install them on your warehouse parking entrance or shipping bay.

Managing your warehouse takes a bit of time and effort but the improvement in efficiency cannot be discounted. The more efficient your warehouse becomes, the less you need to hire extra workers which results to savings on overhead costs. Customize your warehouse according to your business and watch your production grow.

 

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Summer Safety Tips: Bug and Sun Burn Protection

Summer in Canada is a time for fun outdoor activities. But this is also a time when workers, especially outdoor workers in construction, mining, traffic, etc., have to contend with summer hazards, namely: bugs and sun burns.

Bugs PreventionProtection from Bug Bites
Bugs such as mosquitoes and ticks are not just annoying; they are also disease-carrying hazards for workers. Bug prevention should be a part of your summer safety program. Fortunately, preventing bug bites can be as simple as following these summer safety tips:

Apply insect repellent – There are many types of insect repellent. What you should look out for are the natural ingredients contained in the product that are safe for the skin and won’t cause irritation. Another factor is the hours of protection each product offers. Insect repellent comes in 3 hours to 8 hours of protection. Remember to re-apply repellent if you’ll be working outside for a longer period.

Wear the right clothes – Wear long-sleeved shirts and pants when working outside especially in wooded areas. Tuck your pants into your shoes or socks to prevent crawling insects from getting inside. You can even apply special insect repellent on your clothes to keep the bugs out. Avoid brightly coloured clothes that are attractive to bees and other insects.

Destroy mosquito breeding grounds – Remove stagnant water in your work areas. These stagnant waters are often used by mosquitoes as breeding grounds for their young. Prevent these bugs from multiplying by getting rid of their nursing areas.

Protection from Sun BurnsSun Burn
Working under the heat of the sun for hours is not safe for anyone. Skin diseases from simple sun burns to skin cancer may result due to over exposure to hazardous UV rays. Here are a few ideas for protecting your skin while working under the summer sun:

Apply sunscreen protection – Protect your skin from both UVA and UVB rays from the sun. Both UV radiations pose dangers to the skin from premature aging to skin cancer. Choose a sunscreen with higher SPF (Sun Protection Factor) if you expect to be working under the sun for a long time. SPF refers to the amount of time before the UVB rays reddens the skin, the more the SPF, the better.

Wear protective clothing – Wear a hat and cover your arms and legs to prevent sun exposure. Choose natural fabrics that allow air circulation such as cotton. Protect your eyes from the harsh glare with tinted safety glasses or UV-protected sunglasses.

Re-hydrate – During summer, you tend to sweat a lot and this causes fluid loss. You need re-hydrate by drinking lots of water. Avoid caffeine and alcohol as these liquids may cause dehydration.

Include these tips on your summer workplace safety program and you’ll be on your way to a hassle-free summer work season.

 

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Electrical Safety Pop Quiz

Preventing Electrocution

In a job site such as a construction or mining site, the risk of fatal electrocution and electric shocks are significantly higher because of the exposed live wires and high voltage equipment present. Preventing electrocution should be prioritized to prevent serious injuries and possible loss of lives.

Knowledge is the best defense and prevention. Do your workers know the facts about electrical safety? Here’s a True or False quiz to find out.

  1. Electrocution occurs more often at home than the workplace. – T/F
  2. 6/1000 of an amp electric shock is fatal. – T/F
  3. Lack of lockout/tagout programs can contribute to accidental electrocution and electric shocks. – T/F
  4. There’s no need to test electrical outlets if you shut off the breaker or pull the appropriate fuse. – T/F
  5. Wood or fibreglass ladders are prefferable when working in areas with live wires. – T/F
  6. Electrocution or electric shock only occurs upon direct contact with live wires. – T/F
  7. It’s necessary to mark underground electrical wiring in job sites. – T/F
  8. You can use extension cords as permanent wiring for power supplies. –T/F
  9. It’s ok to break off the third prong on a plug so it fits an outlet. –T/F
  10. A warm or hot wiring needs to be checked. – T/F
  11. It’s critical to label and identify electrical wires and cables. –T/F
  12. It’s fine to use nails or staples to secure and organize wiring. – T/F
  13. A Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter should be installed in damp or wet areas. – T/F
  14. It’s safer to pull the electrical equipment by the power cord instead of the plug. – T/F
  15. If there are multiple outlets in an extension cord, it’s safe to plug in multiple electrical devices regardless of watt requirements. – T/F
  16. Always check for exposed wiring and damage to cords and plug. – T/F
  17. You should always wear protective equipment when handling electrical jobs. – T/F
  18. It’s important to maintain 10m distance from a crane or truck that came in contact with live wires. – T/F
  19. Arc flashes are less serious than direct contact with a live wire. – T/F
  20. In case of emergency, when a person is electrocuted, you should immediately help the person by grabbing and pulling them from the source of electricity. – T/F

Answers:

1. F, 2. T, 3.T, 4.F, 5.T, 6.F, 7.T, 8.F, 9.F, 10.T, 11.T, 12.F, 13.T, 14.F, 15.F, 16.T, 17.T, 18.T, 19.F, 20. F

 

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4 Basic Construction Safety Must Do’s

Construction Site Safety

The construction industry, more than any other industry, has the highest rate of work-related injuries in Canada; specifically, 24.5 per 1,000 workers, according to the International Labour Organization’s (ILO) 2008 statistics. Each year, workers face the many hazards common to construction sites, risking their health and even their lives for their jobs.

Employers and contractors face delays and additional costs each time an accident occurs. These are reasons why construction site safety is crucial in preventing accidents from happening in the first place.

A well thought-out construction safety program can go a long way in minimizing, if not eliminating completely, the occurrence of workplace injuries. Here are some general tips for making your construction site a safer place to work.

Safety training for construction workers

Knowledge is power. It’s essential for every worker to go through a safety training program to learn the basics of construction site safety. While every construction site is different, some general principles of safety should be observed. Specialized jobs such as welding, machine operations, and others will need specialized training geared towards safety practices for these types of work.

Training is especially critical for new and young workers. Most of the time, these workers that are hired per project and have no experience working in a construction site. Going through safety videos and demos will give them, at least, an idea of what to expect and the correct practices that promote safety in a jobsite.

Personal Protective Equipment

The employer or contractor is obligated to provide reliable PPE or Personal Protective Equipment for their workers. Hard hats, safety glasses, and proper work clothes should be mandatory in every site. Management should be open to workers’ request for PPE and regular safety inspection should be implemented.

Specialized jobs need specialized PPE. If the worker is working at great heights, they would need safety harnesses and lanyards. Welders should have safety gloves and a face shield designed for welders. Workers working with jack hammers and other loud equipment should be given ear protection equipment, such as plugs or earmuffs.

Cleaning and organizing work areas

According to a British Columbia construction safety statistic, falls account for majority of the workplace injuries for construction. This number holds true for most of Canada and the US. Slips, trips, and falls are identified as being the most common cause of accidents in construction sites.

It’s unfortunate as these injuries are mostly preventable just by observing simple practices such as organizing tools, equipment, and supplies in their proper storage when not in use. Clearing up work areas of debris and materials will go a long way in promoting safer work areas for construction workers.

Identifying and blocking off hazard areas

Only authorized personnel with the proper training and personal protective equipment should be allowed in hazardous areas such as ledges, confined space areas, scaffolding, etc. Limiting the workers’ access prevents unnecessary accidents especially in sensitive areas where specialized equipment and training is needed for work.

Practical solutions such as installing bold and readable safety signs are necessary for workers to be aware of construction site safety hazards and safety policies being implemented. Installing barriers with highly-visible warning markers discourages unauthorized entry to these hazardous locations.

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Fall Prevention Checklist

Fall ProtectionSlips, trips, and falls have been proven to be the leading causes of workplace injuries but they are also the most preventable workplace accidents in almost every industry. The latest statistics from the Association of Workers’ Compensation Boards of Canada, released in 2011, puts the number of injured workers due to fall accidents at 42,000. Overall, fall injuries make up about 17% of the total workplace injuries that resulted to “time-loss” at work.

Most of the fall accidents resulting from same level slips and trips account for 66% of the total number of fall accidents, while 34% are falls that occur from a height such as scaffolding, ladders, and rooftops.

Simple steps can be taken to prevent slips and trips. Read our previous blog post for tips in preventing workplace slips, trips and falls.

Fall prevention from heights require more than common sense. In construction, mining, oil, and other industries, fall protection includes the use of workplace safety equipment such as harnesses, lanyards, and body belts.

Harnesses 

Chest harnesses are recommended for limited fall hazards only. It is usually used for rescue or retrieval of personnel from a confined space like tanks or large bins.

Full-body harnesses are best used for free fall hazards. Workers working at great heights should suit-up with a full-body harness instead of a chest harness or a body belt.

Lanyards

Rope lanyards have shock-absorption features that are best for vertical free fall hazards. Its elastic properties are designed to dissipate the force of a fall away from the worker’s body.

Web lanyards or non-shock absorbing lanyards are only recommended for fall hazards that are less than 2 ft.

Body Belts

There are 2 types of body belts – the single and the double D-ring belt. Both are recommended only for restraint and proper positioning and should not be used when fall hazards exists.

Fall Protection Program Checklist

Inspections

Conduct regular inspections of your fall protection gear. This is to make sure that the equipment is in working condition with no tears on the belts, or malfunctioning anchors that could be fatal for workers using the equipment. Always check each component of the fall protection system before use.  Also, keep a regularly updated record of inspection. This will serve as a reference and proof that the equipment is maintained properly.

Replacements

Replace harness, belts and other components of your fall protection system if worn or defective. Consult with the manufacturer if you have questions about the life-span of the equipment. Make sure every replaced component is reflected on the inspection record.

Energy Absorption Feature

Ensure that your fall arrest or fall protection system has energy absorption capacity to cushion the worker’s body against the sudden force of a free fall. Non-shock absorbing lanyards may cause trauma to a worker’s body especially from a fall at a greater height.

Manufacturer’s Manual

Read the manual. Know exactly the uses and limitations of each fall protection equipment. This includes instructions for adjustment, fit, application, inspection, and care. Read the hazard warnings as well as the recommendations.

Canadian Standards Association (CSA) Standard Z259

The non-profit organization, CSA, released the Z259 fall protection standards to guide workplace safety engineers on the right equipment for their workers. Choose the fall prevention system that meet or exceeds these recommendations to be sure of quality and reliability.

 

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Safety Begins with Me: Eye Injury Prevention

Safety EyewearWorkplace eye injuries are more common than you think. It is estimated that about 1,000 eye injuries occur everyday in the US. In Canada, the Canadian National Institute for the Blind or CNIB puts the number to around 200 a day. Ontario reported that nearly 3,000 workers suffered eye injuries in 2006 alone. These numbers remind workers and employers about the need to promote eye safety in the workplace.

Eye injury prevention is simple enough to implement. With the right safety eyewear, the risk of eye injury is reduced by a staggering 90%. Having said that, wearing the wrong kind of safety glasses may be just as bad as not wearing any protective glasses at all. The eyes are extremely sensitive organs and it is estimated that around 5% of eye injuries may result in serious, long term or short term vision problems or even blindness.

Finding the right safety glasses is crucial in preventing eye injuries. Choose only safety glasses that meet CSA (Canadian Standards Association) Z94.3.1-09 requirements to be sure of quality.

What should you look out for?

Lenses – Plastic polycarbonate lenses are recommended for its impact resistance and flexible form. It comes in both prescription and non-prescription lenses.

Markings – It’s important to scrutinize the glasses you’re buying. Make sure the name of the manufacturer or their logo is clearly etched on the frame, shields, or lenses.

Frames – Frames for safety glasses should be stronger than regular, fashionable frames. It’s important to have heat-resistant frames especially for welders and others who work in extreme environments. Make sure the frame prevents the lenses from pushing into the eyes.

Here’s a guide on the recommended type of safety glasses for different jobs. A complete list can be found on the CCOHS website.

Selection of Eye and Face Protection

*indicates recommendation
Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS)
Z94.3.1-09 Selection use and care of protective eyewear by Canadian Standards Association, 2009

 

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Workplace Bullying: Where Can You Turn To?

Workplace Bullying

If you think you’ve outgrown and left the bully back in the schoolyard, think again. That bully is now wearing a tie and carrying a briefcase. In fact, that schoolyard bully just morphed into something more sinister – he or she is now your boss or co-worker.

Workplace bullying is often called the “silent epidemic.” The helplessness, frustration, and stress often take their toll leading to serious illness, not to mention, mental and emotional trauma. In truth, the effects of workplace bullying are not restricted to the bullied. Management and the company also suffer economically with the loss of a good worker. Productivity suffers as more often than not, the bullied employees are the most productive and knowledgeable about the job.

Unfortunately, countries such as the United States still lack the necessary laws that cover bullying. Unless the bully physically assaults or sexually harasses the employee, in the eyes of the law, there’s nothing that can be done.

If you are being bullied, where can you turn to?

Workplace Bullying Institute (US)

The Workplace Bullying Institute is an advocacy group lobbying to get the Healthy Workplace Bill to pass into law. It’s a bill that addresses “abusive work environment” different from harassment and other existing labour laws. Why do workers and employers need this new law? According to their 2010 national survey, 35% of workers have experienced bullying and bullying is four times more prevalent than harassment. Furthermore, in their 2007 study, it was found that 44% or nearly half of the organizations with incidents of bullying did nothing to address their employees’ grievances while 18% actually retaliated against the employees who reported the incidents.

Employees and employers may visit their website to gather information from preventing bullying to providing solutions to workplace bullying. There is helpful information that includes signs and symptoms of bullying, economic and health impact of bullying, rational action plans to stop bullying, list of professionals who can help, and more.

Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS)

Even in Canada, known for politeness, 40% of Canadian workers per week experience workplace bullying. This figure comes from the European Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology published in 2006. The surprisingly high number may have triggered the passing of Bill 168 also called Occupational Health and Safety Amendment Act (Violence and Harassment in the Workplace), passed in 2009. Bullied Ontario workers now have a better legal ground to stand on in a worst case scenario. The law specifies the responsibilities of the employers with significant consequences for non-compliance.

Workers in Canada may seek the help of CCOHS for information on workplace bullying and other types of workplace health and safety issues. Consult with them via their online inquiries form. According to their website, services are free and confidential.

Other Workplace Bullying ResourcesBullying Stops Here

AlbertaAlberta Learning Information Service

Alberta’s government site includes essential information and a list of services for professionals experiencing workplace bullying and harassment. According to the website, if the bullying is triggered by discrimination based on race, ethnicity, age, religion, disability, etc. you may be covered under the Alberta Human Rights Act. You may visit their site at www.albertahumanrights.ab.ca or call their toll-free number, 310-0000 and enter 780-427-7661 for north of Red Deer or 403-297-6571 for Red Deer south.

Ontario Ontario Ministry of Labour (MOL)

While the ministry prefers internal resolution of the complaint, the bullied or harassed employee may seek assistance of their nearest MOL office. Visit their site for the complete list of offices and contact information.

British ColumbiaMinistry of Labour Employment Standards Branch

The site offers a Self-Help Kit for employers and employees, who are unable to resolve disputes internally. Complaints such as bullying and harassment may go through the process of investigation, mediation and adjudication depending on the merits of the case and the parties involved.

QuebecCommission des normes du travail

The province headed the fight against workplace bullying with the passing of the ALS legislation or the Act respecting Labour Standards in 2004. In it, the government addressed the issue of psychological harassment. The Commission des normes du travail offers a comprehensive information kit for French-speaking Canadians that would help them fight and prevent bullying.

ManitobaWinnipeg Health Region

The Winnipeg site contains helpful tips and information on how to stop and prevent bullying. Click the link for the Region’s Respectful Workplace Policy to see further resources including contact information of organizations that may help you.

For more information, read our previous post about workplace bullying.

 

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NAOSH Week: Spotlight on Canadian Workplace Safety

Mark your calendars; May 5 to 11, 2013 is NAOSH week. In case you didn’t already know, NAOSH stands for North American Occupational Safety and Health and every first week of May the importance of workplace health and safety is highlighted through different events and activities.

First launched by 3 countries namely, the United States, Mexico and Canada, in June 1997, NAOSH has grown in scope and aims to increase and spread awareness of occupational health and safety all over the world. Its 3-fold goal has been:

  •  To encourage more investments in workplace health and safety solutions
  •  To recognize contributions of workplace health and safety professionals
  •  To reduce workplace illnesses and injuries through NAOSH health and safety awareness activities that include sharing of innovative ideas and new solutions

This year, NAOSH asks, “Are you as safe as you think?”

In Canada, the number of work-related injuries compensated has been steadily decreasing since the 1990s. In the early 80’s the trend was up but it slowly decreased by the latter part of the decade. Still, figures show that in 2010, 1 out of every 68 workers gets injured on the job. It has been noted that men are more prone to injuries compared to women (18.8 cases of men vs. 11.2 of women out of 1000 workmen and 1000 women).

Among all of the industries in Canada, construction has been pointed out as having the most number of work-related injuries (24.5 cases out of 1,000 workers). And among Canadian provinces and territories, Manitoba got the highest rate of injury in 2010 while Ontario scored the lowest (24.4 cases out of 1,000 in Manitoba vs. 9.1 out of 1,000 workers in Ontario).
Statistics on Wokplace Injuries in Canada
With these figures from HRSDC (Human Resources and Skills Development Canada), employers and government regulators can zero in on workers most at risk of injuries while on the job. Greater emphasis on safety is needed especially for occupations relating to the manufacturing and construction sector. Gender-wise, since most manual labour jobs are occupied by men, such as mining and construction, men are naturally more at risk of having accidents than women. Having said that, there are women who work dangerous jobs as well, and they do need safety products such as PPEs or Personal Protective Equipment to accommodate their needs.

Manitoba, with its economy tied to agriculture, mining, forestry, and energy, was singled out as having the highest accident rate in all of Canada. Newly revised legislation such as The Workplace Safety and Health Act would go along way in ensuring the safety of the workers in Manitoba. And in line with their commitment to improving occupational health and safety, the province will be one of the active participants for this year’s NAOSH week. Aside from fun activities such as the Street Hockey Tournament, Safety Barbecue, and Bingo Bowl, a Community Safety Day will be devoted to seminars and training on health and fitness, emergency preparedness, and other safety programs.

Prevention is key in health and safety, and that’s why NAOSH partners such as CSSE (Canadian Society of Safety Engineers), CCOHS (Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety), and The American Society of Safety Engineers will be giving workplace safety seminars all over Canada. Knowing safety protocols, from posting a simple safety sign to wearing the right PPE (Personal Protective Equipment), could spell the difference between life and death.

Visit the NAOSH week website to know which activities are near your area.

 

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