How To Plan Your Mobile Safety Tote

Job Safety Seton CanadaMost emergencies hit without much warning.

Whether the emergency is natural or human-caused, preparedness is critical to protecting your workers and business.

Just ask the 33 Chilean workers, who in 2010, were trapped in a collapsed mine for over two months.

Fortunately, they survived.

However, not all emergencies have happy endings.

In 2010, the International Federation of Chemical, Energy, Mine & General Workers’ Unions estimated there are at least 12,000 global mining deaths per year.

Emergencies happen, the key is how to prepare for them before they surface.

One way is to make sure mining work sites have first aid kits and mobile safety totes.

Standard St. John’s Ambulance first aid supplies include bandages, gauze, gloves and so on, but mobile safety totes are larger and water resistant plastic emergency kits which are meant for job specific items.

Wallbridge Mining Company Project Geologist, Natalie MacLean says Wallbridge’s emergency collection features water, a fire starter, rope, a flashlight, a tow strap, duct tape, an axe, soup mix and energy bars.

“The kit is labelled (including a list of contents and additional support supplies to bring) and staff are aware that it is for emergency purposes only,” says MacLean.

The last thing needed is a compromised tote that is missing vital materials which could help someone in desperate need.

Because communication among workers is critical when it comes to emergency planning, the Wallbridge Health & Safety representative decided what materials filled the kit with input from field staff and management.

When planning mobile safety totes, H & S reps, field supervisors, workers and management ideally should join the brainstorming process to guarantee a well-rounded understanding of what potential accidents may arise and what specific contents are required to assist workers in those emergency situations.

Be sure to also collectively decide on the most accessible tote locations based on the quickest routes to accident-prone areas.  As a group, identify the problem work spaces and consider the tote’s weight when determining how fast it can be transported to those potential accident zones.

“We developed our kit fairly recently,” MacLean adds, “and thankfully have never had to use it; hopefully we never have to.”

Another tip is to properly label the mobile safety totes with a list of their items and make sure staff are aware they are for emergency purposes only.  The last thing needed is a compromised tote that is missing vital materials which could help someone in desperate need.

Yes, an emergency might arrive without an advanced warning but with strong communication and effective planning, mobile safety totes can protect workers from becoming grim statistics on a safety report.


A Safety Manager’s Best Friend – The Checklist


A job safety checklist can save lives, money and lead to a more productive working environment.

According to the Association of Workers’ Compensation Boards of Canada (AWCBC),  between 2008 to 2010, there were 700 construction job-related deaths which accounted for 23.3 percent of all Canadian workplace fatalities during that period.

Could properly planned and executed safety checklists have prevented some of those deaths?

It’s a possibility.

Aquicon Construction recognizes their value. It uses standardized safety checklists which are developed with its third party safety consulting firm, Advantage Ergonomics Canada (AEC) Safety Solutions.

Here’s what AEC President, Tyler Scott, has to say about the importance of safety checklists.

What do you put on those lists and why?

First Aid Kits, Ladders/Scaffolds, Fire Safety, Fall Protection, Electrical Safety, Guardrails, PPE (Heat, Feet, Ear & Eye), Overhead Power lines, Public Way Protection, Floor Openings and Ventilation to name a few.

We have chosen these items because they are the main areas of infraction on a construction project.

What makes a good checklist and why?

A good checklist recognizes a problem, assesses the severity of the issue and provides a recommendation to eliminate the problem.

How often do you create & update safety checklists?

Our standardized checklists are reviewed and updated annual, but each checklist is used on our construction projects and project specific information is added to our standardized checklists.  This provides our field staff with the basic information and prompts them to add their project specific information for each type of checklist.

How many people are involved in your checklist creation process and why?

Typically three people. One representative from Senior Management at Aquicon Construction, one representative from AEC Safety Solutions and one representative from our field staff.  This provides input from three unique backgrounds to help compile a proactive and project specific checklist.

How many types of safety checklists do you have?

We use one main checklist (project safety inspection) which addresses all potential hazards on a construction project. It documents who is responsible for an infraction (constructor or employer) and provides instruction for correction. This is performed bi-weekly and randomly by AEC Safety Solutions on all our projects as we find a third party provides an excellent resource to our in house staff.  Project supervisors and project health and safety representatives also conduct these inspections regularly. Overall, Aquicon has approximately thirty checklists available for project specific items such as overhead wires, confined space, lockout/tagout, emergency procedures, etc.

What real results have you received by using a job site safety checklist?

We have the responsibility of all workers on the project. We have seen a reduction in the number of infractions for our sub-contractors as our inspection reports address the issues on the project with the subcontractors and copies are sent to their office to provide corrective action when necessary.

Job safety checklists can be life-savers, but only if they’re well thought out, implemented properly and employees follow them.

Without this team effort, more heartbroken families will deal with the tragic consequences.


How To Winterize Your Surface Mining Job Site

How To Winterize Your Surface Mining Job Site

Winter is a time of snow boarding, ice fishing, and hockey.

For surface mine workers, including gravel pits, quarries and strip-mines, it’s also about job safety.

Cold, gusty winds and heavy snow can create treacherous conditions.

In order to protect employees, it’s important for employers to take preventive steps to winterize their workplace.

If they don’t, they could face harsh consequences by violating Regulation 854 of the Occupational Health & Safety Act.

If equipment or travel ways are poorly maintained resulting in a death, a corporation, when convicted, would receive a maximum $500,000 penalty and an individual, such as a supervisor, could be fined $25,000 and may be imprisoned for up to a year.

To avoid those outcomes, Ontario Ministry of Labour Mining Specialist, Glenn Staskus, provides valuable insider information by listing areas MOL safety inspectors evaluate when visiting winter work sites. They are important reminders that sometimes the best way to prevent accidents is to go back to the basics. Here are a few great tips from the people who enforce the rules…

  • Travel Routes including access to buildings, repair spaces & stairs – Are they clear of snow and debris? Can workers move freely without slipping or falling? Can equipment be moved from point A to B safely without trouble?
  • Personal Protective Equipment – As a result of shorter daylight hours, do workers have adequate reflective striping on clothing and hard hats, so they can be seen between sunset and sunrise? Are they wearing proper work gloves, glasses, ear plugs, headgear, footwear and uniforms to handle extreme cold and changing weather conditions for long periods of time?
  • Workplace Lighting – Is there effective illumination for surface tasks including areas where workers are required to travel and the nature of the equipment or operation may create a hazard due to insufficient lighting?
  • Mining Equipment – Is it in good shape to deal with unpredictable winter weather? Do employers conduct consistent equipment safety checks?
  • Material Stockpiles  – Are they stable? Are there procedures in place for sampling and removing stockpile material in a safe manner?
  • Safety Policy – Is there one in place which is reviewed annually and is there a program to implement it?
  • Joint Health & Safety Committee Or Representative – Are either present on the job site? If not, they are required to be.

By taking care of these areas before they become problems, employers will avoid penalties, but more importantly, they’ll have a safe, healthy and productive winter work environment.