Take Charge of Safety

take charge of safety

Jack Hardy wasn’t planning a career in safety but he’s glad he ended up there.

As a civil engineer, his career path started at a concrete plant more than 25 years ago, when he noticed there were postings for safety officers and he figured it was a way to move up the corporate ladder.

He’s glad he did and he thinks it’s a great career path – almost recession proof because the skills are transferable to many sectors – and heartily recommends people looking to build a future follow his footsteps.

“I thought why not?” said Hardy, now manager of prevention for the Saskatchewan

Workers’ Compensation Board. “To tell the truth I think what tweaked me was that the posting paid more but then after I got into the role I realized it really was a vocation for me.”

Things have changed over the years and safety management is a fast growing priority in many progressive corporate cultures. He said it’s a great career path for young and older workers alike with nationally recognized accreditation programs and courses available through local colleges leading to the Canadian Registered Safety Professional (CRSP) designation.

Back in those days training was fairly rudimentary, he said, but over time its has evolved into a specialty skill and evolved from being process driven to being something requiring a deep understanding of behavioral psychology and leadership.

“What I like about the safety field is that it’s very much collegial,” he said. “People don’t hold back, if they have something that works, they share it and it’s always been that way.”

He also likes the fact that safety management has evolved from being based on compliance – what do we have to do to follow the law – to being proactive and about creating a culture where safety is topmost of everyone’s mind.

“That goes to leadership,” he said noting the talk and the walk have to start at both the top and at the bottom of any organization to set the right tone.

The change in approach to safety management is being felt right through the system. While the University of Alberta’s Occupational Health and Safety program has been around since1969, there’s been a real upswing of interest in the last few years as the concept of safety as a culture takes hold, says Nimmi Dua, program coordinator, OH&S Certificate Program, Faculty of Extension at the University of Alberta.

“We’re getting a lot more women interested in safety as a career,” she said. “And that’s good because, you know, Dr. Oz says women make better managers! Safety isn’t about walking around with a clipboard and policing people it’s about working with people to create a culture and women have great soft skills and people skills.”

“CEOs and CFOs have come to realize how safety affects the bottom line and how expensive an accident is and how important culture change is in being safety aware,” she said.

The U of A is one of several schools offering continuing education course and there are a couple of universities, Fredericton and Ryerson in Toronto which have full time degree programs.

Dua says the total number of courses on offer is over 100 grouped around six core courses and two electives. The courses are non-credit leading to a certificate but the 200 graduates each year are usually driving forward to take the CRSP certification and the program prepares them for it.

“We’re all about flexibility and accessibility so our courses are available online for those who can’t get here for face to face classes, two nights a week for six weeks, over three weekends, in 35 hours of seminar so people can choose which is right for them because many have full time jobs and can’t easily get time off,” she said.

About 60 per cent of students are sponsored by their companies with the rest taking the courses for themselves to try and raise their profile and job prospects.

The CRSP is the national certificate and it’s the accreditation more employers want along with some experience,” she said.

Ages of student range from 25 to 55, she said, noting safety management isn’t an add-on or compensation job “for old Joe who has three fingers and a thumb and became the safety manager by circumstance.”

Young Workers: Safety Training

Young workers

Safety training can never start early enough. Most jurisdictions have instituted training programs at the high school level which integrate and partner with local school boards.

Alberta, B.C. and Ontario structure the programs as a path toward apprenticeship. Students sign up as interns and then spend time both in class and at training centres learning basic skills. Safety training is the first class and it’s something repeated throughout the program.

The United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America, Local 1946 in London, Ontario, has just completed construction of their new offices and training facility and part of the curriculum will be devoted to high schoolers.

Kevin Hoy, Local 1946 coordinator said the safety training starts immediately on commencement. “Right off the start we get WMIS Fall arrest training, falls being the biggest risk, then chemical burns. Then things like scissor lift training and scaffolding and swing stage.”

The in-house training allows for a controlled environment and fewer distractions. Basic training for young and new workers seems to work best when it includes experiential learning opportunities.

“With scaffolding, which is big for us given we lost four people in a collapse in Toronto in 2009, for example, sometimes it’s better to let them make mistakes. I was watching a group of kids put up scaffolding and they were doing it wrong but we waited until the end to point it out. They weren’t happy because they had to take it all down and do it again – which was a few hours – but they’ll probably never forget the lesson,” says Hoy.

The benefit of basic training can never be over emphasized but there’s also a bigger picture to consider. Some of the key areas identified in reaching out to the young/new worker segment are leadership and behavioural modification.

According to Jeffery Lyth, CRSP, CHSC Safety Advisor/Regional Safety Coordinator at the BCCSA: “There are rules and we live in a rule based society. You may not break the rules at the job site but you might speed driving to work. The issue is that we’re really not good as a whole being complaint with the rules.”

In Lyth’s experience the danger is that safety rules can incrementally erode for a variety of reasons, among them is the misplaced belief that getting the job done faster is beneficial to the worker and the company even if it entails unsafe behaviour.

“A worker may become more compliant with rules if the crew or organization culture holds safety as an integrated value,” he says. “So that they will stop and tell the young worker that while he may have saved 15 minutes by jumping over a barrier to get somewhere it was safer to walk around. That there’s no value in risking safety for work.”

The Culture of Safety

Key to that culture of safety, Lyth argues, is leadership as opposed to management.

  • Management directs assignment and assesses quality and acceptability of completion within specified time lines.
  • Leadership demonstrates forward thinking and holistic thinking, imparts cultural values and sets a tone.

If safety is tantamount within the leadership it is a value which is better imparted to the entire organization or crew. As such, Lyth says, leadership training is an important facet of any Health and Safety program. He runs a Supervisors Bootcamp to ensure supervisors not only get the right training, they develop the right thought processes.

Some of the ideas covered in the course include advice on how to assist employers to tackle the most important and emerging issues facing business operations today such as:

  •  Greater productivity and quality outcomes;
  •  Greater safety program effectiveness;
  •  Greater protection from the risks associated with Bill 14 with bullying & harassment prevention, and psychological well-being in the workplace.

Participants are given a leadership ‘tool kit’ comprised of the simplest but most effective leadership concepts, from which they can effectively build and develop their own leadership style, specific to themselves and their environment.

They will also take self-assessment questionnaires and participate in exercises based on the actual crews they lead. Participants will leave the session with their baselines established, reference materials and course content, and specific yet practical leadership goals set for them to work towards.

Training supervisors is often overlooked, Lyth adds: “We just looked at a study which found the average manager or supervisor didn’t get leadership training until an age of 42 years old.”

Tailoring the message of safety to young workers is a critical part of safety training since young workers respond differently than older workers given their general inexperience at any workplace.

 

Young Workers: Accident Prevention

Young worker on construction site, selective focus on face

Young workers – defined by Statistics Canada as between 15 to 24 years old – and new workers – those either starting a second career or new Canadians who have less than six months on the job or are new to a task– are the most likely to be involved in an accident on a construction site.

In 2010, 31,000 young workers suffered injuries at work and most tragically, 23 young people were killed at work. Every hour of every single day in Canada, 4 or 5 young workers are injured at work, badly enough to book off.

Between 2006 and 2010, 34 young workers died in work-related incidents, according to Ontario Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) statistics. During the same time period, more than 46,000 young workers received injuries resulting in lost time at work.

There are many reasons for this ranging from inexperience, poor training, and inadequate supervision to the inherent nature of the workers themselves who may be either more risk tolerant or be more likely to accept and bear risk because they wanted acceptance.

Accident Prevention

Preventing accidents among this demographic requires a combination of approaches which blend technology-driven training programs with face-to-face mentoring. It must also address the leadership training of direct field supervisors and the behavioural nature of young people.

These concepts are:

  • Knowledge (training, orientation, legal)
  • Leadership (transformational leadership through training)
  • Culture (everyone is responsible for safety, everyone goes home)
  • Empowerment (the right to say no, the right to ask questions without fear)

Among the best practices identified (above and beyond legal requirements for orientation, training and certification):

  • An onsite mentoring program which identifies new workers with a “green hand sticker” and volunteer experienced workers with a “gold hand” sticker (CSABC) where young workers are not stigmatized for asking questions and are not offended when experienced workers step in to offer instruction.
  • A program to train supervisors in leadership in contrast to management.
  • A concept to train supervisors to recognize higher risk personality traits and to work with groups to contain and mitigate those tendencies.
  • An online program which identifies risks associated with a particular job task or construction sector which then walks the trainee through them and requires them to answer questions to demonstrate learning.
  • Trades-led and school-partnered internship training programs in high schools which identify students thinking about careers in construction and begin with safety training programs (Ontario, Alberta, BC).
  • Specific young worker and new worker orientation and training programs.
  • Certificate program recognition for safety related behaviours.
  • Sector specific (roofing, electrical etc.) training programs for targeted workers.

Safety Awareness

Safety awareness is a function of age, experience, training and personality which is mitigated by the effect of knowledge, leadership, culture and empowerment.

Safety training and reinforcement is not only a basic legal requirement in all jurisdictions across Canada, it is also a moral requirement and imperative, as Jeffery Lyth, CRSP, CHSC Safety Advisor/Regional Safety Coordinator at the BCCSA notes, citing the safety sector mantra: “Everyone goes home safely.”

In traveling to China to give presentations at conferences on risks posed by large cohorts of migrant workers he notes:

“Marginalized workers include migrant workers and new and young workers and the risks are higher globally for this group no matter what the culture.”

He argues that the unique combination of the regulatory and insurance agencies in B.C. gives health and safety legislation, investigation and enforcement more power and reach.

All jurisdictions across Canada have minimum basic requirement for worker training. Some are mandatory; few are geared specifically to young workers.

Some have online programs which identify specific hazards and risks associated with specific jobs and jobsites. Some involve certification to establish a baseline of knowledge and awareness.

The Construction Safety Association of Ontario maps out requirements under Section 27 of the Ontario Occupational Health and Safety Act and offers tips:

1) Give the new worker a copy of the company health and safety policy.
2) Explain the project and the worker’s duties.
3) Alert the worker to any hazards on site and the protective measures required.
4) Explain requirements for personal protective equipment.
5) Outline procedures for emergencies and accident reporting.
6) Show the worker where to find first aid kit, fire extinguishers, and other emergency equipment.
7) Introduce the new worker to his or her supervisor.
8) Show the new worker around the site.

 

 

New Changes Will Affect All Ontario Workers

Job Safety Seton Canada

Consultations are underway to draft new Ontario Health and Safety rules which will require all workers covered by the OHSA receive health and safety training as of Jan. 1, 2014.

The Ontario Ministry of Labour is currently seeking input from stakeholders and plans to issue a draft of the new regulations by July and implement them as of the New Year 2014.

The changes are being driven by the 2010 Dean Commission Report, officially known as the Expert Advisory Panel on Occupational Health and Safety and chaired by former cabinet secretary Tony Dean.

Recommendations

The recommendations are more evolutionary than revolutionary but seek to entrench a culture of safety in Ontario workplaces.

One of the recommendations is for every Ontario “worker and supervisor to undergo mandatory information about workplace rights and responsibilities before they start their job.”

It will require every construction worker to have entry-level training on construction site safety, rigorous training standards for working at heights and tougher penalties, especially in high risk tasks where death and injury could result.

Seeking Input for Regulations

Chief Prevention Officer George Gritziotis says he doesn’t expect much in the way of push back or complaints from employers as he seeks their input for the draft regulations.

“The report was a collaborative report,” he said. “And most employers in Ontario probably meet or exceed the standard we are looking at. And we’d like to hear from them too because I want to know what they’re doing that works.”

For those who may fall short, he said, it’ll be more of a fine tuning upgrade, but for those who haven’t got the resources, there will be books and online programs to help them understand their new responsibilities and a path on how to meet them.

The Task Force also noted cost is tantamount on many employers’ minds in these tough times. It said about $220 million from employer’s WSIB premiums is spent on Health and Safety service delivery now and that the suggested changes, including mandatory training, could be accomplished within the existing framework and cost allowances.

“While greater investments would further improve prevention or enforcement, or both, the Panel believes that our recommendations can be fully funded within the current spending allocation,” the report said. “The Panel believes that, if implemented, these changes would support better health and safety outcomes in the workplace and improved value for the investment that employers make in prevention and enforcement.”

Gritziotis couldn’t agree more: “Investing in health and safety tells employees you care. They’re more likely to be more productive and more loyal.”

New Rules will be Retroactive

The new rules would apply to all workplaces covered by the OHSA including industrial plants, construction site, health care, farming and mining.

However, the rules will be retroactive so employers will have a transitional period between July 1, 2013 when the new rules will be published and Jan. 1, 2014 to ensure existing workers and supervisors complete their awareness training.

Supervisors and Workers

The rules will apply to both supervisors and workers and all categories going forward however, those employers who already have a program in place which demonstrably meets or exceeds the new standards and can document their employees have been through it will be “deemed to be in compliance.”

The changes are just the beginning says Gritziotis, the man in charge of putting it all in place.

“Tony Dean’s report made 46 recommendations,” he said. “I consider it the most important kind of change in Canada in Health and Safety because it goes beyond just young workers and we’re saying it is for all workers and supervisors. It’s going to have immediate impact in a positive way.”

New Requirements

New requirements for new training programs regulations will be made under the OHSA.

The proposed new regulation would also include existing provisions currently found in O. Reg. 780/94 (Training Programs). The existing O. Reg. 780/94 would be revoked.

The plan is that new training requirements could be added to this new regulation as they are proposed, approved and made.

In addition, the Ministry proposes to make a consequential amendment to O. Reg. 414/05 (Farming Operations) in order to make the requirements apply to farming operations.

Proposed Minium Rights and responsibilities of workers and supervisors under the OHSA:

Workers must know:

  • Roles of workplace parties, health and safety representatives, and joint health and safety committees
  • Roles of the Ministry of Labour, Workplace Safety and Insurance Board, and Health and Safety partners
  • Hazard recognition
  • Right to be informed of hazards
  • Reference to an employer’s obligations to provide information and instruction to workers about controlled products as required under Regulation 860 (WHMIS) of the OHSA
  • Latency and illness related to occupational disease

Supervisor Awareness

  • Rights and responsibilities of workers and supervisors under the OHSA
  • Roles of workplace parties, health and safety representatives, and joint health and safety committees
  • Roles of the Ministry of Labour, Workplace Safety and Insurance Board, and Health and Safety partners
  • Recognition, assessment, control and evaluation of hazards
  • Where resources and assistance are available

Source: Ministry of Labour

Lights, Camera, Safety!

Seton Canada

Television and movie production is a vibrant industry in Ontario and health and safety is always in the spotlight.

Like any job site, TV and movie sets have their own share of dangers.

Making them safe is the prime directive of crews and producers alike.

It’s something to think about when those Oscars are awarded Feb. 24 because they all came from a production shot on sets and locations somewhere and every one of those shoots was set up with health and safety top of mind.

There’s additional pressure because an incident means a production will be shut down for the duration of the Ministry of Labour investigation, and in the movie business, time is always money. Crews and talent are contracted for a specified time period and any delays could risk the outcome of the entire project.

On set risks include:

  • working from heights
  • suspended objects like lights
  • electrical wiring
  • cables
  • ladders
  • platforms
  • lifting accidents
  • trucks
  • and sometimes more exotic issues such as explosives and firearms used in special effects

The National Association of Broadcast Employees and Technicians (NABET700CEP in Toronto)  represents crews on sets. Some are also represented by other unions such as the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IASTE Local 58 in Toronto). All stakeholders, including ACTRA, sit with Canadian Media Production Association (CMPA) as reps on a Ministry of Labour Ontario Section 21 Heath and Safety committee.

NABET 700 Business Agent, Jayson Mosek says there’s a good working relationship on the committee because everyone realizes the nature of their task and how important safety is on set.

“We really just check the politics at the door of these meetings,” he said.

There are also a special set of rules under the MOL governing film and TV production because it is a unique workplace, says Mosek.

They consist of 43 guidelines covering everything from working with explosives, child performers on set, helicopters, underwater stunts to hair and make up.

“I think the MOL acknowledges it is in fact a different world,” he said. “And they also acknowledge the industry has done a fairly good job of taking care of itself and regulating itself for a number of years.”

The guidelines also cover non-union productions and as always they’re a set of rules and guidelines which set minimum standards for safety on set.

In movies generally special effects and stunts, are among the highest risk activities accounting for about half the incidents thought Toronto hasn’t had issues. When shows call for the use of explosives and firearms, the rules and regulations are so tight and scripted – and the briefings intense and structured to leave nothing to chance.

One of the unique challenges is that almost everyone on set is a freelance worker. Whether they’re a grip, a stunt performer, actor, director or camera operator, they’re usually self employed and swing from one production to the next.

“These productions also roll in and roll out a pace as well so it’s not realistic to give safety training under OSHA or WMISS because they aren’t employees,” Mosek said. The result is the unions pick up a lot of the load for safety training of their members.

As usual on any job site, there’s the start of shift safety talk, outlining what the day’s jobs are going to entail, what stunts may be set up and executed, what lighting is going to be suspended and what set up and tear downs will be needed, all with a reference to safety.

But, he said, the standard bugaboo of every jobs site reigns supreme: Slips and falls.

“Honestly though the biggest issues are the basic slip and fall, whether it’s icy paths or the stairs to the craft truck (food and refreshments) or the honey wagon (restrooms).

 

 

 

Mining Safety Blitz Aims To Clear The Air

Mining Safety

Ontario Ministry of Labour inspectors will launch a safety blitz in underground mines across the provinces focusing on new ventilation and air quality rules in January 2013.

The issue is the operation of diesel equipment in underground mines and the long term health effects of exhaust with new regulations following a trend to lower levels C02 being permissible and keeping Ontario at the cutting edge of mining standards.

“New regulations came into effect Jan. 2012 and so we’re going to check compliance,” said Glenn Staskus, a provincial mining specialist in the MOL mining program.

The MOL is concerned with “low ventilation volumes resulting from the inadequate supply and maintenance of mechanical ventilation systems.”

About 35 underground mines will be targeted over January and February.

Inspectors will also check that diesel equipment used for underground transportation of workers, materials and blasting of rock is being maintained as prescribed.

“The new regulations lower the exposure limits for levels for carbon monoxide and total carbon particulate,” he said. “And part of the change requires developing a testing measure protocol in conjunction with each Health and Safety Committee at each mine.”

Inspectors will be looking to see that testing protocols are in place, that they’ve been implemented after discussions with Health and Safety representatives and that both the tail pipe emissions and ambient air quality have been tested and tracked to ensure they conform to minimum standards.

While particulate traps aren’t required on diesel powered mining equipment, tail pipe emission must be no more than 600 ppm by volume of carbon monoxide down dramatically from the previous standard of 1,500 ppm.

The rules require “regular testing” of tail pipe emissions which is defined as “in accordance with manufacturers’ recommendations” said Staskus adding that ambient air must be tested and recorded for both carbon and dust.

In areas where diesel equipment is in operation, air flow must be at least 0.06 cubic metres per second for each kilowatt of power the machinery generates.

“They also have to test ambient air to ensure that total carbon is no more than 0.4 milligrams per cubic metre of air,” he said.

The latter is a new regulation in addition to air-dust levels which must also conform to standards.

“There’s a long term concern about exposure to diesel exhaust so they’ve added carbon levels too,” he said.

Inspectors will blitz underground mining workplaces across Ontario.

They will check that workplace parties are complying with recent amendments to diesel provisions of the Regulation for Mines and Mining Plants (R.R.O. 1990, Regulation 854) under the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA).

Priority Areas (Source MOL)

Inspectors will focus on the following key priorities:

  1. Committee Consultation: Inspectors will check that employers have developed and implemented testing measures and procedures for diesel equipment, in consultation with the Joint Health and Safety Committee or health and safety representative. Section 183.2(1.1)
  1. Diesel Equipment:  Inspectors will check that equipment used for underground transportation of workers and materials is being regularly tested to meet the required limit for carbon monoxide emissions.182.(5)
  1. Workplace Air Sampling: Inspectors will check that employers are regularly testing the air in underground mines to ensure exposure to toxic airborne substances do not exceed the prescribed limits. Section 183.1(5).

Link to Regulation 854 for Mines and Mining Plants

http://www.e-laws.gov.on.ca/html/regs/english/elaws_regs_900854_e.htm

Mining Safety Blitzes

Mining Safety Blitz

Dwayne Plamondon of Workplace Safety North believes there is a special bond among miners.

“It’s like a family underground,” he said.

And to help keep this family safe, for the past six weeks Ontario mining inspectors have been conducting safety blitzes and checking on two specific systems used to transfer ore inside underground mines.

The systems are the:

  • “Ore pass” (vertical or inclined passage used for the downward transfer of ore)
  • “Loading pocket” (chamber excavated in the rock at the base of an ore pass where rock is stored)

According to the Ministry of Labour these are the most hazardous of any ore transfer system.

The safety blitzes “are designed to raise awareness and increase compliance with health and safety legislation.”

While even a single dangerous incident is one too many, the fact is that Ontario’s mining safety record is good, says Jerry Wedzicha, an electrical-mechanical specialist with the Ontario Ministry of Labour in Sudbury.

“Underground, there’s a network of systems for moving materials from the rock face,” Wedzicha said. “Usually it’s sent to a loading pocket which is a vertical hole from one level to another and then there’s a gate which is opened to allow the material to fall by gravity to a conveyor which then takes it up and out and away (usually to the mill for processing).”

The ore pass is downward sloping passage where the blasted or extracted face material falls to the loading pocket, he said.

“(Both) can get jammed with material so sometimes they put a little water on it to loosen to flow,” he said. “But too much water and it all becomes loose and flows like liquid and you have an avalanche which is uncontrolled.”

This is called a “run-of-muck” incident and accounted for 10% of mine fatalities from 1970 to 2012 according to Ministry of Labour statistics.

One of the more recent “run-of-muck” incidents incurred in 2011.

It’s important for there to be good drainage in these two areas so that water doesn’t accumulate and cause an avalanche or run of muck. It’s also important for operators in the area controlling the gate at the loading pocket to not only protected from the material but also to have an escape path should things go wrong.

“Also if anyone is working in the bottom of the loading pocket, mucking out the debris and fine material, all work has to stop because you are putting them at risk,” he said.

“Things like signage are important and communication is also important,” said Plamondon of Workplace Safety. “At the start of every shift there should be a huddle with the supervisor and the workers to go over what is going on during their shift so they are aware and what happened in the last shift. They always start with a discussion around Health and Safety. There’s also a meeting at the end of the shift to report back so there next shift coming in knows of any issues.”

He said there are different protocols used by mines such SAFE:

See It
Assess It
Fix It
Evaluate it

“They all work if they are followed,” he said.

 

Mining Safety Blitzes

Mining Safety Blitz

Dwayne Plamondon of Workplace Safety North believes there is a special bond among miners.

“It’s like a family underground,” he said.

And to help keep this family safe, for the past six weeks Ontario mining inspectors have been conducting safety blitzes and checking on two specific systems used to transfer ore inside underground mines.

The systems are the:

  • “Ore pass” (vertical or inclined passage used for the downward transfer of ore)
  • “Loading pocket” (chamber excavated in the rock at the base of an ore pass where rock is stored)

According to the Ministry of Labour these are the most hazardous of any ore transfer system.

The safety blitzes “are designed to raise awareness and increase compliance with health and safety legislation.”

While even a single dangerous incident is one too many, the fact is that Ontario’s mining safety record is good, says Jerry Wedzicha, an electrical-mechanical specialist with the Ontario Ministry of Labour in Sudbury.

“Underground, there’s a network of systems for moving materials from the rock face,” Wedzicha said. “Usually it’s sent to a loading pocket which is a vertical hole from one level to another and then there’s a gate which is opened to allow the material to fall by gravity to a conveyor which then takes it up and out and away (usually to the mill for processing).”

The ore pass is downward sloping passage where the blasted or extracted face material falls to the loading pocket, he said.

“(Both) can get jammed with material so sometimes they put a little water on it to loosen to flow,” he said. “But too much water and it all becomes loose and flows like liquid and you have an avalanche which is uncontrolled.”

This is called a “run-of-muck” incident and accounted for 10% of mine fatalities from 1970 to 2012 according to Ministry of Labour statistics.

One of the more recent “run-of-muck” incidents incurred in 2011.

It’s important for there to be good drainage in these two areas so that water doesn’t accumulate and cause an avalanche or run of muck. It’s also important for operators in the area controlling the gate at the loading pocket to not only protected from the material but also to have an escape path should things go wrong.

“Also if anyone is working in the bottom of the loading pocket, mucking out the debris and fine material, all work has to stop because you are putting them at risk,” he said.

“Things like signage are important and communication is also important,” said Plamondon of Workplace Safety. “At the start of every shift there should be a huddle with the supervisor and the workers to go over what is going on during their shift so they are aware and what happened in the last shift. They always start with a discussion around Health and Safety. There’s also a meeting at the end of the shift to report back so there next shift coming in knows of any issues.”

He said there are different protocols used by mines such SAFE:

See It
Assess It
Fix It
Evaluate it

“They all work if they are followed,” he said.

 

When Disaster Strikes, Safety Still Tantamount

Seton Canada

The recent death of a veteran Hydro worker in Sarnia, Ont. is a tragic reminder of the dangers workers can face in the aftermath of a disaster.

The worker was electrocuted while repairing downed power lines knocked out by Hurricane Sandy.

This is the kind of tragedy that keeps safety managers up at night. No one wants to have to tell someone’s family that a worker won’t be coming home again.

Natural disasters not only cause panic and fear, they also pose elevated risks to workers.

The hazards are both apparent and hidden: With great devastation all kinds of materials are strewn for miles and they may contain toxins such as mercury, lead or asbestos.

At the same time, public infrastructure is also broken open with raw sewage and mixed with floodwaters. There are also inherent dangers from the carcasses of small animals and human victims.

Additionally, the adrenaline-driven urge to save lives often prompts volunteers, and even professional rescuers, to take risks they would not ordinarily take.

When disaster strikes, the key fundamentals of safety should always be top of mind, says Relief 2.0, an international collaborative disaster recovery agency of volunteers and partner organizations which promotes efficient disaster response.

No matter how heroic their actions, rescue and relief crews must always maintain safety protocol. That means wearing…

  • Masks – N95 grade or higher with ample re-supply
  • Activated carbon or charcoal based masks should be a consideration
  • Waterproof and durable gloves
  • Approved eye protection that must also be worn at all times

Based on experience – noting a 10 minute assigned task can turn into a three hour ordeal – Relief 2.0 recommends each person carry a small backpack or fanny pack with…

  • Three to five protein bars
  • A fully charged communication device and one that works on location, remembering cell phone service is often knocked out at natural disaster scenes
  • A flashlight
  • Topical antibiotics
  • Painkillers
  • Disinfecting wipes
  • 16 to 32 ounces of water.

“Remember, if you are not safe, you will not be able to provide support or assistance to anyone and may end up becoming a burden yourself,” the group advises.

 

Business Disaster Planning Starts With Safety

Business Disaster Planning Starts with Personal Safety

Tsunami warnings, earthquakes, hurricanes, and floods – the True North Strong and Free has been through a lot recently.

It’s a reminder that disaster can strike at any time. Sometimes it’s natural and other times it’s human caused, like theft, sabotage or error. And every business is vulnerable.

So why do some businesses bounce back and others go under? Some of it is luck. After all, you can’t control a storm’s path or where lightening will strike. But some of it – a lot of it – comes down to planning. And a lot of businesses fall way short.

There are some basics to cover in disaster planning, including essentials like:

  • protecting data
  • shifting operations to a remote location
  • securing inventory from further damage

But one trumps all others: personnel safety. And it’s not just the right thing to do, it’s the law.

Decision makers who ignore or gloss over red flags which later prove to be early warning signs of a catastrophic event could find themselves being held criminal liable for injuries and fatalities.

In any disaster, when the dust settles and the lights get switched back on again, you should ask of yourself and your team what you learned, what worked, what didn’t, and what you’d do differently.  If things have gone poorly, you will be judged against:

  • What you knew
  • When you knew it
  • What actions you took to protect your employees (in other words, did you take the right actions)
  • When did you take those actions?  (did you take those actions at the right time)

Effective disaster planning means taking time to sit down and actually think through a variety of disaster scenarios and what would need to happen in order to keep your workers safe.

It also means ensuring you have the correct disaster preparedness products on hand at all times since disasters are rarely scheduled events.

It’s best to work in a team and to encourage each other to challenge assumptions. In fact, it’s critical.

The City of Richmond BC advises that a good plan is prepared ahead of time and updated at least annually.

Your plan should address employee safety and basic survival first, followed by:

  • emergency operating and financial procedures,
  • communications
  • transportation
  • alternative office facilities
  • alternate data processing arrangements.

As well, you should have emergency kits on hand filled with:

  • Water
  • First aid supplies
  • Radios
  • Flashlights
  • Batteries
  • Heavy gloves
  • Food
  • Sanitation supplies

All of which should be in “secure, accessible locations.”

Communicating the plan to employees on a regular basis is essential. Everyone must also know where the plan is located and there should be hard copies of the plan easily accessible in case power and computers are knocked offline.

All equipment, whether on the plant floor, in the offices, warehouse, job site or house should be secured and anchored to prevent it toppling onto workers and causing secondary casualties.

While most workplace safety jurisdictions demand it, employers and employees should know what hazardous materials are on hand  in case the event exposes them or others to it in large quantities. Everyone should also be trained in basic first aid and CPR and know their evacuation routes. The kits should be properly marked to been seen during power outages.

And while it may seem outside of your responsibilities, it is in the best interests of the company to encourage your workers to have their own disaster plan for their families. No one can work effectively trying to help the business recover if their own families have been hurt or the state of their well-being is unknown.

A plan can’t prevent disaster but it can save lives and livelihoods – if and only if it’s in place and everyone knows how to use it.