A Woman’s Work Isn’t Always Safe!

Seton Canada

Women now outnumber men in Canada’s national workforce. But, when it comes to construction and mining it is still predominantly male, even though women recruits are on the rise.

The Canadian Construction Sector Council predicts that between 2011 and 2019, Canada’s construction industry will face a shortfall of skilled workers and will need to recruit 320,000 new workers. To meet this demand, one of the main focuses is on recruiting women.

The responsibility to ensure that worksites are safe for men and women falls on the shoulders of management. Sadly, many of the resources management relies on include safety data that is biased, under represents women and ignores that women’s workplace experiences are significantly different from that of men – physically, biologically and socially.

Creating a work safe environment for women starts with strong leadership by employers and management. Without a solid infrastructure to support communication and teamwork, women are more likely to experience harassment, may choose to not report hazards for fear of bullying and may not ask for help in fear of appearing “weak.”

A lack of onsite washroom facilities is an issue recognized by the United Steelworkers Union. Women who work with hazardous chemicals often have nowhere to remove dangerous chemical residue or discard soiled clothes, needlessly putting female workers at higher risk.

Identifying and mitigating most hazards are second nature to managers and seasoned workers. The next step is knowing whether the hazards affect female workers differently than males and ensuring everyone is trained and protected.

Some great resources to get you started:

  • Women Building Futures is an Alberta-based not-for-profit organization dedicated to training women and serving as a resource for employers. WBF supplies skilled female labourers and employer workshops focusing on best practices. http://www.womenbuildingfutures.com/
  • For more information on Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) that fits the needs of your diverse workforce, Seton.ca can help you. Please contact Marie-Claude Beaudry @ marie-claude_beaudry@seton.com  or call 1-800-891-5716 ext. 2351


Seton on HGTV

Job Safety

We’re excited about a recent episode of HGTV’s Income Property for a couple of reasons. Not only is it a great show (it just won “Best Lifestyle Program or Series” prize at the Canadian Screen Awards!) but HGTV reached out to Seton Canada and asked us to provide them with the 3M Safety Roofer Kits that we sell.

The Safety Roof Kits are no stranger to Income Property. They were previously featured on a recent episode.

Income Property is one of Canada’s most popular home renovation shows , and its host, Scott McGillivary, is a full-time real estate investor, writer, educator, and, contractor. As a contractor, he has a responsibility to keep himself, his workers and the homeowners on site during the renovations safe.

Investing in a roofer’s safety kit is smart, especially if you’re working on a project that requires any length of time at heights. Injury rates in the residential construction industry are persistently high, more so than in commercial construction. Even though construction is taking place on a smaller scale, whether building a new home or renovating, falls are still the number one accident and workers need to be prepared.

On Income Property’s episode “Marli & Toby” being prepared was part of the safety strategy behind hauling a fridge to the second floor via an open balcony. If the fridge had given way, everyone on the ledge would have been at risk of serious injury. The segment with the SafeLight harness demonstrated that being tethered to a roof anchor is a simple process that keeps workers safe without getting in the way of the job.

Obviously, the harness is only one part of the personal fall system. Every part of the kit is important and works together to keep workers safe. Each kit is complete with a SafeLight Harness, D-ring, rope grab, Anti-Panic CSA 3’ lanyard, roof anchors, lifeline and storage bucket.

In the episode, Scott demonstrates how to use the Safety Roofer’s Kit and offers these pointers (remember to always check the manufacturer’s manual).

Once the harness is adjusted to a snug fit:

1.    Locate the roof anchor and do not work more than four feet to the side of it.
2.    Roof anchors should be mounted no closer than six feet from the edge of the roof.
3.    The rope grab will minimize slack on the rope between you and the roof anchor. Make sure rope is passing through the rope grab in the right direction.
4.    Think about where you could swing in the event of a fall & make sure the lifeline will not be in contact with steel edges or glass.
5.     If you must wash your kit, use gentle soap or detergent, warm water and be sure to thoroughly dry and lubricate all mechanical devices with mineral oil.

If you missed the episode of  Income Property that featured the Safety Roofer’s Kit, HGTV will likely rerun the episode “Dan & Tania”.  Please check your local TV listings.

If you want more information on the Safety Roofer’s Kit, please contact Marie-Claude Beaudry  @ marie-claude_beaudry@seton.com  or call 1-800-891-5716 ext. 2351

Don’t forget, you can leave a comment below if you have any tips on how to stay safe while working at heights.




Safety Signs Keep Workers Safe

Safety signs aren’t posted in the workplace just to look pretty. Their location and content are there to keep workers safe. Not taking the time to post safety signs visibly and in the correct locations could spell disaster for your employees and serious consequences for you. The law requires you to train your workers on all identification systems you use.  Here are a few basic tips that will make sure your workers spot the safety signs.


Each province has its rules. The best place to start is to understand your province’s Occupational Health & Safety Act in addition to WHMIS for what your legal requirements are.


While there is no legislation requiring the use of colour in the workplace, colour provides a clear indicator of a potential hazard or hazardous material. Remember, colours have meanings that aren’t consistent across the board.


Think of a stoplight when considering hazard signs: Red indicates STOP, a definite hazard, Yellow indicates caution, a potential hazard, and Green indicates safe conditions.


When dealing with pipes: Red indicates fire-quenching materials, Green indicates non-hazardous liquids, Blue indicates non-hazardous gases and Yellow indicates materials that are hazardous by nature.


As mentioned, pipes could contain hazardous materials so mark them with appropriate coloured pipe markers and use WHMIS symbols if it is a controlled product.


Use text signs only when there is no appropriate symbol available. Visual cues (such as colour, shape and symbols) communicate without a language barrier. If you must use text, keep it simple, bold and never use cursive handwriting.


Like a piece of fine art hanging in a gallery, signs need to be visible, away from clutter and obstructions and, of course, well lit so workers can see the warning and the hazard.


Never use more than 3 symbols in the same location.


Arrows or directional signs should not only be posted wherever the direction isn’t obvious but also posted at eye level for everyone to see


Keep signs in good condition, change confusing signs, replace worn or out-dated signs. Make sure there are no sharp corners or splinters.

Grammy Awards Are A Safe Bet

Job SafetyIt has a global audience of billions and hundreds of crewmen working around the clock to make The Grammy Awards the most lavish night honouring the music industry.

Go behind the scenes and it’s job safety that should take top honours at the Grammy Awards every year and for very good reason!

Most live theatrical productions aren’t seen as being a venue where the safety of workers could be threatened. In British Columbia, the hazard rating for theatres often sits at “C”, representing any condition or practice with a probable potential for causing a non-disabling injury or non-disruptive property damage. In plain English, it’s not terribly dangerous and you probably won’t have any life threatening injuries working there. However, when a large-scale event, such as The Grammys, is produced, the hazard rating escalates to “B”, representing the likelihood of conditions or practices with the potential for causing a serious injury, illness of property damage. Meaning, put safety first or else you could hurt someone very badly.

The thing about The Grammys is that it’s a once a year event. Therefore, the majority of sets, the lighting, audio and crew are temporary. Up one day and gone the next. Because much of the equipment and labour aren’t native to the venue, there’s a greater than normal chance that something could go wrong.

The technical producer is often the person in charge of overseeing safety. They ensure the bulletin board with the call sheets has information where to locate First Aid and meetings to advise crew and talent on potential hazards. The technical producer will also rely on crews that arrive on behalf of the lighting or audio equipment companies to install and ensure the rigging is secure. When a show is in production, one video wall suspended above the stage could weigh as much as 1500lbs.

In Canada, basic safety standards for theatre fall under provincial jurisdictions, and much of those rules are derived from the same workplace safety rules that all workplaces subscribe to. Luckily most provinces have documents that outline the rules and how they apply to theatre. British Columbia has ActSafe, Alberta has Safe Stages and Ontario has the Ministry of Labour, Performance Industry. This is where technical directors can go to find the most up to date information with tips to keep worker’s safe.

The most unique aspect of safety on a theatrical production lies in the dark. When a show is on, backstage has very little to no lighting for the crew. In order to prevent disabling falls, common best practices include:

  • glow tape on stairs
  • walkways taped off to ensure they are kept clear
  •  cables covered in mats

Exit signs are also critical when it comes to safety and should be clearly identifiable and clearly marked. They should swing in the direction of exit travel and must be kept clear at all times.

Obviously, with any event in the music industry, sound levels are crucial to consider because long exposure can result in hearing loss. A live concert could be as loud as 160 decibels, which is often double what is legislated as being safe.

According to the Ontario Ministry of Labour, no worker should be exposed to levels louder than 100 decibels for more than 15 minutes. With audio crews working in the environment for 8-14 hour days, some industry practices include having earplugs on hand, ensuring minors aren’t exposed and that performers use in-ear monitors to reduce noise levels and increase clarity.

When it comes down to safety at large, one-night only events such as The Grammys, safety is a careful production. While the technical producer often oversees the overall safety big picture, it is mutual trust among the crew that ensures that rigging is secure and laneways are clear. Because when it comes down to it, people might say “Break a leg” before a big show, but no one actually wants that to happen!

Workplace Safety: First Aid and CPR Training

Seton Canada

The odds of somebody dying or being severely injured on your jobsite decrease with every person who knows first aid. How much? You could reduce the chance of death and the severity of someone’s injury by as much as 50%.

And the chances of surviving a heart attack are four times greater if someone on your jobsite knows CPR.  If your worksite has a defibrillator, survival rates improve by 75%.

For every minute that ticks by without help, chances of survival drop by 7 – 11%.

In these life or death situations, time is of the essence. Even something like the distance between the injured or ill person to the nearest trained individual and the proximity to the closest First Aid facilities can determine whether a worker will be going home that night – or at all.

This is why First Aid & CPR training is mandatory for employees in the workplace.   It’s also why it’s mandated that no First Aid station should be more than 2 minutes away from anyone at any time. And it’s why all employees need to know where every station is located.

It’s particularly important in construction, where outdoor jobsites are often poorly marked, increasing EMS response times and decreasing an injured worker’s chance for survival.  In Toronto it takes about 8.56 minutes for an Ambulance to arrive, in Manitoba, it’s 15 minutes in urban centres – and that is for a well-marked location.

Something as simple as clear, effective outdoor sign identifying a jobsite could literally be a lifesaver.

Between 2008-2010 there were 700 recorded deaths in Canada’s construction industry. According to the Association of Workers’ Compensation Board of Canada (AWCBC) that accounts for 23.3% of all workplace fatalities in Canada.

No matter how many safety precautions are in place, accidents are bound to happen. In 2012, there were 31,042 workplace injuries sustained by workers at Canadian construction sites. That roughly works out to about 24.5 injuries for every 1000 employees.

The WSIB provides invaluable information on First Aid Requirements.

Studies show that First Aid training in conjunction with workplace safety training has the potential to result in a 20% drop in onsite injuries. A reduction in injured workers brings with it an increased confidence among your team and better productivity.

And then there’s the economic burden due to workplace slip and fall accidents. The cost to Canadians was over $6 million dollars in health care and social services. That doesn’t include the additional costs employers have to pay in order to recover from the loss of an injured worker such as retraining temporary workers, repairing any onsite damage, paying fines, reeling from a loss of productivity or increased premiums.

To protect yourself and your workers:

  • know the federal and provincial requirements for onsite First Aid. Make First Aid Training apart of standard safety training and keep a list of all trained workers and their certification expiry on hand.
  • encourage all employees to download a First Aid app on their mobile devices for instant information on how to handle emergencies.
  • make sure your jobsite is well marked with clear and appropriate signage so that EMS can find it when you need them to.

Remember, in an emergency there’s no time to waste. Equipping your employees with the First Aid materials and training they need may well save a life and protect workers – and the company – from terrible loss and pain.



How WWI Is Responsible For Modern PPE

How WWI is responsible for Modern PPE
We owe our veterans so much. They safeguarded freedoms we take for granted and profoundly shaped the world as we know it. As Remembrance Day approaches, we remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice.

But did you know that the contributions of our veterans can not only be felt in their sacrifices for Canada’s efforts in peace and freedom, but also in the innovations they brought to the workplace?

It was these innovations that kept our veterans safe in the trenches during World War I and that later influenced modern day personal protective equipment (PPE).

The concept of PPE is a relatively recent idea. As far as the government’s priorities on worker safety in the late 19th century and early 20th century were concerned, it centered mostly on worker’s compensation. The belief was that hazards in high-risk trades such as mining and construction were unavoidable. Essentially, workers had to rely on their colleagues to not kick a hammer off of the ledge above them or on their ability to get out of the way quickly if that happened. Needless to say, injury on the job was obscenely high and the cost to employers at this time was relatively low.

Eye protection is one of the earliest forms of PPE to be adopted in the workplace. Like most safety gear, it wasn’t commonplace. However, goggles were frequently used by pilots in World War I to protect their eyes from debris at high altitudes. What worked while flying airplanes also worked when avoiding debris on the job.

A particularly fascinating story is the creation of the hardhat: It was developed by E.W. Bullard, a young American soldier, who patented the “Hard Boiled Helmet” in 1919. Originally made from steamed canvas, glue and black paint, this rigid helmet was developed for the mining industry and based on the steel helmet he wore as a soldier. Effective in protecting workers from falling blunt objects, it was quickly adopted for use in US Naval yards and in the construction of the Golden Gate Bridge. By 1948, Canada adopted their first standards for hardhats.

The discovery of neutralizing agents suitable for air-purifying respirators came through tragedy. During World War I, German forces deployed 168 tons of chlorine gas in the first use of chemical warfare. Over 6,000 troops fell within 10 minutes, leaving only the Canadian reserves with their makeshift respirators made from urine soaked cloths. The ammonia neutralized the chlorine while the water dissolved it, and this was the first recorded response and defense against harmful chemicals. Now respirators are commonplace protecting workers from paint fumes to dust particles.

In the modern workplace, hard hats are made of strong high-density polyethylene (HDPE) and feature a suspension that provides an extra cushion of protection; respirators are mechanically assisted with cartridges, and eye protection comes in every variety of shape and sizes. We wouldn’t necessarily have this technology if it weren’t for our returning veterans sharing the tools they relied on to keep them safe.

Job Safety Apps Make Life Easier

Safety Apps

Looking for a new tool to add to your job safety toolbox? Try your mobile phone.

With the number of apps in Apple’s AppStore quickly approaching 1 million and Android doing its best to catch up, mobile devices have transcended the basic telephone to quickly become a versatile, pocket assistant.

Even if you don’t personally use them, you need to keep up with what job safety apps are out there. Why? Project Managers swear by them and young workers were practically issued smart phones at birth. Knowing what tools make their jobs safer makes your life easier and the jobsite a more productive place.

We’ll do a round up on can’t-live-without-job-safety-apps from time to time but here are a few to get you started:

1.  Safety Observation by Health Safety Works Pty Ltd – FREE

This app allows staff, contractors or anyone else on a worksite to record details of any unsafe observation encountered in the field. It then reports the hazard to a preferred contact. The app also provides information on how to fix the problem and how to stop it from happening again.


2.  First Aid by American Red Cross – FREE (Android and iPhone)

It doesn’t hurt to have a first aid manual always in arms reach. Accidents  happen! This app features Red Cross approved videos, interactive quizzes and  simple step by step advice for instant information on how to handle first  aid emergencies.


3. Crane & Rigger by Crane & Rigger Applications – FREE

This is a useful app for construction workers that provides capacity charts on rigging items, calculate common rigging and load formulas and more. It’s missing timber & beam loading charts but otherwise, it’s a fairly useful app for quick reference. The basic app is free with add on features priced separately.


4. The Workplace Safety North (WSN) News App – FREE

This app was created to guide participants through their annual Mining  Health and Safety conference with a list of speakers, sessions and trade  show information. However, the Ministry of Labour is diligent in updating  the app twice a week with news of hazard alerts, legislation changes, events  and webinars.


5. WorkSafeBC OHS Regulation by WorkSafeBC.com – FREE

This mobile app allows users to search and browse the OHS Regulations, Prevention Policies, OHS Guidelines, and WCB Standards. A scaled down app in comparison to some of the others on the list, but it is a useful reference for BC workers who need access to OHS information.


Have a safety app you can’t live without? Let us know. We’ll try and feature it in a future app roundup.

Workplace Safety: Zombie Attack!

Job Safety

Zombies. They’re everywhere and let’s face it, they’re not easy to manage. They’re immortal, what with being dead and all, and sometimes they can be a bad influence on others in the workplace.

Even if it weren’t for their gashed faces and green skin, you can tell a zombie by what they do on site.

Five sure signs of zombie work habits are:

  • Taking unnecessary risks
  • Lacking the capacity to think and problem solve
  • Not wearing their PPE
  • Ignoring common safety hazards
  • Cutting corners and rushing through a job

So how do we contain the infection and stop the zombie worker force from spreading?

One of the major problems with young zombie workers is that they can’t really speak and so are sometimes hesitant to ask questions or report safety hazards that would clearly pose a threat to their living workers.

But managers should remember that while the undead possess an insatiable lust for brains, this rather gruesome habit can be modified to improve workplace safety. How? Instead of eating brains have your zombie feed on knowledge. According to the Canadian Zombie Health & Safety Manual, feeding a zombie knowledge helps provide a safe and accident-free workplace.

Since working with at least one or two zombies is unavoidable, it is the responsibility of the living to wear the appropriate personal protective equipment and provide a positive influence on their undead colleagues.

Unless it’s your hope to grow or join their army of the undead – and we’re guessing it’s not – then the best plan is to make sure zombies adhere to the safety precautions outlined in your training. The living should always lead by example, cast an observant eye at all times, be a team player and enforce safety regulations regardless of the motivations of their zombie workmates.

All living workers are potential mentors for the zombie workforce.

Remember, just because the undead have already faced death once in their existence, doesn’t mean they can’t face it again.

First step? Identify the zombies on your worksite. If you observe a co-worker who has unsafe practices that might endanger you or other life-loving workers, do something. If you are a co-worker, approach the issue with your supervisor. They will tackle the issue with the zombie and help to remind them that their failure to observe safety practices is not tolerated in the world of the living.

If you are a supervisor, contain the virus as quickly as possible or it will infect everyone else.

Creating a safe environment is a team objective that will help prevent the zombie virus from spreading.

Oh, and Happy Halloween!

Communication is Key for Workplace Safety

With the age gap between managers and young workers widening, safety in the workplace is no longer just about having the right gear. Communication is key, but it’s not always easy.

Managers came up the ranks with a certain set of expectations made of them along the way. Now in positions of leadership, managers often find themselves unable to reach young workers in the ways their own experience has trained them to manage.

The rift is worrisome – but not insurmountable says team building workshop leader Linda Kash, who is also one of Canada’s most recognizable actresses and a Second City alum. Kash has had memorable roles on blockbuster hits like Seinfeld, Cinderella Man and Waiting for Guffman, but is perhaps best known for her role as The Philadelphia Cream Cheese Angel.

Kash was a surprise guest presenter at the Canadian Society of Safety Engineering (CSSE) 2012 Conference in Niagara Falls, participating in the Seton Canada sponsored Taking the Boring out of Safety Training workshop.

The workshop was a presentation by Professors Cathy Denomme and Deborah Woodman, along with safety expert Patt Marquis, who jumped at the chance to include Kash in their workshop. Kash lead the group through exercises designed to break the ice and open up the lines of communication, something she has done for a variety of organizations.

“There’s often a disconnect between management and their teams,” Kash points out, “Good communication is important… rules and regulations exist for employee safety but it can erode trust.”

Kash recently began leading workshops in the high stakes worlds of construction, mining and manufacturing where poor communication doesn’t just cause tension, it can cost lives. Her main focus is to speak to the disconnect between management and their team. In a one to two-hour workshop, Kash leads exercises that are designed to “make the group feel as a whole and help participants trust their instincts to get along together.”

The idea is that as participants work together through various exercises, they learn important social skill sets and listening skills that cause them to begin interacting as a team without even knowing it at first.

The focus turns from blaming each other to getting the job done. And everyone has fun along the way.

Kash will be guest video blogging from time to time here on the jobsafety.seton.ca website, offering communications and teambuilding tips to help you better engage your workers in the safety message.

Vintage Workplace Safety Posters

RoSPA Vintage Workplace Safety Poster   "Accidents are NOT Casual" Workplace Safety Poster   Vintage Workplace Safety Poster Virginia Department of Labour

Workplace safety is a relatively recent idea. In the early 20th century, for example, Canadians who chose to work in fields such as mining or construction accepted that accidents were apart of the job and workplace safety was basic common sense.

Thankfully, that has changed.

Still essential in the safety landscape today, posters pre-date safety signs. In fact, until laws were passed making signage mandatory to warn workers of the dangers in the workplace, governments, insurance companies and employers were creating awareness building posters to warn workers of the inherent dangers of their jobs.

Seton is very well known for safety signs, which are very different from posters. Safety signs are alerts for potential hazards that compromise workplace safety. Posters often help personalize or contextualize tips through artwork depicting real life settings, slogans and otherwise remind workers how to avoid workplace safety hazards.

Until workplace safety signage was mandatory, governments, advisory councils, employers and insurance companies produced posters to help keep people safe. Today, signs and posters play an important role in helping to keep workers safe.

Here is a collection of retro workplace safety posters from around the world. Some are funny, others are gory, but every one of these posters tells a story of a very different time when workers didn’t always wear safety gear and high heels weren’t always regarded as inappropriate jobsite footwear.

ROSA safety poster   Vintage Workplace Safety Poster   Vintage Workplace Safety Poster - You're Left Out With Hearing Loss

Workplace Safety Poster Vintage - ROSPA   Soviet Accident Poster  circa 1920 Source: http://www.retronaut.co/2011/03/soviet-accident-prevention-posters-c-1920s/Vintage Workplace Safety Posters


The vintage workplace safety posters shown in this post can be found at the following locations on the web:

  1. “Sensible Shoes Protect Your Feet” (Source: Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents)
  2. Accidents are caused NOT CASUAL! Spanish, USA 1960 (Source: Nimins Shop)
  3. “Safety is better than compensation.” 1940 -1975 Commonwealth of Virginia’s Department of Labour and Industry (Source: VirginiaMemory.com)
  4. Beware of the Swarf! 1940. The Royal Society For The Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA). 
     (Source: Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents)
  5. Cables & Hose must be planked over or tied overhead. National Safety Council (Source: Nimin’s Shop)
  6. You’re Left Out With Hearing Loss. 1960 National Safety Council, USA. 
(Source: Vintage Goodness)
  7. “You’re not paid to take risks”  1961 RoSPA (Source: Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents)
  8. “Don’t Walk on Fish” Soviet Russia Accident Prevention Poster. Date unknown. (Source: Retronaut)
  9. “Rescue from Live Wire” National Safety Council (Source: Nimins Shop)