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).
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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