Safety News You Can Use


More than 2,200 safety orders were issued and work was stopped more than 200 times during an Ontario enforcement blitz in late 2015.

The purpose of the blitz was to increase safety compliance when heavy equipment was used on construction sites.

Ontario inspectors issued 2,277 orders for violations of the Occupational Health and Safety Act and its regulations. Included in the violations were 268 orders to stop work due to either heavy equipment, fall protection or excavation violations.

Learn more here.

Steel Company Fined After Worker Injured

A steel company was fined $100,000 after a worker had an amputation as the result of an injury.

A truck driver was standing on the back of a truck, attempting to help load a steel slab onto the truck. When the slab was over the truck’s flatbed, the electromagnet on the crane carrying the slab released the slab unexpectedly.

The slab then fell onto the flatbed, which caused the driver to fall off the truck and onto a concrete floor.  In addition to fractures, the driver suffered an infection, which led to the amputation.

Read more here.

Spring Safety: Protect Workers in the Work Zone


As we begin spring and workers are on the job in outdoor work zones once again, it’s a good time for a refresher on how to stay safe in a work zone. offers a safety checklist workers should review before they begin any projects in an outdoor work zone.

If workers can’t answer “yes” to any question, they need to address their concerns with their employer.

  • Do you understand your organization’s procedures for working safely at the roadside?
  • Are you aware of the hazards associated with your work site?
  • Have you had a safety briefing to review work site hazards?
  • Do you understand the work zone set-up (traffic cones, signs)?
  • Are you familiar with the movements of mobile equipment and work vehicles at your work site?
  • Do you understand your organization’s procedures for working safely around mobile equipment and work vehicles?
  • Are you wearing your high-visibility garment? Is it clean and usable—not torn or faded?
  • Do you require other personal protective equipment (PPE) required for your job activity? If so, are you wearing it?
  • Do you know your escape route in case a vehicle crosses into the work zone?
  • Do you know what to do in case of an emergency incident at your work site?
  • Have you discussed any and all safety concerns with your supervisor?

If you don’t know where your work site will be in advance:

  • Do you have the appropriate traffic warning signs and traffic control devices, such as cones, in your vehicle?
  • Do you understand how to correctly place traffic warning signs and devices?
  • Do you know how to identify and address site-specific hazards once you arrive at your work site?

Prepare your workers for a safe spring and summer. Provide them with this checklist and encourage them to inform you about any concerns they may have.

Safety News You Can Use


WorkSafeNB and CCOHS (Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety) have launched an online guide to New Brunswick’s occupational health and safety legislation.

The guide will include 30 topics and will feature links to a variety of resources, such as interpretations, summaries, legislation, hazard alerts and safety talks. Topics include fall protection, guardrails and confined spaces.

For more information, click here.

Construction Company Fined After Young Worker Death

A construction company was fined $120,000 after a young worker was killed after a fall on a construction site.

The worker initially received head and leg injuries, but later died. It was found that the worker did not receive fall protection training and was not using any type of fall protection when the accident happened.

Another company was also fined in the incident, receiving a fine of $90,000 earlier this year for failing to ensure a fall restricting system was used where a guardrail system was not reasonably possible.

Click here to read more.

Accident Takes Life of Construction Worker

A construction worker was killed after he was trapped under clay and dirt following the collapse of a sewer trench.

Prior to the accident, the worker was digging a trench with a backhoe operator. He was buried for many hours before emergency workers were able to free him.

The accident is under investigation by Alberta’s occupational health and safety authorities.

Click here for more details.

Aging Workers: The Landscape Ahead


Statistics Canada has predicted that by 2021, nearly one out of four in the labour force (roughly 24%) could be 55 years of age or over. While older workers tend to be better at recognizing hazards, they incur more severe consequences and longer recovery times when they do get injured. Repetitive motion issues like musculoskeletal injuries are especially common among older workers. Recent reports have shown that many aging workers are putting off retirement and staying in the work force longer, which could present some of the following health & safety concerns:

  • Strength, range of motion, respiratory, and cardiovascular limitations: Older workers tend to have decreased capacity in these areas, which may restrict physical capabilities or contribute to injury and illness if limitations are not recognized.
  • Slips, trips & falls: Accidents related to loss of balance and posture tend to occur more often with age. Tasks involving the following should be reserved for younger workers: joint movements at extreme angles, slippery or unstable surfaces, unexpected bumps or shocks.
  • Sleep & body temperature regulation: The body’s decreased ability to regulate sleep and internal temperatures can present safety risks if older workers are scheduled to work at night or in extreme temperatures.
  • Vision & hearing changes: Older workers face higher risk of injury due to difficulty seeing and hearing in certain conditions.
  • Cognitive functioning: As mental capacity decreases with age, so do learning, thinking, and reaction speeds. However, what older workers lack in speed, they make up for in experience and expertise!

To learn more about specific health and safety needs for an aging workforce, take a look at this article from IHSA Magazine.

When baby boomers do begin to retire, replacing them with new workers comes with a whole different set of challenges. Construction, trucking, and electricity & renewable energy industries are expected to grow significantly in Canada in coming years, which could present as many setbacks as opportunities. The cost of training new workers can be high, and statistics show that their lack of experience and discretion leads to frequent hand and eye injuries.

Whether your facility is facing one or both of these scenarios, remember to make safety and compliance the priority. Ensure that each and every worker, regardless of age, is properly trained and suited for his or her position, and make adjustments where necessary.

Feeling Okay? Learn More About Occupational Diseases


The Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) defines occupational illness as a condition that results from exposure in a workplace to a physical, chemical, or biological agent to the extent that the normal physiological mechanisms are affected. Not to be confused with occupational injuries, which are the result of a trauma, an occupational disease is a chronic ailment that develops over time. In 2011, occupational diseases contributed to 73% of all allowed Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) fatality claims.

Construction site workers are often at increased risk for infectious disease because of exposure to bacteria and viruses from unsanitary jobsite conditions. In order to help avoid things like Salmonella, E. coli, and Hepatitis A, the Occupational Health and Safety Act mandates that workers must have access to toilets and clean-up facilities. During warmer months especially, Lyme disease is an occupational concern for outdoor workers, namely construction and utility workers, utility arborists, and powerline technicians. Occupational cancer is cancer that is caused wholly or partly by exposure to a carcinogen at work, and the most common types are: lung cancer, bladder cancer and mesothelioma.

Familiarize yourself with the materials being used in your facility and how to work safety with and around them. Also, be alert to symptoms or changes in your health, and keep a list of all the jobs and industries in which you have worked.

Forklift Safety: Why Forklift Training Matters


Forklifts are an integral part of industrial work. These vehicles are instrumental in moving, lifting, carrying and delivering load to any point in a facility or site efficiently and safely – that is, if proper equipment is being used correctly.

A forklift is an extremely powerful machine, and it doesn’t take much for damage, injury, or loss of life to occur. With forklift fatalities occurring in almost every industry that deals with manufacturing, construction, mining, or transportation of materials, safety is and should be top priority.

Forklift safety tools such as safety posters and forklift accessories are helpful but only supplemental. A majority of these forklift accidents could have been prevented with proper forklift training, or just simply better training. This is why forklift training and certification is crucial to workplace safety.

Forklift training not only prevents accidents and injuries from happening, they can also benefit your company and the bottom line as well. Here are six more reasons why you should start your forklift training at work today:

It saves time. A trained and skilled operator will know what to do when using a forklift. This confidence from their training will mean they can speed up their work pace and can move heavy inventory faster. This saves time, increases productivity and maximizes the work done per man-hour.

It reduces risks. Forklift training teaches operators on how to safely navigate and operate a forklift, what dangers may arise, and what actions to take if any hazards come up. An untrained operator will not know these things, putting him or her at a higher risk for forklift accidents.

It lowers inventory loss. Inventory can get lost or damage from wrong handling when a  forklift driver does not know how to safely operate the equipment. That is already lost money for your company. It may not seem much, but in the long run, these accumulated loss will be higher compared to the cost of getting your operators trained.

300x300It contributes to machine maintenance. Workers who are trained in forklift handling are also educated on the proper way to take care and maintain the equipment. This includes knowing how to re-fill battery fluid and perform safety and equipment checks, which will in turn reduce costs on equipment repair and service. This will ensure that the machine will always be running at top form, with little or no risks of breakdown during important operation.

It increases productivity. Trained forklift operators will know how to operate the machine properly, which means they will be more efficient and productive. This increases the overall output of your company which can help you stay competitive and stand out from the rest. With more productivity, you can have the option of expanding your business and increasing your profit even further.  

It lessens the risk of machine damage. Repair for damaged forklifts can cost your company a lot of money.  A trained operator will ensure that the machines will not be broken due to mishandling.

Forklift training is vital for any company that puts priority on safety in the workplace. Employers and facility managers such as yourself should ensure all your employees receive adequate training and are aware of these forklift safety do’s and don’ts. Lastly, you need to make sure that your forklift operators are fully licensed and trained to do their jobs safely and effectively.


Connect with Maria Marnelli G. Medina on Google+

Construction Safety Inspection Blitzes

Job Safety Blitz

Slip, trips and falls on level surfaces and falls from heights, particularly in construction, remain the number one cause of critical injuries and fatalities, when the rates of other types of workplace injuries are decreasing more quickly.

In 2011, the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board approved 11,733 compensation claims for lost-time injuries due to incidents in which workers fell while at work. Same level falls resulting from slips and trips account for 65% of all fall-related injuries. Falls from heights account for 34% of fall-related injuries – and many of the work-related deaths that occur in Ontario.

“These workers deserve to be protected from these potential hazards in the workplace,” says Robert W. Landry, provincial Construction Health and Safety specialist with the Occupational Health and Safety Branch of Ontario’s Ministry of Labour.

During February and March, Ontario’s Safe at Work program is stepping up its workplace safety, prevention and enforcement strategy with Inspection Blitzes focusing on the hazards and risks involving slips, trips and falls, and ladder use in the construction and industrial sectors.

“This inspection campaign is to reduce overall lost-time workplace injuries and accidents. It’s an enforcement strategy, a prevention strategy. These fall rates seem to be constant and we’re struggling with that,” Landry says.

Ministry inspectors will randomly visit construction projects that are doing high-risk work and with histories of non-compliance to check that employers, supervisors and workers are complying with Ontario Health and Safety Act requirements and regulations.

Workers can be at risk of falling due to:

  • Poor lighting, slippery surfaces, inadequate “housekeeping” (a messy, cluttered work area) and other such deficient working conditions
  • Missing protective devices (e.g., guardrails)
  • Unguarded openings in floors, work surfaces or walls of buildings or other structures
  • Misused equipment or equipment in poor condition (e.g., ladders, scaffolds, and suspended access equipment)
  • Lack of appropriate personal protective equipment (equipment not available, not used, or misused)
  • Poor work practices (e.g., unclear job procedures, lack of training, or workers rushing to meet deadlines)

Inspectors will be looking for “any evidence of lack of traction” between footwear and surfaces – wet floors, puddles, and oily or icy surfaces. Construction workers must wear suitable CSA-approved footwear – boots, not shoes, which should be “slip-resistant, not worn, not defective, and properly fitting,” Landry says. “Laces should be tied securely, because if they’re not tied, footwear could fall off, or workers could trip. Most important, these boots must be worn at all times on a construction project.”

These inspections, which can take up to two days, go into considerable depth, Landry says. “We know the non-compliant sites and workplaces and our inspectors will want specifics.”

On site, ministry inspectors ask to meet with Project Supervisors, Health and Safety Supervisors, and health and safety worker representatives. They will check minutes of health and safety meetings; ask about fall accidents and how they were addressed.

Inspectors will also be checking to make sure employers are providing safe and appropriate equipment for their workers, as well as safety training, supervision and instruction materials to protect their workers’ health and safety on the job.

In order to check a worker’s safety competency, inspectors may ask them to demonstrate their knowledge on:

  • How to recognize, assess, and control fall hazards
  • The application of the right controls, including effective fall prevention and fall protection methods (Employers must also provide hands-on training that is equipment- and application-specific.)
  • Proficiency in the safe and proper use of personal fall prevention and fall protection systems and their components – travel restraint, fall restricting, fall arrest systems or safety nets. Workers must be competent and have the skills and expertise to select, inspect, set-up, and use appropriate fall prevention and fall protection systems
  • How to work at heights safely and in compliance with the Occupational Health and Safety Act and its regulatory requirements
  • Access equipment: safe use of ladders, scaffolds, elevating work platforms, and suspended access equipment.

Ladder safety, in particular, poses significant fall hazards in construction, Landry says.

“There have been a high number of incidents, where workers were critically injured or killed in falls from ladders,” Landry says.

In the five-year period from 2006 to May 2010, there were 396 fall incidents causing critical injuries and 127 of those were from ladders – 32 per cent of these accidents were caused by the unsafe use of ladders.

During that same period of time, there were 83 fatalities and 10 were from the unsafe use of ladders.

“We’ve worked with industry representatives and our partners at the Infrastructure Health and Safety Association to develop a Ladder Use in Construction Guideline,” Landry says. “This guideline was prepared to assist workplace parties in understanding their obligations under the Occupational Health and Safety Act and the Construction Regulation. The Ministry of Labour views the guideline as a set of industry practices that when implemented as part of a constructor/employer’s health and safety program will help in reducing workplace accidents involving ladders.”

In cases of non-compliance, Ministry of Labour Inspectors will be issuing tickets on the spot during this enforcement campaign. These tickets, for a variety of offences, range from $195 for failing to wear protective footwear to $295 failing to wear a full body harness connected to fall arrest system while on suspended equipment.

“During this blitz, we want the message to be to get your safety plans in order, get your managers and supervisors on site up to speed,” Landry says. “Because falls are one of the leading causes of death and injury, our inspectors are always enforcing fall protection. Sometimes people cut corners for production, but you don’t cut corners when it comes to safety.”

Construction Safety: Changes Prompt Action

Fall Protection and Prevention
Falls on construction sites are the leading cause of injuries and fatalities, a steady trend that isn’t likely to change as Canada’s construction sector grows to become the 5th largest in the world over the next decade.

In Ontario, an average Workers Safety Insurance Board claim for a workplace fall is $11,771. Factor in lost productivity and staff replacement, and the cost can quadruple to approximately $59,000 per injury.

There are two factors in the fall safety equation, fall prevention and fall protection.

  • Fall prevention stops workers from falling
  • Fall protection minimizes the impact of a fall

Provinces across the country are taking a hardline, tough love approach to construction safety and particularly fall prevention and protection.

Workers who don’t wear their personal protective equipment on site are subject to legal charges and steep fines even if no accident or injury occurs.

But does this approach really work? Time will tell but safety advisors say that changes in the industry required immediate action.

Dean Guthrie, a safety advisor specializing in fall prevention at the Saskatchewan Construction Safety Association in Saskatoon visits construction sites regularly to instruct and motivate supervisors and workers to adhere to the provincial safety regulations. “You wouldn’t believe how many times I go onto a construction site and see a dozen or more workers not wearing any basic personal protective equipment at all,” he said in a recent telephone interview.

“Part of the reason is that the nature of the industry is changing and growing. We have more workers, younger workers and inexperienced workers in high risk jobs, working at heights with a general lack of awareness of the dangers,” he said.

The change in the industry has also created a change in the relationship between workers and employers over the past few years, according to McMaster University’s Wayne Lewchuk, a professor of School of Labour Studies & Department of Economics.

“Workers are in short supply and companies are relying increasingly on temporary work agencies and short-term contracts to seek out workers,” he said. “This short-term relationship is creating vulnerability among workers as they find themselves often feeling powerless to raise concerns about workplace health and safety issues.”

None of this changes the basics. Management is still required by law to have a safety plan in place to address construction site falls:

  • Develop, implement and commit to a fall protection program
  • Provide on the job training for your workers on fall prevention and protection
  • Evaluate your program on a regular basis to insure its effectiveness and determine whether it needs to be changed or updated

But no amount of policy is worth anything unless it’s followed. The fact is, too many workers are hurt or killed in “avoidable” falls on construction sites because they don’t wear basic protective equipment, like fall arrest equipment.

We’re all in this together. What have you tried on your jobsite that has improved fall prevention or protection compliance?







Construction Safety Canada – The Numbers

Safety Seton

Canada’s construction sector is set to become the 5th largest in the world, driven by global demand for our natural resources and the urgent need to modernize this country’s aging infrastructure.

The demand for hiring a whole new generation of construction workers, young workers, newcomers, temporary and contract employees from outside Canada presents new and unique challenges to Canada’s construction safety culture.

Young workers graduating from community colleges have some co-op experience. But they, too, need close supervision as they enter the work force, including on-the-job construction safety training and mentoring from experienced supervisors.

More private sector employers are recognizing that safety and production go hand-in-hand. Workplace safety has a demonstrably positive impact on the bottom line. It improves the efficiency of the industry.

When workplace safety is a top priority workers are more productive.


Eyewear Safety – Emergency Action For Injuries

Eye Safety
Eyewear safety must always be a top priority.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, construction workers have one of the highest eye injury rates, so it’s important they have the proper eyewear safety equipment.  Wearing the appropriate, well-fitting and comfortable PPE can prevent eye fatigue and headaches and other common and more serious eye injuries caused by the following:

  • Scrap materials, waste, and windblown dust
  • Flying material particles or slivers from wood, metal, plastic, and cement
  • Chemicals or chemical products
  • Falling or misdirected objects
  • UV light from welding torches

Here’s what to do to improve eyewear safety: In case of the following eye injuries or incidents according to the National Eye Institute and other health and safety agencies. Be sure there are clean eye wash stations, eye wash solutions and a first aid kit easily accessible.

Specks in the Eye

  • Do not rub the eye.
  • Flush the eye with large amounts of water.
  • See a doctor if the speck does not wash out or if pain or redness continues.

Cuts, Punctures, and Foreign Objects in the Eye

  • Do not wash out the eye.
  • Do not try to remove a foreign object stuck in the eye.
  • Seek immediate medical attention.

Chemical Burns

  • Immediately flush the eye with water or any drinkable liquid. Open the eye as wide as possible. Continue flushing for at least 15 minutes. For caustic or basic solutions, continue
flushing while on the way to medical care.
  • If a contact lens is in the eye, begin flushing over the lens immediately. Flushing may dislodge the lens.
  • Seek immediate medical attention.

Eyewear SafetyBlows to the Eye

  • Apply a cold compress without pressure, or tape crushed ice in a plastic bag to the forehead and allow it to rest gently on the injured eye.
  • Seek immediate medical attention if pain continues, if vision is reduced, or if blood or discoloration appears in the eye.