Avoid the Sting: Keep Workers Safe from Insects

insects

There are many hazards that outdoor workers face during the summer months. In addition to those hazards related to the heat and extremely hot weather, workers also have to deal with insects that can inflict harm.

Stinging insects, such as bumble bees, wasps and hornets, can cause just temporary injury most of the time. But sometimes, insect stings can be serious.

Oftentimes, a sting can cause pain, swelling, itching and redness where the sting has occurred, according to CCOHS (Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety). Typically, if a mild allergic reaction occurs, it lasts a few days.

There is the possibility of a more severe reaction, which can cause anaphylaxis (or anaphylactic shock). Symptoms include hives, itching and swelling in areas other than the sting site; swollen eyes and eyelids; and wheezing. Shock and cardiac arrest are among many other additional symptoms.

CCOHS suggests not working in an area where these insects are seen. But if you must, follow these tips before beginning work in that location.

  • Check for signs of activity or a hive or nest. If you see a number of insects flying around, check to see if they are entering/exiting from the same place. If so, it is probably a nest or food source.
  • Wear long sleeve shirts, long pants, and closed-toed boots or shoes. Tape pant legs to boots/socks, and sleeves to your gloves. Consider wearing an extra layer of clothing.
  • Power tools (lawnmowers, weed eaters, chainsaws) aggravate insects. Be aware that tools can provoke insects and cause them to swarm.

When you need to provide workers with the supplies they need to stay safe on the job, count on Seton. Give us a call at 855-581-1218 or visit http://www.seton.ca and we can help you select the safety products you need.

Avoid Serious Illness: Protecting Your Workers from Asbestos Exposure

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Asbestos, which was once used for insulating buildings and for fireproofing, can be hazardous to workers’ health. It can cause cancer and other diseases.

Workers can be exposed to asbestos when buildings are being renovated or demolished. Asbestos fibres can be released in the air in many ways, such as when insulation containing asbestos is disturbed or removed, and when they are sanding or disturbing plaster that contains asbestos.

Workers in maintenance and construction should learn if asbestos is present on their work site and consult with a qualified asbestos removal specialist.

It’s important, when working with materials that could contain asbestos, that workers avoid creating dust from scraping, brushing, rubbing and cutting.

Asbestos removal specialists should be brought in to remove any asbestos that is identified during renovation projects. Workers should not disturb asbestos themselves.

Have you ever worked in a job site where asbestos was present? How did you ensure workers weren’t exposed to the asbestos? Have you trained your workers to know what to do if they uncover asbestos at a job site?

Healthy Workers: Ensuring a Healthy Mind

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How much focus do you put on the mental health of your workers? If your answer is “not much,” you may want to reconsider. After all, a happy and healthy worker is a productive worker.

The Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS) defines a psychologically safe and healthy workplace as one that “promotes workers’ mental well-being and does not harm employee mental health through negligent, reckless or intentional ways.”

To create that psychologically safe workplace, CCOHS suggests implementing a Comprehensive Workplace Health and Safety (CWHS) Program. Such a program includes activities, initiatives and policies that will help improve or maintain the health and well-being of a company’s workforce.

There are many benefits of a CWHS, including employee engagement, employee retention and productivity.

In addition to creating a CWHS, employers can also promote good mental health with these strategies:

  • Encourage active employee participation and decision making.
  • Clearly define employees’ duties and responsibilities.
  • Promote work-life balance.
  • Encourage respectful and non-derogatory behaviours.
  • Manage workloads.
  • Allow continuous learning.
  • Have conflict resolution practices in place.
  • Recognize employees’ contributions effectively.

How valuable do you think a CWHS program would be for your company? What other strategies do you feel could be helpful in promoting good mental health in your workforce?

Count on Seton to help you create a safe workplace too. Give us a call at 855-581-1218 or visit www.seton.ca and we can help answer any safety product questions you may have.

 

Addressing Workplace Hazards: Managing Stress on the Job

workplacestress

Workplace stress is a workplace hazard. According to the Canadian Mental Health Association, it’s important to recognize signs of stress because it can be connected to infectious diseases and cardiovascular problems, as well as back pain, repetitive strain injuries and cancer.

Do you know how to identify the signs of stress in your workers? They include changes in eating habits (weight loss or gain), an increased use of alcohol, poor performance, frequent absences and increased conflict between employees.

As an employer, there are many things you can to help your workers alleviate their stress. Here are some suggestions from the Canadian Federation of Independent Business:

  • Sick leave
  • Reassignment
  • Re-bundling of tasks to provide meaningful work
  • Special equipment or revised expectations
  • Changes to workplace process or procedure
  • Flexible hours
  • Offer EAP (Employment Assistance Program)

What are some things you have done to help reduce workers’ stress? Is there anything else you feel can be done?

Count on Seton to help you create a safe workplace. Give us a call at 855-581-1218 or visit www.seton.ca and we can help answer any safety product questions you may have.

Safety Training: How You Can Promote a Safe Workplace

safetytraining

One of the cornerstones of a solid safety culture is safety training. Your employees must be adequately trained so they can safely perform their job duties each and every day.

Safety training is a collaborative effort between employers and employees. Everyone must be dedicated to a strong safety training program in order for it to be effective and successful.

Under Part II of the Canada Labour Code, employers (under federal jurisdiction) must ensure employees receive the information, training and supervision they need to safely get their work done.

Employers must provide:

  • An appropriate understanding of overall work safety procedures
  • Knowledge of the safe use of workplace tools and equipment
  • Awareness of known or foreseeable workplace hazards
  • Whenever possible, training sessions should include documentation

Employees need to use what they learn during that training, and also follow safety procedures to ensure overall safety within their workplace.

Employees must, under the Canada Labour Code:

  • Use all safety materials, equipment, devices and clothing that are provided by the employer and are intended to protect employees
  • Follow procedures relating to the health and safety of employees
  • Follow all instructions provided by the employer concerning the health and safety of employees
  • Co-operate with any person carrying out a duty or function required by the Code
  • Report to the employer any thing or circumstance that is likely to be hazardous to employees or any other person in the workplace
  • Report to the employer all work-related accidents, occupational diseases or other hazardous occurrences that have caused injury to you or any other person
  • Report to the employer any situation you believe to be a contravention of Part II of the Code by the employer, another employee, or any other person
  • Comply with every oral or written direction given by a health and safety officer or an appeals officer; and respond in writing to a health and safety officer’s direction or report when requested to do so by the health and safety officer

How do you coordinate your safety training efforts in your facility?

Ergonomics: When Work Really Can Be Hazardous to Your Health

ergonomics

Frequent and repetitive motions on the job can sometimes lead to serious injuries to workers’ bodies. Work-related musculoskeletal disorders (WMSDs) are disorders affecting muscles, tendons and nerves.

Work that is done by the arms and hands can impact the health of the hands, wrists, elbows, neck and shoulders. Work done with the legs can affect the legs, hips, ankles and feet. Back problems can also exist.

The Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS) identifies these risk factors for WMSDs:

  • Fixed or constrained body positions
  • Continual repetition of movements
  • Force concentrated on small parts of the body, such as the hand or wrist
  • A pace of work that does not allow sufficient recovery between movements

There are many symptoms of WMSDs, such as joint stiffness, muscle tightness, redness and swelling of the affected area; pain is the most common symptom. Different symptoms can be associated with different disorders. For example, the symptoms of tendonitis include pain, weakness, swelling, burning sensation or dull ache over affected area. DeQuervain’s disease causes pain at the base of the thumb.

CCOHS highlights four main treatments for WMSDs.

One is just avoiding the motions that are responsible for the injury. The next is the application of heat or cold to relieve the pain and speed healing. Cold can reduce pain and swelling, while heat can ease muscle pain.

Exercise is also helpful, as it promotes circulation and reduces muscle tension. Anti-inflammatory drugs can also be effective in reducing pain and inflammation.

Educate your workers on WMSDs so they can recognize the symptoms and receive treatment as soon as possible.

The Bottom Line: When Do Injuries Take Away From Work Time?

hardhatimagenew

A new study by the Institute for Work & Health (IWH) revealed that the type of injury doesn’t completely determine if a worker will miss any time or no time off the job. Two other factors play a role: the physical demands of the job and the workers’ compensation premium rate the employer pays.

The study was conducted by collecting data on 7,000 of Ontario’s Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) no-lost-time claims. The survey team matched each no-lost-time claim with up to four WSIB lost-time claims similar in terms of type of injury, event leading to injury, the part of the body injured and the year of the injury.

The study yielded these results:

Physical workload mattered: It’s harder to work the day after an injury if the work is physically demanding.

Age and time on the job didn’t matter: While it would seem likely that young workers or those new to a job would be less likely to take time off after an injury, this was not the case.

Employer size didn’t matter: It was expected that larger employers would be more like to report no-lost-time claims because they can accommodate injured workers. But large employers were not more like to report such claims.

Premium rate mattered: Employers paying more in premium rates were less likely to have lost-time claims.

Read more about the study here.

Working Outside: How to Beat the Summer Heat

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While it’s great to enjoy the fresh air when working outdoors, outside work can be hazardous—and even fatal—during the strong heat of the summer.

Workers are at risk for a variety of heat-related illnesses. It’s important to know the warning signs and what to do if you or one of your workers begins to show symptoms of a heat-related illness.

Heat exposure causes many illnesses, such as:

  • Heat edema: a swelling that occurs among people not used to working in the heat
  • Heat rashes: Tiny red spots on the skin that cause a prickling sensation when exposed to heat
  • Heat cramps: Sharp pains in the muscles that happen alone or with other heat stress disorders
  • Heat exhaustion: Caused by loss of body water and salt through excessive sweating
  • Heat syncope: Heat-induced dizziness and fainting induced by temporarily insufficient flow of blood to the brain
  • Heat stroke: Most serious heat illness, requiring immediate first aid and medical attention

Signs to be aware of for heat stroke include confusion, loss of consciousness, seizures, very high body temperature, and hot, dry skin or profuse sweating.

If someone appears to be suffering from heat stroke, call for medical help immediately. Also, move them to a shady location and apply cold, wet cloths to their skin. Remove some clothing and wet the person’s skin and clothing with cool water. Don’t force the person to drink liquids.

Learn more from the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety here.

Is Your Workplace Fire-Healthy?

FirePrev

On average, fire kills eight people each week in Canada, according to Fire Prevention Canada. This year, National Fire Prevention Week runs from October 5 – 11th, so now is the time to evaluate your fire response procedures and preparedness in order to ensure a healthy and safe workplace.

Start with a comprehensive assessment, which should include a physical walk-through of the entire facility. Rank hazards as you go, based on severity (high, medium or low), so you have clear priorities as you continue to evaluate and adjust your fire safety plan. Use this list as a guideline, but remember many hazards could exist outside these areas:

  • Storage and waste facilities
  • Ventilation
  • Fire proofing
  • Fire doors, fire walls and separators
  • Fire/heat/smoke detectors & alarms
  • Sprinkler systems
  • Control of flammables & explosives (including dust)
  • Spill control
  • Emergency exit & fire escape access
  • Smoking policies
  • Electrical equipment

Create a master inventory of hazardous materials, along with a corresponding floor plan and checklist which will help you determine the need to improve, implement, or purchase:

  • fire prevention and control procedures
  • an emergency plan
  • proper signage, detectors, extinguishers & other supplies

Also take time to evaluate employee training (including orientation and retraining) in the areas of: preventative measures, inspection techniques, fire extinguisher use, hazard reporting, spill control processes, and emergency procedures.

Be sure and carry out re-assessments whenever your workplace or industry experiences a change in process/activity, personnel, facility renovation, legislation, or materials used. Staying on top of fire prevention and encouraging your workers to do the same will ensure health, safety, and compliance all around. Visit Workplace Safety & Prevention Services (WSPS) for more fire prevention information, downloads, and training opportunities.

Questions, comments? Speak your mind below!

Material Handling Health & Safety Blitz Coming Soon

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Industrial sector businesses in Ontario should begin preparing for the upcoming Material Handling blitz. The Health and Safety Inspections will run from September 15th – October 26th, 2014. Material Handling involves the movement, storage, control and protection of materials, goods, products, and equipment. Statistics show that nearly 25% of workers will experience an injury as a result of lifting and lowering, pushing and pulling, carrying and holding, or resisting loads. In Ontario alone, musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) account for half of all lost-time injuries. Preparation and proper training in the following areas will help prevent injury and hopefully result in a successful inspection:

  • Racking and storage systems
  • MSD hazards
  • Truck and trailer security (in loading areas)
  • Lifting devices and forklifts
  • Safe work practices with regard to slips, trips, falls, and other hazards

The Ministry of Labour’s proactive inspection blitzes and initiatives are designed to raise awareness and increase compliance with health and safety legislation. Blitzes and initiatives are announced in advance and results are reported after they are completed. The ministry tracks each sector to determine if there are long-lasting increases in compliance and decreases in injuries.