Time to start planning for NAOSH Week

February 25, 2015

“It doesn’t have to be a big, expensive, time-consuming adventure,” says Wendy Bennett, president of the 2014 NAOSH Week Steering committee and executive director of FARSHA. “It’s just recognizing safety in your workplace and allowing everybody to be part of it… They can inspect their equipment, do an emergency drill, or have a safety meeting.”

That said, I’d like to show you a video that obviously took a lot of time and effort. Last year, Ritchie Brothers Auctioneers won Most Innovative entry for this hilarious spoof of the TV show Law & Order. It shows the importance of safety investigations and even includes a “good cop/bad cop” – definitely worth a watch!

The NAOSH Week theme for 2015 is Safety & Health: Make Safety a Habit – running from Sunday, May 3 to Saturday, May 9. Check out this link for more information.

Protecting the mental health of front-line workers

February 18, 2015

Photo credit: WashingtonYDC on Flickr

A dad in our neighbourhood died by suicide a couple of years ago. I thought about him when I read about the high number of suicides among people who work with trauma – such as paramedics, police, emergency doctors, and soldiers.

This man was a front line worker who told me his job was a constant reminder that “we are all so vulnerable,” as he put it. We were in a cafe, sipping our coffees while our sons played with Pokemon cards.

“Anything can happen to anyone at any time. That thought really haunts me. It’s hard to explain it,” he said, before quickly changing the subject – kind of laughing it off, and joking that he “didn’t want to get too morbid.”

A couple of months later, I heard he’d quit his job and was suffering from depression. Shortly after that, he took his own life.

I’ve been reading (and hearing on CBC radio) about a need for improved access to mental health care for first responders. Many live with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, anxiety, and other mental health struggles.

“Mental illness is hitting our front line workers like a sledgehammer,” say organizers of the Bottom Line Conference Feb 24 and 25 at the Vancouver Convention Centre.

Suicide is the cause of death for 160 Canadian soldiers from 2004 to 2014, says the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA), the conference host.

CMHA reports that more than 24 first responders took their own lives in a six-month period in 2014.

“It seems every month we are looking at headlines about a police officer who has died by suicide. It’s time to start asking difficult questions. It’s even more important to start listening to those who have answers. We need to better protect those who commit their lives to protecting us.”

Protecting the protectors

“The 12th annual Bottom Line Conference will offer a venue for front line workers, unions, employers, not for profit organizations and governments to come together to talk about lessons from the front line and answer the question: How can we better protect the psychological health of our front line workers?” reads this CMHA press release.

I heard this chilling account of first responders’ experiences on CBC radio: Growing PTSD crisis among Canada’s first responders: Feb 5, 2015.

My greatest respect goes to the people we call when we need help. They deserve our help when they need it – so it’s time for all involved to step up.

Time to start planning for NAOSH Week

“It doesn’t have to be a big, expensive, time-consuming adventure… It’s just recognizing safety in your workplace and allowing everybody to be part of it.”

Tired workers make more mistakes

The effects of sleep deprivation are on the radar in many industries, and WorkSafeBC is working on a fatigue toolkit for employers to be released by June 2015. People complain about it all the time – which can get tiresome in itself – plus it’s bad news for the workplace.

Lightening the load for waste and recycling workers

Some of these workers do 10-hour shifts and stop at up to 1,200 homes, where at least two containers are left for pick-up. They face a bigger-than-average risk of injury from overexertion.

Finding first aid training providers in BC

The online First Aid Training Providers list, most recently updated December 2014, is a valuable resource for BC workers and employers who need to find service in their communities.

New laws to protect roadside workers

BC drivers must slow down and move over for any roadside vehicle with flashing lights. In the past, drivers had to check to see if the flashing light was a certain type of “official vehicle.”

Planning for emergencies in remote forest locations

All employers are required by law to plan for emergencies – but this is complicated by many factors for employers with crews in remote locations.

Student video contest ‘No bullies at work’

“School is no place for bullies. Neither is work.” That’s the theme of WorkSafeBC’s 10th annual Student Safety Video Contest that runs to April 1, 2015.

Thanks to workers who get our power back

When I was a kid in the 70s, my dad worked for BC Hydro and was on-call for dealing with power outages. See how today’s crews keep the lights on.

New tools for BC manufacturers’ wood dust safety

“Many workplaces don’t have a very good fire safety plan,” says Ray Roch, director of BC’s Fire Inspection and Prevention Initiative (FIPI). “We needed to put together some materials to help organizations develop fire safety plans…