How can ergonomics help you at work?

October 18, 2016

Mention the topic of ergonomics, and people usually think you’re talking about how to sit properly at your desk. Of course it’s important to know How to Make Your Computer Workstation Fit You, but there’s much more to the science of ergonomics.

Image from Ergonomics for Truckers by WorkSafeBC

Image from Ergonomics for Truckers by WorkSafeBC

All industries can benefit from the science of ergonomics. Ergonomics is about fitting the task, equipment, and the environment to the worker with the goal of optimizing human performance. This helps improve quality, productivity, and safety.

Ergonomics in the Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) Regulation is about reducing the risk of musculoskeletal injuries (MSI), the most common workplace injury in BC. WorkSafeBC has lots of resources and information about ergonomics for workers and employers in all different industries.

Consider trucking, for example. Truck drivers often sit for long periods of time, which puts stress on their lower backs. The video Ergonomics For Truckers shows how they can reduce their risk of developing MSI.

You can learn more about Ergonomics at the Ergonomics Forum at WorkSafeBC’s Richmond office on October 26 from 12:30 to 4:30 pm. It’s free to the public, held as part of  Ergonomics Month in October.

“Most people equate ergonomics with their office,” says ergonomist Gina Vahlas, of WorkSafeBC. “At this forum, we’re hoping to expand their knowledge of ergonomics and human factors.”

At the Oct. 26 forum, you’ll hear presentations on the following topics:

  • The role of ergonomists in reducing MSI risk in the workplace, including how WorkSafeBC administers the Ergonomics (MSI) Requirements of the OHS Regulation
  • How you can include human factors and best practices in your safety program and incident investigations processes
  • The ergonomic risks associated with mobile devices and how to minimize those risks

You can register online for the Ergonomics Forum in Richmond until October 21.

Is a ladder the right tool for the job?

October 12, 2016

“The humble ladder: everybody just looks at it and thinks that’s the tool to grab.”

Construction industry specialist Kathy Tull told me this when I asked her about people’s attitudes toward ladders. She and her team at WorkSafeBC are working with the construction sector to focus on ladder safety to help prevent injuries caused by falls from ladders.

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Ask yourself

Falls are one of the leading causes of injuries to construction workers in B.C. — and falls from ladders reflect the highest proportion of construction-related falls. To give you some idea of the numbers, between 2012 and 2014 falls from ladders injured or killed 1,005 workers in the construction sector.

Kathy and her team want people to ask themselves: “Is this the right tool for the job? What are the hazards? Is there a safer alternative like a platform ladder or other work platform? If I’m going to use it, how will I use it safely?”

WorkSafeBC’s High-risk strategy 2016: Falls from ladders includes distributing practical resources for reducing serious injuries related to ladder-use at construction worksites throughout B.C.

Poster from AgSafeBC

Poster from AgSafeBC

For more ladder safety information and resources for different industries, see Ladders on WorkSafeBC’s website. You can also check ladder requirements in Part 13 of the OHS Regulation.

Lately I’ve seen that ladder safety is on the radar in other industries too. For example, in agriculture, @AgSafeBC reminded people on Twitter: “Safe #orchard #ladder use is crucial – check out our resources for key tips #LadderSafety #AgSafety.”

@ActSafe, the safety association for B.C.’s film and TV industry, recently tweeted a link to The Ladder Challenge Game from WorkSafeBC.

The Manufacturing Safety Alliance of BC links to this three-part video on using ladders in manufacturing. The video covers proper techniques for setting up a stepladder, using a ladder safely, and moving and positioning a ladder.

The BC Forest Safety Council includes important information on ladder safety in one of its monthly Safety Alerts: “Safety On and Off the Job.”

Fall prevention workshop for construction Saturday Oct. 15 in Kelowna

A Fall prevention workshop for construction is happening on Saturday, Oct. 15, from 8 to 4 at Okanagan College in Kelowna. It’s for tradespeople, supervisors, contractors, Construction Safety Officers (CSO), and others who work in the construction industry.

“They can fill out a written fall protection plan,” Kathy says. “They’ll get the actual hands-on experience by looking at photos and working with safety officers to fill it in properly.”

The hands-on workshop also includes:

* How to fit and inspect fall protection equipment
* Options for fall protection, including horizontal lifelines, guardrails, anchors, and more
* Selecting and setting up ladders and scaffolding

Bridging the Gap 2016

More construction safety is on the agenda at Bridging the Gap 2016, hosted by the BC Construction Safety Alliance on Oct. 26 and 27 in Vancouver. (I’m working on a post about this, so stay tuned.)

Do you have any ladder safety resources to share? It’s a big job to remind people that ladders aren’t as innocent as they may look.

How can ergonomics help you at work?

Musculoskeletal injuries associated with prolonged use such as ‘text neck’ and ‘blackberry thumb’ are not really new pains but they are coming from different sources and afflicting more younger people than ever before.

Safety team visits First Nations independent schools

WorkSafeBC’s new and young worker team did their first tour as a pilot project on Vancouver Island in 2013 in an effort to reach out to these independent schools that were not represented at education conferences for BC’s public schools.

Health care assistants are in demand

As our population ages, there is an increased need for home support that helps people remain independent as long as possible. This group of workers is injured more often than any other occupation in BC.

Stay fit and avoid injury when ski season starts

“Because skiing is obviously seasonal, too often we jump back into it thinking we were in the same shape as the end of the previous season, and we can get hurt.”

How does it feel to be trapped in grain?

In 2015 alone, seven people – including four kids – died in Canada after being entrapped in grain.

Back-to-school safety tips

Drivers should pay attention and be careful. Kids should know how to look, listen, and be seen. They also need to think before they share online.

Injured young worker wishes he’d trusted his gut

A new video tells the story of a young worker who was badly injured in a restaurant kitchen. He ignored a gut feeling and was injured as a result. He shares his story and reminds others to listen to their instincts and know their rights to a safe workplace.

Injuries happen when you least expect them

More than half of all injuries suffered by firefighers in BC occur away from emergency scenes. Of these, one-third happen in fire halls.

Leading safety in tattooing and piercing industry

“We want to make sure that the general public is kept safe and, we’re also looking at the internal aspect to make sure that all the work parties are safe.”