“Falling will make coworkers look down on you”

October 23, 2014

Photo credit: Tymtoi on Flickr

Photo credit: Tymtoi on Flickr

That’s the key message from WorkSafeBC – in collaboration with five Lower Mainland construction companies representing 22 jobsites.

In BC, falls from a height accounted for 92 worker deaths and 22,610 serious injuries from 2004 to 2013, according to this 2013 Statistics publication released in September.

The BC Construction Safety Alliance is a not-for-profit association that provides services to more than 40,000 construction companies employing more than 180,000 workers. Their crew of safety advocates is also working to address this issue – along with other risks to workers.

“We lent our full support to the partnership between five of our Lower Mainland construction company members and WorkSafeBC in the recent campaign to reduce the number of falls from heights. The campaign addresses the challenge of a culture of safety that includes peer pressure and entrenched work habits. As the safety association for construction, it is always our aim to challenge the root causes that inhibit the safety culture on sites and we think this campaign does that,” says Mike McKenna, BCCSA’s executive director.


“Falling from heights is one of the top three high-risk issues facing the BC construction industry. As such, fall prevention is a key focus for us at the BC Construction Safety Alliance.”

Visit WorkSafeBC.com to find out more about this falls from height initiative. Here you’ll find a backgrounder, poster, and other online resources such as the new Preventing Falls in Residential Construction web book from WorkSafeBC, which uses animated videos to show solutions to common fall hazards in roofing, framing, siding, and formwork.

Preventing falls will also be a topic at the upcoming Bridging the Gap construction safety conference, November 14 and 15 in Richmond, BC.

Machines don’t know where you are

October 22, 2014

Image from Safeguarding Machinery and Equipment by WorkSafeBC

Image from Safeguarding Machinery and Equipment by WorkSafeBC

Automated machines call for the greatest concern with respect to safeguarding. I thought about this concept today when I spoke with Ian Rood, who specializes in machine safeguarding and process design.

Ian is one of the guest speakers at Make it Safe, the 2014 manufacturing safety conference on Nov 4 and 5 in Burnaby.

“The machine doesn’t know you’re there, so if it’s got to move from Point A to Point B, and you get in the way, it’s not going to stop,” he says. “If there is an electrical, pneumatic, or hydraulic system involved, it should be assessed.”

In Ian’s break-out session, Machine Guarding, he’s presenting a case study of a recent project, from assessment to remediation. It’s on Day 2 from 1 to 2:15 p.m. He’s also covering regulatory requirements, using safeguards as an alternate form of lockout, and the risk assessment model.

Other speakers at the conference are looking at ergonomics, MSIs, mental health, anti-bullying, new WHMIS requirements, and why it’s good business to work safely.

“If we make a business case for safety – if we take the safety aspect out of it…forgetting about the person who’s getting hurt and having their life changed – the cost to the employer is not worth it,” Ian says.

“You could have spent your money on safeguarding or you’re going to have to spend your money on fines and then spend your money on safeguarding. There are efficiencies to be gained by using available technology and safeguards as an alternate form of lockout, which can save an organization significant downtime.”

Definition of safeguarding and lockout?

For an in-depth look at these definitions, start with Safeguarding Machinery and Equipment: General Requirements from WorkSafeBC.

The publication describes safeguarding as “the first line of defence in ensuring the safety of workers operating powered machinery and equipment,” and it includes “barrier guards, safety devices, shields, awareness barriers, warning signs, or other appropriate means, used singly or in combination.”

“Lockout,” it says, “protects workers when machinery or equipment is shut down for maintenance (including repairs and clearing jams).”

Thanks to Ian for giving me a preview of what he’s going to discuss at Make it Safe – which you can attend, if you are interested.

“Falling will make coworkers look down on you”

In BC, falls from a height accounted for 92 worker deaths and 22,610 serious injuries from 2004 to 2013. That’s why a new partnership has been formed to address this tragic reality.

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WorkSafeBC’s Prevention Line receives an average of 1,000 to 1,100 calls a week from workers, employers, and first responders with questions and concerns about safety.

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