New tools help employers assess MSI risks

March 25, 2015

It’s like a DIY solution for employers doing ergonomic assessments.

Photo: "tools of the trade" by liz west on flickr

Photo: “tools of the trade” by liz west on flickr

The offering is STENA, and it’s created by Manu Nellutla and his team at the FIOSA-MIOSA Safety Alliance of BC. Manu is director of Research, Programs and Development – and he’s also an ergonomics specialist working with employers in manufacturing, food processing, and related industries.

STENA stands for “Specific Task Ergonomics Needs Assessment.”

This type of assessment uses a “systems approach” – and I asked Manu to elaborate on what that means.

“The importance of taking a systems approach to ergonomics is that the issues which lead to problems are usually much more complex than a simple change in the specific task, the specific machine, or the individual aspects of the work,” Manu explained, via email.

“Any change in one element can cause changes in other aspects of the overall task. For example, the ambient temperature – hot or cold – can impact the musculoskeletal system which could increase risk of injury.”

Meeting the demand

Many employers wanted assessments when the STENA program launched in 2013. The only way to meet this demand was to show employers how to do their own assessments. Thus the STENA+ program was created to put assessment tools in the hands of employers who could use them independently on their own premises.

“STENA+ offers training to the client on how to conduct ergonomics assessment themselves,” says Manu. “I go in and train an identified employee on fundamentals of ergonomics followed by actual assessment details. The participant is trained on how to use various ergonomics tools like WorkSafeBC’s Worksheet A and B, RULA, REBA, etc.”

“The training also includes discussion around writing a report with appropriate cost-effective recommendations. The report, as part of the training, is evaluated by the ergonomics advisor before. Aside from these, there are other ergonomics services including working on the design and process flow of a particular task in order to reduce repetitions, effort and time spent on a particular task.”

Looking at the work floor plan and processes is part of the observation process.

“Some of the most common problems of our clients that we have come across is not having a safety person who is able to identify, rectify or prevent musculoskeletal injuries,” Manu says. “What they also wanted was a simplified approach to understand how to conduct an ergonomics assessment.”

And they have one now – thanks to Manu and his team. Read Manu’s Ten Commandments of Ergonomics and get more info on STENA at the website of FIOSA-MIOSA – the health and safety association for manufacturers and food processors in B.C.

Biohazards found in water from floods and leaks

March 18, 2015

Photo credit: The Bees on Flickr. Please note the water in this photo is not known to be hazardous as described in this blog post. It's just an example of a flood.

Photo credit: The Bees on Flickr. Please note the water in this photo is not known to be hazardous as described in the post. It’s just a random example of a flood.

As spring approaches, so does the potential for spring flooding – a natural occurrence tied to factors like rainfall, snowpack, soil moisture, and temperature. With floods come safety hazards, such as those outlined in the safety bulletin Biohazards, from WorkSafeBC.

“During a flood, chemicals that can harm your health might be released from businesses, homes, and other sources into the water,” reads the bulletin. “You can come into contact with these chemicals by getting them on your skin or by breathing them from the air.”

As I read the bulletin, I wondered how much people know about flood waters – aside from the professionals who deal with them.

Do people protect themselves adequately? It’s hard to know, since so many affect people’s homes. So here are some key tips to keep in mind.

Do you see an oily sheen or discolouration?

If so, stay away. Contact local authorities.

“You should remove and dispose of your clothing and wash with hot water and soap if you are exposed to any unidentified chemicals,” reads the warning.

“Floodwaters may contain disease-causing organisms, such as coliform bacteria (e.g., E. coli), hepatitis viruses, fungi, and the bacteria that cause diarrhea.”

More advice comes for those who touch the waters.

* If contact with the skin occurs, wash the area with hot water and soap and, in the case of cuts, also use a disinfectant.

* Avoid wiping your hands on your mouth, nose or eyes, as these areas are primary receptors for pathogens.

* Do not eat or drink from any containers that might have come into contact with floodwaters.

* Use disposable gloves while touching anything that has come in contact with floodwater.

Please keep this in mind and – if you have any safety stories about floods, please do share them.

New tools help employers assess MSI risks

It’s “…a simplified approach to understanding how to conduct an ergonomics assessment.”

Work safely near forklifts

Getting the word out about forklift safety resources after a worker was fatally injured.

Conference centres on workplace impairment

BC Council on Substance Abuse is hosting Drugs and Alcohol in the Workplace – Wrestling with the Elephant in the Room March 10 – 12, 2015 in Kelowna, BC, Canada.

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.”

Protecting the mental health of front-line workers

“Mental illness is hitting our front line workers like a sledgehammer,” says the Canadian Mental Health Association. They host the Bottom Line Conference Feb 24 & 25 in Vancouver.

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.”