Sharing safety message via mountain road and webinar

February 22, 2017

Photo of road sign on steep, winding road

A sight from the safety team’s 2016 trip to Lytton and surrounding areas. Photo credit: Glen McIntosh

They’re travelling different roads — quite literally — to deliver their message about young worker safety.

WorkSafeBC’s Young/New Worker and Small Business team, led by manager Glen McIntosh, has been driving on mountain roads and connecting via the Internet to reach people who may not find it easy to attend safety events in person.

I wrote about their road trip to Stein Valley Nlakapamux School in Lytton in my post Safety team visits First Nations independent schools.

Glen travelled the long and winding roads with WorkSafeBC industry specialist Helen Chandler and Mike Lovett, a public speaker who talks about his serious accident in a sawmill when he was 18. It’s the third year they’ve been taking these journeys and their goal is to visit as many First Nations independent schools as possible.

Another way Glen and Helen have been getting their message out is via webinar — on the “information superhighway” — recently discussing safety for young workers in the restaurant, service, and hospitality industry. They were invited to do so by go2HR, an association that serves B.C.’s tourism and hospitality industry by offering programs for workplace safety and other aspects of human resources.

“Some can’t come to a workshop in Vancouver, so we’ve broadcast it out. It’s an effective means for us to reach people all over the province,” Glen says. “A fairly significant portion of young workers’ first jobs are in the hospitality, service, and restaurant industry. It’s an important group that we want to be reaching so we can raise awareness about their rights and responsibilities at work.”

people at webinar

Participants in go2HR’s January 2017 webinar, from left: Stephanie Mallalieu, Julianne Ratchford, Glen McIntosh, and Helen Chandler. Photo credit: Glen McIntosh

The webinar was hosted by Stephanie Mallalieu, go2HR industry health and safety specialist, who also invited Julianne Ratchford, Fairmont Pacific Rim Hotel’s assistant outlet manager.

The go2HR webinar attracted participants from across B.C. in a range of businesses, including ski hills, hotels, and industry associations. Stephanie says participants responded (via survey) very positively to the webinar, “particularly to the depth of information provided during the presentation, including the perspective of the young manager working in the industry.” go2HR also hosts a number of webinars on workplace safety and other HR topics for employers.

“Since Glen and his colleague Helen work on the new and young worker portfolio at WorkSafeBC, I felt that our participants would really benefit from their expertise and insight,” Stephanie says.

Glen also participates in webinars for Small Business BC’s Start Smart Series, where he helps inform new businesses operators about their OHS requirements as employers.

Protection from flour dust a must for bakery workers

February 15, 2017

Photo of baker's hands and worktable

Photo credit:

“Baker’s asthma” — as it’s known in the business — is a serious health problem that can affect workers in bakery, flour manufacturing, and food processing settings.

“Activities such as mixing, pouring, and weighing flour creates airborne flour dust, which workers may inhale,” reads Flour dust exposure, a risk advisory from WorkSafeBC.

“Workers exposed to flour dust may develop an allergy or sensitization after repeated exposures. Once sensitization occurs, exposure to even a small amount of flour dust can trigger an asthma attack or allergic reaction.”

Safety training in baking school

Martin Barnett is an instructor and program chair of the professional Baking and Pastry Arts program at Vancouver Island University. He’s also on the Board of Directors of the Baking Association of Canada.

I asked him if the issue of flour dust is covered in schools. Is it on the safety radar of the baking industry?

Martin says the issue of flour dust is “not on the official curriculum, as a stand-alone subject, but we do teach it in ‘safe working practices.’ ”

Martin knows first-hand what it’s like to work around flour dust. He says: “I myself am sensitive, and when I owned my bakery in Victoria I wore a mask. Now I use an inhalant on days that I know I am going to be mixing a lot.”

Of course, different prevention tactics will be called for, depending on the situation. Martin says most modern bakeries use extractor fans and workers are mandated — that is, “strongly encouraged” — to wear filtering facepiece respirators. Delivering flour by silo and using machines’ speed controls correctly can also help mitigate the risk.

WorkSafeBC’s Geoffrey Clark, senior occupational hygienist, says that many controls in the exposure control plan for flour dust are procedural or “administrative” and involve modifying work practices, rather than wearing respirators. He says: “Research has found that changing how bakers work can significantly reduce their exposures to flour dust.”

For much more information, see Exposure Control Plan for Flour Dust in Bakeries and Sample Respirator Program for Flour Dust Exposure, both published recently by WorkSafeBC. You can also learn more about flour dust on

Thanks to Martin for answering my questions about his work.

Sharing safety message via mountain road and webinar

They’re travelling different roads — quite literally — to deliver their message about young worker safety. WorkSafeBC’s Young/New Worker and Small Business team, led by manager Glen McIntosh, has been driving on mountain roads and connecting via the Internet to reach people who may not find it easy to attend safety events in person. I wrote […]

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