Archive for February, 2011
February 24, 2011
Last September I wrote about Paralympic medalist and injured worker Josh Dueck and his Guiness World Record for the most high-fives by one person in 24 hours.
As part of WorkSafeBC’s Raise Your Hand campaign to raise awareness of young worker safety, Josh high-fived 9,307 people at the PNE last summer.
WorkSafeBC made a video about Josh’s high-five record and they have entered it in the Boston College Center for Corporate Citizenship’s Film Festival 2011.
For those who don’t know Josh’s story, he suffered a severe spinal cord injury in a ski jumping accident at 23, working as a coach for the 2004 Canadian junior nationals. He was paralyzed from the waist down, but this has not stopped his career on the ski hill. Within nine months of his injury, he was back on the hill, on a sit-ski. In 2010, Josh won a silver medal for Canada in the men’s slalom at the 2010 Paralympic Winter Games.
Congrats again to Josh – and good luck to WorkSafeBC on the submission.
February 22, 2011
Last fall, I had a great time hearing about all the NAOSH Week 2010 winners at the annual awards ceremonies – and now it’s time to plan for this year’s activities.
This year’s theme for NAOSH Week is “Safety & Health – What’s Your Plan?” and it runs from May 1 to 7.
“We encourage participants in Safety & Health Week to use this question to focus on what it is that aids people in ensuring they know what to do, and how to keep themselves and others safe,” says BC Rapid Transit Company Ltd‘s Buck Page, president of the NAOSH Week Steering Committee.
Need any ideas?
The NAOSH Week planning guide for BC is full of ideas, such as:
- Organizing a family safety fair and picnic
- Planning contests with safety-related prizes
- Conducting a young worker safety presentation
- Displaying a NAOSH Week banner in a prominent location in your community
- Hosting a public open house using displays, videos, speakers, or demonstrations
Many NAOSH Week participants will enter to win awards, and I’m really looking forward to hearing about them in the fall. Good luck to all!
February 17, 2011
A friend of mine – who I’ll call Jane – announced half-jokingly on Facebook that she “failed her graduated RTW.”
I followed up and learned she had tried to do an early return-to-work (RTW) program, but was held back by pain.
Jane told me she is recovering from an injury to the soft tissue and nerves in her fingers, which were sucked into the spinning rollers of a machine at work in September 2010. She’s been working with a hand therapist, who liaised with her employer and WorkSafeBC to set up an RTW program for her in January 2011.
RTW is based on the idea that “work is therapy.” Workers do actual work at their own workplace, rather than therapeutic exercises at home or elsewhere. Employers adapt jobs for injured workers, bringing them back ASAP, which has various advantages for all parties. (Here’s a link to more info on RTW from WorkSafeBC.) Read more
February 15, 2011
I first heard the news from my Driver Safety Canada group on LinkedIn. Transport Canada announced: “Lowest death toll on Canadian roads in almost 60 years”.
In 2008, 2,419 road users died in Canada, down from 2,761 in 2007. I thought about why these numbers are down (but still too high) and it seemed to me we owe credit to the people who’ve been advocating for road safety.
Who can we thank?
One important project is the Fraser Canyon Truck Safety Corridor: “BC and Canada’s first designated highway safety corridor” established in 2005. I did some writing for this project back then, and I always think of it now when I drive this highway east of Vancouver.
A highway safety corridor is “a stretch of highway that experiences a higher than average number of motor vehicle crashes, injuries or fatalities.” ICBC sponsored the installation of rumble strips on the road. The strips mark the edges of traffic lanes and they make a rumbling sound when your tires pass over them. I’m sure they’ve made a big difference and prevented lots of crashes, along with new signage, traffic routing, and road improvements.
Still too many dying
That lower total of fatalities for 2008 (2419 people) is still far too high. Reducing them further is an ongoing goal shared by these dedicated drivers of change in BC:
1. DriveBC - up-to-date road conditions listed, managed by the BC Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure – with a good Twitter feed of road safety updates.
2. Shift into Winter – a website of road safety tips from:
3. Staying safe on BC’s resource roads – A video series for for workers, created by WorkSafeBC with the assistance of the forestry, petroleum, and mining industries.
4. Preventable.ca – a community raising awareness of preventable injuries, including:
* BCAA Traffic Safety Foundation
* Insurance Bureau of Canada
* London Drugs Ltd.
* BC Ministry of Labour
* Pacific Blue Cross
This is not an exhaustive list – so please let me know who else to thank for efforts. I hope everyone who’s been working for road safety will see the Transport Canada stats, pat themselves on the back, and then keep working – along with the rest of us drivers.
February 10, 2011
After a workplace injury, the most basic activities can be a challenge – things like getting in and out of the house, using the bathroom, and going from room to room.
But many of these challenges can be overcome, thanks to occupational therapists like Kathy Pringle – an expert in helping injured workers to adapt their homes for safety and functionality.
Kathy is an Ontario-based occupational therapist with a diploma in architectural technology and she teaches at the School of Rehabilitation Therapy at Queen’s University. She also advises building designers, interior designers, family members, and others who work with people living with mobility issues.
She’s coming to BC to lead a seminar – Assessing and Implementing Home Modifications for the Injured Worker – which I read about on the WorkSafeBC website. I gave her a call to find out more. Read more
February 08, 2011
When I first downloaded the OHS Regulation app to my iPhone, I thought about how far this workplace safety regulation has come since I first looked at it. Once upon a time the Reg was in a big set of binders; now it’s accessible (and update-able) by touch screen on my phone!
I opened the app for the first time and accepted an update that loaded the current version of the Occupational Health and Safety Regulation, Workers Compensation Act, policies, guidelines, and WCB standards.
I searched for “ladder” – with all Search options selected, including: Act & Regulation; Policies; Guidelines; Standards; and Updates – and 53 results appeared on screen. Each result leads quickly to the fine print.
I can see the app being very convenient for people on the job. They can download the whole thing into their iPhone and access it without an online connection when they’re out of network range. I see how it’s helpful to me as a writer, as I research stories, and I wonder how it’s working for employers and safety professionals.
What do you think?
WorkSafeBC is asking people to “road test” the app and report any bugs or suggestions. You can get the OHS Regulation app for free for your iPhone (or iPad or iTouch) by searching “worksafebc” at the iTunes App Store. Please share your feedback with WorkSafeBC by February 14, 2011.
February 03, 2011
A guy from my grad class died after being hit by a forklift a few years ago.
Back in elementary school, he was one of the rowdier boys on the playground. Once, at the paperboy shack, he put my little brother’s stack of newspapers in dog poo, then apologized for it at a pub 20 years later. Shortly after, we heard he’d died.
Protecting workers near mobile equipment
I thought about my old classmate when I read about a “proximity detector” in a newsletter from WorkSafeBC’s Research Secretariat, which is funding part of this project by Pro-Active Safety Systems Technology Inc.
“You get no second chance with mobile equipment,” said co-inventor Richard Shervey, an industrial electrician. “There’s no crumple zones and they’re made out of solid steel. When they hit you, most of the time the worst happens. All it takes is one second of inattention.”
Each year more than 1,000 workers in BC are injured or killed in incidents involving forklifts and other mobile equipment like log loaders, bulldozers, and backhoes. Read more
February 01, 2011
Voice strain can be a problem for teachers, fitness trainers, sales people, and others who use their voices a lot at work. Yelling over background noise and trying to talk in a deeper pitch can damage our vocal folds – also known commonly as “vocal cords.”
Wendy Duke, a speech language pathologist and director of Columbia Speech & Language Services in Vancouver, recommends teachers prevent vocal damage by using amplifying devices and “good vocal hygiene” which includes:
* Not smoking
* Drinking enough water
* Not drinking too much alcohol
* Not driving your voice over background noise
* Minimizing or managing allergies and hay fever
* Ensuring the workplace is as quiet as possible, and free of mould and mildew
* Standing as close as possible (ideally arm’s length) from the person you are talking to
* Not yelling and cheering excessively (so look out soccer moms, hockey dads, and ultimate players!)
Wendy describes the vocal folds and how they work.
“They’re fleshy folds of muscle and their primary function is to sit within the larynx, at the top the trachea,” Wendy says. “They serve as a valve to direct food into the esophagus when you swallow. They also serve the function of phonation, which is what we call the sound that comes from the vibration of the vocal folds when air passes through them.”
Vocal folds get swollen when they are used incorrectly. Over time, the swelling can become permanent and turn into a vocal nodule – i.e., a calloused area. This problem can be treated using speech therapy to retrain the voice, but occasionally the nodules have to be removed surgically.
I do a lot more listening than talking in my job, but if I ever have this problem I will take Wendy’s advice to see my family doctor or a speech therapist ASAP.
“If you come in when you occasionally lose your voice, it’s so much easier to deal with it at that phase,” Wendy says. “Once they become vocal nodules, you’re doing all the same work plus you’re trying to reduce the nodules physically in size. It just takes way longer.”
Thanks to Wendy for sharing her advice, and stay tuned for our next conversation, regarding the process of re-learning to speak after a brain injury.