Archive for April, 2012
April 26, 2012
This new video tells the story of Tony McNaughton, a Starbucks manager in downtown Vancouver, who was stabbed to death at work while protecting a staff member from her violent husband. It’s part of a new toolkit from WorkSafeBC that helps employers and workers reduce the risk of domestic violence entering the workplace.
“If, by this, we can raise the issue of domestic violence – and violence generally – and do something to counter it, then that’s part of Tony’s legacy,” says Allen Sawkins, Tony’s partner. It must have taken so much strength and courage to tell the story on video, and I’m grateful to Allen for sharing it.
For more resources, see the Domestic Violence section of WorkSafeBC’s Violence Prevention portal, where there are also resources related to violence in health care, retail, and tourism and hospitality, as well as working alone and workplace bullying.
April 24, 2012
Stop – think – act. That’s the message for transportation/warehouse workers in this new video from the Trucking Safety Council of BC, but its solutions transfer to other industries. It suggests pre-shift warm-ups, careful assessment of the physical environment, and asking for help to minimize risk of injury. I found out about it on Twitter when I searched for “new safety videos” and saw links to it from @SafetyDrivenBC (the Twitter handle for the TSCBC), @trkmatters, @TranBC_LMD, @TruckNewsMag, @CanTruck, @mechanicshub, and others. It’s another example of Twitter’s value to people who connect through common interests and share information and resources – even when they’re provinces or continents apart.
April 19, 2012
“Whoa! Look at that driver! He’s talking into an iPhone – right in front of his face!” yelled my passenger recently as we passed through the intersection of Main and Terminal in Vancouver, BC, Canada.
Was the driver talking to Siri?
It’s likely that most of us see examples of this bad behaviour all too often, despite BC’s ban on hand-held devices and the $167 fine levied for infractions – not to mention the risk of death or injury to oneself or (even worse) an innocent person in the vicinity.
In BC, vehicle crashes are the number one cause of traumatic work-related deaths, according to WorkSafeBC statistics. On average, approximately 30 workers in BC are killed each year while driving, and distracted driving, such as cell phone use, is a key factor in these crashes.
The DriveCellSafe.com website says 25 per cent of vehicle crashes each year can be attributed to drivers being distracted – and most of the distraction is caused by hand-held devices.
What can be so important that they are willing to risk such serious consequences? Is it just another instance of “it won’t happen to me”? Regardless of the reasons, I feel very angry to see it – and I’ve heard a lot of people who feel the same way.
If you’ve got any tips for preventing distracted driving, I’d like to hear about them in the Comments section. Tell me where you are from and what traffic is like in your region. Also, what kinds of “distracted driver” campaigns are in your jurisdiction? Check out this video (it’s not shockvertising) from Preventable.ca.
More information on driving safely at work can be found at the Road Safety at Work website
April 17, 2012
No one ever told him to wear safety glasses when he was using a nail gun. At 19, Sam Livingstone was working on a carpentry job – about to start an apprenticeship – when a piece of wire shot out of the gun, pierced his cornea, and blinded him in one eye.
Today, at 36, Sam is a corporate safety manager for RDM Enterprises. I first met him at the Bridging the Gap safety conference, and we talked about his prescription safety glasses. I gave him a call to find out more.
“My injury wasn’t a case of ‘I should have known better and used eye protection.’ I was a kid, and if someone had said, ‘You should be wearing eye protection with this tool,’ I would have been wearing it,” he said.
“If I’d had the proper training or hazard awareness, it never would have happened. Employers have to make sure their people know the hazards, have the proper protective gear, and most people – when they’re aware of the hazards – will wear the proper PPE.” Read more
April 12, 2012
One hundred and forty-two people died from workplace injury and illness in 2011 in BC.
They will be remembered – along with far too many others – at Day of Mourning ceremonies throughout BC on April 27 and 28. The ceremony taking place at the new Vancouver Convention Centre on April 27 at 10:30 a.m. will also be available via the WorkSafeBC website.
To honour the memory of fallen workers, you can wear and display Day of Mourning decals and posters, which can be ordered from WorkSafeBC (ideally by April 20).
Sharing memories in a public way shows respect for those who died, and hopefully reminds us what to avoid at all costs. Read more
April 10, 2012
I’ve been emailing with a safety contact in Oregon, and have some praise to share regarding BC’s young worker safety program.
“We are very familiar with the BC program, and consider it to be the best regarding young worker health and safety,” says Dede Montgomery, an OHS specialist at the Oregon Health and Science University’s Center for Research on Occupational and Environmental Toxicology.
Dede co-chairs the the Oregon Young Employee Safety Coalition – known by its acronym: O[yes]. The coalition formed five years ago, and this is the fourth year they’ve had the video contest.
“Since the inception of O[yes] we have looked to WorkSafeBC as the leader of organizations doing great work creating ways to reduce workplace injuries and illnesses for young people. We believe that collaboration among partners and organizations is critical to our success, and look forward to potential future collaboration with WorkSafeBC,” Dede said via email.
Oregon’s young worker safety video contest
This year, O[yes] received around 50 entries that met the contest rules, and final winners will be announced at a big screening and prize announcement on April 14 in Salem, Oregon. Nine finalist teams will explain how and why they made their videos, speaking before an audience of their peers, OHS specialists, parents, and teachers.
“We know that young people listen to their peers, and have a way of communicating that isn’t always shared by people outside of their age group,” Dede said. “With this video contest, we ask high school students in Oregon to create a video that would inspire their friends about the importance of speaking up in the workplace. In addition to awarding cash prizes to the student producers, and matching prizes to their schools, we use the videos throughout the year in classrooms and workshops, and encourage others to use them as well.”
Good luck to all the students – in BC, Oregon, and any where else people are holding such contests – and thanks to Dede for sharing her story. The Oregon finalists can be viewed on the OregonSafetyHealth YouTube channel. You can visit – and vote for – BC contestants at the WorkSafeBC website.
If you’d like to connect with Dede and her team at Oregon’s Center for Research on Occupational and Environmental Toxicology, you can:
Follow them on Twitter (where they are @CROETatOHSU)
Like the CROET Facebook Page
Read their blog Oregon and the Workplace
April 05, 2012
The first week of April is designated as Global and National Asbestos Awareness Week.
Many groups – like the Mesothelioma Center – are working hard to share information on the deadly effects of asbestos exposure. Last fall, on CBC radio, I heard the story of Heidi Von Palleske, who recorded a plea from her mother in the last days of her life with mesothelioma – a rare cancer nearly always caused by asbestos exposure. She asked government and the asbestos industry to end Canadian mining and exports.
The same week I heard about Heidi and her mom, I received an email from Ben Leer, public outreach coordinator for the Mesothelioma Center. He introduced himself and the US-based Center, which according to its website is “a one-stop resource for all asbestos- and mesothelioma-related issues, from occupational exposure to treatment options.”
I wrote about Ben’s introduction and his offer to share any information I might need. I contacted him again this week for his suggestions on what to include in this post on asbestos awareness resources – and here they are:
Designating a week to a cause
Global and National Asbestos Awareness Week was designated by the U.S. senate as the first week of April. One group who lobbied hard for this recognition is the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization, formed in 2004 to raise public awareness and connect affected workers.
Here in BC, WorkSafeBC released a new asbestos website this year – HiddenKiller.ca.
The new WorkSafeBC site describes how to handle asbestos safely. If you are concerned about exposure in your own workplace, or want more information, call 604 276-3100 in the Lower Mainland or 1 888 621-7233 toll-free elsewhere in BC. Call 1 866 922-4357 for after hours emergencies.
If you think you’ve been exposed to asbestos (or any harmful substance), this information can help you get medical attention ASAP if needed. It’s alarming to think about these possibilities, but good to know there are options and support in numbers.
Asbestos in the news
Asbestos campaign aims to halt deadly exposures from WorkSafe Magazine, March/April 2012
Asbestos in Brakes: One community’s struggle from CBC News, Mar 12, 2012
Demolition firm sentenced over demolition danger from the UK’s Health and Safety Executive, Mar. 20, 2012
OHS practitioners urged to take greater role in anti-asbestos lobby from Canadian Occupational Safety Magazine, Jan 4, 2012.