March 26, 2013
NAOSH Week is getting closer (May 5–11) , so here are a few more ideas on what you can do to engage your workers and the community in thinking about this year’s question: Are you as safe as you think?
I talked with Shane Lassam, the OH&S representative for the Public Works Department of Ladysmith, on Vancouver Island, to find out what his town did to win the Local Government category for NAOSH Week 2012.
Shane said it was a jam-packed week of activities and annual training – including fire extinguisher training, building evacuations, site inspections, OHS puzzles, calendar picture contest, and the Steps for Life Walk in memory of people who died at work. Funds from the walk are used to help families coping with loss of a loved one.
“We exceeded our goal of $500 and came in at about $700,” Shane said. “It’s an awesome representation from our staff and our community in helping to support families of workplace tragedies and to also bring awareness to our young workers about how important safety is in the workplace – a great way to give back to our community.”
Safety topics and video clips were sent to staff daily – many of which were from WorkSafeBC’s YouTube channel.
Staff reviewed elementary students’ safety pictures and chose winners for Ladysmith’s 2013 safety calendar. This was followed by a ring toss using Frisbee rings and traffic cones, with safety-related prizes underneath the cones (“more difficult than expected!” said Shane).
Downtown shops created window displays that publicized all the events supporting NAOSH week – getting the community involved. The local Kinsmen held a barbecue with entertainment from the Grade 8 band. Shane shared his thanks to everyone involved – and it’s really quite awesome to see how this community joined together to make a difference.
Thanks to Shane, and congratulations to Ladysmith!
NAOSH Week 2013
NAOSH Week 2013 will be launched in BC on Monday, May 6, 2013 at noon at Shipbuilders’ Square in North Vancouver, beside Lonsdale Quay. Safety teams will demonstrate how to prevent injuries on land and save lives on the water, and Walter Gretzky will give a presentation on his own workplace injury.
December 04, 2012
The Threads of Life website describes it as a journey.
They’re talking about suddenly losing a loved one, which is something I know about first-hand, after my son’s dad died suddenly in a mountain bike accident nearly six months ago.
Even though it wasn’t at the workplace, the experience helps me to understand what it’s like for the families helped by Threads of Life.
Thankfully, my son and I have lots of support and community – but for those who need it, I’m glad to know Threads for Life is there for families dealing what we’ve been processing these last few months.
Support for Canadian families
Threads for Life supports more than 1,100 families with:
- A Family Support Program offering one-on-one peer support to family members and friends who have suffered from a workplace tragedy. The support is provided by trained Volunteer Family Guides who have also experienced a workplace tragedy.
- A support network for those who have experienced similar pain & suffering
- Links to community support services
- Advisory support regarding the workplace investigation and inquest process & opportunities to promote workplace injury prevention and awareness within their own community.
Steps for Life
I recently got an email from Mark Coderre, chair of Metro Vancouver’s Steps for Life Walk organizing committee. This annual memorial walk is sponsored by Threads of Life, supported by volunteers across Canada, like Mark.
“This will be the 4th year for the event and we feel it’s time to make this walk the event to be at for NAOSH Week activities,” Mark said. “The Metro Vancouver Organizing Committee is hard at work going after corporate and community sponsorship at all levels. (National Sponsors must be completed by December 7th). We are also going to try and get a lot more teams and corporate challenges occurring.”
Visit the Threads of Life website if you are interested in finding out more about sponsorship, donation, and volunteer opportunities. In the case of workplace incidents, the beginning of NAOSH Week is a good time to remember people who died on the job. Think about the loss – and the pain it leaves behind – then do all we can to prevent more families from suffering.
November 20, 2012
I went to the 2012 Safety Forum and Luncheon on October 25, 2012 at Newlands Golf and Country Club in Langley. I sat with some safety colleagues from the Trucking Safety Council of BC and listened to the details of this year’s winners.
The MC was John McMahon, TSCBC’s executive director. After the ceremonies, he said he was glad to see three trucking companies recognized. The TSCBC is a Certifying Partner designated by WorkSafeBC to work on safety with industry.
The winners in trucking and transport:
- Versacold Logistics/EV Logistics, who won in the Transportation of Goods category
- Air North – who recently earned COR certification from TSCBC – received Honourable Mention in Transportation of Goods
- DCT Chambers Trucking Ltd. , who won the TruckSafe Organizational Excellence Award sponsored by WorkSafeBC
You can see a complete list of winners at the WorkSafeBC website. I look forward to sharing more of their stories soon – so stay tuned.
Growing safety culture
I asked John, via email, why it’s significant that three trucking companies are recognized? Here’s what he said:
“We are seeing a growing trend in the industry to demonstrate a commitment to achieving a high standard of health and safety management. This is borne out when we look at the rising numbers of BC Trucking companies, large and small, who are becoming COR Certified.
“There is definitely greater awareness amongst trucking companies of the importance of having a sound health and safety management program that not only protects their workers but everyone that comes into contact with their businesses, from pedestrians to other road users. These three companies thoroughly deserve to be honoured in this way and I take my hat off to them for leading by example, well done.”
I asked John if he sees a growth in safety culture in trucking and related industries in BC.
“Absolutely,” he said. “ As more companies are recognized for their safety performance achievements the safety culture in our industry will grow even stronger as the realisation that good health safety equals good business sense and increased profitability. As they say in the business: ‘It’s a no brainer.’ ”
“Employers in our industry are very aware that they are in the public eye more often than some other industries. That is why many of them have engaged with our organization – to help learn about safety legislation and best practice in their industry… The best want to get better and that is always a great goal for any industry.”
New SafetyDriven website launched
Find out more about safety in BC’s trucking and related industries at the cool, new SafetyDriven website – just launched last week and a great example of what industry safety associations are offering.
May 03, 2012
I talked with Kathy, an industry specialist for WorkSafeBC, at the
2012 Western Conference on Safety trade show in Vancouver on April 23. She sits on BC’s NAOSH Week steering committee which judges NAOSH Week award entries.
“On the Day of Mourning, we recognize people who’ve had tragedies and workplace incidents, then the following week is NAOSH Week. That should be the call to action for people – to do something to make the change in their health and safety culture in their organization,” Kathy said. “How can they do that? By having safety meetings, doing training, and there are so many things organizations can do.”
Suggestions on how to take part in NAOSH Week are in the 2012 safety planner – so if you’re not taking part this year, consider what you might do in 2013.
Staff barbecues, earthquake drills, safety video competitions, PPE fashion shows, and take-home quizzes are a few options.
2012 NAOSH Week Launch
This year’s BC launch for NAOSH Week is Monday, May 7, at 10:30 a.m. at the Vancouver Airport (YVR) and the public is welcome.
The April 2012 issue of SkyTalkOnline says YVR’s NAOSH activities through the week include a health and wellness fair, an airside barbecue, and an airside clean-up walk where staff volunteers pick up loose objects like screws, luggage tags, and bits of plastic on the runway and around the terminal.
Winning NAOSH entries
Here’s some interesting NAOSH projects I’ve featured on Speaking of Safety:
What are you doing?
Please let me know – in a comment below – what you’re planning for NAOSH Week.
January 10, 2012
I’ve been following up with NAOSH (North American Occupational Safety and Health) Week 2011 winners and contacted TJ Garcha, health & safety coordinator for the BC Institute of Technology. He told me about BCIT’s NAOSH Week entry that won them the Educational Institutions category for the fifth year in a row.
In 2011, BCIT turned the NAOSH Week challenge into a WHMIS (Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System) challenge. WHMIS training is mandatory for all BCIT employees, so one of the organization’s goals was to increase staff participation in WHMIS training. To be eligible for a prize, BCIT employees had to complete their WHMIS training and then enter their name into the prize pool before the end of NAOSH Week.
This year the prize pool was bigger than ever, with 35 prizes and lots of giveaways from health and safety exhibitors. “Any time there are prizes or incentives involved, the interest level of participants goes up,” said TJ.
Other activities included “lunch and learn” sessions – on topics like “Major Events and Radiation Contamination” and the general NAOSH theme: “Prepared? What’s Your Plan?” – along with online quizzes (one for each of the five NAOSH week days) and a popular kids’ colouring contest.
“Everyone at BCIT was reminded that the more entries they got in, the better chances they had in winning a prize,” TJ said, describing “meal vouchers for use at BCIT eateries, custom hearing protection, high quality ear muffs, and a variety of gift cards from Starbucks, Toys-R-Us and Future Shop.”
Marketing NAOSH Week activities on campus
According to TJ, the campus atmosphere really lends itself to NAOSH participation.
“With a large number of students and employees on campus, advertising and marketing is quite effective and this generates interest for our many events throughout the year,” he said. “Also, with the Exhibition, we didn’t need to invite the community – the event was brought to the community. This approach helps maximize participation.”
BCIT’s health & safety exhibition during NAOSH Week included Acklands Grainger; Alda Pharmaceuticals; ER Plus; Community Fire Prevention Ltd.; F.A.S.T.; Sperian; Mediquest; Custom Protect Ear; WorkSafeBC; Wasserman Partners; Evolution Radio 107.9 FM; BCIT Safety, Security & Emergency Management; BCIT Human Resources; BCIT Audiometric Office; BCIT Recreation Services.
“Overall, NAOSH Week is an opportunity to raise awareness about Health & Safety issues to the community through a variety of different mediums. The awareness benefits everyone,” TJ said. “While organizing these fun and interactive activities, we (the organizers) learn a lot ourselves. The experience is very rewarding.”
Congratulations to BCIT and thanks to TJ for telling me his story. Visit the 2012 NAOSH Week website for more info.
December 06, 2011
A group of young warehouse workers at Versacold/EV Logistics in Metro Vancouver found an interesting way to get their coworkers thinking about what it’s like to live with an injury.
During NAOSH Week, workers organized games like eye-patch basketball, one-armed slap-shot, and one-legged golf putting – and this is one of the reasons they were chosen as best overall winner in BC’s NAOSH Week competition for 2011.
Mike Stephens, occupational health and safety manager for the Versacold’s Western Canada region, said planning for safety week begins by asking for volunteers – known as “Safety Week Champions” – to be the lead organizers for events at their facility.
“They found a way to reach out to the employees so they get the message, and they also have fun doing it,” Mike said. “At the EV Logistics locations, the workforce is largely made up of young males. One of the things of interest to young males is sports – like basketball and hockey.”
Other activities held throughout the region included a partnership with the Canadian Blood Service to hold a blood drive clinic, multiple in-house forklift rally competitions, evacuation drills, health and fitness seminars, and more.
“We have participated in NAOSH week in the region since 2006. It is a great opportunity to focus on safety initiatives, have some fun and take some time to reflect on the importance of working safe every day in our jobs,” Mike said, describing what he likes about NAOSH Week.
“It’s good to see people get really enthused about safety. The safety champions at each facility are great at developing new innovative and creative ideas to promote safety during NAOSH Week. The really rewarding part is the cultural change in our employees and overall improvements to safety in our organization.”
Mike accepted the award on behalf of Versacold, but he gave credit to the many others who made NAOSH Week a success.
“I’ve got to hand it to the people at our facilities – the managers, the champions that sponsored and put on these events. They’re the ones who really deserve the recognition. They’re the ones who put the time and effort in. I’m just the overall organizer.”
Thanks to Mike and congrats to Versacold/EV Logistics.
November 22, 2011
Chlorine leaks can be deadly, so a proper response is critical.
Jennie Inkster, safety coordinator for the City of Kamloops, completed a set of written emergency procedures for dealing with chlorine leaks. Then she tested them with the local fire department during NAOSH Week 2011.
“Our fire department always likes to practise because once chlorine gets out – leaks don’t get better, they get worse,” Jennie told me on the phone from Kamloops.
“The fire department comes at it from a different angle than I do. I’m worried about the worker’s safety – and they’re worried about their members and how they’re going to approach the scene. They have to evacuate if they’ve got a cloud of chlorine floating.”
Jennie and her team developed a booklet of information for responding to this type of emergency, including all maps and phone numbers of people who may need to be evacuated. Now each each fire station and haz mat truck has a copy.
“That was a suggestion from the fire department – so they could look at terrain, who they’re going to need to evacuate first, and an overall map of where the actual chlorine is located and the closest houses to that,” Jennie said.
Planning your route to the emergency
Jennie said they discovered another route that the fire department could take, if needed.
“There’s one way in that the City uses, but there’s another way we can come at it depending on which way the wind is. You might not necessarily be able to get at it from our main entrance that we use right now and it’s basically through a farmer’s field,” Jennie said. “But they have to be careful. It depends on the type of year because their trucks are so heavy they could get stuck. Some of that stuff came up and was discussed and it was really great.”
This exercise, along with other activities at work and in the community, earned Kamloops three NAOSH Awards: Best New Entry at the national level and in BC’s Local Government category and Best Presentation of Theme. Congratulations to all!
See Chlorine Safe Work Practices by WorkSafeBC
November 10, 2011
NAOSH Week organizers suggest different ways to participate – one of which is “setting new goals for workplace health and safety.”
That’s what the health and safety committee did at Tourism Whistler, winner in BC’s NAOSH Week Tourism/Hospitality category.
I learned about Tourism Whistler’s goal-setting from Dennis Ranada, senior building operations manager and OHS committee chair. He and his team work for safety at this non-profit organization that represents 7,000 members who own, manage, and operate properties or businesses on resort lands. They also operate the Whistler Conference Centre, Whistler Golf Club, Whistler Visitor Centre, and Coast Mountain Reservations.
Following up on promises
Dennis chairs the 12-member OHS committee that includes reps from each department. In 2010, the committee asked all departments to submit a list of safety commitments in writing – then, a year later, they went back and checked progress “to make sure they kept their promise.”
Dennis said their overall goals are to “minimize incidents, reduce our WorkSafe premiums, take a leadership role in the community and most of all, go home to our families safe and in one piece.”
During NAOSH week, staff also took part in fire extinguisher training, fire drills, earthquake drills, nutrition seminars, yoga, and an ergonomic seminar with desk site assessments.
Using foresight before work orders
Dennis encourages other operations managers to “take the leadership role in promoting H&S in their organization” and work closely with the loss and prevention officers who tend to be the leaders of OHS programs.
“Both roles should work side by side. Most of the deficiencies, action items, and investigations fall on the operations/maintenance personnel to complete, so it would be wise to have the manager be more proactive to mitigate potential hazards versus getting the work orders after the fact,” Dennis said.
For more info, read Managing Employee Performance at Tourism Whistler on the website of go2 – the BC tourism and hospitality industry’s human resource association.
Congratulations Tourism Whistler and thanks again to Dennis.
March 03, 2011
Steps For Life is a fundraising walk to raise money for families who lost loved ones in workplace tragedies. On April 30 or May 1, 2011, people in 33 Canadian communities will walk together and remember the human faces behind the statistics.
“We set up pictures and stories, on the walk, of people who have died throughout the year. As you’re walking you get to read the real person’s story,” said Tanya Steele – one of the organizers of Metro Vancouver’s second annual Steps For Life walk on April 30.
“It’s recognizing the reality of how many people are actually killed at work. I think it’s important for people to understand that people are still dying at work. That is ridiculous. People shouldn’t be dying at work,” said Tanya, director of training and client services at ER Plus Risk Management Group in Richmond.
I met Tanya at the NAOSH Week awards last fall and called her recently to see what she’s working on these days. She told me about her volunteer work with Steps For Life, a project she’s doing with two of her coworkers and other volunteers from the Canadian Society of Safety Engineers and Threads of Life – a national organization formed in 2003 by grieving family and friends.
ER Plus is supplying first aid services for the Metro Vancouver walk – and local sponsors are still needed for contributing food and other donations to this family event that marks the start of NAOSH Week. Last year, it was mainly adults, but organizers are hoping more kids will attend this time. They might even get a bouncy castle!
Interested sponsors can email Tanya at email@example.com.
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!