October 11, 2011
Here’s another story from Petr, a former mechanic who once had a job changing tires of trucks stranded on the freeways of Quebec and Ontario. He was an apprentice to Tony, who was “very, very tough.”
Once they were called in the middle of the night to a huge transport vehicle stranded near Dorval Airport.
“It looked like a crippled yellow dinosaur, kneeling by a small curb. To lift anything of that magnitude and get the wheels off, you need two jacks,” Petr explained. “You stack up large pieces of flat wood under the other jack and alternate until you have that sucker about two feet high.”
“Truckasaurus” comes down
Tony was under the rear axle, half-way through the lift, when the vehicle began to shake. Luckily Petr was paying attention.
“The wind was blowing pretty hard from the airport, and the dinosaur started rocking. I threw down the next two wooden blocks and shouted. All I could think to say was: ‘Tony, come out, it’s shaking!’
“I was tugging at his snow gear. He was on his left side when truckasaurus came down. It flexed the planks stuffed under the axle to keep it from going all the way to the ground, but Tony was still on his side. As soon as it bounced back up, he kind of flopped onto his back, and the monster rested with about half an inch to clear his chest. I pulled him out by his parka that was snagged on the big yellow axle,” Petr said.
“Tony was one of those guys who took six arrows in old Westerns – and he really was that tough. He didn’t die. He just got tougher and meaner. But that night, he went home and I had to drive his massive red truck because he couldn’t turn the wheel.”
A similar tale
Luckily Tony was relatively unhurt compared to this WorkSafeBC Hazard Alert that describes how a worker suffered a broken pelvis and tailbone after being crushed under heavy mining equipment.
Thanks again to Petr for sharing his story. If you have a story to share about safety in the workplace, please email me.
July 12, 2011
Soon I’ll have more news about the winners at the 14th Annual BC Championship Forklift Rally held on Saturday June 25th, 2011 in Cloverdale.
It’s a competition for forklift operators who work in or around the materials handling, distribution & logistics industry – testing their skills. I want to hear what it was like for the individual winners. How did they get so good at what they do?
In the meantime, I’ll tell you a story about some very unskilled forklift use. I heard it from a guy who worked in a warehouse full of industrial electric motor controls in the late 80s.
“I almost killed a guy,” said the worker, who asked to remain anonymous. “I tipped a 500-lb motor off the top of the rack with the forklift and it landed about a foot away from my coworker.”
How did the company follow up on this incident? They didn’t. It happened with two 20-year-olds alone in a warehouse. The guy’s coworker simply yelled: “Hey, be careful, dude!” and no further action was taken.
I asked if they had any training in using forklifts.
“Not really – just gas…brake…up…down,” he said.
It makes me angry to think about young people in this situation – untrained and unsupervised, using equipment that could potentially kill someone. But it’s good to see that times have changed, and there are programs like Raise Your Hand that remind young workers of their right to get proper safety training and refuse unsafe work.
Today in BC, forklift operators are expected to be trained to a CSA (national) standard.
The young worker in this story could have used WorkSafeBC’s StartSafe Forklift Safety Tips – especially Forklift Safety Tip 2: Safe use of forklifts around other workers.
Regulations and related materials include
* WorkSafeBC’s Occupational Health and Safety Regulation, Section 16.4, Competency of operators
* Section 16.7, Standards
Common Factors in Forklift Accidents from the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety
Four tips for forklift safety from Canadian Occupational Safety magazine
June 02, 2011
My friend Darcy Olson told me about a crane that dropped its big, heavy hook on a construction site in downtown Vancouver.
He was working as an industrial electrician, reviewing blueprints with his foreman on the first floor of a three-story building, when he took note of two cranes servicing the site.
“We are instructed to always avoid being under a crane load, and at least be very aware if one is flying up above us,” Darcy wrote, via Facebook.
“As we were discussing our itinerary, I noted that a rigger and a helper were flying up material to the incomplete third floor. It was a casual observance, but I was keeping my eye in their direction.
“The crane had dropped its cargo to the awaiting rigger and was in place to lower down to receive another. As I glanced up, I saw the ground-based rigger and his helper running like the devil himself was after them. One of the cables had snapped, sending the carriage hook plummeting three floors. The impact shook the ground and sent up such a plume of dust that I thought the load had dropped. That hook weighed two or three hundred pounds.
“The cable itself whipped through the air with such force it would have cut a person in half. All construction came to a halt. Luckily no one was injured, or killed. The resulting investigation revealed that the crane in question was due to be taken out of service due to its age. It was removed from the site and the other hammerhead crane serviced the rest of the project.”
Crane operator certification in BC
Crane operators in BC have been getting certified since 2007 because their work can have such serious effects when something goes wrong with the equipment, as Darcy describes. More info on this at the BC Association for Crane Safety website.
In BC, the Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) Regulations includes these two sections specific to crane operations:
Thanks again to Darcy for this second story about working in construction. The first was Unsafe Handling of Nail Guns – and there are more to come.
Do you have a story to share? Email me: firstname.lastname@example.org
April 19, 2011
My friend Dave Dawson worked as a line cook at a busy Ottawa restaurant in the late 80s. He and his coworkers ran the kitchen with little to no supervision.
One night a cook asked Dave to do something that seemed pretty sketchy.
“I was told to re-fill a deep fryer that was on,” said Dave. “Usually you’re supposed to use buckets of liquid oil because it gets hot so fast and it goes right in and heats evenly, but they said ‘open that box of lard up and put it in the deep fryer’ so I did.”
At that time, he was a young worker – under 25 – eager to please and not comfortable asking questions. Despite his better judgment, he plopped the 15-pound cube of lard into the deep fryer.
“The piece of lard got stuck at the top and it started to smoke at the sides. We really had to hack at it to make sure it didn’t go all over the place.”
The lard was similar in size to “a small television” and hacking at it didn’t help much. The smoke got thicker, so they tried another approach.
“We got very large pots for cooking sauces – that could hold probably six litres of liquid – and we scooped some of the hot oil out of the other deep fryers and poured it over the huge chunk of lard to try to melt it down.”
Thankfully no one was hurt. People need safety training and orientation in a kitchen, but this didn’t happen at Dave’s old workplace.
“In the kitchen, it would often happen at night that new people would show up. There was no sort of mentor,” said Dave. “There was no supervisor. We had a general manager, who had to manage the waiters and waitresses too, so he was not present very often.”
Hot oil can cause seriou burns and spilled oil cause horrible slipping accidents like this “shockvertising” from the WSIB.
Safety for new and young workers in restaurant kitchens
StartSafe Kitchen Safety – Tip #4: Using deep fat fryers safely, from WorkSafeBC
Health and safety issues for cooks, from OHS Answers by the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety
Restaurant Safety For Teen Workers, from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), US Dept. of Labor
Stop slips in kitchens, from Britain’s Health and Safety Executive
Virtual Kitchen, from SafeWork South Australia
November 25, 2010
One witness described it as “epic.”
Last weekend I slipped down six carpeted stairs in my house. I was hurrying, wearing slippery nylons on stone tiles on the landing, carrying a wide plastic shoe mat. I slipped and my feet flew out from under me. I yelled “Ahhhh!” really loudly on the way down and got a huge adrenalin rush.
Somehow, like a miracle, I “surfed” down all of them on my feet, still holding the shoe mat with shoes on it. I landed on my feet and started laughing, trying to gloss over the mild embarrassment factor. Two of my friends were standing at the bottom of the stairs (about to move my couch upstairs) and I had been hurrying to clear the way for them. Read more