June 11, 2013
Starting a new business is exciting. It’s also a big job to get everything going – inventory, workspace, hiring, and ensuring a safe workplace.
On that last point, this includes registering for WorkSafeBC coverage, paying premiums, and maintaining safety-related records.
To make it easier for small business owners, here’s what WorkSafeBC is now offering some new digital resources for free download.
Ebooks for your iPad
Ebooks for your iPad? That would have sounded very strange five years ago, don’t you think? Sometimes my mom makes fun of the technology I talk about with my dad and brother at dinner – so I can’t help but think of it sometimes!
In any case, once you download these new ebooks to your iPad, you don’t need an internet connection to watch them and record information specific to your own workplace. You can watch it from the ferry deck, the shop floor, the bush, or anywhere (as long as your iPad is charged).
Small Business and WorkSafeBC is a two-book set. The first book, subtitled Registration, responsibilities, and premiums, offers basic information on registering with WorkSafeBC. The second book, subtitled Workplace incidents and the claims process, provides basic information on what to do if someone is injured at work.
The ebooks explain the basics of workplace safety – with lots of how-to sections to help employers navigate the process of keeping workers safe, following regulations, paying premiums, dealing with paperwork, and connecting with safety professionals who can help.
Small Business Primer: A Guide to WorkSafeBC – PDF available for download
It covers pretty much the same good information as above, but in a print format for those who prefer it. Download it now – and do let me know how you like it.
May 30, 2013
Summer job season is getting closer, and for many young people this means a first job.
As parents of young people, we expect employers to look out for their safety, but we can’t always rely on it. We can’t always be there to look out for our kids – especially once they get into the workforce – so make sure they know how to look out for their own safety.
New, young workers are often eager to please, especially in a new job. They may not want to question authority or appear “dumb” if they don’t understand instructions the first time.
WorkSafeBC has identified workers between the ages of 15 and 24 as being “highly vulnerable to workplace injury”, so let’s talk with them and be sure they know it’s okay to ask questions or refuse unsafe work.
Top 7 dangers to young workers
According to WorkSafeBC, young workers face seven top dangers on the job, as shown in the table below.
Review and discuss these common injuries and prevention measures with young workers in your life – and make sure they are ready to stand up for themselves. Check out the young workers resource page from WorkSafeBC, where you’ll find lots of conversation-starters – along with RaiseYourHand.com.
May 07, 2013
If you haven’t already, check out WorkSafeBC’s safety videos app. There have been nearly 14 million online views of WorkSafeBC safety videos, and with the app you can download videos to your iPhone, iPod touch, iPad, and Android smartphones and tablets and then watch them anytime, even when you don’t have an internet connection.
“The beauty of the downloading option is that workers and employers can watch the videos wherever they want – on a ferry, at a logging camp, at a construction site, or in the basement of a building,” says Gordon Thorne, manager of Product and Program Development at WorkSafeBC.
“If there’s no wi-fi or cell coverage, it’s not a problem – they can still show the videos as a part of their safety meetings, crew talks, or training sessions.”
WorkSafeBC’s 150+ videos, organized by industry and topic, are also helpful to WorkSafeBC’s prevention officers working with employers, says Gordon.
“If an officer has an idea about a specific safety issue at a worksite, he or she can download the relevant videos through the app, and show them to the employer and workers right at the jobsite. I’ve already demonstrated the app to a few officers and they’re quite excited.”
It’s amazing to see how the internet and its evolving technology can extend the reach of the safety message. WorkSafeBC started producing videos in 1986 – first available on VHS, then on disk – and they distributed about 250 videos on disk per year until they started putting videos online in 2006. As of March 2013, almost 20 percent of WorkSafeBC videos were watched on mobile devices.
Now WorkSafeBC has over 500 videos online and more subscribers to their YouTube channel than any other OHS organization – including the US government.
October 04, 2012
What do safety inspectors look for in a construction supervisor? See what inspectors tell carpentry students in this video from the Ontario Ministry of Labour. A construction supervisor is “the key person to make safety happen in a construction project,” says inspector Micheal Chappell, speaking on the video. “They’re there at the beginning, from the first worker until the last worker leaves.”
The countdown is on to Bridging the Gap in BC. The 2012 construction safety conference is November 22 to 24 in Richmond, so mark your calendars.
September 13, 2012
“All too often, supervisory tasks are imposed on employees without considering the nature of those new responsibilities. This results in giving a new job to someone who does not have the skills or knowledge to do it,” says Earl Galavan, OHS Advisor for SafetyDriven – the Trucking Safety Council of BC.
In this blog post, Earl asks some important questions about how employers can be sure their new supervisors understand due diligence.
“Has your new supervisor ever instructed anyone? Do they know how to evaluate competence and set standards that promote the company safety policy?
“When there is instructing to be done, has anyone taken the time to show the new supervisor how to record who was trained and in what?” Earl asks. “They need to know why all this documentation is important and how it serves to establish your due diligence.”
The standard of due diligence is defined as “taking all reasonable care to protect the well-being of employees or co-workers,” according to this Due Diligence checklist from WorkSafeBC.
According to the Due Diligence checklist, supervisors must:
- Receive training to perform their safety and health responsibilities
- Give crew talks/conduct safety meetings
- Participate in inspections
- Conduct incident/accident investigations
- Take action to correct reported hazards
- Conduct orientation
- Conduct on-the-job training
- Evaluate training to ensure that it is effective
- Monitor work conditions and practices in areas where they have responsibility
- Correct employees not following rules and procedures
- Keep records of progressive discipline
- Have OH&S considered as an element in their performance evaluation
That’s a tall order. Without the skills listed above, a supervisor will not be ready to take on the important job of managing others’ safety. Below are some resources that will help prepare new supervisors – and, if you have any to share, please let me know.
Supervising for safety – a free, online course for supervisors from WorkSafeBC
How to deliver a crew talk from WorkSafeBC
July 17, 2012
I asked a former construction supervisor what he did when workers showed up drunk, hungover, or on drugs.
“As a lead hand, I used to send workers home in the morning if I thought they were still impaired, or smelled too fresh. I would just tell them: ‘I think maybe it was a mistake to come in today, you should have phoned in sick, and I am sending you home,’” he said.
“I wouldn’t report alcohol or drug problems because that would lead to a drug test, and then an indefinite suspension until a doctor cleared them to return to work. It was discreet, efficient. No blaming. Of course, this happened to some more than others, and they were almost always the first laid off when the crew was downsized at the end of the job.”
But discreetly sending someone home really isn’t enough, even though the supervisor felt he was acting with compassion and perhaps adhering to the “don’t rat people out” code. As he said, it happened to some more than others – and there’s a good chance the repeat offenders will create a serious safety hazard before anyone notices their state of mind.
Online course for supervisors
A supervisor in his postion would benefit from this online course for employers Supervising the Drug-free Workplace – from the BC Council on Substance Abuse.
This “practical guide” offers employers an opportunity “to increase their awareness and understanding of substance abuse; help them identify performance problems caused by substance abuse; learn how to discuss problems with employees; and most important, teach supervisors/leaders how to gain an employee’s commitment to correct the problem,” reads the course info sheet.
It takes four hours in total – delivered in two sessions, two hours each, scheduled at specific times. In the meantime, check out A Deadly Silence: Substance Abuse and Accidents – a video that tells the story of four workers whose personal and work lives were affected.
The video – sponsored in 2007 by MacMillan Bloedel, IWA Canada, and WorkSafeBC – discusses the issue of “ratting people out” and the fact that many adhere to a code of silence when their coworkers come to work in an altered state. Some don’t want to risk the job of someone who’s supporting a family – but the video’s main message is that people who abuse substances at work need help – and everyone around them needs to be protected from their unsafe work practices.
June 28, 2012
While young workers are known for their higher injury rate, older workers’ injuries tend to be more serious.
UBC’s Partnership for Work, Health, and Safety reports that women between 55 and 64 are three times more likely to experience a severe fall than women 15 to 24 years old – and women working in health care are three to four times more likely to incur a serious injury as men in that industry.
They released these findings in a new report based on their analysis of WorkSafeBC data on serious injuries from 2002 and 2008.
“Serious injuries result in more severe medical diagnoses, longer periods of disability, and higher compensation claim costs, and thus are key targets for injury prevention initiatives,” reads the report.
Prevention initiatives for older workers are especially important because this group of workers is growing in proportion to other age groups. The UBC report notes that the 55 to 64-year-old segment of the Canadian workforce grew faster than any other age group between 2001 and 2006.
Older workers’ safety issues
Older workers take longer to heal and recover compared to their younger counterparts. They’re more prone to sprains and strains – and the exact same injury can hit an older person much harder.
“When the 18-year-old working at a fast-food restaurant, for example, slips on a greasy French fry, he’s likely to get right back up; his 60-year-old colleague might well suffer a broken hip,” said WorkSafeBC ergonomist Peter Goyert in this WorkSafe Magazine article from Jan/Feb 2011.
“On average, if you’re injured on the job and need time off, you’ll miss your age in days. A 20-year-old will miss 20 work days; a 60-year-old, 60 days, and so on.”
Solutions for this group of workers include ergonomic tools and set-ups, shift rotation, part-time employment, and pre-shift stretching – many of which are explored in the links below. It will be interesting to see what springs from the new study – and in the meantime, here’s more info.
Tapping into a Unique Labour Force from go2
Use Ergonomics to Keep Older Workers Healthy & Safe – from OHS Insider
Safe and Healthy: A Guide to Managing an Aging Workforce from the Government of Alberta
Aging Workers from the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety
The Sloan Centre for Aging and Work from Boston College
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
March 01, 2012
The first four entries are posted and I’ve got to say I’m pretty impressed with the creative ways they answer the question: “What motivates you, your friends, or your family to come home safely from work?”
It’s WorkSafeBC’s seventh annual video contest for BC youth in Grades 8 to 12 and from now until April 13, more will be added so you can vote for your favourites.
My 11-yr-old son and I watched the first ones, and both agreed our favourite (so far) is “Because of my cat.” In it, one actor wears costumes of workers in different industries – each of whom had his own quirky reasons for getting home safely. This video makes great use of humour to deliver a serious message and answers the question in its very title.
Using the videos after the contest
Teachers, parents, and employers can use the winning videos long after the contest closes and prizes are awarded. These creative pieces keep on giving: useful in schools, training, and new worker orientation. Entries for past years are available, so have a look.
This delivery – for youth by youth – is seen by many as an effective way to get young people thinking about workplace safety and other important issues. I really enjoyed all the videos, as always, and look forward to more.
Please spread the word if you know any BC students in Grades 8 to 12. Entry deadline: April 13, 2012 at 5 p.m.
November 24, 2011
On Saturday Nov. 19, I visited a conference for construction safety workers who want to “bridge the gap” in their knowledge about the industry’s health and safety issues. I visited safety product vendors and service consultants at the trade show portion, then went to a seminar called Pre-Inspection to Ensure Your Protection.
A group of safety product demonstrators were stationed at tables where they gave 12-minute demos on what construction safety officers need to look for when inspecting personal protective equipment. The session was led by sales manager Derek Malone, of HazMasters.
“As a safety officer, you’re going to deal with multiple trades coming in with safety equipment,” Derek told me, as he timed the sessions and led attendees to their next PPE demo station.
He said the session “gives a general introduction to some of the things to look for” when they inspect equipment used for gas detection, fall protection, and other types of PPE.
Networking for construction safety pros
Derek explained the spark behind the conference.
“The original intent of Bridging the Gap was to give construction safety officers the vision to see what else they can do – other than taking what they learned in their programs – and continue to evolve it and network with other officers and safety manager who have got to a higher level,” he said. “Some of the concerns were younger CSOs coming out and not knowing what was available as a career path. Sometimes they got to a job and didn’t have the support. They have the ability to speak with somebody here – maybe a manager for a larger company – who says ‘This is the support you should have.’ Then they can see what they can work towards.”
Stay tuned for more stories from people I met at the conference that was sponsored by WorkSafeBC in partnership with the BC Construction Safety Alliance, BC Association of Restoration Contractors, Canadian Society of Safety Engineering, HazMasters, Applied Science Technologists and Technicians of BC, and BCIT.