September 25, 2012
“It’s OK to refuse unsafe work and to ask about workplace safety.”
“If you don’t know – ask! There are no dumb questions. Learn about your safety rights & obligations.”
The Ontario Ministry of Labour posted these and other messages – known on Twitter as “tweets” – every Monday this summer.
The Ministry posts as @OntMinLabour on Twitter and they have a healthy following of nearly 5400 people. In comparison, @speakinofsafety is coming up on 2000 followers (so follow me if you aren’t already!)
I asked Bruce Skeaff, social media planner for the Ontario MOL’s Communications and Marketing Branch, to tell me more about this outreach effort.
“I chose young workers for that time period for a natural reason – so many young people holding summer jobs,” Bruce said, via email, adding that the MOL doesn’t have a big following among school or university-aged Ontarians.
“But we do have an audience of people involved with those summer students, from parents to employers to unions, HR professionals, health and safety officers in workplaces, and so forth. The feature was useful to them personally and as items to perhaps pass along to young people in their lives.”
How often should you tweet?
That’s one of the first questions most people ask. MOL tweets at least four to seven times a day Monday to Friday, as far as I can tell. They also respond to people with questions about government services and legislation, directing them to answers. This is a really good example of government using technology to listen to people, collaborate, and generate solutions.
“If you are going to be using social networking sites, then you need to be active, and on a regular basis, not occasionally,” Bruce said. “If you tweet or post on Facebook only every several days with gaps of silence in between, you’re not going to build an audience. People will find little value in following you. We work on our Twitter and Facebook sites under that premise, making sure we’re active – and usefully active, not just active for the sake of creating noise.”
Bruce said the Young Worker Monday messages were usually “re-tweeted” – or forwarded – at least a dozen times, which is pretty decent.
Another good example of government using Twitter is the BC Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure – @TranBC on Twitter. I wrote about them in my post Asking road users what they need re: their online survey on where drivers want to see the next highwaycam.
July 12, 2012
Some says it’s the similarity to CB radio that makes Twitter popular among truckers.
I’ve heard this from a few of the trucking folks online – including, for example, the TruckerToTrucker blog.
“The social networking site, with its mini-blog format, is the perfect online medium for truckers. Twitter lends itself equally well to long periods of inactivity or short breaks,” reads this post that lists top truckers to follow on Twitter.
Consider the similarities. Both Twitter and CB radio use brief, to-the-point comments and allow people to connect from remote places. You communicate with people you don’t know and form remote relationships – via radio or the Internet – with people you’ve never met in real life.
Both use their own abbreviations that might not make sense to others who don’t use these forms of communication. But for truckers – and others who spend a lot of time alone – these abbreviations and short updates keep them connected with others, for work, idea exchange, and company during long hours of solitude. I picture the truckers I follow – parked at rest stops, catching up on tweets, and sharing their opinions.
Truck and transport folks in BC
I asked John McMahon, executive director of the Trucking Safety Council of BC, if he knew how many truckers in our province are on Twitter – but it’s hard to get hard and fast stats at this point in time. There’s no central place to monitor this sort of information, and people find their own connections on Twitter in many different ways.
John described how the TSCBC continues its efforts to connect with truck and transport folks.
“We are using social media to reach out to our community and establish a relationship with them to help support them in their health and safety interests,” he said, via email. “By doing so, we (TSCBC) hope to engage more and more trucking companies and drivers in initiatives, programs and awareness campaigns that will ultimately improve their health and safety and that of others connected with the industry.”
What’s your Twitter handle?
You can follow me on Twitter, where I’m @SpeakinofSafety – and, if I’m not following you yet, please leave your Twitter handle in the Comments below.
July 05, 2012
It is estimated that one million BC youth between the ages of 17 and 25 have Facebook accounts. On average, each Facebook user has 190 Facebook friends.
“As such, targeting prevention messages through Facebook and engaging the viral aspects of social media presents an opportunity to extend injury prevention awareness to a large audience of youth,” says Trudi Rondeau, WorkSafeBC’s Young and New Worker manager.
Trudi and her team are inviting BC residents 13 and older to visit the new Dangerously Exposed Facebook page, where they can play a new game and enter to win an iPad.
“The game focuses on exposure hazards that present the greatest risk to youth – noise, chemicals and airborne particles like asbestos and silica dust,” Trudi says. “The message is serious, but game play is fun. And we’re really hoping the viral element of Facebook helps build a big community of players.”
Players “Like” the game on Facebook and see how their score compares among their Facebook friends who play. In it, participants look at pairs of photos to identify which worker is more dangerously exposed to a hazard. At the end, a results page shows how they’ve scored and describes how to avoid the exposures shown.
Players can also submit a story explaining how they work to make their own workplace safer, then have a Facebook friend verify the story. WorkSafeBC will judge the stories and award a new iPad to both the player and the verifier.
Some of the stories will be shared on the Dangerously Exposed Facebook page – such as this one from Sydney DiBenedetto, winner of WorkSafeBC’s Student Safety Video Contest, who reminded her friend to use the safety guard on a table saw in shop class.
July 03, 2012
“Where would you like to see a BC HighwayCam in our province to better help you know before you go?”
It’s an important question indeed – for working drivers and the public – and throughout June it was TranBC‘s monthly survey question. These cameras contribute to the safety of all road users who can go online, see road conditions, and plan their routes.
TranBC is an online education, awareness, and engagement initiative of the BC Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure. It was on Twitter that I first saw a link to their HighwayCam survey – and I wondered how many participated.
I asked Russel Lolacher, director of social media for the BC Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure’s Business Management Services. He said (on June 21) they had received more than 500. (Update: “FYI, we ended up with over 700 responses to the web cam survey. Great feedback as to where people want new cams,” said @TranBC via Twitter on July 3).
“BC highway webcams are one of our most popular online services here at the Ministry of Transportation, and to better serve the public, we want to engage those that use them,” Russel said, via email. “We would like to hear from professional drivers due to their experience, travelling our transportation consistently. Their knowledge is invaluable, as is their input.”
Starting conversations and building relationships
TranBC is using many platforms to connect with their stakeholders – i.e., this survey, along with Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and more (see below). I asked Russel if he had any advice for organizations who want to use this social media technology to get input from their own stakeholders.
“The best piece of advice I would recommend is not to look at it as using technology, but rather as hearing from people. The social platforms you’ve just mentioned are just tools, it’s the human engagement that matters most regardless of the medium you use,” Russel said.
“To be successful in hearing from your stakeholders, an organization has to look at it as an ongoing conversation and relationship building, rather than ‘one-offs.’ Through our social channels such as TranBC and DriveBC, we are working to build a long-term presence as the online BC Transportation resource for the travelling public.”
Each month, TranBC is launching a different survey. In July, the public is invited to share their views on how Transportation and Infrastructure can improve its level of customer service.
June 07, 2012
“The biggest part of safety in my opinion, is being armed with the proper information, thus giving you the ability to make proper choices,” says Joel Cajapin, a forklift trainer in BC who tweeted a link to a “very useful WorkSafe BC app for iPhones and Androids. http://bit.ly/IScKhX”
He’s talking about the latest version the Occupational Health and Safety Regulation app. The first version, for iPhone, was downloaded 6,729 times, so a second version was released in March to include Android users.
“Both versions allow users to search and browse the Regulation, policies, and WorkSafeBC standards, and share content by email with colleagues. The app loads onto the device so it can be used even when no cell or wireless service is available — such as a remote worksite or basement of a building,” reads this WSBC update on the app.
I asked Joel (who is @fit_trainer on Twitter) how/when he uses the OHSR app.
“As a Forklift Safety Trainer, I use it to make sure I am delivering current Regulations during my courses,” he said via Twitter direct message. “Also, a very good source for reference when course participants have questions and/or need clarification on regulations requirements.”
Sharing through Twitter
This is a great example of social media used well – when something helps you, so you pass it on to others who might benefit as well. I asked Joel what inspired him to tweet a link to it.
“I just wanted to spread the word. I’ve come across several people that were unaware of the minimal requirements of the regs,” Joel wrote. “Bottom line, I am more concerned about people going home to their families in the same condition they showed up for work on any given day.”
Thanks to Joel for sharing. What’s the best safety resource you’ve found through social media lately?
May 08, 2012
“Webinar” stands for web-based seminar – and this platform is a great way for people to connect and share information from any where.
I took part in a webinar hosted by the BC Forest Safety Council and listened to a presentation called How WorkSafeBC Sets Rates, by Gerry Paquette, a manager in WorkSafeBC’s Certification and Rate Modification Department. It was the first time this popular in-person seminar was offered by webinar.
How it works
I received an email invite to the webinar from Laura Maguire – BCFSC’s manager of training and development. It included a link to join online, using a program called WebEx, so at meeting time, I re-opened Laura’s email, clicked the link, and followed the easy instructions to get online.
If you don’t have a computer with a mic, speakers, and an internet connection, you can still take part by calling in from any phone and watching online.
About 10 of us connected via computer and phone and were greeted by moderator Gerard Messier, who explained the system and let us know we were on “mute.” No one could hear us unless we “un-muted” ourselves to ask a question, and we could also type our questions into a text box for the moderator to ask.
Gerry gave a high-level introduction to how WorkSafeBC set its rates using an employer classification system. He “shared” his computer desktop with the online participants, allowing them to see the diagrams and notes on his screen – and at the end, everyone had a chance for their specific questions.
BCFSC has already offered other webinars that cover injury management, ergonomic solutions, and high-frequency injuries such as slips, trips, falls, overexertion, and struck by incidents. They’re also sharing their use of technology with training managers at other industry safety associations – seeing how they can use it to serve the employers who rely on them for training and safety certification.
It’s exciting to picture what this techology can offer – especially to employers and stakeholders in remote areas. I’m glad I had a chance to take part, and I’ll follow up with more webinar options for you in the future.
March 22, 2012
Recently on Twitter (where I am @SpeakinOfSafety) I noticed this link: How About An Easy Free Safety Tip, posted by Kyle Thill of Toyota-Lift Minnesota. It leads to his blog post reminding forklift drivers that a simple honk is one way to keep pedestrians safer.
As I read the post, I thought about how much Kyle does to build online community. On Twitter (where he is @ToyotaEquipment) Kyle tweets every post I publish here on Speaking of Safety. Every day, he spreads the safety message and connects people by re-tweeting other people’s comments and links on Twitter.
Every Tuesday, Kyle takes part in a Twitter tradition known as “Facebook Liking Tuesday” – shortened to #FBLT on Twitter. In case you don’t know, the # symbol is known as a “hashtag” which is used to mark a theme or topic. He told several people about the Speaking of Safety Facebook page – many of whom showed their support for this blog by clicking the Like button.
Another popular hashtag is #FF, which stands for Follow Friday. Kyle does a lot of #FF posts on Twitter – which, in other words, means he suggests different people to follow on Twitter. Many times he’s suggested me.
Why does he do it?
I asked Kyle, via Twitter direct message (between him and I), what motivates him to introduce so many safety people to one another on social media. I asked why he does it.
“Primary is representing our people, our company and our original equipment manufacturers in a positive light,” Kyle said. “We were at a loss to explain why our OEs weren’t using social media. They would praise social media, but their actions didn’t support that praise.”
Many companies and organizations are setting up new social media accounts – and Kyle’s efforts will help them to engage with one another. I invite you to enter your social media coordinates in the Comments. I’ll follow your safety tweets on Twitter and Like your Facebook page – and if you have any questions about getting started, feel free to ask me in the Comments or by email.
A sample of seven safety folks to follow on Twitter
February 09, 2012
In case you’re thinking of joining the business-related social networking site LinkedIn – but haven’t checked it out yet – here’s an example of what it offers the safety community.
Once you sign up for LinkedIn (a basic account is free) you can join groups that focus on particular topics such as workplace safety. One such group, Occupational Health and Safety, has more than 2,800 members from around the world, including safety consultants and people from government departments, safety association, and safety product companies.
An occupational health advisor at a UK factory posted this question to the group: “Can anyone recommend a back care/manual handling leaflet that would be appropriate to give employees following manual handling training? Any suggestions gratefully received.”
I suggested she check out Back Talk: An Owner’s Manual For Backs – available free online from WorkSafeBC. Okay, it’s not exactly a leaflet, but it’s still got a lot of great info and would work for people with computer access.
Another answer came from a senior safety specialist in South Carolina who suggested she try Back to Backs from Krames StayWell, a company that sells pamphlets in bulk for consumer health outreach. She suggested searching “back care” on the Krames site, where there are many more publications available on the topic.
I noticed this same physician posted a suggestion on another question to this group, from a safety manager in Dallas who said, “Looking to initiate a pre-shift stretching program, anything you can share would be welcome.”
The Florida member posted a link to a program called Stretch It Out. Many others shared their personal experiences, and I decided to add my two cents by posting a link to Workplace Warm-ups and Stretches from FIOSA-MIOSA, which I wrote about at the beginning of this year.
Potential for answers
LinkedIn groups have a lot to offer, but it’s “buyer beware” when it comes to free advice. Many people use it as a forum for selling their safety products and consulting services, which may or may not be a good value, so you’ll have to rely on your best judgment, as you would in face-to-face interactions.
You’ll find a list of LinkedIn safety groups in this post – and I’d also like to know if you have any good sources for getting workplace safety information online. Add your two cents by commenting below. If you feel shy about it, you can always use a nickname and remain anonymous.
December 08, 2011
“As a supervisor, I do inspections and take feedback from workers to deal with safety issues immediately.”
That’s what aquatics supervisor Chris Cordova wrote in his winning entry to the Raise Your Hand challenge. He had 25 words or less to answer the question “How do you raise your hand for safety at work?” and his answer won him an Xbox game package in this contest I told you about in July.
I emailed Chris to say congrats and ask him about his work – and here’s what he wrote back:
“Working with a lot of young workers, we try to prevent injuries from happening through regular inservice training. This includes how to use safety equipment… [and] we have made daily checklists for the staff to complete such as checking the diving boards to make sure they are secure and making sure none of the overnight staff left chemicals on the pool deck.
“We have regular facility inspections and… things we look for are items such as loose tiles that people could trip on, areas of the pool deck that have lost grip and may be more slippery when wet, checking lane ropes for when they become frayed so that staff don’t cut their fingers, I’m also in charge of inspecting the first aid equipment to make sure that our kits are stocked and ready to use.
“Often with my staff being on the pool deck, and the number of patrons who come into the facility, I’ll learn about safety issues from my staff directly, since my office is close to the lifeguard control room. If I’m not in and if the issue is not severe, staff will usually contact the Building Service Worker and I’ll usually have a post-it note on my door telling me of the issue. Depending on the severity of the issue, I’ll make a decision as to the best course of action whether it be closing a section of the facility, or having a staff member deal with the situation at hand (ie: cleaning). I’ll also check on staff and the facility during my work day to make sure there are no safety issues.”
I found this info on Aquatic Safety Audits from the B.C. & Yukon Branch of the Lifesaving Society
Recently at the pool, I saw some kids having a fight, and was impressed by the lifeguard’s respectful treatment of all involved. Then I found this Sample Anti-Violence Policy for Recreation Facilities from the Government of BC
Congrats again to Chris – and thanks for sharing the extra details on keeping your workers safe at the pool.
November 01, 2011
Today we have more ways than ever to share what we know. The web and social media make it easy to work with others to create change and exchange information that has social value.
A great example of this is a new, free e-learning resource from WorkSafeBC: Supervising for Safety, a nine-module online course for supervisors.
The program originated with a group of labour, businesses, and WorkSafeBC subject-matter experts – all who understand the challenges faced by new supervisors.
I read about the course in a press release, then I emailed Mike Tasker to find out more. He’s a WorkSafeBC safety officer based in Prince George and one of the program’s co-creators.
“When we talk to supervisors, many recount stories of fear when they took over. They talk about how scared they were of making a mistake and not really knowing where to turn when they had questions or problems,” Mike said.
“All too often a company will promote a long-term or productive worker thinking that he/she will automatically be an effective supervisor. But from our experience and from talking to other supervisors, we know that for most they flounder a lot in their first years – some for longer than that.”
Info delivery evolves with technology
Mike and others at WorkSafeBC responded to this need and created a two-day course that was delivered in person. Then they distilled the knowledge into an info-flip that became a top seller. Now, the new e-course is the latest manifestation of this knowledge sharing.
“We decided that we should broaden the access to the information and take it into the age of web-based communication,” Mike said. “We believe that if a company is going to be successful in safety, the key is to invest in their supervisors. We’ve often said that the employer sets the safety vision, but the supervisor gives voice to that vision.”
The e-course’s nine modules include:
- Safety Management Systems
- Keys to Effective Safety Supervision
- Communication Skills
- New/Young Worker Education and Training
- Substance Abuse
- Musculoskeletal Injury Reduction
- Workplace Evaluations
- Incident Analysis
- Claims and Disability Management Programs
Mike told me the online program – launched in September – has had interest from “around the world.” Stay tuned for news from a supervisor who used the online program and speaks very highly of it. If you’ve used the program, I’d be very interested to hear your view so please leave a comment here or email me.