Don’t hydroplane in rain

November 13, 2012

Photo credit: woodleywonderworks on Flickr

Recently I was sitting inside – writing about safety – and I kept hearing mega-splashes on the road. I realized, from the sound, that the leaves had clogged the drain on the road, which could lead to hydroplaning.

Instead of sitting inside, writing about safety, I decided to go outside and deal with the problem. So I grabbed an old broom, walked to the intersection, pressed the pedestrian button, and stood back about three metres to avoid getting showered by puddle water from passing cars.

When the cars came to a stop at the pedestrian light, I looked around carefully, went to the edge of the road, and stabbed the end of the broom into the slimey blob of leaves blocking the drain grate. The mini-lake drained instantly, bubbling and swirling down into the sewer. I went inside and got back to work – feeling most satisfied about my little safety fix.

But there are many other big patches of water on the road and it’s important to “Drop your speed to match road conditions,” according to this tip on the Shift Into Winter website by the Winter Driving Safety Alliance Partners.

Add leaves to the mix and it’s even worse – especially when they clog the drains and big puddles form, putting cars at risk of hydroplaning, which can cause drivers to lose control.

“Hydroplaning occurs when a thin layer of water causes your tires to lose contact with the road,” reads this Road Safety announcement from the City of Port Coquitlam, advising drivers to do the following if their vehicles hydroplane:

  • Keep both hands on the steering wheel, steering gently in the direction you want your car to go
  • Slow down, and do not slam on the brakes
  • Ensure your tires are properly inflated, have good tread, and are “all weather” tires designed for bad road conditions

Check out Road Safety at Work if you drive as part of your job, and check out this video on what to if you hydroplane.

Safety culture story from WorkSafe Montana

November 05, 2012

To BC from Montana via Internet- image captured from Google Maps

This video tell the story of a safety culture led by an employer who, years ago, was injured at work and off for five years.

It’s from WorkSafe Montana, and Terry Bogyo showed it at the MakeItSafe conference. He was talking about re-wiring safety culture and showed this video as an example of it in action.

We may be separated by distance and a national border, but BC and Montana (and many other jurisdictions) are working towards the same goals.

In the past, we would have ordered videos from other regions (if we knew about them) that would be delivered by mail, with postage, through customs. But now – thanks to the Internet – we can just click “Play” and watch it instantly. Is that not incredibly cool, when you think about it?

Supervising construction safely: a video

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.

Dealing with workers’ substance abuse

July 17, 2012

From the video "A Deadly Silence: Substance Abuse and Accidents"

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.

2012 Student Video Contest winners

July 10, 2012

From New Canadian Workers: New Home in One Piece by students at Sir Charles Tupper Secondary

Home in one piece: What motivates you, your friends, or your family to come home safely from work?

That was the 2012 theme for the seventh annual WorkSafeBC Student Video Contest – which generated 66 YouTube entries, representing the work of 195 students from 135 schools.

A number of safety organizations sponsored the project and took part in the judging process – using criteria from WorkSafeBC – including ACTSafe, the organization that promotes health and safety in the performing arts and motion picture industries. I spoke with Dawn Brennan, ACTSafe’s general manager, about her experience as a judge.

“It was such an amazing gamut of videos,” Dawn said, describing how she and her staff met and watched them together. ” I love the fact that high school kids took this seriously. The messages were all so varied but interesting, and it was such emotional impact they made. A couple had me in tears.”

Dawn said she enjoyed talking with the creators about their work, when she met them at an awards ceremony. One was very interested in film-making as a career, and Dawn says she is going to distribute the students’ videos to her network of industry contacts.

Congratulations to all winners – see winning vids here – and thanks for doing your part to share an important message.

Reaching young BC workers on Facebook

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.

The Pain Game: funny new video tackles serious topic

June 26, 2012

WorkSafe Victoria just launched the first two TV spots in a new campaign to reduce slips, trips, and falls at work – showing the consequence of taking shortcuts. The Pain Game ads are a spoof of the classic game show format, and its creators’ morbid sense of humour made me laugh and cringe at the same time. Definitely worth a watch!

Safety Fool: a heads-up rap video

June 12, 2012

“Straight outta Edmonton” – from the folks at HeadsUpAb.com – this new video reminds young workers (and the rest of us) how to foster a safe workplace and “avoid acting the fool.” Matt and Chris – the Canadian safety rap duo – put a new spin on an old message for young people starting new jobs this summer. Check it out and share it with the kids in your life.

Forklift rally draws machine artists on May 5

May 01, 2012

Image from ForkLiftRally.com on YouTube

He described them as “literal artists.”

That’s how John Gilder, general manager of the Canadian Materials Handling and Distribution Society, described some of the competitors he’s seen at forklift rallies over the years.

“They are on these machines eight hours a day. That’s where their career is spent – on a machine. Some of them are incredible. It’s like the machine is a part of them,” said John, who I quoted in my post about the 2011 forklift rally.

Now it’s rolled around to that time of year again. On Saturday May 5, 2012, the 15th Annual BC Championship Forklift Rally will take place at the Cloverdale Agriplex.

Forklift operators from around BC will gather to test their knowledge in writing and their skills behind the wheel. For the first time, participants will also have a chance to win one of four pairs of Canucks tickets.

Here’s a link to more info on What is a forklift rally? The public is welcome – so check it out if you’re in the neighbourhood. Here’s what it looks like on video.

When domestic violence enters the workplace

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.