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.

Tell me your tips to prevent distracted driving

April 19, 2012

Photo credit: OregonDOT on Flickr

“Whoa! Look at that driver! He’s talking into an iPhone – right in front of his face!” yelled my passenger recently as we passed through the intersection of Main and Terminal in Vancouver, BC, Canada.

Was the driver talking to Siri?

It’s likely that most of us see examples of this bad behaviour all too often, despite BC’s ban on hand-held devices and the $167 fine levied for infractions – not to mention the risk of death or injury to oneself or (even worse) an innocent person in the vicinity.

In BC, vehicle crashes are the number one cause of traumatic work-related deaths, according to WorkSafeBC statistics. On average, approximately 30 workers in BC are killed each year while driving, and distracted driving, such as cell phone use, is a key factor in these crashes.

The DriveCellSafe.com website says 25 per cent of vehicle crashes each year can be attributed to drivers being distracted – and most of the distraction is caused by hand-held devices.

What can be so important that they are willing to risk such serious consequences? Is it just another instance of “it won’t happen to me”? Regardless of the reasons, I feel very angry to see it – and I’ve heard a lot of people who feel the same way.

If you’ve got any tips for preventing distracted driving, I’d like to hear about them in the Comments section. Tell me where you are from and what traffic is like in your region. Also, what kinds of “distracted driver” campaigns are in your jurisdiction? Check out this video (it’s not shockvertising) from Preventable.ca.

More information on driving safely at work can be found at the Road Safety at Work website

Remembering those who died at work

April 12, 2012

Image of "The Golden Tree" used with permission of artist Dean Lauzé who created it in memory of three farm workers who died in Abbotsford

One hundred and forty-two people died from workplace injury and illness in 2011 in BC.

They will be remembered – along with far too many others – at Day of Mourning ceremonies throughout BC on April 27 and 28. The ceremony taking place at the new Vancouver Convention Centre on April 27 at 10:30 a.m. will also be available via the WorkSafeBC website.

To honour the memory of fallen workers, you can wear and display Day of Mourning decals and posters, which can be ordered from WorkSafeBC (ideally by April 20).

Sharing memories in a public way shows respect for those who died, and hopefully reminds us what to avoid at all costs. Read more

Oregon looks to BC for young worker leadership

April 10, 2012

Image from The Safety Police, a student video submission from Salem Academy

I’ve been emailing with a safety contact in Oregon, and have some praise to share regarding BC’s young worker safety program.

“We are very familiar with the BC program, and consider it to be the best regarding young worker health and safety,” says Dede Montgomery, an OHS specialist at the Oregon Health and Science University’s Center for Research on Occupational and Environmental Toxicology.

Dede co-chairs the the Oregon Young Employee Safety Coalition – known by its acronym: O[yes]. The coalition formed five years ago, and this is the fourth year they’ve had the video contest.

“Since the inception of O[yes] we have looked to WorkSafeBC as the leader of organizations doing great work creating ways to reduce workplace injuries and illnesses for young people. We believe that collaboration among partners and organizations is critical to our success, and look forward to potential future collaboration with WorkSafeBC,” Dede said via email.

Oregon’s young worker safety video contest

This year, O[yes] received around 50 entries that met the contest rules, and final winners will be announced at a big screening and prize announcement on April 14 in Salem, Oregon. Nine finalist teams will explain how and why they made their videos, speaking before an audience of their peers, OHS specialists, parents, and teachers.

From the Oregon Young Worker Health and Safety website

“We know that young people listen to their peers, and have a way of communicating that isn’t always shared by people outside of their age group,” Dede said. “With this video contest, we ask high school students in Oregon to create a video that would inspire their friends about the importance of speaking up in the workplace. In addition to awarding cash prizes to the student producers, and matching prizes to their schools, we use the videos throughout the year in classrooms and workshops, and encourage others to use them as well.”

Good luck to all the students – in BC, Oregon, and any where else people are holding such contests – and thanks to Dede for sharing her story. The Oregon finalists can be viewed on the OregonSafetyHealth YouTube channel. You can visit – and vote for – BC contestants at the WorkSafeBC website.

If you’d like to connect with Dede and her team at Oregon’s Center for Research on Occupational and Environmental Toxicology, you can:
Follow them on Twitter (where they are @CROETatOHSU)
Like the CROET Facebook Page
Read their blog Oregon and the Workplace

Asbestos Awareness Week

April 05, 2012

From WorkSafeBC video: Asbestos

The first week of April is designated as Global and National Asbestos Awareness Week.

Many groups – like the Mesothelioma Center – are working hard to share information on the deadly effects of asbestos exposure. Last fall, on CBC radio, I heard the story of Heidi Von Palleske, who recorded a plea from her mother in the last days of her life with mesothelioma – a rare cancer nearly always caused by asbestos exposure. She asked government and the asbestos industry to end Canadian mining and exports.

The same week I heard about Heidi and her mom, I received an email from Ben Leer, public outreach coordinator for the Mesothelioma Center. He introduced himself and the US-based Center, which according to its website is “a one-stop resource for all asbestos- and mesothelioma-related issues, from occupational exposure to treatment options.”

I wrote about Ben’s introduction and his offer to share any information I might need. I contacted him again this week for his suggestions on what to include in this post on asbestos awareness resources – and here they are:

Asbestos: An Overview of Types, Exposure, Veterans & Diseases

Asbestos Exposure in Jobsites and Occupations


Designating a week to a cause

Global and National Asbestos Awareness Week was designated by the U.S. senate as the first week of April. One group who lobbied hard for this recognition is the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization, formed in 2004 to raise public awareness and connect affected workers.

Here in BC, WorkSafeBC released a new asbestos website this year – HiddenKiller.ca.

The new WorkSafeBC site describes how to handle asbestos safely. If you are concerned about exposure in your own workplace, or want more information, call 604 276-3100 in the Lower Mainland or 1 888 621-7233 toll-free elsewhere in BC. Call 1 866 922-4357 for after hours emergencies.

If you think you’ve been exposed to asbestos (or any harmful substance), this information can help you get medical attention ASAP if needed. It’s alarming to think about these possibilities, but good to know there are options and support in numbers.

Asbestos in the news

Asbestos campaign aims to halt deadly exposures from WorkSafe Magazine, March/April 2012

Asbestos in Brakes: One community’s struggle from CBC News, Mar 12, 2012

Demolition firm sentenced over demolition danger from the UK’s Health and Safety Executive, Mar. 20, 2012

OHS practitioners urged to take greater role in anti-asbestos lobby from Canadian Occupational Safety Magazine, Jan 4, 2012.