Student video contest ‘No bullies at work’

January 07, 2015

Image from 2015 Student Safety Video Contest page of the WorkSafeBC website

Image from 2015 Student Safety Video Contest page of the WorkSafeBC website

“School is no place for bullies. Neither is work.”

That’s the theme of WorkSafeBC’s 10th annual Student Safety Video Contest – with categories for students in Grades 8to 10, Grades 11 to 12, and a new category for post-secondary students under 25 years old.

Students are invited to “…create a video (maximum 2 minutes) that explores the topic of bullying and harassment in the workplace,” reads this web page on the WorkSafeBC site.

“All styles of video are fair game: drama, comedy, documentary, music video, stop-motion, claymation, animation,” it reads.

“Entries will be judged on their impact/transferable safety message, original creative concept, and technical execution. Winners take home cash prizes and may also advance to the It’s Your Job national young worker video contest.”

How to get inspired

Think about how it feels to be bullied – or to see it happening to someone else. Are they trying to get a laugh from others at your expense? Do they put down others – thinking they are “funny” – to build themselves up? How sad they never learned how good it feels to be kind – but it’s never too late. You might call me naive, but I have much hope that bullies can learn to be nice!

I wrote about my own experience – Confronting my workplace bully – and there are now Bullying and Harassment Policies that protect workers’ rights.

“No matter what the theme is, think about, as a student, how you can connect personally to the topic,” said Robin Schooley, a young and new worker industry specialist with WorkSafeBC.

Robin told me about the Student safety video winners for 2014. She and her team put the contest together and have been excited to see its 10th anniversary.

“Whenever we bring something personal into developing something creative, it’s going to feel more natural and come across as more authentic,” Robin said.

“Find something you can connect to – whether it’s something you’ve seen your parents or your friends do. Find something you have an emotional response to, and when you incorporate that, people generally feel it’s more authentic.”

Submission details

Entrants post videos on YouTube then send their links to WorkSafeBC for review. Video that meet criteria – with “no inappropriate language or images and no copyrighted music” – will be posted on the WorkSafeBC website, where people can view and vote for their favourites.

Deadline for submissions is Wednesday, April 1, 2015. “But remember: the sooner your video is posted, the more people will have a chance to view it,” says WorkSafeBC.


VIDEO: Prevent Distracted Driving on the Job

November 26, 2014

In the past, it was part of the job for workers to communicate using handheld devices while driving. But things have changed – and people are now fined for distracted driving. If the worker has an accident, and the employer knew (or even encouraged) the use of handheld devices, the employer can also be held at fault. On average, according to WorkSafeBC, 30 workers a year are killed in motor vehicle incidents. Twenty-five percent of all vehicle crashes (including people who are driving for work and those who are not) are attributed to distracted driving.

I wrote about this in my post Ensure distraction takes a back seat to driving. And now I’m raising the issue again because it’s a warning that bears repeating.

Here’s a link to this new video from WorkSafeBC that describes how employers can support the safety of their driving workers. It’s one of 150+ videos on WorkSafeBC’s Safety Videos App. Find more information on the Distracted Driving page on the WorkSafeBC website.


What to expect in an inspection

November 05, 2014

This video shows an example of what happens when a WorkSafeBC officer visits your workplace. They may ask about your health and safety program, first aid records, incident investigation reports, work procedures, or completed risk assessments – along with a tour of your facility (or selected parts of it). The purpose of the inspection is to audit and assess safety systems and help you address deficiencies – and you can request the report be delivered in person, for answers and guidance on how to proceed. More details are in the video – so please have a look, so you’ll know what to expect.


Finding employers who expose workers to asbestos

September 10, 2014

Image from  Cash Corners: Worker Rights, a new video from WorkSafeBC

Image from Cash Corners: Worker Rights, a new video from WorkSafeBC

They’re ready to work – no questions asked. I’m talking about workers hired off the street for residential demolition projects – to carry off materials that haven’t always been tested for asbestos, as is required by law in BC.

Their employers are among those targeted during planned inspections of residential demolition worksites.

WorkSafeBC officers are inspecting these projects to “…ensure homeowners, prime contractors, hazardous material survey contractors, asbestos abatement contractors, and consultants are informed and equipped to safely remove asbestos containing materials and are complying with the Occupational Health and Safety Regulation,” says WorkSafeBC about this project that runs from March 17 to December 31, 2014.

For full details, please read Asbestos: be aware enforcement initiative.

Risking safety in favour of profit

A new video from WorkSafeBC – Cash Corners: Worker Rights – shows what it’s like for workers hired off the street. Its message to workers is this: “Even if you’re hired off the street, you have the right to a health and safety orientation, training, supervision, and a safe workplace.”

However, this is not always the case.

“There’s probably little dialogue about safety or what the potential hazard could be from the material they’re moving,” says Gary McComb, a regional prevention manager for WorkSafeBC. Gary leads a team of eight safety inspectors focused on asbestos in residential construction projects in the Lower Mainland.

“It’s very labour-intensive so, typically in residential, you’ll find vulnerable workers that are either transient or have other issues. They believe they need the cash and aren’t going to ask lots of questions – or sometimes they’re just young and naive and they’re not even aware of the hazard.”

Law requires contractors to test for, abate, and remove asbestos, but many contractors ignore the laws to save money. Some contractors set themselves up as “abatement specialists” but lack experience and skill; others have falsified documents to declare projects “asbestos-free” when they are not.

“My biggest concern when I look at it, is there’s one thing to have poor abatement practices, which is atrocious but what really concerns me is when they’re declaring it clean or they’re not finding out if it’s dirty at all. And then they’re just saying it’s clean and letting crews go in there with no protection at all – and they’re just taking it out.”

Gary said he’d like to see partnerships across jurisdictions – like what’s been established with the City of Vancouver’s Hazardous Materials Reporting survey required for residential construction projects.

“They’re doing an outstanding job as far as I’m concerned,” said Gary. “Part of their process is they actually require a hazardous materials survey to be submitted to them. They’re actually looking at these things and it’s red flagged and they notify us.”

For more information on asbestos – which remains the number one cause of workplace death in BC – see


What do safety stats not tell us?

August 28, 2014

Photo credit: Louise Docker on Flickr

Photo credit: Louise Docker on Flickr

What exactly is safety – and how can we measure it?

Traditionally safety is viewed as a lack of injuries and fatalities. But let’s stop for a moment and see it for what it is – not what it isn’t.

Instead, let’s picture safety as “the presence of positive capacities, capabilities, and competences” of the people who work for employers, as Dr. Sidney Dekker put it in his talk at CHC Safety & Quality Summit in March 2014 in Vancouver.

The thought-provoking author and professor of human factors will be back on Friday, Sept. 19, at the Vancouver Convention Centre, where he’ll speak before an audience of CEOs, senior managers, and safety professionals from large corporate entities in construction, health care, utilities, transportation, forestry, and mining.

“It’ll be a rare and unique opportunity to hear him speak for a whole day!” says Jenny Colman, an Ergonomist/Human Factors Investigator with WorkSafeBC’s Investigation Division, who told me about this professional development event – A Day With Sidney Dekker – hosted by BC’s Lower Mainland Chapter of the Canadian Society of Safety Engineering.

“Sidney really promotes understanding the situation in which the workers work, because those contextual factors really influence the decisions and actions of the workers. His session will ensure that participants query/question current safety practices/perspectives and extend their thinking to new dimensions in safety management.”

Here are some of the “take-home” benefits:

  • Understanding of how safety is socially constructed
  • Understanding of how and why work is performed
  • Understanding of a “just culture” and accountability
  • Better able to conduct effective incident investigations and recommendations
  • Better able to understand complex systems and how risks can emerge from individual parts of a system to form new risks

Is it safe here?

One idea that stayed with me is the different ways we can look for the presence of safety at a workplace. Dr. Dekker suggested in this video that we count peer reviews, debriefings, open conversations, and a “just culture” which recognizes humans make mistakes within a larger context that includes many factors. Of course it’s important to measure what does go wrong, but let’s see new ways to measure what’s right and build on them (which applies in other areas of life, too).


Student safety video winners for 2014

July 09, 2014

Image from the video  Eye Warned You, by students in Grades 10 to 12 at Walnut Grove Secondary in Langley

Image from the video Eye Warned You, by students in Grades 10 to 12, Walnut Grove Secondary, Langley

I found it very interesting that one of the 2014 Student Video Contest winners looks at the dangers of fatigue on the job – a topic very much on the radar of industry today.

It’s the first time the topic of fatigue has been covered in a student video, says Robin Schooley, a young and new worker industry specialist, who ran the contest with her team at WorkSafeBC. Very timely.

Eye Warned You by students in Grades 10 to 12 at Walnut Grove Secondary in Langley reminds us that late nights playing games online and watching YouTube can lead to fatigue the next morning, which is dangerous in the workplace.

If you live with a teen – or you are one – you will probably relate to this video. In fact, I know from personal experience it’s a topic of much conflict between the generations. But I myself have stayed up too late, drawn from one thing to another online, so I understand how it happens.

It’s also the first time a French language video was submitted, along with a category for Vine and its high-impact, seven-second video format. Altogether, WorkSafeBC received 55 videos created by about 170 students. The videos were posted on YouTube, where viewers voted for their favourites.

“Sure, we have 55 videos with an average of three or four people per film – and when they’re posted online, how many other people are watching them?” said Robin, when I called to talk about how it went this year.

“It’s a ripple effect when one student makes one video – from their own personal experience of researching it, writing it, and, once they have a script, casting it and acting it out. It all reinforces the health and safety messages for them, and also for all the different people involved in their world who are exposed to it,” Robin said.

“And of course once it’s on YouTube – all the tens of thousands more people are exposed to the message. It’s so powerful – and because it’s created by youth for a youth audience, it’s really one generation speaking to itself.”

I asked Robin what advice she had for students who might want to take part in 2015 – the 10th anniversary of this contest, judged by WorkSafeBC and industry partners.

“No matter what the theme is, think about, as a student, how you can connect personally to the topic,” Robin said. “Whenever we bring something personal into developing something creative, it’s going to feel more natural and come across as more authentic. Find something you can connect to – whether it’s something you’ve seen your parents or your friends do. Find something you have an emotional response to, and when you incorporate that, people generally feel it’s more authentic.”

That’s very good advice – and I thank Robin for sharing it.


VIDEO: Driving in flash flood conditions

June 04, 2014

Creeks and streams can rise quickly and flood – especially in spring melt season and into summer. Check out this Flooding Information from Emergency Management BC if your job requires you to drive on roads that may be affected. It includes a link to current flood conditions for your region. This fleet safety video from the State of Missouri shows what can happen and how drivers can be prepared.


VIDEO: Kid’s-eye view of shop safety

April 29, 2014

Safety is no laughing matter – but having a laugh can be a great way to start a safety meeting. This Bored Shorts TV video, narrated by kids but acted out by adults, is a kid’s-eye view into shop safety that pokes some fun at the student/teacher relationship.


Get ready for the 2014 student safety video contest

January 22, 2014

BC students in Grades 8 through 12 are invited to submit their two-minute videos on health and safety in a first job.

Image from Port Moody Secondary's Pay Attention to the Task at Hand  - the 2013 winner in the Grade 8 to 10 category

Image from Port Moody Secondary’s Pay Attention to the Task at Hand – the 2013 winner in the Grade 8 to 10 category

WorkSafeBC’s 2014 Student Video Safety Contest welcomes all styles including drama, comedy, documentary, music video, stop-motion film, claymation, or animation.

The theme is Don’t Let Your First Job Be Your Last and, in it, students may want to explore “… training, the safety gear you’ll need to wear, the importance of asking questions, the need to understand workplace hazards, your right to refuse unsafe work – or how you’ll balance work, home, family, and a social life,” reads the contest announcement.

“Being the new person at work can be challenging,” reads this invitation from WorkSafeBC Sometimes you’re given the thankless jobs that nobody else wants or the physical work that your body isn’t accustomed to. You might face unfamiliar equipment and new processes. And you’ll meet new people too. Sometimes, it can feel quite daunting.

I emailed a teacher whose classes have won awards in the contest before – to see if he has any new advice for students and teachers taking part in the contest. Brent Phillips-Watts, a teacher at Port Moody Secondary School, shared his tips for teachers last year. He’s doing the 2014 contest with his Media 9 classes and as an introductory project for his Film 12 students.

Brent advised teachers not to worry about having “the best gear or most expensive equipment.”

“It’s the message that makes an impact,” Brent told me last year. “Spend some time on figuring out exactly what you want to say… They are at the age that many are looking to get a first job, and being reminded of their rights and the danger is a good thing.”

Down the coast, the team at Oregon Young Employee Safety – known as O[yes] – are gearing up for their 2014 “Speak up. Work safe.” video contest. The video below offers tips for young creators at the brainstorming phase. It’s by an O[yes] summer intern who won his own video awards and shares his secrets with current contestants – helpful ideas for video makers in other jurisdictions.

Good luck to all! I’m really looking forward to seeing what’s in store. The deadline is April 4, 2014, but WorkSafeBC reminds would-be participants that the sooner their video is posted, the more time people will have to view and vote on it.


Reality of returning from a serious injury

October 23, 2013

When Mike Rousselle was electrocuted on the job, he was lucky to still be alive – but life would never be the same. His employer, Mike Honeyman, recalls his shock as he received late-night calls with progressively worse news:  “You just keep thinking ‘This can’t be real.'” But it was.

Return to Work: The Mike Rousselle Story shows the ripple effects of Mike’s life-altering injury and gradual return to work. Mike, his wife, and his employer share their inspiring stories of responding and moving forward.

This video is the first in a series on the experiences of injured workers and their return to work.