Confined Space vs Restricted Space

Confined spaces are not always the obvious tank that needs to be welded from the inside. A confined space might be that trench you have to climb down into, or the crawl space underneath the house, or if you’re lucky, really really lucky, the engine room on your yacht.

In Alberta, these type of work spaces fall into one of two categories: either a restricted space or a confined space, and the rules governing them differs. So, it’s important to know which one you are about to enter, so you leave the same as you came in.

A restricted space is a work area that people don’t generally like to hangout in, and is hard to enter and exit but that’s the only hazard you’ll encounter.

A confined space is a restricted space that has hazards or potential hazards above just access and egress.…like fumes or lack of oxygen from welding or H2S seeping up out of the ground as you dig. You can find all the specifics around the hazards you need to consider in the OH&S Code in Alberta or your jurisdiction’s applicable OH&S legislation.

Some sites or companies may choose to follow procedures for a confined space, even if by definition, it is a restricted space. This is operating on the side of caution and taking any guesswork out of your safety. But don’t rely on your employer to identify confined spaces for you, especially since you won’t just run into them (no pun intended and don’t run) while at work.  Use the same precautions at home (or on your yacht) as your employer puts in place at work. Stay safe and always make sure you have a permit (at work) and a rescue plan.

Job Site Cleanliness

 Job site cleanliness is not in place to bring back those horrible memories of your mom and dad nagging you to clean your room. There are actually some very serious safety risks that coincide with a messy workplace. Consider the following points to help prevent injuries or nagging will ensue.

  1. Always keep walkways, stairs and scaffolding clear from any debris. A trip or fall from any height can cause serious injury.
  2. Store and dispose of flammables and explosives properly. You should have safety cabinets available for storing and separate disposal bins. Keep both away from any ignition source. 
  3. Cords, welding cable and hoses need to be out of the way. Run them overhead or use a drop over cover. 
  4. Keep the ground and work tables free of tools and debris when not in use. Putting things back in their place makes things easy to find and out of the way.
  5. Hammer or bend in any nails or screws. This goes for weld spatter on work surfaces too. It just takes a second to grind it flush.

Always take an extra minute or two to clean up after yourself. Be confident that no one, including yourself, will suffer an injury due to your sloppiness.

Competency

Did you know that having your safety tickets is just the first step? Just because you passed your elevated work platform on a JLG in an open warehouse does not give you free rein to start maneuvering a 1850SJ under the high line. You need to be deemed competent. This is an important step often overlooked. Just like a driving a car, you need practice. It is your responsibility (and your employers) to ensure you are competent on that piece of equipment as well as competent using it for the task and location at hand.

Be honest. Tell your foreman you just received your ticket and need practice. They will most likely pair you up with someone who’s experienced. This way you can watch a competent worker and get hands-on experience till you feel comfortable.

Always keep a look out, watch other workers and ask questions. Do not operate machinery until you feel comfortable. Remember, it’s your job on the line if you cause property damage or hurt someone else. Most importantly it’s your life on the line.

Happy Mother’s Day

Even in 2018, only a mere 7% of new enrollment into the trades are women. We want to give a shout out to all you hard working Mama’s, killin it as a tradesperson, and raising strong boys and girls at the same time. Play it safe out there and make sure you get home safely to your little, or not so little ones…they need you…and to everyone else…you’re welcome for reminding you that Mother’s Day is this Sunday. Don’t forget to do something special for your mom. Buy her a bottle of wine, after all you’re probably the reason she drinks…Kidding of course…Kind of!😉

Phone Safety 📵

In this tech savvy world, it’s hard to believe that you can’t use your phone, or even have it on you at work, right? Actually no. There are two simple reasons why you can’t.

  1. Obviously for work production reasons, and
  2. Safety!

Cell phones are not intrinsically safe. Big word…I know right. So what does that mean? It means that cell phones give off thermal and electrical energy that could cause sparks and therefore possibly fire and explosions. Also, remember when all the Galaxy Note 7 phones were recalled? Yeah…lithium batteries can burst into flames when contact to oxygen is made. So hashtagging while on certain sites could potentially cost you and your co-workers your lives.

Is that really worth it?  

Hard Hat Safety

You get to site, you get a hard hat and that’s, that. But did you know there’s more to it? Here are a few quick tips to keep your hard hat safe and your head (yes your brain people!) even safer.

  1. Always inspect your lid. Especially right after you smack into that pipe that wasn’t there yesterday. These hats are designed to take the impact from the blow instead of your head. So, when it does its job, give it a quick once-over to make sure there are no cracks or chunks missing. 
  2. When working at heights, make sure you have a chin fastener on. Your hat isn’t going to do anything for you, if it falls off your head during a fall. A fall from any height can lead to broken bones, sprains, torn muscles and even death. If your lid is securely attached to your noggin, you have much better odds.
  3. No modifications. I know you want to be the cool kid on site with horns on your lid, but modifications to your hard hat can be deadly. For example, painting your lid with a metal based paint…well you just made it conduct electricity! Add anything to your lid and you are messing with the rating of that hat.

Remember, they are given to you to protect you from bumps, bruises, lacerations, sunstroke, hair catching in machinery, welding sparks, falls and even death. Taking your safety seriously is pretty cool if you ask me…No horns or paint necessary. Take care of yourself and always keep a lid on it!  👷 

Working at Heights

Working at heights can be a bit nerve racking for some, but it’s also a very necessary part of any trade, so you won’t be getting out of it too easily. Here are a few tips to take the nerves out of the equation.

  1. Always give all of your fall pro gear an inspection. Every time! Even if you just used it before lunch and now you’re heading back up. You never know what happened to it while it was hanging in the boot room. If something does go wrong, you want to be confident that everything is in good working order.
  2. Do you know how much clearance you need, from that tie-off point you’re using, to keep you from bottoming out?  How about what you might whack into as you swing back-and-forth? And….what about your free fall? How much will it hurt as your equipment stops your fall?  Here are some simple light-hearted animations that show an easy way to figure it all out. https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC3CPfxshoDL_OayJkOenIRA?view_as=subscriber
  3. Make a plan! What if you do fall? Are you just going to hang there till someone notices? I’d hope not. This equipment is made to save you in case of a fall, but you don’t want to be dangling there for too long. After a short period of time you can start to lose consciousness, lose limbs and even die. So make a rescue plan. Work closely with your partner, foreman and the emergency crew on site.

Spring Weather

Spring is finally in the air 🌷. If you’re in Alberta, this is a big deal! (It’s like Game of Thrones there). Along with the warmer weather comes some pretty treacherous storms. I know that after working outside all winter, the rain, thunder and lightning can seem like a walk in the park, but there are some serious safety risks with stormy weather. Here are are some tips to keep you safe and maybe even dry.

  1. Pay attention. For the most part, crews will be called into the lunch room or a safe building till the storm passes. This is not the time to try and impress your foreman and get a little extra work done! Just stop what you’re doing and go where they tell you to.
  2. If your working at heights, just come down. Don’t wait on a crew member to give you the okay if there is lightning and thunder in the area. You’re standing on a lot of conductive material and nowhere up there is safe. Hit the ground and then look for a shelter.
  3. Find the best shelter. Any sustainable building, lunch room, electrical building and even a wash cart. You want to stay away from fab tents, tool cribs or any other open shelter. If nothing else is available, a vehicle can be used as your last resort.
  4. If there is nowhere to go and you have to ride out the storm outside, there are a few precautions you can take to lessen your chances of being struck. Don’t stand next to anything tall…a matter of fact… don’t stand at all. Crouch with as little of your body touching the ground as possible. Get into a trench or a ditch and stay away from bodies of water.
  5. Lastly, wait 30 minutes from the last clap of thunder or lightning to go back to work. Hopefully, you manage to stay dry too, if not, the good news is you’re not sugar.. you won’t melt. Happy Spring!
2018 Junior Achievement

2018 Junior Achievement

As a leader in safety across western Canada, we believe safety is a way of life, a culture.  We understand the importance of teaching our youth this safety culture as a part of a standard for the future.

Developing the next generation to adhere and exceed our own safety standards is our goal.  Which is why we are proud to be a part of Junior Achievement for a third year running.

Thank you for this chance to educate our future and leave a meaningful legacy.