Canada Day/ Joyeux Jour Du Canada

Happy Canada Day to all 36,950,145 of our brothers and sisters. We have a lot to be proud of as Canadians. We may not be perfect but each and every one of us is blessed to live in this great country. So here’s to the war veterans, the law enforcement, the emergency crews, the doctors, the teachers, the newcomers and of course our trades people. This is for all the people that protect this amazing country and continue to build its future. We are the true north, strong and free!

Bad Habits

We all have bad habits, nail biting, swearing perhaps chewing with an open mouth. These don’t seem too harmful but what about at work? Maybe never using a shield while grinding, or painting without a respirator or forgetting pre-work inspections? These habits won’t be quite as forgiving. Bad habits have been formed over long periods of time and won’t be changed overnight. It takes on average 66 days for a new habit to be automatic; so we better get started now.

First, pinpoint all your dangerous habits, write them down along with when and why you do them. Once you have your list, pick a “punishment” for when you slip up. This isn’t a real punishment like self lashing or something, I mean a swear jar or something similar. Every time you catch yourself without a shield while grinding, throw a dollar in a jar or you don’t get your sweets at break. This is totally up to you. Make some changes. If the grinding shield is on a hook far away, consider moving closer to the grinding area. This will help remind you to put it on. Write on your JHA every morning. This is exactly why you have them, to keep you alert and safe. Set reminders. Maybe you always have grinding after your second break? Set a reminder on your phone, telling yourself to put on your shield first thing. Add some positivity to your thought process. Don’t think “oh this awkward face shield always gets in the way”. Try thinking “wearing this shield will protect my face and eyes to go home in one piece”.

There are a million different ways to change your habits, do what works for you. Put the work in, it will lead to a safer and much happier you.

Dead Tired

It doesn’t matter if you had a crazy night with friends or were up all night with a sick toddler, being fatigued can lead to serious problems at work. Being super sleepy can cloud your judgement and slow your reflexes, making you a danger to yourself and others. Here are a few things to try to keep you rested and alert.

Always try and get 8 hours of sleep a night.  Set a routine, this will help. If you’re having troubles getting to sleep, seek advice from your doctor. Adding regular exercise and a balanced diet can do wonders for your sleep. And of course stay away from caffeine.

I know that some late nights are impossible to avoid. If you are so fatigued that you shouldn’t be driving, I’d consider taking a sick day. Otherwise being dead tired could leave you just dead instead.

Extension Cord Safety

The first thing that comes to mind when I think of extension cord safety is Clark Griswold from Christmas vacation. You know the Christmas light scene, where he has probably 3000 Watts running through a single 16 gauge cord with a power bar plugged into another power bar. As funny as that scene was, it’s a movie. In real life while working on site, that kind of negligence would be shocking to see. Here are some pointers to keep you safe.

Always use a cord rated for the job you’re doing, make sure the cord gauge of the extension cord is the same size or larger than what you’re plugging into it. Check the rating. Never jam a three prong plug into a two prong extension cord. Never remove the ground prong. Always inspect a cord before use, if there is any damage, replace the plug with a new one or tag out the whole cord if needed. Always remove by holding the plug, not the cord. Keep out of stairways and high traffic areas. Use drop covers or pull them overhead. Keep away from anything that can expose the wiring, such as welding and grinding.

No matter if you’re pulling cords to the high line to do some cutting or you’re decorating your house for Christmas, make sure you exercise safe extension cord use. The alternative could be jolting.

 

Drugs and Alcohol

I remember going for my first drug and alcohol test before heading up to Fort Mac. I asked the nurse testing me if anyone’s ever failed the alcohol portion. I was shocked to hear that at least once a week someone comes in and is so intoxicated they can’t let them drive!  Look I know we all like to have a drink or two after a hard week at work or a long stint in camp, I’m totally game for that. But when it starts affecting your work and especially the safety of others… then we have problem. We all need to know the signs of alcohol and substance abuse at the workplace.

The usual signs of substance abuse and excessive drinking include but are not limited to, poor performance at work, lack of interest at work, poor grooming, being late and leaving early, excessive trips to the bathroom, agitated, anxious, blood shot eyes, smells of alcohol, weight loss, tired and very defensive if questioned about any of these. Someone under the influence of drugs or alcohol is not alert enough to keep safety a top priority; therefore, they need to be removed from site. You are not “ratting” on them or “telling” on them you are protecting your safety. If you suspect someone is under the influence at work, please report it to your foreman.  They will get the help they need and you can feel safe on the job.

Eye Safety

I know, I know another PPE post! We can’t drill this in hard enough. Not wearing the correct safety glasses or any at all just for a second could cause you a lifetime of pain. Think about life without your sight… It doesn’t look good. I know they are not the most fashionable accessory but neither are eye patches? Here are a few things to think about when it comes to protecting your eyes.

In some cases you will need double the protection or a different kind of eye protection. When grinding, it’s advised that you wear a face shield… This doesn’t mean your safety glasses come off. Same with welding, make sure your glasses are under that lid. There are tons of hazards on site that are harmful to your eyes, grinding dust, wood particles, welding flash, chemical splash, slag or even the dust flying around.  You need something protecting those eyes every second.

If you wear prescription glasses you have two options, you can get prescription safety glasses, make sure they are CSA approved and have side shields or you can add them after too. You can also wear an over the glasses type of goggles. These will fit right over your day to day glasses. Wearing contacts to site is not recommended.  

You may need extra accessories for specific jobs. When working at heights you will need a strap, working with chemicals requires fully enclosed goggles and a foam gasket always helps keep debris out. Whatever the task is, make sure your eyes will see the light of another day. Always protect them with CSA approved safety glasses.

Muster Points

This is one of the first things brought up in your orientation on site or even in most safety training classes. This is not where you get toppings for a hot dog… it’s where workers safely assemble in the case of an emergency. These meeting points help avoid unaccounted for workers and work for even a huge scale of workers.  However, if we become careless about muster points, they are pointless. They might as well be signs that say “chaos” or “stampede” in their place. It’s a blessing if we never have to use these assembly points, but that doesn’t mean we can forget about them all together.

Always know where your muster point is. The one you had in orientation has probably changed and could change day to day, even hour to hour depending on where you’re working. If you’re not sure ask a supervisor. Please don’t settle for a general answer like “by the wash cart”. There are tons of wash carts. Get someone to point it out and if you need to, physically walk over to it so you won’t forget. Always write it on you JHA. Make sure you go over it with your partner or crew working in the same area. Always ask when signing into a JHA. Keep in mind, if an emergency does occur and you’re at the wrong muster point, no one will know where you are and a search could ensue. If you do end up at the wrong one, make sure you tell the appointed safety officer in charge of that muster point, so he/she can radio it in.  This will save everyone’s time and worrying about your whereabouts.


Muster points are one of the many things we pray we never have to actually use. However we need to be very aware of them. This is one of the reasons most sites do practice evacuations. This is great, but you need to take it upon yourself to always be in the know. Every time you change work areas, know your muster point and know you’ll be safe.

 

Forklift Safety

A forklift lifting a forklift? I’ve seen it all now. I don’t think we need to go over this with our readers but just in case… Don’t EVER do this. Here are some forklift basics to keep you on your toes not your derriere.

Pretty basic stuff here guys… first off, make sure you’re certified and competent. Follow everyday traffic rules. Always wear your seatbelt, follow posted speed signs (if your site or workplace has them) and use your best judgement. Use your horn! Let people know you’re there, don’t surprise anyone. It’s not a race, so that means no passing and give a few car lengths if you’re behind another driver. If you are parking it, always put your forks to the ground and never leave a running forklift unattended.

While carrying a load make sure you can see, if the load is extra high, drive in reverse. You may have to reverse depending on the incline or decline of the terrain. Watch your counterbalance. If you’re not carrying a load your forks should be low but off the ground. Never let anyone under your forks and please no forklift rides… It may look fun but I guarantee, that will be the minute that Safety comes for a visit, or worse someone WILL get hurt.

This is just the very basics. If you’re interested in driving a forklift please get certified. Click the link to book your forklift class with us.   We will make sure you don’t end up like the senseless workers in this meme.

 

Hearing Protection

Hearing loss is a natural progression of age. Is it common for an 80 year old to be yelling “Huh”? Of course it is. But without proper hearing protection, we are speeding up this process. So make sure you have the correct PPE on, or you could be yelling “Huh” just months into your career.

Anything above 85 decibels can be hazardous to your hearing. With grinding from 95-105 decibels, arc gouging at 115, to just using a common power tool at 94 decibels, we need to take the appropriate precautions.

You will usually have your choice of ear muffs or plugs. Muffs don’t always offer as much protection as plugs. Some ear muffs are not as protective with safety glasses, welding lids or hard hats unless you have the ones fastened right to your hard hat. Ear plugs are much more common and convenient. Usually the disposable kind are offered by employers. You can also get banded and custom ones. When using these, read and follow the directions. If your ear plugs are sticking out of your canals like Frankenstein bolts, they’re not working. Always make sure they are placed properly.

Ear protection should be worn at all times on site so pick what’s comfortable for you.
Wear the proper protection so hearing loss is only a possibility with age and when your spouse is nagging (Kidding… not kidding).

Suicide Prevention

What does this have to do with work site safety? Well, yearly suicide rates are actually increasing in Canada, around 4000 a year or approximately about 10 a day. This is affecting everyone. 1 in 10 people have suicidal thoughts. The numbers alone tells us that there is probably someone on your crew or in your lunch room that is experiencing this. It could be the guy that is suddenly quiet and withdrawn, it could be the girl that always seems “fine” or it could be the successful GM. Most of the time there are no sure fire signs. There  are many reasons for these thoughts…depression, financial stress, grief, substance abuse and many, many more. Most people who attempt or commit suicide, talk about it at some point. They are not just looking for attention and should be taken seriously. Even if it seems like a casual comment. We need to start listening and being there for one another. You never know what someone is going through.

I know trades people think they are tough as nails, but, we need to stop and have these hard talks. We are losing our family members, our friends and yes…our co-workers. If you or someone you know is having suicidal thoughts, please get help! There is a way out. Please go to suicideprevention.ca for a crisis line in your area or call 911.