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!

PPE: Personal Protective Equipment

In oil and gas industry production managers face many challenges concerning personal protective equipment (PPE) compliance. PPE is designed to protect and prevent workplace injuries. It can include items such as hard hats, gloves, eye protection, footwear, harnesses, etc.

Employers are responsible for providing and enforcing the use of personal protective equipment. Also employers must ensure that appropriate PPE is identified and being used by workers. Workers must be trained in the use of PPE prior to use.

Head Protection

Hard hats need to be CSA approved and meet site standards. When using a hard hat inspect it regularly, don’t paint it, don’t use it if it has a crack or deep gouge and keep it clean.

Don’t forget neck protection, eg scarves for use during welding.

Wearing earplugs or earmuffs can help prevent damage to hearing. Exposure to high noise levels can cause irreversible hearing loss or impairment as well as physical and psychological stress.

Foot Protection

Boots must protect ankle, sole, toes and meet CSA and site standards. It is worker’s responsibility to keep boots in good condition and keep laces tied up at all times to avoid tripping.

Eye Protection

Make sure the eye protection has the right combination of impact/dust/splash/molten metal eye protection for the task and fits the user properly.

Hand Protection

Avoid gloves when operating machines such as bench drills where the gloves could get caught. Mandatory in operating and maintenance areas.

Wristlets are used to reduce contact with hot materials between gloves and sleeves.

Working in the cold

Working in the Cold

Clothing

Protective clothing is needed for work at or below 4°C. Clothing should be selected to suit the temperature, weather conditions (e.g., wind speed, rain), the level and duration of activity, and job design. These factors are important to consider so that you can regulate the amount of heat and perspiration you generate while working. If the work pace is too fast or if the type and amount of clothing are not properly selected, excessive sweating may occur. The clothing next to body will become wet and the insulation value of the clothing will decrease dramatically. This increases the risk for cold injuries.

  • Clothing should be worn in multiple layers which provide better protection than a single thick garment. The air between layers of clothing provides better insulation than the clothing itself. Having several layers also gives you the option to open or remove a layer before you get too warm and start sweating or to add a layer when you take a break. It also allows you to accommodate changing temperatures and weather conditions. Successive outer layers should be larger than the inner layer, otherwise the outermost layer will compress the inner layers and will decrease the insulation properties of the clothing.
  • The inner layer should provide insulation and be able to “wick” moisture away from the skin to help keep it dry. Thermal underwear made from polyesters or polypropylene is suitable for this purpose. “Fishnet” underwear made from polypropylene wicks perspiration away from the skin and is significantly thicker than regular underwear. It also keeps the second layer away from the skin. The open mesh pattern enables the moisture to evaporate and be captured on the next layer away from the skin. The second layer covers the “holes” in the fishnet underwear which contributes to the insulation properties of the clothing.
  • The additional layers of clothing should provide adequate insulation for the weather conditions under which the work being done. They should also be easy to open or remove before you get too warm to prevent excessive sweating during strenuous activity. Outer jackets should have the means for closing off and opening the waist, neck and wrists to help control how much heat is retained or given off. Some jackets have netted pockets and vents around the trunk and under the arm pits (with zippers or Velcro fasteners) for added ventilation possibilities.
  • For work in wet conditions, the outer layer of clothing should be waterproof. If the work area cannot be shielded against wind, an easily removable windbreak garment should be used. Under extremely cold conditions, heated protective clothing should be made available if the work cannot be done on a warmer day.
  • Almost 50 percent of body heat is lost through the head. A wool knit cap or a liner under a hard hat can reduce excessive heat loss.
  • Clothing should be kept clean since dirt fills air cells in fibres of clothing and destroys its insulating ability.
  • Clothing must be dry. Moisture should be kept off clothes by removing snow prior to entering heated shelters. While the worker is resting in a heated area, perspiration should be allowed to escape by opening the neck, waist, sleeves and ankle fasteners or by removing outerwear. If the rest area is warm enough it is preferable to take off the outer layer(s) so that the perspiration can evaporate from the clothing.
  • If fine manual dexterity is not required, gloves should be used below 4°C for light work and below -7°C for moderate work. For work below -17°C, mittens should be used.
  • Cotton is not recommended. It tends to get damp or wet quickly, and loses its insulating properties. Wool and synthetic fibres, on the other hand, do retain heat when wet.

Footwear

Felt-lined, rubber bottomed, leather-topped boots with removable felt insoles are best suited for heavy work in cold since leather is porous, allowing the boots to “breathe” and let perspiration evaporate. Leather boots can be “waterproofed” with some products that do not block the pores in the leather. However, if work involves standing in water or slush (e.g., fire fighting, farming), the waterproof boots must be worn. While these protect the feet from getting wet from cold water in the work environment, they also prevent the perspiration to escape. The insulating materials and socks will become wet more quickly than when wearing leather boots and increase the risk for frostbite.

Socks

You may prefer to wear one pair of thick, bulky socks or two pairs – one inner sock of silk, nylon, or thin wool and a slightly larger, thick outer sock. Liner socks made from polypropylene will help keep feet dry and warmer by wicking sweat away from the skin. However, as the outer sock becomes damper, its insulation properties decrease. If work conditions permit, have extra socks available so you can dry your feet and change socks during the day. If two pairs of socks are worn, the outer sock should be a larger size so that the inner sock is not compressed.

Always wear the right thickness of socks for your boots. If they are too thick, the boots will be “tight,” and the socks will lose much of their insulating properties when they are compressed inside the boot. The foot would also be “squeezed” which would slow the blood flow to the feet and increase the risk for cold injuries. If the socks are too thin, the boots will fit loosely and may lead to blisters.

Face and Eye Protection

In extremely cold conditions, where face protection is used, eye protection must be separated from the nose and mouth to prevent exhaled moisture from fogging and frosting eye shields or glasses. Select protective eye wear that is appropriate for the work you are doing, and for protection against ultraviolet light from the sun, glare from the snow, blowing snow/ice crystals, and high winds at cold temperatures.

What are some additional prevention tips for working in the cold?

To prevent excessive sweating while working, remove clothing in the following order:

  • mittens or gloves (unless you need protection from snow or ice),
  • headgear and scarf.
  • Then open the jacket at the waist and wrists, and
  • Remove layers of clothing.

As you cool down, follow the reverse order of the above steps.

Prevent contact of bare skin with cold surfaces (especially metallic) below -7°C as well as avoiding skin contact when handling evaporative liquids (gasoline, alcohol, cleaning fluids) below 4°C. Sitting or standing still for prolonged periods should also be avoided.

Balanced meals and adequate liquid intake are essential to maintain body heat and prevent dehydration. Eat properly and frequently. Working in the cold requires more energy than in warm weather because the body is working to keep the body warm. It requires more effort to work when wearing bulky clothing and winter boots especially when walking through snow.

Drink fluids often especially when doing strenuous work. For warming purposes, hot non-alcoholic beverages or soup are suggested. Caffeinated drinks such as coffee should be limited because it increases urine production and contributes to dehydration. Caffeine also increases the blood flow at the skin surface which can increase the loss of body heat.

Alcohol should not be consumed as it causes expansion of blood vessels in the skin (cutaneous vasodilation) and impairs the body’s ability to regulate temperature (it affects shivering that can increase your body temperature) . These effects cause the body to lose heat and thus increase the risk of hypothermia.

In refrigerated rooms, the air speed should not exceed 1 meter per second. If workers are simultaneously exposed to vibration and/or toxic substances, reduced limits for cold exposure may be necessary.

Source: Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety

christmas lights safety

Christmas Lights Safety

Holiday season is upon us now and it is time to decorate the house. Stringing lights can be hazardous so before you light up your house take a few minutes to go through a quick safety checklist.

  1. Double check that your lights are designed for outdoor use as not all lights can handle the outside temperatures. Indoor lights have less insulation resulting in a greater likeliness of them cracking when exposed to the cold.
  2. Check your lights for exposed wires, broken sockets, loose connections or frayed ends.
  3. Don’t use nails, screws or anything that can pierce the cord to mount the lights
  4. If you are using an extension cord occasionally check the cord for overheating. If it’s too hot – unplug it.
  5. Elevate the connection point of the extension cord to keep water and snow out of the connections.
  6. Tape down any ground level cords to avoid people tripping over them.
  7. Turn the lights off when you leave the house or go to bed.
  8. Replace burnt out bulbs as soon as possible. Make sure that the wattage of the new bulbs is the same as the wattage of the old.
  9. Make sure the lights are well secured to prevent damage from wind.
  10. Be careful with ladders. We have an online Ladder Safety course to ensure your safety.
  11. Do not hang the lights by yourself to avoid injury or have someone to call for help if an accident happens.
  12. Make sure the lights are kept out of the reach of kids and pets cannot reach the lights.
  13. Don’t bunch up Christmas lights together as the heat can melt the insulation and expose wires.
  14. Seal your lights well when putting them back into storage to ensure they’re kept safe from water and rodents’ teeth.
  15. Utilize lights with fused plugs. They do not spark in the case of a short circuit.

For more safety information on avoiding dangerous situations that occur during winter holiday season purchase our online Winter Safety course. In the course we will cover using string lights, fires, using candles, dressing for cold weather, working in the cold and so on.

winter driving

Winter Driving Tips

Do you know how to drive properly in winter conditions? The following tips will help you avoid problems out on the road.

  1. Maintain a safe following distance. Allow yourself at least three times the normal following distance to stop.
  2. Drop your speed. The posted speed limit is meant for perfect road conditions. It is safer to drive below the posted speed if the road is icy or covered with snow.
  3. Accelerate and brake slowly to maintain traction. When stopping apply brakes slowly and gently to avoid sliding or skidding.
  4. Be seen. Keep your headlights on at all time to remain seen by other drivers. Don’t expect daytime running lights to be enough.
  5. Do not use cruise control in winter conditions. Breaking to release the control can make bad situation even worse in cases where you need to respond quickly.
  6. Have some basic supplies in case you get stuck.
    • Snowbrush, ice scraper and extra windshield washer fluid to ensure you have   good visibility at all times
    • A shovel and a bag of sand to help with traction
    • Extra winter clothes or a blanket to keep warm if you are stuck for a long time
  1. Signal in advance. Give other drivers plenty of notice before turning. This will give them time to react and adjust their driving accordingly.
  2. Avoid sudden moves. Loss of control can occur in cases of sudden change of direction or braking. Slow down and steer gently and gradually to avoid skidding.
  3. Make sure your tire pressure is at the manufacturer’s recommendation and your tires are in good condition.

For complete information and certification on winter driving please see our online Winter Driving Fundamentals course. It will help you reduce winter driving risk and offer simple solutions to winter driving challenges.