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OHS Infraction Statistics – A plethora of citations

OHS Infraction Statistics – A plethora of citations

OHS Infraction Statistics – A plethora of citations Every year a compilation of statistics comes across my computer screen. Mostly from the United States. Probably because they have more industry and more people and just more – period. This year is no exception. Although not final, the top 10 are frightening because they are preventable. Both in the US and here in our own backyard. I have linked to this list from Fred Hosier here for you to see the unofficial numbers for the top 10 OSHA violations. I am in Alberta, times are tough, even tougher than the 80’s with 20% mortgage rates. This time it is rampant unemployment.  As business struggles to continue shortcuts are made and blind eyes are turned because the rent and wages must be paid.  I hear it all the time “Why do they need safety refresher training? Nothing new about driving that forklift for the past 20 yrs. plus we don’t have the money to train, tell them to be more careful.” So, why is the list of citations relevant to Alberta? We are living and working in an emotionally charged province.It has been proven that as humans we do not always think clearly when our emotions are inflamed.  The list cites for example broken ladder usage.  I agree the ladders should not be in the workplace if they are broken, but where is the workers thinking process? (#7 on the list) Cash strapped and minimal margin quoting. Workers, supervisors and managers are being asked to do more with less.  Pressure often follows because they are not taught how to properly cut costs without compromising safety, integrity and reputation. Again, effective training comes into question which inevitably leads to a conversation regarding costs and limited resources. Self preservation mode. Workers rely on a paycheque to maintain their personal safety and that of their family. Maslow talked about the hierarchy of needs and never before has a feeling of helplessness or hopelessness permeated our province. Mental Health has been prominently displayed within the media of late. Those who are working may feel helpless that others are not working and may be suffering, and for those who aren’t working the hopelessness seeps in and diminishes character, motivation and destroys relationships. Workers who have their livelihood jeopardized enter preservation mode. They don’t mean to become self absorbed, their world has just become a great deal smaller and those...

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Ontario checks Chemical Handling – Alberta may soon follow

Principle Safety has been assisting companies with Chemical Handling and WHMIS Safety long enough to understand what it takes to inform workers of the risks, properly identify and document chemical hazards with storage and handling, and reduce the risk of exposure and property damage.  Throw in legislative compliance and we come full circle. We began converting our clients over to WHMIS 2015 (GHS) as soon as the new labelling appeared on the market, and we continue to teach both WHMIS and WHMIS 2015 to ensure workers understand the chemicals and information presented to them. I expect with a deadline for GHS compliance looming that Alberta Workplace Health Safety Officers will soon follow Ontario’s Ministry of Labour Inspectors. Call us for a no obligation conversation.  780.988.0694   An excerpt from WSPS: 12 questions to help you prepare for this fall’s chemical handling blitz Jul 29, 2016 From September 19 to October 31, Ministry of Labour inspectors will fan out across the province, visiting workplaces to check records, observe, and ask questions about their chemical handling practices. With help from WSPS occupational hygienist Ilma Bhunnoo, WSPS eNews poses 12 sample questions that can help you assess the comprehensiveness of your chemical handling program. Ask yourself these questions with the spirit of the blitz in mind: “It’s about prevention, not just compliance,” says Bhunnoo. “Everyone in Ontario’s prevention system wants people to go home healthy and safe at the end of the day, just as you do. This means knowing what’s on site, knowing the risks, and ensuring you have proper controls in place to protect your people and your property.”   What chemicals do you have on site, and how much? Having an up-to-date list is a first step in managing risk. What are their properties (e.g., physical state under normal conditions, boiling point, freezing point, vapour density…)? What risks do they pose (e.g., corrosive, oxidizing, flammable…)? Each type of risk has unique handling requirements. Are the chemicals being stored in a way that minimizes risk (e.g., in suitable containers, within the right temperature range, away from incompatible chemicals…)? Are your engineering controls functioning properly (e.g., ventilation)? Can you add additional controls to reduce handling and exposure? If people are required to use personal protective equipment, are they wearing the right equipment? Do they know what equipment they should be wearing? Does it fit properly? Are there ways to minimize handling (e.g., piping...

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Fear – occupational illness?

Fear – occupational illness?

The words evoking fear amongst the working population have changed. Layoff, termination, closure and recession immediately come to mind. So, what is it about fear that clutches our thought process and hangs on with a vise like grip? Why are we unable to keep our minds on our tasks? Well, fear unites us. Maslow identifies a need for socialization, and describes how we have a psychological need to belong. When our colleagues are leaving the workforce in droves without prospects for re-employment, we unite ourselves with them, trying to protect them and ourselves. Trying to provide comfort and hope in an environment devoid of both. Especially when we see their loss as no fault of their own, they did nothing wrong, and we have no way of gauging who of the remaining staff will be let go. We have all been asked to do more with less. And we are spending more to attract fewer prospects, companies cut throat pricing to try to keep those in their employ working. We commensurate with our fellow workers and we feel a sense of belonging, and we stand together facing a management group, each afraid for themselves as well as their co-worker. Fear also divides us. In the absence of fact or information our brains work tirelessly to fill in gaps, often making up ridiculous solutions that we perceive as factual. When employees see the decline in the workload, they know that companies cannot sustain a labour force that isn’t producing. In a corporation where communication is weak, I would wager that a rift already exists between labour & management. Typically, production or process labour is the first and hardest hit when revenues drop as a result of work shortages, with some core production employees remaining along with many administrative/managerial positions. Violence between workers & supervisors, violence amongst workers, and loud social media comments about poor corporate morale in boardrooms begins to pervade the workplace. Besides the obvious threat to safety, we don’t have our minds on the tasks at hand, we are allowing whatever drama is happening inside our heads to be more important than our life, our health and our families. We have started to dismiss the future (injury) – opting for the immediate (dealing with a fear we believe is more likely materialize than suffering harm). Is this fear new, or just “more” real? Safety professionals have long preached how...

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8 tips on how to be a great supervisor

8 tips on how to be a great supervisor Originally posted Aug 06, 2015   “Great supervisors mean you have a great culture,” says Greg Swan, health and safety officer for Ottawa Community Housing Corporation. Key attributes of great supervisors were the subject of a session Swan led at WSPS’ national Partners in Prevention Health & Safety Conference & Trade Show. Here are some highlights.     Be honest and transparent. Tell everybody what you know, whether they’re going to like it or not. If you try to hold back, they’re going to sense it. Be firm but fair. The best boss in the world is the one who will pat you on the back but kick you in the butt too. Establish an understanding with your team that you have their back and hopefully they have yours. Expectations are key here. Talk to your team members and get on the same page. Open up communications. Listen and be transparent. Look for opportunities to boost morale. You’re officially the happy police. During team meetings, if you’re the one doing all the talking, you’re doing it wrong. Engaging your employees will encourage them for the rest of the day to be involved in any questions and answers that come up. Motivate. You’re trying to build leaders. As President Eisenhower said, you cannot push a string. It’s one of the greatest leadership quotes of all time. Provide positive recognition. When you’re supposed to be doing your daily/monthly inspections and you’re documenting what you find wrong, do you document what you find right? When recognizing people for doing great, do it with conviction, (there has to be belief in your voice), be specific about what you’re giving them positive feedback on (as opposed to ‘Hey, great job!’), and make sure you’re reinforcing the right thing (not just ‘Thanks for getting that done on time’). Document. Notebooks may be old school, but they’re incredibly useful for recording positive or negative behaviour when it happens. Be prepared when the health and safety professional asks, ‘Show me how you keep personal notes about your staff.’ Or the HR person asks, ‘Where are those personal notes you took when giving a little verbal discipline?’ Get on Twitter. People give everything away. ‘Here’s the 10 best ways to do this,’ or ‘Watch out for these critical moments in your workplace.’ You get a lot of education for...

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Spring Training

Now that spring is here and the weather is warming, it’s time to get training into full swing. No, we’re not talking about baseball; we’re talking about safety training. If your business has been in winter hibernation, now is the time to get your employees in shape for the regular season. It’s time to review your training records and see if you have any equipment operators that are due for re-certification or need to be trained on new equipment. This is a good time to schedule refresher training on the fundamentals of general safe work practices such as the use of PPE, material handling, fire prevention, and electrical safety. If there have been any changes in the types of protective equipment workers will use they will need training on them. If your work includes using ladders or scaffolds, retrain everyone on safe climbing procedures and fall protection. Verify that employees who will be responsible for assembling, moving, and disassembling scaffolds have retained the knowledge necessary to perform that work safely. You should also review your list first aid providers to make sure it’s current, and determine if you want to increase the number of certified personnel. Since certification or refresher, training for your responders will likely require scheduling the training with an approved organization (i.e. the Red Cross or St. John Ambulance), now is the time to contact them and either schedule a company training session or enroll employees into existing classes. While we’re on the subject of first aid, you should take this opportunity to inspect, inventory, and replenish your first aid kits. Make sure you have enough kits of the right size for the upcoming jobs, and that all of the kit contents are there and haven’t expired or been damaged. Scheduling training now, before it gets busy, could save you a lot of time or money later. It’s going to be a long season, make sure your team is ready to go the distance and is bringing their “A”...

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Where did you go?

Where did you go?

All those annoying phone calls from the banks, credit card companies, member associations and healthcare providers asking for updated information.  I used to think they were a huge pain in my butt – until I needed to keep up a membership list and send out information.  This is when I learned that there are reasons for frequent update calls – we, as a society, do not like to have to do this – we assume that our most current information is shared amongst all of the agencies.  Well it’s not.  How long ago did you apply for that bank account? Before you moved and entered into a meaningful relationship and changed jobs twice ??  How about that membership with a professional group – you were getting emails at one point but not now. Your employer may not even have the most current information – I sent out a T4 to an employee to the address I had on file. It was old and the employee didn’t work for me any longer.  It was eventually discovered and resent, but the whole incident could have been avoided. Why not have an annual date reserved for updating information? Perhaps you no longer wish to receive emails from certain organizations or you want to have a certain line of information forwarded but not others.  Most agencies or organizations have profiles for their members – your preferences for food, music and movies changes over time why not your preferences for communications? It is a great time to look at your profile and determine if the settings fit your current situation. Updating your profile takes little time and can put current and relevant information into your inbox and remove or limit the “junk” that you just delete without a glance. So, I urge everyone to take a look at your profiles – bank, doctor, professional agency, online memberships and educational facilities. When is the last time you let them know how you prefer to be contacted and where to contact you ? March is the end of the first quarter and a great time for a quick re-evaluation of what is coming or not coming into your electronic...

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