Diversified Staffing Services is an independent staffing company with a head office in Calgary and branch offices in Edmonton and Red Deer. Diversified has over 140 employees, and contact staff in every province to help meet all of your job search needs.
If your job requires you to work outdoors, you’ll probably encounter bad weather on at least one occasion. While most instances of rainfall shouldn’t cause any significant risk for concern, there are times when it increases the risk of injury. So, what steps can you take to reduce the risk of bodily injury when working in the rain?
Beware of Slick Surfaces
Not surprisingly, the risk of slip-and-fall injuries is greater when working in the rain. As rain coats paved and otherwise flat surfaces, it creates a serious hazard. Therefore, workers should use extra caution to reduce the risk of injury. If you’re working outdoors in the rain, use caution when walking on flat surfaces to avoid slipping and falling.
Beware of Electrical Power Tools
While there are always exceptions, most power tools are not rated for outdoor use in the rain. If you continue to use a power tool while it’s raining, it could result in shock and/or damage to the tool. Only use power tools that are specifically designed for outdoor use in the rain to prevent such accidents from occurring.
I know this is easier said than done, but try to stay dry when working outdoors in the rain. Wearing wet clothes increases the rate at which your body loses heat by 500%. So even if it’s spring or summer, you could still develop hyperthermia if you don’t stay dry.
Beware of Lightning
Rain alone rarely causes any direct injuries, but when lightning is included, it’s a different. Lightning can strike nearby buildings and power lines, injuring workers.
Use a Strong Grip
If your need to hold onto something, make sure you use a strong grip. Working outdoors in the rain can result in a weak or otherwise loose grip. If you’re trying to hold a wooden beam in place and lose your grip, it can result in serious injury. To prevent this from occurring, use an extra-strong grip when working outdoors in the rain.
Make Sure Others can See You
Depending on where you work exactly, you may want to take additional measures to ensure that other workers and individuals can see you. If you unload and load items off trucks, for instance, you probably want forklift drivers to see you. If they can’t see you, they may strike you, causing serious injury. Of course, visibility is naturally reduced when it rains, so consider wearing a reflective vest to reduce the risk of injury
While many Albertans are enjoying the hot summer weather, those who work in the heat should take precautions to avoid health risks.
Working in the heat and doing physical work can affect the body’s cooling system. If your body is unable to cool itself, you can experience heat stress. If heat stress is not treated in the early stages, more serious conditions such as heat exhaustion can develop.
Hot weather can become a workplace hazard if you do not take precautions. Take time to become acclimatized, stay hydrated, take your breaks and know the signs of heat stress. Your body needs time to adapt to working in hot weather. This process of acclimatization may take 4-7 working days. You should slowly increase the time you spend working outdoors over this period to make sure you can work safely.
You should also be aware of the early signs of heat stress in your and your co-workers, so it can be treated right away:
Dizziness and fatigue;
Changes to breathing and heart rate
The signs and symptoms are the same as those seen in mild shock. Sweating is an important sign, because it is often the only way to tell apart heat exhaustion from a life-threatening condition called heat stroke. If untreated, heat exhaustion may progress to heat stroke. Workers suffering from heat exhaustion should be transported to seek medical aid.
Move the worker to a cooler environment. If possible, lay the worker down, and remove or loosen tight-fitting clothing.
Cool the worker by sponging with cool water and fanning. Take care not to cool the worker too much. If the worker begins to shiver, stop cooling.
In most cases, the patient’s symptoms will improve dramatically within 30 minutes. These patients should still be transported to medical aid.
Acclimatize your body (gradually expose yourself to heat and work).
Drink plenty of water (one glass every 20 minutes).
Wear clean, light-colored, loose-fitting clothing made of breathable fabric.
Take rest breaks in a cool or well-ventilated area.
Take more breaks during the hottest part of the day or when doing hard physical work. Allow your body to cool down before beginning again.
Compared to an industrial work environment, an office can seem like a safe place to work. However, many serious accidents and injuries occur on a regular basis in offices everywhere. Slips, trips and falls are one of the most common causes of workplace injuries. They can occur anywhere whether you are in the production area or in the office
Office workers are injured by falls, fires and electric shock. They receive cuts and bruises from office tools and furniture. They develop long-term injuries from repetitive work. As you go through your day, use these safe work practices:
Watch for obstructions which can cause tripping accidents. Cords and cables should not be placed across traffic areas. Even cords going to a power bar located next to a work station can trip a person getting up from the desk.
Materials should be stored in designated storage areas, not in boxes on the floor
Briefcases, handbags and other personal items should be stored where no one will fall over them
Keep drawers of desks and cabinets closed.
Clean up any spills, such as coffee or water, right way. If a spill cannot be taken care of immediately, arrange a barricade and a sign to warn people. Floors which are wet from cleaning should also be blocked off and marked by warning signs.
Load file cabinets from the bottom up. Serious accidents have occurred when top-heavy filing cabinets have fallen over.
Use safe lifting techniques. It is just as easy to receive a back injury in the office as it is in the warehouse. To pick up a heavy item, squat down beside it. Use the strength in your legs, not your back, to raise it up. Bend your knees, not your back.
Store sharp implements such as scissors, paper knives, and letter openers separately from other items to prevent cuts and puncture wounds.
Be alert to electrical hazards, which can cause fires and electrocution. Check for any frayed or damaged cords or plugs. Electrical repairs should be made only by qualified personnel.
Don’t overload electrical circuits. Extension cords are meant to be used only temporarily, so make sure the area is wired adequately for all of the electronic equipment such as computers, copiers and printers. Breakers which trip frequently are a sign of overloaded circuits.
Don’t use makeshift scaffolds such as a chair balanced on a desk when you are reaching for something overhead. Take the time to get a stepladder or stepstool.
Repetitive strain injuries are increasingly common in offices. When doing work such as computer keyboarding, keep your hands and wrists straight and relaxed. Frequently switch to other tasks to give your hands a rest.
Dehydration occurs when you lose more fluids than you take in and your body doesn’t have enough water and other fluids to carry out its normal functions. If lost fluid is not replenished, you may suffer serious consequences.
Inadequate intake of water during hot weather or exercise also may deplete your body’s water stores. Common causes of dehydration include vomiting, diarrhea, fever or excessive sweating. Anyone may become dehydrated, but young children, older adults and people with chronic illnesses are most at risk.
Mild dehydration can cause symptoms such as
Dry, sticky mouth
Sleepiness or tiredness
Decreased urine output
Few or no tears when crying
Dizziness or lightheadedness
Dehydration can be treated by replenishing the lost fluids your body has lost. Drink at least 32 ounces of water or sports drinks slowly and steadily. Rest, if you don’t feel better, drink more slowly and steadily.
Six tips for preventing dehydration and staying safe in the sun
Replace fluids at the same rate you are expending them.
Don’t wait until you are thirsty. Drink water consistently throughout the day. If you are sweating a lot, then drink the appropriate amount of water to match.
Wear light- colored, thin fabrics and loosely fitting clothing.
The clothes you wear have a great effect on your overall body temperature, especially in the direct sunlight. Lighter clothes doesn’t absorb as much heat and looser clothes allow air to pass along the skin and carry away heat.
Caffeine is a diuretic, and actually absorbs moisture. Drinking caffeinated drinks can contribute to dehydration, because while it is fluid intake for the body it is pulling water out of your system.
Eat fruits and vegetables
Fruits and vegetables have high water content naturally and are easy to digest, reducing the energy your body is expending. When you fill your diet with these foods, you’re getting good nutrients while also hydrating yourself.
Take breaks from direct sunlight and heat.
Break up your heat exposure with stints of cooler temperatures. Get inside or in the shade for lunch and water breaks. Allow your body to cool, instead of only increase in temperature over time.
Use a fan, cold washcloth or mister.
Find ways to bring down your body temperature or keep it at a lower base level throughout the day. The lower your body temperature, the less fluid loss, and a decreased risk for dehydration.
While extended heat exposure is likely unavoidable, taking tips like these to the job site will help you take preventative action to protect yourself and others from dehydration and other heat-related health risks.
These tips may require extra effort, but the benefit will far outweigh the cost throughout the hot days ahead.
It is important to be aware that wildfire smoke can affect your health and to take precautions to protect yourself by reducing your exposure, especially if you are sensitive to the smoke.
Who is most at risk?
People with pre-existing chronic conditions such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), diabetes, and heart disease
Women who are pregnant
Infants and small children
Healthy people can be affected too—everyone responds differently—so listen to your body.
What to watch for
Forest fire smoke contains small particles that travel deep into your lungs when you inhale. These particles can cause irritation and an immune response, similar to those caused by bacteria or viruses. This immune response can last until the air quality improves. Most symptoms are relatively mild, and can be managed without medical attention:
Some people may experience more severe symptoms and should seek prompt medical attention if you experience any of the following:
Shortness of breath
How to protect yourself from wildfire smoke – Reduce your exposure to smoke and seek clean air:
Take it easy on smoky days because the faster you breathe, the more smoke you inhale
Use a portable HEPA air filter to clean the air in one area of your home
Visit public spaces such as community centres, libraries, and shopping malls which tend to have better indoor air quality because they have larger air filtration systems
Drink lots of water to help reduce inflammation
If you are working outdoors, use an N95 particulate respirator.
People with pre-existing medical conditions should take extra precautions and should keep their rescue medications with them at all times. If you cannot get your symptoms under control, seek prompt medical attention.
Most of you have heard the general rules of safe lifting. Remember to “Get a firm grip on the load, keep it close, bend at the knees, use your legs to lift the load, and keep your spine in the natural position (with an arch in your lower back).” These principles always apply and should be incorporated into every lift–if possible!
Given the enormous number of “risky” lifting situations that you are faced with at your place of work, you may not be able to apply these principles every time. This is why you must always remember to LIFT IT TWICE! What?!
The act of lifting is the same as any other movement that you can learn to do better with practice. As you know, the more you practice a skill the better you become at doing it. But preparing to master a skill normally involves mental as well as physical training. Consider bowling, golf, skiing or sharp-shooting. You think carefully about the movements you’re going to make before you do them. This is the only way to get them right–at least until they become second nature. Similarly, lifting TWICE means applying the principal of planning your movements prior to performing the lift:
Your first lift is a mental lift. Think about the lift prior to actually doing it:
How am I going to lift the item? Can I do it myself or should I get some help?
How heavy is the item? Do I need to use mechanical assistance?
Where am I taking the item being lifted? Is the area clear where I need to set it down?
Is it a difficult path or a distance to go?
What hazards may hamper the lift or obstruct the travel path?
Eliminate those hazards before you lift the item. In other words, Plan the Lift First!
The second lift is the actual physical lift. Here is where you carry out your plan.
Use proper body mechanics and techniques while going through the motions. Bend those knees!
Most important: Keep the load as close to your body as possible and don’t twist.
Next time someone tells you to lift twice remember…
Two lifts are better than One … when it comes to reducing the risk of a strain on your back!
Our hearing is precious to us. Once we diminish or lose our hearing we can never fully recover it. Both on the job and at home there are many ways to be overexposed to sounds that can damage our hearing. It is important to realize how loud is too loud and how to protect yourself.
Many tools, equipment, and processes in the workplace generate high levels of noise that will have a negative effect on the hearing of the exposed workers. Over 22 million workers are exposed to hazardous noise levels at work each year. Occupational hearing loss is one of the most common workplace injuries today. Damage to our hearing can happen over a short time or over a longer extended period of time depending on the source of the sound. Short loud bursts of noise such as explosions or gun shots can damage our ears in a short time of being exposed. Less hazardous noise such as woodworking equipment, heavy equipment, and machinery can lead to damage over an extended amount of time being exposed to the noise.
While many people are overexposed at work, there are also many who are overexposed at home. Many of your hobbies may also be causing hearing loss. Activities such as listening to loud music, shooting guns, woodworking, using a lawn mower, riding a dirt bike, etc. will damage your hearing overtime. It is important to understand what levels of noise will damage your hearing.
What is Too Loud?
It is recommended to stay under levels of 85 decibels over an 8-hour time weighted average (TWA).
Here are the average decibel ratings of some familiar sounds:
Normal conversation- 60 decibels
Heavy city traffic-85 decibels
Circular saw-100-105 decibels
An MP3 player at maximum volume-105 decibels
Sirens- 120 decibels
Firecrackers and firearms- 150 decibels
Hearing Damage Prevention
The best way to protect yourself is to eliminate the exposure. That can be achieved through removing yourself from the area the noise is in or eliminating the excessive noise altogether.
Engineering controls are the second best choice in protection from noise. Sound barriers, enclosures, and noise dampening systems are examples of engineering controls that will bring down the level of noise in an area.
Administrative controls on using hearing protection, job rotation, breaks, and routine maintenance programs of equipment are some ways that protect workers from being exposed to hazardous noise.
PPE is the last line of defense. It is important to know the levels of noise that remain after applying the other techniques mentioned above. For noises between 85 decibels and 100 decibels on an 8 hour TWA, ear plugs will be enough to protect you if worn correctly. Over 100 decibels then double hearing protection is needed, an example is earplugs and ear muffs. Your distance from the source of the sound and the length of time you are exposed to the sound are also important factors in protecting your hearing. A good rule of thumb is to avoid sounds that are too loud, too close, or last too long.
Protect your hearing. Once it goes, its gone. It is possible to regain some of your hearing back artificially through hearing aids, but it will never be the same as it was before it was damaged. Take hearing protection seriously. Put a plug in noise!
Every year on April 28 we pay our respects to, and remember, the thousands of workers who have been killed, injured or suffered illness as a result of work-related incidents. Sadly, Alberta lost 162 men and women to workplace injury or illness in 2018. On April 28, we remember.
In 1984, the Canadian Labour Congress first declared April 28th Canada’s Day of Mourning. 2019 marks its 35th anniversary.
The National Day of Mourning is not only a day to remember and honor those lives lost or injured due to a workplace tragedy, but also a day to collectively renew our commitment to improve health and safety in the workplace and prevent further injuries, illnesses and deaths.
On April 28th the Canadian flag will fly at half-mast on Parliament Hill and on all federal government buildings. Employers and workers will observe Day of Mourning in a variety of ways. Some light candles, lay wreaths, wear commemorative pins, ribbons or black armbands, and pause for a moment of silence at 11:00 a.m.
It is as much a day to commemorate those workers whose lives have been lost or injured as it is a reminder to strengthen our resolve and establish safer work practices and conditions. Together we can work toward a safer workplace for all Albertans.
Beyond the Statistics
The most recent statistics from the Association of Workers’ Compensation Board of Canada (AWCBC) tell us that in 2017, 951 workplace fatalities were recorded in Canada, an increase of 46 from the previous year. Among these deaths were 23 young workers age 15-24.
Add to these fatalities the 251,508 accepted claims (an increase from 241,508 the previous year) for lost time due to a work-related injury or disease, including 31,441 from workers aged 15-24, and the fact that these statistics only include what is reported and accepted by the compensation boards, there is no doubt that the total number of workers impacted is even greater.
It’s not just these numbers we need to reflect. With each worker tragedy there are loved ones, family members, friends and co-workers who are directly affected, left behind, and deeply impacted- their lives also forever changed.