Safety above all else.
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See why, learn more. Click on the tabs below.
We pride ourselves on thorough and mandatory safety policies and practices we have on ALL of our job sites. Our safety advisors ensure our policies are enacted on every job site, and they make sure we adhere strictly to the Occupational Health and Safety regulations of Canada. Our health and safety record to date is proof of our dedication to a culture of safety-first in construction painting.
Most of you have probably heard that in order to lift safely, you must lift properly. You’re told to “bend your knees not your back,” and “don’t twist as you lift.” This is good advice but sometimes seems to go against human nature. Yet, there are actions you can take to help you lift properly.
1. Get as close to the load as possible. The further the load is from the center line of your body, the greater the strain imposed on your back. If need be, squat down to lift the load and pull it between your legs. This gets it closer to the center of your body and helps prevent the need to bend at the waist. However, since your leg muscles are the largest muscles in your body, they are the biggest energy consumers. Repeated squatting can be very fatiguing, and reduces a person’s ability to lift in this manner for any length of time. In addition to lifting the load, you are also hoisting the majority of your body weight. For repeated lifting, other strategies must be
2. Avoid picking up heavy objects placed below your knees. Try to see that heavy objects are placed and stored above knee level and below shoulder level. If you suspect the load is too heavy to be lifted comfortably, do not chance it. Use a mechanical aid, break the load down into its component parts, or get help. The most common cause of back injury is overloading.
3. Keep your back straight. This means don’t bend at the waist when reaching to lift an object. Keep the natural arch in your lower back, which distributes the load evenly over the surface of spinal disks, and is less stressful than if the disk is pinched between vertebras. Bending principally from the hips is acceptable if you maintain the arch in your back, rather than bending at the waist.
4. Glue your hand to your thigh. If you carry a load in one hand, such as when carrying a tool box, place your free hand on the outside of your thigh and mentally “glue” it into position. This will help you maintain correct back alignment rather than lifting and tilting to one side. When carrying a heavy load, side bending can be just as stressful to the spine as bending forward.
5. Tighten your stomach muscles. This technique helps prevent your spine from twisting. If you lift a load and need to place it off to one side, turn by moving your feet. After repeated lifts you might find yourself getting a bit sloppy and forgetting to move your feet. You can overcome this tendency if the place you set the load down is at least one step away from where it is lifted. If you wear a back support belt, wear it low on your trunk and loosen it when you are not lifting.
6. Stay in good physical condition. A protruding stomach is an extra load carried away from the center line of the body, and prevents you from keeping a lifted object close-the number one rule for back care. When you bend at the waist to lift, due to the leverage principal, the load is up to 10 times heavier than its actual weight. A “pot belly” puts extra, stressful weight on the spine.
7. Stretch and loosen up before work. Research has shown that trunk flexibility and mobility is significantly lower in the morning than later in the day, increasing the number and severity of back strains at this time. A few minutes of stretching can warm up cold stiff muscles and tendons and help you avoid an injury. All professional athletes know this-“industrial athletes” should too!
Those of us in the safety profession spend a lot of time letting people know what causes accidents and how to avoid them. Sometimes this involves sharing stories of accidents that happened-or almost happened-to others. This Outline is about a couple of “near miss” events that could have been much more serious, or even involved a fatality. As you read about these cases, analyze what went wrong and decide what you should do to avoid a similar exposure. A Rigging Mishap: This incident took place in a remote area of Alaska. An electrical sub contractor was hired by a general contractor to bore under roadways and stream beds, and install construction conduit. Part of the agreement required the general to position the boring machine where these operations were to take place. This required winching a truck and trailer combination up a steep incline on an oil company right of way. The general contractor’s crew delivered the truck and trailer, positioned it at the bottom of the right of way, and supplied the bulldozer and all rigging for the job. The lead person on the subcontractor’s boring crew stayed in the truck as it was being winched up the incline. This particular incline was located adjacent to a cliff. As the rig was being winched up the hill, the sling between the winch line and the truck parted, and the truck and trailer began free wheeling backwards toward the cliff. The truck driver decided to jack knife the trailer and jump clear of the vehicle in order to avoid going over the edge. The trailer was damaged as a result, but no personal injuries occurred. It could have been a disaster. So, why did this happen? The sling selected for this application was too small to withstand the weight of the truck and trailer combination. Knowing the weight of the load is the first step. Selection of rigging which can withstand that weight–plus a significant safety factor–is the next step. The third step is a thorough inspection of all rigging to assure it is in good working order. If these steps had been taken, the mishap could have been avoided. An Overhead Danger: Another incident happened to this same subcontractor on a different conduit construction project. The conduit, which is spooled off the truck and into the vault, is guided by rollers which prevent the wire from being damaged as it is pulled in. The heavy rollers hang on the side of the manhole and present no danger of being dislodged–usually. On this job, wire for a section of conduit had been pulled in and a worker in the bottom of the vault was preparing it for terminations in the pad mounted transformer. Then, somehow, the roller became dislodged and fell approximately eight feet, glancing off the worker’s hard hat and shoulder. He sustained minor injuries to his head and shoulder, but if he had not been wearing a hard hat, the accident would almost certainly have been fatal. The reason construction workers should wear hard hats at all times was made obvious by this incident. If you become accustomed to going without one, you’ll often forget to put it on when it is needed. In the “near miss” case described, two things could have prevented this accident: (1) rollers could have been secured in place with rope, and (2) rollers could have been removed once the wire pulling operation was complete. This is hindsight. Avoid accidents with foresight!
Stress. Many of us are faced with it everyday, but we might not know how to deal with it. It is important to learn how to handle stress because it can affect our performance and relationships in our work and home. At work, stress can lead to distraction and cause an unfortunate accident. At home, stress can put a strain on family relationships. Stress usually occurs when there are changes in our lives and we feel that we don’t have enough resources to deal with those changes and demands. Which of the following do you think causes stress: getting married, winning the lottery, or having an argument? It is all of them. Stress can occur not only from negative life experiences, but also from positive ones. People react and deal with stress differently, but common stress symptoms include upset stomach, fatigue, tight neck muscles, irritability and headaches. Some people react to stress by eating or drinking too much, losing sleep or smoking cigarettes. Stress may also make you more susceptible to illnesses, including the common cold, ulcers, and some cancers. The step to managing stress is to identify your “stressors”; those things that are making you react. Stressors may not only be events that cause you to feel sad, frightened, anxious or happy. You can cause stress through your thoughts, feelings and expectations. Look at the list below. Which cause you stress? Can you think of other stressors?
• Unexpected change
• Extra responsibility
• Personality clashes
• Money difficulties
Everyone has to deal with life’s problems. A key to dealing with the big and little everyday stressors is coping with stress in a positive way.
1. Acceptance- Many of us worry about things we have no control over. For example, a family illness, great deal of change at work, or finding out that your basketball team lost. One way to manage stress is to accept when things are beyond your control. It may be helpful to think positive thoughts such as, “Someday I’ll laugh about this,” or “It’s a learning experience.”
2. Attitude- Try to focus on the positive side of situations. Ask yourself, “What good can come out of this?” “What can I learn from this situation?” and “How can I handle this better when it comes up again?” Solutions come easier when you focus on the positive and your stress level
3. Perspective- We often worry about things that never happen. Keep things in perspective by asking yourself, “How important is this situation? Can I do anything about it?, In five years, will I even remember it happened?” Think about the situations in your life that cause you stress. Are they important or unimportant? Are they controllable or uncontrollable? If they are controllable events, you can take action to change the situation; if they are uncontrollable, you can use your skills in acceptance, attitude and perspective to reduce the stress.
Cumulative Trauma Disorders (CTD’s) are strains that may result from long-term repetitive motion or from continually working in an awkward position. Strains commonly occur in the wrists, arms, shoulders or back, affecting the body’s joints and surrounding muscles and tendons. CTD’s are said to be today’s fastest growing occupational problem, affecting all types of employees, from computer operators to construction workers. Modern equipment, tools and machinery have increased production capabilities in many ways. But in some cases, they have also increased the potential for strain injuries in people. These disorders not only cause great discomfort, they can also affect a person’s employability and personal lifestyle choices.
SUGGESTIONS FOR REDUCING YOUR EXPOSURE TO CTD’s:
Do warm-up exercises before beginning physically demanding tasks (take a tip from athletes). Plan ahead, if you will be doing a job that is awkward–think of ways to make it easier. Rotate your work position, to change how muscles are used during your work shift. Use the proper tool for the job to avoid awkward movements and the need for overexertion. Take a rest break when fatigue sets in. Just a few minutes can make a difference. Carefully stretch tired or overworked muscles to improve circulation and relieve tension. When appropriate, use anti-shock or anti-vibration gloves, back supports, wrist supports, or other personal protective equipment that helps prevent cumulative trauma. Always use proper lifting techniques. Back strain is one of the most common CTD’s. When using hand tools keep your wrists in a “neutral” position, as opposed to repeatedly bending them up, down or sideways during work tasks. Just because a co-worker is not affected by a physically demanding task, don’t ignore messages your body sends you. Although humans share many physical characteristics, people are often different in terms of their physical strengths and weaknesses. All muscle discomfort and fatigue is not a cumulative trauma disorder. Everyone experiences occasional aches and pains from both work and play-especially when you are not used to the activity. Nevertheless, awkward, repetitive work positions can result in long-term physical problems, so it’s up to you to avoid these in whatever ways you can. If the ache doesn’t go away within a day or two, follow the above suggestions. If you have early symptoms of chronic discomfort, report it immediately to your supervisor. The sooner a better tool or work position can be incorporated into your work activities; the sooner those symptoms can be controlled. Listen to what your body tells you and learn how to avoid CTD’s!
Main Points: Do managers and supervisors assume their employees know how to do their jobs safely? What we have here, as the famous line from the movie “Cool Hand Luke” goes, is a failure to communicate. Do workers, meanwhile, assume that their bosses know about job risks and would not have them do anything that endangered their safety? Don’t assume anything when it comes to safety. For example: Don’t assume safety is taken care of just because we have a written EHS program. We are all apart of turning these words into actions. Don’t assume safety is under control because we’ve given someone the responsibility of it. We all need to take responsibility for “walking the walk”, by reporting hazards and near misses to EHS. Don’t assume your fellow employees know what to do because they’ve attended safety meetings, seen safety videos, or received some training. “It’s okay to remind me to be safe!” Look out for risk behaviors that people exhibit and let them know that there is a safer, more effective way, to get the job done. Don’t assume experienced workers aren’t at risk. We often worry about young inexperienced workers getting hurt, but often experienced workers who become complacent or take short cuts are at just as great a risk. Don’t assume other people will report workplace hazards. People usually know where the dangers lie, but often won’t report them for fear of being labeled a troublemaker or they assume that it’s someone else job to report it. Don’t assume the workplace has been checked for all safety risks. Often office and field inspections overlook or fail to identify specific workplace hazards. Don’t assume that an incident investigation gets at the true causes of safety problems. Managers and supervisors can make the mistake of focusing on immediate causes — dangerous conditions and employee mistakes — not root causes, such as problems in the management system. While immediate causes are important, the key to avoiding a reoccurrence is resolving the root issue which is often a procedural glitch. Don’t assume someone else will take responsibility for safety. “Passing the buck” has never gotten anything done efficiently! We all play a major role in the team vision of “zero recordable injuries”. A hand full of people cannot insure the safety of all. Don’t assume that just because it’s the year 2005, and we live in the most technically advanced society in the world that we have “the bull by the horns”! People are still being seriously injured and worse in our offices and on our sites. Technology is not the key solution here, human knowledge and behaviour are. What do you assume about safety, as an employee, as a supervisor, as a manager? Check it out. You might be in for a surprise.
REMEMBER – S.A.F.E.T.Y IS A STATE OF MIND, ACCIDENTS ARE AN ABSENCE OF MIND
Hammers, wrenches, chisels, pliers, screwdrivers, and other hand tools are often underrated as sources of potential danger. Hand tools may look harmless, but they are the cause of many injuries. In fact, an estimated 8 percent of all workplace compensable injuries are caused by incidents associated with hand tools. These injuries can be serious, including loss of fingers or eyesight. Hand tools can cause many types of injuries:
1. Cuts, abrasions, amputations, and punctures. If hand tools are designed to cut or move metal and wood, remember what a single slip can do to fragile human flesh.
2. Repetitive motion injuries. Using the same tool in the same way all day long, day after day, can stress human muscles and ligaments. Carpal tunnel syndrome (inflammation of the nerve sheath in the wrist) and injuries to muscles, joints and ligaments are increasingly common if the wrong tool is used, or the right tool is used improperly. Injury from continuous vibration can also cause numbness or poor circulation in hands and arms.
3. Eye injuries. Flying chips of wood or metal are a common hazard, often causing needless and permanent blindness.
4. Broken bones and bruises. Tools can slip, fall from heights, or even be thrown by careless employees, causing severe injuries. A hammer that falls from a ladder is a lethal weapon. To avoid such injuries, remember the following safety procedures:
Remember, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!
A hazard is defined as a condition or changing set of circumstances that presents a potential for injury, illness, or property damage. The potential or inherent characteristics of an activity, condition, or circumstance which can produce adverse or harmful consequences. An accident is defined as an unfortunate event often the result of carelessness or ignorance. An unforeseen and unplanned event or circumstance usually resulting in an unfavorable outcome. There are some key words in these definitions: Unplanned, Unforeseen, Unfortunate, Unfavorable and most importantly POTENTIAL! I met a person the other day that had fallen from a height of 25 feet. He was fortunate to have escaped this accident with only a badly broken leg. A few weeks ago a worker fell just a couple of feet off a ladder and he passed away. Both of these situations have been discussed to the limit and on several occasions I heard people refer to luck, good and bad! Well, the last time I looked, luck was not an effective accident prevention or loss control technique. For an unplanned or unforeseen event to take place, there has to be potential! Complacency and taking things for granted are causes of a tremendous number of injuries each year. Recognizing hazards and doing something about them is everyone’s responsibility! So as you begin work, ask yourself: • Do I have the right tools/equipment for the job?
Be aware of the potential hazards associated with your work and make your choices carefully.
Attention! NOISE DESTROYS HEARING! Once destroyed, your hearing will not come back, EVER!!! EVER!!! Approximately 10 million workers in the Canada are exposed to potentially hazardous noise levels and YOU are one of them! Many of you have seen the destructive power of sound demonstrated by a singer, whose voice can shatter a glass across the room. If sound waves can do that, it’s not surprising that they can also inflict serious damage to your hearing. Construction work has traditionally been a noisy occupation, and unfortunately there is an army of seasoned construction workers out there with hearing loss to prove it. By the time most people detect a hearing problem, it’s already too late – the damage is done – and there is NO CURE. Noise related hearing injuries are cumulative over days, weeks, months and years. Noise erodes your hearing much like water erodes the soil. Each time the damaging sound or water flows, the erosion become worse, until eventually the area is destroyed. How much noise is too much? For your hearing protection, OSHA Standards place allowable limits on noise exposure. When occupational noise exceeds these limits, steps must be taken to eliminate, reduce, or relocate the source of the sound. If an exposure to sound hazards still exists, then appropriate hearing protection must be worn (Plain cotton is not an acceptable protection device.). Noise measurements are taken on the Syncrude site on a periodic basis and appropriate signage is installed to warn people of the hazards and PPE requirements. How do you know when you’re in danger? Watch for the PPE signs and wear your hearing protection. Also, you have exposed yourself to danger and your hearing has being permanently damaged.
The solution to protecting your hearing is very simple. Wear earplugs or muffs. Don’t wait for someone to tell you to put wear them, just do it. Remember,“Working Safely, Allows you to Keep Working”
One thousand eye injuries occur in American workplaces every day. These injuries are responsible for over $3,000,000.00 annually in medical, lost production and workers’ compensation costs!! Why are these injuries occurring?
What can we do to prevent these injuries? First of all make sure you select the proper eye protection for the task. 94% of the eye injuries that occurred to workers wearing eye protection resulted from objects or chemicals going around or under the protector. Second, make sure the eye protection you have selected fits properly and is clean. One of the leading reasons for workers removing or not wearing eye protection is the lens became dirty and they could not see what they were doing. Nearly 20% of eye injuries happened to workers wearing face shields or welding helmets while grinding. Only 6% of the workers injured while wearing eye protection were wearing goggles. Choose the best protection. Make sure it fits. Keep it clean. Wear it.
Unlike a western gunfight “shoot out” at the corral on television, serious accidents can cause real anguish and suffering so real and vivid that persons involved or nearby bystanders rarely forget the flow of blood, broken limbs, crushed bodies, or screams of pain. An accident without injury though is more like the bloodless, painless fakery of television “violence”-perhaps without real purpose in the drama, and therefore easy to forget. In real life there is a danger in brushing off accidents that do not hurt, harm, or damage. When these accidents, or perhaps we should refer to them as near misses, happen we should immediately run the red warning flag up the pole. Because a non-injury accident is like a 104-degree fever, it’s a positive sign or symptom that something is wrong. Sometimes we misdiagnose or completely fail to diagnose the symptoms of near misses, because luck or blind chance saved us from injury. We may tend to shrug it off and forget the near miss with a casual kind of ignorance. Hopefully everyone agrees that it is not a good practice to rely on luck for effective accident prevention. One of the best ways to eliminate the likelihood of future close calls is through effective root cause analysis and effective corrective action taken on near misses. A list of near misses can be almost endless. Lack of proper machine guarding; improper maintenance or grounding of equipment; missing handrails or guardrails; poor housekeeping; improperly stored material; stubbing a toe on a protruding floor object; bumping up against a sharp object; or tripping over clutter and almost falling down. It’s best to learn the real lessons from these near misses, since they are very likely to continue to occur repeatedly until an injury occurs. There was a study done many years ago that found for every serious or disabling injury reported, there were about 10 injuries of a less serious nature, 30 property damage incidents, and about 600 incidents (near misses) with no visible injury or property damage. This study was part of the foundation for the widely accepted accident prevention theory that “increased frequency leads to severity.” How can you help? Report each and every near miss incident to your supervisor immediately in order to help prompt investigation and follow up actions that will reduce the potential for future near misses. Supervisors must partially rely upon you and your fellow workers to report these to them, as they just can’t see everything. If you are involved with or witness a near miss incident, remember that you or your co-worker may not get a second injury free chance to hoist that red warning flag up the pole. Do your part to help make the workplace safe for everyone involved.
REPORT THOSE NEAR MISSES TO YOUR SUPERVISOR IMMEDIATELY