The Quebec Superior Court has ruled that Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Local 301 City of Montreal workers must pay $2 million in damages surrounding an illegal strike that resulted in injuries to the public.
The strike, which took place during an ice storm in Montreal in December 2004, lasted one week. During that time, no salt or sand was spread on city walkways, creating perilous conditions for pedestrians.
Sixty Montreal residents initiated a class action lawsuit for injuries or other damages they suffered as a result of the untended streets and sidewalks. Justice Danielle Grenier criticized the workers for their “reprehensible behavior” which showed a complete lack of concern for public safety.
Grenier also blamed the city for its timing in introducing a new dispatch system to which many workers were strongly opposed.
Info to go: Read more about winter slip and fall hazards by clicking on the Info to Go safety links at www.SafeSupervisor.comRead More
Although it’s not yet winter, a researcher at the Toronto Rehabilitation Centre has been spending considerable time indoors in the centre’s Controlled Climate Performance Lab studying how winter footwear fares in preventing slips and falls.
Jennifer Hsu, a PhD candidate in biomechanical and mechanical engineering has been using the lab to determine how well winter footwear deals with a variety of winter walking surfaces.
Hsu has been looking at what can be done to help postal workers, who are particularly at risk for slipping and falling on slippery surfaces, walk more safely in winter. Her task is challenging, because postal workers walk across a variety of different surfaces, such as concrete, ceramic tiles, ice and snow.
Hsu is examining the most effect forms of protective footwear against winter slips and falls on inclines and transitions, along with how winter footwear can be improved to increase traction on all kinds of walking surfaces.
Fall-related injuries are estimated to cost the Canadian healthcare system $2.8 billion every year. In Ontario alone, 21,000 people visited a hospital emergency department after falling on ice or snow during winter 2004/2005.
Info to go: Read more about slips and falls by clicking on the Info to Go safety links at www.SafeSupervisor.comRead More
Editor’s note: Share this timely safety talk with your workers.
What’s At Stake
Working in excessively hot conditions can be difficult – and even fatal. Heat can create a number of safety problems and illnesses, including heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heat stroke. These illnesses caused by too much heat are called hyperthermia.
Heat can also cause you to become inattentive, short-tempered, dizzy and slow. All of these conditions can cause you to work in an unsafe manner.
What’s The Danger
Heat cramps affect muscles such as those in the arms, legs and abdomen – the muscles which have been used while working. Heat cramps are a signal that the body has lost too much salt through sweating.
Heat exhaustion may have these symptoms: A feeling of exhaustion, nausea, dizziness, pale and clammy skin, quick pulse and low blood pressure. Heat exhaustion is also a warning that the mechanism which controls heat for the body has become seriously overtaxed. Heat stroke may follow if heat exhaustion is not treated.
Heat stroke is a serious matter and it can be fatal. It occurs when the body’s heat control mechanism simply shuts down. Perspiration stops and the body temperature rises. The heart pounds and the skin becomes flushed and hot. This condition is a medical emergency and must be treated immediately.
Hot conditions can be caused by the weather or by the work situation itself, such as a laundry room or a foundry. When the atmosphere is humid, the effects of the heat are compounded.
How To Protect Yourself
It is important that you remain alert to the signs of heat illness in yourself and in your co-workers. If signs of heat illness develop, move the victim to a cool place and cool him off by fanning or soaking him with cool water. If he is conscious, give him water to drink. If you have any reason to suspect that the person may be suffering from heat stroke, call for medical help immediately.
James Knell, 45, had been a New York City Transit supervisor for nine of the 13 years he worked for the company. Experience was something he had plenty of. But experience couldn’t save him when a tragic incident occurred on the same tracks he had worked on for more than a decade.
A devoted step-father to 10-year-old twins, Jillian and Hunter, and a loving husband to his wife, Jackie, Knell offered to work the early morning shift for a co-worker.
After the power had been restored to the tracks, Knell noticed a bucket of spikes that had been left on the tracks. To avoid an accident with the trains or possible injuries to pedestrians below, Knell walked along the concrete walkway to retrieve the bucket.
The rain had soaked the walkway, causing Knell to slip and fall on the activated third rail of the track. He died instantly.
“There’s inherent danger to the job,” track worker Tim Rende said. “What he was doing that morning was something he had done a thousand times before without getting hurt.”
NYC Transit regulations prohibit workers from being near the electrified third rail in wet conditions. Knell had gone back down to the tracks after power to the third rail had been restored for a test train.Read More
Odds of winning the lottery: 1 in 135,145,920 (multi-state, mega-millions lottery)
Lifetime odds of dying from exposure to excessive natural heat: 1 in 6,174 (National Safety Council)
1. Are you drinking enough water? Checking the color of your urine is 1 easy way to tell. Clear urine means you are well hydrated. Dark or cloudy urine means you are dehydrated.
2: A working adult can sweat up to 2 quarts (1.9 liters) per hour in hot conditions. (Brigham Young University)
36: Summer heat illness is a concern in most areas of Canada, even in Yukon, where the temperature hit a record 36.1 C (97 F) in 1969.
8: While working in hot weather, you should drink at least eight ounces (250 ml) of water every 20 minutes.
47: In 2005 throughout the US, 47 people working outdoors died as a result of exposure to environmental heat (Bureau of Labor Statistics)
98: Normal body temperature is 98.6 degrees F (37 C).Read More
Syncrude Canada has been fined $376,500 after one of its oil sands workers was fatally crushed by 545 kilograms (1,200 pounds) of ice.
The victim, Tom Miller, had been using steam to melt what is called an ice castle on a pipe structure at the Mildred Lake processing facility in December 2008. Ice castles form on oil-processing structures when steam comes in contact with freezing air.
Appearing in court in Calgary, AB, Syncrude pleaded guilty to failing to provide adequate safety protocols for ice castle removal. A company spokeswoman said Syncrude had been in the process of developing safer ice-removal procedures when Miller was killed.
New procedures for ice removal require signing off on a written safety plan.
Under a creative sentencing plan used in Alberta, Syncrude was ordered to pay $365,000 to Keyano College toward a scholarship fund in Miller’s name, along with providing an improved curriculum for oilpatch workers toiling in winter conditions. The company was also ordered to pay another $11,500 in fines.Read More
Odds of winning the lottery: 1 in 135,145,920 (multi-state, mega-millions jackpot)
Odds of freezing to death: 1 in 469,000
4: Among 4 risk factors for hypothermia are advanced age, substance abuse, altered mental status and increased contact with substances that promote heat loss, such as water.
5: There are 5 warning signs for hypothermia, including lethargy, weakness/loss of coordination, confusion, uncontrollable shivering and reduced respiratory or heart rate.
25: Cold water carries heat away from the body 25 times faster than cold air of the same temperature. (Ohio Department of Natural Resources)
66: 66 percent of hypothermia deaths involve males (US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
95: Hypothermia involves a drop in the body’s core temperature to less than 95 F (35 C).
140: About 140 Canadians and 800 Americans die every year as a result of hypothermia (Statistics Canada and the National Centre for Health Statistics)Read More
Frequently there’s no calm after the storm if the storm happens to be a hurricane. Employers and employees involved in hurricane cleanup and recovery efforts face a myriad of hazards. These workers could benefit from a new web-based resource, Hurricane eMatrix; Hazard Exposure and Risk Assessment Matrix for Hurricane Response and Recovery Work, unveiled recently by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
“This is an important new tool to help educate employees and employers on how to address the most common and significant hazards that they may encounter during hurricane response and recovery work,” said OSHA Administrator Edwin G. Foulke Jr. “It provides practical information to employers so they can better assess risks and choose the appropriate control measures, work practices, personal protective equipment and training to protect their employees working in hurricane-impacted areas.”
According to OSHA, response and recovery work encompasses a wide range of specific tasks and operations that can present serious occupational safety and health hazards to employees. The Hurricane eMatrix incorporates occupational hazards information, observations, recommendations and data that OSHA gathered and distributed during its response effort to hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Wilma.
The eMatrix offers users access to general recommendations, sampling and monitoring data, and employer/employee responsibilities applicable for employers conducting response and recovery operations after a disaster. It also features 29 individual task-and-operation-specific activity sheets to help employers evaluate hazards, and provides guidance on reducing employee exposures during disaster operations such as debris collection, tree trimming, utility restoration, building demolition and others.Read More
Your workers’ hands are the tools of their trade. How well do they look after those tools? Without the right protection hands may get burned, frozen, cut or scraped. Workers could lose fingers, thumbs or even their lives.
That’s why safety gloves were invented. But not everyone is getting the message. The majority of all hand injuries reported annually are caused by failure to use proper hand protection.
To protect your hands, your gloves need to fit properly: Too tight, and you’ll fight to get your fingers to work; too loose, and you won’t be able to get a good grip. With loose gloves you will also risk trapping your fingers in a pinchpoint.
Different materials offer different types of protection. Of course, all gloves should be replaced once they become worn or damaged.
Here are some examples of gloves made from different materials:
Cotton: is cheap, reusable and absorbs sweat. It’s not long-lasting though, and offers little protection from severe hazards.
Leather: resists punctures, abrasions, sparks and impact, but has limited dexterity and cut resistance.
Rubber: natural rubber, nitrile and PVC gloves are best for chemical resistance, but they offer limited protection against burns and cuts.
Metal: metal-reinforced gloves and newer fibers such as Kevlar are lightweight and resist cuts well. Some fibers also resist heat.
Many tasks require specific hand protection. Welding and chemical hazards require long gloves, for example. But the material should be matched to the activity and hazards.
Following are some hand hazards and glove solutions:
Severe hazard – reinforced heavy rubber, staple-reinforced leather
Less severe – rubber, plastic, leather, nylon, cotton
Severe hazard – metal mesh, staple-reinforced leather, Kevlar or steel mesh
Less severe – leather, terry cloth
Severe cold: Rubber or fiber insulated gloves
Mild cold: Wool or cotton
Mild heat: Rubber, leather, heavy cotton
High heat: Leather, metal or fiber gloves
Chemicals and Fluids
No material keeps out all chemicals. Choices include natural rubber, neoprene, nitrile rubber and many others. Ask your glove vendor for a chemical resistivity chart. The best information may be the material safety data sheet (MSDS) accompanying each chemical.
Tips For Your Workers:
Most people wouldn’t think of firing up a portable gasoline-powered generator inside a home or garage. But not everyone is aware of the deadly risk of generator-related carbon monoxide poisoning which claimed 64 lives across the US in 2005 and 32 lives between October and December 2006.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission has ordered that all new portable generators sold in the US contain warning labels stating: “Using a generator indoors can kill you in minutes.”
The labels also warn that carbon monoxide is a poison that is odorless and invisible and that generators should only be used outside and away from windows, doors and vents.
People seem to be making bad choices about where to use these generators following hurricanes, ice storms and other events that cause electrical power outages. Workers have also died as a result of using these generators indoors at construction and other sites.
Supervisor Tip: Share this information with your workers.
Info to go: Read more about the hazards of carbon monoxide by clicking on the link at www.SafeSupervisor.comRead More