A group of immigrant tree planters from Africa claim they were forced to work in unsafe and inhumane conditions at a camp near Golden, BC.
The workers claim that they were denied adequate food, safe drinking water and access to bathrooms and were called lazy when they tried to take breaks during their 12-hour workdays. They also claim to have been subjected to racist comments and death threats, along with going weeks without being paid.
The tree planters say as many as 20 workers were crowded into 15-passenger vans for the 40-kilometer drive from Golden to their camp, thereby placing their safety at risk.
The men and women were working for Surrey-based forestry company Khaira Enterprises Ltd. under a government contract. The BC Ministry of Forests has shut the camp down and ordered the company to not bid on any government projects for one year.
Khaira’s owner, Khalid Bajwa, denied that workers had been mistreated and said they had been given adequate food and drinking water.
He told CBC News that the workers’ allegations were false, adding, “The work camp is different than the tourism camp. This is a work camp. We just go for work, not for a picnic.”
Tree planter Christine Barker said she and others felt more like prisoners or hostages than workers because they had no money or transportation and were at the mercy of their employer.
WorkSafeBC is investigating and the BC Federation of Labour has also called for an independent investigation.Read More
Few people would find any good news in the recession that gripped much of the world in 2008/09, but here’s some: Work-related deaths across the US fell by 17 percent in 2009—to their lowest level since the US Department of Labor started tracking those statistics in 1992.
In 2009 there were 4,340 workplace fatalities throughout the US, compared to 5,214 in 2008.
The US Department of Labor reports that part of the reason for the drop in employee deaths is that workers logged fewer hours during the recession. Many workers are still feeling the effects. For example, the current unemployment rate in construction is 17.3 percent and the overall US jobless rate is 9.5 percent.Read More
Female workers are more than twice as likely as their male counterparts to suffer ergonomics-related injuries on the job, particularly when not enough attention has been paid to the design of work, equipment, workstations and environment.
Ronald Porter, a physical therapist and ergonomics expert and director of the Back School of Atlanta, says some female-dominated professions, such as healthcare, require moving heavy loads and adopting awkward working positions.
Women are also more likely than men to be performing work that involves repetitive tasks, working at workstations and using tools that were designed for men.
Porter, who addressed the recent American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE) Professional Development Conference in Baltimore, noted that women represent 46 percent of the US workforce, but report 63 percent of musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) that result in lost work time.
Factors that put women at greater risk for MSDs include:
“Being overweight can contribute to back pain by increasing the wear and damage to joints, causing irritation, pain and reduced activity,” says Porter. “This lack of activity can cause further weight gain.”
Porter noted that other factors that put women at higher risk for MSDS include:
He says avoiding or limiting strenuous work, work requiring balance, lifting of more than 50 pounds, prolonged sitting or standing, temperature extremes and providing adjustable workstations can help women avoid work-related MSDs.
“Many work areas were designed by men for men. Forty-six percent of our workforce is female. The best place to apply ergonomics principles is during design, not after the issue becomes a problem,” says Porter. “It is must cheaper to build it correctly in the first place than to retrofit.”
PPE for women that will protect them from contract stress can also greatly reduce the chances of an ergonomic-related injury. Such PPE includes floor mats for workers who must stand a lot, shoe inserts and anti-vibration gloves.
Education in neutral postures, correct body mechanics and provision of “ergo breaks” can significantly reduce MSD risk factors for women.
“Instructing supervisors and perhaps even employees to recognize early warning signs of MSDs and how to apply correct first aid can be invaluable in the management process,” says Porter. “Developing appropriately modified or restricted duty jobs or tasks can speed recovery and decrease the likelihood of re-injury upon return to work.”Read More
An international study says that mining for gold, diamonds and precious minerals in sub-Saharan Africa could be driving a tuberculosis epidemic on that continent.
Researchers at Oxford and Brown universities, the University of California and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine estimate that the mining industry may be implicated in 760,000 annual new cases of tuberculosis—a contagious and potentially fatal disease that affects the lungs and other parts of the human body.
The researchers say that silica dust in mines, coupled with crowded working and living conditions and the spread of HIV/AIDS is driving the epidemic.
“Men traveling from afar to work in mines, such as from Botswana to South Africa, are at the greatest risk of getting tuberculosis,” states a news release from the University of Oxford in England. “But their wives, children and friends are also at high risk when miners travel back and forth to work, often many times a year.”
Even if TB is diagnosed in miners and treatment begins, the information frequently does not get back to doctors in the miners’ hometowns. This disruption of treatment poses a major threat of people developing a drug-resistant form of the disease, according to the study’s authors.
“Healthcare programs should emphasize continuity of care as miners travel across borders and miners should undergo routine screening in order to detect TB at an early stage,” states the news release. There’s also a need “to improve poor working conditions and reduce the miners’ exposure to silica dust.”
TB has been on the rise in sub-Saharan Africa during the past two decades, with a doubling of the year incidence from 173 per 100,000 people in 1990 to 351 per 100,000 people in 2007.
Info to go: Read more about tuberculosis by clicking on the Info to Go safety links at www.SafeSupervisor.comRead More
Odds of winning the lottery 1 in 135,145,920 (multi-state, mega-millions jackpot)
One-year odds of a person committing suicide: 1 in 9,249 (BookofOdds.com)
4: On average across the US and Canada, 4 times as many men as women commit suicide. (Suicide Information and Education Collection)
11: The US Suicide rate is 11.1 per 100,000 people. (World Health Organization)
13: The suicide rate among Canadians is 13 per 100,000 people. (Centre for Suicide Prevention)
28: Workplace suicides across the US jumped 28 percent in 2008, compared to 2007, with 251 cases reported. (Bureau of Labor Statistics)
45: Suicide rates among 45 to 64-year-olds hit the highest level in a decade in 2007. (US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
130: Among workplace suicides tracked by the US Department of Labor in 2008, there were 130 involving self-inflicted gunshot wounds.Read More
A back injury can be just the beginning of a lifetime of pain, inability to work or play, reduced income and unhappy dealings with medical agencies.
A serious back injury disrupts your life. Since our back is used in all tasks we perform – on and off-the job, the exact cause of the injury may be difficult to pinpoint, leading to discouraging disputes about compensation. Therapy may be ineffective and there may be differences of opinion about your ability to hold a job again.
There is an alternative to the back injury nightmare. You can follow safe work practices to prevent injuries, and you can practice back care at all times.
Back injuries fall into two general categories. The first is a traumatic injury caused by an isolated incident. A fall, a motor vehicle wreck or a misjudged dive into water are some common causes of back injuries. If the spinal cord is injured, the victim may lose the use of his legs or both arms and legs.
These are some practices to prevent traumatic back injuries:
The second category of back injury is cumulative. Years of back abuse and minor strains and sprains add up to a back injury which can be seriously disabling.
These are some ways to prevent cumulative back injuries:
Back care is a safety basic that must be part of every activity you do. Lift carefully, practice good posture and use caution at work and off the job to prevent back problems.Read More
Chronic stress on the job can have powerful negative effects on both mind and body, but a new University of Rochester Medical Center study has found that stress and weight gain are strongly linked.
Lead study author Diana Fernandez, who specializes on how and why diseases occur in different groups of people, says she and other researchers interviewed 2,782 employees of a large manufacturing plant in upstate New York.
She says a common theme soon developed: After spending the day sitting in stressful meetings or at their computers, workers looked forward to going home and “vegging out” in front of their TVs. And while doing so, they were gobbling unhealthy snacks high in fat and calories.
The researchers also found that at times when layoffs were occurring, the snacks highest in fat and calories were the most popular ones purchased from workplace vending machines.
Many of the workers interviewed for the study said they didn’t take the time to eat properly at lunch, or to go for a walk, because they feared they might get into trouble for being away from their desks for too long.
“In a poor economy, companies should take care of the people who survive layoffs and end up staying in stresses jobs. It is important to focus on strengthening wellness programs to provide good nutrition, ways to deal with job demands and more opportunities for physical activity that are built into the regular workday without penalty,” says Fernandez.
Intense work pressures and feelings of minimal control on the job are associated with heart disease and strokes, diabetes, depression, exhaustion, anxiety and weight gain.
The researchers found that 72 to 75 percent of the employees they interviewed were either over weight or obese. More than 65 percent of the study participants admitted to watching two or more hours of television daily.
Among workers who reported watching two to three hours of TV daily, 77 percent were more likely to be overweight or obese and those who watched four or more hours were 150 percent more likely to be obese than those watching two or fewer hours.
If you are stressed and noticed you have been putting on weight, stay away from the candy and chip vending machine and take a walk during your break.Read More
A study of 10,000 civil servants in the United Kingdom between 1991 and 2004 found that people working 10 hours a day are more likely to have heart problems than their counterparts who work shorter hours.
The study, reported in the European Heart Journal, followed each participant during an average 11-year period to see how often they worked more than seven hours per day and also looked at their overall state of health.
The results were not encouraging. People who had worked a significant number of 10-hour days were 60 percent more likely to have been diagnosed with heart problems than people who called it a workday after seven hours.
Within the group there were nearly 400 people who either died from heart-related problems, survived heart attacks or suffered angina (chest pain).
However, working up to nine hours per day did not seem to significantly increase the likelihood of heart problems. A team of researchers led by Dr. Marianna Virtanen, who works at both University College London and the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, controlled the study for the effects of smoking, high cholesterol, carrying excessive weight and other cardiac risk factors.
Virtanen says it’s possible that people working longer hours have riskier lifestyles and may have more aggressive, competitive and tense personalities. They also tend to be more likely to suffer depression, anxiety and sleep deprivation.
OSHA has introduced a new training component called “Introduction to OSHA” which emphasizes workers’ rights and supports the goal of strengthening the voice of workers.
The course is required content in every OSHA 10 and 30-hour Outreach Training Program class. Affecting hundreds of thousands of workers who complete Outreach Training Program classes each year, Introduction to OSHA advises workers of their rights regarding:
“For too long workers have avoided making claims of unsafe work conditions out of fear of losing their jobs,” said Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA David Michaels. “We are confident that this new training will embolden workers to speak up when they find work practices that endanger their lives and the lives of their co-workers.”
During the 10- and 30-hour outreach training program classes, OSHA trainers will cover topics on whistleblower rights and filing a complaint, and will provide samples of a weekly fatality and catastrophe report, material data safety sheet and the OSHA Log of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses. Trainers can obtain test and answer sheets from their authorizing training organization.
The OSHA Outreach Training Program is a voluntary program that seeks to teach workers about their rights and how to identify, reduce, avoid and prevent job-related hazards. The program includes 10- and 30-hour courses in construction, general or maritime industry safety and health hazard recognition and prevention taught through a network of OSHA-authorized trainers. During the past three years, nearly two million students have received training through this program.Read More
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) plans to conduct a national survey of long-haul truck drivers.
“Truck drivers are at increased risk for numerous preventable diseases and health conditions. Previous research suggests that truck drivers are at increased risk for lower back pain, heart disease, hypertension, stomach ulcers and cancer of the bladder, lung, prostate and stomach,” says NIOSH. “Truck drivers also face extraordinary risk of on-the-job mortality.”
In 2007, the fatality rate for driver/sales workers and truck drivers was 28.2 per 100,000 workers, compared with a rate of 3.8 per 100,000 for all workers. Drivers of heavy and tractor-trailer trucks had more fatal work injuries than any other single occupation, with 822 deaths in 2007.
“Truck drivers experience high rates of occupational injury and illness, but little is known about the prevalence of factors suspected to place them at increased risk,” says NIOSH. “Information is needed on the role of occupation in driver health and on mechanisms of driver injuries.”
NIOSH will host a truckers’ focus group, conduct stakeholder meetings, survey nearly 2,500 truckers in the northeast, south, Great Lakes, central and western US, hold a webinar and use an internet blog to gather information.
NIOSH says it hopes to:
Info to go: Read more about long haul trucking hazards by clicking on the Info to Go safety links at www.SafeSupervisor.comRead More