Health and Safety Report
Volume 6, Issue 5 - May 2008

In the News

Protecting Our Youngprint this article

Remember what it felt like to be under 25 years old? Today's young workers are no different. They may think nothing can ever happen to them, but don't you believe it. In Canada, each day more than 40 workers under the age of 19 are hurt on the job.

Statistics from the Association of Workers Compensation Boards of Canada say workers between the ages of 15 and 19 had 14,787 time loss injuries in Canada in 2006, and 10 work-related fatalities. In the 20 to 24 age group, 35,976 were injured and a further 41 of those young workers died.

If you hire students or young workers, keep in mind that anyone who lacks experience and trained judgment is at particular risk of getting injured. Young workers rely on you for good advice, information and supervision and ultimately, for their safety.


Ensuring the safety and health of young people in the workplace starts with having a good health and safety management system that protects everyone.

Young workers may feel pressured and nervous, especially at a first job. They may want to please you and to not disappoint their parents. Being so focused on that objective - doing a great job - can lead them to work unsafely. One of the best things you can do as an employer is make it clear that safety is the young worker's first priority, and that it's perfectly fine to ask questions.

Assign suitable work. Some tasks are better reserved for more experienced workers. Before you even hire, assess the job and what it entails. What hazards will the worker be exposed to? Will certain situations present new risks? Will the worker ever have to fetch something from a confined space, a hard-to-reach area or some other hazardous spot? Will the worker be welding or doing some other task that could injure the worker and others in the vicinity?

Avoid assigning tasks that require a high degree of skill, lengthy training or a great deal of responsibility. Do not expect a young person to work alone or perform critical or risky tasks, such as handling dangerous chemicals.

Make time for training. Before young people start work, they must receive effective health and safety orientation and training. This could include the company's health and safety policy, their personal responsibilities, hazards in their workplace, how to protect themselves starting day one, who to go to for advice and what to do if things seem unsafe.

Tell young workers not to perform any task until they have been trained to do it. Encourage the young worker to ask questions at any time, especially about safety. Demonstrate how to do each task the safe way, and do it more than once. Be accessible. Stick around, watch the worker do the task, and correct any mistakes. The young worker might feel pressured to get it right the first time, so you can help by being patient and repeating instructions and demonstrating procedures as often as necessary. Continue to monitor the worker.

Provide appropriate safety equipment and PPE. Provide hands-on training on the correct use of equipment. When you demonstrate how to do a task, remember to include safety features and control systems. The young worker should know to keep exit doors free from clutter, for example, and to make sure safety guards on machines stay on and equipment is turned off or disconnected after every shift where necessary.

Provide or ensure that the worker has all necessary personal protective equipment (PPE) such as safety shoes, hardhat or gloves, as the job requires. Make sure the young worker knows where to find it, how to use it, and how to care for it.

Supervise. Anyone supervising must have the knowledge, training or experience to organize work and its performance. Due to lack of understanding, a young worker may decide to make changes to the job in unexpected and possibly risky ways. Be sure that they are closely supervised, and stick to recognized and safe work procedures. Know the laws and regulations that apply to keeping workers safe on the job, and know what is hazardous - or could be - in the workplace.


If you are a young worker and are reading this, know that you also have responsibilities to stay safe on the job. If you're not getting the information you need, you can protect your own health and safety or even save your life by asking these questions:

  • What are the physical demands of the job?

  • Will I have to work very late at night or very early in the morning?

  • Will I ever work alone?

  • What kind of safety gear will I need to wear?

  • Will there be noise? Chemicals? Other hazards?

  • What safety training will I receive?

  • When will I receive this training?

  • Where are the first-aid supplies and fire extinguishers kept?

  • Do you have a worker safety policy and an emergency plan?

  • Can you give an example of how employee health and safety is important to your business?

Help make this a great summer and beyond. Make sure your young workers have a safe and positive work experience.

Visit the Young Workers Zone at CCOHS

RoSPA (Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents) Young Workers, UK

Hazard Alerts

Caught Unawareprint this article

If you saw a loop of rope on the ground at your feet, would alarm bells go off in your head? WorkSafeBC has issued an alert to warn the fishing industry of a hazard that recently resulted in the serious injury of a deckhand on a crab fishing vessel.

While wrapping a tie-up line around a piling, the deckhand put the other end through the fairlead to the bow cleat, creating a loop in the line at his feet. The deckhand did not recognize this loop - also called a bight - as a hazardous zone, and stepped inside it. When the boat reversed to secure the stern line, the bow line tightened around the deckhand's leg, pulled, and fully amputated his left foot. The deckhand, who was not wearing a flotation device, then lost his balance and fell overboard into water that was 13°C. He was rescued by other crewmembers and treated in hospital for life-threatening injuries.

This incident could have been prevented if all crew had been trained in how to safely tie up the vessel and to stay clear of line bights. Also, people on fishing vessels should always wear a PFD or lifejacket when working on deck. The deck must be equipped with suitable and well-maintained safety and rescue equipment, including immersion suits and equipment to rescue anyone who falls overboard.

Being prepared for the worst means routinely practising emergency drills so that crew members become very familiar with how to rescue someone who has fallen overboard, and how to perform first aid on someone who has been immersed in cold water.

In another BC incident, two carpet cleaners were caught unaware by a deadly hazard. Their truck-mounted cleaning unit was parked in the garage attached to the townhouse where they were working. The main garage door was closed, but the door from the garage into the townhouse was open to accommodate the hoses.

The carpet cleaners worked for several hours with the cleaning unit running in the garage. Had the workers recognized the danger of a gasoline engine running in a closed space, they might have realized that carbon monoxide (CO) from the engine could build up. As it turned out, because the workers could not see or smell the gas, they weren't aware of how much CO could accumulate. The poisonous gas entered the open door into the town house, and killed both carpet cleaners without warning.

A person can become exposed to a harmful amount of CO without suspecting a thing, but there are tell-tale signs of exposure including headache, watery or itchy eyes, rosy cheeks, nausea, weakness, and dizziness. Anyone with these symptoms should move to an open area to get fresh air right away and seek medical help.

No one, not even a rescuer, should enter an area suspected to have high levels of CO. Rescuers have been known to lose consciousness from CO exposure before they even had time to help the victim.

No engine fuelled by gasoline, diesel or propane should ever be left running inside a building or enclosed area. Vehicles with truck-mounted cleaning units should be parked outdoors.

For further reading, click on the links to the original WorkSafe BC Hazard Alerts:

Young worker's foot amputated when leg caught in line

Carpet cleaners die of carbon monoxide poisoning

OSH Answers

Safety for Green Thumbsprint this article

Spring has sprung and that means landscapers and groundskeepers are busy digging, tilling and planting. For every fragrant petunia or roll of sod a landscaper works with, there's a workplace hazard.

Landscapers must be properly trained and understand all job hazards before they start. They need to understand how to safely handle tools and equipment, how not to overdo it in the heat, and any other information that can save lives and limbs.

Know the common hazards

Knowledgeable landscapers know what hazards to control or eliminate. They identify and destroy poison ivy and other harmful plants. They use insect repellents and wear protective clothing as needed. When cleaning up animal or bird droppings or other waste, they wear personal protection because some biological substances are a health hazard. These are just some of the safety rules for landscape work.

Not every landscaper knows these things, and many are still learning. Regardless if you are new or experienced, be sure to observe these safe work practices:

Tool tips

Landscape work can involve a truckload of tools. Know which tool is appropriate for what task. Keep tools in good repair, and don't let them get dull or damaged.

Where you use tools is just as important as how. Especially with a sharp tool or a power tool, it's safer to work in a well-lit, non-cluttered area and on a stable surface. Keep good balance and footing. If there are people nearby, direct saw blades or knives safely away from them.

Make sure your body is in a safe and comfortable position. Avoid bending, reaching, twisting, or heavy lifting.

Before operating a power tool, read the operating manual and make sure the tool meets CSA or other relevant standards. Be sure you know how to operate it safely. Ask for instruction if you are unsure or feel uncomfortable.

Fuel tips

If equipment needs fuel, it also needs careful attention. Fill the fuel tank before starting a job. Only fill it when the engine is off and cooled down. Don't smoke when refuelling!

Further reading

The Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS) has detailed, free information on its OSH Answers website. To read more about these and other landscaping safety practices, visit:

General landscape safety

Learn about the Groundskeepers Safety Guide from CCOHS

Tool safety: Powered Hand Tools - Basic Safety for Electric Tools

More information from OSHA: Teen Workers - Landscaping: Plant Your Feet on Safe Ground

Partner News

E-Course Helps Healthcare Providers Recognize and Prevent Occupational Cancerprint this article

At work and at home, people are exposed to more hazardous substances than they might be aware of. When exposure to a hazard leads to a diagnosis of cancer, it can be difficult to determine what caused the illness. Nobody knows exactly the degree to which the workplace is responsible, but in Canada we do know that more than one out of every three people will develop cancer in their lifetime, and that one in four will die.

Whether the cancer is caused by exposure to a carcinogen at work (occupational cancer) or by exposure in the environment (environmental cancer) - the carcinogens are the same. Radon, which is traditionally considered an "occupational" carcinogen that has caused lung cancer in uranium miners, can leak into the basements of some homes and cause lung cancer in people living in the house. On the other hand, tobacco smoke - traditionally thought of as an "environmental" carcinogen - is now known to have caused lung cancer in people who have worked in smoky bars and restaurants.

To help healthcare professionals better understand occupational or environmental carcinogens and their role in disease, the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS) has launched a new e-course: Occupational and Environmental Cancer: Recognition and Prevention. The course is a collaborative project of CCOHS, with members of the National Committee on Environment and Occupational Exposures (NCEOE), and with funding by the Canadian Partnership Against Cancer (CPAC) through the Primary Prevention Action Group (PP-AG). The course is offered free of charge and can be viewed on the CCOHS website.

The e-course is intended for doctors, medical specialists, nurses, nurse practitioners and other healthcare providers or anyone with an interest in recognizing and preventing occupational and environmental cancer.

In about 90 minutes the e-course teaches participants which agents cause cancer and what can be done to recognize occupational or environmental cancer in a person with past exposures. More importantly, advice is provided on how to prevent cancer in those with current or ongoing exposures. The course contains authoritative lists of these cancer-causing substances, searchable by chemical, by occupation or by where the cancer is located on the patient's body. Healthcare providers will learn how to conduct and interpret an exposure history and follow up on their conclusions. The course also includes case studies about people who were exposed to radon or asbestos, and provides advice on how to address the issue of "cancer clusters".

Occupational and Environmental Cancer: Recognition and Prevention meets the same strict standards as all CCOHS courses. Representatives from labour, business and government have ensured the content and approach are unbiased, credible and technically accurate.

To view this free e-course, please visit the CCOHS website at

Meanwhile, for additional information on occupational cancer, see OSH Answers from CCOHS:


Pocketful of Office Safety print this article

Offices may be free of heavy equipment and other obvious perils, but office workers still account for a significant portion of workers' compensation claims in Canada. Even sitting at a computer can present hazards including musculoskeletal disorders, eyestrain, and exposure to unhealthy indoor air.

A new pocket guide from the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety is written specifically for anyone who works in an office. The Office Health & Safety Guide shows workers, HR professionals and health and safety representatives how to identify hazards in an office and keep workers safe.

This illustrated, spiral-bound booklet covers the basic rules of workplace health and safety, including tips for new employees and supervisors. It contains detailed information on how to design and implement a health and safety policy and program. The reader will learn all about workplace inspections, task analysis, safety procedures, accident investigations, emergency preparedness and much more.

There's a chapter for each main category of office hazard. In particular, the booklet is a good primer on office ergonomics and the importance of a well-designed job and workstation. It also explains chemical hazards, indoor air quality, and the dangers of mould, slips, trips, falls and other common hazards that can affect office workers. The reader will also learn about his or her rights and responsibilities under occupational health and safety legislation.

The Office Health & Safety Guide is 142 pages of clear-language text, charts, diagrams and checklists. It meets the same rigorous standards as all materials in the extensive CCOHS collection. Each publication undergoes several stages of review from government, employers and labour representatives. The end product is always technically accurate, reader-friendly and directly relevant to its target audience.

More information about the guide, or to order.

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