Health and Safety Report
August 2009 - Volume 7, Issue 8

In the News

Pick Up Tips on How to Lift Safelyprint this article

If your work involves lifting, you are likely at some risk for injury, especially to your lower back. Whenever possible, try to eliminate the risk by re-thinking the work - reduce awkward postures and forceful movements. Reduce the weight, lifting time, distance the item is carried, and the repetitive nature. While it may not be realistic to completely eliminate all of the risks associated with lifting, the number and the severity of injuries may be greatly reduced by implementing these safe work practices.

Prepare and plan for the lift

  • Wear lightweight, tear-resistant clothing, safety boots with toe caps and slip-resistant soles, and protective gloves.

  • Warm your muscles up with gentle stretches before you lift, especially if it is cold or if you have been sitting for a period of time.

  • Test the load for weight and shifting contents by pulling or sliding it toward you. This will give you a good idea of how much it weighs and if you can lift it without over-exertion.

  • Know the contents of a package so you can determine the proper lifting and lowering techniques to use.

  • Get help with heavy or awkward loads. If available, use equipment such as hoists, lift trucks or carts to help with the lift.

  • Know where you are going. Check that the path where you will travel is clear of obstacles and debris.

  • Plan where to set the load down. Place loads on a raised platform to avoid bending.

Lifting technique tips

  • Stand close to the load and face the way you need to move. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart to give you the best balance.

  • Get a good grip on the load using your full hands (not just fingers), and grasp opposite corners to avoid dropping the object.

  • Slide the object toward your stomach (around the navel), and tighten your abdominal muscles in preparation for the lift.

  • Tuck your chin into your chest.

  • Lift smoothly, keeping your back straight, and hold the load as close to your body as possible.

  • Whenever possible, avoid bending. If bending is necessary, keep the natural curve of your back and bend your knees to reach or place low-level objects.

  • To move and change direction, move your feet and turn your whole body. Step or pivot, but don't twist or side bend.

  • Keep the load between shoulder and knee height. Avoid over reaching.

General tips

  • Take time to stretch, relax and rest your tired muscles to recover your strength between lifts.

  • Rest more often when it is hot and humid.

  • Repeated and long lifts are the most tiring so be sure to switch between heavy loads and lighter ones.

  • Employers should regularly review and train employees on safe lifting methods.

More information

More tips on manual materials handling, CCOHS OSH Answers

Tips for safe lifting - MFL Occupational Health Centre, Inc.

Keys to Lifting and Lowering - THSAO

Tips to prevent back injury, CCOHS OSH Answers

Hazard Alerts

Prevention Update: Potato Harvestingprint this article

The ideal conditions and temperatures for potato harvesting in Canada begin in mid September and continue until the middle of October. With only weeks to get the crop in, farmers often have to hire additional people to work in the fields and the storage buildings. There are many risks involved in potato harvesting including working with large machinery, motorized vehicles, long hours, all kinds of weather conditions.

These seasonal workers may not have previous farm experience, which makes it all the more important for all workers to be given a safety orientation with a complete review of safety procedures and practices to prevent injuries.

The prevention update prepared by the Workers' Compensation Board of Prince Edward Island (PEI) offers the following guidelines to help keep workers safe.


To reduce the risk of injury, don't allow visitors, including family and friends of workers, in the fields. Also, no child under the age of 14 should be allowed in the fields or in the trucks. Make sure workers are properly trained and follow safe work procedures for the equipment they are working on.

Review the following safety tips to help ensure that all workers have received an adequate orientation:


  • Only designated operators are responsible for the operation of specific equipment.

  • Once the machinery is stopped, it shouldn't be moved until the operator ensures that the path is clear. Trucks should not begin backing up until a designated person is in place to assist and direct the driver.

  • Operators and/or owners must ensure that all machinery is equipped with the proper guarding; all trucks and harvesters should be equipped with back-up alarms.

  • Before any cleaning, maintenance or repair is done, operators should park the harvester in a safe area and turn all power sources off.

  • Operators must ensure that workers are aware of the pinch point hazards.


  • No one should walk between the harvester and a loading truck while the vehicles are moving.

  • Workers should be aware of, and keep away from, all pinch points and moving parts of conveyors.

  • Workers should wait until the equipment comes to a complete stop before getting on or off the machinery.

  • Workers at the storage warehouse should stay beyond the loading end of the bin piler.

  • No worker, other than the driver, should be on the machinery while it is traveling on public roads.

  • All workers must wear Personal Protective Equipment, such as CSA approved safety footwear, safety glasses and hearing protection depending on the job being performed.

Read the full update from the Workers' Compensation Board of Prince Edward Island.

Partner News

European Campaign Targets Mental Health in the Workplace print this article

The World Health Organization (WHO) describes mental health as a state of well-being in which every individual realizes his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to her or his community.

In a European campaign "work. in tune with life. move europe", the European Network for Workplace Health Promotion (ENWHP) has focused on helping promote mental health in workplaces.

The main objective of the campaign is to increase awareness among organizations and the general public about the need for, and the benefits of, mental health promotion at the workplace. Additionally, useful and practical measures and models on promoting and preserving mental health will be shared amongst the organizations participating in the campaign. Based on the available literature and examples of good practices collected, materials will be produced to help employers and employees implement measures to promote good mental health at work.

The official launch of the campaign is set to take place October 2009 at the joint ENWHP / ProMenPol Conference in Berlin.

The ENWHP has carried out a number of important European initiatives over the past decade which have established workplace health promotion (WHP) as a focus for public health. The "Promoting Good Practice for Mental Health at the Workplace" campaign is their eighth initiative to date.

Learn more about "Promoting Good Practice for Mental Health at the Workplace" campaign.


Pandemic Influenza - Plan and Prepareprint this article

With the World Health Organization (WHO) reporting that the number of human cases of pandemic (H1N1) 2009 continues to increase, and the flu season in Canada approaching (usually runs from November to April), planning for the impact of an influenza pandemic is essential. Now is the time for Canadians to take steps to be ready for an influenza pandemic. Organizations should put contingency plans in place to ensure core business activities can be maintained over several weeks if a high number of employees become ill and have to stay home.

The Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS) has a variety of tools to inform you and help you prepare for an influenza pandemic, and help minimize the impact.

Be informed

Take the free, twenty-minute Pandemic Awareness e-course and learn what a pandemic is and how it may affect our workplaces and communities. Find out ways to help stay healthy and reduce the spread of the virus.

Learn the steps that workplaces can take to plan for employee absences and business continuity during a pandemic to minimize its impact, in the hour-long Pandemic Planning e-course.

Listen to the free ten-minute long podcast, Planning for Influenza, as CCOHS President and CEO Len Hong discusses how organizations can plan and prepare for a possible flu outbreak by having a business continuity plan.

Be resourceful

The CCOHS Pandemic Planning website provides tools and resources to help you, your workplace and community to prepare for a flu pandemic and help you and your family stay as healthy as possible.

The toolkit can help get your business ready:

Get the answers to your pandemic planning questions from the fact sheets in OSH Answers.

Spread the word and prevent the spread

Get your prevention messages out to your employees with CCOHS posters. Get the Upper Hand on Germs shows the correct way to hand wash. Prevent the Spread illustrates healthy hygiene habits that help prevent the spread of viruses in the workplace. These posters can be downloaded for free or ordered as full poster sized, colour prints (English on one side, French on the other).

Be ready

Start planning now so you can be ready when a flu pandemic strikes. Let CCOHS help you prepare to meet the challenges of a flu pandemic.

Helpful Links:

Pandemic Planning website:

Pandemic Awareness e-course:

Planning for Influenza podcast

Pandemic planning OSH Answers:

Listing of Canadian and International Pandemic Plans, Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC)


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