Tips to stay healthy and safe outdoors this summer
Whether you work or play outside, it is also a time to take precautions to protect yourself from the heat, poor air quality and other hazards of the season. Follow these safety tips to keep you and your family safe as you take it outdoors this summer.
Avoid the Bite and West Nile Virus
Along with heat and humidity come those pesky mosquito bites. And they may give you more than an itch; they can infect you with the West Nile virus. Most people infected with West Nile virus have no symptoms or have flu-like symptoms (e.g. fever, headache, body aches). However, sometimes the virus can cause severe illness and even death.
To reduce your risk of developing West Nile virus infection, avoid outdoor activities between dusk and dawn. If you are outside during these times, cover up by wearing socks, shoes, and light coloured (less attractive to mosquitoes) long pants and long-sleeved shirts. Spray clothing with insect repellent containing DEET to prevent mosquitoes from biting through thin clothing. Before you use insect repellents read the label carefully and follow the directions.
Try to eliminate mosquito breeding grounds where you live, work and play by preventing or removing stagnant water. Turn over wading pools and wheelbarrows after use, and drain standing water twice a week from pool covers, flower pot saucers, garbage cans, and other containers. Change bird bath water twice a week, cover or screen groundwater barrels, and chlorinate the water in swimming pools or ornamental ponds.
Don't Let Lightning Strike Even Once
Environment Canada says lightning kills six to twelve people every year and seriously injures another sixty to seventy. The prime thunderstorm times in Canada are April to October in the late afternoon and just before sunrise.
The safest place to be in a thunderstorm is inside a fully enclosed building that has electrical wiring, plumbing, telephone line, or antennas to ground the lightning, if the building should be hit directly. Stay away from doors, windows, fireplaces, and anything that will conduct electricity such as radiators, stoves, sinks, and metal pipes. Use only battery operated telephones and appliances during the storm.
The next best place to wait out a storm is in an enclosed metal vehicle that is not parked near trees or anything tall that could fall over. Roll up the windows and be careful not to touch any part of the metal frame or any wired device in the vehicle (including the steering wheel or plugged-in cell phone).
Covered picnic shelters, carports, tents, and baseball dugouts with no electricity or plumbing to ground the lightning are not safe.
There is no safe place to be outdoors during a storm; however, there are some steps you can take to help reduce the risk of being struck by lightning.
- Stay away from tall objects (trees, flagpoles or posts), water, and anything that conducts electricity (tractors, metal fences, golf clubs).
- Take shelter in low-lying areas such as valleys or ditches but watch for flooding.
- If you are in a group in the open, spread out several metres apart from one another.
- If you feel your hair stand on end, lightning may be about to hit you. Crouch down on the balls of your feet immediately with feet together, place your arms around your knees, and bend forward. Be the smallest target possible, and minimize your contact with the ground. Don't lie flat.
Remember the 30-30 rule: when you can count 30 seconds or less between lightning and thunder, head for safe shelter and remain there for 30 minutes after the last thunder.
Keep Your Cool
Whether you are having fun in the sunny outdoors or working outside on a farm or at a construction site, you have to take precautions to prevent your body from overheating.
Stay hydrated. Whether or not you feel thirsty, it is extremely important to drink plenty of water, generally one cup of water every 15 to 20 minutes, to replace the fluids you lose in the heat. Avoid caffeine or alcohol, which can dehydrate you. Take special care to make sure infants and toddlers drink enough water.
Keep cool. Stay out of the sun as much as possible. If your job includes some physically demanding tasks, try to save those for the early morning or late afternoon hours when the sun is less intense. Take breaks from the sun and heat to cool off in the shade or in air-conditioned buildings or vehicles. If you don't have a shady or cool place, reduce your physical effort.
Wear lightweight, loose-fitting clothing, UV rated sunglasses, and a wide-brim hat for protection. Apply sunscreen with a Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of 30 or higher as well as UVA and UVB protection.
The summertime heat and humidity can increase air pollution. Polluted air can make it harder for people with bronchitis, emphysema and asthma to breathe, or cause heart problems in others. People participating in outdoor sports or strenuous work may also have difficulty breathing when air pollution levels are high as they inhale more polluted air as they breathe more rapidly.
To protect yourself and your family, check the Air Quality Health Index on a regular basis. When the air quality is poor, reduce or reschedule outdoor physical activities. Monitor possible symptoms such as breathing difficulties, coughing, or irritated eyes. Follow a doctor's advice to manage any existing conditions you may have such as heart or lung disease.
Enjoy a safe summer and a happy Canada Day.
West Nile Virus fact sheet, CCOHS
Information on heat illness from CCOHS
Check the Air Quality Health Index at Environment Canada
Tips & Tools
Effective workplace inspections
Hazards can exist under desks, on the plant floor, in the air and pretty much any place people work. Inspecting the workplace regularly for hazards is an essential part of a health and safety program. Inspections help to prevent injuries and illnesses by identifying and eliminating existing and potential hazards.
There's more to a workplace inspection than just looking around. It involves listening to people's concerns, fully understanding jobs and tasks, determining the underlying causes of hazards, monitoring controls, and recommending corrective action. Regular, thorough, workplace inspections by a trained inspection team can help keep workers healthy and safe.
What the inspection should examine
An inspection must examine who, what, where, when and how, and include a careful look at all workplace elements - the environment, the equipment and the process. Particular attention should be given to equipment and items most likely to develop unsafe or unhealthy conditions because of stress, wear, impact, vibration, heat, corrosion, chemical reaction or misuse.
Workplace inspectors should look for biological (e.g. viruses and mould); chemical (e.g., cleaners, adhesives, paints); ergonomic (e.g., repetitive and forceful movements, and computer workstations); safety (e.g. inadequate machine guards); and physical hazards (e.g. noise, heat, and cold).
Information needed for the inspection report
The information needed to complete the inspection report is very detailed. Inspectors will need a diagram of the work area, a complete inventory of equipment and chemicals used, as well as checklists to help clarify inspection responsibilities and provide a record of inspection activities.
Conducting the inspection
Every workplace should have a schedule detailing when inspections will take place and in which areas, who conducts the inspections, and how detailed the inspections will be. The frequency of planned formal inspections may be set in your legislation. High hazard or high risk areas should receive extra attention.
While conducting inspections inspectors must wear personal protective equipment (PPE) where required, and should follow these basic principles:
- DRAW attention to the presence of any immediate danger - other items can await the final report.
- SHUT DOWN AND "LOCK OUT" any hazardous items that cannot be brought to a safe operating standard until repaired.
- LOOK up, down, around and inside. Be methodical and thorough. Do not spoil the inspection with a "once-over-lightly" approach.
- DESCRIBE clearly each hazard and its exact location in your rough notes. Allow "on-the-spot" recording of all findings before they are forgotten.
- ASK questions, but do not unnecessarily disrupt work activities.
- CONSIDER the static (stop position) and dynamic (in motion) conditions of the item you are inspecting. If a machine is shut down, consider postponing the inspection until it is functioning again.
- DISCUSS as a group, "Can any problem, hazard or accident generate from this situation when looking at the equipment, the process or the environment?" Determine what corrections or controls are appropriate.
- PHOTOGRAPH a particular situation if you are unable to clearly describe or sketch it.
- DO NOT OPERATE equipment. Ask the operator for a demonstration. If the operator of any piece of equipment does not know what dangers may be present, this is cause for concern. Never ignore any item because you do not have the knowledge to make an accurate judgement of safety.
- DO NOT TRY to detect all hazards simply by relying on your senses or by looking at them during the inspection. You may have to monitor equipment to measure the levels of exposure to chemicals, noise, radiation or biological agents.
What's in the final inspection report
To start, all unfinished items from the previous report should be carried over to the new report for follow up. The new report should specify the exact location of each hazard, a detailed description of the problem, the recommended corrective action, and a definite date for correction. A priority level (e.g. major, serious, minor) should be assigned to each hazard to indicate the urgency of the corrective action required.
Follow-up and monitoring
Once an inspection is completed, it's not over. The health and safety committee should review the reports to recommend corrective action where needed and then review the progress of the recommendations. This will help in identifying trends to maintain an effective health and safety program.
Learn more about effective workplace inspections from OSH Answers.
More about workplace inspections including sample inspection checklists can be found in the CCOHS Health and Safety Committees Reference Guide.
Take the webinar Learning by Committee: Workplace Inspections.
Past estimates suggested that about 4% of cancer deaths in the United States (U.S.) are caused by occupational exposures. Current thinking is that this number underestimates the true burden of occupational cancer. Many of the studies that reported on the health effects of carcinogens were conducted in manufacturing, the sector which - with more than 16 million workers - has one of the largest workforces in the U.S. Based on the results of these studies, workplace exposures to carcinogens have been monitored and reduced worldwide, in some cases through the development of protective standards.
Now, the U.S. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) through the National Occupational Research Agenda (NORA) wants to focus cancer prevention efforts on the manufacturing sector, which includes industries such as Beverage and Tobacco, Food, Wood Products, Primary Metals, Fabricated Metal Products, Transportation Equipment, Furniture, and Chemical Manufacturers.
NORA is a partnership program designed to stimulate innovative research and improved workplace practices. NORA encourages partners to collaborate to identify the most critical issues in workplace safety and health and then work together to develop goals and objectives for addressing these needs.
NORA recently released a publication, Work-Related Cancer (NIOSH Publication No. 2010-145: May 2010) which outlines the strategic goal to reduce the incidence and prevalence of cancer due to exposures in the manufacturing sector. The publication suggests ways in which you can help in this effort by applying research findings, educating employees and employers about existing workplace hazards linked to cancer, and developing and adopting interventions shown to be effective in preventing work-related cancer.
Download Work-Related Cancer (NIOSH Publication No. 2010-145: May 2010), PDF
Learn more by taking the free e-course from CCOHS, Occupational and Environmental Cancer: Recognition and Prevention
Shoving; yelling; intimidating; throwing things. Each and all of these are signs of violence. And while the physical assault aspect may immediately come to mind, workplace violence is a much broader problem. It includes any act in which a person is abused, threatened, intimidated or assaulted in his or her employment. And it doesn't have to happen at work. Work-related violence can occur at off-site business functions, at work social events, in clients' homes or away from work but resulting from work, such as a threatening telephone call to your home from a client.
There is no room for violence in the workplace. The message is clear, if you see it - report it. Now you can get the message across loud and clear with new posters from the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS). The posters depict the long list of unacceptable behaviours that are considered to be violent or bullying acts and can help you recognize the signs of workplace violence.
Violence and bullying can create stress, anxiety, and low morale in employees and, ultimately affect the health of the individual and the organization. The first step in prevention is recognition.
Learn more about the posters or download the free PDF:
More information on violence and bullying from CCOHS.
Listen now to the free podcast: Violence and Harassment in the Workplace
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The Health and Safety Report, a free monthly newsletter produced by the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS), provides information, advice, and resources that help support a safe and healthy work environment and the total well being of workers.
© 2016, Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety
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