Canada Day is upon us and marks the unofficial opening weekend of summer. After braving a long cold winter Canadians look forward to the warmer weather and spending time outdoors. With the kids out of school, summer is also a popular vacation season. It is also a season that comes with its own hazards - extreme heat, insect bites, and lightning storms.
Whether working outdoors, or camping, picnicking, and enjoying the outdoors with the family, there are steps you can take to help stay safe this summer.
Summer Food Safety
With better weather comes outdoor cooking and eating, and an increased risk of food poisoning. Harmful bacteria on your food can grow quickly - in as little as two hours in warmer temperatures. Follow these four safety steps - clean, separate, cook, and chill - when handling and cooking food, to help keep you and your family safe from food poisoning during the summer.
CLEAN: Wash your hands and work surfaces often to avoid the spread of bacteria. Wash your hands with warm water and soap for 20 seconds before and after handling food. Wash cutting boards, dishes, utensils, and work surfaces with hot soapy water after preparing each food item, and before and after each use to prevent cross-contamination. Wash and replace kitchen cloths, sponges, and tea towels frequently. Rinse raw fruits and vegetables with cool, clean water before peeling, cooking, and eating.
SEPARATE: Keep your raw meat, poultry, and seafood and their juices separate from other foods to avoid spreading harmful bacteria. Store them in sealed plastic bags or containers and put them at the bottom of the cooler to keep juices from dripping onto other foods.
COOK: Kill harmful bacteria by properly cooking your food. To be safe to eat, raw meat, poultry, and seafood must be cooked to the following internal temperatures:
- 70 °C (158 °F) for fish
- 71 °C (160 °F) for ground meat
- 74 °C (165 °F) for shellfish, leftover food, and poultry parts
- 85 °C (185 °F) for whole poultry
Use a digital food thermometer to check the temperatures to ensure the food is properly cooked. Place cooked food on a clean plate, not one that was used for raw meat, poultry, or seafood.
CHILL: Keep your perishable foods cold. Store them in a cooler filled with ice or icepacks that is at or below 4°C (40°F). Keep coolers out of direct sunlight and avoid opening them too often. Use separate coolers for food and drinks to avoid cross contamination and keep the food colder longer. Put leftovers back in the cooler as soon as you are finished eating and don't keep food unrefrigerated for more than two hours.
There is no safe place outdoors during a thunderstorm. When you hear thunder, take shelter immediately, preferably in a house or an enclosed metal vehicle with a hard top roof (that is not parked under trees or tall objects 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). Do not get out if there are downed power lines touching your car or nearby.
Covered picnic shelters, carports, tents, and baseball dugouts with no electricity or plumbing to ground the lightning are not safe.
If you are caught outdoors far from a safe shelter, there are precautions you can take to reduce your risk of being struck by lightning.
Stay away from tall objects, such as trees, poles, fences, and objects that conduct electricity such as tractors, golf carts, golf clubs, metal fences, and lawn mowers. Avoid being the highest point - and a target for lightning - in an open area, swinging a golf club or holding an umbrella.
Take shelter in a low lying area such as a ditch or valley, or if you are in a forest, take cover under a thick growth of small trees or bushes. Watch for flash flooding that can come with heavy rainfall.
Stay away from water and if you are out on the water when it's thundering, get to land as quickly as possible and seek safe shelter.
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.
Stay Hydrated in Heat
Working outside or doing any strenuous activity in sun, heat, and humidity can cause you to sweat and lose fluids rapidly, and increase your risk for becoming dehydrated.
Drink plenty of fluids to replace the fluids you are losing, at least a cup every 15 or 20 minutes, whether you are thirsty or not. The fluid could be water, semi-skimmed milk or fruit juice, or, in moderation, sports drinks designed to replace body fluids and electrolytes. Avoid caffeine and sugary drinks, and NEVER drink alcohol (e.g. beer) to hydrate. On average, about one litre of water each hour may be required to replace the fluid loss.
Monitor your urine color; it should be clear to light yellow. If it is darker or concentrated, you may be dehydrated, and you must drink more fluids.
Fight the Bite and West Nile Virus
Along with the itch of those pesky mosquito bites comes the risk of infection with the West Nile virus. The key to reducing your risk of West Nile virus infection is to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes.
Mosquitoes are most active between the hours of 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 preventable injuries and illnesses derail your summer. From all of us at CCOHS, we wish you a happy Canada Day and a safe, enjoyable summer.
Summer Food Safety Tips, Healthy Canadians
- Be Food Safe website
Lightning Safety, Environment Canada
West Nile Virus fact sheet, CCOHS
- Working in Hot Environments: Health and Safety Guide, CCOHS
Nova Scotia's interactive teaching tool for identifying MSI hazards
Stiff backs, sore wrists, and shoulder pain; symptoms such as these, if left unchecked, over time, can develop into injury. Musculoskeletal injuries (MSI) or sprains and strains, make up 60 per cent of all time-loss injuries in Nova Scotia, and they are caused by hazards associated with the way work is designed and carried out.
These hazards could include workers doing work that doesn't fit, work tables that are too high or too low, tools that are not easily accessible, or work that involves a lot of heavy lifting or carrying.
The Workers' Compensation Board (WCB) of Nova Scotia has developed a free online interactive tool - Sprains and Strains: Spot it. Fix it. - that challenges you to identify the hazards in depicted work scenarios and to find ways to minimize the risk. The tool has you spot the hazard and then drag and drop solutions to the problems and improve the work design.
It is expected that once you learn to spot these hazards and the warning signs, you will have the knowledge you need to take action. Often a few simple changes can reduce the risk of injury. A proactive approach will prevent many injuries, and reduce the severity of injuries that do occur.
Try the tool for yourself: Sprains and Strains: Spot it. Fix it.
Sprains and strains: Preventing musculoskeletal injury through workplace design PDF, WCB of Nova Scotia
Health and Safety To Go
This month's Health and Safety To Go! podcasts discuss vibration hazards, and feature an encore presentation of tips to help protect workers against West Nile virus.
Feature Podcast: Vibration Hazards in the Workplace
While the human body is built to be mobile, it was not meant to vibrate. In small doses, vibration is harmless. Unfortunately, mechanization has introduced significant vibration hazards to the workplace. Although injuries and illness from vibration are preventable, the effects of regular and frequent exposure to vibration can be disabling and permanent. This podcast discusses causes and symptoms of hand-arm and whole body vibrations, and what employers and employees can do to address the risks.
The podcast runs 6:14 minutes. Listen to the podcast now.
Encore Podcast: Preventing the Infection of West Nile
CCOHS shares tips on how to keep workers protected against West Nile virus.
The podcast runs 2:52 minutes. Listen to the podcast now.
CCOHS produces free monthly podcasts on a wide variety of topics designed to keep you current with information, tips, and insights into the health, safety, and well-being of working Canadians. You can download the audio segment to your computer or MP3 player and listen to it at your own convenience... or on the go!
See the complete list of podcast topics. Better yet, subscribe to the series on iTunes and don't miss a single episode.
Write (M)SDSs that meet Canadian WHMIS and US OSHA requirements
Chemical manufacturers and suppliers provide material safety data sheets (MSDSs) to help employers and workers understand product hazards and how to work safely with them. The Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS) is being implemented into the U.S. OSHA Hazard Communication Standard, and work is underway for implementation into the Canadian Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS). Following GHS implementation, MSDSs will be referred to as safety data sheets (SDSs). To help meet the challenges of producing both OSHA GHS and current WHMIS compliant safety data sheets, CCOHS has released CANWrite GHS, an (M)SDS authoring software.
The 1994 OSHA Hazard Communication Standard was a "performance standard", meaning that OSHA permitted any MSDS format to be used as long as all of the information required appeared on the data sheet. Current Canadian laws require a 9-section MSDS, with specific information requirements. In addition, some manufacturers/suppliers use the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) standard as their guideline for the preparation of a 16-section MSDS.
This inconsistency in MSDS formats has made it difficult for users to find and understand the information they need to work safely. The GHS requires the use of a standardized 16-section SDS with minimum information requirements for each section. The SDS must provide the GHS hazard classification for the product, the GHS label text, and information on any other hazards. The GHS label text consists of standardized pictograms, signal words, hazard statements and, in the U.S., precautionary statements, all of which are based on the hazard classification. These changes are expected of have an immediate impact for employers and employees because they will make finding and understanding the information contained on an SDS easier. At the same time, there are new challenges for SDS authors.
CCOHS' new CANWrite GHS addresses many of the new safety data sheet writing challenges. This version of the (M)SDS authoring solution is based on OSHA HazCom 2012 and makes it easy to produce a 16-section (M)SDS that meets US Hazard Communication Standard 2012 and current Canadian WHMIS requirements. The software includes a detailed GHS OSHA classification worksheet. The GHS label phrases are generated based on the product classification, and a GHS Audit tool checks for OSHA-GHS required information on the SDS. CANWrite also includes a WHMIS classification worksheet and a WHMIS Audit tool which checks for WHMIS required information.
Using hazard logic-drivers, CANWrite GHS filters the hazard control statements to offer the most relevant phrases based on the product hazard classification. The software also includes links to reliable, credible chemical hazard and regulatory information, including CCOHS' CHEMINFO and RTECS®.
Learn more about CANWrite GHS.
Watch for the webinar series designed to help assign GHS hazard classifications and prepare GHS labels, coming this fall.
Other CCOHS GHS resources:
WHMIS After GHS: An Introduction, free e-course
WHMIS After GHS: How Suppliers Can Prepare, free e-course
Global GHS for Workers, e-course
GHS: HazCom 2012 for Workers, e-course
WHMIS after GHS Fact sheets, free
WHMIS After GHS: Preparing for Change, publication
MSDS -> SDS poster
GHS/WHMIS SDS: Mix with Caution poster
GHS Pictogram and Hazards poster
GHS Pictogram bookmark
CANLabel online tool: creates OSHA- and WHMIS-compliant supplier and workplace labels
Have you visited the CCOHS blog yet? Now there are even more ways to connect with CCOHS.
The Workplace Health and Safety Matters blog is written by CCOHS President and CEO Steve Horvath. Steve shares his perspectives on workplace health and safety, as well as his insights as to what we are building towards here at CCOHS.
If you haven't done so already, why not drop by and check out his latest posts? Feel free to leave a comment.
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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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