Health and Safety ReportVolume 12, Issue 1

In the News

Report Puts Gender on Workplace Health and Safety Agendaprint this article

Although women make up more than half of the working population in the European Union (EU), the jobs they do, their working conditions, and how they are treated by society are different than those of men.

Research by the European Union Occupational Health and Safety Agency (EU-OSHA) shows that women and men are concentrated in certain jobs, and therefore face hazards particular to those jobs; that they are physically different, including with respect to reproduction; and they have different responsibilities in the home (working women may hold a job as well as work in the home).

Research has shown that inequality both within and outside the workplace can affect the health and safety of women at work. It is therefore important to recognise these differences and take a 'gender sensitive' approach to health and safety at work.

A report from the European Union Occupational Health and Safety Agency (EU-OSHA), released in December 2013, looks at gender issues at work. It provides an overview of the trends in employment and working conditions, hazard exposure and work-related accidents and health problems for women at work. The report explores selected issues (combined exposures, occupational cancer, access to rehabilitation, women and informal work, and "emerging" female professions such as home care and domestic work). The research highlights the type of work carried out by women, issues faced by younger and older women, the growth of the service sector, violence and harassment, and increasingly diversified working time patterns as major risk factors. These factors can affect the hazards they face at work and the approach that needs to be taken to assess and control them.

This report contains an update to EU-OSHA's previous research (2003) on gender issues at work and provides figures on the effects of the recent economic downturn on women at work. Gender inequalities in the workplace and work-life balance issues have become increasingly important as the employment rates of women have continued to grow across the EU. "Much remains to be done, especially for older and younger women, to ensure decent work for all. This focus on workplace health and safety benefits not only women but also men who work, and can lead to improved workplaces", states the report.

Read the report: New risks and trends in the safety and health of women at work.

More information from EU-OSHA

Gender issues in safety and health at work - A review

Including gender issues in risk assessment, fact sheet

OSH Answers

Cold Effectsprint this article

It's been a bitterly cold winter with most parts of Canada plunged into record setting freezing temperatures. This is bad news for outdoor workers for whom working in the cold can not only be hazardous to their health, but also life threatening.

Hypothermia and frostbite are the two most common cold injuries. Learn more about the health effects of cold stress and get some first aid tips that could help prevent permanent injury.


Frostbite is the second most common cold injury. Noses, ears, cheeks, fingers and toes are most often affected. The freezing constricts blood vessels, which impair blood flow and may cause permanent tissue damage. If only the skin and underlying tissues are damaged, recovery may be complete. However, if blood vessels are affected, the damage is permanent and could result in the amputation of the affected part.

First aid for frostbite

  • Seek medical attention.

  • If possible, move the victim to a warm area.

  • Gently loosen or remove constricting clothing or jewellery that may restrict circulation.

  • Loosely cover the affected area with a sterile dressing. Place some gauze between fingers and toes to absorb moisture and prevent them from sticking together.

  • Quickly transport the victim to an emergency care facility.

  • DO NOT attempt to rewarm the affected area on site (but do try to stop the area from becoming any colder) - without the proper facilities tissue that has been warmed may refreeze and cause more damage.

  • DO NOT rub area or apply dry heat.

  • DO NOT allow the victim to drink alcohol or smoke.


Hypothermia (low body temperature) is the most common cold injury. Prolonged exposure to the cold causes the body to lose energy faster than it is produced, dropping body temperature. The sensation of cold followed by pain in exposed parts of the body is one of the first signs of mild hypothermia. As the temperature continues to drop, or as the exposure time increases, the feeling of cold and pain starts to diminish because of increasing numbness (loss of sensation). If no pain can be felt, serious injury can occur without the victim's noticing it. Next, muscular weakness and drowsiness are experienced. Additional symptoms of hypothermia include interruption of shivering, diminished consciousness and dilated pupils. When body temperature reaches 27°C, coma (profound unconsciousness) sets in. Heart activity stops around 20°C and the brain stops functioning around 17°C.

First aid for hypothermia

Hypothermia is a medical emergency. If any symptoms of hypothermia are present, immediately call for emergency assistance (911). The survival of the victim depends on their co-worker's ability to recognize the symptoms of hypothermia. The victim is generally not able to notice his or her own condition.

  • Ensure that wet clothing is removed.

  • Place the victim between blankets (or towels, newspaper, etc.) so the body temperature can rise gradually. Body-to-body contact can help warm the victim's temperature slowly. Be sure to cover the person's head.

  • Give warm, sweet (caffeine-free, nonalcoholic) drinks unless the victim is rapidly losing consciousness, unconscious, or convulsing.

  • Quickly transport the victim to an emergency medical facility.

  • Do not attempt to rewarm the victim on a specific site of the body (e.g., do not use hot water bottles or electric blankets).

  • Perform CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) if the victim stops breathing. Continue to provide CPR until medical aid is available. The body slows when it is very cold and in some cases, hypothermia victims that have appeared "dead" have been successfully resuscitated.

More information from CCOHS

Working in cold environments (Threshold Limit Values) fact sheet

General effects of working in the cold fact sheet

Working in the Cold podcast

Cold Weather Workers Safety Guide

Partner News

Free Online Course Tackles Workplace Violence Prevention in Healthcareprint this article

Over the past ten years, healthcare workers in the United States have, on average, accounted for two-thirds of the nonfatal workplace violence injuries involving work days missed from across all industries, according to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). As part of the effort to address this issue, NIOSH worked with healthcare stakeholders to develop a free online course to train nurses on recognizing and preventing workplace violence.

Healthcare workers face the risk of both physical and non-physical violence (such as verbal abuse) on the job. NIOSH and partners discovered through their work that there is a lack of workplace violence prevention training being offered to nurses and other healthcare workers. The new online course is intended to fill this gap by providing a convenient, free method for nurses and other healthcare workers to gain this training, as well as earn continuing education credits for completing the course.

The course aims to help healthcare workers better understand the scope and nature of violence in the healthcare workplace and teach them to recognize the key elements of a comprehensive workplace violence prevention program. It covers how organizational systems impact workplace violence, how to apply individual strategies, and help healthcare workers develop skills for preventing and responding to workplace violence.

The multimedia training features lesson text, videos depicting workplace violence, personal experiences of nurses with violence on the job, and quizzes.

The free course is available on the NIOSH website at

Health and Safety To Go

Podcasts: Musculoskeletal Injuries and Psychosocial Issues print this article

This month's Health and Safety To Go! podcasts discuss how to prevent musculoskeletal injuries (MSDs), and feature an encore presentation on psychosocial issues in the workplace.

Feature Podcast: Preventing Musculoskeletal Injuries

CCOHS takes a quick look at work-related musculoskeletal injuries and how to prevent them - in time for RSI Awareness Day (Feb 28th).

The podcast runs 2:59 minutes. Listen to the podcast now.

Encore Podcast: Exploring Psychosocial Issues in the Workplace

Dr. Kevin Kelloway, the Canada Research Chair in Occupational Health Psychology at Saint Mary's University in Halifax, Nova Scotia explains what positive psychology is and how it relates to workplace stress.

The podcast runs 16:09. 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.


Position for Safety and Comfortprint this article

Working in the same posture or sitting still for prolonged periods is not healthy. Although sitting requires less physical effort than standing or walking, it puts stress on the lumbar area. Over time, the effects of a sedentary lifestyle combined with a job that requires sitting can lead to various health problems, including musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs).

Learning and practicing how to sit properly can reduce stress and strain on your muscles, tendons, and skeletal system.

CCOHS has developed a poster to help guide you on how to position yourself for safety and comfort, and to reduce the risk of developing MSDs in the workplace.

In addition to maintaining a proper posture, remember to change your working position frequently throughout the day by making small adjustments to your chair or backrest, stretching your fingers, hands, arms, and torso, and by standing up and walking around for a few minutes periodically.

This poster is printed double-sided, with English on one side and French on the other, and is available as a free download.

Download this poster.

CCOHS Resources

MusculoSkeletal Disorders (MSDs): Awareness free e-course

How to adjust office chairs fact sheet

Office Ergonomics Safety Guide

Office Ergonomics e-course

Tension Relief:It's a Stretch poster

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