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In the News
Staying awake for 21 hours straight affects the human body almost exactly like a blood alcohol level of 0.1%, which exceeds Canada's legal limit for drivers. Sleep researchers say drowsy drivers may cause as many automobile crashes as impaired drivers.
Now let's translate that to the workplace where someone might have to make important decisions, handle dangerous chemicals, operate heavy equipment or use a sharp knife. It's not hard to realize that work and fatigue don't mix.
Fatigue is the state of feeling very tired, weary or sleepy because of too little or inadequate sleep, prolonged mental or physical work, or extended periods of stress or anxiety. It varies, but on average we need at least 7.5 to 8.5 hours everyday. While it's always possible to reverse a short-lived or "acute" state of fatigue by catching up on sleep and rest, chronic fatigue may require a doctor's intervention.
Besides tiredness and drowsiness, other telltale symptoms of fatigue include irritability, depression, giddiness, loss of appetite, digestive problems, and an increased susceptibility to illness.
A recipe for shoddy, unsafe work
Lifesaving tips for commercial fishermen
The drowning deaths of two Canadian fishermen - from opposite coasts, could have been prevented. Here's what happened:
A hazard alert bulletin from WorkSafe BC reports that a salmon fisherman accidentally fell into the water and couldn't get back in the boat, because it had no guardrails or lifeline. The water had a 1 to 2 foot chop and the man, who wore no lifejacket or personal flotation device, was working alone. Someone discovered his boat, adrift without anyone on board. Later the fisherman's body found, floating at sea.
Another drowning occurred in Nova Scotia on the first day of the 2007 spring fishing season. A lobster fisher, who was not wearing a personal flotation device, became entangled in the trip rope lines on deck and was pulled overboard. In a hazard alert bulletin, the Nova Scotia Department of Environment and Labour warns that the common practice of loading as many pots as possible onto lobster fishing boats (especially on opening day) can leave very little room for crew members to move freely on deck.
While a lone vessel at sea might seem quite apart from other workplaces, it is subject to similar health and safety regulations. Generally, employers of fishing operations have the same duty as other employers to ensure a safe work environment, which includes proper safety equipment, as well as instruction and training, and making sure workers follow safe work practices and avoid exposure to work-related hazards. More specifically, where a person is exposed to the risk of drowning, an employer must provide and ensure the use of a personal flotation device that meets the standards specified in occupational health and safety legislation, or an alternative measure that provides equivalent protection from drowning.
Observing these safety practices, as recommended by the Nova Scotia and BC governments, could save lives:
No one is born a chemist or toxicologist, and most people won't ever become experts in those fields, yet a great many are required to handle and store chemical products in their day-to-day jobs. Knowing and following the proper procedures, anyone can work safely with chemicals.
In Canada, every material that is controlled by WHMIS ("Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System") must be labelled and have an accompanying Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) that is specific to the product or material (both the product name and supplier on the MSDS must match the material in use).
An MSDS is a document, prepared by the chemical manufacturer or supplier, that contains information on the potential hazards (health, fire and reactivity) of the product. The MSDS also describes how to safely use, store and handle the product and what to do in an emergency. It tells how to recognize symptoms of exposure and what first aid and other procedures might be necessary.
MSDSs come from many sources and may not all look the same, but they must include these nine (9) categories of information as mandated by the Government of Canada's Controlled Products Regulations:
Musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) are a major pain - in the muscles, tendons or nerves in the lower back, shoulders, neck, elbows, wrists or hands. In fact, MSDs are the number one type of work-related lost-time claim reported to the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) in Ontario. MSDs cause suffering for thousands of workers every year, and manual materials handling is a large contributor.
The Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS) and the Centre of Research Expertise for the Prevention of Musculoskeletal Disorders (CRE-MSD) have teamed up to co-host "Pushing, Pulling, Lifting, and Lowering: A workshop on manual materials handling in the workplace" to discuss manual materials handling from a variety of perspectives. The 1-day conference will take place March 4, 2008 in Mississauga, Ontario.
The workshop features a keynote presentation by Dr. Tom Waters, certified professional ergonomist and Senior Safety Engineer at NIOSH, renowned internationally for his work on the revised NIOSH lifting equation - the most commonly used tool to measure if workers are exerting too much effort to lift or lower.
An array of experts in the field will also speak from their perspectives. You'll hear from a researcher, ergonomic consultant, injured worker, disability management consultant, labour and management representatives, and a policy analyst with respect to what the province of Ontario is doing about preventing MSDs. You'll also have the opportunity to engage in workshops where you can discuss how manual materials handling issues apply to your own workplace.
If you are unable to travel to the workshop, you can still participate by registering for CCOHS' live webcast. You'll hear all the presentations, plus have the opportunity to ask questions and submit comments directly to the speakers, from the comfort of your computer or meeting room.
Learn more - and take advantage of our early bird registration rate.
New e-course tailored to the Canadian federal jurisdiction
Unlike the United States, where the entire country is governed by the same occupational health and safety laws, Canada has occupational health and safety laws and regulations that vary by jurisdiction. Although these laws are founded on the same principle - that every worker has a right to a safe work environment - each jurisdiction has its nuances.
Health and Safety Committees are an important area of occupational health and safety legislation. The latest e-course from the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS) focuses on health and safety committees and is geared specifically to workplaces in the Federal Jurisdiction.
Health and Safety Committees in the Canadian Federal Jurisdiction is an e-course designed for these and other federally regulated workplaces:
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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.
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