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In the News
UBC study links shift work to higher risk of work injury
With shift work on the rise, so too may be the risk of workplace injury. A recent study by researchers from the University of British Columbia (UBC) concluded that Canadians who work night and rotating shifts are almost twice as likely to be injured on the job as those working regular day shifts.
The study examined data on 30,000 Canadians collected as part of Statistics Canada's Survey of Labour and Income Dynamics. Trends in work injury were compared among workers involved in different types of shift work from 1996-2006. The findings showed that even though the overall rate of work injuries in Canada decreased during this time, the rate of injuries for night shift workers remained stable.
The study found that night shift work was associated with a higher incidence of work injury for both women and men. However, only women had a higher risk of work injury related to rotating shifts, increasing their risk overall compared to men. The researchers suggest that because women are more likely to have childcare and household responsibilities, they may have more difficulties adjusting to shift work and getting enough good quality sleep. Shift work can disrupt normal sleep patterns and cause drowsiness or fatigue, which can lead to workplace injuries.
In the past few decades, the number of Canadians working shift work has risen substantially. The number of women working shifts increased by 95% during the study period, mainly in the health care sector - almost double the 50% increase of men, occurring mostly in manufacturing and trades.
Injuries related to shift work come with a hefty price tag. In 2006, 307,000 work-related injury claims associated with shift work represented more than $50.5 million in costs to Canada's workers' compensation system. The study authors recommended that governments and employers consider policies and programs to help reduce the risk of injuries among shift workers.
Although an obvious solution to the risks of shift work would be to eliminate it altogether, this may not be a practical option for many workplaces. According to CCOHS, there are two basic levels where improvements can be made to help reduce the effects of shift work:
Tips & Tools
How to work safely with flammable and combustible liquids
You may work with them in your home or in your workplace: gasoline, turpentine, diesel fuel, paint and acetone. These are just a few examples of liquids that are flammable or combustible, meaning they can catch fire or ignite easily.
A liquid is determined to be flammable or combustible based on its flashpoint (the lowest temperature at which it ignites). Flammable liquids ignite at lower temperatures than combustible liquids. Under the Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS), flammable liquids have a flashpoint below 37.8Â°C (100Â°F). Combustible liquids have a flashpoint at or above 37.8Â°C (100Â°F) and below 93.3Â°C (200Â°F).
The most obvious hazard of a flammable or combustible liquid is the danger of a fire or explosion. At temperatures above their flashpoints, flammable and combustible liquids give off enough vapour to form mixtures with air that can be easily ignited and burn. The ignition source can be a spark, a flame, friction, a hot surface or any other source of ignition. "Hidden" sources include static electricity, light switches and other electrical devices like power tools. If sprayed or misted in air, flammable and combustible liquids may burn at any temperature if there is an ignition source. Once ignited, flammable and combustible liquids can spread fire widely by flowing easily under doors, down stairs and even into neighbouring buildings.
The vapours formed by flammable liquids are usually invisible and hard to detect without using special instruments. Flammable and combustible liquids can be absorbed into materials like wood, cardboard and cloth and continue to giving off hazardous vapours even after a spill appears to have been cleaned up.
In addition to the danger of a fire, there may be other hazardous properties of flammable or combustible liquids. Some flammable and combustible liquids can cause health problems, such as skin or eye irritation, or acute toxicity, and some are corrosive to the skin. Many undergo dangerous chemical reactions if they contact incompatible chemicals such as oxidizing materials, or if they are stored improperly.
Most workplaces use some type of flammable and combustible liquid in the form of fuels and many other common products like solvents, thinners, cleaners, adhesives, paints, waxes and polishes. Everyone who works with these liquids must be aware of their hazards and how to work safely with them.
Basic safety tips
WorkSafeNB launches new seat belt campaign for the workplace
"Buckle up and stay alive - because you're not the only one along for the ride!" This is the message WorkSafeNB is promoting in a new campaign targeting workers who operate motorized vehicles such as forklifts, tractors, and backhoes. The campaign launched in November with radio ads, and is supplemented with materials such as a hazard alert, poster, and decals.
WorkSafeNB reports that since 2005 three workers have died because they were not wearing their seatbelts and several near-misses and serious injuries have occurred. The campaign is intended to remind both workers and employers that seatbelts must be worn not only in cars and trucks, but in heavy equipment and other motorized vehicles, and that the law will be enforced.
Richard Blais, chief compliance officer with WorkSafeNB said that many workers who wear seatbelts in their personal vehicles do not wear them in the powered mobile equipment they use at work. The motorized vehicles are equipped with two different types of roll over protective structures (ROPS) - those with a cab and those without, he explains. "We don't know why they don't wear their seatbelts - whether they feel these vehicles go too slow to pose a risk or that they believe the ROPS will keep them safe. But speed isn't a factor. Collisions at low speeds can result in injuries, and in vehicles with ROPS, the deaths are occurring when drivers are ejected and the machine rolls over on top of them. And in one instance, a worker in a vehicle with a cab was ejected through the cab's open door.
WorkSafeNB is hoping to change the culture around powered mobile equipment. They want to make operators aware of the risks of not wearing a seatbelt, not only from being ejected outside the vehicle but also to minimize the risk of injury inside an enclosed cab.
While the campaign's message is an emotional one, asking workers to think about family (they're not the only ones along for the ride), WorkSafeNB will take a hard approach to enforcement of seatbelt use. Health and safety officers will ensure not only that seatbelts are being used, but that seatbelts are present and in proper working condition. Violations may result in written orders, fines, and even stop-work orders.
Take the forklift safety quiz from WorksafeNB. (PDF)
Visit the WorkSafeNB website.
Every year, young workers are critically injured or killed on the job. Secondary school teachers can play a vital role in developing awareness of workplace health and safety issues in young people. It has been proven that integrating workplace health and safety education into the classroom has helped in the prevention of accidents and injuries.
Available in either PDF or hard copy binder editions, Health & Safety Teaching Tools is packed with more than 200 pages of safety information, tips, classroom activities, handouts, and quizzes. The binder version also includes a companion CD of accompanying slides in PowerPoint and PDF formats, for use as student handouts.
Teaching Tools is divided into five chapters covering the major topic areas of workplace health and safety that are likely to impact young workers: chemical hazards, ergonomics, physical hazards, biological hazards and sociability issues.
There are lots of new tools to check out this month from CCOHS to help you work safely and be healthy at work:
LOOK for the newest posters on Healthy Living at Work and Day of Mourning. Download them for free or order the glossy printed versions, perfect for displaying in your workplace.
LISTEN to the latest free podcasts.
Every month new free podcast episodes are added to the Health and Safety to Go program. You can listen now or if you can download to your MP3 player and listen when it is most convenient for you.
Quick Guide to Indoor Air Quality Listen now.
Examine the symptoms of poor indoor air quality and what you and your workplace can do about it.
Length: 4:43 minutes
Workplace Fire Safety Tips Listen now.
CCOHS talks with Rocco Iamello of Ottawa Fire Services about the basics for fire safety in the workplace.
Length: 9:52 minutes
LEARN with the latest recorded webinars:
Best RTW Practices for Workers with Musculoskeletal and Mental Health Conditions
Make the Move: Staying Physically Active at Work free
Implementing Healthy Eating Programs in the Workplace free
You can see a complete listing of all podcasts, posters, and webinars on the CCOHS website.
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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.
© 2020, Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety
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