Health and Safety ReportVolume 10, Issue 8

In the News

Winning Strategies from the Olympic Buildprint this article

Study finds successful health and safety techniques developed for the Olympics can be used in other construction projects to prevent worker injuries

With the world still basking in the afterglow of Olympic excitement, a recent study suggests that innovative communication techniques used during the London 2012 Olympic build, that helped to prevent worker deaths, could be used to benefit other construction projects.

The Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) and the U.K. Health and Safety Executive (HSE) commissioned Loughborough University to investigate the effectiveness of health and safety communication and its impact on workers' awareness, attitudes, and behaviour during the Olympic construction project. The study also reviewed the transfer of knowledge into and out of Olympic Park.

Researchers collected information from interviews with managers and supervisors, focus groups with workers and document analysis of campaigns. The results were used to produce recommendations for industry.

The research was conducted as part of the Olympic Delivery Authority's (ODA's) Learning Legacy programme. The program strives to identify and analyze the health and safety good practices and lessons learned from the London 2012 construction project which companies in the sector could use to help reduce injury and illness in their own workforces.

From the findings, IOSH identified recommendations in five key areas that could be used in construction companies and projects of all sizes.

1. Lead from the top. The ODA set standards and visibly engaged with the workforce to direct, motivate and change behaviour by focusing on its long-term goals.

2. Develop competent supervisors. Supervisors are often the channel for communication and must have technical, interpersonal and communication skills. When supervisors have these competencies the effectiveness and impact of health and safety messages is likely to increase. Supervisors also have strong influence on workers' attention, understanding and behaviour.

3. Foster an open, positive safety culture. It is important that workers feel able to communicate problems without fear of retribution. Workers who are engaged and feel that managers care for their wellbeing, are more likely to get involved with the health and safety process.

4. Reward good behaviour. Incentives and rewards helped to promote and encourage safe and good behaviours such as reporting near misses. In many cases, positive feedback was the real reward, as it boosted morale.

5. Review and learn. Any problems were constantly reviewed and communicated across the organisation. Most importantly, the lessons learned from the problems encountered were used to improve health and safety.

The ODA estimated that the workforce on the Olympic Park, Athletes' Village and other sites consisted of more than 40,000 people. Not a single fatality was recorded during the construction phase of the Games.

The Games construction project offered a unique opportunity to investigate the impact of safety initiatives and communication across a range of organisations working side by side. It also provided an opportunity to track health and safety messages as they were communicated to the workforce.

Dr. Alistair Cheyne, leader of the research team, said "Strong leadership, accessible supervisors, worker engagement and reviewing practice are common tools for managers in any sector and can be easily adopted by other organisations."

IOSH executive director of policy, Dr. Luise Vassie, said "Part of the investment the UK has placed in hosting the Olympics is in the legacy it leaves behind. We hope it will play a part for years to come, by inspiring improvements in health and safety standards that reduce injury and ill-health in one of our most hazardous industries."

Further information on the study findings:

Lessons learned from the London 2012 Games construction project (PDF)

Safety and communication initiatives at the Olympic Park (PDF), IOSH

Hazard Alert

Patient Lifts and Worker Risksprint this article

If you have ever tried to move or lift someone on your own, unassisted, you can appreciate the challenges faced by caregivers and healthcare workers for whom patient handling is a part of their daily job. While mechanical lifts make it much easier to move and lift patients and can help reduce the ergonomic risks associated with manual patient handling, they also introduce other workplace hazards. Nova Scotia recently released a hazard alert to help reduce injuries to attendants who work with patient lifts (also known as hoists).

There are many types of lifts including:

  • wheeled hoist/portable floor lift,

  • stationary hoist/fixed lift,

  • ceiling track complete with motor,

  • sit/stand lifting aid, and

  • bath lifts.

Hospitals, long term care facilities and private homes use mechanical lifting systems to move or reposition patients/clients with mobility issues. Client lifting poses an injury risk to the attendant, however because the task cannot be eliminated, engineering solutions were created in the form of mechanical lifts.

Mechanical lifting systems have been the source of injury, and even deaths, to clients and attendants, mainly related to the malfunction, failure, or misuse of patient lifts. This hazard alert focuses on the hazards to attendants (workers).

New hazards related to patient lifts include falling suspended parts, dropped loads, equipment failure, structural failure, and electric shocks. There is also the risk of body strain if a hoist should fail and an attendant tries to catch a falling client.


The following tips from Nova Scotia and best practices from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration offer practical guidance to help prevent injuries to attendants using patient lifts.


Find out about, and meet, the legal requirements in your own jurisdiction for the use of patient/resident/client lifts in workplaces. Some general requirements may include: providing adequate lifting equipment; proper training of employees who use this equipment; proper installing, testing, operating, use of, servicing, maintenance and repair of any lifting machine in accordance with the manufacturer's or an engineer's specifications.

Sling safety

Slings are a key part of the lifting system. It is important to use the correct sling - the one approved for use by the patient lift manufacturer - for the specific hoist. The safe working load (SWL) must be clearly marked on both the lift and the sling. Take care to ensure the sling is compatible with the load limits of the lift and the patient's weight. Perform sling care according to the manufacturer's specifications. Inspect the sling fabric and straps to make sure they are not frayed or stressed at the seams or otherwise damaged, and if there are signs of wear, do not use it.

Equipment inspections

The manufacturer's specifications will likely provide a frequency for periodic inspections and pre-use inspections. The periodic inspection requires documentation to demonstrate it has been completed. Pre-use inspections ensure that compatible parts are used and properly configured, and that load restrictions are not exceeded. They also identify any visible signs of damage to equipment that may lead to a failure. Create a system to ensure that defective equipment is clearly marked and taken out of service until replaced or repaired.

Tips for users of patient lifts

  • Be trained on, and understand, how to operate the lift.

  • Fasten all clips, latches, and hanger bars securely during operation.

  • Keep the base (legs) of the patient lift in the maximum open position and position the lift to provide stability.

  • Ensure the patient's arms are inside the sling straps.

  • Lock the wheels on any device that will receive the patient such as a wheelchair, stretcher, bed, or chair.

  • Ensure that the weight limitations for the lift and sling are not exceeded.

  • Follow the instructions for washing and maintaining the sling.

  • Follow a maintenance safety inspection checklist to detect worn or damaged parts that need immediate replacement.

Regardless of size, all workplaces can benefit from a code-of-practice, or safe work procedure for hoist operation, inspection and maintenance.

More information

Incidents Involving Patient Lifts, Health Canada

Patient and Resident Lifts Hazard Alert (PDF), Government of Nova Scotia

Patient Lifts, FDA, U.S. Food and Drug Administration

Partner News

Funding Opportunity: Gender, Work and Health Chair Programprint this article

On June 26th, 2012, the CIHR Institute of Gender and Health launched the Gender, Work and Health Chair Program in partnership with the CIHR Institute of Musculoskeletal Health and Arthritis, the CIHR Institute of Population and Public Health, the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety and the Institut de recherche Robert-Sauvé en santé et en sécurité du travail.

The specific objectives of the Gender, Work and Health Chair Program are to support leading researchers to develop their programs of research in gender, work and health; build capacity for research on work and health that accounts for gender and sex; and, foster the translation of that research into gender- and sex-sensitive policies and interventions that improve workers' health.

The total amount available for this funding opportunity is $7.2 million, enough to fund approximately eight awards of $800,000 over five years. This amount may increase if additional funding partners participate.

Work and health are inextricably linked. The World Health Organization (2010) estimates that almost two million people die as a result of on-the-job accidents and work-related illnesses or injuries each year, while another 268 million non-fatal workplace accidents result in 160 million new cases of work-related illness and injury annually. The physical and mental health effects of paid and unpaid work affect individual workers, their loved ones, their communities and their workplaces as they cope with and adapt to the effects of work-related illness and injury.

Accounting for gender and sex in research on work and health will make this research more just, more rigorous and more useful. Women and men tend to work in different industries. When they work in the same industries, they may share a job title or perform the same task yet the content of that title or task might differ in practice because of how gender roles and gender relations are enacted in workplaces, or because of sex-related variations in body composition. This has the potential to influence occupational exposures and outcomes, as do variations in the division of unpaid work and family caregiving. Gender and sex influence how we define jobs and divide work, whether worksites and equipment are physically suited to women and men's bodies, and how risks such as occupational exposures affect workers who may vary by gender, sex or related characteristics such as body size, body fat levels, reproductive status or hormone levels.

This funding opportunity is intended to support leading researchers to build their interdisciplinary programs of research on gender, work and health, build capacity through training and mentorship and through the effective translation of knowledge into gender- and sex-specific policies and interventions that improve workers' health.

The application deadline for this funding opportunity is October 1st, 2012.

Learn more about the full funding opportunity.

CIHR Institute of Gender and Health

CIHR Institute of Musculoskeletal Health and Arthritis

CIHR Institute of Population and Public Health

Institut de recherche Robert-Sauvé en santé et en sécurité du travail

Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety


Podcasts: Proactive Approach to Mental Health and West Nile Virusprint this article

This month's Health and Safety To Go! podcasts explore psychosocial issues and feature an encore presentation of job safety analysis.

Feature podcast: Taking a Proactive Approach to Maintaining a Mentally Healthy Workplace

Donna Hardaker, Workplace Mental Health Specialist from the Canadian Mental Health Association's York Region Branch, explains how organizations can take a proactive approach at addressing mental health in the workplace. Ms. Hardarker is also a featured presenter for CCOHS' Forum IV that will take place October 29th and 30th, 2012 in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

The podcast runs 15:58 minutes. Listen to the podcast now.

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.


CCOHS Forum IV - Space is Limitedprint this article

CCOHS' Forum IV is a unique two-day national health and safety event that brings together subject experts, workers, employers, and government into one vibrant setting to share their knowledge and perspectives around total worker well-being.

The Forum is quickly approaching, and the spaces are filling up quickly. Not sure if this is the event for you? Listen to CCOHS' podcast with Forum IV speaker Dr. Kevin Kelloway as he explains what positive psychology is and how it relates to workplace stress. Dr. Kevin Kelloway is the Canada Research Chair in Occupational Health Psychology at Saint Mary's University in Halifax, Nova Scotia and will be exploring this topic further during his presentation at the Forum as well as leading interactive discussions.

The Forum will take place October 29 to 30, 2012, in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Add your voice to the conversation and help stimulate creative solutions. Don't miss the chance to get inspired, and to expand your network by getting to know new health and safety professionals from all across Canada.

Learn more about CCOHS Forum IV.

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