Health and Safety ReportVolume 11, Issue 10

On Topic

Hitting the Highway - Not the Wildlife print this article

Reducing the risk of hitting an animal with your vehicle

It can happen in an instant. You're driving along a scenic highway early in the evening, when suddenly a deer lurches out onto the road in front of your car. You slow down and the deer leaps across the road to safety, or, if you are one of the thousands of Canadians each year who are not so fortunate, you hit the animal with your vehicle.

With no centralized data collection in Canada and statistics scattered across federal and provincial agencies, it is difficult to know the exact number of wildlife collisions that occur each year. What is known, however, is that wildlife vehicle collisions are a serious problem in Canada and can injure and/or kill people and animals, as well as damage vehicles.

The financial impact has been estimated to be as high as $200 million annually, and statistics from Transport Canada have shown a trend in increased reported collisions each year from 1999-2003.

Many of those injured or killed in wildlife collisions are workers whose jobs involve driving, especially in remote and rural areas, where there is a greater chance of encountering large animals on the road.

November is one of the highest risk periods for wildlife collisions. Learn what you can do to reduce the risk to yourself and the wildlife.

Driver tips to reduce risk of a wildlife-vehicle collision

  • Watch for yellow wildlife warning signs that indicate increased risk of animal activity on or near the road, and drive defensively.

  • Scan the road and ditches ahead for animals, and if you see wildlife or tracks in the snow beside the road, drive slowly.

  • Be extra cautious when driving at dusk or dawn when light levels are low, animals are active, and most wildlife collisions occur.

  • Slow down in a curve, when cresting a hill or in wildlife-populated areas.

  • At night,

    • reduce speed, especially on unfamiliar rural roads, when visibility is reduced.

    • use high beams when possible and watch for the glowing eyes of animals (such as deer's) when they catch light. Moose, with their dark fur, are difficult to see at night and are so tall that their eyes are normally above most headlight beams, and therefore their eyes may not reflect the headlights.

  • In a 3-lane highway, drive in the middle lane to provide more distance from the ditch.

  • Keep your vehicle's windshield and headlights clean to help ensure visibility and wear your seatbelt.

  • Brake firmly if you see wildlife on or near the road and don't assume the animal will move out of your way.

  • Expect unpredictable behaviour from wildlife; even animals standing calmly at the roadside may bolt unexpectedly.

  • Watch for mother/offspring pairs as some animals travel together; and where there is one animal, there may be more.

  • If smaller animals are in your way, honk your honk or flash lights to scare them off the road.

  • To avoid hitting smaller animals, consider braking instead of swerving. You could end up having a serious accident if you lose control of your vehicle trying to avoid an animal. Don't take unsafe evasive actions.

If you're unable to avoid hitting an animal, you can reduce the impact by braking firmly to keep control of your vehicle and colliding at an angle to it. If you cannot avoid a direct impact with a moose, duck as low as you can, as moose tend to flip onto the windshield and crush your vehicle's roof.

In short, be aware, stay alert and slow down - for your own safety as well as that of our wildlife friends.



OSH Answers

Working Safely In a Stand-Up Jobprint this article

Does your work require you to stand, planted in one position for hours on end? Any prolonged position can hurt your body, and standing is no exception. There is no single, ideal body position for working. The best position is a variety of positions, where you equally distribute loads on different parts of the body but causes no physical strain. The reality in many workplaces, however, is that workers often sit or stand for long periods of time.

Anyone whose job requires them to stand on their feet for hours on end (salesperson, machine operator, assembly-line worker) can attest to the physical discomforts they may experience. These may include: sore feet, swelling of the legs, general muscular fatigue, low back pain, and stiffness in the neck and shoulders.
There are a variety of health problems that may be caused by prolonged and frequent standing. Without some relief by walking, blood may pool in the legs and feet. This can cause inflammation of the veins that may progress over time to painful varicose veins. Excessive standing also causes the joints in the spine, hips, knees and feet to become temporarily immobilized or locked. This immobility can later lead to rheumatic diseases due to degenerative damage to the tendons and ligaments.

If you spend most of your time at work standing, there are things you can do to reduce the ill effects on your posture.

Workstation set up

Any stand-up workstation should be adjusted according to your height, using elbow height as the guide. For example, precision work, such as writing or electronic assembly, requires a work surface that's 5 cm above elbow height; your elbows should be supported. Light work, such as assembly-line or mechanical jobs, require a work surface that is 5 to 10 cm below elbow height. Heavy work, demanding downward forces, requires a surface that is 20 to 40 cm below elbow height.

Proper position

If you work in a standing position, always face what you're working on, keeping your body close to the work. Adjust the workspace so that you have enough space to change working position. Use a foot rail or portable footrest to shift your body weight from both legs to one or the other leg. Use a seat whenever possible while working, or at least during rest breaks. Avoid over-reaching behind or above the shoulder line, or beyond the point of what is comfortable. Instead of reaching, shift your feet to face the object.

If you must stand to work, take frequent rest breaks. Find ways to change position as much as possible while you work.

Comfortable footwear

If your feet are not comfortable, nor are your legs, hips and back. The comfort of your feet depends largely on your footwear. Choose CSA-approved footwear with the proper ratings for the hazards in your workplace.
Your shoes should be as wide as your feet, leaving room to move your toes. They should have arch supports to prevent flattening of the feet, and a heel with a firm grip to prevent slipping. Lace-up shoes are best, because they allow you to tighten the instep of your footwear, keeping your foot from slipping inside the shoe or boot. The footwear should have heels that are not flat, but are no higher than 5 cm (2 inches). Wear padding under the tongue if you suffer from tenderness over the bones at the top of the foot. And if you work on a metal or cement floor, cushion your foot with a shock-absorbing insole.

Proper standing surface

The floor you stand on also greatly affects your level of comfort. Wooden, cork or rubber-covered floors are far preferable to concrete or metal, but if you must stand on hard floors, stand on mats. Floor mats should have slanted edges to help prevent tripping. They must be dense enough to cushion the feet, but not too thick. Too much cushioning, from thick foam-rubber mats, for example, can cause fatigue and increase the hazard of tripping.

Remember that the ideal position is one that changes frequently.

Resources from CCOHS

OSH Answers fact sheet: Working in a standing position

Office Ergonomics e-course

Musculoskeletal Disorders (MSD) Prevention Manual

Office Ergonomics Safety Guide

Partner News

Taking Your Kid to Work? Keep Safety Top of Mind print this article

On November 6th more than 250,000 grade nine students across Canada will head off to work with their parents, relatives, or friends for Take Our Kids to Work™. This annual, national program from The Learning Partnership gives young people a chance to job shadow their parent or another adult at work for a day, to get an up close glimpse of work life. In addition, the entire community of parents, teachers and employers has an opportunity to get involved in the career development of young Canadians.

Teachers and Parents: Preparing the kids for the workplace

It's important that young people receive information about health and safety prior to their workplace visit. They need to know and understand their rights and responsibilities for jobs they may hold now and in the future. Parents need this same information and to be aware of the work that their children are doing. They should ask questions about the health and safety concerns and how they are being addressed in the workplace.

Teachers should encourage all participants in the Take Our Kids to Work program to commit themselves to a safe day. On forms, include a section demonstrating that students have read and discussed materials on health and workplace safety before participating.

Employers: Preparing the workplace to keep the kids safe

In preparation for Take Our Kids to Work, workplaces should conduct an inspection prior to the day with a view to youth workplace safety. One of the first things employers should do on Take Our Kids to Work day is hold workplace orientations with the students that focus on health and safety issues relevant to that environment. Students should be supervised all day while they are at the workplace site and should only be allowed to undertake tasks and experiences for which they have been properly oriented. In the work environment, students should be encouraged to speak up about health and safety concerns, ask questions, and comment on situations they observed during the day.

More information

Visit The Learning Partnership website to register your participation, download resources and posters, and learn more about the Take Our Kids to Work program.

Young Workers Zone from CCOHS offers resources for young workers, parents, employers and teachers to help young people be healthy and safe at work.

Learn about the free Teaching Tools.

Watch the free webinar: Help Your New Workers Stay Safe. Length: 1 hour


Podcasts: Preventing the Flu and Worker Fatigueprint this article

This month's Health and Safety To Go! podcasts offers tips on things you can do to prevent the flu, and feature an encore presentation on worker fatigue.

Feature Podcast: Preventing the Flu: What You Can Do

It's easy to catch the flu if you're not careful. CCOHS shares some helpful tips on how you can prevent catching (or spreading) the flu this season.

The podcast runs 4:49 minutes. Listen to the podcast now.

Encore Podcast: Worker Fatigue

CCOHS explains how fatigue affects worker safety and offers tips on minimizing the effects
of fatigue.

The podcast runs 4:24 minutes. Listen to the podcast now.

See the complete list of podcast topics. Better yet, subscribe to the series on iTunes and don't miss a single episode.


The Message is Clear - Bullying is Not Part of the Job print this article

While the threat of physical or emotional assault has existed as long as humans have, there is good news: the occupational health and safety community, the law, and employers are recognizing that all forms of violence - including bullying - are unacceptable in the workplace.

No worker should have to fear, or be in danger of, any form of abuse, threat, intimidation or assault on the job. The definition of workplace violence encompasses much more than physical acts such as hitting, shoving, pushing or kicking. Other unacceptable acts include threatening behaviour, such as shaking one's fists or throwing or destroying objects; expressing, verbally or in writing, an intent to inflict harm; any behaviour that demeans, embarrasses, humiliates, annoys, alarms or verbally abuses a person; swearing, insults, and condescending language.

The Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS) offers more information about what work-related factors increase the risk of violence, how to assess whether your workplace is at risk, examples of preventive measures, and tools to promote awareness of this important issue.

Read the OSH Answers fact sheet on violence in the workplace.

Display posters to remind your employees of the types of behaviours that can be considered to be workplace violence or bullying.

Order the Violence in the Workplace Prevention Guide.

See all of the CCOHS courses and tools related to workplace violence prevention.

Workplace Health & Safety Matters

CCOHS Delivers its Message to a Global Audienceprint this article

Workplace Health and Safety Matters is the blog of Steve Horvath, President and CEO of the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety. In a recent blog post, Steve shares insights from his trip to Helsinki.

This week I participated in an interesting group of meetings in Helsinki for CCOHS. My first day started with a roundtable meeting of a number of countries sharing experiences on return-to-work (RTW) practices and the effectiveness of various programs. I found it particularly useful to hear the scope of the challenges of addressing injured workers and the common issues faced among returning workers.

It is critical to the effectiveness of our organization to be able to dialogue directly with a diverse group of influencers of national policies and programs. We share a common vision and acceptance of the importance of disability management policies and practices, but we come to a common conclusion from different perspectives, challenges and senses of urgency. The cost/benefit/ROI models and demographic charts are compelling arguments for any organization to have a formal RTW program, but for a leader, it goes beyond that to social responsibility and the ability compete in an increasingly mobile and demanding labour market. How, and how quickly, we respond to the challenges of the new economic realities will determine our success in the next generation.

The following day I attended a preparation meeting for the 2014 World Congress of Safety - a global Congress that occurs every 3 years and attracts 8000-10000 delegates. CCOHS is honoured to be a member of the steering committee, along with DGUV (German Social Accident Insurance) and NAOOSH (National Association of Organizations in Occupational Safety and Health of the Russian Federation), organizing the Symposium on Education and Training at the World Congress. The discussions went well into the night, with us having to turn out the lights and lock-up our host's building (Finnish Institute of Health). We discussed format, a common theme and strategies to effectively communicate with a diverse group that are spread cross a continuum with respect to their needs and level of sophistication of their programs.

The third day was spent at an international conference on the "Culture of Prevention - Future Approaches". It was a great opportunity to discuss our perspectives on creating a culture of prevention in the workplace and integrating safety into the business imperatives of an organization.

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