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safeworknews Newfoundland and Labrador

Volume Three, Issue Two - Fall 2012

Education is the key to healthy and safe workplaces. Are you in the know? see page 4 Working alone - Are you putting yourself at risk? see page 14

safeworknews Newfoundland and Labrador




CEO Safety Charter advocate

Hazard awareness

Harnessing the power of safety

Debbie Forward committed to occupational health and safety

Understanding the dangers of confined spaces

A young worker’s perspective on Nalcor safety in Churchill Falls




Pride in our communities

CEO Safety Charter

Talking about occupational disease

The Municipal Safety Council approach

Do you have what it takes to be a safety leader?

Talk on the Rock. A dynamic event of significance for health and safety professionals

8 Empowering workers Occupational health and safety awareness program for new Canadians

14 Working alone An award-winning essay advocates for regulations

Cover photo: Sharon Tilley, Laboratory Helper at Canadian Blood Services, St. John’s Cover photo by Greg Locke

safeworknews Newfoundland and Labrador

safeworknews is published three times a year by the Workplace Health, Safety and Compensation Commission (the Commission) of Newfoundland and Labrador to educate workers and employers about injury and disease prevention, promote a positive safety culture and provide links to Commission resources for safer workplaces. Editorial Submissions and Inquiries

Editorial Advisor Chris Flanagan Editor Kathy Dicks-Peyton Graphic Design Mark Wessels Marketing Sherry Greene Information Technology Florence Maloney

Contributors Paul Daly Kimberly Norman Samantha Budden Andrew Pike Conor Flanagan Donna Ivey Carla King Randy Dawe Greg Locke

Canada Post Publications Mail Agreement #40063376, Customer #1324969 No portion of this publication may be reprinted in whole or in part without the written permission of the Workplace Health, Safety and Compensation Commission. The Commission reserves the right of final approval on all material. Printed in Canada - Copyright 2011 Printer: Transcontinental Print

safeworknews publication agreement #40063376

“Nothing great in the world has ever been accomplished without passion.” - Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, German philosopher and inventor, 1770-1831 Safework NL is all about being passionate about safety in the workplace, and we are counting on it being contagious. Imagine your job requirements and the best possible outcomes? You can achieve success once you have designed, planned, trained and implemented safe work practices to get you there. Occupational health and safety is built around culture and behavior, so passionate people are the leaders in every discipline. You can Google the phrase ‘passionate about safety’, and you will see links to a variety of industries and professions. Passion for safety is within our grasp and, it is, in my opinion, the preferred approach to our work days. This issue of safeworknews is predicated on safety being ‘good news’. In order to be passionate about the subject, we must guard against downplaying our success. Safety success must not be ‘only’ an example! Celebrate safety success. It matters, safety makes everything greater! Our management meetings commence with a safety share, followed by good news stories. In a humble society, I notice that even when good news is celebrated, it is often prefaced with an ‘only’, or a ‘just’. The other day we were sharing good news stories, when one of my colleagues said they ‘just’ had one good news story. Specifically, it was ‘only’ a positive workplace inspection report. Another manager ‘only’ had one report on client service that will support recovery and return to work. These are great news stories and we should not apologize when celebrating them. Even if the inspection report identified health and safety shortfalls, we now have an opportunity to act immediately. These inspection reports have the potential to prevent serious accidents, to avert the potential for catastrophic loss for an individual, their family, co-workers and employers. Addressing the elements listed in an inspection report is great evidence that safety is alive and well. It can be challenging to effectively communicate good news. One special way is to send a letter of thanks to the employee(s) responsible for the good news. Celebrate good safety and prevention practices and reinforce the fact that good work does not go unnoticed. Of course there are more dangerous instances when ‘only’ and ‘just’ get in the way of health and safety. That’s when we look at a routine task and convince ourselves, or others, that ‘it’s only this’ or ‘just that’, and alarm bells go off. Safety requires focus. If there is ‘only’ one more patch of grass to mow, or ‘just’ five minutes until break time, these are still important times to concentrate on safety. Often, our minds drift elsewhere as we are performing routine tasks or wrapping up a job We often are thinking of what we wil do next and not what we are doing now.

Now is the perfect time to be passionate about occupational health and safety. Stay focused and celebrate good safety news in your workplaces!

Leslie Galway, CEO, Workplace Health, Safety and Compensation Commission


Safety Share By Kimberly Norman

Is backing in really that hard? Ask most people what their preferred choice of parking is, and you’ll be surprised with the number of people who prefer just nosing in. I mean, does it really matter which way we park? The answer is a big YES! While working at the Workplace Health, Safety and Compensation Commission this past summer, one thing I noticed is that everyone backs into their parking spaces. After conducting some research, I discovered there are some real benefits to backing in: • Backing in makes it easier to pull out, since you have a better view of parking lot traffic than if you were looking out your back window or using your side mirrors. • Your chances of hitting a pedestrian or another vehicle are significantly decreased, since you have a better view of the roadway. Being more aware of your surroundings decreases chances of an accident. • Less accidents means lower insurance rates. According to Manitoba Public Insurance, it is easier to back in between two stationary vehicles, than it is to back out into a parking lot full of vehicles and people. In retrospect, you’re going to have to back up at some point, so it’s just as well to do it first and get it over with. Many people claim they are not comfortable with reverse parking. However, when you think about it, backing into traffic poses a risk for fellow motorists and pedestrians. It’s safer to back in where your chance of causing an accident is lower. Here are some safety tips for backing in: • Check for oncoming traffic or pedestrians. • Check your mirrors and blind spots before reversing your car into your parking space. Always leave a car width between your vehicle and the back of the other parked cars. • Make sure you use your turn indicators to tell other drivers you wish to enter the parking space.

Let’s continue to back into our parking spaces and remain safe.






safeworknews reaching out to all stakeholders Hi Kathy I have been reading the latest copy of safeworknews, and just had to write to congratulate you on a terrific job. The content and layout are superb. The magazine isn’t just informative but it is interesting, easy to read, and every article captures your attention. We will be circulating this information to our membership and who knows, hopefully, it may save someone from injury or possibly even death. Well done, Kathy and the staff at WHSCC. In solidarity, Carol Furlong, President Newfoundland and Labrador Association of Public and Private Employees (NAPE)

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Give us your insight on safeworknews content, or topics for discussion relating to employer assessments, workers’ compensation, and workplace health and safety. Send your comment to: safeworknews c/o Workplace Health, Safety and Compensation Commission 146-148 Forest Road P.O. Box 9000 St. John’s NL A1A 3B8 or send us an email:




As a member of the Workplace Health, Safety and Compensation Commission’s CEO Safety Charter, Debbie Forward is proud to be able to make a public statement regarding her commitment to occupational health and safety.

Newfoundland and Labrador needs safe and healthy nurses By Kathy Dicks-Peyton Being an advocate for the health and safety of registered nurses is a priority for Debbie Forward. As President of the Newfoundland and Labrador Nurses’ Union (NLNU), she knows that her members work in significant physical and stressful environments, and their well-being is critical to providing quality patient care for the people of our province. The NLNU represents 5,400 registered nurses. “There is a tremendous amount of risk associated with working in health care,” she says, “and if workers are not protected from potential hazards, their health can be impaired acutely or in the long-term.” Some of the injuries faced by registered nurses, range from musculoskeletal, to infections, to psychological stress disorders.




Did you know that since 2005, there have been 1,086 lost-time and medical-aid only registered nurse claims reported to the Commission? The good news is that all injuries among the registered nurse population can be prevented with education and appropriate health and safety practices. “Part of my leadership role is to work with our members, their employers, government and the Association of Registered Nurses of Newfoundland and Labrador (ARNNL), to help ensure that occupational health and safety is always top of mind,” she says. Forward graduated from Memorial University’s School of Nursing in 1980 and began her career in the emergency department at the Grace Hospital in St. John’s.

Working on the frontlines had its challenges. One night she came face to face with an aggressive patient. “It was scary, I was young, inexperienced and didn’t realize how important it was to be safe. Everything turned out okay, but I didn’t know how to respond to such situations.” Forward stresses that it is important not only for registered nurses, but all health care workers to be aware of their surroundings when left alone with patients. “They need to know how to detect things such as aggression, where exits are located, and how to call for help. Taking action to address unsafe or unhealthy workplace problems and providing education and training to perform tasks safely is vital. Although health and safety awareness has changed over the years, the basics are still the basics.” The NLNU is currently working with employers and government on a public violence prevention campaign for all health care workers to be launched this fall. “When you think about injury prevention, violence prevention is not an area you often focus on,” says Forward. “Violence in the workplace is a big problem. We’ve talked to our members and we know there are incidents of workplace violence and abuse. We want our workplaces to be safe and respectful for our members.” Forward says she is extremely excited about the new campaign because you can never do enough to educate about health and safety. “Education is the key to injury and occupational illness prevention.” During the 2009, H1N1 influenza outbreak, the NLNU took a front and centre advocacy role with regard to personal protective equipment (PPE) being used by its members. “We didn’t believe the masks being used were going to keep our members safe,” recalls Forward. The union convinced employers to support registered nurses in wearing the N95 mask, a product that would best ensure personal health and safety. “We educated our members, and with the support of the ARNNL, we talked to employers and government, other unions and the Association of Allied Health Professionals, and canvassed the province from one end to the other about the benefits of the N95 masks. Keeping registered nurses safe at that particular time was so important,” says Forward.

Registered nurses work with infectious diseases and body fluids every day, and treating every individual as if they have contaminated blood or body fluids is a first line of precaution. “We have to ensure that our members understand this,” says Forward. “Sometimes registered nurses can be their own worst enemies, in that they always put their patients first and don’t always take that extra minute to ensure they are protecting themselves. You are no good to your patients if you become contaminated and then have to take time away from work. Registered nurses need to be reminded that putting yourself first is not a bad thing – it’s the most important thing.” Protecting registered nurses from stress and fatigue is another challenge. The NLNU has worked in partnership with the ARNNL to develop a position statement on excessive hours of work. When called for that extra shift, registered nurses need to ask themselves, ‘am I capable of working? How many shifts have I worked in a row? What have my hours been like this week?’ “We know what stress does to people, and working excessive hours makes you tired, increases your risk of injury and increases the risk of you making a mistake,” explains Forward. Registered nurses are on the front lines 24/7, and are the first providers to patients and family members. They need to be at their best both physically and emotionally.” As a member of the Workplace Health, Safety and Compensation Commission’s CEO Safety Charter, Forward is proud to be able to make a public statement regarding her commitment to occupational health and safety. “As a union leader and health care advocate, it’s a huge honor to be a member of the Charter,” she says. “Being a Charter member holds you accountable to a higher degree and gives me the opportunity to talk to others about the importance of health and safety and why we need to invest in it.” Forward says leadership starts at the top, and she can show that leadership in her office of 17, where she has decision-making power and in an advocacy role with her union membership. “As a member of the CEO Safety Charter I can help create momentum for all signatories to be health and safety role models. There is so much we can learn from each other because health and safety awareness is an educational journey.” WORKPLACE HEALTH, SAFETY AND COMPENSATION COMMISSION



Establishment of the Municipal Safety Council By Andrew Pike Newfoundlanders and Labradorians, like many people around the world, have a rich history of hometown pride. It rings out in our music, legends, and folklore. Municipalities across our great province are famous for their sense of community, and you don’t have to go far to find a group of locals raising money for the fire hall, shingling a neighbour’s roof, or helping the less able clear their driveways in our often harsh Newfoundland and Labrador winters. This sense of pride in community is what makes us who we are – but what can we do to keep those charged with municipal upkeep safe? The province of Newfoundland and Labrador has upwards of 275 municipalities registered with Municipalities Newfoundland and Labrador (MNL), housing 89 per cent of the population. The other 11 per cent are scattered throughout a number of smaller centres. What many fail to consider is that our communities are employers, with staff, and all the issues that go along with running a business. Some of our larger centres have intricate infrastructures with a full complement of workers, policies and procedures to get required jobs done safely. Others do not have such policies, and rely on one employee or less, because they rely solely on volunteers.




Town of St. Anthony

The work required by these municipal workers has a wide breadth. Fire protection, trenching, excavating, water and sewer, snow clearing, garbage and waste collection, community parks and playgrounds; pretty much anything that needs to be addressed on a local level. This being said, not all communities have the resources to support workers who put their own health and safety on the line to ensure the business of their towns and associated infrastructure run as smoothly as possible.

formation of the Municipal Governance Committee (MGC), a joint employer/labour stakeholder group dedicated to leading a feasibility study process. Since then, a great deal of work has been carried out into the development of a municipal sector council. After many meetings, planning and organizational development sessions, the Municipal Safety Council of Newfoundland and Labrador was incorporated, and as of July 19, 2012, joins construction and forestry as the third industry sector to embrace the sector council concept.

The Workplace Health, Safety and Compensation The Municipal Safety Council of Newfoundland and Commission (the Commission), the Newfoundland Labrador looks forward to assisting all the municipalities and Labrador Federation of Labour and and municipal workers with improving job safety and early and safe return-to-work the Newfoundland and Labrador Employers initiatives. Council, all have a common interest in supporting the development of a Municipal Special thanks to the following for their Safety Council: a not-for-profit organization input into the development of Municipal committed to providing cost-effective, Safety Council: City of St. John’s, City affordable and accessible safety information, of Mount Pearl, City of Corner Brook, education, training and resources Town of Twillingate Professional Municipal Administrators, to municipalities. International Association of Fire Fighters, United Food and Commercial Workers Union, United The Commission established Sector Council funding guidelines in 2008 to support, promote and achieve Steel Workers, Municipalities Newfoundland and Labrador, the establishment of councils for various industries. Newfoundland and Labrador Association of Public and Sector councils are comprised of senior representation Private Employees, Canadian Auto Workers Union, from workers and employers, along with the Commission Teamsters, Canadian Union of Public Employees, and government. These councils play an advisory role to Department of Municipal Affairs, the Commission and the government and the Commission, and act as the industry Occupational Health and Safety Branch of Service NL. voice to address provincial issues relating to health and Council members look forward to ensuring all those safety and early and safe return-to-work. who work to make our communities what they are, In October 2009, a municipal discussion forum was can enjoy the fruits of their labour at the end of each held in Gander which brought together senior employer working day, when they return home safely to their and labour leaders interested in exploring sector council families. development. This discussion forum resulted in the




New Canadians building OHS awareness By Kathy Dicks-Peyton Improving occupational health and safety awareness for immigrants working in Newfoundland and Labrador is good news for all workers and employers in the province. AXIS Career Services (Acquiring eXperience; Integrating Skills), a division of the Association for New Canadians, is taking a leadership role in ensuring that newcomers know their rights and responsibilities when becoming part of our province’s growing workforce. Since 1996, AXIS has offered a variety of client-focused programs intended to identify employment gaps and connect immigrants with local employers. The Occupational Health and Safety for Immigrants – Building Awareness program aims to familiarize newcomers with Canada’s commitment to occupational health and safety, and the role these new workers must play as they become integrated into the workforce. New employees are at higher risk of injury than their more experienced co-workers. New Canadians are more prone to accidents and injury


on the job, due to new exposure to hazardous situations, possible language barriers, heavy workloads, unfamiliar safety regulations and safe work practices and a general lack of knowledge about occupational health and safety.



A 2008 study by Ontario’s Institute for Work and Health found that male immigrants were twice as likely to sustain work-related injuries requiring medical attention than their Canadianborn counterparts.

“Not every country has the health and safety regulations that we have here in Canada,” says Sheri Watkins, Employment Development Co-ordinator with AXIS. “Our clients don’t really understand what is expected of them and we believe the need is there to make them more prepared.” “We can’t assume newcomers have a good understanding of workplace health and safety, because it’s so huge,” says Eileen Kelly-Freake, Director of Employment and Career Services with AXIS. “This orientation opens their eyes to a lot of things and helps them to be more prepared when entering the workforce. This is an awareness program and we are not here to take on the role of other groups who offer occupational health and safety training.”

The Occupational Health and Safety for Immigrants – Building Awareness program offered by AXIS, was funded by the Workplace Health, Safety and Compensation Commission. Research and development of the facilitator’s guide were also supported by Service NL’s OHS Branch, and the federal Department of Human Resources and Skills Development Canada (HRSDC). “There’s lots of information out there on workplace health and safety, but this program condenses things into a user-friendly package,” says Kelly-Freake.

This program is also not a substitute for health and safety orientation by employers, and it is not intended to be equivalent to on-the-job training related to specific occupations. It is intended to focus on a basic awareness of occupational health and safety.

Save time – use connect! Use connect to submit your form 7 – employer’s report of injury.

The AXIS occupational health and safety program, piloted in April 2012, is delivered in four modules. Module One focuses on what contributes to a health and safety culture in Canadian workplaces, while Module Two highlights what it means to have employee rights and responsibilities. What employees need to know about workplace hazards is presented in Module Three, followed by what entrepreneurs need to know about occupational health and safety in Module Four. The AXIS occupational health and safety awareness program is delivered in conjunction with the existing pre-employment and skills development training, and the modules are presented in three-hour workshops. “All course material is written at a very basic level and participants are assessed before entering the program based on their backgrounds and education levels,” explains Watkins. “We are able to adapt the program according to language levels should we have participants who do not have strong English speaking skills.”

Your report will be received by the Workplace Health, Safety and Compensation Commission the same day and help in the timely adjudication of your claim. If you are already registered for connect, speak to your in-house administrator to access this service. For more information go: to




Know your Confined Space A confined space does not necessarily mean a small, enclosed space. It could be rather large, such as a ship's hold, a large fuel tank or a pit. A confined space is an enclosed or partially enclosed space that (a) is not designed or intended for human occupancy except for the purpose of performing work; (b) has restricted means of access and egress; and (c) may become hazardous to a person entering it. All confined spaces are categorized into two main groups: non-permit and permit-required. Permit-required confined spaces must have signs posted outside stating that entry requires a permit. In general, these spaces contain serious health and safety threats including: • Oxygen-deficient atmospheres • Flammable atmospheres • Toxic atmospheres • Mechanical or physical hazards • Loose materials that can engulf or smother Before entering any confined space you must be aware of potential hazards that could exist. Effective January 1, 2013, workers will not be permitted to work in confined spaces in Newfoundland and Labrador unless they have completed a confined space entry certification training program approved by the Workplace Health, Safety and Compensation Commission. As of August 1, 2012, the following training providers have been approved by the Commission to deliver confined space entry training in Newfoundland and Labrador. For a more up-to-date list, please consult the Commission’s website at: certification.whscc Newfoundland and Labrador Construction Safety Association Contact: Patricia O'Leary 80 Glencoe Drive Mount Pearl, NL A1N 4S9 Tel: 709-739-7000 Fax: 709-739-7001 Email:



Rogers Enterprises Ltd. Contact: Bruce Rogers 10 Maverick Place, Octagon Business Park Paradise, NL A1L 0J1 Tel: 709-753-8002 Email: Puglisevich (Petrell HSE Technologies) Contact: Wanda Whelan 611 Torbay Road St. John's, NL A1A 5J1 Tel: 709-722-2744 (Ext.223) Fax: 709-722-3208 Email: Website:


Hightek Fall Protection Inc. Contact: Stephen Pike P.O. Box 4056 Mount Pearl, NL A1N 0A1 Phone: 709-682-2104 Fax: 709-368-7797 Email: Website:




Establishing a culture of workplace health and safety begins at the top By Donna Ivey

Are you an executive business leader (CEO, President, Owner, Operator)a health and safety advocate within your organization? If so, you could be a candidate for the Workplace Health and Safety and Compensation Commission’s (the Commission) CEO Safety Charter. In 2007, the Commission initiated a CEO Leadership Charter to support the continuous improvement of healthy and safe workplaces. This program recognizes and encourages leaders who demonstrate a commitment to improvements in safety practices and disability management, and foster healthy and safe workplaces. The Charter was founded on the premise that establishing a culture of workplace health and safety begins at the top. Safety leadership is a key ingredient to an organization’s overall success, resulting in reduced injuries and related costs, and most importantly healthier, happier and more productive employees. Since 2007, 53 executives have signed the Charter making a visible commitment to maintaining best practices for safeguarding the health and safety of all employees, clients and partners. In 2010, the Commission conducted internal and external stakeholder consultations to garner input on ways to advance the Charter. As a result of the feedback received, a revitalized program is being launched. Under this renewal process, the CEO Leadership Charter has been rebranded as the CEO Safety Charter. While the primary principles remain, today’s Charter is more defined, and places an increased focus on the engagement of existing and new signatories. CEO Safety Charter signatories integrate health and safety practices into all aspects of their businesses, controlling potential risks to their employees, clients and visitors to their work sites. Leading by example, these safety ambassadors positively influence employee behaviour and attitudes concerning workplace safety. With these values incorporated into everyday workplace practices, safety awareness and prevention become second nature. Leslie Galway, CEO, Workplace Health, Safety and Compensation Commission

Through various avenues of corporate and community involvement, Charter members contribute to and foster an enhanced province-wide safety culture. The CEO Safety Charter facilitates networking and speaking events, as well as other opportunities, whereby signatories share their knowledge and experiences with respect to workplace health and safety.

Under the revised CEO Safety Charter program, there are two levels of membership – gold and platinum. Annual renewal of both levels of membership is based on the signatory and respective organization continuing to meet the established criteria. The gold (or entry) level requires continuous compliance with PRIME, demonstrated by passing annual PRIME audits and being compliant with occupational health and safety legislation and regulations, with no outstanding directives. Alternate certificates (e.g. occupational health and safety (OHS) audit, COR audit, ISO 18001 or CSA Z1000) may be accepted by the selection committee as equivalent to PRIME audit compliance. The organization must not have had any fatalities or charges laid under the Occupational Health and Safety Act within the past three years, and they must also be eligible for a letter of clearance from the Commission. Signatories demonstrating an exceptional commitment to health and safety then have the opportunity to advance to the prestigious platinum level. These organizations must achieve three annual OHS audit scores of at least 80 per cent in a five-year period. In addition, they must demonstrate OHS leadership within their industry or community, a focus on disability management and return-to-work of workers suffering from a workplace injury or known occupational disease, and their company’s lost-time duration must be at or below the provincial average. For more information on the Charter contact: Donna Ivey, CEO Safety Charter Administrator at: 709-778-6983.




Talk on the Rock A Conference on the Prevention of Known Occupational Disease October 1-3, 2012 Delta St. John’s Hotel and Conference Centre Brought to you in partnership by:


Association of Occupational Health Nurses Newfoundland Labrador

Working alone? Are you putting yourself at risk? The following article is an excerpt from an essay written by Samantha Budden, 18, of Stephenville, winner of the 2012 Newfoundland and Labrador Occupational Health and Safety Association’s (NLOSHA) $1,000 scholarship contest. Newfoundland and Labrador’s Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHS Act) works with the purpose to protect and promote the health and safety of workers in their workplaces and sets their rights and responsibilities. Some of these regulations most commonly include: the right to refuse unsafe work, the health and safety policy, and the prohibition of discriminatory action. Under the safety guidelines and regulations of Newfoundland and Labrador’s OHS Act, there is a section that focuses on working alone and the risks and provincial regulations that come with it. The general definition of a worker who is “working alone”, as provided by the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador website states: “Individuals are alone at work when on their own; they cannot be seen or heard by another worker; cannot expect a visit from another worker or member of the public for some time; and/or where assistance is not readily available when needed.” Individuals working alone need to be able to recognize they may be putting themselves at risk.




Employees who handle cash, meet clients outside the official workplace, do any type of travel isolated from interaction with others and/or the public, may encounter the greatest risks when working alone. For instance, a home care worker’s tasks may require that they take on various home visits, in which case they are placing themselves alone in a potentially hazardous or violent situation. It is important for both employers and workers to take into account the wide span of lone working situations and their hazards, so that workers can achieve the proper training and develop the most effective health and safety strategies to manage these hazards. Employers are required to assess their workplaces and take preventive measures to eliminate or minimize hazards. Working alone is definitely a health and safety hazard that should be taken into consideration under regulations in all of Canada’s 13 provinces and territories. Every person who works alone should have access to the proper rights and regulations related to this topic, as it is an ongoing source of various and pending health and safety risks. There are countless general steps that can be put into action to help ensure worker safety, such as check-in procedures, assessing the workplace, and a method of outside contact. As an injury prevention initiative, Western

Health, one of Newfoundland and Labrador’s major employers, has begun to institute new working alone policies and procedures, in an attempt to minimize employee risk and reduce liability for the employer. This initiative will help ensure workplaces are safe.

NLOSHA scholarship contest winner

If a worker feels uncomfortable with a situation, whether before they go on the visit or once they arrive, there are very strict guidelines as to what they must do for personal protection. Western Health has even gone so far as to provide cell phones for employee use, as to ensure there is a direct line of contact.

Samantha Budden Once a staff member signs out of their Although still in the early stages, the new policies office to go on a home visit, an expected implemented by Western Health are constantly being time of return has to be documented. If the employee evaluated. Workers are required to sign in and out does not return by the established time, and does not at the beginning and end of the day, as well as for contact the designated person, another set of guidelines every home visit they conduct. Also, for each home is followed to ensure safety. This may entail making visit, a client risk assessment check sheet must be phone contact with the person, contacting an assigned completed, and the worker has to be aware to the manager or contacting the police. best of their ability, if there are risks associated with drug Workers need to be protected and employers need to use, potential violence, or any history that could put be aware of the potential dangers that exist. We need them at risk. to ensure that our workforce is safe at all costs because safety is everyone’s responsibility.

Consider these tips for greater safety when working alone • Talk to your boss and colleagues about your job, the hazards and how to minimize them.

Keep vehicles well-maintained to avoid breakdowns. Stock an emergency survival kit in the vehicle.

• See if work can be rescheduled so you do not have to work alone.

• When visiting a possibly intimidating client, take a taxi and have the driver wait outside.

• Set up a check-in system by which you call or page someone at regular intervals so they will know you are okay. Agree on a tracking method to be used if you are overdue.

• Handling cash or other valuables puts you at risk for violent robbery. Have your employer take steps to reduce the amount of cash on hand to lower the incentive for robbers.

• Carry a personal alarm, cell phone or two-way radio. Manage the batteries so you will always be able to get through.

• Have your work area arranged for maximum visibility from windows. Get training on how to avoid and handle a robbery, and learn to use the security system.

• Use a buddy system, taking another worker with you into higher risk situations.

An injury or a violent encounter can take the fun out of your work, so be prepared to work as safely as possible when you work alone. Source: Safety Toolbox Talks

• File a travel plan when you drive somewhere alone.




Safety is absolutely The power of safety in Churchill Falls By Conor Flanagan

Nalcor Energy’s massive Churchill Falls hydroelectric facility in Labrador is one of the largest underground powerhouses in the world, the second largest in North America. Its 11 turbines generate more than 5,400 megawatts, representing one per cent of the world’s hydroelectric power. Beyond the generating station, Churchill Falls includes a series of 88 dikes covering 64 kilometres and 11 intake gates and penstocks (large pipes for water flow). It’s a complex, highly-technical feat of engineering that includes valve controlling for incredible water flow, crucial air release vents, super-fast turbines and hundreds of other pieces of dynamic technical equipment, not to mention transformers that convert the energy to 735,000 volts before it is sent through high voltage transmission lines to market. Naturally safety is absolutely critical for the men and women who operate the stations, the company town of about 650, the environment and for the continued operation of the facility. To get an idea of Nalcor’s commitment to safety from a fresh set of eyes, safeworknews spoke to a Memorial University engineering student who worked at Churchill Falls this past summer. Second year engineering student Conor Flanagan, who also won of the 2011 Workplace Health, Safety and Compensation Commission $1,000 entrance scholarship, provided the following perspective: SN: What do you do at Churchill Falls? CF: We’ve been driving around to many of the dykes and penstocks, doing inspections, survey work, taking water flow readings, basically ensuring everything is working as it should be. SN: Sounds like you do a lot of driving. Are you required to back in to parking spots and do vehicle inspections before driving off? CF: Every single vehicle operated by Nalcor employees in Churchill Falls is backed into its parking space. As for vehicle inspections, there is a ‘five-by-five’ safety practice where you step back five paces and spend five minutes




critical for Nalcor SN: Are there any unusual jobs to be done: CF: In May and June we had to remove a lot of snow and ice from the outlying facilities and sometimes (the temperature) was in the high 20s or 30s. Then in the early summer we chopped up beaver dams with picks and shovels. No matter how hot it was, we always wore steel-toed boots and protective coveralls. SN: So is safety always taken seriously?

SN: What if everything looks fine one week? CF: There’s always something you can report. Sometimes it’s just a couple of particularly bad potholes in the roads. We put those in the report so others can be sure to avoid them. SN: As a student and new worker do the others take your SWOP reports seriously? CF: I’m pretty sure they do. In August, another engineering student and I had to give the monthly safety report. Everyone on the team takes a turn and the reports have to be filed to the main office. They are taken very seriously.

CF: Yes. Every single day starts off with a 15 to 30-minute safety briefing. We’re reminded to drive very carefully on dusty roads – no overtaking – especially in construction zones, and to absolutely always wear protective gear, including sun protection. The effects of the sun are worse in the snow due to the refraction index so we even have to put sunscreen inside our nostrils.

SN: So is safety something everyone has to take responsibility for?

SN: What else do you cover in safety briefings?

CF: Maybe not the exact wording but they are:

CN: We’ve done radio practice in case you get stuck in the truck, high-voltage safety, clean water safety, and of course lots on underground safety.

‘I will take the time to do my work safely.’

SN: Can you give me an example? CN: We went over the safety procedure for taking the elevator down to the powerhouse. It’s a 1,000-foot, four-minute ride. You’ve got to sign in and out whenever you go in the elevator, and there are a couple of stops on the way. One time we stopped to inspect the surge chamber and noticed burnt out light bulbs, so we reported that.

CF: It sure seems to be. They also have warning and hazard posters all over the place reminding us of safe practices, and there are several safety messages we see all the time. SN: Do you remember any of them?

‘I will take care of unsafe practices.’ ‘I will report any near misses or dangers.’ And then there’s a commitment along the lines of: ‘See it. Fix it. Report it.’ Of course you don’t try to fix something if it’s dangerous or breaks any of the other rules. SN: That’s pretty good. The Commission has three key messages for young people, have you heard any of those?

SN: Do you have to report every safety issue, regardless of how big or small?

CF: I know we have the right to refuse unsafe work. That’s made clear.

CF: Not only that, we have a program called SWOP, Safe Work Observation Program, where everyone has to identify a safety hazard and put in a report at least once a week. The light bulbs were our issue that week.

SN: The others are the right to know about potential hazards and the right to participate in safety meetings, briefings and conversations. It sounds like you’ve got those covered up there. CF. We sure do.



Photograph by Randy Dawe

reviewing the situation before starting a task. You look around and sort of walk through the task in your mind to see if there are any hazards.


NewsFlash Talk on theRock By Carla King Plan to attend Talk on the Rock, a three-day conference on the prevention of known occupational disease, to be held at the Delta St. John’s Hotel and Conference Centre from October 1-3, 2012. The conference is being promoted in partnership by the Canadian Occupational Health Nurses Association, the Association of Occupational Health Nurses of Newfoundland and Labrador, and the Workplace Health, Safety and Compensation Commission.


Dr. Chris Martin

Dr. Ian Arnold

The purpose of the conference is to advance the occupational health and safety agenda by connecting science with the workplace, enabling a clearer understanding of known occupational diseases, the prevention of known occupational diseases, and the roles and responsibilities of all employers and employees in the workplace. The event will feature a variety of speakers, with keynotes by several occupational disease experts, including Dr. Chris Martin, Dr. Suzanne Arnold and Dr. Ian Arnold. Some of the topics being presented include: Disease and the Workplace: It Really is a Matter of Prevention; Occupational Disease Research in Canada and International Trends; Developing a Canadian Workplace Standard of Psychological Health and Safety, and Occupational Health Nursing: Role in Prevention of Occupational Disease. There will also be a dramatic performance by Mikaela Dyke from her play Dying Hard, portraying several residents of the Town of St. Lawrence.

Talk on the Rock, a conference on the Prevention of Known Occupational Disease, Delta St. John’s Hotel and Conference Centre from October 1-3, 2012

This dynamic event will be of significance to health and safety professionals, occupational health nurses, physicians, industrial hygienists, occupational health and safety committee members, worker health and safety representatives/delegates, employers, workers, industry safety associations, unions, training providers, researchers, and students specializing in occupational health.

For further details on the conference, visit:, or contact Pamela Wells at: 709-777-3181, Kelly Nichols at: 709-739-6022 or Lynn O’Grady at: 709-576-8433.


Dr. Suzanne Arnold

Between 2003 and 2010, there were 112 occupational disease-related deaths reported in Newfoundland and Labrador. Preventing workplace injuries, illnesses and occupational disease is everyone’s responsibility and education and awareness are keys to prevention. While occupational disease is broad, multi-factorial, often involving long latency periods, the work we do today to promote awareness will have a large impact on preventing the occupational diseases of tomorrow.

safeworknews 16

Safety is good news. Is safety something that brightens your day – or an opportunity to breathe a sigh of relief? At the Workplace Health, Safety and Compensation Commission, safety is good news! Take for example when the provincial government introduces legislation to protect people who work from heights or in confined spaces – that’s good news. Or, when you spot and report a workplace hazard that could potentially harm you or your co-workers – that’s good news. What about when you hear of educational workshops being held on a variety of occupational health and safety topics – that’s also good news. The prospect of becoming injured in a workplace accident, or developing an occupational disease is something no one wants to experience, so with that in mind, I have more good news. Behind every commitment to health and safety there should be a series of disciplined principles and beliefs. Taking the extra time to spot hazards, assess risks and just develop good safety awareness, will go a long way towards keeping you safe on the job. Accidents often happen because people take shortcuts, are over confident or start tasks without proper instruction. There have also been injuries to workers due to poor housekeeping or ignoring safety altogether. We can never be too cautious when it comes to our health and safety. Here are some examples of behaviors for good safety awareness that I read recently in a Safety Toolbox Talk: • Before you begin a job, consider how to do it more safely • Ensure you know how and when to use personal protective equipment • As you work, check your position to reduce strain on your body • Become aware of any changes in your work area, such as people coming or going, jobs beginning or ending • Start talking with others about safety In the words of Mark Twain – “It is better to be careful 100 times than to get killed once.”

Kathy Dicks-Peyton, Editor

Kathy Dicks-Peyton is the Manager of Communications and Event Planning with the Workplace Health, Safety and Compensation Commission

Give us your insight on safeworknews content, or topics for discussion relating to employer assessments, workers’ compensation, and workplace health and safety.

safeworknews c/o Workplace Health, Safety and Compensation Commission 146-148 Forest Road or send us an email: P.O. Box 9000 St. John’s NL A1A 3B8

Send your comments to:

Congratulations to Sobeys Inc. on receiving a total PRIME refund of $1 million for the period 2005-2011, from the Commission. From left: Karen Humby, Commission Health and Safety Advisor; Jason Byrne, Sobeys NL Human Resources Manager; Kim Lynch, Sobeys NL Claims Manager; Denise Evans, Commission Case Manager and Karen Butler, Central Rehab Occupational Therapist.




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WHSCC Prevention Services Workshop Series Programs that give employees the skillsets they need to do their jobs safely. There is no charge for these sessions


FREE Safety Awareness Sessions Fall 2012 September – OHS Committees (9 am – 1 pm) 11 – Wabush - Wabush Hotel 13 – Happy Valley-Goose Bay Hotel North 18 – Grand Falls-Windsor Mount Peyton Hotel 19 – Gander - Albatross Hotel 20 – Clarenville - St. Jude Hotel 24 – St. John’s - Comfort Inn 25 – St. John’s - Comfort Inn 27 – Marystown - Braxton Suites

10 – Corner Brook - Pepsi Center 11 – Stephenville - Holiday Inn 16 – Grand Falls-Windsor Mount Peyton 17 – Gander - Albatross Hotel 18 – Clarenville - St. Jude Hotel 22 – St. John’s - Comfort Inn 23 – St. John’s - Comfort Inn 25 – Marystown - Braxton Suites 29 – St. John’s - Comfort Inn

September – New Employer Workshop (12 -2 pm) 10 – St. John’s - Comfort Inn 12 – Grand Falls-Windsor Mount Peyton Hotel 18 – Corner Brook - Pepsi Center

October – PRIME (9 am – 1 pm) 3 – Grand Falls-Windsor Mount Peyton Hotel 9 – St. John’s - Comfort Inn 11 – Marystown - Braxton Suites 16 – Wabush - Wabush Hotel 24 – Corner Brook - Pepsi Center

October – Ergonomics Musculoskeletal Injury (MSI) (9 am – 4 pm) 2 – Wabush - Wabush Hotel 4 – Happy Valley-Goose Bay Hotel North

November – Occupational Disease (9 am – 4 pm) 6 – Corner Brook - Pepsi Center 7 – Stephenville - Holiday Inn 9 – St. John’s - Comfort Inn 13 – St. John’s - Comfort Inn

14 – St. John’s - Comfort Inn 16 – Marystown - Braxton Suites 20 – Grand Falls-Windsor Mount Peyton Hotel 21 – Gander - Albatross Hotel 22 – Clarenville - St. Jude Hotel 27 – Wabush - Wabush Hotel 28 – Happy Valley-Goose Bay Hotel North To register, call Heather Rogers at: 709-778-2926 or 1-800-563-9000, Fax: 709-778-1587 or email: Registration must be received no later than one week prior to the session. Sessions may be cancelled due to lack of registered participants. Notification of cancellation will be provided to registered participants one week prior to the scheduled session.

Are you a safety leader? Executive business leaders (such as those holding titles of CEO, President, Owner, Operator, etc.) are eligible for nomination to the CEO Safety Charter. CEOs can nominate themselves, via an employee, current signatory or the Commission. Visit our website at: for more information, or contact: Donna Ivey, CEO Safety Charter Administrator at: 709-778-6983.

safework news - Volume 3, Issue 2, Fall 2012  

The Workplace Health, Safety and Compensation Commission safework news is a 24-page magazine highlighting occupational health and safety bes...

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