Category Archives: Health & Safety

ProntoForms offers free trial for oh&s product

ProntoForms Corporation in Kanata, Ont. is offering a free 30-day trial for health and safety forms on phone and tablets. The product offers the ability to build unlimited custom mobile forms to dispatch to mobile users in the field for quick, streamlined data collection. Users can: add an image and sketch on top of it to provide a visual of site-related activities and better report on job site issues; capture in-form signatures from clients and workers, to ensure official signoff or work authorization; and view location and time of work performed, for accurate timesheet/work order data. For more information, visit

SAFER Water Treatment™ software launched

SAFER® Systems, a provider of integrated chemical emergency response solutions, has launched SAFER Water Treatment™ — software designed for water treatment facilities to maximize their chemical monitoring and emergency response efforts. The company, based in Westlake Village, CA, said in a release that the software is designed to mitigate the effects of a chemical release before, during and after an event. For example, the software: improves response planning and training exercises while complying with local and federal regulations; automatically updates chemical release models with live data from gas sensors and weather stations, providing information for evacuation and saving lives; and allows for effective response to post-release litigation and improved preparedness for the future with comprehensive model and data archives. For more information, visit

About 40 per cent of workers wouldn’t disclose mental health problems: study

Although nearly four in 10 workers wouldn’t tell their managers if they had mental health problems, half said that if they knew about a co-worker’s illness, they would want to help, a new survey by the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) has found.

The survey, “Worker attitudes towards mental health problems and disclosure,” was published recently in the International Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine. Headed by Dr. Carolyn Dewa, senior scientist with CAMH in Toronto, the study revealed that workers have both negative and supportive attitudes about mental health in the workplace.

Dr. Dewa said that the survey had asked 2,219 working adults in Ontario: “Would you inform your manager if you had a mental health problem? And, if a colleague had a mental health problem, would you be concerned about how work would be affected?”

Among the 38 per cent who would not tell their manager, more than half were afraid that it would affect their careers, the study found. Other reasons for not disclosing included the bad experiences of others who came forward, fear of losing friends or a combination of those reasons.

The survey also found that three in 10 people wouldn’t tell because it wouldn’t affect their work. A total of 64 per cent said that they would be concerned if a worker had a mental illness, and one in five also worried about making the mental health problem worse.

According to a statement from CAMH, a positive relationship with their manager was the key reason given by those who would reveal that they had a mental health problem. Supportive organizational policies were cited by half of those who would disclose as another factor influencing their decision.

Dr. Dewa said that her past research had shown that workers with depression who received treatment were more productive than those who didn’t. Without disclosing, it might be difficult to get treatment, as work absences for counselling sessions or appointments need to be accounted for, she noted. “Stigma is a barrier to people seeking help,” Dr. Dewa said. “Yet by getting treatment, it would benefit the worker and the workplace, and minimize productivity loss.”

For organizations that want to address the stigma surrounding mental illness, Dr. Dewa recommended a number of elements to be in place, including policies and procedures, as well as facilitating positive relationships between managers and co-workers.

Statistics from CAMH show that in any given year, about one in five Canadians experiences a mental health or addiction problem.

TSB raises concerns over Lac-Mégantic response

The Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB) has said that it remains concerned about Transport Canada’s (TC) response to outstanding recommendations stemming from its investigation into the train derailment in Lac-Mégantic, Que. in July 2013.

Kathy Fox, chair of the TSB, said in a statement that TC was still taking steps to address the rail safety deficiencies identified in the safety board’s investigation. “With respect to preventing runaway trains, TC has introduced multiple layers of defences that, if fully implemented, will significantly reduce risks,” Fox said. “But with respect to TC auditing and oversight activities, we are concerned that the department has not yet put in place an effective oversight regime that guarantees all railways will be audited in sufficient breadth and frequency to ensure safety issues are addressed in a timely manner.”

Regarding prevention of runaway trains (unattended equipment), the TSB investigation determined that more robust defences are required to prevent runaway trains. “Even if they have a low probability of occurrence, these events can have extreme consequences, particularly if they involve dangerous goods — as was seen in Lac-Mégantic,” the statement noted.

Last October, TC issued an Emergency Directive, which expires on April 29, to address weaknesses in the Canadian Rail Operating Rules pertaining to the securement of equipment. Along with a standardized hand brake chart and explicit instructions for hand brake effectiveness testing, additional securement measures must be used. TC has also said that it will hire additional specialized staff to strengthen oversight related to train securement. “If the proposed measures are fully implemented on a permanent basis, the risk of runaway equipment will be significantly reduced,” the statement said. “Therefore, the board assesses the response as having Satisfactory Intent.”

The TSB also recommended that TC audit safety management systems (SMS) of railways in sufficient depth and frequency to confirm that the required processes are effective and that it implement corrective actions to improve safety. The TSB said that while significant progress has been made, “TC has not yet demonstrated that it has implemented an effective oversight regime to ensure all railways will be adequately audited. Furthermore, TC has not committed to auditing every SMS component within a given time period. As a result, deficiencies within a railway’s SMS may not be identified and addressed in a timely manner; therefore, the board assesses the response as being Satisfactory in Part.”

“The Minister of Transport and the department have taken strong action to improve rail safety in the wake of the Lac-Mégantic tragedy, but more work needs to be done,” Fox concluded in the statement. “We will continue to monitor the department and rail industry’s progress in implementing new regulations and procedures introduced by TC. Canadians deserve no less than the safest transportation system.”

At about 1:15 a.m. on July 6, the Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Railway train derailed near the centre of Lac-Mégantic, spilling about six million litres of petroleum crude oil. The ensuing blaze and explosions killed 47 people, destroyed much of the downtown core and forced about 2,000 people from their homes.

Forklift accident claims life of worker at B.C. packing plant

WorkSafeBC is currently investigating the death of a worker who was run over by a forklift in a packing plant in North Delta, a bedroom community in Greater Vancouver, on Jan. 20.

The incident occurred at the Cratex Industrial Packing Ltd. plant on the afternoon of that day. According to A/Sgt. Sarah Swallow, media relations officer with the Delta Police, officers responded to two 9-1-1 calls at about 2:30 p.m.

“When our officers arrived on the scene, they found a 36-year-old man that had been run over by a forklift,” said A/Sgt. Swallow. “From what I understand, it was sort of one of the more industrial-sized forklifts.” First responders tried to help the worker, but he died at the scene, she added.

The police found no evidence of any criminal nature to the incident. “It looks like it was just a really, really tragic accident,” said A/Sgt. Swallow.

WorkSafeBC received notification about the accident through its prevention line at 2:57 p.m., according to Trish Knight Chernecki, the organization’s senior manager of media and government relations. The police immediately handed the case over to WorkSafeBC as an oh&s investigation.

Chernecki confirmed general information, but could not provide further details. “Because it’s under investigation, all we know is the initial action request. That’s all we have,” she said. The victim’s name has not been released publicly.

This was the second death from a forklift accident in the area since October, A/Sgt. Swallow said, adding that industrial accidents involving forklifts and similar vehicles are not uncommon there.

“Certainly a lot of the industrial accidents we do go to do involve some sort of vehicle backing up,” she said. “The forklift is usually backing up or making a backwards turn.”

WorkSafeBC’s website contains multiple resources for employers and workers about forklift safety. “Injuries do occur with forklifts,” said Chernecki, “and it’s been something that we’ve been wanting to build public awareness about.”

Among the safety tips that WorkSafeBC offers regarding the operation of forklifts around other workers:

  • Keep a clear view of the travel path;
  • When vision becomes blocked, slow down and sound the horn;
  • Drive at a speed that allows you to stop safely and easily;
  • When another worker is crossing the travel path, stop the forklift and lower the load to the ground until the way is clear;
  • Never raise or lower the load while the vehicle is in motion; and
  • Whenever possible, keep the forklift well away from other workers.

Cratex was founded in 1975 and currently owns a large warehouse and manufacturing building in North Delta.

Ontario worker dies after being struck by concrete block

Ontario’s Ministry of Labour (MOL) has issued 11 compliance orders against a farm following a workplace fatality.

According to MOL spokesperson William Lin, the Niagara Regional Police Service (NRPS) contacted the ministry at about 10:35 a.m. on Jan. 22 to report the fatality, which occurred at 262 Roland Road in Fonthill. “Police reported that a concrete block had fallen off a tractor and onto the worker,” Lin said, noting that the incident occurred at White Meadows Farms. “Emergency medical services attended the scene, and the worker was pronounced dead on the scene.”

Lin said that the MOL dispatched an inspector to the scene, as well as an engineer. On that same day, the ministry issued 11 orders related to protecting workers when moving concrete blocks, a procedure and plan to remove the concrete block involved in the incident, posting of the Occupational Health and Safety Act in the workplace and preparing health and safety policies and training. “It is my understanding these orders currently remain in progress,” Lin said on Jan. 27.

Sgt. Rich Gadreau, social media officer with the NRPS, said that at about 9:30 a.m. on Jan. 22, local police officers, emergency medical services personnel and firefighters responded to the accident, which claimed the life of the 36-year-old worker. The NRPS continues to assist the MOL in investigating the accident, Sgt. Gadreau said, adding that the identity of the deceased man was not being released at the request of his family.

The company declined to comment on the incident, but released a statement on its Facebook page. “As a family farm, White Meadows Farms has deep connections with our customers and staff alike,” the statement read. “In this tragic event, we have felt the love of the people around us and thank everyone for their support. As the investigation is ongoing, we are giving the Ministry of Labour and the police our full cooperation.”

Officer acted lawfully: ASIRT

MA-ME-OH BEACH, Alta. — The Alberta Serious Incident Response Team (ASIRT) has determined that an RCMP officer who shot and killed a man while conducting an impaired-driving investigation acted properly in the execution of his duties. On Aug. 3, 2013, the officer stopped the driver of a vehicle with three passengers near Ma-Me-Oh Beach, the Alberta RCMP said in a media release, adding that one passenger was also shot and wounded. ASIRT said that the officer’s use of force in self-defence had been reasonable and justified. The affected officer has been on duty at the RCMP’s Wetaskiwin detachment since the incident.

WorkBC holds Find Your Fit tour stop

PORT ALBERNI, B.C. — WorkBC recently held its Find Your Fit tour stop in Port Alberni. The interactive, hands-on experience took place at the Alberni District Secondary School on Jan. 15 and 16, B.C.’s Ministry of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training said in a statement. Find Your Fit featured a variety of interactive activity stations about exploring many careers, including welding, carpentry and accounting, and connected youth with WorkBC’s labour market information, tools and services. The statement said that by 2022, B.C. is expecting one million job openings created by retirements and the province’s growing economy. More than 78 per cent of jobs will require some form of post-secondary education, and 44 per cent will need skilled trades and technical workers, the statement added.

Construction worker seriously injured in fall

A construction worker has sustained serious injuries from a fall at an industrial site in Barrie, Ont.

At about 1:45 p.m. on Jan. 19, an employee of Solar Erectors Ltd. was working at the site of a new medical centre under construction when he fell into a stairway. According to Barrie Police Service spokesperson Sgt. Dave Goodbrand, the worker fell off a ledge and struck his head, sustaining “substantial” injuries. The worker was transported to the Royal Victoria Regional Health Centre, but no further information about his condition was available by COHSN press time.

William Lin, a spokesperson for Ontario’s Ministry of Labour (MOL), confirmed that the ministry was investigating the incident. He said that nine oh&s orders and three requirements had been issued to the constructor, Succession Development Corporation, the worker’s employer, Solar Erectors Ltd., and the primary employer, Coreslab Structures (Ont) Inc.

Solar Erectors was ordered to provide photographs taken at the site of the incident and return fall protection equipment to its original location. It was also required to provide copies of specific documents.

Succession Development Corporation was ordered to:

* Provide photographs taken at the site of the incident;

* Provide a means of protection from protruding rebar;

* Ensure that employees are working with an adequate means of fall protection;

* Conduct no further work on the second level until the aforementioned orders are complied with on the project (this order was lifted on Jan. 21);

* Provide a written plan on how workers will work safely; and

* Submit that written plan.

The company was also required to provide copies of specific documents and provide a copy of the Notice of Project for Coreslab Structures.

Finally, Coreslab was ordered to provide copies of specific documents.