Keeping New & Young Workers Safe

This is the time of the year when young workers/students are entering our workforce. Research has shown that workers, who are new on the job have higher rates of incidents & injuries than more experienced workers. In fact, most injured workers are under the age of 25 years.

When hiring new workers &/or university students, it is important to include health & safety as part of their training. For the benefit of all workers, schedule regular health & safety meetings with your team.

Develop a work culture that looks out for one another & is open to safety training & discussions. Experienced workers have insight as to what can go wrong on the job. Have them coach & look out for new workers at the job site.

Most workplaces have safety rules, unfortunately not everyone follows the rules. When your children get their first summer job, don’t rely on strangers to keep them safe. Talk to them about accidents that can happen on the job & teach them to take responsibility for their own safety. A safe work ethic is a life skill that no one wants to learn the hard way.

When starting a new job, ask if there will be on the job training. Find out what the hazards of the job are. Is there a health & safety orientation that goes over equipment operation, required safety gear, emergency procedures etc. Find out, who to talk to about health & safety concerns & what to do if injuries happen.

By law, everyone has the right to refuse work that may be dangerous to themselves or others. If unsure about your safety on the job, don't do it. Don't ignore the problem either. Talk to someone about your safety concerns. Take a stand/the lead & prevent serious injuries from happening to yourself & your co-workers.

Everyone should take responsibility for keeping new & young workers safe. Workplace safety should be a team effort. Do your part to ensue that everyone gets home safe at the end of the work day. 

Expect the Unexpected

Plan for safety. When you are least expecting it, the unexpected can happen. Are you prepared for emergencies at work, at home, on road trips & while enjoying recreational activities?

Prepare! Make wise choices! The key is to “think of emergencies that could happen before they happen”.

After identifying possible emergency scenarios, make a plan of action & rehearse how you would respond. Ensure that you have everything you’ll need (make a checklist & gather all items). Make sure your family, friends & co-workers know what to do.

Regardless of what you are doing, expect the unexpected. You may be the 1st person to arrive at the scene of a medical emergency. You may have to call 911, comfort the ill or injured or give first aid. Be prepared. Take first aid training: It will give you a plan of action & will give you the confidence to react.

Take the time to be safe! Ask questions. Check for hazards & wear safety gear. Don't take short-cuts when it comes to safety. 

Give yourself a little extra time so that you aren’t feeling stressed. Slow down. Motor vehicle collisions happen too often. Leave a little extra room between vehicles when driving.  The vehicle in front of you may unexpectedly change lanes, brake or loose control. 

Stop & think. Take actions to ensure the safety & survival of yourself & others! If the unexpected happens, know what to do. Always have a back-up plan. Stay safe & survive!

How to Shovel Snow without Hurting Yourself

It is a winter wonderland out there. Actually it is a big icy snowy mess. As the City works at clearing our roads, you & I work at clearing our sidewalks & driveways. It is a lot of work & good exercise. However, if we are not careful, shovelling snow can lead to injuries & fatalities.

We are at risk of injuries because of the heavy workload (that we are not used to doing) & because of the cold (poor blood circulation contributes to frost bite, hypothermia & heart attacks). Injuries also result because of falls, slipping on the ice/snow. Here are 10 tips to prevent snow shovelling injuries.

Snow Shovelling Injury Prevention Tips

1)       Shovelling can be a strenuous physical activity. Do a few warm-up exercises. Move muscles through their full range of motion. Keep motions slow & controlled. Try push & pull arm motions, circle your shoulders in both directions, trunk rotations/twists & a few knee bends/squats (for example). A light cardio warm-up will also help (dance to a good song on the radio).

2)       Dress for the weather. Layer clothing with nylon or silk fibres closest to the skin. Avoid cotton. Cotton will absorb your sweat & keep it next to your skin (making you cold). Wear a hat & good gloves. Warm boots with good tread/grip are also a must. 

3)       Shovel often. Get it done before it piles up. Don’t wait until it gets wet & heavy. It takes more effort to move the heavy stuff (put less on the shovel).

4)       Use a shovel with a plastic blade (lighter in weight). The blade doesn’t have to be big. It is best to push/lift smaller amounts of snow. Smaller scoops/lighter loads will be easier on your back.

5)       Use a shovel designed for pushing snow. Pushing snow, instead of lifting it, is easier on the back.

6)       Ergonomic curved handles, can also help to reduce stress on your back. The handle should be close to your body (avoid out stretched arms). Keep the handle at waist height as you push the snow. When lifting snow, keep your hands farther apart on the handle (for leverage). 

7)       Keep your body in good alignment/posture while shovelling. Have a wider based of support with your legs. Bend at your knees & hips, tighten your stomach muscles & lift with your legs. Never lift while twisting & turning. Make sure that your toes are pointing in the direction that you are pushing/throwing (always throw snow in front of you).

8)       Take your time. Pace yourself (a slow but sure approach). Don’t overexert. Take breaks. Stay hydrated (avoid caffeine). Warm your ears, nose, fingers or toes if they get cold.

9)       Shovelling is good exercise. If you have a neighbour that can’t shovel snow due to an injury or medical condition, offer to help. Be a snow angel.

10)   If you have a heart condition or high blood pressure, check with your doctor (snow shovelling may not be recommended). We all need help sometimes. Remember, you can always hire someone to help you. Ask a neighbour’s kid, post a sign at the local convenience store or community centre or hire a snow removal service.

A back ache can be very painful & can affect your quality of life. We need strong backs for work & every day activities. Rehabilitation can be a long & costly process. Prevent injuries & cold weather emergencies in the first place. Take care when shovelling snow & stay well!

Prevent the Flu & Stay Healthy this Winter

The cold & flu season has started. Lets hope that we can all avoid those nasty viruses & stay healthy this winter.

You  don’t always have to be around someone who is coughing & sneezing to catch a virus. Most people are unaware when they are contagious/sharing a cold or flu bug. After being infected with the virus, you may not show symptoms for days.  

Viruses are usually transmitted through indirect contact: touching something that has the virus on it (for example water faucets, door knobs, hand rails, money, keyboards & phones). Viruses can also be transmitted through direct contact with body fluids (wiping your kid's nose) or through the air (inhaling an airborne droplet after someone sneezes).

Take the following preventative measures & reduce your risk of catching the flu. Stay healthy this winter.

Preventing the Flu

-       Vaccinations help to protect against the flu. They are especially recommended for young children, pregnant women & the elderly, as well as people with low immune systems & respiratory medical conditions. If you live with/care for people, who are more at risk for catching the flu, get vaccinated (to prevent from passing it to them). The flu vaccine is free & available for everyone. I am getting mine today. 

-       Wash your hands with soap & water often. Scrub with soap for at least 15 - 20 seconds which is how long it takes to sing the ABC song. Wash your hands as soon as you come home from work or other public places like your grocery store. Wash your fruit & vegetables & your hands before eating.

-       Keep bottle of alcohol based hand sanitizer & box of tissues at your desk. Clean/disinfect your phone, keyboard & desk on a regular basis. Use an alcohol wipe to clean your brief case, laptop bag or purse.

-       Avoid close contact with someone who has a cold. If caring for a sick family member; clean/disinfect surfaces throughout the house daily. Teach sick children to cough & sneeze into a tissue (or into their elbow if a tissue isn’t handy). Teach them to throw their tissues in the garbage & wash their hands after.

-       Stay home from work/school when sick to prevent from spreading the disease. Don’t take sick kids to daycare. Don’t go to the gym to sweat it out. You are only sharing your virus. When sick stay home, your body needs rest.

-       Avoid touching your eyes, nose & mouth. If you must rub your eyes, wash your hands first. Keep your mouth clean by rinsing/gargling with salty water.

-       Get enough sleep, reduce stress, get exercise & eat healthy foods/balanced meals. Eat lots of fruits rich in antioxidants & vitamin C. Drink water & stay hydrated.

-       While healthy living is the best prevention, over the counter products such as Echinacea &/or ColdFX may also help with cold/flu prevention. Opinions about these products vary. Talk to your pharmacist or physician. 

Being sick with the flu is no fun at all. I hope these flu prevention tips work. Stay well!

Prevent Heat Emergencies

Finally, summer has arrived. I love days like this. The sun is bright & it is hot outside. Everyone is different with regards to how their bodies react to the heat. When our bodies have trouble cooling, the result may be heat cramps, heat exhaustion or heat stroke. Heat stroke can be fatal.

The following are more at risk when it comes to heat emergencies:

-          Young children & the elderly

-          People who do physical work or strenuous exercise while outdoors (in the heat & hot sun)

-          People neglecting to drink enough water/fluids & therefore becoming dehydrated

-          People who have experienced a heat or cold related emergency in the past

-          People with health problems. People who have heart disease or other conditions that cause poor circulation. People who take medications to eliminate water from the body. 

Stay cool on hot days. Prevent Heat Emergencies:

-          Dress light. Wear loose fitting, light-coloured & lightweight clothing. Natural fabrics, like cotton, are best in the summer as they breathe. Wear a hat & sunglasses.

-          Avoid being out in the sun the hottest time of the day. Prevent sunburns; wear sunscreen with high SPF. Re-apply often if sweating or swimming.

-          Avoid strenuous outdoor activities & exercise on extremely hot days.

-          If you work outside, revise your work schedule so that you can get the hardest work done early morning or early evening, when it is cooler. Do lighter work when the temperatures are high & take frequent breaks in the shade.

-          Drink plenty of cool fluids to stay hydrated (water is the best). Avoid alcohol & drinks with caffeine.

-          Eat cool foods & light meals. Eat more salads (full of satisfying fresh veggies). Treat your family to popsicles, watermelon & fruit smoothies.

-          Keep your house cool & cook outdoors on the BBQ instead of using your oven. Keep windows & curtains closed when the hot sun is shining in. Set up fans around the house. We have a fan blowing cool air upstairs from our basement.

-          Visit air conditioned buildings, like a shopping mall or movie theatre.

-          Visit a pool or set-up the sprinkler in your yard for the kids. Getting yourself wet, helps to keep you cool.

I am optimistic that this warm weather will be around for a while. Enjoy but stay cool & stay well!

I also recommend that you take a first aid class so that you can recognize the signs & symptoms of heat emergencies. Find out what to do to help. You could save a life. Check this link for first aid class dates:

Invite us to your next workplace lunch & learn or safety/toolbox meeting. We will share valuable health, wellness & injury prevention tips, similar to the blog above. Contact us for more information, call: 403 481 8175.

What Would You Do?

What would you do if you were home alone and began to choke on your dinner. What would you do if an elderly relative has a bad fall. What if a friend you are with has a severe allergic reaction, diabetic emergency or heart attack. What if you were the first to arrive on the scene of a motor vehicle collision. What would you do to help until the ambulance arrived? 

If you are home alone and choking, follow these 3 steps:

1) Dial 911 & leave it off the hook (the dispatcher will send help). This 1st step is so important. Get help quick. Without oxygen, brain damage is possible in only 5 minutes. 

2) Move to a place where you will get noticed. Unlock your door & stay near the open doorway. 

3) Drop your abdomen onto a safe object like the back of a chair (try to dislodge the object with improvised abdominal thrusts). 

You never know when you may have to utilize your first aid training to help yourself or others. Years ago, I was managing a fitness centre when a member alerted us to a gentleman slumped over the wheel of his car, in our parking lot. We found him unconscious & not breathing. We immediately called 911, performed two-man CPR. We also used the AED (automatic external difibrulator) when it arrived.

You never know how you will react in a real-life situation when someone’s life is on the line. Fortunately, we stayed calm & remembered our first aid training. I was proud of our efforts. Unfortunately we couldn’t save this gentleman (a blood vessel had burst in his brain).

While I have always done my best to stay safe & injury free, it is amazing how many people I have come across that needed my help. Now I always carry a cell phone & first aid kit (I have one at home, in my car & a smaller version for hiking). Are you prepared? What would you do if a loved-one, friend, co-worker or stranger needed your help?

Take first aid training, it isn’t difficult. You will learn how to prevent injuries & will gain confidence in your ability to react to real life & work medical emergencies. You could save a life.

Our next course is July 24 & 25th. Register today! Check this link for other dates:

Tips to Prevent Falls & Broken Bones

Did you know that seniors are more afraid of falling than they are of being mugged? Falls lead to injuries like broken bones, which can result in a loss of independence & can in fact be fatal. Regardless of age, you don’t have to fall from a great height to get seriously hurt. Getting hurt can result in a loss of income & increase of both debt & stress.

Getting hurt/breaking bones is just no fun at all. I should know, I fell down 2 stairs and broke my ribs 2 months ago. I am still limited in how much I can do, however I am definately on the path to recovery.

Bones provide structure, protect organs, anchor muscles and store calcium. To build strong bones and reduce the risk of bone injuries like osteoporosis, we need adequate calcium. We also need to do weight bearing activities/exercises.

Calcium is a mineral needed by the body for many reasons including the maintenance of healthy bones and teeth. The body cannot produce calcium; therefore, it must be absorbed through food or taken as a supplement. Vitamin D also plays an important role in healthy bone development. It helps in the absorption of calcium (this is why milk is fortified with vitamin D).

To keep bones healthy, we also need to do weight-bearing physical activity on a regular basis. If you don’t like resistance training, try walking, jogging, hiking, stair climbing, dancing, jumping rope, racquetball, basketball or soccer. I can't wait to go jogging again.

Prevention, of course, is the best medicine. Get in the habit of doing a quick safety audit or checklist before starting any task or activity. Prevent falls & broken bones by ensuring that:

-       you are focused, alert & aware of what is going on around you

-       you have what you need to be safe (training, safety gear, tools) & that all is in good condition

-       you are not rushed (slow down). Don’t take short cuts where safety is concerned.

-       you always use safe practices. For example, never standing at the very top of a ladder & use a non-slip mat in your bathtub.

-       the area is safe, well lit & there is nothing to trip on

Our health depends on strong bones. Try the tips above to stay strong & live long.

For more information on injury prevention call Go-Getters Inc (403 481 8175). Invite us to give a presentation at your next health & safety meeting or lunch & learn event. Workplace first aid courses are also offered. Treatment for broken bones & other medical emergencies will be covered.

See something unsafe? Do something about it!

I love Work Safe Alberta’s safety campaign/message: If you see something unsafe, do something about it. That’s how to prevent a workplace injury. This is an excellent message!

This message is highlighted in Work Safe Alberta’s new safety commercials. There are three television commercials telling the story of workplace incidents from the perspective of simple everyday objects. The stories that a bucket, ladder and nail share are educational. If you haven’t seen them, check them out. They are titled: Before it’s an Injury and can be found here: 

Workplace safety is everyone’s responsibility. Slow down. Focus and be alert to what is going on around you. Prevent injuries. Act if you see something unsafe. Fix it immediately if you can or tell someone in charge. Remind co-workers to be safe. It takes teamwork to make and keep a workplace injury free.

Would you & your co-workers know how to treat the medical emergencies that may have resulted in each video? Go-Getters Inc’s provides injury prevention and first aid training. We will give you and your co-workers the confidence to react to real-life/work medical emergencies. Contact us today!

Prevent Back Pain at Work

- Organize your work to eliminate/reduce high-risk & repetitive movements. Use safe lifting techniques.

- Adjust your workspace to ensure your monitor & chair are positioned safely. Avoid cradling your phone between your ear & shoulder.

- Pay attention to posture & don't bend forward to do your work. Adjust your chair so your feet stay flat on the ground.

- Listen to your body & change your position often. Take a 30 second time-out every 15 -20 minutes to stretch, move or relax. Stop activities that aggravate your back.

- Minimize hazards by removing anything that may cause you to fall. Wear comfortable non-slip shoes.

- Regular activity is your best bet in maintaining a healthy back. Strengthen your core, working your abdominal & back muscles. Stay flexible and strong. Maintain your coordination & balance.

- Maintain a healthy weight to minimize the load on your body's frame 

- Address mental health/stress concerns. Practice deep breathing, take a walk or talk to a trusted friend.

There are many other tips to prevent back pain at work. If you want to learn more about how to prevent aches, pains & injuries at work contact Go-Getters Inc. We'll educate your staff & will help them to put theory into practice.