Summer Health & Safety Hazards/Considerations You Need to Know About
Written by Jennifer Miller | Curriculum Development Coordinator
When it comes to summer work health and safety, there are a multitude of things to consider, far beyond the usual advice such as, “don’t forget sunscreen if you work outdoors!” and “drink more water on hotter days – especially if you work in a warm environment, like a kitchen!”
Sunny days and the promise of fun in the sun can sometimes induce a casual approach to things and create a shift away from thoughts of due diligence, the well-being of workers, and general health and safety. To keep workers safe through the sunny summer season, think about more than the heat. With the sun’s rays come many, many other potential hazards and dangers. Think of your organization and how many of these hazards could present themselves over the summer months, especially with regard to hiring young, temporary workers. Be proactive; anticipating hazards and controlling them before they result in workplace injuries or illnesses is the cornerstone of an effective health and safety program. Read the list of considerations below, and reflect on how they might apply to your organization.
1. Sunscreen and Hydration
As stated above, safety considerations when working outdoors are about more than wearing sunscreen and staying hydrated; however, these safety tips are important! Working outdoors doesn’t just apply to the jobs we typically think of, such as lifeguards or construction workers. Outdoor work also includes positions such as golf course staff, campground attendants, summer camp counselors, water park workers, servers, parks and recreations workers, etc. – the list goes on and on. What these positions share in common is that they all include some element of outdoor work that takes place during the summer.
It goes without saying that if your job involves working outdoors, that sunscreen and proper hydration are a must. Apply a minimum of SPF 30 prior to your shift and follow the directions on the bottle for re-application guidelines. Even if you’re in and out between a restaurant and a sunny patio, or a clubhouse and the golf course, sunscreen is required. In addition to wearing sunscreen, be sure to stay hydrated. Reusable BPA-free water bottles are the best option – some are now designed to keep water cool for up to eight hours, helping keep you both hydrated and cool on the job.
2. Insect Safety – Mosquitoes and Ticks
Outdoor workers may be exposed to conditions that make getting bitten by a mosquito or tick more likely. Mosquito bites carry the risk of transmitting many diseases, such as West Nile and Zika virus. A bite from an infected tick could cause Lyme disease or several other diseases. Employers must consider risks of bug bites in their general safety program if they are a potential workplace hazard.
Employers must do what is reasonable to protect outdoor workers from exposure to the risk of occupational illnesses.. The best way to do this is to develop a policy and safety program that educates outdoor workers on the risks of insect bites, and how to avoid them. Leading industry practice suggests that employers with outdoor workers provide insect repellent that contains DEET, and any other PPE deemed reasonable to reduce the risk of exposure.
3. Young Workers and Underage Workers
Minimum age requirements for employment vary by province and industry. Do you know the minimum age requirement in yours? Having this information is essential. Hiring summer help, especially in the restaurant industry or summer camps, typically means hiring young teens. These types of jobs are perfect for a young high schooler. But, be mindful of the different minimum age requirements for employment in your area.
Before hiring young workers, examine the job and what it entails. Ask yourself if a young worker looking for a part-time summer job is mature enough to handle the work. Additionally, decide what the job will pay. Ensure that you are familiar with the laws regarding minimum wages and student wages in your area. If the young worker is going to be working in the service industry, you will also need to know the law about minors who work around, or serve, alcohol. Furthermore, put policies in place to deal with tip-out if the summer staff will be included.
Ontario employers, click here to see the minimum age requirement for employment by industry in Ontario.
4. Driving Vehicles and Other Equipment
Employers are aware that to drive on the roadways, drivers need valid licenses. But, what about operating a motor vehicle on a private campground? What about using an ATV, riding mower, or farm equipment? What about golf carts? Do you see the bigger picture here? Some summer employment positions require driving equipment that may not necessarily be thought of as comparable to driving a car. An employer may not give a second thought to allowing unlicensed summer staff to operate a golf carts, even though they’d never allow them to drive the company car.
What’s important here is both the legislation in your area with regards to this, and also your company’s own policies. If your company has ATVs, golf carts, vehicles operated on private property, farm equipment, motorized boats, or so on, you need a policy to accompany their use. That policy should clearly state the license(s) required for operation, that no person who doesn’t hold the specific license should operate the vehicle, and a minimum age requirement if applicable. Remember, the minimum age requirement is a minimum, so if your company feels that the minimum is still too young, state the age that you feel is appropriate in your policy.
5. Minimum Age for Serving Alcohol
Each province has rules in place for serving alcohol. In Ontario, workers must be 18 years old, and be Smart Serve certified. Did you know that starting in July 2017 the grace period granted to employers of 60 days to get staff certified is going to be removed? That means that any worker over 18 serving alcohol in Ontario must have a Smart Serve certificate on the day that they start working – not within 60 days after starting work.
For more information about the grace period, please visit here.
If you intend for summer workers to serve alcohol, it is imperative that you comply with provincial laws. Employers may also want to consider whether a younger worker who was hired for other work has the potential to unintentionally serve alcohol. For example, a younger worker hired to pick up garbage and water plants at a golf course gets asked by a busy server to quickly run a drink order out to the 9th green. Eager to help, the worker complies, and your establishment has broken the law. Just like that, you can find yourself stripped of a license. The best way to avoid a scenario like that is to have sound policies in place, and ensure that all servers and managers are trained and understand the consequences of allowing underage workers to serve alcohol.
6. Workplace Violence and Harassment Training
All workplaces in Ontario are obligated to have a workplace violence and harassment policy and program in place. Younger workers and temporary staff may be unaware of their rights in the workplace, and what constitutes workplace violence or harassment (or what doesn’t). Be sure that you include training on your company’s program for all new and temporary summer workers.
Workplace violence and harassment does not just mean workers harassing other workers. The public is the most common source of workplace violence and harassment. If summer employees work with the public, they are at risk. They are also at risk if they deal with money, work alone, or work in an establishment where alcohol is served. Ensure that your program includes steps to keep all workers safe, and that all workers – even those only hired for the summer months – are properly trained on the program.
7. Summertime Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
When you hear the term Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), you may think of fall arrest/restraint harnesses, safety glasses, or hard hats. For staff that works outdoors, PPE could include sunglasses, sun hats, pool goggles, or light breathable clothing. Consider these things your summertime PPE, and don’t work without them!
When hiring summer staff, if you believe that some of the above summertime PPE would help an employee be more comfortable on the job, be sure to let them know about it in their orientation training.
8. Orientation and Basic Health and Safety Training for All Workers
Do not hire summer staff and send them to work without giving them basic orientation training that includes the mandated health and safety training. All workers should complete workplace violence and harassment, any applicable WHMIS training and worker awareness training. These training topics are required by legislation, so be sure to include them. Additionally, ensure that any workplace specific training of equipment is completed.
Orientation training will help workers feel more comfortable and set them up for success. They are only with your organization for a short time, but they will be telling a lot of people about their experiences with your company. Ensure that they make others want to apply next season by offering an orientation-training package that includes health and safety training.
9. Water Safety
Workers who work around water will require special consideration. Lifeguards, camp counselors, water park attendants, and campground staff will all be working in or around water. Proper certification for these different types of water exposure is a must! The certification requirements are different depending on the job. For example, a worker who is hired to guard a public pool may need more advanced certifications and training than a worker who requires minimal certifications to safely take kids canoeing.
For more information, click here to visit the Lifesaving Society’s page for National Lifeguarding Service.
Pools, ponds, and lakes are all ingrained in thoughts of summer – especially summer camp! Don’t assume that all summer workers have basic common sense when it comes to water safety. Refresh training with policies and reminders about running on the pool deck, wearing life jackets in canoes and kayaks, and using the buddy system when swimming.
10. Campsite Safety
Similar to workers who are exposed to water, workers who work in campsites also require some special considerations when it comes to health and safety. Primarily, these workers need to be trained in fire and animal safety. Campgrounds are a great place to get a summer job – the work is truly seasonal, with the peak season being the perfect time for high school students to earn some cash during their summer break. Ontario features many beautiful campgrounds and national parks, and they all need summer help to run efficiently.
Camping wouldn’t be camping without a fire! However, fires can create havoc if left unchecked, or not extinguished correctly. All staff need basic fire safety training, and an understanding of the fire warning system used in your province. In Ontario, if you have a fire in a fire-restricted area, you are breaking the law. Ensure employees understand the conditions under which an area may be restricted. As well, basic training for extinguishing fires and recognizing hazards is crucial to the safety of workers, the establishment, and the environment.
Campgrounds are also prone to some unexpected visitors. They can be as little as chipmunks, or as large as moose or bears, depending where in Canada you are. Employers must develop policies and training specific to the wildlife that staff may encounter. If your establishment is known to be frequented by bears looking to root through campers’ coolers, ensure that staff are aware of what to do – and what not to do – should they encounter one. Develop policies specific to your workplace, and ensure that all workers are trained: permanent, part-time, and temporary.
While summer may seem like the time to kick back and relax a bit at work, the above considerations suggest that for employers, the opposite is true. Summer is the time to get diligent, and get training! Some of the above may not apply to your workplace; however, it would be negligent not to consider how summer and hiring young and/or temporary staff might impact your business.
MOL’s Recent Focus on Young and New Workers
Written by Tushar Anandasagar | Associate Lawyer at LeClair and Associates
This summer, many employers across the province will hire summer students to bolster their workforces. While hiring students can provide valuable work experience and training opportunities (and short-term access to labour), employers need to be aware of potentially increased liability for workplace injuries or illnesses suffered by young and new workers.
The MOL classifies “young workers” as employees who are under age 25, and “new workers” as workers of any age who are on the job for less than 6 months or who are assigned to a new job. In May 2016, the Ministry of Labour (“MOL”) released statistics indicating that workers that are new to their jobs are 3 times more likely to be injured in their first month of employment than at any later time. Additionally, from 2010 to 2015, more than 6,000 young workers across Ontario were injured seriously enough to require time off work, amounting to 17 avoidable workplace injuries or illnesses to Ontario youth per day. Most significantly, there were 17 young worker fatalities from 2010 to 2015.
To address the higher rates of workplace injury and illness affecting this vulnerable category of workers, the MOL has renewed its commitment to ensuring that Ontario’s young and new workers are protected. On May 10, 2017, the MOL announced that its Inspectors would be conducting a series of province-wide blitzes to ensure that the health and safety of young and new workers’ is being protected.
A review of recent case law indicates that the MOL is issuing increasingly higher penalties against employers in cases involving young workers:
- November 2, 2016 – A Barrie-based construction employer pleaded guilty to charges under the OHSA, and was fined $100,000 when a young worker suffered permanent injuries after being pulled into an exposed pinch point on a construction site;
- October 7, 2016 – $50,000 fine after a young worker was injured when he fell through an open scrap chute;
- May 24, 2016 – $65,000 fine after an employee of an electrical company was injured in a fall of almost twenty-two (22) feet on the employer’s premises.
- January 25, 2016 – After a lengthy trial, a Toronto-based energy company was fined $280,000 because of the death of a young worker in a 2008 explosion.
To better equip young and new workers to deal with workplace hazards over the summer months, the MOL advises that employers, supervisors and trainers should emphasize the need for these workers to communicate any questions or concerns they may have about workplace safety to their supervisors immediately. The MOL has further indicated that supervisors or others who will be involved in training new workers must be familiar with the unique health and safety concerns faced by young and new workers.
To minimize the likelihood that an Inspector will find a breach of the OHSA, the MOL recommends that employers dedicate extra resources to training and supervising:
- New hires with or without experience in the industry;
- Existing workers starting a new job, being transferred, and/or returning after an extended absence;
- Workers who will benefit from retraining after a “near miss” incident or injury;
- Workers who will be working on a new or different work process or with new machinery;
- Seasonal workers;
- Student workers and co-op students;
- Temporary workers, regardless of their experience in the industry.
The MOL has published materials specifically aimed at young and new workers, such as its new “ONgov” Youtube Channel. The channel provides these workers with quick and easy access to short videos which discuss common workplace risks affecting summer workers (such as heat stress).
Additional MOL publications and resources that are aimed at young and new workers can be found on the MOL’s Website.
Tushar Anandasagar is an associate lawyer at LeClair and Associates P.C. He specializes in Labour and Employment law, with a focus on Workplace Policy Development and Regulatory Compliance.
Beat the Heat: Dealing with Hot Workplaces
Written by Jeff Thorne | Manager of Training and Consulting
Ahhhhhh summer, it’s finally upon us. The sun, the surf and the sand, and that high humidity that our Canadian summers can bring! Love it or hate it, it’s our climate. With those hot, hazy summer days, comes a workplace hazard that often goes overlooked: heat stress.
Employers have a duty to ensure that reasonable precautions are taken to protect the health and safety of workers. Hot workplaces such as foundries, canneries, chemicals plants, automotive manufacturing, commercial kitchens, bakeries, deep mines, and outdoor workers, are typical environments where heat is a byproduct from the work process. Very hot environments have the potential to overwhelm the body’s coping mechanisms and lead to potentially serious and fatal conditions.
“Heat stress is the net heat load to which a worker may be exposed from the combined contributions of metabolic heat, environmental factors (i.e. air temperature, humidity, air movement, and radiant heat), and clothing requirements. Metabolic heat is the heat produced by the body through chemical processes, exercise, hormone activity, digestion etc.”
The body is continuously trying to maintain a core temperature of approximately 37 degrees Celsius. Sweat is your bodies cooling mechanism, as it evaporates from the skin, it helps to cool the body. It is much harder for sweat to evaporate when the humidity is high, when clothing or equipment is tight and covers most of your skin, and when you are dehydrated (producing less sweat) or are taking certain medications, such as antihistamines or blood pressure medication.
Heat stress is a less serious condition than heat stroke. Symptoms of heat stress include clammy pale skin, heavily sweating, rapid pulse, headache, dizziness, nausea, muscle cramps, fatigue, shallow breathing, and dark urine.
Heat stroke is a serious, potentially fatal condition in which the body does not have the ability to cool itself. The body’s core temperature rises to a point where it can no longer produce sweat. Early symptoms of heat stroke include lack of sweat, hot dry skin, rapid pulse, and difficulty breathing. If body temperature is not reduced, symptoms may progress to confusion and disorientation, seizure, loss of consciousness, coma or death.
Preventing heat stress and heat stroke in the workplace needs to be done through proper heat stress management. There are a few keys to implementing a successful heat stress prevention program. Before managing heat stress, the following needs to be determined;
- Measurement and monitoring methods – Humidex, temperature reading instrumentation
- Sampling strategy – At what temperature to start monitoring, how often, location
- Response strategy – Rest breaks, job rotation, air conditioning, shutdown
- Training – When, content, how often
- Water – Ensuring there is a sufficient supply of potable water
- Reporting – First aid, critical injury, emergencies
Once the above has been completed, we can determine control measures. Controls can be broken down into general, specific and personal controls.
General controls start with implementation and training. The plan must be implemented and workers trained to recognize the signs and symptoms of heat stress and how to avoid them. On hot humid days with a sufficient work load, a cup of water should be consumed every 20 to 30 minutes. Workers must be given time to acclimatize to the heat. This could take up to two weeks. Humidex levels should be measured and work/rest cycles adjusted accordingly.
Specific controls can include shielding workers from radiant heat or providing fans when the temperature is below 35 degrees and less than 70 percent humidity. Fan use when temperature is above 35 degrees and 70 percent humidity will increase worker’s temperature. Additional controls include reducing manual material handling using carts, dollies and equipment, starting earlier or finishing later, ensuring that shade is available when working outdoors and rotating workers in and out of hot areas.
Finally, when it comes to the individual, avoid caffeinated beverages as these make the body lose water and increase the risk of heat stress, use sunscreen and wear light clothing that allows sweat to evaporate, make healthy lifestyle choices and try to get enough rest.
Stay safe, stay alert, stay hydrated, and heed your body’s warning signs. Have a healthy and safe summer everyone.
Importance of Taking Vacation Time
Written by Jenna Kressler | Curriculum Developer
Most people take their vacation time and understand the benefits of taking time off work, right?
If you are like the majority of North Americans, you will not use your entire vacation entitlement this year. Why not? Is it because management frowns on those who take vacations? Not exactly. Although that perception may exist among individual workers, the Huffington Post did a poll of workers who did not use the entirety of their vacation time. They found that 40% of respondents felt that they had too much work to do, and didn’t want to fall behind, while 26% said that they were saving their vacations for emergencies. Perhaps with Ontario’s proposed mandatory 10-days of emergency leave entitlement, more Canadians will be able to start using their vacations for, well, vacationing.
European Workplace Vacation Model
Most Europeans get a minimum of four weeks vacation, and they use them all. They often take the entire allotment at once (virtually unheard of this side of the pond), and they travel, even if it’s within their own borders.
But what about productivity, you ask? It appears that the European Vacation Model may be on to something. Time off has positive benefits for both workers and their employers. Read below for a list of benefits reaped from using vacation time. With benefits like these, employers may start encouraging workers to take their vacations, and may even start providing more time!
Benefits of Taking Vacation Time
Vacationing and taking breaks from work reduces the stress felt by workers on the job.
Stress impacts focus, so stress-relieving vacations can help return focus through a reduction in stress.
Vacations reduce the risk of coronary heart disease and lower blood pressure.
Vacations make people happy, and as the saying goes, happy workers are productive workers!
Rested workers are more focused and more productive. They have more energy at work. Vacations improve overall sleep quality.
Work-Life Balance Improves
Vacations improve work-life balance, as you give this time to your family or yourself, rather than to your employer. This is perhaps the most important benefit offered by using vacation time.
Although it seems counter-intuitive, workers who use their vacation time are more productive and return from vacations more creative and with better ideas.
With all these benefits, employees taking vacation time just makes sense! Now that summer is here, this may be the perfect time for employees to take some vacation time for a number of reasons! Share this with your employees or co-workers and encourage more time off within your workplace!
BE A LEADER
Jeff Thorne & Donna Snyders
Written by Jennifer Miller | Curriculum Development Coordinator
At OSG, all of our staff are Health and Safety Leaders. This month, we are featuring two outstanding leaders: Jeff Thorne and Donna Snyders.
Jeff Thorne has been working for OSG for 15 years. As the Manager of Training and Consulting, Jeff’s role is extremely eclectic – he delivers training, coaches the training staff, handles day-to-day training and consulting client inquiries, and also runs the Curriculum Development Department, ensuring all of OSG’s training materials align with OSG’s brand and vision. Jeff is committed to helping employers see the big picture when it comes to health and safety. He uses patience and knowledge to drive home the message that solid safety management saves lives. His professional goal is to continue to be a driving force behind OSG’s quest to remain one of the top health and safety innovators and industry leaders. When he isn’t hard at work, you can bet 100% that you’ll find Jeff on the golf course. Jeff holds three low-score records of 62, and applies the same drive and determination for excellence to his golf game that he applies to his work. If he isn’t golfing, he’s at the beach. He enjoys sun and sand – but not sand traps!
“Most incidents are a result of at-risk behaviour. Organizations require systems that observe and monitor work practices and behaviour equally.”
Donna Snyders has been working in OSG’s Accounting Dept. for 6 years. She is the Accounts Receivable hero, handling everything from billing to collections, and providing accounting and billing support to every single OSG client, as well as the sales staff. Without Donna, the Accounting Department wouldn’t run as seamlessly as it does. She works hard and diligently to keep the receivables in line. Around the office, Donna is known for being very helpful, answering questions, and not giving up until she gets to the bottom of an accounting or billing error. When she isn’t looking after OSG’s accounting needs, she is most likely in a vehicle transporting one of her three children to one of their various activities. Her titles at home include mom and wife, and also Professional Kid Driver! While ice hockey, ball hockey, and air and sea cadets are the main activities that Donna drives her children to and from, they have also participated in a number of other sports including basketball and soccer. Donna’s youngest child has recently developed a taste for gliding – no surprise considering Donna grew up on a gliding field!
Next time you are in OSG’s London office, say hello to Jeff or Donna. They are OSG Safety Leaders who embody safety culture in the workplace.
New & Young Worker Safety Training
Written by Sharon Thornton | Sales Manager
Each employer in Ontario has a responsibility to provide information and instruction to workers on how to perform their job safely.
OSG offers several courses that are available in our online membership to help train new and young workers that you bring on this summer. The following are a few examples.
- Young Worker Awareness
- Shift Work and Fatigue Awareness
- New Employee Safety Orientation
- Newcomers Worker Awareness
- Working at Temperatures
- Lone Worker Safety
Learn more about our online membership now!
Health & Safety in the News
Researched by Jeff Thorne | Manager of Training and Consulting
Upcoming Ministry of Labour Blitzes
Researched by Jeff Thorne | Manager of Training and Consulting
New & Young Workers – Employment Standards – Sectors Known to Employ Young & New Workers
May 1st, 2017 – Aug. 31st, 2017
New & Young Workers – Health & Safety – Industrial
May 1st, 2017 – Aug. 31st, 2017
Hours of Work – Employment Standards – Sectors Known to have a High Number of Hours Worked
May 1st, 2017 – Aug. 31st, 2017
Supervisor Awareness & Accountability – Health & Safety – Construction
June 1st, 2017 – July 31st, 2017
Upcoming Health & Safety Events
Provided by Nick Hollinger | Marketing & Communications Manager
Family Fun Day Presented by OSG
We are proud to be hosting Family Fun Day this year in order to celebrate our 20 year anniversary. The whole event is free, and open to all London and surrounding area residents and families. This public event is our way of showing the London community how grateful we are for giving us not just a place to grow our business, but a place for us to call home. Learn more now!
Eastern Ontario 2017 PIP Conference & Trade Show
The 2017 Eastern Ontario Partners in Prevention Conference & Trade Show is taking place at Ottawa Conference and Event Centre in Ottawa on October 4th. Connect with local health and safety experts and better your workplace.
Southwestern Ontario 2017 PIP Conference & Trade Show
The 2017 Southwestern Ontario Partners in Prevention Conference & Trade Show is taking place at Bingemans Conference Centre in Kitchener on October 25th, 2017. Connect with local health and safety experts and better your workplace.
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