A Good Basic Safety and Health Induction

Walt Disney once said regarding criticism, “Around here, however, we don’t look backwards for very long… we keep moving forward, opening up new doors and doing new things, because we’re curious… and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.”

Safety is about curiosity. It’s about seeking to improve by questioning, inquiring; it’s not about blaming others or perpetually finding faults with systems; it begins with a curiosity to change things for the better, making a safer workplace for all.

There is no job so urgent that we don’t have time to do it safely.

Manual Handling, Sprain and Strain Injuries

The prevention of sprain and strain injuries[1] represents one of our biggest opportunities to reduce injuries. We need to look after our backs, shoulders, knees, and other joints and muscles etc. Our retirement years ought to be the best they can be, but if we haven’t looked after our bodies it’ll be worth less to us.

Proper human movement is about correct technique where muscles are used and there is less strain on connective tissue (ligaments and tendons) to do the work. If you get a sore back it can be due to overused ligaments or tendons (tendonitis) and disproportionate spinal disc loading, leading to more serious problems. We need to look after our bodies if we’re to age gracefully!

Correct lifting involves:

– keeping the spine’s natural “S” curve as much as possible by bending the knees and keeping the back straight;

– creating a bridge (shoulder width stance);

– grasping the object with a good, safe grip;

– keeping the head looking slightly up (keeping the curve in the cervical spine); and

– ensuring there’s no twist in the spine as we lift.

We need to plan the lift, and employ team lifting and mechanical aids wherever possible. It’s good to stretch several times a day especially when we use repetitive movements or sit at a computer.

Ergonomics

Akin to the more chronic type of strain or sprain injury, ergonomics is the fit of the worker to the workplace (environment) and the work (procedures) in creating behaviour. People often focus on the potential for other safety incidents and ergonomics is frequently forgotten.

Ergonomic workstations assessments are a key injury prevention strategy, especially for office-based workers. Many office workers have suffered repetitive strain injury (RSI), otherwise known as Occupational Overuse Syndrome (OOS). Once someone has a musculoskeletal illness or disease it can take months and even years to properly heal. Prevention is far better than cure.

Alcohol and Other Drugs

Every responsible employer has an Alcohol and Other Drugs Policy. In our society the use and abuse of these substances creates problems in every workplace.

The main issue is impairment. If someone is impaired by alcohol or other drugs in the workplace they place both themselves and others at risk of serious injury, even death.

Employee Assistance Programs (EAP) are critical in both the proactive treatment of dependency to substances, and for rehabilitation. Company policies focus on education, and empowering employees to self-identify and self-manage substance use and abuse issues.

Disciplinary issues are the last resort, but are often required in managing affected employees through rehabilitation.

Hazard Resolution

Resolving hazards and reducing risks in the workplace is critical–we all play a part. If you can fix a hazard or make it safe you need to do that first, and then report it. Don’t forget to involve your Safety and Health Representative. Safety Committees also have a role to address these issues.

There should be no safety issue that can’t be resolved to all parties’ satisfaction, and an escalating process can help achieve this.

Take Five Program and Risk Management

TAKE 5 in your work. Stop and think before each task to try and identify what could go wrong. If in doubt, simply ask. Involve your supervisor if you feel there is risk of injury or harm in the work you’re doing.

Risk management is three simple steps: hazard identification, risk assessment and control. Hazards should be assessed for both likelihood (how often you’re exposed to the hazard COMBINED with the probability of it occurring) and consequence.

Risk management’s main objective is to reduce both likelihood and consequence, but minimising consequences of incidents always prevails because people will always make errors and mistakes.

Employee Duty of Care

This means you must:

– Care for your own safety and that of others.

– Comply with ALL instructions you’re given to protect the safety of yourself and others.

– Use ALL equipment (including Personal Protective Equipment) appropriately and as trained and instructed.

– Report EVERY incident, whether it’s an injury/illness, near-miss, or property damage.

Emergency Information

Know your key emergency numbers and procedures. You never know when you’ll need them. Alarms are tested at regular times each week.

Work Controls

Know your work controls. The company will provide the relevant training in work permitting systems, as required and appropriate.

Summary

Remember, there is no job so urgent that we don’t have time to do it safely. You do not need to take short cuts for any reason. Ensure you carry out all your duties responsibly, reporting to your supervisor any situation causing concern.

ENDNOTE:

[1] Sprain injuries occur to harder connective tissue i.e. ligaments and tendons. Strain injuries occur to soft tissue i.e. muscles; muscles recover from injury approximately 4-5 times quicker than connective tissue does.

Excavation Safety Risks

Construction projects involving excavation and trenching are among the most hazardous workplace activities. An excavation is defined as any man-made cut, cavity, trench, or depression that is formed by earth removal. The term “trench” is specific to underground excavations that are deeper than it is wide, being no wider than 15 feet. The fatality rate for all types of excavation work is 112% higher than that of general industry (U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration). Given this high level of danger, it’s critical that safety precautions and controls be used at all times and that extreme caution and patience be exercised when working in and around pits and excavations.

Types of Excavation Risk

Cave-ins pose the greatest risk and are the most likely type of excavation-related incident to result in fatalities. Other potential hazards associated with excavation include:

• Falls into trenches or excavations

• Tripping over equipment, debris and spoil

• Excavated material or other objects falling on workers

• Exposure to underground services or overhead lines

• Mishandled or poorly placed materials

• Difficulty breathing due to noxious gases or lack of oxygen

• Toxic, irritating, or explosive gases

• Vehicles and mobile equipment

Mitigating the Risk

The two basic methods of protecting workers against cave-ins are sloping and temporary protective structures.

Sloping involves cutting back the trench wall at an angle that is inclined away from the work area of the excavation. The appropriate angle of the slope depends on the soil conditions at the site of excavation.

Temporary protective structures are designed to provide protection from cave-ins, collapse, sliding or rolling materials. Examples of temporary protective structures include shoring, trench boxes, pre-fabricated systems, hydraulic systems, and engineering systems.

Shoring is a system that supports the sides or walls and normally requires the use of aluminum, steel, or wood panels that are supported by screws or hydraulic jacks. Shoring should be done in conjunction with the progression of the excavation. If there is any delay between digging and shoring, no workers should enter the unprotected trench. Trench Boxes are often used in open areas that are away from utilities, roadways, and foundations. Trench boxes can be used to protect workers in cases of cave-ins, but are not a substitute for shoring. If the trench or excavation walls are made of rock, rock bolts or wire mesh can be used to offer additional support.

Excavation Safety Tips:

• Know the location of any underground utility lines

• Wear proper PPE – including protective hardhat, eyewear and footwear

• Keep heavy equipment away from trench edges

• Test for low oxygen and toxic gases.

• Inspect trenches at the start of each shift or if there has been significant rainfall

• Place barriers along the outside perimeter and safety signs at key locations

• Consider consulting with a professional engineer regarding the design and installing of the shoring

• Establish a safe means of access and egress

• Know the location of water sources and what the drainage patterns will be

• Develop an emergency response plan and include provisions for extreme weather, evacuation routes, and communication plans

What NOT to do:

• Do not enter an unprotected trench deeper than 4 feet

• Do not start digging before locating and de-energizing the buried services

• Do not enter a trench before testing the air

• Do not place anything within 1 metre from the trench’s edge

• Do not rely on natural freezing to act as a method of soil stabilization

It’s important to remember that collapses can occur without warning, regardless of the depth. In fact, the vast majority of fatalities occurs at minimal depths when workers fail to appreciate the risks involved. All excavation projects present serious safety risks, but injuries and fatalities resulting from collapses are preventable with proper planning and safety precautions.

Overview to Acquire Certification for Heavy Equipment Operator Training and Safety

Heavy equipment training for operators includes variety of options. However, before starting on any training program, you must evaluate your knowledge about the equipment, operator safety, mechanic skills and the industries hiring operators. Acquiring an understanding of these will help in determining the ideal training program and best schools to acquire certification and safety training.

There are different training options such as:

  • Apprenticeship programs
  • University courses
  • Private training courses
  • On the job training
  • Training by private training programs

They provide students with few weeks training such as 12 to 15 weeks and this includes even on course work. The students must devote their time in the classroom theory classes to understand the heavy machines operation details. The training also includes teaching the operating of Excavator, Bulldozer, Motor Grader, Front End wheel Loader and Articulated Rock Truck.

There are different course lengths based on the equipment types. The Earth mover is 12 week training and this include teaching the operating of Excavators, Dozer, Grader, ART, Loader and RT Backhoe machines for more than 250-275 hours. In fact even the shortest courses are not less than 3 weeks and it covers totally over 150 hours of training.

Training at Universities

There is comprehensive course offered by variety of hands in the classroom and there are hands on training also offered as a learning experience. The site equipments also include graders, dozers, excavators and more.

In fact, they cover broad topics including service and maintenance, soil composition and surveying. They also impart knowledge about safety and first aid certifications.

Heavy Machine Operators are taught various things such as:

  • To balance
  • Work at different heights
  • Good judgment about distance
  • Physical and health condition
  • Hand foot and eye coordination
  • Mechanical mind
  • Problem solving

Getting certification on heavy equipment operating helps as it has safety needs and specific paperwork that your future employers look for. It reveals your achievements and work history, besides a wall certificate. This shows you are fit for heavy equipment operation and are aware of the safety rules.

Seeking admission to acquire heavy equipment operator training certificate is possible following this procedure:

  • The duration to acquire a certification is a 3 hour time. This may not necessarily take the full-time to receive a certification. The officer can easily tell your experience and proficiency as an operator to offer you certification.
  • There will be a need for the operators to perform pre-start and procedures of shut down of heavy equipment independently. They are observed by the Certifying officers while performing machine tasks assigned by the officers.

There is a need for the certifications to find a suitable job. There is no value without the course completion and certification. However, in the tests, you pass or fail, there is no refund. Having substantial experience is a must to pass the certification test. Operators can also register for a 3 separate machine certification test so that on the Challenge Day they can perform adeptly. On completion, a certificate is given and also an ID card in the wallet size from the certifying officer.