Be Safe News – April 2017
What to do After a Workplace Accident: Step-by-Step Guide
Written by Jennifer Miller | Curriculum Development Coordinator
Close your eyes and imagine your worst nightmare: an accident has occurred at your workplace. The worker involved has been critically injured, or even worse, the worker has died.
It can sometimes be easy to lose sight of the steps that must immediately follow in the wake of a workplace tragedy. However, there are steps in place to ensure that you and your workplace are protected, that no other workers get injured in the process of a rescue, and that a root cause can be identified to prevent an accident of the same nature from ever happening again.
What is a Workplace Accident?
An accident is defined as “a sudden, unplanned event that causes harm to a person or damage to property.” Critical Injury Regulation 834 states that an injury is critical if one of the following circumstances is met:
- Places life in jeopardy
- Produces unconsciousness
- Results in substantial blood loss
- Involves fracture of arm or leg, but not finger or toe
- Involves amputation of arm or leg, foot or hand, but not finger or toe
- Consists of burns to major portion of the body
- Cause loss of sight in one or both eyes
The focus of the accident investigation must remain on the accident, rather than the injury. It is easy to get distracted or draw conclusions that are based on first impressions, but the result of doing so will be inaccurate recommendations and inadequate controls.
Workplace Accident Step-by-Step Guide
Step 1: Call 911
In the event of a workplace tragedy, there will be many people that have ideas about what to do first. However, the first step in the case of a critical injury of fatality is to call 911 to get emergency services on route immediately. This must include police if there is a fatality or if there was workplace violence involved.
Step 2: Administer first aid
The primary concern in the direct aftermath of an accident is the safety of the injured worker, and the safety of others. If administering first aid will put another worker in danger, then first aid should not be administered until trained emergency personnel arrive. For example, if a worker was injured in a confined space, and entering the space would put another at risk, then first aid should not be administered until trained help arrives.
Provided that offering first aid does not place anyone at greater risk, first aid should be administered if it is required until emergency services arrive.
Step 3: Secure and manage the scene
The responsibility for securing and managing the scene rests on the employer and/or the supervisor. Controlling the scene includes:
- Clearing employees from the area
- Controlling or eliminating sources of imminent danger
- Ensuring that there is minimal scene disturbance, aside from anything required to be disturbed to deliver first aid and/or control or eliminate an imminent danger
Disturbing the scene means altering, interfering with, destroying, or removing anything related to the scene. Section 51(2) of the Ontario Occupational Health and Safety Act & Regulations states that in the event of a critical accident or fatality, a Ministry of Labour inspector must give permission before a scene can be disturbed with the exception of the following:
A scene may be disturbed without Ministry of Labour permission to:
- Save a life
- Relieve human suffering
- Maintain an essential utility or service
- Prevent unnecessary equipment damage
Step 4: Reporting
When there is a critical injury or fatality, the following parties must be notified immediately:
- Joint Health and Safety Committee (JHSC)
- Union (if applicable)
- Ministry of Labour (a written report must also be submitted within 48 hours)
- Police (the police may automatically attend if dispatched, but must be notified of a death or any instance of fatality or injury involving workplace violence)
Step 5: Conduct an investigation
There may be parallel investigations at this stage. The Ministry of Labour, the police, and the JHSC may all be conducting their own investigations concurrently. The role of the employer is to work alongside each investigation, provide any documentation requested, and cooperate fully with all investigations.
There are several components to an investigation:
- Secure the scene
- Gather evidence
- Interview witnesses
- Investigate the root cause(s)
To gather evidence, the designated investigator should document and itemize everything requiring explanation. The investigator should take down names of witnesses, take photos of the scene, take applicable measurements or draw immediately observable facts. It is best practice to conduct interviews immediately. The purpose of an interview is fact-finding, not fault-finding or blame-laying. Ask simple, non-suggestive, and open-ended questions.
Once you are able to organize the information and separate facts from opinions, conclusions must be drawn to determine immediate and root causes.
Step 6: Create a final report and make recommendations
The final report will contain a detailed description of the accident, the harm created, the immediate and root cause(s), temporary or permanent controls implemented, and recommendations. Attach any photos, interview notes, drawings, and other applicable supporting documents. Recommendations made to management should be specific and detailed, and focus on root causes.
Step 7: Follow up
Ensure that recommendations are being followed through the use of a timeline for corrective action, as well as monitoring, and effective training and education.
Sometimes, when a workplace accident occurs, emotions take over, and the steps are forgotten. It is by effective training, the support of a sound JHSC, and a proactive accident prevention program that employers can ensure that they hopefully never have to follow the seven steps listed above. However, in the event that the worst happens in your workplace, be ready by being trained, being aware of the steps, and by being prepared to be cooperative. In times of tragedy or trauma, people look to strong leaders for guidance and example of how they should be acting. So, keep calm, follow the seven steps, and take measures to ensure that no accident of that nature can ever happen again.
Download our free accident investigation form today.
Interpretation of Regulation 834 to the OHSA – Critical Injury
Written by Tushar Anandasagar | Associate Lawyer at LeClair and Associates
It is well known that an employer has a duty to report incidents of workplace injury or illness (including deaths in the workplace) to the Ministry of Labour (“MOL”) Specifically, section 51 (1) of the OHSA states:
Notice of death or injury
51 (1) – Where a person is killed or critically injured from any cause at a workplace, the constructor, if any, and the employer shall notify an inspector, and the committee, health and safety representative and trade union, if any, immediately of the occurrence by telephone or other direct means and the employer shall, within forty-eight hours after the occurrence, send to a Director a written report of the circumstances of the occurrence containing such information and particulars as the regulations prescribe…
Regulation 834 of the OHSA defines “critical injury” as follows:
“critically injured” means an injury of a serious nature that,
(a) places life in jeopardy,
(b) produces unconsciousness,
(c) results in substantial loss of blood,
(d) involves the fracture of a leg or arm but not a finger or toe,
(e) involves the amputation of a leg, arm, hand or foot but not a finger or toe,
(f) consists of burns to a major portion of the body, or
(g) causes the loss of sight in an eye.
Employers have expressed concerns with the definition of “critical injury” and potential grey areas with respect to certain serious injuries. In response to those concerns, the MOL recently published a document entitled “Clarification on the Definition of Regulation 834: Critical Injury”, in which it explains:
- Clause 1(d) – The MOL indicates that it will interpret the phrase “fracture of a leg or arm” to include the fracture of a “wrist, hand, ankle or foot”. This means that if an employee fractures a “wrist, hand, ankle or foot”, an employer’s duty to notify the MOL will be triggered.
- Clause 1(d) – The MOL indicates that it will treat the fracture of “more than one finger or more than one toe” as a critical injury if it is an injury of a “serious nature”. The MOL has not provided further guidance regarding the interpretation of the phrase “serious nature”.
- Clause 1(e) – The MOL indicates that if the amputation of “more than one finger or more than one toe” will constitute a critical injury if it is an injury of a “serious nature”.
The MOL’s publication suggests that that discretion will be afforded to employers to determine whether or not an injury meets the “of a serious nature” threshold, on a case-by-case basis. It also suggests that MOL Inspectors who are reviewing the actions of an employer will have discretion to retroactively determine whether an employer erred in making its determination as to whether or not an injury met the “of a serious nature” threshold.
While the MOL’s publication does not technically constitute law, employers should be aware of how certain classifications of injuries will be treated by the MOL and its Inspectors.
A full version of the MOL’s publication regarding Regulation 834 can be found here: https://www.labour.gov.on.ca/english/hs/critical_injury.php
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.
Canada’s Commitment to Banning Asbestos
Written in Conjunction with asbestos.com
Canada knows asbestos all too well.
The country was one of the world’s main producers of the naturally occurring carcinogenic mineral. Its relationship with asbestos was so intimate that a small, former mining town in Quebec is named after asbestos.
Asbestos remains the leading cause of workplace-related death in Canada. An estimated 150,000 Canadians are exposed to asbestos at work, mainly in the construction and trade industries.
Most asbestos-related diseases have a long latency period, or the amount of time between first exposure to asbestos and the start of symptoms. The number of deaths related to mesothelioma, a rare cancer caused by asbestos exposure, increased by 60 percent between 2000 and 2012.
Because of the latency period and Canada’s long history with asbestos, experts expect those numbers to continue to grow.
Canadian lawmakers recently made an important first step in combatting the threat of asbestos: Announcing a commitment to ban its use by 2018. The comprehensive ban is a longtime coming, and it covers the manufacture of asbestos-containing products as well as imports of the toxic mineral.
However, the threat of asbestos exposure doesn’t end with the ban. Employers should be diligent and informed when it comes to the latest safety procedures for employees working in high-risk occupations.
How Might the Asbestos Ban Affect the Industry?
Canada was once at the forefront of the asbestos industry, but the country’s production of the deadly mineral came to a halt in 2012 with the closing of Quebec’s two largest asbestos mines.
But that led to a rise in asbestos-containing imports such as brake pads and brake linings. The Canadian Labour Congress (CLC), Canada’s largest union, reports imports of asbestos products grew from $4.7 million in 2011 to $8.2 million in 2015.
Asbestos is banned in most of the world’s industrialized nations — including all 28 countries of the European Union — but Canada continues to import asbestos products from China, South Korea, Peru and Chile.
The asbestos ban is an important step for protecting future generations of workers in Canada. While the asbestos mining industry is no longer in operation, Canadian workers remain at risk for asbestos exposure from imported products, especially mechanics and laborers in the automotive industry.
It is also important to note an asbestos ban doesn’t remove the deadly mineral from Canadian infrastructure.
Much like in the U.S., houses, schools and office buildings built before the 1980s likely contain asbestos construction materials such as insulation, drywall, tile flooring and gaskets.
These materials are virtually safe if left intact, but when they are cut, grinded, demolished or in any other way disturbed, toxic asbestos fibers become airborne. Inhaling or swallowing these microscopic fibers can lead to serious health issues, including mesothelioma cancer.
Employers: Keeping your Employees Safe
Mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases can take decades to develop, meaning an asbestos ban won’t have an immediate impact on Canadians. It could take at least 20 years before the ban produces significant results.
If you are an employer, constructor or supervisor involved in building maintenance, repair or alteration, it is essential to be well-informed about asbestos hazards. All workers who preform duties that may disturb asbestos-containing products should be able to identify these materials and take the necessary precautions when working around them.
Employers — even those not at risk for asbestos exposure — should be familiar with these procedures and be able to answer any questions employees may have regarding asbestos safety. Keeping your employees safe should be the No. 1 priority. OSG offers training in Asbestos Awareness that can aid you in keeping your employees safe.
Also, keep your employees informed about the dangers of asbestos exposure if the proper precautions are not taken. Be aware of early mesothelioma warning signs such as breathlessness, chronic cough and chest pain. Mesothelioma has no cure, but detecting it in the early cancer stages is the key to a longer survival.
With such a deep history, the threat of asbestos exposure in Canada will likely never dissipate. The asbestos ban is a necessary and vital first step, but it is imperative for Canadians and especially Canadian employers to remain cautious and be proactive.
How to Support Staff After a Workplace Tragedy
Written by Jenna Kressler | Curriculum Developer
Imagine, it’s the middle of the afternoon and you’re at work. You receive an email sent by a Manager to the whole company. You learn a co-worker, who you happen to be close with, has suffered a life-threatening injury and has been rushed to the hospital. Your stomach drops. Your breathing becomes rapid and shallow, and your eyes fill with tears. Questions and “what ifs” flood your mind and everything becomes a blur.
No worker wants to experience or witness a workplace fatality or serious injury; however, workplaces need to have a strategy in place that will mitigate the fallout of a workplace tragedy. The strategy will include requirements for communication and a plan to provide ongoing support to employees.
Workplace Response Tips
First and foremost, employers must ensure the safety of their employees, if the incident occurs on-site. Emergency Response plans should be put into place when a severe accident occurs. Emergency evacuation routes and designated meeting locations should be included in the plan, and attendance should be taken at the meeting point.
Communicate to staff regarding the incident as quickly as possible. Provide the known and non-confidential details with your employees, and if further details will follow, tell them when and how they will be communicated. Hold a meeting to share new information and outline how employees may help those involved in the incident.
Individuals handle grief in a variety of ways, some like their personal space, while others like to surround themselves with people. Employees will need support from their co-workers and management. Offer a meeting in a boardroom, or hold a luncheon where people can talk, listen, or just be there with others during this difficult time. If there was a fatality, make arrangements for staff to attend the funeral if they wish to do so without docking their time.
Recognize that this type of incident may affect some more so than others. Be understanding that morale and productivity may be low and employees may be distracted. Acknowledge staff that this is okay. They need to take their time to come to terms with what has happened, so that they feel able to resume work safely.
Encourage The Use of Other Resources
Employees should be reminded of the resources that are available to them to help them cope, whether that is an Employee Assistance Program (EAP), counselling services, having HR and management available to talk, or other resources that are part of your wellness program.
Honour the Worker
Losing a co-worker can be tough to handle. Employers can honour the worker by simply hosting an event to honour the deceased. For something that is more lasting, employers can plant a tree, name a bench or lounge after the worker, donate to a charity of the family’s choosing, or create a scholarship in their name. By honouring the worker who has lost their life due to a workplace incident, co-workers and the family will feel more supported by the employer as it displays their compassion.
No employer wants their workers to become injured or sick, or even die because of a workplace incident. Unfortunately, it happens. Employers can do their part by providing health and safety training, ensuring that they are complying with the Ministry of Labour requirements, and instilling best work practices for their workers to ensure due diligence is being met and their workers are going home the way they arrived to work. It is important to have a program in place for if and when a serious incident occurs at your workplace to mitigate complications and to provide immediate support to those involved.
Check out an amazing charity dedicated to supporting families after a workplace fatality, life-altering injury, or occupational support group, Threads of Life. At OSG, we regularily partner with Threads of Life to sponsor presentations for our clients. You can read more about our partnership here.
BE A LEADER
James Kruck & Ben Bachl
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: James Kruck and Ben Bachl.
James Kruck joined the OSG Curriculum Development team one year ago. As a Curriculum Developer, James prides himself on developing unique course materials that engage participants and help protect workers against workplace accidents. In his first year with OSG, James has developed and redesigned several courses, including many lifting device titles. He is known by his colleagues for his creative and original PowerPoint presentations, and his perseverance for making programs the best that they can be for the learners. He faces challenges head-on, and the words “that can’t be done,” do not exist in his vocabulary. His professional goal is to make the classroom experience enjoyable and informative for all participants. Outside of work, James enjoys spending time outdoors with his with family. He once camped from BC to Ontario with his wife and two toddlers – he is a true adventurer! He also firmly believes that the best sport played on ice is curling. “Fail to plan, plan to fail.” -James Kruck Ben Bachl has been a member of OSG’s training team for two years and counting. He is a licensed aircraft mechanic, and has years of health and safety experience in a variety of industries. He is dedicated to sharing the knowledge that he has gained through his experiences, and has a professional goal of helping others experience successes related to making workplaces safer. He believes that safe work boosts efficiencies and productivity. Ben hopes to retire with peace of mind in knowing that the work he did made a difference. A fiercely loyal friend and a family man who likes to enjoy the little things life has to offer. Ben is an avid and passionate boater, and is known around the office and by clients as “The Boat Guy.” He plans to boat until the day the waters run dry! “Following the path of someone who has failed, generally leads to being successful in the same failure. Training is learning from their mistake, to gain insight and knowledge and achieve positive results. Be a leader and set your goals high.” -Ben Bachl
James Kruck joined the OSG Curriculum Development team one year ago. As a Curriculum Developer, James prides himself on developing unique course materials that engage participants and help protect workers against workplace accidents. In his first year with OSG, James has developed and redesigned several courses, including many lifting device titles. He is known by his colleagues for his creative and original PowerPoint presentations, and his perseverance for making programs the best that they can be for the learners. He faces challenges head-on, and the words “that can’t be done,” do not exist in his vocabulary. His professional goal is to make the classroom experience enjoyable and informative for all participants. Outside of work, James enjoys spending time outdoors with his with family. He once camped from BC to Ontario with his wife and two toddlers – he is a true adventurer! He also firmly believes that the best sport played on ice is curling.
“Fail to plan, plan to fail.”
Ben Bachl has been a member of OSG’s training team for two years and counting. He is a licensed aircraft mechanic, and has years of health and safety experience in a variety of industries. He is dedicated to sharing the knowledge that he has gained through his experiences, and has a professional goal of helping others experience successes related to making workplaces safer. He believes that safe work boosts efficiencies and productivity. Ben hopes to retire with peace of mind in knowing that the work he did made a difference. A fiercely loyal friend and a family man who likes to enjoy the little things life has to offer. Ben is an avid and passionate boater, and is known around the office and by clients as “The Boat Guy.” He plans to boat until the day the waters run dry!
“Following the path of someone who has failed, generally leads to being successful in the same failure. Training is learning from their mistake, to gain insight and knowledge and achieve positive results. Be a leader and set your goals high.”
Next time you are in OSG’s London office, say hello to James and/or Ben. They are OSG Safety Leaders who embody safety culture in the workplace.
Written by Sharon Thornton | Sales Manager
An incident can be defined as a sudden, unplanned event that causes or could have caused harm to a person, environment, or property. Incidents and accidents can happen in any workplace, at anytime. Failure to properly investigate an incident or accident, and determine its root cause, can be costly.
A proper investigation helps to measure the effectiveness of your company’s health and safety program, reveal hazards that were not identified during workplace inspections, examine actual events, and reveal potential trends.
Our course is designed to provide managers, supervisors, and health and safety representatives with the information necessary to carry out their investigative duties effectively.
By the end of this course, participants will be able to:
- Explain the Investigation Process
- Recognize the Causes of Accidents/Incidents
- Identify Classification of Causes
- Recognize Prevention Techniques
- Perform an Investigation
We offer this course online or on-site at your workplace! Learn more today!
Health and Safety Champion
Written by Jennifer Miller | Curriculum Development Coordinator
Company Name: The Keg Steakhouse and Bar
Number of Employees: 8000+