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North American Occupational Safety and Health Week Tips

NAOSH week has begun! NAOSH (North American Occupational Safety and Health) week runs from May 3rd  – May 9th. During this dedicated week governments, employers and workers from all across North America take the time to promote the importance of health and safety training and the prevention of job-related injuries. Do you have tools to protect yourself from hazards while in the workplace? If you’re unsure, NAOSH has many tools to guide you in the right direction.

Why is health & safety so important? Work-related incidents are common among workers of all ages, but according to Young Workers Awareness Program, an average of 36 young workers are killed, injured or get sick while on the job on a daily basis. Most injuries can be prevented or reduced if we follow the guidelines set out by WSIB (Workplace Safety and Insurance Board) and the OHSA (Occupational Health & Safety Act). Below we’ve listed some common guidelines from the Young Workers Awareness Program to identify key pieces of information that you’ll need to keep safety a top priority.

What is a “hazard” and why should you be careful around them?

By definition, a hazard is something that can hurt you or make you ill. Truthfully, we are exposed to hazards on a daily basis. That’s why it is important to learn how to recognize a hazard in the workplace.

Types of Hazards

Hazards come in many forms, including chemical, physical, biological and ergonomic. Wondering what is classified as a hazard in each category? Below is a summary of some hazard types and items (not all) that fall under those categories. For a more detailed list, contact your employer’s health & safety representative.

Chemical: paints, cleaning products, acids, solvents, welding fumes, solvent vapours, acetylene, propane, carbon monoxide, helium, gasoline, explosive chemicals.

Physical: electricity, saw blades, conveyor belts, loud noise, high exposure to sunlight, ladders, scaffolding, spills on the floor.

Biological: blood, bodily fluids, fungi, bacteria, viruses, plants, insect bites, animal and bird droppings.

Ergonomic: poor lighting, poor workstations, chairs with no support, constantly lifting, poor posture, repetitive motions, using too much force.

Working in the Heat

If you’re someone who works outdoors or in production facilities that tend to heat up in the summer months, it is critical that you take the proper steps to prevent heat illness.

How is this accomplished? Since you’re working in hot environments, you’re required to have frequent water breaks, take many breaks, and sit in the shade or an air-conditioned area. These tips can be remembered by following these three steps: water, rest, shade. As a worker, it is important for you and your supervisors to recognize the signs that you’re suffering from heat illness in order to learn the potential consequences.

Every year, more than 240 people die due to heat illness in North America. This number can climb as high as 1,700 during heat waves.  Anyone exhibiting signs of heat illness should not be left alone and proper medical assistance should be obtained.

Do you feel unsafe at your work about any of the items listed above? If you’re unsure of what to do in order to make sure you’re feeling protected, be aware that you have the right to know what hazards are in your workplace that can harm you, you have the right to participate in health & safety meetings, and you have the right to refuse unsafe work if you believe the job will endanger you.

Try to be as informed as possible about what is going on around you, and never be too proud to stand up for yourself if you think you’re being put in harm’s way.

For more information on NAOSH visit their website here.

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