Work Smart. Work Safe.
Keep your "Heads Up" and work safe!


By Melissa Babcock

In everyone’s life, a little rain must fall. What goes up must come down. And where there are negative, often sad stories about safety in the workplace, rest assured there will be some positive, uplifting ones right around the corner. So without further ado, here is the latest edition of Safety in the News:

Construction job ends in tragedy. Workplace safety officials in North Carolina are investigating a recent accident in Raleigh in which three workers were killed when the scaffolding they were working on collapsed.

Mining through a hazardous industry. A manager at one of Sudbury’s largest mines says there needs to be more communication about safety practices in the industry if safety standards in the mines are going to consistently improve.

Canada’s Ocean Playground is getting safer. Appearing at the Safety Services Nova Scotia Workplace Health and Safety Conference, which took place in Halifax in March, Minister of Labour and Advanced Education Kelly Regan spoke about how Nova Scotia’s lost-time injury claims and fatalities in 2014 were the lowest they’ve been in years.

Cracking down on unsafe workplaces overseas. After recent inspections showed that more than half of Thailand’s factories did not meet health and safety standards, the country’s Ministry of Labour stepped up their efforts to ensure all employers are providing safe workplaces.

And finally… on April 28, Day of Mourning, we remember the workers who have been killed, injured or disabled on the job.  In 2014, 169 Albertans tragically lost their lives due to workplace injury or illness. Check out your local newspapers next week for Rebecca’s story. And honour the memory of those we’ve lost by working safe and smart.

Seen any interesting safety-related news stories lately? Fill us in by leaving a comment, or tweet us @HeadsUpAB.


By Angela Unsworth

I’m a big fan of period pieces and can spend hours watching them. When I realized the fourth season of Downton Abbey was up on Netflix, well…all my plans for the week disappeared amid a flurry of binge watching.

In that day and age…

Part of what interests me in historical shows is watching how the characters deal with new technology and devices. In the first episode, the kitchen received electric kitchen tools to help the staff do the work. The younger staff loves the new gadgets, but Mrs. Patmore, the supervisor, struggles to learn how they work. She refused to ask for help, because she didn’t want the other cooks to know that she couldn’t figure out how they worked. Because of this fear, she ended up breaking a bowl while using one of the tools when no one was around. Fortunately, no one was injured by the broken glass, but I immediately thought of how that could have ended up and how important it is to not let our fears stop us from asking for help.

Ask and you shall receive…

Sometimes we don’t want to admit we might not know how to do something because we’re worried about not being able to keep up. That fear is what holds us back from being truly exceptional at our work. And, it leads us to acting unsafely.

Every job comes with a learning curve. Even when you’ve been at a job for years, something new might be introduced or asked of you that you are unsure about.  We all struggle to learn something new and it’s important to be able to ask for help when we’re unsure of how to do a task at work.

If Mrs. Patmore asked for help, she would have saved herself plenty of late-night hours and a bowl. Don’t be Mrs. Patmore with her broken bowl. Ask for help.

Do you have a story about a time when you asked for help at work? Comment here or tweet us @HeadsUpAB to let us know!


By Lauren Smith

We’ve all experienced the disappointment of rolling up the rim of our Timmies, hoping to win one of the fabulous grand prizes only to come up empty handed (or the next winner of another free coffee, at best).

But this time of year, there’s more than one kind of rim on my mind.


Last April I did a blog post about the many acronyms that can be present in an organization.

Now, I want to tell you about another one: RIMM. It’s short for Records and Information Management Month, and it’s recognized internationally every April.

In the dawn of advanced technology, managing your records and information has become more important than ever, whether at home or on the job, and that’s exactly what RIMM is all about.

In the spirit of RIMM, I’d like to talk about the connection between your personal safety and managing your records and information.

There could be a hidden window into your home



I was among the many who was fascinated with the advanced features of the new Xbox One. I could tell it to turn on, change television channels, and even play a DVD—no buttons or switches required! This new system listened to my needs and I felt like I’d entered the future.

I hadn’t really considered that in order for the voice-activation feature to operate, the new Xbox had to be listening all the time in order to hear “Xbox on” and other voice commands.

If there’s a device listening to me all the time, I’d want to know who has access to the information and what they’re doing with it.

Here’s a site that addresses this concern and recommends turning off the Kinect in your Xbox One settings, or you can disconnect it completely from your Xbox when not in use. Microsoft values our privacy, but I don’t want to create a window for potential hackers to access my voice or video recordings through my Xbox.

Records can help keep you protected



If you’re like me, your mom is probably the keeper of your vaccination records. I have no doubt that little piece of paper is probably safely stored in one of the many boxes in the crawl space at my parents’ house.

But with recent outbreaks of measles and even mumps, it’s important to make sure you’ve had the necessary immunizations, especially if you’re travelling.

If you don’t have the desire to start digging through old storage boxes in search of your vaccination records, Immunize Canada recommends a few ways you can locate your vaccination records:

  1. Check with your family doctor, who may have a record in your file.
  2. Check with the local public health office where you were immunized as a child. Most public health offices maintain a registry of childhood immunizations in their area.
  3. Check with your employer. Some employers keep proof of immunization (e.g., military).

To help you stay on top of your vaccinations, Immunize Canada has developed an app to help you keep track of your immunization records.

Those are just a couple examples of how managing your records and information can help you stay safe. Do you have some tips to share? Tweet us @headsupab.


By Melissa Babcock

Hobbies—we all have them. Bike riding. Yoga. Walking the dog. Video games. Playing hockey on the weekends. They’re our favourite, fun, leisurely activities that have nothing to do with work—we do them because they make us happy.

Now imagine trying to do those activities after getting injured at work. Anything from a broken arm to a sprained ankle to a badly-cut finger could seriously impede your ability to do the things you love and enjoy the most. You miss a lot more than your job when you get injured at work.

#WhatWouldYouMiss is a question we’ve asked before. And now, we’re hoping young workers from Alberta will provide some answers!

Last week, we debuted Heads Up’s newest batch of transit ads, in which we ask young workers to tell us what they would miss if they were injured at work.

Keep an eye out for this poster, currently on display in various train stations in Edmonton and Calgary.

Keep an eye out for this poster, currently on display in various train stations in Edmonton and Calgary.

So far, we’ve received some amazing answers via Twitter:

Tweet 1 Tweet 2 Tweet 3 Tweet 4

So if you haven’t already, tell us: If you were injured at work, what would you miss? Tweet or Facebook us your answer by June 8 and you could win! And remember: work safe and work smart—so you can keep doing the things you love.


“And miles to go before I sleep.”

By Angela Unsworth

I don’t know about you, but I used to have a hard time getting up and moving on Mondays. It was a combination of staying up too late on the weekend and sleeping in during the day. The 6 a.m. alarm just seemed so much earlier on Mondays than on any other day.

I found myself dropping things all morning as I tried to get ready, whether it was my brush or my breakfast; my hands were too tired to function and would let go of things when I needed them the most.

Everything took longer because of this. I had to clean up the peanut butter off the floor and after that, I had to rush to get to work on time.

This is a dangerous combination – tired and in a rush.

Did you know research studies show that fatigue has an impact on work performance?

According to WorkSafeBC:

  • 17 hours awake is equivalent to a blood alcohol content of 0.05
  • 21 hours awake is equivalent to a blood alcohol content of 0.08
  • 24-25 hours awake is equivalent to a blood alcohol content of .10

Not getting enough sleep (less than five hours before work, or being awake for more than 16 hours), increases your chance of making mistakes at work.

An accident waiting to happen

The Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety lists the following effects of fatigue on work performance:

  • reduced decision-making ability,
  • reduced attention and vigilance,
  • reduced ability to handle stress on the job,
  • reduced reaction time—both in speed and thought, loss of memory or the ability to recall details,
  • failure to respond to changes in surroundings or information provided,
  • inability to stay awake (e.g., falling asleep while operating machinery or driving a vehicle),
  • increased tendency for risk-taking and,
  • increased accident rates.

For a longer list, check out:

How can you get a ‘better’ sleep so you’re not like Chandler below?

One morning, as I was rushing to work, I almost got into a car accident. I was changing lanes and shoulder-checked, but not as thoroughly as I should have. I almost swerved into another car. Luckily, I saw the car just in time and swerved back into my lane, fully alert at that point. I know accidents can happen, but if I can reduce any possibility of getting into one because I’m tired, then that’s what I plan to do.

We need about 7.5 – 8.5 hours of sleep every day. Here’s what I have been doing to get this:

  • Practicing good sleep hygiene (this doesn’t mean brushing your teeth before bed):
    • Going to bed and getting up at the same time every day—this means on my weekends when I stay up late, I’m practicing bad sleep hygiene and making Mondays terrible for myself. I go to bed and wake up at the same time all week long now.
    • Avoiding caffeine before bed. I swap out my Earl Grey tea for peppermint.
    • Leaving my cell phone in another room. I used to keep it in my room and would check it frequently. Now that it’s not in my room, the temptation to look at that glowing blue screen is reduced and it’s easier for me to fall asleep.
    • Exercising regularly. I’ve always done this, but now that I know it helps with sleeping, I make sure to stay consistent.

My Monday mornings have been much easier since I started focusing more on getting enough sleep.

What do you do when you’re struggling with sleep? Do you have a story about a time when being tired impacted you at work? Comment here or tweet us @HeadsUpAB.


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