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


By Elyse Nabata

A hazard is a situation, condition, or thing that may be dangerous to the health and safety of workers. A hazard assessment is the process of identifying hazards and ways to eliminate or control them. Typically each workplace has its own hazard assessment process, so always make sure that you’re familiar with your company’s policy and procedures. Hazard assessments are best practice in the workplace and can also be applied to everyday life.

  1. Select the job to be analyzed

A ‘job’ consists of a task or series of tasks to be completed. Our example will be mowing the lawn.

  1. Break the job down into a sequence of steps:

Take out lawnmower and set it up

a. Start lawnmower
b. Mow lawn
c. Bag clippings
d. Discard clippings
e. Put lawnmower away

  1. Identify potential hazards

Before starting, go through each step and identify potential hazards that could occur. You are basically asking yourself “What if ___?” As an example, we’ll identify hazards for three steps of the job:

Step 1: Take out lawnmower and set it up


  • Slips, trips and falls
  • You may be handling gas, which is flammable and combustible

Step 2: Start lawnmower


  • Sound of the motor could cause hearing damage
  • Muscle strain from pulling starter cord

Step 3: Mow lawn


  • Moving blade of the motor
  • Lawnmower could kick up hidden rocks or objects in the grass
  • Slips, trips and falls
  1. Determine preventive measures to overcome these hazards

Now list ways that each hazard could be eliminated or controlled. Eliminating means removing the potential for the hazard to occur completely, and is usually the best option. Controls are ways to reduce the risk of the hazard. There are several categories of controls; to learn more, visit the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety’s website. In our example we’ll cover only a few hazards, but in real application ensure you cover all of them.

Hazard: Slips, trips and falls


  • Wear comfortable, sturdy footwear and ensure shoelaces are tied
  • Don’t wear baggy clothing that you could step on or get caught on things
  • Keep your eyes on the task at hand

Hazard: Muscle strain from pulling starter cord


  • Stretch arms to warm up before pulling cord

Hazard: Sound of the motor could cause hearing damage


  • Wear hearing protection

Hazard: Lawnmower could kick up hidden rocks or objects in the grass


  • Do a preliminary scan and remove any large objects in the grass
  • Wear eye protection
  1. Update as conditions change

When conditions change (e.g., change in weather, change in location, introduction of new substances, new steps in the process), it is very important to stop and reassess hazards, as new risks may have been introduced.

Remember these basic steps and you’ll be on your way to keeping yourself and others safe!


By Caitlin Kehoe

There is one particular day of my life that I will never forget. I was in junior high, and it was one of the last days before summer vacation. I should have been excited but, on this particular morning, I wasn’t feeling like myself.

My class was doing an activity that involved getting up and walking around. When I stood up from my desk, a rush of blood went to my head and I felt instantly woozy.

I told my teacher this, and she instructed me to sit down and wait while my mom was called. As I made my way back to my desk, I felt my legs give out from underneath me, and then everything went black.

I had briefly fainted from dehydration, and that feeling is something I never want to experience again.

I was fortunate enough to have been only mildly dehydrated. My mom took me to the hospital, and I was told to go home, rest, and drink plenty of fluids. The next day, I was feeling much better.

But dehydration can be much more serious than what happened to me and, especially during the summer months, it’s a risk that everyone should be aware of. Whether you’re earning some cash working outside this summer or you plan to spend your free time soaking up rays on the beach, here are some tips to remember.



  • Break the rule: The “8X8 Rule” that states we should drink eight 8-ounce glasses of water each day isn’t as accurate as you might have thought. According to the American Institute of Medicine, for optimal hydration men should drink 13 cups of fluids per day and women should drink 9 cups.
  • Other fluids count: Drinking that much each day may seem impossible, but remember that those numbers include ALL fluids. Coffee, fruit juices, and many foods (such as cucumbers and watermelon) provide our bodies with water. That’s not to say that you should rely on those to stay hydrated — if you constantly have a coffee in your hand, swap it for some H2O.
  • Be aware of your environment: Our bodies lose water when we sweat, so doing physical activity and/or spending time in a hot environment will dehydrate you more quickly. In these situations, be extra vigilant and drink more water than usual.
  • Spot the symptoms: Symptoms of mild to moderate dehydration, which can usually be treated by drinking more fluids, include dry mouth, headache and lightheadedness. Symptoms of severe dehydration include dry skin, fever, confusion, and rapid heartbeat/breathing. Should you witness someone with any of these symptoms — or experience them yourself — get medical help right away.

Do you have any summer safety tips to share? Let us know in the comments or tweet us @HeadsUpAB


By Melissa Babcock

May long weekend has arrived and with it comes warmer temperatures (we hope), longer days and the beginning of summer just around the corner. This means countless students will soon be pounding the pavement looking for summer jobs, if they haven’t already. The influx of many new, possibly inexperienced young workers into any industry or organization brings with it the need to ensure everyone’s knowledge of workplace safety is complete and up-to-date. After all, a quick perusal through the newspaper will tell us exactly what can happen if one doesn’t work smart and work safe.

So without further ado, here are your six safety stories, which will—I hope—inspire all workers, young and old, to stay safe in the workplace, this summer and beyond!

Taking a step towards safety. Steps for Life is a fundraiser held annually by the Threads of Life organization, a charity that supports the families of Canadians who have suffered as a result of workplace injuries, fatalities and occupational disease. Every year in May, supporters across Canada gather to walk and raise funds and awareness about the importance of workplace safety. Over 1,200 people participated in Lethbridge’s walk on May 2, helping Steps for Life raise more than $60,000 overall.

Putting their money where their mouth is. In an effort to promote and improve workplace safety through training, education and preventative programs, Massachusetts’ Department of Industrial Accidents Office of Safety administers grants to employers and employees via their Workplace Safety Training and Education Grant program. Seven employers from the Bay State were recently awarded over $100,000 in grants, which will go towards safety-related training for more than 500 workers.

Increasing recruitment through safety. A body shop owner in Regina had trouble finding and keeping staff because of the hazards associated with the industry, so he decided to completely overhaul his business’ safety practices. Among other changes, his was the first body shop in Saskatchewan to sign the Mission Zero charter.

Lights, camera, safety! The winners of WorkSafeBC’s annual student video contest were announced on May 4. This year’s theme was No bullies at work – my right to a safe and respectful workplace and the talented winners were clearly inspired.

Ground-breaking legislation for young workers. Just in time for high school students to start lining up their summer jobs, the governor of Oklahoma signed into law a bill designed to provide workplace safety education in schools. This law is the first of its kind in the United States.

And finally… A construction company in Ontario was fined after an incident in September of 2013 where a worker fell from a roof at a job site in Niagara and suffered broken bones and a head injury. The worker was not wearing any kind of fall protection when the accident occurred.

Do you have a safety story to share? Leave a comment or tweet us @HeadsUpAB!


By Angela Unsworth

The struggle…it is real…

Have you ever had one of those mornings that just seemed to be challenging no matter what it is you are doing?

That’s my day today. I burned my thumb attempting to curl my hair for work this morning, a new skill I’m trying to learn. Then, when I arrived at work, I stabbed the same thumb with a tack while updating the posters on our bulletin board.

Want to know something a little funny? The poster I was putting up was for NAOSH week, which really got me thinking about work safety.

What is NAOSH week, you ask?

North American Occupational Safety and Health (NAOSH) Week focuses on increasing awareness among employers, workers and the public about the importance of work safety. From May 3-9, committees and volunteers across the continent coordinate activities that teach work safety.

Here at work, our health, safety and wellness advisory committee held a poster contest for younger relatives of employees. The committee encouraged participants between the ages of 5-17 to create a poster that shows what they do to stay safe. It’s a great way to get people thinking about safety, no matter where they are. It served me well today; after I stabbed my thumb and looked at the poster, I took some time to think about my actions and slowed down a bit to make sure I was less likely to hurt myself.

I turned my day around!

Did you get to participate in any NAOSH activities this week? What were they? Comment here or tweet us @headsupab to let us know!

Also, don’t forget you can still participate in our #WhatWouldYouMiss contest!


By: Calissa Reid

On this day two years ago I was crawling out of bed much earlier than my typical 10 a.m. wake-up call, ironing my sleekest pair of dress pants and practicing a firm handshake for the first day of my summer job. I arrived at the building happy to be there, bursting with energy and ready to work. But after years of sleeping in during university— ain’t nobody got time for an 8 a.m. lecture— I was struggling to keep my eyes open by the end of the day.

Two years later, a few things have changed. Waking up at 10 a.m. is a rare treat, and the pants I am wearing today are far from the starched pants of days past (thankfully!), but my attitude coming in to work is largely the same. The days I spent here as a summer student made for one of the best summers of my life, and I’m so grateful that I got to stick around afterwards.

Many of you will be starting your summer jobs, practicums and internships on Monday. So I’ve gathered a few tips, from my own experience and from some experts, on how to make the most out of your summer employment.

IMG_2916One of the many days spent working (and laughing) with two of my fellow summer students, Brenna and Dylan. Miss you guys!

1. It’s more than just a summer job.

Whether you’ve scored a gig in retail or you’re doing an internship for your degree, this job is important.

A summer job gives you that much-needed break from school, income and, if you’re working in your desired field, your summer job can give you your first taste of what’s to come with your career.  You may also get the opportunity to stay on with the organization, or come back next summer, so make a great impression.

Take your job seriously. Have a positive attitude, get involved and treat everyone around you with respect.

2. Connect with your colleagues.

As a student, your summer job is one of the biggest networking opportunities you’ll get.  Identify people whom you’d like to learn from and work with, and talk to your supervisor about aligning with them for projects. You can learn just as much from a colleague as you can from a professor.

Don’t limit your networking to your superiors, either; you can build strong friendships and teamwork skills through working with your fellow summer students. I know I did!

3. Budget, budget, budget.

You’ve survived the dark ages known as the end of April, and soon you’ll be making money again! It can be tempting to spend that first paycheque on something fun. It’s OK to splurge a little bit, but remember that your time dedicated to a full-time job is temporary.

Save some of the money you’re making now for when you’re back hitting the books in the fall and you’ll feel much happier come April. Not all of us are finance majors, so most banks have student budget calculators to do the work for you.

4. Keep records.

For some reason, instructors love to ask students what they’ve done over the summer. I’ve had multiple classes where I’ve had to comment on my work experience or provide samples of some of the work I’ve done.

Ask your boss if you can keep copies of some of the non-confidential work you’ve done to use for a portfolio for the future.

5. Safety first.

 It wouldn’t be a Heads Up blog post without a mention of safety, would it? For many students starting their jobs for the summer, there will be a new employee orientation.  Those presentations can be long (my orientation was two whole days!), and you get a lot of information thrown at you, but try to remember the important bits.

If you can’t remember the specifics around safety for your position, check in with your supervisor to get a refresher course.

And most importantly, you have rights on the job. Check out Lauren’s post to learn more.

The few months I spent as a summer student taught me so much, and I made some great friends. If you’re starting a job for the summer, I hope your experience is as great as mine was.  Enjoy the time off school, and work smart and work safe!

Are you starting a summer job soon? Let us know about your experience in the comments or tweet us @HeadsUpAB



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