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


Too much work on your plate? Add some chocolate to that dish.

Food for thought and for the soul.

By Dana Gerlitz

Did you know that cocoa and chocolate are known to reduce stress levels? It’s true! So, if you were looking to buy yourself that sea salt Lindt bar in the impulse aisle, now you have a reason to keep a small stash for those stressful days! Or, go ahead and turn your house into a chocolate factory:


Willy Wonka didn’t seem to stress about much, did he? Image credit: Google images.

Whether you experience stress at work—or outside of work—it can have an impact on how you perform at your job and on your interactions with co-workers. Stress can be caused by a number of factors, including the following:

  • Starting a new job.
  • Experiencing change in the workplace.
  • Uncertainty.
  • Having a full workload, or shouldering too much responsibility.
  • An unhealthy diet.
  • Lack of exercise.
  • And of course for most of you….going back to school and adding more to your workload.

These are just a few of the many reasons you might experience stress and it’s important to identify what is causing you stress, so you can be prepared to cope.

Stress can result in headaches, drowsiness, and mood swings. It can prevent you from being your best self at work, or, these impacts to your health can compromise your safety.

Stress can become your worst enemy.

Don’t hit the panic button yet, though!


Image credit: Google images.

There are ways to reduce your stress:

  • Eat a healthy diet.
  • Exercise regularly.
  • Organize your day by creating a list so you can go through it efficiently and avoid being overwhelmed.
  • Take deep breaths when you begin to feel stressed or flustered.
  • Most importantly, have a bite of chocolate (just a bite though)!
  • Or, take a look at these kittens:

Image credit: Google images.

What do you do to deal with stress? We’d love to know; comment here or send us a tweet @HeadsUpAB!


By: Calissa Reid

Just a few months ago, our province experienced the costliest disaster in Canadian history—the Fort McMurray wildfire.

Residents of the city had just a few short hours to leave their homes behind and evacuate, when they were finally able to return a month later, many people didn’t have homes to go home to.  I asked two friends to tell me about their experience throughout the evacuation, and to see how they’re feeling now.The impacts of the fire went well beyond the workplace, but their stories include important reminders of what to do during an emergency, at work and at home.


The sky was black with smoke and lit up with flames in Thickwood heights

Karli, Lab tech
Lives in Thickwood Heights
Evacuated for 30 days

I was in a meeting when my boss got a phone call from his wife. She told him that the fire had jumped the river and was moving towards the other side of town. Once I heard the fire was by my neighbourhood I knew I needed to get home.

When I got to my car it was covered with little bits of ash and burnt pine needles. I found out later on that an e-mail went out about 30 minutes after I left work that everyone could go home because of the fire.

I was lucky because I was supposed to be heading on vacation in a few days, so I had a bag full of belongings already packed. I was home for about 20 minutes when my neighborhood was placed under mandatory evacuation.

I headed out of the city around 5 p.m., and after waiting around 45 minutes to grab fuel my family and I made it to Lac La Biche around 11:30 that night.

I spent the next month moving between Lac La Biche, Edmonton and Manitoba.

After the evacuation was lifted, going back to work was complicated—there was a lot of damage from the smoke and power loss.  There were a lot of problems resulting from being away for such a long time, but we’ve worked together and it’s getting back to normal now.

Now that I’m home I realize how important it is to stay calm in a situation; It’s better to stay calm—you can figure out the little things when you have a clear mind.

Chelsey, Secretary
Lost her home in Abasand, and has now moved to Kamloops
Evacuated for 41 days

I had been working, and it seemed like a regular day until lunch time. I was watching the smoke clouds growing larger and larger from my office when I got a text message from my friend with pictures of my neighborhood on fire; It was terrifying.


A harrowing view from Chelsey’s office before she left work.

Around 1:40 I was able to go home and meet up with my boyfriend. In the 15 minutes it took me to drive home, the evacuation for Abasand had changed from voluntary to mandatory; we no longer had a choice to leave, we had to go.

Even though we had been told the day before to pack a bag, we didn’t have anything ready. I honestly believed if we were evacuated, we would be able to return the next day.  I left important things behind because I didn’t think we’d need them.

We were low on gas, but we decided we would drive until there was nothing left. It normally takes us fifteen minutes to drive through town—today it took three hours. I saw neighborhoods, restaurants and hotels that were burnt to the ground. I was so appreciative and grateful for all the officers standing with masks on and a water bottle in hand, as we were fleeing they stood in position, directing and pointing to tell us where to go.  After 15 long hours in the car with very little sleep we made it to Edmonton.

I went back to work on June 20, but I only worked for three days before I went on stress leave. It was hard to focus on work when my home was five minutes away in ashes. It felt like I needed to come back home ready to conquer the world, and I wasn’t ready. I had to deal with the emotions from losing everything. I decided to leave my job and move out of town. I needed a fresh start.

When the fire started I told myself I would take a few sentimental things, but in the moment I just grabbed what I could and ran. I may have lost my home and belongings, but I am safe, as are my friends and family. I feel unexplainable gratitude for that, and for the officers, firemen and volunteers who did everything they could to help.


By Lauren Smith

Unless you left planet Earth for the month of July, you’ve probably heard about the latest craze that’s pretty much taken over the entire world: Pokemon Go.


Photo credit: Nintendo

Some of us on the Heads Up team have caught the Pokefever, myself included.

I’ve become absolutely hooked on this scavenger hunt-type game for a few reasons: it’s gotten me up from my desk for lunchtime walks, I’m exploring different parts of the city, and I’ve also met other players on my Pokestrolls. It’s connecting people in a new way and getting players to be more active, which I think is pretty rad.

However, in the few short weeks since Pokemon Go was launched in Canada, reports have been piling up of players injuring themselves while out catching Pokemon.

So, for the Pokemon Go players among us, let’s review some important safety tips to ensure you stay safe as you level up:


Keep your head up (and your phone on vibrate)

As we’ve said before on the blog, distractions are dangerous. Whether you’re on the job or jaunting around town, it’s important to pay attention to what you’re doing. Although playing Pokemon Go does require you to be on your phone, make sure you’re always aware of your surroundings. To help, turn your phone’s vibration alerts on so your phone will vibrate when a Pokemon pops up! That way you don’t need to stare at your phone to see if any Pokemon appear and you can be alert as you walk around. When you need to catch a Pokemon or fiddle with your app settings, stop and take a break until you can return your focus to your surroundings.


Go-ing from 0 to level 20

In order to have any success with the game, you need to be active. Whether it’s wandering around different neighbourhoods in search of Pokemon or getting your kilometres in so you can hatch those eggs.

If you’re not used to being on the go for extended periods of time, your body will quickly notice the increased activity. It’s a good idea to take frequent breaks to give your body a rest while you’re out hunting Pokemon, and bring a water bottle with you to keep hydrated.

I’d also highly recommend comfortable footwear when you’re heading out for extended Pokemon Go sessions. Just like you wouldn’t work without the proper gear, think of proper footwear as part of your PPE (personal protective equipment) for being the ultimate Pokemaster.


Real-world rules apply

Although Pokemon Go is digital, it requires you to navigate the real world to hunt for Pokemon in your environment. It’s easy to get caught up in the virtual reality of the game, but it’s important to still follow real-world customs: private property is off limits, construction zones are unsafe and to be avoided, and it’s considered disrespectful to play Pokemon Go in some areas (such as memorials, places of worship, hospitals, etc.).  It’s best to stay safe and be courteous by exploring public places like parks, which I’ve found are often littered with rare Pokemon!


Do you have any tips on how to stay safe when out catching Pokemon? Comment below or tweet us at @HeadsUpAB!


By Angela Unsworth

During the summertime, we’re caught up in many different activities that take us outside to enjoy the long awaited sunshine. For myself, I put a harness on my cat, attach a leash and take her for walks outside.


It’s true; I’m that crazy cat lady that lives down the street from you. This is my cat on one of our walks.

As I was walking the other day, I pulled out my phone to take a picture of the adorable beastie to share on Instagram and, of course, I almost missed a step on the sidewalk. There’s nothing more embarrassing than falling flat on your face because you’ve got your nose in a phone.

Now, why is this important for you to know? My point here is that sometimes the weather is so nice and we’re just so distracted in our enjoyment of it, that we might not be very aware of safety. I’m sure the last thing you’re doing is heading inside to check the news on your computer. To help keep you updated about what’s going on—so you can keep your free time to enjoy the outside and the summer sun—I collected some work safety related stories in the news for you:

Ramping up safety inspections. Throughout the rest of the summer, residential construction companies will be undergoing surprise safety visits from provincial safety inspectors. These inspections will take place until the end of September, during some of the busiest months for construction companies.

Rollover resulting in two fatalities. On Monday afternoon, two workers passed away after their construction vehicle rolled into a ditch. This happened near Beaverlodge, AB. No other vehicles or individuals were involved in the accident. Occupational Health and Safety and RCMP are continuing to investigate this incident.

And finally…there’s an app for that. A software company called eCompliance launched a new Hazard Assessment Module which is an assessment database that tracks workplace hazards across all jobs and sites. It’s been tested by the University of Alberta, which found that it improved the level of communication about potential hazardous situations.

Have you seen any safety-related stories in the news lately? Share it by leaving a comment or tweeting us @HeadsUpAB.


By Caitlin Kehoe

As we all know, festival season is in full swing and there are plenty of awesome events in and around our province to enjoy. Last week, Melissa shared some great safety tips to keep in mind while you adventure at festivals this summer.

But what about those of you who will spend time working or volunteering at one? Attending festivals as a fan can be a little overwhelming at times; when you’re there to do an important job, it can be even more so, and it comes with its own set of risks.

The good news is it’s totally possible to be safety conscious during your shifts and still have the time of your life!


Image source:

Bottles of water and reflective vests are necessities for these festival volunteers.

Here are a few tips to keep in mind.

Fuel up. When you are spending hours in the hot sun, you can become dehydrated more quickly than you realize. Take the time to drink water (and plenty of it). Be sure to eat, too. This seems obvious, but there could be times when eating may not be at the forefront of your mind. Keep small snacks like granola bars on hand and use your breaks to eat a full meal. Not only is this important for your health, you will also be much more useful to the people around you when your energy levels are high.

Use the buddy system. The tried-and-true system we learned in kindergarten is still around for a reason—it works! Make friends with a fellow volunteer and keep tabs on each other during your shifts. If you see a person who looks sick or hurt, for example, and you want to head over and make sure they’re okay, let your buddy know where you’re going so they will be ready to help if needed. Someone should always know where you are in case of emergencies, even if you’re just taking a quick washroom break.


Image source:

Know where important places like the first aid and security stations are.

Be prepared. We are all aware that weather in Alberta is unpredictable, and this becomes extra relevant at outdoor festivals. Regular attendees have the option of finding a shady area or taking cover from the rain but, as a worker, you’ll likely have to stay put at your post. Make every effort to be prepared for whatever Mother Nature throws your way. Wear a hat and sunglasses as protection from harmful rays and have a lightweight disposable rain poncho ready to go. When it gets dark, wear a reflective safety vest to stay visible.

Give yourself a break, kid! We typically default to “go mode” at festivals so this can be challenging, but it’s important to delegate some downtime to rest and recharge. This is especially true if you’re scheduled to work a shift during crazy late or early hours. On your breaks, take the time to sit, grab a bite and enjoy the music or other events. At the end of the day, be sure to get some quality sleep. Your body will thank you in the morning.


Image source:

Stay safe and have fun out there this summer!

Whether you’re heading to a festival as a worker, a volunteer, or a fan, be sure to bring your safety-conscious attitude and make some unforgettable memories while you’re there!

What are some safety tips that you think should be shared with festival-goers? Let us know in the comments or tweet us @HeadsUpAB.

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