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

May
27

By:  Calissa Reid

Earlier this month I went to the happiest place on earth—Disneyland! I spent a few days in sunny California with my family visiting the theme parks, doing a bit of shopping and we ended off the trip with the Tinkerbell Half Marathon. It was such a fun getaway.

The half marathon had over 13,000 people running through Disneyland and California Adventure, which seems like a huge crowd, but that’s just a normal day for Disney. It’s estimated that the 85-acre park draws around 44,000 visitors a day, and the park has in the past reached capacity (rumored to be around 80,000 guests) on special holidays like Christmas. That’s one popular mouse.

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My reward for finishing 21.1 km. I also was honored with some blisters—lucky me!

While I was at the parks I started to think about safety in large crowds. Disney is a pro at managing thousands of people, but that’s not the case everywhere—crowds can be dangerous. Most of us will be a face in a crowd at some point, for work or for play, and there are some key things to keep in mind when you’re getting up close and personal with 13,000 other people.

Go with the flow.  Most of us know this one already. A crowd is very much like a rushing river, and you don’t want to swim upstream. Find a pathway which is moving in the same direction as you and you’ll feel much more comfortable— you’ll move faster too! Crowds seem to follow the same rules as the road, stick to the right and you’ll be good.

Patience, young worker.  How much fun is waiting in a line for 30 minutes? None. But it’s so important to respect the venue, and the people working. Waiting sucks. Being kicked out because you cut in line at the bathroom sucks way more.

Rendezvous for two (or three, or four). If you’re travelling in a group, determine a meeting point in case you get separated or there’s an emergency. This isn’t as big of an issue now that everyone and their dog has a cellphone, but it’s a good to have a backup plan in case technology fails.

Keep your eyes open and heads up.  That means no walking and texting! Pay attention when walking in a high traffic area; you could crash into a person or object, or make some people around you angry with your pace. Something to keep in mind (although not at Disneyland of course) is that there may be some suspicious troublemakers around, who may threaten your safety or try and sneak away with some of your belongings. Your chances of being pick pocketed more than double if you’re in a large crowd, so be sure to stay aware and protect your belongings.

Some of the most fun events involve large crowds. (Music festivals, theme parks, plays and movies—­­just to name a few!) Just because there’s going to be lots of people, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t go, you just need to be prepared. And sometimes a crowd can be a good thing…I mean, how cool is it when you’re in a packed arena and everyone is singing your favourite song? Crowds can be overwhelming, but they’re often worth the cool experience on the other side.

If three’s a crowd, then what’s 13,000 people running through Disneyland? Let’s go with awesome. I think that describes it perfectly.

May
20

By Lauren Smith

 

Open road, wind blowing through your hair, riding off into the
sunset …

The allure and excitement of hopping on the back of a motorcycle is like something out of a Kanye West music video or the cult classic Grease 2.

However, the reality isn’t exactly like they make it out to be in pop culture.

While it’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of whizzing down the road on a motorcycle, before you even think of getting on the back of the bike, here are my top safety considerations as a motorcycle passenger.

 

Attire to perspire

Summer is the best time to go out for a cruise! But, when it’s hot out, you can pretty much guarantee I’ll be frolicking around barefoot in a sun dress. Although this is my favourite summer getup, it does not offer the necessary protection when riding on a motorcycle.

The last thing I want to do in the summer heat is layer up, BUT, just like on the job, it’s ultra important to protect yourself. So, before I get on a bike, on go the pants, jacket, boots, gloves, helmet – the whole nine yards. Despite the heat, safety always comes first.

Besides, I do feel pretty badass in my leather boots and jacket, and safety never goes out of style.

Which brings me to my next point …

 

Stay alert, stay safe

Once you look the part, it’s important that you feel the part.

As our favourite rabbit safety cartoon duo of the ‘80s and ‘90s promoted, it’s important to stay alert in order to stay safe.

Just like it’s important to be alert (and sober) on the job, so is the same for riding on a motorcycle. During the ride you need to be aware of what the driver is doing so you’re prepared and aware of what you should be doing (e.g. if the driver is speeding up, you need to brace yourself and hold on tighter; if the driver is turning, you need to lean with the driver, etc).

In addition to being aware, there’s another important way to know what the driver’s intentions are while on the road …

 

Destination: communication

As a passenger, despite your close proximity to the driver, you aren’t able to talk to one another. Diminished communication can be a safety risk in any situation, but particularly when you’re barreling down the highway at increasing speeds.

Before you even get on the bike, it’s important to establish some nonverbal cues in case either of you needs to communicate something urgent (e.g. if the driver plans to speed up quickly, you need to him/her to stop, etc.).

Same goes for the job site: If you’re working in an environment where verbal communication isn’t possible or limited (e.g. around loud equipment, on a quiet set while filming, etc.), it’s crucial to establish hand signals or gestures should you need to relay important information to your co-workers.

 

Do you have any other motorcycle passenger safety tips? Share them with us below in the comments!

May
13

By Angela Unsworth

Over here at Heads Up, being safe at work is usually top of mind. But, just like Melissa—who wrote in her post about this last week—when I was younger, safety at work was not the first thing I thought about. Now, I try to stay up-to-date about workplace safety and I’m frequently checking the news. Sometimes, I struggle emotionally while reading through the articles.  For example, reading about the heartbreaking situation in Fort McMurray, where so many people are being displaced, I feel sorry for their loss. However at the end of each article, there is a summary of all the support that Albertans are offering and one common theme emerges; resiliency.

In the face of adversity, there are always stories of hope, of lessons learned and of the collective working together to show resiliency by overcoming obstacles..

To help keep you up-to-date with work safety in the news, I’ve collected the following stories for you:

Day of Mourning. Each year, the National Day of Mourning honours workers who lose their lives while at work. In 2015, there were 125 workplace fatalities and on April 28, many organizations took time to remember those workers.

Two separate workplace incidents on the same day. Sadly, on April 27, one day before the National Day of Mourning, two individuals were killed in two separate work-related accidents, one in Redwater, AB and the other in Blackfalds, AB. Each incident is being thoroughly investigated by Occupational Health and Safety officials.

Fort McMurray forest fires. As wildfire spread into Fort McMurray, 88,000 residents were evacuated. Although they found themselves stranded along the highway without gas or food, the province pulled together to send relief efforts to those displaced by the fires. While crews continue to struggle to keep the fire under control, the Alberta Government is considering next steps to support the evacuees, including financial aid and transitional housing. Shell has shut down operations in the area to maintain safety for its employees.

And finally… The Canadian Labour Congress is advocating for a complete ban of imports with asbestos, while the Automotive Industries Association is looking to discontinue its use. Though workers follow all safety measures when handling products that contain asbestos, there is no absolute protection. The use of asbestos has been banned for federal construction projects, but these groups are looking to expand the ban.

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

May
06

By Melissa Babcock

Five years ago, I walked up the concrete steps to my new workplace for the first time. I was fresh out of school and about to embark on a summer job in my newly chosen field. I was nervous to the point of sweating but was hopeful that my stint as a summer student would go well and give me some much needed experience in my new career.

Well, that summer thankfully turned into a permanent job and this week, things came full circle when I got up in front of our newest employees and gave a quick presentation about the Heads Up campaign. We try to reach out to this particular group of new recruits every year since a lot of them are students and are therefore exactly who we want to connect with. Any time we can reach out to young workers and encourage them to learn more about workplace safety, we take full advantage.

As I prepped for my presentation, I thought back to the reasons why the Heads Up campaign was created in the first place. Workers in Alberta under the age of 25 are 50 per cent more likely than older workers to be injured during their first six months on the job. And in 2015, over 7,000 young workers in Alberta were injured in a workplace accident.

Those are pretty sobering statistics and when I think about it, I don’t remember ever giving safety a second thought when I was younger and first started working. I didn’t have the first clue about safety training or procedures or my rights in the workplace. And when I think about some of the risks I took back then (scaling high shelves in a stock room instead of getting a ladder comes to mind), I realize how lucky I was to escape serious injury. Having a campaign like Heads Up, or any safety resources to draw on, might have made me more aware of such an important issue.

How can you learn more?

The Canadian Government’s Services for Youth website has some excellent resources for students entering the workforce this summer. You can also look at Alberta’s Occupational Health and Safety page for young workers. And of course, we on the Heads Up team are always happy to talk about safety whenever we can. Check out one of our past blogs for some information on your rights in the workplace.

Keep your heads up and work smart so your summer can be both rewarding and safe!

Have a summer job experience to share? What do you know about safety as a young worker? Leave us a comment or tweet us @HeadsUpAB!

May
03

By Calissa Reid

Yesterday I crushed thirteen flights of stairs in heels—which is crazy, I know.

The building I work in had a fire drill, and I was in a meeting on the top floor of the building in a pair of my favourite pumps when the alarm went off. That’s not my kind of cardio.

Regardless of footwear choices, we had to evacuate, so down the stairs I went. And while my feet were feeling it when I got outside, I am glad that we all got out of the building safely and quickly.

We had the fire drill because my organization knows how important it is to be prepared in case of an emergency.  The company has developed an emergency response plan, which outlines what employees like myself should do in case of an emergency like a fire or medical problem, and then puts the plan to the test every year.

As employees, we need to be aware of what we’re supposed to do in case of an emergency, and there’s so many ways that we can be prepared. When you first start at your job, you may have a safety orientation that outlines emergency procedures, and you’ll probably have check-ins throughout the year and have to practice just like I did (but hopefully not in heels like me—oi!).

There’s a shared responsibility in keeping safe at work; your employer should be providing you with a safe work environment, but you can be involved too. It’s so important to speak up, ask questions, and know the risks and dangers with your job. It’s also really important to know what to do if there’s an emergency.

The reality is emergencies happen, and they happen fast. Knowing what to do when there’s an emergency will help you and your employer stay safe at work, even if it means lots of stairs in high heels. Talk to your employer about how to be prepared for emergencies at work.

There’s one last thing I want to show you—this website has some cool information on being prepared for emergencies at home (including a zombie apocalypse survival guide). Stay safe!

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