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


By Angela Unsworth

I took a break from my Angel and Buffy the Vampire Slayer binge watching and decided to check out a movie the other night. I’m usually drawn towards themes of fantasy and sci-fi, but I was looking for something a little different. As I clicked on “genres”, then “action” in the Netflix search stream, the first movie that popped up was Elysium, a sci-fi thriller. I thanked my lucky stars (and Netflix’s research skills) that it was a lovely combination of sci-fi and action, and pressed play.

There I was, sitting back, relaxing and watching the movie when within the first 30 minutes or so I saw a few obvious work safety issues.  I took out my pen and paper and started making some notes to share with you.

  1. Working while injured

In this picture we see Matt Damon working with a broken arm. The job he is performing seems to be manageable to do with one arm.

If you have sustained an injury and can’t perform your normal work tasks, chat with your boss to find something else you might be able to do. Even if you can’t do your regular job, there may be other work you can do while you recover.

If you have any questions about what you’re capable of, sit down with your doctor and ask him/her.

2. Know your rights—don’t do what Matt Damon does next…

He sees that the door is stuck and while he knows it’s dangerous to get into the chamber, his boss (unethically and unsafely) tells him it’s either get into the chamber to fix the door, or lose his job.

Matt Damon wanted to keep his job and ended up trapped in a chamber that blasted him with radiation. I’m not sure what kind of work you might be doing, whether it’s working in retail, coffee shops, construction, or with chemicals, but there will be something that poses a danger to you. Ask for help, talk to your boss, know your rights and say no if it’s dangerous!

If you don’t know your rights, check out this site:

Specifically for this situation, there is a section that discusses your right to refuse unsafe work.

3. Wear the proper safety gear

Image credit: Google images

Image credit: Google images

As you see here, by wearing the proper gear, the character Kruger is taking no chances of sustaining any physical injuries. Make sure you wear the personal protective equipment (PPE) that is needed for the work you do to make sure you stay safe. It’s made to keep you safe.

4. If injured, seek medical help

Image credit: Google images

Image credit: Google images

In the movie, there were these fantastic healing medical pods. If you were a legal citizen living in Elysium and were sick or injured, you’d just pop yourself in one of these (found in every home…you’d have one of your very own) and bam! You’d be healed!

Unfortunately, we don’t have anything like this. Since we don’t have these miraculous healing tools, it’s important that the moment you get injured, you seek medical help. If you get hurt at work, talk to your boss, your doctor and WCB.

Elysium is set in a world where workers’ rights have been taken away. That’s not the case in Alberta. Know your rights. Work smart and work safe.

Have you watched any movies lately with glaringly obvious worker safety issues? Let us know by commenting below or tweeting us @HeadsUpAB.


By: Calissa Reid

Recently I had my first serious allergic reaction.  Within hours of using false eyelash glue —a girl’s gotta look good for a night out— I started coughing and my head felt like it weighed 100 pounds.  I couldn’t breathe through my nose and breathing through my mouth was a struggle. I was absolutely terrified.

After a couple of hours and a few doses of allergy medication I was back to normal, but the memory of how I felt in the moment of my allergic reaction lingered.  This was my first time having a serious allergic reaction, but some people experience allergies every single year.  One in six people in Canada suffer from seasonal allergies, and—it gets even scarier—30,000 Americans visit the ER due to food allergies every single year.


I feel ya Snoopy, I feel ya.

Allergies don’t care if you are at work and you’ve got a big presentation to do; they will flare up when provoked. I’ve had only one serious reaction, so obviously I’m no pro, but I’ve scoured the web for some tips on getting relief from allergies.

Wear a mask to lessen exposure to common allergens.  Depending on your job, you can be exposed to common allergies like chemical fumes, mold and mildew or pet dander.  If something at your job is making you really sick, you should probably look for a new place to work. But if your reactions are sporadic and mild there are things you can do to lessen your chances of a reaction.

  • Make sure that your work area is well ventilated and has proper humidity to minimize mold growth.
  • If dust is your enemy, ask to have your workplace regularly dusted, and you can always wear a mask if you know you’re going to be exposed to something that will cause a reaction.

Look out for your co-workers.  At both of my jobs, there are people with serious food allergies. That may mean that your office makes a commitment to not bring in food with that ingredient, or you just need to be careful with where you eat and wash your dishes.  Remember that there can be serious consequences if someone ingests something they shouldn’t.  If you’re the one with the food allergies, this article has great advice for managing food allergies at the office.  It’s not just food we need to look out for; many people get headaches from fragrance, so it’s a good idea to skip perfume and heavily-fragranced products at the office.

Antihistamines and decongestants are your friends! When it comes to hay fever, many people get used to living with congestion, chronic sinus problems, disrupted sleep and breathing from your mouth.  There are over-the-counter and prescription medications that lessen or eliminate your symptoms.  Antihistamines work by blocking the chemical that causes allergy symptoms and relieve itching and sneezing. Decongestants reduce swelling in the nasal passages, which opens them up and makes it much easier to breathe. Even better, there are non-drowsy medications, which help relieve your symptoms but don’t put you down for the count. If the over-the-counter meds don’t help, talk to your doctor about getting something with a bit more kick—you don’t need to live with this.

My recent reaction has shown me just how awful and debilitating allergies can be. For those of you who suffer on the regular, I feel for you.  While you can’t control how your body reacts to things, you can control what you do before and after the reaction.  And I hope one day that we can put allergies out of work, for good. (See what I did there?)



By Melissa Babcock

When I began my Google search for the latest edition of Safety in the news, I noticed a trend amongst the results that popped up and it wasn’t good. It seems that the most recent news related to workplace safety is full of stories about unsafe workplaces, injuries and worst of all, fatalities. I’m hopeful this isn’t the beginning of a trend and more of a reminder that workplace safety is something we must always keep top of mind – our very lives could depend on it.

Trying to drive change from tragedy. Wiremu and Marcella Edmonds lost their son Robert in a workplace accident in 2013. The 23-year-old, a fifth generation bushman, was crushed by a falling tree. Since then, his grieving parents have dedicated themselves to raising awareness about improving workplace safety, specifically within New Zealand’s forestry industry.

A troubling increase. A recent report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that workplace fatalities in the U.S. are currently the highest they’ve been since 2008. In particular, the number of worker deaths from the oil and gas industry has risen dramatically, calling into question the effectiveness of the Occupational Health & Safety Administration’s policy of enforcing workplace safety rules, as opposed to focusing on education and prevention.

Hits a little closer to home. A recent report released by the Parkland Institute contained some disconcerting statistics. The report claims that not only do more than half of teens employed in Alberta suffer from workplace injuries each year, but up to 70 per cent of young teens (between the ages of 12 and 14) are performing illegal and unsafe work. Reports like these are why campaigns like Heads Up exist – to increase awareness of workplace safety so young workers know about their rights in the workplace.

Have you been particularly affected by any safety-related stories lately? If so, leave a comment or tweet us @HeadsUpAB.


By Peter Brown

Image credit: “New Colleague” by stavos / Flickr

Image credit: “New Colleague” by stavos / Flickr

Cuts, bruises, concussions and scalded flesh: I’ve seen it all in my four years as a barista. It’s tough in the coffee business but you have to keep at the grind (pun intended). Being a barista is actually a very difficult job at times, but it’s also very rewarding—the fast pace that a café job demands is exhilarating. Exhilaration aside, there are a few things that can make your experience as a barista much safer.

  1. Practice safe caffeine intake.

We’ve all been there…you went to sleep much too late. Maybe you were up all night writing that term paper—despite the fact that you work in the morning. Whatever kept you up, you now feel like a walking trash can and your body is begging for release, for submission into the arms of sleep. But you must be strong. This is where it becomes very convenient that you work at a coffee house.

It’s time to caffeinate. You look lovingly at your cup of coffee; its steam envelops your face.

Image credit: "coffee steam 1" by waferboard / Flickr

Image credit: “coffee steam 1” by waferboard / Flickr

But, there’s an unfortunate truth that you’re probably too familiar with: caffeine doesn’t kick in right away. This can and will lead to drinking more caffeine in rapid succession (example: the time I had four cups of coffee in the first two hours of my shift). I probably don’t have to tell you that consuming too much caffeine is dangerous because it can lead to scary physical symptoms like irregular heartbeats. According to the Mayo Clinic, you can consume about 400 mg of caffeine per day safely. According to Starbucks’ nutrition guide, an espresso shot has 75mg, so you can probably have four espresso shots a day safely.

   2. Slow down.

Image credit: “Sometimes we simply have to...” by Luke Lawreszuk / Flickr

Image credit: “Sometimes we simply have to…” by Luke Lawreszuk / Flickr

I know, the job can become stressful. The line of cups seems to be longer than the Great Wall of China–so does the line of customers. You feel like you need to sprint around to work efficiently; you don’t, that’s how you hurt yourself (as I did a few years ago when I slipped on a puddle of water and almost gave myself a concussion).

In my experience as a barista, I’ve discovered that trying to do things too quickly makes you clumsy, and inevitably slows you down. Just breathe and make drinks at a reasonable pace. It all boils down to the fact that you’re only making coffee and if your safety means that it takes you an extra 20 seconds, then so be it.

    3. Be a positive person.

You will run out of cups. You will run out of sleeves. Heck, you will run out of coffee. But if you remain positive, everything will be okay. In most cases, no matter what you’re out of, as long as you demonstrate to a customer that you’re trying your best to provide them with quality service, they will notice and will be grateful for it. And if they don’t, it’s not your fault because you did everything you can. Be the bigger person and don’t let anyone turn you into a bitter barista.

     4. Wear safe clothing.

Wearing a uniform can be a total drag but, it’s usually there to protect you. Even if it’s not a part of your dress code:

A) Don’t wear open toe shoes (they say don’t play with fire, the same applies to hot liquids.) Closed shoes are like insurance for your feet; make sure they’re covered.

B) Don’t wear any dangly earrings, they could fall off. Also, personal bubbles don’t exist between baristas; there will be collisions. And when that does happen, you don’t want your hoops to get caught and potentially rip your ear open.

C) Don’t wear any shirts with overly long sleeves or pants with overly long legs for reasons similar to the dangly earrings. On the other hand, don’t wear anything too short or revealing because creepy customers will hit on you.

D) Don’t wear fake nails, you’ll lose them (possibly in a drink—yikes!)

    5. Always report an injury.

If you do hurt yourself, follow the injury protocol. Fill out the necessary forms so that you can be covered under the workers’ compensation board. Not sure where to find these? Talk to your boss.

    6. Make friends.

 All of the hazards involved with working in a café can be intimidating, but there’s also a surprising and rewarding payoff—making lifelong friends. The people I’ve worked alongside during my time as a barista are some of the closest friends I’ve ever had. Take the time to hang out outside of work. Organize a movie night. Turn a staff meeting into a potluck. The possibilities are endless.

Have you experienced unsafe caffeine intake or other hazards of working as a barista? Let us know by commenting below or tweeting us @HeadsUpAB


By Lauren Smith



Picture this: It’s a beautiful fall day and you’re stuck indoors.

To stave off boredom and pass the time, you scroll through your go-to social media sites. Your screen fills with updates and photos of your friends out enjoying the day: strolls around the park, trips to the market, drinks on a patio—all the fun activities you wish you were out enjoying with them.

That feeling you’re experiencing, that’s called FOMO.

FO·MO, short for fear of missing out

ˈfōmō/ noun, informal

“anxiety that an exciting or interesting event may currently be happening elsewhere”.

Sounds like something to avoid, right?

Well, you’re in luck—I’m here to help you bypass this awful feeling.

Let’s go back to a part of the story I left out: Why are you stuck indoors?

You were injured on the job. A workplace injury can mean time off work and time off from your life.

Less FOMO, more YOLO

We don’t want a work injury getting in the way of you doing the things you love.

That’s why we’re always talking about the importance of being safe at work:

  • Speaking up if something doesn’t look safe.
  • Asking for help if you’re unsure how to do something safely.
  • Making sure you’re trained on safety protocols and procedures, and following them.
    (If you haven’t been trained, ask your boss about training—he/she wants you to be safe, too!)

Unfortunately, sometimes accidents do happen despite every safety precaution. But the more we focus on working smartly and safely, the better our chance of reducing the occurrence and severity of work accidents.

Help your co-workers avoid FOMO (with free posters!)

We want to help you share the message at your work. We’ve turned some of our new ads into posters (below) that you can put up in your workplace to promote one of the most important reasons to stay safe at work—so you don’t miss out. And the best part: they’re free! That’s right—we’ll send the posters directly to you at no cost.

So what are ya waiting for? Head over to




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