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


By Lauren Smith

An alarm is ringing.

Smoke clouds your vision as you enter unfamiliar territory.

People run past you in the opposite direction, but you trudge forward.

Sounds like a tricky new video game, right?

What I described is a reality many first responders face every day.


Every place is their workplace

I recently learned about the Put Yourself in Our Boots campaign that helps organizations think about workplace safety from the perspective of emergency responders and provides the tools to help make changes in their workplaces.

We often talk about the importance of keeping our work environment safe for ourselves and our co-workers, but I’d never really given thought to the importance of keeping it safe should emergency responders ever need to quickly navigate our workplace (and it could likely be in less than stellar conditions – e.g., darkness, smoke, fire). Plus, responders aren’t familiar with your workplace like you are. This brings a whole new level of importance to ensuring there aren’t any safety risks (e.g., hallways aren’t blocked, items aren’t at risk of falling from high surfaces, no tripping hazards are present).

The campaign even has a short video on their site where you can hear first-hand from emergency responders about what it’s like when responding to a call. Find out more at



By Melissa Babcock

These days, you’d be hard pressed to find a news story that doesn’t have something to do with oil prices, the recent federal election, or one of the Kardashians. But I dug deep and was able to find several recent pieces of news all about our favourites topics: young workers, workplace safety and safety-conscious employers. Enjoy!

Demands for justice. After a factory in the Sundar Industrial area collapsed, killing 20 people (many of them children), hundreds of trade union members took to the streets of Lahore, Pakistan to demand a judicial inquiry to ensure such a tragedy does not reoccur.

A noticeable improvement. Northern Health, responsible for providing health care services to the residents of Northern British Columbia, has saved over one million dollars in costs related to workplace injuries over the past five years, since implementing new health and safety programs.

Winning awards for their focus on safety. The Sault Area Hospital (SAH) in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario was recently honoured with a pair of Canada’s Safest Employers awards, handed out to employers all across Canada who excel in promoting health and safety on the job. The SAH received a Gold award for workplace safety and a Silver award for workplace wellness.

Losses that go beyond fines. A chicken processing plant in Canton, Ohio has been fined more than one million dollars for unsafe work practices by the United States’ Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Safety issues at the plant have resulted in numerous accidents, including one in which a teenaged worker lost his leg.

And finally…The government of Saskatchewan has made a new Young Worker Readiness Certificate Course available online. This course is mandatory for 14-to 15-year-old workers in the Land of the Living Skies and helps them learn about their rights and responsibilities with regard to safety as they prepare to enter the workforce.

Have you seen any safety-related stories in the news lately? Tell us about them in the comments or tweet us @HeadsUpAB!


By Angela Unsworth

Recently, a friend of mine slipped and fell on a tomato that was on the ground at work.

Image credit: Google images

Image credit: Google images

That might seem to be a common thing found on the floor if she worked in a restaurant, but she doesn’t. She works at a zoo. It made me think about what kinds of dangers can pop up in the most unlikely places. It’s important to be aware of yourself and your environment at work. If you see something on the ground, such as a spill or something that could potentially be slipped on, stop and clean it up. Another person may not be able to see it and you could be preventing a workplace accident.

Her story also reminded me of a few dangerous situations I experienced at my first job. I worked at a coffee shop and on each shift we had to mop the floor. As you might imagine, some shifts were crazy busy and to make sure the floor got cleaned was no easy feat. On top of that, staff were walking quickly to fill orders. Rushing around on a wet floor is not the safest thing to do. I remember one time a coworker was carrying a tray of donuts and she slipped and fell on the wet floor. Donuts flew into the air while she went in the opposite direction.

Image credit: Google images.

Image credit: Google images.

Luckily, she was okay, but that could have had a different ending. What if she had been carrying hot coffee?

Hmm, carrying hot coffee…that reminds me of the time I fell on that same floor.

I had just poured a coffee and was chatting to my customer as I walked with it to the counter. One moment I was up, the next I was down. Somehow I managed to hold that coffee aloft, and didn’t spill a drop. I felt bizarrely proud of myself. I attribute my balancing circus skills to the fact that I’ve grown up in Alberta and we learn at an early age to maintain our balance on slippery surfaces with our annual eight months of winter.

But, even with our skills it’s always better to err on the safe side. There are many ways that these dangers could be averted.

1) Wait until it’s slower to mop the floor.

2) If you can’t wait and have to mop the floor right away, have another coworker follow after you with a dry mop to soak up the water.

3) Make sure you place signage everywhere the floor is wet, so your coworkers and customers know to be extra careful.

4) Put down dry mats so people have an opportunity to step on something that won’t test their inherited Albertan balance.

Beyond a few simple measures you can take to make your workplace safer, don’t forget the tale of the tomato hazard. Stay aware at work. Slips and falls aren’t limited to restaurants. If you see something, say something. If you can pick it up, then do!

Do you have any stories about slips and falls at your workplace? Leave a comment or tweet us @HeadsUpAB to let us know!


By Lauren Smith

It seems like every season new trends emerge—fashion, technology, celebrities, you name it.

And every season there are always the people who were hip to the upcoming trends before they hit the mainstream.



If you’re like me, you may be left feeling like you catch on to something only after it becomes popular. For once it’d be great to be ahead of the trending curve.

Well, here at Heads Up we have some insider knowledge of what is sure to be the next big thing. And we’re talking huge—rumour is it will be the theme of the Olsen twins’ spring fashion show.

Want to know what it is so you can FINALLY say you were into something before it became mainstream?


You heard it here first:

It’s workplace safety!

With more than 30,000 workplace injuries/illnesses among 15-24 year-olds in 2013 (and that’s just in Canada), it’s no wonder being healthy and safe is becoming the fly thing to do.

So, what can you do with this exclusive information? You can follow these tips to show your friends and co-workers you were already being safe at work before it becomes hip.


Steps to get ahead of the trend:

  1. If your boss asks you to do something that seems unsafe, speak up.

    Your boss will be super impressed with your keen awareness of safety and will likely want to promote you to be co-boss.

  2. Not sure how to do a task safely? Ask someone who knows.

    Once safety becomes mainstream at your workplace, he/she will be in awe that you cared about safety before it became cool.

  3. If you see people doing something unsafe, don’t be shy: let them know they’re being unsafe.

    Not only will they be blown away by your focus on safety, they’ll be grateful you helped them avoid a potential accident and will presumably want to buy you lunch.

  4. Always keep an eye out for safety and be the first to spot any potential hazards.

    Point them out to your boss or safety manager—this will also likely lead to a promotion.

  5. There’s no such thing as over the top when it comes to safety fashions.

    Protect any and all areas of your body that could be exposed to potential hazards with the appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE): goggles, ear plugs, gloves, hard hat, whatever is required for the job.

    For an extra edge, you can even don a reflective vest to ensure you’re seen in all your safety glory:



If you follow these steps, you’re guaranteed to look like a safety guru before it becomes chic. But act fast—trends can become mainstream faster than you can say Heads Up!


Disclaimer: Being safe at work is always trendy because missing out on work and on life due to a workplace injury will never be in style. 



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.


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