Chelsea, a WorkSafeBC prevention officer, gives tips to employers who are maintaining ...
workplace safety systems along with integrating COVID-19 safety plans.
Understandably, B.C. employers are concentrating on their COVID-19 safety plans. But they still need to manage all the other safety risks in their workplaces.
“Because we are all so focused on COVID, employers may not be taking enough time to ensure their safety systems are functioning as intended,” says Chelsea Wilson, a WorkSafeBC occupational safety officer in Prince George, B.C.
As a safety officer, Chelsea inspects worksites and responds to employers’ requests for help. She says, “We don’t just do inspections and enforce the OHS Regulation — though, of course, we have to do that part. But our main goal is to educate employers and help them through their challenges.”
Chelsea advises employers to use a structured process for managing changes to the workplace prompted by the provincial health orders. An example of one such change — to occupational first aid protocols — is the subject of one of my previous posts, What’s different about first aid in the time of COVID-19?
“An employer needs to get the joint health and safety committee involved in the management of change,” Chelsea says. “You run the risk of missing things if you’re not involving the workers, and the safety committee is a representation of those workers.”
Supporting workers during COVID-19
With all the uncertainty related to COVID-19, workers may find themselves more easily distracted at work.
“These distractions can often come from fatigue, mental stress, or personal problems all coming up in the workplace,” Chelsea says. “Employers need to find ways to connect with workers under the COVID-19 restrictions. They need to help build trust and communication between workers and supervisors so the distractions are managed and reduced.”
Supervisors should monitor and support workers to ensure they:
- Perform all steps in a safe work procedure
- Understand their roles in workplace inspections
- Wear PPE not necessarily related to the pandemic
- Do full preventive maintenance on equipment as required
- Follow up with supervisors or co-workers on changes to workplace processes
Chelsea urges employers to reach out to their local WorkSafeBC safety officer if they need help, especially during this pandemic. She says, “We’re all in this together and we’re all learning. I have employers who just call me and say, “Look, I’m not sure where to go with this. Am I doing this properly? I need some support.”
For more information on how COVID-19 safety has affected employers around the world, see this EHSToday article Refocusing Attention on Safety: A Call to Action.
See WorkSafeBC’s COVID-19 information and resources, updated regularly based on guidance from B.C.’s public health officials. Employers in need of support can contact WorkSafeBC’s Prevention Information Line.
Visit our dedicated COVID-19 page for industry specific resources (scroll down), like Safe Work Procedures, Templates and Form and more!
Being a diligent driver starts with being aware – drowsy driving is preventable.
Sleepiness can slow down your reaction time, decrease awareness, impair judgment, and increase your risk of crashing. Whenever you are getting ready to drive, ask yourself, “Am I alert enough to operate a 3,000-pound moving machine on public roads?”
Before getting into the car with someone or driving yourself, ask the following:
1. Are you sleep-deprived or fatigued? Are you suffering regularly from sleep problems? Less than 6 hours of sleep triples your risk of falling asleep while driving!
2. Are you planning to drive long distances without proper rest breaks?
3. Will you be driving through the night, mid-afternoon, or when you would normally be asleep?
4. Are you taking medications that can make you sleepy such as antidepressants, cold tablets, or antihistamines?
5. Have you been working for more than 60 hours a week? A tightly-packed work schedule increases your risk of drowsy driving by 40%.
6. Have you been working more than one job and your main job involves shift work?
7. Did you drink alcohol? Even a small amount of alcohol can have an impact on your body.
Be proactive. Plan every short and long trip ahead of time. Ask a friend to join you on long-distance drives, so that your companion can help look for early warning signs of driver fatigue and switch drivers when needed.
8 Drowsy Driving Warning Signs to Watch for:
1. Finding it hard to focus on the road, frequent blinking, or heavy eyelids
2. Starting to daydream, wandering eyes, and have disconnected thoughts
3. Having trouble remembering the last few miles driven
4. Missing an exit or ignoring traffic signs
5. Yawning repeatedly or rubbing your eyes
6. Finding it hard to keep your head up or nodding off
7. Drifting from your lane, tailgating, or hitting a shoulder rumble strip
8. Feeling restless and irritable, or becoming aggravated with common annoyances such as sitting in traffic.
If you notice these warning signs for drowsy driving, pull over to a safe place and get some rest, stretch, or drink a caffeinated beverage. Continue driving when you feel alert and refreshed.
Specific At-Risk Groups for driving sleep-deprived
Some groups of drivers are at greater risk for drowsy-driving crashes. Research has shown there are 5 key groups of focus.
- Young drivers — especially males under 25 years old.
- Shift workers and people with long work hours — working the night shift can increase your risk of drowsy driving by nearly six times. Rotating-shift workers and people working more than 60 hours a week need to be particularly careful.
- Commercial drivers — especially long-haul drivers. At least 15% of all heavy truck crashes involve fatigue and sleep-deprived driving.
- People with undiagnosed or untreated disorders — People with untreated obstructive sleep apnea have up to seven times the risk of falling asleep at the wheel.
- Business travelers — who spend long hours driving or may be jet-lagged from a previous trip.
For more information about drowsy driving, visit the Drowsy Driving Prevention Week page to learn more.
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