Safety Tips | Working on Scaffolds

Safety Tips | Working on Scaffolds

The most recent report conducted by the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS), showed that 251,508 Canadian’s accepted claims for lost time due to work-related injury or disease in just one year. 18% of those time-loss injuries, or about 42,000 workers a year, are injured due to fall incidents alone!

According to Canada’s Occupational Health & Safety magazine, the majority of fall incidents are caused by:

  • Working in areas with poor lighting, slippery walking surfaces, and messy housekeeping practices
  • Missing guardians
  • Missing or misusing fall-protection equipment
  • Failing to understand job procedures
  • Neglecting worker training
  • Taking shortcuts while workers rush to meet deadlines
  • Using equipment like a ladder or scaffold that is in poor condition

In today’s blog, we’re going to be focusing on part of that last bullet, narrowing in on what practices you can take to ensure you’re safe while working on scaffolds. While it is only one piece of the complex puzzle that is fall protection & safety, when you’re dealing with the leading cause of workplace injury – It’s worth breaking down each element!

The Infrastructure Health & Safety Association (IHSA) looked into the issue of scaffold safety and found 9 main problem areas which include:

  1. Erecting and dismantling
  2. Improper loading or overloading
  3. platforms not fully planked or “decked”
  4. Platforms without guardrails
  5. Failure to install all required components such as base plats, connections, and braces
  6. Climbing up and down
  7. Moving rolling scaffolds in the vicinity of overhead wires
  8. Planks sliding off or breaking
  9. Moving rolling scaffolds with workers on the platform

Now that we know where the issues lie, let’s take a closer look…

Erecting and Dismantling

This is a big one because the key element to scaffold safety boils down to, (surprise, surprise) the scaffold – and whether it’s been constructed properly. The IHSA found that 15% – 20% of scaffold-related injuries involve erecting and dismantling. This can be avoided by having the proper training! Scaffolds should always be built by a competent person who has undergone training by a certified professional. Erecting scaffolding isn’t as simple as it may look, but you can learn how to do it the right way by taking a simple Scaffolding Training Course.

The IHSA found that injuries to workers erecting scaffolds are most often caused by two elements:

  1. Failure to provide an adequate working platform for a worker to use when installing the next lift of scaffold. Working instead from one or two planks is not recommended.
  2. Failure to use components such as tie-ins, which should be installed as the assembly progresses. If you don’t do this, it makes the scaffold less stable and even though it may not cause it to completely fall over, it can cause it to sway or move enough to knock someone off the platform.

These are things that would be included in training programs and need to be kept in mind by workers who build scaffolds.

Following the scaffolding being build by a trained professional, it should ALWAYS be inspected thoroughly before allowing any workers to get on the structure. The CCOHS recommends looking for the following elements when inspecting a scaffolding.

  • The base is sound, level and adjusted
  • Legs are plumb and all braces are in place
  • Locking devices and ties are secured
  • Cross members are level
  • Planks are the proper grade of lumber and have no weak areas, deterioration or cracks
  • Planks, decks, and guardrails are installed and secure
  • I have logged any inspections or repairs

Improper Loading or Overloading

Riggers know the importance of never exceeding the Working Load Limit (WLL) and scaffolds are no different! Overloading can cause excessive deflection in planks and can lead to deterioration and breaking. Keeping track of the weight of materials being brought up the scaffold is key to ensure you do not overload. Also, note that if materials are left overhanging the edges of the scaffold platform it can cause the scaffold to become imbalanced leading to overturning.

Platforms not Fully Planked or “Decked”

Platforms that are not fully planked or decked can cause injury during both erections/dismantling and general use. You can avoid these safety hazards by following the following tips, as suggested by the CCOHS.

  • Use wooden and metal decks according to job requirements, standards, occupational health and safety regulations, and manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Only secure planks at the ends to prevent lengthwise movement. Wiring down planks can also prevent movement, provided wire does not create a tripping hazard. Where planks overlap, rest the cleated end on the support. Do not secure elsewhere on the plank to prevent splitting.
  • Make sure that adjoining planks are of uniform thickness for an even platform.
  • Lay planks side by side across the full width of the scaffold.
  • Check hooks and hardware of prefabricated platform units regularly for looseness, distortion, and cracks. Damage can occur if the platforms are dropped or thrown.
  • Do not jump on the planks to test their strength. Jumping can cause undetectable damage.

Platforms Without Guardrails

Over one-third of the falls from scaffolds are from platforms less than 3 meters (10 feet) in height. Health in Safety laws generally do not require fall protection to be in place until the height exceeds this height (but it’s never a bad idea to use fall protection anyways!), so it’s important that guardrails are a measure in place for not only high platforms but lower ones as well. Falls from even just 10 feet can still cause injury, and I think everyone can agree they’d like to avoid them. Typically, guardrails are recommended during normal use for all
scaffold platforms over 1.5 meters (5 feet) high.

Guardrails for all working platforms should consist of a top rail, a midrail, and a toeboard!

Failure to Instal All Required Components

Have you ever completed an Ikea project just to realize there’s a bolt or screw still sitting in the bag and decided it’s probably fine without it? While you can probably get away with this when we’re talking about a cheap bookshelf, you cannot get away with this on a scaffold. This is a typical hazard seen when workers cut corners, especially on scaffolds that are only a few frames in height. But no matter the height, failing to install components like base plates, braces, adequate tie-ins or proper securing devices can lead to a serious safety hazard. You’ll regret being in a rush when the project has to go on hold as workers spend time off due to injury, or worse – Use the knowledge you take in during training and ensure you’re performing all the proper steps.

Climbing Up and Down

This is another big one, with 15% of scaffold-related injuries occurring when workers are climbing up and down the scaffold. Climbing up and down scaffold frames is, unfortunately, a common practice, but is not an acceptable practice. Ladders should always be used to climb up and down scaffolds unless the structure has been specially designed to be climbed. A staircase should be built if the scaffold is going to be used for an extended period of time.

Bonus Tip: Ensure you’re using proper climbing techniques when using the ladder to climb up and down the scaffold, including the three-point contact rule.

Electrical Contact with Overhead Wires

While it is not common for scaffolds to come in contact with electrical wires, when it does happen, it unfortunately, has been linked to fatality. Often times these hazards occur when moving scaffolds, so when moving them in outdoor open areas, ensure that no overhead wires are in the immediate vicinity. If there are overhead wires that may come in contact with the scaffold while moving it, it should be partially dismantled to ensure it has a safe clearance.

The required minimum safe distance from overhead wires as determined by the ISHA are the following, but may differ in your jurisdiction:

  • 750 to 150,000 volts = 3 metres (10 feet)
  • 150,001 to 250,000 volts = 4.5 metres (15 feet)
  • over 250,000 volts = 6 metres (20 feet)

Planks Sliding Off or Breaking

Many scaffold injuries involved problems with the planks – usually caused by the planks being uncleated or unsecured any sliding around or completely off. Scaffold planks are also known to break if they are in poor condition or overloaded, which can also present a serious safety hazard. Therefore, it is very important that you use the proper grade of lumber. The excessive overhang can also cause a plank to tip up if a worker were to stand on the overhanging portion.

It’s also important that planks are regularly inspected for large knots, wormholes, steeply sloping grain at the edges, spike knots, and splits. Splits wider than 10 mm (3/8 in), lengthwise closer than 75 mm (3 in.) to the edge of the plank, or lengthwise longer than ½ the length of the plank is not acceptable. Discard immediately any planks showing these or other defects. Also ensure ice, snow, oil, and grease are cleaned off planks – Platform decks should be slip-resistant and should not accumulate water.

Moving Rolling Scaffolds with Workers on the Platform

Moving a rolling scaffold with workers on the platform can be very dangerous. If it is impractical for workers to climb down before moving a scaffold, and it’s taller then 3 meters (10 feet), all workers must be tied off with a full-body harness and lanyard with lifelines attached to a suitable anchor point other then the scaffold. However, in some jurisdictions moving a scaffold with workers on the platform at all is prohibited if the platform exceeds a certain height, so ensure to check for these and other related regulations.


Click on the image above to view the full course details.

As mentioned above, all of these tips are meant to be things to keep in mind for workers who have already completed a scaffold safety course. If you’re still in need of proper scaffolding safety training, reach out to The Hercules Training Academy!

The Hercules SLR Scaffolding Safety Course is designed to assist the participant in reaching the objective of obtaining a thorough knowledge of the hazards associated with the erection and dismantling of scaffolds. The program is a combination of theory and practical training. Students are evaluated by means of a written and
practical evaluation. Upon successful completion of the program, a certificate will be issued which is valid for 3 years as per Provincial Legislation Requirments.

Content includes:

  • Regulations and Standards specific to System Scaffolding
  • Components of System Scaffolding
  • Parts Inspection
  • Erection/Dismantling Planning
  • Guys, Ties, and Braces
  • Fall Protection
  • General Scaffold Safety
  • Access and Platforms
  • Erection and Dismantling procedures

LOOKING TO BRING YOUR WORKPLACE SAFETY TO THE NEXT LEVEL? CALL US—HERCULES SLR OFFERS AN EXTENSIVE SUITE OF HIGH-QUALITY SAFETY TRAINING AND CERTIFICATION COURSES.

 

Friday the 13th | 13 Ways to work SAFER

Friday the 13th | 13 Ways to work SAFER

Don’t give Friday the 13th any ammunition, kick up your workplace safety this Friday the 13th!

Read on for 13 quick tips to enhance your workplace safety in (un)celebration of Friday the 13th. Don’t leave your workplace safety to luck, put safety tips like these to work so you can rest assured you’ll return home safe each and every day…Even on the unlucky days!

1. Place Importance In Your Workplace Safety

When it comes to workplace safety, the #1 most important thing is that YOU place value in working safe. All the training, preparation and safety measures in the world cannot combat a lack of interest – You must be in charge and value your own safety. It can be easy to sink into a routine at work, but sometimes it’s worth taking a step back and evaluating. Are you taking the time to put on all your required PPE? Are you following safety procedures? Are you rushing through work that should be done with more care? Don’t let yourself look back and say, “I wish I would have been more careful!”

2. Report Unsafe Conditions

The 2nd most important aspect of workplace safety is reporting unsafe conditions or safety hazards. Employee observations can be extremely important in preventing accidents. Even the best of employers with safety front of mind can miss safety hazards if they are not reported. Especially within large organizations, leaders may not see all aspects of every department, and you can’t fix something you don’t know is broken! For this reason, it is extremely important to report ANYTHING you think maybe a safety hazard. It’s always better to be safe than sorry!

3. Be Aware Of Your Surroundings

All too often when workplace safety incidents happen, you hear the employee say they just didn’t see it coming. Injuries that take place because workers are not aware of the machinery or objects around them are 100% preventable. Being aware of your surroundings is an easy first step in taking ownership of your safety at work. Not sure where to start? Start with surveying your work area before performing any tasks including:

  • Ensure that you have enough space to do your work
  • Identify energy sources that require lockout/tagout procedures
  • Look for hazards in your work area such as: low-hanging overhead objects, sharp edges or surfaces, standing water, exposed wiring, unguarded equipment, general work environment conditions
  • Make sure that all safety devices on your equipment are in good working order before use
  • Discuss work status and potential hazards with coworkers in your area and/or the person you are replacing at shift change prior to starting any work
  • Always finish off by asking yourself: Is there anything in my work area that poses a threat to my safety, and if so, to what extent? Is the threat great enough that I should stop working immediately? Is there anything I can do to reduce the risk exposure so that I can continue to work safely?

4. Keep Emergency Exits Clear

It’s really easy for emergency exits to blend into the background and go unnoticed as often times they are not used on a daily basis as they are connected to a system that triggers an alarm when they are opened. Because of this, it’s not rare to see boxes, work stations, garbage containers, and other items getting pushed into their path little by little as they blend into the normal workplace background. The importance of a clear pathway to emergency exits can get overlooked until there’s an emergency, and exits are inaccessible. Furthermore, these things could potentially cause a greater hazard should anyone trip or fall over them and get injured while trying to exit in an emergency. Because of this, always take care in where emergency exits are and ensure that they are clear at all times.

5. Keep up With Maintenance and Inspections

Without inspections and maintenance, equipment failures can have a major effect on business costs, cause unscheduled outages and most importantly, could cause major and possibly deadly safety hazards. Hercules SLR offers LEEA-certified inspections, repairs, predictive & preventive maintenance (so you can pass those inspections!) and parts & accessories like wire rope slings, hoists & whatever else you need to lift.

Hercules SLR inspects, repairs, and certifies:

  • Wire Rope
  • Fall Protection
  • Lifting Gear
  • Rigging Hardware
  • Hoist & Cranes
  • Winches & Hydraulics

6. Lockout / Tagout

As much as we’d like to wish it didn’t, equipment breaks—When it does, it’s important to know what to do, especially if that piece of equipment conducts hazardous energy. That’s where the lockout/tagout system comes into play!

What are the Basic Steps of the Lockout/Tagout system?

This is a process that involves more than simply putting a lock and tag on a switch. Communication, coordination and proper training are key in successfully following the step-by-step process. You should always consult your organization’s lockout program document and follow the detailed instructions provided.
An abbreviated overview of the steps of a lockout/tagout program include:

  1. Prepare for shutdown – The authorized person will identify any sources of energy connected to the equipment, and choose the proper method of control.
  2. Notify all affected employees – The authorized person will notify all affected personnel of what is going to be lock/tagged out, why it will be locked/tagged out, how long they should expect the equipment to be unavailable, who is responsible for the lockout/tagout and who to contact for more information.
  3. Equipment Shutdown – Following the manufacturer’s instructions or in-house work instructions the equipment is shut down ensuring all controls are in the off position and all moving parts have come to a complete stop.
  4. Isolation of System from Hazardous Energy – In most cases, there will be exact written instructions guiding you as so how to cut off different forms of energy found within your workplace. General CCOHS procedures can be found here.
  5. Removal of residual or stored energy – Following manufacturer instructions ensure any stored energy within the system has dissipated.
  6. Lockout/Tagout – Once you’re sure all energy sources are blocked, the system is locked and tagged to ensure it stays in an off and safe position. Each lock should only have one key, and each person working on the system should have their OWN lock.
  7. Verify Isolation – Verify that the system is properly locked out before any work is completed.
  8. Perform Maintenance or Service Activity – Complete the job required while the system is locked and off.
  9. Remove Lockout/Tagout Devices – Inspect the work area to ensure all tools have been removed, confirm that all employees are safely away from the area, verify that controls are in a neutral position, remove devices, re-energize the machine and notify affected employees that servicing is completed.

Following the correct steps in locking and tagging out equipment is the best way to ensure that nobody is harmed while performing maintenance as well as no piece of equipment is used while broken-down.

7. Keep Correct Posture

We all know the age-old saying, “lift with your legs, not your back!” but keeping correct posture in mind is important for all employees, not just those doing the heavy lifting. Even if you work at a desk, proper posture can help you avoid back injuries, neck pain, and even carpal tunnel. And of course, you only have one back, so if you are heavy lifting, do keep proper posture and technique in mind and don’t be afraid to call on the help of a partner if you think it’s too heavy to take on alone – Plus, things like forklifts and dollies exist for a reason, get trained and put them to use!

8. Take Your Breaks

Regulated and scheduled breaks are put in place for a reason, take them! Tired workers are the most prone to accidents and incidents. You can’t expect yourself to be on your toes and aware of your surroundings if you’re worn out and tired. Take time on your breaks to rest and recharge so you can return to work refreshed – You’ll get more done in a more timely manner anyways! Another tip to help out with tiredness at work is to schedule as many of your difficult tasks at the beginning of your shift, when you have the most energy, and easier tasks for the end of the day when you’re tank of energy is running low.

9. Proper PPE

Personal protective equipment is the last line of defense for workers against hazards. The PPE you use will depend on your work environment, work conditions and the job being performed. It’s important to remember that there are many different variations of PPE and some may be made of materials suitable for one purpose, but not another.

Personal protective equipment does not guarantee permanent or total protection for the wearer, and should be used coupled with other measures to reduce hazards in the workplace. As well, simply having access to some general PPE isn’t enough—to ensure your PPE is providing you with the highest level of protection you must:

  • Carefully select the correct type of PPE based on the type of hazard and degree of protection required
  • Train users to ensure the proper use and fit of the PPE
  • Store and maintain the PPE correctly according to manufacturer guidelines
  • Maintain high-quality PPE by performing regular inspections and discarding/replacing any defective pieces.

10. No Procedure Shortcuts

Workplace procedures exist for a reason – To keep employees safe! Especially if those procedures have to do with heavy machinery, it’s important to know you’re using every tool and machine according to instruction and procedure. Shortcuts may seem enticing, but are never worth the small amount of time they may save you, especially if it results in injury. If you’re not sure of proper procedure, always reach out to your employer for clarity – Proper training is step one!

11. Practice Ladder Safety

Before using a ladder you should always take a moment to inspect both the ladder and the area in which you are using it. Before each use, make sure your ladder is in good working condition and doesn’t need any repairs. Good things to look out for are:

  • Missing, loose or damaged steps or rungs (you should not be able to move or shift these by hand)
  • Loose nails, screw, bolts or nuts
  • Rot, decay or warped rails in wooden ladders
  • Cracks and exposed material in fiberglass ladders
  • Rough or splintered surfaces
  • Corrosion, rust, oxidization or excessive wear
  • Twisted or distorted rails
  • Loose or bent hinges or pail shelf
  • Wobble of any kind

If any of these things are present in your ladder, it should not be used and should only be repaired by a trained professional—Don’t try to make temporary makeshift repairs or attempt to straighten bent or bowed ladders on your own.

12. Fall Protection

The most recent report conducted by the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS), showed that 251,508 Canadian’s accepted claims for lost time due to work-related injury or disease in just one year. Did you know that approximately 18% of those time-loss injuries, or about 42,000 workers a year, are injured due to fall incidents alone? You can prevent falls and incidents like these by wearing proper fall protection equipment, and wearing it right.

If you’re working at a height exceeding 3 meters (10 feet) occupational health and safety laws generally require fall protection measures to be in place. You can check with your jurisdiction as requirements do vary, but in most cases fall protection measures such as fixed barriers, surface opening protections, control zones, fall or travel restraint systems, fall containment systems or fall arrest systems are required. You can learn more about some of these systems by reading our fall protection glossary.

13. Workplace Housekeeping

Workplace housekeeping isn’t just about dusting some selves, it’s an important part of your health and safety measures! Poor housekeeping can be the cause of workplace incidents such as:

  • Trips and slips because of loose objects or wet spots on floors, stairs, and platforms
  • Being hit by falling objects
  • Hitting against projecting, poorly stacked items
  • Cutting or puncturing of the skin on projecting nails, wire or steel strapping

Effective housekeeping programs require ongoing management and attention. It focuses on more than just keeping the workplace neat and tidy, but also deals with the layout of the workplace, aisle marking, storage facilities, and maintenance. A big part of proper workplace housekeeping is ensuring that everything that comes into the workplace has a plan as to where it will be, how it will be handled, and how it will leave the space – including disposal procedures. Often times, injuries result from materials being stored improperly, but that can easily be avoided by having a storage plan and procedure in place.


You may have noticed a core theme in many of our 13 tips, and that’s being in the know! The best way to do something safely is to do it correctly, and that comes with proper training and education! Hercules SLR recognizes that and through the Hercules Training Academy, offers an extensive suite of high-quality safety training and certification courses.

Brand new classrooms and specialized training equipment enable us to provide an even higher quality of service than ever before when it comes to safety training. Whether you’re looking for initial or refresher training, we provide practical, hands-on courses designed to exceed the minimum safety requirements.

Our courses can be customized to fit your workplace’s specific needs. We are always willing to design a course (or multiple courses) specifically for you!

If you’re interested in building a customized training program, please get in touch. One of our training representatives would be happy to help you get started.

LOOKING TO BRING YOUR WORKPLACE SAFETY TO THE NEXT LEVEL? CALL US—HERCULES SLR OFFERS AN EXTENSIVE SUITE OF HIGH-QUALITY SAFETY TRAINING AND CERTIFICATION COURSES.

Safety Tips | Working in Cold Weather

Safety Tips | Working in Cold Weather

If you have a job in Canada that involves being outside at all, you’ve probably experienced working through the cold weather. If we didn’t work when there’s snow on the ground, when would we ever work – right?! Working in cold conditions isn’t just uncomfortable, it can be dangerous. Yes, even for us Canadians, no amount of adjusting to the cold will make you immune to the possibility of frostbite, numbness, dehydration or hypothermia. If you’re working outside in the cold, it’s important to be aware of the dangers and be prepared to stay safe.

A cold environment presents challenges to workers in three ways:

Air temperature – Air temperature is measured by an ordinary thermometer in degrees Celsius (°C) or degrees Fahrenheit (°F).

Air movement (wind speed) – There are many different types of anemometers that can be used to measure wind speed or air movement. These are calibrated in either meters per second (m/s), kilometers per hour (km/h) or miles per hour (mph). The general rule of thumb is that you’ll find air movement measured in m/s and wind speed in km/h or mph depending on the region. You can estimate wind speed using the following guidelines if accurate information is not available to you:

  • 8 km/h (5 mph): light flags will move
  • 16 km/h (10 mph): light flags will be fully extended
  • 24 km/h (15 mph): raises a newspaper sheet
  • 32 km/h (20 mph): causes blowing and drifting snow

The American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH) also provides recommendations to protect workers from hypothermia and frostbite. Included in these recommendations is the following wind chill temperature index:

Source: Adapted from Threshold Limit Values (TLV) and Biological Exposure Indices (BEI) booklet: published by ACGIH, Cincinnati, Ohio, 2018, page 222.

Humidity (wetness) – Be aware that water conducts heat away from the body 25 times faster than dry air.

It’s important to take these three factors into consideration in order to work safely in the cold. Understanding how these three things can affect you on the job is the only way to be properly prepared!

What Are The Health Concerns Of Working In Cold Temperatures?

Environment Canada has developed the following chart which describes the health concerns and potential for frostbite when being outside at various temperatures. Click to check out the full document, Wind Chill – The Chilling facts.

How to Mitigate Cold Weather Challenges

Physical Activity

Keeping moving is one of the best ways to keep your body warm. While the production of body heat by physical activity (metabolic rate) is difficult to measure – It’s broken down into kilocalories (kcal) per hour, with one kcal being the amount of heat needed to raise the temperature of one kilogram of water by 1°C. But if you don’t speak science talk – think about how hot you get when you work out or do something physically difficult. This works the same on a smaller scale too, so simply keeping yourself moving can help a lot with body temperate regulation.

Work/rest schedule

The Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS) references the “work warm-up schedule” as developed by the Saskatchewan Occupation Health and Safety Division as a good standard practice – But your region may have similar or different regulation in place. This schedule shows the warm-up breaks required for working in cold conditions including the normal breaks that are always to be provided every two hours. The schedule allows additional breaks for workers as the wind velocity at the work site increases and/or the temperature drops.

Note: The information in the chart applies to moderate to heavy physical work activity in any four-hour period. At the end of the four-hour period, an extended break in a warm location is expected. 

Warm-up breaks are assumed to be provided for ten minutes in a warm environment. This guideline applies to workers wearing dry clothing. This guideline is not intended to replace established cold weather work practices that provide workers with better protection.

Protective clothing 

Clothing – Protective clothing is needed when working in temperatures at or below 4°C. Clothing should be selected to suit the temperature, weather conditions (e.g., wind speed, rain), the level and duration of physical activity, and job type. It’s not always about putting on the warmest things possible because if your type of work causes you to excessively sweat, that garment’s insulation value will decrease dramatically. It’s about finding a balance of warm enough – but not too warm.

10 Tips For Optimum Cold Work Clothing 

  1. Clothing should be worn in multiple layers rather than a single thick garment. The air between layers of clothing will actually provide better insulation than the clothing itself! Having several layers also gives you the option to open or remove a layer before you get too warm and start sweating or to add a layer when you take a break.
  2. Your inner layer should provide insulation and be able to “wick” moisture away from the skin to help keep it dry. Thermal underwear made from polyesters or polypropylene is a great option because polypropylene wicks perspiration away from the skin. It also keeps the second layer away from the skin.
  3. The additional layers of clothing should provide adequate insulation for the weather conditions. It’s best to have an outer jacket that’s able to close or open at the waist, neck and wrists to help control the amount of heat that is trapped in, or let out.
  4. When working in wet conditions, the outer layer of clothing must be waterproof.
  5. If the work area cannot be shielded against wind, an easily removable windbreaker garment should be used.
  6. Under extremely cold conditions, heated protective clothing should be made available to you if the work cannot be done on a warmer day (e.g. emergency services)
  7. Always wear a hat suitable for the conditions that will keep your ears warm. If your personal protective equipment (PPE) requirements include a hard hat, a knit cap or liner can reduce excessive heat loss. Consult with the hard hat supplier or manufacturer for appropriate liners that do not compromise the protection provided by the hard hat.
  8. Keep clothing dry. When entering a heated area to rest, remove as much snow as possible to avoid it melting into your clothes. Also allow perspiration to escape by opening up or removing some layers.
  9. If fine manual dexterity is not required, gloves should be used below 4°C for light work and below -7°C for moderate work. For work below -17°C, mittens should be used. (Learn more about the importance of gloves in all conditions and more helpful tips in our blog, Safety Gloves: An Important Part of Your PPE)
  10. Try to avoid cotton as much as possible as it tends to get damp or wet quickly, and loses its insulating properties. Wool or synthetic fibers, on the other hand, will retain heat when wet.

Footwear

Felt-lined, rubber bottomed, leather-topped boots with removable felt insoles are best suited for heavy work in cold since leather is porous, allowing the boots to “breathe” and let perspiration evaporate. Leather boots can be “waterproofed” with some products that do not block the pores in the leather. However, if work involves standing in water or slush (e.g., fire fighting, farming), then waterproof boots must be worn.

You may prefer to wear one pair of thick, bulky socks or two pairs – one inner sock of silk, nylon, or thin wool and a slightly larger, thick outer sock. Liner socks made from polypropylene will help keep feet dry and warm by wicking sweat away from the skin but if the outer sock becomes wet, its insulation properties will decrease. Always have extra socks available so you can dry your feet and change socks during the day!

Check out CCOH’s Foot Comfort and Safety at Work for more general information on how to select footwear!

Face and Eye Protection

In extremely cold conditions, face protection can be used to protect the face from the cold and wind. In this case, any if your required PPE includes eye protection, the eye protection must be separated from the nose and mouth to prevent exhaled moisture fogging or frosting your eye protection. Choose eye protection that will protect against ultraviolet light from the sun, which reflects off of snow as well as protect against blowing snow or ice crystals and high winds at cold temperatures.

Signs and Symptoms of Hypothermia (dangerously low body temperature)

Education and training is your #1 tool in workplace safety. Hypothermia is a medical emergency and If it’s not treated in the early stage, the condition will become life-threatening – Know the signs and you can save a life!

Early Stage

  • Shivering
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of coordination
  • Confusion and disorientation

Late Stage

  • No shivering
  • Blue skin
  • Dilated pupils
  • Slowed pulse and breathing
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Request immediate medical assistance

First Aid Steps for Hypothermia

  • Request emergency medical assistance
  • Move the victim into a warm room or shelter
  • Remove any wet clothing
  • Warm the center of the victim’s body first (the chest, neck, head, and groin) using loose, dry layers of blankets, clothing, towels, or sheets
  • If the victim is conscious, warm beverages may help increase the body temperature. Do not give alcoholic beverages (if that’s not obvious!)
  • After the victim’s body temperature has increased, keep the victim dry and wrapped in a warm blanket, including the head and neck

As mentioned, the #1 way to ensure you’re safety while at work is being in the know – And that comes with proper training and education! Hercules SLR recognizes that and through the Hercules Training Academy, offers an extensive suite of high-quality safety training and certification courses.

Brand new classrooms and specialized training equipment enable us to provide an even higher quality of service than ever before when it comes to safety training. Whether you’re looking for initial or refresher training, we provide practical, hands-on courses designed to exceed the minimum safety requirements.

Our courses can be customized to fit your workplace’s specific needs. We are always willing to design a course (or multiple courses) specifically for you!

If you’re interested in building a customized training program, please get in touch. One of our training representatives would be happy to help you get started.

LOOKING TO BRING YOUR WORKPLACE SAFETY TO THE NEXT LEVEL? CALL US—HERCULES SLR OFFERS AN EXTENSIVE SUITE OF HIGH-QUALITY SAFETY TRAINING AND CERTIFICATION COURSES.

Ask The Experts | Sling Identification Tags

One of the first things Inspection Technicians look for when inspecting a rigging and lifting sling is if it has a missing or illegible identification tag. But what do all those markings mean, and why are they important? Hercules SLR rigging experts from Brampton, Ontario are on-hand to explain it all.

Your sling’s identification tag provides you with a wealth of essential information to ensure you are lifting safe including: The manufacture of the sling or where it was most recently repaired, the material of the sling, the working load limit (WLL) of the sling, the serial number, the manufacture’s code or stock number and the type of sling.

This is all information that should be taken into account when creating a lifting plan in order to choose the best type of sling for the job based on the WLL, hitch configuration, and capabilities and different sling angles.

All types of sling will come with an identification tag provided by the manufacturer. Over the lifetime of the sling, it’s important to maintain the tag as best as possible in order to keep it legible. If your tag does become damaged, missing, or illegible the sling should immediately be removed from service.

Keeping up with regular inspections will ensure you are never using a chain sling without a tag in proper condition. If you notice a damaged, missing, or illegible tag before your required inspections -- Simply have the tag replaced. While it is considered a repair, additional proof testing would not be needed at that time (unless otherwise required).

What are the Identification Tag Requirements?

The experts at Hercules SLR in Brampton Ontario are answering some key rigging questions over on the Hercules Group of Company’s social media platforms—And this is one of those questions! In the video below, they (quickly) go over the indication tag requirements for chain slings and show you the difference between a tag in good condition, and one that wouldn’t pass inspection.

Alloy Chain Sling Requirements

Each alloy chain sling must be marked with:
  • The name and trademark of the manufacturer (or name of repair location, if replaced)
  • Number of legs
  • Chain size
  • Grade
  • Length (reach)
  • Rated load for (at least) one hitch type and the angle that it was based upon
  • Individual sling identification (i.e. serial number)
  • Date of Manufacture

To keep up with tips like these, follow The Hercules Group of Companies on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn!

But what about all of the other types of sling? Keeping in mind what a legible tag vs. an illegible tag looks like, continue on to see what the requirements are for a variety of different types of sling. However -- ALWAYS check in with the regulations in your jurisdiction, as there may be specialized requirements in your location.   

Wire Rope Sling Requirments

Each wire rope sling must be marked with:
  • The name and trademark of the manufacturer (or name of repair location, if replaced)
  • Rated load for (at least) one hitch type and the angle that it was based upon
  • Diameter or size
  • Number if legs (if more then one)

Metal Mesh Sling Requirements

Each metal mesh sling must be marked with:
  • The name and trademark of the manufacturer (or name of repair location, if replaced)
  • Rated load for (at least) one hitch type and the angle that it was based upon
  • Individual sling identification (ex: serial number)

Synthetic Rope Sling Requirements

Each synthetic rope sling must be marked with:
  • The name and trademark of the manufacturer (or name of repair location, if replaced)
  • Manufacturer’s code or stock number
  • Rated load for (at least) one hitch type and the angle that it was based upon
  • Type of fiber material
  • Number of legs (if more than one)

Synthetic Web Sling Requirements

Each synthetic web sling must be marked with:
  • The name and trademark of the manufacturer (or name of repair location, if replaced)
  • Manufacturer’s code or stock number
  • Rated load for (at least) one hitch type and the angle that it was based upon
  • Type of fiber material
  • Number of legs (if more than one)

Polyester Roundsling Requirements

Each Polyester roundsling must be marked with:
  • The name and trademark of the manufacturer (or name of repair location, if replaced)
  • Manufacturer’s code or stock number
  • Rated load for (at least) one hitch type and the angle that it was based upon
  • Core material
  • Cover material (if different from core material)
  • Number of legs (if more than one)

High-Performance Roundsling Requirements

Each high-performance roundsling must be marked with:
  • The name and trademark of the manufacturer (or name of repair location, if replaced)
  • Manufacturer’s code or stock number
  • Rated load for (at least) one hitch type and the angle that it was based upon
  • Core yarn including fiber type(s) or blend
  • Cover material (if different from core material)
  • Number of legs (if more than one)

Performing a lifting job safely doesn’t happen due to luck—It happens with the proper knowledge and preparedness! Keeping an eye on your sling’s indication tag to ensure it’s not damaged, missing or illegible is an important part of that preparedness.

But when it comes to ensuring your equipment is operating correctly and safely, leave it to the experts! Keeping up with regular inspections will keep you worry-free when it comes to the safety of your equipment and will have a major effect on unscheduled outages and business costs!

Find all your Securing, Lifting and Rigging solutions under one roof at Hercules SLR. Whether you’re in the market to purchase a sling, needing it inspected or seeking out maintenance Hercules SLR has you covered!

We’ve got you covered for more than just slings! Hercules SLR inspects, repairs and certifies:

  • Wire Rope
  • Fall Protection
  • Lifting Gear
  • Rigging Hardware
  • Hoist & Cranes
  • Winches & Hydraulics

Our experienced and LEEA certified team will ensure that your equipment complies with ASME and provincial regulations. Once inspections, repairs, and testing is completed, we will supply full certification on your equipment to show that it complies with provincial and national safety regulations.


NEED A QUOTE? HAVE A QUESTION? CALL US—WE KNOW THE (WIRE) ROPES & EVERYTHING RIGGING-RELATED.

CALL OUR BRAMPTON, ONTARIO BRANCH: 

 

Rigging Throughout History | How the Hoover Dam was Built

Rigging Throughout History: The Hoover Dam

The Hoover Dam (originally known as the Boulder Dam) is one of American’s most famous landmarks—An engineering marvel of it’s time, that still remains one of the largest and most impressive dams to ever be created.

When the construction of the Hoover Dam was complete in March of 1936, it was the heaviest and tallest dam to exist, surpassing the next in line, The Arrowrock Dam, by double the height and triple the width.

This is impressive in any decade, right? Absolutely! But before we had the technology we have today that makes huge construction projects like these much easier, and more importantly, much safer, this feat was even more notable.

Read on to find out how, and why!

The Hoover Dam: It Begins

hoover dam inspection party 1931
An inspection party near the proposed site of the dam in the Black Canyon on the Colorado River.

The Hoover Dam was created to solve two different problems. If you’re not familiar, the Hoover Dam is located on the border of Nevada and Arizona, in the Black Canyon of the Colorado River. Prior to construction in 1931, the Colorado River would flood every spring, and often destroyed villages and crops along its path. This was one reason to create the dam, because water would be more controlled and displaced in calculated locations. Then, of course, the second reason is why most things get created—Income generation.

How does the Hoover Dam work? As water flows through large pipes inside the dam, turbines rotate, which then spins a series of magnets, past copper coils and a generator to produce electricity. This electricity helps support Nevada, California, and Arizona still, to this day!

As we mentioned before, this was not (and still isn’t) a simple task. Even today this wouldn’t be a construction project to scoff at, so you can imagine how difficult it was in 1931.

The Hoover Dam is 726.4 feet tall from the foundation of rock at the bottom to the roadway that runs along the top, and is constructed from 3.4 Million cubic meters of concrete. And if that’s not daunting enough, it was constructed in the middle of the desert, which at the time had no local workforce, no infrastructure, or transportation. The closest access to civilization was 30 miles away in Las Vegas, which had a railroad. This railroad became their one and only access point to bring in workers, materials, and supplies.

The construction of the Hoover Dam happened in the middle of the great depression, so despite it being in the middle of nowhere, it didn’t take long to get the workforce they needed. Within 3 weeks of the project being announced, the closest employment office in Las Vegas had received 12,000 applications for work. This wasn’t going to be easy work, but it was a stable income—Something many people at the time didn’t have.

black and white frank crowe hoover dam engineer
Frank Crowe.

Unfortunately, this made exploiting workers easy—If a worker wasn’t able or comfortable doing a task, they would simply be sent away and replaced with one of thousands of other men who’d happily step into the job.

An engineer named Frank Crowe was in the charge of the project, and had 7 years to complete it. If the project wasn’t complete within this timeline, there would be an approximate $3,000 a day financial penalty. Crowe was prepared to complete the project by any means necessary, and even earned the nickname ‘Hurry-Up Crowe’ for his constant efforts to ensure the project was unfolding on-time and on-budget.

A rushed project focused on speed above all else, is often not a safe project—And the Hoover Dam is a perfect example of this.

The Hoover Dam: Phase One

Allow me to set the scene for you—Thousands of untrained workers, in the middle of the desert, during one of the hottest summers on record (temperatures peaking at 49°C), faced with the monumental task of diverting one of America’s most powerful, dominating and unpredictable rivers—Sounds like a perfect storm…right?

In order to create a construction site in the riverbed, four diversion tunnels were driven through the canyon walls, two on the Nevada side and two on the Arizona side. These tunnels were 56 ft (17 m) in diameter and had a combined length of nearly 16,000 ft, or more than 3 miles (5 km). They also had to be sturdy enough to handle the powerful Colorado river, which meant about 850-cubic metrics of water a second.

The process of creating these tunnels involved  drilling holes into the rock, then packing the holes with dynamite. In 1931, this work was traditionally very slow and tedious, with each hole being drilled out individually with a simple drill or jackhammer. But, with a tight deadline in mind, Frank Crowe came up with a faster solution. Specialized 10-ton trucks were brought in that would each have 50 men on board, running 24-30 drills at one time. These trucks would be backed up along the walls of the tunnel, and half of the wall would be able to be drilled at a time. With 8 of these trucks and 500 drills, they were able to create the tunnels in record time. and 10 months ahead of schedule.

But, this did not come without consequence. Temperatures within the tunnels could reach upwards of 60°C, and the only solution presented for this was a team of people they called the “ice brigades” who would go into the tunnels to bring out exhausted workers to plunge them into ice water. Fourteen men died of heat exhaustion alone during the construction of the tunnels.

And the hazards don’t stop there – Many other workers were hospitalized or killed due to carbon monoxide poisoning because the tunnels didn’t have the proper ventilation to support the steady stream of trucks going in and out. Many of these deaths were reported as a pneumonia outbreak, according to doctors at the time, but it’s widely believed that it was misrepresented by the construction company to avoid paying death compensation.

The Hoover Dam: Phase 2

hoover dam high scaler 1931
One of the Hoover Dam “High Scalers”.

After the tunnels were complete, cofferdams (small enclosures so the water can drain) made from materials extracted from the tunnels were put in place, and water was drained from the construction site. In order for the dam to rest on solid rock, accumulated erosion soils and other loose materials in the riverbed had to be removed. Since the dam is an arch-gravity type, the side-walls of the canyon bear weight from the dam as well, so the side-walls also had to be excavated.

The team that performed these side-wall excavations was called “high scalers” and they would work suspended from the top of the canyon with ropes (NOT proper fall protection equipment) and would climb down the canyon walls removing any loose rock with jackhammers and dynamite. Falling objects were the number one cause of death on the dam site, with high scalers often being the victims of this hazard.

To protect themselves against falling objects, some high scalers took cloth hats and dipped them in tar, allowing them to harden. When workers wearing such headgear were struck hard enough to inflict broken jaws, they sustained no skull damage.

These hats went on to be called “hard boiled hats” and companies began ordering the hats and encouraging their use—One of the first versions of the modern hard hat (but not NEARLY as safe, so don’t get any ideas about dipping old hats in tar…please, buy a certified hard hat!)

The Hoover Dam: Phase 3

Once excavations were complete, the concrete staring pouring in, 6,600,000 tons of it to be exact. You may notice a squared pattern along the side of the Hoover Dam, and that’s because it’s made of a series of blocks of concrete—Not a large pour. This is because if they attempted to pour out the Hoover Dam in one continuous piece, it would still be drying today!

LEFT, A bucket holding 18 tons of concrete is maneuvered into positions. RIGHT, Concrete lowered into place.

When the ingredients of concrete are combined (cement, aggregate & water), they trigger a chemical reaction. This reaction generates internal heat, and slows down the curing process—The larger the pour, the longer it takes to harden. A series of interlocking blocks allows the concrete to harden in a more reasonable time-frame.

But there was also the opposite problem—Liquid concrete could harden too fast when attempting to transport it to the top of the dam, where the blocks were being formed, because of the intense desert heat.

To solve this problem, Frank Crowe designed an elaborate network of overhead cables and pullies that would move across the construction site carrying buckets of concrete. This was one of the largest rigging systems to ever be used on a construction site at the time! But I think it’s safe to say it probably wouldn’t pass a modern inspection (definitely not from our LEEA certified technicians)—So don’t start taking any notes!

The Hoover Dam: Lessons Learned

The Hoover Dam project was complete in 1936, 2 years quicker then the original timeline suggests. During construction, 112 people died.

Back in 1931, it wasn’t that uncommon to have a high fatality rate on construction sites. Some of that was because they didn’t have access to the technology we have today (or at least not as good quality), like fall protection equipment or modern hard hats, and other personal protective equipment (PPU). Some of it was also due to the fact that employers were not held accountable to ensure they weren’t putting their workers into unsafe working conditions – Like using the proper equipment and ensuring it’s been inspected and in full working order.

Construction is a dangerous industry, even today, but that doesn’t mean we should ever accept fatalities or even injuries. It’s not 1931 anymore—Employers and construction workers have the responsibility and the right to be able to perform their jobs safely. Now we DO have access to the proper means necessary to create a safe work environment, so there’s no excuse not to be using them.


LOOKING TO BRING YOUR WORKPLACE SAFETY TO THE NEXT LEVEL? CALL US FOR A QUOTE—HERCULES SLR OFFERS AN EXTENSIVE SUITE OF HIGH-QUALITY SAFETY TRAINING AND CERTIFICATION COURSES.

Industry Highlight | A Look into the Quarry Industry

a look into the quarry industry

Industry Highlight: A Look into the Quarry Industry

What is Quarrying?

Quarrying is an industry that’s been around for centuries on earth—Essentially since the very beginning. During the Stone Age, one of man’s very first innovations was learning to chip away limestone for making tools like hammers, hand axes, and cutting instruments. Quarrying is essentially the process of extracting natural resources from the earth—Which in modern-day, are used often in the construction industry.

So, what’s a quarry? A quarry, sometimes known as a surface mine, open pit or opencast mine, is the section of earth that the minerals are being extracted from. Quarries produce a range of useful materials like limestone, dimension stone, rock, sand or gravel. These raw materials are used in the foundations of our homes, schools, hospitals, roads and so much more! Nearly two-thirds of all the stone produced in Canadian quarries is crushed and used for concrete and asphalt aggregates.

The image below, created by The Institute of Quarrying, illustrates what a typical quarrying process may look like:

quarrying process

As you can see, quarrying involves many different steps, each involving a different team of professionals and different tools/ machinery. And, of course, this process will look different depending on the material being produced. However, putting the most common practice simply – They begin by digging a pit to access the deposit, and create a vertical face of exposed rock. Then, large chunks are dislodged from the walls, usually through controlled blasting using explosives. This rock is then crushed, impurities are removed and the resulting materials are graded by size before being stockpiled. The materials are then transported by road, rail or sea for use!

What do Quarries Produce?

Like we mentioned, quarries produce a wide variety of natural materials that make up a lot of the build-up world around us. The principal types of stone quarried in Canada are limestone, granite, sandstone, and marble. According to The Canadian Encyclopedia limestone accounts for 79% of the total material quarried in Canada, the largest single material export by far.

Quarries are also known to produce:

  • Gypsum
  • Salt
  • Potash
  • Coal
  • Chemical Grade Limestone
  • Common Clay’s
  • China Clay or Kaolin
  • Ball Cays
  • Silica Sand

These materials then feed into many other industries like ready-mixed-concrete plants, coating plants to produce asphalt and bituminous road-making materials, cement and lime burning kilns, concrete block and pipe works, brick works, pottery works, and plaster/plasterboard factories. Quarrying for many industries is the unspoken first step in their processes, providing them with many vital materials.

Quarrying Safely

Significant safety hazards are present in quarries, as you would imagine when working with heavy pieces of rock, explosives, large machinery and the number of moving parts many quarrying cites have (as you can see in the quarrying process photo above). The Mine Safety and Health Administration reports that incidents involving the handling of materials is the highest cause for injuries in quarries/mines.

When it comes to handling heavy materials, it’s important you’re using equipment you can trust to lift the load safely and effectively—That’s where we come in. Hercules SLR is your one-stop-shop for all things securing, yoke hardware hooks eye bolts and shackles lifting and rigging. Our focus is to provide securing, lifting and rigging solutions that allow our customers to get the job done safely and efficiently.

For example, Hercules SLR is a Master Distributor of YOKE rigging hardware—A perfect choice for handling materials in quarrying. Since 1985, YOKE manufactures durable, reliable & high-quality rigging hardware that keeps your load secure, and your team safe. They run a strict production facility, with a huge emphasis on quality control & safety at every stage of the manufacturing process—From raw materials to the finished product for the end-user, with facilities across the globe, in Canada, Los Angeles and China. YOKE is an ISO 9001 certified company with Type-Approval by major international authorities like SABS, ZU, ABS, API, and DNV. YOKE has achieved various certifications that ensure their unsurpassed product engineering.

If you’re looking to bring your material handling safety to the next level, consider taking one of our many Hercules Training Academy courses like the fundamentals of rigging.


NEED A QUOTE? HAVE A QUESTION? CALL US—WE KNOW THE (WIRE) ROPES & EVERYTHING RIGGING-RELATED.

Safety Gloves | An Important Part of Your PPE

safety-gloves-blog-header

Safety Gloves: An Important Part of Your PPE

What comes to mind when you think of the number one tool you use at work? For many people, the correct answer to this question is right in front of you—Your hands.

You may not consider it, but your hands do a lot throughout the day, and I bet your job would get a whole lot harder without them. But yet, when it comes to assembling your personal protective equipment (PPE), sometimes proper safety gloves don’t make the list. You, like many others, may not understand why protecting your hands is so important, or what type of glove is the right choice for you—Because it’s not just about wearing safety gloves, it’s about wearing the right safety gloves.

Protect your #1 tool, and read on to learn a bit more about why safety gloves are so important, and how to choose the right ones for your work conditions.

The Importance of Wearing Safety Gloves

Not only are your hands one of your most important tools, they are very complex tools that aren’t always easy to fix (as you can imagine, spare parts are hard to track down). If a severe hand injury accrues, you may have to deal with effects like loss of motion, dexterity, and grip for the rest of your life.

But the good news is – Many of these injuries can be prevented by wearing the right safety gloves. Safety glove technology has progressed to include features like being cut-resistant, heat-resistant, anti-impact, anti-vibration, and so much more! You shouldn’t have an issue tracking down a glove that will protect you from any hazards present in your workplace.

What Hazards do Safety Gloves Protect Against?

Chemical and Biohazards – When handling chemicals or biohazards, it can only take one touch to cause a chemical burn or infection. Because of this, you need a glove that forms a complete barrier around your hands. Typical glove materials for chemical protection are latex, nitrile, neoprene, polyvinylchloride, or other polymers – Like the Chemstop™ – Premium Quality PVC Coated Gloves. For chemical mixtures or jobs where multiple hazards are present, it may be necessary to wear gloves that have the highest chemical resistance or in some cases wearing a combination of different types of gloves. Employers should always refer to the chemical’s Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) for selecting the correct glove materials. Need to brush up on your WHMIS knowledge? Check out our WHMIS 2015 with GHS course!

Cuts, Punctures and Abrasion Hazards – It’s fairly common for these types of hazards to be present in the workplace. For these hazards, gloves need to be able to protect your hands from things like abrasive surfaces, wood and metal splinters and injuries associated with cut or scrapes while still providing high levels of dexterity and tactile sensitivity. Typical materials for cut and puncture protection are leather, canvas, cotton, cotton blends or other synthetic materials. Often times additional protection is added by applying various coatings to sections of the glove or by lining the gloves with impact or vibration-dampening gels or pads.

Impact Injuries – If you’re performing tasks like swinging a hammer or lifting heavy objects then you need gloves that protect you from impact injuries. Any job where your hands might be crushed or hit by tools, equipment, or supplies requires reliable, impact-resistant work gloves. Impact-resistant gloves feature a padded outer shell strategically placed to the areas on your hands where impacts are most likely to occur. Gloves like Oilbloc™ Goatskin Kevlar “SUP”® Lined Anti-Impact Driver Gloves allow some of the force of the impact to be absorbed and spread out over a larger surface.

Heat and Arc hazards – These hazards are present in many fields such as welding, glass manufacturing, petrochemical plants, oil fields, and the natural gas industries. Safety gloves that are specifically made to protect your hands against these hazards create a barrier that blocks the heat from reaching your skin. Depending on the temperature, type of heat (e.g. dry, moist, thermal, ambient), and other work factors, a variety of materials are used such as terry cloth or neoprene.

Severe Weather and Extreme Temperatures – If you’re working in a cold outdoor environment or even a cold-storage facility, you need a thermal barrier on your hands to protect them from damage and to maintain your body heat. Don’t be fooled, protecting yourself from extreme cold is just as important as protecting yourself from extreme heat. Cold temperatures can cause temporary or permanent damage to the skin and muscle tissue – The colder it is, the more protection you need. Gloves made to protect your hands from cold temperatures are often made from materials like PVC, nitrile, animal hide, or Thinsulate™ – as used in the North of 49° gloves.

Persistent Vibrations – Persistent vibration can irritate nerves and nerve endings, damage blood vessels, cause long-term joint and muscle pain, and, in extreme cases, even lead to permanent nerve damage such as neuropathy. You may think you only need gloves that help absorb vibrations when using tools that create a dramatic vibrations such as chainsaws or jackhammers, but in reality, even lower level of vibrations found in tools like sanders or grinders should be protected against because you’re more likely to use these tools for an extended period of time, not noticing the damage being done.

How to Choose the Right Type of Safety Glove

As we mentioned before, keeping your hands safe isn’t just about throwing on any glove you can find – It’s important you’re using the right ones. No single type of glove will provide protection against all safety hazards. You should always check with your jurisdiction to see if there are any regulations around hand protection, but in general, employers are tasked with performing a hazard assessment in order to choose the correct gloves to provide to their employees. But remember, your workplace safety should always be something you take into your own hands. If you feel you haven’t been provided with the correct gloves for your job – speak up!

Based on tips from The Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS), these steps can help you perform your own hazard assessment and consider whether you’re using the correct gloves for your job.

  1. Take time to think through your work tasks and environments so you have an accurate description in your mind (or on paper if that helps you!) of your day to day work.
  2. Identify all hazards that you come in contact with that may require hand protection. This should include any chemicals you come in contact with as well as physical hazards such as abrasions, tearing, puncturing, fire, temperature, and/or biological hazards.
  3. Determine the amount of flexibility and touch sensitivity you need to safely and effectively complete your tasks. This will affect your choice in thickness of glove material as well as if you may need a textured glove made to aid in grip.
  4. Take into considerating the type of contact you’re making with the hazards you’ve identified (e.g. occasional contact, splashing, or continuous immersion). This will affect your choice in an appropriate length of the glove, as well as the type and thickness of glove material, and whether you need lined or unlined gloves.
  5. Take into account any hazards that may be caused by the gloves themselves keeping in mind your other PPE. For example, heat stress, reduced dexterity, rip or tactile functions, poor comfort or contributing to skin conditions. It’s just as important to have a well-fitted, comfortable, and easy to wear pair of gloves. Gloves won’t protect anything if you’re never wearing them because they hurt your hands or make your job harder. 
  6. Consider any decontamination procedures that need to be followed. Will the gloves need to be disposed of or cleaned after use? If they need to be cleaned, consider the cleaning method, how often they can be cleaned, and any special procedures required for disposing of the “decontamination wash waste”.
  7. Ensure you’ve been given the necessary education and training required which includes: what are the hazards of skin contact with the chemical/materials being used, what are the limitations of the gloves, what could happen and what to do if the gloves fail and when to dispose of or to decontaminate gloves.

Working through this list should give you an idea of what you’re looking for in a glove – working from there you can connect with manufacturers to ensure you’re purchasing a glove that fits your perfect criteria. And remember, it’s not just about the safety features – make sure you’re choosing a glove that’s comfortable, so you’re never drawn to leave them on the table – Even once.

Hercules SLR carries a wide variety of protective gloves and equipment to keep your hands safe no matter the task. Choose from a wide selection of gloves along with rubber gloves, hand guards, finger guards, and more. You will even find glove dispensers to keep items organized. Whatever work you do, Hercules SLR has the hand protection products your job requires.


LOOKING TO BRING YOUR WORKPLACE SAFETY TO THE NEXT LEVEL? CALL US—HERCULES SLR OFFERS AN EXTENSIVE SUITE OF HIGH-QUALITY SAFETY TRAINING AND CERTIFICATION COURSES.

Fall for Safety | Tips for Autumn Yard Maintenance

Fall for Safety: Tips for Autumn Yard Maintenance

Who doesn’t love to watch the leaves on trees slowly turn from green to gold, orange, and red – It’s so beautiful! However, if you’re a home or business owner, your thoughts may have turned to cleaning up those very leaves once they fall—And all the other essential outdoor cleanup tasks that need to get done before the weather gets too cold and the snow begins.

You may not realize it, but many typical fall cleanup tasks can lead to injury if not done with the correct safety measures in place. We want to challenge everyone to fall for safety this year and keep safety in mind when performing their autumn yard maintenance.

Leaf Removal

Removing debris like fallen leaves is a task many people expect to be on their list once fall comes around. Raking leaves, in particular, is a task many of us probably perform without giving a second thought, or worrying about safety. But, if you come in from raking with a sore and achy body—Give these tips a try before simply chalking it up to the aging process.

Safety Tips for Raking

  • Avoid twisting your body while raking—Turn with your feet and above motions like throwing over your shoulder. These movements can overly strain your back muscles.
  • Use your knees when lifting and take a break if you start feeling any back pain. Never push your limits!
  • Try to vary movements as much as possible to avoid overuse of one muscle group
  • Wear gloves and long sleeves to protect your hands from blisters and skin from thorns or other debris.
  • Wear shoes with strong traction—Wet leaves can be slippery!
  • Stay hydrated and don’t overdo it—Whether you realize it or not, raking leaves is a workout. You may need to take breaks or slow your pace depending on your personal health and fitness—And that’s okay!

Leaf Blowing Safety

Remember, leaf blowers blow far more than just leaves. If you’ve used a leaf blower before, you’ve probably noticed how much dirt and debris gets kicked up along with the leaves you’re actually trying to move. If that dirt finds it’s way into your eyes, it’s going to be uncomfortable at best—But cause an eye injury at worst. Because of this, safety glasses or goggles should be worn at all times when operating a leaf blower.

Some other things to keep in mind when you operate a leaf blower are:

  • Inspect the blower before use to make sure controls, parts and safety devices are not damaged and are working properly.
  • Don’t point an operating blower in the direction of people or pets.
  • Make sure bystanders, including other operators, are at a safe distance. Turn the leaf blower off if you’re approached.
  • Do not use a leaf blower indoors (yep, we couldn’t believe it either!) it happens or in a poorly ventilated area.
  • Never modify a leaf blower in any way not authorized by the manufacturer.

Gutter Cleaning

Clearing your gutters is one of those “I gotta do it” tasks, especially since leaves have a tendency to clog it up. So, since it’s time to clean out the gutters—Let’s make sure you do it safely!

  • Wear gloves to protect your hands—Gutters can be full of dirty, rotting leaf debris that often contain bird or squirrel droppings that are ridden with bacteria. They can also prevent painful cuts from sharp debris in the gutter or an old metal gutter that my have developed sharp edges.
  • Protect your eyes by wearing safety glasses or goggles—You never quite know what may fly out of a gutter.
  • If you have to get on the roof to access part of the gutter wear non-slip shoes and ensure the roof is completely dry. Fall protection equipment should be used if your building’s roof is near or above 10ft off the ground—Check with your jurisdiction for requirements when working at heights.
  • Be mindful of power lines around you, especially if electrical wires connect to your building near your gutters.
  • Practice ladder & fall protection safety!

Ladder Safety Quick Tips

Check out this article for more in-depth safety tips.

  • Try to have someone with you while using a ladder—If this isn’t possible, always at least let someone know you will be working on a ladder and have them expect to hear from you once you’ve safely completed your task.
  • Take a moment to inspect both the ladder and the area where you’re using it—Make sure your ladder is in good working condition and doesn’t need any repairs.
  • Use a safe and sturdy ladder—We recommend one with a small shelf strong enough to hold a five-gallon bucket to collect gutter debris. If you do use a bucket, ensure it’s secured with a lanyard.
  • Maintain three-point contact by keeping two hands and one-foot, or two-feet and one hand on a ladder always.
ladder touch points how to climb a ladder
3-Point contact on a ladder.
  • Use the appropriate safety devices when needed (e.g., safety belt, fall restraint, etc.)
  • Do not “shift” or “walk” a stepladder when standing on it
  • Do not reach from the centre of a ladder (always climb down and move the ladder if you cannot reach).

Trimming Branches

As leaves fall from the trees, branches that may need trimming present themselves from hiding. Taking advantage of this time can be the best way to keep up with tree pruning along your property. If you’re looking for an easy how-to for pruning trees, check out this video!

Small, cracked or dying branches may be able to be removed by simply breaking them away, but larger branches will require tools like chainsaws for removal. NEVER operate a chainsaw without the proper training—Check out some more in-depth chainsaw safety tips here.

It’s always smart to use fall protection equipment when working at heights, so check in your jurisdiction for requirements in your area—However, it’s often required when working at heights 10-ft or higher.

Set-up

  • Make sure you are properly trained on how to use any equipment being used. Some jurisdictions may have regulations about the type of training required for tree cutting and trimming—It’s always a good idea to get trained whether it’s necessary or not. (Training rarely hurts, but injuries do).
  • Before trimming a tree, inspect the area to identify possible hazards (e.g. power lines, broken or cracked limbs). Don’t use conductive tools near power-lines (e.g. certain ladders, pole trimmers).
  • Mark off your work area and prevent bystander access.
  • Inspect your fall protection equipment, lines and ladder before each use.
  • If climbing the tree, inspect the tree and its limbs for cracks and weakness before the climb.

Operation

  • Wear the right PPE for the job, like:
    • Leather gloves to protect your hands.
    • Hard hat to protect your head from any branches that may fall above you.
    • Safety glasses or goggles to protect your eyes from dust.
    • Ear protection to muffle loud noises coming from equipment.
    • Non-slip shoes
    • Pants or chaps with sewn-in ballistic nylon pads, preferably ones that extend to the beltline rather than ones that stop at the upper thigh as they provide extra protection.
    • Fall Protection – If working at a height (necessary if above 10ft), fall protection equipment like body belts, harnesses and lanyards should be used. Need fall protective equipment? We’ve got you covered!
  • Break small dead branches off by hand as you climb – Remove larger branches with the proper tools.
  • Be sure that you can see the cut you’re making, so you d not cut hand lines, safety ropes, etc. unintentionally.
  • Work with a partner – It’s always a good idea to work with another person who stays on the ground while you’re climbing. In the event of an emergency, both you and your partner should have training in CPR and first aid.

LOOKING TO BRING YOUR WORKPLACE SAFETY TO THE NEXT LEVEL? CALL US—HERCULES SLR OFFERS AN EXTENSIVE SUITE OF HIGH-QUALITY SAFETY TRAINING AND CERTIFICATION COURSES.

10 Safety Tips Every Chainsaw User Should Know

10 Safety Tips Every Chainsaw User Should Know

Chainsaws are very commonly used and effective tools. When it comes to cutting through though materials in a hurry, nothing beats the power of a chainsaw. Chainsaws are used in many industries, and in ones like forestry, they are likely used daily by workers. Even outside the workplace, chainsaws are an easily accessible tool for the average person trying to prepare firewood for their home.

However, with great power comes great responsibility. Chainsaws are not a tool you should just bring home, unbox and start using without any experience. Even for the pros, don’t allow yourself to become overly comfortable with chainsaws – they are a tool that if used incorrectly, could result in serious injury.

The best way to ensure you are using a chainsaw correctly and safely is to take a chainsaw safety course. This is just one of many courses offered at the Hercules Training Academy! Learn more about the course by clicking here.

In this blog, we’ll go over some general safety tips that could prevent injuries when operating a chainsaw. Consider this the ‘sprinkles on top’ of an already established trained knowledge on the tool, so remember, Nobody wants a big bowl of just sprinkles—Get trained!

General Chainsaw Safety 

  1. Read the manufacturer owner’s manual carefully. Every chainsaw is different so don’t assume you can skip this step if you’ve used a chainsaw before.
  2. Review health and safety legislation on chainsaw operation in your area. Some jurisdictions have certain requirements when operating a chainsaw, including different types of PPE like cut-resistant footwear or leg guards.
  3. Inspect your chainsaw before starting. Ensure that all safety features are working and the chain is tight on the guide bar.
  4. Understand your limits. If you’re an at-home chainsaw user, don’t let your ego get in that way of calling a professional for a job that seems out of your depth. And, if you are a professional, don’t be afraid to request extra assistance for large jobs, and don’t allow yourself to be pressured to speed through a job to meet a too-tight deadline.
  5. Always wear personal protective equipment (PPE). Always wear the following PPE:
    • Eye Protection – Safety glasses with side shields, safety goggles, and face shields approved by CAN/CSA Standard z94.3-15: Eye and Face Protectors.
    • Gloves and Mitts – Leather gloves with ballistic nylon reinforcement on the back offer the best grip on the saw and absorbs some vibration which provides protection to the hands. Leather gloves also prevent cuts when sharpening the saw.
    • Foot Protection – Heavy, well-fitted, safety work boots approved by CAN/CSA Standard z195-14 (R2019): Protective Footwear. In addition to the regular required safety boots, chain saw operators should consider wearing boots made from cut-resistant materials that offer protection from contact with running chain saws (this is required in some jurisdictions).
    • Head Protection – A hard hat in a highly visible color, approved by CSA Standard Z94.1-15: Industrial Protective Headwear. 
    • Leg Protection – Pants or chaps with sewn-in ballistic nylon pads, preferably ones that extend to the beltline rather than ones that stop at the upper thigh as they provide extra protection. All clothing worn while operating a chainsaw should be well-fitted, without cuffs, and made of close-woven fabrics.
    • Fall Protection – If working at a height (necessary if above 10ft), fall protection equipment like body belts, harnesses and lanyards should be used. Need fall protective equipment? We’ve got you covered!
  6. Do not cut alone. Always have someone nearby if something goes wrong. If you have a team working spread out on a project, ensure everyone knows where everyone else is and who’s closest to them if they need to reach out for help.
  7. Be aware of your surroundings. Only operate a chainsaw outside or in a well-ventilated area. Be aware of weather conditions, terrain, wildlife, buildings, power lines, vehicles, and other people.
  8. Only operate saws when you are well-rested. Fatigue causes carelessness—If using a chainsaw on the job, be extra cautious before breaks and at the end of your shift.
  9. Don’t use a chainsaw on a ladder or climb a tree with your chainsaw if not professionally trained to do so. Consider buying a pole saw if you’re trying to complete jobs like trimming high-up branches.
  10. Ask questions, be safe. If you have any doubts about doing the job safely, seek out the proper protocol before continuing. Varying safety procedures may be necessary or required depending on the job at hand (e.g. working at a height, or presence of trip, slip, snag or fall hazards). You should also have a first aid kit nearby at all times when operating a chainsaw.

Just as a bit of a bonus, we broke down some do’s and don’ts when cutting with a chainsaw and tips to fuel up! Hopefully these coupled with our off the chain training course will have you equipped with all the knowledge you need to get the job done well, and most importantly, safe.

The Do’s and Don’ts of Cutting With a Chainsaw

DO

  • Plan each job before you start. If you’re unsure what to do next, turn off your chainsaw and come up with a plan before continuing.
  • Hold and carry the chainsaw by its front handle, with the muffler away from your body and the guard bar pointing behind you.
  • Use the correct saw—Proper weight, power and bar length should match the job at hand.
  • Operate the chain saw in a firm two-handed grip with fingers and thumb surrounding the handles. Always keep both feet firmly positioned.
  • Maintain full power throughout the entire cut.
  • Ensure the chain does not move when the chain saw is idling.
  • Keep your saw clean- free of sawdust, dirt, and oil.

DON’T

  • Start a chainsaw when it is resting against any part of your body.
  • Stand directly behind the saw.
  • Leave a saw running unattended.
  • Carry a chainsaw while it’s running.
  • Make contact with the muffler—This may cause serious skin burns.
  • Cut with the nose or tip of your chainsaw – this will cause kickback and can lead to serious injury.

Tips for Fueling a Chainsaw

  • Follow the manufacturer’s directions for what oil/gas mixture should be used for your specific model.
  • Only use safety containers for storing and dispensing fuel.
  • Do not refuel a running or hot saw – always allow it to cool down before refueling.
  • Ensure you are at least 3 meters (10 ft) from sources of ignition before dispensing fuel. Do not smoke or be around smokers while refueling. 
  • Use a funnel or spout for pouring and wipe away any spills.
  • Mix fuel in a well-ventilated area and keep a well-maintained fire extinguisher nearby.

Remember, the best way to ensure you are using a chainsaw correctly and safely is to take a chainsaw safety course. Through our Hercules Training Academy, we offer an extensive suite of high-quality safety training and certification courses. Whether you’re looking for initial or refresher training, we provide practical, hands-on courses designed to exceed the minimum safety requirements. Learn more about the Chainsaw Safety course by clicking here.


LOOKING TO BRING YOUR WORKPLACE SAFETY TO THE NEXT LEVEL? CALL US—HERCULES SLR OFFERS AN EXTENSIVE SUITE OF HIGH-QUALITY SAFETY TRAINING AND CERTIFICATION COURSES.

5 Workplace Safety Hazards to Avoid

5 Workplace Safety Hazards to Avoid

Every worker has the right to return home safe each and every day. The most recent report conducted by the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS), showed that 251,508 Canadian’s accepted claims for lost time due to work-related injury or disease in just one year. Following simple health and safety precautions could have eliminated many of these injuries.

The following are 5 health and safety violations that topped the reported violation list in Ontario last year—Read on to ensure you don’t become part of a statistic.

1. Lack of Proper Fall Protection

According to the CCOHS, over 42,000 workers a year are injured due to fall incidents. This represents approximately 18% of the time-loss injuries accepted by the Workers Compensation Board across Canada.

So how do these falls happen? The majority (around 67%) are the result of slips and trips while the remaining are falls from a height.

Preventing Falls due to Slips and Trips

The most basic way to prevent slips and trips is to maintain proper housekeeping measures, such as:

  •  Cleaning spills immediately if possible, and marking them as ‘wet areas’ if not
  •  Ensuring debris is mopped or swept from floors
  •  Removing obstacles from walkways
  •  Securing mats, rugs or carpets to the floor to ensure they lay flat
  •  Covering and securing cables that cross walkways
  •  Replacing used light bulbs and faulty switches to ensure all work areas are well lit

While following these suggestions will reduce your risk for slips and trips, it’s impossible to completely eliminate all risk. As an employee, it is important that you recognize the risk and prepare yourself as much as possible. There are lots of easy ways to reduce your chance of falling, which include:

  • Wearing the proper footwear—Consider slip-resistant shoes with flat heels, especially when working in an oily or wet environment
  • Keep your hands to your sides, not in your pockets, for balance
  • Walk slowly on slippery surfaces—Slide your feet to avoid sharp turns
  • Always focus on where you are going, what you are doing, and what lies ahead
  • Don’t carry loads you can’t see over
  • Watch out for floors that are uneven, have holes, etc.

Preventing Falls from a Height

Just because falls from a height happen less often doesn’t mean you should be discounting them as a serious risk. These falls are the incidents that commonly lead to grave injuries or even death.

The best way to prevent falls from a height is having a fall protection plan. Fall protection plans outline policies and procedures involved in assembling, maintaining, inspecting, using and dismantling any equipment you may be using to work at a height. Fall protection plans need to be customized for each work-site, as requirements and equipment will vary based on many different factors.

A site-specific fall protection plan will incorporate many things, including:

  • Site location – address, description, work areas, tasks, etc.
  • Site-specific fall hazards (e.g. maximum working heights or proximity to power lines)
  • Type of fall protection to be used, including all anchor points and clearance requirements
  • Equipment inspections
  • Any other work requirements (e.g. presence of first aid or rescue personnel, barricades, etc.)
  • Rescue procedures
  • Worker sign off

If you’re working at a height exceeding 3 meters (10 feet) occupational health and safety laws generally require fall protection measures to be in place. You can check with your jurisdiction as requirements do vary, but in most cases fall protection measures such as fixed barriers, surface opening protections, control zones, fall or travel restraint systems, fall containment systems or fall arrest systems are required. You can learn more about some of these systems by reading our fall protection glossary.

2. Improper Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

Personal protective equipment is the last line of defense for workers against hazards. The PPE you use will depend on your work environment, work conditions and the job being performed. It’s important to remember that there are many different variations of PPE and some may be made of materials suitable for one purpose, but not another.

Personal protective equipment does not guarantee permanent or total protection for the wearer, and should be used coupled with other measures to reduce hazards in the workplace. As well, simply having access to some general PPE isn’t enough—to ensure your PPE is providing you with the highest level of protection you must:

  • Carefully select the correct type of PPE based on the type of hazard and degree of protection required
  • Train users to ensure the proper use and fit of the PPE
  • Store and maintain the PPE correctly according to manufacturer guidelines
  • Maintain high-quality PPE by performing regular inspections and discarding/replacing any defective pieces.

Industrial or Construction Workplaces 

Most industrial or construction workplaces require eye protection, head protection and specialized footwear as a minimum protection. The most commonly used PPE in these workplaces are:

  • Hard hats for protection against falling objects
  • Safety glasses for protection against intense light, UV rays, infra-red rays, and flying objects
  • Earplugs or earmuffs for noise protection
  • Safety shoes (often steel-toed) to protect from crushing toes
  • Safety Gloves for protection against contact with toxic chemical or electrical wires
  • Fall protection equipment for protection from falls from a height

Working with Chemicals 

When working with chemicals PPE is necessary to reduce or eliminate exposure. Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) will list the correct PPE to wear based on the chemicals being used. It is extremely important to refer to the MSDS when choosing the type of PPE used, as not all types will protect you against certain chemicals. PPE commonly used when working with chemicals include:

  • Safety glasses to protect against chemical liquid splashes, dust, etc.
  • Gloves to protect hands from corrosive or toxic materials
  • Respirators to protect lungs from toxic gas, vapours, fumes and dust
  • Specialized clothing to protect the skin from toxic or corrosive materials
  • Safety footwear to protect the feet from corrosive or toxic materials

Personal protective equipment varies greatly between workplaces and jobs performed, so always survey your work situation to determine if further PPE is necessary. Job-specific PPE may be needed for jobs in which you work with kilns, molten metals or sharp tools.

3. Not Using a Lockout/Tagout System

As much as we’d like to wish it didn’t, equipment breaks—When it does, it’s important to know what to do, especially if that piece of equipment conducts hazardous energy. That’s where the lockout/tagout system comes into play!

What is Lockout/Tagout?

Lockout in technical terms it is defined in the Canadian standard CSA Z460-13 as “Control of Hazardous Energy – Lockout and Other Methods” as the “placement of a lockout device on an energy-isolating device in accordance with an established procedure.” In basic terms, it’s a system that allows you to fully shut down a piece of equipment that needs repair, to ensure no energy is going through the equipment. It also ensures that nobody will be able to use the damaged piece of equipment, or turn it back on prematurely. In most cases, these devices will have loops or tabs that can be locked onto an object keeping it in an “off” or safe position.

Tagout comes in as the labeling process that is always used when lockout is required. These are usually standardized labels that include:

  • Why the lockout/tagout is required (repair, maintenance, etc.)
  • Time of application of the lock/tag
  • The name of the authorized person who attached the tag and lock to the system –
    ONLY the authorized person who placed the lock and tag is permitted to remove them. This helps ensure that the system cannot be started up without the authorized person’s knowledge.

What are the Basic Steps of the Lockout/Tagout system?

This is a process that involves more than simply putting a lock and tag on a switch. Communication, coordination and proper training are key in successfully following the step-by-step process. You should always consult your organization’s lockout program document and follow the detailed instructions provided.
An abbreviated overview of the steps of a lockout/tagout program include:

  1. Prepare for shutdown – The authorized person will identify any sources of energy connected to the equipment, and choose the proper method of control.
  2. Notify all affected employees – The authorized person will notify all affected personnel of what is going to be lock/tagged out, why it will be locked/tagged out, how long they should expect the equipment to be unavailable, who is responsible for the lockout/tagout and who to contact for more information.
  3. Equipment Shutdown – Following the manufacturer’s instructions or in-house work instructions the equipment is shut down ensuring all controls are in the off position and all moving parts have come to a complete stop.
  4. Isolation of System from Hazardous Energy – In most cases, there will be exact written instructions guiding you as so how to cut off different forms of energy found within your workplace. General CCOHS procedures can be found here.
  5. Removal of residual or stored energy – Following manufacturer instructions ensure any stored energy within the system has dissipated.
  6. Lockout/Tagout – Once you’re sure all energy sources are blocked, the system is locked and tagged to ensure it stays in an off and safe position. Each lock should only have one key, and each person working on the system should have their OWN lock.
  7. Verify Isolation – Verify that the system is properly locked out before any work is completed.
  8. Perform Maintenance or Service Activity – Complete the job required while the system is locked and off.
  9. Remove Lockout/Tagout Devices – Inspect the work area to ensure all tools have been removed, confirm that all employees are safely away from the area, verify that controls are in a neutral position, remove devices, re-energize the machine and notify affected employees that servicing is completed.

Following the correct steps in locking and tagging out equipment is the best way to ensure that nobody is harmed while performing maintenance as well as no piece of equipment is used while broken-down.

4. Poor Housekeeping

When you think of housekeeping the first thing to pop to mind may be the ever-growing list of chores you struggle through when you’d rather be watching TV. However, in the workplace housekeeping isn’t just about dusting some selves, it’s an important part of your health and safety measures!

Poor housekeeping can be the cause of workplace incidents such as:

  • Trips and slips because of loose objects or wet spots on floors, stairs, and platforms
  • Being hit by falling objects
  • Hitting against projecting, poorly stacked items
  • Cutting or puncturing of the skin on projecting nails, wire or steel strapping

How do I Plan a Good Housekeeping Program?

Effective housekeeping programs require ongoing management and attention. It focuses on more than just keeping the workplace neat and tidy, but also deals with the layout of the workplace, aisle marking, storage facilities, and maintenance. A big part of proper workplace housekeeping is ensuring that everything that comes into the workplace has a plan as to where it will be, how it will be handled, and how it will leave the space – including disposal procedures. Often times, injuries result from materials being stored improperly, but that can easily be avoided by having a storage plan and procedure in place.

You also want to make sure you are keeping the space clean. Each work environment will require different services, but it all boils down to having a plan and staying on top of it. Making sure you have a plan for dirt and dust removal, washroom facilities, surfaces (floors and walls), light fixtures, aisles and stairways, spill control and waste disposal—These are all good jumping-off points, but you should stay aware of any reoccurring problem areas in your work-space and be on-top of addressing them in a timely manner.

What are the Benefits of Good Housekeeping Practices?

It’s important to remember that many other health and safety measures can be made useless without proper housekeeping. For example, offering a forklift operations safety course to your workers won’t result in less forklift accidents if your work areas aren’t cleared enough to navigate without hitting obstacles.

We can’t stress enough how important it is to take the time to maintain your work-space—It can also result in:

  • Reduced handling  of materials
  • Fewer tripping and slipping incidents
  • Decreased fire hazards
  • Lower exposure to hazardous products
  • Better control of tools and materials, including inventory and supplies
  • More efficient equipment cleanup and maintenance
  • Better hygienic conditions leading to improved health
  • More effective use of space
  • Improved morale and productivity

5. Incorrect use of Ladders

Ladders are a tool very commonly used both in out of the workplace, that can easily be used incorrectly. That being said, with the correct knowledge, it’s also very easy to use them correctly!

Before using a ladder you should always take a moment to inspect both the ladder and the area in which you are using it. Before each use, make sure your ladder is in good working condition and doesn’t need any repairs. Good things to look out for are:

  • Missing, loose or damaged steps or rungs (you should not be able to move or shift these by hand)
  • Loose nails, screw, bolts or nuts
  • Rot, decay or warped rails in wooden ladders
  • Cracks and exposed material in fiberglass ladders
  • Rough or splintered surfaces
  • Corrosion, rust, oxidization or excessive wear
  • Twisted or distorted rails
  • Loose or bent hinges or pail shelf
  • Wobble of any kind

If any of these things are present in your ladder, it should not be used and should only be repaired by a trained professional—Don’t try to make temporary makeshift repairs or attempt to straighten bent or bowed ladders on your own.

What SHOULD you do When Climbing Up or Down a Ladder?

Before using a ladder you should always ensure that it is secured correctly—A second person should hold the bottom of long ladders to keep them steady. And don’t forget about your footwear! Make sure your footwear is in good condition and is cleared of mud, water, snow, ice or grease. Footwear with a heel is recommended, as it can help stop the foot from slipping forward on the rugs.

Other things to remember are:

  • Face the stepladder
  • Keep your body centered between side rails
  • Maintain three-point contact by keeping two hands and one foot, or two feet and one hand on a ladder always
  • Keep a firm grip
  • Place feet firmly on each rung
  • Rise or lower tools and materials using a hoist, hand-line, bucket or other device.
  • If using an extension ladder, be careful when stepping or gripping near the locks as the locks could obscure part of the rung
  • Use the appropriate safety devices when needed (e.g., safety belt, fall restraint, etc.).
  • Check with your jurisdiction for requirements when working at heights near or above 3 metres (10 feet).
  • Only allow one person on a ladder at a time (except when using a specially engineered two-person ladder).

What SHOULDN’T you do When Climbing Up or Down a Ladder?

  • Hurry when moving up or down the ladder
  • Slide down the ladder
  • Jump from a ladder
  • Carry tools or materials in your hand while climbing the ladder
  • Use an aluminum ladder when working near electricity
  • Reach from the centre of a ladder (always climb down and move the ladder if you cannot reach)
  • “Shift” or “walk” a stepladder when standing on it
  • Use tools that require a lot of leverage (e.g. pry bars) as this motion could knock you off balance
  • Stand, climb, or sit on the ladder or pail shelf
  • Stand on or above the top two rungs or steps of a ladder
  • Allow another person to work below your ladder

LOOKING TO BRING YOUR WORKPLACE SAFETY TO THE NEXT LEVEL? CALL US—HERCULES SLR OFFERS AN EXTENSIVE SUITE OF HIGH-QUALITY SAFETY TRAINING AND CERTIFICATION COURSES.