Crystalline silica is becoming well-known for being a potential health hazard in jobsites across Canada. It is used extensively in many industrial applications because of its unique physical and chemical properties. Health concerns arise when silica-containing products are disturbed by grinding, cutting, drilling or chipping, creating respirable particulate.
Silica, or silicon dioxide, is a naturally occurring material. In its crystalline form, it is commonly known as quartz, and is the earth’s second-most common element. Silica is not on its face dangerous, but when disturbed can create silica “dust"particles which when inhaled can clog the lungs, making it difficult to process oxygen.
Few people would deny that having a healthy, drug-free, physically fit workforce is important, especially for those who work in safety-sensitive positions. But not only do many employers not require workers in safety-sensitive positions to undergo vision testing, but some do not even have policies requiring workers to report vision problems at all.
Hand-arm vibration syndrome (HAVS) is a condition most commonly seen in workers required to use powered equipment with high frequency vibration or high impact (such as chainsaws, jack hammers, drills, grinders, or sanders). When a worker uses or handles a vibrating object, the vibration is transmitted to the hands and arms. Repeated vibrations cause blood vessel constriction in the hands and arms, reducing blood supply while working. The vibrations can cause neurological, vascular, and musculoskeletal injuries. The effects of HAV are cumulative and both frequency and amplitude play a role in the injury process. As with most overuse/repetitive injuries, the more exposure you have in your job the more likely you may develop the condition.
You may already know that strenuous or repetitive activities at work can lead to injuries and disorders like carpal tunnel syndrome and tendonitis. These types of injuries are called workplace-related musculoskeletal disorders, or WMSDs, and can cover a range of conditions characterized by pain, swelling, or tenderness in the joints, muscles, tendons, or nerves (Turner, n.d.). The good news is that the risk of WMSDs can be greatly mitigated with the implementation of a few simple preventative measures.
If you have experience wearing an RPD (respiratory protection device) on the job, you probably already know the importance of protection against compromised air quality. RPDs protect the wearer by filtering out contaminants in the air, such as dust, coal, fumes, and gases. They can also supply oxygen to the wearer in environments where the air may be thin, such as in a confined space. Mask fit-testing is an essential step to protecting workers in dangerous, low air quality environments.
Athletes know the benefits of initiating a training session with a dynamic warmup. Have you every wondered why these athletes are back on the playing field so quickly after an injury, while someone from work may be on disability leave for weeks or even months with a similar injury?
The answer is simple: most people are not treating their bodies the same way that an athlete would.
Statistics Canada 2010: Canadian Community Health Survey states around 1 in 5 people who were working in BC in 2012 have made claims for back problems. Back injuries account for 24% of the overall work claim injuries, followed by fingers at 11% and legs at 9%. One reason that employees might be getting these injuries is through improper lifting technique.
According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, Carpal Tunnel Syndrome accounts for 50% of all workplace related injuries in America. This is a surprising statistic, because there is a common belief that Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is only caused by computer/keyboard related jobs.
According to the Statistics Canada 2010: Canadian Community Health Survey, around 1 in 5 people who were working in BC in 2012 have made claims for back problems. In fact, 1 in 4 of the injury claims made over the last ten years were for Back Strain Injuries (BSI) and have been responsible for the most workdays taken off than any other injury.
If you own a vehicle you have without a doubt noticed substantial change for the cost to fill your tank. For the average white collar worker the savings is a bonus, but for many blue collar workers in Alberta 2015 is off to a rocky start as the dropping price of oil impacts employment opportunities across the province.
Did you know that hand and wrist injuries account for approximately 20% of visits to emergency departments?
Such injuries not only had an impact to the physical and mental health of the injured worker, but can also impact health care costs and productivity costs due to work absenteeism.
At the COAA Conference earlier this year various labour related challenges such as retirement, immigration, the portability of skills and the willingness to work in remote areas were spoke on. All of those concerns will affect the availability of skilled workers meeting future forecasted demand for skilled healthy workers.
I had the pleasure of listening to Barb Banford speak at the AOHNA Symposium last week. She is as funny as she is intelligent, and put into perspective how the normal physiological and mental changes we experience can have an impact on the workplace.
Work is, unquestionably, good for our health. It not only provides us with income to support our families, it also gives us a sense of purpose and meaning. Research has shown that despite being injured, returning to work in some sort of capacity (modified duties) is often better for recovery than long periods away. Injured employees off work longer than six months have only a 50% chance of ever returning to their job.
Diminished health, whether the result of work or non-work-related activities, reduces the quality of life and income potential for employees, as well as negatively impacting those dependent upon them.
Organizations that protect their employees from the risk of injuries or illnesses create a more vibrant, engaging and highly performing workforce.