OHS Canada Magazine

Keeping workers safe during storm clean up: Advice from P.E.I.’s WCB


October 11, 2022
By OHS Canada

Health & Safety Chainsaws Cheryl Paynter fatigue Hurricane Fiona Ladder Safety pei Prince Edward Island wcb

Elements of this image furnished by NASA / Adobe Stock

The Workers Compensation Board (WCB) of Prince Edward Island has made some practical resources available to keep workers safe as the clean-up from post-tropical storm Fiona continues across the province.

The topics covered include safety for workers and contractors new to a job, using ladders or cranes, using a chainsaw, avoiding working fatigued and using gas or propane fueled equipment.

“Fiona left much damage as she tore through our province on September 24. Our shared experience with similar weather-related events tells us that the clean-up will take some time. Many employers are quickly onboarding new workers to respond to the many needs our communities are experiencing. As they do, we encourage them to keep safety top of mind as these new workers may not be familiar with hazards, equipment and associated safety procedures,” said Cheryl Paynter, CEO of the Workers Compensation Board.

The WCB would like to remind all Islanders that urgent workplace health and safety matters can be reported anytime by calling its Occupational Health and Safety emergency line at 902-628-7513. This emergency line is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, including during statutory holidays.

Tips for employers, workers

When using ladders or cranes

  • Before using a ladder identify all hazards in the area such as power lines. There is a potential for injury or death one a ladder makes contact with a
    power line.
  • Inspect your step ladder for splits, twists, broken braces, loose hinges or loose steps, before use.
  • Ensure the ladder is stable and firm on its legs. Avoid placing your ladder on slippery and unstable surfaces
  • Do not place a step ladder on boxes, carts, scaffolds or unstable objects.
  • Avoid sitting or standing on the top of the step ladder.
  • Keep your body between the rails, if you cannot reach
  • When climbing up or down always face the ladder and maintain three point contact- both arms and a leg on the ladder.
  • When using a crane truck, try to avoid contact to a power line
  • Once a crane has contacted a high power voltage line, the ground area of the crane truck has been energized. DO NOT MOVE.
  • If in immediate danger and need to move, keep your feet together and slowly shuffle (toe to heel and never leaving the ground) at least 10 metres away.

When using a chainsaw

  • DO NOT USE a chainsaw if you have not received formal or workplace training on chainsaw safety.
  • Wearing PPE — a hard hat with shield, gloves, chainsaw pants, neck guard, chainsaw boots — is a must
  • Make sure the chainsaw is clean and in good condition
  • Test the chainsaw before use, and always cut at waist level or below.
  • Be aware of ‘chainsaw kickback’ and how to maintain control when it happens
  • Make sure you and others are protected from flying debris
  • Make sure other workers are nearby in case you get injured. Bystanders or coworkers should be 30 feet away from anyone using a chainsaw.
  • Scan your cutting area for possible hazards such as nails or cables outside or inside the wood or debris around.
  • Avoid contact with power lines or cutting them until it is disconnected from a power source.
  • If an injury/cut happens, apply direct pressure on the wound.

Keen attention to workers/contractors new to a job

  • New workers must be aware of possible hazards in their work environment
  • Supervisors MUST ensure new workers are well trained, and new workers must routinely practice work related skills under supervision from an experienced co-worker/supervisor.
  • New workers should inform their employer or supervisor about any safety concerns.
  • Employers MUST take every safety precaution to ensure a new worker is safe, accord to the OHS Act.

Know your workplace hazards: Guide to Performing a hazard assessment

  • Biological: Bacteria, viruses, insects, fungi, animals, and plants- can lead to viruses or diseases.
  • Chemicals
  • Ergonomic: relating to work stations or designs; repetitive movements, poor lighting, awkward posture, etc. can lead to physiological problems
  • Physical: Noise, vibration, radiation, heights, extreme temperatures also lead to physiological problems
  • Safety: Slipping/tripping hazards, insufficient machine guarding, equipment malfunctions, heavy machinery operating
  • Psychosocial: Stress, violence, harassment, emotionally draining work, increased fatigue.

Avoid working fatigued

  • Working fatigued is as bad as working while impaired. It can lead to poor judgement, planning, communication, attention, memory, reduce your ability to handle stress and lead to stress related effects such as mood swings.
  • If you are a worker, tell a supervisor if you or a coworker is unable to work due to fatigue
  • Take breaks in between shifts to address fatigue, PPE limitations and/or heat of cold related illnesses.
  • Supervisors must prevent a worker from working if there are signs of fatigue or impairment
  • Supervisors should create shifts that give workers enough time to rest- 10 hours of rest time in a 24 hr. period
  • Supervisors must provide a work environment with adequate lighting and temperature.
  • Encourage workers to maintain a healthy lifestyle such as eating healthy and getting enough rest.

When using gas or propane fueled equipment

The use of some alternative sources of electricity for heating, cooling, or cooking can cause carbon monoxide (CO) – an odorless, colorless and tasteless gas- to build up in a worksite building or home and can poison the people and animals inside. Here are safety tips to prevent CO poisoning:

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  • Generators, grills, camp stoves, or other gasoline/propane fueled equipment should never be used inside an enclosed worksite, basement, garage, or mobile office – or even outside near a window.
  • Educate workers on the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning and the importance of getting medical assistance immediately.
  • Inform workers of working alone procedures to ensure that they are in contact with someone who can provide assistance in hazardous situations.
  • Recognize potential ventilation problems in enclosed areas where gases of burning fuels may be released.
  • Equip appropriate respiratory machines nearby. Ensure workers are adequately trained to properly use respirators, have been fit-tested, and are clean shaven before use.

For more information, visit http://wcb.pe.ca/fiona

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