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Marijuana Legalization & The Canadian Workplace? – Part 1

Posted by on 10:01 pm in What's New | 0 comments

Marijuana Legalization & The Canadian Workplace? – Part 1

Marijuana in the workplace is a hot topic in Canada, especially with the impending legalization of the substance slated for July 2018.  Whether you agree or disagree with legalization, a firm understanding of what this means is needed. I have heard opinions from every side of the spectrum, including: If marijuana is legalized, we should no longer test for it. If I test workers for marijuana, I won’t have any workers left. We should only test for recent use, therefore only oral fluid testing, not urine testing. Marijuana is totally natural. No one has ever died from it, there are far more deaths from alcohol.  Marijuana is harmless. What people do in their own personal time is their business, I only care that they are safe while at work. I don’t want to have to pay for the treatment of someone who is ‘addicted’ to pot. I will not use this forum for a detailed position paper on the topic, although there are some great one’s out there. Here is one of my favourites by Dr. Brendan Adams for The CLR-A.  I am choosing to comment on each of these lines of thinking mentioned above.   If marijuana is legalized, we should no longer test for it. Just because a substance is legal, it does not mean that it should be allowed on the worksite, especially when health and safety are at risk.  Alcohol is a legal substance, however, it is not allowed on most worksites because of it’s impairing effects.  Smoking is legal and yet, it is not allowed indoors because of the negative health effects associated. We can even take it a step further and say that there are many things not allowed at the worksite that have nothing to do with safety, but rather the reflection of company standards and values.  It may not be illegal to wear flip flops, short shorts and a bikini top out and about, but it is certainly not appropriate or allowable attire for most workplaces (I’ll make an exception for lifeguards!).  The point is this, just because the Canadian government is legalizing a substance, it does not mean that the negative effects of that substance disappear.  THC does have impairing effects, which I will not be debating here, because of this, employers have both the right and the responsibility to keep their workers safe and should not to allow THC in their safety-sensitive employees.  Legalizing a substance does not give it a golden safety seal that negates all ill effects, what it does means is that you won’t receive a fine or charges if you use the substance in a way allowable under the legislation. Industry often takes the decision to enforce stricter standards than basic legislation.  For example, most workplaces test for alcohol with a cut-off level of either 0.02% BAC or 0.04% BAC depending upon the industry.  This is far below the legislated 0.05% BAC or 0.08% BAC.  When employers are asking workers to perform dangerous jobs, they are taking on the responsibility of keeping their workplaces as safe as possible, this often means banning or reducing legal things and substances. In short, just because marijuana is on the books to be legalized, it does not mean that employers will decide to stop screening for THC. In my...

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Halloween Safety – It’s Not Just For Kids

Posted by on 6:22 pm in What's New | 0 comments

Halloween Safety – It’s Not Just For Kids

As Halloween approaches every October 31st I see Halloween safety segments on the news, or posters given out at schools.  This is fantastic!  As much as we know some of these things, being reminded helps bring it to the forefront.  Examples of some of these safety notices include: Kids should have their faces painted instead of wearing masks. Masks are more difficult to see out of. ALWAYS have parents examine candy collected during trick or treating. Throw out anything unwrapped, punctured, or suspicious in any other way. Have a flashlight/glow stick or some other form of reflective material when trick or treating, so you are easily visible to motorists. Stay on sidewalks, not the road! This one seems obvious, but I cannot count how many excited kids I see dart out in the middle of roadways, or walk down the middle of the road. That is certainly not an all-encompassing list of everything we should teach our children who will be participating in Halloween, but it gives you the idea. This year, I wanted to come up with a Halloween Safety List specifically targeted at adults.  As stated before, nothing you will see on the list is necessarily revolutionary, but repetition helps cement the principles.  This is the importance of ongoing training and re-certification (first aid principles and H2S tactics need to be second nature during an emergency).  Once you know a principle, concept, tactic, inside and out and have practiced it over and over, you will automatically default to that training when the need arises. Be hyper vigilant on the road. Young kids have been known to dart off a sidewalk onto a roadway when something catches their attention. Older kids,  finally allowed to go trick or treating without a parent, can get so distracted by their friends, that they simply don’t pay attention to where they are going. And then there are the teenagers and adults, who may be walking home from a party, or in really unfortunate cases, driving home from a party where alcohol was consumed.  Depending upon their level of intoxication, they may not be fully aware of their surroundings. This leads into the next point…do not drive impaired!!! That does not just mean alcohol.  When I say impaired, I’m also referring to drugs, including marijuana.  Whether marijuana is de-criminalized where you live or not, recent use = impairment.  Appoint a designated driver. Do not come ‘hung-over’ to work the next day.  Drink responsibly.  A safety-sensitive worker who is hung-over is not on their ‘A Game’ making it easier for incidents to occur. If you have kids coming to trick or treat, ensure that your decorations are not a safety hazard. You don’t need real blood gushing out a child’s head from tripping over a skeleton arm on your sidewalk.  Esthetics should never trump safety! Somehow, adults tend to look out more for their children than they do themselves. If you are going to steal your children’s candy – make sure you inspect it for yourself too, not just for your kids!!  (And let’s be honest, we’re all going to steal some of their candy!) This is true 100% of the time, but especially when people are in costume…if you are at a party, never put down your drink. If you do happen to...

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Welcome to Fall: PSL’s, Crisp Air and Audiometric Testing

Posted by on 8:33 pm in General, What's New | 0 comments

Welcome to Fall: PSL’s, Crisp Air and Audiometric Testing

I love fall.  It is my absolute favorite season of the year.  I love the smell in the air, I love getting to wear scarves and sweaters, I love drinking a hot pumpkin spice latte and I love that everything is in launch mode.  The summer vacation season is over and everyone is back to their regular schedule.  Summer always seems a bit lax in the business world.  People are on vacation, decisions are often put off until the fall and new initiatives are usually delayed until everyone is back into ‘go mode.’ Summer is great.  It is a time to plan, and get everything in order so that when fall hits, you can hit the ground running.  Summer is the time to review policies, revisit your org. chart, scrutinize your budget and clean house.  When September roles around, it’s time to pull the trigger!!  Are you ready? Now that your employees are back from summer vacation, it is the perfect time to schedule us to come out and complete your annual health surveillance screening. Audiometric (Hearing) Testing Spirometry (Lung Health) Testing Mask Fit Testing Fit Your Workers for Custom Ear Molds (Custom PPE) Health monitoring and surveillance is easy to push off or forget.  This is your reminder!!  Chances are, your workforce is due for some form of regulatory health testing!  Above all, companies have the responsibility to ensure their employees/contractors,/etc. are safe from both immediate and long-term health issues.  In our safety culture, most of us are great at mitigating immediate risk, because we can see immediate consequences of inaction.  Long-term, cumulative damage is a lot harder to see and is rarely seen as an urgent issue.  Sometimes, it takes 5, or 10 or even 15 years of exposure before the irreversible damage is caught/noticed.  Catch and stop any negative health trends and concerns before they are so far gone that your employees quality of life is affected. Your workers are putting their health and life into your hands every single day.  Remember this, when you are considering pushing off your annual audiometric testing to save a few dollars.  You cannot buy back an employees hearing once it is gone. It is often said that there should be a course for people to be allowed to have children, because some people do not know how to take care of children.  There IS a course – multiple courses in fact to teach you how to be responsible for the lives of those in your care on the worksite.  There are full designations that indicate you know how to steward people’s lives.  Do not trade that knowledge for saving a quick...

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Welcome to the New World of Pokemon GO

Posted by on 4:31 pm in General, What's New | 0 comments

Welcome to the New World of Pokemon GO

Ask anyone and they will tell you I’m not a gamer.  Unless monopoly counts, I do love a good board game on occasion.  I have never understood the draw of electronic gaming.  However, I know that there are millions of you out there that do.  As a non-gamer I’ve been astounded to see my social media newsfeeds and newspapers flooded with stories about Pokemon Go.  It isn’t even in Canada yet!  Why is this such a phenomenon? Quick disclaimer to those who have never heard of this game.  Pokemon Go is a digital app for smart phones and tablets that uses GPS and camera technology to send users out of their homes to ‘catch’ digital Pokemon and battle them.  Some are rare and difficult to find, others are relatively simple.  The smart phone will show what appears to be a Pokemon overlaid onto the screen.  There are things called Gyms, that allow you to battle against other users and Pokestops, which I believe are just hubs where you’ll find a fair amount of Pokemen (I’m assuming Pokemen is the plural form!).  These gyms and Pokestops are in real locations, coffee shops, churches, etc.  As for the other details, you may need to check in with someone who actually plays it.  There are millions of them out there – Pokemon Go has more active users than Twitter or Tinder and it has only been out for a week! I am not a psychologist, nor will I ever pretend to be, but I am someone who is a bit opinionated, so here goes with the reason why Pokemon Go is so popular as per Rachel: Inherently we all crave excitement and adventure. Some people indulge by jumping out of airplanes or climbing Everest.  Others have Netflix marathons of the show 24.  And many fall somewhere in-between on the comfort level of adventure spectrum.  Gaming in general transports the user to a world full of excitement and adventure while still maintaining the safety of being within a familiar environment.  Pokemon Go has taken the safety of traditional gaming and moved it up a step or two on the excitement spectrum!  Users are forced to leave their homes and interact within their community if they want to have success. Deep down humans have a desire for interactions with other humans. Some of us are introverts and some are extroverts, but no one wants to live a completely isolated life.  In the gaming world, this created a phenomenon of multi-player games.  Real people playing a game together and interacting with one another digitally.  Pokemon Go has again escalated this aspect of gaming and the human need to connect and has created real life interactions with other humans. I am 100% convinced that everyone knows that sitting on a game console all day is not the healthiest choice physically. However many people lack the motivation to get up and doing something active or exercise.  Pokemon Go takes away the guilt of being lazy and encourages physical activity.  I can see many fitness apps being developed utilizing the same technology.  Zombie Run, which has been around for a while is a great example.  Turning a task that someone doesn’t enjoy into a fun game is the easiest way to get it done.  Remember when you were...

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Top 10 Reasons to Wear Custom Hearing Protection

Posted by on 10:51 pm in General, What's New | 0 comments

Top 10 Reasons to Wear Custom Hearing Protection

I had fun today making a new infographic titled, Top 10 Reasons to Wear Custom Hearing Protection.  What is your number one reason?  I personally like the fun colours!!  Hello glow in the dark with sparkles!! Multi-Functional: Use For Work, Riding Motorcycle, Hunting, Sleeping, Mowing Lawn, Etc. More Cost Effective than Traditional Universal Plugs Over a 4-Year Period Eco-Friendly: No Need to Throw Out Multiple Foam Plugs Every Day Peace of Mind: 2 Year Material Warranty Better Noise Reduction than Universal Plugs Better Fit Than Universal Plugs or Buds Come in Fun Colours, Sparkles, Logos, Etc. Comfortable:  Guaranteed Will Not Fall Out Due to Movement, Sweat, Etc. Fits Everyone – No Matter the Shape or Size of Your...

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Introducing Fentanyl Drug Testing

Posted by on 6:55 pm in General, What's New | 0 comments

Introducing Fentanyl Drug Testing

You may not have heard of fentanyl, but this drugs popularity is growing at an exponential rate, seemingly overnight.  Buzz around this drug seems more popular now than ever as it has been linked to the death of the pop singer, Prince.  It seems to be the new drug d’jour.  Since its rise in popularity, our staff at Health & Hearing Conservation Consultants have been continuously asked if we offer fentanyl drug testing.  So here is an introduction to the drug and what you need to know. Fentanyl is considered a synthetic opiod/opiate.  In the simplest of terms, opiods are essentially pain relievers.  It acts upon certain receptors in your brain to ‘block’ the feeling of pain.  Other drugs that fall into this category are oxycontin, morphine and heroin.  Fentanyl is one of the strongest opiods on the market and is used for patients with ailments such as cancer.  It is roughly 50 to 100 times more toxic than morphine.  Fentanyl is available as a skin patch, lozenge, pills, shots, a film that dissolves in your mouth, nasal spray, or by IV (intravenous). As with any opiod, the main symptoms of fentanyl abuse are euphoria, drowsiness, lethargy and mellowness. Fentanyl very quickly creates a tolerance to high doses, so a dose that is adequate for the intended high one week will probably not create that intended high even a few days later.  Symptoms of fentanyl use include but are not limited to: Dry mouth Retention of urine Suppression of breathing Severe constipation Itching or hives Nausea and vomiting Loss of appetite Weight loss Headache Depression Hallucinations Bad dreams Difficulty sleeping Sweating Shaking Swollen extremities Severe weakness or fainting. Slow heart rate Muscle stiffness Dizziness, vision problems High blood pressure (confusion, anxiety, pounding in your neck or ears) Alberta, like many provinces, has seen a rapid rise in fentanyl-related overdose deaths over the past few years.  This rise in fentanyl overdoses is part of a pattern that has been seen across Canada. The Canadian Community Epidemiology Network on Drug Use has tracked this pattern in a bulletin from August 2015: Deaths Involving Fentanyl in Canada, 2009–2014. Over the first 3 months of 2016 (from January 1 to March 31), there were 69 fentanyl-related deaths in the province. This is roughly consistent with the first 3 months of 2015, during which 77 fentanyl-related deaths were reported. In 2015 overall, there were 274 overdose deaths in Alberta in which fentanyl was detected, up significantly from previous years: 120 in 2014 66 in 2013 29 in 2012 6 in 2011 Health and Hearing Conservation Consultants is now offering URINE fentanyl testing services.  We are offering the laboratory based testing across Canada.  A fentanyl panel can be added to any standard drug screen (5 panel, 12 panel, etc) or can be administered as a stand-alone test.  We are also launching instant fentanyl urine testing in our Edmonton, Alberta office beginning mid-June 2016. If you would like to book a fentanyl drug screen, please click here, or call 1-877-920-8378. Please note that screening for fentanyl is not currently available for hair or oral fluid testing.  When it becomes available, we will offer those services in addition to urine...

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Custom Ear Impressions

Posted by on 5:08 pm in General, What's New | 0 comments

Custom Ear Impressions

Just a quick video today that explains a bit about what the process of getting fit for a custom ear bud is like.  Please note this is not our video, it is from an American tech YouTube...

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Personal Protection Equipment: Safety Clothing for Dangerous Jobs

Posted by on 9:36 pm in General, What's New | 0 comments

Personal Protection Equipment: Safety Clothing for Dangerous Jobs

April 28th is the official Day of Mourning in Alberta, for those who have lost their lives in workplace accidents.  Following along that thought, let’s all take the time to do everything we can to prevent workplace incidents from happening.  Today’s posts highlights some PPE (personal protective equipment) options to be aware of.  The following post was provided to me by Dennis Kaminski, the founder of SafetyMart. -Rachel Personal protective equipment isn’t something that most people get too excited about. But when you work in a field where there is a high risk for potential injury, PPE can mean the difference between feeling comfortable in a potentially dangerous work environment and feeling afraid of possible injuries. That being said, certain fields require the use of safety clothing to protect the skin from burns or exposure to harmful chemicals. Careers like welding or fabrication often require the use of FR safety clothing in addition to respirators to avoid exposure to toxic gases and fumes. Without the right safety clothing and gear, these workers could sustain life threatening injuries and exposures.   Selecting the Right Safety Clothing and Equipment for the Job Careers which expose employees to loud noises should provide ear protection at the very least to employees–that’s a no-brainer. But deciding the right ear protection and maintaining that ear protection can sometimes be tricky. People who work in the entertainment industry or industrial jobs may find that custom ear molds are optimal for the work they do because they protect the ears from noise above and below a certain decibel. Other industrial employees may find simply foam rubber earplugs provide the protection they need for their ears. Safety clothing for specific fields is also incredibly important. Fire resistant safety clothing for those who deal with welding, fabrication, or other tools which can generate heat or flying metal or debris are essential for protecting the skin from serious burns. Fire resistant clothing is offered in a variety of different types. There are some that are treated with a FR chemical after manufacture, and others which are actually made of FR fibers weaved throughout the material. Whichever type of FR clothing is used, there are some important steps which must be taken to properly care for these garments to help maintain the FR rating. They may be washed, but often fabric softeners cannot be used on these clothing without compromising the fire resistance. Check with the manufacturer for specific care instructions of fire resistant clothing. Respirators are another important piece of personal protective equipment. Many fields work with chemicals or metals which can give off toxic gases or fumes. Inhaling these gases can cause immediate injury and health consequences in some cases. In others, the cumulative effects can take a long time to begin to show symptoms, but are potentially life-threatening (i.e. mesothelioma as a result of breathing in asbestos). This is why respirators are crucial to have in some fields. Some respirators provide coverage to the entire face. Others simply cover the nose and mouth. A lot of respirators require users to be completely clean-shaven so there are no gaps between the surface of the respirator and the surface of the skin. Proper respirator training is something that should be performed regularly. Personal Protective Equipment and safety clothing aren’t just...

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Anti Drinking & Driving Campaign

Posted by on 2:51 pm in General, What's New | 0 comments

Anti Drinking & Driving Campaign

I came across this powerful video today that shows the real effects of drinking and driving.  A prisoner who killed someone in a drunk driving incidents, speaks to men in a bar bathroom, reminding them of the effects of drinking and...

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Motorcycle Season is Here

Posted by on 10:26 pm in What's New | 0 comments

Motorcycle Season is Here

Motorcycle season has arrived in Canada.  After months of being stored in garages and sheds, motorbikes are now gracing our streets and highways.  This is not a typical safety blog talking about how important it is to be aware of bikes on the road.  Although, as a disclaimer:  BEWARE OF BIKES ON THE ROAD!  CHECK YOUR MIRRORS!  The intent of this post is to let you know that we offer solutions to protect your hearing while riding a motorcycle. Unlike a typical passenger vehicle (car, truck, van, etc) bikes offer no sound reduction from engine, wind and road noises.  A rider is typically exposed to noise levels of 90dB or greater, depending upon wind conditions.  At these levels, those who do not wear hearing protection will suffer noise induced hearing loss.  This loss may not be noticeable at first, but will become noticeable after years of repeated exposure. Most motorcyclists understand the effects of a “silent killer” which follows them every time they enjoy riding their bikes. Unfortunately, several people still believe the causes of hearing loss are due to how loud the bike sounds, and/or that it affects only the people who do not wear full helmets. Based on several research studies, the major contributor to hearing loss in the motorcycle industry remains the “silent killer” known as “wind noise.” Generically termed as the amount of noise turbulence produced around the head while the rider is in motion Full face helmets do offer some reduction, especially compared to half helmets, but not enough to prevent hearing damage/loss.  One of the most comfortable options for protection is a custom fit earplug.  There are several options, depending upon your specific needs, personal preference and set-up. For those who wear a half helmet, HCC recommends Solid Class A Plugs. For those who wear a full face helmet, HCC recommends Filtered Class B Plugs For those who have electronics in their helmet for their phone, we would need to speak to you to determine the most appropriate solution, based upon the specific set-up For those who listen to music while driving, HCC recommends either Earbud Sleeves to fit overtop of your existing earbuds or Audiofuse Custom Earbuds It is not just road safety that motorcycle riders need to be aware of.  It is easy to forget how easily hearing damage happens.  When the results are not immediately apparent, it is easy to pretend that they do not exist. My suggestion:  Anyone who consistently rides motorcycles would benefit from a baseline audiogram  (hearing test) and subsequent annual audiograms every year to monitor their hearing.  This would show any trending towards hearing loss, or reflect that your hearing protection is adequate and effective. Have a great riding season and stay...

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