- Published: November 09, 2018
It's October 1st and here in Alberta, we have already experienced several snow events and even driving conditions you would expect in the middle of January! Now that summer is behind us and with real winter just around the corner, we took the time to outline some safe winter driving practices during our monthly HSE Meeting this morning. We discussed the importance of planning ahead, being prepared in the event of an emergency and how to handle adverse road conditions. We also discussed the risk associated with carbon monoxide poisoning, which increases during the winter months. We encourage everyone to plan ahead and make sure your vehicles are winter ready!
Our job is to determine if a site has been returned to a suitable condition, and understanding provincial guidelines and standards is a part of that. While not entirely health & safety related, it is still important to ensure that the health of site occupants is being protected and that contamination is not putting people/animals at risk. To do this, our personnel need to understand the ‘how’ and ‘why’ behind guidelines, and what else needs to be considered.
Today we reviewed how water pH, temperature, hardness, and chloride concentrations can all affect guidelines for different metals and nutrients parameters in groundwater. At different pH and/or temperature levels, different metals parameters become more or less soluble in groundwater. This is very important to know when we are working near water bodies that could be impacted by a release, or when we are working with releases of fertilizer.
We also discussed the importance of a proper background soil sampling program when dealing with releases of fertilizer and/or salt into soils. There are no provincial standards in place in Alberta for many nutrient/salt parameters in soil, but that doesn't mean that it's ok to not remediate the issue. In instances such as this, taking samples from areas outside of the area of impact and using statistics to generate background guidelines is the best approach.
Workers new to the job are three times as likely to injure themselves during the first month of the job than experienced workers. New workers may be at a greater risk on the job due to several things, including a lack of experience, a lack of understanding and preparation for the workplace, being hesitant to ask questions when needed, and not being aware of their rights as a worker. Whether young or old, new workers may not be aware of the hazards in their workplace and they may feel pressured to work quickly to keep up with experienced workers or to adapt to their new work environment with little guidance.
To address these risks, supervisors and employers must spend ample time training and supervising new workers, provide safety training before any work is assigned, pair them with experienced, safety-conscious workers, instruct and encourage new workers to report dangerous work and health concerns, and encourage young workers to ask questions and talk with their supervisors. Additionally, allow new workers to fill out pre-job safety sheets to familiarize themselves with the potential hazards on site. The most important aspect is to lead by example such as wearing protective equipment and demonstrating safe work habits around new workers. By doing so we can create a safety-conscious habitat not only for the new workers but every employee
Safety tickets (i.e., H2S, First Aid, TDG, WHMIS, Ground Disturbance, etc.) should not be considered a shield against potential risk. Certification for many safety tickets is every three years; can you remember everything you learned one month ago - let alone three years ago? Do you take opportunities to review or practice what you’ve learned ahead of planning your field activities?
At July’s H&S meeting, we conducted a short quiz to demonstrate not what is learned, but what can be forgotten with time. Continued learning and review of safety is a pillar at Nichols Environmental so that our staff can complete their programs safely.
Although our work often pulls us in different directions on a regular basis, our professional mandate will always be to protect human health and the environment. Our June staff meeting presentation focused on the design and implementation of Conceptual Site Models (CSMs).
For those who do not know, a CSM is pictorial story of the biological, chemical, and physical processes which govern contaminant transport from a Site towards sensitive receptors. These models are as dynamic as a Site itself, continuing to evolve as more information becomes available. They consider not only the current and historical uses of the Site and surrounding area, but the future uses as well. A CSM can be used to determine sensitive migration pathways, identify data gaps, or predict what could occur should contaminant management not be implemented or fail. CSMs are not a new tool, but their popularity has increased in recent years as it’s simple presentation can reach a range of stakeholders, including the public.
If a picture is worth 1,000 words, a CSM would be priceless.