Category: Hazardous materials

“… inhaling too much of it can result in suffocation due to insufficient oxygen,” reads a new safety alert issued by WorkSafeBC after a BC farmer was exposed to elevated methane levels while moving manure. This is a known hazard – but reminders are still needed.

I recently visited the CanSav website and read a number of tributes to people who died from asbestos-related illness. Bob Katzka – founder of the Canadian Society for Asbestos Victims – emailed a link to the site when he introduced himself after finding my blog. His father died of asbestos-related illness in 2007 and he’s sharing his story so others will know they aren’t alone.

Check out these asbestos resources offered in honour of Global and National Asbestos Awareness Week Apr. 1 to 7.

It could be months before investigators know what started an explosion and fire that killed two workers and injured 19 on Jan. 20 at the Babine Mill in Burns Lake, BC. One possible cause is combustible dust explosion, but it’s still too early to know for sure. The CCOHS says things that may “seem like harmless substances” – including sugar, coal, wood dust, flour – can “become the fuel for an explosion.”

Jennie Inkster, safety coordinator for the City of Kamloops, completed a set of written emergency procedures for dealing with chlorine leaks. Then she tested them with the local fire department during NAOSH Week 2011. Kamloops earned three NAOSH Awards: in Best New Entry at the national level and in BC’s Local Government category and Best Presentation of Theme.

Her husband came home from work every day at the asbestos plant, covered in “fairy dust” and hugged her and the kids. Now she lay dying of mesothelioma – a rare cancer caused by asbestos exposure. She wanted to prevent others from suffering as she had, without realizing her risk until it was too late.

“Once a person is completely under the surface of the grain, ‘drowning’ happens quickly, as the grain and grain dust quickly enter the nose and mouth, making it impossible to breathe,” says Nicole Hornett, a farm safety coordinator with the Alberta government. “The further someone is buried into the grain, the harder it is to pull them back out, countering the force, friction and the additional weight of the grain.”

Here’s a story from someone who worked on a film set 10 years ago. She said she inhaled smoke on set and from a nearby paint warehouse – though she didn’t realize it at the time. A couple of years later, she thinks the exposure caused rhinitis – but good luck making a claim with a production company that doesn’t exist any more.

A construction worker at a coffee shop told me he declined a safety mask because he had lots of nose hair to protect him. I wanted to whip out my lap top and show him the Silicosis Exposure video from WorkSafeBC.

Asbestos may be a silent killer, but this man affected by it was anything but silent. Paul Douglas was diagnosed with mesothelioma and given three to six months to live. But he survived another 11 years and worked hard to raise awareness about his illness.