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Surviving those cold winter days – February 2, 2022

It’s official – winter is here. These cold wet days will be with us for a little while longer and being safe is not an option.

Although Canadian winters are incredibly beautiful, the cold can often be challenging – providing major risk of frostbite and cold stress. The frequent alerts warning me of reduced visibility, pending snow squalls or extreme cold weather alerts are reminders that these conditions can be dangerous both at home and work.

Before leaving for work each morning I stop and take a brief moment to ensure driving and walking paths are clear.  With regular freeze-thaw scenarios there can be significant water runoff in the day that will pool and may become icy by the time I return home. Shoveling the driveway and sidewalk, and using pet-safe salt or dirt helps reduce the chance of a slip and fall, and is also very considerate to pedestrians or delivery people. I also make sure to wear appropriate footwear that provides effective traction when I am walking on wet and slippery surfaces outdoors. Even though this does add extra time to my  morning routine, assessing potentially changing driving and walking conditions and being cautious reduces the stress of travelling in winter conditions.

Your vehicles should also be prepared for winter weather with appropriate tires and wipers already installed for the season.  The recent snowstorm that severely impacted commuters across the province was also a great reminder of the importance of keeping my fuel tank at least half full and checking on the winter washer fluids levels.  We should also all have a winter emergency car kit with the following items:

  • Water in a plastic bottle that won’t break
  • Snacks with a longer shelf life, such as granola or energy bars
  • Extra clothing – socks, sweater, gloves and even a spare pair of boots!
  • Blanket
  • Small shovel, scraper, snowbrush
  • Sand, salt or a non-clumping kitty litter
  • Jumper cables and tow rope
  • Extra antifreeze and winter washer fluid
  • First aid kit
  • Flashlight

At CNL, it is our practice to check site conditions daily for the safety of our employees and contractors. We also monitor weather conditions and ensure we are dressed appropriately while we work. Checking our homes and worksite for outdoor hazards, removing snow and treating ice, and being prepared can make a big difference in keeping ourselves and everyone around us safe this season.

Stay focused and stay safe!

Home for the Holidays – December 20, 2021

Things are starting to get festive and we are all counting the days until the holidays are here. I recently took a walk through downtown Port Hope and enjoyed the decorated storefronts and the buzz of joyful activity.  As I looked at the beautiful lights and all the décor, it brought to mind how safety is a part of all our activities.

As happy as the holidays can be, they can unfortunately also be a dangerous time of year. As we take the time to relax and decompress, we must remain diligent about safety practices around the home. These are perhaps things that we already do and making safety a part of all our lives is the way to go.

A few things to practice are:

      1. Always using a ladder or step stool when decorating for the holidays. Make sure it has slip resistant feet and always use three points of contact. Have a helper to spot you when using the ladder or hand you decorations.
      2. If choosing a live tree this year, keep it watered to remain green and fresh so it does not become a fire hazard. When choosing an artificial tree, pick one with a fire-resistant label. Make sure the base is sturdy to avoid tipping or falling over.
      3. When decorating your homes do not overuse extension cords, inspect all light strands before using and secure and choose decorations wisely.  Choking hazards for pets or children should be considered and keep decorations away from heat sources.
      4. Remembering that space heaters are great for providing supplemental heat but must only be used in safe areas – at least four feet away from anything that can burn. Don’t use extension cords or plug heaters directly into the wall outlet.

This is my favorite holiday and I plan to spend it reflecting on the year, enjoying my loved ones, relaxing the best I can, and come back renewed, re-centered, and re-focused. As I do that I will remember those less fortunate. The local fare share food bank is accepting non-perishable or monetary donations. Your donation could make the difference to someone

Have a safe and happy holiday. I look forward to seeing everyone again in the New Year.

Stay focused and stay safe!

Mark Hughey

Stay Focused – December 8, 2021

Being in Port Hope this past year, seeing the salmon run and the leaves change, as well as having the privilege of enjoying my first Canadian Thanksgiving was truly an experience. Now, we are in the holiday season with several events being held in person, like the recent Santa Claus parade. With pandemic rules loosening, and people spending more time together with loved ones again and participating in these holiday activities, it is easy to allow distractions to affect safety.

Here at Canadian Nuclear Laboratories (CNL), our values include practicing safety both on and off the job, so I urge each of you to take care of yourself and those around you during these busy times.  We have a “Target Zero” philosophy here regarding health and safety events, lost-time incidents for workers and impacts on public safety. These can apply to our regular day-to-day life with so many distractions and interruptions competing for our attention, maintaining our focus is essential. Once focus has been lost on the job at hand, it can take 20 minutes or more to regain it. This results in us being less productive, but more important, it can lead to injury.

  • When I need to recalibrate my attention, I remind myself of some safety fundamentals that have always served me well:
  • Work together! Be willing to offer support and share ideas, and recognize when you need to ask for help.
  • Plan ahead and plan safe.  If there’s no plan, or it’s not safe, don’t do it!
  • Declutter your space; keep areas tidy and organized
  • Remember what is truly important – whether it be a family member, your health or a personal goal – in whatever you do, do it safely

I am reminded that the word “focus” may be small, but the meaning is HUGE when it comes to safety.

Stay focused and stay safe!

Mark Hughey