The 8 habits of very safe workers

You are reading the Original Version (CLB5+) Read Simple Version (CLB3-4)

Skip to:

The following are general safety rules that newcomers must know on their first day at work. A safety habit is something that a person does so many times, that it becomes a natural part of the day, like breathing.

  1. Think safe

    Safety begins with your mindset. You need to think safe before you start working. To think safe, do the following:

    • Look for safety hazards. Hazards are things or actions that might hurt someone. Identify and stop those hazards before they happen. This means thinking about hazards minutes, or even hours and days before you start your work.
    • Compare Canada and your first country. Ask yourself: Were the safety standards in my first country the same as here in Canada? Compare safety topics in your new workplace with your previous workplace. Take note of differences. Follow the safety standards for Canada. Change your thinking and practices so that you can protect yourself and your team members.
    • Be open to learning. Don’t think and act like you know everything about safety. Everyone needs to learn and be reminded about safety every day; otherwise people become careless or lazy. Think and act safely for yourself and your coworkers.
    • Take the “family” test. Do you practice workplace safety at home? Do you teach it to your family so that they practice it at home? If you can answer “yes” to both those questions, you are probably a very safe worker.
  2. Think safe for your coworkers

    You need to practice workplace safety for yourself and for your coworkers. When you are looking for hazards or planning a job, think about how other people might get hurt. Don’t just think about your own safety. Identify ways to prevent injuries or incidents. You need to help keep your work partners and your team safe.

  3. Tell your supervisor when you are hurt

    Sometimes people get hurt and then try to hide the injury so that they can continue to work. Workers are worried that they might lose their shifts and pay, or worse, lose their jobs. So they may continue to work and cause the injury to become worse. Eventually, they will have to take time off work to recover. The injury will take longer to heal because it wasn’t treated at the beginning. This doesn’t have to happen.

    In Manitoba, you can get healthcare and claim workers compensation benefits when you are injured. You can report your injury to the Workers Compensation Board of Manitoba (WCB) by following these steps:

    1. Report your injury to your supervisor and complete a form. If the supervisor doesn’t have a form, you can use the Notice of Injury to Employer Form. Your employer will report an injury to the WCB.
    2. Get medical help. When you inform the doctor that you were hurt at work, he/she will complete some paperwork for the WCB.
    3. Call the WCB (204-954-4100 or toll-free: 1-855-954-4321) to inform them that you missed time from work and have seen a doctor because of a workplace injury. Talk to a Claim Information Representative. You can ask for translation services if you want to speak in the language of your choice.
    4. Follow your healthcare provider’s treatment plan for a faster recovery.
    5. Keep in touch with your supervisor and your WCB adjudicator. Let them know how your recovery is going and when you can return to work.

    For more information, read the WCB Reporting an injury brochure.

  4. Avoid the most common on-the-job injuries

    The most common on-the-job injury in Canada is overexertion. Overexertion means making your body do more than it can. This usually results in an injury. The most common injuries to workers are sprains, strains and tears. The spine, the wrists and ankles are the body parts that workers injure most often.

    To avoid this:

    • Listen to your body. Stop working whenever you feel you are pushing your body too much. Take a short break. Stretch your muscles.
    • Make changes. Be careful when you are doing the same activity repeatedly, using the same muscles again and again. You will hurt your muscles and joints. Take a break. Do something different. Then come back and do the activity later. Try to use different muscles during your shift. Do lots of stretching.
  6. Ask when you are unsure

    Sometimes newcomers don’t understand workplace safety because English is difficult to understand. They don’t want to ask because they don’t want coworkers to think their English skills are low. When you don’t understand someone or something about safety, you must ask. When you ask, your coworkers will trust you more. They will understand that you want to work safely. Remember, you are responsible for your own safety and for your co-workers’ safety. If you make a mistake that hurts a coworker, you are responsible.

  7. Say No to Unsafe Work

    “I am sorry. I cannot do this work because I think it is unsafe for me and the team.” This is what you say to your supervisor, team or work partner if they ask you to do something unsafe. In Canada, you have the right to refuse unsafe work. In fact, you must say no to unsafe work, according to Occupational Health and Safety laws. Your safety and your coworkers’ safety are at risk if you don’t say no. Your employer must always make sure you are qualified and capable of doing a job. If you are not qualified, you will need to take training or might need to work with a partner who is qualified.

    Be careful not to confuse unsafe work with your regular job duties. For example, if you have to work high above the ground and you are scared of heights, this is not unsafe work. It is only unsafe if you don’t have the proper training or the right safety gear (equipment). It could also be unsafe if the conditions are bad (e.g. stormy weather).

  8. Wear Your PPE

    Using Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is one of the most important safety practices in the workplace. PPE is used to protect your body. Using PPE includes protecting your head, eyes, ears, hands, feet and legs. It includes equipment such as hard hats, goggles, masks, masks, ear plugs, gloves, body suits and boots. PPE also includes things like respirators, harnesses and lifelines. Always wear your PPE. Almost half of all workplace injuries are to the head, hands and face. Most of those injuries can be prevented or minimized by using your PPE.

  9. Do Your Hazard Assessment

    No one knows when an injury or incident is going to happen. But you can help prevent them if you perform a hazard assessment. A “hazard assessment” is identifying dangers that might cause harm in the workplace. It is done at the beginning of your shift. Examples of hazards are: a piece of wood with a nail sticking up or wet and slippery floors in an area where workers walk through. Responsible workers continue to look for and prevent hazards as they work and remove or report them.

    You can do a hazard assessment the following way:

    • Step 1 – Identify any potential hazards, or accidents that could happen.
    • Step 2 – Assess each hazard. Decide how dangerous the hazard is: high – medium – low.
    • Step 3 – Control the hazard: Develop a plan to minimize or stop the hazard.

    Your company should have a hazard assessment form. This is a document you fill in at the start of every shift. If a hazard assessment is not a normal part of your job, you can do one by yourself to stay safe.


Adapted from Working in the Canadian Workplace – Handbook (2012) by Paul Holmes. The research and development was performed by Paul Holmes of Anthony & Holmes Consulting Ltd. in partnership with Alberta Workforce Essential Skills Society (AWES).

Back to top

Everyday Conversations

Max works with heavy machinery for a re-manufacturing company. He sustained a minor injury when a co-worker did not follow the correct job and safety procedures. In this dialogue, Max is reporting the incident to his supervisor, Vadim.

Vadim: Are you alright Max? What happened?

Max: I have scratches on my left shoulder and I think I sprained my ankle. Other than these, I’m alright.

Vadim: That’s good to know. What caused the accident?

Max: I was supervising Arjun. He was disassembling a tire attached to the hydraulic hoist. Then, our mechanic stopped by to check on supplies. I did not see that Arjun unscrewed the bolts on the rim before securing the tire properly. There was a loud noise before the tire crashed. I was able to run. Otherwise, I could have been hit.

Vadim: I am glad that did not happen. Were there any other workers injured aside from you?

Max: The tire fell far from Arjun so he was safe. It was also a good thing that there was nobody else near the area.

Vadim: Was there damage to the worksite?

Max: The damage was minimal. Some cement slabs were broken. But we need to check the chain on the hoist before we use the machine again.

Vadim: OK Max. Please fill out our Notice of Injury to Employer form so I can report it to the WCB (Worker’s Compensation Board). I suggest that you go see a doctor. Have your shoulder and ankle checked to make sure that you did not break any bones.

Max: Thank you Vadim, I will.

Based on the Case Study: “An Accident waiting to happen” from Working in the Canadian Workplace (handbook). A guide for Newcomers to Canada working in construction, service and other related sectors. Paul A. Holmes, Anthony & Holmes Consulting Ltd. and the Alberta Workforce Essential Skills Society, 2012.

“Other than these…” means aside from all that was mentioned before.

Describing an incident needs a lot of technical terms used in your line of work. In this dialogue, Max used “disassembling” (take something apart), “hydraulic hoist” (a device used for lifting or lowering a load), “unscrew” (detach by removing screws in place), “bolts on the rim” (bolts are fasteners that secures the wheel to the metal part).

Max gave a chronological order of events. Chronological means in the order that the events happened – from start to finish.

“The damage was minimal” means that not a lot was destroyed. The word “minimal” means “the least possible.”

Back to top

We'd love to hear from you!

Please login to tell us what you think.

Related Learning Activities

WorkCom_Before you begin

A woman giving a presentation at work

Thinking about your knowledge and skills is an independent learning strategy. When you think about what you can do and what… Read more »

WorkCom_Week 4

A woman giving a presentation at work

This is our last week of Workplace Communications. This time you are in the driver’s seat. We look forward to your presentation… Read more »

WorkCom_Week 3

A woman giving a presentation at work

We have now reached week 3 of Workplace Communications! This week, we are engaging in a number of activities that allow… Read more »

WorkCom_Week 2

A woman giving a presentation at work

In week 2,  we continue practising working with others by doing a peer review. A peer review helps you develop… Read more »

Back to top

CC BY-NC-SAText of this page is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA, unless otherwise marked. Please attribute to English Online Inc. and link back to this page where possible. For images and videos, check the source for licensing information.