The 8 habits of very safe workers

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Read these safety rules. You must know this on your first day at work. A safety habit is something that a person does many times. It becomes a normal part of the day.

Think safe

  1. Think safe before you start working. Do the following:
    • Look for safety hazards.Hazards are things or actions that might hurt someone.
    • Look for them before they cause harm.
    • Think about hazards before you start your work.
  2. Compare Canada and your first country.
    • Ask yourself: Were the safety standards in my first country the same as in Canada? How are they different?
    • Follow the safety standards for Canada.
    • Change your thinking and practices.
    • This will protect yourself and your team members.
  3. Be open to learning.
    • Don’t think that you know everything about safety.
    • Learn about safety every day. Don’t become careless or lazy.
    • Think and act safely for yourself and your coworkers.
  4. Take the “family” test.
    • Do you practice safety at home?
    • Do you teach it to your family so that they practice it at home?

Think safe for your coworkers

  1. Think about how other people might get hurt before starting work.
  2. Don’t just think about your own safety.
  3. Think of ways to prevent injuries or incidents. Help to keep your co-workers safe.

Tell your supervisor when you are hurt

  1. Tell your supervisor right away when you get hurt at work.
    • Some hide their injury so that they can continue to work. They are afraid to lose their shifts and pay, or lose their job.
    • Continued work makes the injury worse. Because of this, they will have to take time off work to recover.
    • The injury will take longer to heal because it wasn’t treated at the start. This doesn’t have to happen.
  2. In Manitoba, you can get healthcare and claim workers compensation benefits.
  3. Report your injury to the Workers Compensation Board of Manitoba (WCB). Follow these steps:
    • Tell your supervisor. Complete a form. You can also use the Notice of Injury to Employer Form. Your employer will report your injury to the WCB.
    • Go to your doctor. Say that you were hurt at work. He/She will submit documents about your injury to the WCB.
    • Call the WCB (204-954-4100 or toll-free: 1-855-954-4321). If you can’t speak English, ask for translation services. You can choose which language to use. Tell the WCB that you have missed work because of an injury. Tell them that you have seen a doctor about it.
    • Do what your doctor tells you. It will help you get better faster.
    • Let your supervisor and the WCB know how your recovery is going. Tell them when you can return to work.
  4. Read the WCB Reporting an injury brochure. You can choose the Amharic, Arabic, Chinese, Cree, Czech, Dari, French, German, Karen, Korean, Ojibwa, Polish, Punjabi, Russian, Somali, Spanish, Swahili, Tagalog, Tigrinya, Ukrainian or Vietnamese version.

Avoid the most common on-the-job injuries

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

To avoid this:

  1. Listen to your body.
    • Stop working when you feel you are pushing your body too much.
    • Take a short break.
    • Stretch your muscles.
  2. Make changes.
    • When you are doing an activity repeatedly, you use the same muscles again and again.
    • You will hurt your muscles and joints.
    • Take a break. Do something different.
    • Come back and do the activity later.
    • Try to use different muscles during your shift. Do lots of stretching.

Ask when you are unsure

  1. Sometimes English is difficult to understand.
  2. Newcomers don’t want to ask because they don’t want others to think their skills are low.
  3. You must ask when you don’t understand someone or something about safety.
  4. Your coworkers will trust you more. They will understand that you want to work safely.
  5. You are responsible for your own safety and for your co-workers’ safety. If you make a mistake that hurts a coworker, you can be blamed.

Say No to Unsafe Work

  1. If someone asks you to do something unsafe, say “I am sorry. I cannot do this work because I think it is unsafe for me and the team.”
  2. In Canada, you have the right to refuse unsafe work. It is part of Occupational Health and Safety laws.
  3. Your safety and your coworkers’ safety is at risk, if you don’t say no.
  4. Your employer must always make sure you are qualified and capable of doing a job. If not, you will need to take training. Or you might need to work with a partner who is qualified.
  5. Don’t confuse unsafe work with regular job duties.
  6. 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 equipment. It could also be unsafe if the conditions are bad (for example, stormy weather).

Wear Your PPE

  1. Wearing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is one of the most important safety practices in the workplace.
  2. PPE protects your head, eyes, ears, hands, feet and legs.
  3. It includes hard hats, goggles, masks, ear plugs, gloves, body suits and boots. PPE also includes respirators, harnesses and lifelines.
  4. Always wear your PPE. Almost half of all workplace injuries are to the head, hands and face. These can be prevented or minimized by using your PPE.

Do Hazard Assessment

  1. No one knows when an accident is going to happen. But you can help prevent it if you do a hazard assessment.
  2. A “hazard assessment” is a way of looking for hazards before they happen. It is done at the start of your shift.
  3. Examples of hazards are: a piece of wood with a nail sticking up or wet and slippery floors in an area where other workers walk through.
  4. During your shift, watch out for and prevent hazards as you work.
    Steps for hazard assessment:
    Step 1 – Look for any hazards, or accidents that could happen.
    Step 2 – See how dangerous each hazard is: high – medium – low.
    Step 3 – Control the hazard: make a plan to minimize or stop the hazard.

  6. Your company should have a hazard assessment form. Fill it out at the start of every shift.
  7. If a hazard assessment is not a part of your job, do one by yourself to be 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).

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Everyday Conversations

Max works for a manufacturing company. He had a minor injury at work. In this dialogue, Max is reporting the incident to his supervisor, Vadim.

Vadim: Are you alright Max? What happened?

Max: I was getting my tools when I heard a loud noise. I looked behind me to see what it was. I saw that Arjun was having trouble with the hoist. Then, I saw that the tire that he was moving became unscrewed. So, I ran as fast as I could. Luckily, I was able to move away before the tire fell near the shed.

Vadim: Were you hurt?

Max: I have scratches on my left shoulder. My ankle also hurts. It might be a sprain. But I’m ok.

Vadim: That’s good to know. Anybody else injured?

Max: Arjun is safe. Nobody else was near the area.

Vadim: That’s good. 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.

Thank you Vadim, I will.

Loosely 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.

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

When describing an event or incident, you will need a lot of verbs in the past tense. Verbs are action words like saw, heard, and ran.

To link each part of the story, Max used sequencing words like “when”, “then”, “so”, and “luckily”. These words introduce the next part of the event smoothly. They make it easier for the listener to follow the story. You can also use: Next, and then, and, afterwards, or finally.

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