Working Wise | DrumhellerMail - Page #26
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Last updateWed, 14 Feb 2024 9am

My new job requires me to work outside and I’m a little worried about the winter. It already feels cold and I know it’s going to get worse. Do you have any tips on staying warm?

 

Dear Working Wise:

My new job requires me to work outside and I’m a little worried about the winter. It already feels cold and I know it’s going to get worse. Do you have any tips on staying warm? Signed, Freezing

 

Dear Freezing:

 

Yes, working in the cold can be uncomfortable and even dangerous.

 

Under the law, employers are responsible for the health and safety of the workers on their work sites. Working in the cold is a hazard. Your employer should be monitoring the outside temperature and taking steps to protect you.

 

However, you also have a role to play in protecting yourself and the people you work with. The person most likely to notice frostbite, hypothermia or dehydration is you or one of your coworkers. Here are some tips to help you stay safe and warm this winter.

 

Dress in layers—Layers allow you to adjust as the temperature, wind and your physical activity level changes. This prevents you from getting too cold or hot—causing you to sweat. Damp clothing wicks away body heat and causes you to feel colder faster.

 

Stay out of the wind—a mild 20 km/h wind can make -20 C feel like -30 C. If you can’t work inside, try building a wind break.

 

Take frequent breaks—employers should provide a heated rest area. A schedule of regular rest breaks, based on the conditions, should be established to allow workers to warm up. Workers should be allowed to decide how often they need to take breaks—the schedule is just to ensure that you don’t forget to stop and warm up.

 

Limit your exposure—get your tools and nails ready before you go outside. Work on small projects inside and then carry them outside for installation. Work outside during the warmer hours of the day and work inside during the colder ones.

 

Drink warm liquids—drink coffee, tea and hot chocolate to help you warm up and alternate with water or a sports drink. Caffeine speeds up your metabolism, causing you to sweat and possibly dehydrate and lose electrolytes.

 

Cover your head and hands—the greater the surface area of your skin is exposed, the more heat your body loses. If you are on your knees a lot, wear extra protection on your knees to insulate them from cold surfaces. Be careful, scarves and gloves can get caught in moving equipment.

 

Use enclosures and heating systems when possible—heaters can help take the edge of a cold work area or help you warm up while you’re taking a break, but be sure the area is well ventilated to prevent the build up of carbon monoxide.

 

Know the signs of frostbite—a tingling sensation or skin that looks pale and waxy are the first signs of frostbite. Your hands, face and feet are at the greatest risk, because your body diverts blood away from your extremities first when it starts getting cold.

 

Know the signs of hypothermia—severe shivering is an early sign of hypothermia. A severely shivering worker should be removed immediately from exposure to the cold.

 

Watch out for hazards—snow can hide tripping hazards like extension cords or even icy surfaces. Wear proper footwear and mark or remove hazards.

 

Ask your co-workers—you’ve probably already done this, but the people you work with have learned what works and what doesn’t. Check out what they wear and ask them what they recommend.

 

For more information and tips on working in the cold, visit www.employment.alberta.ca/whs and check out the publication Best Practice—Working Safely in the Heat and Cold.

 

Do you have a work-related question? Send your questions to Working Wise, at charles.strachey@gov.ab.ca. Charles Strachey is a manager with Alberta Human Services. This column is provided for general information.

 

 


I have a job in a warehouse right now, but I need a better-paying job so I can support my growing family. Do you have any suggestions for careers that I can move in to quickly and start making a better wage?

Dear Working Wise:

I have a job in a warehouse right now, but I need a better-paying job so I can support my growing family. Do you have any suggestions for careers that I can move in to quickly and start making a better wage? Signed, Struggling

 

Dear Struggling:

 

The best advice I can give you is to visit your local Alberta Works Centre and talk to a Career and Employment Consultant.

 

Your consultant can look at your needs and interests and provide advice and ideas you may never have considered.

 

You can find the office nearest you by visiting http://employment.alberta.ca/offices.

 

Other helpful career planning and job search resources include the ALIS web site http://alis.alberta.ca and the toll-free Career Information Hotline 1-800-661-3753, which is staffed by career consultants.

 

The trades may be a good option, because tradespeople earn a wage while they learn the trade.

 

Another option is truck driving. Your current job at the warehouse likely gives you an opportunity to interact with truck drivers. Use this opportunity to ask them questions about the job to see if you are interested.

 

Trucking is loaded with opportunities. A search for truck driver on the Canada-Alberta Job Bank www.jobbank.gc.ca yields around 400 job postings for nearly 2,000 job opportunities in Alberta.

 

And demand is expected to accelerate as Alberta’s energy industry expands and older drivers retire.

 

Trucking is a far bigger industry, filled with more variety and career paths, than many people assume.

 

Trucks transport nearly everything we touch from wood, fuel and chemicals to food, equipment and garbage.

 

Logging trucks, delivery trucks, boom trucks, long-haul tractor trailers, hydrovac trucks, tow trucks, tank trucks, refuse trucks and gravel trucks all need operators.

 

And trucking pays better than it used to with wages ranging between $15 and $40 per hour depending on the truck, required license, and if it is short-haul or long-haul driving.

 

Employers prefer to hire drivers who are over 21 years old, have no criminal record, have less than six demerits, and can be insured at a reasonable cost. Drivers who haul to the U.S. must be at least 21 and able to pass U.S. drug testing requirements.

 

Training requirements vary by the type of truck and some employers require additional tickets such as first aid, WHMIS, etc. For more information on the Truck Driver occupation, visit the OccInfo database of occupations at http://alis.alberta.ca/occinfo.

 

Another great resource is the Canadian Trucking Human Resources Council’s www.truckingcareeers.ca web site. The site features video profiles of occupations, explains the various career paths, and provides advice on how to get into the transportation industry.

 

Good luck!

 

Do you have a work-related question? Send your questions to Working Wise, at charles.strachey@gov.ab.ca. Charles Strachey is a regional manager with Alberta Human Services. This column is provided for general information.

 

I manage a transportation company and I’ve noticed that it’s getting harder to find drivers and heavy duty mechanics again. I hear a lot of world-wide financial doom and gloom stories, but Alberta’s economy seems to be doing well. What does the future hol

 

Dear Working Wise:

I manage a transportation company and I’ve noticed that it’s getting harder to find drivers and heavy duty mechanics again. I hear a lot of world-wide financial doom and gloom stories, but Alberta’s economy seems to be doing well. What does the future hold? Is it going to get easier to find staff or harder? Signed, Concerned

 

Dear Concerned:

 

You are right, Alberta is insulated, somewhat, from the ongoing financial worries plaguing the rest of the world today thanks in part to our energy sector.

 

I use the term somewhat, because as we learned in 2009 when oil plummeted from $140 to just $40 per barrel, we are not completely immune.

 

It’s difficult to say for sure what the future holds, but the Government of Alberta released a report last week that you might find helpful.

 

The Occupational Demand and Supply Outlook 2011-2021 forecasts the addition of 606,000 new jobs in Alberta and labour force growth of 492,000 workers—leaving a shortage of around 114,000 workers within the decade.

 

And these new job opportunities will not be limited to entry level, lower-paying, or part-time positions either. Sectors such as finance, health care, trades, sciences, public sector jobs and many others will all require more people in the future.

 

Shortages and surpluses of workers vary by occupation, but the average gap between the demand for workers and the supply is around four per cent.

 

The outlook forecasts a demand for 15,000 Heavy Duty Mechanics in Alberta by 2021 and a shortage of around 775, leaving a gap of around five per cent—just above average.

 

The 10-year outlook is similar for Truck Drivers with demand for 51,098 drivers and a shortage of 2,635 drivers.

 

The Alberta Government produces the 10-year outlook to focus training dollars in strategic areas to minimize labour and skills shortages. 

 

Employers and managers may find The Occupational Demand and Supply Outlook 2011-2021  helpful in planning their staff attraction and retention strategies.

 

Students and young Albertans may also find the outlook helpful while they are researching potential careers.

 

The Occupational Demand and Supply Outlook 2011-2021 is available at http://employment.alberta.ca.

 

Information on careers and career planning is available on the Alberta Learning Information Service (ALIS) web site at http://alis.alberta.ca.

 

Any employers looking for help attracting and retaining staff, can:

·         Visit http://employment.alberta.ca/etoolkit or

·         Call your nearest Alberta Works Centre and ask to a Business & Industry Liaison Specialist. You can find the office nearest you at http://employment.alberta.ca/offices.

 

Do you have a work-related question? Send your questions to Working Wise, at charles.strachey@gov.ab.ca. Charles Strachey is a regional manager with Alberta Human Services. This column is provided for general information.

 

 


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