January 2020                                                       français  |  ᐃᓄᒃᑎᑐᑦ

Don't delay: your Annual Payroll Report (APR) must be complete by February 28, 2020 to avoid penalty. You must submit an APR even if you are reporting zero (0) payroll. The penalty for late submission is 15% of your previous year's employer payroll assessment.

Remember, the Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) section, which was introduced in 2018, is a requirement for completing your submission. Below are some tips to help you with the process.
  • Research your OHS answers before you begin: WSCC Connect users should consult with the person who manages OHS in their company (or the company they are filing for) to provide Yes/No answers to the OHS questions.
  • Use our step-by-step guide: the complete set of questions with explanations of what to look for is in Section 4 of the Guide to Completing Annual Payroll Reporting.
  • Let us help: our OHS team can guide you through the questions if you are still unsure. Call us at 1-800-661-0792 and ask to speak with our OHS team in Prevention Services.
If you need technical support with WSCC Connect, see the WSCC Connect Help page or contact the Help Desk toll-free at 1-844-238-5008.
We want to hear from you!

The Workers' Compensation and Safety Commission (WSCC) invites all employers in the Northwest Territories and Nunavut to help guide the development of a Safety Incentive Program. 

The Safety Incentive Program will seek to motivate, engage, and support employers to advance their safety culture and reduce the frequency and severity of workplace injury and disease.
If you are interested in participating and providing feedback, please get in touch by phone or email before February 21, 2020 to register your interest.

 Terri-Lynn Chiasson | 867- 920-3871| E. Terri-lynn.Chiasson@wscc.nt.ca
THermal Conditions
working in extreme cold Climates

Every year the Northwest Territories and Nunavut experience some of the coldest temperatures seen in Canada. Understanding how to work safely in extreme cold is essential. Whether your employees are new to the North, or have been here all their life, it is important to review your company's policy and procedure on working in cold conditions every winter.

Employers' Responsibility

In an indoor work site, employers are required under the Occupational Health and Safety Regulations ( NT and NU) to provide and maintain space that is appropriate for the work performed, is a reasonable temperature for the comfort of employees, and has a thermostat for measuring temperatures. If work is being performed outdoors, the employer must provide effective protection of the health and safety of workers. If the work is being performed outside of the normal duties of the worker, employers must provide and require the worker to use suitable clothing and personal protective equipment (PPE) to protect the health and safety of workers (Thermal Conditions - Part 6, Section 74; PPE Part 7, Section 90).

Hazards in extreme conditions

When working in cold conditions, have your workers take the time to make sure they manage for the environment they are working in. Workers must put on enough warm clothing, have the appropriate PPE to protect themselves from the cold, and take the time to warm themselves between shifts outside. 

  • Buildup of snow and ice create slick surfaces and cause slips and falls.
  • Blizzard conditions can produce high winds and restrict visibility.
  • Working on ice and frozen bodies of water requires ice testing to know the ice bearing capacity.
  • Power tools and equipment need special care to be operational in a cold environment.
  • Workers in remote areas need to take extra precautions and orient themselves in cold weather operations and emergency survival.
  • Winter clothing can restrict movement and hoods or hat and face protection can obscure sight lines.
  • Glasses and eye protection can fog up and obscure vision.
  • Cold affects dexterity in your hands and feet, which may affect: task performance, coordination, the skin's ability to sense temperatures and pain, and even ability to use your hands.
  • Frostnip: The mildest form of a freezing cold injury. It often impacts the ear lobes, noses, cheeks, fingers or toes when exposed to cold. The affected skin will turn white and may feel numb.
  • Frostbite: Similar to frostnip, frostbite most often impacts the ear lobes, noses, cheeks, fingers or toes when exposed to cold. It occurs when the fluids around the body's tissue freezes below 0°C. This may cause permanent damage, and blood may stop circulating to the affected area, which may lead to infection or gangrene. It is important to know that initial pain subsides as the condition gets worse.
  • Snow Blindness: This is a temporary loss of vision caused by exposure to bright sunlight reflected from snow and ice. The symptoms are a sensation of grit in the eyes, pain in the eyes as you move your eye, inflammation, red and teary eyes, a headache that intensifies with exposure to light. Most causes of snow blindness will last no more than one day if the person rests indoors away from bright light, but prolonged exposure may lead to permanent vision loss.
  • Hypothermia: Hypothermia sets in when your body is unable to compensate for heat loss, and the core temperature starts to fall. Muscular weakness, inability to think clearly, drowsiness, and, at this point, symptoms of pain and shivering will start to disappear. The result will be diminished consciousness and dilated pupils, which makes it especially dangerous, as an individual may not understand what is happening, and at 27°C a coma will set in.
Preventative measures and controls
  1. Allow a period of adjustment for acclimatization if employees move from working in warm conditions to cold ones. Everybody requires an acclimatization period, and this time varies person to person but on average it takes approximately 1 week.
  2. Minimize time outdoors in extreme conditions, do as many tasks indoors as possible. Use a work warm-up schedule for employees required to work outside. Ensure they take the time to warm up in a warm shelter or vehicle.
  3. Educate and train your employees on safe work practices in cold climates. Make sure they know the hazards, risks, and controls for staying safe in extreme conditions.
  4. Ensure employees all have appropriate gear to work in cold, and check that it is rated for the conditions. Suggest that every worker layer their clothing instead of wearing one large coat. Layers provide a vapour barrier from the cold.
  5. Try to avoid working alone in cold conditions where possible.
  6. If employees must work outdoors, particularly if it is in a remote area, ask your employee to establish a clear plan for where the employee will be and timeline for their return to the office, as well as a communication plan with their supervisor to ensure their employee arrived safely.
  7. It is important to know that the body's ability to cope with cold working conditions is affected by alcohol, some prescription medication, and caffeine. Encourage employees to consider replacing caffeinated beverages with high calorie warm liquids like hot chocolate or non-caffeinated tea and coffee, and ensure that they never arrive to work impaired.
  8. Encourage your employees to know the side effects of any medication they may be on, or if any health conditions may impact their own ability to manage the cold (For example, Diabetes, high blood pressure, or heart disease can impact a body's ability to acclimatize to working in cold climates).
Living and working in cold conditions is a part of our everyday lives in the North. It is essential that you and your workers review and understand this safety information. Visit our webpage to see our Cold Stress Toolbox Safety Talk, and Thermal Conditions Code of Practice, both have important information for working in cold conditions. Contact the WSCC if you have any questions, or if you would like to receive a Toolbox Talk directly from of WSCC's Safety Inspectors.
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

Seasonal depression, otherwise known as Seasonal Affective Disorder is a well-known phenomenon in the North. While the exact causes are not known, it is commonly believed that less sunlight and activity during the fall and winter lead to feelings of depression, fatigue, and weight gain. Having a happy and healthy workplace is important for the health of your workers, but it is also just good business.

An Employers Duty Surrounding Mental Health in the Workplace

Under the Occupational Health and Safety Regulations (OHS Regulations) of the Northwest Territories and Nunavut, an employer must:
  • Provide an environment that ensures the health and safety of their workers. (Part 3, Section 12).
  • Ensure that supervisors understand the OHS programming available to workers, and are addressing matters necessary for the health and safety of workers (Part 3, Section 16).
  • Ensure that workers are trained in matters that will protect their health and safety (Part 3, Section 18). 
5 ways to encourage mental health in your workplace

While mental health can be a sensitive subject, one where individuals may or may not choose to come forward, there are many avenues that you can take as an employer to help cultivate a workplace where it feels safe for employees to address matters of mental health:
  1. Have one of your morning Toolbox Safety Talks address the issue of mental health. The Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS) has excellent free resources on mental health in the workplace, and how to address mental health. Express to employees that while they may not feel comfortable reporting it in the workplace, there are avenues to seek support. Ensure you have visible and accessible information about support through your company's benefit program, or public health.
  2. Host a morning Toolbox Safety Talk on workplace bullying and harassment. Ensure that your workers clearly understand what bullying and harassment look like, and that you support a harassment free work environment.
  3. Have posters informing employees about mental health around the office, encourage employees to take their allotted breaks during the day for their mental and physical health, support initiatives like Pink Shirt Day, and support other mental health initiatives in your community that demonstrate your organization's understanding and compassion for people managing mental health issues.
  4. Check in with your employees regularly to ensure their workload is reasonable and they aren't feeling over stressed.
  5. Provide Mental Health First Aid training to your supervisors and staff, and understand the signs and symptoms of someone who may be suffering.
Mental Health is an issue at all times of the year, but in the dead of winter in the North, it becomes even more important to foster open discussion and support.
Resource Feature: culinary Toolbox Talks
Share them. Review them. repeat.

The WSCC has released Toolbox Safety Talks aimed at young workers as part of our Ask. You're Worth !t campaign. These resources are industry specific, but contain information that applies to many situations. There are instructor and student versions for each topic.
  • Instructor guides contain a topic-specific guide for safety training in the workplace, as well as conversation prompts to lead a discussion.
  • Student versions provide brief descriptions of the danger, relevant images and diagrams, and a list of hazards associated with the topic.
Culinary Toolbox Safety Talks

Working in a commercial kitchen is fast paced, high stress, and physically demanding. Frequently, it is the first job for many young workers! The work and the environment make safety an essential conversation. While the health of your clientele is a common discussion, it is equally important that your workers' health and safety is openly discussed every day.

The WSCC Culinary Toolbox Safety Talks have several safety topics common in any kitchen: From working with hot surfaces to the importance of good housekeeping, you need to train your workers before they start working around hazards. These toolbox talks are a great way start of any work shift.

Available Culinary Toolbox Safety Talks:
Who should Use these safety Toolbox Talks?
  • Instructors - If you teach or mentor in the culinary arts, these sheets are perfect for you! Hand out the toolbox talk to the students or apprentices as you walk them through a kitchen safety orientation.
  • Employers - These sheets can supplement your workplace-specific orientation and training. Give the student version to your young and new worker, and use the instructor guide to walk your young worker(s) through hazard identification and hazard control. Use the Young and New Worker Safety Orientation Checklist to keep track of all the safety orientation topics that apply to the work you do. File the checklist in the employees' permanent file as a record of safety training you've discussed on specific subjects.
  • Students and Young Workers - Young workers must understand the hazards in their workplace. With these Toolbox Safety Talks, supervisors and instructors can teach young workers how to start a conversation about safety. The student guides can act as a stand-alone piece, which will support their site specific safety education. Inform your young workers where they can find these safety sheets, and any other safety information that is relevant to your workplace.
Visit our site today to see our full list of available Ask. You're Worth !t Toolbox Talks.
wscc.nt.ca   /  1.800.661.0792   *   wscc.nu.ca  /  1.877.404.4407