Canadian Occupational Safety

October/November 2019

Canadian Occupational Safety (COS) magazine is the premier workplace health and safety publication in Canada. We cover a wide range of topics ranging from office to heavy industry, and from general safety management to specific workplace hazards.

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Page 5 of 35

6 Canadian Occupational Safety WORKPLACE NEWS Impact of workplace injury must be reduced: WCB Nova Scotia T he amount of time lost to workplace injuries continues to be a challenge in Nova Scotia, according to a recent report released by the provincial workers' compensation board. "When we take a long-term view, we have made progress over the last decade to reduce the impact of workplace injury on Nova Scotia families, but we continue to face short-term challenges," says WCB Nova Scotia CEO Stuart MacLean. "It's taking longer to achieve return-to-work when workers are hurt on the job. One reason for that is that the face of workplace injury is changing. Claims today are often more complex. The population is older, and the injury itself is often not straight- forward and much more likely to be a mix of physical injury and mental health considerations." During the beginning of this year, both the number of days lost to workplace injury and the average duration of a claim increased, says the WCB. There was also a slight increase in the number of time-loss injuries, due in large part to more slips, trips and falls during an icy winter. Additionally, the WCB also saw an increase in claims for psychological injuries, due to new presumptive legislation for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in front-line and emergency response workers. The time-loss injury rate increased to 1.77 after hitting its lowest point ever of 1.72 at the end of 2018. Between January and March, there were eight work-related fatalities in the province. Two of those workplace deaths were caused by traumatic injuries and six were from occupational disease or from existing health conditions. Majority of miners fatigued: Survey A new study has found that many of the miners at Vale are struggling with fatigue. Out of the 2,224 Vale workers surveyed, 79.3 per cent had elevated levels of fatigue, defined as feeling overwhelmingly exhausted, both physically and mentally, which is not relieved even with rest. On average, the workers were receiving 6.2 hours of sleep per night, with 30.1 per cent saying the quality of their sleep was "fairly bad." However, more than one-half (52 per cent) said their sleep is "fairly good." The five-year study was conducted by the Centre for Research in Occupational Safety and Health at Laurentian University in Sudbury, Ont. Vale workers from Sudbury and Port Colbourne, Ont. participated in the study. "We learned we are quite a tired workforce and so that's an area we will be looking into now that we have that data," says Angie Robson, manager of corporate affairs and sustainability at Vale. The survey is the first of its kind in the world and is the largest on mining workers, says Michel Larivière, a clinical psychologist and professor at Laurentian who led the study. More than 900 variables and mil- lions of data points relating to the miners' mental health were captured. "The research now allows us not only to understand the current state of their well-being but also to run analyses that help predict specific phenomenon and outcomes for things like injury and illness and absen- teeism and presenteeism," he says. More than one-quarter (28.2 per cent) of Vale workers screened positively for burnout, which was characterized by overwhelming exhaustion; feelings of cynicism and detachment from the job; and a sense of ineffectiveness and lack of accomplishment. When it comes to mental health, depression is a top concern for Vale employees. Twenty per cent of employees have mild depression symptoms, 10 per cent have moderate depression and 7.6 per cent have borderline critical symptoms. Notably, 10.6 per cent of workers said that they had thoughts of suicide but would not carry them out. Further, researchers found that 10.5 per cent of respondents should be screened for post-traumatic stress disorder. Larivière says it was clear during his research that the mining workers have mental health on the brain. "Personally, I was surprised to learn that mining 6 in 10 nurses experience violence at work A House of Commons standing com- mittee has tabled a report that makes nine recommendations for improving workplace violence in the health-care sector, calling it a "per- vasive problem" across Canada. According to the Canadian Federation of Nurses Union (CFNU), 61 per cent of nurses report experiencing abuse, harassment and assault on the job. Additionally, the number of violence-related lost-time injuries among front-line health-care workers increased 66 per cent between 2006 and 2015 — three times the rate of increase among police and correctional service officers combined. "[Health-care workers] deal every day with trauma and the public, and the number and intensity of attacks are growing at an alarming rate. This report sends a strong message that those who provide such critical services must be treated with respect and security," says Don Davies, NDP MP for Vancou- ver Kingsway. Among the recommendations is an amendment to the Criminal Code to require a court to consider an assault on a health-care sector worker to be an aggravating circumstance for the purposes of sentencing. The committee also recom- mended the following: collecting national standardized statistics on violence in health care; launching a public aware- ness campaign; addressing staffing shortages; and upgrading long-term care facilities. It also recommends implementing best practices to pre- vent workplace violence, including de-escalation training, violence risk assessments, patient flagging, personal safety response systems, security personnel and protocols to respond to violence. The report considered the various areas within the health- care sector and it found workers in psychiatric settings and long-term care facilities were at greater risk of violence due to the high needs of their patients. It also identified home care and community care workers as being particularly at risk due to working alone. However, emergency departments were at the top of the list with one-half of all attacks on health-care workers occur- ring there. "During my time in the emergency department, I was assaulted on several occasions and many of my colleagues regularly faced much worse," says Doug Eyolfson, Liberal MP for Charleswood—St. James—Assiniboia—Headingley (Manitoba). "Sadly, this was often considered part of the job. It's time for this to change." PFDs now mandatory on B.C. fishing vessels W orkSafeBC has amended its health and safety regulations and is now making it mandatory for all crew members to wear personal flotation devices (PFDs) on fishing vessels. Previously, crew members were only required to wear a PFD on a fishing vessel when working under conditions that involved a risk of drowning. Now, all crew members on the deck of a fishing vessel must wear a PFD or a lifejacket. "Commercial fishing is one of the most dangerous occupations in British Columbia and drown- ing is the leading cause of death among B.C. fishermen," says Patrick Olsen, manager, prevention field services for WorkSafeBC. "Wearing a PFD reduces the risk of drowning and has been proven to save lives." Between 2007 and 2018, there were 24 work-related deaths in the commercial fishing industry, with 15 of those related to drowning. The amendments to part 24 of the Occupational Health and Safety Regulation, which regulates diving, fishing and other marine operations, took effect on June 3. "No matter what your role is on the vessel, crew safety affects everyone," Olsen says. "We are addressing the specific hazards of commercial fishing to better ensure crew member safety." The changes are in light of the Transportation Safety Board's recommendations after three fish- ers were killed when the Caledonian capsized in September 2015. The only crew member who survived was wearing a PFD.

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