Canadian Occupational Safety

January/February 2020

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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6 Canadian Occupational Safety Manitoba gets C- on union's safety report card T he Manitoba Fed- eration of Labour (MFL) has given the provincial Conser- vative government an overall grade of C- on its occupa- tional health and safety efforts. The ratio- nale behind the grade is outlined in the union's Health and Safety Report Card. The last time the MFL issued such a report was in 2012 and the NDP government at the time received an overall grade of B-. "This government has either done nothing with health and safety or the moves they have made have weakened our health and safety protections for workers," says Kevin Rebeck, president of the MFL. The report cites examples such as dropping the standard for hearing protection, eliminating the chief pre- vention officer position and getting rid of a volunteer health and safety advi- sory committee that provided advice to the government on safety-related issues. The report looks at a few spe- cific OHS-related areas and, when it comes to workplace health and safety laws, the government received a C-. This grade was largely due to dropping the minimum working age to 13, introducing Bill 12, which gives "heavy-handed powers" to government to dismiss workers' health and safety appeals without proper due process, and something referred to as a "two-for-one rule." "It's really offensive. For any new protections you want to add into law, you have to eliminate two. It's a math- ematics exercise now," says Rebeck. "They try and paint regulations as red tape, but you and I know regs are syn- onymous with protections, so their rule is… if you're going to ask us to do something new, tell us which two you're going to eliminate." The report's analysis of enforce- ment efforts received the worst grade of them all — a D. This grade was due to the government slashing the budget for enforcement by $800,000 as well as cutting down significantly on inspections, the MFL says. The number of workplace inspections car- ried out over the last three years has averaged 5,000, which is down 50 per cent over the three years prior, accord- ing to the report. The Manitoba government did not respond to multiple requests from COS to be interviewed for this article. When it comes to prevention, the report gave the government a pretty favourable grade of B. It pointed to the "ground-breaking" five-year prevention strategy that was set in 2013 by the previous NDP govern- ment, which introduced the Workers' WORKPLACE NEWS Ontario police officer burnout on the rise: PAO P olice officers across Ontario are burning out, and the Police Associ- ation of Ontario (PAO) is calling on municipalities to take action. Personnel are increasingly being asked to work more overtime hours or come in on their days off. Additionally, the population continues to rise in communities across the province but police staffing levels are not increasing at the same rate, says the PAO. "The health and wellness of our members affects so much — com- munity safety, officer safety, delivery of the services we perform," says Bruce Chapman, president of the PAO, which has 18,000 members. "No one wants to see officer burnout because it leads to so many other issues." The PAO is encouraging municipalities across the province to focus on employee wellness. Some police services have created a quiet room for rest and are ensuring officers take their lunch breaks and have suf- ficient time to decompress between calls. "It's so they are able to comprehend what they just went through and ensure that they are healthy in their mind so they are able to go to the next job," says Chapman. "Employers are starting to rec- ognize that… They are taking steps to ensure their employees are looked after." In some collective agreements, police unions have taken less money to ensure the wellness of their members, such as getting more benefits coverage for psychological care. In addressing burnout, scheduling is one of the most important aspects. It's crucial that the officers have eight hours of time off between shifts, so that they can be fully aware and awake, Chapman says. "Gone are the days of working a midnight shift then going to court all day because the judicial system requires you to do it and then going back on working another midnight," he explains. If police officer burnout is not addressed, it can lead to a host of other problems, both physical and emotional, says Chapman, citing relationship discord, depression, anxiety and substance abuse as examples. "The effects of burnout can lead to a vast variety of other prob- lems going forward if it's not recognized and not dealt with from the ground up." The PAO is so concerned about officer burnout that it has made the topic one of its strategic priorities for the upcoming year. Fortunately, more focus has been put on the health and wellness of officers since the presumptive legislation for post-traumatic stress disorder for first responders came into effect in 2016. Also, the "suck it up mentality" is gone among police forces, Chapman says. "With the millennials, we had the change in guard with the young people who recognize the importance of a work-life balance and ensur- ing that we have that." Safety professionals must get ahead of sustainability curve: Panel W hen the word "sustainability" is heard, green initiatives most often come to mind; however, it is so much more. Sustainability looks at all the ways organizations can achieve long-term suc- cess, and a big part of this is ensuring safe and healthy working conditions, accord- ing to panellists at the Canadian Society for Safety Engineering (CSSE) conference in Winnipeg in September. "If you're not looking after your people and you're not making sure they go home safe… you're not investing in your people and then you're at risk," says Trevor John- son, president of CSSE. "You can't have human capital without OHS, and you can't have sustainability with- out human capital." Today, individuals at the highest levels of a business are talking about sustain- ability. Safety professionals are well positioned to speak with the C-suite and board of directors about how they need to focus on health and safety in order to ensure their organization is sustainable, Johnson says. "OHS is turning around and looking down to the C-suite and saying, 'What are you doing about this? How are you protect- ing our investment and how are you creating value and looking after your people?'" Peter Sturm, president of Sturm Con- sulting in Toronto, warned delegates that if health and safety professionals do not get ahead of the curve, someone else in the corporation will. Boards of directors are going to start asking, "What is the safety performance of this company that I am rep- resenting?" and safety professionals should not just be the ones gathering the data but presenting it as well, he says. If not, Sturm explains that the information will work its way up the chain, often through human resources and then their corporate vice- president, and key information will get lost in translation. "We need to have some control on those metrics and those numbers. [And, some- times,] what they are asking for is not necessarily what they need," he says. "If we don't relate it into the business to show where it is sitting on the financials in that organization, I am telling you they are not going to be interested." It's important for safety professionals to remember to convert their data into information that the C-suite and board of directors will be able to digest, says Diana Stegall, president of the American Society of Safety Professionals. "If we don't do that, it's just a number, it's a chart. But what does that really mean in the context?" she says. "So, being able to be the one to present the information and provide the full picture of what this means; it's not just X." It may be a challenge for safety professionals to see themselves as part of the busi- ness structure, rather than just the health and safety department, says Mark Balsom, corporate HSE manager at CAHILL Group in St. John's, N.L. "That's a big learning curve," he says. "But we do have an impact on the bottom line. Just providing PPE [personal protec- tive equipment] is not enough… Is it being maintained? Are we being cost effective with it? Now we're talking language that the CEOs want to hear because now we are impacting the bottom line in a positive way." Globally, sustainability is becoming more and more of a priority and all types of risk are being considered, from reputa- tional and financial to occupational health and safety. "Now, investors are saying, 'Where there is risk, we want to know what you are doing to minimize, mitigate or eliminate that, that I have a safe investment for myself, for my company, for our people and for the future," Johnson says.

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