Canadian Occupational Safety

March/April 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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Page 24 of 35 25 equipment. It is reviewing the ergonomic design of ambulances to help reduce MSDs arising from high forces, awkward postures and repetitive movements during the transferring of patients on and off backboards, stretchers and stair chairs. According to CISWP, EMS personnel are 13 times more likely to suffer from low back pain compared to other industries. "EMS personnel use ambulances and equipment provided by their employers and they often rely on manufacturers and procurement personnel to consider their interactions with their work system. So, when designing this equipment and purchasing this equipment, you need to have some understanding of core principles of ergonomics, Yazdani says. "But when you talk to manufacturers and procurement people, you realize that often these principles are not being considered or not be utilized effectively." The standard is expected to be available this spring through the CSA Group. Musculoskeletal disorders Many public health agencies in Canada are focusing on reducing MSDs because they are the leading cause of disability across industries. Although there has been an increase in understanding the consequences of MSDs, there has been little progress on solving the problem, Yazdani notes. "Interventions are often implemented as part of a standalone ergonomic program… That isolated approach will eventually be vulnerable to financial downturn," he says, explaining that standalone programs are the first to go during budget cuts. He stresses the fact that integrating injury prevention activities into the broader management framework is crucial. "You're not creating a sidecar function, but incorporating that into day-to-day business strategies," he says. "It will also increase awareness and improve communication with respect to injury prevention within a continuous improvement approach." To address MSDs, Yazdani co-led the MSD Prevention Guideline for Ontario released in October. It provides information on how to prevent MSDs in the workplace and offers many resources tailored to different audiences, such as ergonomists, health and safety professionals and small business owners. The guideline has been extremely well received and Yazdani was invited to Belgium to talk about the initiative at the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work. INSTITUTE OVERVIEW Vision: Position Canada as a global leader in empowering businesses to adapt and thrive in the ever-changing competitive economy. Mission: To improve the safety, wellness and performance of the Canadian labour force by generating knowledge, transferring research to practice, and strengthening workforce development — all in collaboration with stakeholders. Values: Innovation: to conduct cutting-edge transdisciplinary research to address knowledge gaps and develop evidence-informed products, tools and services to advance stakeholders' capacity. Collaboration: to engage and work with employers, not-for- profits, labour/unions, academics, service providers, policy makers and practitioners to develop, promote and implement effective and sustainable solutions. Equality and inclusiveness: empowering and enabling communities to support the labour force in striving for meaningful and fulfilling employment. The guideline introduces terms, concepts, minimum requirements and ergonomic principles that can be useful for organizations. Additionally, Yazdani sees the potential for the guideline to provide new opportunities for equipment designers. "This could potentially foster innovation of new products and technologies and increase the competitive advantage of Canadian manufacturers in the global economy," he says. Wellness The name of the institute specifically includes the term "wellness" and that's because Yazdani believes in an integrative approach to health and safety. He notes that workplace injuries have a broader impact on the well-being of society — they are not just felt at the individual or organizational level. "It's important that employers really pay attention to this," he says. "By improving the health and safety of workers at work and by increasing their awareness of hazards, we can really hope knowledge is applied by workers in their day-to-day life as well, resulting in improving the well-being of society as a whole." Wellness should be embedded into everything a person does at work, especially since many people see work as a determinant of health, he adds. Being the director of CISWP is a great fit for Yazdani who completed his undergrad, masters and PhD all in work and health. It was when he was working as a health and safety manager at a car manufacturing company that he realized management's expectations for productivity were often overturned by injuries, and he saw an opportunity to get involved in tackling this problem. "There's a lot to be discovered in terms of best practices in the area of work and health and that knowledge is not really being translated effectively… so engineers can use it, practitioners in the field can use it and management can use it," he says. To this day, Yazdani's work has always been focused on finding innovative strategies to improve the health and safety of the workforce. "I realize that much needs to be done in terms of developing these policies and practices and making sure workers are protected and businesses can perform and stay competitive in the global economy," he says. "I want to make sure it's a win-win situation for both parties — workers and businesses will be working in a healthy, sustainable and productive way. That has always been my passion and continues to be." Amin Yazdani, director, Canadian Institute for Safety, Wellness and Performance

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