Canadian Occupational Safety

May/June 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 5 of 35

6 U P F R O N T W O R K P L A C E N E W S N.S. union: Better implementation of Westray Bill needed The Nova Scotia Federation of Labour wants the government to implement the provisions of the Criminal Code against more violating employers. The union issued a statement to this effect after the supervisor for Insulated Panel Structures of Waterdown, Ont. was charged with criminal negligence for the death of 22-year-old Brandon Alcorn. Danny Cavanagh, president of the federation, would like to see the federal government do more to ensure the implementation of the Criminal Code provision known as the Westray Bill. Under the law, employers can be convicted of criminal negligence when a worker is killed on the job. Trucking HR Canada releases mental health guide Trucking HR Canada has released a mental health guide to help trucking and logistics employers in addressing employee mental health issues in their workplaces. The guide — called "Gearing up for Workplace Mental Health" — details best practices and the resources that can help fleet employers in providing mental health resources to their workers, whether on the road, in the office or in the yard. The guide discusses what mental health is, what contributes to a mental health disorder and employee well-being, as well as how employers can develop an action plan to support and make it a priority in their fleet. "Substance use is not a moral issue, it's a heath issue. So, just like any other health issue, an employer would respond holistically for their employee." Arianna Wingfield Project co-ordinator for overdose response at Delta Community Action Team MORE than half (55 per cent) of employed individuals who died from an illicit drug overdose between 2016 and 2017 worked in the trades and transport industry, according to a report by the British Columbia Coroners Service. "Overdoses are happening every day and the statistics are showing that trades [and] transport industries have been disproportionately affected," says Arianna Wingfield, project co-ordinator for overdose response at Delta Community Action Team in B.C. "A significant number are happening in private residences… It's an everyday person problem." While there is no research to confirm exactly why the trades are being hit so hard, there is plenty of anecdotal evidence that supports this finding. The work environment can be strenuous with very long shifts, so stimulants are sometimes being used to help workers stay awake. Other individuals may have been taking opioids for pain management but were cut off by their doctors and then turned to illicit drugs. "That worked for many years for many people, but [now] we have a toxic drug supply, so you never know what you're taking and someone can say, 'This is an OxyContin,' it can even be labelled as such, but if you didn't get it from your doctor, your pharmacy, it could be a fake oxy," Wingfield says. Employers and health and safety professionals should be concerned about the overdose crisis because it affects the business and their workforce. "Substance use is not a moral issue, it's a heath issue," says Wingfield. "So, just like any other health issue, an employer would respond holistically for their employee — or should respond that way." Employers have a duty to accommodate employees with substance dependency and give them the space and resources to get help. Health and safety professionals should also ensure their staff know how to respond to an overdose and are trained in using a naloxone kit. In B.C., various health authorities offer free programs that train staff in overdose preparedness as well as send representatives to individual work sites to help employers develop an overdose response plan. It's also important for employers to offer a stigma-free work environment where workers feel comfortable sharing if they are struggling with substance abuse. Employers should offer resources, tools and access to services that can support their workers. If employers educated their workers about the toxic drug supply, that would go a long way, too. B.C. TRADES, TRANSPORT WORKERS DYING FROM DRUG OVERDOSES B.C. calls for a stigma-free work environment, employer support to help those who are struggling

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