The Importance of Leadership and Safety Culture
In April, the Department of Labour and Advanced Education announced changes to the OHS Regulations to strengthen employer accountability for safe workplaces. This reminds us, that although organizations develop various policies and procedures in response to legislative requirements, they also evolve from a genuine effort on the part of many organizations to provide a safe and healthy work environment.
It takes leadership to identify and adopt safety as a core value within an organization. It is well documented that an estimated 80% of workplace accidents are the result of unsafe acts, not unsafe conditions. While intentions are good, the paper policies must be integrated in everything we do, to foster a truly effective safety culture within the organization.
By focusing on people and safe behaviours, an organization will be able to generate an immediate and tangible reduction in accident frequency and severity. Learning about and adopting the S.A.F.E.R. Leadership model helps to shift to a more proactive attitude toward safety.
What do transformation safety leaders do?
peak - Talk the talk
ct- Walk the talk
ocus- unrelenting concern for safety
ngage- get others involved
ecognize - when we are doing the right thing
An organization that successfully develops a safety culture can expect to realize immediate and tangible results in reducing workplace accidents and their associated costs, including decreased productivity, employee morale, and increased hiring and training costs. As with all safety programs, a visible commitment by senior management to the program is key to its' success. Moreover, this commitment must be communicated throughout every level of the organization.
AWARE-NS has launched a new 3 day, 'Safety for Managers and Supervisors Program'. This is
an opportunity to enhance the safety leadership within your management team. Register for a session!
Yours in safety
Susan Dempsey, Exe
cutive Director, AWARE-NS
S.A.F.E.R. Leadership Model Training
We are currently only offering Day 1 training for Supervisors and Managers in the following communities:
June 1 - Grand View Manor, Berwick 1pm-4pm
June 16 - St. Martha's Hospital, Antigonish 1pm-4pm
June 21 - Yarmouth Legion, Yarmouth 1pm-4pm
June 22 - Liverpool Legion, Liverpool 1pm-4pm
Occupational Health and Safety Act
Labour and Advanced Education
April 26, 2016
Changes to the Occupational
Health and Safety Act announced on April 26, 2016 will help keep Nova Scotians safe at work by giving government additional tools and authority to enforce safety regulations and laws.
The changes will apply to employers who repeatedly break safety laws and put workers at risk of serious injury or death.
The changes mean government could stop an employer from working in a specific industry, allow safety violations to be issued at more than one workplace, and order an employer to advise the department of future work locations.
The proposed amendments will:
These amendments are part of government's overall efforts to improve workplace safety in Nova Scotia.
- define serious injury as an injury that endangers life or causes permanent injury, and repeatedly as occurring more than once in the previous three years
- allow the court to grant an injunction to stop an employer with repeat violations which put workers at risk of serious injury or death from working in an industry
- require an employer with repeat violations which put workers at risk of serious injury or death to advise the department of future work locations
- allow stop-work orders to be issued at more than one site operated by the same employer where the same serious risks are believed to be present
- provide a list of reportable injuries and allow email or phone reporting
Taken from http://novascotia.ca/lae/
Mental Notes - Submitted by Katie Bowman, OHS Student
Mental illness is the leading cause of workplace disability throughout Canada. Workplace wellness has come a long way over the years in protecting workers' physical health. On the other hand, many of today's workplaces still struggle with protecting employees' mental health. One fifth of Canadians meet the criteria for having a mental illness in their lifetime and 88% of all healthcare workers report insomnia, headaches, depression and panic attacks related to work stress. This is a significant risk to the quality of care that we provide.
All individuals have their own unique stress threshold, but in the current economic and employment environments, many workers are reaching this threshold more rapidly. On average, most people spend 60% of their waking hours at work. While not all mental distress is work related, organizational culture and practices can play a significant role, either positive or negative. It is difficult for workers to ask for help, especially in the healthcare field because you are "supposed to be the helper", not the one needing help. Silence is a way of maintaining institutional order.
The costs for providing reasonable mental health related accommodations are often fairly low, i.e. less than $500 per person, whereas costs associated with mental illness were estimated at $51 billion in Canada in 2003. Support for workers' mental health improves productivity, reduces presentism (which accounts for 7.5 times greater productivity loss than absenteeism), increases worker retention, as well as the potential to improve the lives of thousands of Canadians.
Ways for employers to promote mental health in their workplace include offering stress reduction workshops, encouraging frequent breaks to go for a walk or socialize, invite a mental health professional into the organization, as well as allowing employees to attend weekly therapy sessions during business hours. Creating policies that support emotional wellness is also key in workers' mental health, as ignoring mental health issues only furthers the stigma surrounding it.
So, can we move beyond silence? Open dialogue is where the solutions begin. Mental illnesses are still feared and misunderstood by many people, but the fear will disappear as people learn more about them. Commitment has to start from the top of the organization. It is important for all employers to realize that there is no real divide between personal life and work life. Organizations that are more open to mental health are also more likely to be successful and sustainable. Let's work toward a culture shift: it is okay, not to be okay.
NAOSH Week 2016
"Make Safety A Habit"
North American Occupational Safety and Health Week was May 1-6. The theme again this year was Make Safety a Habit. It is a busy time for us "safety gurus". The week began with a kick-off hosted at the NSGEU building. Various groups were represented, including AWARE-NS, to share information, make new connections and solidify relationships. On May 3, we attended the Mainstay Awards. These awards provide health and safety recognition at both the organizational and individual levels. Be sure to scroll down and read about some of the recipients from the healthcare sector. Rounding out the week of events included an OHS Professional Day hosted at Saint Mary's University and other safety awareness events at which AWARE-NS presented or hosted a booth. Remember, safety isn't just for at work. Make it a habit. Be safe at home and during recreation times!
Trisha MacIsaac | OHS Coordinator
The Mainstay Awards set a standard in the province by recognizing excellence in workplace safety. Organized by WCB Nova Scotia and Nova Scotia Department of Labour and Advanced Education, this world-class safety awards program recognizes those individuals, organizations and employers whose efforts have moved Nova Scotia toward a safer future.
Safer workplaces mean more Nova Scotians returning home at the end of the day. The awards celebrate safety champions and publicly recognize effective injury prevention and return-to-work programs. Check out the
to learn more about workplaces recognized for workplace safety and to nominate a deserving individual, organization or employer for this special honour.
Individual Safety Champion
Winner - Cape Breton: Sabrina Vatcher, New Dawn Homecare
Sabrina began her role as General Manager of the Healthcare Division at New Dawn Homecare in December of 2010, shortly after the organization was issued five orders by the Department of Labour and Advanced Education's Occupational Health and Safety Division. New Dawn Homecare describes this as a wake-up call, and a pivotal turning point for the organization.
Sabrina's first priority was addressing the five orders - pulling together a team of workplace safety consultants that included representatives from WCB Nova Scotia and Labour and Advanced Education. Their advice and expertise was invaluable, and within 90 days of Sabrina starting with New Dawn, she led her JOHS Committee in meeting all the orders and developing a new Occupational Health and Safety plan with direct input from employees across the organization.
Sabrina's leadership and determination in workplace safety has not only made a difference in the lives of employees and clients of New Dawn Homecare - but have reached far beyond.
In the years since her start at New Dawn Homecare, Sabrina has become a spokesperson for workplace health and safety, sharing her experience and advice with a number of other organizations and at various events and symposiums.
Employer Safety Champion
Winner - Cape Breton: New Dawn Homecare
New Dawn Homecare has made substantial progress with their workplace health and safety program over the past six years
In 2010, after receiving five orders from the Department of Labour and Advanced Education's Occupational Health and Safety Division, the leadership team acknowledged that significant changes needed to be made in how they prioritized safety as a business - and that those changes needed to start at the top.
Thanks to the resources, guidance and determination of the organization, the orders were met within a few months, and a commitment and investment was made by New Dawn Homecare to shift their team's focus on making safety the most important aspect of their jobs.
New Dawn Homecare has invested in its employees by compensating them for staff meetings and formal safety training as well as supplying employees with PPEs and First Aid kits. They also provide a phone line that is staffed 24 hours per day where employees can talk to a live person with questions, concerns or to report an incident.
New Dawn Homecare's OH&S program is now the model for all New Dawn Enterprise companies. As a result of the detailed work completed by New Dawn Homecare and its JOSH Committee - which include materials, policies and procedures - expertise is now being shared throughout the whole organization.
Congratulations to all at New Dawn!
Photo credit: Mike Dembeck
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