By: Dewey Funk, UNA Occupational Health and Safety Advisor
Alberta OHS – the Occupational Health and Safety division of the Government of Alberta’s Ministry of Health – has introduced the 2017 Care Worker Violence Prevention Focused Inspection Program. The program commenced on June 8 and is scheduled to be completed on September 30.
The program will involve employers and workers in Home Support Services, Rehabilitation Services for the Disabled, and Social and Community Supports. It is a response to the understanding health care workers put their clients first and their personal safety second, frequently with the added view that violence in the workplace is part of the job.
WCB-accepted claims from 2011 to 2015 prove health care workers are injured at a higher rate than employees in manufacturing industries.
Inspection Officers will direct primary attention in this program to:
- OH&S Code
- Part 2 Hazard Assessment, elimination and control
- Part 27 Violence
- Part 28 Working Alone
Officers will direct secondary attention to:
- OH&S Act
- Section 2(1) Obligations of the employers, workers, etc
- Section 18(2) Serious incidents and accidents
- OH&S Regulation
- Part 13 General protection of workers
- Part 14 Duties of workers
- Part 15 Safety training
OH&S Officers will be going to targeted sites and doing interviews with front- line health care providers. One of the goals is to interview 500 UNA members. This program is expected to conduct 50 employer interviews and more than 200 inspections.
Only through active participation of health care workers in the Care Worker Violence Prevention Focused Inspection Program can changes result to make your workplace a safer, healthier workplace for you to work in.
Alberta OHS also has the Proactive Employer Program that targets employers with high accepted WCB claims. Depending on the employer a unit or a site will be inspected. This program started in 2014 and is run on an annual basis starting in September of each year. OH&S Officers do inspections of each unit/site selected and also review policies and procedures. These inspections result in Client Contact Reports (CCRs) being generated. I receive copies of all CCRs, which I then forward to UNA’s locals for information purposes. They should be shared with our members on the Occupational Health & Safety Committee.
Locals may use the information in the CCR for educational purposes, to foster an awareness of requirements to make a workplace safe and healthy. Should changes be necessary such as training, orders will be written requiring employers to become compliant with legislation. These CCRs are also sent to the local. Should an order be written, it must be posted so affected employees can see it.
The Government has finally recognized that health care is an Industry that needs to be looked at as an Industry. Health care employers must therefore become compliant with Occupational Health and Safety legislation, as do all other employers in the province.
I endorse both of these programs. I strongly encourage all UNA members to participate in both programs.
What does participation look like? Participation is taking part in the interviews with OH&S Officers and being forthright with the answers you give. These programs are employee focused, making your workplace a healthy and safe environment for you and your co-workers.