We have seen a decline in workplace injury rates among 15 – 19 years old across Canada, which I believe is due, in part, to efforts to incorporate young worker awareness and education programs into the regular education curriculum.
The last few weeks have underscored some of our efforts in developing our youth to be future leaders in health and safety. First, on behalf of our Council of Governors, CCOHS has awarded its 12th annual Dick Martin Scholarship, a national award to recognize students enrolled in a Canadian occupational health and safety degree or diploma program, and to encourage their pursuit of a career in workplace health and safety. Congratulations to this year’s deserving winners: Jodie Chadbourn (Ontario) and Kathy Lee (Saskatchewan), who each received $3000. Their academic institutions, the University of New Brunswick and the Saskatchewan Institute of Applied Science and Technology, also each received $500.
Top: Dick Martin Scholarship Award winner Jodie Chadbourn with CCOHS President Steve Horvath and members of the CCOHS Council of Governors. Bottom: Kathy Lee accepts the Dick Martin Scholarship award from Philip Germain of the CCOHS Council of Governors and the Honourable Don Morgan, Minister of Labour Relations and Workplace Safety. Credit: SIAST
In addition, CCOHS continues to support the annual “It’s Your Job” youth video contest. All Canadian secondary school students begin their competition through provincial and territorial contests administered by their respective ministries and departments of labour. They are challenged to use their creativity to develop an original video that can be used in social media to communicate with their peers about working safely on the job. The winners in each jurisdiction then compete at a national level contest.
Congratulations to this year’s national winners:
• First place: Ben Croskery, John McCrae Secondary School, Ottawa, ON
• Second place: Pranay Noel, St. Francis Xavier Catholic Secondary School, Mississauga, ON
• Third place: Dane Cutliffe, Colonel Gray High School, PEI
• Fan Favourite: Dylan Pappenfoot, Logan Seipp and Dylan Stadnyk, Humboldt Collegiate Institute, Humboldt, SK
As well, I am co-chair of the World Congress on Safety and Health at Work‘s symposium on “Creating a Safe and Healthy Learning and Working Environment” which integrates workplace, community and education groups toward our common goal of developing a young worker safety culture. In that role I also have the privilege of welcoming the delegates from the International Youth Congress – attending from around the world – to the 2014 World Congress next month in Frankfurt, Germany.
Here at CCOHS, in the past couple of decades, we have focused on programs to empower youth in creating a new generation of workplaces that embrace a culture of prevention. But success cannot be achieved in isolation, so our continued efforts to promote and coordinate a holistic approach to young worker safety will integrate with the efforts of workplace, community and education institutions. Together, we head toward the common goal of creating a culture of prevention in all workplaces.
I am going to have to start referring to these submissions as “Blogging from 30,000 ft.” as so many of my recent thoughts came in an airplane as I am returning energized from meetings with institutions with established histories of success in influencing health and safety direction and promoting positive change.
In this case, it is always an honour to be associated with any initiative from the International Labour Organization (ILO) on occupational health and safety, but it was particularly gratifying to be appointed to chair a steering committee of leaders representing all regions of the globe and oversee a stakeholder-driven process for a global prevention initiative.
We came together with a common vision of reforming the ILO OSH global network of institutions and professionals while recognizing the evolving internal and external environments and the need to establish a framework that is supportive of the strategic direction of the ILO. We have the opportunity to achieve something meaningful and sustainable to the benefit of the ILO network and workplaces everywhere.
We are relying on networks and partnerships with both individuals and institutions grounded in a common understanding of the critical role prevention plays in the OHS continuum. There is a mutual recognition that an institutionalized prevention program capacity and progressive OSH policies supported by enforcement systems are the foundations for regulating risks in all workplaces, and are integral to development agendas.
I believe knowledge enables prevention and bringing together leaders to define and support the ILO’s role in a global network active in disseminating timely and reliable OSH information is key to building sustainable OSH capacities at regional and national levels – particularly in low to middle income countries. This serves as an opportunity to establish a framework to harness the successes of informal networks, particularly community-based organizations that have brought about change at the local level, and leverage them at a global level for OSH awareness and prevention knowledge programs.
Our work continues following consensus on strategic direction and framework issues.
I’ve spent several days in Dresden, Germany assisting DGUV (German Social Accident Insurance) organize the Symposium on Education and Learning for the XXth World Congress on Safety and Health at Work. The World Congress occurs every three years and brings approximately 10,000 delegates from around the world to exchange ideas about occupational health and safety.
I am honoured to be a co-coordinator of one of the Symposia along with the Russian Federation and the DGUV, and am excited by the possibilities from working with such a committed group. The organizers at the DGUV were not only prepared to listen, but actively encouraged new ideas and looked for ways for us to go outside the boundaries.
CCOHS’ role is one of innovator and leader in our field. We are recognized for bringing a fresh perspective to the table when discussing change in organizational culture and needs, because we are strongly connected to the workplace and institutions through our collaborations and relationships. Thus, we are able to adapt the delivery of the message of prevention to the new realities of our stakeholders.
These were long days and late nights that I believe would not have occurred had we simply remained with the old standard of providing a forum for exchanging technical information with speeches and workshops. We had an enthusiastic group willing to go beyond convention in order to get a meaningful message across and make a clear impact on workplaces. CCOHS has made a commitment to achieving something transformational, something sustainable that will be a catalyst for change in all workplaces. We have always promoted a vision of occupational health and safety that is inclusive and embraces change in response to the evolving work environment. The DGUV has a similar vision for the World Congress in Frankfurt. It will go beyond the boundaries to provide solutions, promote dialogue and be inspirational. We share this common vision, and that is why I was prepared to commit this kind of time and energy to help make this a success – it is important and will make a difference in the workplace.
This is always an energizing time of year for me. With the advent of a new year before us, we are permitted to take a long breath and look ahead to what the future might hold for CCOHS in the coming year. This is our opportunity to build on the successes of the past year and to welcome new initiatives and directions for our organization.
Our focus in the past year was on collaboration, leadership and outreach. Building on these pillars will be the key to achieving our strategic goals in the coming year.
We have succeeded in significant collaborations with organizations and provinces throughout the year. Of recent note, CCOHS entered into an agreement with the Canadian Standards Association (CSA). This partnership evolved from several key factors that, to me, define a successful collaboration. Aside from the fact that we both have a national scope and many common stakeholders, what is important to me is that both our organizations are focused on offering high quality solutions, and developing strong relationships with our client base. Our compatible competencies will create synergies between our organizations. And most importantly, we share a common set of values. Bonnie Rose, President of CSA Standards, and I share a vision of the critical role that prevention plays in the Canadian health and safety landscape.
It is with this same set of principles to finding value-creating collaborations that we also signed an MOU the past month with the Radiation Safety Institute of Canada. In discussions with the Institute’s president, Steve Mahoney, I know it will be another excellent opportunity for synergies between two organizations with a common purpose.
Common vision, shared values and complementary capacities comprise our formula for success and sustainability with our partners.
This week, CCOHS had a successful conclusion to the first phase of our most recent project in China. The project is directed at policy development and implementation of legal protection for the psychological health and safety in the workplace of migrant labourers in Chongqing. CCOHS’s representative, Dr. Abeytunga, met with a large group of local and state government representatives in Chongqing. Also present at the meeting was a senior official from the central government who came to lend his support to our project and stated that the success of this was “very important to him.” I was extremely pleased to hear this from Abey, as were the Chinese officials who were present, as it served as strong affirmation of the work we are doing.
Members of the Chongqinq delegation visit with CCOHS in December.
Several factors led to our working with the local Chinese government on this project. First, in 2012 the State Council enacted a special regulation requiring employers “to take preventative measures against sexual harassment.” This marked a shift in the focus of Chinese OHS labour laws and regulations from strictly the protection of physical health to the protection of mental health. Secondly, there are almost nine million migrant labourers within Chongqing municipality, and they constitute an integral part of the labour force in Chongqing City. Unfortunately, a series of suicides of migrant workers in a foundry in Shenzhen in 2010 underscored the importance of addressing mental health issues among the new generation of migrant workers in order to prevent similar tragedies.
Workplace violence, harassment and bullying, the pressure to work long hours and disrespect towards workers all contribute to the mental health of migrant labourers. It’s imperative to establish local laws and regulations to ensure employers promote and protect the mental health of migrant workers, so that we can better their overall workplace health and safety.