This has been a watershed year for the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS). We have been cultivating relationships across the country with a large cross-section of industries, OSH organizations and institutions. We have leveraged these relationships into mutually beneficial collaborations that have expanded our product offerings, accessed new markets, and increased our recognition factor across Canada.
I take a look back with great pride in our success from all of our business units. We have had an extremely successful national Forum that highlighted our ability to draw together representatives from a cross-section of groups to dialogue on solutions that affect all Canadians. Collaborations with groups such as CARMHA, the Mental Health Commission of Canada, Carex Canada, NIDMAR, VuBiz, Institute on Gender and Health (IGH), ILO and High Point Wellness have resulted in new programs and products that have introduced CCOHS to new stakeholders and have increased the profile of the prevention of occupational injury and illness across all jurisdictions. We have also taken a leadership role in the communication of federal GHS legislation, mental health standards, and initiatives for vulnerable workers, and making OSH programs accessible to small and medium sized enterprises and remote regions.
But, my greatest sense of pride is reserved for our leadership team and staff for their dedication and ability to adapt to evolving internal changes and a constantly shifting external environment. It is our adaptive capacity and nimble decision-making that have come to define our organization and serve as the platform for all our successes.
My best wishes to everyone for a joyful holiday season and a Happy New Year.
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.