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Better Together

October 29 & 30, 2012

Halifax, Nova Scotia

Marriott Harbourfront

Exploring solutions for worker health, safety and well-being


The Bully, the Bullied, and the Bystander: Breaking the Cycle of Violence in the Workplace

It is the deadliest combination going: bullies who get what they want from their target, bullied adults who are afraid to tell, bystanders who either watch, participate, or look away, and employers who see the incidents as simply “teasing” and a normal part of the workplace. We have only to look to the headlines to understand that this is a recipe for tragedy. Some bullying targets, their cries unheard, have fought back with violence that has devastated entire communities; others have committed suicide; many more suffer in silence, their lives a constant round of emotional and physical pain. Discussing her book, The Bully, the Bullied, and the Bystander, Barbara Coloroso gives employees and employers the tools to break this cycle of violence.

Presenter: Barbara Coloroso

Are Psychosocial Factors Risk Factors for Musculoskeletal Symptoms and Disorders?

The importance of physical risk factors in the development of musculoskeletal symptoms or disorders (MSDs) is undisputed. However, the evidence on the role of psychosocial factors in the causal pathway of developing arm, neck, shoulder or back problems is less clear. In this presentation the question of whether psychosocial factors are risk factors for MSDs will be answered from both an experimental and epidemiological perspective. The different factors that may influence the psychosocial work environment such as lack of job control, high workload, and lack of social support, will be discussed, along with evidence from literature. This presentation will examine questions such as: Does brief exposure to workplace stressors lead to an increased muscle activity in back or upper extremity? Is there a difference with regard to pain in different locations? Does long-term exposure to psychosocial factors lead to an increased risk of MSDs? Are some factors more influential than others? Is the risk in office work the same as in industrial work? What interventions aimed at eliminating or reducing psychosocial factors can be developed in order to decrease the occurrence or recurrence of MSDs? What is the effectiveness of these interventions?

Presenter: Birgitte Blatter

How Healthy is Your Workplace When it Comes to Mental Health?

What does a mentally healthy workplace look like? Why should organizations pay attention to employee mental health? How do organizations create and maintain mentally healthy workplaces?

In light of the new Canadian national standard for psychological health and safety in the workplace, emerging legal trends, and rapidly escalating business costs, Donna Hardaker will provide an overview of the issues and what organizations can and increasingly must do to build their capacity to address these issues more effectively. She will describe the issues and solutions for promoting employee mental health, preventing mental health problems from developing or escalating, and intervening appropriately when an employee is struggling with a mental health problem.

Rather than looking at mental health as a separate and marginal aspect of employee health, Donna will discuss how a strategic and comprehensive approach to addressing workplace mental health issues makes good business sense. Organizations can build on their considerable expertise with strategic, comprehensive approaches to addressing physical health and safety to now address psychological health and safety.

Donna will share her experience of having a mental illness and will use elements from her personal story of being in a psychologically unhealthy and unsafe workplace to illustrate the real impact workplaces have on the onset, severity and duration of a mental health disorder.

Presenter: Donna Hardaker

Towards a healthy workplace: Some new thinking about psychosocial issues at work

Psychosocial stressors in the workplace have been extensively researched and their effects on physical, psychological, behavioral and organizational outcomes are well documented. Comprehensive attempts to address these concerns are based around surveillance as well as efforts at primary, secondary and tertiary prevention. In this presentation, Kevin Kelloway will review this "traditional" model of psychosocial stress in organizations and then extend the model by considering the implications of positive psychology for creating truly healthy workplaces.

Presenter: Kevin Kelloway

Bullying At Work: Overcoming Organizational Resistance

Correcting and preventing workplace bullying involves much more than a policy. Each component of a comprehensive program for organizations is discussed, with considerations for advocates, unions, and executives. Advocates need to decide between personality-driven and work environment approaches. Unions are special advocates whose level of participation may be affected by their unique position. Awareness and support from the top is the key to success. Real-life lessons from the trenches are shared: listen to some ways in which full-fledged interventions get reversed and by whom. Learn how to build a business case rationale, while understanding the myriad of other reasons for organizational interventions, for a positive, bully-free workplace.

Presenter: Gary Namie

Healthy Workplaces in Action: The CareWorks Project

Trillium Health Centre is one of Canada's largest leading academically-affiliated health centre, serving over one million residents in Peel and West Toronto and from other communities across Ontario. Their existing wellness program provides a blend of both traditional and non-traditional healthy workplace initiatives, and since its implementation Trillium identified a need to expand beyond their wellness program in order to ensure that employees are supported in their own work environment. Learn more about CareWorks, an innovative customer service program aimed at creating and sustaining a healthy work environment, and how it has resulted in increased staff satisfaction and employee engagement, decreased turnover and decreased sick time.

Presenter: Julie Fischer

Psychological Health and Safety: An Action Guide for Employers

We have made significant progress in addressing workplace factors that impact the physical health and safety of employees; now we need to give similar attention to psychological health. Psychological health concerns have a powerful and expanding impact on the safety, productivity and effectiveness of the workplace. To provide employers with guidance that includes practical, accessible and actionable recommendations, the Mental Health Commission of Canada-Workforce Advisory Committee has requested the creation of a resource based on a review of the latest scientific evidence and professional practices. Psychological Health and Safety: An Action Guide for Employers is a free online resource that is available to all Canadian employers regardless of size, sector or location. The guide provides logical implementation steps, with emphasis on clear, realistic actions that are consistent with current knowledge and are supportive of the national standard for psychological health and safety. This presentation by the guide authors will include a brief description of the underlying research and framework, an overview of the contents, and recommendations for application and dissemination.

Presenters: Merv Gilbert and Dan Bilsker


A "Scent"-sitive Environment
This will be a scent sensitive/smoke-free event.

Forum IV is facilitated by the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS)
• Members of CCOHS Tripartite Council of Governors • Canadian and International Health and Safety Leaders