Health and Safety ReportVolume 21, Issue 12


Creating Safer and Healthier Workplaces: Free Webinarprint this article

Do you need practical advice for implementing mental health and safety programs in your organization? Join CCOHS for free webinars on workplace mental health.

Beyond the Assessment: Addressing Workplace Factors

Psychosocial factors and related hazards and risks – what they are and how you can address them in your workplace. You will learn how to identify these factors, hazards and risks, and take action to support your workplace.

30-minute presentation followed by 15 minutes of Q&A.

Live French audio interpretation available.

Wednesday, January 24, 2024

11 am ET | 45 minutes

Register now


Apply for the Dick Martin Scholarshipprint this article

Are you studying occupational health and safety in Canada or know someone who is? We have two $3,000 scholarships to award, and you could be eligible to win.

To apply to the Dick Martin Scholarship, you will need to complete an online application and submit a cover letter outlining your career aspirations in health and safety, and a 1,200-word essay on one of two topics related to occupational health and safety:

  • Prevention Essay: Choose a high-risk workplace hazard. How would you work to solve and create awareness about the issue?
  • Technical Essay: Research an existing or emerging hazard or risk (coverage may include how to identify, assess, and control the risks).

The deadline to apply is 11:59 p.m. EST, January 31, 2024.

Scholarship rules, criteria, and other guidelines are available on the CCOHS website. Winners will be announced in early spring 2024.


The Importance of Recharging Over the Holidaysprint this article

CCOHS releases new podcasts each month to help you stay current and informed on workplace health, safety, and well-being in Canada.

Encore Podcast: The Importance of Recharging Over the Holidays

When workers take the time to recharge, they’re making their mental heath a priority – something that’s especially important over the holiday season. Join us in conversation with Sonya Tonkovich, Canadian Registered Safety Professional, as we learn about the importance of taking our earned breaks, and the contract of connecting for work versus connecting for ourselves. Sonya also shares tips on reconnecting with ourselves, guiding us through a moment of meditation.

Listen now

Encore Podcast: Working Safely in the Cold

There’s a lot more to working safely in the cold than bundling up in layers. Listen in for what workers and employers need to know.

Listen now

On Topic

A New Year, A Renewed Commitment to Health and Safety print this article

The New Year often comes with new priorities. Commitments like health and happiness, hopes to spend more time with loved ones, and resolutions for less time on our devices are just some examples of the goals we set for ourselves so that when the clock strikes midnight, we have a clear path forward.

While resolutions are typically personal in nature, workplaces can use this time of year to recommit to health and safety.

Here are five safety related priorities to take with you into the new year.

Priority 1: Re-engage with your health and safety committee

Did you know? As an employer, you’re responsible for establishing your workplace’s health and safety committee. Your committee has a number of roles, including but not limited to, recognizing and evaluating workplace hazards, participating in the development and delivery of health and safety programs, and responding to worker concerns and suggestions on safety and health.

As an employer, your role is to ensure the committee has what they need to be successful, including time and resources.

For example, you can encourage members to set goals, then be there to celebrate achievements. Employers can also give committees the opportunity to share their initiatives and successes through town halls, team meetings, or internal newsletters. This is a great way to showcase the committee’s work and that the employer cares.

Priority 2: Fit the job to the person with ergonomics

Ergonomics is the science of matching the job to the worker and the product to the user. Here are some suggestions to create a comfortable and suitable environment for your workers.

Kick off the new year by checking in on workers and how they are performing their tasks. And keep in mind: ergonomics isn’t just for the office or computer work. Workers across many different industries can be exposed to musculoskeletal disorders from performing duties in awkward positions, completing repetitive tasks, or pushing and pulling heavy loads.

To help prevent injuries, take the time to fit the job to the person. Make adjustments to the work environment or the way tasks are completed. Provide infographics, tip sheets, or consider hosting an ergonomics lunch-and-learn with your health and safety committee to help educate workers. The result can help reduce muscle fatigue, increase productivity, and reduce the amount and severity of work-related musculoskeletal injuries.

Priority 3: Know the SAD symptoms and how to help

The new year isn’t always a time of cheer. For some, the winter weather brings about Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD): a type of depression that occurs during the same season each year.

Sometimes called winter blues, the Canadian Mental Health Association estimates that 2 to 10% of Canadians are affected, which means some of your workers might need support. Symptoms of SAD differ, but they can include fatigue, an excessive need for sleep, and impaired memory and concentration.

Workplaces can help those suffering with SAD by promoting healthy activities like daily movement and healthy eating. If you’re having a team lunch or bringing treats to a meeting, look for options that provide energy and nutrients, like fruit instead of donuts. You can also educate workers about healthy activities they can participate in during their breaks, like a stroll around the neighbourhood. Also, if computers and tools aren’t needed for meetings, encourage workers to have their meeting on the go — walking and talking instead of sitting in a room.

In addition, workplaces can support mental health throughout the year by having mental health first aiders available. These first aiders are workers who act as a confidential resource and provide a safe space for workers if they need someone to talk to.

Priority 4: Promote disconnection

Some seasons are busier than others, but no matter how much work needs to be done, it’s important for your workers to take their earned breaks and fully disconnect when they do.

Encourage setting boundaries from work, then lead by example. Demonstrating your own ability to disconnect from work shows your workers how you prioritize and value their well-being. You can do this by avoiding after-hour communications, and not interrupting their personal time, like during their breaks.

It’s also important to recognize that disconnecting isn’t always easy, especially in this era of remote work and constant connection. Letting your workers know that “you get it” helps them understand that we’re all trying our best, but when we all aim to respect life outside of work — including taking our vacations and earned time off — there can be a positive impact on everyone’s well-being.

Priority 5: Proper protection for all

In some roles, personal protective equipment (PPE) is needed to help workers perform their jobs safely, but did you know that gearing up with PPE isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach?

About 50 years ago, researchers and worker advocates started to point out the problems that women have when looking for appropriately sized PPE. However, even today, some workplaces assume that sizing down will suit women workers — except that’s not the case.

Every body is built differently, and those differences exist between the sexes. If PPE is a necessity, consider both the functional fit and the comfort in its design and usage for everyone who wears it.

Start by reassessing your workers needs and the PPE you have onsite. PPE that is designed with consideration for these differences can enhance comfort and usability. Take a look at the state of the PPE and ensure that “quick fixes” like tape, rubber bands, or safety pins aren’t being used to change the fit or make a mend.

Not only will your workers appreciate a correct and comfortable fit, but it could also prevent harm.

Wrapping up with a health and safety reminder

Recommitting to health and safety in the New Year is more than a promise – it’s setting an example.

Encourage and celebrate healthy workplace initiatives, be an advocate for work-life balance, assess and answer the needs for proper tools and equipment, and be there to support mental health needs.

When you step up with these types of commitments, this new year can really be a happy one—and a healthy one, too.


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