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If you have any comments or suggested topics of interest, or wish to be added to the emailing list, please contact Heather Middleton, Industry Services (Healthcare & Government) Worker & Employer Services Division at
During a recent move, we found 4 cases of the Community Health Worker Handbook that the WCB and OHSAH jointly wrote in 2002. While our supplies last, we are offering FREE distribution of these publications within British Columbia. To order your copies, contact Heather Middleton at or phone 604-276-3235. (Please note that this offer is not available through other WCB publication outlets).
For an online version of this publication, go to:http://www2.worksafebc.com/portals/healthcare/pdfs/healthcare/
New WCB Policies
On December 1, 2004 the following two policies came into effect.
General Duties (Overlapping Obligations)
Synthetic web sling rejection criteria
There are now thousands of overhead patient lifts in use throughout BC, and one issue to anticipate is the rejection criteria of the synthetic webbing on the slings. The WCB has regulated minimum rejection criteria for synthetic slings, although individual lift manufacturers may have more stringent requirements.
All of us at Industry & Labour Services (Healthcare & Government) would like to thank all of you for your dedication towards making healthcare a safer and healthier workplace. We wish you all the best for a safe holiday season, and look forward to another productive year in 2005.
This manual provides instruction notes and sample overheads for teaching risk identification and prevention of aggression to residential care workers. It focuses on the challenges front-line workers face in their daily activities, different approaches they can take to their work to enhance their safety. The manual was developed as a result of a WCB funded project conducted by the Fraser Health Authority. It was written by Jackie Baron, RN, MSN, GNC(C) who is currently teaching at Kwantlen College and has many years of experience working in residential care.
The Instructor's Manual (PDF 1 MB)
The original risk assessment (PDF 2 MB)
All of the WCB's links to violence in healthcare workplaces (including the above two documents) are found at:
In September 2004, NIOSH released this Alert to increase awareness among health care workers and their employers about the health risks posed by working with hazardous drugs and to provide them with measures for protecting their health. Health care workers who prepare or administer hazardous drugs or who work in areas where these drugs are used may be exposed to these agents in the air or on work surfaces, contaminated clothing, medical equipment, patient excreta, and other surfaces.
OHSAH's Blood and Body Fluid (BBF) Conference -- Blood, Sweat & Tears
For those who missed last week's interesting conference to share strategies to reduce occupational BBF exposure in healthcare, the participant's manual is now available for download:
WCB of BC announces lower premium rates for 2005 (finalized)
The Workers' Compensation Board (WCB) has announced a 4.1 percent decrease in the overall premium rate for 2005. The decrease was projected in August and reflects recent years' trends of lower injury rates and shorter claim duration. These trends reflect the shared commitment of employers, workers and the WCB to prevent injuries, diseases and fatalities from occurring in the first place and improve return to work outcomes for those injured. The rates in the healthcare & social services sub sector are unchanged from the preliminary rates announced in August.
About 10% of all time loss claims in BC's health care & social service sector are caused by slipping and tripping and result in a disproportionately high number of serious injuries (including fractures and concussions). These preventable injuries can occur at any time and place including hallways, stairways, kitchens, bathrooms and parking lots.
Keeping areas free of clutter, cleaning up liquids on floors and marking uneven areas such as curbs can make a big difference in reducing these injuries. Now is a good time to plan for the winter conditions that lead to many of these injuries. For regions where snow is a problem, stock shovels and salt and make arrangements for snow clearing and spreading of sand in parking lots. For areas where rain is the norm, ensure that there are floor mats at entranceways for umbrellas and that high traffic areas are marked when wet and mopped regularly during poor weather.
Susceptible health care workers now eligible for varicella vaccine
As of July 1, 2004, susceptible BC health care workers are eligible to receive two doses of publicly funded varicella vaccine. A varicella-susceptible individual is defined as any person with one of the following:
For more information about varicella disease, varicella vaccine, vaccine side effects, duration of protection, and why it is important for you to be immunized to protect yourself and your family and patients, talk to your occupational health nurse or go to:
Infection Control Self Assessment Tool
The Ontario Health Care Health & Safety Association has developed a self-assessment tool to assist employers, workers, health care professionals, and members of the joint health and safety and infection control committees to identify strengths and opportunities for enhancing their Occupational Health Infection Control Program.
Between March-April 2004 a public hearing was held in several locations around the province to receive submissions on a number of proposed changes to the Occupational Health & Safety Regulation. Some of the proposed changes could have significant impact on Healthcare & Social Service stakeholders including workplace violence and occupational environment requirements. The WCB's Board of Directors' decisions on these issues are found on the links below.
SAFER Client Handling in the Long Term Care Sector - Application of Ergonomics (MSI) Requirements to Client Handling Workshop
The Workers' Compensation Board of BC (WCB) still has openings for two of the free one-day workshops on assessing and managing the risks associated with client handling in long term care. This workshop involves learning how to apply the WCB Ergonomics Regulations to patient handling. Risk identification, assessment, control, and education and training of client handling activities are reviewed through a variety of classroom and group activities. This workshop is suitable for managers, supervisors and safety committee members involved with client care. The workshop may also be suitable for those in home & community care that have clients who need to be physically moved.
Please be aware that this workshop will not provide hands-on practice of specific client handling techniques.
The workshop is being held at the WCB's Granville Building (8100 Granville Avenue, Richmond) from 8:15 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. on the following days:
In response to a February 2002 news report of a Saskatchewan medical laboratory technologist who contracted HIV through work exposure, the Canadian Society for Medical Laboratory Science (CSMLS) conducted a safety survey of 185 certified active members working in both hospital and private laboratories. Fifty percent of the respondents felt that they had insufficient training and 80% felt that there should be a greater emphasis on laboratory safety.
CSMLS has just launched their first ever safety campaign - "Laboratory Safety - No Shortcuts". A key component of the campaign is SafetyWeb - a new online health and safety resource that includes current safety articles, "ask the expert" section and other safety resources. To view the website go to: http://www.csmls.org/.
WCB Announces preliminary assessment rates for 2005
The 2005 preliminary figures reflect a projected aggregate base rate of $1.975 per $100 of employer's assessable payroll, 4.1% less than the 2004 rate of $2.059. These are preliminary rates only, subject to final approval by the WCB Board of Directors in the fall of 2004.
The rate reduction is possible because of cost savings realized through legislative change introduced in 2002, improved performance of world financial markets, and the continuing downward trend in the injury rate. Together, these have resulted in lower costs for workplace injuries.
Workplace Traumatic Injury Reports
This new on-line tool allows users to generate their own statistical queries by sector, sub-sector or classification unit. Reports looking at any of 8 different variables can be generated within a few seconds. An additional click on the column or row heading will create another report with a finer level of detail. All ratable industries can be searched (not just healthcare). As the name implies, only traumatic injuries are available (not occupational disease claims).
Year to date injury statistics for Healthcare & Social Services
Are you looking for a snap-shot of the number of time loss claims accepted so far in 2004 for healthcare & social services? These numbers are updated monthly at:
WHMIS Online Learning
"Basics of the Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS)" is an animated, interactive, web-based course designed to provide employees, supervisors, and employers with an understanding of WHMIS core elements. More details available at: http://www.ohsah.bc.ca/index.php?section_id=25193§ion_copy_id=11179
Adaptive Clothing Resource Guide
This resource guide is for anyone who needs practical information on how to implement an adaptive clothing program. The guide includes explanations of what adaptive clothing is, why it is useful, what its benefits are, what types of clothing can be adapted, and sewing instructions.
OHSAH now has its own monthly Health & Safety Update
Sign up to receive the OHSAH Health and Safety Update, which will arrive in your e-mail inbox once a month. For more information: http://www.ohsah.bc.ca/index.php?section_id=25190§ion_copy_id=11158
Critical Incident Response (CIR) Program
The WCB CIR Program is a province wide early intervention program for workers and employers who have experienced a traumatic workplace event. A traumatic workplace event may include an injury, near miss or threat, being the victim of a crime, or a workplace fatality.
The CIR program will assist by contracting for service with a Mental Health Professional, who has specific training in Critical Incident Stress, to provide an intervention to employees/ers. In some cases a limited amount of follow up counseling may be provided if necessary. This service is available seven days a week between the hours of 9am-11pm.
For more information please contact Patrick McRae, Critical Incident Response Liaison, at 604-233-4052 or pager 1-888-922-3700
WCB Library Services
The WCB Library includes an extensive collection of materials on workers' compensation, occupational health and safety, physical and vocational rehabilitation, medicine, law, and related subjects. The Library is open to the general public, and with the exception of audiovisual materials, technical standards, and books held in Reference or department library collections, materials are available to the general public through interlibrary loans with an accredited library.
WCB Library Services is located on Level 1, Administration Building, 6951 Westminster Highway, Richmond. Tel: 604 231-8450 Fax: 604 279-7608. Email:
The WCB, Interior Health Authority(IHA) and the Okanagan University College (OUC) have partnered to provide the necessary equipment and course material to incorporate IHA's Patient Handling Program into the core curriculum of OUC's Nursing Program. A Patient Handling Laboratory, with 3 patient ceiling lifts and a range of transfer assist devices, has been installed at OUC. The dedication ceremony was on Thursday May 20th.
Responding to Aggression in Long-term Care: Lessons from Five Case Studies
This newly released report, from a WCB sponsored study conducted by the Healthcare Benefit Trust and researchers from Simon Fraser University, examines the problems of aggression within five of British Columbia's long-term care facilities . The 3 year study involved employee surveys and examination of incident reports and WCB claims statistics. The recommendations include that employers use a systems approach to develop prevention and risk management strategies to reduce incidence of aggression in the workplace. These strategies should include education and training, policy and procedures, teamwork and environmental controls. The report is the top link on our "Violence" reference page.
The Workers' Compensation Board achieved an operating surplus of $155 million in 2003, compared to an operating deficit of $571 million in 2002 as a result of a lower injury rate, shorter duration of injuries to injured workers, lower benefit costs and strong investment returns.
During the year, the injury rate the primary measure of workplace health and safety in B.C. was reduced to an all-time low of 3 short-term disability claims paid per 100 person-years of employment. This was almost 7 percent lower than 2002 and 42 percent lower since 1994. The reduction from 2002 to 2003 alone translated to approximately 4,000 fewer workers suffering time-loss injuries, $60 million lower claim costs, and 190,000 more productive work days for the economy.
The complete report is available at:
2003 Annual Report
Some highlights from the Annual Statistics report pertaining to the healthcare and social services sub-sector:
The complete statistics report is available at:
In response to the recent events regarding Avian Flu in the Fraser Valley and elsewhere in the world, WCB of BC has produced the following document (PDF 119 KB):http://www2.worksafebc.com/PDFs/General/AvianFlu_Mar30.pdf
Cytotoxic, Antineoplastic and other Hazardous Drugs:
NIOSH Alert: Preventing Occupational Exposures to Antineoplastic and other Hazardous Drugs in Healthcare Settings (Prepublication Copy 3/25/04). The purpose of this Alert is to increase awareness among healthcare workers and their employers about the health risks posed by working with hazardous drugs and to provide them with measures for protecting their health.http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/docs/2004-HazDrugAlert/
Changes to first aid requirements become effective on March 30, 2004
The new first aid requirements requires employers to conduct a risk assessment of each workplace to determine what first aid equipment, supplies, facilities, attendants and services are required to promptly render first aid and transport injured workers to treatment. This replaces Part 33 of the OH&S regulation, which has been repealed. The new requirements and draft policy are available at:
The Employers' Advisers is holding seminars on the new first
aid regulation for employers throughout B.C. during March & April. Dates and locations are available at:
Floor Lift Recall Notice
A product recall has been announced by the US Food and Drug Administration stating that Illinois based distributor Moving Solutions Inc. has recalled it's "Faaborg" model battery operated patient lifts.
Over 350 healthcare facilities in British Columbia do not have direct access to occupational health and safety resources provided by BC health authorities. OHSAH is working to ensure that each of these "affiliate" facilities has access to necessary resources for developing and enhancing occupational health and safety programs.
In April 2004, OHSAH is hosting networking and knowledge workshops directed at affiliate facilities in Interior and Northern BC (dates for workshops in Vancouver Island and Lower Mainland are to be determined). Block by Block: Building an Effective Health and Safety Program is an interactive one-day workshop for those interested in occupational health and safety in their healthcare facility. The topics covered will provide facilities with a solid foundation of knowledge and practical tools to build an effective health and safety program.
For more information about Block by Block, contact OHSAH Project Coordinator, Elaine Lee: 604.775.4034.
To learn more about OHSAH, please visit our website at www.ohsah.bc.ca.
5th Annual Home & Community Care Conference, March 1-2, 2004
The Health Care Leaders Association of BC (HCLABC) will host the Home and Community Care Conference The Business of Care - in Richmond at the Vancouver Airport Conference Resort with an impressive line-up of speakers reflecting on home and community care issues.
NAOSH week, May 2-8, 2004, is an annual initiative led by the Canadian Society of Safety Engineering (CSSE) in partnership with the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS) and Human Resources Development Canada (HRDC). "Build a Safe Beginning" is the theme for this year's NAOSH week. For more information go to http://www.naosh.org or http://www.WorkSafebc.com/news_room/campaigns/
11th Conference - Occupational Hazards to Health Care Workers, May 18-20, 2004, Vancouver, BC
Experts will present a series of platform sessions and workshops with up-to-date information on how to protect health care workers in a variety of health care settings.
The Workers' Compensation Board is seeking written or oral comment on proposed changes to the provincial Occupational Health & Safety Regulation. The subjects that could be of interest to the healthcare & social services sector include workplace conduct and violence in the workplace; occupational environment requirements; and noise, vibration, radiation and temperature. There are also proposed changes for fall protection; ladders, scaffolds and temporary work platforms; and agriculture, as well as some other miscellaneous proposed changes.
Proposed guidelines for the proposed changes are now available. There will be a series of public hearings in March at which you may provide comment. Written submissions must be received by Friday, April 16th. Finally, there are a series of "technical information sessions" at which the proposed changes will be discussed.
For all the information about the regulatory changes, please go to: