Date of Issue: June 2012 Revised Jan 2013

View Alert

Below: Please Review The Changes To The Hazard Alert

Under Typical Causes:
Removed last sentence: “Mechanical lifts are also known as hoist”
Under Preventive Measures:
It also specifies that there is a requirement for training employees who use this requirement since injuries may still occur if the operator is not properly trained.
The requirement for safe sling use is outlined in section 80 of the Occupational Safety General Regulations.
“Where the lifting or moving of a thing or person may be a hazard to the health or safety of a person at the workplace, an employer shall ensure that
(a) adequate and appropriate equipment for the lifting and moving is provided; and
(b) training and instruction as to the appropriate method of performing the lifting and moving is provided in accordance with the equipment manufacturer’s instructions, or, where there are no equipment manufacturer’s instructions, in accordance with adequate work methods and lifting and moving techniques.” 5
Added two additional References
5. Occupational Safety General Regulations
6. Occupational Health and Safety Act

Author: Rachael Crozier
You’ve heard it all before. Don’t smoke. Avoid drinking pop. Don’t eat fried foods. Don’t. Don’t. Don’t! You know that certain choices and behaviours are not ideal for good health, but you also know that some can help cope while in the moment. So the question is, how do you move toward a healthier lifestyle while balancing the ups and downs of life?
Well, it’s best to start ‘small’. Don’t try to change everything in one day. Choose one simple action to help improve your health. Committing to a lifestyle change does not happen in one day. It’s a life-long journey of striving for better health so as to spend more quality time with family and friends.


fork and knife
Trying to change your eating habits? Don’t aim for that perfect diet each day. Rather, plan to change one thing, such as choosing an alternative to pop or an alcoholic beverage. You can still enjoy that tasty pasta dinner. Habits are part of one’s daily lifestyle and social culture. If you are trying to make changes, it’s best to start by identifying the things in your life that cause you to choose unhealthy habits over healthy ones. When you start to eat healthier, you’ll gradually learn to substitute unhealthy foods for healthier choices, such as whole grain breads over white breads. (


If you want to start exercising, you don’t have to go to the gym every day for an hour or two. Start with a leisurely 10-minute walk around the block on a sunny day. Go for a stroll around the mall with a friend. If you can change your mindset from feeling guilty for not exercising to making a plan to get short stretches of walking in throughout your day, before you know it, you’ll be setting the conditions for successful life changes. Many of us like to watch television in the evening – during a commercial, try going for a quick stroll around your living quarters. Include a flight of stairs if you have some. It’s a just a small change, but it has big benefits (Canadian Physical Activities Guide).


If you are trying to quit smoking, don’t aim too high at first. The best climbers in the world can’t conquer Mount Everest in one day. You’ll just set yourself up for failure and feel guilty that you couldn’t accomplish your goal. Take baby steps. Reduce the number of cigarettes each day. Look into options for support (
Improving the health habits of employees in the workplace can provide employers with a pretty compelling business case. Healthier, happier employees may lead to fewer sick days and disability claims ( Consider stocking fruit in the lunch room, bring in a health and wellness specialist to speak to your employees, subsidize gym memberships or provide yoga and meditation during the company lunch hour.
Got a healthy tip or resource to share with us? Please post it in the comments section below!

About The Author:

Rachel Crozier headshotRachel Crozier received her B.Kin. and B.Ed. Degrees from McMaster and Nipissing University. For the past seven years, Ms. Crozier has worked in health promotion, starting her career first as a health and physical educator and later diversifying to the field rehabilitation. She is currently working as an Attendance and Disability Consultant for Capital Health, where part of her role is to help educate and encourage healthy lifestyle habits for the organization’s employees.

Author: Heather Matthews
One of the biggest complaints people have today is that they are always tired. Busy jobs, busy families, busy communities, “busy everything”. We are trying to squeeze more into each part of our day including our workday. How many of us hit the ground running with a list of things to do that we know is going to be almost impossible to complete even if everything goes right.
There are things we can do to help us make the best of the time we have in the day to keep the energy up level thought the workday.


KC zzzz
To ensure you get the best out of your day, in large part depends on the sleep you had the night before. Getting a good night’s sleep is priceless when to comes to being able to face the day and the long list of things to do.
Developing good sleep habits is the best investment in your day:

  • Have a bed time routine
  • Make sure you do something relaxing before bed
  • Turn off all lights and other distractions such as TV, laptops, tablets and cell phones
  • Take a minute to reflect on all the good things you did today

All of this sounds easy enough to do. We all try to do the right thing but somehow life gets in the way. You now have a new list. Just pick one thing that you think you can change and keep doing it once you have mastered that choose another one.

Plan the Day

KC plan
Try to keep the agenda for the day realistic. Most of us are tried just at the anticipation of everything we have to get done in the next 8 hours if we are lucky.
Plan your activities for the day so the things that require the largest amount of concentration are done in the morning when you are the most refreshed. In the afternoon, try to plan meetings or tasks that require less concentration. It is also a good idea to plan work activities that involve group of people in the afternoon.

Healthy Eating

KC Live Healthy
It goes without saying that balanced healthy meals thought-out the day is best for keep you energy level up. This is especially important for the lunch meal during your work day. If you have a large meal for lunch it leads to a very sluggish afternoon. You body is expending a lot of energy digesting the large lunch which many times leads to the afternoon slump.
Things that can help get you thought the afternoon slump:

  • Drink two glasses of water-one of the signs of dehydration is fatigue
  • Add citrus to your water – adds flavor and is refreshing
  • Healthy snack made up of whole grains and fresh fruit- allows for slower digestion as well as keeps your sugar more balanced
  • Take a short 10 minute walk

Tell us what has worked for you and post your ideas and comments below!

About The Author:

Heather Headshot WebHeather Matthews is AWARE-NS’s Occupational Health & Safety Specialist. She received her Bachelor’s degree, majoring in Housing and Facility Management from Mount Saint Vincent University (1989). In 2010, she completed her Certificate in Occupational Health and Safety from Ryerson University. Most recently was the Corporate Health and Safety Manager for Ocean Nutrition Canada a Global Bio Science company where she was responsible for the development and implementation of the Health and Safety program. Developing a strong safety culture though leadership, training and education has been the primary focus in her most recent role.

Nursing Stress

Consultation period for compensation for psychological injuries extended to October 31, 2013.

The WCB has decided to further extend our consultation with Nova Scotians about compensation for psychological injuries. Feedback on our position paper will now be accepted until the end of October.

This will allow more time for Nova Scotians to consider and provide their perspectives on this issue. Stakeholder groups and individuals have expressed a keen interest thus far, and the extended deadline will provide an opportunity for more research and conversation about the proposals.

Policy Change: Compensability of Psychological Injury Caused by Workplace Stress

AWARE-NS is looking for feedback from its stakeholders in regards to policy changes by WCB on Compensability of psychological injury caused by workplace stress.
We are asking the stakeholders to review the links below and respond back to [email protected] by October 31, 2013.
We will collect the responses and submit them to WCB by their deadline.
Consultation on compensation for psychological injuries
Policy 1.3.5 – Criteria for psychiatric conditions: occupational stress
Policy 1.3.6 – Compensability of Stress as an Injury Arising out of and In the Course of Employment – Government Employees Compensation Act (GECA)
We understand that this is a short consultation period for a major policy change. “Given some relatively recent legal developments in various jurisdictions across Canada, a concern arose in 2011 about whether certain aspects of Nova Scotia regime might become the subject of legal or constitutional challenge” WCB has opted for a one stage consultation process as opposed to the normal two stage process. Therefore this is the one time that the stakeholder will be able to provide there feedback to the board.
For your convenience below we have highlighted some of changes to the two policies affected.
Policies Affected
Policy 1.3.5-Criteria for psychiatric conditions: Occupational Stress
Policy 1.3.6-Compensability of stress as an injury arising out of and in the course of employment-Government Employees Compensation Act(GECA)
Highlights- Policy 1.3.5-Criteria for psychiatric conditions: Occupational Stress
The existing policy in the Nova Scotia Workers’ Compensation Act does not outline entitlement criteria for psychological injuries outside of those that are secondary to a compensable physical injury. The new policy could elaborate upon the phrase “acute reaction to traumatic event” and provide the phrase including a cumulative reaction to multiple traumatic events. This would provide a middle ground between claims of gradual onset stress and the current narrow interpretation of an acute reaction to a single event.
Changes to Policy 1.3.5
1. To determine the existence and degree of a worker’s permanent impairment due to compensable mental or behavioral (psychiatric) disorders, the Board relies on the American Medical Associations “Guidelines to the Evaluation of Permanent Impairment – Fourth Edition” (the “AMA Guidelines”).
2. Section 2 (a) of the Workers’ Compensation Act states that the definition of accident does not include stress other than that which is an “acute reaction to a traumatic event.” The following provide guidelines used by the Board in adjudicating stress claims.
“The purpose of this policy is to establish criteria for the individualized adjudication of psychological injury claims under the Nova Scotia Workers’ Compensation Act.”
Added Section: “Definitions”
1. The “DSM” is the most current edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, which is a compendium of psychiatric diagnoses produced by the American Psychiatric Association. The manual codes and describes all recognized psychiatric diagnoses and is regarded as the definitive work on the subject. (Source: The Canadian Health Care Glossary).
“Traumatic Event(s)” is defined as a direct personal experience of an event or directly witnessing an event that, reasonably and objectively assessed, is:
• Sudden;
• Frightening or shocking;
• Having a specific time and place; and
• Involving actual or threatened death or serious injury to oneself or others or threat to one’s physical integrity.
Examples of Traumatic Events may include, but are not limited to:
• A direct personal experience of an event that involves actual or threatened death or serious injury;
• An actual or threatened violent physical assault;
• Incident(s) of extreme workplace harassment;
• Witnessing or experiencing a horrific accident;
• Witnessing or being involved in a hostage taking; and
• Witnessing or being involved in an armed robbery.
Policy statement
An emotional reaction following an industrial injury is usually nothing more than a “startle reaction”, or a short period of anxiety or depression which subsides very quickly.
4. This initial emotional reaction, although minor in most cases can, however, increase depending on several factors. Every worker reacts differently to stressful situations, according to his or her individual personality. Factors include:
a) the severity of the injury;
b) whether or not the accident was of a frightening nature; and
c) the prior emotional stability of the worker.
5. The reaction to the injury may be aggravated as a result of prolonged medical treatment. Other factors, such as extended disablement and/or severe functional limitations, may also increase the emotional reaction to the point that the worker’s ability to carry out the activities of daily life is affected.
6. The emotional reaction is generally a temporary condition and the worker is left with no permanent psychiatric impairment. In considering cases of permanent impairment, for claims purposes, a clear causal relationship must be established between the injury and the emotional reaction (i.e. the injury must be shown to be a significant contributing factor).
The WCB will consider claims for compensation under the Nova Scotia Workers’ Compensation Act when the condition results from stress that is a reaction in response to one or more Traumatic Events and the specified criteria outlined below are satisfied. More specifically, the WCB will consider claims for compensation in respect of both: (a) acute response to a Traumatic Event; and (b) cumulative response to Traumatic Events. For greater certainty: (a) an acute response to a Traumatic Event is the most easily identified type of stress, which involves witnessing or experiencing a single event that is objectively traumatic. (b) a cumulative response to Traumatic Events involves a response to multiple Traumatic Events. Possible examples would include a paramedic who develops Post Traumatic Stress Disorder after responding to a number of fatal traffic collisions, or a drugstore pharmacist after multiple robberies.
• There must be one or more Traumatic Event(s) as defined herein;
Criteria Claims for psychiatric or psychological injuries resulting from Traumatic Events may be compensable if all of the following four criteria are satisfied:
• The Traumatic Event(s) must arise out of and in the course of employment;
• The acute or cumulative response to the Traumatic Event(s) has caused the worker to suffer from a mental or physical condition that is described in the DSM; and
• The condition is diagnosed in accordance with the DSM and by a health care provider being either a psychiatrist or a clinically trained psychologist registered with the Canadian Register of Health Service Providers in Psychology.
Non-Compensable Work-related Events Mental or physical conditions are not compensable when caused by labour relations issues such as a decision to change the worker’s working conditions; a decision to discipline the worker; a decision to terminate the worker’s employment or routine employment related actions such as interpersonal relationships and conflicts, performance management, and work evaluation.
Highlights-Policy 1.3.6-Compensability of stress as an injury arising out of and in the course of employment-Government Employees Compensation Act(GECA)
GECA policy allows for claims of both acute and gradual onset stress. This policy was last updated in 2005, and could benefit from some minor wording changes to bring it in line with current environment.
Changes to Policy 1.3.6
From “stress” to “psychological injury”
“American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Mental Disorders-4th edition (DSM IV)”
“The “DSM” is the most current edition of the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Mental Disorders”
Under “examples of Traumatic Event(s) may include, but are not limited to:
“Incident(s) of extreme workplace harassment” was added
Omitted first paragraph (general discussion on stress)
From “reaction in response to a traumatic event”
to “reaction in response to one or more traumatic event” (this statement was change though out the policy)
Under “Gradual onset Stress” the following Paragraph was added
An accumulation , over time, of a number of work-related stressors that do not fall within the definition of Traumatic Event(s), or a significant work-related stressor that has lasted for a long time but does not fall within the definition of traumatic Events
For more information please contact:
Heather Matthews
Occupational Health & Safety Specialist
[email protected]
Toll Free 877-538-7228 (LETS ACT)

drug-rehab-familyDeaths, injuries, work-related illnesses, risk to life and limb are not part of the job. No family should suffer a lost loved one. No worker a debilitating injury or illness at work. No workplace should bear the loss. When all Nova Scotians believe every workplace injury or illness can be prevented – and when prevention is engrained in every workplace culture – Nova Scotians will be safe at work. A culture of workplace safety is growing in Nova Scotia. It must be nurtured and expanded until all Nova Scotians are aware of and care about the safety performance of their workplace and work to improve that performance. Everyone should feel safe at work. Nova Scotia has many examples of workplace safety excellence.
Unfortunately, it has as many examples where risk and injuries are “part of the job.” Tragedy at sea, for instance, should become part of Nova Scotia’s history.
Nova Scotia is a safer place to work today than 10 years ago. Workers’ compensation claims declined 18 per cent and the number of time loss injuries fell about 30 per cent over the past decade. But Nova Scotia still lags other Canadian jurisdictions and is in the middle of the pack in most workplace injury measures.
Some still see workplace safety as a cost. Safety leaders report the opposite. Safety pays, through less time lost, but more importantly, through increased productivity, enhanced morale and loyalty. A safer province is a more productive and prosperous province. Over the next decade, the nature of work in our province will change. New economic developments like the shipbuilding contract, changing demographics and new technologies will bring new challenges but also new opportunities to improve workplace safety.
Click to learn more about Nova Scotia’s strategy for workplace safety!

Author: Christian Goudge, AWARE-NS Safety Collaborator
Working with people you don’t necessarily want to is never easy yet we have to do it every day at work. Unlike our plans for a Saturday night on the town, at work we can’t pick and choose who we spend our time with. Employees are usually selected by their employers based on skills, ability, education and experience and whether these line up with the requirements of the job. Consideration for whether or not John will get along with Sue is pretty low on the list. So how do we create and maintain a respectful workplace when your co-worker just rubs you the wrong way?
In addition to the organizational leaders developing policy and procedures on workplace violence, workplace rights and workplace harassment, front line workers can have a significant effect on creating a respectful and professional workplace.
Here are a few things we all can do:

1. Accept The Differences

We are all individuals and because of this we all view and approach things slightly differently. Sometimes one person’s approach is very different than another’s. Not to say it is wrong, just different. Before we object to this different perspective, take a minute to consider it. We all want to be heard when we have an idea, engage in a positive conversation by asking leading questions and have the person explain their perspective. You never know, they may be on to something.

2. Say Please, Thank You and Smile

I know this sounds like your mother talking but moms are pretty smart. Think about it: what happens when you greet someone with a smile and a cheery ‘Good Morning’? You usually get that back. And when it comes to asking for or receiving help, a ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ not only shows some respect and appreciation for your co-workers but also gives you a better chance at getting help the next time you need it. Try it! You and your co workers just might like it!

3. Nothing About Me, Without Me

Rumours can be damaging and distracting in any organization and hurtful to the person or people involved and nothing starts rumours faster than talking about someone behind their back. It is also disrespectful and not fair. Insist on addressing an issue you have with a co-worker with that co-worker. If you are uncomfortable about starting the conversation, ask your supervisor to help out.
I am not asking you to like everyone you work with, although that would be nice, just respect them.

About The Author

Chris GoudgeChris Goudge is a Canadian Registered Safety Professional with over 10 years experience currently practicing occupational health and safety in the health care sector. Broad experience in developing, implementing and managing health and safety systems for multi site, multi jurisdictional operations in manufacturing and health care with a focus on accident reduction, risk mitigation and development of a self sustaining safety culture.

Suzanne Rhodenizer Rose RN BScN CIC, Director, Healthcare Quality, Patient Safety and IPCNS, is asking Directors/Managers of Quality & Patient Safety and District Infection Control Practitioners to get in touch if you come across mouldy mattresses in the facility you work in.
As you may be aware from recent news reports, Capital Health uncovered mould on several mattresses while new mattress covers were being replaced as part of routine maintenance. As a result of their auditing process, more mattresses were found to contain mould.
While Capital Health is working diligently to rectify this situation for their district, it is important that we ensure that this is not a concern for other district health authorities (DHA) in the province. Mould can pose a health risk not only to patients, but also to those who work in our health care facilities.
Patient safety is important to all of us. The Department of Health and Wellness (DHW) is recommending that acute care facilities in the DHAs and the IWK Health Centre make arrangements to investigate if the issue uncovered at Capital Health may also be of concern in your facilities. This may involve a visual inspection of mattresses, including assessment of the integrity of the mattress coverings and ensuring they are water-proof. Districts should also ensure that the products used for cleaning and disinfecting are compatible with the mattresses covering and do not contribute to breakdown of the mattress material.
In the event that mould is found and is significant, the mattress should be disposed of using proper disposal procedures. In some cases, it may be suitable for mattresses to be covered with a new water-proof, vapour-proof mattress covers to ensure there is no risk to patients. Decision-making should be done in consultation with district experts (e.g. infection prevention and control, infectious diseases, occupational health and safety).
As a result of this situation, DHAs/IWK should also ensure a process is established for ongoing routine inspection of mattresses/coverings and appropriate replacement when necessary.
If you discover similar issues in your facilities as a result of your investigation, I would ask you to notify me with the details.
Thank you for your attention to this matter. If you have any concerns, please feel free to contact me at 902-722-1244 or via email at [email protected].
View the memo

cosp logo
In an effort to build on the good work currently taking place in the sector, AWARE-NS has designed a strategy which involves the implementation of a standardized health and safety management system (HSMS) for home care/ home support organizations in Nova Scotia. This initiative is being facilitated through a Communities of Safe Practice approach and will include a customized, standardized and progressive Certificate of Recognition (COR) process aligned with the WCB’s proposed rate incentive program.


View Guiding Principles

View Logic Model

JOHS Effectiveness Audit

The Community of Safe Practice (COSP) Program serves to establish formal peer to peer safety support networks and is designed to make prevention an integral part of health and community services workplaces in Nova Scotia. The COSP program recognizes organizations that make the prevention of workplace injuries and illnesses a daily habit by building it into their current management systems. It is based on the premise that an integrated workplace health and safety program will promote organizational excellence. A standardized HSMS is an integrated set of organizational elements involved in a continuous cycle of planning, implementation, evaluation and continual improvement, directed toward the reduction of occupational hazards in the workplace.


Soteria LogoNova Scotia’s District Health Authorities and the IWK, Workers Compensation Board of Nova Scotia, and AWARE-NS, the Nova Scotia Health and Community Services Safety Association have partnered on this shared agenda for change. This work has the potential to improve safety within the health system and we believe it will significantly improve the health and well-being of health care workers. This partnership helps all to work in collaboration to support the goal of lowering workplace injuries in health care, helping to ensure more people return home safely at the end of each workday. A safe environment for our workers helps ensure a safe environment for patients, clients, residents, and their families – it benefits us all.
In Greek mythology, Soteria was the Goddess of safety and preservation from harm. Soteria strategies will be focused on improving our culture in healthcare—promoting a culture of safety and well-being for all.
Soteria Strains is focused on musculoskeletal injury prevention (strains and sprains). In 2011, almost 80 percent of all time loss claims reported to the Workers’ Compensation Board of Nova Scotia (WCB) by health care workers were musculoskeletal injuries (Strains) and more than 50% of these Strains were the linked to some type of manual lift or transfer task (WCB NS, April 2011).

NEW Documentation

The Soteria Strains Working Group has released two new research reports that were prepared by the Nova Scotia health Research Foundation on their behalf.
Musculoskeletal Injury Tracking and Prevention – Jurisdictional Review: Key Informant Interview Analysis
Musculoskeletal Injury Tracking and Prevention – Jurisdictional Review: Literature Review

Perception Survey

Pink CrossOne goal of Soteria Strains is to define a baseline for the cultural environment and possible opportunities and barriers to the success and sustainability of the project. A Perception Survey has been created with this goal in mind. The purpose of the Soteria perception survey is to assist in identifying barriers and drivers for safe lift, transfer and repositioning activities.
A thorough review of current evidence based practice identified eleven key elements to successful safe patient lifting, transferring and repositioning programs. This evidence guided the selection of categories and specific items for the perception survey. For example, evidence based practice clearly supports the use of lift equipment, therefore there are items to identify beliefs, attitudes, and reported behaviours towards various aspects of equipment use. The Survey is designed to be administered in 15-20 minutes in either an online or paper format.
Healthcare Professionals – Take Survey


Green CrossOur Soteria Strains Provincial Working Group did an amazing amount of research to bolster the front end of this strategy. This work is presented in two informative white papers below.
These are great resources and enough for most to consider themselves armed and ready to rollout a province wide health work place injury prevention program. But, not Soteria Strains. The Soteria strategy values the voice of the health care workers and patients most impacted by such a program. With research in hand, we are now asking the people that matter about their needs and what they think will make a successful patient handling (any activity that is involved with moving or assisting patients such as lifts, transfers, turns and repositions) program.
Evidence Based Practices
Business Case Rationale
Learn More

invitedAs part of the development of the Human Pathogens and Toxins Act (HPTA) program and regulatory framework, the Public Health Agency of Canada is conducting research and analysis to identify areas of potential overlap and duplication with existing provincial and territorial (P/T) programs, including workplace health and safety and the accreditation of medical and diagnostic laboratories.

This information will allow the Agency to identify areas where there may be opportunities to collaborate with P/Ts to support the full implementation of the HPTA. This consultation will provide OHS regulators and professionals with an overview of the Agency’s preliminary research findings as a starting point for Federal/Provincial/Territorial dialogue.

The consultation will take place Wednesday, March 20, 2:30-3:45pm at the Seaport Room in the Westin Nova Scotian hotel in Halifax. The consultation is NOT part of the regular program for Safety Services NS 31st Annual HSE Conference and Safety Showcase (March 20-21, 2013).

You’re invited to participate in this consultation (limit 2 persons per organization).

Please RSVP to Cheryllynn Walsh, Safety Services Nova Scotia, by Friday, March 8. 902-454-9621, x233 or [email protected]

Admission (for this event only) is a badge which can be picked up at the conference registration desk, just above the Westin Lobby floor, on Wednesday, March 20. Conference staff will provide directions to the consultation room.