Development of the action plan for the health and community services sectors has hit a milestone. After months of research, best practice review, and consultations, the latest phase of the project – working groups – has concluded. To mark this significant engagement with project stakeholders, a symposium was held.
It’s hard to believe, but development of the Workplace Safety Action Plan for Nova Scotia’s Health and Community Services Sectors started over one year ago. What a year it has been!
We began the planning process in 2016 with research into best practices, a literature and document review, as well as interviews with key OHS experts. We then launched an extensive stakeholder engagement process that included in-person consultations, focus groups, and an online survey, in which over 1,200 stakeholders participated.
These two reports set the foundation for the next major stage of the project – working groups. In early 2017, five working groups were established: safe handling and mobility; workplace violence; slips, trips, and falls; mental health and wellness; and stay-at-work/return-to-work. Over 90 people representing the health and community services sectors provided strategic advice and recommendations through this stage. To mark the conclusion of this significant engagement, a symposium was held that brought all project stakeholders together.
There is still much work to come however, and the next few months will be critical in development of the final plan. The Project Steering Committee will come together in August to review and prioritize the recommended actions from the working groups. A draft action plan will be presented to the Project Sponsors and once approved, it will be ready to be considered by the Department of Health and Wellness.
We know that the face of workplace safety is changing, and it’s not just about hardhats, work boots, or fall arrest harnesses. While those are still critical, that equipment doesn’t protect care workers from the hazards they face daily.
Safety considerations are different when a workplace is also where someone lives. We need to find a way to encourage safer outcomes and reduce the injury rate in health and community services. Safety must be made a priority in each and every organization.
Working in the care sectors isn’t simple, and there are no easy solutions to improving safety outcomes. But the safety conversation is just beginning, and with the right people at the table, I’m confident we’ll be able to produce a long-term action plan that will make a positive difference. From government and organized labour, to employers and front-line workers, we are all united to achieve this goal.
Project Lead and AWARE-NS Executive Director
Over the past two years, AWARE-NS has led work with three government departments, organized labour, employers, and WCB Nova Scotia to develop a workplace safety report to improve health and safety outcomes in home care, long term care, and disability support program sectors.
With best practice research, an extensive stakeholder engagement process, and the dedication and strategic advice of working group participants, a report has been finalized that sets out 21 recommendations to improve safety outcomes in these sectors, Charting the Course: Workplace Safety for Nova Scotia’s Home Care, Long term Care & Disability Support Sectors.
On June 26, partners and stakeholders from across the sectors came together at an event to acknowledge and recognize the contributions of those essential in the development of the report and recommendations.
This is a huge milestone.
The recommendations in the report will help move the sectors towards safer workplaces, better practices, lower premiums, and improved quality of care for all Nova Scotians. Their implementation will depend on the continued long-term commitment, leadership, and accountability from all stakeholders.
At the stakeholder event, we also showcased an awareness video which tells the compelling human story of why workplace safety in these sectors is important. Because behind every time-loss statistic and number is a person who was hurt at work, and a life that was thrown out of balance.
This multi-stakeholder project has emphasized the importance of collaboration and open conversation between partners.
This is the second time sector-specific stakeholders have come together to impact and change safety outcomes for workers in Nova Scotia. By applying that same focus, tailored to the needs and reality of the care sectors, we hope to see tangible safety benefits for workers across the province.
The next steps will be setting out immediate action areas and developing the five-year action plan, which will detail a work plan and scorecard for each of the recommendations in the report and assign accountability for implementation.
By identifying clear goals and the means by which to reach them, we will be able to build real safety culture change in Nova Scotia’s health and disability support program sectors.
Thank you for your ongoing dedication and commitment to this important work!
In order to inform development of the Workplace Safety Action Plan, Research Power Incorporated was engaged to conduct an environmental scan, as well as a review of the current state of workplace health and safety in Nova Scotia’s health and community services sectors. The result was a comprehensive report, Workplace Health and Safety in the Health and Community Services Sectors: Evidence-based Best Practices and Assessment of Current State in Nova Scotia.
Click here to read the two-page Executive Summary, and click here to read the full report. (PDF documents)
Workplace Safety Action Plan consultation sessions with front-line care workers and managers/supervisors were held in November and December, and we are now collecting more feedback using an on-line survey. If you weren’t able to attended on of our face-to-face consultation sessions, we want to hear from you! Click here to take this brief, 10 minute survey.
The objective? To develop a five-year action plan to improve health and safety with a focus on employees working in publicly-funded home care, long-term care, and community services organizations.