(Originally published in the May 2012 issue of the Nova Scotia Business Journal - "North American Occupational Safety & Health Week" special advertising feature)
New book tackles challenges of SME workplace safety:
A new book co-edited by Saint Mary’s University psychology professor Dr. Kevin Kelloway and Dr. Cary L. Cooper CBE, distinguished professor of Organizational Psychology and Health at Lancaster University in the UK, explores the unique — and largely ignored — challenges of small and medium-sized enterprises when it comes to occupational health and safety issues.
“I’m really happy with the final product and hope that it will encourage others to look at the particular health and safety concerns in small and medium sized enterprises,” says Dr. Kelloway, director of the CN Centre for Occupational Health and Safety and a Canada Research Chair in Occupational Health Psychology. “Often when we are talking about small business, we’re talking about businesses with fewer than 10 employees. These organizations don’t have the time, resources, or expertise to devote exclusively to issues of health and safety. The contributors to our volume were asked to specifically focus on ‘what works’ in these organizations.”
Occupational Health and Safety For Small And Medium Sized Enterprises (2011), covers a full range of topics from traditional safety to workplace violence and psychosocial health. Authored by international experts in the field — including two Saint Mary’s professors (Drs. Arla Day and Mark Fleming) and two graduate students (Natasha Scott and Michael Teed) — the book summarizes existing knowledge, identifies best practices and offers strategies for improving workplace safety.
“Regulatory bodies and researchers often think that what works in big business will be effective in small businesses as well,” says Dr. Kelloway. “In fact, we know this is often not the case.”
Report reveals workplace injury rate has hit a new low:
The number of time-loss injuries in Nova Scotia workplaces has dropped to a new low, the Workers’ Compensation Board of Nova Scotia recently announced in its 2011 annual report.
Last year, 6,616 Nova Scotians suffered a workplace injury that resulted in time lost from work. That represents a 27 per cent decrease since 2005, and a four per cent decrease from 2010.
Meanwhile, assessable payroll, the WCB’s measure for the number of covered workers, has consistently increased. The injury rate — the number of people per 100 covered workers who are seriously injured on the job — is now 2.02, the lowest it’s been since the current measuring format was put in place.
“We’re seeing a safety culture emerge in Nova Scotia and it’s the result of the hard work of many individuals and groups working together with a common goal of making this province a safer place to live and work,” said Stuart MacLean, CEO of the WCB. “Most importantly, it’s the result of employers and workers doing things differently.”
In other encouraging news, the vast majority of workers (95 per cent) were eligible to return to full-time employment after their injury. That means there were 40,391 fewer workdays lost due to injury which is the equivalent of 110 person-years of work.
Despite this progress, there remains much work to do, says MacLean. Tragically, there were 27 workplace fatalities in 2011. Six of those deaths were due to acute incidents in the workplace, while 21 were due to conditions arising from previous exposures, or other health conditions. The number of acute fatalities has been declining in recent years.
“No other statistic presents such a compelling case for continuing to focus on injury prevention in Nova Scotia,” said MacLean. “Our challenge now is to build on our progress to ensure that all workers come home safely to their families at the end of the day.”
College wins Psychologically Healthy Workplace Award:
The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Nova Scotia was one of five recipients across North America to receive the American Psychological Association’s 2012 Psychologically Healthy Workplace Award at a recent national ceremony in Washington, D.C.
This award recognized the college's outstanding initiatives in promoting employee well-being, while maintaining high organizational performance. The college, which won in the not-for-profit category, is a previous winner of the Association of Psychologists of Nova Scotia’s provincial-level Psychologically Healthy Workplace Award, qualifying it to be nominated for the APA award. This program is supported by the Association of Psychologists in Nova Scotia (APNS) and the CN Centre for Occupational Health and Safety at Saint Mary's University.
“It always makes sense to treat employees well,” says Dr. Arla Day, chair of the Psychologically Healthy Workplace Committee in Nova Scotia.
The benefits of a healthy workplace include increased productivity, employee retention, recruiting advantages, enhanced company image and a better workplace atmosphere, as well as workers who are less stressed and happier.
“By recognizing organizations like the college, we not only acknowledge outstanding accomplishments, but we provide the forum for them to share their best practices and to inspire other companies to create healthy practices,” she says.
Some of the healthy workplace initiatives the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Nova Scotia supports include yoga and weight reduction programs, a wellness account to spend on health-related programs and articles, and internal programming to give staff members the skills to achieve their goals and manage work and life responsibilities.
*Read more NAOSH Week stories at: http://www.ns.dailybusinessbuzz.ca/Industry-Spotlight/NAOSH-Week-23618