Continuous advancements in medical research and technology and newly dynamic work environments have made the healthcare industry an exciting place to work. However, the very nature of the healthcare industry means that frontline workers are often exposed to challenges and issues such as workplace violence, chronic mental stress and musculoskeletal disorders.
According to the Association of Workers’ Compensation Boards of Canada, the healthcare industry accounted for 19% of total national injury claims in 2015. Considering healthcare and social services make up 13% of the Canadian labour market, recognizing, assessing and controlling occupational risks and hazards in healthcare organizations is of the utmost importance. The magnitude of the healthcare field also provides a challenge – how do you provide effective support and information to such a large and widespread audience?
It is unsurprising, therefore, that companies such as PSHSA are responding to the challenge by turning to technological innovation. In the past year, PSHSA has partnered with Focus21, a local software innovation company, to take an innovative approach to the ongoing issue of workplace violence in healthcare. With the help of Focus21, PSHSA launched www.workplace-violence.ca – an interactive platform aimed at providing healthcare organizations with a consensus-based approach to workplace violence prevention. “We love partnering with organizations to co-create innovative software solutions that have positive impacts on the day-to-day lives of people” explains Jeff Aramini, President of Focus21. “We rarely see this co-creation approach in public sector projects. The energy and openness to new ideas that PSHSA brought to the project, and the trust that they showed in our ability to deliver were paramount to the project’s success.”
First Responders First – an online toolkit for building and maintaining comprehensive PTSD prevention programs – has been one of PSHSA’s most innovative achievements to date. Available at www.firstrespondersfirst.ca, the platform helps to identify when a first responder might have a problem, where to seek help, and best practices for employers. The success of First Responders First within the first responder community has encouraged PSHSA to expand the initiative to nurses and other frontline healthcare workers.
PSHSA is seeing a great deal of success using the technological approach to enhance occupational health and safety awareness and reduce workplace injuries. With the introduction of www.workplace-violence.ca, www.firstrespondersfirst.ca and ongoing collaboration with innovative partners, performance data is showing that tech solutions are providing greater accessibility to information, as well as increasing awareness of systemic workplace issues. Greater awareness and accessibility allows employers to enhance their self-reliance when it comes to health and safety management, and allows workers to gain access to vital information and much-needed support.
The healthcare system’s greatest asset are the individuals who dedicate their careers to the wellbeing and care of others. With the healthcare industry constantly improving and innovating, occupational health and safety needs to improve and innovate with it. By adopting innovative, creative and collaborative approaches, it is possible to work towards creating safer workplaces, eliminating workplace hazards and reducing the total number of injuries ever closer to zero.