Occupational Health & Safety
Flu and You (November 2016)
It's that time of year again - employers and Alberta Public Health are asking Albertans, especially health-care workers, to roll up their sleeves and get immunized against influenza.
This year many health-care employers are started their employee immunization campaign on October 11 while the public vaccine was available on October 24.
Health-care workers have many options to get immunized, including immunization clinics offered by the employer and public clinics offered in community health centres. The immunization is also available at doctors’ offices and pharmacies giving those who wish to be immunized convenient opportunities to do so.
While research differs on the level of protection offered by the vaccine, multiple studies have demonstrated that it is safe and effective at reducing the transmission of influenza to staff from patients and from staff to patients.
Effectiveness of the vaccine does vary from year to year and it is difficult to predict how effective a vaccine will be in any given year.
HSAA has a formal position statement supporting health-care worker immunization as a way of protecting our membership from infectious diseases that they may be exposed to in the workplace; however, our position states that any immunization must be voluntary and health-care workers should not be forced or bullied into accepting a vaccine.
Additional methods of reducing your chances of catching influenza or a similar illness include:
Frequent hand washing;
Use of gowns and eye protection; and
Taking care of yourself such as reducing fatigue and eating healthy meals.
Employers may have the right to send unvaccinated members home without pay if they are working on a unit where an influenza outbreak has been declared by the Medical Officer of Health. However, circumstances where this is permitted is relatively rare.
If your manager is mentioning potential consequences of not getting Immunized, you should contact your HSAA LRO. If you do get your immunization at a doctor's office or pharmacy, it is important to notify your employer. Most employers have a form you can submit.
Alberta has one of the highest rates of voluntary health-care worker Influenza immunization in the country, with HSAA members being one of the groups with the highest immunization rates.
We know HSAA members have done their part in the past and want to encourage members to continue to protect themselves and their patients from influenza.
If you have questions or comments, please contact Ray Geldreich at 1-844-280-4722 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
HSAA’s objective is to have our members return home safe to their respective families, each and every day. HSAA has a Health & Safety Advisor who helps to educate members and lobby various levels of government to ensure this happens. Our Health & Safety Advisor, Ray Geldreich, is a Canadian Registered Safety Professional, with an extensive background in the health-care industry and would be happy to assist you with any safety or risk-related questions or concerns.
OH&S IS EVERYONE'S RESPONSIBILITY!
The Occupational Health and Safety Act outlines the basic obligations of employers and workers.
Employers must ensure, as far as reasonably practicable, that they protect the health and safety of:
their employees; and
employees of other employers who may be present at the work site.
take reasonable care to protect the health and safety of themselves and other workers; and
co-operate with their employer to protect the health and safety of themselves and other workers.
With this in mind, we have created this section to provide an overview of the information you will need to fulfill your obligation as a worker and to be an effective OH&S representative for HSAA. Here you will find information on Hazard Assessments, workplace inspections, joint occupational health and safety committees, quick links to useful websites, and articles and various tools to increase your OH&S knowledge.
The series of best practice guidelines for improving health and safety in the health-care industry is now complete with the release of the fifth volume Control of Psychological Hazards and an interactive eLearning Awareness program.
The series was developed by Alberta Human Services through its Work Safe Alberta strategy and the Healthcare Industry Health and Safety Initiative, in conjunction with government, industry and labour associations. It is aimed at helping employers and workers in health-care settings understand the basic principles of occupational health and safety requirements of the OH&S legislation.
The series covers a variety of hazards, from slippery floors and contaminated needles to heavy lifts and violence. The ultimate goal of the guides and eLearning program is to help employers and employees identify hazards and to provide methods that can be utilized to eliminate or mitigate the potential impact on workers and the work environment.
[Click here for Alberta Human Services Healthcare webpage.]
Volume 1: Overview of Best Practice
Volume 2: Control of Biological Hazards
Volume 3: Control of Chemical Hazards
Volume 5: Control of Psychological Hazards
Phone 780-488-0168 or email us if you have any occupational health and safety issues or concerns.
Were you able to take advantage of the 2014 HSAA Labour Relations Conference?
Whether you were there or not, you can still access some of the presentations featured at the event. This year, the focus was on Occupational Health and Safety.
Video: Young Workers Rights - Eye on Safety presented by CCOHS (Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety)
Click here for available presentations from the 2014 HSAA Labour Relations Conference (members must be logged in to their HSAA web account to access this content).