Shifting the Culture of Workplace Health and Safety
Health care professionals are a key pillar of the Canadian health care system; they are essential members of society who ensure the delivery of high quality, effective, and efficient care to all. However, many health care workers regularly face barriers and risk exposures that can significantly impact their own health and safety in the workplace.
Several key policy papers have identified a disproportionately high rate of absenteeism among nurses due to injury, mental illness, and physical health.1, 2 A study for Health Canada conducted by the Canadian Policy Research Networks highlighted the poor working conditions faced by health care workers, noting that “nurses benefit from few supports and are exposed to physical assault and emotional abuse.” 3 These trends have been linked to a decline in quality of patient care, and an increase in adverse events and poor patient outcomes, thus highlighting the growing need to:
- Develop, design, and implement programs and services that provide improved support and education to health care providers.
- Implement early recognition and intervention strategies.
- Shift to a safety culture (as opposed to a culture of “blame and shame”).
- Ensure organizational and senior leadership support in creating a high-quality, safe workplace.
1 Canadian Nursing Advisory
2 Torgerson, Renee. (2007) Not there Yet: Improving the Working Conditions for Canadian Nurses. Office of Nursing Policy Health Canada.
3 Torgerson, Renee. (2007) Not there Yet: Improving the Working Conditions for Canadian Nurses. Office of Nursing Policy Health Canada.