News

Now Available to Watch Online Launch of Communities are Partners Report!

If you missed OHC’s online launch of the report “Communities Are Partners” about our Cross Cultural Community Development Program by Dorothy Wigmore, you can now watch it online!

You can also read the report on our website: Communities Are Partners Report as well as a background document, both prepared by Dorothy Wigmore.

Report on OHC’s Cross Cultural Community Development Program now available!

Communities are Partners: Workers Occupational Health and Safety Rights with Newcomers by Dorothy Wigmore documents the history and impact of the OHC’s work with newcomer and migrant communities and makes recommendations. A background companion report features a related literature review.

Find them both on the Cross Cultural Community Development Page of OHC’s website!

You can also watch the online launch of the report here with author Dorothy Wigmore, OHC’s Cross Cultural Community Advisory Committee member Martha Chicas,  Community Trainer Arek Manyang and Karen Hamilton, Program Coordinator.

 

Face Coverings Required at OHC

OHC is now requiring that clients wear a mask or face covering for the duration of your time at OHC. Our staff will also be wearing masks. A mask can be home-made, a scarf or handkerchief. If you don’t have one available, please let our staff know and we will provide one for you. If you have any questions or concerns about this, please give us a call at 204-949-0811.

Ventilation Resources for Workplaces to Prevent Transmission of COVID-19

Emerging research suggests that it is likely that SARS-CoV-2 can be transmitted through the air. Workplaces should control airborne exposure to the virus through changes to ventilation systems to reduce airborne exposures.

Our website now has a list of resources and readings to help workplaces understand and prevent the transmission of COVID-19 by improving indoor air quality!

Ventilation Resources

The OHC has a new space – and a new face!

 

After 30 years at the Union Centre, the MFL Occupational Health Centre is moving. This summer, the OHC will join Klinic Community Health and the Sexuality Education Resource Centre (SERC) at a new hub at 167 Sherbrook Street. The building, formerly home of Epic IT Solutions, is undergoing an extensive renovation to accommodate the three community health clinics and will provide ample space for community connection and collaboration.

The MFL Occupational Health Centre was formed in 1983 by Dick Martin, then president of the Manitoba Federation of Labour, who saw a gap in health care to meet the needs of workers and provide quality, accessible, and comprehensive services on workplace health and safety.

Today, OHC is a community health centre specializing in workplace health and safety. A non-profit, charitable organization, OHC is funded by the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority, along with grants from the Worker’s Compensation Board, the Federal Government, and individual and Union contributions. OHC helps workers, employers, and joint health and safety committees to improve workplace health and safety conditions and eliminate hazards. Services are available free of charge, and include a medical clinic, workplaces services, and education and outreach to workers and workplaces.

The move to 167 Sherbrook, along with Klinic and SERC, will provide OHC with more space from which to assist workers. OHC maintains a library on health and safety – one of the largest in Western Canada – and the new space will also encompass a training centre within the OHC office, as well as access to several other training sites across the building, supporting more health and safety workshops in the community. The move will promote cross-agency collaboration and knowledge-sharing and provide opportunities for further partnerships and services.

With an exciting new space on the horizon, it was also time to update the look of the centre to carry OHC in to its next phase. OHC’s new tapestry logo represents the four intersecting service pillars of OHC – medical care; cross-cultural community development; education, training, and outreach; and our resource centre. The logo features prominently on the new facade of 167 Sherbrook, and is the first step in a refreshed face – be on the lookout for a brand new website in the next few months, with several practical health and safety tools and resources for your workplace.

The MFL Occupational Health Centre has been there for workers for over 35 years and will continue to be the source for worker-centred health and safety training and care. From helping joint health and safety committees, providing individual workers with primary care and system navigation support, and  presenting innovative approaches to psychological health and safety in the workplace, OHC will continue to evolve and expand into the next phase.

New Resources for Workers in the Pandemic

New Resources from OHC now available for Workers working through the pandemic. Click below to access information sheets for:

More information on protecting workers and ensuring safer workplaces during the pandemic is available on our COVID-19 page.

Using your Right to Refuse during COVID-19

During the COVID-19 Pandemic, many workers may be feeling unsafe in their work environment and unsure of their rights within this new context. OHC hosted a virtual presentation with panelists Blaine Duncan, Safety and Health Specialist with MGEU, and Bernie Wood, Health and Safety Activist formerly with United Steelworkers and the Canadian Labour Congress, discuss worker’s rights and how and when to use your right to refuse unsafe work during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Please see the recording on OHC’s Youtube page.

Job Opportunity: Occupational Health Nurse (EFT 0.6)

Occupational Health Centre is seeking an Occupational Health Nurse to fill a 0.6EFT position.

Integrating applicable knowledge and experience using community and occupational health principles to address health and safety challenges, the OHN primarily works to remove or mitigate workplace hazards, prevent illness and injury, and implement evidence-based solutions at the organizational/systems level.

The ideal candidate will have strong interpersonal communication skills, advanced critical thinking, and robust cross-cultural competencies.

Occupational Health Centre (OHC) is a worker-centered community health centre committed to ensuring that workers’ health is always our main priority. OHC is committed to providing accessible services and programs for all workers in Manitoba and to reducing barriers workers experience in their workplaces. We recognize that workers are diverse and have particular needs according to their gender, language, culture, religion, sexual orientation, physical or mental ability, economic status, level of education, and immigration status, and are committed to respecting and accommodating these differences appropriately.

Full job posting located here.

Please apply by email, with subject line Application for OHN, by June 12, 2020 to:
Carly Nicholson, Executive Director | cnicholson@mflohc.mb.ca

Protecting Workers’ Mental Health During COVID-19

To view a PDF version of this information, please click HERE.

Employers in Manitoba are legally responsible for protecting the health and well- being of their employees, including their psychological health.

Hazards to workers’ mental health during the pandemic may include:

  • Increased work demands, especially for essential workers
  • Worry over the risk of becoming infected with the COVID-19 virus
  • Risk of violence from stressed customers or patients
  • Harassment or bullying due to stigma from being suspected of having COVID-19 or being exposed to someone suspected of having COVID-19
  • Isolation, especially for those working at home
  • Low support without the physical presence of coworkers and supervisors, or due to increased work demands that divert attention away from providing support to workers
  • Rapid and poorly planned organizational changes to respond to address the needs and/or effects of COVID-19
  • Concern about job security and possible layoffs

 

Guidelines for workplaces

Safety First 

Take proactive measures to protect workers and limit their exposure to the COVID-19 virus. This includes implementing physical barriers between workers and the public, social distancing protocols, increased cleaning in the environment, and supplying adequate hand washing/sanitizing supplies and facilities.  Make sure workers feel comfortable to raise concerns about their safety and make every effort to address these concerns.

Address disrespectful behavior, harassment, bullying, and threats of violence in accordance with the organization’s Respectful Workplace Policy as well as the Violence Prevention and Harassment Prevention policies required by law in all workplaces. Inform all workplace stakeholders that discrimination on account of illness or perceived illness is a violation of the Human Rights Code.

Be Flexible

Do not expect the same volume of work from workers as is normally accomplished. Be prepared to adjust deadlines and workloads. This is not “business as usual”. Most workers will be experiencing stress on multiple fronts such as planning for reduced grocery trips to meet basic needs, care for children who are at home from daycare and school, concern for elderly family members, and caring for ill family members when needed.

Be flexible with working schedules. Allow workers to change or request certain shifts to accommodate their other obligations. Understand that workers working from home may start earlier or work later than usual and that schedules may fluctuate irregularly.

Increase Workers’ Control

Ask and listen to workers’ ideas and input into changes on how work is done due to COVID-19. Workers know their jobs and often have the best ideas on how things can be done more safely or done differently in a new environment. Check in with workers to evaluate the impact of changes implemented. Be prepared to adjust as needed.

Provide Support

Supervisors should regularly check in with workers individually about how they are feeling, at least once a week. Many people are experiencing anxiety, fear and stress at this time. Employers should recognize that workers are human beings and prioritize their well-being over the work itself.

Build in regular opportunities for your team to connect, even virtually by using video or phone conference calls.

Increase communication about organizational issues. Send regular email updates to make sure everyone is abreast of developments in a rapidly changing environment. Make sure to respond promptly to any emails or phone calls from workers about their concerns related to safety, workload, expectations, or how they are managing.

Encourage workers to take regular breaks and to stop work at their regular end time and on their regular days off

Provide workers with information about what they are entitled to if they become ill or need to assume caregiving responsibilities.

Regularly remind workers about mental health resources available to them, including an Employee Assistance Program if one is available in your workplace.

Communicate any information about possible layoffs clearly and promptly. Share your assessment of the likelihood of layoffs and the organization’s hopes for the future, but don’t promise what you might not be able to deliver. Create a plan if layoffs are necessary that includes future return to work. Provide information and support to workers to access income benefits if facing unemployment.

 

Additional Resources

SAFE Work Manitobaresources to help you start or maintain a psychological health and safety program in your workplace.

Centre for Addiction & Mental Health – information and FAQs on mental health & COVID-19 including Coping with Stress & Anxiety, Quarantine & Isolation, and Stigma & prejudice.

Mental Health Virtual Therapy Program– AbilitiCBT, a new free & confidential digital therapy program available to all Manitobans experiencing low to mid symptoms of anxiety due to the pandemic.

Anxiety Disorders Association of Manitoba has a list of local counselling resources available in Winnipeg and are running a COVID-19 anxiety ‘warm line’ where you can call 204-925-0040 and leave a message to be returned in a short period of time.

Best Practices for At-Home Ergonomics

To view a PDF version of this information, please click HERE.

Many of us are suddenly working from home, in less than ideal circumstances. To avoid work becoming a (literal) pain in the neck, use these strategies to ensure your at-home-workstation is as ergonomically correct as possible.

Wherever you’re sitting, whether it’s an office chair or kitchen chair, make sure that:

  • You have adequate back support so the ears are in line with the shoulders and hips.
    • If not, try adjusting your chair (if possible) or adding a pillow to act as a lumbar support for your lower back.
  • Your shoulders are relaxed and level when keyboarding and using the mouse.
    • If not, raise/lower your chair or work surface height – try using books to prop up monitor screens or your laptop if you’re using an external keyboard. Consider using your ironing board as a height-adjustable desk!
  • Your hands are in line or slightly lower than your elbows.
    • If not, try folding a small towel to use as a wrist rest along the length of your keyboard.
  • Your arms are relaxed and your wrists are in a neutral/straight position (not up, down, or to one side).
    • If not, try the homemade wrist-rest as above.
    • Make sure your wrists are at the same level and as close to the keyboard as possible.
    • Adjust your chair height, if possible.
    • Align your keyboard, monitor, and chair in a straight line.
  • Your thighs are parallel to the floor and your knees are at the same height as your hips.
    • If not, try raising your chair (if possible) or adding a footrest – use books or old binders.
  • You have adequate space beneath your work surface to move legs.
    • If not, remove any objects under your work space.
  • Your documents and equipment are positioned correctly.
    • Keep frequently used items at the 10 and 2 o’clock positions and avoid reaching across your body.
    • Position your computer screen with your eyes naturally hitting the top of the screen, and reduce glare and brightness by adjusting your blinds and overhead lights. Use a task lamp if available; shine it away from the monitor.

Extra tips:

  • If you’re working at home on a laptop, see if you can bring your external keyboard and mouse from your workplace, or even your monitor if allowed. This will give you more flexibility in your at-home work space.
  • If your workstation is not ideal, try to vary your tasks so you’re not in the same position and posture all day; take frequent mini-breaks and get up and move around! Try standing or pacing when taking phone calls.
  • Try to set up an area that is dedicated to work that you can leave at the end of the day.

OHC’s Ergonomist, Andrew Dolhy, gave a webinar presentation to Prairie members of the Public Service Alliance of Canada. Please visit the PSAC website to view the video and get access to further resources on the best at-home ergonomic practices

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Dec 1st OHC Free Virtual Public Presentation - Remote Work and Mental Health: Harnessing Psychosocial Factors that Heal Rather than Fragment Workplaces

Date:
Dec 01, 2020 | 9:30 am - 10:30 am

OHC Free Virtual Public Presentation – Remote Work and Mental Health: Harnessing Psychosocial Factors that Heal Rather than Fragment Workplaces

Presented by: Geoffrey Thompson, OHN, Occupational Health Centre

The year 2020 has brought with it a host of rapid, destabilizing changes to workplaces across Canada. Due to ongoing public health restrictions, many workplaces were forced to send many of their staff home to work remotely. The ramifications of these changes on workplace culture, productivity and well-being are only now beginning to be fully understood. Alongside the COVID-19 pandemic, there is an increase in job-related social isolation, disengagement and mental illness and there appears to be no end in sight. What’s required is a careful, intentional joint assessment on the part of employers, workers and stakeholders to fully understand root causes and to acknowledge the degree to which each factor can be controlled. With knowledge comes empowerment and opportunities to learn and grow both personally and organizationally. Join us as we attempt to unravel the complicated web of concerns surrounding “remote work” and identify where we can target our efforts to improve the health and wellbeing of all workers.

In this session we will:

  • Dive into the myriad of challenges related to remote working in 2020 – the good, the bad, and the barely tolerable
  • Describe psychosocial factors that may contribute to negative outcomes associated with remote working especially those leading to poor mental health
  • Identify personal strategies that will help to reframe, rethink and react constructively during periods of crisis and sudden change
  • Build on group/organizational strategies that promote psychological support and compassion in the workplace

Register your attendance by Nov 27th, clicking this link: Register Dec 1st Session

The login information for the session will be sent out after your registration.