OHC to Facilitate Workshops in the The Pas: 2016 MFL Health and Safety Conference

This years MFL Health and Safety Conference will be held in The Pas Oct 27-28 and the OHC staff have been asked to facilitate two courses looking at different health and safety issues facing workers in their workplaces. This year Geoffrey Thompson RN will be following up on the OHC course presented last year on implementation of the CSA Workplace Health and Safety Standards into workplaces while Andrew Dolhy will be working with participants to identify, assess and control ergonomic hazards within the context of regulations and other governmental statutes. The OHC is excited to continue to work with affiliates from across Manitoba and we look forward to seeing you there.

The MFL Health and safety Conference is directly organized by the Manitoba Federation of Labour for its affiliates. If you are a member and are interested in this conference please contact your local for more information. HSConference-GuidetoWorkshops-FINAL

Occupational Health Centre received Recognition for the Manitoba Legislature in the Member’s Statement

Occupational Health Centre (OHC) Executive Director Mike Kelly and Board Chair Kevin Rebeck were at the Manitoba Legislation Building in the morning of July 14th, the OHC received recognition for the Manitoba Legislature for its commitment to Manitoba workers and for its Workplace Health and safety services and programs.

Thanks to MLA Tom Lindsay for making this Member Statement.  Watch Tom deliver the full statement at




OHC Annual General Meeting

OHC’s Annual General Meeting was held on June 29, 2016. Claudia Colocho, OHC’s Project Coordinator for the project “First Language Health & Safety Training for Newcomers” in the Westman region shared the exciting results being achieved for food processing workers involved in this project.

OHC AGM 2016 014


Thanks to all for attending our AGM this year!

OHC Team participates in the Steps for Life Walk 2016


OHC’s team participated in the Steps for Life Walk at Kildonan Park on Sunday, May 1 with family, friends and dogs! Walking for Canadian families who have suffered as a result of a workplace tragedy.

Steps for Life – Walking for Families of Workplace Tragedy is a fun 5km charity walk to raise funds for Threads of Life, an organization which dedicates its time and effort to supporting families which have been affected by the aftermath of serious workplace injuries, illnesses and fatalities.

For more information go to


Join the OHC Team: Now hiring a .7 Nurse

The OHC is hiring a .7 EFT nurse with knowledge and drive in the areas of occupational health and safety and is committed to helping workers get home safely every day. We’re looking for an energetic and thoughtful person to join our team to lead and collaborate in planning education and awareness programs, participate in multidisciplinary research and facilitate workshops and presentations. See the full job posting FULL_OHN Position May2016


OHC delivers first workshop on Exploring the National Standard for Psychological Health & Safety


Our first full day workshop on Psychological Health & Safety & the new National Standard had a great deal of interest from the community and we filled up quickly.

Participants spent the day discussing mental health, stigma, workplace accommodation and learning about the new National Standard on Psychological Health and Safety.

Developed by the Canadian Standards Association (CSA Group) and the Bureau de normalisation du Québec, the Standard is a voluntary set of guidelines, tools and resources focused on promoting employees’ psychological health and preventing psychological harm due to workplace factors. Find more information on the Standard here.

Thanks to all the participants for their helpful feedback as we continue to develop our plans for how to best support workplaces protect the psychological health and safety of their workers.

Very well received session on Psychological Harassment & Bullying

Thank you Dr. Leigh Quesnel delivered a very great informative presentation this morning on Understanding & Managing Psychological Harassment & Bullying.

It was very well received public presentation session, some attendants could only stand in the end of the room for whole session.

Our favourite takeaway: “Bullying is not a personality trait. It is behaviour that is encouraged & unchecked in the workplace.”

Dr. Leigh Quesnel   Dr. Leigh Quesnel -1

Preventing Sprain & Strain Injuries in the Workplace

Workers at Black Cat Blades in Selkirk, Manitoba had up to 180 sprain and strain injuries between 2004-2005. After implementing ergonomic changes, they now only have nine sprain and strain injuries reported by workers in 2015. Black Cat Blades is a company that supplies parts to construction, mining and road maintenance industries.

This dramatic reduction in injuries was achieved over a number of years. Firstly, the workplace health & safety committee was trained to engage in a risk assessment process to identify all risks and hazards in the workplace.

Tools at Black Cat Blades were redesigned to assist workers in moving heavy products with less effort.  New drop floors allowed workers to be at a comfortable and safe working height as illustrated in this photo of a worker on a dropped floor at the Gas Furnace Press.


Next, a physical demands analysis was done on all major production equipment to understand the real demands they were trying to reduce. As a result, sit/stand stools are now available for employees who stand a great deal.  Ergonomic mats were installed at all production lines so workers can stand on a more comfortable surface.  Job rotation is used to reduce the amount of time workers spend doing repetitive work.

Back safety training was delivered to all employees every year. Supervisors were also trained to identify hazards and address concerns.

In Manitoba, there are over 9,000 injuries a year due to sprains, strains and over exertions that cause workers to miss time from work.  These injuries are called musculoskeletal injuries (MSI) and involve muscles, tendons, nerves, arteries and other soft tissues of the body.  They usually start as day to day aches and pains but can increase in severity to the point of becoming chronic and disabling and affecting a person’s job or at home activities.  Sometimes these injuries are difficult to treat which has both a physical and psychological effect on workers.

The risk of developing these injuries can be reduced by designing the  job demands and work conditions to match the capabilities of all workers.  Ergonomics is a field of study that involves designing jobs to fit worker’s strengths and capabilities.  The goal is to make jobs safer, easier, more comfortable, less stressful and performed with efficiency.  Ergonomics can help to prevent musculoskeletal injuries by controlling hazards that are known to cause or aggravate these injuries.Key factors for successfully solving ergonomic related problems include:

-have a structured approach to problem solving
-actively involve workers in the process
-take the time to develop effective solutions

The most effective way to reduce and control the risk of MSIs is to develop a structured approach to identify, assess and solve problem jobs in the short and long term.  This ‘ergonomic program’ approach includes an understanding of MSIs and ergonomic risk factors, gaining management commitment, involving workers, having a breadth of training and education, a system to identify problem jobs and a process to develop and implement solutions.

Worker involvement is key to having a successful ergonomic program.  Workers know their jobs well, can identify the specific issues causing problems, and can usually come up with solutions that will work for them.  The best way to encourage workers to follow safe work practices or to use new equipment is to actively involve them in the identification of hazards, assessment of risk, and the development and implementation of solutions.  Another strategy to encourage workers to use new solutions is to conduct tests of the new process or equipment.  Active participation in identifying the problem, selecting the solution, and evaluating the change before it is fully implemented can greatly minimize workers’ anxiety over change.  Sometimes a great idea on paper does not work as expected.  “New’ is not necessarily better.

The final key to successfully reducing MSI risk is to follow a structured approach to develop and implement an appropriate solution.  There are many examples of workplaces jumping to solutions and then finding out it does not help, workers will not like it, or it costs too much.  By following a structured approach to develop and implement solutions the workplace will make a better solution choice, buy products that fix the root cause of the problem, and gain the acceptance of workers.  A structured approach to solving ergonomic problems includes:

1) Determine solution options
2) Evaluate those options,
3) Implement appropriate solutions
4) Follow up

Some solutions for reducing the risk of MSIs in the workplace include:  providing, positioning and maintaining equipment, developing safe work procedures, implementing work schedules that incorporate rest and recovery periods, changes to workloads or providing personal protective equipment.

When an ergonomics solution is evaluated, a workplace should have both short and long term outcomes.  Does the solution reduce the risk factors in the short term?  Do injuries and pain decrease in workers over the long term?  Again, all aspects of solution development and implementation must involve the affected workers.

Additional resources for ergonomic solutions can be found at the following websites:

This article appears in OHC’s March 2016 edition of “Focus on Occupational Health & Safety” newsletter.

If you live in Manitoba, you can receive a print copy of our newsletter three times per year free of charge.  Please add me to your newsletter mailing list.

RSI Awareness Day Event at OHC

Representatives from seven different workplaces presented highlights of their ergonomics success stories at OHC’s RSI Day Awareness Event on February 29, 2016.

In Manitoba, there are over 9,000 injuries every year due to sprains, strains and over exertion at work that cause workers to miss time from work.

Thanks to Black Cat Blades, Motorcoach, Winnipeg Regional Health Authority, Gypsum Drywall, Manitoba Family Services, Manitoba Public Insurance & SafeWork Manitoba for sharing your experiences reducing repetitive strain injuries in your workplaces!

RSI Day 2016



Workshop on Conflict Resolution for OHC Community Trainers

A group of OHC Community Trainers had the opportunity to learn about Effective Conflict Resolution last night with Sue Hemphill from Healthy Hive Consulting.

Sue shared her very in-depth understanding of conflict and what we need to do to resolve it in a healthy way that built on our lived experience at work and in our communities.

This session is OHC’s annual continuing learning opportunity for our Community Trainers to expand and enrich their understanding of issues that are related to health and safety.




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April 29th Free Public Presentation- Expert Eye: Vision and the Aging Worker

Apr 29, 2021 | 10:00 am - 11:00 am

OHC offers a free virtual public presentation

Expert Eye: Vision and the Aging Worker

Presented by: Marnie Courage, O.T. Reg. (MB)
CEO and Inclusion Specialist
Enabling Access Inc.

This webinar will:

  • Understand the aging demographics and age-related changes related to vision
  • Become familiar with common age-related vision loss conditions
  • Understand impact on worker’s performance, safety and psychological health
  • Discuss environmental considerations for injury prevention related to vision loss
  • Become familiar with administrative, engineering and behavioural accommodations to support employees experiencing vision loss.

Registration required, please register here: REGISTER

 The session time is on Manitoba time (CST) from 10:00 – 11:00 a.m.

You will receive a confirmation email for your registration and the Zoom Login information.