Saturday, April 11, 2009

Workplace injuries cost Cdn. economy millions

The high cost of workplace injuries due to ergonomics ...

"Companies can save millions of dollars and workers can save their sick days just by adopting more ergonomic work spaces, Canada's labour minister says.

"Workplace injuries create significant costs that add to the operating costs of businesses," Rona Ambrose said yesterday in Moncton.

Ambrose visited the UPS finance and accounting centre in downtown Moncton as part of a national speaking tour on the topic of safer workplaces. She chose UPS, she said, because of its leading-edge approach to workplace safety and accident avoidance.

Accidents, workplace bullying and repetitive-strain injuries are a burden on the economy, on companies and on workers, she said. "It doesn't have to happen."

Bad ergonomics alone account for about 90,000 lost-time injuries every year, she said to cite an example of the seriousness of the issue.

UPS employees tackle safety via a health-and-safety committee that meets every day, Dan Shea, vice-president of human resources for UPS Canada, said during Ambrose's visit.

Having Ambrose as a guest was not just a nice recognition of how the company takes safety issues seriously, Shea said, but serves as a reminder to constantly try to do better.

"It gives us an opportunity to talk about our own positive workplace practices as well," Shea said.

Ambrose promoted her own department as a good source of information for firms looking to reduce injuries among employees, eliminate violence in the workplace or increase the cultural, ethnic or linguistic diversity of their staff.

Employers under federal jurisdiction nowadays are required to have policies to prevent violence at work, evaluate the potential for violence at work, investigate reports of violence and assess their anti-violence policies every three years.

Data released in 2007 shows that 17 per cent of self-reported incidents of violence happened at work, ranging from robberies to sexual assaults.

The department is also combatting workplace racism through a $13-million Racism-Free Workplace Strategy that is educational in nature, with nine racism-prevention officers helping employers tackle the issue."    (Continued via timestranscript.com, James Foster)    [Ergonomics Resources]

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