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CSSE Professional Development Conference Wrap-Up

DriverCheck had the pleasure of meeting hundreds of dedicated safety professionals at the Canadian Society of Safety Engineering’s Professional Development Conference in Calgary September 14-17th. Thanks to the CSSE for putting on a great event with informative sessions and thanks to all who visited our booth! If you missed our “injured” bread men, catch us at the next show.

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While delegates gladly walked away with our cookies, here were our takeaways from this year’s show:

Hot topics in health and safety: Mandatory age-related medicals, medical marijuana, and fatigue

Dr. Barry Kurtzer is a regular speaker at the CSSE conference. This year he presented Occupational Health Care: Successful Strategies for Successful Outcomes in a Complex World, addressing hot topics in health and safety to a packed room at the conference on Monday, September 15th. Dr. Kurtzer’s talk highlighted the benefits of workplace medical services, including compliance and reduced costs. He also examined the challenges an aging workforce faces and asked the question, is one workplace medical during the life cycle of a worker really enough? If medicals are required more frequently for certain commercial drivers, especially as they age, why would safety sensitive positions be any different? Statistics show occupational illnesses and injuries are most prominent among the 45-54 age group in Canada.

During his talk Dr. Kurtzer also addressed synthetic marijuana and the challenges presented in detecting the compounds that make up this type of drug. And given medical marijuana was a much talked about issue at this conference, Dr. Kurtzer advised his audience that automatic job termination without a case by case review could result in human rights complaints or other legal consequences. Dr. Kurtzer also emphasized the importance of dealing with this issue through an approach that balances human rights with safety requirements. His session coincided with the unveiling of DriverCheck’s new service, Medical Marijuana @ Work.

Survey: Personal protective equipment, training for young workers, and fatigue among the challenges facing employers today

This year’s conference provided us with the opportunity to chat with you about the most prevalent issues you face in trying to maintain a healthy and safe work environment. Thank you for providing us with your feedback – it helps us ensure we continue to stay on top of industry developments and provide our clients with the services they need most!

This year many of you told us the most common occupational illnesses in your workplace are hearing loss and asbestosis and the most common workplace injuries are those that involve the back and rotator cuff. Other issues employers face today include ensuring the safety of young workers on site through proper training, managing contractors effectively, steroid use, managing fatigue, problems with the use of personal protective equipment, and medicinal marijuana.

An update on random testing

We may know more next month about the future of random testing in Canada’s unionized workplaces. During their session, Random Drug and Alcohol Testing – The SCC Irving Decision One Year Later, Loretta Bouwmeester and Christina Halle from Fasken Martineau DuMoulin told the audience the Suncor case is expected to go before the Court of Queen’s Bench in Alberta during the third week of October.

In March, the majority of a 3-member Alberta Arbitration Board ruled that a random testing standard for unionized Suncor employees in safety sensitive positions at its operations in the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo (RMWB) “in its present form” was unreasonable.

In the ruling, the majority appeared to raise the standard from the requirement of a “general” problem with alcohol or drugs as defined in the Irving decision to a “significant” problem. Suncor reported 149 positive post-incident tests over a 10-year period in which it could not be ruled out that alcohol and drugs were a factor. The company also recorded over 2,200 security incidents related to alcohol and drugs between 2004 and 2013.

Suncor appealed the Board’s decision to the Court of Queen’s Bench, and many unionized employers who do not currently have a random testing program in place are watching this case closely, waiting for the outcome before determining how to proceed. We will be following the developments ourselves and will keep our clients informed of any updates.