February 2014

Health & Safety

Diet may help explain shift work-related chronic disease risks: Study

Michael Wirth of the University of South Carolina, Columbia, and colleagues analyzed the relationship between shift work and pro-inflammatory diet using data from a nationwide sample of employed adults. Based on diet questionnaires, the researchers calculated a "dietary inflammatory index" (DII) for each individual. The greater the DII score, the more pro-inflammatory the diet.

With adjustment for other factors, shift workers had an elevated DII, compared to day workers. The difference was significant for rotating shift workers (those who worked varying shifts): average DII 1.07, compared to 0.86 for day workers.

February 28 is international repetitive strain injury awareness day

Each year, the last day of February is reserved for International Strain Injury (RSI) Awareness Day, a day dedicated to RSI education and prevention. February 28, 2014 will mark the 15th Annual RSI Awareness Day.

Repetitive strain injuries, also known as work-related musculoskeletal disorders (WMSDs), is an umbrella term to describe a family of painful disorders affecting tendons, muscles, nerves and joints in the neck, upper and lower back, chest, shoulders, arms and hands. These disorders can be caused by work activities that are frequent and repetitive, or activities with awkward postures.

This missing link: The connection between physical and mental health

Growing awareness—particularly over the last several years—of the significant impact that mental illness has on workplace productivity, employee engagement and organizational budgets has prompted employers to begin developing strategies to encourage mental health in the workplace. The 2013 release of the National Standard of Canada for Psychological Health and Safety in the Workplace by the Mental Health Commission of Canada added further incentive, as well as a voluntary framework for employers to reduce risk and promote mental health. These are certainly positive measures in terms of assisting the one in five Canadians that the Government of Canada estimates will experience a mental health illness in his or her lifetime.

Canada’s off-label drug problem

In January 2014, the Senate’s Standing Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology released its report on the off-label use of prescription drugs in Canada. This report forms the third phase of a four-phase study on prescription drugs in Canada that’s examining clinical trials and medication access, post-approval monitoring of patient safety and drug effectiveness, and the “unintended consequences” of pharmaceuticals.

When Health Canada approves a drug for sale, the drug approval specifies “the population for whom the drug can be prescribed, the indication(s) the drug can treat and the dosage(s) that can be administered.” The prescribing and use of a drug outside of these parameters is deemed “off-label use.”

Employer Should Have Fixed Safety Issue Before Accident, Not After: Safety Fix Did Not Merit Lower Fine

An employer's corrective action taken after an accident did not entitle it to a reduced fine under the Occupational Health and Safety Act because the action should have been taken – and was legally-required – before the accident, the Ontario Court of Appeal has held.

The employer, Flex N-Gate Canada Company, an auto parts producer, was charged with offences under the Occupational Health and Safety Act after a worker broke several bones in her foot when a bundle of metal sheets slipped off a forklift and fell to the floor.

Human Resources

Calculating the consequences of wage inequality

If your organization operates in a Canadian jurisdiction with pay equity legislation, you’re probably familiar with the principle of delivering equal pay for work of equal or comparable value.

That’s a core principle at the heart of the legislation in Ontario and Quebec. Similar requirements exist for federally regulated employers under the Canadian Human Rights Act.

Plenty of reasons to be optimistic

One where employers are struggling to find talent, yet scores of professionals can’t find work. At the recent Human Resources Professionals Association (HRPA) conference in Toronto, I had the opportunity to hear about both ends of the spectrum.

One colleague, fresh back from a trip to the oil sands in Fort McMurray, Alta., spoke of waiting 90 minutes to get breakfast at his hotel because it simply couldn’t find enough staff to work the grills and wait the tables.

Controversy, confusion around workplace accommodation

The issue of accommodation continues to introduce new challenges and complexities to the workplace.

Less than one year ago, the Federal Court of Appeal confirmed childcare obligations must be accommodated in appropriate circumstances. And within the last few weeks, the media has focused on two separate incidents that relate to accommodation in very different ways — we have seen the story out of York University in Toronto where a student requested that he not be made to work in groups with women, as doing so would contravene his religious beliefs.

And we also had the Ontario Medical Association (OMA) discouraging Canadian employers from requiring doctors’ notes in relation to certain workplace absences.

EAP benefit employers, employees: Study

A study commissioned by Arete Human Resources finds that employee assistance programs (EAPs) demonstrate the benefits of EAPs to both employers and employees.

The study, Investigating the Global Value of a Canadian Employee Assistance Program, shows that EAPs improve Canadians’ quality of life, reduce the economic challenges of reduced productivity in the workplace and ease the pressure on the healthcare system.

Why I will continue to hire permanent foreign workers

It’s not easy to find available welders and steel fabricators in Canada, especially with the experience and skills that fit the industries that my company serves. With Alberta as our neighbour, many of the skilled tradespeople left Saskatchewan for more lucrative opportunities in Fort McMurray or Edmonton. Initially I tried recruiting from Ontario, Quebec and the Maritimes, with little success. We just found that most people weren’t willing to leave their hometown and move west leaving family and friends behind.

The overlap between HR and line management

I think many people fail to appreciate how HR includes a lot of the same body of knowledge as general management and leadership. But that shouldn’t be a surprise in a way because according to the old cliché, to some extent every manager is a human resources manager.

In an academic context it’s interesting how business students who major in HR end up studying many of the same things as those who major in general management or leadership. There is a surprising amount of overlap in the content.


The mobile app that helps patients monitor their own recovery

Dr. Joshua Liu knows  a good idea when he sees one. And, he has a knack for turning good ideas into practice. Liu is a co-founder and CEO of Seamless mobile Heath, which lets patients monitor their recovery after surgery with a mobile app – and get help when they need it.

The app helps patients avoid the demoralizing journey back to the hospital they just left. It could also greatly reduce health care costs: hospital in Canada readmit more than 40,000 patients a year after surgery, costing more than $420 million.

NDP proposing familiar strategy to improve health care

The NDP is proposing a national health care strategy to help reduce hospital wait times and unemployment among Canadians physicians. It’s called the Pan-Canadian Health Human Resource Strategy and if the name sounds familiar, there’s a reason for that.

The strategy, NDP Health Critic Libby Davies told iPolitics, would require stakeholders –governments and professional organizations – to come together to find solutions to major health challenges including the lack of primary care physicians in many communities and long wait times.

Public Health care in Canada facing an emergency

Public health care in Canada is facing a major crisis, as sustained underfunding, accompanied by active political sabotage by the Conservatives, points toward the demise of Canada's public system.

Conservative politicians are refusing calls to negotiate a renewed 10-year federal health accord, one that asserts common standards for public health care, while lurching toward policy directives announced a couple years back that link health care to free-market economic winds.

Canada’s assembly line health care

Jonathan Kay’s recent column on his late-night visit to his local emergency room (‘The upside of no-frills Canadian health care,’ Jan. 29) touched on an important difference between the approaches of the Canadian and American health-care systems.

The American system is, as is well known, run for profit. It is, therefore, in the interest of the hospital to have a busy emergency room, as every patient is a potential source of money. As Mr. Kay noted, profits go up when the patient is subjected to numerous tests of dubious necessity, followed by admissions for observation and, of course, further testing.

Canadian’s head to U.S. for cheap health care… for their pets

Canadians are used to looking for deals south of the border, and it would appear Winnipeg pet owners have found the latest bargain: healthcare for their pets.

Dozens of Winnipeggers are packing up Scruffy and Spot and driving the more than 200 kilometres south to Grand Forks, North Dakota, where veterinarian services are available at less than half the price than at home.

Myth vs Fact: Comparing US and Canadian healthcare systems

One thing Americans and Canadians can agree on is that we don’t want each other’s healthcare systems. In truth, most Americans don’t know how Canada’s system works and Canadians don’t know much about the U.S. system.

What Americans know has come mainly from the negative talking points of politicians and others who have argued for years against national health insurance. Two decades ago, The New York Times reported that Canadian women had to wait for Pap smears, a point vigorously refuted by the Canadian ambassador who shot back in a letter to the Times editor: “You, and Americans generally, are free to decide whatever healthcare system to choose, avoid or adapt, but the choice is not assisted by opinions unrelated to fact.”

Product Recalls and Advisories

New safety information for antiviral drug used in the treatment of HIV
Foreign Product Alerts: Lightning 10.0+, LV Shou Reduces Fat; and STB Summit of the Thin Body S Woman Degreasing Burning Pill
Foreign Product Alerts: Li Long Mei Guo Mo Bang, and Ginseng Tu chong Wan Lin Heong
Foreign Product Alert: Hairegenerator
Botulism in infants - information for parents and caregivers
Foreign Product Alerts: Bethel 30, Bethel Advance, Quick Thin, JaDera, Xiyouji Qingzhi, Extreme Body Slim, Paiyouji Plus, Fat Zero, Fruit & Plant Slimming, and Strawberry Balance
Foreign Product Alert: MONTALIN Jamu Pegal Linu Dan Asam Urat
Gyrus Bovie Electrosurgical Generators - Possible Fire Hazard - Notice to Hospitals
Foreign Product Alerts: Various sexual enhancement products
Foreign Product Alerts: BONJOUR, CURVY Pearl Beauty slimming orange juice, VTOX Trim Up, and V12 Fruit Slimming
Foreign Product Alert: Lami Capsules
Lithium - Risk of Hypercalcemia and Hyperparathyroidism - For Health Professionals
New warnings regarding blood pressure drugs
Products containing undeclared prescription drugs removed from Burnaby West Box store
Cosopt (dorzolamide hydrochloride/timolol maleate) Preservative-Free Ophthalmic Solution - Risk of Eye Injury - For Health Professionals
Health Canada evaluating whether body weight affects the effectiveness of emergency contraceptive pill
Sandoz Glimepiride (2014-01-24)
ARZERRA (ofatumumab) - Recommendations to Screen, Monitor and to Manage Hepatitis B Virus Reactivation - For Health Professionals
Immulite 2000 System - Osteocalcin Assay (2014-01-20)
Dimension Vista System - Enzyme Calibrator (2014-01-20)
EFFIENT (prasugrel hydrochloride) - Association with Increased Risk of Bleeding in Patients Treated in Hospital for Certain Types of Heart Attacks - For Health Professionals
Perceval S Post-Dilation Catheter (2013-01-14)
Hyper FX (2014-01-14)
Blood glucose meter recalled: May give out wrong blood sugar levels
The Ivent 201 Disposable Breathing Patient Circuit (2014-01-13)
Hospira Flexible Intravenous Containers - Potential for Leakage in Certain Lots (1000 mL Intravenous Bags - Sodium Chloride 0.9% Injection USP and Dextrose 5% Injection USP) - For Health Professionals
Tytin Regular Set (2014-01-13)
AU Chemistry Systems: ISE Cleaning Solution (2014-01-13)
Sandoz Liquid Injectable Products - Potential Presence of Particulate Matter in Glass Vials - For Health Professionals
Acuson SC2000 Ultrasound System (2014-01-10)
Bioflash System Rinse (2014-01-10)
Simplexa Flu A/B and RSV Direct Assay (2014-01-10)