November 2013

Health and Safety

Each smoker costs employer more than $4000 per year

On average, each smoker cost his employer an estimated $4,256 in 2012 — more than $3,800 in lost productivity due to unsanctioned smoking breaks and more than $400 in lost productivity due to absenteeism.

This amount has risen by more than 25 per cent since the Conference Board's 2005 estimate of the per-smoker cost.

Creating a Safer Workplace

As 2013 comes to a close, insurance and federal regulatory agencies are sure to be compiling year-end statistics and reports. While some figures may be surprising, one that is likely to stay true to past years' results is the incidence of injuries and fatalities from workplace falls.

Each year, falls from heights ranging from just a few inches to 120 stories account for more than 30 percent of all fall-related injuries and work-related deaths. Such injuries not only endanger the integrity of the workplace and the safety of employees, but also cost businesses millions of dollars each year in medical expenses, lost wages, and lower productivity

Feds propose broad changes to labour code

Bill C-4, which passed second reading in the House of Commons on Oct. 25, includes over 50 amendments to the Canada Labour Code, including those relating to occupational health and safety. The omnibus bill proposes amendments to the code that would see a change to the definition of “danger” as it relates to the right to refuse unsafe work; a revision of the work refusal process itself; and the transference of health and safety officers’ rights and responsibilities to the federal Minister of Labour or a delegate.

Hospitals in Michigan Cut $116 Million in Costs by Implementing Safety Programs

The Michigan Health and Hospital Association's Keystone Center reported the data, which pointed to improvements in Michigan health care in several areas. The safety and wellness programs that were implemented over the last several years helped reduce bed sores, minimized hospital infections, cut down readmissions, and reduced high-risk deliveries.

The report indicated that the $116 million reduction in cost was only 1 percent of the hospitals' total revenue of $26 billion in 2010. The Keystone Center also detailed the savings, reporting that hospitals saved $98 million in by reducing readmissions and reduced the mortality rate of sepsis patients by 37 percent.

Government reminds schools and firms that wearing poppy with a pin is not a safety hazard

Healthy and safety minister Michael Penning told the charity that no such pursuit is available, before also reminding schools and businesses that it is ‘nonsense’ to ban pupils and staff from wearing poppies or wristbands on safety grounds.

As reported by the Sunday Times, Mr Penning was galvanised by reports some companies had banned their staff from wearing poppies with pins.

Human Resources

Small businesses expecting stronger performance in 2014: Business barometer

Small business optimism has trended into more positive territory after weathering a tough spring, according to the Canadian Federation of Independent Business’ (CFIB) Business Barometer.

The index went up to 65.0 in the month of October, and has remained generally steady for the past four months.

On a scale of 0 to 100, an index over 50 means organizations expecting a stronger business performance next year outnumber those organizations expecting a weaker performance.

New anti-bullying, harassment policies take effect this week

The agency dedicated to protecting the safety of about 2.2 million workers in British Columbia is not going to bully the province's employers into implementing new rules that deal with workplace harassment, says a senior executive.

Instead of taking a “heavy-handed approach” to enforcement, WorkSafeBC will consult with employers to ensure they follow changes to the Workers Compensation Act that take effect Friday, said Al Johnson, vice-president of prevention services.`

Right-To-Work Laws In U.S. May Be Hitting Canadian Incomes: CIBC

Right-to-work laws in U.S. states may be putting downward pressure on Canadians’ incomes, a study from CIBC suggests.

The study comes days after the Conservative Party of Canada made right-to-work a part of its policy platform.

Canada: Frequently Asked Questions: Employee Background Checks

Many companies are unclear on what background checks can be made on an employee prior to hiring them and how this can affect their final decision. This article reviews some of the most frequently asked questions around: Credit checks, Drug and Alcohol Testing, Medical Examinations and Criminal Background checks. These tips may be able to help you avoid a wrong hiring decision that could result in labour law violations.

Reference letters can invite lawsuits from former employees

What obligations do you have to a former employee who requests a reference to give to a prospective employer, especially when the employee was problematic and was fired?

A great example of this legal issue was front and centre in this season's penultimate episode of HBO’s The Newsroom, and if you haven’t seen it yet, there are spoilers here.

Half your staff don’t know company policies

Does it sometimes seem like employees don’t know what the HR policies are until after they’ve broken them? It might be true – a new study shows just 53% of respondents claim to “have knowledge of their employer’s HR guidelines.”


Quality of life of breast cancer survivors 'reassuring'

Women who survived breast cancer are welcoming the findings of a long-term Canadian study suggesting the quality of life of survivors is similar to that of women without the disease.

Dr. Pam Goodwin of Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto led the study of 285 women with breast cancer who were given questionnaires about factors such as pain, fatigue and overall quality of life one year after diagnosis and then an average of 12.5 years after diagnosis.

New web tool lets Canadians judge health care

A new website aims to provide Canadians with a user-friendly snapshot of how the health system is performing.

The Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI) released its interactive tool,, on Thursday. The site covers area’s such as:
• Access
• Quality
• Spending
• Health promotion / Disease prevention
• Health Outcomes

Canada must offer private options along with universal health-care to combat long wait times: report

Another increase in median wait times for medical treatment despite fast-growing public health-care spending means Canada should look abroad for alternative ways of delivering universal health care with private options, say the authors of a new report.

“Other countries with universal health care systems spend less than we do and don’t force citizens to wait like this,” said Nadeem Esmail, director of health policy studies for the Fraser Institute and co-author of the think tank’s report on medical wait times in Canada.

Is 'Obamacare' like Canada's health-care system? 'Not even close,' critic says

Despite critics slamming "Obamacare" – the first major U.S. health-care reform passed in nearly 50 years – as "Canadian-style" health insurance, critics note that major differences between the two systems persist.

McGill University Professor of Political Science Antonia Maioni said the U.S. Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which went into effect earlier this week, is "not even close" to the Canadian system.

What's the Cure for Canada's Doctor Shortage?

Very few would dispute the fact that Canada has a doctor shortage -- and has had for years. Patients are forced to resort to emergency rooms and walk-in clinics for their primary care, and with more and more doctors set to retire, the problem will only worsen over the next years.

What is often not reported, however, is that there may be light at the end of the tunnel for some communities who are experiencing a doctor shortage -- if they are willing to think out of the box. Some municipalities are taking it upon themselves to mount physician recruitment campaigns, enticing young doctors to open practices in their communities, and the doctors themselves have been responding.

Product Recall’s and Advisories

Sequel Naturals Recalls Vega One Nutritional Shakes and Sports Performance Drinks November 2013

GSK recalls two lots of migraine medication: IMITREX Injection November 2013

Vega One Vanilla Chai and Vega Sport Performance Chocolate Contaminated with Chloramphenicol: Potentially Poses Serious Risks to Health November 2013

Two deaths linked to ingestion of hand sanitizer containing methanol October 2013

Dextran 40 in Dextrose injection & Dextran 40 in Sodium Chloride injection - Potential for Crystallization - Notice to Hospitals October 2013

Trabecular Reverse Shoulder Glenosphere and Base Plates (2013-10-18) October 2013

Seized natural health products from Lion King Health Enterprises, Richmond, B.C., contain hidden ingredients October 2013

Health First - PrimeZyme Plus Betaine (2013-10-18) October 2013

Transradial Artery Access Kits (2013-10-18) October 2013

Important Recall Information: A number of natural health products potentially contaminated with chloramphenicol may pose serious health risks to consumers October 2013

iVita Children's Chewable Multivitamins (2013-10-17) October 2013

Acetabular Pressurizer (2013-10-16) October 2013

DOM-Simvastatin (2013-10-16) October 2013

pms-Simvastatin (2013-10-16) October 2013

Caresite Luer Access Device (2013-10-15) October 2013

BacT / Alert PF Plus Culture Bottle (2013-10-15) October 2013

New heart warnings for the drug Sensipar October 2013

Dimension Vista Systems (2013-10-15) October 2013

Philips Intellispace PACS (2013-10-14) October 2013