Over the last three years, the Saskatchewan Workers’ Compensation Board (WCB) has seen a 75 per cent increase in the number of psychological injury claims accepted. While psychological injury claims only equate to a small percentage of all workplace injury claims accepted, the increase in the rate of acceptance is concerning.
In response, WorkSafe Saskatchewan–the WCB’s partnership with the Ministry of Labour Relations and Workplace Safety – has signed a partnership agreement with the University of Fredericton (UFred) to provide Saskatchewan employers with access to online training and resources to help create psychological healthy workplaces.
“At WorkSafe Saskatchewan, we saw a need to provide employers with additional resources to help them create a psychologically healthy work environment for employees,” said Kevin Mooney, Director of Prevention at the WCB. “The expertise of the University of Fredericton faculty and the training courses made available will be invaluable to Saskatchewan employers.”
Through its partnership with UFred, Saskatchewan employers have access to resources to help them establish systems and programs that protect the psychological health and wellness of their employees. Among these resources include online psychological health and safety certificate programs at the basic, advanced and manager level.
“Our focus at WorkSafe is to prevent injuries from happening in the workplace,” said Mooney. “One of the ways that we do this is by connecting employers with resources that will help to build a culture of safety – both physical and psychological.”
In addition to the resources in psychological health and safety, the partnership between UFred and the WCB will also provide course modules focused on enhancing workplace resiliency to cope with and manage common stressors.
The resource-rich content of the resiliency course provides practical approaches for employees to lead a psychologically safe work environment and identify how to respond and manage situations where an employee is struggling.
“When we think about resiliency, we often think about the usual factors such as sleep, diet and exercise,” said Mooney. “The UFred resiliency course addresses these factors and provides other practical self-help tools related to cognitive behavioural therapy, emotional intelligence and positive psychology.”
For UFred, working with the Saskatchewan employers will help to expand the university’s body of research around psychological health and safety in the workplace.
“Since the launch of the National Standard for Psychological Health and Safety in the Workplace in 2013, UFred has been actively engaged in developing educational programs that help Canadian employers protect the psychological safety of their workers,” said Dr. Sheri McKillop, Vice President of Academics at the University of Fredericton. “We are thrilled to partner with the Saskatchewan WCB in both research and program offerings, and look forward to the positive impacts that the resources created through this partnership will have.”
In addition to its new partnership with UFred, WorkSafe hosted a one-day learning event in December in Saskatoon, bringing together mental health experts from across the country. Mary Deacon, Chair of Bell Let’s Talk, and Dr. Rakesh Jetly, Head of the Centre of Excellence in Mental Health, were two of keynote speakers drawing a crowd of over 325 registered attendees.
“The response to our learning event shows the need with employers to offer resources of this nature,” said Mooney. “This event, paired with the resources being made available by the University of Fredericton, will serve as a foundation for employers in the province to become educated on the importance of a positive workplace environment for employees and provide the tools to establish and promote a psychologically healthy and safe workplace.”
To register for the online training courses made available to Saskatchewan employers through the University of Fredericton, visit the WorkSafe Saskatchewan website at www.worksafesask.ca. For resources on how to prevent all workplace injuries, employers and workers can reach out to their industry safety association or visit the WorkSafe Saskatchewan website at www.worksafesask.ca.