Dr. Amin Yazdani, director of Conestoga’s Canadian Institute for Safety, Wellness & Performance (CISWP), led a multi-year research and development project in collaboration with the paramedic community across Canada and the Centre for Research on Work Disability Policy.
Dr. Amin Yazdani led a multi-year research and development project in collaboration with the paramedic community across Canada and the Centre for Research on Work Disability Policy. The project informed development of a new national standard from the Canadian Standards Association.
Funded by Defence Research Development Canada’s Canadian Safety and Security Program, the project informed development of a new national standard from the Canadian Standards Association (CSA) Group. The standard — Work Disability Management System for paramedics (CSA Z1011.1) — is now open for public review and feedback.
“The proposed standard provides paramedic service organizations across the country with guidance to systematically manage their work disability management activities,” said Yazdani. “Although the standard applies to all types of work disabilities, it provides specific recommendations for managing operational stress injuries and other mental health conditions.”
Dr. Yazdani also chairs the CSA Group’s National Standard Development Technical Committee responsible for development of the standard. The committee is comprised of stakeholders and experts representing paramedics, paramedic service organizations, mental health and disability management experts, regulatory bodies, members of the scientific community and service providers.
In Canada, approximately 30,000 paramedics provide essential out-of-hospital emergency medical care. Due to the nature of the work, paramedics are disproportionately affected by operational stress injuries and other mental health conditions. Yazdani said a recent national survey found an alarming 49 per cent reported symptoms consistent with at least one mental disorder. These elevated rates of mental health conditions not only have devastating impacts on the individual, but to their friends, families and their organization’s ability to provide responsive and quality care as well.
“Since work disability prevention and management is not integrated within management systems, and not systematized across the paramedic community, it can be very resource-intensive and not as effective as it could be,” said Yazdani.
Bronson Du, a CISWP researcher and the research project manager, said the new standard fills a critical gap by providing an evidence-informed and standardized approach towards prevention and management of disability among Canadian paramedics.
“We are actively seeking feedback from the paramedic community, researchers, mental health and disability management experts, and other interested parties across Canada to strengthen the applicability of this standard for Canadian paramedics,” said Yazdani.
The draft standard is currently available online: visit the site to create a CSA account to review the draft and provide feedback before June 27, 2021.
Final publication of the standard is expected in winter 2022.
CISWP has been leading several important initiatives at the national level to address health and safety challenges faced by Canadian first responders. CISWP was recently awarded research funding from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) as part of the College and Community Innovation Program - Applied Research Rapid Response to COVID-19 to develop a guideline for addressing the mental health impacts of COVID-19 among Canadian paramedics.
For more information about this standard and other relevant initiatives led by CISWP, contact Dr. Amin Yazdani.
The Canadian Institute for Safety, Wellness & Performance, located within Conestoga’s School of Business, works to improve the safety, wellness and performance of the Canadian labour force by generating knowledge, transferring research to practice, and strengthening workforce development — all in collaboration with stakeholders.