Conestoga news

February 7, 2022 7:44 AM

New standard focuses on work disability management for paramedics across Canada

The Canadian Institute for Safety, Wellness & Performance (CISWP) at Conestoga, in collaboration with CSA Group, the Centre for Research on Work Disability Policy (CRWDP), Paramedic Association of Canada (PAC), and the County of Renfrew, led the research and development behind a new standard recently released by the CSA Group. This latest project is one of several applied research initiatives led by CISWP to support paramedics across Canada.

Conestoga's Canadian Institute for Safety, Wellness & Performance supported the research behind a new standard focused on work disability management for paramedics across Canada.

The project was funded through the financial support of the Canadian Safety and Security Program, managed through the Defence Research and Development Canada, Centre for Security Science. The new National Standard of Canada, CSA Z1011.1-22, Work disability management in the paramedic service organization, is now available for no-fee view access or purchase in both English and French.

“This evidence-informed and consensus-based standard provides a systematic framework to support paramedic service organizations across Canada to prevent and manage work disability,” said Dr. Amin Yazdani, CISWP director and chair for the CSA Z1011.1 Standard Development Committee. “This standard includes specific requirements and guidance related to the management of work disabilities associated with operational stress injuries (OSI) and other mental health conditions that could be due to work-related exposures and non-work-related exposures.”

OSI is a term used to capture the broad range of mental health conditions caused by stressors directly tied to work-related content or duties. The new standard applies a general framework that can be applied to any type of disability.

According to Yazdani, there are more than 40,000 paramedics in Canada who have dedicated themselves to serving the public, but many have been hindered by physical or mental injuries as a direct result of their line of work. These injuries not only affect the individual, but also their friends, family, coworkers and communities. It also impacts their organization’s ability to provide responsive and quality care.

“Developing comprehensive occupational health and safety standards for Canada’s frontline workers who risk their lives every day for the well-being of Canadians is a priority for CSA Group. Combining the resources and expertise of CISWP, CRWDP, PAC and the expert volunteer technical committee members, CSA Group has developed a critical framework for workplace disability management that can help support Canada’s paramedic community to be prepared to prevent and respond to the physical and mental injuries faced by our country’s paramedic service organizations,” said Nancy Bestic, director, Health and Safety Standards, CSA Group. “Publication of CSA Z1011.1:22 was a significant first step, and we look forward to growing our portfolio of standards-based solutions for this critical first responder and public safety sector.”

Pierre Poirier, director of the Paramedic Association of Canada, and vice chair of the CSA Z1011.1 Committee said the new standard fulfills a key gap in providing paramedic service organizations with evidence-informed and consensus-based requirements and guidance to support paramedic service organizations in addressing the needs of their workforce.

Yazdani added that the new standard is a successful example of how collaborative and interdisciplinary applied research can result in advancing research and practice to address the needs of our Canadian workforce. Over the next few months, CISWP, CSA Group and CRWDP will work with the standard technical committee members to develop resources and tools to help paramedic service organizations implement the standard.

“We are looking forward to supporting uptake of the standard across Canada, including through an online webinar series,” noted Emile Tompa, CRWDP director and vice chair, CSA Z1011.1 Committee. “We have run a successful series for previous standards, and have had turnouts of more than 200 stakeholders for some sssions. It is a good forum for getting the word out to a broad audience.”

“County of Renfrew is very pleased to be a partner in this timely and important initiative. The standard is a voluntary framework for work disability management at the organizational level that focuses on addressing the health and well-being needs of paramedics throughout their employment lifecycle,” said Michael Nolan, County of Renfrew chief paramedic and director, emergency services. “There is a business case for implemnenting this standard and we look forward in promoting this standard to our paramedic community.”

In addition to CSA Group’s rigorous accredited standards development process, the following research studies, led by CISWP and CRWDP, were conducted specifically to inform the development of the standard:

For more information about this initiative, contact Dr. Amin Yazdani or the CSA Group.  

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.

Visit the CISWP news feed to learn more about other research projects.