Honouring Workers and Safety Week Ideas
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By: Julian Toy H.S.C. Substance Abuse Professional
Member of The Ontario Association of Mental Health Professionals
Health and Safety Week begins May 3. Just before this, on April 28, is our National Day of Mourning for workers killed, injured or who have suffered illness while on, or because of, the job.
The National Day of Mourning is designed to make us think about tragedies that have happened on the jobsite and to honour the workers who have passed.
I hope that employers, HR professionals, H&S professionals and supervisors who read this will steel themselves to address some of the difficult issues that can lead to workplace tragedies. This is one way of honouring those fallen workers, perhaps the best way as it can prevent such things happening to other workers in the future.
Understandably, many companies will focus on mental health and addiction during safety week. One overlooked aspect of employee mental health is the effect of a loved one’s substance abuse on a worker. Many people I’ve spoken with over the years have taken large amounts of time off to deal with the negative psychological effects of a family member’s or loved one’s substance abuse.
Depending on your comfort level and company policy, one way to assist those employees is to suggest that they attend some meetings of Al-Anon. It’s a totally free, 12 Step program established for the sole purpose of helping the family and friends of alcoholics. It’s fine for family and friends of addicts as well. They have online meetings and have a large presence in the GTA. The benefits of speaking with others, who have gone through the same problems and been successful in dealing with them, cannot be overestimated. There are many different groups as well. If a worker doesn’t like the first, suggest they try another one.
Attending these meetings is also excellent for supervisors. The only requirment for attending is that there is a problem of alcoholism/drug addiction in a friend or family member. If you don’t personally know any, give me a call. That will qualify you!
A novel way to supplement supervisor training in Substance Abuse is for them to attend an open meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous. Note that the meeting must be listed as “open” where anyone from the public may attend. Closed meeting are for those who have a problem with alcohol or a desire to stop drinking. I have escorted many supervisors to open meetings over the years as a part of my training the trainer program. Without exception, they tell me afterwards they learned something new and found it powerful.
Bless those families who have lost a loved one on the job. Remember our fallen workers. And hope that all companies engage in the training to prevent such things in the future.
If you have questions, need training or literature please contact Julian directly:
Direct Line: 905-866-7301
Services: Fit for Duty/Drug and Alcohol policy development, Fit for Duty/Drug and Alcohol training, Employee Substance Abuse Assessments and COVID 19 Mental Health Training, Preferred provider of Fit for Duty/Drug and Alcohol training Eastern Construction Ltd.