Letters to the Editor

WCB ‘Shock and awe’ tactics are smoke and mirrors; Co-workers notice mental health problems first

WCB ‘Shock and awe’ tactics are smoke and mirrors

Workers’ compensation boards across Canada are increasing their advertising about safety. Some provinces are even using “shock and awe” videos — bloody, gory videos about workers being injured, as reported in the Nov. 6 issue of Canadian HR Reporter. Yet on Oct. 29, the Conference of Canadian Compensation Unions representing about 10,000 compensation board employees, who deliver services to injured workers, “sounded the alarm” about the failure of the workers’ compensation system in Canada and called for a national campaign for the reform of legislation covering injured workers.

What is the relationship between these two stories?

The Canadian Injured Workers Society (CIWS) sees the “shock and awe” videos and the increasing workplace safety ads put out by workers compensation boards as a knee-jerk response of workers’ compensation boards to increasing criticism of their failure to prevent workplace injury and to compensate injured workers.

The CIWS is asking, “How does this shock/trauma approach prevent workplace injuries or address specific workplace hazards directly?” Shocking videos make good PR for WCBs, but have little real effect on workplace safety.

The CIWS believes that workers’ compensation boards have an inherent conflict of interest in regulating workplace safety. The organization that metes out compensation funds should not be the same one that is in charge of workplace safety. It is too easy to deny injured workers’ claims to save money, then just ignore the hazard that caused the injury. When a workplace injury claim is denied by WCB, that workplace hazard goes uninvestigated.

The statistics suggest that hundreds of thousands of workplace hazards are going uninvestigated per year in Canada.

The CIWS applauds the efforts of the unions to expose the failures of the workers compensation system in Canada and agrees that fundamental reform is critical.

Jane Edgett
Canadian Injured Workers Society
Hastings, Ont.

Co-workers notice mental health problems first

An employee assistance program is an essential component for helping troubled employees. However, in the article “Managing mental health at work” (Canadian HR Reporter, Oct. 9) the author states that “Managers are often the first to notice problematic behavioural changes that affect an employee’s performance.”

This is generally not the case. The people who initially are alerted to such difficulties are co-workers. An effective employee assistance program can train co-workers to act as peer referral sources, often providing an earlier and more direct route to the EAP and often bypassing the possible problems associated with manager referrals.

Rey Carr
Peer Resources

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