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Alberta health-care unions launch back safety campaign

Calling for greater use of mechanical technology
| www.cos-mag.com
back pain

The Alberta Union of Provincial Employees (AUPE), the United Nurses of Alberta (UNA) and the Health Sciences Association of Alberta (HSAA) has launched a campaign called Save Our Back. The initiative aims to update Alberta’s Occupational Health and Safety Code to get back protections for health-care workers.

The unions are asking for the OHS Code to be changed to require employer safe-handling programs that direct the use of mechanical technology to the “greatest degree reasonable in the circumstances.” They want legislation requiring employers to ensure labels are legible and on or near safe-handling equipment.

They are also calling for an annual evaluation of program effectiveness that takes into account training, equipment condition and usage, incidents and new advancements.

Lastly, the unions would like the code amended to require the inclusion of patient reaction while assessing manual handling hazards.

“While there are ways to avoid these injuries, some employers refuse to adopt those measures,” said AUPE in a release. “Health-care employers aren’t required to provide the kind of lifting equipment that can save our backs, as some employers view that kind of equipment as optional.”

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