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Improving efficiency and assessing impact of safe-work practices

The well-being of Concordia’s faculty, staff and students is the number-one priority for the university’s Environmental Health and Safety (EHS) unit. In 2022-23, the team continued to resume operations following the pandemic, including refocusing attention on the expansion of the Occupational Health Program.

The workplace inspection app — the third and final component of the EHS workplace health and safety module in SAP (Systems, Applications and Products) — launched in January 2023.

“It’s really helping us process the workplace inspections faster and with a higher frequency,” reports Pietro Gasparrini, EHS director.

With the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic waning, EHS could also dedicate more time to the Occupational Health Program. By May 2023, at least 257 employees and students had participated in the various occupational health screening protocols, including hearing conservation, respiratory protection and working with research animals.

Workplace inspections go paperless

Gasparrini says his team continues to inform the university about the workplace health and safety module, supporting them with training so they can more efficiently use the easier online system for reporting injuries and near-misses. 

For Gasparrini, the implementation of the new paperless systems for performing workplace inspections was an exciting development for his team. His staff can now visit inspection sites with tablets in hand, take photos and then send the report directly to the person responsible for the workplace. 

In addition to making the process more efficient for his staff, Gasparrini notes that the new system helps the recipients better understand the inspections and follow up on any required corrective actions.

“The tool really allows us to close the loop. It’s not just about telling a researcher, for example, that they have incompatible chemicals being stored together,” he says. “Before, we had to go back and manually verify that the chemicals had been segregated. But now there’s a task logged in the system, with a deadline and a reminder, and the researcher can indicate when it’s been completed.”

Occupational Health Program expansion

EHS had to pause broadening its Occupational Health Program during the COVID-19 pandemic but was able to get back on track in 2022-23.

“As an employer, we not only want to make sure we put the necessary safe-work practices in place — for example, wearing hearing protection around loud machinery — we can also implement medical surveillance or occupational health screening protocols that allow us to verify that what we’ve put in place is actually working,” Gasparrini explains.

“Occupational health screening protocols allow us to ensure we are doing everything possible for our employees.”

In addition to the expansion of the Occupational Health Program, EHS continued to focus on prevention activities including research safety compliance reviews and ergonomic assessments.

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