"This investment in power-lifting equipment will prevent injuries and save money in the long run, because it’s always much cheaper to keep workers healthy and on the job than to have them off work and needing treatment.” — Mike Parker, HSAA President
Edmonton (18 July 2017) — The $20-million purchase of new power-lift technology for ambulances is good news for paramedics, says the union that represents them, the Health Sciences Association of Alberta (HSAA/NUPGE).
“This is a great start. Our members work hard to help and heal patients. Far too often they become patients because of unnecessary injuries they suffer at work,” says Mike Parker, HSAA President.
New equipment will reduce injuries
“We have been asking for this for a long time and we’re grateful that our concerns are being addressed. This investment in power-lifting equipment will prevent injuries and save money in the long run, because it’s always much cheaper to keep workers healthy and on the job than to have them off work and needing treatment,” he says, pointing to a disabling injury rate for paramedics of 5 times the rate for other health care workers in Alberta.
The new lift technology will initially be installed in about 355 ground ambulances, beginning this summer and with completion scheduled by spring 2018.
Powerlifting equipment needs to become the standard
"This program needs to be extended beyond AHS ambulances to include all those vehicles operated by private contractors. There is no reason why patients and workers in rural areas, where most private emergency service providers operate, should not have the same level of care and protection that the rest of Albertans have,” says Parker. “In fact, this type of equipment needs to become standard in all areas of health care where patients have to be lifted.”
Parker also says that simply installing the equipment is not enough. “We have to ensure that AHS offers proper training and monitoring for this new equipment to work and for it to result in reduced injuries. We’ve seen similar equipment installed in other areas of health care in recent years, but didn’t see the desired drop in injuries because of a lack of training, tracking and accountability.”
“We recommend that Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) officers be involved in auditing the training and use of this equipment to ensure independent oversight and to get the best value from the investment in this equipment.”
The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 370,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. ~ NUPGE