In This Issue:
WorkSafe BC Updates
WorkSafe BC Board of Directors Approves
Workplace Bullying and Harassment Policies
WorkSafe BC Updates
WorkSafeBC Board of Directors Approves
Workplace Bullying and Harassment Policies
April 24, 2013 WorkSafeBC announced the approval of three new occupational
health and safety workplace bullying and harassment policies. The
effective date of the policies is November 1, 2013. The policies
define bullying and harassment and identify what prevention steps employers
should take to stop or minimize workplace bullying and harassment.
definition of bullying and harassment has been modified slightly as a
result of the consultation process with the public.
Includes any inappropriate conduct or
comment by a person towards a worker that the person knew or reasonably
ought to have known would cause that worker to be humiliated or
Excludes any reasonable action taken by
an employer or supervisor relating to the management and direction of
workers or the place of employment.
definition WorkSafeBC is using for a reasonable person is from Black’s
Law Dictionary, 9th edition:
“…a person who exercises the degree of attention, knowledge, intelligence,
and judgment that society requires of its members for the protection of
their own and of others’ interests. The reasonable person acts
sensibly, does things without serious delay, and takes proper but not
Policy outlines the reasonable steps expected by employers to address the
risk assessment is not necessary.
Developing a policy statement with
respect to workplace bullying and harassment not being acceptable or
Taking steps to prevent where possilbe,
or otherwise minimize, workplace bullying and harassment;
Developing and implementing procedures
for workers to report incidents or complaints of workplace bullying and
harassment including how, when and to whom a worker should report incidents
or complaints. Included must be procedures for a worker to report if
the employer, supervisor or person acting on behalf of the employer, is the
alleged bully and harasser;
Developing and implementing procedures
for how the employer will deal with incidents or complaints of workplace
bullying and harassment including:
How and when investigations will be
What will be included in the
Roles and responsibilities of employers,
supervisors, workers and others;
Follow-up to the investigation (description
of corrective actions, timeframe, dealing with adverse symptoms, etc) and
Informing workers of the policy statement
in (a) and the steps taken in (b);
Training supervisors and workers on:
Recognizing the potential for bullying
Responding to bullying and harassment:
Procedures for reporting, and how the
employers will deal with incidents or complaints of bullying and harassment
in (c) and (d) respectively:
Annually reviewing (a), (b), (c), and
Not engaging in bullying and harassment
of workers and supervisors; and
Applying and complying with the
employer’s policies and procedures on bullying and harassment.
work is being done at WorkSafeBC on guidelines and a toolkit. Sue Ferguson
is working on one of the consultation teams. Information is being developed
and will be accessible through the WorkSafeBC Website.
will be updating training materials used for the Train the Trainer
Harassment Awareness sessions. Districts that are currently using
these materials should contact Sue Ferguson to request an email copy of the
updated materials. The online Awareness of Harassment training will be
updated this summer to include new information from WorkSafeBC in order to
address training compliance under section (f) of the new policy.
information is available directly from WorkSafeBC. They also have
a number of self-help resources linked on their website:
Voice Dysfunction and Teachers
systems have been widely researched and do provide educational benefits to
many students. Recently there has been an increase in the number of
teachers who feel this may also benefit them in helping with resting their
voices while teaching. A voice amplification system may help some
individuals with specific throat medical issues. If so, it should be
recommended by a specialist as part of an overall treatment plan. BC has an
excellent resource at UBC. The Provincial Voice Care Program is a good
place to start. You may want to have someone check out this resource for
teachers requiring amplification for voice issues:
my former life as a teacher for the deaf and hard of hearing, I found a lot
of research that voice amplification is good for all learners, especially for those with any learning or
language challenges (special needs or ESL). You also have to check that new
systems don’t compete with ones put in for children with hearing problems.
is some information and questions a general consultant or doctor may not
Have they looked at the classroom and classroom
organization to eliminate reverberation or extraneous noise? In other
words, is the room suitable for additional amplification?
Are there any competing transmission sources; i.e.,
another system for a student with hearing impairments that could cause a
conflict or a source of amplification?
Does the client have a vocal chord impairment
requiring ongoing medical treatment? (surgery?)
Has this request been reviewed by the specialist?
Is the teacher receiving coaching in voice use
Are they aware of how and when to use micro breaks,
hydration and/or voice modulation?
Voice Amplifiers: Where? When? Why? How?
If a room is large, the background noise level is high, the
room has a lot of echo, or you are outdoors, you will have to talk louder
than your normal, comfortable speech level to be heard and to hear
yourself. Speech under these conditions often results in throat tension and
vocal strain. The longer you talk, the more strained your voice will feel
and the more hoarse you may become. When your brain hears competing noise,
or receives poor feedback from your ears about the clarity of your voice,
it tells the voice box and breathing system to work harder to make a louder
Because we rely on the feedback to our own ears
as we speak to confirm that our speech is clear and audible, and because
subconsciously humans understand it is impossible to communicate
effectively under poor acoustic conditions. Voice training can increase
awareness of the signs of improper voice use, but you cannot completely
over-ride the powerful subconscious "strain to be heard" command
("The Lombard Effect").
It is important to evaluate the room acoustics before deciding the
best approach to reducing speech level and vocal strain:
- If room noise is created by external or internal
sources such as machinery, ventilation, or traffic, it is best to look
for a solution to controlling that environmental noise source.
- If people are creating noise that competes with a
speaker, the best
solution is to find non-vocal ways to get the audience's attention and
to modify the speaker's agenda so it is not necessary to
communicate while the people noise is present.
- Sometimes noise sources cannot be fully controlled.
As long as a room is not too acoustically reverberant (echoic) a
high-quality voice amplification system may allow a speaker to be
heard above ambient noise without raising the voice.
- If the
physical characteristics of a room make it very reverberant,
amplifying the vocal sound will also amplify the echo and create
another competing noise source.
In this situation, modifications to the room may be possible.
A room with high or
hard-surface ceilings, hard-surface flooring, many windows, concrete or
other hard-surface walls will be more likely to cause delayed reverberation
of the voice that actually interferes with the
ability to hear yourself speak. In this case, providing more
sound-absorbing materials in the room may help, for example: carpeting,
curtains, ceiling sound-tiles, or formal sound baffles (we had an art
project making mobiles with cloth and cardboard egg cartons — they acted as baffles much like movie
- If the room reverberation is too fast or the room
is too sound-absorbent, you may not get the added benefit of your
voice bouncing back to your ears confirming what you have said. In this
case, reducing the amount of absorbent materials may help.
- There is a fine balance between too much and too
little reverberation! When in doubt, have an audiologist or
sound engineer make measures of the noise and reverberation
characteristics of your usual speaking environments, and make
recommendations for improving the acoustic conditions.
- Desk/chair movement —
Slip tennis balls onto the feet of chairs and desks. Make these
yourself by cutting an “x” into each tennis ball. Precut tennis balls
can be purchased from Hushups (www.hushhups.com) for about $250 per class (we got them free
from a local tennis club). This will also reduce noise in the room(s)
below the classroom.
Fluorescent light ballasts:
- Electronic ballasts
should be standard in all new construction; older stylemagnetic ballasts
should be replaced.
- Turn off unnecessary equipment; e.g., projectors,
fish tanks, etc.
External sources (traffic,
industry,students out of doors):
- Install windows/doors with high noise reduction
rating and good weatherstsipping
- Move outdoor student activities away from
classrooms, especially those that are south-facing where windows are
more likely to be open
- Improve sound separation between rooms
- Improve sound absorption of neighbouring areas
Noise in open-plan classroom:
- Separate classroom into smaller spaces
(floor-to-ceiling stud wall, sliding partitions).
Noise from heating and ventilation
- Servicing of the system may reduce noise.
- Modifications to the HVAC system may include better
vibration isolation of fans and motors, addition of acoustic duct
liners, conversion to quieter louvres, etc. In some cases fan
speed can be adjusted and subsequently lower the background or ambient
Material-based noise (furniture made from
light-weight materials that resonate easily):
- Choose more solid materials to reduce potential
If you have questions about the issues
raised in this newsletter, or any health, safety or wellness issue, please
contact Sue Ferguson at 604.730.4502 or email@example.com.