This research addresses work-related psychosocial hazards in the child and family services sector in Alberta. This multifaceted sector represents approximately 450 agencies with a workforce of over 17,000 persons serving over 250,000 clients. Agencies and provincial associations (AASCF, ACDS, ACWS, AHVNA, CYCAA) have become increasingly concerned about the health and safety issues in these workplaces. ACDS, working with the Workforce 2010 initiative, addressed some of these issues in the disability services sector through its Staff Safety Tool Kit, while other agencies have achieved the Certificate of Recognition (COR). Although most agencies have policies and practices to address physical, chemical and biological hazards, many agencies lack effective policies and practices to address psychosocial hazards. Yet psychosocial hazards are among the most prevalent threats to health and safety in the sector.
In the Spring of 2014, meetings with Workers’ Compensation Board representatives confirmed a gap in knowledge concerning psychosocial hazards in this sector (WCB Industry Code 89925). This gap has been identified as an issue by WCB, the AASCF Board of Directors, Government of Alberta Human Services, and others. As a result, these agency representatives resolved to investigate psychosocial hazards in the sector. In the Summer of 2014, the group of agency representatives, working with the University of Alberta, Faculty of Extension Evaluation & Research Services, conducted a preliminary survey of psychosocial hazards and mitigation capacity among 300 child and youth care counselors, focusing on fatigue, shift work, stress, workplace bullying, workplace violence, and working alone (hazards defined by Worksafe Alberta).
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