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AOHNA Conference Speakers

Click the speakers photo for their bio!

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Keynote: 8:30 am - 9:30 am - Occupational Health Nursing in the Modern Workplace: Growing Forward from Here Shelley Bischoff
The evolution of occupational health nursing has been profound, reflecting changing workplace dynamics, advancements in healthcare, and shifts in societal priorities. Primarily focusing on a holistic approach that encompasses disease prevention, health promotion, and illness/injury management, occupational health nurses play a crucial role in safeguarding the health and well-being of workers. As the landscape of occupational health evolves, there is a pressing need to reassess the nursing model. This entails critical self-reflection, ensuring professional autonomy, fostering stable lines of research, nurturing a culture of competency development, and increasing our capacity to contribute. The keynote session will highlight current global research on the evolving speciality practice of occupational health nursing and highlight how we can proactively elevate our vital role, effectively adapt to the new socio-occupational reality, and provide expert, quality care that meets the emerging needs of both employers and employees in today's dynamic workplaces.

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10:00 am - 11:00 am - Advancements in Fitness for Duty Screening Randal Roberts
The increasing utilization of medicinal cannabis, the legalization of recreational cannabis and the popularity of edibles has added challenging new dimensions to traditional methods of drug detection. The “National Cannabis Survey” published by Statistics Canada reported that over half a million current cannabis users acknowledge they have consumed cannabis before or during work. Daily Fitness for Duty screening has the potential to balance worksite safety requirements while at the same time respecting worker privacy. It does this by generating real time workforce data as opposed to looking back in time at past activities and trying to infer impairment. Fitness for Duty screening is a proactive approach to safety that identifies potential problems that you can act on now instead of looking back at lagging indicators. This session will introduce AOHNA members to the SafetyScan Fitness for Duty Screening System, a fast, non-invasive screener that is sensitive to impairment by alcohol, drugs (prescription/OTC/recreational/illicit), and cognitive fatigue.

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10:00 am - 11:00 am - Heat Stress Awareness & Prevention Jonathan McCallum
Heat Stress Awareness and Prevention have moved up the ladder of workplace safety priorities in recent years. The increased attention has led to new technologies for personal and area measurement, clothing designed for increased airflow, cooling, and shade & new hydration solutions. This session aims to explore trends, technology development, and tools available to Canadian workplaces to understand heat-related risks and minimize their impact on your employees. Heat stress happens when your body loses its ability to self-regulate its temperature. It’s a condition caused by a buildup of body heat generated by several factors, including the environment, physical effort, existing health and acclimatization of the worker, and the clothing and equipment the worker is wearing. Working in hot environments for a prolonged period can drive your internal body temperature several degrees above the average temperature of 37°C, which overwhelms the body’s natural cooling systems. This is when danger occurs.

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11:30 am - 12:30 pm - Medication Madness - Impairing Medication Use and Fitness for Duty Dr. Jonathan Davids
In my talk titled "Medication Madness - Impairing Medication Use and Fitness for Duty," I discuss the relationship between commonly prescribed medications and their impact on workplace safety and employee impairment. Through an extensive review of the latest literature, I shed light on the inherent risks associated with medication use in professional settings. In addition, I address the pressing challenges that employers and employees face in managing prescribed medications within the workplace. I propose practical strategies and interventions aimed at mitigating and effectively managing the risks posed by prescription medication. By fostering awareness and implementing tailored solutions, we can strive towards ensuring a safer and more productive work environment for all.

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11:30 am - 12:30 pm - Illuminating the Path: How to Proactively Remove Barriers and Inclusively Support Transgender and Gender Diverse Individuals Kiersten Mohr
In this session, Kiersten will begin by sharing a glimpse of her personal story and experience navigating gender transition in her personal life and as a senior leader in the oil and gas industry. She will reflect on the valuable lessons learned, particularly emphasizing the profound realization that the challenges she faced were not solely due to being transgender but were rooted in the pursuit of authenticity—a universal struggle that she now believes is the common thread that unites us all. Additionally, Kiersten will share her perspective on how we all can become beacons of support and help illuminate a path for transgender and gender non-conforming individuals in a time when that path can seem uncertain, unsafe, and frightening. With the backdrop of current political dynamics and ongoing challenges related to transgender inclusion and gender-affirming care in our province, she aims to equip participants with information, resources, and perspectives to enhance their skills and comfort in advocating for and supporting this community.

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2:00 pm - 3:00 pm - Navigating Eye Health & Safety in Today’s Workplace Natalie Chai
Each day, more than 700 Canadian workers sustain an eye injury at work, resulting in temporary or permanent vision loss and costing millions in lost productivity. Using proper eye protection on the job could prevent 90% of eye injuries from occurring. The Alberta Association of Optometrists, through its Eyesafe™ program, will deliver a presentation focused on keeping workers’ vision safe in today’s workplaces. Learn what you need to know about digital eye strain, the impact of sun exposure, and common workplace dangers, such as welder’s flash, foreign body, chemical splash, blunt trauma, and corneal burn. Find out how to avoid injuries, including best practices and provincial safety standards. Learn about correct frame requirements for the task, the latest lens technology for better eye protection and the importance of a perfect fit to an individual’s face. Learn how to respond to workplace eye injuries and how an optometrist can help with your urgent care needs.

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2:00 pm - 3:00 pm - Having Courageous Conversations and Building Trust Lin Yu
Building strong, trusting relationships is a fundamental aspect of psychological health and safety that supports the success of many other workplace psychosocial factors. Teams that trust each other can benefit from higher employee engagement and improved work outcomes. Skills for building trust can also empower leaders to more confidently manage workplace change and make difficult decisions. One of these skills is navigating courageous conversations. This workshop provides a valuable opportunity for people-leaders to learn about the importance of having courageous conversations and gain competencies that can be applied at work. Participants will be guided to discuss barriers, share experiences, and brainstorm strategies and solutions.

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3:30 pm - 4:30 pm - Change Highlights: Noise Exposure - Part 16 of the OHS Code Reanne Pernitsky
This session will provide an overview of some of the key updates to the OHS Code (Noise exposure Part 16) effective March 31, 2023. Noise is a workplace hazard that can cause permanent hearing loss and can also be a safety hazard by preventing workers from being able to hear alarms and other important communications. Part 16 of the OHS Code covers requirements intended to protect workers from exposure to occupational noise hazards. Clarity will be provided regarding some of the key changes including: noise exposure assessments, introduction of fit testing of hearing protection devices, and classifications of audiometric results. Audiometric testing is now required to be completed in accordance with CSA Standard Z107.6:16 (R2020), Audiometric testing for use in hearing loss prevention programs. The updates to OHS Code required workplaces and service providers to revise their previous noise management programs.

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3:30 pm - 4:30 pm - Building Workplace Resiliency Susan Sawatzky & Browyn Sawatzky
Many of us spend a lot of time, energy, and money ensuring we stay physically fit. But how often do we focus on our mental fitness? In today's world where workforce shortages can lead to high stress and burnout in existing employees, employers often struggle to attract and retain top talent. No wonder amidst a tight labour market, Canadian employers ranked employee mental heath as one of their top 3 concerns. This mental health presentation is designed to empower you with valuable insights and tools to support your employees' mental well-being. Addressing mental health concerns in the workplace is not only a compassionate gesture; it's a smart business move. In this presentation, we will learn strategic approaches to proactively support employees in enhancing their mental health and well-being. It aims to equip you with the knowledge and tools necessary to promote mental health and fitness in your workplaces.

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