Excerpt from the OH&S Canada magazine
Six key figures have emerged from stakeholder consultations by the Workers’ Compensation Board (WCB) of Nova Scotia to gather feedback on developing regulations for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) presumption for frontline and emergency-response workers.
“The purpose of this conversation was to develop principles, criteria and indicators that could be used to inform decisions about the next level of definitions and to guide future decisions about the designation of other occupations,” says the Report on a Stakeholder Conversation released on August 14, 2018.
At the directive of Nova Scotia’s Department of Labour and Advanced Education, the WCB hired an independent consulting firm, Landry and Associates, to facilitate the consultation process that engaged some 120 stakeholders representing more than 60 organizations in the province from May 22, 2018 to June 19, 2018. Six key themes transcending the stakeholder lines that have emerged from the consultation are as follows:
- Workers, employers and the WCB have a shared duty to support frontline in an emergency-response workers by building and maintaining the resilience with wire to sustain mental wellness and well-being. This can be achieved by acknowledging that PTSD is one of the spectrum of stress responses and conditions through which a worker passes before their condition escalates to become PTSD.
- Employment is frontline were emergency-response workers will involve frequent and persistent, direct and/or indirect exposure to violent and traumatic situations;
- Authorized diagnosticians qualified to make an objective, accurate and thorough diagnosis should be accessible to workers;
- The vast majority of participants greatest confidence in and prefer diagnoses and treatment plans provided by psychiatrists and psychologists, assuming that the WCB can arrange this within 30 days;
- Regulators should err on the side of flexibility when determining time frames for eligibility for presumption; and
- There are a wide range of views with respect to the principles that people feel should be applied to select the effective date from the presumption and, by extension, to what the effective date for the presumption should be.
It would be very hard for legislation to be created without the stakeholders being invited to the table. Only they would have personal knowledge concerning attacks, dangerous situations and corrective action can only be introduced AFTER the information has been collected, consulted and suggestions made from the consult would be effective.
I am certainly glad that PTSD has been given its true place as a hazard in the workplace so that better treatment and possible prevention methods can be adopted.
Post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms may start within one month of a traumatic event, but sometimes symptoms may not appear until years after the event. These symptoms cause significant problems in social or work situations and in relationships. They can also interfere with your ability to go about your normal daily tasks.
PTSD symptoms are generally grouped into four types: intrusive memories, avoidance, negative changes in thinking and mood, and changes in physical and emotional reactions. Symptoms can vary over time or vary from person to person.
Symptoms of intrusive memories may include:
- Recurrent, unwanted distressing memories of the traumatic event
- Reliving the traumatic event as if it were happening again (flashbacks)
- Upsetting dreams or nightmares about the traumatic event
- Severe emotional distress or physical reactions to something that reminds you of the traumatic event
Symptoms of avoidance may include:
- Trying to avoid thinking or talking about the traumatic event
- Avoiding places, activities or people that remind you of the traumatic event
Negative changes in thinking and mood
Symptoms of negative changes in thinking and mood may include:
- Negative thoughts about yourself, other people or the world
- Hopelessness about the future
- Memory problems, including not remembering important aspects of the traumatic event
- Difficulty maintaining close relationships
- Feeling detached from family and friends
- Lack of interest in activities you once enjoyed
- Difficulty experiencing positive emotions
- Feeling emotionally numb
Changes in physical and emotional reactions
Symptoms of changes in physical and emotional reactions (also called arousal symptoms) may include:
- Being easily startled or frightened
- Always being on guard for danger
- Self-destructive behavior, such as drinking too much or driving too fast
- Trouble sleeping
- Trouble concentrating
- Irritability, angry outbursts or aggressive behavior
- Overwhelming guilt or shame
For children 6 years old and younger, signs and symptoms may also include:
- Re-enacting the traumatic event or aspects of the traumatic event through play
- Frightening dreams that may or may not include aspects of the traumatic event
Intensity of symptoms
PTSD symptoms can vary in intensity over time. You may have more PTSD symptoms when you’re stressed in general, or when you come across reminders of what you went through. For example, you may hear a car backfire and relive combat experiences. Or you may see a report on the news about a sexual assault and feel overcome by memories of your own assault.
Ensure your workplace is a safe place.
Remember – In Ontario, “ALL Accidents are Preventable”
‘Work’ and ‘Play’ safe.
Daniel L. Beal
CHSEP – Advanced Level
VP & Senior Trainer
HRS Group Inc.