Over the past eight months, the Occupational Health and Safety (OH&S) Director Group across the 14 TAHSN partner hospitals has embraced a collaborative mindset with a relentless focus on crafting a shared vision and setting forward-focused strategic priorities to enhance the function of Occupational Health and Safety within our healthcare system.

When the COVID-19 pandemic emerged, the central role of the OH&S Departments to ensure the well-being of hospital workers became highly visible. As organizations attempted to meet each challenging and uncertain wave, it became apparent that there was a lack of consistent standards for Occupational Health and Safety to support service delivery in Ontario's healthcare system. Notably, all TAHSN hospitals followed different practices and protocols to promote a safe work culture during the pandemic; differences in operational systems, policies, and processes were also observed. University Health Network (UHN) proposed a comprehensive, cross-hospital review of Occupational Health & Safety practices. This recommendation was quickly endorsed by the TAHSN Human Resources Vice Presidents (VPs) Group. Over the past year, this review has resulted in a very detailed assessment of Occupational Health & Safety practices and the development of a TAHSN Occupational Health & Safety Strategy.

This unique, collaborative approach offers expertise, ideas, and support from multiple perspectives and stakeholders across our healthcare system to create novel ways of optimizing the performance of our OH&S Departments. Through this collaborative venture, the TAHSN hospitals are ensuring cohesiveness while co-creating shared best practices, systems, and processes, and also making certain that an optimal framework is in place to measure performance and holistically enhance healthcare delivery.

TAHSN released the three-year Occupational Health & Safety Strategic Plan (2022-2025) in October. Four key priorities were integrated within this Plan to help guide the OH&S Departments to its future success over the next three years:

  1. Establish Future State Service Delivery Models
  2. Establish an Occupational Health & Safety Collaborative Framework
  3. Create a Mechanism to Accelerate Operational Excellence
  4. Develop a Technology Strategy

To ensure the Strategic Plan is executed most optimally and logically, four Working Groups (WG) were launched in the Fall of 2022 in alignment with the core functions served within Occupational Health and Safety. Each Working Group comprises TAHSN Director Co-Leads and OH&S staff representing their respective hospital.

  1. WG#1: Occupational Health: Standardize Occupational Health Clinic best practices and explore efficiencies within clinics to drive quality improvement
  2. WG#2: Disability Case Management: Identify key components of the Absence Management Strategy (Occupational and Non-Occupational Illness/Injury) and outline respective policies, procedures, standards, and best practices
  3. WG#3: Occupational Safety: Examine each of the core services within Occupational Safety (e.g., Workplace Violence Practices, Safety Training Programs, PPE Program) through the lens of the strategic priorities
  4. WG#4: Wellness: Enhance the health and well-being of staff across the TAHSN hospitals

Over the next months, our TAHSN OH&S Director Group will remain committed, through cross-hospital collaboration, to continue driving the Strategic Plan within their Working Groups. The TAHSN Executive Leadership across all partners hospitals will continue to act as advocates and change ambassadors for the continuous improvement of OH&S Departments.

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