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Boots to Boardroom Covid-19 Discussion

Updated: May 26, 2021

Friday April 30th was my 4th Boots to Boardroom Happy Hour as West Coast Champion for the Women in Occupational Health and Safety Society(WOHSS), and there was so much great content shared, here's a recap!

Joining the group as expert was owner of Forcefield Safety, Natalie Arnold, with over a decade of OSH experience in the Oil and Gas industry. Natalie has also been working with the Red Cross on the Covid-19 response over the course of the pandemic, and she stepped up as soon as the call went out. What an amazing community, WOHSS!

General Concerns, and responses (paraphrased from my notes and memory):

Q: As boots on the ground, we are seeing more and more desperate, anxious people reaching out with questions and concerns over the latest developments, and they expect us to have immediate, accurate answers since we're the OSH people on site.

Where can we go, as OHS professionals, for fast and reliable Covid-19 information?

A: It is imperative to respond with empathy, compassion, and care for their concerns, and it is OK to not have all the answers. Natalie recommends keeping up-to-date with these reliable and immediate sources of information:

-the Red Cross

-the Public Health Agency of Canada, and your province's CDC's (eg: BC CDC)

Q: It seems that there is so much (mis?)information out there, especially on social media. It seems that if you look hard enough you can find published documents supporting almost any opinion. How do we manage folks with questions, fears and anxieties that come from articles or sources that may or may not not be legitimate?

A: Again, it is imperative to respond with empathy, compassion, and care for people's experiences and emotional concerns. Once you have received such a question, it is important to do your own research comparing valid sources (eg: university research studies, drug companies studies, scope and sample demographics...etc.) and once you've gathered the facts, present only the data and numbers.

Furthermore, consider eliminating potential sources of unvetted or misleading information from your social media feeds. Even if you don't actively seek out the data or numbers to (dis)prove every opinion that comes across your timeline, the impression of the opinion may stick around to have a subconscious effect. This can be damaging to your mental health over time.

Q: The medical and pharmaceutical industries have a poor track record where women are concerned. How can we trust that women have been entirely considered in terms of the Covid response - eg: have vaccines been tested on: women trying to get pregnant, women who are pregnant, women who are breastfeeding, pre-menopausal women, women in menopause, post-menopause...etc.

A: This is a difficult and ongoing question, it requires a thorough digging into the numbers behind clinical trials and research studies. Research studies from credible institutions will always publish the demographics and numbers of those involved in their studies.

Remember, health and safety professionals must put safety first, so when in doubt always err on the side of caution until further research can produce the evidence, numbers and data to deny or support.

Covid Coping Tactics Take-aways!

We went around the group and gathered a mosaic of tactics people are using to cope through this are those tactics, feel free to try them out!

-outdoors activities: hiking, trails and parks, picnics w bubble

-wake up early to g for a walk by yourself

-virtual social activities: Bingo! Zoom hangouts, zoom karaoke

-consistent (brief) check-in's with staff at the one word check-in!

-treasure hunting on Kijiji or Craigslist (super fun!)

-urban single-night camping: find someplace to tent or car camp (or camper camp) overnight that's ridiculously close to home (in case you get told to leave!)

-learn the ukulele - it's amazingly easy, and 3 chords gives you almost the WHOLE Beatles sing-along repertoire

Take care, and STAY SAFE, my friends in safety!

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