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NewsHLI Health & Safety Day

Aug 4, 2023

This past week twenty-two HLI staff and students engaged with one another in a special annual event. Health & Safety Day at HLI is an opportunity to hear and learn from those who are invested in securing and improving our working environments. Since 2015 the event has taken on different forms and addressed a variety of topics. Each iteration though has provided attendees with the opportunity for active learning whether through demonstrations or small group activities.

To start things off this year, Ivan Leversage, the HLI Education Coordinator, showed us how chatGPT allows you to craft introductory remarks with a flair for the corny. We first heard from Josh Crewe of Paladin Security who is the Area Security Lead at St. Paul’s. Josh provided a behind-the-scenes perspective of what security looks like at the hospital day-to-day. Remember you can dial 5800 from any work phone to contact security and first aid.

Brian Barth (Manager of Student Support Services at UBC) outlined the Early Alert system, which all students, faculty, and staff should be aware of. Early Alert is for faculty and staff to use when they observe (or hear directly from) a student who is having some kind of difficulty. The system directs students to appropriate resources they need whether they are facing a specific conflict or are in distress. The goal of Early Alert is to make it less likely that students fall behind in their studies or suffer in isolation. More details on this program can be found here.

Erica Altomare (Workplace Wellbeing Learning Specialist at UBC) guided the group through an active learning session all about “Embodying Wellbeing”. In small groups, staff and students brainstormed and sketched what happens to the human body during stress. Elevated heart rate, sweating, muscle tension, and the list went on. The small groups created artistic masterpieces that made it clear that we were indeed “mapping” every part of the body when considering the consequences of too much stress. How we consciously relieve excess stress is so vital to our everyday routine. Doing breathwork, practicing gratitude, and regularly getting up to move are just some of the ways we can relieve stress on a daily basis. Erica wrapped up by letting the small groups interact using prompts from conversation cards (for example, “How do you show love to others?”). The point of this simply was to remind us all of the importance of social connection! It cannot be overstated how important making social connections is to our overall health, communication, and ability to empathize.

The final session was a panel discussion with Josh, Brian, Erica, and Paul Gill and Mardi Henderson. Paul is a manager and Mardi an advisor for Health & Safety Partnerships at UBC Faculty of Medicine. The panel took audience questions. How to avoid burnout and stress was the first topic. Another important question that did not come up earlier was about reducing muscle pain at the lab bench. The panelists emphasized the helpful resources available from UBC’s ergonomics team and doing an assessment of how your lab area is set up. There were also lab safety questions about working with human blood samples and dealing with cuts.

Thank you to Ivan, Beth Whalen, and the HLI Safety Committee for bringing back this annual event with relevance to us all at HLI. Ice Cream Day followed with plenty of choices to choose from.

Erica Altomare, Brian Barth, and Mardi Henderson
Ice Cream Day courtesy of Ivan, Tyler, and Amrit