Riley Brandt, University of Calgary
June 18, 2019
Occupational health nurse wins prestigious award for his work keeping you safe and healthy on campus
Brendan Webster recognized at national conference for safety programs, from flu shots to respirator fit tests
Looking at the campus ecosystem, it’s easy to point out all the ground-breaking work being done in faculties and units around campus. But from the most innovative research projects to the day-to-day operations of the university at large, you’ll find a wellness program or initiative supported by Brendan Webster, an occupational health nurse in Staff Wellness.
Webster’s contributions to campus wellness — as well as his contributions to occupational health nursing as a whole — have earned him an Exemplary Service Award from the Alberta Occupational Health Nurses Association (AOHNA).
“It was very nice to receive that kind of external recognition,” Webster says. “I think it speaks to the university’s commitment to occupational health and safety and the continued support of the health surveillance programs.”
The award was presented at the annual Canadian Occupational Health Nurses Conference, where Webster also presented on his successes and learnings at UCalgary to other occupational health nurses — including the significance of networking, mentorship and self-care.
“It’s important to share our work because the occupational health nursing field is growing and changing, and we want to be a supportive network for our colleagues at other institutions, as well as our workplaces,” Webster says.
Small team with big dreams
Webster is one of three occupational health nurses on campus. But despite their small size, this team has moved the health-and-wellness needle in our campus community with their initiatives and programs:
- The Immunization Program helps employees track their immunization records, ensure their occupationally required immunizations are up to date, and access on-campus flu vaccinations every fall. On-campus vaccinations programs like UCalgary’s prove that removing barriers, like the need to take time from work to travel to a vaccination site, can increase the number of vaccinated people on campus — translating to healthier employees and fewer sick days.
- The Audiometric Program looks at early detection and prevention of occupational hearing loss in areas where there is potential for overexposure to noise. Common program participants are employees at the heating and cooling plant and maintenance crew members who regularly work with loud machinery.
- The Respiratory Protection Program focuses on the health impacts of inhalation of contaminants for employees such as maintenance staff and researchers in areas like Nursing, Vet Med and Chemistry.
Along with these already successful health and safety programs, Webster says his team is working on a holistic integration of these programs into the onboarding process for new faculty, staff, researchers and postdoctoral scholars.
“We want to make people as aware as possible of all the programs we offer to make sure everyone is getting the best information, the best care and the best support so they can stay healthy, be protected and maintain productivity,” Webster says.
Learn more about how UCalgary is supporting your occupational health and safety.