David Bland Memorial Award
The David Bland Memorial Award was established by the HSA Board of Directors in 2007. It recognizes HSA members who have championed a local occupational health and safety issue, with their leadership making a difference in the lives of their colleagues.
The award honours David Bland, a vocational rehabilitation counselor from Richmond Mental Health who was murdered at his workplace by a former client in 2005. His death galvanized the health care sector around exposing the need to step up the work on preventing violence in the workplace.
2022 Recipient - Alexandra Thomson
Alexandra Thomson is a diagnostic electroneurophysiology technologist at Vancouver General Hospital who received the David Bland Award for her advocacy for updated policies and procedures that emphasize the health and safety of HSA members. For example, she helped to ban a product from use inside a lab where it was causing allergic reactions and sensitivities to the technologists. She also helped advocate for a ventilation system that extracts fumes and creates a safer work environment. In addition to physical safety, she was a strong advocate for a scheduling change that allowed for consecutive days off and a chance for members to get a proper mental health rest. Her colleagues also appreciate that Alexandra promotes transparency and has supported them in many ways as both a steward and a member of the OH&S Committee.
2021 Recipient - Kent Desrochers
Kent DesRochers is a RPN in Mental Health and Substance Use at St. Paul's Hospital, where he is well-respected for his skill and commitment in leadership, social justice, and health and safety. Kent's colleagues particularly appreciate his efforts with assessing and communicating safety risks associated with potential violence in the workplace. He has also been instrumental in ensuring staff on his unit receive appropriate training in Non-Violent Crisis Intervention. Kent’s commitment to health and safety goes beyond the doors of the unit, as Kent has developed new referral forms and worked with social workers on discharges for clients to designated community centres.
2020 Recipient - Christine Ambrose
Christine Ambrose has displayed an outstanding commitment to increasing physical and psychological health and safety across her chapter at the Queen Alexandra Centre for Children’s Health (QACCH), where she works as a supported child development consultant. Ambrose is a long-time labour activist with HSA, and currently serves as OH&S steward, co-chair of the Joint Occupational Health and Safety (JOHS) Committee, chief steward, member-at-large, and Victoria Labour Council delegate.
With hard work and dedication, Ambrose has advocated for her co-workers on a variety of complex OH&S issues, including workplace violence and physical environment hazards. Her collaborative and strategic approach has resulted in tangible gains at her worksite, including the creation of a JOHS subcommittee at Ledger House In-patient Child and Youth Mental Health Program. This step forward has created the space for HSA members in the program to be actively involved in the prevention and mitigation of occupational health and safety risks unique to their program.
2019 Recipient - Shai Lal
Shai Lal works at the BC Cancer Agency (Vancouver) as a cytotechnologist, where he serves on the Occupational Health & Safety Committee. In addition to his focus on workplace safety, Shai is also an advocate for bringing awareness to the importance of mental health in his workplace. Shai's colleagues appreciate the positive changes that he has made, and his devotion to creating a safe and healthy work environment.
2018 RECIPIENT - LINDA BESSANT
Linda Bessant of Victoria works as a children's support worker at the Victoria Women's Transition House Society, and has served in the union as an OH&S steward for more than 10 years. She is a longstanding Joint OH&S Committee member. In this role, she works to keep the committee accountable, ensuring that all employer representatives realize the importance of documenting incidents, and that reports are shared among committee members in a timely manner. She is currently working on a risk assessment tool for staff who are working alone.
2017 RECIPIENT - Brenda Hauck and Karen Hamilton
Brenda Hauck, X ray technologist at Saanich Peninsula Hospital was nominated by her coworkers and Karen Hamilton, CT Technologist at Saanich Peninsula Hospital was nominated by her coworkers. Both of these women have been working together on improving safety for their coworkers - Brenda has been on regional safety committees and working on getting a spider alert system installed at her work site. Karen has advocated for members regarding workload related injuries and according to her coworkers she has worked on the frontline to ensure the changes are implemented.
2016 RECIPIENT - ALLEN PETERS
Allen Peters made a decision more than 27 years ago to become active in health and safety and has been carrying on that work ever since. This has been in addition to his job as a Medical Radiation Technologist at Nicola Valley General Hospital, as an environmental activist and as a deeply involved union member.
In 2009, Allen was awarded the David Bland Award in particular for his role as a health and safety educator for OHSAH (The Occupational Health and Safety Agency for Healthcare in BC), which he carried out from the time OHSAH was established in 1999 until it was dismantled by the provincial government in 2010.
When OHSAH was disbanded and Allen’s education role there ended his commitment to health and safety continued. Since then he has continued to represent the union on the Interior Health Regional Violence Prevention Committee and his workplace joint occupational health and safety committee. As Allen moves towards a much deserved retirement, he will also be ending his latest term as Chairperson of HSA’s Provincial OH&S Committee.
Over these many years of activism Allen has mentored countless HSA members who have taken up the fight for workplace safety. Thanks in large part to Allen’s efforts and the groundwork he has laid, those members are now better equipped to take on roles as workplace health and safety leaders and to continue on with Allen’s work and the work of others.
2015 Recipient - VICTORIA ECHO LAB WORKING GROUP
Three HSA members who have shown leadership and dedication in their ongoing efforts to reduce injury rates among co-workers in Victoria -- Carol Petersen, Clare Langley, and Bernadette Gonzales -- have helped make a real difference for cardiac sonographers who are at an extremely high risk of work-related injuries. As HSA's representatives on the Victoria Echo Lab Working Group, they are helping to gather evidence about worker injuries and are making recommendations to improve ergonomic practices for cardiac sonographers.
Carol Petersen has worked as a diagnostic medical sonographer in Victoria since 1990. In her spare time she enjoys outdoor activities including running and skiing. She has been an OHS steward for a little more than a year and this month was elected as the co-chair of the Royal Jubilee Hospital Joint Occupational Health and Safety Committee. Carol is the co-chair of the Victoria Echo Lab Working Group.
Bernadette Gonzales has worked as a cardiac sonographer for the past 22 years, including ten with the Vancouver Island Health Authority. Spending quality time with her family helps her maintain a work-life balance. Representing co-workers on the Echo Lab Working Group is Bernadette's first experience as a union activist.
Clare Langley, the third recipient of the David Bland award has been a cardiac sonographer for the past 15 years and her work with the Echo Lab Working Group is her first union involvement.
For many months, these members have been meeting regularly with their co-workers, managers and Vancouver Island Health Authority representatives to ensure that best practices are engaged in all aspects of the work carried out in the cardiac echo labs of the Royal Jubilee and Victoria General Hospitals.
Calling upon years of experience in their profession, their dedicated efforts on behalf of their co-workers and their union helps maintain HSA's reputation as a leader in health and safety among health care unions in BC.
2014 Recipient - HEATHER SAPERGIA
Heather Sapergia is a medical laboratory technologist at the University Hospital of Northern BC in Prince George, outgoing Region 10 Director, and member of the HSA occupational health and safety committee.
Heather has been an HSA activist for many years and has played key roles in all levels of the union including time spent as a general steward, OHS steward, and chief steward. Heather has been active with many HSA committees, has served as a labour council delegate, a constituency liaison and since 2008 Heather has been the HSA Director for Region 10.
Her efforts in support of safer workplaces has helped maintain the HSA's reputation as a leader in health and safety among healthcare unions in BC. Heather Sapergia has dedicated a large part of her life to making all of our workplaces safer and because of that commitment, HSA is honoured to recognize her with the 2014 David Bland award.
2013 Recipient - Larry Bryan
Larry Bryan is a registered psychiatric nurse at Haro Park Centre in Vancouver.
Larry has been an HSA activist for many years and has played key roles in in all levels of the union. Since 2008 he has represented this union on the Provincial Violence Prevention Steering Committee. The purpose of this Violence Prevention Committee has been to develop and oversee the implementation of a comprehensive violence prevention strategy for health care worksites all over British Columbia. The committee is made up of representatives from health employers, unions and WorkSafeBC.
Larry recognized the role of worker education in reducing injuries caused by violence. He became an active contributor in the development of a province wide anti violence curriculum consisting of eight on line and five classroom modules.
That curriculum is now used across the province in all Health Authorities. Larry continues his tireless efforts with the Provincial Violence Prevention Steering Committee to make sure that the training curriculum remains current and relevant and that all healthcare workers across the province have full access to that training.
Just imagine the value of one injury being prevented. And then stop to imagine – that thanks to these modules that Larry helped develop and implement, countless injuries have been prevented all across BC.
2012 Recipients - Tasha Johnson and Tonia Cherris
The 2012 David Bland Award was presented to registered psychiatric nurses Tasha Johnson and Tonia Cherris, on behalf of all registered psychiatric nurses at the Psychiatric Intensive Care Unit at Royal Jubilee Hospital.
"When the Vancouver Island Health Authority constructed a new patient care centre they believed that a new building would take care of the risk of violence in the new Psychiatric Intensive Care Unit," said HSA President Reid Johnson. "The employees knew otherwise. They knew that the unit was ill-conceived with respect to its layout, lack of safety protections, communications, and policies and procedures. They knew old unworkable processes were simply being moved to a new building."
Tasha Johnson spearheaded a letter-writing campaign to the health authority's CEO, who responded by participating in a tour and agreeing to delay construction for nine months while concerns were addressed. As an HSA member who had never previously been involved in any mobilization Tasha Johnson became a spokesperson and the conscience of the initiative, while safety steward Tonia Cherris took on the unenviable task of holding the employer's feet to fire when the predictable' quick fix' or 'hurry up' attitude was presented. Tonia's work ensured that the bureaucracy did not take over this project.
"The tireless work and very long hours spent by these two courageous women on behalf their co-workers changed the way this employer did business," said Reid Johnson. "Without their efforts, this site would undoubtedly still be, as titled by WCB, the most dangerous in BC."
2011 Recipient - Llaesa North
A physiotherapist at the Prince George Child Development Centre – could see that a colleague was likely at risk due to a health condition which could affect her driving safely. Their employer did not fully comprehend nor act on the risk to this employee and others, and North tirelessly spearheaded efforts to have this situation resolved. Tragically, the colleague died in a car accident.
Following this tragedy, North turned her efforts to ensuring that such a situation would not occur again.
With HSA's support and mobilization of her coworkers a process started in which the employer was made to revamp policies and procedures, and workers now are more of aware of their rights. Communication of risk of injury, in all facets of the workplace, became the norm and is a legacy.
2010 Recipient – Shannon Breeze
According to Workers Compensation Board data, the Eric Martin Pavilion in Victoria is one of the most dangerous worksites in the province. Registered psychiatric nurse Shannon Breeze has been calling attention to the need for better measure to protect against violent incidents there.
One of her colleagues praised Shannon's courage and dedication. "Shannon's positive attitude, tenacity and spirit – along with her tireless work to support and encourage all coworkers, even those represented by other unions – has helped begin the process towards change at our workplace," said Johanna Lisakowski, a colleague whose words were read during the awards ceremony at HSA's annual general convention.
"Whenever a violent incident ocurred, Shannon would give us the courage to fill out the incident reports, and then would follow up to make sure investigations were happening. Many times, we got negative reactions from managers, but Shannon would always keep in touch with the member, accompany them to all the necessary meetings, and advocate on their behalf, at times even coming under fire herself from managers."
2009 Recipient – Allen Peters
A dramatic incident can be a great wake-up call, says Allen, but ensuring workplace safety is an ongoing, everyday process. "We need to continue to be vigilant, to stay informed, and to make sure programs are in place and people are accountable for their actions."
Allen has been doing just that for the last 20 years. It was a dramatic incident that motivated him to get involved in occupational health and safety activism.
"What started the whole ball rolling for me was the day I lost one of my co-workers in my department. It happened in a split second." The co-worker was injured while assisting a patient off an x-ray table and ended up on long-term disability.
Allen participated on HSA's OH&S Committee when he was a Member at Large for Region 8 and then went on to serve as co-chair for the Thompson Regional Joint Committee for Occupational Health and Safety.
Allen has worked in virtually all positions possible in our health and safety structure. These days he is perhaps best known around BC as an educator for the Occupational Health and Safety Agency for Healthcare in BC, a volunteer job he has been doing since the OHSAH program was established in 1999.
2008 Recipient – Jackie Spain
Jackie is a former member of the union's board of directors and over the years developed a passion for occupational health and safety issues into more than just a passion, but a second career. A lab technologist at Golden Hospital, she is also the coordinator and a facilitator for the B.C. Federation of Labour's Health and Safety project for the East and West Kootenays.
On her own initiative, she became a local expert on the issue of the transportation of dangerous goods. Her commitment to the issue was recognized by the Occupational Health and Safety Agency for Health Care, which took her off the job to teach employees throughout the province the necessary skills to safely transport dangerous goods.
As chair of the union's OHS committee for five terms, she raised such key issues as chemical exposure, ergonomics, workplace stress, including the effect of on-call on health care workers. Within her own profession, Jackie also advocates on health and safety issues on provincial and national lab committees.
2007 Recipient – Bev Banfield
After years of complaints about incineration fumes and other air quality concerns in the laboratory, one of her colleagues was diagnosed with cancer. Then another. And another. And yet another.
Bev knew she had to act. Her efforts eventually led to the identification – and official investigation – of a cancer cluster at Mission Memorial Hospital. Her work in identifying and investigating the problem started in 2003 with a letter-writing campaign to various employer representatives. She chaired a sub-committee of the hospital's safety committee formed to dealt with the investigation and subsequent recommendations. She sorted through boxes of old hospital records, collected her own air quality samples, organized meetings between staff, management, HSA and legal advisors, and championed the issue in the media.
Bev continues to be a forceful advocate for her colleagues at Mission Memorial Hospital.