Developing a Canadian work disability standard for paramedics with post-traumatic stress injury

Reasons for the study

The prevention and management of workplace disability is a significant challenge for paramedic services, especially when it involves post-traumatic stress injury (PTSI). PTSI is a non-clinical term that encompasses a range of mental health injuries, including some operational stress injuries, clinically diagnosed post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety and depression. The effects of PTSI go beyond paramedics and workplaces, often significantly affecting members of paramedics' families and communities, as well.

Designed to address several recommendations from a House of Commons discussion in October 2016 on supporting public safety officers, this project will develop, promote and disseminate a Canadian standard and related tools on work disability prevention in paramedic services, The standard and tools will be designed to prevent and manage work disability associated with PTSI among paramedics, prevent psychological harm from workplace exposures, and build the capacity of paramedic services to address the psychological health and well-being of paramedics.

Objectives of the study

  • Synthesize evidence on work disability management systems in the peer-reviewed and grey literatures to help inform the development of a Canadian standard on work disability prevention in paramedic services
  • Undertake a needs assessment of paramedic organizations in the area of work disability management and prevention of PTSIĀ and other mental health conditions
  • Develop, promote and disseminate a nationally applicable Canadian standard on work disability prevention in paramedic services
  • Develop guidance and tools to facilitate uptake of the standard in paramedic organizations across Canada

Target audience

The proposed standard and related tools are expected to provide an innovative approach to systematically preventing and managing PTSIs, by addressing it in a strategic, coordinated and broad organizational management framework, in contrast to the ad-hoc, piecemeal approaches that are commonplace. Although the standard is designed to provide guidance to paramedic organizations across Canada, it will also be of value to other first responder organizations, such as police forces, firefighters and military personnel. The standard will be designed to be integrated with other related frameworks, including CSA Z1003.1 Paramedic Psychological Health and Safety in the Workplace, a standard focused on primary prevention that is currently under development.

Project status


Research team

  • Emile Tompa, Institute for Work & Health (PI)
  • Amin Yazdani, Conestoga College (PI)
  • Sabrina Imam, Institute for Work & Health
  • Emma Irvin, Institute for Work & Health
  • Dwayne Van Eerd, Institute for Work & Health
  • Nicki Islic, CSA Group
  • Ron Meyers, CSA Group

Collaborators and partners

Conestoga College
CSA Group
Country of Renfrew Paramedic Services
Paramedic Chiefs of Canada
Paramedic Association of Canada

Funded by

Commissioned by The County of Renfrew with funding from Defence Research and Development Canada, Centre for Security Science (DRDC CSS) under Canadian Safety and Security Program (CSSP). Views expressed do not necessarily reflect those of DRDC CSS/CSSP.