Meet your Safety Superheroes: Judy Shields, Occupational Health Coordinator
Learn more about the Occupational Health Coordinator at the University of Manitoba
Similar to superheroes, the safety officers at the University of Manitoba also work to save the day!
Get to know the safety professionals in your Environmental Health and Safety (EHS) office. We’re spilling the “safe-tea” with these safety heroes to learn about their career path and the rewards and challenges of their role.
Introducing Judy Shields, the Occupational Health Coordinator in Environmental Health and Safety. You may have met her during an ergonomic assessment at your work station or assessing other safety claims. She is responsible for any health-related issues that may affect staff, including assessing ergonomics and health and safety concerns, managing Workers Compensation Board claims, and reviewing medical surveillance forms. Judy also oversees programs pertaining to the designated First Aid training, post-exposure protocols and for the University’s automated external defibrillator.
How did you come to this career/position?
It was actually a happy accident! I began my career in a traditional nursing role, first in Winnipeg and then in Vancouver after graduating from the Faculty of Nursing at the U of M. After moving back to Manitoba, I obtained a position with a nursing agency that helped me make some valuable occupational health connections. It was through one of these new contacts that I was offered a nursing position with New Flyer Industries, which eventually led to me completing a certification in occupational health nursing from Grant McEwan College. After New Flyer, I worked as an Occupational Health Nurse in a different industries before my current position at the U of M. Working in a variety of diverse workplaces has helped me develop valuable skills that have been critical in my current role.
Name something rewarding and challenging in your position.
The most rewarding part comes from the diversity of services offered by EHS. As I’m responsible for occupational health issues that affect all the programs within EHS, I also get to collaborate with staff from all our different safety programs. This keeps my job really interesting, and allows me to keep learning new things! The challenging part of my position might be how unpredictable each day can be; appointments sometimes need to be rescheduled, as I can get called to do consultations or follow ups for injuries that are time-dependent…but it’s also nice to always be busy!
What might be others be surprised to know about what you do?
My nursing background plays a huge role in my day-to-day activities as the occupational health coordinator. I often reference medical/nursing resources, I cross-reference treatments or assist staff in accessing health specialists. It’s been rewarding to use my health care background in a field seemingly far from where I started in nursing.
Superhero you most identify with and why:
I like Xena the warrior princess, since she is a great representative for female empowerment, but I have always been partial to Batman because he relies on his intelligence to sort out challenges, not on actual superpowers.
You can reach Judy at judy [dot] shields [at] umanitoba [dot] ca or at 204-474-6438
To find out more about Judy’s program visit the Occupational Health and Workers Compensation webpage.